23 – Cuckoo

You listen the squat Earth Aspect rip into Chiyoko, you decide you need to do something. You were never one to sit by and let bullies have free reign. All of the fights you have gotten into has been against bullies.

“Excuse me?” You raise your hand. “I have a question.” The Quiver twitches, telling you that this is a bad idea.

The Chuzei ignores you and continues on Chiyoko’s various flaws.

You break out of line and go to tap the man on the shoulder. The Quiver has gone past twitching to being itchy. The Quiver doesn’t break out of line. The Quiver waits until he is needed.
When you go to tap him, the Chuzei attempts to grab your hand. You barely manage to pull your hand back before he grabs it.

He reaches out again and this time you are too slow to dodge him. The Chuzei firmly grabs you by the arm and says “What are you doing out of line, Nitei?”

“I have a question.” You try not to squirm in the Earth Aspect’s grip.

“Oh? You have a question?” The Chuzei looks amused. “Let’s hear your question then.”

“Do you have a problem with incontinence?” you ask. When the Chuzei doesn’t answer, you continue. “Because the amount of shit coming out of your mouth is amazing. I have never seen….”  The other three try not to laugh at your comment.

“Do you think this is a game?” The Quiver gives you a warning, but you ignore it.

“No, Sir. I just figured if you are going to dish it out, you can take a little too.”

The Earth Aspect studies you. He then drags you aside. In a low voice, so he cannot be overheard, he says “I know all about you, Cnead. A little cuckoo among our hatchlings. You think I don’t know why you are here? You may have fooled the headmaster, but you can’t fool me. I’ve worked with your kind before. I know what you are thinking. You think that I am some piece of shit Dragonblooded. But I do have one power over you. One power that trumps every little trick you have… I can Send. You. Home.

Your heart pounds as you consider the implications of this. If you get sent home, you’ll fail in your mission. Leave Wanahton here all alone. Akachi, Sasha, everyone would be disappointed in you. Who knows how long it will be before they send you on another mission? Maybe a whole year!

This asshole has you by the balls, you realize.

The Chuzei shoves you back in line and shouts “Give me fifty pushups now, Cuckoo!” Having no real choice, you start counting them off. “No! You are counting wrong! Every time you open your mouth the first and last words out of it will be Sir! Do you understand me? Now start over! ”

“Sir, yes, Sir!” You restart you count and remind yourself that Akachi said that you’ll only be here for a few weeks.

The Chuzei notices the other three Nitei. “What are you staring at? Get down there and join him. Dragonbloods are a team. When one screws up we all screw up! Do you understand?!”

“Sir, yes, sir!” The others join you on the floor.

“Good. Cuckoo, give me an extra seventeen pushups. Actually, whenever I tell you to do pushups, always give me seventeen more. Why? Because I fucking said so. “

“Sir, yes, Sir!” Seventeen extra pushups? This is horse shit.

“And what do you say?”

“Sir, yes, sir!” Akachi was totally lying when he said that this wasn’t a punishment. How could this NOT be a punishment?

“No, Cuckoo. Don’t they teach you manners where you are from? What do you say when someone gives you something?”

“Sir, thank you, sir!” you say, slightly breathless. Counting out loud and doing pushups at the same time is more difficult than you thought.

“You are learning, Cnead. Good job.“ The Chuzei paces in front of the group. “By the time I am done with you, you will all be thanking me. You might hate me. You might think I am a big bully. Boo Hoo Hoo. I don’t give a fuck what you think. It’s my job to turn you hatchlings into dragons. And by the Immaculates, when you leave me, you will be dragons that the Shogun can be proud of.“

He then comes to a stop in front of you. “Except for Cuckoo here. He’s a lost cause for that.” You ignore him and continue counting your pushups.

“Now pack up! We are heading to the dorms. No, no!” You and the rest of the group begin to get up from the ground to grab your duffels. “Finish your pushups first. Great Dragons, now you got to start over!“

The rest of the next few weeks continues in a similar manner. The Chuzei is rather detailed oriented and accepts nothing less than perfection. Every day is stream of repeats of the various menial task. You never realized how easy it was to screw up walking up the stairs or making your bed.

All thoughts of wandering around the school at night come to naught. All you want to do when you get back to your bunk is sleep. Except for that first day, the Chuzei does not allude to your status as a Sidereal again. Except for your nickname, Cuckoo.

Actually, the Chuzei give all of you nicknames. Masaru is “Oh shit”, from his flub on the first day. Aiko is “Worm”, short for Bookworm. Chiyoko is “Pokey”, because she is slow to get up in the mornings.

It isn’t until the third week, you realize that you no longer fight the Quiver. You simply don’t have the energy to anymore. That is when you recognize that it isn’t trying to control your actions. Svante Visscher is who you are, but Cnead Svante is simply a role you play. Once you become the Quiver, life get easier. You become one arrow in many. The Chuzei does not call you out on mistakes as much.

Still there are some advantages to being here. The three Dragonbloods in your circle are infinitely more interesting than the godbloods that were your classmates back in Yu-Shan. Masaru introduces you to the world of Manga. Each week at mail call, he receives a fat stack of them. Kill Sword Fire, Metal Gods, even Pretty Dragon Princess Meru. He reads them all and is happy to let you borrow his copies.

Aiko mostly keeps to herself, reading. Occasionally she questions you about your background. You worry that perhaps she overheard you and the Chuzei talking on that first day, but after a while she stops quizzing you and accepts your presence. Besides you, she is the only other one in the group to not get mail.

And there is Chiyoko. The majority of the time, you have to stop yourself from staring as you watch her go through her sword katas every evening. There is something entrancing about the way her fire orange hair flows as she gracefully moves though each kata. One evening, she invites you to join her. She asks Aiko to let you borrow her practice sword. Aiko pulls out her sword and takes a glance at Masaru. The Water Aspect is oblivious to the exchange, as he is rereading the newest Pretty Dragon Princess Meru.

Chiyoko teaches you the various sword katas. They are different than the ones you learned from your Sifu and you make mistakes. You feel lightheaded as Chiyoko touches your arm and gently corrects your pose. Next to Chiyoko’s flowing grace, you feel like a clumsy idiot. Yet the next evening, she invites you to join her again. Aiko willingly gives up her practice sword and seems happy to have her evenings back for reading.

You find yourself seeking Chiyoko out when you stand in line. Once you realize that what you are doing, you stop. You do not want the Chuzei to call you out on that. But after you stop, you notice that Chiyoko usually sits next to you in chow hall. It must be coincidence, you think.

You occasionally see Wanahton around the school. One day he is in the chow hall, serving the students. The next he is a trader, talking to one of the instructors. You feel guilty about your mission. So one day you purposely screw up so badly that the Chuzei sends you to the kitchens to help peel potatoes. Unfortunately where you go, the rest of the circle follows.
You sit there a peel a never-ending pile of potatoes with a dull knife, wishing for the peeler in your kitchen back in Yu-Shan. As you try to find a way to talk to Wanahton without the others overhearing, you hear Wanahton offer to work late tonight to clean out the grease traps.

