Chapter 10:


A Snowed Abode

They were teleported back to the beginning for some reason, so they wondered why... but, at any rate, they had the right side of the castle yet to explore, and it seems principally they had this other room, parallel to the one formerly with the bipedal, talking beetle in... so, they were not quite sure what to expect, and this place had already proved certain madness...Bookmark here

They went in, either way, and what they found was bizarre yet... a clown. One wondered if it might be the monarch himself... perhaps finally a career change? Could be viable... clowns are not exactly at risk of extinction, not as long as people want to be entertained through silly mechanisms, at least... but, one assumed this is but a clown with some sort of madness, considering in their place before was a beetle (on the left side of the castle, from the point of view of Pax and Clemens, for relativity works like that)... and indeed the clown was, at the very least, incoherent (one supposes madness might be relative too, but then presumably risking life to save what is bizarrely perceived to be an institution about to go extinct despite no immediate threat, using some ancient, unknown beings, and thinking that loyalty could somehow supplicate them... that could be a candidate for insanity, possibly).Bookmark here

"Would you rather be here or not? Why, do tell here, are you not elsewhere? The stench of corruption is palpable, it enlivens, oh it sustains. Would you like this or that? How, we know not what we know!" Thus, Pax assumed, the clown might be a touch unstable... perhaps only ever so slightly, of course... but then again, if one was to entertain oneself, why not consider the questions, rationally or otherwise?Bookmark here

Pax assumed that, as he was here, that he would rather be here at this exact juncture, presumably, not that this odd place was his hobby to wander around, anyway... and if one was indeed here, how could they be elsewhere? It seems to be, surely, a problem with logic... then again, we are dealing with a clown, who one could argue makes their best effort to, visually, palpably, and directly make it known that logic is not exactly the most crucial aspect here... if it was why would bodily features be exaggerated, to start with? Thinking of which... that was the same case with the beetle too, considering that, you know, they are usually about an inch long and crawl on all fours... not upright and as tall as people. So, one wonders, if this castle did go back in time when most creatures were as massive as a house... does that mean there are miniature clowns? It could... possibly... be even funnier, if that was the case... no?Bookmark here

Anyway, it should also be noted as a strange artefact that the clown seems to acknowledge corruption? The monarch's, presumably? If so, that would likely rule this jester out as the candidate for being the person? Well, Pax supposed, it could also be possible that insanity kicked in and identity was suddenly confused, or memory loss happened... based on what the clown is saying that could be true, but there are several other alternatives too. Also, if corruption has a 'stench' (with the expectant negative connotations), how does it enliven, sustain? Does that imply the stench is a positive, then? One supposes some people might think it is... but clowns? What reason for or against do clowns have against corruption? How would it matter, and why? What, also, could 'this' or 'that' be referring to? Different types of corruption, perhaps? By definition, too, we do indeed not know what we do not know... or do? Is this some kind of 'mental' clown? As in, one that fools around with minds? Then again, everything here seems to do this, from the beetle to that green-haired strange... person? One shudders to think of what else could be uncovered... truly.Bookmark here

"Whoa... who, or what might you be?! And what is all this weird stuff? Maybe a bit imbalanced in your clown career?" Pax replied, as if somehow reading all my thoughts beforehand and channelling them? Wait, maybe he could read one's analyses all this time? Should keep that in mind... also, he doubts the clown has much of a career in a relatively small room full of armour and boxes. I have never personally seen a box laugh...Bookmark here

"Hahaha! Why would anyone assume anything of anyone? Species, animals, plants? Why, I could be an atom taken form and made whole for all you all know! Why would I ever not do this? Why would I ever be here!" Why, indeed? An atom taken form? Is that not, perhaps, redundant... as atoms are, in fact, constituent of the whole? Or maybe it is one atom in this case... suddenly growing large, as if repeatedly cloned? Cloned... clowned? Ah, maybe there is a conspiracy yet... or not, and this joker is but manic, and... lost, confused? Or maybe the clown is indeed a dog in disguise? A bowl of petunias in a large coat? One admits this is going too far with the analysis of what is, ultimately, befuddling random nonsense by someone with a red, puffed up artificial nose... who somehow thinks the appearance is threatening? Although, I suppose, that along with the red, slick hair that somehow juts out at the corners as if they were about to form horns... could be perceived as somewhat horrific, possibly? We shall see... also, how the clown went from questioning the reason for Pax and Clemens being here, to questioning oneself... is indeed a strange reckoning.Bookmark here

"Look, can we even communicate at all here? Can you possibly tell me what you are for?" Pax said, as if somehow one could reason with irrationality... and what for? Is that, like, what a whole being is for? Quite a grand question to ask someone who is, evidently, losing it a bit...Bookmark here

