<HollyhockGod> It's now a week or two since…
<HollyhockGod> Well, I guess there's no point in saying how long ago an event was if it no longer happened.
<HollyhockGod> Suffice it to say you haven't had much trouble putting the incident of the renounced residence out of your minds.
- Rimblade is now known as Darryl_Collins
- Gayo is now known as Vauncey
<HollyhockGod> Plus, you've got exciting new problems!
<Vauncey> oyster pie? wait I'm in character
<HollyhockGod> Steak and oyster pie.
<Darryl_Collins> Yeah, Vauncey. Focus on our exciting new problems!
<HollyhockGod> So: lately you've been trying to collect from this character named Hannah Ruben.
<HollyhockGod> She's the Domina of Ecstacy, one of the Powers of the True God Adoel.
<HollyhockGod> As far as you can figure out, its only Power, or at least if it has others you haven't heard of them.
<HollyhockGod> Frankly, you've barely heard of Ruben. Her paper trail is spotty at best.
- Sarabande idly muses that there is probably a power of Being Overlooked.
<HollyhockGod> Adoel signalled its intention to build a Chancel on Earth fifty years ago, and you've heard of Ruben vaguely, but the location of said Chancel remains unknown.
<HollyhockGod> That's not unusual, of course, since a Chancel *is* a magical fortress.
<HollyhockGod> But you don't have a forwarding address.
<HollyhockGod> She's not signed on to the Accords at Babylon.
<Vauncey> Can we find the documents pertaining to the construction process?
<Vauncey> all kinds of red tape there no doubt
<HollyhockGod> You haven't been able to so far.
<HollyhockGod> No apparent permit for construction was granted, or ever asked for.
<Darryl_Collins> This calls for a round-table meeting.
<Darryl_Collins> No, an EMERGENCY meeting.
- Sarabande agrees!
<DukeGod> So, it is nowish?
<DukeGod> Yeah, last week I was late more than I thought I was
- DukeGod is now known as Nomen
<HollyhockGod> Life is full of troubles!
<Vauncey> I thought you meant "is now the time that it is presently."
<HollyhockGod> And Elliott is called away also.
<Vauncey> This is plausible for Nobilis.
<HollyhockGod> But, you have an emergency to deal with!
<Vauncey> Is his character off on business?
<HollyhockGod> He is trapped in quantum indeterminacy.
<Darryl_Collins> Well, then Co-operation will need to have a lackey to represent them at the meeting.
<HollyhockGod> Thus I shall not permit people to pop into his room and ask for miracles.
<Nomen> (Did the regulament get changed while I was away?)
<Darryl_Collins> Perhaps a particularly agreeable giant bee?
<HollyhockGod> Elliott was Blossoming, though.
<HollyhockGod> Cooperation is already here!
<Darryl_Collins> I get confused, sorry.
<HollyhockGod> Anyway, emergency meeting!
- Sarabande does a dance that indicates that THIS HIVE OF BEES THAT IS DANCING is located RIGHT HERE.
<Vauncey> Is an emergency meeting different from a regular meeting, beyond being emergent?
- Darryl_Collins bangs the gavel on the little gong which signals the start of the EMERGENCY MEETING, then tucks the gong away on the shelf of gongs for other meeting types.
<HollyhockGod> My favorite is the jelly meeting.
<Darryl_Collins> "So. Hannah Ruben. What do we do about it?"
- Vauncey shakes his head. "I haven't come up with any documentation in the files. Has anyone run into her before? I only met the lady once, at a party, and it was quite a long time ago."
<Sarabande> "We have not."
<Darryl_Collins> "Adoel's Chancel falls under the exceptions in Rule 4005(b)(2), so I've never had to audit it."
<Sarabande> "Well. We see no reason to delay."
<Sarabande> Sarabande's humming voice takes on a slightly different tone as they say, "Has anyone helped Ruben to conceal this Chancel?"
<Sarabande> (Lesser Conversation with Cooperation)
<HollyhockGod> I think that's going to require a Divination.
<Sarabande> Would Lesser work?
<Sarabande> That, then. :-)
- Vauncey taps his lips with his pencil eraser and peers down at his spiral notepad. "I wonder…" He begins scratching out figures on the paper.