Late at night you slip out of bed and head towards the kitchen. As you cross the dark courtyard, you shed your false identity and for the first time in weeks, you are Svante Visscher, Chosen of Secrets. You are surprised to discover that you feel naked wandering the halls without wearing the Quiver. Thankfully you reach the kitchen without being discovered.

Wanahton is there, cleaning out the grease traps. He grunts a greeting at you and goes to wash his hands. He leans against the counter. “How are you liking the school?”

“It’s horrible! No wonder Dragonbloods are always in an awful mood if they all have to go through this!”

Wanahton pulls out his pipe and lights it. “It’s my fault you are here. I suggested that you be sent to a school in Creation. A real school.” He sighs, smoke escaping his mouth as he does. “A Dragonblooded Millitary Academy isn’t what I had in mind.”

“Well, I can leave as soon as we finish this mission.” You look down at the floor, embarrassed. “I haven’t had time to do any searching. I think the headmaster knows something. She didn’t want Sifu teaching here.”

“She doesn’t want you here either.” You look up surprised. “I overheard her talking to one of the deans. Headmaster Raijin is one of the few Dragonbloods that aware of our existence and knows enough to resent our interference.”

“No wonder she assigned me to Chuzei Enki’s circle. That guy is an asshole.”

“I don’t know much about your Chuzei, but from what I see that is the way all Chuzei are. “ Wanahton takes another puff from his pipe and goes back to talking about the mission. “I haven’t made much progress either. I have not seen any signs of Yozi or Wyld activity here. The only unusual thing that has happened is that one of the students disappeared a few weeks ago. A wood aspect by the name of Teoh Hitomi. It was a dead-end of course. Someone saw him in the town bar a few days ago. Just another truant. It’s all very frustrating.”

The sound of the far kitchen door opens. You and Wanahton look at each other and he points as a storage room. You quickly hid in the storage room as he goes back to the grease traps. While in the storage room you can hear Wanahton talk to someone. One of the instructors is inquiring about food for an offsite trip for tomorrow. Wanahton gives her some information, but apparently that did not satisfy her. She leaves in a huff, looking for the head chef. Wanahton waits for a moment and then lets you out of the store room. “You better head back to bed before she comes back with the chef. “

You quickly leave the kitchen and head towards your room. When you reach the courtyard, you stop to make sure no one is around. The courtyard is dark on this moonless night. Clouds obscure the Maidens from view. A strong wind blows across the courtyard, stirring up dead leaves. You are about to step into the courtyard when you are given Prior Warning that walking through the courtyard would be a bad idea right now. You stop. You pull back into the shadow of the chow hall and wait.

Soon the night breeze carries the stench of blood. You freak out for a moment thinking of blood ape that attacked you on the night of your exaltation. You still carry the scars from when it grabbed your leg. Calming yourself down, you realize that what you smell is fresh blood, not the rotting blood of a blood ape. You look around for the source of the smell.

A dark figure emerges, weighted down by a heavy burden. You watch cross the dark courtyard when suddenly the figure pauses, as if it senses that it is being watched. With an audible thud, the figure drops its burden and bolts.

What do you do?

  • Run after the retreating figure
  • Investigate what the figure dropped
  • Go back to Wanahton
  • Other

((OOC: Oooo…. Something is happening! ))

((In other news, apparently Svante’s exaltation scene on the Archive Site is the number one search result for “Exalted Blood Ape” on Bing! ))

22 – First Day

“Can I have more than one?” you ask hopefully.  All the artifacts sound really cool.

“Let’s see how you do with one artifact first,”   Akachi watches you carefully as you pick up the Dragonfly’s Ranging Eye.   He replaces the other artifacts in their respective cases.  He looks over the other cases on the shelves for a moment.   He then pulls out another case.

“Two artifacts.  I’m not going to leave you completely undefended. “   He opens the case and pulls out two small bracers with starmetal etchings.   “This is Discrete Essence Armor.  You won’t be able to wear it with the armor Yeva is bringing, but you can use it when you go wandering around the school at night.    Here is a set for you too, Wanahton. “   He places a much larger case on the table.

Yeva comes into the equipment room with a large duffle bag.    She sets the duffle down on a table and pulls out a set of green jade armor.

“Wood Aspect?  Wasn’t Svante’s Great Grandfather a Fire Aspect?”  Your ears perk up as Akachi’s mention of a great grandfather.

“The circle Svante is going to join already has a fire aspect.“  Yeva explains as she fits you with the Jade Armor.   “It is not unheard of that a DB can exalt as one aspect and look like another.”    She places a helmet on your head.  “Is that tight enough for you?”

“Great Grandfather?” you ask.  The helmet feels too tight on your head, but that is how the armor is made.

“You should add a few more greats to that. “ Yeva sighs. “If Cinaed Torkil used the time he spent diluting the bloodlines actually doing his job, the North would have less of a barbarian problem.  Akachi, you must be busy today.  Why don’t you go and I can take care of briefing these two on the School.“

“None of my meetings are important this morning.”  Akachi settles on of the tables to watch Yeva work.

“That will give you time to work on that large stack of paperwork Yaogin put on your desk last night.”

Akachi shrugs “He can wait.”

“Have you eaten yet today?” Yeva asks hopefully.

“You are trying to get rid of me.”  Akachi says with a smile.

“You are dodging the question.”   Yeva turns to you.  “Did he eat this morning?”

“Don’t answer her, Svante.  Your Sifu cannot be trusted.”

“You can’t be trusted not to reveal too much about Svante’s mission.  You need to eat something.”

Wanahton watches the exchange between the two with a hint of a smile.

“You and Wanahton go on ahead.  I want to talk to Svante before he goes.”  Yeva gives Akachi a stern look.  “I am not going to tell him anything he doesn’t need to know.”   Akachi assures her.

“Fine.  But you are going to eat.  I’ll be back this afternoon.   If I find you haven’t eaten, I’m going to shove food down your throat.”

Akachi pretends to look frightened at Yeva’s threat.   She rolls her eyes and leaves with Wanahton.  You and Akachi are now alone in the equipment room.

“Svante, I owe you an apology.  I was rather short with you this morning and it really wasn’t your fault.   This whole festival…. It brings back painful memories.”

Akachi pauses for a moment before continuing.   “I want you to know that this mission wasn’t my idea and I am not punishing you for anything.”  You are confused.  How is going on a mission a punishment?   “You won’t be gone for more than a few weeks.   And Wanahton will be there if anything happens.“  Akachi looks like he want to stay something else but he doesn’t.

