26 – Wards

She has to be bluffing, you think. But if she was going to follow you around all night, you might as well help her.

“I need to go get something.” You go back into your room and try to quietly go through your bag. You pull out the lock pick set Haytham gave you not long after your Exaltation. You check on Masaru before you leave the room to make sure he didn’t wake up. Fortunately he is a deep sleeper.

Aiko waits for you outside, this time with a bag over her shoulder. The two of you wordlessly head walk down the hallway.

You break the silence. “So… You know my secret? How did you find out? Because it is so secret that I don’t even know.”

“Well, then you must be an idiot.” She opens the door to the courtyard. “You don’t have an Anima.”

“What!? I… “ You silently curse all the adults that apparently thought it was a good idea to leave you in this school for so long. “I haven’t seen Chiyoko’s Anima. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t have one. “

“Chiyoko’s Anima sets things on fire. Of course she is careful with it. Also, I have seen hers before.”

“When? We have only been at school for a few weeks.” The school for obvious reason discourages Anima Flaring.

“She’s my cousin.”

Her cousin? “I didn’t know that.”

“There are a lot of things you don’t know. “

“Like what?” You reach the heavy green jade doors of the library. You haven’t been in the library yet, so you had no idea of what security the building has.

“I’d tell you, but if you are too stupid to figure it out, then you don’t deserve to know.” Aiko watches you check the door frame for wards. “Anyways, Chiyoko would kill me if I told you.”

“Wait what?” Did she know something about Chiyoko? You pull out your lock picks and unlock the door.

“The restricted books are keep behind an iron gate in the back.” Aiko opens the door and heads that way.

“What do you know about Chiyoko?” You ask, following the Earth Aspect.

“Something anyone in Creation can figure out. Except you, apparently.“ Aiko stops in front of an iron gate. “Here we are. “

“That’s it? “ You look beyond the gate, unimpressed. The Restricted Area consists of shelves of various textbooks in identical stacks. No ancient tomes or heavy scrolls. Frankly, you were expecting something more like the library in the Division of Secrets. “What could you want in there?”

When Aiko doesn’t answer, you check the gate and find thaumaturgic runes. “It’s warded against mortals and Dragon blooded.”

“It’s keyed to allow teachers of the school though. “ Aiko agrees.

“Neither one of us are teachers, we can’t get though without setting off the alarm. I wish I knew how long it will take for the teachers to get here.”

“About ten minutes.” Aiko answers promptly.

“You’ve tried this before.”

“Maybe you aren’t the only one who has trouble sleeping at night.”

“So why do you need me?”

Aiko explains. “It’s warded against Dragon blooded and Mortals. You don’t have an Anima and yet are able to keep up with us in Basic Training. Thus, you aren’t Dragon blooded or mortal. You should be able to get past the gate.” She looks embarrassed. “And I can’t pick the lock.”

“Wait. So your entire plan was hoping that somehow I was pretending to be a Dragon blood so I can get screamed at by Chuzei and attend boring classes on battles that happened centuries before I was born.” You look at Aiko like she is crazy.

“This school has a very good reputation. You have to have good connections in the Shogunate to even get in.“ Aiko changes tactics. “If you get me in there, I’ll tell you anything you want to know about Chiyoko.”

“This is stupid. Neither one of us can get into the gate without a teacher coming down. Anyway, if everyone in Creation knows this thing about Chiyoko, then I can ask Masaru.” Or your Pattern Spider.

“Masaru isn’t going to tell you anything that would piss off Chiyoko.” Aiko thinks for a moment and gets a sly look on her face. “Unlock the gate. We will just have to be quick.”

“What do you want in there so badly?” you ask. You are sure Aiko will try something after the gate is open.

“Open the gate and you’ll find out.” Aiko adjust the strap of her bag while she waits for you to open the gate.

You sigh and unlock and open the gate. Aiko attempts to push you though the gate. You use her momentum against her and drag her though the opening at the same time. You fee a tingle as you pass though the ward. An alarm goes off. The sound is deafening. Both of you fall to the floor.

“What did you do that for?” Aiko yells over the alarms. You don’t answer immediately as you have noticed a second set of wards etched inside the gate. The five signs of the maidens glow in white with your caste sign highlighted in faint green.

The headmaster must have updated the wards when you arrived at school. “We don’t have much time. Get what you need and let’s go.”

Aiko has already picked herself of the floor and started searching the room, checking stacks of books. “Yes! Here.” She stops at one stack and takes a book off the top. You are stunned as Aiko, who gives dirty looks when someone dog-ears a page, rips the pages of the book out of its binding.

You take a closer look at the stack. “Wait, is that the White Treatise?” You have seen copies of the Sorcery book in Yu-Shan, but have never managed to get your hands on the book.

“I brought a copy with me, but they found where I hid it when they searched my bags. “ Aiko compares the books she brought with her to the White Treatise and rips out the pages of one of them. She then switches the pages and glues the books back together.

As you impatiently wait for Aiko to finish, you remember when you overheard Elder Kejak asked Akachi about your sorcerous education. Akachi said that you were too young to make the necessary sacrifices to become an Initiate. “I want a copy, too.” You decided suddenly. You pluck a book off the top of the pile and hand it to Aiko.

“We don’t have time for this.” But she go ahead and switches the contents of the books. She dumps the both copies of the White Treatise in her bag. “I’m done. Let’s go.”

As you leave, she pauses by the gate. “Aren’t those the symbols for the Maidens of Fate?”

“We are out of time. Let’s go!” You grab her by the wrist and drag her though the gate. Aiko pulls her arm away and shuts the gate.

You hear the creak of the heavy jade door opening.

“Shit!” You duck behind a shelf of books.

You take out your Dragonfly’s eye and look around. Headmaster is walking up the hallway, towards the Restricted Section. Chuzei Enki is standing by the door.

“Is there another way out of here?” you ask Aiko. But the Earth Aspect is nowhere to be seen.

What do you do?

  • Try to find Aiko. She still has your book!
  • Sneak by the Chuzei and leave the girl behind.
  • Get caught and see if you can talk your way out of the situation
  • Other

((OOC: Svante isn’t the only one who has secrets….))