22 Jul 2023

Aria: Does your ability protect against mind-peeking?

Your ability doesn't play a part in preventing that!

Though illusions are based on people's memories, the ability to plainly see what those memories contain for oneself is separate from the ability to make illusions. As a human, you can only have one or the other, but spirits are different.

They go a step further by reading the contents of the mind to some degree.

  • Reed: Hey, something up? You suddenly went all quiet.
  • Aria: Oh, I was just thinking...
  • Aria: Maybe we can use this situation to our advantage?
  • Aria: If we can confirm that Nino and Mei are being targeted as well, then...
  • Aria: Maybe we could know where they are through the spirits.
  • Reed: Huh... you really think so?
  • Aria: I'm just thinking out loud!
  • Aria: I could be wrong, but... I'm willing to gamble on this chance.
  • Aria: If we run into another spirit, and let it talk instead of killing it right away... maybe we'll learn something new.
  • Reed: I'm gonna be honest with you.
  • Reed: That sounds too uncomfortably dangerous.
  • Aria: But having another lead on the others' location would help a lot, Reed!
  • Aria: Besides, we've been good at dealing with these spirits so far!
  • Reed: We already have your Nino-radar. There's no need to risk ourselves.
  • Aria: Relying on my disguise alone isn't enough...
  • Aria: It won't be handy until my distance from Nino is reduced first.
  • Aria: For that, ideally we'll first ensure that we're moving in the right direction.
  • Reed: ...Well... we could try to follow the recent spirit's trail for starters,
  • Reed: And see if you sense anything nearby?
  • Aria: Oh! That sounds like a plan!
  • Reed: Still, it's a dangerous plan, because more of them could show up.
  • Aria: Then that just means we'll have to be as careful as possible.
  • Aria: I think we can take the chance, really.
  • Aria: They won't be able to fool us, thanks to my disguise and Ludwig!
  • Reed: That's true. But...

Aria: Out of curiosity, do you happen to have any idea how easily they can see into one's mind and memories?

  • Reed: How do you expect to learn anything useful from a spirit?
  • Reed: And don't say we should just ask one to give us answers.
  • Reed: They can read our minds, so not even manipulation would work.
  • Aria: Uhm, not quite... it depends on how far they can look into our mind.
  • Aria: Spirits don't really read thoughts that rapidly, do they?
  • Aria: At least, that's what I concluded from all my encounters.
  • Aria: They see memories, and they can tell which of them are the most effective to use in an illusion... but they can't read thoughts as they happen on the fly.
  • Reed: ...How do readable memories and unreadable thoughts differ here?
  • Reed: Some memories are just thoughts we've had in the past.
  • Aria: Um... sorry, what? That sounded really philosophical. :S
  • Reed: Sorry, not my intention. Let me elaborate.
  • Reed: Earlier, when I first met the spirit that looked like you,
  • Reed: I noticed something was off, but I humored it for a bit.
  • Reed: During that timeframe...
  • Reed: It continued to play the part, unable to tell that its cover was blown.
  • Reed: Doesn't that mean my thoughts at the moment were unreadable to it,
  • Reed: But my previous memories of you were?
  • Aria: Oh, I see what you're saying...

Aria: For how long can you hide your present thoughts, and fool a spirit into thinking you're totally buying its tricks?

  • Reed: ...The present becomes a memory only when it's in the past.
  • Reed: So that's why, present thoughts can't be read right away,
  • Reed: But an old memory can easily be used by spirits?
  • Aria: Yeah, that could be it!
  • Reed: Uh, no, that wasn't supposed to be anything...
  • Reed: I'm thinking out loud, Aria. I don't know anything for sure.
  • Aria: Then it's a good theory you've got there!
  • Aria: And I certainly think we should test it if another spirit comes our way.
  • Aria: Like you said... there's no end to them.
  • Reed: Well... how far could we push the bounds here?
  • Reed: There is a point in time when the freshest thought you had will become readable, so you couldn't keep any spirit fooled for too long.
  • Aria: I think, if we consider how our encounters have gone...
  • Aria: It does take a decent amount of time for a new thought to become a readable memory. Nothing should stop us from testing how reliable that little window is!


