144 – Secrets Shared

“I’m not going to let anything happen to Masaru or the others.  Actually, my current mission is to protect them.”  You leave out the part about preventing kidnapping.  Masaru and Aiko were only kidnapped for a few moments.  That should not count against you.

“What about future missions?”  Reva asks.  “As a Sidereal, you are often sent into the most dangerous missions.  Danger Masaru will encounter at your side.”

You grow frustrated talking about events which haven’t happened yet.   “Why do you care so much?  Masaru says you haven’t seen him in a while?”

“Are you questioning my love for my son?”

“No.”  you reply.  “Masaru is my friend and I have seen him more over the past year than you have.”  Reva’s eyes narrow and you quickly change to a safer subject.   “I don’t want to lose my friends.  If you know anything about Sidereals you know I don’t have many.”  How can you reassure Masaru’s mother he is safe with you?  “If it makes you feel any better, I promise I won’t let anything happen to Masaru when he is with me.”

Reva closes her eyes.  When she reopens them, you are surprise how… mortal her grey blue eyes look.   “You shouldn’t make promises you can’t hope to keep, Svante.”  She whispers.

You stare down at the crumbs on your plate, unsure what else you can say to convince Reva you mean Masaru and the other no harm.   What did those other Sidereals do to Admiral Mayim’s circle?  The Western Admirals seemed wary of Sidereals, but he did not question you like this.

“Lady Reva, do you plan on interrogating every officer Masaru serves under?”  the Secretary asks.  “It will not reflect well on his career as a Shogunate officer if his mother shadows his every move.”  Elder Kejak picks up his tea cup.  “Nor will Masaru thank you for your interference.”

Lady Reva takes a deep breath and regains her composure.  “You are right.  I shouldn’t be interrogating your nephew about things we have no control over.  It’s just Masaru is my youngest.”

“I understand completely.  Svante is not much older than Masaru.”  The Secretary smiles behind his teacup.  “The other Sidereals would coddle him if my brother allowed it.”  He sets his teacup aside and adds.  “Masaru will be safer with Svante, who is his friend, than some general who is willing to sacrifice his young officers for his own glory.”

Reva considers Elder Kejak’s words and nods.   She gives you a weak smile.  “Do you read Metal Gods, Svante?  Of course you do.  You were able to name Cora Nadia as the pilot of Blood in the Breeze.”  She gathers her robes and rises from the table.  “Follow me.  I have a surprise for you.”

“I am not sure this is a good idea….”  Elder Kejak objects, but follows you and Reva out of the dining room.

“Nonsense.  I have showed Masaru and the rest of my sons and nothing untoward has ever happened to it.”  She leans close to you and whispers, “You must only look, but not touch.”

“What are you talking about?”  you ask.  “Where are we going?”

“Shh….  We are almost there.”  She leads you to heavy red jade door.  She nods to the two guards and presses her hand against the panel.  The locks on the door clicks and she pushes the heavy doors open.  You walk into a well-stocked armory.  The aroma of leather and metal assault your nose.  Rows and rows of metal swords, spears, and shields hang from their racks.  Jade diaklaives in a rainbow of colors grace while jade walls.

“I am one of the few who have access to this room.”  Reva pauses before a small door, easily overlooked amidst the weaponry in the room.   “The Shogun showed it to me when I was around your age.”

You wish she would say what it was.   You follow Reva into the room.  The lights brighten as you approach a glass case in the center of the empty room.  In the case, sits a single copy of Metal Gods.

“This is one of the last copies penned by the original illustrator.  He never signed his work, so his name is lost to history.  I searched for information about the illustrator, but found nothing.  Not even what Gent he was born into.  All that remains of the man is this manga.”

What this manga really one of Akachi’s?  You glance towards Elder Kejak who frowns but makes no indication of one way or another.  You take a step closer and study the manga.

It was a work of art.  The Anathema, in all of his sunlight horror, crouches before five jade Warstriders.   He wears nothing but leather armor and wields with nothing but his bare hands, yet he is ready to take on the whole circle of Dragonblooded pilots.  Ornate etchings cover each Warstrider.  Everywhere you look, you notice more details.  The lake the warstriders stand in reflects the mountains and night sky.  Every star was in its correct position.  It must have taken hours to draw this one cover.

“Do you like it, Svante?”  Reva asks as you admire the manga.   You tear your eyes away from the manga and smile at her.  She smiles back and you realize your answer is very important to her.  This is her way of apologizing for her interrogation at dinner.

“It’s wonderful.”  You admire the manga again.  “Has anyone read it?”  You want to know how won the battle alluded to on the front cover.  Obviously, the Dragonblooded won, but the Solar must have some trick to explain his confidence.

“No.”  Reva holds her hand over the glass case just short of touching it.  “It seems a shame, but this manga has belonged to Gent Lung for generations.   It is rumored to have belonged the first Lung Shogun.”  She sighs and puts her hand down.  “Very few of the living Lungs read manga.   To them this is simply a family heirloom.”

“It’s getting late, Svante.”  Elder Kejak reminds you.  “We have a big day tomorrow.”

Reluctantly, you leave Reva and the manga behind and follow Elder Kejak back to his room.  A cot and sleeping bag sit in front of the door.  After thoroughly searching both, you and Elder Kejak bring them into the room.  Mei Mei leaps onto the bed, but a stern look from the Elder Sidereal causes her to jump back off.

“Akachi doesn’t know about the manga.”  You guess as you set up your cot and sleeping bag.

“No,”  Elder Kejak replies.  He has his Astrology desk spread out on the table and sorts though his prayer scrolls.  “Akachi has made peace with Arcane Fate’s effect on his work.   I decided it was best not to open up old wounds and give him false hope.”

You had so many questions but you didn’t want to second guess the older Sidereal.  “Why did Reva believe you were threatening Yi?”

“Yi is not the son of Admiral Mayim, but of Yeh Sujay.  Reva and Sujay have been lovers before Mayim Takeshi appeared.   As a young woman, Reva pleaded with her mother to allow her to marry Sujay.”  Elder Kejak shakes his head in remembrance.  “Yeh Sujay’s father was mortal and Indrani will not sully her own bloodlines with mortal blood. “  He returns to his prayer scrolls.  “It is ironic that Yi is Indrani’s favorite grandson.  Neither Yi nor his brothers know and you will not tell them.  ”

You sit down on your cot and watch the Elder Sidereal work.  “I thought we were supporting Akane.  Why did you tell Reva you were supporting Chiyoko’s father instead?  Are you going to betray Akane or Chiyoko’s father?  What about the other Sidereal’s missions? And why did you say all those things in front of Ling Ling?  If I was a Lunar, the dog would be first on my list.”

“The missions I handled out will support either candidate no matter which becomes Shogun.”  Kejak answers as he muses over a prayer scrolls.  “I would not worry about Ling Ling.   Indrani would notice the moment she laid eyes on the imposter.  Much like you would know if Mei Mei was replaced.”

“Wait.  Were you planning on supporting Chiyoko’s father all along?”   Elder Kejak says nothing.  “Did you lie to the entire Five Score Fellowship?”

Elder Kejak continues to write as if you did not accuse him of lying.  He finishes his corrections and sets down his brush.   “I did not lie to the others.  Of the options I was offered, I choose Akane.   I could not put Guanyu’s name forward.   The other Elders will not consider a Shogun younger than a century.  I would have been voted down and clue the other elders in on my plan.”

“So you lied to Akachi and the others.”

“I did not lie.   When I approached Reva and she suggested Guanyu, I had no choice but to accept her offer.  We cannot put any Dragonblooded on the throne without the support of the rest of the court.  “

“But Reva didn’t convince you of anything!  You were already planning to support Guanyu before you even talked to Reva.   You made Reva give you those concessions for your support even though you were already planning on giving it!”

“I always find it best to walk into negotiations with the other side prepared to argue for you.  Ever since Kimiko died, I have been preparing the way for Guanyu to take this manse.   Every argument Reva gave against all of the other candidates are ones I thought of myself.   Reva says I dislike Guanyu because he will be no one’s puppet.  Frankly, that is the main reason why I chose him.  We need a strong willed Dragonblooded as Shogun.   Someone who will not sway to the opinion of other Dragonblooded.”

“Other Dragonblooded, but not you.”

“Svante, I have been doing this for a very long time.   The Dragonblooded are infants compared to me.   When I move a piece on the board, I need the piece to stay on the course I set, not be swayed by other hands.   Remember this later, when you are older.”

“This is all a game to you.”  You accuse the elder Sidereal.

Elder Kejak holds your stare with emerald eyes a mirror of your own.  “Do not take my metaphor for anything more than a metaphor.   The fate of Creation is not a game, Svante.  I am deadly serious about every action I take.  And you should do the same.  Do you understand?“

You swallow and nod.

“Good.”  Elder Kejak looks down at his feet and removes his sandals.

“What are you doing?”

