81 – Remembering

As you watch the Desert Fox creep away, you know you should cry out, draw your sword.  Do something.  This was a Lunar, an enemy of Creation.  Both Sidereals and Dragonblooded have fallen to Lunar claws and teeth.  You were almost killed by a Lunar a few months ago.  But instead of the terror of the tiger fight, you remember the Desert Fox’s despair when she found her Fae-Eaten son.   You let her pass by unmolested then.  But now you have Sasha with you.  Together you can stop her.  You SHOULD stop her.

But once again you do nothing.

The argument between Sasha and Wanahton fades to the background as you watch the Desert Fox crawl into the forest.   She disappears behind a tree, only the glow of her anima betraying her presence.   Suddenly, the moonlight disappears.

“Where did she go?!”  Sasha pushes past Wanahton and searches the forest floor.   “Where did she go?  Svante, did you see anything?”

“No.”   You feel awful lying to your sister.  The whole situation is awful.

“We need to find her!”

“No.  We don’t.   Let the Fox go, Sasha.  She is…”

“Wanahton, leave Sasha alone.”   Shen has returned from the group of Faire Folk, carrying Mei Mei.   He hands the puppy to you.

Rory kneels beside his Oath Mother, tears running down his cheeks.   He closes his mother’s eyes and stands before the Fair Folk gathered in the Mossy Court.  “We shall retreat back to the edge of Creation and rejoin our brothers and sisters in the Bordermarches.   No more shall we be denied our place in the greatest battle reality has ever seen!”  A cheer goes up among the Fair Folk.

Greatest battle….. “Rory?  What are you talking about?”  Mei Mei wiggles in your arms, but you keep a tight grip on her.

“Envoy! “  Rory grins brightly at you.  “Find out for yourself!  Come to the Bordermarshes with us.  If you enjoyed this field of battle, imagine one more glorious.   My Oath Father has countless soldiers wearing away at the Dragon’s forces. “

“He’s talking about the Blockade.” Shen explains.

“What?!”   These Fair Folk were joining the Blockade!   That wasn’t what you wanted at all!  “I thought your Oath was to not attack the Shogunate Navy!”

“What would be the point of that Oath?  No, my Oath Mother was bound to not chase after her Admiral….”  Rory waves away the Oath as inconsequential.   “But that is in the past.  Come with us, Envoy.  You can be our prisoner!    If you are clever enough, you can enact a daring escape and join the Dragon boats.  It would be fun!”

That sounds like the exact opposite of fun.   “No, thanks.”

“Are you certain?”  Rory stares at you with hungry eyes.  “You have no idea the opportunity you are wasting.  Perhaps you need some motivation.”  The Loathing Commander and the rest of the Starfish Soldiers approach menacingly.

You feel a chill behind you.  Shen.  “You swore that we could take my ancestor’s body and leave the float unharmed.”  Out of the corner of your eye, you see his hand glow with an elemental bolt.

“My apologies, Captain.  Long have we languished in boredom while my Oath Mother played her little games and I let zeal get the better of me.”   A group of Fair Folk carry the corpse down the water staircase.   Rory and the rest of the Faire Folk place a hand over their hearts.  “Friends, Enemies, Before you lies….”

“We can do without the Eulogy. Thank you.”   Sasha cuts Rory off.  Shen and Wanahton each grab one end of the shroud and begin to carry the corpse away.   You and Sasha follow behind.

You turn and look back at the crowd of Faire Folk.   With a flourish, Rory bows.  “Until we meet on the field of battle, Envoy.”  He looks up at you with his eager, hungry eyes and grins.   You shiver and continue walking.    With the Watcher of Many Eyes shadowing you, you make it back to the boats.

Once you return to the Valiant Hummingbird, you head to your bunk and pass out.  Last thing you remember is Mei Mei settling down next to you.   Only moments later, Sasha shakes you awake.   “We are docked at the Cobalt Atoll.”

When you hid under your pillow, Sasha asks.  “Are you mad at me, too?”

“Why would I be mad at you?”

“About the Lunar.”    You groan and roll away from Sasha.   You didn’t want to think about the Lunar.

“Wanahton isn’t talking to me.   He still thinks like a mortal.  He doesn’t understand that we are at war.   The Lunars work against everything we stand for.  They will kill us if they get the chance.”

“You are Anathema.  The last Anathema I met attacked me and my friends specifically because we were children.   “

“That wasn’t me.”

“I keep trying to think of a way to explain it to him.  “  Sasha continues.

You want Sasha to go away and let you sleep.  “Have Akachi talk to him.”

“If almost being killed by a Lunar isn’t enough, I don’t know if that will help.”

You sit up and rub your eyes.   “Can we talk about this later?”

“You need to get dressed and pack.  The Valiant Hummingbird received orders to join the Blockade. I can’t believe I’m looking forward to going back to the Chrysanthemum Manse.  I’ll take Mei Mei out. “

When Sasha and Mei Mei leave, you flop back on the bed.   You hear a knock on the door.  “Pack up.  The Airship will pick us up tomorrow morning. ”  Wanahton says though the door.

“I know!” you yell back.

Wanahton pauses.  “Are you mad about what happened on the float?”

Seriously?  Why does everyone ask that?  “No!  I’m mad because no one will leave me the fuck alone.”

“Is there anything wrong?’ you hear Nesha, Captain Shen’s first mate, ask.

