Short – Lunch Ninjas

This short takes place between Chapters 2 and 3.

“Ramen!”  Shapau’s Peacock headdress shudders in disgust.  You walk ahead of Akachi’s Secretary as you both make your way through the lunch crowds.  “You’d think a man would get sick of Ramen after centuries of eating it.  I suggest new eateries all the time!   But no… Joybringer Akachi wants ramen.  ‘At least I know what I am getting with Ramen.’  You know what you are getting with Fetal Duck Eggs and Boodog.   It says so right on the menu!  Humans!”   You learned fairly quickly that it is best not to interrupt Shapau when he starts on one of his little rants.

One of the new vendor booths in the market catches your eye.   Brightly colored feathered snakes slither along the vendor’s arm.  You slow down to let Shapau pass, as the god-blooded vendor motions to you to take a closer look.

“Oh no!” the god exclaims, grabbing your arm.   “I know of all of your little tricks!  You are going to stay in sight where I can see you, Svante!  Joybringer Akachi will never forgive me if I lose you!”  Shapau drags you away from the hissing snakes and into the Ramen Eatery.

When you arrive, the Lunch order for Akachi’s meeting is sitting on the counter.  “Good, it didn’t get lost. “  The secretary starts to sort through the lunches to make sure Arcane Fate didn’t muddle any of the orders.  “We got three shrimp.  One Udon bowl.  Where’s the second one?  I ordered two……There it is!   One….”

The words of the secretary fade out as you notice a man in full black wearing a mask casually into the Eatery.   None of the other patrons seem to notice him.   As he walks past the counter, he steals one of the lunch from the Sidereal order.

“Hey!”  You begin to follow the lunch thief though the Eatery.  He breaks into a run and bursts out the back door.  Without a backwards glance at Shapau, you quickly follow.  When you get out to the crowded streets, you search for the man.   You spot him tossing the lunch up to another ninja hanging from one of the street signs.   “Come back here!  Thief!”  The Ninja retreats up the building with the stolen lunch.  You climb up one of the drainage pipes to catch up with the Ninja.   The Ninja flees, jumping from roof top to roof top.   You easily pursue him, keeping up with his every move.

You corner the ninja on the top of the high-rise containing Bureau of Heaven.  “I suggest you give me back my Teriyaki Chicken. “  You threaten, activating your caste mark.  The Ninja responds with drawing his blade.  He charges you, blade held high.  You causally duck under his attack and trip the ninja.  He lands flat on the ground with a grunt.  You kick his sword away and stand triumphantly over your nemesis.  “Never steal a Sidereal’s lunch.”    You pick up the bag and the Ninja’s sword and turn around to find yourself surrounded by an even dozen black clad ninjas.

“You guys aren’t going to let me walk out of here with my lunch, are you?”  You ask wearily.  The ninjas silently circle you in reply.  “So be it.”   As they rush you…

“Svante!   Svante!  Boy!”   Shapau’s voice rouses you back to reality.   “Are you paying attention?   You must drive Akachi crazy!”  The secretary places a share of lunches in your arms.  “We need to bring this ramen back to the horde!”  Shapau motions you out the door.  “Come along.  They will get cranky if they go without food too long.”   As you walk back to the Bureau of Destiny, the little god whispers to you, “I snuck a cookie in your bag.  Don’t tell the others or else they will all want cookies. “  The secretary gives a long suffering sigh.  “It’s like dealing with children at times.”

87 – The Home You Never Knew

Chiyoko sets her bag on her bed and stands before you, arms crossed.  “You are going to leave me behind again.”

You look away from your angry fire aspected girlfriend.  “I have to travel alone.  The way I am heading north, you can’t follow me.”   You have no idea how you would bring Chiyoko and the others into Yu-Shan.  Or how you yourself were going to get back into Yu-Shan?  For all you know Akachi could be waiting for you with the Celestial Lions.   You are starting to regret this side trip.

“I’m not going to let you go through your trial of fire alone.”  Chiyoko closes her bag and adjust the straps.

“Dragons!”  You want to smack Aiko for complicating the situation.  “This isn’t my trial of fire, Chiyoko!   I’m just going to visit my family and come back.”    Come back to confront Akachi about why he hid your family’s fate from you.  You have enough knowledge now to demand answers.

“What way are you going where I can’t follow?” Chiyoko demands.

You don’t need this right now, but you didn’t want to leave with Chiyoko angry at you.  “I’m taking the Yu-Shan gates to travel up north.  I’ll go through the Vanchow gate and take a canal boat to the Gate of Shadows.   I can be on my mother’s doorstep within two hours.”

“What?”   Aiko is astonished.  “You can get from here to Whitewalls in two hours?”

“It would be a bit longer to get to Whitewalls.  Ramshorn, the village where my mother lives, is closer to the Gate.”

“Dragons.”  Chiyoko plops down on the bed next to you.   “We can’t go to Yu-Shan, can we?”

“Maybe one day, after I figure out how to sneak you in.   I don’t have time today.”  You take Chiyoko’s hand in yours.  “This may be my only chance to see my family.   I can’t take any risks.”

Chiyoko blushes and looks away.  “I’m just sick of being left at this stupid school.”  She admits.

“Next time I go somewhere, I’ll try to bring you with me.”

“You promise?”

“I promise.”

Chiyoko squeezes your hand, giving you a weak smile.  Mei Mei comes up between the two of you, tail wagging.    Chiyoko rubs the puppy behind her ears.

Aiko holds out her empty Standard Issue Shogunate backpack.  The sand colored canvas bag is covered with pockets, each with a specific purpose.   “Here.  Take my bag.   You can’t show up on your parent’s doorstep with a pillowcase.”

Maybe Aiko did feel bad for all the trouble she caused.  “Umm…  Thanks.”   You shove the pillowcase into the bag.

You can hear Masaru arguing with someone outside of the door.  “I got to go.”  Being caught here in school won’t get you to your family any more than being caught by Akachi.  You pick up Mei Mei and climb out of the window.

“You are going to come back?”  Chiyoko asks, uncertain.

“Of course.”  You assure her.  You adjust the straps of Aiko’s bag to make it fit better.

“And next time you go on an adventure you are going to bring me with you?”

“Us!  Bring us with you!”  Aiko amends.

You ignore Aiko.  “I promise.”

Chiyoko leans out of the window and kisses you.   Your fears about being caught momentarily desert you until pounding on the door brings them all back.   “Go! We will take care of things here!”   Chiyoko whispers, she closes the window and turns towards the opening door.   You slip out of fate and head back to the Yu-Shan Gate.

