<Hollyhock God> It is a dark and stormy night!
<Jane> gettin something to drink. brb again
<Hollyhock God> The Halloween pantheon is flush with their victory over the forces of Christmas, but are concerned about having been saddled at the same time with saving Christmas.
<Hollyhock God> So, you return to Locus Caviel, only to find yourself faced with an even greater problem.
<Hollyhock God> Your little sister!
<Hollyhock God> Pascale is troubled at having been left behind while you went to war with Santa.
<Pascale> Pascale glares somewhere at the camera, as if to say she's not THAT little, before turning her attention back to the returning members of the familia. "Hey. How was the Autumn Counc— hey! You didn't just go to the Autumn Council, you've been to the— omigod! You've been to the north pole!— That is so— wait! Hold on, are we going to save Christmas?"
- Nico looks at Pascale long, hard, and unblinking. Then takes another drink from his flask.
<Pascale> Pascale goes to the puppydog eyes. "This is going to be SO cool. Can I go with on this one? Please? Pretty please? I've been a Noble for, like weeks now, nobody lets me go anywhere important. Well. Two weeks anyhow. Almost two weeks." There is a mumbled addendum about the specific number of days; it is less than fourteen.
- Melum is now known as Ergo
<Jane> "It was pretty dangerous," Jane says, filling in details. "There were elves with spears. Also, missiles."
<Ergo> "'We may or may not have saved Christmas."
<Hollyhock God> Christmas has yet to be saved!
<Hollyhock God> And it falls to you to do it.
<Pascale> "That is. So cool. I mean, it's like every holiday special ever, right? You're going to save Christmas and rescue Niall Lord of Claus, or whatever and learn a valuable lesson about the True Meaning of the Holidays. Please let me come with on this one? Please?" She gives a pleading, overeager look. "I'll tell you where to find the Excrucian?"
<Jane> "Anyway," she says, sitting down, "it looks like we don't have much choice on the Christmas-saving thing—if we don't, my goose is cooked too." She glances around at the Chancel, obligating the Hollyhock God to describe it.
<Jane> Jane's head drops. Those were the exact words she was hoping and dreading she'd hear upon returning.
<Hollyhock God> You have arrived in the outskirts of Locus Caviel, a rundown version of New Orleans post-Katrina, heavily fortfied against possible instrusion.
<Ergo> Thought we were a manor house and plantation?
<Hollyhock God> The manor house is over there.
<Jane> I guess these are the outskirts.
<Hollyhock God> This is Level One.
<Pascale> ((Hey, I thought we were in the collective unconscious, so you're *way* ahead of me!))
<Hollyhock God> Level Two is the wswamp.
<Hollyhock God> Level Three is the plantation, and levels Four through Seven are the manor house.
<Jane> (Does it get more or less dangerous as you move up in levels)
<Hollyhock God> Currently the outskirts are most dangerous. :)
<Ergo> (More. Much more.)
<Hollyhock God> Well, assuming you don't count the Extra Stage down in the church crypt.
<Hollyhock God> But you try to avoid going down there.
<Ergo> (Do we have a hedge maze? We have a hedge maze.)
<Pascale> (And the Secret Level.)
- Jane glances over at Nico. "I don't see a way to do this without her along. Do you?"
<Ergo> (You have to go through the hedge maze to get to the back door! Which goes straight to level 7!)
<Pascale> (… OK. Our Chancel is Video-Game New Orleans, somehow. I like this.)
<Hollyhock God> It's Julepvania.
<Jane> (which one is the fire world you need a Varia Suit to survive?)
<Pascale> (I don't know what that means, HG)
<Ergo> (I assumed the levels were Wonderland references.)
<Hollyhock God> You've never played Castlevania?
<Ergo> The fire world is the boiler room.
<Pascale> (I played Castlevania)
<Jane> that makes sense
<Nico> "I really don't," Nico admits. "And if we tried to go without her, she'd just ask the magic 8-ball. Unless we told a lot of strangers on the way."
<Pascale> Pascale "eeeee!"s and jumps up and practically hugs Jane in excitement. "Thank you so much! You won't be sorry!" she bounces.
<Hollyhock God> But how to find the Excrucians behind this admittedly nebulous plot?
<Jane> "Yeah okay," Jane says, wondering if she was like this right after her… what's the verb for becoming a noble? Noblification? No, that's stupid. "What are you doing out here on the outskirts alone? It's monster central out here."
<Hollyhock God> (Commencement)
<Ergo> Promotion to middle management.
<Jane> Noblification it is.
<Hollyhock God> You can also use enNoblement.
<Jane> (YOU HAVE DONE BEEN NOBLIFIED)
<Pascale> (As per the pamphlet)
<Hollyhock God> Noblesticated.
<Nico> Remember to have your Powers spayed and nobled.
<Jane> (CHECK YOUR NOBLE PRIVILEGE)
<Pascale> ("Drawn the second breath")
<Hollyhock God> It's actually against the law to check ur noble privilige
<Hollyhock God> Lord Entropy would be very unhappy :(
<Pascale> Pascale grins. "Oh. Well. It's. *Possible* I knew when you'd be getting back?"
<Jane> (That makes it sound like a good idea!)
<Ergo> Call no beast your master etc.
<Pascale> (Our laws suck)
<Pascale> (It's kind of a thing.)
<Jane> (screw Lord Entropy he's not the boss of meeeeeee)
<Ergo> (Laws exist to make criminals.)
<Pascale> (Yeah, we may be one of the Screw-Lord-Entropy games)
<Hollyhock God> But whatever! Use your powers, Pascale!
<Hollyhock God> Find that plot! Find it!
<Nico> "We're going to have a talk about etiquette and miracles and scrying when we're done saving Christmas from an evil flower from the Terrible Beyond," Nico says, flat as ever. "And maybe some cake."
<Jane> "Also about possibly getting eaten by wolfmen."
<Nico> "That too," Nico agrees in his most fraternal voice.
<Pascale> "It's not *scrying* Nico, you were trying to keep it quiet. I *know* secrets. It's what I do, you know? 's, whatchacallit." Pascale starts walking towards the door out of the chancel. "Intrinsic."
<Nico> "Our arrival and departure times had better be as intrinsic as you get."
<Ergo> (It just occured to me that the manor house has every room that's pretentious.)
<Ergo> (It has a drawing room.)
<Jane> "Well, no sense wasting time when evil flowers are forcing impossibilities on the calendar," Jane agrees. Pascale's insight still unnerves her. She hasn't yet worked up the nerve to ask… well, anything that wasn't frivolous. Certainly nothing that needs asking.
<Jane> And if Jane Booth has a lot of anything, it's questions.
<Jane> Also pumpkins, candy corn, and monsters. But mostly questions.
<Hollyhock God> Don't forget leather!
- Nico goes back to the plantation and puts on leather.
<Pascale> "… I'm not sure you get this, exactly, Nico." Pascale opens the door out towards the bar you've just came from. "I *am* secrets, right? Like, every time sonebody has a sweet, they're having something that is a peice of you, in some sense, right? It's not just your estate, it's who you are. You can't *not* be sweets. The same way, for example, that I could tell you all about Hewekin Ancerry,
<Pascale> and his evil plot to use a Welkin Rite to destroy the holidays."
<Hollyhock God> Nico is curiously susceptible to my narration.
<Nico> Nico returns in a slim leather jacket just in time for Jane's exposition. "No, I get it. I just…don't like it. I'm not sweets. I'm not my Estate, at least not like you are," he says, offering her a rare look of kindness and jealousy.
