“It’s about Bendt, not Dragonblooded,” you start. “Well, it’s about Dragonblooded or rather not being Dragonblooded. I mean….” Maidens, you are screwing this up.
Your father glances over at Akachi with a questioning look. “Svante met your son at Ramshorn.” Akachi helpful adds.
“Yes!” You desperately cling to any support, even from Akachi. “He’s coming here to join your crew!”
“Really?” Your father’s face breaks into a wide smile. “Kaja finally gave him permission.”
“Actually, she didn’t.” You quickly amend. “Bendt ran away.”
“Shit.” Your father mutters. “Excuse my language.”
“Don’t worry.” Akachi assures your father. “Svante is a bit of a foul mouth himself.”
You ignore Akachi’s quip and focus on your father. He doesn’t seem to happy Bendt ran away from home. This may be easier than you thought. “Are you going to send him home when he gets here?”
Your father considers your request, swirling Ice Wine around his cup. “No. I’m not.”
“What?! But it is dangerous out on the White Sea!”
“It is very dangerous,” your father agrees, “but I can’t keep protecting Bendt from Creation forever. That’s what Kaja doesn’t understand. We are mortal. In a couple of decades, we aren’t going to be around. The boy has to grow up and make his own choices, his own mistakes.” Your father smiles ruefully. “The Gods know I’ve made enough of them. Still make them every once in a while. But I’ve learned from my mistakes and it would cruel to deprive Bendt from those same lessons. It’s not like he is going to appreciate me doing it. “
“Yes, but would it be just as cruel to not share the lessons you have learned!” You have to convince your father not to stand by let Bendt make a fatal mistake. “He’s going to do something stupid and risky to try to trigger his Exaltation, but you know doesn’t work like that.” Your father frowns at his cup. “You understand what he is going though. You can stop him from getting himself killed. ” How can you convince your father, a man who has always dreamed of Exalting, his son will never exalt?
“Some topics may be difficult for Anders to talk about, Svante,” Akachi interjects.
“The difficult topics are the most important ones!” you insist. “Even when Bendt doesn’t seem like it, he will hear what you say. He doesn’t want lies, he wants the truth, no matter how bad it is. He wants to make his own choices, but he needs to know everything he can to be able to make them.” You wipe your eyes on your sleeve. Were you still talking about Bendt and Anders or you and Akachi?
Sighing, your father rubs his face with his hand. “Svante, you may be a strange duck like your Uncle, but you got good head on your shoulders.”
“Well, he’s not really my uncle.”
Your father chuckles. “I used to say the same thing to my step-father. Mostly when he told me things I didn’t want to hear, but needed to.”
I bet your stepfather didn’t kidnap you, you think. “Will you talk to Bendt?”
“I’ll talk to Bendt.” Your father agrees. “Tell him what he needs to know. He won’t get on my ship unless he agrees not to take any foolhardy risks. ”
“You may want to talk to Kaja, too.” Akachi suggests. “She won’t take kindly to you whisking Bendt away.”
Your father nods. “I’ve been meaning to get down to Ramshorn, but the fish runs have been so good, it’s hard to get away.” A sailor knocks on the door and calls your father away.
Akachi chuckles. “I may have been a bit overenthusiastic with the blessings on Anders lately.” You pointedly ignore Akachi and the Elder Sidereal falls silent. After a few minutes, your father comes back. “Bendt is here and I want to make use of the rest of daylight to head to Ramshorn. Was there anything else you wanted to talk about, Mayura?”
Bendt is standing behind your father, staring at you as if he is trying to recall where he saw you before. Arcane Fate. You sigh. You will have to start over again with your brother.
“I think we are good.”
Your father shakes Akachi’s hand and holds out his hand to you. “It was nice to meet you, Svante. I wish you a safe trip home.”
You stare at your father’s hand. You assumed you would be going back to Ramshorn with your father and brother. But then why would they invite you along? Even if Akachi didn’t introduce you as his nephew, you would still be a stranger to them. “I left Mei Mei back in Ramshorn.”
“We can go get her tomorrow, Svante.” Akachi says. “We should let Anders and Bendt go, they have a long journey on horseback ahead of them.”
One of the sailors sees you off of the ship. “Are we going back to Yu-Shan tonight?” You ask miserably.
“That would be my preference, unless you want to say here?” Akachi jerks his head at a drunken man pissing against a wall.
You weren’t really sure if you wanted to go anywhere tonight. Not with Akachi. When you don’t answer, Akachi says “Come on. Let’s walk along the dock for a bit.”
With heavy steps, you follow Akachi along the dock. He leads you to a point where the breeze blows away the stench of fish and shit. You lean against the wooden railing and watch the sea birds float in the water. Akachi joins you at the rail.
“You introduced me to my father as your nephew.” You note. Two of the seabirds are fighting over a piece of fish. You wish you had some bread to give them so they wouldn’t fight.
“I needed something to tell your father to explain your presence and give your words weight. We have used this story many times. I didn’t think it would bother you.”
“It does bother me.”
Akachi takes a deep breath and fidgets with a dreadlock. “I’m sorry. If it’s any consolation, your father won’t recognize you the next time you see him. We can create a better cover story to tell him. ”
“I don’t like lying to my father’s face.”
