The footpath around the village was lovely, and displayed an immense variety of rare plants and beauties – grottoes and trickling streams, sites where you could look into the negative curvature of Aden or out over the village nestled in it’s dale – and numerous other paths leading away.
(Matthew) “Hey, what is this stuff? It’s pretty good!”
(Charles) “I believe that’s the Hobbit Dark – it’s always supposed to be really good, although each bar brews it slightly differently! I wouldn’t really know though; the Guardians say that I’m not allowed to have any yet!”
(Matthew) “So that’s what that one was!… So; where do all these paths take us?
(Charles) “Oh! Well… THAT route would take us to the Primeval Zone and the dinosaurs, and THAT would take us to the Starship Fields, and THAT one would take us to the Singing Forests, and THAT way goes to the Refugee Villages, and THAT way goes to the Beach and the Docks! The down elevators over there go to the Sea of Chaos and the up escalator over there goes to the Well of Worlds…
Matthew blinked as he digested those options. Such a wide variety of locations in here! And some of those – such as the Well of Worlds and the Starship Fields sounded interstellar! Just how powerful was this child? And WHAT was he? This didn’t much resemble what he’d heard about the Lunar Exalted OR the Sidereals!
And he certainly didn’t seem to be a God or Elemental…
He didn’t act like an Exalt of a spirit anyway. He just… wandered in and out of reality doing things.
(Matthew) “Why not the Singing Forests? The music will help with privacy.”
Besides… that sounded like the most normal location outside of the refugee villages – and they’d probably be kind of crowded.
Charles, cheerily headed off that way – providing a running commentary on the various odd creatures they met along the way, including minor details on what they did, and why they had been created.
Along the way a pod of small starships passed by overhead, playing some complicated game involving lots of aerial acrobatics.
(Matthew) “So the small ships are… sapient.”
(Charles) “Well, yes, naturally! Why shouldn’t they be? It makes getting where you want to go a lot easier!
(Matthew, still looking up) “That’s impressive. And you made these on your own?”
Matthew was discreetly studying THEIR essence-fields… and found them to be Essence 7, with an assortment of major artifacts and artifact-ship bodies. Such resources! And… oddly similar to demonic Essence, but far grander.
Not to mention that he wasn’t within a manse-aura, and yet the entire plane seemed to be saturated with healing, anagathic, and various enhancing energies. There was no malice to be found – and a lot of impossibly-obliging effects everywhere.
More importantly… EVERYBODY who came near them seemed to know the kid. And looking at the kid… Charles’s aura was mostly indistinguishable from the background save for being… more focused and more concentrated.
Charles noticed that Matthew was looking puzzled as the Singing Forest and it’s luminescent orchestral birds drew near. Terrestrials were generally good at hiding their motives when they wanted to be, but this was a genuine conundrum. Unshaped? Powerful Raksha lord who was nonetheless benevolent? Something else entirely? Even most of those generally didn’t… meld into the landscape that way. Unshaped was vaguely possible… but the area didn’t seem to have much in the way of chaos-energies; it was VERY firmly shaped – and prevented unwanted shaping.
The Singing Forest was even more impossibly lovely than most of Aden so far, and was even stocked with cascades of fruit juice which turned into marvelous wines as they plunged into pools.
Primordial? Matthew didn’t know much about those… There wasn’t much left that was known about them except a handful of ancient tales. (Not even the Starbreakers knew that the distinction between Malfeas and Autochthon was all but purely political.)
Matthew enjoyed the music for a bit, then turned to Charles.
(Matthew) “Now… before I go too far, what DO you think of the Insidious? You seem to have no problem letting them in here.”
(Charles) “Well, they’re in charge of fixing casualty violations across the cosmos – but there aren’t very many of them, so they’re mostly badly overworked. They never explain since it takes too much time, and they can – for a group that’s supposed to have insights into the future – be extremely short-sighted and blind! They have a lot of trouble with people who aren’t tightly bound into fate too! And they have an REALLY bad tendency to decide that they know better than anyone, and then they do silly things because there are a lot of factors they can’t see… They fouled up horribly about 20,000 years ago, and have yet to get back most of their old authority. If you keep them busy… they’re mostly harmless and they do a fair amount of helpful stuff; if you don’t fix major causality violations chaos breaks out all over the place.”
(Matthew, after digesting that infodump) “I see… and it’s actually Sidereal too, isn’t it…”
(Charles) “Sidereals, yes – although, to be fair, they can be pretty insidious! I’ve got to admit that, when you’re busy, it’s often easier not to explain!”
(Matthew) “I wasn’t expecting you to know so much… If you know about the Sidereals, then you probably know about the Starbreaking.”
(Charles) “Ah, some sort of anti-Sidereal group I believe? It’s one of the reasons why they have a hard time making repairs on Earth these days isn’t it?”
(Matthew) “They’ve existed since the late nineteenth century. Rather fervent group… good for atelier-chapels and magitech, but fiercely dedicated to wiping the Insidious ‘scourge’ from the face of the Earth. And they wield a good deal of power for their size because of that. I fear I don’t know much more than that; my family pursues other paths.”
(Charles) “Well, most group conflicts are rather misguided!”
(Matthew, putting up another privacy ward.) “I bring them and the Sidereals up because we’ve had some Starbreakers come to the estate… and to our Egyptian allies’ holdings. Apparently they believe that Elzeard is a Sidereal, and that he has constructed the station as part of some scheme. That’s ridiculous right?”
(Charles) “Oh! Well, would you like to meet Elzeard?”
(Matthew) “If he would meet me… certainly!”
(Charles) “And it is ridiculous!”
Charles thumbed down one of the starships for a quick ride…
(Charles) “Elzeard is teaching courses in Ecology for a few hours a day, so right this way!”
