The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice Session LVI – The Exultant Avalanche

The Scarlet Empress (Doctor Who)

I really think some of the basic assumptions of this crossover are incompatible!

There were quite a few Sidereals – roughly a third of them, mostly in the Silver faction – who didn’t accept the “Primordial” theory – or one of it’s even more bizarre alternates. It wasn’t so much that the child didn’t seem to possess vast power – he obviously had the world-body, enormous reserves of essence and/or a monstrous replenishment rate, a soul-hierarchy, and several of the other attributes – but his behavior just didn’t fit.

OK, there was nothing in THEORY stopping a Primordial from being ridiculously generous, and unfailingly kind, and humble, and polite, and endlessly helpful – and a young one might not have access to higher-end charms or have it’s essence all the way up to the top yet – and the weird obsession with artificing and manses COULD be part of a Primordial Theme – but Primordials were Idiot-Savants. They were either impossibly good at things or downright terrible.

Their Jouten just didn’t show slow improvements in weapon training and music classes. Young or not, that simply was not how a Primordial functioned! Even if there should somehow be a Primordial of Childhood who DID learn like a normal child, why would he be so good at geomancy and artificing?

Sure, there was no ruling out some unique entity out of the Wyld, or a Primordial with exotic charms or something – there came a point where ANYTHING was possible – but it seemed pretty unlikely.

The raw power ruled out almost everything in creation short of the Incarnae and the Celestial Exalted – and the boy certainly didn’t act much like a Sidereal. A Lunar MIGHT be able to add a world-body to his or her form – but they usually possessed much broader abilities. That monomaniacal focus on a particular field – and incredible skill within it – practically screamed “Solar”! – at least if you were willing to accept that the boy had discovered some path of transcendence that even the first age had missed, and that it made a SINGLE solar so incredibly powerful – and that every Solar presumably had the same potential.

And that, somehow, a small boy had Exalted as one of the Heroes of the Dawn, and had found that path, and had used that power to… go to school. Could it ALL have something to do with being a child?

It was almost easier to suspect a new Incarnae – and there were some who were going for THAT theory (as well as one or two who were coming down on the side of some sort of Authchthonian Construct).

The ones who suspected “Solar”, however, were increasingly wanting to grab poor Lytek and shake him and demand to know “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!?! WHAT IN THE COSMOS HAVE YOU UNLEASHED IN THAT CHILD!?!?”

The only reason that some of the Sidereals hadn’t done it already was the shadow of the Usurpation. Otherwise the line would already have formed, with Viziers taking shifts.

Some of the hardliner Gold Sidereals wished the boy at least… channeled, no matter WHAT he was! The blasted Bronze Faction idiots had been responsible for nearly destroying the world, and for the millennia of ensuing disasters (and overwork!). They should not be getting a helping hand from ANYONE!

Some of the Sidereals – and a few gods – had reached a much simpler conclusion; the more research they did, the more blatantly obvious it became that the boy (whatever he might be) was hopelessly benign – and that the simplest way to start exploiting him was to just ask for things that could be used for their own purposes, preferably while presenting a benign front of their own and while keeping their opponents from doing the same thing.

Some Sidereals were still debating… The boy had the run of Yu-Shan. If he was a Primordial, that might be hideously dangerous. On the other hand… Gaia had had the run of the Yu-Shan for untold ages, and nothing untoward had happened. Would it even be SANE to try and kick him out? He’d been living there quietly – and unobtrusively helping – for years. He hadn’t been a participant in the Primordial Wars, and didn’t seem to have any relationship to the Yozis – and for all they really knew, most Primordials could have been fairly benign! Even on Earth he’d just gone to movies, donated to charity, done emergency rescue work, and recreated extinct species of cute fuzzy things.

