Sandbox Hearts, Part One

<HollyhockGod> I'm trying out a sandbox approach this week.

<HollyhockGod> Let us begin.

<HollyhockGod> Yesterday was the first session, and it's now Friday.

<HollyhockGod> Alan's been fixing all the snarls and problems that showed up yesterday.

<HollyhockGod> Anyway, you all feel the tug that comes from a summons from Raemiel, summoning you to an audience beneath the great Loom.

<HollyhockGod> I assume you all just show up with no complications?

<Viktor> Agreed

<Edith> I'll be there

<HollyhockGod> Raemiel is visible, stretched over the immense figure of the Loom that appears in the sky.

<HollyhockGod> "Servants of Raemiel, the second time of our testing is now at hand."

<Laurelynne> I will also arrive, in my ghost form.

<TheAntiPiro> Alan makes it down there rather easily in time for the meeting.

<HollyhockGod> "The Dark Horsemen have made it known that they will attack this sacred space, as they did before."

<HollyhockGod> "I have already taken one grievious wound in the Valde Bellum, and a second may leave me incapacited for millennia, if not longer."

<HollyhockGod> "They must not be allowed to damage my sanctum."

<HollyhockGod> "I wish you to acquire certain mystical reagents for me. I will apply them to the heart of the keep using an ancient charm and strengthen our defenses against the dark powers."

<HollyhockGod> "Bring them to me before the Sun rises and sets three times! That is all."

<HollyhockGod> Four of the lesser Looms begin to move of their own accord.

<HollyhockGod> They spin out threads of fate that separate from the machinery and shape themselves into four scrolls.

<HollyhockGod> Each scroll has details about a different item.

<HollyhockGod> Care to read them?

<TheAntiPiro> Alan will go ahead and snag one at random, but it really isn't random since he figures 3 is a good number for anything. Third scroll, if it doesn't suddenly snap his hand off his arm.

<TheAntiPiro> He needs that hand to drink coffee.

<Viktor> Viktor, an avid reader, steps up to one of the scrolls and grabs both edges to read it. Ditto with the hand snapping addendum.

<HollyhockGod> "The glass heart of Adeline Stone, which was sorcerously separated from her by a jealous lover, and encased in his private museum."

<HollyhockGod> "The wind that blows from the heart when it's greatest desire is fulfilled."

<HollyhockGod> "The firey heart of Mount Saint Helens."

<HollyhockGod> "A human heart of total purity."

<Viktor> I suppose Viktor relates the information from his scroll to his familia.

<HollyhockGod> I guess you can all pick one to hunt down?

<Laurelynne> That was going to be my first question, whether we are going to undertake these separately or as a group one at a time?

<Viktor> Well, we have to do it quickly

<Laurelynne> Three days.

<TheAntiPiro> Was it the morning or night that we got this message?

<HollyhockGod> It's noon.

<TheAntiPiro> Well, day or night.

<Edith> "I spot Love and Purity."

<HollyhockGod> My intention was that you would split up.

<Laurelynne> Very well, I shall volunteer for the heart of Adeline Stone. If there is sorrow in it, it is in my domain.

<Laurelynne> And her tale would be a fine addition to the Tragoedia.

<TheAntiPiro> Alan is a little unsure about the second item.

<HollyhockGod> Apparently her heart was broken very easily.

<Viktor> I like the sound of a "firey heart" and I've always liked Mount Saint Helens, so Viktor goes for that one.

<Viktor> or volunteers, at least.

<HollyhockGod> She often had breakdowns over very small things and abandoned lovers who she felt had harmed her.

<HollyhockGod> Then one of them turned out to be a powerful magician.

<HollyhockGod> He turned her metaphorical glass heart into a real one and stole it.

<HollyhockGod> That pretty well scrapped her acting ability.

<Razzen> Beautifyl.

<Razzen> Sorry, spelling. :P

<HollyhockGod> Now he keeps it in a glass case in his trophy room.

<HollyhockGod> His name's Orrin Romney.

<TheAntiPiro> Alan seems to be stuck between a heart's flatulance or a pure heart and decides he's better off taking the former.

<Edith> That leaves Edith with the latter

<HollyhockGod> Granting peoples desires should be simple enough for Alan, now, shouldn't it?

<HollyhockGod> Okay, so that gives us our plot for tonight.

<HollyhockGod> I'm starting the three-day hourglass… now.

<HollyhockGod> Who wants to go first?

<TheAntiPiro> Alan will be taking his time, so someone else should narrate first.

<Edith> I bolt to throw things in a travel bag (preferably magic) and do I need to throw on a Greater Preservation of Self again?

<HollyhockGod> Only if you wish to.

<Edith> I won't get to once I leave, so yeah

<HollyhockGod> You can certainly maintain it for three days.

<HollyhockGod> Edith wraps herself in enough Chancel-power to give herself a certain degree of protection.

<Laurelynne> Should one of us stay here each day to maintain the Loom?

<HollyhockGod> So… will you go?

<HollyhockGod> It can probably look after itself for a little while.

<HollyhockGod> Alan's probably been on it all night. <Viktor> I can pretty much gate back if anything bad happens.

<HollyhockGod> All right.

<HollyhockGod> Where is Edith going?

