The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice Part XXVIII – Speculations on the Coming Darkness

Sirmione castello scaligero di notte

No, that's not really what I had in mind! It IS nice though...

Aden was, as yet, a relatively small world – but it was beautiful, and welcoming, and supportive.

It was also humming with power and activity, with thirty-odd major manses generating their guardians (of various types), and those guardians staffing the existing manses, bringing lesser manses online, and setting up additional features of the world.

Lord Richof was… impressed, and a bit worried. Repair was one thing, but the wholesale construction of manses? In months? Historically most Solars had been… well, focused on their own glory, not on… meddling with the fundamental structure of their Souls and Essence and Creation. Of course, historically they had never been children either…

What had Lytek DONE? Was it possible for even a Twilight Caste Solar to… build HIMSELF into a Primordial? And would there be a difference in the end between a faux Primordial and a “real” one? Admittedly, the universe could probably use the “Primordial of Helpfulness and Fixing Things” – but Charles was only a child (even if an incredibly precocious one). Was he even thinking about the future implications of what he was doing, or was he just caught up in childish enthusiasm and his desire to be helpful?

Still… even unfinished, the place was quite an accomplishment! Well worth a little sightseeing!

(Charles) “I haven’t really had time to finish up yet! But a few areas are done!”

(Richof) “It’s a good try, if I do say so. Now where shall we attempt the geomancy?”

(Charles) “Well, the demesne I set up is a few miles over that way and fairly deep down – so we can take the subway!”

(Richof) “Subway? I do hope it’s nothing like the Malfean subways!” (He winked, clearly kidding.)

(Charles) “I don’t think so! I’ve never used any of those gates!”

Oh dear! His grandson had access to Malfean Gates?

Oh. The way he was building manses… He probably had gates to all kinds of places. Knowing him, probably at least one to every aspect of creation and a few that had been intentionally created to lead to places that no one had ever heard of.

(Richof) “And I hope you never have to at all, my boy. Please, show me to this subway.”

It was clear enough that the boy was practically bursting with the need to show off a bit. A lot like… a normal mortal child and his new lego castle. “Look-at-what-I’ve-built! Isn’t-it-great!?”

The Wyld areas were a bit of a concern though. Was it really wise to keep those at the center of your mind? Had he been more influenced by that weird adventure of his at the pyramid than he’d thought? Or was it just… a child’s imagination writ large?

He’d have to do some reasearch on this later on. In the meantime, he’d indulge the boys blatant desire to play tour-guide for a bit!

Charles did, indeed, indulge in a bit of that – pointing out his neater wonders, ventures, and designs along the way.

The cavern that had been designed to focus Nocturnal Essence was buried deep beneath a small range of mountains, an echoing place of obsidian in subtle rainbows, of crystal, and of faint stars that burned to essence-sight alone. The demesne… seemed to twist away, evading easy detection yet beckoning one to take any of ten thousand paths through it’s winding ways. The essence-patterns that had formed on it’s floor were potential runes, yet incomplete – a walking-maze of thaumatugy that was completed and empowered… only when someone picked out a path through it.

Charles considered the potentialities and the ways in which a manse might be made to fit – yet each possible design excluded so many others and became less RIGHT as more details were added…

Ah. It needed to change, to embody a thousand possibilities and none at the same time. Always in potential, never ultimately realized.

This was going to be tricky!

Charles went all-out on the project – combining all his powers, charms, enhancements, and boosting devices to get the design right, to see what powers fit in with Nocturnal Essence, and to make it – to some extent – self-explaining.

Lord Richof watched with fascination… His grandsons power and skill were indeed worth of the legends of the Solar Exalts – but the effects of the demesne were equally fascinating! Instead of the usual glow of manipulated essence, the cavern now shone with… a thousand colors of darkness, far deeper than black. A thousand gulfs seemed to open, beckoning, each a mutually-exclusive path into the unknown.

Was nocturnal essence even a normal part of the universe?

Charles mused… the favored powers were… somewhat similar to Sidereal Manses: Outside of Fate and Wyld Revocation. Yet this Essence also seemed amicable to Dynamic Architecture and Alternative Locations. He could see images of ziggurats, towers, high ceilings and balconies, and decor that reminded him of the nicest of… casinos… when he thought of the Manse that he was caling into being.

It was not easy Essence to work with. In fact… something seemed to be actively resisting his manipulations.

Still, there was an unknown power waiting to be unleashed here in a Manse, a mystery to be explored!

Charles focused his power, and drove onwards. Gramps needed some information! If it went wrong, well… he could probably take it apart and start again, if he had to unshape it.

It was an intricate balancing act, as the Essence of the demesne was ever-shifting – and into some very strange places indeed.

His coatl aides threw in some boosting spells from his stored supply.

It was enough to drive on through, despite the massive build up of resistance.

It felt… as if something was watching him. Not hostile – but it definitely did not want this to happen! He could feel something intangible in him twisting, and his concentration fogged, even beyond the lack of sleep.

Eventually, however, he prevailed. The manse rose – and expressed some of the power and natura of Nocturnal Essence in it’s structure.

(Charles) “Hrm… Something REALLY didn’t want that to happen! That was hard!”

Whatever-it-was seemed to be expressing those objections now… The trouble was that he couldn’t understand a bit of what the voice in his head was saying.

It did sound rather sad and worried though!

Well, they could always power the place down again. They only wanted to get a good look at the stuff while it was in a manse and so couldn’t slip away so easily!

He described all of that to Gramps!

(Richof, looking quite interested.) “I had heard reports of the Nocturnals hearing voices, but it was always a young girl.”

