45 – On Fire

You look down at the murky water and consider how to go about retrieving the body. You are a strong swimmer, but you dread going down into the dark cold water of the harbor. The water of this harbor is nothing like the clean turquoise waters of the West. Who knows how many other bodies (or Maidens knows what else) have been dumped here?

You sit on the dock and swing your legs over the water as you consider your options. You don’t see any of the lifts, pulleys, or carts used in Creation to load boats. Suddenly you have an idea. Masaru is a Water Aspect. He can breathe, even walk on, water. You can ask Masaru to help you retrieve the body.

With a plan in mind, you stand up and start to head back to the bar. You put your hands in your pockets, whistling as you go. You are feeling pretty smart right about now. You have found the leak in the Bureau of Destiny. You even have evidence proving you found the leak, if you can convince Masaru to help you get the body. And tomorrow you be going to the tournament with Chiyoko.

You imagine Chiyoko telling you how brave and smart you are. Elder Kejak pats you on the back, “we need more Sidereals like you, Svante”. Haythem says, “Svante, you saved my ass.” Akachi… it was probably best if Akachi didn’t find out about what happened tonight. He might hire bodyguard’s trail you, like Chiyoko’s father did with her. You’re sure Elder Kejak and Haythem can keep a…

The smell of smoke distracts you from your daydream. You look up and see a large crimson lit cloud bellowing from the direction of the bar. “No way,” you start to run.

When you get to the bar, it is on fire. Was there a fight and Chiyoko’s anima start the fire? The patrons are milling in a large crowd outside, watching it burn. You manage to find a way through the crowd and find you find your Dragon blooded friends being questioned separately by members of the local authorities. None of the adults talking to your friends have aspect markings, so the school has not been told yet.

Chiyoko seems to be doing most of the talking with the magistrate questioning her. You walk closer and overhear her saying, “and we went into the restaurant looking for directions and these horrible men attacked this woman. Of course we had to intervene. Would we be worth of the dragons had we stood by and let her die? Suppose it was a member of your family….“

You hear man questioning Aiko say “Blood Apes” and you walk over to her. “You summoned the blood ape?” The man asks.

“Yes.” Aiko replies sullenly.

“Aren’t you young to be a sorcerer?”

“No, I’m on the registry. Do you even have access to the sorcerer’s registry? Anyways, why are you talking to me? You should be looking for the other mercenary. ” The man rubs his face at Aiko’s comment and pretends to look over his notes.

Masaru has his head in his hands, not speaking at all to the woman gently talking to him. His is the only anima flared. “Do you have a name?” Masaru doesn’t answer. “I’m trying to help you. It would be easier if I knew your name. You aren’t going to get in trouble.”

Ika is sitting on the curb, looking pale. Her clothes are covered in blood. There is a bruise forming down the side of her face and a medic is patching up a bloody wound on her arm. The owner of the bar is screaming at Ika about her burning down his bar. Ika wearily looks up at the barkeep and makes a rude gesture at him. The magistrate’s guards forced to hold the barkeep back from physical attacking the feathered haired woman.

There is a dead mercenary, covered in cloth, laying on the ground. Haythem and the other mercenary are not in sight.

“There are anima flux burns on that man’s body. I need to know what happened so I can help you. Was there anyone else here?“ You hear the woman tell Masaru.

“No.” Masaru finally answers.

What do you do?

  • See if you can talk the authorities into letting your Dragon blooded friends go
  • Race to the school to find the Chuzei and tell him your side of the story before news of this gets to him.
  • Go to Yu-Shan to find a responsible adult Sidereal that the authorities will listen to.
  • Find Haythem and/or the missing mercenary.
  • Other

((OOC: I feel like I railroaded you guys in the last post with the whole Masaru thing. So I gave you lots of options for this next post. Of course I also gave you lots of problems to deal with. ))

((Updated with more eavesdropping! ))

44 – The Harbor Docks

You need to follow the god and see where he dumps the mercenary’s body.      You reluctantly force yourself out of the safety of the dark alley and look around to discover that the god is nowhere in sight.   You don’t have much time.   As soon as the god disposes of the body, he will dematerialize and you will not be able to find him without exposing yourself.   You try to think of where you would dump a body if you were a murderer.   A humid breeze carries the stench of rotting wood and salt come from the harbor.  You head for the docks.

There are few people milling around the harbor docks this time of night.   A group of drunken sailors stand nearby one of the merchant ships, helping a fellow sailor stand upright as he pukes on the street.  You head away from the sailors to the more deserted areas of the docks.   The god would not want to be seen by anyone when he dumps the body.  You almost give up your search when you find the god shoving the canvas wrapped body into a large crate.   He slides the cover back on the crate and with a groan, he begins to shove the crate off the dock.

You know that the god cannot see you, but your heart still pounds in fear as you approach the murderous deity.    You need to find everything you can about this god before he dematerializes.  You close your eyes and listen for the vibrations the god makes as his actions influence the loom.  You hear nothing but silence.  The god does not have a presence on the loom.   Haythem said that he could not track the god with charms.     Apparently this was not incompetence on the Haythem’s part, but something to do with the god.

With a splash, the crate hits the harbor water.   The god rubs his palms and notices that his hearthstone is exposed.   The pendent is no longer glowing purple, instead sparks of rainbow light swirl around the god’s hearthstone.  He quickly tucks his hearthstone pendent back into his robes and then dematerializes.

You walk to the edge of the dock and look down.   You cannot see the crate in the dark, murky water of the harbor.

What do you do now?

  • Try to open the crate and fish the body out of the harbor by yourself.
  • Head for the Yu-Shan gate and tell someone what you found
  • Head back to the bar and see what is going on with the others
  • Other

((OOC:  There is a really easy way to get to the body involving the art of delegation.  😉  ))

43 – Loose Ends

You now know understand why you weren’t allowed to spend much time with Haythem.   The man was so stupid, it’s a wonder that Jupiter bothered exalting him.   How was this man Wanahton’s Sifu?  You sigh as you realize that if Haythem’s mission was to figure out who kidnapped you, then it would help you if he succeeded.

“Are they trying to kill each other?”    Your life might be easier if they did kill each other.

