Fifth Story - Messages From Beyond

<Rand Brittain> So I thought today we might try working on a few of your Projects. People seemed to want to explore that.

<Rand Brittain> Which seems to mean giving them space to be worked on deliberately.

<ADamiani> But however will I win the heart of Duchess Fine?

<Rand Brittain> Convince an Excrucian to extract it; then beat him in a game of poker.

<ADamiani> Too much work. I planned on just asking Henry. He's a doctor, you know.

<ADamiani> That obsidian scalpel needs to come up at some point.

<Rand Brittain> I think he said he'd be absent today.

<ADamiani> I know!

<ADamiani> Besides, I'm pretty sure Duchess Fine is heartless anyhow.

<Rand Brittain> Poor Duchess!

<Rand Brittain> All she ever did was want to murder Immanuel! Is that so wrong?

<ADamiani> After all, whom among us has not wanted to… uh. I probably shouldn't admit that.

<Rand Brittain> I think we all already knew.

<Rand Brittain> Any, Mr. Vance, if you want some quotes on the wiki, just point me towards interesting things you've said that you'd like to be able to copy-paste when the subject comes up again.

<Rand Brittain> On the new forums I can no longer just automatically have them served up to me :(

<The Demented One> lol I've said nothing interesting :<

<Rand Brittain> Lecture moar!

<Rand Brittain> What's a good controversial topic?

<Rand Brittain> "What ought Lunars to be like?"

<The Demented One> 20% cooler.

<Rand Brittain> "Are ghosts people?"

<Rand Brittain> Yes, Lunars should be ponies; this is so.

<Rand Brittain> It's occurred to me that one part of the Lunar problem is that their magical inspirations and their fictional inspirations don't overlap in any way.

<ADamiani> …. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: The Lunars must be possible.

<Rand Brittain> Conan and Burnt Njal and whoever don't shapeshift.

<Rand Brittain> And Anansi and Baba Yaga aren't barbarians in that sense.

<ADamiani> They do overlap.

<ADamiani> They overlap in one very specific way.

<ADamiani> If you make them Garou.

<Rand Brittain> :(

<ADamiani> Which nobody wants.

<ADamiani> So in 2e they ditched the Conan thing without making them Anansi.

<Rand Brittain> I feel like maybe you could do something with totemic forms, where you make something like a Form of Magical Pony Charm, that gives you the form of a magical pony, and branch pony magic Charms off of that in a sort of spiderweb shape.

<Rand Brittain> But that wouldn't make an individual Lunar's forms very unique.

<ADamiani> Well… yes, it could.

<ADamiani> You'd just be mixing and matching bits from different animal Charm trees.

<Rand Brittain> Because you'd all be using Form of Magical Pony, even if you skin it as Rainbow Dash and use some Charms alongside it that you learned from the Form of Sprinting Cat tree.

<ADamiani> Like, there'd be a Monkey tree, and a Tiger tree and an Elephant tree and a Raven tree. And you'd end up as a winged monkey with stripes for camolfague and tusks.

<Rand Brittain> I feel like the actual shapeshifting needs to be a more narrativist thing.

<Rand Brittain> If only because stats for individual forms is just not practical in Storyteller.

<The Demented One> Mmmm.

<ADamiani> Really?

<The Demented One> All I can say about how Lunars are gonna end up is

<The Demented One> [REDACTED]

<ADamiani> Oh, no.

  • Rand Brittain adds another point to Remus' Treasure.

<Rand Brittain> It's 13 now.

<The Demented One> What does a rank-13 Treasure miracle look like?

<Rand Brittain> It looks like all the money getting up and walking out of your accounts.

<Rand Brittain> Or maybe dollar bills start making faces at you!

<Rand Brittain> Hm, it's after six.

<Rand Brittain> Today, Projects!

<Rand Brittain> You wanted time to focus on Projects.

<Hollyhock God> Miranda's got her resurrection deal going on.

<ADamiani> Ben! I am sorry for neglecting you on the list of jar miracles!

<Hollyhock God> David wants to make out with Uncertainty, maybe.

<Hollyhock God> Dreams has no projects because he is just chill, I guess.

<Hollyhock God> You should open a yogurt shop.

<Hollyhock God> I'm seriously considering opening my own yogurt shop this summer.

<Hollyhock God> We might as well start with Miranda. Have you got any steps you've been wanting to take to try and advance your Project?

<Miranda> Hm. Well, aside from the blood of God, I was thinking of finding out how the other Imperators who have died have come back, and trying to investigate where Angels go when they die.

<Hollyhock God> A question of metaphysics!

<Hollyhock God> It's certainly possible to interrogate some post-death Imperators.

<Hollyhock God> And there are roads to death, somewhere.

<Miranda> I have this horrible image of Osiris tied up to a chair ("Ve haff vays of makink you talk!")

<Hollyhock God> It may yet come to that.

<Hollyhock God> Although I feel like being torn to bits is just a Deadly Wound, not dead.

<Miranda> No, being torn to bits inflicts the Deadly Wound: "Dead".

<Dreams> Well, you tear someone to bits when they're out of wounds, that's fairly final, yes?

<Miranda> They just cease to be a PC. Which Osiris never was to begin with.

<Miranda> (Wow, really, only 3 players?)

