The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CVII – Copying Errors

On the way to school Charles was thinking about LARGER space-ship designs – and whether or not he could make them with Manses instead. He’d never really thought about THAT before… You could make mobile manses of course; but the traditional way was terribly inefficient; you had to put up a focusing structure that relayed the power to the mobile portion, the only way around THAT would be to… take the demesne along.

Wait! With a powerful enough manse and the right natural-law modifications in an area… that would be fairly simple!

While he was contemplating that idea and sipping his cocoa (and it was very good), he spotted something forming in it… a message in Old Realm calligraphy but contemporary script that simply said “Saigoth Building.”

Ur… what? He didn’t know that one offhand – and he couldn’t think of ANYONE who normally communicated through hot chocolate. That seemed like a REALLY specialized ability! Besides… There were many, MANY buildings in Yu-Shan – more than any known city other than Malfeas could hope to have. Just finding out if there was a “Saigoth Building” was going to take some research!

Wait; should he answer the Cocoa?

Well why not? He spelled out “Where’s that?” in mini-marshmallows…

It was only a few minutes before he got… an apparent view from the place. It looked like an abandoned industrial research district, with dusty streets and long-unused magitech equipment. The Salient of the Unconquered Sun was within viewing distance; from the pictures he’d seen it looked like it was to the south. The perspective seemed to be from about twenty stories up.

That was fairly nearby! (He didn’t notice that he was muttering…)

Harold was busily finishing a reading he’d left undone the previous night.

(Harold) “What’s nearby?”

(Charles) “Oh, some buildings that might have interesting geomancy!”

(Harold) “Neat! (And he looked a bit sad.) It’s too bad I’m not old enough to patrol yet. Maybe in a few years I can go with you!”

(Charles) “Maybe! I always seem to be finding more things to fix though!”

(Harold) “And I can protect you while you fix them!”

(Charles) “That always helps!”

Harold smiled and went back to his reading… Soon enough, they were at school – but since Charles had gotten his assignments in advance in preparation for his trip to the end of Creation (and had already finished with most of them), he was pretty much at loose ends. Harold got pulled aside by some of the other young Half-Castes soon after they arrived, so Charles went to look up that building…

Several hours of research later… It looked like “Saigoth” wasn’t the place’s official name – but it had been marked that way on maps of Yu-Shan for many millennia. It was in the Magitech and Innovations Ward. Back in the First Age, that district had been pretty much a reflection of Meru in the world outside. Vanileth, the Shogun of Artificial Flight, kept his offices here. With the Usurpation and the Contagion the district’s fortunes had descended considerably… The building itself was comparatively short for Yu-Shan; it was only twenty stories and appeared to be some sort of warehouse. It being Yu-Shan, it WAS a pretty solid one – but it was just as decayed and faded as the rest of the neighborhood.

He’d have to go and check it out once school was over!

(Gothmug) “What, you’re following the directions of cups of HOT CHOCOLATE now?!?! What’s next, obligingly following the signs that say “This way Charles! Please step into our trap!”? DON’T BE AN IDIOT! I can’t believe that you are even CONSIDERING this! At least let Malinda do some divining first! Take some bodyguards! Better yet, SEND SOMEONE ELSE! What’s going to happen to all your projects if something happens to YOU? Lots of things will NEVER GET FIXED…”

Malinda was having to use multiple Celestial effects to divine what was in there; she saw lots and lots of books in a deep basement – more than a few with side effects.

(Malinda) “Fortunately, dearie, you’ve protected yourself against most of those… but this whole situation seems off!”

They were pleasantly surprised to find that even Charles had SOME caution! He was planning to send a remote probe or something first. After all, he also had an overseer to talk to… Wait; did the address match on that?

No it didn’t. Oh well!

(Charles, to Gothmug) “Well… will sending an artifact-facsimile with a link do? I’ve really got to figure out how to be in lots of places at the same time!”

(Gothmug, with much relief) “Yes! Anything but blithely walking into a trap!”

(Charles) “Well… OK!”

