The Chronicles Of Heavenly Artifice CCVIII – The City Of Winds

Once the Potawatomi had gathered wild onion, and garlic, and rice, and the products of the swamp and prairie on the borders of the lake. But the Wheel turned – and first a trading post, and then a town, and then a city rose.

Vibrant. Active. A crossroads of trade and activity.

Yet ever the Wheel turned. The city fell in fire – but rose once more, rooted in railways and rivers and the great lakes, building towers and factories.

And the Wheel turned. Depression and crime struck at the city, and the tides which had once swept people and industries to it ebbed. Great portions of the web of rails and routes that had made it great had rusted and closed,

Yet the Wheel turned.

Chicago had all too many closed, abandoned, and decaying rail-yards. Great masses of rusting steel – once machinery, rail-cars, rails, and even locomotives – too dangerous and unwieldy for their scrap value to pay for the labor of salvaging them. Valueless until the city should rise once more to need room or rails.

Someone had bought several of them, bringing in private contractors, and restoring them – yet it all seemed pointless; those lines were closed, unneeded – useless, save perhaps to some devotee of rail. Even the local gangs were too “cool” to take all the nonsense seriously – and mostly smart enough to know that fiddling around in the train-yards behind the backs of the professionals was stupidly dangerous – but the contractors were (weirdly enough) rather soft touches…

All they’d been installing was a few stone pillars and a path to nowhere along an old railway sideline – probably to put scenic exhibits along. Still, the reopening of the old station, if only as a museum or some such, promised free entertainment and refreshments.

A few people were taking it more seriously. Some had signed up for the promise of “gates”. No matter how unlikely that sounded, there were always the lost and desperate. Others… had felt the use of Essence, and the power being exerted to reshape the rail-yards. Enough power that those absurd promises of “Gates” might have something to them – presuming that they weren’t a cover for an invasion from the underworld or some such.

The city officials were a mix. A few knew enough to take it seriously, many more knew that a grand opening party was worth attending even if no obvious payoffs, or tricks to expose, cover-ups to be bribed into, or opportunity for local profit has yet appeared… A couple of the local dragon-bloods (water aspects, mostly favoring Larceny and Bureaucracy) had heard enough to think it worth their time, and wished to corner this gate before others could! But first… it had to open!

And the Wheel turned.

It was that or explode – and that too lay in the balance of destiny.

In Yu-Shan, time and reality twisted, ripped and reformed by floods of warring essence, erupting into pockets of raw Wyld and cascading years where even the Loom of Fate working it it’s own realm with the direct backing of the Maiden’s could no longer sustain causality. Still, while the results of many battles – horrific struggles against Deathlords, neverborn Kaiju, creatures of the Wyld, and confused imports from Alien Creations – were as yet indeterminate, the overall course of events was clear. The Song of Creation filled the air, echoed by the uncounted voices of gods, men, and stranger beings and sweeping around, over, and under such struggles as if they were mere rocks in a mighty flood.

As the Song reached the edges of the dome it passed though both the ancient gates to the Blessed Isle or Earth, and the gates to other places, and the erupting galactic gates – spreading over more than a hundred worlds. On ninety-six worlds – the seventy-two prepared for colonization and twenty-four more prepared as nature preserves – a dozen gate-manses apiece went into operation as planned. Each gate to Earth completed the geomancy of the security-and-service manses that had been constructed there, bringing THEM into operation as well.

And the Song of Creation spread further still, gifting the worlds with health, youth, and long, long, life. Six of North America’s nearly 248 gates opened in Chicago, where the security and support manses had been designed in an interlocking and mutually resonant grid – providing power, weather moderation, and various other services for the entire metropolitan area.

One was at the old Chicago Junction Terminal on Lakeshore Drive… Now parklike, save for the restored old terminal, junction lines, and turning circles, there was some staff on hand to open things up.

And precisely on time a vortex of energy swirled into existence at the end of the train tracks and the “path to nowhere”, the stone pillars became an arch, several underground structures opened up – and the gate opened, revealing an early-morning vista of mountains, valleys, rich forests, a glittering city on the hills above the wide river that watered the valley, and flocks of birds and animals roaming the land and the air above it. The path extended to several structures, including a warehouse, a stockyard, a “general store” or “trading post”, and a yard full of classical covered wagons – while the train tracks extended towards the city.

The warding, reconstructive, and protective spells that the Song was carrying had been meant to sustain and rebuild Yu-Shan despite the battle in it’s midst. Across cities that were merely run down, the effect of spells designed to rebuild after a war of Gods, Exalts, Deathlords, and Kaiju were quite dramatic.

And a very classical wood-burning train (with the locomotives firebox and boilers thamuaturgically augmented so as to actually need very little wood or water) gently chugged it’s way through, to take one of the circle turn-arounds and pull up to the station.

And save for the music, there was silence – and agape staring. Even the essence users were reeling as otherworldly dragon-lines linked to Earths – and rank-5 demesnes with preconstructed manses flared to life beneath their feet, sending a wave of essence coursing across the entire city!

Perhaps most importantly… the Song carried with it an impression of Charles, of his granting relief from all injuries, and of the (rather absurd) level of compassion that fueled it.

The stillness lasted more than long enough for the thoroughly inhuman guides and gate guardians (Anthro-canine-metallic amalgams, Coatl, and Kickaha) to take up their stations while the security manses began generating their own staff.

A people few backed away – they’d seen some crazy stuff, but not like THIS – but most found the music thoroughly reassuring…

Not too surprisingly, the Dragon-Blooded agents were the first to regain their composure.

(Inukami Train Conductor – as dryly and matter-of-factually as he could possibly manage) “We have two hundred and forty-three names on our first-run passenger list for the city of Artolis, leaving at least seven seats open for additional passengers on the first run. Actual settlers do have priority over journalists and agents who intend to report back in. The train will make the run every six hours for now. Those individuals and groups who have applied for homesteading packages and seek to claim their own lands in the vicinity of Artolis should check in with the office on the other side of the gate to pick up their supplies, livestock, and vehicles. The settlement guides will assist in locating and setting up land-claims.”

(Young Kickaha, much more mischievously) “And you can land on Europa if you want to, but this train doesn’t go there!”

Quite a few gang members were already pushing forward and heading down the path… Whoa! They needed to get their stuff! It was REAL! And maybe they should pass the word around their neighborhoods too…

The Exalts and thaumaturgists in the vicinity were noting that both ends of the gate fed through newly-activated rank-5 indestructible manses. A teenage boy had built THIS? Certainly they had gotten an impression, and whoever it was was absurdly compassionate and powerful, but most Exalts couldn’t build a level-5 Manse… Perhaps one of these Solars who were supposed to be running around now? And he was apparently freely offering new planets and supplies to ANYONE who wanted a fresh start – apparently including those idiotic ganger ne’er do wells… not that their presence didn’t cause a lot of problems for higher-end activity.

Charles rather thought that a simpler life would help a lot with that – although, to be fair, his basis for that notion was pure general theory.

Several Terrestrials had put in for land claims as well. Why not? At best it was free, and at worst it wouldn’t have mattered.

And it looked like the pioneering supplies included assorted thaumaturgical talismans and even the occasional minor artifact, even if it WAS mostly set up for homesteading. That was interesting! Not as impressive as whatever links were powering the gate, but there were at least hundreds of times as many minor artifacts as gates… Besides, since there WAS land available, it would be best to go through and claim the best spots before the others got back! They needed the best land with the best view!

The thought was obvious, and the staff silently wished them good luck with that. There were a LOT of nice spots on an optimized planet. Even if they just wanted to be near the city (and it’s high-end service manses) there should be lots of choices…

A few were sensible enough to ask. They wanted someplace secure and defensible, so the staff provided several likely locations – throwing in geomantic surveys as needed.

With that kind of cooperation… the terrestrials asked for the best Water demesne on the planet – and were deeply shocked to find that a fine selection of rank-5’s was available.

What” Had these creatures already mapped out the planet? They HAD to ask!

(Map Expert) “Well, the planet WAS designed; and so the geomancy is just as optimized as the ecology and physical resources!”

(Terrestrial) “Designed? How long did this take to build?”

(Map Expert) “The planet only took a few minutes, the ley line network came up to full power within the next three months – which let us bring the gate- and city-manses online”.

A FEW MINUTES? For a PLANET? Just how powerful was this “Charles”?

The staff cheerfully pulled up some audiovisual records of the terraforming – which revealed that he HAD used an existing lump of rock at least – but the planetary transformation was still gob-smacking! Of course…. they were talking to a rather high-end magical construct – that seemed to be manse-powered itself…

(Terrestrial) “So… how many Manses has this “Charles” made?”

(Map Expert) “Well, he makes them as needed, so there’s no real count.”

(Terrestrial) “What, like utility artifacts?”

(Map Expert) “Are they really that different on this scale?”

(Terrestrial, after a brief and thoughtful pause) “I suppose not… I suppose that we had best take a look, and perhaps see the effects of this terraforming for ourselves!”.

Meanwhile the local governmental reps were talking to the station clerk. They really hadn’t taken all the ads seriously, and while they’d gotten some advance warning from the local Terrestrials that something was happening, they were startled to see the extent.

(Anthropomorphic Golden Retriever running the check-in counter at the station) “Can I help you gentlemen?”

Now that was WEIRD… and it didn’t seem like an animatronic or a costume, It seemed to be breathing and everything! Still… their sources had said that there would be a LOT of weird stuff – and while this was VERY weird indeed, if it could help with the city’s financial issues, it was well worth a look.

The police were bypassing the line however.

(Golden Retriever Clerk) “Do you need something? (Suggestively) There IS a line…”

Oh boy. No one was going to believe THIS incident report! Despite the pictures!

(Sergeant) “Well… We need to have a look around here, to see that everything is up to code! We’ll need a tour of the… facility? And Explanations! Definitely explanations…”

That got them a Coatl – and a fairly straightforward tour: training setups for people who needed more skills before starting out, the supply stockpiles, maps, advice on setting up – and otherwise a good look at a fairly conventional train station and a statement that “Charles believes that people need more room, and new lands to explore – and so he is providing them. This station and the gate system are self-maintaining and close to perpetual”.

The police were having a bit of trouble deciding how to approach the situation. They weren’t trained for what was obviously a first contact scenario of sorts! And other planets were certainly out of their jurisdiction anyway… were they going to be dealing with trans-galactic commuters? The “Gate” did seem to be instantaneous… Would the city try to annex a planet like it would a new development? Was there even a government there beyond this “Charles” announcing “Here’s some stuff! Don’t hurt each other! Have fun!”? Just how much of Chicago’s population was going to abruptly move out?

Not to mention the “everything is suddenly new and shiny” seemed to go a LONG ways past the station-park! Pretty much every report from around the city was of things being cleaned, repaired, reinforced, and restored!

How many people would THAT put out of work? But then… they had a brand new city and world to move to, where apparently much of what you needed was free, training programs were sponsored, and everything was very nice.

Wait. There was no breach of the peace going on and there was no law against opening gates or giving pioneering equipment away. This was POLICY. Not police work! They could safely shove it all off on the bureaucracy!

And so they did.

That would, indeed, take some time… the bureaucrats would want more information, and to meet with Charles, and to investigate the new planet, and perhaps even to send someone to Aden. City bureaucracy being what it was, it would take months, if not years, to implement – unless, of course, someone went under the table (which was probably inevitable).

And then there would be the feds.

Across the world there were local attempts to cordon off some of the gates – but there were too many worldwide, scattered over every nation, for that to become more than a very temporary procedure in most places – and the Inukami staff, Kickaha guides, and Coatl could spread out as the security manses generated their own staff and guardians to bring in those who wished to emigrate across the cosmos regardless of minor opposition.

Fortunately for the Chicago authorities peace of mind, the Gate-Guardians were quite cooperative in some ways. They were happy to tell those who asked that the destination planets were situated in otherwise uninhabited Hubble Volumes; so no immigration was likely for the moment. They also proved to be fully cooperative about restraining (and turning over to the authorities) lunatics, serious or violent criminals, and so on; they were screening to some degree anyway. There would be home-grown lunatics quite soon enough, there was no need to send any.

Unfortunately for the authorities peace of mind… even casual estimates on how many people would be leaving were fairly high – and the staff had no objection to simply giving pickpockets, shoplifters, and so on a bit of re-education and a fresh start!

Of course in actual war zones… things were going to be a bit trickier. As well as in the places where unwanted people were being dumped, or there was fighting over the gates, or oppressed populations wanted to escape, and so on. Charles would have them cared for of course – but the politics was going to be a lot tricker than he had hoped! The turmoil was already starting in the middle east and elsewhere as oppressed minorities, refugees, and similar groups were exiled, evacuated, or taking refuge through the gates! (Including many of the crazier folk from the middle east whom Leon hadn’t gotten to yet… He hadn’t cared if he had to transform 80% of the population. He was going to have a sane population that was willing to accept magic, the fey, and being ruled by a god-king or he would know the reason why! There had been insurgencies, ISIS, and maniacs everywhere!)

