Guess Who's Coming Back For Dinner?

Elliott:

"It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious."
― Oscar Wilde

The stage is dark and featureless.

A hundred hundred lights blaze into being, illuminating a man, wreathed in flame and holy darkness, with stars falling in his eyes.

He smiles, and the lights fill with his power — and shatter, like all small things do in the wake of him.

This is a story about Sadabus Argand and his Chancery-mates in the Tri-County Chapter of the Rider's Abstinence Society.

And the story begins…

In his new station!

Sadabus: Formerly known as the headquarters of the Better Black Arts Bureau.

Elliott: Tell us, Sadabus: What is it like? How was it wrought? Where is it, and what are your many dark schemes? :spotreckoning:

Sadabus: I simply marched in and conquered the place, feeling like I might as well kill a bunch of birds with one stone.

Then I used my powers, and the Casting Rite, to transform it into a new sanctum of wickedness.

What's up with that place, anyway? What has my investigation found?

How many lesser practitioners are now bound into my service, presumably as cameramen and scriptwriters?

Elliott: That sounds like a spotlight.

Sadabus: You spotlighted! But fine.

Elliott: I spotlit you! Now you want more from me.

Sadabus: :spotcreation:

Radegesis: A Bureau's gotta be pretty sizable, right? Like, the four of us couldn't qualify as a Bureau.

Gailizia: Not with that attitude!

Semegastes: You say that, but chambers of commerce can be tiny as fuck.

Semegastes: I've seen chambers of commerce smaller than my house.

Radegesis: Whoa, whoa, whoa, we were talking about bureaus; don't bring chambers into this!

Elliott: The Association's headquarters, once upon a time, was a large, profoundly haunted Victorian manor.

Radegesis: Whoa, okay; Rad is now into this.

Elliott: Lots of columns and turrets and whatnot; apparently, the Association cleared a lot of the specters out, though a rare poltergeist will show up from time to time, especially in the crawlspaces.

You cleared things out without too much trouble; there were a handful of functionaries who saw what happened (at least, the bits that were broadcast) and heard reports and they… did not want any of what you were bringing to the table.

A few of them are now trying to learn how to use a lighting board!

One, a jolly looking stitchwitch pensioner, has levitated into place as a camera operator (she was too short to do so normally).

Sadabus: Excellent, excellent. Shouldn't even have to do too much work to make this place into a den of evil.

Basically just add a few more stories, a conservatory, a moat, a clocktower. You know, the usual.

Oh, and a sign.

Elliott: A sign?

Sadabus: "Better Black Arts Bureau_."

"_ and Television Studio"

Now it's official.

Elliott: It is writ, now.

Not in stone, but perhaps in channeled neon.

Sadabus: Oh, it's both.

Elliott: I suppose that tracks, aesthetically.

Sadabus: Oh, and a giant evil signal tower.

Sadabus: I guess that's also the clock tower.

Radegesis: Like, an Eye of Sadabus tower, but with antennae for eyelashes, and clock hands sweeping around the pupil?

Sadabus: Yes, and every hour on the hour, two mechanical hunks pop out and kiss.

Gailizia: darkly

Sadabus: Yes, sorry, mechanical brooding hunks.

But of course, that's only the tip of the iceberg.

Radegesis: Ok, that saved it. It would probably have been ~~kickass~~ cool if it weren't for the mechanical hunks.

Elliott: So, Sadabus. BBABTV has been airing for a bit now. What kind of programming are you putting out?

Elliott: Because signal is a difficulty.

Sadabus: Well, first and foremost, there's my usual advice program, Dark Days with Lord Sadabus.

Sadabus: I'm planning to conquer the market with a set of new dramas intended to attract the teenage and young adult market and recruit them to the Excrucian cause.

It's basically the CW, only much gayer, and featuring a lot of people with stars in their eyes.

Elliott: Didn't you give up that cause?

I mean, that's the Chancery's whole deal?

Radegesis: I get the feeling Sadabus is personally off the lists, but like, he donates on λ-Christmas.

Sadabus: I'm just on vacation! And anyway, by "cause" I mostly mean convincing them that Excrucians are both cool and hot, and that they should buy into our fashion trends.

I wish to promote our brand.

Gailizia: Ah, so the cause as filtered through the lense of λ-dale, so it's mostly about being hot and playing nerd games for high stakes.

Sadabus: Riverdale is probably a pretty good tonal example, although with Excrucian aesthetics.

The shirts they don't wear have cravats.

Radegesis: Riverdale would, I think, be immensely improved by cravats.

Elliott: So, let's say it's been a few days, or as much as a week.

What have the rest of y'all been doing back at TCPATV?

Semegastes: Parts of Semegastes have been coursing through STATION MANAGEMENT, navigating its maze-mind and seeking some purchase to hook into.

Parts have been trying to get folks to subscribe to their Patreon.

Gailizia: Gailizia has been indulging in the vice of edu-tainment.

She's got a flesh mandala child to help raise!

Also local programming is atrociously thin about the local arts and void scene.

Semegastes: The Technical Kids have been streaming λ-dale.

Radegesis: Radegesis has… never really been good at the TV part of this TV station. There's the cool MTV skateboarding segment, and she hosts the slime stuff for the kid game shows, but I'm guessing the slime was a Sadabus thing.

Slime feels like an evil wizard thing to be in charge of.

Gailizia: Gailizia can find uses for the slime.

Semegastes: extremely menacing statement

Elliott: (In the Nobilis world, Power-level entities sign up for Patreon God.)

Radegesis: That said, if Sadabus has an idea for a show for her to be on on his network… I can't promise she won't have shown up, fifteen minutes late, with Starbucks.

(full of vodka)

Sadabus: I can finally have the incredibly-lethal game show you've always wanted!

With real sharks!

