Hello again, future inheritor. The next two weeks worth of memories are a blur... literally. So here I am filling in the blanks, yet again. Don't worry though. It wasn't another skull piercing weapon or brain melting exercise in suicidal stupidity. It was a mutually beneficial exchange that carried a little ritual work in.
The first two days of blurry memory, as seen through the eyes of a mortally wounded Glaucous, were spent patching the big guy's leaky spiritual boat and making some quick fixes to Seaside's waste management enchantments so it didn't start smelling like the dark corners of a New York subway. Apparently, the nightmare that had gotten it's clutches on Glaucous, turned his astral body into Swiss cheese. Apparently, I had done the same to his beautiful city. There was a lot of good stuff that came out of this, though, and that is why I made this memory patch memo.
It starts with discovering that the blue dot on Glaucous' throat is a generational curse of extreme magnitude. It ends with me finding out that a full corner of my merkaba structure was missing, throwing off my symmetry. I'd like to think the rough draft I made to remodel Seaside into a grittier high fantasy hidden city was just as important. Who knows what kind of affect living in The Littlest Mermaid theme park could have on a population of tortuously trained spies and assassins. Now the world will never have to know! To be fair, it was G-man's granny's place but eight centuries is plenty of time to let some shit go.
The nightmare had did a number on Glaucous' astral body. All the frequent little nibbles had it looking tore up. There's no quick fix to that kind of damage but I could keep what was left, inside. So that's what I did. It was mostly an accident that I found a spot that was different than the rest but when I see a whole section of a cupboard full of food that the rat didn't chew on, it makes me curious what was there.
I had to admire the artistry on this curse. If you didn't know where to look, you'd never find it. And even if you did, you'd never be able to remove it without undoing the whole person. Having the bite marks of a soul devouring monster do all the hard work for you though... Obviously the curse layer in question would have never guessed that a benevolent being would ever employ such a tactic to find its handiwork, because they wouldn't. I mean, that's like taking a power drill to someone's head to get rid of migraines... Over 90% chance of death but either way, no more headaches.
The reason for the merkaba thing's not as clear. My money's on stuffing pieces of unstable spirit into others then getting it soothed, compressed and stuffed back into me... This is one of the few times I'd rather leave the metaphor a metaphor. This is also the only time the solution to a problem pointed out it's existence. Upon the discovery of this generational curse, nastiest piece of atavism I'd ever seen, my intuition was like Navi on crack. No matter how many times it said 'hey, listen' I wasn't going to rip it out though. I was trying to save G-man's life, not take another bite out of him...
On day three I wigged out when pops' call mark just vanished. I honestly thought he might've just died. The sudden lifelessness of his call mark days earlier mixed with it's sudden disappearance had me pretty much convinced until a request to establish a new call mark came in an hour later with pretty much the same parameters. After accepting, I summoned it to see if anything had changed.
Lots of shit changed. This cut-out of reality was slimmer and had boobs to start...She introduced herself as Drafodil but gave me the okay to call her Dray and as I stifled my chuckles, I asked her what was shakin. The fact that she looked around and then shrugged her shoulders let me know that she either wasn't as slang savvy as pops or she was more EQ broken than Glaucous.
Dray went on to inform me that nothing was really different. The call mark worked the same way but it had an advisory mode that I could use that was a hella less costly at the loss of all real function but talking. She would pretty much be my mentor for the foreseeable century and would answer pretty much any question I had or advise me as best she could after getting a disclaimer on record that what I did with that knowledge had nothing to do with her as she was doing this to pay back an oath debt.
She outright admitted to me that she knew my pops about as well as I already did and the oath debt was a result of her apprenticeship with him that was pretty much administered the same way it was being given to me. At the time pops had encountered her, she was just a participant that was under an operator that was subordinate to him. When she acquired the soul forge profession, pops was in need of a peon to do his light work so he took her under his, slave labor lacking, wing. I got the distinct impression that she hated and respected Hiidan in equal measure.
After asking a few probing questions as to what she'd be the most help with she informed me that she would be able to fill in the gaps the SYSTEM purposefully left in upper tier crafting professions and give me some conjurer models to work with that would patch my lopsided class understanding into something that actually had combat applications. At the request of Hiidan, the method of giving me said models would insure that they stayed hidden from the prying eyes of this world's host and off my log roll. An easy endeavor since the way my interface showed my abilities was shoddy as hell anyway, the intentional sloppy work of Hiidan, from the get go. That was meant to paint my operator as barely competent and manual input obsessed. Not an uncommon issue, it seems.
