Part 29: MEek
It's time to go back to the upper path, as there's still an entire branch we haven't begun to explore. That said, I'm going to skip like 2/3 of the summary now, since none of the choices made up to the second vote are different- We make the choices to get Ira executed in the first vote, and then we make the choices to get Gula executed in the second. You know the drill by now. Starting right after Gula's death:
After the vote, Tristitia pulls a gun on Luxuria, accusing them of being the mastermind (as their portrait was also switched), but when the others point out Superbia and Ancora's were also switched, he backs off. However, he still insists that the rest of the group move out ahead of him, and the group uncomfortably makes their way to the last third of the ward, where they split up to explore. While split up, Avaritia pulls Ancora aside to thank her for exposing Gula's meddling and, thus, saving her. In turn, Ancora forms a plan with Luxuria to ambush Tristitia while he's unprepared and knock him out; however, when they attempt to execute the ambush, Avaritia accidentally throws a wrench into their plans, leaving Superbia in Tristitia's crosshair...
Ancora only had a split moment to act. She could let things take their course and leave Superbia to die... which wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, since she was one of the weakest links of the group... Or she could shove the girl out of the way of the bullet to protect her.
And so, Ancora...
Well, it's basically our fault she's about to die, so the least we can do is try to save her.
Ancor had to act. This wasn't the real plan; the real plan was to get Tristitia, not Superbia. She moved forward all of a sudden, tackling the rabbit-themed girl out of the way of the gun.
An explosion came from that body as the helmet disintegrated, taking with it the girl's head and knocking everyone back. It could only be described as morbid; the morbid result of Ancora's choice.
What the hell is happening?
Tristitia couldn't understand, taken aback by the strange development. This caused him to drop his guard for only a little bit too much. That's when Ancora leaped from Superbia, right into his legs. Avaritia had taken a step back, and she was now watching as the bear-themed girl knocked the male down to his back, causing his helmet to smack into the floor. It seemed that act knocked him out, and Ancora grabbed the revolver as planned.
That could have been less messy. At least, we've got a death now, but it's a pretty big loss- manner of speaking.
While Ancora stood up, her gaze, through the helmet's cameras, was fixated upon the corpse of the sweet, small girl. The dead body would haunt her thoughts for the next hours- perhaps even days or weeks. It was a thing, no longer a person. She then looked at the group and shelved the gun into her right boot to use it as a holster.
No pockets, huh. Picking that outfit might have been a mistake.
I wanted to avoid this...
Ancora grimly made her regrets known. She came to sit down against a wall, closing her legs to her chest and holding them with her arms.
But I guess no matter what I do, I always end up with a big mess, huh?
Well, it's not really that bad... But now, how is the split going to work with only four participants, one of which is unconscious?
What a waste. At least this deals with one issue; namely, the required amount of ME-cards.
She walked forward to pilfer the one Luxuria had. In the same movement, she also took the strange, ornate key the smaller one also held.
I don't think she cares anymore. And besides, we don't have a choice, Miss Proper. If we don't get these things, we're done.
Ancora didn't care.
Almost as if to answer that thought, a fifth figure made itself known.
Hey, look, your boyfriend's back.
It was Invidia. He arrived, pausing a moment as he noticed the unconscious Tristitia, then resumed his walk towards the group. It seemed as though he judged no matter what happened, there was no time to waste, and he was right.
But where have you been?
I said no questions. ...Alright, fine. I'll give a few pointers about what I've been up to. I have a ME-card still. I'm not dead. The room I was in was separated from the others. It's used to escape this place, probably. No, it doesn't work yet. We need all of those nine strange keys.
Ancora nodded, while he went on in a thoughtful spiel. On the side, Superbia was definitely holding back from hounding him.
If we'd been back five hours ago, Superbia would've definitely flown into a fit of rage. Good for her that she can hold back so easily now.
So we really need to solve those rooms, too. Something's wrong, still...
You mean about the count of ME-cards? Yes, you're correct; we're so far off the count of ME-cards that we have to collect, yet we only have this section and one hour left.
No, less than an hour. I hate to admit it, but Vidi's right. We have no time for this, and I don't want to panic and die...
