Second Story - The Waters Of Venice

<Hollyhock God> So! When last we left our heroes, you'd been saddled with the terms of Praxael's Will.

<Hollyhock God> Among other things, you're now in charge of maintaining Locus Praxael, which probably needs another name now.

  • Dreams looks it over to see if there's an actual definition of 'residency' made within.

<Hollyhock God> Hm, it doesn't say!

<Hollyhock God> Curious.

<Dreams> "Hmmm. Troublesomely vague."

<Hollyhock God> Anyway, it turns out that maintaining a Chancel is going to involve an awful lot of decision-making and work.

<Hollyhock God> Of course, some of you were already doing some of it, but it seems like there's a lot more you didn't even know about.

<Miranda> (Do we have an Erus?)

<Miranda> (And can we fob it off on him?)

<Hollyhock God> I don't think you've decided on one, so I guess you don't.

<Hollyhock God> For starters, what's a Henge of Mercy?

<Miranda> "A Henge of whatnow?"

<Hollyhock God> Because you have to calibrate it, whatever it is, according to this ancient instruction manual.

<David> "Isn't that the prison?"

<Miranda> "OK, a little to the left, I can almost see a picture… uh, I'm supposed to see a picture, right?"

<Hollyhock God> You aren't even sure why Praxael wrote an instruction manual for the Chancel, given that it clearly isn't written to be comprehensible to you. Or anyone.

<Dreams> As if comprehensibility ever stopped me!

<Hollyhock God> For a second, Miranda thinks she sees an image of a distant figure through the Henge.

<Hollyhock God> If this thing is in fact the Henge at all, which you aren't sure about.

<Dreams> "So… maybe it's like Stonehenge, only with Mercy instead of Stones?"

<David> (Damn you, Uncertainty!)

  • Miranda doesn't resent that Ambition was absent- not like he's the one who's good at instruction manuals and stuff like that or anything. No, no resentment at all.

<Hollyhock God> But this is a comparatively minor problem.

<Hollyhock God> At least, minor compared to what your third steward has come to tell you.

<Hollyhock God> The third steward, Libero, is a young man who apparently can't talk without moving his hands. He's come to inform you that the water levels in the canals is dropping.

<Miranda> "I assume this isn't a tidal issue?"

<Hollyhock God> Along with the level of the various other things that are supposed to flow through the canals. I think we decided they were full of information, and similar things?

<Libero> "What's a tidal, lady?"

<Dreams> "How quickly are they dropping?"

<David> "Any idea where the water's going?"

<Miranda> (I thought it was water; I'd been pushing for fire….)

<Miranda> (Um, do we not normally have tides?)

<David> (I don't think we have a moon.)

<Hollyhock God> (Well, it's a city full of canals suspended over a giant pit, so I'm not sure where tides would be able to happen.)

<Miranda> (We don't have a sun either.)

<Miranda> (At least not intrinsically.)

<Libero> "Well, usually water happens, and then it falls from the sides. But lately it hasn't been happening quite as much."

<Miranda> (Just assumed there was a natural cyclical flow to— eh, f'gettaboutit.)

<Libero> "I am thinking that in a couple of days we will have no water left at all. But who am I to say?"

<Miranda> "My understanding of previous occurances had always been that a Chancel ususally died or reverted to Earth when its Imperator died, being naturally an extension of His being."

<Dreams> "Hmmm."

<Miranda> "As such, I was rather surprised to find we were expected to remain here for the next century."

  • Dreams skims the Will (Aspect 4 reading comprehension! for 1 AMP) just on the off case something like this is mentioned.

<David> "Well, clearly Prax meant for us to keep it in running order. Maybe we should go to where the water happens, do some investigation?"

  • Miranda waits until Dreams finishes speed-reading the Will, and then sticks the manual in front of him.
  • Dreams takes the Manual and speed-reads that, too. Whoops.

<Hollyhock God> Libero happily goes away, knowing that whatever you decide to do is the right thing.

  • Miranda looks to Dreams. Anything?

<Miranda> "Anything?"

<Hollyhock God> The Will doesn't mention anything about how you're supposed to reside in the Chancel. What a curious lapse!

<Hollyhock God> As for the Manual, hmm….

<Hollyhock God> This looks interesting. There's something called the Scepter of Channels that you see a picture of.

<Hollyhock God> Apparently it "regulates entry and exit." But it doesn't say how it works or where it is.

<Hollyhock God> Funny, it seems sort of familiar.

<Miranda> "Where's Immanuel? Lost objects are usually his thing…"

<Hollyhock God> Like, maybe you saw something like that in the basement somewhere?

<Hollyhock God> Immanuel is nowhere to be found! Also curious!

<Dreams> "Alas, accurate memory is not my strong suit, but this does seem familiar…"

<Hollyhock God> Dreams has a vague idea that he once found Praxael either in the basement or in the catacombs, working with something like the rod you see in the book.

<Hollyhock God> (The line between the basement and the catacombs is not entirely clear.)

<David> (Miracle question: Could I just blow a level 6 Treasure miracle and dispatch Nng'Ketesh to retrieve the scepter?)

<Hollyhock God> …..yes, but it might take a while, since in this case that means searching the entire Chancel.

<Dreams> "We may as well start with the basement, we'll have to start… *sigh* …organizing it sooner or later."

<Miranda> (So better make it 7?)

<Hollyhock God> I don't know that boosting Weaving Destiny's miracle level makes it any faster.

<Dreams> (Come to think of it, a group "How We Saved the Chancel from Dissolution" Project might be a good idea.)

<Hollyhock God> Oh, well, it isn't that hard to find, anyway. So you do!

<Hollyhock God> Dreams correctly remembered that it was in the basement, or possibly the catacombs.

