Chapter 1: Riddling
Chapter 2: Melodious
Chapter 3: Solitude
Chapter 4: Grounded
Chapter 5: Doublethink
Your hands are shaking when you bring up Trollian again. You're glad you don't need them to type.
CA: kar please talk to me
CG: WHAT IS IT THIS YOU GODDAMN DRAMA QUEEN.
CA: i think i mighta done somethin vvery bad
CG: HAVE YOU BEEN NAGGING FEFERI AGAIN?
CA: no this isnt about her
CA: god kar not evverythin is about fef
CA: this is about me
CG: ALRIGHT, SO WHAT IS IT?
CA: i just had this awwful thought
CA: wwhat if im an unpitiable person
CA: and im nevver gonna fill my red quadrants
CG: YOU'RE GIVING YOURSELF TOO MUCH CREDIT, AMPORA.
CG: MAYBE WHAT YOU SHOULD BE ASKING YOURSELF IS, WHAT IF YOU'RE NEVER GOING TO FILL *ANY* OF YOUR QUADRANTS.
CG: I MEAN, MY GOD, ERIDAN. YOU OF ALL PEOPLE MUST REALIZE WHAT A SHITTY PERSONALITY YOU HAVE. WHAT IF YOU'LL ALWAYS BE JUST A BIT TOO OBNOXIOUS TO PITY AND JUST TOO PATHETIC TO HATE?
CA: kar i dont understand wwhy youre talkin like this
CA: i need your help not wwhatevver this is
CA: did i catch you at a bad time or somethin
CG: YOU'RE RIGHT. YOU'RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT.
CG: I HAVE BETTER THINGS TO DO.
CG: YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN.
You choke back a sob. The shaking in your hands is only getting worse, and you put away Ahab's Crosshairs before you accidentally blow off your legs. You take off your glasses, and the world around you blurs. This is stupid.
You put your glasses back on and retrace your step back to the building you've just run away from. You're sort of surprised you managed to find your way without getting lost again, but as you approach, you begin to feel something akin to trepidation. You feel compelled to go back in and face what you've done, but you don't actually want to.
You don't need to go back in, however, because just outside the door you see the little angel again, but only as a lump on the ground. You don't approach.
Three other angels are around the little one's corpse. They tear open its neck and sink their claws in, and when they draw them out silver, they fly up to the building walls and start painting. They've started another mural.
You manage to swallow back the bile rising to your throat and you turn around, taking slow, measured steps. You can feel the angels' eyes on the back of your neck, and you are certain that if you start running, they will chase. So instead you walk, one foot in front of the other, putting distance between you and the creatures until you feel safe rounding a corner further down the street.
You huddle in an alley that smells of seaweed and honey and bring up Trollian again.caligulasAquarium [CA] began trolling cuttlefishCuller [CC]
CA: listen I knoww this is a bit awwkwward
CA: wwoww that wword looks awwful wwritten like that
CA: its actually a bit funny heh heh
CA: but this isnt about that
CA: i knoww i wwas a bit of a handful and not a vvery good moirail
CA: but if you givve me another chance i promise evverythin is gonna be different
CA: you can forget wwhat i said about wwantin you in my red quadrant
CA: i got my priorities all straight noww
CA: i knoww i got it in me to be the BEST moirail
CA: i mean i wwasnt so bad the first time around i helped you feed your lusus didnt i
CA: evven if it wwent against my plans
CA: i managed to put my agenda aside an be there for you
CA: evven if you didnt appreciate it
CA: wwhat im sayin is that i knoww noww that you needed breathin room
CA: and i can givve that to you
CA: i knoww I havve to tone dowwn my feelins a bit an i promise i will nevver bother you wwith anyfin evver again unless its reely important
CA: but this is reely important right noww
CA: please I need you
CC: heheh oh my god thii2 ii2 eiither tragiic or hiilariiou2.
CC: iim leaniing twoward2 hiilariiou2.
CA: wwhat the fuck
CA: wwheres fef you lispin fiend
CC: 2he2 riight here wiith me.
CC: hold on.
cuttlefishCuller [CC] ceased trolling caligulasAquarium [CA]
twinArmageddons [TA] began trolling caligulasAquarium [CA]
TA: 2he2 bu2y wiith a que2t riight now, 2o 2he a2ked me two keep an eye on trollian for her, but don't worry iim keepiing an eye on her, two.
CA: get the fuck awway from her thats not your job
TA: what, you thiink it2 your2?
CA: goddamn right its mine
TA: no, ed, that2 ju2t it.
TA: not only ii2 iit not your job anymore, but even when iit wa2 you were crap at iit.
CA: shut the fuck up i was a great moirail
TA: no you werent 2hiit-for-2ponge.
TA: and thii2 log ii2 all the proof tz would need to fiind you guiilty of pale iineptiitude iin the 2econd degree.
CA: wwhat are you talkin about
TA: ju2t look.
TA: you pretend youre 2orry about how thiing2 turned out, but really youre ju2t doiing iit becau2e you want 2omethiing from her.
TA: youre every biit a2 needy and 2elfcentered a2 ff 2aiid you were.
TA: and youre al2o the 2hiitiie2t moiiraiil.
TA: iit ii2 you.
CA: shut up shut up SHUT UP
CA: i did good by fef CA: i helped her wwith evveryfin she needed
TA: you fed her lu2u2 you mean.
TA: and what el2e?
CA: plenty else
TA: no, nothiing el2e.
TA: you 2pent the re2t of the tiime makiing your 2hitty plan2 and go22iipiing wiith kk.
TA: you never took anythiing 2he 2aid 2eriou2ly and you never cared about her feeliing2.
TA: everythiing was about you, and that2 exactly why 2he couldnt 2tand beiing your moiiraiil.
TA: becau2e youre a 2hiity per2on.
TA: the fact that you wanted her iin your red quadrant wa2 ju2t the iiciing on the nau2ea-induciing, offen2iively decorated 2ugary confectiion that ii2 eriidan ampora.
CA: you knoww wwhat im not going to listen to some lowwblooded freak
CA: wwho only wwants to wweasel his wway into fefs quadrants by slander an lies
TA: are you kiidiing me? thii2 ii2 all 2tuff ff told me her2elf.
CA: SHUT UP
CA: YOU DONT KNOWW FEF
CA: you dont knoww wwhat shes thinkin
TA: yeah ii do, dude, becau2e ii actually lii2ten two her.
TA: try two keep up.
CA: youre despicable and im not going to let you come betwween us
CA: youvve made an enemy today sol
CA: just remember that
TA: yeah iim pii22iing my2elf iin fear riight now.
TA: ooh noo, what wiill ii do, fiishboy ii2 angry wiith me.
TA: what iif he BIITCHE2 at me 2ome more!
caligulasAquarium [CA] ceased trolling twinArmageddons [TA]
You want to throw your glasses against the opposite wall with as much force as you can muster.
