107 – Schemes

You despair as you consider your options.   Lying to your tutor never worked out well when you neglected to do your homework.  You doubt lying about an important secret meeting you had to attend would work any better.   Also the Owl would tell Akachi what you were up to anyways.

“Is there something wrong, Svante?” the Owl asks.   He sits down at the table besides you, giving you a piercing stare.

You sigh, put the tile back in its place, and close the case.  “I know about the meeting tonight.  The one about the Shogun,” you say in Skytongue.   Few gods in Yu-Shan speak any Creation language besides Earthtongue.

The Owl puffs his feathers out and replies in the same tongue.  “I see.”   His feathery brow contract as he thinks.   He reaches over and picks up the case.   “Follow me.”

You hesitate unsure what to do.  Was the Owl leading you away from the meeting or was he, you dare hope, going to help you?    “Come along, Svante.” The Owl orders.  “There is no much time before the meeting.”    You remember your tutor did not stop you when you first found out about your birth family and decide to trust the old bird.

You follow the Owl though the crowded streets of Yu-Shan and back to your old classroom.  With a touch, the Owl unlocks the door and ushers you into the abandoned classroom.   The desks have been neatly stacked against the wall and textbooks lay discarded on a floor.   The Owl leans against his teacher’s desk and asks, “How do you plan on getting past the wards?  The wards will sense anyone passing through outside of fate.  ”

You pull Ayesha’s talisman out of your pocket.   “This will let me through the wards.”

The Owl cocks his head and picks the talisman out of your hand.  He studies it for a moment and hands it back to you.   “The Talisman will let you though the wards, but the alarm wards will still go off.”

“I have a plan for that too.”   You scratch the back of your head.  “You aren’t going to tell Akachi?”

“No, why would I tell Akachi anything?”

“You work for him.”

“No, I occasionally do favors for Akachi and consider him a friend, but I do not work for him.  I am a god of the Division of Secrets.  I am currently unassigned to any Sidereal, though that may change when you are older.”

You consider the implications of the Owl’s statement.  “You mean you can work for me?  Like Shapau works for Akachi?”   Sidereals ran offices and had godly staff, even Sasha and Wanahton had that fat toad for a secretary.   You never considered who would be on your staff.

“Perhaps, if that is what you wish.  You still have quite a few years before you are ready for the responsibility of management.”  The Owl changes the subject.  “Tell me about your plan to get into the Shogun Meeting and we can see if it is sound.   I rather not lie to Akachi and the other elders if they catch you.  ”

 

You stand still as a stone by the meeting door, waiting for someone to come unlock it.   You squeeze Ayesha’s wooden talisman tightly in your hand, leaving an indention on your palm.   Footsteps approach from down the hallway.   Naoko, Akachi’s Chosen of Serenity crafting apprentice, walks beside another taller woman.   Naoko is a short, Eastern woman with straight dark hair braided down the left side of her chest.   The second woman has dark blond hair laced with grey.   She has laugh lines around her deep blue eyes.

“We must be the first ones here.”  The Elder Sidereal places a hand against the door and closes her eyes.  The mark of Venus flares against her forehead and arcane symbols flare on the outside walls of the room.   As her caste mark fades, she opens her eyes and smiles.   “There.  The room is empty.”  The elder unlocks the door and orders Naoko to stand guard.

Five Elders – one for each direction of Creation.    Elder Kejak was the Elder for the Blessed Isle – he will be the one running the meeting.  Akachi’s domain was the South.   This elder must be Meraud, the Elder for the East, where the second largest population of people lived.

You watch other Sidereals trickle into the meeting room.  You are searching for one Sidereal in particular.  It would just be your luck if he were late to the meeting.   Finally, Haytham arrives, escorted by Wanahton and Jaived.

“Is he drunk?” Naoko asks.   The stench of cheap booze gags you as you sneak up closer to Haytham.

“Maybe a little,” Haytham answers.  “Too drunk for work.   Got to send me home!” he slurs.  The Drunken Oracle turns to leave, but Wanahton catches him by the arm.

Naoko rolls her eyes.  “Get him inside and hid him in a corner somewhere.”

Jaived snorts.  “I told you it wouldn’t work, Haytham.   Not enough Sidereals for all the work we have.   Everyone has to do their part, drunks and all.  I’m surprised they haven’t put little Svante on a committee yet.”

“Wait!” Haytham pleads.  “The Usurpation!  It was wrong!   I love Solars and plan to devote my entire life to returning them to their rightful place as rulers of Creation!”  Haytham spreads his arm wide, barely avoiding Jaived’s nose.

“Sifu, then it is very important for you to attend this meeting about deciding who will rule Creation next.”  Wanahton grabs Haytham by the shoulder and leads him to the door.  You keep pace with the drunken Oracle and cross the wards at the same time.    The talisman burns in your hand and you feel a tingling as you pass though the wards.

Haytham is not so lucky.  The alarm wards chime as they go off.  He slams face first into the wards and flung to the ground.  “Maiden’s Titties!  Even the fucking wards don’t want me to attend this meeting.”  Haytham picks himself up and brushes his robes off.   “See you around!”  He gives a little wave.  “Let me know how this whole fiasco works out.”  Jaived and Wanahton grab the Oracle and drag him back to the door.

“Search him,” Naoko orders.

“Hey now!”  Haytham complains as Jaived pats him down and goes through his pockets.   “At least buy me drinks before you start man handling me!”  Jaived pulls out a small tin of white powder.

Wanahton groans and rubs his face.   “Why, Sifu?”

“That isn’t mine!”  Haytham protests.

“It was in your pocket.” Jaived points out.

“If I was going to smuggle Celestial Cocaine into a meeting, I wouldn’t hide it in my back pocket!”

You sneak away as the argument as the door attracts more attention.   You almost feel sorry for what you and Ayesha did to Haytham, but then he did use you as bait for the Bureau Mole.

The quarter-filled amphitheater holds about 150 people.   A large conference table sits in the center of the room.   Elder Kejak, who you did not notice enter the room earlier, pauses in sorting his meeting notes to frown at the commotion at the door.   Haytham, Wanahton, and Jaived enter the room and sit near the back.   You keep to the shadows of back wall and search for a place to hide.

Where do you hide?

  • Under the large table in the center. There is a lot of room under there.
  • Near Haytham, Wanahton, and Jaived. The Drunken Sidereal will be blamed for any commotion you make.
  • In an empty row in the back. Staying away from everyone is the safest option.
  • Other

((Updates this month will be sporadic.  Stupid Work and Social Life. ))

106 – Amends

“Tell me why you want to help me,” you demand.

Ayesha scowls.  “I’m offering to help you.  No string attached.”

“No,” you disagree. “You have to be getting something out of this. “  You ignore Sasha’s aghast expression and continue. “You don’t get to help me until you tell me why.”

“My, they do grow up fast,” Ayesha mutters.   “Sasha, if you’d excuse us?”

“I’m not going anywhere.”   Your sister leans back in her chair and crosses her arms.

Ayasha frowns and glances at you.  You fidget with your napkin.  “It’s okay, Sasha.  We won’t be long.”

Sasha grumbles, but relocates over to the other end of the café.  Your sister throws herself into a chair and puts her feet on the table.  She crosses her arms and stares daggers at the gold-clad woman.

“What do you remember of Rikali’s life?  Her family?”

“I remember enough.” You met Ika, Rikali’s drug-dealing daughter.  Did this have something to do with her?

Ayesha twists her mug on the table.  “Rikali and I didn’t part on good terms the last time I saw her.  I’ve always regretted my last words to my sister were filled with anger.”

“Your sister?”  None of Rikali’s memories included Ayesha.