“I always find I attract less attention walking outside of fate in my bare feet.”   The Elder Sidereal wiggles his toes once free of the sandals.  “Of all the changes in fashion, I wish walking around barefoot would come back into style.   Perhaps it is something I could talk to Meraud about after things settle.”   He grabs his staff from the corner of the room.  “I’ll be back in the morning.  You have some investigations of your own to do.  I look forward to your report at breakfast.”  After Elder Kejak leaves the room, Mei Mei leaps onto the bed and makes herself comfortable.

What do you do?

  • Visit Chiyoko
  • Search Kejak’s Room
  • Explore the Manse
  • Other

((I don’t want you to be so paranoid about Lunars, you can’t scheme.  ))



140 – Ling Ling

“No!”  You crouch down low and wide.   Wanahton taught you never to show fear to an animal.  Not that this Shih Tzu is a fearsome beast.   When the dog ignores your orders and goes for your ankle, you grab him by the scruff of his neck and pin him to the tile floor.  “Calm the fuck down.” You order, adopting the Untamed Face.

The dog does not struggle in your grip, but you feel a deep growl though your fingers.  “What are you doing in my territory?” the dog snarls.

“Your mistress invited me.”

“Svante!”  Elder Kejak’s voice draws your attention away from the dog to the rest of the room.   Chiyoko covers her giggles with her mouth.  Aiko whispers in her ear and winks at you.   Masaru and his brother stare at you, mouths agape in shock.

“Svante.”  Elder Kejak warns.  You sigh and let the dog up.  The Shih Tzu growls and is about to attack again when you hear a voice cry down the hallway.  “Ling Ling!”  The dog cocks his head and goes running down the hallway.

The secretary pats you on the back.  “I know you like to play rough with dogs, but I’m sure Yi will not appreciate his clothes he loaned being dirtied before dinner. “

Yi perks up at the mention of his name.  “It’s no bother.  I haven’t fit in those clothes in years.”

Mei Mei whines and you pick her up.   So that was Ling Ling.  Sasha said he was evil incarnate.  You look down at your puppy.  Mei Mei was one of his puppies.

Ling Ling appears, carried by a shriveled version of the woman in the tapestry.  Dressed in rich flowing silk robes, the decades have shrunken Raijin Indrani.  Yet her eyes flash with blue white light.

“Lady Indrani,”  Chiyoko bows her head.  “My cousin and I thank you for inviting us to dinner.”   Silent as a stone, Aiko stands just behind Chiyoko.  Her fingernails bit into her wrist.

“Gracious as always, Lady Chiyoko,” Indrani’s voice is warm with approval.  She reaches out and gives Chiyoko’s hand a squeeze.  Chiyoko returns a weak smile.   “You have grown tall since the last time I saw you, but a shade thin.  Have you been eating enough?  What has that school been feeding you?”

“The school has been feeding us fine.”  Aiko responds.

Indrani ignores her and pats Chiyoko’s cheek.   “You should spend the summer with me.  A few weeks of good food will fill in those hollow cheeks.  If I can wrangle my grandson from his father, Masaru can join you.   Would it be nice for the two of you to get to know each other away from school?”

Masaru opens his mouth to disagree, but his brother pokes him in the ribs.

Chiyoko collects her thoughts before answering “That is a generous offer, Lady Indrani.  I know you have a busy schedule.”

“It’s no problem at all.  I could use the company, especially after….”  The ancient Air Aspect trails off at the mention of the Shogun’s eminent death.

Chiyoko closes her eyes pained.  “I was to spend the summer with my mother.   Neither my father and I have seen her since I was five.”  She whispers.

“Plans can change.”  Indrani gives Chiyoko a small smile.  “As I said I could use the company this summer.”

Chiyoko mutters something unintelligible.  Indrani turns her attention to her to you and Elder Kejak.  “Lady Indrani, it’s a pleasure to see you again…”

“Yes Yes Yes,”  She waves the secretary off.  “I’ll get to you in a bit.”   You thought Elder Kejak has a piercing stare, but you have never been judged by Raijin Indrani.   She examines you from head to toe as if inspecting a purebred puppy.   “So you are Svante.”

You nod.  For someone to remember your name before you even met them is a rare occurrence.  Indrani’s eyes narrow and you realize she is expecting something more.  “Yes, ma’am.”

She takes a step closer to you.  So close you can smell her musky violet perfume.   You have to stop yourself from retreating.   She reaches for your hand and studies it.  For a moment, you wonder if she is going to read your palm.  “Large hands.  Northern blood usually breeds tall and broad men.  You’ll have your uncle’s height, though his bone structure isn’t has heavy as yours will be.  “  Elder Kejak, who would blend in well on the Blessed Isle, looks nothing like you.

Elder Kejak breaks between you and Air Aspect.   You retreat to Chiyoko and Aiko.   “My brother said he has hit his growth spurt this year.”

Indrani smiles, but does not step back.  “You will have to forgive my curiosity, secretary.  I have never seen a Sidereal child before.”

“We are very careful with our children.  My nephew would not be here if we did not trust you and your gent.  For example, I trust you have warded these apartments from eavesdropping.”

“I have warded these rooms myself, secretary” Reva appears from a side hallway.  “I have also kenneled all the dogs for the night and drugged the servants to sleep.   Sujay and Basma are watching over them.”   She stands aside and indicates you continue to the dining room.  “We will not be disturbed.”

Both you and Elder Kejak glance towards Ling Ling.

Indrani rolls her eyes.  “Ling Ling never leaves my side.”   With a flick of her robes, she turns away from the secretary and heads to the dining room.

An exotic spread of delicacies from around Creation lies on a long table.  Much more food than the number of diners could eat.   This feast could rival the meals you have eaten in Yu-Shan.  You have had nothing to eat except cold trail rations since this morning, you could eat a feast this large.  Your stomach grumbles in agreement.

“Why can’t your grandmother serve normal food?”  Chiyoko whispers to Masaru.

“If people eat soup hot, my grandmother serves it cold.”  Masaru has a plate of rice, seaweed, and fish fillets folded into origami cranes.

“Dragons, she’s serving Ahlat’s Gems.”  Aiko points out a plate of fried nuggets.

“Really?”  You pick up a tong to add some to your plate.

“You do realize that is bull testicles.”  Masaru whispers.

“It’s a delicacy in the Southeast.”  You put a few on your plate.  “They have a similar texture to scallops.  You fry anything up, it tastes good.”

“You approve, Svante?”  Indrani asks.  “I see you’ve found the Ahlat’s Gems.  Good for young warriors.   Makes them fierce.”   She eyes her grandsons as she says this.   “You should eat up, boys.  Dragons know you could use some fierceness.”   Masaru retreats from the buffet to his seat, without taking any Ahlat’s Gems.

“If that woman makes me eat bull testicles, I’m going to fillet her with my fork.”  Aiko hisses after Indrani wanders off to make a plate for Ling Ling.

“Please not here, Aiko.”  Chiyoko sits down next to Masaru.  You go to sit next to Chiyoko and Elder Kejak pats the table next to him.   You sigh and sit in the empty chair between him and Masaru.   Aiko takes the seat on the other side of Chiyoko, furthest from the Indrani.

“You seem to know your way around the Cuisine of Creation, Svante.”  Indrani comments.   Ling Ling has his own seat at the table and is licking clean a plate.  Mei Mei sits by your chair, waiting for scraps.

Remember to complement the food.  “Yes, the food is very good.”

Indrani begins to ask another question and the secretary interrupts.  “My brother has traveled with Svante all over Creation.  Just a few months ago, he visited the Western Islands.  The Cobalt Atoll…. “

“Ah, what interesting food did you eat there, Svante?”  Indrani interrupts the secretary.

“Um…”  You swallow to clear your mouth.  Why was Indrani asking you all these questions?  Didn’t she believe in silent children?

What do you do?

  • Answer her question truthfully and make conversation.
  • Ask one of your own.  Why was she questioning you?
  • Stare at you plate and play shy.  Let Elder Kejak steer the conversation
  • Other

((My failure at describing food shouldn’t delay this post. ))

139 – Grooming

“Are you kidding me?  Do you really expect me to hide in Yu-Shan and abandon everyone here?”  You cross your arms.  “What do you need me to do?”

Elder Kejak’s face breaks into a smile.  “Good!    I didn’t expect you to leave, but I wanted to hear you say it out loud.”  He relaxes and steeples his fingers.   “Your primary mission hasn’t changed.  Stay close to Chiyoko and the others.   Keep an eye on the servants.  Any one of them can be a potential Lunar.   I may have some names of potential Lunar doppelgangers to investigate later. “

“After everyone retires for the night, wander the manse outside of fate.  You have an instinct for finding trouble, but” Elder Kejak cautions, “do not get involved.   Find me instead.”

“What about Lung Duri?  She still has the gift of the Broken Mask.”

“When the time is right, I will tell you to ungift her.  Creation will remember Hayate’s daughter.”  He smiles.  “We want Hayate to incriminate himself before he brings his alliance with the Lunars to an end.”

“Won’t they suspect our involvement?”

