Eighth Story - Bargaining

<Hollyhock God> I leave it up to you whether you wanted to use the "Noble bachelor auction" plot or advance someone's Project.

<Grayson> Haven't we driven Miranda crazy enough in recent weeks?

<Immanuel> I think Miranda should visit a spa or something.

<Immanuel> All this stress can't be good for her complexion.

<Hollyhock God> We could send her to that spa from my old campaign.

<Hollyhock God> The one with the brain hats.

<Dreams> Oh! Yes, I recall the one. Heh.

<Immanuel> (Cue mandatory bath house anime episode.)

<Miranda> I'm immortal and thus immune to things that would change my complexion.

<Dreams> "Ladies and gentlemen, I don't mean to alarm you, but there is a towel thief in the building!"

<Immanuel> This includes smiling, I take it?

<Hollyhock God> So, does Immanuel want to work on a Project, then? I appreciate that you'd have troubles in a bachelor auction, being a scaly beast.

<Dreams> Oh, Phasael, you're such a rascal.

<Miranda> The bachelor auction does sound fun.

<Immanuel> Don't be absurd. Everyone wants a dragon.

<Immanuel> I also object to being referenced as a beast.

<Miranda> Miranda for her part is busy doing divinations, trying to figure out exactly how Praxael died.

<Hollyhock God> Interesting? How are these divinations carried out?

<Hollyhock God> Also, my divinations inform me that Immanuel is a beast. I reference his eating all the chairs in the South Dining Room to support my case.

<Immanuel> Anyone could've done that.

<Immanuel> Regardless of beast status.

<Dreams> Presumably the Angel of Shields had a shield handy at his final moments?

<Miranda> Precisely so.

<Grayson> It's not his fault the chairs had gold leaf on them.

<Miranda> He was, presumably, pretty heavily shielded.

<Miranda> Those can be talked to.

<Hollyhock God> In spite of your mastery of all things defensive, past and future, looking into the Spirit World is hard.

<Hollyhock God> What with the lack of causality and proper time and such.

<Dreams> Psch. Causality is for chumps.

<Immanuel> I feel the same way.

<Miranda> At the very least, it can be determined whether they were shattered or somehow evaded.

<Hollyhock God> But as you stare into your mirror-shield, you get fragmentary, unpleasant visions of lovely faces and dark starscapes.

<Hollyhock God> And sharp, sharp weapons.

<Hollyhock God> Figures in the distance rush to your aid, but they won't arrive there in time, insofar as that concept is meaningful here.

<Hollyhock God> That seems to be all the data you're getting with this approach.

<Miranda> Interesting.

<Immanuel> Hmm, if Miranda's complexion cannot change, is she immune to cosmetics? Or does that necessitate cosmetics?

<Miranda> Need a new approach for that sweet, sweet Revelation. Need to figure out how his shields failed him.

<Grayson> Hmmm. We do have something that was once an Abhorrent Weapon.

<Immanuel> This seems like it would be more Brother Secret's forte.

<Grayson> Perhaps it was present when Praxael was slain?

<Immanuel> Possibly. But aren't there something like 500 Abhorrent Weapons?

<Miranda> We don't know that. Doesn't that make it secret?

<Grayson> Potentially.

<Dreams> I think there's a distinction between 'the unknown' and 'secret'. The latter implies a deliberate intention behind keeping something unknown, yeah?

<Hollyhock God> The number of Abhorrent Weapons is unknown, much like the number of Excrucians. Or Estates, for that matter.

<Dreams> Of course Grayson would be the expert.

<Grayson> I mean, the Sword presumably knows.

<Hollyhock God> Now is the time for a Struggle!

<Immanuel> That depends upon whether someone is concealing it I should think. A question no one has bothered to ask isn't strictly a secret, is it?

<Grayson> It's not very interested in talking with us, so the question is whether we can thus say anything it knows is a secret.

<Hollyhock God> Investigate this conundrum, and seize it's Personal Destiny for Secrets!

<Miranda> Dunno. The secret of the Grail was a question Percival had failed to ask when he had the chance.

<Grayson> I'm inclined to argue that anything that someone wouldn't tell you if you asked them is certainly a secret, regardless of their reason for not telling you.

<Dreams> Mmmm.

<Grayson> (Some things you would be told if you asked may also be secrets.)

<Miranda> Well, actually, I'm hoping to push this into Project Destiny. Trying to figure out as much as possible about how he went down as part of trying to get him back. Don't really understand Imperial physiology- but we do know "Death" doesn't mean exactly the same thing to them as it does to us.

<Hollyhock God> Or that it just takes them harder.

<Grayson> Well, I could start by trying a divination on the Sword.

<Hollyhock God> Perhaps he's become a Neverborn!

<Immanuel> ….Did we ever determine the status of his remains?

<Miranda> Secretly.

<Dreams> Well, his physical body is kept in the chancel while alive. Presumably we've still got it.

<Hollyhock God> I'm not sure what happens if you die in the Spirit World.

  • Dreams decides he's working on plans for a proper tomb/monument structure, if nobody else is involving him in any of their projects.

<Dreams> Tomb if we've got the body, monument if not.

<Hollyhock God> We're also not sure if anybody got his miraculous energy and spun it into a Mimic or not.

<Dreams> Schrodinger's Masoleum if it's indeterminate!

<Miranda> And the Chancel is, in a spiritual sense, part of the body of an enchancelled Ymera.

<Grayson> Hmm. Is a corpse animate in the mythic?

<Hollyhock God> No, but the parts of it are.

<Dreams> To the extent that everything is animate? It's the spirit of the corpse, though, not the spirit of the person.

<Hollyhock God> See the flore for The Corpse.

<Dreams> Or, er, that's how I'd rule if I were HG.

<Immanuel> Perhaps we should find out the exact status re: his body.

<Miranda> We had trouble with that when we went to the land of the dead.

<Hollyhock God> I suppose there is in fact a body.

<Miranda> Presumably we found that out before the funeral

<Hollyhock God> And a spirit, probably in the netherworlds somewhere.

<Immanuel> (Not to be confused with The Netherlands)

<Hollyhock God> And possibly an Imperial bounty of causa causans, possibly turned into a Mimic or drained via the Rite of Anguish.

<Miranda> (Could be. Don't be biased.)

  • Dreams sketches a few vaguely Taj Mahal-inspired designs, finds himself distracted considering how the Ship of Theseus paradox works mythically.

<Immanuel> (I have trouble imagining a world populated by ghosts, tulips, and clogs.)

<Dreams> (Echoing wooden footsteps follow you.)

<Immanuel> Well, I think reclaiming our Father would be an excellent prospect.

<Immanuel> To the extent we are able.

<Grayson> Could a Mimic made from Praxael's essence have different Estates, or would it necessarily be the Imperator of our Estates?

<Lafing_Cat> I'd be worried about Zombie Imperators, if we just brought ours back.

  • Miranda maaaaaaaaaaay have started a Project to that effect.

<Immanuel> (Time and Tide wait for no man.)

  • Miranda maaaaaaaaaaay have started a Project to that effect seven stories ago.

<Dan> (Laundry doesn't either.)

<Grayson> We could talk to Imperators that have died and come back

<Immanuel> (It was a pun. You know, Tide? Ah, forget it!)

<Dan> (Oh yes, that is a brand of detergent, isn't it. Quite droll.)

<Hollyhock God> A Mimic might well appear different from Praxael.

  • Miranda has been trying to do that for five stories.

<Hollyhock God> ….perhaps someone you already know!

<Miranda> Hey, let's go do that now.

<Immanuel> It was hard to tell between all the frowning and admonishments, dear Sister.

<Dreams> Presumably not somebody who has been around longer than Praxael's death?

  • Miranda frowns and admonishes Fire.

<Immanuel> My scales are frown-resistant.

<Miranda> But not admonish-proof.

<Immanuel> Not yet.

<Miranda> Go ahead. Shield yourself from my frowns. We'll see how far that gets you.

<Miranda> *ahem*

<Miranda> Now, where were we?

<Hollyhock God> Good question.

<Hollyhock God> Is this all IC?

  • Immanuel ponders if he can make Miranda shield him from her own frowns.

<Miranda> It's… half-IC!

  • Dreams is in the villa he's claimed, working on monument designs, enjoying a moment of being blissfully uninterrupted by Familia.

<Immanuel> (Picture Rook and Marsiglio bickering.)

<Miranda> So our options now are: 1) Go looking into how Prax died. 2) Go talk to somebody who's come back from being dead. Did Phoenix do that? 3) Bachelor auction.

<Hollyhock God> So, do you want to go and talk to sound-serpents, or should I introduce the bachelor auction plot?

<Hollyhock God> Or find some devilishly-contrived way to combine the two?

<Miranda> Ooh! Ooh! That one!

<Immanuel> The sound-serpent buys us all!

<Dan> Let's bachelor-auction off resurrected people.

<Dreams> Let's ignore all possible dramatic plot and go out for ice cream!

<Miranda> ("Lazarus is 2042 years old, a craftsman from Judea, likes long walks on the beach, composes his own music- and ladies, he's single!")

<Grayson> Please, Dreams, this is Venice.

<Grayson> We'll go out for gelato.

<Miranda> We already did that with sandwiches.

<Dreams> Hence why we would go out.

<Hollyhock God> I guess you'll have to request an audience with the Serpent of Radar, then. Better write a letter

<Immanuel> ("Dear Radar, we are your biggest fans…")

<Miranda> (Dear Serpent of Radar, How are you? Hope you are well. We heard about your recent unfortunate brush with being dead…..)

  • Miranda writes a letter.

<Hollyhock God> Since you're you, I'll assume it doesn't say that.

<Miranda> (Thanks.)

<Grayson> (Or we could just get someone we don't like to sing its name.)

<Immanuel> Casually mention I'm a dragon. by the way.

<Immanuel> No, we don't all know each other. Racists.

<Hollyhock God> I really need to introduce some kind of Cleave for Powers who are self-confessed monstrous beasts for Immanuel to refuse to join.

<Miranda> (Why would you know each- oh, are you implying that I should be assuming that serpents hang out with dragons?)

<Dreams> Psch. Aaron's Serpents are much cooler than Dragons.

<Immanuel> (What? I'd be their president. I came up with the idea, sir.)

<Immanuel> (An Anti-Defamation League for monsters. We send nasty letters to producers of kaiju movies.)

<Dreams> (I thought you didn't consider yourself a monster.)

<Hollyhock God> Seriously, make up your mind.

<Hollyhock God> Are you an abomination against Cneph or aren't you?

<Immanuel> (Of course I'm a monster. I'm just not a beast. What is this, the pound?)

<Grayson> (We've got a little bit of Cneph, we could ask it…)

<Hollyhock God> Monsters only in the Cleave of Thistles.

<Immanuel> I have a pedigree.

<Dreams> ("who are self-confessed monstrous beasts for Immanuel to refuse to join")

<Immanuel> Beasts is our word. You're not allowed to use it.

<Miranda> A pedegree from Illinois.

<Immanuel> Bologna. Do try and keep up.

<Miranda> You grew up in Illinois.

<Hollyhock God> Yes. The Groke, the Hellebore, the Questing Beast, Kyubey, Mother Dismantle, all kinds of beastly things.

<Immanuel> Born in Bologna. Italian-citizenship.

<Grayson> But bologna sandwiches were his favorite.

<Dreams> Oh god, Kyubey?

<Immanuel> In fact being a citizen of an EU country makes me a citizen in all EU countries for most purposes.

<Miranda> You're full of blogna.

<Dreams> Power of Contracts, I assume?

