105 – Favors

You watch a topaz pattern spider traverse the Loom above you and realize you need to attend this meeting.  You need to meet the other elders.   Or at least get a good look at them.  Akachi can only protect you for so long.   You open your mouth to ask to attend the meeting when your stomach grumbles with hunger.   The cookies you ate in Elder Kejak’s office seemed so long ago.   “Can we get some dinner?” you ask Sasha.

Sasha laughs and ruffles up your hair.  “I don’t know if I can afford to feed you.”

You scowl and bat her hand away.  “I can pay my own way!”   Afternoons working in Akachi’s office have given you a nice chunk of pocket change.  You and Sasha rise from the stairs.  Sasha puts her arm around your shoulder and tenses, her eyes darting back behind you.

“What is it?” you ask searching for danger.  The strands of Fate around you are calm.

“I thought I saw something.”   She scans behind you again and shrugs.  “Being the Shogun’s bodyguard has made me jumpy.   Not many people come down to this part of the Loom.   Where are we anyways?  ”

“My Exaltation.” You reply.

“Oh,” Sasha knits her brows and glances back.   You can think of at least one other Sidereal who would be interested in your Exaltation.   As you continue walking, you wonder if your conversation with Sasha was truly private.

 

The Unconquered Sun was still ahead in the Games of Divinity and shines bright on you and Sasha as you eat dinner at the little café near the Vanchow Gate.  You demolish a large plate of Grilled Pork Sandwiches while Sasha nervously picks at a dark leafy salad.

“You aren’t eating.” You observe.   You pop the last of your sandwich into your mouth.

“I’m worried about tonight.”  Sasha says, intentionally vague.  She rolls a cherry tomato across her plate.

“Can I go with you?” you munch on a stray piece of carrot.

Sasha frowns and stabs the cherry tomato with her fork.   “I don’t know. “  She lowers her voice.   “This is not a normal meeting.  Maybe we can ask Akachi?”

“No. “  If you asked Akachi, then he would know Sasha told you about her mission.  You lean your elbows against the table and rest your check in your hand.   “I can step out of Fate and eavesdrop.”

“Stepping outside of Fate won’t work,” a voice says from behind you.   Sasha sits up straight and you turn to find Ayesha Ura standing behind you.   The tall Southern woman was dressed in a wispy sleeveless silk dress; her dark curly hair piled up on top of her head.   Orichalcum bands encircle her wiry biceps.   She holds up a mug from the café as if she was giving a toast.   “May I join you?”

You watch Sasha, unsure what to say.   Sasha stares down at her salad, ignoring the Chosen of Journeys woman.   When neither you nor Sasha responds, Ayesha sets her mug down and pulls up a chair.   She carefully arranges her long skirts and sits down.  “I assume you are discussing the super-secret meeting ever Sidereal except Svante and I was invited to.”  Ayesha says in a conspiracy tone.

Everyone?  You muse on this news as Sasha replies, “We were talking about the subcommittee on Martial Arts Tournaments.  Svante wants to attend the special session tomorrow.”

“You need to become better at lying, Sasha.”  Ayesha titters as she stirs the whipped cream into her cappuccino.    “A better response would be ‘What secret meeting, Ayesha?’ and be dying for the details.”  She sets her spoon aside and picks up her mug.  “Now you have confirmed you know about the meeting.”  She takes a sip.  “Why do you want to go to the meeting, Svante?”

“It’s a secret meeting everyone but me was invited to.” You retort.  “Why wouldn’t I want to go?”

“Better.  Exactly the response you expect from someone known for his insatiable curiosity.  I wouldn’t worry too much about it, Sasha.”  She smiles at you.  “Chosen of Jupiter are all accomplished liars.”

“Svante is an honest boy,” Sasha defends you.  You pick at the seam of your napkin and avoid Sasha’s gaze.  While you were being honest, you weren’t telling the entire truth.

“Of course he is.”  Ayesha agrees absently as she sets her mug aside.  “I want to help you get into the meeting, Svante.”

“Why?”  Sasha asks, eyes narrowing.

“Calm down, Sasha.  Do you think I mean your little brother any harm?”

“You want me to spy on the meeting for you.” You accuse.

“No,”  Ayesha denies.  “Akachi would never forgive me if I involve you in any of that unpleasant business.  I already have others who promise to tell me what is going on.   ”

“And you trust them to tell you everything?”

“No, that is why I have a few different people to keep me informed.” Ayesha changes the subject.   “I helped Chejop design the security wards on the meeting room.  I know a couple of ways past them.”

“How do we know Elder Kejak hasn’t changed them?”  Sasha asks, with arms crossed.

“He hasn’t.  Once the wards are activated, only a Sidereal can enter the room.”  She shrugs.  “There is no reason change the wards to keep out just two people.  Assigning someone to keep an eye on us is a more efficient use of resources.”  She stirs her drink again.  “It would be up to you, Svante, to lose your tail.   I don’t expect you to have any problem with that.”

“And what would the price be for this little favor?” Sasha asks.

“Nothing.”  Ayesha takes another sip of her drink as she watches you.

“Nothing?” you ask incredulously.  “Why are you helping me?”  You hope Ayesha’s generosity has nothing to do with the stupid scroll.

