The Chronicles Of Heavenly Artifice CLXXXI – The Chaotic Forging

In Yu-Shan, Charles was headed for the central peak, trying to trace the essence flows to the exact location of the last few poles! The Jade Pleasure Dome was pretty much in the center of Yu-Shan: a building a mile high, and no other building in the place could be taller than it. The reason for that law wasn’t really known… Perhaps it was some occult principle holding the geomancy together, a pre-War taboo, or something else entirely? (Note that, in our Yu-Shan, the official map is a bit off).

That was a bother – but the elemental pole should be considerably larger than any single building – and the links to Creation were probably outside the dome unless the Games were tied into them somehow. Charles… settled down on a park bench for the moment and started tossing beacon-bottles into the various essence flows that went into the central peak – quite a few of which came back out again of course.

The (relatively) small outcropping-peak that Jade Pleasure Dome sat upon was quite impressive indeed, given that it was an enormous mass of pure adamant! It hummed with power and glowed with its own light. Gods surrounded the place, bargaining, dickering, and (for the most desperate) outright begging for tickets inside to watch the Games. It was sad that, with the city as it was, watching the Incarnae play the Games of Divinity was STILL the sign that you had “made it”.

Charles had larger matters on his mind. Besides, he’d had a peek – and he hadn’t been all that impressed what with Dudael to shield him from the mental influence. A good thing, since the Games were the most addictive thing in the universe, able to ensnare even incautious Exalted. Yet, if what the Celestial lions had told him was true, the Incarnae themselves were immune. Then why did they play so much? Speculation for another time, though! He was busy probing!

His probes… split in MANY directions once they hit the Dome. Most slid down the mountain and deep into the underground levels – headed right to the bottom. Some of those then dropped into Creation, someplace to the galactic south of Earth’s location. Others instead rose far above the mountain, to the Sky Dome’s center. The rest – and it certainly seemed like far too few! – dispersed across the city. Some of those looked like they’d eventually hit the other poles.

Well, he’d have been VERY surprised if there hadn’t been essence flowing between the poles.

The ones to Creation… Well, there were the Oort Cloud tie-ins he’d already handled; they had some inputs from here as well – but it looked like the Matter Pole was doing several things. It allowed elementals to exist as physical beings by default – thus making their interaction with Creation easier while similarly complicating their ability to go insubstantial. That function was most effective on (of course) wood elementals. It also bound the souls of mortal beings to living bodies and soothed the elemental energies enough that eating hot or cold foods wasn’t likely to kill a mortal being. Finally, it also governed the non-pleasure related aspects of taste and texture. There was a weak link to the Elemental Pole of Pleasure involved with that particular function. It… pretty much eased the nourishment of physical bodies – perhaps a necessity when your kind was used to spiritual ones?

That was going to be HARD to substitute for; it had to be moderating the effect of the entire earth elemental pole – or at least a portion of it’s output. Still, it was only a small portion… He’d have to put manses around the earth at the vertexes of a dodecahedron to match with the five poles. Fine adjustments would call for a dedicated synergistic overmind too. They’d need to be indestructible, and have an exceptional range of influence – and probably have some feeder manses and dedicated guardian forces. A good thing that he could make manses very quickly indeed!

Ah, the hassles of working with Nascent Ones! Not that a mature Primordial would be that much easier… PLUS the hassles of working with a system which was never designed to exist without Primordial inputs…

Charles sighed, opened his eyes, and got up to head for the next pole! He had to get things scheduled! Straight up to the Pole of Adamant at the center of the Sky Dome… He’d have to fly to get there – but that was pretty trivial, and it was even legal to do so as long as you were quiet about it!

Currently, Mars’ star hung high in the starry night sky… Probably not for TOO much longer, though; the Sun had has his ways of getting the lead back.