<Hollyhock God> It's hard to tell because it's difficult to find him if you aren't a Cleave member or a little girl.

<Hollyhock God> And it's hard to ask question of Cleave members because most of them can't talk.

  • Dreams is kind of the living embodiment of the foundation upon which that cleave is built.

<Hollyhock God> I'm not even sure how Mother Dismantle joined.

<Dreams> But fair point!

  • Dreams is more interested OOC than IC.

<Hollyhock God> I'd assume he's Wishes or Desire, since that's his power source.

<Immanuel> Of course they can talk. Grunting and howling are perfectly valid forms of communication.

<Miranda> Right. So.

<Miranda> Ahem.

<Hollyhock God> You were writing a letter.

  • Immanuel fills out his membership form for acceptance into the monster's Cleave.

<Miranda> Right. Did that.

<Miranda> I have no idea what Noble letter-writing etiquette is.

<Hollyhock God> But what did it say?

<Hollyhock God> When in doubt, flaunt.

<Miranda> No, Miranda would know, I don't.

<Grayson> Well, the first few pages are probably a list of Radar's various Estates and titles.

<Miranda> It's a polite, formally worded letter asking to come ask him about his experiences with dying.

<Hollyhock God> Oh. I assume you just talk like Ianthe for ten pages. Unless you don't want to, in case you don't.

<Hollyhock God> Not that it matters.

<Hollyhock God> The Serpent sends you back a reply the next day.

<Hollyhock God> Well, you assume it's a reply.

<Immanuel> No extra fee or anything. Damn he's good.

<Hollyhock God> Inside the envelope you find a flyer.

<Miranda> A… what?


<Grayson> (Hah.)

<Hollyhock God> "To benefit the unfortunate people of Jotunheim"

<Immanuel> (By the by, that thread was kinda incomprehensible to me with my lack of knowledge of the character.)

<Hollyhock God> "Judged by the esteemed Serpent of Radar, and the only slightly less famous Dominas of Light and Seals."

<Hollyhock God> "Offer your services today, and help the wretched."

<Immanuel> Oh, I love seals!

<Hollyhock God> In very small print "Sponsored by Finn, Ltd."

<Dan> "What wretched?"

<Miranda> "Now, is that seals like things that keep things shut, or seals like the animal?

<Grayson> "Fine got to be a judge? Why does she always get the plum jobs?"

<Hollyhock God> The things that keep things shut.

<Hollyhock God> The Domina in question is Albemarle Blue, Seal's-Regal and famous oracle.

<Immanuel> Oh. How sad.

<Grayson> What's Finn, Ltd.?

<Dreams> "Oh, you know. These opportunities come up, you just need to have friends in the right places and not spend all your time hanging around the chancel."

<Dreams> "Knowing Opportunity helps, too, but he's a bit of a poor house-guest."

<Dreams> "Not that I speak from experience."

<Hollyhock God> It's safe to say that Finn, Ltd. is somehow connected to your old friend Remus Finn.

<Grayson> "Unfortunately, I'm required to spend most of my time hanging around the chancel. A fact I believe you're well acquainted with."

<Grayson> Ah, of course.

<Miranda> So… it's just an add? There's nothing suggesting we ought to go, or…?

<Immanuel> It was sent to us in reply.

<Immanuel> I think that's a strong hint.

<Grayson> "Well, if this is Radar's response to our request for a meeting, I suppose he wants us to participate."

<Miranda> "Well. It's only barely proper, but I don't see where I have an alternative. Everyone else can attend, or not, as they say fit. But I mean to go."

<Hollyhock God> It's a very prestigious event, I'm sure! Don't you all want to help those poor Jotuns?

<Immanuel> Of course.

<Immanuel> I love Jotuns.

<Dreams> "The real question is, to attend as a purchaser, or purchasee?"

<Hollyhock God> Just don't get caught loving anybody who buys you. I'm sure Meon or somebody will be there, on guard for violations!

<Hollyhock God> Immanuel, Jotuns are even bigger than you are these days. Like, fifty feet tall.

<Immanuel> And?

<Immanuel> My tastes are many and varied.

<Grayson> "Perhaps it would be best to have people in each camp?"

<Hollyhock God> They'd make a bulge in your stomach. Unfashionable.

<Grayson> So don't eat any until after the auction.

<Immanuel> I don't eat jotuns unless they're made of gold.

<Miranda> "One assumes he wants us to bid, or else he'd have included registration forms."

<Dreams> "Oh, the registration information is on the back."

<Hollyhock God> You're welcome to sign up for either!

<Dreams> (Dreams might just be messing with Miranda there)

<Dreams> (Or not!)

<Immanuel> "I am going to disappoint you all and be bidding."

<Hollyhock God> Although Miranda should probably be up for auction if she wants a chance to talk to a judge.

<Hollyhock God> :)

  • Immanuel knows a trap when he sees it.

<Grayson> "But imagine what an impressive price you could fetch in your new form, Immanuel."

<Dreams> "As long as you don't eat whoever you successfully bid on."

<Dreams> (And then it turns out the power of Gold is in attendance)

<Immanuel> "Pfeh. That would clearly be an exercise in validating the privilege of non-monsters."

<Dreams> (Poor Midas)

<Immanuel> "Oh, breathe fire on this, fly that! I think not."

<Miranda> …really? Seems like that would just make it harder to talk to him.

<Grayson> (Why would he eat someone who could provide him with unlimited quantities of gold?)

<Dreams> (Because he might be made of gold, too?)

<Dan> (Shortsightedness.)

<Dreams> (Yes, completely uncharacteristic, what was I thinking?)

<Hollyhock God> Anyway, the rules are simple. Everyone who is up for auction has to go out on a date with the purchaser. The bought Noble gets to decide the circumstances of the date.

<Hollyhock God> The date is over when you successfully satisfy the purchaser, although how you do this is completely at the purchasee's discretion and is not negotiable.

<Hollyhock God> The longest date on record came after the Windflower Bachelor Auction of '84, which lasted 42 days before Duchess Fine declared herself satisfied.

  • Dreams flips an udi.

<Miranda> That seems like a terrible deal. Be sure to bid on cheap labor.

<Dreams> #roll 1d2

<-RPGServ/#lastmiracle> Roll for Dreams [1d2]: 1

<Dreams> "Looks like I'll be buying, then."

<Hollyhock God> Before bids are placed, there will be a test of deportment, swimsuit modelling, and a question-and-answer session.

<Immanuel> "Oh, I've missed a chance to show off my new tan? How unfortunate!"

<Immanuel> "Distraught. Distraught I say."

<Dreams> "Just as well, my deportment isn't what it used to be. Balancing books on your head gets troublesome when the books fly off."

<Grayson> "I suppose I'll join Miranda onstage."

<Immanuel> Huh. If Miranda's complexion is immortal then she doesn't tan does she? Must look like a troglodytic fish by now.

<Dreams> Alternatively, her tan never fades!

<Hollyhock God> Immortal protects against Wounds. So if it isn't something you consider a Wound then Immortal does nothing!

<Hollyhock God> So, Miranda and Grayson are up for bidding. Anybody else?

<Dreams> "Dan. You should go onstage as well. It'd be a good confidence-builder, I think."

<Miranda> I'm up for what now?

<Immanuel> "Yes, what he said."

<Dreams> "Don't worry, Miranda, your form is already filled out."

<Immanuel> You said you wanted to be auctioned off to get a chance to talk to the judges, didn't you?

<Dreams> "It just needs your… actually, Grayson can just fake your signature, he's probably got it on file somewhere."

<Hollyhock God> Make it so, Grayson!

<Hollyhock God> Fill one out for Dan, too, yeah.

<Grayson> Done.

<Hollyhock God> Being objectified will do him good.

<Dan> Hey, I have a girlfriend already!

<Hollyhock God> DON'T TELL THEM THAT.

<Hollyhock God> ……

<Hollyhock God> Once again I see that you have all FAILED to tell Dan what he needs to know to survive.

<Dreams> "Wait, what?"

<Grayson> "Dan, I think we've neglected to inform you of some important rules that Nobles need to follow."

<Miranda> … it seems like being auctioned off would make it harder to talk to the judges.

  • Immanuel knows no one will forge his signature because the burning would never stop. Ever.

<Hollyhock God> They sit in a glass box where only contestants can see and interact with them.

<Immanuel> Also, my signature is like, the size of a door now.

<Immanuel> In fire.

<Dan> How indelicate.

<Hollyhock God> The box is unbreakable and has the "Remus, Ltd." mark on it.

<Grayson> "The first and most important is the Windflower Law."

  • Immanuel sighs. Even he knows that.

<Dreams> "Well, most important is a matter of debate, but it's certainly the most controversial and discussed."

  • Hollyhock God doesn't really know how bachelor auctions work, but is going to assume that it's basically like Miss America.

<Grayson> "It says 'The Nobilis shall not love.'"

<Dreams> Mmm. However the Serpent of Radar wants it to work!

<Dreams> It's entirely possible an Imperator doesn't quite grok how humans normally do such things.

<Dan> "That's a terrible law"

<Hollyhock God> And that it will be arranged in whatever way is necessary to get Miranda onstage. Thanks, Remus!

<Immanuel> "Laws exist to create criminals, Daniel."

<Grayson> "That's as may be, but it is the law, and you don't want to offend Lord Entropy."

<Dreams> "There's numerous theorized explanations for the existence of the law."

<Immanuel> "So it is quite a good law, for certain values of 'good'"

<Dan> "So what, I'm just supposed to break up with my girlfriend because now I'm in charge of Bridges?"

<Grayson> "Now, Lord Entropy is far from omniscient, and I'm not going to tell you how to arrange your personal life."

<Immanuel> "Of course not. Just don't love her."


<Dreams> "Well, be discreet about it. It's like jaywalking or speed limits. Except the penalties for breaking it are a bit harsher."

<Grayson> "But if you love someone, you've got to keep it a secret."

<Dreams> "Well, getting caught breaking it by somebody with an interest in you being punished for it."

<Dan> "This job just seems to keep coming with more and more down sides"

<Grayson> "And that means not using words like 'girlfriend.'"

<Dreams> "Yes, yes, phenomenal cosmic power certainly is a mixed blessing."

<Immanuel> "Paramour. Concubine. Groupie, etc., etc…."

<Grayson> "We should probably go over the other Laws as well."

<Hollyhock God> Says the man who's about to have goddesses bidding for the pleasure of his company.

<Immanuel> And gods.

<Dan> (Since Anchors don't need maintenance, does that mean that Anchoring your girlfriend would stop her needing to bug you all the time? >_> XD )

<Dreams> (It turns her into the best girlfriend possible by mortal standards!)

<Immanuel> (Don't go all heteronormative on us now!)

<Hollyhock God> Lay back and think of the Jotuns.

<Hollyhock God> They're so wretched.

<Hollyhock God> I'm not even sure why, but I think some of them are miserable, too.

<Dan> "I don't think she'd like being referred to as any of those things."

<Immanuel> (Actually yes, Dan.)

<Grayson> "The Chestnut Law: don't hurt anyone who has done no harm, don't take vengeance more than sevenfold. Not that you can expect a precise mathematical calculation every time you take vengeance, just don't be too disproportionate."

<Dan> (Dan still keeps his old job too, wait until someone tells him about the "Let no beast be your master" law >_> )

<Grayson> "The Rule of Man: Treat no beast as your lord. And that's not talking about Immanuel, it's talking about mortals. Don't let them get the better of you."

<Immanuel> (That's my precedent for taking umbrage at the word beast, by the way.)

<Dan> "Wait, so I have to quit my job too?"

