The Let's Play Archive


by woodenchicken

Part 47: Chapter Twelve - pt.5

Come to the theatre if you find the time.
We will have a conversation – it won’t be especially important, but serious enough.
Apologies in advance for the inconvenient form.

There was still time before the council that would decide the town’s fate, and Impostress headed to the town theatre to meet the authors of the letter. She wasn’t prevented from entering this time.

Mark was nowhere in sight... then she saw an executor moving on stage. Just a regular, garden-variety executor. Regular... It’s been a while since Klara had been puzzled and intimidated by those bizarre costumes. Bird masks were no longer anything out of ordinary, just part of the usual crowd.

Then another character – a mime – made an entrance from the other side of the stage. It seemed that the Impostress walked in on some kind of performance.

She watched them for a while. When it was clear that the setup was over and the two were waiting for her to come closer, she went up on the stage.

The executor addressed her first.

The real game is now between you and us. This is the official statement I have to make. I warned the previous protagonists about it too, but they started asking those questions... Boring, boring questions.

Hm... protagonists... she decided to play along.

I don’t think I can come up with anything more original... Let’s see... Why did you put me in such a position? What was that split personality trick?
That trick was much more complex than that. It was a «choosing your own destiny» trick. A logical and temporal paradox, a Moebius band of events. A supplementary, backup option. And it seems like it’s worked: Klara is now the main character of the game. Just like Sand Dirt... just like Utopia.

Main character of the game? Didn’t the children playing in the garden prefer Bachelor?

What’s the point of all this? What was this plague for?
We are carrying out a sort of experiment, you see... Inevitability worries and depresses us. We wanted to find out whether the idea of creating a sarcophagus for a miracle was really fallacious. Actually, «sarcophagus» might be a wrong word – more like a space where the miracle can always come to be.
A heretical goal! Who do you think you are?
This is why the Impostress was written as either saintly or possessed. Who would answer this... this almost religious question, better than herself?
You don’t make it sound too religious!
Can’t argue with that... Still, it’s our experiment, and we reserve the right to it.
Why Impostress?
Because Impostress. That’s the way she is. And always will be. Well, almost always, because she is the only one who has a chance to performing a miracle. Don’t miss it.
And what about the Haruspex and the Bachelor? What are they needed for?
They don’t work miracles, but each of them has a chance of being a hero in their own way... And prove or refute some tricky claims while they’re at it.
Tell me about the Bachelor.
A tempted destroyer. He could have accomplished a moral feat. The strongest and the most straightforward... Revenge and destruction are so tempting to him that it will take... a miracle... for him to reconsider.
What is this? Now you won’t let me go back and ask about the other one? Really? Even after all this trouble? I wanted to know about the Haruspex as well!
Too bad! You are not done here. A miracle hasn’t occurred yet. You would do well to remember that.
So, about the Bachelor’s solution... Is it the easiest one?
Yes, it may be the easiest decision. And the most emotional one, if you can look past the guise of cold calculation. Triple deception, gradual disillusionment, bitterness and desire for revenge upon his oppressors... Predictable stubbornness, cutting off his own nose to spite the face.
Does he at least have a chance to win against you?
That depends on what he understands. You probably had a conversation with him already. What level of enlightenment has he reached, this educated gentleman?
I don’t know.
Why don’t you ask him then? He is back at his place, as usual. He has no idea that Eva is somewhere else right now, and that they can even talk to each other...
It seems that he has been to the Inner Chamber and realised that he is a toy.
Ah... I see. In this case, he better stay out of the Cathedral and let someone else do the talking. As I already said... His trajectory has been designed in such a way that it will be very difficult for him to give up on his own solution. Unless it’s by stupidity... but we won’t take that into consideration.
Oh yeah? And who the hell are you to decide which choice is free and which one is not, in advance? There is no exit from this loop! It will last forever as long as you’re here.
That is why we initially planned our beloved Impostress to be pure destruction. Of everything. Including us, of course... You know this philosophy, don’t you? Truth as liberation... Ephemeralities, all that stuff...? The wheel of transformation?
Nonsense. I don’t believe any of it.
I am glad to hear that.
So what should I do?
We suppose that this paradox has an exit... It’s all theoretical though. Hint: out of the three, this one is just for you. Why?
I shall answer this question soon.
All of our effort will have paid off if you will!
Still, I want a clue. If my invariant is really like this – then what’s so different about me?
Well, first you have to tell us how much you already understand, ducky.
I understand everything. I understand that there’s nobody here except you and me, though you two have actually left this place long ago. What I’m seeing before me are merely pale shadows of the real you.
That’s not true... We left behind a function, not a constant, after all...
Will you stop it with the fancy words? I’m having trouble following you.
Is that the Impostress talking? You’ve really gotten into this role, haven’t you?
I’m just kidding.
Speak to my colleague. He is your invariant. Not Impostress’ – Yours.

