Charles arrived at the ceremony for Gri-Fel and Terapishimn very formally dressed – at least for a child – although it was a modest ceremony for a modest position. He got a few odd looks from the less well-informed, but he was on the guest list, and – while he was checked over by security as he entered the chamber – it VERY politely done and not at all intrusive. He… was apparently becoming known as a powerful and mysterious figure… The chamber itself had been decorated to simulate the environment around Arcosanti – and the guest list was short: Terapishim and Gri-Fel’s friends, some gods currying favors, and Pure Frothing Delight and his terrifying minions, who were enduring floating around in their master with only the occasional quack. Gri-Fel and Terapishim were meditating upon the position on a dais in the rear. Soon, their new supervisor would approach, and they would sign the contract. Who knew what changes would occur to make them more suitable for the joint position?
And the buffet was superb, although not exactly suited to a youngster’s tastes! Still, it was easy enough to sneak some peanut butter and jelly out of his pack…
Perhaps fortunately, gods rarely changed all THAT much for a new position (it was often mostly cosmetic) – and Arcosanti was about to become far more important than it had been… If Charles had anything to say about it, it was about to become headquarters for several hundred major entities dedicated to trade, and to it’s protection and prosperity, and to the guardianship of Creation – and major gates to a dozen worlds were set up to open up in the area around it relatively soon. As the Inukami, Djinn, and other operatives set up the (mostly) underground, efficient, and ecologically-friendly rail systems, and the secondary supply and gate-defense manses, it would become the center of trade and contact for a dozen prosperous worlds and the staffs of THEIR supporting manses.
With the arrival of Redstone Runner, the Region Goddess of the North American Southwest, resplendent in her elaborately woven robes of the regional rock formations, things got down to business… The contract was signed. Other than immediate and palpable relief… Gri Fel became just a bit more wooly, and Terapishim’s beard took on the fine texture of Arcosanti’s local sand. It was still very impressive though! Even the goddess admired it – and there was quiet and respectful applause.
Charles cheerfully joined in! Setting up the central manse would be a good celebration present, even if he did have to tell the pesky bureau what he was up to…
He stuck around to talk after the ceremony of course!
(Gri-Fel, examining the thin layer of wool all over his body) “Well, I did want pastoral, but I was thinking a less formal robe style, or shepherd’s implements! I’m employed, though, and that’s all that matters!”
(Terapishim) “Indeed! It feels wonderful! Thank you, Charles!”
(Charles) “You’re welcome! And Arcosanti should grow and prosper wonderfully under your protection!”
(Gri-Fel) “I will make it as mighty as the Imperial City was!”
(Charles) “Naturally! And a green and beautiful example for other cities to imitate!”
(Gri-Fel) “And I suppose there is no time to waste! We should probably leave for Earth as soon as the post-ceremony banquet ends.” (He leaned in a bit closer and whispered…) “How soon can you provide that Manse you built in the simulator?”
(Charles, whispering and with a privacy ward) “In a few hours; I do have to notify the Bureau, but I don’t actually have to await their response, since it IS on Earth, and I’m technically a freelance contractor!”
(Gri Fel) “Thank you. It will make a wonderful sanctum away from our sanctum. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to socialize with my new ‘friends’.”
He was well aware of what these “friends” wanted, but favors were always good to have owed!
(Gri Fel) “Would you like to join me?”
While Gri-Fel was politicking, Terapishim and Pure Frothing Delight were conversing about beards. While Pure Frothing Delight was distracted, the green celestial rubber ducky slipped free of his amorphous bubble-body and floated over to Charles’ side…
(Sparkling Reflection, whispering) “Good evening to you. Can we talk privately?”
It looked very serious for a rubber ducky!
(Charles, putting up some privacy wards) “Why not?:
(Sparkling Reflection) “My superior is very fond of your boat. It is a marvel . . . but could you construct an accessory for it?”
(Charles) “I suppose! What sort?”
(Sparkling Reflection) “As hard as it might be to believe, he sometimes frolics in dangerous waters. Could you construct an artifact that produces guardian rubber duck automatons to keep others away? I am certain you can devise a non-lethal method of dealing with them. Wards, perhaps?”
(Charles) “Uhrm… Well, wardings and protections are easy enough! I’ll see what I can come up with!”
(Sparkling Reflection) “And if you were to construct them so that they could deactivate and shrink to normal rubber ducks, my associates and I would appreciate it.”
(Charles) “Well… I suppose so! There’s no reason not too!”
(Sparkling Reflection) “On behalf of Pure Frothing Delight’s celestial bodyguards, I thank you, Charles Dexter Ward.”
(Charles) “You’re welcome!”
