The Human Game: Water Under the Bridge

The Human Game: Water Under the Bridge
>Are those more frescoes on the wall?
> Sigh. Sigh like you've never sighed before.
>Take a second look at the others
> Inspect and open the box; there might be something of value there.
>Check the chest, is this a leap of faith challenge
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>Take a second look at the others

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Enough looking into the darkness. This is supposed to be a Bridge of Sighs, and it isn’t here at all. Time to get the other’s thoughts on the situation.
The first you turn to is Joe. His expression has changed, from stunned silence to clear agitation – his eyes dart from side to side as you address him.

THALIA: Are you alright, Joe?
JOE: Dark…
JOE: It’s really quite…dark.
THALIA: Hm? Is the dark not something you like?
JOE: No! Not at all!
JOE: Just being here…I have this overwhelming feeling of doom…
JOE: L-like something is in those shadows, watching with glazed, cadaverous eyes…
THALIA: Joe! Joe, please, what are you saying?
THALIA: There’s light here. We’re not in any danger.
THALIA: There’s no need to panic.
JOE: I can’t help it. I’ve been terrified of the dark since I was a child, y-you know.
JOE: Oh, oh, my poor heart, it feels like it’s aiming to tremble right out of my chest-!

You stand there, unsure what to do – reassuring someone has never been your strong suit, and it seems the more Joe stares into the distant dark corners of the room, the more anxious he becomes. Do you reach out? Find words to soothe him? You open your mouth, ready to pull forth whatever comforting phrases you know off the top of your head-

CAMILLA: I can help.

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You close your mouth, your thoughts interrupted. Camilla suddenly steps up to the both of you, though her gaze is completely fixed on Joe.

JOE: What?
CAMILLA: Stay still. Do you mind if I touch you?
CAMILLA: Just on your upper chest.
JOE: I-I guess?
JOE: What will that do?
CAMILLA: Hold still.

As you watch, she raises her right hand, pressing it firmly above Joe’s upper chest, where his heart would be. Joe stares at her, perplexed, and you do too – what is that supposed to do? Help? How? You almost want to laugh, this has to be a joke-

And then, suddenly, the tension in Joe’s shoulders fades away. Eyes widening in slight surprise, he lets out a sigh, one of his hands moving to his chest. He visibly looks like a burden has been lifted off of his shoulders.

JOE: Huh, I…
JOE: I feel much better, somehow.
JOE: And you did all of that with…with just a touch?
CAMILLA: I told you I’d help.
JOE: Yes, yes, it’s like I can finally breathe again…

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What just happened? You blink, unsure if you were hallucinating the whole thing.

THALIA: What…what did you do?
CAMILLA: I have magic hands.


THALIA: E-excuse me?
CAMILLA: My hands are magical.
CAMILLA: I can calm down anyone with a touch.

Is she being serious? You had thought she’d say something like “this is a technique I learned from some book about calming down” or something of the like, but…magical HANDS?

CAMILLA: Would you like if I’d do this to you too, Thalia?
CAMILLA: It would not take long.
THALIA: I don’t see how that would…do anything…
JOE: Oh, come now!

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Joe suddenly speaks up – he seems worlds apart from the anxious, jittery man from before. In fact, his eyes seem to light up with a determined glimmer, ever so bright against the darkness of the room around you.

JOE: It really wouldn’t hurt.
JOE: I feel much better! Like I could fight off Atlas himself and carry the world!
JOE: You should give it a go, I say!
CAMILLA: I don’t mind helping you.
JOE: It’s like all my worries have melted away in an instant.
JOE: She really does have magical hands!
JOE: I certainly believe in it!

The two stare at you expectantly – one as expressionless as ever, the other practically beaming with a wild, childish spirit.

This is…

This is all very stupid.

