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.
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.