Charles… was being quite careful not to ram his head into the sky. It was easier than he’d expected, as he rose from the marbled central streets and their elegant gold and silver skyscrapers it swiftly became apparent – even if it was normally almost invisible from the ground – that the dome did have structural supports. He could simply keep an eye on their curve as the sun rose again over Heaven. The (many) portions of the city that were empty definitely felt like they were getting a less brilliant form of that light. It felt like something in the Dome itself, far above, was blocking it. Up here… yes, that was most certainly a projection, and it was dimmer above the empty quarters. It felt like it was coming from the very center of the Dome, right above the Jade Pleasure Dome and the mountain.

Hmm… Well, it wasn’t the “correct” light source, so interfering was pretty reasonable… And to the center of the dome it was!

The pinnacle of the Sky Dome was a cap of solid adamant – some of the purest he’d ever seen. It was perfectly smooth, and glimmered with the light of the Sun. The sun’s presence didn’t quite feel right on it though! Well… he looked at the essence flows and started trying to map them to Creation!

The adamant’s Essence felt different as well – purer, more intense, and almost white jade-like in its solidity. The Essence flows did indeed go to the top-northward-portion of the Oort Cloud. There were signs of his prior work dispersing the energy flows, and odd feelings. Almost an equivalent to the kind of static shock that you’d get from touching a metal object after dragging your socked feet on a carpet.

Well, he’d already covered the control input to Creation… On the Yu-Shan end… it was the seed for all the adamant in Yu-Shan. It connected to the structural supports, which were sturdy pipes. They connected to the adamant sublayer. Within the pipes, there were many, many long-unused spigots and valves… They felt like they could extend or retract as needed. There was something else in the Sky Dome, about at the center. It was invisible from the outside, but there was a ring of green and blue jade within, also retractable. It felt almost alive, much like the pinnacle.

Instead of solidity and static, though, that felt of reserves of gasses – a dizzying variety of gasses. For making weather, differing environments, and that sort of thing? It was linked to… the pole of wood rather than air. Quite a few of those gases were hallucinogens and toxins-weapons – which did fall under Wood’s purview – and by extension, the world-body’s Pole of Matter. So… weather and internal defenses?

Oh dear. They were multiply-connected – and to places outside the usual list… it was going to be very difficult to determine if everything was covered. Evidently the construction of Creation had not been easy – and he was trying to more or less reverse-engineer it! He’d just have to deploy lots and lots of search teams to look for secondary controls…

It looked like… the Pole of Matter handled taste and texture for things you should eat. The connection between it and the Pole of Adamant – enhanced by the deva he’d just found – involved the taste and texture of poisonous things – plants and animals alike. Which was to say… invoking the physical instinct NOT to eat things like that. Also, it covered the weather and security systems for the entire world-body.

There was either a lot less built into creation’s creatures than he’d thought, things had stabilized over time, or this was mostly redundant backup systems… Of course, humans could somewhat function in the Wyld and physical beings seemed to do just fine with only minor physical prompting so the last two seemed most likely!

(Charles) “Allo there!”

There was a slow stirring on the other end. A spigot deployed from the ring, right next to him. And, out of it it popped… a cloud, like the ones people could summon through prayer. The cloud felt like anticipation.

Charles sent some anticipation and friendliness back – and got the feeling that whatever was in there wanted him to sit on the cloud.

Why not?

It was as comfortable as any transit cloud, to be sure – like a silken pillow. And he heard a voice in his head, that… smelled. Whatever smell that was, it was pleasant and not at all a part of Creation.

(Cloud) “Ah… Cangha told me of you. It’s about time you visited.”

(Charles) “Well, I was trying to get all the support and control inputs to Creation sorted out! And visit everyone and all the poles at the same time. It’s pretty complicated!”

(Cloud) “Now that’s a complicated system – the most complex extra-world-body construct since Zen Mu. Ah… I’m Huajen, the Lattice of Vapors, by the way – the second line of Yu-Shan’s security triumvirate.”

(Charles) “I’m Charles Dexter Ward – or sometimes Aden Shining Dream – and I fix things!… Hm… I get the feeling that one reason that Yu-Shan had to sleep was because all of her Devas would be fully occupied with control inputs to creation, at least at first, and that that would become less necessary as Creation stabilized since it actually proved too stable for a proper shut-down last time around?”

