The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice, Part V

Cathedral in Włocławek

Are you sure that's the right paint job?

Closing down the main production line smoothly and a final round of inspections after everyone else left made a plausible reason to make a habit of staying behind, and that made it easy to work on private projects after hours. That almost seemed to be expected actually…

It took four of the Coatl to help him – but with their power-reserves and the factory-cathedral’s acceleration-effects, it didn’t take all that long to work up a supply of privacy veils… The manufacturing process itself was a work of art, with rolls of perfect silk being spun out of quintessence and the crystalline spider-like weaving spider-like weaving machines crafting veils like webs…

Hiparkes would be pleased, even if it would be a little while before Charles could give him his veils…

After that, there were several messages – and remembering to pick up Mr Anderson’s cherry-glazed nuts on the way home. He’d have to take some to school too; the god-blooded students all loved what they could afford of those candies, and most of them didn’t have a salary to spend a bit of on them. Ergo, some to share…

Well, he still had a LITTLE time.

  • One message from Gramps. He was back from wherever-it-was that he’d most recently disappeared to – if too busy that evening for a personal visit – and was checking up on him.
  • One from Lytek, who would like him to discreetly visit his office. He sounded simultaneously excited and worried.
  • Two from Kiko. The first was an invitation to eat dinner with her boss at YesterYears. The second was her giving a similar message to someone else, then saying “Oh, dude, wrong number! Sorry,” and hanging up.

Well, writing a reply to Gramps was easy enough. There was enough time to stop by Lytek (discretely), after that, and that would pretty much make it dinner time by the time he COULD get to Yesteryears.

Wait, mightn’t that be a bad idea? Wasn’t Kiko sort of in hiding? Well, either she was feeling more confident or she didn’t want to say no to her boss.

Oh well. At least he was known to be obligated to Lytek, and Lytek and Gramps had pulled some strings to get him his somewhat nepotistic job. Ergo, he had a reason to stop off there… Most of Yu-Shan would simply assume that – in exchange for the job – he’d promised to make stuff for him. Ergo, visiting Lytek just had to be mildly discreet – and he went to YesterYears quite often.

Off to see Lytek it was…

The offices of the Department of Abstract Matters were in their usual tranquil state. Actual work was, as usual, being shunted off to where people couldn’t see it, in less well-appointed rooms than the lobby. There was a many-armed divine attendant minding the elaborate desk.

(Rahamvar-Geta) “May I help you?”

(Charles) “Oh, un… er… Lord Lytek (with his various honorifics) sent a message stating that he wished to see me!”

(Rahamvar-Geta) “Hmm. I shall check with him.”

She used a mirror to call Lytek’s office and confirm the appointment…

(Rahamvar-Geta) “Very well then. That attendant over there will escort you to the Right Hand of Power’s office.”

(Charles) “Thank you!”

He knew the route, although the receptionist – as always – sent a minor god with him as a guide. After all, he was passing through the hallowed halls of the heavens, where ancient relics, tapestries depicting the first age and the primordial war before it, and similar items, made very step a lesson in the solemn history of creation – every bit of which Charles had, deep down, long regarded as his personal play set.

There were more recent works depicting contemporary history too, albeit in a style that didn’t clash.

They reached the door to Lytek’s office soon enough. Unusually, it was shut, and they had to knock. Lytek himself opened the door. That was kind of odd; normally there’d be an attendant on the other end to open it.

Lytek dismissed the attendant – and led Charles in and shut the door.

(Charles) “Er… What’s up? Something need fixing?”

(Lytek) “I’m not certain. Regardless, none of this leaves my office for the time being.”

(Charles) “Ok!”

Charles promptly wove a minor spell that would cover all thinking about this topic – whatever it was – with a layer of surface thoughts about Gilligan and the Beverly Hillbillies for the next few years, then a privacy charm, then an illusion of innocuous conversation under it, then an alarm to detect intrusions…

(Lytek) “It regards the cabinet. Would you mind looking at it for me?”

Outwardly, the cabinet looked normal – or at least as normal as a marvel even among divine furnishings could look. The power-aura was considerably stronger than usual and it was… active? Normally it was fairly passive. The age of the primordial war, when the exaltations had flowed in and out in a constant stream, were long past.