Radegesis: Oh helllll yes.

Today on BBABTV: Radegesis Literally Jumps a Shark.

Elliott: Most popular show: Sadabus Ruins Everything.

Semegastes: Oh and there's a weird wailing coming from the crawlspace in Sadabus' studio.

It is like unto a geist of polter.

Elliott: So Sadabus, here's the thing —

You propped up your cyclopean tower, whose height blots out the sun and blasphemes against God and man alike.

You've equipped it with fiber optic cable mainlining the holy magic of the Void.

You've called tech support.

But… your channel broadcasts on the same frequency as TCPATV.

And every attempt to change that has proven fruitless.

So sometimes one of your shows will just cut to one of theirs, and vice-versa.

Sadabus: Well, that's vaguely unfortunate.

Oh, well, I'll just have to destroy them.

Radegesis: cutting from Rad doing the safety disclaimer before the TCPATV show to her jumping the sharks

  • Elliot produces a pamphlet: So, You're Thinking About Destroying Your Friends.
Sadabus: I suppose I could simply send my harpy-men to destroy their antenna…

…but that's boring!

Radegesis: Maybe we can like… negotiate? Sem can stand in for STATION MANAGEMENT.

Semegastes: The moaning from beneath the floorboards continues.

  • Elliott gestures for all and sundry to remember their Spotlights.
Sadabus: Okay, I'm going to fiddle with the tower so that I can…

…what is that noise?

:spotcreation:

I have an evil plan coming out here!

Elliott: I'm sure it's coming out.

Sadabus: I'm hatching a dastardly plan.

Like a bird with a dastardly egg.

Radegesis: With a little effort that could be a custardly egg.

Elliott: No, Radegesis does the hatching.

Radegesis: I'm trying not to do the hatching; thank you very much.

Semegastes: The sound takes coherence and humanish timbre. "Uhh… little help?"

"A badger stole my wallet and I can't get out of the crawlspace."

Sadabus: "Good afternoon, Mr. Neff."

Semegastes: "Also I smell really bad now."

Radegesis: "Did the wallet thing happen before or after the crawlspace?"

Semegastes: "I think that badger may have been a skunk."

Sadabus: Sadabus pokes the knob at the end of his staff into the crawlspace and shrinks Everett down to about six inches tall.

Semegastes: "Oh, I hope that was your wizard stuff, Mr. Sadabus, or else this skunk got me drunk."

Sadabus: "Bold of you, to infiltrate my studio of sorcery in this way! Bold indeed!"

Radegesis: "I don't think Everett's ever been bold in his life. Bald, maybe."

Sadabus: "In spite of his terror, he comes to confront me! Is this not the essence of courage?"

Semegastes: Semegastes voices over: "…yes, infiltrating." There is a distinct note of shame.

Gailizia: Annalee walks in, holding an orange.

"Yeah, really bold. I've just been breaking in through the front door."

Radegesis: "You guys are breaking in?"

Gailizia: "I am. Gailizia isn't, yet."

Semegastes: "You keep messing with the Semegastes Sarcocystidae Celebrity Glamour Hour."

Semegastes: "…also I really thought we could fit in the crawlspace."

Sadabus: "And you contrariwise, continue to interfere with The Black Parade."

"A perfectly symmetrical meddle."

"A solution must be found."

Semegastes: Extra-extra-small Everett wriggles through a seam in the floorboard.

Radegesis: "Well, gang's all here, at least, just like the old days."

"So… are you gonna talk to STATION MANAGEMENT or what?"

Gailizia: "Gailin was very upset when your program on locust curses cut into her program on eyes for kids."

Sadabus: "I suggest that we simply destroy the law-being's tower of radiant puissance, at which point my signal will dominate the Tri-County Area."

"At that point, you may all recreate your programming on BBABTV, with a higher budget."

Gailizia: "Where are you getting your budget, anyways?"

Sadabus: "Oh, I just stopped paying for things."

Semegastes: "I haven't finished mapping out STATION MANAGEMENT, but I'm pretty sure the signal comes directly from it."

"The tower is mostly set dressing."

Gailizia: Annalee frowns. "Oh, your staff isn't gonna like that."

"I should hook them up with Slab."

Sadabus: "I have written to the bank and explained that my staff no longer pays mortgages."

"I have come to a similar arrangement with the local grocery, power company, and Best Buy."

Radegesis: "Really? Shit, I shoulda done that ages ago."

Semegastes: "Uh," Everett says. "The bank tends to frown on that."

Semegastes: "They send some really angry letters."

"And then you get divorced."

Sadabus: "Yes, and they shall frown for eternity."

"At least, the bank manager will."

"For it is now a lifeless hunk of stone that sits in the corner office… ha-ha-ha!"

"…really, I have no idea how they're going to get him out of there."

Radegesis: Radegesis is ping-ponging back and forth between the people who know this stuff better than her, including, some-god-forsaken-how, Everett.

Sadabus: "Hm, if the law-being broadcasts the signal itself, it poses a problem."

"On the other hand, we could simply hijack that signal to broadcast BBABTV."

Gailizia: "Sads, do you have a lawyer? No reason, just curious."

Elliott: Come to think of it, Tricounty Public doesn't even have an antenna.

That's always been kinda weird, right?

Sadabus: I feel like Sadabus would have noticed this, but sure, let's go with it.

Gailizia: Annalee is gonna think about public broadcast infrastructure with her huge engineer brain. :spotreckoning:

Elliott: What are you looking for with this Reckoning?

Gailizia: How do we get reception?

Is the WiFi even real here?

Or have we been using our phones to vibe with a god the whole time?

…more literally than is normal, I mean.

Sadabus: I'm going to be so annoyed if it turns out the audience wasn't real.

Radegesis: I really hope it's real, because if Thorn liking my λ-gram post isn't real, then I quit, man.

