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Alas, in restless sleep you lie / With dying breath and dusty cry. / As you lie now, so once did we / Prepare to rise and follow me. (Early Imperial Burial Curse)
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Tetrine Reish is a librarian -all right, librarian’s assistant- who lives in the city-state of Asher. In spite of her leading a seemingly normal life, things start to take an ominous turn when she begins to dream of strange hallways and receives the visit of a mysterious woman asking for a book. A book that doesn’t belong to Tetrine’s library, and is written in Nell marks, the language of demons. Tetrine is one of the few people who can actually read them, but her secret is threatened when two suspicious individuals figure it out. A kidnapping and an attempted murder (or two) ensue, and Tetrine’s life will never quite be the same again.

Asher is a free dark fantasy visual novel first released by Sun Labyrinth in 2014, and newly reissued with brand new art and double the word count on itch.io in 2018. It features 9 different endings and an (almost) entirely black-and-white retro aesthetic, and takes place in a world reminiscent of the 1920s, only populated by mythical creatures. The player can influence Tetrine’s personality to a degree but the main decisions have life or death consequences for her.

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Asher is the first opus in a trilogy of visual novels following the same group of characters, which include Tell a Demon (2017), available on Steam as well as on itch.io, and The Empress of Aeser, which is still in development as of late 2018.

Tell a Demon tells three intertwining stories set in the city-state of Asher. Your choices affect the outcome, with several endings for each character. Take on the role of a human girl in a supernatural city, an immortal demoness with a mission (and possibly a vendetta), and an undead fellow who wouldn't mind having his life back, thank you very much.


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These visual novels provide examples of:

