<Hollyhock God> So, on the last episode of this campaign, Jane caught an STD from an Excrucian boyfriend that has left her embroiled in prophecy.
<Hollyhock God> Now, it's 2014.
<Hollyhock God> Seriously, wtf?
<Hollyhock God> You wake up with the sudden and terrible knowledge that something dreadful has gone wrong.
<ADamiani> Well, we can't really DO that bit of things without—
- ADamiani is now known as Pascale
<Pascale> Greater Diviniation of What Has Gone Dreadfully Wrong.
<Nico> (Someone's been watching Eva 3.0.)
<Hollyhock God> It looks as though somebody broke the last fifteen months.
<Sid> (spoilers D:)
<Hollyhock God> You had probably better get up and see who you're all married to and who's dead now.
<Pascale> (Well… hm. There goes… the stuff I wanted to… crap, seriously?)
<Hollyhock God> (We can flashback to the good stuff at a more convenient time.)
<Nico> (We can fix this!)
<Hollyhock God> (I possess all the powers of nonlinearity!)
<Pascale> I'm going back to bed.
<Pascale> It's been fifteen months.
<Pascale> Fifteen more minutes won't hurt.
<Hollyhock God> I approve of this plan.
<Sid> Sid casts about for his smartphone, verifying his feelings of temporal disjunction with its calendar function.
<Nico> Am I the Bee-King now?
<Sid> Then he goes on tumblr to catch up on fifteen months of internet.
<Pascale> Wait, fuck, I can legally drink in some jurisdictions.
<Hollyhock God> I don't know. But you do seem to have rebuilt your bedroom into a giant apiary aerie.
- Nico gropes atop his head for the spindle-tined Crown of the Bee King.
<Pascale> I'm getting up and turning on the TV.
<Pascale> Do I have a TV now?
<Pascale> I was going to buy a TV.
<Hollyhock God> You have a TV.
<Hollyhock God> It's a lovely TV.
<Pascale> I didn't have a TV.
<Hollyhock God> Cable service doesn't work, though.
<Hollyhock God> Fortunately you've got bluray.
<Pascale> It was on my to-do list for 2013.
<Pascale> Crap thing is all the local stations.
<Hollyhock God> You've got a satellite antenna.
<Pascale> All the vampires and werewolves giving updates on the candy situation.
<Hollyhock God> No signal, though.
<Pascale> Every hour on the—
<Pascale> That's strange.
<Pascale> There's usually a news monster. Isn't there? Hm.
<Pascale> OK. Well, my room is different, right?
<Hollyhock God> Oh, you mean Chancel stations?
<Hollyhock God> Yeah, you have those.
<Hollyhock God> Yes, your room is full of expensive stuff.
<Pascale> And presumably most of what's gone on is common knowledge stuff, so I'm flying a little blind here. Which is OK.
<Pascale> I can live with that.
<Pascale> I can live with that.
<Pascale> I'm not going to panic.
- Nico begins laughing a long, raucous, unhealthy laugh. The sort of laugh that verified everything about Lambkins and his theories re: evil Nobles.
<Pascale> This stuff happens.
<Pascale> I LIKE not knowing things. I like finding things out. Right? Sure. Right. Absolutely. It's existential.
<Hollyhock God> Plus, look at your closet.
<Hollyhock God> SO MANY DRESSES.
<Hollyhock God> Or whatever you would buy if you had a bunch of money.
<Pascale> This helps the rationalization considerably.
<Hollyhock God> Hm, the news is mostly about border patrol and a reference to a war.
- Hollyhock God tries to think of good mysterious future stuff for Sid.
<Pascale> OK. So. Pascale is kind of torn here.
<Hollyhock God> Maybe a cult of groupies?
<Hollyhock God> Or a lair down underground?
<Sid> A lair full of groupies!
<Sid> or some kind of Grant Morrisonian make-over
<Pascale> It's intrinsic that she needs to know these things, but she loves discovering them, and she's also self-conscious about spazzing out the last time something like this happened. So she's vacillating back and forth about nuking this from orbit with every divination tool she has. She's going to compromise for the moment with checking on her estate—
<Pascale> Greater Divination of the current status of Secrets in the world.
<Hollyhock God> Secrets are still a thing that people are having!
<Pascale> So. Right. Everything's good, right? Let's, uh, take a shower, try on like half a dozen different outfits and go see if, you know, anybody else is experiencing weirdness or if I've just had my memory wiped.
<Hollyhock God> You find Sid in his Alan Moore lair of groupies.
<Hollyhock God> Meanwhile I presume Nico is riding around on his bee-serfs.
- Nico is indeed flying across the Chancel on a truly egregiously large bee with shimmering barding of reinforced candy.
<Sid> "Pascale, come here! It looks like I got really popular during the freaky time gap, and may or may not have become a supervillain."
<Pascale> "Did you break the last fifteen months, Sid?" Pascale walks in, affixing an earring.
<Sid> "Probably no. I thought about it, but I don't think I have any miracles that could fastforward time."
<Sid> "Make it shitty and worn-down, but not just delete it."
<Pascale> "OK! Who broke time?"
<Sid> "Power of Time?"
<Sid> "I don't know why we'd assume it was one of us."
<Sid> "I mean, yeah, it probably was one of us, but we should at least maintain some plausible deniability about it."
