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Ruthless Route Discussion Thread Sticky

A topic by Minoh Workshop created 55 days ago Views: 3,380 Replies: 65
Viewing posts 1 to 25
Developer(+3)

We don't expect many people to play the Ruthless Route, but a number of people seem to want to know what happens in it. For that reason we're setting up this thread for people to discuss and exchange notes about.

(+2)

Talk about a heel turn, huh?

The ruthless route is the speedrun of revelations of Minotaur Hotel, isn't it? Poseidon's Gift, the narrator's identity, the truth about Argos, all in a condensed little, painful story about toppling tyranny.

I can't help but empathise with Dominikos thinking he might have caused it by being too good a deciever. So, I'm glad the Master gets his comeuppance by the snake's hand (in one way or another).

Also, aren't you guys glad this wasn't just a bunch of scenes of the Master being a bad guy over and over? Imagine how drab and/or depressing that would be.

Developer(+3)
Imagine how drab and/or depressing that would be.

Imagine actually writing that! It seems that people erroneously expected that out of the route. Sometimes I wanted to drop more hints but we decided not to show our cards.

Also, just think how much fun we had writing all the Argos content before the Ruthless Route with all the reveals and twists in mind.

(+2)

The ruthless route ending is absolutely amazing, it's very easily my favorite "segment"  of the game so far and it's extremely well written.  It pays off on a lot of mysteries set up before and fit a ton of hints on the true nature of the way the hotel works and everything about Argos, and previous scenes/plot points (like Argos's reaction when you trick him twice, the oddities about the many Argoi that came before) fit perfectly with the execution.

The things that jump out to me a loot though, and that i genuinely think will be major points later in the story were the narrator reveal - which was incredible, and extra props to the writer - and the much deeper detailing of how "magic and gods"  wok. This latter, specifically, I suspect will be a key part in loophole-ing Asterion out of his sentence, even beyond what is already done in the good route. 

All in all, it's a amazing payoff for going through the route, and do get me much more hyped for seeing how the other paths will wrap up.

ughh, I'm so curious about who the narrator is, but I can bear myself to hurt Asterion for it...

(+3)

Just finished some of the ruthless routes in minotaur hotel. I didn't expect to have so many feelings. It was very powerful and reminded me of old Greek tragedies. I enjoyed how it changed and the many call backs to elements of the original story and Greek myths as well (even if I'm not that knowledgeable about them). It was great to see it all unfold, and to know what things lay in wait for the future of the kind master's hotel. Though I'm sure I can't play it again, I can see why the Ruthless route needed to be made and how it plays to drive home the message of the hotel. Good work all around minoh team. Now, to make the moos happy.

(+2)

I'm sorry if this is very spoiler heavy D:

I gotta say, doing the ruthless route made me deeply uncomfortable after having played the nice route first. Seeing Asterion in so much distress really bothered me but I really enjoyed the writing. It really does a good job to unsettle the player if they've done the Nice route first. Reading what the effigy did to Asterion just made me so sad and unsettled, like holy hell, and then seeing his mental break. Superb job on the writing! 

(1 edit) (+4)

I wasn't sure if I was going to do this route, but what convinced me besides mention of it being some of your strongest writing was finding out Argos didn't want it in the main route. I'm so happy it was focused on Dominikos. He's a precious thing and I feel terrible for his suffering. I've found 3 of the 4 endings, but no clue on how to get the final one. Guess I'll keep being evil. 🙃


Nvm, found the right path. Appropriate name for the achievement. And now let us lay that version of us to rest.

Ugh, I played through a couple of ruthless endings (I think Ive got 3 out of 4?). The writing is good, but I felt horrible doing it. :( 

Why doesn't P & storm come to the hotel in the scenario where the main character survives?

Asking as someone who has NOT played Ruthless yet: are there plot points in the Ruthless route that would otherwise be withheld from those sticking to the Nice route? I can see that certain facts, like the narrator's identity, are revealed in the Ruthless route but have not yet been mentioned in the Nice route. Is this information meant only for those who have played the Ruthless route, or is it an earlier reveal of information that is planned to be given to us in the Nice route?

(+1)

It CAN be hinted in the nice route but it takes quite the hoop jumping.  The identity of the narrator I mean.

For me,  ruthless route was very hard to deal because of I've beforely played the nice/romantic route, and my brain betrayed me, imagining mister Blas Garcia's voice as Asterion's (I recommend you watch the scene Tai Lung vs Shifu in Kung Fu Panda dubbed on Mexican Spanish). I've unlocked 3 ending, and wow, that's a very good way to explore Argos' story and his legacy. I hope to discover the fourth one.

It's better a reply than an edit. I unlocked all 4 endings, now I can't stop searching for Argos' true identity in the main route in other backgrounds. He is a good snakeman, and I loved how he develops himself in both main and ruthless routes. The hardest ending to find, for me, was Asterion's ending

Developer(+2)

Try tricking him all the times it's possible — the more you do it, the more he'll appreciate and reveal himself to you.

If you play your cards right you can even get him to confess it all  before Chapter 18!

Trying again and again to find the bare minimum I have found the fork.  Or A fork I guess.  You lot are ALMOST thorough and I LOVE it.

At least "It's in better shape than when I received it".  ... Or was it "then"?

HOW DO I GET THE OTHER ENDINGS HOLY HELL I've played the route so many times already hearing that sickening squelch of flesh and blood makes me want to hurl my dinner out and  c r y. I've only ever gotten the "Dust and Silence" ending. Please tell me so I can end mine, Asterion's and Dominiko's suffering and to sate this vile curiosity of mine!

Developer (1 edit) (+1)

Hey Luke, sorry you had to sit through that. There are four endings, and six ways to get there. This is determined by two factors: your choice at the end of act 1 (agree with Argos' plan, deceive him, or make no promises), and whether you act abusive towards Argos and Asterion throughout the ruthless route's content. If you act abusive enough, you'll always end up on Dust and Silence, just through three different means. If you don't, you'll get the other three endings depending on your choice at the end of act 1.

*edit: don't feel compelled to keep going for the sake of an achievement. If this is content that distresses you, it's completely optional.

(+1)

Thank you!!! Also don't get me wrong, I very much enjoy the Ruthless Route so far - makes me love Dominikos a lot more! And I'm not just doing this for achievments! Heck, I almost never care about those, I mostly just use them as guide to what content I can experience (thus hidden achievements are the bane of my existence "orz). It's just those specific gruesome stuff that make me quessy.

Just got all 4 endings, and dang.

Loved the writing and how you guys conveyed just how cruel your character's actions were, and while it made me pause frequently with guilt, I have to say I actually really enjoyed it and all of the variations between the endings.

Thanks for the internal turmoil, it was a blast lol

How did I get the worst possible ending? I thought I was doing okay what choices made me such a bad person apparently??

What ending did you get? All of them have their downsides

I dunno how I got locked into this bad ending where I have to be shoved into a death pit or my character goes crazy and shoves one of the other guys into it. 

Developer

Chances are you'll go down this route the more you send Asterion out to the valley. Try starting from the beginning and don't send him to the valley under any circumstance.

(+2)

OHHHH that's what it was.. I forgot you can choose that or not- so that is what happened. 

Well now I finished all the routes, very fun game.

I keep not getting the 4th ending where apparently Argos gets trapped in the hotel any walkthrough to get to that route?

What's your best friend's name?

Nemesis.

(+1)

Those who braved the Ruthless route would you lend me some time to ask how it went. How did the mc turn into such ruthlessness or where did the route clearly started. Major changes to the main game etc. I know im asking a lot, but i dont want to see the pain from my own hands ;-; just out of curiosity 

(1 edit) (+2)

It depends. There's a couple ways to end up in the ruthless route. If you want the most painless way: Lie. Tell Asterion you won't ever send him to the valley and then send him during Chapter 11. He will call you out in the most meek and quiet way, but as much of a gut punch as it is, it is nothing compared to what you get sending him out when Argos asks you to command him to come out. It's awful, and because it's something you can eventually make amends for, you still have to send him out again to confirm this is the path you want to go down.

That scene after sending him out with Argos immediately is worth seeing if you want to see Luke in a more nuanced and mature light. He's a "trooper".

ETA re: character - He's justified things to himself. There's one way you can "redeem" yourself in the ruthless route, but it's not an erasure of harm. However, the biggest takeaway without giving too much is that it's not about you. None of Minotaur Hotel has been about you. You are a catalyst/vessel and play a major part of this story, but this is not your story. It's always been about looking outside of yourself to see the humanity in others and that stays true in the ruthless route, as well.

(+1)

crying atm ;-; I can totally see that. From how raw the game is and for it to unveil the darkness in every character. I fully believe the ruthless route is what you would do to get a better glimpse at that. I would think this route is not about breaking the chain but being come the chain and following the cycle. In which is humorous in sorts that the game constantly mentions a roundabout in everything and everyone. 

(+1)

I feel like the ruthless route is what would happen if this were real 95% of the time, since I'd argue a chain is destroyed, but instead of being broken in a natural and harmonious way, it's instead severed by the scraps of what was available. It works, but it's messy. I still found a couple of the endings in ruthless satisfying, but they're absolutely raw. Some are certainly cruel. At least 2 have funny moments depending. The speedrunner loop route having one of my favorite lines. Just absolutely petty in the, "really??? Still?" sense. So I'm glad ruthless exists to really add weight to doing right by Asterion and the hotel.

(+1)

Honestly, i expected worse. The MC was merely drunk in power, arrogant and disregarding of others, in one word selfish. It helped putting a layer of separation and not thinking of him as a self insert. Plus, the actual protagonist of the route is Argos, if anything you get to appreciate him more, after going through this route. You do have to watch Asterion despair, and those are the hardest parts to read.

(+1)

I love that the MC is something you can don't have to be relatable. Having choice is what brings this game its uniqueness. My curiosity is sated for now, but i bet it was painful to read. After getting his best route i say it would be gut spilling if it wasn't for how well made it all sounds.  

(+2)

"gut spilling" indeed, hehe

(+2)

>:(((((((((

I remember I once sent Asterion with Argos and never sent him to the valley again, but in the next metting with Argos I answered with "I'm a sadist" and automatically I went to ruthless route, even if I haven't sent Asterion to the valley. In speedrunner background I sent him by accident in the chapter 12, and I went to ruthless again, but this I haven't saved my progress. Fortunately I found all endings, so I started again. I don't want to feel the same experience.

the idea of accidentally picking a bad choice makes me shudder. I save at almost every choice to read what reaction it may be and go to the more desired choice. Yeah it may be tedious, but I want to pick the best route if I can. But the pain you went for knowledge I give praise. 

You can sometimes rollback, but after send your staff to tasks.

(+3)

I just finished the ruthless path, I have to give the writers credit, I have never felt like such a bastard in a game or VN before and I'm glad it wasn't just 'do the evil option and get the sad dialogue'
It's actually worth doing after a normal playthrough since it adds a lot to the cast and world and made me appreciate Asterion more, genuinely broke my heart to see him go from numbing himself to cope with things to breaking down and crying when he sees the only thing that gives him any joy or purpose destroyed for nothing.
I'm sorry, moo-man.

(1 edit) (+1)

Ya know... I remember back in the builds before this one, there were a lot of people posting about how hot Argos was and how much they wanted more of him, to date him, etc. Gifs of petting and proteccing the snake boi. I was wondering if those people were just like... not actually reading the content and considering any of the implications of this psycho torturer or what, but now I just have to ask, were any of those sockpuppets or shitposts by you guys as the devs or anyone else in the know? I didn't want to stir shit but I wanted to how the heck people were stanning this mustache twirlingly evil snake that is literally wearing Asterion's pelt as a trophy, like are y'all that horny?

The route is tough but tells a good story, thanks goodness for the perspective shift and revelations that come in Ruthless 2, would've just been too hard without it. Heck, it was still hard to read, even knowing the MC at this point sealed his fate and is going to not have a happy ending for his actions because we still see Asterion's suffering in full. 