<Hollyhock God> It's just as well, since it means we won't make jokes about putting Nico in our mouths.
<Jane> Jane blinks hard. "That's probably a good thing, I don't think I could enjoy that victory cake otherwise."
<Hollyhock God> Instead you get to have Pascale lurking in your brains.
<Jane> (Also it wasn't my exposition!)
<Ergo> Of course not. Who knows where she's been?
<Hollyhock God> Anyway, let's get moving! Time to interrogate Pascale about Hewekin Ancerry and his floral nonsense.
<Jane> She clears her throat. "What Nico said. It's not like that for me, either. It's more like… I dunno, being full of spooky fun." That didn't sound retarded. Sure. "It's there but it's not, I dunno, inseparable."
<Jane> Jane also reflects that it's probably not wise to leave a door to monsterland standing open for too long, and hustles through it.
- Ergo can't participate in this conversation without getting into an Estate spiel.
<Jane> (Don't we get XP for Estate spiels?)
<Pascale> "Yes, but the spiritus dei in your soul, the causa causans— is consubstantial with every instance of— eh. You know what, the details aren't all that need-to-know just now…" She says walking into a bar she probably isn't old enough to drink in.
<Ergo> (Maybe? That doesn't mean they're not annoying!)
<Jane> (I need more Aspect, dammit)
<Hollyhock God> You have to have a struggle to get Destiny.
<Pascale> (I'm struggling against my family's desire to keep me out of their brains! :P)
<Nico> "I know the details. The details are fine," Nico says, picking up an unattended appletini as he passes by the bar, "but you don't have to listen to the ghost of your predecessor gloating about doing…angels know what to your Estate."
<Hollyhock God> You'd want something like "I spend an episode being conflicted about whether I'm responsible for everybody Hannibal Lecter eats".
<Ergo> (Pfeh. Good luck with my multi-brain.)
<Jane> (I'm struggling against the urge to bog the game down pumping Pascale for info!)
<Pascale> (Actually, that could be legitimate.)
<Hollyhock God> I'm now envisioning a running gag where you torment Pascale in various inventive ways to get her to spill.
<Pascale> (Depending on how close you come to asking)
<Nico> (Just to keep things straight in my head: so far Pascale is by far the newest Noble, followed by Jane, followed by Nico, followed by Ergo, with Vance's somewhere in between all those)
<Hollyhock God> Coated in bacon fat and dropped into the hog pen!
<Hollyhock God> Wait, do pigs like bacon?
<Ergo> (I kinda thought I'd be the eldest.)
<Ergo> (Given how weird We are.)
<Hollyhock God> It's nearly seven, guys. Let's interrogate Pascale about something that is the plot.
<Ergo> Some pigs.
<Pascale> (Right, I think that makes you the eldest, yes. Order is Ergo > Nico > Jane > Pascale)
<Pascale> "So, four nobles walk into a bar…"
<Pascale> "No, wait, I'm not telling this one right."
<Pascale> "How's it go?"
- Jane rubs her chin. Maybe she's not so tangled up with Halloween the way Pascal is with Secrets because the actual day only comes once a year, leaving more time to be Jane?
<Ergo> (What loses me is why we're interrogating Pascale. She knows the Secrets is all?)
<Nico> "Get to the good part, Pascale," Nico says between sips, "the Excrucian part."
<Hollyhock God> She also mentioned knowing which Excrucian was responsible.
<Pascale> "Oh! Yeah! Thanks, Nico."
<Pascale> "That's right!"
<Pascale> "Four nobles and an Excrucian walk into a bar…"
<Pascale> She gestures at the gentleman several stools down.
<Hollyhock God> The gentleman starts at this!
- Jane also starts at this!
<Pascale> Pascale beams.
<Hollyhock God> "Ha ha ha!" cries the gentleman, slapping his knee.
- Nico Nico puts down the appletini.
<Nico> "It can't be that easy. Can it?"
<Hollyhock God> He removes his contact lenses to reveal a field of night marked with falling stars.
<Hollyhock God> "Caught! Caught like an olive on a toothpick!"
<Ergo> (All he has to do is wear contacts to hide that?)
<Hollyhock God> Sunglasses also work!
<Hollyhock God> I mean, that won't against an actual divination.
<Hollyhock God> But it was enough to let you all walk past him without noticing when you weren't paying attention.
<Pascale> (Sunglasses makes more sense. But they could be wonders of some kind.)
<Ergo> "We don't care for olives, though we're quite fond of olive oil."
<Nico> Nico turns to Pascale for confirmation: "This is the one, right? The flower guy?"
- Jane sucks in a breath and wraps herself in the protective certainties of the calendar. (1 TMP to bring up the Auctoritas Magister, and now sustaining it until further notice)
<Hollyhock God> "I thought I would have to send a message in asking for an appointment, so I suppose this is more convenient," admits the Excrucian. "Hewekin Ancerry at your service. Metaphorically speaking."
<Ergo> "We are much obliged."
<Hollyhock God> "I suspected you would come looking for me, and since you cannot keep a secret from the mistress of all things hidden, I decided to simply drop in."
<Jane> "That's obliging," Jane admits. "How did you know where to drop in?"
<Pascale> Pascale spaces out, enjoying a brief fantasy of having that printed on business cards.
<Hollyhock God> "Ah, now that would be telling! I didn't drop by to give you a detailed dossier including all my powers and weaknesses!"
<Hollyhock God> "Instead I came simply to inform you of the impending presence of some of my associates."
<Pascale> "Gang, Hewekin Ancerry. Hewekin Ancerry, gang."
<Jane> You'd better have given that dossier to someone, Jane thinks, or we can just get it from Pascale.
<Nico> Nico raises his hand. "Are these associates terrible and/or horrible?"
<Hollyhock God> Hewekin signals the bartender and buys you another round.
<Hollyhock God> "My associates are wonderful! But yes, those other things, too. Shall we say that you are to be… evaluated?"
<Pascale> "They're trying to ruin Christmas," Pascale shrugs to Nico "What do you think?"
<Ergo> "Christms is their means, not their end."
<Jane> Jane's eyes narrow. She reaches out with her subtle senses toward Hewekin, trying to detect if he resonates with any aspects of her domain. (Lesser Divination.)
<Hollyhock God> That's kind of a Persona thing.
<Hollyhock God> A Divination, would, I dunno, tell you what he's afraid of?
<Jane> The Sight, then.
<Nico> (That sound exactly like the description of the Sight)
<Hollyhock God> Hm, he doesn't seem to have a holiday theme.
<Jane> I'm new at this, piss off lol
<Hollyhock God> Nor are his powers based around fear or candy.
<Jane> Lesser Divination to find out what he was up to last Halloween, then.
<Hollyhock God> That's a Greater Divination. Sure you want to?
<Jane> how is that a Greater Divination?
<Hollyhock God> You're asking Halloween for data.
<Pascale> (Data about halloween)
<Hollyhock God> Lesser Divinations are getting data *about* Halloween.
<Pascale> (She's asking about last Halloween, right?)
<Hollyhock God> Generally, lesser divinations give you information about your Estate itself; greater divinations use your Estate as a medium to find out other things.
<Ergo> "It is also difficulty 5 to use greater miracles of Divination. These miracles use your Estate as a spy, asking the Estate as a whole what it or its components have seen or learned about other things."
<Hollyhock God> I admit this is a bit tricky when your Estate is a time period.
<Pascale> (Spend 1 mp? You've got thirty two of the things…)
<Jane> hmm looking at the scale again, I see you're right… ish?
