<HollyhockGod> Hm, let's see.
<HollyhockGod> What's today's assessment?
<HollyhockGod> Here's one client who's fused with a separate taxpayer and is claiming to be a new third entity who doesn't owe either of the component Noble's tax bills.
<HollyhockGod> Wait, no. Bad Rand! We have to stop making Steven Universe references or it will never end.
<HollyhockGod> That's a road we could go down forever.
<Darryl_Collins> Plus they could still owe an Estate tax, which would sort the matter out in a jiffy.
<HollyhockGod> Today you're working on the assessment for Wednesday Nyambek, Power of Perspective.
<Vauncey> Which kind of perspective?
<HollyhockGod> All the kinds.
<HollyhockGod> At least I can't think of any use of the word that I wouldn't include here.
<HollyhockGod> He's most famous for his dedication to the Code of the Angels and for his vast art collection.
<Darryl_Collins> At least one of those things is taxable.
<HollyhockGod> Yeah, well, you're having trouble getting in to see it.
<HollyhockGod> Well, I guess technically you can't see either of them.
<Vauncey> Hopefully he can understand the importance of taxation to grease the wheels of society, in that case! Do we suspect he may be delinquent?
<HollyhockGod> You suspect everyone of being delinquent.
<HollyhockGod> So, yes.
<Vauncey> Good answer!
<HollyhockGod> What's really annoying is that he's throwing a big party to show off some new acquisitions that he's being really secretive about.
<HollyhockGod> As usual, you are not invited.
- HollyhockGod attempts to solve the problem of Nobilis games degenerating into endless tea party planning by making you social pariahs.
<Darryl_Collins> Well, I suppose we save on host gifts?
<Vauncey> Don't hate the player, hate the game.
<HollyhockGod> They hate the game too.
<Vauncey> Maybe we can just show up. How formal is it?
<HollyhockGod> It is… a masquerade!
<HollyhockGod> The best kind of party.
<Vauncey> Hmm, we can sneak in in disguise then. Is there a bouncer?
<Darryl_Collins> Are we allowed to crash parties?
<HollyhockGod> Who's stopping you?
<Vauncey> I don't think the party is official Noble business.
<HollyhockGod> Aside from the many, many bouncers.
<Darryl_Collins> Well, the obvious way to handle the bouncers is to wear both a masquerade mask and a mask bearing the image of someone actually invited underneath.
<Vauncey> How many people are invited, anyway?
<Sarabande> Do we know if another swarm of bees has been invited?
<HollyhockGod> Lots! And probably not.
<HollyhockGod> I mean, you never know.
<Sarabande> We should check!
<Sarabande> (I expect not. :-P )
<Sarabande> …hmm. Is that a Lesser Divination of Bees?
<HollyhockGod> …can you do that?
- HollyhockGod checks.
<Sarabande> I think so?
<HollyhockGod> Apparently you can!
<HollyhockGod> No, you're the only one.
<HollyhockGod> Just as well.
<HollyhockGod> If you had to call and ask I think the bees would suspect something.
<Sarabande> It seems likely!
<HollyhockGod> …I should have saved that joke for later.
<Darryl_Collins> Well, the other way past the bouncers is to rappel down from a helicopter, smash through the skylight and then disperse into the crowd.
<Sarabande> We would… probably be noticed being bees.
<Sarabande> "We could incarnate into the party, but it would be an effort for us."
<Vauncey> None of us have very good Estates to incarnate in, one supposes.
<HollyhockGod> Some of you pretty much already are audits incarnate.
<Sarabande> "The serving staff are likely cooperating."
<Vauncey> This is an official investigation, right? Supposing we display our credentials, could Sarabande get the bouncers to cooperate?
<Darryl_Collins> Alternatively, we could sneak Sarabande in by hiding them in flower bouquets.
- Sarabande buzzes happily. "Plan approved!"
<HollyhockGod> I guess either of those plans could work.
<HollyhockGod> Although the second one is funnier.
<Vauncey> Maybe Sarabande could wear a costume
<Vauncey> Or disguise themselves as a different type of animal, like wasps etc.
<HollyhockGod> Masks are extremely effective disguises!
- DukeGod (ksmi.9.771.5fa55041.18ce5ac6|tahcbew#ksmi.9.771.5fa55041.18ce5ac6|tahcbew) has joined
<DukeGod> (I tought we'd begin in like, half an hour?)
<Vauncey> 6 EST!
<Darryl_Collins> Alright. Let's coordinate our disguises so that we don't fall into the classic trap of not knowing who the other members of our team are.
<HollyhockGod> So, Sarabande gently removes Vauncey's cravat…
<Sarabande> wait what
<HollyhockGod> Whoops, too late.