<Edith> I suppose that after throwing things in the bag - the most logical place to ask about a pure heart would be the Power of Purity, if I ask nicely

<HollyhockGod> So, you intend to go to Locus Luthiel?

<HollyhockGod> Which is, incidentally, on the Moon? OK.

<Edith> Can I send a message asking for passage into Locus Luthiel beforehand? I don't want to barge in unannounced

<HollyhockGod> I know where Viktor and Laurelynne are going. Alan, you?

<HollyhockGod> Sure, you can send a messenger ahead of you.

<HollyhockGod> Can you cast spells?

<Edith> Um, I think so

<HollyhockGod> Okay, then you can do it that way.

<Laurelynne> I'm going to need a location of this Orrin Romney, or rather his trophy room.

<HollyhockGod> He lives in the famous Winchester Mansion.

<HollyhockGod> Wikipedia if you don't know, prease!

<HollyhockGod> (it's heckuva haunted)

<HollyhockGod> And Viktor is on his way to Washington.

<HollyhockGod> Okay, we can do Edith first.

<TheAntiPiro> Alan is actually back in the Hall of Fate getting one more cup of coffee and a breath mint while he considers the simplest way to find a wind emitted from hearts fulfilling themselves.

<TheAntiPiro> He's apparently in no big rush, unlike his compatriots.

<HollyhockGod> I control fate/ so I'm never late

<HollyhockGod> So, Edith, I guess you'll be taking one of the mystic waterways out of the Chancel and up towards the Moon?

<Edith> Sailin' on starlight, then

<HollyhockGod> Luckily, there are plenty of paths up to the Sun and the Moon in the mythic earth.

<HollyhockGod> Some are even by water.

<HollyhockGod> Your magical messenger precedes you. What shape does it take?

<Edith> Nothing too complex. A ball of fluffy light would fit, I think.

HollyhockGod pictures fluffy light.

<Edith> Be sure to mention the domains that the excrutian has made threats against

<HollyhockGod> Okay. You sail along behind it in one of the Chancel's boats, going upward on a floating path of water towards the Moon and the angel Luthiel's Keep.

<HollyhockGod> She should know since she was there, I guess.

<HollyhockGod> But you can phrase it however you want.

<HollyhockGod> What exactly *did* you say?

<Edith> "I am coming to seek assistance in finding an object of intense scarcity that will assist me and my Familia in battling the Dark Power that has sworn the destruction of love, wrath, hope, emptiness, faith, and solitude."

<Edith> Or along those lines

<Edith> Aspect 0 on thinking what to say.

<HollyhockGod> Okay, the boat sails onward, when suddenly, you have to grab the sides as the boat tips backwards, hard.

<HollyhockGod> You realize from the thud that this is because somebody just landed on the stern behind your back.

<Edith> I turn around.

<Edith> Slowly.

<HollyhockGod> It's Rhys Bellamant, Dominus Fide.

<HollyhockGod> He's holding a picnic basket and smiling.

<HollyhockGod> "Good evening. Is it evening in space?"

<HollyhockGod> Incidentally, you're now three miles from Earth and he landed on you from above.

<HollyhockGod> From the size of the thump.

<Edith> I look up at the stars. "It appears so."

<HollyhockGod> "It seems like a philosophical question. I'll ask Gilbert."

<HollyhockGod> "But I came here to ask something of you."

<HollyhockGod> He tosses the picnic basket into the vacuum and gives it a kick.

<Edith> "How symmetrical. I was on my way to ask something of, well, Fine, to be honest."

<HollyhockGod> It spins upside down, and a plate of sandwiches, two candelabras, a bowl of apples, and a pint of Breyer's ice cream fall neatly out and arrange themselves on the floor of the boat beneath you. Oh, and there's a tablecloth, too.

<HollyhockGod> "Fine is a sweet girl. Well, I say girl. She's two thousand years older than I am."

<Edith> What's in the sandwhiches?

<HollyhockGod> What's your favorite?

<HollyhockGod> That's what it is.

<HollyhockGod> "She never did a soul any harm he didn't deserve. Of course, the ones who did deserve it got a bit shafted, I'd say."

<Edith> "Well, these people always have it coming."

<Edith> "They always do."

<Edith> *type of people

<HollyhockGod> "I can only hope to experience no such disfavor at your hands, Domina."

<HollyhockGod> "I come on behalf of Faith, to seek an alliance with Hope."

<HollyhockGod> "In the war for existence, all Sovereigns are cousins. But those of us who sit upon the seats of Virtue should enjoy an even deeper sympathy."

<HollyhockGod> "So I hoped that you might agree to a policy of mutual aid and succor between us two."

<Edith> "We must count on it, mustn't we? And even if we mustn't, I would hope it would have come about to some degree of its own volition."

<HollyhockGod> "Indeed. For this reason, sandwiches."

<HollyhockGod> Rhys eats a sandwich.

<Edith> It's prawn, isn't it? And not that farmed crap.

<HollyhockGod> If prawn is what you like, that's what it is!

<HollyhockGod> The prawns of the Gods.

<HollyhockGod> Locus Machael is famous for delicious cuisine of all sorts, even prawns.

<Edith> I take a sandwhich. "We really need to take back some of our own waters from the crabs."

