In Duriance Vile

Rand: Hm, who's about?

Remy: Vance art!

Alice: Almost!

Alex: I am.

Rand: Where is that Elliott!

Rand: He's been seduced by thoughts of pasta.

Alex: I see him in the room!

  • Alice shuffles re: pasta into a raspate!

Cynn: Cynn is always here. But also always not.

Rand: Liminality is no excuse.

Cynn: What if my arms fall off?

Rand: So, when last we met, the common bonds of society temporarily fell apart in a brawl to obtain of the super-special-awesome Heather Stones.

Rand: Which, you won!

Rand: Well, sort of.

Rand: Technically, your new demi-semi-friend, the Duchess of Green, turned on you and stole the Stone, but she owes you three favors under the sudden-but-inevitable-betrayal agreement you wisely formed.

Alex: We won-ish.

Alex: (Where are 'Heather Stones' described, BTW? Are they canonical anywhere or just something I know not of or wat?)

Rand: They're mentioned mostly in passing in various places.

Rand: Particularly in the character card for Robert Baxt.

Rand: They represent "the promise of wishes fulfilled" and are a "gift from the Creator to Creation."

Alice: What a nice Creator!

Rand: Ironically, whenever his creations locate one of them, they generally begin tearing each other to shreds to possess them.

Rand: Or maybe that was the point? That's probably what the Dark would say.

Alice: "Maybe that was the point," Alice muses.

Alice: Cneph and Harumaph are probably buds.

Alice: I mean, just look at those names.

Rand: "It probably was the point," says Galindus Gollifer, who you have tied up.

Remy: Remy shamefully hides his Cnepharumaph slash fic.

Alex: (Remind me who Galindus is?)

Remy: I'm guessing he's the previously unnamed Warmain, based on general Gothicness.

Alice: Alice tries to remember who Galindus Gollifer is and whether he just appeared there in a reality eddy or not.

Alex: (Is that the Excrucian whose head I stove in?)

Rand: You vaguely remember tying him up last week and staving his head in a bit. It seems less staved now.

Rand: The circumstances are unclear.

Rand: It's possible that he has used his powers to confuse the incident where he was reduced to a comedy bit in order to potentially become a more intimidating character this week.

Remy: Intimidating!

Alice: Alice looks at him. "Honestly," she sighs. "Now I have to worry that my believing that is part of an elaborate scheme against Creation. Or is that the elaborate scheme?" She doesn't actually seem worried.

Alex: Can you establish the spatial context just now?

Alex: Like, where are we? Who else is here?

Rand: A good question! You are probably in your Chancel or in process of returning there while dragging this Excrucian behind you.

Rand: I guess you have to figure out what to do with him now.

Alice: "So, Mr. Gollifer," Alice says, "Tell me about how free will works, and how one becomes a transcendent being."

Alex: Just to be clear—why aren't we simply brutally murdering him?

Remy: Manners.

Remy: Possibly the Harmfold Law.

Remy: He hasn't one-third-of-a-murder'd us.

Alex: For the basis of my suspension of disbelief, I plea that we be granted some strategic justification for keeping this preposterously dangerous entity around as a 'prisoner'.

Alex: Because this really seems like a woodchipper scenario.

Alice: Yeah, what's this guy even done? (And I'm pretty sure it's one-seventh, one-third would be impossible to keep track of. One third is… I think one-third is Principal Entropy's law for evil world creatures, who are different.)

Alex: He's a Warmain. "What's he done?" is a moot question.

Rand: Well, he broke into Locus Lucricet to steal the Heather Stone, which is obviously very bad.

Rand: Only a very bad person would do that.

Remy: "That's not how it works! He hasn't done anything that the rest of us didn't, tonight."

Alice: Hang on, we can't define a very bad person without someone besides me believing in free will here.

Rand: Also he left the door open to encourage a lot of other people to do the same.

Alex: I'm not proposing we murder him because he's a bad person. I'm proposing we murder him because he's an Excrucian.

Rand: That is literally against the law.

Alex: What?

Remy: "If you go around murdering people just because they have starry eyes and weird names, you're at least approaching as bad as they are."

Rand: It's an important consequence of the rule of Sevenfold Harm that you can't murder Excrucians just for being Excrucians.

Alex: Wait, what law is this? What is the rule of Sevenfold Harm?

Rand: It's, uh… Crowfoot?

Rand: Nasturtium?

Rand: Honeysuckle?

Alex: What are you talking about?

Remy: I believe the narrative form of this argument being resolved should be: Alex tries to convince the rest of the Familia to commit a murder

Rand: It's one of Lord Entropy's weird rules.

Alex: (No, I'm OOC confused here. I'd forgotten this setting element.)

  • Rand looks it up.

Remy: It's not like we can't break laws.

Alice: "The thing about Imperators is, Alex, the thing you've really got to understand about Imperators is, when they were deciding what common sense was going to be, they didn't ask us."

Remy: It's just whether we should.

Rand: I am definitely not forbidding you to break Lord Entropy's weird rules; I'm just reminding you that they exist.

Alex: (Oh, right, the Code Fidelitatis.)

Rand: Oh, it's the Chestnut Law.

Alice: That old chestnut, huh?

Rand: Thou Shall Harm None Who Has Done No Harm.

Alex: (The Rule of War seems to oblige us to violate the Chestnut Law unless our Imperator commands otherwise.)

Rand: Precedent is very specific about how this is not the case.

Remy: We can satisfy both by refraining from using preemptive strikes

Alex: (What's ol' snaketits think we should do with him?)

Remy: We haven't spoken to Smorticia… ever?

Rand: I don't think she even has an official name.

Rand: What name shall you give her?

Alex: The Sublime Wyrm Upon Whose Back Rests All Wisdom, Hallowed Be She And The Canyons Of Her Passing.

Remy: Tehom.

Rand: "In any case," says Galindus, answering a question from long ago out of politeness, "free will is the power to realize your desires, and one becomes a transcendent being by making that power absolute."

Remy: "I don't think you really need the second part."

Remy: "Absolute power… meh. It's just power."

Alice: Alice ponders that. "Oh, interesting," she says. "You're an organic thinker."

Rand: "And how does one make that power absolute?" asks Galindus, kindly ignoring Remy's nonsensical statement.