<Jane> (I've only got 6 DMP tho)
<Jane> (Nah I'll pass then)
<Jane> (don't need info about the guy bad enough to risk a DMP on a blind shot in the dark)
<Hollyhock God> "Anyway, to business!" says Hewery.
<Hollyhock God> "Tonight, you will be visited by three Children of Harumaph! If you survive their attentions, we shall withdraw from our attack upon Christmas."
<Hollyhock God> "I think that's very fair."
<Pascale> Pascale does this thing where she mutters the words he's going to say like a quarter second before he says them.
<Nico> "…No, really?"
<Hollyhock God> "Well, obviously we'll start attacking you instead."
<Pascale> (… that's a good response, Nico. Crickets chirp!)
<Hollyhock God> "But only because you're more interesting."
<Nico> "When you say you, do you mean it as a singular or plural pronoun?" Nico asks, eyes widening.
<Jane> "What's stopping us from heading over to your secret hideout and tearing up your evil flower again?"
<Ergo> I could answer that if only I had points in Domain.
<Hollyhock God> "I don't have a secret hideout. The flower is metaphorical."
<Jane> (Hey, did Santa give us that fucked up plank of wood?)
<Pascale> Pascale nods to confirm this. "No secret hideout. I checked."
<Hollyhock God> He did.
- Jane produces the fucked up plank. "That just means that whatever place this came from, it's not a secret. And being metaphorical never stopped something from getting torn up by a Noble."
<Hollyhock God> "That plank belongs to one of my associates in our little projectincidentally I'm surprised you were able to carry it awaybut he won't be visiting you tonight. And his house is not secret, merely intermittent."
- Jane passes the plank over to Ergo. Seems like they could probably make the best eventual use of it.
<Nico> "That is an unsatisfying answer."
<Hollyhock God> "In any case, the facts are as I have stated. Tonight, you will be evaluated as potential permanent nemeses."
<Hollyhock God> "Expect the first visit when the bell tolls one."
<Pascale> "… I *suppose* we could just strengthen Boxing Day and Thanksgiving and sequelch the Welkin Rite."
<Ergo> (…what do We need with a plank of evil wood?)
<Hollyhock God> "And now, having left you properly in suspense, I shall be going."
<Jane> (It's part of a place this guy clearly doesn't want us mucking around with. You're parts, right?)
<Pascale> (You might as well ask "What does God need with a Starship!" — just run with it!)
<Ergo> (God doesn't need a starship!)
<Jane> (then why'd he invest in Treasure?)
<Hollyhock God> Baalhermon plays the mamba
<Hollyhock God> listen to the radio
<Hollyhock God> don't you remember
<Ergo> (God is very bad at charop.)
<Hollyhock God> we built this Chancel on rock and roll
<Pascale> (That would also be a cool chancel)
<Hollyhock God> Anyway, with that, Hewekin Ancerry is no longer there.
<Pascale> "… are we going to let this guy just walk out of here?" Pascale looks to Jane as they let this guy just walk out of here.
<Hollyhock God> He didn't even walk out!
<Pascale> Was being metaphorical!
<Nico> "…You know, I'm pretty sure we should have done something more about that guy. Especially if it involved stabbing."
<Hollyhock God> Well, you could use a miracle to stop him if you had one that would work.
<Ergo> "There's no need for violence."
<Hollyhock God> Stupid Lord Entropy and his rules about stabbing the innocent!
<Ergo> "Not yet, anyway."
<Jane> Jane, who was on the verge of summoning carnivorous shadows or something similarly nasty, hesitates, remembering the previous choco-murder-skeletons episode, and noting the bar full of squishy ordinary folks. And during that hestiation, Hewekin Ancerry is no longer there.
<Nico> "Blood and chocolate," Nico said to Ergo. "It always comes down to blood and chocolate."
<Jane> Innocent hell, he's already attacking a perfectly innocent holiday.
<Hollyhock God> Anyway, apparently that's one of his powers. Might as well start making a dossier.
<Pascale> Er. yes. 'making'. A dossier.
<Jane> "Pascale, it seemed like he was trying to hide his powers from us there. That means he was keeping them secret, right?"
<Hollyhock God> So, do you want to bunker down in anticipation of the upcoming evaluators?
<Jane> "Meaning you know what they are?"
<Jane> "You are coming on all the missions from now on."
<Pascale> She scratches the back of her neck. "Should… probably have told you about that?"
<Jane> Or perhaps Jane spoke too soon.
- Jane squints down.
<Pascale> Pascale blushes, embarrassed; she *knows* things, but not always when to apply them.
<Nico> "In all fairness, we didn't know today was going to be a mission. Just a brunch."
- Jane shakes her head. "If we've got incoming, we probably don't want to be right in the middle of a crowd of bystanders."
<Nico> "We'd be better served in our Chancel."
<Hollyhock God> "Wouldn't be better-served with drinks!" notes Fred, the bartender.
<Nico> "Shut up, Fred."
<Pascale> "Oh. OK, sure." Pascale nods, accepting this. "So the plan is to just wait for the Excrucians of Christmases Past, Present and Yet To Come?"
<Pascale> "Sucker 'em in, and then, *pow*?
<Nico> "It does seem a little disappointing. When you go and say it out loud."
<Hollyhock God> Wait, *while constructing artillery*.
<Hollyhock God> "A trap!" suggests Fred. "A chocolate-baited Excrucian trap. Never fails."
<Pascale> That wasn't a criticism, it was Pascale looking to her elders for their leadership and plannage!
<Nico> "Maybe we can recruit a few of the monsters? Krampus is always complaining about not having enough people to savage."
<Jane> "Do we really want Warmains rampaging through our chancel?"
<Nico> "Do we really want them rampaging through anywhere else?" Nico asked with a shrug. "At least there, we've got a hope of containing the damage."
<Pascale> "Only one is a warmain?" Pascale offers Jane, helpfully.
<Jane> (Hey don't we get a 2MP discount to all miracles in the Chancel?)
<Hollyhock God> 3!
<Jane> (Into the chancel!)
<Jane> Jane is about to shush Fred again, then pauses. "Do any of them have a thing for sweets?" she asks Pascale.
<Nico> "Unfortunately," Nico replies without waiting for Pascale.
<Pascale> (Someone should totally send a DMCA takedown notice for the copy of Nobilis on Scribd, but it's really useful for google searches…)
<Jane> "Okay, maybe we should look into that chocolate-baited Excrucian trap then. In the meantime, we'd best retire into the Chancel and get ready, I guess." Not much of an adventure so far tonight.
<Hollyhock God> Hm, how do you plan to prepare?
<Jane> Well, first we'd need a tactical rundown of what's coming, as far as we know that.
- Hollyhock God hands Pascale an MP to buy her silence.
<Pascale> Pascale looks a teeensy bit disappointed to not be going out into the great wide world on an epic quest to save Christmas, but she heads back into the Chancel again.
<Ergo> Well, the hedge maze will slow them down.
<Jane> In that case, let's just wing it after a wee bit of prep.
<Hollyhock God> Doing the Nobilis Christmas Carol is taking longer than I thought, so yeah, let's.
<Jane> Any of you guys have any prep in mind?
<Hollyhock God> You raise the barricades and get all your best monsters on patrol, render the presence of the spike pits secret, etc, etc.
<Nico> Nico's going to use his evil tome to prepare dangerous traps full of horrible, acidic cocoa.
<Jane> I might have something in mind depending on results of a PM to the HG
<Ergo> We could use the monsters as cannon fodder, but that makes me feel bad.
<Pascale> "Well. I suppose Jane could Preserve them. Or, at least, their Halloweenyness?"
