The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice part VIII

New Zealand Rain Forest

Passing through the gate.

The field trip started bright and uncomfortably early the next morning; they’d need some extra time to make it to the Gate, and then they wanted most of the morning in the Amazon – which meant no other classes for the day and squeezing everyone’s schedule pretty hard. A couple of other gods were accompanying the herbalism instructor to watch over the students – and they did indeed check to make sure that everyone was properly armed and equipped. They frowned a bit at Charles’s collapsible staff – but, technically, it WAS a weapon, and his grandfather HAD signed the permission slip.

Only about twenty students were actually going. Quite a few of the divine parents had been hesitant to allow their children to leave Yu-Shan. Well, given how big the mess was on Earth, that was pretty understandable. Still, there were escorts, and the Amazon probably wasn’t THAT dangerous.

As for damaged-but-not-exploded manses in the area… The region was very, VERY, heavy on Wood and (especially!) Water manses, and there were several like that – although, not too unexpectedly, most of the functioning ones required no maintenance and either had claimants or their Hearthstones had been lost long, LONG, before.

Hm. With access to a manse he could probably trace a lost Hearthstone – but it would take some time. Perhaps a job for some Coatl on that (probably long-distant) day when he could spare some for the job?

Still, as far as “places needing fixing”“ went there was Rasarin’s Vista – once a small retreat, where Rasarin had retired to meditate and observe a network of gardens and small waterfalls hosting communities of water mammals that had been awakened to sapience. There, in rustic simplicity beside the falling waters, from the simple doings of those communities – which he claimed distilled civilization, with all it’s myriad complexities, down to it’s very essence, he had written some of the greatest classics of Yu-Shan.

Well yes, they were mostly regarded as light humor and poignant tales of innocence, and had been set to the side during the Usurpation and mostly forgotten – but many of Rasarin’s tales still echoed in the literature of later ages.

Hey, maybe he could find somebody who could do a worthwhile modern translation!

Anyway… given that Rasarin’s Vista had been about as weak as a Manse could get, that it was quite isolated, and that it’s hearthstone had done nothing but produce ink, apparently no one had regarded it as being worth the trouble to fix.

The pool at Sakoda had once been used to ash away poisons from people and foodstuffs that were bathed in its waters – but with the decline in the areas population, and the reduction in wyld energies in the area, that had no longer been important. The pool had been forgotten, it’s careful geomancy allowed to decay. It was another weak one, and its minor Stone of Purification had not been enough to justify the amount of work it would take to reclaim it with the area still virtually unpopulated…

The Spire of Kordat wasn’t as well recorded, although it was considerably more powerful – rating II or III most likely. It had been something of a triumph of multi-functional design once… It had regulated the flow of water throughout the area; controlling the rains, extracting and storing corruptive contaminants (which the hearthstone wielder could then discharge as blasts of supernaturally vitriolic acid) and ensuring both the fertility of the land and the purity of the waters in the vicinity. Before the Reshaping, when the area had been near the edge of creation, and the manse had lain along a mighty river flowing out of the borderlands, it’s functions had been quite vital. Many strange and terrible essences had been drawn from those waters, and much that might have threatened creation had been forestalled.

With its intricate geomancy disrupted by the Reshaping, however, the Manse was now out of control – and was apparently constantly recirculating a stream of deadly toxins, collecting and concentrating them around itself.

Finally, Thornhaven was a rating-III wood manse, apparently the creation of a secretive Lunar Exalted at some ill-recorded point. No one was too sure, in part because it’s power-failure and essence discharge had engulfed the place in vicious iron-hard thorns, in part because there might be some sort of defense system still active, and in part because it’s hearthstone – something to do with shaping wood apparently – simply wasn’t worth the trouble. Exactly what else the place might be good for was pretty much unknown.