  • Miranda facepalms. "WHERE IS DAVID?"

<Miranda> "Someone buy his company, please."

<Dreams> "The Chestnut Law has been established to apply to Excrucians as well, although it doesn't /often/ come up. But if you run into Tairte Ut-napishtim, don't be a douche just because he's an Excrucian."

<Dan> "I like my job. I'm actually good at it."

<Miranda> (…technically the Windflower Law applies to them too.)

<Dreams> "Well, be snarky and insubordinate, at least."

<Immanuel> "Your job is to defend Creation from its uncountable and unknowable foes, within and without."

<Immanuel> "I thought we had established this."

<Dreams> "Alternatively, keep your job a secret as well."

<Dan> "Non-standard compliant software is a foe of creation."

<Hollyhock God> Hear, hear.

<Grayson> "Ah, yes, the Rule of War."

<Immanuel> "I'm sure the Locust Court eagerly awaits your opening statements."

<Grayson> "Serve your Imperator before the War, and the War before yourself."

<Grayson> "Hmm. What if we buy his company and deed it to the Cammora?"

<Miranda> "You're a Noble. You're good at everything. *I* could do your job and I've never done- I don't know, what is, it, electrical engineering right? Fortunately, nothing prevents you from purchasing your former company, and hiring yourself to work in whatever capacity you like."

<Miranda> "No need to involve the Cammora."

<Dreams> "They might even own it already."

<Dreams> "They're tricky like that sometimes."

<Grayson> "Nah, I keep an eye on them when they get near our family."

<Dreams> "Oh, they're not that bad."

<Dan> "The IEEE isn't a traded company anyway."

<Immanuel> "It can be."

<Immanuel> "Gravity can be a traded company, if you try hard enough."

<Dan> "Running the IEEE like a company would ruin it."

<Grayson> "The Cammora aren't crazy about the fact that I have my own spies. I've found it healthy to keep an eye out for them."

<Immanuel> "You could just anchor the IEEE."

<Dreams> "They're mostly good for the little things. A limo here, a 5-star hotel reservation there, and so forth."

<Grayson> "Ah, true, that would work."

<Grayson> "I think you're confusing the Cammora with a concierge, Dreams."

<Immanuel> (Mental note: Anchor Bic.)

<Dreams> "Plus, surprisingly few banks will exchange udi for hard cash, and David isn't always available."

<Dan> "And that would stop me from getting in trouble?"

<Miranda> "No."

<Miranda> "But it would force them to find another excuse.

<Miranda> "Which is usually helpful."

<Dan> "Good as I'm going to get, I suppose."

<Dan> (Anchoring something is a Treasure 0 miracle, yeah?)

<Miranda> (How long has Dan been a Noble?)

<Immanuel> "Plausible deniability is what you're aiming for, Daniel."

<Dreams> "Well. If you show subservience to your boss, it could still be arguable. But honestly, if you have an enemy who wants to get you in trouble, you're going to have to get into an argument in front of the Locust Court at some point, probably."

<Dan> (I'm starting to think he's been a Noble for like, 3 months.)

<Grayson> (It does seem that way.)

<Dan> (It was never firmly established.)

<Miranda> (This is like day-one orientation stuff. Praxael sucks!)

<Dreams> (So Immanuel and Dan are both new at this? Looks like somebody… burned their bridges.)

  • Dreams puts on his sunglasses.

<Immanuel> I will punch you.

<Immanuel> With my claws.

<Dreams> "Perhaps we can talk about this on the way, at any rate?"

<Grayson> (Maybe Praxael knew death was coming and wanted to make sure all of his Estates were occupied?)

<Dan> (No, you need to put on your sunglasses *before* you deliver the punchline.)

<Dreams> (I repeat: Psch. Causality is for chumps.)

<Immanuel> (Maybe Dan got enNobled the day Prax bit it?)

<Dan> (I'm down with that.)

<Immanuel> (That would explain a lot and would have delightful implications)

<Dreams> "You know, you probably don't have a lot of experience with Excrucians, do you? Maybe we should find Tairte Ut-napishtim and have you have a chat with him."

<Hollyhock God> Mimic!

<Dreams> "Some appropriate protections, of course, but that's what Miranda is for."

<Dan> "I've never seen one, no. Just heard about them."

<Immanuel> "Acceptance probably knows a fair bit about the subject if you wish to crawl in my stomach for a chat sometime."

  • Miranda is appropriate for all occasions.

<Grayson> "You'll know if you do. It's in the eyes."

<Dreams> "Mmm. They can be an annoying lot. There's one that's always trying to earn my ire for some reason."

<Dreams> "Fortunately I'm such an easy-going guy."

<Dreams> "You may want to cultivate a good rivalry at some point, actually. Noble or otherwise. Having a nemesis is excellent for keeping you on your toes."

<Miranda> "Not. this point, please."

<Immanuel> "Failing that there's always Miranda."

<Grayson> "At the moment, I think there's plenty keeping us on our toes."

<Grayson> "Now, where is this auction?"

<Hollyhock God> Speaking of, how are you going to get Miranda and Dan ready for presentation?

<Hollyhock God> I can see Grayson knowing what to do, but the other two are going to need sexy lessons.

<Hollyhock God> Light-hearted flirtation 101.

<Miranda> "Presentation? I don't care about the bidding, I just need to get into the box with Radar."

<Dreams> Montage time!

<Immanuel> "A flaming tiara!" Immanuel shouts.

<Dan> (I can be Aspect 1 sexy?)

<Miranda> (Yes. As professional as a professionally sexy person. Dan, you look like a hooker.)

<Dreams> "I want to see swooning, damn it!"

<Immanuel> "You're both going to be on fire."

<Grayson> "No you're not."

<Immanuel> "Don't worry, the scarring will be minimal."

<Dan> "Yeah, I'm not really down with that."

<Grayson> "Immanuel, fire doesn't make everything better."

  • Immanuel gives you a look that could kill cancer. No, literally, it could kill cancer.

<Grayson> "Dan, I recommend a tuxedo. Everyone looks good in a tuxedo."

<Hollyhock God> Dan is not smouldering correctly.

<Dreams> "Mmm."

<Hollyhock God> Remember, they'll need swimsuits!

<Immanuel> Made of fire!

<Dreams> "And a swimsuit, of course. How are your abs?"

<Immanuel> Dear God, that's the cleverest thing any of us have ever heard!

  • Immanuel begins making bathing suits out of fire.

<Miranda> "Hm. Dan actually hasn't had a chance to do much personal socializing in the Society of Flowers. The right woman could actually do him some good."

<Dan> "I think I look fine, but I don't think I'm going to stand out among the rest of the Gods."

<Dreams> (Fortunately, Aspect 3 will let a workout program get done just in time!)

<Grayson> "Let me be clear, Immanuel. No one is wearing anything made of fire."

<Miranda> "What do you mean 'swim suit'? That's just unacceptable…"

<Dreams> "It's clearly established in the guidelines."

<Immanuel> "You should've read the rules before having your signature forged, Sister."

<Dreams> "Deportment, Swimsuit, question and answer. Don't you want to help those poor benighted giants?"

<Dan> "Look, law or not, I'm not ready to just dump the girl I'm seeing and take up with a collegue."

<Grayson> "Oh, we're not suggesting that."

<Hollyhock God> This is going to require confidence! Confidence is much more important than a rockin' bod!

<Grayson> "After all, it would be just as illegal to love another Noble."

<Immanuel> "The fire isn't going to burn anyone. How long have I been doing this?"

<Grayson> "Just show someone a good time."

<Hollyhock God> Although if you want to look decent next to Rhys you'll need both!

<Hollyhock God> Miranda, I think you're going to have to do some psychiatry.

<Hollyhock God> Shield his brain from humility.

<Grayson> Ah, nice.

<Grayson> Probably her own, too.

<Immanuel> "If they're not on fire how are they going to compete next to golems of living sound and singularities made of cheese?"

<Hollyhock God> Magrat Garlick, you shall go to the ball!

<Miranda> (I just figured Grayson could make his girlfriend a secret.

<Dreams> "Hmmm.

  • Dreams looks thoughtful.

<Dan> I can show up as a Bridge? An especially fabulous one?

<Miranda> "No."

<Dreams> "You could arrive on a majestic rainbow bridge, perhaps."

<Dreams> "It shows an appreciation of the classics."

<Immanuel> "Yes, but a metaphorical bridge. Make yourself into a bridge between your inner beauty and the judges sense of aesthetics."

<Dan> "I arrive everywhere on bridges. They won't leave me alone."

<Grayson> (Well, to be fair, she already is a secret from Noble society, as far as we know.)

<Dreams> (Which means you can get away with preservations!)

<Grayson> "Using bridges might be appropriate, but you shouldn't actually be a bridge."

<Grayson> (Indeed.)

<Dreams> "But emulate the higher qualities of bridge-nature, by all means."

<Dreams> "I do it with dreams all the time."

<Hollyhock God> How are you going to please a woman (or a man) as a bridge?

<Hollyhock God> Don't answer that.

<Miranda> (I meant a secret from him.)

  • Dreams adopts a pose of strange and inspiring wonder.
  • Immanuel imagines someone pantsing Dan, and shouting, "London Bridge is falling down!")

<Hollyhock God> Also, what are you guys bidding with?

<Dreams> I've got a briefcase of Udi and, in theory, the ability to make a couple billion over the course of a single night if I absolutely have to.

<Miranda> (Actually, Dreams can do that too- easy to forget and hard to remember?)

<Immanuel> We'll have to see what's the common currency, won't we?

<Immanuel> I have access to my mundane wealth, my coins of merit, and any numbers of favors from your own personal God of Hellfire.

<Dreams> Maybe I'll take a few fancy ones out of storage. This one, a fallen angel's dream of Heaven. Things like that.

<Hollyhock God> One of the functions of the panel of judges is to determine which bids are worth more, indeed.

<Dan> "Anyway, if you guys are forcing me to do this, what am I supposed to pick as my 'date activity?'"

<Immanuel> "Take them on tours of fantastic locales via bridges."

<Dreams> "It's entirely up to you, but I would consider the nature of the person who won the bid: after all, the date doesn't end until they're satisfied."

<Dan> "… anyone but Immanu… oh, that actually wasn't nearly as bad as I was expecting."

<Dreams> "But, shockingly, Immanuel is right. Play to your strengths."

<Hollyhock God> If it's Fine, candlelight dinner in Paris. It's it's Rinne, you're probably going to have to be mad inventive if you want to get out of letting her take your clothes off.

<Hollyhock God> If it's the Duchess of the Four Winds, God help you.

<Dreams> (/me wants to see Rinne win Miranda, now.)

<Immanuel> I'd open a bridge that could randomly open to anywhere, for Rinne.

<Grayson> "We can always advise you more once we find out who's won."

<Dan> "And how does this help protect Creation again?"

<Hollyhock God> I'm still hideously amused by the idea of Miranda turning Dan into Señor Confidence with shielding miracles.

<Immanuel> "We're raising money for charity."

<Dreams> "It's raising funds to help support Jotunheim, which is benighted by the war."

<Grayson> "And getting into talk to Radar."

<Hollyhock God> Between that and Immanuel filling him with l- with passion, you'll be golden!

<Dan> (Dan doesn't need confidence for this, he needs willingness.)

<Dreams> "Which is important for some reason? Why are we talking to him again?"

<Miranda> (Honestly, Dreams and Grayson are better for this.)

<Immanuel> Don't forget my passion.

<Miranda> "Look, Dan, are you married to this girlfriend of yours?"

<Hollyhock God> I have difficulty seeing Dan strutting around in a swimsuit with confidence, given his attitude.

