Federation-Apocalypse Session 162 – Being Raised by Wolves

Marriage articles of the marriage between Phil...

What has been writ...

Raphael was busily getting connected to the local Kadia network and monitoring for any references to himself. You never knew what you might pick up that way.

Hm. It was a bit odd… He was still in the form of a six-tailed fox with a thin mist drifting about. Normally that would have changed with a new dimension. Evidently Kadia was pretty accommodating about things like that.

That was pretty strange until he got Raphael the Archangel of Healing sorted out from Raphael the Artist and Raphael the Warrior, and all the other “Raphaels” who were distinguished only by some adjective or another… And who was this “Menthas” that kept getting mentioned (by a bunch of dogs?) in conjunction with another Raphael – apparently the healer?

(Matron) “I’ve heard tales of Soul-Binders and the powers they wield and could grant. I have never encountered one myself, but I have heard tales from the outer regions of ancient ones…. and the hunger that drives them.”

(Kevin) “There is some of that. I also need very large numbers of agents, since my operations are widespread. Fortunately, that same wide spread means that I don’t need to fiddle around with recruiting non-volunteers. However, if you want to look over the contract I offer – or the facilities of this world – you are welcome to do so.”

(Matron) Yes, I would like to have a very close look at this contract of yours.

(Kevin) “As you wish. Would you like a pavilion to go over it in? Or perhaps a tour of this world?”

(Matron, looking at Kevin shrewdly) “Hmm, I also suspect that the contract is just as binding on you as it is on the signers. A quiet pavilion would suffice for now. I will save the tour for later I think. A moment while I give orders to the guards too busy panicking and working hard to look like they are doing something effective.”

(Kevin, startledly) “Ah, indeed it is. And there are plenty of pavilions over there, in the picnic grounds… Now, Ms Fenwick? I believe that, if you have become engaged to my friend, than we should set you up with your own account… perhaps a few hundred thousand credits for today?”

The Matron began quietly getting the guards organized – mostly setting them to taking messages back through the portal. After they’d gone back through – save for a few discreet observers, she settled down in the pavilion to study the contract and supplementary documentation (such as the current assignment category listings)…

(Fenwick) “Until, I learn more about how much a credit is, I think that will suffice for now. I suspect it is rather a lot though – at least, given the wealth on display here.”

Kevin’s estimate of Marty’s judgement, and of Ms Fenwick abruptly went up! The young woman was nicely observant, still thinking logically despite a drastic shock and the novel environment, and not at all overwhelmed! All despite the shock of seeing that her sudden fiancee was hardly a normal parrot! That was really quite impressive!

Raphael was sitting back and doing a little thinking – and waiting for a lull in the conversation… It couldn’t JUST be being an Opener; Kevin was obviously maintaining so many cross-manifold power links that a full analysis was going to be a long-term project…

(Raphael) “Do you mind if I do a few examinations of your power Angkor? It seems to have grown a good deal since we last met, and I have some interesting ideas for a project involving cross-Manifold links. It would be nice to have a local project focus here or there.” (He gestured vaguely towards the gate).

Kevin had no particular objections. He’d hardly be the first after all… and he hadn’t even really known most of the others, like that lich-lady!

Raphael promptly started in on a long series of analytical spells… He might as well get that underway while he was in a realm where magical power could be gathered so easily!

Marty had been indulging in a few mental calculations… What was the fun of being a minor god of numerology if you couldn’t even figure out an exchange rate between Zenni and Credits?

The trouble was, not only was there no direct trading, the value scales in use were incompatible, the economic principles were entirely different – one a post-scarcity economy with all necessities free and “Credits” issued against the use of planetary resources and recreational facilities, and the other based on the accumulation of mystical energy in “Zenni” which could be used to boost the user’s personal powers or to craft enchantments…

Of course, he was used to “money” being a measure of economic output and activity, while half the civilizations of the Manifold used some sort of resource-based coinage (usually only valuable locally) where they didn’t use barter or some even more bizarre standard…

Oh dear! Did “money” convert so freely and easily because it was purely belief-based anywhere you went to begin with?

They were right! Too much exposure to the Manifold DID lead to you questioning your faith!