<Hollyhock God> What he failed to recollect was that it's stuck inside the wall, inside a little alcove.

<Hollyhock God> It's really more like a lever than a scepter.

<David> "We should probably label the two…it'd be bad to get these mixed up."

<Miranda> "Ah. Well. OK. Not a problem then. Just…. pull the lever?"

<Hollyhock God> There are also a couple of orbs and some runes. No labels.

<Dreams> "Certainly, David. Just point at the line between the two, and we'll stick up some signs."

<Hollyhock God> The lever appears to be capable of being pulled in a number of different directions, and can also be extended or depressed.

<Dreams> "Trial and error might be tricky, here."

<Hollyhock God> The orbs seem to turn a bit if you twist them.

<Miranda> (I want to poke it, but Miranda shouldn't be the one randomly poking magic objects.)

<Hollyhock God> The runes glow a bit when you move a finger near them.

<Dreams> As if inviting themselves to be touched, ala buttons?

<Hollyhock God> Yes, that seems likely.

<David> Which way is the lever currently positioned?

<Hollyhock God> It's pointing straight out, parallel to the floor.

<Dreams> "This instruction manual is frustratingly uninstructive."

<Hollyhock God> So, we have a lever, some orbs, and some runes/buttons, but no apparent display indicating exactly what they do, or to tell what would happen if you used one.

<Dreams> "Shields, it's been a while, and I don't recall which of my memories of you are real. Can you… metaphorically protect us from the consequences of our actions if we just started experimenting?"

<Miranda> "I'd rather not have to. Precaution is an excellent shield."

<David> "Dreams, no chance you remember what Prax was doing down here?"

<Hollyhock God> Hm, Dreams seems to remember Praxael lazily moving his hands over the controls, turning them this way and that, with his eyes closed and humming to himself.

<Dreams> "Hmmm."

<Hollyhock God> It took you a while to get his attention and he never really explained what he was doing.

<Miranda> (It does seem like I have some overlap there, but just protecting us from consequences seems to shut down plot.)

<Hollyhock God> It also seems like the major effect of shielding you from consequences would just be to cause the controls not to work.

<David> "So…maybe…"

<Dreams> (True, true. Wishful thinking!)

<David> David puts one hand on the scepter, but doesn't actually move it at all.

<Dreams> "It's almost as if he did it in his sleep. Or maybe I'm projecting?"

<David> Anything?

<Hollyhock God> Commerce feels nothing, except dust.

<Hollyhock God> You think the controls might run on dream logic?

<Dreams> "Or…. hrm. Perhaps he knew how to operate it, while dreaming, but not while awake?"

<Dreams> (Incarnations, can they reach into the past?)

<Hollyhock God> I don't know about that… I'd say no. But you can do a Lesser Divination in the Chancel for free, so we'll skip the question for now.

<Hollyhock God> You peer into Praxael's lost dream as best you can.

<Hollyhock God> You see your Angel holding onto the Scepter with one hand, awash in a field of color and sensation.

<Hollyhock God> Cherubs made of pure sound whisper readings into one ear, and scrolls showing views of the Chancel appear before him in sepia ink.

<Hollyhock God> Wheels of light surround each instrument and provide a dial with exact readings about various metaphysical data points.

<Hollyhock God> In short, yes, it does in fact operate in your dreams.

  • HollyhockGod kind of thought that would take longer to figure out.

<Miranda> (Oh. Well. Good adventure! XP all around!)

  • Miranda looks to Dreams. Anything?

<Miranda> "Anything?"

<Dreams> "Hmmm. I think…"

  • Dreams lCreates a dream for himself and gets to work!

<Hollyhock God> Dreams begins sleep-piloting!

<Dreams> (I really should make a project to get some Secondary Domain 'the things of my Chancel', too.)

<Hollyhock God> It's all so simple!

<Hollyhock God> All you have to do is turn the monkey dial to the left and drop the Scepter down towards green.

<Hollyhock God> Now the waters will flow again, and Miranda will get no dessert.

<Hollyhock God> This is all perfectly logical, you understand.

<Dreams> (I laughed.)

<Miranda> (? Don't you mean no Desert?)

<Hollyhock God> From the perspective of the awake, Dreams is just pressing buttons.

<Dreams> But confidently!

<Hollyhock God> But he looks so happy doing it!

<Dreams> Nodding to himself and humming a little bit.

<Hollyhock God> Yes, exactly.

<Miranda> "Well. This may explain, in part, why He was so insistant on us all continuing to reside here.

<Hollyhock God> And then you woke up!

<Hollyhock God> Incidentally, it amuses me that Miranda and nobody else uses the capital He.

  • Miranda tries to avoid pointed remarks about certain members of the Familia who may have, in the recent past, chosen to abandon the Chancel.

<Dreams> "Yes, I do hope not everything requires me to operate it. That would be very unfortunate."

<David> "Everything went better than expected!"

<Miranda> (And Commerce uses 'Prax'! Does emphasize our different relationships to him.)

<Dreams> (And Dreams kind of avoids the subject!)

<Hollyhock God> Possibly someone else could do it if you caused them to dream about the Scepter, but that still sort of requires your intervention.

<David> "Hey, it couldn't be that bad. As long as you make sure you're asleep on the job…"

<Hollyhock God> Returning to the surface, the canals appear to have reached their normal water level again.

<Dreams> "We finished that up quickly. Want to go decide what to do with the Accords while we have the mostly sensible members of the Familia present?"

<Hollyhock God> So of course everybody is happy again…. oh, wait, no.

<Hollyhock God> There's a line of people with Problems waiting at the palace gates.

<David> "I think the Most Sensible Members are about to get mobbed by some Chancelfolk, Dreams."

