Trinsic Tales:Afterlife in the Fast Lane/Chapter 05
Chapter Five: No Death for You!
<Capn_Ascii> Alright, everybody ready?
<Capn_Ascii> Sound off like you've got a pair! :p
BLusk pokes his nose in, but remains silent.
<Dkort> There is a 50% chance I am ready
<Capn_Ascii> BLusk: Feel free to comment in the OOC channel. ;)
Capn_Ascii smacks Ieth with an Infinite Improbability drive.
Dkort turns into a penguin
<Eralia> LET'S BE DEAD!
<Capn_Ascii> In Ieth's case, a dead penguin.
<Capn_Ascii> BACK TO ADVENTURE!
<Eralia> "Alright. So, seriously. What to do?"
<Capn_Ascii> "As we join our heroes, we find them contemplating the myriad of ways in which they might blaspheme the gods by challenging the natural order of life and death. Will they succeed? Will they fail? Will they reach some sort of half-assed compromise?"
Eralia stares at her... uh... companions.
<Capn_Ascii> As the three of you stand around looking confused, a tarrasque wearing cufflinks, a monocle, and a top hat lumbers by. It glances at you and shakes its head as it passes. "Pfft. n00bs." It wanders off.
<Eralia> "Let's go get zombified already," Eralia comments and heads for Hell.
Dkort hangs his head and tags along
<Capn_Ascii> Having finally reached a decision, the party heads for the gazebo in the middle of the park. It looks much like an ordinary park gazebo, except that there's what looks like a fireman's pole afixed to the ceiling, running down into a hole in the floor. A nearby hand-painted sign reads "Hell - Express Route".
<Capn_Ascii> Next to it is an open stairway with gothic railings, that leads down into the darkness. This one also has a sign - "Hell - Scenic Route".
<Eralia> Without hesitation, Eralia heads to the pole, grabs it, and slides down.
Rika slides down next.
Dkort goes down last
Eralia looks around after completing her ride
<Capn_Ascii> As you slide down the pole, the pleasant, foggy haze of the clouds you're sliding through begins to break up, giving way to a much less pleasant, suffocating warmth. The darkness around you begins to flicker with vestiges of flre and brimstone. Eventually, a small opening appears beneath you - you slide through, and find yourself...
<Capn_Ascii> ...falling!? As you slide through the hole at the bottom of the pole, gravity suddenly seems to do a 180 - the instant you pass the opening, you begin falling back up the way you came. The sudden change is enough to cause you to lose your grips on the pole, leaving you all to tumble off to the side and land flat on your backs. Ow.
Rika rubs her head and looks around.
Dkort gets back up with most of his dignity
<Capn_Ascii> You appear to be lying in a gazebo identical to the one you just left - only the surroundings outside indicate that you're Somewhere Else. The pole you just slid down (up?) runs into the hole in the floor, just like the other gazebo - apparantly, the same pole uses tricks of gravity to serve as a two-way street.
<Capn_Ascii> Nearby, there's a stairway leading up through the floor, presumably also connecting to Heaven.
<Eralia> "Okay. Now what?"
<Capn_Ascii> As you step out of the gazebo, you find yourselves in what appears to be a twisted mirror-image of the Heaven plaza you just left. The layout is virtually identical - a gazebo in the center, surrounded by a park, streets, and many large, imposing buildings. But it's the details that are different - the park is full of brown grass and dead trees, the buildings are formed from marble that glows with a dull red gleam, and the smell of sulfur in the air.
<Capn_Ascii> The buildings themselves, while physically similar to their counterparts in Heaven, seem to be much more...interesting. Neon lights and signs decorate much of the plaza, giving the whole area a look not unlike Vegas at night...or perhaps more like a red-light district. A number of the signs seem to advertise for less than reputable establishments - there appear to be no less than three strip clubs, two all-night bars, and even something that looks like a brothel.
<Capn_Ascii> There are a few other establishments of note. Off to one side is a hotel of some sort - a sign above it reads "Helliday Inn". Next to it is a storefront, painted entirely in black - a black sign hanging over the black doorway proclaims, in big black letters, "BLACK MARKET".