“You don’t remember?”  She taps her fingers on the table.  “Lytek prunes our past incarnation’s memories.  He must have thought he was doing me a favor by removing her memories of me.”   Ayesha picks up her mug and takes a sip.  “Rikali and I were the first Sidereals to exalt after the Usurpation.  Chaos ruled Creation for those first few centuries, thus the Elders decided to raise young Sidereals in Yu-Shan.   We were among Akachi’s first experiments with raising Sidereals together….”

Ayesha’s words fade as a vague memory floats to the surface.   Exalts did not age until the end of their lives, but you remember younger and more carefree Ayesha.   She smirks at you, “Just because you are a Chosen of Secrets doesn’t mean you get to learn all of my secrets, sister of mine.”

You shake your head of the memory and focus on the Ayesha of the present.   She gives you a knowing look and says, “I’m not expecting you to treat me like family, Svante.  We barely know each other and you got family of your own. “   Ayesha glances up at the bored Sasha, waiting for you on the other end of the café.   “It’s just…  you are the closest thing I have to making amends with my big sister.   Please,” Ayesha begs, “Let me help you.”

 

In contrast to Elder Kejak’s library silent office, Akachi’s boisterous staff yelled insults, jokes, and groan inducing puns down the hallways at each other.   You sit in the break room and wait for Akachi to come back from his “last” meeting of the day.   At this late hour, neat stacks of dishes fill the shelves and the counters have been swept clean of crumbs and spills.  Itziar, the short round elderly goddess in charge of the mail, shoves red mission envelops into the wall of cubbies.   Deep wrinkles etch her face and wild wispy white hair refuses to lay flat.  Her long earlobes dangle down her chest as she grabs a stepstool to reach the cubbies out of her reach.

You wonder whom the Elders will assign to keep you away from the meeting.   While Ayesha can help you past the wards, it was up to you to lose your tail.  As far as you can tell no one trailed you and Sasha back to the Bureau of Destiny.

“Svante!”  Akachi’s secretary, Shapau, walks into the office, interrupting your thoughts.   The tall bone thin god’s peacock feathered headdress was missing, revealing his shiny baldhead.  Shapau only wore his headdress when he was out running errands.  Despite the immaculate appearance of his turquoise robes, the secretary seemed tired.  “What is this I hear about you putting a goat in Elder Kejak’s office?”

“I didn’t do it!” you deny.  “No one can prove anything!”

A grin creeps across Shapau’s face.  “Oh, you naughty boy!” the god tisks.  “You better not bring any dirty animals in here!”

You put your feet on the break room table.  “You better stay on my good side, Shapau.”

“Ah…”  Itziar chuckles.  “The kitten has grown some claws.   I’d be careful, Shapau.”

“Elder Akachi doesn’t pay you for your smart comments,” Shapau snaps.  Itzair rolls her eyes and sorts more red envelops into cubbies.

“When do I get a cubby?” you ask.

“Why do you need a cubby?” Shapau sounds scandalized by the very suggestion.  “Young you may be, Svante, but you are still a member of the Five Score Fellowship.   If Akachi assigns you a mission, it will be from his own hand.”

“Only us lowly gods get cubbies,” Itziar explains.

“Where do all these missions come from? The Maidens?” you ask.

“Pattern spiders.  Ever tangle they can’t fix means a new mission for the Bureau of Destiny.  We sort them and the delicate missions go to you Sidereals and the rest go to our gods assigned to posts in Creation.”   Shapau groans in frustration.  “Those lazy pattern spiders send us a mission addressed to you every once in a while.”

“What?”

“Oh don’t worry.”  Shapau waves a hand.  “You aren’t officially a member of the Bureau until your eighteenth birthday.  We forward those to Elder Kejak’s office.”

“Look at this.”  Itziar holds up a red envelop.   “We got another mission with your name on it right here.  What a coincidence…”  the goddess says sardonically.  A god working in the Bureau of Destiny is weary of coincidences.

You snatch the envelope away before Shapau can even reach his hand out.  You rip open the envelope and read.

To: Svante Visscher, Chosen of Secrets

 

From: Pattern Spider #0A6915

Mission Profile: The god of the Southeast Potato field of Wong Farm is neglecting his duties for unknown reasons.  Discover why before the Potato Harvest Festival. 

Estimated Probability of Solar Presence: Insignificant

Estimated Probability of Hidden Yozi Presence: Insignificant

Estimated Probability of Lunar Presence: Insignificant

Estimated Probability of Fair Folk Presence: Insignificant

“That’s it?”  You toss the disappointing mission on the table.

“What do you expect from a pattern spider?” Itzair grunts, as she picks up another pile of mail.

“The mission wasn’t meant for you.  One of the pattern spiders is glitching out.   Elder Kejak’s office is investigating. “  Shapau says.

Your pattern spider curls up into a tighter ball in your pocket.   You fold the mission envelop in half and tuck it in with your pattern spider.   “Don’t route any more missions for me to Elder Kejak office.   I’ll take care of them.”

“What?” Shapau says.  “What do you mean by ‘you’ll take care of them?’”

“Now you’ve done it!” another staffer yells from across the hall.  “We are going to be doing twice the work!”

“We aren’t qualified for Secrets work!” another voice wails from further down.

“The boy’s gotten only three missions over the past few months.  We’ll be fine.”  Itzair yells.  She digs though the cabinets and pulls out a box of wooden nameplates.   “I’ll assign you a cubby.”

“A cubby!”  Shapau sputters.  “He’s a Sidereal! What will the other thinks when they find out he has a cubby!  None of the gods will respect him!”

“It will be good experience for him, having to get his own mail!”   Itzair counters as she carves your name into the soft wood.

“This is unprecedented!” Shapau complains.

“I’m not running all over Creation to track down a Thirteen year old boy.”  The long eared goddess blows the shavings into the trash bin.   She slides your nameplate into an empty slot on one of the smaller cubbies.

“At least give him one of the larger ones!”  Shapau insists.

Itzair frowns as if she is about to argue.   Instead, she sighs and assigns you one of the larger cubbies.  “The mail gets delivered twice a day.”  The goddess smirks as she pushes her empty mail cart away.

Shapau frets about your cubby.  “What if you are in Creation and get assigned a mission?   This whole situation needs to go to committee for discussion!”

You drop your head to the table.  A committee discussion about whether you should have a cubby or not was asinine!

“What needs to go to committee?”  You look up to find the Owl standing at the doorway of the breakroom.  Your tutor holds a fine-grained mahogany case under his arm.

“Svante insists on handling his own mail!  He has no experience, no office, and no staff.  Only a cubby!”  Shapau points at the offending cubby.

“I’m not going to get experience if I don’t get to do anything!” you yell.

“Savante, Shapau, calm down.”   The Owl orders.   “If Svante is unavailable, then I can check his mail.”

“Oh, would you?  My staff’s already overworked with all the… “  The secretary pauses.  “Well you know.”  Shapau must be talking about the secret meeting tonight.

“Yes Yes,”  The Owl waves him off.

“Wonderful!”  Shapau, satisfied your missions are not his problem anymore, leaves the breakroom.

“Svante?”  The Owl sides the mahogany case across the table towards you.  “Do you remember what is in this case?”

Despite never having seen this case before in your life, it seems familiar.  Memories of laughter, wine, and piles of Ambrosia flitter though your mind.  You finger the silver latches before opening it.   “These are your Ma Daio tiles.”  You click the case open and reveal the worn carved and painted tiles.

“Akachi mentioned he was working late tonight so I decided it was time to teach you how to play Ma Daio.  We have suffered far too long with that fat toad on our fourth corner. “  The Owl says, referring to Sasha and Wanahton’s lazy secretary.