He took along a good handbook on the forest, a book on it’s plants and herbs, and a copy of his class notes on the herbs and what little was available on the manses – and some maps. He was pretty sure he could manage food and such if there was an emergency and he needed more than his lunch and snacks, it WAS a rain forest after all… Oh yes! A rain slicker and they HAD asked that everyone bring a weapon. A collapsible staff then. Hm! There were ideas for a couple of minor artifacts that everyone in class might find very useful!

Wee! Field trips! Magical Ingredients! Manses! Things to fix!

Oops! “If you must leave the group, take a friend in case something happens”. That could be awkward. His two little snake-familiars probably didn’t count – and he didn’t really want to explain why they should anyway. Besides, they were pairing everybody up to run things by the “buddy system”.

Oh dear! He needed someone with… A tendency to sneak off and get into trouble? Hopefully coupled with a fair ability to take care of themselves? Or perhaps someone who was just good at keeping secrets? Any or all would be good!

Of course, he might well wind up with someone to look after depending on the instructors opinion of his reliability and abilities and sense. Of course, what they mostly knew about his said “thaumaturgy and artifice”, and neither was that fast or useful in a pinch.

It looked like he could try to get… Arith (whose father reportedly served as the god of a particular conspiracy at the Forbidding Manse of Ivy, although she wouldn’t say which one), Ferren (this particular classes clown, his parent was unemployed and had managed to snag a scholarship for his son. He seemed quite eager to leave the Celestial City and get into mischief), and Siranaya (who was also eager to get going. Her mother was the goddess of a particular poisonous flower).

Well, Arith was possible trouble, Ferren was fine, Siranaya… might well be hunting for some PARTICULAR flowers. After all, cultivating them in a few new spots would help see that her mother was never out of work.

He quietly got next to Siranaya; two private purposes could help keep secrets.

She was quite eager to see some flowers other than those in her mother’s garden – and off they went.

They emerged at the very bottom of the forest. It was dim, damp, and somewhat oppressive. On the other hand, the sheer greenery was magnificent, and the places where the sunlight streamed through the canopy were quite glorious.

Charles promptly consulted his GPS and maps. They were… deep in the Brazilian section of the forest, squarely in the northwestern section of the country.

Hm… There was obviously lots of potential for demesnes around here, and some quite potent extant ones with no one using them. As far as the damaged manses went… The Spire of Kordat was the handiest. Still, what he could get from travel thaumaturgy and divination suggested that the others – including Thornwood, which should be close to a hundred miles away – would be fairly short trips… Either something was trying to mislead him, or the structure of space was surprisingly thin – possible, the place had been pretty wyld-influenced back in the old days – or… Ah! Siranaya had some sort of forestwalking power, and it would extend to him while he was with her, AND it was compatible with travel thaumaturgy! That and his travel spells would turn visiting all four manses, AND finding a lot of the rarest herbs AND finding her flowers into a couple of hours stroll! That was SO COOL!

The teachers finished up explaining what all they expected everyone to look for – and what to watch out for – in fairly short order. Still, they did give permission for pairs who just HAD to go exploring to poke around as long as they stayed “reasonably” close by.

Siranaya is already on the lookout for flowers and herbs. She was happy to walk with him though, since what’s she was looking for apparently wasn’t around the gate… She was after a bouquet of her mother’s domain, but was a bit concerned about the effects it would have on him. Apparently mortal botanists hadn’t discovered the plant yet, and it was toxic to smell.

As long as Charles kept its existence a secret, she’d keep whatever HE was up to secret.

Well, that was fair enough… Charles resorted to divination to look for the flowers.

There were several patches to the southeast. The biggest was fairly close to the Spires of Kordat. It seemed like the toxic acid rain was quite good for them. Probably one of the species that concentrated toxins to discourage things that wanted to eat them. Charles put up a personal ward against noxious smells and plant toxins.

They zipped towards the flowers – and Siranaya was both surprised and pleased with their rate of progress… When they arrived, they could see that the Manse appeared to be a battered lighthouse. Instead of a flame, however, there is a great spout of water at the top that appeared to be the source of the rain – which pelted the Manse with toxic silver acid.