- Sarabande hums.
<Sarabande> "We believe she is working alone."
<Sarabande> There's a distinct note of disapproval in the voice - working alone is never a good idea!
<Vauncey> (Greater Divination: Can I find out where the Chancel is by detecting its presence as a lacuna in the, uh, taxosphere? Like, to locate unpaid taxes associated with it and find out its location from that.)
- Darryl_Collins sighs and crosses 'Conspiracy to defraud?' off his checklist. Someday.
<HollyhockGod> Hm, that's a good question.
<HollyhockGod> Is there a taxosphere? Unpack your reasoning for me a bit.
<Nomen> (I can't really find people, so I'll wait for now.)
<Vauncey> Well, it seems to me that taxes exist in part in the act of taxation and being taxable, so that taxable things have an essence of taxes "about them". Like a great web of financial reallocation! And if there's something that should be getting taxed but isn't, then it would be noticeable by its negative space, like detecting invisible objects in space by seeing how light bends around them.
<HollyhockGod> Nobody let Nomen go off to find the taxpayer on his own.
<Nomen> (Why not?)
<Sarabande> (BLACK HOLES OUT OF FUCKING NOWHERE)
<HollyhockGod> That seems like something I can work with.
<HollyhockGod> Anyway, your divination returns a negative result.
<Nomen> (I only do that when it's necessary)
- Vauncey frowns at his math. "My equations aren't working out," he mutters to himself. "The nerve of them!"
<Sarabande> "Do we actually know this chancel has been built?"
<Darryl_Collins> "Not really. Let me check to see if I have anything."
<Vauncey> "Ruben must live somewhere," Vauncey says, with a shrug. "We could try following her the next time she shows up for a meeting."
<Darryl_Collins> (My briefcase contains items useful and necessary for the commencement of audits. Does it contain anything which would help us find, and therefore commence an audit upon, this chancel?)
<Vauncey> (if you do have anything, you may want to put some strike into it)
<HollyhockGod> Hm, you have a newspaper clipping.
<HollyhockGod> It's about a new opera, and a new opera singer, who have been driving critics wild.
<HollyhockGod> There's a picture of the singer onstage doing the Organ-Grinder's Song.
- Darryl_Collins opens his briefcase and accepts the clipping from the gnome arm which offers it. He reads it and places it upon the table.
<HollyhockGod> In the background, you can see a fuzzy Hannah Ruben standing backstage.
<Vauncey> Is she normally fuzzy, or is it because of the photograph?
<HollyhockGod> I mean, you assume! She could have been hit with a fuzzy curse that day.
<Vauncey> I see, it's all coming together.
<Darryl_Collins> (I wish to spend one DMP to perform a Lesser Divination to find out if that opera is any good.)
<HollyhockGod> It's fantastic.
<Darryl_Collins> "There you have it. She was backstage at this new opera, which has been receiving rave reviews. Something's up."
<Darryl_Collins> "I propose that we attend this opera and be on the lookout for Hannah."
<Nomen> "We shall hunt her till the fat woman sings"
<Sarabande> "We are very much in favour of this plan."
<Vauncey> "Shall we agree in advance this time to discuss it as a group before we annihilate taxable goods?"
<HollyhockGod> DO NOT EXPLODE THE OPERA HOUSE
<Nomen> (I said I only do that when it's ncessary!)
<Darryl_Collins> "I am in favor of Vauncey's addendum."
<Nomen> "It was just one wing of a very large castle"
<HollyhockGod> Nobody knows what Nomen is talking about.
<HollyhockGod> It sounds like he's ranting about his dreams.
<Nomen> Then so are they
<Vauncey> We got written up for that dream!
<HollyhockGod> They were no doubt referencing a pattern of behavior.
<Vauncey> Clearly we have to be cautious even in dreams.
<Darryl_Collins> "We shall interpret Nomen's non sequitur as agreement."
<Vauncey> This could be a dream right now!
<HollyhockGod> Only because you filled out the forms yourself!
<Vauncey> How fancy is this opera? do we need formalwear?
<HollyhockGod> It was the first time Lord Entropy ever receiving a form from a Noble requesting his own execution.
<HollyhockGod> Oh, yeah; super fancy.
