93 – Bark

“Feeble?!”  You say indignantly.  “Is it so hard to believe that an orphan would want to know where they came from?  All my life I have always wondered, but no one told me anything.”   Your fist clenches as you remember the thousands of unanswered questions you have asked Nanny and Akachi.   “I had to find out for myself.  Yu Shan keeps records of everything.”

“You don’t need to take me away.  Someone is going to be coming for me sooner or later and take me back to Yu-Shan.”   Mei Mei licks the tears you hadn’t noticed off of your face.  “This is my only chance to get to know my family.   Please.   I don’t mean them any harm.   Your charms tell you that I’m not lying.  “

Gudleifr looks away and says “I have to bring you back to the Garrison.  I’m just following orders.”

“Gudleifr,” you hear your mother’s footsteps behind you.  “I know you mean well, but why the boy can’t at least stay the night.”   You feel your mother’s warm hand on your shoulder.  “We got the room for him and it wouldn’t be any trouble at all.”  Mei Mei barks and wags her tail.

Gudleifr shakes her head.  “You don’t understand what you are offering.  I can’t let you do this.   It’s not safe.   Kaja, you don’t even know who the boy is!”

“He’s a lost child, Gudleifr.”  Your mother says as if it explains everything.  “You checked the boy out and he isn’t lying.”

“Fine.”  Gudleifr rubs the bridge of her nose.  “I’ll be back for the boy in the morning.”   Thanking your mother for the tea, the Dragonblooded Medic leaves the cabin.

“Mother,”  Linnea approaches.  “Are you sure you should be ignoring Gudleifr?”

“Gudleifr can be overprotective at times.”   Your mother seasons her stewpot and smiles.  “A city of Gods.  I never really thought about gods needing a city, but I guess they need a place to live just like us little folk.”

Linnea glares at her mother.  “Why aren’t you taking this seriously?!”

Kaja slams her spice jar down on the counter and faces her daughter.  “I am taking this seriously.  Svante says he was kidnapped and we may be the only relatives he has.   Have you ever known me to turn away a child?”

“This kid isn’t like the other kids.   We don’t know who is coming to get him!”

“Gudleifr says he means us no harm and I trust her judgement.”

Linnea makes a disgusted sound.  “First you ignore Gudleifr’s advice and now you trust her judgement?  Do you know how stupid that sounds?”

“Linnea,  don’t sass…”  Your mother begins.

“Whatever.”   Your sister grabs her coat and leaves the cabin, slamming the door.

You sit there awkwardly at the kitchen table.  You didn’t mean to cause your family problems.  “Should I leave?”

“No,”  Your mother begins to strip the bed that the man with the broken leg was lying on.   He must have gone home.    “Linnea doesn’t like strangers.   She hasn’t since she was about Elise’s age.”

Which was the age she would have been when you were taken away.   Sudden hope blossoms inside you.  “Did anything happen?”  Perhaps your sister remembered something about you!

“What do you mean did anything happen?”  Your mother pauses in her work, forehead creased in concentration.  “I don’t think so.  If anything happened, Linnea hasn’t told me.”

You’ll have to ask your sister later, if she would talk to you.  “The medic left when you said that I was a lost child.  Why do you help lost children?”

“I’m a healer.  I help everyone.”   There is a knock on the door.  Mei Mei wiggles out of your arms and races your mother to meet whoever it is at the door.   You hold your breath and grab the edge of your chair.   Has Akachi finally come to take you away?

Your mother answers it and one of the other villagers says her grandmother is sick.

“Let me go wake up Elise and we’ll head over.   She’s going to be so grouchy not having a full nap.  Unless….Would you watch her, Svante?”

“Mei Mei and I can watch her,”  You didn’t really want to visit a sick old woman.

“That would be wonderful.”  Your mother pauses in collecting her supplies, looking confused.

“What is it?”  you ask.

“I shouldn’t be ordering you around like one of my children.”

You shrug.  “I don’t mind.” Secretly, you are pleased by this.  Perhaps your mother unconsciously realizes who you are.

