At the central pavilion Charles was still busily setting markers… it wasn’t CRITICAL, but having everyone in just the right place would make things just a bit easier – and every little bit would help! But… there was something in the way! A formidable figure of iron and jade, along with a servant trying to get his attention!
(Charles) “Urm… Can I help you while I’m getting the performers positions blocked out?”
(Lykenestes Mail-Splitter) “I would like to place an order for a Lesser Exaltation! It’s for my son Jascen!”
(Charles) “Hrm… Well, I do have some of my share of those left over; they aren’t usually something you just order though… why does he need one? Is something wrong?”
(Lykenestes, proudly) “It’s his twentieth birthday!”
(Charles) “Uhm… what would he DO with one? Do you know?”
(Lykenestes) “Why, serve mine and his mother’s interests! Serve as an aide, perform minor missions that don’t require our attention, assist his less-gifted siblings in battle… You know! Glorious things to serve Heaven!”
(Charles, thoughtfully) “And is that what HE wants?” (Checking Lykenestes essence level… he seemed to be a fairly minor sort – essence 4; reasonably potent, but certainly not a big deal in Heaven) “after all, you’re asking for him to be given a rank and abilities pretty much equivalent to yours. He’ll be entirely his own person then!”
(Lykenestes) “Of course it’s what he wants! It is what he has been raised to be-and goodness knows his mother is her own person! I know just how frustrating mortals can be!”
(Charles) “Well, if you want to send him to Aden for a bit… even if he’s not suited to one of the Lesser Exaltations, there are other possibilities – and I’m afraid that even Lesser Exaltations aren’t on the list of things you can simply order at the moment.”
(Lykenestes) “What?! This cannot stand! You can make anything!”
(Charles) “Not even I can make ANYTHING – but that isn’t really the question! Changing someone in such a fundamental way – even if it DIDN’T include bestowing quite a lot of power – is not always good for them. Will it hurt to give him some time to find himself before meddling?”
(Lykenestes) “No – but can’t you bottle time? How much of that can you bottle up?”
Charles had to think about that for a moment! It was possible to store up a little time to use later, or to modify the flow of time in an area – but there were major problems in pushing either too far. In practice, even with Solar Circle magic, you could squeeze in about (Bottler’s Essence) worth of combat actions before Creation engaged it’s OWN perfect defense against interacting with someone who didn’t follow the rules and dumped you into the deep wyld just like almost ANY realm did when you wouldn’t play nice with it! A Primordial with his, her, or its own time flow could get away with a time-flow differential – but pushing the multiplier or divider past about half their essence rating would risk causal disconnection from Creation, and there was no way of knowing where you might wind up; you might never get hooked up to the right Creation again… You could push it a BIT further in a properly-designed manse of course – at least if you wanted to go slower – but even with a manse-structure to buffer the effect you could get a leveling entropic flow or incursions from other temporal streams and zones…
Wait, that probably had little or nothing to do with what the guy really wanted! Was he just wanting to speed up the process of his kid finding himself? You couldn’t squeeze in any real amount of self-discovery, in any amount of time you could bottle, and it didn’t shorten the process any from your prospective… You really had to go out into the world for that sort of thing! Otherwise, every Solar would have just come up with a spell for that to make increasing Essence faster!
Was Lykenestes looking for an essence boost? A champion would be pretty good for that for a god… No… Malinda said that he wouldn’t mind an Essence boost, though he IS a god of forging and armor-piercing weaponry, and wouldn’t think to do it through petitions. A champion would be less direct, but would be the first thing he’d think of.
(Charles) “ Time… somewhat less than a minute for general purposes – but more is possible for more specific reasons and there are other ways. What do you need time for?”
(Lykenestes) “Oh, no, it’s for my son, to help find himself.”
(Charles) “Ah. THAT I can probably help with – but things are rather busy now. Can I set him up for an appointment in about two weeks? If it’s more urgent than that, or he’ll need sanctuary until then, or something like that I’ll need to know what the underlying problem is.”
