Cross Your Eyes and Dot Your TEA, or, NORNS Filled Out in Duplicate
  • Rimblade has joined

<HollyhockGod> Rimbly!

<HollyhockGod> You got here just in time for Nomen's fanservice scene.

<Rimblade> Thank goodness.

  • Rimblade is now known as Darryl

<Darryl> Well, go on!

<HollyhockGod> Let's see.

<HollyhockGod> You stand on a branch of the WORLD ASH.

<HollyhockGod> Exits are to N, S, E, W, UP, and DOWN.

<Vauncey> Do we have Elliott?

<HollyhockGod> You do not see an ELLIOTT.

<Darryl> Get ye flask.

<HollyhockGod> Flash got.

<HollyhockGod> hic

<Vauncey> Dammit.

<Vauncey> Come back Elliott, you have the best build.

<Vauncey> Also Death is a totally cheaty Estate.

<Vauncey> You can just do fake WBH.

<Darryl> Just tax him of that ability and use it for your own gain!

<Nomen> Seems like it could work.

<Darryl> See? Nomen thinks it's a good plan.

<Vauncey> OK, so, we're in, like, a train station, right?

<HollyhockGod> Yeah, looking out on the World Ash via the rear exit.

<Vauncey> We need to either make a train travel much faster than normal, or to teleport between worlds, or something.

<Vauncey> I guess we could also stop time.

<Darryl> Here's a thought—what if we spend the next several millenia spreading a tale across the worlds that anyone who comes to this spot on this date would discover unfathomable blessings and wealth? Since only a time traveler could do that, then we can knock them out and take their conveyance.

<Vauncey> I think probably we only have a few hours before we get killed, though.

<Vauncey> We could possibly rely on time dilation from black holes, but I am almost positive that will go badly.

<HollyhockGod> You could try never going home!

<Vauncey> I assume that doesn't get us out of it.

<Vauncey> Although, hm.

<Nomen> Home is where the heart is.

<Vauncey> Time isn't invariant on the World Ash, right?

<Vauncey> Can we get back to a time period on Earth that is well before the deadline, even if it takes a long time on the train?

<HollyhockGod> I guess you can try!

<HollyhockGod> Or you could use that invariance to enact the other plan.

<HollyhockGod> I mean, you have a year.

<Nomen> What other plan is that?

<HollyhockGod> Darryl's suggestion.

<Darryl> The one where we hitch-hike off a time traveler.

<Nomen> Ah.

<Darryl> The only other plan I've got involves a lengthy training montage.

<Vauncey> How lengthy are we talking here?

<Darryl> In which we are all beneficially audited for how fast we can run until at last we exceed the speed of light and can jog home.

<Nomen> And what song would be playing?

<Darryl> Look, I know the classic is the Team America song…

<Darryl> But would any of the local bands know that one?

<Vauncey> Hmmm. Are there any other gods or nobles around here who could get us back in a hurry in exchange for favours?

<HollyhockGod> You don't know of any, but I guess you could find a way to ask?

<HollyhockGod> Hopefully before the cops come to arrest you for murdering all those monies.

<Vauncey> Naw, that's too impolite.

<Vauncey> Can the cops get to the sky train station? I wasn't sure.

<HollyhockGod> You aren't actually sure how that works. The human creatures in cop outfits probably can.

<HollyhockGod> They may or may not be an actual police force.

<Darryl> I could call forth mischievous audit gnomes to look for anyone with the power and demeanor.

<Nomen> Thsi place must be a jurisdiction nightmare, I'm sure they can't arrest us here.

<HollyhockGod> I'm not sure if you guys ever figured out what the deal with this place was.

<Vauncey> Well, let's take a train to Earth in the meantime.

<Vauncey> We can always get off at a rest stop if we come up with a better plan.

<HollyhockGod> There is no train to Earth.

<Vauncey> Tsk!

<Vauncey> Do we need to make a connection?

<HollyhockGod> In fact they've never heard of the place here.

<Nomen> Can we take a train to our Chancel?

<Vauncey> Are any of the trains going places I recognize?

<Darryl> I think we might have banned trains from the Chancel.

<Darryl> As they disturb the bees.

<HollyhockGod> Some places may seem vaguely familiar, but the Chancel definitely isn't one of them.

<HollyhockGod> There's Jotunheim, and Dionyl.

