Orchid was still probing – very VERY carefully – as they headed for the monitoring room and it’s geomantic privacy wards. The child… not only far more essence than he had ANY right to have, he had vast reserves of power buried inside him and there were… other creatures? POWERFUL creatures – in there as well, along with gargantuan essence flows and pools… what in Oblivion?… The flavor was… strange. But it felt… luscious and abundant and a rich mixture with a slight dominance of… peanut butter?
And she was oddly reluctant to even TRY to attack.
That sounded awfully familiar somehow – but she just couldn’t place it. She only went back about six thousand years after all. The child was the WEIRDEST thing she’d seen for many centuries! And certainly a change from her usual routine!
(Orchid) “What ARE you? The Great God of Storage and Shipping Containers? You seem to just… store away essence reserves, and (as she noted that the ward had been keyed rather than broken) you seem to have anything you need – or that anyone asks for! – in that pack…”
She continued puzzling over those essence flows. It seemed so FAMILIAR, but certainly not in connection with a creature!
(Charles) “Oh! The pack is a dimensional storage space, but if I want anything that I don’t have handy I just open a portal to get it in the pack. It seems to upset people less… And the essence reserves are tied into my personal geomancy! Geomancy really is the best place to keep essence reserves!”
Geomancy? Geomancy! No wonder it seemed familiar! It was all around her! She’d just never seen it in a PERSON before, much less so… miniaturized? So very far away? No… Through a kind of forced prospective. The child… was a lens that focused through Elsewhere. A living gateway to a pocket realm that LOOKED small because it was inside him despite being vastly large…
By the Primordi…
Primordial? Was that even POSSIBLE?!?!
(Orchid) “Yeah, good to know, but still . . . what are you?”
Charles was faced with a dilemma! A direct question! And it looked rather like “I don’t know” was… not going to fly.
(Charles) “Well… I’m Aden Shining Dream! Creation needs a lot of fixing, and somebody has to do it!”
There! Both were quite true, even if they weren’t strictly related.
Orchid blinked, and went deer-in-headlights for a moment.
(Orchid) “OK, so you’re Aden Shining Dream. Good, I’ve got a name. That still doesn’t answer just what you are METAPHYSICALLY. Which is to say… Primordial, Exalt who’s dipped deep into geomancy, or something else entirely?”
(Charles) “Well, the Sidereals mostly seem to think I’m a Young Primordial; they may or may not be right of course… I’m not really sure there! (Doubtfully) We could ask some of the third circles, but they just say I have to make up my own mind about that sort of thing!”
(Orchid, a bit weakly) “I thought I was sensing devas in there…”
(Charles) “Ooh, you’re GOOD at that! Most people can’t sense them at all from the outside!”
(Orchid) “Kid-Aden-I eat Essence every day. If I don’t know the nature of every single mote, it could be the end of me. Anyway . . . no, let’s not ask your Third Circles. That’ll have the scarabs on us in minutes. So… what do you want to know? I think you had questions too.”
(Charles) “What all of you needed! Once everybody knows what everybody needs you can usually work up a way that everyone gets what they need and that’s another thing fixed! You said you couldn’t tell me what it was about until you had some armor and a private place…”
(Orchid) “Well… the bosses don’t tell us that much, so I’ll have to start with me. I would like some armor for my other bodies . . . and maybe enough for a patrol group. The one you’re curing’s about as big as we run for that.”
(Charles) “Well.. Ok, but wouldn’t it be nicer to stick with your own body?”
(Orchid, shaking her head) “Hey, it’s not like we can go above ground safely, much less out of the pure quarters. If I didn’t have some preserved, I’d be a LOT less effective at my job.”
(Charles) “The pure quarters?”
Orchid extended her arms and waved them both behind and in front of her.
(Orchid) “All around you, kid. And pretty much extending for… a good while, give or take a few spots.”
(Charles) “What are they purified from?”
(Orchid) “I’m not sure. The bosses don’t talk about that too much; they say it’s above my rank. I just know I’m a lot more comfortable here, and that what I’m doing counts as a domain-ow! Damn. There goes that Charm I told you about… I didn’t think it was THAT sensitive!”
(Charles) “I think I know that one! Would you like different armor? I have a few Behemoth Cloaks laying around…”
(Orchid) “Yeah, that would be nice… I thought those were legendary though!”
(Charles) “I ran some up a few weeks ago!”
Her jaw dropped… in both bodies.
(Orchid) “Multiples?!?!… Never mind. I’ll take one.”
Charles went back to the pack…
(Orchid) “Okay, thanks. So what were you doing down here in the first place, other than thinning down our forces?”
(Charles) “I was looking for Terapishim! He’s supposed to start working at Arcosanti soon, and help me get more gods back to having domains, and somebody snatched him. Besides, he has a nice beard!”
(Orchid) “Terapishim… Terapishim… thought I’d heard that name… oh yeah! No wonder Ninety-Six Lotus was in such a fit about you! I was wondering about that raid.””
(Charles) “Aw! I try not to upset people! They can just come talk if they’re worried! Worries need fixing too!”
(Orchid) “Sigh… every bit the diplomat. Look, what was his old rank?”
Mountain ranges ARE important; Terapishim was of the (low) fourth rank.
(Orchid) “Ah, hell. I’m not sure, but it looks like your friend’s being used as a lure.”