<Jane> "That's the plan. Also…"
- Jane takes in a deep breath and raises her hands. A crisp excitement fills the air throughout the chancel; Halloween decorations suddenly appear on every porch and stoop; cobwebs festoon railings and doorways; jack o' lanterns decorate yards. For the rest of the night, inside Locus Caviel, it is Halloween.
<Pascale> "Oh. Shoot. I don't have a costume!"
<Jane> (4 - 3 = 1 DMP, Greater Creation)
<Hollyhock God> Hooray for Halloween!
<Hollyhock God> Anyway, let's move right along.
<Hollyhock God> The bell tolls nine, then ten, then eleven, then midnight.
<Hollyhock God> And then, one.
<Pascale> (That may actually be effective against Christmasers)
<Hollyhock God> You await the coming of the first Excrucian.
<Hollyhock God> Got a good room for waiting in?
- Jane uses Greater Divination (free inside the Chancel) to have Halloween keep a lookout for any Excrucians or Excrucian agents.
<Nico> The drawing room.
<Nico> No, wait, the sitting room!
<Nico> No, the foyer!
<Nico> No, the back porch!
<Pascale> "…. why do we have a 'Waiting for Excrucians' room anyhow?"
<Pascale> "What kind of architect—-"
<Hollyhock God> The Excrucian is waiting for you in the Excrucians room.
<Ergo> It's a big house.
<Jane> What did he come dressed as?
<Hollyhock God> An Excrucian.
<Hollyhock God> The majordomo apologizes for forgetting to mention that until just now.
<Nico> He is a he, right?
<Hollyhock God> Indeed! Your majordomo hurriedly produces a business card from a pocket.
<Pascale> (I feel so guilty for suggesting three ghosts right about now…)
<Hollyhock God> "ANSELIN ANDERLY, DECEIVER OF HOLIDAYS PAST"
<Hollyhock God> You ask what he looked like.
<Hollyhock God> The majordomo has forgotten who you were talking about.
<Jane> "I prefer he comes to us. Let's bore him."
<Hollyhock God> Sure, why not?
- Jane removes all the fun from the Excrucians room. (Lesser Destruction)
<Hollyhock God> Click-click-click. Jane remembers the clicking of medical heels on the floor outside her glass box.
<Hollyhock God> Occasionally people poke on the glass, or make notes.
<Hollyhock God> This is no place for a little girl.
<Pascale> Pascale is nibbling on some absurdly good Halloween candy and angsting about how much weight this whole 'living in the land of Halloween and Chocolate' thing is going to cause her to gain.
<Jane> (I've still got the Auctoritas Magister up, right?)
<Hollyhock God> Jane is not sure why Pascale is with her inside her glass box. This memory is strange.
<Hollyhock God> You do, although evidently not enough of one.
<Jane> one moment
<Jane> (gonna end up bookmarking these damn pages)
<Pascale> (Heh. You get used to it!)
<Pascale> (… or rather, you get used to it, and then a new edition comes out and everybody looks at you funny when you try to use a Lesser Change of [Estate])
<Hollyhock God> One day, you think it may have been Halloween, you saw Anselin Anderly and another man outside your box, talking about you.
<Jane> Is this… is this real, or…? Jane drops the Auctoritas Magister— wasn't really doing a damn thing, it seemed— and fires up her Divine Mantle in its place. (4 TMP—do I get the Chancel discount on that?)
<Hollyhock God> Your RATIONALITY score isn't high enough to take that action right now!
<Hollyhock God> (You need 2 Strike on an action to act rationally in this bizarre flashback sequence.)
<Hollyhock God> This chamber is ludicrously high, trailing off into nothing (were you sober, you'd probably conclude that your spatial sense is off).
<Jane> (I'll go along with it for now, then)
<Pascale> (So she needs to sustain an aspect 2 'act rationally' miracle?)
- Jane glances about, seeing what else is in the box with her.
<Pascale> (Or rather Aspect 0, 2 strike)
<Hollyhock God> (Note that going along with it is potentially a way to tease memories out of your busted head.)
<Jane> (isn't Aspect 0 non-miraculous?)
<Hollyhock God> Meanwhile, everyone else is sort of there and sort of not.
<Hollyhock God> You likewise need to use Strike to be meaningfully there or not.
<Pascale> (No. "Aspect -" isn't the same as "Aspect 0"— there are a couple properties Aspect 0 miraculous actions have that mundane ones don't. Being blocked by Auctoritas, not making dumb mistakes, etc.)
<Hollyhock God> If anybody else has any bizarre secret or repressed memories for Anderly to animate, be sure to let me know.
<Hollyhock God> Anyway, Anderly comments on the tiny Jane "This is what you've put together, then?"
- Jane heads over and bangs on the glass. "Oi! What is this place?"
<Hollyhock God> The other man nods. "Beautiful, isn't she?" He waves his fingers in front of Jane's banging little fist. "Aw, so cute? Can she understand us, do you think?"
<Hollyhock God> Anselin shakes his head. "Completely irrational. Intelligent, of course."
- Jane flips the other man the bird— see if he understands that. She tries to remember who he is. (Can I back that with a Greater Divination miracle, since it appears to be Halloween inside the memory and the action would be in-keeping with what's going on there?)
<Hollyhock God> Yes, but you'll have to put Strike on it.
<Jane> (do i get Chancel discount on Strike expenditures?)
<Hollyhock God> No.
<Jane> (eh what the hell— sure, I'll burn 2TMP for Strike)
<Hollyhock God> I'm assuming that Locus Caviel has the standard 2-point Auctoritas?
<Ergo> I thought it might be higher what with monster storage.
<Hollyhock God> In that case you'd need even more!
<Hollyhock God> Meanwhile, the scene begins to fade away.
<Nico> (Wait, how are we being screwed by our own Chancel's auctoritas?)
<Jane> ? I thought the excrucian was inside the chancel?
<Hollyhock God> Well, it depends on what you're trying to do.
<Pascale> (He's doing something strange with the past, when you weren't in the chancel?)
<Hollyhock God> If you want to know what actually happened in that memory, you'd be reaching outside the Chancel.
<Jane> but the memories are in my head, aren't they? That's in the chancel.
<Hollyhock God> Your memories don't seem to be accessible.
<Pascale> (But given you being you: *are* the memories in your head?)
<Jane> good question
<Hollyhock God> Except to weird Excrucian powers, I guess.
<Hollyhock God> I mean, I'm assuming Jane's Halloween miracles won't work or she'd have solved the mystery already.
<Jane> it appears I'm not spending Strike, then, and the memory starts to fade
<Pascale> (You may not need to)
<Jane> though I'm committing the fucker's face to memory
<Pascale> (You're in a box, right?)
<Jane> making a new memory of this memory
<Hollyhock God> I was going to say we can figure out that part later.
<Jane> seems that way
<Pascale> (I think you're a free spirit, that can't be contained.)
<Hollyhock God> You can always do more divinations when you aren't high on Deceiver-magic.
<Jane> it's Halloween
<Jane> I can come back and interrogate my domain later
<Jane> oh shit, Pascale's right
<Pascale> (Bond 2, +2 strike…)
<Hollyhock God> Jane ceases to exist!
<Hollyhock God> Suddenly Nico exists.
- Jane finds this very disconcerting.
<Pascale> ("Oh shit, Pascale's right!" -> Cease to exist.)
<Hollyhock God> Hm, Nico, when did you first meet the spirit of Toltecatl?
<Hollyhock God> (She probably should. It's very like a fever dream or a bad trip.)
<Nico> Commencement, I think.