<Nomen> We'll take the train to Rome.

<Nomen> All roads lead to Rome, says the old saying.

<Nomen> Surely a train goes there.

<HollyhockGod> There is also not a train to Rome.

<Darryl> Can we get to Olympus?

<Nomen> All trains lead to Jotunhein, then.

<HollyhockGod> There is also not a train to Olympus.

<Vauncey> This is why I don't go to the boonies, usually.

<Darryl> We could try incarnating somewhere close to home and alerting someone who can pick us up!

<Vauncey> I'm more concerned about the time element, honestly.

<Vauncey> It won't do for us to be late!

<Darryl> Maybe we can file for extensions of time.

<Vauncey> I think that's the kind of thing that got the Imperator mad in the first place.

<Darryl> Or if we arrive a few billion years late, an application nunc pro tunc.

<Vauncey> Well, let's take a train to someplace that seems likely to be closer than here.

<Darryl> Jotunheim?

<Vauncey> Sure, why not.

<HollyhockGod> You board a train for Jotunheim!

<Vauncey> Are there any tourism pamphlets about Jotunheim? I haven't been in ages.

<HollyhockGod> Sure!

<HollyhockGod> It's a very large train, for very large people.

<Nomen> I bet I'm besties with Surtr.

<Vauncey> Vauncey flips through the pamphlet on the train, then.

<HollyhockGod> It's also mostly empty because most of the Jotun are dead!

<HollyhockGod> Jotunheim was hit very badly by the Excrucians, and in fact is still under heavy bombardment.

<Vauncey> Is that in the pamphlet?

<HollyhockGod> Yes.

<Nomen> "Cool. I always wanted to meet some Excrucians."

<Vauncey> I will alert the others to this, then.

<HollyhockGod> The pamphlet is titled "Please Visit Sunny Jotunheim. Please. Please."

<Vauncey> How long a ride is it?

<HollyhockGod> Two months!

<Vauncey> I guess as long as we don't return to earth the time element doesn't matter.

<Vauncey> So long as we get back to earth in time.

<Nomen> "I could talk strategy and then destroy stuff with a Strategist!"

<Darryl> "That sounds highly illegal."

<HollyhockGod> Destroying things is wrong, Nomen.

<Darryl> "Let's please avoid any further condemnations by all right-thinking beings in the universe."

<Vauncey> "We have to fight the Excrucians. They're a serious hazard to taxation, and most of them are delinquent on their entry fees."

<Nomen> "Well if we arrive earlier, we'll have risen above the call of our duty."

<Nomen> "No one needs to know about friendly drinks in a bar at the end of the universes."

<Darryl> "Maybe we can talk the Excrucians into paying their taxes in the form of getting us home quickly."

<HollyhockGod> Sadly, there is no alcohol for sale on the train.

<HollyhockGod> And only a single car full of kegs in existence.

<Vauncey> How are Jotunheim's taxes and infrastructure doing? I will inquire of my Domain.

<HollyhockGod> This delivery, once made, will represent 100% of the alcohol on Jotunheim.

<HollyhockGod> Vauncey: Shit be fucked.

<HollyhockGod> 90% of the planet is dead.

<Vauncey> Well, this isn't really to-point, but as long as nobody has a better idea we might as well work on it.

<HollyhockGod> It's pretty much just the local equivalent of Nobles keeping the remaining population in their Chancels.

<HollyhockGod> The only global infrastructure involves maintaining the Edge Cauldrons.

<Vauncey> In the meantime, we've got two months. We might as well try that training regimen. Also, it'd help if it could make us gianter, or if we could construct mecha suits.

<HollyhockGod> You don't really understand how they work but they're some kind of massive energy generator that funnels power to the Imperial front in the war.

<Nomen> I'm going to start distilling some booze.

<Darryl> Well, if we're going to audit Jotunheim for a way back home, we'll need warm clothing.

<Darryl> Thankfully, I have snow gear in my briefcase.

<Nomen> How good are wolfsbane and nightshade to make alcohol?

<Nomen> Wait, I don't think either of those are night-bloomers.

<HollyhockGod> Terrible, unless you're immortal or some kind of giant.

<HollyhockGod> Vauncey, meanwhile, has vague memories of contacts on Jotunheim.

<HollyhockGod> Something to do with the cauldrons, maybe?