Alex: Alex is clearly white-knuckle on his walking stick, and all a-girded with miracles of emulation in preparation for Galindus to do something terrifying and awful.

Alice: "One drinks a lot of vodka."

Alex: Being the one here concerned with such pedestrian matters as 'where are we' and 'where are we going', Alex takes the liberty of narrating our location.

Alice: Alice salutes Galindus with her drink.

Rand: "One goes to the place that is called Ssyagna Vos, of course. Once you have gone there and seen the thing kept in that place, everything you ever desired shall become yours."

Alice: Alice raises an eyebrow at him. "Oh, come on," she says. "Excrucians can't give plot tokens. You're not part of the machinery of the narrative."

Alex: Having escaped the borderlands of Locus Lucricet, Alex has arranged for the Familia to receive a helicopter pickup from the Cammora out in the wilderness of Ireland, where (to the best of his player's recollection) the entrances to Locus Lucricet lay.

Rand: "I do not give plot tokens; I take them."

Remy: "Didn't seem to give you the Heather Stones."

Remy: "Did you not desire them hard enough?"

Rand: "But for reasons unknown, as though compelled by an invisible hand of God, I felt as though I must tell you exactly what I'm all about just after meeting you."

Remy: "It's possible I sped things along."

Alex: The helicopter—and the miraculous restraints within it, which are alleged to be capable of restraining or at least impeding a Warmain—are going to come out of their collective credit at some future time.

Rand: "For the truth is, I have never been to Ssyagna Vos, although I know intimately how to find it."

Alice: "That's true," Alice says, thoughtfully. "You are expositing. Possibly we're in a crossover event."

Alex: "Is it a place outside the World?" inquires Alex.

Rand: "Oh, yes, and quite easy to reach."

Rand: "Except."

Rand: "Except, except, that whosoever goes there, and looks upon the thing that is kept there… they die."

Remy: "Yeah, that sounds like it sucks."

Rand: "Who could survive having everything their heart desires?"

Alice: "When?"

Rand: "Oh, pretty much right away. Supposedly one lady lasted two seconds, but that's anecdotal and also time is an illusion."

Remy: "So what do you want us to do about it?"

Alex: "Sounds very Dark."

Alice: Alice looks scandalized, like someone just pointed out the Emperor's nakedness.

Alice: "Technically I don't think it's Dark to suicide outside the World," Alice says. "It's… a gray area. No pun intended."

Alice: "It is really unclear whether leaving Creation counts as aborting one's own existence in the first place anyway. I mean, is there even anything actually out there? No offense."

Remy: "You're clearly going all Lex-Luthor-teams-up-with-Superman on us."

Remy: "Get to the pitch."

Rand: "So, I came here. To find a person strong enough to survive such largesse, and to consume them."

Remy: "…"

Rand: "Then I can have everything I desire, and world and void remade according to my notions of what is proper."

Remy: "Is that… um… an adult content sort of thing?"

Rand: "That's another thing."

Remy: "Good."

Remy: "No, you can't eat us."

Rand: "Anyway, for this reason I wished to know the truth of the Heather Stones. Someone who could survive owning one… they might be the person I need."

Rand: "It has nothing to do with eating. I simply wish to add that person's being to my own. They shall be the raw material from which I construct my godhood."

Alice: "That makes sense," Alice agrees. "What do you desire to have, that makes it worth elaborate planning to obtain?"

Alice: "'Cause there's nothing more embarrassing than achieving absolute power and realizing that you've forgotten what you wanted it for."

Alex: "Presumably you'd use your absolute power to remember."

Alice: "Not if you didn't completely want to."

Alice: "People usually don't want what they want," Alice says. "Excrucians… don't seem to be an exception."

Alex: "Regardless, Galindus, I do not think you shall be so fortunate as to loot the world so casually."

Rand: "Well, I'd make more things yellow."

Rand: "Yellow is seriously underused."

Remy: "There's a whole sun!"

Rand: "And frankly I've gotten a little sick of green lately."

Rand: "For reasons."

Alice: "Yellow is in the eye of the beholder," Alice argues.

Alex: "Never fuck with a Colors'-Regal. That's my advice."

Alice: "You shouldn't need absolute power to fill a fulvous void in your own heart."

Alice: "Anyway, I presume that you have a map," Alice says.

Rand: "You are wiser than you know, for I once maintained that yellow was a subjective experience."

Rand: "It was when I was pinned to the earth by the golden sun-shade of Colin Astoria, Yellow's-Regal."

Alice: "Oh, dear," Alice says. "I hope Colin had good reason!"

Alex: Alex idly drums the earth with the tip of his walking stick, *tump*, *tump*, *tump*, digging deep holes.

Rand: "I maintained that same argument then, but I am afraid that he insisted on the universality of the yellow principle and ultimately came out the victor."

Rand: "Alas, he did not have the capacity to survive having everything his heart desired, nor was he my equal in various forms of lethal bare-handed wrestling."

Alex: Alex idly scratches at his right arm, which is now entirely living flesh rather than living oak.

Rand: "He did have supreme erudition and a rather handsome face—you can see it right here on my head."

Alice: "Oh no," Alice says. "You are a murderer! Anyway, I presume you have a map?"

Rand: "Oh, yes, naturally."

Rand: "Just give me some paper."

Alex: "Do not."

Alex: "Seriously, Alice. Do not."

Rand: "And a pen! Extra sharp, please."

Alice: Alice looks at Alex. "I just got you what you want, why don't you want me to have what I want?"

Remy: "It's true. One murder is definitely more than one-seventh of an execution."

Alex: Alex looks at Alice in bewilderment. "He's a Warmain, Alice! Why are you taking him at his word?"

Alice: "It's a statement against interest," Alice points out.

Alex: "For all you know, he'll call forth some unholy miracle and deep fry all of Ireland with that piece of paper."

Rand: "It could be oak paper!"

Rand: "Anyway, I wrestled him to death in totally consensual fashion. There was a wager involved."

Rand: "I defy anybody to prove otherwise."

Alice: "Oh," Alice says. "You can't try to out-think completely random abilities, Alex; you never know when you run up against someone whose power uses preparation as its fuel."

Alex: Alex is in the unfortunate position of being the person vociferously arguing not to engage in any fashion with this week's incredibly hazardous plot hook. Thus, he must by convention inevitably lose the argument, and gaze on in world-weary resignation.