 

For the whole trip through the Gate and Yu-Shan, you fear being caught.  You fretfully look around, searching for your guardian, but Akachi is nowhere to be found.  Where could he be?   Was Elder Kejak covering for you?  You have a growing suspicion that Elder Kejak, someone from your limited observation is not easily distracted, meant for you to wander the Loom alone.  But why?   Your suspicion turns into fear.   What if Aiko is right and this is your Trial of Fire.  Fate wouldn’t be so cruel to take your family away so soon after finding them, would it?

When you finally arrived in the North, you are stopped not by your guardian by the weather.   The cold night air burns your nose and your breath puffs out in clouds of steam.  You pull your hood closer around your face, wishing you remembered to bring your scarf.   At least a foot of snow covers the ground and icy hoarfrost gleams in the moonlight.   You were planning on walking, but in this weather it would be dangerous even for an Exalt.

You and Mei Mei spend a sleepless night in one of the Travel Shrines that can be found all over creation.  All Yu-Shan Gates have a shrine nearby, though the inhabitants of Creation never make the connection between the shrine’s location and the heavenly gate.   At the first hints of dawn, you tuck Mei Mei into your coat and head towards Ramshorn.

Ramshorn is a small serene village, surrounded by tall evergreens, with a single cobblestone road running through the middle.  The tall steeping roofs of the brightly painted houses are covered with snow and smoke bellow out of each chimney.  Three picturesque snowcapped mountains rise behind the village and the tiny speck of a Shogunate Fort can be seen, guarding the mountain pass.

After about an hour of trampling through the wet slush, you ask a man with sled dogs where the healer’s house is.   You have only seen your mother’s house from the inside and none of the cabins had signs.   Mei Mei sticks her nose out of your coat to investigate the yipping dogs.   Following the directions you were given, you find your mother’s green and brown cabin.  The remains of an herb garden hibernate next to the cabin and empty flowerboxes line the windows.

You climb the clean swept front steps and stand before your mother’s door.  Before you can lose your nerve, you knock and wait.  Your mouth is dry and you are sweating under your coat despite the cold.  Mei Mei wiggles around in your coat, picking up on your apprehension.    An eternity passes before someone comes to answer the door.

Your mother, wrapped in a thick wool shawl, opens the door.  She has flour on one cheek and her blonde hair is just starting to streak with grey.  You didn’t notice this before when you watched her from the Loom.  Her eyebrows knit in worry when she sees you on the doorstep alone.  “Hello?   Is someone hurt?”

You pull down your hood and uncover your face.  Her eyes widen with surprise.   “I’m sorry, I didn’t noticed your hair… I mean, aspect markings.   Did you bring a message from the Garrison?”

You mother.  You realize that you expected her to recognize you when she saw you.  But that was foolish.   Even without the blurring of Arcane Fate, she would not know that you were her son.  You open your mouth to say something, but no words emerge.   Everything you planned to say flees from your head.  Tears form at the corner of your eyes.   Mei Mei sticks her head out and whines softly.

Your mother’s expression softens and she gives you a warm smile.  “Why don’t you come in?   We are having breakfast soon. “   You shiver as her hand lightly touches your back as she leads you into the dark and warm cabin.   The aroma of fresh bread makes your mouth water.  Dried herbs hand from the rafters and candles illuminate the kitchen table.

“My name is Kaja.  What is your name?”   Your mother sits you down at the table and pulls out a large cast iron pan and places it on the stove to heat.  She searches though her cupboards, pulling out a jar of dark purple jam.

“Svante.”

Your mother pauses for a moment as she sets the jam on the table.  She recovered quickly and smiles at you.   “Svante is a good name.  If I had another son, I would have named him Svante.”    You watch your mother as she reveals a loaf of bread cooling under a towel and sets it before you.    She sits down at the table across from you and asks, “What brings you to my doorstep, Svante?”

 

What do you tell your mother?

  • The whole truth. All of it.  About being her son and Sidereal.
  • Partial Lie. You are looking for relatives.
  • Partial Truth. You are her son, but leave the Sidereal part out.
  • A Lie. You are from the garrison.  You are traveling and someone told you that you could find a place to stay here.   Wait on the truth until you find out more about your family.
  • Other

86 – Stakes

You up end your bag on the bed, scattering its contents all over your unmade bed.  You sort the various school papers, books, and other random shit you have accumulated since the last time the Owl forced you to clean out your bag.   Besides a rotting old apple core, you find nothing out of the ordinary.  You doubt the old bird is telling you not to do your homework, so why would he tell you not to bring the bag?   Akachi gifted you the bag long ago when you first started school and since then you carry it everywhere you go.   Did he hid something in here?  You thoroughly check the pockets and seams for a hidden compartment or item.  Nothing.  Frustrated, you toss the bag on the bed with the rest of your school stuff.

You clear a spot on your bed to sit down and watch Mei Mei gnaw on the corner of the Five Moons of Denial.   Briefly you consider letting the puppy destroy the book.  Unfortunately, you don’t think “My dog ate my homework” would work on Elder Kejak.   You retrieve the book from Mei Mei and set it out of the puppy’s reach on your desk.   You sit back on your bed and rub your eyes.   You need to get out of here before Akachi comes back.  He will know something is wrong and you doubt you could face your guardian without punching him in the face.

You pick up your now empty bag and begin packing it with cold weather clothes.   You are sorting through your socks when you remember before your Exaltation, Akachi stopped you from selling the bag to the cloth merchant.  Could Akachi track you though the bag itself?

After searching your room, you don’t own any other bag besides this one.  More evidence that Akachi has done something to the bag.  You are loathe to leave the bag behind.  It was a rather nice bag.  The thick Yeddim leather and fine stitching has survived years of abuse at your hands.  You dump out your bag and angrily fling it in the closet.   You stuff your clothes and gear into your pillow case.  After lacing up your heavy boots, you pick up the puppy and your heavy coat and slip outside of fate.

You don’t feel secure in your escape until you hit the more crowded streets of Yu-Shan.  But really, were you ever free?  Akachi could just find you through the Loom of Fate.   Fortunately, your mother does not live too far from one of the Yu-Shan gates.  You need to head north as quickly as possible.  You think about meeting your mother as you wait by the docks for a boat to take you to the Threshold gates.   Even without Arcane Fate, you would be a stranger to her.   What would you say to her?   How would you explain who you were?

You watch the boat man float past the docks, but you do not flag him down.  You walk away from the dock and instead head to the Vanchow Gate.   You need someone to talk things over with.   Though it is winter in Creation, you are sweating in your heavy coat by the time you reach the school.   You find Chiyoko, her hair up in short candle flame pigtails, in the library working on a project.