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    Act 1: Asher 
  • Afterlife Antechamber: The Nell. Technically, it’s a river containing the names of the demons who bargained to obtain its power. But it is also the first step to entering the afterlife, symbolised by a floating city that people still bound to the real world cannot touch or approach.
  • Art Evolution: The evolution in art style is incredible when one compares the original Asher to its remake, which was done with the same beautiful Renaissance-inspired realistic style as Tell a Demon. And only four years separate the two!
  • Big Heroic Run: Tetrine has one when she runs away from Julius and Aya (though to which extent it is heroic is arguable).
  • Bittersweet Ending: Some of the endings, albeit the non-canon ones. It’s even highlighted in the names given to them ("Regret", "Best Forgotten").
  • Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress: Not an actual wedding dress, but Tetrine dies in a white nightgown, which is covered in blood around the neck. Used as a promotional picture for the game.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: Any ending in which Tetrine is a demon, more or less enters a relationship with Markaius, and works for Kalevel. Aka the "Markaius" ending.
  • Dracula: Demons, while not exactly vampires, do share some of the main traits associated with them, namely the need to drink blood to sustain themselves and an aversion for moving under daylight, both of which are particularly prevalent in Shadow Demons, who are part of the Immortal Empress’ cursed line.
  • Drowning Pit: Tetrine is left to die in a pond even though the damage was done before.
  • The Empire: The entire country of Aeser is still reeling from the incredibly cruel and ruthless reign of Mara Seita, the Immortal Empress, even more than a hundred years after her death.
  • Empty Eyes: Shadow demons, as opposed to court demons, always have dark eyes, with the white entirely swallowed by the iris.
  • Fictional Country: Aeser. There is even a detailed map of it in Tell a Demon!
  • Fictional Province: Asher itself, which is both a city and a state, as well as several others: Cupra, Auros, Ithus…
  • Gory Discretion Shot: In what is arguably the worst ending, "Haunted", the walls of Tetrine’s Auros house are shown splattered with blood as a result of her killing her tenants after the Hunger takes control. Interestingly enough, there originally was an additional CG showing her curling up in a corner with blood all over her, but it got deleted in the remake.
    • Another example of the remake toning down a bit the graphic violence of the original is Julius’ death, which is now off-screen, with only a blood-splattered background instead of this terrifying image of Kialee piercing his neck with her awfully long fingers/nails.
  • Haunted House: In one of the endings, Tetrine mentions having grown up in a house haunted by the ghost of her grandmother, later on joined by her mother’s. Ghosts are a pretty common occurrence is Aeser, though. There is a short story expanding on this story on the developer’s site: The Ghosts of Reish House.
  • Identity Amnesia: Tetrine is mysteriously missing some memories.
  • Immortal Breaker: The blade with which the Immortal Empress was killed.
  • In-Series Nickname: Trina for Tetrine, Rosie for Rosemary. Kalevel is also more rarely nicknamed as Kalev.
  • Interspecies Romance: Markaius and Tetrine, before her memories were erased.
  • Maybe Ever After: Tetrine and Markaius’ relationship is at the core of the story of Asher, but what it truly consists of is voluntarily written as ambiguous. What we do know for sure is that they were in a happy romantic relationship about two years before the events of Asher started, but in the present, the situation is much more complicated. The canon ending, "Markaius", shows Tetrine giving him a chance and the two sharing an embrace/kiss, but the writing always makes a point in showing that she has yet to truly forgive him for stealing her memories and transforming her into a demon. On the other hand, Markaius admits he has very often told her partial truths, but doesn’t really show any signs of wanting to improve on that front. The ambiguity of their relationship continues on in Tell a Demon, where Tetrine has the option to turn against him and romance Kalevel instead.
    • It should also be noted that Markaius can be downright awful to Tetrine in some of the endings, such as "Betrayal", where he kills her in cold blood. Not exactly ideal for a loving, healthy, long-term relationship.
  • Misery Builds Character: In some of the endings where Tetrine gets angry at Markaius, he can point out that she’s grown into someone who can finally face an uncomfortable truth and choose it over a sugar coated lie.
  • Nice Day, Deadly Night: Shadow Demons technically can go outside during the day but will go to great lengths to avoid it.
  • Press X to Not Die: The earlier version of Asher had this. May be back if the developer codes the remake in Unity or Ren’Py later on.
  • Retro Universe: The aesthetic is strongly inspired by 1920s clothing and technology.
  • Story Branching: The game has this, as it's a multiple choices visual novel.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Aya and Julius, though Tell a Demon makes an excellent job at fleshing them out and showing they’re far from being simply evil.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Subverted. Tetrine was indeed extremely shocked when she saw Markaius kill a shadow demon who was threatening her, but it’s Markaius himself who removed her memories of the event.
  • Unlockable Content: The original version of Asher has an unlockable soundtrack, as well as bonus animated sprites of the characters.