<Immanuel> "Is that a rhetorical question?"

<Grayson> "He died and came back, Dreams. We're interested in that."

<Hollyhock God> He seems like to end up trying to hide behind one of Conurbation's many biceps.

<Immanuel> The fire will give him confidence.

<Dreams> "I mean, hypothetical entities is, in theory, a fine chap to work with, but… oh, that again? Sorry, I missed the planning session."

<Dan> "No, She's a girlfriend, not my wife."

<Miranda> (Pff. We know they're all really bidding on him because Bridges Grant Power to Those That Control Them.)

<Dreams> "Have you told her about your commencement? And, for that matter, have you anchored her?"

<Dan> "No, I thought people that knew about us went crazy or something."

<Immanuel> "And she's a mortal. You'll never be equals. It'd be like me dating a human."

<Dreams> "Well, anchoring helps with that."

<Grayson> "True, though it might make her a bit harder to hide from other Powers."

<Dreams> "A power imbalance doesn't make a relationship impossible. Complicated, yes, but aren't they all, anyways?"

<Dreams> "But easier to protect if somebody does try something."

<Dan> "Immanuel, I'm not convinced you could date anyone."

<Hollyhock God> Plus you'll be able to keep her forever, since if she ever leaves you she'll become a vegetable.

<Hollyhock God> Or maybe that's not a thing in 3e.

<Miranda> "OK. So, you're not married. If you want to go on a date with a goddess and promote a worthy cause in the process, this is your chance. For my part, I think it would be healthy for you. But we're not going to make you do anything you don't want to do."

<Hollyhock God> Yeah, you are.

<Dreams> "And eventually, they will. Grayson's not the only one with a terrifying aptitude for rooting out that which is hidden."

<Grayson> "Though we did already send in your application."

  • Miranda elbows Grayson, hard.

<Dreams> "But yes. Look at this not necessarily as a date, so much as… practice in divine customer service?"

<Grayson> "Do you want me all bruised for the swimsuit competition?"

<Immanuel> "Coloring."

<Dreams> "Depth of character."

<Miranda> "You'll heal."

  • Dan doesn't really pay that much attention to Grayson, caught in introspection. "I mean, we haven't even been that close recently. I've been telling her I was busy at work ever since this whole… you know, Noble thing started."

<Miranda> "Now. Do you think not wearing a swimsuit would be disqualifying?"

<Immanuel> "Just wear one made of shields."

<Dan> "But I mean, getting told who I can and can't love really rankles, you know?"

<Dreams> "Artfully placed."

<Dreams> "You're not exactly alone in that sentiment, Dan."

  • Miranda looks Dan in the eye, grabbing his chin if need be.

<Grayson> "Miranda, I know many Europeans prefer the nude beaches, but I think this contest is looking for something slightly less risque."

<Miranda> "Dan, yes or no. We can make this easier on you if you want, but I need you to be clear— yes or no?"

<Hollyhock God> Have you considered showing Dan iconography demonstrating how hot various female Nobles are? That might change his mind. I mean, you can't even look at Ananda without blinkers. Maybe there's a female equivalent.

<Dan> (Hah!)

<Hollyhock God> No! Don't give him the chance to back out of plot!

<Dreams> "I don't think miracling up his brain is /quite/ necessary. The idea is to give him the confidence to work on his own, yes?"

<Dan> "…. no, thanks for the offer, but I need to get through this myself. I'll do it though."

<Hollyhock God> Now miracle him up anyway. For my amusement!

<Immanuel> "Daniel, this is a charitable event. Your love-life can be addressed afterwards."

<Dan> "I'll be back though, I've got to go break up with Sam."

  • Miranda nods.

<Immanuel> "It's not like we're going to a bordello."

<Dan> "No, I want to take care of this now, If I leave it hanging, I'll never do it."

<Miranda> "That's… a good decision."

  • Miranda waits for Dan to go and turns to Dream.

<Dreams> (A bridge appears, into her bedroom! Where she's cheating on Dan!)

<Grayson> "You're probably right, as long as you're sure. If it's really not what you want, I can help you keep it secret."

<Miranda> "OK, be ready to help her sink into his memory like a dream upon waking, if this goes bad."

<Immanuel> "Couldn't you have shielded him from emotional turomoil or something?"

<Dreams> "Well, we'll see. I mean, I won't turn all of life's hardships into dreams. It turns out that's a very bad idea."

  • Dan does bridge himself to Illinois, where some off-camera hard-but-necessary relationship-ending occurs.

<Hollyhock God> Speaking from experience?

<Dreams> (Praxael's death… was just a bad dream! Yaaaaaaay! Actuals.)

<Dreams> (Maybe! Maybe not!)

<Hollyhock God> Praxual!

<Hollyhock God> Or possibly Praxcrucian.

<Immanuel> Apraximately.

<Miranda> "Not the hardship, just the memory."

<Dan> (Anyone doing anything while I'm gone for ~2 hours or are we fast forwarding?)

  • Immanuel mails his membership form to the Cleave of Thorns.

<Grayson> (I think we just need to do a bit more preparation and then we'll be ready to hit the auction)

<Miranda> Well, Miranda needs to be talked out of her mourning garb, or she's going to make the worst swimsuit competitor ever.

<Dreams> (Mourning bikini!)

<Dreams> (Black, and a tasteful veil!)

<Miranda> Or, alternately, Grayson can just Enchant her.

<Immanuel> I could actually do that.

<Grayson> Ah. Indeed.

<Hollyhock God> We still haven't gotten Miranda into a swimsuit or Dan into a cocky strut. This is shaping up to be a disaster!

<Miranda> Grayson, rather

<Immanuel> A light-swallowing swimsuit.

<Grayson> She probably also should wear a dress that isn't mourning-y

<Grayson> "Dear Sister, let me take you to one of this city's famous dress-makers."

<Dreams> "Now, the Serpent of Radar isn't going to be very impressed with you if you don't make at least a token effort of participation. So, um…. you should probably change your clothes."

<Dan> (Dan can do a Cockney strut, if that's acceptable…)

<Miranda> (Dan is breaking up with his girlfriend. Or telling us he's breaking up with his girlfriend. This is the Windflower Law violation you've been waiting for!)

<Hollyhock God> Meanwhile, the Serpent asks Grayson how old he is, and is told "Ji-yu-na-na."

<Immanuel> Oh, we're already at the auction?

<Grayson> "Normally, he has a waiting-list that's years long, but he'll be happy to make time for us."

<Dreams> (Ji-yu-na-na?)

<Hollyhock God> No, that was just a thing.

<Immanuel> Okay. Thing.

  • Miranda frowns.

<Hollyhock God> (Inoue Kikuko always tells people that she's that old. Seventeen.)

<Miranda> "It's… an important symbolic gesture."

<Hollyhock God> (She's at least forty.)

<Grayson> "I understand. But think about what our goal is today."

<Dreams> "Believe me, I respect symbolism. But if you want the Serpent's help, you may need to focus on the… practical."

<Grayson> "We're working to bring Him back."

  • Miranda grits her teeth.

<Hollyhock God> Miranda, do what your father would have wanted and slip into this ropy slutwear!

<Grayson> "What better purpose is there for you to shed your mourning gear, even if only temporarily?"

<Miranda> (Yay! I've dragged everyone else into my mad obsession!)

<Hollyhock God> Hm, yes, yes, you need to borrow the Green Lady's outfit.

<Immanuel> "I have prepared a tasteful one-piece for the swim competition, Miranda."

<Grayson> "Is it on fire, Immanuel?"

<Immanuel> "She's immune to harm."

  • Miranda pinches the bridge of her nose.
  • Dan returns, less mopey than he thought he'd be. "Turns out I she was going to break up with me anyway. Tired of getting blown off for three months."

<Miranda> "I'm not immune to taste!"

<Grayson> "I'm not concerned about her health, Immanuel."

<Hollyhock God> How will a one-piece compete with the Domina of the Earth and her huge tracts of land?

<Dan> "So… bring on the goddesses?"

<Immanuel> It'll be on fire.

<Miranda> "Sorry, Dan. Goddess in crisis at the moment."

<Miranda> "Crisis. ha."

<Dreams> "We're trying to get Miranda something appropriate to wear. The dressmaker can probably help you out as well, though."

<Immanuel> "Miranda, you've done quite the part to convince us otherwise."

<Dan> "Oh, I've got a suit."

<Grayson> "Immanuel, you're not helping."

<Immanuel> "There are other colors of the spectrum besides black."

  • Grayson eyes Dan skeptically.

<Grayson> "How many components does it have?"

<Miranda> "Not while he's dead. I'm not ready for that."

<Miranda> (Heh. Being secrets, I read that as 'how many compartments does it have?')

<Grayson> "Fine, Miranda, what about a somewhat more flattering black dress and some black swimwear?"

<Dan> "They all have 2…"

<Hollyhock God> How about…. infra-black? The black rainbow?

<Grayson> "With different types of fabric and slightly different shades, I'm sure the dressmaker could put something impressive together."

<Immanuel> "Well, if you're absolutely insistent, I could create something that swallows all light."

<Immanuel> "Anti-light. A dark flame."

<Miranda> "Not being flattering is half the point."

<Dan> (http://basicinstructions.net/basic-instructions/2011/5/8/how-to-understand-mens-fashion.html Relevant!)

<Grayson> "I think you need something a little more high-class, Daniel."

<Hollyhock God> Yes, some kind of swallowing hole would definitely attract attention to Miranda's bosom.

<Immanuel> "Somehow I doubt the Duchess Fine will be fond of this, however."

<Dan> "I do own a tux also, I guess."

<Hollyhock God> The light would fall right in and people's heads would be swiveled directly at her by the force.

<Dreams> "Adversity adds a little bit of spice to a relationship, Immanuel."

<Grayson> "Come down to the garment district with us, I have a tuxedo guy too."

<Grayson> "Miranda, if you want to really get to talk to Radar, you need to make a serious attempt at this."

<Hollyhock God> Don't forget the swimsuit for Dan, also. And the situps.

<Dreams> "He's the living embodiment of Difficulty. He won't make it easy on you."

<Dan> "Argh. I hate clothes shopping. I get all my clothes from a guy in Hong Kong once a year who already knows my measurements, I don't want the fuss."

<Hollyhock God> Looking like Michaelangelo's David with your shirt off is key to feeling godlike.

  • Miranda sighs. I don't suppose an Enchantment would be out of the question?

<Miranda> "I don't suppose an Enchantment would be out of the question?"

<Dreams> "Well, you're a god, you can delegate clothes-shopping."

<Grayson> "Sure, what sort of enchantment?"

<Hollyhock God> An enchantment on who?

<Immanuel> "What do you think I've been talking about this entire time?"

  • Grayson does a quick miracle.

<Grayson> "Okay, Dan, I've got your measurements from the guy in Hong Kong's files.

<Dan> "If I'm doing this situp regimen, won't they change?"

<Immanuel> "Excellent point: cease at once."

<Grayson> "Hmm, good point."

<Dreams> "So get the regimen done, and we'll take new measurements."

<Grayson> "I'll have one of the servants take your measurements afterwards and my tailor can do a quick alteration."

<Miranda> "I'm told that 'Secrets are exciting, dangerous, and desirable.'" - surely that will be sufficient?

<Hollyhock God> Call in the tailor! This is a job for Hoity Toity!

<Grayson> "Absolutely."

  • Miranda bites back a laugh.

<Hollyhock God> http://mlp.wikia.com/wiki/Hoity_Toity

<Dreams> "The Serpent of Radar is excitement as well. That might work well."