  • Reed: You know, there's something I was thinking.
  • Reed: Spirits can do a damn good job of imitating a person's looks,
  • Reed: But they can be horrible at meeting the expectations of, uh...
  • Reed: How a normal person behaves in a given situation.
  • Aria: How so?
  • Reed: The spirit imitating you tried a stupid emotional approach right away,
  • Reed: Even though I wouldn't have expected the real you to do that.
  • Aria: Oh? What did the spirit try to do as "me"?
  • Reed: ...Er. It tried to treat my wounds.
  • Reed: Which, I know, the real you did insist on anyway.
  • Reed: But it would've been awfully self-centered for you to make my injury all about the distress it causes you... which is precisely what the spirit did.
  • Aria: That's why you knew it wasn't me?
  • Reed: Yeah. I mean, you're too selfless to ever be like...
  • Reed: ...
  • Aria: Yes? Go on, go on!
  • Reed: Never mind. I think you get the idea.
  • Aria: No no, please do go on!
  • Reed: Dammit. You already got it, didn't you.
  • Aria: Aww, but I want to hear more nice things. :)
  • Reed: I could've stopped talking way sooner, couldn't I...


  • Aria: Well, this "wrong" behavior actually sort of makes sense to me.
  • Aria: Spirits don't always act like our expectations of someone...
  • Aria: Instead, they act in ways that could give us the biggest surprise, shock, or appeal, without much consideration for what's logical.
  • Aria: Really, I've only been fully fooled by spirits when I was in a bad mental state... making me very susceptible to emotional shock.
  • Reed: I'm thinking it's a step behind.
  • Reed: It's not that they know what makes sense, and willingly choose to ignore it.
  • Reed: In fact, "logical" might be the wrong word to use,
  • Reed: Because it can be normal for people to get emotional and act unexpectedly.
  • Reed: But even then, no matter what, there's a sense of personhood to it.
  • Aria: Hm... that's kind of vague, but I think I get what you mean.
  • Reed: I don't know how to describe it too well, but I feel that...
  • Reed: A spirit really lacks that part.
  • Aria: Well, no spirit has the full story of the person its using as disguise, because we don't have that in our minds in the first place!
  • Reed: ...Yeah, can't say I fully understand someone like Nino for example.
  • Aria: If their images are constructed from our lacking memories,
  • Aria: Then they can't ever fully embody someone else, can they?
  • Reed: Mm... that's why their words and actions seem engineered to fit the most likely way they can trick us with, instead. Even if, in hindsight...
  • Reed: It appears to be something completely stupid for the real person to do.
  • Aria: Yes! I think that suggests something else too...
  • Aria: Spirits can't perfectly act out the behavior of a person...
  • Aria: And they prefer not to, anyway.
  • Aria: Rather, their imitated behavior is just means to an end.
  • Aria: Normally, the goal would be to kill their target...
  • Aria: And the unusually different angle of the ones we've encountered definitely means that there's more to their goal than just that.
  • Reed: ...Wow.

Reed: Don't let anything hit Aria, we need that illusion intact.

  • Aria: Hehe, how do you like my theory?
  • Reed: It sounds really real.
  • Reed: Which isn't a good thing, might I add.
  • Reed: Don't assume anything to be set in stone unless you're absolutely sure.
  • Reed: Because... that's how we got lost in the rift.
  • Aria: Oh... yes, of course!
  • Aria: How about we put this to the test as soon as we can, first?
  • Reed: You sound real emboldened to fight some spirits now...
  • Aria: Well, these guys aren't that tough when we're together!
  • Aria: In fact, I think they're cowards.
  • Reed: Oh, god. Don't get ahead of yourself, please.
  • Aria: There won't be a better time to test this out than now!
  • Aria: Come on! Let's give the next spirit to come after us the potential honor of either proving these theories true, Reed!
  • Reed: Aria.
  • Reed: You realize that if your disguise fails, we may lose our main lead, right?
  • Aria: I know, I'll be careful! You don't need to remind me.
  • Reed: ...No. Don't ever act like a brave idiot.
  • Reed: I'll only go with this plan as long as you let me take the front,
  • Reed: And stay in the back with Five.
  • Aria: Oh. But then, you might be...
  • Reed: No buts. We need to be sure that nothing lays a finger on you.
  • Reed: Don't complain about it if I happen to get hurt in your stead,
  • Reed: That'll literally be my job here. Are we clear?
  • Aria: O-okay, okay... I get it.