“My reasons are my own.”  Ayesha leans over the table and asks, “Will you allow me to help you, Svante?”

What do you do?

  • Accept Ayesha’s Offer as is.
  • Accept Ayesha’s Offer only if she tells you why she is helping you.
  • Turn down Ayesha’s offer and find your own way into the meeting
  • Turn down Ayesha’s offer and badger Akachi and Sasha for information after the meeting. You can observer the other elders later
  • Other

((You guys finally chose the Ayesha Ura option!  I was despairing of you ever meeting her.  ))

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104 – Denied

“Sure,” you readily agree.  There was nothing embarrassing in your memory of your Exaltation – except for your daydream about Gina, but you can start the memory after that- and Elder Kejak may discover something you missed.  “But I want to see your memory of the Elders discussing my Exaltation.”

“No.” Elder Kejak‘s tone tolerates no argument.

“No?” you repeat.   The Elders debated about whether you would have lived or died.  You had to see Elder Kejak’s memory.   “What do you mean ‘no’?”

Elder Kejak shifts in his chair.  “Those sessions are private.”

You consider your next words carefully.   You need Elder Kejak to agree to share his memory with you.   “I need to know what exactly worries the elder about my Exaltation so I can alleviate their concerns.  “ You explain reasonably.

“There is no need for you to see my memory to accomplish that.  Focusing on your studies,” Elder Kejak alludes to your unread assignment.  “and staying out of trouble with go a long way to alleviate their concerns.”

You scowl at the Elder Sidereal.  Of course, he had to bring that up.   “At least tell me who wanted me dead!”

“As I said,” Elder Kejak says calmly, his voice tinged with annoyance.  “these sessions are private and not open to public discussion.”

“I’m not the public and it involves my life!” you yell, losing your temper.

“Svante, you are acting like a child.”  Elder Kejak chides in his infuriating calm voice.

“I’m not acting like a child.”  You take a deep breath and try to control your anger.   “I just found out my exaltation was a mistake and the elders discussed whether or not they should kill me.  Jupiter gave us a mission.  You and I need to figure out what happened together.  We both need to share every single piece of information we can get.  Every. Single. Piece.”  You emphasize.

Elder Kejak folds his hand in front of him on the desk.   “The answer is still no.  I cannot breach the confidentiality of those sessions.”

“They won’t even know if you tell me!  Who is going to tell them?  The goat?”  The goat noses though the shredded papers and bleats.  Elder Kejak stares at you and you realize the reason.  “Oh.  You think I am going to tell them.”

“I don’t think you will tell them, rather you will do something rash.”

“You don’t trust me.” You accuse the elder Sidereal.

“I think we are done here for the day.” Elder Kejak says, not denying your accusation.   He picks the memory stone off his desk and puts it away.

“How can we work together if you don’t trust me?”

Elder Kejak ignores your question and begins sorting through a pile of crumpled papers on his desk.  “Be sure to do your reading this week.  We have two chapters to discuss next we meet.”

“Yeah, whatever.”  You leave Elder Kejak’s study, slamming the door behind you.

 

After your horrific meeting with Elder Kejak, you find yourself heading towards the Loom of Fate.  Heavy damp air whooshes out when you push open the great Starmetal doors.  You pause at the entrance to admire the sight.  Even after all these months, the Loom of Fate never ceases to be awe-inspiring.  Miles of hallways and staircases line the glowing threads of fate.  Patterns spiders dart to and fro across the threads.   You hurry away from the Bureau gods studying the active section of the Loom and lose yourself in the past.

You pull out your Pattern Spider and polish the fingerprints off it with sleeve of your silk green robes.   Compared to the spiders who live on the loom, your emerald spider seems dingy.   You scratch off a beige food crumb and hold the spider up to the threads.   “Spider, show me my Exaltation.”  You don’t need Elder Kejak’s help with Jupiter’s mission.  You can figure it out on your own.

Your pattern spider scurries forward, haphazardly bumping into the other spiders as it makes its way across the loom.   It gives a large amethyst spider with its oversized jaws a wide breadth.  Finally, your pattern spider leads you to the threads of your Exaltation.  You touch your thread, barely noticing your spider climbing down your arm and hiding back into your pocket.  You relive the events of your Exaltation, noticing nothing new about the event.   Afterwards you switch to the thread of the bored Earth Aspect sorcery student who summoned the Blood Apes, careful not to touch Akachi’s thread. You trace the student’s thread further into the past…

“Svante?”  You glance up from the Loom and find your sister staring down at you from the top of the staircase.  Sasha is dress in an understated pale purple and grey Cheongsam dress with short sleeves.  A matching grey sweater lays folded over her arms.

“Sasha!” your hands drop from the thread and you embrace your sister.   Sasha has not been in Yu-Shan in weeks, always busy with some mission for the Shogun.

She fondly gazes up at you.  “Every time I see you, I swear you grow another foot!”

You chuckle.  “Akachi complains half the Bureau’s budget goes to keeping me fed.”

“Ha!  I believe it!”  Sasha shakes her head.  “I feel like I am missing your childhood.”  She sighs.  “Thankfully Akachi says I should be back in Yu-Shan soon.”