(Lykenestes) “That’s not very long at all… very well, then! I shall arrange for his twentieth birthday party to be in Aden!”
(Charles) “Very well then! Parties are always fun!”
And the Hobbits and quite a few other Citizens and Guardians were quite pleased! Charles NEEDED to be attending more parties that DIDN’T have cosmic implications!
And that made it the turn of a duo of whirling spheres of flame and light to barge in! Right after Lykenestes left!
(Charles, making sure that the work was adequately covered even if HE wound up totally unable to do any of it…) “Er… Hi?”
(The Red One) “You cut in line! How dare you do that!”
(The Blue One) “How very sad this makes us! How are we supposed to rehearse with this nonsense happening?”
(Charles) “Well, I had the authority and more or less had to! Did you need a place to rehearse?”
(Duo) “We must do our dance of the Night Sky’s Joy, for the edification of the Carnival! It reveals the mysteries of Creation!”
(Blue One) “And the way our lights reflect in here is best suited to it!”
(Charles) “Would an exact physical duplicate do?”
(Red One) “You must let us practice in here, authority or not! Unless you can mimic the conditions PERFECTLY…”
(Charles) “That’s certainly doable!”
(Duo) “We shall be the judges of that!”
Charles had a small Chancel and a series of precisely duplicated venues set up in a side-tent, just in case anyone else was hacing the same problem. ue… in fact, a series of them, so anyone else with the same problem could handle it. One of the Balgrogs could organize it!
Then it was Gothmug reporting the that the Reininger Dragon-Blooded – the necromantic types – had sent someone to talk to him! (Although the conversion from necromantic Dragon-Blooded to normal Dragon-Blooded was progressing well – which was a good thing!) It looked to be one of the Half-Castes who hadn’t undergone the process yet. Other than the red hue of her skin, the wildly different essence-signature, and all the other giveaways, he’d never have known that she was any different than any other human in Victorian-era clothing.
Well, OK; it was pretty easy for him to spot. A lot of normal folks would have been fooled though!
(Edith) “Ah, you must be Aden. Mother and Father send their regards, and their gratitude.”
(Charles) “I hope that they’re doing well – and they’re quite welcome”
(Edith) “Well, I hope so… I’m not entirely certain about what they’ve requested.”
(Charles) “What’s that?”
(Edith) “Well, Aden… Mother would have you sneak Father and a squad of my relatives into Heaven. I wasn’t informed of WHY. She said it was confidential information… Is something the matter up there?”
(Charles) “Uhm… various things really! Did they say why or when? There are some spare tickets!”
(Edith) “I do know WHEN. Timing seemed very important on this one.”
Naturally enough, it was the day the Song of Creation was scheduled to begin.
(Charles) “Hm… Well, that’s easy enough; anyone can walk in on the days of the festival anyway!”
(Edith) “Festival? Oh, that’s right-there’s a legendary festival that’d take place that day. But… why wouldn’t Father just find a way in on his own? Why would he want to be smuggled in? Does he want to bring some weapons or surprise someone? (Shrugging) “I suppose it’s none of my business… oh yes. It was to a specific location, as well.”
(Charles, curiously) “Where?”
That… matched up with one of those Bronze Faction manses slated to be used for Project Stanewald… the central one. Nowhere’s near the Carnival of Meeting’s site in central Yu-Shan.
(Charles) “Hrm! Now that might be a problem… Although I suspect that a friend of mine will be there! I’ll have to check on a few things!”
(Edith) “I understand… I heard you had a Manse that was in contact with the Underworld. Shall I wait for you there?”
(Charles) “If you like! It’s over this way!”
He directed Edith there – and called Astrid. He’d have to check with her about that. At a guess she would be there, trying to keep someone (most likely Jorgenson) who had made Stanewald his life’s purpose from getting suicidal, and that this batch, with less information, wanted to stop any interference with the concert… He REALLY doubted that they wanted to see the universe blow up – and they might well be expecting a Deathlord (they had, after all, been in contact with at least one) to show up and try to use Stanewald to mess things up. They probably didn’t want to admit to HIM that they were willing to use violence to do it.
