The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice, Part XI

Full Moon view from earth In Belgium (Hamois).

Contemplating The Moon

Saturday was uneventful, with research replacing his usual classes and a routine workday at the Factory-Cathedral. There weren’t even any spies today. Either they were getting too subtle for him, were taking the day off too, or he’d just bored them all to the point where they only checked intermittently. After all, Yu-Shan contained a lot of far more important people to spy on…

For his after-hours project he ran off an independent batch of Fivefold Harmonic Adapters just in case something went wrong or there was some sabotage or something. It would be REALLY embarrassing to miss his very first production schedule with such a simple artifact!

OK, if he had to use them it might be a bit hard to explain to the staff – but he’d think of something if it came to that.

That night went to fiddling around with a new idea… A basic link to a power-source, like he was planning to use on those swords, was fairly basic thaumaturgy; you set up a link to call spirits, to transmit long-range spells over, to send messages, to tap into the power of patrons or areas, and for a thousand other purposes. So how hard would it be to shield that link so that no one could disrupt it? If you could do that, and fix up an appropriate power source, you could do some quite interesting things!

Sadly, that turned out to be Class-C if you wanted a single perfectly-protected link, Class-D if you wanted to perfectly protect multiple links. A bit pricy, but still with possibilities – especially since the effect would be fairly well concealed to start with.

For the mornings messages and mail there were… two packages, which the Inukami had checked and brought in. Oh, and stuff to make for Gramps – which was a whole new category of unofficial order!

As for the packages… Breakfast Pizza? Candy he forgot he ordered? More grass? Order of Autochthon? A Deathlord surprise package? A request from Mr Lunar for help with his curse? A chancel full of pudding? Manse seeds for a grow-your-own kit? A broken artifact with a “please repair and ship to” sticker?

One was from Lytek, thanking him for the report. It included a package of dried nuts, dates, and raisins. Another from Ms. Cress, thanking him for his help the previous evening. As a small token of her appreciation, she’d included a tiny ambrosia-wrought model of a factory cathedral. Inside the factory cathedral, there was… another note? Oh! That one was from the Lunar fellow; thanking him for getting him to Atlanta, where he’d been able to complete his Waning Moon task. He also said he is sorry if this letter got into any place where it damaged anything, but he wanted to make sure that no one could track it. It was signed Wide-Eyed Dreamer, with Bright-Moon Shiarra as the writer.

Well, that was two thank-you notes and a your-welcome note (since there was a message drop in one of the wastebaskets by the city hall included). It was nice that it had worked out for the poor fellow! He told them that, if they needed anything else, they should let him know and he’d see what he could do.

Which was also a reminder to check on the Mason’s…. They had indeed gotten their tools back. A good thing he’d sent a small spirit along to make sure though!

They had, and they were much appreciative of the generous supply of materials and how prompt he’d been.

Ah good. He didn’t want to forget things!

Next up was… the meeting at the museum. They’d put that on a Sunday both because he’d had to admit that he wasn’t so busy that day, because they weren’t so busy that day, and to keep it out of the public eye. They’d probably want to see the machine too, but for that they’d have to adjourn to his normal Atlanta residence and his “laboratory”.

Well, at least his revised-to-actually-function machine was ready, and he’d used a bit of instant genius and some Inukami and the boosts from the Hoenheim Manse and all to design a technomagical system that would actually work… OK, the entire machine was 50% specialized thaumaturgic ritual, but there was nothing wrong with that.

It was off to the museum with a box full of papers and disks and some components and things.

There was a bit of an embarrassing incident at the entrance when a schoolteacher tries to usher him in with the rest of the fifth graders who were on a field trip for a special presentation though.

(Charles) “Sorry! I’m not with your group, I’ve got an appointment!”

It took some dissuading, but eventually the teachers conceded that he didn’t seem to be one of theirs – at least once the lady at the information desk assured them that Charles did indeed have an appointment.

The meeting room was both anticipatory and engulfed in argument. Dr. Valenti was there, as was Dr. Winston the veterinarian. They were squabbling with a young woman who looked like a fellow researcher. Several other scientists were there as well, eager to see what had caused an extinct species to arise. Fortunately, since they might well be there for hours, it was a nice meeting room – with comfortable chairs, coffee and snacks already set out, and a state-of-the-art projector.

(Charles, parking his box of stuff on the nearest table) “Allo!”

(Valenti) “Ah, good morning, Charles. I trust you’re not too bothered by the early appointment?”

(Charles) “Not at all! Things have been very busy recently!”

