The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice XXXIII – City and Soul

English: knot design by Charles Godfrey Leland

Now let the gates be opened!

After the tests, the Proctor very much wanted to talk to Charles… The minor antics of mortal and god-blooded thaumaturgic assistants could usually be safely ignored – but in this case, the child evidently had access to some quite exceptional artifacts – and his thaumaturgy (or at least his mastery of wards) was strong enough to have been a notable factor.

Most unusual – and a very useful resource for a pair of down-and-out deities to have on tap. That stunt with the Manse had been pretty dramatic, even if it had required the use of a special, one-shot, artifact.

(Proctor) “Charles Dexter Ward?”

(Charles) “Hello! Can I help you?”

(Proctor) “I would like to speak to you about some of your activities in the simulation. It will help me properly judge the results… That was a most unusual artifact you used there. Could you tell me a little about it?”

(Charles) “Uhm… Well, it’s a programmable manse seed; you need to have it programmed with the design for the manse, the geomantic modifications you want made, and a high-quality geomantic survey, have it loaded with a fair quantity of ambrosia for raw materials, couple it to several hearthstones to provide the power – including at least one from a factory-cathedral – and monitor the growth and essence flows. It doesn’t take all that much personal power, but the seed itself is a fairly high-order artifact. It is fairly fast, but then it is a one-shot sort of thing!”

Actual Manse Seeds are Artifact *** – and still, of course, require an appropriate demesne or potential demesne, although they can perform enough geomantic engineering to boost one by one level. They do require that the site be surveyed, and a manse designed for it, and that the user spend rather a lot of motes and (normally) at least 48 hours guiding the project. Charles, as it happens, was cheating…

(Proctor) “Interesting.” (He will write that down…) “Would you be providing one of these to the actual city?”

(Charles, with some surprise) “Of course! It wouldn’t be fair to use one in the simulation otherwise!”

(Procotor) “I thought I should ask. You see, the Bureau of Destiny likes to know about these things beforehand. It seems safe enough, but any little factor could interfere with fate planning. I’m sure you understand.”

(Charles) “I wouldn’t want to do that! It makes more work for all kinds of people!”

(Proctor) “That’s a good mortal. Now, I am curious as to where a child your age would find such a device. I believe you run a factory cathedral, yes?”

(Charles) “Oh yes! One of the original ones, Dudael!”

(Proctor) “Impressive. I’m certain someone there can make such a device.”

(Charles) “Oh yes! It’s within the range we can handle!”

That “We” raised the Proctors eyebrow, and a few amongst the audience, although most of the witnesses assumed that Charles assisted with some minor task – rather than designing the whole thing. After all, to all appearances, he was a god-blooded child, although he was evidenly a talented one rather than a glorified pet.

Charles, of course, had meant “Dudael and I” more than “and the rest of the team” – but it was still true – and he had been raising some VERY good wards in the simulation.

(Proctor) “Well… do let both the Bureau of Destiny and the Bureau of Humanity know before you deploy that artifact. Manses aren’t built that quickly that often, and they and my superiors might want to observe.”

It wasn’t often that he recommended that a more-or-less mortal thaumaturge bring his or her activities to the attention of the bureaus in case they disrupted something – but the boy seemed to possess tremendous resources for a mortal, and great skill – and was entangled with some fairly high-level affairs; he would not be surprised if fate had something quite important in mind for the child…

(Charles) “OK! That design worked really well too! I won’t need to find another one I think!”

(Proctor) “A collector of schematics, are you?”

(Charles) “I was poking around in the archives! : There’s lots of stuff in there!”

The Proctor was a god of city planning, so that was only tangentially related to his field – although he could certainly appreciate the benefits of such things for cities.

(Proctor) “Oh, I’m certain. I won’t detain you any longer. I just wanted to ask you about that seed. It was fascinating to watch.”

Charles was somewhat relieved… He hadn’t asked what archives, or thought about what “one of the original ones” meant – although he might ask again sometime, or send the information on to someone else.

(Charles) “You’re quite welcome!”

