The Chronicles Of Heavenly Artifice CLXXXV – Looming Issues, The Deva Is In The Details

It was too bad that Zanjaras didn’t want to be relieved of caring for Creation – but it might regard that as it’s purpose! It would seem like a sizeable burden though – and it would still have its role in Yu-Shan. Oh well! He’d just have to figure it out later!

Besides… soon he’d have to turn much of his attention to the Wyld; he still needed some favors from the Unshaped to use in making protective enchantments for Gauderis! Fortunately he wasn’t exactly questing against them; he was perfectly willing to trade, and had enough power to make that feasible! Still… he had been making artifacts that SHOULD be useful to them – but who’s operation was contingent on being nice, keeping Creation around, or both…

Behind Charles things were getting rather frantic! The essence flows that Charles and Yu-Shan’s Devas had been unleashing were quite noticeable – and the signatures were confusing enough to make all kinds of people wonder what was going on even if they hadn’t caught a more direct look.

Fortunately, the remotes weren’t too noticeable… their power-channeling ability was very limited and they could generally pass as minor gods unless someone checked the signature very closely indeed. Even then… their signatures blended into Yu-Shan tolerably well (perhaps too well!) and the city was full of all kinds of weird creatures anyway.

Fortunately, Charles was VERY hard to catch up with when he kept using his transport amulet to teleport around Yu-Shan – and he was on his way to the peak of the dome to see Gaofeng, which was even more restrictive.

That didn’t mean that nobody was going to show up though. Quite a number of things – like powering up the Primal Forge, Increasing fertility and organization around the Cornucopia of All, and the power surges from Heart of the Canals – had been quite obvious from up high enough.

The Aerial Legion wasn’t quite as logical as the Celestial Lions – but it really wasn’t all that complicated if you weren’t professionally paranoid and didn’t focus on his smokescreens of subtle “clues”. “He learns and acts like a kid, he has vast power, he’s mono-maniacally focused, he was friendly, and he was welcome in heaven. That let out Gods (who were normally born “adult”), Yozis, Demons, everything from the underworld, Raksha and Ishvara, Humans, God-Bloods, Dragon Kings, Jadeborn, and all the other minor creatures… Primordials don’t learn like kids, ergo Celestial Exalt. Definitely not Sidereal, and pretty odd for a Lunar. Ergo…

Besides… they’d worked closely with the Solar Exalted in the First Age, and some of those energy effects were… kind of familiar. And that was big. And now he seemed to be… mapping the geomancy of Heaven itself with the cooperation of the Celestial Lions and visits to the Jade Pleasure Dome thrown in. Their sources amongst the Celestial Lions weren’t being as forthcoming as usual (and they didn’t have nearly as much power as they did during the first age, although the command of martial weather WAS still prestigious) – but they knew that there was SOMETHING alive up at the tip of the dome – although they weren’t aware that it was a Deva.

Not to mention his supplying armor and nonlethal weaponry for the entire corps of celestial lions, curing deiphages, wandering around the worst areas of Yu-Shan with no concern at all, creating powerful manses in mere minutes – and having apparently managed to get the Incarnea to authorize him going anywhere he pleased; going into the Heart of the Canals and the Primal Forge demonstrated THAT.

When Charles got to the top of the dome again there was a god already there – a fairly high-end looking fellow too, with winged blue jade armor and a body of storm clouds. That wasn’t a BIG surprise, but it was still a bit of a surprise!

(Charles) “Oh, Hello! Most people don’t spend much time up this high… was there something you needed to do up here too?”

(Vanaroth) “Hail, Charles Dexter Ward! I am Vanaroth of the Aerial Legion. My superiors had sent me up here to ask what you were doing up here. Few come up this high anymore.”

(Charles) “Well… Examining the major geomantic focus-points of Yu-Shan! There’s lots of information to be collected!”

(Vanaroth) “And what do you intend to do with that information in Heaven, of all places? Your behavior is odd, if benevolent.”

(Charles) “Well… there are a lot of things that need to be repaired or upgraded! It’s been a very long time since any serious maintenance has been done, and a lot of things are near-critical! So it’s something of a crash program!”

(Vanaroth) “Hrm… I see, such as the canals. I had an excellent view of that one. But how in Creation did you get access to THAT place? It was supposed to be too dangerous even for the lesser canal gods.”

(Charles) “Luna gave me a writ!”

Charles showed him one of the six originals…

(Vanaroth, with an arched eyebrow) “The ways of Luna are mysterious even to the other Incarnae at times.”

(Charles) “Well, it’s been very useful! The Canals needed fixing very badly indeed!”

