117 – Cold

The dining hall burns.  Fires climb up the walls and tickle the clay roof tiles.  Teachers scream out orders, but the words are noise to you.  All you can hear is the thud of your heart pounding.

The prank!  No way this was part of the prank!  You should have asked Vogu what he was planning.   You should have let Arizus have a few days to do his research.  You should have entrusted this task to someone not stupid enough to play with Fire Dust!

Your eyes burn as the bellowing smoke rises yet you cannot look away from the fire.   The Fire Chuzei races out of the dorms, barefoot and still in her nightclothes.  Chuzei Enki screams that two students are still in the dining hall.   She activates her anima and rushes into the burning building.

You wait.  The Air Aspect teacher rouses the water elements sleeping around the building.   They surge forth and cry out in agony when they evaporate into steam.   Still the fire burns.  Fire Dust burns hotter than a normal fire.  Teachers begin to awaken the other water elements from the other buildings.

You wait.  Blood trickles down your fist as you fingernails bite into your palm.  The dining hall roof is ablaze and you hear a crash of timber.  How much more time did they have?

Vogu and the Fire Aspect burst out of the blazing hall, carrying Arizus between them.   Arizus is covered with burns, blood dripping from where the Fire Anima Flux scored him.  Chuzei Enki takes the boy and the other two Dragonblooded fall away.  Vogu collapses to the ground, coughing.   The Fire Aspect Chuzei kneels to collect her breath.

The Doctor examines Arizus.   He is still, too still.   You dare not breathe while you wait.

“He’s alive.  We need to get him to the infirmary.”  The doctor declares.   With the doctor’s words, a heavy weight lifts off your chest.

“Svante!  Svante!”  Chiyoko’s voice calls frantically in your ear.  “Why don’t you answer me!?”  You realize she has been calling you for a few minutes.

“Svante, we are already over the wall.  We will met you at the Travel Shrine.”  Aiko calmly tells you.

You watch the burning scene below you for a few more moments.  With the building cleared, Air elementals deprive the fire of oxygen.  Stretchers carry both Arizus and Vogu away.   You rise up and fly away from the school.

 

Travel Shrines dot along the major causeways of Creation.  Each major city has a travel shrine.  Each Yu-Shan Gate has a travel shrine; most people consider those travel shrines in the middle of nowhere.

You land just outside the tranquil travel shrine.  Your cloak reforms around your shoulders and drops to ankles.  You walk past the dozing horses and the general store to the shrine itself.   You step back into fate and enter the shrine.  Incense offering burn at the altars of the local travel gods.  Some Immaculate Monk try to discourage worship outside of the calendar.  Others make offerings alongside their parishioners.

 

Mei Mei greets you at the door, tail wagging.   She leads you to a back room where Chiyoko and Aiko read a map spread out over the table.   Masaru talks to the weary monk of the shrine.   Chiyoko rises from the table and hugs you.

“What happened?  Why didn’t you tell us you were okay?”  Chiyoko’s eyes narrow.

“I’m fine. “  you assure Chiyoko.  Masaru joins Aiko at the table.  “Did you get the horses?” you ask.

“Yes, but…”  Masaru wants to talk about the fire.

“Good.”  The last thing you wanted to do was talk about the fire.  You just wanted to forget the whole situation happened.  “We need to get going if we are going to get to the village before dawn.”

Chiyoko crosses her arms.  “First, you…”

“No, Svante is right.”  Aiko interrupts.  “The Explosion doesn’t change anything.”  She shrugs.  “Actually, it makes our mission easier.”

Aiko agreeing with you?  You are not sure how you feel about that.  “Let’s go.”  You step away from Chiyoko and pick up Mei Mei.

“Chuzei Enki was right about Sidereals,” you hear Masaru mutter to Chiyoko as he walks out the door.   You pause at your horse, heart pounding.  What did Masaru mean by that?

Chiyoko leaps on to her horse and takes the reins.  She settles her mount with a touch.  You could count the number of times you have ridden a live horse with one hand and have fingers left over.  You awkwardly climb into the saddle.

Aiko holds out her hand and a small smoke dragon unwinds itself from her arm.  The sorcerous contruct twists and turns in the air, waiting for orders.

“Take us to Wong Farm,” Aiko orders.

 

A few hours in to the ride, rain falls from the sky.  You shiver.  Before this trip, you have always liked rain.  It never rained in Yu-Shan, so it was a novelty to you.  Now rain soaks your clothes to the skin.  Your ass is sore from the saddle.  Never in your life have you been so miserable.  Now, you prayed for this infernal ride to end.

But you never let on how miserable you are to your travel companions.  Masaru’s word still burn in your ears.  What did Masaru mean by that?  Did he think you were weak?  Did he notice how much the fire shook you?

Or did Chuzei Enki tell him how cold and heartless a Sidereal could be?  The elder’s vote on your life still bothered you.  You swore to Akachi during your Trial of Fire you would never be like that.  Yet isn’t that what you just did?  You did not care if Arizus or Vogu got in trouble for the prank.   You just cared they distracted the teachers so you could leave.

You shiver. You are glad it is raining now.  Maybe the rain will help put out the fires.  Maybe the rain will hide your tears from the others.

In the early morning hours, you reach the village.  The two story Immaculate temple rises above the red clay roof tiles of the Wong Village.   Acres of potato fields surround the village.   Empty festival stalls line the cobblestone streets.

Masaru halts his horse by the town well.  He gingerly shifts in his saddle.  “Let’s see if anyone is awake at the temple.  They can give us shelter and information.  And dry clothes.”  Thank the Maidens you were not the only cold one.

“If we go to the temple, the monks will make a big production about our presence.”  Chiyoko counters.  “I don’t think we reveal ourselves yet.  At least not to everyone.  Let’s find a villager who can take us in.”