<Hollyhock God> It's also kind of bizarre that the master of dream-logic counts as most sensible, but I guess it's true.

  • Miranda regards this with curiosity and suspicion. Praxael wasn't this hands-on with the day-to-day maintainence of the chancel and its population, surely, was He?
  • Miranda is totally sensible, BTW.

<Hollyhock God> It does seem to be more petitioners than usual. But without his divine will constantly urging the Chancel towards stability, who can say what will occur?

<Dreams> "We are the living gods of this place, yes. We could tell them to bide their time for an audience."

  • Miranda turns to look to the nearest Steward. What are they all here for?

<Hollyhock God> Anyway, there's a guy who's lost his dog.

<Dreams> I stare at him.

<Miranda> "What are they all here for?"

<Hollyhock God> A woman who's feuding with her husband about whether to have children and wants your ruling.

<Dreams> I stare at them.

<Miranda> (Lesser Creation of a dream about dogs! Lesser Sacrifice of its not being real!)

<Dreams> (I'm not wasting DMP on this guy!)

<Hollyhock God> A kid who claims his professor gave him a poor mark on his essay because he didn't like his opinions.

<David> (And it has to be his dog!)

<Miranda> (I'm earning DMP off these guys! I take my responsibilities seriously!)

<Miranda> (It is! It was a dream about his dog)

  • Miranda sighs.

<Miranda> "OK, let's set up a queue.

<Hollyhock God> A water sorcerer who wants you to get people to stop using the canals on his street to dump waste in.

<Dreams> "You! Dogman! Arbitrate these people's problems! If there's anything untrivial, contact us."

<Miranda> "Some of these can probably be handled by routine administration."

<Dreams> (And now I let Shine 5 do its work!)

<David> "Chancelfolk, guys, come on. I understand that you have problems, but we are kind of trying to fix an entire realm of existence right now. Can everyone with problems that don't really require divine miraculous intervention just…chill, and come back later?"

<Hollyhock God> The crowd begins to show signs of unrest as their troubles are unloaded onto Dogman. A few stewards flock nearby to obey the hapless mortal's instructions.

<Dreams> (This is the price of trying to unload trivialities on me… SOUL-CRUSHING RESPONSIBILITY!)

  • Miranda gives Dreams a disapproving look. We can't just fob our problems off on the first passer-by.

<Miranda> "We can't just fob our problems off on the first passer-by."

  • Dreams checks to see how he rules on the first few problems.

<Miranda> (Though there is a certain dream-logic to this.)

<Dreams> "I believe you mean to say that we probably shouldn't."

  • Miranda glowers.

<David> "I don't think these really count as our problems."

<Miranda> "That was implicit."

<Dreams> (Exactly! If you want to deal with problems with shield-logic, feel free!)

<David> "I think these count as unimportant Chancelfolk things."

<Miranda> (Hee.)

<Hollyhock God> Dogman tells the couple that they seem attractive and would probably have cute children.

<Hollyhock God> He asks the kid what his opinions were and agrees that they probably deserved a crap grade.

<Hollyhock God> He wonders what canals are for if not for use as an impromptu toilet.

<Hollyhock God> Also his ears have gone floppy.

<Hollyhock God> Now you are starting to remember why you don't let Dreams talk to normal people very often.

<Miranda> "Steward, please set up a system to prioritize and organize future petitions, so we can address the Chancelfolk's legitimate needs in a reasonable and responsible manner?"

<Dreams> All right, that last ruling has displeased me. Praxael was the angel of Fire, yes? Don't we have incinerators?

<Hollyhock God> Well, you have an endless pit of fire and broken dreams.

<Miranda> "We do, but Immanuel holds dominion over all burned things."

<Hollyhock God> That's kind of like an incinerator.

<Hollyhock God> I do sort of wonder what he would think about burning trash.

<Miranda> "Which means that as soon as they're incinerated, they go in the pit. It's really not effective waste disposal."

<Hollyhock God> Admittedly things in the canals wind up in the pit eventually.

<Miranda> (Bond: I take my responsibilities seriously!)

<Dreams> ("I only burn NICE things!" Yes, yes.)

<David> "I'm pretty sure that Venice used to have indoor plumbing. Did Prax really get rid of it?"

<David> "That seems…well, entirely like something he would do. But still."

<Hollyhock God> There's indoor plumbing.

<Dreams> "Right. Man who has lost his dog, you have displeased me with your last ruling. Your dog shall remain unfound until you win the respect of somebody capable of helping you."

<Hollyhock God> "What dog?"

  • Miranda facepalms.

<Hollyhock God> In other news, Miranda has been set upon by two petitioners who were too important to wait in line.

  • Miranda facepalms.
  • Dreams ignores that and thoughtfully looks over the crowd as if choosing someone else to delegate, but giving his Familia a chance to interrupt before he does so.

<Hollyhock God> They're two deans from the local school of sorcery, and they're also brother and sister.

<Hollyhock God> "This big lug is Walter Montana," explains the woman.

<Hollyhock God> "And this little twit is Winter Montana," explains the man.

<Miranda> (Didn't I ask the stewards to organize this? Are they doing anything?)

<Hollyhock God> "We came to ask you for a ruling," she tells you. "The college is in need of a replacement Archmagister since Dr. Pethle retired, and traditionally His Grace Praxael made that choice himself."

<Hollyhock God> (Yes, but they can't stop these two because they're too important.)

<Hollyhock God> (Can't you tell by looking at their shiny blue robes?)

<Hollyhock God> Incidentally, the local school of magic is called the Veneto Praxis. It's focused around illusion and the command of water. Exactly why those two go together, you aren't sure.

<Miranda> (We need scarier stewards.)