You don't. Instead, you cradle Ahab's Crosshairs in your lap and think of clotting pools of yellow blood at your feet, and Feferi kneeling before you, crying. She wouldn't be crying for the lowblood scum, she would be crying for you , because she failed you and she's sorry.
Chapter 6: Descent
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
There is a bridge between where you are and where you need to be. That's the good news.
The bad news is that the bridge is missing the part that makes it useful as a bridge in the first place. The walky-thing. Whatever it's called. The bit you walk over.
You're left with two very imposing rows of arched columns framing a black void instead. You wonder, briefly, if the bridge had ever been whole and functional, or if someone had purposely chosen to build it useless. You suspect the latter, and you feel a bit of that wrath your land is named for.
There's probably a quest or a puzzle or a mechanism by which the bridge can be activated, or something, but you don't have the patience for this. Angels are watching you from surrounding edifices, and you feel as though they are silently judging you. You want nothing less than to kill them all and throw their corpses into the deep crevice until you fill it up, make a bridge of the demonic things. There's an idea.
You only abandon this line of thought because you don't think you could kill enough of their numbers to do it in a timely fashion. You're tempted to try anyway.
Instead, you walk along the lip of the crevice. It's jagged, made of broken pavement, except where it's black asphalt dripping over the edge, or the corner of a building sticking out. It looks like a broken seam in the planet, or like earthquake damage. You can't see too far along its length because it wends softly between buildings, but you can hear the faint sound of water from the bottom, echoing against the cavernous walls. Sometimes you see a glimmer or hear a splash, and you're convinced there's something like a creek at the bottom. Probably fresh water, because you can't smell salt, and probably quite shallow—not something you'd jump in, at any rate. Not unless you wanted to break your legs.
You don't find another bridge, but you do come across a spot where the crevice is shallower and you can see the narrow trickle of water at the bottom. It's narrower than your forearm, and perfectly clear as it runs over black, perfectly smooth rocks.
It's still too high to jump, but you're still trying to figure something out when you're jarred out of your reverie.
carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling caligulasAquarium [CA]
CG: ERIDAN, HOW ARE YOU DOING ON YOUR QUESTS?
CA: oh wwhat so noww you care
CG: LOOK, THIS ISN'T THE TIME FOR BITCHING BECAUSE PEOPLE AREN'T GIVING YOU ENOUGH ATTENTION.
CG: I JUST WANT A CLEAR ANSWER. HOW FAR ALONG ARE YOU?
CA: im doin fine
CG: CAN YOU GO INTO DETAILS? HOW HIGH UP THE ECHELADDER ARE WE TALKING? DO YOU NEED ANY HELP?
CA: not from you i dont
CA: i remember the kinda help you givve
CG: OH FOR FUCK'S SAKE.
CG: DO YOU WANT ME TO GROVEL NOW? ALL I CAN SAY IS I'M SORRY. I'VE BEEN BUSY AND, QUITE FRANKLY, UNDER A LOT OF PRESSURE WHAT WITH, OH, YOU KNOW, * PLANNING FUCKING REGISURP * AND TRYING TO CORRAL A BUNCH OF WHINY SELF-CENTERED ASSHOLES INTO A SEMI-COMPETENT FIGHTING FORCE.
CG: SORRY I'VE BEEN IGNORING YOU.
CA: quite frankly I woulda preferred you ignored me
CG: OKAY, YOU LOST ME. WHAT THE HELL HAS GOTTEN YOUR GILLS IN A TWIST?
CA: you havve
CG: WHAT. WHY? WHAT DID I DO?
CA: wwhat so noww youre gonna pretend you dont fuckin knoww
CA: well im not gonna forgivve you that easily for what you said
CG: WHAT. THE FUCK. *DID I SAY*. YOU INSUFFERABLE PONCE.
CA: im not gonna repeat it
CA: but you hurt my feelins a lot kar
CA: i mean if you didnt wwant to talk earlier i wwoulda understood
CA: but you didnt havve to be so mean
CA: i thought wwe wwere friends
CA: but i guess i wwas wwrong
CG: WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU GIBBERING ABOUT?
CG: I HAVEN'T TALKED TO YOU SINCE THE LAST TIME YOU CONTACTED ME TO WHINE ABOUT FEFERI.
CA: no you trolled me a couple a times since then
CG: UH, NO I HAVEN'T. EITHER YOU'RE DELUSIONAL OR YOU'RE CONFUSING ME WITH SOMEONE ELSE.
CG: NOW, I'M ASSUMING, IN SPITE OF WHAT THIS CONVERSATION INDICATES, THAT YOU AREN'T A COMPLETE PAN-SHATTERED LUNATIC, WHICH MEANS YOU SERIOUSLY CAN'T TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ME AND ONE OF THE OTHER ASSHOLES WE KNOW.
CG: IN WHICH CASE, WOW, I AM ACTUALLY PRETTY FUCKING OFFENDED RIGHT NOW. EVEN BARRING THE FACT THAT I'M YOUR LEADER AND YOU SHOULD HOLD MY EVERY WORD IN HOLY DEFERENCE, YOU'VE ALSO KNOWN ME FOR SWEEPS.
CG: THOUGH APPARENTLY NOT VERY WELL.
CA: kar this isnt becomin of you to lie like this
CG: OH, I'M THE ONE WHO'S LYING, THAT'S RICH.
CG: FINE, PROVE ME WRONG, NOOKWIPE.
CG: SEND ME THE LOGS OF THESE ALLEGED TROLLINGS.
You are already looking for them before Karkat even suggests it. You just can't find them. You click through all the logs you had since the game started, and when you couldn't find them there, you even poke through the pre-game logs for a bit, increasingly panicked. Karkat loses his patience quickly.
CG: I'M STILL WAITING.
CG: ERIDAN, STILL THERE?
CA: i cant find it right noww but its there somewwhere
CG: I CANNOT FUCKING BELIEVE YOU. YOU WERE JUST TRYING TO START SHIT OVER NOTHING BECAUSE NOBODY ELSE WAS PAYING YOU ANY ATTENTION, WEREN'T YOU?
CA: shut up i havve proof
CA: i just cant find it
CG: OH FUCK YOU, AMPORA. I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOUR PROBLEM IS, BUT YOU NEED TO GET IT FUCKING SORTED.
CG: JUST FINISH YOUR QUESTS SO WE CAN GET ON WITH IT.
CG: NEXT TIME I TROLL YOU YOU'D BETTER HAVE YOUR SPONGECASE SCREWED ON PROPERLY.
carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased trolling caligulasAquarium [CA]
You stare at the gray words, half-afraid they might melt away before your very eyes.
You missed the logs, that's all. You didn't look carefully enough. You sign off Trollian and, with one shaky hand, readjust your glasses.
