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You are Christopher Phillips, previously just another teenage nerd living in a small English town, and a lot of things have changed in your life since you died.

You’re walking along an empty street, flexing your fingers slowly. You have this odd awareness of your body now, a sense of exactly how you’re moving and how you’re holding yourself. A sense of what you could do, if you exerted some of the power you now hold.

It’s not your power, not exactly. It’s borrowed or stolen or tapped somehow from the mysterious Man in White who brought you back from the dead in the first place. He just wanted an agent, a pawn in the mortal world, but instead...

You flex your fingers again, feeling the power running through them. It’s hard to hold back, hard not to just reach out and touch everything around you with this vast, reality-changing power. It may not have been meant for you originally, but you took it, you claimed it, and that means it *is* your power now. If your ‘partner’ couldn’t hold onto what he had, then he deserves to lose some of it to you. And since it’s your power, shouldn’t you use it?

No, not yet. Not yet. You have things to do. Places to go. People to kill. You need to save your power for the battles ahead.

It’s still fairly early on Sunday morning. You have allies - minions - useful idiots - scattered all over town. You could go to them, see if they could be any use. You could take the fight straight to your enemies, right now. You feel more powerful than ever. Maybe you could take them head on. That weird red-haired guy with the rifle, and the woman with the strange voice - Coriander and Iolithae. Could you fight both at once, and win? Perhaps. It might be better to prepare more, first, to *guarantee* your victory.

There’s a curious noise, a buzzing and chiming which you can’t quite place at first. Not a bird, not a bell. Not the sound of a chain, or a weapon. What is it?

You pause for a moment, and suddenly it snaps into focus. Of course. It’s your phone, ringing. Right. Your phone, your friends, your family. You should do... something about that. Answer it, first of all.

It takes you a moment to locate your phone and check the screen. Your mother. Great.

‘Hi Mum. What is it?’

‘You are going to remember to come home at some point, Christopher? You haven’t forgotten about your poor mother?’

Yes, you totally had. ‘Uh, no, Mum, of course not. Look, I just have a few things to sort out -‘

‘Yes, I know, your friend mentioned you had a lot going on, but I do think you might be able to make it home at least briefly? We’re going to have lunch before we leave - your friend is sticking around, do you think you could make it too?’

‘Uh, maybe - wait, my friend? Isabella?’

‘No, no, the young man , um - you know, I don’t think I caught his name. Tall, very polite. Red hair, sunglasses.’

... Oh. Hell.

What do you want to do?

((Archives are located at http://archive.foolz.us/tg/search/subject/monsterhearts%20quest/type/op/order/asc/
and also at
>Call snake girl and Isabella tell them to meet you some where maybe 3 minutes from you're house.
also it's good to see this back.
Okay, remember, this asshole's power is to fuck up any clever plans we have, so we should make very simplistic plans.

Hmm... I guess >>31242374 works.

Tell her to act calm, and leave the house ASAP. That guy is no friend of anyone. But tell him that we should be back in a couple of hours.
Good to see you back MH. I haven't been up to latest threads, maybe i will catch up to it again.

>Call Isabella and Esther. Let's see what they think. Esther has her things to deal with but she can at least give some advise.


((Okay, writing.

I'm also working on a pastebin with a primer on Nobilis and the Miracles system. This is taking some time, as I'm trying to strike a balance between telling you everything you need to know, and copying out 40 or 50 pages of text. It should hopefully be done tonight, though.))
"Right. I'm on my way, Mum. See you soon."

Well, it doesn't sound like he's started killing people yet. That might be a good sign. Still, you're not entirely sure you want your mother sitting down to Sunday lunch with an enemy of all that is. You need a plan. Something simple. You need information, and backup.

"Esther? Hi, it's Chris. How busy are you? Can you come and meet me somewhere?"

"Hello, Christopher. I am just supervising some reconstruction work. My presence is not urgently required. How long do you anticipate this to take?"