“No,” Aiko stops concentrating on the coin and says, “You are going to follow the mercenaries?”

“I’m thinking about it.”

“Go.  You are the only one that can follow them without being tracked.  We can handle things here.”

You look towards the bar were Chiyoko was sitting alone.  You said that you’d be right back.  You didn’t really like the idea of leaving Chiyoko in the bar with two idiots and the second mercenary.

Aiko grabs your shoulder.   “I’m not going to let anything happen to Chiyoko.  Now go!”  She shoves you in the direction the mercenaries were walking.  “If you wait any longer you will lose them.”

“Okay. Okay!”   You quickly walk away from Aiko and step outside of Fate.   You run to catch up with the mercenaries and just avoid running into one of the mercenaries as you turn a corner.    You consider following that mercenary back to the bar, but decide to move forward.   The possessed mercenary was the one that you needed to follow.  You have to trust Chiyoko and the others to take care of themselves.

You follow the possessed mercenary as she walks further and further into the more dangerous parts of town.  As she walks along the docks that line the harbor, the possessed mercenary will occasionally stumble and fall.   Once she even whimpered as she picked herself back up after scraping up her arm.  Eventually, she turns down a dark alley.    You stop at the mouth of the alley for a moment.   The alley is unlit and smells like rotting cabbage.   A rat scurries towards the streets, disturbed by whatever the mercenary is doing.   You cautiously enter the ally.

You find the possessed mercenary prying out a loose stone on one of the buildings.   She pulls out a heavy canvas tarp.   The mercenary lays the tarp down on the dirty alley street.   The lack of light forces you to move closer, as you are confused as to what exactly the possessed mercenary is doing.   She kneels down on the tarp and removes her belt knife.

You watch in horror as the possessed mercenary suddenly guts herself with the knife.   You back into the wall of the building behind you and place a hand over your mouth to stifle your scream.    The mercenary falls to her side and you can smell blood and shit as she bleeds out onto the tarp.   You taste blood and almost freak out until you realize that you bit your own hand.   Still in shock, you watch as a god rises from the body of the mercenary.   He is dressed in the fine rich robes of a clerk of the Celestial Bureaucracy.  He steps daintily around the pools of blood to avoid getting his shoes dirty.

As soon as he leaves her body, the woman starts to sob.  The god shushes the woman, as if he is her father, not her murderer.   “It won’t be much longer. “  The god picks up the bloody knife from where the woman dropped it.   A purple glowing hearthstone pendant falls out of his robes as he bends over.

“No more pain.”   The clerk says, as he slits the woman’s throat.  “No more loose ends.”    He drops the knife on the tarp and wipes his hands clean on one corner.   Starting with the bloody corner, the god rolls up the corpse of the woman.   With a groan, the godly clerk heaves the tarp on to his back.   “This was so much easier when Trailing Sorrows was around to do the dirty work.”   He carries the corpse away in the direction of the harbor.

You hide in the shadows of the dark alley, shivering despite the warm night air.   You have sat in on a few conversations with Sasha and other Chosen of Endings when they talk about death.   After hearing their discussions, you walk away knowing that death is part of the natural order of life.   That death is not a scary thing and it is possible to die with dignity.

There was no dignity in this woman’s death.  No dignity in bleeding out in a dark alley, betrayed by the god you worship.

As you calm yourself down, you realize that you have seen that god before.   When you were searching for Nanny when she was kidnapped, he was the god that stuck his head out of his apartment.    You thought he was some random god that lived there.   Instead he was working with Trailing Sorrows.

And you bet he works for the Bureau of Destiny, too.

What do you do?

  • Try to follow the god and see where he drops the body
  • Head back to the bar and see what the others are doing. Tell Haythem you know who the spy is
  • Head back to the bar and see what the others are doing. Don’t tell Haythem you know who the spy is.  You’ll report that yourself
  • Make a beeline for the Yu-Shan gate. This is too important to wait.
  • Other

42 – Spit

“Yeah…. Nothing can go wrong with that plan.” You comment sarcastically. Why are all adults so stupid? It’s up to you to think of a plan. You remember a spell you read in the White Treatise. “How about you cast Coin of Distant Vision, and hide it inside the package. Then you can track where the mercenaries go after that.”

“That would work if I was a sorcerer… Wait a minute, how do you know about that spell?” Haythem looks at you suspiciously.

“You aren’t a sorcerer?” You were surprised. Most of the older Sidereals were initiated Sorcerers.

“My Trail of Fire didn’t go so hot. Don’t change the subject, Svante. How do you know about the spell?” Haythem asks sternly.

“Aiko can cast it. She was the one that told me about the spell.” You lie. You really hoped she could cast it. You leave Haythem next to his crate and walk on over to where the girl was impatiently waiting.

“Well?” Aiko asks annoyed. “Is he going to deliver it?”

“Yeah… There is a complication. He’s a Sidereal like me.”

“Maidens, Svante. It’s hard to be undercover when you tell everyone.” You jump when you hear Haythem voice behind you. You didn’t hear the Oracle follow you.

“Really?” Aiko examines Haythem with interest and then wrinkles her nose. “If he is a Sidereal, why does he smell so bad?’

“If you are going to be a bum, you might as well go all the way.” Haythem explains.

You wince in embarrassment. Haythem wasn’t making the best impression. “I need you to cast the Coin of Distant Vision. We will sneak it into the package to track where the mercenaries take it.”

“Wait. Are we on a secret mission now?” Aiko’s eyes widen in excitement.

“You betcha, girl!” Haythem answers brightly.

“That is so cool.” Aiko spits in her palm and closes her eyes to focus. A small black coin with arcane runes appears in her hand. “Here you go.” Aiko presents spit covered coin out to you.

You really don’t want to touch a coin made of Aiko’s spit. You hold out the package to Aiko. “How about you put in the package? That way you can place it in the best place.”

Aiko smirks and opens the package to place the coin inside. She hands the package over to Haythem. “Please be careful with the package. The coin can be used as an arcane link to me.”

“I’ll be careful.” Haythem assures Aiko as he tosses the package in to the air and catches it again. “So, who am I delivering this to?”