The flower patch was at the very edge of the demesne. They were quite lovely, with multiple colors, but the toxins were clear. A miasma of yellow dust surrounded them.

Siranaya took a deep sniff. As a daughter of the flower’s goddess, she was unaffected by the toxins – save for becoming more energetic. On normal people the flowers had a sedative effect that stopped the heart if too much pollen got into their system.

Definitely a flower to be cautious with. Charles did collect some pollen and a few seeds though. You never knew what would make a good ingredient!

The manse did look interesting. Overgrown in more sheltered patches where the rain didn’t fall, but the acid rain was definitely a turn-off. Still, toxic acid that had been distilled through a manse over and over again for millennia… definitely another possible ingredient! The acid wasn’t strong enough to get through his defenses, but it would burn your skin and eat equipment pretty handily if you let it get on you.

Definitely a good time for a personal ward – but he got some of the acid too.

Hm. There was a little more thaumaturgy going on inside. Was someone else here?

Siranaya should be safe enough for a few minutes. Nothing much should be willing to come near her while she was in THAT patch of wildflowers. He set an alarm-ward around the area just in case, set up some active detections (for magic, collapses, and similar hazards) and headed on in – mostly sticking with areas where the plants and animals already went in; there shouldn’t be too many defenses there. He’d prefer to reach the hearthstone room – but anywhere near it would do at a pinch.

The paths inside weren’t too bad, although he had to duck in a lot of places. It did indeed look like someone was either inside or had been recently; they’d cut the vines off the front door and some were still oozing sap.

How long did vines keep doing that in a rain forest anyway? He’d never studied that sort of thing.

No active magic or collapses, although there were pools of acid rain all over the floor. He kept an eye out for interesting plants and details. He hadn’t done much in the way of manse design yet!

It was… First Age naval decor on the walls and filigrees commonly used on First Age ships. Had the river been a port in the first age? The exact map relationships had… well, OK; most places there WAS no relationship. When Gaia rebuilt creation and shaped the incoming chaos into the rest of the observable universe (and more!) she hadn’t paid much attention to the old maps. It was likely that the only reason so many manses were intact was that they’d resisted the wyld long enough to be taken back into the universe during the reshaping.

Did that mean that there’d be some scattered across the solar system and galaxy? That might give rise to some very interesting…

Oh dear. We have met the progenitors and the ancient ones, and they were us. That could REALLY complicate life when earth met the aliens.

There did indeed seem to be other people inside – although they didn’t seem to be in the hearthstone room. Archeologists perhaps? They were talking up ahead.

Getting close enough to hear their conversation was easy enough; they seemed to be local Brazilians, at least judging from the Portuguese, and they were wearing very thick protective suits. There were no signs of active magic on them, or even of awakened Essence.

Oh dear! He didn’t speak Portuguese!

He could resort to telepathy of course… That would be kind of conspicuous, but then the fact that he was in the place without protective gear would tell them something was up anyway – and it looked like he’d have to go by them to reach the Hearthstone room.

Ah. There is a very nice mural behind two of them. It depicted Oliphem, the famed broken lighthouse golem of the First Age. Judging from their gestures, the two people in the protective garments seemed to be talking about it – and he could feel the Hearthstone behind it. There was probably a concealed entry there…Water manses were known for having a little built-in deception about them.

He headed on in, after throwing a minor disguising illusion to make himself look a bit different. If they had modern protections it was fairly likely that someone spoke English! (Note to self; find some “speak language” artifacts!). He’d need to be taking a very close look at that mural!

They saw him of course, and the first sentences were (equally of course) in Portuguese…

(Charles) “Oh, hello! Don’t mind me! I just need to look at that mural of Oliphem!”

Well, the obvious place for a trigger in a mural with that subject: the eye. There did indeed seem to be a place for the eye. It was empty.

