Back at the museum, Matthew quietly took advantage of the press of other investigators – no longer restrained by his wards – to head out to get in touch with his Father and the rest of the House. He… hadn’t been expecting to find that Elzeard’s contact was a youthful dimension. What did you say to a child who was everything?
Oh by Chaos! “Made US”? “Fourteenth Soul”? That meant that there were at least thirteen more entities of similar power working for the “boy”… And there might well be even more “souls” than that! On top of those starships and whatever other secondary creatures there were! Charles / “Aden”… was a major power in his own right.
At least he seemed to be an obliging one.
Back at the museum Charles fielded a series of more-or-less similar inquiries from academic researchers, private investigators, an envoy from the state department on behalf of several North African and Middle-Eastern governments who delivered a summary of their views so truncated as to be quite indecipherable, a representative from some fundamentalists opposed to meddling in gods domain, someone from Australia who wanted to talk about desalination technologies, and more…
Oddly enough, there were a distinct shortage of assassins, MIB, and CIA types. Maybe they were just assuming that he was a false lead? That would fit in with the way a lot of them thought of course…
There WAS a pair from the E.P.A. – although they seemed to be more curious than anything else. After all, the project wasn’t operating on American soil… Still, they wanted to inquire about the possibility of a station in the Southwest.
(Charles) “Well, Elzeard wanted to start undoing about ten thousand years of ecological damage. I don’t see why a station couldn’t be put in the southwest though.”
(Investigator) “It would help with the water situation there, to be sure – although we’d have to run it through the federal bureaucracy of course. Still, it does seem promising.
(Charles) “Well, it is totally non-polluting!”
(Investigator “That will make approval much, MUCH easier, although – well, a little information as to how it works would be very helpful…”
(Charles) “Oh dear. You really want to know?”
(Investigator) “It would help with the process, so . . .”
(Charles) “Well… it focuses natural geomantic energies and transmutes those into the relevant field effects to drive the rest of the process. The secondary echoes of those forces help regulate the climate, plant and animal fertility, and the Earth’s magnetic field.”
(Investigator) “Err… it… seems to work from the reports.” (Doubtfully) “How am I supposed to explain that to the science panel, other than ’emerging technology’?”
(Assistant) “You could use quantum physics…”
(Investigator) “The last time someone did that, they got sent to desk duty.”
(Charles) “I suppose I could demonstrate.”
(Investigator) “You’d be willing to do that in front of the panel?”
(Charles) “It’s rushing things a bit faster than I thought, but I don’t see why not.”
(Investigator) “Well, it will be some time before that’s necessary. If you’re willing, though, I’m not going to say no.”
(Charles) “Why not? Will you be needing anything to make things more credible?”
(Investigator) “I think you’d know better than us, being a practicing… geomancer, I guess? Does that use diagrams or what? The way you’re talking, it’s replicable.”
(Charles) “Hrm… Ah! Some of the simplest talismans then for demonstration purposes! (he fished out a box) Here we go! Language amulets! Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, Greek, Spanish, French, German, and… Cherokee? Who was sorting these? Anyway… three of each in the box! It does take about ten minutes of wearing one before they take effect though!”
(Investigator) “Okay then. I always wanted to learn some German.”
Ten minutes later, he and his assistant spoke fluent German – and were more than a bit startled.
(Charles) “The effect will fade in about ten minutes after you take them off though, but if you wear one long enough you will pick up some skill in the language naturally.”
(Investigator) “How much do you want for it?”
(Charles) “Oh, I thought that you’d want something to show the commission… If you want some personal ones, here’s another couple of boxes… They really aren’t any trouble; they’re about as minor as genuine devices get.”
(Investigator) “Um… ok… thanks.”
(Charles) “I wouldn’t talk about things too much. You probably don’t want that kind of attention too soon.”
(Investigator) “Of course not… this is pretty unique stuff you’re doing here.”
(Assistant) “We should probably leave before someone notices, sir…”
Huh. Were his Guardians impatient, or had they just thought that he was stagnating?
He made a note to check on the E.P.A. guys again later – but at this rate the people who wanted secrecy would soon have to go after everyone he spoke to if they took that route. They’d pretty much HAVE to deal with him up front. They’d never be able to run enough cover-up operations to keep up with him simply handing stuff out. If he was switching strategies – drawing attention to put become the center of confusion rather than fading into the background – there was no point in going halfway!
Besides… eventually there was going to be another major natural disaster, and he’d be forced to intervene very VERY publicly anyway.
