{(set: $dagger to 0) (set: $candles to 0) (set: $codex to 0) (set: $ritual to 0) ###THE RITUAL <p>The thing about ancient proto-Etruscan cuneiform is that there are like six people in the world who know how to translate it, and they aren't really very good. They have a handle on the essential nouns, but the relationships between words can be hard to gather. Even worse when the ritual is recorded in a poem. </p> <p>Point is, here you are, wearing the Ebon Mask of the Devourer, gathered beneath the bloodmoon while your thirteen disciples chant the Rite of the Final Becoming, and you're not super sure what happens next. You've got your [dagger]<c1|, you've got the [candles]<c2|, you even dredged up a copy of the [Shuthinic Codex]<c3|, but it's kind of guesswork at this point. </p> (click: ?c1)[(append: ?examine)[<p>Your dagger is a simple, straight-bladed chunk of obsidian, with leather wrapped around one end to serve as a hilt. It's easy to go overboard on daggers, but you like the simplicity of this one.</p> <p>Oh, you also have Inspector Langdon strapped to the altar. That sort of goes with the dagger.</p>]] (click: ?c2)[(append: ?examine)[<p>You brought thirteen tall red candles. You splurged for big beeswax ones, even though by all accounts you can light up the sigil with colorful birthday candles if you needed to. The look of the thing might not be important to B'tek Mer, the mighty god of flesh, but the neophytes always get a kick out of big dribbly candles.</p>]] (click: ?c3)[(append: ?examine)[<p>The Shuthinic Codex is a massive tome, bound in flesh and inked in blood. Then very carefully traced over with proper ink so that it would actually be halfway legible. It feels warm in your hands. You really, really don't want to have to read this thing.</p>]] []<examine| ####What do you want to try first? [[Dagger<-Unsheathe your dagger]].<br> [[Pass out the candles->Candles]].<br> [[Read from the Codex->Codex]]. (if: $endings >=6)[<br>[[Or... don't do any of it?->Give Up]]] (display:"BGColor")}{ ###The Sacrifice (set:$ritual to $ritual+1) (display:"BGColor") (if: $ritual is 1)[<p>Might as well get this out of way; Inspector Langdon is strapped down tight, but still, better cults than yours have busted when the sacrifice slipped out the back door.</p>] (if: $ritual is 2)[<p>Inspector Langdon's been really struggling at those ropes. You figure you ought to kill him before he breaks something.</p>] (if:$ritual is 3)[<p>Nothing left to do but stroll over to the sacrificial altar. Inspector Langdon's gone docile, so this should be easy.</p>] (set:$dagger to 1) <p>You unsheathe your dagger and lift it high above your head; your followers watch in awed silence. In the red moonlight, the dark blade seems to be dripping blood already.<p> <p>(if: $codex is 0)[On the altar, the inspector's eyes widen, and then close, as fear gives way to resignation](else:)[On the altar, the professor merely glances at the cruel tip of your dagger]. In one swift motion you plunge the tip of the dagger under his ribcage, then twist it up to pierce his heart. Incredibly, he doesn't scream, merely quivers and eventually falls silent as blood pools out of his chest and onto the altar, where little channels carved into the stone guide it to the gathering pool. (if: $candles > 0)[The blood is illuminated by the candles surrounding it. It almost glows.]</p> <p>You leave the dagger in place for now. If nothing else comes of this evening, it will be good to have the inspector out of your hair for good.</p> (display:"Progress") (if:$ritual is 1)[####It's always sad when the fun part's over. What's next?] (if:$ritual is 2)[####You're feeling good about this ritual. Time to finish it off.] (if: $candles <1)[[[Pass out the candles->Candles]].<br>] (if:$codex <1)[[[Read from the Codex->Codex]].