The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXVII – A Fine And Private Place

English: Tibetan Buddhist thangka painting

The Cycle Turns

The Gold Faction’s checking on Charles’s more regular activities soon led them to the Well of Worlds… and to his ongoing terraforming projects, which had now settled into a general routine; a few moments of evaluation and surveying, a few moments for selecting a layout, the incredibly complex triparate global transmutation – lifeseeding – growth genesis spell, and the dispatching of Djinn via the transport shuttles to… set up the cities, manses, and gateways back to Earth and Yu-Shan and to (mostly) return through them when they were done.

Fortunately, the Djinn had rapid-manse-design artifacts and could use Celestial Circle Sorcery – including Raise the Puissant Sanctum. That way it only took a few days – and Charles had enough of them to have a bunch of worlds underway at the same time. Charles was still considering the dyson-sphere-segment manse design… That wouldn’t be needed for quite awhile, but it would necessary eventually!

That was a bit flabbergasting… Not so much that it was possible – the principles were clear enough, even if the complexity would normally have called for a far more piecemeal effort – but the fact that Charles had been able to make a habit of it without creating disturbances in the Loom. Admittedly, geomancy and thaumaturgy were among the most subtle of ways to meddle with the order of things but wouldn’t it… Ah. The patterns of the future, and the possibilities of mortal lives… would simply… branch out, with no great fuss of disturbance. The Loom… could handle Thamuaturgy and Geomancy – apparently even when it was backed by the energies of a Primordial.

The Chosen of Serenity and Journeys definitely approved – and promptly started looking over the maps much like the Terrestrials were still doing – albeit with a more informed perspective. Just how powerful was he – and was he constructing any in areas likely to undergo or currently undergoing fate disruption?

Fortunately, there was a LOT of universe – and Charles did have a Sympathetic Loom and Malinda to watch out for that. All of the worlds so far were in basically uninhabited galaxies, and in areas that SHOULD be stable for the foreseeable future. Things would come up of course – things ALWAYS came up – but he’d arranged matters as best as possible and every world would have it’s gods and manse-guardians to look after it.

Mr Montague had mentioned both Malinda and Charles’s creation of a Sympathetic Loom in his report. So… that was what the child had built one for! And… certain advertisements that some of them had seen in mortal newspapers suddenly seemed a LOT more serious. And… the child’s explanation was simply… “People and other creatures need more room!”

They marked those worlds for classification change on their maps – and inquired as to whether or not he’d be interested in having Half-Castes among the colonists? They were quite useful for monitoring things!

(Charles) “Certainly! Most of them are magically active, and that’s always a useful factor to have among the colonists!”

(Celestial Banner of Azure, Chosen of Secrets of the Gold Faction) “Well… at least Heaven will be able to monitor those worlds once they’re colonized – even if only indirectly!”

(Charles, with some surprise) “Well, they will be getting put onto the transport gate network! That should make it fairly easy!”

Some members of the Silver Faction had also started observing once they’d realized what Charles was up to – and that definitely drew some interest.

(Music from the Heart of Space, Silver Faction Chosen of Serenity) “Wait a moment here! “Transport network?” What transport network?”

(Charles) “Well, planets are of no use if people can’t get there – and linking them back to Yu-Shan as well will open up a LOT of domains for the out-of-work gods!”

There was some incredulity among the assembled Exalts – and Celestial Banner and Music departed rather hurriedly. Dealing with an entire network of gates opening up was going to take some planning!

(Sorina Chisaru, Gold Faction Chosen of Battles) “That’s all well and good, but how are you going to do it in a reasonable amount of time? It will take centuries to get it past the bureaucracy.”

(Charles) “I haven’t quite sorted out what to do about the Bureaucracy yet… Hopefully they will just be sensible! Besides… technically, linking into Yu-Shan with a gate that originates on the planetary end is outside Yu-Shan, and not under their authority!

(Sorina, rubbing her forehead) “We can only hope. But if you don’t have permits, how are you going to stop the lion dogs from doing what they’re supposed to and stopping construction?”

(Charles) “Well, there won’t be any construction on the Yu-Shan end for this part of things!”

(Sorina) “Ah. That solves that then. What about the other part?”

(Charles) “Well, most of what Yu-Shan needs is repair work, rather than new construction, and for that you can just file an update!”

(Sorina) “I see… well, you’ve got your work cut out for you on that.”

(Mr. Montague, who was mostly hanging back and letting Sorina talk) “Unless he’s got a plan for THAT, ma’am! (Noting Charles’s expression) “Charles, DO you have a plan for that? It’d be just like you!”

