Back in Aden, Charles was surveying things a bit… Sure, he could sense at things in there, but – at least until he was entirely used to it – he preferred to look at things with his own eyes. There were quite a few manses that he’d made while he was very sleepy, and experiments he hadn’t checked on lately, and other bits. Perhaps, before he left for the other end of the universe, he should check on what he was going to be carrying along!
Dun Shunkaha (the Wolf Manse, or perhaps “Manses with Wolves”?) had been one of Charles’s experiments in the line of research which had led to the Bazaar of the Bizarre and – ultimately – to making his Guardians. Like so many of his other experiments, it had been at least partially inspired by popular movies, comics, and role-playing games.
In this case, it was by things like “Werewolf The Apocalypse”, “Monsters Monsters!”, by various Wolf and Werewolf movies, and by various other myths and books.
Of course, unlike most “werewolf” sources, Dun Shunkaha started off with normal human children and turned them into fluffy, friendly, helpful werewolf / wolf-spirit creatures – “Kickaha” – that were MUCH nicer than the ones in Charles’s source material…
It had been much easier to overlay an existing pattern onto the test subjects than it would have been to empower them entirely from scratch – but the experiment did show him both the benefits and the limitations of that particular method; the base creature got a MASSIVE dose of the habits and instincts of the template creature. In this case his subjects had gotten awfully canine and rather territorial, as well as being jumped straight from physical childhood into semi-adult bodies and granted substantial magical powers.
His four test-subject volunteers had been small, orphaned, children with no one to care for them – and with either emotional traumas that they wanted to escape (he had, after all, pulled them out of war zones) and/or congenital damage that was difficult to cure. They mostly didn’t have the life experience to avoid letting those wolfish mental patterns impact their personalities – or a lot of common sense… Well, he’d fix that next time! As for these four… well, small children tended to form “packs” anyway and now they could play all they wanted to; Aden had lots of room!
Dun Shunkaha empowers normal kids as a “guardian force” – using wyld-revocation based bilocation to keep them effectively “in” the manse at all times (which also makes them very hard to kill), mutagenic effects to provide relevant mutations, upgrading the life-sustaining function that they’re all constantly exposed to to let them expend a few motes to trigger (or to NOT trigger) it’s effects, and provides some artifact-benefits for all of them (a Behemoth Cloak
and some utility items). Not surprisingly, the youngsters all undertook the Adenic Thaumaturgic Initiation as soon as they found out about it. The Guardians saw no reason not to let them…
Unlike Guardians, Kickaha don’t have massive geomantic powers, a geomantic network, or forty dots worth of artifacts and the combined powers of multiple manse guardians to draw on. They’re a lot more physically-oriented than the Material Gods of the Bazaar of the Bizarre too; they lean much more heavily towards toughness and attributes and tend to rely fairly heavily on their modest selection of spirit charms.
Charles had made sure that his volunteers generally meant well, and had checked out the basic patterns of the results – but then basically patted them on the head, told them to behave themselves and to have fun, and wandered off without actually giving them anything to do except to play with each other and compete for fun, dominance, and attention. There was a general urge to help out and serve him, but that wasn’t something that Charles had intentionally added; it came with bonding to a manse that was an outgrowth of his soul.
He didn’t approve of exerting unnatural mental influence over people, but that was acceptable as long as it was volunteers linking themselves to a power source… It helped protect them against non-magical exploitation anyway!
When he dropped back by, Charles found that things had – once again – run off in an unexpected direction. He’d expected the Kickaha to play with each other and sometimes explore Aden a bit – even if they would naturally tend to hang around Dun Shunkaha a lot.
He hadn’t counted on the fact that Dun Shunkaha could easily support up to six hundred and fifty of them… “Go and recruit more kids to play with” had NOT been among his intentions! Of course, the Kickaha were as impulsive as he was…
Despite what many people thought, anticipating consequences, and long-term planning, were not among his better talents. Besides… if youngsters wanted to become magical werewolf things, why shouldn’t they?
With that many of them using Dun Shunkaha as a central clubhouse, territoriality, dominance, games, and access to various special resources were becoming important factors. After all, while Charles was stalling, the Kickaha got catapulted straight to quasi-adulthood.
When Charles got around to checking on Dun Shunkaha he found a LOT of childlike but physically adolescent-adult werewolves hanging around.
(Charles) “Hey! I thought there were only like, four of you guys!”
(Lounging werewolf) “We found more!”
(Charles) “Er… Well, OK, as long as they wanted to be like you guys!… And how are you all getting along? And how many of you are there now?”
(Another young Kickaha) “There are almost six hundred and fifty of us! We have lots of fun together!”