You realize that he is worried about you.   “I’m a Sidereal.  Missions are what we do, right?”   You try to be nonchalant about the situation, but you are picking up on Akachi’s anxiety.  Rikali died during a mission, so you knew they can be dangerous.

He smiles.   “You are probably the only Sidereal that actually wants to go on a mission.”   He holds his arms out.  “Do I get a hug before you go?”

You consider Akachi’s request for a hug.  You are going to be thirteen soon – almost too old for hugs.  But it looks like Akachi needs a hug, so you go to him.  “Be careful.  Don’t do anything crazy.   No fighting.  You’ll find that Dragonbloods are more formidable foes than god blooded children.”

“I’ll be okay.”   You are reluctant to break the hug now that you are here.  After Nanny left, Akachi has been the one to take care of you.  When you have nightmares of blood apes, he is the one who you go to.   Yes, there is the Owl and Sasha, but they are often busy with their own lives.

Akachi is like a father to you.

“We should probably get going.  It’s a good thing Yeva doesn’t have Anima Flux or she’d skin us alive.”  He raises his voice at the last sentence.

“I heard that!” you hear her yell from just outside the door.

Yeva helps you and Wanahton create Resplendent Destinies for the mission.   Then Wanahton left separately to find his own way into the school.  Your heavy duffle bag makes you sway a bit as you walk through the streets of Vanchow.  You can feel the Quiver push at you.  It’s worse than the Key.   The false destiny feels like an ill-fitting and itchy set of clothes.

“Did you know my parents?”  you ask Yeva.

“You parents are Cinead…” she starts to repeat the backstory of the Quiver.

“Not them.  My real parents.”   The Quiver itches when you clarify your question.

She stops you and looks you in the eye.  “You are Cinead Svante.   You parents are Cinead Astrid and Yeh Igoo.    You are a Wood Aspect who exalted four months ago.   You showed promise, so you have been sent by your Gent to the Blessed Isle for schooling.   Any other discussion about Svante Visscher would create paradox.  Do you understand?”

You nod wordlessly.  Both Akachi and Yeva explained about Paradox.   You still want to push the topic, but the Quiver keeps you silent.

“Good.”  Yeva continues walking and you follow, feeling frustrated.  Frustrated with the Quiver.  Frustrated with your Sifu.

You and Yeva cross a large courtyard, where other children of obvious Dragonblooded breeding are lounging around bored.  You follow Yeva into a large building and through a maze of hallways.   You start feeling nervous.  You didn’t expect the school to be so large.   Yeva enters an office and speaks to a man at a desk.  The man waves you and Yeva though.

An air-aspected woman with violet hair and pale blue skin is sitting at a large desk reading through reports.   When Yeva enters, she stands up and bows to her.  “Good morning.  Is this the boy?”
“To the point as always, Vantish.  Yes.  This is Cnead Svante.  Svante, this is Headmaster Raijin Vantish.“  The Quiver prompted you to bow to deeply to the Headmaster.

Headmaster Raijin comes around and stands in front of you.  She looks you over and says “Such lovely green eyes.  Though it is a shame you didn’t exalt as a Fire Aspect.    It would have suited your coloring better.“

“I think Wood Aspect suits him well.”  Yeva does not elaborate as to why.

“Ah.  So you want this one in Lung’s group.”   The Headmaster sits back down at her desk.   “I have already told Osamu to expect a Wood Aspect to join that group. “    She leans back in her chair and observes Yeva carefully.  “I also told him about the existence of your student.”

“That wasn’t what we agreed on.”  Yeva said in a frigid tone.

“Yes, but will not have one of my Chuzei be uninformed of the Nitei in his care.   I would not worry.  Enki Osamu has been on countless Wyld Hunts.  He understand how to work with others like you and your student. “   You realize that the Headmaster is talking about you.  She and your Chuzei – whoever that is- knows that you are a Sidereal.

“That may be, but it was not your decision to make.”

“This is my school and I will run it as I see fit.”

“Vantish, am I really the best person to try to assert your authority over?   Don’t start a war you are unable to finish. “   Yeva casually sits on the edge of the head masters desk.   “I am on your side, remember.  I chose this school for my student because it is the best in Creation.  “

Headmaster Raijin opens her mouth to say something and then thinks better of it.  Instead, she says “I apologize for not consulting you on Enki Osamu.”

Yeva waves her hand as if the argument the two woman were having was of no consequence.  “You are forgiven.   And you are most likely right about having Enki in the know.  I will trust your judgment in this matter. “   Yeva stands up.  “Though it has been a while since I posed as an instructor.   I could clear my schedule…”

“I thought you trusted my judgment?“  the Headmaster interrupted.   “Looking over my shoulder isn’t a good way to prove your trust in me.”  You realize that the headmaster doesn’t want Yeva here.   Something MUST be going on at the school.

“I would assume leaving my student in your care would prove my trust in you.”  Yeva turns to you.  “Do you remember everything I told you?”

“Yes, Sifu… “  The Quiver itches again.  “I mean, ma’am.”

“Good.  Headmaster Raijin will watch over you.  Trust her in all things.”  You have a feeling that the last part was said more for the Headmaster’s benefit than yours.  You and Yeva bow and your Sifu leaves you alone with the headmaster.

“Follow me.”  The headmaster leads you out of her office and further in the building.  You memorize the route from the Headmaster’s office so you can find it again.   You had a feeling that you will be visiting it again.  Probably later tonight after everyone was asleep.

The headmaster takes you to a room.  “In you go, Cnead.”   She then heads towards an Earth Aspected Dragonblood who was walking this way.

You enter the room and find three Dragonbloods about your age.    The two girls, obviously Fire Aspects by their orange and red hair, are practicing sword katas.   The long orange haired girl moves with a hypnotizing grace as she leads her partner though the Katas.   When she notices you, she smiles and your heart speeds up.  She is very pretty

“Hey!  It’s another boy.”  The third Dragonblood in the room is a Water Apsect, who is sitting on a bench reading something called “Kill Sword Fire.”   He sets his manga aside and looks you over.   “Fire?”

“Wood,” you reply.

“You are like Aiko.  She’s Earth, but doesn’t look like it.  But don’t worry.  We don’t judge here.”  The orange haired girl says, as she resheves her sword and walks over to you.  Aiko, the red haired girl follows.  “My name is Lung Chiyoko.   What’s yours?”

“Cnead Svante.”  You try to think of something witty to say to Chiyoko, but your mind is blank.   “You are really good with your sword.”    That was really lame.   Aiko smirks as she watches you flounder.

The water aspect hold out his hand, obvious to your daft comment.  “My name is…oh shit!”  He looks towards the door.

“FALL IN!”  The earth aspect you saw talking to the headmaster stroms in to the room.   The other dragonbloods quickly race to stand in a line.  The Quiver pokes you and you follow the others’ lead.

