The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice XCIII – Dreams Of The Elders

English: Peanut butter cookie with a chocolate...

Sweet Dreams!

At Dudael Catherine was looking a bit concerned about something.

(Charles) “Is something wrong?”

(Catherine, whispering) “Uh… Does anything feel… fluid around here to you?”

Charles had to pause for a moment – but nothing felt any more liquid than usual…

(Charles) “Huh! Does it? That might be the Veilward working; a Nocturnal might well feel that!”

(Catherine) “Huh! I don’t think you told me about that; some kind of hiding measure?”

(Charles) “It scatters attempts to probe, assault, or otherwise penetrate Dudael against the will of the hearthstone bearer across dimensions – usually leading to one where it’s vacant and deserted!”

Catherine looked thoughtful for a bit… That might be something to experiment with if Charles would allow it. She couldn’t do anything with the actual geomancy of course, but a Charm…

(Catherine) “Maybe I could do something with that eventually. Nothing permanent, but if there was a possibility of experimentation…”

(Charles) “I suppose we could look into it! It might work for you!”

(Catherine) “I’d appreciate it! Anything to keep me busy during these off periods.”

(Charles) “Certainly! And there are lots of other projects if you’re REALLY bored!

(Catherine, happily taking a copy of the list) “I’ll have to look into that sometime!… Uhm… How does the Veilward work anyway? Outside of the basic effect, of course!”

Well, there was no one better around to explain the working of a geomantically powered artifact than Charles – and in a manse he was attuned to yet – but it was primordial workmanship and he pretty much went past what she understood of the discipline in the first few sentences.

(Catherine, sighing) “OK, you lost me at the geomancy, but it’s a REALLY powerful artifact mounted in this place? Checking the structure sometime will be worth a try!”

(Charles) “Oh certainly!”

The rest of the shift proceeded normally, with minor artifacts being made for the stockpiles. At the moment it was Worksuits (very light armor with lots of practical utility functions and some environmental support; Charles figured that he might need some for the colonies!), Light Plasguns (adjustable flame projectors, useful for everything from lighting cigarettes to heating forges, welding, metal-cutting, lighting, cooking, beacons – and even very short range combat), Universal Tools, and Personal Navigation Devices.

Catherine very much approved! All too often the gods forgot about utilitarian devices… it was nice having a boss who understood!

That actually left Charles with a little free time before bed… He was almost ready to start in with the usual planning until he dropped – but the Coatl and Inukami were pleasantly surprised when he thought about the overstressed Sidereals and actually went to bed at a reasonable hour for once…

The pastry ship sailed, kicking up a bow wave of chocolate liqueur that was ridden by the gingerbread dolphins while – off to the sides – the nougat volcanoes hurled hot lava cakes high into the sky and the tantalizing scent of more substantial lands of food wafted gently over the horizon… “Land Ho” shouted the cotton-candy teddy as Peanut Butter Mountain (with it’s occasional chocolate rocks) loomed up. Charles rode the ski-lift to the top (inventing some non-sticky peanut butter skis to come down with along the way) and watched the jelly whales swimming through the peanut butter, spouting their various flavors to form shimmering pools of jelly beneath the bread-and-cookie trees!

Huh! He didn’t usually get this kind of dream unless he went to bed really REALLY hungry! Still, it was quite fun dodging the trees, the topping-screes, and the gumdrop boulders!

Wait! He was pretty sure that HE wasn’t this hungry – so that meant that someone was sharing his dream and that “hunger” either figured pretty largely in their lives or… HAD figured largely!

Charles started looking around for Orchid.

After dodging a particularly violent spout of jelly from a whale, he spotted Orchid in a sugar rock alcove. She was waving – so he skied on over!

(Charles) “Allo!”

(Orchid) “Ah, Aden! (Gratefully) Thank you so much for all you’ve done for me. My boss has finally decided to talk to you. He’s farther in. Before that, though… (She looked mildly uncomfortable) Thing is, he wants a sample of your Essence.”

(Charles) “all the kinds or just my personal type?”