That was bringing currently-unpopular theories about the true motives behind the creation of the Exalted and the Primordial War out of mothballs. The “Super Crack” theory was raising it’s ugly head again – and this time with some evidence to support it beyond the fact that Creation had hung together many times as long under the Primordials as it had under the Exalted. If Gaia hadn’t intervened to save the universe’s collective butt, the Scarlet Empress would have ended the world millennia ago. Even the HUMANS were doing a better job of running things in a lot of ways – and even the official histories said as much. Sure, the Unconquered Sun would never associate with anything unethical – but if perfect virtues meant being right all the time, the universe would still be in perfect shape as one unified world, rather than broken into so many pieces that even the highest gods were still counting.

Still, no one discussed such theories anywhere public, or even unwarded – at least not in Yu-Shan.

Of course, as far as most of the Primordials went… From what little anyone knew one had formed a river around creation that kept the Raksha away. One provided order and structure. One had been a lot like Ligier was now, and had apparently ruled well enough to run things without any great problems for eons. One was the motherly patron of seagoing races – most of which were just people. OK, a few – like the Black Boar That Twists The Skies – had been a bit of a pain just by their nature, but they didn’t seem to cause endless trouble just by being there. One sat around as a big forest, another sat in an ocean… So what? There wasn’t much on any specific offenses beyond “sometimes they (like every other essence user) broke things” and “they annoyed Autochthon by breaking his stuff” – when, of course, Autochthon ALSO broke their stuff even before making Exaltations by doing things like dissecting a bunch of Lintha…

In an undisclosed location the Greater Deiphages – and the force that lay behind them – were beginning to move. Someone was challenging an order of things that had persisted for millennia – and that could not be tolerated – especially not when, after so many ages, their plans were nearing the tipping point.

In the underworld, the Deathlords were also putting plans into action. The ability to build and repair basic manses, and to forge artifacts, with such speed was extraordinarily useful. The ability to create truly high-end manses, and possibly even gates, with such speed was invaluable. With that ability military forces could be created, enhanced, and sent anywhere with incredible speed. On Earth the Terrestrial Councils were hearing reports of a young thaumaturge possessed of an incredible set of manse-related talents – even of reaching other realities. With that power once again available, their secret dominance of Earth could be expanded to a myriad other worlds – and much that had been long-lost might be recovered.

Even at the local Museum of Natural History, many of the scientists were badly wanting to know what Charles was getting up to now.

Other entities were beginning to take notice as well.

Sadly, Charles himself still didn’t really realize that there COULD be any objection to making things all better – save, perhaps, for a few gods with speciality domains, whom he didn’t think there were all that many of.

Of course, there were…

  • Gods of species that had replaced extinct species.
  • All the people who didn’t want to forgive and forget
  • Gods of famine, torture, and pain.
  • Upset vengeful ghosts
  • The Death Gods in general given that Charles did rather want to abolish – or at least seriously revise – death.

Meanwhile, in blissful ignorance, Charles was reading through some notes from Hala on the most notable borderland interstellar nations. The poor ferretyr’s experiences notwithstanding, she recommend going through Tarvial.

(Hala) “Not that it matters once you hit the Wyld, though… time and space get fuzzy in Rakshastan. Tarvial just has the best overall anti-Wyld forces.”

(Charles) “Well… I don’t have a ship I think – but I should have several gates to Raksastan. I’ll see which one is closest to Tarvial!”

(Hala) “One of these days you’re going to have to show those to me.”

(Charles) “Uhm… The gates? Well, those are easy!”

Charles gladly showed her Hoenheim, and a couple of similar manses with other gates, and some of the worlds that they offered access to (which led to explaining the Last Refuge and the whole Alternate-Creation thing again). While he was there he opened the gate to the Last Refuge to check on Rachel and her family and to tell them that he’d be away for a bit – but that the hunt for her was over and that things had mostly been straightened out if they wanted to come out.

(Hala) “What IS this Manse? I sensed the power when I came in, but interdimensional overlays are rare.”

(Charles) “Hoenheim is one of the first manses I upgraded! I put in a dimensional nexus aspect, with gates to a lot of realities. I don’t really know how many are really a part of our universe and how many are in other universes though!”

(Hala) “I don’t recall a Manse like that in the records. Is this one of your grandpa’s places?”

(Charles) “He let me have it when I was seven! It’s in a wyld pocket and takes a lot of extra geomancy to power up to manifest the gate-network though!”

