Delicious in Dungeon: Hag/Nightmare
May 10, 2024 1:31 AM - Season 1, Episode 19 - Subscribe

Confronted by the chimeric tallman catgirl, Senshi winds up conducting a rather unique lesson on etiquette, while Marcille winds up dealing with nightmares of the monstrous sort - forcing Laios to take a dangerous journey into her psyche...

Well, we get a human cat of a more literal sort in this series, and she's outright feral - but at the same time, her background is a tragic sort, so it's hard for Team Touden to not have some sympathy.

And so we start off where we left off, with the kitty kunoichi threatening Marcille (an empty threat as we learn later, as she's far too valuable to the girl to kill.) Ordering the rest of the party to disarm, Chilchuck notes she was one of Shuro's followers as she then orders Marcille to remove the black magic from her - getting a stuttering response from the mage as she points out that "black magic" is actually a pretty wide ranging term, and se needs to know what she's dealing with in order to handle it. The first issue is easy - a magic "collar" placed on her by Maizuru, but the second is less so, as she reveals her chimeric nature, being part cat, complete with claws, fangs, ears, and a fluffy tail. As Laios looks at her, Chilchuck notes that he's heard of such "artificial beastmen" before - created through the use of black magic to fuse a human and beast soul together, a concept that has them thinking of Falin. With that, Marcille says she'll try to do what she can, and examines the collar - written in kanji, it's alien to the elf, but she can understand the underlying magical principles. Asking what the spell type is, Izutsumi annoyingly notes that it's a curse that will activate if the caster doesn't periodically refresh the coutdown - and then maliciously grins as she notes that she doesn't know what the result will be, so Marcille might want to get it removed sooner than later.

The catgirl's well tuned nose sniffs that they have food, and demands that they feed her, finding a field ration that she devours messily - like a feral cat. Watching her (lack of) table manners, Senshi offers to prepare her some proper food - and with her coughing up the field ration she basically inhaled, she acquiesces to the offer, though she makes it clear she'll take any use of monster parts...violently. With that, Senshi assesses the food he has, finding some mushrooms (which he just pretends to not notice have feet), and uses that to make mushroom risotto with cheese, regretting that he can't make anything more complex - but he can't let the feline teen go hungry either. And with it presented, Izutsumi at first shows disdain for the dish...but getting a whiff of the delicious aroma soon has her tucking in eagerly - and having the rest noting shat she has no table manners whatsoever - Chilchuck resigned in particular given he has experience raising girls. However, Izutsumi's discarding of mushrooms as well as her inability to hold a spoon right presses Senshi's buttons, and with that the dwarf confronts the tallman teen, his expression dark as he begins to teach her how to eat properly - which causes Marcille's attempt to dispel the curse to invoke it instead - summoning a yamanba construct who promptly attacks the catgirl, only to be saved by Senshi. What results is a moment of awesome for Senshi, as he fights off the construct while lecturing on proper table manners - even using the way the monster wields a sujihiki knife as a demonstration - pointing out that for all its intimidating appearance, it's frgile, and wielded inappropriately will easily break - like being thrust against an adamantine pot, for example. With that, Laios lights the bottom of the construct on fire, and uses that to light the top ablaze as well as Senshi pins the top to the wall. With the construct now ash, Senshi apologizes for startling her, putting the spoon properly in her hand as he notes that she should keep in mind that there's a proper way to use tools. Marcille also notes that you can't move while having something dispelled, as had it been something worse, who knows what could have happened.

With her risotto heated back up, Laios asks why she's following the party, to which she explains that after seeing Falin, she realized that Marcille had some knowledge of chimeric modification, and so she was hoping that she could help her with her condition. Sadly, Marcille winds up being the bearer of bad news - souls are poorly understood, but the idea is that they're like an egg - when the shell gets cracked (i.e. the person dies), the soul spills out - but the dungeon has a spell on it that causes the soul to be retained. But in the case of Falin and izutsumi, they have two souls in a single shell - and there's no way to separate them. It's a harsh truth, and hearing it clearly has the teen girl shattered, realizing that there may be no way to undo her chimeric modification. This shocks her, as she noted that they're looking to to pursue Falin, even knowing this. Laios points out that they need to deal with her current form before someone - either Falin or another adventurer - gets killed; and that their use of black magic means that they're facing charges on the surface - without something to barter with, it won't end well. But Laios has a reason to be optimistic because of Izutsumi - because she's an artificial beastman like Falin, but has full control of herself, that means that without the geas, Falin's personality should be able to reassert itself. Besides, the Mad Mage clearly has greater knowledge of souls, and perhaps could be persuaded to teach them about that for a more permanent solution, right? With all this, Izutsumi asks if they're inviting her into Team Touden, to which Chilchuck points out that returning alone is dangerous for her, so it's the best option for her. He also notes that he heard she's Asebi, to which she reveals her real name to them, happily eating Senshi's food.

