The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice XXXIV – Annotations of Anonymity

‪中文(繁體)‬: 荖濃溪源峽谷,位於玉山主峰東北側 The source of Lao...

Valley of Exposition

Charles didn’t know it – but his anonymous time was very rapidly drawing to an end… Like it or not, he’d simply meddled in too many things too quickly to remain in the background. The various groups on Yu-Shan and Earth might not know WHAT he was – but they were becoming quite sure that he was something more than a normal god-blood!

Of course, that had been inevitable sooner or later.

While he was getting people well settled aboard Aden, other people were trying to catch up with him about that… Still, whether fortunately or unfortunately, his next layers of smoke screens were almost ready.

They were likely to be quite interesting. “God-blooded” was a LOT less attention-grabbing than “Lesser Exalted” or “Possible Primordial”, or “Avatar of an Incarnae” or “Jotun”or “Akuma of Autochthon and Gaia”, or loads of other things.

Of course, in Yu-Shan just about anything was more attention grabbing than “God-Blooded”. Even “mortal” was often more interesting… Many gods considered watching mortal attempts to awaken their Essence a form of entertainment (it helped that they often involved elaborate rituals or drugs that caused strange behavior.)

Gri Fel and Terapishim had – not unexpectedly – asked about the “manse seed” after the tests. Would it work in creation?

(Charles) “Oh yes! I was planning to use it for you! “

They were very happy about that. Since it worked so well in the simulation, they had been going to ask.