"Not too long, I hope - half an hour at most?" You give her an address - not your own, but near enough that you should be able to see your house, make sure that it's not on fire or exploded.

"Very well. I shall be there shortly."

Now your other main advisor. 'Isabella? Can you hear me?'

There's some... static? Some interference? You're not sure what would interfere with a telepathic connection like this. At any rate, it clears up after a moment.

'I can hear you. You need something?'

'One of these bad guys, the two massive threats to everything? He's at my house. With my family.'

'... Shit. Anything we can do? I don't know how fast I can get there, or if I can do any damage to him - I can bring paramedics, maybe round up an ambulance - what's the damage?'

'No damage yet. He hasn't started a fight yet. But I need to get over there and do something before he does. Can you meet me near my house?' You give her the same address.

'Sure, of course. On my way. Firepower?'

'Wouldn't do any good. Just need to pick your brain.'

'Got it. See you soon.'

You set off at a quick jog. Esther and Isabella are both already waiting when you arrive. They glance briefly at one another, then Esther steps forward.

"So, what is it that you need? What is the plan?"
"Information. Anything you can tell me about Coriander, who's at my house, and one of his powers is to make sure that any complex plan falls apart and fails. So, I'm going with something simple. I'm thinking just show up and punch him in the face while you get my family away."

So, anyone got a better idea?
The power to make a plan fail harder the more complex it is makes this fight somewhat difficult to plan.
>So, anyone got a better idea?
((Apparently not. Writing now.))
((God dammit. Is this working?))
((Excellent. Normal service resumes, then.))
"First, I need information. Anything you've been able to pull from your libraries on the Excrucians in general, and particularly on one guy. Coriander Hasp. Red hair, big magical rifle. His power seems to be to make complex plans fail, so I'm going with something simple. Just show up and punch him in the face, while you two get my family out of there."

Esther nods. "I have been attempting to coordinate our current information. Little is available on any specific individual, but there are some patterns. A tendency towards monologues. Apparent immortality and indestructibility Their unusual eyes. And of course immense, unstoppable magical and physical power. They are not known to use any magical items other than weapons, but their own powers appear to suffice for anything they require. Fighting one may be... problematic." She clears her throat pointedly, then glances to Isabella, who seems distracted somehow.

"Uh, Isabella? Anything you might have picked up? Any thoughts? ... Isabella? What's wrong?"

You wave your hand in front of Isabella's eyes, and she suddenly seems to see you. "Uh, sorry. Just felt... never mind. Probably just a side effect of the... Excrucians? The bad guys. They sound worryingly powerful. Are you sure about the punching him in the face part?"

"Well, hopefully it'll distract him long enough for you to get my family clear. He doesn't seem to have enhanced senses or anything. And I'm tougher than I look. Still, it... Isabella? What is it?"

She's started staring off into space again, and you take her shoulder and shake her. "Isabella? What are you feeling?"

"I'm not sure. There's a sense of something approaching, something powerful. And worrying."

You look up and down the street, seeing no one. "Approaching from where? The other Excrucian?"

"I don't know, maybe... I can't tell a direction. Just something getting closer, and fast."

"I guess we don't have much time, then. Both of you follow me."

You get halfway down the road before Isabella gasps in pain, falling to one knee. She scrambles to her feet again as you and Esther go to help her up, waving her hands.

“No, no, I’m fine, I’m fine. I’ll be fine. It’s just... getting closer, that’s all. Can’t you feel it? I don’t understand how you can’t...”

She gasps and collapses again, putting her hands down to break her fall. When she stands again, she’s wearing a pair of white, elbow-length lace gloves that you’re certain weren’t there a second ago. Isabella stares at them in shock and confusion.

“Chris?” she asks, without looking away from her hands. “What’s happening? I don’t -“

There’s a sudden flash of white light that forces you to turn your head away. When you look back at Isabella, she’s dressed head to toe in an elaborate, close-fitting white ball gown. It looks simultaneously graceful and predatory, almost shark-like. All the fear and confusion is gone from her face, and she looks down at herself with a smile.