<Hollyhock God> 2 declared absence in advance, so 2 are still unaccounted for.

<Miranda> Right. So, which Imperators can I make an appointment to talk to?

<Hollyhock God> You're welcome to suggest any Imperator you like.

<Hollyhock God> The Serpent of Radar is in the book, or you could try Marley again.

<Miranda> The Serpent of Radar hasn't died and come back, has he?

<Hollyhock God> Or make up someone interesting.

<Hollyhock God> Three times!

<Hollyhock God> Check his card.

<Dreams> According to the book, it's done it… yes.

<Miranda> Huh. Like a Phoenix, even. OK, I guess that works. Are there any public accounts of this?

<Hollyhock God> Sure, it's in the Field Guide to the Powers.

<Hollyhock God> Don't you own a copy?

  • Hollyhock God notes that the Field Guide is an in-character document.

<Hollyhock God> Logically, anything in the book is known in the setting.

<Miranda> I haven't downloaded the new version with the presumably prety MUran art.

<Dreams> Miranda doesn't trust documents possibly influenced by Excrucians!

<Dreams> That shifty Genseric Dace's hand is all over that "field guide".

<Miranda> Really need to do that. But for right now, are there any longer form accounts?

<The Demented One> Wait…so we're inherently justified in metagaming from the corebook by virtue of the corebook existing in the setting.

<The Demented One> My head just exploded.

<The Demented One> BORGSTROOOM!

<Hollyhock God> Just don't metagame in a way that will get Jenna in trouble with Lord Entropy.

<Hollyhock God> The Deuteronomy incident nearly got very ugly.

<Miranda> 's OK. James Wallis will protect her.

<Hollyhock God> James is a busy man!

<Hollyhock God> Anyway, you might have some books on the Serpent of Radar in the Chancel library.

<Hollyhock God> Good old Chancel libraries, sources of so much data. Who buys all these books, anyway?

<Miranda> We don't buy books.

<Miranda> We burn them.

<Hollyhock God> I guess the library is in the pit, then.

<Dreams> Alternatively, Commerce buys them, of course.

<Miranda> He pays someone to burn them.

<Miranda> Pretty sure The Library of Alexandria is down there somewhere.

<The Demented One> Or just call in favors from sundry librarians and printers

<Miranda> Quick, Robin, to the Library!

<Hollyhock God> Hm, "Serpentius Radaricus!" This Latin is just spurious enough to work.

<Hollyhock God> Hm, three times the Serpent has died and been called back from the lands of death when it was sung by some Power or mortal.

<Hollyhock God> Possibly his being the Imperator of Self-Creation has something to do with it.

<Hollyhock God> You also have some data on the lands of death, although not very much.

<Dreams> Is Miranda researching in furtive secret or is this a scene others can join?

<Hollyhock God> All the books agree on is that the netherworld is goddamn weird, and that nothing in it is quite like it was in life.

<Miranda> Nah. Though she's not particularly open about what she's doing, she's not really hiding it either. More falling into a pit of self-absorbed obsession.

<Miranda> Hmm. How do you get to the lands of the dead?

<Dreams> Pretty easily!

<Miranda> (Actually, let's put that out-loud so someone has something to respond to.)

<Miranda> "Hmm. How do you get to the lands of the dead?"

<Dreams> "Well, there's at least one fairly easy way."

<Hollyhock God> Well, you can die, yes. Or you can walk, although you don't have any maps.

<Dreams> "Okay, for you, it's actually a bit difficult, as I recall."

<Miranda> "… ask Bridges. I suppose that works."

<The Demented One> "Can we not buy a ticket?"

<Hollyhock God> Yes, an immortal might not be able to get in at all. That would be funny.

<Miranda> (Yo, Commerce! Put on your name.)

<Hollyhock God> Might be wise to invest in an Anchor or two.

<Hollyhock God> Eh, I'll just edit the logs later anyway.

<Hollyhock God> I always correct the handles to your character names.

<David> (derp)

<Hollyhock God> Stupid ponies. Now whenever someone says that, I envision one of their eyes swinging out of alignment.

<Miranda> "Where would we even buy a ticket? Preferably a return ticket."

<David> "Aeneas did it with a golden bough. The Underworld's economy might have changed in the last few thousand years, but I'm certain the basic principle should remain the same…do we know any powers who might have connections there?"

<Miranda> "Besides you?"

  • Miranda wipes her fingers off. All the burned books are somehow sooty, which makes no sense.

<Hollyhock God> Marley is the obvious choice there. Or someone like Noel, who is good at opening ways.

<Hollyhock God> Or maybe Rinne, via some sort of cat-in-a-box magic.

<Hollyhock God> That would be funny, actually.

<Miranda> Marley claimed her domain didn't cover the dead.

<Dreams> "Yes, but she definitely governs the act which takes a person to the lands of the dead, doesn't she?"

<Hollyhock God> Sure, but she knows how to get into being dead.

<Miranda> She may have some views on it being a one-way transition. I suppose it doesn't hurt to ask (unless we want to pull Rinne into this for David's Project?)

<Hollyhock God> I dunno, call anyone you like. I'd say "stick a fork in the electric socket and have someone to revive you" but that's not possible for Miranda.

<David> (Marley seems more intuitive, so let's hit her up first.)

<Miranda> I'm worried that one of us dying might destroy the Estate.

