Back in Yu-Shan – and out on the cosmic frontiers – several of Righteous Hala’s Lunar friends had deduced from the questions she’d been asking about Solars that she had at long last once again encountered her Solar Bondmate – and that he or she was probably a shaping expert and perhaps an artificer.
That had stirred some real interest! According to the ancient tales, the Solars were the natural counterparts to the Lunar Exalted – and had been builders, organizers, and masters of chaos par excellence. That kind of support… would be awfully handy to have. Just as the Sidereals tended to incarnate relatively close to Earth – normally at least within the Milky Way Galaxy – Lunars often incarnated in the Empirical Galaxy, where mighty suns hung burning through a fog of chaos over the ever-shifting twilight reaches of Rakshastan.
Much of Creation was thinly-shaped at best. Gaia had not been able to maintain consistency across unimaginable reaches of space and time. She had called the lightspeed barrier of relativity into existence to slow the advance of the Wyld without truly understanding what she was invoking; not even the many minds of a Primordial could truly handle the new scale of creation. (The new physics had had many unexpected consequences, even if there were ways around it – but the “barrier” had failed in any case; the Wyld had not been advancing at anywhere near that speed to begin with).
Guardians were still needed.
The geometry of Creation these days is a bit odd, albeit not as exotic as many current human cosmological theories speculate. At the end of the second age, as the true Wyld poured in across the borderlands and the predators of legend devoured the foundations of the world, Gaia reshaped a thin shell of the onrushing wave of chaos into a near-infinite reach of space, filled with suns and worlds – often modeled on tiny fragments of creation that had been overrun, but not yet totally annihilated.
From the outside Creation is a sphere, approximately 24,000 miles across – large, but a mere bauble afloat in near-infinite chaos. A trip all the way around covers about 75,000 miles.
A trip to the center covers some ten to the one-hundredth power light years – and creations maximum circumference occurs halfway to the center. You could envision that as two cones, with their bases glued together; at one end there’s earth – and at the other, the Wyld. Now, think of an assembly of such double-cones with the earth at the center – a shape like a sphere covered with spikes.
Except that the spikes get smaller without separating, until they finally come together in a tiny sphere – creations border with the wyld.
That, of course is another planet – Rakshastan, the realm of chaos. Depending on how you look at it Rakshastan is either a fairly normal world, a wall of chaos that surrounds the cosmos with it’s skies full of the blazing suns of the Empirical Galaxy, a string of defensive manses and border territories held by an odd assortment of Bestial Races, Lunar Exalted Guardians, ancient colonies of Terrestrial Exalts, and random oddities, a heavily-defended ringworld with creation on one edge and a boundless sea of chaos on the other, the most chaotic world in an ultimately-distant galaxy that has been infiltrated by tendrils of wyld energies erupting from it’s central point, or the stronghold of the Raksha. It is the Borderlands of the Wyld. It can be all those things at once, and many more.
Humanity – or at least Earth – may never see Rakshastan. The Observable Universe is only about forty billion light years across – and the halfway point where things start getting a little odd is somewhat more than ten to the ninety-ninth power times further away than that.
Fortunately for adventures among the Fey, gates pay little attention to mere distance – but are hard to target. Going to the edge of creation is easy. Coming back again is a great deal harder…
For the moment, she’d simply told them that her mate was in Yu Shan – like several other Solars – and hiding. It wasn’t even really a lie even if he WAS hiding by being totally blatant – a method with quite a few potential downfalls even if it was hysterically funny… Did the boy do EVERYTHING backwards?
Still, they were pushing towards her at least putting them in touch with her bondmate; the supplies he’d provided on a casual basis had been quite useful; what might be be capable of if he were fully committed to their cause?
Charles, meanwhile, was taking advantage of his various “Souls” to undertake a great many projects at once.
All of the silly Sidereals needed rescuing! From themselves! They put on decent, if tired, faces most of the time – but when they got slammed they all tried to do far too much – a fact which they seemed to be incapable of admitting! Instead they just hit the Celestial Coffee until THAT no longer worked, and then they went on to the Celestial Uppers, and when they no longer worked it was on to the still-harder stuff – until the poor now-elder Sidereal had to start snorting Celestial Cocaine! They mostly only got to sleep during extrasolar Mirror Shattering Method trips! When being a natural insomniacs was considered a blessing something was REALLY wrong!
