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A log of thoughts regarding events that took place mostly during game sessions

The Enchancelment (1)

Today has certainly been the most interesting day of my life so far, and I can only suspect that it's going to get more so as things go on. (Astute readers may recall that "May you live in interesting times," is a curse, though neither an ancient one nor a Chinese one, despite popular belief.) In truth, interesting completely fails to capture the essence of recent events--I don't think most people can even conceive of the words necessary to describe what has happened to me. On the other hand, it would appear that my new position's entire purpose is to see to it that such events can be and are conveyed, so I shall have to essay an attempt.

The first sign that things were not as they have always been was when the woman next to me in the airport had some sort of panic attack while napping, and then kept going on about the nightmare she'd been having, claiming the dry bit of reed she pulled from her pocket was somehow proof of greater weirdness. In retrospect, it seems quite plausible, although there is still the possibility that she is, in fact, a lunatic, but at the time the most reasonable reaction was to smile and nod.

Further awkwardness was offset by our flight being called at that point, but it was not for purposes of take-off, merely to inform us that the airport was shut down due to computer malfunctions and that we would be delayed several days. The trip to the free hotel accommodations again found me next to the woman, whose name I learned to be Kasey. Over the course of the ride, the sky turned a strange greenish color and displayed a sort of amorphous rippling phenomenon which I suspect to have been viewed by few people over the course of, survived by fewer, and remembered by fewer still.

The weather ceased to be of interest with the arrival of a green lion the size of a shuttle bus, who promptly proceeded to swat our shuttle bus off an embankment. My capacity for parsing reality exploded at this point, and my instincts took over for the next several minutes. An interminable instant later, the bus lay on its side, with most of the passengers harmed in various ways, save for my newfound companion and myself. The impossible lion then bounded down after us, and impossibly tore off the side of the bus as if it had a handy-dandy pull-tab built in for that express purpose.

Finally, something sensical happened when the lion bit the woman in a suitably predatory fashion, but then he flung off her presumed corpse and turned his attention to me. I recall it speaking at some point, and thus it felt reasonable to ask just what he was. His reply of, "An Angel," was sufficiently impossible to explain all the impossible events that had previously happened, and I began to see things making sense in a whole new way.

This epiphany was unfortunately cut short by being eaten, on at least chewed on for a while, then left full of foot-long glass teeth which sunk into my flesh tracelessly. It hurt more than I had formerly imagined being capable of imagining something hurting, but was over very shortly, leaving me feeling more alive and aware of everything that I've ever been. Unfortunately, it appears that my name was consumed at the time, rather than my flesh, but I have managed to do well without it for years, producing new ones as needed.

The lion ordered me to tend to the woman, so I did, as one generally should not refuse orders from bus-sized predators of the wrong color who have previously demonstrated an ability to violate the laws of physics and human mortality. Despite lying a pool of blood that could only have been produced by the death of several video-game characters, she was fine, albeit still...adjusting to her new state, mostly by looked dazed and stupefied.

After attempting to incite me to fight her, in some sort of strange attempt at a display of dominance, she took off, and I accepted her challenge to race. The city we ran through had literally been turned inside-out, and there were all manner of quite inhuman beings busily rebuilding into something...other. Eventually, we reached a destroyed yet elegant banquet hall where we feasted with four others in similar positions, and the lion explained to us his name, his nature, and his purpose in choosing us as his agents, then took off for parts unknown. A brief interview later, and we found ourselves with an alligator-fighting not-so-mortal agent of our own plus a masquerade ball to look forward to. We shall see where the future takes us.

Exploring the Chancel (Offline)

After having had some time to explore our Chancel, it truly is a marvelous place. I have discovered no less than five separate libraries, each covering a different range of topics, and strongly suspect there may be more. In fact, given the apparently endless nature of some of the hallways in the mansion, I suspect there may be an infinity of libraries. Perhaps those filled with future knowledge that has not yet passed into the history of humanity lie infinitely far away, and approach at a speed such that they arrive at a reachable point just as their information moves from the fluid present to the gelatinous past. Or, perhaps they are simply behind locked doors, but that lacks the wondrous feel the first possibility has.

Aside from the libraries, I am fascinated by the tube-transport system. It's like a physical internet, that lets you move both information and ham sandwiches at the speed of sound. Apparently, it's all routed through the huge sentient machine at the center of this place, whose nature would make Babbage burst with joy were he to encounter it.

Despite such amazing storehouses and machines, the most rewarding thing I've done over the past few days is haul my so-called throne outside to the main courtyard of the garden and tell stories to entertain and edify the various flighty child spirits that act as if they've always lived here. I guess, when you take into account only their existence, they always have...

The Debate over the Humans, Wallace's Wife, and Norway (2)

Not all is glorious and wonderful in our chancel, despite what first appearances may indicate. Earlier today, the ordinary humans that survived the formation of the Chancel approached us and presented a list of demands. That the first of these demands the resurrection of those who failed to survive the process was a definite reminder that the very scale of the possible has becoming so much broader of late. Unfortunately, such a feat is beyond even our new-found powers at this point, and I deeply suspect that it will remain so. The issue is further complicated by the fact that, as best as I can gather, the essential natures of the dead people have been combined and redistributed into those of the new elemental inhabitants of the Chancel, so to bring them back to life would require ending that of another. This sort of ethical dilemma seems to be cropping up more and more now that we've been elevated. With great power comes great responsibility and all that, or at least it should. I like to think that we're still working our way up to that point.

In any case, after some initial discussion made it clear that we are not exactly omnipotent and that there was no possibility of things going back to the way they were, we settled in for some slightly more normal negotiations. A substantial fraction of the survivors wanted to go back to Earth despite our making it exceedingly clear that they no longer exist there and that the world has no recollection of them. I suspect they are either in denial or think we are lying. Given that returning to the Earth will require altering their memories and inserting them into a fictitious life (which will now become the truth, rendering their old life the fiction), I fail to see why anyone would want to return. To do so is, quite literally, to die. They will not return to Earth--rather, a derivative work based upon their old self will be created on Earth, but they will cease to exist. Perhaps this oblivion of the self appeals to the Buddhists among them, but I cannot understand why. Is our new world so terrible that nonexistence itself is a better choice? While I can conceive of such situations, they are far more extreme than anything I can see in the Chancel...

In the end, we chose to allow them to make their choice, but only after it was well-informed. We shall keep them in the Chancel for at least a month to allow them time to adjust and remake their lives as best as possible, and if after that some still feel that effective death is better than life here, we shall see what can be done to accommodate them in Creation. Hopefully, the rousing speech I gave them shall help to sway as many as possible to our point of view (which is the rational one).

That problem out of the way, we ran into one of our own. It appears that the deep and abiding love our compatriot Wallace harbors for his wife is a violation of Lord Entropy's law, and could get him into substantial trouble were it to be disclosed. His mind cannot be easily read, and hers cannot be either if he anchors her, but oh-so-charming alligator-wrestling Camorran lawyer knows about it. In a fit of generosity, clearly, he has pointed out that if we were to pay him to keep the information secret, he would be doing his job by keeping quiet, and thus any evidence gained from him would be inadmissible in Lord Entropy's court. And, furthermore, an appropriate payment for a deep of this magnitude would be nothing less than temporal rulership over a large area. Since Los Angeles, his first choice, wasn't quite feasible, we eventually offered him Norway and he accepted. I am still uncertain how such a moronic turn of events came about.

No matter, we now find ourselves needed to install a new king of Norway, apparently a routine sort of event for ones such as ourselves. However, as has been said, no one who desires power should on any account be allowed to have it. Hector's plans seem to involve turning the country into a dictatorship and enslaving the population to work in nuclear reactors churning out engines of conquest so he may rule the world. I, at least, object to this, as Norway seems a perfectly nice country with some great literature. Killing Hector to silence him is right out, as in this new spirit world of ours dead men do tell tales, and are often rather bitter about having been killed. Our current course of action seems to be to give Hector what he wants, then edit his personality so that he will actually be a good and just king rather than a power-mad megalomaniac. I suspect this will set a precedent, and we shall mold his mind like silly putty when convenient, and over time he will little resemble his original self. As is often the case in fairy tales, one should be careful what one wishes for, for one just may get it...a warning we should probably keep in mind as well...

