It wasn’t all that long before the Celestial Lions started to realize that Charles had quietly diverted them into talking about themselves and deiphages and manses without ever actually answering their questions – and they weren’t even sure if it was on purpose or just because he listened so attentively that you just couldn’t stop talking…
Still, the problem was big enough that they couldn’t be cross about it – and he had been showing them the details of that enormous geomantic project.
After they’d satisfied themselves about that, the question of “meeting” those Devas came up again; they’d never really spoken to a Primordial subsoul, although some of them hung around the reforming point of one every day.
(Xiaoxiao) “Well, I want to keep looking at these, but you mentioned something about meeting with these Primordial subsoul friends of yours.”
(Charles) “Well, if you want to! Did you want to do it now?”
(Chengdu) “We’ve got to be at the Igarka Gate in a few hours. Now would be good.”
(Charles) “OK! (And he cheerily opened his usual gate on a convenient wall). This way then!”
(Xiaoxiao) “People and their gates . . . always a security problem. Not like I can do too much about that!”
(Charles) “Well, this one is pretty secure on the other end!”
The Lions did some checking using their new artifact Essence senses – it was only prudent – but went through once they’d determined that Charles wasn’t pranking them. Not that Charles would – but they were habitually paranoid, even in the face of absurd amounts of benevolence.
Charles used the usual arrival spot – overlooking the singing forest and the sea of chaos and the villages and the rest – and there were be the usual guards/on-call staff; a couple of Baalgrogs, a pair of Noldor playing chess and having lunch, and a modest pack of couple of Kickaha having wrestling matches…
The Lions were impressed. They’d heard of people bringing pocket dimensions into the city before, but not of this size! It had been a while since either Chengdu or Xiaoxiao had left Yu-Shan – but they were they were on their best behavior too… Charles might be a child, but he was an insanely powerful one whom they should not get on the bad side of . . . if he even had one.
Charles took them to see Malinda the Diviner, Mistress of the Aether, the Elsewhere Voyager, the Eighth Soul of Aden – and her peanut-butter-chocolate cookies, which were the best reason ever for visiting!
Celestial Lions generally preferred meat – but it was hard to make a meat cookie, and they were very polite. Xiaoxiao and Chendu ate them.
Even for a carnivore they were pretty tasty…
(Xiaoxiao) “Ma’am, Charles has told me that you were helping him and Lord Lytek, Daimyo of Exaltation, with a project. What can you tell me about that?”
(Malinda) “Why certainly dear! It was just a little energy-routing analysis. You’re surely aware that a lot of things have been going rather wrong recently!”
(Xiaoxiao) “A lot so, ma’am. Can you tell me what you were analyzing?”
(Malinda) “Now that I promised not to tell! I’m sure you understand that, you’ve never told on what your friend So’lang got up to with young Lariessia have you? And it’s been a long time on that one!”
From back before Xizoxiao had moved to Yu-Shan actually.
(Xiaoxiao) “How in the blazes… you’re GOOD! Anyway… a promise to Lord Lytek himself, or Charles?”
(Malinda) “To Lord Lytek! We generally don’t need to promise Charles anything.”
(Xiaoxiao) “I see…”
Extrapolating from Lytek’s known behavior and habits, he figured that it was something serious indeed. Obviously it involved Exalts or it wouldn’t involve Lytek – but that left a lot of territory (most of it very high powered and VERY dangerous) open!
And if it involved Charles… It almost certainly involved either making or fixing something – or both. There were many things that even he was not cleared to know that much about.
(Malinda) “So then… Going to take them to see some of the others Charles? Gothmug is doing a poetry recital, Elzeard is teaching a class, Uthorian is having more Chancels made, and Chaffri is off working on gates.”
(Chengdu) “Huh! I actually heard about Elzeard! Some of the gods in the Sahara say he’s changing things there. (Looking at Charles) “I’d heard he was associated with you, but not like this!”
(Charles) “Not like what?”
(Chengdu) “Being in here… from the reports, he built a pretty powerful Manse. He’s a soul too, I take it?”
(Charles) “Well yes – the fourteenth.”
(Xiaoxiao) “Out of?”
(Charles) “Well, twenty-four at the moment!”
(Xiaoxiao) “So, when are you going to build another Creation?” (The tone was joking – but only mildly so.)
(Charles) “This one needs lots of fixing first! And there are lots more too…”
He hadn’t really admitted that they were aspects of him – but the Celestial Lions were inhumanly skilled investigators, and had figured that out quickly enough.
