The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CLIV – Trees Aperitif

Now that Charles can finally handle multitasking to go with effective multipresence, a lot of minor things are coming up…

Buying from the Fey was still going strong… This time it was duck-kids.

Duck Kids? Had someone actually produced Duck-Beastmen? WHY?

(Charles) “Er… and what did you do?”

(Kids, after some frantic quacking) “We got a little too close to the local fae territory! Way too close! Chayana fell across the border, and we tried to grab her, but we got caught too!”

(Charles) “So you knew it was there then? Why did they turn you into ducks?”

The kids didn’t know. After all, the whims of the fey could be quite bizarre! They might just have wanted to see what duck-people looked like.

(Charles) “Well… what did you use to look like?”

Surprisingly – at least if you don’t know that most “aliens” were basically human – a lot like people from Earth, but with red skin and an extra eye in the middle of their forehead.

(Charles) “Well… who’d like to go back to “normal” and who’d like another look? And who’d like to go home?”

Most of them preferred both to go home and to go back to normal… except for Fareldin, who he’d been talking to, and Linayera and Samaradi; they’d like (thanks to a lack of parents) to stay in Aden.

(Charles) “Well, you’re welcome if you want!”

That could be a reasonable general procedure for orphans and such…

Charles was checking on the power output of the Water Pole Manse when he remembered that – just a little ways off – there was a broken manse. It had been guarded by demons, but since there was no one else around who might get hurt…

And someone had indeed sent more guardian demons.

(Charles) “Hey! You guys! Why are you here?”

(The new Silakzon, rustling their leaves in certain frequencies) “Why are you here, oh tasty one?”

(Charles) “Oh, I like to fix things and this manse is broken and I was going by! So why are you hanging out here instead of back in Malfeas where you’d be more comfortable?”

(Silakzon) “We were summoned here to guard this place and fertilize ourselves with the bodies of intruders… I grabbed one just today!”

(Charles) “Now that’s not nice! Did you warn whoever it was?”

A quick check showed that the unfortunate victim was pretty thoroughly dead – although it was hard to blame a bound demon too much for doing as it had been told.

(Silakzon) “Uh… no. Why would I do that? And he tried to scrape my bark!”

(Charles) “Well, it’s polite! It IS their world now!”

He put up a long-term warn-off ward.

(Another Silakzon) “Well, at least YOU’RE under the canopy!”

It and its friends rustled their metallic leaves in irritation. They did glimmer prettily – but the straight sunlight pretty obviously irritated them.

Charles threw up some shadows and provided plenty of fertilizer…

(Charles) “Anyway… can I go ahead and fix it?”

(Silakzon) “Ew! This doesn’t taste like flesh at all!”

They threw it back at him… Huh. It was chemically right, but it was only transmuted flesh… did they want the residual life force? Easy enough to check! He wyld-shaped some recently- deceased corpses over in Aden and brought them through to see if they liked those.

That got them eating – and some of them holding out branches for more.

(Silakzon) “More meeeeaaat…”

(Silakzon) “Pleeeease?”

Why not? Charles made LOTS more meat – enough to keep them sated for quite some time (and, incidentally, to confuse them; normally people got upset when they asked for more corpses).

(Charles) “So can I fix it, or is allowing that against your orders?”

(Silakzon) “Err… what were you going to do? We have to object to anything that would bar Mistress! She had very important things to do once she found a specimen!”

(Charles) “Er… Specimen? I thought the manse was broken!”

(Silakzon) “Mistress wanted to test the specimen’s durability!”

(Charles, with some confusion) “The manse? They’re usually pretty durable!”

(Silakzon) “Uhm… I’m not sure what the specimen was, but the last one disappeared from where Mistress was keeping it!”

Charles quietly probed the manse and the area around it a bit. It looked like… somebody had set up some gear inside – a variant on geomantic stabilization equipment. A small area inside the Manse was now safe to be within. There was a bedroll and some food within that area, but there was no one there at the moment.

There was also a ward around that area; Anti-Nocturnal, turned inward.

Huh! Well, there was nobody there NOW, and the basic repairs could be done at range. He went ahead and repaired things.

Other than that… there was a rather large concentration of demonic Essence around. Still, as long as it was warded off and no one else was in trouble… Still…

(Charles) “Would you guys like to go home?”

The silakzon who was stuck in the sunny spot would like that very much! The yellow sun here was all wrong and made them all itchy but HE was miserable!

(Charles) “Well, I can send you if you want! I presume it’s not your fault and so it’s allowed if someone does a banishment back to Malfeas?”

Their summoner wouldn’t be happy if they crossed her path of course. On the other hand, most First Circles looked the same to those not of their species and Malfeas was a very big place.

(Charles) “Home you go then! Have a nice time there!”

Well, they knew that Hell was Hell, and suffering was the way of life. On the other hand, being on Earth was BORING. They couldn’t even move when they were hungry. Besides… having someone ask what THEY wanted, and worrying about THEIR feelings was a new and unique experience.