“Chiyoko,” you touch her shoulder.

“Dragons!” Chiyoko jumps up out of her chair and faces you.  Her hand instinctively gropes for her missing sword.  She calms down once she realizes it was you.  “Svante! Don’t do that!”

You didn’t drop back into fate when you called her name.  You look around and see that no one else noticed Chiyoko jumping out of her chair.  “It’s been a long day.  I’m sorry.”  You thud your pillowcase down on the table and sit down.   Mei Mei struggles in your hands, but you keep a tight grip on her.

“Chiyoko, what happened?”  Masaru and Aiko appear from the library shelves, carrying books.

 

“Nothing.  Svante just appeared out of nowhere.  Why are you dressed like that?”  Chiyoko looks you over and grows worried.  “Is something wrong?”

Masaru sets down his stack of books.  “Are you going somewhere cold?”

“You are running away,” Aiko sits on the table in front of you.

“I’m not running away.  I’m going on a trip.”   You look around the library.  It’s not that busy, but you don’t want anyone to overhear.  “Can we go someplace where we can talk?”

Chiyoko and Aiko’s dorm room is deceptively neat.   The beds are made and their armor sits in their respective corners.  Yet the desks are covered with books and school papers and a shirt hangs over the edge of the hamper.   Their plant looks a bit wilted but greener than the last time you saw it.  If it wasn’t for the Chuzei, you are sure their dorm would be as messy as your room.   When everyone is in settled, you announce.  “My family is alive.”

“Alive?   I thought you said…”  Chiyoko trails off.   Mei Mei sniffs around the bed and sits down watching you.

“Yeah.   I thought they were dead.   They live not far from Whitewalls.”   You fidget with the opening of your pillowcase.

“You are going to go see them?”

“Yes.  I didn’t tell anyone back in Yu-Shan because I don’t to risk anyone stopping me.”   Mei Mei walks over and licks your hand.  “No one told me that they were alive.  I had to find out myself.”  You stand up and start pacing.    “They took me from my family and never told me if they were alive or dead. Why wouldn’t they tell me?”

Chiyoko stops your pacing and takes your hands.   “When adults lie….  They lie so you won’t be worried about things they can’t do anything about and they lie because they are ashamed of what they did and don’t want you to find out.”

“But Akachi didn’t lie to me.”  You don’t know why you are defending Akachi.  “Just didn’t tell me anything!”

“Isn’t that the same thing?  Either way the end result is the same.”  Aiko comments.  “Adults manipulate you.  They want you believe what they believe.   To mold you into a tool that they can use.“

“That’s not fair, Aiko.”  Masaru interjects.

“Your father isn’t manipulating you to fight Fair Folk?”  Aiko snaps at Masaru.  Masaru crosses his arms, but says nothing.  Aiko turns back to you.  “It’s called being raised.  They teach you to think like they think, so when they die in some stupid battle, you’ll pick up their sword and carry on their stupid cause.   “  Aiko motions around the school.  “That’s why we are here.  This is just a factory cathedral and we are being forged into diaklaives.”  Aiko walks up to you.  “You are different.  You aren’t even allowed to know your parents.   I wonder what weapon they are going to turn you into.”

“Shut up!”  You yell.  “I’m not being forged into a weapon.  Akachi wouldn’t do that!”

“Aiko, stop it.”  Chiyoko stands between you and her cousin.

Aiko doesn’t stop.  “Akachi totally would do that.  Why do you think they lied to you about Lunars?  Why do you think they lie to us about Lunars.   We are just soldiers in their little war.   What are they going to do when they find out you are running away?”

“I’m not running away.”  You deny.  “I’m just going to see my parents.”

“You think you can drop by and see mom and dad and come back like nothing happened?  No, there’s going to be consequences.”  Aiko smirk at you.  “You are just too stupid to figure it out. ”

You take a swing at Aiko.   Before you could connect, the smell of blood fills the room.   A blood ape grabs you with its ham-sized hands and throws you against the bed.  Before you can react, the demon is on top of you, pinning you to the bed.

“What the fuck are you doing?!”  Chiyoko picks up her jade sword sitting next to her armor in the corner.    Mei Mei barks at the blood ape.

“I’m helping him.”  Aiko says as a matter of fact.  She approaches and strokes the blood ape’s blood encrusted fur.

“How the fuck is this helping, Aiko?”  Masaru hisses.   “Let Svante up and get rid of the blood ape before someone checks on the noise!”

Chiyoko draws her sword and places it at the blood apes throat.  “Let Svante go or else I’m sending your blood ape back to hell.”

“I’m showing him what he has to gain.” Aiko kneels down next to you.

“Fuck off, Aiko.”  You struggle against the blood ape, but you can’t find purchase against the soft bed.

“You should have known that Blood Ape was coming.”  Aiko’s right, you should have had prior warning about the blood ape.  You weren’t paying attention.  “You need to start thinking clearly.  This is your trial of fire.  “

“What?”  You stop struggling.  Between the Lunar and your parent, you had forgotten about your sorcery trials.

“You wanted to be a sorcerer. “ Aiko motions the Blood Ape off of you.  “You have to pay the price.”

“Aiko, are you done with the creepy act?  Unsummon the blood ape.”  Chiyoko lowers her sword and watches her cousin.

“Fine.”  The blood ape disappears, leaving a lingering stench of rot.  There is a knock at the door and Masaru opens the door and slips out of the room.  You can hear him talk to someone outside.

Chiyoko holds out her hand to help you up.  “If Svante is going north, we are going to go with him.”

“No,” Aiko says.  “It’s better if we don’t go.”

“What?” Chiyoko looks at Aiko like she is crazy.  “I’m not being left behind again.”  You gather up Mei Mei and sit back down on the bed.   You attune yourself to the thread of fate.  Aiko will not be able to pull that trick on you again.

“It’s his trial of fire.” Aiko explains   “We don’t want to be around him when he goes through it.”

“We are his circle.  If he is going to go through a Trial, then we will go though it with him.”

“It doesn’t work like that, Chiyoko.”  Aiko looks away and fiddles with the hem of her shirt.  “I told you what happened during my trial.   Svante’s trial isn’t going to be any easier.”

Chiyoko sheaves her sword and starts gathering her armor.  “More the reason to go with him.”

“Chiyoko,”  Aiko catches Chiyoko by the arm.  “Svante is about to lose something very important to him.   If you go with him, there’s a good chance, it may be you.”

Chiyoko closes her eyes and says, “I can’t let him go through this alone.”

“There are some battles you can’t fight with a sword, cousin.”   Aiko closes her eyes.  “I don’t want you to get hurt.”