<Miranda> "Under most circumstances that would actually sound like quite a lot of fun."

<Dan> Righto, time to hit the gym.

<Grayson> "I have it! When everyone looks at you, they'll wonder what you're hiding under those dark and questionably flattering clothes."

<Immanuel> "Yes!"

<Grayson> "They'll all want to know what's so special about you, what they're missing."

  • Dan magics up an Aspect 3 miracle of just-in-time gymliness.

<Grayson> "Far better than showing some skin."

<Immanuel> "Clearly you're hiding it in an attempt to spare them the wrath of your beautiful form."

<Grayson> (Was there some talk earlier of a female Ananda?)

<Immanuel> "Which is like unto eternity. And not being hidden out of morbid prudishness."

<Hollyhock God> (We just need some pictures of a woman who's nearly that hot.)

<Hollyhock God> Convince Dan that with enough situps, women of that caliber can be his!

<Grayson> "Now, I don't do this kind of thing much, so let's hope I get it right."

<Hollyhock God> The Greek god mentality: so difficult to learn.

<Miranda> (Ananda transcends gender!)

<Miranda> "Fine, Immanuel, I can wear black fire, if it will make you happy. That works."

  • Grayson concentrates on Miranda and spends 4MP (1 at Chancel discount) for a Lesser Enchantment of Secrets, with the Exciting, Dangerous, and Desirable quality.

<Immanuel> "Everything is better with fire," I say sagely.

<Miranda> (Will that get stopped by the Chancel Auctoritas?)

<Miranda> (Screw it, let's not worry about it….)

<Grayson> (Hmm, good question… I don't think crossing an Auctoritas breaks Enchantments.)

  • Immanuel enchants Mirandra's clothes, turning them into dark flame, which lacks the illuminating or consuming quality.

<Grayson> "I could probably do something with 'Secrets come out in the end' to make you more inclined to wear a bathing suit, but I suppose that's not what you're looking for?"

<Immanuel> "That sounds more like she'll have a wardrobe malfunction."

  • Miranda declines to comment, in a mysterious fashion.

<Immanuel> (But is it sexy? Is it?!?)

<Miranda> (Nah, just Exciting, Dangerous and Desirable.)

<Grayson> (You're not sure if it's sexy, which just makes it even more enticing).

  • Grayson strolls over to where Dan is working out.

<Grayson> "Listen, Dan, confidence is tough for everyone, but it's at least a little bit easier for us Nobles."

<Hollyhock God> Look, if you aren't going to enchant him for my amusement, there's only one thing to do.

<Hollyhock God> Alcohol. Lots of it.

  • Miranda bats at her veil, which is hard to see through when it's on fire.

<Dan> (Hah. Dan… is probably a TMI kind of drunk.)

<Grayson> "Remember, you're the Lord of Bridges. You've barely explored your powers yet and you've already done so pretty amazing stuff."

<Immanuel> "Oh, yeah. I made you swimming trunks made of Fire, Dan."

<Grayson> "The question is, who wouldn't want to be with you?"

<Miranda> (HM. Lessee. Immanuel and Dan probably think Miranda is actually the kind of person who would normally wear a lot of black, and Dreams has been gone too long to know better…)

<Dan> "… Isn't fire about the worst thing to make swimming trunks out of? Next to, you know, Sodium?"

<Hollyhock God> Maybe Miranda should just specialize and try to find one person in the audience to appeal to.

<Grayson> "Yeah, ignore Immanuel."

<Grayson> (Grayson would be familiar with Miranda's more usual dress.)

<Miranda> (She's doing this for the benefit of the Serpent of Radar, HG. Definitely a one-person audience.)

<Grayson> "You already got to light Miranda on fire, isn't that enough?"

  • Immanuel doesn't think Miranda is a goth, just melodramatic.

<Miranda> (Yes, Grayson would realize this is pretty dysfunctional for her. But he wouldn't say anything, cause: secrets!)

<Grayson> (Indeed.)

<Grayson> (Two can keep a secret, if one is Grayson.)

<Hollyhock God> Is it a secret that Miranda is losing her mind?

<Immanuel> Is it a secret the sky is blue?

<Hollyhock God> Or do you just think she's trying to keep you all alive by lending a new terror to death?

<Miranda> (I think it's a secret just how much had already been lost!)

  • Grayson puts his arm around Miranda.

<Grayson> "Come, sister. Let's put on a show."

<Immanuel> Do we have a list of participants?

<Grayson> (Are we ready to go to the auction?)

<Dreams> (As we'll ever be.)

<Hollyhock God> Well, to recap:

  • Miranda nods. Do you have your eye on anyone up for bid, Grayson?

<Miranda> "Do you have your eye on anyone up for bid, Grayson?"

<Grayson> "No, I'm afraid that what I want can't be bought at an auction."

<Hollyhock God> Miranda seems to be planning to be auctioned off in mourning garb, complete with black swimsuit.

<Hollyhock God> Everyone has forgotten that Grayson is being auctioned off, too, because there's no question of him being able to pull it off, I guess.

<Miranda> Well… um. It is garb made of black flame. That's bonus points.

<Hollyhock God> And I don't really know what Dan's plan is, but we'll see!

<Grayson> I'll provide details once we're there.

<Miranda> "Mmmmm. Someone in particular, Mister Sinclair?"

<Dan> Dan is going to be out of place!

<Grayson> It's just that I didn't need help with my preparation.

<Dan> And trying to pretend that he's not

  • Grayson grins.

<Grayson> "That would be telling, wouldn't it?"

<Hollyhock God> Well, pull this off, and your admission into the Cleave of Wild Oats will be guaranteed!

<Hollyhock God> (This is also an excellent time to declare a Project to try and learn Glorious.)

<Hollyhock God> Speaking of, has anybody Struggled yet tonight?

<Miranda> (Well, yes.)

<Hollyhock God> I guess we struggled Miranda into her mourning bikini.

<Immanuel> Yeah.

<Dan> (I'd say Dan di.d)

<Hollyhock God> Oh, wait, Dan went through a Change!

<Hollyhock God> That's even better.

<Immanuel> I struggled with them letting me light them on fire.

<Miranda> ("How can I do what is needed to be done and still respect my mourning for Praxael?"

<Hollyhock God> That's 10 Personal Destiny for Dan.

<Miranda> (TEN? For that?!)

<Hollyhock God> Miranda…. I dunno, was that a successful struggle or what?

<Hollyhock God> He made a change in his life and reflected on what it would mean.

<Miranda> (Man, I hate this system.)

<Hollyhock God> You get 10 points for a change and 0-5 for a struggle.

<Miranda> (Yeah, there was some element of struggle.)

<Dan> (hooray, destiny! I shall put it with my other 3.)

<Hollyhock God> Miranda has like 20 Personal Destiny at this point, doesn't she?

  • Miranda is hoarding. But I still want!

<Hollyhock God> Meanwhile Immanuel has turned into a twenty-foot dragon and gets no Destiny because his life is exactly the same.

<Miranda> (Yeah, it was a successful struggle to reconcile competing demands.)

<Dreams> (Well, don't forget you ask Dan some questions about how elements of his old life work now in his new life for him to get that Destiny.)

<Immanuel> What? I'm getting shit from all sides!

<Miranda> (So, nothing new.)

<Hollyhock God> I repeat, your life is exactly…. yes.

<Dreams> ("Now that you've dumped your girlfriend, what kind of hot goddess would catch your interest?")

<Immanuel> This is why I'm joining the monster club.

<Hollyhock God> Yes, Dan, how are you going to score with the moon goddess?

<Miranda> ("Ones with money to bid.")

<Hollyhock God> You always wanted to join random social clubs.

<Miranda> (Actually, it's kind of a pity Zaqiel won't be one of the judges)

<Dan> Yes, to hell with decorum, I will join this silly Noble frat.

<Dreams> (She won't be a judge, but she might be a patron.)

<Immanuel> They weren't random, they were purpose-driven and provided context.

<Miranda> (Bidding on Dan.)

<Immanuel> You just decided the light club hated me.

<Dreams> (Oh snap.)

<Hollyhock God> Hooray! Once we get done with the bachelor auction, we'll do a hazing story.

  • Dan is going to rock out with Sex Drugs and Standards Complience.

<Hollyhock God> No, you decided that.

<Grayson> (That would hurt.)

<Hollyhock God> By annoying all of them.

<Dan> (Are these hookers ISO 5760 compliant?)

<Immanuel> I apologized! And I don't think I've ever interacted with Lightning.

<Miranda> (Although it would also be a way to send Grayson a message indirectly, and thus be right up her alley.)

<Hollyhock God> So your plan is to have sex with things that previously couldn't be interfaced with?

<Hollyhock God> Like, Dionyl maybe?

<Miranda> Lightning isn't in the light club. Or the frat.

<Dan> (I as a player don't actually get the reference)

<Immanuel> Of course he is. He makes light.

<Grayson> (True. Or she could make some sort of play through her Nobles)

<Miranda> Does seem like a big jump for Dan from Geek to FratGod.

<Miranda> Well.

<Miranda> OK.

<Miranda> Show.

<Hollyhock God> Miranda's been happier about Noel ever sense she realized that chastity belts are a kind of shield.

<Miranda> On Road.

<Hollyhock God> Yes, yes, okay.

<Hollyhock God> For the record, Dionyl are….

<Hollyhock God> Like you know how people wear clothes?

<Hollyhock God> Imagine if you subtract the person but kept the clothing.

<Miranda> You know in Final Fantasy, how you would wear different clothes for different classes?

<Miranda> Like that, only it's the Black Mage outfit wearing the character.

<Hollyhock God> Yeah, they're an entire species of sentient outfits.

<Dan> Well Dan does like suits.

<Miranda> OK, so. Moving on…

<Hollyhock God> Anyway, you arrive at Locus Candela, which has agreed to host the event, and split into two groups.

<Hollyhock God> Miranda, Grayson, and Dan are sorted backstage by the proctor- Mathilde, for what it's worth- while the rest of you join the party to do party things while the prep takes place.

<Hollyhock God> Remus greets all the bidders and gives you your bidding signs to hold up when you bid.

<Hollyhock God> These are not strictly necessary but they're fun.

<Dreams> (I suddenly feel like Mary-Ann. "And the rest", where the rest is all of two people.)

<Hollyhock God> Technically David and Henry are with you, but they're in absent-PC phase-space.

<Miranda> (No, Dreams- You get to bid!)

<Dreams> Ah, yes.

<Miranda> (That's got to be fun.)

<Hollyhock God> Their wave-forms only collapse when their player appears or I declare that they've joined the Excrucians.

<Hollyhock God> Speaking of, what have Dreams and Immanuel brought to bid with?

<Immanuel> The drinks are free there.

<Miranda> Free with the Excrucians?

<Immanuel> Probably.

<Hollyhock God> Meanwhile, Remus announces tonight's delightful bachelors and bachelorettes.

<Dreams> As I said before, lots of normal udi and the potential to bring more, and a few special ones including things like a fallen angel's dream of heaven and a wildlord's dream of the Lands Beyond Creation and whatnot.

<Hollyhock God> (Free drinks! Free from their drinkness! Free from wetness! Free from intoxicancy!)

<Grayson> (Beer that's free as in speech?)

<Miranda> (Heeeeeeeee.)

<Immanuel> Mundane wealth, Nobilis currency in udi and coins of merit, and favors, including access to the vault.

<Dan> (I no longer like this contest >_> )

<Hollyhock God> Up for auction will be Rhys, Isolde, Dan, Miranda, Will, Bill, and Phasael mery-Harumaph.

<Miranda> (Free like Software!)