Although he then yawned, and quite spoiled the impression. Still, he was glad to accept a cup of juice while he was handing around briefing books. It was probably a good thing that this was going to be a debate about methodology rather than possibility; after all, the evidence of them being back was kind of indisputable.

The briefing book caused rather a lot of puzzlement though. It included a lot of bits of the machine (albeit not much on the proper assembly sequence, which – in defiance of all the usual rules of electronics – was rather critical, pages of material on temporal resonance via treating electricity as an aspect of something much more fundamental, and how that information could be processed, compiled, and imprinted on a matrix. It was a through mix of electronics, magnetic resonance imaging, and talismanic thaumaturgy.

It all came down to a minor thaumaturgical artifact effect; given a chunk of something, you could get a detailed three-dimensional image of how it had actually looked and been put together when it was alive. After that, the model-building effect could be done in plastic or – as he’d done it – with a bit more thumaturgic ritual and a protoplasmic matrix. There was absolutely no reason why “build a complex device” and “operate it while focused intently on the results” couldn’t be a technical achievement and an occult ritual at the same time if you were good enough to design it that way – although any mundane technician would say that half the system served no useful purpose whatsoever.

You could get nice accurate images and decent physical reconstructions – but the resolution was too limited to build working cells and molecules unless you were insanely good though. .

It was basically what he’d described in the first place back at the beginning. Sadly, to many of the museum scientists – who, as biologists and historians, hadn’t focused on electronics, physics, and thaumaturgy – it didn’t make a lot of sense. Still, there were plenty of diagrams and pictures of the actual gizmo and it’s components though, and it was hard to argue with the creatures down the hall…

Charles didn’t try to explain how he’d gotten actual live creatures other than “too much power”.

(Charles, after a lengthy discussion) “Does that help?”

Most of them were still studying their briefing books. The young woman, who had been introduced as Dr. Ceiliana Aguero, took a particular interest.

Hm. Consultant on unexplained phenomena? Ah! An anthropologist, with a particular focus on cultural rituals. She might well have a better idea of what was going on – even if the others did seem to regard her as a bit of a crank. She’d studied reports of weird stuff rather than dismissing them (just as she was studying his briefing book now), and might even have experienced a few things.

As opposed to Dr. Winston, who was even more confused than most of the rest. He was, after all, a veterinarian, and was working out of his field of study. Dr. Valenti and the other scientists were puzzling it over… Well, they were used to using tools that they didn’t entirely understand.

(Charles) “Uhm… I know all of that’s a lot of material, and complicated, and more than a bit off the beaten track, but it does seem to work… Anyway, I’ve got a new system together, and shielded against power, temporal, and thaumic surges, and so it ought to be good for the basic reconstructive scans down to the small-structure level, although not for cellular and subcellular stuff.”

(Dr. Aguero) “And he’s right. It does work for that.”

Somehow Charles got the feeling that she knew a little more than she was letting on there. An agent for one group or another? If she’d gone through all that technomancy that fast, and knew that it would work, she was either a very lucky guesser, had had a brilliant insight, or had at least some practical experience. Still, that was really all to the good!

(Charles) “Would you like to work with the system a bit?”

(Dr. Aguero) “It’s intriguing. Let’s see here. Dr. Valenti, would you trust me with one of your fern samples?”

Dr. Valenti agreed in short order – fern samples weren’t TOO uncommon – and had one retrieved before they all adjourned to the actual “lab”.

There were some very odd expressions when they got a look at the lab. It had a LOT of weird stuff in it – an odd mix of “Modern Lab”, “Alchemists Shop”, and “Collection of Childish Junk” – although it did have one rather large, renovated machine. At least there were no V-shaped wires with electrical arcs jumping between them – although there was a plasma ball that had been rigged up to charge up your bioenergy aura and make it visible for an easier look.

Of course, that would only be apparent if someone put their hand on it and wound up glowing for awhile. Nobody did though, which was actually slightly disappointing.

Everyone but Dr. Aguero found the laboratory pretty odd… Her expression was somewhere between nonplussed and amused.

(Dr Aguero) “This looks like something a young prodigy would build in his garage. Nevertheless, I’m curious.” (To Valenti) “George, if you could bring the fern sample over?”

Dr. Aguero ran the scan and reconstruction of the fern – producing a good reproduction of the complete original organism – but not a live one. It was still more than enough to cause some wonder. It was also greatly reassuring… Even if the effect was poorly-understood, at least a part of it was reproducible! And it actually seemed useful as well!