(Huajen) “Hmm… you’re not actually a Nascent One. There’s too much meat there. But you have at least some knowledge of how that process worked. When the young mistress fell asleep to merge with Gaia, the polar energies intermingled and interfaced with us. I myself was responsible for all physical toxins, hallucinogens, and mind-altering substances – and some interfacing with the Pole of Air for weather. I’m mostly linked to the Pole of Wood, but it was necessary to get the correct balances. (There was a sensation of confusion) I’m afraid I don’t understand the full scope-I’m only one being. The young mistress and Ayuji attempted to explain, but I still didn’t fully understand. It was indeed wildly complex, as you’d expect the structure of physical and mental existence to be. Many symbolic associations, such as emotions with weather and food, did not start out that way; it took many decades of linking and connection before they became less physical.”

(Charles) “Hm… So if I locate everyone and the poles, I should be able to sort out all the continuing control input necessities – which will free all of you up too.”

(Huajen) “I would enjoy that very much. It’s stifling, being stuck in my central structure. I’m sure the others would agree.”

(Charles) “Well, it’s more things that need fixing!”

Well, at least that would be a relatively short list! The Devas and Poles should cover it. The Devas inputs, at least, should be replicable with a small group of manses; they’ve had to be more fine control than raw power. That was very good considering the time pressure!

Next up… the Pole of Reason! He had been relying an awful lot on deduction and theory after all…

That led him back to the Heart of the Canals – but the canal gods were happy to let him back in; they were quite grateful for his fixing things. They weren’t even wearing the anti-heat and molten metal armor any more. Everything was working just fine. It was now only comfortably warm beneath the aboveground facility instead of being sweltering. The mechanisms occasionally whistled and hissed, but that was to be expected with steam. The pool of molten gold and quicksilver was no longer boiling, though it was still too hot to dive into without protection. Probes… extended all the way to the bottom, just beneath the Heart of the Canals’ mechanisms.

Since it was all working properly, Charles scanned around! Was the manse a part of the elemental pole, or just very near it? Ah… very near, and connected to it, but not truly part of it. Charles checked with Yao Xin to see what control inputs he put into Creation – and tossed the usual essence-bottles into the outflow to the pole.

(Yao Xin) “I was to give sapient beings the desire to be… better, or at least different from how they currently are, and to give nonsapients the urges that helped them learn and grow. That was very stressful, you know – meat isn’t an easy material to work with – and over extra-world-body distances, too! It would have been even harder had Cangha and I not been compatible with Gaia’s Pole of Water.”

(Charles) “Hm! So your input flows into the pole of water then – at least primarily. Do you still have to do that much, or has a lot of it become a part of Creations basic pattern?”

(Yao Xin) “Thankfully, no! That engaged most of my being for a century or two, and was arduous. I… probably would have exploded by now if it were still at the initial level.”

(Charles) “Ah good! That means that I can set up some automatic systems to handle the current load relatively easily… And I’m glad you haven’t exploded!”

Yao Xin was glad too… That would have caused considerable damage to Yu-Shan’s being as well as killing her – and Yu-Shan wasn’t in a state to create a replacement Third Circle at the moment.

Since everything was going well, Charles traced the control inputs, checked out their nature – and designed manses to handle them.

Lets see… that left the Pole of Mind and Xiang, the Gallery of Captured Dreams – located deep beneath the empty quarters of southern Yu-Shan. It was a windy journey in the tunnels – and there were several clashes with wild deiphage herds (which were duly healed (Charles was hiding less and less as time got shorter) and sent off for re-orientation!), some encounters with traps (including a nasty spiked falling block and a mechanical set of puzzle chambers), and various barriers – but, eventually, Charles reached a chamber full of guardian scarabs, guarding a sealed door… The writ will get him through, but with their chittering voices, they asked if he really wanted to go in there!