(Orchid) “Every bit. He wants to make sure you’re actually a Mighty One, and he’s been at this A LOT longer than me.”

Charles was interested in the results of that analysis as well; he wasn’t at all sure any longer.

(Orchid) “Here’s the other thing… our default method for this hurts. It can hurt a lot. So if you could come up with another way… I mean, you helped me a lot! I don’t want to hurt you and I don’t think the boss does either.”

Gothmug twitched in Aden! It wasn’t like he hadn’t set a few Balgrogs to monitoring Charle’s dreams – at least since he’d invited a deiphage to meet him there! Still, at least the boy was making up an Essence Sampler rather than inviting a Deiphage to feed on him! It was all from his personal geomancy, so there was no reason why he couldn’t just bottle some…

It was a lot of bottles – but Orchid had patience. Between how helpful Charles had been and his “diplomatic immunity” she REALLY didn’t want to hurt him…

(Orchid) “Okay, take those in. He said this was going to be between him and you.”

Charles cheerfully did so… further into the alcove the rock candy remained, but took on a pale, bluish radiance, awfully similar to the lower levels of Yu-Shan’s underground. There was still some sticky peanut butter though… Well there was nothing wrong with that!

The path ended in a room with nothing in it but an adamant sphere, hooked to the rock candy through adamant tubing. The Old Realm characters for “10” were engraved upon it. Inside the sphere was some sort of black fluid – and inside that floated a vague humanoid shape.

(Charles, as cheerily as always) “Allo!”

(Voice from the sphere.) “You must be Aden Shining Dream… odd, you don’t look drained. Did you two find another way?”

(Charles) “I bottled up essence from various points… There’s lots anyway!”

(Voice) “Could you slip it into the tube labeled ‘Analysis?'”

Charles did so – and continued dropping in bottles for some time, given that there were samples of Elemental, Autochtohonian (a full set), Underworld, Primal (in several types), Wyld, Shinamaic (a full set), Lunar, Solar, Sidereal, Abyssal, Divine, Raksha, Nocturnal, and rather a lot of Adenic essence in there!

The liquid inside the sphere glowed and bubbled wildly for several minutes – and it’s level decreased slightly. The occupant sat silently for a few moments – and then turned towards Charles.

(Voice) “Fascinating… you’re attuned to so many Manses and artifacts that not even I can analyze them all. I can say one thing for certain, however; you are not a Mighty One – Yet.”

(Charles) “Aw! I was kind of hoping that you would know!”

(Voice) “I said yet. I… I never thought I would encounter an embryonic one. You just lack the fetich and the forging of your spirit to a single guiding principle. There’s also a hidden area I can’t quite parse. What is that?”

(Charles) “Maybe the nocturnal segments? They like to hide!”

(Voice) “Nocturnal… I have never heard of it. Odd, I’ve eaten all sorts of things!”

(Charles) “They’re new too!”

(Voice) “Oh! How dreadfully rude of me! I am Ten Peach, junior Overseer of the Eastern Petal! I… I haven’t offended you, have I?”

(Charles) “No! Why would I be offended?”

(Ten Peach) “It’s just that Mighty Ones can be eccentric – and, while I saw none of the destructive eccentricities in you, I might have missed something. Is there anything I can do to make you more comfortable? I wasn’t sure what you wanted, so I went with a default merger of our two dreamspaces.”

(Charles) “It’s fine! Dreams are kind of random anyway usually!”

That seemed to produce some mild confusion – but Ten Peach got over it.

(Ten Peach) “Please, tell me more about this procedure you’ve done for Orchid.”

(Charles) “Oh! Well, that was simple! I set her up with a sort of limited multipresence, so that she’s present “in” several manses at the same time at all times. I have plenty of manses anyway!”

(Ten Peach) “Enough to supply all of us, if what she said was true… Perhaps even my colleagues and superiors.”

(Charles) “Well, if there aren’t enough already, there’s plenty of room for more manses!”

(Ten Peach) “I must feel this for myself. Would you care to give me a link?”

(Charles) “OK!” (And the shining blue-gold orb – the setup that would provide a link to three planetary manses primarily designed for city-support – came out again).

