Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Part 7: The Fight

As they approached The Princess, all sense of welcome or friendship faded. The music began to distort, the notes becoming more and more drawn out until the soundtrack had become a dull electronic buzz. The textures flickered, and vanished, peeling the walls of the fountain away. The frame rate dropped to what Brian could only assume were single digits. And The Princess herself, once floating majestically above the fountain proper, became tilted at an awkward angle, her left arm vibrating wildly in a way that seemed to mimic the frequency of the horrible, whining music. Sometimes her head would move, too, but in a way Brian found difficult to explain after the fact.

Stepping up onto the pedestal, the game seemed to freeze for a moment. Brian hoped it would. He could tell no good could come of this. He didn’t want to ask The Princess anything. He was ready to pack up and go. Adam, well, Adam had been fairly silent this whole time.

Rather than let them go, the game resumed, presenting them with a text box and a single choice.

>Yes
No

No question. No context. Just a choice. Brian stared at the screen, dumbfounded. Was this their first chance at communication? Was The Princess asking them something? Or no, perhaps they were supposed to ask a question. Perhaps they would ask something and The Princess would move the cursor, like a Ouija board. Yes, that was it. This was the-…

Adam selected “Yes,” almost immediately.

“What the hell, man!?”

Adam didn’t respond. The Princess, however, did.

In an instant, Link was screaming. The Princess had, upon being told “Yes,” slammed into him and propelled him backward, dealing a half-heart of damage in the process. She’d moved so fast neither of them had actually seen the attack. Brian nearly jumped out of his seat, but Adam just grimaced. The moment Link got back to his feet, Adam had him draw his sword and charge The Princess.

Link didn’t get far. The moment he neared The Princess, he became paralyzed. The Princess, now behaving like a Redead (scream and all), slowly advanced on the helpless Link. Adam mashed buttons to no avail, and soon The Princess was latched onto Link’s back, draining the life from him. Much as Adam struggled, The Princess would not let go. Also, in a turn Brian found quite disturbing, Link’s textures slowly disappeared while he was being drained. First his head, then his arms, then his body, down slowly until he was a blank white slate.

And with that, Link’s last heart disappeared. He collapsed to the ground, but there was no Game Over music. The camera just focused on Link’s blank white body, The Princess hovering over him. Adam finally broke his silence, not with words, but just a loud, guttural grunt of frustration.

Then, a couple seconds later, Link was up again.

There was no fairy in a bottle, or even animation. Link just stood back up with full health, though still blank white, and gameplay resumed. The Princess, in this instance, moved a few yards away to her original position above the Fairy Fountain. Adam smiled, charging Link at The Princess yet again.

For the next few minutes, Adam struggled to damage The Princess in any way he could. Any time he got close, she would latch onto him and there would be no escape. Link would die, revive, and the fight would start over. Arrows did nothing, the boomerang did nothing, and Nayru’s Love proved no defense. Close range weapons were out of the question, as unlike a Redead, there was no sneaking up on The Princess.

Adam was becoming progressively angrier and more intense with each death. His breathing became heavy, his face slowly contorting with rage. He began to shout at The Princess, calling her horrible things, describing the ways he would punish her the moment he figured out how to hurt her. By Brian’s count there were at least two inventory items Adam was prepared to shove up The Princess’ ass, neither of which were remotely suitable for such a thing. It has been speculated after the fact that Adam might have had some anger issues, and been the type of person who uses video games as means of venting aggression.

“Dude...”

“No, there has to be something! There has to be! What haven’t I used?”

“We could just…”

“What haven’t I used!?”

“…Bombs?”

At the very least, bombs got a unique reaction. As Adam hurled a bomb at The Princess, she turned and floated out of the blast radius. Immediately Adam chuckled. He tossed bomb after bomb, The Princess scurrying back and forth to get away. Adam’s intense gaze was replaced by a devilish smile as Brian realized he was herding The Princess into a corner, where she couldn’t escape. One final bomb landed at The Princess’ feet. Her model shuddered, spinning desperately to find a way out, and then…

BOOM! The Princess was face down.

“HA!” Adam shouted. In a moment, Link was set upon The Princess, hacking away with his sword. Each hit, The Princess flashed red, letting out a horrible series of distorted screams. A shower of blood-red particle effects shot out of her body with each slash of the blade, so many particles that game would slow each time, causing the blade to slowly and agonizingly slice through The Princess’ model.

Adam was laughing. He wouldn’t stop. He hammered the attack button as fast as he could. The Princess’ screams were becoming more distorted, more ear-splitting, and yet somehow more real at the same time. Brian says they didn’t sound like screams he’d heard from the game, but with the level of filtering, he admits they could have been just about anything. Either way, he couldn’t take it anymore. He grabbed Adam’s shoulder.

“Stop!”

Adam violently shrugged Brian’s hand away, looking at him for the first time since they’d started playing.

“NO! DON’T YOU GET IT!? THIS IS WHAT SHE WANTS!”

There was a brief silence, followed by a scream. It was Link screaming. The Princess had stood back up.

Thus began the second “phase” of the fight. The Princess had a new trick this time. If left alone, she would rapidly charge Link and bash him away, as she’d done at the very beginning of the battle. It was still a fairly simple matter for Adam to corral her into a corner with bombs, and then he set upon her again with his sword. Brian just watched in silence, unsure what to think. For all the mystique surrounding The Princess, this was feeling more and more like a standard boss fight.

The third “phase” of the fight caught Adam off guard. Multiple Princesses appeared around Link and formed a close circle around him. While Adam considered which one to attack, one of them rushed Link and knocked him to the ground, taking his last heart away. It was here the two learned that, if Link died and reset, he had to start again from the first phase of the fight. Annoying, but Adam was pumped by now. Brian could see the look of devilish glee on his face. He was loving this.

