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Empire on Ice #39: The Gentlemancer

This week! A rakish rogue known only as the Gentlemancer is transforming the city into a center of manners and culture. What could it all mean? And is mancy all it’s cracked up to be?

[In a pub…]

Grieve: Fuck you!

Bastria: No, fuck you!

Grieve: I said fuck you!

[Enter the Gentlemancer, with attire and manners as would befit a world-class gentlemate. He fires his suave and dapper Couth Ray at them. Suddenly, Grieve's and Bastria's attire become immaculate, and their hair carefully well-made. Grieve gains a monocle and Bastria gains a top hat. The Gentlemancer turns and departs, having never been noticed.]

Bastria: I say, old chum, how about let's settle our differences in a gentlemately manner?

Grieve: I'm listening, good sir.

Bastria: Suppose you should join me on my yacht this afternoon for a sortie around the South Island? We'll have it out to see who can register the fastest time.

Grieve: Why, I do like the sound of that! And afterward let's repair to my country estate where I'll cork a bottle of Imperial 1997 fine whisky!

Bastria: Capital!

* * *

[In an abandoned warehouse…]

Farothar: [Snarf! Gobble gobble!]

Yoshtar: God dammit, Farothar! Don't eat with your fucking knuckles. Use your spoon.

Farothar: Meh.

Yoshtar: I paid 25 jiggities for six thousand goddamn plastic spoons, and yer gonna use 'em!

Farothar: [With pasta sauce dripping down his face.] Do I look like the spoon type to you?

Yoshtar: What if Aroen walks in and sees ya like this?

Farothar: [Inhale! Slurp!] Get lost and let me eat my dinner.

Yoshtar: And use your napkin, will you! Aroen made me in charge of teaching ya some manners. What's he gonna do with me if he sees ya eating like a slob?

Farothar: [Nom! Burp!] Not my problem, punk.

[Enter the Gentlemancer, with attire and manners as would befit a world-class gentlemate. He fires his suave and dapper Couth Ray at them. Suddenly, Farothar and Yoshtar both transform from being a grimy pair of slobs wearing shabby clothes into a couple of the best-dressed mates in Joshalonia, each wearing fine suits and sporting clean-cut faces. Yoshtar has white gloves, and Farothar has a silk handkerchief in his blazer's breast pocket. The Gentlemancer, unnoticed, turns and departs.]

[Farothar looks up from his ravioli and blinks as though he's had an epiphany.]

Farothar: Yoshtar, you clever young rascal! Your jests and snipes have just given me a wonderful idea.

Yoshtar: Verily? Do tell!

Farothar: Something you said has compelled me to see my supper anew. Mayhap it was occasioned by some crumb of dignity, ground in with the reconstituted tomato puree. Or, perchance, it was in fact a morsel of the profound, residing inside these triple-bleached, mass-cut little pasta bits. Whatever the origin, I've just realized that I don't have to go through my life eating Chef J-R-Dee raviolis out of a cold can.

Yoshtar: 'Tis truth! You must share your vision in its entirety now.

Farothar: I could do anything. I could eat anything. Why, I could make a béchamel! Pour it over freshly-cut ravioli, with tomatoes from Afiach's garden!

Yoshtar: From her garden, that's a splendid idea! First rate, old boy.

Farothar: Why, this is only the beginning. I've been gormless my whole life, but now…now I'm going to be a gourmet.

* * *

[In a bank…]

DeLatia: For the third and final time, I said I wanted to withdraw $5,007! Now open up your cash register and hand over my money.

Iyus: And I'm telling you for the third and hopefully final time, that without a previously scheduled withdrawal we have a $5,000 daily withdrawal limit.

DeLatia: Fuck you!

Iyus: Oh, come on! I don't make the rules.

DeLatia: I can see that. The only thing you make is excuses!

Iyus: Do you really think I enjoy getting paid twenty jiggities an hour to stand behind this counter and get insulted by entitled assholes who think they're Queen of the Earth?

[DeLatia grabs him by the throat and Iyus grabs her by the throat. Enter the Gentlemancer, with attire and manners as would befit a world-class gentlemate. He fires his suave and dapper Couth Ray at them. Suddenly Iyus' drab bank uniform becomes a double-breasted herringbone suit and DeLatia's attire becomes a full-length stately red and black dress. She also sports a finely crafted cane with an ivory and gold tip in the design of a lion. The Gentlemancer turns and departs, having gone completely unnoticed by everyone.]

DeLatia: Hello! What sort of brusquery have we gotten ourselves into?

Iyus: I can't say I even fathom, Master DeLatia! Surely we took leave of our mutual sanities.

DeLatia: [Brushing the wrinkles out of Iyus' shirt collar.] Well put! Now let our incommodious ignominies fly like winter on the bloom.

Iyus: Pip pip!

DeLatia: You know, I have seven jiggities in my desk at work. I'll just take the five thousand here and make the extra trip to the studio.

Iyus: O, grace! Truly you are the exemplary customer. This resolves our quarrel most amicably.

DeLatia: 'Tis only a gentlemate's gracious touch.

* * *

[In an ally…]

Tayden: You think you can cross me, Officer?

Diva: Looks like I did.

Tayden: You really think you can just masquerade as one of my people, get all the way to me, flash your badge, and have it all be okay?

[She points her gun at him.]

Diva: Yep.

Tayden: Me? Boss of the Imperial Mothafuckin' Bloods, one of the Empire's most notorious street gangs?