Who did he think he was talking to? His words implied that he was talking directly to a player that was «playing» the part of «Impostress».

Wait. I want to know what kind of miracle I can perform! You do swear that it is real, don’t you?
...Do you really want to know what it is? Because I can totally tell you. Careful! I mean it.
Yes, tell me.
Well... we initially wanted to end things in destruction, but then we quickly threw together another ending... the one with the sacrifice. We never planned for this, to be honest. We just didn’t have the time to think it through.

The other thespian decided to join the conversation.

Well... Now you know everything about us. You’ve made it this far, which means you are already much more powerful than we are...

She decided to ask about her «part».

Who was the girl that was born in the grave? The one that was the first to raise her hands?
She really was designed as a disease, an instrument of the Law... but she was also born a thief. Upon being born, she got an opportunity to become something else. After stealing the fate of a miracle-worker, this girl – this embodiment of the plague – entered this world.

Klara tried to imagine what it would be like to play a part in a stage performance, but without knowing the script in advance, then learning that you were actually playing a villain from the beginning. She imagined it would be unpleasant, even if you didn’t take the show close to heart.

And the sister... Did she really exist?
Of course, not. The same person sang in two voices. You made her yourself, don’t you remember? When you lied...
Are you serious? I saw her, spoke to her.
Well, and now you are speaking to us... Or do you? Whom am I actually speaking to?
Me, Impostress!

The man whistled.

Oh, then I guess it cannot be helped. You don’t need our help; you need help of a medical professional... This is really too bad.

Right. Klara had forgotten that those two considered the world to be their stage. To them, she was merely a...

A player! I’m a player!
Then you shouldn’t be surprised when you occasionally see Klara in third person, should you?
Wait! Here’s an important question. Who is she – the twin? The one that doesn’t exist?
Since she was invented by the plague bearer who wanted to avoid persecution, she is really a saint and a wonder-worker.

But that was a little deterministic, wasn’t it? By the time the second sister was invented, the original had already stolen a new, benevolent identity.

What choice can there be then?
Why not? The Impostress got into our mirror trap without even knowing who she was. Even the children that were playing with her were surprised in the end. It was all such a mess, frankly... We never expected anything like this to happen. So... who knows?
Didn’t you foresee all the possibilities beforehand?
We were honestly shocked when she pulled off her first minor miracle... We never thought it was possible. It wasn’t supposed to work.
So is the plague good or evil?
Oh, that is for you to decide.
Or was I spreading it with my hands as a saint, fulfilling His will?
Whose will? Here is the main question. I’m still not sure whom I am talking to.

At this point, Klara wasn’t either.
She never had any good sense of identity to begin with, not since her awakening in the grave anyway, and all these various flavours of insanity spouted by those comedians, humanoid rats and magical children didn’t help at all.
Was she really playing a game, too immersed to realize it? Something like «Chess»? That couldn’t really be any less plausible than being created out of thin air by someone’s lie.
Or was she just a chess-man, a fake figurine someone else was moving across the game board?
How easy would it be to make the decision knowing than nothing was at stake!

Klara turned away and stormed out of the theatre.

REEL 16: ???

Q: Honestly, I think that ending fits better, but that's just me. It certainly keeps the tone consistent, what with the bleakness and the nihilism.
A: It's bad in the "everyone dies" sense. It's what happens if the player decides that choosing one of three predetermined options isn't really much of a choice, and prefers to jump ship like fucking Rosencrantz in order to derail the script and show some free will. This option exists for all three protagonists. Then the sequence in the theatre plays out to acknowledge that you've stopped being part of the production and left the stage.

EagerSleeper posted:

Maybe I'm stretching too far.