Huh…

(Charles) “It’s drawing a LOT of power… May I look inside sir?”

(Lytek) “You certainly may. It’s actually the interior that worries me.”

The orichalcum shelf holding Solar Exaltations was fine; there were currently three occupying it. The same went for the moonsilver shelf and its four Lunar Exaltations, and the starmetal shelf with its six Sidereal shards being cleaned. The most blatant anomaly was that the cabinet is a little bigger than it is on the outside – and looking at that space with his magical senses, he could see another, adamantium, shelf forming, with a hundred stands of the same material. The energies were strange, and somewhat incomplete – but it seemed like five types were coalescing.

Well, the preparation for new shards was pretty easy to understand. If they’d been lost during the primordial war or some such the shelf would already be present and empty. Ergo, a new shelf, and new stands, for new, almost certainly adamant, exaltations.

In fact, there were nascent traces of the actual exaltations themselves – either they were in the process of forming here, or the cabinet was reflecting their formation elsewhere.

(Charles) “Huh! Adamant is pretty unusual! And – as far as I know – nobody can make new Shards but that Autochthon guy… Don’t seem to be finished, but that could be because they’re not finished or because they’re not associated with a major patron god yet! The cabinet dates back to Autochthon too doesn’t it? If so, and it’s automatically responding and adapting, it’s probably him! That’s kind of cool really! Five types too… Probably twenty of each. Could be a parallel to the Sidereal Exalted, or it could just be a first stage.”

He noted everything he could get about the what the structure of the Shards was apparently going to be. That information could be REALLY valuable info later on! He threw in a wide selection of sense-boosting and analytical spells – weak, but highly-specific and specially-designed of course. Of course, they were all passive enhancements on himself. It probably wouldn’t have disturbed the nascent shards if he HAD probed at them with Thaumaturgy – shards were pretty powerful – but passive sensing shouldn’t disturb them any more than his mere presence did.

(Lytek) “I have the strangest feeling of deja vu when I examine that shelf, though. Perhaps he’s reintroducing a prototype to Creation. He gave me the cabinet when the Primordial War ended, but he might not have told me everything about it.”

(Charles) “Oh be fair! From what little I’ve ever heard about HIM, he never told anyone anything but which buttons to press… But we only have four major types of Exalted really, and the Terrestrials were never really part of his set.”

(Lytek) “Yes… but interactions between the extant types are… strained. I do hope this fifth set doesn’t worsen the situation.”

(Charles, apologetically) “Uhm… I know you hate to think of it that way sir, but it’s hard to make “holding knives against each other’s kidneys” all that much worse.”

(Lytek, sighing) “You have a point, young man.”

Hm… everything he could sense and deduce and remember said that mere thaumaturgy wouldn’t affect the forces forming those shards any more than a wisp of mist would disturb an atom bomb – and he couldn’t foresee anything bad happening.

He gave into the temptation and let the most delicate, whisker-thin, thaumaturgical probe gently touch the edge of the forces at work within the cabinet. It would recoil instantly if it somehow disturbed the matrix or encountered rejection.

If anything it was ignored or perhaps even… accepted. There was the faintest hint of resonance, and of a link, and perhaps even of indulgent – or whimsical – acceptance of a marveling audience.

Huh… The gods had intended the Exalted to serve as their army. The Solars were the great leaders, the Lunars their lieutenants, the Sidereals their intelligence operatives, and the Dragon-Blooded the sergeants and shock troopers – even if the primary forces had been made up of the Dragon Kings and he other primal races… These shards, on the other hand, seem intended for support. The types seemed to roughly correspond to envoys, diplomats, tactical specialists, assassins, and something best described as an acquisitions specialist. He got a feeling of darkness off of them – but not the nastiness associated with soulsteel.

Bleah! A good thing the war was over and he could resign being in the army! Armies made such a mess!

(Charles) “Hmm… These new Shards seem to grant more supportive powers than the earlier ones. I think they’re basically “civilian” things. Designed to make things work well instead of combat. I think that’s a very good thing! There’s a kind of darkness about them, but I think that’s just the adamant power-signature – and the fact that, at the moment, they’re almost purely absorbing power rather than radiating any. I’d say… if the current rate continues… less than a week until they’re complete. It may slow or accelerate during the final stages though, so it’s hard to say!”