Alex: He provides a piece of oak-wrought paper, so at least he'll have some sort of influence over the nightmare that proceeds.

Alice: Alice fishes out a pen. She looks at the Warmain. "If you use this pen to fight us, I will register a complaint about your manners. I don't know to whom. It will be distributed widely. I will come back from death for this if need be." Then she passes it to him.

Rand: The Gollifer draws a very complicated map. His handwriting is awful.

Rand: Also it refers to a place in which space and time have no meaning.

Rand: Still, within those limitations, it is a legit map.

Alice: Alice looks at Speed, Twilight, and the Oak thoughtfully. Hm. No one here is particularly close to Legibility, really. Alas.

Rand: "I have absolutely no objection to your visiting Ssyagna Vos," says Galindus. "Although I warn you that you will probably explode."

Alice: "Thank you for your warning!" Alice says, cheerfully.

Remy: "Alice, you have your map. Alex, you still want to off this guy?"

Alex: "Obviously, yes. As the wandering monsters in the loot-filled dungeon that is Creation from his perspective, we almost have a moral obligation to do so."

Alice: "He did kill the Imperator of Yellow's servant without permission," Alice agrees. "Executing justice upon him for his conceptual overreach and thereby falsely claiming the authority of the Locust Court."

Alex: "The helicopter's already on the way, and I've already paid for the cage. Maybe we can use him for a hostage exchange."

Remy: "GG, want to argue for your continued existence?"

Rand: "I am surprisingly difficult to kill."

Alice: "Oh, man, the Quick and the Dead was a good movie," Alice says, although the connection is at best incredibly tenuous.

Remy: "Killing is often the most humane punishment we can manage. Like, trapping you in a black hole seems pretty excessive even if you can survive that."

Alex: "That's a second argument. I smashed his fucking brains out. I saw them spill on the earth. You saw that too, yeah?"

Alex: "You see a mark on him now?"

Alice: "It was probably one of those tricks of perspective," Alice says.

Rand: "Probably your heart wasn't in it," agrees Galindus.

Alice: "Don't bash people's brains with your hearts!"

Rand: "You seem rather laid-back. Many people are!"

Rand: "Like this helicopter."

Alex: "Taking a long time to show."

Alice: "That's strictly against the Code of Oz, section 12.15, subsection a."

Rand: "Perhaps it lost its desire to fly."

Remy: Remy attempts a Lesser Creation of Speed on the helicopter's arrival, more to check for miraculous opposition than to achieve anything.

Rand: Hm, you have a vague sense that the helicopter isn't currently moving. Can you start things up if they're currently still?

Alex: Alex makes a phone call, if he has signal.

Remy: I could, but in this case the target is the arrival itself, which probably doesn't exist if the helicopter's stopped.

Alice: "I am rather laid-back," Alice agrees. "It's hard for me to want to kill something that isn't currently miserable or causing misery, and I'm not completely sure how Warmain death works in the first place. Unless you're a shard in which case I'm pretty sure you go to a kind of source-body-flavored Nirvana, because, logic."

Rand: Alex is informed that the helicopter has stalled, probably due to miraculous interference. They're going to call in a favor from the Power of Storms and try to get back on the air shortly."

Rand: "I suspect the eventuality will not arise. I intend to escape now."

Alice: "That'd be a mistake," Alice says.

Alex: "Thanks. Don't get yourselves killed."

Alex: "Hold on a second."

Alex: Alex turns around and hits Gollifer as hard as he possibly can. (Big Stick.)

Remy: Greater Destruction of Speed, 4 MP.

Rand: Galindus blips.

Alex: Alex tries to dial the yield to something that will destroy the surrounding countryside but not any nearby housing, but apparently misses.

Alice: "One day, you've gotta take a leap of faith, Gollifer, and hope that the perfection of your desires aligns with the perfection of the desires of those you're luring into your trap, or you'll never succeed, you see?"

Rand: Frozen in place by Remy, he moves from one awkward frozen position to a completely different awkward frozen position behind Alex, who finds himself catapulting forward at nothing.

Remy: Objection!

Rand: There is a WHUMPH and rather a lot of flying earth owing to destroyed surrounding countryside.

Remy: He's not just paralyzed.

Remy: Blipping is speed!

Rand: I must insist you make the argument.

Rand: Be aware that your premises may be used against you by Excrucians in a court of paradox.


The Estate of Speed

  • Speed drives you through space and time.
  • Speed gets you where you need to be.
  • Speed determines the victor.
  • Speed is an irresistible impulse.
  • Speed is the mechanistic, inevitable consequence of brute physics.
  • Speed is lightning and light and fire.
  • Speed breaks the boundaries of law and logic more and more the faster it gets.

Remy: Teleportation is movement through space that gets you where you need to be. The fact that it isn't done using conventional physics, or that its speed is normally infinite, don't change that!

Rand: I don't know that destroying his speed destroys any other capacity to move in space he might have had.

Remy: I would settle for him blipping slowly.

Rand: I mean, if it did, nobody else would be able to move or punch him either.

Rand: That seems logical. Requiring him to do things slowly is a more reasonable outcome.

Rand: Galindus blips slowly out, vaguely phasing through Alex's mighty stick.

Rand: Then he blips slowly back in some distance away.

Rand: That… honestly it still doesn't look like it hurt him as much as it should.

Alex: The air, of course, is now a swirling windstorm, kicking up dust and debris. The stick was moving very, very fast.

Rand: Meanwhile, Alex is having some difficulty retrieving his stick.

Rand: The earth appears to have grown fond of it.

Alex: "Hell!"

Alex: "It's desire! He masters desire!"

Remy: Sustaining the Greater Destruction, Remy's going to use Lightning Quickness to chase after GG.

Alice: Alice bursts into giggles. "Should we get Orange?"

Rand: "It seems unlikely that I can outpace you," admits Galindus, slowly, as they race. Well, after they race. It's a fairly short race.

Rand: Tell me, what thing in this world does Remy cherish most?

Remy: A happy ending. For everyone.

Rand: That's not a thing.

Alex: Alex attempts to wrench the stick from the earth. It is my nature to never be short an oaken staff. (1) But that's less than his Divine Aura, right?

Remy: Give me some parameters of thingness.

Rand: A person, place, or thing, such as could be trapped in a cunningly-contrived and exquisitely-lethal deathtrap.