We're off to see the Dane... (3)

Our prior enthusiasm for sculpting Hector's mind to fit our notions of propriety seems to have been somewhat tempered, though it is certainly not gone. Potential wants to wait, though I don't understand why. If we intend to do it, we should. If we do not, we should not. To delay that which you feel is necessary smacks of a lack of will, which is one thing we cannot afford in our new positions. While we should proceed with judgment and caution, to fall into the paralysis of analysis is a trap we must avoid. We will never be certain that our choices are perfect, so once we think that they are adequate, we should be decisive. There shall be trouble enough without second-guessing and useless remorse.

Despite this delay in implementing our plans, we headed to Norway, minus Twilight and Logic, to effect the requisite change in birth order. In order to get close to our targets, we planned to attend the same opera as the royal family. Upon our arrival, we found the way barred by an ancient Danish warrior who deemed us hellspawn and a threat to Greater Denmark. Our attempts to persuade him of our lack of harmful intent failed, as did attempts to just bypass him. In the end, we split up, and while I distracted him with philosophical banter, History worked her magic. He sensed that we had accomplished our goal and cursed us as dishonorable enemies, despite our having behaved civilly throughout the whole encounter. I suspect that affairs with him will soon come to a head, and I have little doubt as to how things shall go between the six of us and one of him. Violence would be unfortunate however. I do have half a mind to just avoid him for a while, wrap up our work, and leave Hector to deal with him. He would be a useful moderating force on Hector's ambition, and the two certainly deserve each other...

The Party (4)

Dinner was most enjoyable. I met a charming and rakish fellow, the Power of Assassination. Aside from being a colorful person whose expertise features in many an exciting story, he was quite affable and intelligent in his discussions of how our fields correlate and synergize. He has asked me to look into the source of a mysterious effect that causes his former lovers to disappear when they are no longer convenient. (Though he is quick to point out that the term lovers is really an abuse of the language, as he really just engages in lust and brief but shallow passion, which is fine by the rules of Lord Entropy, who seems not to mind things that crumble into dust.) He was also certain to point out that I should not risk the continuance of this effect in order to discover its cause.

My other dinner companion was the substantially less warm Power of Calligraphy. He expressed displeasure over our meddling in Norway, and I am actually prone to agree with him. If we do not make some serious modifications to Hector soon to preserve the way of life of the innocent citizens of that country, I will certainly do nothing to help Hector when The Dane comes for him, and may even have to provide a little assistance to our cavalier adversary. I tried to engage Calligraphy in a discussion of morality and inquired as to how he resolves the conflicting needs of his dual moral codes, but he was rather intransigent on the matter, and all matters, really. I think he needs to get out more. Given that he came to the party on a palanquin pulled by animated paper dolls, I suspect he doesn't have much human contact in his life. His art is a solitary and introspective one, whereas mine is meaningless without the audience. They are an integral part of the story, and this codependence enriches both the teller and the listener.

Continued Partying (5)

The performances of the elemental folk of the chancel were quite entertaining. That of the human inhabitants was something else. They staged a protest demanding that which we have already explained it possible. It was shut down summarily, and we shall have to find an appropriate means of dealing with these malcontents. On the whole, I believe we suffered some political damage, due to our "inability to control our humans," though some powers, such as Citizen Rat, seemed at least amused by the level of freedom our human chancelfolk exercised.

After dinner, we broke for some mingling and additional repartee, and I made the acquaintance of Crime, another brash and daring yet quite charming character. He expressed substantial interest in acquiring the services of some of the local water children, due to their potential for physical infiltration, and I figured that some of the kids would love going on a sort of foreign-exchange program with him, so I sent about three of the excited little fellows for a tenure with him. When they return, their accumulated memories shall certainly entertain the rest of our Chancel's water. Perhaps we can make such loans a regular affair. In any case, I feel that working on building up friendships and alliances is certainly a wise goal at this stage of our initiation into the games of power.

Hollywood, Skullduggery, and Exploding Zeppelins (6)

I received a call from Otmar today, terrified about what they've done with the script he stole from me way back. They, in this case, being some Hollywood production company. I watched the film they claim to have based on my script, through Otmar's eyes (much to his displeasure, given that he'd already seen it and was aware of its dismal character). I must say that the end result has no redeeming characteristics whatsoever. It borrows the base frame of my tale, then strips it of all that made it what it was, leaving behind a pathetic trite shell with no message and little of interest. It doesn't even have mass appeal, so, unlike most bastardizations of literature, it won't make money either. I have a hard time believing one could make a film so terrible without setting out to do so and taxing one's sense of crap to the utmost. I have set in motion plans to buy out the rights to it and burn every last copy. However, given its almost supernatural badness, I suspect there may be more at work here. I am also preparing backup plans involving slightly less legal means of destroying it.

And Wallace still isn't back. He better have a good excuse for missing our party, like being trapped inside an exploding zeppelin in the middle of a barren desert while battling an Excrucian shard, but it'll probably be something lame like having gotten lost in one of the hedge mazes on the way in...

A Bad Deal and a Dead End (7)

Attempting to contact the lawyers that currently hold the rights to this abomination of a film was less than productive. While they appear willing to sell for a sufficient sum of money, I do not feel like I should be rewarding them for their abuse of my tale. To do so would appear to be almost as damaging to the promotion of good storytelling as letting the film be released.

After putting the phone down, however, I realized that I was going about this entirely the wrong way. I am a god now, yet I still think like a mortal. Instead of dealing with these intermediaries, I need to interact with the problem directly.

In Which the Mystery is Unmasked, Leaving a Deeper Problem (8)

I armed myself with a knife of Cooking, with which I could cut out the cancer that was eating at the heart of this tale or slay it and put it out of its misery if need be. I took with me the ashes of fire-children, whose flames can purify or destroy. I took a flask of alchohol, to sterilize or spawn flames. I bound my head with a band bearing the names of my parents in the scripts of their homelands, and featuring only a hole in the middle, my name. I followed the scent of the tale to its source, for I know all about my children when I wish to.

The trail led to the offices of Dewey, Cheathum, and Howe, a suspiciously-comical sounding law firm backing the production of the sordid misadaptation of my tale to the silver screen. I was led into a conference room where some underling came to placate me. I indentified myself to him as being from the front firm I had previously negotiated with them as, named after a trivial character from my work. This certainly got his attention, and resulted in one of the firm's partners coming to discuss matters with me. My further elaboration that the front in fact worked for me, and not vice versa, was met with a sorrowful stating how unfortunate this was, followed by the production of a comically huge and musclebound Nordic fellow who attacked me. A brief scuffle resulted in him being propelled out the window of the tall building we were in, and a display of my Noble Spirit cowed any further attempts at violence.

Calm discussion followed, where I revealed myself to be the Power of Stories, and they revealed themselves to be fictional characters rebelling against the casual discardment of characters who have served their purpose in tales and are no longer needed. Given that they are in fact sentient beings, they do have a point, but I am reluctant to disallow such things, as they are necessary for the telling of a good stories, which are a vital part of culture (both for real and fictional beings). The solution to this matter will require substantial pondering...

Intermezzo (Break)

I have spent the last few weeks and a substantial amount of effort in writing a fictional heaven. I have set it up as the ultimate destination for all fictional characters, to enjoy eternal rewards after their roles in their various works are done. Evil characters will first be purged of their wickedness in the large, featureless building located just outside, a sort of purgatory in which all sins are extirpated with time and teaching. This will take care of any unfairness to fictional characters. Of course, they now seem to be better off than real people, so perhaps we shall have to see if something can't be done about real people. If real Heaven won't let them in, then perhaps we can merely redirect the worthy to our substitute...

