“Head to the Yu-Shan Gate.” You sit at the navigation console and give Masaru the coordinates. Afterwards, you sit and collect your thoughts. Mei Mei settles in your lap. You take a deep breath and rub the sweat off your face. Then you summon an Infallible Messenger.
“Akachi,” you begin. “Chuzei Enki is dead. Lung Hayate is working with a Lunar named Lung Suri. I think her tell is her buckteeth. Lung Duri is dead. I gifted her with the Broken Mask and the Lunar killed her.” You send the spirit off.
The reply comes back almost instantly. “Are you okay?”
No, you think. You are not okay. Two people died because of your actions. Akachi’s voice is barely a whisper, but hearing it steadies you. For once, you want to talk about the messed up jumble of feelings with Akachi. Yet you do not know anything about his mission and if he is whispering, he must be where he can be overheard.
“We are fine. We are on an airship headed to Yu-Shan.” You close your eyes and remember the Lakehouse. You will be going there soon. It will be nice to relax and let the adults take care of Creation for a bit. You can show Chiyoko and the others around the markets and the temples of Yu-Shan.
But first, you have to do what you can to help. You ponder who else to tell about the Lunar. Sasha most definitely. She is with the Shogun. Wanahton is with Admiral Mayim. Yeva is with Akane’s legion. Maidens, you dread talking to Yeva. You lean back against the chair. You are so tired. Summoning another massager right now is beyond you.
“Svante,” Aiko swivels her chair around to face you. “Was that woman another Sidereal?”
Aiko asks another question. “Who was she then?”
“I don’t want to talk about it right now.”
Aiko isn’t going to let it go. “But…’
“I don’t want to talk about it!” you yell. Mei Mei whines and stares at you.
The drone of the essence engines does little to fill the silence after your outburst.
“No, we are going to talk about it now.” Chiyoko turns your chair around to face her. She sits up, broken arm across her chest. “We are going to talk about it now, because we can’t do our job if we don’t know what is going on.”
Do you have to do this now? “Your job is to do what I say and I say leave me the fuck alone.” You turn your chair back around and attempt to tune the others out.
Aiko barks out a laugh. “No,” Chiyoko corrects. “Our job is to protect you.”
What? “I don’t need protection.”
“Please.” Aiko says. “Your anima doesn’t even burn and frankly…” Aiko shuts up when Chiyoko stares her down.
“No, you are wrong. It’s my job to protect you.” You are a Sidereal. Chosen of Jupiter herself. “It’s my job to protect Creation and everyone in it safe.”
“Shit. Chuzei Enki was right.” Masaru mutters.
“What does that mean?” You remember him saying that before.
“Svante, it is our job to protect Creation. We are Dragonblooded. It is your job to guide Creation. To warn us about Creation’s dangers. To advise us on how to deal with them.”
“To tell us what the fuck is going on.” Aiko interjects. “I know you are a Chosen of Secrets, but gods, do you have to keep everything a secret?”
You think this over. “That’s fine, but I don’t need protection.”
“It’s a numbers game, Svante.” Masaru says. “There are hundreds of thousands of Dragonblooded. Only few hundred Sidereals. You are harder to replace than we are.”
“I….” you pause. Logically, what they said made sense. And it was worse than they thought. There was only a hundred Sidereals at most and it could take up to fifty years for a new Sidereal to reincarnate. “I don’t want you to die for me.” You tell Chiyoko.
“Trust me.” Aiko crosses her arms. “We don’t want to die for you either. But when shit happens it’s your job to run your dim glow ass back to Heaven. “
“Svante, look at me.” Chiyoko rests her good hand on your cheek. You stare in her warm orange eyes and remember the moment in the barn. “Svante, you act like you carry Creation on your shoulders, but you aren’t alone. You have us.”
“Let us help you.” Masaru says.
“And we can’t help you if we don’t know what the fuck is going on.” Aiko adds. “Come on secret keeper. Spill the beans. Who was that bitch?”