Rand: Hm, I don't think he had an Auctoritas, so your Affliction takes priority.

Remy: Hmm. A happy ending for everyone…in a bottle?

  • Rand considers kvetching about how you still have the stick, the other end is just had by the ground, but no.

Rand: You haven't got a Lois Lane? Your superhero qualifications suddenly seem highly suspect.

Remy: I'm a secret wizard mentor!

Remy: Lois Lanes are for my proteges.

Alex: Divine Mantle gives him Penetration 2 at all times, doesn't it?

Rand: "Your heart is grossly empty," complains Galindus, "and full of extremely abstract wishes."

Remy: Remy's most-cherished-thing would be a person with the potential to become a true savior of the world.

Remy: The raw material for a messiah.

Alice: "Anyway, I'm about to commit to really wanting you to have been back over here and this whole embarrassing escape attempt behind us," Alice says, unaware of potential deathtrapness and thinking only of the fact that this opens up potential paradox if she goes to that place and it hadn't happened back then at now.

Rand: Penetration isn't the same as an Auctoritas, so I don't think it could continually stop you from grabbing it unless he's sustaining it.

Alice: Divine Mantle also gives Edge, not Penetration, anyway.

Alex: Ohhhh. Never mind. I'm full of mis-recollections.

Rand: "Fine, whatever," sulks Galindus. "Just go on trying to murder me like an ingrate after I was super-helpful."

Rand: "PS: it won't work."

Remy: "I won't have the contents of my heart besmirched by an enemy of existence!"

Remy: "Or… I guess I will, and take it as a complement that I am beyond your petty temptations."

Alex: Alex slides the staff from the earth with a grunt, although it clearly desires to go back to the ground. "This guy's a teleporter, like Cynn," he says, not even bothering to attempt to get close to Remy and Galindus again. "I'm not going to be able to catch him, even slowed as he is."

Rand: "That isn't a compliment! It's an indication that you have no value and should be ashamed. And yet, as usual, you aren't."

Remy: "Wow, I am taking your words to heart, you are harming my morale so severely."

Alex: Alex dials back down to the Cammoran helicopter squad to brief them.

Alice: "Anyway," Alice says. "Shall we go?"

Rand: "I suppose you might as well."

Alice: "You can keep trying to kill him occasionally as we travel," Alice suggests. "It can be like, training!"

Rand: "But mark my words, whether I escape or no, you are already inveigled in my insidious plans."

Rand: "I can tell because you just told me you were going to inveigle yourselves."

Rand: "That was really helpful, by the way."

Alice: "Ooh, good word," Alice agrees.

Rand: "I didn't even really have to do any work."

Alice: "Of course not," Alice agrees. "I won't want anyone to have fiddled with my autonomy."

Rand: "Remind me, how did you get this job?"

Alice: "…Tarot?" Alice says.

Alice: She looks at him. "Do you mean the Power thing, oh? Wait, the 'oh' comes first. Oh, do you mean the Power thing?"

Rand: "Yes, that."

Alice: Alice crinkles her eyes at him. "An Underbridge isn't made, we're found."

Alice: (I considered unhappy reflection, lying claim of it being fine, truth of it being fine, arguing, being mysterious, but in the end, we based it on the Addams Family.)

Rand: "I don't have enough movie trivia to respond to that, unfortunately."

Alex: Alex tries to decide whether he should even tell the Imperatrix that this happened.

Rand: "So I will allow myself to be carried off by the approaching helicopter, while making vague, menacing threats that I have used my bleak power of desire to tinker with your volition."

Rand: "Please count the things you hold close to your heart. You may find you hold one of them less close than before."

Rand: "That was the threat."

Rand: "Thank you for your time."

Rand: And so, I suppose, he is carried away, unless someone disagrees?

Alice: "Clever," Alice approves. "Not what I was aiming for, but something I could have wanted. Fine, you can be carried off by the helicopter instead of following us being kill-attempted intermittently and dying tragically to save us at the end of act two."

Remy: "So his test is… not-caring?"

Alice: "He isn't allowed to have that test. That's my test. Well, not my test."

Alex: "I think I am axiomatically ambivalent about it."

Alex: I have no objection to Galindus being moved into something resembling captivity.

Rand: "Eventually, I will return, but not until you stop doing all the things I want you to without my having to ask."

Rand: And with this curse ringing in your ears, he is dragged off into durance vile.

Alice: Alice sets off cheerfully towards the place that will kill anyone within probably two seconds to look at, bringing her closest family with her.

Remy: "I really don't want to have to deal with him again." Remy sighs. "People should move in ordinary ways!"

Remy: "Alice, just to check, what do you desire most?"

Rand: It may take a few months to get to.

Rand: Or at least long enough for me to decide what's there!

Rand: Or at least how to handle "player decides to go and immediately do the thing I said would kill them dead with no save."

Alex: Happy endings, yo.

Rand: Yes, I definitely need to work Granny Weatherwax into this game.

Rand: Logically she would be Black's-Regal but possibly I am in danger of overstretching a gimmick.

Alex: Do iiiit.

Alice: Alice says, "I don't really go around desiring things, I mean, look at what I have." She thinks. "I guess that it probably qualifies as a desire, the way I want to make it possible for everyone to grow unblighted and uncrushed."

Alice: "I don't know if wanting to become transcendent is really a desire, since it's instrumental, I'd trash it if I found another way. Oh, I want to pay rent, I guess," Alice says. "And some of those orange Kit Kat bars you can't get any more in the States."

Remy: "And you want that enough to risk getting heartsploded in case this is, as it most probably is, a Warmain messing with our heads?"

Rand: Alice finds that she is incorrect.

Rand: She no longer desires orange Kit Kat bars.

Alice: Alice gasps in horror.

Rand: This wish has become dust lying on the floor of her heart.

Alice: "That three-faced producer!"

Alice: Alice sighs. "Nevermind, nix the Kit Kats."

Alex: Alex looks on in bewilderment at this sudden gaspery.

Remy: "Oh, heck, did your sweet tooth get zapped with his not-caring laser?"

Alice: "Anyway," Alice says, "naturally I don't consider that to have anything to do with heartsploding, really."

Rand: If it makes you feel any better, the Cammora is making him watch cheesy movies at this very minute.

Rand: The worst that they can find.