<Dreams> (I could totally help with that.)

<Dreams> "Miranda, would you rather I see to the stewards, or assist in this matter?"

<Dreams> (Also, what's David doing? Watching with a bemused expression, making bets with the stewards about how long it takes Miranda to snap?)

<Hollyhock God> "Well, clearly, this is more important," avers Walter. "Consider the importance of the College to the city! And consider my sister's incompetence!"

<Hollyhock God> "I agree," says Winter. "Not about the last part."

<Miranda> "I'm not sure— Dreams, can you assist in organizing a civil administration that operates under fair and rational procedures?

  • David is looking for opportunities to be helpful, such as not Enchanting the stewards!

<Dreams> "Define 'rational'."

<Miranda> (The guy with the Estate that 'gives people what they want' can't help with the petitioners!?)

<Hollyhock God> Do you really want Commerce to get involved in that? It would turn into a bribe-fest!

<David> (There's always a price! Unless you wanna charge Chancelfolk for help….)

<Hollyhock God> And if Dreams does it, even more people are going to turn into animals.

<David> (I could use Sacrifices to make them reward the deserving instead of the wealthy…)

<Dreams> (You know, some sort of fee worse cut down on trivialities being brought before us.)

<Hollyhock God> Or worse.

<Miranda> (No, we just need to juice the Chancel's economy and then then buy what they want.)

<Dreams> (Make appropriate tribute for the judgement of the gods!)

<Dreams> "You know, some sort of fee… hmmm…."

<David> "Say the word, Dreams. Say the word."

  • Dreams emulates Dreams' properties of revealing hidden depths and desires while talking to the potential Archmagisters.

<Dreams> "You don't need my permission."

<Hollyhock God> Winter is a skilled administrator with a secret desire to become a famous painter. Walter is a skilled leader with an inability to keep any secrets whatsoever. Both of them has Passion 2: "Me against my brother; my brother and I against the world."

<Dreams> "Actually, wait. Ha. An opportunity to demonstrate your respective soundnesses of judgment suddenly occurs to me."

  • David shuts his eyes for a moment, letting his consciousness flow through the channels of potential Commerce here. Every man's heart holds the seeds of greed and pragmatism–all it takes to make them bloom into a garden of trades, bribes, and bargains is a little push. David gives it.

<Miranda> "Doctors Montana— I think you'll agree we're operating under extraordinary circumstances, and need to make provision to adress appointments and other administrative issues in a smoothly functioning manner, in or Lord's absence. You've survived without an Archmagister since Dr. Pethle retired, I beg your patience and understanding as we process this matter. I'm certain you do no wish to see such an important decision rushed, or delegated to an inappropriate party." (she eyes the Dogman shiftily).

<David> (Lesser Enchantment of Commerce on all the stewards, giving them the quality of "giving people what they want, but for a price.")

  • HollyhockGod staggers under the weight of three solutions at once.
  • HollyhockGod elects to take the Dreams plan first, because it is funniest.

<Dreams> The stewards could facilitate my plan, with Commerce's blessing.

<Hollyhock God> Sure, why not?

<Dreams> And Miranda can just facepalm more!

<Hollyhock God> The two Doctors are sent out to give orders to the stewards and deal with the problems of the petitioners for you.

  • Miranda shoots Commerce a look.

<Miranda> "I am not having this chancel operate under a principle of pure corruption and bribery!"

<Hollyhock God> WINTER: Well, having a child is one of the most important decisions a couple can make, so I think you need to take into account your joint earning power, your ability to give a child the time it needs, and many similar factors…"

<Dreams> "Actually, we value that which we pay for more. Making a slight barrier to entry of coming to us for problems isn't necessarily a bad thing."

<David> "Miranda, my dear, it's not 'corruption' or 'bribery' or 'soulless oppressive capitalism.' A modest fee for services provided is only sensible, with so much demand and so little supply."

<Hollyhock God> WALTER: "Have you considered the fact that your husband is butt-ugly? Unless he has seriously hidden good qualities, I'd say this is a family tree that doesn't need to be carried on."

<Hollyhock God> Then they get into an argument over the student's essay, although they both agree that it's terrible, just not for the same reasons.

<Miranda> "Justice via wealth is no way to run a government; and as I recall, our supply isn't technically limited.

<Hollyhock God> Eventually they concur on D-minus and send him away.

<Miranda> "Which is to say, can we ensure that the stewards are on our payroll, rather than open to any bidder?"

<David> "We can do charity work once we have the chancel in good keeping, beloved sister. At the moment, we have more pressing matters to handle than lost pets and poorly-written essays."

<Hollyhock God> They also send Dogman away because he has no problems and isn't sure why he's even here.

<Dreams> "Well, if any of them make choices which indicate a desire for wealth over the well-being of the chancel, I'm sure Immanual can think of something to do with them."

<Miranda> "I'm not disputing that, David; I'm merely suggesting that the chancel budget should be the source of the steward's funding rather than the petitioners."

  • David pouts rather impressively.

<David> "That's not Commerce at all!"

<Miranda> "As I recall, Commerce benefits those who have the most wealth, not those who deserve it; in this case, we have the most wealth. Think of it as buying our way out of the problem."

<David> "Appealingly worded, but perhaps not the most immediate of solutions. A compromise, perhaps–keep the fees for now, because seriously we are god-like beings of miraculous power and we have better things to do than finding lost dogs. But have all fees paid into the Chancel budget, pay the stewards out of that, and skim some off the top to get ourselves something nice."

<Miranda> "… no, that's worse."

<David> "I guess we don't have to embezzle, but the corruption is the enjoyable part…"

  • Miranda rolls her eyes.
  • KreenWarrior has joined #lastmiracle

<Miranda> "And here I thought that was 'connecting people and societies through exchange'"

<KreenWarrior> (Hey, folks.)