“Despicable.   I’ve seen legless mortals move faster than you scumbags.”   The stocky earth aspect walks down the line, radiating disapproval with each step.  He stops in front of the Water Aspect.   “I hear you have a new name, Mayim or should I say Oh Shit. “

“Sir, no, Sir.  My name hasn’t changed….sir,”  Mayim adds belatedly.

“I think the name is more fitting for a shithead like you.  What do you say, Hui?”

“Sir?” Aiko looks like she’d rather be in the pits of Malfeas than here.

“I asked your opinion, Hui.   Maybe if you get your head out of all those books, you might have a thought of your own.”

He turns towards the orange haired girl.  “Though that is better than Lung here.   If she saw a book, she’d probably stab it with a sword, rather than read it.   A disgrace to the bloodline…”  Chiyoko stares straight ahead, trying to not let the Chuzei’s comments bother her.

Your blood boils as you watch this man bully the other dragonblood.   Is this what a Chuzei is?  Just a big bully?  You were in the middle of making friends when this asshole interrupted.

What do you say?

  • Stay silent and wait your turn for bullying…yeah, like that is going to happen!
  • Make a smart alec remark

((OOC:   Custom Dialogue time!   What do you say to your Chuzei?  ))

21 – Golden Streamers

Golden festival streamers flutters in the bright sunny sky, as Akachi drags you by the hand through the crowded streets of Downtown Yu-Shan. Your hair is still damp from your shower after your Martial Arts lesson this morning. The two of you almost knock over a goddess carrying a large silk banner. Akachi says as he passes her by, not saying a word. You are surprised at this. He must be madder about you making him late than you thought.

Eventually you traverse the crowds to the Bureau of Destiny. Akachi adjusts his robes, trying to seem less like a man late for a meeting but an Elder Sidereal. His caste mark appears on his forehead, as he checks the time. “Why do you head up to Sasha and Wanahton’s office? I’ll come by after the meeting.” You nod, but Akachi is already at the stairs, taking two steps at a time.

You decide to take the long way to Sasha’s office. It is not often that Akachi leaves you alone in the Bureau of Destiny. Yet something about his manner this morning warns you that today may not be a good day to get into trouble. As you pass one of the windows, you see a couple of gods unfurl another festival banner. It depicts the five Solar Caste signs. Confused, you walk down the hallway, nodding to a few of the gods who bow as you pass.

In front of Sasha and Wahanton’s office, there sits an old fat bull frog sleeping. Unsure what exactly this fat frog is the god of, you have never seen him awake the many times you have been to this office over the past two months. Mischievously, you pick up a book from the frog’s desk and drop it by his chair. “Hummph!” The frog is startled awake. You try to not to laugh as you watch him get his bearings. No wonder the Owl does this to you so often.

His eyes slowly focus on you and the fat frog says “Well, what do you want?”

You having really gotten what you wanted, you say “I’m here to see Sasha.” You watch as the fat frog awkwardly gets out of his chair and waddles though half open door. He returns after a moment and with great effort he resettles himself back into the chair.

“So…. is she here?”

The fat frog’s long tongue shoots out. You duck as a large jar flies past your head. Removing his tongue from the jar, the frog opens the jar. The smell of salt and grease is overpowering as the fat frog pulls out a soggy insect. He pops it into his mouth and swallows the greasy thing whole.

“You still here?” the frog asks, pulling another insect out of the jar. You rolls your eyes and head back.

Sasha and Wanahton’s office is not really an office, but two desks tucked away in a file room. As you walk by the scrolls of reports on banal subjects as the inches of grass growth for the year and the hours that paint stays well, you wonder why anyone even bothers filing these unread reports.

Finally, the moldy pong of forgotten scrolls makes way for the sharp tang of tobacco. A few of the tall and wide drawers of maps have been pushed aside create the illusion of privacy. You can hear Haytham, Wanahton’s sifu, talking.

“Hey, Kiddo. How’s tricks?” Haytham asks, as he dangerously leaning back in a chair. Sasha is by Wanahton’s desk, trying to help him make sense of some paperwork.

“You are going to fall out of your chair if you keep leaning it back like that.” Akachi has repeating that same phrase to you often enough. You sit down in your favorite spiny chair.

Haytham scoffs at this. “Svante, I am a master of three Celestial Martial Arts. A student of secret Martial Arts that you are centuries away from even learning the name of. “ He leans further back in his chair. “I am not going to fall out of my chair.”

Wanahton takes a puff off of his pipe, “Sifu, I wouldn’t tempt fate if I were you.”

“Do you hear this, Svante? My student is a fourth my age and here he is lecturing me like my father.”

“Sasha,” you say, as you spin in your chair. “What festival is it outside?”

“It’s the first annual Memoriam of the Sun.” Sasha says, not looking up from the paperwork on Wanahton’s desk. “It took them almost eight hundred years to do it, but the Golden Gods managed to get the Calendar Gods to add a holiday to memorialize the Usurpation.”

“But…” You are confused. “Weren’t the Solars crazy? Who misses them? “ Well, besides Lunars, you think.

“A great deal of gods miss the Solars. Svante, there are lot of Gods that were doing well during the good old days when Solars were slowly destroying creation for fun and games,” Haytham explains. “When the Solars went away, a lot of things changed. Some god’s domains shrank. Lytec, lost over a third of his domain when the Solar Shards were locked away. Those gods are the Gold Faction Gods.”

“Though, it wasn’t all bad,” Sasha interjects. “Some god’s domains grew. With everything that has to be locked away from the Dragon blooded, Keeper’s domain dramatically grew. You forgot to stamp here.“ She points at the middle of one of the pages.

“Why did they put the stamp in the middle of the page like that when all the others stamps are at the bottom?” Wanahton complains.

You spin around in your chair and consider Haytham’s words. “But the Solars killed a lot of people. Don’t the god’s care?”

“Most Celestial gods don’t care about creation unless the Ambrosia stops flowing. There were even a few Sidereals who supported the Solar’s during the Usurpation. Most of them were killed or went ronin. I think Ayesha the only one who still works for the Bureau.”

You have seen Ayesha quietly knitting in the meetings you have shadowed Akachi and Sasha on. She doesn’t say much, but she doesn’t miss any either.

Sasha neatly piles the papers on Wahanton’s desk. “Ayesha… She cornered me at lunch the other day. She has some wild ideas. I don’t know what she hopes to accomplish.”

“I wouldn’t discount Ayesha Ura if I were you, Sasha. She was Elder Kejak’s student….” Haytham lowers his voice dramatically, “ …and lover.”

“No way!” Sasha says, shocked.

Wanahton puffs on his pipe thoughtfully. “Ayesha is a fine looking woman.”

“And crazy,” Sasha retorts. “What was Elder Kejak thinking?”

“Hey! Every man has at least one crazy ex. Anyways, the crazy ones are the best lays!” Haytham says, leaning back in his chair again.