<DukeGod> (I don't remember that, it was always 7:30.)
<HollyhockGod> It's always been 6EST!
<DukeGod> No, it hasn't.
- HollyhockGod needs to come up with some filthy bee jokes and save them for this sort of occasion.
<Vauncey> (No, it has definitely always been 6 EST.)
<Vauncey> (Though we are usually somewhat late.)
<DukeGod> (I always got in 20:30 in my local time and was on time. It's still half an hour early for that!)
<Vauncey> (Anyway, we are trying to sneak into a masquerade ball being held by the Power of Perspective, who is known for fine art, because he didn't invite us.)
<HollyhockGod> Also Vauncey and Sarabande are having dirty noncanonical bee activities.
<DukeGod> (I can see why someone who is known for fine art wouldn't invite us.)
<HollyhockGod> Please envision them and be horrified.
<HollyhockGod> Really, you implode one palace…
<HollyhockGod> And that didn't even have happen any longer!
<DukeGod> Did we ever change the regulations, by the way?
<HollyhockGod> What, the one about not imploding taxable property?
<DukeGod> Or is it still technically barely right to just destroy property that is being tax evaded?
<Sarabande> Noncanonical, I stress. :-P
<Vauncey> Well, it brings balance to the universe.
<Vauncey> But we prefer the kind of balance that gets us paid!
<HollyhockGod> Only you can tell me whether you altered them or not!
<DukeGod> Nomen certainly didn't.
- DukeGod is now known as Nomen
<Vauncey> What were we going to alter them to, again?
<Nomen> (Just tell me when it's okay to butt in.)
<Nomen> (Oh, wait, I know.)
- Nomen arrives on the whole stripping thing.
<Vauncey> (We're just hashing out the plan to get into the party, so anytime should be fine.)
<Nomen> "Well I see this Night is going to be TRULY magical." *eyebrow wiggling INTENSIFIES*
<Darryl_Collins> "Alright, everyone call your favorite animal mask."
<Nomen> "Wolf. Of course."
<Nomen> "The were kind, if possible."
<Vauncey> "I already have a gorilla mask, so I might as well put it to use. There aren't that many occasions to wear a gorilla mask."
<Darryl_Collins> "Very well. I shall wear the visage of an exasperated parrot."
<Nomen> "Did I ever tell you that one joke about the Portuguese?"
<HollyhockGod> They're never going to know it's you.
<Vauncey> "There's more than the one, isn't there?"
<Nomen> "A lot. Though none of them are as good a joke as us."
<Sarabande> "Make sure you bring bouquets. Once we are in, we should be able to keep out of sight while we search for clues."
<Nomen> (Portugese jokes are a kind of its own in Brazil.)
- Vauncey pulls on his gorilla mask. "I for one am quite serious," he protests. His voice is a bit muffled.
<Darryl_Collins> "So, here's the plan. We'll head into the party, mingle for a bit, and wait for him to start inviting people to see his collection. Once we see it, we can assess the value of the new acquisitions and send him a bill. Say, Perspective doesn't have any way to pierce high-quality masks like this, does he?"
<HollyhockGod> Masks are extremely effective disguises!
- Vauncey probably didn't need to put the mask on this early, but apparently is not going to pass up the opportunity.
<Nomen> *puts mask on* "Woof!"
- Darryl_Collins gives Nomen a strange look, then shrugs.
<Nomen> (He's in character.)
<HollyhockGod> So, you're going as a wolf, a gorilla, a parrot, and a set of flower arrangements?
<Vauncey> Whereabouts is this party, anyhow?
<Darryl_Collins> That does seem to be the plan, HG.
- HollyhockGod tries not to say "on the moon."
<Sarabande> I was assuming the flower arrangements would not be a separate guest. :-)
<HollyhockGod> It's ON THE MOON.
- HollyhockGod can't stop setting things on the moon.
<Sarabande> Makes sense!
<Nomen> Excellent place.
<Vauncey> How does one get to the moon, generally?
<Sarabande> Looking at Earth from the Moon puts things into perspective.
<Vauncey> Things have like changed considerably since I was there last.
<HollyhockGod> You might want a bit more swank, though.
<Nomen> I ask my Estate to kindly deposit us in the moon in a shower of stars of the most colorful kind.
<HollyhockGod> What level of miracle is that?
<Darryl_Collins> We could rent bicycles?
<Nomen> No clue, really.
<HollyhockGod> I guess you could use a Motion of Night to move you all from one slice of night to another patch.
<HollyhockGod> So, that's 2 MP.
<Nomen> Works for me!
<HollyhockGod> Thus, the Moon!
<HollyhockGod> The Moon is a giant castle carved from a single white stone in the general shape of an ivory rabbit.