<Hollyhock God> A terrifying ghost hunted you down, flew inside you and filled you up with candy?
<Nico> Something like that. A kind of reverse pinata.
<Hollyhock God> You're running down the street from something horrifying!
- Ergo writes down "reverse pinata"
<Hollyhock God> The street stretches endlessly upwards at an impossible angle.
<Hollyhock God> The buildings leer down at you.
- Nico runs. Perhaps with stacatto puffing and huffing.
<Hollyhock God> Behind you, Anselin Anderly pursues!
<Hollyhock God> He is a terrifying chocolate ghost.
<Hollyhock God> How do you escape?
- Nico ducks down an alleyway, up a fire escape—fumbling all the way, nervous and uncertain and suddenly full of suspicion that he may, in fact, live in interesting times.
<Hollyhock God> You fail to escape!
<Hollyhock God> Anselin Andry flies into your soul and fills you up with candy, like, indeed, a reverse pinata.
<Hollyhock God> Meanwhile, in another dream sequence altogether, Pascale is tied to an operating table.
<Jane> Is this the kind of nonexistence where I can't really do anything or uhhh lol
<Hollyhock God> You need 2 Strike on an action to overcome your nonexistence.
<Hollyhock God> I mean, you don't really not exist; this is just a memory of a time when you weren't there.
<Pascale> (Can you be contained by nonexistence?)
<Jane> Would you say that nonexistence is thus a constraining state of being?
<Hollyhock God> Arguably!
<Jane> is it Halloween in Nico's memory?
<Hollyhock God> No.
<Hollyhock God> Although you can still just use 2 Strike on an Aspect 0 miracle or something to say something Nico can hear.
<Pascale> (Doesn't Elusive protect Nico from this too?)
<Nico> (Oooo. Good point)
<Hollyhock God> But anyway, Anselin Andry has tied Pascale to an operating table and is sharpening a scalpel.
<Jane> okay then, I'm going to I'm going to use an Aspect miracle to exist. My Bond should put two Strike on that.
<Hollyhock God> Yeah, it does, if he decides to take a Wound rather than continuing to go along with our guest villain's exploration of his Psyche.
<Hollyhock God> It's not really "to exist" so much as that the flashback doesn't want you to take actions when you aren't there.
<Hollyhock God> Note that Pascale was present in your dream box, just not in a way that mattered.
<Jane> so in my nonexistent state, I'm aware of what's going on with Nico?
<Hollyhock God> Yeah.
<Jane> in sort of a vague nonexistent manner
<Jane> oh groovy, then I don't need to exist to lend him a hand, do I
<Hollyhock God> Yeah, you're all sort of all in each other's flashbacks. You just need Strike if you want your action to matter within the dream.
<Nico> (Query: is my flashback trying to fill me with terror about Toltecatl and this spookyness?)
<Hollyhock God> Nico: You're remembering the terror you felt at that time.
<Pascale> (Someone just punch the guy)
<Jane> …trying to figure out what the hell to use to get the effect I want here
<Hollyhock God> Insofar as some part of you is aware that this is a dream, you don't sense an additional attack.
<Nico> (Would embracing Toltecatl's nougaty, vengeance-filled center work to hit my Bond?)
<Hollyhock God> You mean, activate your berserk mode?
<Nico> (No, the normal bond I have)
<Pascale> (Anselin Andry is chasing you, and Toltecatl comes out and asserts *mine*?)
<Hollyhock God> Only if "I smolder with Toltecatl's rage" is the top motivation in your stack.
<Hollyhock God> If so, yes.
<Hollyhock God> Anyway, Anselin is saying to Pascale, "I don't see why you're making such a fuss. This will only hurt for a second."
<Hollyhock God> "I mean, I assume. Can we ever really know what it feels like to be another person?"
<Hollyhock God> More psuedo-philosophy follows while he gets his medical kit ready for something that probably won't be pleasant.
<Hollyhock God> You don't have any memory of this, but it all seems vaguely and distressingly familiar.
<Pascale> "Don't be silly," Pascale protests. "I'm not another person."
<Hollyhock God> Actually, given the time this is taking, maybe Nico going berserk is the best way to end this.
<Hollyhock God> He could flatten the second and least interesting Excrucian and we could still finish on time.
<Jane> (Anyone mind if I interject some madness into their scene?)
<Hollyhock God> I may have been silly to try to get three ghosts into one session.
<Pascale> (My scene involves him doing evil medical things to me)
<Pascale> (It's already pretty mad.)
<Pascale> (Do it.)
<Jane> (Do you figure what's going on in your scene constitutes a bad thing about to happen to a good person?)
<Pascale> (… no.)
<Jane> (ooh Pascale is wicked. Oh well, anything I do while nonexistent still seems to get that two base Strike.)
<Nico> (One sec)
<Pascale> (Well, YES, wicked, but I think something bad's going to happen to Anselin and he doesn't realize it.)
- Nico is busy with a sugary stigmata: weeping blood and molten chocolate streams from his eyes and his palms. Inside of him, Anselin tries to speak, but Nico quiets the spectre.
<Nico> "Shut up. Shut up. Shut your mouth and never open it again. You think I'd be SCARED of this?" Nico says, standing. "I -AM- this." His punch rips the memory assunder, like an especially weak tarp subjected to Category 5 wind-driven debris.
<Pascale> (Cam't you just take an action to break free of this miracle and use your freedom strike?)
<Hollyhock God> Nico jolts back into consciousness.
<Hollyhock God> He finds himself standing at the door where he was, as though there had been only a brief moment of reverie.
<Hollyhock God> A reverie which your Siblings are apparently still in.
<Nico> So the Excrucian isn't here?
<Hollyhock God> …not that you recall!
<Nico> I'm still Berzerk Fury Nico, right?
<Hollyhock God> Yeah.
<Jane> oh shit
<Nico> Hmmm. Wake up siblings violently, or track down and gut Excrucian?
<Hollyhock God> Nico takes this opportunity to punch Jane through the wallhave an MP, by the wayand then follows her through the Jane-shaped hole in search of blood.
<Hollyhock God> Jane is brought to her senses by the sudden application of violence.
<Jane> an MP in all categories? :o
<Hollyhock God> Pascale and Ergo are brought to their senses by the sudden Earth-shattering kaboom.
<Hollyhock God> No, he just gets one.
<Pascale> (An MP of any type)
<Jane> oh OK
<Jane> (sticks it in Persona)
<Hollyhock God> No, Nico gets the MP.
<Jane> oh LOL
<Hollyhock God> I will be kind and only give you a Serious Wound ("covered in bits of wall") since we didn't play out a combat.
<Hollyhock God> His Bond triggers when his rage mode makes him do something regrettable and gives him MP.
<Nico> "Blood," Nico says, his eyes red-on-black. "Falling-star-blood, wrung straight from the source. Noble blood. Any blood," Nico says, surveying the wreckage.
- Jane comes back to her senses, covered in bits of wall. "What… what the hell just happened?"
<Hollyhock God> Nico has left the room in search of blood!
- Jane uses a Divination to find out what the hell just happened.
<Hollyhock God> It also applies to anything he *does* motivated by uncontrolled rage, so Watch Out.
<Hollyhock God> You discover that Nico went berserk and is charging around downstairs destroying everything.
<Hollyhock God> Something should probably be done.
- Nico rages through the mansion, not bothering with anything so precious as "door" or even "walls." He drops down, sniffing at the air, hands held like claws. "I will find you and break you and burn you," he proclaims, his voice much lower and perhaps even given reverb.