- Darryl_Collins looks somewhat offended at the question.
<HollyhockGod> It lasts seven days, so bring several.
<Vauncey> That's a pretty good value.
<Vauncey> We may want to sneak food in, though.
<Darryl_Collins> Good point- we need tickets. Can I get those from the briefcase too, or will we have to call someone?
<Sarabande> what does the well derssed beehive wear to the opera?
<Nomen> Nomen is gonna show up in a Warlock robe
<Sarabande> … fancy-coloured blobs of pollen firmly attached to the legs, I think
<Vauncey> Well, that's okay, but consider taking the boutonniere.
<Vauncey> it adds a lot.
<HollyhockGod> I presume you can get tickets.
<HollyhockGod> It's a business expense!
<Vauncey> I'm going to wear the tuxedo I wore for the opening of The King's Speech.
<Vauncey> I haven't taken it out since then, actually. It's been very hectic!
<Sarabande> Is the ticket office aware that a hive of bees is one person?
<HollyhockGod> …they are not.
- Sarabande hums.
<Vauncey> We could get you a trenchcoat
- Darryl_Collins passes tickets out to everyone, along with a copy of 'Professional Conduct in Unusual Environments'.
<Sarabande> "The obvious options are to purchase us many tickets or send only one bee. The latter would make that bee quite stupid until it got back to the rest of us."
<Vauncey> Is there a special bee rate?
<Vauncey> It seems like there ought to be.
<HollyhockGod> It appears that there is not a special bee rate. For some reason
<Sarabande> How thoughtless!
<Darryl_Collins> "This is unbeeleivable."
<Sarabande> I think the expense account won't stretch to more than one ticket for one of us.
<Sarabande> So single bee it is!
<HollyhockGod> Have you tried your standard exemption?
<Darryl_Collins> How old are the individual bees?
<Darryl_Collins> Maybe there's a child rate.
<HollyhockGod> Or you could wear a suit.
<Sarabande> We could not possibly deceive the legitimate authorities of the ticket office.
<HollyhockGod> You'd be assisting them! In counting you properly, as one (1) person.
<Sarabande> Good point!
<Sarabande> Let's go with that.
<Sarabande> (Apparently I have just been persuaded, by the Hollyhock God, not to be screwed over by my bonds. SOMETHING IS AFOOT! ;-) )
<Darryl_Collins> If that's true, you should be able to use a miracle of Cooperation to help them by making them perceive you as a single entity.
<Darryl_Collins> Anyway, where is this opera being held?
- HollyhockGod attempts to think of the most ridiculous place.
<Nomen> Operas need to be on a planet
<HollyhockGod> Carlsbad Caverns.
<HollyhockGod> Hiring it was very expensive.
<HollyhockGod> Well, the performance is there, anyway. The hotel is outside.
<Vauncey> I'm happy that opera is coming back into style, but I don't like the increased focus on spectacle.
<Darryl_Collins> Very well. I call up the hotel to make reservations.
<HollyhockGod> These things you do.
<HollyhockGod> And thus, you arrive at the first night of the Ancient Graves cycle, "Shrine of the Silver Monkey."
<HollyhockGod> Please feel free to describe your spectacular arrival and subsequent hijnx while I see about this steak and oyster pie.
- Vauncey is wearing a flattering tuxedo and carrying a silver-tipped ebony walking stick. He is already very good at walking, so it doesn't help much, but it looks cool and he can hit people with it if need be.
- Sarabande is filling out a flattering tuxedo with a top hat on top!
<Sarabande> there's a gap in between, of course
- Nomen comes in his ceremonial wizard clothing
<Vauncey> "I must say I was a bit skeptical," he says as the group enters the cavern lobby, "But I do quite like what they've done with the place. Have we considered getting a cave?"
<Sarabande> "We would tend to prefer somewhere open to the sky."
<Nomen> "Same here"
- Darryl_Collins taps the de minimis travel fund to hire a limo service (in an absolute sense, the limo fee is relatively de minimis) and arrives in a long car composed of volcanic obsidian. By the strange magic of the dress code he is forbidden to wear anything but a business suit and conservative tie, but he has sprung for a bowler hat and white gloves.