(Leader, in surprisingly good English) “Why aren’t you a puddle right now? This place is highly toxic!”

(Charles) “Oh, I set up to resist that! You’ve got to be prepared when you go poking around places like this!”

Hm… There was nothing in the empty eye… Back in the first age the Solar Exalted Desus punched out Oliphem’s eye to make a naval battle easier on Deliberative forces. Ergo, there were two major likely ways to get in; either replace the eye – or act as if you were putting it out again.

Well, people often stuck fingers into holes, but rarely filled them with fitted glass. Replacing the eye would be a far more secure trigger. The hearthstone bearer or someone who was attuned to the manse probably wouldn’t need one – but maintenance people needed to be able to get in every so often.

The explorers were looking at him with some confusion. Evidently they had no idea at ALL of what they were getting into – and were quite befuddled by his ability to withstand the acid and the toxins.

Yes, there was definitely some sort of magical trigger centered around the eye…

It didn’t take much magic to melt a specimen bottle into a replacement eye – although that ALSO seemed to confuse the explorers, even if they couldn’t see what was going on beyond a few moments of glow.

(Charles) “Ah, well, I’m wanting to open the control room and do something about this acid rain… It’s really not healthy for the forest!”

(Leader) “It’s something. I’d like to know where it’s coming from, so we can stop it.”

(Charles) “I suspect that it’s simply being created from the energy-overflow! What with all the damage, the place really isn’t working properly!”

The mural lowered once he replaced the eye… The manse’s hearthstone chamber was decorated with images of acidic waves. In the center, the hearthstone rested atop the requisite black jade pedestal – and the explorers were making a beeline for it. At least they had SOME idea of what they were looking for then. Was someone sending in the expendable minions? That was a rotten thing to do! Still, the fact that the stone was here pretty well indicated that no one was attuned to the place – and that it had been broken down long enough for SOME sort of stability to be reached.

He reached out telekinetically and yanked it to himself before they could get there. He did need to use it for a few minutes after all.

The cracked and pitted Hearthstone snapped into his hands like a bullet. The explorers froze – and turned to look at him. The other one, who had remained silent up to this point, began shaking and whimpering as he pointed to him.

(Charles) “Oh, stop it! That’s just telekinesis… Now lets see if I can get this place back under control…”

He accelerated the attunement process. He was in sort of a rush.

(Leader, unnervedly) “What just happened?”

(Charles) “Well, I need the focus-stone to try to reset the place! It really is malfunctioning very badly at the moment! I’m pretty sure that it’s not supposed to rain acid all over everywhere!”

(Leader, crossing his arms) “You seem to know a lot about what’s going on here. What the heck is this place? We were sent here to survey it, and I can’t find a source for the acid anywhere.”

(Charles) “Well, one minute first…”

That was better! Stabilizing the energy flows and feeding the excess into regenerating the structure was bringing things back under control – and restoring the hearthstone – very nicely! It was only rating-II, so it wasn’t too hard.

(Charles) “Anyway… It’s a construct designed to focus and channel geomantic essence-flows. According to my sources, it was designed to control the rain and purify the water in the area, but has been malfunctioning for some time, so as long as I was in the area I decided to have a go at fixing it! Most of the acid is probably simply being created from the improperly controlled energy flows.”

(Leader, gaping) “Wait, ‘geomantic Essence flows’? Are you serious?”

(Charles) “Well, yes, of course. What else would it run on?”

The leader pinched himself, and the other guy said something in Portugese that sounded mildly frustrated. It looked like the leader translated what he’d told him – and the frustration became disbelief.

(Charles) “It’s very old magic! From back when Creation was a lot smaller!”

(Leader) “Oh. Magic. I guess you’re using magic to protect yourself.” He rubbed his helmet. “I knew this job was too good to be true. Okay, fine, you can use the stone to fix the place. Just… give it back to us when you’re done, okay? Whoever hired us said there’d be funny stones.”

