The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice IC – The Lions Of Times Long Past

In Yu-Shan poor Lytek was facing a sort of low-key office rebellion – or at least a lot of doubts and resistance. He was a likeable boss – but that business with the Devas had a lot of the office gods worried! Quite a few of the possible explanations for the God of Exaltation cooperating with Devas in meddling with a Shard were not at all comforting…

Especially since the news of the doubling up of the Celestial Exalted had leaked among the staff. The old rumors that forces loyal to Autochthon was loose in Yu-Shan had now been upgraded to reports of Jouten or Spying Souls… After all; who ELSE had ever created a set of Exaltations?

Naturally enough the Celestial Lions were involved – and had observed enough to deduce a connection to Charles rather than Autochthon. They’d concluded that he was almost certainly a Solar Exalt long ago – it wasn’t a big step from “Uber-Artificier, can operate a Solar-oriented Factory Cathedral at something like it’s full potential or above” to “likely Solar”. Even if he WASN’T a Solar, he was clearly something that operated on that scale, or higher – and he was so blatantly utterly benevolent that it hurt. No threat unless he did something utterly stupid with that power.

Still… his activities were getting entangled in higher politics and concerns. It was definitely time to talk to him!

Meanwhile, Charles was doing more work to get ready to leave – surveying locations on earth for three more elemental-pole manses to balance the energy flows. After all, since the location wouldn’t make a lot of difference, Lytek hadn’t quite decided where he wanted the gate-manse to try to get into the Shard – and he had lots of things to work on until he did… Charles didn’t really want it in Aden – he didn’t want to give those kinds of energies a direct link to him – and there might be security problems outside Yu-Shan and location problems within it. He could put it in a Chancel with the doorway in Yu-Shan though… Wait. He could put several helpful manses in the Chancel first. Should he set it up at the Orrery? No, wait… Lytek might want it in his office! That way he could maintain really tight control on it – “Oh, the cabinet has a secret door on the back, I never told anyone…” – and it might be handy for him to have several manses, and a horde of secret minions with fairly formidable powers, immediately to hand. With that and some hearthstones – a freedom stone and protection from various other restraints – he might even feel secure enough to actually meet some Sidereals again sometime… (Hearthstones would sparkle prettily in his power-aura too). Oh! And initiation into Adenic Thaumaturgy! That would give him extra defenses! (He should have set that up long ago!) And having a couple of thousand fairly high-essence divine guards on immediate call would do a lot for feeling secure on top of the guardians he already had!

That would please the Sidereals too… while they can do a lot with Lytek over remote channels, there were certain things that he and they really needed physical contact for.

Charles was in the depths of the Yukon when his dimensional cell phone rang… A secured, blocked, connection.

(Charles) “Allo!”

(Chengdu) “Hey, Charles, are you busy?”

(Charles) “Uhm… Just some geomantic surveying! Do you need something?”

(Chengdu) “Yeah, me and some of the other lions needed to chat with you. Mind coming back up?”

(Charles) “OK! Where are you?”

(Chengdu) “Well… we’re all up in Yu-Shan. Xiaoxiao figured we could talk at his place, since he’s got the biggest office.”

(Charles) “OK! Just a minute!”

Charles headed back to Aden, popped over to Yu-Shan gate, went to Yu-Shan, and popped over via amulet – which was quieter than wyld-stunting his way over.

(Charles) “Allo! What’s up?”

Celestial lions’ offices were adjusted for their non-human forms. The desk and writing table were low, shelves were at front-paw level, and there were pillows for sitting, as opposed to chairs. The office was, of course, opulent – most notable were the shelves with of scrolls. The Lions had had a servant prepare milk and sandwiches, with an emphasis on meat. Charles had no objection there, although he liked his better done…

The Celestial Lions had asked the servants to have Charles’s cooked more, but since the cook was a god of rare meat cuts…

Charles quietly made it better done.

(Chengdu) “I won’t waste your time, Charles. What’s going on between you and the Right Hand of Power at the moment?”

(Charles) “Uhm… part of that’s his domain business! I don’t know how much detail I’m allowed to provide really… Can I ask him? Or is this all in confidence?”

(Xiaoxiao) “Confidence. (Sighing) You see, we got a report about him. A prompt one, even!”