What do you do?

  • Bring your Dragonblooded circle with you
  • Bring only Chiyoko with you
  • Go alone.

((This whole “Update two days a week instead of three to produce better posts” would work better if I wasn’t working overtime this week.  It will get better when my coworkers come back from holiday vacation.  J   ))

((This scene was supposed to be “Aiko offers to do Svante’s homework while he is gone”.   But as I was writing, Aiko brings out the Blood Ape and decides to help Svante in a different way.  What the fuck, Aiko?!  What the Fuck?! ))

85 – Baggage

Your hands shake as find out everything you can about your mother and father.  Your Mother’s name is Kaja.  She is a healer.   Your father’s name is Anders.  He owns a boat called the Fire Dragon.   You also discover you have two other siblings, besides Linnea, the sister you have already seen.   A brother, three years older than you, named Bendt and a five year old half-sister, named Elise.

Half-sister?  Unhappily, your mother is no longer with your father and is married to someone else.   The threads of your parents are further apart than you realize.  What you thought was a village was a connection of relationships between individuals.  Though you didn’t realize that they existed until only moments ago but now you are sadden by the fact your family is no longer together.

A group of gods walk by carrying boxes of prayer scrolls.   They nod respectfully at you as they pass.  You force yourself away from the threads of your family.  You could be here all day looking at your family’s history, but you don’t want to be caught by your parent’s threads.   Later you can ask your pattern spider questions.   Now you head deeper into the Loom, needing time to process what you found before someone finds you.

Your time as a mortal living among the gods of Yu-Shan was difficult.   For most of your life you have pestered Nanny about who your parents were, hoping to gleam some clue as to why you were raised in Yu-Shan instead of Creation.  She often told you many stories about them and they all ended with your parents dying heroically.   Even at the time, you doubted any of them where true.  After you Exaltation, you asked Akachi about where you came from, but you only got the usual “You’ll find out when you are ready.”  There was such a look of intense sadness your guardian’s face, you assumed that they were dead.  You now know it wasn’t sadness you were seeing, but guilt!

You begin to doubt everything and everyone. While Akachi did not technically lie to you, he certainly did misled you.  Who else was in on this conspiracy to keep you in the dark?   The Owl?  Yeva? Elder Kejak?  Sasha?  You just assumed that she was telling the truth about being raised with you.  Was Sasha even your real sister?  You are beginning to understand why Elder Kejak told you to seek your own answers instead of asking questions.

You ask another pattern spider to take you to when you and Sasha first met.  Following the spider though the maze of stairs and walkways, the spider leads part of the Loom connected to Yu-Shan.   Unlike Creation, Yu-Shan looked like what you imagine a loom to be.   Each thread is laid out alternating rows of shining perfection.   The bright godly threads illuminate the walkway.  You are relieved when the spider leads you back to the inactive part of the loom.  The past.  It illuminates two threads – amethyst and emerald.  A sapphire and white thread are dimly glowing nearby.   You assume the emerald thread is yours, so you touch the amethyst thread first.   Nothing.  The thread is lifeless under your hands.   Curious, you try the sapphire thread and get the same non-reaction.   Touching the emerald thread, you are swept up into a memory long forgotten, but the Loom of Fate remembers.

You are warm and sleepy.   You lick the sweet taste of milk from your lips and shift in your blanket.   You hear voices above you.  At first the sounds are meaningless, but you once you realize that you are no longer an infant, the voices began to have meaning.

“He’s adorable.  Such red hair!”  You hear Nanny exclaim.   You feel the gentle thud of her heartbeat as you lay against her warm chest.

“That he is.  I had to pry him from Yeva’s arms when she brought him into my office. “  Akachi’s deep voice answers.   “Is Sasha up yet?”

“No.”  Nanny lays you down in a basket.  “I’ll start on breakfast.  That should rouse her out of bed.”   The goddess disappears from sight and a dark hand holding a small bright blue stuffed Yeddim appears in her place.  The Yeddim dances around in front of your face.    You reach for it with your hands and the Yeddim tickles you.  You giggle and kick the Yeddim away with your feet.

“At least this one is a smiler.”  Akachi’s face appears smiling down at you.   “Naoko cried for two days straight when she first got here.”

“Who?”   Nanny clatters some pans around in the kitchen.

“Never mind. “  Akachi places the Yeddim next to you and moves out of sight.   “Look who’s awake!”

“Akachi!  Are we going on another trip?”  You hear a girl’s voice ask.

“Not today, Sasha.   I’m just dropping off your little brother.”

“Little brother?”   A small nine year old girl with dark sleep-muddle hair appears, warily looking into your basket.   You have never seen Sasha with brown eyes before.   “Where did he come from?”

“From the North.”  Akachi does not explain more than that.   “Would you like to hold him?”

Sasha bites her lip as she considers Akachi’s question.   She is not sure about this new little brother. Then she smiles and nods.  With careful hands, Akachi picks you up.   You fuss a little as Akachi shows Sasha how to hold you…

“There you are, Svante.”  Elder Kejak interrupts you.   “What are you looking at there?”

“Um…”

When you don’t answer, Elder Kejak touches Nanny’s glowing white thread.  “You are trying to reclaim your lost memories of Sasha?”

You weren’t even aware you could do that, but you nod anyways.   “Why I can’t access Sasha’s thread?”

“We can’t access each other threads.  A professional courtesy the Maidens have given us.”  With a look of warning, Elder Kejak gently taps once against your thread.   You suck in air as you feel the equivalent of the Elder tapping on your shoulder.  “We also know who touches our threads.  Sometimes we use this to summon each other to the Loom in emergencies.”

“Oh, no.”   You touched Akachi’s thread.  You summoned him here!

Elder Kejak continues, unaware of your distress. “Fortunately, it was Sasha’s thread you touched.  She will be pleased to find out you have access to the Loom.  She has been badgering Akachi since your Exaltation for you to be allowed here.  Sasha has her hands full with the Shogun at the Chrysanthemum Manse, so we have time to get a message to her….”

“I touched Akachi’s thread, too!”  You interrupted panicked.

Elder Kejak rubs his forehead and mumbles.  “And I convince Keeper not to tell Akachi for a few days.”  In a more normal tone of voice, he asks, “How long ago did you summon him?”

“About five or ten minutes.   I didn’t know!  You didn’t tell me!”  Akachi is the last person you want to see right now.

“It will be fine, Svante.  I’ll take care of it.”