(Lytek) “I had noticed the darkness myself. That’s one of the reasons I was worried. And only a week? Oh dear. But it is something new to work on. I haven’t had that for many millennia.”

(Charles) “If it is Mr Autochthon, he’s really really good!”

Well, OK, that more or less went without saying.

He spent some time providing Lytek with every bit of information HE could extract – although his guesses as to likely powers and things did have to be fairly general.

(Lytek) “I do appreciate your assistance, Charles – especially at this hour… Hm. Do you have any time left between school, work, and your various projects any longer? You shouldn’t short yourself on sleep and recreation at your age.

(Charles) “Well… It is pretty busy right now, and I have a dinner appointment – but I’m not quite late yet!”

(Lytek) “Well, let me pay for your boat fare, if you have any. It’s the least I could do.”

(Charles) “Ok! And I’ll let you know if I find out anything else about those! Besides… watching some new shards being put together was well worth the trip!”

Well, that had confirmed many of his own suspicions, as well as offering some new insights. The boy really was very good. Besides… telling Charles about what was going on got it off Nara-O’s books, keeping the information that much more secret. Almost as importantly, the boy had picked up on his desire for privacy and spun a subtle divination-ward on the office for more privacy and an illusion around the cabinet (carefully NOT touching the new shards) of “business as usual”, in case someone tried to peek. Those would be easy enough for any major power to break – but hard to notice to know that you needed to, and if you did it would be quite noticeable to him. That wasn’t at all a bad precaution, and it would be easy to cover if anyone came asking. It was quite amazing how far the boy was getting with Thaumaturgy.

The attendant was waiting discretely down the corridor to escort Charles out – and he still had a little while to prepare for dinner!

That was harder… At least Kiko wasn’t generally known as a Solar. Still, it would be best to find a way to go quietly. Oh! That’d be easy! There were illusion-penetrating effects in plenty, but it was REALLY hard to see through a simple bit of shapeshifting. Thaumaturgy wasn’t up to the kind of things Lunars could do – even at his level – but there were lots of smaller changes you could make.

Yu-Shan offered lots of ways to dodge too… He mixed with some of the students and traffic, set up a minor illusion of a change of clothes and such, did the shapeshift underneath, teleport-hopped past a crowd and a barrier (OK, he could only manage about sixty feet with thaumaturgy, but that was plenty for this), checked for anyone monitoring or watching him, and sent off his illusion-self along the street while ducking down an alley.

If that didn’t cover it, anyone following him was way too alert and determined to shake… That might not have been entirely wise of course. If anyone was watching, they were hardly likely to miss the determined effort to lose pursuit, and it wasn’t as if he normally spent much time playing with his powers that way… Hm. Maybe if he made it a regular chase-game with Ixian? Or even some of the students and trainees? Wasn’t there an after-school club for that? It was a regular part of Sidereal-style training.

Oh! He had the PERFECT excuse! He didn’t want anyone to know because it was a dinner invitation! With a GIRL!

Oh well. Who’d be spending that much effort monitoring a god-blood? So far at least no one really seemed to think that he was anything more, and as long as he stuck to Thaumaturgy they were unlikely to… It was extraordinarily GOOD thaumaturgy, but who paid attention to that stuff anyway? It wasn’t as if the odds against it being anything more weren’t hundreds of millions to one.

Oh yes! He had to mail Mr Anderson his cherry-glazed nuts! That was easy though. There were some mail-drops set up with the messenger-gods…

Later on a very nice thank you note, with impeccably calligraphy and the paper tingling with air essence, turned up at his mundane Atlanta address.

He took a passenger liner to Yesteryears… It was less conspicuous and would let him keep an eye – and a few detection effects – out for surveillance… It was full or tired gods, and even more tired mortals and god-bloods, heading home after a long day of work. Fortunately, there didn’t seem to be any save for a bored god or two with a mildly-curious eye on the apparently unremarkable kid with extra energy and coin to spend.