(Charles) “Oh dear! Somebody in the offices? That’s not very nice of them! I would have hoped for more loyalty after thirty-five thousand years or so…”

(Chengdu) “Well… that’s just the way things are. At first we figured it was the usual politics. I know you’re the type who pays attention in history class, so you know the drill. But when we heard he was consorting with Primordial souls, we perked our whiskers.”

(Xiaoxiao) “And then when we looked deeper, and asked around, we heard you were involved somehow. We couldn’t get THAT much out of our sources – they have that much loyalty to Lytek. So we thought we’d ask you.”

(Chengdu) “So… what in the blazes is going on?”

(Charles) “Uhm… Well, they aren’t really any problem! They were just helping me do some investigation work! Is that OK?… Righteous Hala was there too, so I suppose you could check with her about things!”

(Xiaoxiao) “We already spoke to her. Lunars are slippery, you know? She said they never stepped up here, and the reports from the Crimson Panoply back that up. Is that the case?”

(Charles) “You mean in Yu-Shan? No, we were working over on a planet about ten to the sixtieth light years out.”

(Xiaoxiao) “I see. Could you tell us more about these souls?”

(Chengdu) “Yeah… reports said they weren’t doing anything bad, but they were giving off a big Primordial signal to Essence senses.”

(Charles) “Well… I was working with Chaffri the Traveler, and Baalmug lord of the Baalgrogs was keeping an eye out for trouble, and Malinda the Diviner and Uthorian of Chaos were helping probe mostly – but they wouldn’t make any problems!

(Chengdu) “Um… I don’t recall any of those, Xiaoxiao. You’re the scholar in our group; do they ring a bell?”

(Xiaoxiao) “No… but the way the kid’s talking about them, it’s like they’re friends or…”

He looked pointedly at Charles.

(Charles) “ Well… we could do introductions if you like!”

(Xiaoxiao) “The Solars made some crazy things in the First Age, but nothing like THAT!”

(Charles, with interest) “Like what?”

(Chengdu) “One time, for the Carnival of Meeting, this Twilight Caste made a magnificent diorama depicting one of the battles of the Primordial War he’d fought in. Thing was, if you didn’t want to see it, or hear it, you didn’t! Most ingenious way of getting around the disturbance regulations I ever saw.”

(Charles) “That’s clever!… Hey, as long as we’re talking about secrets… Why is the fact that the Deiphages outnumber the rest of the gods two or three to one being kept secret?”

(Xiaoxiao, letting out a long, drawn-out sigh…) “You didn’t hear it from me, kid, but… we’re losing the battle against them. That’s pretty obvious to you, I’d say.”

(Charles) “Needs fixing!”

(Chengdu) “I’ll say. If the Tenders boot us out, all our hard work will have gone down the drain.”

(Xiaoxiao) “Thing is, the Bureaucracy actually realizes it. Hell if they’ll come up with a solution in time, though the Bureau of Heaven DOES have evacuation procedures.”

(Charles) “Tenders? And why would they boot you out? Your presence in Yu-Shan is… mostly neutral I think… Using too much power?”

(Xiaoxiao) “OK, kid. You know the lesser deiphages, right? You’ve probably gotten enough of them cured… How are you doing that, anyway? Like I said before, the only people I’ve seen do that before are certain Bronzer Sidereals, and they’re a lot less generous with it than that.”

(Charles) “Oh yes!”

(Chengdu) “What do you know about greater deiphages? I just want a basis here, before Xiaoxiao and me continue.”

(Charles) “They need fixing too! That constant energy drain on them is not at all nice!”

(Chengdu) “Whole city needs fixing… too bad I don’t know any more about that than you do.”

For once Charles actually had the sense to keep quiet for the moment.

(Xiaoxiao) “OK. You know how the greater deiphages are the ones who keep their wits, I’d say… thing is, there’s two kinds of them.” (He held up two fingers on his paw.) “First kind’s easy enough to deal with… IF you can get them and not a controlled body. Just like any other god, except hungry. But the second… well, we go back a long ways, and it’s not good.”

(Chengdu) “Back when we were still humanoid, really. THOSE are Tenders.”

(Xiaoxiao) “You could say they represent the old order.”

(Chengdu) “They’re the source of the problem. They’re why we’re lions, and not humanoids any more.”

Charles was paying careful attention! This was all new!

(Xiaoxiao) “See, back when we arrived in Yu-Shan, the Sun had just made us gods. Gave us protection against the geomancy and told us to make the place safe for our new peers. We were grateful to him for taking care of the death problem – and he was the Sun! You can’t say no to him.”