(Vanaroth) “What about here?” (He nodded up at the very tip of the dome)

(Charles) “Well, there is a major nexus up here – and they are all crosslinked of course! So there will be some factors from here to consider, even if the amount of work actually needed here is minimal!”

The Aerial Legion did know something about that; they consulted with the geomantic gods about defensive cloud patterns. On the other hand, it was quite obvious that Charles was intentionally keeping things to generalities, rather than specifics – even if it WAS rather hard to be specific about all of Yu-Shan at once.

(Vanaroth) “Just what are you intending to fix up here? Patch up the top of the dome, or go deeper and alter the geomancy? It seems to resist alterations… Violently.”

(Charles) “Well, geomancy has a sort of personality of it’s own – so I’ll see how it’s doing!”

That provoked some confusion…

(Charles) “Was there something you needed?”

(Vanaroth) “Are you planning to do anything intrusive to the Pinnacle of the Sky Dome, or just speak to it? If it weren’t for that writ, I would have to stop you.”

(Charles) “Well, talk first! If something needs fixing… fix it! If you’ll promise to keep the details quiet for another two months, I can get started now!”

(Vanaroth) “Is it really that bad?”

That DID match with why the Lions had been so closed-mouthed lately about the geomancy.

(Charles) “Well… yes. And more complicated than you’d think!”

(Vanaroth) “All right then…” (He swore the Oath) “Let’s hear it.”

(Charles) “Well… there are several projects underway in Yu-Shan, most unauthorized; one is an ill-judged repair attempt that will – at best – collapse the city into the Labyrinth of the Underworld, turn Yu-Shan into a new Neverborn, likely destroy the Incarnae, disrupt Creations elemental poles and laws, and trigger the final collapse of Creation back into the Wyld. Of course… that project is only being considered because the situation is pretty desperate and near the final collapse anyway. So I need to fix it!”

(Vanaroth, in a VERY weary tone) “That sounds like a Sidereal project.”

(Charles) “Well yes – but they do mean well… In any case, there are only a few left to talk too…” (He sent in a probe!) “Gaofeng, the Sky Pinnacle, fourth soul of Yu-Shan! I have spoken already to Cangha, Xiang, Fayuandi, Lianza, You Xin, Dumenza, and many of the others… Will you speak with me as well? It is almost time for the awakening, and it is very important!”

There was a crackle of lightning across the adamant.

(Gaofeng) “I had heard of your coming… what do you intend for the Low-Hanging Star?”
(Charles) “I intend to restore her to health – and full consciousness. It is time for her poles to be unbound from Creation. I ask that you review the plans with me, to ensure that I am not missing any major factors!”

(Gaofeng) “Is it finally time for that? Not that it makes that much difference to me anymore, but it would be a fine thing to be embodied again. Ah… who’s your little friend there? Is that your yomi? What a pretty set of armor! Does he do tricks?”

(Charles) “Ah, this is Vanaroth of the Aerial Legion; since he promised to keep things a secret, I wasn’t bothering to hide contacting you from him… You’ve probably seen them practicing maneuvers and war games and things!”

(Gaofeng): “Oh yes. Nobody is bonded to them? That seems unfair! How do they manage those maneuvers without someone guiding them, then?”

(Vanaroth) “We’re no one’s pets.”

(Charles) “Well, Vanaroth here doubtless knows it much better than I do – but it’s a “chain of command” thing.”

Which Vanaroth was quite happy to recite in its entirety.

(Charles) “Well, to be fair… Gaofeng is considerably older than Creation, saw it’s origins, and is mostly familiar with the gods as theoritical sub-creations entrusted with particular world-functions! He isn’t too familiar with how things have gotten organized since well before the first age! Except, of course, for what he can see looking down from here…”

(Vanaroth) “Sigh… will he and the others throw us out of Heaven? I can’t see that ending without much bloodshed.”

(Charles) “Oh, that’s what this section is about! Since Yu-Shan would like to be more flexible anyway, that dovetails nicely with providing her with multiple aspects – and everyone will have an appropriate place to live!”

(Vanaroth) “Ah! Right! A Yu-Shan for all of us? That seems hard to believe.”

(Gaofeng) “And I can watch it all…”

(Charles) “Well, Gaia said she’d help with the unbinding part! She wants to make REALLY sure that nothing goes unstable there of course!”

(Gaofeng) “Oh, that’s right! I was wanting to ask you: can I broadcast the Games of Divinity in every single variant when I wake up?”

(Charles) “Hm… Probably not a good idea! A lot of the less-powerful residents can’t handle a single view, much less multiple variants!”