Meanwhile, back in Aden… that Raksha lady – Nimue’ – was back! She had returned to the Mardi Gras manse ans was waiting for him – and she HAD done him a favor, so it was only fair to find out what she wanted!

(Nimue’) “Ah, it is you, Aden? Your work was successful?”

(Charles) “So far anyway! It is nice to see you of course!”

(Nimue’) “I am glad! And I am glad to see you! Now, we must discuss our marriage!”

(Charles, with considerable alarm) “Uhrm?!?!?!”

He ran a quick check! He didn’t remember agreeing to get married!

No… no he HADN’T.

So why…

(Charles doubtfully) “I don’t really recall proposing… why do you want to get married?”

(Nimue’) “I must keep you from marrying the Celestial Plain! I have eyes only for you!”

(Charles) “Uhm… I really wasn’t planning to get married any time soon!” (By, of course, a kids notion of “soon”).

Oh geez! Had she seriously fixated on HIM? It kind of looked like it! AND she thought that Yu-Shan was the competition!

He consulted Malinda!

(Malinda) “Dearie? I think you’ve gotten caught up in her narrative! She might want to marry you and become a part of your nature.”

(Charles, planatively) “But I already have lots of chaos in my nature… I don’t see how she could add herself to it though!”

(Malinda) “You DO have many, many Graces that would be suitable for making regions of a freehold! Maybe she thinks she can become a part of you that way?”

(Charles) “But… they’re bonded to the poles!

Well, their narrative shaped everything about them and what wents on around them. He tried to figure out what it was with observation and passive detection!

It looked like… she was fascinated by, or fixated on, HIM – and was carefully scrutinizing him for any flaws (and not really finding many). She… “knew” (believed?) that he was a Primordial, and was also performing a careful study of the environment, and trying to figure out ways to turn him even more to the Wyld’s service. Basically… she wanted to be an associate, with a formal bond to make sure that she got listened to and protected. And if that let her influence him further towards chaos (however unlikely that was), that would be a bonus! And if she could show up another Primordial, all the better.

Charles didn’t really think that Yu-Shan even understood that idea, much less had such a plan – the primordials were pretty firmly in “sufficient unto themselves” territory – but he supposed that it was possible! Besides… no one ever said Raksha were rational.

Well, a formal connection to a Raksha would have downsides, but would something like oath-friendship or an advisory position be sufficient? Because he was much too young to get married! Even if she was pretty set on it!

He let her know that some form of courtship agreement was as far as he would go at the moment – but that he was perfectly willing to confirm that he had no intention of “Marrying” Yu-Shan! (She was busy with her own stuff at the moment anyway!).

And that satisfied Nimue’… for now.

The Chronicles Of Heavenly Artifice CCVII – Meanwhile, On The Sidelines

It wasn’t a big order – and it was in the “submitted by random persons” pile – but an Everlasting Flask of Alcohol? Who wanted THAT? And WHY? A pub owner? It… appeared to be one of the wealthier people in Aden. One “Ubab Shamoun”, one of the refugees from the Middle East. He’d come to Aden to escape militants… a muslim, but possibly not that observant?

Charles called him. That didn’t take up much of any processing power…

(Charles) “Mr Shamoun? I have a request from you. While that is not, in itself, a problem – although I do not guarantee their fulfillment – this one is a bit… problematic. It’s also unspecified; did you want rubbing alcohol? Ethanol for fuel? There are a LOT of kinds of alcohol.”

(Ubab) “Hello, my friend! I wanted a flask to hold my wine!”

(Charles, with some puzzlement) “What, to transport it in? Or just to disguise it?”

(Ubab) “No, to drink! Don’t tell me someone of your power is a teetotaler! I left partially because of that!”

(Charles) “Er… but don’t you follow a religion which says that drinking is punishable by death and Allah’s condemnation?”

Some of the Kickaha who were quietly bodyguarding Charles snickered. So naive not to think that Muslim’s would sneak around the rules a bit!

To Charles it was the logical disconnect; you subscribed to the Islamic belief system to gain Paradise. If you drank, then according to those beliefs, you wouldn’t gain Paradise. So… if you want to drink, why be a Muslim? It wasn’t as if going with another faith would make it WORSE, and there was always the chance that the other faith would be the right one…

The Kickaha caught THAT quite easily – you didn’t need to read MINDS, just FACES (if so many of the would-be manipulators weren’t convinced that the boys reactions HAD to be a carefully contrived front he wouldn’t be able to keep any secrets at ALL. Charles could barely even manage to say “No Comment!” They HAD to get him out more! He seemed to have no concept of a “social front” at all; Lacking all reasonable fears meant he had no notion of conforming out of fear” either. He just did it to avoid upsetting people!

(Ubab) “I’m Orthodox, my friend. Much less meddlesome!”

Which had presumably been another reason for coming to Aden.

(Charles) “Oh, so it’s just naughty in that system? Well that makes more sense! It’s still really bad for you though! Alcohol is a selective neurotoxin, and causes damage to the central nervous system… Wait, is that another reason why you live here? So that that sort of thing will regenerate?”

(Ubab) “I haven’t had any of the pains in months. Truly, THIS is Paradise.”

Oh dear! That wasn’t exactly what he’d put healing into Aden for… OK, Ubab wasn’t hurting anyone else, and he was only wasting his own potential – not hurting himself otherwise – but this was just not right! No matter how contented Ubab was as an alcoholic, people should learn and grow, not just get happily drunk! But he didn’t want to make him sad, even if denying him his addiction would be better for him – and it wasn’t like he couldn’t get alcohol anyway; he just wanted it to be more convenient, so that he wouldn’t even have to leave the house!

Ah.

(Charles) “Very well! I shall bestow on you a Flask of Wisdom…”

Flask of Wisdom (Artifact **): A Flask of Wisdom produces an ever-varying selection of marvelous “wines”, fortified with vitamins, minerals, fully nourishing, and with minor healing properties – enough to hold arthritis and similar ailments at bay and to reduce the effect of mundane illnesses. While non-alcoholic, and with no deleterious physical effects (and certainly no hangovers), the “wine” is magically intoxicating – but works best when shared socially and freely, and only works at all when the user makes reasonably regular efforts at self-development or helping others – studying, teaching, learning to socialize, caring for children, whatever. The user will come to understand that within a few days of coming to own the flask – well before the “reasonably regular” requirement kicks in. A Flask of Wisdom has no attunement cost.

There! Endless bribery in a flask! After all, it wasn’t asking for anything MAJOR – just some slight regular effort. And well within what even the Orthodox faith required.

Ubab accepted the present… He was an ordinary man after all, and really didn’t devote any thought as to why it might be labeled a “Flask of Wisdom”. And, perhaps, he would grow. At least as long as he stayed in Aden, he had time.

On the way back there was a young man – of about his apparent age waiting for him.

(Charles, while checking for his name and such) “Oh hello!… Do you need something?

Hm. “Per Rosing”, a VERY recent arrival from a gate in Scandinavia.

(Charles) “Mr Rosing is it?”

(Per) “Hello, Charles! I went through that Yu-Shan place first. What a bunch of crazy sights! The lions directed me to one of your gates there, and I’ve been waiting for you. I wanted to talk to you about the colonization scheme!”

(Charles) “Well… the gates are already open (since the Song of Creation of course)… what did you want to talk about?”

(Per) “I wanted to see one of these worlds, and maybe get a tour?”

(Charles) “Well… most of the guides are busy leading colonists out at the moment, and a tour of a planet would take a long time – but there are several gates with rail lines to some of the new cities… If you just want a look around, perhaps one of those would do? Fifty or sixty miles of scenery, a look around a magical city, and a bit of exploration around it might be suitable.”

(Per, looking oddly disappointed) “I think I’ll do that. Will you be around after I’m through?”

That seemed a little odd really. After all, the papers on Earth had been FULL of planet descriptions and directions for going there for months now. Was there something more subtle going on here?

(Per) “If you don’t mind me asking before I go… why all this? It can’t be out of pure generosity.”

(Charles, with some surprise) “Why not? I don’t recall any rules about it… It was a certain amount of trouble, but while I had to invest some years in developing the resources and abilities it required I now I have them available for other projects… It was time well spent I think!”

(Per) “I don’t think most of Earth’s governments prepared for that.”

(Charles, indignantly) “Well I TOLD them!”

(Per) “But would they move fast enough even if they did take it seriously? The powers that be have hidden things for a long time.”

(Charles, sighing) “Well, all they needed to do was let people through…”

(Per) “It’s unstoppable now! So, I’ll take a look at one of these worlds, and then come back. Okay?”

(Charles) “OK!”

And he got… a wink and a hug???? That was weird! And very startling! And more than a bit uncomfortable… Normally only Grandpa and the girls spent a lot of time hugging him!

He couldn’t avoid stiffening up as he ran a magical check to see if this was a diversion from something sneaking up or something – or suppress the faint glow of defensive spells.

(Per) “Oh, right. You’re probably worried about other magical threats. Sorry! I’ll get going!”

Charles was mildly surprised and somewhat interested… most normal humans wouldn’t have spotted that at all.

(Charles) “Oh no worries! It was just startlement!”

Per went off, slowly, leaving Charles scratching his head a bit. Sure, people did pointless things – but that just seemed a little… off. Maybe he was testing for something? But there didn’t seem to be an y active magic on him.

It never occurred to Charles that Per could have just been testing his reactions to physical contact – and that his results had been pretty clear; he obviously wasn’t used to men hugging him. It wasn’t like he’d ever given that much thought!

Charles decided to consult a bit. He wasn’t really all THAT good at reading motivations and such! But he had some friends who WERE good at it.

And the handiest bunch were the Kickaha who’d been playing bodyguard.

(Berri) “Uh . . . that was pretty gay, Charles. I think he might be into you.”

(Charles) “Erm? But… that doesn’t really work… Elzeard said that sort of thing was mostly reproductive behavior… Wait; is it just the social bonding aspect by itself?”

(Berri, blushing) “Uhm… I don’t really know either. What, you mean you didn’t realize people had sex for fun? Or lust?”

(Charles) “Well, yes… I just thought that it was usually opposite-sex pairs, since that really has to be the dominant instinct. Anything else would tend to breed itself out without a secondary aspect which kept up it’s frequency in the gene pool.”

(A chorus of half a dozen of the snarkier Kickaha, albeit in an affectionate and friendly manner) “NNNEEEEERRRRRDDDDD!”

(Berri) “That’s a little beyond me, Charles. Oh, geez. I’m going to have watch you more around girls now. Ever hear the term ‘gold digger?'”

(Charles) “Uhm… just looking for wealth? It’s not like there’s a shortage after all; just living in Aden is pretty comfortable!”

(Berri) “Yeah, but it could still happen if some girl who doesn’t know that comes in here.”

(Charles) “Well, it would probably be good to make sure that people who seem to be making approaches become subtly aware that they can be very comfortable without, well… paying for it by spreading their legs! We don’t really need that sort of thing!”

(Berri) “I’ll leave that up to you, boss. Um… what ARE you going to do about that guy, though? I think he picked up on it, but he’s got to be disappointed.”

(Charles) “Well, I never tried to guarantee that no one would ever be disappointed… If that was really what he wanted, he should have checked on how to arrange it; it’s not like the servants aren’t there to tell him… Although I’m not sure about what I’d tell him; even if you clean things, the physical arrangements sound kind of uncomfortable, at least on the… er… well… receiving end.”

(Berri, who happened to be female, a bit sardonically. Boys!) “I really wouldn’t know about that!”

(Charles) “It doesn’t sound like much fun!”

Per was back by eventually, looking impressed and a little chastened.

(Per) “You’re something… sorry if I made you feel awkward.”

(Charles, somewhat flustered) “Erm, well… if you were making an approach, most of the others doing that have been much more direct about it!”

(Per) “Oh. So you figured it out too. I assume you don’t go that way?”

(Charles) “Well, it sounds sort of messy and not all that much fun…”

(Per) “That’s how sex with girls sounds to me.” (Shrugging) “I’ll be in touch, though… or someone from the family, anyway. We were going to start a colony.”

(Charles, much more cheerily) “There’s lots of places for them!”

(Per) “Well, shake hands on it anyway?”

(Charles) “Certainly!”