<Miranda> But OK. Marley it is!

<Dreams> "Well, there's capital-D Dead and lower-case d dead. Plenty of Powers who are ghosts."

<Hollyhock God> Trying the Schrodinger's Cat trick might be even worse for your Estate. :)

<Hollyhock God> How does Miranda call people she wants to get in touch with?

<Dreams> Well, let's hope Marley knows of some cave in Greece we can just walk to, then.

<Miranda> (My assumption had been prayer phone. Uh. You know who does have her number?)

<Miranda> "David, would you kindly put me in touch with Marley?"

  • David punches some buttons, and hands his cellphone over to Shields.

<David> "Ghoooooost phoooone."

<Hollyhock God> The ghost phone rings. Well, wails.

<Miranda> "Hey, Edison tried to invent one of these once."

<Miranda> "Oh, wait, ringing, hold on."

<Miranda> "… she has Requiem as a ringtone?"

<Hollyhock God> "I am Death. How may I serve you?"

<Hollyhock God> "Oh, wait, it's you."

<Hollyhock God> "Never mind. Not a customer. How are things?"

<Miranda> "Hi, Marley. How are things?"

<Miranda> "Jinx."

<Dreams> ("You owe me a coke. Also, ANSWERS.")

<Hollyhock God> "Well, you know," says Marley. "Business rarely changes much. Rarely much you'd want to talk about."

<Miranda> "Hey, I was hoping you could help me out- I'm trying to figure out how to visit the lands of the dead. Traditionally, getting from point A to point, er, Omega, is usually your baliwick."

<Hollyhock God> "I see," says Marley, in a deliberate sort of way.

<Hollyhock God> "What sort of business takes you there, I find myself wondering?"

<Dreams> ("Oh, violating the sanctity of your Estate all over the place.")

  • Dreams mouths a few words without saying anything out loud.

<Miranda> "Part of the grieving process."

<Miranda> (Ding! Bargaining! Commerce, this should be your show. :) )

<Hollyhock God> "Mmm. The netherworld is an odd sort of place, only kind of my show."

<Hollyhock God> "Death is change, and anything you find in the lands of death will have changed."

<Hollyhock God> "And you, Domina, are outside my reach. The laws of the world do not permit Death to claim you."

<Hollyhock God> "You might send a servant or a Sibling, but you cannot enter yourself."

<Miranda> "You must be mistaken; my Estate explicitly permits the vulnerability of the protected; it's different than immunity."

<Hollyhock God> "Everything is vulnerable in its way, but you yourself cannot die."

<Miranda> "I beg your pardon?"

<David> "Ask for a visa!"

<Hollyhock God> Miranda, you have Active Immortality, remember?

<Dreams> "Diplomatic ambassadorship!"

<Miranda> (No, he's right, plot-wise it's better for someone else to go.)

<David> "Conjugal visit!"

<Hollyhock God> I just think its funnier if you have to send a telepresence robot.

<Miranda> (HG: Miranda just looks at this as a really good shield. I think it surprises her, substantially if there's an actual law of her nature— especially one that didn't apply to Praxael. I don't think what you're saying is wrong, just that it doesn't jibe with her prior understanding of herself, so she's being dumb and arguing with Death, who would know, after all.)

<Hollyhock God> Or, you know, an Anchor. Or Dreams.

<Hollyhock God> "Believe me, I would know," says Marley. "You might be unmade by an Excrucian's sword, but you cannot die."

  • Miranda gives a long sigh.

<Miranda> "Not even for a visit? I've been advised to ask for a visa, or a diplomatic ambassadorship? Really? No? Hm."

<Hollyhock God> "I will send you a map, but what you decide to do with it is up to you."

  • Miranda nods.

<Miranda> "Thank you Marley, that's all I can ask."

<Dreams> Ghost video phone!

<Hollyhock God> A section of the wallpaper curls up and dies.

<Hollyhock God> It falls from the wall and drifts to your feet.

<Miranda> "Can she do that in our chancel?" Miranda hisses to her siblings, though the answer is fairly obvious.

<Hollyhock God> In the cracked whorls of ink you can see the lines of Marley's map, showing low places from which a suitable person might enter the Netherworld.

<Hollyhock God> Oh, Death can go anywhere, silly!

<Hollyhock God> Well, not that Miranda would know, immortal that she is.

<David> "So…who gets to go to spookytown?"

<Miranda> (Yeah. Miranda doesn't get Death, apparently.)

<Dreams> "Well, it's not like, with a bit of effort, you couldn't have a shield appear by her feet or such."

<Miranda> "Yes, but I thought our Auctoritas was better than-" Miranda sighs. "I don't suppose I could persuade one of you to descend into the lands beyond death and return?"

<Dreams> "We could both go. Bargaining with death is a long-standing tradition, but in that sleep of death etc etc."

<Hollyhock God> You could always try sending an Anchor, or giving them a protective shield and incarnating in it.

<Hollyhock God> Then you might at least be able to see what's going on.

<Miranda> (Miranda has Treasure 0 and no Anchor-Bonds.)

<Dreams> In caring too much for everyone, she sacrifices her ability to care about anyone in particular.

<Miranda> (And if she can't die, she probably can't incarnate in something and walk on in. But she DOES have Domain 5, so divination is cheap.)