(Gaofeng) “Really? You’d think the other Primordials didn’t want them to watch…”

(Charles) “Maybe on just the Tender-Original level? And I think they didn’t!”

(Gaofeng) “But that’s one of my biggest responsibilities! And why would they keep them away? How are they supposed to keep track of the standings?”

(Vanaroth) “What, you haven’t been displaying the lead for the past fifty thousand years?”

(Gaofeng) “I can do much more than that!”

(Charles) “Well yes – but as I said, a lot of them can’t handle it… I could ward them from seeing the display of course, but in that case you might as well restrict it to one level in the first place!”

(Gaofeng) “Sigh… I’ll have to consult with the progenitor when we awaken. There must be SOME alteration she can make. By the Primordial King, you’ve been missing so much!”

(Charles) “Fair enough… after hundreds of thousands of years though I don’t think a few extra weeks will really matter much!”

Somehow… the lightning shrugged.

(Charles) “Do you see anything in the plans that needs changing?”

(Gaofeng) “Hmm. I’m closely linked to Huajen, that ring beneath me. Any alterations performed on his manse-structure will also have to be performed on me.”

(Charles) “Hm… That’s a fairly small tweak on this scale! Is that part of the mismatch? He’s been having trouble with the modified Geomancy of the area…”

(Gaofeng) “I could understand if single minds had trouble with the arrangement. We’re very intimate, you see. I suspect… they simply thought he was a part of me, which is certainly NOT the case.”

(Huajen, piping in) “That’s right.”

(Charles) “Oh, hello! Well, that should be easy enough – provided that neither of you have any objections to the tweaks – which are pretty small in your cases…”

They didn’t – albeit mostly because they WERE very small.

(Huajen) “And we might have to make some arrangement with YOUR kind, god, but that will have to wait until after we awaken. We, at least, are willing to forgive.”

(Charles) “Well, it’s much better if everyone gets along!”

Hm… Next up… Bayanji… He’d sort of been shying away from that! Bayanji could be REALLY embarrassing to deal with – and (sigh…) someplace down in the back of his head… there was still the thought of “Cooties!” lurking.

Still… the temptations of the Palace would have little or no effect on his mental defenses and he HAD to talk to her. Aw shoot! Trapped by his own logic AGAIN. Oh well. Maybe she’d make some useful suggestions for his let-the-girls-move-in arrangement. He stopped by a game store; a good copy of “Jumangi” would probably really amuse the Kickaha!

Now that he was paying attention… the lavender walls DEFINITELY felt like a girl. At least it hadn’t been hard to find any of them so far now that he knew their locations and what to look for – and this place was a comparatively conventional Manse compared to the others… He sent in the usual probe

Hopefully without producing unwanted connotations that Charles was completely innocent of!

As the probe whispered through the manse there was that vaguely erotic sensation that he’d gotten the last time – and then there was a return signal. A most lovely androgynous being coalesced before him. Its only clothes were strategically-placed veils of an ambrosial lavender material that smelled wonderful. Its eyes are also lavender – and it has every feature that he would find appealing. Some of the gods, particularly one who looked quite ancient, turned to look. Charles heard one, in a hushed tone, say “Haram.”

Bayanji was slightly disconcerted to realize that – at least as filtered through Charles’s head – the “appealing features” included manse-resonances, hints at the presence of an archive full of magical secrets, the impression of small fuzzy friendly things nearby, and a hint of peanut butter in the drifting scent .She was vaguely familiar with the concept of “children” in THEORY, but actual examples were pretty much outside her experience! Oh well. At least the boy showed SOME of the more classical responses; they just didn’t dominate. The poor thing must be young enough to be confused!

Charles has actually encountered the word “Haram” in his research (and because a hostile dictionary had tried to use it to breach his defenses!). He considered it significant evidence that causality was a lot more complicated than most people thought… after all, “Haram” (literally “a forbidden place”) was the arabic root of the english “Harem” (a private location full of beautiful young sex-slaves) – and “Haram” had different roots of its own. Yet… here it was as the proper name for one of the (supposedly extinct for millennia) types of beings that had once inhabited the Algedonic Palace and had never gone beyond it – where they specialized in pleasure. As a coincidence… that was a bit much!

Still… that was definitely the kind of signature that he’d expect from a First Circle demon or Deva or a limited aspect thereof… He put up privacy wards to cover the geomantic details since he’d gotten an actual manifestation rather than just a communications connection.

(Charles) “Hello! I needed to check with you about the repair plans!”

(Haram) “The Madam acknowledges you, Charles Dexter Ward, and has awaited contact for what has felt like forever. Would that make you happy? It does seem like it would make you happy if she looked.”