<Sid> (Does Sid know who the current Noble of Time is?)
<Pascale> "Because we're the ones who don't remember anything. And it's not like the TV is stumbling around filled with people who don't know where to be…"
<Nico> Nico rushes into Sid's den, still atop a bee of enormous proportions. "Oh my Ymera, you guys, do the rest of you feel as VIBRANTLY alive as I do?"
<Hollyhock God> I'm not aware of one. Lady Attaris is the Imperator of Time, but she has no single abode.
<Pascale> "To be fair, it could also be an absence of memories."
<Sid> "…so, Pascale, what are the odds that Nico did some kind of Aztec doomsday calendar chocolate ritual so that he could get an army of evil bees?"
<Sid> "Because that is sort of seeming to be like the most plausible explanation."
- Pascale tsks Sid.
<Sid> "Congrats on the army of evil bees, by the way."
<Nico> "They're not evil!" Nico says, smiling like a child who's just been told that Christmas was going to be a weekly occurance.
- Pascale mutters under her breath: "Mayan."
<Nico> "But they are awesome. And I think flowers might have an opinion about me now? I mean, it's just a suspicion, but I guess we should maybe, you know, put a pin in that while we consider why time is broken?"
<Pascale> "OK. We're all in one peice? Everybody's accounted for? Nobody's missing any limbs."
<Hollyhock God> Well, you don't have Jane.
<Pascale> Wasn't sure if we were ignoring that or not.
<Hollyhock God> Where is Jane, anyway?
<Pascale> "Jane? Where's Jane? Anyone seen Jane?"
<Pascale> Let's find Jane.
<Hollyhock God> You find Jane!
<Hollyhock God> In statue form.
<Nico> Nico sends bees rushing throughout the chancel, like a buzzing tsunami, in search of Jane.
<Pascale> What's the statue say?
<Hollyhock God> "In Memory, Probably, of Jane Booth, ??? - ???"
<Pascale> "Well, crap."
<Sid> "Shit, guys. Jane's… probably dead?"
<Nico> "We're very bad at our jobs, aren't we?"
<Pascale> Pascale sighs heavily.
<Hollyhock God> The statue depicts her hitting Genseric Dace with her motorcycle.
<Pascale> "Dammit, this was going to be fun."
<Sid> "Pascale, could you divination up some answers to those question marks?"
<Pascale> She trudges back off to her room to get the book of Answers.
<Nico> "…Can you get Wisdom on the line, too?"
<Pascale> Before doing that she'll see how much of this stuff is Secret.
<Pascale> "Assuming we're still speaking to each-other after a year."
<Hollyhock God> If somebody snips out a large portion of time, is the missing stuff secret, or just very complicated?
<Pascale> Right. Which is why I haven't been pushing it.
<Pascale> But the causes might be.
<Sid> "Aw, shit, Canaan."
<Pascale> And some of the stuff that happened in the missing time was secret.
<Sid> Sid button mashes furiously to check up on the current state of his affairs Canaan-wise.
<Pascale> And Greater Divinations aren't limited to my estate. Which…
<Pascale> This will be interesting.
<Pascale> What are the last few questions written in the Book of Answers?
<Hollyhock God> Hm!
- Hollyhock God has to think about that.
<Hollyhock God> "How many Warmains could Locus Caviel hold out against, and for how long?"
<Hollyhock God> "What if the attacking force consisted of Strategists and Deceivers as well?"
<Nico> Nico laughs at Sid softly, only to suddenly go all remembery himself: "Meon."
<Pascale> OK. That's on the list. So is 'what secret stuff happened during the missing time' which will be followed by 'what is secretly behind the missing time'—which might be a null answer, if the cause is somehow well-known
<Pascale> …and I'm checking my email and my texts.
<Pascale> <— was really, really nosy, by way of Journalism (4)
<Hollyhock God> Huh, well, it looks like the Power of Glass sold Creation out to the Excrucians a few months ago. Huh, this secret also mentions where you locked him away after finding him out.
<Nico> Nico flails around, not sure what to do. This seems to have the effect of causing the bees orbiting around him to follow suit.
<Hollyhock God> Kip led a sneak assault force into the void trying to retake South America.
<Hollyhock God> Hasn't returned yet, or if he did it wasn't secretly.
<Hollyhock God> The Power of Summer.
<Hollyhock God> Various other things! In general you get the impression that upon leaving the Chancel you're going to look out upon the standard post-apocalyptic hellscape.
<Pascale> You don't need to tell ME all the secrets I'm divining, of course, because there are plot-relevance and pacing concerns.
<Hollyhock God> You don't seem to retrieve any data on how this whole timeskip thing got started.
<Hollyhock God> You do find a couple of photos of Paolo on your dresser, though.
<Pascale> Well, that's odd. Because that would seem to be the… interesting
<Hollyhock God> One from Halloween and one from Christmas.
<Sid> "I guess we should go outside and start wailing on some Excrucians, right? Avenge Jane, see if we can bring her back to life, take out as many Excrucians as possible in the process?"
<Hollyhock God> Meanwhile Sid was trying to reach Canaan.
<Hollyhock God> His cell phone explodes!
<Pascale> "No! Stay put for a second, we're undoing this. Geeeeeez!" Pascale calls from her room.