<Darryl_Collins> "Caves are bad for storing physical copies of records, though we could put a server room in one."
<Darryl_Collins> "But you can't beat the acoustics!"
- Vauncey picks up a copy of the program and flips through it while keeping an eye out for anyone he recognizes.
<HollyhockGod> Hm, you don't recognize any of these names.
<HollyhockGod> It's a really nice program, though.
<Darryl_Collins> Who is producing it?
<HollyhockGod> Some guy. His name isn't Hannah. But anyway!
<HollyhockGod> Let's not waste too much time on opera detectoring when I'm already wasting time on pie.
<HollyhockGod> You sneak behind the scenes, and there discover the mysterious and unfuzzy Hannah Ruben helping out with makeup.
<Vauncey> A legitimate concern.
<HollyhockGod> And so, you confront her! Unless you want to stalk her instead of something.
<Vauncey> I want to confront her, but let's just sort of wave and smile and stand in the offing until she's done helping with makeup, to be polite.
<Vauncey> There's no call to be uncivilized about it.
<Darryl_Collins> I second the motion! It is decided.
<HollyhockGod> You confront the taxpayer, politely.
<Nomen> I don't open any black holes. Yet
<HollyhockGod> Hannah Ruben is a middle-aged woman who looks like somebody's mother, or possibly grandmother, or daughter or something.
<HollyhockGod> Fifty years ago she would probably have called people "honey chile" but the spirit is the same even if the words change.
- Vauncey does a quick mental calculus to ensure that it isn't his mother, grandmother, or daughter whom she looks like. OK, that all checks out.
<HollyhockGod> "So," she says. "What can I do for y'all?"
- Vauncey smiles softly. "It's good to see you again, ma'am. We've been trying to dot the i's and cross the t's on a bit of paperwork we have, and we found that we were missing some documents pertaining to Adoel's homestead. We had hoped you might be able to assist us."
<Nomen> (OR ELSE!)
<HollyhockGod> "Homestead? It came from the depths of the Deep Mythic, is what it said. Never been. Makes a swamp look clean."
<Nomen> "Claiming it came from the depths of the Deep Mythic is a popular tax evasion tactic" Nomen whispers to whichever of his mates is closer.
<Vauncey> Does that work? Vauncey will have to remember to ask Darryl later.
<HollyhockGod> I think it's possible Hannah is confused about your meaning.
<Vauncey> "Could we have a cup of tea and ask you some questions about the Chancel?" Vauncey inquires. He produces and checks his pocketwatch. "I believe we can squeeze it in."
<HollyhockGod> "Tea I got. But Chancels, no."
<Vauncey> "Ah, well — shall we, then? It would give us time to sort things out."
<HollyhockGod> Thus, tea happens.
- Vauncey smiles as he holds up the steaming cup of tea. "Ah, that's good. I've been a bit off the stuff for several years, since I spent much of 2007 on a raft subsisting on seawater filtered through pu'erh, but that really is quite a pleasing blend."
<HollyhockGod> "That sounds like a way to get some real good thinkin' done."
- Darryl_Collins coughs and mutters "Allegedly."
- Sarabande adds enough sugar to make the tea resemble nectar.
- HollyhockGod attempts to imagine what that would be like.
- Vauncey nods in agreement. "The first thing I did when I was rescued was take down notes. Ah, but listen to me reminisce. I'm afraid we only see one another on business, but here we are again. Darryl, do you have the papers with the notification of intent to build?"
- Nomen gulps down massive amounts of tea in any way
<Sarabande> HollyhockGod: there's quite a lot of sugar involved.
<HollyhockGod> "Dunno about intentions. I never had a Chancel, anyway. No use for one."
<Sarabande> "We understand your Imperator communicated intent to construct one."
<HollyhockGod> Hannah shrugs. "If he did, I never saw it."
- Vauncey scratches at his cheek, nonplussed. "And you are your Imperator's only Power, yes? Do you recall hearing anything about it at the time?"
<HollyhockGod> "Nope. Honestly, it doesn't talk much. Except, you know."
<HollyhockGod> Hannah gestures eloquently, as if to say that her communion with her Imperator provides her with an endless fount of joy that comes from unity with the divine spirit of Creation itself, but not really much in terms of words that could be said out loud, or used to fill out paperwork.
