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.