<Hollyhock God> You could still incarnate within a shield using Persona.

<Dreams> Or just use major divinations, yes.

<Dreams> Domain: still occasionally useful!

<Miranda> (Haaaa.)

<Hollyhock God> Speaking of, what are you looking for in Double Hell anyway?

<Dreams> "Speaking of which, what would we be looking for, exactly?"

<Miranda> "Praxael."

<David> "Ghost Prax?"

<Miranda> "It worked for Theseus."

<Dreams> "Yes, but he was looking for a dead mortal, as I recall. Also, mythical."

<Miranda> "He was the dead mortal. And you're mythical."

<Hollyhock God> There are certainly ghostly mortals in the Underworld, and the Serpent has been into the realms of death and been brought back, but you haven't heard of visiting the netherworld to see an Imperator before. At any rate, it's probably difficult and dangerous, but you can try.

<Dreams> Or she can have others try on her behalf!

<Dreams> "Not in that sense. Well, not often in that sense."

<Dreams> "I mean, I'm sure we've all been imaginary for a little bit now and again."

<Miranda> Miranda smirks " 'Dreams exist only in the mind', or so you've said."

  • Miranda goes to a shelf and pulls down a shield.

<Dreams> "Hmmm. Yes, that reminds me, I really do need to get to work on…. but I digress. To New Jersey!"

<Hollyhock God> So, you're prepared to venture into death to support Miranda's project?

<Miranda> "The road to death begins in New Jersey?"

<Dreams> "Well, that's one of the entrances mentioned. Would you prefer one of these other ones? Oooh, Antarctica. You know, I've never been?"

  • Dreams might be reading the map wrong if the HG has somewhere specific in mind.

<Miranda> "Really? You must go, it's lovely this time of year… although a pity about the hole in the Ozone layer. I really need to get around to fixing that…"

<Hollyhock God> I have no particular plans.

  • Miranda hands the sheild to Dreams.

<Dreams> "One of us really should cultivate a miraculous power of effortless transportation one of these days."

<Miranda> "Bridges."

<Dreams> (And not Commerce? "Here you go, David, may this protect you from all harm on your journey! Dreams, good luck.")

<Miranda> "Also, Commerce has an app for that."

  • Miranda hands another shield to Commerce.

<David> "Thanks Miranda."

<Hollyhock God> Are they… magical?

  • David chucks the shield to his many-tentacled butler.

<Dreams> (Presumably, at the very least, imbued with lesser preservations to make them extremely difficult to break?)

<Miranda> "These are the shields of Hector and Achilles, respectively. They'll provide me a mystic link to aid you if the need arises. May they bring you better luck than they did their original bearers."

<Miranda> (Sure. Although it would be amusing if they were different.)

<Miranda> (Say one greater, one lesser.)

<Miranda> "You'll understand when I tell you they are great treasures of my estate, and I would very much like them returned… but not so much as I want to see the both of you again."

  • Lafing_Cat has joined #lastmiracle
  • Miranda performs this bestowal of mythic arms on the side of the Jersey turnpike.
  • Miranda activates and sustains a divination on the shields' locations.

<Miranda> (Hey, Cat)

<Miranda> (You're just in time for the descent into the land of the dead. Or you can listen to me angst about being unable to die.)

<Hollyhock God> Yes, the land of the dead. Please pack carefully.

<Lafing_Cat> (Actually as I was telling Rand, I have to run. Family in town for Easter.)

<Hollyhock God> The steps leading down into this old tomb apparently go down and down, out of the ordinary world and into the lands of death.

  • Lafing_Cat has quit

<Miranda> "I also packed a lunch. Uh. You know not to eat anything you find down there, right?"

<David> "Durrr."

<Miranda> "Just checking."

<Hollyhock God> And so?

<Miranda> Well. I can't actually go through. But I'm going to walk up and find out what happens.

<Dreams> Indeed!

<David> Down, down, down we go.

<Hollyhock God> You walk down the steps.

<Hollyhock God> First there is light, then there isn't.

<Hollyhock God> Then, there's light again ahead of you, as torches appear in the darkness.

<Hollyhock God> The narrow stairs widen until you find yourself on the top of a very tall stone staircase leading down into a very dark country.

<Hollyhock God> In the distance, you can see a few lights that might be towns or cities, but then again, might not.

<Hollyhock God> The netherworld might pass for the real world if you squinted, but the trees are twisted and unhealthy, and the shape of everything is just slightly out of true.

<Miranda> "… yeah. Jersey."

  • David dials Praxiel's number.

<Dreams> (Yeah, at what point does Miranda get balked by some mysterious force?)

<Hollyhock God> Where there's light again.

<Hollyhock God> All of a sudden, she reaches a dead end, and calls out to you only to find that you aren't there anymore.

<Hollyhock God> Anyway, the phone rings. You think you hear a voice, but it's garbled.

<David> "Prax! Prax, can you hear me?"

  • David boosts the signal with a Treasure 5 miracle
  • Dreams raises an eyebrow, will be impressed if this actually works.

<Hollyhock God> A voice answers, loud and clear, but not Praxael's: "This is not for you."

<Hollyhock God> Then silence as your phone reboots.

  • Dreams closes his eyes and lives out as the dreams of the dead, hunting for one with signs of having been touched by Praxael's presence.

