Story Seven- Book Of Tea With Moon, Part Two

<Hollyhock God> So, last time we spoke, you were deep within Magrathea, the Chancel built inside the moon.

<Ryan Sherbrig> ("I love what you've done with the place.")

<Ebba> For certain values of inside, anyway.

<Hollyhock God> "It does have a certain je ne sais quois," E'jah admits.

<Ryan Sherbrig> (We were here again… oh, right, to consult on the Stone of Antiheroes.)

<Hollyhock God> "Now, let me see, where has the tea satellite got to?"

<Hollyhock God> "Oh, it's over there. Well, it should arrive at the gate in five minutes or so," he says.

<Hollyhock God> "The bright side of this place is that we can provide any environment, for any occasion. The downside is that occasionally the planet is on the other side of the Moon from you."

<Alexa> "This is amazing. So how did you get into this line of work?"

<Alexa> "And how do you get around?"

<Hollyhock God> "Well, as you know, I practice alchemy, which involves the study of the deepest natural laws of Creation."

* Alexa nods

<Hollyhock God> "Once I got involved with that, it was only natural to become interested in how these laws differ from one world on the tree to the next."

<Hollyhock God> "And I realized that it was actually quite simple to tweak these laws in minor ways, within the fundamental constraints of Ygg itself, that would enable the creation of custom-made physical spaces."

<Ryan Sherbrig> "Convenient."

<Hollyhock God> "I originally had planned to build smaller spaces, akin to the old "house inside a wardrobe" trick, but Selim realized that it would be nearly as easy to simply build entire planetary bodies to spec."

<Hollyhock God> "He has a talent for thinking grandly, as is only natural."

<Alexa> "Does your Imperator help out, or is this your own project?"

<Hollyhock God> "Ah, the Argent Wyrm assisted in the original refitting of the Chancel, but since then we've carried out the project entirely on our own. It's quite profitable for Familia and Ymera both, of course."

<Ryan Sherbrig> "I imagine transportation would be problematic, though, as you said."

<Hollyhock God> "Well, the transport is a matter of luck and timing."

<Hollyhock God> "There are several moving bands that will carry you around the circumference and allow you to catch up to a given body, but if you're unlucky or bad at mental calculus, it can take twenty minutes or so to get to where you want to be."

<Hollyhock God> "I eventually had to install toilettes at each beltway station for guests."

<Hollyhock God> "But I feel that the possibilities quite make up for any small inconveniences!"

<Ryan Sherbrig> "Bah. Biology."

<Hollyhock God> "Oh, I know."

<Alexa> "Oh, I forgot! We brought some presents for you."

<Hollyhock God> "How delightful!"

* Alexa hands over the aromatic logs.

<Ryan Sherbrig> (That sounds so wrong.)

* Fiona hands over the flower.

<Ebba> (Wasn't I the one with the aromatic logs?)

<Alexa> (I think we both had some.)

<Ebba> (Or did we both have aromatic logs?)

<Hollyhock God> "Mmmm," says E'jah, gently levitating the flower and bundle of logs with gentle telekinesis. "These are… I don't think I've ever detected this fragrance before. Surely these can't be local?"

<Alexa> (Yours were based on your own world's stock; mine were from the Chancel garden stock.)

<Ryan Sherbrig> ("Oh, we have our sources. As I'm sure you remember when we prayed to you about that whole worldlet thing and then mysteriously dropped the subject.")

<Alexa> "Fiona, what did you end up putting in the flower?"

<Ryan Sherbrig> (/me smears undifferentiated causa causans on his toast. "Hmmmm, mindbogglingly wasteful.")

<Fiona> "Flowering and hope, I think."

<Hollyhock God> "It has a certain 'Yes, we can' feeling to it, yes."

<Hollyhock God> "Ah, and here is the tea planet."

<Hollyhock God> A modestly-sized sphere containing a garden is orbiting gently towards you along the wall.

<Hollyhock God> As it comes close, a walkway forms itself out of radiant energy to allow you to walk across.

* Alexa crosses the walkway.

<Ryan Sherbrig> "Delightful."

<Ebba> (It's a sorta Heinlein-like moving roads setup? Where you step between different tracks moving at different speeds?)

<Hollyhock God> (Yes, quite.)

<Hollyhock God> The tea planet is an all-indoors planet, which has been set up to look like the inside of a fancy British tea room.