<Edith> "They've been getting at everything lately."

<HollyhockGod> "I have often battled the crabs in the canals of Ash-Venetia."

<HollyhockGod> "They hope to one day take back the land for themselves."

<HollyhockGod> "At night I can hear them listening to our songs and our parties."

<HollyhockGod> "Yet no matter how many I render down into crabcakes, more arise."

<HollyhockGod> "This is benefical, however, since I like crabcakes.

<HollyhockGod> "Do visit us soon and see them for yourself."

<Edith> "I think I might, oh to have such a proactive submercile adversary! Ours merely sit and scuttle and, I think they fantasise about writing rather mudane poetry about how mundane it is to be a crab."

<OShuva> *"Oh to have such a proactive submersible adversary! Ours merely sit and scuttle and, I think they fantasize about writing rather mudane poetry about how mundane it is to be a crab."

<HollyhockGod> I like submercile better.

<HollyhockGod> "In that case, I shall send you our cleverest crabs by registered mail."

<HollyhockGod> "In fact, I shall go now and capture them immediately!"

<HollyhockGod> "Soon you shall have a most excellent adversary to while away the hours between elevenses and lunch."

<HollyhockGod> "Conveniently, we are just now directly over Italy."

<Edith> I look over the side of the boat.

<HollyhockGod> You are now about ten miles over Southern Europe.

<HollyhockGod> You hear a slight rustling of cloth, and look up to see that Rhys has jumped lightly over the side, and is plummeting towards the Earth.

<HollyhockGod> "Farewell, and good luck!"

<Edith> "Farewell to you to, and good luck on your future crabbery endevours!"

<Edith> "(Crabbery. Heh.)"

<Viktor> (Aw, now my dull crabs are going to be ousted by Rhys's fancy-shmancy crabs o' doom)

<Edith> (I was thinking that your crabs are so insular that the fancy crabs will be reduced to bitching about your crabs on some form of crab-net)

<Viktor> (Score for indie-crabs)

<HollyhockGod> The boat sails on to the Chancel on the Moon, the Castle of the First and Final.

<HollyhockGod> I believe the moon is about fifty miles away in the Mythic Earth.

<HollyhockGod> Would someone else like to take a turn?

<Viktor> Viktor could take a swing at ye ole travel.

<HollyhockGod> All right, how are you going to go about this.

<HollyhockGod> Tell me all about it.

<Viktor> Well, as far as I know, there are no chancels near to Mt. Saint Helens for me to just gate there, but I suppose I could just take some mystic travel thing to get there from this chancel, or use some miracle.

<Viktor> But I'd like to go with some background on this thing…

<Viktor> Any idea who would know about any magic in the middle of Mt. Saint Helens?

<HollyhockGod> There are mystic gates other than Chancel gates!

<HollyhockGod> You can get there pretty fast using various ways.

<HollyhockGod> There's a Chancel library with information on these things.

<Viktor> Well, I'd like to get to the library first to find out what this could be and what I would need to do.

<HollyhockGod> One of the Looms spins background data into it, so it constantly updates itself, although its idea of what's important is shaky.

<HollyhockGod> "Mt. St. Helens is a dormant volcano in the American state of Washington."

<HollyhockGod> "It is represented in the mythic world by a feathered crimson dragon."

<HollyhockGod> The dragon is moderately fearsome, but it has a fairly wide sphere of influence since the closest Chancel is in California.

<Viktor> Any information on his resistance to intrusion? Typical territorial dragon, or is he conditional about entrance?

<HollyhockGod> He doesn't live *in* the mountain, he *is* the mountain.

<HollyhockGod> Luckily for you there are no towns nearby for hundreds of miles.

<HollyhockGod> I daresay he's fairly territorial.

<Viktor> I suppose a proper miracle could just make my presence too boring for him to notice. I'm guessing I'm going for his heart?

<Viktor> Any information on how to obtain a dragon heart other than the obvious?

<HollyhockGod> "Use your creativity," the book counsels you.

<HollyhockGod> It says that a lot.

<HollyhockGod> You're beginning to suspect that it won't admit to not knowing things.

<Viktor> I see.

<Viktor> One more question before I go, does it know anyone who WOULD know how to obtain a dragon heart?

<Viktor> A magical, mountain-representing dragon heart.

<HollyhockGod> Someone tough?

<HollyhockGod> I mean, all you have to do is kill the dragon and it's simple.

<HollyhockGod> It's not like they vomit them up when you feed them something they don't like.

<HollyhockGod> Unless you go in for miraculous cookery.

<HollyhockGod> Which I guess is possible.

<Viktor> not with my present powers, I don't think. <Viktor> Either way.

<Viktor> Viktor'll burn that bridge when he gets to it

<HollyhockGod> So, on your way?

<Viktor> I suppose Viktor uses one of the multifarious mystical paths to Mt. Saint Helens so he can scout out the dragon, while reasonably cloaked with boredom

<HollyhockGod> Laurelynne, how about you?

<HollyhockGod> Or Alan? Do you have a plan, if Razzen's still working on it?

<Laurelynne> I'm going to step into my Anchor, Lucia, who I think should be based out of Hollywood since she's a well-known psychotherapist.

<TheAntiPiro> Alan is mulling over how to trap a wind emitted from a heart when it has its greatest desire fulfilled.