Akachi stares out at the White Sea. “Sometimes lies are all we have when no one remembers the truth, Svante. You’ll come to understand this one day.”
“I remember the truth.” You remind Akachi. “Why do you lie to me?”
Instead of answering, Akachi stands up straight and protectively stands in front of you. “What is it?” you ask. You glance around your guardian and see Elder Kejak striding down the dock towards you. You have never seen Elder Kejak outside of Yu-Shan and are surprised to see in dressed as a traveling merchant, all browns and greys. Next to Elder Kejak, Akachi seems clownish in his color clashing coat.
Elder Kejak greets your guardian warmly. “Good evening, Akachi.”
“Chejop.” Akachi replies tersely. “I thought you’d still be cleaning up your office.” Elder Kejak’s office, when you last saw it, was gratingly neat. Would it be possible for it to be any cleaner?
“I thought I’d see how Svante was doing. It is my fault he is in this predicament as you so emphatically reminded me this afternoon.” Did something happen between the two elders after you left with the Owl?
“He’s doing fine. You aren’t needed here.” Akachi’s fists are clenched at his side.
“I can’t really see him when he’s hiding behind you. “ Elder Kejak mimes standing on his tiptoes to see over Akachi’s shoulder.
“I’m not hiding,” You step out from behind Akachi.
“See, Akachi. No harm done.“ Elder Kejak smiles warmly. “Did you enjoy your visit with your birth family, Svante?”
“It was okay.” You wish Elder Kejak would go away. You were just about to get answers from Akachi.
“Just okay. Visiting your family wasn’t the happy reunion you were expecting, was it, Svante?”
“No, but I’m glad I still visited them.” Why was Elder Kejak here?
“What are you doing here, Chejop?” Akachi demands, echoing your own thoughts.
“Svante needs to understand why we had to take him from his birth family. Why certain sacrifices had to be made for the good of Creation.” Elder Kejak slightly emphasizes the word Sacrifice.
This is your Trial of Fire. You remember Aiko saying. If you want to be a Sorcerer, you have to pay the price.
This really was your Trial of Fire and Elder Kejak wants you to give up your family! You had a choice though. Masaru’s brother said you had a choice! You stare at your shoes and the grey warped boards of the dock.
“Chejop!” Akachi figures out what is going on. “It was agreed! Svante is too young to be initiated into Sorcery! How dare you defy…”
“I didn’t dare anything. Svante set upon this path himself.” Elder Kejak meets your eyes. “Didn’t you, Svante?”
Plausible Deniability. Elder Kejak used that term when you asked about Sorcery long ago. “Yes, I took a copy of the White Treatise from Chiyoko’s school.”
“Don’t give me that horse shit, Chejop!” Your eyes widen. You have rarely heard Akachi curse. “You manipulated Svante to this point.”
“You can make your complaint to the Convention of Essence Users.” Elder Kejak counters. “Since Svante has already set on this path, we should do our best to help him though his Trial of Endings. “
“Don’t do this, Svante.” Akachi pleads. “You have no idea what you will be giving up.”
“Or you can hinder him, Akachi.” Elder Kejak sighs. “You’ll one day realize Svante is capable of much more than you realize. Look at what he has accomplished in spite of you!”
“You think I’m hindering Svante? I’m trying to protect him from….” Akachi pauses, figuring out what is going on. “You are trying to get Svante to end his relationship with me.” He whispers.
“You have been holding him back from reaching his potential.” Elder Kejak points out. “After what he has learned today, he has ample reason to never want to see you again. “
Akachi ignores Elder Kejak and kneels in front of you. “Svante,” You stare blankly at Akachi when he calls your name. “Don’t listen to Elder Kejak. There is no need to rush your childhood. You’ll have plenty of time to make a choice. You weren’t even supposed to Exalt for another sixteen years!”
“Why? Why should I wait?” In spite of the tears in your guardian’s eyes, you continue. “No. It’s my life. I’m going to make a choice now. Even if it is a mistake.”
What do you sacrifice?
- Your guardian has been holding you back from learning what a Sidereal needs to know and you will never be able to forgive your guardian for taking you from your family
- Your Family. Elder Kejak is right. A Sidereal needs to think of all of Creation, not just one family. They don’t remember you anymore anyways, thanks to Arcane Fate. If you weren’t around, those old forgotten wounds may finally heal.
- Mei Mei. You will never have a normal childhood and you have to come to terms with this fact. Giving Mei Mei to your little sister would represent you are ready to leave childhood behind.
- Run Away. Fuck Sacrifices. Fuck Sorcery. Fuck everything. You have been manipulated since you were an infant. The only way to get free is to run away. Even if you have to spend the rest of your life walking outside of Fate. (Note: this option is not considered a Sacrifice. I’m not going to let you Sacrifice your Home just yet.)
((The big decision! This choice will have a major impact on the rest of Svante’s life, beyond initiating into Sorcery. I would prefer you guys not tie on this one, so if there is one I may give you an out of character choice to break the tie.))
((I wasn’t planning on adding Mei Mei to the list, but having a physical representation of the sacrifice of your childhood makes sense. ))