<Nomen> "I'm gonna break character just for a second here. Aaah, the moon. Where I don't need to hold back on my destructive power!"
<HollyhockGod> It's amazing how many people don't notice this.
<HollyhockGod> Dammit, this is not Dragon Ball.
<Darryl_Collins> "Please do not blow up the moon."
<HollyhockGod> You are not allowed to destroy the moon.
<HollyhockGod> If Vauncey turns into a giant ape, you can destroy the moon.
<HollyhockGod> But only then.
<Nomen> Excellent! So you're saying there's a chance.
<Vauncey> I'm not falling for that again.
<Nomen> I wanna make a deal with the power of Giant Ape Transformation.
<Nomen> Is he at the party?
<Darryl_Collins> We won't know until we get in.
- HollyhockGod enacts the Affliction: It is impossible to destroy the moon, except to stop a giant ape.
- Vauncey cases the joint.
<HollyhockGod> So, the castle is a single white stone carved into a giant lapine fortress and studdent with a few million emeralds for a bit of contrast.
<Nomen> (Where is the Castle's west wing, just for kicks?)
<HollyhockGod> An elegant white carriage appears on the horizon (or whatever), drawn by two great swans.
<HollyhockGod> The castle is a sphere.
<HollyhockGod> Does the moon even have a magnetic field?
- HollyhockGod distracts Nomen with science questions.
<Nomen> (THAT IS NO MOON!)
<Nomen> (Now it's doomed. =D)
<Darryl_Collins> The moon has a very weak magnetic field!
<HollyhockGod> From within the gleaming vehicle alight two figures, one in silver and one in gold.
<HollyhockGod> Stop telling him things! We need to keep him distracted!
<HollyhockGod> Or get him to waste his DMP on frivolities.
<Vauncey> Are we back to full MP this session, by the by?
<Nomen> (If I mix them both together in a black hole do I get an electrum figure?)
<HollyhockGod> You are, yes.
<Vauncey> Excellent! In any case, I suppose we might as well watch the people in the swan carriage and see what they do.
- Vauncey follows behind them at some distance, looking like he belongs.
<Nomen> (If the answer is "Yes, you get an electrum figurine" I'm actually gonna help you and spend MP to do just that.)
- Darryl_Collins saunters in appropriately partyish fashion. He's very good at it due to his many years of experience as a talent scout!
<HollyhockGod> One is a man in a sparkling silver suit. His mask depicts the face of the moon and a trail of moonbows follows in his wake.
- Nomen jogs into the party while on all fours because. He. Does. Not. Break. Character.
<HollyhockGod> The other is a woman in solid gold, from her feet to the tips of her long linen gloves. Her mask is the sun, and meeting her shining eyes would be painful.
<HollyhockGod> Then there is a crackle of sparkling stars and the three of you appear, wearing a gorilla mask and pretending to be a wolf.
<HollyhockGod> And so forth.
<HollyhockGod> You exchange a look.
- Vauncey buffs his nails on his lapel.
- Darryl_Collins coughs and pretends not to have noticed the difference.
- Sarabande hides, for their presence should not be noted at this point!
<HollyhockGod> The sun and moon decide to ignore this intrusion and vanish into the party.
<HollyhockGod> The guards (dressed as playing cards) part to let them in.
<Darryl_Collins> Alright, so maybe the guards also won't notice the difference. Let's just sashay up.
- Vauncey shoots a charming smile at the guards as he approaches, except it is hidden because he is wearing a gorilla mask.
<Nomen> "Woof!" just walks in too
<Nomen> (By the way, I did consider both sniffin' Lady Sun's rear and peeing on the guards but did none. FYI.)
<HollyhockGod> I am choosing to delete this last statement from canon.
<HollyhockGod> Either way, this strategy works, although the guards look very unhappy.
<Darryl_Collins> Our grand plot proceeds unabated!
<Nomen> Truly, a genius plan.
<HollyhockGod> You pass into an entrance hall approximately the size of Times Square, looking down into vast floors of galleries beneath you, all bedecked with art objects.
<HollyhockGod> Also there are quite a lot of guests, all of them as expensively dressed as the sun and moon.
<Darryl_Collins> If it helps, my tie is extremely expensive.
<Nomen> (Oooh, man, that's gotta be awkward.)
<HollyhockGod> You especially appreciate the woman who appears to be an old woman or a young woman depending which eye you look with.
<Nomen> (Bet everyone thought it was clever coming in as the sun and moon.)
<Nomen> (That's the Power of Perspective, I bet!)
<Darryl_Collins> Alright, so, mingling. We mingle.
<Darryl_Collins> Holding, you know, flower bouquets.