“Sasha?  What is your mission with the Shogun?”  You have been dying to ask her since she received the red envelope all those months ago.

“I’m not supposed to say…” she starts.

You flare your caste mark.   “I won’t tell anyone.”  You point at the sign of Jupiter on your forehead with a smile.

Sasha grins. “Ha!  You of all people should understand why I can’t tell you!”

“I’m not going to tell anyone!” you plead.  “I never told Nanny you broke her favorite tea pot!”

Instead of reassuring her, Sasha’s face falls into a frown and sits down on the stairs.  “You have been experiencing our childhood memories without me.”

You sit next to her.  “Was I supposed to wait?”  As soon the Bureau officially gave you access to the Loom, you have been reclaiming your Arcane Fate eroded memories of Sasha.

“No,  it’s just I thought we would be able to look at them together.”   She smiles.  “What have you seen?”

“Only all the horrible stuff you did to me as a kid.”

“What?”   Your sister denies.  “I never did anything horrible to you…. Well, nothing you didn’t deserve.”

You make a raspberry at your sister’s lies.  “Remember when you stole all of my Calibration Candy?”

“I only did that in retaliation for you going through my room!”  Sasha counters.

“I only went through your room because you told me elementals hid my Calibration Candy!”

Sasha giggles.  “You were kind of a dumb kid.”

“I was seven!” you protest in mock anger.   You and Sasha sit in a comfortable silence, watching the Pattern Spiders toil among the threads of Fate.   Now you remember your childhood, it was astonishing how a difference memory has on your relationship with your sister.  Knowing Sasha was your sister was much different from experiencing Sasha as your sister.

As Sasha wipes unshed tears from her eyes, you ask again.  “Why are you gone all the time, Sasha?”

Sasha scratches the back of her head, running her hands though her short black hair.  “I guess it wouldn’t hurt to tell you.  In a few weeks, everyone will know.”  She lowers her voice.  “The Shogun is dying.”

“What?” The Shogun was Chiyoko and Aiko’s grandmother.   Surely, one of them would have mentioned their grandmother being sick.   Do Dragonblooded even get sick?  You have not been sick since your Exaltation.  “Does her family know?”

“No, but they will soon.   Dragonblooded don’t age like mortals.   They stay healthier longer, but deteriorate quickly near the end.  “  Sasha explains, picking at one of her fingernails.

“And your mission is to heal her?”  Sasha cared for you and Wanahton after the Tiger attack.

“Not exactly.”  Sasha shifts her legs under her and turns to face you.  “The Chrysanthemum Court believes I am her physician, but that is not my true purpose.   I’m there to make sure her life ends as Fate dictates.  I have already foiled several assassination attempts.  “  Sasha closes her eyes and starts to cry.

“What’s wrong?”  Timidly, you grab Sasha’s hand, unsure how to comfort her.

“The Shogun.” Sasha whispers.  “She’s an awful woman.  Elder Kejak and the high-ranking Dragonblooded are pushing her to name an heir, but she refuses.   She wants her descendants to fight over the throne.  Fire and Blood is how she won the Shogunate and she expects her heirs to do the same.   Two hundred years of peace and stability thrown away just for one woman’s ego. “

“We can’t go to war!  What about the Fair Folk?”  You remember Rory headed for the Bordermarshes to fight the Western Fleet.  A Civil War would mean the Shogunate would fight have to fight on two fronts.

“The Elders have a plan for a peaceful succession.  That’s why I’m here.  There is a meeting tonight about it.”

Akachi mentioned he was going to be working late tonight.   He must be at this meeting.  “Are all the Elders going to be there?” you ask.

Sasha shrugs.  “I guess so.  They haven’t told me many details.   I know Wanahton and Haythem will be there.”

What do you do?

  • Ask Sasha and Akachi if you can go to the meeting.
  • Find a way to eavesdrop on the meeting.
  • Show up like you were invited
  • Other

(I can probably count the number of times I described what someone was wearing on one hand.   Trying to change that.)

(I attempted to foreshadow the Shogun’s death.  )

103 – Secret Mission

You sit stupefied on the floor as you watch Elder Kejak survey the whitewashed office hallway.  Your nails painfully bit into the thick plush carpet.  For a moment, all you can hear is your heart pounding and the heavy gasps of your breath.  Run away, your body says.  Run and hide.

“Svante?” Elder Kejak asks again, brows knitted with concern.

You take a deep breath and will your beating heart still.   You are a Sidereal.  You may have exalted earlier than planned but Jupiter chose you herself.   Now is not the time for panic nor games.   If you want to survive, you will have to be more mature than you have ever been before.   Still trembling, you pick yourself off the ground and straighten your silken green robes.   “I am here.” You announce pleased with how steady your voice sounds in spite of your inner turmoil.

“Come inside,” Elder Kejak motions.  “Quickly.”  You slip past the lanky elder and into the bookshelf-lined study.  The goat stands tied in the corner obliviously munching on unused prayer scrolls.