Aurora Ward Index III

Session Logs:

  • Session I: Team formation, the arrival of Ahmik, a Cultist, a Powerstone, and introducing the Imaginal Wars.
  • Session II: Settling into the Silverhold, the arrival of Syphon, Training Exercises, Demonic Attacks, and a Flower Exhibition.
  • Session III: Imp Amulets, the departure of Syphon and the arrival of Mini-Max, the Book of Niberius, and Invocation Magic.
  • Session IV: Captain Thunder, Candyland, The Auction, Night Templar gets Possessed, Demon Summonings, and Sapphire Star.
  • Session V: The Mandate and the Wyrm Crown, the Night Auction, encounters with Plunder, Fear, Destruction, and Wraith Sword.
  • Session VI: Fear, Destruction, and Vengeance. Entering and Leaving the Realm of Opposites. Considering the Archmage and Chi’an Lung.
  • Session VII: The Wrath of the Wendigo, the Transformation of Antiquity.
  • Session VIII: Visiting Children, Niberius and Godzilla, Weaponizing Love, and the Demon Amulets.
  • Session IX: Investigating the Demon Amulets, Landscaping with Belial, Demonic Ensoulment Rituals,
  • Session X: Disabling the Rite, Boreas, Belial, and Mini-Max. Blood and Souls, the Counterspell, seeking the Archmage.
  • Session XI: Through the Chinese Hells, the Pool of Life, the Archmage Besieged.
  • Session XII: Relief Forces, the Dragons of the East,
  • Session XIII: Entrapment, Meeting the Archmage, Encountering the Orb.
  • Session XIV: A dinner, some history, the Orb – and into the Heart of Darkness.
  • Session XV: Departing the Archmage, a curious device indeed, Ameobro and the Animal Spirits, the Gates of Faerie.
  • Session XVI: Encounters with the Fey, Encountering Malwyn, Illusions and Reality, rescuing Samuel.
  • Session XVII: Ceara and Samuel, Malwyn shows his ire, investigating disappearances, magical contractors, the dangerous room, bumping heads with Belial.
  • Session XVIII: A dealing with demons, the Wendigo Camp, Bearageddon, a dealing with the dead, news of the assault.
  • Session XIX: Battle at the Silverhold, the Black Summons and the Light of Luathon, Driving with the Dead.
  • Session XX: Discussions with the Wind, Captain Massacre Attacks, Ameobrat fails to evade the Sniper, Dimensional Incursions, the Crimes of Captain Mayhem, Night Templar versus the Dark Knight and his Imps, Funniest Home Videos.
  • Session XXI: Tracing Malwyn, Murders in the Darkness, Discussions with the Seelie and Unseelie Fey, Encounters with the Orthallen.
  • Session XXII: Near Space Defense, Battles with Malwyn and the Battered Women, Belial’s Press Conference, Tracing NSD.
  • Session XXIII: My Evil Twin Skippy lives in My Evil Mirror House, the river rising, battles with the alternates, the escape of the Dark Knight and Munchkin, false equipment.
  • Session XXIV: Zantu Deliberations, visiting Saturn, the Archives of the Arith Vaya, the Glacial Guardian, into the frozen depths, debating with Darvian.
  • Session XXV: Explaining Ameobro, introducing the Dragon Circle, Runestones, Survivalism and the Codex Naberius, Voso, the Demon Thief of Magical Children.
  • Session XXVI: Bargains with Belial, Demonic Web Pages, Orabus the Equine Prince, Battling Voso, buying Demonic Children, Secrets of the Arith Vaya.
  • Session XXVII: Dealing with Demonic Children, Night Templar and the Angels of Wrath, Red Soulstone and Space Marines
  • Session XXVIII: The Press Conference, Malphas and Mayhem.
  • Session XXIX: The History of Mars, the Skorel and the Arith Vaya, interviewing Doctor Promethean, the Ghosts of Mars, True Necromancers.
  • Session XXX: The Shrine of Rathma, Bobby the White Necromancer, speculations on canned meat, Doctor Promethean again, Saurians for Mars.
  • Session XXXI: Feeding Ghosts, Piper and the Bombardment Epoch, descending the Axis Mundi, observing the destruction of Mars.
  • Session XXXII: Return from History, retrieving a Helmstone.
  • Session XXXIII: Spider Ships, Psychic Experiments, and Martian Possessions.
  • Session XXXIV: Issues on Earth – mercenaries, robotic law enforcement, and pegasus interviews. Megachurches, soulstone, the Indestructible Man, and Demonic Pants. Future Lawbots, investigating disappearances, and childish invocations.
  • Session XXXV: Murders of days long past, Haywire and the Future, Illiri, Mana Drains, Elder Spells, and Realtors, and the Pit of the Kyinn.
  • Session XXXVI: Johannus-not-a-ghost, Investigating the Kyinn.
  • Session XXXVII: Setting up the Space Marines and the Horsemen to collide.
  • Session XXXVIII: The Horsemen and the Space Marines.
  • Session XXXIX: Planning for Zantu, Ormarr the Obtuse, Colonel Ashford and his Psychic Sidekicks, the Galactic Bus, Ancient Air Defense.
  • Session XL: Into the Ancient Base on Zantu.
  • Session XLI: Ancient Chaos, Battle in the Control Chamber, Planetary Cataclysm and Reconstruction.
  • Session XLII: Samhain’s Self-Arrest, Search and Rescue, Trial of the Century, Ormarr on FTL, Invocations at Ceara’s School, Night Templar’s Child Endangerment Case, on the news with Belial, Armageddon shorts out, Voso lord of Spam.
  • Session XLIII: Demonic Danger Rooms, decontaminating Armageddon, Deplatypusing Captain  Mayhem, The Transtemporal Villain Swarm.
  • Session XLIV: The Goetic Council, Ambassadorial Portfolios, Armageddons Unholy Pants, and Vapula the Irritant.
  • Session VL: Voyage to Tibet, Niberios and North Korea, Battle at the Archmage’s, Arcane Considerations, and Signing Off on Time Travel.
  • Session VLI: A conference on restraints, summoning the Doctor, Go-fers and Grabboids, Antione and Illari, Gastion Emerys, Timewalker, and the oncoming horde.
  • Session VLII: Tracing Illari, Considering Syphon and Mini-Max, molten miniatures, collecting the Sniper.
  • Session VLIII: Ordering Weapons, a dealing with Dragons, Potions of Drunkenness, and the Bane Mummies explained.
  • Session IL: Researching the Racemind, The Nordic Realms.
  • Session L: Into the Nordic Realms, Modgud and the river Gjoll, Heimdall and Bifrost, the Wolves and the Gods, Loki, Jormungand, and Hela. Samhain contemplates moving out.
  • Session LI: The Fury at the Norsemen, disruptions on Zantu, ambassadors to the Pirate and Pony realms, Armageddon accidentally marries Prince Blueblood, Ameobro acquires some Changelings.
  • Session LII: Antione and the Kyinn, Surveillance Efforts, Pegasus and Perseus II, Amazon’s, Athena, and Icos. Introducing the Titanosaurs.
  • Session LIII: The Hydrasaur. Battle at Thunder Bay, Illari’s Projects.
  • Session LIV: Investigating the Genetics Lab, tracing the Titanosaurs.
  • Session LV: Ferret War Dance and the Ferret King, Battling the Titanosaurs.
  • Session LVI: Arach the Black, Forgemage, the Minotaur, the Zantu Survey.
  • Session LVII: Illari and the fight at the club.
  • Session LVIII: Titanosaurs Worldwide, the Battle of New York Harbor.
  • Session LIX: Interlude; Ceara summons the Cutie Mark Crusaders.
  • Session LX: Concluding the Battle of New York Harbor.
    • It’s worth noting that these logs are 1) summarized in places (especially conversations) and 2) from a particular characters viewpoint; they don’t tend to get into much detail on what the other characters are up to.

Background Materials:

The Cast:

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CCVI – Cadenza Allegro

Charles was almost out of time. Fortunately, he was also almost out of things to do. There were networks of well-guarded indestructible manses waiting to take over Yu-Shan’s control inputs to Creation, massive power reserves on tap, guards (second-circle equivalents; not enough to stop a top-end threat for long, but their perfect defenses should hold out more than long enough to sound the alarm and escape) assigned to every vital person and location that he could manage, a 500% overcoverage on his control artifacts, lots of geomantic backup and monitoring in place, quite a few unshaped roped into providing external security for Creation while his focus was elsewhere, crews of Raksha ready to help out, and more. Gaia had the Spike of Pole Unbinding, Yu-Shan’s Devas were ready to supervise through their remotes, the Tenders and Overseers had been briefed, the Celestial Lions were in position, King Ghidorah was attending along with many Third-Circle Demons, and every backup and precaution he could think of was in place.

It was time for the show to go on! Hopefully a lot of the major powers would attend peacefully, rather than opposing the project!

That could have been “more innocent bystanders to get caught up in things!”, but – fortunately – most of the most vulnerable weren’t important enough to get seats, and would have to watch remotely from Aden, which was much safer. There were still random carnival-goers of course, but some of them would have been around regardless.

There was, of course, muttering and some excitement when the Celestial Lions started clearing the central pavilion for a performance and it became apparent just how many sections of special seating were being set up – and just how exotic some of them were.

The discussion got louder as the performers began to arrive in all in all their eccentric glory – but the Celestial Lions were out in force, which was enough to send some of the more cautious carnival-goers looking for good vantage points a long ways away. If some little musical piece called for THAT kind of security something big was definitely up!

And then some even MORE eccentric entities arrived – the Deva’s of Yu-Shan using their remotes – and demonic cries of recognition joined the confusion of gods who both instinctively recognized and did not consciously know the Deva’s!

Except for the black hole in the shape of a kimono-clad sumotori, who just looked amused as he ate all the food.

Charles gave them a few moments to settle down since this WAS a performance! Quiet was expected, at least to start! And this sort of thing WAS why there were separate sections!

And as the drums and other percussion instruments of the first movement thundered, the energies of chaos flowed out across the Carnival of Meeting, the energies of oncoming transformation lending strength to magic, a sparkle of youth to the ancient streets of Yu-Shan, and a thousand transient touches of wonder drifted upon the very air.

And the gods wondered, as the beauty of the music spread, somehow infinite in potential and yet unfulfilled.

Far beyond the music’s normal range, something resonated, a subtle note in the darkness singing softly to itself. A tiny crack in an ancient ward, and a trickle of time flowing into timelessness… Within the Gallery of Captured Dreams minds stirred that had been sleeping since before the rise of Creation.

And the Adamant foundations of Yu-Shan trembled, as – in the wake of a massive stampede of panicked high-ranking gods fleeing the Jade Pleasure Dome – a massive, floating, cloud of elemental energies poured out of the southernmost entrance to of the Dome.

Charles sighed – having to multitask ALREADY. What a bother!

He threw up a series of wards around the performance area, and tried to clear a path for the elemental storm – and checked with the Celestial Lions on duty there to try to find out what was going on! Normally a bunch of high-ranking gods wouldn’t make such a commotion over anything even remotely reasonable…

Oh. There were hurricanes frantically howling at the edges, buffeting the infernos and oceans within while thorns, burrs, and massive stones of all varieties floated through the whole mass! And… those howling primordial energies made up draconian shapes floating around within the storm, only faintly visible even to magical senses.

The Elemental Dragons awakened or ascended? Gaia using the spike? Would they need a reserved section of seating?

The lions hadn’t been expecting this either, and since she was one of the Incarnae, they couldn’t exactly order her to cease and desist!

(Charles, via telepathic broadcast since voice was not likely to work through the hurricanes!) “Ah, hello there! Can I help you?”

All he got was a cacophony of crackles, howling wind, and raging water and sand. The mass was heading upward, toward the Pole of Adamant. It… wasn’t affecting the geomancy yet, but it felt like it was barely restrained. The raw power of most of Gaia’s physical Deva’s pouring towards a single, central, point where things were most closely tied together.

Probably to pour their power into the Spike… Charles had the guards herd people and gods out of the way and made a corridor! It was a good thing that his servitors were pretty affable and high-Essence… it made it a LOT easier to get the gods to listen!

Besides, it WAS the Carnival! As well as an elemental hurricane that no one sensible would stand in front of anyway… There was some fussing and bruised egos, but better that than being dissolved by some manifestation of Primordial power!

Charles damped the sound around the elemental manifestations, but he still had to turn up the volume a bit. Fortunately he was immune to laryngitis and it didn’t affect his supporting performers!

And the dreaming thunder of the wyld drums spread across the carnival as the brasses, and the second movement, came in.

Across Yu-Shan, ancient primordial demesnes, long dormant and decayed, flared into sudden life – and crackling spikes of essence began to build in the structures of manses long broken and buried. Once begun… the Music Of Creation, and the revival of Yu-Shan would precede to completion – or to catastrophe.

And the Drum Fey exalted in joy – even as reports began to flood in from the outskirts of Heaven of several massive entities appearing close to the Cornucopia of All’s subterranean Manse and its aboveground patch of fertile soil! The lions and guarding Devas reported most unwholesome energies!