Elliott: I mean, there are routers in the building that I guess might or might not actually do a WiFi thing.

Gailizia: She would like to extend her Reckoning into checking that out.

She knows cell service got wild for a moment!

Radegesis: Oh, that's probably fine then.

"Listen. I know this is pot calling the kettle black but, like, if you try and kill STATION MANAGEMENT just to take over their channel, that probably counts as not being in the Abstinence part of the chapter anymore."

Elliott: They do nothing. The more that you examine the operations, the more you notice that there are things that seem to work on the same half-logic as, say, the tubes disgorging donated coins.

Sadabus: "There's no need to kill any law-beings. We just need to… cancel them."

Elliott: How do you get signal? You just do the things you'd do if you had signal already.

Sadabus: "Oh, and I have the most devilish idea."

Elliott: Where do the programs go between the camera and the broadcast and the home audience? Gods only know.

Sadabus: "Someone bring me that list."

Semegastes: Tiny Everett hands Sadabus his grocery list.

Gailizia: "Hey, y'all, it looks like the wifi was god stuff all along."

She picks up her orange again and starts to carefully peel it in one long strip.

Semegastes: It's… depressing. #noscurvy :fuguechip:

Sadabus: "Excellent, Mr. Ne—Jesus Christ."

[Sadabus accidentally blasphemes both ways.]

Sadabus: "Okay, new plan; I'm cooking dinner."

Radegesis: If anyone here has scurvy, it's definitely Everett, right?

Semegastes: Oh, absolutely.

It'd be the least of his problems.

Sadabus: "Then we're going to plan the next episode of your shows."

"I think they'll prove to be… quite entertaining.""

I'm going to make beef bourguignon.

Radegesis: "Wait, ok, so, we're gonna cook dinner, then plan the next episode, then hijack STATION MANAGEMENT, then… go shopping?"

Semegastes: "That isn't a real thing."

Sadabus: A stunt of cookery, which is something I can do now!

Radegesis: (Rad spends a minute mouthing "bourguignon" in increasingly French accents.)

Sadabus: …oh my god, is this why he's losing his hair?

Elliott: In my head, Everett is voiced by a drunk Lionel Hutz from the Simpsons.

Sadabus: It's almost like parasites are bad for you.

Radegesis: "Wait. Does this place have, like, a kitchen?"

Sadabus: You better believe there's a kitchen.

[Sadabus cooks an absolutely fucking incredible dinner and uses Intensity to make sure everybody has seconds.]

Sadabus: The kitchen is in fact big enough for significantly more activity than it is ever likely to see.

Radegesis: Oh, dude, Rad devours that. Her dinner was just gonna be a [red bean boba] with some whiskey in it.

Gailizia: While he's busy cooking, Annalee is gonna find any stray staff and give them Slab's number and a quick run-down on the pay situation.

Elliott: It's probably worth noting, Sadabus, that Jackson wasn't here when you conquered the place. Folks haven't seen much of him since The Event.

Radegesis: [drinking something flavored with red bean]

Sadabus: That's interesting and I will…

Radegesis: Huh. Okay that's something to be worried about.

Sadabus: Okay, this is actually a good time to break scene and then talk over dinner.

I call for a new chapter!

Elliott: I accept.

  • Elliott makes the Lesser Sign of the Maiden of Narrative Framing.
Sadabus: We sit at my incredibly long and fancy dining room table.

Semegastes: Everett unshrinks between chapters.

Sadabus: Fires blaze upon my hearth, and werebeasts sleep on the bearskin rugs.

"I have a most devilish plan," says Sadabus smugly. "But first… we should number our enemies."

Radegesis: I'm gonna…

Well, eat this delicious dinner, but offhand, I'm gonna have a couple of Shitkickers sniff around and see if they've spotted Jackson, Cole, or the Anchor dog anywhere.

Wait, no. The witches. They can probably… divinate… something?

Sadabus: "Where is the sorcerer who fled from the attack on our former stronghold? I wish to know the identity of his master."

Gailizia: Gailizia could summon them if someone asked politely.

Radegesis: So, I guess that's Glorification plus :spotreckoning:

Sadabus: "They were too strong to ignore, and too weak to defeat us, and yet, they knew too much to have come by chance. This is some game of the Powers."

Semegastes: "STATION MANAGEMENT is not an enemy," Semegastes declares, in between Everett horfing down bourguignon. "My colony inside it is flourishing nicely, and soon I will bring it under my dark sway."

Sadabus: Sadabus chuckles. "Excellent."

He was previously against this but if you're going to lean into his schtick he's prepared to forget that.

Semegastes: "Everett's mortgage is an enemy and I'm pretty sure he's right about us not being able to just not pay."

Sadabus: "One simply finds the debt collector and incinerates him. Then, repeat as necessary."

[Sadabus sighs.]

Semegastes: "I'm morally opposed to murder."

"Also, pragmatically, if I murder someone, one of my hosts is going to have to deal with the consequences."

Sadabus: "How impractical. Still, if it would please you, I suppose we could try to make a little liquid capital."

Elliott: Are you inviting one of the Witches, or just riding them, Radegesis?

Radegesis: Uh, I mean, it'd be kinda rude to ask them to do stuff and not invite them, right? Not that this dinner is, uh, significant or anything, just…

Sadabus: It's totally significant!

Radegesis: The table candles are goth and not romantic, right?

Time urgent, please reply.

Sadabus: Dribbly wizard candles.

Meanwhile, Mr. Neff is eating significant amounts of protein for the first time in what may be years.

Semegastes: Untrue, there's slim jims.

Elliott: It's Smith who answers your call, in all her strapping glory. She's got on a head scarf and teardrop sunglasses and she's dressed like she just stepped out of the 1950s, albeit for someone built like a brick house of muscle and curves.

