Unfortunately, it had turned out that no one at the Academy was up to curing Gremlin Syndrome. Fortunately, Charles had been working on Unconquered Medical Perfection – which could, even if it WAS expensive to use. He hadn’t gotten around to testing it though. .
Brand DID have communications though… Unfortunately, Efficient Smith of Accords and Celerous Dart of the Heavens were pretty much totally gone in la-la-gremlin-syndrome-land. It looked like the only thing to do with them… would be to locate them and then simply deploy enough resources to capture them.
Analyst-of-Vibrant-Septs was sane enough to talk to though… maybe because his job kept him involved with people? He was under deep cover at the moment; his job had originally been to study the cities of Creation. It proved unfeasible to study them all, of course, but Earth alone has proven pretty fertile for that.
And it was almost as good in most ways; it WAS the prototype after all.
Charles called to cheerily offer him some help, a refit if he needed it, and a nice manse attunement since he HAD built a vat complex for guests.
(Analyst) “What? Who are… You’re using Brand’s link; why are you offering help and what have you done with my comrades?
(Charles) “Because there’s no reason not to and I have lots of help to hand out? And they’re down in the historical art gallery at the moment, would you like to talk to them? They’re in the Dragon King section since they found the pre-dragon-king sections kind of hard to understand!”
(Analyst) “Are they… rational?”
(Charles, startledly) “I don’t think any of the art is THAT weird!… Oh, the gremlin stuff? It’s ok at the moment!”
(Analyst) “How did you manage that one? And you have pre-Dragon King art in there? That’s fascinating; most places on this planet are devoid of even Time of Glory works.”
(Charles) “I had a palliative handy! Gremlin syndrome really wasn’t what it was meant for, but it worked pretty well on it – and Malinda got most of the artwork in; once she pulled in the patterns the reconstruction was easy enough!”
(Analyst) “Since you’re using Brand’s communicator, may I speak with him, first?”
(Charles) “I haven’t found a full cure yet, but hopefully that won’t take too much longer! And… here’s Brand!”
Analyst spent some time confirming that Brand and Shield were all right – and that it was not a trap by Efficient Smith. Fortunately, Charles had assigned Brand and Shield a few aides so that – if they e would have assigned Brand and Shield a few aides so that – if they needed a gate – they could have one.
Analyst took a very good look indeed at that (Raksha-Style) gate…
(Analyst) “Interesting . . . an extradimensional space of sorts.”
Still, his danger senses were not pinging, so he came through. He looked like… a remarkably bland human male. He had some kind of Charm installed that made people just ignore his presence and not notice that he was there on TOP of the human disguise.
(Analyst) “Oh my… so big. Graggh . . .”
He involuntarily twitched, and attempted to smash the closest object.
Fortunately his friends were down in the smaller tunnels, so closing the outside window curtains would help with that!
So did the manse attunement – and Analyst spent a nice day at the museum… He’d been the one most able to resist the mental effects anyway, and thus had been handling the surveying of human cities to determine how best to take over. It did feel good to be able to lose those nasty Voidtech Charms – and to use an actual Vats Complex, rather than the one on the ship…
A lot of the art in the section that predated Ice-That-Grinds-The-Heavens – the Zen Gardens of Qaf, the wake of Isidoros’ movements, and some of the Ebon Dragon’s social manipulations – was REALLY weird though! A lot of things were very different then…
Meanwhile, Charles had shifted his attention over to the workshop; he had to put the finishing touches on the Song of Creation. At the moment…. He was busily working on rippling sequences of essence-imbued notes and so was surrounded by lovely streams of music.
There was security – but it wasn’t especially insane. He was making a musical artifact, but it wasn’t like he didn’t make hordes of artifacts and he wasn’t telling people what this one was about.
It wasn’t enough to keep Brienna – one of the Academy Twilights – from getting in.
(Charles) “Oh, Hello! What’s up?”
(Brienna) “Hi, Charles! Of course I’d catch you working on something.”
(Charles) “Well, there’s always a lot to do!”
(Brienna) “There’s something I need to ask you about. Can you spare some time?”
She was watching the rolling notes with a good deal of interest.
(Charles) “Oh I guess! This isn’t THAT big a rush…”
The notes froze into multicolored crystals, hanging suspended in the air.
(Charles) “What is it?”
(Brienna) “Hey, thanks… anyway, I’ve been working on this project to map the geomancy near the academy. I think it’s really neat how you’ve gotten some Wyld stuff in here without it getting out of hand. And I’m also curious about the new Essence type in here, too. Something you cooked up?”