When Charles opened the gate it rippled wildly, as if some mighty force had passed through it, but when he probed after it, whatever-it-was was long gone. Huh! That had been fast! Oh well! If it was a potential problem it would doubtless turn up soon enough!

The Cartiers had been about ready to ask for a trip back anyway, and so were glad to see him!

(Rachel) “Wow! Who’s the strong lady?”

(Charles) “How was your stay? I bet there was a lot of interesting stuff to learn there!” (To Hala) “Oh, details? Well, this creation fell to the Balorian Crusade – but the Dragon Kings had already withdrawn to a pocket realm – which is all that’s left of this Creation!”

(Hala) “You’re Rachel Cartier… I would stay away from Yu Shan for somewhat longer if I were you. And Dragon Kings?”

(Rachel) “Oh, the Dragon Kings taught me a lot about Solar history… and I went exploring in the edges of the Wyld and the last traces of Creation while I was there! Look what I found!”

Rachel concentrated for a moment and molten orichalcum poured out of her hands and transformed into tiger claws.

(Charles) “Neat!”

Rachel shifted the orichalcum into a wrackstaff. It looked like she’d found something similar to Demien’s serpent-sting staff – but it became style weapons instead of merely being usable with any style… Hm… That looked like an upper-end artifact! (About Artifact-5, able to shift to any non-unique artifact weapon rated at three dots or less)

Meanwhile, Rachell’s mother Nadine, was watching for fey. Her father Howard was carrying much of the baggage, and Mitchell was sitting in the garden, watching the caretaker work.

(Charles, with slight exasperation) “Oh, not to worry! In general, they fey can’t do anything to you that you don’t want to have happen within five miles of Hoenheim! And there are a thousand or so guardians around…”

(Nadine) “Ah, that’s good… wait, a thousand of them? Your grandfather must be a rich man to have that many!”

(Charles) “Oh, most of them come with the Manse!”

(Nadine) “What a powerful place… well, we need to get home. Raymond must be worried… as is your father, Howard!”

(Howard) “What did you expect me to do? The artifact was more dangerous than Raymond thought, and the Sidereals would have found Rachel some time.”

Charles sighed and teleported them again, both so as to both leave few traces and so as to avoid showing them how to get into the pocket realm.

(Charles) “Oh, they still aren’t happy – but they know that it wasn’t Rachel’s fault at all!”

(Rachel) “Really? Do they know Kiko was involved? Should have taken her too.”

(Mitchell) “I don’t think Mom and Dad would have been able to stand her, though.”

(Charles) “Well, Kiko was disguised at the time – and she’s GOOD at disguising – and all she did was drag you away so that you didn’t kill Astrid! There never really was any blame attached to her… The only reason why anyone was looking for her was to find out where you’d gone, and that’s all over with now!”

Hala hadn’t wanted to stay in Hoenheim – honestly, all those gates (interesting as they were), and that weird power surge when Charles had opened one, and the power rippling through the place, made her a bit uncomfortable. The place practically screamed “reckless meddling!”.

As, of course, did the fact that Charles had apparently never even OPENED most of the gates! Even if that might be advisable with the Malfean ones…

Of course, she was also mildly uncomfortable in a suburban Atlanta home. It was clear that she doesn’t come to Earth very often…

(Nadine) “Ah, manners again. Who are you, ma’am?”

Charles started to do introductions!

Hala realized – rather abruptly – that he would almost certainly introduce her as a Lunar Exalt unless she did something.

She promptly covered his mouth.

(Hala) “I’m Helen, Charles’s nanny. I watch him while his grandfather is off on business. He’s a handful!”

(Nadine) “I’m sure.”

(Howard) “Well, I’d better get on the phone with Dad… you know how temperamental he gets, dear.”

(Charles) “Murmpph-Murmph!”

(Mitchell) “I’ll get the scrambler.”

(Hala, through the gesture-speech Charm) “Sorry, but I’m pretty sure that woman is Fellowship of Moonsilver and Jade! I can tell from the stance.”

