“Chuzei Enki may be older and more experienced than us but he is not infallible.” You begin. “We will need a plan if we want to outwit him.”
Chiyoko agrees. “Masaru, hand me a notebook.”
Masaru rubs the turquoise fuzz on his cheek. “I can’t talk you out of this, Chiyoko?”
“Nope.” Chiyoko grins as she holds out her hand for the notebook.
“You don’t have to come with us.” You propose to Masaru and Aiko. “I don’t want either of you to get in trouble.”
“I might as well come along. I’ll just get expelled for not reporting you anyways.” Masaru slaps the notebook down on the relocated nightstand. “I’m not going to rat you out, Svante.”
You turn to Aiko. “Your grades will drop if you miss your exams.” You warn the Earth Aspect.
“I’ll pass even if I miss all the exams.” Aiko smirks. “Someone with intelligence needs to come along if you want to succeed. “
“And if we aren’t at school, then the assassins can’t find us.” Chiyoko interjects as she sketches out the school grounds.
“You already know about the assassins?” You are grateful you did not have to tell her. You have been the bearer of enough bad news today.
“Have you not read your history?” Aiko chides. “If the Shogun dies, her heirs are going to war. Just because we are students does not mean we are safe. We’ll be killed as an afterthought.”
“Neither Akane or Hayate are going to kill you.” Masaru counters. “The Shogunate will never follow a child murderer.”
“We won’t be murdered, Masaru. We’ll just have an unfortunately training accident…. if Chiyoko’s father doesn’t make up his mind on who to support. “
“My mother is an officer in Akane’s legion. Hayate has already set the price for how my parents can prove their loyalty.” Chiyoko fidgets with the notebook. “I rather rely on my circle than Chuzei Enki and the rest of the teachers.” Chiyoko adds a few lines to her sketch. “The school is an old fort. The walls are twenty-six feet tall and the front gate is the only way in or out.”
“Unless you know an Earth Aspect who can craft hand holds in the walls.” Aiko adds. “The groundskeeper fills them in, but we always make new ones.”
“Won’t the teachers patrol the walls?” Masaru asks.
“It’s a big school. They can’t watch the whole length of the wall. If we are quick we can climb over without them noticing.”
“This seems too easy.” You say. “Chuzei Enki must have some other plan.”
Chiyoko chews on the end of her pencil. “Svante, can you scout out the school grounds and see what the teachers are doing?”
“Check to see if the teachers are warding the gate and walls.” Aiko ordered.
“I know what to look for!” You stomp into your shoes, grab your coat, and disappear outside of fate. Masaru picks up the Mei Mei cleaned dinner plates and opens the door. Chiyoko grabs Mei Mei, so she does not escape out the door. You trail behind Masaru as he makes his way through the hallways. A few students are loitering on the stairs. The teacher patrolling hallways pays Masaru no mind as he passes.
“Masaru!” a voice calls out.
Masaru curses under his breath. “What? I’m busy!” Noboru, one of Masaru’s older brother approaches. He is a head taller than Masaru and you. Tiny ocean blue braids swing around his round face. Masaru tries to make his way through the outside door, but Noboru blocks him. Noboru crosses his thick muscular arms. “I want to talk to you about next year’s roommate situation. You don’t have anyone assigned to your room.” You groan in frustration. You have seen Masaru’s brother a few times but he does not remember you. Fucking Arcane Fate.
“Noboru, I have a roommate. The Chuzei just forgot to add his name to the list.“ Masaru tries to push past his brother. Noboru holds out a hand to stop him.
“I’ll tell you what. You go to Chuzei Enki and ask him to switch rooms with me. You’ll be on the top floor! You can see the Manse of the Anathema from the window!”
“You already asked the Chuzei to switch out of Vogu’s room and he told you no.” Masaru snickers at his brother’s predicament.
“I have more seniority than you have. Why do you get a room all to yourself?”
“I don’t get a room all to myself.” Masaru explains again. “My roommate is more annoying than Vogu. He snores. He drops in at all hours. Leaves my manga all over the floor. Dog ears my manga.” Maidens, you did that ONCE. “Just today, I walked in on him throwing glass all over the floor. He even rearranged all the furniture.” Were you that annoying of a roommate?
Masaru motions Noboru away. “I need to drop these plates off at the kitchen before curfew.”
Noboru opens the door to let Masaru though. As Masaru passes by, Noboru says. “I’ll offer you my copy of Metal Gods #2789.”