<Dreams> (Maybe I'll do a Major Sacrifice, and collect every dream on earth for a single night, so come with a cool 3 billion or so.)

<Hollyhock God> "I knew I shouldn't have," admits Remus, "but he talked me into it."

<Dreams> "It's forgiveable. He has that way."

<Grayson> "Ah, Dan, it looks like it is time for you to meet your first Excrucian."

<Hollyhock God> Remus nods, and leans to whisper in your ear. "For the love of Cneph don't let me bid on him."

<Miranda> (I don't know some of those, are they on the wiki?)

<Immanuel> (They all are, except the Excrucian, I believe.)

<Hollyhock God> Yes, and you know all of them, except Phasael, who is a Deceiver.

<Grayson> (Isolde is Remus's sister, Will is Waves, and Bill is Conurbation.)

  • Dan looks at the eyes of the proclaimed Excrucian, to see what's up with that.

<Dreams> But he's so adorable! You can't help but forgive him as he destroys and unmakes everything you love.

<Hollyhock God> …was that IC?

<Miranda> (Oh! Bid on him and we can pump him for information!)

<Hollyhock God> They're full of stars. Phasael grins at you.

<Grayson> (Or he can corrupt us.)

<Dreams> (Or both!)

<Dan> "How's it going?"

<Miranda> (If he starts to corrupt us, Immanuel can swallow him whole.)

  • Miranda watches Dan very carefully.

<Hollyhock God> "I'm glad to meet you, Daniel," he tells you. "I was afraid they wouldn't let me in, but I talked Remus into it. I do like to be liked. It's my weakness."

<Immanuel> (Why would I? I adore him!)

<Miranda> But you know, in a dangerous, exciting and a desirable way.

<Hollyhock God> Phasael is lounging on a chair with the confidence of a man who knows that everyone outside would already be bidding on him if they could.

<Dreams> So, you're excitedly watching Dan, then?

<Grayson> No, she's not watching him excitedly.

<Grayson> She's watching him in a way that excites others.

<Hollyhock God> Rhys sits nearby- evidently they've been having friendly conversation. For once, Rhys's willingness to be friendly with everybody isn't unusual- Phasael has that effect on people.

<Hollyhock God> Bill stands in the middle of the green room as though he isn't sure why he's there. Maybe he isn't.

<Dan> "Charmed, I'm sure," Dan says, with social graces honed at dozens of meetings with corporate snakes.

  • Miranda nods politely to Phasael, but… yeah, not as politely as Rhys.

<Hollyhock God> Stop trying to pretend you don't adore him.

<Hollyhock God> You can't help it! It has mechanical weight!

<Dreams> Denying the truth of her feelings is what Miranda does best!

<Hollyhock God> ….sustained.

<Miranda> I am wracked with gult and sorrow (1).

<Grayson> "Phasael. Always a pleasure."

<Grayson> "Hey, you weren't on a plant world a few weeks ago, were you? I was following a trail of destruction that ended up going dark, seemed kind of your style."

<Hollyhock God> "No, I've been on Earth for a few months, now. Vacationing, really. Trying to understand your world."

<Immanuel> (Boring world.)

<Miranda> "So you can destroy it." Miranda hisses, impolitely.

<Hollyhock God> "Sure," admits Phasael. "It was never real in the first place."

<Dreams> (Yeah, she's totally into him.)

<Hollyhock God> "You have no idea how beautiful your world really is, underneath all the lies."

<Hollyhock God> "Underneath all the things you think you've lost, that you've really only hidden from yourself."

  • Grayson lays a hand on Miranda's arm, trying to forestall a blow-up.

<Hollyhock God> "Speaking of, I found a weapon someone lost the other day," interjects Rhys.

<Miranda> "… and to think that I thought being paraded around like a piece of meat was the most distasteful thing that was going to happen to me this evening," she whispers to Grayson

<Hollyhock God> "Sort of a green, swordy thing?" asks Phasael, making a shape with his hands.

<Hollyhock God> "Yeah, like that!" agrees Rhys. "…..well, you can't have it back."

<Grayson> "Well, now you have that to look forward to." Grayson responds to Miranda.

<Grayson> "Well of course not, it's ours now. You might notice it out in the audience, though it will look different than you remember."

<Dan> "Can we leave the talk about our jobs behind, and concentrate on being sexy?"

<Hollyhock God> It could be worse! Remus could have invited Scelto.

<Hollyhock God> Yeaaaaaaaah, Dan's drunk.

<Hollyhock God> Phasael shrugs. "It was merely an object. I like sexy better anyway." He circles around Dan, inspecting him.

<Grayson> "Hmm, does the bar here have any Liquid Confidence?"

  • Dan smooths the front of his new tux carefully.

<Miranda> (Someone should push Rhys and Dan together; he'd be a good NPC mentor, but Miranda's immediate opinion of him is rather low.)

<Hollyhock God> Isolde offers Grayson her hip flask from her quiver.

<Immanuel> (It could be Iolithae, and we spend the entire auction trying to tackle her.)

<Hollyhock God> "I see you've been working out," notes Phasael as he inspects Daniel's rear end as though he were a piece of statuary, or, possibly, a cow.

  • Grayson accepts it with a smile and takes a slug. After this conversation, he needs to loosen up a little before he goes on stage.

<Hollyhock God> SERPENT: If you could have one wish, what would it be?

<Hollyhock God> IOLITHAE: This. Sentence. Is. False. don'tthinkaboutitdon'tthinkaboutit

  • Miranda smirks a little. This was, after all, what Dan wanted.

<Dan> "Yeah, the chancel has a great gym, apparently."

<Hollyhock God> ……I'm never going to be able to unsee Iolithae as GLaDOS, now.

<Grayson> Hahah.

<Dan> "Like all sorts of stuff, elipticals, freeweights, those stair machines…"

<Grayson> "I don't think you've been to Venice, have you, Phas?"

  • Dan rambles a bit about gyms.

<Hollyhock God> Passive aggression, failure to understand human ways, basic malice…. she's such a great Excrucian template.

<Immanuel> (That part made shoes, for orphans.)

<Hollyhock God> "Yes, the geek look was never really you," agrees Phasael. "But it was only ever a lie. Much better to be extroverted and promiscuous."

<Hollyhock God> "Of course," he notes, head tilted, "that's a lie, too. But I'd hit it."

  • Dan chuckles a little bit "Thanks, but I don't play for that team."

<Dan> "But I mean, if I did, yeah, cool."

<Hollyhock God> "Everyone will play for our team in the end," says Phasael, possibly to himself.

<Hollyhock God> He reverts to inner musings, adorably.

<Hollyhock God> Meanwhile, I imagine Iolithae taking your parents into herself and then making orphan jokes.

<Hollyhock God> Oh, god, Iolithae making fat jokes.

<Hollyhock God> I must make this a reality.

<Immanuel> (You're welcome!)

<Dreams> (Maybe she's bidding.)

<Immanuel> (Oh God.)

<Hollyhock God> Someone get me back on track before I start considering Wheatley as a Warmain.

<Hollyhock God> Domain 5: Wisdom

<Immanuel> Talent portion!

<Hollyhock God> There is no talent portion. You're gods.

<Hollyhock God> You can all do everything.

<Dreams> ("Right. Excruciating. Well, here's the Estate that I need to Excruciate. That's a start!")

<Dreams> Deportment, then.

<Hollyhock God> Instead there is the deportment test.

<Hollyhock God> But first, our judges.

<Hollyhock God> The Serpent of Radar!

<Grayson> How does he fit into the theater?

<Hollyhock God> The serpent is an engaging creature whose head rests on the stage. The rest of his sonic body is apparently resting underground somewhere.

<Miranda> It's his Chancel, he's everywhere?

<Hollyhock God> No, this isn't his Chancel; he's just a judge.

<Immanuel> Good thing too or how else would I fit?

<Miranda> Remus's Chancel?

<Hollyhock God> Whitsunday Fine, in fairly unspectacular clothing to suit her role.

<Hollyhock God> Some Light Magistrix's Chancel. It's art deco.

<Dan> (Doesn't Guising let you fit anywhere?)

<Miranda> (Only where the inhabitants would fit)

<Immanuel> (Of course, but now I don't have to.)

<Hollyhock God> Can Imperators guise? Anyway, why would you not want to be Aaron's-Serpent-shaped?

<Hollyhock God> That is the best shape there is.

<Dan> (No, Tigger is the best shape there is.)

<Hollyhock God> And Albemarle Blue, Seal's-Regal.

<Hollyhock God> Who is this person, albeit slightly better dressed: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Seer_%28Charmed%29

<Hollyhock God> I love that look, no matter how awful the show was.

<Hollyhock God> Anyway, deportment!

<Immanuel> (Is she wearing a snuggie?)

<Dreams> (Season 4 or season 7?)

<Hollyhock God> This year's deportment challenge was selected by the person with the lowest score in last year's deportment challenge.

<Hollyhock God> Well, it wasn't terrible in season 4. And she was great. Like Eartha Kitt.

<Hollyhock God> It's going to be…. zero-gravity tea party!

<Immanuel> This sounds promising.

  • Dreams watches with interest.

<Hollyhock God> The tea room has been set up with tables and chairs on separate planetoids for each of you.

<Grayson> Are they rotating around something?

<Hollyhock God> You must get through tea with elegance and refinement!

<Hollyhock God> Nope, just bouncing around like mad.

<Dreams> Watch out for little floating tea-spheres.

<Dreams> (I enjoy the implication that Bill will be picking next year's deportment challenge.)

<Dreams> (Or whoever scores lowest.)

<Dreams> (Maybe I'm jumping to conclusions.)

  • Grayson grins at Isolde and gestures towards the door.

<Grayson> "Ladies first."

<Immanuel> Can they see the audience? Or even the judges?

<Hollyhock God> Yes, all these things are visible.

<Hollyhock God> Now, the final question.

<Hollyhock God> Milk or no milk?

<Grayson> Milk in tea? Blasphemy. No milk.

<Dan> Absolutely milk

<Hollyhock God> The audiences observes your choices and judges you, silently.

<Dreams> (If only Ambition were here.)

<Hollyhock God> Meanwhile, you are gently guided to the seats with your nameplates on them and set spinning away.

<Hollyhock God> Isolde gleefully sends her planetoid bouncing into Grayson's, patting him on the shoulder as she passes.

<Grayson> Hmmm. Can I divine the secret of staying stable in a 0 gravity environment?

<Hollyhock God> Rhys soars high above the others in an arc, idly drinking tea with plenty of sugar.

  • Dan miraculously (literally) navigates through the tea despite his impairment.

<Miranda> "No milk, please. I'm abstaining luxuries."

<Hollyhock God> ….I don't know, can you?

<Immanuel> (Glue?)

<Grayson> I don't see why not.

<Grayson> Relying on the general description of special tricks/skills as Secrets.

<Hollyhock God> Phasael has convinced Bill's asteroid to follow his about and is tricking it into bumping into the walls. What a scamp he is!

<Hollyhock God> I guess that tells you how, but there's more to doing than just knowing.

<Grayson> True.

  • Miranda is sitting calmly and enjoying her tea in a bubble.

<Hollyhock God> Meanwhile, Will moves in a gentle frequency that carries him around everybody else, without appearing to do any work at all.

<Hollyhock God> Bill is getting slammed against the walls by Phasael, but to be fair to him he's maintaining deportment while he gets bashed.

  • Grayson concentrates on remaining perfectly still and poised while others bounce and fly around him.

<Hollyhock God> Isolde flicks sugar cubes at you, with the force of fastballs.