His fiancee had made a shrewd guess though; that WAS a great deal of money either way… About a hundred years of a fairly good salary… Oh! Of course! Kevin owned Kadia outright, and was simply giving her a high-end pass to the local facilities.

He still wasn’t entirely used to that, or to owning his own universe either.

Come to think of it…

(Marty) “Speaking of pocket dimensions, want to visit mine while we’re in this one?”

That might be bit much, but it was sink or swim today! At least they hadn’t set a date yet…

(Fenwick) “Perhaps a bit much given we just met. But this place here seems like a nice place to get to know each other for now. Maybe after we set a wedding date perhaps?”

(Marty) “All right. Where do you want to go first?”

(Fenwick) “Perhaps some of those rides? The spinning ones look rather amusing!”

She seemed to be eying the teacup ride – an old classic, but always a favorite!

(Marty, heading in that direction with her)  “Good choice!”

Raphael’s divinations showed… enormous amounts of power, most of it disordered, a lot of it totally uncontrolled, constantly flowing in and out over the links with the Thralls, dark energies wrapped up in multiple levels of reality, five simultaneous identity-overlays / existences, godfire, mana, psychic energies, the usual Manifold soul-links, magical energies, and hundreds of thousands of soul-links.

All of it bound together in a cage of… contracts and self-imposed rules that looked to be entirely improvised.

It was like standing next to a antimatter-containment system that had been lashed together out of whatever junk had been found ready to hand! Was there anything restraining that powerstorm from breaking free except sheer willpower? The support and belief of his Thralls perhaps?

Still… the boy was obviously a living power nexus – and that meant that the information he needed was in there somewhere, even if the analysis of the mess would obviously take weeks barring some miraculous insight. It was a worthy challenge! And it looked like Kadia had almost unlimited unused computer resources available… He could afford to run all the simulations he wanted and reserve his own computer resources for checking out the possibilities that looked promising!

Kevin abruptly grinned. Teacup rides? He doubted that Ms Fenwick – or Marty – would really be aware of it any time soon, but a little private bowl-shaped nest to cuddle up in together would appeal to some pretty basic instincts in a couple of courting parrots…

(Marty) “So how do you like Angkor’s pocket dimension?”

(Fenwick) “The realm is impressive… Did he actually shape the whole place on his own?”

(Marty) “Yes he did! On his first try too.”

(Fenwick) “Well, he certainly put enough entertainment into it… Does it serve any other purpose than hosting parties?”

With the preliminary analysis up and running, Raphael sent off one of his robots to try and get a look at one of Cyrweld’s local heartstones – shifting it to look like a common psicrystal to be a bit less intimidating. What with the two at the gate and the two who were guarding his transport that only left him with one in reserve at the moment. He might have to pay to join a guild to get a look at their heartstone of course, but that was pretty trivial…  Most guilds kept their Heartstones locked up and well-warded. After all, they were what made them a guild – and they were VERY expensive.

Well, he could try a younger guild and offer them a proposal on upgrading their heartstone – and perhaps improving their hearthstone creation procedures.

(Marty) “It’s his home and base of operations, too. Most people don’t have a billion other people running around their home, but there’s more than enough room for privacy.”

Should he avoid all the gates and being the center of an interdimensional trading – and slave trading – operation for the time being? She was certainly insightful enough to pick that up from “Martin” and “Angkor’s” professions and the sheer amount of goods that they’d just put on the market.

Oh well. The slave-trade was a very small part of the overall trade and rescue operations, and it wasn’t like HER city didn’t have one too. She probably wouldn’t have any trouble with it. After all, in her universe most of the slaves were kidnaped, rather than being given contracts and a free decision up front…

Still, he didn’t want to string Fenwick along for too much longer!

Raphael was wondering where else he could check… Direct comparisons would be best; the local theory and analysis spells weren’t in his database – but Kevin’s powers worked across most of the Manifold, if not in all of it – rather than a very limited set of dimensions. There weren’t many things out there with that kind of range…

Kevin recommended giving it a couple of days at least – but before the wedding. He might want to get her some bodyguards though, and see what kind she’d like.

