The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice Session XXXIX – Gates of the Third Circle

Lokis Gezücht. Loki's brood; Hel, Fenrir and J...

Are you QUITE sure you know what you're doing here?

Hala’s little reverie hadn’t taken up much time – although she would like to know what caste her bondmate was… After twenty thousand years there was no easy way to find out much about who’d had your exaltation in the first age – or who your bondmate was. Lytek was about the only reliable source, and he usually refused to discuss the matter…

Clearly the child was a skilled craftsman, so Twilight was the obvious choice, but those Wyld connections kind of implied an Eclipse who just happened to be more artificer than diplomat – and the Solar Exalted were supposed to be impossibly good at almost anything.

Charles’s mind, as it turned out, was still on sandwiches. He really was a child.

(Charles) “Well, there are much worse things that someone could be stealing than sandwiches!”

(Hala) “Thing is, I’m not sure it WAS a small god. The Essence signature was weird.”

There was only so much Essence she could use through the falcon though; she hadn’t been able to get too much.

(Charles) “Hm… Well, whatever-it-was will probably turn up again soon! Maybe it was some sort of Yu-Shan raccoon!”

Raccoons were cute! Maybe he could make some with magic powers!

(Hala) “What crazy idea just entered your head now?… Never mind, I’m not sure I want to know.”

Dinner proceeded normally, albeit with some odd looks Charles’s way. Apparently having kids at the adult table was not normal for Righteous Hala.

Well, if she needed an excuse she could always ask him to make an artifact… Charles kind of wondered exactly what and how she knew, but Lunars often knew weird stuff!

(Hala) “Hm… do you have any particularly interesting items that you haven’t absorbed.

(Charles) “Uhm… Any particular field?”

(Hala) “Well… moonsilver, sensory artifacts, stuff that helps with Manses. I do temporary ones when I’m not stuck up here.”

(Charles) “Hm… There’s a moonsilver gizmo around somewhere that I picked up in a junk shop, but what it does is so buried that I haven’t had time to decipher it… Manse boosters usually need to be attuned to particular manses… Is it in the borderlands or near chaos pockets? There are some good tricks you can play there!

(Hala) “Mostly. I’ll pay well… though from what I heard, you don’t want too much of that.”

(Charles) “Hmm… There’s the Necklace of Dreams! Or I could make you a set of graces if you don’t have any already!”

Hala passed on the Graces. She was a bit more leery of the Raksha than Charles – as most people were; he’d been more or less under diplomatic immunity, and immune to most of their powers, in any case, as long as he could remember. She was not – and for all the benefits of Graces, would rather not leave the Raksha that opening. The Necklace of Dreams was more interesting though; it lasted longer than her charm, and didn’t require that she stay in the demesne – even if it did mean giving up a lot of control.

A Necklace of Dreams is Raksha magic – each of it’s dozen or so lovely gems holds a fantasy (whether of a mighty army, an enchanted palace, a welcoming inn, or a dark and trackless forest) waiting to be released in a Wyld Zone. While such fantasies will fade away at Calibration even if they should somehow pass unchallenged until then, few tired travelers feel much of an impulse to banish a convenient inn even if they do doubt it’s reality. A normal Necklace of Dreams is just a thaumaturgical talisman – although you do need the help of a Raksha to make them.

In this case, thanks to Charles and his Mardi Gras manse’s quasi-Raksha (normal Raksha are explicitly prohibited from making manses) the gems of this necklace contain fantasies of manses with the “Immutable” power – which shields them from further shaping, including the imposition of Creation’s rules by the expenditure of a point of willpower. If you release such a fantasy on top of an existing demesne of level 2+ it will manifest a manse – which then becomes immutably “real”, at least until the next Calibration, or until the minor maintenance requirement associated with the Immutable function is not met, or until something happens to the demesne or structure, whichever comes first. Unfortunately, such a manse usually included a variety of more-or-less random features (The game master spends one-half the remaining creation points). Necklaces like this are probably Artifact * or **; even if they are strictly temporary, and limited to working in wyld zones, this can still be extremely handy.