<Sid> "Smartphone-chan…" ;_;
<Hollyhock God> Specifically, Canaan explodes out of it.
- Nico tries to see if bees will help him get in touch with Meon, with obvious results.
<Hollyhock God> Apparently that's something he can do.
<Hollyhock God> "Sid! World blew up!"
<Pascale> ("The hell—is he kissing my sister?")
<Hollyhock God> No data on Pascale's family, either. Wherever they are, I guess it's public knowledge.
<Hollyhock God> Canaan tries to reach out and take Sid by the shoulder, but can't. He's half-dispersed into lightning and seems to be having trouble shaking this state.
<Sid> "I think that happened and we all forgot about it!"
<Sid> "Or we just got time-warped again and… whoa, did your Estate problems get worse?"
<Hollyhock God> "I don't know!"
<Hollyhock God> "I just can't seem to land! Don't get too close or you'll get zapped."
<Pascale> Checking my communications—email, text, etc. As well.
<Hollyhock God> Lots of stuff that indicates that you've been spymastering the Valde Bellum.
<Hollyhock God> Oh, and a text from Paolo, coming in right now?
<Sid> "I'll survive a little zapping."
<Hollyhock God> TXT: "Er… what was it I was saying yesterday?"
<Sid> (brb, taking out recyclables)
<Hollyhock God> Sid is zapped.
<Hollyhock God> Unloading a few gigajoules into Sid seems to help move Canaan back towards his base state. His feet touch the ground, although he's still crackling alarmingly.
<Nico> Nico finally decides to take a risk and conjure up Toltecatl, opening a nice big gash on his palm in a bloody rite that he suspects is unnecessary but pleasing for the old bastard.
<Pascale> Well, dunno. What DID he say yesterday? Checking logs…
<Hollyhock God> …no answer!
<Hollyhock God> Maybe you finally fed him to the bees.
<Hollyhock God> Pascale: It doesn't look like you texted each other yesterday. Last message is a few days back.
<Nico> Wait, what?
<Nico> Even backed up with a Miracle?
<Hollyhock God> That's so.
<Hollyhock God> I guess you're finally free!
<Hollyhock God> Please enjoy your complimentary bees.
<Pascale> TXT: U 2, HUH?
<Nico> Nico sits down on the ground, vexed beyond measure.
<Sid> Sid, still blackened and hair-on-end-ed from grounding Canaan, has an eyes-popping-open aha moment. "Estate problems…maybe I could get some eyes on the ground that way…"
<Hollyhock God> TXT: Oh, thank Cneph.
<Sid> Greater Incarnation in the Bad Side of Town, spreading out his consciousness into everywhere possible to get a good look at the world.
<Hollyhock God> TXT: How strange is the future over on your end?
<Hollyhock God> Sid: London and Tokyo still have a Good Side of Town. Everywhere else is Sidsville.
<Hollyhock God> Someone appears to have cracked the earth.
<Sid> When you say cracked, should we be thinking Liberty Bell or chocolate orange?
<Hollyhock God> There's a big gap with lots of delicious lava.
<Hollyhock God> Not chocolate lava.
<Hollyhock God> Although that would be a good project.
<Sid> "So guys, it looks like someone wrecked the hell of the planet earth."
<Sid> "Upside is, my Estate's doing fine."
<Sid> "Downside is literally everything else."
<Pascale> TXT: HOW DO U KNOW I M NOT MAD @ U FR SMTHNG?
<Hollyhock God> TXT: Nothing venture, nothing win! We're not going to have one of those comical misunderstanding plots on my watch.
<Sid> "So Canaan, do you remember anything about the past fifteen months, or did you just timeskip through it like the rest of us?"
<Nico> "…Toltecatl is…gone?" Nico asks no one in particular.
<Hollyhock God> TXT: The comedy over here is bad enough already.
<Hollyhock God> "No, I was reading a book last…. some night, and then suddenly I was careening through the air and completely out of control."
<Hollyhock God> "I was afraid I'd blasted time or something, but it seems like it's a common problem. At least, for us. I mean… it's just us gods who noticed."
<Pascale> TXT: HLD ON, NEED 2 EXPLAIN Y TLTCTL IS AFK.
<Pascale> Are we ready to move to act 2? Can I use Actually Efficacious Divination?
<Nico> Pascale must be very afraid of the Power of Vowels.
<Pascale> Hey, man, I just lost 15 months of vowels, I'm rationing the few I have left.
<Hollyhock God> Yeah, let's just check Wikipedia.
<Hollyhock God> Oh, hey, wikipedia has a year in summary page
<Hollyhock God> Presumably for situations exactly like this one!
<Pascale> I was going to just use the Book of Answers.
<Hollyhock God> Or that.
<Hollyhock God> Let's just do that.
<Pascale> But, you know, six of one, half a dozen of the Internet still exists?
<Hollyhock God> Bits of it.
<Hollyhock God> It appears that Andrew Hussie was struck by lightning before finishing the final Homestuck flash.
<Pascale> Treasure 3, Spending a TMP. +3 from chancel discount level 7 miracle with 5 strike from the uber bond of knowing stuff…. What's up with the timeline and how do I fix it?
<Pascale> Shouldn't have pissed of Lightning, Sid.
<Pascale> He's only doing it to get back at you.
<Hollyhock God> Anyway, it looks as though Jane declared her hot war on the void and rode off into the Not armed with hella miraculous weaponry.