“There is a feathered hair woman sitting at the bar. Give the package to her.” You say.

“Wait… You are telling me you are delivering drugs to Ika?!? “ Haythem rolls his eyes up to the night sky. “Why do you bitches hate me so much?” The oracle sighs dejectedly and heads towards the bar.

You and Aiko wait in awkward silence, as Haythem argues with the bouncer to let him in. Aiko wipes her spit covered hand on your shirt.

“What the fuck! That’s disgusting!” You back away from the girl and examine your shirt sleeve to see how wet it is.

Aiko snickers. “What? I needed to clean my hand off.”

“Use your own shirt.”

“It’s just a little spit.”

Sometimes you think Aiko is difficult on purpose. “Let’s focus on the mission. Haythem is inside. What is going on with the package?”

“Oh yeah.” Aiko closes her eyes. You keep an eye on the comings and goings around the bar.

“Shit. Ika and your Sidereal friend are arguing.”

“What?” Was Haythem going to throw off the plan? “What are they arguing about?”

“Someone named Rikali?” Aiko closes her eyes again. “They are attracting attention. The bouncer is going to throw the bum out. “

“Where is the package?”

“It’s on the floor next to Ika’s bag.” Aiko answers.

You sigh. “Are we going to be this stupid when we grow up?”

“Dragons, I hope not.” Aiko replies vehemently.

The bar door opens. Instead of Haythem, the mercenary leader and her partner emerge.

You grab Aiko by her sleeve and hide deeper into the shadows. “Do they have the coin with them?” you whisper to Aiko

“No.”

“Shit.” You watch the two mercenaries walk away from the bar.

What do you do?

  • Walk outside of fate and follow the mercenaries.
  • Go into the bar and see what the fuck is going on with the adults.
  • Other

41 – Plans

“Umm…”  You try to think up a way to explain why you are here without getting in trouble.   Then you realize that if Haytham is here on a mission, then maybe he is investigating Ika and the mercenaries.   You need to find out what Haytham’s mission is to be sure.

“My friends and I stumbled across a drug smuggling operation and decided to investigate.  We tracked them to this bar.  We are in the process of collecting enough evidence to go to the Magistrate’s office.“  You added that last part to seem more responsible.   You weren’t going to do anything rash, like deliver cocaine to a smuggler in a dive bar in a bad part of town.

“Wow.  How exciting!   That’s a real Oracle work right there!”   Your hands tightly squeeze the cocaine packet behind your back at the other Sidereal’s patronizing tone.  You are starting to realize why Sasha doesn’t like Haytham.

You take a deep breath and calm yourself down.  You still haven’t figured out what Haytham’s mission is.  “What are you doing here? “

“Me? “  Haytham shrugs.  “You might say that in a roundabout way, I’m investigating your kidnapping.  ”

“Oh!  You mean the mercenaries in the bar?”  Why did no one mentioned to you that there was investigations going on into your kidnapping?  You were the one that was kidnapped.  You have a right to know.

“They didn’t see you, did they?”  Haytham nervously glances back at the bar.

“No.   I was walking Outside of Fate when they came in.”

“Good boy!  I don’t want this to turn into a rescue mission.  Elder Akachi would hang me by my testicles, if anything happened to you.“ Haytham runs his hand though his hair.   “Let’s not push our luck.  You and your little friends should get out of here before you are seen.”

“But, we aren’t done with our investigation!”  And you still need to deliver the cocaine.

“Svante, I know you and your friends are playing a game, but this is serious…”

“A game!”  Your pride is hurt.  “No!  There is really a drug deal going down in the bar. See!”  You hold out the wrapped packet of cocaine.

With a confused look, Haytham exposes the package in your hand.   His eyes widen when he sees what it is.  “It can’t be.”  He pokes his finger into the package and rubs his dust covered fingers together.  “No way!”  He puts his finger to his mouth and tastes the cocaine.  “Shit!  That’s some pure shit.  Where did you get it, Svante?”

“It doesn’t matter where I got it.”   You say, not wanting to tell Haytham about Ika.   “I just need to deliver it to someone inside.”

“You are doing the drug deal?!”  Haytham bursts out laughing.  “Oh gods.  Jupiter sure knows how to pick ‘em!”

“How long does it take to get a bum to deliver something?” Aiko’s annoyed voice fills your ears.   “Do you need me to do it for you?”

“Shit.”   You are running out of time.  “I am not doing a drug deal, I’m just getting rid of it.  Can you deliver this to someone inside the bar?  I can’t do it myself because the mercenaries are looking for me.”

“Shit, if you need to get rid of it, I’ll buy it off of you.”

What would Haytham want with Cocaine?  “Why don’t you just take it inside and we will go home and you can figure out who kidnapped me?”

“Wait!  I have an idea.”  Haytham paces for a moment, mumbling to himself.  “Yes.  That might work.  It’s risky, but then no risk no reward.”

The Oracle turns back to you.  “Svante, I believe you just might be the solution to a problem I’ve been having.   You see, I’ve been trailing these mercenaries for weeks, hoping that they will lead me back to whatever goddess they worship.   “

You are confused.  “How am I supposed to help you track her down?  Can’t you just use charms?”

“No.  Whoever this goddess is, she has been covering her tracks well.  Which makes sense if she works in the Bureau of Destiny.  She knows how Sidereals operate.  That is where you come in.“   He takes you by the shoulders.  “Svante, I need you to deliver the cocaine.”

“What!  No!  The mercenaries are going to see me and try to kidnap me.”

“I know!   And they will take you to the goddess!  See!  The plan is brilliant!”  Haytham looks pleased with himself.

“Except for the me getting kidnapped part.”

“Don’t worry about that.  I’ll be walking outside of fate with you the whole way.   And then when we find the goddess, we will interrogate her and bring her back to Yu Shan.   The bureau rat will be found.   You’ll be safe from any future kidnapping attempts.  And I’ll finally be able to take a bath.”

What do you?

