In the back of his head Charles was STILL continuing to consider Small Gods and Sandwiches… It WAS a bad neighborhood, but they had to be pretty hungry to climb the mountain! They’d been fairly mundane sandwiches too… If small gods needed sandwiches, then something must be done! A Soup Kitchen perhaps! At the base of the mountain! And some renovations in the area!
And sandwiches and extra supplies for anyone who started working on reviving the area themselves…
Hala, meanwhile, was mulling things over… Considering the overwhelming style the boy brought to everything ELSE he did, the “Adenic Essence Attunement” probably turned thaumaturgy into something quite unrecognizable with a dozen over-the-top beneficial side effects all thrown in in the name of “niceness”. Luna forbid that someone who WASN’T “nice” should get a hold of whatever it was before the rest of the cosmos knew how to counter whatever-it-was he’d done.
Put that way… there wasn’t much choice. Oh well! Everything else the boy had done so far had been well-meant, utterly benign, and ridiculously helpful – and if she didn’t want to be attuned to “Adenic Essence” later on, there wasn’t much that could make her stick with it.
Attunement turned out to involve nothing more than… A few moments spent envisioning a walk through the stations of a magical path with a little help from Charles. A sort of miniature sorcerers initiation, apparently enabled by some sort of specialized artifact or hearthstone that he was carrying.
It also turned out to be quite appalling. The end result was… a noticeable power-boost even for an elder Exalt. What it would mean to a youngster, godling, or mortal… It boosted your mote recovery, acted to protect you in a wide variety of ways, and boosted mere thaumatugy right up to the level of… terrestrial circle sorcery, or better. Her bondmate might be horribly naive, but at least he was applying his vast power somewhat wisely! Unless some SERIOUS downside came up, she’d be keeping that one!
The Adenic Initiation actually involved effectively being within a high-powered manse in Aden that had been specifically designed to boost thaumaturgy at all times – which also meant being effectively in Aden at all times, which provided yet another set of manse-based thaumaturgic and personal enhancements. The final result was, indeed, rather over the top.
Charles, meanwhile, was off on a different path… Would Ms Hala like her to initiate any of the kids around the place? It would probably be rude to ask, but at least some of the kids around were likely to be hers, and she might like them to have all the protections, and it would only take a minute!
Hala was a bit dubious to start – but the stuff was very nearly undetectable most of the time (a close examination with any kind of analytical essence sense would show that she was being affected by some form of exotic geomancy) – and it WOULD be a lot of extra protection for her daughter…
(Hala) “Initiate them in this?”
She thought about it for a bit. Well, the Sidereals’ Telltale Symphony might catch it…
(Hala) “Any way you can hide it? I’d rather not have the Sidereals on my back.”
(Charles) “Hmm… It shouldn’t be very noticeable… And I can always pop over and make some adjustments!”
(Hala) “Well then… it does seem to be totally beneficial… How about Liana?”
Liana was one of her non-beastman, but still Lunar Half-Caste, children. She was showing considerable talent with thaumaturgy – although nowhere near Charles’s level. She was also another one of the kids who went to Charle’s school and was over at the children’s table…
(Charles) “Hey! Want to try out a thaumaturgy booster Liana?”
(Liana) “Oh, Charles, it’s you! What are you doing at Mama’s party?”
(Charles) “Oh, I got invited for a little consulting on things! Ms (It was hard to tell with Lunars; their marriage arrangements tended to be a bit more varied than Sidereals’. “Ms” was generally safe though.) Righteous Hala might be ordering an artifact one of these days!”
Hala mostly-suppressed a knowing smile. The boy was so smooth about it that it was hard to notice even when you were looking – but that “Couple two absolutely true statements that have nothing to do with each other together and let people assume a relationship” maneuver was one of the best ways to let people deceive themselves… Eventually that was going to come unraveled of course – but by that time he’d probably be indispensable to half of Yu-Shan, have had years to build up his power – and most of his potential enemies might well be relieved to discover that he was “only” a Solar Exalt!
By Luna… He’d done it to her too! She’d gotten so involved with the “Primordial” front that she was half-forgetting that basic fact! And if there was ANYONE who should be constantly aware of his identity it was HER.
(Liana) “If Mama is okay with it, sure.”
(Charles) “OK!” (He produced a small artifact-mirror – actually just a tool for doing automatic tailoring touchups, but it was a handy prop) “Look into the mirror and concentrate on the gateway you see; it leads to a thaumaturgic initiation… Walk through, and follow the path in your mind… When you reach the peak, imagine leaving a few drops of your blood there, to remain as a link with that place of power… And done! And that should help out in several ways!”