“No, not if they don’t know you are a Sidereal.  You must not reveal yourself under any circumstances.”  Elder Kejak strokes his beard.  “You are our greatest advantage, Svante.  No one will suspect anyone so young of being a Celestial Exalt. “

“But…”  Elder Kejak had revealed you as a Sidereal already.

He holds up a hand.  “Yes, I know I revealed you to Reva and her circle, but she is clever enough to figure out who you are.   She had to been told or else she would have revealed you at an inopportune time. Also, Indrani also knows by now.”  He sighs.

“Is there anything else?”   Elder Kejak has a long list of duties for you.   When did he expect you to sleep?

“Oh, yes.”  He walks over to the chest of drawers and reveals the Five Moons of Denial.   Your copy of the Five Moons of Denial.  You can see the puppy gnawed corner.  Elder Kejak sets it on the table in front of you.  “You can use this opportunity to catch up on your reading.”

You groan and slam your head on the book, as the secretary answers a knock at the door.  A servant enters carrying a crate full of grooming supplies and a change of clothes.


You sit in the bathtub and scrub the river mud off your skin.   Despite the warm water, you tremble.   You drop the cloth into the water and step out of the tub.  You stare in the mirror and the Svante who stares back seems hollow, unrecognizable.   You blink one eye and the reflection blinks with you.   You lean your brow against the mirror.   Rage, Fear, Guilt, Grief are the emotions you expect to feel after murdering someone.

Instead, you feel empty.

Mei Mei’s howls distract you from your dark thoughts.

“What?” the sevant yells over the howls.

“Will she outgrow making such a racket?”  the secretary yells back.

“Some dogs do. Some don’t.  Each dog is different….”  The howls stop.  “Grab her! Grab her!”  You hear a wet thump and feet pattering on the floor.

Scratch Scratch Scratch.   A puddle of water dribbles out from under the bottom of the bathroom door.   Mei Mei whines.

“Do you need any help?” you ask.

“No, we are fine.”

“Got her!”  Mei Mei howls again as the servant carries her back to the tub.

You sort through the clothes the servant gave you.  You hold up a grey silk robe embroidered with silver blue-eyed dragons.  You robe yourself in the dull Air Aspected clothing and frown as you smooth out the cloth.   Your eyes fall on your emerald green Wings of the Raptor.  Somehow, your cloak managed not to attract a speck of river mud.   You fidget with the cloak’s broach and adjust the cloak to fall over one shoulder.   Better.

“Svante, we are going to be late!”  The Secretary yells.  You run your fingers through your hair and exit the bathroom.

“No, I don’t think curling irons are necessary.  A brushing will just have to do.  I’ve got a very important dinner engagement tonight. “  The secretary hovers over the harried servant brushing Mei Mei.   Miraculously, Elder Kejak’s clothes are dry.   He looks you over with a critical eye.   “You need a brushing too.”

You run your fingers through your hair again.  “Akachi says the tousled look is popular right now.”

Elder Kejak offers you a comb.  “Indrani is over two centuries old.  I doubt she approves of the latest fashions.”  You get the idea that Elder Kejak does not improve of them either.  His own hair is neatly pulled back into a tail.

You ignore the comb.  “I would think an elder Exalt would have bigger problems to worry about then my hair.”

“I have some hot irons to straight his hair.”  The servant offers.  She ties Mei Mei’s bangs up with a red ribbon.

Hot Irons!  You grip your hair and shake your head no.   Thankfully, Elder Kejak excuses the servant.  He sighs.  “Remember your manners and complement the food when prompted.  Answer questions when spoken to, but keep the responses brief and to the point.  Fortunately, Indrani believes children should be seen, not heard.”

You and Mei Mei follow the secretary.  Each hallways is a twin to the last.   Dragonblooded officials and mortal bureaucrats hurry down the hallways on important business.   The secretary pauses in one quiet hallway, confused.  Two Dragonblooded guards stand outside of a doorway.   “May we help you?”

The secretary scratches the back of his head.  “Ah, yes.  I have seen to be turned around.  Do you know where Raijin Indrani’s apartment is?”

“I can show you, Secretary.”  Chiyoko emerges from the guarded door.  She gives you a small smile.

“Good Evening, Lady Chiyoko.  If you would be so kind.”  The secretary waves his hand around.  “I get so turned around in this manse. “

“It would be no problem.”  Chiyoko replies.  “We will have to wait for Aiko to finish getting ready.”   As if summoned by her name, Aiko opens the door across from Chiyoko’s.   Chiyoko does not have a roommate here, you realize.   You file this information away for future reference.

The secretary motions for Chiyoko to take the lead.   The two guards fall in behind the group.   Aiko whispers to you “These are the guards Chiyoko’s father tried to send to school with us.”  You glance back at the guards.   The women’s uniforms show them as an Earth Aspect and a Fire Aspect, yet both have dark brown hair and eyes.  Only the elemental tinge of their skin betrays them as Dragonblooded.

“They are lost eggs.”  Aiko explains.


“Lost eggs.   Dragonblooded born of mortal mothers.    Yeh Sujay tries to find work for them around the Shogunate, mostly as mercenaries.   Chiyoko’s father hired these two to guard Chiyoko and I. “   Aiko steps away from you, when you reach an alcove lined with sheer silver curtains.  Four more Dragonblooded guards, these of high breeding, guard a set of double doors.

The doors open.  Masaru and another older Air Aspect boy in his late teens step out.   Tall and lean, the boy has silver blue hair and a set of wire glasses at the bridge of this nose.  His light blue-grey eyes dart between you and Elder Kejak.  “Good Evening…  I am Raijin Yi…. This is my brother, Mayim Masaru.  Though I guess you already know him….”

Masaru elbows his brother and continues in his place.  “Our grandmother would like us to escort you to the banquet hall.   If you would follow us.   Please watch your step.  Our grandmother would be most unhappy if you harm one of her dogs.”

You follow Masaru and his older brother into the apartment.  Yi stares at you and then looks away when you stare back.  Masaru walks up beside you and whispers.  “My brother never paid much attention to the night sky before tonight.”   Elder Kejak frowns when he overhears Masaru.   Yi knows you and Elder Kejak are Sidereals.  Keeping this secret will be more difficult than you imagined.

Tapestries cover the walls of Indrani’s apartment.   You pause at once depicting an Air Aspect amidst a raging storm.   Lightning cracks from her fingers and an army of Fair Folk and other wyld beasts swirl in the gale around her.

“Raijin Indrani at the height of her military career.”  Elder Kejak explains.

You hear the sound of nails clicking on tile.  A regal black and white Shih Tzu saunters into the room.  His hair bound in a Shogunate topknot.   He snarls and rushes at you, teeth bared.

What do you do?

  • Dodge out of the dog’s way
  • Kick the dog away
  • Stand tall and yell “No!”
  • Pin the Dog to the floor
  • Other

137 – Invitation

“Mei Mei was a birthday present,” you reply, brows knit in confusion.  Why did Masaru’s mother want to know about Mei Mei.  Besides being your puppy, there was nothing special about her.  “Did you want a puppy?”

“Dragons, no.  The last thing I need is more puppies.”  In spite of the tartness of her words, Lady Reva picks Mei Mei up and brushes dried mud out of her fur.  “Why are you cover in mud, puppy?”  Mei Mei wags her tail and licks Reva’s face.

“We gave her a bath yesterday,” you defend yourself.

“Mother,”  Masaru looks to you.  “Mei Mei isn’t one of grandmother’s puppies is she?”  You shrug.  You have no clue who Masaru’s grandmother is.

Reva holds up a finger to silence her son.  She walks over to the Shogun’s secretary, puppy in arms.  “Is this the dog you acquired from my mother for your nephew’s birthday present?”

The Secretary wipes sweat off his brow and croaks.  “She told you about that?”

“My mother tells me everything about her dogs.”

“In excruciating detail,” Sujay, the Wood Aspect, quips.  Basma snickers.

Reva silences her circle with a stare.  She turns back to the Secretary.  “Is this the dog you gave your nephew?”

“Your mother has a great many black and white puppies…”

“Secretary,” Reva cuts him off.  “A yes or no will suffice.”

Elder Kejak weighs his options and finally replies.  “Yes.”

“This boy is a Sidereal.”  Reva declares.  Shit.  So much for your cover.

The Secretary frowns in confusion.  “I’m not following your logic, Lady Reva.”

“The boy has the puppy.  The puppy you gave your nephew.”  Lady Reva explains slowly.  “Thus it stands to reason this boy is a Sidereal.”

You are not following Lady Reva’s line of thinking either.  You glance at Masaru, who is busy staring at his boots.

“Really, Reva” the Secretary protests.  “That is a wild assumption to make.  What makes you think any of my nieces and nephews are Sidereals?”

Reva ignores the question and asks one of her own.  “What is he doing in my son’s circle?”

Before the secretary can reply, Masaru speaks up.  “He’s my friend.”

“Your friend…  How did you meet him?”