<br>] (if:$ritual is 3)[<p>The air suddenly grows still. The rustling of robes, the lapping of Langdon's blood in the pool, even the crackling of the pyre grow silent. For a half second, there's the susurrus of cultists whispering to one another, but even that stops and all you can hear is your own heartbeat. [[The finale<-It's about to happen]].</p>] }{ ###The Sigil (set:$ritual to $ritual+1) (display:"BGColor") (if: $ritual is 1)[<p>Start with a crowd-pleaser: let the peons light the candles.</p>] (if: $ritual is 2)[<p>By now, your followers are getting a little antsy. Time to let them do their bit.</p> ] (if:$ritual is 3)[<p>The others are feeling pretty tense at this point. Luckily, it's time for their favorite part.</p>] (set:$candles to 1) <p>You nod, and they form a mostly-orderly line. You give each one a candle, and one-by-one they proceed to the everburning pyre, light their candles with the sacred flame, and put them into place at specified points on the sigil of B'tek Mer, just below the altar's gathering pool. (if: $dagger is 0)[From his vantage point on the altar above, Inspector Langdon watches nervously.](else:)[Reflections of the candles' flames dance in the blood that fills the pool.]</p> <p>You know they're trying, but you can still hear a faint, excited giggling from some of your followers. Cultists love lighting candles. You clear your throat in a teacherly way, but behind your Ebon Mask, you're smiling.</p> (display: "Progress") (if:$ritual is 1)[####That seemed to work. What's next?] (if:$ritual is 2)[####Only one thing left to do...] (if: $dagger <1)[[[Unsheathe your dagger->Dagger]].<br>] (if:$codex <1)[[[Read from the Codex->Codex]].<br>] (if:$ritual is 3)[<p>The air suddenly grows still. The rustling of robes, the lapping of Langdon's blood in the pool, even the crackling of the pyre grow silent. For a half second, there's the susurrus of cultists whispering to one another, but even that stops and all you can hear is your own heartbeat. [[The finale<-It's about to happen]].]</p> }{ (set:$ritual to 4) (display:"BGColor") <p>Any moment now...</p> (if:$endings is 0)[ <p>(live:1s)[(if:$dagger is 4)[You think](if:$codex is 4)[You're pretty sure](if:$candles is 4)[You're almost positive] that you got the spell right...<br> (stop:)]</p> <p>(live:3s)[(if:$dagger is 2)[Probably](if:$codex is 2)[Totally](if:$candles is 2)[Possibly].<br><br>(stop:)]</p> <p>(live:6s)[(stop:) (if: $codex>3 and $dagger>2)[[[It's happening!->Breakfast]]] (if: $codex>3 and $candles>2)[[[It's happening!->Explosion]]] (if: $candles>3 and $dagger>2)[[[It's happening!->Summoning]]] (if: $candles>3 and $codex>2)[[[It's happening!->Tentacle]]] (if: $dagger>3 and $codex>2)[[[It's happening!->Revenant]]] (if: $dagger>3 and $candles>2)[[[It's happening!->Avatar]]] ]</p> ] (else:)[ <p>(if:$dagger is 3)[You think](if:$codex is 3)[You're pretty sure](if:$candles is 3)[You're almost positive] that you got the spell right...</p> <p>(if:$dagger is 2)[Probably](if:$codex is 2)[Totally](if:$candles is 2)[Possibly].</p> <p>(if: $codex>3 and $dagger>2)[[[It's happening!->Breakfast]]] (if: $codex>3 and $candles>2)[[[It's happening!->Explosion]]] (if: $candles>3 and $dagger>2)[[[It's happening!->Summoning]]] (if: $candles>3 and $codex>2)[[[It's happening!->Tentacle]]] (if: $dagger>3 and $codex>2)[[[It's happening!->Revenant]]] (if: $dagger>3 and $candles>2)[[[It's happening!->Avatar]]]</p> ] }{ (if: $dagger is 3)[(set:$dagger to 4)(prepend:?progress)[<p>The earth is shaking now, so much that you and your disciples struggle to stay upright!</p>]] (if: $candles is 3)[(set:$candles to 4)(prepend:?progress)[<p>The entire altar is filled with crimson light, from no source you can identify.</p>]] (if: $codex is 3)[(set:$codex to 4)(prepend:?progress)[<p>The atmosphere has turned thin and cold, and it feels as if a cosmic pressure has been released.</p>]] (if: $dagger is 2)[(set:$dagger to 3)(prepend:?progress)[<p>The ground is trembling slightly, and the air smells of ozone.</p>]] (if: $candles is 2)[(set:$candles to 3)(prepend:?progress)[<p>The Sigil of B'tek Mer is glowing faintly. You can see the lines even when you close your eyes.