“No,”  Wanahton replies.  “Svante is just being thirteen.”

You throw a shoe at the closed door.   Both men chuckle as they walk away and you decide that everyone’s an asshole.

 

Later, after you have calmed down, you walk through the village with Mei Mei.  The villagers are distantly respectful now, thinking that you are Dragonblooded.  You miss the companionship of Raharjo and Tri.  You tried to talk to them earlier, but the conversation was awkward and halting.

It is almost sunset now.  You make your way through the mangroves and see Shen and Sasha walking on the beach.   You begin to walk over to join them but stop when you notice them holding hands.   Mei Mei begins to run forward, but you grab her before she does.   You hide in the mangroves.

Sasha and Shen pause on the beach, just out of sight of the dock.   They face each other, but they are too far away to make out what they are saying.   Shen brushes a strand of hair off of Sasha’s forehead.   Then he leans down and kisses her.

You watch in shock as they break off the kiss and rest their foreheads together.  Shen then walks towards the dock in the darkening night.   Sasha watches him go and once he is out of sight, she sits down in the sand and watches the ocean.   You set Mei Mei down in the sand and head towards Sasha.  What happened in the weeks you were stuck on the Blue Lady’s Float?

As you approach Sasha, you notice another woman on the beach.   For a moment you think she is Rikali, but the sun finishes setting and the stars appear in the sky.    You feel foolish for not recognizing this woman.   You would know Jupiter anywhere.

Jupiter closes the distance and embraces you.  She rests her chin on your forehead and says “Tell me what happened.”

The events on the barge come pouring out of you.   You tell her about the Blue Lady, Rory, the Lunar, her son, the Loathing Commander, the blacksmith beating her customer, even the argument between Sasha and Wanahton about the Lunar.   Jupiter listens without interruption.   When you are finished, you ask, “The Desert Fox, was it wrong to let her go?”

Jupiter looks down at you and you are once again started at how similar her eyes look to your own.   “You have doubts.”

“I don’t mean…”

Jupiter puts a finger to your lips to silence you.   “You must find your own answer to that question.”

You nod and then ask another question.  “Why did you exalt me so young?”   That was the question that burned in you since the day you took second breath.

Jupiter smiles enigmatically, hands you something, and then turns to walk away.

“Svante?”  Sasha approaches with Mei Mei at her side.    “What did she say?”

You answer as you watch Jupiter fade from sight.   “Nothing.”   Jupiter did not give you a satisfying answer to any one of your questions.  You look down at what she did give you.   In your hands is a Red Envelope addressed in glowing white ink to Chejop Kejak.

 

When you return to Yu-Shan you place the Envelope on your desk and sit on your bed and stare at it.   Why would Jupiter have you deliver a mission to Elder Kejak, not use the usual channels or deliver it herself?

You flop back on your bed.  You have been avoiding Sasha because how do you ask about why she was kissing your friend’s older brother.   Wanahton has been trying to get you alone, but you are sure he just wants to talk about the Lunar.  Frankly you wanted some time to think about things before talking to him.

You walk outside of Fate and sneak past Akachi’s office.  Your guardian is working late on paperwork.  You consider stopping but what would you say to him?  “Sorry, I wasn’t strong enough to kill the Anathema?  And I let the Fair Folk join the Blockade?”   The last thing you wanted to do is disappoint Akachi.  You slip out of the manse without being seen.

In contrast to the sunny streets of Yu-Shan, Creation was well into night.  You tap on Chiyoko’s window, hoping that she is awake.  After waiting a few minutes, you give up.   You are about to head home when Aiko opens the window.  “Oh, it’s you.”

“Hi.”   You say awkwardly.   “Is Chiyoko awake?”

“One minute.”  Aiko disappears and you hear whispering in the dorm room.  “Chiyoko!”

“What?”  Chiyoko asks drowsily.   You groan.  Aiko didn’t have to go wake Chiyoko up!

“It’s Svante.  He’s back from his mission. “

“What?!”

“Shh…  He’s at the window.”  You hear some rustling inside the door.   “Ask him about his mission!”

“Go back to sleep, Aiko!”

“Fine.  Still ask him about his mission!”

Chiyoko appears at the window annoyed.  “Hi.”

“I didn’t mean for Aiko to wake you up.   I just needed someone to talk to.“

Chiyoko still crosses her arms.  “About that mission you went on without me?

“Yeah.  I’m sorry!  Next time… Wait, you remember that?”

“Of course I remembered that.   How could you go on a mission without your circle?!”

“You remember me!”  Only fear of getting caught on school grounds after dark keeps you from shouting with joy.

“Are you a fucking idiot?  Chiyoko is pissed off at you.  Why are you happy?”  Aiko comments from the darkness of the dorm room.

“She remembers me!”  You kiss a surprised Chiyoko and then realize what you have done.  “We’ve kissed before.   That wasn’t our first kiss.”

“I know.”  She leans out of the window and gives you another kiss.

“Dragons, what is the point of you dating a secret agent of Yu-Shan if you aren’t going to ask him about his mission!”  Aiko complains.

“Shut up, Aiko.”

((The end of Chapter Five!  This was the chapter I looked forward to the most.  I left a few loose ends, but I didn’t want to go on and on.  I try to keep the posts to less than four pages.    We might deal with Svante questioning the Elders in Chapter Six.))

