You Guys Want To See Something Cool

"Something weird about this child," Kelgrig says to the other microtrolls. "I've seen human little ones before, many times, but this one, there's a weirdness to the way she moves. Look! Look how she moves around the village. Hopping across the stepping stones, back and forth, over and over. Climbing up into every tree she can find. Practicing her jumping and climbing. I've seen her disappear up into those forest tops for hours. She walked directly into my home the other day, smashed one of my vases and stole every sovereign inside it. It's odd. Plum odd, for a ten-year-old."

"She's of odd origins," Igril says. "Found toddling in the forest, crying, no parents to be located, nothing to identify her."

"I don't know," Mulgrid remarks. "Perhaps toddling in the forest is where all human children come from. Perhaps she was a large berry. Perhaps there's a great deep root which becomes a child if left buried for long enough."

"Whichever way we look at it," Kelgrig says, tugging his floppy, hairy ears, "it's clear she can't be here much longer. She's growing at such a pace. Almost twice as tall as any of us. And never one to sit still and ruminate. Not like us microtrolls. Not a good fit for microtroll culture."

"And now look! Lining up those pots on the roof over there? Ah, now here she comes. What strangeness will she request today, I wonder? Tinn, young dear!"

The microtrolls are gathered at a table in the "store", which is a combination of grocery store, bar and inn. Anything microtroll society is able to sell, which frankly isn't too much, is sold here. The lanky young girl strolls up to the counter, nodding pleasantly to the other microtrolls and then addressing Kelgrig directly.

"Practicing your rolling and hopping, were you?"

"There's a lot of this which is unskippable," Tinn says. "I need an Enchanted Microstone, and two hundred and fifty-five Starflowers."

Kelgrig says, "Two hundred and fifty-five? Who could all those flowers be for?"

"I've got money." Tinn throws precisely the correct amount on the counter. Kelgrig completes the transaction. There's a short pause while Tinn fills her pockets with the provided Starflowers. It seems like she's arranging them into a particular configuration in her inventory. Then Tinn picks up the Enchanted Microstone, changes a strange colour and says "UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU—"

"Tinn, dear?" Igril asks, behind her.

A Starflower appears in Tinn's hair. And then a second one, just slightly above and to the side of the first. And then all the rest, forming a floating, nonsensical-looking stack which reaches up to — through — the store's ceiling.

"You just put all two hundred and fifty-five Starflowers in your hair at once?" Igril asks. She looks to one side, and notices with some alarm that Mulgrid has disappeared. "Mulgrid?"

"Unloaded," Tinn says, turning back to a regular colour. Then, on the exact frame that the Royal Guard attacks the microtroll village, she says to Kelgrig, "I'd like to buy one Starflower."

"What? Now?" Kelgrig looks out through the store window, perturbed. The Royal Guard is frozen in its stride.

"Come on, hurry it up! Buying the flower is quicker than watching the raid cutscene."

Kelgrig sells Tinn another flower. Tinn puts the last flower in her hair and pulls out her Enchanted Microstone again.

The universe skips forward. Kelgrig and Tinn are now, suddenly, inexplicably, with no time having passed, hiding in the loft of one of the taller residences. "It's only a matter of time until they find you!" Kelgrig hisses. "Wait! Where are we? Did something just happen?"

"Just give me the sword," Tinn says, expertly moving around Kelgrig in order to bump him towards the chest where she knows the sword is hidden. It's little more than a toothpick, even by a child's standards. The microtrolls needed to defend themselves in years past, but long ago the Vinti Forest grew thick enough both with brambles and enchantment to make it all but impossible for any but the most determined and foolhardy patrols to make it far enough in to bother them.

This Royal Guard detachment, however, looks subtly diff—

"Skip!" Tinn says.

Kelgrig hands her the sword. "I should teach you a move or t—"

"Skip it!" Tinn says.


Tinn dives out of the loft window, through a gap so small that even a microtroll hitbox would have trouble. "Watch this," Tinn calls, as she drops on the skull of one of the Royal Guard, dispatching him instantly.

What follows is a meticulously choreographed blizzard of action. Tinn, hundreds of Starflowers still flailing around in a bizarre yellow stack above her head, knows where every attack is about seemingly minutes ahead of time. She vaults up onto a balcony, shoves a box with one foot and then jumps to the next building's roof, just as the box lands on the final guard's head, dealing enough damage to kill him.

The village falls silent, apart from the rushing water. A mysterious black charm spins in the middle of the wrecked group of soldiers, giving off a virulent purple gas.

Kelgrig pokes his head out through his small loft window. "Tinn, dear! Have you been training?"

"Just killing time," Tinn says.

"What's going on with your Starflowers?"

"Oh, this stays this way until the end of the game."

"But why?"

"Having this many Starflowers loaded means a bunch of other incidental stuff doesn't load and get in the way. You notice how there are no buckets, sticks, clumps of grass around anymore? All the villagers except you are gone? Also, none of the guards were able to fire arrows at me. Nothing spawned. But while doing that, I had to make sure I was always looking in your direction so you didn't unload."

