The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice, Session CXXIII – The Celestial Lions and the Hands of Sorrow

Tai Shan

Outside the Dome, the rear entrance is well camoflagued…

Charles was considering… he still had a couple of elemental manses to install, and some planning to finalize, and picking up whatever-it-was for Gaia, and he really needed to try to find something more reliable than Wyld Stunts to use to expand his powers across Yu-Shan, and it would be a good idea to get as much more information as possible, and to get everyone organized to assist…

Come to think of it, that last bit was probably going to take awhile for them to get used to! He’d better get on that next, before he would up having to try to evacuate Yu-Shan! Otherwise there might well be TOO much chaos – geomantic, social, and political alike – for him to manage… To start with, he was going to need the Tenders, Overseers, Celestial Lions, and some of the Geomancy Gods. Considering that the Tenders and Overseers protected and promoted geomantic structures that were pretty blatantly bad for most gods, that was going to be a rather contentious group to mediate.

Still… giving Yu-Shan’s world-body multiple aspects would keep them all separated until they could all learn to get along! According to all his calculations, and to the geomancy gods, Yu-Shan waking up shouldn’t be a direct problem, and enlarging the world-body SHOULD work – not that there was any way to be totally sure. Still, at worst… (not that it was easy to tell, Primordials were nothing if not individualistic) it looked like there might be an additional aspect or two. Charles HAD been hoping that “five” was one of the mystical stable numbers – but if it turned out to be seven… well, that should work too!

He hoped that “she” wouldn’t mind – but at this point it pretty much qualified as an emergency treatment for terminal coma. After all, the surviving Tenders were pretty much a life support system at the moment! And the universe did NOT need another Neverborn! OR a geomantic collapse linked to it’s center!

He was checking VERY carefully – now that he KNEW that Yu-Shan was a Primordial’s world-body – that his intervention would HELP her, rather than harm her. That meant studying all available information on her geomancy, talking to the Tenders and Overseers, consulting his own geomantic specialist (who, of course, always succeeded), checking deep in the primordial archives (now that he knew what to look for), having Malinda check, taking a look at the sympathetic loom, trying to determine where Yu-Shan’s Devas and lesser souls were (to check with them), trying diagnostic and treatment-oriented medicine charms on Yu-Shan, and even trying to probe her mind a bit. (A lot of it would probably be too complex for him to understand, but her being comatose might let him get something).

It looked like most of the plan should work just fine though – and that she probably couldn’t last many millennia longer without either the Tenders making a major push to clean up the world-body or geomantic collapse.

That probably wouldn’t make Gaia happy at ALL. They were “sisters” or a sort.

Malinda could do quite a bit with the sympathetic loom; it looked like Charles’s plans – if he could implement them – wold be largely beneficial, if hard for the Bureaucracy and many Sidereals to wrap their heads around – ESPECIALLY if a Jouten appeared in what everyone thought was a mere sanctum. Social and political shifts were. inevitable. The worst issues on the geomantic front would likely be frantic attempts to reverse it, despite the speed, and attempts to piggyback off the energy for other projects. Cauldron-Born and Infernal involvement was likely – but could go either way.

Still… the Bureaucracy and the Celestial Lions hadn’t had much luck fighting the Tenders and Overseers to date – and even without more backing he fully intended to use Luna’s Writ to draft most of the geomantic gods, and get the Lions to try to keep people from fiddling with the project. As for the Infernals… well, hopefully there weren’t many around Yu-Shan – but both they and the Cauldron-Born were pretty much (by definition) wild cards.

The diagnostic, treatment-defining, and treatment charms and artifacts would take some time (Yu-Shan WAS the size of Russia after all!) – as would searching for her subsouls or attempting to probe her consciousness a bit. The primordial archives… would have to wait until he personally had more time!

He needed to get in contact with the Lady Sorrowhands, so that he could learn more about that blank spot in his maps that was the Jade Pleasure Dome and the Games of Divinity! It was, after all, on Yu-Shan’s central nexus. Still, he didn’t want to make trouble for her!