((This chapter was the Frenemies chapter.   You could have allied with either the Desert Fox or Rory.   I’m really surprised the Desert Fox survived to the end of the chapter.   This chapter would have either represented the first cracks in Svante’s Bronze faction beliefs or a tempering of those beliefs into something stronger.  ))

Chapter Six will start on Wednesday, December 2nd.  Svante makes his first trip to the Loom of Fate and discovers something unexpected about his past.   The outcome of this chapter will have major impact on the rest of the quest and beyond.

80 – Choices

“You are right, Sasha.  We can’t leave any loose ends.  We have to make sure the Blue Lady dies.”  You step out of fate and start running.

“Svante! Come back here!”  Sasha cries.

“What is he planning on doing?”  you hear Shen ask.   The adults’ conversation fades away as you sprint though the Mossy Court.   As you approach the battle, you slow down and observe.   You have to wait for the right moment to act.

Though the Blue Lady does not seem to tire, her skin is marred with bloody scratches.   The Desert Fox’s fur is matted with blood.   The Fair Folk are scattered around the Mossy Court like broken dolls.  Rory is trapped in a cocoon of vines hanging from a tree.   As you draw closer, the blistering dry heat of the Lunar’s anima dries the sweat on your brow.   The Desert Fox blocks the Blue Lady’s vine strike wearily and bares her teeth.   Each strike is slower than the next.  The Desert Fox will not last much longer.

The next time the Desert Fox slashes at the Blue Lady’s throat, you reach out and brush against the Blue Lady’s thread.  It much stronger than Rory’s, much more present in Creation.  Stealing her dexterity, making her clumsy is easy.  The Blue Lady misjudges and the Desert Fox’s next strike connects.   The Lunar rips out the Blue Lady’s throat.  Eyes wide, the Blue Lady tries to speak, but all that comes out of her mouth is bright blue blood.

The rest of the nobles in the Mossy Court are silent.  The only sound that can be heard were footsteps bouncing off the ground as Sasha runs towards you.   The tree encasing the Blue Lady falls to pieces and the Blue Lady’s body tumbles down to the ground.  Shen breaks through the crowd of Fair Folk to check out the Blue Lady’s corpse.

An exhausted Desert Fox transforms back to human and attempts to crawl away.   Sasha rushes past you, sword draw.    The Desert Fox staggers back but is too weak to get away.   Wanahton steps between the Desert Fox and Sasha’s sword.

Sasha hesitates before striking.  “Move aside, Wanahton.”

Wanahton stands before Sasha, blocking the Desert Fox from her view.  “No.   This is wrong and you know it.   This woman has done nothing to deserve death.   “

“This monster would see everything we work to preserve fall to ash.  You have firsthand experience what a Lunar is capable of.  One almost killed you and Svante!”

“I was almost killed by a Dragonblood, too.   I do not blame Shen for this.”

Sasha’s face is filled with anguish and she tightens her grip on her sword.  “Get out of the way!”

“No.”   Behind Wanahton, you see the Desert Fox start to creep away.

What do you do?

  • Say nothing. Let the Desert Fox escape.
  • Call Sasha’s attention to the Desert Fox’s flight.
  • Kill the Desert Fox yourself
  • Other

((That moment when you realize you forgot all about Svante’s Flying Cloak!  And I have no clue what I said color Shen’s Hair was.  Light Blue?  Violet?    Goal of next chapter is to take better character notes. Also, I’m going to start counting essence/wp usage, starting next chapter.   *grumble grumble*))

((Next post will be the last post of this chapter.  ))

79 – Unleash the Beast

Shen looks up at the towering form of the Blue Lady.  “She didn’t do that last time.”

Rory’s ears droop as he trembles in the shadow of his Oath Mother’s towering form.  After a few false starts, he replies.  “You can’t do the same thing over and over again.”

Sasha draws her sword.  “So much for peaceful negotiations.  I need a distraction.”

Shen nods and surveys the ground around him.  Eyes intent on a section of ground in front of the Blue Lady, he raises his hands and summons forth a grey and white icy giant.   Shen takes a deep breath and blows out a poof of air.  The Giant mimics the sorcerer’s movements but instead bellows a jet of freezing ice.

The Blue Lady wipes a vine at the giant and redirects its spray away from her.    The Giant shatters into icy pieces.  Her mocking grin turns into grimace of pain, as Sasha, wreathed in a scarlet glow, and slices a chunk out of the Blue Lady’s legs.   The Blue Lady takes a shaky step and trips on the ice left by the giant.

Unseen you head towards the tree holding Wanahton’s cage, passing Mei Mei as you go.  You climb the tree and walk across the branch and drop down onto the top of the cage.   With your iron hunting knife, you begin to saw though the vines holding the cage together.    Now visible, Wanahton notices you and says, “Give me your knife.  I’ll cut my way out.  Free the Desert Fox.”   You hesitate for a moment and then pass the knife down to Wanahton’s outreached hand.

“You like wind, Son of Our Admiral. “  The Blue Lady sways unsteadily as she drops to all fours.   “Let us how you do with the Flood!”   A vile deluge of mud, dead leaves, and green water spews out of her mouth.   The ground and the trees mutate in the flood’s wake.   Sasha places her hand on the soft ground of the Mossy Court.   The area around her and Shen solidifies and the island of stability bobs on top of the Blue Lady’s vile flood.