Elzeard, in one of his more approachable (if still made-of-plants) humanoid forms was teaching a motley group of humans, Kickaha, and stranger entities. Charles waved cheerily!
Mr Donnelly found that strangely comforting – that was about on par with most wood elementals – until he opened his senses and reeled… Essence beyond anything he’d EVER sensed. Hundreds of motes? Vast geomantic powers?
The look of awe on his face was palpable.
Class wound up a few minutes later – and Charles did the Introductions
(Charles) “Matthew Donnelly – Elzeard Lifeshaper, Treeherd, Lord of Totems, Guardian of the Survival Imperative, Apostle of Gaia, Fourteenth Soul of Aden. And vice-versa!”
(Matthew) “It’s a… privilege to meet you, Elzeard. I was going to ask some questions about that installation in the Sahara, if you have the time.”
(Elzeard) “I suppose so! The Well of Worlds won’t be focused on the next world to Terraform for some hours yet! And I’m already working in Eurasia anyway!”
(Matthew, awestruck) “How many projects do you have operational at this time?”
(Elzeard) “Primarily? One at a time on earth – I can only manifest in one place at a time there – teaching and co-ordination here, and Terraforming Operations!”
(Charles) “Hey! Why did you direct all these people to talk to me about you? I’m going to be swamped with them!”
(Elzeard) “There are several reasons, but the most obvious is that you were needing to get out more and practice dealing with problems directly, rather than by sending your various agents and aspects. I left the installation largely exposed for several reasons. Primarily, to attract sympathetic backers like him (pointing to Matthew). Secondarily, to test your personal adaptability! Yu-Shan is all good and well, but there’s much more to Creation than the homes of the gods!” You really do need to experience Creation much more than you have been.”
(Charles) “But I’ve been busy! There are so many things to fix, and I need to get the planets terraformed and the interstellar colonies set up!”
(Elzeard) “Please, Charles, leave that to us! I presume that IS why you made us, yes? And we have performed satisfactorily?”
(Charles) “Well… but it’s more fun to do SOME of it!”
(Elzeard) “I suppose so… nonetheless, it wouldn’t hurt you to leave more of it to us, and handle the questions. You are better at that than you give yourself credit for.”
Matthew didn’t want to disrespect the elemental colossus before him – after all, his father had sent him to get information from Elzeard – but his mind was choking on that “Made Us…” bit!
(Elzeard) “Not that more practice would hurt… you rely a bit much on magic at times.”
(Charles, grumbling) “But I LIKE magic…”
(Elzeard, to Matthew) “Anyhow… I believe you had questions for me, Mr. Donnelly?”
(Charles, still grumbling) “Makes more sense than people most times…”
Everyone ignored Charles, as the grumbling continued in the background.
Elzeard cheerily explained the manse-functions to Matthew – and his projections as to the speed of the resulting reforestation.
(Matthew) “I see. That matches what my associates in Egypt have found… and means it won’t be too hard to defend, then.”
(Charles) “I could assign some defenders too…”
(Matthew) “We would appreciate it. You see, the Starbreaking is planning to strike at and occupy the place – and my father believes that would be unwise.”
He wasn’t going to say it – but he did not want to see what would happen if they did attack it, considering the maker!
(Charles, thoughtfully) “And rather conspicuous… Lets add a satellite channel providing continuous coverage of the reforestation progress! That should seriously discourage attacks by people who want to keep things secret!”
(Elzeard) “A splendid idea. Perhaps with a news feed as well, for the researchers’ convenience. Their continued presence should also deter attack.””
(Charles) “That still sounds pretty paranoid to me anyway. What would the Sidereals have to gain from adding water to the desert?”
(Matthew) “I don’t know… Father always said he had good reasons for turning them down when they asked him to send agents.”
He shrugged – and continued basking in Elzeard’s Essence.
(Matthew) “Thank you for your time, sir. I have never seen someone with such powerful Essence in my life.”
How could Charles – who was unbelievably powerful for a child but who seemed to have LESS Essence than Elzeard have “made” a being MORE powerful than himself?
He waffled for a bit, then…
(Matthew) “How DID you make Elzeard? The craftsmanship is incredible…”
(Charles) “Urm… Well, he’s an aspect of me really… It’s dimensional transcendentalism! See, I’m me, and Aden is me, and we’re sort of inside myself, and the Guardians are aspects of Aden. Does that make any sense? And the Sentinels – like the Djinn and the Noldor – are aspects of them…”
(Matthew) “I believe so. So… you’re simultaneously in here and here. That sounds like some of the things my demonologist cousin talks about. Do you know Malfeas? She says visiting him is risky but worth it.”
(Charles) “Well… He does sort of the same thing, but he’s a lot older than I am, and he’s been really cranky since the Primordial War! I haven’t opened any of the gates to visit there yet; the Yozis are going to take a LOT of fixing!”
(Matthew) “I see. I would ask you more about the Primordial War, but sadly I must visit my friend and her husband… I suppose outside would be proper. They might be able to help my family further. I take it leaving is much like entering?”
(Charles) “Oh yes! Hm… I suppose I should give you something to demonstrate with. Would you like an artifact or an upgrade to your thaumaturgy or something?”
Matthew considered that carefully – and, like Righteous Hala, had some questions about just how detectable that was – to which the answer was still more or less “not much at all”. Still… He’d better consult with his Father before letting someone who seemed to be transforming worlds work on him!
He also brought up the possibility of having his father come in to do the same, if not before him. Family respect and all…
(Charles) “Well, if that’s what you want! Back to the museum then?”
(Matthew) “Well, thank you. He’s bound to enjoy the outing – and yes, back to the museum.”
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