“But…”

“I said I will take care of it!”   Elder Kejak snaps, leaving no room for argument.  “Follow me.”  He tucks his arms in his robe sleeves and briskly walks away from the Yu-Shan section of the Loom.  You meekly follow behind the Elder Sidereal.   After a minute or two of walking, Elder Kejak, in a calmer tone, says “It wasn’t your fault, Svante.  I should have warned you not to touch any of the other Sidereals’ threads.”

When you say nothing, Elder Kejak continues.  “Don’t worry about Akachi.   He will be annoyed at me, not you.  Just say silent and let me do the talking.”

That wasn’t what you were worried about.  You were worried about breaking down screaming at Akachi for deceiving you.  You are sure Akachi thought he had good intentions, but he took you from your family!  You bottle your anger because you couldn’t let anyone know what you knew.   Not yet.  You were planning on seeing your parents and no one was going to stop you.

You turn a corner and find Akachi waiting for you by the doors of the Loom of Fate.   The Owl is standing next to him looking uneasy.

“Svante, are you okay?”   A very worried Akachi looks you over.   Not trusting your voice, you nod.   Akachi turns to Elder Kejak.  “What did you show him?”

“The School, the Wyld Edges of Creation, and Yu-Shan.”  Elder Kejak calmly says.

“Nothing else?”

“I did not show him anything else.”  The Elder does not mention you running off on your own.   You hope the Owl doesn’t either.

“We will discuss this later,” Akachi promises Elder Kejak.  The Elder Joybringer motions to you to leave.

Undeterred, Elder Kejak continues, “Svante is stronger than you realize.  His first visit to the Loom better than most adults’.”

Akachi growls, “I said we will discuss this later, Chejop.”

The Owl puts his hand on your shoulder, “Svante, let’s go.”

“I’m not done with my lesson yet, Keeper.”  Elder Kejak states.   “You still need to pick up your book.  Come back to my office, Svante.  ”   You follow Elder Kejak back to his office with Akachi and the Owl trailing behind.  When back at his office, Elder Kejak offers you the Five Moons of Denial.  In retaliation, you hold up Pretty Dragon Princess Meru.

With Akachi and the Owl watching, you and the Elder Oracle reluctantly exchange the unwanted reading material.   You slide the heavy book into your bag, feeling like you got the worst end of the deal.   Elder Kejak grimaces as he slips the manga into a drawer.

“I’ll take Svante home, Akachi.  I’m sure you and Chejop have much to discuss.”   Akachi considers the Owl’s offer for a moment and nods.   You follow the Owl out of Elder Kejak’s office and onto the streets of Yu Shan.

“What did you see while you were wandering around alone, Svante?”  The Owl asks.   When you don’t answer, the Owl sighs. “You don’t have to tell me what you saw, if you don’t want to.  I can probably guess.  I didn’t want to keep secrets from you, but that was among the price I had to pay to be a part of your life.”

A little of your rage slips out.  “Do you think I fucking care what price you had to pay?”  You squeeze your fist and rebottle up your anger.  You didn’t want the Owl to try to stop you from going North.

“Svante…” The Owl’s feathers droop.  “Whatever you do, don’t bring your bag with you. “

“Just leave me alone.”  You sprint the rest of the way back to Akachi’s Manse, quickly outdistancing the Owl.  Mei Mei greets you happily at the door.  You snatch the puppy up and stomp up to your room.  You slam the door.  You toss your bag to the floor and throw yourself on to the bed.  Mei Mei tries to cheer you up by licking your face.  You rub the puppy’s fur as you consider your next step.

Where are you going to go next?

  • Directly to see your family. There is no time to waste!
  • Go to the Chrysanthemum Manse and find Sasha. If she was raised by Nanny, then she was kidnapped too!
  • Get Wanahton’s help. He knows Creation better than anyone and he knows the fastest way to get anywhere.
  • Go to Vanchow and talk to Chiyoko. You were already planning on sneaking out to see her tonight.  It will give you a good cover for your trip North.
  • Talk to the Owl. Maybe you were harder on the old bird than you needed to be.
  • Other

What are you going to do with the bag?

  • Bring the bag with you.
  • Leave the bag in your room.
  • Drop the Bag off with someone.
  • Dispose of the Bag.
  • Other

(( Two questions!  Wanted to see if Svante has any unfinished business in Yu-Shan/Blessed Isle before heading North.  ))

((I could have made this post SO much longer.  Fucking Loom and its access to almost EVERYTHING!))

84 – Alive

“I want to know the truth.   The truth about Lunars.   Not whatever is printed in the Five Moons of Denial.”  You know based on attending classes with your friends that Dragonblooded aren’t told the whole truth.   If Dragonblooded are given that book to read, then it won’t tell you what you want to know.  “Are they monsters?”

Elder Kejak rustles around in his desk drawer and pulls out a small book with a black leather cover.    “This is the Five Moons of Denial that the Dragonblooded are given to read. “  You catch the book as the Elder Sidereal slides across the desk.   Flipping to the end, this version of the Five Moons of Denial was no more than two hundred pages long.   “Svante, with me, you will get nothing but the pure, undiluted truth.”  Elder Kejak pats the larger copy of the Five Moons of Denial.  “The book we will read is the unabridged version.  Written by a Lunar before the Usurpation.”

“A Lunar wrote it?”

“Yes, though we don’t tell the Dragonblooded this.   Who better to teach you about the Lunar mind than a Lunar?”  You hand back the abridged copy of the Five Moons of Denial.  “Though, Lunars are a much different animal today than they were while dominated by their Solar Masters.   The Desert Fox, the Lunar you interacted with during your mission, is rather young – she has lived less than a mortal’s lifespan.   Up until she disappeared eight years ago, Uma participated in raids on Shogunate military installations in the South.    Her disappearance was worrying, but it isn’t the first time a Lunar vanished.  We assumed she was killed by one of the hazards of the Wyld.”

“But she is still alive. “

“Thanks to you, we know that she is alive.   Sasha mentioned that you said she had a child.   About seven years old?”

You nod.   Elder Kejak continues. “Parenthood has a habit of rearranging one’s priorities.   She must have left her Lunar masters and hid in the Western Isles to raise her child.”

“So Lunars are not monsters?”

Elder Kejak leans back.  “They are as human as any other Exalt.”

You are still confused.  “So, why do we hunt them?”

In answer, Elder Kejak gets up from his chair and heads towards the door of his office.  He motions to you to follow.

“Where are we going?”  You ask suspiciously.   Of course Elder Kejak stops just when you are getting the answers you are looking for.

“To the Loom of Fate.”

“Really?!”  You didn’t really expect to get access to the Loom.   You figured you start there and bargain down.