(Charles, looking confused!) “Well… I needed to find out if there are any factors to be considered in this section of the plan – and to provide a warning of what the energy flows are going to be like!”

(Haram) “All right, then.” (She touched his hand. Charles got the feeling that its touch would normally cause considerable pleasure, but his Adenic defenses blocked that).

He sent the plans over, with references and annotations as usual…

Hm… It looked like this was a projection – but he could see her now, someplace in the Algedonic Palace. She looked much like the haram before him, but was far more luminous and comely… and very, VERY sleepy. But she became just a little more active in her sleep while she read the plans, occasionally moving her hand as she lay in the exquisite bed.

(Bayanji) “Can you really provide that much energy? Yu-Shan has not moved since… well, since I came into existence.”

(Charles) “It should be straightforward enough… I’ve built up enough reserves to more than cover it! And a lot of it can be supplied via geomantic relays.”

(Bayanji) “Then I’ll funnel it through that thing she ate before I existed.”

There seemed to be some jealousy there!

(Charles) “What’s that? Will it have any effect, or just drain off the excess?”

(Bayanji) “I believe that the other Primordials called it the Games of Divinity.”

(Charles) “Ah! That is sort of competition isn’t it? (He notified the Sorrowhands of that intent!) I don’t think it’s quite the same though…”

(Bayanji) “Nothing can destroy the Games of Divinity. I’ve tried my own hand at it, but its pleasure is…”

She trailed off, and simmered in jealousy for a bit.

(Arelis) “Hah! She’s right. Of course, Aros and I wouldn’t exist had Yu-Shan not eaten the Games… but she wouldn’t either. And she KNOWS what would happen if she did somehow destroy them. That would make Yu-Shan unhappy.”

(Charles, to Bayanji) “Oh, I meant on the process… the games really aren’t too important to that part. Still, they are a pleasant confirmation that the forces you embody – even if there are other embodiments as well – hold power over the other Primordials and all Creation even if they have no such pole in their own structure! Few things are more universal than a positive tropism!”

(Charles, to Arelis) “Well, it’s not too surprising that she feels a bit jealous; they ARE closely related after all!”

(Arelis) “I’d never say it to her face, but she should be proud. From listening in on Dumenza and Xiang, Yu-Shan was stumped on the final pole… Other than Ayuji, Bayanji is the most enduring part of milady.”

(Charles) “Hm… She consciously created at least some of hers too? That’s very neat! I was wondering if I was the only one who was doing it that way! I guess that sort of malleability goes with being a Nascent One?”

(Aros) “We never got the chance to ask Autochthon about that… though considering how often he changed his devas…”

(Charles) “He is sort of in to reworking things! I like to try to get them the way I want them in the first place – but the unexpected aspects that pop up are to be cherished! They’re usually the best part!”

(Aros) “You shouldn’t have to worry too much about Bayanji’s process, though. Knowing her, she simply intends to supercharge the Games and get Yu-Shan moving. None of the Third Circles were happy that she was stuck.”

(Charles) “Well, I can see why… she has been in near-stasis – except for the ongoing degeneration – for far too long! But that should soon be fixed!”

(Aros) “Ah, before even then – before we were created. I recall Adrian having to carry her around everywhere even then. But if you can fix even THAT…”

(Charles) “I don’t really know – but even if I can’t fix it YET, I can work on developing a way to do it later! You remember things from before you were created though? Now THAT must be a handy talent to have!”

(Aros) “A function of being created by Fayuandi and your friend Xa’el… Arelis and I needed to know everything about Yu-Shan. Not everything is easily accessible, but her basic functions are.”

(Arelis) “And were there not so much suppressive geomancy still functioning, we could do more!”

(Charles) “Well… not for much longer I hope! And I’m very glad I arranged to consult with you then!”

(Arelis) “For her, we would make all sorts of arrangements. Ah, excuse me, the Sun needs his cup refilled…”

(Charles) “Thank you! And Certainly!”

Hrm… The Sun seemed to have a drinking problem there! Too much Valor! Can he withstand another drink? Must prove that he can! Coming soon, the Ditzy Incarnae! Luna who keeps shapeshifting her own identity and so can’t keep her mind on anything, the Drunken Sun (a great martial arts style too), the Mistress of Endings who keeps cutting her own plans short, the Easily-distracted Venus, the Mercury-who-is-always-lost who never sticks around to get anything done…

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(Charles) “Oh… I’ve had some young women wanting to move in on me recently. Is there anything you’d suggest adding to the facilities for them?”

Now that was something that Bayanji was expert with! Although she didn’t really consider the implications of “wanting to move in on me” sufficiently.

