With some of his Guardian “Souls” busily transforming barren lumps of airless rock into fertile, burgeoning, planets filled with assorted species of plants and animals (many of them otherwise extinct), and secondary “souls” working on constructing artifacts, manse seeds, and the Starlight Paths manses which would link those worlds to Yu-Shan (and also pour additional power into Charles’s geomantic network), Charles himself got to work on keeping attention focused on his doings in Yu-Shan. The Sidereals couldn’t possible monitor all his activities – the fact that his Guardians could be in three places at once guaranteed that since there weren’t enough Sidereals available at any one time to keep up with them all – and that meant that, for the moment, they could work quietly on Earth and on extrasolar worlds!
Hm… when it came to hooking up new planets to Yu-Shan It would have to be at least four at once to keep the energy-flows balanced – and a multiple of four would be better. Fortunately they didn’t actually take very long to set up; once you poured in enough geomancy to work thaumaturgy on a planetary scale, landscaping a barren chunk of rock with no one around to object was actually pretty simple… When you came right down to it, it was mostly the same set of spells that a normal thaumaturge would use in their kitchen garden or to bless their fields.
That would call up a lot of least gods of course, but most of the larger ones were created or appointed through Yu-Shan or though the beliefs of mortal races. After all, when you came right down to it, landscape features naturally blended into each other; water-bearing strata into springs, springs into creeks, creeks into streams, streams into rivers, rivers into seas… “Features” of the landscape were in the eye of the beholder. Until humans arrived, or more powerful gods too positions and thus defined prominent, unique, features of the landscape as something separate, the worlds would run smoothly without any higher-ranking gods.
Which should leave plenty of room to put most of Yu-Shan back to work! There would even be spots opening up for Celestial Planetary Gods – which would be prime appointments, at least after some mortals moved in… The bureaucracy COULD appoint Celestial gods for planets – but the procedures took centuries, and first you had to prove there was a need for the position. Most of the current planet gods were in their positions thanks to Sidereal and Lunar involvement.
OK, it might take quite some time to straighten out the bureaucratic mess, but once the various gods had their portfolios back it would be a big step forward – too much for anyone to have any hope of blocking in the long run. Who would bother anyway? Those positions would NEED to be filled!
Word would get out on that fairly quickly of course; the least gods of the plants and animals, of the soil and sea, and of the air, would all cheerily provide the information that they were only a few weeks or months old, and that before them there had simply been stone… The gods of the stones could speak of the transformation, and point to it’s source, and the stony witnesses there who had seen it happen. For those with ways to see it, there would be traces of the spells – and of the Adenic Essence which had bound other types of essence together into a unified whole to power them.
Once a major search was underway, it would not take long for things to be traced to Charles – and then requests for more planets would come in, as there were many unemployed gods – and not a few who sought advancement.
Still, that was more-or-less the intent! The universe was going to be full of life; that was one of the things it was best at!
Eventually, of course, there would be requests from specialty gods for non-carbon-based, or outright magical, creatures. They’d take Carbon in a pinch – they were pretty desperate – but as long as he was recreating things, some of the species that had lived in the borderlands of the Wyld would be nice!
Hm… Fulfilling those requests would require engineering some genuinely vast demesnes, or finding suitable worlds on the edge of creation. That would be harder – and it would put an open gate to Yu-Shan, and the core of creation, within fairly easy reach of the Wyld and its danger zones. That might have to be a “maybe later” – unless he could find some places where the rules were a little different, or where there were some really BIG natural demesnes…
Well, Creation was certainly big enough that there might be – almost certainly were – some such places. But how could he…
Wait! The Loom continued to report major foul-ups from across creation – so it must at least loosely cover it. Ergo, the Efficient Secretary Technique from the Orrery should be able to pull that information out of it!
Well, presuming that fate wasn’t too weak in such areas, and that things like that weren’t innately or actively concealed, and that nothing went wrong. Of course, given the scale of the search that required, that might take awhile even with magic. – but there was absolutely no reason not to give it a try!
The exotic-life divinities would be a bit disappointed with “wait and see” – but they’d already noted that – with Charles – that usually meant “I’ll think of something shortly”. They’d stick around…
Over at the soup kitchen quite a few people – both gods and mortals – were sticking around. The food was good, the place was comfortable (and extraordinarily well-warded), and there was definitely money – and thus possibly jobs – involved. The staff was pretty obviously temporary, and the intent was also pretty obvious – and attempt at a local revival.
It was the best prospect that had come along in centuries. Over the last twenty thousand years or so apathy had become something of a way of life – but there was always at least a flicker of hope. The mortal population, which was always full of youthful energy, was enough to make sure of that.
Charles left most of the hiring and such to his aides.
One magma-god watched Charles work his way down the block repairing things – and wanted to know if he needed anyone for his forge; it was pretty obvious that he was a crafter of some sort.
Well, forge-assistants were always needed when your artificing operations kept expanding!