(Charles) “Unfortunately, since the molecular-level reconstruction is pretty generic, this is only good for looking at the structure. Tissue strengths will tend towards average, rather than having proper lignin and cellulose chains to hold things rigid. Thus, when we take it out of the solution, it may tend to flop a bit. It should still really help in getting soft-tissue anatomical details though!”

(Dr. Valenti) “Yes. I’m still befuddled as to how it works, but more research should solve that problem.”

Possible applications of this technology, even if it couldn’t make live species all the time, were clearly running through everyone’s heads – Dr. Valenti thinking about extinct species, Dr. Winston thinking of some of the medical possibilities, and everyone else thinking of their own fields… There were things ranging from police work on through medieval history. It was amazing what a difference good scanners made in almost any discipline.

Dr. Aguero smiled slightly to herself.

(Charles) “Anyway, it was fun getting it to work!”

(Dr. Aguero) “It must have taken many months of research to do this. I’m impressed.”

(Charles) “Thank you!”

Looking at the insides of things… Charles made a note to himself! He mustn’t forget! Once he learned to attune a manse whether or not the other people attuned to it objected, he had a manse to damage slightly. At the moment, the Cauldron-Born had more-or-less free access to Yu-Shan if they wanted to use it; one of them had had a Celestial Manse with a Hearthstone that allowed him to pop in and out of Yu-Shan. Even if the Sidereals were doubtless guarding the place – which would make getting in and out awkward – it wasn’t a good idea to let the Cauldron-born have that access any longer than absolutely necessary. It was going to be a pretty delicate operation.

There were questions about what had inspired Charles to build this… device, how his grandfather felt about it, what safety measures he had needed to take, how he’d tested it, and other technical issues. Dr. Valenti was fairly sure that it would take a dangerous (and probably quite uncontrollable) amount of energy to make life on demand with this device.

(Charles) “Uhm… Well, mostly I wanted to look at some extinct species, Grandfather usually mostly leaves this house to me. The test rigs generally only needed fuses, this design isn’t supposed to make live things. The main test was the one that made the Hyperions, and yes, the first full-power test there did get a very excessive energy surge. This model has much better shielding!”

(Dr. Aguero, looking serious) “Are you going to revive dead humans next? That would be a logical next step, though I’d watch out for zombies.”

It was hard to tell if she was joking or not. From the looks on the other scientists’ faces, they seemed to be assuming that she was. Charles was not so sure.

(Charles) “I don’t think so! That would be pretty unethical, and you wouldn’t get dependable memory-structures even if you could duplicate the power surge that got the hyperions… With them, of course, a little confusion isn’t all that bad. I don’t think it would work right anyway!”

(Dr. Aguero, looking visibly relieved) “That’s good. You must have studied the ethics on that.”

That made it fairly certain that Dr Aguero knew enough thaumaturgy to know why that would not work. Probably a test question there. From the looks around the rest of the room, they seemed to be assuming that the question was just a part of the zombie craze. They seemed to regard her as a crank.

(Dr. Valenti) “Celiana, can we return to the matter at hand?”

(Dr. Aguero) “Of course, George.”

Given that the discussions had taken a good chunk of the morning an Inukami using a basic illusion-disguise as a human arrived with lunch – pizza and hamburgers and chicken strips and all that sort of thing… The scientists would just have to put up with the “greasy kids stuff”.

They were most appreciative, although none of them could recall ordering lunch (“greasy kids stuff” was not a problem; being adults they’d all had far more exotic foods). It seemed to explain a few things though… The boy was in the care of servants. That might mean a family tragedy of some sort, and it CERTAINLY meant wealth – but it did tend to explain the focus on projects and distractions. A lonely, and clearly brilliantly intelligent, child might get up to all kinds of things.

A graduate assistant asked if Charles had ever thought of patenting his device.

(Charles) “Not yet really… I’m not sure I want to until I’m sure it can’t be recreating extinct viruses and things. I might have to patent some bits though.”

The aide was a bit surprised, but agreed that it was probably for the best.

Charles probed for a moment. Unless the man was extremely skilled in both Thaumaturgy and Electronics, trying to reconstruct the system from what was in the books would take tremendous quantities of work – mostly on the occult side – and researching some of the sub-components. Still, trying could be kind of dangerous, and not just from the device. Even if you got it figured out, you could bring down all kinds of trouble on yourself from the Dragon-Blooded and such if you went rushing off to patent it.

The thought was in the back of the man’s head – but he didn’t seem to have the kind of skills or connections that he’d need to get anywhere with it or to get around the fact that the museum folks would support the “stolen research” argument. He’d have to check on him once in awhile though.