<Vauncey> "Keep your eyes out, lads." Vauncey murmurs, then breaks off the blend in with the crowd, looking for expensive undocumented goods that might raise the assessed value of the estate. Things like an open bar. Is there an open bar?
<Sarabande> As the mingling occurs, highly-trained Scouting Bees emerge to look around, dashing from cover to cover and keeping out of sight!
<HollyhockGod> There's a fountain from which pure ambrosia cascades in gentle rivulets.
<Sarabande> err, assuming it wouldn't be rude and noticeable to do an Aspect miracle at a party, anyway :-)
<HollyhockGod> And some silver cups studded with pearls. I guess you can just take one?
<HollyhockGod> People are looking at you.
<HollyhockGod> Except the bees. The swarm of bees is the only one not attracting attention.
<Darryl_Collins> I think that really just goes to show you how messed-up modern priorities are.
- Vauncey fills a cup of ambrosia and lifts it in a toast to the onlookers before taking a sip. He is very good at drinking while wearing a gorilla mask and it is moderately impressive.
- Nomen has quit (Ping timeout: 272 seconds)
- Vauncey says nothing, however, preserving his mystique. "Who is that mysterious man in the gorilla mask?" they are surely saying.
- Darryl_Collins sidles up to someone wearing an expensive designer costume and carefully places his extremely fine tie in profile.
<HollyhockGod> This person is dressed as the face of a clock. He looks down at you while ticking his hands forward.
<Darryl_Collins> "Ahem. Yes, well. What a fine night this is, eh? A very good time for all. What a chance to wind down."
<HollyhockGod> "Indeed," says the clock man. "In fact… we were just about to start the party games."
<HollyhockGod> He said, sinisterly.
<Darryl_Collins> "Ah. You mean, bob for apples, pin-the-tail, global thermonuclear war, style of thing?"
- Vauncey finds an expensive-looking painting and inspects it at a respectful distance, holding his pearl-studded glass. He activates his TAX-PAY VISION, assessing its worth and how much is outstanding. After a moment, he leans over and murmurs to a large fish standing beside him, "I prefer his later work, but it has a certain rawness."
<HollyhockGod> "I agree," says the painting, and walks away. Whoops! It looks like that was actually a guest.
- DukeGod (ksmi.49.771.b5a55041.d30f5ac6|tahcbew#ksmi.49.771.b5a55041.d30f5ac6|tahcbew) has joined
- DukeGod is now known as Nomen
<Nomen> (crashed there, what happeneD?)
<Vauncey> ( hehe )
<Sarabande> (what's the last thing you saw? shall PM you the words)
<HollyhockGod> "The orgy is right through here," says the clock man.
<Nomen> (we entered, there were suns and moons everywhere)
<HollyhockGod> His hands grow larger and horrifyingly suggestive.
- HollyhockGod aborts this train of thought.
<HollyhockGod> Actually, he says:
<HollyhockGod> "I think we have something more sophisticated in mind. I don't know if you've ever played two old cat?"
<Darryl_Collins> "No, I've…"
- Darryl_Collins stops, paralyzed for a moment by the memories of all the horrible after-parties for new teen singing sensations he's attended in his life.
<Darryl_Collins> "…never had the pleasure."
<HollyhockGod> You find yourself being led into an all-too-familiar side room for party games.
<Nomen> (Is that an actual game?)
<HollyhockGod> Well, okay, this room is actually a to-scale replica of the Phoenix Theater in Venice.
<HollyhockGod> "The rules are simple. The dealer places the token object in the center of the room, and the players attempt to capture it without breaking anything."
<HollyhockGod> The other players wave. Oh, how their fanciness mocks you!
<Nomen> (Do we lose LESS if we just surrender?)
<HollyhockGod> You might keep your dignity.
<HollyhockGod> Or, you know, some of it.
- Darryl_Collins stands strong, resolute in the knowledge that his tie was $179 on SALE.
<Nomen> (This game is rigged!)
<Darryl_Collins> "So, why is it called 'two old cats', then?"
<HollyhockGod> The clock man stares down, resolute in the knowledge that with every tick of his hands (he's still doing it), someone dies of cancer.
- HollyhockGod gives up attempting to figure out how many people die every second in a hurry.
<HollyhockGod> "It is an ancient tradition."
<HollyhockGod> Someone begins counting down.
<HollyhockGod> The players eagerly take their positions around the circle.
- Darryl_Collins rubs his hands together.
<HollyhockGod> The dealer throws a gorilla into the center of the circle.
<HollyhockGod> It beats its chest in rage.
- Darryl_Collins whips a book out from his briefcase and begins furiously writing.
<HollyhockGod> Some people try half-heartedly to corral the gorilla with winds and winsome glances, but it leaps upon Darryl with a roar.