<Vauncey> Once we're close enough to get a phone signal I'll see if they're still alive.

<HollyhockGod> Did you leverage their power as part of your infinite energy scheme?

<Nomen> "You have to think positively, Vauncey."

<Nomen> "I'm sure your contacts are being painfully tortured, if they were captured, and totally not dead."

<Vauncey> You know, it's been so long I can scarcely remember. I know it was one of the ideas I tried, but I can't recall if it made it to production.

<Vauncey> It would definitely be useful to have infinite energy right now, though, since then we could accelerate to past the speed of light and go back in time.

<Vauncey> Maybe if we help them out with the Excrucians, they'll let Vauncey tinker around with one of the cauldrons and we'll see what we can do about that.

<Vauncey> Nomen! Try not to be evil when we're there, except in defense of reality.

<Nomen> "You mean that… if an Excrucian is attacking… I can do whatever I want to them?"

<Nomen> "No strings attached?"

<Darryl> "Nomen! What is the moral value of collateral damage?"

<Nomen> "Wrong, I think. This is really way too binary."

<Vauncey> "I think you have to weigh the damage to the world against the benefit of removing an Excrucian. Darryl, do you recall what the policy is on that?"

<Nomen> "But to the Excrucian himself, I can do whatever?"

<HollyhockGod> It's wrong not to kill Excrucians.

<Nomen> "Ohohohoho."

<Nomen> "Christmas came earlier this year, and not because I kidnapped Santa Claws."

<HollyhockGod> Eventually all the food runs out.

<HollyhockGod> Shortly afterward, Jotunheim appears in the distance.

<HollyhockGod> You didn't know it was possible to construct a planet entirely out of craters.

<Vauncey> I'll text my contacts.

<Nomen> "We should fire a warning shot."

<HollyhockGod> There's a thin green band around the equator where you still see signs of life. Everything else is a wreck.

<Darryl> "This train is not equipped with mass drivers, is it?"

<Nomen> "I can generate 0.5G."

<HollyhockGod> "Well, well, well," says Mime over your phone. "Fancy seeing you again."

<Vauncey> Vauncey got about halfway through designing a mecha suit during the trip but did not finish due to continuing problems.

  • Vauncey texts back a smiling emoticon. "No rest for the wicked. How goes the battle? They're keeping us quite busy back on Earth, but quite by coincidence we happen to be in the neighbourhood and wondered if you needed a hand."

<HollyhockGod> "I would… absolutely love to see you again. Why don't you pay us a visit?"

<HollyhockGod> "I couldn't get you into the workshops, of course, but there's a little teahouse you might like…"

  • Vauncey texts back, "That'd be lovely. I have some friends along but I don't expect they'll be much trouble."
  • Vauncey shows the message to the others. "So, we'll have to try not to be much trouble," he emphasizes.
  • Nomen waves dismissively.

<Darryl> "I find that ellipsis disturbing."

  • Vauncey shrugs voluminously. "Beggars can't be choosers."

<Darryl> "Fine, but if we find ourselves betrayed you shall owe me a case of Cuban cigars."

<Vauncey> "I graciously accept."

<HollyhockGod> You struggle through the landscape of a ruined world until you find the teahouse.

<Vauncey> Is the teahouse ruined?

<HollyhockGod> …some of it isn't!

<HollyhockGod> Melancholy music plays, and desperate-looking giants drink what you suspect is really, really shitty tea.

<HollyhockGod> Also, the lights go out, and you hear the door slide shut and bolt behind you.

<Darryl> "God, Vauncey, this is a tragedy."

<Nomen> "We forgot tjhe beer!"

<HollyhockGod> A voice from above you says "Welcome back, Mister Vauncey. Not a day's gone by since you left that I didn't think about you."

<HollyhockGod> "Of course, I had a lot of time to think in prison."

<Darryl> "This isn't a great sign."

<Nomen> "Maybe we should've gone to that other place."

<HollyhockGod> "And like I knew they would, eventually they let me out, 'cos they needed me."

<Nomen> "Ah, you're one of them no-balls who can't even escape properly."

<HollyhockGod> "But I always thought I'd have to come find you. Didn't think you'd come lookin' for me."

  • Nomen plays a mocking tune on the harmonica.

<HollyhockGod> "Give the little musician a cup of tea, boys, would you?"