Marty had to agree with that… There were plenty of Thralls of course… What would she like? Some sort of flyer most likely. Parrots if she was competitive? Hawks and such if she had some feeling that they were predators? Sparrows for quiet and unobtrusive? Oh well, a few Parrots to start with. It would fit in nicely as a default, and they could always shapeshift later on. He’d show her their capabilities.

He also informed Elerra and Minel that – in the next couple of days – their relationship would become strictly professional.  That was likely to last for a while, although he would miss their company at night.

Elerra and Minel were quietly disappointed, even if it might not be a permanent situation.

Back at the main canine party, a moderately powerful Pseudo-Fox had arrived and was claiming to be a “Prophet of Angkor!”. He appeared to be babbling nonsense regarding Angkor’s eventual displacing of the local false deities…

Raphael passed that word on to Kevin immediately. That might need a quick rebuttal – and some through quashing – right away.

Oh joy. They’d have to put a stop to THAT.

Kevin went to sit on him, leaving Marty to continue getting acquainted with his fiancee.

(Raphael) “Do you want me to summon you a 10 ft fall glowing avatar to tell the Prophet no? I can manifest it right behind him and give you mental control!”

(Kevin) “No, no… Lets just see what he has to say first.”

(Prophet) “I speak as a prophet for the God Angkor! He can grant eternal life and vast powers! Mere belief in his power can grant powers unlike any available from your false gods! Repent and give up your false worship!”

(Raphael) “Oh well, it might have been fun… never got to make a avatar to smite someone before.”

(Kevin) “Oh stop that…”

He had the Thralls do a few basic divinations… This was a weak local peasant who had come into a considerable amount of power recently.

(Marty, privately) “A nonthrall follower? That didn’t take very long!”

Drat! Where did the fellow get the idea to worship him? It wasn’t exactly a normal mode around here… After all, the place was full of powerful mages; why would anyone local get the idea to worship him? Was he just VERY vulnerable to high charisma? Oh well.

(Kevin) “I do wish you’d stop that. Tell you what, why not come this way for a few minutes? You can meet some of Angkor’s other followers”.

They shunted him off to the carnival – and had the thralls take him elsewhere to find out where he’d gotten this particular idea; Kevin hadn’t exactly been advertising for followers like this; in fact, he hadn’t even mentioned the possiblity – although Mr Gelman knew about it of course.

(Gelman hadn’t mentioned it in case Marty somehow heard and got ideas – if Marty didn’t already know in the first place).

(Prophet, dramatically as he was steered through the carnival gateway) “God is ascending me into Heaven?! I weep tears of joy! Repent and you too might enter paradise!”

After he left, the rest of the party-goers were giving Kevin some VERY odd looks.

(Kevin) “Oh well! Crazy person off to therapy!”

Raphael had found that quite interesting… There were considerable traces of Kevin’s power on the fellow. Not nearly as intense or binding as it was with the thralls, but there was a strong flow of power nonetheless. Was it actually true that anyone who wanted to serve Kevin got power from him? Without Kevin even knowing it? That could be EXTREMELY troublesome! Had the boy no control at ALL?

Oh well, it was more data for his simulations.

Back at the carnival, Fenwick and Marty were enjoying the Ferris wheel and continuing to get acquainted – although the party was definitely winding down. There were a number of children refusing to return to the party when their parents requested though;  They wanted to take the Contract to avoid returning.

Who’d told them about that?

Oh, they’d asked the computers about ways that they might be able to stay…

Well, that was “No”, unless they’d been of age back in Cyrweld even if they were of age here. Their parents hadn’t consented to this excursion, so the usual rules didn’t apply even if they were of age locally. Their parents could haul them home with assistance of the local thralls and systems if necessary. Hopefully it was more of a “party ending” thing than panic.

They got taken home.

The party wasn’t quite buying the “insane nut needing therapy” line, but was politely accepting it for the moment. The children were being shuffled out of Funland and back to their boring lives back home – albeit with mighty protests.

(Marty) “Alas, fun never lasts. Better that they learn it early.”

(Kevin) “Well, it can for Thralls… I suppose that’s part of the appeal of course… Should I leave a few thralls manning the gate, so that the kids have a permanent recreation area and refuge if things get nasty?”

