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(+3)

In the scene where Asterion has a seizure, interesting things are said:

You breathe in again, imprinting that smell, enjoying every second while it lasts. And the minotaur does the same. He buries his nose in your shirt, and a wealth of scents assault him-- the Mediterranean's saltwater, saffron-giving crocus, the decaying petals of deflowered poppies. The smell of bitter, burnt oil that sticks to one's mouth, and the coppery taste leaking from beneath his tongue.

Smell of oil and coppery taste, huh? Suspiciously like ichor and blood, don't you think? Also, this is when Asterion's neck acts up again-- probably the parting wound of his beheading or something. Now, as far as the Master knows, Asterion is fully healed prior to this point. But what if he's not, and that lingering 'wound' has been exuding his blood (in vapor form, at the least) all this time?

But of course, this may be way off and just looking too deep into things. I haven't been able to remember instances of the where the smell of ichor is described. Seeing as it's a divine substance, who's to say that it should smell how it looks like? Next, about the (mortal) blood. How the hell can you make an observation of coppery taste through smell? Besides that, what gave me pause was the location of the taste. 'Beneath the tongue' makes me think about the gold coin Laomedon gave Asterion for Charon's fare. If he was beheaded, the taste should be emanating all over the mouth or  at the back of the throat, and not specifically under the tongue. Does anyone know if gold can produce a similar smell? 

(4 edits) (+5)

Hmmm, maybe the answer to this one lies in the middle of that list? Asterion is the one smelling you and he finds saltwater (but no sunlight, leftover from our interaction and blessing from Poseidon?), crocus (makes saffron), and 'decaying petals of deflowered poppies'. THEN gets the smell of the pungent oil and the coppery taste, and finally your human smell. I'm not sure why we smell like crocus and poppies, but of note are the histories/ties of those two flowers:

  • Crocus has two mentioned myths on wikipedia, the more relevant one is this: he was a companion to Hermes that was accidentally killed by said god in a discus accident, and in his grief, he turned his corpse into the crocus flower. (Of note, this is a very similar myth to Apollo and Hyacinth, but Apollo hasn't been very central to anything yet). - Maybe this is Hermes' 'scent' and our brushes with him has it lingering on us? Dangit I feel like I need to playthrough yet again and focus on every smell that gets mentioned, lol.
  • Poppies are heavily associated with sleep and death, said to be created by Demeter so she could get some damn shut eye. They're common offerings to the dead, so their scent might make Asterion think of death and even specifically his death. (They're also heavily associated with Hypnos, god of sleep, and Morpheus, god of dreams, but neither of those two have been mentioned in the novel, so I think we can rule them out for now)

So, I think the smell of poppies makes him think back to his death, leading to the oil smell and coppery taste. You're right about Charon's payment, but since we know it was a gold coin and that gold doesn't taste coppery, I think it was just the blood welling 'up' from the wound as Asterion lay dying - final moments and whatnot. The bitter, burnt oil smell may be from the profaned shrine there in the labyrinth, then? It seems like a dark, cloying scent that might be used to describe defilement, which we know the shrine had been.

Wait hang on, this is right about when the achievement called 'The Tale of Asterion and Theseus' fires, right? With its' description of "Rewrite the story of Asterion and his executioner"... I think we just accidentally did a biiiiiiiiiig recursion breaking ritual where we took Asterion's story and changed it: Man chases minotaur through a labyrinth (literally what just happened in the Deep Labyrinth), man catches minotaur, they fight (note the fight's beginning is when Asterion's birthmark 'first' appears), man someone wins (huh, turns out Asterion can win if you try to double down on strength, like a fool)... but then the man never slays the hybrid (well, until later chapters when we take him to bed, wink). Asterion's story is supposed to have him decapitated, so the ring of fire starts closing in on his neck, but the MC's gentle touch breaks the recursion and rewrite's Asterion's story.

He had been seen as a coward for letting himself be killed without a fight, but this time he does fight (playfully though it was) and that's right when his birthmark reappears. Even though they argued to the judges that it was not a shameful act but instead a holy sacrifice to the gods, now it's not even a shameful act: he fought, we won, and we did not kill Asterion. One of the reasons the gods shoved Asterion in this realm might've just been erased by our actions, hence all the weirdness. 

EDIT: Just adding some extra evidence, when you catch Asterion in the deep labyrinth chase and hug, he "lets out a grunt - liberating, redeeming, as though a lock had come undone in his throat." 

EDIT 2, THE REVENGE: Oh and the god that gave the Roman coin that translates things? Very likely Hermes, which can also explain the smell of crocus in the area since that was one of the offerings to the fire when updating the translation magic. AND that's not even highlighting the actual ritual that occurred down there: a fire, a sacrifice, a story (the hotel's origins), unveiled truths (why Asterion will still call you Master and King); all things Oscar teaches us when he's narrating his ritual for Pedro. Sure they were intended for the translation magic, but that might not stop them from mattering here, we 100% just did some sort of accidental ritual, likely to restoke Asterion's divinity that, as Robert said, had been bled dry from him.