He whipped one up. Sure, the link wouldn’t let you send anything more than Thaumaturgy – and maybe a few really BASIC charms – through it, and you were limited by the constructs basic abilities for anything else, and there were really quite a lot of limitations… but…

Hm. As a way to be remotely present for a lot of things… that really wasn’t bad. If he set up a manse to allow parallel-processing… sure, feedback limitations would keep you from involving yourself more than once in any single situation or even local area, but that wouldn’t hurt if you were working on widely-separated projects and had the necessary mote reserves and recovery to support all that activity.

He gated his newly-completed remote over to just outside of the (unlocked) main doors of the Saigoth building – and was abruptly very pleased that Celestial construction methods were reasonably sound. The place had several nasty cracks in the walls and definitely hadn’t been clean in a while. There wasn’t an uncracked window in the place.

Hm. He was being watched remotely too! Well, it wasn’t like he wasn’t used to it by now… Whoever was watching was skilled enough to hide from most Exalts, but he had quite a few ways of catching hints…

Well, even if he HAD been summoned by the dark powers of dark chocolate, first things first! It was time to fix the building!

That was easy enough really – although several windows upstairs promptly opened up as he fixed up the structure, as downtrodden gods poked their heads out.

Charles waved cheerily and continued fixing things on his way in. There was a lot to do… Nasty water and fire damage in the lobby and first-floor storage (which had been thoroughly stripped of anything of value), damaged ceilings, battle damage on the stairs (must have been some sort of argument), and lot smore. He had to extend things both up and down! According to Malinda’s scrying, the building had about as many basements as above-ground floors.

The place she’d found with the suspicious books was in sub-basement ten – so he headed on down.

There were gods squatting in the subbasements too (who also, of course, got assistance of various kinds). They actually knew of Charles… beyond the rumor mill, his charity work at the Orrery had made an impression.

They recommended against going further downstairs.

(Charles) “Oh? Why? Somebody sort of asked that I come here… “

(Plumbing God) “Well, somebody’s set up some nasty wards against spirits down there. Even the deiphages won’t come near them.”

(Household Appliance Goddess) “I’m not sure why, though. They don’t seem to be against them.”

(Charles) “Huh! Well… I’m not a spirit, so I guess that that part should be easy enough. Somebody probbably OUGHT to find out why, and I guess I’m elected!”

(Plumbing God) “Okay, I’d heard otherwise. But if you want to, good luck!”

They were polite, if indigent, and offered him tea before he headed down. Charles gladly had some tea – and shared some cakes, and word of some possible upcoming openings…

They were glad to hear about those! That quickly led to a small gathering of unfortunate gods of obsolete or no longer existent technologies. The domains persisted – they were all still kept in museums and records – but they were about as minimal as it was possible to get.

Well, gods could usually adapt to upgrades – and on the primitive planets a lot of older tech would be in use again, at least for a time – hopefully long enough to retry adapting!

Soon enough though it was time to move on – past the improvised stalls and sleeping areas of the fifth sub-basement, and down to the sixth, where he was confronted with a maze of glowing forcefields. The glow was quite deadly to spirits, and the “walls” extended from floor to ceiling. He could hear the now-familar growls and grumbles of deiphages off in the distance – although they seemed a bit more desperate than usual.

Charles promptly sent in a few more remotes, sending them wandering every which way and leaving trails. The maze was pretty intricate!

It wasn’t long before one of the copies came upon a group of deiphages trapped in a room. All of them appeared more sapient than most other deiphages… The leader was wearing something like the “ninja” outfit worn by the Overseer that the Celestial Lions had provided an image of, but didn’t have the telltale adamant skin or orichalcum eyes. There was a remote link connected to that one – and the number on the outfit was “22.”

(Charles) “Er… Hello there! I take it there is a problem?”

(Operator) “Oh! Hey there! Are you a human? You don’t smell like one.”

(Charles) “Nah! This is a remote because I have many things to do! Do you need something?”

(Operator) “Okay… I took this unit down here, when some jerk conjured up this maze that sears spirits. I managed to get most of them in here, but (gesturing to the maze walls’ radius) now we’re stuck in here, and my countermagic’s not working on whatever this is.”

Charles took a look. It was…. some kind of oneiromancy. It was indeed protected against countermagic of up to Sapphire level.

(Charles) “Huh! Dream-Magic! Very unusual!”

(Operator) “Oh, bother. That means SOMEBODY’s running around with fey connections. Listen, let me out, and I won’t even try to eat you.”

