The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice LX – The Random Scrounge

Portrait of Mrs. Charles Montague Cooke (Anna ...

So; what is it you wish to see?

Mr Montague’s look at the Elsewhere Net basically involved an introduction to Malinda the Diviner, Mistress of the Aether – and her growing museum of weird items.

Malinda was a pleasant, slightly-past middle age, gypsy woman complete with various bits of fortune-telling apparatus. She ran the Sympathetic Loom (which could link in Aden sufficiently to allow normal ensoulment throughout Aden and was useful for determining if some proposed experiment was likely to cause massive disruptions in fate) and the Prototype Elsewhere Net – but her most bothersome talent was Uncanny Acquaintanceship. She knew your relatives and had an endless font of gossip and messages from them. She tended to pinch your cheek, ask you about your relatives, tell you stories about what your elderly relatives had gotten up to when they were young, and otherwise be embarrassing as she offered to show you all those things in her mirrors, crystal ball, and scrying pool.

She was the very embodiment of TMI!

(Montague) “Wow… what a collection.”

He got mildly scolded for not calling his parents – and Micaela’s! They thought that the two of them had eloped! Why couldn’t he be like his brother, who dressed up as a duck to make his mother smile? You’d think the mask was still broken or something! After all, from his point of view, they might not be around very long!

(Montague) “Okay… okay… I’m sorry, ma’am! I’ll call them!”

(Malinda) “See that you do young man!”

Malinda, as mistress of divination, could tell them all about every interesting piece…

Meanwhile, Charles was looking at Mr Montague just in case he saw signs of illness. Lytek had asked after all – but there didn’t seem to be anything as of yet. Mr Montague HAD seemed slightly morose before he got to Aden, but Aden DID encourage happiness – and anyone spending much time in Aden generally could not get sick.

Charles was pleased with the museum though! Malinda had gotten the net in part to give her something to divine at… other than him and anyone else in the area anyway.

Malinda was happy to explain about any piece Mr. Montague had questions about, but he – much to her disappointment – didn’t ask about many. Still, she knew perfectly well that he only had a couple of hours to spend with the net before he had to deal with other business. He did tap it with the hammer that sensed the properties of artifacts however…

It wasn’t exactly perfected; it still needed a rank-five manse to anchor and power it, and it took some massive divinatory powers to guide it in any way – but it did work.

Of course it was still, fundamentally, a manse artifact that produced completely random stuff with a strong likelihood of silliness or disaster.

(Montague) “Huh. Not bad for a prototype, if it does what you say it does. So how’s it work other than the divination?”

(Charles, happily) “Basically, Elsewhere is an N-dimensional plenum, with coordinates existing only in potentia. You can, however, define spaces in it, and store things there! This produces a secondary disturbance in the interface where N-dimensional space breaks down into three dimensional space. Normally those spaces are anchored somewhere, and sustained by that link – but since Elsewhere is timeless, the pocket persists after the link is broken – making the pocket both existent and collapsed at the same time. So the net seeks out disturbances, migrating it’s strands towards lower dimensionalities – which gets it entangled with artifacts, which it can then draw back to its anchor!”

(Montague) “I knew about the storage parts, but heck if I knew how to steer toward them. That’s it, I’m taking some advanced thaumaturgy distance courses!” (Smiles) “It sounds like you tested it already. Let me guess, you pulled out a lot of fey junk?”

(Charles) “Yep! Several shaping weapons, a cranky behemoth-thing, a pouch of hopefulness, and a blizzard that I had to get some Raksha-analogs in to package up again!”

(Montague) “That’s a hassle.” (Wait, Raksha-analogs? What does the kid have in here?) “Raksha-analogs?”

(Charles) “Oh, they aren’t quite the same as regular Raksha – they don’t need to munch on people because the Mardi Gras manse gives them all the power they need and they’re more a part of creation – but Raksha have a lot of useful talents, like making dream-artifacts, so I needed some around!”

(Montague) “You actually found a way to stop them from doing that… might need to go over there some time. I’d be happy testing the net for now, though. I’ve got… ” (He checked his watch.) “One hour and forty minutes. Let’s see what we can find.”

