The Countdown trilogy is a set of three text adventures written by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw as a run-up to the release of the fourth Chzo Mythos game, 6 Days A Sacrifice. The three games are named after the three aspects of a person: the Body, the Soul, and the Mind, respectively. Each follows a short series of events that have repercussions on the conclusion of the Chzo Mythos.
Countdown 1 - the BodyEdit
August 18th, 1779.
Just over a year ago, your greatest friend, Wilbur, was murdered.
His brain was utterly destroyed by a cloud of shot fired from a flintlock pistol. You can still close your eyes and see the flash of powder that changed your life forever, the gun kicking in your hand as its deadly payload was ejected. His body you then butchered.
Every day since than you have laid your hand on the banister as you made your way up the stairs, and every single time the texture of the wood and grain has reminded you of the axe handle as you held it and brought it down again and again on Wilbur's form, reducing his beautiful, hairless body to sweating gobbets of shapeless meat.
The figure in black, like an elongated shadow at sunset stretching across a grave. You remember him, too. You remember falling to your knees and spouting every plea that came to your mind, desperate to be spared his wrath. Satisfied, he vanished, and you gradually began to convince youself that he had never appeared at all. You disposed of Wilbur, told his friends and relatives that he had moved permanently to France, and allowed yourself to forget.
Until he came back.
July 28th, 1779, a year to the day. He came back, peering eyelessly at you from across your bedclothes. The Prince. The Tall Man. Never speaking, rarely moving, but somehow getting his message across with ease. In return for your life, you, Jack Frehorn, owed him and his foetid master an obligation. All you had to do was follow their instructions.
That was twenty-one days ago. Tonight, you will complete the task you were given. Perhaps then, you will be free. Perhaps after tonight, you will sleep easy once more.
The prophecy of Chzo bursts from your mind to the pen. Even as the nib scribbles across the page, you realise the enormous weight of importance carried by the words that you imprison in ink.
You write. For a day and a night, you fill page after page with the prophecy of Chzo. By the end of it, tears are streaming down your face, because you know that your obligation is far from fulfilled, and that when you pledged yourself for eternity to the Prince, he very much intended to make the most of the offer.
The Book of the Bridge, chapter 1
1. After ten score years, all was in readiness for the construction of the Bridge, and the Prince watched as the Bridgekeeper stood on both sides of the dark ocean, awaiting the time when the great undertaking would begin.
2. To the house of the Bridgekeeper, which was the Mind of the Bridgekeper, had come many thieves, and the Bridgekeeper had borrowed from the power of the Prince and thrown down these thieves, and truly did they know the name of the King.
3. But then there came a family of thieves to the house of the Bridgekeeper, which was the Mind of the Bridgekeper, and the family of thieves numbered five.
4. There was the Spying Thief, who came to the house of the Bridgekeeper to learn the secrets of the Prince and of the Order, a pawn of masters who would pervert the glorious scheme of the King.
5. There was the Covetous Thief, who came to the house of the Bridgekeeper for wealth, and who cared liitle for the blackness of his Soul.
6. There was the Thief-Wife, who came to the house of the Bridgekeeper to corrupt the Bridgekeeper with her whorish ways and to travel the land of Technology spreading stories and lies of what she found.
7. There was the Thief-Son, who came to the house of the Bridgekeeper in innocence, but the Bridgekeeper would not spare him, for the children of thieves will live to corrupt the children of the righteous.
8. Lastly there was the Cunning Thief, who would not tell of his purpose or his name, but the Prince gazed upon him, and the Prince said
9. "This cunning Thief, who sups with most unworthy company, is the one who will guide the Bridgekeeper to his destiny, and so I will have him be spared the wrath of this house.
10. And the family of thieves sat together to dine in the house of the Bridgekeeper that was the Mind of the Bridgekeeper, and the wrath of the house fell upon them.
Countdown 2 - the SoulEdit
Countdown 2 - the Soul explains how the Caretaker aquires Frehorn's Blade from the Order of Blessed Agonies. He does so through manipulating Delia Reneaux, a new initiate to the Order who regets her decision to join.