I plan on writing up a more detailed summary of the route for those who don't want to walk it themselves. Are there any parts you guys as the Devs (Nanoff and MinoAnon, since I haven't seen Awoo, Kangarube, or Nemo around, unless all of y'all sharing the main account in which case hi) would prefer to not be spelled out in such a summary because you'd like it to be a surprise later in the game for anyone who doesn't go down this route? Obviously that can't stop anyone else from dropping those deets, but still figured I'd ask, since everyone has been a little gunshy on the full details of the spoilers to this route so far.

Developer(+2)
were any of those sockpuppets or shitposts by you guys as the devs or anyone else in the know? 

Nope! The only exception is probably the writer for Nerus, Roddorod, he's a friend of ours who knew what was going on. With that exception, no one knew about what was up with Argos. Some people just really liked him, and you can be sure we were laughing when those posts rolled in.

To be fair, I think there was a trend here. If you tricked Argos twice (with the contract and with the challenge of making a sacrifice) he becomes a lot more friendly and open. I think that a good deal of the posts you saw were coming from people who caught the implication that there could be a way to make him more decent.

Are there any parts you guys as the Devs (Nanoff and MinoAnon, since I haven't seen Awoo, Kangarube, or Nemo around, unless all of y'all sharing the main account in which case hi) would prefer to not be spelled out in such a summary because you'd like it to be a surprise later in the game for anyone who doesn't go down this route? 

Not really. When the game released we put an embargo of sorts in the Mino Hotel Wiki for a week or two, which has already been lifted. As far as we are concerned people can talk about all of the Ruthless route with no restrictions. This includes the more revealing things about the narrator, if you want. In fact I think this will be a good thing, I'd like to see how people who played the Ruthless route discuss it with those who didn't.

Just please put a spoiler warning, as a matter of courtesy.

(+1)

Spoilers: A Summary of the Ruthless Route (Chapter 1)

Hey everyone! As I put above in big bold heading, I'm going to summarize and spoil the Ruthless Route here in a series of posts. Reading about Asterion's trauma here in this route is very difficult and not for everyone, so I wanted to break down its events and revelations for anyone who wishes to know the details on what happens in these chapters without reading it themselves. To be honest, I wish chapter 2 was more accessible, as it has the most interesting lore and is not nearly as dark and depressing since Asterion is not shown at all. If this summary intrigues you, you may wish to find a Let's Play video of this part and see all of its writing in full.

For the each chapter up to the story branching in chapter 3 and each ending 'pair', I'm going to make a fresh post in this thread that is split into two halves: the first will give the summary of the route and will feature as few spoilers as possible to tell its story well, while its first reply (and assumedly, other user's replies) will have a warning but otherwise be full spoilers. If you want to know what happens without learning tidbits and knowledge that might otherwise be revealed on the 'Romantic' route later, only read the 'top' level replies for these summaries - it is simply me guessing, however, so no promises that I can keep all surprises relatively secret.

These replies to the summaries, meanwhile, will go into much greater detail of the more mysterious events. I'll try to mention all of the spoilers I had hidden in the summary and other new information we learn in this route that might be relevant later - important facts and truths we learn to uncover the mysteries of the game - but it's also a good space to have those interested talk about a specific chapter or ending. 

Also, I say ending 'pair' because there are 6 endings to the route, but only 4 epilogues: there is a major choice at the end of chapter 1 that has three options and leads the story in three different ways, but the Master's actions along the way determine if you get the 'regular' version of that ending, or the _Dust and Silence_ 'alternate' version.

The Ruthless Master Chapter 1 General Summary:

While you could argue the Ruthless Route starts as early as Chapter 3, sending Asterion out to the valley, it doesn't doesn't diverge from the events of the main route until the end of Chapter 12, Asterion's concert, so that's where we'll begin. A week has passed since the concert, and Luke and Kota meet up on the hotel roof to discuss how much everything has gone to shit. The Master has been sending Asterion out to the valley on the daily, and Asterion comes back chewed up, glassy eyed, and nearly catatonic every time, withdrawing into himself more and more. Guests are leaving and no new ones come in to replace them, and any attempts to raise concerns up to the gradually manic and contemptuous Master get brushed off, as he has locked himself away in his office, separating himself from the hotel. Luke and Kota agree it's time to abandon ship, but they want to convince Asterion to leave with them, willing to go through the Master if they have to. As they agree on this conclusion, however, something suddenly feels wrong and they no longer feel alone on the roof. They call out, but we cut away before we see what it is.

We shift to the Master, who has become obsessed with the labyrinth, its secrets, and powers of the gods that must be out there. Asterion's sentence is to be a sacrifice, so what's a little more for him to sacrifice? "Sending the minotaur out is right by the gods, edifying for humanity, and profitable for you. What is the pain of one for the benefit of all?" The Master hasn't even needed any prompting from Argos to do this, so the sudden ringing of Argos' flute wakes them from their haze and pulls them outside. Athena's statue seems to smile brightly at the Master, but the snake at her feet has seen much better days: Argos weakly slithers out from behind the statue, bloodied, filthy, coughing, and with gauze and dressing wrapped around his missing left eye, though none of his struggles look fresh. Here the player gets the first choice on the route that can have consequences: "You look like shit." or "Are you alright?". The former locks you into the Dust and Silence version of your ending (chosen later), the latter does not. 

Argos tells the Master he has been performing "great works" while the Master has locked himself away, leading to his current injured state. To that end, he pitches an idea: automate Asterion's sentence and suffering so the gods are forever pleased and the Master has more time to do other things. He has trapped a monster (the Effigy) in a pit to the north, and shoving Asterion into said pit would be a nice, final act of worship for the Master to perform. To tempt the Master for this plan, he has an offer: "an elixir made from the God's own ichor, which is said to expand the lifespan of any who consume it." As this is coming from Argos, the Master is suspicious and calls him out, but Argos swears up and down that this is true, and that he cannot drink the elixir, as his life is already tied to the labyrinth. The player is then presented with the major choice of the route. Three choices, each choosing your eventual ending  that will either play out 'normally' or have the Dust and Silence 'alternate' version: "Agree to the snake's plan." (Ending: Shackled), "Deceive the deceiver." (Ending: Welcome to the Minotaur Hotel), or "Make no promises." (Ending: As You Are, I Once Was). Whichever you pick, the Master leaves to go get Asterion, and the first chapter closes.

Spoilers: Full spoilers from Chapter 1

The only really expunged spoiler from the summary is some of the information about what appears on the roof to Luke and Kota. However, we are not given a clear answer or description of what it is. I have 2 guesses, but first I'm going to exactly quote what the game says. For context, Kota has just called out "If there's anyone there, then show yourself...!"

It can be seen, prowling like a starved beast just out of sight. It can be heard, thrumming in the air like the fading voice of a lyre's plucked string. It can be felt, smelled, tasted. Like the chill of ice and the warmth of fire sinking into one's bones in turn. Like the sour stench of rot masked by floral perfume - crocus and asphodel. Like the coppery sting of blood mixed with the burning sweetness of wine. The Labyrinth leaves its mark on everything.

I have two guesses: either this is similar to whatever smell the Master gets in the finale of Chapter 18 when P and 'Jean' are acting crazy (thus may be the influence of another God) and thus what landed on the roof is the agent of that God that also caused Chapter 18 (I have to make a different spoiler thread about birds, we've had a few come up in the story that didn't immediately attack Asterion (normal birds should) and I think this is thus a bird since it landed on the roof and all) OR it could possibly be the Narrator, Nemesis showing herself to those two. Mostly the asphodel smell makes me think it may not be as evil as my first theory, since they're so tied to Hades, but why we don't get to see more about this creature if it were Nemesis, I don't know.

(+1)

Spoilers: A Summary of the Ruthless Route (Chapter 2)

Ruthless chapter 2 starts with the words "One week earlier" and has a PoV switch to a character praying out to any of the Gods who will listen; a character who has been calling out for the entire evening and into the night to any god who would answer his pleas. It is Argos, living in moderate conditions if his first contract trick was not caught by the Master, or a base cave if he was (he did not have the powers to summon things until yesterday in that case - This split of how good he is at summoning/how often he remembers to summon things continues through this whole route and is a nice touch). And Argos is praying to the gods to come and serve justice upon the Master for his wrongs against them! He has been praying to each god in turn, and finally ends up calling out to one that answers. Not only has this god heard his pleas and responded to him, it is this god who is revealed to have been our Narrator all along! They are one of the 17 gods who provided the power to create this realm, and they have appeared before Argos to question his motives, but also to provide a way forward to justice against the Master. A path that this god cautions will not be without its own price - Argos has sworn an oath as the Foreman of the Labyrinth, which he would be breaking to see justice done. The role is to bring torture to the prisoner; it is the hubris of the Argoi to try and push the Master to do good by being so cartoonishly evil. Argos is the rebel digging for loopholes in this land's principles and laws, and not all of the gods are displeased at the Master's actions so far... yet "the wishes of the gods are many, [Argos], and there may be a place for your breed of justice." The Narrator will help Argos through this costly act, but on one condition: That Argos' Overseer must not be informed about any of this. Said price makes Argos pause, but he decides to accept anyway. In return, he secures the Narrator's guidance and a one-of-a-kind artifact that will be key to achieving his new goal.

In the morning, Argos sets out through the valley to a very hidden place mentioned to him by the Narrator. He skirts by some monsters and eventually starts reciting some lines to himself to focus his thoughts and distract from the exertion of the journey. These lines eventually prompt a flashback to his youth: He is Nikos (Dominikos), slowly waking up (at his mother's calls) for an important day after spending all night rehearsing his lines. Today is his big audition, and if Nikos can perform well enough, he might be chosen to participate in the Trials. He might get a chance to play the role of Argos Panoptes. His MamĂ  has made his favorite food for breakfast, and his BampĂ s asks for a sneak preview of his audition, to which Nikos eagerly accepts. His parents dote on him, claiming that he'll make his Papouli proud, wishing that he was here to see this day. In turn, Nikos prepares himself to act out a monologue from Oedipus, getting ready to "Put on the costume. Speak the lines. Perform the role, and let the role become truth." He then delivers his lines excellently, and his parents continue to dote on him, until Nikos wakes out of the flashback to be Argos once more, nearly at his destination.

Said destination is a hidden cleft in one of the cliffs in the valley. He squeezes through to eventually find a shine to one of the gods hidden away deep inside the cliffside. While shocked to see this, he and the Narrator reflect how Argos' boss directed him to hint about the existence of these godmade shrines, which he did in the second meeting with the Master. This shrine holds a powerful Gift for Asterion, one that would provide him freedom from this realm, if they can retrieve it. However, the shrine is incomplete due to the way the realm cannot generate certain substances. This is what the artifact given by the Narrator to Argos is for, but it alone is not enough, the Gift is only supposed to be revealed to Asterion. However, Argos finds a loophole and is able to sacrifice the Asterion pelt he wears, giving up the heirloom and symbol of the Argoi and his Papouli. In return, the shrine gifts Argos with a glass sphere swirling with light, the key to Asterion's freedom if they can get it to him.

Once Argos leaves the hidden shrine, he is immediately attacked by the Effigy as it is seemingly trying to ram its way through the rock toward the sacrificed pelt. In Argos' panic and haste to get out of the way, the Effigy clips him and gores out his left eye. Pained and reeling, he limps away as the Effigy continues smashing at the rockface hiding the shrine, ignoring the snake entirely. He dresses his wound and, after a moment to collect himself, forces himself onward, asking the Narrator what's next in their plan. They respond that the Master must be tempted by some task that will separate the jailer from the prisoner, that Argos may deliver the Gift. However, the Narrator again cautions that it will come with great sacrifice to Argos if he truly wishes to continue. Argos hesitates, but thinks on how broken Asterion looked, how vile the Master has acted, and how his own actions pushed the Master to commit terrible things from playing the role of Argos too well. This steels his resolve and he commits once more to bring justice "no matter what". The scene fades out.

