20 – Secrets

You dramatically burst through the door, with your wrench held high and anima burning bright. “You want the boy? Here I am! Look me in the eye and tell me the Chosen of the Maidens don’t exist, criminal scum!” The Komodo Guard, who was about to take a chunk out of Nanny, stares in shock at your entrance.

Looking deeply into the Komodo Guard’s eyes, you snatch the desire to do harm to Nanny from his mind. It is difficult for you to burden your mind with such a nasty and perverse longing. You feel unclean just knowing such a thought can exist.

“What the…?” The guard, confused, backs away from Nanny.

“You want me? Come and get me!” You point your wrench at the guard. “Tell me again how Sidereals don’t exist! Tell me that this isn’t the sign of Jupiter!” you point at the caste mark on your brow.

“Tell me how I crushed your brothers like the filth they are!“ The sounds of Wanahton fighting can still be heard from the front room.

“Tell me how I am not going to beat the tar out of you, for even thinking about harming my Nanny.” You are tired, hungry, and sore, but you will not let this scumbag hurt Nanny.

The guard stares at you for a moment. “Shit, shit, shit. I’m not taking a fall for that bitch. “ He tries to make a break for the door. The Owl sticks out his foot and trips the guard as he tries to leave. You smack him on the back of the head with your wrench. The guard falls to the ground unconscious.

Nanny’s eyes are wide you approach her. You pull the gag out of her mouth. “Are you okay?” you ask as you continue to untie her. She nods.

Rubbing her wrists and Nanny asks, “Really, Keeper. Next time I taken hostage, can you at least wait until I am free to taunt the kidnapper?”

The Owl ruffles his feathers. “Unfortunately, my usual methods of intimidation involves threats of extra homework. That wouldn’t work in this situation, so I had to improvise.”

You stand back as you watch Nanny and the Owl talk. The Owl motions you over.

“Gatherer of Windborne Children, this is Svante Visscher, Chosen of the Maidens. “

“How do you do, young man?” She begins to offer you her hand, but stops short. Looking thoughtful for a moment, she turns to Owl. “Is he…is he one of mine?” she whispers.

“Yes,” he whispers back. “He’s only be Exalted for a month.”

Nanny is dismayed at this. “He is so young! What were the Maidens thinking?”

“I was told that there had been a miscalculation.” There is a note of disbelief in the Owl’s voice.

“Do you remember me?” you ask Nanny hopefully.

Nanny looks at you sadly. “No, dear, but I haven’t been working off and on for the Bureau of Destiny for seven centuries and not figured out what they use me for.” She glances back at the doorway and then opens her arms to embrace you. You go her. You have always felt safe in Nanny’s arms.

“You mustn’t tell anyone I figured it out,” she whispers to you.

“Can I come back to live with you?” Akachi was alright, but he wasn’t Nanny.

“No, I cannot defy the will of the Maidens.” Your world turns upside. The Nanny you knew would have moved mountains for you. This Nanny, to this Nanny, you are a stranger. She breaks away from you and straightens her gown. “Keeper will watch over you. Won’t you, Keeper?”

“Haven’t I always?” You hear voices in the other room. “Hmm… I think we have run out of time. Come on, boy. Time to meet your destiny.” Owl motions for Nanny to go first. Putting a hand on your shoulder, Owl leads you back to the front room.

The front room is filled with new people you don’t recognize. Wanahton is leaning against a wall talking to a short tanned man dressed in green robes. The man is searching through the debris of the fight for something.

“That grapple technique you taught me worked great, Sifu!” Wanahton babbles, covered in a cold sweat. Wanahton’s sifu pulls out a decorative bowl out of a pile of broken knickknacks. The man turns the bowl over to empty it out.

“Too bad you didn’t remember to dodge. You’re in for a bad few days, Wanahton. That poison is nothing to joke about.” He hands Wanahton the bowl.

Sasha is standing by the door, casually cleaning the blood off of her sword. She smiles when she sees you, Nanny, and the Owl come into the room. Sheathing her sword, she says to you “I wouldn’t worry about Trailing Sorrows anymore. You missed the lions carrying her away. “

You watch the Owl and Nanny leave the apartment.  She smiles warmly at you, but all you feel is an emptiness in your heart.  Even if you see Nanny again, it will not be the same Nanny you knew. You have never felt so alone. You feel someone tussle your hair and look up to see Sasha sadly smile at you. You hug her. “It will be okay,” you hear her say. “I know you don’t really know me yet, but I’m still here.”

Everyone in the room falls silent as another man dressed in green enters the room. The only sound that can be heard is Wanahton vomiting into the bowl. The man walks over the fallen guards and the broken idols on the floor with the same disregard. He stops in the middle of the room and surveys the damage.

“I suppose it could have been worse,” the man judges. The tension leaves the room when he says this. He walks over to where you and Sasha are standing. Sasha breaks away from you, as the man looks you over with green eyes that mirror your own.

“Svante, did Trailing Sorrows strike you?” With a gentle touch, the man moves your head to get a better look at your cheek.

Still remembering the humiliation of being held by Trailing Sorrows, you nod. You see anger comes into this man’s eyes. “I…” you start to explain.

“Svante, I want you to understand that I am not angry with you. I am furious that one of the Bureau of Humanity dare strike on of my Sidereals…a child at that.”