In addition, I have seen to it that collective story-telling is a popular and accepted activity worldwide, thanks to the pioneering efforts of H. G. Wells and his invention of role-playing games in this timeline. Also, I have created a small five-sided square off in an out-of-the-way part of the Chancel, where it will not drive Logic mad...

Trapped Like Rats & Stacked Like Sandwiches (11)

The recent upgrades to our Chancel's defense system have made it better aware of all things that take place within it, and one of the things that has apparently been taking place is an infiltration by rats. They have been inhabiting the walls of the Viridian Labyrinth and spying upon us. Being rats, there is only likely theory about their origin, which was quickly proved correct after trapping them via the use of peanut butter. Despite our attempts to drag information out of them through both threats and bribes, we learned little, other than they were in fact agents of the Rat Collective, and they were soon ransomed by Citizen Rat in exchange for assistance with uncovering other agents in our Chancel.

I.O.U. 2.0 (12)

We headed out to the university to have a look at what sorts of archives they have. Aside from the research our common goal is currently driving us to, I intended to see what could be discovered about the curious situation surrounding my friend Assassination. Our arrival went completely unnoticed, but we presented ourselves to the information office none the less. After a few minutes, the poor attendant figured out that we were Nobles, and the girl seemed utterly terrified. I guess that some Powers are less, shall we say, easy to get along with, or perhaps simply less easy to survive around.

Once notified of our arrival, the local Nobles whisked us away to their palatial estate to wine and dine us. While it was quite pleasant, it was not particularly informative on any subjects other that our hosts themselves. Once we were able to scuttle off to attend to our interests, I unearthed several interesting things. It appears that Ange Seraphim is a fictional character who first appeared in an uncredited scene as a guilty-looking member of a police lineup in the film Le Samourai. I shall have to track down both the people who were involved in the creation of this work to see what they know, as well see what my fictional friends might know...

Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places (13)

To find out more about Ange Seraphim's history, and possibly his future, I would like to investigate the movie that he came from. However, his now-miraculous presence there prevents this. However, a remake was produced of late, so I was able to go there to investigate. His only appearance on screen is far too brief, but a quick miracle later I was able to step into the previously non-existent scene in which my object of interest is released from jail. This version of him is being played by Chow-Yun Fat, although admittedly in an uncredited role. Attempts to inquire about his past and his intentions have not been very fruitful, but I have yet to ask him about love...

Marsward Ho! (14)

Chow-Yun Fat knows nothing about love, at least when he's fictional. Apparently, some of us are heading to Mars to look up some tomes of interest in the great library there. Sounds more fun than hanging the around the Chancel--I'm in.

In which we spend more miracle points than everything up to this point (15)

We spent a fair amount of time debating just how to get to Mars. Our eventual consensus (lead by me, I might add) was that we needed to climb the stem of the world and that Mount Olympus in Greece was ideal. After all, the ancients thought gods lived there, it's tall, and has a namesake on Mars. Getting to Greece was quite mundane, and and from there we began to climb the mountain. At some point along the way, we left behind the distinction between the mundane and the mythic, and began to climb the heavy chains that form the stem of the Earth, anchoring it to the branches of the World Ash.

When we reached the top, we found ourselves an enormous branch, so huge we could not see the other side. Down its length ran a road. When we approached it, we found our way suddenly blocked by a monstrous centaur forty feet tall and made of solid gold. He roared and demanded his own weight in gold in exchange for our passing. One quick miracle later, I produced the legendary Philosopher's Stone from my pocket and handed it over to him, to appease his demands. This almost satisfied him, but then he asked that his greed know even less bounds, and Potential made him even hungrier for gold. We wisely fled down the road at this point, before he could extort any more or become more dangerous.

Further down the road, we encountered a section of seemingly dead and dry wood, which creaked perilously when we attempted to place our mythic weight upon it. Down that way lay Mars and the outer planets, and the branch seemed in danger of snapping right there all too soon, which would have been disastrous. While pondering how to deal with the problem, there suddenly appeared five maidens made of amber, all clear and fluid. They were born of the sap of the World Ash, but had become bored with simply flowing through its vast vascular system and taken more concrete form. They had but one voice between them, and had to trade it around to discuss matters with us. Being of the World Ash, they were more real than most things, and this lead to a problem. They wished to see the Universe, but to come into contact with the matter of any of the worlds would be set it in on fire, a metaphysical flame that even consume the essence of mundane fire. We successfully convinced them that attempting to explore worlds which they destroyed would not let them see much and win them few friends, aside from being wrong. Also, the Ash needed them to keep the branch alive, to save the rest of our solar system. Somewhat reluctantly, they returned to the branch, strengthening it instantly, in exchange for tales of far-off worlds. I left behind a formless voice to recite all the stories they wish, and will return someday to restock it and take down their story in more detail.

After that, we arrived without incident at the stem of Mars, and descended. Below, we found our way blocked by a vast black wall set with huge gates. Upon knocking, a vast army of the dead streamed in from all directions, taking up position around us. Their spokesman turned out to be Napoleon, but from an alternate universe now buried by the sands of time. The unremembered dead from the wars of countless possible time paths were all here, condemned to an eternity of boredom on Mars. Our party pooled our powers and worked several miracles, uncovering the stories of the dead, retelling and preserving them, and feasting them with dust magically made food, allowing their souls to move on. However, Heaven was not set to accept them, and sending them to Hell would be no mercy, so they were instead diverted to the Fictional Heaven I had crafted not so long ago. Aside from helping them, having a near-infinite ghost army on one's side is definitely not a bad political situation.

That task dealt with, we crossed through into Mars, and promptly began to suffocate on the thin air. Some Guising took care of that, providing us with pressure suits, and putting us within walking distance of the great library.

What do you mean we're version 2.0? (16)

Our entrance into the library was unexceptional, save for the brief saucer-ride to the door. Inside, we were dealt with as ordinary visitors, until at last we revealed our nature and expedited the process somewhat. After some conferencing back home, we proved our identities and were lead to meet the king of the library, who was, not unsurprisingly, an old librarian. He presented us with the tome we sought, having brought it up from the bowels of the library recently, in anticipation of our visit, foreseen via premonition. In exchange for access to the library, we paid him with continuously updating knowledge of history, disembodied AI librarians, and safe pathways through the more dangerous parts of the library.

Within the book, we learned that the situation of our Imperator eerily parallels that of Melek Taus, the only other Imperator to have attempted redeeming from Fallen Angel. He apparently developed two of the three principles of his moral code, and was slain on the eve of formulating the third and final one, by none other than the Imperators of our recent antagonists Calligraphy and Crime. Included was a picture of Melochtaus's former Familia Celestis,and one of them, Crepuscule, is identical to Kasey down to each stray hair. The other five were Reason, Prophecy, Paradox, Silence, and Anaxim, the lost Ur-food of the gods. Reason and Anaxim are clearly the precursors of Logic and Cooking, but the other three are less clear. We suspect Prophecy maps to History, both being knowledge of the events during a span of time, just from different ends, and Silence predates Potential, for both are of things that do not exist, but could. That leaves Paradox as my personal antecedent. Given the vexation I often cause poor Logic and the counterintuitive clash of my guiding principle, this is certainly reasonable. In any case, we must proceed with caution, so as to avoid the assault that doomed this enterprise the first time around...

Into the Labyrinth (17)

Having learned all we could from the tome, we proceeded to assemble the team needed for a plunge into the depths of the Library. Logic and Potential are returning to the Viridian Labyrinth to take care of matters there, while Twilight and History will accompany me on our fact-gathering expedition. Aside from our guide, we brought with us multiple squads of marines, to defend against unknown dangers lurking in the stacks. This proved to be generally unnecessary as we did not encounter anything patently dangerous. We did, on the other hand, discover several useful pieces of information regarding the past history of similar endeavors and our current situation.