Both of them wanted to speak to Elzeard, since he was available.
(Chengdu) “So you’re Elzeard! I heard you’re healing the infertility in the Sahara!”
Since Elzeard had not been involved, the questioning was far more casual – largely about whether or not he planned anything close to any Celestial gates. They wanted to know in case things didn’t go as planned and he accidentally tripped an alert – although they knew that that was nigh-impossible with thaumaturgy.
Perhaps fortunately, he wasn’t up to anything even remotely comparable to what Charles was already planning – which was a definite relief.
(Charles) “Was that everything you needed to know guys?”
(Xiaoxiao) “Reports would probably do for everyone else, I think. Regardless, I’ll have to get this up to my superiors in the Corps. I think from what we’ve gathered, the fact-checking will pan out, and this’ll be the last we hear of this.”
(Chengdu) “You never know.” (He shrugs.) “We’ll see… and thanks for listening to our history lesson, Charles.”
(Charles) “It was very interesting and is likely to be important! Thank you very much!”
Both Lions had pretty much reached their conclusions… The boy might or might not be a “genuine” primordial – that kind of determination could be left to specialists – but he was pretty definitely a Solar who’d decided to rebuild himself into a faux “Primordial of Helpfulness”. Still, if that was what he wanted to be… Solars had gone in for far crazier projects over the ages – and many or most of those projects had been far more destructive. As long as his aims didn’t collide with their aim of ensuring settled Yu-Shan’s safety – and it certainly didn’t look like they would – there was no reason to fuss too much over it. There was probably going to be SOME fussing when the gates went up, but honestly, before tracking, who was going to know he did it? And he was working with Gaia – who DID have the authority to make changes if she felt that creation needed it. Who were they to oppose the last active Primordial in existence?
The Lions returned to Xiaoxiao’s office to compile some paperwork – and Charles headed back to getting the elemental balance manses planned and created…. He’d need someone to give them to too!
Well, that would depend a bit on where it would be best to put them. Geomancy was more important than an exact tetrahedron. The Fire Pole would offer massive amounts of free energy, mostly in the form of electrical power, if he simply channeled the plasma stream… He’d have to include some way to distribute it. Air… Ah, well, if he took advantage of the expanded scale, and hooked those powers into the dragon lines… He could either set up interstellar communications or – perhaps – simply bestow a few basic skills on a global basis. Water… Hm. Healing, metamorphosis… Ah! Let people – or at least the Mortals who would mostly be the ones influenced – to change themselves with a lot less work! It would make it easier for them to learn stuff! That would definitely make a good project for improving things and it would work nicely with the earth-centric universe…
It looked like his best locations would be… Argentia, Botswana, and Guam, in a very rough tetrahedron. And he DID know someone – Madame Barbosa – in Brazil who might like the Water Manse! It would make it easier to breed in desired traits. If she really needed to do any commuting… well she could afford some plane trips and might already own one!
Madama Barbosa was actually… rather worried by that question! That was the kind of the thing she was worried about Charles doing there!
(Madame Barbosa) “Couldn’t you put an attunement lock on it?”
(Charles, puzzledly) “To keep people from using it? It just makes it easier to improve and change things, it doesn’t force it to happen.”
(Madame Barbosa) “Well… it’s not like most thaumaturges are even capable of that level of lifeweaving, and most of the entities I know of with powers capable of sudden mutation wouldn’t spot that much of a difference anyway.”
(Charles, now enlightened) “Oh! It mostly helps with self-development! People wanting to – say – diet, or work out, or study, or harden their fists by martial arts training, and so on will have an easier time!”
(Madame Barbosa) “Well! If it’s something like that, it’s not like it will encourage things that wouldn’t have happened without it… But how does it affect magic? You said that it would make it easier to breed my horses.”
(Charles) “Well… it should make it about 25% easier to make changes with magic too – affecting most of South America most likely!”
Madam Barbosa considered… It WAS going to be a Water Manse, not at all able to be traced back to her, and not terribly harmful in any case. The power-balances could be delicate, but this didn’t really look likely to upset them. Was there really any reason to object?
(Madam Barbosa) “Argentina you said? Well, let me know when it’s up then!. That way I can send people to help with the privacy wards if you need them!”
(Charles) “Probably next week! I put one up linked to the old Elemental Pole of Wood in North America and I need to get the other three up to balance things!”
