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

 

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