<Hollyhock God> This kicked off a serious escalation of hostilities that ended up cracking the Earth, and also quite a lot of the tree by now.
<Pascale> (Awww. So we shouldn't do that? That was going to be awesome. )
<Hollyhock God> I'm not making any judgments yet!
<Hollyhock God> Anyway, she hasn't been seen since, although her Horror's Glaive (a recent acquisition) was flung out of the Not somehow and cracked the Seal of Time nearly a year after her disappearance.
<Hollyhock God> Oh, and the Seal of Time is cracked and the world will shortly end.
<Sid> What's this Seal of Time thing?
<Hollyhock God> It's a seal, which has all the Ages of the World that haven't yet occurred locked under it.
<Hollyhock God> The Excrucians cracked it once before and ended the Second Age.
<Hollyhock God> Since the Third Age was the Age of Excrucians attacking things, they were unable to do further damage and were driven back by Lady Attaris.
<Pascale> Ok, so we're assuming it's like a needle skipping on a record sort of thing. But that doesn't really answer my 'and how do I fix it' thing….
<Sid> "So…I'm going to take a shot in the dark, and say our best chance of fixing this whole time apocalypse thing is to find the nearest Power with a temporal estate or a time machine, and get them to send us back to stop Janey."
<Sid> "Assuming time travel hasn't been Excruciated out of existence."
<Hollyhock God> Hm, how would you fix it?
<Nico> With a Paradox?
<Pascale> I'm not sure. I's why I asked the book.
<Hollyhock God> Well, I haven't come up with one yet, so I dunno.
<Hollyhock God> I may be reduced to giving out fortune-cookie advice.
<Sid> "Pascale, can your book check up on the status of time travelers? I think it'll be a lot easier to patch this up before it happens."
<Pascale> "It's not like that Sid, you can't just… use it for EVERYthing."
<Nico> "You know," Nico says, suddenly listless, "I spent so long thinking about getting him out of my head that I didn't stop to think about how quiet it would be."
- Pascale Pascale glances at Nico and frowns, wondering if she should say something, and then looking like she decides against it.
<Pascale> OK. I'm betting at least SOME time travellers locations are secret. So we'll div those.
<Nico> "…I wonder if I could bring him back."
<Pascale> Also, do we know the location of the seal?
<Hollyhock God> Nobody time travels as a matter of course, owing to the dangers of paradox and Actuals. Although it has been done.
<Nico> "There's got to be something in the Book," he muses, retrieving the Book of Blood and Chocolate with a theatrical flick of his wrists and thumbing through its leathery, translucent pages.
<Hollyhock God> The Seal of Time is supposedly in a cavern precisely between Heaven and Hell.
<Pascale> Also, what's the power of time's cell number?
<Hollyhock God> Deep in the heartwood of the tree.
<Hollyhock God> There's no such person.
<Pascale> Labor day is a more fundamental part of the nature of reality than time?
<Hollyhock God> There's an Imperator of Time and the Third Age.
<Hollyhock God> But she has no Powers.
<Pascale> We're going to want to get in contact with her.
<Pascale> I mean, it's her Estate that's in trouble/blowing up. So we should be there to provide assistance.
<Sid> And if she happens to want to throw us back in time, all the better.
<Hollyhock God> There's no telephone number for Attaris Ebrot Appeka. But you could always try prayer.
<Hollyhock God> I know you miss the prayer-phone.
<Pascale> How does one get in touch with Attaris Ebrot Appeka?
<Hollyhock God> I just said!
<Pascale> … Oh, that works?
<Pascale> Sorry, thought that was depricated?
<Pascale> "Sid, time's screwed up. Seal's busting loose. We didn't actually lose a year, it's kind of — someone bumped the player and the track skipped."
<Hollyhock God> "I think some very strange things must have happened in that year," says Canaan, crackling.
<Pascale> "So, you may want to try getting ahold of Attaris— she's the relevant power, this is coming from her. Well, Jane. But also mostly her."
<Pascale> "Nico, I know you're weirded out by the stuff with Toltecatl. But right now, the Earth is kind of burning, the Excrucians are riding, and you have an army of bees. I think you might want to talk to Cav and see where you are needed to buy us time to, uh, fix time."
<Sid> "…how do you know about record players?" says Sid. "Never mind. Let's dial up Attaris and see what functional omniscience and the cosmic Yin principle can do when you throw enough time magic at them."
<Nico> "Not now," Nico says, flaring with frustration.
<Hollyhock God> "Time's not for buying," says Caviel, who was hiding underneath the table.
<Hollyhock God> "What you should be asking is how you would fix it even if you could."
<Pascale> "Boss? What are you doing down there?"
<Nico> "Being enigmatic and unhelpful," Nico quips darkly.
<Sid> "Caviel, hey, you look like you have some inscrutable wisdom to dispense from your creepy secret fort."
- Pascale totally thought she was reaching out by making a metaphor about CDs.
<Sid> "What's the deal with fixing time?"
<Sid> "Can I not just suck all the broken down-ness out of it?"
<Sid> Sid demonstrates by repairing his cellphone with a Lesser Sacrifice.
<Hollyhock God> "Yes, I'm being enigmatic and helpful," agrees Caviel. "Oh, and in a minute I'm going to offer to transport you to the Seal of Time. But before you can do any good you have to decide what will fix the error."
