The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice Part XX – Incidents of Artifice

Oh dear, no photoshop. I'll just have to suffi...

Interesting demense you have here!

Mr. Montague DID have a Celestial Manse (****). It was positioned on the border of a slum and a middle class neighborhood on the other side of the Celestial City – and was one that Charles recognized from the studies he’d done of Yu Shan’s Manses. It was the Workshop of Yien Du, a notable artificing Manse. It was no factory-cathedral, but it was still impressive by most crafters standards, and definitely more habitable.

It was a neat place to get a look at! Dudael – even without boosts – was a lot more powerful of course, but it was still pretty good and it was currently operating, too! The place was set up for metalworking, and that seemed to be what was going on right now. Fortunately for the neighbors, the manses’s noise and pollution cloaking wards were quite impressive. Only the Essence signature gives it away.

Charles simply knocked.

There was a sentinel at the door . . . a rather familiar sentinel, actually. It was Vaal Resfan, the Comet Caste Nocturnal Charles had fed fudge when he was helping Ms. Cress investigate them.

(Vaal) “Hey, it’s you! Uh… I never got your name.”

(Charles) “Lost the card didn’t you? Well, It’s Charles Dexter Ward, and here’s another!”

(Vaal) “Thanks! Sorry about that, that day was HECTIC.”

(Charles) “Not a worry! How’s it been going?”

(Vaal) “Real good! This Chosen of Serenity hired me on for some reason. You here to see him?”

(Charles) “Yep! And it’s a starting position there, but you are a Primordial Exalt now! Even if we don’t really know what that means yet!”

(Vaal) “Well, Monty’s pretty busy right now. He’s been working on this project. Even took a sabbatical and everything. I think he’s finishing up though. You want me to tell him you’re here?”

(Charles) “Sure!”

Vaal called in some other guardians to watch the door while he told his boss. He came back a few minutes later.

(Vaal) “His wife will see you. She says he’s almost done and will meet you soon.”

Vaal let him in… The manse’s living space was VERY nicely appointed; Vaal proudly pointed to his living quarters upstairs. Not bad for a kid from the slums!

And there was a nicely-dressed mortal woman there to see him.

(Charles) “Hello Mrs Montague!”

(Mrs. Montague) “Hello, Charles!” (She looked twice. Apparently she was a bit surprised to find that a child was a factory cathedral manager.) “I apologize for Salvatore not being here right away, but he has been eager to work on this project for months.”

(Charles) “Oh, is it a bad time?”

(Mrs. Montague) “Oh no. He told me he would be done-“

There was a triumphant shout from the back.

(Mrs. Montague) “Never mind, I believe he is done!”

(Charles) “He does sound excited! Was it something secret?”

(Mrs. Montague) “He was keeping it a secret from Vaal and me.” (There is shouting in Italian for Micaela. Mrs. Montague smiles.) “And I do believe he wants to show me now.”

She shouted back in Italian. Fortunately, language-spells were very easy.

(Mrs. Montague) “Sal! That boy from the factory cathedral is here with whatever you ordered!”

(Mr. Montague) “Already? That was fast! I need a minute to clean up. Sifu says I shouldn’t talk to people when I’m fresh from working!”

(Mrs. Montague, in shaky Old Realm) “I do apologize. He’s just so happy when he does get to craft.”

Vaal just smiled.

(Charles) “Not a worry! Crafting is fun!”

Mr. Montague was out in a few minutes. He was definitely more a crafter Chosen of Serenity than a socialite, and rather strong-looking. He was also carrying what appeared to be a starmetal crescent hammer in his right hand. He did a bit of a double-take when he saw that Charles was, indeed, a child.

(Mr. Montague) “Charles Dexter Ward?”

(Charles) “Hello Sir! I’ve located your items!”

(Mr. Montague) “I wasn’t expecting these for another few months or so. You’ve really come through for me. I’ll have to do something in return . . . need any small items? Work keeps me too busy for anything bigger.”

(Charles) “Uhm… Well, I’ll let you know if something comes up!”

(Charles) “Anyway… (Charles rummaged in his pack), Here’s your Swift Rider! (The model he pulled out looked like a collapsible bicycle, comeplete with thumb-gearshift). You might want to try the overdrive gear while in the air and with plenty of room though! It’s kind of tricky until you get used to it!”

The Windslave Disk was quite normal – but Mr. Montague looked over the swift rider and smiled

Mr. Montague) “That’s different from the catalog standard. If you don’t mind me asking, where did you get it from?”

(Charles) “I’ve got a lot of secondary aides to work on individual projects – and tweaking the design with some modern materials and things left room for a couple of minor additions!”

(Mr. Montague) “They do real good work! And fast, too.” (He looked a bit thoughtful) “Are any of them contractors?”

(Charles) “Well, most of them work for me… Is there something else you need?”

(Mr. Montague) “Not right now, but let’s trade cards. I definitely want to see more of what your aides can do if you’re open to it – and thanks for the stuff.”

(Charles, cheerily trading cards) “You’re welcome!”

Well, Mr Montague did seem to recognize the accelerator- and windscreen-effects. That was good! There was less risk of accidents when he first tried things out! Hm… nobody seemed too suspicious; they seemed to just think he’d put THEIR artifacts first. They’d know better if they compared notes – but considering how paranoid everyone in Yu-Shan seemed to be, that didn’t really seem all that likely!