<Hollyhock God> Hm. This is very confusing. The dead don't seem to dream, but their equivalent of existence is dreamlike in a way that affords you purchase.

<Dreams> (It is entirely possible that the dead neither sleep nor dream, mind you. But in case they do!)

<Hollyhock God> You can feel the fabric of the netherworld through the pattern of their sleeping lives. It's like a giant funnel on whose lip you stand, and you can feel the shapes of the minds you inhabit changing and stretching as you go further down…. and down….

<Hollyhock God> You get the feeling that doing this very often, or going too far down, could be unhealthy.

<Hollyhock God> At least, if you want to be able to leave again.

<Hollyhock God> The edges of the netherworld are the areas most like life. If there's an Imperator here, he's very far down.

<Hollyhock God> Far enough down that you might well need someone else to sing you back into life to find your way out.

  • Dreams relays this information to David.

<Dreams> And Miranda by shield-phone.

<David> "So that sounds pretty terrible. Should we send in Anchors?"

<Dreams> "I'm not sure that'd be enough of a remove."

<Dreams> "And would you really want to risk Nng'Ketesh?"

<Miranda> Miranda is by herself right now, trying not to hyperventilate, having just sent two members of her Familia on a mission into the lands of death with transparently inadequate planning. And, oh, yeah, she will never, ever die. Strangely, this is not comforting.

<Hollyhock God> I hope you aren't still sitting in the dark.

<Dreams> "Regardless, I'm sure you have a point-of-no-return app on that phone of yours? We can probably go a bit further, at least. Perhaps find a native guide, or somebody who knows something useful."

<Miranda> On the cell: "Can you string a trail behind you?"

<David> "I'd hate to lose Nng'Ketesh, but not all my anchors are so special. A lot of people owe me favors, I'm sure some of them are dead."

<Dreams> "Heh."

<Dreams> "I'd advise against possession of them while they go further, then. But communication… might be safe?"

  • David casts about psychically for any nearby ghosts who just happen to owe him something.

<Dreams> Departed members of the cult of business.

  • David also subconsciously uses a Treasure 4 miracle to get some help, ensuring that yes, there is such a nearby ghost.

<Miranda> (Jacob Marley?)

<Hollyhock God> Hm, can you do that? Cast about for members of a collection of Anchors?

<David> (Accursed Anchor-collections!)

<Miranda> (It's Treasure. I just assume if someone says they can do it they can do it.)

<Dreams> (Activate the phone's wondrous power to find contacts?)

<Hollyhock God> I suppose the phone can probably do it.

<Hollyhock God> Your phone picks up the telephone signal of an old business associate, Dieter Rubi.

  • Dreams could discreetly look the other way and pretend you were doing it by miraculous will alone.

<Hollyhock God> He was in the telecommunications business until he was hit by a car. Owed you money.

<Hollyhock God> He's that way.

  • Hollyhock God points.

<David> "Dieter! Hello old friend, how're you doing? Other than, um, the being dead part."

<David> David amicably chats with his departed associate as he ambles over towards him, subtly maneuvering the conversation towards the topic of money, vis a vis the owing of it, with specific regard to himself.

<Hollyhock God> "Dieter cannot answer the phone right now," says Dieter's voice. "His flesh was weak. Please leave a message after the tone and he will communicate with you shortly."

<Hollyhock God> You remember often getting his mailbox in life. He was generally on the phone with someone else, morning, noon, and night.

<Miranda> (… is this technically a dungeon crawl?)

<Hollyhock God> You won't know if it's a dungeon until you try to leave!

  • David is undeterred by the encoded machine persistence of the answering machine, and continues his chat until they've found the ghost in question.

<Hollyhock God> So you just leave a twenty-minute message in his voicemail box?

<David> I've done it before!

<Dreams> (Whoops, Miranda has doomed two of her Familia to eternity in the underworld! On the plus side, five Destiny for her Project!)

<Hollyhock God> Well, there's two of you, so that counts as two Failures.

<Hollyhock God> David continues his one-sided conversation as you move through the dark world towards the source of the phone signal.

<Hollyhock God> You start finding broken, rusting scraps of machinery along the road.

<Hollyhock God> Figures push ploughs and lawnmowers through dead earth that have begun to fuse with their flesh.

<Hollyhock God> Eventually you find Dieter's office, just as you last saw it, except that the building is missing.

<Miranda> (Hey, I can totally milk a revelation out of this never-dying thing. Although it's more a question starting-point.)

<Hollyhock God> It's just Dieter's desk, surrounded by Dieter's filing cabinets and his wine chiller and a number of other articles of furniture, sitting out in open country.

<Hollyhock God> And the ghost of Dieter sits in Dieter's chair. His cell phone, slightly discolored with time, is sitting embedded in his skull where most people would have a face.

<Hollyhock God> Five bars.

<David> 0_0

<David> "Dieter, old friend! Have I got a deal for you!"

  • Dreams almost helps himself to a bottle of wine, then recalls that would be a bad idea, and stops.

<Hollyhock God> Dieter does not respond. You hear a click as the voicemail box runs out of room and stops recording. Apparently twenty minutes was the limit.

<Hollyhock God> Then your phone rings.

  • Hollyhock God considers putting away Book of the Dead for Geist and pulling out the sections on Voidtech for inspiration.