“No, the mission should be our first priority.”  Aiko interjects.  “We should start looking for this god right away.”

What do you do?

  • Go at the temple
  • Find a villager
  • Start searching for the god
  • Other

 

 

116 – Distraction

“Lights out in 15 minutes!”  Chuzei Enki calls out.    He patrols the hallway and meets your eyes as you pass with your toothbrush in your pocket.   You scowl at him and enter the bathroom.  The other boys get ready for bed.   You find an empty sink next to Vogu and Arizus, the boys who killed the goat earlier this year.  You begin to brush your teeth.

Arizus rinses his face.  “You know now to use this stuff, right?”

“Of course, I do!”  Vogu leans against the sink.   “My mother explained it to me.”

“I don’t think this is a good idea.”

“You are going to back out.”  Vogu accuses.  “I let you in on the biggest prank this school has ever seen and you are going to back out.”

“I didn’t say that.”  Arizus quickly replies.

“You are leaving me next year for Sorcery school.”

“I just want to make sure you thought this through.”

“You are leaving me with Mayim Noboru as my fucking roommate.”

Arizus sighs.  “I’m in.   Just… can we do it this weekend?”

Vogu scowls at this, so Arizus explains.  “I just want to do more research at the library before we do this.”

“Nadia is already in.  If you don’t want to help me, she and I can do it ourselves.”

“I didn’t say that!”  Arizus raises his voice.  Quietly, he continues.  “We should do it this weekend.”

“Fine.  Don’t back out.”

“I’m not going to back out.”   Arizus assures Vogu as he leaves the bathroom.

“He’s fucking going to back out.” Vogu curses.

“Sounds like it.” You comment.

“I wasn’t fucking talking to you.”  Vogu smacks you upside the head.  “Didn’t anyone tell you it is rude to eavesdrop?”

“You are talking in the boy’s bathroom.  Not the best place to discuss your new prank.”  You rub the back of your head.

Vogu points a finger at you.  “If you tell anyone…”  The Fire Aspect pauses, unable to remember your name.  “…I’ll find you.”  He continues, giving up.

“Whatever.”  You rinse your brush.   “You should do it tonight.”

“What did you say?”

“The more time Arizus has to think about the prank, the more likely he is going to back out.”

Vogu brushes his teeth and considers your suggestion.  You put your toothbrush back in your pocket.  Before you leave the bathroom, you adjust Vogu’s fate.   He will decide to pull his prank tonight.

 

After lights out, you and Masaru lie in bed and wait for the dorms to settle down.

“You should have asked Vogu when he was doing his prank.”  Masaru complains.  He reads the latest copy of Pretty Princess Meru with a glowing crystal.

“It will be fine.”  You assure Masaru.  “If Vogu and his friends take too long, then I can make a distraction.”

“Sh.”  Masaru hushes you.  He turns out his light and hides his manga under the covers.   You face away from the door and wait.   The door creaks open.  Mei Mei lifts her head and ruffs at the Fire Aspect Chuzei, as checks in on you.

“Mayim.”  The Chuzei whispers.  “What did I tell you about reading manga after hours?”

Masaru rolls over and says, “Ma’am?”

“Hand over the manga.”  She holds her hand out.  Masaru groans and passes over the manga.  The Fire Chuzei rips it up and closes the door behind her.   After a few minutes, the hallway lights go out.

“Shit.” Masaru curses.  “She’s never shredded my manga before.”  Masaru sits up in bed and slips on a set of leather gloves.  Black jade covers his knuckles.

“Arcane Fate, man.”  You clasp your cloak at your throat and belt on you green jade sword.  “Something was going to happen to that manga.”

Masaru hefts the bag filled with his armor.   “You ready?”

You nod.  “I’ll meet you at the travel shrine.”  You pick up Mei Mei and place the puppy in a pouch.  Mei Mei’s tail wags against your chest.  You rearrange the pillows on you and Masaru’s bed so they look like you are still sleeping.  Then Masaru slides open the window and together you hop down behind the holly bushes.

“Good Luck” Masaru whispers, as you pass him Mei Mei.   You step out of Fate and activate your cloak.   The green cloth reforms into grey green wings.   Silent as an owl, you rise above the school and survey the buildings from the air.   The teachers patrol the walls in pairs of two.   The library, both classroom buildings, the dorms and the dining hall is quiet.   You lose track of Masaru as he makes his way to Chiyoko and Aiko’s window.

You search for the pranksters.  The plan was you were going to send a messenger to Chiyoko when they do their prank.   For the ten thousandth time, you wish you could carry your words on the wind like the others.   You sigh and wait.

Finally, after waiting for an hour, you see movement near the top floor of the dorms.  Three figures climb down the outside wall of the building.   They drop down behind the bushes and wait for a pair of teachers to past.   You watch them walk across the courtyard, slowly and deliberately towards the dining hall.   Crossing the courtyard is the riskiest part of sneaking out, why are they…. As they reach the steps of the dining all, you see the spark fall to the ground.

You bite your fist not to cry out.  Fire dust!  Those idiots have fire dust!  What sort of prank involves fire dust?  No wonder Arizus wanted to research more in the library.   The three figures pause for a moment and then open the door.   Two of the figures enter the dining hall and one waits outside.  You fly closer to see if you can see what the hell they are doing in the dining hall.

“I knew I’d catch you, Cnead.”  You hear Chuzei Enki say.   Your heart stops and you look for the Chuzei.   You see him walk up to the figure and in confusion asks, “Taika?”  Your sigh with relief.   You weren’t caught.   “What are you doing out of bed?”

“Sir, I wasn’t sleeping well, so I came to the dining hall to get some warm milk and it is such a nice night, I decided to drink it out on the steps.”  Nadia holds up an empty glass.  “Am I in trouble?  I know I’m graduating in a few days…”

Chuzei Enki searches the darkness.  “You haven’t see anyone else out and about, Taika?”