- Jane uses a Lesser Animation of Halloween to subtly rearrange the corridors of the currently-Halloween-decorated chancel into a kill chute leading Nico straight toward the Excrucian's present location.
<Jane> "Trick or treat, asshole."
<Hollyhock God> Region property applies! BONUS
<Hollyhock God> You can't find Anselin Anderly anywhere in the building, but fortunately, there's a convenient Excrucian at the front door.
<Jane> That'll do.
<Pascale> Pascale opens her mouth to say explain what just happens, realizes people have wandered off and then goes jogging through the mazelike halls to find the rest of the family.
<Hollyhock God> The Deceiver of Christmas Present, appropriately here RIGHT NOW.
<Jane> Also no screwing around with this guy. Skeleton arms, up from the ground, grabbing his ankles to keep him there while Nico's en route.
- Nico pounces on the Excrucian, digging beneath skin for the handle of the creature's ribs, if such beasts even had bones.
<Hollyhock God> Nico charges through a door that wasn't there yesterday, slides screaming down the bannister on one foot, and straight to the front door, which opens so that his arc ends with him landing atop the Warmain.
<Hollyhock God> The door then closes.
<Hollyhock God> There are some messy sound effects.
<Hollyhock God> Then the door opens and Nico re-enters, wiping his face with his handkerchief.
- Jane muses that her curse of inability to kill has gotten an awful lot of people killed lately.
<Hollyhock God> You may be hanging around with the wrong people.
<Nico> (Berzerk over, right?)
<Hollyhock God> Yes.
<Jane> putting the house back in order, and then releasing the Animation miracle
- Nico falls right on his behind as Toltecatl departs to a place deeper than skin and bone, realizing what the taste in his mouth is. Then he finds a quiet place to go and vomit.
- Jane rises from the rubble, still coated in brick dust and stuff. Also ow.
<Hollyhock God> Some helpful vampire butlers assist you to a chair.
<Hollyhock God> Anyway, I guess you've cleared up the whole hour until the third Excrucian arrives.
<Hollyhock God> If you had anything you wanted to do or talk about.
<Pascale> "So… Uh. Does anyone want to talk. About, uh, what just happened?"
<Jane> "That was weird."
<Nico> "I'd rather magic that all away," Nico says weakly. "Anyone got any ideas on how to do that?"
<Pascale> "Magic what all away?"
<Jane> (Hey, where's Ergo?)
<Pascale> (AFK, one assumes)
<Jane> (fair nuff)
<Hollyhock God> He probably got bored owing to lack of mysterious past.
<Ergo> (I'm present, but haven't seen much to contribute.)
<Nico> "That whole thing. With the blood and the punching and the eating and…" Nico grabs a butler by the arm, "I need toothpicks. All of the toothpicks. Bring them to me."
- Jane conjures up a wave of clinging shadows and attempts to use them to scrub the wall-bits off.
<Hollyhock God> Or in fact any past at all!
<Ergo> Also that.
<Hollyhock God> The vampire butler is incredibly offended by this request, but you're the boss.
<Pascale> "The memory? You want to seal it away?"
<Jane> "No!" Jane blurts, dropping the shadows.
<Jane> "Er. No."
<Pascale> Pascale eeps! She's done something wrong.
<Nico> "I'm sorry," Nico says to Jane, very softly.
<Nico> It's a kind of all-encompassing sorry. It includes raising the topic at hand, and also that whole thing with the maiming and the rubble.
<Pascale> For her part, Pascale is kind of desperate to impress the family with her non-uselessness, and easily shamed here.
<Jane> "Just… ergh. Is the one that hasn't showed up yet the one with the weakness for sweets?"
<Pascale> "… the second one seemed kind of weak versus sweets also."
- Nico just has to bury his head in his hands and dry heave a little.
<Hollyhock God> Anyone have a comment on your mysterious memories?
<Pascale> Pascale nervously pats Nico on the back as he slumps, in what she hopes is a comforting/reassuring gesture.
<Nico> "Thank you."
<Jane> "There was… I saw a man, I think a doctor…" Jane trails off.
<Jane> She knows how to ask about him. Find out who he is. Can do it any time now.
<Hollyhock God> Might as well!
<Jane> Deep breath. Greater Divination.
<Pascale> "There was a doctor in mine, too," Pascale deflects.
<Hollyhock God> You pull together memories from some locked-away part of your own head.
<Hollyhock God> It's not somewhere you can get to, but whatever Anselin did to get inside your skull has jarred it open enough to let you tease together a memory of that one Halloween day.
<Pascale> (Does her Bond— I don't seem to have a history—apply/generate MP?)
<Hollyhock God> You, inside the box where you'd always been. Rows of computers and technicians studying you.
<Hollyhock God> Not today!
<Hollyhock God> You were… you don't recognize your emotional state at the time.
<Hollyhock God> This memory seems… wrong. Anselin's touch has colored it somehow, left it with the feeling of a bad trip even in retrospect.
<Jane> It's not really the past she'd been hoping for. Jane scours the memory for any kind of logos— indications— anything to give a clue where this was, who these people were.
<Hollyhock God> You have a clear picture of the room now, and of Anselin and the other man. You wonder if Anselin was ever really there.
<Hollyhock God> The other guy is elderly, bearded, wearing scrubs.
<Hollyhock God> He carries a clipboard and makes notes as he talks about you.
<Hollyhock God> You'll know his face if you see him again.
- Jane decides Anselin probably wasn't really there, but that his presence in the memory was likely overwriting someone who really was.
<Hollyhock God> Given Nico's experience, that seems likely.
<Jane> After all, he wasn't really there at Nico's Commencement, right?
<Hollyhock God> He was not.
<Hollyhock God> Who was Anselin, anyway?
<Hollyhock God> There was just some weird thing your majordomo said that turned out to be imaginary.
<Jane> No time to go into it now. Jane rises, hopefully bits-of-wall free now, and conjures the shadows again. Time to get dressed to meet their third guest.
<Hollyhock God> You find yourself forgetting the entire incident!
<Hollyhock God> For the time being, we'll just give you all a Serious Wound of "trying hard to remember that Anselin exists."
<Nico> (Elusive do anything there?)
<Jane> (I've got Elusive too, yeah)
<Hollyhock God> A minor wound, then.
<Pascale> Can I counter with a preservation of secrets?
<Hollyhock God> Yes.
<Pascale> I do so.
<Jane> Can I counter with an Aspect miracle to commit everything to memory just in time, before it fades?
<Hollyhock God> I really only mentioned it to put it on the table that he can do that.
<Hollyhock God> Yeah, that all works.
<Jane> "Slippery bastard."
<Hollyhock God> Anyway, the clock strikes three as Nico returns in clean clothes.
<Hollyhock God> A ghost arises from the floor!
<Hollyhock God> "Something going on underground, boss," she says. "Tunneling. A big rat, maybe."
- Jane sends zombies and nightcrawlers squirming down into the soil to check it out.
<Hollyhock God> The zombies and nightcrawlers do not report back.
<Hollyhock God> Something is digging its way into your basement.
<Jane> Lesser Divination to find out what happened to them.
<Jane> or Greater Divination, rather
<Hollyhock God> They popped into a tunnel with a starry-eyed man in it. He waved a hand at them and they popped out of existence.
<Hollyhock God> Lesser will do, I think.
<Hollyhock God> But either way.
<Jane> "Hmmm. We appear to have an Excrucian tunneling into our basement who can wave things out of existence."
<Nico> "That's less than optimal," Nico said.
<Hollyhock God> Strategists in the cellar!
<Ergo> (Clearly, the answer is to cease existing.)
<Pascale> "World Breaker's Hand." Pascale nods.