Oddly, there was one, quiet, late visitor to the party – a pure white she-wolf who seemed to glisten with moonlight – and who was making it known that she would like an audience with Angkor and Martin.

“Martin” escorted Fenwick home before heading off to that. It wasn’t a very long trip; after all, he had wings!

(Kevin) “Ah, good day to you! I was informed that you wished to speak of something?”

(White Wolf) “Greetings! I am sorry to intrude on your affairs. I am an Avatar of Eilistraee. Judging from the powers I sense from you, I presume you are the ones that have been lending assistance to my worshippers?”

Kevin threw up a minor privacy spell

(Kevin) “Ah, yes, we have been providing them with a bit of support. I hope that has been more helpful than offensive? I haven’t run into the situation before, but it seemed like the could use a little help.” (As an aside to Conley) “She’s a goddess from the “Forgotten Realms” place; I don’t know how familiar you are with those regions.”

(Marty, privately) “Yeah, we’ve been helping out her Dark Elf followers. Something’s happened to her. I’m wondering what, if she’s got an avatar running around.”

(Kevin) “It’s no intrusion however; you are quite welcome”

(Avatar) “Indeed, it has been of help, and my faithful have managed to accomplish great things with the aid provided. But unfortunately, they have run into a barrier insurmountable to their abilities alone. The Goddess Lloth, my mother, has erected a barrier around me that prevents me from assisting my followers. While they have slain the guardian that watches over the barrier, they are unable to breach the barrier itself.”

(Marty) “What’s this barrier like? Must be something good to keep a goddess in!”

(Kevin, practically) “And what will it take to break it?”

(Avatar) “I know not the means by which it was constructed, I do know that it defies all means to break it from within using my own power. My followers are unable to penetrate it from without as well. I do know that my mother devoted a considerable amount of her power towards the erection of the barrier. I fear it may take a similar level of power or an exceedingly crafty mind to break it.”

(Kevin) “Ah. Well, we shall have to have a look! I presume you can tell us where it is?”

(Raphael) “Sounds fun!”

(Marty) “Kevin’s pretty crafty, and maybe the two of us together could match your mom.”

Marty and Raphael were checking… This did indeed seem to a projection of some sort – likely a “goddess”, and probably a decent one. There wasn’t any darkness comparable to Kevin’s anyway – and certainly nothing darker.

(Avatar) “I can provide a link through this Avatar. I presume that will suffice?”

(Raphael) “Do you mind if I run some analysis spells on you and your power? I don’t know if I can analyze the barier from here, but I might get some insight.”

Kevin was pretty pleased there! Raphael was quite an expert in a lot of things!

(Kevin) “It should indeed.”

Raphael could determine a number of things… Whatever the barrier was, it blocked divine, arcane, and physical attempts to pass through it. Psionic projections could get through, but the range was atrociously bad; it should be measured in feet from the barriers edge – but it looked like the Avatar had circumvented that limitation by possessing a willing mortal in contact with the barrier. The barrier might well be a reality construct that had warped the Divine Realm of Eilistraee significantly beyond it’s normal limits.

The deity in question was definitely an elven deity though, and the barrier gave a vague impression of silk.

(Raphael) “Interesting, psychic effects can get out… I wonder if the “silk” basis is exploitable.”

(Kevin) “Huh. That’s fairly impressive… Is the link strong enough for active probes, or will that have to wait for going there?”

Unfortunately, the link wasn’t strong enough for active probing. It might well disrupt the link set up for the possession too. Going there was probably the only means of doing any active probing.

(Marty) “We could try breeding a psychic silkworm or something… More seriously, maybe psychic astral projection would do the trick. Think her spirit could get out if somebody bestowed it on her? I mean, she’d need a new body, but if you can make new bodies when needed, Kevin, it shouldn’t be too hard for her.”

(Kevin) “I doubt it… If going astral would do it, she should be able to planeshift freely anyway.”

(Marty) “Yeah, Lloth would’ve thought about that, wouldn’t she?”

(Kevin) “Well, we shall have to come and take a look at it – but at least we can continue aiding your followers in the meantime… I presume the realm and the barrier is associated with the Forgotten Realms proper?”