At my level of existence, the SYSTEM was an invaluable tool to get started but later on it was just an annoying tracking device I couldn't get rid of. As soon as I got my tier five evolutionary advancement, however, my information would be handed over to the director in charge of me where I'd be doled out to whatever purpose they deemed fit to give me. Since Hiidan was my director I'd be free of any pressure from up high but I'd also not likely have any support whatsoever, except for Dray. She assured me that as long as I kept my nose out of any major faction or alliance business she would be enough but it was disheartening to hear her say that she didn't think I had the ability to get to tier six and gave very compelling reasons but whatever.
After chatting for about an hour on various rigmarole we finally came around to my current situation and the problems I was working on. I was hesitant to tell her anything too concrete but when she pointed out that she was a Tier VI existence and only talked to me like she did because she abhorred formality, that there was nothing about me she found remotely interesting and wouldn't even care enough to kill me if I was standing on her shoulder and screaming in her ear because it would waste her time, I was oddly comforted. I was even more put at ease when she explained that this mark held about 1% of her total all around potential, about 100% of my current self, and was pretty much just an auto-pilot with access to her knowledge that she would likely trash can the experiences of every time it came back. In essence, she was honey badger extreme mode. It wasn't just her word though. She oathed it true and you can feel that shit when its real.
I gave her the breakdown of G-man's problem, then told her about mine and how it would be peachy if I could figure out how to solve them together. Her solution, a metaphysical exchange. I had lots of impurities in my condensed spirit from stuffing myself like a glutton beyond the speed of my void to handle, he had a curse that was like candy and we both had the ability to deal with the negatives of each other's issue. He could deal with processing impurities because he was a tier five existence and needed the nourishment. I had a void space that had a sweet tooth for curses. It was a win-win and she had a nine-day ritual model that could make it happen, though she warned me that the time that went by while the ritual was going on would be a big ol switcharoo.
We were essentially buried together for nine days and nights. There was a device with all kinds of magical shit carved in it, that had two mouth pieces that served to allow the exchange to occur and kept both of us in sync with the other, fitted on our faces and we were wrapped chest to chest. Luckily we were both unconscious during the duration of the burial.
There is absolutely nothing of interest to know about being wrapped up with someone else for nine days underground and asleep. We had some pretty fucked up feelings of being stretched like taffy and being partially eaten by the other while having lots of boring psychic conversations about plans for city construction, ideas about how to get him recovered faster and what I was going to do after I was done making the safe zone. Well, he was excited. He was finally going to be able to have sex and make babies without eventually killing his lovers. I was just going to be able to glue the nose back on my porcelain doll of a damn personal path construct but that's what I get for binge eating and purging. There was more benefit for the both of us than that but I was feeling mean spirited and grumpy by the time my thoughts became mine again.
Apparently the part I was missing from my construct was malicious creativity, a big part of why I didn't get spell structures from my class that would let me do some real damage without having to get up-close and personal. All of a sudden it was easy to envision summoning razor blade sharp sleet and globs of corrosive acid dropping on motherfucker's heads. Thankfully for every place and person I encountered after that, the exaggerated feelings of aggression and general loathing faded pretty quickly but the ability to image horrifying applications of my power without getting all squeamish stayed. Now that was unfortunate for all the people and places that managed to piss me off.
“So like I was saying on the dream plane a couple days ago. You are a land god of fertility and life. I'm likely to never say this again so enjoy the rare quote... Why don't you have a ritual orgy? This world's summer solstice is less than a week away. It's not as symbolic of fertility as the spring equinox but it's still pretty life oriented. Besides it's not like I'm asking you to establish it as a holiday or something,” Wren said, on the verge of pulling out his hair in frustration.
Glaucous snorted and said, “It flies in the face of the advice that your father offered me. This smacks of worship and I thought I was supposed to avoid doing things that might evolve into religious ceremony. Not to mention that I find it offensive to make an edict for my children to fornicate in mass for my benefit.”
Frantically thinking, Wren said, “All right. That makes sense when you put it like that but what if I organized a party to help your kids and the other refugees mingle. If I drop a heavy but subtle series of hints and innuendo into the mix that all people who find or have a partner, knock boots one round in thanksgiving to you for doing so much to prepare them a new home... Shit, that's semantics isn't it? Wait, I got it!”