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THALIA: Ah, well, Camilla…I appreciate the offer. I do.
THALIA: But I’m feeling just fine.
CAMILLA: Are you sure?
THALIA: Yes, I am quite sure.
THALIA: Also, I admit, I’m a little skeptical about your choice of method.
JOE: Oh, Thalia, don’t have your mind be so closed to the discoveries of the world around you! If it works, it works!
THALIA: Well, maybe I’ll try it later, okay?
CAMILLA: I suppose.
CAMILLA: But it would just be a touch…
CAMILLA: Just to reach out, and…

She suddenly turns away from you – even in the low light, you can see a healthy shade of red blossom in her cheeks. Is she…embarrassed? It’s strange, how her expression doesn’t change, and yet she seems sheepish enough to start mumbling to herself. It’s an odd look for her. A very stoic young woman, suddenly and inexplicably timid…

CAMILLA: But I guess it would be too much...
THALIA: Like I said, Camilla, I'd like to see how it's done later. Just not right now.

She doesn’t meet your eyes. You could swear her blush deepens. Joe clicks his tongue, obviously disappointed in your decision.

JOE: Ah, you’re missing out.
JOE: I swear, it really felt like she managed to banish all my fears for a moment, with a simple, solitary touch!
THALIA: If it helped you out, Joe, then I’m glad.
THALIA: But let’s focus on other things, alright? Like where the bridge is.
JOE: Right, right, that is a conundrum…

> Inspect and open the box; there might be something of value there.

[Image: 8lwANJR.png]

Shaking your head, you turn your attention to the strange box resting in between the lamps – whatever just happened isn’t important. This box, however, is. It seems like some kind of metal chest with handles, colored grey and black save for the strange golden decoration on top of it – it’s divided into two with a line, with a black dot on each side of it. What does it mean? It vaguely reminds you of Seth’s and Cancel’s mask.

JOE: So what is this, exactly?
JOE: A box?
THALIA: Seems so. Let me try to open it…

You press your fingers underneath the lid – it doesn’t budge. You even put a little strength into it, but to no avail – it’s closed. You don’t see a keyhole anywhere, nor a latch or a switch. Camilla steps up to have a go at it, and after a moment she shakes her head. She can’t open it, either.

JOE: So what do we do now if it can’t be opened?
JOE: Surely there must be a secret to it.
JOE: Or maybe this is some Pandora’s Box, never meant to be opened or tampered with…
THALIA: Well, Pandora’s Box had hope on the inside, did it not?
THALIA: Either way, I do wonder about those handles…
THALIA: Perhaps there’s something underneath it?
JOE: Oh, right! Yes, maybe we can lift it up.
CAMILLA: Thalia, I will lift up this side.
CAMILLA: You can lift from the other.

You nod. That sounds like a plan. Your left arm is stronger than your right, anyways – you firmly grasp the handle on that side, and when you see that Camilla has done the same on her side, you both lift the box up from the floor.

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There’s a sudden rumble in front of you. The empty space between your ledge and the next suddenly, dizzyingly, fills with a light that threatens to blind you – squinting, you see it die down slightly, only to solidify into pieces of solid floor that appear, one by one, until the whole thing is only a step away from you.

The bridge.

It’s the Bridge of Sighs, isn’t it?

And…you can’t tell what you’re looking at. Light? It’s made of light? How is that possible? This is technology that seems like something from a science fiction dream. A bridge that appears from nowhere, floating in the air, bound by nothing.

You’re a bit starstruck, honestly. But you have little time to admire the strange sight before the cube above you crackles with an irritating static tone, and the screen on it suddenly turns on.

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A familiar golden face appears on the screen. That man. That monstrous man, with a constant metallic smile that seems to be nothing short of condescending. You ignore the twisting sensation of absolute disgust that goes to your gut.

