Cjopaze (pronounced "Syo-pah-zay"), also known widely as the Barbed Wheel, is the name (coined by 4chan's traditional gaming community) for the supernatural influence responsible for the macabre turn of events within the Ruby Quest adventure. Though the nature of the villain is not made clear, it is commonly speculated to be an ancient pagan god, drawing power from the corruption it spreads. It appears to possess ability to cast suggestive visions used to manipulate characters' behavior.
Over the course of the game, which began as a light-hearted puzzler, its presence is gradually made clearer to the players, as does the dark nature of the story. The deity appears physically limited; not speaking or manifesting on screen, rather merely in the form of macabre visions (as seen to your right). Acting as an unseen chessmaster, it begins interacting without notice by subtly influencing thoughts through dreams and possessed objects to attain its goal.
Weaver, the game's facilitator, does not explicitly reference this villain as a character in the canon of RubyQuest, or make clear the end goal to its schemes, only hinting at a supernatural force behind the characters' actions. The deity is, additionally, not referenced by the Metal Glen poem partner to the game. Although he has discussed theories concerning the entity with players in Q & A's subtly nudging toward its significance, he continues to refrain from giving its role in the story concrete, currently preferring to leave it to the interpretation of the audience. The little that can be said of the creature and its influence is as follows:
Discovery of Lost Altar
Prior to the re-purposing of a submerged forgotten temple, the deity had presumably laid dormant for some time. Assumedly, the executives and overseers of what was to become the Metal Glen medical research facility (the game's main setting) had awoken it when they had stumbled upon the old sanctuary. Upon the re-inhabiting, the deity's influence was initially limited to faint voices which it used to manipulate the squatters.
After some time of the occupation, the diety was able to persuade Red, head researcher for the facility, to expand the building's holding space, despite the objections of his fellow colleges, and unearth its former altar. Once the pithy rock of the facility's base was broken, the excavation team had discovered within a buried tomb a trove of cult-like artifacts, of which they had subsequently reported to their superiors.
|“||--buried room was underneath all along... and we never would have found it were it not for Red's insistence on the need for emergency holding cell. The things they're pulling up are simply astounding. That statue, the carved disc, they bear signs unlike anything I've ever seen. And that bizarre dummy, its eyes are--||„|
|~ Unidentified researcher|
All malevolent activity in the facility can be connected to these several objects retrieved from what became known as the Brig room. The objects include:
- An odd disc with an inhuman eye imprinted on it;
- A tightly wrapped, leather-bound dummy (see below);
- A small, fetus-esque statuette;
- A set of viridian staves, potentially once a ceremonial staff;
- And a series of other bizarre sculptures and paintings;
|“||Don't SLEEP, they are WATCHING.||„|
During the game, the mannequin was discovered by the protagonists near the brig, bolted to the floor on a rotating pivot. Regardless of the avatar's location, whenever it is visible, it stares out of the screen in the general direction of the player. It has been noted by the staff that the mannequin's eyes had strange properties; such as when Tom pokes the it's eyes with his crowbar, he remarks that they feel squishy and also that they also glow in the darkness. Strangely and surprisingly, this was again not met by the staff with fear or concern, but rather fascination.
Its significance to the plot could be inferred as being symbolism to the deity. It was bides and observes the situation in placid silence, using the characters and players both as pawns in its enigmatic scheme. Near the end, when the ripped space within the Brig is completely broken and the facility is has shut down, the dummy appears among the remaining artifacts Ace has collected in cold storage. The room is dyed a tangible crimson and the dummy appears affixed to the ceiling, now spouting a dragon wing and colossal claw, as akin to a glorified Eldritch angel.
Its Flesh, the regenerative "Cure"
|“||You already HAVE the cure: So does everyone in this facility! It has brought you SIGHT! It has made you WELL! You didn't even need to EAT or DRINK! But when you died, you fucked it up! The cure was strong: It brought you BACK! And when you came back you brought something with you...||„|
|“||There is no infection. The only disease here is the one the doctors made.||„|
Among those artifacts recovered by the researchers in the tomb, they had also come upon a mysterious subterranean organism. When samples taken of the organism had shown it possessed amazing regenerative properties, the doctors mistook it to be a miracle cure to various previously untreatable illnesses and deformities. Unbeknownst to them, the fungi-like organism had actually been the Eldritch creature's bio-mass, now slowing spreading madness and mutation into its victims.
Using the organism's regenerative properties, the doctors had developed a line of medication which they prescribed to each patient and then to the entire population. After several weeks of dosage each recipient's body had been perfected. But the price of the cure's success, the doctors' realized too late, was their mental integrity. Before long, a series of violent murders took place in the facility. Wishing to keep the incidents under wraps, the executives ordered that the bodies be stowed away in storage lockers, but when they did the power of the "cure" brought them back in whole.