Radegesis: OK, yeah; she's inviting them.

Unfortunately I think the witches are more "hexing" based and the divination thing was wishful thinking but they can still at least canvas the local occultists.

Sadabus: Sadabus grins. A hex is just a curse with too many corners.

Radegesis: "Hnmhnyhymhn oh hey Smith great to see you. Sorry to bother you and all, but this beef burgie is really good."

Sadabus: "There is plenty for all," intones Sadabus.

Gailizia: "You wouldn't expect it, but he is actually good at cooking."

Sadabus: "Every side of beef I claim is a victory over this wrongful world, and must be savored appropriately."

(somebody remind me to say this again later when I finally kiss a hunk)

Elliott: "Oh, the kid?" she says, the ember of your miracle flashing behind her eyes. "That's easy. No need to get out the runes for that one; he's drumming with the Stevies lately. Not bad; his timing is a little sloppy, but he's working on it."

Radegesis: "Oh, that's hand — wait, kid?"

Gailizia: "Yeah, isn't he like ten or something? Gailin is bad at ages."

Radegesis: "I was gonna ask about, uh, Johnson or whatever, the lesser evil wizard who used to work here."

"But uh, hang on, we should maybe worry about this kid also."

Elliott: Cole is probably about fifteen.

Radegesis: Yeah, you know, baby.

Sadabus: "No mere child, but one who may possess a Wyrd."

"Is he cursed by the Glitch? Is he a revenant?"

"He may be a danger to himself and others."

Elliott: "Well, you asked me about Jackson, the kid, and the dog. Like I said: kid's with the Stevies; the dog's with the kid. Jackson… well, if you want me to try on that one, we're gonna need a full seance. And even then…"

Sadabus: "Yet, to resolve such a situation is risky even for such as us."

I approve of seances.

Radegesis: "Well, shit. The whole revenant shit is bad enough for us… it's gotta suck ass for a kid."

"Ok. Definitely putting kid on the list. Thanks for the info. We'll… are we into the seance idea?"

Gailizia: "Sure. Why not? Not like I'm doing anything else this evening."

Radegesis: Rad surreptitiously wipes her hands in anticipation of seance handholding.

Semegastes: "I've got just the thing for a seance."

[Everett produces a Walkman.]

Semegastes: "Atlantean crystal harmonics, recorded on tape!"

Gailizia: Annalee raises an eyebrow.

Sadabus: "To the ritual chamber!"

"Oh, but first, apple tart."

Elliott: Sadabus! The tart!

It is missing!

Sadabus: WHAT

Radegesis: "Oh. I thought it was gonna be haunted or something."

"Did they like… get in a submarine to record it?"

Sadabus: "Who dares to steal the apple tart of the master of darkness and cookery?"

Gailizia: "You don't have any pie ghosts, do you?"

Sadabus: "Tomorrow's episode of Uncle Saddy's Kitchen will feature them as the main course!"

"…the name isn't final."

Elliott: You can find out, but finding out would be Doing A Thing!

Sadabus: "Werebeasts! Trace the pie!" :spotcreation:

Elliott: The werebeasts ravage the station, knocking your indentured technicians aside — except for the stitchwitch, whom they seem fond of. They leave no room unsearched, no stone unturned.

Unfortunately they find it in literally the last place they look, which is… in a kitchen cabinet.

Sadabus: "Apologies, all. They are a 'work in progress'." Sadabus is gracious with his staff.

Elliott: Apox is licking crumbs from his paw, an empty tray laid out beside him.

Sadabus: "…in retrospect, I should have remembered to invite you."

Radegesis: "Oh, someone's been a bad boy."

Gailizia: "Oh. Your boyfriend took it."

Semegastes: "Do you not let him sit at the table?"

Elliott: "I know to avoid chocolate in this body, but even the fruit is making me feel a little urpy."

Radegesis: "There is so much going on here and I am going to ignore it all."

Semegastes: "You should not be so rude to my business partner," Semegastes chides.

Sadabus: "It is of no consequence if he is bad. It is acceptable to us, that he is very evil."

Elliott: "I’m evil? If that's not the pot calling the kettle apocalyptic…"

Radegesis: "but the pie"

Gailizia: Annalee shrugs and offers Rad another orange from her big jacket.

Sadabus: "I will make another pie!"

"A chocolate pie."

Elliott: "You're a cruel bastard."

Sadabus: "Yes, correct; I am evil; thank you for noticing."

"And you… shall have ham."

Semegastes: Everett hunkers down so that Semegastes can talk cuttlefish with Apox.

Elliott: "Ah, Semegastes!"

[Sadabus bakes another pie.]

Elliott: "Finally, civil company."

Gailizia: "Hey. Actually. Apox. If we close that cabinet and open it again, can you like… make it drop a new dessert?"

[Sadabus considers cursing the ham, but refrains, for he is a kindly master.]

Gailizia: "That's a Deceiver thing, right?"

Elliott: Apox looks at Annalee, then at the cabinet, then back at her.

"I don't think I can? I mean, maybe if we made a game out of it, and you were willing to wager your soul, which I could sublet to Sadabus in exchange for my freedom."

Radegesis: "Will it help if we call it… sweet loot?"

Elliott: "In that case, yes, I might be able to make a pie."

Apox looks at Radegesis, flat as the horizon.

Then he trots over, nuzzles beside her leg for just a second, and preens away again.

Radegesis: It appears that this was uncool, but somehow, Rad can't get too cut up about it.

Sadabus: Sadabus finishes slicing the ham and begins holding it up in the air, just too high for Apox to reach.

"Whoooooo desires ham? Whooooooo longs for ham, in his dark soul?"

Semegastes: "I do!" Everett cries out. :fuguechip:

Radegesis: "…"

Gailizia: "…"

Sadabus: "Never fear, Mr. Neff. As God is my nemesis… you shall never be hungry again."