<Dreams> (That's not very refined! Well, I suppose it depends on the sugar cubes.)

  • Dan 's bridges interpose themselves as convenient, carrying everything away that needs to be away, and keeping Dan where he needs to be.
  • Grayson uses a Creation of Secrets to hide his exact location, messing up her aim.
  • Miranda attempts to figure out how to talk to Radar.

<Dreams> (Tea-ceremony semaphore!)

<Hollyhock God> Morse code.

<Miranda> Seriously?

<Hollyhock God> Well, he's Radar. He'd be able to hear any sound you make.

<Hollyhock God> Although you should probably get out of the vacuum box.

<Hollyhock God> Anyway, back in the audience, the rest of the Familia has encountered an unfamiliar in an opera cloak and monocle who can't stop chuckling.

<Dreams> What's his chair's nameplate say?

<Dreams> Or hers.

<Hollyhock God> Every time Dan drops a bridge between himself and Phasael or Bill slams into a wall, he breaks out into extremely loud chortling again.

<Hollyhock God> He doesn't have one, but he introduces himself to you as Count Laughter, Power of Whimsy.

<Miranda> Oh. Well, I suppose then I don't have to tap, or anything.

<Miranda> "Ah, Your Excellency, Serpent of Radar, I do hope you received my letter?"

<Immanuel> I greet the Count.

<Hollyhock God> "Why, yes, it was quite a nice letter, most delicious. You have good handwriting. I wanted a chance to chat with you."

<Hollyhock God> Meanwhile, Immanuel and the Count find that they have much in common.

<Immanuel> "Are you enjoying the show?"

<Dreams> (Oh dear, he's on fire already?)

<Immanuel> "Such as it is."

<Hollyhock God> "Ha ha, oh, yes. Just look at that big fellow; he's really taking it to the face, ha ha!"

<Hollyhock God> "He's a good sport; I'll give him that, ha ha!"

<Hollyhock God> The Count accidentally crushes his metal cup (the ones you were given are china) in one hand in his distraction and has to call for another.

<Miranda> "Thank you; as you know, I had some-" she takes a second to block a teacup that was coming at Dan from behind, "-some questions, I was hoping I could ask you."

  • Immanuel sips daintily from his gigantic cup of tea.

<Hollyhock God> The Serpent's great head seems to focus on you, but before he can answer, you run out of tea.

<Hollyhock God> The judges award the prizes for this event to Miranda, Rhys, and Bill, in that order.

<Hollyhock God> Not that the prizes really mean that much, but still! Victory!

<Dreams> I imagine many respect the judge's opinions and consider that in their evaluations.

<Hollyhock God> Next event, swimsuits!

<Hollyhock God> Oh, sure. I mean, there's technically no reason the events can't end in full-scale miraculous combat, except that it's tacky.

<Immanuel> And that is the greatest sin of all.

<Miranda> Miranda's inner 11 year old jumps up and down and goes eeeeee! I'm winning a beauty pagent. It is quickly squashed.

<Hollyhock God> No, Pinkamena! You must resist the devil fun!

  • Dan doesn't really pay much attention to having lost.

<Hollyhock God> Well, you didn't lose, you just didn't win a prize.

<Hollyhock God> Bubble-girl kind of had the advantage there, and Bill probably got a sympathy prize for being beat up by an Excrucian.

<Hollyhock God> One day Bill will probably go Gamzee on you all.

<Hollyhock God> Now, back to the green room to change into your swimsuits!

<Miranda> (Gamzee?)

  • Dan never actually acquired one, OH NO!

<Immanuel> (Homestuck reference, says wiki.)

<Hollyhock God> You'll know it when it comes~

<Immanuel> I prepared you one out of fire.

<Immanuel> It's that or nudity.


<Immanuel> Your call!

<Dreams> That or tastefully placed bridges?

<Hollyhock God> In short, a crazy joke character who will one day snap and become a terrifyingly crazy murderer. Honk.

<Hollyhock God> Just wear a normal bathing suit.

<Immanuel> How boring.

<Hollyhock God> Remember, sexy confident Dan is in your future! Just build a bridge between you and him!

  • Grayson changes into his swimsuit. Well, he changes into something. Possibly. Your eyes slide down his well-sculpted torso and up his muscled legs, and while clearly there's an area in between, there isn't much of one and your eyes seem to just slip right over it, no matter how hard you try to look.

<Immanuel> "What did you think, Count?"

  • Dan quickly bridges home to grab his normal swimsuit, but lays an enchantment on it of Granting Power to Those Who Control it.

<Immanuel> "My Familia acquitted themself well."

<Hollyhock God> Phasael pats Dan on the shoulder. "Don't be nervous, Daniel," he says, seriously. "They're going to eat you up out there."

<Dreams> ("Man, I want to take control of that swimsuit.")

<Dan> (It was either that or go naked and lay that enchantment on my wang >_> )

<Hollyhock God> "Oh ho ho, that was much better than last year's event, ha ha ha," roars the Count.

<Hollyhock God> "Although, hahahaha, nobody died this time, hee hee."

<Immanuel> (Oh God, he's not the actual Count is he?)

<Hollyhock God> He seems too bearded for that.

<Hollyhock God> Miranda, how comes your flaming bodice?

<Miranda> Flaming.

<Dreams> Her bodice purifies!

<Hollyhock God> Excellent.

<Hollyhock God> Yes, we may think only pure thoughts about her breasts.

<Miranda> Exciting, dangerous, and desirable

<Dan> That's a sure fire way to lose.

<Immanuel> No I made it purify her breasts.

  • Miranda…. was not aware of that.

<Immanuel> They alone of her anatomy aren't gloomy and forlorn over Praxael.

<Hollyhock God> "Well, you'd better go out," Mathilde announces. "Knock 'em dead," she cackles.

<Hollyhock God> As you march out, Miranda notices a certain sense of friction, as though some offended god were glaring at her.

  • Dan strides out on stage, confident and in control and not at all drunk.

<Hollyhock God> Just as she is a fraction of a second away from being visible to the audience, she realizes that her clothing is starting to fade away, like shadows under strong light.

<Dreams> (Snerk.)

<Hollyhock God> She feels rather than sees Isolde's disapproving look on the back of her neck.

<Immanuel> And this is why I like Isolde.

<Hollyhock God> It occurs to you that bringing an all-concealing, pure-darkness bodice to an event with the Power of Illumination may have been a diplomatic mis-step.

  • Miranda shoots a glare back as she immediately projects a shield for her dignity (to say nothing of hier modesty).

<Hollyhock God> Like, an actual shield? That would be funny.

<Dreams> (Yes!)

  • Miranda had no way of knowing who would be here.

<Immanuel> I did say to wear a bathing suit made of shields.

<Grayson> She is Shield's-Regal.

<Hollyhock God> As Isolde uses her mundane action to bump into Miranda from behind and push her onto the stage, Miranda instinctively conjures a great metal shield to cover her nakedness.

<Miranda> Black, thank you.

<Hollyhock God> I'm envisioning it as the Hylian Shield.

<Hollyhock God> But whatever. You arrive on stage with only a handheld prop between your helpless bosom and the world…

<Hollyhock God> Only to find that nobody has noticed you.

<Miranda> Weirdly, it's plane-facing and Z-depth sorted, such that it's always facing the viewer.

<Hollyhock God> The audience's attention is riveted on Dan's bathing suit, apparently to the expense of seeing anything else.

  • Miranda is annoyed, on account of: exciting, dangerous, and desirable.

<Hollyhock God> Dreams, Immanuel, down in the seats, you find it miraculously difficult to avoid looking at Dan's crotch, which is both tactically desirable and mysteriously adorable.

<Dreams> (But your exciting desirability is shielded!)

  • Grayson is sad because he spent all kinds of time creating a secret bathing suit.

<Hollyhock God> You feel as though you could forgive a bulge like that anything.

<Miranda> (*cough*)

<Dan> (Haha, adorable is like, the worst thing for a mans crotch to be. XD)

<Immanuel> Yes, it does bear a striking resemblance to a kitten with a bowl of yarn.

<Hollyhock God> Like, even if his penis stole your seal and burned down your library or something.

<Hollyhock God> Not sure why I made that reference.

<Dreams> (Oh, Phasael.)

  • Grayson glares at Phasael.
  • Dan swaggers in a manly way, unaware of the complete incongruity.

<Immanuel> Penises will be penises.

<Grayson> "No enchanting other contestants."

<Grayson> "I'm sure that's a rule."

<Hollyhock God> "There's no such rule," says Phasael, "not that anyone minds." He strips off his Speedo and waves it in the air. The audience doesn't pay any attention.

<Dreams> (It's probably just an unspoken formality.)

<Miranda> "If that were a rule, I'd still have a dress."

<Hollyhock God> Isolde, satisfied that nobody will see her, performs a miracle to make Miranda's shield see-through.

<Immanuel> I whisper to the Count, "Ah, now things are getting interesting."

<Miranda> "Ah, so, as I was saying, Your Excellency… I was hoping you could tell me about your death, and what happened after…"

<Miranda> That's a direct counter-miracle.

<Miranda> Inasmuch as its physicality was an acident.

<Hollyhock God> Well, she's doing her best!

<Miranda> The formal miracle being to shield her modesty and dignity.

<Hollyhock God> Maybe she hasn't beaten it yet, but she's giving it the old decolletage try.

<Miranda> (Ow.)

  • Immanuel golfclaps.

<Hollyhock God> Yeah, I'm kind of proud of that one.

<Grayson> o_O

<Dan> (Can Miranda shield us from that pun? )

<Hollyhock God> I award Isolde miracle level 50, in honor of my puns!

<Miranda> (No, you don't.)

<Hollyhock God> Meanwhile, the Serpent's eyes leave Dan's groin to focus on Miranda, who's state of undress is currently contested.

<Dan> (Or can I Excruciate it, if I switch teams for Phasael? >_> )

<Hollyhock God> Miranda desperately pours power into her shields.

<Miranda> Miranda gets annoyed at Isolde because she's doing actual business here. 5 TMPs into Divine Mantle.

<Hollyhock God> I don't even know what everybody else on stage is doing while this is going on.

  • Grayson considers helping Miranda, but decides she appears to have things well in hand.

<Hollyhock God> Under the weight of your intense power, your shield obtains a weight of solid opacity!

<Dan> I'm being adorable.

<Grayson> He gets tired of everyone looking at Dan, though, so he uses a Creation of Secrets to hide Phas's miracle from the crowd.

  • Dreams dons a quick Auctoritas Magister to be uninfluenced by Dan's ludicrously-enchanted bathing suit, blinks at the shenanigans occurring on the rest of the stage.

<Miranda> Doesn't have to be opaque. Just have to preserve her dignity and modesty.

<Hollyhock God> Rhys approves of your adorable manliness, clapping you on the shoulder, I guess.

<Miranda> To the extent it can be translucent while doing so, I suppose it has to.

<Hollyhock God> What happens if you make Phasael's miracle a secret, exactly?

<Dan> "Man, everything that Nobles do is just completely crazy, isn't it?"

<Hollyhock God> Everyone finds Dan incredibly sexy but doesn't know why?

<Dreams> It's adorable, but nobody knows it?

<Grayson> Yeah, Dreams's interpretation. People lose the ability to perceive it.

<Hollyhock God> "What?" asks Rhys. "Isn't this exactly what you wanted to be doing right now?"

<Hollyhock God> The miracle is hidden, then.

<Hollyhock God> And everybody realizes that Miranda is naked, so yay Secrets!

<Dan> "Nah, not like, crazy bad. Just like, crazy crazy, you know?"

<Dreams> Miranda and Phaesel both, I would think.