- Sarabande hums quietly. "We wonder if we could find out if there are other Powers…"
<Sarabande> Lesser Divination of Cooperation: there is before me one end of the Cooperation between Hannah and her Imperator. Does there exist a comparable cooperation between said Imperator and anyone else?
<HollyhockGod> It would appear not.
<HollyhockGod> Oh, wow. That's really weird.
<HollyhockGod> Her Imperator appears to be inside her or something.
- Darryl_Collins sits back and considers. Could it be that, in fact, Hannah was nothing but some form of robotic entity constructed by the Imperator as a shell-game to defeat the tax system?
<Sarabande> Just for a moment, all the bees pause at just the same moment.
<HollyhockGod> That's geographically improbable, to say the least.
<Nomen> What is she the power of again?
<Vauncey> I think the emotion, not the drug.
<Sarabande> A bee happens to land on each of the other members of the Familia, and each of them whispers quietly "We think the Chancel is inside Hannah, and we are not sure she knows that. Be sensitive."
<HollyhockGod> You don't sense any taxable drugs in her system.
- Vauncey is always sensitive! Ably forearmed, he takes a cautious sip of tea.
<Darryl_Collins> "How often do you see Adoel, Ms. Ruben?"
<HollyhockGod> "See? I don't *see* him. We're always together."
<HollyhockGod> "Like, uh…"
<Sarabande> *whispers* "Or maybe she does."
<HollyhockGod> Hannah waves a hand vaguely, attempting to come up with a concept that describes a nonphysical spiritual being with whom you have a personal relationship of deep and mystical meaning.
- Darryl_Collins clenches a fist under the table. Deep and mystical meaning? That's the siren song of tax evasion.
<HollyhockGod> "…not exactly?"
<HollyhockGod> This conversation is becoming unprofitable and meandering! Let's get to the point.
<Vauncey> "I don't imagine you could inquire about the Chancel, in that case?"
<Vauncey> Time is of the essence! They don't want to be late for the opera.
<Darryl_Collins> "What we'd really like is a signed statement that the Chancel does or does not exist."
<HollyhockGod> "Well, I assume there's no Chancel, but since that's just my impression I don't wanna put my John Hancock to it."
<HollyhockGod> "Couldn't really ask Adoel either, since he's an endless tangle of plant life who lives in my heart, or some such."
<Nomen> "Hmnm, maybe we could transport ourselves into your heart."
- Darryl_Collins rubs his face. That is not how one approaches a lady!
<HollyhockGod> Hannah brandishes her can of Mace.
- Vauncey holds up a hand to ease Nomen off.
<Vauncey> "I see, well, thank you. This is quite irregular. But thank you for the tea."
<Nomen> (I have Passion 1: Women. He NEEDs to)
- Vauncey sets down his empty teacup and leans over to murmur to Darryl, "What's the protocol for this?"
<HollyhockGod> It appears that your client has been laying up treasures in heaven.
<Darryl_Collins> "We can't go to court without more than base suspicion. We may need to trail her."
- Darryl_Collins drains his tea in one gulp and shrugs. "Very well, then. We apologize for the intrusion, and we certainly hope the opera goes well."
- Vauncey nods. "Well, ma'am, thank you for your time. We'll let you get back to your work now. Do you have an address where we can contact you if we have any further questions?" Vauncey's studious beard makes him appear remarkably nonthreatening under the circumstances.
<HollyhockGod> "Not really. I move around a lot. Always something to do. I might be here for another couple of weeks, helpin' out."
- HollyhockGod was sort of assuming that Hannah would owe personal taxes whether she has a Chancel or not.
<Nomen> "I guess we should go. I like how you did your eyeshadow by the way" Nomen winks and leaves too
<Vauncey> OK, let's go see that opera! Goddammit Nomen
<Vauncey> well, it's better than black holes.
- Darryl_Collins pulls out a business card from his briefcase. "If you do happen to get an answer, please give us a call. Come along, Sarabande."
- Sarabande come along.
<Sarabande> (that may or may not be grammatically correct, I can't remember :-P )
- HollyhockGod takes a short break to return home from the pie party