The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice XLI – The Boy Scouts of Siderea

Charles I

All right, now either that's a really good disguise or you've brought me the WRONG CHARLES... Sower-Of-Burning-Tears, God of Acid Rain

Since Adenic Thaumaturgy was working well, Charles promptly initiated his thaumaturgical students down in Atlanta. They could use the extra power and protections just as much (or more, given their lack of alternatives) as any god-blood, spirit, or exalt! Ixiah liked it too, and there were LOTS of his manse-guardians to initiate, even if most of them could make the trip to the Winding Way Manse and get initiated without his help!

Given the affinity of an Adenic-aspected manse for magical conveniences, this version of the Winding Way Manse includes another helping of Advanced Magical Conveniences:

  • Residents are impervious to messiness; their clothing, hair, and persons are always neat, clean, and well-repaired unless they wish it otherwise.
  • Residents my generate minor lightshow effects at will, producing sparks, tiny flames, glowing lights, and even small obvious images at will within a radius of twenty feet or so.
  • The effect of the Initiation is quite subtle: A close examination with analytical essence senses will reveal that the user is linked to some exotic geomancy, but otherwise it doesn’t show up any more than a collection of talismans would.
  • Residents have access to a virtual laptop, linked to the Aden network (unless blocked by a network administrator), at all times. There are many MANY educational programs available.
  • Residents electrical gadgets work without power supplies, and have Aden network access (unless blocked by a system administrator), anywhere.

Yes, Charles was actually running out of ideas for thaumaturgy-boosting effects there. Given that the initiation provides continuous access to the manse powers of Life-Sustaining (upgraded to the five-dot level), Augmented Thaumaturgy (Wyld Revocation), many Advanced Magical Conveniences (mostly augmenting Thaumaturgy), Bilocation (Wyld Revocation, allowing them to invest part of their life force in the manse, and so be “inside it” – and inside of Aden as well – at all times), and Immunity to Biological Needs (which also enhances the residents health levels somewhat – Wyld Revocation again), that’s probably quite understandable. Twenty-five points worth of manse powers dedicated to a particular goal can be quite effective.

Meanwhile, Mr Montague was considering a second visit… Certainly there was good reason to be nervous about dropping by to talk to a Primordial – even the most benign Primordials had sometimes made horrible mistakes – but he was really curious about the Elsewhere Net – and about that “helping thaumaturgy” bit.

Back at school, several sidereal half-caste children had been hurriedly transferred in – along with some extra funding to help handle the new expenses and some special security… The Sidereals weren’t exactly trusted by the gods, but they weren’t people you angered unnecessarily either.

This time around they were finding the non-half-caste competition pretty rough. Fortunately, being Sidereal Half-Castes gave them a good deal of protection against mistreatment. The Endings kids in particular got treated carefully; Sidereal Bureaucracy could make gods’ lives hell.

Most of them were still in a bit of shock though. They hadn’t all been briefed on WHY – but the ones who had been hadn’t generally reacted well (which had prompted most of the rest of the parents to wait a few days).

(Child) “You’re asking me to change schools to… go to school with a PRIMORDIAL!?!? Why do you want me horribly dead?! Or MUCH worse than dead?!?!””

(Sidereal Parent) “Consider this training for when you join the Bureau…”

(Sobbing Child) “But I’m only eight!”

That general reaction hadn’t been universal – but it was definitely typical among the ones who’d been told (or had managed to overhear) what was up.

At school there was much ducking away from Charles – who found that rather upsetting, and kept trying to pop up suddenly to find out what was scaring them. This did not help.

One little Endings boy in seemed particularly frightened. He didn’t want to leave the side of the god who’d bought him to school – but the god resorted to using some (gentle) telekinesis to deposit the child firmly in his seat before disappearing.

Charles promptly popped up to him after class, and put up a tiny privacy ward…

(Charles) “What’s wrong? It’s just a new school! It’s all right!”

The boy shied away.

(Charles) “What’s wrong?”