Correct to all of that. I think we should hurry and solve the next rooms as soon as possible. We're almost ten past the hour. What are our teams looking like?
The real question was... who?
I should go alone. Ava and Bia, you're fairly smart... well, more for Ava than Bia...
This cost him some points, as Superbia was about to bitch up a storm again, yet he continued with a complete disregard for her.
So you two should be grouped with someone who's more on-level with the solving of these rooms. I'm confident I can take on one of these rooms alone.
Ancora didn't feel like that was a good idea. If anything, she was the one who could do this, not him.
It would be a lot easier if I could do it on my own. I already know the answers and all.
I refuse. I'm going alone.
Are you insane? This fucker wanted to kill me!
She pushed the horse-themed boy's body with the tip of her foot.
Going with him is like asking for a death sentence!
No, he won't harm you. I'm pretty sure of that. He doesn't have the revolver he used to kill Lux anymore, right?
Invidia pointed at Ancora's boot, having noticed it.
How do you know... that?
I guess it's not that hard to put together.
Okay, fine... that makes sense.
As an added bonus with this setup, we also keep Cora alone. No offense, but I bet others might feel uncomfortable if they were in the room with someone who had a revolver ready to fire at a moment's notice...
Ah, I see. There's logic behind her going alone this time, then.
There was no way Ancora would leave the revolver to anybody, so this was the simplest solution. In the end, it was agreed the teams would go the way Invidia suggested.
What about this guy? Am I supposed to pull this lardass over on my own?!
Ugh... nnghh... I am not a lardass...
The boy came awake, slowly pulling himself up. Immediately, everyone stood on their guards. No one made any movement to help him.
Don't worry. I can see when I'm outmatched. I'm not going to be mediating for peace anymore. I understand you've all been planning this against me for a while now.
Shut it, save it for later. Bia, I will trust you for this room, but after it, we need to have a long talk.
A first for her.
Let's go then, Trist.
The two of them walked to the corner, then vanished to take the room furthest away. Avaritia and Invidia looked at each other, then at both rooms accessible close by.
Which one do you want?
Does it matter?
Apparently, it didn't. The two of them waved goodbye to Ancora and vanished inside of the one slightly further away, which left Ancora the closest one. After casting another glance inside of the doorway where Luxuria's body was visible, Ancora went towards the other room.
Alone, for once. That's new. At least things will be infinitely simpler now. I won't need to hide.
Hmm, this room seems familiar for some reason...
Before she could explore much of anything, her vision shut down. The door locked at the same moment, trapping the girl and preventing her escape until she unlocked it again.
BGM: ME Mori
Let's drop all the pretenses, shall we? Ancora, since you're here alone, this is your penultimate test.
Wait, this isn't what I recorded.
In this room, you'll have to solve something that is very important to you. You don't know it yet, but it is of the most vital importance. The question for you is...
You can think of the answer by mulling it over, or you can solve the room. While the answer should be simple if you think about it, solving this room will safeguard the future itself. I don't need to tell you what happens if you break the time limit, but I will anyway.
You'll die, much like the rest of them. There will be no surrendering of rights: you will merely, cleanly, completely, and inexorably die.
If all goes well, this is the last time I will be contacting you like this. Everything has been built to lead to this moment. Don't disappoint me, we have now reached a 50% chance of success.
This isn't what was prepared. Someone tampered with the setting, and there's no doubt about it by now, if there even was any left: there's a usurper somewhere. Is it the traitor, or someone else?
That was really strange... But I guess I have no choice. What are the keys...?
Looking at the long room containing a strange table, Ancora mulled it over. After only a minute, she decided to instead investigate the room.
There's no helping it. This time, I'll need to invest myself much more. Someone's usurped me, and I don't like that, not one bit.
That's right, since we're by ourselves, the only person we can talk to is, well, ourselves. The dialogue option is to muse about the room itself.
Since I'm here alone, I guess I can think aloud... I feel like there's something inherently wrong about this room... Like something's not meant to be like it is.
It's probably because this room wasn't meant to be like this in the first place. To begin with, this room was supposed to have a name, and finding that name was the subject. ME just straight up told us the name, but I didn't record that. Instead it's about the keys? Now that I think about it, even those keys are suspicious...