“Not bad. Not bad at all. Not quite what I was expecting, but it’ll do.” She looks up at you, grinning. “Alright, kid. Let’s go kill something.”

“You... bastard. What have you done to her?”

“Hey, now. She’ll be fine. Just borrowing her for a little while. I’ll put everything back when I’m done. Scout’s honour. Now, what we got here?” Her eyes flicker over the row of houses. “Excrucian in a closed space with a bunch of mortals. That’s a pain. You know which one?”

“Uh... Coriander Hasp. And that’s my family he’s with. They’re taking lunch.”

Isabella shakes her head, letting out an exasperated sigh. “Well, at least it’s not Iolithae. She’d have them all singing the praises of non-existence before they’d finished the main course. You think you can stall him, keep him distracted? I presume you’d rather not get into a firefight with him around your folks.”

“I can do distraction. I was mostly just planning to punch him in the face. Keep it simple.”

Isabella - or the Man, rather - shrugs. “With *your* fists? Probably just going to piss him off. You’ve got a good mouth on you, though. Keeping them talking is good. None of the bastards can resist a good monologue, especially not the Deceivers. He might just tell you his whole plan just for the hell of it.”

“Well, how about you go talk to him, then, if you’re so sure it’ll work?”

The Man gives you a wide, cruel grin that looks especially disturbing on Isabella’s face.

“Because I want to see what you can do, kid. And because you do what I tell you. Now get moving.”

You’re shoved towards your house with substantially more force than Isabella could usually muster. The front door is partially open, and you step cautiously inside.

“Chris!” your mother calls from the kitchen. “Come into the dining room. Your friend is somewhere around.”

You leave the door open for Esther and the Man, stepping into the living room. Coriander is sitting on one of the sofas. He’s dressed very differently - a leather jacket, sunglasses, his hair combed back. He waves, giving you a thumbs up and a grin that’s just a little bit too wide.

“Eeeey. Good to see you could make it to lunch, friend. Have a seat.”

Wait, is Coriander dressed as the Fonz? What the hell?

You sit cautiously in a chair opposite, staring carefully.

“Why the hell are you dressed as the Fonz?”

He shrugs. “What, can’t a bloke look cool?”

“The Fonz hasn’t been cool for about thirty years. Maybe more.”

“Eh, whatever. I lose track. Anyway! Good to have you here. With your lovely friendly family and all that. Aren’t they just peachy?” He gives you another grin. You can’t tell if it’s supposed to be intimidating, or if he just has no idea what a friendly smile looks like.

What do you want to say?
"Okay, I gotta admit, I'm a little confused. What are you hoping to achieve, here?"
What is having dinner with my family while dressed as the fonz supposed o accomplish,
Apart from making you look like an idiot of course.
((Writing. Sorry for the massive delay earlier, hopefully it won't happen again.))
"So what's the point of this, exactly?" You wave a hand in Coriander's general direction. "What are you trying to accomplish?"

"Well, like I said, a bloke wants to look cool when meeting new people -"

"No, no, not the outfit. Although the outfit does make you look like a complete idiot. I meant coming here, having dinner with my family. What are you trying to achieve?"

Coriander shrugs, the leather jacket rippling and distorting until he's wearing the same outfit he was when you first encountered him. His rifle shimmers into existence on the sofa beside him.

"The dinner's not important. What's important is you. I got a good feeling about ya. You're something interesting. So I thought I'd come give you the lowdown. Tell you what's going on behind the scenes."

"Behind the scenes of what?"

"Of... hell, of everything. That's what ya gotta understand. We're the ones that know the truth. We're all about truth."

"So how come everyone calls you the Deceivers, then?"

Coriander waves a hand dismissively. "Slander, all of it. Just because everyone *else* doesn't understand reality, they reckon it hasta be a lie when we tell them!" He sighs, shaking his head. "It ain't our fault. We try to tell them. Look at me here, telling you."

