Lets see… what else was on the catchup project list? Oh yes! Check on the Morgans and see if they were all right! He had to stop in Atlanta and catch up on things there anyway! He’d been meaning to get to that – but there hadn’t been any alarms or emergency calls and other things kept taking precedence…
Hm… Jose had wanted to visit too, and he was available at the moment! Still, it would be kind of rude to just shove a Sidereal in their faces without asking; it might lead to problems. Charles called the Morgans first!
The only ones he could get into contact with at the moment were Howard and Mitchell, his son.
(Charles) “Hello there! What’s going on?”
(Howard, who had gotten to the phone before Mitchell) “Hello, Charles! What’s going on with you? Things have been crazy lately!”
(Charles) “Well… lots of Geomancy projects mostly! And balancing out the elemental energy flows and such!… What’s been crazy?”
(Howard) “Handling all our guests! I’m still not sure what Dad and Peter did at that meeting, but they haven’t been talking to me that much. They’ve been bringing in a lot of artificers, though. I’m not sure why they haven’t called you on that-you seem like you’d be a natural.”
(Charles) “Well, I could drop by! I wanted to make sure that he was all right though… He DID ask for armor after all!”
(Howard) “Since you’re just dropping by, no problem! I’m sure the kids will be happy to see you.”
(Charles) “Oh… Jose (there were some fairly extensive explanations) wanted to visit… He kind of misses being able to see the family!”
(Howard) “Gahh… THAT was the Sidereal who sent me to Guam that one time. I think I should thank him, though! That was quite the discussion. Just… tell him not to do that again, OK?”
Jose might well have been responsible for both his grandson and Howard souring on Sidereal hunting – but then taking on a Sidereal Martial Artist might well have that effect.
(Charles) “Well, if no one is attacking him, there shouldn’t be any reason to send people to distant locations! Although I must say that that is a nicer art than most! A couple of hours then? OK”
Jose found movement fascinating, and Eburnean Angles of Lacunae’s concentration on space and distance fit him like a glove. And then when he got the booster artifact for it … well, it had been quite a shock to Howard at least.
Charles called Jose to let him know – and offered him a gate if he needed one.
(Jose) “Thanks, son… I’ll go in when you do, just in case.”
Howard’s place was as much as it had been before: nicely manicured and hedged lawn, fancy driveway, and all. Mitchell was the one to greet them.
(Mitchell) “Ah, come in Charles. We’ve been busy lately, hosting the experts Granddad has bought in.”
He nodded to Jose, whom he’d seen around Yu-Shan.
(Charles) “Oh, projects? I just wanted to be sure everyone was all right! After all… first asking for armor and then dropping out of contact was sort of ominous!”
(Mitchell) “That’s just the way Fire Aspects are. Granddad wanted answers right away, so he and my uncle went to meet with their backers. We should probably go to the warded room. Dad said we should probably be careful about this one – and I think Mr. Cisneros needs to hear this too.”
They headed upstairs, to the warded study with the testing equipment.
(Mitchell) “All right! What Dad told me was that Granddad and Uncle Peter went to meet with the Starbreaking. Granddad was confident that the Adenic Thaumaturgy alone would be enough to protect him if something happened… which it did.”
(Charles) “There are limits there! I hope it was all right!”
(Mitchell) “Mom, Dad, and I don’t know the EXACT details, but there was a fight. From what Dad said, Granddad managed to get out by the skin of his teeth. My uncle and his Awakened entourage managed to grab something and bring it back with them.”
That was… rather pleasing. Adenic Thaumaturgy was fairly powerful, but a lot of people were REALLY GOOD at hurting people!
(Jose) “So I take it they’re not your family’s backers anymore.”
(Mitchell) “No, I think not. Anyway… Granddad and Uncle Peter have been at one of the family atelier-chapels since then. We’ve been keeping in touch with our artificer contacts and hosting them for dinner every week, since we ARE the ones in town.”
(Charles) “Do they need help with something?”
(Mitchell) “Whatever it is, they’ve been analyzing it for many weeks now. It must be rather complicated or they must be stumped.”
He didn’t mention the possibility that it might be something BAD… he didn’t want to get Charles into MORE problems or worry about that himself!
(Charles) “Well… I could try to help if they wanted – but lots of people have secrets and things!”
(Mitchell) “I’m actually wondering why they haven’t already… but I’m sure they have their reasons. All I know is that my grandfather and uncle got home, and we should be very happy for that.”
(Charles) “As long as everybody’s all right!”