By the time he was done at the museum, he had a choice; go and see Mr Anderson or head for Dudael and work…
Well, given that he couldn’t be inconspicuous any longer he could squeeze out a little more time by using quicker travel methods – and it actually wouldn’t matter if he missed a little time at Dudael… there was an allowance for that, and he’d worked enough to clear out the backlog, and that had been projected to take a half a century at least). They were only making Void Suits (and Utility Belts to go with them) at the moment anyway; the Bureaucracy wanted a stockpile for the Nocturnals as they came in.
He set up a quick link – it didn’t matter where he was as long as he put in his input – and gave Catherine (she’d been taking a subordinate supervisory role since her Exaltation) the information that she’d need… They wouldn’t need him physically for some hours (if at all today).
That meant that he was free to go and see Mr. Anderson!
Mr Anderson lived in an upper-middle-class neighborhood in the suburbs. The house was modest but well-built, with a pristine (warded) lawn. The house itself was warded against snooping and letting out noise, as well as termites and other pests.
Charles cheerily knocked – and Mr Anderson opened the door.
(Anderson) “Ah, Charles! I’m glad you could make it. Won’t you come in?”
(Charles, cheerily) “Hello Mr Anderson! What’s up?”
Anderson brought some tea – and his dog managed a fine performance of “I want to be petted! Now!” .
(Anderson) “Well, it’s about that demesne that was forming in the forest where we met. It’s coming along nicely, by the way.”
(Charles) “Oh good!”
(Anderson) “I was wondering if you could help me get it up a bit faster.”
(Charles) “Oh! Do you need one?”
(Anderson) “Eh, this place is Manse enough for me. My master, on the other hand… See, he’s getting tired of being stuck in an apartment when he’s in town. Since his employer is stingy with demesnes, and he’s wanted his own for a long time, I was wondering if you could help me nudge the process along.”
Well… the place wasn’t too far away…
(Charles) “Well… I suppose… Can you say who it’s for?”
(Anderson) “He doesn’t like me spreading his name around too much. Says it might compromise his employer’s interests. But you seem pretty trustworthy… promise not to spread it around?”
(Charles) “I won’t!”
(Anderson) “Raymond Cisneros. He works for the Cartier family… which has the wife’s name for some reason. He doesn’t like me asking too much. Anyhow, he’s been wanting to construct his own Manse for… a decade now!”
(Charles) “Oh! We’ve met! That’s all fight then… Oh, I’ve been experimenting! Would you like a power upgrade?”
(Anderson) “Would it make me better at geomancy? And what would it involve?”
(Charles) “Yes it would – and it involves spending a few minutes on a vision-quest to link up with some additional power sources.”
(Anderson) “No harm? No… travel, even? I’m in!”
He quite cheerily undertook the vision-quest, taking his time to do the ascent – and was rather shocked at just how much power Charles was so casually making available… This wasn’t any simple “upgrade”! It was an initiation into an entirely new level of Thaumaturgy with enormous powers backing it… perhaps even on the level of the greater rites!
And Charles was… “experimenting”? And offering it so casually!?
(Anderson, afterwards) “So… somehow I get the feeling you’re more than me, or even Raymond.”
(Charles) “Well… I probably do have more power! But that really isn’t as important as most people seem to think it is.”
(Anderson) “Heck, you feel more powerful than his employers… and their kids. Not them combined, but still! No wonder you know what Yu-Shan is. You’re right, though. It’s how you use it. Shall we head off?”
(Charles) “OK! And I’ll show you how to use the travel aspect along the way!”
(Anderson) “Mind if we take Chester? I don’t like leaving him without a sitter.”
(Charles) “Not at all!”
The dog wagged enthusiastically; he was going for a walk!
Anderson drove a bit abstractedly as he mentally explored some of the aspects and greater ramifications of the “upgrade” – and was VERY pleased – but travel thaumaturgy took care of THAT very nicely.
(Anderson) “You’ve GOT to show Raymond this, Charles. I think he’ll be needing the help soon.”
(Charles) “Well, if he wants… this will take an hour or so, and he will probably need to be here!”
(Anderson) “I’ll let him know then…”
Despite the temptation to use his new powers, Andersen followed the conservative thaumaturgists rule (“use your powers only when necessary”) – and simply placed a call.
Meanwhile, Charles was performing a quick geomantic survey; he’d need one for this… Anderson was quite correct; the nascent demesne was still wood-aspected (which, incidentally, matched Raymond’s aspect), and was coming along somewhat faster than expected; even without interference it would almost certainly be active within a few years. There weren’t any other demesnes – or manses – nearby though, which meant that – even after it awakened – there would be plenty of untapped potential available.
