109 – Shoes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No, she offered me her assistance freely.”

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

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

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

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


To: Svante Visscher, Chosen of Secrets

From: Chejop Kejak, Chosen of Secrets

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

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

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


“What does it stay?” Akachi asks.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Yeva grimaces.  “I doubt he remembers me.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And talk to your father?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Thank you, Chuzei.” You say.

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

“Yes, sir.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you do?

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

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

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

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.”


“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

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?


“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.     ))

19 – Junk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you do?

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

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

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

18 – Counterattack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you do?

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

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

16 – Guide Book

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where is he going?” you ask Sasha.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We should check the sublevels first…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you do?

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

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

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