Ah… the writ was enough to let him send some messages in! Not too many a day – she WAS technically an enemy of the Bureaucracy, much like that demon serving as the ambassador from Malfeas. Still, that would do for some inquiries. He didn’t care exactly what the power went into – or about the action of the games – but the geomancy was important!

That was… rather revealing. It was the central node of Yu-Shan’s geomancy, where according to the Sorrowhands, Yu-Shan had stored the Games of Divinity. The other Mighty Ones built the Jade Pleasure Dome as a further protection. The dome was built directly upon Yu-Shan’s main Essence reservoir – and if the geomancy was working properly, the Lady Sorrowhands’ fellow Overseers and the Operators beneath them would be feeding motes into the system as they stewed in their pods. As it was… it was only Overseers right now, and that only began seven thousand years ago Even that was… being diverted, and Yu-Shan was pretty much starved. The reservoir’s total motes could be measured in the single digits most of the time. Occasionally – presumably when some Overseer had mounted an offensive – it had hit low double digits. The highest level that the Sorrowhands could recall had been about fourteen motes, out of around a thousand. (The Sorrowhands weren’t quite sure; Yu-Shan had mote pool boosters.

It wasn’t so much that it drained into the games; it was that nothing was coming in. It didn’t help that there was a conversion process from Tender Essence to Yu-Shan Essence, and it compacted the motes greatly. The Sorrowhands had…. pretty much felt trace amounts of Yu-Shan Essence hit the geomancy of the Dome… and then nothing.

Hm… In the days of the Primordials, the Eastern Overseers would bring the fruits of their and their subordinates’ labor to a grand columned annex to the Jade Pleasure Dome where the Sorrowhands would supervise the final preparations for the Mighty Ones. That place was considerably more secured when the Incarnae took over the Dome. She was a bit bitter about that; it had a nice view – but nowadays, it was as secure as any other gate into the dome. They still brought the wine and peaches there though – and all Charles needed was to meet them in person for a couple of minutes…

It took a lot of pointing at Luna’s writ, but eventually the Celestial Lions agreed – even if they WOULD be watching.

Charles dropped by to give each of the Sorrowhands a few manse-links – six each, for 120 motes an hour. Even with compaction, that should help a good deal! Besides… that would also make them effectively present at six manses each, spread across the cosmos. That will make it MUCH easier to get into contact with them while maintaining their oaths; they wouldn’t be interfering with Yu-Shan or Earth in any fashion.

They were very appreciative of the thought… Most of the essence types in the package weren’t as delicious as the Sun’s, but they were a lot easier to digest! Actually, however, they craved Raksha Essence.., It had been quite some time since they’d hunted!

Huh. Well if they’d just said, a Wyld-oriented manse or two would have been pretty easy; he’d just have to adjust one to suit. For that matter… a wyld-aspected manse could be pretty useful in some ways! Something to look into later!

The Lions – who had some of those essence-sensing items – wanted to know what Charles was up to while he was setting up for that; whatever he was planning to do with the Sorrowhands it had some ODD essence-signatures!

Charles happily turned it into a conference with the Lions! He’d been planning to hold one with them shortly in any case! They were, unsurprisingly, adamant-chased celestial lions of better than average power, and Arelis and Aros Sorrowhands, of course, were the rulers of… Yu-Shan’s maintenance staff. At least to start, you could cut the tension with a knife… a couple of the lions were not removing their eyes from the Sorrowhands, and Charles was pretty sure that the rest were running all manner of detections. For their parts, the Sorrowhands were maintaining a quiet air of superiority despite being prisoners.

Charles waved cheerily at the lions, who were only allowing this because Luna had given him an absurdly open-ended writ – and because they were quite used to her eccentricities. Still, there were EXCELLENT refreshments not celestial wine and peaches of immortality, but as close as you could get below that.

(Hanzong, a Senior Lion) “OK, just what in the blazes is this about? Few people even know who they are-and fewer still would want to do THAT for them!”