As chance would have it, you are staring in the direction of an obelisk, and as Trollian disappears from before your eyes, you can see it jutting into the air just on the lip of the chasm. An idea occurs to you, and you push away the unsettling thoughts clogging your mind to concentrate on something you can actually fix.
The obelisk is perfectly chalky white, and decorated with geometric patterns so intricate, they make your head hurt if you stare at them too long. It's fairly thick, and most importantly, its height is greater than the crevice's width.
You circle the obelisk a few times, but if there's any sort of expertise required in what you're about to do, you don't have it, so you decide to get on with it. You prime Ahab's Crosshairs and take a few steps back from the monument.
You shoot just alongside the obelisk, barely scratching its base. Where the beam from your rifle touched the stone, it is black and it smells like a tar fire. You gag a bit. The obelisk still stands tall, though, so you aim again, and this time take out at least half of the base. The obelisk still does not fall, much to your confusion.
You step closer and press your hand against the stone. It's warm to the touch, but it doesn't budge.
“Come on, you glubbin' piece a shit,” you sneer and kick at the frustrating piece of architecture.
There's a rumble, and the obelisk finally falls off its base and across the crevice, its tip falling against the opposite edge. You have emerged out of this conundrum triumphant!
It looks fairly sturdy, and the obelisk is wide enough that you don't feel like you're baiting death as you walk across it, but you still go as slowly and as carefully as you can. It's only when you're halfway to the other side that you run into slight hitch.
An angel flies overhead. It circles around your head like a scavengerbeast circling a dying lusus, and screeches twice as loud. You don't like this one bit, so you take out Ahab's Crosshairs. The first angel is joined by another, and then one more. This is getting genuinely distressing, but you don't panic outright until another one of the demonic spawn lands in front of you on the obelisk, blocking your path.
“Get the fuck away,” you spit out through gritted teeth.
The angel doesn't, it just lowers its head and clicks in the back of its throat.
the king shall walk upon the spoiling corpses of his subjects to claim his crown they shall suffer shortly and die many when he comes to crown himself with their destruction
You're not sure where to aim your rifle, at the lone angel before you, or at the dozen or so now circling overhead. You look over your shoulder to see the way back is also blocked, by three angels standing at the obelisk's base, glowering at you.
You look down—there aren't any angels there—and you're overtaken by a sudden bout of vertigo.
You squeeze the trigger. Possibly you were aiming at an angel, at any angel at all, but you realize belatedly the nuzzle was aimed downward. You raise the rifle too late. The white beam blasts through the obelisk and as you feel the solid stone beneath your feet crumble, you know, for a split second, how it would feel to fly.
This seems like an appropriate place to mention that there is an easy way to distinguish between which logs are with real trolls and which aren't.
Chapter 7: Despair
You wake up.
You wake up in your respiteblock, except not really.
Everything around you is purple, a bright purple too much unlike your blood color for you to find it pleasant.
You jump to your feet with a start, and circle the room nervously. You remember angels, and falling. You're not sure which one of those sends stabs of terror through you, but you decide to stop thinking about it.
You go to the window, and regard the purple spires, so much like the spires of your own land that you can't help but snort contemptuously. And then you hear it; the giggling. You can see a figure dashing across the sky in flight, and the long flowing curls are unmistakeable.
Before you can step out, the bright purple walls around you melt.
For the second time, you wake up.
This time you are greeted by pain and cold.
You can feel the water lapping against your legs, freezing your skin and numbing the aches. It takes a few more seconds for you to get your bearings, though. You are on your back, staring at a white patch of sky framed by black walls of humid earth. Everything hurts at least a little bit, but the fall wasn't high enough to break anything.
Everything is blurry, and you fear for a moment that your glasses didn't survive the fall with you, but you find them after a perfunctory grope around, half-embedded in the soft mud.
You pull them out with a squelch and try wiping them off on your sleeve, but all you manage to do is spread the mud to both lenses. You finally just dunk the glasses in the nearby water and let it wash them off. They're wet and cold when you put them on again, and even if they fog up a bit, you can still see better. You find your rifle as well, pulling it out of the creek.
Chunks of white stone pepper the ground around you, and against one of the walls of the crevice there is the top third of the obelisk, pinning an unfortunate angel to the ground. The creature doesn't struggle; the stone covers its upper body, both its wings and one of its arms, so all it can do is lay its head on the soft ground and try to catch wheezing, shallow breaths as its lungs are crushed. It turns a baleful black eye to you, but even with its beak open, it doesn't say anything. You keep to the other side of the creek, just in case it suddenly decides to spout off nonsense.
You turn on the glasses, just to check if the electronics survived the fall and the subsequent dunk you gave them in the creek. The screen flickers uncertainly for a moment, but it settles into full functionality soon enough.
TA: 2o kk thiink2 youre a loon now.
TA: niice of hiim two catch up two the re2t of the 2choolfeediing group.
TA: better late than never ii 2uppo2e.
You growl, the vibrations making the text shake on the screen.
CA: its none a your business wwhat anyone thinks a me
TA: nope, iit2 all your2.
TA: and iif you want two 2how everybody what a 2hiity friiend you are ii 2hould let you.
CA: shut up im not a shitty friend YOU are
CA: you go around stealin peoples moirails an spreadin slander
TA: relax, ed, iim on your 2ide.
CA: wwhat are you glubbin about
TA: well, iit2 obviiou2 to me that youre bent on driiviing everyone you hate or piity away.
TA: 2o iim giiviing you a nudge in the riight diirectiion.
CA: wwhat did you do you gutterblood scum
TA: oh, liike ii needed two do much at all.
TA: you did mo2t of the work.
CA: youre the reason i couldnt find the logs
TA: am ii?
CA: you hacked trollian
CA: fuck wwhat am I evven talkin about you wwouldnt even need to hack it you knoww its evvery in an out
CA: you made me look like a
CA: a fuckin
CA: PAN-CRACKED CRAZYCASE
CA: right to kar's face
TA: ii dont know what youre talkiing about, but you would have done that your2elf eventually.
TA: on account that you ARE a pan-cracked crazyca2e.
CA: you goddamn mutant freak I wwill END YOU
TA: whoa, what2 thii2 about?
TA: not that iim not fiindiing your freakout amu2iing out of context, but at lea2t tell me what youre accu2iing me of.
You block him.
You decide this is a good time to see if Ahab's Crosshairs survived the fall undamaged.
You stride over to the angel. It doesn't react, only wheezing wetly as silver blood trickles down its beak. It doesn't turn to look at you as you level the rifle to its head and pull the trigger.
You make your way out of the crevice eventually. As you reach the end, mud walls are replaced with gravel and sediment, and eventually, it turns into irregular stone tiles. By the time you emerge at the end, the creek is only a narrow slick flowing over black pavement.