<Pascale> (Call attaris)
<Hollyhock God> I'm not sure if that's what he means.
<Nico> "I could drown the world in molten caramel," Nico offers, "or bees. So, there are options." He seems absorbed by the Book, still searching for some idea or plan or remedy.
<Sid> "Maybe we could prop the timeline up with some kind of sugar-based framework."
<Pascale> (I don't think that's what he means, but I gave suggestions, so…)
<Nico> "Hmph. Maybe we should be looking at the root of the problem. Where is Lambkins, anyway."
<Sid> "Does this really seem like Lambkins' style, though?"
<Hollyhock God> Vanished alongside his honeymuffin.
<Nico> "I didn't say this was his doing. Just that he was the root of the problem."
<Nico> "And I'm REALLY feeling in the mood to devour another Excrucian tonight."
<Hollyhock God> Another text arrives: "You say you lost a ghost? Well, that's beneficial at least. I'm not even sure how to categorize what's going on over here."
<Pascale> TXT: I HV AN ANGL UNDR MY TBLE.
<Hollyhock God> TXT: "I have… I'm not even sure how to say this. I'm just going to MMS you a picture and request that you not laugh."
<Hollyhock God> Paolo sends you a picture of himself in his bedroom mirror. Sometime in the missing months he seems to have gotten a buzz cut, acquired rippling pectoral muscles, and lost an eye. Also, bought a lot of guns to hang on his wall.
<Pascale> TXT: SITUATION 2 SRS 4 2 LGH.
<Hollyhock God> TXT: "I'm glad you agree."
<Nico> Nico slams the Book of Blood and Chocolate shut and flings it across the room. "Useless Mesoamerican bullshit."
<Sid> "No hypertemporal ganache recipes?"
<Hollyhock God> Or were you looking for a solution to your emotional problems?
<Hollyhock God> Because that one was definitely never there.
- Pascale pokes Sid. "Talk to Attaris."
<Sid> "Attaris, who art in her Chancel, hallowed be thy name…uh, so hey, just woke up fifteen months into the postapocalyptic future, sounds like your Estate's going crazy. Let's meet up and chat to see if either of us can help the other and maybe keep the Seal of Time from imploding. Sincerely but also amen, Sid."
<Hollyhock God> "I told you," says Caviel. "I can get you there. But even if you can reach into the past, how would you fix this? What, exactly, would you say went wrong?"
<Nico> "Are you fishing for admissions re: our sister's Quixotry?" Nico asks, flat as a floor.
<Sid> "I'm pretty sure Janey wouldn't willingly go down a path that she knows for sure, thanks to her hopefully total trust in her siblings, leads to doomsday. Get us to the past, let us have a chat, and I can guarantee you we can fix this."
<Hollyhock God> "As you wish. You may not have the chance, though."
<Hollyhock God> Caviel waves you away.
<Hollyhock God> Far away.
<Nico> "That's the least helpful thing he's ever said."
<Sid> "It's a shot, at least."
<Hollyhock God> First the Chancel, then the cracked Earth, become very small.
<Hollyhock God> Eventually you land, somewhat improbably, in a grassy field.
<Hollyhock God> Please feel free to take a moment to orient.
<Hollyhock God> To the north, you see a great brass dome, apparently engraved with runes but mostly coated in a slick of greasy white… creatures.
<Sid> "Jesus, Caviel."
<Hollyhock God> There is also a table where a woman in green is drinking tea.
<Nico> "What in the name of Cneph are those?" Nico asks, pointing to the creatures.
<Sid> Sid walks over towards the women, taking a moment to curse his outfit into something slightly more distinguished. "Attaris, may I presume?"
<Hollyhock God> "Actuals," says Attaris. "They seek to breach the Seal, but are in fact incorporated into its mechanism."
<Hollyhock God> "It is a pleasure to meet you. I have been waiting for some time now."
<Nico> "Actual Actuals," Nico says, all sullenness drained away by a mixture of awe and unease.
<Pascale> "They have budget. None of those fake actuals for Attaris." Pascale jokes inappropriately.
<Sid> "So you know about everything? Of course. So you know that we need to go back in time, back to the start of this war so that we can convince the Halloween Queen to turn away from her path."
<Hollyhock God> "Do you? A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Let me show you a few sights."
<Nico> "Oh god, more enigmas. Is there a contest among the Ymera?" Nico asks, more exhausted than petulant.
<Hollyhock God> Attaris stretches out her hand towards the oleaginous surface of the Seal, which goes multicolored for a moment and then displays a vision.
<Pascale> Props for "oleaginous".
<Hollyhock God> Niall stands at the foot of his great throne, holding out his hand. In the air before him float three shining objects: a glaive, a small stoppered bottle, and a silver lantern.
<Hollyhock God> "So, little girl, it seems you wish to be very good this year. Tell me, then: what do you want for Christmas?"
<Nico> "Very Narnia."
<Hollyhock God> Without hesitation, Jane takes the glaive in her hand. As she touches it, engraving spreads out across its surface, marking it with the pumpkin crest of the Halloween Queen.
- Melum (~ten.nozirev.soif.ynmcyn.AEC5D56C-ratScigaM|muleM#ten.nozirev.soif.ynmcyn.AEC5D56C-ratScigaM|muleM) has joined #Spookygods
<Hollyhock God> "May your choice bring you victory," says Niall, as the vision is replaced by another.