<Miranda> (Hi, Kreen! Jump in! I'm trying to stop David from organizing the Chancel to operate on principles of pure corruption!)

<Hollyhock God> Good evening.

<Dreams> "What if, instead of 'skim off the top', we merely allocate a fraction of resources into a discretionary fund for emergencies?"

<Hollyhock God> Miranda is getting no dessert, and Dreams just turned a guy into a dog.

  • Dreams stirs the nearby table with his finger and neglects to point out that those are more or less the same thing.

<KreenWarrior> (I may have to step out early as well, I'm extremely exhausted.)

<KreenWarrior> (But we'll see.)

  • David agrees wholeheartedly with Dreams' even-handed compromise!
  • KreenWarrior is now known as Henry
  • Miranda facepalms.

<Henry> Henry walks into [wherever you guys are] "Ah. I see we have acquired a family pet?"

<Hollyhock God> Naw, they tossed him out already.

<Dreams> "Hmm? Did you want him?"

  • Miranda looks around for Immanuel, and then blinks because Henry's comment makes no sense.

<Hollyhock God> I'm extremely amused because Dreams turned a random guy asking them for help into a dog and nobody noticed or cared.

<Hollyhock God> This Familia is going to be fun.

<Henry> (Sorry, trying to jump in feet first.)

<Dreams> "Oh, did the dogman leave an echo? No, that's just somebody who came to us with a problem that I temporarily put in charge because it made sense at the time."

<Henry> (Where are you guys and what are you doing at the moment?)

<Miranda> "Chancel services, whatever they may be, should not be allocated on the basis of the citizenry's preexisting wealth and willingness to bribe the Stewards."

<Miranda> (Huh. I actually hadn't realized he'd gone all the way doggy or I would have objected.)

<Miranda> (On account of, you know, stick in the mud.)

<David> (We're in the palace, hearing petitions from Chancelfolk.)

<David> (Worthless stupid Chancelfolk.)

<Hollyhock God> (A bunch of petitioners came with problems, and everybody is trying to make it somebody else's problem.)

<Dreams> We're at the head of a long line of chancel citizens with problems, and we've (I've) delegated it to two people who each wanted to be Archmagister of the sorcery college to test their decision-making abilities.

<Hollyhock God> (Except Commerce, who wants to make it his problem.)

<Hollyhock God> (And everyone else, who definitely don't want it to be Commerce's problem.)

<Miranda> (Hey now! I'm totally about problematizing this!)

<Hollyhock God> (Anyway, technically he just has dog ears and a tail, but you probably had your mind on other things.)

<Miranda> (Also, how do MP regen and healing work in this game format?)

<Hollyhock God> (I daresay many people will turn into animals before Dreams has lived here for long. And furniture will walk.)

<Hollyhock God> You get a full refresh when a new story starts.

<Henry> (Anyways) Henry approaches the Familia. "Sorry I'm late; I was finishing up the transfer of my assets back to the Chancel."

<Hollyhock God> Also the standard breath rules apply.

<Dreams> (Breath of MP when your bonds or afflictions give you trouble, or… I think if you struggle against adversity? Something like that?)

<Henry> "So we're back to solving people's problems for them?"

<Dreams> "If you want to take responsibility for this, Miranda, just take it."

<David> "Ideally, no. We're having an, ah, difference of methodologies."

<Henry> "Oh, do tell."

<Miranda> "I'm trying to, Dreams. But this would be a much simpler matter with David's cooperation."

<Dreams> "David's cooperation is easy to get. Offer him something in exchange for it."

<David> "I was trying to help." ;_;

<Miranda> "Yes, and it's an effective solution— so long as the petitioners aren't the ones providing the price."

<Dreams> "As for me, I'm easily distractable and tend to forget what I'm doing. I don't have a line on Ambition here, though, sorry."

  • Miranda sighs.

<Dreams> "So pay the price yourself! Bribe the stewards with more than anyone else can afford to pay to manage the crowd fairly and impartially."

<Dreams> "Some, like, miraculous shields or something, maybe?"

<David> "Miranda, let's make a deal. Say I leave in the bit where they take a cost, but burn out any tendency they might have to /not/ reward the deserving. Doesn't that sound like an equitable and just system?"

<Miranda> "Alright. Enough of this. I'm instituting a set of guidelines for the stewards' appropriate behavior with regards to petitioners and a structure to ensure that they abide by them. This will include not accepting payment for service from the Chancelfolk, as well as preventing inappropriate or exploitative use of chancel services; at some point, we'll have to deal with the budgetary implications of paying for all of this, but we can do it."

  • Dreams shrugs.
  • Miranda straightens up, having made up her mind. Anyone challenging this?

<Henry> "That sounds acceptable to me."

  • David is definitely not challenging this. Miranda's scary!

<Henry> (Heh.)

<Miranda> (Rand, can I create a department of Internal Affairs as a Shield against wrongdoing?)

<Hollyhock God> I suppose you can.

<Miranda> (OK, Greater Creation of Shields)

  • Miranda holds out her arms, bringing her hands together with slow deliberation, as the Stewards develop regulatory and enforcement mechanisms to prevent them from causing harm through abuse of David's gift.

<Dreams> "You should name it 'Aegis'."

<Miranda> (S.H.I.E.L.D.)

<Miranda> "I can't call everything Aegis.

  • Miranda cricks her neck.

<Hollyhock God> You make it sound like enforcement mechanisms are going to pop out of them like Alchemical Charms.

<Hollyhock God> Ethical restraining bolts on their necks!

<Miranda> (Well, no, not like that….)