He might be able to do something with the technical side – but his occult skills were just about enough to get his sun sign and maybe play a wizard in D&D. If he did decide to be naughty, he was probably just in for some frustration.

Retaining some lawyers was probably in order though. Fortunately he had plenty of money.

He had an Inukami start researching lawyers. If he keeps a bunch of the component-specs out of things, he should be able to patent without giving away enough for anyone but an advanced thaumaturge to build one anyway.

The Inukami got right on that.

There was more discussion and argument. Everyone agreed that it needed to be kept under wraps for now… There was also some discussion of the Hipparion herd. A few of the mares had mated.

The meeting broke up a little while thereafter. The museum folk wanted to keep in touch with him, since “you seem to be a promising young scientist” – and they wanted to continue playing with the machine (and to continue getting reports on when it would be safe to duplicate, and how the original power surge had happened, and so on).

Well, they had his Atlanta address. .

Besides, he’d got round them AND made some progress towards getting Thaumaturgy back into circulation as a respectable discipline! That was good all around!

Dr. Aguero also wanted his e-mail address; she believed that the device would be very useful for her research.

He gave her one of them – and, while he was at it, checked with his new essence-powered PDA to see if he had any Email about that water manse!

He did. There was a message asking what he wanted with the place.

Well that was blunt. He sent a note back that basically said “It needed fixing. If you’re planning to take care of it, I won’t interfere with your attuning to it provided that you leave the flowers growing in these locations (he specified the areas where his classmate’s mother’s special flowers grew) alone and don’t destroy the local ecosystem (since that made the local gods very unhappy). In exchange, if you need help with some other bit of artificing or repair work, you can drop me a line and I’ll see what I can do”.

There was no immediate reply.

And the conference should placate the scientists for at least a month or two! That left most of the afternoon free!

Hm… To forge the Lion Ring he needed a friendly Lunar to help. To make Stargates he needed a Sidereal to help. To make some elemental stuff, he’d need some dragon-bloods to help. All of those were a bit tricky.

Oh wait! First he had to go off and see the keeper of Saturn’s Mercy Manse! And check for any major disturbances at the Water Manse, and he needed to check on Thornwood (if he could find a good reason to visit the amazon) and to look for ways to help with Gri Fel and Terapshim’s application! He also had to check on the rules about bringing treasure hordes found on Earth to Yu-Shan (after so many millennia there were probably a heap of them), and make Gramps stuff, and lots of other things!

He went past the water manse to see if it was having problems.

Beach Street was still much as it had been the day that they’d raided the place – although he could feel better warding around that particular alleyway. There were signs of geomantic essence disturbances though – and, far more ominously, it felt like one or more of the essence-vent fountains had taken a hit. There was a successfully-set up patch kit mitigating the damage, and it seemed like the building itself was fine and the golems were firmly under control – but if the essence vents weren’t fixed the buildup could get nasty.

That was not a good thing to have in the middle of Atlanta. Of course, to fix it most readily, he’d have to attune the place – and they might not want to let him do that. It would take either the consent of the Hearthstone bearer or a majority of those currently attuned in favor – and they were pretty security-minded.

Oh well! He sent them an offer to drop by and fix the place for them!

That actually caused quite an argument inside… It was mitigated by the fact that Charles and his friends hadn’t caused any geomantic damage or long-term injuries when they’d invaded, but they still weren’t even sure what he was! Were they supposed to let him attune himself to their stronghold?

On the other hand… Other options for fixing their manse were few and far between, the patch kit might not hold for all that much longer, they hadn’t been able to find the plans or the architect who’d designed the place in the first place, and sitting on top of a potential disaster wasn’t the most palatable of options. Besides… how much damage could one kid do? At least if he was attuned to the place he probably wouldn’t want it exploding!

It wasn’t actually all that long before he got a guarded “yes”.

Charles took along six Coatl under his clothes – one ready to uncork a teleport, just in case – but came right over with a single visible Inukami assistant.

The Morgans had already arranged to have the Hearthstone bearer and one of their more knowledgeable geomancers on hand. They wanted to have someone monitoring him.

He was met by a genial fellow in a nice suit.

(Raymond) “Ah, you must be Charles Dexter Ward. I’m Raymond Cisneros.”

The Inukami was cloaked as a human, at least until it was undercover inside the wards – but they could easily spot that. It was only Thaumaturgy. Still, Charles was bothered for a moment! Drat! They’d found out his real name!

Oh yeah, that would have been easy enough to do by simply tracing which students transferred out or vanished after that mess at the local high school.

(Charles) “Yes I am, and I’m pleased to meet you Mr Cisneros!”