Diva: You're going to jail.

Tayden: No, you're going to the bottom of the river.

[Enter the Gentlemancer, with attire and manners as would befit a world-class gentlemate. He fires his suave and dapper Couth Ray at them. Suddenly Tayden and Diva are both transformed into the most elaborate, handsome clothing one could dream to have. Tayden's huge, unkempt beard has become closely shaved and gorgeous. The bags under Diva's eyes are gone, replaced farther down by an exquisite silver brooch on her chest. The Gentlemancer turns and leaves, unnoticed.]

Diva: Tut tut! Let's not bicker like peasants.

Tayden: O, I do concur, my most honorable constable.

Diva: This whole gang business—it's simply garish.

Tayden: It is, isn't it? I've gone rather daffy in my proclivities of late, 'twould seem.

Diva: Let's make haste out of this unsavory alleyway and into a stiff brandy at 13 Donalds Metropolitan Gentlemates Club. Then we can figure out how to sort everything for the good the Empire.

Tayden: Let's do!

* * *

[In much quicker succession now…]

[At a podium, where Random Maelstrom is giving a speech…]

Random: And so it would seem that, in response to our campaign platform of insults and threats, we have now lost 90 percent of our seats following yesterday's elections. My response to this is a solemn vow to use our remaining power to gum up the political process so that nobody can have anything they want!

[The Gentlemancer appears, does his thing, and leaves.]

Random: Or at least that's what I would say if I were uncouth. Instead, I humbly accept the pronouncements of the electorate, and will immediately turn my efforts toward benefiting charitable organizations.


[In a well-appointed corporate executive office, with leather and bookshelves all around, where Grave is having lunch with Virn…]

Grave: Surely we can work something out? Perhaps over a few links on the golf course? Or maybe a game of polo?

Virn: Oh, I'm afraid I don't play polo.

[The Gentlemancer appears, does his thing, and leaves.]

Virn: Rather, what I mean to say is that I most certainly DO play polo!


[At the JNN anchor desk, where Esmeul is reading the evening news headlines…]

Esmeul: —where a curious figure known only as the Gentlemancer has been reported from around the city to have caused sudden transformations of great culture and sophistication in even the crudest individuals.

[The Gentlemancer appears, does his thing, and leaves.]

Esmeul: And now, three hours of footage from today's Imperial Springtide Dog Show, where Miss Fluffy Fetching undercut the frontrunner Winston "Barks" Dupree in a surprise rout!


[On a comfy but decidedly inelegant couch, Silence is still in her morning robe and puffy slippers. She's eating crispy grocery store chow mein noodles straight from the bag, drinking a can of cherry cola through a straw, and watching The Meme Channel…]

[The Gentlemancer appears and points his suave and dapper Couth Ray at her, but before he can fire it—]

Silence: [Without looking at him.] Don't even think about it.

Gentlemancer: Well played.

[The Gentlemancer leaves.]


[At a football stadium parking lot, with lots of uncouth automobiles and bumpkin sports fans milling about the lot, hooting, and drinking cheap beer…]

[The Gentlemancer arrives. He fires his Couth Ray at the entire venue. The stadium is replaced by an opera hall, and the fans in the parking lot are replaced by well-dressed aficionados of the arts. The blacktop is replaced by bricks, and the parking lot lights now look much more elegant.]


[At a pork rinds factory, the Gentlemancer arrives and fires his Couth Ray at the whole factory. It transforms into a caviar factory.]


[At a radio transmission tower, we hear country music playing. The Gentlemancer arrives and fires his Couth Ray at the tower. Now we hear fine classical music.]


[At the House of Mooks, one of the two houses of the Imperial Legislature, we find a chaotic scene where everybody is yelling at everybody else incomprehensibly, though we can make out the occasional uncouth insult. The Gentlemancer arrives and fires his Couth Gun. The mindless squabbling and incomprehensible yelling continues, but now everybody is wearing powdered wigs and the few bits of speech we can parse are quite elegantly phrased.]

* * *

[At a supermarket checkout, Thanatos is putting a box of pre-washed lettuce onto the conveyor belt. The Gentlemancer arrives, fires his Couth Ray at the box of lettuce—while it is still in Thanatos' hand—and this time he doesn't leave, instead remaining beside Thanatos and sporting a haughty grin.]

[Thanatos looks at the box and sees that it is now a box of pre-washed arugula. Without realizing it, he now also has an elegant smoking pipe in his mouth, as well as lace under the cuffs of his sleeves. Still looking at the arugula, he blinks. Then he looks over at the Gentlemancer, who continues grinning at him.]

Thanatos: Not funny.

Gentlemancer: Oh, but isn't it, Necromancer?

Thanatos: This is about the daffodils, isn't it?

Gentlemancer: You killed my prize daffodils! Killed them!

Thanatos: You're rather limited in the ways you can exact revenge, aren't you?

Gentlemancer: Why, I've wreaked a veritable havoc upon your poor little city!

Thanatos: What, by making everything nicer and more polite?

Gentlemancer: Exactly! What now, Necromancer! What now! Ho ho ho! Tooraloo!

[Exit the Gentlemancer.]

[Thanatos takes a few puffs from his pipe before realizing that it's even there and removing it in mild annoyance. But then he thinks things over for a moment, and sets the arugula back down on the checkout conveyor belt, before smartly ruffling the lace under his cuffs and straightening his collar.]

Thanatos: Definitely preferable to the Nickelbackmancer.

O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!