(Charles) “I’m afraid that I pretty much have to! I have to talk to some very old presences…”

(Scarabs) “Then raissse your ssssshaping protections… whatever is in the sssecond chamber sssstinks of the Wyld!”

(Charles) “They’re pretty much inherent these days!”

The Scarabs stopped their constant crawling over the doors long enough for him to enter.

And on into the Gallery of Captured Dreams! At a guess, a bunch of Raksha or Unshaped in a Deva!

It was… a museum. What with the name, that wasn’t entirely unexpected. The first chamber was lovely, with frescoes all over the walls depicting Yu-Shan – who was apparently quite busy before Creation came to be. There she was, a razored four-petalled blossom in her world-jouten form, devouring things that were likely Unshaped. They were hard for even Charles’ mind to process… The door to the next room resembled an airlock – and there was a STRONG Wyld resonance there… Charles addressed the airlock itself.

(Charles) “Hello! I need to speak with Xiang!”

(A female voice, full of laughter) “Ahahaha! Finally, a shaped being dares the Gallery of Captured Dreams! The great experiment has succeeded! I’m Xiang! And what do you call yourself?”

(Charles) “Charles Dexter Ward!”

(Xiang) “Then come in… being that is both Nascent One and meat at the same time! Come in, and see my works!”

(Charles) “And I have to arrange for Yu-Shan to be able to break free from Creation without disrupting it… And OK!”

(Xiang) “Bah! It has been too long! I chafe against this chrysalis, unable to see if the first great experiment worked. Perhaps you know enough to evaluate my works. Aha! But first, the lock!”

The door opened – and Charles headed on through! As expected, it was basically an airlock – but designed to hold in wyld influences rather than air! There were diagnostics – from the very archaic Old Realm text, to determine if he was a Shapeless masquerading as a Nascent One. But all his internal devas passed the test; they were actual devas, not emanations made to read that way. A good thing that he’d figured out how to do the upgrades!

The TRUE gallery was a cross between an art museum and a hazmat facility. There were countless Raksha here, frozen in place, in various tableaus or simply preserved. They were a little different than the Raksha Charles was used to, though… normally, a Raksha would have an Assumption, or be formless chaos! All of these were in various in-between states, though: some with their Graces arranged in various patterns in the chaos, others with partially-formed bodies, and still others with what appeared to be Assumptions. They weren’t actually real enough though. Powerful enough to be both at once? It really didn’t quite look like it… quite a lot of them had facial expressions of terror, or fear. Some were holding their limbs, whatever they were, in front of their faces, or looked like they were screaming.

(Charles) “Uhm… Were they in the middle of taking form there?”

(Xiang, wistfully) “Ah, the first great experiment… to give the Shapeless form! From the time Time began, I tried. But the silly things were unable to take it without… complications.”

(Charles) “Uhm… it has to come from an internal expression of their own narrative; trying to force them into a form of someone else’s design is going to disrupt them!”

(Xiang) “Their narratives were also formless. Thus, the second great experiment: to create a touchstone! Something solid, something real: an anchor! A splendid idea on Gaia’s part! You have no idea how much persuasion it took for me to persuade the kid – and to convince Dumenza to stand down. So… did it work?”

(Charles) “Hm… They do need something to react to… I’d say that it worked to a reasonable extent! They have to abandon portions of their internal narrative to squeeze down though!”

(Xiang) “That was inevitable – which is a shame. Ah well, they’re resourceful little things. I’ll have to explain it to the ones that haven’t been tested yet!”

(Charles) “Well, would you rather let some who have already done it explain? If you won’t catch them or insist they stay I can probably talk them into it!”

(Xiang) “Oh, come on, kid. Give me the fun of the hunt when I get out! It’s been… FORTY THOUSAND YEARS!?”

(Charles) “I meant to the ones that you’ve already got – unless you’ve already tried on all of them?”

(Xiang) “Too long, much too long! I only wanted to provoke them, not give them long term hatred. That warps the narrative too much . . ergh. Fine, I’ll need the help corralling the really angry ones.”