Drat! Charles started to deploy some of his reserves… mostly on containment; attacking warded areas was a LOT more bother, so that should slow them up! It wouldn’t stop a geomantic attack – but that was usually one of the slower methods anyway. Unfortunately, he had only one Kaiju to deploy personally…

That… was holding things up, but one – a slow-moving snake of soulsteel, white Jade, and other, stranger, alloys, had begun burrowing into the adamant and emitting large amounts of death-energy! The local anti-underworld alert systems were going haywire!

Oh well! If the Kaiju were coming… that was a pain, but he had to stick with the sequence to make this work. All he could do was deploy distractions and delays!

And across the city… wards and defenses flared, as the divine legions fought a delaying action against the attacking Kaiju, hurling crackling bolts of essence, hurling missiles, and erecting barriers.

It didn’t have much effect, but the warding spells took the brunt of the counterattacks. They were still causing damage just moving around, but that was what happened when Kaiju payed your city a visit!

Charles… focused on reinforcing the wards and the structure of Yu-Shan itself. The would hold up the advance, provide cover for the defenders, reduce the damage to the city, and keep casualties to a minimum, as he had promised to attempt!

At least it was the Empty Quarters – and the Celestial Lions, Tenders, and Overseers were using their own methods of reinforcing things. Yu-Shan’s Deva’s were helping with that! It was a good thing that he’d given them multiple remotes to work though – and that their power was waxing as Yu-Shan stirred in her slumber!

And bursts of essence sparkled across the city like a myriad stars, as resident gods raised their own wards and defenses. Those were far less effective than the efforts of the Celestial Lions and Charles’s agents – but there were millions of them. It would not suffice, but it bought more precious time.

And the Third Movement began. The music of Creation built upon the infinite resources of the Wyld and the order-bringing Primordial Paean. Even within the Carnival Grounds… there was shouting from several angry and dismayed mortals – a good deal of “Where am I?!” In multiple languages, some not of Earth! More subtly – and more importantly – a number of Soulsteel and Starmetal artifacts shimmered gently, no longer creations of anguish, but merely of aspected essence.

Across Yu-Shan, echoes drifted upon the winds. Vagrant bits of themes in a sprinkling of ethereal notes, bearing one of the most elusive and powerful of thoughts – a new beginning, and new hope. The long despair and decay felt a trace of a new dawn upon the wind.

At Seven Whispering Winds there was a massive burst of energy as a dozen Kaiju made a fade-in appearance, towering over the ancient manse. Godzilla, Rhodan, Gamera, Anguirus, Mothra, King Caesar, Gigan, Kumonja, Biolanthe, Ultraman, Megalon, and Destroyah bestrode the canals of Yu-Shan – joining their scouts King Ghidorah, King Kong (the bioelectric version, who had gone up the Jade Pleasure Dome and was absorbing the energies of it’s defensive systems to redirect into blasts across the city), and MechaGodzilla. Behind them… an army of (mostly) Native-American styled Fey arrived to handle backup and crowd control.

Sure, they seemed to have arrived to defend Yu-Shan, and to make Creation more friendly to Fey – but just try telling the gods of the empty regions that!

(MechaGodzilla) “Bye bye everybody! I have to go defend the city! You humans have fun at the Carnival!”

MechaGodzilla left his hat behind as he grew to full size and headed off to join the defense – leaving a not-insignificant portion of the Carnival-goers wondering what had been put into their drinks!

And the fury of the Neverborn-Kaiju surpassed itself, as all too many of those Dream-Kaiju – empowered by their Exalted pilots, Raksha crews, and some of the mystic “Martial Artists” of the Besi Hentuperajin – turned their own, original, ancient powers against them (even if it was only the lesser ones!) How DARED these creatures of mere humanity use the powers they had lost in the Primordial War?

And – for the sake of Heaven and the salvation of Creation- rage, confusion, and chaos reigned supreme as Dream-Kaiju, with greater numbers, and the powers of their far more varied crews, warred against Neverborn-Kaiju wielding Ghostly Arcanoi and the terrible, high-essence, charms and sorceries of their ancient Abyssal pilots.

Night spread across the city as the lead in the Games of Divinity fell to the Lady of Journeys – who had slightly fewer powers of use in such a battle. Darkness, however, did not fall; the light of the constant barrage of blazing blue energy bolts, waves, and explosions as Kingukongu (King Kong or “Guko” for short) channeled the blasts of the defense systems of the Jade Pleasure Dome around his feet against the Neverborn-Kaiju burned with a supernal radiance.

Charles sent Mothra Leo to try and keep the Kaiju Battles to the open areas… OK, it was mostly more wards and containment, but the crew was pretty good at such things – and Leo gave them a good vantage point to work from! Hopefully his wings (and near-infinite use of the Raksha Perfect Dodge) would be fast enough to evade the Neverborn Kaiju strikes.

Fortunately, the Cauldron-Born appreciated drama, and sent their version of his mother Mothra to aid Leo!

And the fourth movement began, introducing strings and keyboard – and a considerable shock for the Humans (and anyone else who actually aged) who was attending the Carnival. As some of the mortals attending looked a little healthier (and younger), the jade bud in front of Charles grew into a flower… As the movement continued, it bore fruit – a lovely Celestial Pear.

Unfortunately, there was a commotion outside the pavilion… A Neverborn Kaiju had arrived via teleportation.

Grievous Shadow, the Dreamstrider Cloaked in Nightmare, embodied distraction and madness, the mind at war with itself, and the unformed terrors spawned from the damage to reality. It’s form was in constant flux – but it was forged of soulsteel, and black jade, and the deathly essence of the Neverborn. A hydra-like thing of many heads (their exact number forever uncountable) it struck along the myriad paths of thoughts and realities rejected. Once Mabhaddoth, Architect Of Locks, He Who Sealed, now a thing of Summoning Shadows and the Darkness that Devoured. Around it madness held illimitable dominion over the gods…

It shimmered momentarily as it’s soulsteel parts smoked in the music of the third movement – but it’s power relied but little on torment, and the departure of souls into Lethe meant little to it, especially when it’s mere presence unlocked a thousand routes long sealed for both the living and the dead. What mattered it that mere sanity could endure so few of those beckoning paths?

The Lions and Tenders were evading being pulled in – if only just – but for the moment a single figure confronted the immense Kaiju, locked in a battle of wills… Zanjaras, the Violet Bier of Sorrows himself, was staring it down – swathed in his bandages and glowing with a pale, colorless aura as he guided the spirits of the dead to Lethe. Even he was having trouble resisting Grievous Shadow’s aura, but he would not let the spirits suffer!

But his power was fading moment by moment though, as the last of the spirits poured through him and Grievous Shadow adjusted to their absence!

And, in the midst of the raging powerstorm crackling through the streets of Yu-shan, the fifth movement began – and Charles employed his Earthmaster’s Stone to help him replace most of the first KiloMote that he’d need to supply to Yu-Shan with Geomantic Relay Points. Since that also activated the Music of Creation’s carrier function, he threw in a repulsive blast attuned to the Neverborn Kaiju to try and drive them back a bit.

And the radiance within the pavilion cast shadows across Yu-Shan as a tidal wave of green and gold essence poured out, bringing the canals and dragon lines of the city to sparkling life – and fueling answering sparks of black and crimson as the deep energies of the city answered. Notes rose from the rushing waters and the incandescent earth as the Music of Creation swept outwards.

Charles channeled his (effective 22, which – thanks to the Honorable Diamond Gem – everyone touched by the music could feel) compassion into his desire to heal as ninety-six gates to ninety-six new worlds erupted around the edges of the dome and the portals to the stargate manses opened up at the central pavilion.

And the Neverborn Kaiju were driven several steps back – in part due to the repulsion he’d thrown in, but mostly in shock as the torment of their Soulsteel components was relieved – and the Guards, Gods, Celestial Lions, Tenders, and Overseers opposing them found strength in the music.

As the pillar of green-gold light fountained up to the apex of the sky dome and washed out across the city, it carried Charles’s Solar Sorcery spells with it – of primordial and general healing, of geomantic repair, and of renewal. A myriad voices responded, as the awakened little gods sang as well – and the beauty of the music passed through the Gates. In return… the power of renewed domains flowed into Yu-Shan, a sudden strength flowing into the domainless gods.

Gates were opening across the Earth as well – and from them too the music poured as the Earth sang. Ancient and long-forgotten gates too allowed the music to pass, although wyld zones did not. On distant worlds, and in strange realms, the music rang.

And ancient hatreds responded. There would be no peace, no healing, and no hope if they could prevent it. Creation was flawed beyond redemption, the sins of Gods, Mortals, and Exalted could not be forgiven. No kindly power could be permitted to interfere with Creations inevitable – if long-drawn – end!

Still, even as ancient enemies flooded into Yu-Shan, and the Neverborn Kaiju lumbered forward as reinforcements diverted the attention of their opponents… powerful voices joined the song – echoing from the central Manse of Project Stamewald, from Seven Whispering Winds, from the Embassy to the Dead, beneath which Zanjaras slept, from the Sorrowhands themselves, and from his School (of all places) in Yu-Shan alone. Stanewald and School were supporting Charles directly. The others, on the other hand…

  • The Embassy of the Dead was attempting to allow ghosts to manifest during the daytime, with increased cost to Arcanoi and no use of hostile effects.
  • Seven Whispering Winds was attempting to increase the level of Wyld energies throughout all regions of Creation by one level for purposes of counting as the Wyld, making the bare minimum a tainted land.
  • The Sorrowhands were attempting to boost the original geomancy on the City Level to 75%,, and were being supported by the other seventy-eight extant Tenders. (Why would they want THAT? They were getting their own level at 100% anyway!)
  • And across the many worlds the music reached… many minor voices were attempting their own geomantic manipulations.

Charles sighed… he really should have known better than to even hope for unity. Still… he had spent a LOT of time setting this up and accumulating ways to boost his control.

Charles had, in fact, managed to lower his target number to two, had – between boosted skill, boosted attributes, excellencies, and other boosts, managed to stack up nearly sixty dice on his Occult check, and was throwing in twenty-two more from Compassion. It came out to 82 successes (considered “perfect”), with the +10 boost to opposing difficulties for being in the lead. Perfect effects could influence things locally – but no one else within the Music’s reach had prepared for it nearly so thoroughly.

Even working together, the opposing groups couldn’t overpower him. It was enough for them to get some localized effects though, as the two melodies clashed! Charles focused on compensating for any variances from the plan that couldn’t be accommodated.

And the flow of geomantic power continued pouring out across the city as the Celestial Pear in front of Charles cracked open. Inside… was a young girl, no older than six, but massive enough that she had to crouch. She was wearing nothing but a simple robe and looked unremarkable at first… Until you realized that she was made of cloth of a massively high – almost immeasurable – thread count. The Essence signature matched Yu- Shan’s of course – which might be most unfortunate, as Grievous Shadow had merely been briefly stunned, but was once more advancing!

The giant girl turned that way, with a disgusted expression.

Charles unleashed the first of his major reserves, as three rings of the twenty-four symbols of Thaumaturgy began to orbit him, intersecting, releasing spells as the runes crossed, a total of three hundred and sixty Celestial to Solar Circle spells poured fourth each turn – focusing on warding and protecting the city, rescuing those entrapped, and healing the injured.

Basically Charles was running Aden at three times the normal timerate and letting the twenty four (one of each) of his seventy-two Guardian manifestations assigned there start unleashing their magic through him – each using the bonus dice from the Geomantic Flux to multicast.

And the structure of reality itself shimmered and wavered before that much sorcerous essence. The radiating light shown through flesh and stone like glass – although the Light of Creation brought not the slightest dazzle or discomfort to any but the enemies of Creation.

Charles himself was focusing on guiding his healing effects to try and fix everything he could reach.

On Earth, before crowds, military observers, and various other groups… the Gate-Manses were manifesting, showing alien suns shining above new worlds, rich fields and forests, pristine seas and mountains, and glittering (if empty) cities in the distance. Busy quasi-canine entities were laying down railroad tracks, canals, and other transport connections, readying stockpiles of colonization supplies, and preparing to welcome new emigrants across trillions of light years.

And even as the gates opened… The Music of Creation granted health and (relative) youth to the people of the Earth. There would be far more shock and unrest than Charles had anticipated!

Within Yu-Shan, the Kaiju battle raged on outside the Carnival of Meeting, as Titans forged of Wyld and Neverborn energies clashed with claw, breath, and still more esoteric abilities. Smaller Kaiju were attempting to attack Charles’s warded sites, but the outpouring magic of the Sorcerers Shere was holding most of them back.

Toho was indeed getting VERY impressive footage – but reports, messages, and complaints were flooding even Charles’s multitasking in his Synergistic Overmind! Still… the geomantic split WAS progressing mostly as planned. But… the mere presence of the Neverborn Kaiju was warping things, especially that of the snakelike thing that was still burrowing it’s way through the adamant. A gate of obsidian and soulsteel was forming alongside the others.

With more than a few Third Circle demons present, including those of Oramus, a gate of ochre adamant was also forming.