“I thought Trailing Sorrows was stripped of her domain by the Bureau of Humanity, Elder Kejak,” a woman’s voice says from behind Elder Kejak. You recognize her from the dojo of Rikali’s memory. Iron grey hair. Red eyes.

“That does not matter. Wun Ja should not have let such an unstable element loose in Yu-Shan. “ Your stomach growls. All this talk is not getting you any closer to being fed.

The woman laughs. “My student is going to wilt from hunger before I can teach him a single kata. You can scheme later, Elder Kejak. Our growing boy needs to eat.”

Elder Kejak ignores the woman’s cheeky comment and motions her forward. “Svante, I would like you to meet Gens Yeva. Yeva is a master of the Violet Bier of Sorrows and all four of the Immaculate Arts. Elder Akachi and I have asked her if she would consent to be your sifu and she has accepted. “

The Dragon Star, the sobriquet comes unprompted into your mind as you and your new sifu exchange bows.

Yeva smiles and says, “I have lunch back at my office. And yes, Sasha, you may join us.” Sasha had stepped away, trying not to look like she was hovering over you.

After lunch, you are taken around the Bureau of Destiny and introduced to the other Sidereals and various gods that work at the Bureau. After a lifetime of being ignored, you find being in the center of attention from so many people exhausting and not fun at all. After the day you had, all you want to do is curl up and take a nap.

You see one of the women from the café walk down the hallway. You wave at the slim woman with dark curly hair, as she approaches the crowd.

“Svante?” Sasha calls you over. “Let’s go upstairs. You can see where my office is.” She takes your hand and leads you away from the crowd. You notice Elder Kejak give Sasha a slight nod of approval and moves to intercept the approaching woman. The woman glares at Elder Kejak and turns to walk down a different hallway. Elder Kejak follows.

You are silent as Sasha leads you up stairs. “It can be overwhelming meeting so many people.” Sasha comments.

“Yeah,” you say distracted. You are still thinking about the woman in the hallway. “Who was that curly haired woman in the hallway?”

“Ayesha?” Sasha looks embarrassed. “She is a Chosen of Journeys and has some radical ideas. Everyone thinks she is kind of crazy. Anyways, Wanahton and I share an office….” Your mind wanders as Sasha changes the subject.

You are walking barefoot down a moonlit beach, sandals in hand. The bag containing the scroll weighs heavily on your shoulder. You see a figure in the distance. As you approach the figure, you realize that it is Ayesha.

“Do you have the scroll?” she asks you without a welcome.

“Yes.” You hesitate before opening your bag and handing it to her. “Do not ask me for any other items from the Keeper of Locks’ domain.” You pull out the scroll and hand it to her.

Ayesha smirks, “So the old bird has grown on you. I’m surprised, Rikali. I didn’t figure you the sort to fall for the mission objective.”

You do not dignify Ayesha’s barb with a response. You turn away from the woman and watch the waves lap up on the sand.

“I’m sorry. That was out of line,” Ayesha apologizes, breaking the awkward silence.

You sigh. “It’s okay.” You say, forgiving Ayesha. “I figured you are snarky without thinking by now.”

You have dreaded this meeting, yet now that you here, you are loath to leave. You pity this woman, who has chosen a difficult path to walk. A path that sometimes you wish you had the courage to walk yourself. “You aren’t going to tell anyone that I gave you the scroll.”

“I’m not going to tell anyone that I have the scroll at all. Though…” Ayesha pauses. “Why are you helping me? “

You pick up your sandals and brush sand off of your skirt. “Perhaps I am not as willing as some to gamble on prophecy.”

((OOC: A long post for the end of Chapter two. Chapter three will start on Monday. Friday I will post something about the Yu-Shan Politics I am using for Hero. Possible as Owl explains it to Svante (if I can make it work. ) Let’s just say there is no Creation-Ruling Mandate. ))

(( Gold star for Semi-Casual for suggesting Thought Swiping Technique, Erinys for Svante’s opening line, and Ferryman for suggesting Avoiding the Truth Technique. ))

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19 – Junk

You shake your head, trying to get your thoughts straight.   Find Nanny.  That is your main priority.   You enter the apartment, climbing though the hole in the broken door.  In the front room, you see that the walls are covered floor to ceiling with shelves cluttered with thousands of knickknacks.  The Owl is nowhere in sight.

Wanahton, glowing with the power of Mercury, grabs hold of one of the two remaining guards fighting him.   He throws the guard against the wall.  The guard slides down the wall and then picks himself up off of the floor.   Noticing that you entered the room, the guard starts to advance towards you.  A knife flies though the air and pins the guard’s shoulder to the wall.

“Backroom! “  Wanahton grunts as the last guard latches on to the Messenger’s forearm with his mouth.  Winching, Wanahton swings the guard into one of the curio cabinets.  The glass shatters and broken figurines scatter all over the floor.   Yet the guard does not release Wanahton’s arm.

“Go!” he shouts.  “I’ll be fine.”   With the guard still attached to his arm, Wanahton approaches the guard pinned to the wall.   The guard pulls the knife out of the shoulder and throws the knife at you.   You duck as a knife sails over your head and decide that it would be a good time to leave the room.  Carefully, you walk over the broken figurines and three insensible Komodo guards that litter the floor.

The next few rooms of the apartment consists of rooms filled to the brim with…junk.   Piles of discarded and broken babbles cover each room in the apartment.  You have to step carefully or else you will knock something over.  You can hear the Owl’s voice as you approach the last room.  You stand back lest your anima gives away your approach.