(Charles sighed) “Well… Yu-Shan needs higher power levels, which means infusing more wyld energies into the substrate, and it has humans, elder gods with older geomancy, and younger gods with newer geomancy to accommodate, so it needs aspects for all of them! Fortunately, five is an easy number to work with; the cosmos tends to consider that a “complete set” and so it represents a potential well in possibility-space.

(Montague) “Elder… gods?”

(Sorina) “What, did you sleep through that part of Ancient Yu-Shan history? He’s talking about the deiphages. I think.”

And she shuddered a bit.

(Charles) “So you just need enough essence channeled into the geomancy and a little guidance to actualize the possibility; it will be a limited overlay because the Loom – and it’s link to the Jade Pleasure Dome – will bind the aspects together at the center, and the gates and dome will bind the edge. It will increase the cities power demands, but the extra influx from another seventy-two worlds and the increased wyld flux at the base level will readily handle that!”

(Mr. Montague) “That seems… tricky! I never heard of anyone doing that before.”

(Ms. Chisaru looked thoughtful for a moment.) “Has anyone asked you to do this?

(Charles) “Gaia said she’d help me get it fixed!”

(Montague) “Huh? You spoke with Gaia?”

(Sorina) “You were the one who pegged him as a possible Primordial, and you’re surprised? She would know about this kind of thing… Did anyone other than the Emerald Mother ask you?”

(Charles) “Well.. the Celestial Lions want the geomancy stabilized, and the Elders want it fixed before they can’t hold it together any more, and there are a couple of groups trying to fix it, but they were silly enough NOT to consult one of the geomancy gods who always succeeds in geomantic analysis and their plans will result in the deaths of most of the inhabitants of Yu-Shan and possibly dissolve the entire realm back into chaos, And the humans would like it stable and with a place for them, and there’s at least one or two other groups who want it fixed before the geomantic collapse begins… It really needs fixing badly!”

(Sorina) “I won’t argue there, but who’s likely to destroy it? Can you tell me? Millions of mortal and divine lives could be at stake here! You can put up a privacy ward if it’s necessary.”

(Charles) “Uhrm… (Well… no one asked him not to tell… but it could get them into trouble!) But they do mean well… It wouldn’t get them into trouble would it?”

(Sorina) “That depends on how soon it’s going to happen. If it’s in the next decade or so… maybe we can work something out. If not, yeah.”

(Charles) “Er… about five months if I don’t fix it first.”

(Sorina, with some shock) “Urgh… well, who is it?”

(Charles) “Uhrm… Could we go over to the privacy manse?”

(Sorina) “That bad? Fine by me!”

(Charles, once at the privacy manse) “Uhrm… well… you won’t like this… but think about all the major sidereal prophecies and conference plans over the last… well… forty thousand years? (he threw up a list with pictures and references). It really wasn’t supposed to work this way… but it looks to me like… without the Lidless Eye to stabilize divination… Well, you know how powerful essence beings – especially those with precognitive powers – interfere with prophecy? You SHOULD be able to think it here, because this manse operates as a shielded auxiliary memory and self-correcting neural network to run parallel-processing outside of both your original mental substrate and outside the mental conventions of being in Creation. It essentially… allows your mind to perceive and think around instinctive parameters, damage, and failure points and to store sensitive information HERE, rather than in your primary mind. That’s why it’s perfectly private; the mental matrices have to be kept entirely separate, and they have to be shielded from outside influence, and the keying function depends on your mental pattern – which unnatural mental influence distorts. Anyway… ALL OF YOU are powerful essence wielders with precognitive powers. The Sidereals AND the Maidens interfere with THEMSELVES. The Maidens can only see the inevitable – although they can sense not to look when it isn’t inevitable – and you… well, look at the list! Every single major prophetic plan the Sidereals have made in forty thousand years – since the Primordial War in fact – has resulted in disaster. And you and they… can’t even see that without some external mental augmentation. In this case… it’s the Bronze Faction, who once again believe that only they see truly and can save everyone. They are right in part; the disaster is coming very soon if nothing is done. They’re just wrong about their ability to stop it.”

(Sorina… had to think that one over, and take one of her migraine pills.) “So… it’s not just that everyone else is argumentative and hiding however their stress manifests?”

(Charles) “No… as far as I can tell, the shadowlands out there – across the entire universe – are just the manifestation of the damage done by a PARTICULAR Primordial’s death or injury. Every one of them that was slain or grievously injured – to become a Yozi – has left part of the principles of the universe damaged. Gaia is still holding it together, but it seems to take a great deal of her power. Authochthon… seems to have invested so much power in the Exaltations that he is almost comatose and very ill. And the others… are departed or terribly warped.”

