Major spoilers for Loopkeeper #1: Elysium Falls on this page. Proceed at your own risk.
Hi, I’m Sham Tilner, and I’ve been reliving the same nine days over and over.
My story began in a bar, armed with whiskey and a broken heart. There, I made a decision I thought I’d never make: to join the newly formed Citizen’s Police, and try to get my hands on one of these mysterious new Legendary grade skill vials. As luck would have it, I was given Recollection, a skill that—let’s be honest—does what it says on the vial.
Armed with my legendary new skill, I was hurried off—without any training whatsoever—to Government Plaza, a square in the centre of town loomed over by Haven’s house of parliament, known simply as the Tower. My new partner, Mona, and I were given one job: keep on the lookout for a woman matching a very specific description. What she’d done, I hadn’t been told.
So it was a surprise, as you can imagine, when she exploded.
What’s more, when the explosion took me, I woke up amidst the hangover of nine days earlier—still armed with this legendary Recollection skill. That couldn’t be right, could it? Either I’d fever dreamed the whole nine days… or they’d actually happened.
I set about investigating the only way I could: by tracking down a name that the exploding woman had given me: Kryl. When I eventually located his apartment, it wasn’t him I found inside, but his sister—a rather stern and serious woman called Riot. She’ll be mentioned again later, don’t you worry.
Some notes in Kryl’s apartment led me to a street in the poor Harbour District that the locals knew to avoid—End Street. Here, sinister elements conducted their trade—everything from theft (though I’m not exactly innocent there…) to smuggling. There, I discovered that a gang led by a man called Asa Cuttle were responsible for giving the exploding woman a whole bunch of these powerful new vials—and that it was her consuming too much of them that caused her to explode, ripping Haven apart in the process.
I did my very best to stop this woman exploding again, but ultimately… I failed. Just like I do at most things in my life, to be honest. But again, I woke up back at the start, in the grips of a hangover which—very literally—seemed to never go away.
As the so-called “Loops” progressed, I began to pick away at its fabric. I found others who remembered the Loop, who had formed the Church of the Loopkeepers, led by a shy woman called Ariel Marsh. And I met Riot again, who proceeded to keep me hostage. Long story, and it doesn’t matter too much—she’s just like that.
When I finally talked my way out of this… situation, Riot and I found that we were being hunted by Legion—the six-man team that serves as the Prime Minister’s personal police force. We fled to an old, equally dodgy, friend of mine, called Tripe Owens, and ultimately were killed.
At least Riot and Tripe wouldn’t remember this death, though. That’s when I had the smart idea to make a deal with Asa Cuttle—I’d do some of his dirty work, in exchange for a vial or two of the good stuff. As promised, he delivered—and they say there’s no honour amongst thieves!—and I took two vials: one Recollection, to give to Riot, and one Vigour, to help overcome the illness I’ve been battling.
Wait, did I not mention that yet?
Yeah, I’m sick. Don’t know what it is, don’t know why it is, only that I couldn’t get out of my damned bed for months on end. That’s why She left me, I should say, too. That’s what caused all this heartbreak. Not that I could blame her—who’d bear to watch the person they love be as sick as I was?
Vigour got me moving. It worked, almost, as an antidote to my problems. But with these legendary skills, other problems arose. Namely… they started bloody speaking to me! I know what you’re thinking. “Oh, Sham, you might be going crazy.” To that, I say that both things can be true.
Through Riot—who now remembered the Loops along with me—I tracked down her Kryl, who, as it turned out, also remembered the Loops. That’s why the exploding woman knew his name; he’d been trying to stop her. But Kryl, I soon realised, was involved with shady elements. It wasn’t criminals he was involved with (I could handle that), but the agents of the monarchy, ousted from the city of Haven a couple of generations earlier.
Not that the current—supposedly democratic—system of government was much better, of course. For years, the rich had been getting richer, and the poor had been… well, they’d been getting dead-er.
Riot and I grew closer as the investigation processed, and soon I found myself missing Her less and less with each passing Loop. Instead of Her, there was Riot, and I was kidding myself if I wasn’t falling in— No, let’s not put that down on paper; we’re not at that stage yet.
But investigating the Loop got harder with time. We began to feel trapped by it, like living the same few days over and over was akin to death, in a way. Not quite in the same way as it was for the bodies popping up in the poor districts these days, but a death of sorts nonetheless.
I began to build up my legendary grade skill arsenal, consuming them slowly, on Asa’s advice. I added Joy first, then Perspicacity, and soon I realised I’d bit off more than I could chew. My head was made for one voice, and now, I had five.
Slowly, I found myself losing my grip on reality. I wouldn’t survive these skills, I realised. I needed to break this Loop before they broke me.
And that’s when I met with Julya.
That’s what her name was, the exploding woman. Julya. Just a normal woman, like you or I. Just trying to make her way in life, when her last remaining relative was taken from her by the agents of Prime Minister Enoch Chambers. That’s what she was after, with these vials—revenge—and she didn’t mind how many Loops played out before she could take the life of Enoch Chambers.
Now that I knew what she was after, I could put a plan together. I summoned my new allies—Riot, Kryl and Asa—and I told them what we’d need to do to kill Julya before she could start the Loop anew. As always with these things, it didn’t quite go according to plan, but we got the job done. Julya was killed before she could take too many vials and explode, and we reached the top of the Tower, where we faced down the Legion, and Enoch Chambers himself.
And I discovered something I wasn’t expecting: Her.
The woman I had loved had taken residence in the Prime Minister’s private chambers (which is a very roundabout way of saying they were doing things together that I don’t want to imagine) and Enoch forced Her to tell the truth.
She was the one who’d made the vials.
And she’d done it to try to fix me. To cure me. To save the man she loved.
I was indirectly responsible for the genesis of the Loop.
With Her—with Hester—saying she was sorry, part of me fell back in love with her all over again. Which Enoch Chambers was counting on, I think. He told me he was interested in preserving the Loop to keep at bay an advancing army—that of Queen Elmira, the descendant of the ousted monarchs—and that he’d do anything to keep it going.
So he shot Hester.
I had two choices, then. I could live with Hester’s death, or I could start the Loop anew myself. In front of a tearful Riot, I chose the latter, consuming vial after vial after vial, until eventually… I exploded.
I woke up back at the start of the Loop, all skill but Recollection lost to the damage I’d done myself, but at least Hester would still be alive.
Do not mistake this for an act of defeat, however.
No. Armed with this information, I tracked down Riot, and together we recruited those with a variety of skills and contacts. We recruited a team of six—me, Riot, Asa, Ariel, Tripe and Mona—and together we began towards a single purpose: toppling Enoch Chambers’s government, and taking power for ourselves.
But there’s one more thing, before you go. Something that’s plagued lives the world over, both in Haven and in the other city states, both poor lives and rich. There’s also… the Fringe.
It’s very hard to define what the Fringe is.
It’s nothing, essentially. Not darkness, but nothing. A void. Anything that enters it is wiped from reality, not just from this point onwards, but retrospectively, too. If an object entered the Fringe, it would be like it never existed, short of records kept elsewhere.
And this Fringe… it was growing.
These are just the key points, of course. There’s a whole lot more… what’s the word? Nuance? Yeah, nuance. There’s a whole lot more of that in my story, but if I covered everything, then this summary would be pointless, wouldn’t it? Might as well write Elysium Falls all over again.