Hmm… That was DEFINITELY an interesting notion! She’d never really considered the possibilities of combining Raksha reality-shaping with some other method of stabilizing the results… Wait; if you shaped a demesne too, you could use that to power a manse which kept it stable, which…

Charles had tried that one; it didn’t work – or at least it took more than a fantasy to create usable dragon lines. For that you had to shape the wyld instead of just throwing a fantasy over it.

All you needed to do was break the link with Calibration – which should be quite doable with either a zone of influence to keep the disruptions of Calibration from affecting the dragon lines sustaining the manse – or to build it with wyld revocation devoted to the purpose – and you could make semi-permanent stable areas, capable of existing within the Wyld for as long as their guardians and maintainers could keep them going.

Wait, that sounded a great deal like Creation itself!

Still, if Charles really could provide artifacts that could produce temporary Manses like that, HER friends at least were going to find him invaluable!

Speaking of which… she asked to see the construct he’d used to fool the Sidereals. It had to be an impressive one, their distraction by infighting, politics, and lack of sleep aside.

Well, since she seemed to know about it, Charles thought that he might as well show her! The privacy wards were quite adequate…

Aden currently included about two hundred and fifty thousand people, a hundred thousand square miles, a similar number of manse-guardians and servitors, nearly four hundred and fifty manses, and the twenty-four “third circle souls”. It was saturated in healing and thaumaturgy-supporting energies, and was spectacularly beautiful, full of “natural” wonders and marvelous creatures.

By Luna herself… It was no wonder that the child had fooled the Sidereals! The place… blazed with youth and health and good intentions… and power. She sat down – only to realize that the place was so hospitable that it had hastily created a chair, a table with drinks, and a small pavilion to accommodate her sudden desire to sit down.

Impressive and unnerving! If this was what a Solar who had been Exalted for only a few years could do, she could not imagine the unknown wonders of the First Age!

(Hala) “So how long did this take to build?”

(Charles) “Uhm… Lets see… It takes an hour or so per each block of territory, and another hour or so for each manse… and a little planning time… It’s taken most of my spare time for the last five months now! But now the manse-guardians can handle a lot of little stuff for me!.. Oh! Sometimes I got sleepy while I was working and things got a little silly! That’s why the Baalgrogs!

(Hala, with more than a bit of startlement; the child had been shaping reality while half-asleep?) “That explains THAT, then. At least they’ve found a useful niche… Any other unintended arrivals in here I need to know about?”

(Charles) “Uhm… Probably! I haven’t really gotten a good accounting… About a quarter of a million people have moved in though! That’s actually turned out to be pretty helpful! A fair number of them have been saying “thank you” a lot – they seem to think I’m a patron god or something – and that provides some ambrosia to work with for making more things!”

(Hala) “Okay, you’re going to have to explain that one… though ambrosia’s never a bad thing.”

(Charles) “Well, some of the newer manses, like the two from the other day, are still generating their creatures, and some I haven’t seen yet since I’ve been busy since I built them, so there probably are more oddities there. The people were from villages and things that were going to be blown up and such.”

(Hala) “Nice of you. That would definitely make most mortals think you were a god. I take it you’re letting them go about their business here?”

(Charles) “Pretty much! The manse-guardians are mostly handling the organization, and there’s lots of room and supplies!”

(Hala) “They look like they should be able to handle most things, then, even if there are a few troublemakers.”

(Charles) “Well, if there’s any serious problem I can always re-edit the landscape!”

Hala wondered briefly… wasn’t that kind of stunt usually restricted to elders? On the other hand, he WAS a Solar, and looking at the place…

(Hala) “That’s helpful… and looking at your Essence flows, I think you can do that or similar tricks from pretty much anywhere.”