(Madam Barbosa) “What does that one do? And what do the others do?
(Charles) “Well, that one puts out a constant outflow of wood energies, and increased plant growth, and crops, and healing and such. The air manse will encourage learning skills and abilities, while the fire manse will provide lots of free energy! Earth’s been kind of isolated for quite a while… The elemental energy levels for everything but Earth Essence on Earth – and for all the essences beyond the Earth – are unnaturally low!”
Wait, the boy was SERIOUS about tapping into the legendary elemental poles? It was fairly well-known among Exalted Thaumaturges that the Dragon Lines weakened drastically once you got off the Earth’s surface – but was he planning to pour enough energy into them to affect the entire globe – or even beyond it? Such power sources… might be serious targets once somebody found them!
(Madam Barbosa) “What were you thinking about for the security setup?”
(Charles) “Uhm… Security… Well, I was sort of putting them into adjacant pocket dimensions and providing security forces. They’re useful places of course, but the primary purpose is to feed elemental essence into earth’s dragon line network to help restore the old power levels.”
Well, she could get behind that… Besides, the boys visit to her Manse on the plains had made it clear that he was powerful enough to handle himself – and the way he’d casually extended her life went a long ways beyond that! But, a week to build THREE Manses of what sounded like maximum power? Such projects too decades! Sorcery? Manse Seeds? But still… rank-5 manses?
(Madam Barbosa) “Charles dear? How are you constructing manses so fast? It seems like this particular project should take decades!”
(Charles) “Well… you reshape the local geomancy, design the manse, and erect it. There’s no real reason why it should have to take very long. I could show you if you like!”
Madam Barbosa very much wanted to see that – and asked Joao Romero along since Charles had no objections.
As with the creation of the Yggdrasil, Charles first erected the Wards, then spun his fingers and wand through weaving coils of mist and swirling spray – gathering links to the essence-nodes of the demesne before pouring out a shimmering pool of blue-green essence to soak into the areas essence-patterns like cleansing floods. From the resulting breathtaking purity, and the essence of the now-blooming demesne, springs and fountains of water and rarer substances burst forth – running over the rocks and earth of the area in a vibrant explosion of life and health. An even greater surging wave of power poured into the area from Charles’s geomantic network – and the reworked demesne burst into radiant life.
Madam Barbosa gasped… the power reserves alone! It was… no wonder that the boy was thinking on global terms; what lesser project could possibly absorb such energies?
As the glow in the earth and waters faded, Charles invoked Instant Genius to create the manse design and set to work – projecting rippling, crackling, waves and beams of blue-green light to pull stony structural elements from the earth, to channel streams, to pull up rune-inscribed pillars of unmelting ice, and to weave a tornado of essence, earth, and water into a tower of eternal ice, water-polished stone and moss, and trickling water.
(Charles, earthing the remaining energies) “So let it be done!”
(Madame Barbosa, after taking a few moments to recover) “Charles, even Joao can’t do THAT.”
(Charles) “I made better tools than he has!”
Joao Romero was still… still staring at what Charles had just done. He hadn’t quite recovered from the shock yet. Sure, he knew the Celestial Circle spell for quick Manse raising, but it didn’t work that fast – and it required plans!
(Romero) “Um. So… do you do this often?”
(Charles) “Well… Usually about once or twice a day! There are lots of things that need making!”
Mr Romero couldn’t really think of a response to that level of casualness about it. He didn’t waste much time on it.
(Romero) “How does it work? I can tell this is some form of geomantic shaping, but is it trainable?”
(Charles) “Well… you need internal geomancy and artifact-equipped earthshaping assistants, and lots of geomantic energy, and some time-manipulation, and some factory-cathedrals, and a bunch of other tools! And a way to carry it all along! But internal geomancy usually allows that without too much trouble!”
Internal geomancy. The boy had said something about that before – but was he really serious? They’d… have to keep him talking; it would obviously be easy enough to get him to give them a tour of the place and tell them all about it!
And Charles was, indeed, delighted to do so.
- [Emergence Campaign] The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice IC — The Lions Of Times Long Past (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
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- The Chronicles Of Heavenly Artifice Session XCIV – E.Z. Phone Home (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles Of Heavenly Artifice Session XCV – Flowing Waters (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice XCVIII – The Ri’kienthi (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice XCVII – Button Mashing Not Allowed! (ruscumag.wordpress.com)