“It’s over.  Three Agents from the Bureau of Destiny are already here.   Trailing Sorrows will soon fall.  Your brothers are being detained as we speak.   Poisoning the goddess at this juncture will not help your case with the Lions.   “

“Only four of you?  From my count, we outnumber you at seven.  We haven’t lost yet, god.   Give up the boy and the goddess goes free.”

“Don’t be such an idiot.   This isn’t about numbers.  These Agents have been especially chosen to take care of petty thugs like you.”  Owl sounds exasperated at the guard’s inability to know when he is beaten.

The guard laughs.  “Are you talking about the supposed ‘Chosen of the Maidens’?  I have heard tales of the Exalts that haunt the halls of the Bureau of Destiny.   It’s all lies to frighten the rest of the Bureaus in to falling in line.  No one I know has ever seen one before.   “

“Considering the circles you move though, I am not surprised,” the owl retorts.  “So tell me, did you have to give Trailing Sorrows a discount before she was willing to hire scum like you?   Obviously, whatever she paid was too…”

Insulted, the guard interrupts, “Shut the fuck up.  Bring me the boy.   Or when I am done with her, the goddess won’t be much use to anyone.”

You take a risk and glance around the doorframe.  You see the Owl facing one of the guards.  Nanny is tied up and blindfolded in a wooden chair.   The guard looms over Nanny, his mouth near her shoulder.  You quickly move away.

“You are out of time.  Release the goddess, now. “  The Owl must have noticed the green light of your Anima.

“No.”  You hear Nanny’s chair creak as she tries to get away from the guard.

What do you do?

  • Distract the guard, by throwing something
  • Rush in, Wrench Raised
  • Maybe Owl can think of something to delay the guard.
  • Other

(( OOC:  Fight scenes are easier to write when there is personal property to destroy!

Next scene will be the last for this chapter. ))

18 – Counterattack

As you stare into Trailing Sorrows’ muck brown eyes, you remember ….

You are in a Dojo, fighting a woman with chin length iron grey hair. She would be a perfect example of an Earth Aspect of high breeding if not for the mark of Mars on her brow. You hold your sword casually in front of you and wait for her attack. Your opponent calls upon the speed of Mercury and slashes at you with her sword. You counter her attack with your own sword and kick her in the stomach. She gasps and backs off, needing regain her breath.

Back in the present, Trailing Sorrows attacks. She attempts cuff you on the side of the head, intending to knock you out. The wrench feels like an extension of your arm as you raise it to deflect the goddess’ blow. Using the momentum of your parry, you kick Trailing Sorrows in the gut. Breathless, her grip loosens and you break away from the goddess. You smirk at Trailing Sorrows as you spin the wrench in your hand. The mark of Jupiter burns on your forehead.

Trailing Sorrows draws back, wary after your attack. You are not the defenseless little boy she was expecting. Pressing your advantage, you strike again, this time at her throat. You hand is jarred as Trailing Sorrows redirects the wrench away from her and tries to grapple you yet again. You dash away from her hand and kick her in the side.

As you and Trailing Sorrows continue to trade blows, your anima rises. Despite your opponents longer reach, still you manage to get a few hits in. Bruises begin to form on your opponents arms. Still, you are not completely unscathed. Blood from a scratch threatens to blind your left eye. You ignore the urge to wipe the blood away, focusing on your opponent. Nothing matters in this moment except for Trailing Sorrows.

Trailing Sorrows changes her tactics. She repeatedly darts in for a quick feint and scurries away before you can strike her with your wrench. You get frustrated as she never seems to draw near enough for you to reach her with your wrench. Sweat trickles the side of your face. Your stomach growls to remind you that you have not had lunch yet. You still manage to dodge Trailing Sorrows attacks but not with the quickness of before.

The goddess smiles and comes in for another attack. She hooks her hands around your wrench and rips it out of your hands. The wrench clangs onto the floor and slides a few feet away from you. You realize that she was baiting you. Tiring you out.

Trailing Sorrows lunges forward. You try to dodge, but she managed to snag you in her grip again. You struggle against her. She slaps you across the face. “Now, little one. Enough playing. Time to go.”

“What do you think you are doing with my little brother?” A voice calmly calls from further down the hallway. You see Sacha walk down the hallway sword drawn. Only her violet eyes reveal her fury at goddess’ attack on you.

Trailing Sorrows pulls you closer and puts her hand around your neck. The stench of grime and gore is overpowering. “If you come any closer I will rip his head off.”

“Then you will lose the chance to learn what he knows.” Sasha raises her sword in front of her. “And you will die.”

Trailing Sorrows scoffs at Sasha’s threat, “I have waiting decades already for this incarnation. What is a few more for the next one? But you, you will lose your little brother. “

Sasha hesitates, realizing her mistake. Then her eyes narrow and says. “I suggest you Let. Him. Go.”

You feel Trailing Sorrows suddenly go stiff with pain. She screams. She loosens her grip on your throat and you are able to drop away from her to the floor. As you scoot away you see that the Owl had sneaked up behind her and clawed her back with his talons. The Owl then withdrawals from Trailing Sorrows.

Trailing Sorrows, deprived of her victim, screams in rage. She advances towards you. “Run!” Sasha screams as she steps between you and Trailing Sorrows. The sign of Saturn glitters on her brow as slashes at Trailing Sorrows with her sword. Trailing Sorrows’ retreats from Sasha. The goddess gingerly touches the slash at her throat and her fingers come away with blood.