Hrm. That could be kind of dangerous!

(Charles) “Who hired you? This really could have been pretty dangerous for you if any old defenses were still running!”

(Leader) “We got the job down in Brasilia. Guy who hired us said somebody hired him as a middleman. He wasn’t too specific on who, but the money was good. Now what are you exactly? You’re no normal kid if you can survive THIS.”

(Charles) “Ah. Well, he might be kind of upset; now that I’ve attuned it to start a self-repair running, it won’t attune to anyone else until I release it – which would take some time. Still, there’s no way he or she could blame that on you, especially going through a middleman… Anyway, I’m a mage and I specialize in repairing things. There’s a lot that needs fixing, so I get a lot of business and lots of practice!”

(Leader) “Okay, is there anybody with you? We were told to do this on the hush-hush.”

(Charles) “Oh, not to worry! I do have a friend along, but we’ll be leaving in a few minutes… Oh, the stone might be important later, would you give this message to your buyer to go with it? (he gave them an email-drop box contact point). He or she might want to get into touch!”

It looked like… the acid would shut down normally as the manse completed repairing itself. That was good. The proper-rains-and-fertility thing would go back to normal too. Well, none of that was likely to destroy the area. He gave the trio the hearthstone and departed.

Siranaya had gathered a good deal of flowers (and put them in a well-sealed terrarium), and was ready to search for other herbs. There were those other three Manses though… Well, no reason not to combine errands!

Charles checked first. The flowers needed some acid for proper growth, but it looked like the soil was naturally acid enough – carbonic acid, from all the decaying plant material and the rain – for them to do just fine… He put a regrowth spell and some minor long-duration wards on them. Species with relatively small distributions were depressingly vulnerable.

He tucked away his notes, and collected herbs and samples, and ingredients, and everything else, and they headed for the next manse…

The two surveyors – wait, hadn’t there been a third? Maybe he’d run off or something? – were trying to stick with them – not QUITE making direct contact, but coming along behind. Would that be enough to get them included in the travel-spells?

(Charles) “Look, do you need something? You might as well just ask.”

(Leader) “Uh, can we go along with you two? I think we’re way over our heads here, and I’m not above asking for help.”

(Charles) “What was your job here anyway? Just surveying?”

(Leader) “Yeah, but we were expecting normal ruins. Acid rain generators weren’t mentioned. And you said that wasn’t even part of that place’s security, too.”

(Charles) “Were you supposed to bring back more peculiar gems?”

(Leader) “Yeah, the guy said we should get any we found.”

(Charles, sighing) “Honestly, you should probably go back with the one. Whoever wants them obviously knows how they work and can draw on their power – and still thinks that finding them is too dangerous. Getting one is probably more than he really expected; any that were easy to get to would have been removed long ago.”

(Leader) “Well, damn. This gets worse with everything you say.” He speaks Portuguese to the other guy, who nodded. “Yeah, I think we’re going to cut our losses.”

They departed – apparently not wanting to fool with magic any more than they had to. Well, that was more than fair enough really…

They found quite a few more really good herbs and plants along the way thanks to Siranaya’s botanical senses and his divinations – and neither Rasarin’s Vista nor Sakoda were especially complex or interesting. All you had to do was duck in and walk to the hearthstone chamber. Both minimally powerful, and both with flawed hearthstones that would restore themselves shortly. A minor Inkstone and a purification stone.

Charles fixed them up. Hearthstones were fun anyway!

Woodthorn, however, was surrounded by a ring of short trees. It was overgrown, but it was showing no signs of power failure other than the thorns – yet no one seemed to be attuned to it.

Saranaya was using all the rapid travel to gather lots of exotic herbs, although she was a little curious about why he was so interested in the Manses. Was he trying to get a home behind Mom and Dad’s back?