(Charles via Thaumaturgic Telepathy) “But aren’t those friends of yours?”

(Hala) “Yeah, but there’s no need to broadcast that I’m a Lunar… and besides, once she realized I wasn’t in that group, she’d get suspicious.”

(Charles) “Oh. Factions again.”

(Hala, still silently) “Can I uncover your mouth now? I don’t like doing that any more than you like being muffled.”

Meanwhile, Mitchell and Howard had gone upstairs, and Nadine and Rachel were unpacking.

(Charles, also still silently) “Oh sure! You already introduced yourself anyway.”

(Nadine, turning around) “Hmm. About to say something he would regret?”

(Hala, removing her hand) “As I said, he is a handful!”

(Rachel) “Hey, anything you need, Charles? With this orb, I feel like I could take on anything.”

(Nadine) “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, dear…”

(Charles) “Uhm… Not really I think! I’ve got a very long-range errand to run anyway; that’s why I stopped by to open the gate, my next chance would probably have been another month!”

(Rachel, seemingly a bit disappointed.) “Ah, that’s okay… tell Kiko I’m back, though! She owes me a race!”

As helpful as Rachel might be, her parents were worried enough without her heading off to the other end of the cosmos! No matter how much enthusiasm she had!

(Charles) “I’ll let her know!”

(Hala) “Well, Charles, now that we’ve retrieved your friends, we should head home… You have a lovely home, Mrs. Cartier.”

(Nadine) “Well, I would have preferred all white, but Howard insisted on some black. Have a good afternoon, and keep him out of trouble!”

And then an urgent message arrived…

(Lytek) “Charles, are you busy? You have to see this, it’s… I… I don’t know what to say.”

(Charles) “Oh dear! Now Lytek needs something… I’d better go see what! And since it’s urgent…”

Charles offered his arm to Righteous Hala, spun a record on the record player, stepped out on the carpet, drew on the energies of the wyld in a swirl of glittering motes that reduced the area to soft focus – and waltzed gently into the Cartier’s mirror and out the large mirror at the entryway of Lytek’s offices as the scene shifted old-fashioned-move style. The music continued to drift from the mirror for a few moments, but then faded – but for that interval the mirror reflected another pair entirely – a much older gentleman, dressed in the styles of the first age, and a delicate woman in the same fashions.

Rachel waved goodbye – and Nadine watched with some wonder… The boy… wasn’t using a charm, or sorcery there, or at least not directly. He was just… exerting a bit of basic thaumaturgy and augmenting it by tapping into the chaos that was the basic structure of reality. Everyone tapped into chaos a bit of course (it was, after all, the basis of stunting) – but only Raksha did it on anything like that scale! Had the child somehow learned Raksha techniques and used them to boost his thaumaturgy? Could he possibly just be… pretending that what he wanted to do was possible and using the power of chaos to get Creation itself to go along with gag and indulge him?

[It was simply an occult-based Wyld Stunt, boosted by Charles’s stunt pool to the Solar Circle Sorcery level to allow a quick trip to Yu-Shan. Charles was quite pleased to find that it worked properly though; he hadn’t tried many of those tricks yet!]

Hala blinked, especially when the older man showed up in the mirror…

(Hala) “Just as well. I need to speak with Lytek too.”

Lytek’s secretary blinked too – normally only the Maidens traveled by mirror! – and discreetly but hurriedly let Charles in. She’d only been informed that Lytek had sent to Earth for the boy a few minutes ago! Had the child just… waltzed his way straight from Earth to Yu-Shan? Who and WHAT was the boy?

Hala had to stay outside for the moment though.

(Charles) “Hello! What’s up?”

Lytek seemed quite startled – and simply opened up his cabinet to reveal a full set of Celestial Exaltations – albeit with no Nocturnal shards.

(Lytek) “I… Charles, do you have any idea about this?”

(Charles) “Hm! Extras!… now what… OH! They probably have memories of a horrible final war, and the destruction of the world attached don’t they?”

(Lytek) “Yes… you wouldn’t have anything to do with this, I hope?”

