I'm reading Fallen London, which is essentially a choose your own adventure story that you can read online. I've gotten to the story about the Comtessa, and I'm at a bit of a dilemma:

Description of the Comtessa, with choice of action

The text is a bit contradictory about the relationship between the two characters: on one the Comtessa's eyes are "frightened", but on the other hand their relationship is apparently "true love".

What is the nature of the relationship between the Comtessa and the clay manservant?

  • 1
    Is there more context that can be gained from working through the entire story, or is all the relevant info in this image? Because I can see a couple of possible interpretations from the text you've shown, but I won't post an answer if it's going to be easily disproved by surrounding context.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 21, 2018 at 21:32
  • @Randal'Thor I always recommend reading the entire work, and I would recommend doing so here as well. There is quite a bit of additional information about the relationship, but whether that information clarifies things or makes things more ambiguous is... a matter for a good answer to discuss.
    – user111
    Jan 21, 2018 at 21:36

2 Answers 2


Perhaps deciding how to interpret their relationship is part of the choice you're making at this stage of the game.

As is common in literature, there appears to be more than one possible answer to your question, deriving from different but equally valid interpretations of the story. Because this is interactive fiction, your choice of interpretation may actually influence how the story develops.

  • The first choice is if you decide to put more emphasis on the fact that her eyes are "frightened", and take this as proof that she isn't truly happy with the state she's in. In this case, the manservant's claim that she loved him could be either a lie or a delusion. She's frightened of what he's doing to her, out of his misguided attempt to create a happy life for the two of them, and it's your duty to rescue her or at least put her out of her misery.

  • The second choice is if you decide to believe the manservant's tale of true love. In this case, the fear in her eyes could be fear of you and what you might do to her in your misguided attempts to help, or she might be afraid of the petrification even though she desires it. It's possible to be frightened even of a process which is necessary for you to have a happy life (dentist visits, anyone?) Her fear doesn't necessarily contradict the purported "true love".

It's up to you to decide whether their relationship is truly a loving one as the manservant claims, or something more sinister that needs to be ended. And that choice of interpretation is part of the game.


Shortly after this storylet was first released, there was a blogpost by the game's chief writer/designer, Alexis Kennedy, which sheds some light on the thinking behind the storylet. Kennedy says:

we define the resolution to the Comtessa’s story as a reflective choice. That is to say, it’s a choice you make based entirely on how you view your character, and what you think your character’s priorities are. To make the decision, you first have to decide what kind of decision you want to see it as.... This storylet invites the player to play God for a moment. And that’s why I think the two choices work: because either one of them could be humane or cruel or lazy or greedy or spiteful or generous or whatever you feel, and what the player does is decide their motivation and then pick the option they think fits it. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and there is no ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ either.... there’s a pseudo-tragic thing going on here in that both choices, kill her or leave her, are nasty, both feel extreme and both feel like sacrifice.... The game won’t tell you your motivation – but you need to have one.

Essentially, the Comtessa's situation is designed to be ambiguous, and the purpose of the storylet is to force you to make a decision based on inadequate evidence, purely as a reflection of how you see your character. You don't get to know for sure which choice is "right"; there is no "right" or "wrong" or "best" choice here. You don't get any clear signals beforehand, and you don't get any strong indications afterwards: whichever choice you make, you're going to have reasons to think it was the right choice and reasons to think it was wrong. You have to make whichever choice you think you can live with, and if it haunts you afterwards, well... there's always laudanum.

What is the nature of the relationship between the Comtessa and the Clay Man? You will never know for sure. But you have to choose, even without knowing.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.