Above your head is a glass dome, arching high, and around you is a garden of broken statuary. No, not broken—worn down. Each slab of stone has only the vague outline of a figure, the surface devoid of details and pocked with signs of erosion. You can't imagine what any of them might have represented, because some are so strangely posed, you doubt they ever really represented anything.
The dome above is a rusted metal framework holding together hexagonal panes of dirty blue glass. The light comes through dim and sickly. There are several clear streaks through the glass, however, and you can hear the distant glop, glop, glop of water, sounding like fat droplets falling into something deep and narrow.
You start weaving your way through the statue garden, but you must have picked the wrong direction, because you hit a dead end, where the statues are too closely clumped together to squeeze through. You backtrack and try a different way, but soon enough, that, too, becomes a dead end.
You conclude that the statues must be clustered along the walls of this constructions, and there might be no path. You fall back on your traditional solution and take out your rifle, aiming in a purely random direction. You press the trigger, anticipating the moment when the statues before you explode to dust and...
You stare, stunned, down the length of your weapon and press the trigger again, to just as much effect. It doesn't work. It doesn't work, it doesn't work, IT DOESN'T WORK, oh, god—
It needs to recharge. That's all. You've been using it too much these past few days, you just need to lay off it for a bit.
You chuckle at your momentary lapse in composure, and it echoes against the tall ceiling, making you sound nervous and a bit manic. You sit down at the foot of a statue, leaning against its pedestal and pulling your knees up. You don't put Ahab's Crosshairs away, though. You hold it close to your chest, and the gesture is reassuring even if the rifle itself is useless at the moment.
You sit in silence, listening to the distant trickle of water. Everything is so quiet and still, that when Trollian pops open, you nearly jump out of your skin.
CG: IF I ASK YOU NICELY ABOUT YOUR QUEST PROGRESSION, DO YOU PROMISE NOT TO KICK OFF ANOTHER SESSION OF “AMPORA ACTS LIKE A RAVING LUNATIC”?
You breathe out, releasing tension you hadn't even noticed.
CA: kar its so good to talk to you
CA: an i promise ill behavve
CA: no flippin out
CG: OH, GOOD, SO I ONLY HAVE YOUR *REGULAR* AMOUNTS FLAILING AND SELF-IMPORTANT RANTING TO DEAL WITH.
CA: it wwasnt my fault i wwent off on you the first time you knoww
CA: someone wwas playin a sick fuckin joke on me
CA: dont wworry though ill get him back for this
CG: I'D SAY I'M RELIEVED BUT THAT WOULD IMPLY I AM IN ANY WAY VESTED IN YOUR PETTY DRAMA.
CA: dammit kar this isnt just drama
CA: this is serious stuff
CA: an i apologized didnt i
CA: evven though i shouldnt havve because it wwasnt my fault wwhat happened
CG: IT NEVER IS, ERIDAN. THAT'S JUST IT. IT NEVER IS, AND IT NEVER COULD BE, AND IT NEVER WILL BE.
CA: wwhat are you glubbin about
CG: YOU THINK YOU'RE BEING PERSECUTED, IS THAT IT?
CA: kar this is a real thing
CA: sol did somethin to trick me he cooked up some fake logs
CA: im sure of it he practically confessed
CG: AND AGAIN, BLAMING OTHER PEOPLE FOR YOUR PROBLEMS.
CG: ERIDAN, FOR ONCE, I WANT YOU TO ADMIT THAT THE REASON ALL YOUR RELATIONSHIPS SELF-DESTRUCT IS NOT BECAUSE THERE IS A VAST CONSPIRACY AGAINST YOU
CG: BUT BECAUSE YOU DESTROY THEM YOURSELF.
CA: thats stupid wwhy wwould i do that
CG: BECAUSE IT'S IN YOUR NATURE TO DESTROY, ERIDAN. AND IF YOU FAIL TO LEARN TO HARNESS IT AND TURN IT OUTWARD, YOU WILL ALWAYS BE YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY.
CG: OR RATHER, UNLESS YOU SUCCEED, YOU WILL *CONTINUE TO BE* YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY.
CG: YOU WILL LEARN HOW TO BE NOT ONLY LONELY, BUT COMPLETELY ALONE.
CG: YOU WILL LEARN THE DESPAIR THAT COMES ONLY WHEN ALL THOSE WHO CAN FEEL EVEN THE FRAILEST THREAD OF HOPE
CG: ARE DEAD BY YOUR HAND.
CA: youre not kar
CA: youre not kar he isnt half so creepy
CA: if this is you sol this isnt funny
CA: just stop
CG: IT ISN'T BEFITTING OF A PRINCE TO BE SO SQUEAMISH.
You take off your glasses and fling them against a nearby statue. They don't crack—between the heavy frames and the electronics in them, they're much sturdier than regular glasses—but one of the lenses falls out and rolls away.
Chapter 8: Veracity
In the end, you break a window with the butt of your rifle and crawl out, too spooked to make a proper, dignified exit. You run down a narrow alley and emerge in a garden, where the trees are made of black metal instead of wood, and have glass leaves.
Something about the sharpness and brightness of this place makes you shy away, and you go the long way around it. You reach a small building with grates at the windows, and when the door won't open, you break it down. Immediately inside is only a long bench, and you huddle up on it, pulling your cape close around your shoulders.
Your heart is beating fast, much faster than physical exertions can account for.
You bring up Trollian, almost afraid that the program is going to swallow you up.
caligulasAquarium [CA] began trolling carcinoGeneticist [CG]
CA: i dont knoww if wwhat i say evven matters or if anyone is evven listenin anymore
CA: you could all be dead for all i knoww an ivve been sendin wwords into the empty void like sad little messages in a bottle lost on the ocean
CA: an just as pointless my messages wwouldnt matter evven if they wwere read because nobody wwould come anywway
CA: evverythin i got back might as far as i knoww been mockery from cruel gods wwho laugh at my fate
CA: but i still wwanna try
CA: i cant stop tryin
CA: an i guess an imperfect imitation a my friends is still better than nothin
CA: because its near enough to wwhat i got from the real ones
CG: WHAT THE FUCK, ERIDAN. DID YOU GET INTO THE SOPOR TOO?
CG: PLEASE TELL ME YOU'RE NOT HIGH RIGHT NOW, BECAUSE I ALREADY HAVE ONE FECKLESS STONER TO CONTEND WITH AND I AM NOT READY TO JUGGLE TWO QUASI-USELESS FUCKTARDS AT THE SAME TIME.
CA: oh you swwear a lot more than the other guy
CG: I SWEAR A LOT MORE THAN A LOT OF FUCKING PEOPLE. IT'S KIND OF MY *THING*, IN CASE YOU'RE JUST NOW NOTICING.