(Charles) “Well, a core of chaos is the ground state of things here… it is everywhere really, but imposing structure on it generates essence, and the tighter the structure the more essence. And once you have enough personal geomancy generating essence, it tends to resolve into a new type unique to you! And the geomancy near the academy was set up to support the academy of course…”
(Brienna) “Huh… and you use it to make a lot of your artifacts, right? You shape a lot of things out of nothing.” (She looked over at the notes.) “A lot like those. Those are really potent artifacts, and you’re just making them like it’s nothing. The sifus say I might be able to do that some day, if I get powerful enough.”
(Charles) “Well, Chaos is full of possibilities; the real problem there is getting something close enough to what you want to use, rather than some problematic variation! This sort of thing should be well within your capabilities if you work on it enough!”
(Brienna) “I plan to… they say I need a lot of magical support to make a real difference, and I don’t plan on staying in here forever.” (Brightly) “So how similar are the methods I could learn to yours? I’m… not getting an Essence reading other than awakened being, but that’s beyond mortal mages’ abilities.”
(Charles) “Well, when it comes to shaping things, the fundamental mechanics are always similar! With Solars the underlying “Perfection” narrative puts it’s own spin on things, making it easier to narrow things down to exactly what you want – and making it take longer, since the specifications are so exact.”
(Brienna) “That sounds a lot like what you’re doing, but you’re faster.”
(Charles) “:If there are unspecified details in a design, those are free to vary – which makes for unexpected surprises, even if making it a lot quicker. And I have more power and tools to work with than most people do!”
(Brienna) “The entire geomancy, apparently.”
Hm… Occult and Investigative excellencies, but not a social one. A stereotypical ivory-tower researcher! The Sidereals were probably working on that, though.
(Charles) “Well, it is an expression of me after all! Huh… I wonder if all the hobbit-inns mean that somewhere deep down I could really use a drink? Or is it just the baking?
(Brienna) “Aren’t you a little young for that? I think you just want some cookies! Or to make sure everyone in here is fed.”
(Charles) “Well, they’re the best part! Unless it’s the cakes! Or the peanut-butter things… Everyone likes to have good things to eat…”
(Brienna) “Anyway… just why did you invite us in anyway? If you’re one of those Primordial things, that seems hazardous to your health… I don’t think that’s the case. Why would your Guardians have more than seven emanations each if that was the case?”
(Charles) “Er… Why? (on the health part) But I like company, and the Gold Faction asked for an academy, so I made one for them! And I made manses to amplify things; having more staff lets me get a lot more done!”
(Brienna) “I see… so some kind of Manse Guardian then. Ummm. . Charles, just what are you? I can keep a secret! I’m just wondering because this whole world seems to be you!”
Oops! Direct questions! His greatest weakness!
Well… (he pulled up a projection of the Privacy Manse) would you mind attuning here first? It’s good for keeping secrets!”
(Brienna) “Okay… I can see why you’d want to keep secrets. What will that place do?”
(Charles) “Well, it provides a secondary mental substrate, so that you can keep secrets in it, and so that mental influence effects can’t get your secrets from you, and…”
There was much explaining.
(Brienna) “Now that’s USEFUL.”
She took notes on the geomancy and attuned,
(Charles) “Well, it was meant to be! It actually wasn’t quite up to what I wanted, but the experiment pointed the right way!”
(Brienna) “Okay, I attuned! Now you have to tell me what you are!”
(Charles) “Well… promise not to tell? After all, the privacy manse protects you from being forced to, not doing it voluntarily.”
(Brienna) “Of course. It’s just been bothering me for a while now. If Elly (her Lunar companion) hadn’t prodded me, I wouldn’t even have asked.”
(Charles) “Well… Most people only build external items; I thought that it would be fun to focus on expanding my imagination and soul into a world, and it worked really well! I don’t know how well it would work for an older Exalt like yourself though… you have to have very expansive dreams to start with to encompass a private universe in them, even if it is a little one! And that provides lots of power to make and fix things!”
(Brienna) “So – though I might be jumping a bit – you’re the same as me. At least, you seem to be working at or above Solar level…”
(Charles) “Pretty much! There might be minor variances and there was some tinkering done I think!”
(Brienna) “There’s only a few entities capable of that . . . huh. You can’t be the only one that happened to. I wonder if some of the other Exalts have had the same done to them?”
(Charles) “Well… four I think!”
(Brienna) “Wow… I guess they don’t have the infrastructure you do. Otherwise they’d be putting unbelievable ads in the papers too.”
(Charles) “Well, I’ve only met one of the others, and he had a much less extensive inner reality… but he was older when he started, and much more classically focused!”
(Brienna) “I wonder what would happen if… never mind. I’ve got to finish my map of the academy geomancy, and practice for thaumaturgy class besides. Thanks for talking to me, Charles!”
(Charles) “Oh you’re welcome! And if you want to try… You might ask Malinda first; I suspect that – if there wasn’t some sort of limitation usually in place – this would have happened at least a few times before!”
(Brienna) “I’ll go see her when I have the time!”
And Charles got back to work.