<David> "Dieter!"

<David> "Old friend!"

<David> "What is with your face?"

<Hollyhock God> You hear heavy, labored breathing, like someone straining to speak.

<Hollyhock God> But no words come from Dieter or from your answered phone.

<Hollyhock God> Eventually you hang up, nervously.

<Hollyhock God> Your phone rings again.

  • David picks up.

<Miranda> (Put away Book of the Dead for Compass: Autocthonia, and pull out the sections on Voidtech for inspiration.)

<Hollyhock God> Heavy, wet breaths, but no words.

<David> "Okay, that's it, ghost phone sucks."

  • Dreams waves his hand, imbue Dieter's phone with the dream-property of revealing inner depths, to hopefully allow better communication.
  • David ill-advisedly possesses Dieter.

<Hollyhock God> I don't think you're sufficiently in-tune with him to do that.

  • David psychically rebounds off of Dieter's as-of-yet-unattunable mind.

<David> "Oh, my head."

<Hollyhock God> There's also a philosophical question about whether a) Dieter still owes you, and b) whether this is really him.

<Hollyhock God> You hang up the phone. It rings again.

  • David grumble grumble answer phone

<Hollyhock God> More breaths, no words.

<David> "Dieter, if you can hear me, but can't talk back, would you please give me three heavy breaths in a row?"

<Hollyhock God> Coughing. The connection breaks.

<David> "God damn it!"

<Hollyhock God> Your phone rings.

<David> ka-pick-up

<Hollyhock God> Still no words.

<Hollyhock God> Whenever you try to communicate with whoever is there, the connection breaks. Then the phone rings again.

<David> "Three heavy breaths for yes, uncomfortable creepy silence for no–do you need me to get you a voice? I can do that, I'm sure Dreams doesn't need his."

<Hollyhock God> It seems awful that Dieter, who left so many hour-long messages in your box about nothing important, should suddenly have so much trouble communicating with you.

  • David grows angry at his erstwhile perfect god-phone, and chucks it onto the desk, inadvertently hitting its speakerphone button. It can stay there until it learns to be a good phone.

<David> "Dreams, could you help get us in touch?"

<Hollyhock God> It rings again. For simplicity, we'll assume that this time you ignore it.

<Hollyhock God> Then it stops.

<Hollyhock God> You have 1 message.

<Dreams> "I tried. It didn't seem to have much of a result."

  • David plays the message on speaker.

<Dreams> "Oh, look at that."

<Hollyhock God> "Monaghan, my old friend. It has been so long since we spoke. So long since I spoke to anyone. I call and call and no one answers me. No one returns my messages. Is anyone still out there? Where are you? Please call me back."

  • David calls the ghost businessman back, anticipating disappointment.

<Hollyhock God> No one answers, but you can leave a message.

<David> "Dieter, if you can hear me, I'm pretty sure we're having some connection troubles due to you being dead. If you're getting this, would you please let me know in your next message. I'd also like to know if you'd be up for a business deal." Hang up.

<Hollyhock God> Your phone rings.

<David> Patient waiting!

  • Dreams doodles little ghost-miracle dreams of color and light on the space in front of him while waiting.

<Hollyhock God> You have one message: "Dead? That car? No! It can't be! I was still waiting for Susana to call me back! And George! And you! What am I going to do? There are so many things I hadn't done…."

  • David waits for the message to end, and dials back.

<Dreams> "One suddenly wonders the degree to which unfinished business lines up with our brother Henry's Estate."

<David> "Oh, you hadn't realize, shame, shame. Yeah, I can see you right now, you're a ghost, and you've got a cell phone growing out of your face; it's kind of freaking me out. You know, if you'd do me a very easy favor, I think I could get you back to life."

<Hollyhock God> Can you really?

<Dreams> He can claim to!

<David> I've never tried!

<David> And I'd need a willing seller.

<Hollyhock God> I mean, you'd have to have a life somewhere.

<Dreams> If only we had some kind of miraculous repository of life-force or something.

<Dreams> Oh, wait, we told it to cool its heels for now. Probably not best to get it started again.

  • Dreams has some ideas for how Dreams might attempt it, but is willing to see where David is going with this for now.

<Hollyhock God> Message: "Life? Is there a way out of this darkness? It's so hard to stay awake… I don't want to fall into the blackness. Help me, Monaghan; I'll do anything."

<Miranda> Miranda watches this, reflected in their shields.

<David> Message: "I'm almost entirely sure I can get you back up in the sunlit lands, no problem old friend. I'll just need to borrow your body…corpus?…for a little while. No worries!"

<Hollyhock God> Message: "What? I don't understand, but you can take whatever you want."

<David> (Is he primed for Anchoring yet, or do I need an Aspect 3 to speed it up?)

<Hollyhock God> Let's just go with it.

<Hollyhock God> You find yourself, after all this prodding, able to slip into Dieter's ghostly corpus.

<Hollyhock God> ….the goddamned thing won't move. Something in his flesh seems to have atrophied.

<Hollyhock God> All this body can do is call people on the phone, and most of them can't pick up netherworld phone signals anyway.

  • David frantically dials his phone!

<Hollyhock God> It rings!

  • Dreams ignores it and waits for the message, as we've been doing.

<David> "Dreams, ghost-Dave can't move. I think this plan may have just failed pretty spectacularly unless your Estate can make me walk."

