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. ))