<Jane> "I'll see if I can slow him down," Jane volunteers.
<Hollyhock God> Jane descends into the basement!
<Pascale> "Jane, Wait— use Prese—- " Oh. Well. Too late.
- Jane fills the cellar with a spooky atmosphere, then uses a Greater Preservation to crank it up to the sanity-shattering terror level.
- Jane does this while staying way the hell away from the basement.
<Hollyhock God> This thing happens.
<Hollyhock God> A high-pitched laugh comes from the basement.
<Jane> "That's probably not good."
<Nico> "That is deeply unsettling."
<Hollyhock God> Much like a Strategist who has been driven insane with spookification.
<Nico> "We should do something," Nico says, still seated in his arm chair.
<Jane> By contrast, Jane then fills the tunnel he came in through with fun, which is hopefully more inviting than sanity-shattering terror. Also, candy corn.
<Pascale> "Nico— go to your shop. In the back, third shelf from the left, behind a bunch of Almond Joys, you'll find a box labeled 'Everlasting Gobstoppers'
<Jane> Well, not -completely- filled with the latter. Then it wouldn't work very well as a means of egress.
<Nico> "…Is now really the time for candy?"
<Hollyhock God> The hole is deleted.
<Pascale> "They're actually powerful protection against reality-dissolving effects; the Everlasting bit, see?"
<Nico> (Can I use Treasure 7 to conjure my shop?)
<Jane> Hauling up the ghost of that poor warmain and throwing it down there would probably trip the rule of Hubris, wouldn't it
<Hollyhock God> Not conjure, exactly, but you can access it.
<Hollyhock God> You can try!
<Nico> Nico enters a door that was definitely pretending to be a wall a moment ago.
<Nico> Filled with a sudden certainty that his shop was on the other side.
<Hollyhock God> The general way that hubris works is that as long as the HG is interested, it's all good.
<Hollyhock God> If you bore me or try naked exploits, surprise! Actuals!
<Hollyhock God> But summoning the ghosts of dead Excrucians is all good for Halloween!
<Pascale> "Right. So. I should probably. Thing. Stop Jane getting herself killed."
<Pascale> Pascale says to no-one in particular.
- Jane stops on the verge of conjuring up the vengeful ghost of an Excrucian.
<Jane> "So, bad idea, then."
<Nico> "Did you say something?" Nico asks from the other room, which is actually quite far away.
<Jane> "I'm a bit at a loss how to fight someone who can just delete my monsters," she admits.
<Pascale> (I'm not in the same room! Also, I meant: 'by fighting someone who can make her cease-existing with an automatic action')
<Hollyhock God> And that's how Holden learned why you want Treasure!
<Jane> Except he totally didn't!
<Nico> Nico returns to the foyer with a box of Everlasting Gobstoppers—the nobbed, movie-style monstrosities, not the massmarket gumballs. It tasted of everything, all at once, but especially of sand which was, at least, a step up from Excrucian pancreas (or nearest equivalent).
<Pascale> (Because the Miraculous Treasure actions Nico can use for free in-chancel are miracle level 7 and easily trump his miracle-level-5 gifts of 'lesser destruction of anything')
<Hollyhock God> (A Treasure miracle is useful both as a means of attack and of asserting that your Anchor continues to exist all at once.)
<Hollyhock God> But anyway.
<Nico> (Level 8, actually. I can fill them with my Essence)
<Hollyhock God> Nico has brought mysterious candy.
<Pascale> (You can, but that's a different kind of miracle)
<Nico> Nico looks around to the room full of no one. "So…hopefully not dead."
- Jane absently creates a bitchin' Halloween party down in the basement to keep the Excrucian distracted, while she goes over to see what Nico's got.
<Nico> "That would be just…super bad."
<Pascale> Pascale opens up a secret passage for Nico, to Jane's location. Lesser Creation of Secrets.
<Jane> (I thought we never left the room we were originally in?)
<Hollyhock God> Pascale is habitually not where she was previously when you turn around.
<Nico> Nico follows it, box in hand, one gobstopper lodged in his cheek like a squirrel.
<Pascale> (I'm confused now. I thought you went down, then he destroyed the hole?)
<Hollyhock God> Jane clarified that she did not in fact enter the basement.
<Nico> (Jane didn't go into the basement)
<Pascale> (Oh! OK.)
<Pascale> (My bad!)
<Jane> (No, that was Rand saying I went down. I did not go down. It's Halloween everywhere in the chancel, I do not need to do face-to-face fighting with a guy who can melt my face.)
<Hollyhock God> Said basement is still full of cackling Strategist. It's getting on your nerves.
<Pascale> "Right. Well. So, what would you like the outcome to be, here?"
<Pascale> Pascale looks to Jane.
<Pascale> Even as she accepts a gobstopper from Nico?
<Jane> "Continuing to exist would be good."
- Jane also accepts an everlasting gobstopper.
<Nico> "I forgot I made these," Nico said. "At least, I think I made them."
<Pascale> (Can Nico do 8 for free? Does the 'miracles in 1,2,4 and 8 increments before the 3 tmp discount)
<Pascale> (Can Nico do 8 for free? Does the 'miracles in 1,2,4 and 8 increments' apply before or after before the 3 tmp discount)
<Nico> (Ah, I always forget that bit)
<Hollyhock God> Before.
<Pascale> (It makes things tricky on purpose)
<Pascale> "OK, I mean, sure, that's a given."
<Pascale> "But… in terms of overall outcome. Dead, captured, frightened off, whatnot?
<Nico> "I could try and do something to this guy. There's some pretty mean spells in the Book of Blood & Chocolate. But anything that could hit a guy like that would probably take a good while."
<Jane> "Judging from the laughing, he's probably not going to be able to mount much of an organized agenda for a while after this, and he seems like a handful to capture. Frighten off?"
<Nico> "Seems in theme," Nico says.
<Jane> "Then again, he might know something about Anselin."
<Hollyhock God> A noise on the basement stairs.
<Hollyhock God> Step.
<Hollyhock God> Step.
<Nico> "Who? Oh! Oh. That guy."
<Hollyhock God> Step.
<Jane> "Then again, I may have rendered him into a state where he can't really be interrogated very well."
<Pascale> "Your call, boss."
<Jane> "Screw it, let's spook him."
<Hollyhock God> Step step step stepstepstepstep
<Nico> "…How, exactly?"
<Hollyhock God> The basement door evaporates as the Strategist bursts through and leaps across the hall over your heads.
<Pascale> Pascale looks away at Nico's comment, innocently, as though she suddenly found the wallpaper very interesting.
<Hollyhock God> He tosses something at Jane.
<Pascale> She pops the gobstopper in her mouth.
<Pascale> Can I create a secret weakness? I assume he'll take a deadly to resist…
<Nico> "…Is there any chance we could just talk?" Nico asks feebly.
<Hollyhock God> You can try!
<Hollyhock God> Anyway, he lands on the upstairs balcony in one smooth movement and peers down at you.
<Hollyhock God> Well, you assume. He doesn't have any eyes.
- Jane reaches up to catch it with incredible swiftness (Aspect 4)
<Hollyhock God> Jane fails to catch the eyeballs because I can't figure out what Strategist eyeballs look like detached from the skull and therefore decide that that didn't happen.
<Pascale> Greater Creation of Secrets, a weakness in his worldbreaker's hand. Very limited charges, sort of a thing.
<Hollyhock God> He peers bloodily at his hand, as though wondering what Pascale did to it.
<Hollyhock God> Then he shrugs and deletes the hand.