<Vauncey> "It's good to see you too," answers Vauncey, smooth-voiced. "Well, I can't see you with the lights out, and all, but… you do know what I mean." He holds out his hands expansively. "I've had quite a full life myself," he says, raising his voice a bit to drown out Nomen's retort. "But one suspects there are more pressing matters right now?"

<HollyhockGod> Nomen is seized by hands about five feet wide. They attempt to force your mouth open and make you drink the tea.

<Vauncey> Let's see where this is going!

<Nomen> "I'm all for being the proper guest to the host. Pour it in!"

  • Nomen drinks the tea.

<Darryl> This tea might be shittier than we'd ever imagined.

<HollyhockGod> It is worse than you can imagine.

<HollyhockGod> It is the most awful tea your mind can process, and then there are several layers of awfulness your brain just can't contain at once.

<Nomen> "Bleeeeech."

<HollyhockGod> Nomen looks desperately for a glass of liquid gonorrhea to wash his mouth out with.

<Nomen> "This thing is bad, and I speak as a tea-hater."

<HollyhockGod> Alas, none is available.

<HollyhockGod> "Good, good. He looks thirsty, so do keep him hydrated."

<HollyhockGod> The tea keeps happening.

<HollyhockGod> "Meanwhile… business."

<Nomen> "You stop that, or I will drink your blood!"

  • Darryl stares at the forced tea-ing, unable to look away.

<Nomen> (Speaking of, Bond: I'm feared by most)

<HollyhockGod> Is what Nomen would say if his mouth were not full of tea.

<HollyhockGod> The Bond is only useful if you do something with it.

<HollyhockGod> "I spent fifty years in a cell because of you, Vauncey," says the voice.

<HollyhockGod> "I think it's only fair that you return the favor. I've got a nice little place picked out…"

<HollyhockGod> There's a finger snap, and a sound in the dark that probably indicates a grabbing in all of your future.

<HollyhockGod> "For the rest of you, well, I suppose there's plenty of tea."

<Vauncey> "I'm afraid I must decline," answers Vauncey. "I have quite a bit of work to do and I'm afraid it does require me to travel."

<HollyhockGod> "God, there's always more tea."

<HollyhockGod> The voice chokes a bit on that in utter despair.

<Nomen> I attempt to escape the giants

<Darryl> "Wait! Vauncey is already being punished for his misdeeds by serving as a tenured public accountant for the rest of eternity!"

<Vauncey> Vauncey waits to see where this is going!

<HollyhockGod> The voice pauses. "Really?"

<Darryl> "Yes. The angels force him to evaluate public debt circulation forevermore."

<Darryl> "He slaves day-in and day-out amidst the buzzing of infinite bees."

<HollyhockGod> "That ach'lly sounds pretty dreadful."

<Vauncey> "As I said, quite a bit has happened. I'm afraid the old business is quite done with."

<Darryl> "True; but he's nearly escaped his fate. If he does not return to his waxy prison within ten months, he shall be free of his torment."

<HollyhockGod> Meanwhile, Nomen fails to escape the giants, possibly because his action isn't backed up by an Intention.

<HollyhockGod> "Well, we can't have that, can we?"

<HollyhockGod> "You seem like an honest sort. Maybe we can strike a bargain."

<Nomen> (Right. I don't have any relevant skills, but I can use level 0 Aspect, to get a +3. Also, I'm Cool so their size isn't gonna work against me.)

<HollyhockGod> This fails utterly!

<HollyhockGod> It fails so utterly that you suspect Jotuns may have miraculous-level strength.

<Darryl> "What things do you and these Jotuns seek?"

<Nomen> Argh.

<Nomen> I create some night just outside and teleport to it.

<HollyhockGod> "Well, I tell you what. I could borrow a bit of power from the cauldrons and fire you back towards your little world."

<HollyhockGod> Nomen night-a-ports out of his caffinated prison!

<HollyhockGod> "But I still want just a tiny bit of my revenge."

  • Nomen Cuts his tongue out quickly

<HollyhockGod> "So perhaps I'll send you with a few barrels of our… delicious local brew, as a token of my esteem."

<HollyhockGod> "And you can swear an oath that you'll make sure your pal Vauncey drinks it all."

<Darryl> "Hm. Well, Vauncey?"

<Vauncey> "Mm, let me try a bit and see."