And there was be a faint pulse of Essence about a mile to the west. Charles had a look over that way while he was at it!

It was a column of red, yet silent Essence over by a cluster of trees. It felt like there was an Infernal artifact over that way – which meant it was time for another probe.

It felt like… an opening: one of Cecelyne’s probes into Creation. But there was no natural pathway here. A gateway artifact maybe? There… were definite silver-sand energies leaking from that direction, and the burning sensation of hot demon brass Several distinctly Malfean Essence signatures, mingled with humanity, were coming through.

Charles thoroughly scanned and recorded the repaired manse and headed cautiously over that way!

It appeared to be a squad of individuals in Malfean brass armor, carrying tubes made of the same material. There was a crystal on each tube. One of them shut the portal, which was also made of brass, using a glowing wand-like object. Perhaps it was the Malfean equivalent of a GDI? The silver sands whirling in the portal evaporated, and the portal frame itself contracted into a box. One of them was carrying another tube on his or her back.

Charles sent them a “Hello!” – while simultaneously checking with the Convention on Demons and Malfeas and such to tell them what was going on and ask if they were aware of it.

(CDM&S) “That’s a VERY bothersome situation! Can he tell how long the portal-artifact has been there? Normally those take a lot of the attuned individual’s mote pool.”

They had no doubt that Charles could disable it, of course; Charles was VERY well known to them. He told them that he’d file a report afterwards; he didn’t have very much information yet…

Meanwhile, a bit of thaumaturgy had come back… .

(Brass Armor I) “Who is this?”

(Charles) “Oh, I’m Charles! Did you need something?”

(Brass Armor I) “Were you the one who banished the demons?”

(Charles) “They were bored!”

(Brass Armor II) “Bodyguard-demons usually are… you banished them all at once!”

That individual was reopening the portal.

(Charles) “There’s no one here to watch anyway!”

From the physical positioning they seemed to be debating… The one with the extra tube is being rather animated.

(Charles) “And I didn’t banish them particularly… I just let them go. They weren’t happy here anyway.”

(Brass Armor I) “Hey, can you wait just a second? We need to check on some things.”

(Charles) “If you want!”

The Malfeans went wandering off into the forest – and came in for an annoying surprise when they tried to ambush Charles. Charles wasn’t big on combat-charms, but he was prepared for THAT.

The one fellow’s tube contains a rather large glob of something that cames hurtling right toward Charles. It looked quite sticky! As for the others, when they caressed their tubes crystals, green flames came out.

Charles let Elzeard’s perfect interposition block things, as tree roots reached up, grabbed the incoming attacks, and pulled them into the ground.

(Charles) “Oh dear! Are you upset over something?”

(Brass Armor II, Sheepishly) “Mom said we were supposed to capture anybody who banished all the demons. Can we go home now? She gave us a folding dirt buggy for the sands!”

(Charles) “If you want! Would you like a picnic basket to go with it?”

(Brass Armor I) “Um… we kind of need to take you with us! Are you a specimen?”

(Charles) “I don’t think so! Would you like a specimen?”

(Brass Armor II) “But we need a human specimen… otherwise Mom will be cross with us, and things will get nasty!”

(Charles) “OK!”

He gave them a probe-construct, like the one he’d sent to the Arbiter.

(Charles) “Will that do?”

(Brass Armor I) “It’s like an exploration suit! OK, what sort of Essence readings can we get out of this!”

Charles hadn’t really considered that. Some anyway, and a lot of mixed-in technological and artifact readings.

(Brass Armor II) “Now what about fate-warping? Can you do that?”

(Charles) “Uhm… It depends on what you want… but what is it you’re really trying to get here?”

(Brass Armor I) “Mom wants new Exalts! Not ones that glow gold, green, black, silver, elemental, or just with all sorts of colors! She wants indigo!”

Ah! Nocturnal-hunting!

(Charles) “Because they’re new? And who’s your mom?”

(Brass Armor II) “Um… I guess. I don’t really know her name; she gave that up a long time ago! She says that thinking about that stuff too much ties you down!”

(Charles) “Ah. Well… Maybe we can talk directly, but if you haven’t got any other business around here at the moment there’s no reason why you shouldn’t go play with your buggy!”

(Brass Armor I) “Can I still have a picnic basket? The suits’ nutrient fluid is yucky.”

(Brass Armor II) “And can it have five days’ worth of food?”

Charles whipped them up a very minor artifact of indefinite picnics.

(Brass Armor I) “Wow, you’re not a jerk at all! You’d be in big trouble back home!”

(Charles) “It’s probably a good thing I don’t live there then!”

They took essence readings on Charles and the construct, loaded the construct into the folding dirt buggy, and headed back home.

Once they were gone, Charles patched the weak spot, made a note to see who wanted to talk on the construct at some other time, and filed a report… at least that only took a few moments!

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