<Dreams> "Hmm!"

  • Dreams banishes the growing mandala of spirals and curlicues he had been working on and considers the ghost-corpse.

<Dreams> "Wait, were you planning on simply walking into the heart of death? You recall me saying that possession probably wouldn't be enough of a remove, yes?"

<Dreams> "That said, hmmm, to make a corpse walk through the power of dreams…"

<Dreams> "While I consider the problem, have you seen if you can reach something or someone on his phone that you can't on yours?"

  • David attempts to mentally page through the ghost's contacts list, looking for useful numbers.

<Hollyhock God> Lots of people, many of them people you know, none of them dead as far as you know.

<Dreams> (I was thinking trying Praxael's number again, only this time with a dead man's phone rather than a live one. Probably wouldn't work, but the results might be interesting.)

<David> Sounds like a good idea.

<Hollyhock God> I don't think you can call Praxael's number without the god-phone.

<Hollyhock God> For one thing, he doesn't actually have a phone.

<Dreams> Dreams ponders aloud. "Dreams inspire; I could attempt to inspire the corpse to animacy? Or hit it with enough strangeness that something will happen?"

<Dreams> (faaaaaaaaace)

<Dreams> (Bonus points to anyone who gets that reference)

<Hollyhock God> Even Dreams' normal aura of strangeness seems muted in the netherworld.

<Hollyhock God> It's kind of creepy.

<Dreams> (This would be an enchantment, but yes.)

<Miranda> (Creepy by way of not being creepy?)

<Hollyhock God> You can definitely feel the way this place tries to change you.

<Hollyhock God> Like a gravity pulling you towards the center, you can either fall, or try to hold on and be streeeeeeeeeetched.

<Dreams> "There seemed a link between the state of the dead, and dreams… I could try a lesser sacrifice, but I'm not entirely sure what the consequences of that would be if it did anything at all."

  • Dreams shivers a bit, as if cold.

<Miranda> (Lesser Motion of Shields to make the shields talk) "I can extend a greater shield to you, such as will protect against the effects of the realm of death, but it would deprive me of my ability to sustain the divination over the shields of Hector and Achilles. I wouldn't know what's going on, except if you call me."

<Dreams> "Alternatively, could you not simply trade your own ability to walk to Dieter?"

<Hollyhock God> Well, you can sustain two miracles, you just can't do anything else at the same time.

<Hollyhock God> Well, we're running close to nine o'clock, so we might as well try something, or go home while we still can.

<Miranda> (I'm confused as to the holdup?)

<Hollyhock God> Well, David has possessed the corpus of Dieter, hoping to send it deeper into the netherworld to avoid risk to himself. But it seems like his ghost can't move- it's just a human cell phone.

  • Dreams will try a Lesser Sacrifice on Dieter, from "dreamlike" (to the extent that the dead are in a dreamlike state enough to give me some purchase) into something that is a bit less so, ideally in a way that restores a bit more mobility but if it doesn't work… ah, well?

<Miranda> (OK, so will you go deeper if I shield you? Or do we have a cunning plan to animate Dieter? Or shall we turn about from the precipice of the Abyss?)

<Hollyhock God> Dreams removes a bit of the dead-but-dreaming quality from Dieter's ghost.

<David> David tries to stand up.

<Hollyhock God> He crumbles abruptly into dust, which is picked up by the wind and dragged down into the deeper reaches of darkness.

<Hollyhock God> David's mind finds it no longer has purchase.

<Hollyhock God> The office furniture evaporates like a stale dream.

<Dreams> "Hmmm."

  • David frantically attempts to make it back to his own body!

<Hollyhock God> Success!

<David> "Damn it, Dreams!"

<Dreams> "I offered an alternative solution you didn't see fit to take. Probably wisely, mind you."

<David> "Sooo…"

<Dreams> "Interesting, though. It appears the pseudo-dreamstate the dead are in is actually what anchors them here."

<David> "I vote we see what Miranda packed us for lunch."

<Hollyhock God> May as well eat it with her, since we're almost out of time.

<Hollyhock God> And because that would be funny.

<Miranda> Miranda has Aspect 1, so she makes a more-than-competent chicken salad.

<Miranda> (So we turn away from the abyss? Woo! Failure! That's 5 Destiny!)

<David> (We don't need to turn away; we could just find a different path!)

<David> (After lunch with Miranda!)

<Miranda> (If we abandon this attempt, it counts as failure. Doesn't mean we give up entirely!)

<Dreams> "Yes, let's."

<Hollyhock God> I think it's definitely a failure in that you've realized that the Underworld is way bigger and weirder than you're prepared to cope with today.

<Dreams> "We stuck our toes in the waters of death, and found them cold indeed."

<Hollyhock God> You won't find Praxael there as the result of a day trip with packed lunches.

<Hollyhock God> But yes, 5 Destiny for the "Resurrect Praxael" Project.

  • Miranda would totally have gone straight ahead. Stupid immortality.

<Dreams> But some valuable information! I'm intrigued what I could accomplish with enchantments and the 'pseudo-Estate' of the near-living dead.

<Dreams> Or, hmm! Emulation!

<Hollyhock God> Perhaps its a sign that being in a dream-state is what affords the dead enough perspective to remain coherence.