That was why some Sidereals told their children that it was a good thing there were only a hundred Sidereal Exaltations and that they had a whole universe to search in. The Sidereals might be arrogant and short-sighted, but as it stood they hardly had any lives at all – and that was just WRONG.
Hm… The Stargate Project would save them a BUNCH of time. He definitely needed to get in some more work in it! Putting more gods back to work should help them too! It might even let them spend some time with their kids!
He’d have to come up with something for the paperwork disposal too… It seemed important. Even the bureaucratic gods admitted that much… supposedly certain elements of the Celestial Bureaucracy had tried – but their proposals tended to get hung up in committee.
Oh well! That was why he was fond of unilateralism! There had to be SOME way to do it… If he could come up with some kind of device that did it, perhaps he could just present it to the Bureau of Heaven? The trouble was, you didn’t want to throw out the useful stuff along with the masses of useless rubbish – although, to be fair, if it hadn’t been needed in millennia, it probably was effectively useless rubbish anyway… Maybe he could just shunt the entire mess into a black hole? Most of it was effectively in one already; no one EVER actually looked at it! Maybe a god of paperwork could be persuaded to help out? OK, there would be less paperwork overall – but there would be a lot more attention paid to what was left! The stacks would become places to do research rather than landfill!
Meanwhile, down at the foot of the Orrery Mount, the soup kitchen – and a series of urban renewal projects – were moving into gear… The abandoned region had mostly been industrial in the first age – which was why it had been hit so hard by the chain reaction of collapses. There were a lot of abandoned factories around (with the requisite unemployed gods and desperate and/or rebellious mortals camping out in them). There were some small residential and commercial blocks in the area, though – run down, but somewhere to begin…
Wards and some support were basic – but thaumaturgy and crafting lessons, with help in getting workshops set up and going, were first up; small-scale artificing could – to a large extent – build comfort and prosperity directly, and was always needed when you started looking for outside sales… He had plenty of teachers, and could use somewhere to unload some of the really minor item-making tasks anyway! And the payments for that would bring some hard cash into the area!
Fortunately, his Prayerstone – combined with his gradually-enlarging Cult – gave him an effective salary large enough to pay for quite a few projects, even as an anonymous benefactor. A bit of a local economic jump-start shouldn’t be TOO difficult!
Until more gods were back to work there might be a customer shortage – but it should still work, especially once he got more gods back to work. They’d all need millennia worth of stuff, and a few open-but-underused workshops would be perfectly posed to take advantage of the new market!
Charles quietly used his own crafting abilities to construct suitable facilities alongside the kitchen. The Sidereals were observing of course, but the only ones likely to be concerned about it were the Bronze – since Charles was now showing signs of either support or competition. They hoped it was support; the previous signs pointed that way.
Hm… damaged manses, damaged gates, failing canals, and lower levels of prayer flowing into Yu-Shan. Did the power-inflow from the gates and prayer help fuel the energies of Yu-Shan? All that power had to go SOMEWHERE after it flowed into the city! Come to think of it, there had to be a place it flowed out again somewhere… Perhaps to power the Daystar or some such?
Another reason to get some more power sources hooked in! The interstellar ley lines weren’t much use – stretched too thin and running far too fast – but once he had some worlds full of extinct species and semi-reproduced old landmarks and features set up, they’d have to be hooked to Yu-Shan with appropriate manse-gates anyway…
Starlight Paths Manse (Sidereal Manse *****)
A Starlight Path is a manse dedicated to a single, simple, purpose; they are gateways between Yu-Shan and some distant world of creation – but they are gateways for immaterial structures of essence only. Still, that means that the dragon lines of the destination world can be linked into the geomancy of Yu-Shan in the usual recirculating and amplifying loop, that prayers from that world may flow into Yu-Shan, and that any entity capable of dematerializing or otherwise entering a sanctum can use them – provided they can pass the guardians.