Bother! The Neverborn aspect was forming! That would never do!

Charles deployed the extra control artifacts to try and block that, and let the Sorrowhands and Tenders know about it! They might be willing to give up to prevent THAT.

Ochre… a Yozi aspect? Presumably to a “what if” Yu-Shan was banished with the rest of the Yozi’s instead of being taken over” aspect?

(Arelis Sorrowhands) “Gah! We can’t have that… But I’m not willing to leave the Weavers in their current state.” (Consulting) “We’ll give in for ten Weavers, two of each caste, already motophagic preferred.”

(Charles) “I can try to persuade them, but I can’t force them! But a fair number have already joined up haven’t they? And shouldn’t they be fine on the pure Yu-Shan level?”

Charles asked Yu-Shan – since she was manifested and awake – to help out with the Sorrowhands! After all, now that she was awake he had the plans and could explain instantly – even if, at this point, major adjustments were going to be HARD.

(Arelis Sorrowhands) “We’ll need to expose them to areas of at least 75 percent purity to awaken their full potential… Which this level will not have. Please, Charles… They were meant as our aides. And at least half were fine with that!”

(Charles) “Well, that should work! You’d just need to overlay the 100% pure level with compatible levels, or even just temporarily isolate them to that one to trigger things!

(Yu-Shan, yawning) “Dolly, now isn’t the time! Let Charles work. We still need to find Ayuji!”

And the Ochre gate… did indeed seem to be shaping up into a Yozi aspect. That didn’t even make SENSE in this universe! Oramus was forcing an impossible identity between alternate universes there!

Charles checked with Nox on that one! Otherwise they might have two universe’s versions of Yu-Shan converging into one, which could do some really strange things!

(Nox) “Eh, Oramus does that, kid. Just be glad only Feng got out-or that you’re not in a universe where Xiang was the deva Yu-Shan gambled away. Three words: doors to everywhere. Now THAT’S a pain.”

(Charles) “Er… Yu-Shan? Do you WANT to amalgamated with a Yozi version of yourself! That might well limit you somewhat!”

(Yu-Shan) “yucky! Bad Feng! Toss you time!”

Well… that was at least DISTRACTING Feng! Charles let the Calibration Gate slam THAT particular door; defining what WAS and what WAS NOT Yu-Shan was a part of his function, so he ought to be able to!

Dumenza and the other gates had started flying around soon after he’d started, although they hadn’t taken humanoid form until now. He was marshaling all the gates – his remaining subselves – for this one!

Charles provided more backup – but even where that was POSSIBLE, even he only had so much backup to deploy!

That left the Pinnacle of the Sky Dome and the Lattice of Vapors to take on the Neverborn Kaiju reinforcements! Additionally, with the Yozi energies present, the gate linked to the biogenesis laboratory was humming most ominously…

Fortunately, the combative Third Circles – including Kochige, Daimyo of Absorption – had moved to assist their uncorrupted colleagues. Still, even Charles’s geomatic reserves could not support this load for much longer – and despite his best efforts, the empty quarters were taking a lot of damage!

And more reports were coming in, some from the Loom… which was unfurling. It’s myriad dimensional folds… were falling into three-dimensional space.

Charles asked I AM to pick up as much of the processing load as possibly – asking the students at the Citadel of Enlightenment to authorize the use of their accounts to acquire the rights to even more processing power, even if that WOULD reveal to them that they had accounts!

Along the way, he checked the sympathetic looms to see what was going on. It looked like… it was unraveling to a central point in the Loom Chamber. The pattern spiders were giving chase. Unfortunately, given that causality was only a suggestion in there, he would need all the processing power he could get to find out where… Still, from the sympathetic looms, it seemed that Ayuji, and Nox with her, were becoming free! With one problem… the sympathetic looms were showing abnormally high readings of Neverborn energies within the Loom.

Charles sent requests to the Sidereals and the available Lunars too. Creation would need to do most of it’s own causality-computing if Ayuji unbound from it… fortunately, that WAS one of the predicted possibilities. MORE Neverborn energies? That had to be an OLD Deathlord… almost certainly the Arbiter of Games End! After all, success here would permanently ruin most of his plans! But… he was down to his final reserves (well, not counting things like the Kickaha kids) – his third set of Deva-aspects…

He sent his Devas for Compulsion, Countermagic, Linking, Divination, Fortune, and Shadow-Weaving to try to keep the Neverborn energies away from Ayuji and support her. Compulsion to handle secondary forces, Countermagic to neutralize things, Linking to let I Am help more, Divination to locate subtle attacks (the Arbiter WAS a tricky one!), Fortune could works with Destiny and Ayuji’s powers to relive the strain on her, and Shadow-weaving to misdirect attacks to non-existent targets.Hopefully Nox would help with that; with a touch of his power redirecting attacks to empty universes should work just fine!

Chasing the threads on the Loom worked for a time, but they were all converging on a single spot in a dark, remote region of the Loom Chamber. There, they disappeared into nowhere – and his Deva’s followed them. Blast it! Even the immortality HE bestowed wasn’t PERFECT! They ought to have SOME caution!

Weirdly, there was no sign of Neverborn, Deathlords, or even undead in the Loom Chamber… But Malinda was detecting the use of Void Circle Necromancy targeting the Loom and was peering into the threads.

Huh… Reaching through the remnants of Oblivion were they? Well… he knew just where the Arbiters planet was within a very small margin, and it was easy enough to locate. It was also where the necromancy was coming from, much of it cast quite recently.

He had the Djinn set up a one-way manse gate there as a firing port for the Spear of Aden. No doubt the Arbiter would fall back before even an orbital bombardment could exhaust his magical and defensive reserves – but with any luck he could chase him away from his materials, workspace, and casting… Not that he liked shooting at people, but the Arbiter WAS trying to destroy the universe – and releasing the ghosts in his service into Lethe would be doing them a definite favor!

Charles hadn’t thought about the fact that the combination of the bombardment and the Music of Creation leaking through the gate would send pretty much ALL the ghosts to Lethe – but that was all to the good!

Well, not the bit that would let the Arbiter defend longer – but you couldn’t have EVERYTHING.

The bombardment did, indeed, devastate the place, but there was no sign of the Deathlord himself, or his three ring-bound gods leaving. On the other hand, the wan, pale ghosts were now on to their next incarnations!

And Malinda had discovered something that had her startled, as she examined the Loom…

(Malinda) “Dearie, this spot… It leads to another universe!”

Well, that was a convenient point for Nox to interrupt the assault… and interrupt it he did!

(Nox) “Hey, kid, me and the pattern spiders could use a little support in here! The fleet’s taking heavy damage!”

Charles sent them another six Devas… Botheration! This was VERY rapidly reaching the “out of resources” point! Darn it! He’d been hoping that he was playing in God Mode!

The trouble with the Kaiju assault was that they’re all indestructible barring geomantic sabotage – and for the ones at full power that would only work from the inside. At least for the minor ones though… their geomancy was basically the geomancy of wounds in the cosmos; healing spells might mess them up enough to make them retreat – so Charles tried that!

That confused them and messed them up, and FINALLY drove off the snake assault! Quite a few fell back – but Grievous Shadow was built from truly hard stuff even without the souls of the damned powering him! He had reached the pavilion and was trying to tear the roof off!

Ligier was most displeased – and advanced alongside Zanjaras to distract and maybe figure out a way to immobilize the thing. The friendly Kaiju, including MechaGodzilla, Mothra, and Mothra Leo, were moving to defend as well. Despite the clashing, yelling, and combustion going on outside, and despite being an Exalt… Charles was not directly participating and had more important things to do!

(Charles sighing) “Hrm… And what is it you need? I can’t promise to give it to you, but it’s worth asking!”

(Grievous Shadow) “Your death and that of Yu-Shan!”

(Ligier) “How banal. Couldn’t you be more imaginative with your threats?”

(Zanjaras) “I suppose it was made for one purpose.”

(Charles) “Oh. Well, that one is EASY! There are lots of places like that!”

It was his last resort… Hit it with a manse! He opened up a manse gate to send it to a universe that had dissolved back into the deep wyld and slam the door closed behind it!

Unfortunately it was resisting – until Sol Invictus took a moment from his Sumi-e painting contest with Saturn to combine his power with Ligier’s to send the monstrosity plummeting into a devastated dimension.

That should hold it for a while! Now Charles only had to contend with the remaining forces assaulting Ayuji and any consequences of this – for Nox had been rather sadistically diverting many of the underworld attackers to shards with a perfectly functioning Lethe!

Charles tried to save at least one sextet of Deva’s in reserve for any final emergency – and did some reconstruction spells – but sent another six to reinforce Ayuji. That turned out to be a wise choice, as the Arbiter of Games End and his flagship had made their appearance, advancing on Ayuji and Nox’s location! The pattern spiders were marshaling their fleet alongside his Devas to stop him!

Drat it! Last reserves it was! At least he didn’t have that much longer to go on this…

Unfortunately, the Arbiter was getting close to the monolith where Autochthon and Yu-Shan had stowed Ayuji so long ago! Perhaps ten minutes before the Arbiter’s ship got into teleport range!

And at least an hour to go on the Music of Creation to nail down the details of Yu-Shan’s alternate layers. And his reserves were tapped out! Still, it was only one Deathlord at the moment… They were pretty nasty, but he was already up against eight devas and support.

And… he’d brought his own allies? Aaargh!

Charles reviewed frantically… He didn’t HAVE any more reserves except Kickaha kids and other non-combatants!

Wait.

He had Galileo ask the Solars and other Exalts at the Citadel of Enlightenment if they wanted to help stop a Deathlord who was attacking Yu-Shan and Creation!

They didn’t say “No” – and the Solar and Lunar who’d been trying to make Solar Bond mutual stepped up to the plate, backed by a contingent of the Gold Faction teachers. And they did have all the defenses and benefits that Charles had been handing around, which was good! They would need them badly as they assaulted the Arbiter and his allies!

They proved unable to take down the Arbiter and his allies – but they managed to sabotage his ship and force a retreat.

Even the Sorcerer’s Sphere was running down; having spent the equivalent of fifty kilomotes or so – drawn from several hundred Manses designed for sorcerous support – in the course of the operation…

Still, the Devas who had been were assisting Ayuji and Nox were now free (if low on motes), as the ancient monolith opened up and the pattern spiders danced in intricate patterns of celebration (well… maybe. They weren’t the most expressive creatures).There were once again reserves!

Even if they were on the verge of collapse.

Still… the heavily-outnumbered Neverborn Kaiju were being driven off (Details of Aikiko’s efforts will appear in a later log) – and some of the noncombatant reserves like those young Kickaha were moving in to serve as search-and-rescue, disaster relief, and emergency medical teams. There was a fair amount of call for it; more than a few free Celestial mortals lived in areas affected by the fighting and hadn’t cleared out in advance… not that Charles’s agents had been able to be clear about explaining why they should.

Darn it! He had been hoping to keep injuries down to an absolute minimum… There was guilt!

Not exactly overwhelming, but guilt anyway.

A little later Charles – clearly tired – finally let the music fade away – and there was much applause!

Checking the results… Well, even though the Sorrowhands backed down, there were some patches where both the Wyld and the underworld were a bit stronger. On the other hand, Yu-Shan hadn’t wound up linked to any unintended alternate versions of herself, and all of his planned layers were functional.. That was actually pretty good! He’d have to see how the outside universe had been affected later…

The entire city was somewhat in shock – which was only to be expected of course! Gaia had dissipated back into her usual self and had collapsed next to Yu-Shan. Luna had curled up next to her in cat form and was showing elaborate unconcern as only a kitty could…

Charles made sure that they had the equivalent of a blanket and some pillows and were not disturbed…

Hm… The Sun had lost his contest with Saturn,al though nothing had happened to him or to the universe. He had just completed his Sumi-e painting when an errant energy blast destroyed it. While the Incarnae’s reign over Heaven was probably finished in its prior form, they’d never done much anyway – so they might wind up even more in charge, at least of the city level.

In any case, the Most High didn’t seem put out by it.

The performers withdrew to Aden, as the Third Circles collected their snacks and carnival souvenirs and went home as the carnival closed down for the first time since… EVER. There were still two days of Calibration left, but after what had just happened, everyone was in shock!

Charles frowned! Aw! He’d become a party pooper!

As the crowd left, and the Incarnae retreated to the Jade Pleasure Dome with the exhausted Primoridals in tow, Saturn glanced back at Charles. She and her sisters felt… more complete and more concrete to him. It was nothing even HE could put his finger on… Just a weird gut feeling.

Well… this would be a major step towards their one universe of origin; this just pruned a LOT of major branches.

And Charles went to go rest. It would take weeks for his resources to rebuild to normal levels… And no doubt he’d have to field endless frantic phone calls.