We return to a scene of Laios panting against the body of a dragon, only for him to be lectured by his father about how he's unable to live on his own, how he couldn't make it as either a hunter or a soldier or even an adventurer, as he's surrounded by images of classmates and the leader of the goldstripping party that swindled him. We even have an image of Shuro berating him - and it's this that makes Laios remember that he's in a dream - a dream he entered as he was worried about Marcille, who had been looking haggard. But once she fell asleep, she was soon writhing in her sleep, clearly being attacked by nightmares - monsters that feed off of the emotions of sleeping people. Shuro had once been possessed by nightmares, and Falin went in to save him - and so Laios plans to do the same - using Marcille as a pillow and counting fauns, he's soon asleep, which is how he got to the lecture in his mind. Realizing he's in his dream, he promptly deals with his naysayers by summoning his Ultimate Chimera from episode 1 to literally flatten them. Then realizing he needs to burrow to Marcille's dream, he becomes a fluffy white dog, digging his way in.

(So, it's worth pointing out that it's pretty much accepted at this point that Laios is somewhere on the spectrum - he's high functioning, but definitely struggles with reading people and interpersonal context, as well as having hyperfixations.)

Breaking into Marcille's dream, he finds himself in a labyrinthine library - fitting for a mage - and goes looking for her. He soon finds her hiding in the dream, as a little girl scared of a monster who is chasing her through the halls - a monster of tentacles and mouths, coming out of the darkness. Marcille mentions that it's devoured Papa and Pipi (her childhood pet bird, we find out), and now it wants to devour them too. As they run, Laios remembers Falin's words about nightmares, that they feed on emotional wounds - and thus this monster is a manifestation of Marcille's internal traumas. And to protect her, Laios announces he'll defeat the monster, but upon seeing it he reconsiders. Marcille tearfully says nobody can defeat the monster, and after an attack that causes Laios to age, he soon realizes why - the monster is Marcille's fear of death, in particular the fear of losing loved ones to it, and her doll is her regrets over Falin. The aging soon causes him to slow down, amplifying Marcille's fears - but as she cries, she notes that if she had the Mad Mage's tome - his tool granting him power over the dungeon - she could win. And with that Laios encourages her to take hold of that tome as he's devoured - and with that she pulls free the golden tome, the eye opening to reveal an "8" symbol as she smacks the book into the monster. With that, the two awaken, Marcille successfully dealing with the nightmare, and Laios emptied out her pillow, revealing the nightmares - which look like clams. And with that, they proceed to cook up the nightmares for a meal - and get a show as well, as the nightmares reveal Marcille's dreams, and how she had an adventure with with a fluffy dog - a dog that Chilchuck and Izutsumi not doesn't look like the sharpest knife in the canine drawer. With that, Laios recalls he had become a silver wolf in his mind, but - Marcille's safe and happy, and that's what matters.

Though the presence of the Golden Tome in the end feels rather ominous...
posted by NoxAeternum (7 comments total)
So yeah, this was an interesting episode that illustrates what can happen when the adaptation gets to read ahead, as the B-side story here is dropping lots of hints for a major reveal later in the series (basically spelling it out without outright stating things.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 6:50 AM on May 10

Happy DiD Fanfare Friday!
So wait, nightmares are just clams that hang out under your pillow? I would definitely do a pillow nightmare check before going to sleep each night in that dungeon.

I interpreted the '8' symbol on the book as an infinity symbol, but I haven't read the manga, so that's my 2 cents.
posted by WedgedPiano at 8:42 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]

In retrospect, Maizuru was a little reckless to abandon Asebi with that spell still active.

Asebi's design is odd. I think of her as piebald, but even the manga covers make clear that she has caucasian-flesh-colored hair.

Senshi needs to cut her some slack about the mushrooms. He knows full well they're monsters.

The dub continues to be better about Japanese terminology, naming the Sujihiki knife while the sub just calls it a carving knife.

First appearance of the Soul-as-Egg metaphor.

Izutsumi finally reveals her name. (She was a member of the main party in the one-shot, and her appearance here has been teased for a while.)

Of course Laios counts satyrs to fall asleep.

Laios' mightiest (dream) servant. Not the first time we've seen it…

The doll Falin has X-eyes. Not that unusual for cloth dolls, but surely an intentional death reference here.

There's an image that looks like The Nightmare painting by Fuseli, but it doesn't appear to be any of the known variants. For one, the woman isn't clothed. This appears to be a Trigger addition.

You have to wonder why they don't just check their pillows as a matter of course.

Asebi Izutsumi gets to be the picky eater now.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:35 PM on May 10

Laios is ... high functioning, but definitely struggles with reading people and interpersonal context, as well as having hyperfixations

An anime nerd, in other words. He'd probably be on good terms with Veldora.
posted by SPrintF at 2:12 PM on May 10

An anime nerd, in other words.

No, it's genuinely more than that - there's a lot of things where we get to see how Laios hasn't had the best life because he's struggled with peopleing.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:20 AM on May 11

Why must Laios feel like that?
Why must Laios feed the cat?
Nothing but the dog in him.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 6:02 AM on May 11 [2 favorites]

Swamp Jawn does his thing, picking up on the subtlest details.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:18 PM on May 13

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