</p>]] (if: $codex is 2)[(set:$codex to 3)(prepend:?progress)[<p>You can sense the impatience of the great one, coming from the other side of the cosmos.</p>]] (if: $dagger is 1)[(set:$dagger to 2)(prepend:?progress)[<p>The world seems tense and jagged, as if you've had far too much coffee.</p>]] (if: $candles is 1)[(set:$candles to 2)(prepend:?progress)[<p>The edges of the altar have grown fuzzy and indistinct.</p>]] (if: $codex is 1)[(set:$codex to 2)(prepend:?progress)[<p>There's a great invisible weight, as if you can feel the baleful attention of a being far greater than you.</p>]] (if: $ritual is 1)[(prepend: ?progress)[<p>The sky grows darker as the hour of B'tek Mer's arrival comes nigh.</p>]] (if: $ritual is 2)[(prepend: ?progress)[<p>The bloodmoon glows brighter, throwing strange, angular shadows about the altar.</p>]] (if: $ritual is 3)[(prepend: ?progress)[<p>Above, the stars have aligned, and the ritual can be completed.</p>]] (prepend:?progress)[---] |progress>[---] }{ ###The Breakfast <p>You wait.</p> <p>And wait.</p> <p>And wait. </p> <p>And even when it becomes obvious that nothing's going to happen, you wait some more. </p> <p>The air over the sigil clears, and grows back to normal. The electric atmosphere ends. Even the moon stops being blood-red. </p> <p>One of the cultists coughs, and that seems to break the dam. Soon, they're all whispering. </p> <p>"Silence!" you command, as imperiously as you know how. But... somehow you don't feel imperious. You feel like an idiot, sweating in an uncomfortable robe, wearing a stupid mask.</p> <p>"Um. Grand leader?" asks one of your followers. You recognize Rory's voice, and blush, thankfully hidden by the mask. Rory's your favorite... an independent streak normally at odds with good culting, but tempered by a real, honest curiosity in the nature of the universe, especially the parts of the universe which drive the sane mad. Also, Rory is really cute. Even in a voluminous, face-shrouding robe.</p> <p>"What?" you ask, harsher than you really meant. </p> <p>You're ready for something like "What happened?" or "Did it work?" or even "What did we do wrong?" You're ready for a lot of things. </p> <p>"It's okay," Rory said. "This happens. It's normal. We can always try again."</p> <p>You don't know what to say for a minute. "We can try again," you choke out, eventually.</p> <p>"We want to try again." Then, Rory seems to remember the other twelve cultists. "Right?"</p> </p>There's a chorus in the general theme of "yes, absolutely." </p> <p>You take off the Ebon Mask of the Devourer. It's not that you've stopped being embarrassed, but you're feeling okay with it. "We're done here. Want to go get late dinner, early breakfast somewhere?"</p> <p>Rory says "Yes." </p> <p>And then so does everyone else. And you and Rory share a little laugh; somehow, for a half-second the two of you had forgotten the others were there.</p> --- [[The End]] (set: $BreakfastEnd to 1) }{ ###The Explosion <p>Okay, so, a few minutes later, you've abandoned the altar and returned to your car, and you're about to set off on the long drive home. You're going to have to have a little sit down later and think about what went wrong. You think maybe you opened a portal to the cosmic graveyard where the ancient things dwell, but B'tek Mer wasn't there, just a mindless maelstrom of divine energy. Or something like that.</p> <p>Maybe you'll have it figured out by the next bloodmoon, but that's not your biggest concern right now.</p> <p>There had been a deep rumbling, the sort of ultrasound you feel in your gut, more than you actually hear. And then the pool of blood began to boil, a gentle simmer that quickly turned violent. And your disciples... ugh. Young, eager neophytes, more useful to you for their boundless enthusiasm than for any sort of cleverness, stepped closer. They'd just finished lighting the candles, and you can't exactly fault them for being curious. </p> <p>But the blood exploded and froze simultaneously, lances of solid crimson flying out in every direction. All thirteen of your followers were torn to pieces by the violence of the moment. You sigh, as you remember it. Most of them were, admittedly, the sorts of pathetic losers who fall into culting because they can't handle real life. But a few were harder to replace.