We rejoin Argos at the shrine plateau for Zeus and Athena (where Argos directs you for exploration day 2 to get the wine), a blade, a vial, and a bottle of Asterion's healing wine in hand after stashing the Gift back at his home. Rather than the statues, Argos actually stands in front of the cairn Asterion placed near the beginning of his sentence, whatever power it may have had long gone since its abandonment. However, the Narrator believes a ritual here may be enough to summon the one thing the Master may be baited with: an elixir of extended life. Not immortality, but something to stretch out his lifespan beyond a normal mortal's means. However, it will cost a sacrifice of time to create, one that Argos will have to pay. The Narrator questions Argos' commitment to this path, which he affirms before starting the ritual. 

During the ritual, Argos out in prayer for an ancient goddess to come and answer his pleas for justice. When one responds and bids him speak, Argos explains how the Master is a defilement on the world, thumbing his nose at the gods and torturing Asterion, the cairn's old caretaker. He bids for an elixir of time to lure the man out to face divine justice. In return, the goddess responds, "AN EXCHANGE    TIME FOR TIME    LIFE FOR LIFE    BLOOD FOR BLOOD". Accepting, Argos drives the blade into his side to make a large gash, and fills the vial half-full with his blood, placing it on the altar as his offering. In return, the goddess wills Argos' wound closed, and transforms the vial of blood into the elixir of extended life, then bids him to go. 

Exhausted, the snake returns home and stashes the elixir with the Gift and the last bottle of healing wine that he knows of, and passes out into a dreamless sleep. In the morning, he heads to a specific tree in the valley to harvest its sap. It is a virulent poison, one exceedingly deadly for any who drink it. Argos carefully mixes this sap into the elixir, which has a presence overpowering enough to hide the poison inside. Next, he heads to where he will build a great pit, one that will hold the Effigy for the cruel Master to cast Asterion in to, but with a hidden tunnel that Argos may ferry Asterion away in secret. However, after his sacrifice of time, Argos is now easily exhausted and barely makes any progress. Frustrated, he asks how he will accomplish this when the Narrator again speaks up: using the Gift as a catalyst, another source of power could be channeled through Argos if he so wishes. Having no other options, he accepts, and returns the next morning with the Gift in hand. The Narrator warns that this will be unpleasant, then channels the power through the Gift into Argos. In an instant, day becomes night and Argos suddenly hunches over in pain and fatigue, yet the pit is suddenly one fathom deeper than before. It exacts a painful toll on Argos to be a conduit like this, but he commits to his work and they repeat this process over the next few days, each evening finding him exhausted and damaged as he wakes up from the work that was channeled through him.

Eventually, the pit is complete, secret tunnel and all. Next, Argos carries the Gift with him to find the Effigy. As he goes, the Gift's light pacifies and stupefies the monsters that he passes, until he finds the Effigy. Though at first he is concerned it won't work, the Gift's light also pacifies the Effigy, and it follows Argos, transfixed by its light. He tricks it to falling down into the pit, lamenting how the Gift's light was not enough before to save his eye from its fate, but soldiers on regardless. This work finally complete, he returns to his home to finally rest for a time.

Argos dreams this night, picking the flashback back up from where it stopped before, Nikos having just performed for his parents before breakfast. Nikos questions about trying to replicate his Papouli's approach to the Argos role, asking if it is the right way to go about it. His parents are convinced that it is: this time, the Fates will pick a kind and virtuous Master that the Argos can mold into being an exemplar of humanity, and Nikos can "Play the villain to make him into a hero." With breakfast ready, they ask Nikos to say grace before they eat, which he does. 

As the family eats their breakfast, his mother and father continuing to give tips to Nikos about keeping the role on the stage natural and believable. 'What does Argoes want?', they posit, and Nikos replies "Argos wants, first and foremost, to fulfill the will of the Gods. [...] Argos will want to test [the Master's] character exhaustively, to make sure they're worthy of the role and responsibility they've been given. [...] But he will want to never lie, nor bring about harm himself. All that he does is in service to the Master, the Labyrinth, and the Gods." His parents are proud of his reply and reaffirm that Nikos will do wonderfully. Nikos closes his eyes...

And Argos opens his. For the first time since taking the role, he is homesick, missing the life he left behind for this demanding work and what it has turned into. He must soldier on, however, and he steels not just his resolve, but fully immerses himself in the role of Argos. He must feel the truth of Argos' every word and deed. "Put on the costume. Speak the lines. Perform the role, and let the role become truth." Then, with a little bit of ending narration from our Narrator, Chapter 2 comes to a close.

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Spoilers: Full spoilers from Chapter 2

Uh, there are a lot of these, since as I said, this chapter has some of the most meat on its bones. I'll try to list them in order, and we can split into further threads to discuss more if needed.

The Narrator is revealed to be Nemesis, one of the triad goddesses of justice. Argos prayed to each of the twelve, plus Hestia and Hades, before praying to the Eyrenies, 'those winged spirits of vengeance'; then finally this triad of goddesses: Dike, Themis, and Nemesis. She is called the Tilter of Scales and is a goddess focused more on vengeance and retribution, especially to those who suffer from hubris and arrogance before the gods. Thus her very brutal plan for Argos makes a lot of sense: in his own way, Argos and the whole Argoi role is its own form of hubris, and Argos must prove himself in trials to redeem himself and be worthy of her help. Vengeance is also a very brutal form of justice, and can easily spiral into cycles of its own, which definitely fits the themes of Minotaur Hotel.
Also, she often (only?) refers to Argos/Nikos as Orestes, in case you see that name thrown around.

Argos' Overseer, in case you didn't figure it out from Chapter 18, is Hermes. Which has really sad implications for Argos, since Hermes tries to get Argos killed in the favor of speeding up Hermes' plot(s) during the Chapter 18 climax. Protecc the Snek.

The godmade shrine that Nemesis directs Argos to is Poseidon's: It is a large body of water that was supposed to be saltwater, which would make it fall within Poseidon's powers of the Sea. However, the realm cannot generate salt in large quantities, so the shrine is incomplete and cannot grant the hidden Gift. This is where the artifact that Nemesis gave to Argos comes into play, though it isn't exactly clear yet what it is. Here's the text from the game:

He unwraps the artifact we gifted to him from the cloth that swaddles it, freeing that hunk of cursed rock from its hiding place. Dark as obsidian. Dark as the still waters stretching out within that underground cavern. Dark as the ichor which runs in the god's veins. It was no easy matter to steal it away form its origin deep within the bedrock of the realm. But by our contract with this usurper was that single shard granted.

With the conversation we had over in the spoiler thread about the importance of blood and Ichor in the game's mysteries (link here), I suspect it might be the actual drop of Poseidon's Ichor that was spilled to make the realm - thus it is one of a kind, as dark as Ichor (because it is Ichor), and it explains how it specifically allows the shrine to be completed.

While I didn't hide that much of it from the summary, I did gloss over a little bit of the ritual and Nemesis' explanation about it and Asterion's cairn shrine: 

Perhaps [Asterion] thought one of the old goddesses of his Minoan ancestors would grant the mercy refused to him by the Olympians. Uncountable are the years since libations were made at this little makeshift altar. First the ancient Masters refused the bull his private worship, and then Joseph the Merciful made it forbidden - along with all other rites to the "pagan" gods. Now, whatever power once lingered within it has long flickered out like an untended flame. But the prisoner's faith remains to this day, and a belief so ancient and wholehearted is no trifling matter. If you stir these cold ashes with your unshakeable belief, Orestes, something may manifest within this forgotten husk. It will be just like ancient times, before humanity grew too great; a single worshipper praying in a time of exceptional need so a god may be born.

And indeed, the ritual creates a new god, as when the speak (in caps), they are called Nameless Goddess and do not have a textbox decorator pattern like other spoken roles. (Oh and by the way, Nemesis never has one either, can make it a little hard to tell when she's talking, just musing, or narrating)

The power that Nemesis channels through the Gift into Argos to magic timeskip the pit digging is her own. I don't know if that means she doesn't have a godmade shrine here to channel through or otherwise write rules for the realm in, or if Poseidon's Gift is just that good a conduit, but I left out that it's her direct power she's flowing through Argos in some way.

What's left.... I think just that it's a little blink-and-you'll-miss-it that Argos/Nikos and his family are some flavor of Catholic, since they specifically say grace before they eat. That comes into more detail/hints both later in one of the endings, and in Chapter 18 if the MC figures out that Argos is the same Dominikos that claimed to be a preacher and befriended Asterion via text. I assume we'll learn a bit more on how that all works later in the story if we hangout with Nikos as a staff member.

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Spoilers: A Summary of the Ruthless Route (Chapter 3, pre-endings) 

Chapter 3 returns our focus to the cruel Master's perspective, who is opening the door to Asterion's quarters, darkness pouring out from within. Asterion  sits inside, sunken into himself, when the Master orders him to rise. They are going out to the valley together today. Silently, Asterion follows, and the player is given a (final) chance to modify Asterion's clothes. After doing so, the Master pats Asterion on the shoulder, and he flinches away. This presents the final major choice to the player: "Punish him." or "Be firm, but fair." The former will also lock you into the Dust and Silence 'alternate' version of your ending, while the latter will not. No matter your choice though, you head out of your quarters, Asterion in tow. 

Before heading all the way out, the Master decides to check in on the reception to see how the hotel is doing. There he finds Kota, Luke, and a small gathering of the last guests left in the hotel. Luke and Kota approach and try to 'Good Cop, Bad Cop' the Master into stopping his abuse of the hotel and of Asterion, but he again brushes them off and tells them to mind their own business. The Master questions the loyalty and oath of whichever is the lounge manager, and tells everyone that they should just leave if they don't like how he's running things. 

Here, the story forks a bit if you are locked into a Dust and Silence ending from being a harsh Master in this route. If you are, Luke and Kota make a more aggressive stand after some additional goading from the harsh and cruel Master, getting ready to resort to violence until Asterion forces himself into their way. This, in turn, enrages the Master, who screams at them to get out, and the realm shifts to instantly expel them. The enraged Master continues his tantrum, also willing the hotel to throw out all the remaining guests, too. Paying little attention to Asterion's reaction, the Master orders him follow down the stairs and out to the valley.

On the other endings that aren't Dust and Silence, the Master does not goad Luke and Kota, and in turn they demand to join you on this trip to the valley to protect Asterion rather than escalate the situation. Being less harsh in these routes, the Master will tolerate them to come to the valley entrance, but no further. They are only meeting with the Foreman, so it "will not be long". They agree, and follow the Master down, stopping at the mouth of the cave as was agreed upon.

Either way, you meet up with Argos at the statue of Athena, who taunts Asterion before leading you onward to the pit containing the Effigy. The Master voices his suspicions about trusting Argos, who flashes the elixir and swears he is speaking only the truth. And no matter what Argos says by now, the Master has already made his choice (see the end of Ruthless 1). The story fully splits into one of three endings, though each has a Dust and Silence 'alternate' ending. Each one will get their own post below, and as a reminder, the options were "Agree to the snake's plan." (Ending: Shackled), "Deceive the deceiver." (Ending: Welcome to the Minotaur Hotel), or "Make no promises." (Ending: As You Are, I Once Was).

Spoilers: Full spoilers from Chapter 3, pre-endings

Surprise, there aren't any! I had to give this one its own post because of character limits in posts though, even though this part isn't very impactful besides giving the player a different (and meaner, ya big jerk) way to get on the Dust and Silence track.

