Hey, make up your mind, Gravedust, can he kill you guys or not? Or just keep pissing him off, I guess that’ll settle the question on its own.

I’ll give HR props where it’s due: his renditions of the Sepia World Five are sort of convincing in their details! “Best” is predictably egocentric, “Frigg’s” self-critique is apt, and of course there’s a Lord Byron quote. The only problem is motive. Remember how I said these guys were gearing up to plead for their existence? Well, these guys are not really arguing for their lives—only “Best” hits a self-interested note at all, and there’s nothing about “Best’s” musical career or “Frigg’s” mom who misses her or “Syr’Nj’s” cat or anything else that our heroes would be saving by their surrender. It’s all just different ways of saying “You’re not real, and we are, just accept it.” Almost as if they don’t really care about themselves, just about guilting the Arkerrans into oblivion… That’s the spot where HR’s puppet strings would be visible, even if Weo hadn’t already prepped our group for this moment.

Had this moment been timed to go before the revelation about the Sepia Five’s brainwaves, it might’ve been more ambiguous. Flo and I were done with ambiguity at this point. We were happy to play with your expectations by doing this scene, which some of you might’ve expected in some form since the revelations in Chapter 9. However, we did it mostly so we could put the concept of it to bed. Anyone who can think or feel for themselves is as real as they will let themselves be.