"The split! Taken apart, torn to pieces! I need the smell of dire! The crimson river of eternity! Where? Where?!" Ah, yes, I suppose this is about the time when the two should clearly back off as slowly... or as quickly, as possible... but, I mean, they even stood in front of some giant beetle, how was that ever a guarantee that it would not have just crunched up their heads? Done indeed what the clown is only just now rambling about for some macabre reason? I am guessing they were merely lucky that the creature was just cryptic, and not a murderous psychopath... could that be what this buffoon is? Could the whole visage be there to be, indeed, merely a veneer, a façade? Also, with this we might have confirmed that, indeed, the clown seems to like stenches after all, whether of corruption or... dire straits? Wait, is that what Pax and Clemens are in right now? Crimson river does certainly not sound anything like they would want happening to them... maybe the clown is a Maenad in disguise after all, and is about to unleash all...?Bookmark here

"I am guessing the answer to my question is a no... but there seems to have been something expressed, still..." Pax concluded, without necessarily backing off and running for the hills, if there were indeed any hills (I suppose they could go into the icy mountains, and it will be quite a sight if a crazed clown decided to pursue them...)Bookmark here

What was expressed, though? I mean, even if someone - anyone - needs a "crimson river of eternity" you would not just give it to them, right? Unless it was, I suppose... something else? A metaphor if someone so seemingly fanatical was capable of such? What could it be, though?Bookmark here

"..." was all he said from then on, regardless... and what Pax whispered beneath his breath was "did mania reverse to silence...?"Bookmark here

For indeed it was as strange as a situation can be, but they did not intend to be bothered by such small fries, if indeed there was such a food around here... speaking of which, what is that smell?Bookmark here

The two followed it, beyond a corridor and more flames, with this side's corner also having a purple energy barrier thing that was as of yet apparently ready to cut grass at any moment. They also happened to notice some diamonds in the middle of the upper section of this floor, which appeared to be identical to the one that previously teleported them back to the entrance, except there were three of them this time, and they seemed to be blocking the entrance to stairs below.Bookmark here

There was a room just next to this mid-section, though... a room where the smell intensified, and just who would not follow quite the delectable aroma? There seemed to be a table, although it seemed to be made for ghosts, as there was no one. The first plate had...Bookmark here

"Food that still seems to be sizzling? Looks alluring..." Pax said, not even bothering to think twice as to how physics could even allow it to still be sizzling... unless it was just cooked about now and the chefs were hiding inside cupboards, or something... why is it he is so reckless? First the giant beetle, then the clown, now food left on its own?! Clearly, for Pax and possibly Clemens there is more of a possibility that they would succumb to food poisoning than some strange bat-crow chimera getting to them. But then, I suppose, everyone has their priorities... was it some kind of soup? Not the tea next to it, though, he suddenly wants to "continue our investigation", despite doing nothing but procrastination for most of the time up to here, including when they were in front of those two strange beings. No, it is definitely the tea that gets rejected here... now who would not want tea likely made by some clown who wants to tear you asunder?Bookmark here

There was also that painting from back in the inn too, and suddenly the reference to insanity... made more sense. Two empty barrels, and another dish with a umami taste, because I suppose why would a mad monarch who had just tried some alien recipe for disaster and who houses some strange clown and an over-sized beetle, not want umami food? Priorities, I declare!Bookmark here

Clemens also suddenly noticed the "air is full of its savoury flavour", with reference to a plate next to a lamp which bizarrely also sat on this table as if it was edible. This was like the one in the room with books, large beetle and teddies... but at least one could arguably say that it could be useful when reading, in that context. Instead, here, near the food there was not one, but two lamps, as if someone was trying to ward off vampires? (Or was that only sunlight?)Bookmark here

There were also...
"Some raw potatoes... want any mash, Clemens?" Oh, sure, so you refuse tea because we still need to finish this investigation, but suddenly you want to mash these potatoes from scratch? Do you not know how much time that would take, O non-peace symbol? What is next, pasta?
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"Hey, maybe we could pelt the monarch with these tomatoes? Uh, yeah, doubt it would affect the 'archetypes'..." Suddenly he remembers what we are investigating... and sensibly figures out that some creature of the abyss would probably not even budge if a tomato hit it, or a potato for that matter. Why also, do tell, would you need to do that when you have a sword...? A... bowl?Bookmark here

"I guess if I had some free time and wanted to cook in some insane monarch's lair with crow-bats around, purple energy beams, bipedal talking beetles, and maddened clowns... this would be available at any time..." Oh, you are so close to realizing the precarity of the situation you two could possibly be in... why does no one ever do until they do actually have a problem on their hands? And why would anyone be so easily distracted by food? Oh, fried... oh...Bookmark here

"Whoever made this is actually a somewhat skilled chef... wait, why am I even trying some stranger's food?" Exactly! It could be even worse than food poisoning! Besides, your home is just some five minutes away by the hand of the virtual clock, so you could always return there and do whatever you fancy... you could even sleep in your own bed, cuddled near to a fuzzy cat... so, why in the world are you tasting some potential psychopath's cuisine? (Why do I even bother...)Bookmark here

After this they finally come to notice a glaringly obvious red orb in corner of this room, just beyond all the dishes... I wonder how they could have ever missed it, such a mystery... Bookmark here

"A knife for cooking near a blood-red globe...? Not a good vibe..." Only now do you notice the vibe? Where were you half an hour ago? Why am I even talking to myself about this? Suddenly I do not seem to mind if these two could establish bilateral communications, or such...Bookmark here

