Certainly not the world's greatest role model.
But I noticed something in his story... Something I think people must have missed. Not that missing things is a difficult thing to do when you're observing these things in real time or hastily skimming over them as you try to perform "research" on the Construct. However, as a person with far too much time to sit around analyzing the community's encounters, I've started to notice little things here and there. This is one such observation... and though I don't have the entire logic of how it works figured out, I still think it's important to note.
About midway through his early adventures, Arkady had a run in with Porfiry on a riverbank. He had no problem beating the snot out of the poor proxy, but when the Construct shows up he winds up finding himself in a world of pain just before getting tentacle bitch-slapped into the river. Later an unknown passerby happens to spot him upstream and drag him out of the water, after which he spends the rest of the day dragging himself back to his car and spends quite some time after with serious phantom pain issues. And so that part of the tale ends with very little further examination of the events. Nothing more to see here. Moving along then, right?
But something about this encounter concerns me. There is a very sudden shift in the Construct's behavior here. Something which from a logical standpoint seems out of place when compared against Arkady's previous encounters.
Up until this point, the Construct was always quite clearly "in control" of any given situation. Early on, for all his bravado, Arkady was completely helpless to act against the Construct and was guided along like a puppet on a string. Fear of death held him back from taking the actions he so boldly envisioned in his mind. It was only when he finally accepted the inevitability of his death that he was finally, truly able to begin fighting back. To see his inner ego become more present on the outside...
Still, the Construct remained in control, undeterred by Arkady's sudden awakening. The introduction of Javert at this point is interesting to note however. The Construct's usual methods have failed to bring him his prey, so his tactics take an appropriate turn to whittle away at Arkady's resolve through other means. Still, he forced the Construct to change tactics... control was waning. Only by so much however. As the next few times Arkady has a direct encounter with the Construct, despite becoming emboldened enough to attack it, each assault was met with the same resistance as he had encountered in the past. What I’ve described previously as a Perception Barrier stops him in his tracks, holding him frozen in place for an extended period of time. The Construct accomplishes this feat with ease. Try as he might to strike the creature, Arkady could never get close enough to land a blow. “Layer Three” was in full effect.
Then we reach the confrontation at the river...
Once more Arkady is stopped dead in his tracks, body wracked by intense pain as the Construct exerts its control over him... but then something happens. Something I don't think the Construct was expecting. Arkady Got Back Up. He didn't just crawl to his feet either. Arkady drew his knife, staggered forward, broken into a mad dash, and took a swing right at the Construct's face. And the Construct reacted. It lashed out with a tendril and made violent physical contact with Arkady for the first time. And my question, is Why? Why the sudden escalation from this point forward in the Construct's method of attack?
Perhaps I'm reading too much into it. Perhaps this was just the Construct's way of showing Arkady his place. It was just toying with him after all... It could do whatever it wanted. It was in control.
But I'm beginning to think that's not the case. I think things suddenly escalated, because Arkady had succeeded in making himself a Threat. You see, Arkady shouldn't have gotten back up. The Construct was exerting its control. It had erected the same psychic barrier of defense as it had always used before... That had always Succeeded before... Strengthened it even, to pour on the pain, to make Arkady submit to the agony it was inflicting upon his body... But Arkady somehow managed to resist. He fought through the Construct's control and tried once more to strike it. The barrier was already up... and it wasn't working. Upon realizing this, the Construct had only a few moments to react, so it instinctually defended itself... Making a last second physical strike against Arkady.
From this point forward, the Construct always uses a more drastic form of attack when facing Arkady directly. No more subtle bullshit... Straight to the Fire and the Tentacles every time. (Barring one final instance of what I’d call a maximum power Slendy-Mind-Fuck-Time-Loop-Illusion.)
I'm not exactly sure what it was about Arkady that caused this shift to occur. Was it something to do with his changing perceptions about himself and/or the Construct? Had his Ego simply grown too great to be dominated? Was his renewed determination and resolve simply enough to overcome such forms of mental attack? It's impossible for me to be sure... but whatever the case, I feel it is important that we delve into it. There could be something here that could allow us to finally gain the capacity to slip past the Third Layer, the Construct's most powerful defense against us. He may still have his other methods of attack... his other Layers... but if we can actually get close enough to strike him... then we may finally be able to learn what makes this thing Bleed.