You head upstairs to your room to open Haythem’s present. It takes you about a half an hour to put it through every test you can think of. Nothing seems to be dangerous about it. Afterwards, you stare at the package as it lays on your bed. You pick it up and feel around inside. It doesn’t feel like drugs. Some sort of books. Manga? You unfold the top of the bag and dump the contents on your bed.
“Whoa…” Your bed is now covered glossy magazines with beautiful women on their covers. You open one of the magazines and see that while the women on the cover are scantily clad, the ones inside are completely naked. You flip through it, wondering why people would pay money for something that you can see on the streets of Yu-Shan. A few Celestial deities eschew clothing while they go about their business, so nudity is nothing new to you. You check the cover of the magazine again. Ah, it was published in Creation. You toss it aside and pick one another one. Now this one shows the women inside doing some rather…interesting things. Looking over the centerfold, you never realized…
“Svante!” Akachi calls from down stairs. “What are you doing up there? You are going to miss your own party!”
“I’ll be right down.” You quickly gather up all the porn and shove it back in the bag. You slide it under your bed, knowing you’ll have to find a better place to hide it later. Looking in the mirror, you adjust your chicken hat and smooth out your robes. With your foot, you nudge the bag of porn further under the bed before leaving your room and heading down stairs.
“Happy Birthday, Svante!” With Akachi by your side, you reluctantly enter the crowd of people as they give you hugs, pinched your cheeks, and rubbed your hair. You might have grown a lot since your Exaltation, but people still treated you as a child. Somewhere along the way, you lost your chicken hat. Eventually, you made your way through the crowd towards the end of the room where the food is.
“Your hat?” Akachi holds out your chicken hat. Gratefully, you put it back on your head to hide your now messy hair. You turn around and look back on the crowd.
The ballroom of Akachi’s Manse is brimming with people. The majority of the Five Score Fellowship is there along with some other gods you know from the Bureau of Destiny. Mingling among them are gods from other Bureaus who have no idea who you were, but showed up because it was a party. Chiyoko complained about not knowing half the people at her Exaltation Party. You didn’t mind, because it gave you plenty of opportunities to eavesdrop.
But first food. You fill your plate from the buffet and sit down at a table with Akachi, Sasha, Wanahton, and Yeva. Keeper of the Locks, your tutor, comes up to you. “Happy Birthday, Svante.” The Owl hands you a small slim box.
“Thank you.” You are on better terms with the Owl since you returned the stolen copy of the White Treatise. You open the box and inside you find a small Starmetal knife. You recognize it. “This belonged to Rikali.”
“Yes. She left it behind before she left on Wyld Hunt.”
“I often wondered what happened to it after she died.” Akachi remarks. You carefully pull the knife out of the box and examine it. It was not a large knife, barely larger than your hand. The more you handled the knife, the more you grew accustomed to it. The knife felt more familiar to you than your jade sword which you have been working with for months. It seemed to be made just for you.
“A good boot knife.” Wanahton comments.
“Rikali didn’t really wear boots or shoes at all if she could get away with it. ” The Owl shrugs. “She usually had it strapped to her shin.”
You replace the knife in the box and run your fingers over the abstract etchings on the blade. “Thank you, Owl.” The Owl, pleased that you appreciated his gift, bows formally and heads off into the crowd.
A large crowd of Sidereals are gathered around one table arguing about something. You finish your red bean sweet roll and wander over.
“I can’t believe you broke it just before we have to give it to him.” Naoko, one of Akachi’s Crafting students, is scolding Jaived, a Chosen of Endings.
“We were just testing it out!”
“Testing it out! You were playing… Oh, Hello, Svante! Happy birthday!” Naoko hides something behind your back.
“Sifu Yeva said that you have a really awesome birthday present for me.” If it is something Akachi is unhappy about, it has to be cool.
Naoko’s blue eyes sparkle and with a flourish, she pulls the cloth off of a large and asymmetrical shape. Underneath the cloth is a large sculpture of four of the five elemental dragons. There is a gap where the water dragon should be.
“Um… It’s nice.” It was a pretty sculpture, but not really what you were expecting.
Naoko hands you a jade rod. “Concentrate on one of the Dragons.” She commands.
You focus on the Fire Dragon and the statue starts to slither around. “Oh, wow!” With your mind, the dragon raises up into the air and flies around the ballroom.
“Impressive.” Akachi says. “You managed to get it to levitate and respond to mental commands. Nice work.“ Akachi picks up one of the rods and the Air dragon joins the Fire in the air. “Not as bad as I feared.” Akachi mumbles to himself.
“They are supposed to fight,” Jaived explains. He picks up a third rod and the wood dragon ascends. You, Akachi, and Jaived spar in the air above the ballroom.
“Press the button when another dragon is in front of yours,” Naoko whispers in your ear. When Jaived’s dragon is within range, you press the button. Fire comes out your dragon’s mouth, burning the Wood dragon out of the air.
Akachi looks at Naoko in horror. “They breathe fire.”
“The air dragon breathes frost,” one Sidereal corrects.
“The wood dragon would have breathed poison, but Naoko couldn’t contain the poison cloud.” Another Sidereal adds.
“They don’t seem to last very long.” You see the broken water dragon in Naoko’s hand.
“Don’t worry. The Dragons regenerate, so you can play with them the next day.” Naoko says. She replaced the broken Water dragon on the Sculpture.
“They breathe fire!” Akachi rubs his hand over his face.
“This is awesome!” You weave the dragon though the large chandelier hanging from the ceiling.
About an hour into the party, Elder Kejak enters the room carrying a wrapped box with a loose top. He adjusts the top before he comes up to you. “Happy Birthday, Svante.” The box whines a bit before Elder Kejak could set it down.
“Chejop, what’s in the box?” Elder Akachi asks suspiciously.
“Svante’s Birthday Present. You said I just couldn’t give him money, so I picked something up in Meru.” The box shakes a bit as Elder Kejak puts it on the table in front of you. “Go on, Svante. Open it.”
You never get a chance to open it, because as soon as the box touches the table, your present tips over the box.
“A Puppy!” You reach out for the fuzzy black and white puppy. The puppy licks you face with great enthusiasm and knocks your chicken hat off. “Hey! Stop it! I need my face in one piece.” You laugh.
“Oh no!” Sasha exclaims. “That’s one of Ling Ling puppies!”
“Who’s Ling Ling?” Wanahton asks.
“Evil incarnate.” Sasha shutters.
“A puppy, Chejop? Is this because of the vote in the council meeting yesterday?” Akachi asks.
“Of course not.” Elder Kejak say unconvincingly. “Every boy needs a dog.”
“There are more appropriate breeds for a boy than a Shih-Tzu.”
“So keep her hair short.” Elder Kejak helpfully adds, “I choose a female so it wouldn’t urinate all over the walls of your manse.”
“Oh, yeah. Just all over the floors.”
You start paying attention to the conversation around you. “You mean, we can’t keep her, Akachi?” Elder Kejak grins when you ask this question.
Akachi sighs and rubs the dog behind her ears. “One day, you’ll be too old to get away with the puppy dog eyes.”
“You talking about the dog or the boy?” Wanahton asks.
The puppy licks his hand and Akachi smiles. “Both.”
“What are you going to name her, Svante?” Sasha asks.
What’s the puppy’s name?
((Ah…Fuck it, I’m too lazy to come up with dog names today. So, an open ended question! I’ll distract you with a picture of the puppy instead! ))
(( Good job, WarDragon for figuring out that Haythem gave Svante porn! ))
((I get to cross off “Have Chejop Kejak give someone a puppy for revenge” off of my Exalted Bucket List now. 😀 ))