They went to have a look! Charles had been letting the Nocturnal Essence express itself a bit, so far all Charles knew it was indeed “full of stars”!

Instead it seemed to be… a luxury hotel-casino (?) – but not like one you’d see on Earth. It reminded Charles of one of Plentimon’s casinos in Yu Shan, with its characteristic architecture.

It looked like… one of it’s basic powers was that charms and other abilities that granted automatic successes, or caused automatic failures, would not function within the manse unless there was an element of chance to their activation.

Interesting! An essence of… uncertainty? Oh!

(Charles) “Ah. No wonder it’s so delicate. The unshaped stuff of fate, futures and probabilities. If you bind it too closely, it will become sidereal aspected – but on it’s own it doesn’t truly exist. I’d say that it doesn’t WANT to be channeled down into fixed reality. It’s… the space between the threads of the loom, strongest where nothing acts, is acting, or is likely to act – such as in the empty parts of the universe.”

The voice in Charles’s head burbled contentedly.

(Richof) “Understandable, then. Perhaps that’s why they seem like two sides of the same coin.”

(Charles, speculatively) “The voice… The voice of Nox, weaving – or perhaps unweaving – the shadow loom from the future into the past? That would explain the uncertain existence and the artifacts from the future.”

(Richof) “Few know of that name, my boy. I… am surprised you do.”

(Charles, still abstractedly) “Those two sides of existence should really never meet though; The Unweaving should – in the beginning – unmake the Shinma and the Primoridials, which everyone else sees as their creation. In the interplay… the time of cascading years. was a minor thing… It should cycle through all possible variants in the end! The Nocturnals may be… being pulled away from existence in the loom. That would explain the forgetting… but if that’s what’s going on, they can only be here if there’s some truly major disruption in the loom coming up!… Unless I’m completely off the track somewhere of course, which is certainly possible! There’s an AWFUL lot of pure guesswork in there!”

Hm… If Exaltations were fixed points in reality, then Anti-Exaltations would exist in flux. They would be very adaptable! That might be why the Nocturnal Exaltations seemed to accommodate pre-existing powers and preferred already-empowered individuals!

OK, there was very little data to support all that, but he’d bet that there was at least a grain of truth in all that speculation! And it suggested new paths of experimentation!

(Richof) “Indeed my boy! That’s part of the fun of science and sorcery!”

Charles considered – and gently probed. Manses were at least quasi-living… Did it “want” to be shut down? Or to be allowed to change into Sidereal Essence?

At that thought, the voice in his head sighed, stopped for a moment, and made a vaguely approving noise.

Well… Charles made sure he had a good scan of the place, and a glimpse of how it worked, and knew what the hearthstone would have been when it manifested – and let it change into a Sidereal Manse.

Who knew? If Sidereal Essence flowed into the future, and Nocturnal Essence flowed back… perhaps leaving hte manse operating would have created a closed loop – and as time progressed towards the inevitable breakdown moment, the essence would have been concentrated until the power-charge caused it’s OWN failure in a real catastrophe!

10 Responses

  1. I think the problem Charles is having with the manse may be because his world body is just too overwhelmingly solar in it’s nature/essence for the manse to be stable (or at least as stable as anything nocturnal can get, anyways). Maybe it would require a nocturnal exalt’s touch or charms to get it to stick? Maybe that one who exalted in the factory cathedral could do it? On one hand it brings up the question of how well can Charles trust her to keep a secret. One the other, you could get the cooperation of just about ALL the nocturnals if they knew you had a demense.

    • That’s certainly possible – although these Nocturnals are probably a good deal different from the ones they’re inspired by… Something was definitely fighting back though; the total DC was up around 40-45. If Charles didn’t have an absurd collection of occult bonuses (multiple occult-focused artifacts, hearthstones, manses, enhancing sorcery, equipment, alchemy, and helpful spirits) and an equally large collection of ways to lower occult target numbers, he wouldn’t have gotten anywhere.

      Nocturnal assistance might well help a lot – but Charles is still too busy hiding to make it all that practical. Of course, that might change in moments…

      Demesnes aren’t usually all that hard (or even all that useful) normally – but Nocturnal Demesnes are going to be pretty rare. They seem to fight back pretty hard.

      • By DC you mean the target number of succcesses? Good lord, with a dice pool like that Charles should have no problem being a primordial.

      • Well, not as long as it involves rolling Occult (or, to a much lesser extent, Lore) and he has plenty of time to get everything set up. Thus the careful avoidance of social, bureaucratic, or physical trouble… Sadly, that will only get you so far. Still, if he can make it work for long enough, he can expand on the monomaniacal focus.

  2. Inspiration has struck me again, and I have yet another idea for Aden. Another title for him would be “Shining Dreamer”. The shining part, along with themes of light should provide a reason why he seems so solar-like, to divert attention if he is suspected of being a solar. The themes of light should also keep people from thinking you a creature of darkness, so long as you stay away from the color green (because of it’s connection to Lieger). The dreamer part would cover the wyld aspects that are likely to pop up because of the fact that so many of his sub-souls seem like raksha.

    • Oh, I like that one! That should definitely add to the confusion… Thank you for the suggestion there; I’m much better at mechanics than names and titles…

  3. […] XXVIII – Speculations on the Coming Darkness: The Nocturnal Manse, Speculations on Nox. […]

  4. […] XXVIII – Speculations on the Coming Darkness: The Nocturnal Manse, Speculations on Nox. […]

  5. […] XXVIII – Speculations on the Coming Darkness: The Nocturnal Manse, Speculations on Nox. […]

  6. […] XXVIII – Speculations on the Coming Darkness: The Nocturnal Manse, Speculations on Nox. […]

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