<HollyhockGod> I'm going to go with magic.

<HollyhockGod> Okay, so once you arrive in Lucia's body, what do you do? Also, tell me about Lucia.

<HollyhockGod> As for catching a magical wind, I'm willing to use some handwavery there.

<Laurelynne> Think Dr. Laura, only without the political crap and the bitchiness. She has a good reputation for getting callers and celebrities to reveal their personal pains and showing them how to cure them.

<HollyhockGod> Where is she now?

<Laurelynne> My plan is for her to take a personal tour of the Winchester House, ostensibly for a special on "historic eccentrics"

<Laurelynne> Probably doing her radio show.

<Laurelynne> Or in bed with a Hollywood player?

<Laurelynne> Or with an Excrucian? :P

<HollyhockGod> So, you plan to sneak in?

<HollyhockGod> I find the sex option most entertaining today.

<Laurelynne> Sneak is such a loaded term, but essentially yes.

<Laurelynne> I assume that in Prosaic Earth the House is still a tourist attraction.

<Laurelynne> Even if in Mythic Reality it's probably a cross between an MC Escher painting and a Stephen King novel.

<HollyhockGod> No, Orrin bought it and lives there, alone.

<HollyhockGod> Correct on the second part, though.

<Laurelynne> Oh, sneak in it is then.

<Razzen> (Did we get 1 CP from the last session?)

<HollyhockGod> Any specific plan involved?

<Razzen> (If so I will have bought Invisible with it.)

<HollyhockGod> Yes, weren't you going to buy Invisibility?

<Razzen> (That's correct.)

<HollyhockGod> Then that makes it easy.

<HollyhockGod> Or you could just search for a mirror inside.

<Laurelynne> I'm planning to use that as needed.

<HollyhockGod> Lucia's car pulls up outside the Winchester Mystery House at sunset on the first day.

<HollyhockGod> The gates are shut.

<Laurelynne> While invisible I look through the gates for anything that might qualify as a mirrored surface.

<HollyhockGod> Windows, but they aren't really good enough.

<HollyhockGod> I don't think you need to know the exact location of a mirror to get in through it.

<Laurelynne> The nearest one then.

<HollyhockGod> I suspect that once you go 'in' through one mirror you can find any mirrors around the target location.

<Laurelynne> I go in through a mirror on her car and look for a way out on the other side of the gate.

<HollyhockGod> Okay, you enter the car's wing mirror and exit from a mirror on the mantelpiece in a dining room.

<HollyhockGod> The table is set for two, and you regret having to jump down onto it.

<Laurelynne> Is anyone at the table?

<HollyhockGod> There's nobody here. According to reports, Romney lives alone, with no servants.

<Laurelynne> Yet it's set for two. Anything else notable?

<HollyhockGod> You're starting to feel lost, and you haven't even left the first room you entered. The whole place has a funky aura.

<HollyhockGod> It's getting difficult to focus on the prosaic world, and your sight keeps slipping into the mythic realm.

<Laurelynne> I'll shift my viewing to Mythic.

<HollyhockGod> The Mythic Mystery House version of the dining room is ten times larger, and the decor is twisted and out of true.

<HollyhockGod> The room is filled with ghosts. You can't see them right now, but your mystic awareness lets you know that the whole house is full of them.

<HollyhockGod> Ten or twelve spirits immediately next to you are moaning softly in a voice that no mortal ear could hear.

<HollyhockGod> No other spirit noises in the house that you know of.

<Laurelynne> I ask them to give clear voice to their sorrows.

<HollyhockGod> I ought to phrase their answer in a rhyming couplet, but I'll spare you.

<HollyhockGod> All of the ghosts in the house were killed by Winchester rifles, and for some reason must remain in the house for eternity.

<HollyhockGod> Are you familiar with the history of the place?

<Razzen> (Well enough.)

<HollyhockGod> It's pretty much like that.

<HollyhockGod> As you tiptoe through the house, the moaning shifts its location to follow you.

<HollyhockGod> The spirits's cries are essentially giving away your position everywhere you move.

<HollyhockGod> The place is too cramped for them to actually move with you.

<Laurelynne> I figured as much. Time for a Lesser Destruction of Sorrow.

<HollyhockGod> 1 DMP? Okay. Specifics?

<Laurelynne> "Spirits, let your pain be at rest and speak of it no more!"

<HollyhockGod> The atmosphere lightens considerably, although the house remains as eerie as ever.

<HollyhockGod> The spirits surrounding you continue to make noise, but they change to a choral "AaaAAaaaAAA."

<Laurelynne> I think the easiest way to navigate would be to get some kind of homing beacon set up.

<Laurelynne> Are they still following me?

<HollyhockGod> Apparently their noisemaking isn't a result of their ghostly curse. In any case, none of the spirits seem to have passed on.

<HollyhockGod> They can't follow because the house is crammed full of ghosts.

<HollyhockGod> It's like a spiritual sardine tin, you're beginnig to realize.

<HollyhockGod> But whatever spirits are next to you are singing.

<Laurelynne> Hrm. I take it I need to get them out of the house.

<HollyhockGod> You move out into the hallway, and the architectural oddness of the house multiples a hundredfold.