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Spoilers: A Summary of the Ruthless Route (Ending: Shackled)

In the Shackled ending, the Master pushes Asterion into the pit, and is given the Elixir by Argos. Argos pads both of their egos and the Master takes one final gaze into Argos' eye to check for any deception. Finding none, he leaves amicably, telling Argos to reach out next time he has something to show, as "this might be the start of a long and fruitful partnership." In turn, Argos smirks and bids the master farewell. On the way back to the Hotel, as the Master ponders what he will do about Luke and Kota, he finds he simply cannot waste any more time without the power of extended life. The Master drinks the elixir, poison and all, which quickly starts shutting his body down. The Narrator appears in the Master's last moments to speak about hubris and what the Master threw away, as the poison sets in and the Master takes his last breath. 

The scene shifts to a final flashback: Nikos breathing on a stage, pulling himself out of his role of Oedipus at the auditions to join the trials to become the next Argos Panoptes. The godly Overseer applauds, clearly impressed with Nikos' talent. When the Overseer questions Nikos for his motivation to be Argos, Nikos reveals that he is the grandson of the previous one, raised on its stories. After confirming with the Overseer that the Argos may take on a sort of 'mandate's mission' (the Overseer is too busy to check up on the Argos after their time as the Foreman starts, he says, so he likes the idea of them having a mission communicated up front), Nikos declares that his will not allow Clement's actions to happen again, and that he even looks up to the minotaur for doing all he can to help others who are lost, despite being damned himself. 

This, in turn, makes the godly Overseer laugh. He claims this is a very hopeful interpretation of what an Argos is supposed to do, which Argos counters is the natural trajectory of their role: "Humanity changed, and so did we too change from torturers to, shall we say, teachers. [...] I wish to reveal the new master's character, and instruct him to become the shining example humanity deserves." 

Intriegued, the Overseer challenges Nikos with a possibility, what would he do if the new Master is not a good person, and turns to the old ways of running the labyrinth? Nikos, however, refuses to believe such a thing will happen: "He shall not. Humanity is great, and time has made its heart boundless and kind. This new master... I'm sure he'll be good." The Overseer calls him overly optimistic, but that he does not disapprove. Impressed with all that he has said, the Overseer grants Nikos his blessing to participate in the Trials. Nikos is overjoyed and takes a deep breath in...

And Argos breathes out, the flashback over. After cursing out the now dead Master, he tries to strike up conversation with the Narrator, only to be met with silence - their pact is done, and now it is up to Argos to finish his work. He descends to the pit, skirting around the Effigy which pays him little mind. That changes when Argos swipes the extremely injured Asterion out from under its nose, but the secret tunnel is too narrow for it, and it is left behind to rage without its prisoner.

Once pulled to safety, an exhausted Argos pulls out his last bottle of healing wine and begins using it to tend to Asterion. During this, he finally lets go of the role of Argos, and goes back to thinking of himself as Dominikos. As he muses, the wine heals Asterion back up into consciousness, and Nikos lamely asks if he is alright. Asterion is extremely confused, and asks why Argos saved him, watching him wearily for the slightest reason to flee - after all, he knows nothing but the role of Argos the Foreman. In turn, Nikos bids him to finish the wine and listen to what he has to say, as he is so weak that Asterion could overpower him if needed. Asterion agrees to this, and Nikos tells his tale, starting with the past week and growing into explaining things like the Gift, the lineage of Argoi as the Foreman, and what was supposed to happen if the master was a good person. These truths are little comfort for Asterion with all he's been through. Feeling ashamed for the way his role, too, has brough suffering to Asterion, Nikos cannot think of anything else to say or comfort Asterion, and so he says nothing at all, leaving Asterion to rage and grieve alone. 

We cut to the nighttime, Asterion worn out and silently processing all that he has learned. Nikos asks what he plans to do next, if Asterion will take the freedom the Gift offers, but Asterion is torn; He doesn't want to leave the guests behind. Nikos, in turn, points out that the mirror will soon revert to his possession and the guests will be forced out anyway. Unkindly, he asks "So will you keep tying your happiness to theirs? Will you stay here, shackled to your Hotel, while their lives continue on?" Asterion snaps at him for his words, but they hit home. After processing the situation and despite the pain it causes, Asterion finally choses to be selfish and to accept the Gift and take his freedom. Still, he is frustrated with the snake and quips "Alright, you win. At the very last, you win. And may you be damned for it. Good riddance to this Labyrinth. Good riddance to the Hotel, to {player name}... And to you, False Foreman." 

Chastised, Nikos presents the gift to Asterion, who reaches forward to accept it. However, he pauses at the last moment to ask one final question of Nikos: Asterion bids him speak of their homeland, Crete, which Nikos waxes poetically on. It is as beautiful as ever, and that their "homeland's legacy is humanity's". It brings Asterion some peace, but then in a flash of light, he touches the Gift and is gone, the light inside it taken as well.

Left behind in the valley, Nikos hides the empty shell of the Gift at the roots of a nearby tree, mentally preparing himself for his trek to his home from the labrynth. He will get to see his parents once more, but he must also face the retribution that awaits from his Overseer, once they learn of this treason. However, his musings are interrupted by a terrible howling. The pelt, thought gone and sacrificed, has taken to life of its own, and it pounces on Nikos before he can react, smothering him beneath its bulk. The Narrator finally speaks once more, "Now, redeemer, the shackles of the prisoner drag you to the depths. [...] count no man happy until he dies, free from pain at last." The chapter ends.

In the epilogue chapter for this route, P and Storm finally enter the hotel, but it's run down and appears empty. They start looking for clues and find scribbled notes and crossed out poetry that are closer to ravings than understanable prose. Suddenly, Storm hears movement down the hall, and they set out to investigate. It's coming from inside the cold room in the lounge, and when they step in to communicate with what's there, they pull back in surprise. Inside is an emaciated half-snake, half-bull creature: Nikos, having been fused with the pelt that attacked him in the valley and turned into this. After overcoming the shock of seeing each other, Nikos lets out a dusty laugh and answers P's initial questions: There is no one else, and no longer a minotaur that can make diamonds appear from his hands. There is only him, all the guests having fled at his presence. "And now here I am, a wretched monster, shackled forevermore within this realm of damnation. Crowned, as you can see, as proud reward for my love of justice." P advances with more questions and has a hearty laugh of his own when the pitiful creature introduces itself as Argos and promises to share his story. We fade to black with P saying, "Alright then Argos... Tell me everything."

END "Shackled", Argos is drawn in the background of the credits, playing a trumpet.

Spoilers: Dust and Silence alternate ending of Shackled

This ending is mostly the same up until Argos feeds Asterion the healing wine - the only real difference being what the Narrator taunts the Master on during their death. In this Dust and Silence alternate, Asterion's spirit is so broken that he barely responds or reacts to Argos' presence instead of fearing and being soothed into hearing the truths Nikos has to share. Nikos is unable to get any reaction out of him, and knows it is his fault: the trick to get the Master separated from Asterion was too harsh, too cruel on top of this ending's harsher Master, and it is his fault that Asterion's mind has left. Nikos knows he must provide justice by caring for the minotaur until he returns to himself, and to join him through the mysterious light of the Gift to Asterion's freedom. At first, he thinks of this as taking on the shackle of the prisoner... but then steels himself and determines that this is no shackle at all. "This is no mere role. It is responsibility, chosen instead of granted." He joins hands with Asterion and embraces the gift, both disappearing in a flash of light. The Hotel's hearth flickers out: everyone is gone, and the Labyrinth, the Narrator quips, "is well and truly forsaken. Now at last, the curtain falls upon our role in this matter as well. There is no more of this tale to tell. End the trouble here, please, just where they left it." End of chapter 3.

The epilogue for all 3 Dust and Silence endings is the same (hence the ending's name despite the 3 routes to arrive): Storm and P enter the abandoned Hotel and begin investigating. This time, after finding and reading the same abandoned note of poetry, they hear a voice drifting down the hall. The two prepare themselves and advance into the lounge, where a man drink alone at the bar: It is the godly Overseer, here to clean things up and shut the whole realm down now that it is abandoned. But first, he sulks: the minotaur may be free and he may have finally gotten a redeemer, but the Overseer's original plots and plans lie in ruins, and he's going to be bitched out by "the brat" for who knows how long for the realm ending up like this on his watch as Overseer. It takes a moment of P calling out to the man to be noticed, and at first the man seems extremely angered to see P specifically. Still, P pushes on to ask some questions, which calms the Overseer down and he answers them derisively: Sure, this was the Minotaur's Hotel, but everyone's gone and it's time for this place to go too. The Overseer stands up to leave and P tries to push back and demand answers for the new questions the Overseer's flippant words are creating. This angers the Overseer and they have an intense staredown until the Overseer shakes off his anger instead of acting on it. Sighing, the Overseer walks past the two and tells them to just forget about all of this, they're too late and anything they wanted here is gone. With one last taunting exchange, the Hotel suddenly blinks out of existence around P and Storm, leaving the pair standing outside of P's car in the middle of the desert road. The Hotel is gone, the valley is gone, his inheritance... it's all gone. Sure enough, P flares his tailfeathers and confirms that the visions he used to see 'in his dreams' are gone too, and he cries out in anger and frustration.

After letting him rage for a while, Storm asks 'what now?', to which P responds that he just doesn't know. Storm fidgets and then asks about their deal, because they did find that hotel, right? P stares him down a little bit then shrugs. "I guess we'll have to figure that out, too, kid." The two load back up into the car and start driving, minds whirling over what to do next. We fade to black, and end with P's narration: "There is no 'Minotaur's Hotel'. There is no inheritance. There is no satisfaction of an answer to the questions which still linger in his mind and burn like vinegar on his tongue. There is only the peacock, the bull, and the vast emptiness of the wasteland surrounding them."

END Dust and Silence alternate version of Shackled, Argos and Asterion are drawn in the background of the credits, playing their instruments.

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Spoilers: Full spoilers from Ending: Shackled

Woof, if any of the endings are about continuing themes established in the rest of Minotaur Hotel, it's this one: The redeemer takes on the shackles of those they have freed. Pretty accurate way to say this one ended up.

As mentioned before, we're given the identity of the realm's godly Overseer, the only god allowed access to the realm: Hermes. The big information we learn from him in this ending is that he has definitely set up the role of Foreman to turn into what it has: he is 'too busy' to actually oversee the realm (so the realms can conveniently go against the god's (Athena's) wishes) but the humans were getting 'too soft'. Thus he is forced to set up the role of Argos, but picks these big, flamboyant schemers that learned to try and be the villain so the Master can learn to maybe not be a dick. He needs his plausible deniability though, and he is mentioned to be the god of plots and schemes, so setting up this convoluted mess with the express intent that it (eventually) benefits Asterion is very in character. And as I mentioned before, it makes it a little more fucked up what Hermes is pulling in the Chapter 18 climax, throwing away his pawn of Argos/Nikos like that.

I think there's room for debate that Asterion might have intentionally doomed Nikos to literally take his shackles and punishment when he lashes out in anger in this ending just before he takes the Gift's freedom. It's impossible to know if the pelt would've hunted Nikos down anyway, had Asterion not said what he did at the end to Nikos, as the Dust and Silence alternate has them peace out before the pelt comes around.

Not really a spoiler from this route per se, but P finds it so funny that the cursed minotaur snake calls itself Argos, because P stands for Panoptes and he and his people 'should have' been the real Argos in a way.

Full spoilers from Ending: Dust and Silence alternate of Shackled

If Shackled is about taking on the shackles of the one they have redeemed no matter why or how you did it, this Dust and Silence alternate is the deliberate breaking of it through accepting it. Nikos is not just shackled by the realm as a punishment, but he instead calls this responsibility and joins Asterion through to his freedom to try and nurse his mental health back. Otherwise, no new revelations here I think.