<Hollyhock God> There are even waiters and a few apparent customers at the other side, although Ebba's keen eyes can tell that they're artificial.

<Hollyhock God> Three small tables pull themselves together and merge themselves into a larger circle as you approach, and the chairs move gently into position.

<Alexa> "Do you mind if I smoke?"

<Hollyhock God> The only thing the room doesn't have is a ceiling, so you can watch the work going on above you.

<Hollyhock God> "This sphere has built-in air purifiers, so go ahead- you'll have to abstain if you tour the main workshops, however."

<Hollyhock God> E'jah manipulates a small control panel before setting down, causing a slight shift in the planet's orbit- evidently you're headed somewhere.

* Alexa lights a cigarette.

<Ryan Sherbrig> "That sounds interesting. Any large projects underway?"

<Hollyhock God> "Well, in this economy most of the actual currency is coming from the Cammorra, who have… strange tastes," admits E'jah. "Honestly, they've ordered far more brothel planets than any organization actually needs."

<Hollyhock God> "But we do have a nice little commission going on from the Power of Death, who is planning to have a private observatory place in one of Earth's Lagrange points."

<Alexa> "Where do they put them?"

<Hollyhock God> "In general, we try to keep the more idiosyncratic orders outside of the Sol system altogether," explains E'jah. "It means installing N-dimensional gateways, but it does keep the night sky tasteful."

<Alexa> "Where are they in relation to Earth's spot on the Tree? Do they hang off the same branch or something?"

<Ryan Sherbrig> "And it's not like N-dimensional gateways are that hard to pull off anyone. Especially if you're limiting yourself to real values for N."

<Ryan Sherbrig> (Anyway, not anyone.)

<Hollyhock God> "From the mythic perspective, they hang from the offshoots of a different branch."

<Alexa> "Interesting! Any branch in particular? And how do you graft them on?"

<Ebba> (Ah, it was Pandora who was the other person with Worldwalker; not Alexa.)

<Hollyhock God> "The Tree seems quite willing to accept new worlds, actually. In general, I simply oversee the placement of the product in the correct orbit, and the Tree grows out to accomodate it."

<Fiona> (Ebba: And me, sort of.)

<Ryan Sherbrig> (I could cheat if I had forenotice and wanted to give up one of my lovely assassins from beyond.)

<Alexa> "That's handy. Has the Tree ever rejected a new world?"

<Ryan Sherbrig> ("There was that one brothel world…")

<Hollyhock God> "Only if it was somehow flawed. We learned that in the first phases of our world. We've since found it best not to rush construction."

<Alexa> "I see. How long does a typical project take?"

<Ryan Sherbrig> "Hmmm."

<Hollyhock God> "Somewhere between six months and three years."

<Hollyhock God> "Of course, of late, our most interesting project has been our work with Lady Whitsunday to lay the foundations for new universes."

<Ryan Sherbrig> "Yes, quite interesting, that."

<Ebba> (That was the project mentioned at the party at Timeheart, right?)

<Alexa> "Universes?"

<Hollyhock God> "I estimate that we'll be finished with the preliminary mathematics in just under fifty years. After that, it's simply a matter of finding the proper materials for construction."

<Alexa> "Where would you put those?"

<Ryan Sherbrig> "Outside, of course."

<Hollyhock God> "Lady Fire, we hope to construct universes entirely separate from the Tree and send them out with humanity inside, thus preserving them from the Excrucian assault, and, with the appropriate adjustments, hedging out the Dark entirely."

<Alexa> "That's ambitious. And impressive."

<Ryan Sherbrig> "And it seems a bit more popular with the Light than the whole wacky 'steal the Citric Immortality from the Dark' thing."

<Ebba> "And we believe that the Excrutians would be uninterested in such creations; or is the plan to provide them with more active defenses?"

<Hollyhock God> "Well, if luck is on our side, the Excrucians will not feel it necessary to attack it, but our intention is that such a universe would generate its own miraculous defenders."

<Alexa> "So, like planting new Trees?"

<Hollyhock God> "I was hoping for some sort of Divine Orrery. One does like to be slightly original in these matters."

<Ryan Sherbrig> "I wonder if you'd need to find another Narsinha or Azbogah or some beings along those lines to start a new Creation."

<Ryan Sherbrig> "Or the one the C'neph made Angels out of. N'mosnisomething."