Astrid, was working on some sort of project with young Argentia and Vaal. Maela Tengu was there too – although last he’d heard she was down in Japan for safety. Well, if she felt safe in Yu-Shan again, why not? And… indigo Essence shimmered wildly about them!
Since they were busy he left a message – and got a response about fifteen minutes later.
(Astrid) “Whew. I’m exhausted… what did you need, Charles?”
Charles described the situation and the request.
(Astrid, thoughtfully) “Oh. I see. So the House of Reininger has gotten involved.” (Rubbing her temples) “I suppose this was inevitable.”
(Charles) “Well… it does basically involve the entire universe in the end. A lot of people will be taking an interest!”
(Astrid) “Hmm. There might be a personal motive in this, too. People would do a lot to protect their friends, even enter places where they’re not technically welcome.”
(Charles) “Oh dear. Well… Should I allow it?”
(Astrid) “Did you inform them about the Song of Creation? I’d like to know if they know about that first. Actually… better yet. Ask them if it means anything to them BEFORE you tell them anything about it, and watch their thoughts.”
(Charles) “Well, I’ve got a representative here… I think direct talks are in order! (To Edith) “Hrm… I think I’ll need to talk about this directly. Would that be all right?”
(Edith) “Has some concern arisen? I will see what I can arrange. Mother and Father were very ardent about this.”
(Charles) “Well… things will be very busy and quite complicated around that time, and extra factors… well, it could get very messy indeed!”
(Edith) “I see. Well, if you wish to talk with Father directly, I will see what I can do.”
(Charles) “I would appreciate it!”
That went on hold for a bit – and about a day later Charles noticed people looking at something behind him – and eventually looked himself, to see an enormous three-headed , two-tailed dragon. No one, not even most of the gods assembled at the pavilion, seemed to consider that to be much out of the ordinary though… .
He was also wearing a very silly hat, with all three heads crammed in!
(Charles) “Uhrm… King Ghidorah? Can I have your autograph?!!”
He shrugged and produced a pen and paper out of nowhere. Since he has no arms, he signed with one of his mouths!.. It… was about the quality you’d expect from that kind of manipulation.
(Charles) “Thank you! I’ve got tickets for you…”
(Ghidorah) “Hrm! Thank you very much! Demien sent me to see how progress was coming along!”
(Charles) “Quite well actually! Everything is ready, it’s just the final concert setup that needs taking care of!”
(Ghidorah) “Do you need me to drive these interlopers away? Your work must not be disturbed!”
(Charles) “Uhrm… which ones?”
(Ghidorah) “Well, there will probably be attempts! It’s likely to get confusing what with everyone who will be attending too… Shall I grow to my full grandeur and chase them away?”
(Charles) “Well… not unless someone really is interfering? If they’re just attending, that’s fine!”
(Ghidorah) “I will report that all is well, then, and stay here!”
(Charles) “And you’re quite welcome! Would you like some refreshments?”
(Ghidorah) “Of course!”
Charles made sure that there were enough for the entire crew AND King Ghidorah! He was probably a VERY big eater!
He was – and his table manners were atrocious. Oh well! So were Terapishim’s!
Still, it wasn’t all THAT long before his appointment with a centuries old necromantically tainted Terrestrial Exalt about his visit to Yu-Shan… Otto Reininger was civilly sipping some cognac in the Underworld Communication Manse and discussing distilling with one of the Halflings when he got there. Well, that was mostly fixed now! And privacy warding was already set up!
(Otto) “Ah, Charles. I believe you wanted to discuss the… visit.” (With a noticeable weight on that last word.)
(Charles) “Well, yes… It’s going to correspond with rather a LOT of delicate activity. (He will be passively open to pick up thoughts – but mostly be boosting the relevant skills for conversation and reading people). Have you heard of the Song of Creation?”
(Otto) “Some would say the entirety of life is a song, but I assume you mean a specific song?”