</p> <p>You were far enough from the altar to survive, but you were still pelted with flying viscera and chunks of your hand-picked entourage. You even got kicked in the head by what you are reasonably sure was Lara's leg. </p> <p>There's no way you could clean up that many corpses overnight, not even when they're already sliced up for easy disposal, so on top of everything else you're probably going to have to leave the city for a couple years. It wasn't the most disastrous summoning you've ever been a part of, but it was, perhaps, the most disappointing.</p> --- [[The End]] (set: $ExplosionEnd to 1) }{ ###The Summoning <p>You sense it a split second before anything happens: it worked. </p> <p>At the gathering pool, the blood whirls, slowly at first, then faster, faster, until the reflections of the candles are no longer flickering points on the surface but a solid circle. The center of the circle dips and disappears, leaving a hole, only a few feet wide, in the middle of the puddle of blood. Within the hole, nothing but a deep, starless darkness. </p> <p>For short, foolish moment, you're concerned. A child could maybe squeeze through that hole, but how could a god? Then, drawn by some eldritch force, your eyes are pulled upwards. Of course... B'tek Mer won't clamber through the hole like a damned gopher. It's just a portal through which the old one's power can flow. B'tek is here already, a towering mass of writhing flesh, blotting out the red light of the moon. Undulating strips of grey meat twist and reform, revealing a great black eye, larger than a house. As you stare at the god, it stares back at you. It has nothing like a face, but ropy masses along its flank twitch in something that looks almost like a smile.</p> <p>It doesn't have a voice, and even if it did you realize that you wouldn't be able to hear it... you and your followers evidently started screaming when it arrived, and haven't stopped yet. Still, the words arrive in your mind, blotting out whatever bits of you are still able to feel fear. </p> ###(text-style:"expand")[(text-style:"smear")[Come with me.]] ###(text-style:"expand")[(text-style:"smear")[Together.]] ###(text-style:"expand")[(text-style:"smear")[We shall make this world.]] ###(text-style:"expand")[(text-style:"smear")[Know true chaos.]] <p>B'tek extends a fleshy pseudopod, the size of a bus, which slams on the ground near you, crushing your thirteen followers to pulp. You admit, you feel a brief moment of disappointment... they were disposable, yeah, but a few of them had potential. A few were... nice. Still, you wade through their blood and splattered viscera, and take your place upon your god's hand. Soon you find yourself being lifted up into a sky filled with stars you're sure you've never seen before.</p> --- [[The End]] (set: $SummonEnd to 1) }{ ###The Tentacle <p>You must have been pretty close. </p> <p>Obviously, B'tek Mer is the greatest of the dark gods, but there are other ancient things out there. All of them powerful enough that humanity are just ants, chittering specks of nothing before their eternal might. So when a giant tentacle, five stories tall at least, bursts forth from the pool of blood, it's clear to you that one of the other things out there managed to hijack the magic. </p> <p>The tentacle lashes blindly. The idiot god on the other side of the universe thought it could manifest a physical form first, and then pass through the portal. Maybe there are rituals that allow that. It's certainly worth a look, but not right now. Not as a mighty tentacle seizes one of your followers, James it looks like, and whirls him around at bone-cracking speeds. </p> <p>You yank your dagger our of Inspector Langdon's corpse, and nod at your remaining disciples. They pull weapons from secret pockets within their robes; mostly daggers and pistols, although Rory seems to be weilding a massive cattle prod, which should come in handy, and Thomas is lamely holding his belt as a garrote, which won't.