Elliott: Apox does his best to seem untempted, but the body is a fickle thing.

"GIVE ME THE CNEPHING HAM," he screams, leaping up the third time it's dangled… which is apparently all it took to count as a game, because he moved like lightning.

Semegastes: "Aww," Everett pouts.

Radegesis: "Really going ham on that thing, huh?"

Sadabus: "There is plenty of ham."

[Sadabus continues to feed Everett.]

Semegastes: Everett is considerably more grateful than Apox, in a way that's extremely sad to look at.

Gailizia: :spotattention: I'm gonna need to know how you're feeding Everett that ham.

[Sadabus is in fact dangling ham over Everett's head and making him jump for it, possibly without really noticing that Everett is technically human.]

Semegastes: Semegastes is actively interfering with Everett's motor cortex to keep him from going on all fours.

Radegesis: Rad leans over to whisper in Gailizia's ear.

"Hey. Hey, Gailin."

"Guess what I just figured out."

Gailizia: "What did you figure out?"

Radegesis: "Beef burgienurg has wine in it."

"Gailie, I'm drunk as shit."

She straightens up.

"Ok, cool, cool, cool. Are we gonna go on this epic quest or what?"

Gailizia: "Oh, are you now?"

Annalee smiles and Gailizia smiles by proxy.

Sadabus: The wine cooks out. Not sure if you knew that.

Radegesis: I know that, but Rad does not

Sadabus: "It is just as well, as mild inebriety is useful when calling forth the dead."

"Speaking of which, let me bring the bottle along."

Semegastes: It… is empty.

Sadabus: There are more bottles.

The grocery store was full of them.

Elliott: Apox saunters over towards Annalee, looking up with puppy dog eyes. "Are you sure I can't tempt you into a game of chance? If you'd take my place in this accursed durance, I'd be more than happy to render unto you…" he reveals a small loot box, limned in gold light. It is sirens and candy and cocaine; it is everything wantable, everything now.

Radegesis: "Sad, you have great taste in booze."

An empty bottle clinks at her feet.

Sadabus: Sadabus tosses a dog treat in the opposite direction to distract Apox.

He also takes hold of Everett's collar to stop him going after it. :fuguechip:

Semegastes: "Damn!"

Elliott: "Think about it," Apox says, going after the treat. "Thiiiiiiiiink about it."

Gailizia: "You're gonna need a bigger box. I play long games, dear."

Sadabus: "Let's get down to business," says Sadabus, referentially.

Radegesis: "To defeat! The… who are we defeating?"

Sadabus: "Speaking of which, please inform us, madam witch, how this man came to die?"

Semegastes: Everett clicks on his Atlantean seance tape.

It's just the Monkees.

Radegesis: "Whoa, wait, he's dead dead? I thought you were just gonna like… phone up a ghost to check on him."

"Shit, I can't process dead dead, man. I'm drunk as hell."

Gailizia: I'll note I'm still acting in the capacity of her anchor annalee

Semegastes: "Just think of him as λ-alive," Semegastes says.

Elliott: "Oh, yeah; sorry. He's not dead."

"Just… real good at hiding."

Radegesis: Radegesis squints at Semegastes via Everett…

then shoots unsteady fingerguns. "That's why they pay you the big bucks."

"Oh thank Harumaph. This calls for celebration."

She uncorks another bottle of bourguignon juice.

Semegastes: "They do not pay me the big bucks," Everett sads.

Sadabus: "…but I had the seance all ready to go!"

"Surely we can summon the spirit of somebody."

Elliott: "Oh, we still need the seance."

"It's just that… Jackson Machinard is an extremely paranoid oracle. There's only one person who would know his bolthole."

"Aaaand I heard maybe you killed her?"

Radegesis: Rad wiggles her fingers in a generically occult gesture, and then stumbles a little bit. That's a lot of motion for her to handle right now.

Sadabus: "You will need to be far more… oh, never mind, you clearly mean the Helena woman."

Radegesis: "Dangit, Sad; this is why we're supposed to stop zapping people."

Gailizia: "Do you need Gailin to summon this guy?"

Sadabus: "She zapped us!"

Elliott: "Yeeeah. Look: You honestly did me and a lot of folks a little bit of a solid with that one but… it's still a bit much."

Radegesis: "Okay. Let's get fucking haunted."

I would like to… throw a :spotcreation: on this seance?

Sadabus: "I do not like to kill without need, but she forced my hand."

Elliott: "Anyway, I can call her, if you like. We all just have to hold hands and do some chanting and it would be great if you could do the thing, Rad," Smith says, with a wink.

Radegesis: I would like to note that if this seance requires audience participation then Rad is probably [too drunk to handle this].

Sadabus: "Still, if it will improve relations with my minions in the occult community, we can arrange for her to return in a more permanent form."

Gailizia: "Oh, well if Rad has to do a thing we wouldn't want to steal her spotlight."

Radegesis: "Thing? Shit. Yes. Thing."

Sadabus: "Will you need more alcohol for your rituals? Blood, perhaps?"

Gailizia: Annalee and Gailizia-by-proxy smile at her.

Semegastes: "Oh, definitely more alcohol," Everett says.

Elliott: So, seance: The bally lot of you gathered around the table, hands clasped, candles lit. A hush falls over the proceedings and Smith takes the lead; there is a gentle strength to her that you didn't understand until now, and she ushers you into a liminal space of respect, one which not even Everett can mar. This is a moment of sincerity.

Sadabus: spotattention

[Sadabus pays careful, respectful attention to a skilled performer of the Craft.]

Elliott: Smith speaks prayer. Smith speaks spell. Smith speaks something almost unto a miracle, her words and her confidence as shining and silver as the rivers of the Not —

"Come forth, Helena, in peace and fair tiding; come forth, and sit with us, and be known."