“Haytham! Svante is sitting right here.”

“The boy’s going to be a teenager in a couple months. These are important life skills.” Haytham motions you over. “Roll your chair over, Svante. Let me tell you the secret to dealing with crazy woman like Ayesha Ura. “

“Don’t go near him, Svante. “ Sasha cautions. “Just ignore him.”

“Bah. Don’t listen to her. This is just between you and me. Oracle to Oracle” Haytham continues in a staged whisper. While you don’t move any closer to Haytham, you do stop spinning your chair. You are intrigued despite Sahsa’s warning.

“The secret to crazy woman is this. Number one- and this is where Arcane Fate gives us the advantage- is make sure they can’t find you afterwards. Elder Kejak screwed up by choosing Ayesha.” In the makeshift doorway to the office, you see a tall shadow approach and then stop just outside the door. “Best to avoid other Sidereals and Gods in the Bureau. “ Haytham explains helpfully.

“Number two. Make sure they are hot. Now this is where Elder Kejak got it right. As Wanahton said…“

“Don’t bring me into this,” Wanahton interrupts.

“…Ayesha Ura is a fine looking woman. “

“Haytham!” Sasha hisses. You see Elder Kejak standing in the doorway quietly listening.

“Luscious curly hair. Cute button nose. Nice big knockers. You know the term knockers, Svante, right?” Haytham leans back in his chair.

You cover your mouth to try to hide your giggles. Haytham think you are laughing about knockers, but then notices that you are looking behind him rather than at him.

“Ayesha is right behind me, isn’t she?”

“No. I am.” Elder Kejak, arms crossed, frowns at the Chosen of Secerts.

Haytham falls out of his chair.

You, Sasha, and Wanahton burst out laughing.

“Sir,” Haytham quickly picks himself off of the floor. “I am… I was just…”

Akachi appears in the doorway, with the first smile you seen him with all day. “I think you have had enough corrupting young Sidereals for today, Haytham. It’s best you find yourself elsewhere. “ Haytham quickly clears out of the room.

Akachi walks into the office, two red envelopes in hand. He offers the first one to Sasha.

“Sasha, you will be sent to the palace to assist the Shogun.”

Sasha is surprised. “There are more qualified Sidereals in the Violet Brier.”

“The Shogun specifically requested you,” Elder Kejak says. Sasha nods and solemnly takes the red envelope. Without opening the envelope, she rises from her chair and leaves with Elder Kejak.

“Is that other one for me?” Wanahton asks.

“Yes. Your first mission.” Akachi hands over the envelope. “There is a potential disturbance of Fate in a Dragon blooded Military Academy. It is a youth academy, so Yeva suggested that you bring Svante along. He has enough breeding to pass as a Dragonblooded if he doesn’t flare his anima. “

You jump up to your knees in the chair. “You want me to go on a mission!?”

“Careful!” Akachi cautions. “Don’t fall. Yes, you are going on a mission.” The rest of the conversation fades focus. You are going on a mission!

In your mind’s eye, you and Wanahton, dressed in black ninja outfits, sneak into a walled fortress. Together two of take out the guards standing in front of a large ornate door. Wanahton pushed open the door and you confidently stroll into the room. You past the bound and gagged dragonblooded students, who stare with a hopeful look in their eyes. A demon lord stands in the back, surrounded by his demonic minions.

“Demon!” You call out. “Let these students go!” you draw your sword. “Or else….”

“Or else what? What are two men going to do to stop me?” the demon replies. He starts to glow….

“Svante!” Your day dream is shattered by Akachi’s voice. “Are you coming?”

Akachi guides both you and Wanahton to the Bureau’s armory. He leads you past shelves of weapons racks and artifact cases. Double checking his number, he pulls out a thin black case. Akachi walks to a nearby table and flicks the latches on the case. Inside are a set of three star metal throwing knives. Akachi offers one to Wanahton.

Wanahton tests the weight of the knife. He nods impressed. “May I?’

Akachi nods and scoots you away from Wanahton and back towards the shelves. Wanahton throws the knife, embedding the blade deep into the wall. “Nice workmanship.” Akachi smiles, as Wanahton replaces the knife and closes the case.

“Do I get a starmetal sword?” you ask. You have admired Sifu Yeva’s sword for the past few months. Anyways, if you are going to kill demons, you need a sword.

“There hasn’t been a need for starmetal blades sized for twelve year olds. I’d make you one, but you will grow out of it in a few months. Yeva will be bringing by your equipment.” You are disappointed.

Akachi smiles. “Don’t worry. We aren’t going to leave here without you getting a toy too.” Searches though the various bins and cases, picking out a selections of artifacts. He lays them out on the table.

Picking up a clear amulet hanging off a long chain, Akachi says, “This is the Recorder of Everlasting Glories. It records every sight and sound around you for play back later. “

“The Dragonfly’s Ranging Eye,” Akachi,put the Recorder down and shows you a small lens attached to a node of star metal. “allows you to see though walls and other areas out of your line of sight.”

“This is my favorite one. “ Akachi puts on a blue jade ring. A small house cat appears and jumps on the table. You reach for it and the cat disappears as soon as you touch it. “The Ring of Images allows you to create visual and auditory illusions of anything you can imagine. “

“Which one would you like?” Akachi asks as he pulls off the ring.

Which artifact do you pick?

  • The Recorder of Everlasting Glories (Wonder of Lost Age pg. 61)
  • Dragonfly’s Ranging Eye (two point version) (Wonder of Lost Age pg. 59)
  • Ring of Images (Scroll of Fallen Races – Dragonkings pg. 24)
  • Hey! What’s that’s over there? (the other small non-combat one or two dot artifact option)

((OCC: It isn’t really a Sidereal game unless we go raiding Heaven’s toy box. Considering his track records with kids around his own age, they aren’t going to give Svante any combat artifacts. ))

((And now you see why Haytham isn’t Svante’s Sifu, even though he is in the same caste. ))

((In case you are wondering, Haythan and Yeva are about a couple centuries old. They are intermediate students who have been assigned teach beginner students like Svante and Wanahton.))

20 – Secrets

You dramatically burst through the door, with your wrench held high and anima burning bright. “You want the boy? Here I am! Look me in the eye and tell me the Chosen of the Maidens don’t exist, criminal scum!” The Komodo Guard, who was about to take a chunk out of Nanny, stares in shock at your entrance.

Looking deeply into the Komodo Guard’s eyes, you snatch the desire to do harm to Nanny from his mind. It is difficult for you to burden your mind with such a nasty and perverse longing. You feel unclean just knowing such a thought can exist.

“What the…?” The guard, confused, backs away from Nanny.

“You want me? Come and get me!” You point your wrench at the guard. “Tell me again how Sidereals don’t exist! Tell me that this isn’t the sign of Jupiter!” you point at the caste mark on your brow.