CG: I TAKE IT YOU CAME TO THE BOTTOM OF THE MYSTERY OF THE KARKAT IMPERSONATOR?
CA: i mean no
CA: i dont really knoww but i dont think it matters
CA: i think wwhoevver did it wwas testin me
CG: OH. YEAH, SOME OF THE QUESTS CAN REALLY FUCK WITH YOUR PAN.
CG: I SHOULD HAVE GUESSED. TEREZI HAD THIS ONE WHERE
CG: YOU KNOW WHAT, NEVERMIND, WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT THAT ONE.
CG: TELL ME WHAT YOU'VE BEEN DOING.
CA: i dont knoww anymore kar
CA: i keep goin back an forth an i keep hopin itll get easier
CA: but it doesnt
CA: nothin does
CA: i hate it here
CA: theyre all starin at me
CA: i used to think it wwas bad wwhen they were starin quietly but its bad wwhen they talk too except wwhen they start talkin i start wwishin they wwent back to starin all quiet like
CG: WHO ARE YOU EVEN BLABBERING ABOUT?
CA: the angels kar
CA: the angels are evverywwhere
CG: FUCK. LOOK, I'M SORRY THAT YOUR CONSORTS ARE FREAKY WINGED DEMONS, BUT THERE'S NOTHING WE CAN DO ABOUT IT. YOU THINK I ENJOY THE EVERPRESENT CLOUDS OF DISGUSTING CANDY RED FLOATING ALL OVER MY OWN ASS END OF THE INCIPISPHERE?
CA: i dunno i think id preffer candy colored clouds to flights a scary birdmonsters
CG: NO, FUCK THAT. YOU WOULDN'T. IT SUCKS. IT FUCKING TURNS MY PROTEIN SAC HAVING TO WADE THROUGH THIS SHITTY TECHNICOLOR NIGHTMARE. JUST... LOOK, YOU CAN LEAVE LOWAA EVENTUALLY.
CA: i can
CG: YES, AS SOON AS YOU FINISH YOUR QUESTS THERE, YOU CAN JUMP OVER TO SOME OTHER ASSHOLE'S PLAYGROUND.
CA: kar i cant wwait that long
CA: i cant stand bein here
CG: WELL, THAT SUCKS FOR YOU THEN, BECAUSE YOU DON'T HAVE A FUCKING CHOICE. NONE OF US DO.
CA: it really does suck
CG: YOU JUST HAVE TO OVERCOME IT. EVERYTHING THE GAME THROWS AT YOU IS WITH THE PURPOSE OF MAKING YOU STRONGER.
CA: i wwish it wwould stop im plenty strong already
CG: WELL, YOUR OPINION DOESN'T MATTER IN THIS PLACE.
CG: OKAY, I HAVE TO GO RIGHT NOW, BUT YOU KEEP AT IT.
CG: KICK THE GAME'S ASS.
CG: WE'LL TALK LATER.
carcinogeneticist [CG] ceased trolling caligulasAquarium [CA]
You curl up on your side, staring at the log for a very long time.
You eventually venture out again, even if you feel weirdly exposed for some reason. You keep an eye on Trollian and a tight grip on Ahab's Crosshairs, and you really want someone to come over and keep you company, even if they won't help you on your quests.
Out of all your friends who are online, you don't even consider Vriska and the lowblood cripple she deigns to spend time with instead of you. You look at Feferi's handle for a very long while, and you also possibly give a forlorn sigh or four, even if you'd never admit it. She probably already has her hands full with the psionic freak. Neither Nepeta nor Equius are online, and Karkat has just signed off. Aradia told you not to contact her again, but she probably didn't really mean it, and if you had to, you could perhaps persuade her to come over. Terezi is... online, but you're pretty sure she's already helping Karkat and you don't really want to get between their budding matespritship. And the clown—huh.
Okay, yeah, you'll try Gamzee. He's completely harmless, and between his offensive lack of fashion sense and his distractingly bizarre ramblings, he might at least take your mind off... things. You just hope he won't push any more of his teeth-rotting soda on you.
You are about to troll him when you hit your shin on something and let out an embarrassingly loud yelp that echoes up and down the street. Angels perched on the buildings around you look in your direction, then bring their heads together and make a susurrating noise that, despite sounding nothing like it, brings to mind laughter. You grit your teeth and hunch your shoulder and make a valiant effort to ignore it.
Instead, you look at the source of your currently throbbing shin injury. It is the first step of a metal staircase, leading up to the roof of an elegant white building with impressive spires. The staircase starts in the middle of the street and has to cram the steps close and tall to fit them all to the end.
It's madness, pure and simple. There is no conceivable reason for this staircase to be here. It probably leads to a quest, a really important one that demands special attention from players by viciously attacking their shins. Trolling the sopor-addled idiot will have to wait for now.
You climb the stairs, and they shake with your every step, making frightful rusty screeches as they swing from side to side. You make it up without incident, though the moment you put both feet on the horizontal roof, the staircase collapses into a metallic heap on the ground. You think it's just part of the quest, and not a sign that it was poorly designed to begin with, but you'd honestly prefer not to think about it too much.
There are angels on the edges of the roof, but they seem to be ignoring you for now. You give them a wide berth anyway.
The roof goes on forever. You see something in the distance, and even if you can't clearly see what it is, you head for it. As it comes into view, you become more confused.
It's a ring of trees. But they don't have leaves. But they're green?You arrive at a small artificial grove. The things you thought were trees are only tree-shaped. They're stone statues of bare trees, covered with a bluish-green-but-not-really-teal moss. There are six, surrounding a black patch you originally thought was asphalt but is actually a pond filled with an opaque black substance you suspect is tar. There is a white plaque on the ground with writing, and you're expecting another infuriating riddle as you lean down to read.
you will probably find nothing at the bottom
You blink and read again. If it's a riddle, it doesn't look like one. It seems fairly straightforward, in fact.
Except nothing here is straightforward. Everything on your planet is infuriating and strange and completely different from how it's supposed to be. You're not sure you have the luxury of taking anything here at face value. At the same time, you can't expect this place not to mess with your head at every opportunity, and you're pretty sure that's what's happening right here.
You scrape a bit of moss from one of the stone trees and throw it in the pond. It falls with a glop and the black substance swallows it right up. You don't like how quickly it disappears beneath the surface.
You recall what you told Karkat about being tested. At the time, you meant that someone was merely trying to annoy you, but maybe Karkat was right; maybe the Game is testing you. This has to be another test. Probably to see if you are stupid enough to risk life and limb trying to find something imaginary at the bottom of a deathpond.
You turn around and make your way back to the edge of the roof. When you reach it, the angels look at you with scornful eyes.
You hear a beep as someone begins trolling you, but you delay opening the chat window for a few moments and stare at the angels.
But no, it's just the Game... isn't it?