  • Go along with Haytham’s plan. If this goddess is responsible for your and Nanny’s kidnapping, you want some payback
  • Convince Haytham that he should deliver the package. Haytham is crazy if he thinks you are going to get yourself kidnapped again.
  • Go with the original plan of finding a bum to deliver the package. The next bum you find can’t be a Sidereal, too.
  • Other

40 – The Bum

You are in shock after this conversation.   Ika wouldn’t sell you to Trailing Sorrow’s friends, would she?   You realize that you really don’t know much about Ika, though the conversation you just heard was rather enlightening.   A criminal.   You shouldn’t be surprised as she was smuggling illegal goods into Creation.  No wonder she and the Owl haven’t talked in years.

Either way, the best way to get out of this situation is to pass off the Cocaine and head back to the dorms.   Go with Chiyoko to the Martial Arts Tournament and when you get home, talk to Sasha about the situation with Trailing Sorrows.  No need to drag your Dragon blooded friends into this mess.

You wish you had a way to communicate with Chiyoko about your intentions, but you dare not risk coming back into fate inside the bar with the mercenaries around.   When the next group of customers leave the bar, you slip out with them.    You walk towards Aiko, who is standing across the street looking bored.  After you cross the street, you smell dried blood.

“You called the blood ape here?”  Of course, Aiko would find any excuse to call her blood ape.

Aiko is startled by your sudden appearance.  “Chiyoko asked me to.   She said there were mercenaries looking for you.”

“I need you to tell Chiyoko to come outside.  Where is Masaru?”

“At the backdoor.  The mercenary that left the bar is keeping watch on it.”

“We are going to give the dust to Ika and get out of here.”

Aiko digs the package, now wrapped in an old towel, out of her bag.   “How are we going to get the stuff to Ika?   Do you want me to drop it off?”

“No, I was thinking I’d pay some homeless person to deliver it.  The mortal won’t remember that who I am and there is no way to track it back to us.”

Aiko considers this and nods in agreement.   “There are bums all over this side of town.  There is even one in a crate at the end of the block.”

“Great.”  You take the package and walk over to the end of the block.   You see a set of bare feet sticking out of one of the wooden crates.  As your approach the crate, you get the overpowering stench of unwashed body and cheap liquor.

“Hello?”  you ask uncertainly.   You suppress the urge to cover your nose.  Maybe this was a bad idea.

“Leave me be.  I ain’t dun nothing to you.”   The bum slurs as he retreats further into his crate.

“I don’t mean to bug you, but I need you to do me a favor.”

“Favor? ….  Wait a minute.  Svante?”  The drunken slur falls from the bum’s voice and he pokes his head out of the crate to get a good look at you.   You meet the bum’s green eyes and realize that he was Haythem, Wanahton’s Sifu.  “Shit, Svante.  It is you.”

Fuck!  “What are you doing here, Haythem?”  you try to ask casually as if you weren’t just going to ask the Sidereal to deliver cocaine for you.

“I’m working.  What are you doing here, Svante?  This is not a good place for you to be.”

What are you doing here?

  • Nothing! *hide package of cocaine behind your back*
  • Tell Haytham everything about Ika, the mercenaries, and Trailing Sorrow’s Associates
  • I’m doing a favor for a friend. Hey, can you deliver this package to the bar across the street?
  • Other

39 – Inheritance

“Were you expecting company?” you ask Ika.

She sighs and says “Yes, she wasn’t supposed to arrive…”

“They are here now.” Chiyoko interrupts.   “And they are armed.”

“Armed?” Ika’s eyes widen.   She picks up her bag and finds a seat at the bar.  You get up from the table.

“Where are you going?”  Chiyoko asks.

“I’ll be right here.  You’ll just won’t see me.”  You head towards the bathrooms and step outside of fate.   As soon as you do, the threat of violence fades.  When you reenter the bar’s main room, one of the mercenaries is seated at the bar next to Ika.  The other two are flanking her.

“You are here early… and you brought friends.     I don’t have the goods yet, because you scared my contact off.” Ika complains.

“You should stop hiring cowards.” The leader wrinkles her noise.   “I always forget how bad Creation smells.”  You move to get a better look at the mercenary.   The woman’s eyes glow with a dull light.  You realize that some god is possessing her.   You wonder what god the mercenary worships.

“I’ll hire who I want.  You need to stop breathing down my neck all the time.  I always get the job done, don’t I?”

“I just am managing my investments.   I’ve spent a lot of resources protecting you, Ika.  ”

Ika looks away.  “Will I ever get done paying you back for that?  Look.  I am still going to get you the dust.   As I said, I was meeting with my contact and your friends here scared him off.   So, have your puppets run along and let I’ll finish my job.  We will both be happier that way.”

The possessed mercenary smiles.   “You think I am here with my worshipers just for dust?   I heard a rumor.   Apparently you were seen in a café with a young man.   He doesn’t happen to be your contact you were meeting?”

Ika pauses mid-drink.  “A kid?  No.  Why would I use a kid to transport dust?  That’s stupid.”   Of course now she realizes this.

“Hmmm…   A shame.    Apparently this particular child is difficult to find.   Certain individuals would pay a lot to have him.  If you could help me find him I’d be willing to forgive your debt to me.”

Ika sets her drink down and turns towards the possessed mercenary.   “Would you really think I’d stoop so low to sell a child?”

The possessed mercenary grabs Ika and throws her back on the bar.   You hand immediately goes to the hilt of your sword, memories of the sleeping girl flooding your mind.   You take a deep breath and push the memories away.   If these mercenaries are looking for you, then revealing yourself will make the situation worse.

You look towards Chiyoko and that she has her hood back up.  She is watching the bartender who does nothing more than move the nearby glassware out of the way.   The rest of the patrons pretend not to notice the argument.

“Ika, Ika..   Don’t fuck with me.   If it wasn’t for me, Trailing Sorrows would have found you long ago.  Don’t think just because Trailing Sorrows is a statue now doesn’t mean her associates aren’t still looking for you.  What would you do if I wasn’t around?  Run to daddy?  He would never take a criminal like you back.”  The possessed mercenary leans in to whisper in Ika’s ear.  “I am all that standing between you and your mother’s enemies.  I’m the only one that saw something worth saving in your lousy ass.  “

Trailing Sorrows has associates!?   You remember the goddess that kidnapped Nanny.   You hoped that business with the scroll would be over with the goddess serving a thousand year sentence as a stone statue.