It looked like he really hadn’t – but he did seem to be expecting heavy opposition on this “visit.”
(Charles) “Yes indeed. Creation… must be renewed, or it will fall back into chaos – and there are far too many complicating factors already. If there is to be another… I must know what and why, so that I can compensate if that is required.”
(Otto) “I see… and what do you know about the Emperor of Coruscant? For – while he is not why I am here – he does have something to do with this.”
(Charles, sighing) “I know that he is extremely powerful, that he is almost certainly what was once known as a “Deathlord”, and that that he is ancient – and I know of many powers he is likely to possess . but I have few specific details.”
(Otto, very seriously) “Are you willing to accept help from a Deathlord, Charles? And… are you willing to keep that a secret?”
(Charles) “When the alternative is seeing Creation die, I have little choice about what help I will accept.”
(Otto) “Mmm… that’s more sensible than you’d hear in Heaven these days, or so my source says. Which brings me to why I was sneaking in, at least initially… that source will be in grave danger of dying. Now, that person has found ways of circumventing that fate, but there are those who would oppose their plans. This person is a loyal friend who was responsible for our introduction. You can understand why Sylvia and I would want to protect them.”
Charles could indeed.
(Otto) “We weren’t terribly surprised when the Emperor found out. What surprised us was that he SUPPORTED me infiltrating Heaven. He didn’t tell us what was happening, but that Creation was at stake. So… young man who does a convincing Primordial impersonation. What threat faces Creation this time?”
(Charles) “Hm… I must ask that you take oath not to reveal this information for another six days. If you can’t do that… I’ll have to leave out a lot.”
(Otto) “No doubt my source has… I thought the story had holes as big as the Memory itself. I shall do it.”
He got the usual oath and summary!
(Otto) “So… you intend to reshape Heaven itself-herself? Do you have any idea how big a beacon that is to Creation’s enemies?”
(Charles) “Well, it will most likely spread to a hundred or so additional worlds – but I do have a great deal of support at this point. And the Yozi’s seem to realize that they ‘re getting fixed up next, so they have no reason to interfere.”
(Otto) “You certainly are ambitious.. I do hope none of those nasty kaiju wreck your ritual.”
(Charles) “It kind of looks like there’s going to be a set of Kaiju battles during the concert I’m afraid.”
(Otto) “Or any of the OTHER Deathlords… or that it causes new Deathlords to arise. Oh dear! A good thing my children and I will be underground – though we will have to watch for digging kaiju. But you do have tickets. Would you mind if we used Aden as a staging ground while we wait?”
(Charles) “It’s ok! You can stay at the Citadel of Enlightenment; it’s got all the facilities.”
(Otto) “Ah… the school, correct? That would be perfect. We can shore up some of our tactics there. Unfortunately, I anticipate Sidereal resistance as well as Underworld resistance. (Sighing) I had hoped to reason with them, but my source tells me it’s futile.”
(Charles) “Well, some of the factions are all right and some are helping!”
(Otto) “That’s a relief. Could you get me in contact with one? I know I can trust him. He’s just… notorious for his wanderlust, you see!”
Ah, now that just HAD to be Jose with his Lacuna martial art! He… wasn’t one of the ones who’d taken the Oath, but he certainly seemed to know some things. He hadn’t seemed at all surprised to encounter him in Gauderis Athelstane for one.
Charles opened up a full audiovisual link!
(Jose) “What’s up, Charles? Whoa! Is that who I think it is? Guten tag, Lord Reininger… not as dead as I thought, I see.”
(Charles) “He wasn’t well for awhile! But I was wondering if I could discuss something with you – but you’d have to promise to keep quiet about it with other people for another six days!”
(Jose) “What’s that, Charles? Anything to do with your nana?”
(Charles) “In a way! But more related!”
(Jose) “Okay, shoot. I’m under several vows and curses about that anyway. What’s one more on my back?”
And there was yet another oathtaking and explaining.
(Jose) “Wait, but that means – oh, BOTHER.”