(Bayanji) “Mere single minds? Will that really keep you interested for long?”

(Charles, with some puzzlement… what did he have to do with it?) “Well, there’s no reason not to accommodate them; it’s a fairly simple set of desires compared to some of the things people ask for…”

(Bayanji) “In that case, simply dedicate a jouten to each one if you haven’t already, and keep them on that razor edge between pleasure and satiety.”

That was, after all, the speciality of the Algedonic Palace; keeping the pleasure up as long as possible without having it tip over into jadedness – as opposed to the transcendent pleasure of the Games. More work too.

(Charles) “Er… well, I’ll see what I can do!”

He’d been thinking more along the lines of… a hair salon, an expert chef for room service, some riding trails, and that sort of thing – not going directly for “overload their brains”! Evidently Primordial Deva’s just didn’t think that way… Still, he kind of suspected that auxiliary facilities and pleasures were more deeply satisfying, and more readily sustained, than just hitting the pleasure button in the long run anyway. People continued to go out camping, and canoeing, and so on throughout their entire lives in many cases. Oh well! Not all (or even most) divine beings could get a human perspective! Still, he thanked her for the advice!

Hrm… he had Malinda look around and hire a few good cruise directors, vacation planners, and so on to recommend fun facilities to add and to make arrangements! That would probably be a LOT more suitable to Aden – and it wasn’ts like he had any possible shortage of space to put things in. If it was REALLY weird, the Mardi Gras manse could handle it!

Hm… an Escher golf course might be fun – but something was suggesting… a a Neverborn / Yozi rehabilitation park? Huh. He could make something like that a a place where the Devas in the human racemind could take physical forms. Still… that would call for a LOT of planning, might not be a good idea to put in Aden, and could certainly wait!

As far as control inputs… Hers were more important than Gaofeng’s. She represented the less tangible aspects of pleasure, as opposed to Quan Pen’s more physical ones. Gaofeng’s inputs were minor; both he and Fayuandi are linked mainly to Creation’s adamant. She gave it its toughness, he bestowed its piercing qualities. According to both of them, Autochthon studied them before making his own Pole of Adamant. That was one thing that he and Yu-Shan shared between them!

There was nothing major to replace with Gaofeng and Fayuandi; the qualities of Adamant and the other magical materials of Creation were pretty well fixed by now! They were both VERY important for making local gods in Yu-Shan herself of course (although that process also required Yu-Shan’s involvement) – but it wasn’t as if they’d be going anywhere.

Replacing Bayanji’s input on the “less tangible aspects of pleasure” side was mostly a matter of definition… The god-making would need a little work perhaps – but manses were good at making gods!

Ayuji… was probably going to be the big one. If she was supplying Casuality for all Creation, that would be a big problem! If she was mostly just detecting the errors for repair… spreading wyld zones would help with that; once a causality error propagates into one of those, it should be self-correcting and stop there!

Still… she was the last, and there was no time for stalling around. Off to the loom it was (and to explain to however many Sidereals were there at the moment)! Maybe she was just manifesting the parts that went beyond the Loom as Asna Firstborn and was behind perfect privacy protections?

Hm… Come to think of it, the last time he’d visited, he’d seen TWO types of Pattern Spiders – some were sleeker than the others, and made from different materials.

The Loom Chamber was much as he’d left it the last time; the non-Euclidean twisting and hum of the tapestry, the clicking of the spiders, and the sheer SIZE of the place. As always these days, actual Sidereals were rare – but the celestial lions did indeed have questions!

(Deng) “Come for a second look, have you?” (More quietly) “Is one of THOSE in there?”

(Charles) “Well… one certainly should be! She was pretty integral to the loom…”

He looked around carefully! There were probably several things going on here at once. And he had to look for… Deva Patterns, to see if there was something hiding in the patterns of the Loom (such as that voice from before), seeing what use was being made of the wyld zones across creation (how threads went in and out, and whether or not that “patched” threads that were getting frayed (at least by his theories it should, since all individuals could redefine themselves to at least SOME extent in a Wyld Zone – and when they re-emerged, they would essentially be new threads, thus eliminating any errors), and took a careful look at the various types of pattern spiders – if necessary, using Instant Genius Method, even if that DID amount to asking that the Pattern Spiders help explain the loom to him…

(Deng) “I think one of the Sidereals was looking, too. Studying the Loom even more intently than usual, anyway…”

Hmm… There was the voice, still repeating its insistence that it keep hidden. There was a Deva-presence, although it was unusually distant and took some time to make out. The Earth Wyld zones were easiest to spot; there was some interconnection and patching there, although the Loom couldn’t penetrate too far in those. The pattern spiders were terse as always, but were willing to answer questions about the Wyld / Creation interaction. The spiders themselves… well, they were all mechanical – but the older models were divine in origin. The sleek, newer models, on the other hand, had well-hidden deva signatures – and were NOT found in the celestial records.