There are zodiac signs, all twelve of them. I can note down the order if I look at them more closely. There's also a safe underneath them. I guess it'll unlock when... when what?
Ahh... All this is confusing me for once. And there's something digging at the back of my head, like this room is supposed to mean something... So far it seems like every room might have a connection with everyone, but whose room is this? Is this supposed to be mine? I don't get it.
And doubly so, because, of all people here, I should know about what's going on, and I don't. The evidence is piling up to point towards a usurper... Is it the traitor?
This room gives me the creeps. Back to the search...
Yeah, let's get to it. First things first, I'm gonna check out the globe in the center.
The dome is a little transparent, though. I can sort of see symbols at the bottom... and some numbers? I don't know how they add up- it's too hard to see.
Next, the bookshelf.
Wow, bookshelves. Why does every room here have bookshelves? And most of them are useless, too. Thankfully, this one looks easier to search for once.
She pulled a piece of paper out from between two books. Upon unfolding it, she read its contents, rather confused by them.
It says... Half 2 = 4R 2L. But half two equates to one... I don't get this.
If I had to guess, it's just half of the full picture. Should try combining that with something else later.
This is strange. I hope I don't have to flip through them for the answer.
She picked one up at random titled Complete Study of Noematics. She flipped through the pages, noting that it, indeed, was a real book this time around, unlike the previous bookshelves that contained plastic copies at best.
The brain... Yeah, I don't get any of this. Just gonna put it back on the shelves. So many books in here, I don't even know where to start. To begin with, I don't like reading that much anyway... Think I'll just leave them here.
Some of those books probably are worth a real fortune, though. Some of them look pretty old... Yellow pages, and I'm not talking about the titular phone book- these have been yellowed by time.
Ancora took a look under the bookshelves too, finding yet another item.
Two pieces of paper in the same location? That's lazy... Anyway, this one associates Gemini to 12, Cancer to 5, Leo to 1, and Libra to 8.
There's a little pillar stand in the corner with a chest on it.
Apparently, it's five colors long... And it's on a white pedestal.
Might have better chances figuring this one out by going to the other room.
Before we do that, we still have stuff to look at in here- like the zodiac plates on the wall.
From left to right, those zodiac signs are... Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces, I think. I like how the first ones are more literal, but it gets much more abstract after a while.
Anyway, some letters are highlighted, too...
For reference, since you can't look at the inventory item yourself to see which letters are lit up, here's what the letters are (the lit ones will be capitalized): aRies, tAurus, geMini, caNcer, Leo, virGo, librA, Scorpio, sagittArius, capricorN, Aquarius, and pIsces.
Blindly adding all of those letters together doesn't do anything. There's another process to it, surely.
There's obviously nothing for us to do with the safe yet, we just started exploring. Same goes for the door we just came in from. The light switch on the wall turns the lights on and off, but we have no reason to do that yet. Thus, all that's left is the weird panel on the wall...
There's a keypad here with a bunch of numbers. I can try entering some stuff, let's see what happens...
This was here before, I remember that. This kind of keypad takes four inputs, nothing more and nothing less. That means funny numbers such as 1337 are all game. Of course, whatever the number is, it won't be so simple. One good way would be to start from 0000, then 0001, then 0002... but we don't have that kind of time.
Ancora tried to input something, but the keyboard gave a sharp beep as its only answer. Again and again, she tried number after number, to no avail.
0000 doesn't work... Neither does 1337, 5555, 6969, 8008, or 9001. Guess I'm out of options.
I could have sworn I knew what the code to it was, but... it's like I forgot all about it. I just can't think of it, even if I try really hard.
That's everything in this room for the moment, so we should check out the other room now.
First order of business is rooting around in all these planters, starting with the one in the middle of the room.
Some beautiful flowers are here. I wish I could have those flowers at home. Maybe the other guys won't mind if I grab them and take them with me before leaving. If... we ever leave. Anyway...
Ancora crouched down while examining the flowers to count them, figuring this may be a part of the solution to this duo of rooms.
There's a row of seven red flowers... three white flowers... four blue flowers... and six green flowers. Altogether, that's exactly twenty flowers. I don't think this helps me very much. Maybe it's not the total amount of flowers that's important. If it's the color, though... I'm glad I'm here, and not a certain someone else from My Emptiness.