“What do you want with Svante?” Sasha inquires calmly, bloody sword held high.

Before Trailing Sorrows can respond, the door of Apartment 3699 bursts outward. The guard escorting Wanahton goes sailing through the air and slams into the far wall of the hallway. The guard slides down the wall unconscious. You can hear fighting going on in the apartment.

From the other side of the two woman, you hear the Owl mutter about a mess. He cautiously approaches the door, peers inside, and then enters the apartment.

Trailing Sorrows uses the distraction to try to get at you again, but Sasha blocks her. The two women begin to battle, with Sasha gracefully dodging Trailing Sorrow’s darting strikes.

You pick yourself off of the floor and wipe the blood and sweat off of your brow with your sleeve. Your head is still ringing from Trailing Sorrows’ slap, but otherwise you are not badly injured. Mostly just hungry. Your anima casts a dim green light off of the walls of the hallway.

What do you do?

  • Run, as Sasha ordered.
  • Pick up your wrench and help Sasha with Trailing Sorrows. Defeating Trailing Sorrows would be a great sibling bonding experience
  • Follow Owl into the apartment. Nanny could be in there!
  • Other

((OOC: I’ll admit, I’ve always been intimidated by writing fight scenes. Let me know what you guys think!))

17 – Wrench

Why are adults always so useless?  You sigh as you reach back into the maintenance room and pick up a long wrench sitting by the door.   You quietly close the maintenance room door and start trailing Wanahton and the guard.  You keep out of sight by staying a hallway behind the two.

Fortunately, Wanahton is not difficult to follow.  He keeps up a running dialogue of complaints as the guard leads him through the maze of hallways.    You peer around the corner to see which hallway the guard was taking.  After the two disappear from sight, you dash up the hallway to the next corner.

The guard opens the door to the tower stairwell.   Wanahton begins to tell a story about a fish that grants three wishes.   You realize that the guard cannot understand Earthtongue.  You file that away for future reference.   You wait for a moment and then follow them into the stairwell.  The guard exits on the third floor.

As you quietly close the staircase door, you notice that Wanahton has attracted the attention of the other tower inhabitants.   A clerical type god opens his door after the guard and Wanahton passes.     He looks down the hallway to see what is going on.   As you pass him by, the clerk gives you a strange look.   You can hear him mumble about strange and noisy neighbors as he reenters his apartment and closes the door behind him.

“And that is why you should always throw wyld wishing fish back into the sea!”

“Get the fuck inside,” the guard barks.

“Bah.  No one likes my stories.  You’ll regret not listening to me when your kids have fins instead of hands.”

You turn the corner just in time to see the door of apartment 3699 slam.   You are a genius!   It would have taken the three of you FOREVER to find out which apartment Nanny was in.      But now you know!   Time to get back to the others and free Nanny.   And of course prove that you aren’t just a useless kid after all.

You mind wanders a bit as walk down the hallway.   Sasha will tousle your red hair and tell you how smart and brave you are.  The owl will take back all those mean things he said to you earlier.   When Akachi gets back from Creation….

A cold hand firmly grips your shoulder.   You see oily locks of hair fall forward out of the corner of your eye.  A soft voice breathes into your ear, “Ah…  Hello, little one.  We have been expecting you.”

Your heart skips a beat.  You try to wretch yourself free of the hand, but it holds you tight.    You are shoved back against the wall to face a tall slouching woman.   Tears from her muck brown eyes leave trails down her ashy grey cheeks.   The front of her gown is torn and the hem splattered with blood and mud from the field of battle.

A widow in mourning.

“Trailing Sorrows.” You whisper.  You mind races as it tries way out of this situation, but you can only hold one thought in your head.   You fucked up.

Trailing Sorrows grimly grins.  “Good. You remember.  Now come along, little one.  Time to see what else you can remember.   ”

She tries to drag you away, but you adjust your stance and brace yourself against Trailing Sorrow’s pull.   “I’m not going anywhere with you.”

The glee in her eyes betrays her melancholy voice.   “Oh, my child.  Do you actually think I am going to give you a choice?”

What do you do?

  • Try to run…..too late for that….
  • Claim your inheritance as a Sidereal.  Raise your wretch and reveal to Trailing Sorrows why Violet Bier of Sorrow is the most secret and powerful of Creation’s melee styles.
  • You still your fears.   Memories of Rakali’s Signature Style, Immaculate Water Dragon, flood your mind.
  • Your mind is alit with rage at thought of this goddess getting her way.   You might have been chosen by Jupiter, but the Immaculate Fire Dragon Style of your Dragon Blooded ancestors is almost second nature to you.
  • Other Celestial Martial Arts Style.   Give reason why it would be in character for Svante to have access to it.

OOC:   I tried to find a happy medium between punishing Svante for his impulsiveness and rewarding you for being proactive.  Also, this scene is better than having his future Sifu outright asking what MA style he wants to learn or just saying “You are going to learn and you are going to like it!”

Probably should have mentioned Svante’s Dragonblooded breeding earlier in the story.   (I did hint at it in that blurb about Nanny.)   Oh well, you will get more details on that next chapter.

16 – Guide Book

You glance around the corner to take another look at the tower. Though the ornamental bushes that surround the tower, you see the corner of a large air vent. You have used such vents before to get into many buildings you weren’t suppose to be in.