Chapter 9: Certainty
TA: 2o youre a coward two.
CA: fuck off im busy
TA: how bu2y can you be, when youre not even doiing a que2t riight now?
You reflexively look over your shoulder.
CA: wwhat about you sol
CA: fef kicked ya to the curb already
CA: seen right through you has she
You bring up Trollian and scan your list of contacts for Feferi's handle, but you stop short when you notice the discrepancy. Your eyebrow rise slowly, while your stomach drops. You're not sure if you're scared or confused or angry, but the bundle of emotions surge up and down your spine uncomfortably.
You bring up the chat window again, and see that a few new lines have appeared.
TA: liike 2he 2aw through you, you mean?
TA: 2orry, but 2ome people arent ragiing douchebag2, ed.
TA: and by 2ome people, ii mean everybody except you.
TA: you are the only douchebag.
You type the reply slowly and deliberately.
CA: youre not sol
CA: sol isnt online
There is a long pause, and you watch the screen intently, your gaze flicking back and forth between the chat window and the list of contacts.
TA: well fuck, you caught me.
TA: ii gue22 thii2 ii2 the one tiime you manage two succeed at 2omethiing.
TA: congrat2 on the 2ole and petty viictory iin your pathetiic life.
TA: how doe2 iit feel two reach the hiigh poiint of your exii2tance?
CA: wwho the fuck are you
CA: are you the guy wwho wwas pretendin to be kar
TA: fuck that guy. no.
CA: then wwho is this
CA: wwhich one a you assholes thinks this is funny
CA: probably vvris
CA: bet shes invvolvved in this somehoww
TA: wiill you 2hut up?
TA: youre completely mii2iing the poiint.
CA: wwhat point
TA: that youre a contemptiible piiece of 2hiit who 2uck2 at thii2 game.
CA: youll forgivve me if i dont take the wword a some liar wwho keeps insultin me
CA: and imitatin my friends
CA: badly i might add
TA: youll forgiive me iif ii dont giive a fuck.
TA: ii fooled you anyway, diidnt ii?
CA: wwhy wwould you evven do this
TA: maybe cau2e youre 2uch a monumental lo2er ii cant stand two 2uffer another miinute wiithout iinformiing you of the fact.
TA: look at you, you faiil at thi2 game so hard.
CA: lets see howw hard i fail wwhen i hunt you dowwn an reduce you to bloody ribbons
TA: you have two fiind me fiir2t, fii2h2tick2.
CA: oh dont wworry i wwill
CA: you havve no glubbin clue what im capable of
TA: you? you cant even take down the actual lii2piing nerd iim pretendiing two be.
TA: dont delude your2elf.
CA: im not
CA: you think you knoww me
CA: you dont evven suspect the fathoms youvve just plumbed
CA: you think i destroy evverythin i touch
CA: you dont evven comprehend wwhat destruction is yet
CA: i wwill givve you a right schoolfeedin on the subject
CA: i wwill showw you the righteous rage of your unequivocal superior an grind your unwworthy bones dowwn until all thats left is dust an anguish
CA: YOU WWILL DIE SCREAMIN YOU DISGUSTIN SACK A SCUM DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT
TA: yeah, iid liike two see you try.
TA: why dont you come riight now, iin fact.
TA: take a nap and fly over.
TA: tell me all about your 2cary bone griindiing fanta2iie2
TA: face two face.
The chat window blinks out, disappearing before your eyes. You're relieved, and it takes you a few moments to realize that it's because he proved to not be the real Sol at all.
There are no other stairs or ladders that you can find. This is probably to ensure that you finish whatever quest you have to finish here before you move on. You don't like being prodded in any direction, least of all a direction that might kill you, so you decide to do things the hard way.
You find a side of the building with the most prominent facade and get ready to climb down. It can't be that hard: there are plenty of handholds and the fall probably wouldn't kill you anyway, even if it would be painful as all hell: the building only has four storeys. You don't worry much about that, however, because there's a balcony halfway down, and if it leads inside, then you can find a proper set of stairs and descend in a proper and dignified fashion.
You put away Ahab's Crosshairs and maneuver yourself over the edge, cautiously gripping the tacky stone decorations as firmly as you can. Not even a minute in, your hands are starting to hurt and your arms are tired; you were not made for this kind of physical exertion.
You're startled halfway down by a chat window popping open.
You scramble as you accidentally lose your foothold. You recover quickly, but you stand still for a long moment, looking at the chat window.
CG: YOU SHOULDN'T LET HIM GOAD YOU.
Fuck. It's fake Karkat again. He's probably talking about fake Sollux. You have absolutely no reason to talk to him. You have no reason to talk to any of them, and you're not going to give them another fraction of a second of your time, even if that means never talking to anyone at all for the rest of the game.
You put this thought away for now as you reach the balcony and jump down the last two feet.
As you suspected, there is a door, though it's little more than a metallic grate. You try the handle, but it's locked. You give it a good jiggle anyway, but other than the loud rattling sound it produces, there is no other effect.
“Great,” you mutter.
Beyond the grate door there is darkness, and from the outside you can only see a patch of floor where the daylight can barely ward the darkness. Once inside, you have no doubt your night vision will be adequate, but you have to get inside first.
There is only one obvious solution to this conundrum and you take out your rifle, preparing to blast your way in. You barely have it out for a moment when you hear the first flutter of wings. An angel lands on the far corner of the balcony. You freeze in place and only look at it from the corner of your eye, but it isn't doing anything. When you turn your head, it dips its own head level with yours. It sits perfectly still and waits. You're not sure what it wants from you.
“Don't suppose you got a key,” you mutter, not expecting an answer.
The angel gets a concentrated look on its face.
no key no key there is no key the door is not to open
“So I gotta destroy the door,” you say slowly.
The feathers on the back of the angel's neck ruffle.
destroy destroy destroy the king comes soon the time for despair is close the door swings open before him
You raise your rifle slowly and aim it at the door.
The angel screeches and lunges at you and you only have time to pivot on your heel to face it. You shove the diamond point of the rifle against the angel's midsection as it reaches out to claw at your face and you shoot. It screeches again, this time not in threat but in pain, and its back arches under the beam.
The balcony is caught in the crossfire, and again you somehow manage to shoot the ground from underneath your feet. The fall is much shorter this time, but the ground is harder. You and the angel fall in a tangle. Your back hits the ground first, knocking all the air out of your lungs. A piece of stone breaks your fall and probably one of your ribs for good measure.
The angel falls only an arm's length away. Its midsection is swathed in charred feathers. You have the presence of mind to aim again and shoot, only a short burst before you scramble to your feet. Then, before the angel can open its wings and fly away, you shoot it properly, the white beam engulfing the creature and searing it through. It takes a long time, but you're already practiced at this. You know when it's time to stop.
The air smells sweet and it is utterly quiet.