Scouring the Stacks (18)

We continued to research the vast resource available to us on Mars. In the course of our inquests, it appears that Kasey and Squad 7 got separated from the group. They are probably alight; hopefully, we will meet up with them at the exit. In any case, we employed telepathic communication via our anchors to learn about the ongoing situation in our Chancel. This inspired in me a plan to appropriate the very Powers of our antagonist Dr. Mirabilis. I have researched several useful variants of the Rite of Rescue, for use on Powers whose Imperators are somewhat less dead than usual. Their usage seems to be frowned upon, but that is a bridge that we shall burn when we get to it.

After finishing our inquiries, we returned to the surface of the Library, but found no sign of Twilight. It has been decided that I shall wait for her while History returns to the Chancel to take part in the expedition to recover the grapes from outside Creation.

Somebody stop me—I'm on fire! (19)

After a day of waiting at the top of the Library, Kasey had still not shown up. I was both concerned for her and unwilling to head out on the World Ash alone. As the red Martian sun sank into the stony horizon, I felt a strange tingle. It all seemed more connected somehow. I suspect that formulation of an ethical principle for Prasinos has started to reinforce his new position in the universe (or at least begun to define it). I called for an acolyte and obtained from him a variety of occult materials. That night, under the stars that shone through the roof of the Library's observatory, I enacted the Rite of Holy Fire, sheathing my mortal form in the majesty that is due a Noble Power of a True Angel.

Thus defended, I turned and plunged back into the depths of the Library, seeking my companion Twilight. The first order of business was to locate her, which I did by conversing with the spirit of the place. In exchange for her whereabouts, I provided an account of fictional heaven. I feel this should be mutually beneficial, as the opportunity for great seekers of wisdom to peruse this tome should reinforce belief in my created paradise. Once I knew where Kasey was, it was a simple matter of turning a corner and finding myself there.

Along with her and the remainder of Squad 7 were the corpses of several monks, apparently suicides. This was the location of an order that lived according to an ancient and perfect law. Half had hung themselves and the other half were torturing themselves and each other. Some inquiry revealed that the cause of this madness was that a new monk, who had coincidentally arrived when we did, who had shown them a room full of infinite variations of the law, derived from the same basic principles, yet all contradictory. This appears to be an Excrucian attack upon the estate of Twilight herself, and we are unsure how to proceed. She could correct the flaw that this monk introduced, yet that would damage her own domain. To leave it alone seems criminal. For once, I am at a loss...

He followed us home, can we keep him? (20)

After much pondering and discussion, we have decided to leave the law(s) alone, and instead focus on the despondent monks. With a little motivational speech from myself and some encouragement from Twilight, we've successfully convinced them that it's actually better that they need to apply their own moral judgment as to which version of the law to follow, instead of blindly serving a unquestionable purpose. In fact, with a little miraculous infusion and a dark ritual or two, we bumped up our correction efforts into a Nettle Rite aimed at Coriander Hasp and his attack upon Creation. Given the rush of power I felt at the conclusion of the rite, I believe we have been very successful.

No sooner were the monks taken care of than a new problem presented itself. A book in the library began speaking to us, which is unusual even in this place. While we tried to ascertain exactly how this was possible, the pages extruded themselves into human form, and we determined that this is in fact a fresh shard of Anaxamander pushing its way into reality. Unlike the last one our familia encountered, this one was not immediately hostile. We have been attempting to convince it of the value of Creation and the wonders therein, and it seems mollified for the moment. Twilight thinks we should raise it to love Creation, and I am going along with the plan for now. I have little doubt that it will attempt to betray us at some point, but hopefully we will be able to stop it in time, and, until then, I think this could be a very valuable learning experience for us. Wallace will likely have a conniption fit when he finds out...

A trip, a tale, and a screw up (21)

Our work at the library done, we decided to set out for Earth again. At just that moment, Librus (as Twilight has dubbed our local Excrucian Shard) cocked its head as if listening to something far, far away. Apparently, the rest of our Familia was about to engage the main body of Anaxamander in combat beyond Creation. With a little sweet-talking on our behalf, we convinced him that violence may not be the best course of action. It sounds like everyone came to an equitable agreement. The others will be so glad we saved them from a potential ass-kicking.

That done, we did set out for Earth along the World Ash, where we encountered the Ladies of Amber. I regaled them with our adventures and installed the assorted stories of the lost warriors into the voice I had left with them, to better fill their time. They seem satisfied. Librus did try to convince them of the glory of oblivion and the sweetness of nirvana, but we intervened before he could do any real damage. He (or she--it's so hard to find a good pronoun for a hermaphrodite, perhaps I shall settle for zie)...zie shall need to be watched closely. Given that Song-lian appears to be getting herself deported from China, it appears I have two wayward individuals on my hands. I believe I shall be able to kill two birds with one stone, metaphorically speaking. Given that she appears to have been booted over to New York, we shall stash Librus there upon our return. Fortunately, since it contains Central Park, I shall be able to warp words and otherwise bamboozle the universe into accepting the fact that New York qualifies as an omphalos, and is thus a potential destination for getting off the World Ash.

Love, Death, and Conflicting Orders (22)

The first order of business on my return to Earth was find a place for Librus and Song-Lian to stay. While rents in New York are outrageous, paying for it is not the problem, thanks to our Camorran connections. (Admittedly, Hector now claims that we owe him Denmark as well, on account of additional favors rendered and as interest on the Norway "debt". I promised him we'd "drop him there," heh.) For obtaining the apartment, I turned to the local (fictional) law firm of Dewey, Cheathum, and Howe, only to discover that it has been commandeered by Professor Moriarty. He was still able to find me an apartment, so I went there and dropped off my two charges.

That done, I made my way back to the Chancel to learn the rather unexpected fact that Logic had allowed the citizens of the Viridian Labyrinth to pen a constitution, and had approved. It is the first I have ever seen that provides for a Moral Philosophy branch of the government to validate the laws passed by the others. Their first order of business appears to have been the passing of the so-called "We Want a Pony Act". This piece of legislation calls for us to act as a gods an intervene in the lives of the citizens, granting them immortality, happiness, purpose, and a pony. The pony we agreed to immediately. The rest did not seem right, and we had something of debate amongst ourselves as to whether we should give the people what they want even if it would destroy all meaning in their lives. We eventually came to the conclusion that we should grant them the wisdom to see why what they asked for is wrong. I didn't care that much--it's not like I really spend that much time here anyway, and no one grants me any respect despite all my hard work.

I worked off my frustration by going to France. There, I made arrangements to meet with Assassination at a sidewalk cafe. I presented him a dossier of Cecelia Clemens and presented the task to him. We wanted him to seduce her, not kill her. Seeing his wife in love with another man would certainly pain and torture Wallace. That his ex-lovers disappear would mean that Wallace would be terrified to win her back. A perfect implementation of Prasinos's orders. I would provide some additional diversions in the form of a fictional Excrucian-Camorran conspiracy out to get her.

At this point, we spoke to Prasinos (sans Wallace, who had fled to Earth on suspicion of us wanting to do something nasty to his wife--I gave him my unbreakable word that I was not trying to hurt her, but he still wouldn't come back). Upon informing Prasinos of our plan, he felt that it was excellent and fulfilled his earlier requirement to have Wallace "pained and tortured onto death". He also thought that love being the highest principle and all, it must be preserved, so he tasked myself, History, and Potential to enact the plan, and the others to stop it. This is, as they say, a delicate situation. I think we can both succeed in this task if we are careful. Twilight, on the other hand, displayed a rather confrontational attitude. I have arranged a small matter to occupy her obviously excessive time.