This room has a strange obsession with colors, despite being about nature, which is mainly green.
I still want to bring them home. The flowers, not the grass. I'll leave that part to my sister.
Nothing else to look at, so instead, let's look at the wall planter closest to the door.
Not that you know any drugs, Ancora. Stop acting like you've taken any. It's not cool.
But anyway, those plants are very peculiar... They climb on walls and form random shapes, it seems. It's kinda hard to make out anything on the wall, but... the ceiling has more answers. One of the plants is forming the word KILL at the top. Next to it are LEO and PISCES... I hope we don't have to kill anybody to get out of this room.
Yeah, if that's the case, then whoever enters here alone would be stuck. I don't think even the person who usurped this game would do that. Speaking of, I have my own theory on that, but I'll think about it later, after this deduction room is over.
Ancora touched the plants to see if they were real. Indeed, they were and in fact, very much alive too. These things must've been grown recently.
How fast can plants like these grow, though...? You can't do that overnight. This room must have been prepared in advance. And tehre's something about it that really unsettles me...
Next, the wall planter in the middle.
They even write some words... There's SCORPIO from this climbing plant. It's kind of hard to make out, due to the ceiling; I have to look at it under a certain angle...
The girl had been rotating a little, trying to see all of that. There were no other words than those written by the three planters in that corner of the room, though. From yet another angle, something caught her eye.
Huh, there's something behind the climbing plant... It's a piece of paper. I didn't even notice it before, because it's rolled up and hidden there. On it, there are some symbols with numbers...
Pisces is 2, Aquarius is 3, Sagittarius is 6, and Taurus is 11, apparently.
Ancora took the paper with her to keep alongside all the objects that could be carried around.
That leaves us with just the last wall planter, on the right.
She turned around some, trying to find the right angle to read the other one, since it was all jumbled up on the ceiling.
And the other says... CAPRICORN. Libra and Capricorn, then. This is all so mysterious and weird. Who'd have expected a greenhouse to be here? Not me, that's for sure.
Yeah, and this had been planned before. This room is nothing I was going to do. Is it my aide...? Did he take over, somehow? The guy who helped me by programming all these funny puzzles... No, can't be. That's just not possible. Not even he would have the kind of wealth needed to do this modification, and without my knowledge most of all.
All that's left is the strange mosaic and words on the wall.
This gives me the chills. That weird portrait with shapes...
Why is it so frightening? I don't even know myself. It's there, and it... stares at me. It's just a bunch of colors, though. There's nothing special about it. It's as if it was put there just to tease. Have I seen these colors before...?
Left to right, they are purple, red, blue, purple, and blue. But wait, there's another arrow on top, and it's white. In reverse, it's... well, it's just the reverse. I wonder what that's all about. Guess I'll keep all of that in mind.
No, maybe a number?
Even if that's the case, how are we meant to decode it? Each side has four words, so if it's for the keypad in the first room... is it that simple? Somehow, I doubt it.
Now that we've looked at everything in this room, we need to make a quick return to the stars room to re-examine the chest on the pedestal.
I'm not even sure what that expression means.
Inside the chest is... just another goddamn paper! On it is written Half 1 = 1L 3R. But half one is 0.5, not one L three R. None of this makes sense right now.
Feels like that's not the whole picture. Or the whole paper, as it is. Should try combining that with something else later.
From here, we have all the things we need to start solving the room in full, so now's a good place to pause if you wanna try and sleuth it out yourself. ...Though you probably already have a pretty good idea of where to start.
To progress, we need to first put the two slips of paper together; they're obviously meant to be taken as one whole directive. From there, it's just a matter of figuring out what the paper actually means- which should be obvious, if you've paid attention to the environment.
Use your head. Crack the code.
Even though they're jumbled in two different orders, the L and R columns are made of four colors. That might be helpful in some way.
I already messed with the flowers under that weird portrait, so I doubt those are going to be used again, but I've yet to do anything with the two orders. But even if I think about them, the code I need is made of four numbers, not eight...
From preliminary testing with the number pad, it's four numbers long, right? So then... what are the numbers, and in which order do they go?
If you haven't already figured it out, I've spoilered it to give you one more chance.