<Capn_Ascii> Across the plaza, a collection of smaller buildings surrounds a small courtyard, full of round tables for eating at - nearby billboards indicate that this is the food court. Off to one side, a pair of particularly imposing buildings draw your eye - one looks like a courthouse, while the other looks like some sort of guild hall.
Eralia heads for the courthouse
Dkort tags along
<Dkort> "So...we're not going to...take in any of the local culture?"
<Eralia> "I don't want to stay dead any longer then I have to."
<Capn_Ascii> Dkort glances longingly at a strip club situated directly adjacent to a fried chicken establishment as the party passes.
<Dkort> "If you're sure..."
<Eralia> "I'm sure."
Rika follows quietly, looking around.
<Capn_Ascii> Eralia: You enter the courthouse. On the inside, it looks much like...well, a courthouse. Only more...hellish. There's a receptionist sitting at a nearby desk who looks awfully familiar...
Dkort eventually and hesitantly follows the others
<Capn_Ascii> The clerk here looks *exactly* like the clerk at the courthouse up in Heaven. He's even wearing the same suit.
<Eralia> "Hi again!"
Dkort squints slightly at the clerk. "Hmm...do I know you from somewhere?"
<Capn_Ascii> The clerk gives Eralia a polite "Hello" before Dkort's question seems to catch him off guard. "Eh, what? Um, no, I don't think so." He clears his throat. "Is there something I can help you folks with?" As he speaks, various demons, devils, succubi, and flying space jellyfish walk/hover past.
<Eralia> "Are you on record?"
<Capn_Ascii> He blinks. "Why do you ask?"
<Eralia> "If I told you that while on record, that would defeat the point of needing to be off record, wouldn't it?"
<Capn_Ascii> He ponders this. "Good point. For the record, no, I'm not on record right now. Why do you ask?"
<Eralia> "Good," Eralia replies, leaning in close. "I was under the impression that I would be able to regain a sort of 'connection' with my old body down here... if you get my drift..."
<Capn_Ascii> He raises an eyebrow. "You mean..." He glances around, then pantomimes someone lurching around with their arms stretched out.
<Eralia> Eralia smiles slightly and gives a short and quick nod.
<Dkort> "Hopefully with more grace than that..."
<Capn_Ascii> He glances around again, then leans in and whispers conspiratorily. "You'll want to talk to Helena. Her office is down the left-hand corridor, on the right side, three doors down. Tell her that..." He proceeds to open his mouth wide, tilt his head at an awkward angle, and let out an unearthly scream as if possessed by some horrible poltergeist. "...sent you."
<Eralia> "Er. Right."
Eralia heads in the indicated direction.
<Capn_Ascii> You follow YEEEEAAAARRRRRGH!?'s directions, and soon find the indicated office. A nameplate on the door reads "Helena Handbasket - Director of Undeath".
Eralia opens the door
<Capn_Ascii> As the door opens with that stereotypical haunted house creak, you step through the door and into an office that looks like it could be right out of the Addams' Family's mansion. The room is dark, decorated with gothic architecture and assorted cobwebs. A fireplace blazes in one corner, near a large, oaken desk.
<Capn_Ascii> Sitting behind this desk is a woman who looks to be in her midn-thirties. She's quite an eye-catcher, for a number of reasons - partly because she's built like a brick shipyard (a perfectly-sculpted hourglass figure crammed into a low-cut business dress), partly because both her clothes and hair are an eye-searingly bright demonic red, and partly because her eyes seem to glow with a frightening, unholy fire that makes her look like she could rip out your soul with one pinky finger, devour it like a starving wolf, then floss her teeth with your shoelaces.
<Capn_Ascii> Eralia: She meets your eye with a look somewhere between "Hello, may I help you?" and "DEAD BY DAWN!". "Greetings."
<Eralia> Eralia isn't fazed by the lady's appearance in the least. She's seen worse. She's *been* worse. "Greetings. I'm Eralia. I was told you could help me."
<Dkort> "And maybe even the rest of us."
<Capn_Ascii> "Help you? Why, of course I can help you." She slowly stands up, her eyes glowing as she speaks with a howling demonic voice. "ON YOUR WAY TO OBLIVION!"