Hm… It looked like the ones on display were salvageable. If they were given something real to push against that wasn’t Yu-Shan’s world body or Xiang’s personal narrative of giving chaos form, they could reconcile it with their own narrative! That was good! Fortunately time didn’t mean much to them unless something was happening! He’d have to arrange it!

(Xiang) “Heh. And I remember you saying something about getting the kid back to the Wyld. That’s something I can get behind-it’s been too long since I experimented! Why don’t you come back to the archives?”

(Charles, coming along) “Why not?”… Uhm… do you exercise any control over creation by the way?”

(Xiang) “Not that much any more – but when the kid’s brothers and sisters were forming the place, I was responsible for imagination! All kinds of imagination… I guess it’s appropriate since I was the one who worked with the Wyld the most. Now if you wanted that imagination to become reality? Go talk to Muquinas in the Primal Forge. He’s the Jouten-Creation Interface. (And in a more worried tone) I hope those geomantic disruptions didn’t hurt him too badly. Nice deva, despite coming from the Great Maker. Real inventive type, just like me!”

(Charles, considering) “I think enough chaos has been infused into Creation to cover the imagination part… And I’ll have to talk to everybody I think!”

The Archives were huge and dimly lit. There were several compressed Unshaped in here: a storm of whirling colors, a forest of shadows, a city built of light, and a sea full of emotions.

Charles waved! They probably weren’t too aware, but it was really hard to tell with Unshaped as far as he’d heard!

And… there was a tube, similar to a Tender’s pod, with a woman inside. Her hair shimmered with the colors of the Wyld, most of which did not exist in Creation, and her skin was opalescent. Goggles covered her eyes, and she wore a bodysuit with the narrative of form and structure upon it. Of course there was a white coat, crumpled on the floor, right next to the tube.

(Xiang, speaking from the tube) “You’re… smaller than you looked on the systems. Are you even a century old?”

(Charles) “No! I’m almost fifteen now!”

(Xiang) “Wow… just what are you? It shouldn’t be possible for meat to channel that much power.”

(Charles) “I’m really not too sure any more!”

(Xiang) “I’ll have to study you when I’m free. How long on that? I wasn’t kidding about the chafing.”

(Chiang) “It should be a little under two months now!”

(Xiang) “Phew… not long at all. We’ll have to hold a Carnival of Meeting after this.”

(Charles) “Well, presuming that it all works! Otherwise it would be bad!”

(Xiang) “Yeah, let me look over those plans… I heard something about a Wyld layer in there, which I’ve wanted for… since before there was Time.”

Charles pulled them up – despite their absurd complexity.

(Xiang) “Hahaha! A Yu-Shan, for the Shaped and Shapeless alike? And for the meat, and the Tenders, and the gods… it’s a good thing I can have multiple manifestations. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to see it all at once.”

(Charles) “Well, it will open more possibilities all around! And… it will probably be the only way to get around all the people who would oppose any single shift; it will be going the way they want it to for pretty much everyone!”

(Xiang) “Cangha and Yao Xin said there was a lot of them who’d object. Say… can you get me one of these Sidereal thingies I keep hearing about? Apparently I can channel my power through them!”

(Charles) “Well, once everyone is out and about again you can talk to them and see! There will likely be one!”

(Xiang) “Aw… stupid Yao Xin and Quan Pen being lucky. Two months isn’t that long – I’ll just have to make a deal.”

(Charles) “There’s no accounting for luck really.”

(Xiang) “I know! So… you’re doing all this through Manses. Sort of like the Great Maker and his Artifacts. Lots of Wyld Revocation, then?”

(Charles) “I like Wyld Revocation! And I do wind up using a lot of it!”

(Xiang) “Well, use it all you want, kid. And stick those Manses someplace where the hannya or whatever you call them won’t eat them!”

(Charles) “They aren’t too big a worry now! Things have gotten a lot larger! (And it was time for the POWERS OF TEN video!)