“The Chuzei assigned Svante as my roommate at the beginning of the school year …. And he’s the only other boy at the school my age who cares about manga. “

Reva studies you and now you are the one staring at your boots.   She hands the puppy over to the secretary, who juggles the dog for a moment.   “Who piloted the Blood in the Breeze?”  She asks you.

The Blood in the Breeze is one of the warstriders from Metal Gods.  “Cora Nadia.”

Lady Reva taps her finger on her lips.  “What is the name of Fikaria’s sword?”

Fikaria was a Fair Folk minion in Kill Fire Sword.   “The sword has different names based on the time of day.  In the evening, it is the Lover’s Sigh.  In the morning, it is Lover’s Last Breath.  At all other times of the day, it is nameless.“

“What is the name of the immoral mortal in Adventures of the Immaculate Dragons?”

“Um….”  You knew one of Masaru’s relatives sent him a copy, but you never actually read that comic.

Reva smiles.  “Don’t worry, Svante.  No one actually reads Adventures of the Immaculate Dragons.”

“How do you know what the mortal’s name is?” Masaru asks.

“When my mother burned all my manga when I was a child, she graciously left me a copy of the Adventures of the Immaculate Dragons.”  Reva sighs.  “Masaru, why didn’t you tell me about your roommate?”

“I can’t write to you about him because… Sidereals….”  Masaru explains.  “And I haven’t seen you since before my second breath.”  Reva goes to her son and cups his face in her hands.  “I know you are busy…”

“Shh…”  She hugs Masaru and closes her eyes.  “It’s okay.”

You almost jump when you feel a hand on your shoulder.  You look to find Elder Kejak by your side.  “Masaru and the rest of his circle have been good friends to Svante.   He’s been lonely since taking his second breath.”

Lady Reva wipes unshed tears from her eyes.  “Let’s collect the rest of your circle and head back.”


You climb though the lower ruins of Meru, though ruins are not the term you would use.  The majority of the buildings are in perfect condition.  They stand empty and silent, waiting for the Anathema masters to return.   Only the weeds growing though sidewalks and the flickering streetlights betray Meru’s decline.

Lady Reva leads the way with Sujay by her side.  You, the Secretary, Chiyoko, and the rest walk next.  Basma brings up the rear.   In the distance, the sky glows with amber light.  As you approach, you see an idyllic park ablaze.  Each tree burns like a fiery flower.  White light cracks the ash-covered ground.  Crimson char flutters around you.

“The park has burned since the Usurpation.”  Elder Kejak explains.  He grips his staff and watches the fire.  The blaze casts dark shadows on his face.  “A Solar fell here and wanted Creation to never forget his passing.”

You turn away from the destruction.  The hairs on the back of your neck stand up.  Danger!

Sujay shoots into the darkness.   A yelp.  He runs over and returns with a feline corpse.  Its adorable chubby face is at odds with its long fangs and claws.  “They are breeding again.  I saw his mate slither away with a litter of kits.”

“We will let the guard post know to send out a crew to clear them out again.”  Basma says.

Finally, you reach a section of Meru where the streets lights glow bright.  A tall jade wall encircles a large part of the city.  A full circle of five Dragonblooded guards the gate.  Other Dragonblooded patrol the wall.

Lady Reva brushes her fingers against the jade stone of the gate.  It opens to reveal the bustle of a living breathing city.  Cafes and shops line the street.  A group of mortal women titters as you pass.  They fall silent when you stare at them.

“Bitches,”  Aiko hisses under her breath as they hurry off.

A young girl – too young to have Exalted- with Water Aspect markings walks up to Chiyoko.  “Lung Chiyoko, may I have your autograph?”  She has a copy of last month’s Pretty Dragon Princess Meru in her hand.

“Go Away!”  Chiyoko hisses.

The girl bites her lip and the Fire Aspect whispers in her ear.   Masaru watches the girl wanders off.  “She just wanted an autograph.”

“I’m not Pretty Dragon Princess Meru!”   Chiyoko rages.  “I didn’t ask for some stupid mortal to write a manga about my life.”

“But it isn’t about your life….”  Masaru reasons.  “The main character was just based on you.”

“I don’t care!”  Chiyoko looks away and keeps walking.  “I fucking hate this place.”  She whispers.

You are about to say something, when Elder Kejak interrupts.  “Look, Svante.  There is the Chrysanthemum manse.”  He points out a Red Jade building with tall columns, sitting on a cliff.   “That’s where we are headed.”

Your legs burn by the time you reach the entrance of the manse.  Lady Reva leads the group past the guards and into a large echoing atrium.   You follow her though a large set of black jade doors and down a carpeted hallway.  Elder Kejak pauses at a junction.  “If you would excuse me, Lady Reva, I must see my nephew settled in.”

Chiyoko gives you a queer look and mouths “Nephew?”

You mouth back “Later.”

Reva holds up a hand.  “A moment, Secretary.”  She cocks her head, listening.  “My mother would like to invite you and your nephew to join our circles for dinner.”

“Our Circles?”  Chiyoko repeats in dismay.

“Dinner with Grandmother?”  Masaru gulps.

“I rather dine with the heart eating anathema.”  Aiko says.

“Children,”  Reva colors the word with her displeasure.  “The Blood of the Dragon shows respect for their elders.”

“Yes, Lady Reva.”  “Yes, Mother.”

The Secretary bows.  “We would be honored to join you and your mother for dinner.”

Aiko makes a hacking sound.  Lady Reva frowns and Aiko falls silent.  You cannot remember the last time you ate, but you decide that fasting may be a good experience for you.

“Will we have time to freshen up?”  The Secretary says, ignoring Aiko’s interruption.  A clump of mud falls off Mei Mei onto the carpet.

“We can delay dinner until you give the puppy a bath.  My mother cannot see the dog in such a state.  I’ll send some servants with the necessary grooming items and clothes for your nephew.”  Lady Reva leads Chiyoko and the others away.  Chiyoko looks back with a forlorn expression.


The Shogun’s Secretary has a single Spartan room with a bed, small round table with two chairs, and a chest of drawer.  Two doors line the left side of the room, one ajar to reveal a bathroom.  A fireplace is located on the right wall.  Elder Kejak walks to the far wall and opens the lone window to the night sky.  You sit in one of the chairs and wait as the Elder Sidereal studies the stars.  He nods to himself, satisfied with the stars and close the window.   “We won’t be over heard here.”  The window latches with a loud click.

He sits down in the chair across from you and studies you with an intensity that makes you squirm in your seat. You break the silence.  “Why did you reveal me as a Sidereal?”

Elder Kejak digs under his robes for a long starmetal chain.  A small cache egg pedant hangs from the end.  He sits the egg on his desk and taps it with one long finger.  The egg cracks open and unfolds to reveal a writing desk stocks with prayer rolls and fine Yu-Shan ink.

“I had already planned to introduce you as my nephew.”  Elder Kejak sorts though the prayer rolls.  “I had even written a Resplendent Destiny for you to sign.”  With a sigh, he throws one of the rolls into the fire.   “It is unfortunate Reva received news of her son’s disappearance so quickly.  Once you and Masaru had arrived, I had planned to reveal Masaru as safe.”  He unrolls another prayer roll and adjusts the destiny.  “But we have made the best of the situation.”  The ink on the roll glows with a faint emerald light.  Elder Kejak tucks the roll into the desk and refolds the cache egg.

“We do not have much time.  Tonight we will be dining with Raijin Indarni, who is the head of Gens Raijin and most importantly, the Shogun’s lover.   I have requested an audience with her days ago, but she has been busy with affairs of state during the Shogun’s illness.  Sasha has spoken with her some, but Indarni requires special handling.”

“Why do you need to talk to her?”

“Her words carry weight in the Shogunate.  We need her to support our choice to succeed the Shogun. Akane is infertile and that weighs heavily against her in Indarni’s estimation.”  Elder Kejak rubs his face and sighs.  “Fortunately, Indarni is less than impressed with Hayate, so she hasn’t spoken for him either.”

You consider the situation.  “Indarni wants to support someone with an heir.  Yet she does not want to support Hayate at all, so she stays silent.  “

Elder Kejak nods in approval.  “Yes, we need to make her realize her silence support Hayate just as much as speaking for him.”

You close your eyes “Hayate’s heir is dead.  I killed her.”  You can still see her surprise at the Lunar’s blade sticking out of her chest.

“Technically, the Lunar killed her and that is how we will present it when the time comes.”  When you do not response, Elder Kejak continues.  “Svante, you feel responsible for Lung Duri’s death and that is the proper way to feel.  A Sidereal should always consider the far-reaching effects of their actions.  However, you must consider not the single strand, but the entire loom.  Many Dragonblooded supported Hayate because he had an heir.  With Duri not only dead, but forgotten, Akane has a chance to seize the Chrysanthemum manse.”

“Are you saying Lung Duri’s death is a good thing?”