    Act 2: Tell a Demon 
  • '20s Bob Haircut: Tell sports one, as her cousin Senna used to.
  • Bi the Way: The romantic options in Tell a Demon reveal that Tetrine and Tell are bi.
  • Brain Washed: Poor, poor Kialee. Also applies to her Children.
  • The Chessmaster: Markaius, who is directly responsible for the Immortal Empress’s death, and also Kalevel’s and Tetrine’s deaths and subsequent demonification. He’s also the one who put in motion the events leading to Julius and Tell’s meeting, knowing full well that getting near her would awaken Julius’ dormant memories and allow him to break free from the Mind-Chain. Sakraia and Kialee both refer to this habit of his as "playing games", indicating he’s been at it for centuries, if not millennia. He directly admits to wanting to shape the future, but so far we do no not know what he actually hopes to achieve.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Tell and Julius, if the player chooses to pursue this route.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: The ending where Kalevel is sleeping in the catacombs, defeated by Markaius, and Tell and Julius are working together to uncover Asher’s secrets is canon.
  • Disappeared Dad: Julius mentions his father left him to fend for himself when he was only a young man.
  • Earn Your Bad Ending: The game isn’t exactly subtle about Demons’ Bargains not being a very wise choice to make for mortals, and if the player still chooses to have Tell make a bargain with either Julius or Sakraia, it more often than not leads to a variety of bad endings.
  • Everybody Lives: It is possible to achieve endings where all three leads and all non-playable characters are still alive. The canon ending is also this, as both Tell and Julius are safe and sound from their various demonic encounters, and Kalevel, albeit defeated by Markaius, still lives.
  • Farm Boy: Julius.
  • Farmer's Daughter: Tell is literally the daughter of a couple of farmers, and is implied to have followed a lot of strict rules in her life, something against which she can begin to rebel.
  • Fighting from the Inside: Julius, against Kialee and her Mind-Chain, as well as the Hunger.
  • Gay Option: Kalevel’s two romantic options are with other women.
  • He Knows Too Much: The reason why Markaius keeps interfering with Kalevel to the point he actually traps her in a sarcophagus.
  • Heroic BSoD: Julius shows this after Senna’s death, which he just can’t process. The day after her death, he takes a train to Asher without even a change of clothes, leaving his childhood friend, distant family and farm behind without even as much as a goodbye. He then represses his memories of her until he meets Tell as a shadow demon under Markaius’ careful planning.
  • Human Sacrifice: To the Demon Goddess Sakraia, "protector" of Asher.
  • Ill Girl: Tell used to be prone to fainting spells when she was in her teens. Thankfully, her health as an adult seems sturdier.
  • In-Series Nickname: Tell is not actually Tell’s real name. That would be Telleni. Julius is also nicknamed Jules or more ironically Boss, by Aya.
  • I Will Find You: Even hundred of years of separation couldn’t persuade Kalevel to drop her efforts to rescue her sister, Kialee, from the terrible situation Mara Seita put her in. How and whether this will pan out is still a mystery.
  • The Lost Lenore: Senna is this to Julius.
  • Love Epiphany: To which point it’s an epiphany is left a bit ambiguous, but if the player chose this option earlier, Tell’s memories of Julius kissing her on the cheek in the catacombs lead to her having difficulties to leave him at the end of the game, thus inviting her into her house, where she and him share a (real) kiss. An alternate playthrough can lead to Tell referring to this behaviour as something a "silly, lovestruck girl" would do.
  • Magically Binding Contract: Demons’ Bargains are this, except they’re not written down. For it to take effect, both parties have to agree to fulfill their part of the contract upon their names. Tell can make bargains with three different demons: Markaius (mandatory for the canon ending), Julius and Sakraia.
  • Playing God: Markaius was literally known and referred to as the god Markos in Mevayrea, Kalevel’s and Kialee’s homeland. He can actually give a new life through his elixirs, which Tetrine discovers he deliberately manipulates with Nell marks so he can create demons with specific attributes.
  • Plot Threads: Each of the four acts follows Tell, Julius and Kalevel in successive scenes. Their paths can intersect.
  • Rebel Leader: Oona, who appears in Kalevel’s flashback.
  • Repressed Memories: Senna’s death is a memory Julius keeps fighting until it becomes his ticket to freedom.
  • Society of Immortals: It was hinted at in Asher, but Tell a Demon makes it way more obvious by introducing more court demons and giving them backstories through flashbacks and recollections of life under the Immortal Empress’ reign.
  • The Stinger: When the player unlocks all the canon endings for each character, it becomes possible to read an epilogue, from Tell’s perspective. It’s an additional scene featuring a character whose name has been dropped since Asher, Antonine Harus, who is hinted to be a major player among court demons. The sequel to Tell a Demon, The Empress of Aeser, is also directly announced in this epilogue.
  • Story Branch Favoritism: Maybe not favouritism per se, but if the player makes a couple choices that lead to unexpected bad endings on their first try, it can lead to very confusing moments.
  • Story Branching: The game has this, as it's a multiple choices visual novel. Notably more developed than in Asher.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: While Kalevel doesn’t complain too much about her status as an immortal, she does say to Tetrine that it’s an unnatural state of being : "There is something wrong about what we are, dove. I wouldn’t expect roses if I were you". Markaius also tells Kalevel something around the lines of "I know you had envisioned a way happier life for yourself". Considering the misery the Immortal Empress brought to her life, it’s understandable she would have preferred to live as a normal human.

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