(Charles, probing…) “Well, the focus must be around here somewhere…”

It was about a hundred feet off to Duplicate #3′s left – a pebble that shimmered with faint Wyld energies. Desire Circle – Rank 3.

Charles handed out cold iron all around, and had the duplicate go and get it!

It felt warm – and almost fluid.

(Charles) “Huh! Somebody wanted to protect SOMETHING… Maybe in those books?”

It looked like… breaking it, or removing it from the dimension, would disrupt the maze. That was the trouble with oneiromancy of course; find the focus and it was soon over.

(Deiphage) “What books?”

Well, there was no need to break it! Charles had one of his Raksha-analogues use a Wyld Gate from Mardi Gras and pick it up; they could take a look at it at leisure! Uthorian and the other quasi-fey, not to mention the actual fey roaming around, would enjoy studying that one!

(Operator) “What kind of jerk uses that stuff, anyway? Certainly not someone who loves Yu-Shan! Anyway… I take it you had a reason to come down here?”

(Charles) “Oh, I got a message naming the place… I take it all of you are all right? Now no bothering the people upstairs now – but do you need some motes?”

(The Operator, as his remote body brightened up!) “Hey, I’ve heard of you! Didn’t you rejuvenate that Quintessence fountain in the Eastern Petal? Good work! And I would like some motes!”

Charles sent him a hundred or two.

(Operator) “Ahhh… that feels good.”

(Charles) “So why were you down here?”

(Operator) “Since it’s you… I’m Tender-Operator Twenty-Two Warp, like the weaving term. I’m looking for Overseer Six Ebb-or rather, his last remote link. He’s been really unresponsive lately.”

Hm. Six Ebb… Oh! Of course! The one who wanted to restore the Pinnacle of Celestial Supremacy to its original state – a Rank-5 Cytherea demesne.

(Charles) “Oh! I think he’s just been busy!”

(Operator) “Yeah, but normally he responds to messages over the comms.” (He tapped the black hard hat he was wearing.) “Still nothing! What a pain. You haven’t seen him around, have you?”

(Charles) “Well, he was about to start a siege over at the Pinnacle of Celestial Supremacy so I did a bit of domain-restoring!”

(Operator) “WHAT? How in all the directions did you pull that one off?”

(Charles) “I added a dimension-pocket and put in some of the demesnes and manses he wanted!… I’ll have to finish that up after I’m done! I’ve been busy since the other day!”

(Deiphage) “That would explain it sir… if his remote body is currently out of Yu-Shan, of course he wouldn’t be on the comms.”

(Warp) “I’m not sure how the senior Overseer’s going to react to that one… but thanks, Aden! I never thought I’d meet you like this.”

(Charles) “You’re welcome! And why not? Is there anything YOU need?”

(Warp) “Sigh… I’m not sure even you can replace what I’ve lost. Can you make gods?”

(Charles) “Hm. Well sort of! What did you lose?”

(Warp) “Well, I lost my partner during the Occupation. She was a fine Operator, and fell against the (bitterly) Weavers. It wouldn’t be the same without her memories but… I just want her back.”

He knew well enough that actual resurrection was not possible.

Charles… was not so sure! After all… gods didn’t normally die unless slain by special spirit-killing techniques. Since those had no effect unless used to strike the final blow, and motes were basically indestructible and identical, that meant that the effect was to disrupt whatever bond pulled them back together in the appropriate pattern – so the motes scattered, and were absorbed into other patterns, and the pattern was gone. There would be trace essence around the universe, but the god would be dead.

But motes came and went all the time anyway – and the bonds were simply… other motes. So were souls, and graces, and everything else. That meant that, ultimately, identity came down to Pattern.

Could you do precise, mote-by-mote copies of things? Obviously you could with single motes, or simple groups…. but if you could do it with a human, that would… be indistinguishable from a “true” resurrection if you did it after the original was dead. That meant that there had to be a threshold – some point at which some force in Creation locked out duplicates. That would explain why there could be duplicate Raksha, and why they could resurrect themselves unless tied into Creation.

So how close could a copy be? Was there some reason why you couldn’t go wyld-questing for a duplicate that was so close to the original that only that force would ever be able to tell the difference?