(Raphael) “Have you tried altering you diving realm with some stronger fire aspect? It might weaken the barrier.”

(Avatar) “I thank you. I understand this is much to ask of strangers such as yourselves, but the other Elven gods and goddesses are unable to reach my realm anymore. And yes, it is associated strongly with the Forgotten Realms proper. Although it also touches upon many others to a lesser extent. Unfortunately, my ability to affect my realm is limited to what my followers are able to accomplish right now. My power are stuck within the barrier.”

(Kevin) “Well, barriers are made to be broken!”

(Marty) “Exactly. Sounds like we need to find some way in and maybe alter your domain that way. Or just break the barrier like Kevin said. Either way’s fine with me.”

(Kevin) “Well, her mother is something of a pain everywhere she puts in an appearance…”

(Marty) “Sounds fun.”

(Kevin) “Might as well frustrate her a bit.”

(Marty) “We could leave a smart alecky message behind.”

(Kevin) “I presume you are currently speaking through one of your priestesses?”

(Avatar) “Indeed I am. This link is being provided by the selfless acts of two of my worshippers. The one before you is a priestess of mine. The other back at the barrier is a recent convert to me from my brother Vhaeraun.”

(Kevin) “I shall dispatch a few assistants for them. There is still some business to handle here, but we should be able to come and see what we can do about the barrier within a week or two. Will that be soon enough? “

He sent dozen thralls that way.

(Avatar) “I thank you for you assistance in this matter and to my followers.”

(Kevin) “Oh, you’re welcome! It’s not as if we’ve been all that much help with the barrier yet anyway!”

According to the Avatar, one to two weeks would be soon enough. Her forces were holding the gateway to her realm and the addition of the thralls to the defense would help matters significantly.

The Wolf Matron would be busy studying things for some time. She was pretty intent on it.

(Kevin) “This is picking up! There may be lots of people looking for us…. And I think that we’ve livened up the party quite a bit!”

(Marty) “More fame for us.”

There was indeed a lot of quiet chattering going on in the background regarding them…

There was a lot of speculation regarding the loonie that they’d managed to attract, what he’d meant by declaring them to be gods, how he’d managed to acquire so many power signs so quickly, who that mysterious visitor who’d seemed to simply glow with a quiet light had been, what kind of mage was able to simply create entire pocket dimensions of such size and scale, questions about what that group wanted  with their city, rumors about them enslaving children, discussions about the artifacts that the children had brought back through the portal, the perceived insult of Angkor hosting another party because he’d gotten bored with theirs…

Kevin was mildly indignant about that! It was still attached to their party, and was for kids… And if they didn’t recognize that they were boring their kids to tears, he had little sympathy for them!

The engagement of Marty, the fact that the other major newcomer to the city had latched onto their group, what their presence might mean with regards to the delegation arriving tomorrow, their interactions with the Eight-And-A-Half-Tails, and more.

Well, they HAD been busy here – and they had more parties to go to too since this one was breaking up! Next up, the Felines and the Rabbits…

Raphael had elected NOT to go to the rabbit party, since he was still new to being a fox that just seemed extra risky – but the Fox clan had always had an odd relationship with the Canine and Feline Clans. Ancestrally, they were very distant relations to the Canine clan. In terms of outlook and bearing, they tended to more closely resemble the Feline Clan, and, though history, had had on and off again alliances with both. A feline invitation to a powerful Fox recently arrived to the city was readily available, especially since it was known that an invitation to the Canine party had already been received.

It had been easy enough for him to pick up an invitation.

Kevin, meanwhile, was checking… would the Canines LIKE having an open gate-refuge that could serve as day care on their grounds?

The guards protested mightily, but the Wolf Matron came down on the side of allowing it until the Head of the Clan could spare a moment for the matter. She did want to assign a few guards at the gateway to track who came and went though – and also to give explanations to parents before letting their children through.

That was fair enough. Kids coming in for the day would continue to get lots of amusement-park tokens. Why not? The usual charges were in hundreth’s anyway (as Abigail had found out), so it wasn’t even “expensive”.

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