“No, sir.”

Chuzei Enki grunts.  “If you are finished with your milk, let’s go and put the glass back.”

“I was going to bring it back in the morning, sir.”

“Why wait?  The dining hall will need that glass for breakfast.”  Chuzei Enki puts his hand on the door handle.  “Unless there is a reason why you don’t want me in the dining hall…”

DANGER!  You dart up above the dining hall.   Seconds later, all the glass in the dining hall windows shatter.  The doors explode outwards, knocking Chuzei Enki and Nadia back.   Despite your prior warning, the shockwave almost knocks you out of the sky.

When you regain control, the dining hall is in flames.   The teachers rush towards the blaze.   Nadia screams out for Arizus and Vogu, running for the door.

What do you do?

  • Continue with the plan. You wanted a distraction and you got one.
  • Enter the building and see if you can find Arizus and Vogu.
  • Help the teachers fight the blaze
  • Other

((Not my best work.  Ended up working late tonight, but I wanted to get something up.))

115 – Plans

“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.

“Yes, sir.”

“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.”

“Yes, sir.”

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.
  • Other

114 – Misstep

“I’ll tell them.”  You offer.  Chiyoko would prefer to year the news of her Grandmother’s death from you rather than the Chuzei.

Chuzei Enki releases a held breath and nods.  You relax.  Tea with his daughter must have gone well.  Perhaps you can change his mind about letting you off campus during the upcoming rest days.   “I have a secondary mission that I need Chiyoko for.  We need to leave the school grounds during the rest day. ”

The Chuzei grimaces.  “I was not told about any secondary mission.”  He folds his hands over his stomach and waits for you to explain.

You hesitate before replying.   Explaining about the mission may mean that you would have to go alone.  You decide to play off your status as a Chosen of Secrets.  “I’m not allowed to share the details of this mission.  I’ll need some advice on security…”  You pause when the Chuzei starts to chuckle.

“Boy.  I’ve been teaching young Exalts for decades.”   The Chuzei stands up and looms over you.   “I know when one is lying to me. “

“I’m not lying!” You stand up and realize you are of equal height with the Chuzei now.  Before, during your first weeks at the school, the Earth Aspect was a towering mountain.  Now, you met the man eye to eye.   “I do have a mission. “  you declare.  “And I am telling you now.”

Chuzei Enki snorts at you.   “You don’t scare me, boy.   I might look old, but I can still take you.  Now either sit down or throw down.  I don’t got all day to put up with your bullshit.”

You clench your fist and consider the Chuzei’s words.  You believed you could take him.   He was an old Dragonblooded.  You are a Sidereal – a master of the martial arts.   The Orichalcum swords gleamed from over the old Chuzei’s shoulder.   You bet the Anathema who faced Chuzei Enki had the similar thoughts.  You sit down.

The Chuzei nods and takes a seat.  “You say you have a mission.  Prove it.  Do you have one of those red envelopes?  Let me see it.”

Your palms sweat and you resist wiping them on your pants.  You could not let the Chuzei see the details of the potato god mission.   It mentions nothing about bringing Chiyoko along.  “I left the mission briefing in Yu-Shan.”  You lie.

“How convenient.” Chuzei Enki smirks.  “You and the Lung Circle are not going anywhere….”

“You don’t have the authority to do that!”

“…You are staying on school grounds where it is safe.”  The Chuzei continues, ignoring your protests.  “You forget.  I’m in charge of this mission.  The safety of both you and the Lung Circle are my sole responsibility.  No other mission comes before that.  Do you understand?”

“No!  I don’t understand!”  you protest.  This is total bullshit!

“Do you understand?”  The Chuzei holds your gaze as he repeats his question.

You look away and give him the response he wants.  “Sir, yes, sir.”

“Good.  These are dangerous times, boy.  Now is not the time to play games.”  The old Chuzei picks up the next scroll to grade.  “Now get out.   I’ll be keeping my eye on you, Cuckoo.  Don’t try any of your tricks.”

You flee the office.

 

Back in the dorm, your hands shake as you dump your bag onto your bed.  Mei Mei comes up to you, but you push the puppy away.  You sort out the items you will need to cast Private Plaza of the Downcast Eyes. You pick up your copy of the White Treatise and stare at it.   In a fit of rage, you throw it against the wall.  The glued cover falls off and the book lands into two pieces on the floor.  Sitting on the bed, you hold your head in your hands.

You fucked up.  The Chuzei is not only aware of your mission; he will stop you from completing it.   This potato god mission is ending up being more trouble than it is worth.  You hear a whine beside you.  Mei Mei holds the inside pages of the White Treatise in her mouth.  She drops the book by your side.  You sigh and ruffle the puppy’s fur.   Mei Mei wags her tail.

You lock the door and prepare the room for the spell.  You pull furniture away from the walls and set Masaru’s black jade armor on his bed.   You sweep the dust off the floor with a broom borrowed from the janitor’s closet.  You clean the walls of the room with a concoction of frankincense, rosemary, and other herbs.   You study the spell in the White Treatise as you wait for the wall to dry. Once dry, you mark runes on the walls with grey chalk.    Casting this spell may be overkill, but you did not want to be overhear about the Shogun’s death.

After a while, Masaru unlocks the door and enters the room.  Mei Mei looks up from your bed and ruffs a greeting at the Water Aspect.  At this point in the spell, you were chanting and spreading glass dust around the room.

“What are you doing?”  Masaru frowns as he surveys the rearranged room.  All the bookshelves, chests of drawers, beds, and chests set away from the walls.  Arcane runes mark the walls.  You put a single finger to your lips as you continue chanting.