(Charles) “Oh, it’s simple enough! At this point… there’s only about 2518 years, plus or minus about fifty – depending on the vagaries of the geomantic conflict – before the geomancy of Yu-Shan will collapse, most of the city will become an aspect of the Labyrinth, Yu-Shan herself becomes a new Neverborn, and most of the inhabitants of the city – the lucky ones – are sucked into Oblivion. Of course, current events are threatening to advance that timescale to less than a year. Therefore something really needs to be done!”

(Hanzong) “And why does this… wait, Yu-Shan is going to become a WHAT? But that would mean-“

(Charles, with some surprise) “Well, yes! Didn’t you know?”

(Arelis) “Charles, do you think they would believe us? They have a vested interest in maintaining Yu-Shan as they made it. As it is (nodding to the lion) you’ve made your own bed.”

(Aros) “Now if only we could get out of it – but that is why Charles came today.”

(Hanzong) “I only did what I could to make the city habitable for the gods of Meru!”

(Charles) “Well, that’s why it needs to be multi-aspected! That may broaden her charmset of course, but it should mostly be Raksha-style echo-variants with different orientations of the same basic effects!”

(Hanzong) “And you’re going to do this in the largest city in existence – something that might or might not be a Primordial, according to some Unwanted gods’ words? Have you even tested this? CAN you even test this?”

What kind of prank was Luna up to here!? This wasn’t funny!

(Charles) “Do you actually see a choice? It’s either that… or see Yu-Shan destroyed and pretty much everyone in it die.”

(Hanzong) “No . . . but I can’t believe it’s come to this – and what in the Malfeas am I going to say if somebody from the Bureaucracy snoops around?”

(Charles) “That’s why Luna gave me a writ!… Well, to be fair, she gave it to me because I asked, but that’s one of the reasons why I asked!”

(Aros) “Oh for the love of the Mighty Ones… you’re a Celestial Lion. Just snarl at them imposingly and tell them Luna ordered it-everyone knows how she is.”

(Charles) “Well, we can always let them argue with Gaia afterwards! She said she’d help…”

(Hanzong) “Aaargh… Gaia is in on this too.”

(Arelis) “Of course. They’re sisters – and I’m surprised you haven’t gotten Autochthon’s opinion on this. Where is he, anyhow?”

(Charles) “Hrm… I think he’s deep interstellar at the moment, and I haven’t really had time to go hunting. His responses to sendings are very vague though!”

(Hanzong) “Look, Charles – we’ve got orders not to let these… things… eat any Essence but the Sun’s. Otherwise, there could be side effects. Is this going to be integral to the stuff in that writ?”

(Aros) “We have names, you know…”

(Charles) “Yes; Yu-Shan must eventually wake up or die; perpetual coma is just not sustainable. Providing reality level accommodations for everyone here will require quite a LOT of changes!”

(Hanzong) “Well, can I at least know what you’re going to do? I’d heard rumors about you planning something big around the precinct stable last time I visited – I didn’t think it was THIS! It’d be good to have DETAILS, at least!”

(Charles, after putting up some additional privacy wards) “Oh sure! (He pulled up the displays again) I was going to need your help anyway! I was planning to hold a meeting on that fairly shortly after I got a few special tools!

(Arelis) “He has planned this quite extensively… though I’m not sure about some of his methods.”

(Aros) “My dear, is his Wyld Shaping really that different from what the Mighty Ones did to make Creation?”

(Arelis) “They channeled and directed it through one of their own, at least – not that that would be feasible here.”

The lions… were looking.

(Charles) “Well, I will be working with the Guardians, a network of geomantic control artifacts, and a couple of thousand geomantic assistants.”

(Arelis) “So, channeling it through yourself, at least partially. Not even Gaia and Cytherea took that risk.” (She takes a sip of the wine.) “So, what do you lions think of this?”

(Charles) “Well… I don’t have time for anything else! I can’t make enough artifacts that powerful fast enough!”