Time for a little backstabbing and betrayal (23)

Our Chancel was paid a rather unpleasant visit by Meon today. He was ranting about how the documentary on Wild Zero and her abject, divinely-inspired insanity was a violation of Entropy's law. I made the leaked film fictional, but he still demanded reparations, which took the form of stealing a substantial portion of our grapes and the accompanying vines. He is really a most vile and detestable man. I shall have to do something unpleasant and preferably lethal to him.

Fortunately with respect to that aim, our next guest was none other than Lysander Hawkins, whose change to Profit making Crime unprofitable had angered the Camorra to such an extent that Meon had challenged him to a duel. As the impartial hosts to said duel, we were in the perfect position to cheat rampantly. While unwilling to make a public statement to any such effect, we assured Lysander we were not going to harm him in the duel, including through my swearing of an oath to that effect, and noted that we liked him fairly well while we were on less that stellar terms with Meon and the rest of Entropy's thugs.

After the visits, we had to deal with some minor incidents. One consisted of the AIs Logic had helped craft and their newfound religious leanings. They were apparently getting somewhat out of hand, thanks to the goadings of Potential. In fact, they were getting rather Messiahnic, and convincing, to boot. I dropped by and handed off a copy of the perfect law we had found on Mars, to help establish the core of the beliefs (with some references to fictional heaven added in). That they proceeded to get vast swaths of it wrong and interject random things that have no place in such a revelation lends credence to the theory that Earthly religions are in fact divinely inspired, just really buggy.

The other little niggle was that Librus had caused something of a minor wrecks by walking around in traffic (or rather through it, cars and all, if am getting the account correctly). He had also unmade the bedroom of his apartment, which disturbed Song-Lian substantially. I told her to keep a stiff upper lip and make the gods proud.

Also, just in case Assassination should fail in his methodology, I dropped by fictional heaven to arrange a backup plan. Specifically, I have secured the seductive services of Don Juan de Marco, the world's greatest lover, to come between Cooking and his dearest wife. Given the number of interpretations of the character over the years, I had quite a selection available, and ultimately went with the Johnny Depp version. It seemed most appropriate.

A dog & pony show in which all hell breaks loose (24)

The Duel, Assassination & Sim-Cecilia

China, Land of Insanity (25)

Chemical cover story, Flower Rite vs. Lysander, Librus gets uppity

Ow! Ouch! Ow, ow, ow! (26)

In which I battle a full Excrucian and, with the help of several friends, barely avoid dying and consume Fate in the process:

My Anchor Ralph contacted me today, asking what the hell had happened to the internet and computers in general. Apparently, they're gone, and replaced with some special-purpose devices not capable of generalized functionality. I initially chalked this up to a side-effect of History's recent rearrangement, but thought I should look into the matter anyway. Shortly thereafter, Twilight received a distress call fromm the student she had befriended when we visited the university in the Wild Machine's Chancel. The place was under attack and people were getting shot. Given that Computation was one of the two Powers of that Chancel, our level of concern deepened greatly. Along with Logic, History, and Tanit, who was still visiting us, Twilight and I set out to see what was the matter. (Cooking and Potential were off in Norway at the time, and thus otherwise engaged.)

Unfortunately, our destination was unique in that it was located in time rather than space. We needed to go to revolutionary France, but to a version that no longer existed in out timeline and could not be reached by the Crooked Paths any more. Some quick thinking on my behalf lead us to the library of our Chancel, where I was able to employ a copy of A Tale of Two Cities as a suitable link to that time and place, allowing us egress to the war-torn streets of Paris. A short but bumpy ride on our carriage had us a the gates of our destination Chancel in in no time.

The first obstacle we encountered were the soldiers guarding the gate, who refused to let us pass. A little bit of trickery failed, and our attempt to bull our way through resulted in them opening fire on us. Fully expecting the Rite of Holy Fire to protect us from such trivialities, we were shocked to find the bullets penetrating to within an Autorictas-breadth of our own tender skins, fueled by dark Excrucian magics. It was at this point that Twilight unleashed her terrible glory, cowing them before us and clearing the way. (Unfortunately, most of the horses were already seriously injured at this point.)

Advancing, we found widespread fighting, burning, and general mayhem. There was little in the way of looting, with the soldiers instead taking part in measured destruction of priceless knowledge, clearly an attack on the foundations of the university itself. That the sky in the direction of Computation's ziggurat was a vast gaping rent, fluttering upon a void of stars was disconcerting, to say the least. Following the trouble to its immediate source, we came upon an Excrucian shard and a detachment of her troops. Three of us confronted her, while Logic used his mechanical legs to run to Philippe's mansion as fast as possible, to find Fate himself. After some standoffish antics, we received an urgent plea from Logic. In the ruins of the mansion he had found Dalia Thorne, a Full Excrucian armed with an Abhorrent Blade, which she was using to dissect Fate. Logic was next on the list.

Leaving Twilight to deal with the mere shard, History, Tanit, and I raced to the mansion and burst into the basement just as things were getting ugly. Philippe was near death, being deeply cut and missing his eyelids, while Logic was locked in a losing struggle against the destroyer from beyond, with her foul weapon poking from beneath her ribs. Frantically taking measure of the resources at our disposal, I called for Logic to invoke the blessing of the Gate-Guardian of Heaven. No sooner did the poem leave his lips than an impossibly thin tentacle of white fire snaked itself through the chinks in Creation, being ever so careful to not set any of it aflame, and wrapped around Logic, jerking him off to safety and disarming the Excrucian in the process.

This, of course, angered her greatly. Being in the same room as an angry Excrucian is not generally conducive to long-term survival. Attacking her, as opposed to fleeing, is generally even worse. Almost killing yourself for a shot at hurting her--well, frankly, I must be stupid. But determined. On noticing her disarmament, she made as if to spirit the dying Philippe towards the gaping hole to the lands beyond, forever robbing Creation of another Estate. Not one to allow reality to be damaged on my watch, I yelled for History and Tanit to help me and launched into a miraculous assault. History conjured up the Great Molasses Flood to slow our foe while I used a miniature flying guillotine to try and cut out Philippe's heart, thereby keeping his miraculous essence from being stolen. Dalia Thorne caught my assault, strengthened though it was by a Word of Command, but the sticky flood caught her and slowed her escape. Undaunted, I reached into my core and summoned forth another Word of Command, feeling my very insides shred by the utter force of it, and launched myself at Philippe, successfully tearing his heart out by means of the dark rituals of the followers of Kali-Ma. Dalia Thorne was distracted by the space shuttle crashing down upon her, courtesy of History. Tanit had collapsed somehow, and was being of little use. With only fractions of a second before the Excrucian turned her attention back to me and reclaimed the heart, I did the only thing I could think of at the time. I ate it.

This resulted in possible the worse indigestion ever, made worse by the fact that Dalia Thorne proceeded to pummel me within a quarter-inch of my supernatural life. Death was fortunately averted by the trumpeting that signaled the arrival of a true Angel of Heaven, and our foe fled, spent by her efforts in battling us. At this point, I collapsed, content in the knowledge that we had kept Fate from being unmade. When I regained consciousness a few moments later, it seemed as if an eternity had passed, and in that eternity I had gained untold insight and wisdom into the ways of why things are and all the myriad strands of our lives must lead. Damaged as his Imperator had been, my act of eating Fate's heart had torn the Estate away entirely, and melded it to my soul, subservient to Stories. In shock, I was only dimly aware of the Angel questioning us and History bristling with indignation. The Angel explained that Logic's arrival had been what alerted them, and that it would take care of cleaning up the rest of this mess if we trivial folk we be so kind as to get out of the way, immediately. Returning home and crawling into bed seemed like the best idea in the world, and so we did, bringing the unconscious Tanit with us.

Honey, I'm home! (27)

Exhausted and utterly spent by the battles and encounters of the past few hours, we finally limped our way home to the Chancel with Tanit in tow. Upon arrival, she stated that she had business of a vengeful sort to see to with Profit, for slaying her children in an ignoble manner, and Calligraphy, for masterminding the whole affair. We regretfully declined to join her in this venture, being in no shape to leave and weary of killing for a time.