<Vauncey> "I'm not much of a tea-drinker, but I'll try anything once."

<HollyhockGod> The tea is…

<HollyhockGod> ugh

<HollyhockGod> Let me put it like this.

<HollyhockGod> Everyone else can see blackness passing through your body as it goes down your throat, like something viscous seeping through your veins.

<HollyhockGod> Also you lose consciousness and are lost in nightmares where you labor for ten thousand thousand years and still can't make the figures add up.

<Darryl> "Oh my."

<HollyhockGod> "Yeah. It takes some people that way."

<Vauncey> Vauncey has Elusive, so that probably helps a little bit, but he still looks quite perturbed. "That's very…very tannic," he says, after coming to. "What do you make this out of, again?"

<Nomen> (Wow, I'm glad I was Immortal.)

<HollyhockGod> "Strangers, mostly," says the voice. "If you have to make it out of somebody you knew, that's felt to be unlucky in these parts."

<HollyhockGod> "But it's better than starving. Almost."

<Darryl> "Huh. Maybe some honey would help."

  • Darryl produces the decanter of the Honey of Introspection which he has been carrying.
  • Vauncey seems a little sad, but this is still probably better than when Nomen broke the world, so all in all it's probably best to accept.

<HollyhockGod> "Excellent, then. Shake on it?"

  • Darryl places the decanter down on a nearby table and offers his hand to the darkness.

<HollyhockGod> You are shaken!

<HollyhockGod> Goodness, these hands are big.

<HollyhockGod> "Very gentlemanly of yer. Now, let me just fire up the ole mass drivers…"

<HollyhockGod> Then there is a long cutscene where you're all stuck in barrels and fired out of a giant magic cannon.

<Nomen> (Well, that was quick. I thought we'd have to solve some problems.)

<HollyhockGod> Fired, indeed, straight through an Excrucian warship and towards the Earth!

<HollyhockGod> I guess that's technically a problem you solved.

<HollyhockGod> Meanwhile, you are about to hit the Earth travelling at relativistic speeds.

<Nomen> "This isn't worrisome at all."

<Nomen> (or however that sounds without a tongue)

<Vauncey> I suppose we should deal with this.

<Darryl> I have an idea, chaps!

<Vauncey> I was thinking I could tax our momentum, slowing us to a gentle stop and funneling the kinetic energy to underimpelled individuals.

<Darryl> Oh, that's a good idea too.

<Darryl> I was going to use a persona miracle to render our impact into the planet hopefully for the best.

<Vauncey> OK, I do that! Lesser Animation/Creation/Destruction of Taxes!

<Vauncey> You may wish to render this for the best anyway, you know, to be safe.

<HollyhockGod> Which individuals are underimpelled?

<Vauncey> The chronically motionless, I guess.

<HollyhockGod> I see!

<HollyhockGod> You glide gently to a stop outside your Chancel.

<HollyhockGod> Meanwhile, couch potatoes are flung out of their windows and into yoga classes.

<Vauncey> Excellent!

<Darryl> "Well, chaps, we've done it…"

<Darryl> "…but at what cost?"

<HollyhockGod> Since you left, the Chancel became guarded by patrols of armored death-swans.

<Vauncey> "Well now, I owe you some cigars, and on my honour as a gentleman I do have to drink all that tea, somehow. But in the meantime — we have a lot of returns to finish. Darryl, let's you and I get to that and Nomen, perhaps you can see what's going on with these swans."

<HollyhockGod> They bar your way, honking: "This Chancel is sealed by order of the Sovereigns of Death and Taxes!"

<Vauncey> "I remember there were swans before, but I'm pretty sure it was a different kind before."

<Nomen> "Move, or I will unleash the lions on you!"

<Darryl> "Who are the Sovereigns who have barred us? Speak, swanju!"

<HollyhockGod> "It is the god slash goddess Deathblossom, and the noble god Vauncey."

<HollyhockGod> "Also some others, but those were the ones who said to shut the gate."

<Nomen> "I am the Sovereign of Night, and I command you to open them!"

  • Vauncey steps up and dips his head respectfully. "May I speak to Vauncey? I believe I may be him, so I am hoping to sort that out."
  • Darryl nudges Nomen. "Don't admit that aloud! We could be dealing with identity theft."

<Nomen> "It's pretty hard to steal my identity."