(Sorina) “I know you’re not lying to me, since there’s no record of you lying directly… and you’ve never used one of THOSE mental effects in the record either. Arggh… so the Bronze evacuation is more than an evacuation!”

(Charles) “None of those mental effects will work anywhere in Aden anyway! But the Bronze are evacuating in case they fail – and so that they can sacrifice their holdings if they must in the attempt… Now, I could be wrong in various details – infallibility is not one of my powers – but the price of inaction while I wait for perfect information is far too high.”

(Sorina) “That’s horrible! All my descendants and shadow fingers (people used for specific Charms in Throne Shadow Style) are either up here or come up here regularly! What in the HELL are they… of course not. They’re not thinking, are they? They’re… under that influence you told me about. And so are the Silver guys, and my associates… which would explain the gridlock I’ve seen!”

(Charles) “They are thinking; they believe that only they can forestall the disaster they’ve foreseen – just as the Gold and Silver Factions believe that theirs are the only paths that evade vast destruction – or so I would guess… Is that accurate enough?”

(Sorina) “Yeah… that seems right. So do they get migraines in meetings too?”

(Charles) “Oh yes.”

(Sorina) “How many does it take for them? Do you know? Because when it’s really bad, even these celestial pills don’t help.”

(Charles) “As far as I know… the more, the worse – but five or six is probably safe enough as far as the migraines go. Since it is working with time though… it’s probably also related to the total number involved, not just in any one group at the moment.”

(Sorina) “It DOES get worse when there’s more of us, then! And here I thought I was going crazy!”

(Charles) “No, that’s the Solars… It looks to me like perfection is unsustainable for any human mind. There used to be ways to get around that I think, but now… they all – or at least all the ones directly available to the Solar Exalted – seem to be flawed. That’s damage to the conceptual level of Creation – not to any particular mind, and exists before people exalt as part of the current rules of Creation, which is why it can’t be thrown off with defenses; you need to dump creation’s rules to get around it – and they’re what give form to the human mind! Anyway… the Lunars… well, look at them; they’re shapeshifters, the ultimate adapters – and they couldn’t adjust to living in civilization and fled to the far corners of the cosmos. The Terrestrials… were created to be an unstoppable, unified, and disciplined army – and they split up into hostile factions whenever more than a dozen or so get together. It’s easy enough to see when you’re HERE – but unless you remain linked here, it will be nearly impossible to see outside the manse.”

(Sorina) “Right. I think I need to attune to this place, then! Can Montague attune as well? He downplays it, but I think we have the same problem. It’s just in his HANDS.”

(Charles) “Certainly! It’s simple enough… I don’t know if it will provide complete protection outside of my world-body, but it should at least let you recognize the problem. I… can’t cure it yet though.”

(Sorina) “Sigh… look, you’ve got enough on your plate as it is! Don’t worry about me. Now that I know, I can try to do something about it!”

And she – before she really thought about it – patted Charles on the head while she and Montague attuned…

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6 Responses

  1. That’s actually a pretty good way to get the whole “Great Curse” thing across.

    • Well, Charles rather suspects a combination. He’s fairly sure that the power of an Exaltation tends to magnify human flaws as well as abilities. He very strongly suspects that – thanks to damage to the deep levels of Creation – the minds of every creature within it are inherently limited and that this cannot be healed without repairing the universe – which is why medical charms and such are all useless. The damage is a part of the laws of creation that govern minds; which is why defenses – such repelling or undoing shaping, or UMI, or any other keyword – are useless. The only way to get around it would be to re-embody your mind outside he laws of creation – which is a part of the idea behind the “Privacy Manse” (I must think of an evocative name for that). Finally, of course, there probably IS a curse of some sort – although it may have been half-empowered by the Exaltations themselves when they were misused as implements of torture to turn the surviving Primordials into Yozi’s (even if they aren’t involved in maintaining that state; such as the speculation about each Exaltation being capable of sustaining one death-curse to explain things like “Death at the Root” which appears unduplicatable). Doing that sort of thing is usually pretty unhealthy all around.

  2. [...] CXVII – A Fine And Private Place: Celestial Explanations, the Privacy Manse, the Great Curse. [...]

  3. [...] CXVII – A Fine And Private Place: Celestial Explanations, the Privacy Manse, the Great Curse. [...]

  4. [...] [Emergence Campaign] The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXVII — A Fine And Private Place ( [...]

  5. […] CXVII – A Fine And Private Place: Celestial Explanations, the Privacy Manse, the Great Curse. […]

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