(Xiang) “Okay, that would be a bother if I hadn’t ordered Dumenza to set up that embassy. Is it still there?”

(Charles) “The one to the wyld? Yes it is – but it’s not used much these days.

(Xiang) “Ahaha… that’s a shame. Why?”

(Charles) “Well, the gods haven’t had much interest in talking to the Raksha since the last crusade of theirs nearly destroyed Creation.”

(Xiang) “Okay, that was definitely them getting annoyed by whatever’s kept it up this long. If they nearly destroyed it after… what was it, about three, four thousand years? It’s a good thing that it’s bigger now.”

(Charles) “ It does provide a lot more defensive resources! A fair number of them have moved in pretty much permanently though!”

(Xiang) “Well, if like you said, there were more invading, they got stuck! They’d HAVE to use these assumption thingies to survive the calcification. And developing a narrative to coexist with the house of the Primordials, as opposed to destroying it, would be necessary to settle down someplace.”

(Charles) “Yep! They’ve gotten used to the place now, and generally want to keep it around – even if they like to claim otherwise.”

(Xiang) “Haha! The experiment was more successful than the kid and I expected. What a pleasant surprise!”

(Charles) “Well, once they started picking narratives that gave them more or less stable identities, the nature of those narratives was more or less random – and if they weren’t compatible, they tended to leave…”

(Xiang) “Eh, that would happen.”

(Charles) “Anyway… that’s what I’m going to need to do!”

(Xiangs) “Eh. Whether or not you’re a Nascent One, you’ve got enough infrastructure to pull it off… I’ve got only two worries. Ayuji isn’t talking, even to Cangha. Ayuji doesn’t stop talking. Ever. And you’re working with something that took a lot of Primordials to make in the first place. From what you told me, the Emerald Mother got lucky with HER alterations.”

(Charles) “Well, Gaia mostly mirrored the most durable, stable, portion of the basic structure… I don’t know whether to try to check with Ayuji next or last!”

(Xiang) “Just… don’t get too crazy with your alterations on the Creation side. I assume you already got Yu-Shan’s permission? It’s polite! Still, try to track down Ayuji! She and the kid were inseparable before!”

(Charles) “I’m still betting that she’s hiding in the loom…”

(Xiang) “Well, is it still threaded?”

(Charles) “Yes! Although I suspect that she’s kind of overloaded!”

(Xiang) “With that big an area, I wouldn’t be surprised… but if it’s threaded, she is the thread! Why can’t the kid sense her?”

(Charles) “I think that she’s intentionally hiding!”

(Xiang) “Probably spooked by whatever changed the geomancy… Ayuji was always skittish.”

(Charles) “Well… there was the whole war there! And the gods changing everything up here… And the Maidens and Sidereals wanting to work on everything.”

(Xiang) “Hoo… good luck getting her to come out then.”

(Charles) “It may be kind of awkward – but hopefully she’ll feel a bit safer after…”

(Xiang) “I hope so! Ayuji is no fun when she’s skittish! Less than usual, I mean.”

(Charles) “Well… More to fix!”

(Xiang) “ It never ends!”

(Charles) “It doesn’t seem to! Oh well, you can always make progress!”

(Xiang) “That’s what the kid always said… can’t stay in one place! But Bayanji – you know her as the Algedonic Palace – can tell you about when she did.” (Xiang smiled in the tube, as if remembering something fondly.)

(Charles) “Well… I’d better go; there are several more people to talk to!”

(Xiang) “Come back soon! It gets lonely in here.”

(Charles) “I will if I can!”

He headed for the Primal Forge.

The Primal Forge was in the middle of a large empty quarter, a hundred acres of industrial wasteland in eastern Yu-Shan, right in the center of a maze of pipes and iron walls. The lions patrolling this area – surrounding an ancient manse that was normally a high crime to even attempt to penetrate – wanted to know why Charles’s writ brought him HERE of all places. After all, the defenses inside were reputed to have killed every God or Exalt who did manage to get inside.