Your mother closes the flap of her bag.  “Linnea should be back soon.  She shouldn’t give you any trouble.  Her bark is worse than her bite.”

After your mother leaves, you don’t really know what to do with yourself.   You stir the stew, revealing browned chucks of venison, bright orange carrots, and red potatoes.   You recover the pot and realize that maybe you should check on your little sister.  You head upstairs and look around the attic.  The room was divided into three sections.   One area has a spinning wheel and loom.  Clothes are scattered around Bendt’s section.   The walls of Elise’s section are covered in shelves of dolls.   Elise herself is nested in a bed of rag dolls and is deeply asleep.  Mei Mei leaps onto the bed and curls up into a puppy sized hollow near Elise’s head.

You pull over a stool and sit by your sister’s bed.   How long did little sisters sleep?   You rub your face and tap your fingers on your knee.   You look at all the various dolls displayed around the room until two catch your eye.    You get up and pick one up for a closer look.

The porcelain doll wears an embroidered silk komodo and its blonde hair has been elaborated braided around its face.  The dolls share your sister’s coloring – one has grey blue eyes, the other amber.  These dolls were familiar to you. It takes you a moment to remember where you have seen them before.

Yu Shan.  You’ve seen dolls like this in the shops of Yu Shan.

How did your sisters get Yu Shan dolls?   You mother knew nothing about the City of Gods, yet someone from Yu Shan must have given the dolls to them.   Suddenly everything falls into place.   The serene picture perfect village.   The Dragoblooded Medic watching over your family.   Gudleifr said powerful people were protecting your family.

Akachi has been watching over them.

You wipe the tears from your eyes.   Akachi took you from your family and yet he also took care of them for you.   For what?  Out of a misplaced sense of guilt?   To pay them for the child he stole?

The door squeals open downstairs.   “Hello?” you hear your older sister call out tentatively.

Your emotions in a jumble, you put the doll back on itself and head downstairs.  “Someone came by needing a healer.  Elise is…”

Linnea reaches out to grab you.  Years of Martial Arts training kicks in and you take a step back, easily dodging her.  Using her own momentum against her, you push your sister against the wall.

“What the fuck?” you yell.   Why was your sister attacking you?

“What did you do with my brother?”  She struggles under you grip, but you have leverage against her.  “You left with Bendt after breakfast and he didn’t come back with you.  I looked all over town and didn’t find him.”

What do you do?

  • Tell your sister Bendt left with the traders to join his Father’s crew
  • Tell your sister nothing. Find your mother and tell her what happened.
  • Go after your brother yourself.
  • Other

 

((When I was nine, I was considered mature enough to watch my little sister.  When my little sister was nine, she still needed watching.  ))

((So, I confused which coast Wallport was on.   Thankfully, Neighborhood Relocation Scheme exists to fix my continuity error later.   Hey, didn’t Svante favor Dodge?))

92 – Caretaker

The last thing you wanted was to go anywhere with this Dragonblooded Medic.  “Ma’am, can we stay inside?  It’s wet out there.”  You snuggle closer to Mei Mei.

Gudleifr considers your request.  “Kaja, you don’t mind if I commandeer your kitchen for while?”

Your mother’s eyes bounces between you and the Dragonblooded.  She stands up from the table and smooths her dress with trembling hands.  “I should check on Elise.”

After your mother leaves, you sit in her chair.   Gudleifr calmly picks up her white tea cup and takes a sip.  You study the Dragonblooded, trying to figure out her purpose here.  Did Akachi send her?  You assumed your guardian would come get you himself, not send some unfamiliar Dragonblooded.   You scratch Mei Mei behind her ears and wait for Gudleifr to speak first.

Gudleifr frowns and asks,   “Is your name really Svante?”

“Yes.”

“What Gent are you from?”

“I don’t have a Gent.”  Gudleifr’s pine green eyebrow raises in surprise to your response.  “I’m descended from Gent Cinead.” You add to flesh out your story more.

“Of course you are.”  Gudleifr mutters under her breath.   In a normal tone, she continues, “You aren’t from the North.  Skytongue isn’t your native language.  Your accent is familiar to me, but I can’t place it.”