Rand: He can't die or be hurt, but having to watch bad movies isn't exactly being hurt.

Rand: It's a grey area.

Alice: "If he's lying about what's there, I don't think it's a very good use of time to try to not go, and if he's telling the truth," Alice shrugs. Then she smiles brightly. "I trust myself."

Rand: (Also I should note that the Gollifer didn't so much say that you would explode as imply that getting everything you desire is inherently a form of self-destruction.)

Remy: "Well… I should probably tag along, but Speed is not going to be happy with me."

Alice: (True, though Alice did rather get the impression it was more of a metaphysical dissolution through inconsistency and/or closure rather than a philosophical point that you could be spoken of as having been destroyed without completely lying.)

Alex: "It's outside Creation, isn't it?"

Remy: "Yeah. Outside of normal space-time, anyway."

Rand: Yeah, and you'll probably have to mount something like a formal expedition to get there. I'm going to say a month.

Rand: Probably it should be more, but eh.

Alice: Alice looks at Remy thoughtfully. "That's fair," she agrees. "Mind, you'll have to figure out whether you can face it on your own or not, I'm only foolishly confident in myself and Alex. Wouldn't dare tell you you couldn't, just, that's as far as my folly goes."

Remy: "I don't plan to face it."

Remy: "Just stand off to one side while you two do."

Alice: "Great!" Alice says. "Let's see if Tehommy needs anything before we go."

Alice: Alice experimentally rings up Tehom or swings by or something on the offchance that's easier to handle than the sudden expedition to the Outside.

Alice: "Hm, the -my doesn't work," she says. "Tehomma? Teha? Hmm."

Rand: Is this the name you picked for your Imperator?

Alice: Yeah, I'm seconding Tehom and didn't see any other suggestions.

Alex: "I'm not going to look at it!"

Alex: Tehom is good.

Alice: "You'd be fine," Alice says. "You're a rock, dude."

Rand: "Absolutely not," says the great and gothic serpent Tehom, when her opinion is mooted later.

Rand: "You can't wander off and explode. Who'd protect me from Gollifers?"

Rand: "There'll be time to wander outside Creation when you're dead."

Alex: "Yes, see? Thank you."

Remy: "I'll stay alive if Alice doesn't," Remy vouches.

Alice: Alice squints dubiously. "That's all well and good," she says. "But it's already entangled in our dharma."

Rand: "Like the chocolate bars."

Alice: "Yes," Alice agrees. "One price in blood, one map, one mysterious threat."

Alice: Alice appears to consider having lost her craving for orange Kit Kats a 'price in blood.'

Alice: "I'm happy to leave it alone if you like," Alice says. "But it'll only grow until it consumes the sky."

Rand: "My forbiddances lack a certain gravitas, given that it is my nature to suddenly and unexpectedly revoke them," admits Tehom, "but I'm still forbidding this! You need to stay in Creation and leave apotheosizing to people who aren't on the clock."

Alex: Alex looks faintly smug. At last, someone who appreciates him taking his job seriously!

Alice: Alice nods docilely. "Not in my wildest imagination can I conceive of an event transpiring that will provoke such a sudden and unexpected revocation," she agrees.

Alice: Alice says, "I made progress, anyhow! Gollifer's perspective on free will was probably more insightful than he intended."

Rand: "He has a very funny name," muses Tehom. "That probably means he is the most dangerous of all."

Rand: You aren't sure if that's Imperial wisdom or "Weird Things A Snake Said To Me, Part 71".

Alex: "I didn't take him seriously at first."

Alice: "I keep confusing him for Gilligan," Alice admits, "although it's really much more like Gulliver."

Alex: "Galindus has a certain menace to it. Gollifer, not so much."

Alice: "Galindus is basically just the male form of Glinda," Alice argues. "She was a badass, don't get me wrong, but not very menacing."

Alice: "Oh, prof to dean, private message," Alice says. "Your ears only. I mean, except for these guys. We've got a location on and three favors from the owner of a Heather Stone. Personally satisfied with that but figured I should let you know."

Rand: "That's rather nice," agrees Tehom.

Alex: "Yes, should come in handy later."

Alex: "Didn't even need to get dismembered for this one."

Rand: "Keep this up and you'll get tenure."

Rand: "Assuming you haven't exploded."

Remy: "Oh, Tehom, did we tell you about our secret plan to control the fate of the word?"

Alice: "I can't get tenure if I explode?" Alice says. At first she sounds disappointed. Then, suddenly, she looks delighted.

Alice: "Please," she says. "Tell me I can't get tenure if I explode."

Rand: "You… can't get tenure if you explode?"

Alice: "Oh no," Alice says. "You mean to say that dying shortly after a glimpse at the thing in the valley is incompatible with achieving all of my desires? That is so incredibly tragic!"

Alice: Alice sulks cheerfully.

Alex: Alex rolls his eyes. "If only all our problems could be so conveniently paradoxed in to submission."

Alice: "If only!"

Alice: "I'll ask Engineering to look into it."

Alice: "Or… Philosophy?"

Alice: Alice looks confused.

Alice: "Tehom, would a Paradox Engine be philosophical or energetic?"

Rand: "I'm afraid it would ultimately fall under Marine Biology."

Alice: "Dang," Alice says. "We are not the leaders in that field."

Rand: "Just as well."

Rand: She is basically referencing Actuals; maybe that joke wasn't clear.

Alice: Alice meditates on this. "Is it because of the leviathan that lives beneath the waves of logic? —oh," she says, realizing. "Right."

Alex: "See? There's a reason you don't jam a wrench in the gears of causality."

Rand: "And the reason is tentacles."

Alice: "It's true," Alice says. "There is a very real chance that by setting up that paradox I will produce an Actual infestation in Ssyagna Vos."

Alice: "I will be so apologetic if that happens."

Remy: "Can Actuals even… actuate, in the Outside?"

Alice: "I won't actually be apologetic," Alice admits to Remy, behind her hand.

Alex: "Okay, now I'm interested."

Rand: "It would be an important contribution to science to know that," agrees Tehom, "and it should totally be looked into by someone who's going there, except not you, because you aren't."

Alex: "I now endorse this cockamamie scheme, for science."

Remy: "So, while we're definitely not going off to Ssyagna Vos, if we happen to find ourselves outside of reality and commit an act of cosmic hubris, everything will turn out well."