They wandered off to get a little privacy…

Charles current list of entanglements includes

  • Devon: Whatever Devon did to ensure that his successor would acquire the devices and the manse that he’d left for him or her – and whatever plots and long-term purposes that involves. It’s just a bit odd that Charles doesn’t seem to have inherited ANY memories from Devon – or had much of an initial vision either…
  • The Fey: Several of the more powerful inhabitants of the Wyld Pockets in Creation have had an interest in Charles since early childhood – and that’s not necessarily restricted to the Atlanta Wyld Pocket; Wyld gates are relatively easy for Raksha to construct – and thus the Wyld Pockets are not nearly as isolated as most outsiders assume. The fact that Charles has been quite friendly, and has established some helpful facilities for them, and now has extensive contacts in Yu-Shan, is an invitation to intrigue. The fact that he’s using fey powers to provide therapy for mad gods is something else altogether…
  • The Dark Temple Incident: Charles escaped a situation that took out five or six Celestial Exalts, and it’s beginning to look like that might not have been mere luck and being unimportant. Their mentors and elders may be wanting to take a long and careful second look at that – and him.
  • The Cauldron-Born: By fusing their Wyld energies with human souls, these quasi-fey have become some of the most potentially dangerous menaces in Creation – reality-shapers with the raw power of a Celestial Exaltation to back their powers. Perhaps worse, the motivations and desires of a such unprecedented entities are entirely unknown – if they are stable at all. Worse, they have some notion of just how useful Charles could be to them – and know that he has some sympathy for chaos… Still, Charles really must find something he can do about the Seven Whispering Winds Manse that offers them access to Yu-Shan.
  • Dudael: Putting a god-blooded child in charge of a Factory-Cathedral – regardless of just how good he seems to be at operating it – was a pretty controversial move. Not surprisingly, there are still opponents – and several annoyed deities who feel that THEY should have the job, and are plotting to have it – or at least to eject the boy and have it open again. Of course, Dudeal may well have purposes of it’s own now that it finally has a hearthstone bearer who is capable or awakening it’s full power once again.
  • The Archivists of Heaven: Handing around minor artifact rings to help them keep the archives sorted out was kind, and obliging, and helped him out with a lot of research projects – but, unlike most of the groups in Yu-Shan, the archivists routinely share information, analyze it, and come to conclusions. Charles was very helpful, and they’re grateful for that, but they still want to know what’s going on.
  • His Teachers: They want to know a lot of things – like just who his parent is, who’s backing him, and how he obtained whatever-it-was he handed out to the other students. Even for a god-blood, his thaumaturgy and scholarship is pretty impressive – and there’s no real evidence that they’ve seen his full resources yet.
  • Museum Folk: The Hipparions have now been on Exhibit for several months – long enough to pretty well erase all doubts about their reality and to start inspiring all kinds of questions. They’re harmless enough in themselves of course, but the forces that want to keep magic under wraps are quite upset; it certainly looks to them like the scientists have been handed a thaumaturgic ritual – of quite impressive power – in technological form, and are trying to analyze it. A failure will start them looking elsewhere. A success… will start humans in on using technomagic, and down a path that may lead to the widespread, casual, use of magic. And they’re not going to ignore a blatant miracle.
  • The Bureau of Nature: There aren’t many thaumaturges powerful enough to reshape living things into perfect replicas of extinct creatures, thus restoring the species – and none so young, or willing to do it just to be “nice”. His attempts to start altruistically piloting solutions to Yu-Shan’s unemployment problems seem to have similar motives – and, while that project is useful, his motives seem to make him ripe for exploitation. Surely he will not be so naive for long…
  • Gri Fel and Terapishim: While they think that the universe bloody well owes them one after all this time, they’re still wondering exactly who – and WHAT – Charles is. He’s tapping into some extremely primal powers – and doing it awfully casually as well. That’s to their benefit at the moment, but they’re not used to being caught up in something that they don’t understand – and which may involve powers greater than their own.
  • The Bureau of Humanity: While structures – including manses – are no business of the Bureau of Nature, they are certainly a concern of the Bureau of Humanity, as are the future implications of training and enhancing thaumaturgists, introducing magitech to the modern world, granting humans godlike powers, and causing thousands of people to disappear before they’d normally be killed… While Charles’s usual status Outside of Fate and tendency to place most of his holdings and operations there is keeping the disturbances down for the moment, it’s going to be dramatic when they start taking effect – and the first flashpoint might well be Atlanta. WWW has also taken an interest in the scientific debate over the Hipparions – and he is a major figure these days. The recent test results – and the creation of a manse that grants local humans godlike powers – is going to attract attention as well.
  • Jacob Anderson: As a thaumaturgic specialist in manses with a sideline in Wards, Jacob has a better idea than most of Charles’s skill – and is well aware of various manse-related problems out there which desperately need fixing.
  • The Sidereal Exalted: The fact that Charles routinely wanders off outside of Fate could pass unnoticed in a mere god-blood – but now that he’s been entangled in the Dark Temple Incident, seems to have a massive “in” with Lytek, has gotten involved with the Nocturnal Exaltations, shown off some of this thaumaturgic skills, has taken an interest in the affairs of the bronze faction, has provided them with information on Deva Cutter, demonstrated the ability to enhance manses, provided numerous artifacts, is somehow involved with the “Lesser Exaltations”, and is getting entangled with divine politics, has definitely made him of interest. Of course, no single Sidereal Exalt has more than a fraction of that information, but more than one is now trying to look into the situation.
  • The Nocturnal Exalted: Charles is definitely involved with these (and, to judge by the gear that he seems to have made for them in the future will be involved with them even more) – but, given the current lack of any real information on them, exactly what they’ll be up to is hard to say. Still, he’s already rescued one of them from imprisonment, and provided refuges for others – and thus will likely soon come to the attention of whoever’s chasing THEM.
  • The “Lesser Exaltations” are attracting attention from the students, the teachers, and the students divine parents at the moment – but will shortly be attracting a good deal more attention than THAT. They blatantly are “lesser” – and may not really have much to do with genuine Exaltations at all – but they are still providing a remarkable amount of power, some of which can be (eventually) traced back to a couple of new “Exaltation Manses” in the Canadian wilderness.
  • The possibility that he may have uncovered one of the largest “treasure hordes” in history will be drawing attention on it’s own; a mere god-blood cannot possibly hope to hang on to such a find – and even if he’s turned most of it over to the Bureaus, there should still be a massive fortune left!
  • The Masons and the Terrestrial Exalts: Both of these groups are – quite reasonably – taking an interest in the new factor that’s impacting their plans – and a few of them (even if they are in a rather distant realm at this point) are now aware that Charles is capable of opening gates to places beyond the known cosmos – and is certainly something very VERY strange at the very least. They may well have an agent in Arcosanti; they were interested in the place and in the domain rising there.
  • The Evasion Club: One of Charles’s few after-school activities outside his work, and one of the best venues for the students to approach him – despite the fact that it’s basically a hide-and-seek and lose-the-pursuers game. After all, they have to meet before they can start.
  • Amazonian Demon Summoners: Whoever is setting demons to guard manses in the Amazon is presumably up to something – and may be a bit miffed at Charles for blowing so many of them up. At the moment, it looks like this might have something to do with whatever Deathlord was sending his or her Abyssal Exalted to blow up selected manses. That may also tie into Lytek’s attempts to “reset” the captured Abyssal Exaltations (which Charles tried to help analyze, but with no results as of yet).
  • The Celestial Lions aren’t sure WHAT he is – but they have deduced a great deal about his abilities. The fact that he was willing to provide them ALL with armor (no matter what he said about finding an oh-so-convenient “treasure horde”), and some other useful artifacts, was a plus however; at least it said that his purposes are probably compatible with theirs.
  • His personal projects currently include that mysterious Moonsilver Choker, repairing several manses (the Spire of Ramsthenes in the Adirondacks (Solar ***), the underground Caves of the Silver Remnant in Alabama (Lunar ***), the Frosted Temple of Nandarkara up in the Canadian Arctic regions (Air ****), the Palace of Verox Ran in the western Amazon (Wood ****), and the fiery Ruby-and-Adamant Redoubt in the depths of Mount Shasta (Fire ****)), finding some way to get rid of Yu-Shans redundant paperwork, arranging some form of “Heaven” for souls (given that the eventual fate of all souls in Creation is to pass into oblivion, to be forged into soulsteel, to be eaten by a primordial, or to be absorbed by the Wyld – all essentially a final death or fate worse than death), and the Stargate and Stardrive Projects (designed to put most of the out-of-work gods of Yu-Shan back into business as well as make it easier for the Sidereals to correct offworld loom errors) – for which he needs the help of a Sidereal or two.
  • His recent Artifact Deliveries will have stirred up some interest as well. Most of the gods are simply gratified that they were apparently given priority treatment – but when everyone starts to compare notes, and discover that EVERYONE got their stuff way early, they’ll certainly want to know HOW.
  • The Lunars – or at least one of them – may know exactly what Charles is, but some of them are now keeping an eye on him as well anyway. The information on Deva Cutter, and the artifacts he brought them, may both be quite useful.
  • Aden Shining Dream, of course, is waiting to be discovered.
  • Perhaps most drastically of all, with the opening of a link between the refuge of the Dragon Kings and a Creation where humans still survive, any Exaltations there that have escaped some form of destruction, containment, or being lost forever in the infinite reaches of the Wyld may soon be clustering around the gate – ready to slip through, to briefly appear in Lytek’s cabinet (with a cargo of memories of the destruction of creation) and to once more choose hosts. It is even possible that some have already done so with that gateway’s second opening. That may not have happened – it may be that Exaltations are truly bound to their home realities, and may not thus “transfer” to another – but who knows?