<HollyhockGod> Outside of the dining room, the halllway really is an Escher painting.

<HollyhockGod> Stairs go up, down and sideways, doors open out of nowhere, and you can't see the bottom of the room.

<HollyhockGod> You try to switch into the prosaic Earth again, but it's nearly impossible.

<HollyhockGod> Some spiritual pressure is keeping you out of the prosaic world, and it's increasing as you move deeper inside.

<Razzen> (BTW that MP was spent as an SMP since I'm in an Anchor.)

<HollyhockGod> All right.

<HollyhockGod> You hear footsteps somewhere in the building, but it's hard to say where.

<HollyhockGod> But you don't hear a corresponding spirit song.

<HollyhockGod> Whoever's is there, the ghosts aren't responding to it.

<Laurelynne> Must be the resident magician.

<Laurelynne> Well I would really like to try to lock on to the specific pain associated with the glass heart.

<HollyhockGod> What will you do?

<HollyhockGod> Ah, that's a simple task.

<HollyhockGod> You can feel a thousand sorrows, not yet forgotten, as though it were right next to you.

<HollyhockGod> Actually, it's three floors up, in a trophy and gaming room.

<Laurelynne> I'm going to treat it like a homing beacon in my head as I navigate these silly stairs.

<HollyhockGod> You do your best to make your way towards the glass heart, but it's like going up a down escalator.

<HollyhockGod> The landings twist away from you. Once you reach the top of the stairs it's started to point in a different direction.

<HollyhockGod> The footsteps are getting louder.

<Laurelynne> If I do an Aspect miracle for climbing would it make things easier?

<Viktor> (I'm thinking I'm going to go sleep now, since you guy's'll probably get to me later. Night all)

<Razzen> (Good night.)

<Edith> (Fare thee well, and stuffs)

<HollyhockGod> You can try to overcome the craziness, yes.

<HollyhockGod> How far do you want to go?

<Razzen> I think world-class athlete is good enough, so 3 more SMPs to do an Aspect 2 stairclimb.

<HollyhockGod> Lucia's mortal body begins to perform the most insanely athletic leaps and bounds, as you begin to ignore the actual floor plan of the building (it didn't have one anyway) and parkour your way up to the trophy room.

<HollyhockGod> The entire building is still fighting against you, and you're beginning to feel like the space itself is bending to keep you from your goal, but you're making slow progress.

<HollyhockGod> The footsteps continue to grow louder, and you realize that you're moving towards the source.

<Razzen> Must be the right direction then.

<HollyhockGod> Eventually, you come to a flight of stairs that end just before a corner that leads off into some hallway hidden from your view, and you realize that whoever is making the noise is right around the corner.

<HollyhockGod> You have about ten seconds to react.

<Laurelynne> I'm still invisible, yes?

<HollyhockGod> Yes, but you've got a following chorus of ghostly voices.

<Laurelynne> Can I destroy what in their minds is the source of their wailing?

<HollyhockGod> It does seem to cause them some sorrow, so, I don't think you can destroy the cause, but maybe you could destroy their awareness of it?

<Laurelynne> That's what I meant.

<Laurelynne> Have them no longer think of it as a cause or source of grief.

<HollyhockGod> Yes, but I don't see that that would make them stop.

<HollyhockGod> They'd just be happier about it.

<Laurelynne> Or not even realize it at all.

<Laurelynne> Like, for them being imprisoned here is just second nature, business as usual.

<HollyhockGod> You could make them forget about the whole thing.

<HollyhockGod> That would probably stop it.

<Laurelynne> (Sigh, that's really more Viktor's purview.)

<Laurelynne> That's what I would like to do.

<HollyhockGod> Anyway, you already removed their sorrow about being here.

<HollyhockGod> The keening sound following you is separate.

<Laurelynne> I thought it was just the ones around me.

<HollyhockGod> Okay, a fifth SMP down the drain.

<HollyhockGod> I assumed you made the whole house more cheerful

<HollyhockGod> But the keening isn't because they're sad.

<HollyhockGod> Although having to keen bothers them a bit so it's within your power.

<Laurelynne> Oh well.

<HollyhockGod> So you make them forget about that thing that bothers them, and they shut up.

<HollyhockGod> There is a moment of silence.

<Laurelynne> That was the idea.

<HollyhockGod> Then you hear an elderly male voice say, "So, one of the great spirits has come to visit my house?"

<HollyhockGod> And Orrin Romney steps around the corner.

<Laurelynne> What's he look like?

<HollyhockGod> His voice is old, but he has the body of a healthy young man. It's a bit creepy to hear him talk.

<HollyhockGod> Still handsome, tall, a bit like Jensen Ackles.

<HollyhockGod> Or, given his real age, maybe Robert Redford.

<HollyhockGod> He wears very thin bifocal glasses that don't match his Abercrombie clothes.

<HollyhockGod> He looks around for a bit, then adjusts the glasses on his face. "Hm, still a bit foggy even now," he says.

<HollyhockGod> He makes a gesture with one hand, and commands, "Speak, spirit!"

<HollyhockGod> Some spell hits you, but it bounces off. Doesn't apply to you.

<HollyhockGod> He doesn't seem to realize this, and waits.

<Razzen> (Please give me some time to write a reply.)