Alice: "Of course I won't," Alice says, ordering a bullwhip, backpack, and Indiana Jones hat on her phone.

Remy: "Good talk, Mom."

Rand: "Instead I need, uh… a full-scale replica of the World's Fair of 1893, made entirely out of candy."

Rand: "Including all the people."

Alex: "…"

Alex: Alex raises a single finger in protest, then pauses, thinking. "Okay, that sounds fun, actually."

Alex: "Oh, wait, full-scale."

Alice: "All the candy people," Alice says. "Where do they all come from? o/~ All the candy people, where do they all come from … o/" Humming, she waves to Tehom and heads out to think about how to create this thing. Possibly it could be made out of orange Kit Kats, nobody likes those.

Remy: "This is what we have undergrads for."

Alice: "Should we just turn the original World's Fai… no, that would be unethical," Alice concludes.

Alice: "True," Alice agrees. "We could make it extra credit."

Rand: It would have been a much sweeter assignment if Tehom hadn't insisted on the people.

Rand: Not that you're bitter.

Alex: "Where are we going to get all the candy?

Alice: "It's a good question," Alice says. "Probably the best solution would be Christmas elves. I was very good and censored myself and didn't say 'demons' or 'Ssyagna Vos,'" she adds proudly.

Rand: You could ask Margaret for sugar.

Rand: You could also have some of your brownies work as actors and try to claim them as candy.

Remy: "We could get the elves to help make candy, and get that seed AI we hijacked to help with the details."

Alex: "I'd forgotten about the seed AI!

Alice: "Good plan," Alice says. "We can take it and the candy back to the World's Fair to work from, then seal the candy away again until the present."

Alex: "Bit of a time loop, but entirely doable."

Alice: "Should be fine as long as it's prosaic time," Alice says. "Stuff's just a legal fiction anyway."

Alex: "Yes, but it's a good one.

Rand: Don't knock legal fictions!

Alice: Alice borrows a fake AK-47 and bandana from props, slips on some shades, and is ready for the trip to the north pole to ask Santa for a little sugar.

Rand: Is this a holdup?

Alice: Nah, the gun's in case the ship gets hijacked by broken toys.

Rand: These things do happen.

Remy: "We should probably call before we leave."

Rand: Let us assume that these things happen also, and that we cut to your negotiation.

Remy: Speed!

Rand: You face the Lord of Days across a large mahogany desk.

Rand: "Candy doesn't grow on trees, you know," he says. "Although naturally I have sympathy for people who are committed to projects of absolutely ridiculous scale."

Alice: "Candy's a lot healthier for Imperators than for children," Alice points out.

Remy: "Candy's actively harmful to children. We'd be helping!" Remy bluffs

Rand: "Careful—" says Niall, "—you'll argue me out of producing candy at all!"

Alice: Alice's chair slowly, belatedly, turns green.

Rand: An elf appears at your side with a snowball to dip your green hand into.

Rand: On a silver salver, of course.

Rand: (Although it will later turn out that the salver was a mistake.)

Alice: "Thank you," Alice says, slightly embarrassed, and very grateful once again that she is not a weregoose.

Rand: "Anyway," says Niall, "I could perhaps be persuaded to loan you a few of my candy engines and some personnel—but the price could be considerable."

Alice: "Oh, good," Alice says, wiping a streak of green across her forehead in relief. "I was afraid it would actually be considerable."

Rand: "Hm, you could help me striple wintergreen candy-canes," Niall notes, observing the streak.

Rand: "Or you could make December last seven times longer!"

Alice: "Done," Alice says. "It lasts seven times longer."

Rand: I am not sure that Alice can do this without expenditure of some kind.

Alice: Check your calendar.

Alice: It's seven times longer even in real life!

Alice: Alice is engaging in wordplay, but doesn't look like she is expecting this to have actually sealed the bargain. She is just teasing him.

Rand: "There's always the candy canes," Niall threatens.

Rand: "I only need two-point-five billion."

Remy: "That sounds like not that many. Alice, can you just hold your finger in place?"

Alice: Alice considers this. "That is a large number," she says. "However it is possible that with Remy's assistance it might actually be doable without dying of boredom?"

Alice: "Great minds," Alice grins.

Alice: "I'd…" She ponders. "Friction might be an issue if they're not to be red and green."

Alice: "But it's definitely more solvable than many other issues. Were you serious, Niall, or were you just teasing me back?"

Remy: "Friction is a non-issue for me."

Alex: "And I can certainly resolve the boredom issue.

Rand: "Honestly, if you can really paint a bunch of stuff green that quickly it's probably more productive to paint houses."

Rand: "Although what I really need is a sleigh that's spaceworthy."

Rand: "And seaworthy, if this Diluvian thing goes through."

Rand: "It's important to plan for all eventualities, including moon children."

Remy: "That's called a spaceship."

Alice: "I don't want to make December last seven times longer than it currently lasts," Alice says, "because I'd probably have to hurt myself quite badly just to hurt my Estate worse just to really confuse a bunch of mortals and score some free candy. But the spaceworthy sleigh seems like a great cause."

Remy: "How sleigh-like does this spaceship need to be?"

Rand: "Well, anybody can build a spaceship. What I need is a magical sleigh I can fly to the moon with my trusty reindeer."

Rand: "Or, seahorses."

Rand: "Something dashing and iconic."

Rand: "Red, of course."

Remy: "Any particular type of wood?"

Rand: "I was assuming you'd use oak, but as long as it's sturdy I'll be satisfied."

Alex: "If not, I can solve this problem."

Alex: "Oak we can do."

Rand: "Naturally, that was why I thought of you."

Alice: Alice thinks. "Flight isn't my specialty," she says. "I'm better at, like—" She waves her hand in a fashion vaguely indicative of green snow flower portals. "But I can certainly do a thing or two."

Alice: "I'm not quite sure how you plan to solve this problem, Alex, so I'm not sure if I still need to be brainstorming or if I just need to kick back and relax."

Remy: "I was kind of thinking of running to the future and just getting it from future Alex." Remy says. "I'm not really passionate about this whole boondoggle and am totally willing to cut corners with continuity to get it done."