He got off a stop early just in case… Besides, he liked to look at the shops in this district! The “antique” theme was very educational and you never knew what you’d find! Sometimes there were good ingredients, or old scrolls and partial formulas, and all kinds of stuff!

Hm… That moonsilver trinket in the shop window of “Alkibar’s Shop of Rarities” looked pretty interesting. It seemed to undulate and twist as he looked at it!

(Charles) “Oh neat! And without anyone attuning it so far as I can see! Most portable things are inactive when not attuned! Mr Alukbar please? What’s that and how much is it?

(Alukbar.) “Ah, an eye for exotics! My divinations state that it is a moonsilver choker, but it’s hard to tell with the movement. Do you have a salary, young man? It is a bit of a formality, but we do have occasional mortal visitors.”

(Charles) “Yes! And some cash, unless someone’s gone off with it… Nope! Still here! Or I could trade!”

(Alukbar, steepling his fingers) “I like trading. It gets me more merchandise! Please, show me what you have to offer. Or do you know anyone with goods they would like to part with?”

Charles kind of got the feeling that he wouldn’t be trading with someone as young-looking as he was if they didn’t have a salary or a guardian.

(Charles) “Well, first… what do you think it’s worth and do you know anything about it? Good information is worth more, especially if it actually does something. If it doesn’t seem to do anything but puzzle people, it’s not really worth all that much!”

(Alukbar) “Its warping and twisting extends to its Essence, I fear. My thaumaturgy is of little use in determining what it would do, and my Charms are of little more help. Since it is jewelry, I would suspect some kind of protective ability. I would part with it for five hundred Quintessence coins, or the mortal equivalent. Though I am open to bargaining…”

Hm, that was a bit pricey! Roughly equivalent to fifty thousand dollars, and expensive for his salary…

(Charles) “Hm. I could trade! Lets see… Running a shop like this one, perhaps a Privacy Veil? Helps keep your negotiations private and your business discreet!”

(Alukbar) “That would be quite useful. How soon could you ship it here?”

(Charles) “Well, right now really. You never know when one might be handy!”

(Alukbar) “Then send it over, and I will trade you the necklace when it gets here.”

Charles was busy fishing around in his pack, in which were many strange objects…

(Charles) “Here we are!”

(Alukbar) “Ah, thank you very much! That’s an impressive pack you have there. Perhaps you could trade me something else for one of them. It would save overhead.”

Hm? There wasn’t anything on the pack but a thaumaturgic enhancement-spell to let it hold more and weigh less with a decent duration. It wasn’t anything an extremely minor artifact wouldn’t do just as well… Well, that particular tweak on Thaumaturgic travel magic WAS pretty rare.

(Charles) “Oh, I’ll see if I can find one for you then! “

That WOULD have to be delivered though. You couldn’t safely put one spacewarp – however minor – inside another one.

(Charles) “And I’ll stop by again when I’ve got a little more time to look at things!”

(Alukbar) “Have a good evening, then.”

(Charles) “You too!”

Charles tucked the away the neat little thing to puzzle over later in one of his packs well-secured inside pockets. You never knew with unknown artifacts!

The rest of the walk to YesterYears was pleasant enough, and he even found some interesting and exotic herbal extracts along the way. The restaurant was in a fairly pleasant middle class district of Yu Shan, and did a brisk business. There seemed to have been a hasty alteration to the menu outside: apparently the availability of certain equines had changed, and you need to ask the server about those.

Hipparions were too cute to eat anyway!

Well… unless you were a  god of horse predators, in which case it was probably a rare treat. Still, that just meant they were off the theme menus at Yesteryears, they’d be going ON the menu at places that specialized in currently-available foods.

Of course, it was all made form quintessence – or, in the VERY expensive restaurants, ambrosia – anyway.

He asked for the… oh, yes… the “Gri Fel” party, and was directed to a private dining room… He was still about five minutes early – and was apparently the first to arrive. The place was completely enclosed, and came with a basic anti-divination ward.