(Charles) “Well that’s… good. (Wait, this was mostly youngsters…) Do you need some games or something?”
(Assorted werewolves) “Yay, games!” “I like soccer!”
There were calls for a wide variety of games – mostly outdoor sports of course – which was just a bit weird when apparent adults started chiming in… Well, they WERE all inherently young adults, even if they could shapeshift (maybe the more dominant ones liked to look older?).
Charles made sure that there were plenty of games….
Did they do much of anything else? Hang around Hobbit inns and guard them or something? He did some scanning and made some inquiries.
It looked like they… guarded Hobbit inns, gently teased the Baalgrogs, roved the wilderness near Dun Shunkaha, watched Sidereals from hiding, played games with the kids from rescued communities, made territories, occasionally held pack-hierarchy dominance duels, and indulged in various other physical activities. They seemed to be taking advantage of the available, and bountiful, resources.
They were still recruiting on occasion too… wait, had they come up with a charm that let them expand their numbers more?
Charles watched a duel; there was plenty of everything, so it couldn’t be too serious!
Blood did get drawn – but only a few scrapes (if sometimes enough to make them spend a few motes regenerating). Basically it was until somebody yielded… Nothing even lethal enough to drive someone back to the manse, although one kid had apparently gotten his arm broken last week and had had to wait HOURS for it to heal.
Well, there was nothing at all wrong with that!
Charles set up a few more entertaining dueling areas – with unusual environments and such for them to play and practice in – and talked to one of the winners…
(Charles) “So you’re in charge now? In charge of what?”
(Alpha) “Well, this pack right here!”
That was… around twenty individuals.
(Charles) “What do you do with them? Pick the games?”
(Alpha) “That – and I get first pick of the girls!”
(Charles, who’s biological skills were high enough so he did know how that worked – even if he still considered it sort of icky) “Well, if that’s how you want to do things…” (Huh. They can certainly produce offspring, but what would they be like? Doubly god-blooded?). “And I guess the “beta” there gets the next choice? Or are you the only one in the pack who breeds?”
(Alpha) “Oh, we all breed. I just get first pick every day, and we stop when the girls get bored or tired.”
Charles was rather embarrassed now… Oh dear! He wasn’t anticipating a daily orgy when he made them. Was it just because they have no work to do to occupy them with anything ELSE? That seemed likely! After all, why would they work? They had everything they needed.
(Charles) “Are any of the girls pregnant yet?”
What was he going to say if the answer was “Sure! All of them!”?!?! That would be even MORE awkward!
It was about a third. Elzeard – with more foresight than Charles – had made sure that Maiden Tea was available, and Aden tended to keep things somewhat under control anyway.
(Charles) “Have any delivered yet? It’s been what… five? maybe six? – months…”
That would be fast for pure mortals, but with material gods it was kind of hard to tell!
Not yet, but some were quite far along, with a pretty even distribution among the trimesters.
Charles got Elzeard to take a look and see what they were going to be like… He was not ABOUT to poke at pregnant girls stomachs! They could be producing move Kickaha, god-bloods, or something entirely odd…
Elzeard reported that – except for the manse-artifact boosts, which gave a modest advantage to the “first generation” (at least until the others got their own artifacts) they seemed to be… self-reproducing.
Oh dear! Hopefully they’d at least have reasonably long childhoods. If it was “grow to adulthood overnight and start breeding” something would have to be done!
(Charles) “And would you like something to do in addition to the (he winced a bit)… regular orgies?”
(Alpha) “Sure! We’d be happy to help out more than we are.”
(Charles) “Well, I’ll try to think of something! Although, obviously enough, most of the girls will need to spend time on child care soon.”
(Alpha) “Yeah… we’ll need something else to do… How about patrolling? The Baalgrogs do it too, but they’re so pretentious!”
(Charles) “Well, I bet you guys can be inconspicuous – both visually and magically – really well too!”
(Charles) “And I’ll see if there’s anything else more exciting to do!”
They liked that idea – especially the males. The females were going to have quite enough to do all too soon… At least most of them were having only one child to rear! That was MUCH better than litters in this case!
And Elzeard predicted a normal length of childhood. That was good too!
Well, they didn’t really seem to need much of anything right now – although he could think of some jobs; perhaps a bit of planetary exploration here and there…
And now he knew that manse-guardians based on upgraded mortal species with mutagenic manses could effectively become magical species. That should be fun to experiment with!
Elzeard sighed. This little quasi-exaltation experiment of Charles’s had yielded some unexpected results – and some rather randy youngsters. Perhaps the Kickaha represented Charles’s delayed adolescence?
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