(Raymond) “Well, we shouldn’t wait much longer. The Morgans are eager to see what you can do.”

They headed on in – although Charles got the feeling that Mr. Cisneros wasn’t nearly as militaristic as the usual people here. The posture was just too relaxed.

Still a rank-4 manse with essence vents capping a rank-5 demesne of course – and there was no fixing that without a complete redesign. The architecture was modern – and were it not for the fountains, it could be taken as a mid-twentieth century office tower, albeit one located in an industrial area.

The damaged fountain was in sorry shape. The area had been cleaned up, and the debris saved and secured in case it was needed for the repair – but whatever had damaged it had broken all the way through, leaving essence sputtering from the remains. The area was cordoned off, and stern-looking men and women were guarding it – and eying Charles somewhat suspiciously.

(Charles) “Well that looks fairly obvious! Is there any other damage?”

(Raymond) “The house head’s not telling me. His son might know, though. He’s inside.”

(Charles) “Well, best to ask before beginning!”

(Raymond) “He’ll be glad to see you. If it wasn’t for him, they never would have agreed to let you in.”

Raymond took him to the entry, knocked, and explained that Charles had arrived. Another man in a very nice suit came out. His pace suggested more than mortal abilities.

(Charles) “Hello!”

(Raymond) “Ah, this is Howard Cartier, Charles. He’s been observing the Manse all this time.”

Howard did look a little tired.

(Howard, extending his hand) “Nice to meet you, son. You’re one of the few people who knows this Manse exists, so I thought we should bring you in.”

(Charles, shaking hands) “I’m pleased to meet you! I took a look at the fountain; is there any additional damage?”

(Howard) “The pipes connecting it to the building have also taken some damage. We can keep the Essence from overflowing as long as that kit keeps functioning, but what we need is the architect. All my research says that without him, we’re in a pickle.”

(Charles) “Ah. Well, I should be able to fix things if you’ll allow me to attune myself to the essence flows of the manse. I can try without doing that, but it will be considerably more iffy. “

(Howard) “A good thing I’ve got the stone then! If Dad still had it, you’d be in trouble. Let me go around and get everybody on board.”

He left, leaving Raymond behind to guard him. Raymond shook his head.

(Raymond) “That might take a while. The discussion about simply letting you in got… ugly.”

(Charles) “Well… I could try without the attunement, but it would make it a lot safer and faster to be attuned.”

(Raymond) “Hey, no problem there. As long as Howard’s here, I’m here too. Don’t think any of us want this place exploding, either. It would raise too many questions. So… why are they being so jumpy anyway? I’m an independent, so they’re not telling me a thing. Even Howard’s being quiet.”

(Charles) “Ah. Mostly it’s old nonsense. They think that I’m something very unnatural. Confidentially, it’s not really true. It’s easier than arguing though. You just need to be properly attuned to the geomantic energy flows to make things work right…”

It took a couple of hours for Howard to come back. His jacket was a bit disheveled.

(Howard) “Well, we have a majority. Go ahead, son.”

(Raymond) “You didn’t wrestle people again, did you?”

(Charles) “Ok then!”

He sat down, took a few moments to attune to the manse – and started the regeneration process.

Howard and Raymond watched – although there were no nifty supernatural effects other than the fountain spontaneously repairing itself. Howard – of course – noticed the power of the Hearthstone upgrading itself (although he didn’t say anything) – and Raymond noted the flow of water-related healing energies into the surrounding area – but the process was… quiet and efficient, even if it did require an hour or so…

Hm… What if he linked the energies a little more tightly? He might be able to upgrade the manse’s functions directly that way. Also, could he build a manse that was already wrecked – it would be a lot cheaper and easier than building a working one – and regenerate it to full power? It might be worth looking into one or the other of those, or even both!

(Charles) “There we go!”

There was astonished commentary coming from the guards at the fountain outside.

(Charles) “See, the place has an established pattern, and that’s where the essence wants to go – so you just feed it back into that pattern, and focus it there, and it drags the matter after it!”

(Howard) “Most thaumaturges can’t do it that quick, though. Seriously, son, what are you? It’s clearly not a normal thaumaturge.”

(Charles) “Well, Grandpa sent me to study under the various crafter gods and war-gods and such. They have a lot of special tricks to teach!”

(Howard) “Where’d you get that kind of education? Is your grandfather he a god? I’ve heard of them coming down, but that’s supposed to be rare.”

Raymond was listening attentively to the conversation.