(Liuwei) “So… they get a Yu-Shan, we get a Yu-Shan, the humans get a Yu-Shan, the raksha get a Yu-Shan… does that mean the deiphages will be staying in their Yu-Shan where they don’t bother us?”

(Charles) “Well, there’s not much reason to fight when there’s no need to meet! And I’m mostly providing the power… really, most of the control inputs will be handled as the power pours into Yu-Shan’s geomancy!”

(Aros) “He’s already discussed this with our subordinates. And really, haven’t you wanted to be rid of us for thirty thousand years?”

(Liuwei) “Oh, like you don’t feel the same way . . .”

The Lord Sorrowhands smiled and nibbled at his meal.

(Charles) “Well, a good fix gives everybody what they need!”

(Hanzong) “I… don’t have the authority to oppose this. Just don’t blame me if these two make trouble with it!”

(Arelis) “On something like this? I seriously doubt we’d risk it; you’d tear us apart.”

Although the expression on her adamant face was a bit enigmatic.

(Charles) “Well… I think that everyone will need to cooperate on this! After all… if it doesn’t work… Yu-Shan will be destroyed and everyone will die. That’s REALLY not a good thing! But not trying will have the same result!”

EVERYONE else looked a little leery at that level of idealism. Was he serious? Still, they’d seen the plans – and it DID look pretty bad!

(Hanzong) “I’ll take this to my superiors… I don’t think they’ll be happy about it, but they’ll just have to accept it! We can’t have the city dying on us! And… well, they can do their own investigations if they’re skeptical.”

(Charles) “Well, I can give a presentation! And things are almost ready on Earth; the power levels there are starting to come back into balance nicely as the wood and water pole-tapping manses take effect, and the air and fire manses will be next – which will give us the elemental energy basis to mirror and stabilize the energy balances here!”

(Hanzong) “More of your work, no doubt… I’ll let you know when they’re ready to talk to you.”

(Charles) “OK!”

(Hanzong) “Well, let’s get this over with… now what is this bonding going to involve? I want details on that too.”

(Charles) “It’s setting them up with links to some manses! That way they’ll have some extra power to feed into Yu-Shans central reserve.”

The Lions insisted on Manses without means of outside communications or ways of linking to the other Tenders and Overseers, just in case they got up to something! Old habits died hard, writs or not – and, of course, means of escape were right out. Still, as long as only motes went through, and only for this project…

(Charles) “Well, they are on distant planets that currently have no communications with Yu-Shan. Is that good enough?”

(Hanzong) “Fine by me.”

(Charles) “OK then!”

And he set up the links – much to the delight of both Sorrowhands. With any luck… they could start slowly filling up the reserve a bit!

(Aros) “It feels… wonderful.”

(Arelis) “Yes… with this, we can preserve her while you’re finishing the final stages of your planning.”

(Charles) “Ah good! I’m sorry it got left so long, but I wasn’t around to try to help earlier!”

(Hanzong) “And we’ll be watching them to make sure nothing funny happens. Not until this goes off, at least…”

(Charles) “Well, after that… a lot of things should be working better!”

(Hanzong) “I hope so!”

(Arelis) “And we actually agree on something.”

(Charles) “It’s a start!”

There wasn’t any handshaking or smiling there… but they did seem to have an understanding, and Charles was glad to settle for that. Hopefully nobody would try to doublecross anybody. After all, the situation was dire, both sides were dedicated to their parts of Yu-Shan – and with any luck they could all get exactly what they wanted!

Even if the Lions DID all look like they had headaches.

The Sorrowhands waved as Charles departed. Perhaps, not all that long from now, the Lions would be willing to call them by their names…

Charles too, of course, cheerily waved back at everyone. He still had to get the Air and Fire manses set up to finish balancing things!


One Response

  1. […] The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice, Session CXXIII – The Celestial Lions and the Hands of Sorrow: Planning for intervention in Yu-Shan, Meeting the Sorrowhands at the Jade Pleasure Dome, Talking with Celestial Lions. […]

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