Masaru stops and stares at his brother in shock. You stop in shock. There are over ten thousand issues of Metal Gods. Most are lost, thanks to Arcane Fate. Issue #2789 is centuries old. Akachi himself may have drawn it. Where did Masaru’s brother get it?
Masaru shakes his head. “I can’t. You are just going to have to suffer with Vogu next year.” Masaru continues on to the dining hall. You slip out of the dorm.
“Dragons,” Noboru goes back inside.
In the dying light of the evening, you scout the school grounds. You squeeze past the holly bushes growing along the wall. If you did not have your coat on, the spiny leaves would scratch your arms. You run your hands over the rough limestone. It is not long before you find the first handhold. You reach higher and discover a second one. You hear voices. You duck behind the holly bushes.
Chuzei Enki and a couple of teachers walk past. “Are the gates warded?”
“Yes. Had to drag out the ladder, but we got it done.” The Air Aspected Thaumaturgy teacher replies. She is tall – all arms and legs – causing the students to call her “the purple grasshopper.”
“What about the holes in the wall?”
“I told the groundskeeper to plug them up tomorrow morning. It will take him a few days to find them all.” It is the Fire Aspect Chuzei from the laundry room.
Chuzei Enki grunts. “Can he work faster?”
“The groundskeeper is an elderly mortal.” The Fire Aspect counters. “I’m not going to have the old man climbing ladders in the dark. He’ll break his neck.”
Chuzei Enki paces closer to the wall. He stands beside the bush you are hiding. You don’t dare to breath. “Get some of the Earth Aspects to help him. They made the holes, they can plug them up.” The Chuzei decides.
“You two take first watch. I’ll take the next with….” Your heart stops as Chuzei Enki stops speaking. “Excuse me. Mayim!” Your heart restarts as the Chuzei calls Masaru’s name.
Masaru strolls over. “Yes, sir?”
“Why weren’t Cnead and Hui at dinner?” Shit. You should have created a cover story for missing dinner.
“I think they were studying, sir. Some tome Cnead was assigned to read.” Masaru shrugs. He was a lot calmer than you would be in this situation.
“Really…. Where are they now? The Library?”
“No, sir. When I last saw them, they were in my dorm.” You hold your breath and wait for the Chuzei’s response.
“I want to see this book. No telling what Cnead brought with him.” You silently curse again. Couldn’t have Masaru said you were in the library and lead the Chuzei around the school?
“Yes, sir.” Masaru follows the Chuzei. You sneak around behind the bushes and break out into a run. You burst through the doorway, startling some students. You race for your room. Breathless, you open the door. Chiyoko and Aiko replace the last piece of furniture in its proper place. “Chuzei Enki is coming.”
“Shit!” Chiyoko fumbles and hides the notebook. Aiko picks up the Five Moons of Denial, but you stop her. “Wait.” You lay the book on the desk and open it to a random page, just as Masaru returns with Chuzei Enki.
“Cnead, Mayim here tells me you have a book.”
“I have lots of books, sir.” You retort. “Was there one you were looking for in particular?”
The Chuzei’s eyes narrow. “Enough of your mouth, Cuckoo. You are in enough trouble as it is. Hand me over the book.” You sigh and pass over the Five Moons of Denial. Aiko bites her lip as the Chuzei reads the spine. “Where did you get this book?”
“One of my Elders gave it to me.” You don’t bother giving the Chuzei a name.
Chuzei Enki flips though the book and hands it back. “You shouldn’t let the other students see this book, Cnead.”
“I’ll be careful, sir.” You pass the book to Aiko.
Chuzei Enki snorts and looks around the room. “Is there a reason why your manga is all over the floor, Mayim?” Masaru’s neat stacks of manga were tipped over and scattered under the window.
“Cnead was helping me rearrange my manga, sir.”
“I see. I expect to have this room cleaned up by inspections tomorrow morning.”
Chuzei Enki’s eyes scan the room. You realize he is trying to find a reason to search the room. The Chuzei will try to stop you from leaving, but rules of the school still bound the Chuzei. He could not search the room without cause. You wonder in what other ways the rules limited the Chuzei.
“Lights out in an hour. I expect you to be in your bed by then.” The Chuzei warns.
“Yes, Sir.” The Chuzei leaves and you lock the door behind him.
What do you do?
- Use Masaru’s brother to distract the Chuzei
- Use Aiko’s Blood Ape to distract the Chuzei
- You make the distraction
- No Distraction. Just try not to draw attention to yourself at all.