(Charles) “Well… In the Celestial City of Yu-Shan. I’m not quite sure what Grandpa is, but he seems to come and go as he wants and gets a lot of respect there! Anyway, there seems to be a lot of old prejudice against any of the Celestial powers coming down and doing things. It goes back a long ways.”

That got a slight start from Raymond – and interest from Howard.

(Howard) “Really? There’s no one keeping them up there?”

(Charles, unable to think of anything – although there was that story amongst the Dragon-Blooded that the “Insidious” were holding heaven hostage) “Not really. There are some hostile people on Earth – but for the most part, it’s just inertia and that there aren’t too many people calling properly these days.”

(Raymond) “What about people with a mark like this on their foreheads?”

He drew out the Sign of Mercury on some paper with his finger, somehow creating ink from nowhere.

(Charles) “Oh, those would be the Sidereals… They made a BIG mess about 20,000 years ago and they’ve got a lot less influence and authority since then. Mostly they’re pretty busy though; they’re supposed to regulate fate and casuality, and there are only a hundred sidereals, and the universe is a LOT bigger than it used to be!”

(Raymond was silent, and stared down at the floor.

(Howard) “Hmm… thanks, son. Now, what do you want in return for this?”

Huh… He hadn’t really thought about that. They would be expecting him to want something… Still, they’d looked through the place on their last visit, and there really wasn’t anything all that interesting to look at even in their archives.

(Charles) “Nothing in particular! It needed fixing, and risking an explosion in the middle of Atlanta would be bad!… Is there anything else you need?”

(Howard, looking confused) “Uh… surely you want something.”

(Charles, with some surprise) “Why? I’ve already got most of the things I need, and I’m making or learning the rest.”

Howard just blinked. Raymond was still staring at the floor. He didn’t look angry, just very, very contemplative.

(Howard) “Well, then… could you deliver this message to my kids?”

Urm… Oh yeah! That would be Rachel and Mitchell! They hadn’t gotten involved in that Cauldron-Born mess; they’d left school after the raid and had somehow finagled an invitation up to Yu Shan. Apparently Mitchell also had some kind of emissary ability.

(Charles) “I might be able to arrange a visit if you like, but I’d have to do some checking first!”

(Howard) “I just want them home. Things have cooled off, and from what I hear, we’ve got no rights up there. I didn’t even believe he was going up THERE when he told me and his mother.”

(Charles) “Well, I can let them know! I can’t promise things about what other people will choose to do though.”

(Howard) “Great! Now, if you’ll sign a contract saying as much for me, I’ll give you the message.”

Charles was mildly startled at that. You needed contracts for taking a message? Besides, hadn’t he just given him the message – “Things have cooled off, you can come home, and I’d at least like to get into touch.”? Was there more? A physical letter wouldn’t be any more complicated… It was pretty unlikely that he was up to anything nasty at the moment, he HAD just done them a favor after all. That would be a bit paranoid, even for a father worried about his kids!

(Raymond, popping out of his thoughtful state) “Really, Howard? He seems honest to me.”

(Howard, thinking for a moment) “Sorry, son. Things have just been hectic lately.”

(Charles) “That’s OK!”

Besides… the Dragon-Blooded would probably soon be wanting to know how they could get some spirits to help them out. The Immaculate Order had spent a lot of effort getting on the wrong side of a lot of immortal spirits – but it had been a VERY long time and the Sidereals had been revealed as having been partially behind that.

Raymond escorted him out – past the cordon at the fountain, the people watching it, and the people peering at the fountain with some disbelief. There was a long stick lying on the ground nearby with a scorched end; evidently someone had been doubtful enough to literally poke at the essence vent with the proverbial ten-foot pole.

(Raymond) “Sorry about Howard, kid. I’m sure he meant nothing bad about it, but he’s been really wary since the kids had to go.”

(Charles, a bit sadly) “Well… family troubles are always really upsetting. “

At least they seemed to maintain pretty good security, so the reports probably wouldn’t get around. Even if they hadn’t, of course, he really couldn’t have allowed a rank-5 demesne and rank-4 manse to go up in an essence explosion in the middle of Atlanta. Their own geomancers would probably be wanting to talk though. EVERYBODY wanted to talk after he helped them!

Now it was late afternoon! He’d have to hurry! Back to Yu-Shan, to stop by the Factory-Cathderal for a quick check up and to make some Harnesses, then to deliver the message, and then to talk to someone at the healing manse, and then to check on Gri-Fel and Terapshim, if anything had turned up about Thornwood, and on rules on treasure hordes

Things were doing just fine at the currently off-shift factory-cathedral… It was Sunday, and no one is working unless you counted all the maintenance functions. He stopped by for a few minutes to “check” (and to burn through lots of essence on his own little projects – but that actually doesn’t take long). There hadn’t been any sabotage as of yet, but he was working on Harmonic Essence Adapters at the moment. Perhaps when there was a worthier target.