“Inspection tomorrow should be interesting.”  Masaru sighs.  He leaves the dorm room, locking the door behind him.

A few minutes later, Masaru returns with Aiko and Chiyoko.   They watch for a while and then Masaru and Chiyoko leave.  Aiko retrieves your copy of the Five Moons of Denial and read while you cast the spell.   Mei Mei lies beside her and rolls over, begging for a tummy rub.  Aiko smiles down at the dog and rubs her tummy.

Traitor.  You glare at the puppy, who happily ignores you for tummy rubs.

“Interesting…” Aiko comments as she reads though your book.  “Did you know a Lunar can sue someone for their form?”

You ignore Aiko.

“You missed a spot over in the corner.” Aiko points out.   You toss some glass dust on the annoying girl.  She shakes the dust out of her long red braid.   “I’m just trying to help.”

Aiko could help by shutting the fuck up.   Thankfully, Chiyoko and Masaru return with two napkin covered plates.  Your mouth waters at the smell of dinner.  You slept though lunch and missed dinner to cast this spell.   Mei Mei creeps over to where the plate sits on the nightstand.   Masaru pushes the plate further away and offers the puppy a piece of chicken.  You chant faster, wanting to finish the spell so you can eat.

“He should be finishing up, if he doesn’t fuck it up by rushing,” Aiko informs the others.  Everyone sits on the bed and waits.

Finally, you finish the spell.  You wipe your hands of the last of the glass dust.  You place both hands and your forehead against the wall and release the trapped essence of the runes.     The runes glow emerald as you redirect your anima into them.  Chiyoko gasps as the glass dust elevates into the air and refracts the glow of the runes around the room.   The runes extract the glass dust from the air and the runes vanish into the wall.

“Done.”  You announce.  You sit down on the bed cross-legged next to Chiyoko.  “As long as we keep the door closed, no one can overhear us.”   You pick up your plate and start eating.

“I told them already,” Aiko frowns at you.

“That was amazing!”  Chiyoko exclaims.  She turns to her cousin.  “Why don’t you know any cool spells like that?”

“I know plenty of cool spells.”   Aiko retorts.

Masaru tries not to seem impressed.  “At least we won’t have to sweep the floor.”

“I’ll move all the furniture back before I go to bed.”  You reassure Masaru.  “I don’t want to fail inspection tomorrow either.  Last thing we need is to give Chuzei Enki a reason to ban us from leaving the school grounds.”

Chiyoko exchanges looks with Masaru.  “He already did.”

“What?!”  The Chuzei was moving faster than you thought.

“You two were gone for an hour!”  Aiko asks.  “How much trouble could you get in?”

“There was an announcement at dinner.”  Masaru explains.   “Due to exams, no one is to leave school grounds.  Rest day has turned into study day.”

“Shit.  It’s my fault.  My meeting with the Chuzei didn’t go so well.” You admit.  “He was already talking about keeping us here. I figured I try to tell him about the mission and not give any details.”

“Svante!  You are an idiot!”  Chiyoko yells.

“He seemed so reasonable…” You try to explain.

Chiyoko smacks you with a pillow.  “Chuzei Enki is only reasonable so long as you go along with what he says!”

“Oh.”  You completely misread that situation.   You could see how Yeva, who is contrary by nature, would have issues with her father.

“My father used to serve under Enki Osamu,” Masaru adds in a quiet voice.  “He says that Enki is so stubborn, not even a Sun Anathema could change his mind.  Chuzei Enki has saved quite a few Wyld Hunts but he was an awful officer to serve under.”

“Why did you tell me!?”  You start pacing the room.

“We thought you already knew how stubborn the Chuzei is.  You went through basic training though with us.” Aiko says.

You run your hands though your hair.  You let the fact that Chuzei Enki was Yeva’s father color your perspective of the man.

“What is done is done.”  Chiyoko stands up in front of you and stops your pacing.  “We need to plan what to do next.”

You nod.  “There is something I need to tell you first.”  You look towards Aiko.  “Both of you.”  You hold Chiyoko’s hand.   You hesitate.  This is harder than you thought.   No wonder Chuzei Enki was relieved to pass the burden to you.  “Chiyoko, your grandmother is dying.”  You simply state.  You could not find the words to make what you had to say hurt less.  “She will be dead in less than two weeks.”

Chiyoko’s hand covers her mouth.  She turns away from you and looks out the window.

“What?”  Aiko whispers.   She stares up at you.   “Are you sure?”

“My sister is the Shogun’s physician.  I’m sure.”   You go to Chiyoko and put a hand on her shoulder.  “I’m sorry.”

“I didn’t realize she was sick.”  Masaru comments.

“Few people know.”  Aiko explains.

“Are you going to be okay?”   You ask Chiyoko.   Tears stream down her cheeks.   “Chiyoko?”

“I’m fine.”   She turns to you and wipes her cheeks.  “It’s just…  she’s always been there.   Grandmother taught me how to ride a horse.  She gave me my first sword.  She used to let me sit on her lap while she met with her War Council….”   Tears start to stream down her cheeks again.  You take Chiyoko into your arms.  “Someone once told me it was okay to cry.”

Chiyoko relaxes against your shoulder and sobs.   You hold her and look over your shoulder at Aiko.  The Earth Aspect girl stares back, eyes wide with fear but still dry.

Masaru sits on the bed and fidgets with his armor.   “What now?”

“We have to leave tonight.”  Aiko says.

“What?”  Masaru says.  “What about exams?”  You stare at Aiko as if she grew a second head.  Aiko never wants to skip school.

“Svante’s mission is more important than exams.   If we don’t leave tonight, Chuzei Enki will stop us from leaving at all.”

“But…”

Chiyoko moves away from you and wipes her tears away.  “Aiko’s right.  We need to leave tonight. “  Chiyoko meets Aiko’s eyes and gives her cousin a slight nod.   Chiyoko smiles at you and squeezes your hand.