Ika closes her eyes. “You’re right.  You’re right.”  The feathered haired woman sounds cowed.

“What do you know about the boy?”

“I don’t know.  He just wanted to talk to me.   Say he’d buy me lunch, if I did.”

“What did you talk about?”

“My parents mostly.”  Ika shrugs.

“Will he contact you again?”

“Probably not.  He seemed disappointed that I don’t remember much about my mother.  ”

“If he see you again, will you contact me?”

“Of course,” Ika whispers.

“Good girl.”   The possessed mercenary lets her go.  “Finish with your contact and collect the dust.  We will be just over there if you need us.”  The glow fades from the mercenary’s eyes and she stumbles around disoriented.   The one of other mercenaries lead her to a table near the door.  The second mercenary heads out the front door.  You see Chiyoko silently mouth to Masaru to follow him.

“Shit. Shit. Shit.”  Ika curses.

What do you do?

  • Give Ika the dust. The sooner the mercenaries have what they want the sooner they leave.
  • Forget the dust. You, Chiyoko, and Ika need to get out of there.  No sense taking chances.
  • You aren’t so sure about Ika anymore. Try to leave without the feathered haired woman.
  • Other

38 – The Dive

“We are not selling drugs.”   You have enough trouble being a thief.  No need to add Drug Dealer to the list.

“You are going to turn it into the Chuzei.” Aiko says in disgust.

“We are going to throw it into the sea?” Masaru asks hopefully.

“No.  I’m going to track Ika down and see what she was going to do with the cocaine.”   You gingerly pick up the packet in your hands and close your eyes.  You relax your mind and the thread of fate come into focus.   You search for the one for the cocaine packet.

“I have an address.”  You hear a rustle as someone gets some paper. You recite the address and open your eyes.   “Did you get that?”

“Yes.”  Aiko reads to you the address that she wrote down.

You nod and notice that Chiyoko seem a bit uncomfortable.    She gets up from the bed and picks up her jade sword.  “What is it?”  you ask.

“It’s nothing.”    She says as she belts on her sword and grabs a long hooded cloak.  “Let’s go.”

The address leads you to a dive bar at the outskirts of the city.   It is a two story building made up of weathered grey wood.   The peeling paint on the glass window declares the bar “The Sailor’s Grotto.”   You attune yourself to the fate threads in the area to be given Prior Warning of danger.

“You guys wait here.  I’ll see if she is in there.”  You start towards the bar, when Chiyoko grabs you by the arm.

“Yeah…. You aren’t going into that place alone.   Aiko, you and Masaru stay out here and let us know if this Ika person shows up.”   Aiko nods.   You and Chiyoko head towards the bar.

“I could have handled it.”

“I’m sure you could have, but why go in without a second set of eyes if you don’t have to?”

You shrug and open the door and find a man sitting in a chair by the door.  “Heeyyy.  The Fruit Cup Stand is five blocks down, kiddos.”

“We aren’t here for Fruit Cups.”   You say annoyed.  “We are looking for someone.”

“Trust me, you don’t want any of the lot who drinks here.”  The bouncer waves his hands dismissively.  “Now scat!”

You open your mouth to say something, when Chiyoko lowers her hood to reveal her aspect marks.   “I think we can take care of ourselves.”  She ignores the bouncer and heads into the bar.   The bouncer doesn’t even try to stop her.

“We were never here.” You add belatedly and hurry to follow Chiyoko.   “Revealing yourself wasn’t the smartest idea.”

“Why?  No one knows who I am here.  I’m just another Dragonblooded student.  This place smells awful.”   The bar stinks of mold, piss, and liquor.   You look around for Ika but don’t see her.

“Are you sure she is supposed to be here?” Chiyoko hold her hand against her nose.

“Hopefully.   I wasn’t able to get a time frame.”  You and Chiyoko sit down at one of the small tables in the back.    You realize that have what you wanted – You and Chiyoko alone.

“This place is boring.   I don’t know why adults like to hang out at bars.” You comment.

“I don’t think any of these adults actually want to be here.”  Chiyoko points out.   Every adult in the bar seems to be unhappy and staring down at their drink.   You watch the bar fill up as the evening turns into night.

“Do you do a lot of waiting as a Sidereal?”  Chiyoko asks.

“I don’t do much of anything.” You admit. “Akachi won’t let me go on any more missions in case I get hurt.  Everyone treats me like a kid.  ”

“You too?!   My father is the same way.   He actually sent bodyguards to the school with us.   It was so embarrassing.   The Chuzei had to send them back.  “

“Maidens. I glad Akachi didn’t think of the same thing.”

“Svante?”  Chiyoko asks timidly.   “When you use your information gathering charms, do you ask about me?”

Where did that question come from?  “No.  Well… once.”

Chiyoko seems disappointed.  “What did you ask?”

“I don’t want to tell you.  It’s stupid…. But I asked if you liked Fruit Cups.”

“What?”  Chiyoko laughs.   “Why didn’t you just ask me?”

“I told you it was stupid!  I just really wanted to make sure you like them before I offered you one.”

Chiyoko grips your hand.   “Svante, can you promise me something?”

“Um…  What?”

“If you want to know something about me, can you just ask me?” She blushes.  “One of the things I …um… like about you is that you don’t know everything about me.   In Meru, everyone knows every detail about my life.   Everyone talks about me, but no one talks to me.  You are one of the few people I can actually tell things to. “

You hesitate. “I’m not sure.  What if…”

“Please?”

It seems to be really important to her.   “Okay.   I promise.”

Chiyoko smiles and squeezes your hand.   You sit together in the dive bar, holding hands.  You wonder how to go from holding hands to kissing.  At the Yu-Shan Gate and the beach, Chiyoko made the first move.  She wasn’t doing anything now.  Was it your turn to start the kissing?  Do couples switch off?

Maybe you should have paid more attention to Akachi when he tried to give you advice earlier.   Though most of his advice seemed to be about listening, and manners, and being polite.  You’re pretty sure he didn’t say anything about kissing.

“I wouldn’t worry too much.”  Chiyoko says.  “You didn’t know that this woman put the stuff into your bag, so it isn’t your fault.”