Sitting behind desk in Elder Kejak’s chair is Jupiter herself.  By her mere presence, the Maiden of Secrets casually claims her eldest Oracle’s entire study.  The forest green hood of her woolen cloak is thrown back with her silken green hair trailing over her shoulder.  Her piercing emerald eyes observe you as you sit down in front of her.   Elder Kejak pulls up another chair and sits next to you.   Jupiter reaches into the sleeve of her cloak and reveals a red envelop.  She offers it to the Elder Oracle.

Elder Kejak accepts the envelop and slides a finger under the flap to open it.   He quickly reads the contents and passes it over to you.   “You knew Svante was at the door eavesdropping on our conversation,” Elder Kejak accuses.  “You could have warned me he was going to be an active participant in this mission.”

Jupiter gives the Elder Oracle nothing but her usual enigmatic smile in response.

A few minutes ago, you would have been ecstatic Jupiter manipulated Elder Kejak as he does to others.  Instead you are focused on this new mission you and Elder Kejak have been given.

 

To: Chejop Kejak, Chosen of Secrets and Svante Visscher, Chosen of Secrets

From: Jupiter, Maiden of Secrets

You are directed to discover the cause of the Chosen of Secrets’ Svante Visscher’s Premature Exaltation.

Mission Profile: On the sixteenth day of Resplendent Wood, Svante Visscher exalted seventeen years ahead of schedule.   Investigate the circumstances around his premature exaltation and discover its cause.  Tell no one of your mission and dispose of this mission report as soon as you have read it.

Estimated Probability of Solar Presence: Unknown

Estimated Probability of Hidden Yozi Presence: Unknown

Estimated Probability of Lunar Presence: Unknown

Estimated Probability of Fair Folk Presence: Unknown

 

Tell no one.  Those three words need no emphasis.  You have prayed to Jupiter, asking for when you will finally be trusted with a secret.  A true secret, not just the hidden location of Masaru’s Green Blaze manga.  You meet Jupiter’s solemn eyes and realize the Maiden has answered your prayers.  Next time you will need to be more careful what you wish for.

You read the mission profile repeatedly until you memorize it.  Then you shred both envelope and its contents into bite-sized pieces and offer it to the goat.  The paper shreds quickly disappear down the goat’s gullet.

“This will be a long term mission.  It may take centuries to for the cause to reveal itself.”  Jupiter cautions.   The Maiden of Secrets rises from Elder Kejak’s chair and leaves the study without another word.  After a moment of awkward silence, Elder Kejak rises from his chair and begins to heat water in his teakettle.

Centuries!   You can barely stand the few minutes since Jupiter revealed you exalted early, much less not knowing why for centuries!   “How long have you known?”  You ask Elder Kejak.

“Only a few minutes before you found out.” Elder Kejak fusses with his collection of teas and you wonder how he could be so calm.  Perhaps it is because his life is not in danger.  Or the Elder Oracle gets secret missions like this one every day.

No, you realize after observing the older Sidereal, Elder Kejak just has centuries of experience hiding his anxiety.    As the elder goes through the motions of seeping tea, his movements become more confident and flowing.      You wait until Elder Kejak offers you a cup of green tea before your next question.  “What is our next step?”

“We investigate the circumstances surrounding your Exaltation.”  Elder Kejak takes a sip of tea and sets his cup aside.  He digs though his desk drawer, pulls out a small wooden box, and haphazardly dumps smooth black and grey stones onto his clean desk.  “Do you know what these are?”  He asks as he sorts though the stones.

You nod.  “Those are memory stones.  They are used to record a person’s memory, so it can be relived or shared by another person.”

Elder Kejak holds up a light grey stone between his index finger and thumb and focuses on it until it turns completely white.  “Have you ever used one?”

“No.” you answer.  “Akachi told me to be careful of them.  Some gods use them record their memories of the Games of Divinity.  “   Memories of the Games of Divinity can be overwhelming, even addictive, for humans.

Elder Kejak grunts.   “Sidereals have another use for memory stones.  Since we cannot access each other fate threads, except in dire circumstances, we use memory stones to share events we have observed.   It helps to have a second opinion sometimes.”   Elder Kejak slides the white stone across his desk.  “Will you share with me the memory of your Exaltation?”

You stare at the smooth white stone.  Unlike the Loom of Fate, which only shows visual and auditory information, memory stones store everything you experience at the time of the memory.   Sharing that memory with Elder Kejak means he would know every thought, feeling, and sensation you had during your Exaltation.

 

What do you do?

  • Yes, you and Elder Kejak need to share every scrap of information for this mission.
  • Yes, only if Elder Kejak shares his memory of when the Elders decided whether you live or die
  • No, that memory is yours. Elder Kejak can’t have it.
  • Sharing memories is a big decision. You will have to think about it
  • Other

 

(Svante’s first Secret!)

102 – Respect

“What do I think about the Sacred Hunt?”  You pause to collect your thoughts.   While you didn’t read do more than skim the first page of the chapter, you observed the Desert Fox during the of her Sacred Hunt.  Maybe you can bullshit your way through this session.  “Before a Lunar can take another form, she has to observe the animal to learn its habits and behaviors.   After they learn enough about the animal to mimic it, the Lunar kills it and takes its heart’s blood.”

“That is all true,”  Elder Kejak taps his fingers on the conference table. “but what do you think about the chapter in the Five Moons of Denial?”