“Tell me how I crushed your brothers like the filth they are!“ The sounds of Wanahton fighting can still be heard from the front room.

“Tell me how I am not going to beat the tar out of you, for even thinking about harming my Nanny.” You are tired, hungry, and sore, but you will not let this scumbag hurt Nanny.

The guard stares at you for a moment. “Shit, shit, shit. I’m not taking a fall for that bitch. “ He tries to make a break for the door. The Owl sticks out his foot and trips the guard as he tries to leave. You smack him on the back of the head with your wrench. The guard falls to the ground unconscious.

Nanny’s eyes are wide you approach her. You pull the gag out of her mouth. “Are you okay?” you ask as you continue to untie her. She nods.

Rubbing her wrists and Nanny asks, “Really, Keeper. Next time I taken hostage, can you at least wait until I am free to taunt the kidnapper?”

The Owl ruffles his feathers. “Unfortunately, my usual methods of intimidation involves threats of extra homework. That wouldn’t work in this situation, so I had to improvise.”

You stand back as you watch Nanny and the Owl talk. The Owl motions you over.

“Gatherer of Windborne Children, this is Svante Visscher, Chosen of the Maidens. “

“How do you do, young man?” She begins to offer you her hand, but stops short. Looking thoughtful for a moment, she turns to Owl. “Is he…is he one of mine?” she whispers.

“Yes,” he whispers back. “He’s only be Exalted for a month.”

Nanny is dismayed at this. “He is so young! What were the Maidens thinking?”

“I was told that there had been a miscalculation.” There is a note of disbelief in the Owl’s voice.

“Do you remember me?” you ask Nanny hopefully.

Nanny looks at you sadly. “No, dear, but I haven’t been working off and on for the Bureau of Destiny for seven centuries and not figured out what they use me for.” She glances back at the doorway and then opens her arms to embrace you. You go her. You have always felt safe in Nanny’s arms.

“You mustn’t tell anyone I figured it out,” she whispers to you.

“Can I come back to live with you?” Akachi was alright, but he wasn’t Nanny.

“No, I cannot defy the will of the Maidens.” Your world turns upside. The Nanny you knew would have moved mountains for you. This Nanny, to this Nanny, you are a stranger. She breaks away from you and straightens her gown. “Keeper will watch over you. Won’t you, Keeper?”

“Haven’t I always?” You hear voices in the other room. “Hmm… I think we have run out of time. Come on, boy. Time to meet your destiny.” Owl motions for Nanny to go first. Putting a hand on your shoulder, Owl leads you back to the front room.

The front room is filled with new people you don’t recognize. Wanahton is leaning against a wall talking to a short tanned man dressed in green robes. The man is searching through the debris of the fight for something.

“That grapple technique you taught me worked great, Sifu!” Wanahton babbles, covered in a cold sweat. Wanahton’s sifu pulls out a decorative bowl out of a pile of broken knickknacks. The man turns the bowl over to empty it out.

“Too bad you didn’t remember to dodge. You’re in for a bad few days, Wanahton. That poison is nothing to joke about.” He hands Wanahton the bowl.

Sasha is standing by the door, casually cleaning the blood off of her sword. She smiles when she sees you, Nanny, and the Owl come into the room. Sheathing her sword, she says to you “I wouldn’t worry about Trailing Sorrows anymore. You missed the lions carrying her away. “

You watch the Owl and Nanny leave the apartment.  She smiles warmly at you, but all you feel is an emptiness in your heart.  Even if you see Nanny again, it will not be the same Nanny you knew. You have never felt so alone. You feel someone tussle your hair and look up to see Sasha sadly smile at you. You hug her. “It will be okay,” you hear her say. “I know you don’t really know me yet, but I’m still here.”

Everyone in the room falls silent as another man dressed in green enters the room. The only sound that can be heard is Wanahton vomiting into the bowl. The man walks over the fallen guards and the broken idols on the floor with the same disregard. He stops in the middle of the room and surveys the damage.

“I suppose it could have been worse,” the man judges. The tension leaves the room when he says this. He walks over to where you and Sasha are standing. Sasha breaks away from you, as the man looks you over with green eyes that mirror your own.

“Svante, did Trailing Sorrows strike you?” With a gentle touch, the man moves your head to get a better look at your cheek.

Still remembering the humiliation of being held by Trailing Sorrows, you nod. You see anger comes into this man’s eyes. “I…” you start to explain.

“Svante, I want you to understand that I am not angry with you. I am furious that one of the Bureau of Humanity dare strike on of my Sidereals…a child at that.”

“I thought Trailing Sorrows was stripped of her domain by the Bureau of Humanity, Elder Kejak,” a woman’s voice says from behind Elder Kejak. You recognize her from the dojo of Rikali’s memory. Iron grey hair. Red eyes.

“That does not matter. Wun Ja should not have let such an unstable element loose in Yu-Shan. “ Your stomach growls. All this talk is not getting you any closer to being fed.

The woman laughs. “My student is going to wilt from hunger before I can teach him a single kata. You can scheme later, Elder Kejak. Our growing boy needs to eat.”

Elder Kejak ignores the woman’s cheeky comment and motions her forward. “Svante, I would like you to meet Gens Yeva. Yeva is a master of the Violet Bier of Sorrows and all four of the Immaculate Arts. Elder Akachi and I have asked her if she would consent to be your sifu and she has accepted. “

The Dragon Star, the sobriquet comes unprompted into your mind as you and your new sifu exchange bows.

Yeva smiles and says, “I have lunch back at my office. And yes, Sasha, you may join us.” Sasha had stepped away, trying not to look like she was hovering over you.

After lunch, you are taken around the Bureau of Destiny and introduced to the other Sidereals and various gods that work at the Bureau. After a lifetime of being ignored, you find being in the center of attention from so many people exhausting and not fun at all. After the day you had, all you want to do is curl up and take a nap.

You see one of the women from the café walk down the hallway. You wave at the slim woman with dark curly hair, as she approaches the crowd.

“Svante?” Sasha calls you over. “Let’s go upstairs. You can see where my office is.” She takes your hand and leads you away from the crowd. You notice Elder Kejak give Sasha a slight nod of approval and moves to intercept the approaching woman. The woman glares at Elder Kejak and turns to walk down a different hallway. Elder Kejak follows.

You are silent as Sasha leads you up stairs. “It can be overwhelming meeting so many people.” Sasha comments.

“Yeah,” you say distracted. You are still thinking about the woman in the hallway. “Who was that curly haired woman in the hallway?”

“Ayesha?” Sasha looks embarrassed. “She is a Chosen of Journeys and has some radical ideas. Everyone thinks she is kind of crazy. Anyways, Wanahton and I share an office….” Your mind wanders as Sasha changes the subject.

You are walking barefoot down a moonlit beach, sandals in hand. The bag containing the scroll weighs heavily on your shoulder. You see a figure in the distance. As you approach the figure, you realize that it is Ayesha.