And she is.

Helena Wickermore — albeit spectral now, and shrouded in a susurrus of Underworldly mist — sits at Smith's right hand.

"I hear, sister and I — "

Helena opens her eyes and sours like microwaved milk.

"Oh for the thousandth fuckery."

Sadabus: "Good evening."

Radegesis: Rad glances around and does a who, me? gesture.

Elliott: She looks at Sadabus, defiant but… there's fear there, and anger.

Gailizia: Annalee has never met this woman before and is bemused by her anonymity.

Radegesis: Oops. We… probably shouldn't have had her murderer here, huh.

Sadabus: "I trust you are well." :fuguechip:

Elliott: "I have gathered, since my time in death, that your kind do not end up there. So yes: Things were going swimmingly until very recently."

Radegesis: Rad guides Smith to elbow Sadabus in the ribs.

Sadabus: "Ah, then perhaps you do not wish to hear my offer."

"A pity. I had thought you would leap at the chance of a permanent return."

Radegesis: "Whoa, whaaaaaat?" :spotreaction:

Elliott: She leans forward.

"Guilty conscience?"

Sadabus: "Never heard of it," says Sadabus smoothly. "But I want something, and various colleagues seem to regret your… abrupt passing, so perhaps an accommodation can be reached."

Semegastes: "I would like to express guilt regarding your murder."

"We really do not approve of murder."

Sadabus: "You will tell me by whose connivance you made your ill-fated assault upon my fortress. This should be no great price for you, since they sent you to your death knowing you had no chance of victory."

"In return, I shall bring you back to this world, permanently."

Radegesis: Rad puts up a hand to get counted in the guilty column. This does bring Smith's hand with her because she forgot to let go.

[Sadabus activates Intensity, burning with dark charisma.]

Radegesis: "Wait, uh, weren't we here to ask where Jimson is?"

Gailizia: "Gailizia would like to register that she was pretty cross about the murder too."

Sadabus: "We wish to know who sent them. We can take the knowledge from Jackson or get it directly from her; it matters not."

"She would probably rather give it herself than betray an underling, even an incompetent one."

Radegesis: "Oh, I thought we were worried he was gonna, like, comeback tour our asses. But that's cool too."

Elliott: "…I don't suppose you'd accept that it was an anonymous tipster?"

Sadabus: "You're welcome to try to convince me. No doubt said stool pigeon also gave you the power to dispel a floor made of lava."

"Mortal occultists, I am told, do this constantly."

Semegastes: "Was the tip that you should trespass on the workplace of a bunch of Excrucians?"

Elliott: "Admittedly, Jackson thought the boy would be more useful than he proved to be."

Semegastes: "Because… that was a bad tip."

Radegesis: "Yeah, let's circle back to the boy in a minute."

Gailizia: "Yeah, sending in a boy like that was also pretty messed up."

Sadabus: "You have indeed received deeply faulty intelligence," agrees Sadabus. "I merely wish to know who it was that served us both ill."

Elliott: She considers for a second, opens her mouth… but sound doesn't come out. Instead, it's a flower.

"Well, I was wondering if that would still happen."

Semegastes: "Damn."

"Noble."

Sadabus: "More or less as expected, really."

Radegesis: "Fucking Nobles."

Gailizia: Gailizia steps into the room, just in time, to take the flower from her falling lips.

Sadabus: Which flower?

Gailizia: :spotreckoning:

Elliott: It's an azalea!

She tries again, but this time it's a mouthful of dandelions and some of the fluff gets stuck in her teeth.

Radegesis: (ᵒʰ ʰᵉʸ ᵍᵃⁱˡⁱᶻⁱᵃ ᵈⁱᵈⁿᵗ ˢᵉᵉ ʸᵒᵘ ᵗʰᵉʳᵉ)

Elliott: "Oh, I still hate every part of that."

Gailizia: Gailizia uses Vision to see what she can pick up of what she's struggling to say.

Sadabus: "Ah, yes, the lion's tooth."

"Good qualities, and weeds."

"The hand-clapper, perhaps? Well, it's too soon to tell."

Radegesis: "Bro, what the fuck are you talking about? You gotta use monosyllables, man, I'm too dr — uhhhhh, spiritually attuned for this."

[Radegesis is in no condition to handle this scene.]

Semegastes: "Applause was entirely too on our side. I doubt she'd have sent a hit squad for us."

[Sadabus looks skeptical, since Applause was hardly complimentary of his act, and anyway she is the slave of the law-beings.]

Elliott: Vision isn't going to help here — it's not being obscured, it's being transformed at the moment of reification.

Sadabus: "Ah, too bad," says Sadabus.

"Still, you fulfilled your part as best you could."

"It is only appropriate that I keep my promise."

Semegastes: "Wait, I think I can circumvent this."

Everett sticks his hand into Helena's ghost-hand, shedding Semegastes with his skin-flakes.

[Greater Stunt to infest a ghost, +1 XP for 3 Stilling]

Elliott: "Oh, I truly hate this."

Sadabus: Hey, that was my ghost!

Semegastes: "Just think the name," Semegastes transmits along the ghost of Helena's nervous system. "Hopefully it can't turn your thoughts to flowers."

Elliott: Parasites slide and squirm inside her ectoplasmic form.

The name that comes out is…

It's flowers. Still flowers. They are tall and brambled, but you could push through, Semegastes. You think.

But you would leave something of yourself in the thorns. They would tear at you.

Sadabus: Oh, you'll be fine.

Semegastes: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Elliott: 4 Immersion will let you slip through.

Semegastes: I'll eat it.

Gailizia:

marvelousgailinofficial: hey> !
marvelousgailinofficial: quick q for you all> !
marvelousgailinofficial: what's the meaning of dandelion and azalea? I'm blanking and a ghost is speaking flowers at us

[Using Flore to consult my Nobiliser fanclub.]