He had poked at both of his artifacts with his hammer though… Rather cheerily. What was up with… Ah! It probably analyzed things!

He took a closer look… It looked like an artifact of the third rank, in a smaller-than-normal form at the moment. At full size, it functioned as a goremaul. It did indeed analyze artifacts and store the plans – but you needed a companion artifact to get at them though. Still, he seemed to be very proud of it.

That was very handy! Still, there was nothing too abnormal about the items he’d wanted!

Mrs. Montague insisted that he stay long enough for a few treats.

Charles was not adverse to treats.

(Mrs. Montague) “How did you get this position? In Naples, they never hired children for such things!”

(Charles) “Uhm… Well, I’ve got some really strong talents for artificing, and I think that nobody was willing to let one of the major contenders – who all have ties to particular factions – have the job, so they gave it to me after I got top-end grades in all my artificing classes in school!”

(Mrs. Montague, somewhat flummoxed) “This city… I will never understand it.”

(Vaal) “Don’t feel too bad! A lot of Sidereal spouses say that. Heck, I feel the same way sometimes.”

(Charles) “Anyway, I have lots of aides now, and that helps a lot too!”

(Mrs. Montague) “I suppose so. Well, you must be a busy boy. Why don’t you take some candy with you?”

Charles was happy enough to do that – although he had gotten enough lessons from Gramps to check the treats carefully (if unobtrusively) before he ate any, even if he was impervious to drugs and poisons.

It WAS highly ambrosial – and Vaal was happily munching on it.

Charles had a would have had a hard time outpacing Vaal’s consumption even if he’d been trying… Apparently Mrs. Montague was concerned about his skinniness. Still, he had several treats!

Mrs Montague let him go after she was sure that he’d had enough to fill him up! She thought that he was too skinny too! And obviously hadn’t been getting enough sleep!

Eventually though they waved him out…

Charles checked his privacy wards, just to see if anyone was tracking him today.

Ah, by several parties no less! Hmm… Hiparkes was possible (if unlikely), Cisneros was busy, but might have set a tracking effect (the Montague Manse was pretty throughly privacy-shielded anyway though – although there were keys, just in case someone was getting investigated), so that left at least a couple of outsiders. Probably at least one or two from the Celestial Lions!

He tried to trace the links back…

One went back to a Celestial lion watch station. The second traced back to an apartment squarely in a middle class district. The third was squarely in the middle of an abandoned territory.

The Celestial lion watch station was the one that those two Celestial Lions that he’d spoken to about the Sands worked out of. It was in northeastern Yu Shan… The apartment was in a district known for its proximity to the Celestial gate leading to the ruins of Babylon. It was in northwestern Yu Shan – possibly Terapishim. The abandoned territory was quite close to where he’d met Astrid in southeastern Yu Shan. Perhaps associated with Gustav?

Oh well! He was simply doing deliveries!

He headed off to visit Mr Malakai Run-and-Gun.

HE was one of the Lunars with a Celestial position – Junior Subminister of Extraterrestrial Herd Ungulates under Ahlat, working in the Bureau of Nature. That meant getting an appointment… Fortunately, Charles had his own staff to do the paperwork and wasn’t a god, so he was able to get one reasonably promptly.

Malakai was a big, strong, hairy fellow, although he was dressed in fine robes.

(Charles) “Mr Malakai?”

(Malakai) “You must be Mr. Ward! I understand my orders are ready?”

(Charles) “Yep! I had good luck finding some things!”

(Malakai) “Huh. Interesting. Let’s have a look!”

(Charles, rummaging in his pack) “I couldn’t find a Soulsteel Windblade – and Soulsteel is nasty anyway – but all it does is make fold-out artifact blades, so I installed some and a harmonic adapter on this Orichalcum Windblade… It will cost a couple of extra motes to attune thanks to the subsidiary artifacts, but hopefully the performance improvement will make up for it!

(Malakai) “Orichalcum, you say? Well that’s fine!… (he looked at the Windblade closely) And you said YOU did this?”

(Charles) “I installed the blades and adapter!”

Funny! Malakai seemed oddly… relieved by the substitution, although he’d hidden it pretty well there. Was he suspecting abyssal nastiness or something?

(Malakai) “You’re pretty good at this for your age. Thanks a lot. I’ll take good care of this.”

(Charles) “You’re welcome! Is there anything else you need me to look for?”

(Malakai) “Oh yeah… think you could make a moonsilver one? I’ll put that through the official channels. Probably shouldn’t even need the cathedral for it. I’ll pay you for it again!”

(Charles) “Uhm… I might be able to find one! Or maybe make some with the aides!”

(Malakai) “Well, I’d appreciate it.”

Charles checked for another trace being added after he departed – or possibly a watcher-creature – but there didn’t seem to be anything as of yet.


4 Responses

  1. […] XX – Incidents of Artifice: Visiting Vaal, Mr Montague, and Malakai […]

  2. […] XX – Incidents of Artifice: Visiting Vaal, Mr Montague, and Malakai […]

  3. […] XX – Incidents of Artifice: Visiting Vaal, Mr Montague, and Malakai […]

  4. […] XX – Incidents of Artifice: Visiting Vaal, Mr Montague, and Malakai […]

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