He spent the first couple of minutes hanging up a privacy veil – and, while any observers would (hopefully) be re-adjusting to get past it and the restaurants privacy spell, hung an illusion under it of the room pretty much as it was – but with a slightly differing conversation (about wanting an artifact made) when the others turned up. Hopefully anyone spying would take a few seconds to adjust to penetrate the Veil and then not realize that there was a slight illusion-twist underneath it.

Three more people turned up very shortly… Kiko (he hadn’t known that she even OWNED a dress!), a nervous-looking god in faded and threadbare robes (almost certainly Gri Fel), and a young spectacled man about Kiko’s age. Oh yes! He’d fixed his sisters little four-room manse in Atlanta. That place where they’d tunneled out a connection into the storm drain…

(Charles) “Hi there! What’s up?”

(Kiko) “Hey little dude! The boss wanted to see what Yu-Shan was like these days, so here we are.”

(Charles) “Uhm… It’s a bit run-down I think! Or at least so I’m told and the records say…”

(Gri Fel) “Perhaps, but that’s better than it being rubble. I know how painful that is.”

Hmmm… Oh yes! Gri Fel! From the Second Age! God of the Realm’s Imperial City. Unfortunately, the place had been destroyed beyond recovery, leaving Gri Fel out of a job. Still?! That was sad!

Unfortunately, a new city was a bit out of his range at the moment – especially making it at all close to that one. Extinct species were one thing, cities were quite another! Perhaps one day… or a substitute city. It wouldn’t be the same – but it would be a start and it could be improved over time.

(Gri Fel) “Now I saw you put up a ward. What was that for? Nothing untoward, I hope.”

(Charles) “Oh, just general precautions! A lot of people like their privacy, but spying is one of the major industries around here!”

(Gri Fel) “I may have some side work for you then. But enough with business for now. Let us start the tea ceremony.”

He pulled out a tea set, grabbed Kiko’s soda, and started pouring it into the kettle. Kiko looked annoyed, but didn’t say anything – while the young man with the glasses seemed to be taking it in stride.

Gri Fel guided them all through a formal Second Age Realm tea ceremony. Somehow he managed to transform the soda into a vintage of tea from that age – and it was a very good blend. And after a couple of hours, the ceremony was done. That was a good thing; Charles had been increasingly torn between wanting to impress Gri Fel and fidgeting wildly… At least he’d been able to remember enough of it from the old texts to participate correctly without fidgeting. Kiko is a bit fidgety too, although she clearly didn’t want to anger her boss. The other young man was quite graceful though.

The server, when he arrived, appeared to be a velociraptor carrying a pen and a pad in its tiny arms.

(Server) “Hi, I’m Joey. What can I get you tonight?”

Charles promptly ordered his favorite: Triceratops shishkabob!

Kiko ordered the mammoth special. The young man opted for the Cretaceous salad special. Gri Fel appeared disturbed by all the extinct species from the Second Age, but eventually settled on the dodo roast.

Oh well. At least Triceratops had gone out during the reign of the Dragon Kings anyway!

(Gri Fel) “Now Charles, Aikiko tells me you run a factory cathedral.”

(Charles) “Just starting really, but yes. Did you need something made?”

(Gri Fel) “I’m sure I can think of something, but not today. Today has been… disorienting.”

(Charles) “Is anything wrong?”

(Gri Fel) “Well, I heard that Chejop Kejak had reincarnated, but when I found his location, these Sidereals stopped me. They claimed to be Bronze Faction, but they had no idea who I was! And then they escorted me out of the building! I just wanted to ask him what happened, for Incarna’s sake!”

(Kiko) “It’s okay, boss. I’m going to show them someday!”

(Charles) “Weird! Maybe they were just youngsters?”

(Gri Fel) “But they should know who I am. I helped them build their faction in Creation, and this is how they repay me? What is this world coming to?”

Gri Fel sighed and sank back into his chair. Kiko appeared to be used to this.

(Glasses) “Is this what typically happens to gods who lose their domains? That’s just not right.”

(Charles, quietly) “It’s something like that – and no, it isn’t.”

(Glasses, holding out his hand to shake) “We met briefly in Atlanta. I’m Mitchell Cartier. Kiko invited me to meet her employer, and I managed to talk her into getting this dining room.”