Elliott: For these are the flowers of Creation in its fullest bloom — these are the flowers.

And at the center, the briars turn away, and there is a name — and there is a woman. The name is Osamunda Brave. The woman… well, she stands before you for an instant, but already you are being called back, back, back to your body.

Semegastes: "It tastes like a Power," Semegastes says (through Everett, not Helena — they're withdrawing from the ghost, out of politeness). "But the name is certainly more like ours. Anyone met an Osamunda?"

Sadabus: …have we?

Gailizia: [Greater Investigation] Who is this?

Sadabus: I'm all out of spotlights.

Radegesis: I'll spotlight! :spotreckoning:

Since I, of course, have kept up with Gailin's exploits, and maybe remember my own hazily.

Elliott: It's still Gailizia's deck she uses, right?

Gailizia: In theory.

"Radegesis, pick a card!"

Radegesis: "Eenie, meenie, minie, this one!"

Elliott: It's a very pretty card! It's art noveau: a beautiful Black woman in a billowing gown of petal-pink silk. Semegastes recognizes her as the woman they saw — and the card itself is titled The Queen of Flowers. Also, if you turn it over, it's got a short description like a baseball card:

OSAMUNDA BRAVE
Power of Flowers
This Sovereign is known for her abiding enmity towards the Excrucian Host, above and beyond the expectations of even the Locust Court. She enjoys yogurt, is a proficient apiarist, and has two (known) children.

Gailizia: "Well, then! That answers that!"

Sadabus: "Ah! A foe worthy of our steel."

Gailizia: Annalee leans over to get a better look. "Oh, she's cute. Shame about the enmity."

Sadabus: "And now, let us fulfill our promise."

"Gentlemen?"

[Sadabus claps his hands.]

The large, ponderous doors open, and a few creatures that once were men carry in… a coffin.

They carefully set it down in the center of the circle, beneath Helena's spectral form.

Gailizia: "Sads, is this a cooking segment?"

Sadabus: "It is most certainly not."

"The human form is regrettably delicate. A single knife wound or a bit of arsenic is all it takes to break the pattern and spill out their life… This does not suffice, however, for they can be brought back to life"—his voice begins to rise in volume—"by means of a sacred rite, once a century, when the moon is in the eighth house of Aquarius…"

"A-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Let the ritual begin!"

I shall now perform an act of necromancy to restore this woman to…

Well.

To her body, at any rate.

It may be a bit colder than before.

But she'll make a lovely addition to the east wing, and she can take the fourth slot in the Boss Rush mode.

Elliott: Helena emerges, somewhat uncertainly but… embodied.

"I grudgingly admit your mastery of the craft," she says, examining the back of her hand.

Sadabus: Sadabus uncorks a bottle of… wine?… something red, anyway, and passes it to her.

Radegesis: "Oh, hell yeah, sis, this is the good stuff; bottoms up!"

"Oh, wait, is this a you do not drink… wine situation. Sorry if I'm being vampire racist."

Sadabus: "It is a rite of great complexity, and I'm glad you noticed," agrees Sadabus.

Gailizia: "Finally, a cool transformation." Annalee leans back in her chair.

[Elliott makes a cutting gesture, as if to ask if this is the end of the scene?]

Gailizia: :spotreaction:

Sadabus: I suppose this is the end of the scene.

Radegesis: "Are you gonna Anchor her? I think it might be kinda rude to not."

Sadabus: You can't just ask someone if they're an Anchor, Radegesis. :fuguechip:

And thus, a new chapter!

"Oh, I almost forgot," says Sadabus. "My genius plan to conquer the airwaves."

It is somewhat later and you are all drinking coffee in the library.

Radegesis: Does coffee come under your Stunt powers?

Sadabus: I have decided that it does.

If you wish to believe the coffee is bad, do so, but pray drink it in any case. I assure you it is unenchanted.

Radegesis: Thank Harumaph. A beef bourguignognogn hangover sets in fast. :fuguechip:

Sadabus: "My plan is simplicity itself. Although our former home is now our enemy, our shows remain on the schedule."

"I suggest that we simply use our timeslots to instead broadcast horrible things. Call for the assassination of public figures and the permanent closure of all the bars."

Gailizia: Annalee and Gailizia sit next to each other, next to Rad.

Radegesis: "Whoa. Intense."

"Are we like… trying to impersonate TPACATV?"

Gailizia: Annalee speaks up.

"You know, there are limits on what you can air before cops or feds show up, right?"

Radegesis: It's possible Rad does not remember the name of her own station.

Sadabus: "My dear Annalee, that is precisely the point."

"We shall simply allow the bailiffs to carry the station, and the law-being that slumbers beneath it, away to prison."

"Or possibly just cancel their business license or something."

Gailizia: Gailizia speaks next.

"Okay, but I actually like the crew there."

Sadabus: "We can… replace them with carefully-constructed simulacra?"

Gailizia: "Also I think the tyrants of the universe are above cops."

Radegesis: "Also calling the cops is a ~~dick~~ move, Sad, even on law-dudes."

Sadabus: "Oh, but how charming that a law-being would become a criminal!"

Radegesis: "But I am pro doing dumb ~~shit~~ to make them look bad."

Gailizia: Annalee speaks again. "You know the real people would still get marks on their records even if it's the fake ones they catch, right?"

Sadabus: [[html]]<sulking>[[/html]] "Fine, fine. We can simply… allow their ratings to grow worse and worse until the creature gives up and goes away."

"That sounds distressingly plausible."

Sadabus: "Radegesis! I leave this matter in your hands."

"I need you to make me… the worst television show ever created."

Radegesis: Rad cracks her knuckles solemnly.