(Charles) “So the local geomancy was intended to drive out gods who weren’t… made to live here I take it?”

(Chengdu) “You’ve got it. Now in those days, there was barely anything up here. You had the Jade Pleasure Dome and some other buildings, but other than that? Just obsidian paths made by Jacint, a whole lot of Primordial demesnes, and the canals and underground.”

(Chengdu) “We built this city. You didn’t need me to tell you that but… even after all these millennia, I’m proud of my work.”

(Xiaoxiao) “We all are, kid. But it wouldn’t have happened if the Tenders had their way. The first encounter we had with one was when we were removing a Kimberry demesne. We’d just set up the capstones and geomantic conduits when he appeared in the middle of the place… Chengdu, you were good at Illusion thaumaturgy back then. Think you can still whip up a visual aid?”

(Chengdu) “I’ll try to remember. It’s been a while.”

Chengdu concentrated and held out a paw, adjusting himself on his pillow. A faint image appeared of a figure in a full bodysuit – it reminded Charles an awful lot of a ninja without a facemask. The outfit’s material appeared to be blackened adamant, and the figure was also wearing a black jade hardhat. The face was exposed, revealing a figure with adamant skin and orichalcum eyes which quite reminded Charles of Ten Peach. The number on the back of the suit was different though: it was the Old Realm character for “6.”

(Chengdu) “Anyway… next thing we knew, he’d drawn some needles from those pockets in his suit.” (The illusory figure drew some from his pockets, five in total.) “We thought he was going to throw them at us or something, so those of us who had combative skills back then swarmed him. Figured we could hold him off until the lion dogs arrived to back us up.”

(Xiaoxiao) “Guess where he actually tossed them. Just guess.”

(Charles) “Into the ground?”

(Chengdu) “Yeah. Seems obvious in hindsight, but we were new to our power, and cocky, like a lot of Exalts. Place went up in a blast of Essence. Now, not all of us were there, but it did put a dent in our work.”

(Xiaoxiao) “So yeah, that was our first encounter with a Tender-Overseer! When we woke up in our new sanctums the next day, we began thinking of countermeasures. Trouble was, we didn’t know the place like they did at the time.”

(Chengdu) “But we kept at it. We stayed out of that one and his partner’s territory-the Fulgent Administrative District – and worked in other areas. It was still slow going until the Sun and Autochthon started the treatment.”

(Xiaoxiao) “You could call it the first step of our transformation into what we are today. See, you know the story of how the Sun rewarded us with these bodies for our work?”

(Charles) “Yep!”

(Chengdu, shaking his head) “A necessary lie. It gradually happened while we were working, to give us a fighting chance against their control of the geomancy. Some of us worked while the others held the line.”

(Charles) “And with the sun not doing much any longer… they’re making a gradual comeback?”

(Xiaoxiao) “Thing about the… let’s not mince words, natives… is, they’re a lot like us. I hate to admit it, but they want to ensure this place’s safety too. And they’re patient, and determined, and think the geomancy we built is their enemy.”

(Chengdu) “Back then, we weren’t aware that they could control other gods. How could we be? They wanted us out, not under their thumbs. The first time we caught a deiphage leader, and it WASN’T a Tender, we were shocked.”

(Xiaoxiao) “And independent, too. Don’t forget that. I’m not sure how they do it, but they RECRUIT.”

(Charles) “I see… Do they insist on driving you out, or just make the place unpleasant?”

(Xiaoxiao) “I don’t even know! They show signs of wanting to add us to their ranks, but they’d have to get around the immunity first. At the same time, they’re stopping at nothing to disrupt the geomancy we built.”

(Chengdu) “And it’s working… over millennia, but it is working. And the only people who seem to give a damn are some eccentric gods and the Bronze Faction. We try to help maintain it, but our new duties keep getting in the way.”

(Charles) “Hm! I’ll have to see what can be done to settle things down!”

(Xiaoxiao) “Not that those duties aren’t important, but if we’re the only non-deiphages left in the city, they’ll stop being important.”

(Charles) “That definitely needs some sorting out! The clash is leading to all kinds of power-supply problems too isn’t it?”

(Chengdu) “Like you wouldn’t believe. The Bronzers sometimes help us out with that, but you know how busy the Sidereals are these days.”