You step outside of fate again and climb down the tree.  With a cheer, the mutinous Fair Folk drop down to the ground around you and race past you towards the battle.  Rory, mounted on top of Watcher, calls the Fair Folk to him.   With Rory leading the charge, the Fair Folk shriek and swinging up the Blue Lady’s vines.   Their swords prick her skin though the tree bark and she screams in frustration, grabbing her traitorous subjects and throwing them aside.

As the Resplendent Destiny of the Traveler’s Son, you approach the Desert Fox,.   As she struggling against her bonds, you pull out your starmetal bootknife.   “If I free you, do you swear only to attack the Blue Lady?”

“Dragonboy?”   She stops struggling and stares at you in surprise.

“Do you swear?!”   you repeat.

“Yes,” the Lunar breaths.  “Quickly!  The Flood is almost upon us!”

“No, shit.”  As your knife slices though the vines, the Desert Fox glows brighter and brighter with silver anima.   Suddenly, you are thrown back against one of the trees lining the court, when a Giant Sloth explodes out of the weakened bonds.   You scramble up the tree and draw your sword, expecting an attack.

Instead the Desert Fox dashes towards the oncoming flood and leaps on top of it.   She races on top of the Vile Wind, untouched by its mutating effects.    Her wounds close with a moonlit glow leaving only silver tattoos behind.  With a clawed paw, the Desert Fox knocks the Blue Lady in the face, interrupting the flow of Wyld spew.   The Blue Lady snarls at the Lunar and the two begin to battle.

You run long the moss covered tree branches until you are just above the Blue Lady.  In your hands, you begin to weave a delicate net of your essence.   You drop it upon the Blue Lady and watch as it sears her blue flesh.   You retreat before she could figure out that the attack came from you not the Desert Fox.

With the flood dissipating, Sasha and Shen disengage and follows your progress in the trees.   “What have you done, Svante?”  Sasha yells at you.   Shen watching the Lunar and Blue Lady spar, his grey-white anima swirling around him.   Wanahton limps over with Mei Mei in his arms.  “We need to leave before the Fair Folk decide that we are more interesting opponents.  “   Rory and the Fair Folk have also fallen back and were watching the battle eagerly.

“No,”  Sasha disagrees.  “We can’t have any loose ends.”   The Lunar scratches the Blue Lady with her claws and navy blue blood fills the Blue Lady’s wounds.

What do you do?

  • You got the children.  You found Sasha and Wanahton.   Shen is still alive.  Time to go back to the ship and get out of here
  • No matter the outcome of the fight, an enemy of creation will win.  Finish off the winner while they are weaken by battle.

 

(( I’ll admit to home brewing the Blue Lady’s attack and Desert Fox running on top of it.  ))

78 – Climax

Rory’s Flask weighs heavily in your hand as you pull it out of your bag.  For a moment, you consider not giving Rory his flask.  Why is it important to Rory?  Was it an artifact of power?    If the flask was so important to the Fair Folk, what else could you get for it?   Rory’s hungry eyes have not left the Flask as you consider what to do.  You are uncertain how Rory would react if you try to change the agreement.  While you did not trust the Fair Folk, he was the closest thing you had to an ally until you found Sasha and Wanahton.

You toss the Flask to the Fair Folk Noble.      Your throw is a bit short and Rory’s eyes widen fearfully as his eyes follow the flask.  He leans forward to snatch it out of the air before it hits the ground.   Why risk angering Rory when you could play on the Fair Folk’s desire for drama?  You have no need to keep the flask to get Rory to help.   “Rory, this is Mayim Shen.   He has come to avenge his brothers’ death at the hands of your Oath Mother.”

Watcher rumbles and Rory answers.  “You are observant as always, Watcher of Many Eyes.  Tell me, Mayim Shen.   Four of your brothers have faced my Oath Mother and fallen.  What makes you so certain that you will succeed where they have failed? “

Shen takes a step forward and stands before Rory.   “When I stood next to my brother, Sora, I was not much older than our Envoy here.  I watched your mother kill him and lick his blood off of her blade.   My life was only spared so that I could bring my brother’s corpse home to my father.   I have brooded long about Our Lady of Wonder-Devouring Delight.   I forsake the Sky for the Sea to my mother’s grief so that one day I could have this opportunity for revenge.   What makes me so certain of my success?”  Shen smirks.  “You will just have to wait and see like everyone else.”

Rory laughs and claps in excitement.  “Bravo!   You are right not to spoil your stratagem, Mayim Shen.   It ruins the suspense.   Come this way.  My Oath Mother sits in judgement of the Mistress of the Moon and those she convinced to rise up in munity against Our Lady.  “

Rory and Watcher lead you and Shen though the remains of the battlefield.  One starfish warrior sadistically toy with his victim before finally stabbing them in the heart.  Two warriors duel among the dead, when suddenly one throws his sword aside and kneels before the other.   Tears stream down the warrior’s cheeks, as he takes her sword and places it at his throat.   The second warrior drops her own sword and together they begin to rip off their armor in berserk lust.    The female warrior, having exposed skin, bites…

“Svante!”  Shen calls.  “Let’s not get distracted.”

“I wasn’t distracted.” You pick up your pace to catch up with Shen and the others.

Watch grumbles and Rory asks, “Watcher wants to know if the Envoy wants a ride to better enjoy the battlefield.”