"So what is this truth, then?"

Coriander leans back, shrugging slightly. "It's kinda complicated to explain. Okay, so, uh... way back when, there was... stuff. All of the stuff was kinda the same thing, only not really."

"The same thing, only not really? Hey, and... what if my parents hear this?" You gesture to the dining room, where you can hear plates being laid out.

"They're... not really listening to me right now. Neat trick, huh? And yeah, I told ya it was complicated. You ain't really got the right kinda mind to understand all of it. But anyway, one day, this... this guy takes a bunch of people and things and experiences and stuff, and he... takes them away. Sort of."

“Sort of?”

“It’s complicated. Just shut up and listen for a bit, alright? So he takes them away, and that’s kinda weird because there’s no away to take them to, and there’s no taking things in the first place, all the stuff is the same thing, like I said, but... he figured it out, somehow. And the people who weren’t taken away, they figured out that there were two things now instead of one, and they went to look at the other thing, and...”

He trails off, shaking his head slowly. “It was horrifying. All of it, all of... all of this. Can’t ya see that? You’ve all been here so long you’ve forgotten, you’ve gotten this idea that somehow this is how things are meant to be, this division and loneliness and decay and death. And we keep coming and trying to help you, trying to make you see, trying to snap you out of it, and you fight so hard. And we keep trying. Because we care about you, because we want you to see how wrong all of this is. How much better and purer and more beautiful you could be.”

Coriander stands, pacing nervously. “I think you might be able to help. We’re going to rescue this place, this little slice of what you call reality, and it’d be a lot easier if we had you on our side, and not against us.” He flashes you a quick grin, this one a little more human than the last. “You in?”
Sure, pause, comma, not.
How do I know I can trust you.
I've watched Evangilion. I vastly prefer having an identity.
((Writing. Hopefully a slightly shorter post this time. Coriander does ramble on, doesn't he?))
"Yeah, sure. Not. Look, for one thing, how could I even know I could trust you?"

"Hey, my word ain't good enough? I'm on your side, ain't I?"

"Well... not really. I mean, I kinda like my identity and my existence and stuff."

Coriander sighs. "Goddammit. Bloody... what's it called. Stockholm Syndrome. All of you. It's killing you and you can't even... fine. If I...."

He pauses, turning to the dining room. The noise of light conversation and places being set has vanished. Coriander looks at you, then back at the doorway to the dining room.

"'Ere, what... oh. Goddammit."

Isabella steps into the room, waving cheerily to you.

"All sorted. Coriander! What a pleasure to see you. Where did you get that coat? The 1800s? I'm sure it looked quite dashing at the time. It's just as up to date as your rifle, after all."

Coriander glares at her, then at you, slings his rifle over his shoulder, and walks out.

"Fine," he snaps over his shoulder as he leaves. "I guess we'll do this some other time. Guess I'll tell Iolithae you're in town?"

Isabella smiles the same cruel, predatory grin. "You do that. Catch you later, Coriander Hasp."

As the front door clicks closed behind him, Isabella - the Man - the Woman in White, maybe? - sits down on the sofa, just about where Coriander was sitting before. Must be a good spot.

"So. Brief me. What have you got so far? Information, assets. A plan, maybe. Cneph forbid you might actually have thought about this sort of thing before I got here."

What do you want to say?

Something about someone taking things from people and then the people realising that there is something else. You came too early for me to understand what he was saying.
I don't have a plan, not yet but I've managed to scrape together some assets, I got the power the fae king took from me and esters family are willing to help. We've been working on forcing people to evacuate.
>I don't have a plan, not yet but I've managed to scrape together some assets, I got the power the fae king took from me and esters family are willing to help. We've been working on forcing people to evacuate.
>Might try overthrowing the current fae ruler too.
Add that in actually.
Talk about asset gathering, possibly subjugate the Fae ruler and force her to help as well.
I don't really know how to fight them, I've been waiting for you for help with planning, but I've managed to collect some useful assets,
((Okay, writing. Another long one, probably.))
"Something about someone taking things from people and then the people realising there was something else... you interrupted us a bit too early for me to actually understand what he was saying."