</p> <p>You all cautiously face the wriggling appendage, which is even now slamming James's remains on the ground in a futile attempt to crush someone or something. </p> <p>As one, you turn on the tentacle. With a little luck, you can slice it off at the base without losing anyone else, and try the ritual again when the next bloodmoon rolls around. </p> --- [[The End]] (set: $TentacleEnd to 1) }{ ###The Revenant <p>After a long, suffocating second, the corpse on the altar twitches. </p> <p>That's... not supposed to happen. </p> <p>You think maybe it was an illusion, but no; the remains of Inspector Langdon twitch again, more violently this time. Clearly, you did something wrong. The portal must not have been formed enough, and only the barest possible shred of the old one touched our world. Just enough, you realize as Langdon's arms so easily snap the ropes that bound him securely to the altar, to animate this body. </p> <p>Langdon's eyes, now glazed and glowing with a deep violet light, turn to you. You instinctively reach for your dagger, only to remember that it's still thrust into the inspector's chest, and wouldn't be of much use even if you had access to it. He rises from the altar and steps toward you, leaving a trail of blood behind him. </p> <p>"I thought I was finally rid of you!" you shout, furious. Mad at the inspector, sure, but mostly mad at yourself. Suddenly, his bloodless hands are around your neck, impossibly strong, as he tries to tear into your flesh with his teeth.</p> <p>The next hour is a goddamn farce, one which costs you three of your disciples. Eventually, Rory comes up with a plan to lure the zombie into the everburning pyre, and since Rory is one of your actually clever followers, it works. On the third try, after one last cultist gets her neck eaten as the flaming zombie went through its final throes.</p> <p>At least that busybody is out of your hair. Again. For good this time!</p> --- [[The End]] (set: $RevenantEnd to 1) }{ ###The Avatar <p>In your final moments, you think you realize what happened. </p> <p>It's a guess, but it's the last thing you'll ever think so, you might as well assume it's right. B'tek was more than ready to enter the world, but there wasn't a path through which it could travel. In other words, while you got it mostly right, you didn't get it right enough. </p> <p>You feel a warmth in your gut, and a gentle pain in your limbs, almost as if you exercised too much yesterday. </p> <p>Then, your bones explode, shredding your skin to ribbons, killing several of the cultists, although most are protected by their thick robes. You can only feel the first quarter-second or so of this process, but the agony seems to go on forever, and you know what will happen now.</p> <p>If the others have half a brain, they'll fall to their knees, instantly. Knowing your followers, that means Rory will kneel, and then maybe James and Bella will follow suit, and, eh, Tad, Ox, Brittany and maybe Liz will be on the ball enough to follow their lead. The rest are gonna be slaughtered pretty soon.</p> <p>Regardless, your boneless body will become an avatar for the god, a vessel of its dark power. A ragged human figure, a sack of skin held together by impossible energy, stitched together by darkness itself. Alas, it's not the true form of B'tek Mer, and the god's avatar won't last a week before your weak, human flesh rots away. Oh, but what a week it will be! You got to experience it once as a neophyte. The avatar will lead all the cultists who knelt in supplication. They'll roam for miles, slaughtering wildly, burning what can be burned and pounding everything else into powder. There will be no time to sleep, no time to eat anything more complex than hurried bites of raw flesh. At least until your skin is too weak, and the avatar dissipates altogether. Oh, what a week it will be!