You remember the Desert Fox tricked the islanders of the Cobalt Atoll to help her kill the whale.   “The Lunar can have help for the kill and…”  you were running out of facts about the Sacred Hunt.   An idea comes to you.  “You should know what I think if you read my report.”

Crossing his arms, Elder Kejak gives you a skeptical stare.  “What Report?”

“The report I had Amilie your Receptionist put on your desk.”

The Elder Sidereal glares at you skeptically.  “I don’t remember seeing this report on the desk.”

“Did you check under the goat shit?”   You couldn’t help but smirk.

Elder Kejak’s chair squeaks as he leans forward.  “Tell me, Svante.  When you attend your Martial Art lessons, do you leave your sword and armor home?”

“No,” you cautiously answer.   You weren’t sure where Elder Kejak was going with this.

“If you come prepared for your Sifu’s lessons, then why do you come unprepared for mine?!”  Elder Kejak slaps the table, startling you upright.   “Do you think this is a game?  Do you think I enjoy having my time wasted?”

“Then don’t teach me!” you argue.  “You don’t like these sessions anymore than I do.  We would both be much happier if we canceled them.”

“Do you think I care about your happiness?   I am not a Joybringer.  I am not here to entertain you, Svante.  Jupiter has assigned me to teach you what Akachi and Yeva cannot about being one of her chosen.   I am a patient man.  I am willing to meet with you every week for the next thousand years until you learn to respect me as your mentor.  It is up to you whether this time will be productive or not.”

You scowl.  “How can I respect you as a teacher when you don’t respect me as a student?”

Elder Kejak’s eyebrows raise in surprise.  “In what ways do I not respect you as a student?”

“You manipulated my Trial of Endings.  You could have been open with me what you planned at the Loom of Fate, but instead you tricked me and you tricked Akachi.”

“Do you regret becoming a Sorcerer?”

“No.”  You quickly deny.  “At our first session, I thought I proved that we could come to an understanding and work together.“

Elder Kejak raises his hand to stop you.  “I have kept my end of the agreement.  I have read every single issue of Pretty Dragon Princess Meru that has come out since we started.”

“You say you treat me as an adult, yet your actions say otherwise. “   You shove the book away.   “To you, I’m just a pawn in whatever game you are playing with Akachi.”

The Elder Sidereal studies you for a moment and then nods.  “From your point of view, I can see how you can come to that realization.   I have my reasons why I have not been open with you.  I am not just accountable to you, but to the Convention of Essence Users, the other Elders, and Jupiter herself. “

“I can I talk to them?  I mean, speak before the Convention?”

Elder Kejak winces.  “That may not be a good idea, Svante.  “

“Why?  Are you afraid they might tell me something you don’t want me to hear?”

“No,”  Elder Kejak corrects.  “I’m afraid they will find out how much you already know.”

“What do you mean?”

“How to raise future Sidereals is a delicate issue.  Everyone feels like their opinion should be heard since the child will eventually become one of our coworkers.”

“But I’m already a Sidereal,” you remind Elder Kejak.

“Yes.  You have dug through every deception and incessantly asked questions until you got an answer.  Annoyingly so, but then what would you except from one of Jupiter’s chosen?”  Elder Kejak muses.  In a much better temper, he continues,  “But, no need to waste this session.  You can catch up on your chapter reading,”  You groan.   “and I can use this time to get some paperwork done.”

Elder Kejak leaves to go back to his office and you crack open the Five Moons of Denial.   You absently mindedly scratch at a mark on the page as you attempt to read though the first page of the chapter.    After a few minutes, you bang your head against the book.   This book was so dry, you were afraid it was going to spontaneously combust in front of you.

Where was Elder Kejak?   It shouldn’t take that long to pick up a pile of paperwork.  Unless of course the goat ate it.   You imagine Elder Kejak tugging one end of a scroll with the goat pulling the other.   Leaving the book behind, you get up from the conference table and stick your head out into the hallway.  You quickly duck back in when an office god passes by.  Just to be safe, you step outside of fate and head towards Elder Kejak’s office.

“Are you beginning to regret your decision to support Akachi and side against the other elders?” Your hair stands up on end and feel a tingling along your spine when you hear Jupiter’s voice.  You put your ear to the closed door to better hear the conversation.

“No, of course not.”  Elder Kejak replies.   “But sometimes I despair of Svante ever gaining the wisdom needed to be a Sidereal.”

You hear the whispering of cloth as Jupiter crosses the study.  “He is still a boy, but as you often remind Akachi, he will not be one for long. “

“Akachi still believes you lied to him about Svante’s Exaltation.”

“And Akachi and the others must continue to do so.  If Svante’s premature Exaltation becomes common knowledge those who wish his Exaltation to pass to its next incarnation will gain support.  The only thing staying their hand is the belief that his Exaltation is part of my plan.”

You lean against the door for support when you hear Jupiter’s response.   You were a mistake.   You weren’t supposed to Exalted at twelve!   Your heart pounds as the rest of Jupiter’s words begin to sink in.  The other elders wanted to kill you!   You search your memory and realized you have never had a single conversation with any other elder except Akachi and Elder Kejak.