Angels peer down at you in judgment. Their usually blank faces are twisted up in an expression akin to disgust.
Another chat window pops up.
TA: you ju2t cant 2top fuckiing up, can you?
Chapter 10: Inured
They watch you and hiss unhappily among themselves. One flies down to the remnants of its brethren (a mound of black tar, disgusting and sweet-smelling), and that's the point when you turn around and limp away as fast as you can.
You lose track of where you're going, but when you turn a corner and see your hive at the end of the street, you are both surprised and relieved. You actually break out in a jog as you approach, and you burst through the door of your respiteblock so violently you nearly knock it off its hinges.
You don't crawl into your recuperacoon and curl up in the comforting embrace of slime, but it's a close thing. You go to the bathroom instead, and lean heavily on the sink. You take off your glasses carefully and put them aside.
Looking in the mirror, your face is a blur, but you can still see your hair matted with cement dust and a thin line of blood streaking down the side of your face from a cut on your temple. You are a mess in every sense of the word. You briefly consider slumping to the ground and hiding under the sink, but you turn the faucet on, and after that, it's easy to concentrate on making yourself look presentable. You wash up, and change your clothes, and even give your glasses a good polish. By the time you replace your cape, you feel like yourself again. A tired, battered version of yourself who doesn't understand anything of what's going on anymore, but at least you didn't hide in your recuperacoon like a scared wriggler. You're willing to accept any victory you can at this point.
You pause by the door before going out again, however, your hand frozen on the door handle. You squeeze it tightly, and then unclench your fingers slowly.
This part's easy. You've done it a million times, you don't even need to think about it: press down and push the door out. It's all motor memory, you don't even need to think about it, your hand knows what to do.
Why are you standing like a dumbass in the middle of the hallway, then? Why don't you just
It's easy. The tips of your fingers are trembling a little, but you can still do it. You could still do it. Why...
AG: Oh my god, you are so 8ooooooooring.
AG: Get out there and kill something already!
After the initial moment of confusion, you step back from the door and turn around.
CA: i dont suppose its too much to hope for that this is really vvris talkin to me
AG: Hehehehe, I see what you did there!
CA: wwhat did i do
AG: Hm, never mind. Looks like you're just as dull as I thought you were.
CA: you still didnt answwer me are you really her
AG: I don't know, what do you think?
CA: i think the real vvris wwould be vvery confused right noww and not tryin to act cute
AG: Do you know what your pro8lem is?
CA: yeah youre definitely one a those guys
CA: i can tell by the wway you cant wwait to start insultin me
CA: a course the real vvris wwoulda probably done the same but at least wwhen she does it i get somethin outta it
AG: Ew, I did not want to know a8out you mastur8ating to your chatlogs with the spidergirl!
CA: that isnt wwhat i said at all
CA: wwhat the fuck is wwrong wwith you
CA: maybe i should start tellin you your problems instead
AG: You don't even know who I am, though.
AG: You don't know anything about me.
CA: i already knoww you havve a filthy mind an probably a lotta hangups a the sexual vvariety
AG: That's not
AG: Okay, 8ut may8e only
AG: You know what, let's get 8ack to the su8ject at hand.
CA: wwhats that
AG: The fact that you are a loser.
CA: yeah thats original
CA: youre the very first to tell me that
CA: clearly youre the smartest impersonator
CA: it is you
AG: Are you trying to be snide, or str8t-up 8itchy? It's honestly hard to tell with you.
CA: look fake vvris
CA: ivve had it up to here with you douchebags linin up to punch me in the feelins like candys gonna fall out if you do it long enough
CA: i think ivve growwn inured to it
AG: Well damn, why am I even talking to you then?
CA: no fuckin clue
CA: but if you wwont kindly glub off at least do somethin completely radical here and cut me some slack
AG: Yeah, okay.
CA: so its just that easy
AG: You know what, just this once, it is. It's not 8ecause I'm feeling generous or anything.
CA: then wwhy
AG: I guess I just can't stand what a gargantuan tool you are and want to see you improve!
AG: I'll give you the answers to three questions, from someone who has played and won this game. Hint: it's me. I am the winner.
CA: that doesnt sound vvery generous
AG: What!? It's three questions! Any three questions you'd like! This is potentially game-changing stuff! How is that not generous?
CA: cause wwhatevver i ask youll probably reply wwith some vvague but deep soundin bullshit thats not gonna help me one wwhit
AG: Not gonna lie, that's exactly what I was planning to do.
AG: And even if I wasn't, my answers would pro8a8ly have seemed vague and esoteric anyway due to the nature of paradox time and the game itself.
CA: there you go
AG: 8ut since you were smart enough to figure it out, as a reward, I will instead give you three pieces of advice!
CA: wwhy not eight
AG: Why 8?
CA: wwell since youre stealin vvriss schtick anyway
AG: Uuuuuuuugh, you are insufferable. No! I don't share spidergirl's weird compulsion, so three's all you're getting!
CA: fine lets hear it i guess
AG: You're a real jerk. Just for that, I'm only giving you one piece of advice.
CA: like i didnt already knoww you wwere stingy
AG: Wow, I did not know it was possi8le to want to help you less, 8ut it is. You've made that happen. I hope you feel proud of yourself. Any hope I had for you is gone. You will always 8e a loser. You're incorrigi8le.
CA: kneww this wwas comin soon
AG: It's what you do, Eridan. You can't help it, and you don't even try to control it. You are a loose cannon of the worst variety, 8ecause you don't even know the damage you can cause!
CA: so wwhat
AG: Excuse me????????
CA: i said so wwhat
CA: isnt that wwhat the game wwants
CA: to wwreck as much shit as possible
CA: kill all the mooks
CA: gain all the levels etc etc
CA: im only doin wwhats expected
AG: Except you're not really, are you? You're just doing what you want. You don't aspire to anything, you don't work to 8etter yourself, you just whine and expect things to 8e given to you on a silver platter.
CA: i see plenty a cheap psychology and not much advvice
AG: Who you are and what you must do are indistinguisha8le in this game. You are the Prince, and you must 8ecome the Prince all the same. Even if this can only 8e achieved through self-denial. It is part of your personal quest.
AG: 8ecause, you moron, if you don't,
AG: if you fail to live up to the path 8efore you,
AG: it will swallow you up.
AG: You will 8ecome an instrument of mindless destruction, in service of despair.
AG: Any8ody can 8e capable of destruction, 8ut real power comes when you know when and where to use it, and when it's the inappropri8te course of action. You are capa8le of achieving great power, 8ut only if you apply yourself.
CA: ivve alwways knowwn i wwas meant for greatness
AG: Th8t 8s n8t the p8int, Erid8n!!!!!!!!