He reached into a sleeve and produced some extra shards. “I’m going to need another cabinet for all these, or refurbishing…”

(Charles) “Uhm… I think they’d be from a destroyed alternate creation! They must have been drawn to YOUR cabinet in place of the one they belonged in but which was long gone when I opened the gate for awhile… I hadn’t thought of that! I figured that – if they were still around – after thirty thousand years or more with no hosts and no creation they would have wandered off somewhere!… I’m sorry if that makes a problem. I think I could make some more room in the cabinet or arrange some better packing scheme though… Still, once they’re back in circulation, there shouldn’t be too many back at any one time!”

Lytek just stood there, staring into space. It took him a minute or two to recover.

(Lytek) “Charles, it’s all right, for now. You’re only a boy. But what am I going to tell the Sidereals when their numbers exceed a hundred . . . or for that matter, when one of the castes receives a twenty-first member? They’ll want to meet with me… and I don’t think a distance meeting will do for this! It’s not like the Lesser Exaltations…”

His aura of power diminished to nothingness, although he still appeared to be composed of light.

Oh dear! Poor Lytek must have been pretty traumatized by the Usurption!

Well… It would have been something like having one of your seven kids holding you prisoner while he/she murdered three of the others in front of you. That would have been pretty hard to get over!

Was there a god of psychotherapy? And how long was his or her waiting list?

(Charles) “Hrm… Well, it is my fault. I could try to explain! The Sidereal ones might be a little odd though… They’re linked to fate-strands, and those strands may not exist in this universe. For that matter, I don’t really know if the designs are quite the same on all of them either! The divergence might have gone back that far, and the final collapse just been the end consequence!”

(Lytek) “Th… thank you. It’s a good thing that most of them think you’re a Primordial. And I wouldn’t worry about the lack of strands. The Sidereal Exaltations were made strong enough to function without a Loom… though I will have to analyze these for eccentricities!”

He didn’t seem happy about that prospect. That was a little odd really; he was known for being one of the few gods who loved his work… Maybe he was just a little weirded out? After all, not only had were these exaltations from another Creation, but these carried memories of… another him, of the worst moments of his life, of the destruction of Yu-Shan – and might well hold visions of his own death as the tides of the Wyld poured through the gates, the Celestial Lions fell, and the gods and Incarnae were unmade. There would have been a brief rise of hope as the geomancy of the Jade Prison failed and – for brief, shining moments – the Solar Exalted rose once more in Yu-Shan as shards gathered to empower the mortals valiant enough to join the defense with the gods. Still, those final defenses would fail as newborn Solars and Lunars new and Old, and Sidereals fell one by one – and there were no more candidates among the small, and swiftly dwindling, mortal population to replace them. Perhaps the last of the Exalted and the surviving gods gathered had about Lytek himself, and the cabinet, and the last hope of renewal – only to be overwhelmed at last by the tides of chaos.

Then, with humanity extinct, eons of drifting, purposeless, seeking eternally for worthy humans to empower – and finding none.

That made it reasonable enough that – when several humans had reappeared after the long eons, the Shards had gathered about them – even if they were already Exalted, and ineligible. Where some humans had appeared, more might come.

And then a gate had once more opened – beckoning home, with Lytek to welcome them and to clear away the memory-detritus of failure and more humans – indeed, more potential worthy candidates across the cosmos – than had ever lived in their original world.

Small wonder that the magic of the gate had flickered at the passing of the Celestial Host!

(Charles) “I’d better be more cautious about alternate creations! (Seeing the unhappiness) I am sorry! I didn’t mean to complicate things!”

(Lytek) “Don’t worry, Charles. I’m thinking about other issues as well.”

(Charles) “Any I can help with?”

(Lytek) “Perhaps… if you do something for me, first. It will seem like an odd request, but you need the necessary information to understand the problem.”

(Charles) “OK!”

(Lytek) “I’d like you to monitor any Sidereals you frequently interact with for physical ailments the Exalted shouldn’t have: chronic pain, bouts of nausea, vertigo, and the like. Of course, by frequently, I mean at all. They’re in Yu Shan so little these days.”