  • Reed: ...The path continues into a forest, huh?
  • Reed: I have a bad feeling about this.
  • Reed: Whether we're being targeted or not, forests are full of spirits.
  • Aria: But this is in the way they tried to misdirect us from,
  • Aria: So it's probably best to keep going here!
  • Reed: If we're going to keep moving along the barrier in this direction, then yes.
  • Reed: But we could try taking a detour around this forest.
  • Aria: Well... which option is shorter?
  • Aria: Um, assuming you have enough information in your map to be able to tell!
  • Reed: We'd have to backtrack a little for a detour, so it'd take longer.
  • Reed: But it's likely way more dangerous for us to continue here.
  • Aria: Ah, well... it's not that I feel good putting us in danger, but...
  • Aria: Reed, I want to find everyone as soon as possible.
  • Aria: Even if it means taking some risks here.
  • Reed: ...Look, let me go first and check the area.
  • Reed: If it seems quiet enough, we'll take it.
  • Reed: And if there's only a few annoyances, then I'll clear them out first.
  • Aria: Huh? A-are you sure about going in alone?
  • Reed: Like I said, I can't exactly let you take the front, can I?
  • Reed: It's fine, anyway. It won't take me long to quickly scout things out.

Aria: If you're thinking of a way to trick the spirits, then you might need to lie a little to Reed in order to execute this plan.

...Indeed, because spirits can read memories to some degree.

If it's you who approaches them, then you wouldn't get away with pretending to follow along. But, if it's Reed who does this without realizing, then it might just work.

Why, he even suggested leading the way on his own. How convenient is that?

Yes, even though spirits are weak to numbers, this is the one time where it would benefit you more to split up, and let Reed act out a plan he isn't privy to through subtle instructions. For a bit, your mind wanders in this direction. But...

Aria: Problem is, you might be the only one who knows this specific plan, but it is entirely possible Reed or even Five have come to similar conclusions on their own. However, you cannot ask Reed about this because then you'd guarantee he knows.

Ah, yes yes, what a silly dilemma you've found yourself in!
Whether you know what Reed's thinking, and whether you should execute a plan by lying to manipulate his actions... there's no need to worry about any of that.

The key to moving forward shouldn't involve deceit.

This is something you are convinced of, and will not budge on. Even in an act of omission, there must be belief. You mustn't betray a friend's trust, so you will do this by believing in Reed, rather than lying to him.

And you do believe he wants to find everyone else as much as you do!

  • Aria: ...Normally, I would object to splitting up against spirits.
  • Aria: But actually, right now, this might be okay to try.
  • Aria: As long as you'll be careful, then...
  • Aria: I want to ask you to do something in my stead there.
  • Aria: It's a little dangerous, but I think it could lead us to Nino and Mei.
  • Reed: ...What is it?
  • Aria: If you meet any disguised spirits, don't attack them right away.
  • Aria: Try talking to them first, like I suggested before.
  • Reed: Ugh, so you're still thinking about that?
  • Reed: Aria, there's no way I can trick a spirit for long enough to matter. Also...
  • Reed: The fact that we've just discussed it reduces my chances even more, you know.
  • Aria: Yes, you shouldn't trick them! It's fine if they know what you're thinking!
  • Aria: As long as what you think isn't to attack, that is.
  • Aria: So try conversing with them for as long as they're not hostile,
  • Aria: But definitely do defend yourself the moment things seem dangerous, okay?
  • Reed: Huh...
  • Aria: You must keep your weapon ready, just in case.
  • Aria: Oh, and you should take Ludwig with you to sniff out the disguises, too!
  • Aria: But for this to work at all...
  • Aria: You must really intend to hear the spirits out before anything else, alright?