</p> <p>You're sorry you're going to have to miss it. </p> --- [[The End]] (set: $AvatarEnd to 1) }=><= ##[[The Ritual]] By Ed Turner (display:"BGColor"){ <div class="container"> <div class="bgthing"> (if: $ritual is -1)[ <img src="[email protected]#$" onerror="$('html').addClass('rit-1')" />] (if: $ritual is -2)[ <img src="[email protected]#$" onerror="$('html').addClass('rit-2')" />] (if: $ritual is -3)[ <img src="[email protected]#$" onerror="$('html').addClass('rit-3')" />] (if: $ritual is -4)[ <img src="[email protected]#$" onerror="$('html').addClass('rit-4')" />] (if: $ritual is 0)[ <img src="[email protected]#$" onerror="$('html').removeClass()" />] (if: $ritual is 1)[ <img src="[email protected]#$" onerror="$('html').addClass('rit1')" />] (if: $ritual is 2)[ <img src="[email protected]#$" onerror="$('html').addClass('rit2')" />] (if: $ritual is 3)[ <img src="[email protected]#$" onerror="$('html').addClass('rit3')" />] (if: $ritual is 4)[ <img src="[email protected]#$" onerror="$('html').addClass('rit4')" />] ]</div></div> }{ ###The End (set: $ritual to 0) (set: $endings to $SummonEnd + $RevenantEnd + $BreakfastEnd +$TentacleEnd +$AvatarEnd+$ExplosionEnd +$FinaleEnd) <p>You have uncovered $endings of 7 possible fates.</p> * The Summoning - (if: $SummonEnd is 1)[Ride alongside B'tek Mer, crush the world into dust.](else:)[???] * The Avatar - (if: $AvatarEnd is 1)[Become the earthly avatar of a dark god. Die horribly in the process.](else:)[???] * The Revenant - (if: $RevenantEnd is 1)[Deal with that friggin' inspector for the absolute last time.](else:)[???] * The Explosion - (if: $ExplosionEnd is 1)[Rethink your life choices after things go especially awry.](else:)[???] * The Tentacle - (if: $TentacleEnd is 1)[Bring the wrong god into the world. Stab the crap out of it. ](else:)[???] * The Breakfast - (if: $BreakfastEnd is 1)[Accidentally invite the whole gang to get pancakes.](else:)[???] * The Stars - (if: $FinaleEnd is 1)[Make the right choices.](else:)[???] --- [[The Ritual<-Play again?]] <br>[[Credits]] }{ ###The Nagging Sense of Doubt <p>What's the point, really? What are you doing here? Dressed in an awkward robe and a mask that's giving you splinters on your face. Putting up with a bunch of followers who, with maybe one exception, fell into culting because they had nothing better to do with their time. They're the losers who couldn't find a community of peers on the Internet. The Internet for Mer's sake! And for what?</p> <p>To destroy the world? </p> <p>Isn't that a red flag, maybe? </p> <p>You address the others. "What the hell are we doing? You guys... this is... this is stupid." You take off your mask and toss it to the ground. "You know, the world is totally messed up, I know that, we all do, but do you think maybe that the right answer isn't, like, destroying it altogether, but, I don't know... doing some service work or something? Make the world a better place."</p> <p>The assembled cultists don't move. </p> <p>Ugh. Maybe you're just getting too old for this. </p> --- ####Well, are your options again? [[GUDagger<-Unsheathe your dagger]].<br> [[Pass out the candles->GUCandles]].<br> [[Read from the Codex->GUCodex]].<br> }{ ###The Apology (set: $dagger to 1) (set: $ritual to $ritual -1) (display:"BGColor") <p>You unsheathe your dagger and, with no ceremony, slice through one of the ropes binding the inspector to the altar.</p> <p>He'd been following your movements for months now, and had started interfering with your plans. Seizing artifacts before the cultists could, getting to ancient texts before you and defacing or outright destroying them, just being an outright pill. And worse, he had this damnable ability to just evade every trap you set. You had to rent out an entire diner for a day to finally catch him unawares. This was supposed to be the grand victory.