Hala was still considering…
Another gratuitous huge power boost for her daughter… Rather like the sudden boost in her abilities she’d shown recently. Treasure horde her foot! The boy was making his own Exaltations – or at least some sort of MAJOR power-boosting artifacts – all right!
Well, OK; whatever he was doing didn’t seem to provide a new set of charms – but Liana had abruptly jumped in essence, and picked up some extra charms, and had gained quite a few other abilities – including what seemed to be some deeply-buried geomantic defenses. That didn’t normally happen to schoolchildren – much less what seemed to be the entire student body!
Still… It seemed benign enough, and it obviously didn’t trouble Charles that much… She might have to ask him for additional – well, whatever they were – for her older children some time. He certainly seemed willing to oblige!
For that matter, SHE was still trying to evaluate just how much was included in “Adenic Thaumaturgy” anyway! Honestly, a sub-effect that kept you clean and neat unless intentionally overruled? Was it just THAT obliging or had the child actually run out of more important things to put into it?
He’d certainly put in enough raw power… And Liana could still learn Lunar Charms to cover the things the thaumaturgy DIDN’T.
Plus it apparently allowed her to combine the charms without having to actually practice a combo. Even a genuine Exaltation didn’t do that!
(Hala, after shooing Liana back to the other children) “So… you wouldn’t know anything about sudden increases in thaumaturgic proficiency, Essence, and other things, would you? It’s like she’s blossomed in the past few months.”
(Charles, a bit nervously) “Uhm… Lots! One of the earliest on record was the empowerment of the Vrildatha, but they rebelled against The Empyreal Chaos and were cast into the depths of the underworld! I think they’re mostly extinct now! The Creation of the Dragon Kings was several experiments later, but it…”
(Hala, cutting short the flow of nervous erudition – even if she’d never heard of the Vrildatha; that must predate the Primordial War! Where had the boy been studying? Those “Primordial Archives” perhaps?) “Hey, I’m not asking for history. The No Moons crammed enough of that in me. Where did my daughter learn extra Charms, innate thaumaturgical powers, weapon summoning…” (She listed off a few more of the Lesser Exaltation abilities.) “I know the Hidden Twig School teaches Charms, but Liana needs training for those. And she shouldn’t be able to combine them like a spirit anyway.”
Charles wove another small privacy ward, and under it an illusion of an innocuous subject – Ah! He knew! Being quizzed about just how he knew her daughter! Parents were always into that for some reason!
(Charles) “Erm… Well, I made some booster-devices for everyone in school. I thought it would make them safer and get them better prospects!… Er… More noticeable than I thought I take it?”
Hala crossed her arms and stared rather pointedly at Charles.
(Hala) “You think? It is an advantage, though.”
(Charles) “Well, everything but the defenses was pretty minor really.”
At least they were in HIS opinion.
(Hala) “She fell off the fifth-story balcony without a scratch.”
(Charles) “Well, yes… but I could only put in the absolute defense for a few times in any given short period. A little damage will start getting through the armor component after that!”
What, he’d given a bunch of SCHOOL CHILDREN perfect defenses and he was apologetic because they were very limited use? Were ALL Solar Artificers completely insane or was it just him? Even ONE use of a perfect defense could get a mortal out of all kinds of hideous dooms! No one wanted to spend two or three major attacks taking out some fleeing mortal! Half-castes couldn’t even GET perfect defenses any other way, and he was being APOLOGETIC? His discretion left much to be desired, but his heart was in the right place!
(Hala) “Look, I appreciate it. I’m just pointing out that some things were obvious to us after a few weeks. You’re just lucky there weren’t any Sidereal Half-Castes enrolled.”
(Charles) “Well… I did get Lytek to hand them out! They’re sort of part of his domain even if they are lesser!”
Huh! That was actually a fairly clever maneuver! It neatly broke the trail back to HIM – and grilling Lytek was just not in the cards. All you could do was make an appointment and try asking politely…
(Hala) “I thought he was being a bit evasive… So… you made quasi-exaltation artifacts for all your schoolmates in your almost non-existent “spare” time?”
(Charles) “It didn’t really take very long! There really isn’t anything all that potent in the package – even the armor – but it’s just several different items, and using a factory-cathederal lets me make things in fair-sized batches.”
(Hala, sighing) “And I bet you did this because you wanted to help them out, and didn’t expect anything in return.”
(Charles, with some puzzlement) “But I’ve pretty much got everything I need… I was given a gift, so it’s only fair to give some!”