“Why don’t we sneak it though that vent?” you suggest, pointing out the vent near the front door.

Sasha takes a look herself. “It should be large enough for most of us to get into the building, but to get to the vent, we will need to walk past the guards. “ She tossles your hair. “Good eye, Svante!”

“If someone distracts the guards, then the others can enter the building,” Wanahton says.

“That’s a good idea, Wanahton. What do you have in mind for a distraction, while the three of us head though the vent?” Sasha says.

“You want me to provide the distraction?” Wanahton looks shocked by this. “I would have…”

“Yes, you. While it will be a tight fit, Sasha, Svante, and I can crawl into the building though the air vent. You are too large. Simple physics says that you should be the one to provide the distraction.” Owl says testily. He has his eyes closed against the brilliant light of the Sun.

Wanahton opens his mouth to say something, but then closes it. He turns about face and briskly walks away from the group in the opposite direction of the guards.

“Where is he going?” you ask Sasha.

“I don’t know. I wish he’d tell us what he was going to do before leaving.” Sasha sighs.

After a few minutes pass, you see Wanahton approach the guards. “Look!” you wave the others over.

Wanahton walks up to the guards, looking confused with a book of some sort in his hands.

“Oh no! What does he think he is doing?! He doesn’t speak Spirit Speech. “ Sasha covers her eyes, unable to watch.

“Canal?” he asks the guards hopefully in heavily accented Spirit Speech.

The two guards look at each other. “Do we look like a canal? Get the fuck away from here.”

“Canal?” Wahanton asks again, this time pointing at his book. It looks to be a Yu-Shan Guide book.

The two guards look at each other. “Do you want me to bite him?” the Hookah smoking guard nonchalantly inquires.

“No. Maybe if we can figure out what he wants, he’ll go away. “ the other guard stands up and walks towards Wanahton. “Hand over your map.” he says, clawed hand out.

“Now is our chance!” You and the other quickly cross the street and reach the air vent. Fortunately, whatever god maintains this building has not allowed the ivy to grow over the vent.

“No!” Wanahton pulls the guidebook away the guard’s hand. As he sees you making your way across the street, Wanahton starts yelling in a language you don’t understand.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to bite him?” the smoking guard asks again.

“Canal!” Wanahton yells in heavily accented, broken Spirit Speech. “Where canal!?”

Owl touches the lock and slowly opens the vent and scrambles inside the vent. Sasha is next, Owl helping her into the vent. You grab the vent cover from Sasha and crawl inside. You slowly and silently close the vent.

“The canal is two blocks that way, you idiot!” one of them points with pipe of his hooka.

“No! Canal! Where Canal!?” He makes a motion of rowing a boat.

“I think he is talking about the canal boats. “ you hear one of the guards say, as you crawl away.

The air intake is a tight fit, but fortunately not long. Eventually it leads to a large maintenance room, light by the glow of blue and green gauges. Owl sighs as they enter the dimly light room.

“The note didn’t include a room number, so we are going to need to find a way to narrow down our search.” Sasha thinks for a moment. “If this tower has sublevels, then that would be the best place to start.”

“If I was going to kidnap someone, I’d hide them in the upper floors. That way I’d have advanced warning if someone was coming,” Owl counters.

“We should check the sublevels first…”

“I’m going to go look for the exit out of the room,” you announce. You are feeling antsy and don’t want to listen to yet another discussion on what to do next.

As you walk past the various types of machinery that supplies essence and fresh air and water to the building, you also keep a look out for Nanny. If you were going to kidnap someone, you would keep them here. The maintenance room is larger than you think, but you keep searching.  The sharp pungent scent of the magitech machinery burns your nose.  You can barely hear the voices of Sasha and the Owl.

You finally reach the door at the end of the room, having not found Nanny. After listening for a moment, you hear nothing on the other side. You open the door and find yourself in a long hallway fill of identical apartments. This is only one floor of many in the tower. You feel despair at the realization that finding Nanny might take longer than you thought.

You are considering quizzing your pattern spider yet again for information, when you hear voices coming down the hallway. You quickly close the door and listen.

“You would think the city of gods would have better hospitality to strangers!” you hear Wanahton yell in Earthspeak. “I’m sure there is form somewhere I can fill out against you! Ow!” You hear Wanahton being smacked by the guard.

“If you don’t shut up, I’m going to bite you again. And you don’t want me to bite you again.” The guard says in Spirit speech. Of course, Wanahton continues to make a loud fuss as they walk past the door. You crack the door open just in time to see Wanahton being escorted by a guard covered with hookah water. They disappear around the corner.

You look back behind you to maintenance room. The maintenance room is so large you cannot see or hear Sasha or Owl from the door.

What do you do?

  • Follow them! There is no time to waste!
  • Go back and get the others. There is a chance you’ll lose them but you’ll need backup.
  • Other

((OOC: I figured out a pattern with the low number of responses on some posts. I don’t give you guys enough details to make a decision. Also, it seems like weekends are a low traffic time on the board. I might drop the Friday post and move the Wednesday Post to Thursday.

I tried to ramp up the details on this post. It’s a flaw in my writing that I am trying to fix. Thankfully, you guys are patient with me. ))

15 – Memories

You follow the other two Sidereals on your way to see Owl.   You are excited.   They haven’t once mentioned that you need to run home and that…

“You sure we should be bringing the kid into this?”  Wahanton asks.   Well, so much for that.