"I'll do my worst."

Gailizia: "Aren't they already kinda out of the basement? Isn't their whole thing being… kinda…" Annalee spreads her hands out from a point, sticking her tongue out a little for extra effect.

"Hard to uproot."

Sadabus: "Excellent point. Let us carefully examine the basement here."

"And the attic. I want to be certain that the new studio is completely free of law-beings."

"If you spot an angel in the outhouse, call the exterminator immediately." :fuguechip:

"…actually, do not call Lumigelt. She is a jerk."

Radegesis: "Hang on, hang on. We can use Everett's new, uh, infiltration method to get down there. Sneakily."

Radegesis: "If we watch out for badgers."

Sadabus: "Badgers are… insidious creatures."

Radegesis: "Ain't they just."

Sadabus: "I could reduce him again, but I feel that a shenanigan might ensue, and I have not yet fed him to the point of ideal competence."

Gailizia: "Isn't part of your whole beef with them that they're already everywhere here? Wouldn't you want to set up your pirate TV station outside the world to get around that?"

Radegesis: "I thought he was just sick of OSHA."

Sadabus, that is, not Everett.

Sadabus: "I suppose we could simply pinch the station into a waylet, but it would have consequences. For one thing, it would make transmission more difficult, not to mention recruitment."

"We need to stop the signal."

"Perhaps… we introduce a hypnotic pattern that will brainwash the viewer, causing them to ignore all programs on that wavelength that lack our branding."

"Or, we coat some other wavelength in delicious candyfloss, making it more attractive to the disgusting creature."

Gailizia: "So, question, as one of the humans in the room. What's the problem with just broadcasting as normal with a god under the floor boards? Is it doing something down there to the station other than eating pennies?"

Sadabus: "…probably?"

Radegesis: "Uh, seconded. I know I did pour a bunch of wasps in its mouth, but really I just panicked and there was a giant mouth and it seemed like the thing to do."

Sadabus: "It apparently ate our entire budget."

"Also, it's just gross."

Gailizia: "Because we know it's already also powering the WiFi and mobile reception here"

Sadabus: Not here.

Gailizia: "No, definitely here. I checked."

Sadabus: I thought you checked the old studio?

[Sadabus was absolutely correct about this, it turns out!]

Radegesis: "That's what happens when you don't pay the internet men!"

Sadabus: "I pay them by allowing them to live, and retain the usual number of legs!"

Sadabus: Like, I'm pretty sure Sadabus set up the Wi-Fi in his own studio himself.

Since that is both something he can do and because having a building not full of law-being was his whole purpose in coming.

Gailizia: Yeah, and what's that plug into?

Radegesis: "Well, we better look the heck into it, then."

Rad is gonna pull a combo Greater Investigation + :spotreckoning:.

Elliott: Is this an investigation of Sadabus' station?

Radegesis: It is! A swarm of eyes with spider legs spawn from… they spawn and begin scuttling across the dark spaces of BBATV.

Elliott: Yeah, this station seems like what you'd expect. Wires lead to routers; cables lead to antennae.

Radegesis: "All clear," Radegesis reports as the last sorrow-spider crawls back into… disappears.

Sadabus: It's amazing what you can do when you don’t pay your IT department to live in the basement and smoke weed.

Radegesis: "Aw, but I like the weed!"

Sadabus: "Well, I didn't say we didn't have any. This is a house of wizards."

"Check the second-floor study."

Radegesis: "Oh, fuck yeah."

"Uh… I need it for the show. Obviously."

Gailizia: Gailizia rolls her eyes.

"Oh, fine. If you're so worried I'll just ask the True God in the basement what it's doing."

Radegesis: Rad points.

"Yeah. Talking. That."

Sadabus: "Very well. I approve of this diplomatic mission."

"However, in the meantime, Radegesis and I will create the most awful television in the history of the world."

"Just in case."

Radegesis: "Uhh……"

Radegesis tries, and fails, to come up with an excuse to follow Gailizia instead.

Sadabus: "Strong drink is a mocker, Radegesis."

Gailizia: "Hey, wanna help me steal a WiFi box? I need to learn to speak basement maw."

[I'm spending two Fugue to begin a Percipience miracle to vibe with STATION MANAGEMENT's WiFi hard enough to communicate directly.]

Radegesis: "Oops. Sorry, Saddy. Gotta go commit crimes. People need me and all that."

She's still babbling as she walks backwards out of BBATV.

Elliott: :spotcreation:

What does this training entail, Gailizia?

Sadabus: Fine, then! I'm going to go and retreat to my upside-down castle and wait for this to go wrong.

[Sadabus goes off to use Lesser Elysium and sulk. It's this kind of power sulking that helps him keep his infection in check so efficiently!]

Gailizia: So, the plan is to basically grab a box and learn to tune into it's frequency so I can commune with human words.

Basically I'm gonna 5G myself.

Radegesis: But, the rona!

Gailizia: Don't worry! I've already femmed myself as a precautionary measure! :fuguechip:

Radegesis: Just as keikaku.

I'm imagining Gailizia standing in front of a router making the dialup noises with her mouth now. :fuguechip:

Gailizia: I mean…

Gotta start somewhere.

Elliott: So…

I'm kind of fading myself.

Would y'all be offended if we wound down here?

Gailizia: I'd be fine.

Radegesis: I'm good.

Gailizia: I'm also somewhat out of it.

Sadabus: First I'm going to spotlight Gailizia making router noises. :spotcreation:

Gailizia: At some point, Jupiter is gonna walk in and just see us mimicking the dial-up tone with increasing accuracy.

Annalee is just at the door laughing her ass off.

Elliott: In the static, you can just hear the chorus, so soft, so faint —

video killed the radio star

Gailizia: A star falls.

Radegesis: :black:

[The curtains close.]

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