(Ten Peach) “Oh dear. One moment, please, Nascent One…”

The sphere started draining. Oddly enough though, it wasn’t draining through the pipes; it seemed to be draining into whoever was inside – much like a sponge absorbed water. After all the liquid drainsed Charles could see the occupant more clearly: a hairless humanoid made of faintly luminous adamant, with eyes of orichalcum and claws of obsidian. He was clearly male and wore white ambrosial clothing – trousers and a tunic with the number “10″ on it. Part of the sphere disappeared and he gingerly climbed out.

(Ten Peach) “I apologize. I’m so used to being hooked up that I forget I can leave in my dreams.”

(Charles) “Hm. Does the symbolism really matter when we’re in a shared dream? It must be pretty deeply habitual there…”

Ten Peach examined the sphere, but – unlike Orchid – he was noticeably sniffing and tasting… Then he went in; Gothmug is watching him right away – and reported an Essence level of around eight (and that Ten Peach was absolutely befuddled by the concept of outdoors). Nevertheless, he went through the attunement ritual. Then, of course, he was back in the rock candy cave…

(Charles) “How’s that?”

(Ten Peach, with some shock) “The Essence … this will speed up our timetable drastically.”

(Charles) “Oh! You might know… If I bump Yu-Shans power inputs back to or above Age-Of-Glory levels what will happen?”

It took a few minutes for Ten Peach to respond; he appeared to be savoring the taste of the incoming Essence. Nonetheless, he did answer eventually.

(Ten Peach) “Oh dear… that depends. Which portion of the circuits will you be enhancing? The pure, or the compromised? Ouch … my Destiny Sponsorship. But that was a question that had to be answered.”

(Charles) “Oh, I was going to link the place up to another 96 planets by adding a couple of additional gates next to the existing ones around the edge!”

(Ten Peach, puzzledly) “What’s a planet? I remember SOMETHING about that from long ago. I do apologize, it’s fuzzy.”

(Charles) “Ah, I should have expected that!” (He pulled up a map of old creation and ran it through an animated display of the reshaping, showed how old creation (mostly the blessed isle and the deep earth pole) became the earth, and then showed the expansion – and then a view of other planets, suns, and galaxies.

(Charles) “Creation is MUCH larger than it used to be! And a lot of the original gates are all messed up…”

(Ten Peach) “That explains many things – why the blasted lions closed some gates, among them. Would it be all right if I shared this information with my colleagues?”

(Charles) “Oh sure! I’ll package up a presentation!… Here! It’s a dream-artifact, so it will manifest in reality when you want it!”

(Ten Peach, bowing at the waist) “Thank you, Nascent One.”

He took the minor dream artifact, after – again – sniffing it.

(Ten Peach) “As for your additional gates, if you do it that way… it would deal with the reduced input somewhat. Depending on where you put them, the coverage of pure or compromised areas would increase by half a percentage point. With the power you are capable of, you might manage a full percentage point.”

(Charles) “Well, you were already set up for some expansion anyway!”

(Ten Peach) “Quite so. I hope to see the percentages at maximum in a few millennia.”

(Charles) “Reverting it back to how it was before the Incarnae moved in?”

(Ten Peach, with some mild displeasure when Charles mentioned the Incarnae) “Well, yes… as it was.”

(Charles) “I don’t suppose you’ll want to tell me what it did then? There are some things I wouldn’t want to start just yet!”

(Ten Peach) “No one has asked me since the Occupation! First of all, what have you been told about that period?” (And suddenly, modest ambrosial chairs appeared; Charles recognized the style from Ninety-Six Lotus’s bunker.

Charles gladly provided the five versions of what was going on then, and how the Incarane moved in that he’d heard already…

(Ten Peach) “I see. Well, Orchid did mention that you controlled Dudael… one of the few approved structures in here at the time… What you were told about our ultimate superior, the White Ram was true; a small army of Solars and Lunars (the resentment was palpable) killed him. The first we heard of it was when there was panic at the Jade Pleasure Dome. But that’s not what you were really asking about, was it? I believe you were asking which quarters we had an interest in.” (He looked haunted for a moment.) “And I would rather not discuss that time.”