“Lung Duri is a single strand among many.  Sometimes a strand needs to be cut to save the rest.”  Elder Kejak mimics a cutting motion with his fingers.  “Do you understand?”

Do you understand?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Other




136 – Execution


Reva looks away from the Shogun’s Secretary at the sound of Masaru’s voice.  “Masaru.”  Tense drains from her when she sees her son.  “Quick, you and your friend come here.”

Without a thought, Masaru ducks behind his mother.   You hesitate and decide to join Masaru.  Elder Kejak’s eyes dart from you to Reva.  “Ah, you must be Masaru!  It is wonderful to meet you finally.  I have heard so much about you recently.  You take after your mother… except you are a Water Aspect… and look!  You are completely safe.”  The Secretary coughs.  “You shouldn’t go wandering off on your own and worry your mother.  She may do something… unwise in her worry.”

Reva narrows her eyes at the Secretary’s words.  He folds his hands and smiles benignly.  Reva huffs in annoyance and turns to examine Masaru.  Her eyes take note of the disarray of his clothing, his muddy boots, and his lack of armor.  She brushes his bangs to expose a half healed cut.  Then Reva clutches her son to her chest.  “When your brothers told me they couldn’t find you at school….”

Masaru hesitates for a moment and then relaxes his mother’s embrace. “We are fine, mother.”

“Where is the rest of your circle?”  The Fire Aspect asks.

“They are inside the manse, Aunt Basma.  Lung Chiyoko is attuning to the manse.”

Reva raises an eyebrow.  “Your circle managed to claim an Anathema Ruin?”

Masaru breaks away from his mother and nods.  “The guardian was lonely, so she helped us bypass the security inside.”

“My question is how you managed to enter the manse in the first place.” The Wood Aspect fingers the trigger of his crossbow and stares at the Secretary.   The Secretary holds up his hands in a shrug and tries to look innocent.

“We… kind of crashed a Skyship into the manse….”  Masaru mumbles.

“You what?!”

“It was my idea!” you lie.   “Not to crash the ship, but to fly it.  But we had no choice.  We were kidnapped and…”

Reva holds up a hand.  “Slow down.   Who kidnap you?”

“Vayu Khalid,  Abioye Ru, And..”  Masaru looks to you.  He wants to tell his mother about the Lunar.  You shake your head.  Now in the middle of the ruins is not a secure place to share that information.  “…And Lung Sunan.”   Masaru finishes.  He does not mention Lung Duri.

Reva notices the interaction between you and Masaru.   “Masaru we will discuss this matter later.  Why do you introduce me to your friend?”

“Mother, this is Cnead Svante.”  Masaru mentioned nothing about being a Sidereal or a Wood Aspect.  “Svante, this is my mother, Raijin Reva.   And her circle, Yeh Sujay”  The Wood Aspect gives you a brief nod.   “and Shula Basma.”   The Fire Aspect smiles.

“Hi.”  You give everyone a little wave.

“What about him?”  Sujay points his bow at Elder Kejak.

The Secretary smiles and shakes his hand no.  “Oh, I don’t need to be introduced really…”

“That’s not what I meant.”  Sujay growls.

“Come on, Secretary.”  Basma smiles, barring her teeth.  “Surely, you plan on being around longer than the last secretary.”

“What happened to the last secretary?”  Masaru asks.

“The Shogun executed him last year.”

“Speaking of execution, what about him?”  Sujay repeats.

The Secretary holds up a finger.  “If I may offer a few suggestions that don’t involve execution….”

“Shut up.”  Basma orders.   The Secretary lowers his hands and falls silent.

Reva smooths Masaru’s hair and sighs.  “Let him go.  He is more use to us alive than dead.”

“Let him go, she says.”  Sujay lowers his bow.  “You are one lucky man.”

“The Fates smile upon me.”  The Secretary replies.

Basma groans at the Secretary’s words.  Sujay frowns and rests his bow on his shoulder.  Reva begins to head towards the manse entrance and then pauses.  She looks down at your feet. Mei Mei, fur covered in river mud, sits by your side.   She wags her tail and barks once at Reva.     Elder Kejak winces.

“Svante, where did you get this puppy?”

Where did you get Mei Mei?

  • Full Truth. It was a birthday present from Elder Kejak… or the Secretary
  • Barebones truth. It was a Birthday Present.
  • Partial Lie. It was a Birthday Present from your Uncle.
  • Complete Lie.  You found Mei Mei wandering around Vanchow.
  • Say Nothing.
  • Other



135 – Arrest

“You should attune to the manse, Chiyoko.”  You have been an asshole over the past day especially to Chiyoko.   Perhaps this will make up for it.

Chiyoko bites her lower lip.  “I don’t speak Spirit Speech.”

“I can teach you,” you offer.

“I’ll teach you,” Aiko says less than a heartbeat later.

Chiyoko hugs yourself and turns away from the flame.  “You take it, Svante.”

“What am I going to do with a manse in Creation?”  You shrug.  “If I am in Creation, I’m with you.”


Aiko rolls her eyes.  “I’d love to claim it but let’s be honest.  You know no one is going to trust me with a manse.   If I attune to it, they are going to just take it away.”

“You don’t want it, Masaru?”  Chiyoko asks.  “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you.”

Masaru’s response comes out in a rush.    “You mean, if I hadn’t crashed the skyship into manse, we wouldn’t have been forced into a dangerous situation where we would have died if the manse’s guardian wasn’t lonely.”

Chiyoko closes her eyes.  “I didn’t mean it like that.”

“Oh.”  Masaru stares at the floor, cheeks burning.  “The manse is fire aspected.  You are a Fire Aspect.  Who better to attune to the manse?”

Chiyoko paces away from the others.  You slowly approach as she stares at the wall of the hearthstone room.

“I don’t deserve this.” She whispers to herself.

”Why?”  She jumps at your question.  You take her hand.  “You show an affinity for the lioness despite the language barrier.  You are an Fire Aspect.  You are the best person to claim this manse.”

Chiyoko looks up to you and for a moment, you see the empty darkness in her eyes.  The same darkness you saw at the bridge.   Then it is gone.   She gives you a weak smile and squeezes your hand.  Chiyoko takes a deep breath and turns towards the fire.  The lioness waits beyond the flame.

Chiyoko reaches out with a trembling hand and grips the hearthstone.  She screams out in anguish and falls to her knees as the flame engulfs her.


“Wait!”  The lioness stands between you and Chiyoko.   You peer around the lioness to see Chiyoko unharmed and in an attunement trance.

The ruby lioness stares off in the distance at what you cannot see.  “There is a disturbance outside the manse.   A group of Dragonblooded, led by an Air Aspect named Raijin Reva, is arresting a man.   “

“Oh no,”  Masaru closes his eyes.  “Of course, my mother is here.”

“What can you tell me about the man?” you ask.

“No name has been spoken.”  The lioness tilts her head, listening.   “The Air Aspect just referred to him as a secretary.”

Elder Kejak.  With Mei Mei at your heels, you race out of the hearthstone room.  You bound down the stairs.  When you reach the bottom of the stairs, you pause.  You glance down both sides of the hallway, unsure where to go.

“Svante, wait!”  Masaru storms down the stairs after you.  The lioness is right behind him.  “Please don’t piss off my mother.  She is a formidable sorcerer.   Maybe we should come up with an explanation about what happened with the crash.”

“The crash?”  You had forgotten about the crash.  “Why would your mother arrest the Shogun’s secretary?”

“I don’t know anything about the Shogun’s Secretary.  Maybe he pissed her off?  More likely, he pissed off my grandmother.”  Masaru grimaces. “Everyone pisses her off.”

The lioness leads you to the exit of the manse.   Masaru holds out a hand to stop you from opening the door.  “Be careful.  There are rumors that my mother has a second circle demon bound to her.”

“Rumors?  How could she have summoned a second circle demon?  Do you know which one?”

Masaru shrugs.  “That is what I heard from Shen”

“How could you not know for certain?  She’s your mother.”

“She….”  Masaru frowns.  “She’s not a bad mother, just busy.”

You nod and push the door of the manse open.   Night has fallen and the sky is overcast.  The evening breeze chills you after being in the warm manse.   Golden lights flutter and buzz within the glass bulbs of the streetlights.   The hair on the back of your neck stands up straight as the Air crackles with lightning.

“Lady Reva,”  Elder Kejak pleads.  “I only have the best interests of the Shogunate in mind.”

Elder Kejak…pleading?  Never in your life have you expected Elder Kejak to plead.  You take in the older oracle’s appearance.  A few dark hairs stray from his ponytail.   His hands held high, his fingers stained with ink.  His deep green robes are disheveled with a smudge of ink near his right pocket.   A measuring stick protrudes from his pocket.

The Key.   You are not seeing Elder Kejak. You are seeing the Shogunate’s Secretary.   The Secretary’s eyes dart to you and then return to the woman standing before him.