The door opens suddenly and you fall among on top of Elder Kejak.   You barely avoid touching the Elder and scoot away.  “Svante?”   Elder Kejak asks, searching the empty hallway for you.   “Come back into fate and we can talk.”

What do you do?

  • Go into the office and talk with Elder Kejak and Jupiter
  • Go find Akachi and tell him what is going on
  • Run and hide.
  • Other

(I’ll admit I enjoy writing a PC who is unafraid to talk back to Chejop Kejak.   Most players start quacking in their boots if Kejak shows up in their game.)

(I think I have written Svante finding out about the details of his exaltation into two different scenes, but it always gets cut.)

 

101 – Uncle Jack

You clench your bag so tightly, your knuckles turn white and the bag’s handles bit into your skin.   The multi colored glass Essence Lights which line the walls of the Bureau of Destiny pass by much faster than you are used to.   Was Akachi walking faster than usual or was time moving faster due to your nerves?  You take a deep breath to calm yourself.   If everything goes according to plan, this may be your last weekly session with Elder Kejak.  After your Sorcerous Initiation, you tried to get out of the sessions, but Elder Kejak insisted you continue to attend.

“Ready for your lesson today?”  Akachi asks.

“Yeah.” you lie as you fiddle with the straps of your bag.  You didn’t get to finish your assigned reading this week.  Even with the help with Wanahton and Elder Kejak’s receptionists, it took some time to arrange your surprise for Elder Kejak.

Akachi pauses before the deep violet stained wood of Elder Kejak’s office.  “Svante, you can’t even get away with not doing your homework with Keeper.  What makes you think Chejop will be any more lenient?”

“I get away with not doing my homework with the Owl fine.” You boast.  “I mean….”  You fall silent before you incriminate yourself any more.  

Akachi crosses his arms and stares down at you.  “We will talk about this later.”    You enter Elder Kejak’s office to try to escape your guardian, but Akachi walks in right behind you.   You walk cross the wood floors of Elder Kejak’s cooly light reception area.   Elder Kejak’s receptionist warmly greet you and Akachi.   “Elder Kejak’s last meeting is running late, but he should be back momentarily.”   The Receptionist offers you a plate of Apricot Shortbread cookies and gives you a sly wink when Akachi wasn’t looking.   You smile at her in return.  Apparently everything is going according to plan.  

Akachi sits on the edge of the receptionist’s desk and chats with her about a new restaurant opening up in Yu Shan.  You munch on your cookies and wonder why Akachi was still here.  Since your trip North, Akachi has been less smothering of you and allowing you to go to places on your own.  Why did he escort you to this session in the first place?  

Before you could finish your first cookie, Elder Kejak sweeps into the reception area with purposeful steps.   He stops short when he notices Akachi chatting with Elder Kejak’s receptionist.  The Elder Oracle digs through his messenger bag and pulls out the newest issue of Pretty Dragon Princess Meru.   

“Akachi, have you seen the latest Princess Meru?”  Elder Kejak taps the manga in his hand.

“No, I don’t think Svante received his copy yet.”   Elder Kejak grunts at Akachi’s offhand reply.  “Is something wrong, Chejop?”

Elder Kejak points with the manga at your guardian.  “Really, Akachi.  Must we devolve to such juvenile tactics?”

“I don’t know what you are talking about.”   Akachi shoots you an inquiring look.  You shrug and try to seem innocent.  Did Elder Kejak know about your prank?  You glance over at the receptionist who slightly shakes her head no.

“This Uncle Jack character…  You obviously wrote him to mock me.”  Elder Kejak accuses.

“What?”  Akachi takes the offered manga and pages through it.  

“He’s introduced on page 6,”  the Receptionist helpfully points out.   The goddess ignores Elder Kejak’s probing regard and focuses intently on her filing.  

You stare at your shoes, trying not to draw Elder Kejak’s attention.  Akachi, his face intent, reads though the manga.  After a few minutes, Akachi begins to giggle.

“Akachi?” Elder Kejak calls out.   Akachi turns a page and ignores his name.  “Akachi!”

“Oh, sorry.”  The Joybringer smiles sheepishly.  “I got caught up in the story.  Was this character?”  Akachi holds open the manga and points out lanky bald man fleeing from Princess Meru, her fist raised in indignation.   “Uncle Jack looks nothing like you!  Yes, he’s tall.  Painfully thin. More Attractive.”   Elder Kejak rolls his eyes.  “And bald.  You aren’t going bald right?”

You snicker.  Ayesha Ura and a few other Sidereals saw an Elderly Chejop Kejak in the Loom of Fate a few months ago.  Ayesha quickly spread her description of the Elder’s soon to be receding hairline.   You have to get a copy of this manga.

Elder Kejak unconsciously raises his hand to run it through his long dark hair, but stops short.   He narrows his eyes and snatches the offending manga back from Akachi.  “Come along, Svante.  We wasted enough time here.”   The Elder Oracle leads you through the door to the back offices.  Akachi follows, continuing to harass Elder Kejak about the manga.

“I don’t know what your problem is, Chejop.  Uncle Jack seems like a great character.  He’s clever, funny…”

“Uncle Jake steals underwear from adolescent girls!”  Elder Kejak yells at Akachi.   The office bustle goes silent at this outburst.   Akachi grins as Elder Kejak orders everyone back to what they were doing.  The office staff returns to work with renewed industry.