The Elder Sidereal smiles, his emerald eyes shining.   “That is what you are really asking for, Svante, isn’t it?”

 

Compared to the other shining, towering buildings in Yu-Shan, the Loom of Fate is squat and windowless building, barely two stories tall.  One of the Celestial Lions out front growls as you approach, but does nothing more as Elder Kejak escorts you though the front door.   Despite the lack of windows on the building, the light of Unconquered Sun shines down through the tall multicolored windowpanes of the long and airy room.  Rows of desks march though the Atrium towards a large set of double doors at the end of the room.   Bureau of Destiny gods are dispersed around the desks, preparing to enter the Loom.   As they sort through boxes of prayer scrolls, they whisper quietly to their companions and watch you and Elder Kejak pass.

Elder Kejak places a hand on your shoulder and guides you though the crowds of loitering gods.  “The Loom of Fate can be startling.  It’s a perfectly natural reaction when you see the Loom for the first time.  Some Sidereals even flee.”

“Did you flee?” you ask, curious.

“No, but I was much older than you are now.   There is no shame if you run.  If you do, then we can go back in when you are ready.”

“I’m not going to run.”  You assure the Elder.   You didn’t have any memories of the Loom of Fate from Rikali, but people go in and out of the Loom every day.   It can’t be that scary.  At the end of the Atrium, you and Elder Kejak stand before a towering set of starmetal double doors adorned with carvings of the Five Maidens of Destiny.   Clothed in flowing robes, their arms are spread in welcome.   Jupiter, in particular, stares down at you from on high.   Looking into your Patron carved metals eyes, you have a sense of being watched and judged.

Elder Kejak doesn’t seem to be bothered by the door’s carvings.  “Ready?”

You don’t answer as your earlier bravo deserts you.  Your mouth feels dry and your heart pounds.   The Loom of Fate.  You’ve heard so many stories of it.   Sasha would mention visiting the Loom as the highlight of her day.  Wanahton, who used to take walks in Creation to clear his head after a long day, once given access to the Loom, would take walks there instead.  Were you ready for the Loom?

“Yes.   I’m ready.”  You take a step forward to stand beside the other Sidereal.

With both hands, Elder Kejak pushes open the doors.    A chilly breeze, filled with anticipation and potential, caresses your face.  You can see nothing but darkness inside.   “Go on.  I’m right behind you.”  The elder smiles down at you reassuringly and you take your first tentative steps into the Loom of Fate.

The freezing air burns your sinuses as you enter the Loom.   It is winter in Creation and the Loom’s temperature must change with the seasons.   Shivering, you cross your arms and continue on.    You walk into the dark room, not really seeing much.   The doors behind you slam, leaving you in darkness. You turn around in a panic.    Elder Kejak’s voice emerges like a beacon in the night.  “I’m still here, Svante.”

Comforted, you close your eyes to help them adjust.   When you open them, you notice the room isn’t dark at all.  A faint glow radiates from the cobwebs arrayed around the Loom.   You take a few more steps forward and see small pattern spiders crawl up thin strands of glowing thread.  A larger topaz pattern spider walks over them on some unknown errand.

This didn’t seem too bad.  What was everyone talking about?   You take a step back and look around, trying to get your bearings.   Your eyes grow wide, when you realize just how large the Loom of Fate actually is.   Miles and miles of walkways and stairs wind though the well-ordered threads of Fate.    In the distance, you see a few gods amble along the walkway, so far away they are the size of ants.

There was so much to take in.   You no longer feel the cold, your eyes darting from one section of the loom to the next.  Time loses all meaning as you stand there, staring at the Loom of Fate.  Finally, you say.  “It’s…. Beautiful.”   Beautiful… Beautiful was such an inadequate word for what the Loom of Fate was.   Yet it was the only word you had.  Tears fill your eyes, though you are not sure if it from emotion or simply not blinking.  You look up at Elder Kejak with shining eyes.  He smiles down at you, pleased, and says “Stay close.  It is easy to get lost.  If we do get separated, you can ask a pattern spider for assistance.”

You follow Elder Kejak through the twisting walkways and stairs.    You are quickly disoriented and, without Elder Kejak as a guide, you know you will not be able to find your way back.   “How do you know where you are going?”

“Instinct, mostly.  It takes Sidereals a few years to figure out where they are going without the help of a pattern spider.   Here we are!”  The Elder gently brushes a few delicate strands.  You take a step closer and see that the strands are not all white, as you assumed but glow with a faint colored light.    “This is the school your friends attend.    I believe they have just finished up class for the day and are heading for dinner. “   Elder Kejak steps aside and indicates where.   “It is usually difficult to pick out individuals but important Exalts will sometimes stand out.”   You begin to reach out with your hand to touch the Loom.  “Gentle now!” Elder Kejak cautions.  “You don’t want to get multiple impressions at once.”

You hesitate and observe the loom before choosing a strand glowing with a white-orange light.   You smile when you realize who it is.   Chiyoko.

Masaru is talking to her about something, but Chiyoko is ignoring him and staring off in the distance.  Aiko attracts her attention and asks about tonight’s sword practice.   As you listen in on their conversation, you consider sneaking out tonight and visiting Chiyoko.

“Svante?”  Elder Kejak’s voice interrupts you.    “Did you find Lung Chiyoko’s strand?”

You remove your hand from the Loom and shyly smile at the elder.

The Elder Sidereal returns your smile.  “Strands of those we care about are the easiest for us to find.  Though it is considered impolite to eavesdrop.  Come along this way.”  Elder Kejak leads you to the darker edges of the loom.   “Creation is an island surrounded by a sea of Wyld energy.  It is only the goings-on of Creation’s various inhabitants that keeps the chaos at bay. “

Elder Kejak points out all of the different types of Pattern Spiders as they go about their duties.  “Secrets.” Emerald Pattern Spiders spin the delicate newborn threads of Fate.  “Journeys.” Topez spiders weave the threads into the loom, making sure not a single one was out of place.   “Battles.”  Glistening ruby spiders dart from strand to strand, the threads vibrating in their wake.   “Serenity.”  Soothing sapphire spiders follow behind, calming threads disturbed by the Ruby Spiders. “Endings.”  Amethyst spiders, their fangs larger than the rest of the spiders, patrol the Loom for frayed threads..

“But,” you notice something that confuses you.  “Why is Secrets laying the new strands, not Serenity?”

“Venus and Mars presides over sex and rape, but it is Jupiter is the spinner of the threads of life.”  Elder Kejak lectures.  “All desire starts as a secrets in one’s heart.  Only when that secret is revealed, then the possibility of a new life can begin.  ”   Kejak pauses in his explanation to ask. “Does talking about these subjects bother you, Svante?”