(Charles) “They’re neat, and I want to learn to design them! And these mostly need fixing, but the hearthstones are still handy for thaumaturgy even if they aren’t up to much else. “

Saranaya raised an eyebrow, but then she seemed to be as passionate about herbs and plants as Charles was about artifacts and manses.

She did seem curious about Woodthorn though. For starters, those weren’t trees… They had definite traces of Malfeas surrounding them. Yuck! The manse itself seemed to be wood aspected, and not particularly tainted or anything – but it had sixteen demons around it. They seemed to have shapeshifted into trees – but a lot of demons could shapeshift, so there was no telling their true form as of yet.

That was kind of bad. Sixteen demons would be real trouble (if not fatal), and there was no way he could get in without confronting at least four… As curious as he was, it probably wasn’t worth that. Worse, it would put Saranaya in danger.

Woodthorn was dedicated to woodcraft, the Hearthstone could supposedly shape any kind of wood (including the magical varieties), and the place seemed to be rating-III – which was the most powerful one today. .

(Charles) “Gee, I wonder what’s up with this!?”

(Siranaya, who also seemed to smell the Malfean Essence, since she was holding her nose) “Should we tell the instructors?”

(Charles) “I think so! I think that this has to have been within the last year, so something must be up!”

They picked up their massive packs full of herbs and headed off. Between them, it wasn’t much of a trip. Charles might have risked asking the demons what was up – they might be laying siege to someone or something, and be willing to say after all – if he’d been alone, but he couldn’t take that kind of risk with someone else along.

They got to an instructor without much difficulty.

(Charles) “Hey, we thought we should tell you! There’s a bunch of demons hanging around pretending to be trees over that way! Around some old manse!”

(Instructor) “What? How many?”

(Charles) “Sixteen. Over that way, about three and a half miles I think.”

He will sent off the two other instructors; one to pick up the other students, the other to check that out.

Charles set up an anti-demon ward around the gate and the area where the other students were collecting. The instructor seemed grateful for that, and reinforced it with their own Charms.

Soon, the students were gathered, and the instructors were sorting out what to do – as well as asking Charles and Siranya for more details. What kind of Manse was it? Did the demons spot him and Siranaya? Were any of them above First Circle?

Charles could give them plenty of details about the demons, the manse, and the situation – but he didn’t know if they’d been spotted.

The primary, plant god, instructor’s eyes narrowed.

(Instructor) “Hmm. Silakzon.”

Those were… Oh yes! Brass saplings!, First Circle demons who sucked the life out of people and buried them beneath their roots. They weren’t mobile unless they were on the hunt, but they were pretty nasty things.

Charles added a second level of wards – and there was shortly a rustling in the brush.

(Charles) “Bother! I suspect we’ve been followed in hopes of lunch!”

Several brass saplings emerged from the forest. Their branches were multi-jointed and lined with brass leaves. While they didn’t seem to have any sensory organs, they seemed to know where everyone was… The instructors were moving to defend the area as the students evacuated.

Drat it! At least no one else was in the way – but if he waited, people might get hurt! He had one Thunder Wolf’s Howl stored – that was big enough to hit all of them – and it was probably a good time. Fortunately for explanations, that was only terrestrial circle though. There were plenty of people and gods who could have stored it for him. Unfortunately, it would need to be enough. He didn’t have any other major offensive terrestrial spells stored.

Charles tended to underestimate his power… The sonic blast demolished the Silakzon in a cloud of brass shards and vitriolic sap. There were frightened God-Blooded kids and astonishment from the instructors. They seemed to recognize the spell – although they realized that the lack of casting meant it had been stored in an artifact. They knew that Charles had an impressive array of artifacts, but that level of sorcerous power was rare even among the Gods.

(Charles) “I hope there aren’t any more! That was the only attack spell on that level I had stored…”

(Instructor) “Well… that was very impressive, Charles. Let’s go through the gate before more show up. I think I need to report this to the proper divisional head.”