January 17th, 2189.
You joined a fad religion because you needed direction in your life, and needed something to do with your free time. You were so engrossed in attending prayer meetings and other organised events that you didn't notice eyes watching you from the shadows.
And then they introduced you to the truth. The true organization behind the faith. The so called Order of Blessed Agonies. And that was even better. You had always regarded pain with a subdued fascination, even from childhood testing the very limits of your endurance, and as for purification? You certainly felt you needed that.
The initiation was almost complete. You were sore and bleeding from the purification of your Body, and you were still dizzy and spaced out from the purification of the Mind. Next, they had said, came the Soul, the aspect that can only be purified once. The deletion of something close to you; something upon which you relied emotionally. You were brought to a featureless white chamber deep within headquarters, and there he was.
"Don't worry," they had said. "We make it easy for you." Then they handed you a gun.
A you step into the centre of the courtyard, you hear a familiar voice directly behind you.
"You have done well," says the man in red. You spin around, mesmerised again by his extraordinary presence. "Give me the blade."
You nod, and hand over the sacred artefact. The stranger holds it in his left hand, feeling the weight, before reaching into his robe and producing a second, identical blade. Merely trying to look at both blades at the same time causes your eyelids to flicker involuntarily. It is not, you realise, that there are two blades. Both are the same blade, which he is holding in both hands. Then, with no apparent effort on his part, you see only one blade, which he stores in his robe.
"What happens now?" you ask.
"Now?" He seems momentarily confused by the question. "Now, your part in the course of destiny is over. You are free to do as you please. Your life no longer has any specific purpose... but it would certainly be possible to exist."
"But... what about the safe house? Your organisation? You said you would protect me!"
"There is no organisation, and no safe house." His image is already fading, taking the blade with him. "I apologise for deceiving you, but the redemption you seek for your selfish act of short-sighted butchery is not in my, or anyone's, power to give. Evil like that, Ms. Reneaux, must be suffered for."
And then he is gone.
In the morning, the disappearance of Frehorn's Blade sends a shockwave through the Order of Blessed Agonies. It does not take long for even an amateur investigator to gather the evidence needed to convict you, and the thought of what a pain worshipper would do to a person as punishment sent shivers down your spine. Fortunately, by the time they find you, you are already six miles away, fatally crumpled up inside the wreck of a stolen car. The Order of Blessed Agonies, robbed for the second time, bitterly continue their construction.
Countdown 3 - the MindEdit
February 3rd, AD 2386.
The double doors of the New Delhi Mental Hospital hiss closed as you step into the lobby. The weight of a mail satchel cuts into your shoulder. Just as you did twenty seperate times during the shuttle ride here, you wonder how you got into this mess.
The man in red assured you there would be further instructions when you arrived, but hadn't elaborated before disappearing into the shadowy alleyway where he had requested to meet you.
You almost didn't take the job. You're not in the business of delivering parcels of homeless weirdos in tattered rags. But that had all changed when the weirdo had produced a wad of cash as thick as your thumb.
Had you not been so tired, you would probably have asked where the money had come from. But there was something about the man in red's voice. So smooth and charismatic, impossible to resist. Kind of like what God's voice must be like. Not merely instructing, or requesting, but simply stating how things were going to be, like he knew everything...
Forget it. Just another job. Get the instructions and deliver the parcel. Then enjoy the money and forget all about weirdos in red.
You place the parcel in the dropper while no-one is looking and slam it shut. Feeling an enormous sense of accomplishment and relief, you exit the cell block and swiftly leave the asylum by the front door.
After collecting your fee, you live out the rest of your life in varying degrees of happiness and contentment. Occasionally, the strange man in red and the contents of the mysterious parcel will come back to haunt your curiosity, but this is nothing that cannot be swiftly dismissed.
You will never know the significance of the role you played in the machinations of destiny.
- Croshaw, Ben. Countdown 1 - the Body. 4 January 2007.
- Croshaw, Ben. Countdown 2 - the Soul. 11 January 2007.
- Croshaw, Ben. Countdown 3 - the Mind. 18 January 2007.