<Laurelynne> "I speak because I choose to do so, not because you command it, Mortal. But you are correct, I am here to visit this home and to behold the hurt it contains for myself."

<HollyhockGod> "Oh, I invite you to do so! Please, make yourself at home. For as long as you like."

<Laurelynne> "Then I wish for you to act as my guide here, show me the wonderful terrors that you possess here."

<HollyhockGod> "That might take years. What do you wish to see?"

<Laurelynne> "The Spirit Realm calls out with the hurts of a million wounds, but none like the still-beating heart of one torn apart by love and hate."

<HollyhockGod> "I think you might need to be slightly more specif…. Oh! You mean my glass heart."

<HollyhockGod> He chuckles. "That was one of my best workings."

<HollyhockGod> He beckons you to follow him.

<Laurelynne> Very well.

<HollyhockGod> Oddly enough, as he leads you, the way appears to be perfectly straightforward, and you have no trouble going up another story and into the trophy room.

<HollyhockGod> It's a windowless room (in fact, all of them except the dining room were windowless) fillied with both ordinary trophies and even more strange ones.

<HollyhockGod> There's a stuffed moose on the wall, and a live moose tied to the wall, and a chocolate mousse at the bar.

<HollyhockGod> There's a painting on the wall whose occupant turns around to watch you enter.

<HollyhockGod> The stars on the ceiling twinkle.

<HollyhockGod> One side of the room is taken up by a stage that protrudes out into the room itself, and is concealed by a heavy black curtain.

<HollyhockGod> The glass heart is in one of the display cases on the other side of the billiard table.

<HollyhockGod> Romney moves toward it and gestures proudly.

<HollyhockGod> "I spent four nights working on the spell that vassified it and brought it here. Possibly my greatest spell."

<HollyhockGod> "I think it suits me better than it did her. It hasn't been broken once since I took it from her."

<HollyhockGod> "I think she's happier this way."

<TheAntiPiro> (Would these events be recorded on the loom while Alan works upon it?)

<HollyhockGod> I think you could watch to some extent, perhaps.

<HollyhockGod> The Loom is often unclear about what Powers are doing, but you can infer a lot.

<Laurelynne> "Only one whose literal-mindedness that would see a person's fragile heart in such physical, though admittedly ironic, terms, would think that."

<HollyhockGod> So if you want to say you're watching, that's fine."

<TheAntiPiro> (That's fine. Alan is perusing the loom anyway in search of a being worth granting a 'wish'.)

<HollyhockGod> "Oh? She always believed that this man or that girl had broken her heart. She cried her fool eyes out every night over something."

<HollyhockGod> "Now nothing can touch her. Not even time itself."

<HollyhockGod> He gestures.

<HollyhockGod> The black curtain draws back, to reveal a young woman sitting on a stage, in a plain wooden chair.

<HollyhockGod> Her head is lolled forward like a forgotten doll, and she is wearing a maid's outfit.

<HollyhockGod> "Do you appreciate human women, spirit? She often dances for me."

<HollyhockGod> "She'll wear whatever you care to ask for."

<Razzen> (rofl, no wonder you wanted Olf to be here.)

<TheAntiPiro> (I see that I'm not the only one that gets amusement at Olf's expense)

<Laurelynne> "Ah, now I see the truth of it. It was not the pain of the heart that brought me here, at least not her heart. The pain, is yours. It's your rejection, it's your anguish, it's your resentment that I feel."

<Laurelynne> "And this is you remedy."

<HollyhockGod> "Resentment? I don't think of it as that, spirit. Maybe I once did, but I've almost forgotten the hurt she did me."

<Laurelynne> "She can never reject you, because you have her heart, it belongs to you."

<HollyhockGod> "Now she's simply… convenient to have around."

<Laurelynne> Would a Lesser Divination be enough to see if he's still carrying a grudge because of that hurt?

<HollyhockGod> Sure.

<HollyhockGod> He's more or less being honest about it. It stopped being a personal grudge as he got older. Now he just keeps her there because he wants a plaything and is too selfish to care about her a personal needs or desires.

<Laurelynne> And we've already determined that she's crying out spiritually because of this, yes?

<HollyhockGod> Not crying out as such. The heart contains sorrow but at present it's passive.

<HollyhockGod> It's more the sorrow that she felt in her life, merited or not.

<HollyhockGod> There's no sorrow at all in the woman on the stage.

<Laurelynne> No of course not, she doesn't have a heart.

<Laurelynne> "Then remember, remember the pain…her pain, what drove her to flee from it, flee from you, from anyone and everyone, to cast them aside."

<Laurelynne> Would Lesser Change be enough to change his feelings into the sort of hurt that caused her to reject him?

<HollyhockGod> So that he'll want to be rid of her?

<Laurelynne> Exactly.

<Laurelynne> And, hey, it's poetic justice.

<HollyhockGod> …Yes, that would be enough.

<HollyhockGod> Let it be so.

<HollyhockGod> His face twists and distorts as your power washes over him and alters the nature of his pain.

<Laurelynne> "The tragedies that we visit upon those we love come back upon ourselves, often times in far greater proportions."

<HollyhockGod> His gaze falls upon the woman on the stage, then he jerks himself away.