This Dragonblooded must have had contact with Sidereals, but not enough to break though Arcane Fate.    You decide to test the medic to be sure.  “I’m from Yu-Shan.”

“The City of Gods?”  Gudleifr bursts out laughing.   “Why don’t you start again and this time tell me something I’d actually believe.  Where are you from?”

“I’m from Yu-Shan.”  You repeat.   The Dragonblooded medic’s eyes widen in shock.   “You are using truth charms on me!”  Neither Akachi nor the teachers at school ever used charms on you.  Only the most dangerous of problem students get that treatment.

“This mortal family is under my protection.  If you have business with them, you have business with me.”  Gudleifr holds your gaze.   “Why are you here, little boy?”

Undaunted you reply, “You were already told why I am here.  I’m looking for relatives.”  Even if your family was under her protection, why would a Dragonblooded drop everything and check up on a mortal family based on a garbled note?  You need to find out more information about this Dragonblooded’s interest in your family.   “Why is this family under you protection?”

“Kaja’s children carries the blood of the Dragons.  We keep an eye out in case any of them exalt.”  Gudleifr’s answer sounds too rehearsed to be true.

“No,” you press.  “It’s more than that.   What are your orders pertaining this family?” Mei Mei growls at the medic.  Akachi must have prepared for this situation.  Make sure if you did find out about your family, there would be someone waiting here to drag you back to Yu-Shan!

 

Gudleifr sets down her tea cups and folds her hands in lap.  “This family has been placed under my protection by some powerful people.  I’ve been teaching Kaja about healing and Thamaturgy.  I’ve arranged Linnea to apprentice with a weaver.  When Bendt and Elise decide what they want to do with their lives, I’ll make arrangements for them too.  ”

“What?”  These weren’t the orders you were expecting.

“Now,” Gudleifr takes advantage of your confusion.  “Do you mean this family any harm?”

You hear a noise come from upstairs.   Having no idea how much could be heard from upstairs, you wish you had left the cabin with Gudleifr.   “No.”

Gudleifr relaxes.  “Why are you here?”

“I’m looking for relatives.”

“So you’ve said.  But what lead you to this particular family?”

Your mind races for an honest explanation which doesn’t involve the Loom of Fate.   Then you grow suspicious.   People visit healers unannounced all the time.   There has to be more to Gudleifr’s questions.  “You were given more orders.   About me.”

“About you?  My, someone thinks they are important. ”  The Dragonblooded Medic leans forward in her chair and refills her tea cup.  “You show up on Kaja’s doorstep with a feeble story about why you are here.  And you demand I answer your questions.   Svante, the only question you should be asking is what I plan to do with you?”

What do you do?

  • Let Gudleifr decide what to do with you herself
  • Force Gudleifr to leave you alone with Force Decision
  • Talk Gudleifr into leaving you alone without charms
  • Other

 

((Feeling much better.  Thank you for all the well wishes.  Of course, just after I finish writing, the vote turns the other way.    ))

91 – Brothers

You look down, disturbed by your brother’s assertion, and notice your boot is untied.  You bend down to fix it, giving yourself time to think.  Part of you wants to help Bendt, yet you hesitate.   Why?  Brothers help each other, right?  Masaru would complain about his older brothers harassing him, yet you knew that your friend would do anything for them.   And Masaru was certain his brothers would do likewise.   From the Loom of Fate, you know your father’s boat was Wallport dock.  You could tell him that the Fire Dragon was in dock.

Yet your brother didn’t realize what he was giving up if he Exalted.   That there was always a price for power.   He didn’t know about the heavy responsibility laid on every Exalt – to care for Creation and protect it from all of its enemies.

Giving your laces a final tug, you decide what to do.   You need to make Bendt understand what was at stake.  “If you Exalt, you’ll have to leave Ramshorn and go to military school. “

Bendt nonchalantly leans against a pine tree.  “Is that supposed to be a bad thing?”