(Charles) OK! And I might be able to help with that after a bit!

(Lytek, looking sad) “I hope so. If you could get one from each caste, that would be even better.”

(Charles) “Scans I presume?”

(Lytek) “If you could manage it. I would be happy with names.”

(Charles) “I’ll see what I can do!”

(Lytek) “Thank you, Charles. Was there anything you needed while you were here? I received a mysterious message telling me you were likely to be away for a while. Is that true?”

(Charles) “Just for a bit! I need to pick up some things at Creation’s Wyld Interface! But I can get back pretty quickly if I have too; the distance to Yu-Shan through Elsewhere is just the same regardless of where you are in Creation!”

(Lytek) “Ah, the Borderlands… well, do be careful.”

Lytek’s aura of power was gradually coming back – and he started touching Charles; the sudden arrival of new Exaltations had shocked him so much that he’d forgotten to do it earlier… Unfortunately for Charles, this meant that he was making up for lost time.

Charles, feeling quite apologetic for shocking him so, squirmed less than usual – although Lytek never seemed to notice anyway.

Lytek was satisfied with the state of Charles’s Exaltation – even if he could also feel the world-body in it. That was a weird sensation for him.

(Lytek) “You ought to let your grandfather know, as well. I believe he had journeyed there for something.”

(Charles) “OK! I suspect that – near the Wyld – some narrative or other will pull us together anyway!”

(Lytek) “Then I will get started on these Exaltations… oh yes, speaking of Exaltations, I spotted some new beings in yours! Could you tell me about them? The Essence pattern was rather unusual.”

Charles made VERY sure of the privacy protections.

(Charles) “Uhm… That’s probably the Kickaha. I’m not sure what’s up with them. They were part of the research that went into the upper-level types, but they started with material beings – some mortal volunteers actually, like the ones in Arcosanti – and turned out to be self-reproducing. I seem to have accidentally created a magical species there, a bit like the Lintha or the Jadefolk or the Dragon Kings.”

(Lytek) “That’s not unheard of-your predecessors in the First Age made several magical species as well. But yours seems equal in power to your Sentinels. Even the Lawgivers never dared to create such a powerful entity.”

(Charles) “It’s just a little less I think – but they’re very close! It was an accident though.”

Lytek’s aura fluttered again. Accident?! What have I done!?

(Charles) “They’re quite friendly though!”

(Lytek) “Well, yes… but most Exalts don’t create things that powerful by accident…”

(Charles) “Well, you never know what you’re going to get when you do research!”

(Lytek nodded knowingly.) “Of course. I’m sure as long as you monitor them and ensure they’re developing properly, they’ll be fine.”

That was an inadvertent word of comfort there! “Research = Unexpected Things Happen!”

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6 Responses

  1. You know, I’ve been wondering if the Incarnae have noticed Aden’s presence by now. If they haven’t, they definetly know something’s up now. And if I were Lytek, i’d probably confer with them before tinkering with the exaltations any. Besides himself, the Incarnae are the only ones within his means to contact that would know the intricacies of an shard.

    • Well, as of the next session Charles DEFINITELY has the attention of the Maidens anyway.

      I’m not so sure about Lytek though. He knows that he’s the greatest available expert – and he has been concealing the existence of the great curse for a very long time.

  2. […] LVI – The Exultant Avalanche: A Primordial Retrospective, Gathering Opposition, The Second Celestial Host Arrives, Waltzing Into Yu-Shan. […]

  3. […] LVI – The Exultant Avalanche: A Primordial Retrospective, Gathering Opposition, The Second Celestial Host Arrives, Waltzing Into Yu-Shan. […]

  4. […] LVI – The Exultant Avalanche: A Primordial Retrospective, Gathering Opposition, The Second Celestial Host Arrives, Waltzing Into Yu-Shan. […]

  5. […] LVI – The Exultant Avalanche: A Primordial Retrospective, Gathering Opposition, The Second Celestial Host Arrives, Waltzing Into Yu-Shan. […]

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