“What? No.”   Anything having to do with the Loom of Fate was fascinating.

“Good.  I told Akachi that you were not as delicate as he believes.   Hiding the tragedies of Creation from you does not make them cease to exist.   If we are to fulfil our purpose to the Maidens, we must confront the reality of a situation, no matter how terrible.”    You and Elder Kejak move on.

You walk for a long while along the walkways towards the darker, less populated part of the loom.  “This part of the loom represents the very edge of Creation, where the Wyld wears away at our reality like waters on the sands of the beach.”    You and Elder Kejak pause before a vibrating section Loom.  You watch in horror as the whisper fine cobwebs fray and snap. The pattern spiders vainly try to repair the section but suddenly begin to flee to calmer sections of the loom.   Before your eyes, the vibrating section disintegrates into chaos.

“Those people died!”  People died right before your eyes and there was nothing you could do.  You have never felt so helpless.

“Yes.”  Elder Kejak agrees.  “Living on the edges of Creation is dangerous.    I suspect something from the Wyld came to attack them.”

“Is someone going to investigate?”  There had to be something, someone could do.

“It’s too late for them, Svante.  Those people knew the risks of living outside the protection of the Shogunate Legions.   We can’t save everyone.  We need to focus our efforts and resources on those we can save.”    Elder Kejak walks away from the damaged section.   You watch as Amethyst Pattern Spiders come to clean up the shredded edges.  Elder Kejak calls your name and you hurry to catch up.

“Look closely around you, Svante.  See how delicate the threads of fate are?   If we do not take care, the entire Loom could collapse into chaos.  Creation literally survives on a thread.  “   Having seen the section of the Loom fall, you have a better understanding of what the elder Sidereal is talking about.

“You ask why we hunt the Lunars.    Akachi did not lie when he said that Lunars would like to see everything we have built since the Usurpation torn down.   We offered to the Lunars a seat at the table after the Usurpation, but they turned it down.   It is the Shogunate Dragonblooded that stands between the people of Creation and the chaos of the Fair Folk hordes.   It is our job as Sidereals to stand by their side and support them as they protect Creation.  If Lunars cannot stand with us, then their actions are a danger to the Loom and to Creation.  “

“So I was wrong to let the Desert Fox go.”   You realize miserably.  If only you have seen the Loom sooner.  Then you would have understood what was at stake!

“It will not be long before she returns to her Lunar Masters.  I wouldn’t worry, Svante.   Just because we are Celestial Exalts does not mean we do not make mistakes.   The Desert Fox cannot outrun the Wyld Hunt forever.”   Elder Kejak looks around the Loom, considering what to show you next.  “Now, if we head this way…”

“Svante?” The Keeper of the Locks turns a corner and walks over.     “What are you doing here?”  The Loom was a vast and confusing place.  How did the Owl know how to find you?  You remember the whispering gods from the Atrium.  “Elder Kejak, Good evening.    Does Elder Akachi know that you are showing Svante the Loom of Fate?”

“Good Evening, Keeper.   Jupiter has assigned me to teach Svante whatever I feel is necessary.” Elder Kejak says without a hint of apology.  There is an edge to the Elder Sidereal’s tone that puts you on guard.  You unconsciously take a step back.

The Owl ruffles his feathers, but continues.  “I do not believe a trip to the Loom of Fate was on the lesson plan you showed me…”

“I showed you that lesson plan as a courtesy…”   You groan in frustration.  The adults were going to argue about you like you weren’t even there.   You decide to explore the Loom for a bit.   If the Owl knows you were in the Loom of Fate, he is sure to tell Akachi.  Who knows when Akachi will allow you to come back?  You sneak away until you are out of sight of the adults and get a pattern spider’s attention.   There is something in particular you want to find out.

“I want to know about my parents.”  You ask a Pattern Spider of Endings.   You aren’t sure if this is how the Loom works, but it is how your personal pattern spider works.   “I want to know how they….”  You pause, not wanting to say ‘how they died’.   You swallow the lump in your throat and continue. “I want to know their fate.”   The Loom was capable of going into the past, you know this much.

The Spider twitches, acknowledging your command and crawls over the various parts of the loom.    Instead of going to the less active past, it leads you away from the edges of Creation to a small dim section of the loom where very few people live.  A small village, you assume.  You will have to ask Elder Kejak about it later.  The Spider reaches out with its jeweled leg and illuminates two strands at opposite ends of the glowing village.   Its mission complete, the Pattern Spider wanders back the way it came.

You step up, confused and brush your fingers against one of the glowing strands.

Blood.  The first thing you notice is the scent of blood.  You are looking down at a sweating man.   His pant leg is torn open and bloody, his leg bone breaking through his skin.  You hear a soothing voice.   The healer, whom this strand belongs to, is trying to calm the man.

“We need to set this leg and get you sewn up.”   A cup appears before you filled with a bitter smelling, clear liquid.  A young woman, no more than eighteen years old, is offering the cup.   She has long ash blond hair bound up in a loose braid.  Her eyes drawn your attention.   Her eyes were amber, like a flickering candle.   Was she descended from the blood of the dragons?

The healer takes the cup from the young woman and looks back at her patient, hindering you from searching for more aspect markings on the other woman.  “Drink this and you won’t feel a thing.”  The healer helps her patient sip from the cup.   When the patient empties the cup, the healer sets the cup aside and places her hand on his forehead.  “Rest.  Let us work. You’ll be up on two feet in no time.”

You move your hand away from the strand, confused.   Why did the spider show you this?   You move further down the strand, closer to the present.   The man is sleeping now, his leg bandaged and set.   The young woman is nowhere to be seen.   The healer stands at a basin, washing blood off of her hands.    She is through – even using a little brush to scrub underneath her nails.   When she is finishes, she cups clean water in her hands and rinses the sweat off of her face.  Looking up in the mirror above the basin, you can clearly see what the healer looks like.  She is a middle-aged woman with ash blond hair.   Her eyes….

You retreat from the strand, shocked at what you see.   You quickly move to the second glowing strand.   In front of you is a ship being unloaded of fish.   A deep and strong voice is negotiating a price for his ship’s haul with an older woman.  But you don’t care about that.  You want to see what this man looks like.   Why doesn’t he look into the water or something so you can see his reflection?  Then you realize that you are being an idiot.  You move your hand over to the thread of the old woman he is talking to.   The ship’s captain stands with his arms crossed, towering over the woman as he argues fish prices.   His hair is fire red….just like yours.