That would turn out to include calls from countries that he knew existed, but had never really studied… And that was just the mundane ones. He hadn’t even THOUGHT about THOSE calls! It was very awkward! He would have thought that the advertising campaign – and the advisors and supply-depot operators – would have answered things! (They had, but it was just SO hard to believe!).

He delegated some telephone operators for repeated questions and such. That way even a lot of the noncombatants would get to participate.

And there were people wanting exclusive rights to a gate too. Charles wasn’t normally big on that – but if avoiding conflicts made it a lot more palatable.

In a little while there would be people fighting over them. Aargh! They were supposed to be for EVERYBODY!

(Siranaya) “Charles, what happened? You and Elzeard look pooped!”

(Charles) “Ah, I take it that you weren’t watching? Well, it was a major repair operation in Yu-Shan, and it took up a LOT of power and resources”.

(Siranaya) “no, I was too busy gardening for once! It’s cool not to kill plants when I touch them!”

(Charles) “Well I’m glad that’s working for you! And there was rather a lot of fuss in Yu-Shan; there were some attacks, and the carnival had some high-powered visitors this year!”

(Siranaya) “Oh no! I hope you were okay!”

(Charles) “I did all right, but it was very tiring!”

(Siranaya) “Did you win any prizes?”

(Charles) “Er… “Most Energetic Spellcaster”, “Most Dramatic Performance”, and the “Symphonic Music” award! As well as first place in audience participation!

Well, it HAD been a very lovely piece that would be remembered for centuries.

(Siranaya) “Cool!”

(Charles) “It was kind of neat! A lot of work though! I did promise to take a little time off afterwards!”

(Siranaya) “Let’s spend it together!”

(Charles) “Why not?”

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CCV – A Forest Interlude

Because some weeks you just don’t have time for anything major.

Charles had made it known to his schoolmates and the mortals he’d invited to Aden so that they wouldn’t be endangered during calibration that he would be doing something quite important, and that he shouldn’t be disturbed except for serious emergencies – but not EVERYONE had gotten the message.

Especially not a few young women who’d already taken advantage of the fuss leading up to Calibration to slip into Aden. After all… Charles was endlessly kind and friendly, incredibly wealthy and willing to support hangers-on, was more handsome and appealing than most major gods, would get them away from their (rather weird) divine parents – and he understood humans just fine while still being rather naive… It would be hard to find more desirable qualities in one entity than THAT!

As it happened, Siranaya had been looking a little harder than most. Charles showed the quality that she valued above any other in a potential boyfriend – being completely unaffected by her uncontrollable poisonous touch. That meant that she could FINALLY get hugged, and cuddled, and have a little fun experimenting with pollination…

The palace (with all the guest rooms) and Charles’s major residence had been disappointingly crowded – but a few careful comparisons had revealed that Charles… was routinely in several places at once. That was a very good trick! And it also meant that he was also likely to be found in some considerably quieter and more… private… places!

She’d set off to find one.

Charles did have a semi-private retreat deep in one of the wilderness areas. The Kickaha liked to meet him in a less formal place – and he liked to mess around with small projects there. It wasn’t hard to find if you asked the Kickaha, but was pretty well concealed otherwise. There were trees growing a wide variety of fruits, herbs, and medicines (all on the same tree of course), small tree cottages, a few friendly Kickaha hanging about, some ice-caves, and lantern-birds (friendly birds that liked to follow people around. They had luminescent flesh and brightly-colored feathers in various artistic patterns. When it was dark they glowed like mobile stained-glass lanterns and sang like gentle flutes…

And everything was immune to poison, because it WAS Aden.

Siranaya had found her way there easily enough; the Kickaha saw no reason not to lead another girl with rather… transparent… intentions to Charles’s bed. A little sex was an excellent way to deal with stress! Charles had MORE than enough stress at the moment! Maybe they should lead girls to several more of his avatars? Even if THIS one was somewhat diverted by the opportunity to pet things without gloves and protective gear…

The birds glowed happily at her, and eagerly pecked up grains and seeds.

Although Siranaya waved at Charles quite happily when he turned up.

Charles, who had been trying to give squirrels matched to the trees advanced instinctive medical skills so that they could hand out the right medicines to passers-by, happily waved back! This avatar might be running on a background process in his Synergistic Overmind, but that was no reason to be RUDE!

(Charles) “Hello Siranaya! I didn’t know that you were coming to visit!”

(Siranaya) “You’ve been really busy lately, so I thought I’d find an avatar or something here.”

Charles was somewhat impressed! Most people didn’t yet know that he was using multiple avatars! She’d been paying attention or doing some investigating on her own!

(Charles) “Well, things are pretty busy – but there’s a little time until they need my full attention yet!”

(Siranaya) “Phew. That’s good… um, is everything OK? You haven’t sent one to school lately.”

(Charles) “Oh… well, there’s a big and urgent project underway, so I took some time off. The teachers didn’t worry much; I’m way ahead on pretty much everything anyway.”

(Siranaya) “OK! I was just worried about you, not that I think you’d get sick.”

(Charles) “Well, thank you! It is all right, but it’s always nice to have someone check!”

(Siranaya) “Um… (Hm… Charles must REALLY be busy! He seemed even stiffer than usual!) hey, I’m starving! Whey don’t we get something to eat!”

(Charles) “Good idea! Lunch? I’ve got all kinds of fruits and nuts and things here! The trees are turning out really well!”

(Siranaya) “Yeah, I saw! And they don’t bubble and rot when I touch them, so I can pick some for you, too!”

(Charles) “Well, toxins don’t really work around here – but they generally aren’t needed here anyway!”

(Siranaya, smiling) “Let’s see…”

She made sure to hold Charles’s hand while the two of them picked some lunch – and while Charles had no objections he now had enough experience to guess on where this might be going. He cheerily carried her selections, quietly leaving her more or less in charge of what to pick. He knew what the male role in “shopping” was! All the guides he was referencing said so!

It turned out to be a diverse selection of nuts, fruits, and some of the earthier vegetables – which made quite a good lunch, with nothing much to clean up afterwards. A VERY tiny bit of magic was quite enough to handle THAT.

Siranaya didn’t try to feed him any of the food – she didn’t want to chance being TOO forward – but she did sit fairly close to him. Charles… had engaged analysis mode! He offered HER some nibbles (even if they did tend to come with all kinds of details on them) and occasionally made small contacts to help judge her behaviors…

She was very receptive to contact – almost desperate for it, although she was trying to hide that. Pretty obviously touch-starved… That was rather cruel!

He “mistakenly” sat down in contact after getting up a bit to reach a fruit on the far side of the table for her.

(Siranaya) “Oh! Oops. Ha ha!” (She put both arms around him!) “I’ve got you now… It’s not often I get to hold onto people without gloves! Let’s see how soft you are!”

(Charles, cuddling back since she was obviously desperate for it) “Well so you do! I’m no leprechaun, but did you have a wish?”

(Siranaya) “Stay the week? Something big is happening, and Mom was probably going to send me here anyway. Is that OK?”

(Charles) “Oh certainly! I was inviting lots of people to stay during the event anyway…”

She did seem to be looking for the straight line. Evidently she thought that he was pretty naive – and it had been a while since he’d been at school. Well, why not?

(Charles) “There’s only one bed in this cottage though! Would you prefer to be alone?”

(Siranaya, with a wink) “Oh no! You can stay here too, right?”

Well THAT was fairly direct. And… her clothing was… ambrosial and a bit more revealing than usual, although not totally immodest.

And she HAD just invited him to share the bed with her.

Oh well! It WAS a pleasant diversion and relaxation! Charles offered an arm, pulled the curtains to show her the bed – and let matters proceed. Reading all the signals was a good deal more complicated than finding a couple of naked girls in his bed offering themselves (that had been really simple!) – but it was fun, and the fact that she blatantly knew exactly what she’d come for, and was only steering him through the motions of her “seduction”, was quite helpful. She’d even made sure to bring (and use) a contraceptive talisman…

And there was plenty of cuddling for several days.

Siranaya’s mother was only very mildly annoyed; her daughter could have TOLD her that she was running off with a schoolmate! She’d been trying to arrange a marriage among the medical and biohazard gods, given that Siranaya’s poisonous touch made her an awkward bride for anyone else! The fact that Charles was more than willing to send her lots of presents, and to make sure that her flowers were widely distributed and protected, on top of the fact that it would be hard to find her daughter a more powerful or obliging husband even WITHOUT her condition – was quite sufficient.

Champions – Planetman and Starman

Starman” and “Planetman” date back quite a while (to Champions II in fact) – and are exactly as labeled; They’re a star and a planet built as Hero System characters, using some really cheesy limitations to keep the point totals down to something reasonable. On the other hand, most of those points go into making these characters literal, permanent, astronomical objects the size of the earth and the sun, the star radiating vast amounts of energy and the planet hosting a biosphere – and, in both cases, being very hard to destroy.

Planetman is a standard earthlike world, with a breathable atmosphere, active plate tectonics, and various biological species, It possesses a modest power pool which can be used to add new species to the environment, deflect small meteorites, transfer specimens of endangered species to new habitats, grant visions, and otherwise gently meddle (a planet has to have a hobby, right?). It can also create four low-powered (but still more than human) thematic avatars to intervene on various situations. Adding or subtracting a few points from the Growth ability will easily create anything up to superjovian worlds or down to small – and for some reason habitable – asteroids. Still, Planetman is usually mostly content to drift along in orbit contemplating it’s various lifeforms and occasionally saying “Hi!” to other astronomical objects via telepathy.

Starman is a very similar build, but focuses on radiating immense amounts of energy; minor adjustments to the Stellar Fire power will cover everything from brown dwarves on up through red giants (most stars spend some of their experience points on getting ever-brighter; it just seems to be something they do). Going nova or supernova is a little more complicated however, but since it generally signifies the death of a star, details on the build really don’t matter much. Similar tweaks to the Growth ability will cover a wide range of stellar masses. Just like Planetman, Starman can manifest four “superheroic” avatars of intermediate power levels to use to make contact with the inhabitants of any planets it happens to be providing heat and light for. Like planets, stars are generally quite content to float along quietly, contemplating the wonders of fusing atoms together, for a few eons – but a few do take it into their core to meddle once in a while.

Conscious stars and planets are currently something of a rarity, but will become more prevalent billions of years in the future since they are capable of maintaining themselves for considerably longer periods than simple astronomical objects can. While proper maintenance by the Arith Vaya and Celestial Dragons can greatly extend the lifespans of non-sapient planets and stars as well, there are never enough of either to do ALL the maintenance that the universe could use.

 

Planetman

Value Characteristic Points
10/390 STR 0
5 DEX -15
25 CON 30
1/77 BODY -18
18 INT 8
20 EGO 20
25 PRE 15
10 COM 0
2 PD 0
5 ED 0
2 SPD 5
7 REC 0
50 END 0
4/80 STUN -15
Total 30

 

Points Powers END
45 Geosphere. Growth-76 (×72057594037927936000000 mass, ×42275935.1 height); Mass: 5,908,722,711,110,090,800,000,000 kg/12,999,189,964,442,200,000,000,000 lbs; Height: -33,686,893 cm/-13,262,556.30″; Extra STR: 380; Knockback Reduction: -76; Extra BODY: 76; Extra STUN: 76; DCV Penalty: -51; PER Penalty: +51; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Always On: -½; Generic Limitation (Only in deep space): -2; Generic Limitation (Has massive gravatic side effects): -2; Extra Time: 1 season, -5; Extra Time Required: Only At Startup, ½; Generic Limitation (User becomes almost perfectly spherical, with no major limbs): -2; Independent (Earth and stone can be taken away): -2; OIF (Geology): -½; Visible (Grotesquely so): -¼ 0
5 Elemental Control: Planetary Powers (22-pt reserve); Generic Limitation (Only in deep space): -2; OIF (Geology): -½; Linked (To Geosphere): -½; Always On: -½; Visible (Absurdly so): -¼
a-8 Atmosphere
(1) Doesn’t Eat, Excrete or Sleep
(1) Immune to Aging
(1) Immune to Disease
(13) Combined Powers Slot; Area Effect (Radius): 4000″ radius, +1; Increased Area: ×4000, +3; Generic Limitation (Effect fades slowly with altitude): -½; Side Effects (Weather): 60/All, -1; Generic Limitation (Immunities are subject to upper limits): -¼; Always On: -½
(7) Need Not Breathe; Area Effect (Radius): 4000″ radius, +1; Increased Area: ×4000, +3; Generic Limitation (Effect fades slowly with altitude): -½; Side Effects (Weather): 60/All, -1; Generic Limitation (Immunities are subject to upper limits): -¼; Always On: -½
(2) Life Support: Intense Heat/Cold; Area Effect (Radius): 1″ radius, +1; Increased Area: ×4000, +3; Generic Limitation (Effect fades slowly with altitude): -½; Side Effects (Weather): 60/All, -1; Generic Limitation (Immunities are subject to upper limits): -¼; Always On: -½
(2) Life Support: High Radiation; Area Effect (Radius): 1″ radius, +1; Increased Area: ×4000, +3; Generic Limitation (Effect fades slowly with altitude): -½; Side Effects (Weather): 60/All, -1; Generic Limitation (Immunities are subject to upper limits): -¼; Always On: -½
(2) Life Support: High Pressure/Vacuum; Area Effect (Radius): 1″ radius, +1; Increased Area: ×4000, +3; Generic Limitation (Effect fades slowly with altitude): -½; Side Effects (Weather): 60/All, -1; Generic Limitation (Immunities are subject to upper limits): -¼; Always On: -½
b-27 Rocky Exterior / Armor (40 PD/40 ED); Hardened: ×1, ¼
c-5 Really, Really, Large / Power Defense (35 pts); Hardened: ×1, ¼
d-11 Thinking Big / Mental Defense (64 pts); Add to Total; Hardened: ×1, ¼
e-5 Eyes Everywhere / Flash Defense (Sight, 35 pts); Hardened: ×1, ¼
f-21 Looking at the Neighbors / Telescopic “Vision” (Sight, +80 to PER)
g-8 A Really Big Guy / Damage Reduction (Physical, 75% Resistant)
h-8 A Really Big Guy / Damage Reduction (Energy, 75% Resistant)
i-5 Watching The Universe / 360-Degree Sensing (All); Transdimensional (All “nearby” dimensions): Group of Dimensions, +¾
j-12 8d6 Strength of the Earth / Aid Endurance (Fade/turn, Max. 48); Range: 0; Affects: Single Power, +0; Charges: 250, +1 0
k-46 Create Avatars / Duplication (4 250-point forms); Extra Time: 1 season, -5; Extra Time Required: Only At Startup, ½; Generic Limitation (All forms must be related to some sort of theme): -½; Champions Advantage (“Duplicates” are independently constructed. (The rules are messed up enough that I don’t know if this is required, but just in case).): +½.