“Do you have the scroll?” she asks you without a welcome.

“Yes.” You hesitate before opening your bag and handing it to her. “Do not ask me for any other items from the Keeper of Locks’ domain.” You pull out the scroll and hand it to her.

Ayesha smirks, “So the old bird has grown on you. I’m surprised, Rikali. I didn’t figure you the sort to fall for the mission objective.”

You do not dignify Ayesha’s barb with a response. You turn away from the woman and watch the waves lap up on the sand.

“I’m sorry. That was out of line,” Ayesha apologizes, breaking the awkward silence.

You sigh. “It’s okay.” You say, forgiving Ayesha. “I figured you are snarky without thinking by now.”

You have dreaded this meeting, yet now that you here, you are loath to leave. You pity this woman, who has chosen a difficult path to walk. A path that sometimes you wish you had the courage to walk yourself. “You aren’t going to tell anyone that I gave you the scroll.”

“I’m not going to tell anyone that I have the scroll at all. Though…” Ayesha pauses. “Why are you helping me? “

You pick up your sandals and brush sand off of your skirt. “Perhaps I am not as willing as some to gamble on prophecy.”

((OOC: A long post for the end of Chapter two. Chapter three will start on Monday. Friday I will post something about the Yu-Shan Politics I am using for Hero. Possible as Owl explains it to Svante (if I can make it work. ) Let’s just say there is no Creation-Ruling Mandate. ))

(( Gold star for Semi-Casual for suggesting Thought Swiping Technique, Erinys for Svante’s opening line, and Ferryman for suggesting Avoiding the Truth Technique. ))

19 – Junk

You shake your head, trying to get your thoughts straight.   Find Nanny.  That is your main priority.   You enter the apartment, climbing though the hole in the broken door.  In the front room, you see that the walls are covered floor to ceiling with shelves cluttered with thousands of knickknacks.  The Owl is nowhere in sight.

Wanahton, glowing with the power of Mercury, grabs hold of one of the two remaining guards fighting him.   He throws the guard against the wall.  The guard slides down the wall and then picks himself up off of the floor.   Noticing that you entered the room, the guard starts to advance towards you.  A knife flies though the air and pins the guard’s shoulder to the wall.

“Backroom! “  Wanahton grunts as the last guard latches on to the Messenger’s forearm with his mouth.  Winching, Wanahton swings the guard into one of the curio cabinets.  The glass shatters and broken figurines scatter all over the floor.   Yet the guard does not release Wanahton’s arm.

“Go!” he shouts.  “I’ll be fine.”   With the guard still attached to his arm, Wanahton approaches the guard pinned to the wall.   The guard pulls the knife out of the shoulder and throws the knife at you.   You duck as a knife sails over your head and decide that it would be a good time to leave the room.  Carefully, you walk over the broken figurines and three insensible Komodo guards that litter the floor.

The next few rooms of the apartment consists of rooms filled to the brim with…junk.   Piles of discarded and broken babbles cover each room in the apartment.  You have to step carefully or else you will knock something over.  You can hear the Owl’s voice as you approach the last room.  You stand back lest your anima gives away your approach.

“It’s over.  Three Agents from the Bureau of Destiny are already here.   Trailing Sorrows will soon fall.  Your brothers are being detained as we speak.   Poisoning the goddess at this juncture will not help your case with the Lions.   “

“Only four of you?  From my count, we outnumber you at seven.  We haven’t lost yet, god.   Give up the boy and the goddess goes free.”

“Don’t be such an idiot.   This isn’t about numbers.  These Agents have been especially chosen to take care of petty thugs like you.”  Owl sounds exasperated at the guard’s inability to know when he is beaten.

The guard laughs.  “Are you talking about the supposed ‘Chosen of the Maidens’?  I have heard tales of the Exalts that haunt the halls of the Bureau of Destiny.   It’s all lies to frighten the rest of the Bureaus in to falling in line.  No one I know has ever seen one before.   “

“Considering the circles you move though, I am not surprised,” the owl retorts.  “So tell me, did you have to give Trailing Sorrows a discount before she was willing to hire scum like you?   Obviously, whatever she paid was too…”

Insulted, the guard interrupts, “Shut the fuck up.  Bring me the boy.   Or when I am done with her, the goddess won’t be much use to anyone.”

You take a risk and glance around the doorframe.  You see the Owl facing one of the guards.  Nanny is tied up and blindfolded in a wooden chair.   The guard looms over Nanny, his mouth near her shoulder.  You quickly move away.

“You are out of time.  Release the goddess, now. “  The Owl must have noticed the green light of your Anima.

“No.”  You hear Nanny’s chair creak as she tries to get away from the guard.

What do you do?

  • Distract the guard, by throwing something
  • Rush in, Wrench Raised
  • Maybe Owl can think of something to delay the guard.
  • Other

(( OOC:  Fight scenes are easier to write when there is personal property to destroy!

Next scene will be the last for this chapter. ))

18 – Counterattack

As you stare into Trailing Sorrows’ muck brown eyes, you remember ….

You are in a Dojo, fighting a woman with chin length iron grey hair. She would be a perfect example of an Earth Aspect of high breeding if not for the mark of Mars on her brow. You hold your sword casually in front of you and wait for her attack. Your opponent calls upon the speed of Mercury and slashes at you with her sword. You counter her attack with your own sword and kick her in the stomach. She gasps and backs off, needing regain her breath.

Back in the present, Trailing Sorrows attacks. She attempts cuff you on the side of the head, intending to knock you out. The wrench feels like an extension of your arm as you raise it to deflect the goddess’ blow. Using the momentum of your parry, you kick Trailing Sorrows in the gut. Breathless, her grip loosens and you break away from the goddess. You smirk at Trailing Sorrows as you spin the wrench in your hand. The mark of Jupiter burns on your forehead.

Trailing Sorrows draws back, wary after your attack. You are not the defenseless little boy she was expecting. Pressing your advantage, you strike again, this time at her throat. You hand is jarred as Trailing Sorrows redirects the wrench away from her and tries to grapple you yet again. You dash away from her hand and kick her in the side.

As you and Trailing Sorrows continue to trade blows, your anima rises. Despite your opponents longer reach, still you manage to get a few hits in. Bruises begin to form on your opponents arms. Still, you are not completely unscathed. Blood from a scratch threatens to blind your left eye. You ignore the urge to wipe the blood away, focusing on your opponent. Nothing matters in this moment except for Trailing Sorrows.

Trailing Sorrows changes her tactics. She repeatedly darts in for a quick feint and scurries away before you can strike her with your wrench. You get frustrated as she never seems to draw near enough for you to reach her with your wrench. Sweat trickles the side of your face. Your stomach growls to remind you that you have not had lunch yet. You still manage to dodge Trailing Sorrows attacks but not with the quickness of before.

