The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice Part XXX – And No, That Doesn’t Mean What You’re Thinking Out There!

PhotonQ-Charles Darwin 's Office

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Hm… He was being watched by at least one observer and possibly more after he left to Occluded Observatory – and the effect traced back to it… Well, that was no surprise at all really. After all, he had just let Gustav set a tracer-spell on Deva Cutter to augment his own tracer, retrieval, and concealment spells! The way it was now it would be terribly dangerous to have the thing laying about somewhere where someone might pick it up!

Jorst, meanwhile, was puzzled… He always kept an eye on anyone new who was admitted to the Occluded Observatory for some time if he could – you never knew when Sidereal politics might lead to someone troublesome being allowed in – and this kid… was cruising through some of the worst zones of Yu-Shan (which was where Reclaimed Territories were invariably located) with… almost no care at all!

Could the boy possibly be THAT powerful? Or THAT oblivious? Or was there some reason for him to know that he didn’t actually have that much to worry about? After all, there was no sign of anyone attacking him… Or even HINDERING him… He was just… sailing along… like he was one of the Incarnae out for a tour!

Well, the Maidens were said to occasionally visit their Chosen in disguise…

No, no, NO! THAT was absurd! It was just that the boy was so… PERFECTLY obliging, and friendly, and oblivious! Surely no one could actually live in Yu-Shan and be so innocent!

Gustav was thinking much the same thing – at least shorn of the speculation about the Incarnae. It took a slightly-paranoid security specialist to come up with THAT one.

Meanwhile, Charles had reached the Cerulean Lute of Harmony, and was attempting to get Blossom of Lost Dreams’ divine assistant, Blissful Lilly, to let him in…

She didn’t exactly say “Who the hell are you and how do you know all this stuff!” – it was far more politely put than THAT – but that was more or less the gist of it.

(Charles) “Uhm… I’m Charles Dexter Ward, I run a factory-cathedral, I have access to most of the libraries – and I got called in to study the artifact.”

(Blissful Lilly) “I will notify Mistress Blossom then. Why don’t you sit in the children’s waiting room?”

(Charles) “OK!”

It being the Cerulean Lute of Harmony, the children’s waiting room was full of all sorts of exquisite toys, art tools, and other amusements… The adult waiting room had curtains for some reason – but “why” went completely over Charles’ head.

Charles occupied himself with making (exquisite!) plans for pet enhancement artifacts since that sort of thing seemed to be the theme!

A couple of hours later, Blissful Lilly called him into Blossom of Lost Dreams’ offices. She was as beautiful and delicate as she was the last time Charles had met her – which was to say that there were many goddesses who were jealous of her.

He ran through the briefing again and demonstration.

Blossom of Lost Dreams did listen – although she paid almost as much attention to Charles himself as to the information he was bringing… A creature of the Yozi’s attempting to make trouble in Creation was annoying, and potentially serious – but it was also more-or-less to be expected. The boy however… she hadn’t paid too much attention to him the first time she’d seen him; a youthful god-blooded aide hadn’t stood out in a crowd of Exalts. It had seemed that he’d survived the Cauldron incident simply by knowing when to start running – long before the Exalts had – and by being too unimportant to pursue.

She might have to re-evaluate that. He was obviously an expert artificer, and Rosa Cress had noted his impressive competence as an aide, and that he was obviously a master thaumaturgist – but he’d reportedly been involved in several other important incidents (handling that involvement smoothly and helpfully), and was now displaying analytical skills which would have done credit to a fairly major god.

Besides… he didn’t really seem much older than when she’d first seen him a year or more ago – and he didn’t seem to be reacting to HER as more than a friendly figure – although, as a god-blood, he might be a late bloomer or otherwise odd.

Blossom of Lost Dreams sent for some artifacts to help analyze the enchantment, protecting herself with a delicate artifact brooch. Once she was done looking, she came to much the same conclusion on it as Gustav.

(Blossom) “That’s a rather dangerous effect! How brave of you to analyze it, although I wish you had bought it to us first.”

(Charles) “Well, I didn’t know what it was until after I analyzed it, and that was a bit late! At least the Hierarchical Forge doesn’t put up with things trying to usurp command like that!’

(Blossom) “I had heard the Forge did that. You’re fortunate to have such exquisite protections. Now… could you tell me what you did to analyze it? We could make a specialized detection artifact and avoid another incident.”

Fortunate indeed! After all, if the user got killed in a compulsive attack, the winner would probably pick up the weapon – and thus it would wind up with more and more powerful wielders.

Charles showed her the thaumaturgy involved. It was well within the range of a class-II speciality artifact – although Charles did point out that this might not be the only mode of attack in use.