“He has about as much experience being a Sidereal as you have, Wahanton,” Sasha retorts.

“Yes…but I have much more life experience than he does.”

“Wait, how long have you been a Sidereal?”  you ask Wahanton.

“About five months.  I only got here two months ago.  But I have seen five decades.  “  Wahanton smiles.  “You are an early bloomer.  I am a late bloomer.”

Five months seems to be a longer than your single month as a Sidereal.  But you have noticed that people’s idea of time gets skewed in Yu-Shan.

“You grew up in Creation.   That is why you don’t speak Spirit Speech.”  You realize.

“I grew up floating on Golden Leaf Canal.  I was born in my parent’s river boat.   I learned to swim before I could walk.    As a young man, I heard about the West and its endless seas.   I wanted to go see them for myself.  So I packed up my things and headed west.   It was there I met my wife.   “

“But the endless seas weren’t enough.  I had heard about the great ice ships of the north.   So I packed up my wife and my things and headed north.  Not only did I find the great ships of ice, but those that can sail on the air.   It was wonderful. “

“One day, my wife told me she was cold and wanted to move to some place warmer.   A wise man listens when his wife says such things, especially when she is carrying your child.  So we moved back to the rivers of my youth.  Our children played on the shores of the Silver River. “

“For a time I was content, but soon my feet got itchy again.   I wanted to travel again.  My wife was agreeable, as she and my mother did not get along well.  So we headed south, to the shores of the Inland Sea.   There we started a business ferrying goods to the Blessed Isle and back. ”

“It had been years since my wife had seen her family, so we headed back West.  We weren’t going to stay long.  Just a visit.”  His yellow eyes go distant as he reminisces.   “Our fleet got lost in an unmapped Wyld Zone.  I managed to navigate our way through it.   We lost a few boats along the way, but most of the fleet survived. When we reached Western Islands….  My family didn’t recognize me.   I was a stranger to them.”

“I wandered for a few months, then Elder Akachi found me.   Told me what I was and what we did.   Smooth talking bastard.  If I knew what I know now, I would not have followed him.”

“Do you really regret coming to Yu-Shan that much?” Sasha wonders.

Wahnton thinks for a moment.  “Some days? Yes.   But in the end, I would have still come.   The rest of you having been hiding in this beautiful city of gods for far too long.  You say that you are protecting the common man, but you have no idea how we live.  Mortal lives are just a matter of numbers to you.   “

“Do you miss your wife?” you ask. “And your kids?”  Does every Sidereal have to leave their family behind?

“All the time.  But that part of my life is now behind me.  It would be selfish of me to go back.   My wife needs more than a ghost for a husband.   We must go our separate ways.   “

Your group is silent as they enter the building and head towards the classroom.

“This isn’t a normal school, is it?   I don’t see any other classrooms.”  Wanahton notes.

“No.  Most Yu-Shan children are tutored by their parents or, in the case of young Sidereals, hired instructors, like Keeper.  After I exalted, Elder Akachi thought Svante needed more interaction with children his own age.  So he asked Keeper to teach a full class of students.  “

“Ah…  So a fake school.   “   Wanahton sounds disapproving, but doesn’t comment anymore on the school.  You never really thought about what a school would be like in Creation.   You make a mental note to ask Wanahton later.

You come upon the Owl just about to reenter the classroom after lunch.  He looks a bit ragged after the morning he’s had.   He stares down at Sasha, feathers ruffled.  “Bringing the boy back from your little field trip?  You could have asked me to take him instead driving the class into madness to distract me.  I know cursed astrology when I see it.  I expected better of you, Sasha.”

Meekly, Sasha says, “It was Elder Kejak’s idea.”

“Of course it was Kejak’s idea,” the Owl mumbles to himself.  “That man never does things in a straightforward matter.   Well,” the Owl continues in a normal tone of voice.  “Might as well keep him for the rest of the day.  I’m about to send this lot home.  Have their parents deal with them. “   He takes a closer look at the three of you.  “Unless there is something you need…”
“Someone kidnapped Nanny,” you reveal.   “Someone named Trailing Sorrows.”

The Owl goes still for a moment and then opens the classroom door.   “Out!  Go home!   And I expect a five page paper on the Four Virtues on my desk form each of you tomorrow!  No exceptions.  No excuses.  If I don’t get it, I’ll flunk the lot of you!”    You watch the students file out of the classroom in various states of dishevelment and injury.

In the now empty classroom, Sasha explains the story to Owl.   Owl, tapping the ransom note in his hand, asks you, “You have been remembering Rikali’s memories?”

You shrug.  “Only dreams every once in a while.  Sometimes I know things I couldn’t know, like with Trailing Sorrows.”

Owl turns away and starts pacing in front of the chalkboard.   He is clearly distressed by the whole situation.

“Am I missing something here?” Wanahton looks to Sasha, who shrugs.

“Rikali and Owl were…. Together.”  You explain.

“….Together.” Sasha repeats.  She pales when she realizes what this means and puts her face in her hands.

“That is awkward.” Wanahton states.  “You haven’t had any memories…”

“No!” you yell.   To be honest, you never really considered that possibility before.

“I asked Lytec what memories he left on Svante’s Exaltation last week, but he just laughed and walked away.”   The owl stops pacing and comes to you.  “Svante, if you ever have any… awkward memories…”

“Come talk to you?”  That would probably be the last thing you wanted to do.