You pick up a face tile and run your finger over the worn carvings.  You have many evenings hidden on the staircase and listened in on Akachi’s Ma Daio game.   Yeva, your sifu was often a player along with the Owl, Sasha, Jaived – another chosen of Endings- and few others.    The elder’s plan was as smooth as the game tile in your hand.   You expected them to assign someone to tail you, but instead they simply have your tutor offer to teach you a game you long desired to learn.

What do you do?

  • Tell the Owl the truth. You are going to sneak into the meeting.
  • Lie to the Owl. Tell him you had plans to visit you friend in Vanchow.
  • Play along with the Owl and then sneak away

85 – Baggage

Your hands shake as find out everything you can about your mother and father.  Your Mother’s name is Kaja.  She is a healer.   Your father’s name is Anders.  He owns a boat called the Fire Dragon.   You also discover you have two other siblings, besides Linnea, the sister you have already seen.   A brother, three years older than you, named Bendt and a five year old half-sister, named Elise.

Half-sister?  Unhappily, your mother is no longer with your father and is married to someone else.   The threads of your parents are further apart than you realize.  What you thought was a village was a connection of relationships between individuals.  Though you didn’t realize that they existed until only moments ago but now you are sadden by the fact your family is no longer together.

A group of gods walk by carrying boxes of prayer scrolls.   They nod respectfully at you as they pass.  You force yourself away from the threads of your family.  You could be here all day looking at your family’s history, but you don’t want to be caught by your parent’s threads.   Later you can ask your pattern spider questions.   Now you head deeper into the Loom, needing time to process what you found before someone finds you.

Your time as a mortal living among the gods of Yu-Shan was difficult.   For most of your life you have pestered Nanny about who your parents were, hoping to gleam some clue as to why you were raised in Yu-Shan instead of Creation.  She often told you many stories about them and they all ended with your parents dying heroically.   Even at the time, you doubted any of them where true.  After you Exaltation, you asked Akachi about where you came from, but you only got the usual “You’ll find out when you are ready.”  There was such a look of intense sadness your guardian’s face, you assumed that they were dead.  You now know it wasn’t sadness you were seeing, but guilt!

You begin to doubt everything and everyone. While Akachi did not technically lie to you, he certainly did misled you.  Who else was in on this conspiracy to keep you in the dark?   The Owl?  Yeva? Elder Kejak?  Sasha?  You just assumed that she was telling the truth about being raised with you.  Was Sasha even your real sister?  You are beginning to understand why Elder Kejak told you to seek your own answers instead of asking questions.

You ask another pattern spider to take you to when you and Sasha first met.  Following the spider though the maze of stairs and walkways, the spider leads part of the Loom connected to Yu-Shan.   Unlike Creation, Yu-Shan looked like what you imagine a loom to be.   Each thread is laid out alternating rows of shining perfection.   The bright godly threads illuminate the walkway.  You are relieved when the spider leads you back to the inactive part of the loom.  The past.  It illuminates two threads – amethyst and emerald.  A sapphire and white thread are dimly glowing nearby.   You assume the emerald thread is yours, so you touch the amethyst thread first.   Nothing.  The thread is lifeless under your hands.   Curious, you try the sapphire thread and get the same non-reaction.   Touching the emerald thread, you are swept up into a memory long forgotten, but the Loom of Fate remembers.

You are warm and sleepy.   You lick the sweet taste of milk from your lips and shift in your blanket.   You hear voices above you.  At first the sounds are meaningless, but you once you realize that you are no longer an infant, the voices began to have meaning.

“He’s adorable.  Such red hair!”  You hear Nanny exclaim.   You feel the gentle thud of her heartbeat as you lay against her warm chest.

“That he is.  I had to pry him from Yeva’s arms when she brought him into my office. “  Akachi’s deep voice answers.   “Is Sasha up yet?”

“No.”  Nanny lays you down in a basket.  “I’ll start on breakfast.  That should rouse her out of bed.”   The goddess disappears from sight and a dark hand holding a small bright blue stuffed Yeddim appears in her place.  The Yeddim dances around in front of your face.    You reach for it with your hands and the Yeddim tickles you.  You giggle and kick the Yeddim away with your feet.

“At least this one is a smiler.”  Akachi’s face appears smiling down at you.   “Naoko cried for two days straight when she first got here.”

“Who?”   Nanny clatters some pans around in the kitchen.

“Never mind. “  Akachi places the Yeddim next to you and moves out of sight.   “Look who’s awake!”

“Akachi!  Are we going on another trip?”  You hear a girl’s voice ask.

“Not today, Sasha.   I’m just dropping off your little brother.”

“Little brother?”   A small nine year old girl with dark sleep-muddle hair appears, warily looking into your basket.   You have never seen Sasha with brown eyes before.   “Where did he come from?”

“From the North.”  Akachi does not explain more than that.   “Would you like to hold him?”

Sasha bites her lip as she considers Akachi’s question.   She is not sure about this new little brother. Then she smiles and nods.  With careful hands, Akachi picks you up.   You fuss a little as Akachi shows Sasha how to hold you…

“There you are, Svante.”  Elder Kejak interrupts you.   “What are you looking at there?”

“Um…”

When you don’t answer, Elder Kejak touches Nanny’s glowing white thread.  “You are trying to reclaim your lost memories of Sasha?”

You weren’t even aware you could do that, but you nod anyways.   “Why I can’t access Sasha’s thread?”

“We can’t access each other threads.  A professional courtesy the Maidens have given us.”  With a look of warning, Elder Kejak gently taps once against your thread.   You suck in air as you feel the equivalent of the Elder tapping on your shoulder.  “We also know who touches our threads.  Sometimes we use this to summon each other to the Loom in emergencies.”

“Oh, no.”   You touched Akachi’s thread.  You summoned him here!

Elder Kejak continues, unaware of your distress. “Fortunately, it was Sasha’s thread you touched.  She will be pleased to find out you have access to the Loom.  She has been badgering Akachi since your Exaltation for you to be allowed here.  Sasha has her hands full with the Shogun at the Chrysanthemum Manse, so we have time to get a message to her….”

“I touched Akachi’s thread, too!”  You interrupted panicked.

Elder Kejak rubs his forehead and mumbles.  “And I convince Keeper not to tell Akachi for a few days.”  In a more normal tone of voice, he asks, “How long ago did you summon him?”

“About five or ten minutes.   I didn’t know!  You didn’t tell me!”  Akachi is the last person you want to see right now.

“It will be fine, Svante.  I’ll take care of it.”

“But…”

“I said I will take care of it!”   Elder Kejak snaps, leaving no room for argument.  “Follow me.”  He tucks his arms in his robe sleeves and briskly walks away from the Yu-Shan section of the Loom.  You meekly follow behind the Elder Sidereal.   After a minute or two of walking, Elder Kejak, in a calmer tone, says “It wasn’t your fault, Svante.  I should have warned you not to touch any of the other Sidereals’ threads.”

When you say nothing, Elder Kejak continues.  “Don’t worry about Akachi.   He will be annoyed at me, not you.  Just say silent and let me do the talking.”

That wasn’t what you were worried about.  You were worried about breaking down screaming at Akachi for deceiving you.  You are sure Akachi thought he had good intentions, but he took you from your family!  You bottle your anger because you couldn’t let anyone know what you knew.   Not yet.  You were planning on seeing your parents and no one was going to stop you.

You turn a corner and find Akachi waiting for you by the doors of the Loom of Fate.   The Owl is standing next to him looking uneasy.

“Svante, are you okay?”   A very worried Akachi looks you over.   Not trusting your voice, you nod.   Akachi turns to Elder Kejak.  “What did you show him?”

“The School, the Wyld Edges of Creation, and Yu-Shan.”  Elder Kejak calmly says.

“Nothing else?”

