123 – Despair

You decide to start simple.  “Goddess of Waters, why is your river raging?”

“It is that time of the year,”  The River Goddess smirks, one of her braids leaves a muddy smear on her cheek.  “My floods lay silt up upon the villager’s fields and ensure a strong harvest next year.”

“Did she serious use the ‘It’s that time of the month’ excuse?”  Aiko hisses to Chiyoko.

You ignore Aiko’s comment and frown.  “The potatoes still lie upon the fields.   If you flood them now, this year’s harvest will be ruined.”

“It is true.  My floods usually occur after the harvest is complete.”  She glances up at the grey storm clouds. “The rains came early this year.   Once certain events have been put into motion, there is nothing I can do to delay the floods.”

“Did you submit a complaint about the storm gods to the Terrestrial Bureaucracy?”

The River Goddess arches a muddy eyebrow.  “What makes you think the Terrestrial Bureaucracy cares for the concerns of a lowly river goddess, little Dragon?”

“If they don’t take your complaint seriously, you can appeal to the Bureau of Nature in Yu-Shan.”  Any Terrestrial god on official business can visit Yu-Shan.  You hope the goddess will jump at the chance to visit Heaven.

Instead the River Goddess freezes.  She stares at you and flares her nostrils.  She closes her eyes and considers her next words carefully.  “Of course,” she smiles.  “I will file a report as soon as I can.  Thank you for reminding me of my options.  Out here, one can forget the support of the Celestial Bureaucracy.”  Nothing of goddess’ smile reaches her eyes and she has slithered her way out of every question you pose.

“What do you know about Root Beard’s cult?” you ask.   Time to be direct.

“Root Beard told you about his cult?”  The Goddess’ clear eyes darken to a muddy brown and the river beneath the bridge roars.   “What a fool!”

The Dragonblooded encircle you.  Chiyoko stands between you and the goddess.   Masaru stands at your back.  With a flick of Aiko’s hand, you smell the stench of rotting blood.   For a moment, their actions confused you, until you realize they were protecting you.

The goddess closes her eyes and the river calms to a rumble.   “I suppose Root Beard’s cult is why you dragons are here.”  Her shoulders slump down.  “You are going to put an end to it.”

“What do you know about Root Beard’s cult?” you ask again.

“Nothing,” the goddess whispers.

“Really?”  You step around Chiyoko.  You can’t properly talk to the goddess when she is standing in the way.  “Root Beard said you threatened to drown one of his singers.”

The goddess’ muddy eyebrows narrow.  “Is that old spud trying to deflect his crimes on me?”

“Have you ever drowned anyone?”

Standing up straight, the goddess takes a step towards you.  “I am a River Goddess.  Many fall into my river.”

“So you drowned people?”  Masaru asks in broken Spirit Speech.

Masaru balls his fists at the goddess approaches.  “Once, long ago when the Suns ruled Creation, I was allowed bicentennial sacrifice.  You dragons put a stop to that and taught me the errors of my ways. “  She flips her long muddy braids aside and reveals a long scar on her shoulder.   “So here I sit and wait for my feast days.  I accept what is offered and nothing more.”  The goddess spits those last words into Masaru’s face.

Masaru doesn’t flinch.  “What do you mean by ‘what is offered?’”

The goddess’ smile chills like a frozen river.  “Despair.”  She licks her lips.   “Some mortals no longer want their lives, so they offer them to the river.  She stalks around Masaru and reaches out to run a finger along his back.  “I wouldn’t expect the blood of the Dragons to understand despair.”

Masaru spins around and slaps her wrist away.  “Do not touch me.”

The River Goddess smirks and stalks around the others.  “Like all the Exalted, you have the power to control your own fates.”   As the goddess studies Aiko, the Earth Aspect definitely meets her eyes.  The goddess ignores her and moves on to Chiyoko.   The watery woman stops and cocks her head.  “Or perhaps I am wrong.”  She licks her lips again and leans forward.   “Tell me, Dragon child.  Do you grow weary of hiding the darkness in your soul?”

“Chiyoko?” you are confused.  “What is she talking about?”

Chiyoko grips the handle of her sword.  “I don’t understand what you are saying.”  She replies in Earthtongue.

“Ah, but what I speak of transcends language.  You know the true pain of living.”

“Chiyoko, ignore her.”  Aiko yells.

“Leave her alone!”  you words burn with essence.

The River Goddess shivers at your command yet she still holds out a hand to Chiyoko.  “Come, child.  Within my waters you will find the rest you crave.”

Chiyoko cocks her head and knits her brow.  Gripping her sword tight, Chioyko takes a step forward.

What do you do?

  • Wait to see what Chiyoko does
  • Attack the River Goddess
  • Pull Chiyoko away from the River Goddess
  • Other