<HollyhockGod> "You are definitely not Vauncey. He warned us that you would be coming, and that we should distrust the one who smells like tea."

<Nomen> "How many immortal black hole creating madmen bearing swords of insane power do you know?"

<HollyhockGod> The swan looks down at Nomen.

<HollyhockGod> "Apparently two, now."

<Nomen> "You should say that in the past."

  • Nomen kills the swan, as he often does.

<Darryl> "Aaaah!"

<HollyhockGod> Alarms begin to go off.

<Nomen> "We had alarms?"

<Darryl> "Why would you just do that?!"

<HollyhockGod> The Chancel goes into lockdown mode.

<HollyhockGod> As a matter of fact, you didn't have those.

<HollyhockGod> Or shutters on the doors and windows.

<HollyhockGod> But apparently, now you do!

<Nomen> "It's literally what I always do to deal with the swans."

<Nomen> "Why do you think I had to get lions? Because I always kill the swans."

<Darryl> "Hasn't anyone told you that swans are holy birds, and that if you kill them you shall earn the ultimate enmity of the spirits who dwell within the frozen wastes?!"

<Vauncey> Vauncey seems mildly perturbed. Does there seem to be another Power of Taxes around, according to domain divination?

  • Darryl stops and thinks for a moment.

<Darryl> "No, wait, those are albatrosses."

<HollyhockGod> Well, as a matter of fact, there does seem to be another Power of Taxes.

<HollyhockGod> His name is… Vauncey!

<Vauncey> Hmm.

<Vauncey> Is he doing a better job than me?

<Nomen> "Now…you're the one who installed the alarms presumably. How do we get past them?"

<HollyhockGod> Yes.

<HollyhockGod> You know because he wrote you a note in the taxosphere saying "I am doing a better job than you."

<Darryl> "Well, the first step would be to avoid killing any of the guards."

<Nomen> "And how did I not talk you into putting in an exception for when I killed them?"

<Vauncey> In fairness, I might do a better job if I were working by myself, too.

<HollyhockGod> "Attention, intruders!"

<HollyhockGod> The voice on the loudspeaker sounds vaguely familiar.

<Vauncey> But in any case, this all seems to be in order. I relay this information to the others!

<HollyhockGod> "You are no longer welcome here, and your presence in this sacred place is an affront."

<Nomen> "I call that Tuesday."

<Darryl> "In fairness, we are not, as yet, actually intruding."

<HollyhockGod> "In the name of all that is holy, I command you to avaunt, and vanish into the darkness of time!"

  • Nomen triees to recognize the voice.

<Vauncey> Is there, like, an intercom to talk back into the loudspeakers?

<HollyhockGod> Nomen is unable to recognize the voice, because your own voice always sounds odd when it comes from somewhere other than your own head.

<Nomen> Well, that's awkward.

<Nomen> Also, infuriating.

<HollyhockGod> Sure, answer away.

<Nomen> "Vauncey, who the hell is the one talking?"

<HollyhockGod> "Don't call that simulacrum Vauncey! Like you, he is only a pale imitation of a better and nobler thing, a sad reminder of how low we might have fallen."

<HollyhockGod> The door opens to reveal… Nomen!


  • Nomen isn't impressed

<Nomen> "You're a bad actor!"

<Nomen> "And I can't lie, so you know it to be true!"

<HollyhockGod> I am not surprised that you are not impressed.

<HollyhockGod> Since this Nomen appears to be dressed like some sort of… paladin.

<Nomen> "That is so wrong it's actually hurting me through my immortality."

<HollyhockGod> He's even painted Noble Nemesis white and had the finishings redone in chome.

  • Vauncey crosses his arms. "Listen here, this is quite irregular. We have quite a lot of paperwork to do."

<HollyhockGod> He scratched out the writing on the blade to change its name to NOBLE NICENESS.

<HollyhockGod> "I also cannot lie, so let me say that you are vile beyond measure and badly dressed to boot."

<Nomen> "Jokes on you! I'm not wearing boots."

<HollyhockGod> "I can only give thanks to the Creator that I was turned onto the righteous path before it was too late."

<HollyhockGod> "Now, depart, or be cut down where you stand!"

<Nomen> "Yeah, you do that!"

<Nomen> "Both thank the creator, and depart or be cut down to go meet him in person."