It bowed and floated off to its master, with the others watching as it returns…
It would quietly tell stories of how Charles didn’t really ask any questions in their quarters when their superior had gone…
After a little more socializing – with gods who were either (1) mildly confused as to why the mortal child had been invited, or (2) had heard wild rumors about that mortal child and were both curious and nervous – Charles left to visit the Bureau of Humanity to notify them of his intent to build a manse in Arcosanti. After all, gods being gods, the banquet would last at least a couple more days – which should give him plenty of time before anyone even considered the possibility that there might be anything serious going on in their new domain!
A functionary at the Bureau of Humanity filed the request and told him to wait several weeks for approval.
Wait, several weeks? He’d been expecting YEARS, which he was just going to work around. After all, it was supposed to be a major… Oh wait; on Earth. That meant that it wasn’t really “permission” as SUCH; it was just… acknowledging their receipt of the notification and shooting it over to any concerned parties so that they could take it into account – and half of THAT was just old rubberstamp procedures; Yu-Shan… had a lot less influence over Earth than it used to! Most of the actual regulation of manse construction – along with almost everything else – had gone out the window between the disruption of exalted rulership, the great contagion, the reshaping and the resurgent dragon-blooded whom most of Yu-Shan was STILL not on speaking terms with…
That meant that… all he needed was to get the distribution department to acknowledge receipt.
He hand-carried it to the distribution sub-department, looked for someone sympathetic to the older gods, and tried to persuade them to jump the (pretty much empty; manse-building on earth was not especially common these days – and builders who notified the bureau were even rarer) que and rubber-stamp the acknowledgment out of sympathy for Gri-Fel…
After all, if wasn’t like he’d applied for permission for building any of his other manses. He was entitled to take contracts outside of Yu-Shan without reporting them anyway since he WAS an independent contractor! It was just that he wanted to make things as smooth as possible for Gri-Fel and Terapishim…
It was easy enough to find one who was willing to keep her mouth shut. For each unemployed god that was on the streets, there was at least one relegated to busywork paper-pushing. Besides… a contractor wanted to save a month on a years-long project; who cared?
He left with his acknowledgment/permit. He could just see it… “What’s the problem? I TOLD you I was going to and you gave me a permit… Just because you EXPECTED to have years to file objections doesn’t mean that you get them!” Still… if they complained at the poor goddess he’d have to make it up to her!
Off to Arcosant and manse-making! Albeit with some extra privacy spells and things!
The community, while not yet really a full city, was definitely eclectic! That nice bell-making thaumaturge was still at work, ensuring that his metalwork and ceramics sounded as beautiful as possible.
Charles cheerily greeted him while picking the spot… it wasn’t like the man could somehow fail to notice the demesne upgrade and activation anyway! At least there was lots of room for the simple stone cube of the manse though; it really wasn’t all that big.
(Santiago the bellmaker) “I never forget a face! What brings you back here? Thinking of signing up for some classes?”
(Charles, with more privacy wards) “Well… I was going to upgrade and activate the geomantic potential of the area and create a modest focus for it! I figured that – since you’d certainly notice – I might as well tell you about it!”
(Santiago, scratching his chin thoughtfully.) “Like feng shui?”
(Charles) “Well, basically yes! But a bit more… sophisticated and active really!”
(Santiago) “Well, let’s see what you’re going to do!”
He was pretty obviously expecting the standard forms of adjustment there – or perhaps a slight improvement. Charles made sure that the Coatl were ready to catch him if HE fainted. He’d always thought that was an exaggeration, but it seemed to happen a lot. Maybe it was the energy-flux overloading people for a bit?
He put up a privacy ward that would keep anyone from paying any attention to this spot in one of the secondary green zones/gardens, and got to work – albeit with less drama than usual. It wasn’t like it really helped any and this would be hard enough to keep quiet already. Between the landscape tweaks and the pouring of essence into the demesne… Everyone with the slightest trace of sensitivity would feel that, even if they had no idea of what it was – and he couldn’t exactly hide the place in a pocket-dimension this time! It had to be out in the open to recruit it’s guardians!
Santiago did indeed register the energy surge – and did faint (a point for “physical reaction” over “psychological” perhaps? It might just be a sign of a sensitive being overloaded by the flux…). Once he came to, a Coatl had to shut his mouth for him as he looked upon the results.
(Santiago) “I wouldn’t believe this if I hadn’t seen it… It’s hard enough to believe WITH seeing it!”
The manse was only a stone cube about ten feet across – although the engraving and patterns in the stone and such made it very nicely decorative (and wonderfully well fitted into Arcosanti’s design of course). Santiago took a look – and found the information on the three oaths flooding into his mind as Charles pulled it’s rank-0 hearthstones into manifestation and collected them.