Aria: In order to learn something useful, you might... have to take some risks, that's all.

  • Reed: I don't know about this...
  • Aria: Come on, aren't you at least interested in knowing what they want out of us?
  • Reed: ...I mean, sure, I can try it. But why are you pushing for this so hard?
  • Reed: I don't understand what benefit you expect here.
  • Aria: ...I have a plan in mind, Reed.
  • Aria: I can't tell you the details of it, or why I figured that this is what you should do right now... but I will later, I promise!
  • Aria: Um... I say this because I trust you, and I don't want to lie.
  • Aria: So I hope you can trust me too, and honestly try out my suggestion.
  • Reed: ...I guess? But I'm not convinced it'll be worthwhile.
  • Aria: Ah, then what can I even say to convince you to try this out...
  • Aria: Even if you don't like it, can you do it for me, please?
  • Reed: ...
  • Aria: No, never mind, that was stupid... oh, how about this instead?
  • Aria: I will most assuredly bake you a delicious cake when we reach the capital!
  • Five: Cake!?
  • Five: Five wants cake too...!
  • Aria: Of course, you will get your share!
  • Aria: Nino and Mei will partake as well, because we will find them!
  • Aria: And I will even account for Headquarters as a reward!
  • Aria: Hehe, how's that for persuasion?
  • Reed: ...You didn't need to promise any of that.
  • Reed: I was about to say yes before you said anything.
  • Reed: As long as you and Five will wait here where it's safer.
  • Aria: Oh! Ahaha, I suppose I'm not trying to persuade a kid here...
  • Reed: But now that you've proclaimed all of that for Five to hear,
  • Reed: You'd better keep your promise.
  • Aria: Hehe... of course, of course!
  • Five: Reed, be very very careful!
  • Five: And... yell very very hard for help if baddies are there!
  • Aria: Yes! Even if you're thinking I should be away from danger,
  • Aria: I'm still going to be here for backup if you end up needing it.
  • Five: Come on, Reed! Promise Five and Aria, to be careful!
  • Reed: ...Uh... yeah, fine. You got it.
You knew Reed would protest, but wow... he's really worried.

Ah, but it's okay, it'll be alright!

Since Reed agreed to approach any spirits earnestly, his thoughts becoming readable shouldn't put him in immediate danger, and you hanging in the back prevents your own mind from being read.

This is a crucial step, since you will have a part to play later.

Yes, although it is necessary to keep the full extent of what you're thinking to yourself for now, Reed will find out about it soon enough.

Mei: Question this "Nino".
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11 months ago

Reed: It's probably best for the others to stay put until you get back in case you need to get to them quickly.

Reed: Once they're out of your sight, any Aria or Five you encounter should be treated as a spirit until you can confirm their identities.

Aria: Is there anything you need to do to prepare for your part?

11 months ago
Reply to  Lunk

Also, while it's unlikely, this update makes it seem as if this Aria is a spirit. The only reason Reed trusts her is because of Ludwig and Boyfriend and her ability to alter his disguise, but Ludwig and Boyfriend could also be spirits, and any spirit could control the disguise, as we have seen that hey could create smaller scale illusions, such as when Five was tricked by the arrow that was actually a branch.

It also stuck out to me that at the end Aria's narration described her plan as a "part," with theater metaphors being used by spirits in the previous pages, ("The curtain falls apart," "The actor maintains the costume," "Once more, and actor is on stage," etc.) and now Aria is trying to stop Reed from killing the spirits, as well.

11 months ago
Reply to  Lunk

That sounds way too twisted and silly, it would also be like the third time a twist like this would be done so from a narrative perspective it's a bit boring.

11 months ago
Reply to  Richard

That's one of the reasons I find it unlikely.

11 months ago

Aria: The thought occurs, you kind of still lied by omission a little; Have a mini breakdown