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Spoilers: A Summary of the Ruthless Route (Ending: Welcome to the Minotaur Hotel)

In the Welcome to the Minotaur Hotel ending, the Master has decided that he will trick Argos to get the elixir instead of doing as he asks. He tries a very basic trick that Argos immediately sees through, which get the two to share a laugh before the Master entreats Argos to join him in throwing Asterion down into the pit. Eager to move on, Argos sets down the elixir and accepts: on the count of three, they will both push Asterion down. However, on three, the Master tries to instead knock Asterion down onto Argos, pinning him down and getting enough time to run over and snatch the elixir. However, Argos is far more frail than the Master expected, and he tips into the pit instead. The Effigy makes quick work of its new prey, and the Master turns to Asterion, shrugging off the death of the snake and saying "There. That's one problem taken care of. [...] You're welcome for that, by the way." Asterion gapes at the master as he retrieves the elixir, cradling it in his arms. Eventually though, the Master decides they must start walking back and orders the stunned Asterion to follow. After a long pause, Asterion complies, saying how the Master's actions this day have totally numbed over Asterion's own heart.

On the walk back to the Hotel, the Master decides he cannot wait any longer to have the extended lifespan, and starts drinking the poisoned elixir. Immediately, he starts dying from the poison, keeling over in pain. He cries out for Asterion to help him, but Asterion states he cannot, this pain and reward is for the Master alone: there is nothing he can do, for the Master has left him with nothing as well. As he lies dying, the Master may either curse out the bull, the hotel, and the whole Labyrinth (to which Asterion masterfully responds "The feeling is mutual.") or try to apologize, which will at least earn a little comforting touch from Asterion as the Master passes.

Forlorn, Asterion muses on how his sentence continues, and starts mechanically walking back to the Hotel. Maybe one day he will come back to bury the bleached bones of the Master and the Foreman, but for now his work continues.

Arriving back at the cave, Asterion finds no sign of Luke or Kota. Likewise when he heads up the stairs to the lobby, no signs of life, which starts distressing him until he finds everyone in the lounge. They are still there, but the hearth has gone out, and Asterion apologizes for the delay. We don't hear words from or see sprites of anyone but Asterion at this point, though, who apologizes for keeping everyone waiting. "{Player name}? He is... Circumstances have forced him to step down as Master. Until the new one arrives, I shall act as your host. [...] Rest? But... there is so much yet to be done. Hah... perhaps you are right. Ah, no, friends... lead me away..." End of chapter 3.

In the epilogue chapter for this route, P and Storm finally enter the hotel, but it's run down and appears empty. They start looking for clues and find scribbled notes and crossed out poetry that are closer to ravings than understandable prose. Suddenly, Storm hears movement down the hall, and they set out to investigate. It's coming from inside the cold room in the lounge, and when they approach, they hear a voice counting inventory of what's inside. When they call out, the voice responds and comes out into the light: It is Asterion, apologizing for not being at the desk to greet the new guests. However, he is not all there, eyes distant and unfocused as they chat. Asterion again apologizes for his sorry state, but P is just happy to have finally found the minotaur and his hotel, so he tries to placate Asterion and assure him it's alright. 

However, P then starts rapid-firing out questions for Asterion, which quickly overwhelms him. Asterion roars out "Enough!" before quickly wrapping his hands over his mouth and immediately apologizing... until his apologies turn into accusations, that P and Storm are more torturers from the Labyrinth, they will peck him apart with questions and mock him with his own form. Asterion draws himself up in rage again before suddenly deflating in on himself. Again, he starts apologizing and he starts berating himself for speaking to guests like this, his words turning into an indecipherable mess.

Seeing the distressed minotaur, P collects himself, silently reassures Storm, and kneels down to speak soothingly to Asterion. He apologizes in turn and says they can go sit and chat out at the bar over a drink, he has just a few questions, and will ask them more gently this time. Storm steps forward to mention that he has questions of his own, which P concedes. The two help Asterion up and he calms himself, promising to answer what he can. But first, "But first, I... I suppose introductions are in order. {The screen fades to black} My name is Asterion, and I am this hotel's Keeper."

END "Welcome to the Minotaur Hotel", Asterion is drawn in the background of the credits, playing his lyre.

Ending: Dust and Silence alternate to Welcome to the Minotaur Hotel

This ending splits from the above after knocking Argos into the pit. After grabbing the elixir, the Master orders the stunned Asterion to follow him back to the Hotel. This time, however, Asterion has had enough, and pushes himself against the order, calling out "I look at you, and all I see is Clément's sneering face. No. Even he, cruel man, was far better than you. [...] Our guests... my friends... the moment they grew inconvenient, you tossed them aside like nothing. Even the Foreman, your partner, proved to be just another of your victims in the end. And for what, Master? What mad visions have spurred you to this? Was it the Labyrinth which carved out your heart, of has it always been empty? Ah, miserable! That is the only word I have for you now. That is the only word I can ever have."

Naturally, this pisses off the Master, filling him with the same rage he felt when Kota and Luke tried standing up to him. He plays the 'How dare you say that, after everything I've done for you' card, ending it with its followup 'fine, I don't need you, stay out here and rot then'. While Asterion's face wavers for a moment, he doubles down, saying "I'd rather suffer a thousand deaths at the hands of the Labyrinth's monsters than spend one moment more under your thumb." Furious, the Master lets him have just that and stalks away toward the Hotel.

As before, en route to the Hotel, the Master cannot resist the siren call of the elixir and its extended life any longer. He unstoppers the vial and starts to drink, quickly succumbing to the poison now coursing through his veins. As in the Shackled ending, the Narrator speaks to the Master as he dies, calling him out for his actions, hubris, and waste of precious gifts. We fade to black.

The scene turns back to Asterion, who is reeling from the pain of the poison as well - as always, he feels the last moments of the Master's life. He looks out to where the former Master stormed off, and ingrained manners force him to call out "... Farewell. Rest in peace..." But before he can stop himself, he also spits out "And good riddance.", a small defiance against the might of the realm's lord he hasn't indulged in ages. 

He forces the rage to cool, however, as he starts to prepare himself for the walk back through the Hotel. How long must he wait for the next Master? Who will they even be? How many more times can he take this cycle? The only comfort he can give himself is that he will not have to worry about the trapped Effigy anymore. Or Argos.

...Or Argos? After some pondering, Asterion can't help but wonder if the Foreman can actually die, or even be destroyed until another manifests from the valley's bowels? And perhaps, if the Foreman can be vanquished, even temporarily, could the other things lurking here be as well? With a morbid curiosity, Asterion walks back to peer down into the pit. Down there he sees only a trail of blood, but no snake. Said bloodtrail leads into a small tunnel in the pit he hadn't noticed at first, some sort of escape passage from the pit. Curious, Asterion walks above where he suspects the tunnel leads, looking for its exit. 

And sure enough, on the other side, he finds a very bloodied Argos panting for breath, trying to rifle through his pack despite a dislocated should and rather messed up arm. Despite their shared history, Asterion cannot help but feel some pity for the Foreman's terrible shape, and he calls out to him. The minotaur's voice startles Argos, and causes him to fumble the first-aid kit he was trying to pull out of his pack. Argos hisses in pain and basically flops to the ground, letting out a hoarse and mirthless laugh, Asterion getting to "see the torturer fall victim to his own machinations." When Asterion does not rise to that bait, Argos decides to change tactics, and asks instead about the Master. "Gone. He... he's dead. [...] You poisoned him." A smirk from Argos. "I did." "...Why?" 

This 'Why?' adds to the pile of 'Why?'s in Asterion's life, and thinking on them, on all of these senseless and confusing problems, he starts to draw himself up in a rage. Eager to not get struck by the minotaur's rage, Argos is quick to promise answers after tending to his wounds. Seeing him struggle, however, spurns Asterion to step forward and offer to help patch the Foreman up. True to his word, Asterion helps clean and bind the worst of Argos' wounds, along with popping his shoulder back into its socket, feeling a "brief and quickly-suppressed stab of satisfaction at Argos' scream of agony." Even with their history, he cannot bear to leave anyone to die who could be saved.

Wounds tended, Asterion bids that Argos begin talking and telling him the answers he promised. Unsure where to begin, Argos decides to start with his real name, Dominikos, and the history of the Argoi. They are mortals, hailing from a little village in Crete, called to be Foremen by one of the Gods (the Overseer) because the Masters had grown soft and an "old duty" forced the God to send someone in. However, this role was to be a charade, known by no one other than the Argos and his Overseer. "One Argos for each Master." 

From there Nikos explains how his grandfather was Jean-Marie's and Clément's Argos, and how he was raised on the stories, tragedies really, of this Labyrinth. (This part is really powerful, so I'm going to present it in full)

> "I spent my whole life dreaming of... of this." The snake looks at his own hands, feels the emptiness of his eye socket and the seeping exhaustion. "This, none of this was supposed to happen. This Master was supposed to be a good man, that's what I was told. I thought he'd be just like Jean-Marie. That's what we all believed, me and - and BampĂ s, and MamĂ ." The tears fall before he can notice them. "But it's not... that's not what happened." His fingernails dig into his scales, leaving war-red gashes. "It's all my fault. I pushed him to send you out because that's what I was supposed to do. It's what I was told to do. I thought it'd be just like the old stories, with the hero outsmarting the monster. I'm an actor, goddamnit! I had to play the role of Oedipus in a theatre to be accepted for this job... I didn't expect {Player name} to do any of those things to you. I - I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

Nikos goes on to explain that he felt too guilty over his actions to continue, so he called for help from every God of every legend until the Narrator answered. With their insight and their help, he was able to uncover and retrieve the Gift, which he pulls out from his bag and shows to the shocked Asterion, telling him it will finally grant him freedom from the Labyrinth, the masters, the cycles, everything. Asterion starts to reach for the light of the Gift, but pauses at the last moment to ask a question. "And what of you? What will happen to you once I leave this place?"

Nikos pauses, before answering that his boss, the godly Overseer, must know of his treasonous actions by now. If he does not die from his new wounds from the Effigy, he will only make it back to face the Overseer's retribution. He tries to set his face in a stony indifference, but now that he knows to look, Asterion sees through him. Argos may act indifferent to his fate, but Dominikos is terrified beyond words. Determined, Asterion draws himself up, and proposes a different idea to Nikos: "You will leave this place with me. You will accompany me to wherever that [Gift] leads. And if you are truly sorry, you will spend every day for the rest of your life atoning for what you've done." 

With a surprised smile, Nikos accepts: "...Very well. I will do as you command, your majesty. It's only just, after all." Together, the two take hold of the light in the Gift, and in a flash of light, vanish from the valley. The Hotel's hearth flickers out: everyone is gone, and the Labyrinth, the Narrator quips, "is well and truly forsaken. Now at last, the curtain falls upon our role in this matter as well. There is no more of this tale to tell. End the trouble here, please, just where they left it." End of chapter 3.

The epilogue for all 3 Dust and Silence endings is the same (hence the ending's name despite the 3 routes to arrive): Storm and P enter the abandoned Hotel and begin investigating. This time, after finding and reading the same abandoned note of poetry, they hear a voice drifting down the hall. The two prepare themselves and advance into the lounge, where a man drink alone at the bar: It is the godly Overseer, here to clean things up and shut the whole realm down now that it is abandoned. But first, he sulks: the minotaur may be free and he may have finally gotten a redeemer, but the Overseer's original plots and plans lie in ruins, and he's going to be bitched out by "the brat" for who knows how long for the realm ending up like this on his watch as Overseer. It takes a moment of P calling out to the man to be noticed, and at first the man seems extremely angered to see P specifically. Still, P pushes on to ask some questions, which calms the Overseer down and he answers them derisively: Sure, this was the Minotaur's Hotel, but everyone's gone and it's time for this place to go too. The Overseer stands up to leave and P tries to push back and demand answers for the new questions the Overseer's flippant words are creating. This angers the Overseer and they have an intense staredown until the Overseer shakes off his anger instead of acting on it. Sighing, the Overseer walks past the two and tells them to just forget about all of this, they're too late and anything they wanted here is gone. With one last taunting exchange, the Hotel suddenly blinks out of existence around P and Storm, leaving the pair standing outside of P's car in the middle of the desert road. The Hotel is gone, the valley is gone, his inheritance... it's all gone. Sure enough, P flares his tailfeathers and confirms that the visions he used to see 'in his dreams' are gone too, and he cries out in anger and frustration.