(Jose) “Yeah… an Alchemical with the right stuff installed is not a slouch in a fight.”
(Charles) “Well, I didn’t really make the upgrade for fighting, but it’s nice to know that it’s versatile enough to handle it…”
(Mitchell) “Anyhow… are you staying for dinner? You and Mr. Cisneros must be very busy, but Erin makes a great casserole!”
It was indeed a very good casserole, thaumaturgically enhanced for reduced fat, salt, and other bad-for-you things – which was an application that Charles hadn’t really thought of! It probably WAS a lot easier to get it out of the food than out of you after you’d eaten the food!
Jose was a topic of some conversation due to his resemblance to Howard’s trusty sidekick. But he could explain it quite easily;
(Jose) “I’m visiting him from abroad!”
That wasn’t even a lie! And Charles cheerily… failed to explain!
(Lilah, Wood Awakened) “Well, he’s been watching the family places of power since Peter and Mr. Morgan have been away.”
She didn’t explain either – but she was happy to inform them that Raymond was in town, which likely meant the Water Tower.
He asked indirectly. After all, if they didn’t want to tell him, it really wasn’t his business!
(Lilah) “Well… he was guarding the big one, so if you want to meet him there… but he’s been a bit tense lately. He went with Mr. Morgan you see.”
(Charles) Should I visit? After all, if its something they wanted me to know… they’d have told me I think!”
(Howard) “I’m the man in charge right now, so I’m going to okay it. He is pretty jumpy though!”
(Charles) “Well, I guess I should drop by then! Something might need fixing!”
(Howard) “Not if Raymond’s been doing his job. And nice to speak to you, Jose!”
He did seem a little glad that the Sidereal was leaving, though… Of course, that situation had been pretty tense for over a century!
(Jose, after they left and were well out of earshot) “Can’t blame him… still, at least I didn’t turn him into a duck. Let’s see this… Water Tower, isn’t it?”
(Charles) “It’s a fairly nice manse!… Why would you turn him into a duck?”
(Jose) “*I* wouldn’t, but a lot of Sidereals forget that people aren’t pawns. Besides, I haven’t studied that style.”
(Charles) “Well… it can be done with Thaumaturgy until it wears off! That sort of thing can be fun sometimes!”
(Jose) “Eh… maybe as a prank. Not when you want to get people on your side.”
(Charles) “Oh, sometimes it’s fun to fly on your own wings and such!”
(Jose) “Ah, it’s times like that I wish I was a Lunar…” (And once they got to the Manse) “Yep! Definitely a notable security system here.”
(Guard) “Mr. Cisneros, what are you doing out – hey, you’re not Mr. Cisneros.”
(Jose) “Is he in? He’s been wanting to see me for some time!”
(Charles) “Howard sent us over!”
(Other Guard) “Ah, you’re the… Exalt. We’ll be watching you.”
The guards accompanied them in. There was no trust for Jose there – but he was either too cheery to care or was intentionally projecting that image. They led them upstairs, where Raymond was looking at some documents. He DID look pretty stressed out!
(Charles) “Hello! Howard sent us over!… Are you all right?”
(Raymond) “Hello, Charles. I’m fine…”
No he wasn’t; he looked like he hadn’t been sleeping that well lately.
(Jose) “You sure, grandson? I know lack of sleep when I see it! What’s the problem?”
(Raymond) “Oh, just that Mr. Morgan nearly got himself killed being impulsive… and got me caught up in it.” (He brightens up slightly.) “Great-grandfather? You actually came! I can’t believe it.”
(Jose) “Hey, you did ask where I’d been. Seriously, though, what’s wrong? You’re lucky to be alive, you know that?”
(Charles, somewhat sadly) “Family is important!”
(Jose, guiltily) “Yes, yes it is.”
There was hugging, which was easier in a Hispanic culture!
(Raymond) “Damn it… I wish I could tell you more about what happened, but I’ve been sworn to secrecy on it.”
(Charles) “Well, I’m glad you didn’t get killed! Even with the upgrade that can get pretty traumatic!”
Raymond pulled up his shirt to show a rather nasty scar.
(Raymond) “I would have if you hadn’t been so generous.”
(Well I’m glad you weren’t! Anyway… do you need any help?”
(Raymond) “No… and …” (To Jose) “Can I visit you in Yu-Shan?”
(Jose, thinking) “Eh … that could get complicated! I’ve got no permanent residence up there. You’d have to stay with someone else … but I’ll see what I can work out.”