By default, a Starlight Paths manse is a simple, freestanding, black marble monolith – quite intentionally reminiscent of the one in “2001; A Space Odyssey” – but their Thematic Matching power means that that is rarely seen; they usually blend into the local environment.
Available Creation Points of 10 (Level Five Manse base) +5 (Hearthstone 0) +2 (Minimally Habitable, although some people could camp in the gateway corridor) = 17 Creation Points.
Guardian Force (4): A gate into Yu-Shan requires guardians – and opening them will cause a certain amount of disruption anyway. Moreover, Yu-Shan is desperately short of guardians and law-enforcement now. Ergo, each Starlight Path is capable of empowering some six hundred and fifty mortals – turning them into more Celestial Lions (who were originally empowered mortals anyway). Each gate thus comes with it’s own guardians AND with enough Celestial Lions to help straighten out the area around it.
Otherworld Gate (Yu-Shan), Limited/only transmits immaterial essence-patterns, and so requires the use of appropriate charms, magics, or thaumaturgy (4-1 = 3). As a permanently-active gate, this will allow the dragon-lines and prayers to flow into Yu-Shan – helping to reinvigorate the place. It also means that the physical gates on the Yu-Shan end, where immaterial and material creatures are indistinguishable, can be readily closed to keep things out.
Wyld Revocation/Independent of External Geomancy (4-1 = 3). Once the gates are full formed, they, and the manse that generates them, are sustained by the interstellar flows of essence. They no longer require external geomancy and are unaffected by geomantic sabotague or by changes in the demesne.
Indestructible (5). Once in operation, a Starlight Path is sustained by it’s own internal essence-flows, and is indestructible.
Network Node (1): The Starlight Paths are all linked together, and can pass information back and forth between themselves. This includes allowing easy communications between their guardians.
Magical Conveniences (1). A Starlight Path Manse provides:
- Surveillance of the immediate area around the gate on the planetary side, complete with environmental information. No one who passes through the gates from Yu-Shan need be unprepared for what awaits.
- Built-in locks and bars on the gates on the Yu-Shan side. Thanks to the indestructibility of the structure, no amount of damage can force the gates.
- Automatic Doors: The gates can be activated and deactivated, or slightly modified, as per the usual gates of Yu-Shan.
- Information Services: The Starlight Paths provide links into the communications networks of Yu-Shan, allowing the transmission of alarms, easy access to emergency services, and centralized monitoring of who and what passes through them.
- Thematic Matching: The appearance of the planetary side of the gateway will automatically blend in with it’s surroundings; if in a forest, it may appear as a natural arch of trees, in an art gallery it may appear as a mural, in a ruin it may appear as an old carving of a gate, and so on.
Charles fully intends to install upgrading artifacts if there’s time – providing an additional nine manse construction points to work with. Those will add Geomantic Relays (5), Greater Sanctums (effectively adding in an apartment complex of personal level three sanctums for the staff, 3), and an additional set of Magical Conveniences (1) – also for the staff.
As his third-circle Guardians terraform barren worlds and populate them with appropriate plants and animals (including a wide variety of currently-extinct species), Charles will be placing a Starlight Path Manse at some convenient location on each one. When they’re activated, their gates will appear in Yu-Shan – “emerging from the walls of heaven” near the existing gates around the perimeter of Yu-Shan and opening up for business. He’s planning to get a fair number ready before opening up any of them; that way the new energy flows won’t be imbalanced, there will have been time to recruit some new Celestial Lions (although lots of spots will still be open), and the various extinct species – and places resembling (and named after) landscapes long gone – will be there to restore the domains of many currently out-of-work celestial gods. There won’t be many people on each new world yet – but humans are generally willing to spread into new territories. Fortunately, such planets come with Terrestrial Gods – but, without a direct link to Yu-Shan during their creation, not Celestial Ones.
There will need to be some earthly gates opened as well, but a fairly similar design will do for that.
As far as transport goes, these aren’t as good as the Stargate Project. After all, they only allow for a single destination. On the other hand, they’re permanent, well-defended, and should be a big help in reinvigorating Yu-Shan. They’ll also provide some really good jobs for thousands of Celestial Mortals – and give them the power (and an obligation and motive) to help the people who were down-and-out in Yu-Shan
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