(Charles) “Well… It is all me really! I don’t really know if anyone in the first age tried this sort of thing… or was really capable of it. They seemed to be much more externally-focused, and much older, and I’m pretty sure that Lytek and Devon were doing some extensive meddling with things when it came to me! I don’t think the first age Solars ever tried rebuilding their own souls to make them bigger and happier and more welcoming!”

(Hala) “That IS pretty niche… so, what do you know about this Devon?”

(Charles) “Uhm… He made an artifact-tome that automatically recorded his life. Usually at about a fifty pages of details per day – and then he went and lived for better than thirty thousand years! I know enough to say that I know very little of all that stuff! Because a few hundred pages of that are quite enough to drive me up a wall! And there are nearly five hundred milllion of them…”

Damn. She’d been hoping that Charles’s memories would be better than hers. Still, a detailed biography of…

(Hala) “What, you found something that important and you didn’t… oh, wait, kid. I understand, but I’d still skim it . . . or at least speed read. I think thaumaturges can do that.”

(Charles) “I was hoping maybe I could make a “summarize” spell or something sometime!”

(Hala) “Well, tell me if you do. We seem to be equally in the dark about him.”

Charles was actually somewhat afraid to pry into Devon’s seemingly-endless chapters… Just how much of his life had Devon set up in advance? A thirty-thousand-year-old Solar Exalt Arch-sorcerer… There might not be much of his life that WAS his own. If he didn’t have much of any free will, he’d at least prefer to preserve the illusion!

Also, of course, because exploring the lifetime of his Exaltations prior bearer – beyond the mystery of why he had inherited no memories of Devon at all – hadn’t been much of a priority in the limited game time available. Secondarily, because the game master has not yet revealed what kind of role Devon was taking in the campaign.

Hala was considerably more eager. All she really knew was the name, that they had a platonic relationship… and that her incarnation at the time found him simultaneously frustrating and fascinating. On the other hand… if the boy was serious about five hundred MILLION pages… How many mind-manipulating effects might be hidden in that mass? Even if it was just the skillful writing of an Exalt that old the psychological impact might be considerable… and the kid was… pretty nervous about it.

Well, frustrating as that WAS, it was also pretty understandable! She might as well change the subject!

(Hala) “So, tell me more about your other abilities. You probably do more than make things and use thaumaturgy.”

OK, Exalted-tier thaumaturgy was pretty versatile – but surely he’d studied something else? Even if he HAD obviously been pretty focused on “build”…

(Charles) “Other than thaumaturgy? I mostly do manses and artifacts and sorcery – and lots of hearthstones. Oh! And running a religion that helps the people in it, and a few other bits and pieces.

(Hala) “That’s… very useful. No wonder the Sidereals were fooled.”

What, no combat? Surely the boy had to know a LITTLE! Sure, he had plenty of passive defenses – some remarkably good ones it seemed – but Exalted combatants had their ways of getting past those! Owning a huge pile of hearthstones and artifacts was indeed very useful – but you still needed SOME combat skills!

(Hala) “Are you sure you don’t need more combat training, though? I’m happy to teach when I can spare the time.”

(Charles) “I put in a little – although more wouldn’t hurt of course. Last time was awful!”

(Hala) “I think I can handle that. I won’t go any easier on you than your teachers, though!”

(Charles) “OK! I’ve got more Crystal Arenas if you’d like some though!”

(Hala) “Huh, so that was you. I shouldn’t be too surprised, but thanks. They’ll be useful for special scenarios.”

(Charles) “OK!”

Charles was actually pretty relieved; she hadn’t asked WHAT was horrible about last time. They’d DIED. Why couldn’t it have been like the fight in the water manse?

Hala, of course, was assuming that he was talking about his dislike of his last combat course, not a fight with three Abyssal Exalts… She, of course, considered having to kill regrettable but sometimes inevitable.

(Hala) “I’m sensing all kinds of Essence around here, by the way – including Nocturnal, and that’s pretty hard to get a hold of! I assume the weird type is whatever you’re using to trick the Sidereals?”

(Charles) “I made a new kind to power better thaumaturgy and manses and things!”