Raijin Reva is stocky Air Aspect, the rounded shape of her face reminding you of Masaru.  Her long pale blue hair is pinned on top of her head.   Her icy skin glows in the night darkness.  Concealed under a dark blue cloak, her pale silver robes are elegant and understated.   Raijin Reva carries no weapon, but as a sorcerer, she does not need one.

Two other Dragonblooded encircle Elder Kejak… the secretary.   A Wood Aspect carries a jade crossbow and wears well-worn leathers of green and brown.  His boots are clean of mud but the dried water stains show this is a recent occurrence.   The sun has baked his skin into a deep tanned leather.  His pine green hair bound into a tight braid.   His pine green eyes never leave the secretary.

The Fire Aspect smirks as the whole situation amuses her.  Her charcoal brown skin contrasts with her bright long braided orange-red hair.  She wears jade chain mail and her sword drawn and lit, illuminating the scene.  She is the one that notices you and Masaru.  “Reva.”  She nods in your direction.

What do you do? 

  • Speak up. Talk Masaru’s mother into letting Shogunate’s secretary go
  • Stay Silent. Elder Kejak must have some way out of this situation, right?
  • Let Masaru talk to his mother. Support him when needed.
  • Other

((This scene would have been really interesting if Masaru was attuning to the manse. ))



134 – Hearthstone

You consider the lioness’ riddles and smile.  “River, Mountain, Fire” you point at each of your friends in turn.  “Stars” you point at yourself.  “The Riddles are us.”   The lioness’ tail twitches eagerly as she watches you point.

Aiko shakes her head.  “It can’t be that easy.  The lioness said ‘riddle’, not ‘answers’.  Each Riddle has to do with a Maiden of Fate.  The River is Journeys.  The Fire Battles.  The Mountain Serenity.”

“There are five maidens,” you remind her.

“And only four riddles,”  Chiyoko adds.

“There are five riddles,” Aiko holds up her hand, fingers spread wide.  “The question of the theme is the last riddle.  The End of the Riddles.   Endings.”

“Don’t over think this.”  The lioness cautions in Spirit Speech.

“Wait,”  you confront the lioness.  “I thought you didn’t give hints.”

The lioness shifts her weight and says nothing.

Aiko scowls.  “Dragons!  This is the stupidest security system!  Once we attune to the manse, we are completely changing it!”

“Something else is going on.”  You met the lioness’ gaze, trying to figure out what is going on.   “You want us to attune to the manse.  Why?”

She stares back, her eyes burning with hope and…

“She is lonely.”  Chiyoko faces the lioness.  She raises a hand.  The lioness bows her head.   Chiyoko places her head over the lioness’ flicker heart.  “She has been here all these centuries waiting for someone to come.”  Chiyoko scratches the lioness behind the ear.   The lioness purrs.

You watch the lioness interact with Chiyoko.  “Are you lonely?”

The lioness pulls away from Chiyoko’s hand and paces in front of the Jade Door.  “No one has come since the lockdown.   All there is me and the builder bugs.”  She looks back at the group.  “They aren’t known for their conversational skills.”

“Why all the riddles then?”

The lioness sits tall in front of the door.  “I have to fulfill my purpose.”  She licks her lips.  “Though I am able to choose which riddles to ask.  I have assisted you as much as I can.”

You and Aiko exchange a look.  “The riddles relate to each of our aspects.   Fire for Chiyoko.  River for Masaru.  Mountain for Aiko.  And Stars for me….  though a riddle with the answer of ‘Secrets’ would work too.”

The Lioness chuckles.  “I had considered a riddle for secrets.   It is good the Maidens have now have Exalts.”   The Lioness’ mood sombers.  She raises a ruby paw to the Red Jade Door.  The carvings on it break out into brilliant orange light.   The door explodes out, a searing wind blowing your hair back.  “The manse is your, if you wish to claim it.”

The room beyond the door is bare, except for a flickering bonfire in the center of the room.   The lioness circles around the flame.  Her heart flickers in time with the bonfire.  Within the flame bobs a flat red disc.

You draw closer to the flame, to get a closer look at the hearthstone.   A burst of glowing light, orange like the dawning sun, radiates from the center of the stone.   You run a hand over the outside of the flame.  In spite of the sweat running down your face, the flame is cool to touch.

“What does the hearthstone do?”  Aiko asks.

“The Stone of the Light Sleeper bars sleep to addle the mind of its master.   You will instantly awake with no confusion. “  The lioness pauses to add.  “I am told the stone makes it difficult to sleep in noisy locations.”

“I assume we will all get keystones, but only one person can attune to the manse.”  Masaru points out.  “Who is going to claim the hearthstone?”

Who is going to attune to the manse?

  • You answered most of the questions.
  • Aiko can speak Spirit Speech and talk to the manse’s keeper.   She answered questions.
  • Chiyoko seems to have an affinity to the lioness.  Also, giving her the hearthstone may make up for being an ass earlier.
  • Masaru. Masaru is the most responsible of the group.  He should have control of the manse.
  • Let the adults decide. You are sure Elder Kejak is just outside.  He will know what to do about the manse.

132 – Crash

“Masaru.”  You lean over and grab his shoulder.   “Fly around and try the landing approach again.”

Masaru closes his eyes and swallows.   He nods and fidgets with a knob on the control panel.  His hands leave a sweaty stain on the leather wheel of the skyship.

You sit back in your seat and encircle your arms around Mei Mei.  You close your eyes and pray to Mercury you and your friends will land safely.

Masaru pulls the wheel back.   The skyship rises above the ruins of Meru.

“Masaru…”  Aiko warns.  You open your eyes to see two tall towers looming in the windshield.

“I see it.”  Masaru’s hair glows with a harsh turquoise glow.   The cabin air grows heavy and moist.

“Masaru!”  Aiko screams.   You are jarred as the skyship’s left wing clips one of the towers.   The ship tumbles down from the air.   Blood rushes to your head as the ship flips.  You curl in a ball around Mei Mei.   Metal groans.  Glass shatters.  The skyship comes to a full stop.

Mei Mei whines and struggles in your arms.   You keep a tight grip so she does not fall to the ceiling.

“Is everyone okay?”  Masaru winces and glances back at you.

“What the fuck, Masaru!”  Aiko’s long braid hangs down and shakes with fury.  “You crashed the ship into an Anathema Ruin!”

“Akachi is going to kill me.”  You groan and throw your head back into the seat.  This ship was a pre-Usurpation relic.  Your guardian has ranted about Dragonblooded destroying irreplaceable artifacts.

“At least we landed safe,”  Masaru points out.

“Safe? You call this safe?”  Aiko waves her hand at the broken windshield.   The head of a broken statue lies among the glass shards.

“It could always be worse!”  Masaru begins.  “We…”

Something jumps onto skyship and rushes across its exposed belly.

“What was that?” Chiyoko whispers.

“Never tempt fate by saying ‘it could always be worst,’” you warn.

“The Lunar followed us.”  Aiko declares.

Masaru shakes his head.  “No bird could fly as fast as a Manta-Class Skyship.”

“It must be the ruins defenses.”  Chiyoko unbuckles herself and drops down to the ceiling.  You follow, awkwardly carrying Mei Mei in your arms.

The skyship starts to shift.  “It’s not me!”  Masaru hisses.   He pokes at the control panel.  “No power, no defenses.”

Mei Mei barks.  A ruby paw claws at the broken windshield.

“I can hear you in there!”  A throaty alto voice calls out in Spirit Speech.  “Is anyone hurt in there?”

Everyone is silent, not sure how to answer the voice.   Chiyoko points at you and hides her eyes.  You nod and step outside of fate.  The Dragonblooded gather weapons and crawl out of the broken window.

Despite being a neglected ruin, the courtyard garden looks well-tended.  Trees hang heavy with exotic fruits you have never seen even in Yu-Shan’s markets.   The skyship scraped a long grove in the brick floor and scattered tables and chairs in its wake.   You look up and see the stained glass window you flew though.   Copper bugs the size of your hand climb up the wall in a straight line.   A few have already begun welding window back together.

A ruby lioness sits by a shattered fountain, her flame tipped tail curled around her front paw.   The remains of the fountain’s statue – a large burly man surrounded by lions- lie submerged in the clear fountain water.  Her fiery eyes glow with curiosity as she observers you friends emerge from the crashed skyship.

“Greetings.  Welcome to the Manse of Burning Enigmas.”  The lioness purrs.  “I’d ask the purpose of your visit, but it is obvious you didn’t plan this visit.”  She nods at the crashed skyship.

“We did not mean to intrude on your manse,”  Aiko replies in Spirit Speech.  “If you could lead us to the exit, we can be on our way.”

The fiery end of the lioness’ tail flicks.  “We have a dilemma here.   I would like to help you, but the manse is on lockdown.   Do you have a keystone that allows access to the rest of the manse?”

You walk around the perimeter of the courtyard and try a door handle.   It is locked.  Each door you find is locked.  You return to your friends and examine the lioness.   A flicker flame pulses deep in her chest.   This lioness is a constructed entity designed to serve the manse.