"But why exactly two hundred and fifty-five of them?"

Tinn takes out her Enchanted Microstone again. "Because that's the largest unsigned integer you can express in eight binary digits. Weren't you in the middle of selling me a two hundred and fifty-sixth, though?"

Kelgrig discovers that the transaction is indeed half-complete. "Oh yes. Here you go."

Tinn holds a few buttons on the Microstone just as the transaction completes, then backflips once, onto air, and then through a crack in the collision and into the colourless monochrome vacuum between walls. Unseen by the perplexed Kelgrig, she swims forward, under the ground, and touches the spinning black charm from below.

"So, what happens now," she explains, "is the game thinks I have no Starflowers. So it stops rendering any Starflowers over my head, which leaves a long chunk of heap memory freed up but still with all the binary data expressing the position and angles of all the Starflowers. The positions are all different from each other, but we don't care about that because the location in memory we're going to use is always offset by a multiple of 8 which means we always get the angle instead. The important part is that the angles are all exactly the same. This is the maximum amount of memory we can rig up in this way using this glitch. Which means I don't need tool assistance to land at the right place in the heap, I just need to approximately get it right."

"Get what right, Tinn? I don't suggest that you touch that dark crystal. It seems to me as if you're about to head out on a grand adventure, at last. Those soldiers came here for a reason, and they used some powerful magic to get—"

"Kelgrig, you're the last loaded actor."

"So it would seem?"

"Then watch this." Tinn releases the last button on the Microstone, which has a screen on it somehow.

Kelgrig instantly turns into the final boss. Who roars and belches lava for a frame, then, because its body is caught inside the extremely narrow confines of Kelgrig's loft, sustains an unbelievable amount of crushing damage, once per frame, for ten frames, and then dies.

"Alright," Tinn says, as the closing credits roll, and she is warmly reunited with a supporting cast of characters which she has never, in truth, met. "Microstone glitch was sloppy. I think I can do one ten."

Next: Crows Crows Crows

Discussion (12)

2020-11-23 23:13:40 by qntm:

1,508 words. Running total is 46,539 words. I thought it would be amusing to examine the impact of classic speed running shenanigans on the starting village populace, but guess what, it kind of wasn't. Some kind of grand twist or imaginative new variety of glitch might have made this more entertaining but I am way out of imagination today.

2020-11-23 23:28:44 by skztr:

I think I would have appreciated it more if it were kept more-thoroughly "in universe". I don't know if the explanations and mentions of "glitches" by name even count as fourth wall breaking in this context, but it really just felt like an inconsistent point-of-view.

2020-11-23 23:31:22 by ontploffing:

The glitch that would make this into an isekai is "This Royal Guard detachment, however, looks subtly diff—", when could turn out that some of the speedrunning strats exercised by Tinn are only valid in the game, but this is not the game: it's real life, and the guards have realized the armory is out of arrows, so they began to use pikes instead.

2020-11-23 23:32:24 by Z:

I thought it was entertaining enough, at least for so short a story. But it would probably take some reworking to get more out of it, yeah. POV stuff is a little strange if you think about it enough, but the premise is so meta to begin with that I can just roll with it. Editing notes: In the last paragraph, "role" → "roll" and "a supporting characters" → "a cast of supporting characters" or something.

2020-11-24 00:51:27 by Spwack:

There's a place in my heart for speed-run literature, no matter what, and this is certainly one for the aorta

2020-11-24 10:41:00 by IntrepidVector:

This sort of thing is ALWAYS going through my head when I'm watching speedruns, the idea of how villagers would react to a character blitzing through their world in a perfectly practiced Groundhog Day routine, so I truly appreciate someone putting it down in prose.

2020-11-24 10:58:41 by rhuz:

Something About Microtrolls

2020-11-24 13:59:24 by YoYoost:


2020-11-24 17:19:45 by John F:

This very strongly reminded me of this classic speedrun comedy animation: I've never played Breath of the Wild, but I imagine it has to be even funnier if you have.

2020-11-24 19:36:16 by Mitsu AT:

Groundhog Day loops + speedrunning seems like a interesting combination :D Personally, I feel like one major challenge in writing time loop scenarios is making the side characters sufficiently compelling. Because after the protagonist loops enough, there's a real danger that the protagonist will start subconsciously dehumanizing the side characters because their memories and personalities keep resetting with every loop. And that's no fun :/ One thing I really love about speedrunning is the community. Sharing research! Friendly competition! Pushing each other to the limits of what is possible!

2020-11-25 23:20:47 by Prezombie:

You should check out the webnovel "prophesy approved companion" if you like stories about glitches like this. It starts out with the hero exploiting the skybox to keep the childhood companion from being killed after the tutorial, and things get hilariously bugged out even more as they continue.

2020-12-09 03:23:34 by David:

I feel like there's an existential-horror angle here that wasn't explored. Not sure if it was intentionally skipped. Kind of an Undertale vibe, right?

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