(Charles) “For me?”
(Orchid) “You, those nutty Sidereals who’re attempting to spread the other geomancy, celestial lions… I wouldn’t know.”
(Charles) “Oh. The sidereals are trying to spread the geometric stuff? It’s newer then.
(Orchid) “Well, now that my Destiny Sponsorship is down for sure… the way they talked, I got the feeling Yu-Shan was once all like this. My boss, at least, sounded that way.”
(Charles) “Well… in the beginning it was only the Primordials – and there were only about fifty of them, well under a thousand devas, and only about six thousand second circles – so most of the city was… pretty empty. You know, I never thought about that! Why so much space for so few? The Primordials all had world-bodies anyway, and mostly kept them in Elsewhere with their souls aboard. What was the POINT of Yu-Shan? A private clubhouse and games parlor doesn’t need to be the size of a continent… And they copied the model for the Blessed Isle… Yu Shan is one of the biggest reality engines ever built. The original control nexus for building Creation – and since it’s suspended in Elsewhere, it has access to plenty of alternate spaces to build more worlds in. That would be how the Dragon Kings managed to create their refuge! They had the survivors up here access the creation engines – they’d have access predating humanity – and construct their refuge!
That’s kind of neat, even if it really is only a theory as of yet! But it would also explain the elaborate seals on substations like this; they’re part of the control system… If the dragon kings did use them…. you probably only need a few thousand controllers to start the construction process once the geomancy is fully powered up! And, since Gaia is partially embodied in Creation, it can be used to… expand Primordial World-Bodies. That could be quite handy! And it could be why the Unconquered Sun was so eager to move in and take over – and it was only AFTERWARDS that they bound the Yozi’s; they needed Yu-Shan to make it stick. The Games of Divinity… A consciousness-directed world construction simulator with full awareness? That would be something the Primordials could handle by spreading the load, but which would be utterly fascinating for the Incarnae, and a devastating overload for anyone less powerful…
Orchid listened patiently – as a dancing goddess turned greater deiphage, all that speculation was a little bit out of her field. Nonetheless, it was about Yu-Shan, so…
(Orchid) “But… that’s silly! There’s no way that could be…”
(Charles) “Well, it does fit most of the oddities and explains a lot of things!”
(Orchid) “Kid, that would make my boss among the oldest gods in Yu-Shan.”
(Charles) “It should have some testable consequences… And your boss might well be; he IS deeply entwined in the geomancy of Yu-Shan isn’t he? The only way to get THERE at all readily is to be a part of the geomantic system from the beginning! And the Incarnae did purge most of the gods who’d actually been involved in Yu-Shan before the war…”
(Orchid) “OK, I was waffling on whether to do this… but I need to get to the bottom of this. The way you’ve acted so far, sleeping someplace secluded around here – and outside one of those damn Sidereal Manses! – isn’t going to faze you, right?”
(Charles) “Nope! The devas will watch for me!”
(Orchid) “Right… I’m going to tell my boss about you. You’re probably going to get a dream visit sometime, so be ready for it.”
(Charles) “OK! I usually sleep at the Orrery or Dudael, but they’re not warded against dreams particularly – or at least Dudael will let it through if I ask!”
Orchid looked towards her patrol – or her former patrol – and shook her head.
(Orchid) “Right then… you’re going to let me keep this body, right? I need it to get this cloak home.”
(Charles) “Well… It would be nice to have everyone using their own bodies, but it’s been going on for millennia, and I guess there’s no rush about finding solutions there!!
(Orchid) “Not as long as they keep trying to kill us… anyway, thanks for not doing that, kid. I’d better be on my way before they start screaming for the lions.”
(Charles) “I think they’d want to get back to a “controlled” area first anyway, Thank you for the information though! It’s always fun to get a new theory! And, if you can, please send Terapishim back or let me know who to talk to about it!”
(Orchid) “I don’t know who Lotus’s boss is. We’re not part of the same cell. My boss would probably know, though.”
(Charles) “Could you pass the word? I could always trade something!”
(Orchid) “Oh, I believe it kid. One last thing, though: how are you going to fix that wall?”
(Charles) “The adamant one?”
(Orchid) “Yeah… I was going to have another god fix it, but now that you’ve cured them…”
Well, they were leaving anyway! Charles pulled all the pieces back together and used some terrestrial-level transmutation to rejoin it back as it was.
(Charles) “Well…. Be fixed!”
(Orchid) “Wow… if you are an Exalt, you’re a powerful one. Thanks. I’ll lock the door; we wouldn’t want to lose this station.”
(Charles) “I didn’t have time to sort out all the controls and symbolism anyway! Besides, I think there were control levels designed to only respond to particular groups!”
(Orchid) “Sharp kid. Anyway, I’d better get going.”
(Charles) “Have a nice time!”
Orchid activated the Cloak of the Wyld Lands function to blend near-perfectly into the adamant, and departed – reflecting somewhat on “Have a nice time”. She hadn’t heard THAT line in eons…
If the boy was what he seemed to be… it was well worth losing a patrol for that meeting! The boss might not even be that mad when she reported her findings! If he was an Exalt, he was at least willing to listen. And if he was what the internal geomancy indicated… things might be changing around Yu-Shan at a pace that, quite frankly, terrified her.
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