<Dreams> (Strange things do happen around me, fully capable of Lesser Creations at HG whim!)

<Dreams> (But perhaps moderation in that would be wiser for now.)

<Miranda> (Do I get MP from my Bond?)

<Hollyhock God> I suppose you may have a small miracle point.

<Dreams> (Can't you do Greater Creations for free in the Chancel anyway?)

<Hollyhock God> So, you've magicked your management, but who's going to manage the magic?

<Miranda> (Yes. But If I can do it in the service of being stupidly responsible, I can make a profit on the deal, Dreams!)

<Dreams> "You know, what those two really need is an outsider candidate to team up against."

<Hollyhock God> We've still got two dueling administrators who want to wear the biggest pointy hat.

<Miranda> (Oh! OK, that.)

<Dreams> Well, we've also got a day's worth of problems for them to deliberate on. We could leave them to it and then come back and see how each of them did? Or are they moving through the line quickly?

<Miranda> "Henry?

<Hollyhock God> I think I gave their responses to some problems some distance back…

<Dreams> Mmm.

<Miranda> "These two both aspire to be Archmagister of the university."

<Henry> "I have an idea in that regard. And, on a related note, an introduction to make." He pricks his finger, and lets a drop of blood fall on the ground. "Anranko, come!"

<Miranda> "It's fallen on us to determine who gets the position."

<Dreams> "I admire Walter's honesty, but worry about his people skills."

<Henry> (It's Treasure 7 to summon an Anchor, right?)

<Miranda> "As this seems to count as an ambition, I imagined you might have something interesting to say on the point."

<Henry> (Like, just teleport them to you?)

<Hollyhock God> It's Treasure 4 if it's just a short distance.

<Hollyhock God> Such as within the Chancel.

<Henry> (Gotcha. I'm saying Anranko was staying in his Earth-based home, and just arrived with him when he transferred his stuff.)

<Henry> (So she'd be within the Chancel.)

<Henry> (Do you want us to play Anchors or you?)

<Hollyhock God> It's your Anchor, not mine.

<Hollyhock God> I'm already busy being a dogman and two wizards and the third steward and also providing narration.

<Henry> (Cool, just checking.)

  • HollyhockGod directs the ambient music to play "Tired of Love" from Blazing Saddles.

<Hollyhock God> "Let's face it- everything below the subtext is KAPUT!"

<Miranda> (Incidentally, aren't they brother and sister?)

<Hollyhock God> Fraternal twins!

<Henry> (The wizards?)

<Hollyhock God> (Yes, those two.)

<Henry> As the drop of blood falls, a puff of smoke rises from the ground, and a small, winged female humanoid appears. "Yes, boss!"

<Miranda> (Just saying "My brother against the world" is a weird bond for the one that only has a sister.)

<Dreams> (It's a common enough turn of phrase that the meaning is clear.)

<Henry> (For reference, Agito from Nanoha is close to her appearance)

<Dreams> (Alternatively, there could be things we don't know about Winter!)

<Hollyhock God> (Alternatively, I didn't want to type it out twice.)

<Miranda> (Or a third sibling, the rightful Archmagister!)

<Henry> "Anranko, this is my Familiar. Miranda of Shields, Dreams, and David of Commerce. Brothers and Sisters, this is Anranko, a demon that I… acquired, on a trip to Hell some time ago."

<David> "Isn't she adorable?"

  • Dreams nods slightly, and gets back to drafting what appear to be sketches of a nonexistent suburb of the chancel.
  • Miranda shoots the shifty shoulder-demon a look.

<Henry> "I have been endeavoring to teach her responsibility."

<Henry> "Among other things."

<Henry> "An experiment, if you will."

<Henry> She salutes smartly. "So what's the job? Need some torturing done? Spreading some havoc among these nice folks, maybe?"

<Henry> She grins at the Chancelfolk with fanged teeth

<Henry> "Err… no. These people are here for help. You, along with those two" he points to the wizards, "will help to judge their requests and fulfill them, as best you can."

<Miranda> "Henry, I was hoping you might judge which of these two doctors, if either, is the more worthy to see their ambition realized?"

<Miranda> "No.

<Miranda> "We just…

<Miranda> "We just resolved that!"

<Henry> (Eh?)

  • Dreams stifles a chuckle.

<Henry> (Misunderstood then, sorry)

<Miranda> (It's OK, I imagine we have some communication problems IC.)

<Henry> (I thought the two were going to do that with the help of the agency you described?)

<Henry> (Probably.)

<Henry> (Sorry, tired + playing catch-up.)

<Miranda> "David granted the Stewards the ability to give people what they want in return for money; I created mechanisms to prevent them from abusing this power— for example taking money from chancelfolk."

<Miranda> "So most of the petitioners should— hopefully— be dealt with now."

<Henry> (Ah, right, superhuman efficiency.)

<Miranda> "However, the Doctors Montana require someone be appointed to the position of Archmagister."

<Henry> *looks at diminished crowd* "Ah, I seem to still be suffering from jet-lag, perhaps."

<Henry> "In any case, the introduction was still required."

<Dreams> "Hmmm. I know how I would rule on the matter, but Miranda gets all touchy lately when I take charge without considering the consequences."

<Henry> (I'll do a Lesser Divination to determine whose ambitions are more worthy. And for fun, take a look at their sins)

<Dreams> (Winter secretly wants to be a painter! Walter's criminally honest.)

<Hollyhock God> What does it mean for an ambition to be worthy?

<Hollyhock God> Also, what is a sin?

<Miranda> (It means it shows up on his Detect Sins Gift, naturally.)

  • Miranda goes for the tautology.

<Hollyhock God> Once again your vast powers are completely crippled by a tiny little metaphysical question!