(Charles) “Because the Forge was involved in creating the links between Yu-Shan and Creation, and I need to talk to it!”

(Wangyu, who had gotten the word from his superiors) “Talk to it? There’s a Deva in THERE?”

(Charles, reasonably) “How else would you get defenses capable of overwhelming everyone who’s attempted to get in to date? Exalts are often very hard to kill! But a Deva can match the power level, and being supported by the Forge gives it almost limitless energy reserves.”

(Wangyu) “You might have a point – but good luck finding the Deva in there. You’ll handle most of the defenses fine – but it’s as big as Yu-Shan inside!”

(Charles) “That’s why I’m knocking! To target the defenses, the controller must be able to sense intrusions, so it will be aware of me and what I’m doing – which is trying to get an interview!”

(Wangyu) “Eh, you’ve got a writ, and knowing you, you’re excited. I want you to be careful, though!”

(Charles) “I will be!”

Wangyu and the other lions on duty stood aside and watched… No one had attempted to penetrate the Forge in a great while, much less legally.

Charles did indeed wander up and knock – while broadcasting into the Primal Forge.

(Charles) “Mr Muquinas? Xiang thought that it might be best if I talked to you next!”

The whole place started to hum – and a voice, like it was in some pain, spoke…

(Muquinas) “Help… me… Autochthon? Help…”

It took hardly any analysis at all to diagnose an extreme power shortage. Charles promptly channeled in some geomantic relay points and did a few obvious repairs. Unfortunately… the Primal Forge was a major site for the old geomancy. He’d have to repair some of those connections, and cause the amount of “pure” geomancy to go up, to do it right – and it was already at almost 73%. This would boost it by about 1% – and if it hit 75%… the Bronze faction would almost certainly try to start Stanewald, even if the WEREN’T yet ready for it!

As the geomantic power flowed in, the humming grew louder. The lions stepped back… While they were no cowards, this was a little beyond the usual!

Well… it was already in an abandoned district and it would take some time for the effect to spread…

The place was already humming pretty loudly. – but the increasing energy-flow sent glowing channels of Essence through all the pipes and walls… and the ground, tracing out the local geomancy. THAT shouldn’t matter much though! No one lived here after all (the lions made sure of that) – and it was someone asking for help…

And it wasn’t like there weren’t plenty of rumors about him already.
The door opened with quite a grind; it HAD been many millennia.

(Wangyu) “Kid . . whoever that was called you Autocthon. Are you really… him?”

(Charles) “Nope! There are some resemblances though!”

(Wangyu) “If that’s a Deva… of who? Tell me when you get back here.”

(Charles) “OK!”

Inside it was dim and it’s huge; the entry room had it’s own horizon despite being indoors. It was also surprisingly disorganized. Machinery and crates, the latter long-worn, were everywhere around him, all locked down. The locks… hummed with Essence that felt quite deadly. Beneath him he could hear the sounds of yet more machinery. Ahead, corridors and catwalks stretched toward the horizon. Dusty skylights of reinforced adamant provided the only light. (There was lighting around, but much like Dudael it was industrial – and there was no sign of an on switch.

(Charles) “Allo! Does that help any?”

(Muquinas) “It stopped the bleeding, but I still hurt.”

(Charles) “What’s hurting?”

(Muquinas) “Everything.”

(Charles) “Hm… are you still tied to all the links with Creation? Or is there some other way I can help?”

(Muquinas) “You… know what I am?”

(Charles) “Well, mostly! I’ve spoken to a fair number of the others and to Yu-Shan!”

(Muquinas) “Make it stop. This wasn’t meant to happen; I’m not compatible with the current geomancy. It hurts…”

And the entire Forge… coughed.

Oh dear! There was only one thing to do! the geomantic flows were differently arranged and not compatible, but he couldn’t put them back without risking starting Stanewald = so Charles set up a ring of artifacts (adamant spikes, rather like the tenders needles scaled up) to adjust it so that it felt like the old geomancy across Yu-Shan from inside and the outside mostly shunted around it. He had to tie in some manse power sources, but that was no big deal.