“That won’t be necessary,” Shen answer for you.  “We should look for Sasha and Wanahton.”

As Mei Mei sniffs around, you search for Sasha or Wanahton but do not see them among the dead, wounded, or otherwise occupied Fair Folk.  You walk closer to Shen and ask “Did you really forsake the Sky for the Sea for vengeance?”

“Of course not.”  Shen scoffs.  “It sounded good, didn’t it?  ”

You look to make sure Rory was not listening.  “What is your plan?”

“All of my brothers tried to best the Blue Lady relying on their skill in Martial Arts.  To be honest, I am only a fair Martial Artist.  Yet, I have other skill sets that they didn’t.”

Sorcery, you realize.  Shen continues, “Also, they didn’t have a Sidereal at their side.   If you have any tricks yourself, now it the time to use them.  I can use all the help I can get.”

You nod.   Rory stops just before the entrance of the Mossy Court.  “Envoy, my mother still does not believe me about you.  We should save her revelation of your existence for the most opportune moment.”

“Um…  right.”   You step outside of Fate.  Mei Mei looks utterly baffled at your disappearance and frantically sniffs around, looking for you.   You entangle your thread with Mei Mei’s.   Go with Shen, you tell her.  Shen calls to Mei Mei, she reluctantly follows Rory and Shen though the Mossy Court.

You find the Blue Lady, clade in sea urchin battle armor, standing on the top of her watery staircase.   In the middle of the court, you find the captured Desert Fox.  Tree roots and vines impale her flesh, trapping her to the ground of the Mossy Court.   Cages of sturdy branches hang high in the trees that line the court filled with fair folk of various states of injury.   Below the cages, stand other Fair Folk who jeer and throw fruit at the cages.

You find Sasha, uninjured and unrestrained, kneeling not far from the Lunar.   Mei Mei runs up to your sister, tail wagging.   Sasha picks up the puppy and whispers into her ear.   She sets the puppy down and notices Shen and Rory approach.  “Shen?  What are you doing here?   Why is Mei Mei with you?“  Sasha searches though the crowd, looking for you.

“What is the meaning of this interruption, Rory?  Can you not see we are busy with matters of state?”  The Blue Lady begins to descend down the stairs, her malice flooding each step.

Mei Mei barks and runs to one of the trees.   Wanahton works his way through the crowd of fair folk in the cage and signals the puppy to be quiet.  Mei Mei wags her tail and begins to play keep away with the now cheering Fair Folk.

Rory, unruffled by the Blue Lady’s anger, says, “Our Lady, may I present to you, Mayim Shen, son of Admiral Mayim Takeshi.”

The Blue Lady’s eye widen and she puts a hand to her chest.  “My Admiral!  Did he send you with a threat?“

“No.  My father did not send me. I came on my own.”   Shen approaches the Blue Lady and stand before her, hand on his sword hilt.   “I am here to avenge my brothers, retrieve the corpse of my great grandfather, and free the seas from your menace, Our Lady of Wonder-Devouring Delight.””

“Shen, what are you doing?”  Sasha repeats.  “Go back to the ship.”

“Do not interrupt, Swordswoman.   We shall complete our negotiations for your companion later.  We have an important matter to attend to.”  The Blue Lady finish descending her stair case and stands before Shen.  She barely reaches his shoulder.   “Tell us, Son of our Enemy.  Why does the Admiral not come himself?  Have we not raided enough islands to raise his ire?  He has not become…. Ill and infirm, has he?“

“My Father has never been healthier.  He has been too busy managing the Western to deal with you.”

“He has chosen to do paperwork rather than face us, his dearest and greatest enemy?”  The Mossy Court trembles beneath your feet at the Blue Lady’s indignation.

Shen’s hand tightens on his sword hilt, but he continues.  “Oh yes, my father finds paperwork much more important than you.”

The court stops trembling and the Blue Lady closes her eyes, a single tear rolls down her cheek.  “He has forgotten.  He has forgotten me and all we had together.   But no matter.”   The trees around the Mossy Court lift their roots from the ground and descend upon the Blue Lady.     Tree branches encircle her arms, legs, and torso and merge with her body.  Now towering above Shen, the twin gossamer blades of iridescent blue appear in Blue Lady’s hands.  “We will send the Admiral a gift of your corpse to remind him of what he has thrown away.  “

 

What do you do?

  • Free the Desert Fox from her bonds
  • Free Wanahton and the Mutinous Fair Folk from their cage
  • Help Shen defeat the Blue Lady
  • Other

77 – Speaking Freely

“No.  I’m not letting you go alone.”  You put Mei Mei down and climb out of the boat and wade though the water towards Sasha.   “We have to keep the Desert Fox from killing Rory.   If Rory dies, then the Blue Lady will be free to attack the Shogunate Navy.”

“Who’s Rory?”  Wanhanton asks.

“He was the Fair Folk on the dock.  His life is tied to an Oath the Blue Lady made with someone named Baleor.  The Blue Lady cannot attack the Shogunate Fleet as long as Rory is alive.”

“You do not mean Our Lady of Wonder-Devouring Delight?”   one of the Water Aspect Marines.  “We are under strict order not to engage her.   The Admiral wants the Valiant Hummingbird to play no part in her sick games.”

“Go back with the children.”  Sasha tells the Marine.