<Darryl_Collins> "Argh! No, I'm almost through the favorable review provision!"
<HollyhockGod> You are beaten savagely by an angry gorilla!
<Vauncey> "Ah, my now!" Vauncey presses his now-empty cup upon a nearby partygoer with an apologetic glance that does not communicate through his rubber mask, then dives into the crowd to reach Darryl. "Just a minute there!" he objects, laying a hand on the gorilla's shoulder.
<HollyhockGod> The gorilla is wearing a very expensive mask. I just thought of that.
<Vauncey> What kind of mask is it?
<HollyhockGod> The gorilla is momentarily arrested!
<HollyhockGod> A human mask.
- Vauncey jabs a finger in the gorilla's face. It is rather taller than he is. "Now you listen here, if you want a fight I can show you a thing or two!"
<Darryl_Collins> "Just hold it for a moment, Vauncey!"
- Darryl_Collins scrabbles for his book and pencil and continues his fevered writing.
<HollyhockGod> The people who were actually playing this game look at you in silent miff.
<Vauncey> The gorilla started it. :(
<Vauncey> I mean…the human.
<Darryl_Collins> Indeed, but I am going to finish it.
<Darryl_Collins> You see, I've written extremely favorable processes and rules for gorillas into the Regulations as a result of our powerful links to that ape family.
<Darryl_Collins> Thus, regulatory capture.
<Vauncey> Regorillatory capture.
- Vauncey remains in a tense standoff with the gorilla until Darryl resolves the situation. Or until something else happens. It's wide open!
<HollyhockGod> The ape is unable to read your regulations.
<HollyhockGod> It continues to beat you savagely about the head.
<HollyhockGod> On the bright side I guess you win.
<Nomen> What is in the room?
<Nomen> Other than the gorilla
<Darryl_Collins> In that case I shall use a Lesser Enchantment of Audits to make myself always painful to beat savagely.
<HollyhockGod> Partygoers, theater seats, art objects.
<HollyhockGod> The gorilla ceases to beat you and careens off, howling.
<HollyhockGod> It threatens to totter into a probably-valuable vase!
<Sarabande> IN THE NICK OF TIME, some bees fly out to move the vase!
<Sarabande> This is helpful!
<Sarabande> Wait, why are there bees here?
<Vauncey> Seeing that Sarabande has it well in hand, Vauncey merely assesses the unpaid tax value of the vase.
<Nomen> (Charge extra, it is now rarer 'cause it's been beehandled.)
<HollyhockGod> It's about seven thousand buddhitanka.
<Vauncey> Good to know! How are we mingling so far?
<HollyhockGod> Meanwhile: "Hmm. Bees. My god." says someone.
<Vauncey> Are people disgruntled about the gorilla thing?
<HollyhockGod> Well, everybody's looking at you, which was the important thing.
<Darryl_Collins> I'd say we're the life of the party!
<HollyhockGod> Oh, wait, no.
<HollyhockGod> Also you have a concussion.
- Sarabande pretends to be a work of art.
<HollyhockGod> Sarabande notices, out of the corner of her eyes, that out in the main room the guards are shutting the gates and barring them.
<Sarabande> One that juxtaposes the fragility of things such as expensive vases with the surprising power hidden in such apparently fragile forms as lots of bees.
<Darryl_Collins> Okay. Can I spend one MP to use a greater Emulation of Audits so that this party game is hopefully for the best?
- Vauncey slings an arm around Darryl's shoulder and looks back at the onlooking crowd. "That's how we do it where I come from," he says, and grins. You can't actually see him grin, but you can tell, in your heart.
<Darryl_Collins> Well, not the party game.
<Darryl_Collins> More me getting concussed by the party game.
<Sarabande> HollyhockGod: Main gates, right? Not locking us in this room?
<Vauncey> On the same note, I will use a Lesser Sacrifice of Taxes to remove the property of us being burdensome and invidious.
<Vauncey> Assuming we are.
<Vauncey> If not, we just become less so.
<HollyhockGod> Yeah, you're just being locked in the party.
<Vauncey> I see, it's one of THOSE parties.
<Sarabande> That's totally not a problem.
<HollyhockGod> Darryl feels great! It ought to be called a greatcussion.
<Sarabande> But I inform the others, using the Inconspicuous Shoulderbee Method
<HollyhockGod> Stern playing cards begin to close in on your position.
<Darryl_Collins> "We may need to strategically relocate deeper into the party."
<Vauncey> Do they seem to be closing on us specifically, or the partygoers in general?
<HollyhockGod> I think it's you.
- Nomen barks at the cards.
<HollyhockGod> It's possible they've figured out you don't belong.