(Charles) “And I’ll need to get some help getting another spell stored in case something else nasty comes up! It did work pretty well though!”

That wasn’t even untrue; he’d need the “help” of the Libram to get a one-shot spell formula to refill the slot. He didn’t actually know the spell directly.

The instructors would like to know who’d cast that spell for im. A Thunder Wolf’s Howl that powerful took considerable skill and Essence.

(Charles) “Uhm… I’m not really supposed to tell. Is that OK?”

They didn’t pry too deeply – although that didn’t stop the speculation in the teacher’s lounge. “Who in Yu-Shan is his parent? Just how connected is that kid?!?”

At least everyone had gotten back all right, other than being scared. Perhaps he should make some protective and enhancement items for the rest of the current class?

Darn! He’d missed fixing one due to demons. Pesky demons!

And it was off to work, for another rather dull day. Construction was coming along nicely though, and the spider janitor-maintenance man was finishing up with the painting.

Charles did put up his observation-monitoring spell, but spent most of his time on design work, basic tinkering, the occasional check round the place – mostly to make sure that everything was self-repairing possibly, and on the last of the repainting. That should (and apparently did) bore any spies to tears.

There were a couple of suspicious technicians who seemed to be watching him more closely than expected. Had they heard a report of sorcery, or were they up to something?

Charles resulted to total boredom tactics – consulting the lists of orders, lining them up against ingredient stocks, complexity, and availability of designs, and then shuffling combinations to go for the greatest efficiency.

That bored even the line-workers, who had nothing else to watch but their perfectly-functioning machines. By the time things wound down, no one was watching him at all…

There was a message though. It seemed that Grandpa was waiting at his local residence to see him.

Oh bother! Waiting now?!?

He burned a LOT of power getting the ambrosia cookers done, and then headed for his local residence!

Grandpa seemed happy to see him anyway. As always, he looked very powerful, vital, and strong…

(Gramps) “Charles, my boy! I hope I didn’t interrupt anything important, but I have only a short time in the Celestial City.”

(Charles) “Nothing really! I was just finishing up at the Factory-Cathedral! (Hug) And how is everything? I haven’t seen you in weeks…”

(Gramps) “I have been quite busy, but that is par for the course! I thought I should take some time out to see you. I trust you have been doing well?”

(Charles) “Oh yes! All the classes have been going well, and I’ve been quite busy making things. That field trip did turn out to have quite a lot of Silakzon demons in the area, but it wasn’t too bad! I got complained at mildly for bringing Hipparions back though, but I did meet Gri Fel!”

(Gramps) “Oh, you can’t do anything without making some Celestial functionary angry. I trust you handled it well, or you wouldn’t be here talking to me. And Gri Fel? I had heard he was in line for a new position.”

(Charles) “Oh good! He seemed nice!”

That was kind of fast… He hadn’t even gotten the gifts they were going to use when applying for those jobs yet! They were meeting in a day or so… Did Gramps have information sources in fate or something? He‘d always been ridiculously well-connected, even by Celestial standards.

Oops! That probably meant that “Did you know that someone’s been supplying your grandson with major offensive magic” figured into this visit?

He did start asking about that shortly.

(Charles) “Oh… Well, I’ve got some spell-storing gizmos, and a selection of formula, and a book that lets you use a spell formula once after studying it for awhile, and some aides to back it up with extra power… So it’s sort of stored up by committee, and I thought I should have at least one attack spell stored, just in case! Was that a bad idea?”

(Gramps) “Ah, your Libram, if I recall correctly. Well… they probably weren’t expecting a boy your age to have THAT kind of magic stored. Most gods give their children defensive or warding magics, if they even have spell-storing artifacts. I’m not sure it was bad as much as indiscreet. Was anyone hurt who shouldn’t have been? Your instructors say only demons were harmed.”

(Charles) “I’m sorry! It sort of seemed called for though… demons could really hurt somebody. And it was only demons unless somebody was mixed in with them with hiding magic or something. A pack of them came to attack everybody.”