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Oh dang, you're right. It seems I've got myself confused on the antecedent of that 'he', hehe. Looking at it closer and in that context, it does make sense. Those smells I believe are still distinctly Asterion's though. Seawater and crocuses were referenced a lot in Asterion's history; I've seen this throughout his ruminations and the clay tablets. I'd chalked off seawater to Poseidon, and crocuses to Crete with their numerous depictions of the flower and its saffron. Maybe he rubbed off on us while wrestling? Or, as I've come to believe (thanks to your reply) is a reenactment of Asterion's fight/execution and funeral.

Let's sort it out detail by detail:

  • While there, the Master and Asterion make a fire. This parallels Asterion's funeral; his body was put to rest by way of a pyre, burning him on the very basin meant for Hestia's flame. Additionally, both are forms of divine worship. The fire reminiscent of his duties to Hestia  in the original labyrinth, and his death was construed as such in the underworld trial. Getting back on topic, the fire made with the Master does something strange. Earlier in the scene, we get this:
The minotaur and you summon meat and fruit, wine and olive oil, dittany and crocus-- all of it fed to the dwindling fire until it shines proud once more. No foul odor wafts from it, neither do violent embers jump out with your offering.

This follows a bit later:

The wind blows. A burst of embers dance about in the nude breeze, catching your attention. The air around you is filled with the smell of fire, smoke, and burning wood.

The wind and fire acts up just after Asterion plans to get rowdy with you, asserting himself with renewed confidence.  This is probably the start of weird things happening here. Birthmark alert! Yep, definitely important.

  • Asterion's scent suffused the whole scene as he was a major participant in his execution. Specifically, the smell of seawater and crocus flowers can be attributed to his divine and Cretan origins.
  • Deflowered poppies are also smelled. Poppies are associated with death, which is of course relevant. The addition of the 'deflowered' adjective is strange though, oddly specific. A deflowered plant has had its flower picked-- suggesting the use of poppy flowers for something, like an offering. Maybe Laomedon included some poppy flowers in Asterion's funeral (No such detail in 17th tablet, sadly)? Of course, this may just be for literary effect-- deflowered/picked flowers are subjected to death, after all.
  • Burnt oil and coppery taste was noted. Going back briefly,  Asterion was put to rest by a pyre. Burnt oil may be ichor being burned; his body and the basin where his pyre was was filled by such fluids, after all (17th tablet). Coppery taste is probably (mortal) blood, then.  
  • The Master's smell follows after this. This signifies the presence of the redeemer that has come for Asterion. It came in the form of Theseus in the past, and now, you take his role.
  • Asterion experiences a searing pain around his neck, reminiscent of his beheading. Theseus's coup de grace imparts a lingering scar on Asterion which flares up at this moment. And you, the master, deliver your own brand of mercy by finally ridding him of this.
 Asterion laughs, and yet his throat constricts to choke him halfway through. A ring of fire burns around his neck. An unfamiliar pressure wells inside his chest-- expanding outward, like a star about to burst, until it becomes unbearable. He opens his mouth to cry out, and that's when he feels a hand brushing against the burning collar which threatens to strangle him. A gentle, cold touch, bringing with it liberation like no other. With that the ring of fire breaks for good, and the overwhelming pressure within him can finally burst out.

Yeah, you love this part too. Damn writers making us feel good.

  • The wind picks up again, accompanied by the telltale shuddering of the labyrinth and its obsidian in particular. Act finished, draw curtains.


Yep, really digging where this line of inquiry stumbled upon, hehe. The achievement's name and description has never looked more apt with the reveal of more and more of those details. As for a ritual taking part, I'm not too sure. It has a lot of similarities, but differs in the common component of the rituals (we've seen so far)-- the creation of a ritual focus (e.g. Storm's ear gauge, Pedro's bracelet). Who knows, though? We don't know what the other rituals are, and Pedro's are only a subset of them, I imagine (with the authors' push on different kinds of magic and their authenticity all throughout the world and cultures). With that said, something really significant did happen, with the hotel getting the jiggles and all. 

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Yeah, I think you're spot on. I'm going to shamelessly repost what I wrote in another thread that's focused on the tablets, because I hadn't connected a lot of specifics that you've found. 

I've been waiting to read the tablets until I collected all of them. Having done so, I think it does indeed point to his thread being restored. 

This is all my interpretation based on the tablets and the ruthless route, but it seems Asterion was given two options to escape. The first would be to take freedom for himself given to him by those who pitied him or regretted their actions. The second would be to right the wrong he was accused of by actually fighting an opponent who wanted to defeat him. The result wouldn't matter, but he absolutely could not back down. However, he would need enough freedom from a master in order to fulfill this, which is why he's never been able to until now. He needed to stay a prisoner of a labyrinth in order to gain freedom and have his ember rekindled from nothing, essentially, and the rules were created to stop that from happening.

I think Poseidon's gift, which relates to what he sees as a moment of weakness when he questions whether he should escape by sea, is a backdoor. A failsafe. I also think the master situation is a cruel repurposing of his refusal to leave without permission from Laomedon, along with his eventual crime.

Your analysis of the specific meanings is great and it's making a lot of things click that I hadn't caught on to.