“With all due respect, Captain Shen…”

“I don’t care what Shen told you.   He’s…”  Sasha pauses and corrects what she was going to say.  “Captain Shen is over stepping his authority.  Do you understand?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Good.  And take my little brother with you.”

“What?!”  You feel a strong hand pull you back towards the ship.

“Svante, you are crazy if you think I am going to let you anywhere near a Lunar. “   Sasha takes a deep breath.  “I’ll make sure that the Desert Fox does not kill Rory.”

Wanahton, who has been quiet during this whole discussion, splashes down into the water and boards the float.  Sasha looks annoyed, but says nothing as she continues walking towards the Lunar’s Anima.  Wanahton follows.

“Wait!” you yell as you are dragged though the water back to the ship by the marine.   This isn’t fair, you think as the boat leaves the float.   They are leaving without me because I’m a kid.  You consider breaking away from the Marine and swimming back, but the Earth Aspect Marine is expecting trouble.  He looks at you and says, “Don’t try me, kid.  I have no qualms about knocking you out to keep you from doing something stupid.”

You and Mei Mei are helped back on the Valiant Hummingbird by the Marines.  Captain Shen is there waiting for you.  “Where is Sasha?”

“She went back to confront the Anathema.”  The Marine Commander reports.

“I see.”  Captain Shen crosses his arms, displeased by this news.

“Sir, we need to go back.” You say.  “There is a Fair Folk on the barge that must live or else the Blue Lady will be free to wreak havoc on the Shogunate Fleet.  “

“Captain, this vessel belongs to Our Lady of Wondering-Devouring Delight.”  One of the Marines says.

The Wood Aspected First Mate winces when he hears the news.  “Captain, I have been ordered to remind you of the Admiral’s…”

“I am fully aware of the Admiral’s orders regarding Our Lady of Wonder-Devouring Delight.”  Captain Shen looks out towards the float, tightly gripping the rail of the ship.   “Wyld take you, Sasha.  Why couldn’t you just leave the Lunar and come back?”

You stand next to the Captain and say “Sir, there is something else you should know.  The Blue Lady, she has the corpse of your Great-Grandfather in her bed.”

The First Mate curses, but Captain Shen turns to you and says “Tell me everything you know.”   You tell him about the Blue Lady, the Desert Fox and her son, Rory and Baelor’s Oath.   When you are finished, Captain Shen calls for his armor.

The First Mate grabs you painfully by the arm.  “All four of Shen’s older brothers were killed by that Wyld Creature.   Are you going to be the one that tells Admiral Mayim that he lost yet another son to that…thing?”

It’s Masaru you dread facing if Captain Shen dies, not Admiral Mayim.   “I won’t let anything happen to him.”  You promise the First Mate…. and Masaru.   The Wood Aspect looks like he is going to say more, but thinks better of it and lets you go.

Captain Shen, now dressed for battle, waits for you by the ladder.  “Down you go, Svante.”  You tuck Mei Mei into your bag and start down the ladder.

Stepping up to the Captain, the First Mate says, “Sir, if I may speak freely.”

“Why ask permission when you are going to anyways, Nesha?”  Shen tells his First Mate as he helps you down the ladder.

“Shen, this is the stupidest thing you have ever done.  You won’t even remember this girl after she leaves.”

“You’ll be surprised what I remember.”  Shen grabs his bag and throws it to you on the boat.

“This is stupider than the time you mutinied against the Wyld Hunt and ran off with that Anathema.”

Shen steps onto the ladders and looks up at his first officer.  “You probably don’t remember this, but that Anathema was actually a Sidereal, Nesha.”

“Take the Marines, at least.  You have to bring more than a twelve year old boy with you.”

“Hey!” you protest from the boat.  “I’m thirteen now!”

The Wood Aspect looks at Shen as if your words are his strongest argument against going back.  When Shen continues down the ladder, he rubs the bridge of his nose.  “Shen, your father won’t be able to protect you from this one.”

“That’s the entire point, Nesha.”  Shen boards the boat and throws the rope at Nesha.

Nesha is quiet after Shen says this.  “Don’t get yourself killed trying to prove something.”

“I’m not planning on dying today.”  Shen yells from the boat.   The Air Aspect adjusts the sails and takes the rudder.

It is a short ride from the Valiant Hummingbird to the Float.   The Float, once a dark forest filled with Wyld beasts is down a battle ground.   Fair Folk fighting Fair Folk.   Shen lands the boat on the beach and jumps out.   “Where do we go now?”  Shen asks you.

“Um…”   Nothing looks the same as it was when you left just a few minutes ago.  There is no Lunar anima in the sky.

Mei Mei starts barking.  “There is someone coming!”  Shen’s hand glows with a frosty blue light.

“Wait!”  You signal Shen to stop casting his bolt.  “I know this one.  It’s Rory.”

“Envoy!  You made it!”   Rory rides up to you on Watcher, covered in multi-colored gore.    “Are the children safe?”

“Yes!”  You bow deeply at the Fair Folk noble.  “I thank you for your service, Rory.”

Rory grin deepens at this news.  “Then we can conclude our agreement.”   Rory holds out his hand for the flask.

What do you do?