After letting him rage for a while, Storm asks 'what now?', to which P responds that he just doesn't know. Storm fidgets and then asks about their deal, because they did find that hotel, right? P stares him down a little bit then shrugs. "I guess we'll have to figure that out, too, kid." The two load back up into the car and start driving, minds whirling over what to do next. We fade to black, and end with P's narration: "There is no 'Minotaur's Hotel'. There is no inheritance. There is no satisfaction of an answer to the questions which still linger in his mind and burn like vinegar on his tongue. There is only the peacock, the bull, and the vast emptiness of the wasteland surrounding them."

END: "Dust and Silence" alternate to "Welcome to the Minotaur Hotel", Argos and Asterion are drawn in the background of the credits, playing their instruments.

Spoilers: Full spoilers from Ending: Welcome to the Minotaur Hotel

Ah Asterion... a true tragedy, us as the audience knowing what you're missing by not turning around and look for the Foreman like you do when pissed off at the Master in the Dust and Silence version. No real spoilers were expunged from this ending.

Full spoilers from Ending: Dust and Silence alternate of Welcome to the Minotaur Hotel

This one is probably the best ending out of all 6 Ruthless route endings, mostly because it seems to end the best for our boys and the Master gets done in by his hubris... well, I concede Snekboi is not in a great state physically, though, compared to the last Dust and Silence on the next post. There are no real new spoilers to discuss in this one either, that isn't already covered better elsewhere, like the Overseer being Hermes. 

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Spoilers: A Summary of the Ruthless Route (Ending: "As You Are, I Once Was")

In the As You Are, I Once Was ending, the Master has decided that there must be some sort of trick to Argo's scheme, and refuses to push Asterion into the pit until he grills Argos for more information. In turn, Argos pressures the Master to hurry up and act, that there is no trick. The player gets presented with some options to express doubt on, but no matter what you pick, Argos gets ticked off, cuts off the Master, and demands he just do his job already and punish the prisoner. This gets the Master to push back harder about getting his questions answered first, and Argos gets in his face over it, trying to loom over the Master and demand no more questions or games. As the Master lashes out to push Argos back, he accidentally strikes the Elixir in Argos' hand, sending it tumbling down to the ground. It shatters on the hard ground, liquid quickly absorbed by the arid, dusty ground. Despite Argos' best efforts to salvage even a single drop, it is of no use on this cursed ground.

Once Argos gets over his initial shock, he alights in rage and lunges for the Master's throat, but is forced to pull up short due to the laws and rules protecting the Master of the Labyrinth. Unable to lay a hand on the Master, Argos shrinks away and screams at him, how the Master has no idea what he's just done, what toil and hardship he has just ruined by his careless actions. Argos' lamentations quickly turn inward, how cursed he is that all his sacrifices are in vain. He obliquely calls out to the Narrator, who still does not respond or interject, and Argos' words turn into sobbed mourning over his lost plot.

But the Master has no interest in waiting for the snake to calm down, and demands his own answers for all of this. He twists Argos' words about sacrifices around on him, saying how clearly the Master has sacrificed the most just trying to deal with the snake's plots and schemes. Getting angrier and angrier, the Master says maybe he should throw Argos down into this pit instead, and starts working himself up more when Asterion cries out "Enough! Enough!" and interrupts the Master with his own meltdown and angry outbursts over the whole situation.

Once Asterion has calmed down somewhat, the Master drops Agros (on the ground, though he has a fleeting thought about using the pit instead) and calls over to Asterion, who is at first unresponsive. The Master walks over to Asterion and starts to reach for his shoulder, but Asterion wrenches away from his touch, eyes opening in a fury of his own. After the week of withdrawal into himself, Asterion is finally lucid once more, and he is fucking pissed. This Master has been crueler by far than all of the others, yet he still pulls back at the last second of sacrifice, and Asterion demands to know why. The player can pick from a few options about Asterion's usefulness or not trusting Argos, but the response doesn't seem to matter, as no matter what you say, Asterion simply doesn't care anymore. He's completely numbed himself up to this cruel Master and his cruel games and is done with any pretense or thoughts otherwise. 

Asterion suggests you both simply head back to the Hotel and starts walking off without the Master, when Argos calls out to him to wait, calling him by name for the first time. He rushes over to Asterion and grab on to his forearm, trying to explain that there's another way out of this, that Argos can provide freedom for him. Immediately, the Master takes offense and almost slaps Argos, but barely remembers at the last moment that the contract for the Mirror of Hestia would be breached, returning it to the snake and leaving the Hotel's hearth cold. Instead, he pulls Argos' hand off of Asterion and shoves the snake away, telling him to fuck off and never show his face again. To drive it home, the Master adds an order to Asterion that if he ever sees Argos again here in the valley, to not interact and immediately let the Master know. New orders in place, the Master and Asterion head for the Hotel, leaving the lamenting snake in their dust.

Since there is no poisoned elixir to consume the Master's thoughts and actions on the way back to the Hotel, the Narrator is left guessing what they are thinking: What will they do about the guests and the revolt back at the Hotel? Expel them, or have their words finally penetrated the Master's hardened heart? What does the Master regret, the suffering of Asterion at their hands, or that they have nothing to show for today's endeavor? Perhaps the Master's lack of time? If the snake had spoken true and the Master had more time, what wonders would the Master have done and old heroes' civilizations would have been restored in the world through the power of this realm? And what of the gods, would the Master's pious worship have eventually summoned the Olympians to recognize their efforts? 

All of this matters not without time, so the Narrator moves on to their own plea for the Master: "Regardless, what has been done cannot be undone. You have made your choices. And so look forward, Master. [...] Rule our land, you know you have the power. But rule the land of the living, not a wasteland! Do you hear our pleading, O Master {player name}? Do our words reach your heart - whatever pale and withered remnant yet dwells within you? If they do, and if you would take the advice of these humble observers, then hear us and hear us well. {the screen fades to black} You do wrong when you take good men for bad, bad men for good. A true friend thrown aside - why, life itself is not more precious! In time, you will know this well. For time and time alone will show the just man, though scoundrels are discovered in a day." End of chapter 3.

The epilogue chapter for this route is very different from the other ones, and does not feature P or Storm at all. It starts with some familiar text: "You don't remember much about that night." - the starting text for the game. Though it follows up with "Then again, you don't remember much of anything anymore." The Master has since left the Hotel behind, something having been extinguished inside of them on that day out in the valley. Asterion served as he had to, seen but not heard, and with a lingering animosity that made the Master never actually converse with him again. As demanded, Argos was never heard from again. And though the hearth never went out, no guests ever came to the Hotel, leaving just the Master and "the rotting fruit of [his] labor, to enjoy [his] kingdom of solitude and silence." Eventually, the Master could not take it and left for the outside world once more, but no hearth would ever warm him, no bed would ever let him rest, and no one would ever welcome him in to their place. They wander, "homeless, friendless, and forsaken." 

Suddenly, we find ourselves with a familiar background and, again, some familiar text: "Eventually, you found yourself in a bus station." Where before this bus station was a confusing respite that started their journey, here nothing can penetrate the aura of desolation that wraps itself around the forsaken Master. He slips into the cafe and pours himself a cup of coffee, checking the clock to see its time: 3AM. The Master is on his last legs, but he can tell he is close - "to redemption perhaps, if [he] deserved it, but to an ending either way." 

The Master is so caught up in his memories (and hallucinations of those memories here in the cafe) that he almost missed the young man standing in the doorway of the cafe. After a moment to rattle those thoughts back into place, he gestures the young man to come and join him, pouring a cup of coffee for the newcomer. They make small talk and the young man tells the old man his name, but just as before, the old man has a hard time grabbing it: "He tells you his name is John - or is it Justin? Does it even start with a J?" ((I named my Ruthless run character with a J so I don't know if they do this for every letter of the alphabet or not, haha)) The familiar chat and questions continue, though from the other perspective now. When asked about their background, the young man's matches the Master's, and the old, forsaken Master is finally satisfied about the character of this young man. He pulls out a certain old piece of paper and tries to pass it to the young man. In the plea this time, though, the Master adds: "It... he needs a purpose, though. Be good. Take care of him."

As the Master was, the young man is skeptical and the old man must plead his case, thinking "Maybe this youngster will be the redeemer that was promised so long ago. Maybe he'll be worse than you were. But maybe, just maybe, he'll do better. […] This is your last chance to do it right." We fade to black as the old Master says: "Just... take the deed." 

END "As You Are, I Once Was"

Ending: Dust and Silence alternate to As You Are, I Once Was

This ending splits from the above right after the Master picks an answer to Asterion's question to why they pulled up short of sacrificing him. Rather than deciding to numb himself entirely to this even crueler Master and continue serving him, Asterion has had enough and pushes back, taking control of the situation (while Argos watches incredulously from the background): "Then begone with you." Incredulous, the Master can only respond "Excuse me?", and in turn Asterion draws himself up, as tall and proud as he can manage, staring the Master down with contempt. "I said begone with you. Go." He even gestures for the Master to get out of his sight; as though he the master and the Master the servant. "I'm tired, Master... no, {player name}. I'm tired of this farce. So go on back to your Hotel. You're welcome to it. I will remain here, in the valley."

Angered, the Master tries invoking Asterions' oath of servitude, summarizing it as 'The Prisoner Asterion pledges loyalty and servitude to the Labyrinth's Master.' However, the Master is wrong on the terms of the oath, which Asterion is happy to correct him on: "And I think that you are forgetting the terms of that oath. 'The Prisoner will carry the burden of servitude, but shall not suffer the Labyrinth's wrath within the Hotel's territory.' " He gives a wry smile. "What do I have to fear of the Labyrinth's wrath? I'd rather suffer a thousand deaths at the hands of its monsters than spend one moment more under your thumb."

Offended, the Master stares Asterion and the quivering Argos down and angrily tries calling Asterion's bluff. "Fine then. Stay out here, see if I care. You and that liar can play all the games you want together. I've got a hotel to run." He turns on his heel and stalks away, eyes locked on to the Hotel and thinking "There's still so much to do, And your time to do it is already running out." as we fade to black.

We shift to a new scene and a music change - a flashback to just last night. The Narrator is talking to Argos, who is huddled in his home and getting ready to sleep, hoping to get to dream once more of home, of a mother's kindness and a father's advice. All of his wounds feel fresh: his vitality ebbs in his chest from the ritual, as does the scar on his side from it, to say nothing of the ghost of his eye and the emptiness it left behind. For a seemingly final time, the Narrator asks "Is your soul prepared to see this through?", and, no matter his circumstances, Argos replies "Yes, [Narrator]. Whatever may come." Argos closes his eyes.

... but merciful sleep does not come. Feeling for him, the Narrator decides to chat with Argos, "so that at least his mind could enjoy a period of grace." The Narrator decides to ask what is really motivating him to take this 'unblessed' path, as all Argoi before him - even his admired grandfather - had to tolerate violent masters before. 

At first, Argos parrots some of the words he said the first time he made contact with the Narrator, words of vengeance which drew the Narrator here to make a pact, but the Narrator pries deeper: "but why you of all Argoi? What changed that now one of your lineage, you, had the hubris to rise above your station?"

After a pause and a shift in position, Nikos finally responds with his own voice and thoughts. "I was told it was the right thing to do." 

He explains how he was raised on the old tales of heroes and monsters, including how Cadmus and his wife Harmonia became snakes in their old age but remembered humanity, and thus had no venom, this creating his race of snake people. "We are one with humanity," he says, "but apart. Touched by Python's distant chaos."