“No!  Of course not!  Go to Akachi.   He’s a chosen of Venus, so he’d be the best one to explain… anything you might see.  It is bad enough I have to shepherd a child’s intellectual growth.  I rather not deal with the messy emotional development. “  He starts pacing again.  “I should have never let Akachi talk me into tutoring you lot.”

“Smooth talking bastard, Elder Akachi is.”   Wanahton agrees.

You desperately change the subject.   “Why did Trailing Sorrows take Nanny?  What does she want with me?  Is this about the Scroll?”

“The Scroll?  No, it can’t be about the scroll.    No one except me knows that Rikali took it.”

Sasha speaks up, “Keeper, if you and Rikali were…Together, it wouldn’t be too hard to figure out who you gave the scroll to.”

“Yes, but Rikali was a Sidereal.  And Trailing Sorrows is still affected by Arcane Fate.   There is no way she could connect Svante to Rikali to the scroll.   “

“Unless someone told her.  Maybe someone in the Bureau of Destiny is feeding her information.” Wanahton pulls out his pipe to light it again.  The Owl gives him a dirty look and Wanahton puts the pipe away.

“What is in the scroll anyways?  Why is it so important?” you ask Owl.

“This has nothing to do with that scroll!   Rikali was a Chosen of Secrets.  She was the keeper of many secrets, even from me.  It could be a thousand other things,”  Owl explains.

“You still didn’t answer my question!” you yell at Owl, frustrated at receiving yet another half answer.   “You just talked around it.  No one tells me anything!  How can I be a Chosen of Secrets if no one ever trusts me with any secrets?!”

“There are some things you are not yet ready…”

“You have to wait until you’re older.  I wouldn’t rush though childhood, Svante. “  You switch from imitating Akachi’s deep voice to the Owl’s high tenor.  “There are some things you aren’t yet ready to learn.  Everyone keeps holding me back and I am fucking sick of it.  I want to do…something!”

“Why would I think the Enlightenment of Exaltation change your essential nature?   You are still the impatient little brat you always were.   “ Owl snaps back.

“Hey!  This isn’t getting us any closer to finding Nanny!”  Sasha interrupts.   She turns to Owl.  “Where would Trailing Sorrows be hiding her?”

Owl calms himself down and thinks for a moment.   “She would want us to find her, as we would need to exchange the boy for Nanny.”   He goes to his desk and lock on the side drawer pops open at his touch.  He digs around for a moment and pulls out a brush.   He swipes the brush back and forth across the entire note.  An address appears near the bottom.

“That is not in a good part of Yu-Shan, “ Sasha states.

“Why would the goddess hide the address like that?” Wahanton asks.

“Why wouldn’t you conceal important information?” Owl is confused by Messanger’s question.

Wahanton rolls his eyes and mumbles something about gods.  “If that is bad part of town, we should find somewhere safe to put the boy.”

“No!  I’m coming with you!” you protest.

“We need to bring Svante with us.  He might remember something else from Rikali’s memories and….” The Owl sighs.  “He would just follow us in any case.”

“Just two guards?  This seems too easy”, Wahanton whispers, as they observe the building.   The guards milling outside the front door of the tower.

“How is this too easy?  We haven’t even gotten in yet!” Sasha replies

“We need a plan.  You have a plan for getting in and getting Nanny out, correct?” Owl says.   There is silent from the other two Sidereals.

What do you do?

  • Try to find a hidden way into the building
  • Take out the guards.
  • Pretend that you are here to drop you off and talk your way into the building
  • Other

OOC:  That is the longest one yet!   And that, my friends, is as far we are going to go into dealing with the Awkward Past Life memories.   Just far enough to make some jokes, but not far enough to become… too disturbing.

14 – Sister

Clinging precariously to the ledge, you watch the smoke from Wanahton’s pipe drift out the window.   You decide the best thing to do is to get down off the building and look for Owl.   After Akachi, you trust the Owl the most.  It was still lunch time, so maybe you can convince him to cancel the rest of classes and help you find Nanny.

Though, Sasha seems to care about Nanny.  How does she know Nanny?   You have never seen her before.   Maybe she knew her before you lived with Nanny?  But that didn’t make sense.   Sasha said she exalted three years ago.  As you consider this, you remember something Akachi said, “When you take your second breath, Arcane Fate is at its most powerful.  It completely wipes clean your existence from the Loom of Fate.”

You yelp as you lose your balance off of the ledge.  You realize who Sasha could be!   Wanahton leans back out of the window to see what made the noise.   Eye wide, he steadies you before you fall to your death.   He curses in a language you don’t recognize and then says in Earthtongue. “Get back inside, you stupid boy!  You’ll fall and kill yourself.   Just because you’re exalted doesn’t mean that you are invincible.”

You climb back into Nanny’s apartment, unsure if you are shaking from the near fatal fall or the realization that there was something missing.   That someone has been wiped clean from your memory.

Sasha rushes to see what is going on.  “Are you okay?  I was worried that whoever took Nanny took you too.”   She hugs herself, when she says this.  You look the girl over again.   Her face is not recognizable.   You have never seen her in your life.   Is this how it was like for Gina?  For Nanny?   Maybe you are wrong and this girl is nothing to you.

“Who are you?” you ask, in Spirit Speech.   “I know your name and that you are Sidereal, like I am.  But who are you to Nanny?”

“Nanny raised me.   Just like she did you.”