<HollyhockGod> He gives a sudden, full-body shudder that's almost like a silent wail.

<HollyhockGod> Then he mutters, "Your powers are even greater than I suspected, spirit."

<TheAntiPiro> (Take away "away" and this becomes strangely amusing and Olf-like.)

<HollyhockGod> Feel free to imagine that he does that later if it pleases you.

<Laurelynne> Did he resist it?

<HollyhockGod> "But that's fine with me. Oh, very fine. Take her, then."

<HollyhockGod> "Take her and her icy heart."

<HollyhockGod> "I won't even ask for anything in return."

<Laurelynne> "Nor shall you receive it, for you have already taken your due."

<HollyhockGod> He leaves, laughing and crying all at once, and for a moment, his young body walks with the posture of an old, bent, man.

<Laurelynne> I take the heart, but I'm not sure what to do with the girl.

<HollyhockGod> Just tell her to follow?

<Laurelynne> She really can't follow where I'm going.

<Laurelynne> But I will take her out of the mansion, yes.

<HollyhockGod> I suppose you can have her sent to the Chancel in a boat, but let's leave that for later.

<HollyhockGod> Okay, you take the heart from the case and the girl obediently follows you out.

<HollyhockGod> Except, which way is out?

<Laurelynne> See, I can get out via a mirror.

<Laurelynne> Assuming there is one in here.

<HollyhockGod> …There isn't.

<HollyhockGod> No windows, no mirrors. At least, not here.

<Laurelynne> I guess I'll just have to go look for one.

<HollyhockGod> The oppressive feeling of the house is on you in full force.

<HollyhockGod> You aren't even sure if the prosaic world exists anymore.

<HollyhockGod> The inner workings of the house spiral off into infinity, with no sign of an exist.

<Laurelynne> Is the source of the house's feelings within my domain?

<HollyhockGod> No, the house has a spirit, but it's just sort of house-y.

<HollyhockGod> Although it feels bloated.

<Laurelynne> No, I mean why it's feeling this way.

<HollyhockGod> Space is all twisted up inside.

<Laurelynne> Is it because of all the trapped souls?

<HollyhockGod> Romney's voice echoes down to you from above.

<HollyhockGod> "Are you lost, spirit?"

<HollyhockGod> "The Winchester curse binds a hundred thousand lost souls to this building forever."

<HollyhockGod> "The occult pressure prevents spirits from leaving once they enter."

<HollyhockGod> "Now that there are so many, cramming them all in has caused space-time to bend in order to let them fit!"

<Laurelynne> "I am aware of the curse. It does not seem to do this house much good to have them here."

<HollyhockGod> "Powerful beings such as yourself make the space distort even more!"

<HollyhockGod> "You're effectively trapped in the black hole of your own mystical gravitation."

<Laurelynne> "Like a Chinese finger puzzle, the harder I try to get out the more it encloses around me."

<HollyhockGod> "Of course, a normal mortal could simply walk out without noticing this, but every move you make simply brings you deeper down into the house's roots as the universe shifts around you."

<HollyhockGod> "You won't escape unless a human leads you out- and I'm the only human here."

<Laurelynne> "It is always a simple answer, is it not?"

<HollyhockGod> "So, are you ready to deal, spirit?"

<HollyhockGod> "I let you escape with an object of value, since I knew that you wouldn't be able to cart it away."

<HollyhockGod> "This time you'll have to make me an offer if you want to get out of my house."

<Laurelynne> I am thinking, if I get out of Lucia's body I should go back to the Chancel, which is where I entered her from. Then Lucia can hopefully get out on her own since she's human.

<HollyhockGod> But you'll have to leave the heart.

<HollyhockGod> Also, she'll be alone with the sorcerer.

<Laurelynne> That's true.

<HollyhockGod> This is the best trap I ever thought up in three minutes.

<HollyhockGod> At present I only know three ways out.

<OShuva> (I think I've spotted one, but I'm staying stum, I'm not there).

<Laurelynne> Give the heart to Adeline?

<HollyhockGod> Yes, that's one, although it raises the question of whether that will destroy the properties Raemiel wants it for.

<Laurelynne> Right, he wasn't too specific about it.

<Laurelynne> So, that's one, popping out of Lucia is another, and the third is listening to the sorcerer's offer?

<Laurelynne> Or tell Adeline to go find a mirror.

<HollyhockGod> I didn't count popping out of Lucia as a plan since it doesn't solve your main goal.

<HollyhockGod> The third way is what I like to thing of as the "evil logician" solution, and that is all I will say of it.

<Laurelynne> I could pop in and out as she needs defenses, but that's probably not doable.

<Laurelynne> Or I could find a way to undo the curse.

<HollyhockGod> True, but it's difficult as the curse predates you and Romney both.

<HollyhockGod> He didn't make it; it started with the making of the Winchester rifles.

<HollyhockGod> You might be able to get more information on it from another Anchor, but maybe you'd run out of your three days.

<Laurelynne> Right, but someone had to impose it upon them.

<Laurelynne> But yeah, I can still chat with my other Anchors.

<HollyhockGod> Or maybe try a miracle.

<HollyhockGod> Have you done that yet; I'll forget.

<Laurelynne> I'm trying to think of a Domain miracle that would work.