“Ah… Uncle Jake is a panty thief.” Akachi shrugs.  “Pretty Dragon Princess Meru has never been one of my manga.  I have no control over the writers.”

Elder Kejak tosses the manga at you and takes a step closer to the Elder Joybringer.   “Akachi, you may not have written a single page in years, but I know you still have contacts in the Industry.   What sort of example are you setting for Svante…”   Elder Kejak trails off.

“What is it?” Akachi asks concerned.   

“Did you hear that noise?”  Both elders listen intently.  

“Meeeeh….” A muffled cry echoes ominously down the hallway.

“This way.”  Akachi strides down the hallway of identical doors.  You have been in Elder Kejak’s office many times over the past few months and you still couldn’t find your way around.

“Meeeeh….”  You trail behind the elders.  You press your fingernails into your palms to keep the smile off of your face.  

Elder Kejak pauses in front of one door.  “It’s coming from my study.”   Elder Kejak puts his hand on the door and counts down with his fingers.  When Elder Kejak gets to three, he opens the door and Akachi bursts into the study.

“Meeh!!!”  The goat bleats in shock and jumps off of Elder Kejak’s desk.   A piece of half chewed parchment flutters down in its wake.  The once well-organized desk is littered with torn books and shredded scrolls.   Akachi pauses just before he was going to punch the goat.  Your guardian cocks his head at the goat and bursts out laughing.

“Why is there a goat in my study?” Elder Kejak demands of the crowd gathering by the door.   You lean against the wall outside of the study and cover your mouth to keep from laughing.  The office was a mess!  This prank was so much better than you imagined!

“Akachi, do you know anything about this?”  Elder Kejak narrows his eyes.

It takes a moment for Akachi to catch his breath.  “No…. I didn’t do this….”

The goat jumps on the desk and retrieves its half finished meal.  Elder Kejak snatches the parchment away and attempts to smooth it out.   “Svante, do you know anything about this?”

You take a deep breath and poke your head into the study.  “No.”  Fortunately, the goat chooses this moment to drop a load of shit on Elder Kejak’s desk.  

Elder Kejak rubs the bridge of his nose.  “Nevermind.  Let’s met in the conference room today, Svante.”  You reluctantly follow Elder Kejak, leaving behind your giggling guardian and the rest of the crowd.   You are lead to a large conference room with twenty leather high-backed padded chairs.  You roll out a chair and gratefully sit down.  Why couldn’t Elder Kejak have these comfortable chairs in the rest of his office?  As Elder Kejak get settled at the head of the table, you pull out your copy of the Five Moons of Denial.

“I believe we last left off with the chapter on the Sacred Hunt.   In my opinion it was by far the most interesting chapter in the book.   What did you think, Svante?”  The Elder Sidereal glares at you and you avoid eye contact, instead fidgeting with a puppy gnawed corner of your book.  The past week has been packed with keeping with the Owl’s homework, going through manga with Akachi and Masaru,  and working with Wanahton and the Receptionist to get the goat into Elder Kejak’s office.  To be honest, the last thing you wanted to do was to read this boat anchor of a book.  The Five Moons of Denial was exactly what you feared it would be:  dry, dull, and dumb.

Between Akachi needling Elder Kejak about the magna and your goat prank, you are unsure you want to aggravate Elder Kejak anymore than he already was.

What do you do?

  • Tell the truth.  You didn’t do your reading because you busy arranging for the goat in the study.
  • Make up an Excuse.  The Owl gave you more homework than usual this week.
  • Give Elder Kejak a sob story.  You didn’t do the reading because you were in the Loom with Sasha reclaiming your memories of the childhood you and your sister shared.  
  • Bullshit your way through the lesson.  You skimmed a few pages of the chapter before you came here.  You believe you know enough about the Sacred Hunt to fumble through the session
  • Other

(Trying something different – writing on paper and then typing the post up for editing.   What do you guys think?)

(I really need to give Kejak’s receptionist a name. )

100 – Failure

“The Lunars.   I want to know the truth about them.”  The Tiger, who wanted to kill both you and Wanahton because you were young Sidereals.  The Desert Fox, who just wanted to be left alone to raise her child.   You had to know why the Lunars are indiscriminately hunted down.

Akachi walked through Wallport in silent.   You matched his long strides, becoming more and more annoyed with each step.   Was he actually going to fallback on his promise? When you got past the edge of town, he said, “I will tell you the truth, but you will not be happy with me afterwards. Do you still want to know?”  Akachi had said something similar with he taught you to sense the vibrations which precede violence.   Yet having Prior Warning of danger has saved your life many times over the past year.   

You stop by a fallen moss covered log.  “I don’t want any more lies,”   you declare, meeting your guardian’s eyes.

“Technically, I never lied to you….”  When you narrow your eyes, Akachi amends “though, one doesn’t have to lie to deceive someone.”

“What happened at the meeting with the Lunars?”  You are not going to give the Elder Sidereal a chance to weasel out of answering your questions.