“She’s not a bitch.” You start. You make an effort to keep your voice steady. “Her name was Lung Duri. She was your cousin. I shared my Arcane Fate with her and made her circle forget about her.” Tears fall down your cheek. “I killed her! I wanted to save everyone, but I fucked everything up.”
“Dragons,” Aiko curses. “You are such an egotistical idiot. You didn’t kill this Duri person. The Anathema did.”
“Wait, what Anathema?!” Masaru jerks the wheel as he looks back at you. The Airship jerks with him.
“Masaru!” Chiyoko clutches her broken arm.
“Sorry!” He rights the ship and focuses on the sky ahead.
“You really need to learn Spirt Speech. Svante just said there was a Lunar. And that her tell was a buckteeth. Sunan never had buckteeth. So she was eaten by a Lunar ….or fucked a Lunar or…”
“We don’t need the whole list, Aiko.” Mei Mei licks the tears off your chin. Maidens, you hope Arcane Fate will make this conversation disappear. “Just because I didn’t wield the sword doesn’t mean I cause her death.”
Aiko rolls her eyes. “And maybe if Masaru hadn’t stopped for dumplings we wouldn’t have been captured. “
“You said you were hungry.” Masaru retorts.
Aiko continues. “As I said before. Shit happens. Stop wallowing in it like a pig. You are no use to anyone sitting around mopping.”
You say nothing for a long while. Aiko may be tactless, but she did have a point. You have to pull yourself together. You wipe your tears on your sleeve and run your fingers through your hair.
Aiko smiles as she watches you pull yourself together. “See, you should listen to me more often.”
You grunt at red haired girl and notice that Chiyoko has been quiet during this exchange. She looks lost in thought. “Chiyoko, are you okay?”
“Can you really make Creation forget about people?” Chiyoko asks. There is an earnest, hungry look in her orange eyes when she asks this question.
“Yes, but there is always consequences to important people disappearing.” You did not believe Elder Kejak when he told you this, but you do now.
She nods and hugs herself with her good arm. You remember what the River Goddess said about Chiyoko. You are about to ask if she is okay when Akachi’s reply returns.
“Do not go to Yu-Shan. Land at the Lower Fields of Meru. The Shogun’s Secretary will meet you there. Forward all further messages to Elder Kejak.” There is a pause in the message. “I’m sorry, Svante. I cannot risk my current Resplendent Destiny. I have to go. Stay safe.”
No Lakehouse then. You sigh and tell Masaru to change course for Meru.
“What, we aren’t going to the city of gods?” Aiko asks, disappointed.
“Meru is where the Lunar wanted to take us in the first place.” Chiyoko points out.
“If we are needed in Meru, we should go to Meru,” Masaru says. He seems nervous and checks the weather report for the Mountain.
“Is everything okay?” you ask.
“It’s just that the winds are strong at Mount Meru.”
“Can you handle it?”
“Yeah…Sure.” He fidgets with a knob on the control panel. “It’s fine.”
You lean back in the chair and attempt to mediate. If you are going to Meru instead of Yu-Shan you need to be in top condition. Each time you clear your mind, images pop up. Chuzei Enki lying dead in the mud. Lung Duri spitting blood.
“Svante? We are about to land.” You shake your head. You are unsure if you actually succeeded in mediating or just passed out from sear exhaustion. You rub your eyes and see Mount Meru loom large in the window. The skyship flies over the ruins of the city.
“There’s the field,” Chiyoko points out.
“That’s a field?” Masaru squints at the patch of brown amongst all the gold and white. “It doesn’t look very big.”
Mei Mei begins to bark. You stare out the window, as the landing field grows closer. A tall figure waits in the field. “Svante, let your pilot know they are flying in too low.” The messenger imitates Elder Kejak’s calm voice.
“We are coming in too low.” You say.
“I’m trying to pull up!” Masaru says as he fights the wheel.
“The other pilot was able to land on the village street.” Aiko says.
“The other pilot has years of experience! I’ve never actually landed a Skyship before.” Masaru admits.
“Masaru, you idiot!”
What do you do?
- Bail! This ship has parachutes right?
- Ask Elder Kejak for help. Maybe he knows of an easier field to land in.
- Have Masaru retry the landing approach.