After a brief discussion with Dray for a spirit gathering diagram, a possession parasite trap and negotiation possibilities for safe-zones, he got to work. Over the next three days he worked on laying down the foundation for a resort hotel safe-zone, that was within a one hour walk from a secluded beach, during the morning, and city building in the evening. A crew of the currently unoccupied refugees and a handful of more idle branch folk were split and put to work on both projects in exchange for a plethora of much needed material goods and the promise of a festival when it was done.
For Glaucous' part, he mainly convalesced but gave Wren access to his AE rich realm for resting. Whatever ideas about getting frisky, while Wren was too tuckered out to put up a fight, Glaucous may have had were gently but firmly rebuffed by his own son. Jaden didn't mind monopolizing on the idea once himself, though. A sore and embarrassed Wren promised revenge after a rematch, the game of domination and submission being half of an unspoken agreement between them. The other half was that if Jaden didn't hold back and let him win every once in awhile while it stayed a battle of strength and physical skill then Wren would shamelessly cheat.
Close to late morning on the third day, all work was suspended. Wren rushed back and went through a whirlwind of preparations while those in the know helped out where they could. Copious amounts of cheap alcohol, fruit and meat spiked with a wisp of LE and a little SE laid out on tables for everyone's enjoyment. A gramophone with a sound carrying enchantment was playing recordings of what went for stimulating music, that Wren had gathered before the flood, until volunteers with instruments replaced it. Wren was a little sad over that but he had to admit that live sounded better with tribal instruments.
The more extroverted refugees had little trouble getting the majority of the introverts among Glaucous' flock to loosen up and start to enjoy themselves and things actually started getting pretty wild after the former Branch survivors realized no one was coming at them with threats of punishment. Glaucous, Jaden and Sable stepped in on a few issues before they had a chance to become anything bigger and Branch Night people were given a clear understanding of what was and was not allowed in the pursuit of companionship.
It didn't take long for pairs and small groups to start making their way to someone's home to enjoy other activities. Wren, Grimalkin and a contingency of couples among the refugees, who knew what the party was really about, replaced the first crew and Sable so the early volunteers could have some fun too. Little did anyone but Wren's core people and Glaucous realize that under the city was a huge gathering array that was channeling to Glaucous' private residence to help with his recovery. The array only gathered shed LE and the bits of SE that was condensed by a function of the array. It was a loose and dirty way to do it but it worked and if Wren's other long term plan worked the Safe-zone and it's attached beach would be a big earner for not only Glaucous' recovery but growth as well.
Another three days later Wren had a safe, enchantment isolated and spirit-arrayed beach with a line of sturdy love shacks, secret alcoves and plentiful fruit bearing vegetation. Enchanted and booby-trapped secret entrances along the walled path to the beach allowed Seaside residents to set up shop, so to speak. After going over a basic exchange rate of goods and services that could be provided by the locals with Bress to pass on, Wren was ready on the non SYSTEM side of things.
The safe-zone itself had a large, creatively decorated and customized version of the three story barracks refitted for multiple private rooms with their own minor enchantments for climate control and bathrooms. It was all bring your own bedding but otherwise any other amenity was covered. He even figured out a way to make an ice machine-like enchantment, embedded deep into the side alcove of every floor.
Negotiations were reopened and after some bitter and sad back and forth dialog with an automated registrar, Wren managed to get clearance for natives to use SYSTEM desired resources in one of three major public obelisk boxes to have access to this facility, minus essence access unless they were a participant's registered one-plus, up to a maximum of 50 at a time. They'd have 5 minutes to leave the safe-zone and five minutes to re-enter when they wished to leave with each resource exchange being round trip only, no one-way.
Wren split the 10% AP royalty for every use of the three obelisks he would place, with Glaucous which the big man could use to purchase whatever this world's natives were allowed. It was the same deal that the big cities got and that only flew because of the strategic placement of this particular safe-zone, though that deal was only valid for as long as Glaucous lived. After that, Wren or his inheritor would get the additional 5%, the 10% royalty only good for a maximum of 100 years. Last but far from least, the small spirit gathering arrays embedded into the floor of each room, disguised as decorative patterns, would also similarly be allowed for 100 years.