<HollyhockGod> Although your masks will protect your identities!
- Vauncey murmurs to the others to blend in, and goes to speak with the guards.
<Vauncey> "What seems to be the problem here, gents?"
- Sarabande represents the beauty inherent in impermanent things seeking permanence despite its unattainability.
- Darryl_Collins can't help but admire the obeejet d'art.
<HollyhockGod> "I can't help but notice," says a voice from behind you, "that you don't seem to have been invited."
<HollyhockGod> You turn around, but fail to find anybody.
<HollyhockGod> "You do not, as it were… harmonize."
<HollyhockGod> The voice continues to be behind you regardless of your position.
<HollyhockGod> Standing back-to-back doesn't help!
- Nomen stands on two feet and dramtically throws his mask aaway
<Vauncey> "An unfortunate oversight," Vauncey admits, "But this is quite a lovely party, so I don't hold it against our host."
- Vauncey speaks softly so as not to undermine Nomen's dramatic revelation.
<Nomen> "Indeed. And are not invitations merely a matter of perspetive?"
<Darryl_Collins> "Parties always have mysterious party-crashers. So in a way, we were invited."
<HollyhockGod> "I like to think we run on the honor system."
<Nomen> "Quite perspicable of your part!"
<HollyhockGod> "Speaking of honor, please choose your seconds."
<Nomen> "So, you'll see us duel?"
<Nomen> (ah okay)
<Nomen> (I'l lgo back to dramatic)
- Vauncey chooses the gorilla in the human mask, to extend an olive branch. Failing that, Darryl.
<Nomen> "Well, the point of a second, is to make sure there is no cheating. And i will trust only one man with that"
<Nomen> "I SUMMON LORD ENTROPY TO BE MY SECOND!"
<HollyhockGod> "Excellent. Then I shall choose the weapons."
- Sarabande watches for foul play!
<Sarabande> (while representing, uh)
<HollyhockGod> Butlers dressed as playing cards hand Vauncey a gleaming silver rapier.
- Vauncey inspects the rapier approvingly. Very nice; looks expensive.
<Sarabande> (the contrast between a permanent work of art and the changing, ephemeral nature of amusements such as watching duels and arguments)
<HollyhockGod> "We shall fight to incapacitation. My dignity will accept nothing less."
<Nomen> (Soo, it's 1 one 1 in turns?)
<HollyhockGod> Yeah! Vauncey versus that guy! Mano-a-mano!
<Vauncey> The guy who is behind you all the time?
<HollyhockGod> Yeah, him.
<Vauncey> Very well!
<HollyhockGod> He's probably Wednesday.
<HollyhockGod> Everybody forms a circle around Vauncey and also the other guy, probably.
<HollyhockGod> They helpfully turn their backs so the other guy can be on the right side of the circle.
<HollyhockGod> Otherwise this duel would just be needlessly confusing.
<HollyhockGod> Anyway, the party has finally gotten interesting!
<HollyhockGod> "En garde!" says the voice!
<HollyhockGod> It sounds like the voice of a heavily armed man standing behind you with a grudge.
- Vauncey slips into a fencing stance, rapier pointing forward. After a moment's thought, he holds the rapier behind him instead. Rather difficult, that.
<HollyhockGod> The other guy cuts off your head!
<Vauncey> I should think not! I quite object to such treatment.
<HollyhockGod> Oh, you say? Whatcha gonna do, then?
<Nomen> (Don't worrty, that's no really lethal for Nobles)
- Vauncey uses an Aspect 2 miracle to imbue his derring-do with impossible prowess, enabling him to parry a blow even from behind! Then, having that ability, he uses it to not get his head cut off.
<HollyhockGod> You succeed in not getting your head cut off.
<HollyhockGod> But man, that guy's strength is incredible!
<HollyhockGod> You are thrown back by the force of the blow you parry into the gorilla.
<HollyhockGod> …great, now you've set the gorilla off again.
- Vauncey apologizes profusely but quickly to the gorilla, rising to his feet in a flash. He squints into the sheen of his sword, using it to look behind him.
<Vauncey> Can I see the fellow behind me in the reflection?
<HollyhockGod> You can!
<HollyhockGod> Dang, that guy is ripped. You can't fit all his muscles into one sword-width.
<HollyhockGod> He appears to be dressed as… you can't figure out what. It's awful and he's mostly naked.
<Vauncey> What mask is he wearing?
<HollyhockGod> I think it might be a banana.
<HollyhockGod> It's like he has some kind of weird mystic shortcoming where all his tastelessness was condensed into himself.
<Nomen> (Hey. his eyes are up there!)
<Vauncey> How far behind me is he?
<HollyhockGod> Not far enough.
<Darryl_Collins> I believe in you, Vauncey!