CANCEL: The Bridge of Sighs.
CANCEL: So you’ve activated it.
CANCEL: Good timing, too. I just finished talking with our dear truthbearer, hm…
JOE: Abigail? Is she alright?
CANCEL: She is, she is. I have not harmed a single hair on her pretty little head.
CANCEL: Anyways…isn’t it beautiful?
CANCEL: So radiant with light…
THALIA: The bridge?
CANCEL: Yes, indeed! The bridge, one that exists and doesn’t exist.
CANCEL: A bridge that offers a way to your destination, and yet threatens to disappear under your feet at the same time.
CANCEL: A chance of progress, and a chance of sudden death.
THALIA: What do you mean?

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JOE: Yes, you make it sound like this bridge is far from stable…
CANCEL: Did you think that this task would be as simple as walking across a bridge?
CANCEL: This is a challenge for all of you, my sweet little nothings.
CANCEL: You see, this bridge has rules to it.
THALIA: Rules?
CANCEL: What, are you surprised?
CANCEL: Come now, Miss Parik, I know you have a sharp mind in that head somewhere!
CANCEL: Nothing is ever easy.
CANCEL: You know that for a fact.

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CANCEL: Listen very carefully, as I will not repeat myself again.
CANCEL: Your task is to get all three of you to the other side, along with the chest you’re currently holding.
CANCEL: The bridge can carry three people at once, two people carrying the chest, or one person carrying a chest.
CANCEL: It cannot carry all three people along with the chest. It simply will deactivate!
CANCEL: However, you cannot simply drop off the chest on either side whenever you want.
CANCEL: In order to transfer the chest from the bridge to a ledge, three people must be present on the side of that ledge.
CANCEL: If you have one person holding the chest and one person on the ledge, and the other is left behind…
CANCEL: You can’t move the chest to the ledge. If you do, the bridge disappears, and…well!
CANCEL: Goodbye to that poor pathetic being who was stuck on the bridge at the time.
CANCEL: Do you understand? This is a dangerous little challenge.
CANCEL: You have to act carefully. If you don’t…
CANCEL: There certainly will be a tragedy on your hands.

Authors Note:
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Ooooh, puzzles! Never been super good at this kind, but let's try it...

The solution probably involves a combination of instances of one and two people carrying the chest. I wonder if three people can cross at once with no chest but in opposite directions?
But, what does the final rule mean? Transfer the chest from bridge to ledge... Does that mean the solution involves proximity to the ledge from within the bridge? Surely the chest can't be left in the bridge, yes? What are we talking about when we say "side of" a ledge?
Avatar by ribsgrowback on tumblr!
Ah-hah. Reminds me of the old farmers puzzle.
Quiet. Good for an unusual opinion. Doesn't talk much.
Lemme guess - the key is a reward for getting through the shrine of lies.

To begin with, to lift the chest we needed both Thalia and Camilla, but Cancel also mentioned a 1+c combination. In theory is possible - probably a hint at the 'what-if connor was here', but can anyone else in this group pull it off? Thalia's left arm could be stronger if it's mechanical*, but will it be enough? The other 'gotcha!' moment that should be played around is the possibility of Thalia flipping out if it looks like others are abandoning her on the wrong end in some manner. Camilla? ech, doesn't seem like it. Joe? it's a coin flip. But not her.

Is it possible to keep the chest on the bridge as the trio stands on a ledge? Do we still have a window to get an answer from Cancel?

From a technical standpoint, the chest may act as a short-range transceiver to something on this ledge (the resting place?), so that when the signal dies, bridge disappears.

*full explanation pending
Arcanuse has it- the key being that

also oh my god Camilla were you tryin' to cop a feel
yeah you're right. the last move is simply dragging the chest behind the last person (Camilla?)/people (Joe and Cami?) and hauling it over the ledge together or something equally cautious.
Am I overanalyzing a meaningless detail, or is it relevant that Cancel specifically phrased it as "two people carrying THE chest, or one person carrying A chest" ?