The Woman in White blinks. "Understand? What, that rubbish Coriander was spouting off? Oh, don't bother. It'll be nonsense anyway, it always is. I just wanted him sufficiently distracted by the sound of his own voice that he wouldn't spot us."

"Okay. So, assets. The snake girl, her and her family are on board. They've got guns, training and numbers. We had a fairly wide network of mortal helpers that Isabella was coordinating, helping evacuate the regular people - don't know if you've knocked that out, with whatever you've done. Have you?"

She shrugs. "It'll be running on autopilot, probably. I could just up and order everyone to leave, anyway, if I thought it mattered. Our priority has to be stopping whatever the Excrucians are planning. If they pull it off, whatever it is, it won't much matter whether we've got people out or not. The universe will be just as screwed either way. Is that everything on assets?"

"There's a large court of the Fae nearby. We might try subjugating the local Fae ruler, forcing her to help. They'd make good soldiers."

"Good cannon fodder, you mean. None of them are going to be tough enough to take a hit from that rifle and keep going. Still, they might be a useful distraction. We'll keep a note of it, see if it turns out to be necessary. Any other information?"

"Uh... I think their plan has something to do with fire and ice. Something about cold flames?"

"Mm. We'll need more information on that, but it's a start. Is that absolutely everything?"

...I don't remember anything else.

Make that Chris' response too.
There could be other people, But I haven't heard of them.

There is that little group of hunters. Not too strong, but could be useful someway. Unfortunatly, both main fighters are hostages right now.
((Goddammit... writing, anyway.))
"I don't remember anything else. There could be other Excrucians, but I haven't met them."

She shakes her head slowly. "Possible, but unlikely. Even two Excrucians working together is rare. They all have individual styles, preferences, specialisations. Like artists. They don't collaborate well."

"I think that's everything - oh, there's that group of hunters, the ones who helped me with the corruption demon. Not strong, but they might be useful somehow. Their two best fighters are hostages right now, though."

"Hostages?" She perks up, curious. "I've never known an Excrucian to take mortals hostage, unless they were especially linked to a Noble. What happened?"

"Uh, they were with me when we went to check out that strange thing you told me about yesterday. We ran into the Excrucians, we ran away, and they didn't make it. Maybe they just saw too much? And they don't want to kill them for some reason?"

"I'm very well acquainted with Coriander Hasp and Iolithae Septimian, and I doubt either of them have gone soft. Unless it's a trait of their Second Skin, I suppose. That might be a clue, somewhere. Could be useful."

"Uh... second skin? Like a snakeskin?"

"More like a mask. It's why they're called the Deceivers. They pretend to be someone else, one of us. A Power. It hides them from Creation's scrutiny, and gives them access to the Power in question's abilities. Miracles, Anchors, Bonds... but their Afflictions also. It cuts both ways. And if we can figure out precisely who they're impersonating, we can force them to either back down or shed their skins. Look out for any sign or clue as to which Power they're using the abilities of. Sudden bursts of flame, manipulating the road network, anything unusual."

"Right. Now what?"

"Now... well. Now, I think, we take the fight to them."

She smiles that cruel, predatory smile again, like a cat that's just caught a particularly plump bird. It's not exactly reassuring. But you'll take what you can get.
((I think we may have to stop for the night, on account of how it is 4:20am and I need sleep. Thank you all for your contributions. As always, feel free to ask any questions below, and I'll endeavour to answer them.

Next thread will hopefully be TUESDAY, the 8th, at our usual time of 8:00pm British time, or somewhere thereabouts.))
damn, just got home and missed the thread, glad to see you resuming OP
Could we perhaps start an hour earlier than that?
((That's not really feasible, I'm afraid. I work quite late these days. Just getting started around 8 is hard enough.))

((Also, questions, comments, etc.?))

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