(Muquinas) “Ahh… that feels so much better. Are you sure you aren’t some manifestation of the master?”

(Charles) “ I’m pretty sure! I’m new, and he’s been unconscious for quite a while. I’ll have to treat him after Yu-Shan!”

(Muquinas) “But Za’el is with you… ah, I see. He finally went through with it.”

(Charles) “Well, I think he’s a special case!”

(Muquinas) “Treat Yu-Shan… are you going to fix this?”

Charles went through the show-and-explain-the-plans routine again.

(Muquinas) “And you have her permission, which should help. That was more than they got… why did they do such a thing? Why did they hurt me so much?”

(Charles, sighing) “I think, in large part, ignorance – part real, part willful. There was a lot of damage to everyone during the war, and a lot of bitterness afterwards. I don’t know if even the Incarnae really knew you were here – but I’m pretty sure that hardly anyone else did. I’m sorry it was so long!”

(Muquinas) “I miss Autochthon.”

(Charles) “I have to help him next!”

(Muquinas) “Still not well, then.”

(Charles) “No – but he’s not as badly off as Yu-Shan is.”

(Muquinas) “I see… I hope you can set this up properly then – and that I can channel the Essence properly.”

(Charles) “Well… I’m certainly going to try! And I’m glad that you’re feeling better now!”

(Muquinas) “It still hurts a little… but I’m not in agony.”

(Charles) “Oh dear. I’m afraid that it will probably be almost two months before I can fix it entirely”.
(Muquinas) “I can manage.”

(Charles) “To finish setting up I do have to provide replacements for Yu-Shan’s control inputs into Creation… Do you have any information on that? I think that you were involved in setting them up to start with.”

(Muquinas) “Well… yes, back when I was one of Autocthon’s souls. It was quite a project.”

He went go on for quite a bit about the differences and similarities between Gaia and Yu-Shan’s Essence flows, and the testing which had determined which of them would have to sleep, and the testing before that to determine which Primordials would be best to build Creation upon. Then he started in on the control inputs!

Charles carefully recorded each bit of information with several recording artifacts!

(Muquinas) “That was… deva surgery, more or less. That’s why Creation was built upon Nascent Ones, you see. A mature Primordial’s devas are too… set in structure and disconnected from their originating geomancy. But if you alter a Nascent One deva’s Manse, or create Manses that take their structure into account to do so, it’s much easier. And as the Deva of Autochthon in charge of the project, I myself had enough malleability to become part of the interface. For he is one as well, and…”

Somehow the Primal Forge is blushing.

(Charles) “And they transplanted your manse structure to a compatible demesne set up here?

(Muquinas) “Well… yes! That’s a very intimate matter – you normally don’t discuss that. It would be like you taking all your clothes off in front of everyone.”

(Charles) “Well, yes – but I’m more or less being a Primordial Physician at the moment.”

(Muquinas) “I see… so you’ll want to, err, analyze the structure, then?”

(Charles) “I think it’s necessary! If I’m going to repair and modify the structure of Yu-Shan, I’d best have every possible detail – and it will be much safer for you if I do!”

(Muquinas) “If you must…”

(Charles) “I’m sorry about the intrusion…”

(Muquinas) “Just be delicate. Please?”

Charles was – and very fast. The environment shifted around him while he did, into a dizzying variety of workshops. If only he had the time to look around! Some of those places were incredible for Wyld shaping and mass manufacturing. Workshops were always neat!

He got a good look at the security, too: it was a good thing that he’d knocked. There were all kinds of “bad touch” and high-damage weapons in here. That would definitely have been a pain!

(Charles) “I’m finished!”

(Muquinas) “That was awkward. But did you get everything you needed?”

(Charles) “I think so! It would be nice to work with you sometime when matters are a bit less desperate and you’re feeling better!”

(Muquinas) “Ah, good… you take care of Za’el, all right?”

(Charles) “I intend to!”


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