<Hollyhock God> "Does it really have to be this way?" asks Meon, standing in darkness.
<Hollyhock God> "I know, Lord, but we—"
<Hollyhock God> "Yes. Yes, then. Your will be done."
<Nico> Nico perks up at this particular vision, paying rapt attention.
<Hollyhock God> He reaches out his hand and touches the horse. A second wave of darkness spreads out beneath its black skin before vanishing into apparent normality.
<Hollyhock God> "Damnation before nothingness, then," says Meon, and departs.
<Hollyhock God> A third vision: Jane stands precariously balanced on the very top of a mountain, asking questions of a figure made mostly from wind.
<Hollyhock God> "It's no good telling me that I can't fight my destiny," she says.
<Hollyhock God> "The fact that you insist on doing so is what will lead you straight to your destiny," advises the Leaping Oracle.
<Hollyhock God> "And there's no way to win?"
<Hollyhock God> "It's the way of the world."
<Hollyhock God> The last thing you hear as the vision fades again is Jane saying "…the way of the world, eh?"
<Pascale> "Reminds me, we need to punch her."
<Sid> "Leaping Oracle, or Janey?"
<Nico> "How hard?"
<Nico> "Why choose?"
<Pascale> "Leaping Oracle."
<Hollyhock God> "She's made of wind," points out Canaan.
<Pascale> "And: Hard."
<Pascale> "So, harder."
<Nico> "I can punch the wind."
<Nico> "It'll probably end with me punching ALL the wind, but I can do it."
<Sid> "Save time first, punch the windy thing second."
<Hollyhock God> "Trying to chart the flow of time is much like wind-punching," says Attaris. "A day doesn't go by without someone coming to ask me about the future, and I've never found an answer to satisfy them that wasn't also deceptively inaccurate."
<Nico> "So you're saying that we probably can'
<Hollyhock God> "Still, the power to mend the breach is in your hands. As it should be, since it was your actions and those of your sister that caused it in the first place."
<Nico> t convince Jane not to go and do something stupid."
<Pascale> Pascale frowns.
<Nico> "…What exactly DID we do, Attaris?"
<Pascale> "Fucking. FINE."
<Pascale> "Just— just fucking fine."
<Hollyhock God> "I'm saying that maybe declaring her war on the void wasn't the place where Jane Booth went wrong."
<Nico> "I mean, we should know if we have any hope of—" Nico stops, awed at Pascale.
<Pascale> Pascale kicks a rock.
<Pascale> "I didn't— I didn't know what to— I didn't want to— shit."
- Pascale rubs her face.
<Pascale> "I have to steal her destiny."
<Nico> "No you don't."
<Hollyhock God> "You don't *have* to," says Canaan.
<Nico> "Don't go talking crazy," Nico says, "at least not without showing your work."
<Pascale> "This is the outcome if I *don't*.
<Hollyhock God> "I thought… I thought I could go on somehow, and find a way to reconcile being a god and being a human person. I look at what I've become here… it looks like I couldn't."
<Sid> "And how do we know stealing her destiny won't end us up with a future just as wrong?"
<Hollyhock God> "There was a time a while ago when I thought about just letting my heart stop. I could have. I almost did… but I decided to try, to try and beat the odds."
<Pascale> (Now, it's deeply unsatisfying)
<Sid> "She said it was *all* of us who brought this about with her actions, so why would it be just you not doing this?"
<Hollyhock God> "I didn't choose to fail, but it was my own choices that led me here all along."
<Hollyhock God> "…and maybe I'm not sorry it turned out this way all along."
<Pascale> (I am cracking up at the thought of the camera just freezing and crickets chirping as everyone stares at Attaris when Sid asks 'how do we know…')
<Hollyhock God> Attaris claims enigmatical privilege.
<Hollyhock God> Plus, her bailiwick is stuff what is, not what might be.
<Pascale> (I said it would be unsatisfying. Just hilarious.)
<Pascale> "Of course, technically, to steal Jane's destiny, I'd need to lie with Lambkin before Halloween."
<Nico> "Cneph, we are the mopiest band of bungholes on the Ash," Nico says, throwing his hands up in the air. "New rule: no one gets to be a martyr until or unless we actually have a reasonable, cogent plan for proceeding."
<Sid> "Eww, Lambkins."
<Sid> "Actually. Hey."
<Sid> "Go back in time. Kill Lambkins. Problem solved?"
<Pascale> "I have a reasonable and cogent plan. I'm going to get flung back in time, and prevent Jane from fulfiling the prophecy that…"
<Sid> "Can it be that easy, and that satisfying, all at once?"
<Pascale> "But he didn't DO anything."
<Nico> "Please say it is," Nico says, turning to Attaris.
<Pascale> "That's all on the stupid Leaping Oracle."
<Nico> "He's an Excrucian, Pas."
<Pascale> "And we'd have to go back before we left."
<Sid> "He did warp us into evil monster versions of ourselves and try to beat us up."
<Sid> "I've had a hankerin' for some revengerin' ever since."
<Pascale> "No, I mean, after that. Believe me, what he did to to my head before that was… not a thing I have forgiven him for."
<Nico> "So, where's the issue?"