He pauses, then continues "Those tales, aren't they beautiful? Any my Papouli was part of one himself. The old Master Jean-Marie, who the prisoner cherished so much... He was just as rotten as his brother ClĂ©ment." Nikos claims that only through the tempting at his Papouli's hands as the role of Argos that Jean-Marie learned better: "It was only then that he became the figure the minotaur remembers and loves. That, he told me, was the role of the Argos. To play the trickster and lead, through subterfuge, the human Master to what's right. A holy duty, [Narrator]. Given, no less, by a God of old. [...] That's why I did it, [Narrator]. I was told it was the right thing to do. Blessed.  I believed it.   I didn't do it for honor or glory, but because I thought it was right.  For my Papouli, too."

Then, Niko's demeniour sours. "Then this man comes, {player name}. It's not right. By all that's holy, it's not right." Here, the Narrator responds: 'But it's what the Olympians' sentence demands.' After a pause, Nikos replies "But my pact now is with [you, Narrator]." 'How regretful it is that you were born of Cadmus' lineage, Dominikos. You would have made a fine [addition to] my ranks.'

After a pause, Nikos finds himself bold enough to ask if he may ask the Narrator a question, which she allows. "What is the Underworld like?" 

Suddenly, we hard cut to black and the next scene, music stopping instantly.

The next scene focuses on Asterion, who is trying to control his breathing... the righteous fury that had him spite the Master is starting to ebb to questions and concerns over life now in the valley. His breathing routine is stopped by Argos, who calls out to him by name. When Asterion turns to glare at Argos, the snake quickly holds up his hands to shield himself from the minotaur, calling out "Wait! Just... listen to me." Assuming he just wants to speak of his torture, the reinvigorated Asterion taunts Argos about the pit, but Argos in turn says "No, I... I don't want to torture you. Look, I know you don't have any reason to trust me. But just listen and hear me out. If you don't like what I have to say, then... I swear by the name of [Overseer's true name that Argos has danced around until now] that I'll never trouble you again."

Either sensing some sort of truth or seeing no other alternative, Asterion sits down a few paces away from the snake and allows him to continue, so continue Argos does. He starts with the events of the past week: the plot Argos had against the Master and the trials and ordeals undertaken, all for the sake of bringing this meeting to pass. That leads into the revelation of the realm's 'supplanted purpose; the conspiracy which dates back to the Labyrinth's very founding': The hidden Gift, the efforts of the Overseer and the Argoi - including giving his real name of Dominikos - the testing of the Master's character in hopes of finding a good person to be the redeemer... everything. And in this ending, Asterion absorbs all of these truths silently, but not as harshly as some of the other endings.

It is late afternoon when Nikos is done speaking, and after a little time for Asterion to reflect, Argos asks what's next, with freedom finally within reach. Ever hopeful, no matter how many times it has been yanked away, Asterion decides he wants to see this Gift. Nikos agrees... "on one condition." Immediately, Asterion's guard goes up, ready for this all to have been a trick, when Nikos explains "Please, Asterion... Prince Asterion of Crete... Take me with you. {Asterion's sprite is stunned while Nikos' starts shaking} The one who set me to my task must know of my treason by now. If I stay here, or try to return home after everything I've done, surely I'll be made to face [their] retribution."

Asterion looks over the trembling Nikos, scared and alone, and he finds even his numbed heart melting at the sight. He recognizes this could still all be a deception... 'But for the moment, Asterion chooses to believe. After all, he has nothing lest to lose. "...Very well. But if you're lying to me, then not even the binding of the Labyrinth will prevent me from making sure you regret it." Relieved, Nikos promises that he understands, and leads Asterion over the hill from where our perspective stays. After a few moments, a bright light flashes and blinks out, leaving only a faint glimmer to pierce the darkness. Like the other Dust and Silence endings, the Hotel's hearth flickers out everyone gone... except, this time, for the Master. However, "And as for the Master, his mandate rendered moot, surely he too shall soon follow." The Narrator then quips, "Now at last, the curtain falls upon our role in this matter as well. There is no more of this tale to tell. End the trouble here, please, just where they left it." End of chapter 3.

((I'm at character limit for this post, look to the other Dust and Silence epilogues for this ending, as it is the same))

END: "Dust and Silence" alternate to "As You Are, I Once Was", Argos and Asterion are drawn in the background of the credits, playing their instruments.

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This has really sated my curiosity of the ruthless route. I whole heartedly believe that every moment of the route is Impactful and full of heavy emotions. All I can think is how raw the scene are that not only did it break the player, but would break me as well. It is bitter sweet that you learn so much about argos, yet give him so much suffering. A price to pay for knowledge. I thank you for giving in-depth written post of the routes plot because I will not touch it. I will not be happy putting everyone in this catatonic state lol. 

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You're welcome! It is really impactful and explores the overall themes of Minotaur Hotel in big important ways, which is why I wanted to do it justice and write up a very detailed summary of its content so more people could learn about it. Hopefully by skipping the worst of the traumatic bits, rewriting it to mostly never be 2nd person (I found it felt a lot worse to see "You order Asterion to follow you" rather than "The Master orders Asterion to follow."), and using 'The Master' to refer to the player instead of our more common 'MC' designator, it helps provide distance that this is exploring the tragedy of the Ruthless route, rather than being something the player has chosen to do.

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Which i believe is fitting since at this point, the master is now a whole new entity then before. Seeming like once you open the doors to the route, the master changes altogether. How did you feel about the shift? Was it gradual enough to make you reflect upon your actions or harsh enough to make you recoil? I understand now what someone told me about this cycle being broken, but in a explosive way. Rather then harmonies in the main route What happens to Asterion once free in some routes is unknown, but then he would be subjugated to the las against his kind no? Broken in such a state. Kinda continuing this cycle which the game loves to point out and keep surfaced. What is your thoughts on the main route after completing all the ruthless routes? It makes me think that the simple humane actions you do by giving asterion kindness is very underplayed. Made to think its the simplest thing one can do yet has a huge impact as we can see now.

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The hard part for me is the dissonance pre-the Ruthless route's start after Chapter 12. The Ruthless Master's actions versus the rest of the narrative still going on before the story forks - recruiting Kota or Luke, the other times you're chatting with Asterion about starting up the Hotel and not being the worst etc. Once the route begins after Chapter 12, it is a lot easier to separate the character the Master has become from me as the Player/MC and the choices I'm picking to see the content. It's still tough seeing a very traumatized person not only be denied the help and therapy they need to deal with their trauma, but instead getting new trauma heaped on to them, but once you're in the Ruthless chapters, the Master is more of their own character with their own hubris that they need to get foisted by like any good tragedy. In fact, I'd say these chapters are a great tragedy that really has punch because you're in some control over what type/details of the tragedy you see. 

I do think this helps underscore a point the devs made about the Ruthless route before it was done: it does make doing the right thing more impactful to do because you can actively chose the wrong thing to do to someone like Asterion. The tough part is how much a VN wants you to self-insert to the story, so it feels much more personal not just choosing to do evil things, but hearing the dark thoughts in Asterion's head and actions behind closed doors that an abuser would never see as a consequence of their actions. It's really important to note just how much they wrote the MC to very intentionally not do anything that would abuse his power over Asterion beyond the ruthless content and maybe trying to send him out naked or just in his underwear. The main route MC talks with Kota about this because of the power dynamic, and the only reason our relationship with Asterion can work is that Asterion knows we're never actually ordering him to do something, even when we say "refer to us by name, not as Master" - he knows it's never truly an order, just colloquialism. 

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That breaking things bit was me, heh. I've been thinking more about that and ruthless in general.

The title of the route is extremely relevant. It's not the "ruthless" route, it's specifically "The Ruthless Master". This means many different things at once. It's your part in this story. It's the actions taking place. But more importantly, it's one of the sacred roles the labyrinth was built around.

Whether it's gradual or harsh is fairly irrelevant. It can be either depending on your choices. Are you withdrawn immediately and justifying your bad decisions the entire time or did you accidentally "slip" and break your promise to never send Asterion to the valley? The reason goodness can exist is because of the Gods and their lack of imagination. "The Ruthless Master" is almost like a fast food training video or an infomercial. They take things to their worst possible conclusion to get the point across, regardless of how realistic it would be for you to get in those situations. This is how Gods saw human nature. The labyrinth was constructed to give a human the power to gain could ever want except one: Time. No matter how gradual or suddenly the shift to Ruthless Master is, no matter the excuses or motivations, it's all just a reverberation of the past playing out again. What may seem like once to you is something Asterion has lived through more than an unforgivable amount of times.

I haven't mentioned it until now, but Act 1 of The Ruthless Master is titled "Time Demands His Due". Chapter 12 pre-TRM is very different from Chapter 12 normally because of how much work is done to establish how stark our leads perception of time is. This comes through the dance between Asterion's thoughts and Nemesis's offerings. This of course happens throughout the good route, but there are a few distinctions. Nemesis no longer filters her words to be approachable by the reader and is instead focused on the timescale of someone who has lived multiple thousands of years. She likely knows we could be listening, but at that point, it is too late and wants to emphasize that no matter how important and rational we view our actions, we are utterly insignificant to the two of them.

Then there's the brilliant mechanical shift. Asterion talks about the delay between action and reaction. Likewise, there are stops inserted mid-sentence to punctuate the unnatural rhythm as well as emphasize the cruelty of endless mundanity without having a will. It's a dance between Asterion and those writing and coding. Probably the cruelest sentence is uttered here: "Reign yourself." How easily a false freedom from submission could be misappropriated into a slogan of self-power.  It occupied both and considering it's said of a prince, there are many layers at play to make two words put together sting. 

This repetition, odd rhythm, and self-torture to cope with physical torture all work in tandem to highlight how non-existent your voice is at this point. It's almost been entirely removed from what should be a shift into Asterion wanting to trust you. You are a blip. Your words aren't new. They're not unique. They're not special, and in the blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things, you'll be gone. This really highlights what helps the main story work. Part of why the romance is so special between you and Asterion is that it forces Asterion into a human timeframe. A good master to Asterion may be akin to a good month to us. The timescale is so vastly different that he knows there will eventually be another person to take your place. So while a romance with Asterion may be akin to a life well-spent, something eternal and sacred to your identity and experience, Asterion has to cope with knowing how finite that time is. However, because of that mortal fear he gets a chance to experience humanity to a fuller degree than he's previously been afforded.

As for Nikos and his actions, I think the fifteenth tablet is likely the most relevant thing here. There are a few things that stick out, but there's one line I want to point.

"A price must be paid to do what is right, all men know."

In a tablet titled "Folly". The right thing only requires a price when there is injustice attached, be it personal or societal. In many ways, The Ruthless Master is allegorical using figures we will understand*. It feels very ritualistic. Nikos sees the old gaining power and thus uses that opportunity to play by old-school rules. "An eye for an eye." Justice was something entirely different then and Nikos, through Nemesis, can exploit that way of thinking at the cost of harm done to at least him, possibly others.

*God, I'd love for Nikos to put on a one-person stage play iteration of this. Using a stripper pole from Luke to ascend as everyone watches on in dismay lmao. Maybe Khenbish and his die would appreciate it. :P I low-key ship them but that's neither here nor there. I just want Khenbish to be happy and I think Nikos and his oiled and burnt optimism would stick with him.

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Okay, I really need to get sleep. I just have a couple of thoughts while writing this and replaying some of The Ruthless Master route. Wish I had more energy to more into the allegorical aspects, but I don't know if my train of thought will be there tomorrow. Anyway:

Really cute to have the Fake Argos snake say the master is peacocking about.

I find it interesting that Asterion plays the Lyre. It so heavily emphasizes the strings over other material. Considering the imagery of the fates, it feels like Asterion taking some control over the strings in his life. It also brings to mind the labyrinth and yarn, also a part of "Folly'. Folly itself isn't inherently negative, more just unrealistic with an undercurrent of foolishness. Interesting that Folly is a tablet with no ornamentation that also mentions the potential of a surprise rekindling.


