“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
(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. )