Besides… gods spawned and dissolved all the time anyway. Even if you called it “death”, what was really going on was that they were falling apart into tiny bits of divine power that could be swept up into other entities. Now, if they were swept up into a nearby partner, those lingering traces might well lead to a terrible grief and stray memories and a feeling that they were still with you in some ways.

So nothing prevented you from basically cloning a spirit using as many of the individual original parts as possible to provide most of the memories and personality – save, of course, for it being ludicrously difficult. The way gods were structured… all he’d need would be the Essence. The memories, personality, and – perhaps most importantly – purpose should do the rest. Whether or not that was a “resurrection” depended on your definition of “identity”. Some changes would be inevitable; if a domain revived after complete dissolution and the loss of its god, neither god nor domain were the same.

Huh! What would happen if he tried?

There was only one way to find out!

(Charles) “What was her domain?”

(Warp) “Twenty-One Weft was in charge of Isidoros demesnes, and I was in charge of Szoreny ones. Everyone in this petal has suffered domain loss. Everyone. I pray you never know what that feels like.”

(Charles) “Ah. Well, first things first… Where would you like to stick the entry-way to some demesnes?”

Warp had to consider that. He was quite fidgety, and indecisive…

(Warp) “Not here. Maybe in the underground near here, where we entered the basement.”

He pointed that out.

(Charles) “All right then!”

He set Warp up with his own pocket dimension.

(Warp, as he looked over the silvered leaves and twisting reflections of the demesne.) “Beautiful. Just as beautiful as the gravitational field of hers. I… I never thought I would see that geomancy again.”

(Charles) “It is pretty!”

(Warp) “I don’t want to leave… but I have to report back to the senior Overseer.”

(Charles) “Well, one minute… You’ll want to attune yourself to a couple of the manses first!”

He’d set up the usual multi-presence energy-sourcing effect.

(Warp) “Which will… oh, bless the Mighty Ones, this makes feeding obsolete! Thank you.”

(Charles) “Oh you’re welcome… Now, for the last bit… Certain traces have remained with you, entrapped in your aura – so I’ll need to look closely and fish them out…”

Charles basically decided to try a quick wyld stunt and wyld quest for someone who was (1) pretty much impossible to tell from the “original” and who (2) would automatically absorb and incorporate the remaining memories and fragments of the original that were available – and then pulled another wyld stunt to ensure that she had a duplicate set of memories before whipping up the appropriate panoply.

Warp was happy to help with that: Operator’s vestments identical to his own, except with a “21,” a pack of needles for manipulating geomancy, and – for her – a bracer than generated force blasts which were not as unstoppable as the Black Boar’s charges, but were pretty close!

Those – and the white tunic and pants, to be worn beneath the vestments – were easy enough!

That… resulted in one female-form Tender, looking very confused.

Was that a “resurrection”? He still wasn’t sure! Sure, there had been an interruption in consciousness, and bits of the substructure had been replaced in the interval… but that happened to humans every time they went to sleep and woke up later. Was there a difference between “copy” and “original” that actually meant anything under these circumstances? Especially when the copy was set up to absorb any remaining traces of the original? “Life” and “Death” were such vaguely defined terms anyway; they meant different things for Plants, and Humans, and Spirits, and Raksha, and Primordials. What WAS unique? Oh well!

(Charles) “Allo!”

(Duplicate Twenty-One Weft) “Where am I? Where are the Weavers and the blasted lions? I’LL TRAMPLE THEM ALL!”

(Charles) “Nah, it’s about thirty thousand years too late for that! And things will all be sorted out soon enough!”

(Warp, once he became coherent after bursting into tears) “I missed you so much!”

(Weft) “Pant… pant, okay, who are you and what happened? If you chose to visit Yu-Shan NOW, you couldn’t have picked a worse time! You need to evacuate with the others.”

(Charles) “Well, that was more than thirty thousand years ago… What was going on?”

(Warp) “Weft…”

(Weft) “Oh, well that’s just great! I guess they tossed us out?”

(Charles, gently) “You should remember the last bit of that if you haven’t blocked it out…”

(Weft) “What? I remember one of those purple glowing Weavers disappearing, and then I was here! I TOLD you that letting them in was unwise…”

(Charles) “Well… you got scattered on the motonic level. I pulled you out of timeless chaos; motes are replaced all the time, so it’s the pattern that’s important – so the question of “identity” is a… pointless theoretical one I think.”