“Just think, Masaru,”  Aiko says.  “If you get expelled, you can go to school with your pen pal.”

“If I get expelled, my mother will kill me first.”

“What pen pal?”  you ask.

“Masaru has a boyfriend!”  Aiko teases.

Masaru blushes.  “He’s not my boyfriend.  We just write letters and…”

“And send pictures to each other.”  Chiyoko adds.

“Manga!  We are drawing a manga!  Anyways, I’m not sure he feels the same way I feel about him.”

That explains why Masaru does not care you are with Chiyoko.  “You are writing a manga and didn’t tell me!”

“I’ll show you later, Svante.  We need to figure out what we are going to do about your mission.”

What do you do?

  • Leave tonight.
  • Leave the afternoon before rest day, as planned
  • Don’t leave. You don’t want your friends to get expelled.

((So you guys found a choice last post I didn’t consider.  Mostly because I knew things about the Chuzei that you and Svante didn’t.  😉  ))

113 – Mission Tactics

Chiyoko hugs Aiko.  “You have a new home here.  Remember?”  She whispers to her cousin.  Aiko relaxes and returns Chiyoko’s hug.  Chiyoko stares at you over Aiko’s shoulder.

You rub your brow.  Perhaps you should attempt to get along with your girlfriend’s cousin.  “You can’t do my homework for me,” you begin.  One way or another, Elder Kejak would catch you cheating.  “but we can study the book together.”  It seemed like a good compromise.  Studying with Aiko will increase the likelihood of finishing your reading assignment.  Aiko would badger you about reading the damn book if you slack off.  You would rather brave Aiko’s temper than Elder Kejak’s disappointment.  And you will stay in Chiyoko’s good graces… if she remembers.

Aiko turns back to you and nods.  “That’s fair.  When is the reading due?”

“Umm…  Yesterday?”  You admit.

Aiko rubs the bridge of her nose and sighs.  “We better start after dinner then.”

“And we better get back to class.”  Masaru points at the clock.

Chiyoko throws herself face first on your bed.  “I don’t want to go back to class.” She groans.  “I’m going to stay here with Svante and Mei Mei.”  The puppy wanders over and sniffs Chiyoko’s orange flame pigtails.

“But we have the review for our geometry midterm this afternoon.”  Aiko reminds her.

“Even more of a reason to skip class.  It’s not like I’m going to past that exam anyways.”  She mumbles into the bed.

That catches you by surprise.  While you never studied for a test in your life, you never failed a test before.  “You should go to class.” You tell Chiyoko.  She looks up at you and frowns.  “I won’t be here this afternoon.  I have to meet with Chuzei Enki in his office.”

Chiyoko groans and hides her head in her arms.

 

The hallways of the school are quiet.  All the students are in class.  Outside of Chuzei Enki’s office, you hesitate before knocking on his door.  The few times you have been to the Chuzei’s office, you have been in trouble.  You take a deep breath and knock three times on the door.

“Come in.” Chuzei Enki’s voice rumbles though the door.  You enter the office and stand at attention in front of the Chuzei’s desk.   The old Earth Aspect glances up from the scroll he is transcribing.  “I thought you’d be sleeping for a couple more hours.  Sit.”  He points at a chair with his brush.  “I’ll only be a few more moments here.”

For the first time, you take a seat in the Chuzei’s office.  The padded chair is much more comfortable than the chair you spend hours in in Elder Kejak’s study.  You take this chance to look around.   Shelves of scrolls and papers line one wall.  The ajar supply closet reveals padded armor, wooden training swords, and other equipment.

A familiar set of Orichalcum short swords hang on the wall behind the Chuzei’s desk.  While the Chuzei lectured on and on about discipline, you studied the intricate whorls of the carved blades.  Masaru has spent hours wondering about the story behind the swords.  Yet neither you nor Masaru have ever had the courage to ask the Chuzei about the swords.  Perhaps you can ask Yeva when you get back to Yu-Shan.

Chuzei Enki finishes with his scroll and sets it aside to dry.  He folds his hands on his desk and studies you for a moment.  “This is how our working relationship is going to function.  Normally, as the Sidereal assigned to this mission, you would be in charge.  But, due to your youth and inexperience, I am in charge of this operation.  Don’t pout, boy.”  The Chuzei snaps, noticing your disappointment.  “Your ego is the least of my concerns and it should be the least of yours too.  Do you understand?”

“Sir, yes, sir.”  You school your disappointment.

“Good.   Now, you may still be a boy, but as a Sidereal, you have a unique insight I lack.”  The old Earth Aspect pauses.  “Any information or counsel you can give would be greatly appreciated. “

“Yes, sir.”

The Chuzei  continues.  “I also don’t want you to take any unnecessary risks.  I promised your Sifu that you would not come to any harm.  In some ways, you are more important than Lung and the rest.”

“Sir?”  This seemed backwards.  Chiyoko was the granddaughter of the Shogun.   You would have thought she would be the more important.

The Chuzei smirks, reminding you of Yeva.  “You underestimate your importance, Svante.  I’m one of the few Dragonblooded that knows where Sidereals come from.  Creation cannot afford to wait another fifty years for you to be reborn.  Don’t be a hero!   If someone comes after you and the others, don’t fight!   Leave and get help.  Do you understand?”

“Yes, sir.”  You muttered.  You hope that you never have to leave Chiyoko behind.

“And don’t let your status go to your head.  Arrogance has killed more Exalts than any blade.”

“Yes, sir… I mean, no, sir.  I’ll be careful, sir.”

“Good.”   Chuzei Enki leans back in his chair.  “Your Sifu tells me you you study the same subjects as the first year students.”

“Yes, sir.”  The Owl grumbled about Yeva meddling with his lesson plans.