Aiko considers the lioness’ question.  “No,” she finally answers.  “How does one acquire a key stone?”

“The master of the manse can create keystones.”   The lioness looks down at the headless statue lying in the fountain.  “The last master hasn’t been seen since the lockdown was enacted centuries ago.  The hearthstone has reformed in the heart of the manse.”  She studies all three Dragonblooded.  “Would you like to enact the emergency access protocol?  Each room may be accessed by answering a riddle.”

“Riddles?  That’s it?”  Aiko wrinkles her nose.  “How many riddles do we need to answer to reach the exit?”


Aiko glances at Chiyoko and grins.  “How many riddles to the hearthstone room?”

“Five.”  The lioness flicks an ear.  “The hearthstone room is in the opposite direction of the exit.”

“What’s going on?”  Chiyoko asks in Earthspeak.

“It’s a puzzle manse.  This sphinx will ask us questions and for each one we answer correctly we gain access to another room.  We need three riddles to get out of here, but five riddles to access the hearthstone.”

“What happens if we answer incorrectly?” Masaru asks.  Aiko repeats the question.

The lioness flexes her claws.  “I rend the flesh from your bones.  I do not wish to harm Dragonblooded children, but the security protocols are clear in this matter.”

Chiyoko takes a deep breath.  “We should head to the hearthstone room.  If we claim an old Anathema Ruin we may get in less trouble for busting up the skyship.”

Masaru frowns.  “It’s too risky.   If we get a question wrong, the lion will attack.”

“If we get them right, we get a whole manse with a hearthstone!”  Aiko exclaims.

“In the abandoned part of Meru,” Masaru counters.

Aiko rolls her eyes.  “Masaru, you can head to the exit and get help while Chiyoko and I can head to the hearthstone room.”

What do you do?

  • Go with Masaru to the exit.
  • Go with Aiko and Chiyoko to the Hearthstone room
  • Use Force Decision to get everyone to go to the exit
  • Use Force Decision to get everyone to go to the hearthstone room
  • Other

((How confident are you in your riddle answers?  😀 ))

131 – Too Low

“Head to the Yu-Shan Gate.”  You sit at the navigation console and give Masaru the coordinates.  Afterwards, you sit and collect your thoughts.   Mei Mei settles in your lap.   You take a deep breath and rub the sweat off your face.  Then you summon an Infallible Messenger.

“Akachi,” you begin.  “Chuzei Enki is dead.   Lung Hayate is working with a Lunar named Lung Suri.  I think her tell is her buckteeth.  Lung Duri is dead.  I gifted her with the Broken Mask and the Lunar killed her.”  You send the spirit off.

The reply comes back almost instantly.  “Are you okay?”

No, you think.  You are not okay.  Two people died because of your actions.   Akachi’s voice is barely a whisper, but hearing it steadies you.   For once, you want to talk about the messed up jumble of feelings with Akachi.  Yet you do not know anything about his mission and if he is whispering, he must be where he can be overheard.

“We are fine.  We are on an airship headed to Yu-Shan.”   You close your eyes and remember the Lakehouse.   You will be going there soon.   It will be nice to relax and let the adults take care of Creation for a bit.  You can show Chiyoko and the others around the markets and the temples of Yu-Shan.

But first, you have to do what you can to help.  You ponder who else to tell about the Lunar.  Sasha most definitely.  She is with the Shogun.  Wanahton is with Admiral Mayim.  Yeva is with Akane’s legion.  Maidens, you dread talking to Yeva.   You lean back against the chair.   You are so tired.  Summoning another massager right now is beyond you.

“Svante,” Aiko swivels her chair around to face you.  “Was that woman another Sidereal?”


Aiko asks another question.  “Who was she then?”

“I don’t want to talk about it right now.”

Aiko isn’t going to let it go.  “But…’

“I don’t want to talk about it!” you yell.  Mei Mei whines and stares at you.

The drone of the essence engines does little to fill the silence after your outburst.

“No, we are going to talk about it now.”  Chiyoko turns your chair around to face her.  She sits up, broken arm across her chest.  “We are going to talk about it now, because we can’t do our job if we don’t know what is going on.”

Do you have to do this now?  “Your job is to do what I say and I say leave me the fuck alone.”  You turn your chair back around and attempt to tune the others out.

Aiko barks out a laugh.   “No,” Chiyoko corrects.  “Our job is to protect you.”

What?  “I don’t need protection.”

“Please.”  Aiko says.  “Your anima doesn’t even burn and frankly…”  Aiko shuts up when Chiyoko stares her down.

“No, you are wrong.  It’s my job to protect you.”  You are a Sidereal.  Chosen of Jupiter herself.  “It’s my job to protect Creation and everyone in it safe.”

“Shit.  Chuzei Enki was right.”  Masaru mutters.

“What does that mean?”  You remember him saying that before.

“Svante, it is our job to protect Creation.  We are Dragonblooded.  It is your job to guide Creation.  To warn us about Creation’s dangers. To advise us on how to deal with them.”

“To tell us what the fuck is going on.”  Aiko interjects.  “I know you are a Chosen of Secrets, but gods, do you have to keep everything a secret?”

You think this over.  “That’s fine, but I don’t need protection.”

“It’s a numbers game, Svante.”  Masaru says.  “There are hundreds of thousands of Dragonblooded.   Only few hundred Sidereals.   You are harder to replace than we are.”

“I….”  you pause.  Logically, what they said made sense.   And it was worse than they thought.  There was only a hundred Sidereals at most and it could take up to fifty years for a new Sidereal to reincarnate.   “I don’t want you to die for me.”  You tell Chiyoko.

“Trust me.” Aiko crosses her arms.  “We don’t want to die for you either.   But when shit happens it’s your job to run your dim glow ass back to Heaven.  “

“Svante, look at me.”  Chiyoko rests her good hand on your cheek.  You stare in her warm orange eyes and remember the moment in the barn.  “Svante, you act like you carry Creation on your shoulders, but you aren’t alone.  You have us.”

“Let us help you.”   Masaru says.

“And we can’t help you if we don’t know what the fuck is going on.”  Aiko adds.   “Come on secret keeper.  Spill the beans.  Who was that bitch?”

“She’s not a bitch.” You start.  You make an effort to keep your voice steady.  “Her name was Lung Duri.  She was your cousin.  I shared my Arcane Fate with her and made her circle forget about her.”  Tears fall down your cheek.  “I killed her!  I wanted to save everyone, but I fucked everything up.”

“Dragons,”  Aiko curses.  “You are such an egotistical idiot.  You didn’t kill this Duri person.  The Anathema did.”

“Wait, what Anathema?!”  Masaru jerks the wheel as he looks back at you.  The Airship jerks with him.

“Masaru!”  Chiyoko clutches her broken arm.

“Sorry!”  He rights the ship and focuses on the sky ahead.

“You really need to learn Spirt Speech.  Svante just said there was a Lunar.  And that her tell was a buckteeth.  Sunan never had buckteeth.  So she was eaten by a Lunar ….or fucked a Lunar or…”

“We don’t need the whole list, Aiko.”  Mei Mei licks the tears off your chin.  Maidens, you hope Arcane Fate will make this conversation disappear.  “Just because I didn’t wield the sword doesn’t mean I cause her death.”

Aiko rolls her eyes.  “And maybe if Masaru hadn’t stopped for dumplings we wouldn’t have been captured. “

“You said you were hungry.”  Masaru retorts.

Aiko continues.  “As I said before.  Shit happens.  Stop wallowing in it like a pig.  You are no use to anyone sitting around mopping.”

You say nothing for a long while.  Aiko may be tactless, but she did have a point.   You have to pull yourself together.   You wipe your tears on your sleeve and run your fingers through your hair.

Aiko smiles as she watches you pull yourself together.  “See, you should listen to me more often.”

You grunt at red haired girl and notice that Chiyoko has been quiet during this exchange.   She looks lost in thought.   “Chiyoko, are you okay?”

“Can you really make Creation forget about people?”  Chiyoko asks.  There is an earnest, hungry look in her orange eyes when she asks this question.

“Yes, but there is always consequences to important people disappearing.”  You did not believe Elder Kejak when he told you this, but you do now.

She nods and hugs herself with her good arm.  You remember what the River Goddess said about Chiyoko.  You are about to ask if she is okay when Akachi’s reply returns.

“Do not go to Yu-Shan.  Land at the Lower Fields of Meru.  The Shogun’s Secretary will meet you there.  Forward all further messages to Elder Kejak.”  There is a pause in the message.  “I’m sorry, Svante.  I cannot risk my current Resplendent Destiny.  I have to go.  Stay safe.”

No Lakehouse then.   You sigh and tell Masaru to change course for Meru.

“What, we aren’t going to the city of gods?”  Aiko asks, disappointed.

“Meru is where the Lunar wanted to take us in the first place.”  Chiyoko points out.

“If we are needed in Meru, we should go to Meru,”  Masaru says.  He seems nervous and checks the weather report for the Mountain.

“Is everything okay?” you ask.