“I did not show him anything else.”  The Elder does not mention you running off on your own.   You hope the Owl doesn’t either.

“We will discuss this later,” Akachi promises Elder Kejak.  The Elder Joybringer motions to you to leave.

Undeterred, Elder Kejak continues, “Svante is stronger than you realize.  His first visit to the Loom better than most adults’.”

Akachi growls, “I said we will discuss this later, Chejop.”

The Owl puts his hand on your shoulder, “Svante, let’s go.”

“I’m not done with my lesson yet, Keeper.”  Elder Kejak states.   “You still need to pick up your book.  Come back to my office, Svante.  ”   You follow Elder Kejak back to his office with Akachi and the Owl trailing behind.  When back at his office, Elder Kejak offers you the Five Moons of Denial.  In retaliation, you hold up Pretty Dragon Princess Meru.

With Akachi and the Owl watching, you and the Elder Oracle reluctantly exchange the unwanted reading material.   You slide the heavy book into your bag, feeling like you got the worst end of the deal.   Elder Kejak grimaces as he slips the manga into a drawer.

“I’ll take Svante home, Akachi.  I’m sure you and Chejop have much to discuss.”   Akachi considers the Owl’s offer for a moment and nods.   You follow the Owl out of Elder Kejak’s office and onto the streets of Yu Shan.

“What did you see while you were wandering around alone, Svante?”  The Owl asks.   When you don’t answer, the Owl sighs. “You don’t have to tell me what you saw, if you don’t want to.  I can probably guess.  I didn’t want to keep secrets from you, but that was among the price I had to pay to be a part of your life.”

A little of your rage slips out.  “Do you think I fucking care what price you had to pay?”  You squeeze your fist and rebottle up your anger.  You didn’t want the Owl to try to stop you from going North.

“Svante…” The Owl’s feathers droop.  “Whatever you do, don’t bring your bag with you. “

“Just leave me alone.”  You sprint the rest of the way back to Akachi’s Manse, quickly outdistancing the Owl.  Mei Mei greets you happily at the door.  You snatch the puppy up and stomp up to your room.  You slam the door.  You toss your bag to the floor and throw yourself on to the bed.  Mei Mei tries to cheer you up by licking your face.  You rub the puppy’s fur as you consider your next step.

Where are you going to go next?

  • Directly to see your family. There is no time to waste!
  • Go to the Chrysanthemum Manse and find Sasha. If she was raised by Nanny, then she was kidnapped too!
  • Get Wanahton’s help. He knows Creation better than anyone and he knows the fastest way to get anywhere.
  • Go to Vanchow and talk to Chiyoko. You were already planning on sneaking out to see her tonight.  It will give you a good cover for your trip North.
  • Talk to the Owl. Maybe you were harder on the old bird than you needed to be.
  • Other

What are you going to do with the bag?

  • Bring the bag with you.
  • Leave the bag in your room.
  • Drop the Bag off with someone.
  • Dispose of the Bag.
  • Other

(( Two questions!  Wanted to see if Svante has any unfinished business in Yu-Shan/Blessed Isle before heading North.  ))

((I could have made this post SO much longer.  Fucking Loom and its access to almost EVERYTHING!))

84 – Alive

“I want to know the truth.   The truth about Lunars.   Not whatever is printed in the Five Moons of Denial.”  You know based on attending classes with your friends that Dragonblooded aren’t told the whole truth.   If Dragonblooded are given that book to read, then it won’t tell you what you want to know.  “Are they monsters?”

Elder Kejak rustles around in his desk drawer and pulls out a small book with a black leather cover.    “This is the Five Moons of Denial that the Dragonblooded are given to read. “  You catch the book as the Elder Sidereal slides across the desk.   Flipping to the end, this version of the Five Moons of Denial was no more than two hundred pages long.   “Svante, with me, you will get nothing but the pure, undiluted truth.”  Elder Kejak pats the larger copy of the Five Moons of Denial.  “The book we will read is the unabridged version.  Written by a Lunar before the Usurpation.”

“A Lunar wrote it?”

“Yes, though we don’t tell the Dragonblooded this.   Who better to teach you about the Lunar mind than a Lunar?”  You hand back the abridged copy of the Five Moons of Denial.  “Though, Lunars are a much different animal today than they were while dominated by their Solar Masters.   The Desert Fox, the Lunar you interacted with during your mission, is rather young – she has lived less than a mortal’s lifespan.   Up until she disappeared eight years ago, Uma participated in raids on Shogunate military installations in the South.    Her disappearance was worrying, but it isn’t the first time a Lunar vanished.  We assumed she was killed by one of the hazards of the Wyld.”

“But she is still alive. “

“Thanks to you, we know that she is alive.   Sasha mentioned that you said she had a child.   About seven years old?”

You nod.   Elder Kejak continues. “Parenthood has a habit of rearranging one’s priorities.   She must have left her Lunar masters and hid in the Western Isles to raise her child.”

“So Lunars are not monsters?”

Elder Kejak leans back.  “They are as human as any other Exalt.”

You are still confused.  “So, why do we hunt them?”

In answer, Elder Kejak gets up from his chair and heads towards the door of his office.  He motions to you to follow.

“Where are we going?”  You ask suspiciously.   Of course Elder Kejak stops just when you are getting the answers you are looking for.

“To the Loom of Fate.”

“Really?!”  You didn’t really expect to get access to the Loom.   You figured you start there and bargain down.

The Elder Sidereal smiles, his emerald eyes shining.   “That is what you are really asking for, Svante, isn’t it?”

 

Compared to the other shining, towering buildings in Yu-Shan, the Loom of Fate is squat and windowless building, barely two stories tall.  One of the Celestial Lions out front growls as you approach, but does nothing more as Elder Kejak escorts you though the front door.   Despite the lack of windows on the building, the light of Unconquered Sun shines down through the tall multicolored windowpanes of the long and airy room.  Rows of desks march though the Atrium towards a large set of double doors at the end of the room.   Bureau of Destiny gods are dispersed around the desks, preparing to enter the Loom.   As they sort through boxes of prayer scrolls, they whisper quietly to their companions and watch you and Elder Kejak pass.

Elder Kejak places a hand on your shoulder and guides you though the crowds of loitering gods.  “The Loom of Fate can be startling.  It’s a perfectly natural reaction when you see the Loom for the first time.  Some Sidereals even flee.”

“Did you flee?” you ask, curious.

“No, but I was much older than you are now.   There is no shame if you run.  If you do, then we can go back in when you are ready.”

“I’m not going to run.”  You assure the Elder.   You didn’t have any memories of the Loom of Fate from Rikali, but people go in and out of the Loom every day.   It can’t be that scary.  At the end of the Atrium, you and Elder Kejak stand before a towering set of starmetal double doors adorned with carvings of the Five Maidens of Destiny.   Clothed in flowing robes, their arms are spread in welcome.   Jupiter, in particular, stares down at you from on high.   Looking into your Patron carved metals eyes, you have a sense of being watched and judged.

Elder Kejak doesn’t seem to be bothered by the door’s carvings.  “Ready?”

You don’t answer as your earlier bravo deserts you.  Your mouth feels dry and your heart pounds.   The Loom of Fate.  You’ve heard so many stories of it.   Sasha would mention visiting the Loom as the highlight of her day.  Wanahton, who used to take walks in Creation to clear his head after a long day, once given access to the Loom, would take walks there instead.  Were you ready for the Loom?

“Yes.   I’m ready.”  You take a step forward to stand beside the other Sidereal.

With both hands, Elder Kejak pushes open the doors.    A chilly breeze, filled with anticipation and potential, caresses your face.  You can see nothing but darkness inside.   “Go on.  I’m right behind you.”  The elder smiles down at you reassuringly and you take your first tentative steps into the Loom of Fate.