Alice: "Makes sense," Alice says. "For the sake of openness and honesty with the timeline, I can probably handle antigrav and solid sea-keep-out tech as reprieves if I spend time in places with the right tech, around it, for a while, first—I'm a little hesitant to try it today because those things as physical things rather than weird notions aren't part of my world, but with exposure, they would be. And I can certainly weave the fate of a sleigh together with the sky and the moon and the sea, and enchant it to be less vulnerable to darkness and less constrained by boundaries. Future me probably wouldn't do much more than that, though, unless Niall commits to sweetening the offer between now and then."

Alex: "Alright, one moment…"

Alex: "I'm just going to brute-force this. Stand well back."

Alice: Alice thinks. "All that should be not-inherently-miraculous once done, so I can… oh!"

Alice: Alice stands on the back of her chair for the moment as it leans back before hopping back off of it and retreating a few steps. (1 AMP)

Remy: "Alex, Alex, Alex," Remy cheers .

  • Alex takes out his utility knife, slits his belly, and his entrails spill on to the earth, digging in to the earth, becoming roots, as he becomes an immense, great, awful tree. It grows up, out, thick, roiling, burning, suddenly bursting in to flames as it grows much too fast for its metabolism to not burst into flames. It is forming an immense acorn, which swells, creaks, drags down the branch it's on, and splits on the earth, revealing an immense and majestic sleigh that positively reeks of mystic potence. Alex is inside it, and clearly very winded. (Word of Command. I'll draw some MP from my Persona pool as well.)

Alex: "Man, it's a been a while since I did that kind of thing."

Alex: He shakily steps out of the sleigh, grinning like an idiot. "God, I love my job."

Rand: Niall considers asking how you plan to do that indoors, but settles for "let us never speak of this again."

Alice: Alice shakes her head a little, smiling.

  • Alex isn't sure how much of that materially happened and how much of it spiritually happened either. But the ghost of the miracle was there.

Rand: "That looks pretty all right," Niall says.

Rand: Then he pulls out a death ray and fires.

Alex: Alex is Durant and all the other ones.

Rand: Fortunately, it is the sleigh that is hit.

Rand: There is a sizzle, but good hard oak takes quite a bit of death!

Alex: It was a Greater Creation, so it probably shrugs it off, yeah.

Rand: There is merely an ugly black scar.

Rand: "Not bad at all," says Niall. "You can't be too careful."

Alex: "Bullet-proofed, as they say!"

Rand: "Very well, I shall loan you the candy engines and the elves needed to operate."

Alice: Alice practically sprains her arm aborting her counterattack when she realizes Niall's intention.

Rand: "Just remember not to thank them, and also not to ask for more than you actually need, because the engines are absolutely capable of drowning Underbridge in fudge."

Alice: "I will absolutely bear that in mind and will not drown any more Chancels in fudge than absolutely necessary during the interval of this loan," Alice agrees.

Remy: (…wait, we can cross-spend from other pools?)

Alex: (I actually didn't have to.)

Alex: (I have 8 MP in both Domain and Persona.)

Remy: Oh, nice.

Alex: (Which, honestly, I should do this more often.)

Remy: I only just realized you can take a miraculous action while sustaining a miracle this week.

Rand: You can't cross-spend but you can use the Rite of the Last Trump to move points around at a cost.

Rand: And thus, candy engine GET!

Rand: This elf-operated engine will produce literally unlimited amounts of candy and should not be left unattended. You've all read Strega Nona, right?

Remy: Never!

Alex: I have.

Rand: Oh, well, I'm sure it can't go wrong.

Alice: Alice dolefully turns random snowbanks and barns and street signs and dogs and chickens and fences and one city bus and one fire engine and the Mayor of Jacksonville green along the walk home, her condition seeming much worse somehow now that she's remembered it exists.

Rand: You could always go and drip on Onyeka.

Alice: I've thought about it.

Rand: Meanwhile, on an evil island, Lord Entropy waits eagerly to see if anybody will attend his support group this month.

Remy: How hot is Lord Entropy, in this manifestation of his continuity?

Alice: I need to remember to show up for my date with death, too, before I go out of Creation. Perfect Timing means I normally wouldn't have to worry about it but leaving Creation might make it a bit wonkier.

Alice: I'd hate to accidentally stand someone up just because I don't keep a schedule book and instead rely on my appointments just coincidentally being the same time I show up.

Rand: Science has demonstrated that it is impossible to get hot for Lord Entropy.

Rand: It's some kind of cosmic law or something that makes him really uninteresting to ship.

Remy: Dang.

Alice: Alice is not going to attend Lord Entropy's support group because that seems like a good way to have things go really well and then die horribly.

Remy: (I mean, Entropy/Ananda OTP)

Rand: That pairing is very difficult to draw.

Remy: That's why Nobilisers tend to write fanfic more.

Alice: Alice is tempted by having such a great in with the incredibly corrupt, monstrous, powerful guy who technically holds her fate in his hands and might less technically do so at some point within her lifetime, but she knows better. Although, well, Perfect Timing, if it's meant to be, she'll probably show up even without planning to.

Remy: Remy doesn't attend Lord Entropy's support group, or any support group at all, because he's definitely got all his mental and emotional balance stuff well-adjusted and under control, and he's definitely not using cognition-accelerating miracles to self-medicate.

Alice: "Quick question, just how bad would it be if the candy machine was accidentally left on in 1896?"

Remy: "Fixable, I think."

Alice: "…and what about 1893?" Alice says, remembering the right date.

Alex: "Let's call this rather bad."

Remy: "Did history things happen that year?"

Alice: "I'm just… wondering if we should reach out to the diluvian faction before time traveling back with this thing, tell them we might be coming around, y'know, thinking about drowning the world, we'll let them know."

Alice: "Might as well get some cred out of it if it happens."

Remy: "So like… live tweet it."

Remy: "That's a little Booster Gold for my taste. Do we really deserve credit for fixing our own mistakes?"

Remy: "That mistake being accepting this job, of course."

Remy: "We should totally have gone to your cosmic heart's desire doom palace."

Rand: Remy's in no position to decry quest-giving NPCs.

Alice: "I just think that, if we come back to the present and the world is covered in candy and humans are living in deep domes underneath the candy sea, not that we should try for this, just, like, if we slip up, that we should be the heroes of the drown-humanity faction and not those goofballs who accidentally brought on what we were trying to fight."

Rand: Or you could just fork off that whole timeline, wrap a bow around it, and present it to the boss as your completed project.