The directive tells you what colors you need, by giving you the corresponding row and column- 1L 3R 4R 2L, or red green red blue. The flowers in the center planter tell you in turn what number matches what color- 7 red flowers, 6 green flowers, and 4 blue flowers. With that, we have our answer.
Bingo. It's 7674.
Now to find a use for that number. It's got to be on that numpad pillar in the other room.
And with that, we return to the stars room to finish solving everything. Once we input the code into the wall...
Got it! Now this opened the safe, I think. Was it that easy? I still don't know what the answer to the question is... Oh! It seems to have also lit up the table in the middle of the room.
While it's tempting to go for the safe immediately, now that the table's lit we can turn off the lights!
Now that the light dome has been lit, maybe it's worth turning the lights off. It doesn't seem to be displaying anything while the lights are on.
And now, for my next magic trick, I, the Magnificent Zachary, will make the light... disappear!
The lights went out when Ancora flipped the switch, revealing patterns exposed on the ceiling.
And when we examine the table again, now that the lights are out...
Ah! I can see the light it gives onto the ceiling. There's a bunch of zodiac signs up there, with numbers next to them. Four of them are up there... There's Virgo numbered 7, Aries associated to 9, Capricorn's number is 4, and Scorpio is 10. I wonder what that's all about...
We should probably line up all of those numbers together, and follow the new pattern.
Now that we've gotten that, we can finally check out that safe
And inside of here, we have... One single ME-card! Wait, isn't that... too few? Guess I'll talk with the others over it. There's a key! Its teeth are in the shape of the letter... P! And finally, there's a piece of paper. On it is written THE SEVEN SURVIVORS. I wonder what that's all about? This whole thing is supposed to leave us with only three survivors, no?
Time was ticking, and Ancora still needed to figure out exactly what was up with this room. Having no one to talk with was certainly taxing on the poor girl.
Talking to yourself is probably not the most mentally healthy thing to do. Or so would argue many experts in this field. Remember, if you have mental issues, please consult a professional.
While closing the door, Ancora spied yet another item inside. She didn't notice it before, because... perhaps she just didn't want to acknowledge its existence, but now that she was closing the door, there was no helping it.
Son of a truck. That's the same kind of shotgun that's used in the voting segments.
I guess... I can take that with me...?
The rules said everything from the safe was fair game. Ancora closed the door and left the shotgun there for the time being, since it probably wasn't used inside this room. No, it was best used for defense- yet its appearance was nothing but trouble.
That's right, we can solve the last puzzle and escape now, so here's the other place to pause if you want to finish trying to solve it yourself first!
Well, here goes nothing. I think I have the answer...
The girl braced herself. For once, she was completely alone. There was no one else to counsel her on the answer, or to answer for her. Not that she ever let anyone else answer anyway; it just wasn't in her nature. She inhaled deeply before speaking out her mind.
Let ME out! The keys are...
To solve this puzzle, there are three parts in total you need to riddle out. The first one is somewhat straightforward- the zodiac signs spelled out in the greenhouse are the zodiac signs to discard completely (as indicated by the 'KILL' directive). Therefore, Leo, Pisces, Scorpio, Libra, and Capricorn are not a part of the solution. The second one is also somewhat straightforward- specifically, it's the highlighted letter in each sign. This tells you which letters to use to represent each sign. The third one is the different clues found around the rooms giving each zodiac sign a number. You have to put the zodiac signs in numerical order based on this third part, and then take the letters from the second part to spell out the answer, which in this case, is...
Anagram! They're an anagram!
The door's lock came undone. However, she did not leave yet. She still had quite some time ahead of her. That this was the answer brought her to think about the keys again.
An anagram, huh? How many letters do we know so far...? If we take the key teeth as being letters themselves, then we have A, P... Ahh, what were the others? I can't remember. If they're an anagram, though, that's worth considering later, when I know more of them. And, this might be a little weird to think about, but... I feel like a lot of this room just flew right by. It's as if answers were coming to me without needing to think.
After a few moments, she decided to leave this strange room behind. It had been quite an experience; a room with zodiac signs attached to a greenhouse. She found a ME-card, a key with P as its teeth, and...
A shotgun, which she took with her.