(Boy) “I’m scared…”

(Charles) “Why? There’s no need to be scared! It’s just math class!”

(Boy, looking down at the floor.) “You’re… not going to do anything funny, are you?”

(Charles, somewhat bemusedly) “What, send for clowns or something? I could hire some I suppose…”

(Boy) “No! Don’t!” (He blushed) “I… I’m Harold.”

(Charles) “And I’m Charles!”

(Harold) “N-nice to meet you.”

He still seemed a bit nervous, but at least he wasn’t that near-white shade anymore.

(Charles) “School is nice and safe! At your age even the combat classes are strictly nerf! And it’s nice to meet you too!”

(Harold) “Um… are you in the class with Sindri?”

(Charles) “Yep! He keeps smacking me when I’m not looking though!”

(Harold, looking a bit nervous again) “Does he hit… hard?”

(Charles) “Oh! Not very! He’s pretty careful… Tell you what! (he rummaged in his pack and pull out a sash) Wear this! It should help a lot!”

Harold took it with some trepidation – but he put it on.

(Charles, cheerfully) “It includes a function inventory to make it easy to use!”

(Harold) “Oh! Thank you.”

(Charles) “You’re welcome!”

(Harold) “I’d better hurry to my next class… oh yeah. Are you in the evasion club?”

(Charles) “Yup!”

(Harold) “I’ll try to be at the next meeting, then.”

(Charles) “It is good fun!”

Were the Sidereals sending in their kids to try and keep an eye on him? That seemed a bit ruthless, even if they WERE pretty sure that he was safe to be around – and HE wasn’t entirely sure himself! Moreover, some of them seemed to just be new-school nervous and others seemed to be especially nervous about HIM. Had they given them all different briefings? Somehow that notion seemed… very Sidereal.

Harold went off to his next class – although no one else in the hall seemed to be taking notice of him. Well, he was obviously shy, and doubtless had some sneaky charms! That was one way to avoid being called on too much!

Charles’s next class was herbalism, where the curriculum had moved on to antidotes – and, what with the remarkable performances of the students, some of the poisons had become fairly exotic.

Charles was quite pleased by that. Antidotes were valuable information!

Some of the other kids preferred listening to the poisons’ rather lurid effects, but Charles considered that part more than a little icky. He was glad he didn’t allow poisons in Aden!

(Mailian, the instructor) “Today’s poison sample is Inverted Grin Death, so called because it twists the victim’s lips even as it shuts down his or her central nervous system. As usual, we are giving you a simulated sample for this exercise. Your materials are at the tables.”

Siranaya (the poison flower goddess’s daughter) was one of the most in-demand partners for these exercises. She’d gotten a lot better with her poison touch since Lytek had given her that “Lesser Exaltation”!

Hm! Hopefully the Sidereals hadn’t arranged to have someone actually poisoned so as to test what he’d do! Jun would never condone anything as nasty as poisoning people, and so normally they just tested and compounded antidotes for simulated poisons – but you never knew! And his medical skills were better these days – but just Mortal-Better, not Exalted-Better!

The Sidereals did something like that in the Bureau’s academies, although the mortals in question were well-paid for their trouble.

While the Sidereal Half-Castes had been patiently analyzing the school social scene, Siranaya still preferred to work with Charles at times… He might not be as good at sorting out how to make an antidote, but his analytical thaumaturgy was better than anyone else’s in the class!

Charles didn’t mind that at all! Siranaya was kind of fun to work with!

Still, she promised to work with the cute Serenity boy she had been talking with the next time.

Charles, of course, refrained from “cheating” in any way save for the general boosts everyone else was using and his heightened abilities – as usual. Those were, however, quite enough to get through the exercise, although getting the right mix of herbs and chemicals was becoming trickier and trickier.

Charles noted that – and spent some time on small talk, general comments, and queries as to how Siranaya was doing…

She, like most of the other students, had put together rumors of treasure hordes, the fact that Charles seemed to have all the artifacts he liked, and THEM being picked to get Lesser Exaltations together quickly enough – and her boosted powers made handling her food much easier! Charles had been very (well, quite absurdly) nice to her!