<Hollyhock God> Without the opportunity to dream (or, nightmare) they effectively don't exist.

<Hollyhock God> It's a question that it may pay to wrestle with at some point, for Personal Destiny.

<Dreams> Hmmm.

<Dreams> True.

<David> Way to go, Dreams, you murdered a ghost.

<Dreams> Murdered? Or helped to move on?

<Miranda> A ghost you owed.

<Rand Brittain> Arguably you murdered him and helped him to move on.

<Rand Brittain> Not really mutually exclusive!

<Miranda> Ananda certainly thinks so.

<Rand Brittain> Ananda wouldn't lie! He's so pretty!

<Rand Brittain> I am not sure that my netherworld is as scary as it could have been. :(

<Dreams> It was definitely a bit creepy, but probably could have benefited from actual visuals rather than descriptive text.

<Dreams> Also, we're blase and jaded by the fantastic and unusual!

<Miranda> It was creepy. We're gods, so actually "scary" takes laying it on really thick.

<Rand Brittain> Yeah, it's a bit hard to creep out a Noble.

<Rand Brittain> The best you can do is make them so uncomfortable they say "Fuck it" and decide to be somewhere else.

<Miranda> Victory for Rand. 3 Destiny.

<Rand Brittain> Well, we moved forward a tiny bit on that Project. I didn't have to use my side story at all.

<Miranda> You had a side story?

<Rand Brittain> It always pays to have side stories just in case.

<Miranda> Indeed. And I got a personal question to wrestle with!

<Rand Brittain> I need to get David involved in a more commerce-y situation. I mean, he got to do some business here, but it wasn't exactly an economy.

<Rand Brittain> Perhaps if you come back he can start selling memories of life, or something.

<Dreams> Mmmm.

<The Demented One> Capitalist hell!

<Rand Brittain> Then Marley comes on her pale horse to chase you out of the underworld for good.

<Miranda> The dead aren't her domain!

<Rand Brittain> You are preventing them from getting deader!

<Miranda> Dreams sure isn't!

<Benhimself> I'm helping!

<Miranda> Helping them get deader!

<Rand Brittain> Well, I think we all had fun. Maybe next week Rinne can come to the Chancel to steal your Accords.

<The Demented One> Not our Accords!

<The Demented One> We need those!

<The Demented One> For…accordance, or something.

<Benhimself> It'd be a dire threat if we had actually done anything with them, yeah.

<Rand Brittain> Yeah, we should probably do something Orders-based next.

<Benhimself> But honestly, the whole "Noble society could crumble upon itself if we so much as blink at them funny" kind of puts a damper on the whole "What do we DO with this amazing power we've been given?" thing.

<Rand Brittain> The Byzantine Society comes to demand that they be formally added to the rolls now that they're a century old, or something.

<Adamiani> I'm not sure we actually have amazing power.

<Adamiani> It feels like we're just holding them.

<Rand Brittain> I should probably actually get specific about what authority you do have. I think you have some.

<Adamiani> I mean, we have as much power as the National Archives has over the Constitution.

<Benhimself> Yeah, that'd help, too.

<Rand Brittain> Praxael was just definitionally incapable of using it unfairly, so people didn't mind him having it.

<Benhimself> I mean, Adamiani's point is kind of how I've been looking at it.

<Rand Brittain> I don't think it's like that; I just have to do some work to decide exactly what powers the document gives you. We'll look into it next week.

<Rand Brittain> Now I shall go and buy a sandwich while I still can.

<Benhimself> As opposed to, say, access to wow's source code in terms of how guilds are run.

<Adamiani> Keen.

<Benhimself> One thing I think we could probably do is strike names off the signatory list of the Accords, pretty much rendering all contracts (and res) that a person has agreed to null and void to that person: they're no longer bound to them, but other people are no longer bound to them, in turn.

<Adamiani> We could definitely do the "Season of Mists" deal if our OK is needed to amend the things.

<Benhimself> It does make me wonder: are the laws of each individual Order written into the accords, or is it more a document that establishes how such laws are made to pass. I.e., consitution versus, say, municipal laws.

<Adamiani> Is thre a court of some sort that enforces its tennants?

<Benhimself> I envisioned it being done by imperial miracles set upon the accords themselves.

<Benhimself> I wonder if we could write new res without the voluntary participation of those bound by them.

<Rand Brittain> I think your power is more like "if there is a tie vote, the Writ Keeper's choice prevails."

<Adamiani> So we're the Vice Presidents of the Universe.

<Rand Brittain> "An agreement sanctified by the res may only be nullified according to the terms of the agreement or with the blessing of the Writ Keeper.'

<Adamiani> However it's set up, I'd use Season of Mists as a model.

<Adamiani> Unless you're going for Noble Bachelor Auction. In which case that would just be weird.

<Adamiani> But, yeah- groups of people with different goals wants us to do X.

<Benhimself> Sudden Estate inspiration: the Noble of Common Sense.

<Rand Brittain> Sounds more like a Warmain psuedo-Estate.

<Benhimself> Ha.

<Benhimself> A Warmain who tests his foes with moral dilemmas.

<Benhimself> That'd actually be interesting as a proper Estate, too.

  • Benhimself envisions a game-show host personality, for some reason.

<Benhimself> "This one's for all the marbles, folks!"

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