</p> <p>But it feels so hollow. "Uh," you start, not really sure how to continue. "Sorry for trying to kill you."</p> <p>It's a lame apology, and you know it, but it's from the heart. You hope the inspector realizes it.</p> <p>He hesitates a moment, ready for the trick, but you just jerk your head to the exit. He tears off his gag, hurriedly undoes the ropes at his feet, and runs off without a word, surprisingly quickly for a man of his age. </p> (if: $ritual > -3)[####So, what's next? (if:$candles is 0)[[[Pass out the candles->GUCandles]].<br>] (if:$codex is 0)[[[Read from the Codex->GUCodex]].<br>]] (else:)[<br><p>Well, that's everything then. Nothing to do now but [[GUFinale<-watch the sky]].</p>] } { ###The Pep-Talk (set: $candles to 1) (set: $ritual to $ritual -1) (display:"BGColor") <p>You turn to the cultists. They start shuffling into a line, but you wave your hands and say "No, no, no."</p> <p>They awkwardly stare at you. Or at least, faces fully concealed by voluminous hoods are pointed in your general direction. You might be projecting the awkwardness. </p> <p>You sigh, and start passing out the candles. "Here, take this. Don't light it now, people, we're not... this isn't happening, alright? This is over, okay? Consider it a keepsake. A parting gift."</p> <p>You start shooing the cultists away. "You know, the first step to making a difference in the world is making a difference in your own life, I think. Go home and make some real friends. Find a community. It's not as hard as you think. Learn a sport, or join a gaming group. Develop a sexual fetish. Just find something you care about, then look for other people that care about it too. Nihilism isn't as rewarding as you think it is! Now get out of here!"</p> <p>Slowly, twelve cultists wander off. Some alone, some in small groups, whispering. You know they're probably talking about what just happened, but you hope maybe they're agreeing to talk about it over coffee or something. Some daytime activity that doesn't involve robes. </p> <p>One cultist stays behind, but you can't tell who behind the robe. Doesn't really matter, you suppose. </p> (if: $ritual > -3)[####So, what's next? (if:$dagger is 0)[[[Unsheathe your dagger->GUDagger]].<br>] (if:$codex is 0)[[[Read from the Codex->GUCodex]].<br>]] (else:)[<br><p>Well, that's everything then. Nothing to do now but [[GUFinale<-watch the sky]].</p>] }{ ###The Disposal (set: $codex to 1) (set: $ritual to $ritual -1) (display:"BGColor") <p>The Shuthinic Codex is, like,10,000 years old. It's written in a language which has no known relationship to anything spoken on Earth today. There's evidence that it was, at least briefly, in the possession of nearly every European royal family, thousands of conquerors, most dynasty-starting emperors, and three presidents. There are actual, functional, effective magical spells in it. Its value is literally incalculable.</p> <p>You whip it over the altar, and it lands in the dead center of the everburning pyre, where it shrieks wildly as it burns. After a moment, the pyre extinguishes itself, and the only remnant of the Codex is a pile of ash and, it looks like, teeth.</p> <p>Good riddance.</p> (if: $ritual > -3)[####So, what's next? (if:$candles is 0)[[[Pass out the candles->GUCandles]].<br>] (if:$dagger is 0)[[[Unsheathe your dagger->GUDagger]].<br>]] (else:)[<br><p>Well, that's everything then. Nothing to do now but [[GUFinale<-watch the sky]].</p>] } { ###The Stars (set: $ritual to -4) (display:"BGColor") <p>You watch the bloodmoon overhead. Deep crimson slowly grows paler.</p> <p>The lone cultist who hung back passes you and takes a seat on the altar. They push some ropes aside, and tap the spot next to them, inviting you to sit down as well.</p> <p>You do. It's more comfortable than you'd have thought, although it's really only meant for one person at a time. You're pushed right up against, it turns out, Rory.