Possible avatar “themes” include the “four elements” (Arising from appropriate areas), aspects of nature (EG – Beneficent/Wild/Mysterious/Oceanic or Mother Nature/ Curennos/Moon Goddess/Poseidon), entities that “embody” the four seasons, Warrior/Healer/Mystic/Crafter, and so on. While avatars may be entirely independent creations of the planet, some worlds opt to manifest this ability by “bestowing” the avatar’s power on local lifeforms…

82 Variable Cosmic Power Pool (60-pt Pool); Control Cost: 30; No Skill Required for Change: +1; Change Powers as 0 Phase Action: +1; Generic Limitation (Only in deep space): -2; OIF (Geology): -½; Linked (To Geosphere): -½
3 Mental Awareness
291 Total Powers  

 

Points Skills, Talents, Perks Roll
2 Knowledge: Biosphere 11-
2 Knowledge; Astronomy 11-
4 Total Skills, Talents, Perks  

 

125+ Disadvantages
15 Distinctive Features (Continents); Concealability: Not Concealable, 15; Reaction: Noticed and Recognizable, +0
10 Accidental Change (Major climactic and ecological shifts, per epoch) (11-)
20 Dependent NPC: Assorted Species (Normal, 14-); Skills: Normal, +0
20 Dependent NPC: Assorted Species (Normal, 14-); Skills: Normal, +0
10 Dependent NPC: Assorted Species (Normal, 8-); Skills: Normal, +0
20 Hunted: Minions of the Elder Ones (8-); Capabilities: More Powerful, 15; Non-combat Influence: Extensive, +5; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Actions: Hunting, ×1; Punishment: Harsh, 0
10 Watched: Assorted galactic empires, would-be colonizers, and other aliens (8-); Capabilities: More Powerful, 15; Non-combat Influence: Extensive, +5; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Only Watching: ×½; Punishment: Harsh, 0
20 Gigantic Ball of Rock and Metal (All the Time, Greatly)
15 Plate Tectonics (All the Time, Slightly)
15 No Fine Manipulations (All the Time, Slightly)
20 Does not usually deal with mortals directly (Very Common, Strong)
15 Dislikes Pollution (Very Common, Moderate)
10 Public Identity
200 Total Disadvantages

 

COSTS: Char. Powers Total Total Disadv. Base
30 + 295 = 325 325 = 200 + 125

 

OCV DCV ECV Mental Def. PD/rPD ED/rED Phases
2 2 / 0 7 64 42/40 45/40 6, 12

Height: 50/2113796755cm (1’8″/69350287’3″), Weight: 82/0kg (180 lbs/0.00 lbs), Age: 4½, Race: Planet

 

Starman

Value Characteristic Points
10/480 STR 0
5 DEX -15
30 CON 40
1/95 BODY -18
18 INT 8
20 EGO 20
30 PRE 20
10 COM 0
2 PD 0
6 ED 0
2 SPD 5
8 REC 0
60 END 0
6/100 STUN -15
Total 45

 

Points Powers END
80 5d6 Stellar Fire / Killing Attack (RKA); Range: 4595; Damage Shield: +½; No Normal Defense (That does Body. Versus Radiation/Heat/Vacuum and Breathing Life Support, great thicknesses of ice and rock, or not being stupid enough to dive into a star.): +2; Always On: -½; Extra Time Required: Only At Startup, ½; Extra Time: 1 season, -5; Generic Limitation (Prohibits the use of any equipment): -1½; Generic Limitation (Only in deep space): -2; Generic Limitation (Quasi-Explosive; the damage falls off according to the square-cube law (and gets worse “inside”)): -2; Generic Limitation (Eventually burns out and kills the “user”.): -1; Generic Limitation (Incredibly Visible; Detectable without a roll at ranges of thousands of light years.): -1; Area Effect (Radius): 8192000000″ radius, +1; Increased Area: ×256000000, +7; Personal Immunity: +¼; Reduced END: Zero, +½ 0
3 Elemental Control / Stellar Powers (22-pt reserve); Generic Limitation (Only in deep space): -2; Linked (With Stellar Fire): -½; Generic Limitation (Huge gravitational side effects): -2; Generic Limitation (User becomes almost perfectly spherical, with no major limbs): -2
a-62 Growth-94 (×18889465931478581000000000000 mass, ×2705659852.4000001 height); Mass: 1,548,936,206,381,243,600,000,000,000,000 kg/3,407,659,654,038,736,000,000,000,000,000 lbs; Height: 0 cm/0″; Extra STR: 470; Knockback Reduction: -94; Extra BODY: 94; Extra STUN: 94; DCV Penalty: -63; PER Penalty: +63; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Extra Time: 1 season, -5; Extra Time Required: Only At Startup, ½; OAF (Vast amounts of hot gas): -1; Generic Limitation (Only in deep space): -2; Linked (With Stellar Fire): -½ 0
b-22 Photosphere / Armor (50 PD/50 ED); Hardened: ×1, ¼
c-3 Eternal Fires / Power Defense (35 pts); Hardened: ×1, ¼
d-7 Cosmic Sentience / Mental Defense (64 pts); Add to Total; Hardened: ×1
e-3 Sunspot Eyes / Flash Defense (Sight, 35 pts); Hardened: ×1, ¼
f-13 Envisioning The Cosmic All / Telescopic “Vision” (Sight, +80 to PER)
g-5 I Laugh At Your Puny Comets / Damage Reduction (Physical, 75% Resistant)
h-5 Nearby Nova? Is That All? / Damage Reduction (Energy, 75% Resistant)
i-3 Watching The Universe / 360-Degree Sensing (All); Transdimensional (All “nearby” dimensions): Group of Dimensions, +¾
j-10 10d6 Fusion Flash / Aid Endurance (Fade/turn, Max. 60); Range: 0; Affects: Single Power, +0; Charges: 250, +1 0
k-9 The Main Sequence / Regeneration, Broad-Spectrum (1 BODY/Turn); Regenerate: From Death, +20; Champions Advantage (Affects all damaged attributes and abilities): +2
l-3 I Am An Environment / Life Support (total); Difficult to Dispel: ×4, +½
m-41 Create Avatars / Duplication (4 300-point forms); Extra Time: 1 season, -5; Extra Time Required: Only At Startup, ½; Generic Limitation (All forms must be related to some sort of theme): -½; Champions Advantage (“Duplicates” are independently constructed. (The rules are messed up enough that I don’t know if this is required, but just in case).): +½

Possible avatar “themes” include astronomical objects, four states of matter, types of energy, and so on. While solar avatars are normally entirely independent creations of the star in question, some stars opt to manifest this ability by “bestowing” the avatar’s power on creatures that  (somehow!) draw their notice.

82 Variable Cosmic Power Pool (60-pt Pool); Control Cost: 30; No Skill Required for Change: +1; Change Powers as 0 Phase Action: +1; Generic Limitation (Only in deep space): -2; OIF (Corona): -½; Linked (To Stellar Fire): -½
3 Mental Awareness
5 Solar Flares / Extra Limbs (40); Number: 40
359 Total Powers  

 

Points Skills, Talents, Perks Roll
2 Knowledge: Astronomy 11-
2 Knowledge: Stellar Physics 11-
2 Knowledge: Galactic History 11-
6 Total Skills, Talents, Perks  

 

125+ Disadvantages
20 Distinctive Features: Star; Concealability: Not Concealable, 15; Reaction: Always noticed & major reaction, +5
20 Phys. Lim: Immense Superheated Ball of Plasma (All the Time, Greatly)
10 Phys. Lim: Does not understand chemically-based creatures very well. (Frequently, Slightly)
20 Psychological Limitation: Placid. Stars are normally quite content to just sit there and blaze away happily for a few eons. (Very Common, Strong)
20 Psychological Limitation: Feels responsible for providing heat and light for any planets that happen to be in the area. (Very Common, Strong)
5 Psychological Limitation: Likes the Celestial Dragons (Uncommon, Moderate)
5 Psychological Limitation: Dislikes the “Lords of Darkness”/”Great Old Ones”/”Elder Ones” (Uncommon, Moderate)
10 Public Identity
15 Reputation (14-)
10 Dependent NPC: Planets (Slightly Less Powerful, 11-); Skills: Normal, +0
135 Total Disadvantages

 

COSTS: Char. Powers Total Total Disadv. Base Exp.
45 + 365 = 410 410 = 135 + 125 + 150

 

OCV DCV ECV Mental Def. PD/rPD ED/rED Phases
2 2 / 0 7 64 52/50 56/50 6, 12

Weight: 82/1548936206381243600000000000000kg (180 lbs/3,407,659,654,038,736,000,000,000,000,000 lbs), Race: Star

Amusingly enough, Planetman and Starman are at least as playable as a lot of the actual player characters I’ve seen. They may be almost impossible to get rid of, but you can lose them by simply going inside, they’re very slow, and the actual powers that they can manifest are simply not that impressive – at least not once you realize that they can only exert their strength via an earthquake or some such.

The Chronicles Of Heavenly Artifice CCIV – Wine, Cheese, and Yozi’s

Hopefully, now that the holiday insanity is over with, I can get back to updating here regularly…

The last few days had been filled with endless checklists, as Charles made sure that everything was ready, that backups were ready, that all important points were protected, and that all the normal people – like his parents, and the cheetah-kid messengers, and the girls, and the refugees were all in secure shelters. Even in Aden… some of those disruptors might figure out how to sabotage his geomancy. Hopefully he’d surrounded all the important points and people in Aden and Yu-Shan with enough protection

Geomantic Sabotage could really be trouble! His current limits were pretty high – but he’d never really been in a all-out fight and couldn’t claim to be good at it even when he wasn’t massively distracted and committing a huge chunk of his power. He’d just have to hope that he had enough reserves and powers that he’d never displayed to counter the stuff that he’d never seen.

Which, when you came down to it, was all sorts of things. Still… there wasn’t much for it but to assume that the number of creatures who wanted to hold the universe together would outnumber the ones who wanted it to come apart, at least locally!

That had been one of the “hidden” criteria on which third circles to invite after all, even if the main purpose was to make it clear that help for the Yozi’s was also on the schedule!

And then… buds suddenly rose from the ground at six locations in Yu-Shan, including within the pavilion! They were… made of adamant, with orichalcum and white jade grooves, and matched the local Essence patterns of their environments perfectly. The adamant portions glowed faintly from within.

Oh dear. A manifestation of Yu-Shan?

(Charles) “Uhrm… Hi?”

The bud didn’t respond to verbal communication, so Charles checked with the Lions and the Tenders. This seemed like it would be in their field!

(Arelis Sorrowhands) “Ha! It would seem the young mistress is freeing herself! THAT is what it looks like when the Celestial Plain grows her lesser jouten. From the ornate pattern… she’s growing her Third Circle self there.”

