The City of Lives

Lord Useless and the Men of Real Talent: Stupid Idea No. 151: Point and Laugh at Phineos Part 2

Eustice and the Men of Real Talent headed across the street to the Drowned Jug tavern, drinking and chatting as they waited for Elleia to arrive. Mili spent a good hour preparing a Farsharing projection, then latched it onto Elleia, able to watch and hear her and her surroundings for a full day. Eustice recognized Elleia as the one unattainable woman—the only woman he had ever known that was of the right class, the right age, the right attractiveness level who had never shown any interest in him. Struck with the unfairness of said situation, Eustice proceeded to get drunk and swear at Mili’s back-mounted projection of Elleia. Eustice’s position on Elleia could be summed up thusly: If she’s having sex with everyone, including Eustice: a free-spirited, generous girl. If she’s having sex with everyone BUT Eustice: a filthy whore. Mili turned off her projection once Elleia and Phineos retired to his bedroom (to Eustice’s irritation, and also his inspiration, to use Mili to spy on other couples having sex around the City), but turned it back on afterwards, to catch Elleia telling Phineos to come to the Curia at ten after two the next afternoon, for an important meeting.

Mili continued to watch as Elleia headed to the Curia and met with Arrulio Verimadia in the library there. The two spoke obliquely about numerous complex and presumably dastardly plans, but the main focus was this: The next day, Mo Proudhoe and his revolutionaries were going to attack the Curia at two pm, and the conspirators’ plan was to get Phineos there just in time to heroically help with search and rescue. Elleia told Arrulio that Eustice had gotten involved, but Arrulio dismissed it, saying Eustice would be far more likely to make things worse for himself than to salvage his reputation.

The Men of Real Talent considered the news of the plan, and remembered the turncoat revolutionary, Skizz, that they had befriended after the textile mill attack. Contacting Skizz again, Iolanthe got Skizz to tell them that Mo’s people were planning on creating a Wildshifting attack, a giant plant that would grow up from the basement and block all the entrances with vines before collapsing the entire building and killing most of Parliament (including Eustice’s father Theonides). He knew that Mo’s people would be entering through tunnels created by a Worldshaper, but did not know whether the Wildshifting would be done by a relic or a man, or whether the revolutionaries would retreat or stay and suicide-bomb to keep people inside and dead.

The Men considered. The law stated that if a member of Parliament (read: a nobleman) died, their seat would pass to their heir. Additionally, while seats on the High Council are elected positions, if a member dies, their heir comes in to finish their term. Horrified by the idea of Eustice leading the High Council for three to four years, they realized they had to, at minimum, get Theonides out of the building. Jonakin argued that if the Curia came down, Theonides could easily seize power in the resulting vacuum and become President-for-life. However, the others pointed out that Theonides was already at the top of the heap, power-wise, and so he had more to lose than he was likely to gain in the chaos of a power vacuum (not to mention that he, as a good man, would never go along with the plan). They also wondered if there was going to be a simultaneous character assassination attempt against Eustice that would ensure that Phineos would gain power from the attack and not Eustice or Theonides.

Therefore, the Men had to find a way to stop the revolutionaries’ attack. They realized that since the Curia normally carried a Nullsphere preventing all Crafting within it, Mo must have found a way around it: bribing the Nullcrafters who created it, countering magic, or something similar. They also concluded that since Relicshifting and Wildshifting are opposed Crafts, it would be far more likely that the Wildshifter they were looking for was a person and not a device (and thus easier to kill).

Jonakin moved through the offices at the department of city planning and found sewer diagrams that pointed her in the direction of a small section of sewer (inhabited by a Grate-Scratcher market) that would be the likeliest starting point for a Worldshaper aiming to dig into the Curia basement. The Men decided to head there in the morning and cut off the revolutionaries before they could even reach the Curia, while Eustice would be in the Curia itself to help out if things went too far (this decision made in part because Eustice would refuse to go undercover as a Grate-Scratcher or seduce one—he “doesn’t got lower than Iversdotters”).

Deciding to investigate the Curia before things went to hell in the morning, the Men of Real Talent relied on Eustice’s contacts to get in after hours. Eustice found one of his old drinking buddies/lovers, a Meme named Toulouse. As a Meme, a sentient viral thoughtform, Toulouse had a habit of hopping bodies as the mood struck him, and had last encountered Eustice in a female form, though he was now a male Sky-Carver. The energetic, over-the-top, debonair and sexually ambiguous Toulouse [who spoke with an un-acted French accent] was excited to see Eustice, and his first question, upon seeing the Men, was “are we having a party?” Eustice expressed regret that he would be “unable” to have sex with Toulouse in a man’s body, though they considered the notion of an orgy.

Toulouse expressed tremendous interest in Mili and the exciting abilities of her skin, and asked if he could take a turn in her body. She arched her back like a cat and turned him down flat, but he gave her his card in case she changed her mind, and asked for directions to her home Realm so he could try out one of her species. Eustice decided this would be a fine outing, and pledged to take Toulouse on a body-swapping safari.

Having completely forgotten why he was there at the Curia and far more interested in a “fivesome” with Toulouse and his tarts, Eustice had to be reminded of their task, but eventually tore himself away from Toulouse and headed inside. Mili and Gruda headed down to the basement storage area, and discovered, hidden under a crate, a strange symbol scratched into the floor. They determined it was only two or three days old, and, deciding it was probably associated with the revolutionaries (though the idea of Parliamentary “gangs” or secret societies did cross their minds), they scratched it out. At once there was a feeling of pressure, and the Nullcrafting sphere around the Curia came back into effect, cutting them off from their magics. They realized they hadn’t even realized that they still could Craft, even though they knew they shouldn’t be able to in the Curia: with a sense so integral to their beings, they never even think about it until it goes away.

Mili then returned to the main floor and headed into the Council chambers, finding and removing a number of decorative potted plants, burning them in a nearby fireplace so that they could not come to life and kill the Councilors.

The night, already stretched late, drew to a close so that the Men of Real Talent would be rested for the attack the following day. Mili kept one eye open and slept lightly so that she could keep her Farsharing link on Elleia active, while Gruda and Jonakin slept soundly outside of Toulouse’s apartment—where Eustice rejuvenated himself with a lively fivesome with Toulouse and the tarts.

Notes
Arrulio moves like Quezalcoatl (flying snake with wings). Quezalcoatl the winged snake god exists somewhere in the Realms (Jeremy’s declaration)

Theonides is like the Speaker of the House or Prime Minister (the first among equals in the High Council)

“Bye, kipfish” (Mindy on my deleting of a Leovite image that looked more like a catfish)

Mili’s Realm has an Amazonian, South American/Indian name

Jeremy lied when he says he never stopped Eustice from “getting some”—he put Eustice to sleep one time, and aged a tart by twenty years.

“I think Eustice deserves a fivesome, for the sake of his character arc” -Emlyn

Jonakin: living Viagra dispensary

Women in the City have a “thing” for Bloodshifters—fun options.

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