In the face of that array of potential pursuers, Charles was… paying for a nice little dinner party! Gri Fel and Terapishim now had decent prospects, but at the moment they were still out of work, so it was Charles’s treat! His effective salary had gone up quite nicely recently!

It was a big enough dinner to feed several unemployed gods and some hangers-on!

Gri Fel and Terapishim’s friends, and the nearby slum, ate well for once. They didn’t taste ambrosia that often, after all!

Charles was pleased that they were having a good time.

Kiko was having a good time, too. After all, if Gri Fel got the job, she’d have a backer with some power! And money too!

Charles was tempted to provide her with a small cult, just to get her a little cash of her own. That only took a dozen or so people…

Come to think of it… Did Gri Fel and Terapishim have any personal cults at all?

Gri Fel was considered the unofficial patron of the slums of Yu-Shan – and perhaps, by extension of slums elsewhere – but that apparently didn’t really count. Terapishim had a tiny little cult who worshiped him because of his beard.

Well, the “Cult of the Beard” did sound like fun to him! Apparently people didn’t know who those impossibly ancient statues were OF, but the beard WAS quite impressive!

Still… he’d made a manse with an Ambrosial Chalice Hearthstone (***** of course) for Ixiah anyway, and that left two unused attunements! He could share a drink with Gri Fel and Terapishim!

(Gri Fel) “What does it do?”

(Charles) “Oh, it focuses spiritual energy! I just got a hold of it recently! It should be helpful!

Well, he’d finished up the manse about two months ago, and the hearthstone had finished up last month!

(Gri Fel) “Focuses spiritual energy, you say… well, I won’t refuse… and I see Terapishim has already finished his gulp.”

(Terapishim) “That is a strong drink indeed!”

They both got quite jovial… and were already looking a lot less ragged. Even their clothing and ornamentation was slowly repairing itself.

Well, it did give them both the equivalent of a Cult-3 and Salary-3 to work with. That wasn’t enormous, but it was pretty good by modern standards – and loads better than the Resources-1 they had to work with on the dole! It would even give Kiko some money to work with!

That was very good!

Fortunately, as a hearthstone effect, such a personal “cult” wasn’t regulated… The Sidereals (and Financial gods and others) still wanted to investigate sometimes – but there really wasn’t anything they could say about it. That was why those few gods who knew such things existed pursued them…

Anyway, this way, even if they didn’t get the job, they’d be OK!

Of course if they didn’t Charles was going to be looking for some serious bribery or something going on. It would have been quite hard to put in a much better performance!

Gri Fel took a hard look at the Chalice… ANOTHER tremendously potent item in the child’s hands… Indicating ownership of at least one additional rank-5 manse.

OH. Of Course. “Programable Manse Seed”. He had more than one… and access to archives full of designs if he actually needed any help with that.

And to think the child hadn’t really asked for anything in return… But then… he already HAD a pile of artifacts, wealth, all the magic he seemed to want or need, protection, a fairly important official position, good connections, access to the libraries of Yu-Shan, free passage across most of Celestial City, and the favor of mysterious powers. What would you offer him? How DID you return a favor?

Gri Fel really wasn’t that worried about it – the kid didn’t really seem to need anything, and the cosmos sure-as-oblivion owed him a few breaks by NOW – but some gods did feel obliged. All he seemed to need… was friends, contacts, and influence. Which he got by being nice and helpful.

Well, that wasn’t hard! Although the boy might run into trouble if he started helping someone that someone more powerful actively wanted to keep down one of these days (he’d heard a few rumors that he’d been spotted visiting the Bronze Faction; still, even they probably got to put in a few orders…). He was pretty much outside the system – and a complete loose cannon!