  • Give Rory the Flask as you agreed
  • Don’t give Rory the Flask.
  • Other

((I did a little bit of “Not let Sasha go alone” with a forced “Go back to the boat”.  I couldn’t fit in “the Desert Fox is not our enemy.  That may be next post. ))

76 – Setting the Stage

“Rory, do you know of a safe place for us to hide?“  You have to keep the children safe until the Valiant Hummingbird gets here.

“Hide?  That sounds uninspiring and boring…unless…  I know a place!   It’s being guarded by a dragon…  At least she thinks she is a dragon, but fighting her should provide enough excitement for not to be bored!”

“Is there any place to hide that doesn’t involve fighting someone who thinks they are a dragon?”  Rory’s ears droop, so you change tactics.  “I mean, there is something I need you to do.   Something very important to the success of our quest.   Something very… dangerous and not at all boring…”

Rory’s ears perk up and he kneels before you.  “What do you require of us, Envoy?”

“Rory, for the success of our quest,”  You pause dramatically,   “I need you and Watcher to disable the Trebuchets that defend the Float.   “

Rory breaks out into a smile.   “Of course!  The Trebuchets!   How would you abscond with the children if the Trebuchets can foil your escape?”   The Fair Folk then looks confused, “You aren’t coming with us?”

“I can’t… It’s my job to keep the children safe so they can have their heartfelt tearful reunion with their parents later.   “

“Are you sure?   I hate for you to miss the great battle!”

Great Battle?   “I don’t want to take away from your heroic moment.   But, I still need a place to hide.”

“You will not take away from my heroic moment, Envoy.  Unlike the Loathing Commander, I have no problem sharing the stage.”   Rory shrugs.  “But if you insist on staying with the children, I can escort you to the someplace…  Safe.“

You and Rory load up the children upon Watcher’s back and ride the Wyld Beast though the dark and foreboding woods.   Rory walks ahead of Watcher and the children and you walk behind, keeping an eye on the whole group.

Rory’s continued existence is tied to the Blue Lady’s inability to attack the Shogunate Fleet.    Why does this Baelor person not want the Blue Lady to attack the Shogunate Fleet?  Is Rory’s Oath Father a potential ally?

“Here.”  Rory says, pointing towards a large pile of….  brooms?

“Um….  What is this place?”   The children slide off of the Watcher and the Wyld Beast retreats to the edge of the forest to wait for Rory.

“It’s the Broom Closet.  No one comes here. “  Rory explains.

It doesn’t look like a Closet to you…  Just a pile of Brooms.  “Why not?”

“It is an expression of reality in our little piece of Wyld.  It drains the excitement from… well… everything.”     Rory shutters.   The Fair Folk stalls before joining Watcher.   “You sure you don’t want to come with?  It’s very boring here.”

“Nah. I’m good.”   Rory cringes as you pick up on of the Brooms and twirls it in your hand.

“If you change your mind, come find us.”   The Fair Folk leaps on to Watcher’s back.  “And don’t forget about our agreement!”

“I won’t!  Good luck!”  You watch Rory and Watcher head back though the forest.  A little girl walks up to you.  “I need to go potty.”

“Um…”   For the rest of the evening, you help the children get settled.   You build a bon fire out of some of the brooms and divide up your travel rations among the kids.   The broken children would not eat any of the offered food, which worries you.  After dinner, the children settle down and fall asleep, worn out from the excitement of the day.

You stay up to keep watch.    At first you practice some Sword Katas and bored, you break of the brush of one of the broom and start practicing with that.   You check on the children to make sure they were all present and asleep.  Eventually you sit before the fire and begin to peel straws off of the broken broom and throw them in the fire to watch them burn.   Rory was right.  This place was boring.

You hear a rustling come from the woods.  Slipping outside of fate, you draw your sword and watch the woods.   A bush rustles and Mei Mei appears!

“Mei Mei!”  You set your sword aside and gather the puppy into your arms.  Mei Mei licks your face raw.

Soon after, another figure emerges from the woods.   One you recognize well.

“Sasha!” Still carrying the puppy and race to meet your sister.  Sasha embraces you fiercely, almost crushing you and Mei Mei.   “I didn’t know that time was passing faster for you…”  your voice cracks as you explain.

“It’s fine.  No one is mad at you, Svante.   You are safe.  That is all that matters.”   Sasha looks you up and down and asks,  “Did your voice crack?”

“It started happening a few days ago.”  Your voice betrays you and cracks again.

Your cheeks burn as Sasha giggles.  “I know I shouldn’t laugh, but the look on your face.”

“Can we please save the children now?”  Thankfully, your voice doesn’t crack when you say this.

“Let me check them out first and then we can go.”  You and Sasha wake the children and while the Whole Children play with Mei Mei, Sasha examines the broken ones.

“Can anything be done with the ones feed on?”

Sasha places a piece of cracker in one of the broken children’s mouth and order him to chew and swallow.  “They can never really be whole again, but some recover enough to live a good life. “     When Sasha sees the tears running down your cheeks, she comes over and embraces you.

What you saw on the Float comes pouring out.  The Blue Lady and Masaru’s great grandfather.   The Fair Folk Blacksmith beating her customer.   The Desert Fox taking her child away.   “I couldn’t save them all.  There were two corpses in the cavern….the Fair Folk called it the Larder…”

“We may be the chosen of Fate, but there are some things we can’t change.   Saturn comes for all of us, but Svante, you managed to delay her for these children.  Focus on the eight you saved, not the two you didn’t.   It may seem impossible now but with time you’ll feel better.”