Charles was pleased to hear that she was doing well! And to see that most of the people around the school weren’t making wild assumptions! Exalts were few and far between at school!

Next up was Charles’s least favorite class – combat. What was worse was that everyone else had improved faster than he had!

Sindri was glad to see Charles, as usual. Harold was with him.

(Charles) “Allo!”

(Sindri) “Ah, good to see you as always, Charles. I was wondering if you could spar with Harold today.”

Harold was… holding his staff white-knuckle tight. He didn’t look like he had any training at all!

(Harold) “Do I have to?”

(Sindri) “The instructions were rather insistent… and they say I am to watch for something called “Underling Invisibility Practice,” as well.”

(Charles) “Uhm… Well, I’m not sure I’d be good at teaching! I tend to get distracted and trip and things! If you say so though…”

Besides… it looked like someone had noticed that mental influence didn’t affect him… Oh wait! They knew that from the Deva Cutter mess… Evidently SOMEONE was pretty good at putting pieces together!

Charles was VERY gentle with the boy – although Harold was… a lot better than he thought he was. His nervousness did affect his technique, but he did have all the basics down – in skill terms, at least as good as Charles was. He didn’t have as many physical boosts, but he wasn’t at all bad! Good for him!

They rested after a bit…

(Charles) “You’re way better than I was at your age! You’re going to be good at this stuff!”

(Harold) “I’ll never be as good as my big sister… not now.”

(Charles) “Why not?”

(Harold) “Uh… um…” (He looked just as nervous as he did when Charles had first noticed him.) “I’ll tell you later.”

(Charles) “OK!”

(Harold) “But maybe we can visit each other some time. Not now though . . . when we know each other better… Would that be OK?”

(Charles) “Why not? Visitors are always nice!”

Harold looked unusually happy – and Charles gots the feeling that that didn’t happen too often.

(Harold) “Would you keep the armor for me?”

(Charles) “OK! Don’t need it at home?”

(Harold) “It won’t be mine anymore if I bring it home.”

(Charles) “That’s no fair at all! Why not?”

(Harold) “Uh… um… I’d rather not say.”

(Charles) “I’ll keep it for you!”

Hm! He’d have to get the kid something that no one could take away!

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6 Responses

  1. Looks like word may be starting to get out about Aden. I wonder how good sidereal half-castes are at keeping secrets? Anyways, now that there are some ears listening, a good phrase for Charles to drop while one of the half-castes are listening in would be “I wouldn’t want to cause any disruptions.” Any of his other classmates wouldn’t think twice about such a statement, but a sidereal might take it to be a reference to The Loom. A statement that could be construed to be about keeping the Loom untangled could get some respect and/or appreciation from the Bureau.

    • It’s about time really. Managing to remain secret much longer would have made things rather dull…

      I think Charles was rather hoping that the Sidereals would draw that general conclusion from his rescue project – and it’s careful tailoring to avoid creating disturbances. Still, given how tired the Sidereals are in this setting, it may well be worth pointing up directly.

      That is one reason for the thaumaturgic specialty though; it’s about the only available branch of magic that’s “gentle” enough to avoid disrupting things.

  2. […] XLI – The Boy Scouts of Siderea: The Upgraded Winding Way Manse, New Sidereal Half-Caste Schoolmates. […]

  3. […] XLI – The Boy Scouts of Siderea: The Upgraded Winding Way Manse, New Sidereal Half-Caste Schoolmates. […]

  4. […] Summary of Adenic Thaumaturgy (scroll down): The upgraded powers of Charles’s advanced thaumaturgical initiation, with links to the basic Winding Way Manse effects and being Inside Aden). […]

  5. […] Summary of Adenic Thaumaturgy (scroll down): The upgraded powers of Charles’s advanced thaumaturgical initiation, with links to the basic Winding Way Manse effects and being Inside Aden). […]

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