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
(Svante’s first Secret!)