<HollyhockGod> His sword is inches away from the small of your back.
<HollyhockGod> Also he has a rapier.
- Vauncey crouches, then springs into the balcony, soaring through the air like a rocket and landing in a crouch before picking himself up and dusting himself off.
- Vauncey then turns away, so his back is to the edge of the balcony.
<Vauncey> (Aspect 4 miracle there)
<HollyhockGod> There is a crashing noise from below.
<HollyhockGod> And a bellow.
<HollyhockGod> …I think he landed on the gorilla.
<HollyhockGod> There's a yell of rage, and then a bellow of rage that grows… louder.
- Vauncey lifts his sword, watching the reflection closely. Wait, there are a couple other people on this balcony. He gives them an apologetic look that does not communicate through the gorilla mask.
<HollyhockGod> You peek behind you to see the gorilla, now pretty much murderous, growing to fill the room, with its giant eyes fixed on you.
<HollyhockGod> Silly Perspective! This wasn't a miracles duel!
<Darryl_Collins> "Foul! Foul!"
<HollyhockGod> That gorilla doesn't even have a sword.
- Vauncey turns around to face the gorilla. It seems proper, and all.
<HollyhockGod> The ape reaches out a hand to grab you, King Kong style.
- Nomen throws some pricelss art at the back of the gorilla
- Vauncey permits himself to be grabbed, as he is an immaculate guest.
<Vauncey> Is this Perspective, or just his work?
<HollyhockGod> I think he expanded the gorilla.
<HollyhockGod> The ape roars in triumph, and swings out into the main hall.
<HollyhockGod> He begins climbing down the layers of balconies with you in tow.
<HollyhockGod> If Sarabande could act out the part of the helicopters, that would be convenient.
- Vauncey takes this opportunity to scrutinize the ape. Does it seem to be delinquent on its taxes? (Persona 0)
<Sarabande> What, buzzing around and achieving nothing?
- Sarabande does that!
<HollyhockGod> It's an ape! You aren't a tax gatherer to apes!
<HollyhockGod> …are you?
<Vauncey> Apes benefit from the bees' pollination of the world tree, given that they live in the world.
<Vauncey> I should think they aren't allowed to be free riders, or else everyone would just become an ape as a tax shelter.
<Nomen> "Wait! I have an idea."
- Vauncey waits!
<Nomen> "Darryl, let me see the Regulations, quick!"
<HollyhockGod> Well, I mean, if he was the king of the apes.
<Vauncey> If we don't have any ape taxes, we should certainly add some.
<HollyhockGod> But he doesn't want to walk like you or talk like you!
<Nomen> "We don't have time for this! Just give me the book!"
<Darryl_Collins> "You're just going to blow up the moon again, I know it!"
<Nomen> "Why would I need the book of regulations to do that?"
- Darryl_Collins sighs and throws the book at Nomen.
- Nomen opens a giant black hole at the center of the moon, and throws the book in as soon as he can.
- Vauncey watches to see where this is going.
<HollyhockGod> A great vasty nothingness opens at the lowest floor of the gallery.
- Vauncey also watches the ape. His attention is divided.
<Nomen> (That's 2 DMP to make a Creation miracle, I think.)
<Nomen> "See? I didn't actually need the book; I just wanted to make sure it was gone."
<HollyhockGod> It's 4. You might have to shift a few but whatever.
<Darryl_Collins> "THAT ISN'T THE ONLY COPY OF THE BOOK, NOMEN."
- Sarabande buzzes in surprise. "Is there a regulation about destruction of the regulations?"
<Nomen> "…in that case…the extra mass helps."
<HollyhockGod> A howling wind screams through as art objects, guests, and also all the air in the room as sucking into the gaping singularity.
<Nomen> "We need to evacuate the moon, by the way."
<Darryl_Collins> "How are we going to tax this?!"
<Nomen> "Roaming charges for moving priceless art across several galaxies."
<HollyhockGod> "Cneph damn it," says a voice behind you. "It's the tax-men."
- Sarabande makes an angry noise.
<Sarabande> "Tax nobles, thank you."
<Nomen> "Also, THAT RIGHT THERE IS A GIANT APE!"
<HollyhockGod> "I am going to plug this hole," says Wednesday. "And then, vengeance."
<Nomen> "I'M ALLOWED TO DESTROY THE MOON!"
<Vauncey> "I believe he's technically correct," admits Vauncey. He's very high up, so probably only the giant ape hears him.
<HollyhockGod> …maybe you guys should hightail it out of there?
<Vauncey> One moment.
<Vauncey> Lots of taxable goods are being sucked into the black hole, right?
<HollyhockGod> Oh, yeah, wow. Lots.