God, I hope even a fraction of this makes sense lmao goooooodnight

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oh yeah, are we the interloper or is that Nikos? Hm

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Its funny how you pull such magnificent strands of thoughts right when you go to bed hmm? Every run I play through it haunts me to believe that asterion knows how much you love him yet you as a player may or may not have that sinking feeling that this will not last forever. The scene with the knife really brought it to light. Though your time may be fleeting, it's enough that your time spent has eased his mind when you don the lead ring. The master was right when he mentions no man should have that much power. 


Argos is just a whole trip on its own. At the very core of it all. It's just a play, and a role he dons to prove himself to the gods. The pelt was the mask and by the gods he did his part. I like to think once he relinquished the pelt, it was him taking the mask off. No more Argos but Nikos. Being lucky in the main route, and reaping what he sowed in the ruthless. At the very least honourable enough to fix what he has caused. That in my mind, is what makes Nikos a great character

 I love hearing from everyone and getting an idea what the game has brought and how everyone digests its contents. Y'all are awesome.


Edit- I'm so glad you popped up so you can have the credit you owed I forgot you told me ;-;

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Lol, pleaaaaase don't worry about credit with me unless I'm posting like an actual work. That was a comment I wrote specifically for you in regard to something you posted to make sure you got what the route was about. (Without revealing too much in case you decided to play.) That you remember the idea says more than enough.

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Just as a general addendum now that I've gotten some rest:

I meant to include this when discussing the mechanical way the story expressed Asterion's reversion. It's clear the purpose was to show Asterion withdrawing and disassociating. What I wanted to conclude was how both this and the master are succumbing to spiraling thoughts and how it manifests further pushes the other away. The master, lacking time, is impatient. Asterion, having nothing but time, turns to contemplation to avoid upsetting the master. This makes the master more impatient and less kind, which causes Asterion to have to think harder on how to please him which results in a longer time between responses. It's an ebb and flow that is pushing things to their inevitable conclusion

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Spoilers: Full spoilers from Ending: As You Are, I Once Was

This is another ending looking at the theme of things being a cycle, but I think it's very important to note that this (in my opinion) is probably just 'recursion' and not some stuff where the Master time-travels back to the beginning of the game and is that exact old man. While a neat idea, things don't line up with the deed reverting to the 'old man' (even further spoilers: Poseidon) on ClĂ©ment's death, and there have been no other signs of time-travel powers or gods of time being invoked at all in the story, even in this route. It's a good way to show that the Master has cursed themselves, even if they did not die from their hubris with the poisoned elixir, but I really think that's a far as we should read into it... of course, let me know if you disagree!

Let me know if you named yourself with a different letter/name and thus got the old man at the end here to use that letter... It's a great touch if true and would've been a bit of extra legwork from the devs for an easter egg, though I really wonder what names get plucked for rarer characters or even symbols lol.

Also, the speedrunner response to meeting another speedrunner is as great as you'd expect: the old man looks down on the young man because they speedrun a stupid game, calling them a "Cringe ass nae nae bitch" (or something really close to that).

Full spoilers from Ending: Dust and Silence alternate of As You Are, I Once Was

Also one of the better ending results, the Master is not dead of the poison, but they are completely irrelevant once the boys are gone, which is its own just reward. This one actually has some spoilers I glossed over during Nemesis' chat flashback with Nikos, he goes into more detail about Jean-Marie being artifacts and information from Joseph the Merciful, whom Nikos clearly reveres as though he is a saint. Then, when talking about the Overseer, Hermes, Nikos makes some really interesting lore claims:

A holy duty, Goddess, Given, no less, by a God of old. Mama and Bampas... and the priest back at the village, too... they all told me He, the one I should not mention ((Hermes)), even knew the Christ. They said He was John the Baptist. That is had always been Him. That's why I did it, Goddess. I was told it was the right thing to do. Blessed.

So uhhhh, in this universe Hermes was a very famous preacher and figure in Catholic mythology. It starts hinting how Nikos and the snakes are so favored by the Olympic gods yet say Catholic prayers and the like. I think we should, maybe in the old theory thread or in a fresh one, inspect the way P looks at and uses the Ave Maria & Holy Mary invocations so much, yet was created by Hera in light of these (because the term is hilarious) crossovers.

Also, I suspect the hard cut after Nikos asks what the Afterlife is like is because Nemesis actually does tell him, but could get in sooooooo much trouble for it that she blocks it from our view or I guess her memory. Nowhere else in the game have we had a cut this hard, so it really sticks out as intentional. I suppose it could be because she's pissed he asks, too, but I dunno, I like to hope she'd give him this reward for his devotion to her VENGEANCE ways.

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Thanks a lot for writing the summary, RockJock. I hope people are willing to give the route a shot after reading this and knowing that very little time is spent indulging in the characters wallowing in misery, and more exploring Argos' character and the game's ongoing subplots and mysteries. I'd like to make a couple observations:

1) In "As You Are, I Once Was", yup, it's not intended to be a perfect parallel with the start of the game, you meet the next master that will take over the role after the MC, but you're not the old man at the start of the game. It's not a time loop.

(I named my Ruthless run character with a J so I don't know if they do this for every letter of the alphabet or not, haha)

I hate to disappoint you but that's not the case. That said, it's a pretty kickass idea and I may have to steal it.

Your theory of a donut shaped universe is intriguing, Homer. I may have to  steal it.” RIP Stephen Hawking.: TheSimpsons

(If you're ok with it, of course. Shouldn't take more than adding a python dict with the key being the first character in the MC's name and the values being a list of two or three names.)

2) I don't think you touched on this but for the people who DON'T want to play the routes, the next master in this ending is given a sprite, but it's basically a featureless gray character wearing jeans and a shirt that wouldn't look out of place in a YCH auction. We went with that because even if he's not the main character... you never know, someone might get the idea that it's the canon look for the MC, so we were as vague as possible.

3) In the "Welcome to Minotaur Hotel" ending,

They are still there, but the hearth has gone out, and Asterion apologizes for the delay. We don't hear words from or see sprites of anyone but Asterion at this point, though, who apologizes for keeping everyone waiting.

Don't know if it's clear in the summary but I'd like to emphasize "you don't hear words from or see sprites of anyone but Asterion" here. Everyone left and Asterion's completely lost it. I heard someone got this as their first ruthless ending, and that sucks because it's probably the bleakest and the closest to what people would expect from "bad ending in a visual novel".

4) On the subject of Nikos' religion,

 I think just that it's a little blink-and-you'll-miss-it that Argos/Nikos and his family are some flavor of Catholic, since they specifically say grace before they eat.

Catholics are not the only denomination that say grace before dinner. It's more likely that Nikos would be Eastern Orthodox rather than Catholic, being born in Crete and all. Although I'll concede that, considering the majority of the team was raised Catholic, the way the scene plays out may not be the most accurate to how a Greek family would say grace before a meal.

And about Hermes being John the Baptist,

Mama and Bampas... and the priest back at the village, too... they all told me He, the one I should not mention ((Hermes)), even knew the Christ. They said He was John the Baptist. That is had always been Him.
So uhhhh, in this universe Hermes was a very famous preacher and figure in Catholic mythology.

We're not the first to make the connection, scholars have compared the symbology between the two figures for a long time. I'm not the theology expert in the team (that would be Kangarube, who IIRC wrote that line), but the basic gist is that both figures act like messengers to the gods and psychopomps, and there are similarities between rites performed to Hermes/Mercury and the blessing of holy water. It's interesting to read into.

5) To the people who didn't play it, there's a credit sequence at the end of the ruthless route endings, with either Asterion playing the lyre, Argos playing the trumpet, both, or neither, depending on your ending.

There's a song you can play in the music menu, "Seikilos Trumpet", by Jake, which starts playing as the endings are about to wrap up. I tried to time it so the vocals start as the credits begin to roll. It's one of the nicest pieces of music we received for the game and I didn't want a recap of the Ruthless route for people who didn't play it to not acknowledge it. We'll be using it for the main quest's ending, too.


And as a general comment, thank you all for taking the time to dissect a piece of content that we knew wasn't going to be a lot of people's cup of tea but still made the game more enjoyable for the small fraction of people that played it. The game wouldn't be complete without it and I'm happy to see it was effort that didn't go to waste.

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Yeah man, no problem. I didn't think I needed to call it out but to be clear, these endings are fully crafted experiences with all the polish you get reading the rest of the VN: the text boxes advancing in certain cadences to mimic speech, the sprites moving and changing expression, the chilling music selection, etc. It's not just torture porn with reused asset soup, there's a tragedy here getting told that probably lands a lot harder than people are used to since I don't think we really seek them out in popular culture anymore, and because you're not just reading it but getting to experience it with art, music, text, and a degree of participation. It's a powerful experience.

1) Yeah, I kind-of wanted to get ahead of someone positing a time loop theory since I felt my summary implied it more than actually going through the route does. Glad I could spark the idea for the name, though, go for it! It was already a cool touch that the young man matches your background and pushes back on accepting the deed if you did as well, so that's why I thought it was intentional, haha. It did add to the experience for sure, so I think it's worth it if you can slap it in without too much hassle.

2) That's a good point! I was running a little on fumes by the time I was writing up the last ending summary and spoilers section, so I didn't think to point it out. If the forums had a better way to hide spoiler images in some sort of expander box, I'd snag a screenshot and put it in the spoiler post. 

3) Oh no, I totally did not pick up on that! I 100% thought there really was Kota and Luke in the lounge because I assumed they would've waited at least a day for the Master and Asterion to return, I just thought it was a stylistic choice to not show their sprites or their words to Asterion because he's already given up and pulled into himself and his own head. Definitely fucked that they didn't, but with no Master and no one with the deed willed to them, it's possible the realm itself threw everyone else out before Asterion made it back... at least, that's what I'm going to tell myself.

4) Oh man, I'm learning all sorts of stuff here! It's easy to assume that the mythical snake people created from these gods would only ever worship them, so I am very interested to learn more from him back on the 'main' route, I just jumped the gun on calling him Catholic, then. Sorry Nikos, lol. 
Also, as you can tell, I definitely never heard about that theoretical link for John the Baptist and Hermes/Mercury, very interesting! I'm still gonna shitpost and call it a crossover, though, even if it's both canon and canon

5) Oh yes, I was totally remiss not mentioning the phenomenal credits song done by Jake, and having the lyrics start sooner in the credits was a great and powerful choice - I heard this song a lot while summarizing the endings, and it still puts a lump in my throat because it's that powerful at evoking emotion and capstoning an ending to Minotaur Hotel, especially since there are the different versions. I know I called out which characters (Asterion and/or Nikos) appear as a drawing on the background of the credits, that's also what instruments you hear during that ending, if anyone couldn't guess.

I think it really says something how many people, myself included, turned around their opinion/desire to see the Ruthless route to completion once the truths in Chapter 18 (and sooner, for Argos) came to light. You all crafted such amazing twists with a fascinating story & character in Argos/Nikos that I re-engaged with content I had even said in the past that I was going to avoid. That content, in turn, is so good that I took a week to put together these summaries so more people could experience them! I think that's the highest praise I can give for this stuff, and the best way I can say thank you all for not just writing, but creating the whole experience. So, you're welcome, but also thank you.

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Great summaries, I actually want to go through again to see what I ended up missing (Which is the non Dust and Silence endings) maybe not anytime soon though, I still feel bad about being mean to Asterion. But with the As You Are, I Once Was ending, while my first thought was a time loop, but then I remembered the recursion stuff that P talks about during the Hinterlands chapter, so who knows, maybe the next master has a few spare paperclips on him.

That's a monkey's paw waiting to happen on the speedrunner route. 


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The game wouldn't be complete without it and I'm happy to see it was effort that didn't go to waste.

To Justice.