You rub the back of your neck.  Your brother wasn’t getting it.  “You’d have to leave everything and everyone you know behind. Your village, your friends, your family.“

“And that’s supposed to be a bad thing.”  Bendt repeats, peeling pine bark from the tree.  The paper thin pieces litter the snow by his feet.

Bendt has no clue what how lucky he is to have his family.  What it would mean to lose them.  “Your mother loves you.”   Bendt looks away troubled.  “She’d worry about you.   You might never see her again.”  Your eyes tear up as you remember not the mother you shared with Bendt, but the one who raised you.  Arcane fate erased you from Nanny’s memory, so the goddess was spared the grief that you felt every day.  “You don’t know how much you miss someone until they are gone.”

Bendt stops shredding pine bark and meets your eyes.  “If I have a chance to Exalt, I have to take it.   I’d regret it the rest of my life if I didn’t.”

You grab your brother’s arm.  “Think about what you’d regret if you did Exalt.  What you will lose!  Don’t be in such a rush to give up your childhood, Bendt.”  Your heart skips a beat when you hear Akachi’s words come out of your mouth.  You let Bendt go, as if he burned you.

Bendt looks down on the ground.  “I’ll think about it.”  Your brother puts his hands in his pockets and leaves you by the pine tree.  Watching him leave, you know that he will continue to badger the traders about whether his father’s boat was in dock.   And one day Bendt will leave the village and never return.

After your useless talk with your brother, you wander the village alone.   Ramshorn was a peaceful, prosperous village.  A rarity in the harsh North.   A baker pulls fresh bread out of the oven.   A blacksmith inspects a horse’s foot before nailing a shoe on.  A group of girls around Linnea’s age gossip and giggle in front of the general store.  You were glad your family lives here.  Bendt was an idiot if he didn’t realize how lucky he was.

After a while you head back to your mother’s cabin.  You knock on the door and anxiously wait.  While you weren’t away for that long, you still feared your mother wouldn’t remember your earlier visit.  Mei Mei whines on the other side of the front door and you smile.  Your sister answers and recognizes you.   Mei Mei dances around you, ecstatic you are back.   With a smirk, Linnea motions you into the cabin.  You pick up the puppy and wipe your feet before entering the cabin.

You pause before entering the kitchen.  Your mother is talking with another woman whom you can’t see from the angle of the door.  Suspicious, you listen for a moment.   You are relieved when you don’t recognize the voice.   Akachi hasn’t sent someone to drag you back to Yu-Shan.   You walk to the kitchen and stop short when you see a wood aspect in a Shogunate uniform serenely sitting at the table, drinking tea.   The Dragonblooded pine green hair is braided and longer than the regulations allow.   Her taupe eyes light up when she see you enter the room.   Setting her tea aside, the wood aspect leans forward in her chair.  “Ah, it was you Linnea’s mangled message was about. “

“Oh!”  Your mother says, as if just remember you.  “That’s Svante.   He’s staying with us while he looks for his relatives.  Svante, this is Hayashi Gudleifr.  She is the Shogunate Medic assigned to the Garrison.  She drops by every so often to check up on my patients.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Svante.”  You knit your brows when you hear the medic’s patronizing tone.   You hate it when adults treat you as if you are an idiot.   “Why don’t we go for a walk?   We have a lot to talk about.”

What do you do?

  • Yes, you do have a lot to talk about with Gudleifr.
  • No, you aren’t going for a walk. Whatever this Dragonblooded has to say, she can say it here.
  • No, you aren’t going anywhere with this Dragonblooded. Leave the cabin.
  • No, you aren’t going anywhere with this Dragonblooded. Tell the Dragonblooded to leave.
  • Other

 

 

 

90- Questions

As soon as the cabin door clicks shut, Bendt asks, “Are you Dragonblooded, Svante?”

Was your brother dense?  Couldn’t he wait to question you about Dragonblooded until you were out of sight of the cabin at least?  You look though the frosty cabin window, worried your mother or Elise heard Bendt’s question.  Fortunately, your mother chatting with her patient and Elise is on the kitchen floor playing tug of war with Mei Mei.