AG: Dest8ny doesn't m8ke housec8lls, you need to go out and m8ke it h8ppen yourself! If you sit around and w8
CA: wwhat happens
CA: hey are you still there
CA: just leavvin me hangin here
CA: alright AG: You know what, never mind.
CA: wwhat do you mean never mind
AG: I mean, ignore everything I just told you.
AG: It's what you were going to do anyway.
CA: wwell yeah but its still fuckin rude of you to just cut off in the middle a the
The chat window disappears before your eyes. Rude!
Chapter 11: Ascension
It's not until you can feel the creeping pain in the back of your neck that you realize how tense you are, how hunched you are holding your shoulders and how low you are stooped. You make a conscious effort to relax your posture and adopt an adequately aristocratic swagger, but you can't pretend for long that they aren't getting to you.
The angels watch you closely. They hiss to each other—or maybe it is just how they speak—too low for you to make out anything. You think they might be speaking of you, but the few words you manage to catch are just snippets of their garbled prophecies.
Still, there is something distinctly accusatory in the way their gazes follow you with such persistence. You duck into alleys and passageways and under bridges and archways whenever you can, but whenever you need to step under the open sky again, they are there, watching and whispering. You never liked them to begin with, but now there is something overtly aggressive in their demeanor, even if they aren't directly attacking you.
You are pretty sure they won't attack you. Somewhat sure. Vriska—the real one—said they were here to help, as hard as that was to believe. You're sure she must have been lying, though. A subtle way to sabotage you. A downright caliginous maneuver, if you think about it. Assuming the one who told you was the real one...?
Yes, you find the log right away. Not every conversation you've had so far is a fiction, to your relief.
Then, it is entirely possible that the angels aren't on your side at all. Indeed, all evidence points to the fact that their sole mission is to torment you.
You tap a finger against your rifle. Tap, tap, tap.
They haven't helped you yet. Likely they never will. They hindered you. If pattern holds, they will hinder you further.
Your finger creeps over the trigger and you very slowly squeeze .
The beam comes out a fraction of a second sooner than you expected it and startles you. You hold the rifle steady though, and aim it at the corner of a building, where an angel sits atop a gargoyle. The brilliant white light consumes it. Even from such a distance, there is no escape. It takes maybe two minutes to kill it entirely, and when you are finished, when it has been reduced to nothing but a disgusting black stain on the already dark street—only then do you hear the racket around you.
There is shrieking and screeching and the flapping of wings. Half the angels have taken flight, leaving behind a delicate rain of feathers, and the other half sit pinned into place, throwing their heads back and howling like the restless undead during the day on Alternia.
You take aim again, and pull the trigger. Another angel falls.
By the time you kill the fourth, the street is deserted, and you do not have any more of the demons to turn your rifle on. You are panting and sweating, but your heart beats loudly enough that you can hear it, and you can't help the giggle that escapes your throat. It is gloriously terrible, every part of it. This is fun—so much fun. You love this game.
CG: YOU NEED TO STOP.
CG: STOP NOW.
CA: bit late for advvice dont you think
CG: NO, YOU'RE MAKING A MISTAKE. STOP.
CA: im doin exactly wwhat im supposed to
CA: see i finally get it
CA: i get wwhere i failed before
CA: i get wwhy im a loser
CA: or wwas CG: NO YOU DON'T. YOU REALLY DON'T. THIS IS THE OPPOSITE OF “GETTING IT”. WHAT YOU'RE DOING NOW AND “GETTING IT” ARE AS MATTER AND ANTI-MATTER TO EACH OTHER.
CA: sorry too late
CA: you dont get me to tell me shit anymore mr fakey liarface
CA: dont think i dont knoww youre not the real kar
CA: not after our last fuckin chat
CG: GODDAMMIT I AM TRYING TO HELP.
CG: I'M TRYING TO FIX EVERYTHING.
CG: I HAVEN'T EVEN TALKED TO YOU BEFORE, THIS IS THE FIRST TIME, AND YOU JUST NEED TO LISTEN TO ME THIS ONCE. I WON'T EVEN ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR EXISTENCE ANYMORE IF YOU STOP THIS CHILDISH RAMPAGE.
CG: I MADE SURE THEY WON'T CONTACT YOU AGAIN.
CG: THE ONE PRETENDING TO TYPE IN YELLOW. AND THE ONE WITH THE EIGHTS. I MADE SURE.
CA: dont you get it
CA: it doesnt matter anymore
CA: im not the person i was before
CA: wwhat the prince does is indistinguishable from wwhat the prince is
CA: thats wwhat fake vvris said
CA: wwell im the prince
CA: an im on my owwn
CA: i knoww wwhat i gotta do noww
There is a long pause. You think he might have given up, but two last lines appear.
CG: TURN AROUND. TAKE THE SECOND STREET ON THE LEFT.
CG: SHOOT THE DOOR.
And just like that, the chat window disappears again.
You snort. You'd think after your badass speech he'd get it through his head that you are not going to be doing what anyone says anymore, but some people are just thick, apparently.
And what kind of nonsense instructions were those, anyway? Turn around and take the second street on the... left was it? What door?
It is only out of curiosity that you go. You can satisfy your own curiosity if you want to. You stop in your tracks, because you recognize the place right away. How could you not, when it has only been half a day? The remnants of the balcony are scattered all around you, and the foul remains of the angels are still there. You look up to the grate door.
Shoot it. Yeah, that's easy. Why are you here if not to shoot shit?
You step back a ways to get a clearer shot, but when you finally shoot, you realize you should have put more distance between you and the building.
You let loose only a short burst, barely a flicker, but once it blasts through the door—melting the grate—there is the sound of implosion, like in inside-out boom, and your ears feel plugged, like they do sometimes when you surface too quickly.
The building... melts. It darkles in steady ripples, outward from the door, and turns into something like tar. The smell is foul, like a rotting corpse after being left out in the sunlight, and strong enough to make you wretch, and heat emanates from the ground around it. You hop back a few steps, then turn around and break into a run.
You skid to a halt a full ten streets later, barely able to catch your breath. You kneel next to a wall and lean your shoulder against it, trying to steady the erratic beating of your heart and soothe the pain in your lungs.
The conclusion that was handed to you through this demonstration is clear enough to grasp. That does not mean you accept it.
Oh, undoubtedly, you would have been dead had you made that shot while still on the balcony. The angel's intervention had certainly saved you.
But it still doesn't matter. If anything, it has the opposite effect than what the Karkat impersonator hoped it would. This whole exercise did nothing more than stir the cold, slow rage that is the birthright of your noble blood. If you were meant to repent and change your course, you will do the opposite just to be contrary. You have not been proven wrong: the impostor has simply proven himself against you.
There are angels lining the roofs of buildings around you. It is clear to you now what you must do.
Grimly, you set yourself to the task of purging the land of demons. You will truly turn this place into a land of wrath—your own.