Charles agreed happily and did his own divination for a bit… which Mr Montague found… almost frightening. There didn’t really seem to be any upper limit on how much power the child could pour into his thaumaturgy (there definitely was – but Charles was GOOD at implying very misleading things). Besides, he wanted to see how well it worked too!

A cycle usually took him about five minutes. For most thaumaturgists it would have been a rather extended task…

In short order he’d pulled out several more shaping weapons, a particularly fancy courtier’s caul, an idle fancy that Mr. Montague caught and bottled before it could get to anybody, and a small horde of confused manikins, the smallest lesser servants, wrapped in a large gift box. They brandished tiny spears at them!

Charles waved a sword grace back at them for a few moments – which cowed them; they were pretty ineffectual for anything requiring human size. They looked like a bunch of miniature bunny rabbits in silly military uniforms.

(Charles) “Who were you for?”

(Bunny-Soldier, saluting) “Sir! A gift for the President-for-Life Noriishana, sir!”

Well, that was a job for Malinda… who was/is that?

Well, he could try the Efficient Secretary Technique on the Sympathetic Loom if that individual was ever known to the loom… Still, if he/she/it was getting manikins for presents, he/she/it was probably a Raksha.

Mr. Montague had been looking at the Sympathetic Loom with a bit of interest.

(Charles) “Oh, it’s only a mirror really! Very limited functionality, but it is good for telling if some experiment is going to cause a problem! And you can run a few minor effects from it!”

(Montague) “I’d heard of these before. They don’t let apprentices use them too much . . .”

The bunny-soldiers were also heading over to have a look, marching in tight formation.

(Charles) “Well, they’re fairly straightforward to make!”

(Montague) “I might have to try that if I get any time.”

Malinda found the information soon enough… The President-for-Life Noriishana was the ruler of Lupimanda, a small world on the border of the Empirical Galaxy and the wilder regions of Rakshastan. He had been known to make forays deeper into Creation to attract admirers. As his title implied, he emulated Second and Third World dictatorships – mostly the ones with a veneer of democratic process.

(Charles) “Well, why not! You guys can come along! I’m headed out that way, and – who knows – you may get delivered!”

(Bunny-Soldier) “Sir! It would be an honor to travel with you, sir!”

(Charles) “OK!”

He offered to let them stay out – after all, they might be bored in the box – but they happily marched back into the box. They didn’t want to get mussed before they were presented!

Well, they weren’t really much more than puppets.

(Montague) “Uh… Charles, are you really going to visit somebody who calls himself President-for-Life? That doesn’t sound good!”

(Charles) “I doubt it! The cosmos is a big place! But, on the other hand, the power of narrative coincidence is truly great!”

(Montague) “So why are you heading to the Wyld, anyway?”

(Charles) “ Oh, I need to pick up something out there!”

(Mr Montague, in a concerned tone) “What? It sounds like you know where Wyld zones are. Why not just stay in the universe?”

(Charles) “Because that’s where it’s supposed to be!”

(Mr Montague) “And what is it?”

(Charles) “Uhm… I don’t think I’m supposed to say and I don’t entirely know anyway…”

(Mr Montague arched an eyebrow at that) “I know you’ve got a lot of protection against the mutations, but… that’s pretty dangerous!”

(Charles, doubtfully) “Well… I’m fairly sure I can manage – but I was going to ask a few people for advice before going anyway!”

Montague sensed his doubt.

(Montague) “Hey, you’d better! You’re great at this stuff, and I don’t want an unshaped eating you before you master it.”

(Charles) “I think I’m pretty indigestible for them!”

(Montague) “Let’s hope so. There’s only a few people who could save you if you’re wrong, and they’re not going to be close if you are.”

(Charles) “Well… I do have lots of backup here!”

Mr Montague sighed and looked at his watch…

(Montague) “Well… I’ve got a few minutes, but not enough to be hanging around here. Nice place, though!… I promise I’ll call my parents, ma’am!”

(Malinda) “You’d better or you’ll be hearing from me!”