(Charles, to the Deva-Presence) “Hello! I’m Charles! (List of the other Devas) have talked to me, how about you?”

He checked with some of the newer spiders too!

The Deva-Presence… TRIED to answer, but was stopped by that other voice – as if had cried out and abruptly been silenced. That wasn’t at all nice!

One of the newer-model spiders was talking to him though! He told it that he needed to talk to Ayuji, and inquired about that voice that wanted to remain hidden! Had the feitch spun off an aspect based on paranoia?

(The spider, transmitting and clicking rather than actually speaking) “Query: Thread-Chaos Interaction. Mortal beings are inherently malleable without protection, and have a 90% percent chance of alterations to mind and body. Proper channeling of Wyld Essence, whether through control of internal Essence, geomantic manipulations, or other means, ensures that these alterations are not harmful. The Loom can ease causality errors by converting Wyld energies to Primordial protocols, set when Yu-Shan was linked.”

(Charles) “Hm… Yu-Shan will shortly be delinking from Creation to a large extent; will additional compensating mechanisms be necessary on Creation’s end? The loom is strongly linked with both causality and reincarnation – but large areas of Creation seem to be operating almost independently now.”

(Spider, after a pause) “Query: Ayuji, the Weaver Who Is Her Own Thread.” (Straining) “The Fetich of Yu-Shan, Ayuji was the only source of causality outside of a Primordial’s mythos before the Great Creation. Ayuji and her direct subordinate Zanjaras were linked to the Elemental Pole of Spirit. When Yu-Shan fell asleep ERROR CANNOT INTERPRET MUST STAY HIDDEN.”

And the poor pattern spider started smoking! Charles shielded it immediately, and applied healing…

(Deng) “Um…”

He didn’t want to ask if Charles had broken it, because Charles breaking ANYTHING would be a rare event – but that didn’t look good!

The spider bolted down the thread it was standing on, knocking other pattern spiders off. Charles… had never seen such behavior before. Normally, the spiders moved in very coordinated patterns, as one might expect! He shot a VERY sharp thought directly to that “must stay hidden” voice!

(Charles) “Stop that! That’s not at ALL a nice thing to do – and it definitely isn’t “staying hidden” – which you’ve already failed at by the way!”

The voice just kept on babbling… it sounded very afraid.

(Charles) “Look, no one is going to hurt you! But it’s too late to simply hide! At this point the city is going to wake up shortly in any case!”

And – for the first time – he felt a struggle there…

(Male Voice) “Must stay hidden, must stay hidden…”

(Female Voice) “No!”

And that kept repeating, with a distinct mental impression of fear on both ends. Nox and Ayuji? He looked for patterns!

The male voice… was nearly as malleable as Luna was. It sounds like an overlay of a thousand thousand voices, mostly male, but some female and others unidentifiable. The female voice sounds like a young girl, no older than six.

Well, that fit! He warded them against each other slightly; if that helped he could upgrade it bit by bit!

Hm… it felt like Incarnae-level power on whatever had linked them. It was a nearly seamless merger between the two, but even then… it was taking a toll, more on her than him. Nox… was clntinuing to babel warnings – but from Ayuji’s end, over the constant steam of her stating things in Creation, there were actual words:

(Ayuji) “Help me! It hurts! He hurts!”

(Charles) “How can I help? Force a separation? Soothe him?”

(Ayuji) “I don’t know… he’s broken and… (wailing) I can’t fix him!”

And there was incoherent babbling from Nox, sounding very much in pain. That would never do! A good thing he’d been studying the Medical Excellencies – and the concealment effect! It was time to use them!

Charles currently possessed the First Medical Excellency, Clouded Medical Sun, Infinite Medicine Mastery, Occult Medicine Flow, and Unconquered Medicine Perfection I, II, III, and IV – as well as the ability to wyld stunt solar circle level effects if there was a problem that did not cover. Either way… the Solar Circle level effects seemed called for!

The diagnostic said that Nox’s mind existed in multiple dimensions at once – or else he was a multitude of minds and bodies, all linked across the dimensions. He was inherently unstable – and was definitely linked to the Nocturnal Exalted. They were being affected by that too; whatever was compelling Nox to stay hidden was concealing them from the Loom and causing a lot of glitches – although it was also giving them the potential for some Charms (although if any of them had actually mastered those at the moment they hadn’t told HIM). The connection to Ayuji was keeping him from completely unraveling. Unfortunately, it was also causing the fetich a lot of stress.