The freezing air burns your sinuses as you enter the Loom.   It is winter in Creation and the Loom’s temperature must change with the seasons.   Shivering, you cross your arms and continue on.    You walk into the dark room, not really seeing much.   The doors behind you slam, leaving you in darkness. You turn around in a panic.    Elder Kejak’s voice emerges like a beacon in the night.  “I’m still here, Svante.”

Comforted, you close your eyes to help them adjust.   When you open them, you notice the room isn’t dark at all.  A faint glow radiates from the cobwebs arrayed around the Loom.   You take a few more steps forward and see small pattern spiders crawl up thin strands of glowing thread.  A larger topaz pattern spider walks over them on some unknown errand.

This didn’t seem too bad.  What was everyone talking about?   You take a step back and look around, trying to get your bearings.   Your eyes grow wide, when you realize just how large the Loom of Fate actually is.   Miles and miles of walkways and stairs wind though the well-ordered threads of Fate.    In the distance, you see a few gods amble along the walkway, so far away they are the size of ants.

There was so much to take in.   You no longer feel the cold, your eyes darting from one section of the loom to the next.  Time loses all meaning as you stand there, staring at the Loom of Fate.  Finally, you say.  “It’s…. Beautiful.”   Beautiful… Beautiful was such an inadequate word for what the Loom of Fate was.   Yet it was the only word you had.  Tears fill your eyes, though you are not sure if it from emotion or simply not blinking.  You look up at Elder Kejak with shining eyes.  He smiles down at you, pleased, and says “Stay close.  It is easy to get lost.  If we do get separated, you can ask a pattern spider for assistance.”

You follow Elder Kejak through the twisting walkways and stairs.    You are quickly disoriented and, without Elder Kejak as a guide, you know you will not be able to find your way back.   “How do you know where you are going?”

“Instinct, mostly.  It takes Sidereals a few years to figure out where they are going without the help of a pattern spider.   Here we are!”  The Elder gently brushes a few delicate strands.  You take a step closer and see that the strands are not all white, as you assumed but glow with a faint colored light.    “This is the school your friends attend.    I believe they have just finished up class for the day and are heading for dinner. “   Elder Kejak steps aside and indicates where.   “It is usually difficult to pick out individuals but important Exalts will sometimes stand out.”   You begin to reach out with your hand to touch the Loom.  “Gentle now!” Elder Kejak cautions.  “You don’t want to get multiple impressions at once.”

You hesitate and observe the loom before choosing a strand glowing with a white-orange light.   You smile when you realize who it is.   Chiyoko.

Masaru is talking to her about something, but Chiyoko is ignoring him and staring off in the distance.  Aiko attracts her attention and asks about tonight’s sword practice.   As you listen in on their conversation, you consider sneaking out tonight and visiting Chiyoko.

“Svante?”  Elder Kejak’s voice interrupts you.    “Did you find Lung Chiyoko’s strand?”

You remove your hand from the Loom and shyly smile at the elder.

The Elder Sidereal returns your smile.  “Strands of those we care about are the easiest for us to find.  Though it is considered impolite to eavesdrop.  Come along this way.”  Elder Kejak leads you to the darker edges of the loom.   “Creation is an island surrounded by a sea of Wyld energy.  It is only the goings-on of Creation’s various inhabitants that keeps the chaos at bay. “

Elder Kejak points out all of the different types of Pattern Spiders as they go about their duties.  “Secrets.” Emerald Pattern Spiders spin the delicate newborn threads of Fate.  “Journeys.” Topez spiders weave the threads into the loom, making sure not a single one was out of place.   “Battles.”  Glistening ruby spiders dart from strand to strand, the threads vibrating in their wake.   “Serenity.”  Soothing sapphire spiders follow behind, calming threads disturbed by the Ruby Spiders. “Endings.”  Amethyst spiders, their fangs larger than the rest of the spiders, patrol the Loom for frayed threads..

“But,” you notice something that confuses you.  “Why is Secrets laying the new strands, not Serenity?”

“Venus and Mars presides over sex and rape, but it is Jupiter is the spinner of the threads of life.”  Elder Kejak lectures.  “All desire starts as a secrets in one’s heart.  Only when that secret is revealed, then the possibility of a new life can begin.  ”   Kejak pauses in his explanation to ask. “Does talking about these subjects bother you, Svante?”

“What? No.”   Anything having to do with the Loom of Fate was fascinating.

“Good.  I told Akachi that you were not as delicate as he believes.   Hiding the tragedies of Creation from you does not make them cease to exist.   If we are to fulfil our purpose to the Maidens, we must confront the reality of a situation, no matter how terrible.”    You and Elder Kejak move on.

You walk for a long while along the walkways towards the darker, less populated part of the loom.  “This part of the loom represents the very edge of Creation, where the Wyld wears away at our reality like waters on the sands of the beach.”    You and Elder Kejak pause before a vibrating section Loom.  You watch in horror as the whisper fine cobwebs fray and snap. The pattern spiders vainly try to repair the section but suddenly begin to flee to calmer sections of the loom.   Before your eyes, the vibrating section disintegrates into chaos.

“Those people died!”  People died right before your eyes and there was nothing you could do.  You have never felt so helpless.

“Yes.”  Elder Kejak agrees.  “Living on the edges of Creation is dangerous.    I suspect something from the Wyld came to attack them.”

“Is someone going to investigate?”  There had to be something, someone could do.

“It’s too late for them, Svante.  Those people knew the risks of living outside the protection of the Shogunate Legions.   We can’t save everyone.  We need to focus our efforts and resources on those we can save.”    Elder Kejak walks away from the damaged section.   You watch as Amethyst Pattern Spiders come to clean up the shredded edges.  Elder Kejak calls your name and you hurry to catch up.

“Look closely around you, Svante.  See how delicate the threads of fate are?   If we do not take care, the entire Loom could collapse into chaos.  Creation literally survives on a thread.  “   Having seen the section of the Loom fall, you have a better understanding of what the elder Sidereal is talking about.

“You ask why we hunt the Lunars.    Akachi did not lie when he said that Lunars would like to see everything we have built since the Usurpation torn down.   We offered to the Lunars a seat at the table after the Usurpation, but they turned it down.   It is the Shogunate Dragonblooded that stands between the people of Creation and the chaos of the Fair Folk hordes.   It is our job as Sidereals to stand by their side and support them as they protect Creation.  If Lunars cannot stand with us, then their actions are a danger to the Loom and to Creation.  “

“So I was wrong to let the Desert Fox go.”   You realize miserably.  If only you have seen the Loom sooner.  Then you would have understood what was at stake!

“It will not be long before she returns to her Lunar Masters.  I wouldn’t worry, Svante.   Just because we are Celestial Exalts does not mean we do not make mistakes.   The Desert Fox cannot outrun the Wyld Hunt forever.”   Elder Kejak looks around the Loom, considering what to show you next.  “Now, if we head this way…”

“Svante?” The Keeper of the Locks turns a corner and walks over.     “What are you doing here?”  The Loom was a vast and confusing place.  How did the Owl know how to find you?  You remember the whispering gods from the Atrium.  “Elder Kejak, Good evening.    Does Elder Akachi know that you are showing Svante the Loom of Fate?”

“Good Evening, Keeper.   Jupiter has assigned me to teach Svante whatever I feel is necessary.” Elder Kejak says without a hint of apology.  There is an edge to the Elder Sidereal’s tone that puts you on guard.  You unconsciously take a step back.