“No.”  You answer honestly.   You jump down the steps and run through your mother’s snow covered yard.  The morning sun was quickly thawing the icy streets.   “How long have you lived in the village?”  The house you saw your mother leave your father from was different than this cabin.

“About ten years.”  With dogged determination, Bendt continues about Dragonblooded, “I was hoping you were a runaway.   Gudleifr says those Dragonblooded Schools can be rough, trying to force the students into exalting and preparing them for the Legions.  Your parents are Dragonblooded, right?”

“Nope.”  It was going to be warmer today than you thought.  You pull off your hat and unfasten the top few buttons of your coat.

“Grandparents?”

You hesitate before answering.  “No.”

“How did you find us?”

This tour was turning into an interrogation.  You put your hands in your pocket and pick up the pace.  “I asked around.”   Even if your brother knew who and what you were, it wasn’t a good idea to talk about the Loom of Fate.   You knew from Rikali’s memories the Loom’s surveillance powers makes people uncomfortable.

Bendt continues his barrage of questions.  “Where do you come from?  Did you come in through Wallport?”

You didn’t have a good answer for Bendt’s questions.  You are beginning to regret not wearing a Resplendent Destiny to visit your family.   One of the worse parts of a mission was being quizzed about your cover story.  Now, you can see why Akachi and the other Sidereals insisted on it.   “You ask a lot of questions.”

“You are Dragonblooded!”  Bendt accuses.  “That’s why you won’t answer my questions.”

“I’m not Dragonblooded.”

“I won’t tell anyone….”

You met your brother’s eyes.  “I’m not Dragonblooded. “ You repeat quietly.

Intimidated, Bendt backs off.   “Sorry, man.“  Your face burns with shame.  You didn’t mean to scare your brother.  Perhaps this whole trip was a bad idea.  You begin walking again, leaving Bendt next to a snow drift.

“Wait!”  Your brother sprints through the snow, easily catching up with his long legs.  “I understand what you are going though.   It’s the waiting that gets to you. “   Relieved Bendt came to his own conclusions about you, you slow down and let him catch up.  “I’m in the same boat as you are, Svante.  Nothing fucking happens in this Village.   No Bandit Attacks.  No Fair Folk.  Not even a fucking Blizzard.”

“Isn’t that a good thing?” After your experience with Rory and the other Fair Folk, you are mystified by anyone wanting to encounter one.

“Not if you need to exalt.”  Bendt picks up a chunk of snow and throws it at a tree truck.

“You don’t need to do something heroic to exalt.  For Dragonblooded, all you need is a high stress situation.”  It’s why the Chuzei are so rough on the students.

“What other option do I have?”    Bendt kicks a piece of ice across the cobblestone road.  “The Schools only take children of other Dragonblooded.   Kids like you and I aren’t supposed to exist.”  Officially, Dragonblooded weren’t allowed to consort with mortals.   While no Dragonblooded was ever disciplined for taking a mortal lover, they risk scandal by doing so.   Having children by a mortal was even more frowned upon.  A mortal living with Aspect Markings would be living proof Dragonblooded weren’t the pillars of virtue the Shogunate portrays them to be.

Yet as a Sidereal, your aspect markings were more of an advantage than a fault.  And as a Sidereal, you may be able to help your brother out.  Closing your eyes, you concentrate on Bendt’s thread of fate.  A child’s path though the Loom of Fate can branch out into infinite possibilities.  It was one of the reasons why you couldn’t create a Resplendent Destiny last longer than a year.  Bendt was nearing adulthood, so the directions his thread could take were just beginning to coalesce into a solid future.   While you did not see the gentle glow denoting an Exalt in his immediate future, your brother still has a chance to exalt until he was twenty.  When you get back to Yu-Shan, you can ask someone to check Bendt’s fate for you.  Unfortunately, you had nothing to tell your brother now.  Discouraged, you say, “If it is your fate to exalt, then you will exalt.”

“Fate better hurry the fuck up.  I’ll be too old soon.”