A man that could only be described as an angel came to provide the obelisks and lock-box, inspect the preparations and oversee Wren's obelisk placement and activation. Apparently, a participant capable of doing this job was rare enough that the angel in question gawked at the relative ease in which Wren accomplished the task. After the angel inspected the safe-zone work he looked satisfied and thanked Wren for going the extra distance to provide such a warm and friendly safe-zone for participants and natives to enjoy together. He even went so far as to tour the rest of Wren's preparations for native enjoyment and smiled benevolently at Wren before disappearing.
Safe-zone negotiation and construction reward:
Place all free AP as 10 AP rewards for native referral to this safe-zone. Include the liquidated 500 AP exchangeable reward. Exchange the Tier IV reward for conjure food and drink models, [Earth] popular chain restaurant options.
After getting a confirmation from the SYSTEM interface, Wren got his new ring from the lock-box. Then he gathered up Jaden, Grimalkin and Glaucous to go see Usuway before any people started showing up. He trusted Sable to be able to gather up the appropriate people to quell any small squabbles and protect the newly minted 'vendors' before they returned.
Bring your native for free promotion better pay off and if those parasites can use the obelisks, I hope the dream catcher traps underneath these three obelisks work or it's gonna turn into a shit show around here again.
Wren grabbed the newly placed obelisk that was only half fixed in the material plane and sent his request,
Usuway's guest list confirmed. Prepare for interstellar transport...5...4..3..2..1
The four men appeared in an circular sigil after a dizzying light show. The room was oval and bare.
“In truth, Wren, my desire to have words with Usuway were not as strong as my desire to attend matters at home. I am weakened and removed from comfort,” Glaucous said, oozing anxiety from every pore.
“You have been cooped up for nearly eight hundred years. I was willing to resort to any measure to get you separated from your home for at least half a day, even if it was just to prove to you that it's possible for you to step away without disintegrating,” Wren said wryly.
“A day at your new beach place would have been a better start I think,” Jaden said, not much less anxious.
A pale, lithe woman with shockingly white hair walked in and said, “You've just arrived and you are already in a hurry to leave. In truth, that would suit me fine save Wren and Jaden.”
Glaucous said, “If it is possible, I would speak with you alone, Usuway.”
“Since what you have to say will likely not be pleasant, I would prefer it. As for you three, the space I just came in from will take you, by default, to my recreational room.” she replied before leaving with Glaucous.
Wren didn't waste time. He just walked right in like he owned the place. All the while, inside, he wanted to cry.
The vibe of this place is so weird my intuition doesn't even know what to think!
Despite all things actually being comfortable with all possible amenities one might expect in a resort hotel suit, the color and shape of everything kept a person on guard and anxious. Wren picked up something with 3.5 mind that made him shift view. Suddenly everything around him stretched out and a vast array of possible shapes, colors and accommodations made themselves known. He pulled what he wanted forth till it looked like a VIP lounge in a celebrity 'chill' club. A two liter of mountain dew stuck out of an ice bucket on the table with a set of glass tumblers in mockery of the posh environment. The irony of the scenario he set up appealed. Pouring his friends a toast he sipped the sweet nectar he'd not had in so long and laughed as he watched his two bonded make strange faces at the fizzy drink.
“Do you mind taking a moment to explain why everything went from what it was to this,” Jaden said as he gestured around him and at the glass of soda.
“Too sweet,” Grimalkin said, apparently not overly phased by anything.
Wren grabbed a bottle of unsweetened peach tea for Grimalkin as he explained, “I think the guest room we're in is a test that reflects your state of mind but if you can see all the options you can just choose what you want the room to be. The drinks are just materialized from a box to the preference of whatever you can remember having before. Nothing in this room, including us, has a fixed point in relation to anything else but don't try to focus on that, just see things as they are and pretend anything you don't understand is magic.”
Wren grabbed a pack of dominoes and taught them how to play as they waited. When she came back for Jaden, Glaucous was not in attendance. After she explained that Glaucous had already returned and he was emotional enough to need privacy, Wren asked her to oath that it was so and she did. It didn't take much longer until she came for Wren and Grimalkin at once. Instead of leading them elsewhere, she just slid in to the horseshoe seat on the other side of Wren and mixed the dominoes up for a game as she began conversation.
She said, “Your father should have warned you about the dangers of changing other's Dharma, yes?”
“He did,” Wren replied.
“I can give you a rough idea of the consequences you've garnered so far. Does that interest you?” She intimated with a sympathetic smile.
Wren nodded then said, “That's something I'd probably be better off knowing.”