“When I am older.” You say, discouraged.

Sasha shakes her head.  “Sometimes after a Mission, I have doubts too.  I go back and think about what I could have done different, what I could have done better.  But in the end, it is what we managed to save that matters.  Do you understand?”

You remember the Desert Fox said.  “All the power of the stars, but we can’t save everyone.”

“But we can save these children, if we can get them to the boat.”   You call to Mei Mei and gather the children.   Sasha leads you and the children though the dark forest.  While the forest is still unnerving, it feels emptier than before.    You pass by a trebuchet that has been knocked over.   At the edge of the float, you find Wanahton and a few marines waiting by his boat.

“How much time has passed?”  Sasha asks.

“About an hour.”  Wanahton helps you on the boat.   “I don’t know how long for the Valiant Hummingbird.  I’ve been waiting for you to come back to send the messenger.“  You and Wanahton help the rest of the children on board while Sasha keeps watch.   Suddenly, the sky lights up with silver moonlight.

“Lunar Anima.”  Sasha says.    “Wanahton, make sure Svante and the rest of the children get safely back to the ship.”  She begins to walk towards the Lunar’s Anima.

What do you do?

  • Talk Sasha out of going after the Desert Fox
  • Follow Sasha when she goes after the Desert Fox
  • Stay with the children and head back to the Valiant Hummingbird
  • Other

 

75 – Time

“Take care of this!” you yell at Rory and begin to run after the rest of the children.  “Wait!”  The children keep running, heedless of your cry.  “Don’t run!”  You focus on the child in the front, the girl who was answering your questions earlier.  “Come back to me!”   You lace you words with Essence, forcing the girl to go along with your decision.  The girl pauses for a moment and looks back at you, and you focus on another child and try the same thing.  “This way!”   You wave your hand towards the hiding place behind the bushes.   The two children begin to run towards you, leading the rest of the children with them.  You count the children hiding behind the bushes and see all seven of the children are here, five whole children and two broken.

“Wait here.  I’ll be right back.”  You pull out your bandana and tie it around your forehead.  Once out of sight of the bushes, you drop out of fate.   You creep towards the cavern entrance and hear Rory talking to the Watcher.

“She of Whispering Bells gave him the power to turn his dreams into reality.  That is why you can’t eat the Envoy.   “

The Watcher grumbles, dissatisfied with Rory’s answer.   You approach the entrance of the cavern and see Rory, sword drawn, defensively standing before the Watcher.   Watcher has the broken child under one of his cat-like paws.   A random assortment of eyes are trained on Rory, while the others scan the forest.

“Reality limits our options, Watcher.  You can kill me, freeing Our Lady from her Oath to Baelor.   Then she will be free to attack the Water Dragons at her leisure, instead of at my Oath Father’s pleasure.   Yes, that would relieve your boredom, but you would just be one more foot solider among Our Lady’s army“

“Or…you, the Watcher of Many Eyes,”  Rory’s words become heavy and smooth as honey.  The Watcher’s roaming eyes focus solely on Rory.   “can join the Envoy of the Stars on his quest to rescue the children.   And after our quest, when I leave to join my Oath Father, you could be by my side.”  Rory lets his sword drop to his side and holds out his hand for the child.   “Let this child go and follow me, Watcher.   This quest is just a taste of the glories I can offer you.”

The Watcher flexes his claws as he considers Rory’s offer.   “The Envoy will finish gathering the children soon.”  Rory reminds the Watcher.   “If you delay any longer, time will make your decision for you.”

The Watcher drags the child close to his mouth and begins to lick the dirt and grim off of the child with his tongue.   You wait, hand on sword, to see what happens next.  After cleaning the child, the Watcher pushes him towards Rory with his paw.   Rory smiles and wiggles his fingers of his outstretched hand and the broken child takes it.

You return to the children and consider the conversation.  Rory said he was an Oath Child and somehow his life was connected to an Oath made by the Blue Lady to not attack the Shogunate Navy.   Why…

“Svante!”  You jump when you hear Captain Shen’s voice in your ear.  “Why did it take you so long to answer?   What have you been doing for the past few days?  Everyone is worried about you.  Please answer back as soon as you get this!  Also, if you can try to take out a few of the trebuchets. “  There is a pause in Captain Shen’s message.  “Sasha says to ignore that and just keep your head down, but I think you can handle it.”  The message ends there.

A few days!   It hasn’t been a few days, unless…. Time is moving faster in Creation than on the Barge.  That means the Valiant Hummingbird will be here soon!

“Captain Shen.   Time is moving faster for you than it is for me.   I’ve only been here for a few hours.  I have the children with me and I will try to take out the barge’s defenses.”   You end the message there and head back to the children.   You do not have much time.   All eight children are there, now with Rory and the Watcher.

What do you do?

  • Tell Rory that you don’t want the Watcher around. The Fair Folk now outnumber you.
  • Leave the children with Rory and the Watcher and go disable the Trebuchets.
  • Send Rory and the Watcher to disable the Trebuchets while you watch the children
  • Hide the children and all three of you go disable the Trebuchets.
  • Other

((Damn.  Gift of the Broken Mask has a willpower cost.  We don’t really keep track of stats, but eight willpower is a bit much.  At Essence 4, we can target Social Groups.  ))

((Fair Folk charms…  are confusing….  ))