Hm! He’d have to make some for Adamant! There was going to be a demand. Adamant items weren’t all that common, even counting the few trophies taken from Alchemicals, and so the new Exalts would be wanting to use artifacts made of other materials for the time being.

Off to see Rachel and Mitchell then… The rest could wait a bit!

Lets see now.. Rachel was a Dawn Caste, and had an order in – perfected boots – and he’d just made some! They were common enough to need no explanation too! Mitchell… was friends with Kiko, yes, but hadn’t said very much while meeting with Gri Fel in Yesteryears. He’d seemed to be pretty scholastically inclined. Still, at least he had their contact information! They were staying in one of the places where the gold faction housed their agents. Fairly nice lodgings on the edge of a middle class district!

He headed on over – first checking to see if they were in with a little linking spell.

They did seem to be there. He knocked – and Mitchell opened the door.

(Mitchell) “Oh. Good afternoon, Charles. What brings you over here?”

(Charles) “A message actually! From Earth! I said I’d bring it, but that I couldn’t promise any particular response…”

(Mitchell) “Come in. Here, I’ll get you a drink. What would you like?”

He had a fruit punch.

(Rachel, from another room) “Mitchell, who is that? It could be a Bronze Faction spy!”

(Mitchell) “It’s just Charles.”

(Charles) “I don’t think I could be!”

(Rachel) “Oh, Charles! Well, that’s okay then!”

He heard punching coming from the other room.

(Charles) “Uhm… I brought a message from Mr Cartier, for both of you!”

(Mitchell) “Rachel, we’ve got a message from Dad!”

Rachel came out, looking really tense – although they both looked excited.

Charles gave the envelope to Mitchell; he was handiest.

(Mitchell, reading it) “Well, that’s good to know. And I can give him the information I’ve found out. Mr. Cisneros should be interested too.”

(Rachel) “Does this mean I can hit supernatural things again?”

(Mitchell) “Please, Rachel, only if they try to hurt us.”

Mitchell looked at Charles apologetically.

(Charles) “I’d rather not be hit please!”

(Mitchell) “And then only if you promise not to make your Essence flare, like Blossom of Lost Dreams wanted.”

(Rachel) “Oh, I’m not going to hit Charles. He fixed our Manse. Besides, I want a challenge.”

(Charles, rummaging around in his pack for some boots) “Oh! I found these for you, so you won’t have to wait!”

His personally-tweaked version that matched whatever outfit you happened to be wearing!

(Rachel) “Neat! I’m putting them on right now!”

She puts them on, they turned into a pair of Chinese-style slippers to match her training robes, and she started running around… She definitely seemed to be more of an agile Dawn Caste. There was still a bit of an edge to her demeanor though, although she seemed to be in control enough not to run into things.

(Rachel) “Tanaka’s really going to get it now! I’m going to blow her out of the water!”

(Mitchell) “In Creation, right, Rachel? Not here, where you two will make a lot of noise?”

(Rachel, stopping running) “God, Mitchell, you’re such a buzzkill.”

(Mitchell) “She didn’t listen when Blossom was explaining audits.”

(Rachel) “DID SO! Anyway, thanks for the boots! I’ll take good care of them. And maybe you’ll come to the race when I challenge Tanaka?”

(Charles) “Maybe! Things are awfully busy recently!”

Maybe he needed something for Mitchell? He seemed to be a water-aspected Dragon Blood of course (and bearing a distinct resemblance to his father). Well, he might come up with something for him!

Charles let them know that – if they wanted to visit or something – he commuted all the time looking for ingredients and things. And he hoped that Rachel would have a good time with the boots!

Rachel was thrilled! She liked hanging out in the Celestial City, even if she dod have to have a stupid tutor every day. She would definitely be taking advantage of it!

Mitchell looked a bit worried when she said that, but he too said that he appreciated the offer.

(Charles) “Well… It should be safe enough. If you want to visit a neutral zone or a few precautions can be arranged!

(Mitchell) “I would like that very much.”

Rachel just looks exasperated when he said that.

(Charles) “Be fair! There are a lot of people down there who were trying to kill a lot of us on suspicion!”

(Rachel) “I can handle them!”

(Charles) “And can you keep the people around you from dying in the crossfire?”