(Otto) “Yes… our mutual friend is in great danger.”
(Charles) “Needs fixing!”
(Otto) “I won’t lose Creation, much less my greatest asset in Heaven.”
(Jose) “And… that explains why Astrid has been so evasive with me lately.”
(Charles) “Well, at least you can talk to her now!”
(Jose) “Thank the gods for that! Ergh… how am I going to fit in protection duty with all my other missions? The paperwork can wait yet again, but everything else… No, no… this overrides that. Your nana will be angry if Creation gets… whatever this going wrong would cause, Charles!”
(Charles) “Want to come aboard Mothra Leo for a bit? It’s very safe there! Even if Creation did collapse…”
He covered the various horrific results of failure again.
(Jose) “Yeah… I’ll bring Sailor. I’ll have to look this over – have Astrid help me out with it, and whoever else knows. Who else knows other than me and Otto? Oh yeah, and Astrid, since she’s in on this too…”
Charles shared the list. It wasn’t all THAT long, even if it did have some VIP’s on it, and the Celestial Lions, Tenders, and Overseers made up a fair chunk.
(Otto) “I see. My source was wise to get you involved… so these ‘Tenders’ and ‘Overseers’ are the maintenance system? Is there any way to let them know we’re coming? I wouldn’t want them to think we were invading.”
(Jose) “Yeah… and I’m not… special… but I don’t want them attacking me either.”
(Charles) “Oh easy enough… I’d better make a communications and coordination manse!”
(Jose) “Hah. He makes a Manse for everything. Best get used to it, Otto.”
Otto just shrugged and offered Jose some cognac.
(Charles) “I like manses!”
It WAS getting a bit too busy to make do without a communications center for the mission. Too many participants… He set up sealed unbreakable links, perfect privacy, etc – and it was much appreciated. It seemed fairly dangerous and Manse-links would save up on artifacts and have the usual more-motes side effect. Very handy when you were expecting combat.
Jose asked if those could be linked to someone on the fly.
(Charles) “Well, within a few minutes anyway! An immediate link is possible, but will be strictly temporary and more than a bit unstable with that much power passing through it.”
(Jose) “Hrm… how long would that last? Can you also do healing that way?”
(Charles) “Hm… With a spell a few minutes to an hour, with a prayer only a few seconds, but it’s automatic – and I can do some healing that way!”
(Jose) “Okay then… enough to bring somebody back from the brink of death?”
(Charles) “Well, they might still be injured! I’d have to send more treatments if they were REALLY badly hurt.
(Jose) “Good enough! I just want to be prepared for everything. Or as much of everything as I can, at least.”
(Charles) “That’s always a good thing!”
(Jose, far more gravely than was usual for him) “Yeah… I just hope all of us make it through this.”
(Charles) “Well… do you think you’ll need some other boosts?”
(Jose) “Not me, her.” (Pointing to Sailor) “I think it’s about time for those upgrades you two talked about. I know you don’t usually do weapons… but upgrade her armor and drives, maybe?”
(Charles, doing so) “If she likes!”
(Sailor) “Thank you very much, Charles. If Mr. Cisneros will have me fighting kaiju and Deathlords, I will need all the anti-shaping defenses and hardening I can get. May I have an Aden-link as well?”
(Charles) “Certainly! Do you do Thaumaturgy?”
(Sailor) “To a certain extent… I am trained in the Arts of Attack, Travel, and Warding, among others.”
(Charles) “Would you like an upgrade?”
(Sailor) “I would not refuse such an upgrade.”
Charles threw that in too.
(Sailor) “You are very much like THE Maker, Charles. I had heard you visited the Primal Forge; was there anything of interest inside?”
(Charles) “Lots and lots of very nice workshops, and some interesting machines and facilities… I did an analysis while I was there and duplicated a lot of the more interesting bits later! Not the Deva though!”
(Sailor) “I see. You must show me these after the current trouble ends… if we both survive.”
(Charles) “I will certainly try to arrange it!”