Raymond did turn up very shortly, and concealed his car.
(Raymond) “Good afternoon, Charles and Jacob.” (To Charles) “Is what he told me true? (To Jacob) “Because I know you have no reason to lie, but still… What you said is hard to believe!”
(Charles) “Uhm, I’m not sure what he told you, so I don’t know! You did want a demesne and manse here though didn’t you?”
(Raymond) “I did? Oh wait a minute… Charles, you don’t have to do that…”
(Raymond) “Well, it’s up to him… but I’m not catching you if you faint.”
(Charles) “Well, what sort of manse did you want?”
(Raymond) “It needs to be inconspicuous… and suitable for agriculture. As for what Jacob told me, he said something about a powerful thaumaturgic booster… Er… You can do this without a lot of fuss, right? Howard can handle the social end if people in the know find out, but if the wrong people see…”
(Charles, cheerfully) “OK then!”
He fished his wand out of Elsewhere, pointed straight up – and erected a series of privacy, antidetection, and illusion-concealment wards around the forest, giving them his usual one-century duration for the moment.
(Anderson) “Whaa…?!?! (weakly) I guess you’re initiated too…”
Charles was busy… he swirled his in a circle as if gathering spaghetti, entwining it in the essence-filaments of the nascent demesne – and linking back to his Djinn and their geomantic abilities and engineering artifacts in Aden…
There was no reason not to let things be showy at the moment!
Twin blazing bolts of blue-green essence poured from his eyes, crackled through the wand – and rippled out into the forest’s essence-patterns, running through the ground in a ripple of raw power, causing flowers to burst out, the trees to sprout fruit, small monoliths to rise, and other minor boons of the earth to erupt from the soil as a radius of several hundred feet glowed brilliantly radiant with green and healthy essence.
Per the Geomantic Engineering rules, adding +25 to the difficulty brings the time interval down two steps, so does bringing in the Djinn, and so does his major access to geomantic sensing charms and powers… At six steps down the time interval list for geomancy he’d be working in hours – or one roll per use of his work-accelerating charm. Of course, it was at D32 – requiring a total of about 120 successes – but that was still only a dozen or so rolls away at a total cost of about sixty motes – counting the linking and the senses – and about two minutes…
With the potential demesne now at level five, Charles tapped into his internal manse network to pour relayed power into the demesne and activate it – erupting into radiant corona of essence as the ground trembled, various spirits of the land manifested themselves, and plants ripped their way through the ground to grow riotously.
Anderson gasped, groped for support, and then yanked his hand back from the radiant back of the oak he’d just leaned against. How could any being possibly contain such POWER?!
As the glow in the ground faded, Charles invoked Instant Genius to create the manse design – and, with that in mind, set to work – projecting rippling, crackling, waves and beams of blue light to pull structural elements out of the air, delve tunnels into the earth, pull up more rune-inscribed monoliths, and weave a whirling tornado of aurora around a cluster of trees which were rapidly growing together into a single living tower…
Until thunder cracked, and the manse itself flared momentarily, as the essence flows twined into the final knot – and settled into stability.
(Charles) “So let it be done!”
Charles slapped one hand to the ground to earth the excess energies into the manse pool and end the working…
Normally it would take a thousand years for a single person to build a level five manse. Supernatural laborers are far more effective – although the rules are a bit self-contradictory as to whether Exalts count as supernatural laborers. At least in our games, they do; a Terrestrial Exalt counts as five laborers and a Celestial as ten. Using the Prefabrication Protocols, Dudael’s level-six construction hearthstone, and the power of a Factory-Cathedral sped construction by a factor of 1250 – reducing the base time to a mere month – and Charles’s halved time for crafting reduced to about fifteen days – or about thirty uses of Charles’s labor-performing charm over a three-minute period.
(Charles) “There we go! One manse!”
Anderson fainted, and as promised, Raymond did not catch him. He DID slow the fall with his own magic, though.
Raymond analyzed the Manse as a matter of course – and went pale. He’d been expecting a rank-*** at MOST.
(Raymond) “Uh… I think I need to work on my detection. It says that this is a 5th rank Manse!”
He was in disbelief. Happy disbelief, but disbelief nonetheless.
(Charles) “Why not? There was plenty of potential available.”