The goddess smiles and comes in for another attack. She hooks her hands around your wrench and rips it out of your hands. The wrench clangs onto the floor and slides a few feet away from you. You realize that she was baiting you. Tiring you out.

Trailing Sorrows lunges forward. You try to dodge, but she managed to snag you in her grip again. You struggle against her. She slaps you across the face. “Now, little one. Enough playing. Time to go.”

“What do you think you are doing with my little brother?” A voice calmly calls from further down the hallway. You see Sacha walk down the hallway sword drawn. Only her violet eyes reveal her fury at goddess’ attack on you.

Trailing Sorrows pulls you closer and puts her hand around your neck. The stench of grime and gore is overpowering. “If you come any closer I will rip his head off.”

“Then you will lose the chance to learn what he knows.” Sasha raises her sword in front of her. “And you will die.”

Trailing Sorrows scoffs at Sasha’s threat, “I have waiting decades already for this incarnation. What is a few more for the next one? But you, you will lose your little brother. “

Sasha hesitates, realizing her mistake. Then her eyes narrow and says. “I suggest you Let. Him. Go.”

You feel Trailing Sorrows suddenly go stiff with pain. She screams. She loosens her grip on your throat and you are able to drop away from her to the floor. As you scoot away you see that the Owl had sneaked up behind her and clawed her back with his talons. The Owl then withdrawals from Trailing Sorrows.

Trailing Sorrows, deprived of her victim, screams in rage. She advances towards you. “Run!” Sasha screams as she steps between you and Trailing Sorrows. The sign of Saturn glitters on her brow as slashes at Trailing Sorrows with her sword. Trailing Sorrows’ retreats from Sasha. The goddess gingerly touches the slash at her throat and her fingers come away with blood.

“What do you want with Svante?” Sasha inquires calmly, bloody sword held high.

Before Trailing Sorrows can respond, the door of Apartment 3699 bursts outward. The guard escorting Wanahton goes sailing through the air and slams into the far wall of the hallway. The guard slides down the wall unconscious. You can hear fighting going on in the apartment.

From the other side of the two woman, you hear the Owl mutter about a mess. He cautiously approaches the door, peers inside, and then enters the apartment.

Trailing Sorrows uses the distraction to try to get at you again, but Sasha blocks her. The two women begin to battle, with Sasha gracefully dodging Trailing Sorrow’s darting strikes.

You pick yourself off of the floor and wipe the blood and sweat off of your brow with your sleeve. Your head is still ringing from Trailing Sorrows’ slap, but otherwise you are not badly injured. Mostly just hungry. Your anima casts a dim green light off of the walls of the hallway.

What do you do?

  • Run, as Sasha ordered.
  • Pick up your wrench and help Sasha with Trailing Sorrows. Defeating Trailing Sorrows would be a great sibling bonding experience
  • Follow Owl into the apartment. Nanny could be in there!
  • Other

((OOC: I’ll admit, I’ve always been intimidated by writing fight scenes. Let me know what you guys think!))

17 – Wrench

Why are adults always so useless?  You sigh as you reach back into the maintenance room and pick up a long wrench sitting by the door.   You quietly close the maintenance room door and start trailing Wanahton and the guard.  You keep out of sight by staying a hallway behind the two.

Fortunately, Wanahton is not difficult to follow.  He keeps up a running dialogue of complaints as the guard leads him through the maze of hallways.    You peer around the corner to see which hallway the guard was taking.  After the two disappear from sight, you dash up the hallway to the next corner.

The guard opens the door to the tower stairwell.   Wanahton begins to tell a story about a fish that grants three wishes.   You realize that the guard cannot understand Earthtongue.  You file that away for future reference.   You wait for a moment and then follow them into the stairwell.  The guard exits on the third floor.

As you quietly close the staircase door, you notice that Wanahton has attracted the attention of the other tower inhabitants.   A clerical type god opens his door after the guard and Wanahton passes.     He looks down the hallway to see what is going on.   As you pass him by, the clerk gives you a strange look.   You can hear him mumble about strange and noisy neighbors as he reenters his apartment and closes the door behind him.

“And that is why you should always throw wyld wishing fish back into the sea!”

“Get the fuck inside,” the guard barks.

“Bah.  No one likes my stories.  You’ll regret not listening to me when your kids have fins instead of hands.”

You turn the corner just in time to see the door of apartment 3699 slam.   You are a genius!   It would have taken the three of you FOREVER to find out which apartment Nanny was in.      But now you know!   Time to get back to the others and free Nanny.   And of course prove that you aren’t just a useless kid after all.

You mind wanders a bit as walk down the hallway.   Sasha will tousle your red hair and tell you how smart and brave you are.  The owl will take back all those mean things he said to you earlier.   When Akachi gets back from Creation….

A cold hand firmly grips your shoulder.   You see oily locks of hair fall forward out of the corner of your eye.  A soft voice breathes into your ear, “Ah…  Hello, little one.  We have been expecting you.”

Your heart skips a beat.  You try to wretch yourself free of the hand, but it holds you tight.    You are shoved back against the wall to face a tall slouching woman.   Tears from her muck brown eyes leave trails down her ashy grey cheeks.   The front of her gown is torn and the hem splattered with blood and mud from the field of battle.

A widow in mourning.

“Trailing Sorrows.” You whisper.  You mind races as it tries way out of this situation, but you can only hold one thought in your head.   You fucked up.

Trailing Sorrows grimly grins.  “Good. You remember.  Now come along, little one.  Time to see what else you can remember.   ”

She tries to drag you away, but you adjust your stance and brace yourself against Trailing Sorrow’s pull.   “I’m not going anywhere with you.”

The glee in her eyes betrays her melancholy voice.   “Oh, my child.  Do you actually think I am going to give you a choice?”

What do you do?

  • Try to run…..too late for that….
  • Claim your inheritance as a Sidereal.  Raise your wretch and reveal to Trailing Sorrows why Violet Bier of Sorrow is the most secret and powerful of Creation’s melee styles.
  • You still your fears.   Memories of Rakali’s Signature Style, Immaculate Water Dragon, flood your mind.
  • Your mind is alit with rage at thought of this goddess getting her way.   You might have been chosen by Jupiter, but the Immaculate Fire Dragon Style of your Dragon Blooded ancestors is almost second nature to you.
  • Other Celestial Martial Arts Style.   Give reason why it would be in character for Svante to have access to it.

OOC:   I tried to find a happy medium between punishing Svante for his impulsiveness and rewarding you for being proactive.  Also, this scene is better than having his future Sifu outright asking what MA style he wants to learn or just saying “You are going to learn and you are going to like it!”

Probably should have mentioned Svante’s Dragonblooded breeding earlier in the story.   (I did hint at it in that blurb about Nanny.)   Oh well, you will get more details on that next chapter.