There were still many minor gods trying to set up arrangements for the Carnival of Meeting outside – and one of those, some sort of technological god dotted with LED lights, was watching Charles’s work with some interest. Charles, unsurprisingly, didn’t mind a bit – although it was obvious that the guards were keeping an eye out while he single-mindedly adjusted things. He did notice eventually though – and opened up a line to find out if the god needed something!
(Illuminating Cryptic Radiance) “Hello, Charles. You’re busily working as usual, I see.”
(Charles) “Lots to do! Did you need something?”
(Illuminating Cryptic Radiance) “Yes… What did you find in the Primal Forge? I’m dying to know!”
(Charles, thoughtfully) “Oh! Well, the principle is fairly straightforward really… the basic design is an optimized factory-cathedral, but it taps into the wyld through wyld revocation and an adjustable gate (more wyld revocation and some dynamic architecture there). It establishes an identity-link, and reality overlay, with the most perfectly possible optimum situation and setup for whatever task you happen to be working on right now, complete with assistants and appropriate materials. If that ideal location happens to exist in Creation, someone could open their shop and find that Autochthon – or the manse consciousness – was working in it. If it’s in the Wyld, then Creation won’t notice of course.”
Illuminating Cryptic Radiance managed to hold a poker face – but it wasn’t easy! The boy was both ABLE and WILLING to talk about how the PRIMAL FORGE actually OPERATED?! No one had ever been able to read deeply enough into it to get that much information! Attempts always gave insane results, like you were trying to… trying to analyze the structure of the Deep Wyld… The Primal Forge was designed to reach into the Wyld and pull structure out it? Did it actually date back to before there had been anything else to work with?
Oh of COURSE Autochthon operated by pulling structure out of the Wyld! He long predated Creation and had helped to build it! Was the Forge basically a quasi-independent fragment of Autochthon rather than – or perhaps as well as – a manse-artifact? And a quasi-independent fragment of a Primordial was… a Deva. Was that why it was so heavily guarded and why no one was allowed to interact with it? Was it doing little or nothing simply because Autochthon was occupied elsewhere?
Why hadn’t that – rather obvious! – thought ever occurred to him before? He’d been studying the Primal Forge and Autochthon for YEARS, bringing illumination into dark and hidden places as was his nature! Was it something to do with young Charles? The boy seemed to carry something with him… a breath of freedom, that loosened all constraints whether of the body, of the mind, or of destiny itself. Like the Wyld, but not of it.
(Charles) “The trouble is that, while interruptions wouldn’t be optimum when someone IS working, and so there won’t be any while a project is underway, when they’re not working or are just seeking inspiration the place can act as an uncontrolled gate to anywhere in the Wyld – and thus could let almost anything in. Thus the need to have it powered down and under heavy guard when no one is working there – and the varying reports; if someone without enough focus and control goes in, it will look for the optimum workspace for any project they have in their unconscious, which can get quite weird! Plus, of course, most people expect traps – so they get them!”
That seemed like enough detail. That much had been pretty obvious if you knew how to look – but he didn’t want to violate the Primal Forge’s privacy!
(Charles) “I thought about building one for myself – but since I don’t spend ALL my time crafting things, it isn’t really required and would be more than a bit hazardous! Slightly below perfect optimization is generally quite enough!”
Charles didn’t bother to mention that the manse consciousness was a Deva – not that he saw much of any difference between a Deva and a manse spirit. Perhaps there really wasn’t any if you just made them with the right modifiers in primordial demesnes? Certainly he’d cheated quite a lot while he was making his own – but it did seem like there were likely to be simpler ways; he’d actually gone quite overboard on empowering his Guardians! Now that he’d studied deva-demons a bit more… rather a lot of third circle types weren’t all THAT powerful. Hm… Were Primordials so focused because they created their Devas as expressions of particular interests, and wound up locked into those? If so, he’d been lucky! Patterning his after the various fields of Thaumaturgy did mean that they were just as magic-focused as he was, but the twenty-four fields of Thaumaturgy – of course – covered pretty much EVERYTHING.