After she harried off, we felt that perhaps, in the interest of shoring up the thin alliances holding Creation together, we should alert her targets and try to diffuse the situation. With the aid of Logic, I was able to use the name-scroll Calligraphy had given him to open a brief communications channel back to its creator. Though the ritual succeeded, the strange metallic voice that responded in confusion was not Sen. I am certain that Tanit had already struck, and there is a new Power of Calligraphy.

As a result, Lysander Hawkins is now stuck with both Sen's sword and Sen's oath, and I doubt he can be entirely happy with the situation either. We decided that we should also contact his associate Tike Yard, a.k.a. Citizen Rat. To do this, I conjured up one of the famous Rats of NIMH, and asked the little fellow to help us send a message to patron deity, as it were. Though the rat pointed out that he had been an atheist until made to appear in the living room of several gods, he made a valiant effort, letting us get through to Citizen Rat. I rewarded our assistant with a jar of peanut butter, and seldom was a gift from god to mortal more well-received.

Death by Committee (28)

Given all the excitement of the past few months, I've sort of lost track of things. Recent events are fresher in my mind, and I'll chronicle them first, then reach further back into the past. We finally found an opportunity to go in to speak with Prasinos, something that we've been sorely needing to do. As I suspected, my assimilation of Fate has had an impact upon our Imperator. Little blue beetles with black spots, very much like lady bugs, seem to be breeding in his mane at a frightful rate, and seem to spend the entirety of their existence crawling rearwards through the grass on his back, drying up and falling off when they run out of lion. They seem to be hurtling inexorably towards their Fate without being aware of it or doing anything to change it. In addition, the vegetation on Prasinos's back now seems to include grape leaves as well--curiously silver ones, that do no look like any in Creation. This is troubling.

In any case, he deemed that we had completed our contradictory missions well. We had implemented out plan, the others had succeeded in stopping it, but in doing so, they left Wallace pained and tortured onto death as a result of now having two copies of his wife around. Impressed such actions, he seems to be taking a wider view of things, and pronounced a new commandment--"Prune before you uproot." I think that, in general, we have been holding to such a rule, attempting to pacify or convert our foes before seeking to destroy them. The coming times of trouble may test this idea, or at least lead to very short batches of pruning followed by some determined uprooting.

Goodbye Excrucian, Hello War (29)

Song-lian had a visitor today, our old acquaintance Lysander Hawkins, drenched in blood and carrying a sack of fruit. He was there to see "Librus" as Twilight naively insists on calling Axamander's shard. The handing over of the fruit was the completion of a deal that we would like to have seen stopped, and which Citizen Rat suffered greatly in attempting to stop as well--the blood was his, though not all of his. Rat should have been able to stop Profit, but their initial plan had not counted on Profit still having Calligraphy's swordsmanship, the returning of which was made somewhat impossible by Calligraphy's death at the hands of an enraged Tanit.

In any case, I could stand helplessly by, viewing the scene through my Anchor's eyes, as the transaction took place. Anaxamander's shard was incredibly polite the whole time and packed up the miraculous fruit taken from the Garden of Eden by way of sacking Ubar. After much goading from me, Song-lian worked up the nerve to ask for a piece, and was indulged. Anaxamander offered the wisdom of the fig or the immortality of the peach, and she chose the latter (a not unreasonable choice if you ask me, especially given my current state). I made sure she hung on to the pit afterwards, as it may prove useful to us.

Once that was over, History and I relaxed on the couch in order to watch Iron Chef Norway on television while we recuperated. All seemed to be going relatively well until Wallace got into an argument with Lord Entropy. That, and our Familia members who were present reported that the entire Kitchen Stadium had been disconnected from reality, preventing anyone from getting in or out. One thing led to another, and before a souffle had time to collapse, ogres were running around eating people and our brother Cooking was trying to kill Lord Entropy on international television. Help, or at least evac, was on the way already, in the form of Logic, Song-lian, and a speeding UFO to carry them there in record time (and make the getaway). Audiences at home have a tendency to go start raving mad when confronted with impossible scenes of bloody horror, and the time-delay between the mild argument visible on-screen and the live chaos taking place there now, which my Anchor's eyes were relating to me, grew short. In a mild state of panic, I engaged in a gauche bit of miracling and repeated my performance with the Wild Zero tapes. People saw what really happened, but to them it looked fictional and somewhat tacky, a decently-executed but obvious story. They could see the nonexistent zippers on the ogre's curiously life-like rubber suits and the tell-tale artifacts of digital manipulation here and there, preserving their world from being shattered into countless fragments. In any case, we need to have a talk with Wallace once he gets home.

Plot hooks? More like plot velco! (Break)

Iron Chef Norway did not quite go as planned. In fact, one could say that all hell broke loose. Although the details remain hazy to me, Wallace seems to have declared war on Lord Entropy by means of inserting a butter knife into his chest. While I do not disapprove of the sentiment, the choice of timing is somewhat poor, what with History, Logic, and myself in less than perfect health after our run-in with Dalia Thorne. (Speaking of her, re-acquiring the abhorrent knife she left behind seems to have rocketed to the front of our collective agenda, given that it's one of the few things we know of that can harm, maim, mutilate, kill, or otherwise seriously dissect an Immortal such as Entropy. I should probably have looked up that subject as well back when I was on Mars.)

This sort of event, of course, has a tendency to unleash shockwaves that rock the foundations of reality. While my miracle made the madness that was broadcast from Norway appear fictional, and thus not be contagious with respect to mortals, it was still very much visible to any watching Power, and word of an attempted coup against the Lord of Creation, just days after the death of one of his oldest and most powerful lieutenants in a dueling upset, spreads like wildfire. On dry grass. That's been soaked with gasoline.

Naturally, everyone else decided that it was high past time to make the moves they'd been wanting to make as well. Within half an hour, there was word of at least one, and possibly even two, additional attempts on Entropy's life--of the unsuccessful kind, unfortunately. While the conspirators in those cases remain less obvious than our own cutlery-wielding comrade, I am certain they too can expect retribution in due time. Whether or not we should attempt to contact them ourselves is questionable. On the one hand, they could be idealists fighting for a common cause, seeking to topple to a corrupt Lord whose evil is infesting all Creation. On the other hand, they could be power-mad cut-throats seeking to eliminate all in their path and bring the assorted worlds of the Ash to heel. I am not entirely certain which camp we ourselves fall into. *burp*

The first ambassador arrived less than three hours after the Norway incident. She was an attractively curvaceous woman with shortish but voluminous black hair, and Saraswati informed us that she wanted to see, of all people, me. Intrigued, and safe within the bounds of our Chancel, I agreed, receiving her in the five-sided square. She informed me that she was an anchor of the Power of Lies, as well as the identical twin sister of said Noble, and currently being ridden by her--an effective way to have a direct Power-to-Power talk without needing to walk oneself into the Lion's den, so to speak. My deceitful stunt with making real events apparently fictional appealed to her sensibilities, and she had divined the act back to its source. In fact, she'd first noticed this when I did it to the Wild Zero documentary, but too late to track the chain of miraculous energy. The wide-scale bullshitting I had engaged in to prevent China from going completely mad cemented my image as a heroic rogue and dishonest savior.

Naturally, when an attractive and powerful member of the appropriate sex walks in and starts expressing admiration, one cannot help but be charmed. One is also made wary as to what exactly this person is trying charm out of oneself. Her abject name-dropping did little to defuse that wariness; I seem to recall that at three different points she claimed that the Power of Sex was an ex-lover of hers she recently broke off with, a member of her Familia, and merely a secondary Domain of hers. Given that she is, after all, the Power of Lies, I'm not sure if any of those statements are true (or if they all are, in some deeply convoluted fashion). (While being within my Autoritas would have prevented her from deploying miraculous lies against me, mundane ones can be quite convincing. I even have a gut feeling that she was physically present, and lying about being her own twin sister; if we can be undetectably soul-twisted, so can others.)

