Charles considered Harold for a moment… Poor kid! Either he was bait or his family was being really mean to him for some reason! Of course, Sidereals could get awfully weird about parenting after a few centuries. After four or five hundred years the often started parenting like gods. While it was quite true that – by then – their descendants could often fill an apartment complex or two, and they WERE absurdly stressed, that was really no excuse!
Could they possibly be hoping that he’d turn the child into an “Akuma of Aden” so that they could analyze him? Oh surely not! Considering what becoming a “classical” Akuma did to you, even for overstressed elder Sidereals that would take a very “special” parent indeed! Still… at least a part of it was doubtless to see if the poor child suddenly acquired an handy booster “artifact” that could NOT be taken away. Of course, that wouldn’t tell them much; his “treasure horde” has supposedly included even more “lesser exaltations” – in his share alone – than had been passed out.
Either way, getting him a good artifact or two could be done pretty easily!
Although it would be best to take yet another unexpected direction about it… After all, even the nicest Sidereals could be really ruthless, were willing to sacrifice a LOT for “duty”, and usually had multiple layers of motives. There were reasons why no one trusted them! The renewal of the Mask had NOT been kind…
Speaking of masks… It was about time to adjust the shapeshift! He was past fourteen now, and was still looking eleven… Up to about twelve perhaps? Being a bit young-seeming was a part of his shtick now after all… Maybe they’d decide he was the Primordial of Childish Idealism! That would be fun!
It was also time to let some of his third-circle souls start doing some good deeds around he earth… Mishinago could start! He could tweak the earth’s atmosphere back into an appropriate balance, and clean some of the pollution out of the worst rivers while Elzeard did some reforestation and started quietly getting some of the ecosystems back on track…
That would probably annoy the pollution gods – but when things were REALLY polluted people mostly stopped noticing and sort of gave up, people would always be making more, and (once it became apparent that the stuff was spontaneously clearing up) it would soon result in all the anti-pollution laws getting gutted… It was hard to say whether doing some cleaning-up would be good or bad for the pollution gods in the long run – especially since their power relied more on the importance of the topic than on actual physical manifestations.
A good thing he could handle multiple topics at once though! Harold was still talking – and it seemed like either something really odd was going on at home or that he’d been carefully set up to appeal to him – and to see if he promptly gave him a “lesser exaltation” that couldn’t be taken away. Of course, given the hidden treasure horde explanation, and the numbers, all that would prove would be that he did, indeed, still have some spares…
He’d have to try to look into that a bit! A direct mind probe would be kind of rude, but why bother resorting to that kind of nonsense when he could simply ask the child directly?
(Charles) “Isn’t that awfully mean? Why would they do that? Especially if it was a present for you!”
(Harold) “We… we’re low on armor right now. If it was a toy, maybe…”
He perked up and started rustling through his bag – and pulled out a stuffed lion dog (the Celestial equivalent of the teddy bear.
(Harold) “Maybe you could enchant my lion dog instead? (To the dog) Wouldn’t that be nice, Shenji?”
(Charles) “Would that be better, or would permanent-just-for-you be better?”
(Harold) “Um… I’m not sure what Papa would think about that. What do you mean by ‘just-for-me?’ If you could make Shenji help my little brothers and sisters somehow, that would be great!”
(Charles) “Oh well! I’ve got some stuff that works like the Lunar Tattoo Artifacts! Trouble is, once you put that on, you can shift the tattoo around and change what it looks like, but you’ve always got a tattoo somewhere!”
(Harold) “Neat! Um… does it take long to put on?”
(Charles) “About a minute!”
(Harold) “Okay… will it help out everyone else too?”
(Charles) “I’ll put that one on Shenji! But… I don’t have anything like that in my bag, so it will take a day or so!”
After all, the child couldn’t be expecting instant artificing unless he knew what was going on.
(Harold) “Okay… be really, REALLY careful with him!”
(Charles) “I’ll make VERY sure he’s safe!”
Still… for Harold, the upgraded version of the Commando Armor – throwing in some of the Behemoth Cloak functions to help out; he should enjoy the shapeshifting one… It would reduce his essence pool by a couple of motes, but it should be well worth it!
OK, it would take a bit of tweaking to transform the stuff into a tattoo, but he’d found a lot of different ways of tweaking things now… A central enchantment to help out a bunch of kids would take a little thought though!
(Charles) “Er, Harold? What kind of help do your brothers and sisters need?”
(Harold) “I want to keep the bad gods from eating them.”
Er… yes, that explained the caution, and the armor shortage, and some other bits. He had the servants at the Orrery check. Had the “bad gods” actually gotten any of Harold’s siblings, or were they just menaces?
Ah; once they’d nearly gotten to the Manse itself. All the kids knew that they’d very nearly gotten eaten – and the mere thought was making Harold clutch Shenji close to him….
OK then! What they mostly needed were more wards! That meant… A link to Aden for working magic over from that end (he could assign a couple of Coatls to monitoring; they were pretty good at thaumaturgy to begin with and had all gotten their Adenic Initiations to help out with that!), making it generate a big ward against deiphagic gods, have it show the kids how they could call for help in an emergency, no attunement cost, an indestructible artifact designed to return to him… Oh, and set it up so it could be possessed by a genuine lion-dog when he found one to take the job; if “killed” that way it would simply return to indestructible stuffed-animal form for a later return… That should be a big help in keeping them save – and remove some strain from the reclaimed territory’s security, to boot.
That was minor enough to finish up quite quickly! And Harold was very appreciative of that.
(Charles) “And if your siblings need some armor I may be able to find some for them too!”
(Harold) “Okay! I’ll let you know.”
(Charles) “OK! You have a nice time!
By that time the god who had dropped him off had come to pick him up – and seemed pretty surprised by how cheery he was now.
At home there was much fidgeting… Even the basic check revealed that Harold had suddenly acquired rather a lot of protective magic and enhancements – enough so that even a preliminary analysis took some time.
The (far lesser) enchantments on Shenji got overlooked entirely in the excitement.
(Harold’s Father, with a good deal of incredulity) “And he did this because you were afraid of getting hit in weapons class?!?!?!?!”
(Harold) “Yes, Papa… Er… Does this mean I have to be in the more advanced classes?”
(Harold’s Father) “Do you really think you’d find the basic ones challenging at all any more?”
(Harold) “Uh… n-no.”
(Harold’s Father, sighing) “If it’s any comfort son… Any blunt-weapon hit on you now will heal up within a couple of minutes even if it gets through.”
That made Harold feel better because at least he wouldn’t be hurt for extended periods. His father, on the other hand, felt better because now he might not try to get out of martial arts training! Even if his skill had suddenly jumped drastically… That really was impressive. He’d have to invite Charles over (however weird it would be to be inviting over someone who was seeming more and more like he really WAS some kind of primordial) for a meeting… Hopefully Charles would not be too offended that he’d had his son out scouting.
The boy needed more friends anyway!
Still… that was going to have to wait a bit. If he was going to be hosting a Primordial, he needed to be sure the territory was secured against deiphages. Not only would it look bad if they broke through, who knew what Charles would consider it reasonable to do to help secure the defenses?
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice XLI – The Boy Scouts of Siderea (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice Session XL – Small Gods and Sandwiches (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice XXXI – The Bicyclist of the Unpocalypse (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice XXXVII – Investigating Charles Mansen (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Exalted – Gothmug, Aden’s Second Soul (ruscumag.wordpress.com)