<Sid> "He may not have caused Bad Future, but if we can trade his life for Janey's or yours, I say we take it."
<Sid> "Family's family."
<Pascale> "I'm not clear it works like that. CAN we even go back before we left?"
<Hollyhock God> "No," says Attaris vaguely.
<Hollyhock God> She gestures again.
<Hollyhock God> A section of Actual peels away, to reveal the breach in the brassy surface of the Seal.
<Nico> "…Can we change the past at all?" Nico asks.
<Hollyhock God> It's just large enough for you to crawl through, and there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel.
<Hollyhock God> Attaris considers. "You can change the present."
<Sid> "So no chance of stopping her with Lambkins…I guess we just have to find a way to divert her from that destiny."
<Pascale> "It's an Imperial Miracle. It's written in stone. You can't stop the destiny from coming to pass."
<Sid> "Maybe rig up a fake messiah with enough genie logic to short-circuit the doom."
<Nico> "What, specifically, is the destiny supposed to do?"
<Sid> "A dud designed to fulfill the prophecy, so that Janey would have a loophole to wiggle out of."
<Sid> "Something something, Janey sleeps with Lambkin, ends up as a monster who apparently literally cracks the world."
<Pascale> "The 'something something' is important."
<Pascale> "And it's not sleep."
<Pascale> "Sleep isn't the word."
<Sid> "Lie with?"
<Pascale> "That's important."
<Pascale> "Lie. Right."
<Pascale> "This is the prophecy of the beast-queen, delivered by the oracle who dwells between one year and the next."
<Pascale> "In the time when sweetness dies shall arise the queen beast, although she knows not whence."
<Hollyhock God> It's more like a river than a stone, but whatever.
<Pascale> "She will rise to power by the hand of Hell, and rule justly and well for a time."
<Pascale> "Maybe we could put up a sign at the gate? 'Admittance by invitation only'?"
<Pascale> That isn't prophecy
<Pascale> Strike that
<Pascale> I'm C+P'ing from the prior log, and…
<Hollyhock God> It says it's a prophecy right there in the first line!
<Pascale> Let not the beast-queen lie with the lamb. If this should come to pass, she will corrupt him just as he corrupts her."
<Pascale> "She will take her true throne as one of the four destroyers who will crack the Earth and shake the tree."
<Pascale> "I, Entropy, Lord of all within this world, speak this prophecy, and declare it to be true."
<Pascale> (More for reference than actually intoning it)
<Nico> "Can we…you know…like, dummy out this whole thing? Get Jane to do some shoveling and rattle a spruce and everyone squints and nods and moves on?"
<Sid> "So really, the only thing for us to diffuse is the "true throne" and "cracking the Earth, shaking the tree."
<Sid> "Rig it so that Janey can do all those things technically, and count the prophecy fulfilled."
<Nico> "I mean, she can totally shake the tree without it being bad. That part's not an issue. Leading a charge against the Excrucians is pretty shaky."
<Nico> Nico looks over to Pascale. "Is there anything…I dunno…potentially HELPFUL under the earth? Like, a way we could crack something open and have it be good?"
<Sid> "So we go back, and we tell her she's going about her crusade all wrong. Before she can march on the Beyond, she needs to get Entropy's prophecy fulfilled so it doesn't doom her, and find a way she can marshall her forces for war in a way that'll fulfill all the terms."
<Pascale> "Already tried to get her to to back off in the face of the prophecy."
<Pascale> "The whole certain doom, break the world thing."
<Pascale> "She wouldn't listen."
<Sid> "Not back off! We just need to figure out how she can just go headlong forwards while still checking off all the boxes on the prophecy's checklist."
- Pascale does a terrible Jane impression. "Bring it on."
<Sid> "And she'll totally listen once we tell her about the world-ending apocalypse timeline she creates."
<Pascale> "We don't have a whole lot of time, Sid. We really only have until Halloween."
<Pascale> "… the only plan I can think of is to… you know, take it away from her."
<Nico> "…I mean, I hate to even be the one to bring this up but what if, uhm, we make the prophecy impossible to fulfill? What happens to that mojo if it's at odds with reality?"
<Sid> "I think fate find a way."
<Pascale> "You start to unravel."
<Sid> "We'd also be flat-out trying to deny the Imperial Miracle, and that might just get us all dissolved."
<Nico> "…Can…can Entropy recant it?"
<Sid> "Don't think so."
<Pascale> "He didn't actually speak it."
<Pascale> "Just kind of affirmed it."
<Pascale> "The Leaping Oracle's the responsible party."
<Pascale> "Hence: Hit."
<Pascale> "And no."
<Sid> "Maybe Caviel could speak something against it…dunno how the universe handles PROPHECY VS. PROPHECY."
<Nico> "…The Leaping Oracle can't recant it either?"
<Pascale> "Neither of them can take it back."
<Pascale> "And even if Caviel spoke another prophecy they'd *both* come true, even if they were mutually contradictory."
<Pascale> "Jesus Christ, what do you think I've been freaking out about this for the last week or so for?"
<Hollyhock God> Yeah. If Caviel says America must be west of Asia, and Lord Entropy says Asia must be west of America, the world will just become round to accommodate them.
- Pascale Pascale actually has been fretting this. But I don't think she's done anything like a good job of communicating it.