“I wasn’t worried about that.”  You admit.

“What are you thinking about then?”

“This.”  You decide to just go for it.   What’s the worst that could happen?

As you lean closer, you recognize that the worse that could happen is that Chiyoko could ignite her anima and set you on fire.   You decide not to push your luck and very carefully press your lips against hers.   You start to move away but stop yourself.

“At least she didn’t set me on fire.”  You hear Chiyoko giggle and realize you said that out loud.

You can’t think of a clever way to cover for your slip-up, so you kiss her again.   This kiss was more involved than the previous one, so at first you are unsure what exactly to do.  Then a shadow of an old memory comes to you and you use that as a guide.   You relax and begin to notice little details about Chiyoko.  Like how she tastes of taffy.   You gently run your fingers through her orange ponytail.

You don’t know how long you have been kissing when Chiyoko suddenly breaks off.  She presses her forehead against yours.  “He’s so annoying.”   She whispers.   “Masaru says that a feathered woman is heading towards the bar. “

It takes you a moment comprehend what she is saying.  “Maidens.”  You scoot your chair away from Chiyoko’s.  You fold your hands on the scratched up table in front of you, hoping that it makes you look more mature.

Ika enters the bar, looking disheveled and discouraged.  The feathered haired woman is carrying a heavy bag.  She searches the bar for an empty table and is startled when she sees you.   With a relieved smile, she walks over.  “I’ve been looking for you all over the city and when I give up, here you are.”

“You left without paying for your food.”   You remind her.

“I figured with your big Yu Shan salary, you could cover it.”

“I don’t get a big Yu Shan Salary.  I have an allowance.”

“Oh.”  She sits down at the table, placing her heavy bag on the floor.   “To be honest, I didn’t have the money to cover the food anyways.”

“Then why did you order three espressos!?”   That was excessive, if you weren’t planning on paying for the food.

“I have a late night ahead of me and needed them to stay awake!”  Ika settles in her chair.  “Fine.  Give me the dust and I will pay you for the fucking espressos and get out of you and your girlfriend’s hair.”

“Not until you tell me what is going on.”  Obviously she was up to something.  If she gets into trouble, it could put the Owl in a bad mood.

“What?  You going to mother me now?  You really don’t want to get involved in my business, kid.  Give me back my dust.”

“If you didn’t want me involved you shouldn’t have put the dust in my bag.”

“I wouldn’t have if I had known you were my mother’s new incarnation.”  She throws her hands up.  “What are you, thirteen?    What are you going to do with the dust?   If you were going to turn it in, you wouldn’t be here.”

The bottom drops out of your stomach as you feel the thread vibrations that herald violence.    You are in danger!

“There are three armed mercenaries heading towards the bar,” you hear Masaru’s voice whisper in your ear.

What do you do?

  • Leave the bar with Chiyoko
  • Hide and see what is going to happen
  • Stay at the table and try to defuse the situation
  • Other

37 – Board Games

You nervously flag down the waiter.  “My acquaintance left me here with her share of the bill.   I don’t have enough money to cover her, because I was about to head into Creation.  Can I pay for her share when I come back to Yu-Shan tomorrow?”

The waiter looks annoyed.  “It will come out of my paycheck.”

“I’ll be back tomorrow and I will give you a really big tip.” You reassure the waiter.

The waiter looks you over and sighs.  “Okay, Kid.”

You pull your money pouch out of the front pocket of your bag and start to pile Jade coins into small stacks.  When you have enough to pay for the cake, the waiter slides the coins off the table and into his hand.   “I start my shift in the afternoon.”

You thank the waiter and grab your bag and head towards the gate.  The line at the Vanchow gate is rather long, but you catch the eye of one of the Celestial Lions and he waves you through.  You nod in thanks and head past the front of the line.   As you are about to enter the tunnel, you notice that Ika is being detained by the other two lions.  They are searching through her bags.   You consider asking her for the money she owes you, but decide not the get involved with whatever business she has with the Lions.   You turn away from Rikali’s daughter and start to head down the tunnel.

“Hey!  Wait!”  You hear her yell, but you ignore her and continue down the tunnel.

Later that evening, while everyone is playing a board game, you tell your friends the story of what happened at the café.  You open a bag of taffy you bought on your way to the school.

“Are things really that expensive in Heaven?” Chiyoko asks as she considers her next move.

“The exchange rate is insane.  Wanahton keeps threatening to buy a place in Meru and commute to Yu-Shan, but he hasn’t done it yet.  Sasha says the Elders won’t let him.”  You watch Chiyoko rearrange some of the game pieces and pass the turn marker to Aiko.   When she notices you watching, Chiyoko smiles shyly at you.  Your cheeks burn as you look down and fiddle with the bag of taffy.  You pop a piece of taffy into your mouth and pass the bag to Masaru.

Though your Dragon blooded friends remembered that they are going to the Martial Arts Tournament tomorrow, you still had to reintroduce yourself as the Quiver when you first got to the dorms.  After hanging out as yourself for a few hours, the situation between you and Chiyoko is less awkward. You consider various excuses to get Chiyoko alone tomorrow.   Having the whole circle around was frustrating at times.

“Svante!” Aiko’s voice snaps you out of your thoughts.  “It’s your turn.”  She pass you the turn marker.  As you consider the game board, Aiko causally asks, “So, have you managed to cast any spells yet?”

“Ignore her.” Chiyoko advises.  “She’s just trying to distract you so she can win.”  She takes the taffy bag from Masaru and roots around in it.

You look up from the game board.   “I haven’t tried yet.” You admitted.  “This is the first free time I’ve had since I got the book.”

“Then why are we here playing games?”  She stands up.   “We can get the book and try now.”

“Aiko, don’t end the game just because you are losing.”  Chiyoko accuses.

“We aren’t summoning demons in my dorm room.” Masaru adds.

“We don’t have to summon demons.  There are plenty of other spells to cast.  Get your copy of the book, Svante, and we will pick one out!”

“I’m not casting anything now.” You aren’t even sure you can cast a spell yet.  You didn’t want to fail and look stupid in front of Aiko….or Chiyoko.

