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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