(Raymond) “Wow.” (He checked to make sure that Anderson was actually unconscious.) “And here I was thinking you were just some Terrestrial prodigy… You’ve got to come clean with me. Are you a Sidereal? I won’t hurt you if you are… that would actually be HELPFUL.”
(Charles) “Oh, I’m not a Sidereal! I just like to make things!”
(Raymond) “Well, thanks for your honesty there. You sure do make things… and you seem to know a lot about the Sidereals anyway. Do you… know any?”
(Charles) “Oh yes; I make most of them kind of nervous though!”
(Raymond) “That works… damn, you’re already doing so much for me already. Mind doing a little more?”
(Charles) “Why not? Oh, would you like the Thaumaturgy upgrade too?”
(Raymond) “I’m going to be in your debt for-yes. Depending on how what I’m going to ask you for goes, I might need it.”
Charles cheerfully ran him through the Winding Way as well.
(Raymond) “This will be VERY helpful. I can see why Anderson was so excited.”
(Charles) “Oh good! Most of the testers opinions have been positive so far!”
(Raymond) “Anyway… remember when I showed you that symbol back at Beech Street? The one connected to the Sidereals?”
Oh yes! He’d been interested in the Journeys symbol!
(Raymond) “Okay… about twenty years ago, Howard and I were…” (He checked the wards and found them quite secure.) “Starbreakers. He was Sidereal-hunting in an attempt to impress his father, while I was doing it because they were the ones who took me in after the awakening. It was violent, but we were sure the Sidereals were a threat. I mean, these guys had martial arts and sorcery that struck fear into the experienced operatives, right?”
(Charles) “Well, they do – but it’s kind of pointless; they’re very busy anyway and there aren’t very many – but the number is fixed; when you kill one, it simply creates another!”
(Raymond) “Which would explain why, most of the time, they turned out to be lesser ones, more like me than Howard. But still, even those guys were well-trained. The point I’m getting to is… why beat around the bush any longer? I think I’m related to one of the Mercury guys Howard and me ran into, and I want to say I’m sorry.”
(Charles) “Well, most of them have cell phones now…”
(Raymond) “Thing is, the mission twenty years ago was to neutralize him. We didn’t. When I looked into his face, I couldn’t do it. Howard still charged forward, of course. He’s always been impulsive… I can see where Rachel got THAT from. (He chuckled a bit.) We were in the jungles of Cambodia. Howard called back from Panama. Anyway, can you see why I might want to send a message before trying to find his number?”
(Charles) “Well, I can certainly pass one along!… Are you OK Mr Anderson?”
(Raymond) “Thanks. Tell him Howard and I are willing to talk, okay? Oh yeah… let me wake him up.”
(Charles) “Are you all right there?”
(Anderson) “What happened . . . I remember a tremendous light show and a Manse rising out of the ground. Oh dear, I wasn’t dreaming, was I?”
He looked at the Manse – and then stared at Charles.
(Anderson) “Well… master, do you like the Manse?”
(Raymond) “It’s all right.” (His smile betrayed his true feelings.)
(Charles) “The wards should keep it pretty well hidden for the next century; after that they’ll need renewing if they’re still needed!”
(Raymond) “You’ll have to do something for Charles in return, getting him to do this for me!”
And Anderson nodded and smiled weakly, and was no doubt wondering what HE could do…
(Charles) “Oh it’s not a big deal! It’s not like it takes that long!”
(Raymond) “If you say so… anyway, this is for you.”
He produced a sealed and warded envelope from his briefcase. And over telepathy…
(Raymond, mentally) “I spent a lot of time and effort on this message. Careful with it, now!”
Hm. It was addressed to “Mercury Exalt with the Gates.”
Raymond was torn between staying – he knew Charles well enough to assume that he had included amenities – and departing, but he didn’t want to take any chances.
(Raymond) “Mind if I take Jacob home? I’m not sure how much more magic he can take today. And do you need a ride?”
(Charles) “I’ll just go back through a gate… Oh, I installed a stargate in the manse; there’s a list of coordinates for habitable planets there; if you ever need somewhere to stash things, any one of them should work nicely!”
Anderson nearly passed out again.
(Raymond) “Wait… stargates!?”
(Charles) “Only one! And you do need coordinates… but you never know when access to an extra planet will come in handy!”
(Raymond) “Next you’ll tell me I can walk into Yu-Shan with no one the wiser…”
(Charles) “I didn’t set it for there; it’s default is what I think is the current version of the old Elemental Pole of Wood. For Yu-Shan we’d have to use a different gate!”