Illuminating Cryptic Radiance was rather more interested in “building one for himself”. Was that really within the boy’s capabilities? Or was it just that… Wait. Nothing in what he’d mentioned – which DID seem to account for the properties the place was supposed to have AND for having it so well guarded – was necessarily beyond the capacity of a relatively modest network of fairly normal manses. Yes, you’d have to be a brilliant designer of manses to fit all the pieces together and you’d have to be able to design and build a Factory-Cathedral, but you didn’t HAVE to have a legendary manse or demesne to work with. That would just make it easier to keep all the pieces in one place. Had Autochthon simply been… being tidy?
On Manse Spirits and Guardians
- Awakened Little God (1): The manse’s little god is an awakened ally of the hearthstone bearers. Such a god cannot be truly slain while the manse endures, and can usually be constructed as an Essence-3 spirit if the manse is rated at *** or less, essence 4 if it’s rated at **** or higher.
- Awakened Guardian God (Variant on Guardian, 3): The Manse’s “little” god has essence (Manse Rating +2), but this is otherwise similar to Awakened Little God. This means that it’s a bit less powerful than a standard guardian, but comes back if it’s destroyed more quickly.
- Improving on this is actually pretty awkward: Buying a Guardian gets you a second circle demon or creature of equivalent power – an essence range of 5 to 8, most commonly around 6-7. Adding +1 point for a Guardian Force gets you hundreds of them. That’s a lot of power and it’s hard for a single entity to improve on it much. Ergo lets just use a modifier.
- Greater Guardian / Guardian Force (Requires Guardian or Guardian Force): For +1 point added to the base cost of Guardian you may increase the Guardians essence rating by +2 and add up to (Essence) panoply charms or abilities. Such a guardian cannot be truly slain while the manse endures. If you increase the cost of a Guardian Force one of it’s members gets those benefits and an additional seven linked to the first get +1 Essence and (Essence/2)+1 panoply charms or abilities. In either case, Greater Guardians cannot be truly slain while their manse endures.
On The Primal Forge:
The Greater Guardian of the Primal Forge is Muquinas, The Weave of Mothers and Maker – and it is through his power that the Forge produces wonders so quickly and easily. The Manse’s Gate and Overlay functions let Muquinas go Wyld-Questing in the Deep Wyld without ever leaving his chair – and he’s very good at it.
Muquinas: Ess 9, Per 13, Occult 12, Occult Speciality / Wyld-Questing 3, Madwands Lens (This Artifact-5 provides continuous Essence Sight, Spirit-Sight, +6 Perception, +6 Occult, and – due to the dazzling visions it grants – counts as using hallucinogens when the user is Wyld-Questing, reducing the time required to two intervals rather than three).
This gives Muquinas a forty-die Wyld Questing roll with a time requirement of two minutes. At Difficulty 12 he can pull Artifact-*****’s directly out of the Wyld in two minutes apiece. He mostly employs his other astounding skills to assemble groups of tailored Artifact-V’s into Artifact N/A’s – using Wyld Time to speed the assembly.
Plus, of course, there are the efforts of the seven secondary consciousness and the rest of the “Guardian Force” of Crafter-golems.
During the construction of Creation Muquinas and his minions were very busy indeed, forging intangible – but very real – artifact-links between Yu-Shan’s various aspects and Deva’s and Creation – a task that has continued (if on a far smaller and occasional scale) to this day. The splendor of his craftsmanship is evident in that those links have endured despite many tens of thousands of years and the Reshaping of Creation.
Charles, who is young, and over-enthused about making even minor artifacts with his own skills, shaping, and wyld-questing, hasn’t actually thought about the true power of Muquinas and the Primal Forge. He is thinking of it as a slightly upgraded version of Dudael – a facility that helps you work and arranges some mass-production, rather than an independent font of artifacts.
Illuminating Cryptic Radiance tapped a finger to his face, which caused some of the lights on his cheek to change color.