(Hala, laughing) “Can you get that outside of here? I’d like to see if I could emulate that one!”

(Charles) “I can set up a link!”

(Hala) “Is that traceable back here?”

(Charles) “Only if they can pretty much tie you down and study you!”

(Hala) “I just thought I should ask. I’m eager to see what I can do with this – I assume “Adenic”? – essence-aspect. And while we’re on Manses . . . how did you get Nocturnal Essence in here? That’s pretty obscure.”

(Charles) “Uhm… I tried creating a demesne and a manse to focus it to see what it was like! I studied it for a bit, then let it revert to Sidereal – but it looks like it’s out again now! It must have been hiding! It must be able to change types back and forth when no one is watching! That’s pretty cool!”

(Hala) “My friends and I are curious about them. There’s some similarities to us… but the Sidereals have been keeping a fairly tight lid on information involving them. If you could get me in touch with the one at your factory-cathedral, I’d appreciate it.”

(Charles) “Well, that’s easy!”

Huh… WAY obliging. Jose was a much harder sell when she was talking to him. That was going to get the kid in MASSIVE trouble someday, she just knew it! You couldn’t oblige EVERYONE!

She had to admit that all the mythological and fantasy creatures running about were amusing, if a bit frivolous. Still, a hundred or so rank-five manses gave him quite a selection of Hearthstones to choose from.

(Hala) “Could I meet one of your “Third Circle” stand-ins? Or haven’t you got any yet? You’re going to need some if you want to keep up the front!”

Charles called in Mishinago the Philosophical Storm, Master of Alchemy – a pleasant young man with spectacles, and tea… (Even if he did occasionally take the form of a colossal alchemical serpent).

Mishinago the Philosophical Storm:

  • Essence 10, Willpower 10, about 220 motes (base), ~70 Divine Charms, Resources N/A.
  • May selectively provide protection from environmental effects to those within 250 feet.
  • May selectively grant temporary access to +1 Essence and +3 Charms similarly – although this does not stack directly with similar powers.
  • May provide supplies and equipment instantly as purchasable by his N/A resources for up to 2500 people at a cost of four motes.
  • May use Occult in place of all crafting skills.
  • Before Charms roll 30d for all tasks, 34d for mental tasks, 38d+up to 33 autosuccesses for Occult and 39 for Alchemy – easily enough to perform transmutation on a global scale.

(Mishinago, bowing elegantly with 22 successes on performance) “And good evening madam! I was informed that you wished to meet one or more of us?”

(Hala, returning the bow) “Good evening to you as well. I was curious about how Charles was arranging things around here. This is nothing like the world bodies I’ve seen before.”

(Mishinago) “Well, I suspect that most of those are rather badly messed up!”

(Hala) “Like you wouldn’t believe… Anyway, I get the feeling you’re skilled at helping people out.”

(Mishinago) “Well yes indeed! Vast destruction and such is within my power of course – but I much prefer to work in other fashions!”

(Hala) “Sounds about right… if you would indulge me, mighty one, could you demonstrate?”

(Mishinago) “What would you care for? Perhaps give a barren rocky planet a breathable atmosphere and fertile soil? Thats one of Charles’s pet projects!”

Even his souls were that obliging? Well, it was HIS soul hierarchy… though his dedication to adding life to Creation was admirable. And the sheer power he was willing to throw around… the elders were not nearly that cavalier.

(Hala) “Nothing that big. In a couple of days, I’m returning to the borders of the universe. There’s some communities over there I need to make a trading post for. Think you could make some supplies for that?”

(Mishinago) “Most certainly! What sort of things would you like?”

(Hala) “I can build the Manse for that on my own. How about goods? Building materials, tools, cold iron, and seeds are always handy!”

Mishinago called on another specialist for seeds – but that took mere moments.

Hala was definitely impressed. If she didn’t know better, she’d say that was a true Third Circle. Considering things, it might well be…

(Hala) “How’d you make him? I’m pretty sure the lower souls are Manse servitors and guardians, but he seems like something special.”