You move back where you found the healer’s strand.   You touch the strand of the young woman.   The healer dries her face and starts to give instructions for dinner.    You watch her light brown eyes as she speaks to the younger woman.  Light brown eyes, just like yours before your Exaltation.

Your parents… They are alive!

What do you do?

  • Confront Elder Kejak and the Owl about this revelation
  • Confront Akachi about the fact he never told you that your family is still alive
  • Tell no one what you saw.
  • Other

 

83 – Battle of Wits

“I want you to read this,”  You slide a copy of current issue of Metal Gods across the table.   The Fire Aspect War Strider pilot, Ka Hi, is kneeling in front of her damaged war strider, jade parts of it scattered around her.   In the background is the behemoth, Itsumade – the current villain of Metal Gods.  The Winged Snake behemoth is reared up above Ka Hi.  Its wings are thrown back and its many vulture heads open in a toothy scream.

Elder Kejak stares at the manga and snorts.  “Did Akachi put you up to this?  In revenge for the puppy?”

“What?”  What does this have to do about Akachi and Mei Mei?

“Never mind,”  Elder Kejak picks up the manga and flips through it.  You watch as he pauses every so often to study a page.   “Well, it isn’t that long.  Is this what you like to read instead of books?”

“My favorite manga is Kill Fire Sword, but I thought you would like this better.”   Warming to the topic, you continue.   “The Crimson Squad attacked Itsumade, but they were unprepared for her mighty wind attack.   The Squad were forced to retreat and focus on evacuating the villagers.   Ka Hi’s War Strider, The Flame of Hesiesh, was damaged in the battle.  ”

“Hmmm… “  Kejak closes the manga and sets it on the desk.    “Has Akachi ever told you about the history of Metal Gods?”  You shake your head.  You have never heard Akachi talk about Manga, though he seemed pleased in your interest in them.   Each week, a neat stack of the newest manga were waiting for you on your desk.  “He created it.” Kejak told you.

“What?!”  You have never heard this before!

“Yes.  Before the Lung Dynasty was founded, Creation was broken up into fiefdoms, each ruled by a Dragonblooded Warlord.   Creation was constantly at war as each Shogun vied for supremacy and many artifacts from before the Usurpation were lost and destroyed.   Akachi came up with the idea of instilling a reverence of artifacts in Dragonblooded when they were young.”  Elder Kejak slides the manga back over to you.  “Thus Metal Gods.  The Manga ended up reaching further than its intended audience.   I believe the first Lung Shogun was a fan.   “

You pick up the manga and look at the Manga with new eyes.  “Does he still draw it?”

“Not for the past century.   He handed Metal Gods off to a Dragonblooded Artist.   Akachi was already using a succession of Resplendent Destinies, so there wasn’t of a fuss with the transfer.  I think there have been what… five different artists since then.”

“Why didn’t he tell me?”   Sometimes you feel like you will never truly know your guardian.

“I suspect it was a painful subject for Akachi.  When he quit said he wasn’t able to keep up with the demanding schedule, but I suspect it had more to do with the earlier issues being lost due to Arcane Fate.   It is impossible to find any of the early copies of the Manga, something as a fan you must be aware of.  “  You nod, having heard about Masaru complaining about the missing Metal Gods manga.  Kejak leans forward.  “I read an issue of Metal Gods, you read a chapter of the Five Moons of Denial.   That seems like a fair trade.  Do you agree?”

You didn’t expect Elder Kejak to actually agree to this trade.   Elder Kejak bridges his fingers as he observers you and you get the idea that the elder enjoys watching you squirm.

No.  That is not right at all.  Something about Kejak’s manner reminds you of your Sifu, Yeva.   Despite being a better Martial Arist than you, Yeva still enjoys sparing with you.  Not because you are easy to defeat but because she enjoys challenging you.  Watching you figure out how to beat her.  Watching you become better.

Elder Kejak was sparing with you.  But this was not a battle of arms but a battle of wits.   Which means you can win this, if you figure out how.

Reading Metal Gods was not enough to deter the Elder Sidereal.    “No.  You’ve already read Metal Gods.  You have to read something new.”

“Really, Svante.”  Kejak begins his next argument as you dig through your bag for another manga.  “Just because I may have glanced though an issue once, doesn’t mean I have read it.”  You pull out Pretty Dragon Princess Meru.   Princess Meru, a smudge of dirt marring her cheek, winks at you from the cover.   Her sword is thrown casually across her shoulders, giving you a nice view of her cleavage.  You present the manga to Elder Kejak.

He takes one look at the cover and says, “No.”

You try not to smile.  “If you get to choose what I read, I get to choose what you read. “

“You misunderstand our relationship, Svante.  I am the teacher, you are the student.  You will read what I tell you to read. “

The Owl has said the same thing to you before and it hasn’t worked yet.  “You can’t make me read that stupid book.”

“You haven’t even opened the Five Moons.  Why not give it a chance?” Elder Kejak asks reasonably.

“You haven’t opened Pretty Dragon Princess Meru.  Why not give it a chance?”  You counter in the same tone.

“Is having me read a manga really that important to you?”  You try to look away from Elder Kejak’s emerald eyes, but something holds your gaze.   “Is that all you really want out of this exchange?”

You are about to say “no” but stop yourself.   You suddenly realize that you will not walk out of this room without agreeing to read this book.   Unless… You look at the book not as a burden but as currency.   What can you get out of Elder Kejak in exchange for reading it?

You could get access to the truth.

“You said that the library is the greatest source of information to me, but that is wrong.   The Loom of Fate is the greatest source of information to me or would be if I was allowed access to it.”

Elder Kejak smiles, pleased with you for some reason.  “Technically I was right, since Akachi believes that you are not old enough to responsibly handle the information the Loom would give you.”

You make a face at this.  “Akachi wants me to be a kid forever.”

“And you?  What do you want to be, Svante?  What do you want?”  The elder’s emerald eyes watch you intently as he waits for your answer.

What do you want?

  • “I want to be a hero of Creation. To protect and serve the people of Creation”
  • “I want to be a sorcerer. To learn the secrets of Creation and know how to use them.”
  • “I want to know the truth. How can I make good decisions if I don’t know everything I need to?”
  • “I want to know about my past. How can I find out where I am going when I don’t know where I come from?“
  • Other

 

((Pretty Dragon Princess Meru is famous (or infamous) for its fan service. ))

((I figured the best way to resolve the tie was to give the Metal Gods voters the background they wanted and the Princess Meru voters to confront Kejak with the idea of reading Magical Pretty Girl Manga. ))

(( Next week and hereafter, Hero will update on a Monday and Thursday schedule.  Gives me more time to write. ))