Geez! It wasn’t like he could control the circumstances of his Exaltation. Stupid Raksha, trying to eat his fiancee. At least the Blossom of Lost Dreams was gracious enough to take them both up to Yu Shan. Micaela needed some trait restoration anyhow.

(Charles) “Oh, did you like the armor you were wearing last time around? I saw you were testing it a bit for the Celestial Lions!”

(Montague) “Yeah, it was good stuff. Maybe if I have some time, I’ll plan out a model with life support. Our void suits are nice… but they’re not exactly heavy-combat ready.”

(Charles) “Well, if you’d like a spare set there are some around!”

Mr Montague still had a REALLY hard time believing that Charles gave artifacts of such power… Most Primordials were not that generous – NOBODY but Charles was that generous – but the child did tend to want everyone protected… Huh. Come to think of it, even most of the weapons he’d made were pretty defensive.

(Montague) “Sure, I’ll take a set. I’ll try to show you if I get something working.”

(Charles, rummaging out a spare set) “OK!”

(Montague) “Thanks. And I’ve really got to go! Wish I could look around longer . . .”

(Charles) “Maybe later!”

(Montague) “Definitely.”

Charles got Mr Montague back to Yu-Shan and dropped him off at his next stop; the Cerulean Lute of Harmony, to report on his mission.

When Charles dropped him off there was a rarity in contemporary Yu-Shan: a full circle of Sidereals leaving on a mission with an extra Chosen of Secrets with them. It had to be important; they were moving at a fast, but still inoffensive, pace.

Charles tried to get a look as they passed by – but got distracted by Mr Montague… He wasn’t the best of physicians, but he was competent enough…

As the group passed by Mr. Montague winced. He’d… hidden his hands behind his back and was rubbing the fingers of one with the other.

(Charles) “What’s wrong?”

(Montague) “Uh… nothing. Little tired, but that’s normal these days!”

Mr Montague smiled disarmingly – and Charles promptly probed (although he did cover it with an illusion… He got sick sometimes – or he’d used to – but Sidereals really shouldn’t.

Hm… inflammation in the fingers and wrists, painful enough to cause real trouble. It looked a lot like… carpal tunnel syndrome, but it seemed to be fading. His divination… was not revealing the cause, or whether it is likely to come up again.

Huh. Cumulative strain? They were all linked through the loom… Were they exhausting even the endurance of an Exalt? Considering the Sidereal workload, that was vaguely plausible. Still… if they WERE linked, what was happening to Damion and the other Cauldron-Born? Or were they the cause? He distrusted coincidence, but it was really hard to tell!

(Montague) “Charles, I’ve really go to go. I’m fine, I’m telling you!”

Well, Charles really hadn’t been stopping him.

Mr Montague waved goodbye in a friendly – but rushed – manner.

Still, Charles had pretty much eliminated his travel time, which had helped a lot – and he was quite grateful for that!

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6 Responses

  1. Actually, whats happening is probably because of the new exaltations. The Loom was only meant for 100 exaltations, right? So with 100 new ones, perhaps the new exaltations are somehow piggybacking on the threads of the old ones, causing them strain.

    Or it could just be that thier workload is finally starting to wear them down past the ability of the exalted constitution to repair the damage.

    Either way, it doesn’t have any indications that the Cauldron Born are the cause of the problems, unless the CB are the cause of the Sidereals stress-enducing workload.

    • That is very likely – but Charles is currently worried about the Cauldron-Born, and thus they’re at the top of his mind. He does tend to jump to conclusions, but that’s natural enough at his age.

      Fortunately, he abandons theories that don’t work out equally easily.

  2. […] LX – The Random Scrounge: Malinda the Diviner, the Elsewhere Net, Raksha Analogues, Strange Illnesses. […]

  3. […] LX – The Random Scrounge: Malinda the Diviner, the Elsewhere Net, Raksha Analogues, Strange Illnesses. […]

  4. […] LX – The Random Scrounge: Malinda the Diviner, the Elsewhere Net, Raksha Analogues, Strange Illnesses. […]

  5. […] LX – The Random Scrounge: Malinda the Diviner, the Elsewhere Net, Raksha Analogues, Strange Illnesses. […]

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