(Charles) “Well no! I think that Yu-Shan had some definite purposes at the beginning; but I coudn’t stay long enough at the testing period to see what. Since powering up will mean restoring the manses so that their remains don’t blow up, I’d be restoring those and then upping the power levels – and I was wondering what it might start doing; it would be very awkward if it tried to restore the original design of creation or something! Or if it woke up and started flexing with no warning or some such!”

(Ten Peach) “I assume you were planning to reconstruct every Manse in Yu-Shan then? Nearly all of them are unapproved; they have no effect on Creation’s geomancy whatsoever. But there are a few you would want to avoid giving powers that affect Creation. (he smiled) Now, waking up… that is what we need to achieve 100% purity for.”

(Charles) “Well, I’d be restoring their original functions anyway…

(Ten Peach) “Most of those Manses were temporary works, bought into existence by me, my colleagues, and our Operators. They were needed to stabilize the structure. Once it was up and her Essence was flowing back and forth, we could take them down. I believe several Mighty Ones then constructed their prototype demesnes on those sites.”

Ten Peach was relaxing somewhat. It had been a long time since he’d spoken to ANYONE who wasn’t one of his subordinates.

(Charles) “So, some of the original manses were the channels that allowed Gaia to infuse herself into creation?”

(Ten Peach) “I saw her merge with Yu-Shan, her elemental power in full flow. Some of the Operators failed to listen to me and couldn’t survive the raw Essence. I had to lecture them and review proper conduct afterwards. But it was magnificent as her power flooded downward. What does it look like, living in a world in so much flux? Ah, I got poetic there. Yes, there were five of those temporary Manses. The Emerald Mother attuned to them, and she never regained those motes. As far as I know, they would still be in Creation.”

Hm! So the original Creation-shaping and Channeling manses had allowed Gaia to infuse herself into creation – and then had been taken down. The current manses – both damaged and functioning – were pretty much irrelevant.

Charles gladly shared some experiences of what Creation was like – and the fact that it needed renewing as well, and what was being done about that.

(Ten Peach) “That… would help with the imbalances up here, to be certain… I cannot believe that it has gotten so big! The blasted raksha must have had her in a corner for her to attempt the process alone.”

(Charles) “I think it went a bit out of control!”

(Ten Peach) “Yes, because she had none of her siblings to assist! They made existence together – and with them imprisoned in Lord Theion…”

(Charles) “Well, that needs fixing too!”

(Ten Peach) “Please, tell them we need help! We’re well on our way to recovery, but with the lions buzzing about above, we Tenders are vastly outnumbered. There’s only so much we can do with all that clutter, too!”

(Charles) “Oh, with your Destiny Sponsorship out of action would you like a Behemoth Cloak too? I can stash one somewhere for you to pick up if you’d like!”

(Ten Peach) “Thank you, Nascent One, but my Operator’s vestments will suffice. But if you would assist a disgraced Tender with a problem?”

(Charles) “What’s needed?”

(Ten Peach sighed) “Nine Grape, the senior Overseer of this Petal and my partner, has been uncommunicative for the past year. We were speaking monthly before that. I’ve sent members of my Operator team in to ask why, but her team has been turning them away. All signs indicate that she is alive. I want to know if she’s planning something stupid; she has been impatient with our progress for the past millennium or so. I believe you have met Ninety-Six Lotus? He is one of her Operators. I hate to ask such a small thing of you, but you are a Nascent One, and she might listen.”

(Charles) “Why not? She might be the one who wanted that artifact then…”

(Ten Peach) “Artifact? What artifact?”

Charles cheerily provided the specifications.

(Ten Peach) “Oh dear! What is she thinking? That will have the lions on her for certain! And she is supposed to notify me of such modifications, even if they would be beneficial!”

(Charles) “Well, I shall drop in to see her!”

(Ten Peach) “Please, Nascent One! If we lost an Overseer…” (He looked frightened.)