</p> <p>"Sorry," you say. "I know you really cared about all this."</p> <p>Rory smiles. "I never cared about B'tek."</p> <p>"Really?"</p> <p>"Translating old documents. Discovering beautiful artifacts and works of art that have survived thousands of years. Spending long hours working with someone with a passion, even if it's for something both eldrich and esoteric. That's what I care about. Human sacrifice I could take or leave." </p> <p>"How do you feel about watching the stars, waiting for the time to be right?"</p> <p>"I love it. It's... just a little chilly though, with the everburning pyre extinguished. I think the ashes of the Shuthinic Codex are actually pulling heat from the air."</p> <p>It's true, the temperature is slowly dropping. But together, you figure out that the two of you could share your robe like a blanket.</p> <p>You both watch the bloodmoon turn white again, and you watch the sky turn blue and then pink as the sun starts to rise, and you talk about your lives when you aren't following the prophecies of the blind seer. And eventually, the time is right, and you leave the altar, together.</p> --- [[The End]] (set: $FinaleEnd to 1) }{ ###The Spell (set:$ritual to $ritual+1) (display:"BGColor") (if: $ritual is 1)[<p>Alright, this is the worst part of any ritual. You're going to get it over with.</p>] (if: $ritual is 2)[<p>You don't want to close out with the reading, so you tackle that next.</p>] (if:$ritual is 3)[<p>Ugh, there's no putting it off any longer. Time to do the reading.</p>] (set:$codex to 1) <p>You crack open the Shuthinic Codex to the right spot and gaze at the words. As always, the words seem to gaze back at you, the harsh, angular shapes burning their way into your brain. You open your mouth, and the words pour out into the world, unbidden. Gutteral sounds, unknown to any human language, barely expessible by human mouths, being shouted from your throat. The wind whips up around you(if: $candles > 0)[, nearly extinguishing the candles around the sigil]. (if: $dagger is 0)[On the altar, the inspector begins screaming, muffled by his gag, as the words burrow into his mind, then grows silent as whatever vestiges of his sanity are burned away.]</p> <p>At some point in the reading you bite your tongue and your mouth fills with blood, but there's no way to stop at this point. You're almost thrown backwards by the very power of the spell you're reading, but one of your cultists catches you in time. Thankfully it's only a few minutes before they're finished. Your throat is raw and your lips vividly painful. The book slams shut of its own accord and once again your body is your own to control. </p> <p>Bleh. Creepy.</p> (display: "Progress") (if:$ritual is 1)[####Alright, now that that's over, what's next?] (if:$ritual is 2)[####At least that's over. Time to end this.] (if: $dagger <1)[[[Unsheathe your dagger->Dagger]].<br>] (if:$candles <1)[[[Pass out the candles->Candles]].<br>] (if:$ritual is 3)[<p>The air suddenly grows still. The rustling of robes, the lapping of Langdon's blood in the pool, even the crackling of the pyre grow silent. For a half second, there's the susurrus of cultists whispering to one another, but even that stops and all you can hear is your own heartbeat. [[The finale<-It's about to happen]].</p>] }{ ###The Credits <p>"The Ritual" was designed and written by Edward Turner. Its content is licenced under (link:"Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence")[(gotoURL: "http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/")].</p> <p>My website is (link:"Synanthropes.com")[(gotoURL:"http://synanthropes.com")], and I'm on Twitter as (link:"EddlyT")[(gotoURL:"http://twitter.com/eddlyt")].</p> <p>This game was made in Twine, created by Chris Klimas. See more at (link: "Twinery.org")[(gotoURL:"http://twinery.org")].</p> <p>Thanks for playing!</p> <p>[[Start again?->The Ritual]]</p> }