<Vauncey> Would making it so that the black hole takes taxable things to our vaults be Greater Motion of Taxes, or Greater Creation, Summoning and Animation of Taxes?
<Vauncey> What say ye?
<Nomen> (Talk about a dangerous combo!)
- HollyhockGod thinks.
<HollyhockGod> That sounds like an Animation.
<HollyhockGod> You're moving taxes directly toward your vaults.
<Darryl_Collins> Great success!
<Vauncey> Ah, good, I can manage that, then.
- Vauncey bursts into a flaming Aura of Taxation, and reaches out with his free hand and subtly manipulates the fabric of the taxosphere, ensuring that things flow to their rightful places.
<HollyhockGod> Can you manage to escape from the giant ape before you're torn apart?
<Vauncey> I don't know, is he trying to tear me apart?
<HollyhockGod> You aren't a taxable good so you'll probably just die if you fall in.
<HollyhockGod> I think he's falling toward the inescapable event horizon.
<Vauncey> Oh, from the black hole. Yes, that's an issue.
<Vauncey> Well, in any case, first things first.
<Vauncey> 4 MP for Divine Mantle and 4 MP for the Greater Animation of Taxes.
<Nomen> "Darryl! I have an idea. We'll make a rope out of pages torn from the Regulations!"
<HollyhockGod> You destroyed the Regulations!
<Nomen> He said we have copies.
<Vauncey> I don't suppose Nomen could close the black hole at this point?
<Vauncey> That would be excellent.
<Nomen> Truth be told, that would mean spending DMPs.
<Nomen> Of which I have none left, I think.
<Darryl_Collins> Can I use some level of Sacrifice of Audits to take away the dharma of 'means something bad, if you fail' from falling into this black hole?
<Darryl_Collins> Fail to escape, that is.
<Nomen> Oh wait, the good news is, I do have MP.
<Nomen> And it might be enough to pull it off!
<HollyhockGod> That would probably be a major sacrifice.
<Nomen> Nevermind, can't be done.
- Sarabande can just fly away IN THE NICK OF TIME.
<Nomen> Thankfully, the black hole should have enouigh gravity to still affect the seas.
<Sarabande> However, we desire to help the others somehow…
<Nomen> So, disaster averted!
<Vauncey> In principle I could make everything taxable, so it all ends up in our vaults.
<HollyhockGod> Even the guests?
<Vauncey> That would work in a pinch but puts us back where we were before.
<HollyhockGod> You don't want them in the vaults!
<Vauncey> One imagines!
<Vauncey> But…yes, that is the issue.
<Darryl_Collins> No, I shall do this Greater Sacrifice.
<Nomen> I cut my black hole and start opposing my own miracle!
<Darryl_Collins> And we shall all plummet into the black hole but it won't be a bad thing, really.
<Vauncey> I suppose I could make a case for Hawking radiation being a kind of tax on black holes, and increase it to the point where the black hole evaporates instantly.
<Vauncey> That would be rather a lot of radiation, though.
<HollyhockGod> You cannot cut the black hole because there is still a giant ape.
<HollyhockGod> Instead you all fall in.
<Nomen> Okay, wait.
<Vauncey> Ah, well.
<Nomen> I have my own gravitational field.
<Vauncey> I had better make us taxable, then.
<Vauncey> Lesser Creation of Taxes!
<HollyhockGod> You pass through the event horizon and are pulled to bits!
<HollyhockGod> You die.
<HollyhockGod> Somehow it alls works out for the best.
<HollyhockGod> You awaken in the morning locked in your own vaults.
<Vauncey> Oh right, I didn't specify that things don't die before they end up in the vaults.
<Nomen> I'm Immortal.
<HollyhockGod> It all worked out in the end!
<HollyhockGod> Because of the reason.
- Vauncey takes off his gorilla mask and looks around the vaults.
<HollyhockGod> Your vaults are filled with insane wealth.
<Nomen> "Woo, that was a party to die for!"
<HollyhockGod> It's a good thing they're really damn big because you have most of the moon in here.
<HollyhockGod> In pieces.
<Darryl_Collins> "Well done, Vauncey. I should think we'll be getting more invites after this one!"
<HollyhockGod> Also an endless array of art treasures.
<Vauncey> We should probably redistribute the moon according to need.
<Nomen> "It had EVERYTHING! Monsters, chases, miracles, swordfighting, miracles, torture."
<HollyhockGod> Meanwhile a sucking blackness hovers in the sky where the full moon once hung.
<Nomen> "…I'll fix that tomorrow."
- Vauncey gives Darryl a thumbs-up. "That wasn't ideal, but it's not at all the worst party I've been to." He sighs and looks around. "Anyone have any ideas on getting out of here?"