The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice LIV – A Constellation Of Effects

Simulation of a permanent wormhole. Français :...

Are you quite sure you can’t figure out where the nexus is here?

Hmmm… The Stargate Project was moving right along with testing. There DID seem to be some instability problems, but at least the basic idea seemed to work. He’d just have to see if it could be rendered safe for use after the basic tests were done!

Fortunately, since all you needed to put a charm effect into an artifact was to have help from someone with the right essence type for it – even if they didn’t have such a charm themselves – he hadn’t had to ask a Chosen of Journeys (since they were the ones who could) to petition the Maidens to add an upgrade to the Mirror Shattering Method to the Sidereal Charmset.

The Sidereals were funny. Nobody ELSE needed to petition an Incarnae to develop new or upgraded charms!

Come to think about it, that really made no sense; a charm was simply essence motes channeled through some supernatural aspect of the user – one of the fundamental qualities that let you interact with essence (the universe, given that it was made up of essence) – into an appropriate, well-practiced, configuration that affected the world around it… In a lot of ways, it was just like using your hands!

At the most basic that was what let “stunts” work; they channeled motes from the chaotic substrate of reality into simple, limited, manifestations… That was why they rewarded creativity, didn’t work so well when repeated, and could supply motes ANYWHERE. That was also why they interacted with the will (“buying a success”) – the drive towards personal narrative – and why Raksha could do such fancy things with them. Of course, that also meant that how difficult they were varied with how tightly ordered the universe was locally – and with the order that you, personally, were imposing on it.

Charms didn’t draw on the substrate for power; they channeled your personal energies into effects – and so were more powerful, but were normally limited by the attunement – the “themes” – of those energies. Mortals didn’t normally get Charms because most of what power they had was routed into prayer. Of course, that COULD be viewed as a very limited set of charms; the nature of mortals was to be fearful and to need help – so their “charms” were things like “call on god”, “offer worship and sacrifice”, and so on – all of which did work a lot better for the ones with conscious access to their essence pools. Most of their other possible channels had been intentionally blocked off. If those channels were blown open – such as by some of his manses or by raising their essence too high – mortals could use spirit charms.

Upper-level Thaumaturgy and Sorcery were different because they pulled energy from the substrate and used it to create a channel into which you then poured more power of your own. That meant that you only had to shape the channel – and that meant that you could do things that were far outside your “themes” and on a greater scale if you had the skill, the will, and the number of motes required. It wasn’t as fast or efficient as using a charm, but it was far, FAR, more versatile. Spells LOOKED a lot like Charms, but they weren’t really.

Martial arts was a lot like Sorcery, but it pulled on ambient energy instead of the substrate. That was quicker and easier to get to, and to pull power out of – which made upper level martial arts very powerful indeed – but ambient energy differed form place to place, and so did just what high-order martial arts were usable (thus explaining the numerous differences from game to game as to what martial arts are allowable). While that also meant that Martial Arts could be manipulated and disrupted in a variety of ways, it was pretty rare for anyone to take advantage of that. Martial Arts “Charms” were more highly-specific skills than charms…

Anyway… Everybody could use stunts, thaumaturgy, martial arts, and sorcery – at least within limits – because those were basically external.

Almost everybody could invent and use Charms. Every kind of essence user had their own charms, paths, or what-have-you. Of course, mortals didn’t get to invent and use charms because they’d been intentionally blocked off from using them.

Wait. Most of the Sidereal Charmset really didn’t look like a natural expression of ANYTHING – and they couldn’t develop new charms. Their charms were supposed to be… physical objects hanging on the constellations.

Shouldn’t Sidereal Charms be internal matters? Everyone else’s charms were!

Did that mean that the natural Sidereal charmset was… sealed off? It WAS kind of hard to imagine that that convoluted collection of charms – not a few of them quite dysfunctional – were the natural expression of ANYTHING.

Lets see now… “The Maidens hand-crafted the Charms of their Exalted and affixed them to the stars of the twenty-five constellations. They have only rarely added to this gleaming roll of aptitudes… They have never been known to remove a Charm from the reach of their Chosen. In all likelihood, it is not within their power to do so… But neither is it within the power of the Viziers to craft new Sidereal Charms for themselves.”

