You consider the lioness’ riddles and smile. “River, Mountain, Fire” you point at each of your friends in turn. “Stars” you point at yourself. “The Riddles are us.” The lioness’ tail twitches eagerly as she watches you point.
Aiko shakes her head. “It can’t be that easy. The lioness said ‘riddle’, not ‘answers’. Each Riddle has to do with a Maiden of Fate. The River is Journeys. The Fire Battles. The Mountain Serenity.”
“There are five maidens,” you remind her.
“And only four riddles,” Chiyoko adds.
“There are five riddles,” Aiko holds up her hand, fingers spread wide. “The question of the theme is the last riddle. The End of the Riddles. Endings.”
“Don’t over think this.” The lioness cautions in Spirit Speech.
“Wait,” you confront the lioness. “I thought you didn’t give hints.”
The lioness shifts her weight and says nothing.
Aiko scowls. “Dragons! This is the stupidest security system! Once we attune to the manse, we are completely changing it!”
“Something else is going on.” You met the lioness’ gaze, trying to figure out what is going on. “You want us to attune to the manse. Why?”
She stares back, her eyes burning with hope and…
“She is lonely.” Chiyoko faces the lioness. She raises a hand. The lioness bows her head. Chiyoko places her head over the lioness’ flicker heart. “She has been here all these centuries waiting for someone to come.” Chiyoko scratches the lioness behind the ear. The lioness purrs.
You watch the lioness interact with Chiyoko. “Are you lonely?”
The lioness pulls away from Chiyoko’s hand and paces in front of the Jade Door. “No one has come since the lockdown. All there is me and the builder bugs.” She looks back at the group. “They aren’t known for their conversational skills.”
“Why all the riddles then?”
The lioness sits tall in front of the door. “I have to fulfill my purpose.” She licks her lips. “Though I am able to choose which riddles to ask. I have assisted you as much as I can.”
You and Aiko exchange a look. “The riddles relate to each of our aspects. Fire for Chiyoko. River for Masaru. Mountain for Aiko. And Stars for me…. though a riddle with the answer of ‘Secrets’ would work too.”
The Lioness chuckles. “I had considered a riddle for secrets. It is good the Maidens have now have Exalts.” The Lioness’ mood sombers. She raises a ruby paw to the Red Jade Door. The carvings on it break out into brilliant orange light. The door explodes out, a searing wind blowing your hair back. “The manse is your, if you wish to claim it.”
The room beyond the door is bare, except for a flickering bonfire in the center of the room. The lioness circles around the flame. Her heart flickers in time with the bonfire. Within the flame bobs a flat red disc.
You draw closer to the flame, to get a closer look at the hearthstone. A burst of glowing light, orange like the dawning sun, radiates from the center of the stone. You run a hand over the outside of the flame. In spite of the sweat running down your face, the flame is cool to touch.
“What does the hearthstone do?” Aiko asks.
“The Stone of the Light Sleeper bars sleep to addle the mind of its master. You will instantly awake with no confusion. “ The lioness pauses to add. “I am told the stone makes it difficult to sleep in noisy locations.”
“I assume we will all get keystones, but only one person can attune to the manse.” Masaru points out. “Who is going to claim the hearthstone?”
Who is going to attune to the manse?
- You answered most of the questions.
- Aiko can speak Spirit Speech and talk to the manse’s keeper. She answered questions.
- Chiyoko seems to have an affinity to the lioness. Also, giving her the hearthstone may make up for being an ass earlier.
- Masaru. Masaru is the most responsible of the group. He should have control of the manse.
- Let the adults decide. You are sure Elder Kejak is just outside. He will know what to do about the manse.