In fact… it was even slowly healing him… although he was still deeply weakened, existing as bits woven through the deva.

Hmm… Reduce the stress, amplify her power – both by applying his own boosters and by channeling in more manse relay points – and continue healing him! There was nothing wrong in multiple-dimension links, but he was probably linked with additional fractured versions of himself…

Once he had Nox’s attention… he promptly attuned him to the privacy manse – and, through him, some of the additional versions of him!

He had to build a few more privacy manses just to start – and unless he got some more help from other dimensions repairing their own versions… he might have to built a LOT of privacy manses! It looked like… a full half of Nox’s variants were like this, and there were a LOT of variants out there. It wasn’t infinite (fortunately!) but it was still a LOT. Still… even the first one should help a lot HERE.

And… both of them started to calm down. Nox had gone silent, and Ayuji, while sobbing, no longer seemed to be in a panic.

(Nox) “Guh.”

Unfortunately, the power surge in the Loom… was getting more and more obvious, as crackling arcs of essence surged through the threads and aspects of multiple realities rippled across the chamber!

(Ayuji) “Yu-Shan? No, not her. She never takes a humanoid jouten.”

The Loom wavered, like the waves of an ocean or fabric whipping in the wind. The pattern spiders were retreating, some turning their heads to click disapprovingly at Charles. The gods were evacuating, and Deng was attempting to get Charles’s attention, presumably to get him out before it blew! Time and space were warping a bit; Charles caught a glimpse of his older self – which was disconcerting to say the least! Hopefully the disturbances would lessen as Nox improved and Ayuji could spare more attention for other matters.

He apologized to the pattern Spiders – and there was still more clicking, and some gestures with mandibles and upper legs.

(Charles, to Ayuji) “Are things improving? And will the disruption here be settling down?”

(Ayuji) “I don’t know… will it stay this way?”

(Charles) “Well… I’m patching various versions of Nox to restore his sanity – but given the extent of the problem… Unless he can start helping HIMSELF to some extent, all I can do will be to slowly moderate the problem!”

(Ayuji) “I really don’t know… my body should stop shaking in about twenty minutes, though. When can I be free again? Creation is so big, and I can’t report everything happening in it any more. And all the new stars, and the planets…”

Well, that was one Deva that he would not have to show the powers-of-ten show to!

(Charles) “About two months on the freedom I think!”

On the physical end, Charles informed Deng that the disturbance was strictly temporary and should be abating in about twenty minutes.

(Deng) “Erg… the pattern spiders aren’t going to be happy about this – or the Bureau, writ or not. Um… what did you DO, anyway?”

(Charles, to Ayuji) “Hm… do you keep causality in creation organized by witnessing what goes on there?”

(Ayuji) “I say things, and they happen! “But there are too many things happening! Nox helps, but… it’s so overwhelming…”

(Charles, to Deng) “Well… There’s a badly damaged god entangled in the loom and with alternate-dimension versions of himself; one reason for causality errors is that there’s bleedover from alternate creations! And the organizing principle… is overwhelmed by the current size of Creation. Ergo… additional processing and input is needed… Hm… (Charles asked Malinda about likely problems, and made sure that it could be turned off as needed) I think it may be time to give Ayuji an interface wth I AM…”

(Deng) “Oh boy… wait, THAT I AM? I heard that the Dragon-Blooded shut it off!”

(Charles) “Well, a considerably expanded version… it has a LOT more processing capacity than even a Deva does.”

He checked with I AM to see what it thought! It was big enough now that it might, in it’s own way, be able to stand in for the Loom! Possibly even fairly easily; it had enough manse-effects to pretty well blanket creation in the new metric, much less the old one. It didn’t have innate links to Primordial devas, of course, but it did have quite an interest in their activities – and it hadn’t been aware that one existed in the Loom! It… evidently was willing to devote a bit of it’s processing capability to help the Loom of Fate operate correctly – and to use it’s reality shaping to help keep causality stable. After all, it was made to defend Creation and had an interest in studying Primordial phenomena. Why not interface with another network and speak to it for a bit? The opportunity to talk to a lonely intelligence of her scope didn’t come up often. And it would give I AM something to do! Organizing the Universe instead of just human societies!