(Charles, wondering if he should keep that secret) “Well… There are nine fifth-rank artifacts, and ten fourth, and seven major manses, and four other guardians, and some other things helping him!”

What, he was funneling a geomantic network and enough artifacts to equip a dozen Exalts into an individual being? Still, at least the boy had SOME caution about revealing his secrets. Considering the amount of sheer raw power involved, that was a very good thing to be a bit circumspect about! It still said that his resources were quite impressive – and fully explained the shortage of sleep. No wonder he was up all the time, he had to make the stuff to keep up his cover… and help people.

(Hala) “Thanks for your time, Lord Mishinago. The people of Satries Prime are going to appreciate this stuff.”

(Mishinago) “Oh, you are quite welcome! Since Charles wishes to oblige you, so do we all! If they should need anything else, there are our various powers and a dozen factory-cathedrals scattered around to call on!”

What a dozen? Were there that many still functioning in the rest of creation put together? Maybe the boy wasn’t being entirely unreasonable in trying to fix everything he saw.

She opted to return to the dinner party. She needed time to think about all this. Her guests were probably beginning to wonder what was going on anyhow. How could the boy POSSIBLY have so much power – and still be so naive?

Could he Sidereals possibly be RIGHT? She was going to have to try to get an appointment with Lytek.

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11 Responses

  1. Depending on the amount of initiative and independance Aden’s Guardians have, then it might be one of them stealing the sandwhiches. How else could someone get past Charles on a regular basis unless they WERE him?

    • What I mean is that depending on the level of autonomy they have, it could be one with a mischievous streak. That and they would in time begin developing and furthering agendas independent of Charles’s. Not that they could be detrimental to him, likely they things they would pursue would be in the vein of what he might do himself.

      • Oh, it might well be one of his manse-guardians – and they do indeed have lots of autonomy. Charles is very much against stealing anyone’s free will from them.

        And some are likely already pursuing their own agendas – although, at least for now, they’re often things that they think he’d want done – a very tricky proposition indeed. That has tremendous potential for going disastrously wrong.

        Charles is just failing – childishly – to think about “how things might go wrong” or “what might this cause next year”. Out of character, and equally “of course”, unexpected complications are more fun.

        And thanks for all the suggestions by the way; another point of view on such things is always useful.

  2. Another thought that occurred to me, though Charles HAS given some thought towards the Yozis, there are still some things of an Infernal nature that can’t be anticipated. The Devil Tigers, to be specific. There are some on the White Wolf forums that are very well fleshed out,

    • And, even worse, in this setting they may have had a very long time indeed to develop and to change the Yozi’s. It has, after all, been tens of thousands of years with Malfeas almost entirely out of contact.

      • It’s true there may be changes in the social enviroment of Hell, but I don’t think they’d be BIG changes in the Yozi’s thematics unless something major happened. Besides, until Malfeas regained a door to creation, there’d be no place for them to be except under the thumb of one of the Yozis.

      • Hard to say; after all, even if each infernal exaltation only adds one new charm to the Yozi charmsets per century on the average, after twenty thousand years or so that’s still two hundred apiece – for better than ten thousand charms with just fifty Infernals.

        Potentially there could be several hundred new Primordials out there, and the original Primordials thematics could be virtually lost.

        On the other hand, that’s a tremendous amount of GM work; so it’s likely that – just like most of the other charmsets – true creativity is a very rare spark save amongst PC’s, and most of the NPC’s have always contented themselves with existing charms.

  3. […] XXXIX – Gates of the Third Circle: The Necklace of Dreams, Devon’s Tome, Mishinago the Philosophical Storm. […]

  4. […] XXXIX – Gates of the Third Circle: The Necklace of Dreams, Devon’s Tome, Mishinago the Philosophical Storm. […]

  5. […] Necklace of Dreams (scroll down) (0, 1, or 2): A selection of stored shapings. […]

  6. […] Necklace of Dreams (scroll down) (0, 1, or 2): A selection of stored shapings. […]

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