(Charles) “Well… probably something can be arranged soon!”
(Jose) “Aren’t you doing enough, son? Well, I won’t stop you … “
(Charles) “Well… it will be a minor sub-aspect of something else anyway!
Jose looked puzzled for a moment, as did Raymond.
(Jose) “Some secret project?”
(Charles) “Yu-Shan needs a lot of fixing! It has a LOT of damaged manses and the geomancy is a terrible mess!”
(Both) “No kidding.”
(Jose) “Can you talk about it? I’ve got friends in the bad areas, so …”
(Charles) “Well… I was going to add a reconstructive resonance mode and feed more energy into the dragon-lines of Yu-Shan! That way most of the repairs should take care of themselves!”
(Jose) “Huh… knowing you, probably not taking centuries, either. That’s pretty big-scale manipulation, though. Can you control it?”
And behind his cheer… holy Maidens, the boy was progressing in unexpected and potentially dangerous directions.
(Charles) “I think so! I have lots and lots of healing available now, and I won’t be starting until I’m sure!”
(Raymond) “Healing? Charles, you’re not doing anything rash, are you?”
(Charles) “It’s for fixing things! Manses are sort of quasi-living, and so – if you tune it right – they can be healed too!”
(Jose) “Hey, you know as well as I do the boy’s a force of nature.”
(Raymond) “You’re going to let him do that in Yu-Shan, grandfather?”
(Jose) “You’ve seen the place … it’s time SOMEBODY took action.”
(Jose considered Charles appraisingly.) “What would you do if somebody interfered, or did something that might be opposed to that, though? I’m not accusing anybody, but it’s good to have contingencies.”
(Charles) “Well… set up precautions mostly! It will need a lot of stabilizing, but I asked for help with that, and it should be all right!”
(Jose) “Huh … well, I’d hate to see the kind of thing that would oppose you. I wouldn’t mind some details, so I can know what to expect.”
After all, his fiancee lived in Yu-Shan – as did his other descendants!
(Charles) “It won’t be for a bit! There are still lots of things to get ready… The biggest risk was if someone was feeding wyld energies into the system, but that’s why it might need stabilizing!”
Jose… wasn’t so sure about this, but if everything went as planned …)
(Jose) “Keep me posted, okay? I’m afraid I’ve got to let other people know about this one! Not too many though-it just needs some monitoring.”
(Charles) “OK! There will have to be notifications anyway… But I did get permission!”
(Jose, nodding knowingly) “And that’s why I’m not more concerned … you’re a good kid who does that.”
(Raymond) “But Yu-Shan is tied to Creation! I know he’s good at this stuff, but that’s a lot of trust.”
(Charles) “Oh it is! And if the geomancy of Yu-Shan continues to degrade… eventually the elemental poles will destabilize, Gaia will be unable to maintain them, and Creation will fall back into chaos!”
(Jose) “I think we can all agree that would be a disaster.”
(Charles) “Sort of by definition really!”
(Raymond) “Is it really that bad? Surely the Bureaucracy would do …” (There was a blank stare from Jose – a bit disconcerting coming from someone normally so cheery!) “Okay, that answered my question.”
(Charles) “It really needs fixing!”
(Jose) “I promise to save you if things go badly. I”m sure Charles would do the same thing.”
(Charles) “Even at the very worst… the Earth will hold for quite awhile; the Raksha… are very used to having it around and the collapse would take quite some time anyway.”
(Jose) “Anyway … I just wanted to catch up with you, grandson! You’ve probably got a lot of questions for me. Mind giving us privacy, Charles?”
(Charles) “No worries!”
He wandered off for a bit. The guards were watching him – and that room – carefully, but they were more relaxed now that he wasn’t with a Sidereal…
The manse was still running nicely, and everything was in order – but the guards could use some better armor and sense-boosting artifacts, and they could use some way to tie the wards into the geomancy so they’d be much harder to break, and…
After about an hour Jose found him again – busily upgrading things and giving out more-or-less random presents.
(Jose) “Thanks, Charles. That was nice, seeing that he’s doing good… even if he’s under a lot of stress right now. I wish I could stay longer, but work called.”
(Charles) “Oh well! Back to Yu-Shan then!”
Back in Yu-Shan Sailor was waiting to cart him to where he needed to go – and Charles cheerily waved good-bye – and expected yet MORE people watching him shortly.
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXXI – Howling at the Moon (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- [Emergence Campaign] The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXX — The Wine Of Chaos (ruscumag.wordpress.com)