55 – Silly Hats

“How does it feel to be officially a teenager?”  Akachi asks you as he putts around the kitchen, making breakfast.

“Okay, I guess.”   You didn’t feel that much different this morning when you woke up.   Just a little tired since you were up late reading the White Treatise.   You haven’t had much success casting any spells out of it.

“Hmmm….”  Akachi checks the steaming dumplings.   “That doesn’t sound like a happy birthday boy.  Is something the matter?”

You sit at the bar, nibbling on a piece of melon as you considering telling Akachi everything.  Sorcery has been nothing but frustration so far.   If Aiko, a dragonblood, could become a sorcerer at twelve, you being a Sidereal should have also been able to do it.   Now you are thirteen and still not initiated into Sorcery.  Aiko beat you.  You sigh and tell yourself that it is more important to become a sorcerer no matter how long it takes.  Anyways, if you told Akachi, he would just forbid you from learning.

But, as you think of your Dragon blooded friends, you realize there was something on your mind.   “It’s Chiyoko.”

“What about Chiyoko?”  Akachi comes to sit down next to you at the bar.

You remember back to the Martial Arts Tournament a few months ago.  You managed to finally separate her from the others.   You hid under the stands with her and pull her in for a kiss.   Chiyoko hesitates for a moment, but then puts her arms around you.   When you are finished, she looks around the underside of the stands and says “Not the most romantic place for a first kiss.”

You were shocked by this and after questioning her, you realize that she didn’t remember any of the other kisses and only had vague memories of you outside of Cnead Svante.    Her most clear memory was with the fight with the Anathema.   Over the past few months, you spent every rest day you could with your Dragon blooded friends.  Aiko remembers you the best, often bringing up things you said in previous visits when the two of you argue.  Masaru can recognize you without being reminded of Cnead Svante.   Chiyoko still has to be told who you are each time.

After you explain all this to him, Akachi shifts uncomfortable in his chair.   “It is unfortunate that Chiyoko is the one that is having the most difficult time piercing though Arcane Fate. “

“Yeah.”  You look down at your plate and begin stacking melon pieces in a tower.

“I wouldn’t worry.   Chiyoko is Dragon blooded.  She will remember in time.  You just have to be persistent.”

“But what if she starts to like someone else?”  Chiyoko was well-liked by everyone at the school.  Surely some other boy will attracted her attention.

“Chiyoko is not someone who gives her heart easily.  As the granddaughter of the Shogun, she is in an awkward position.   It is very difficult for her to know the difference between a true friend and someone who wants to be her friend because of who she is related to.  ”

“But what about Masaru?  He’s betrothed to her!”   Masaru didn’t seem to care about you and Chiyoko and frankly seemed relieved that you were around.

“Chiyoko isn’t Masaru’s type.”  Akachi gets up and starts to cut more melon.

“What?”  You are confused.  How could Akachi know this?

“It’s something Masaru will explain when he is ready.”   You can hear Sasha’s voice in the front room.   “Go invite Sasha in while I check on the food.”   Akachi gingerly opens the steamer basket to check on the dumplings.

When you enter the front room, Sasha’s eyes light up.  “Happy Birthday!”  She hands a large present over to one of the servants and gives you a big hug.   Sasha pulls away and looks you over. “Maidens!  You grow a foot each time I see you!”   You haven’t seen too much of Sasha over the past few months, since she has been working on a mission in Meru.   You realize that you are as tall as your sister now.

“All the food he eats has to go somewhere.”  Akachi calls from the kitchen.

Sasha grabs the present from the butler and hands it to you.   You open the present to find a silly hat in shape of a chicken.   You look at Sasha in surprise.  As long as you remember you have always gotten a silly hat for your birthday.

“Are you the one that always gave me the silly hat?” You never really thought about where the silly hats came from before.

There are tears in Sahsa’s eyes, as she nods.

You hug your sister and try not to cry.  Thirteen years old is definitely too old for crying now.   You put your chicken hat on and sit at the table with Akachi and your sister to eat breakfast.

More voices can be heard in the front room and Yeva enters the kitchen.   She raises an eyebrow at your silly hat.   “Good Morning, Svante.”

“Good Morning, Sifu. “  You rise from your chair and bow formally.

Yeva returns the bow and then sits down.    Yeva sniffles one of the dumplings suspiciously.   “It’s a good thing Svante will eat anything or else he will starve.”   She starts piling fruit on her plate.

“Hey! I might be a bit out of practice, but I’m a good cook.”

Yeva picks up her discarded dumpling.  “Observe closely, my student, as I show you the proper technique for bouncing a rubber dumpling off the delusional cooks.”   Your Sifu flings the dumpling in Akachi’s direction.

“No throwing food in the kitchen!”   Akachi reaches out and plucks the dumpling out of the air. He drops it on his own plate and joins everyone at the table.

“Have you heard what the Fellowship will be giving Svante for his birthday?”  Your ears perk up when you hear Yeva say this.

“No, I’ve….”  Akachi rubs the bridge of his nose.  “I told them to give him reasonable presents.”

“And we decided that it was entirely reasonable to pool our resources for one large present.”

“Really?  What is it?”   you ask.

“Patience, Svante.  That is for you to find out at your party.”  You sit back and cross your arms at Yeva’s response.

“I said reasonable.”  Akachi points a chopstick at Sasha.   “Why didn’t you warn me?”

“I don’t know what you are taking about.  I’ve barely been in Yu-Shan these days taking care of the Shogun. “  Sasha smiles at you.

“This is us warning you.”  Yeva retorts.

“It’s not that bad,” Sasha assures Akachi.

“It could be worse.   They were trying to talk Ayesha into giving Svante that Chillikin she has locked up.   Naoko thinks she can reprogram it to accept Svante.  I put a stop to that.   Don’t need that thing rampaging around Yu-Shan again.”   Yeva refills her plate with fruit.

Later on, you are helping Wanahton blow up balloons for your birthday party.   You grab the balloons and walk over to one of the tables to tie them.   You look up at the clock and wonder how time could move so slowly.

“Psst!”   You turn and see Haythem hiding behind a bush.

You are surprised to see Haythem here.   “I’m not supposed to talk to you.”   You are still wary of Haythem after what happened the night before the Tournament and the elders were not pleased with the Oracle either. Haythem was not invited to your birthday party.

“Then don’t talk to me.  I have something for you.”   He looks around to make sure no one is watching and holds up a paper bag.   “Something every thirteen year old boy needs.”

Intrigued in spite of yourself, you walk over and take the bag from the Oracle.  You begin to open the bag, but Haythem stops you.  “No!  Not here!  Wait until you are alone in your room.”

“What is it?” you ask suspiciously.

“You’ll see.”  Haythem winks at you.  “Don’t let Akachi catch you with them.   Happy birthday.”  He retreats from behind the bush to sneak out.

What do you do?

  • Open Haythem’s Present here.
  • Tell someone about Haythem’s Present (Akachi, Sasha, Wanahton. You pick)
  • Go up to your room and open Haythem’s Present
  • Throw the present out without looking at it.
  • Other

((This… maybe another long chapter… ))