(Charles) “Well, I’m pleased to really meet you. I didn’t know that Kiko was working for anyone in particular really, but I’m pleased to meet his honor Gri Fel as well. So many things were lost then, and later. Hopefully, nothing need be lost forever.”

(Mitchell) “I would like to see the same. That’s why I’m here. I’d like to ask him about the Dragon-Blooded of his time – and I was curious about the restaurant, too. Kiko told me it was a blast.”

(Charles) “It is a fun restaurant! I don’t know too much about the dragon-blooded from back then, save that there were a lot more and they pretty much ran things for awhile!”

Hm. Didn’t Mitchell usually hang out with his sister? Well, he didn’t really want to ask. They hadn’t seemed to have the sense to stay quiet, and what if something had happened to her?

(Mitchell) “My research says they did it openly, and with Sidereal backing. I was always taught to call Sidereals Insidious.” (Mitchell furrows his brow). “Does anybody know what happened between then and now? I can’t find any records on that.”

Charles could fill him in on some of the general recent history. The Sidereals and Alchemicals alike wanted to keep it under wraps – but he’d had some sources, even if not a lot of detail. Most importantly, something outside of Fate had turned the Dragon-Blooded against the Sidereals, the old “arcane fate” problem no longer existed, and modern Terrestrial jade artifacts often bore little resemblance to the artifacts of old. In fact, they tended to have an outright industrial, electronic, or steampunk feel when they weren’t outright pieces of clockwork.

Of course, it was really no surprise that – once they could remember them – the Terrestrials had turned against the Sidereals. Such a lot of the Sidereals just seemed to be naturally GOOD at upsetting everyone they dealt with.

Mitchell and Gri Fel appreciated the information.

(Gri Fel) “So that’s why none of the Terrestrials have visited me. The Chosen of the Maidens must be worried about the ambushes. To think that my former friends have turned against their backers…”

(Charles) “Well, few organizations manage to get along for too long when they’ve got opposing goals – such as controlling everything they’re interested in!”

(Gri Fel smiled at that) “And they kept that control for longer than any of us gods imagined. Those were troublesome times, and yet I would gladly trade them for now.”

Charles couldn’t honestly say that the days of the wild hunt, the bronze faction, and the realm or shogunate, were something he thought fondly of, or would like to revisit – and Mitchell and Kiko seem to agree with him – but there was no point in arguing with a lonely old god who missed the good old days.

The server slipped in with the food a few minutes later. It was hot from the kitchen, of course. That was standard in Celestial restaurants, which would never tolerate so much as a single degree’s drop in temperature. It was a delicious meal, although Gri Fel did say that it was nothing like the restaurants in the Imperial City. (He did like the food, but he missed the ambiance of the Realm.)

Gri Fel really did need a new City. Hm… Arcosanti – or something similar – might be an excellent starting point for him… He just needed a Rod of Construction… He’d have to design one. It didn’t seem like it would be too hard to make. Did the place have a city god yet? Definitely worth looking into. It normally took decades to assign one. Such appointments tended to get caught up in a lot of red tape and politics. But he WAS currently domainless – and Yu Shan DID do one thing right; it favored the domainless who hadn’t gone completely over the bend.

Ixian was willing to work check on that for him… It didn’t take too long. Arcosanti’s status was awkward. The Bureau of Nature and the Bureau of Humanity had been arguing over who got to assign a deity. The Bureau of Humanity claimed that a settlement was in its domain no matter how close to nature and organic it was. The Bureau of Nature argued that Arcosanti had enough outdoor and undeveloped space to be a small nature preserve. It was actually one of the stickier conflicts between the two right now. They didn’t have much of any magic in operation there – although there might be a thaumaturge working on the bells.

Hm. There might be room to push a little there if he could find an angle. Maybe get a favor out of one of the Sidereals who wanted unofficial artifacts?

Hm. If Fri Fel showed up and started improving the place might he wind up in charge simply by virtue of adding a temple to himself? Nah. Right general idea – but he was pretty sure that you’d need to get through all the red tape anyway. Besides… he got the feeling that the most potent thing in the poor old guy’s panoply right now was that tea set.