<Eralia> "Oh, yeah, fancy dramtic tone," Eralia replies, disinterested. "Although, if you insist... YEEEEAAAARRRRRGH!? sent me," she finishes, trying her best to imitate the scream.
<Dkort> "Does everyone here have a taste for the dramatic?"
<Eralia> "I hate dramatics, personally. They reduce personal efficiency."
<Capn_Ascii> "HE DID!?" The glow stops, and she sits back down in a very businesslike manner. "Oh. In that case, have a seat." She waves her hand, and a trio of expensive-looking chairs materialize.
Eralia sits down in the fanciest-looking chair (or the middle, if they're all the same) and smiles.
<Dkort> "...do you mind if I stand?"
<Capn_Ascii> "Not at all." One of the chairs vanishes.
<Capn_Ascii> ...in a cloud of sulfur-smelling smoke. *cough*
Rika leans against the back of one of the chairs, wanting to stand, but not wanting the room to be filled with smoke.
<Capn_Ascii> "So." She looks up at you through a pair of thin-rimmed glasses. "I take it you're looking for a way...back?"
<Capn_Ascii> She steeples her fingers. "You understand that this would be a temporary arrangement?"
<Eralia> "Well, yes, we do this to find enough diamonds so *he*," Eralia points at Dkort, "can resurrect us for real later."
<Capn_Ascii> "Yes, but I mean...*very* temporary. There's a time limit."
<Eralia> "Which is?"
<Capn_Ascii> "Here's how it works." She gets a serious expression. "I can get you back into your bodies for a little while, but not forever. The longer you're running around down there as illegal soul immigrants, the more likely it is that someone upstairs..." She glances up. "...will notice. If that happens, we're *all* in big trouble."
<Capn_Ascii> "I can give you a day, *maybe* two, tops."
<Capn_Ascii> "After that, I'll have to pull you back."
Eralia looks over at Dkort. "Can we get diamonds that fast?"
<Dkort> "Probably not."
<Eralia> "Doesn't this side have people 'downstairs' that would be protecting us?" Eralia asked, frowning. "Everything is supposed to be in balance, after all."
<Capn_Ascii> She shakes her head. "I'm afraid it doesn't work that way. Fact of the matter is, what you're proposing to do - what I'm proposing to set you up to do - is illegal by the rules of the afterlife. The undead are only supposed to animate by the workings of those on the mortal plane - a necromancer casts a spell to animate and control dead bodies, a sorcerer becomes a lich to make himself immortal, etc."
<Capn_Ascii> "For me to return souls to the mortal realm as undead entities is a direct violation of proper procedure."
<Eralia> "Fact is, I don't give a bleep. I have no desire to be dead."
<Dkort> "Same here."
Rika nods in agreement.
<Eralia> "I got nothing to lose. What are they going to do, make me double dead? I'm in."
<Dkort> "It'd be the first time I've cheated death while on this side of existence. It's worth a try."
<Rika> "When we come back, if we fail to get the diamonds, what will happen to us?"
<Eralia> "Then we try again. Whether we try as this or something else."
<Eralia> "We never stop trying. Ever."
<Capn_Ascii> "Yes, well, *I* care. If you three get busted, it's my ass." She leans on the desk. "Look, here's how it's going to go down. First, I need you all to sign a confidentiality agreement - a soul-binding document that forbids you from revealing how you returned to the mortal plane, if you happen to get caught."
<Eralia> "Sounds good. I have nothing to gain from telling on you anyways."
<Capn_Ascii> "Second, I don't do this for free. If you want to make this work, I'm going to need something from you."
(10:15:31) <Eralia> "What do you want?"
<Capn_Ascii> "I want..." She stands up, and the glowing light returns to her eyes. "...YOUR SOULS!"
<Eralia> Eralia snorts. "I got no use for it. Go for it."
<Dkort> "Again with the drama?"
<Capn_Ascii> "It?" She looks confused. "No, no, I don't mean your *actual* soul. I mean, your *souls*."
<Eralia> "...there's a difference?"
Rika stares, hoping someone will notice she asked a question
<Capn_Ascii> She facepalms. "You haven't been in Hell long, have you?" She fishes something out of a desk drawer, and places it on the desktop to show you. "SOULS." It's several silver coins, each of which has words stamped on it - "1 Soul, legal tender". "Money. Cash. Spendola."