(Illuminating Cryptic Radiance) “Were there REALLY no guardians?”
(Charles) “Oh some! But they’re associated with the consciousness of the installation, so they weren’t deployed! If it had wanted to optimize for traps, that would have been very awkward!’
(ICR) “So if you come to it with no expectation of traps…”
(Charles) “Then there wouldn’t be any as long as the Forge accepted your presence. If it objected… it would pull the most perfectly optimized possible set of trap-tools to expel, capture, or kill you (depending on it’s judgement) out of the wyld.”
(ICR) “Hmm . . . hmm . . . if I wanted to talk to the Primal Forge, what would I need to do to get on its good side?”
(Charles) “Well, it was transferred to Yu-Shan to help create the links between it and Creation and to forge artifacts. Plans along those lines might engage it’s interests! You might want to wait a while though… at the moment access is quite restricted and – honestly – a slightly lesser facility suffices for most things!”
(ICR) “Oh… how disappointing. I was wondering if it would want an arrangement of LED lights in its honor, since it was sapient and everything.”
(Charles) “Well, it certainly has it’s own moods and ideas… it’s grand purpose is one thing, it’s personal desires are quite another – and they aren’t something I really had much time to explore.”
(ICR) “Sigh… it must be fascinating to talk to…”
(Charles) “Well, maybe I can arrange an introduction later on! At the moment… I can talk while I work, but doing two tasks at once is considerably harder!”
Illuminating Cryptic Radiance decided to be satisfied with that for the time being. It was more than he’d really expected to get after all!
Plus, of course, he had some REALLY juicy speculation to chew on.
Meanwhile Charles had – finally! – completed the layout, even if the section for the third circles was full of thaumaturgic essence-baffles designed to compensate for him not being sure who would actually come. Unfortunately… A lot of them were simply very awkward and a LOT of the rest were a bit too crazy (he wasn’t inviting anyone who was too likely to run amuck). He’d been more or less forced to limit invitations to the saner ones with reasonable manifestations (although he’d made dimensional-fold viewing space available for the ones who were just too big and such), and less than half of THOSE had responded (or even given evidence that they’d been reached and understood). Hard to blame them of course! Coming would mean setting aside a great many old arguments for the moment – and would mean putting a good deal of faith in the Occupying forces in Yu-Shan to do the same. A bit tricky for some even if it WAS guaranteed by the Unconquered Sun.
That left out a depressing number of souls – but it should be more than enough to spread the word, which was the real point. Even better, Ligier, Ninsei, Jacint, Demirkol, Michio, Orabillis, and Kochige had all RSVP’d… They might even be inclined to help! And even if they weren’t… they would be witnesses that repairs were indeed under way. Going to Malfeas to fix the Yozi’s was going to offer more than enough challenges anyway.
Meanwhile, Aikiko was considering her upcoming role as Ultraman. Finally, a major lead role! Too bad it was not going to be stunts and special effects, but real danger! Still, direct battle with the Neverborn Kaiju would provide some GREAT footage! And, unlike the Primordial War, it would be somewhat comprehensible, mostly in one dimension, and properly recorded… perfect for future newsreels!
Even if the Neverborn were pretty lovecraftian and might drive viewers a bit crazy. After the changes that are likely to hit the universe, that would just be one bizarre phenomenon among many. Despite Charles’s obvious hopes, breaking Creation free from Yu-Shan, opening hundreds of gates and erecting hundreds of major manses, along with the echoes of the song of creation rolling across a hundred or so worlds was not going to pass without a LOT of special effects. Hopefully he had enough allies and helpers to keep those effects down to “annoying” rather than “reality-shattering”.
Elsewhere, the Bronze Faction leadership was considering. The question of what Charles might be – even if it was a Solar! – paled next to the question of what he was up to. It had to be more than a concert; the INCARNAE, and only-the-Maidens knew WHAT else was coming!
It was time to ask the “boy” some hard questions!