<Hollyhock God> "I know something you don't know," he says smugly down.
<Pascale> (He deletes his WBH gift?)
<Hollyhock God> Possibly. He definitely unhappened his right hand.
- Jane adds spooky gargoyles to the balcony, then has them lunge and hold him in place.
<Pascale> (Because the target was, to be clear, the gift, not the actual hand…)
<Hollyhock God> Yeah, I know.
<Hollyhock God> He still took his own hand off.
<Pascale> Pascale blinks, innocently. Like: Suuuure ya do, buddy.
<Hollyhock God> "The name is Gannuel Gast," he announces as the gargoyles take him in hand.
<Hollyhock God> "That wasn't the thing, by the way."
<Hollyhock God> "The thing is that I have retired. I surrender. I give up."
<Pascale> "Oh, good. Because I already knew that. Jane, should you perhaps be punching him now?"
<Hollyhock God> "I'm not going to destroy the world."
<Hollyhock God> He cackles.
<Hollyhock God> "Because you are!"
<Hollyhock God> "You and you and you and all of you! I can see it! Ahahahahaha!"
<Hollyhock God> "Worldbreakers to a man!"
<Pascale> Pascale shrugs. "Jane, with the punching, possibly?"
<Jane> Jane blinks, nonplussed. She wonders if this is some sort of mystic foreshadowing, or if she just drove Gannuel Gast nuts.
<Hollyhock God> "Not that any of you are."
<Nico> "Are what?"
<Hollyhock God> "Yes, that. Anyway."
<Nico> Nico raises his hand. "I'm a man."
<Jane> "I don't know, it seems unsporting to punch a man who's surrendered."
<Nico> "I'm a man haunted by the ghost of a man. I'm like, twice a man."
<Pascale> "He hasn't surrendered, he's taunting us overconfidently."
<Nico> "Can we make a new policy re: Excrucians and inducing insanity?" Nico asks Jane.
<Hollyhock God> Strategists aren't like Deceivers! Deceivers are too polite for homophobic slurs.
<Pascale> What's this guy dying from?
<Hollyhock God> They also don't generally chop their own limbs off, so they're basically better antagonists in every way.
<Nico> (Whatever. This guy's just sublimating his desire for my sexiness.)
<Hollyhock God> Knowing too much about the future.
<Jane> "Oh. I'll take your word for that then." She has one of the gargoyles use its free hand to attempt to knock Gannuel Gast out.
<Hollyhock God> The gargoyle give Gannuel a swift punch to the head.
<Hollyhock God> This attempt is incredibly successful!
<Hollyhock God> Gannuel's head is no longer there.
<Hollyhock God> His headless, handless corpse flops to the ground.
<Jane> "Okay that is definitely, definitely NOT what I told it to do!"
<Nico> Nico throws his hands in the air in a show of exhaustion.
<Pascale> Jane's 'can't kill anybody' affliction is kind of a sick joke, right?
- Jane is becoming significantly freaked out at all the dead bodies piling up.
<Hollyhock God> It appears that Gannuel suicided.
<Hollyhock God> I mean, he might have just been a shard.
<Hollyhock God> I probably should bring in some more coincidences to make sure people don't die, yeah. I feel a bit unfair.
<Hollyhock God> I keep dropping into macabre mood and forgetting.
- Nico approaches Jane and pats her shoulder tentatively.
<Pascale> Can I have a secret trap in this room for shard-ghosts?
<Pascale> Or something.
<Hollyhock God> Oh! That's a good idea!
<Jane> I can produce the ghosts in question
<Hollyhock God> Obviously he survives as a shard-ghost caught in Pascale's trap.
<Jane> maybe we can toss the warmain in there too
<Pascale> (The 'one more card' affliction)
<Hollyhock God> See, nobody died at all!
<Pascale> OK. So as he suicides, Pascale steps on a pedal.
<Jane> ghosts are technically dead I think
<Pascale> Ghostbuster SFX fire up.
<Hollyhock God> That's vitalist!
<Pascale> Yes, exactly.
<Hollyhock God> That girl Nico tore apart with his teeth is fine, just fine.
<Jane> it's a distinction I am willing to stick by as it enables me to use the undead as shock troops without guilt
<Hollyhock God> It's all in good fun!
<Pascale> Anyhow, the ceiling opens up with a ghostbuster trap thing and sucks him into it?
- Jane sits down heavily in a nearby chair, still working on that everlasting gobstopper. "This has been a weird day."
<Pascale> "Light is green. Trap is clean," Pascale beams, then glances to Jane, frowns, and looks at her shoes "Um. Sorry. I was hoping we could scare him off first."
<Pascale> "Kind of… aiming for it, and missed, you know?" Pascale glances at the blinking light on the trap.
<Jane> "Wait." She looks up. "We pretty definitively dealt with two out of three of those guys."
- Jane reaches out into Halloween to see if it still feels like it's got Christmas bearing down on it.
<Nico> "But these three were just associates," Nico says, ever the pooper of parties.
<Pascale> "So you're suggesting we may still be in Anselin's mindscape?
<Hollyhock God> The future of Halloween seems somewhat less crowded!
<Jane> "No… wait. It feels like… he actually called off the Welkin rite?"
<Hollyhock God> It looks like Ancerry has actually held up his end of the deal.
<Hollyhock God> Of course, that probably means he'll be going through with the part about tormenting you guys instead, too.
<Jane> Well, at least he's down two associates to bug us with.
<Pascale> "Very cute, Ancerry."
<Pascale> Pascale announces to his absence.
<Hollyhock God> Unless they were just shards, in which case there could be more.
<Pascale> "They were shards, Jane."
<Hollyhock God> The absence is offended.
<Jane> "Stupid excrucians." Jane sighs.
<Hollyhock God> Hey, you're the one who's going to destroy the world!
<Nico> "I'm definitely not eating anymore Excrucians."
<Hollyhock God> The good news is, you're all on the nice list until that happens.
<Pascale> "Yes. well. Wait until I tell you about his pseudoestate," Pascale says, walking towards a counter and not making any move to elaborate.
<Pascale> (The bad news is, I didn't get to make any 'Secret Santa' puns.)
<Jane> "You'll probably have time to do so on the way back to the North Pole. It seems like Niall might want an update."
<Pascale> Pascale comes back with three mugs of hot chocolate. "Did I do OK?"
<Nico> "We should make him come here," Nico says, thumping down in a chair of his own.
<Jane> "He has comfier chairs." She accepts a mug. "You did good, Pascale."
<Pascale> *whews*, handing the others their hot choclates and nervously collapsing into the Halloweeny chairs.
<Jane> Also, Jane thinks but doesn't say, I've got some questions about Christmases past…
<Nico> "Our chairs require no travel, though," Nico said between sips. "And he's a bit full of himself. I could bake him a nice humble pie."
<Pascale> "Well. It's about three AM." Pascale raises her glass. "Happy Halloween to all, and to all a good night?"
<Jane> "Happy Halloween." Jane raises her mug in agreement.
<Pascale> Ho. Ho. Ho.
<Nico> Nico makes a third.
<Nico> Clearly, we should have had a battlewon and dramatic interaction that explored old wounds and opened new ones
<Hollyhock God> And so they all went to bed, as good little children do.
<Ergo> Sorry for my lack of input. Was pretty sick yesterday and I'm still recuperating.
<Hollyhock God> Go eat soup! It will make you well.
<Ergo> I'm eating cake. Same thing right?
<Hollyhock God> Next week, Jane destroys the world, I guess.
<Nico> They're both made of matter.
<Jane> hey! do not!
<Nico> Way to go, Jane.