On the other hand, if he made him a useful artifact, and set him up with some help, and perhaps an ally…

This might take a little more thought. He’d have to research the rod first, and determine if it was even practical…

(Charles) “Uhm, your honor? Gri Fel? I might have an idea… is there any way I could get in touch with you later on?”

(Gri Fel) “Well, Kiko seems to know how to reach you. Why don’t you contact me through her? I’m afraid I have little means of doing so on my own.”

(Charles) “OK! It will probably be a week or two though… Maybe more. It might be a lot harder than I think.”

(Gri Fel) “I have the time to wait. And that was a wonderful meal. Now how are we handling the bill?”

Charles got it as tactfully as he could manage. He was probably the only one who actually had sources of income.

Now Arcosanti was new, and was being arranged and built to harmonize with nature. It wouldn’t be too surprising if there were some potential demesnes there too – although nobody was likely to be using them these days.

Hm… According to Ixian, there was one building there. It was, as a desert demesne, leaning towards fire at the moment. There were definitely some possibilities there. He wasn’t quite ready to rush manse building, but if it’s only building it would be quite some time before it manifested anyway.

Oh! He’d almost forgotten! Had Kiko and Gri Fel actually wanted anything? There had been that inquiry about him running a factory-cathedral.

Oh. Gri Fel was just curious. They didn’t let children run factory-cathedrals in his day; even the Dragon-Blooded preferred to have older Exalts supervise theirs. He’d simply been wondering who pulled the strings – and Mitchell was just curious about what his sister had ordered.

Huh. He hadn’t really thought about that. Most factory-cathedrals in Yu Shan were run by actual gods, even the smaller ones. According to Ixian everyone was assuming that he had a divine backer who was actually running the show since he’d somehow beaten out a dozen divine candidates for the position. Popular candidates for his backer included Lytek, Six Color Amphora (the god of jade), and Vulcan – and “Backer” seemed to be interchangeable with “parent” as far as most of Yu-Shan was concerned.

Oh, his Grandfather was also apparently in the running for “Backer”, if not for “Parent”.

What did Gramps do anyway? He really had to find out one of these days.

He’d have to make VERY sure that his initial project didn’t flop…

It was pretty late when they left the restaurant, Kiko escorted Gri Fel back to his current residence, Mitchell headed off to his to check on his sister, and Charles – of course – headed home.

It was about time. He had to do some more work on things and get home to sleep! And he’d probably have to answer some messages from the museum people. There was little doubt that SOMEONE would be demanding to talk to him about his “machine”. Besides, he wanted to spend a few minutes looking at the moonsilver thing, and recording his notes and impressions on creating exaltations properly. Those could be important!

Back in Atlanta, there were indeed some messages for him… One from the museum people, demanding a more technical explanation for how his machine had worked and wanting to meet with him. One from the Bureau of Nature, wanting to meet him in about a week to discuss WHY he’d brought back the hipparions. Lastly, one from somebody called Three Toes, who had also sent a gift.

Well, the museum people would have to wait until tomorrow. He could probably concoct an “explanation” that would take a month to decipher and still sound semi-plausible even if the final “answer” was “I don’t know how that happened”. The Bureau appointment wasn’t to worry about for a week – although he’d have to inform them that he was just getting organized at the factory-cathedral and the meeting might be a bit rushed. They probably wouldn’t care.

“Three Toes” was presumably the god of Hipparions. His message was a thank you. The gift appeared to be very fine grass, suitable for the best of the stud farm.

Ah, it was either more a gift for the Hipparions or Three Toes was way out of practice (if he was ever in practice) with dealing with human beings. He sent back a “you’re welcome and thank you for your gift” and… some long-extinct candied nuts from the candy store! Sure to be popular with a horse-deity!

Time to get some sleep. Tomorrow was, as usual, another day!

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  1. […] V – The Adamant Shards: Rise of the Nocturnals Part I, Tea with Gri Fel, and the Moonsilver Choker. […]

  2. […] V – The Adamant Shards: Rise of the Nocturnals Part I, Tea with Gri Fel, and the Moonsilver Choker. […]

  3. […] V – The Adamant Shards: Rise of the Nocturnals Part I, Tea with Gri Fel, and the Moonsilver Choker. […]

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