<Laurelynne> I still have enough for a Word of Command if I really need it.

<HollyhockGod> Have you tried divining the source of the curse?

<Laurelynne> Destroy the hurt caused by the Winchester rifle? :P

<HollyhockGod> You might even try thaumaturgy if you were desperate.

<Laurelynne> I asked you about it.

<HollyhockGod> What exactly did I say?

<HollyhockGod> I just had a cool idea but I don't want to contradict myself.

<Laurelynne> You didn't? I asked if the cause of the oppressive feelings (namely the curse) was in my domain.

<Razzen> (And holy shit it's late.)

<HollyhockGod> Oh, the oppressive feelings aren't tied to the curse.

<HollyhockGod> The house pushes down against you.

<HollyhockGod> Except, from what you have just learned, you were actually pushing down against it.

<Laurelynne> Right, got that.

<Laurelynne> What about the curse then?

<HollyhockGod> The fabric of space is stretched and weak, and you're spiritually heay so you create a hole just by being in it.

<HollyhockGod> There's a power keeping the ghosts fenced in.

<HollyhockGod> It does, in fact, seem to be derived from some sorrow.

<HollyhockGod> As opposed to the wailing before, which was likely some spell of Romney's to use the ghosts as a detection system.

<HollyhockGod> The curse seems to be the result of some obsession.

<Laurelynne> Yeah I gathered that.

<HollyhockGod> Essentially, Sarah Winchester created the curse herself, out of her own obsession with the deaths the Winchester rifle caused.

<Laurelynne> Hah, I had a feeling that was it.

<HollyhockGod> She continued to build her house forever because she believed that the ghosts needed a place to stay, to assuage her guilt.

<HollyhockGod> But it was that obsession that created the curse that trapped the spirits there.

<HollyhockGod> She's still here, somewhere, too.

<Laurelynne> I had a hunch she would be.

<HollyhockGod> Also, the whole house is just built with crazy ghost-trapping geometry.

<Laurelynne> Probably down at the bottom of it.

<HollyhockGod> You guessed just right.

<HollyhockGod> She's at the very bottom of the house at the center of the abnormal geomantic lines the place is built around.

<Laurelynne> All right, then I will let the spiritual weight of my being take me down.

<HollyhockGod> You stop fighting the pull that's dragging you down.

<HollyhockGod> The floors fall apart under you like paper.

<HollyhockGod> In fact, you lose track of the actual walls and doors, which were only sort of real, anyway.

<HollyhockGod> You and Adeline, whose hand you are gripping, are hovering in an endless dark space.

<HollyhockGod> In fact, an endless desert, lit mostly by the moon.

<HollyhockGod> Sarah Winchester lies huddled on the ground, drawing lines in the sand, adding onto a massive diagram, the ends of which stretch farther than you can see.

<HollyhockGod> Sparks of light dance across the lines she has drawn, which might be a floor plan and might be a mystic circle of binding.

<HollyhockGod> Your action?

<Razzen> (I think I'd like to hold it until next time.)

<Razzen> (It's really late for me.)

<HollyhockGod> We're nearly done.

<HollyhockGod> I don't really have anything else once this end of your business is finished.

<Razzen> (Well i'll be quick about it then.)

<Laurelynne> "Sarah, you think that with every stair, every wall that you add to this house, you make room for more souls slain by your family's weapon, but what you really are doing is trying to fill the hole in your heart caused by grief at their death. You're filling it by binding those souls to you."

<Laurelynne> What sort of miracle level would it take for her to realize that?

<HollyhockGod> Honestly? You can just Destroy the whole thing and walk out.

<HollyhockGod> If you want something more poetic, use a Change.

<HollyhockGod> Lesser, either way, since it's just one person.

<Laurelynne> That's what I was going for, yeah.

<Laurelynne> I just want her to see that she caused it, not by her weapons but by her grief.

<HollyhockGod> So, you show her the true cause of the suffering she caused?

<HollyhockGod> Okay, that works.

<HollyhockGod> The vague figure on the sand gasps, shivers, and falls upward, leaving her heavy cloak below her on the ground as she vanishes in the sky.

<HollyhockGod> There is a very complicated visual effect as the sands of the desert begin to each fall upward in their turn.

<HollyhockGod> For a moment, you feel coated in something soft and warm as the sands pour upward and past you, flowing around your body like antigravity yogurt.

<HollyhockGod> Then, you find yourself in the dining room, with Adeline by your side.

<HollyhockGod> A scream comes from above as Romney realizes that his trap has been broken.

<HollyhockGod> Your action?

<Laurelynne> I can't pull Adeline with me through the mirror that I know is in the dining room, can I?

<HollyhockGod> No, but you can go out through the window.

<HollyhockGod> The house is now the same in both the prosaic and mythic worlds.

<HollyhockGod> Anything special you do on the way home?

<Laurelynne> All right. We'll just leave then.

<Laurelynne> I can't think of anything.

<HollyhockGod> Okay, you instruct Lucia to send Adeline and the heart back to the Chancel by the boat which you keep in San Jose for that purpose, and return there yourself.

<HollyhockGod> Scenario complete.

<HollyhockGod> …

<HollyhockGod> I think that turned out pretty well.

<Razzen> Yay.

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