Either way... the orb, or globe, seemed to... drip, drips... as if the very essence of this sanguine symbol of a nightmare was oozing, like a porous surface, or sweat after exercise, but no need for more analogies, for unlike its blue counterpart, this one seemed to scream urgency. As if a thousand souls were trapped in its wake... as if the incipient lunacy of many around here was but the symbol of possible impermanence...Bookmark here

But Pax and his colleague took the orb, anyway, caring not an iota, even now, as to whether their hands might burn at the touch, or so... at least it looks that kind of object....Bookmark here

"Could this be what that... oddity... wants...?" It might be, it would fit, if by some strangely twisted geometry, the definition of a "crimson river", although it was not quite as free-flowing as one might have imagined... and if so is what is inside an entire river? Well, could also be a metaphor, I suppose... and since we did not seem to find out what the blue orb contained before, I somehow have my doubts that we will find out anything about this too...Bookmark here

Before leaving, suddenly, free of all sudden and mysterious diversions... a clock could be glimpsed on the wall, although one would not know why a dinner guest would need it...Bookmark here

"Time flies out of perception as readily as a bee...
...for if a banshee could chime practice deception how could it...?"Bookmark here

Was this the first reference to time this world makes? It seems original. It plays with position, and clearly it is deliberately confusing, but then so would time be if it reversed its flow as it theoretically can do... still, Pax had no idea why banshees would chime, or otherwise utilize deception in any way... I mean, do they even exist? Oh, why am I even doubting this when... yes, big bug, exists... and bees? I suppose some are purely metaphors...Bookmark here

The two went back with the carmine blob of horror... or so it might be viewed as... back to the crazed one, and... not much of a surprise really, clown vanished into thin air, and so leaving space to the back of the room... where the concept of 'oneness' could be found in yet another bowl. Which was not quite comprehensible, really... this is implying we are one with... who? The clown? Can never think about such a horrifying image... then again, it would make sense if we take the etymological root of 'monarchy', 'rule of one', although why there would be some concept in some bowl no one is sure about... mutuality and oneness, perhaps this is implying some sort of transactional relationship? One broken with the introduction of archetypes, possibly? Let us not overthink this, at any rate...Bookmark here

They, thus, went back to the front of this floor, back to where the energy beams were blocking their way, and indeed it was gone once again... so, they entered. It was the gloomy place's other side, with most of the same artefacts, statues, and inscriptions, with one exception being the one in the middle of the first room subtly changing its discourse...Bookmark here

"This is but a path to that which is not here and, yet, is merely permeating the whole." The other one was a microcosm to the whole, so one supposes this fits in with the hypothesis that alchemical principles have something to do with it, as it is with yin and yang, with the implication of one permeating the other. To further pinpoint this, the teleportation circle seems to transport Pax and Clemens not to the room in front of the circle itself, but the one to the north of the room on the other side, that is, where they currently were now was the south of where they teleported previously, from left-side of the gloomy floor. Either way, just trivial details... except, one assumes, this was why the green-haired talked about 'one' coming from 'two'...Bookmark here

Speaking of, there was another one in this room on the other side, this time male, hair ever so slightly less intense, but still verdant, still as if attached to the floor's hue in some bizarre amalgamation. Who these two were, no one knows...Bookmark here

"Why is there that which creates mutual suffering, why?" Ah, this time indeed it is about mutuality, the item we had previously, actually... good question, though, for one would think if it is mutual suffering then one would stop as it harms self-interest, but some studies have actually revealed how some would continue on because the other one is suffering, regardless...Bookmark here

"Why is there that which annihilates mutual bettering, why?" Some would speculate it is cooperation which resulted in the modern world, but was it? If it was, why the aforementioned? If one out of two are not cooperating, then what even is its definition?Bookmark here

"Why must cohesive units of lives be so inclined on destruction?" I suppose, it might have something to do with them not actually being cohesive, nor units? I also presume, like the individual's body is a whole, that errors might creep in, as often happens in both biological and technological units, and as such the statement above might not be absolutely true, even if one is a cohesive unit... 'inclined' also might possibly imply 'Thanatos', which I believe was mentioned in Ignis, although its meaning was not entirely clear at that point... Thanatos in this sense, then, just like in mythology, is an inclination towards destruction, whether conscious or not...Bookmark here

"Why does this happen at the same time reproduction is evolutionarily encouraged?" Life does seem to contradict itself, does it not, green-haired oddity? I mean, I am not even sure you are alive, being here in this room by yourself, seemingly connected to the entire architecture, spouting random questions and statements, but might one always assume here is at least the slightest bit of a desire to keep existing at the very least, even if one happens to be a clone?Bookmark here

After this he seems to say nothing else except "salvaged" if the concept of oneness was held by whoever was the interlocutor, as Pax did, or "damaged", for some reason, if not, as if somehow damage was the fundamental unit of destruction, or such?Bookmark here

They, in any case, went on forward, towards this other, second crystal, and indeed it teleported them back to the main floor from before, with one main difference now... the three crystals were gone, and all there was left were accessible stairs leading to some lower floor, a place anyone might be hesitant to go to, but investigating this is why the two came...Bookmark here

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