(Warp) “He… killed you. Your ichor splattered all over me, and I ran in terror… We’re taking Yu-Shan back, though!”

(Weft sat down on the ground.) “At least there’s Primordial Essence here, wherever that is.”

(Charles, absently) “Actually I think just adding a stepwise sub-coordinate to Yu-Shan’s dimensional coordinates in Elsewhere might be enough to let everyone have a suitable aspect.”

(Weft) “So… this is connected to Yu-Shan, then. I’m going to poke my head out. Care to point me toward the exit?”

Warp did so – and they were both quite sad to discover that she couldn’t leave – or at least couldn’t leave to anywhere in Creation; the portal was like rock to her.

Hm… Now THAT was strange! She SHOULD be like any other person coming in out of the Wyld as far as Charles knew…

Wait! One of the common errors on the Loom of Fate was for someone to be both alive and dead – and it could be resolved either way; ergo the Loom likely had some relationship to the rules of life and death. Was her pattern locked out of Creation? But if that was… Ah! The Loom prevented loops! Creation was a FINITE mass of interacting patterns, and it was possible that – once within the system – even the Primordials could wind up trapped in a series of patterns that would ultimately prove cyclic! As patterns were discarded within the system, they were locked out – which meant that – in the end – Creation would shut down (once more releasing the Primordials into the Wyld) when it’s possibilities were exhausted unless revised and expanded! The Cataclysm of the Three Spheres had been a partial shutdown, and it was no wonder that the Reshaping had stopped! It had been… constrained to before pattern duplication above the critical level would have occurred!

No, wait, even at 10 to the hundredth power light years it wouldn’t have been near that really – but it might become a factor much sooner than it would have otherwise!

(Charles) “Hm… well, that’s awkward! The Loom has you classified as “dead” and won’t let you back into Yu-Shan!”

(Weft) “It’s… how King Theion decreed things should work. Shameful that they used that against us!”

(Warp) “You’re alive, here. That’s the only thing that matters.”

(Charles) “Hm. I think… that perhaps I’d better not really meddle with that until I’m sure of what the consequences would be! I’m afraid you may be stuck here for a bit – but it is about four thousand square miles at the moment, so it shouldn’t get confining too quickly!”

(Warp) “Still, thank you. This… “

He burst into tears again.

(Weft) “Ay, so weepy! Don’t you have work to do outside? The Overseers won’t be pleased if you slack off!”

She hugged him until he calmed down anyway.

(Charles) “Well, you’re welcome! (Sadly) there are so MANY things that need fixing…”

And probably side effects with this particular fix! Obviously enough, if it was the loom locking things out… What would importing a new set of Exaltations have done? Were they too strong for the Loom to keep out, or were they subtly different than his universes versions? How many of the dead were out in the Wyld, waiting to come back?

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6 Responses

  1. You managed to actually resurrect someone. In Exalted. In a way that does not break the setting. And actually makes sense.

    Oh god I just realized where you’re going with this. You magnificent bastard.

    • Oh dear. I can think of quite a few possibilities from here along the path of the general crusade to “Fix everything that’s wrong with the cosmos”… What do you have in mind?

  2. It’s not so much planning as taking advantage of opportunities when they come, exploiting whatever loopholes he can find, and experimenting with interesting ideas that come to him. He also builds whatever tools come to him, too-which is quite easy with his abilities.

    Running for such a character isn’t easy, but it sure is fun to watch and see what he does.

  3. [...] CVII – Copying Errors: Hot Chocolate Messages, Charles Develops (some) Caution, Building Repairs, Deiphages and Dream, Primordial Pocket Dimensions, Resurrection versus Duplication, Twenty-One Weft. [...]

  4. [...] CVII – Copying Errors: Hot Chocolate Messages, Charles Develops (some) Caution, Building Repairs, Deiphages and Dream, Primordial Pocket Dimensions, Resurrection versus Duplication, Twenty-One Weft. [...]

  5. […] Twilight Voyages and the Reborn: How death works in Exalted – and a Terrestrial Martial Art designed to defeat it. Also, Death, Gods, and the Loom of Fate. […]

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