The Owl ruffles his feathers, but continues.  “I do not believe a trip to the Loom of Fate was on the lesson plan you showed me…”

“I showed you that lesson plan as a courtesy…”   You groan in frustration.  The adults were going to argue about you like you weren’t even there.   You decide to explore the Loom for a bit.   If the Owl knows you were in the Loom of Fate, he is sure to tell Akachi.  Who knows when Akachi will allow you to come back?  You sneak away until you are out of sight of the adults and get a pattern spider’s attention.   There is something in particular you want to find out.

“I want to know about my parents.”  You ask a Pattern Spider of Endings.   You aren’t sure if this is how the Loom works, but it is how your personal pattern spider works.   “I want to know how they….”  You pause, not wanting to say ‘how they died’.   You swallow the lump in your throat and continue. “I want to know their fate.”   The Loom was capable of going into the past, you know this much.

The Spider twitches, acknowledging your command and crawls over the various parts of the loom.    Instead of going to the less active past, it leads you away from the edges of Creation to a small dim section of the loom where very few people live.  A small village, you assume.  You will have to ask Elder Kejak about it later.  The Spider reaches out with its jeweled leg and illuminates two strands at opposite ends of the glowing village.   Its mission complete, the Pattern Spider wanders back the way it came.

You step up, confused and brush your fingers against one of the glowing strands.

Blood.  The first thing you notice is the scent of blood.  You are looking down at a sweating man.   His pant leg is torn open and bloody, his leg bone breaking through his skin.  You hear a soothing voice.   The healer, whom this strand belongs to, is trying to calm the man.

“We need to set this leg and get you sewn up.”   A cup appears before you filled with a bitter smelling, clear liquid.  A young woman, no more than eighteen years old, is offering the cup.   She has long ash blond hair bound up in a loose braid.  Her eyes drawn your attention.   Her eyes were amber, like a flickering candle.   Was she descended from the blood of the dragons?

The healer takes the cup from the young woman and looks back at her patient, hindering you from searching for more aspect markings on the other woman.  “Drink this and you won’t feel a thing.”  The healer helps her patient sip from the cup.   When the patient empties the cup, the healer sets the cup aside and places her hand on his forehead.  “Rest.  Let us work. You’ll be up on two feet in no time.”

You move your hand away from the strand, confused.   Why did the spider show you this?   You move further down the strand, closer to the present.   The man is sleeping now, his leg bandaged and set.   The young woman is nowhere to be seen.   The healer stands at a basin, washing blood off of her hands.    She is through – even using a little brush to scrub underneath her nails.   When she is finishes, she cups clean water in her hands and rinses the sweat off of her face.  Looking up in the mirror above the basin, you can clearly see what the healer looks like.  She is a middle-aged woman with ash blond hair.   Her eyes….

You retreat from the strand, shocked at what you see.   You quickly move to the second glowing strand.   In front of you is a ship being unloaded of fish.   A deep and strong voice is negotiating a price for his ship’s haul with an older woman.  But you don’t care about that.  You want to see what this man looks like.   Why doesn’t he look into the water or something so you can see his reflection?  Then you realize that you are being an idiot.  You move your hand over to the thread of the old woman he is talking to.   The ship’s captain stands with his arms crossed, towering over the woman as he argues fish prices.   His hair is fire red….just like yours.

You move back where you found the healer’s strand.   You touch the strand of the young woman.   The healer dries her face and starts to give instructions for dinner.    You watch her light brown eyes as she speaks to the younger woman.  Light brown eyes, just like yours before your Exaltation.

Your parents… They are alive!

What do you do?

  • Confront Elder Kejak and the Owl about this revelation
  • Confront Akachi about the fact he never told you that your family is still alive
  • Tell no one what you saw.
  • Other

 

56 – Presents

You head upstairs to your room to open Haythem’s present.   It takes you about a half an hour to put it through every test you can think of.   Nothing seems to be dangerous about it.  Afterwards, you stare at the package as it lays on your bed.   You pick it up and feel around inside.  It doesn’t feel like drugs.   Some sort of books.  Manga? You unfold the top of the bag and dump the contents on your bed.

“Whoa…”  Your bed is now covered glossy magazines with beautiful women on their covers.   You open one of the magazines and see that while the women on the cover are scantily clad, the ones inside are completely naked.   You flip through it, wondering why people would pay money for something that you can see on the streets of Yu-Shan.  A few Celestial deities eschew clothing while they go about their business, so nudity is nothing new to you.   You check the cover of the magazine again.  Ah, it was published in Creation.  You toss it aside and pick one another one.  Now this one shows the women inside doing some rather…interesting things.   Looking over the centerfold, you never realized…

“Svante!”  Akachi calls from down stairs.  “What are you doing up there?  You are going to miss your own party!”

“I’ll be right down.”  You quickly gather up all the porn and shove it back in the bag.   You slide it under your bed, knowing you’ll have to find a better place to hide it later.   Looking in the mirror, you adjust your chicken hat and smooth out your robes.    With your foot, you nudge the bag of porn further under the bed before leaving your room and heading down stairs.

“Happy Birthday, Svante!”   With Akachi by your side, you reluctantly enter the crowd of people as they give you hugs, pinched your cheeks, and rubbed your hair.  You might have grown a lot since your Exaltation, but people still treated you as a child.   Somewhere along the way, you lost your chicken hat.   Eventually, you made your way through the crowd towards the end of the room where the food is.

“Your hat?”   Akachi holds out your chicken hat.   Gratefully, you put it back on your head to hide your now messy hair.   You turn around and look back on the crowd.

The ballroom of Akachi’s Manse is brimming with people.  The majority of the Five Score Fellowship is there along with some other gods you know from the Bureau of Destiny.    Mingling among them are gods from other Bureaus who have no idea who you were, but showed up because it was a party.   Chiyoko complained about not knowing half the people at her Exaltation Party.   You didn’t mind, because it gave you plenty of opportunities to eavesdrop.

But first food.  You fill your plate from the buffet and sit down at a table with Akachi, Sasha, Wanahton, and Yeva.   Keeper of the Locks, your tutor, comes up to you.  “Happy Birthday, Svante.”  The Owl hands you a small slim box.

“Thank you.”  You are on better terms with the Owl since you returned the stolen copy of the White Treatise.  You open the box and inside you find a small Starmetal knife.   You recognize it.  “This belonged to Rikali.”

“Yes.  She left it behind before she left on Wyld Hunt.”

“I often wondered what happened to it after she died.”  Akachi remarks.  You carefully pull the knife out of the box and examine it.  It was not a large knife, barely larger than your hand.   The more you handled the knife, the more you grew accustomed to it.  The knife felt more familiar to you than your jade sword which you have been working with for months.  It seemed to be made just for you.

“A good boot knife.”  Wanahton comments.

“Rikali didn’t really wear boots or shoes at all if she could get away with it.  ”  The Owl shrugs.   “She usually had it strapped to her shin.”

You replace the knife in the box and run your fingers over the abstract etchings on the blade.  “Thank you, Owl.”   The Owl, pleased that you appreciated his gift, bows formally and heads off into the crowd.

A large crowd of Sidereals are gathered around one table arguing about something.   You finish your red bean sweet roll and wander over.

“I can’t believe you broke it just before we have to give it to him.”  Naoko, one of Akachi’s Crafting students, is scolding Jaived, a Chosen of Endings.

“We were just testing it out!”

“Testing it out!  You were playing… Oh, Hello, Svante!  Happy birthday!”   Naoko hides something behind your back.

“Sifu Yeva said that you have a really awesome birthday present for me.”   If it is something Akachi is unhappy about, it has to be cool.

Naoko’s blue eyes sparkle and with a flourish, she pulls the cloth off of a large and asymmetrical shape.   Underneath the cloth is a large sculpture of four of the five elemental dragons.   There is a gap where the water dragon should be.

“Um…  It’s nice.”   It was a pretty sculpture, but not really what you were expecting.