Chuzei nods in approval.  “You will be taking midterms along with the rest of the students.  The students should have ample reason to stay on campus during the next rest days.   It would be safer if the Lung circle doesn’t go anywhere.”

What?!  You promised Chiyoko she could go with you on the Potato god mission.  Chiyoko will never forgive you if you tell her she can’t go.

As you freak out, the Chuzei continues.  “I doubt anyone would attempt to kidnap a student, but stranger things have happened this year. “   The Chuzei frowns and looks down at his desk.  “It would be best if your circle doesn’t realize anything is amiss…  Is there a problem?”

Yes, there is a problem!   You hesitate about revealing your secondary mission to the Chuzei.  Then you realize there is something else on your mind.  “Chiyoko and Aiko should know that their grandmother is dying.”

Chuzei Enki strokes his chin as he considers your suggestion.  After a few moments of deliberation, he shrugs.  “Who am I to argue when a Chosen of Secrets decides to reveal information?   Do you want to tell the girls or shall I?”

What do you do?

  • You will tell Chiyoko and Aiko about their grandmother
  • Let Chuzei deliver the bad news to Chiyoko and Aiko
  • Let Chuzei deliver the bad news but you want to be there when he does
  • Other

Also, about your second mission….

  • Tell the Chuzei about your other mission
  • Don’t tell Chuzei about your other mission. Still plan on bringing Chiyoko and the others with you
  • Don’t tell Chuzei about your other mission. Tell the others the mission is off.  Go by yourself.
  • Send a message to the Owl and see if he can find someone else to take your mission.
  • Other

 

 

 

110 – Bathtime

“Is it you?”  Uncertainty gentles the old Chuzei’s craggy voice.  You don’t stay to hear your Sifu’s response.  With Mei Mei by your side, you head downstairs.   The sound of Mei Mei’s paws as she pads by your side echoes though the hallway.  The windows illuminate the dark hallways with violet light of the predawn sky.  You unlock the door to your dorm and sneak inside.   Masaru is still asleep.

Neat stacks of manga cover your bed.  You set your bag aside and clear the bed of the manga.  Mei Mei jumps onto the bed and curls up at the end.  You snuggle under the warm down comforter and close your eyes.  It’s almost been a day since you last slept, yet your mind will not turn off.  Your premature exaltation, the Elder’s vote, your missions, the Shogun’s death.  All these thoughts swarm your mind and keep you from sleep.

With a groan, you throw off the covers and search your bag for the leather bag that contains Mei Mei’s grooming kit.   While Mei Mei had a bath a few weeks ago, you have neglected to brush her as often as you should.  The shaggy puppy leaps down from your bed and sniffs at your bag while you dig.  Upon pulling the grooming kit out of your bag, Mei Mei backs away.  You catch the puppy by the back legs before she can make it under the bed.

“You need a bath.”  You whisper.  Mei Mei whines in protest.  “Shhh…  You’ll wake up Masaru.”

“Svante?”  Masaru rolls over and blinks at you.  He brushes his blue hair out of his eyes and sits up in bed.  “When did you get in?”

“Not too long ago.  Go back to sleep.”  You hold up the shaggy puppy.  “I am going to give Mei Mei a bath.”

Masaru checks the clock on his nightstand.  “I’ll come with you.  I need to be up in an hour anyways.”

The laundry room smells of soap and damp.  Large canvas bins sit empty along the wall.  On the opposite wall is a line of sinks.  You pass the struggling puppy to Masaru and start filling up a sink with warm water.   Mei Mei howls when she sees the water.  “Hush you.   You’ll wake the whole dorm.”  You hiss at the dog.

Masaru holds Mei Mei close to his chest as the puppy still struggles to get away.   “She does not like baths.”

“No.”  You stifle a yawn as you empty Mei Mei’s grooming kit on the floor and begin sorting through it.

Masaru rocks a whining Mei Mei, trying to calm her.  “I assume you didn’t come back to school just to wash your dog.”

“No.”   You check the temperature of the water and take your puppy from Masaru.   Mei Mei fights to get away and you end up dumping her unceremoniously into the sink.  Despite the warm water, Mei Mei shivers as you pour water over her fur.  “I’m going to be a student again.”

“You chose a bad time to come back.  We have exams this week and Chiyoko is pissed at you.”

“What?!”  When you saw your girlfriend a few days ago, she seemed fine.  You squirt shampoo all over Mei Mei’s back and hand the bottle to Masaru.  “Why is she mad?”

Masaru watches you scrub Mei Mei’s fur and then asks.  “Have you really gone on missions without us?”

“You don’t remember giving me a letter to give to your brother?”

Masaru frowns.  “No.”

Fucking Arcane Fate.   With your three missions, you didn’t need this right now.   You focus on scrubbing behind Mei Mei’s ears, keeping the suds from her eyes.  “I’ve gone on only one mission without you.”

“Oh, that’s not that many.  Aiko made it seem like you’ve gone on tons of missions without us.”

“Fucking Aiko.  I’ve only been on one mission so far and….”  Mei Mei struggles in your hands.  You tighten your grip on Mei Mei, but the soapy slick puppy wiggles out of your hands and dives out of the skin.  “Mei Mei!”

“I got her!”  Masaru tackles the dog, but Mei Mei slides out of his arms.   Her wet tail smacks the water aspect in the face.

Mei Mei bolts for the door, leaving a soapy trail in her wake.  You step in front of the door to block her escape, but she dodges you and retreats through the back door.

You help Masaru to his feet and follow the wet puppy prints out to the hallway.   You turn a corner and run smack into a Fire Aspected Chuzei.  The Chuzei flame red hair is severely pulled back, accenting her the sharp lines of her face.  Soapy bubbles cover her freshly pressed uniform pants.  She holds up a dripping Mei Mei by the scruff of her neck.  “Does this belong to either of you?”