Plague of Monsters
When they came back, though, they bore no memory of the incidences, along with developing horrific mutations. There then began a continuous cycle of mutation, death, and regeneration which followed until the eventual evacuation of unaffected faculty and lock down of the facility. With the its plans apparently being followed through, Ace the orderly continued the Barbed Wheel's will, acting as its physical avatar.
Although the doctors had not often obeyed conventional treatment of patients before the Barbed Wheel's grasp on the facility, the decision to displaying the artifacts throughout the facility and consume its flesh had unwittingly caused an unprecedented surge of violence in both patients and staff.
This had begun in Ruby's first attack on Red, which had left his suspicions true. She, within a state of catatonia, was detained in high security, though left unwatched. Somehow, she had broken out and tossed patient "Stitches" into a bed of industrial fans and later gutted Tom with a scalpel. Red (a generally gentle person left to an ultimatum) had resorted in killing her and hiding the evidence to put a stop to the madness, though this was not for long. In Dr. S's same report, he brought to attention his theory of Stitches' murder, which had been previously been considered an accident, in addition to Red's covering up of the act. The nest day, Stitches (his extremities torn to pieces) had arose whole from the makeshift casket he was laid to rest in, as had Ruby from the crate her body had been stowed in. Administration now achieved the status of Gods in their eyes.
The deity began to assume full control following Red's first suicide, in witness to the resurrections, and subsequent rebirth. In a whiplash of atomosphere, the population now began to succumb to ghastly bodily mutation, especially in areas previously healed, accompanied with amnesia or total memory loss, and feral insanity. Some also showed signs of superhuman power. The successful institution became a squalor of roaming monsters under the influence of the Barbed Wheel.
Abandonment and Lockdown
|“||I am kept on life support. Those things don't attack me. My mind must be intact for me to continue operating. I suspect they don't want to taint it with me running the facility's systems.||„|
As a last resort, the remaining sane overseers had ordered an immediate evacuation of survivors and gave Bella (head systems manager and only staff member exempt from treatment) instructions to maintain a permanent lockdown of the facility, and to Ace the orderly that he should obey her, in an effort to contain the plague. After three years of resurrection cycles and reality distortion, the game begins for /tg/.
Now abandoned, Tom and Ruby traverse the alternating ominous quiet and horror. By now, Ace has defied Bella and has resumed "resurrection locker" duties, under the possession of Cjopaze. Avoiding the monsters wandering the halls and other dangers, the protagonists successfully reach Bella, and try to convince her to let them escape. She urges that she cannot under her orders.By her reasoning, she was spared from the mutagenic curse and attack by the monsters due to her being responsible for the overall integrity of the facility's power and security systems. When Ruby and Tom submit to her commands of a mercy kill, Ace is then seen going into a blind fury.
Over the course of the game, the Brig gradually becomes divided in half by a black chasm. One half, as well as its associated gravity, later inverts. Both events apparently happen of their own accord. This progress seems to reflect the situation of The last we see of it, the other half is completely eroded into an empty void.
Some fans speculate that the Barbed Wheel may have a connection to, or even be, Perogra of Weaver's World Eater campaign, produced under an alias, the Arbiter. The story is set in Quorum, Weaver's super-universe in which a number quests are connected through. Perogra is portrayed as a god of forbidden knowledge. Her mythos also has heavy ties to mutation and distortion of reality. The symbol used to depict her has a similarity to a barbed wheel as well.
In Weaver's DiveQuest, there is also a scene in which Copal, the High Roller, presents the main character to a painting which has a similar illustration to one from RubyQuest. The High Roller states that it was retrieved from the Cult of the Barbed Wheel in the Southeast, before their altar sank into the sea and they vanished from the face of the earth. The cross-peg and what appears to be Ace's mask can be seen. Barbed Wheel may be assumed to be canon in the Weaververse based on this.
The words "CJOPAZE FHTAGN" were found written on an eye chart; a clear reference (to the readers) to the phrase Cthulhu fhtagn of the Cthulhu Mythos. Cjopaze therefore became the semi-official/ fan accepted name of the entity by default. It is also became known as Barbed Wheel due the frequent appearance of the barbed wheel symbol (a few examples seen here) The name Barbed Wheel and "World Eater" are references to elements from Warhammer 40k.
Other fan names include the "Bound Watcher", "He Who Slumbers in the Buried Dark", and the "God of the Green Throne", due to elements present during the game.