She motioned for Wren to lay the first domino as she began, “For diverting the Dharma of your child, Imani Balewa was diverted from your life at the cost of her own but that is not your fault. She was simply a strong possibility of being your spouse. There are further, greater ripples involving your son now but it's not any better or worse, depending on view point, than the original Dharma... To put it in simple terms, before I continue with the rest, the Great Pattern is not rigid. If one thing moves out of place, the hole will be filled and the next...so on. If a person moves through the pattern, making ripples, it rocks their boat. It's simple cause and effect. Few have the ability to easily change someone else's Dharma within their own sphere of existence, you do.
“The act of reaching out to Grimalkin here-” she smiled at the young Delver, “Had consequences but further ripples were canceled out as he filled the hole that Imani left. There are pieces of that Dharma that are now tied to him as a result... Rohn's ripples will pass over your path again but that is too difficult to see clearly. Rohna has a hard road to walk now but she has more choice and the power to protect her choices, those ripples are beyond my sight entirely. Jackoby is a boat rocked by other ripples but he was never meant to be a great man, now he may be but he bears no great love in his heart. Glaucous has been moved so far by your wake that his future has been completely thrust upon another, perhaps even Rohna. He has broken the shackles of his Dharma entirely and will endlessly spread ripples for as long as he grows. Your father allowed the rebound of that initial capsizing wave to break across himself, saving you untold grief and aiding himself.
“All of those do not carry in them my love for you-” Usuway carried a faint trace of humor in her smile, “The love of a grieving mother who has seen the savior of her legacy. It is not even once, Wren, but twice. Two generations who carry the blood of the holy beasts have been awakened. For that and your aid to all the many of my blood that would have perished save for you, I will stand for you against a wave that would see so much more than you and all that you do reduced to null.”
Usuway sighed as she poured herself a glass of soda and took a drink before mumbling, “So the mortals on Earth have taken fancy to small poisons now. It is pleasant though.” She looked into Wren's eyes and said, “I see few paths through your wake where you survive but as you have saved my legacy I will extend a hand to save yours, if you let me.
“Unwittingly you have left a permanent shadow, a type of ancestral will, upon your son. Your bloody thumbprint on his shell is proof of it. I will give you two items and one of them is to empower that shadow with your own potential. The ripple will cost you one child yet to be but insure the survival of your first. If you make it through your tribulations you may yet have more but it is difficult to see as many ripples now overlap your future beyond one point.
“The second is called a singularity arc. It has the ability to hold the recorded memories of one who possesses an inter-spacial mind and pass it on as an inheritance to the holder. It also will take them to safety, at your command, to a place you have once been...” She waited till Grimalkin was preoccupied with placing a domino down then gave a meaningful look to Wren then at Grimalkin and back before continuing with, “It will envelope them in an oval the size of the person as they will be when a full grown adult. I have another that is already bound to me that I wish you to give to a certain little sprite, yes? Will you do this for me?”
Wren said, “If you will oath all you say is true, then yes.”
She smiled sadly before she said, “By the Eternal Circle, I have spoken nothing but truth to you since the moment we have met, as best as I am able to know it.”
I refuse to buy into the fatalism but she means what she says all right.
She continued, “I leave you with one piece of advice and one more request. The advice is to never have more bonded than you have Tiers and those who are bonded to you are accepted by the Great Pattern to have their Dharma changed by you. The request is to tell Lilly to forego her tree gate after the birth of her first child and to never use it to give birth to another... Let her know the gate is a border between life and death and the gate tends to swing the other way once it has swung the fore... I would have liked to have met her and held her child once.”
She passed the items over and explained their use before downing the last of the soda in her tumbler before looking at Grimalkin as she said, “You're right. It's too sweet but sometimes too much is just what we must take to get what we need, especially suffering, if you can find the will to survive it.”
After scooting a bit she stood up and turned her back to them as she flared in bright silver filigree that burned her clothes away before a crack formed in her domain. It widened as three cut-outs of reality stepped within.
The center cut-out said, “Move to the side and you will be rewarded as an assistant in the termination of a future threat, seer. Refuse and you will join him.”
The space around them rolled out in all its possibilities before shattering into countless jagged pieces as she said, “I was born by the grace of cleansing fire and I will die by its grace as well.”
Wren felt his void power still for a brief moment before a light burned into his retina and mind that resembled an impossibly perfect supernova before he smelled the sea.