<Vauncey> "Now listen here," says Vauncey, voice low but firm. "I think we're at least owed an explanation."

<HollyhockGod> "As you have chosen, then," says Nomen, and opens a black hole directly behind you.

  • Nomen night-a-ports himself away from the black hole.

<HollyhockGod> Everyone else is in danger of being caught by the black hole!

  • Nomen moves the black hole to the inside of other Nomen's body.

<HollyhockGod> The other Nomen slices this miracle with Noble Niceness, attempting to pin your black-hole control power to the ground.

  • Vauncey takes the opportunity to back off a bit. Maybe they'll kill each other! Wait, they're both immortal, right? Well, that's… that's good too.

<Darryl> (Are we fighting non-evil duplicates of ourselves or something?)

<Nomen> (I'm gonna need to afk for some 10 to 20 minutes.)

<HollyhockGod> I am unable to give any input on that, since it cannot be obtained through your own sensory data.

<Vauncey> (We don't know! They refuse to explain.)

<Nomen> (So, maybe move on to someone else's duplicate fight.)

<Vauncey> (It seems like the truly non-evil thing to do would be to explain.)

<HollyhockGod> Anyway, Nomen is pinned down, and you are all being sucked into a black hole.

<Vauncey> That is bothersome.

<Darryl> I wish to use a Lesser Sacrifice of Audits to remove the badness from failing to escape a black hole.

<HollyhockGod> So anyway, you are all drawn into the black hole and die, again.

<HollyhockGod> Once again this is less bad than you might expect.

<HollyhockGod> You find yourself blossoming into existence again at the bottom of a deep, dark well.

<HollyhockGod> "So there you are," says Deathblossom. "I've been waiting."

<Darryl> "Why are we in a well?"

<HollyhockGod> "I like wells."

<HollyhockGod> "Also, I was hiding from our replacements."

<Darryl> "A cunning strategem."

<Darryl> "We've got to take them by surprise. I propose a frontal assault."

  • Vauncey straightens a bent lapel. "I must say, old boy, I'm a touch confused by all this."

<HollyhockGod> "It's simple enough to understand! You've been replaced by your alternate future self."

<HollyhockGod> "Apparently they jacked a ride from some time travellers and managed to get back before we actually left."

<HollyhockGod> "Also they went on a road trip and learned valuable life lessons or something."

<Vauncey> "Why are they so disagreeable? I rather thought I'd get along well with myself."

  • Darryl coughs.

<HollyhockGod> "Using those life lessons, they lived our lives over and became incredibly popular, largely by not actually collecting many taxes."

<Darryl> "Oh, NO."

  • Vauncey seems personally offended. "But you have to collect taxes! What about the bees?"

<HollyhockGod> "The bees… are on a diet."

<Vauncey> "Well, this won't do at all. Do you have any ideas?"

<HollyhockGod> "Well, we could stay in this well forever."

<Darryl> "No, this is ridiculous!"

<HollyhockGod> "Or we could crash the birthday party our nonevil duplicates are holding for Fand tonight in the Chancel and destroy them along with their good reputation."

  • Darryl struggles to his feet, face alight with righteous fury.

<Darryl> "They've allowed personal growth and friendship and love to corrupt them, and cause them to become immoral!"

<Darryl> "No wonder they wanted to keep us out, for this state of affairs is a travesty which must be at once mended."

<Vauncey> "I suppose we'll have to. I chafe at this job sometimes too, but it needs to be done. We'll need a hand coming back to life, though."

<Darryl> "I have just the weapon to use against them, too."

<Darryl> "Vauncy, I need you to tax and redistribute something."

<Darryl> "But I'm not going to tell you what right now, because if you discuss your plots aloud they seldom work."

  • Vauncey cracks his knuckles. "Just say the word."

<HollyhockGod> The word is…


<Vauncey> I hope we get Sarabande back, so we can have a confrontation between Sarabande and good evil Sarabande.

<Gayo> Anyhow, I'm feeling kinda weird cuz I ate too many random near-expiry things from the fridge so I am going to go lie down for a bit.

<Gayo> Good work, Darryl!

<Gayo> You get MVP today.

<RandBrittain> The traitor gets MVP, as would be expected of the evil adventuring party.

<Gayo> He was non-treacherous today!

<Rimblade> My treachery was well-intentioned!

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