As we got to chatting about affairs in general, two rather disturbing points arose. First, she too did not follow one of the Great Codes, but rather a personal one. What made it disturbing was that hers was identical to mine except for the slight alteration of the first principle into "Truth is best not revealed." Second, she's been around a while, and during part of that while she had a fatalistic, doomed romance with Philippe Vilmorin. She sensed a certain familiarity about me in that respect, and inquired after it. I guess I haven't fully assimilated his shard into myself yet. Given that the news is somewhat available, she seemed friendly enough, and it does make for a great Story, I related my Excrucian-battling exploits to her. No other major points came up, aside from general agreement that we have many mutual interests and that future collaboration could be most fruitful.

As she left, I asked her what her personal name was, as opposed to her title. She replied that she had none, for it had been consumed upon her Ennoblement, though her sister's was Mara. Disturbing things always seems to come in threes, especially in Stories, and especially when dealing with Fate. I said my goodbye and sat to think. This individual was uncomfortably similar to me, yet attractively so. It did not feel like lies, ringing with a truth like that of old memories I had forgotten. Was she somehow related to my former incarnation as Paradox? Paradox is the truth that seems like it cannot be true, while Lies are that which is not true, and Stories are neither truth nor lies, but somewhere in between. Clearly, this will require further inquiry on my part...

Deciding that we were in need of tactical information, I spent much of the next week visiting the basement speaking with Meon--or rather, speaking at him. He didn't do much in the way of speaking back, still being somewhat bitter about reduction to mortal status after centuries as one of the most powerful beings on Earth. He doesn't seem to bear much love for his former Lord (or anyone, for that matter), which could prove useful. I shall have to keep working at it.

After this time, History managed to convene a meeting of the Temporal Control Board, which my four new atria and ventricles entitled me to sit on. By virtue of her importance, she arranged for the meeting to take place within the safety of our Chancel. Aside from my introduction, it was fairly uneventful, or as uneventful as the mentioning that one Power has assimilated another for the first time in recent memory, and possibly ever, can be, given recent events.

It was shortly after this that I received a rather angry letter from the Power of Glory, demanding to know why my latest movie was so insulting to his Estate. Never having heard of him before, and not knowing that I was working on any movies, the matter clearly needed further looking into. A query or two revealed that my law firm, now in the hands of Moriarty, had among the projects it was financing some war movie in which the two characters who make great sacrifices and act heroically wind up completely forgotten or cursed and hated, while the third who flees and goes back home to raise a family lives a long and happy life. It really did trash the concept of seeking Glory. A lot. It was beyond casual and well into making a point. Suspiciously, the movie also smelled miraculous, and those miracles smelled like me, or at least my flowers. Someone was nettling Glory and trying to pin the blame on me. Now, who would be pissed off enough to do that? Someone I'd nettled in the past sprung to mind. Indeed, once I had Otmar track down the original script, the handwriting of several edits looked familiar, rather like some minor changes I'd seen to some books on Mars. I think Coriander Hasp was rather bitter about having his last Nettle reversed on him, and was trying to get a little revenge in on the side while hitting an open target. I explained this to Glory, made some changes to the script to gain his acceptance of it, and wrapped up yet another reverse Nettle. I'm getting enough at this to go into business. (On a side note, this Excrucian does seem a bit on the incompetent side, as, for that matter, a lot of them do. I genuinely fear for the day they become truly competent.)

Speaking with Glory, I found out that his Sister is Fortune, who has often been at odds with Fate over the years, seeing as how one encompasses fickle change as a guiding force and the other fixed destiny as an intrinsic property. She had felt a substantial shift in the nature of Fate recently, and had heard that some of our Familia had been in some sort of battle at his Chancel. Did I know anything about this? I quickly changed the subject by bringing up the Iliad.

The last notable thing that happened to me and mine was that Song-lian bumped into a pair of nice girls in New York, who said they had noticed her living with a man who was not a man, who seemed rather a lot like someone they had met elsewhere very far away. They apparently had a rather lengthy talk about friends, enemies, Nobles, Imperators, Excrucians, ruling, rebelling, duty, ambition, changing alliances, and more. It was rather inconclusive, and they parted on amicable terms. I do wish she'd mentioned it to me at the time. I think this Immortality thing is bringing her confidence about the supernatural up to the level she's always had it regarding the mundane. Given how my Familia screwed up bringing those two over to our side the last time they tried, I'd love a chance to try and do better. Goodness knows we need all the friends we can get, and then some.

Imploding Wives, Ornery Angels, and Dubious Dealings (30)

There were other recent events which I have also forgotten to mention. Immediately after the Norway fiasco, the rest of my Familia returned home, and, of all matters, turned to the problem of how to deal with Wallace's duplicate wife, so carelessly created by the emotionless Opus Dialecticus for a temporary tactical advantage in our earlier spat. It seems like their side, including the original Cecilia, were advocating killing her, though they insisted of thin euphemisms such as "move on to her next incarnation". I can't believe they can be so callous. I don't go around helping every random person I meet, but I don't go around killing clones of my wife either. I'd like to think I'm doing some good and hanging on to a sense of morality despite being a god.

After much arguing and some admonishing from me as I fixed myself a sandwich (a relaxing hobby, I find), they departed to pick up the duplicate Cecilia from Georgia. Apparently, they ultimately decided to meld her back into the original Cecilia by means of some shared miracle. Wallace still looked pretty upset over the whole thing, though. I'm not sure if it was a "pained and tortured onto death" sort of look.

After that, we paid a visit to the home of our old adversary Zenaphiel, where we spoke with the freshly-minted Power of Calligraphy, still recovering from being shot in the leg by Tanit as an incentive to consume the former Calligraphy's heart. I believe the poor lad has a fair amount of work to do on his handwriting as well. In any case, he and his compatriot Gunpowder did deign to point us in the direction of Marciel's new Chancel, which turned out to be located in the basement of a tower on an island in the Rhine.

Inside, we found a gleaming underground city under a dome of gems. The local power who greeted us was none other than Albert Morceuf, Twilight's sort-of love interest and now elevated to the status of Power of the Romantic Age, something which I can relate to from both the views of Stories and Fate. He was willing to discuss providing us with the Abhorrent Knife which Logic's metal ribs had initially claimed from Dalia Thorne, but he wanted the assurance of the thoroughly Honest Power of History, who was lurking back in the safety of the Chancel to heal her wounds (as was I, but I was present vicariously through my anchor Otmar, whom it is ever so fun to push around--I never said I was perfect at that morality thing).

Once they reached the Chancel, we all had a good discussion regarding our intent with respect to the weapon and in general. Albert wanted us to swear that we would not help Excrucians. We were perfectly willing to swear we would not help the enemies of Creation, and did so, but explained at length that just as not all enemies are Excrucians, perhaps not all Excrucians are enemies. He was unyielding.

Thus, we had to try yet another course of action. Apparently, without telling us, Potential had already contacted Anaxamander about getting an Abhorrent Weapon through him. She took us all (some in the form of Anchors) to a Paris cafe where Anaxamander showed off a sickle that looked mundane when stared at glorious when glanced askance at. Its point unmakes things, and it can be ours for the price of seven drops of blood from Prasinos, one bearing each of our essences (both of mine, of course). He'd even throw in three similar drops of his, which he handed over as a measure of good will. We have a week to decide.

I am deeply concerned about this entire affair. While I have zero qualms about killing Lord Entropy, I am loathe to delete any concepts from reality. I fear the Abhorrent Sickle may make that all too easy. I fear it may be addictive and lead to more destruction that we intend. I fear granting the ability to duplicate us to a madman from beyond reality that is currently seeking to populate his own reality with a ruling council. I fear that we may be being manipulated by a deceitful Excrucian into betraying our own principles and committing his foul deeds for him. I also fear that we may be thinking of turning our backs on what could be a good and faithful ally, or at least one of convenience who is not yet thinking of stabbing us in the back. We have a week to decide.