Your brother’s comment sends chills down your spine.  “You shouldn’t rush fate.”  You warn him.  “Those who do end up running afoul of Mars or Saturn.”

Bendt clenches his fist.  “Fuck, you’re just a kid.  You can still afford to wait for Fate to Exalt you.“

Your heart pounds in fear.  “You aren’t planning on doing anything, right?”

“Anything stupid, you mean?”  Bendt snorts.  ”You sound like my mother.  No.  I just want to get out of this fucking village.   I’ll have more chances to exalt working on Father’s boat.  I keep telling Mother to let me go, but she says it’s too dangerous on the White Sea.”

“I’m sixteen years old now.”  Bendt raises his chin.  “I can make my own decisions.  I keep asking the traders if they have seen my father’s boat at dock.  I’m going to go with father next time he ships out.”

 

What do you do?

  • Tell him that Father’s boat is at dock in Wallport. Go with him to meet your father.
  • Tell him that Father’s boat is at dock. Let him go and stay in the village.
  • Tell him nothing. Let your brother find out about your father’s boat on his own.
  • Other

 

89 – Breakfast

“Mei Mei!  Come here!”  Mei Mei stops begging your mother for scraps and pads over to you.   You pick her up and carry her over to Elise.  “This is Mei Mei.”

“Puppy!”  Dolls forgotten, Elise holds out her arms for Mei Mei.   You hand the puppy over and Elise giggles as Mei Mei enthusiastically licks her face.

With both puppy and little sister occupied, you approach your mother.  She is bent over a basin, peeling potatoes.  “Can I help?”  You have a lot of experience peeling potatoes from all those detentions with your Dragonblooded circle.

Your mother is surprised at your offer and gratefully hands over a sharp wood handled knife.  “Be careful, it’s sharp.”  You take the knife and peel and slice potatoes. Your mother observes your work for a moment.  Satisfied you know what you are doing, she fries up some bacon.

“Does Anders come to the village often?”  You remind yourself to be careful not to say “My Father.”

“He visits every couple of weeks.  He lives in Wallport, where his ship is docked.”  Brows furrowed, your mother stares out the window at Bendt.

You slow in your potato slicing.  “Is there something wrong?”  All you see out the window is Bendt placing a log on the chopping block.

“Sometimes, I wish Anders would stay away,” your mother whispers to herself.

“Why?” you ask.

Your mother is startled at your question.  “All his visits do is get Bendt worked up. “  She restlessly wipes down the counter.

“About what?”  Maybe you can figure out why your parent’s aren’t together anymore.

“Bendt carries the blood of the dragons, like you do.  I tell him there is little chance of him exalting, but he still hopes.”  She goes back to the stove to check on the bacon.   “Anders coming by and telling stories of Bendt’s grandfather doesn’t help.”

“There is always a chance he could exalt.”  If Bendt did exalt, your brother could join Chiyoko’s circle.

“Yes, but I’m afraid Bendt will try to do something stupid to trigger it.”  You mother checks on your potatoes. “Those potatoes need to be cut smaller or else they will take forever to cook.”

You cut the potatoes into smaller pieces.  The subject of your brother’s exaltation makes your mother uncomfortable, so you change the subject.   “What about you?”

“Me?”  She frowns.  “I’m not anyone important.”

“Everyone is important to someone.  How long have you been a healer?  Where did you get your training?”

“I’ve been healer for… ten years?  Hayashi Gudleifr, she is a Wood Aspect up at the Garrison.  She noticed I had a talent for Thaumaturgy, so…”

“You’re a Thaumaturgist?!”  You are impressed.  “That is so cool!”

Your mother shrugs.  “I only know a couple of wards.”  She smiles mischievously.   “Medicine is easier than magic.”

“Not many mortals can do Thaumaturgy.  What wards do you…”  A cup shatters on the floor.

“Linnea!”  Your mother leaves the stove and checks on her.   “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.”  Your older sister says in a shaky, thin voice.  Linnea picks up a straw broom from the corner and begins to sweep up the ceramic fragments.