<Hollyhock God> Rhys considers drawing the Hot versus Crazy scale in the air, but decides that would be out of character.

<Hollyhock God> Oh, yeah, him too!

<Miranda> Naked, but with her dignity preserved by miracle-force 9.

<Grayson> Hey, her shield is working.

<Immanuel> She's naked but under a shield.

<Immanuel> We're all naked under something.

<Hollyhock God> Phasael stands on his head. This helps draw some attention away from Miranda.

<Miranda> "Now, as I was saying, i was hoping you could tell me about your deaths, and how you came back—"

<Hollyhock God> "Oh, that's a funny story," admits the Serpent.

  • Grayson flexes his arms and pulls his pistols seemingly out of thin air. He poses with them.

<Hollyhock God> "The third time I died, I mean. The other two were on purpose-"

<Hollyhock God> Rinne whistles at this display from somewhere unknown.

<Miranda> (Eh. Should have whistled when Miranda's state of undress was uncertain)

<Miranda> "I need to know everything you can tell me about it."

  • Miranda nods.

<Dan> (Is Miranda the only Bachelorette?)

<Immanuel> (Isolde.)

<Hollyhock God> "Well, it was a bit uncomfortable. And, of course, someone had to die to bring me back, to be my link to the worlds of life."

<Miranda> (It's an unfair advantage, I know)

<Hollyhock God> "Necessary, indeed, but unforgivable, that my carelessness caused such a thing."

<Hollyhock God> Meanwhile, the music ends, forcing you to leave the stage.

  • Dan high fives Phasael on the way off the stage, having forgotten what it was he didn't like about him.
  • Miranda tosses off a quick miracle to keep Isolde shielded from attention and/or desire.

<Hollyhock God> The judges award the prizes to Dan, Grayson, and Rhys, in that order.

<Hollyhock God> Although they may have forgotten why.

<Miranda> Hm. Enchanted for nothing!

<Dreams> The judges are clearly biased.

<Hollyhock God> The judges favor sexiness over antics!

<Miranda> Towards the men, yeah.

<Hollyhock God> Well, two of them are women, so possibly.

<Hollyhock God> And the other judge is a giant snake who's probably pro-lots-of-muscles.

<Dreams> And possibly female itself.

<Hollyhock God> Also you already got a blue ribbon so don't be greedy.

<Miranda> But probably not "male" as such.

<Miranda> Fair enough!

<Hollyhock God> I was assuming the Serpent of Radar was male, although I admit I'm not sure why.

<Miranda> Privilege allows you to assume male as the default gender.

<Immanuel> (…Because he's shaped like a phallus?)

<Hollyhock God> ………yeah, probab- oh no wait I like his answer better

<Hollyhock God> But Hollyhock privilege allows me to move on to the third event!

<Hollyhock God> Question and answer!

<Hollyhock God> Phasael and Dan reluctantly put on clothes.

<Dreams> (I picture tasteful evening wear, comfy chairs, and snifters of brandy.)

<Hollyhock God> Yeah, basically.

  • Immanuel is thrilled not to be a spectacle for once. Even though he's a dragon.

<Hollyhock God> Dan, you're up!

<Dreams> (Does the audience get to ask questions, or just the judges?)

  • Dan has changed back into his casual suit, and is swirling around a shot of a good whiskey. "Charmed to be here tonight, what have you got for me?"

<Hollyhock God> Albemarle carefully removes her question from an envelope, stares at it as though she has no idea what it means, and then reads it:

<Hollyhock God> "Why is the ability to share data crucial to Creation's future, Dan?"

<Hollyhock God> Incidentally, Aspect makes it reasonable to say "I answer the question with incredible eloquence and wisdom" and be vague about what you actually said if you prefer.

<Dan> "Ah, an excellent question. I shouldn't have to point out the dangers of ignorance to any of you, and without the ability to share data, only tedious repetition of effort allows one to remedy this dangerous sitation. To best utilize the time of everyone inolved, the ability to share data is thus of paramout importance."

<Dan> (Plus Aspect. >_> )

<Hollyhock God> Interesting! Now, back into your cone of seclusion!

  • Dan says this, as probably the least informed Noble in the entire room >_>

<Hollyhock God> While you wait in your boxes, the audience gets to listen to Rhys fielding a question about architecture, which is apparently something he knows about, and Isolde being asked to compose a sonnet on the spot.

<Hollyhock God> Then it's Grayson's turn:

<Hollyhock God> Fine opens the envelope and reads: "Tell me something I don't know."

<Grayson> Hmm. I'll spend 4AMP and do a Greater Divination, looking specifically for things people are hiding from Duchess Fine.

  • Immanuel would be tugging at his collar if dragons had them.

<Hollyhock God> Hm, lots of people would like to sleep with her, Noel has gone to some trouble to keep her believing Rhys is a lot more chaste than he really is in the name of domestic harmony (which is also a secret from Rhys)… hm, secrets are hard to extemporize. Somebody help me invent some.

<Hollyhock God> Phasael sent a few friends to rob the moon while she's here watching him dance naked?

<Miranda> Maxiel is a Mimic.

<Hollyhock God> The moon landings were real after all, and the astronauts are hiding in her basement?

<Grayson> I'll take Phasael robbing the moon, if that's happening.

<Dreams> (Last year at the Summer Empress's birthday party, she had something stuck in her teeth the entire time.)

<Hollyhock God> That is in fact happening.

<Immanuel> Light actually is a particle?

<Miranda> Immanuel has naked photos of Fine.

<Hollyhock God> (That was going to be Phasael's answer to his question, the scamp. Even if the question was something like "What is your name?")

<Dreams> (Yes! Steal his thunder! And also potentially thwart his plane.)

<Hollyhock God> But what if he revokes Dan's sexiness in vengeance?

<Grayson> "Well, Duchess, Mr. mery-Harumaph is robbing your Chancel while you and your Familia are busy here."

<Grayson> "I believe he's up next; perhaps he can provide you with more details on his plot and his allies."

<Dreams> (Now Noel must choose between bidding on Miranda and saving the chancel! Struggle!)

<Hollyhock God> Noel and Fine both leave. Fine casts her vote for Grayson first.

<Immanuel> Uh-oh.

<Hollyhock God> Sorry, Miranda, but Maxiel's unconscious body comes first!

<Immanuel> What if the final vote is a tie?

<Hollyhock God> It's actually probably some kind of point-value system, but I'm not going to go into that.

<Miranda> (Dammit, I kinda wanted that.)

<Hollyhock God> Anyway, Miranda eventually finds herself called up, after Phasael has dodged the judge's questions and been forgiven.

<Hollyhock God> (It's not like Miranda can't understand putting duty to your Imperator first.)

<Miranda> (I meant as a player.)

<Hollyhock God> (She probably wants Noel even more now.)

<Miranda> (Depends. That's an Affliction, so it's really mostly your call.)

  • Hollyhock God makes a note of this.

<Hollyhock God> Miranda can't decide how she feels about Noel; but you still get to.

<Miranda> "Right, so how did he sacrifice his life for yours? What was the mechanism?"

<Dreams> (Maybe he placed a bid by proxy.)

<Hollyhock God> The Serpent lets this question wait for a minute as the card containing your question is brought to him.

<Hollyhock God> Then he reads: "How far is too far when it comes to obtaining what you desire?"

<Miranda> (Eh, he's fast.)

<Hollyhock God> The question is, who wrote the questions?

  • Miranda takes a breath.

<Miranda> "… Desire should seldom, if ever, be the governing principle behind one's actions, and is thus essentially irrelevant to the determination. I will do whatever must be done to fulfil my responsibilities, and my obligations. What I want, as a person- what I 'desire'- barely weighs in that calculation."

<Grayson> Backstage, a look of concern crosses Grayson's face.

<Dan> (We wrapping this up soon? I am le hungry.)

  • Dreams has, frankly, been concerned about this for a while.

<Hollyhock God> Meanwhile, without regard for Miranda's worrying speech, Rhys is trying to convince Dan to join his fraternity, possibly with more success this time.

<Hollyhock God> (Let me see, Miranda's question, then we can have the bidding, then we can wrap everything up.)

  • Dan is pretty much totally up for it.

<Hollyhock God> "Great!" says Rhys. "Somebody should drag you away for the initation soon enough."

<Hollyhock God> Does Miranda have another paragraph coming?

<Miranda> Nah.

<Miranda> Should I?

<Hollyhock God> No, I just wasn't sure if you were done.

<Dreams> (It'd be kind of funny to keep going on about it until somebody had to interrupt you.)

<Hollyhock God> The judges give the awards to Grayson, Phasael, and Isolde.

<Hollyhock God> Now, for the bidding!

<Dan> (One of the PCs won each of the three contests. I SMELL NARRATIVE GAMING. >_> )

<Hollyhock God> After the contestants are ushered away, a mad bidding war erupts over Dan, eventually concluding when a green-skinned earth goddess bids 21 million takkarash and a staff carved from the spine of the last dinosaur, which the judges value at one million OTC.

<Hollyhock God> Dan and his busty beauty wander away into an adventure which we shall cover at a later date.

<Dan> (What's takkarash ?)

<Hollyhock God> Grayson receives two bids from two Powers only slightly known to you, who place identical bids at the same time and then fall into a staring contest.

<Dreams> (Proportional to the cost of a bump on the head? Or that the one worth a bushel of enemies dispatched?)

<Immanuel> The power of redundancy?

<Hollyhock God> Eventually, one of them is forced to break away and the other increases her bid by a single buddhitanka, carrying the day.

<Dreams> (Widdershins and Deisel!)

<Hollyhock God> Man, I can't even remember which coin it is.

<Miranda> (Wait, a million OTC? It's worth that much more than Acceptance?)

<Hollyhock God> I thought Acceptance was 12 million OTC.

<Dreams> (Wasn't Acceptance 12 million?)

<Immanuel> (Acceptance was worth 12m.)

<Grayson> (Acceptance was 12mil, wasn't it?)

<Miranda> (Oh, well, then, nevermind, yeah, vertibrae.)

<Immanuel> (Before purification. I don't think we got an actual value for a purified Weapon.)

<Hollyhock God> Also OTC probably isn't worth anything close to what it was worth last week. It wobbles like mad.

<Hollyhock God> Much like you would expect sentient money to do.

<Immanuel> That strikes me as about the least reliable thing in the universe.

<Dreams> (What's a million people worth? Depends on the people!)

<Dan> I don't know, if I were picking a sentient currency, I'd probably pick one that didn't much like to change it's mind.

<Hollyhock God> Meanwhile, wrapping this up quickly, Remus bribes everyone else not to vote on Miranda so he can do it, offering a generous five million OTC.

<Hollyhock God> Alas, the unflappably unbribable Noel was driven away by Excrucian malice.

<Miranda> (Boo. :( )

<Dreams> Perhaps Remus will sell her to him.

<Immanuel> That's a shame!

<Hollyhock God> Still, when Miranda arrives home that night, she finds an auction paddle lying on her bed.

<Immanuel> No paddle jokes.

<Hollyhock God> It must have come in through her broken window, and written on it is "Five million and one."

  • Dreams bids quite respectably on Will, and a bit on Phaesel but expects to be outbid on that part.
  • Immanuel bids on Phasael modestly but doubts he will win.

<Hollyhock God> I'm assuming the party ends when a riot breaks out over Phasael and he and several Nobles have to be bounced.

  • Immanuel also bids on Isolde.

<Hollyhock God> For the sake of drama and giving everyone a date next week, I shall allow you both to win!

<Hollyhock God> That's really all there is to say on the matter.

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