<Pascale> Sometimes being Secrets kinda sucks.
<Nico> "Can you even TAKE the prophecy, Pas? You don't tick all the boxes of it, and even if you sleep with Lambkins, what stops him sleeping with Jane in the fullness of time?"
<Hollyhock God> I mean, you can fight prophecy, that's all part of the game. What gets you unravelled is refusing to play at all.
<Sid> "Well, what's the most we can do to gum up the prophecy before Halloween? Conjure up a candy-world for her to crack open, have her shake the tree to rally allies around her, take on a monstrous war-aspect against the Excrucians and sit on a throne made of a chair?"
<Pascale> "It's not whomever sleeps with Lambkin."
<Sid> "Every term we can hit up is one more thing that doesn't have to happen in the future."
<Pascale> "We both arose after the death of Toltecatl. And we both didn't know where we were coming from at the time."
<Pascale> "I'd have to lie with Lambkin. And then hijack her by becoming the Beast Queen for Halloween."
<Pascale> "… I mean, it's a shitty plan, because all it does is divert the destiny of doom to ME, but I'm pretty confident I can pull that much of it off"
<Sid> "So instead of Janey the Great and Terrible, we get Pas the Great and Terrible. What's the upside?"
<Pascale> "… that's why I wasn't going to do it, even though I care about her— but… seeing this? What happens to the earth?"
<Nico> "Theoretically: Pas is more amenable to working around the destiny, rather than charging forward."
<Pascale> "What happens to the Ash?"
<Pascale> "I don't even want to rule Hell, and that's the GOOD part of the prophecy."
<Sid> Sid frowns. "I'm not happy with this. I don't want you to go and get yourself killed any more than I want Janey to stay dead. But if you say it's the only way, you probably know better than I ever could. So, go ahead. Let's go back and time, and you just tell me what you need me to do.
<Sid> "Just don't die, kiddo."
<Pascale> "I *don't* know it's the only way."
<Nico> "Because it isn't."
<Pascale> "I just— I'm scared, Sid."
<Sid> "Me too. But for what it's worth, you've got a better head on you than anyone I know who isn't the living incarnation of Wisdom itself, and you've got a remarkably admirable streak of down-to-earth common sense."
<Nico> Nico looks to Attaris. "What would you do, faced with this situation?"
<Sid> "If anyone can take on a doomsday apocalypse and beat it with nothing but some clever misdirection and outthinking, it's going to be you."
<Hollyhock God> Attaris considers. "Find a way to make being a beast-queen work for me."
<Hollyhock God> "Sometimes the Ash needs a good shaking, after all."
<Pascale> "Wish Jane were here."
<Sid> "We all do. I just wish the cost just wasn't so damn high."
<Nico> "Just so we're clear: let's say the cost out loud. We need to hear it."
- Pascale takes a deep breath and waits for Nico to proceed.
- Nico looks at Pascale, promptingly.
<Pascale> "… someone has to accept… becoming corrupt, taking a throne as a destroyer who will crack the earth and shake the tree."
<Pascale> "And becoming a Beast Queen."
<Pascale> "And lying with Lambkin."
<Nico> "And can you live with that Pascale? Can you really live with that, and still have your sister and your parents and a potential eternity before you?"
<Pascale> "Also possibly rising to power by the hand of Hell."
- Pascale wipes her eyes a little. "That's not FAIR."
<Hollyhock God> "The price is always lower if you pay in Canadian dollars," says Attaris. "Now you've seen what you need to see, so it's time you left. I'll give you one last piece of advice: You do have a choice, always, even if it's terrible. So don't let yourself believe that you've been forced down one path. That kind of fatalism does nothing but destroy your capacity to make choices at all."
- Nico crosses over and hugs Pascale. "It's not fair. It's absolutely not. And you don't have to do it."
<Pascale> "You don't have a better solution, Nico. Not if Jane won't listen."
<Nico> "Fuck, if it comes down to it, I'll be the Beast Queen. I'm already pretty monstrous," he says patting Pascale lightly. "We'll just say that the Leaping Oracle's a bit of a homophobe. But we'll burn that bridge only if and when we come to it."
<Nico> "Jane could listen to reason, against all prior experience. And there could be…a whole 'nother way. Something we haven't even thought of yet."
<Pascale> "… and if I *don't* do this, can any of us live with the consequences of that cowardice?"
<Pascale> "If we don't do this."
<Nico> "We're doing SOMETHING. That's all anyone can ever do, really."
<Pascale> "But this IS our second chance. What if we…"
<Pascale> 4 TMP, hard miracle.
<Pascale> Pascale writes in the book of answers:
<Pascale> "What should I do?"
<Hollyhock God> "Ask Paolo."
<Hollyhock God> "Not future ripped Paolo. The other one."
<Pascale> "Can you send us back?"
<Sid> "I think we just have to crawl into the rift in the Seal."
- Pascale shrugs.
<Pascale> "Oh. Yeah.
<Pascale> "Or that."
<Sid> "Messiahs first, sis."
<Pascale> "Not a messiah."
- Pascale Pascale goes anyway.
<Nico> "And cheer the ef up," Nico adds, smiling at Pascale. "We're traveling! In time!"
<Hollyhock God> You crawl.
<Hollyhock God> And then you wake up.
<Hollyhock God> It's the first day of the rest of your life.