Charles hadn’t hidden the fact that he’d unsealed the primordial archives in Dudael – but no one was passing that information around much either. The workers at Dudael were loyal enough (to their jobs if not necessarily to Charles, even if he WAS a pretty good boss and paid bonuses out of pocket) and most of the other groups that knew had their own reasons for keeping things quiet – and it would be a pain to visit an archive in a factory cathedral if you weren’t a worker there.

He might get some visitors eventually though – if only to see what other treasure-hordes might lay in the depths… After all, that had been Charles’s explanation for where he “found” his horde – albeit without mentioning that he was the one who put it there in the first place. Even the financial gods wouldn’t be able to hide that information indefinitely… Some were betting on various aspects of that find, while others wanted to exploit it in time.

Of course, shortly after the test results were released he’d probably be hearing from anyone who wanted a manse built or repaired…

Charles, meanwhile, considered the fact that the Proctor had asked and talked about giving notice on building a manse that way a very good indication… It probably meant that no one else had done anything comparable, and that Gri Fel and Terapishim were very likely to get the job!

A little later, Maella called from Kyoto. Some interesting things had happened there recently; while pursuing the patronage of the Wood Aspect Marukami family for her music career, she had encountered a ronin Chosen of Battles – and had gotten into touch with Rosa about her. Also, the Chosen had found some Garda Powder – a magical substance which greatly intensified fire. Apparently there were traffickers in Japan, and she had confiscated it from them… Maella didn’t want to have the stuff around – it was too dangerous – and so she was offering it to Charles for a reasonable fee. As an artificer, he could surely find some uses for the stuff!

Well, that was reasonable enough! It was called for in a number of designs – and he had plenty of money to pay for at the moment!

That would probably make him a target for any other serious competitors, but hopefully the need to try to get to Yu-Shan – or at least to Atlanta – to try and get the stuff would hold that down.

Anyway… Soon he’d have plenty of people settled aboard Aden – which meant he should probably give some thought to how to simulate a hierarchy of “souls”…

The first circle was easy! Quite a few of his manses had “bound servitor forces” – and they could easily represent what he needed… The Androids could handle computer services and technology, the Basilisks could handle minor defenses and still play their role as walking alchemical laboratories, the Cave Bears could handle medical situations and any shamanism anyone needed, the Centaurs could handle the wilderness scouting and guiding and research, the Drakes could handle the elemental manipulations, the Gargoyles could handle surveillance, the Golems could go on doing whatever-it-was they did (he hadn’t really meant for them to appear at all, they’d just shown up!), the Hobbits (another accident) could keep right on operating Inns and Restaurants and such (they were good at that!), the Kitsune could handle hosting and diversions, the Nibelungs could handle minor artificing, the Sphinx’s could go right on being mysterious, and the Trolls could handle heavy construction, bashing, earthmoving, and so on as they were meant to.

The Coatl and Inukami could probably continue as they were… As obvious Amalgams, they were never going to pass as anything other than aides anyway.

For the “second circle”… That was a job for the Guardian Forces! The Demiurges (empowered mortals) could fill in where needed, the Djinni could handle most of the manse construction now (and some other fairly high-end artificing), the Noldor could continue doing the (useful) things that most Raksha did (while refraining from the less useful bits), the Seraphs could handle the sorcery and spell-storing and other boosts, the Totems could continue to boost thaumaturgy and empower mortals and god-bloods, the Unicorns could inspire and work the social stuff – and the Warforged could continue to power and operate the weapons of the Spear of Aden.

The “third circle” – and dominant third-circle soul – was harder though! You could give your manse-guardians a bit of a boost with some inherent artifacts (add +1 manse creation point to the cost of a given force to add [manse rating -2] points worth of inherent artifacts to them) – and, for the most part, he had – but that didn’t really make them as powerful as he’d like…

He could just equip some of the Seraphs – or perhaps a few Warforged (there were more than he really needed after all) – with some artifacts, and let them stand in for third circle “souls” – but they really wouldn’t have the power that went with that status…

On the other hand, it might be quite some time before anyone went looking anyway, and they could buy time even then. Eventually he’d come up with something!