Sex, Lies, and Aztec (31)

We still are uncertain what to do with regards to the various issues confronting us. As a whole, we are leaning towards trusting Anaxamander, or at least cooperating with him for now. We certainly need allies badly enough. I do still have some misgivings about his ultimate goals and the possibility of his running an elaborate deceit, but not enough to turn my back him for now.

The Abhorrent Weapons I am more concerned about. Killing Lord Entropy seems a fine and worthy goal, but I have misgivings about the possible damage to Creation caused by killing an Imperator with an Abhorrent Weapon. We have bandied about the alternate plan of poisoning him instead, but the only poison we can think of that might damage an Immortal is one of the drops of Anaxamander's blood.

Speaking of those drops, we could probably use one of them as the center of a ritual to summon the truth of his intentions by employing the changed nature of the grape vines in our Chancel to reach beyond the Weirding Wall. The others do not quite trust in my magical abilities, and want to obtain some third-party advice prior to enacting any such summonings. The Familia which includes Perversions, whom Twilight met at the party, seems to know something of this according to Hector, who was rather distraught and worried at the mere mention of such activity.

To better inform ourselves, we sent an expedition to Mexico City to investigate. While better, History and I are still injured, so I sent an anchor in the form of Ralph Carlson, as did Logic, who felt it wise to stay behind. Twilight, Cooking, and Potential went in person. There they met Perversions and her sister Butterflies, as well as the newly-reformed Smoking Mirror, who governs Lies and Sex--a combination I have seen recently. She seemed the most human of the trio, and hit on poor, confused Ralph during dinner. Apparently, Perversions dropped some unintended hint that the Smoking Mirror actually hails from beyond Creation and was brought by a High Summoning.

Wallace sort of flipped out over that last bit on his return to the Chancel, ranting about my consorting with beings of nothingness and such. I pointed out that I had yet to actually consort with her, I did not know her true nature and seems to have taken to Creation in any case, and that we as a whole were plotting with an ostensibly reformed Excrucian to murder the lord of reality. It gets very tiring being a god.

Cheesecake of the Void (32)

Facing the profusion of potentially lethal issues that confront us, we decided that the best course of action was to pursue those courses of action that would further inform us. Thus, we set about determining how to conjure up the Truth of Anaxamander's intentions. Cooking whipped up a very special cheesecake, incorporating some Fast-Pentha I pulled out of Fiction, and topped with a wine-sauce incorporating some bizarre fruits Twilight dug up, as well as one drop of Anaxamander's blood.

Thus equipped, we gathered in the grove, and Twilight blurred the edge between our Chancel and the Void while Potential drew down our quarry via an energy vortex. I did my part by dissecting the cheesecake into seven equitable slices, leaving one for something not one of us. That something was kind enough to oblige, appearing in the guise of Librus. We all enjoyed our cheesecake (though carefully skirting the blood-tainted sauce in the case of wiser ones likes myself), and had a frank discussion.

Anaxamander is being honest in his intentions, though his artistic vision for his new Creation is rather a bit darker than we'd prefer. I think we can get around his intentions for the versions of us he intends to build by imprinting the blood drops we give him with a thorough version of ourselves. This should be made easier by the fact that we formulated out final moral principle after the discussion--Question. Question what? All things--your perceptions, what others present to you, the causes you see, the orders established about you, your superiors, your inferiors, your motivations, yourself. Anaxamander may be getting more than he's bargaining for. We are not ones to submit meekly.

If, in fact, we can fully take over the operation of his Creation by this means, then I believe it will be a fulfillment of Prasinos's Fate to rule the 4th Age. If the Excrucians spend their efforts in attacking the old Creation, then the new one will be safe, also fulfilling the Fate of the 4th Age to be devoid of battle with the Excrucians.

In any case, such considerations need to wait until we have disposed of Entropy. We shall attack him by means of a Trojan Horse that does not know he is being used as a weapon. Cooking intends to trick the greatest mortal brewer into joining Entropy's service via the newly-minted Power of the Romantic Age as an intermediary, then to have him poison his new Lord in the belief that the blood shall grant great power instead.

If we are successful in toppling Entropy, we will need to deal with Estates. Parcelling them out to our allies and our potential allies seems wisest. Destruction would suit the Parliament of Rats well, while Semiaza would appreciate Scorn. Desecration could be offered to Dr. Mirabilis as a peace offering, given that he is no longer afraid of what Prasinos's current incarnation is prophesied to do, playing upon the fact that we do have reasonably amicable relations with both Crime and the inseparable pair of Genius and Spectacle. Hopefully we are not counting our chickens before they have hatched, but I find that some measure of planning for the future is wise, though an ability to improvise is even more important.

I grow weary of Paris... (33)

In order to put our plot into effect, we needed to contact the mortal brewer that Wallace had previously identified. This required going to his last known location, Norway, and asking our man-on-the-spot, Hector. Feeling somewhat better, I decided to join this little jaunt. We arrived without incident, and, thanks to my blazing Spirit, were led through without question to the one in charge of recovering from the unnatural disaster that was Iron Chef Norway. After dismissing the Swedish Bikini Team that Hector tries to pass off as his personal secretaries, he dug up the file on our target, and we were able to track him down. Prior to our leaving, Hector demanded recompense for his efforts, and Twilight casually tossed him five bucks to make up for the extreme effort involved in operating his intercom.

From there, we discussed matters with our little brewer, who was still in shock from being exposed to Lord Entropy's massive Spirit. We commissioned him to create a mighty brew incorporating the drop of Anaxamander's blood into a chocolate-strawberry lager made with some cocoa beans we picked in Technotitlan. Our dissimulation hinted that this would be a powerful elixir to increase our own strength, instead of the horrid poison that we intend it to be.

That settled, Twilight, History, and myself felt a twanging at our estates from somewhere in the Paris in the year 1830. Saddling up, we set out on the timestreams again, and found them quite deserted as a result of History's ban on traveling. Tracking the source of the damage led us to the campaign headquarters of Alexandre Dumas, who had just carried the election in violation of the history we knew. As suspected, Albert, Power of the Romantic Age, was there and responsible for the joint affront. His manipulations had catapulted Dumas from a life of artistry to one of power, blurring the boundaries of the Romantic Age, robbing the world of many of his great works, and altering history.

Apparently, Albert had done this intentionally in an attempt to speak with us in private. Genius had come by his Chancel and successfully convinced his Familia that we were evil, in league with the Excrucians, and a threat to all Creation. He wanted to warn us. We came to an amicable resolution regarding his tampering, employing a ghost writer by the name of Maquette to complete Dumas's works, Dumas's own son to lead a life of artistic tragedy that defined the end of the Romantic Age, and apathy to have History not care about the changes, since they were consistent.

From there, we attended the celebratory ball, where the two ladies wore period dresses while I attired myself in a magnificent robe. Twilight seemed somewhat shy about getting close to Albert, so I set an example by flamboyantly declaring myself to be the King of Texas, a far-off land that none present would know much about at the time, and dancing like some fairy prince with all the ladies attending the festivities. I think it succeeded, as Twilight and the Romantic Age snuck off later that evening to enjoy some private refreshment.

??? (34)

Short Session. Plans are laid.

??? (35)

We set up cruise missiles. Twilight confronts Bushido and "loses" the brewer. Wallace and Koh go after Destruction with no plan and get nowhere. We hand over our blood and Anaxamander hands open the weapon that let the Excrucians into Creation in the first place.

??? (36)

We kill Baalhermon, Power of Destruction

The Good, the Bad, and the Entropy (37)

He dies. The Excrucians back off. We win.

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