(Charles) “Hrum! Well… I’ll check to see if I’ll have to recalibrate anything… and assign some guards to them”

It wasn’t that the pattern itself had changed, just the strength of the geomantic energy flowing through it. It was going to bump up uncomfortably against the suppressive geomancy – but that was already going to be revamped and separated… so Yu-Shan would manifest on the tender/overseer/original version level. That ought to work out OK!

The least ornate three were scattered at the outskirts of the central quarter. A slightly more ornate one had appeared at the center of the Calibration Gate’s plaza; you could draw lines between the other gates inside and they’d meet right where that bud was. Another like it had sprouted near where the control Manse for Project Stanewald was.

A major geomantic control center at the boundaries of the geomantic conflict? Charles hoped that she wasn’t going to try to tinker too much! She was certainly entitled to, but there were problems with patient participation in delicate surgery when the patient was half comatose! There was a reason why surgeons didn’t let the patient take the knife and help out just as they were recovering from anethesia…

Charles checked with Cangha. This could get very awkward!

(Cangha) “Hello again, Aden! What a spectacular time this is!”

(Charles) “Yes indeed! Things are about to go! But… I was wondering what Yu-Shan was up to; if she starts trying to take control before she’s fully awake, things might go very wrong!”

(Cangha) “The progenitor wishes to investigate all the layers you are creating within her world-self. To fulfill this desire, she has decided to deploy all her jouten at once. They had to be reabsorbed into her greater self before she fell asleep. Thus . . . she’s regrowing them. But have no fears! Her contact with human wishes and desires means she won’t deliberately harm them!… I can’t promise that for the Shapeless as much. She gets rough when she’s playing with them.”

(Charles) “Oh well! I was mostly wondering if she’d be wanting to start tweaking things while I was working… She’s certainly entitled, but I didn’t think that it would really be a good idea.”

(Cangha) “Err . . . that’s VERY likely. I wouldn’t try to dissuade her, either. Remember, she’s deigning to let you alter her body.”

(Charles, sighing) “I was kind of hoping to hold down the number of active participants… oh well! At least she’ll be working towards a coherent goal, rather than disruption!”

(Cangha) “It should be interesting. She’ll want to get to shaping as soon as she’s awake-and probably on multiple layers.”

(Charles) “Well, I hope that she’ll study it a bit first!”

(Cangha) “I can’t guarantee that!”

(Charles) “I wouldn’t have thought you could… but the suggestion might get through. I know she’s going to be pretty impatient to get to doing things, but thinking first is almost always a good idea!”

Cangha agreed to try – and that was all that Charles could ask.

Meanwhile, a lot of the kids from school wanted to watch the concert – although most of them were sensible enough to not want to come physically! Well… setting up a remote panoramic experience for them and the girls and anyone in Aden who wanted to watch was simple enough. It didn’t even take much of a speciality manse! He made sure that there were invitations and guides and gates to get them there – although he also made sure to let them know that he was going to be involved with a major project, and that unless there was some really major problem that could not be solved with local assistance and resources, they should PLEASE not disturb him for a bit.

Huh! Quite a few of them seemed much more interested in getting into Aden, watching him, exploring the place a bit, and otherwise fooling around, than in the event! Sure, Aden had a lot of fun things to do, but the concert was going to be a once-off event! Why would they want to see anything else before it was over?

Oh yeah. They didn’t really know that.

Come to think of it, neither did he! He might have to do it again some time at that!

The shouting match at the Pavilion actually turned out to have nothing much to do with him! It was just an argument over who got to sit closest to the Sun and Saturn’s contest. This year, it was sumi-e painting, and it was taking place… right next door! Right next to the central point of a powerful ritual, with a Primordial growing a jouten there too. And the contest would be taking place… right at the climax of the music unless he intentionally tried to evade Saturn’s request…

Well, that could get a little odd! Still, nothing had come up to stop it – and the final moments of calibration were a time when energy naturally settled into it’s new patterns for the year – a very good time to finish the working.

With his preparations finally complete, Charles spent the last few hours greeting guests. Some of the ones who usually had a hard time getting invitations were showing up a bit early to have a look around the carnival before the main event!

First up among the important ones… There was a young man arriving in the pavilion, with auburn hair and fine, flawless robes of emerald sampling the wines of heaven – and there was much confusion, frantic messaging, and general upset! Why was Ligier the Green Sun walking around in the Carnival of Meeting? Even that did not normally have Yozi guests! Why were the Incarnae not doing anything about this? Why wasn’t he sampling MY wines?

Charles made sure that Ligier had an escort to keep people from annoying him, and that he was provided with a selection of celestial wines and went to welcome him to the concert!

Ligier… seemed to find him rather amusing – and was looking at Yu-Shan’s Jotun-bud with some satisfaction!

Charles didn’t mind the oldest powers in the universe finding him amusing – and got the sense that he might do a little more, if he didn’t have so many celestial lions watching! He didn’t seem dismayed by them, though.

Of course, he did have twice their Essence, and could crush them very easily. Still, as Charles usually tried to arrange… things were currently moving in a direction to his benefit, so there was no reason to! Or so Charles hoped!.

Orabilis arrived looking around with some disapproval. He too spotted the bud – although his facial expression was far more ambiguous. Was that some minor talent of his? He WAS a keeper of secrets, and would almost certainly be protected against simple expressions revealing his own thoughts…

Charles made sure that he too was considerately hosted!

Orabilis deigned to speak with him, while Ligier watched with much bemusement.

(Orabilis, in a voice of rustling pages forming the words of a tongue long extinct) “Charles Dexter Ward… You are very wise for your age, but much is still hidden beyond barriers that you have yet to breach. In that ignorance, can you accomplish what you have dared to try? That tale… is not yet written.”

(Charles, after an instant to get a translation program running) “Hello Sir! While what I know is very little compared to the End of All Wisdom, He who Sets Stars Against the Night, I make do with what I have – and I am glad that you could come!”

(Orabilis) “It is rare to be invited into Creation in such a way, and rarer still for scholars to be pleased with my visitations… In truth, I would have come for you sooner were it not for your ever-more unusual status.”

For knowing too many secrets? Oh, that had to be frustrating for poor Orabilis! Using the Privacy Manse meant that not even Orabilis could know if HE knew forbidden knowledge, and even if he did, he didn’t know it all the time… Not to mention that he might be sort of outside his authority and awkward to try to deal with anyway!

(Charles) “Well, I will have some work to do in Malfeas fairly shortly… almost everybody there needs help!”

(Orabilis) “Ah? Now how so?”

And Ligier became a little more alert.

(Charles) “Well… quite a lot of functions and freedoms were lost during the war, and many of the feedback loops governing the essence-flows in everyone were disrupted. Now, in some cases, that may have improved function – it can happen – but in a lot of cases things have gotten worse, and will need some fixing up! Leaving people hurt is not a good thing!”

(Orabilis) “I suppose that is one way of describing it.” (And now he was amused.) “Pray tell, how do you intend to do this?”

(Charles, happily) “I’ve been designing artifacts to make up for the damage and allow self-correction. Using artifacts is better because if the people using them don’t like the effects, they can just deattune them and turn them off!”

(Orabilis) “Huh. I see. That might or might not work. That would depend on whether or not you can learn certain things known only to the Yozis.”

(Charles) “You never know until you try! And it would be wrong not to try!”

(Orabilis) “I assume this would require you to enter the city and treat with the titans, yes?”

(Charles) “Uh-huh! That’s part of the work I’ll have to do there!”

(Orabilis) “I see. Well, it should be curious seeing how they react to someone of your unique nature coming into the city… or the desert, for that matter. The words from that should spawn several new libraries at the very least!”

(Charles, still happily) “More stuff to learn!”

Within the impenetrable privacy of his own mind Orabilis had to wonder… Was this child really that simple? He really seemed to think that he could simply… drop by and set to work fixing everything and anything! The child was well on the way to being a true Primordial – and perhaps even something beyond a natural Primordial – but there were older and far more experienced powers. The youngster had his elemental poles, his manse-emanations had become true devas, his mind was multiplex and nigh-unfathomable… but he had little to no idea of how crazy some of the Yozis were! While it would be nice to have his progenitor in solid form again, and the child likely DID have the power to fix things, would he be permitted to do so? As powerful as he had become… the massed strength of the Yozi’s could easily throw him out of Malpheas and bar the way to his return if he displeased them! Still, if he succeeded in healing Yu-Shan… who knew what that would lead to?

Over the next few hours, as more and more Third Circle guests arrived, the mood in the Carnival as a whole shifted from fear to curiosity. The Yozi’s didn’t seem to be attacking, despite the fact that they were at the center of Yu-Shan!

The Celestial Lions had to move gawkers along pretty regularly.

And then, there was shouting and the faint feeling of reality blurring a bit outside.

Oh dear. Had Oramus decided to attend in person? Charles had thought that he was going to settle for remote viewing… He went to check!

Outside the pavilion… there was a massively powerful being out there! It looked like a man made out of shimmering fractals, in a long white coat, with eyes like starry black voids. He was waving his four limbs around, looking very distraught. The air around him also shimmered with fractals, and those looked pretty maddening! Nearby gods were gibbering. Some had ducked and hidden their eyes as the Lions tried to hold him back!

Charles added a touch of memory-erasure where needed.

(Charles) “Hello there!”

(Being) “Where’s Ayuji!? I need to talk to Ayuji! “WHERE’S AYUJI?”

Time for a quiet area and a phone!

(Charles) “Is something wrong?”

His arms waved like springs cleaving dimensions as Charles maneuvered him into a quieter area. It was quite disconcerting even from his protected perspective, like one of those “Magic Eye” books when you got it right.

(Being) “Oramus sent me to find Ayuji! Where’s Ayuji?”

(Charles) “Well, she’s still manifesting as the Loom of Fate! But I’ve got a communications link right here…”

(Being, radiating – or extending – in strange fractal patterns that didn’t fit within reality) “I will bend reality to find Ayuji!”

Charles set up a direct link! It was much simpler than bending reality… besides, the structures around the Loom of Fate were visible from here anyway.

(Being) “Ayuji?! Where are you? What? Stuck? I’ll save you!”

Oh dear! Now he seemed to be intent on going straight to the Loom Chamber, and was looking out a window at it and starting to REALLY warp things!

CHARLES called Ayuji! With I AM helping and some extra manses – she surely had enough spare power to manifest or at least to use her new remote!

Ayuji sent her remote over right away. Oramus had to be worse off than she thought; that – as she informed Charles – was Feng, the Atelier of Realities Unshackled, and neither She nor Charles wanted him running around unsupervised. He broke the universe down into a selection of REALLY low-probability results and picked the one he wanted! A VERY frustrating sort to deal with if you were a part of Creation, since what he was doing operated both within it’s rules – the breakdown of future possibilities by negating Ayuji’s grasp on Creation – and without them! (Binding the results back together to avoid a localized Time of Cascading Years).

At least as far as what he did fit into words anyway.

(Ayuji) “Oh yes! A friend of Xiang’s! Very helpful for dealing with Shapeless!”

(Charles) “Well, Ayuji’s here, and doing fine… was there anything else you needed Mr Feng?”

(Feng) “I don’t want to go back in the wings! The wings are scary and I can’t find anything in there!”

(Charles) “Well, there’s no real reason to… would you like to spend a little time on a nice quiet private planet?”

(Feng) “I want to talk to Yu-Shan! Er… if she’ll let me.”

(Charles) “Perhaps in a couple of days when she’s awake? That’s hardly any time at all!”

(Feng) “Can I watch? I want to be in the pavilion with the others!”

Somehow, despite being with Feng in a private reality-fold…. Charles could see Ligier, behind Feng in the pavilion proper, making eye contact with him and slowly shaking his head.

(Charles) “Err… How about a private spot? That way you can do without all the concealment spells; they must pinch!”

(Feng) “Terribly!… Can I get sprinkle cupcakes there?”

(Charles) “Why not?”

(Feng) “Hurrah!”

Charles set it up for him and Ayuji’s remote; she was quite pleased to be outside and getting to watch “in person”, even if only in spiri – and it was nice to get a chance to talk ot Feng again. He was one of the few who really understood her work. Charles was simply pleased to be able to accommodate people!

For now anyway. Things would doubtless get more awkward if he did manage to start curing the Yozi’s; he was REALLY hoping that the “there are plenty of empty galaxies to play in!” thing worked out – because if it DIDN’T there was going to be an awful lot of damage if he couldn’t keep the peace! And he really couldn’t have that! Still, even getting them fixed up without letting them back into creation would be a BIG improvement! It would make Malfeas more pleasant at the very least, and make devas like that Feng and Ligier a lot more happy. And if it took a few millennia of study to improve on that…. well, no one had mentioned the quick approach of the end of time yet!

Charles was busy for some time – and was SO glad that he’d been selective about sending invitations to the saner third circles only even if a fair number of more difficult ones had shown up anyway.

Well, he’d TRIED to hold down on the unnecessary complications.