<Alexa> "Allegedly!"

<Ryan Sherbrig> "Yes, yes."

<Hollyhock God> "Yes, being able to verify the truth of those legends would be helpful."

<Hollyhock God> "Of course, you'll probably want to see the actual universe-creating mechanism."

<Alexa> "Ooh, can we?"

<Hollyhock God> "Oh, it's right over there."

* Ryan Sherbrig sips his tea.

<Hollyhock God> E'jah raises a trail of numbers up at the sky and points.

<Hollyhock God> It's a crystal sphere rather bigger than the one you're drinking tea on, and crackling with lightning.

<Hollyhock God> As you draw closer, you can see that it's starting to shake.

<Hollyhock God> In fact, first Ebba and then everyone else starts to hear something coming from inside the sphere.

<Hollyhock God> It's somebody laughing. Maniacally!

<Ebba> "Is it supposed to do that?"

<Hollyhock God> Crackle, crackle, a-ha-ha!

<Alexa> (I was just about to ask if it was screaming. ;) )

<Hollyhock God> E'jah says, resignedly, "I can't seem to make him stop."

<Alexa> "Who is it?"

<Hollyhock God> He touches another control, and as the tea sphere approaches the larger sphere, your table and chairs begin to slide along the floor and onto the interface, leaving you sitting on the outer moving walkway of the crystal sphere, orbiting slowly around the new planetoid.

* Alexa stubs out her cigarette.

<Hollyhock God> The noise and lightning cease, and out of a suddenly opening walkway appears Selim Ahroun, looking as limpid as ever.

<Hollyhock God> "Oh, hullo, E'jah," he says placidly. "Guests for tea? Is there jam?"

<Ryan Sherbrig> (What was Selim's Estate again?)

<Hollyhock God> Growth.

<Ebba> (So we have him to blame for all those emails? :D )

<Hollyhock God> I suppose that if he were more generous, those emails wouldn't be necessary…. so I guess so.

* Ryan Sherbrig nods in greeting. "Selim."

<Alexa> "Hi, Selim. I'm Alexa."

* Ebba bows.

<Hollyhock God> "Oh, Ryan. Good to see you again, and Fiona as well. And you must be the Lady Fire. And Dame Ebba; E'jah won't stop going on about y-"

<Hollyhock God> He stops, looking uncomfortable, as though someone had lit some part of him that you cannot see on fire.

<Hollyhock God> He amends his statement to "It's very nice to see you again."

* Ebba raises eyebrow

* Alexa smirks.

<Hollyhock God> It's impossible for E'jah to look embarassed, because he doesn't have a face.

<Hollyhock God> Now you see the superiority of his condensed form!

<Ryan Sherbrig> "How goes the universe creation?"

<Hollyhock God> "Oh, very well. I've been trying to see what sort of shinma I can create using a pipe organ."

<Ryan Sherbrig> "I've always been more of a fan of string instruments, myself."

<Alexa> "What's a shinma?"

<Ebba> (God and/or demon.)

<Ryan Sherbrig> (It's a kind of cheese!)

<Hollyhock God> "A shinma," explains E'jah, "is one of the most basic laws of existence. You might call them patterns governing the formation of patterns. Meta-laws."

<Alexa> "Oh. Would Narsinha and Azbogah have been shinma, then, if they existed?"

<Hollyhock God> "Meta-ymerae," suggests Selim.

<Hollyhock God> "Not in the least!" shouts E'jah, to Selim. "Personifying these concepts in that primitive way is quite inappropriate."

<Ryan Sherbrig> "It's a topic of some debate."

<Hollyhock God> "And Narsinha and Azbogah were not shinma, merely incredibly huge monsters."

<Alexa> "Mmhmm."

<Ryan Sherbrig> "Large enough to be used as the raw materials for building the Weirding Wall and Hell, respectively."

<Hollyhock God> "A shinma defines concepts such as "things are not the same as other things," at a lower level than the existence of Estates and Imperators. The influence of the shinma is necessary for Ymerae to meaningfully exist at all."

<Hollyhock God> "For example, the angel Firstborn embodies the concept of Existence within Creation. Everything in Ygg which exists understands their existence through the medium of Firstborn's nature."

<Alexa> "So, like, the possibility of Estates? The meta-Estate of Estates, as it were?"

<Hollyhock God> "Indeed."