Akachi sits down on a fallen log.  You straddle the log beside him.   Akachi rubs his face and folds his hands at his mouth.  “It was a Fiasco.”  Akachi seems ashamed to admit that, but he continues.   “ A few lunars were harassing the Dragonblooded dominions in the South.   Mostly likely in revenge of the Usurpation.  The Dragonblooded were already fighting among themselves; the Lunars were low priority.  One Dragonblooded warlord didn’t want to fight a war on two fronts, so she sent an Envoy to the Wyld.  Ayesha and I accompanied them.’

Akachi stares out into the distance, remembering.  “At first things seemed to be going well; after a century out of the Solars control, the Lunars did not want them to return any more than we did.  Nevertheless after a century of conflict there was bad blood between the Lunars and the Dragonblooded.   The Lunars did not trust them.   They believe the Dragonblooded would betray them as they betrayed the Solars.   Tempers flared and negotiations were starting to break down.   The Dragonblooded were about to give up and leave.“

“So, Ayesha and I decided to negotiate on our own.  The Fair Folk were beginning to nibble the edges of Creation.  We needed the Dragonblooded to stop fighting themselves.  To form up under a strong leader.  Perhaps what was needed to reunite the Dragonblooded was a Celestial Exalt.   We could not do it because of Arcane Fate, but perhaps Lunars would be our agents.”

“We revealed ourselves as Exalts and approached the Elder Lunars with our offer.  We would work with the Lunars to repair relations with the Dragonblooded.   In time the Dragonblooded would rally around the Lunars and rule Creation.”

“Erlantz, my wife’s Lunar Mate, sat silently through the proceedings with the Dragonblooded.  I knew Erlantz from before the Usurpation.   He was young then; still within his mortal lifetime.  Erlantz was always a reasonable man.”  Akachi pauses, finding it difficult to continue.  “I was a fool.  I hadn’t realized how much the Wyld and time could change a man.  “

“Erlantz’s  response was…. drastic.  He declared the Chosen of the Moon would be no one’s puppet.   He said he never believed the Dragonblooded acted alone against the Solars.   That he knew they had help.   He rallied the Lunars against us.   They hunted down and killed the entire Dragonblooded party.  Ayesha and I barely escaped with our lives. ”

“The attacks on the Dragonblooded forces increased.  Instead of a small group of Lunars, the entire host had declared war on the Dragonblooded.   At first we hoped Arcane Fate would shield us from our mistake and the Lunar did not remember Ayesha and I.  But they remembered the Star Chosen.   Not long afterwards, the Lunars were added to the Immaculate Doctrine as Anathema.   ”

“Has anyone tried to talk to the Lunars since?”

“A few times.   Arcane Fate makes it difficult.   Lunars have figured out some of the specifics about our curse.   They have no way of knowing which of us they have talked to before so have a kill on sight policy when it comes to Sidereals.”

You digest this new information.   “Was there anything else you wanted to talk about?”  Akachi asks.

You think for a moment.   It was getting cold and you were starting to feel hungry, but this was your only chance to ask Akachi questions.  Or was it?  “I want you to promise me not to hold back information anymore.  When I ask a question, you tell me the full answer.”

Akachi smiles ruefully.   “I have learned my lesson about lying to a Chosen of Secrets.”

“Yeah.”   You and Akachi start the long walk back to the Yu-Shan gate.   “I have one more question.  In Metal Gods, who is the Raven Haired Woman?”  Both you and Masaru have been arguing about her for months.  

Your guardian laughs out loud.  “Svante, you of all people should have figured out who the Raven Haired Man is.  He is a Sidereal.  Or at least as close as you can get to having a Sidereal character in print.”

“Ha!  I was right!”  Masaru was so sure she was god blooded.  

“When I created Metal Gods, I wanted to see how far I could push Arcane Fate.  The few issues with characters based on an actual Sidereal were lost, but if I had a mysterious and knowledgeable character….”  Akachi sighs.  “I suppose the Raven Haired Man isn’t much of a Sidereal, but it was the best I could do.”  

“I like him.  He is Masaru’s favorite character.”

“But not your favorite character.”   Akachi tucks his hands into his coat sleeves.  “Who is your favorite character?”

“Firebrand Sharise.”  you respond instantly.  

Akachi chuckles.  “You and your Fire Aspects.”

You don’t rise to Akachi’s bait.   “What’s wrong with Firebrand Sharise?  The Everburning Passion is the coolest warstrider!”

“Nothing, except she wasn’t one of my characters.  Too bad none of the early copies of Metals God aren’t around anymore.  Nashwa’s Desert Wind puts the Everburning Passion to shame.   It took me hours to draw all the details.”   

You roll your eyes.  “A warstrider is more than looks.  How many Essence Cannons did the Desert Wind have?”   

“Child, function is meaningless without an elegant form.”

((End of Chapter 6!   I’ll admit I have been waiting for Svante’s Trial of Endings since it was decided he was to be a Chosen of Secrets.  Chosen of Journeys Svante would have also gone through the Sorcery Trials, though with Ayesha Ura as the Instigator, instead of Chejop Kejak.   Now I can start planning out Part 2))

((I was going to add more to this post, but ran out of time.  I’ll keep the other topics in mind and bring them up as the Quest goes on.))>