76 – Setting the Stage

“Rory, do you know of a safe place for us to hide?“  You have to keep the children safe until the Valiant Hummingbird gets here.

“Hide?  That sounds uninspiring and boring…unless…  I know a place!   It’s being guarded by a dragon…  At least she thinks she is a dragon, but fighting her should provide enough excitement for not to be bored!”

“Is there any place to hide that doesn’t involve fighting someone who thinks they are a dragon?”  Rory’s ears droop, so you change tactics.  “I mean, there is something I need you to do.   Something very important to the success of our quest.   Something very… dangerous and not at all boring…”

Rory’s ears perk up and he kneels before you.  “What do you require of us, Envoy?”

“Rory, for the success of our quest,”  You pause dramatically,   “I need you and Watcher to disable the Trebuchets that defend the Float.   “

Rory breaks out into a smile.   “Of course!  The Trebuchets!   How would you abscond with the children if the Trebuchets can foil your escape?”   The Fair Folk then looks confused, “You aren’t coming with us?”

“I can’t… It’s my job to keep the children safe so they can have their heartfelt tearful reunion with their parents later.   “

“Are you sure?   I hate for you to miss the great battle!”

Great Battle?   “I don’t want to take away from your heroic moment.   But, I still need a place to hide.”

“You will not take away from my heroic moment, Envoy.  Unlike the Loathing Commander, I have no problem sharing the stage.”   Rory shrugs.  “But if you insist on staying with the children, I can escort you to the someplace…  Safe.“

You and Rory load up the children upon Watcher’s back and ride the Wyld Beast though the dark and foreboding woods.   Rory walks ahead of Watcher and the children and you walk behind, keeping an eye on the whole group.

Rory’s continued existence is tied to the Blue Lady’s inability to attack the Shogunate Fleet.    Why does this Baelor person not want the Blue Lady to attack the Shogunate Fleet?  Is Rory’s Oath Father a potential ally?

“Here.”  Rory says, pointing towards a large pile of….  brooms?

“Um….  What is this place?”   The children slide off of the Watcher and the Wyld Beast retreats to the edge of the forest to wait for Rory.

“It’s the Broom Closet.  No one comes here. “  Rory explains.

It doesn’t look like a Closet to you…  Just a pile of Brooms.  “Why not?”

“It is an expression of reality in our little piece of Wyld.  It drains the excitement from… well… everything.”     Rory shutters.   The Fair Folk stalls before joining Watcher.   “You sure you don’t want to come with?  It’s very boring here.”

“Nah. I’m good.”   Rory cringes as you pick up on of the Brooms and twirls it in your hand.

“If you change your mind, come find us.”   The Fair Folk leaps on to Watcher’s back.  “And don’t forget about our agreement!”

“I won’t!  Good luck!”  You watch Rory and Watcher head back though the forest.  A little girl walks up to you.  “I need to go potty.”

“Um…”   For the rest of the evening, you help the children get settled.   You build a bon fire out of some of the brooms and divide up your travel rations among the kids.   The broken children would not eat any of the offered food, which worries you.  After dinner, the children settle down and fall asleep, worn out from the excitement of the day.

You stay up to keep watch.    At first you practice some Sword Katas and bored, you break of the brush of one of the broom and start practicing with that.   You check on the children to make sure they were all present and asleep.  Eventually you sit before the fire and begin to peel straws off of the broken broom and throw them in the fire to watch them burn.   Rory was right.  This place was boring.

You hear a rustling come from the woods.  Slipping outside of fate, you draw your sword and watch the woods.   A bush rustles and Mei Mei appears!

“Mei Mei!”  You set your sword aside and gather the puppy into your arms.  Mei Mei licks your face raw.

Soon after, another figure emerges from the woods.   One you recognize well.

“Sasha!” Still carrying the puppy and race to meet your sister.  Sasha embraces you fiercely, almost crushing you and Mei Mei.   “I didn’t know that time was passing faster for you…”  your voice cracks as you explain.

“It’s fine.  No one is mad at you, Svante.   You are safe.  That is all that matters.”   Sasha looks you up and down and asks,  “Did your voice crack?”

“It started happening a few days ago.”  Your voice betrays you and cracks again.

Your cheeks burn as Sasha giggles.  “I know I shouldn’t laugh, but the look on your face.”

“Can we please save the children now?”  Thankfully, your voice doesn’t crack when you say this.

“Let me check them out first and then we can go.”  You and Sasha wake the children and while the Whole Children play with Mei Mei, Sasha examines the broken ones.

“Can anything be done with the ones feed on?”

Sasha places a piece of cracker in one of the broken children’s mouth and order him to chew and swallow.  “They can never really be whole again, but some recover enough to live a good life. “     When Sasha sees the tears running down your cheeks, she comes over and embraces you.

What you saw on the Float comes pouring out.  The Blue Lady and Masaru’s great grandfather.   The Fair Folk Blacksmith beating her customer.   The Desert Fox taking her child away.   “I couldn’t save them all.  There were two corpses in the cavern….the Fair Folk called it the Larder…”

“We may be the chosen of Fate, but there are some things we can’t change.   Saturn comes for all of us, but Svante, you managed to delay her for these children.  Focus on the eight you saved, not the two you didn’t.   It may seem impossible now but with time you’ll feel better.”

“When I am older.” You say, discouraged.

Sasha shakes her head.  “Sometimes after a Mission, I have doubts too.  I go back and think about what I could have done different, what I could have done better.  But in the end, it is what we managed to save that matters.  Do you understand?”

You remember the Desert Fox said.  “All the power of the stars, but we can’t save everyone.”

“But we can save these children, if we can get them to the boat.”   You call to Mei Mei and gather the children.   Sasha leads you and the children though the dark forest.  While the forest is still unnerving, it feels emptier than before.    You pass by a trebuchet that has been knocked over.   At the edge of the float, you find Wanahton and a few marines waiting by his boat.

“How much time has passed?”  Sasha asks.

“About an hour.”  Wanahton helps you on the boat.   “I don’t know how long for the Valiant Hummingbird.  I’ve been waiting for you to come back to send the messenger.“  You and Wanahton help the rest of the children on board while Sasha keeps watch.   Suddenly, the sky lights up with silver moonlight.

“Lunar Anima.”  Sasha says.    “Wanahton, make sure Svante and the rest of the children get safely back to the ship.”  She begins to walk towards the Lunar’s Anima.

What do you do?

  • Talk Sasha out of going after the Desert Fox
  • Follow Sasha when she goes after the Desert Fox
  • Stay with the children and head back to the Valiant Hummingbird
  • Other