“That’s right.  We are not casting anything now.” Chiyoko asserts.   “We are going to finish the fucking game, Aiko.”

Aiko sit back down. “Fine.”

You focus back on the game board, but your mind can not shake Aiko’s challenge.   “I need to try to cast something tonight.”

“Why do you need to cast something tonight?” Chiyoko demands.

“I need to give the book back.”

“Why the fuck are you going to give the book back?” Aiko demands in the same tone that Chiyoko used.

“Because my tutor knows I stole it.  He’s giving me a chance to give it back before he lets my guardian know.”

Chiyoko narrows her eyes at you.  “Do you really need to cast a spell tonight?”

Uh oh.  Your mind hurries to figure out a solution to your dilemma.   “Of course!”  You have an idea.   ““If I make a copy of the book, I won’t need to cast anything tonight.   Okay.  I need two journals, a pen with some ink, and a potted plant.”

“A potted plant?  Why do you need a potted plant?” Masaru asks in confusion.

“You’ll see in a bit.”  Chiyoko and Aiko go get a house plant while Masaru looks though his things for two journals large enough to fit the text of the White Treatise.  You are setting up an empty desk with the journals and ink when the two girls return with a half dead houseplant.

“Will this work?” Chiyoko asks.

“I guess.   What happened to it?”

“We can’t have pets in the dorms, so Aiko and I got a plant instead.”

“Oh.”  You pluck a dead leaf off of the poor plant.    “But why is it half dead?”

“We aren’t very good at taking care of house plants.” Aiko explains.

You shrug and put the house plant in the chair.

“You aren’t actually expecting the plant to copy the book for you?” Aiko asks.

​”That is exactly what I expect it to do.”  You clap your hands over the plant and it transforms into lean man of average height.   His hair is the color of dying leaves and his skin is a variegated with green and yellow.

“Water!” the man croaks as he crashes out of the chair unto the floor.  You quickly brings him a glass of water.  He grabs glass out of your hand and chugs it down.   When the glass is empty, he picks himself off of the floor and sets the glass down on the desk.   He composes himself and sits down in the chair as nothing happened.

“Good evening, Oracle.  How many I be of service to you?”  the Savant asks in Spirit Speech.

You answer in Earthspeak. “I need you to copy this book twice.  I have two journals you can use here.”

The Savant opens the journals and flips through them.  “There should be plenty of space for the White Treatise.   I will need more ink, but I can get started with what is here.   It will take me two days to copy the book twice.”

“Awesome!”   You are pleased that you found a loophole in the Owl’s demands.

“Do you need anything besides water?” Chiyoko asks.  The savant ignores her as if she didn’t speak.

“You can answer her question.” You tell the savant.

“While I am in this form, I subsist on the Oracle’s essence.  Though… I wouldn’t mind sitting next to a sunny window while I work.  And more water.  “

“I’m not sure we can manage the sunny window.”  You really don’t want the savant to be seen. “but we can supply you with water. “   Chiyoko refills the glass with water from the pitcher and replaces it on the desk.

The savant drinks half the glass and sets it down on the desk.  “I will also need a copy of the White Treatise.”

“Oh!” you go to your bag to get your copy.  You open the bag and find, sitting next to the White Treatise, a small white brick, no larger than the size of your hand.   You pull the brick out of the bag and examine it closely.  There are no markings on it and seems to be made of pressed powder.

“Is that Celestial Cocaine?” Masaru whispers.

While the savant copies the book, everyone stares at the brick of cocaine sitting on Masaru’s night stand.

“Where did you get it?” Chiyoko asks.

“I don’t know!”  You remember Ika knocking into you.  “I think that lady who ran off on the bill sunk it into my bag.”

“But why you?  You are the worst person to smuggle items with.  No one would recognize you to get their stuff back!”  Aiko points out.

“I know!”  You think for a moment.  “I guess she used me because I wouldn’t be searched by the Celestial Lions.”

“Celestial Lions?”   Masaru perks up.  “I remember someone telling my dad that they were going to have the Celestial lions start searching for contraband few months ago.  “

“Do you know who?” you ask.

Masaru shrugs.  “Probably one of the Harbormasters or something.   I don’t really remember. My dad talks to a lot of people.”

You nod and drop the subject.   It wasn’t important which Sidereal told Masaru’s father that.  What was important was what to do about the brick of illegal drugs.

“What are Celestial Lions?” Aiko inquires.

“I’ll explain later.  I need to figure out what to do with this.”  You point at the cocaine on the table.

“Well…  Has anyone ever done Celestial Cocaine before?” Aiko asks.

“We are not doing drugs!” Masaru declares.

“I was kidding!  But seriously what are we going to do with it?  Turn it in to the Chuzei?”

“We can throw into the sea.   Then it isn’t our problem anymore.”  Masaru says.

“Masaru, your brother is still assigned to Vanchow.   Why don’t we sell it to Lotaro? ”   Chiyoko suggests.

“I don’t think my mother will be happy that we gave Lotaro more drugs.”

“How would she know?” Aiko asks.

What do you want to do?

  • Turn it into Chuzei
  • Throw it into the sea.
  • Bring it back to Yu Shan and turn it into the Lions.
  • Go to Masaru’s brother and see if he can sell it.
  • Other

((  OOC:  This is the first time in a while that Svante has actually tried to Socialize his way out of something instead of using Presence to go “I’m a creepy Sidereal kid, so you better do what I say!” ))

36 – Dine and Dash

What would make you most happy?   “I want to see my friends.” You answer.

Akachi shakes his head and laughs.   “You complain about us sending you to the school and now you want to go back?”

You shrug.  “It’s not like I’ll be attending classes.”

“Very true. “ Elder Kejak says.   “Grab your things and I will be waiting here.”

You head to your room and pack a change of clothes and some other things.  Digging around in your sock drawer, you pull your hidden copy of the White Treatise.   You’ve been studying the after bedtime, but still haven’t actually tried to cast any spells out of it.   You hide the stolen book at the bottom of your bag.  You will figure out some way to balance sorcery and the Owl.

As you start to head back to Akachi’s workshop, you have an idea.     You step outside of Fate and stop by the door and listen to the elders’ conversation.