Your mother pulls another cup out of the cabinet and sets it besides Linnea.   “That should be enough potatoes, Svante.”  She swipes your potatoes into a bowl and tips them into the hot pan.

You set the knife down.  “Is there anything else I can do?  Set the table?”  You want to be helpful and make a good impression.

“Linnea can set the table.  She knows where everything is.  I appreciate your help, but you are a guest, Svante.  Sit down and relax.”

Later, as you eat a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, and potatoes, you listen to your mother explain to you the various Thaumaturgical wards she’s learned from the Wood Aspect at the Garrison.  You’ve learned many of the wards already from the Owl, but you stay silent.  You and Elise take turns giving Mei Mei breakfast tidbits from the table.

“Svante, do you have any Dragonblooded in your family?”  Bendt asks between forkfuls of eggs.

Your mother sets down her cup of tea and rolls her eyes.  “Bendt, you have done nothing but pester the boy since he got here.”

You answer Bendt’s question.  “I don’t know much about my family.  I know I am descended from Cinead Torkil.  He was a Fire Aspect stationed in the North.   Most Northerners with Fire Aspect markings are descended from him.”

“Cinead Torkil…. Maybe he’s my ancestor too.   I’ll have to ask my father about him.”   Bendt is about to ask another question, when your mother interrupts with a question of her own.

“Svante, how long were you planning on staying in town?”

“I don’t know.”  You figured you’d stay until Akachi comes and gets you.  You weren’t looking forward to confronting your guardian.

“Do you have a place to stay?”

Your cheeks burn and you shake your head.   You didn’t plan this trip well.

“If you don’t mind sharing a room with our patient, you can stay here.  He doesn’t have anything contagious.”  Your mother assures you.   “He just broke his leg in a fall.”

“You don’t have to do that.”  You fiddle with the remains of your bacon with your fork.

“It’s not a problem.  None of my children have the patience to listen to me blather on about Thaumaturgy.”

“Thank you,” You are relieved.  Your mother is a really nice person for taking in a strange boy who showed up on her doorstep.

Linnea, who has been quiet during breakfast, asks “Can I be excused?  I promised Elowen I’d visit her this morning.”

“Linnea, you haven’t eaten much.”  Your mother observes.

“I wasn’t really hungry.”  She picks up her full plate and sets it on the counter.

Bendt scrapes the last of his potatoes from his plate.  “Have you been around town yet, Svante?”

What do you do?

  • Go with your brother for a tour around town
  • Follow Linnea when she leaves the house
  • Stay with your mother and Elise
  • Other

 

((I like the Ex3 Thaumaturgist merit for mortals.  It means that not everyone can do it, thus you can’t buy your way into magic and leaving options for social mobility. ))

88 – Domestic Bliss

 

“I’m looking for relatives.”  That was not exactly a lie and technically the truth.  You don’t want to lie to your mother.  You want to tell her the entire truth, but she would never believe you.  Not with Arcane Fate purging her memories of ever having a second son. Maybe later on, after your mother got to know you better, you can tell her the truth.   You remember Sifu Yeva’s story about your Dragonblooded ancestor and add more detail to your story.   “Cinaed Torkil has a lot of descendants around here and I wanted to meet some of them.”

Your mother leans back in her chair and relaxes a bit.  “I don’t know of any Cinaed Torkil, but my older two children do carry the blood of the dragons.   Their grandfather was a retired Shogunate Legionnaire who settled up near the White Sea.   He died before their father was born.”  She pauses and gives a long suffering sigh.  “If Anders will make his way up to the village from Wallport, I’m sure he would be thrilled to tell you all about it.”  Before you can ask any more questions about your father, you hear thudding from the loft above the kitchen.   Your mother looks over at the staircase and smiles.  “Ah, the gang is waking up.  Get your bread now or else my kids will eat it all.”  She gets up from the table and adds lard to the now heated pan.  Mei Mei watches your mother like a hawk as she works in the kitchen.

You smear some jam on the homemade bread and eat it.  The texture is a bit rougher than you are used too, but with the jam, it is delicious.  You consider taking another slice, until you hear arguing coming from the top of the staircase.  You walk over to the staircase to listen in on what your siblings are bickering about.