Oh, that was just too good to be true… he really DID only want to make things nicer. No wonder he was confusing everyone! It would be CENTURIES before everyone would stop digging for the hidden motives and getting more and more frantic when they couldn’t find any!
(Hala) “Nothing wrong with that. I’m just wondering what long-term effects it will have. I heard they had to upgrade the training facilities, for one.”
Oh dear. It was utterly obvious that the boy hadn’t given “consequences” or “long-term” a single second’s thought.
(Hala) “Try to think about it, okay? You’ve gotten away with things because the Sidereals have been busy, but they’ve assigned people to investigate you now. I’m not sure how that’s going to pan out-I thought they couldn’t be stretched much further-but they’re watching you now.”
(Charles) “Well… for the most part that’s all right! If they want to watch me fix things it won’t make a lot of difference – and a lot of things I can delegate now. And if they want me to make some things I have all the current order backlog cleared out except the silly plastic boat that sails on a layer of bubbles over land and sea…”
(Hala) “I don’t know what’s up with that one. It smells like a test to me.”
(Charles) “Well, it seemed sort of frivolous… but if it’s really important I guess I could do it!”
(Hala) “If they think you’re a Primordial anyway, it’s within one’s abilities.”
Now THERE was an amusing thought! The Primordial of Bubble Baths?
(Charles) “Oh well! I suppose so then!”
(Hala) “All right then! I’d better get back to the rest of my guests, and you definitely have things on your plate. You’re welcome to stick around if you want, though.”
(Charles) “For a little bit I think! And thank you for inviting me, I’m sorry if I upset you; I didn’t think that most of the parents would worry about sudden coursework improvements!”
(Hala) “Well… I think we were more worried about what was providing them, though Lytek reassured a lot of us. I just thought the ‘treasure horde’ story was a bit fishy… And you’re welcome!”
(Charles) “Well… I did find a really big treasure horde! It was just that I’d put it there a few days before…”
Charles wandered the party a bit. There weren’t any more fellow students; Hala apparently kept her kids well spaced out. The kids table was the most fun though! Elsewhere it was a fairly typical Yu-Shan party; a bunch of gods and supernatural beings drinking tea, concealing their own motives, and trying to get information or favors from the other guests – but at the Kids table Liana was quietly demonstrating her new abilities, to much mutual delight!
OK, there was some jealousy too, but they weren’t going to pick too hard at the powerful kid.
She was running through a quick flurry of illusions. It was pretty obvious that she’d gone for the three Lunar advanced thaumaturgy Charms.
Charles applauded happily! It was nice to see it working well!
(Liana) “Thanks, Charles! I can make real good images now!”
(Charles) “You’re welcome! I’m glad I could show you something there!”
Hala had sternly cautioned her not to tell anyone about exactly what had happened there – but Liana now had her own theory; Charles’s divine parent had to be somebody REALLY powerful. Somebody who was extraordinarily benign, and protective, and had vast resources, and who was willing to allow a mere god-blooded child access to servants and manses and artifacts and help with thaumaturgy and sorcery and clues to primordial treasure hordes and who was important enough that Lytek would pay attention to his or her offspring – and who, despite all that, would have his kid raised to be humble and helpful! Someone who had passed on unfailing kindness and benevolence to go with extraordinary power…
There weren’t many candidates for that! In fact, as far as she knew, in all Yu-Shan, there was only… one.
In the long absence of the Exalted, history had been made, and tales had grown, of mortal heroes who inspired and led. In the absence of the living weapons of the primordial war, had Children of the Sun been sent in peace? There weren’t very many children at the school who’s parents were totally unknown!
Meanwhile, Hala had just discovered something about Adenic Thaumaturgy…
Wait a minute! It prevented aging? Was she going to be stuck with Peter Pan for a bondmate? Perpetual childhood was NOT a reasonable idea! Hopefully it just slowed it for kids, rather than stopping it entirely!
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice Session XXXVIII – Out of the Umbra (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice Session XXXIX – Gates of the Third Circle (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice XXXVII – Investigating Charles Mansen (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- [Emergence Campaign] The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice — Higher Souls (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice Part XXX – And No, That Doesn’t Mean What You’re Thinking Out There! (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice Part XXVII – Hints and Allegations (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- [Emergence Campaign] The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice Part XXIX — Deva Cutter and the Bronze (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Exalted – The Winding Way (Sidereal Manse **** or any Manse *****) (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice XXXIII – City and Soul (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Exalted: Aden, the World-Body (ruscumag.wordpress.com)