And Charles rather thought that, with humans with a racemind full of Devas and I AM involved… Creation might well be able to establish and hold it’s OWN casuality, just like a normal Primordial – although Ayuji’s input would be helpful while it was starting. He only had the usual Solar access to I AM (unless Devon had set something up!) – but asking for reports across creation was within that level – and who he shared those reports with is irrelevant. As a member of the (currently nonexistent) Deliberative, keeping up with security was his responsibility – though it was weird to have the Loom of Fate… crying audibly. Happily, but audibly.

Fortunately, Ayuji – being more-or-less a sapient manse – could probably accept telepathically-linked-in reports, and could use the privacy manse effects herself for additional processing capabilities – although it would probably be a good idea to make a few more manses just for that! She was pretty obviously network-capable already. It sort of defined her.

And Malinda couldn’t foresee any likely disasters – so he started off on a small scale and began to gradually ramp things up! If problems started appearing he could always pull back a little!

Hm… there were none at the moment, although – as the Nox-healing privacy Manses accumulated – extra-dimensional incursions were likely… Well. that could be a lot worse!

(Charles to o the Spiders) “Sorry guys! But it should run a LOT more smoothly now!”

The Spiders were still crouched down, staring at him – and the older ones were shaking a bit. Plus, there were some people working their way out of the Loom’s strands. They must have gotten tangled up in the chaos!

(Charles, to the spiders, while helping the tangled people out – which took a bit) “Oh dear… You aren’t too upset are you?”

That produced an oddly familiar-looking young man, dressed in the fashions of Yu-Shan, Jose, and the Lady Sorina Chisaru. The unidentified man looked confused (and had a Nocturnal signature). Jose was just shaking his head, and Ms. Chisaru was looking at him rather knowingly.

The spiders were calming down somewhat – and the gods of the Bureau were also helping out with it all. That was quite a tremor! It didn’t shake the ENTIRE Lotus of Destiny, but it certainly rattled the entire Loom Chamber.

(Jose) “What was THAT? I was doing a friend a favor, and you did THAT, and HE (pointing to the Nocturnal) came out.”

(Charles) “Well… The loom was very badly strained and in a lot of pain – so I was helping out a bit! Things should go considerably more smoothly now. I’ve offloaded a lot of the processing requirements!”

(Jose) “Whaaa…”

(Charles) “It needed fixing!”

(Jose) “Lady Chisaru? Ma’am? Do you know anything about this?”

She was remaining mum, but was smiling.

(Young Nocturnal Man) “I’m pretty sure I’m not authorized to be in here. Am I going to be detained?”

(Charles) “I think there’s enough confusion right now to avoid that! And it’s hardly your fault that I was fiddling around…”

(Nocturnal) “Ahh… good. Mother would get angry if that happened.” (Looking around) “Bother. It’s happened again.”

(Charles) “What has? dimension-hopping?“

(Nocturnal) “Ah, you’re knowledgeable. Though I was aiming someplace other than the Loom Chamber! Only across the street!”

(Charles) “Well, it is something of a nexus at the moment! Easy enough to get pulled into!… What’s across the street?”

(Nocturnal) “Ah, across the street from where the other Nocturnals and I meet. Argentos will be mad that the transport’s failed again. (Beaming) “This won’t be a bad story to tell, though.”

(Charles) “Definitely an unusual trick!”

(Nocturnal) “And no need to worry about me for long! I will snap back in twenty-five hours. Say… you remind me of a experimental little girl I know…”

(Charles) “Well, that’s quite possible! Would you like to talk to some of our Nocturnals along the way? You could probably trade tips!

And he arranged to send presents, and more apologies, to the pattern spiders. They accepted them – but it might not be a good idea to bother them again for a while! Still, with any luck, they’d find their lives a good deal easier from now one! A lot less causality errors!

(Nocturnal) “It wouldn’t be the first time!”

(Ayuji) “I… can’t manifest right now. They have me stuck in a room.”

(Charles) “Do you need more help?”

(Ayuji) “No. I can stay in here until Yu-Shan wakes up! It’s only another two months, right?”

(Charles) “It should be! Here are the plans for it if there’s anything in your area that needs amending!”

(Ayuji) “Will I AM really be able to process some of the causality? I can talk to him some more and plan out who’s working where!”

(Charles) “I think it will work! It’s certainly worth trying, even if it isn’t perfect!”

(Ayuji) “And… I can talk to I AM as much as I want?”

(Charles) “I don’t see why not! Even baseline humans could do that!”

(Ayuji) “I wish I could hug you.”

(Charles) “Well, maybe later! Hugs are always good!”

And it felt warmer in the Loom Chamber.

As far as the plans went, Ayuji was networked to all of the other devas, and those old connections were now restored Adding in those connections and letting her coordinate things would help deal with any errors that popped ! That was very handy!

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