<Hollyhock God> "As you know, things exist beyond Creation and outside Firstborn's power."

<Alexa> "I was about to say."

<Hollyhock God> 'The principle that makes this possible is a shinma."

<Hollyhock God> "Nirguna," offers Selim.

<Hollyhock God> "Stop doing that!," roars E'jah.

<Hollyhock God> "There's no such person!"

<Hollyhock God> "Well, obviously," says Selim. "As the enabler of existence, obviously Nirguna cannot exist herself."

<Alexa> "Do Creation and Outside share shinma? Do different regions of Outside have different shinma?"

<Alexa> "If that's the correct plural?"

<Alexa> "Wait, what?"

<Ryan Sherbrig> "As I said. Some aspects of our understanding of the shinma are somewhat contentious."

<Hollyhock God> E'jah, turning himself forcibly from Selim, says, "It is our belief that Creation is built upon the same shinma that underly the Lands Beyond."

<Hollyhock God> "Hence, an ability to define individual shimna and isolate their influence will let us adjust the properties of entire universes."

<Fiona> (I should probably go now. Laters people).

<Hollyhock God> "However, I cannot agree with my colleague's insistence on personifying these… entities, however traditional it may be."

<Hollyhock God> All right, we've probably done enough for one night.

* You are now known as RandBrittain

<Alexa> (Seeya!)

* Fiona has quit (Disintegrated: Fiona)

<RandBrittain> For more information on shinma, check Exalted: the Fair Folk.

* Ryan Sherbrig is now known as Benhimself

<Alexa> Yeah, I'm familiar with them from there, but a) Alexa isn't, and b) I wanted to explore how/whether they're different here.

* Alexa is now known as Uqbarian

<Ebba> (Of course, the tendency to anthropomorphize things (or of things to anthropomorphize themselves) may be one of the meta-rules of Creation…)

<Uqbarian> Though I also apologise if the cosmological digressions bore everyone else.

<Benhimself> Secondborn is the angel of anthropomorphic personification.

<RandBrittain> Well, I like cosmological digressions.

<Uqbarian> :)

<RandBrittain> And E'jah likes to talk about his work to people who understand.

<Uqbarian> How about to people who don't understand but nod and smile politely?

<Benhimself> There were a few times Ryan was tempted to just go ahead and directly segue into "So, how feasible is this little project we've had". But every other time he's just gone and gotten to the point, the rest of his Familia seems to get mad at him.

<RandBrittain> He mentioned shinma to a Cammoran once, and they were like "Is there a shinma of orgasms? Can you adjust that a bit on the next brothel?"

<Uqbarian> You don't want to turn that dial too high, or you get an Ananda situation.

<Benhimself> The problem is that that even assuming there's a dial like that is headache inducing to experts.

<Benhimself> It's like a physicist watching Superman turn back time by reversing the rotation of the earth.

<Uqbarian> OOC, I think one of us should mention Ebba's worldlet and talk about regrowing a world from it. Then also mention the Antihero Stone idea.

<Ebba> Yes, but wasn't sure where Alexa was going.

<Ebba> So didn't want to derail things.

<Uqbarian> I got distracted, I'm afraid.

<Ebba> Since she really seemed to want to get there, wherever it was.

<Uqbarian> No actual destination in mind!

<Uqbarian> Sorry.

* Ebba is now known as crusher_bob

<Uqbarian> Who's the third member of the Worldshapers?

<crusher_bob> Obviously an example of the 'walk like you know what you are doing and people will start to follow you shinma…"

<Uqbarian> And do we know whether they're all similarly enthusiastic about this project, or is it mainly E'jah's deal?

<Benhimself> Glorianna, Song.

<Uqbarian> Oh, right. Like the GWB pic.

<RandBrittain> Gloria van Dyne.

<Benhimself> Off to work. Later, all.

<crusher_bob> byeybe

<Uqbarian> Seeya!

* RandBrittain waves

<Uqbarian> So, the enthusiasm thing?

<crusher_bob> hmm?

<RandBrittain> Well, they all seemed interested at the party.

<Uqbarian> Righto.

<Uqbarian> I was thinking something like maybe Selim could take some of us on a tour of the facility while the others talk to E'jah about our plans.

<Uqbarian> Alexa's idea is that this makes our plans look less official.

<RandBrittain> Hm, that might be so.

<Uqbarian> Just a thought. Anyway, I'll head off for lunch.

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