What do you do?

  • Use Force Decision to chance the Chuzei’s mind about punishing you
  • Explain that you have permission from Chuzei Enki to wash the dog in the laundry
  • Avoidance Kata with Trouble Reduction Strategy to take yourself, Masaru, and Mei Mei away from the whole situation
  • Other

109 – Shoes

You freeze when Idir offers you the sandwich.   You’ve been caught!  You imagine standing before Idir’s Sifu, the stern Winona.   There was no sympathy nor warmth in her cold gaze.  You are sure she voted for you to die.   You stay silent and pray to the Maidens that Idir goes away.

Idir holds up the sandwich only for a few moments.  He frowns.   “No wonder everyone thinks I’m crazy.  Talking to empty air.”   He tosses the sandwich into his bag.   Idir gathers up his belongings and leaves the room, locking the door behind him.

You wait for as long as you dare before you leave the room.   You poke your head out and search the hallway.  No one is there.  You lock the door behind you. You step out of fate and hurry home.

Through the window, you see Akachi and the Owl talking at the kitchen table.  You head around to the back of the manse.   With practiced efficiently, you climb the jasmine trellis to your room.   A few blossoms fall to the ground as you leap to the window ledge.   You open the window and find Mei Mei waiting for you.   Your shaggy black and white puppy prances around your feet as you step into your room.   You pick up your wild haired dog and set her on the bed.   Mei Mei enthusiastically licks your face as you hush her.   You empty your pockets of the blacken talisman, red envelope, pattern spider, and stray quintessence pieces.

Fully clothed you lay on the bed.  Mei Mei climbs onto your chest and makes herself comfortable.  You doze until you hear footsteps on the stairs.   You shake Mei Mei off, hurry under the covers, and close your eyes.  Mei Mei curls up next to your feet.

The door creaks open as Akachi checks on you.   Mei Mei lifts her head and wags her tail as Akachi enters the room.   Akachi scratches the puppy behind her ears and mutters. “Better let him get as much sleep as he can.”   Akachi turns to leave.   Then he stops just before the door to look back.  “Unless he isn’t asleep at all.”   The overhead light turns on, blinding you.  You groan and sit up in bed.

“I’m going to kill Keeper.”  Akachi mumbles.  “Where have you been?  Creation to see Chiyoko?  No, your shoes are too clean.”  You follow your guardian’s gaze to your shoe uncovered by the blanket.  Belatedly, you cover the offending shoe.   “Where were you?”  Akachi asks again.

“I went to the meeting about the Shogun.  The one I should have been invited to in the first place.”  You narrow your eyes, daring Akachi to be angry with you.   Your stomach grumbles.

Akachi bursts out laughing, pissing you off more.  “This isn’t funny!” You cross your arms.

“Come downstairs and I’ll make you something to eat.”   Akachi says as a peace offering.

You settle at the kitchen table as Akachi makes you a sandwich.  “Did anyone notice you?”  he asks.

“Idir thought there was someone behind him, but I stayed quiet and he went away.  Was there a reason why I wasn’t included in the meeting?”   You ask.

Akachi sets the sandwich down in front of you and sits down.  “A few.  This business with the Shogun has the potential to be very messy, but you have made it quite clear you rather know what is going on than not.”   Akachi smiles ruefully.  “I wanted you to be included, but I was overruled.   If I had known you were going to sneak in anyways, I would have brought you along in spite of what the other elders decided.”

“Oh.”   You swallow the bite of your sandwich.  “You aren’t mad at me?”

“I’m annoyed you tried something risky.  If you got caught, you would not be the only one with a lot of explaining to do.”   Akachi grimaces and sits back in his chair.  You get the impression Akachi does not want to tangle with Winona any more than you do.  “And I’m a little curious how you managed to get past the wards.  Wards aren’t part of Keeper’s domain, but for a god, he does have rather diverse interests.”

You fidget with your sandwich.  “I promised not to tell.”

“Hmm…”  Akachi is displeased by this response.  “You don’t owe anyone any favors, do you?”

“No, she offered me her assistance freely.”

Akachi rubs the bridge of his nose.  “Svante, even free help usually has a cost. ”

“I know I know!”   You push your plate away.   “Elder Kejak gave you a mission.  Are you going to be leaving like everyone else?”

“Yes, but the mission Chejop gave me wasn’t for me.”   Akachi pulls the red envelop and slides it over to you.   “It was for you.”

You stare at the envelope before you pick it up.  This was your third mission today.   You slide open the envelope and read the mission statement.

 

To: Svante Visscher, Chosen of Secrets

From: Chejop Kejak, Chosen of Secrets

You are to attend school with Lung Chiyoko’s Circle and protect them from harm.

Mission Profile: Lung Chiyoko, Mayim Masaru, and Hui Aiko are potentially valuable hostages against their parents and are at risk of kidnapping.  Attend school with them and make sure they do not come to harm.  Earth Aspect Enki Osamu will be your contact during this mission.  

Note:  This mission does not excuse you from your Denial of the Five Moons reading assignment. Please take this time to catch up on your reading. 

 

“What does it stay?” Akachi asks.

“I’m going back to school with Chiyoko.”  You hand over the mission.   “What are we going to do with Mei Mei?”   Mei Mei’s tail wags when you mention her name.

“Bring her with you.”  Akachi hands back your mission.  “Yeva can talk to Chuzei Enki to make an exception for you.”

“I don’t think that is going to work.”  Chuzei Enki was never the type to make an exception.

Akachi smiles.  “It will be fine.  Go pack.”

 

You march up the stairs to your Sifu’s apartment with Mei Mei in your arms and your gear packed on your back.   Akachi knocks on the door and when Yeva answers, her eyes brighten with pleasure.  She waves both you and Akachi in.