Varthancanus was happy to help power the forge; he could ensure that the metal was always piping hot when it should be! And living inside the raging flames would give him a very comfortable private sanctum!
Well, that was fine! Charles had lots of forges anyway!
Renovating old and blocked-off buildings meant going into some of the very worst sections of the area – although it did reveal some quite interesting things! It looked to Charles like the quite a lot of the underlying architecture and geomancy was primordial, with no more than superficial modifications (understandable, even most gods weren’t qualified to tinker and the Incarnae had had a LOT to do back when they were moving in and were dealing with the basic features). In fact, rather a lot of it was still doing… whatever it did.
Part of it was probably the “everything is material” function, and part the “convert prayer to quintessence and ambrosia” function, and part the canal system – but there were tens of thousands of square miles of geomantic complexity in Yu-Shan. Even he’d never undertaken much of a general survey before; it was all over the place!
Hm… Yu-Shan resembled a sanctum – a bubble of reality blown in Elsewhere – but it was also a vast area of landscape and architecture, sustained it’s own internal geomancy, and had a designer set of conveniences and special powers built in.
A lot like Aden.
Now THERE was a disquieting thought! Was the entire Celestial City actually the world-body of a moribund Primordial? Or one that was trying to revive itself? Or – perhaps worst of all – one that had never been suspected? It would hardly be unprecedented; the essence of Gaia flowed through Creation – and it could certainly have inspired the transformation of the Empyreal Chaos into Malfeas.
Well, at the moment he had a lot of shops, manufacturies, and living quarters to get fixed up and ready to be used!
That was fairly straightforward actually… his usual style of quiet repairs, then sending in a few agents with cash to pay for starting things up, would do nicely!
Sadly, deiphages liked to hide out in the abandoned facilities too.
Charles was finishing up the repairs to a small furniture workshop when a small and ragged functionary slipped in… Its nails had sharpened into rather unhealthy looking claws over the years, and drool was slipping from its lips. Its eyes appeared blank and empty. Off in the shadows of the room he could see several other pairs of equally-empty eyes staring at him.
It was slowly approaching, looking for an opening…
(Charles) “Oh, hello!”
Hm! Well, first up, a small ward! (Just for him! He had to set out tea and sandwiches!) Then the return-to-sanity Raksha effect – and probe; if he could figure out what had happened to them, it might be fixable!
The former functionary squeaked when Charles erected the ward – but that brought the others shambling out of the shadows. It was hard to tell- the years had not been kind to their finery – but they might all be from the same office. It looked like a collection of rodents.
Since they couldn’t get at him they ate the sandwiches; they faintly remembered eating meals long ago – although now only succulent Essence would truly satisfy their hunger.
The probe however… it required a great deal of power – far more than almost anything he’d done so far – but revealed several things. They were, indeed, insane from losing their domains. They had all been gods of minor rodent species native to the Varangian City-States. More disturbingly, the deiphagy… was not something inherent to their being. Whatever was causing it was coming from outside of them. It… felt rather primal, almost inherent to the environment.
Very long-term sabotage? Notions about things competing and evolving? A symptom of the local geomancy losing power? A primordial draining power from ancient betrayers via some sort of great curse?
He tried warding the area against the power he felt! Who knew? It might work!
The deiphagic functionaries had been eating the sandwiches rather… mechanically before – but as the ward took effect, they were beginning to show signs of enjoying the meal – and their eyes were beginning to glint again – but something was trying to worm its way through the ward. It… felt like it was coming from beneath the floor.
The old “Devouring Earth” routine? Perhaps as some sort of Chthonic Worm? Could be a left-over primordial Behemoth – or perhaps an Ishvara? If one had been injured, and escaped into city-form… Such a creature would draw those nearby without compelling narratives and destinies of their own – such as an unemployed deity – into their own tale, and might well be able to feed through them. Devouring a victims sanity, and essence, was very, VERY, fey after all – and eating remotely was a reasonable extension of the theme…
He turned a nearly full-scale probe against whatever-it-was – but it had extensive protections, and faded away before the probe like mist. A bit like nocturnal essence actually – but the fact that it was fighting his ward left it somewhat open…
It seemed that… The region itself apparently attacked the minds of gods walking its streets and occupying its abandoned buildings. Being a near-mortal seemed to provide complete protection. Having a domain provided almost-total protection. Without a domain, any gods who entered the area would be under constant attack. Gods were nothing if not willful. They could resist for quite a while –
maybe even millennia. All but the most powerful would succumb eventually, though.
Wards would help against it, and so would geomancy designed to take it into account.
Either something had SERIOUSLY corrupted the area or someone considered this a design feature. Curse, damaged geomancy, side effect of prayer-channels going into reversed mode, an active creature… It could be any of those. It could even be a way to get rid of old gods who had become useless! It gave him an odd impression of being… natural. As if it SHOULD be there.
That was pretty disturbing!
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