Blossom sighed… even for a god-blood that level of thaumaturgical skill would require rather a lot of enhancements – and there hadn’t been any obvious charms in use. Ergo, artifacts – which wasn’t surprising given the child’s specialities, but certainly explained why he’d be a valued ally even for Exalts. Resourcefulness, intelligence, skill, a god-blooded essence pool to attune them with, and a pile of well-chosen artifacts could go a long ways – even without the raw power of an Exaltation to back them.

Could there possibly be anything to that story of “Lesser Exaltations” she’d heard making the rounds? And hadn’t the boy figured into that story too?

(Blossom) “We’ll have to put a good many Half-Castes and craft deities on this, and perhaps some Chosen on shifts. Still, this information should be helpful. Perhaps we can research other forms of attack using it.”

She looked rather sad for a moment.

(Charles) “Well, I can put something on the production list! The que isn’t all that full right now!”

(Blossom) “Oh, it’s not that, dear, though it would be helpful. I was just thinking about how Rachel must feel. She didn’t seem like the type to attack people like that… and this definitely hasn’t made the Bronzers fonder of me and my supporters.”

(Charles) “Well, hopefully it will all get straightened out! And Rachel can surely take care of herself!”

(Blossom) “You… haven’t seen her, have you? Her trainer is feeling horribly guilty about all this. We’ve searched everywhere in Yu Shan. Sigh… I hope she didn’t run to the abandoned territories. Even I fear some of those areas.”

Blossom was more than a thousand years old… The fact that she was afraid of some of the abandoned territories would have really said something if Charles had been paying attention there. Of course, his own face was telling her a few things… It was pretty obvious that the boy knew things that he didn’t want to tell her. Presumably Dudael would protect him from any attempt to compel him – and it would be a poor way to reward someone who brought in important information anyway. She had long ago learned that offering people some respect got a great deal more willing assistance from them and others over the years to come than meddling with their minds did. In most cases… simply asking nicely would get you a long ways.

A straightforward appeal, with simple questions and a complete lack of magical influence was a direct hit on one of Charles’s weak points!

(Charles, hesitantly) “Uhm… She was with her family on earth for awhile – that’s how they got the blade to look at – but is in hiding now I’m pretty sure! Since her only fault was being handed a blade with a compulsion on it, I’m glad that she should be fine!”

Well, she could have gone adventuring with the Dragon Kings! Rachel could be a bit impulsive!

(Blossom) “I’m not sure the Bronzers will see it that way, dear. Meyers is a moderate, but Jorgensen himself… oh dear. He might have sent the Crimson Banner Executioner after her already. Rachel is skilled in Tiger Style, but I’ve heard she knows some of the secret styles. And she is a skilled infiltrator… Are you sure you don’t know more than what you’ve told me?”

She looked Charles straight in the eyes, making him squirm most uncomfortably. Hers were gentle but somewhat pleading.

(Charles) “Uhm… She might have a little trouble infilitrating… How is the “Crimson Banner” person on imitating Dragon Kings?”

(Blossom) “Dragon Kings? That would be a good hiding place!”

Now that was a surprise. Those enclaves were pretty rare, and extraterrestrial to boot! How in creation could Rachel have reached one of those? Only the Sidereals had travel charms with that kind of range! Otherwise there were only… well, OK, there were Wyld-Gates, Manse-Gates, and the Calibration Gate – as well as some possible artifacts. But Wyld Gates required the use of a Wyld Pocket or a greater gate into the true Wyld anyway, Manse Gates required building a new Manse – and building manses powerful enough to support gates took ages. The Calibration Gate was mostly only used by Sidereals, so that left Wyld Gates and Artifacts…

Or… perhaps an artifact capable of CREATING a Wyld Gate for a time? They were relatively easy to make with Raksha shaping charms (at least so said a quick library check via the Efficient Secretary Technique), so an artifact capable of doing the same thing might be relatively simple.

Perhaps even within reach of a master thaumaturgist – and the child did have a few traces of Wyld energies about him; he might well be using a wyld pocket, or bargaining with a few of the fey living in one, to obtain components. Master thaumaturgists often did.

Still… creating such an artifact would require the assistance of someone with direct access to reality-shaping charms – such as those of the Raksha, the Primordials or Yozi, or Solars – and might require direct access to the Wyld. That was why such artifacts were objects of legend, rather than a common method of transportation.

(Blossom) “Do you know which enclave? I would like to reassure Rachel that we aren’t angry at her.”

Oh Bother!

(Charles) “I could probably get a message sent! Would that do?”

(Blossom) “Oh, would you? Chisaru and I would be willing to reward you well.”

(Charles) “Oh that’s all right! I’ll try to get it through to her!”