(Santiago, turning to Charles) “So… this structure… offers great power and enhancements to pretty much everything… in exchange for a commitment of service… Either Guardianship (to aid and protect people in general), Citizenship (to defend, maintain, and enhance Arcosanti and it’s people), or Trade (to support trade throughout the world for the benefit of everyone). That’s… (He scratched his chin again.) really pretty benevolent! Citizenship sounds good! Sensitive people are going to swarm this place pretty quickly, I think!”
That commitment… was enough to send incredible power surging through him, transforming him into a Guardian of the Bazaar.
(Charles) “Yes indeed! Fortunately, you’ll have help with supervising things; a couple of experienced gods will be helping out!”
Santiago didn’t faint this time – but he was clearly NOT prepared to be enlightened like that, so quickly! It wasn’t painful… but it was still quite a shock!
(Charles) “There you go! Earth can always use more protectors – and I congratulate you on making that decision!
Charles gave him a couple of pairs of the upgraded life-extension bracers that shortly bestowed independent longevity. After all, he might have a family!
Perhaps blessedly, he didn’t… just the explanations alone would have been a nightmare!
(Santiago) “What the… I’m metallic!” (He tapped his arm and it created a beautiful tone). “And I ring beautifully… son, just what are you!?”
Wait… “Earth can always use more protectors”?!?! Was this child… actually wandering around the world handing out vast powers to anyone who was… willing to commit to BEING NICE TO PEOPLE?
(Santiago) “Are you some sort of galactic guardian or something?!?!”
This was the sort of thing that happened in COMIC BOOKS!
(Charles, musingly) “Hm… You probably chose that appearance unconsciously – a reflection of your work with the bells – but it will be no trouble for you to appear normal if you wish! As for me… I’m Aden Shining Dream, and I’m fixing things! An awful lot of things have gone wrong over the last forty thousand years or so, what with the reshaping of the universe and all, and SOMEONE needs to fix it! And people need more room, and lots of things like that! So much of the universe is empty that it’s rather sad…”
Santiago found that he could indeed swap back to a normal form quite easily.
(Santiago) “So… god, cabalist, shapeshifter, what? Not that it’s important – this could change everything!”
(Charles) “Hm… I’m not quite sure really! I’ve been told that I’m a Nascent Primordial, but that could easily be wrong – in fact I strongly suspect that it is. It doesn’t much matter really, so long as things get fixed because I’ve been told lots of other things too… I confuse people a lot!”
(Santiago) “Well, either way, I guess I should get back to work!”
(Charles) “Have a good time there! You can do an awful lot of good for people now!”
Santiago – still in a slight bit of shock, but with a palpable aura of power – shook Charles’s hand… Charles left a few extra guards for the moment – just in case someone wanted to interfere with the manse before it had gathered enough guardians to make that awkward – and headed back to Yu-Shan to give the Hearthstones to Gri Fel and Terapishim and to let them know that the Manse had already recruited it’s first Guardian.
They were still at the party, and accepted the Hearthstones discreetly. Charles was delighted to see that Gri Fel and Terapishim now looked even better than before! Their domain had just jumped in importance a good deal before they even got there; Gri Fel now had cleaner wool – and Terapishim had a smoother beard…
That hadn’t escaped notice, although it was considered impolite to discuss such things at official functions – but Redstone Runner felt that it was definitely promising! Rarely was a god or gods so well fitted to a domain that their mere appointment would serve to increase it’s influence upon the world… Had their young assistant… actually gone and done something effective ALREADY? He had gone off for a bit! Even if that was it though… it would still speak of effective planning and an EXCELLENT use of such a resource…
Charles was very pleased! Even the old Imperial Capital might not have had so many major powers directly associated with it, although it HAD had many more lower-end Dragon-Blooded hanging about. They’d make a fine support staff as they started trickling in, and would bring in trade, and wealth, and support for the entire arcology-and-nature concept – which would be a splendid example when the planetary gates he was setting up to open near Arcosanti did so and it became an intergalactic crossroads! It would be a win-win situation for pretty much everyone!
There would inevitably be conflicts and the like, but that was the risk of letting anyone run ANYTHING without constant interference and micro-management – and if Gri Fel couldn’t handle that… well, something had gone badly wrong. He might have gotten pretty corrupt at the end, but he had been excellent at what he did – and there wasn’t that much room for corruption at Arcosanti! It had a rather bright future coming up now!
Shortly the Bureau of Humanity, and the Convocation on Essence Wielders, and the Masons, and various other groups, would want to talk – but that was for another time.
- [Emergence Campaign] The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CIV — Deiphage Slumber Party (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CVI – The High Chancellor (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice C – The Temples Of The Elements (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CIII – Multiplying And Dividing Factions (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CV – Violets On Television (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CVII – Copying Errors (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CII – Hooked On A Story (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CVIII – The Tomes Of Doom (ruscumag.wordpress.com)