<Eralia> Eralia sighs. "No, we haven't been around long. Never seen one before."
<Capn_Ascii> "We uses to trade in actual human souls here in Hell, but after we had some counterfitting troubles, we switched to coins instead."
<Capn_Ascii> "But, yes, I'm going to need payment for services rendered. I'm not going to risk my shapely rear end for free."
<Eralia> Eralia sighs. "Any suggestions?"
<Capn_Ascii> She then looks at Rika. "To answer your question...if you do get recalled before you can reinstate yourselves as alive again, you can always try again later. That is, of course, unless the Powers That Be catch us."
<Capn_Ascii> "In which case, we'll all be in serious trouble."
<Rika> "That was actually what I meant. What kind of trouble?"
<Capn_Ascii> "Well, let's see. There's the Chamber of Terrible Screaming Pain, the Maze of Razor-Sharp, Poison-Coated Protrusions, the Pit of Everlasting Despair..."
Rika nods. "Okay."
<Eralia> "Doesn't get any more despairing then dead."
<Eralia> "So, alright, how could we acquire... erm... souls? And how much are you really asking for?"
<Capn_Ascii> "Oh, but it does. Trust me, you haven't even *begun* to know suffering until the Powers That Be get angry at you." She coughs. "Anyway, if you need money, there's bound to be work here in Hell. You could also go back up to Heaven and work for Bells, which you can then exchange at the moneychanger's office."
<Dkort> "What's the exchange rate?"
<Capn_Ascii> "As for price..." She looks you all over. "Let's say 20 souls apiece - 60 total."
<Eralia> "You'll be here, whenever?"
<Capn_Ascii> "Oh, sure. I practically live in my office. Of course, you can have my card if you like." She hands Eralia a business card that looks a lot like Kevin's.
<Eralia> "Alright, thank you," Eralia replies, pocketing the card. "I guess we're off to waste time earning money."
<Capn_Ascii> "Sorry, hon, but nothing's free, not even when you're dead."
<Capn_Ascii> "Oh, brother. There's bound to be something you three can do for a quick buck. I mean, you're famous heroes, aren't you? Why not go ask for bus fare at the heros' home in Heaven? Or maybe go get part-time work."
<Eralia> "I wouldn't say famous."
<Rika> "And besides, we might have killed some of the residents here at some point...
<Capn_Ascii> "Oh, undoubtedly. But if you're heroes, then most likely all of the folks you've killed were villians, right? So they'd be in the old villians' home next door."
<Dkort> "If they have problems with us, I have no problem with seeing whether someone can be killed here, too."
<Capn_Ascii> "Just stay clear of there and you should be fine."
<Capn_Ascii> She looks at Dkort. "Well, I should remind you that your earthly weapons won't work here. If you want to pick a fight, you'll need soul equipment - either buy some, or steal it."
<Eralia> "Pointless because we're not sticking around. Let's get 60, get back here, and get out of here. Enough time wasting."
<Capn_Ascii> "You could always steal some money too, while you're at it."
<Eralia> "That would be lovely if we even knew where any money *was*."
<Dkort> "People probably carry at least some. But I've found that just doing some work causes fewer problems later on."
<Dkort> "Then again, I don't plan on coming back."
<Capn_Ascii> "Well, stores would have some. I don't recommend you try to steal from the Black Market, but the general store in Heaven might be a good shot. Just don't get caught."
<Capn_Ascii> "Or maybe the food court stores down here."
<Capn_Ascii> "We don't have a proper bank in the afterlife; it made too tempting a target for all the dead villians. Most folks carry their cash on them, or hide it at home."
<Eralia> "Less transition, less traceability, more efficient, better."
<Eralia> "We'll do it down here if we can. Anyone have any stealing experience?"
Rika raises her hand.
<Eralia> "Okay. You'll go in, get coins, and get out."
<Eralia> "Let's go," Eralia commands, getting up to leave.
Dkort tags along.
<Capn_Ascii> Helena closes the door behind you. "Remember, we never had this conversation." *click*
<Capn_Ascii> ---END SESSION---
<Eralia> "What conversation?"
<Capn_Ascii> *door opens* "Exactly." *door closes*