(Xiaoxiao) “Makes the Age of Sorrows look like the Carnival of Meeting, that.”

(Charles) “And an awful lot of time is having to go for training too these days.”

(Xiaoxiao) “Yeah… I might be busy as a lion, but at least I don’t have to deal with their schedules.”

(Chengdu) “Don’t jinx it. At the rate things are going, we’ll have to test out those evacuation plans.”

(Charles) “Hhrm… I think I might have an idea; All we’ll need is an aspect-overlay…”

(Xiaoxiao) “Well, we’re all ears.”

(Charles) “ Well… they want their version and you want yours – but we are suspended in Elsewhere, and have lots of directional options that can be superimposed… repairing and modifying the local manses should be more than enough to impose one!”

(Chengdu) “You can’t be that powerful! Even for a Solar, that’s a ridiculous area to shape. On the other hand, you DO seem to consider Primordial souls friendship material.”

(Charles) “Oh, you don’t have to shape it! It should be possible to chain it through the local manses and dragon lines… Just like the walk-in aquarium! You stay in the dry reality, thre fish stick with the wet one!”

(Xiaoxiao) “That’s still a bit much… unless you have a really delicate hand with this stuff. And don’t forget, Chengdu-that boat Pure Frothing Delight is trying to register was made at his facility… So what’s the plan?”

(Charles) “Well… hopefully it will hang together for a few months – although I’ll have to talk to some people first – and I’ll have to check with Gaia again, and work it into the repair ritual!”

(Chengdu) “Well, you’ve got the advantage there of being mortal! I STILL remember what that was like, knowing I would die someday. It motivates you to move fast, that’s for sure!”

(Xiaoxiao) “Wait, Gaia? And who else were you going to talk to? And what’s this ritual going to do?”

(Charles) “Mostly repair the damaged manses! They might blow up otherwise! Then I can open more gates and make more domains available and get everyone jobs again!”

(Xiaoxiao) “We’re going to need details on this. A ritual of this size, affecting the entire place… that’s a pretty big target!”

(Charles) “All by itself it’s a pretty big layout! But OK…”

He laid out scroll after scroll of details and geomantic maps. Fortunately, even after all these years, they were somewhat familiar with the field. Still… this was intricate beyond belief! It should have taken centuries or millennia simply to lay it all out!

(Chengdu) “You’re really going to put the gates with the old Blessed Isle ones? That makes them easy to access to be sure, but that’s going to come as a shock to the Bureau of Heaven.”

(Xiaoxiao) “Well… some of us will have to station themselves there after the shock wears off.”

(Charles) “I was setting up with some extra guards!”

They lions looked over the basic specifications for those…

(Xiaoxiao) “Okay, never mind… these are on par with us. What happens if somebody tries to mind control them?”

(Charles) “They should be protected against that! That’s not nice at all!”

(Chengdu) “What about if somebody hits them with a dissolving touch or something like that?”

(Charles) “The geomancy should cover a lot of that too – but they will have to use charms against some things. There’s no getting around that!”

(Chengdu) “I won’t argue with that!”

(Xiaoxiao) “So geomancy? What geomancy?”

(Charles) “Well, it’s built into the empowering manses on the destination planets!”

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6 Responses

  1. Just wanted to let you know, something seems to have gone wrong with the posting of the entry. It just abruptly stops, instead of ending like the others do. Hopefully someone will see this and become aware of the problem.

    • This entry is still cut off at the end, I know it’s definetly not something on my end.

      • My apologies for the delay in answering; I fear that doing anything at all on the blog wound up on personal problems-hiatus for a bit.

        As far as the cutoff goes… In this case, it’s mostly coincidence; this session got interrupted in the middle, then the log got posted in a considerable hurry (and without explanation of the break), and then there was an unexpected blog hiatus – leaving things hanging. I’m sorry about that – but at least the next segment is now up.

  2. [...] IC – The Lions Of Times Long Past: Lytek’s Office Rebellion, Charles and the Celestial Lions, Another History of Yu-Shan, Overlay Plans. [...]

  3. [...] IC – The Lions Of Times Long Past: Lytek’s Office Rebellion, Charles and the Celestial Lions, Another History of Yu-Shan, Overlay Plans. [...]

  4. […] IC – The Lions Of Times Long Past: Lytek’s Office Rebellion, Charles and the Celestial Lions, Another History of Yu-Shan, Overlay Plans. […]

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