“I just want him to have some sort of childhood.” You hear Akachi say.

“His childhood ended the moment he took his second breath.   You are blind if you don’t see the way that he fights against your coddling. “

“I’m not coddling him.  I’m trying to keep him safe from your med…” Akachi pauses middle word.  “mistakes.   You should have thoroughly checked the school before sending him there.”

Elder Kejak is annoyed, “Did you have to bring that back up now?  Svante could walk in at any moment.”  The conversation turns to innocuous topics and you realize that they know you are eavesdropping.   You drop back into fate and enter the room.  Surprisingly, no one mentions your eavesdropping.

“You have everything you need?  You got right money?” Akachi asks.

Why did Akachi treat you like a child?   “I got the right fucking money!”

There is an awkward silence in the room.  Elder Kejak gives you a stern look and you realize that you said “fuck” in front of both Akachi and Elder Kejak.

“I am not the one that had the bright idea of sending him to a Military Academy.  Don’t blame me when he starts picking up the bad habits of the other students.” Akachi drinks out of his water bottle.

Elder Kejak sighs, “Let’s go.”  And then he leads you out of the workshop.

“Have fun!” Akachi yells.

You walk through the streets of Yu-Shan in awkward silence.  While you have spoken to Elder Kejak once or twice, you have never been alone with him.   It was easy to forget that Akachi was an elder, but with Elder Kejak it was impossible not to remember that the millennia that stretch between the two of you.

“How are your studies going?” Elder Kejak inquires.

“Okay.”  The elder seems to expect something more than a one word answers so you say “It was really cool when you decapitated that Lunar. “

“Hmm?”  The tall man seems surprised by your comment.  “I normally don’t participate in Wyld Hunts, but when Akachi and I discovered the Lunar’s presence, we had little time to act.”

You nod.  “Akachi said that I was placed at the school to make friends.”

“Did he now?”

“Was that the only reason why I was at the school?”

“Of course not.  Yeva has been trying to get you assigned to a dragon blooded school since you exalted.   Having another Sidereal intimately familiar with Dragon bloods would be an asset.  “

“But no other reason?”

Elder Kejak smiles.  “Svante, when I do something, there are always multiple reasons why.”

“Which you aren’t going to tell me.”

“Of course not.   Why should I?”

“How am I supposed to learn if no one answers my questions?”

“How are you supposed to learn to find answers to your questions if we just give them to you?” Elder Kejak counters.   “Svante, soon, you will be asking questions that no one in Creation knows the answers to.  You must learn how to find answers yourself.”

“How will I know if they are the correct answer?”

“With experience.”

You consider this.  “Well, if I think I found answer, can I ask you if it is right?”

“Sure.  You can always tell me anything.”

“Okay.  Did you send me to the school to introduce me to sorcery?”

Elder Kejak rubs his hand over his face in frustration.  “You must drive Akachi crazy.   I can’t answer that question.”

“Why not?”

“Have you heard the term “Plausible Deniability”?”

“Yes…”

“You know how Akachi feels about you learning Sorcery.   The Convention on Essence Wielders agrees with him.  You are not start to learn sorcery until you are sixteen.   I cannot defy the Convention’s ruling without political repercussions.  ”

“But…”

“Plausible Deniability.”   Kejak interrupted.  “Look.  We are here. And I am late for my meeting.  I’m sure you can find your way to the school on your own. “  He nods to the Celestial Lion outside of the Vanchow gate.   “Try to stay out of trouble.”

“But!”  you watch Elder Kejak walks away into the crowd.  “I had more questions…”

You groan in frustration and start to head for the gate.   A feathered hair woman bumps into you hard enough for you to drop your bag.  “Sorry!”  The woman bends down to repack your things into the bag.   You stare dumbly at this familiar woman whom you have never met.

You are working late in the Bureau, finishing up the last of your paperwork.  You get up from your desk and walk over to a couch in your office where a small girl has fallen asleep on the couch.  You quietly repack her bag of toys.  With a gentle hand, you stroke the girl’s feathery hair before you gather the girl into your arms and carry her out of the office.  

You shake your head, trying to come back to the present.   You bring back a name.  “Ika?”

The feathered haired woman freezes when you say her name.  She looks up at you in confusion. “Mother?”

You and Ika sit in a café not far from your gate.   You are plowing through a large piece of cake while she nervously fiddles with the remains of a fruit tart.  You study Rikali’s daughter.  She is short and delicately boned with short brown and grey feathered hair.  Her clothes are wrinkled and ill-fitting, a rarity in Yu-Shan where everyone uses a tailor.

“The Owl never mentioned you.”  You say between bites of cake.

“Father?  No.   We haven’t talked since Mother died.”  She smiles.  “He lets you call him Owl?”

“Yeah.  So?”

“He never lets anyone call him Owl.   Except for mother.”  The waiter come around and asks if Ika wants a refill of espresso and she nods.

“How do you remember Rikali? Do you work for the Bureau of Destiny?”  You’ve seen a few god bloods around the Bureau, but don’t remember seeing Ika.

“I used to, but you might say I’m an independent contractor now.  Actually, I’m on a job now.”  Ika crushes the crust of her tart with a fork.

“Really?  What kind of job?”

“I can’t tell you.  It’s confidential.”  She gets up from the table.   “I need to get going or else I’m going to be late.   I’m sure you have important Sidereal things to do.   Weren’t you headed though the Vanchow Gate?”

“Yes, but…”

“I won’t keep you.  See you around, Mother.”  She abruptly leaves.

“But…  I’m not your mother….”  You are being ditched by everyone today.

The waiter comes by and leaves the bill on the table.    “Whenever you are ready.”  He walks away to check on another group of diners.

“Umm…”  You don’t have any Yu-Shan currency, as you were about to head into Creation.  You vainly look for Ika but she is nowhere to be seen.

What do you do?

  • Talk to the Waiter into letting you head home to get some Yu-Shan Money. Hope that Akachi has already left for Creation.
  • Try to pay with your Creation Jade. This will leave you broke
  • Sneak off and skip out on the bill. The restaurant may lodge a complaint with the Celestial Lions, but they have no way of knowing which Sidereal ran out on the bill.  You hope.
  • Other