At least, that's the first thing that immediately stood out to me.
> Cancel, how much time are we permitted to make a decision? What major hazards befall us if we stall too much? The threat of a null?
I'm a little worried that when Cancel said "The bridge can carry three people at once, two people carrying the chest, or one person carrying a chest," he meant that only those specific combinations are valid. If so, the person who goes across in step three of Arcanuse's solution should go across holding the chest with the other person on the bridge. Otherwise, there'd be one person carrying a chest on the bridge alongside one who isn't, which isn't a specified combination.
> Cancel, how much time are we permitted to make a decision? What major hazards befall us if we stall too much? The threat of a null?

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THALIA: How much time do we have to solve this puzzle?
THALIA: I don't trust that you won't make something terrible happen when we're deciding what to do.
CANCEL: Well, well, you are right to be worried about time.
CANCEL: After all, it is of the essence.
CANCEL: But I will allow you as much time as you need.
CANCEL: I promise, nobody shall obtain any kind of punishment for going over a time limit.
CANCEL: But if I were you, personally...
CANCEL: I'd go very quickly.
CANCEL: That room is quite awfully dark, hm...
CAMILLA: What is that supposed to mean?
CANCEL: I'm not the one to tell you that.
CANCEL: Anyways, go on. Find the correct way to cross the Bridge of Sighs!
CANCEL: I wish I could talk longer, but...
CANCEL: Ah, looks like Mr. Nox is causing problems yet again...
CANCEL: So sorry. I have many things to attend to.
CANCEL: Good luck.
CANCEL: Please break a leg for me. Haha.

The screen turns off with a crackle of static. The room hangs heavy in silence once more.

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The chest is hard to hold after a long time - you put it down along with Camilla, and the bridge disappears in an instant, like some kind of mirage. However, before you can say anything, Camilla moves to pick the chest up again by herself. Her eyebrows knit together in concentration and focus - the chest is incredibly heavy, you can't imagine how hard she must be straining to hold it the way she does.

The bridge sparks to life once again. You ignore it, the gears in your brain starting to churn. You always loved machines, the idea of everything working together from a collection of disjointed parts - perhaps this can be thought in a similar way.

CAMILLA: I can hold the chest on my own.
CAMILLA: But not for long...

She puts it down, shaking her head.

THALIA: Cancel just said that the bridge could hold a single person carrying a chest.
THALIA: Let's think about this for a moment.
THALIA: There must be some kind of combination of people to get the chest over to the other side...
CAMILLA: Three people. Two people and a chest. One person and a chest.
CAMILLA: The chest can't be put on the other side unless three people are there.
THALIA: I assume that it means people on the bridge as well.
THALIA: So, if there were two people on the bridge with the chest, and one was on the other side...
THALIA:Then the chest could be moved over.
CAMILLA: But how do we get one person over to that side?
CAMILLA: The bridge won't hold one person.
THALIA: Yes, without the chest...

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CAMILLA: The key here must be the exchange.
CAMILLA: To cross over without any possible chance at danger.
CAMILLA: But how do we accomplish something like that...?

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THALIA: You said you could hold it by yourself, yes?
THALIA: Wait, so...
THALIA: Ah, I think I thought of a solution.
CAMILLA: Please explain.

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THALIA: So you hold the chest. You go out onto the bridge.
THALIA: Then I or Joe crosses over to the other side.
THALIA: You don't understand?
THALIA: Think about it for a moment.

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THALIA: You stand on the bridge.
THALIA:When I or Joe crosses, that will be two people on the bridge with the chest.
THALIA: Then I or Joe steps off to the other side.
THALIA: That still leaves you on the bridge with the chest.
THALIA: Still a valid combination.
THALIA: Then we repeat it with the other person left.
THALIA: And then you approach the other side, where I and Joe will be standing, and we move the chest together.
CAMILLA: Oh. You''re right.
CAMILLA: That could work.
THALIA: We could do it quickly too, so you would not have to hold the chest for long.
THALIA: Did you hear that, Joe?
THALIA: Joe...?