Naoko hands you a jade rod.   “Concentrate on one of the Dragons.”  She commands.

You focus on the Fire Dragon and the statue starts to slither around.  “Oh, wow!”  With your mind, the dragon raises up into the air and flies around the ballroom.

“Impressive.”  Akachi says.   “You managed to get it to levitate and respond to mental commands.  Nice work.“   Akachi picks up one of the rods and the Air dragon joins the Fire in the air.   “Not as bad as I feared.”  Akachi mumbles to himself.

“They are supposed to fight,” Jaived explains.  He picks up a third rod and the wood dragon ascends.   You, Akachi, and Jaived spar in the air above the ballroom.

“Press the button when another dragon is in front of yours,” Naoko whispers in your ear.   When Jaived’s dragon is within range, you press the button.   Fire comes out your dragon’s mouth, burning the Wood dragon out of the air.

Akachi looks at Naoko in horror.  “They breathe fire.”

“The air dragon breathes frost,” one Sidereal corrects.

“The wood dragon would have breathed poison, but Naoko couldn’t contain the poison cloud.”  Another Sidereal adds.

“They don’t seem to last very long.”  You see the broken water dragon in Naoko’s hand.

“Don’t worry.  The Dragons regenerate, so you can play with them the next day.”  Naoko says.  She replaced the broken Water dragon on the Sculpture.

“They breathe fire!”  Akachi rubs his hand over his face.

“This is awesome!”   You weave the dragon though the large chandelier hanging from the ceiling.

About an hour into the party, Elder Kejak enters the room carrying a wrapped box with a loose top.  He adjusts the top before he comes up to you.  “Happy Birthday, Svante.”   The box whines a bit before Elder Kejak could set it down.

“Chejop, what’s in the box?”  Elder Akachi asks suspiciously.

“Svante’s Birthday Present.  You said I just couldn’t give him money, so I picked something up in Meru.”  The box shakes a bit as Elder Kejak puts it on the table in front of you.  “Go on, Svante.  Open it.”

You never get a chance to open it, because as soon as the box touches the table, your present tips over the box.

“A Puppy!”  You reach out for the fuzzy black and white puppy.  The puppy licks you face with great enthusiasm and knocks your chicken hat off.  “Hey!  Stop it!  I need my face in one piece.”  You laugh.

“Oh no!” Sasha exclaims.  “That’s one of Ling Ling puppies!”

“Who’s Ling Ling?” Wanahton asks.

“Evil incarnate.” Sasha shutters.

“A puppy, Chejop?  Is this because of the vote in the council meeting yesterday?”  Akachi asks.

“Of course not.” Elder Kejak say unconvincingly.  “Every boy needs a dog.”

“There are more appropriate breeds for a boy than a Shih-Tzu.”

“So keep her hair short.”  Elder Kejak helpfully adds, “I choose a female so it wouldn’t urinate all over the walls of your manse.”

“Oh, yeah.  Just all over the floors.”

You start paying attention to the conversation around you.  “You mean, we can’t keep her, Akachi?”   Elder Kejak grins when you ask this question.

Akachi sighs and rubs the dog behind her ears.  “One day, you’ll be too old to get away with the puppy dog eyes.”

“You talking about the dog or the boy?”  Wanahton asks.

The puppy licks his hand and Akachi smiles.  “Both.”

“What are you going to name her, Svante?”  Sasha asks.

What’s the puppy’s name?

  • Fuzzy
  • Puppy
  • Other

((Ah…Fuck it, I’m too lazy to come up with dog names today.   So, an open ended question!  I’ll distract you with a picture of the puppy instead!  ))

[spoiler][img] http://i.ytimg.com/vi/kQlWBocNt-A/maxresdefault.jpg[/img][/spoiler]

(( Good job, WarDragon for figuring out that Haythem gave Svante porn! ))

((I get to cross off “Have Chejop Kejak give someone a puppy for revenge” off of my Exalted Bucket List now.  😀  ))

52 – The Scroll of the Gleaming Cage

You didn’t want to get Masaru and the other involved in this mess, but fate seems to keep dragging them into it.   With the god standing outside the window, you can’t ask what Masaru and the others are planning.  You are going to have to trust them.  You crawl over and sit down just underneath the window sill.

“You wanted to talk?  So talk.”  You deepen your voice to sound tough.

“A very old scroll was given into the care of your previous incarnation.  I would like to know what you remember of it.”  The god switches to Spirit Speech.

Fucking Scroll.   “Trailing Sorrows asked me the same question.  Why should I help you?”  You reply back in the same language.  Masaru looks at you in confusion.

“Trailing Sorrows was… impatient…   I was going to see if I could sit down and talk to you.“  The god sighs.  “Your guardian, however, is rather overprotective of you.   If you weren’t with him or Keeper, you were with another Sidereal or in Creation.”  There is a pause as you hear the god adjust his robes.   “Boy, you do not realize how controlled your life is.”

You think back and realize that what the god has said was true.   When you weren’t in class with the Owl, you were shadowing Akachi in the Bureau of Destiny.  If he had business in Creation, Sasha was there to watch over you.   Until recently, you never realized how little free time you had.  You were forced to read the White Treatise after you went to bed.

Masaru mouths, “Whatever he is saying, don’t listen.  Just keep him talking.”

Now was not the time to think about this.  You nod at Masaru and ask.  “What did you poison us with?”   Ika was still unconscious, but the room had stopped spinning for you.

“Ah… but if I tell you, you’ll go find the antidote yourself.   What do you remember about the Scroll?  Tell me where to find it and I will give you the antidote and we will go our separate ways.”
You knew exactly who Rikali gave the scroll to.   A lot could happen in fifty years, so you didn’t know if Ayesha Ura still had it.  What was in the scroll?   Maybe if you gave the god a little information, you can find out more.

“I remember the Owl giving me… Rikali the scroll.   I haven’t remember much after that yet.   If you tell me more about the scroll maybe it would trigger more memories.”

“The scroll is an old one.  It dates back to the War for Creation.   It was drafted by a Twilight whose name is now lost to history.  Does any of this job your memory, boy?”

You bang your head against the wall in frustration.  All the facts that the Bureau Mole gave you about the scroll were completely useless.   Elder Kejak was right.  Why does no one answer questions?  A Twilight who no one remembered their name?   Except that you do remember her name….

“Gale of Ten Thousand Winds?“  the Owl repeated.   You were back in the library, the locked glass cases surrounding the long table that you and the god sat.   “How did you hear that name?”

You smiled.  “I am a Chosen of Secrets.  It’s my job to hear things.”  Months of lunches and just dropping by to say hello have led to this first step.  When you mentioned the name, you worried that the Owl will figure out your ulterior motive for befriending him.   “Do you know of her?”

“I remember her back from the Primordial War.   She…  Gale did not adjust to the aftermath well.  “

“A Primordial War Veteran?”  Ayesha told you nothing of the Solar except her name.

“Yes.”  Owl descended into his school teacher voice.  “She was quite the hero and was given domain over one of the River Providences.   Eventually, she went into seclusion, focused on her work.  Gale was obsessed with building weapons.   It was her greatest fear that the Primoridals that escaped Creation would return.   So she built terrible weapons to counter that threat, but she never got to use them.”

Weapons?  “What happened to her?”

“She was killed at the Calibration Banquet along with the rest of the Solars.”

“But she was in seclusion….”

“Ah…  Gale’s Lunar Mate made sure that Gale attended the Banquet.  I don’t know how Graupel got Gale to agree to go.  The Twilight hadn’t been publicly seen in decades.   Now Gale’s shard and the dangerous knowledge it contains are safely locked away.”

You couldn’t resist such an opening.  “Out of all the gods you would know best.”  You needed to lead the conversation back to the Primordial War, when Gale designed the Gleaming Cages for God of Exaltation.