After a handful of deaths, Adam passed the third phase of the fight. Attacking the “correct” Princess would cause the others to disappear and the Princess to revert to her phase two pattern. How the “correct” Princess was determined seemed random. There was no “tell” or indication, but it seemed like one in every three or so guesses was always correct, even though there were many more doppelgangers.

In the fourth phase, flames began to appear on the ground. The Princess flew in circles around the room, twisting and turning wildly and firing fireballs in all directions. Only a Light Arrow could bring her down, and then there was only a short window to hit her with a bomb before she would take off again.

The fifth phase was like the fourth, only with multiple Princesses. There was no “correct” Princess this time. All of them had to be shot down with Light Arrows and bombed to proceed. On this phase the framerate would begin to suffer and the void surrounding the room would be tinged a flaming red. The music, such as it was, would also become slower and more hitched here.

The sixth phase caused the remaining textures of the room to erupt into a garbled mess of corrupted imagery. The Princess would fly high into the sky and begin dive-bombing Link repeatedly. Between the framerate and the psychedelic textures it was hard for Brian to even see The Princess. Adam remained focused, dodging left and right, finally tricking The Princess into diving into an exploding bomb.

Beyond that, Brian had a very difficult time explaining the phases of the fight to The Society. He recalls there were two more phases after the sixth, or at least two more phases he ever saw Adam reach. In these phases, the framerate and textures were so jumpy that it was impossible for him to tell what was happening. There may have been multiple Princesses, there may have been enemies summoned in at some point, and Brian recalls Adam having to use the Lens of Truth to do…something. This, however, was all he could make out.

As for how Adam could still play, Brian says Adam was in his own little world by this point. He hadn’t said anything since his previous outburst aside from the occasional scream of frustration or chuckle of victory. He was becoming increasingly enraged by his failures and increasingly sadistic in his moments to slash away at The Princess. Adam had figured out, at some point, that The Princess wouldn’t go into her next phase until a certain amount of damage had been dealt to her body, so he’d started purposefully using weaker and weaker weapons on her to draw out these moments as long as possible. He burned her, blew her up, thrashed her with a stick, crushed her with a hammer, and every time she would let out a shriek that sent shivers down Brian’s spine, red particles spraying everywhere.

It was too much.

Brian dove for the Nintendo 64. He couldn’t take it anymore. He had to shut off the game. Fuck the tape recorder. Fuck this whole experiment. If The Princess had anything to reveal, it couldn’t possibly be worth it. As he grabbed the power switch, the room suddenly fell silent. The game hadn’t paused. All noise had just stopped. Brian looked up at the screen. It was The Princess, just The Princess, front-and-center on screen, seeming to stare down at him.

“Don’t turn it off.”

It was Adam who said it. Brian looked back to see a knife leveled at him. Adam’s face was cold and grim.

“Just leave.”

Adam stared at Brian, and Brian had no choice but to obey. He grabbed what games he could quickly shove into his backpack and ran out of the room. As he left, he heard the sounds of battle immediately resume behind him.

-----------------------------

Adam’s mother found Adam, dead, a few hours later, once she’d returned from work. His body was sprawled over the back of the couch, badly brutalized but still chillingly recognizable.

Investigators found indications of blunt force all over his body, with impact points of varying size and shape. The bones in his arms and legs were heavily fractured, shattered in some places. While the breaking of the legs seemed haphazard and indicated a heavy struggle, the breaking of the arms looked systematic, as though he’d been held down.

In addition to the broken bones, numerous bruise marks indicated that nearly every part of him had been battered to some degree. Only his back was largely spared, as he was likely lying on it during most of the attack. There was also relatively little damage to his head and face, leading to speculation that his attacker wanted him to remain conscious.

Cause of death was determined to be brain damage from a combination of blood loss and suffocation. Several heavy blows to Adam’s chest had cracked the ribcage, crippling his heart and lungs. According to experts, none of the damage dealt to Adam’s body would have been immediately fatal, with time of death estimated at several minutes after the attack. The killer had brutalized Adam, then left him to die of his wounds.

Most puzzling to investigators, however, was Adam’s knife. There was not a drop of blood on it, and no fingerprints but Adam’s. The tip and edge, however, were dulled and slightly bent. It seems that, in an attempt to defend himself, Adam was thrusting the knife against something very, very hard.

7 comments:

  1. My only complaint about this chapter is the first paragraph where you note the framerate dropped to single digits and then immediately after that you say her arm was vibrating wildly. It would be hard to tell if anything was vibrating at all while rendering less than 10 FPS.

    Maybe she moves independently of the framerate? That'd be impossible but easily explained away via the paranormal. If so, that'd be worth noting because it's creepy and adds an additional level of abstraction between her and the game.

    Good work though, can't wait for more!

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    1. this is just a theory, but i think (stress on think) it was supposed to be implied? I could be wrong tho....

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    2. It could be that while every objects frame rate dropped the princess's didn't. Like occasionally in some of the games I play, when I spam the world with items or do certain actions that could near freeze the game certain objects slow down in frame rate while everything remains the same. Like if you play online in cod and when you shoot others the bullets for only you are delayed by a few seconds or others become glitchy and obtain a low frame rate which makes it harder to hit them because they're just teleporting while everything else is normal. So I guess it could be like that?

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  2. For the question of Yes or No, I think only Adam saw the question as he immediately pressed yes and provoked his aggression. Just a wild assumption.

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  3. You can't use both the boomerang and the arrows as either Young or Adult Link
    0/10

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    Replies
    1. The game could have let him do this. As he could be revived without a fairy and had an near infinite amount of bombs, I don't think it's too much of a stretch that he could use items he could normally not use

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    2. Your profile pic...
      Yes... YES!!!

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