(Raymond) “Wow… I’m going to take Anderson home now, okay? We can discuss that later. Thanks for the help, though.”
(Charles) “You’re welcome!”
Raymond drove off, with a VERY confused Anderson in the back – and his dog…
Charles headed to Dudael… He’d only be a little late, and he hadn’t used any vacation time yet!
Production was going on as normal, and Catherine was monitoring things alongside the usual group of notable gods.
(Catherine) “Nice to have you back, boss.”
(Charles) “Thank you for running things so well on short notice! And nice to see you!”
(Catherine) “Hey, it’s the least I can do. Everything to your liking?”
(Charles) “Oh yes! And we’ve cleared the entire backlog too…”
(Catherine) “Who would’ve ever thought it…” (She looked at Charles meaningfully for a moment.) “So, going to be busy after work, too?”
(Charles, sighing) “Probably! I’ve been drafted for question-answering duty!”
(Catherine) “Huh. Well heck. What about?”
(Charles) “Well… Reforestation, and some stuff to do with dimensions, and gateways, and lots of other arcana.”
(Catherine) “Sounds complex. Tell me when you’ve got a moment after work . . . some friends of mine want to talk to you.”
(Charles) “Oh dear! More questions? Well, it might as well be today…”
(Catherine) “Sure? There’s going to be quite a few of them.”
(Charles) “Why not! I can always use a conversation piece…”
(Catherine) “Okay then… meet me after the shift.”
There were numerous other calls during the shift. The questions were mounting. There were Godly parents asking about the Lesser Exaltations, a supervisor from one of the other factory-cathedrals wanting to chat, and a couple of Sidereals asking about the installation in the Sahara.
The parents got Lytek’s general speech on the lesser exaltations and a bit about what they do did and (Especially!) their limitations. As for the Supervisor…
(Dafera of the Clanging Gears) “I heard rumors about Dudael’s productivity, and was wanting to have a chat with you over it.”
(Charles) “Oh. How to increase things?”
(Dafera) “If you wouldn’t mind.”
(Charles) “Well… I don’t know if my methods will be of use to you or even compatible with your own – but we could talk. Maybe after the current project? That will be a month or two.”
Didn’t most deities view that as a very short time?
(Dafera) “Er… that is awfully fast, but certainly! I can make time for it.”
(Charles) “Well, if later would be better, whenever it’s convenient for you!”
(Dafera) “Why not three months?”
Well he didn’t have to worry about THAT for awhile!
He thought about bringing a calm, superior, cat to the meeting with the Sidereals, just so there would be someone there who could out-superior them, but settled on a wriggling puppy to contrast with calm superiority instead!
One of the Kickaha decided to volunteer for the laugh – one of the pack hunters who was a bit curious about Yu-Shan anyway.
The Sidereals wanted to… increase the manses water output – subtly.
(Charles) “Erm… I think it’s running about as fast as it can now! I don’t think Elzeard would have wanted to turn it down!”
(Almata Sandovar, Chosen of Secrets) “That’s a shame, Charles. The region could use more water.”
Charles checked with Elzeard – but only confirmed what he’d already pretty well known; Elzeard knew his stuff, and it was running at optimum for reforestation and climate change purposes.
(Charles) “Hm. I think it’s fairly well optimized now? Why overdo it?”
(Dead-Eye Garnet, Chosen of Endings) “Well, it was worth a shot. Sorry, Almata.”
(Ms. Sandovar) “Thank you for your time anyhow, Charles.”
(Charles) “You’re welcome!”
Hm… According to Elzeard turning up the water supply rate would oversaturate the ground and interfere with soil formation, thus causing problems with reforestation and growing nondesert plants. It wouldn’t necessarily be a big deal though; it would just slow things up marginally. It wouldn’t have any blatant political complications though… Doubtless a part of some subtle maneuver directed at something else entirely. Sidereals DID work that way.
She’d just have to come up with something else!
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice LXIX – Where Have All The Flowers Gone? (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice LXVIII – Getting Down To Terrestrial Firma from Emergence Campaign Weblog (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- [Emergence Campaign] The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice Session IL — The Sahara Sea (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice LXVII – Science and Sorcery (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice LXVI – Science and Sorcery (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice LVII – Aikiko’s Quest (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice LII – Lytek’s Inspection (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice LIII – Dun Shunkaha (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles Of Heavenly Artifice LIX – Explanations and Confusions (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice Session XLIII – A Few Quiet Moments (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice LI – The House At The End Of Creation (ruscumag.wordpress.com)