The Owl’s eyes narrowed and his feathers ruffled.   “Unlike what certain other deities may think, the Solar Shards are not in my domain.   I did not steal anything from Lytek.   “

“You are not a thief. “ you quickly concurred.  While most of the Gold Faction gods quickly figured out that the Keeper of Locks’ domain did not hold the Solar Shards, Lytek still badgered the Owl about it.   “Have you eaten yet?”

“Have I been elevated from Lunch to Dinner now?”  the Owl asked.

You laughed.  “I didn’t realize the evening meal had higher status than the midday one.  The Ramen shop has a new flavor I wanted to try.   While I was there, I could pick you up some dinner too.”

“Ah.  I see.”  Was that disappointment in the old Owl’s eyes?

“Svante?”

“What?”   You pull yourself back into the present.   The Scroll of the Gleaming Cage.   What was in that scroll that Trailing Sorrows and the Bureau Mole wanted?

“What do you remember, boy?”  The Bureau Mole asks.

What do you do?

  • Tell the God that Ayesha Ura had the scroll last and call off Masaru’s plan.   Then he can go back to the rest of Trailing Sorrows’ associates and harass Ayesha instead of you.
  • Tell him nothing.   He is no better than Trailing Sorrows.   He’s a murder and a bully.
  • Lie.  Tell him that Rikali threw the scroll into the sea or that Haythem has the scroll.   Send the Bureau Mole on a wild goose chase, should he escape Masaru’s plan.
  • Other.

((OOC:  I was truly divided on whether Svante should get poisoned too.   It made sense from the Bureau Mole’s point of view, since Svante was just standing there at the window.   It seems to limit your options and I hate doing that.  😉  ))

35 – Thief

As a child destiny to exalt as a Sidereal, you never were in want of anything.  All your needs were funded by the Bureau of Destiny and you were able to buy any toy you wanted with prudent saving of your allowance.   So when you walked into your tutoring session with the Owl a few days after returning to Yu-Shan, you were surprised when your teacher ruffled his feathers and declared, “You are a thief.”

You realize that he is talking about the book you took from the restricted section of the library.   How did he know about the White Treatise? You decide to play dumb, as slide into your chair.   “What?”

The Owl slams the text book down on his desk.  “Svante, you cannot lie to me.  I know a thief when I see one.  You have stolen something from my domain.“

Oh, shit!  Apparently identifying thieves is among the Owl’s abilities.   “Technically, it wasn’t me…” you start.

“There is no technically about it!  You are a thief!”  The Owl screeched.   You stare at the Owl in silence, unsure what to say.  When you don’t respond to Owl’s accusation, he starts setting out the books and papers needed for today’s class.

“Are you going to tell Akachi?” you ask quietly.   Tomorrow is when you are going to the Martial Arts Tournament with your Dragon blooded friends.   If you piss Akachi off, he might not let you go.

“Not yet.   This is your first offense, so I am going to give you a chance to redeem yourself and return what you stole. But…”  The Owl extends to his full height and stares you down.  You are reminded that even though the Keeper of the Locks is a short and dumpy god, the Owl is a Predatory bird.  “I do not tolerate thieves among my students.   Do you understand?”

You squirm uncomfortable in your chair.  “Yes.”

“Good.”  In a brisk tone, the Owl starts class.  “Now open your book to page 159. Today we shall discuss the various islands of the West.  “

Later that afternoon, you are in Akachi’s workshop, watching the elder run a polishing stone along a Red Jade Sword.  The surface of the sword was mirrored and had Chrysanthemum blossoms etched into the blade.

“How much longer until the sword is finished?” you ask.  Akachi has been working on it since you returned and frankly you didn’t see much difference in the blade with each of Akachi’s swipes.

“The polishing process usually takes weeks.”

“Weeks?!”  You would lose your mind if you had to rub a stone along a piece of metal for weeks.  You do not understand how Akachi had the patience for such tedious work.

Akachi chuckles.  “Don’t worry.  I’ve been working on this project while you were at the Military school.  We are just about done.“   He sets the polishing stone aside and gives the sword a wipe with a cloth.  “What do you think?”   He hands you the blade.

You take the sword and practice a few of the Katas Chiyoko showed you.   The adult sized sword is awkward into your hand.   You are surprised, you don’t remember the headmaster’s sword being this unwieldy.   You hand the sword back to Akachi.   “It doesn’t feel right.  The Headmaster’s sword was a lot more comfortable to use.”

“The headmaster’s sword was thirsty for revenge against its owner’s murder.  Though the Lunar attuned to the sword, the sword had not yet transferred its loyalty to her.  “  Akachi starts to oil the sword.  “Remember, attunement does not always mean ownership.  It takes time for the relationship between exalt and artifact to build. An especially long time if you killed the former owner of the artifact.”

You are silent as you absorb this information.  “What happened to the sword?”  You had not seen it since the cave.

“The headmaster has a daughter in the Western Fleet.   We sent the sword to her.”   He smiles at you.   “After I have delivered the sword to Elder Kejak, why don’t we head to Creation and get something to eat.   Your pick.”

Though Akachi has repeatedly assured you that your time in the military school was not a punishment, you still do not believe him.   When you asked Yeva, she said “Do you think the other students are there for punishment?  No!  Every Dragonblood goes though Military School.   You are a Celestial Exalt, you should be able to handle everything that school threw at you and asked for more.”

You sigh at the unfairness of life when a servant enters the workshop and says “Elder Akachi, Elder Kejak is here to see you.”

“Tell him that I will drop the sword off at his office when I am finished.”  Akachi is annoyed.

“I was in the neighborhood and decided to save you a trip.”  Kejak enters the workshop.

Akachi grunts as if he did not believe Elder Kejak and continues to oil the sword.

“The Essence output for the Cry of the Blazing Pheasant Manse is at sixty-three percent.”

Akachi pauses. “Maidens, a fourth of the Southern direction gets power from that Manse.  Did you send Posala to check it out?”

“She is already there for a few hours, but isn’t making much progress.” Elder Kejak leans against one of the workbenches.   “As I took care of the water treatment plant a few days ago, I do believe that it is your turn to try to decipher the mysteries of Twilight Magitech.”

Akachi gives the Sword a final wipe and then places it in an ornate velvet lined box.  “What am I going to do about Svante?’

Elder Kejak continues.  “You had no trouble leaving Svante alone before.  No Lunar has set foot in Yu-Shan in over seven centuries.  Are you really going to leave millions of people without power to ease your anxiety?  “

“No,” Akachi closes the latches on the box.   “I can bring him with me.”  You are surprised.  Akachi never brings you with him when he goes on repair trips.  You have always wondered why.

“And leave the ladies of the South bereft of your company?“  You giggle when you realize what Elder Kejak is talking about.  That explains why Akachi always leaves you at home.

“If I have to.”  Akachi faces Elder Kejak and crosses his arms.  “Though I assume you have a suggestion.”

“I can take Svante with me when I go to Creation and drop him off at the school.  Tomorrow he can leave with Chiyoko and the others to the Tournament.  “

Akachi shakes his head. “I just got him out of that school and you want to send him back?”

Kejak turns to you.  “What do you want to do, Svante?   What would make you most happy?”

What would you like to do?

  • Go with Akachi to the power plant. You have never seen inside of one before!
  • Have Elder Kejak drop you off at the school. The more time you spend with the Dragon blooded Circle the more they remember you
  • Stay home. With Akachi always looking over your should, you haven’t had a chance to try to cast a sorcery spell.  If Aiko can do it, you can do it!
  • Other

((OOC:   I didn’t my post chapter cleanup of the archive site and added the Chapter three character.  I also added page for Svante’s character sheet.     ))