Clothing, weapons, and armor are scattered around Yeva’s Spartan apartment.   Sleek lines and soothing earth tones dominate the apartment except for a brightly colored abstract wall hanging above her couch.   Yeva leads you to her freshly cleaned kitchen – the tang of cleaning chemicals hangs in the air- and offers you and Akachi some juice.

“Will you have time to bring Svante to school?  I still have some things to do before I head to Meru.”

“Of course, but I’m pretty sure Svante already knows the way.”  Yeva winks at you.  “He doesn’t need me to escort him.”

Akachi takes a breath.  “I need you to talk to Osamu about Mei Mei.  Svante will be attending the school as a student for a while and need to bring the dog with him.”

Yeva grimaces.  “I doubt he remembers me.”

“He remembers you.”  Akachi assures her.   “He even asks about you.”

Yeva smirks behind her cup.  “This is a chance of tune, Akachi.  You used to suggest I not bother him.”

Akachi crosses his arms.  “Yeva, you wished to pursue a relationship with your father.   You can’t back out when things grow difficult.”

You choke on your juice when you hear that Chuzei Enki was Yeva’s father.

“Why?  People do it all the time.” Yeva counters.

Akachi crosses his arms.  “If Elder Kejak’s plan falls though, there will be war.   Your father is not young anymore, Yeva.   This may be the last chance you have to make peace with him.  If you don’t you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.  And Sidereals live a very long time.”  Yeva collects everyone’s cups and washes them in the sink.   “Osamu may be more receptive to you than you think.”  Akachi adds.

Yeva says nothing as she dries the cups and puts them in the cupboard.   “I’ll escort Svante to school.”

“And talk to your father?”

“Only because you’ll never let me hear the end of it if I don’t.”   Yeva smirks as she leads Akachi to the door.  “Now go.  Summon Nimi or whatever you have to do.”

That catches your attention.  “Who’s Nimi?  Is Nimi a demon?”

Akachi groans.  “I was hoping for Svante not to find out about Nimi.”

“Nimishema is Akachi’s Neomah.”  Yeva explains.

“You have a Neomah!”  You are shocked.  Akachi threatened to ground you for the next thousand years if you were caught summoning a demon, especially a Neomah.

“I inherited a Neomah.”  Akachi corrects.   “Nimi has been bound to too many Sidereals to let her go free.  And I have strictly professional relationship with Nimi.”

“And as Akachi is one of Heaven’s Courtesans, strictly professional can mean a great many things.”   Yeva snickers.

“You are giving Svante the wrong idea!” Akachi protests as he leaves the apartment.

 

“What happened between you and your father?” You ask Yeva as you walk through the streets of Vanchow in predawn light.  Mei Mei trots beside you, darting to and fro, sniffing around.

“I don’t know.  What happened between you and your birth family?”  Yeva retorts.

You bite your tongue to keep from saying something disrespectful to your Sifu.

“Sometimes I think I am a bad Sifu.  That was out of line.”  Yeva apologizes.  “I rather not talk about Enki Osamu.”

You nod and change the subject.  “What can you tell me about Akachi’s demon?”

“Nimi?  Akachi inherited her after the Usurpation.   Don’t get any ideas about summoning your own.”

“Ew.”  You have enough trouble with Aiko’s smelly Blood Ape.

Yeva pauses just outside of the gates of the school.  “Despite the teasing I gave Akachi about Nimi, he really does keep her on a short leash.   I remember one time….”

“Is there a reason why we are standing out here in the cold?” you ask.   In less than an hour, the Chuzei will be waking up the students.   You have passed a sleepless night and want to take a nap before morning.

“No, I suppose not.”   Yeva leads you to Chuzei Enki’s room.  You pick up Mei Mei and hold her in your arms.  She takes a deep breath and knocks on the door.

The Chuzei opens the door.   Enki Osamu, wide-awake and already dressed for the day, is built like a boulder.  He is a squat and wide mass of muscle.   His granite grey skin is a shade lighter than his iron black hair, which is pulled back in the traditional Shogunate knot.   His granite grey face is clean-shaven and is etched with lines of lighter skin instead of wrinkles.

“The Maidens have need of your, Chuzei Enki.”  Yeva announces, flaring the mark of Mars on her forehead.

The Chuzei stands a bit straighter and steps aside to let you and Yeva in.

“Svante will be attending school as a student again.   His dog needs to stay with him.”

Chuzei inspect you and the puppy.  Mei Mei wags her tail and gives a hopeful bark.

“The other students already know about the dog, so I see no harm in allowing her to stay with the boy.”

“Thank you, Chuzei.” You say.

“Don’t thank me yet, Cnead.   I expect you to keep your dog in top shape.   She looks more like a mop than a puppy.   You can take care of her grooming needs in the laundry room.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Now take that mop of yours and head to Mayim’s room. “

“Yes, sir.”  You gather your bag.  Yeva also gets up to leave.

“If I may beg a moment of your time, ma’am,” Chuzei Enki says to Yeva.  “I was about to make some tea.”

Your Sifu begins to decline, so you say,  “She would love to stay for tea.”

“Was I talking to you, Cuckcoo?”  The Chuzei barks.

Why couldn’t you keep your mouth shut.  “Sir, No, sir!”

“Now run along.  You know your way to Mayim’s room.  After you sleep yourself out, come see me.”

You suppress a smile when you realize that Chuzei Enki just excused you from classes today.  “Yes, sir.  Thank you, sir.”

You leave Yeva with her father and hesitate after closing the door.

What do you do?

  • Head to bed and sleep
  • Step out of fate and listen in on the conversation
  • Go to the laundry room and give Mei Mei a bath.
  • Other

((Hero is a year old!   How time flies!))

((This was a long one, but we finally made it back to the school))