(Rachel) “Uhhhhh…”

(Mitchell) “You never were good at thinking things through. This is exactly why we need to be SUBTLE. You know, like Mom and Dad taught us.”

Rachel grumbled, but did not object.

Charles wished them both a nice day, and headed off.

Oh! His queries had turnd up some of the rules on treasure hordes!

As it turned out, the rules on treasure hordes were fairly simple. Mundane treasure hordes found in Creation proper were governed under Creation’s laws, Madame Marthesine, goddess of lost things, might get irritated at the hit to her domain, but there were enough lost things out there that it wasn’t much of an impact. Hordes with artifacts found by somebody living in the Celestial City in Creation needed to be run through Yu Shan customs before entering the city proper, which took a couple of weeks to a month depending on whether your customs officer was honest, corrupt, or eccentric. Hordes with major artifacts doubled that time. Additionally, hordes with starmetal artifacts quadrupled that time, as the Forbidding Manse of Ivy wanted to look at them. The “Divine Share” on treasure-hordes was negotiable, and often amounted to little more than a limited-invitation auction. That was often better than trying to sell stuff yourself, simply because the Celestial Lions would keep order and the contracts were registered and enforceable. They didn’t want to discourage people from bringing stuff in!

Now, the Sidereals offered substantial rewards for hordes with starmetal artifacts in them – but that was only for citizens of Yu Shan. Citizens of Creation who had starmetal artifacts tended to find that they disappeared with alarming frequency.

Well, he could probably get by with the “treasure horde” excuse ONCE… He’d have to think about it.

He really couldn’t think of anything he could do for Gri Fel and Terapshim right now – their applications were probably still in the inbox – and he still wanted to check on Thornwood, but a trip to the Amazon would be too long and too hard to explain right now.

At Saturn’s Mercy Hospital, there was what looked like a normal human receptionist at the door.

(Receptionist) “Hello there. How may I help you, young man? Do you need medical aid?”

(Charles) “Well… I found you listed under “Healing Manses” in the directories – and I was wondering if you would mind If I set up a few links so that some God-Blooded kids could effectively be residents of the area without actually being here. It would make them a lot safer!”

The receptionist looked a bit more serious, apparently taking him for a faction operative or God-Blooded.

(Receptionist) “May I ask what this is for? I assume some kind of experiment.”

(Charles) “It was for school. People do keep getting banged up in the combat classes!”

(Receptionist) “Oh! Well, if that is the case, I can certainly arrange an appointment with the director for you! I’m afraid I don’t have much authority myself, but she should definitely hear you out.”

(Charles) “Thank you!”

The receptionist made a few calls, and said that the director would be ready to see him in about thirty minutes.

The place was predominantly staffed by mortals – and no Exalt or god in Yu Shan was nutty enough to attack it under normal circumstances, so the wait wasn’t that long. After all, the place was indestructible and affected everyone in a five mile radius – but the benefits were only useful to mortals and god-bloods.

The director was ready to see him soon enough. Other than the beneficent glow in her eyes, she could be just another mortal.

(Director Kanari) “Hello there. I understand you wish to link the hospital to some of your friends to help out in combat class?”

(Charles) “That’s pretty much it Ma’am! They fairly often get hurt – and may well get hurt worse later on – and setting up a link so they’re affected by the aura of the hospital despite being normally out of range would help them out a lot – and, as far as I can tell, wouldn’t have any negative effects here.”

(Kanari) “That’s an ambitious project for a boy of your age. Can you fix the Manse if something goes wrong, or have someone do it for you?”

(Charles) “I should be able to fix it – but I don’t have to do anything to it directly anyway; I just have to tap into the aura it radiates.”

(Kanari, looking a bit impressed. The boy seemed to have… an honest and well-founded belief that he COULD fix a level-five manse!) “Well, that’s a lot of geomantic control for a boy your age as well! And this is an indestructible Manse, so likely no harm done. I think I will allow it.”

(Charles) “Thank you very much!”

Charles spent what was left of the evening on video games, talking with friends, and other non-disastrous events of normal life. He needed to relax a bit sometimes! Grandpa said not to work all the time!

4 Responses

  1. […] XI – A Day at the Museum: Protecting Links, the Reconstruction Machine, Repairing the Water Manse, Family Peacemaking. […]

  2. […] XI – A Day at the Museum: Protecting Links, the Reconstruction Machine, Repairing the Water Manse, Family Peacemaking. […]

  3. […] Perfectly Protected Links (scroll down): For tying into manses and other power sources remotely. […]

  4. […] Perfectly Protected Links (scroll down): For tying into manses and other power sources remotely. […]

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