“It’s just that the winds are strong at Mount Meru.”

“Can you handle it?”

“Yeah…Sure.”   He fidgets with a knob on the control panel.  “It’s fine.”

You lean back in the chair and attempt to mediate.  If you are going to Meru instead of Yu-Shan you need to be in top condition.   Each time you clear your mind, images pop up.  Chuzei Enki lying dead in the mud.  Lung Duri spitting blood.

“Svante?  We are about to land.”   You shake your head.  You are unsure if you actually succeeded in mediating or just passed out from sear exhaustion.   You rub your eyes and see Mount Meru loom large in the window.   The skyship flies over the ruins of the city.

“There’s the field,” Chiyoko points out.

“That’s a field?”  Masaru squints at the patch of brown amongst all the gold and white.  “It doesn’t look very big.”

Mei Mei begins to bark.  You stare out the window, as the landing field grows closer.  A tall figure waits in the field.  “Svante, let your pilot know they are flying in too low.”  The messenger imitates Elder Kejak’s calm voice.

“We are coming in too low.” You say.

“I’m trying to pull up!”  Masaru says as he fights the wheel.

“The other pilot was able to land on the village street.”   Aiko says.

“The other pilot has years of experience!  I’ve never actually landed a Skyship before.”  Masaru admits.


“Masaru, you idiot!”

What do you do?

  • Bail! This ship has parachutes right?
  • Ask Elder Kejak for help. Maybe he knows of an easier field to land in.
  • Have Masaru retry the landing approach.
  • Other

130 – Aftermath

You rub your bloody nose on our shoulder sleeve and give Aiko a dirty look.  Aiko gives a long-suffering sigh and rolls her eyes.  She is trying to tell you something, but what?  That she is a fucking bitch?  You already knew that.  You focus on Aiko and dip into her well-ordered mind.  Aiko’s eyes become unfocused.  She’s been talking to Chiyoko and Masaru!  They want you to….

Ow!  A pisssed off Aiko elbows you in the nose again.  You jump up from the mode after the Earth Aspect girl.  She headbutts you, but you easily dodge and knock her onto the muddy street.

“Cut that out!”  Ru, the Water Aspect drags you away from Aiko.   She dumps you on the other side of Chiyoko.

“She’s always like this!” you defend yourself.  “You set a demon on my once!”

Aiko mutters curses in her gag, yet seems pleased with herself.   Masaru sits quietly, watching the fight.

Distraction.  Aiko wanted a distraction.   You make a rude gesture at the girl and Aiko jumps up again.  Ru grabs her long plaited red hair and throws her to the ground.

“Maybe we should let them fight it out?” the Lunar suggests.

“No,”  Khalid approaches with a sullen Shamria trailing behind.  “The skyship approaches.”

The sky rumbles and the grey storm clouds reveal a sleek manta class sky ship.   The dark manta ray ship glides down and lands in the village street.  Festival lanterns blow around their stalls and a table cloth flies down the street.  Your heart pounds as the belly of the ship reveals three more Dragonblooded.   Whatever slim prospects of escape you had just vanished.

The Water Aspect captain, flanked by her crew, slows as she approaches your group.   She is tall with a regal bearing and well pressed uniform.  Her bright blue hair is shaved and bound in the shogunate style.  With deep blue eyes, she surveys the scene.  You and Aiko bleeding and covered in mud.  Chiyoko with her broken arm.  Two corpses lying in the street.  “We were ordered not to harm the children.”

“They have been fighting among themselves.”  Khalid explains.

The Dragonblooded were fractured and without leadership.  You could not let this Dragonblooded take charge.  “Aiko did hit me,” you admit. Aiko grunts at this.  “But she broke Chiyoko’s arm”  You jerk your head at Ru.

The Skyship captain crosses her arms and stares at her fellow Water Aspect.

“Shit happens.”  Ru drags Chiyoko to her feet.  “Let’s get the fuck out of this shit hole.”

“They killed Chuzei Enki” You swallow a lump in your throat.  “And they killed that woman.”  You nod at Duri’s corpse.

The Captain studies the corpse with a frown.  “Who is that woman?”

“No one you need to concern yourself with, Captain Abioye.”  The Lunar interjects.   She walks up to you and smacks the side of your head.  “What did I say about talking, boy?”

“You said I couldn’t talk on the wind.”  You stand tall and stare the Lunar in the eye.  “You said nothing about the truth.”

The Lunar raises her fist.  You back away and slip on the slick cobble stone road.  You roll away from the approaching Lunar.

Shamira draws her hammer and stands between you and Sunan.  “I warned you not to touch these children.”

“Stand aside.” The lunar orders.

“I don’t take orders from you filthy….”

“Shamira!”  Khalid interrupts.

Captain Abioye’s frown grows as she observes the scene.   Her crew stands behind her confused.  “Is there anything I should be aware of, Dragons?”

The Captain does not know about the Lunar.  Duri’s circle must know, but the airship circle does not.  You circle does not either, but there is no way to warn them.  You realize this is not the time to reveal this secret.   The Lunar and Duri’s circle would have to kill everyone to keep the secret from getting out.

The Captain waits for someone to speak.  The Lunar is silent.  Duri’s circle is silent.  You speak up.

“They kidnapped us.  They hurt us.  They killed our teacher.”  Captain Abioye’s entire attention is on you.   “Do you want to be associated with these people?”  You lace your question with Essence.  You need to get Chiyoko and the others away from these dangerous people.  You need to gain the upper hand.  You need allies.

“Get the children on the skyship.”  Captain Abioye orders.  The Captain’s expression never changed once after your plea.  Did it not work?

Yet when Ru walks by with Chiyoko, the captain holds her hand out to stop the water aspect from boarding the ship.

“What are you doing?”  Ru asks.

“You and your circle are staying here.  My crew and I will see the children to their destination.”

“No,” the Lunar stares at you, gears turning in her head.  “Where they go, I go.”

“Your circle has proven incapable of dealing with children without injuring them.”  Captain Abioye points out.  “You will not be accompanying them to Meru.  I will bring them to the Shogun.”  You wonder which Shogun the captain means.  The dying one or the one she supports?

“What authority do you have to do this?”  Khalid questions.

“What authority?”  The captain cracks her knuckles.  “My authority is basic human decency.  You will not board my ship.  You will not be accompanying these children to Meru.”

The Lunar screams and lunges for you.  Shamira blocks with her hammer.  “Run!”

“Retreat to the ship!”  The captain orders.   Ru and Khalid surround the airship crew.   They may outnumber the remains of Duri’s circle, but they are unprepared for close combat in their ship uniforms.

Masaru, hands free of bounds, helps you off the ground.  Mei Mei reveals herself from under a festival stall.  She barks at you.  “Come one, girl!”  Together you race for the ship.  After everyone is one, Aiko slams the door button.

“What did you do that for?” you yell.   Masaru picks the locks on your cuffs and hand you the pick.  He sits in the captain’s chair and studies the console.

You ungag Aiko to hear her answer.  “We are safer with the door close!”  She holds up her cuffs for you to unlock.

Chiyoko’s gag hangs around her neck.  “Masaru, can you fly this thing?”

“My uncle taught me.”  He tries to turn the wheel.  “The captain is still attuned to the ship.”

Chiyoko closes her eyes and whispers on the wind.  The ships console dims.  “Start attuning to the ship.”  She kicks open the weapons locker, picks up a steel sword with her unbroken left hand, and offers it to you.  “In case they break in.”

“The Captain and her crew are still out there.”

“I won’t be used as a hostage against my father.”

“But they could die. “   You did not want any more lives on your conscious.

Chiyoko closes her eyes.  “They made their choice.” She replies in a soft voice.   She turns away and ignites the sword she offered you.   She waits by the door, still as a stone.   Only her trembling sword betrays her unease.

“Don’t make things worse.” Aiko hisses.

You recoil at her words.  “I didn’t mean for anyone to die.”

Aiko studies you, unsure what to say next.  “Look, just watch the door.”  She sits in the copilot seat.

You pick a sword out of the weapons locker.  No artifact swords, just plain steel.  You call upon the Battle Maiden and the sword glows with a dim red light.  Better.

You stand beside Chiyoko.  Chiyoko nods in approval.  Together you watch the door.

“I got it!”  Masaru announces.  The skyship rises.  The belly of the manta scrapes the roof of the temple. “Opps.”

“Are you sure you can fly this thing?”  Aiko asks.

“It’s fine!  It’s fine!  There’s nothing I can hit in the air.”

“Except the ground,” Aiko mutters.

Chiyoko sighs in relief.  Her sword goes out and she slumps into a chair.  Her bound arm rests over her chest.

You stare at the door and pray to the Maidens the Airship crew is okay.

“So…where are we going?”  Masaru asks.

Where are you going?

  • Yu-Shan Gate. That was your last orders.
  • Ang-Tang. Akane, the future Shogun needs to be warned of the Anathema.
  • The still living Shogun needs to be warned of the Anathema.
  • Other