<Hollyhock God> Ahahahahaha!

<Henry> (Alright, let's say "what do they hope to achieve with their position as Archmagister?" and I'll judge worthiness.)

<Henry> (Do souls still gravitate towards Hell in 3e?)

<Henry> (Because a working definition might be "deeds that drag souls closer to Hell")

<Miranda> (<MartyMcFly> "Heavy!" </MartyMcFly>)

<Hollyhock God> They both desire to boss other wizards around and to wear a big hat.

<Hollyhock God> I don't think souls ever gravitated towards Hell.

  • HollyhockGod continues to be gleefully obstructive.

<Dreams> (Lesser Divination of Things Your Mother Would Disapprove Of!)

<Henry> (Hmm, and Hell this time around is more about personal suffering and emptiness than "bad" acts.)

<Dreams> (If I were defining sin, it'd probably be somewhere between "Things you feel guilty about" and "things which cause others to suffer")

<Henry> (Let's say "things you feel guilty about".)

<Dreams> (Maybe a few other categories too. But yeah, it's a nontrivial problem, one of those "I can't define it but I know it when I see it".)

<Henry> (it's not a metaphysical absolute, but a subjective measurement; Entropy might not feel any shame for his deeds for example. But it's still useful and fitting.)

<Hollyhock God> Winter feels guilty about eating more chocolates than she should. Walter doesn't feel guilty about anything, ever.

<Dreams> (I mean, you should obviously be able to have a sinner who doesn't feel guilty about what they've done, but it's a decent standard that says a lot about a person.)

<Henry> (Mhm.)

<Miranda> (Tsk. Chocolates.)

<Hollyhock God> It's certainly a standard that we don't have to spend all night arguing about.

<Henry> (I don't trust someone who doesn't feel guilty about something)

<David> (They…both sound a little bit awful.)

<Henry> (Not horrible though.)

<Hollyhock God> This is perfectly normal wizard behavior.

<Hollyhock God> Also, who is King Bribery to talk?

<Henry> (Heheheh.)

<Miranda> "Perhaps you might see fit to peer-review the relevant literature and make the decision on the basis of scholarship?"

  • Hollyhock God uses Hollyhock powers to declare himself morally immaculate.

<Dreams> "Okay, we've seen your judgment skills. Now let's test your ability to serve the cause of beauty. Do we have any painting kits handy?"

<Hollyhock God> "We won't need them," says Winter. She rolls up her sleeves.

<Hollyhock God> It turns out that wizards can do magic!

<Miranda> Miranda's signature expression isn't really a face-palm, it's more closing her eyes and grimacing as she pinches the bridge of her nose and rests her forehead in her hand. She does so now.

<David> We are all surprised by this shocking twist.

<Hollyhock God> The two siblings begin constructing complicated illusions.

  • Henry observes with interest*

<Hollyhock God> Winter paints a view of the inside of La Fenice straight onto the air, complete with the glare of the house lights and the last production of Pagiliacci onstage.

<Hollyhock God> Walter constructs a handsome and shockingly real-looking horse, wearing a silver bridle marked with the symbols of Praxael. It would be lovely to ride if it were genuine, I'm sure.

<Hollyhock God> Then they both have to sit down.

  • Miranda coughs.

<Miranda> "As I was saying… Henry, perhaps you might see fit to review their scholarship? I'm not even entirely certain that either Doctor Montana is necessarilly the most qualified candidtate…"

<Hollyhock God> I sense that people are losing interest in this plot.

<Henry> (I can do an Aspect 7 review of their scholarship, though I'm not sure what form that would take)

<David> "Miranda, reviewing academic writing is a horrible fate to impose upon someone."

<Miranda> (Quick, Robin- to the Library!)

<David> "What if we conspired to pull some hidden test of their character? See if we can distinguish which is less awful than the other?"

<Henry> (Honestly, Henry's vote is simple. Go with Winter. Don't trust someone who never feels guilty.)

<David> (But Winter only feels guilty about chocolate!)

<Henry> (At least that's something!)

<Dreams> "Or we could simply elect them both and allow a vote by all tenured staff in the event they disagree on a subject."

<Miranda> (Does moral character matter here?)

<David> (Do you want remorseless wizards?)

<Dreams> (I suppose the question is, does it matter to you?)

<Miranda> "My preference would be not to deviate from the established practice as much as possible for the time-being."

<Hollyhock God> Or whether lack of guilt reflects on your character.

<Dreams> "Well, then I suppose the question becomes, what standards did Praxael use to decide when electing an Archmagister?"

<Hollyhock God> Mysterious ones!

<Henry> (I could burn 5 TMPs for a Communion and have my cellphone cough up the number of the person with the most appropriate Ambition and the best means to achieve it, but it's probably overkill.)

<David> (Don't forget the Chancel discount!)

<Hollyhock God> And a Wound!

<Miranda> "I'd imagine that qualification for the position would be the primary determinant, over moral purity…"

<Dreams> (I think that's including the Chancel discount.)

<Henry> (Yeah, it would be a Word of Command)

<Miranda> (OK, I motion that someone do something?)

<Hollyhock God> So far they seem equally qualified in every way.

<Hollyhock God> Nobody really seems to care, so why don't we just make them both do half the work and call it a night?

<Dreams> "Okay. Fine. What are the actual duties of an Archmagister?"

<Hollyhock God> Rulership over all magic-users! And speech-making.

<Hollyhock God> In practice, very little, since you rarely ask the spell-makers to do anything.

<David> (I say Ambition decides, since this is sorta his wheelhouse.)

<Dreams> "Okay. You'll each rule on an alternating weekly basis, starting with, let's say Walter, until one of you demonstrates clear superiority over the other."

<Dreams> "Any objections?"