So… Constellations could be broken. They were physical or quasi-physical arrangements of the ancient stars – themselves lights upon the old vault of heaven. That vault – or what was left of it – now existed Elsewhere. Were the ancient constellations manses?

Oh! He could ALREADY bestow new Charms outside their existing charmset upon selected Sidereals! All he had to do was let them attune themselves to a manse designed to bestow access to the Charm on those who attuned to it! That was the same trick he’d been planning to use to fake (if that would be “fake” having “Akuma”… (Charles hadn’t considered including a few mind-controlling manses in the setup to strip his “Akuma” of their free will, if only because he would have found the very notion utterly repellent. That didn’t mean that it wasn’t possible…).

As for the artifacts on the constellations… The Sidereals could sense the Constellations – and probably major magical things there – and so all you needed was some self-powered linking artifacts that established unbreakable and undetectable links… Let the Sidereals use their awareness to link to the Artifacts (1), and let the Artifacts establish the links to the Manse you’d designed to bestow your new charm, and then the Sidereals would have a new charm to play with!

(1) That would probably require that the artifacts be at least partially assembled with “Craft Fate” – and might be what barred the Sidereals from doing it; trying to work on something so intimately tied to their own fates would probably cause all kinds of paradox-feedback.

Still, why would the Maidens have blocked off their agents natural charmset?

Oh yeah. Avatars-of-inevitable destiny that wasn’t so inevitable after all. The worst control freaks in the long and cranky history of control freaks, and that included the primordials… They didn’t WANT their agents coming up with new stuff; they wanted to be in complete control of fate.

Maybe he shouldn’t mention that idea at the moment. Since he was out-of-fate and had major mental shields, he should be able to keep it quiet for the moment, no matter how tempting it was to go and find the constellations and hang some more charms on them!

Still, reaching a constellation to hang something on it would be hard… That aspect of things had to be at least partially elsewhere or something since the earth no longer had a physical sky with structures on it. That had been shattered during the Reshaping – and all that was currently known was that the actual stars had shifted, and the constellations- including the ones for the modern abilities – were probably Elsewhere.

Hm. That might be a complication for his Elsewhere Net… Fortunately, its probably nowhere NEAR big enough to grab a constellation. Still, you never knew… they COULD just be a set of slides, mounted over the essence-blaze of the Loom and shining through the lines of fate to project themselves back out of Yu-Shan and into the old sky. That would be a clever way to keep them safe from tampering! Shielded at the center of the loom that way anyone investigating where they appeared to be would find nothing but mist and light.

Of course, if one was damaged it would throw all kinds of malfunctions into the loom, but only the Sidereals could do that – and they would NEVER be stupid enough to strike at their own source of power!

He’d probably have to get a good look at one of the existing constellations before he could find a possible way to make more of them though! Those procedures were probably deep within Jupiter’s personal library.

Oh dear! He’d promised to find the Welfs some work – but he hadn’t checked on how old most of them were! It was a little different if they were averaging age six than it would be if they averaged around twelve of so.

Yes, Charles was ignoring the double standard with being eight in some ways himself.

Ah. Mostly between fourteen and sixteen, with a few of the Alphas being near-adults. Omegas were mostly the younger kids, and didn’t seem to have the strong urges the others seemed to have quite yet…

Huh. It looked like the physical rebuild wasn’t quite as complete in the ones he hadn’t personally worked on.

Anyway, they seemed most eager to do work that would get them outdoors and/or moving.

Well… he could offer them some dragon line / lost manse surveys on Earth, exploring alien worlds once he got some of the prototype stargates going (which shouldn’t be long now; most of the reported problems now were well within the range of the secondary artificers), running their own patrols in Aden to cover the wilderness areas with a little undercover work in the more urban areas, and some household surveillance at the inns and things, where they could easily disguise themselves as a local puppy…

They were particularly enthusiastic about the “alien worlds” option.

Well… no pregnant girls, and none

of the really young children, for THAT. Pregnant girls and kids could run Aden patrols or household survellience though. Younger teenage males could do the earthly dragon line surveys and maybe work up to the interstellar stuff that wasn’t quite ready to go anyway. They should be quite safe enough there!

Perhaps sadly, it never occured to Charles that sending a bunch of teenaged male Kickaha to run around Earth would doubtless lead to more wolfling god-bloods running around – albeit not for ten months or so.