“If you chopped the wood yesterday, you wouldn’t have to do it in the snow.”  Your oldest sister, whom you saw though the Loom of Fate yesterday, is standing with her arms crossed, glaring up at your older brother.   She is already fully dressed in a long deep blue woolen dress.   Her long blond hair is neatly plaited and tied into a bun.

“I had things to do yesterday.”  Your older brother yawns, his hair still mused from sleep.    He shakes out a rumpled off white shirt, attempting to smooth out the wrinkles.

“Like what, Bendt?”  Linnea challenges.

“None of your business, Linnea.”  Bendt’s voice is muffled as he pulls the shirt over his head.

Linnea purses her lips.  “Well, I’m not going to help you chop wood. I just chopped some a couple of days ago.  It’s your turn.“

You hear a young girl’s voice emerge from somewhere in the loft. “I’ll help you chop wood, Bendt.”

Bendt’s face reddens in embarrassment.  “I don’t need your help, Elise.   You’re too young to chop wood.” Bendt explains.  “You can’t even pick up the axe.”

“I’m always too young!”  A pouting little blonde haired girl thuds down the stairs, her arms filled with half of dozen rag dolls.    “Oh!”  The little girl drops some of her dolls on the wooden stairs in surprise when she sees you at the bottom of the stairs.  “You have red red hair like Bendt!  Where did you come from?”   She fearlessly approaches you and offers you her hand.   “My name is Elise.  What is your name?”

You never really had a little sister before and you are unsure what to make of Elise.  You limply shake her hand.  “Svante.”  Elise’s fair blond hair is neatly plaited into pig tails and is wearing a light grey woolen dress similar to Linnea’s.  Even though she looks nothing like her, Elise reminds you of the little girl you rescued from the Fair Folk of the Western Seas.  “You dropped your dolls.”

“Oh!”  She shoves the dolls she is carrying into your hands and bends over to pick up the escaped dolls.  “Holly and Jolly are always trying to run off together.”  She explains as you awkwardly hold on to the other dolls.

“Elise, I’m sure Svante doesn’t want to play with your dolls.”  Linnea climbs down the stairs and takes the dolls from you.  She puts an arm protectively around Elise.  “Let’s go wash your hands before breakfast.”

“All right…”   Elise takes her dolls back.  Linnea suspiciously glances back at you as leads her little sister away from you.

“Linnea, after you get Elise settled, heat up the water kettle.  Our patient will be needing his next dosing soon.”  Your mother instructs as she starts washing some potatoes at the sink.

You turn away from watching your sisters to find Bendt anxiously inspecting you from the top of the stairs.   You study him as eagerly as he studies you.  Bendt is a few inches taller than you and his eyes are a warm amber brown.  Your older brother scratches his head, uncertain what to do next.   Finally, he says, “Would you like to sit down?”

“Sure.”  You go sit back down at the table and pick some more bread.

Bendt straddles the bench beside you and drums his thumbs on the wood, watching you eat bread.  Unable to wait any longer, questions begin to pour out of his mouth.  “Where did you come from?  Wallport?  Did you see a ship with bright red and orange sails at the dock?  That’s my father’s ship, the Fire Dragon.”

Your mother interrupts Bendt’s onslaught.  “Bendt, go out and chop the wood.”

“Mother!”  Your teenage brother protests.   “We have a guest!”  He motions towards you.

“A guest who will get cold if we don’t have any wood for the fireplace.”  She gives Bendt a stern look.  “You should have done your chores yesterday instead of pestering traders about what ships are at dock.  You will see your father soon enough. ”  Bendt groans and goes to put on his boots and coat.  Linnea begins to sort through some herbs and Elise settles herself at the table with her dolls.

What do you do?

  • Help your mother prepare breakfast. You don’t know much about cooking but you can chop a potato.
  • Help your brother, Bendt, chop wood.
  • Watch your older sister, Linnea, sort through herbs.
  • Stay out of the way. Entertain Elise while you wait for breakfast.
  • Other