<Hollyhock God> The wizards are unable to object because you are a god.

<Henry> "That is acceptable to me."

<Henry> (Heh.)


  • Miranda winces, cause, you know…. but honestly, let's just move on!

<Hollyhock God> That plot took forever, considering that you figured out how to work the Scepter in under a minute.

  • HollyhockGod expected that to take longer.

<Henry> (Yeah, this is a recipe for bloodshed.)

<Hollyhock God> Dead men's pointy shoes!

<David> (The universe is self-correcting!)

<Henry> (Work the scepter?)

<Miranda> (Don't worry about it, it'll be in the log!)

<Dreams> "Now. Each of us gets one seventh of Praxael's physical possessions. Are the Accords worth less than a seventh of that? I don't know how many things he kept around."

<David> (Lesser Divination of Commerce!)

<Miranda> "We should… probably talk about how we're going to run things going forward. Decision-making even on trivial issues seems a major stumbling block."

<Hollyhock God> I don't know. How much are the Accords worth?

<Hollyhock God> They aren't for sale, so can Commerce even tell?

<Henry> "Perhaps we should divide responsibilities by area, rather than voting."

<David> Perhaps their…hypothetical sale value?

<Miranda> "First, I motion we move this discussion to a more private area?"

<Dreams> "Yes, yes, let's pretend we did that a while ago. Or we could actually do it, I suppose."

<Hollyhock God> This happens! Either retroactively or immediately.

<Hollyhock God> Or maybe you're just suddenly somewhere else. That tends to happen around Dreams.

<Miranda> "Right.

  • Miranda takes a seat at the table.

<Miranda> "So."

<Miranda> "We seem to find ourselves in a difficult situation. We need to figure out how to arrange our affairs for… the duration of the emergency."

<Hollyhock God> I.e., forever.

<Dreams> "I.e, forever?"

  • Miranda grits her teeth. For the duration of the emergency.

<Dreams> "Sorry, that was rude. I don't know what came over me."

<Miranda> "For the duration of the emergency."

  • Dreams looks sincerely apologetic.

<Miranda> (That was funnier without quotes.)

<Dreams> (Fair enough.)

<Henry> "We could appoint Chancelfolk to deal with the majority of mundane affairs."

<Miranda> "Done."

<Dreams> "What affairs actually need arranging? I mean, unless we want to risk Noble society falling apart, the safest course of action seems to be to not meddle with the Accords at all."

<David> "With things that demand actual Noble attention, why not divvy it up by Estate? Let whoever has the strongest conceptual claim on the issue take up the role of final decision-maker. We'd certainl argue less."

<Dreams> "But yes, the Chancel does seem to require awkward amounts of hands-on maintenance. Did we ever figure out what the Henge of Mercy was?"

  • Miranda nods.

<Henry> To David, "That would shift arguments to what Estate has the strongest claim, but it would simplify some things."

<Hollyhock God> You think it might be to help bread rise.

<Miranda> "David has a point. We do need some mechanism for determining responsibilities."

<Dreams> "I'm certainly not opposed to letting each of us do our own thing without getting in each other's way. It's what I've been trying to do for the last two and a half decades."

<Henry> "We could also divide responsibility by physical location; for example divvying up the city into districts."

<Miranda> "You've been absent for the last two and a half decades.

<David> "We'd argue, of course, because we're us."

<David> "But it might cut down on the amount, at least."

  • But Miranda isn't bitter!

<Dreams> "There's also 'whoever finds out about the problem is primarily responsible for it'."

<Miranda> "Whatever it is, we do need some sort of structure for resolving our disagreements.

<Hollyhock God> All of these solutions are horrifying. I approve!

<Hollyhock God> But it is nearly nine, so perhaps we should discuss them on a later date.

<Hollyhock God> Possibly after you've decided how, or whether, to prevent your youngest sibling from being incinerated by an irate bluh bluh.

<Henry> (Aye, I need sleep, sorry.)

<Henry> (Eh?)

<Miranda> "Which… reminds me, David, I want to buy rights of first refusal with a thirty day option to close on all attempts to purchase your loyalty for issues that affect the future of the Chancel."

<Henry> (very good idea)

<David> "What are you offering?"

<Hollyhock God> The opportunity to keep your skin!

  • Miranda searches her pockets.

<Miranda> "Eh. Five dollars and eighty-seven cents. Given the vulnerability all of our estates face, I think we can agree that it's a worthwhile precaution in your best interest to accept."

<David> "That's…kinda lame." David grudgingly takes her money.

<Hollyhock God> It's all her worldly goods!

  • Miranda fishes through her pockets. You have a better suggestion?

<Hollyhock God> At least until someone can figure out whether Praxael had any money, and if so, where it is.

<Miranda> "You have a better suggestion?"

<Hollyhock God> The basement is sort of cluttered.

<David> "It's fine. I guess I'll not suddenly but inevitably betray you."

<Miranda> "No. Just slowly and with forwarning."

<Dreams> "Unless someone pays you six dollars first?"

<Miranda> "No, I have rights of first refusal now; I have 30 days to match their offer."

<David> "Six dollars, and the equivalent value of losing the trust of a Familia member. I think we're pretty good."

<David> "I'm only unfailingly trustworthy unless I'm bought out." :<

  • Miranda grins teasingly.

<Miranda> "Sucker. I woulda gone to ten."

  • Miranda hands the payment over.

<Miranda> (OK, and we'd decided we wanted to be done-ish?)

  • Henry nods.

<Miranda> (Do we get XP?)

<Dreams> (I'm fine with continuing for a while more, but it's as good a point to stop as any.)

<Henry> (I need to run. or rather collapse.)

<Henry> (G'night, folks.)

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License