Alex: "I think that's… a weirder plan than many I've heard."

Remy: "I have a plan. It guarantees that we won't change the future by accident."

Remy: "We're going to change the future on purpose."

Remy: "Like, is this the World's Fair that had the serial killer prowling it? We can totally stop that guy, just, sort of offhand."

Remy: "I could seed some superheroes in the past."

Rand: This is the year for Devil in the White City, yes.

Alice: "Wait, did he eat people? Because I don't know if we can manage cannibal candy."

Alice: "Gumball Lecter."

Remy: "Morally, I don't think eating people is any worse than killing them"

Rand: He appears to have pretty much built a giant Murder Hotel, which is both horrifying and kind of impressive.

Alice: "My complaint is more of a technical one," Alice says. "If one candy eats another candy there is less candy, but if he doesn't, is he no longer accurate?"

Remy: "…Alice, the dude killed people."

Rand: I guess that's the theme of the book; on one hand, Progress! On the other hand, in the middle of progress, I took advantage of all your progress to build a murder hotel in the confusion."

Alice: "Remy, if we try to take moral responsibility for stopping every murderer who ever existed just because we can time travel, we're never going to build a replica World's Fair made out of candy."

Alex: "Causality is more precious than individual lives."

Alex: "Lives mean nothing in chaos."

Alice: "That's a good theory," Alice says. "Counterargument: if you think of time travel as the ability to instantly whisk away all the people of the world as if they were nothing more than drawings on a thin sheet of paper that is the prosaic surface of the world, how are you going to hang on to your ability to see them as anything more than mirages?"

Remy: "What's so great about the present that means we shouldn't improve on it? What's so great about seeing the present as anything more than a mirage?"

Alice: "Personally, I hang on to such ethics as I care to hang on to by pretending the prosaic people in front of me are real, but I can't possibly do that to every variation of every prosaic person in every possible timeline."

Alex: "You people are weird, and overthinking it, and I say that as an oak tree."

Alice: "Simplified, then," Alice says. "Whose life would be in chaos? Nobody but the Anchors would even notice anything had changed."

Remy: "The mere act of facilitating a field trip to the past carries some pretty astronomical consequences, causality-wise. If I'm going to do it, I have to consider the consequences of inaction."

Alice: "It's like when I made December have thirty-one days instead of four."

Remy: "People in the past don't deserve help any less just because they're in the past, when you can and do time travel."

Alex: Alex double-takes at Alice. "Wait. What?"

Alice: "Exactly," Alice says.

Alice: "They would no more feel that their life is in chaos because things had changed than you're upset that December has thirty-one days now. In fact, if you brought up the fact that the Oak thinks the timeline should be reset back to that one where their lives were different or they didn't exist at all, they'd say, 'wait, what?'"

Alex: Alex sits down, thinking heavily.

Alice: Alice regards Remy thoughtfully.

Alex: "Every time I think I've grown accustomed to this, something new."

Alex: "What of my family? If we disrupt the past, how will I return to the prosaic reality we share?"

Remy: "Trade favors with Memory, get them to bring you up to date."

Alice: "If you want to be responsible for everyone everywhen," Alice says, finally, "then I can't actually say you're wrong. But it's opening a very large can of worms."

Remy: "Or maybe our memories self-correct. I've never done anything big enough to tell, before."

Alice: "Because we are not the only Powers who have ever had time travel access," Alice says, "so 'everyone' is likely to include multiple incompatible versions of the population already. Leaving aside other miracles."

Alex: "I feel like I just learned the ground was always water."

Remy: "I'm not logical or consistent enough to follow a coherent moral philosophy. But I know that when people are suffering, and I have all the power that I do… well, if I have a chance to make their lives better just as a trivial incident of something else I'm doing, why the hell not?"

Alice: "I think our memories and Anchor memories don't self-correct," Alice says. "Because Heaven doesn't actually think it's the 'real' past or somesuch."

Remy: "…oh, man."

Remy: Remy begins to laugh.

Remy: "That means everyone I've given powers… everyone I've Anchored…is going to have a continuity reboot event when I do this."

Remy: "This is great."

Rand: Wouldn't that be less of a thing in 3e, with immunity to miracle no longer a thing?

Alice: "I have no problem with helping people in front of me," Alice says. "I have no problem with helping everyone in any timeline I'm in. I'm just not personally ready to treat them as people until we're actually in the same continuity, because I'm not personally ready to be responsible for all continuities at once."

Alice: Hmm.

Remy: "I'm not omniscient yet, so I have to agree."

Remy: "But… let's think big picture."

Alex: "Wait, so this other continuity—is it real, or not? Is that even a meaningful question?"

Remy: "The best change is one that keeps helping people even after we quantum jump out of there. Some kind of autonomous guardian of the timeline."

Alice: It's still essentially a constructed past and not the celestial past, but you could be right that the lack of immunity to miracles means you need to take a wound to avoid being updated.

Alice: Like, prosaic reality is the Matrix, and it usually keeps the past in secondary storage, as it were, but the miracle forces it active and then changes force it to basically update live, at which point it's the prosaic reality engine attacking anyone who doesn't want to blip into their new lives?

Rand: That sounds about right.

Alex: What a mindfuck.

Alice: "I think it's sort of like the French language institute, Alex," Alice says. "Like, there are a lot of words that could be French, but only the ones the institute accepts actually are. This is the only real continuity, because this is the only continuity that the process that makes reality has declared as real, but I have no idea how much authority that has relative to our ethics. It's an extremely screwy process involving insect monsters, walls of fire, and snake gods."

Rand: And a committee, probably.

Alice: "And a committee, probably. And a… mad computer program created by an angel who got mad at the dinosaurs, desperately trying to keep ahead of all the scientists and make them believe in science even though it isn't real."

Alice: "All of it banding together and trying to form one united whole so it can stand up against the threat of Glinda D. Gilligan and his starry-eyed crew."

Alice: "If some people in France start really believing that 'Acacia' is a French word meaning awesome, but the Institute doesn't accept it, is it French?"

Alice: Alice shrugs.

Rand: Okay, so are you going to coat the White City in marzipan or not?

Alice: Yeah, let's go. Back to the futurists!

Remy: Onward and upward!

Rand: And on that, we shall close for the evening.

Rand: This went to a weird place.

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