Charles, of course, didn’t consider the fact that the message would probably be another item with a tracer – probably intergalactic and good across the cosmos since Blossom already knew that it would be at least interstellar – and that it would cause all kinds of confusion when it started reading “out of range”.

(Blossom) “Thank you!” (Blossom hugged Charles.) “I’ll tell Chisaru. Would you like her contact information? As I said before, she’s feeling terrible about all this.”

Hm. To squirm or not to squirm? Charles valiantly tried to resist the urge!

Blossom did notice. Odd… That wasn’t the usual adolescent or near-adolescent reaction. That was… younger. Well, a bit of psychological delay wasn’t too unusual for a god-blooded – and was usually a lot less trouble than precocious sexuality.

(Charles) “OK!… And I think I’d better go tell the Celestial Lions about this too!”

Blossom gave Charles the contact information for Sorina Chisaru at the Crimson Panoply of Victory… and a gentle hug.

Yep. That was definitely a tendency to squirm there.

The Celestial Lions focused a lot more on Charles though, as opposed to the potential political implications.

They were more interested in how Charles had resisted the demonic magic – particularly the ones who had met with him over that sand from Cecelyne. They sent for their own sorcerers to check the item, and did a variety of forensics and other testing besides.

Of course, they knew that Rachel had handled it, but surely someone else had handled it before she did – and they were VERY good investigators. There might well be SOME traces besides Rachel and Charles’s own…

They also knew that, while Dudael DID provide a defense against mental control, it normally only provided it for people who were inside of it at the time; Unless Charles had done his analysis there, that couldn’t be the whole explanation.

(Charles) “Oh, I set up a link through the Hearthstone that extends it a bit!”

(Chengdu) “That sounds useful! Can you do it with other Hearthstones?”

(Charles) “Some of them! It does take a certain level of commitment though!

(Chengdu) “It’s not related to this case, but if you could extend it to others, that’d help against other attacks. Of course, you’d have to apply it to the whole city…”

(Charles) “I’ll try to look into it – but that would require a LOT of power I think!”

(Yangxi) “Anyway… looks like somebody cleaned up the fingerprints and occult traces real good. I’d say it was definitely an akuma or one of those Green Sun thingies that gives the Sidereals headaches.”

(Charles) “Anyway… I thought you should know!

(Chengdu) “What bothers me is that they’d choose an inefficient form of attack like that. It wouldn’t surprise me if they’d scattered thousands of weapons like this throughout the city… just waiting for some Half-Caste or God-Blood to grab them.”

(Charles) “Oh dear! That would be awkward! Still, they may have been trying for disruption rather than casualties – in which case leaving he weapons around would make things too easy to analyze!”

(Yangxi) “Yeah… so, who knows about this other than us? I bet you already told the Sidereals.”

(Charles) “Well, it did seem to involve them pretty heavily. And I know of course. And if I knew who to tell for the lunars, I would – but the last one I heard of is on an extended leave of absence!… Oh yes! And Rachel’s family! But they’re hiding too right now.”

(Chengdu) “Huh. Run-and-Gun’s been out of town for a real long time. Hey Xiaoxiao, you know which of them’s around right now? I’d prefer a Half Moon or No Moon.”

(Xiaoxiao, who was reading over some reports, looked up) “Kid could try Redugun Ichor-Eater. He might want to be careful with him, though. The Cauldron-Born incident has him a bit touchy.”

Oh dear! Word on that had evidently been spreading! Well, it would of course… It did rather qualify as a small disaster.

(Yangxi) “What about Righteous Hala? Had her bothered too.”

(Xiaoxiao) “Yeah, but she’s a Full Moon.”

(Chengdu, shrugging) “She could still do something for him.”

(Yangxi) “Well, couldn’t hurt. We’ll try to keep on this case and let you know some stuff… if politics doesn’t get in the way.”

(Charles) “Thank you!”

Righteous Hala got the warning – but didn’t actually say much. Charles had the uncomfortable feeling that she was well aware of the shapeshifting he was doing… She was, however, glad to receive the warning, and wanted to keep in touch. An unusually perceptive falcon appeared at his official residence the next morning for that purpose.

She was happy to use his address and messaging systems too; the falcon was just there to watch him…

Everybody was watching now… Oh well! They’d still have a hard time watching inside!

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4 Responses

  1. […] XXX – And No, That Doesn’t Mean What You’re Thinking Out There!: Conversations on Deva Cutter. […]

  2. […] XXX – And No, That Doesn’t Mean What You’re Thinking Out There!: Conversations on Deva Cutter. […]

  3. […] XXX – And No, That Doesn’t Mean What You’re Thinking Out There!: Conversations on Deva Cutter. […]

  4. […] XXX – And No, That Doesn’t Mean What You’re Thinking Out There!: Conversations on Deva Cutter. […]

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