(Gramps, meditatively) “You acted quite decisively, there. Most god-blooded children have no chance against that many demons. I suppose it’s just the usual concerns about sorcerers and all.”

(Charles) “Aw. But I LIKE sorcery… Oh! I found some manses down there too that just needed some cleaning up!”

(Gramps, smiling slightly) “Well, I suppose this had to happen eventually. Many fear us for our powers. Better that you experience some of this as a boy, rather than as a man with more wide-ranging concerns. And really? Tell me what you found, my boy.”

He happily sat down and listened while Charles told him all about it – and showed him the two hearthstones he’d picked up – and told him about the “surveying party”.

(Gramps) “I am glad you had a productive search. And that does sound suspicious. Brasilia, you say? I might have to send someone to investigate.”

(Charles) “I figured it was just somebody speculating – but sending uninformed people is just mean! They’d certainly have been killed if the field trip hadn’t been that day!”

(Gramps) “It does seem consistent with a local Terrestrial seeking new territory. People there can be desperate.”

(Charles) “Well, they might get in touch; the hearthstone the surveyors went off with is attuned, so they can’t use it and I sent an Email address along.”

(Gramps) “Do tell me how that goes if you do hear anything.”

Gramps had a present for him! A personal organizer, complete with some games to play when he wasn’t working. Information appeared on a crystal display, and it was powered by Essence so the batteries didn’t run out.

(Gramps) “It’s not as exciting as some of the things I’ve found, I must admit, but you are taking on more responsibilities these days.”

(Charles) “Neat! And that reminds me, the demons almost made me forget… Could you use these? (He produced a Rod of Construction and an Amulet of Shadow Walking).

(Gramps) “Hmm. Those will both be useful. Did you make these yourself?”

(Charles) “Well, yes… The designs were in the libraries, and there were all those tools and things, and the ingredients were available, so…”

(Gramps) “You’re learning quickly. These must have taken many hours of work. Not overworking, I hope?”

(Charles) “Well there’s such a lot to do!”

(Gramps) “There always is, but it’s important to rest.” (Gramps checked him over, but he was fine.) “But you seem all right. Just don’t overdo it. Even the Exalted have to take breaks, and you most certainly should.” (He patted Charles’s head, and got another hug) “I am afraid I must be going though. If all goes well, I shouldn’t be so long next time.”

(Charles) “Awww… Well, I know you have lots to do. (even if he had no idea what it might be). If you need any more gadgets, I can try to find them for you if that will help!”

(Gramps) “I would appreciate it. There are some things even I have trouble finding.”

He listed an dd collection of things ranging from singing staves to display glass for Essence communications equipment. Nothing too hard for a non-Exalt to find though… Well, maybe the singing staves. All of it was within his capabilities to make or find though.

Hm… Gramps had many talents, but likely was NOT an artificier – or he’d be more aware of how long that sort of stuff usually took to make.

Gramps hugged him in parting and took his leave. As usual, the gods on the street maintained a respectful distance. One of these days he had to find out what Gramps did. He certainly had easy passage in and out of the Celestial City, and he definitely had pull.

That left nothing but a couple of minor errands, and – if he was lucky – an uneventful day tomorrow (save, perhaps, for some odd attitudes and questions among the other students).

4 Responses

  1. […] VIII – Reaping what is Sown:  Field trip to the Amazon, Manses and Demon Trees. Visits with Grandfather. […]

  2. […] VIII – Reaping what is Sown:  Field trip to the Amazon, Manses and Demon Trees. Visits with Grandfather. […]

  3. […] VIII – Reaping what is Sown:  Field trip to the Amazon, Manses and Demon Trees. Visits with Grandfather. […]

  4. […] VIII – Reaping what is Sown:  Field trip to the Amazon, Manses and Demon Trees. Visits with Grandfather. […]

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