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JOE: ...
THALIA: Joe? Joe, are you with us?
THALIA: You seem like you're staring off into space.
JOE: ...Oh! Sorry. Sorry about that.
JOE: Just had a spot of...deja vu.
JOE: Don't worry, I was listening the entire time.
JOE: So one person carries the chest, and then we cross one by one, correct?
THALIA: Yes, exactly.
JOE:That sounds fine by me!
JOE: Sorry for not saying anything earlier. I'm no good at puzzles. I have a writer's mind, not a puzzler's mind!
CAMILLA: That's fine.
JOE: Now then, the question is, who will cross first? You or me?
JOE: I don't really mind, either way.
JOE: I'll leave it up to you.

Author's Note:
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> ...If you saw what you saw... it's something in pursuit of you, not of Thalia. Cross first.
Avatar by ribsgrowback on tumblr!
I think the way these things work is that they can't hurt anyone until they have the person they, uh, are, so to speak? So we probably want to get Joe away from whatever it is he's lowkey panicking about as quickly as possible.

>Joe first, then Thalia.
> Joe: Be honest about your self-interests and thoughts. You are a valuable human being and even with flaws you deserve to live. Nobody likes a selfless martyr who is hurting inside and self-abuse disguised as selflessness is still a vice. If you don't THINK your decision through you could become a liability by falling victim to your null or you could suffer a slow and agonising death for god knows how long. You didn't earn your success as a poet by feelings alone your reason assisted you in your creative endeavors so let your emotions out and allow reason to take the reign. A writer is a thinker.

> Joe: Camilla has magic hands, maybe you should tell her about all the things you are reluctant to confess even to Kate.... Wait a tick... Abigail is a psychopomp, Kate's memory is freakishly impeccable. They're all gifted... YOU are GIFTED.

> Is he angry that the 8 of you were squandering your fortune/s? Is that what this is all about!? He feels and thinks that he simply knows better?

> If you did a wrong and want forgiveness you gots to forgive yerself first.

> For the love of god somebody comfort this man wholeheartedly for once.
Aaaw, Seth was a pretty butterfly and Joe is a wise owl.
I am unable to give suggestions because I just want to give my Good Grandpa Joe a big hug and tell him it's going to be okay.
Didn't Seth get distracted before the Null found him? Perhaps you should pay extra attention to helping Joe with his insecurities.

Edit: this is our last chance to save Joe, isn't it. He sees the wolf Null yet doesn't cry wolf Null.
...should have seen it coming.
bobert Wrote:> For the love of god somebody comfort this man wholeheartedly for once.
we would need to let them know they should.
i'd say we have a few goals here: to make a good argument why joe should cross first, and to explain what he saw without causing panic. preferably right now.

>Thalia: Magic hands sound interesting, but Joe still seems shaken. Let him go first.
>Camilla: Remember what Cancel's note mentioned: don't risk mental breakdowns.
>Joe: Explain what you saw the second everyone is on the other side. After the library, they will believe you.

(05-31-2018, 10:35 PM)Smurfton Wrote: »Anyone> ask Joe if he can use his poet mind to regale the rest of us with a poem. Insist that it's ok if what he composes on the spot isn't fabulous, then praise his poem in a realistic way. Take note of the general sentiment.
... we should have brought Kate, she has a reason to pay extra attention to Joe.

smuchsmuch, Joe is a doll. He believes he's an impostor masquerading as the real Joe. Just look at his pink icon in the op

Anyone> ask Joe if he can use his poet mind to regale the rest of us with a poem. Insist that it's ok if what he composes on the spot isn't fabulous, then praise his poem in a realistic way.

Take note of the general sentiment.
[Image: Other_Joe.png]
Why is everyone assuming that Joes Null will be harmless IF Joe is kept out of its reach? I think it would still be incredibly dangerous even without a host.