“But you said that you exalted only three years ago.  Does that mean….you are my sister?”  You always yearned to have an older sibling.  Someone to ask advice from.  Someone to protect you from bullies.   Someone to be your friend.

She smiles, “Well, we aren’t blood relatives.   But yes, I’m your sister.”   She slowly walks to you, not to startle you.   She takes your hand.  “I tried to visit after my exaltation, but you were just a kid.  You didn’t want anything to do with a girl you didn’t remember.   It was awkward and I was very busy with training.  So I stopped coming by.  “

You weren’t alone.  You had someone to help you find Nanny.   Someone who loves Nanny as much as you do.   Someone who understands what you are going through!   You spontaneously hug Sasha.  She gladly returns your embrace.  “I missed you so much, little brother.”  You can feel her tears dripping on your hair.

“I came here to talk to Nanny and someone took her!   Because of me.   “   You try to hold back from crying yourself.  You break away from Sasha, uncomfortable by the depth of your emotions.  You pull out the note out of your pocket and hand it to her.  Then you turn to look at one of the paintings still hanging on the wall, trying to calm down.  You are twelve years old.  Too old for crying.

Wanahton approaches, upon seeing the note.   He was hanging back to give the two of you space.   “What does it say?”

“It says that if we bring them the boy, then will return Nanny unharmed.”  Sasha switches back to Earthtongue.

“They could be talking about some other boy…” You and Sasha stare at Wanahton.  “I don’t think that is likely either, but it is something we should keep in mind.”   He paces for a moment.  “Let’s say that they are looking for Svante.  What would someone want with a twelve year old Oracle?”

“He’s young, so if say, the Lunars get a hold of him.  They could have a Sidereal help them.”

Wanahton scoffs at this.  “Unlikely.   He was raised here and has been indoctrinated against Lunars just as you have.   He would never work with them. “  He takes a puff of his pipe.  “What else?”

“He’s a chosen of Secrets.  “  She turns to you. “You haven’t been spying on anyone lately, have you?”

You pout a bit.  “Akachi has keep me hidden away in his lakehouse until yesterday.   I haven’t been able to do ANYTHING… until now.”  But you have an idea.   “Where is it? “ You start digging through your pockets.  “Here you are!”  You pull out a small emerald green pattern spider.   You put in on the kitchen counter and it slowly unfolds itself, as if just waking up.

“Is that a pattern spider?”   Wanahton says.  He comes over to take a closer look and pokes at it with his pipe.  The pattern spider curls its legs away from the Messenger’s pipe.

“Please don’t piss off the pattern spider,” Sasha says, exasperated.   “They don’t like being poked.”

You pick up the pattern spider and hold it up to your eyes.  “Spider, who wants to hurt me?”  A strand of fine silk drops from the ceiling and the spider climbs up and disappears.   A few seconds later, it returns.   “Warning:   Results will take two hours, twenty-three minutes, and forty-seven seconds to relay.  Do you wish to continue?”

“No…” You are dismayed at the number of enemies you have apparently accumulated.

“What did it say?” Wanahton asks.   He laughs after Sasha translates for him.   “We are Sidereals, kid.  Everything wants to kill us.  Everything that remembers us, that is.”  He takes a puff off of his pipe.  “Ask it something else.   Ask who took your Nanny?”

You relay Wanahton’s question.   The spider answers “No results found.“

“What?” you are starting to lose your patience.  “ You stupid spider.  What do you mean no results found!? Wait!  That wasn’t a real question!”  But the spider was already gone.

When the spider returns, it says “Results must be known to at least 100 creatures under the influence of the Loom of Fate.   Results must not be concealed or hidden by any means supernatural or otherwise. Results…”

“Okay.  Okay.  I get it!  You are useless, Spider.”  You throw the spider back down on the counter.

“Hey! Show some respect!”  Sasha thinks for a moment.  “A question 100 people know the answer to…”  She quickly picks up the note.   “Ask whose handwriting this is?”

The spider comes back.  “Trailing Sorrows”

“Who?   Ask it what department Trailing Sorrows works for? Svante?”  You don’t answer Sasha’s question because you already know the answer to it.

“She will leave you alone if the scroll leaves your domain” you, but not you, said to Owl long ago.

“She doesn’t work for any department.  Not anymore.   She was fired for insubordination.   But that was just an excuse.   The Department of Humanity just didn’t want to be responsible for her actions.”

“How do you know this Goddess, Svante?”

“I don’t know.  I remember Trailing Sorrows, but I know I never met her.  It’s all confusing.”

Wanahton curses again and Sasha sighs.   “You might have never met her, but your past incarnation must have.”

Wanahton puts down his pipe and dumps out the salt shaker on the counter.  He draws the sign of Mercury in the salt and meditates on the symbol for a while.

“I know where we need to go next.”  He says, brushing the salt off of the counter.

Where does Wanahton say you need to go next?

  • Go to Owl.  He must know something about what is going on
  • Go get the other Sidereals.   This might get bigger than the three of you and it would be nice to have backup.
  • Continue on your own.  Between the three of you, you got this!
  • Other

OOC:  Gold star for Kazorth for figuring out that Sasha is more than she seems.   😉

Also, Svante only has the Auspicious Prospects for Secrets.   Fortunately, Wanahton has Investigation favored, so he has Auspicious Prospects for Journeys.   (He is rather good at reading people).  Though I am unsure walking a few blocks away is considered a “Journey”, but since we are already playing fast and loose with the rules….