Into the World After
- After you get semi-kicked in the chest and Xiao Fa slips the ring on your finger, everything goes dim, and then darker, and finally, everything is a strange dark grey, though you still seem to be able to see.
- You're walking in a direction, and other people start to join you as you walk along - at first a few, then the crowd begins to thicken. There are things that aren't people, as well - there seems to be money in the crowd, and wild and domestic animals, and even a few stuffed toys. You walk for hours, maybe days, it's hard to tell.
- The animals are greeted by hooded shapes; the money and toys are carefully rounded up by things with clipboards and taken elsewhere.
- Another shape, indeterminate in a grey hood, approaches you; it bears a clipboard in its hands. It reads from the clipboard in a drab grey voice.
- "Foon Lijuan, age fifteen. Kicked by a horse and subsequently murdered by Han Xiao Fa. No surviving ancestors, no descendants. Please come this way for judgement and classification of your soul."
"Foon? Really? That's my name? Neat! But I think I'm at least 17."
Then after the rest of the paragraph sinks in:
"Oh, it's OK. I'm not staying. Where would you like me to wait?"
Lijuan bows very politely to the man with the clipboard. I hope her hands are clean!
- "Please come this way."
By now, Lijuan is worried about getting stuck wherever she is and is trying to drag out whatever process she's part of until she wakes up or understands more of what's going on.
- You can make a Resolve roll with Strong Willed and Survival (heh) for general overall stalling-ness.
- You are shown into a small grey room, with a chair, a table, and some odd items on the table.
Lijuan, is, of course, curious about the odd items. She will interject questions about them into the ensuing descriptions. ("What's that?" "Is that a thing for cleaning horse feet?" etc.)
- "That is an offset balance to measure the tensile strength of your character."
"Ooh. I'm not strong like Wei Han or the Strongman, but everyone says I have character!"
- In the room is another grey being with a clipboard, who nods perfunctorily to you, and says "Please describe your six most notable deeds."
"You know I'm not staying, right? They told you that? Is this the waiting room?"
- "This room is where your soul will be judged and classified. You will not be staying in this room."
"Oh good. I have to get back home soon. Takanata Sama will worry."
"Um, six deeds. What do you mean notable? Like, someone might remember me taking a shirt off their clothesline, but that's not what I want to be notable for. So, um, is it OK if I just give you stuff I'm proud of like? Or did you want..." She goes on at great length, only occasionally pausing for answers.
"Well, this one time we were in the camp at night and Anto ran off to chase a bandit. And I ran after him and Anto caught the bandit and then I tied him up with some string. The bandit, not Anto. I always carry string in my pocket, because you never know when it will come in handy. Would you like a pork bun? (Lijuan offers up a lump of something from one of her pockets, assuming she still has pockets.)
"Anyway, I took the bandit back to camp but Anto kept going and even though he left a trail to follow nobody looked for it so he got in trouble for leaving when he came back. ...
Lijuan goes on to spin out the whole tale of how she reformed Reiko's gang of bandits prior to the fight with the Shadow; that's one of her notable deeds. She throws in an account of the fight with the Shadow for good measure.
- It's sort of odd. You seem to be taking very very long telling these stories, but you're not sure how much actual time is passing. Normally you'd be able to tell because you'd be getting hungry or (if you were hunting) you could count your breaths or heartbeats, but neither of those seems to be working.
She tells similarly lengthy and digression-full stories about:
- Following Kuan-Xi's carriage to rescue her from the Bad Guy.
- Helping Yoshi not eat spiders (Given Yoshi's penchant for why-do-you-do-thising supernatural villains, this is a particularly lengthy deed.)
- Protecting the Children for Crane ("Can I go home now? Crane's going to be grumpy if I get stuck here and can't keep taking care of the children.")
- (This one seems to get the most check marks of the stories you tell)
- Making friends with Kawaii, her *very own* panda, and all of the other pandas on the mountain who came and rescued her when...
- Taking care of the Circus animals especially the elephant on the spire. ("You see, Pir-Pir wanted some elephants for a surprise for the party, and so...")
4 successes of wisdom with showmanship (10 9 8 6 5).
(These seem to be more tales of her achievements than "notable deeds", but I don't think Lijuan notices the discrepancy.)
- The being uses one limb to make notes on the clipboard as Lijuan talks (assuming she says something), and reaches out another spindly limb to take something out of Lijuan's chest.
Oh, that's no good! Lijuan tries to dodge, figuring that her fast talk is neither good nor fast enough to prevent Really Bad Things. 5 successes (8 8 7 7 5 3 3 1).
- The being's initial reaching is thwarted. It says "Please be still. Disrupting the classification and judgement of your soul will result in a loss of adjudicated merit."
"But you don't understand! I'm not staying here I'm going back home soon and I'll be in big trouble if I don't and it's all planned and ready and you're ruining everything!" Lijuan bursts into tears, incidentally blocking access to whatever part of her he was reaching for.
- "You would be more appropriately concerned with a loss of adjudicated merit, which will result in "trouble" in your future rather than your past." Still holding the clipboard, the being reaches out a limb towards Lijuan's chest, and another reaches around towards her back.
- (You can split your dice to dodge again...)
2 and 5 successes on the split dodge.
- As you're leaping backwards to try to cover your back, you leave your front open, and it delicately plucks out something that looks like a grey soap bubble full of smoke.
Lijuan asks "will I get it back after?"
- "Yes. It is to be measured and assayed, not consumed."
- It weighs the soap bubble on a balance (it apparently weighs a little more than four small tokens), measures its bounciness in some sort of pincer-thing, puts two hooks through it (in that widget you were asking about) to measure its stretchiness. After each measurement, it tsks resignedly and makes some notes on the clipboard.
- Then it hands it back to you. "You will wish to retain this."
Lijuan is much relieved.
- It goes over its clipboard and adds some things up.
- "You have performed adequately virtuously with the time and resources allotted to you, though your progress towards enlightenment has been negligible. Perhaps some cycles in the room of colored threads will provide proper growth enrichment. After some time in the room of sharp and cleansing pumice water, I think."
- "Please come this way."
- (Total time elapsed so far: 4 stalls + 2 scenes)
"Can we do the colored threads first? I wouldn't want to leave without a chance to progress towards enlightenment!"
Remembering where she is, Lijuan wipes her hands on her clothes again and bows:
"Thank you, um, Honored Being, for your, um, time and effort."
- She gets another check mark on the clipboard for that.
A Second Bureaucrat
- The being starts heading further into the maze of little cubicles and rooms, with Lijuan following.
Lijuan is lagging a bit behind because she's trying to figure out how to put the soap bubble back where it came from.
- After some hapless fussing around, it seems to vanish. You *think* you popped it back in, but you really can't tell. It's not on the ground, at least.
"Um, Honored Being Sama? Is it supposed to do that? Did I break it?"
- "Yes. No, you have not the power to destroy it."
Lijuan pauses briefly to bow. "Thank you. You are much better at answering questions than Master Zhou."
- Off in the distance behind you, you hear something along the lines of (mumble mumble foon lijuan mumble mumble), but the being in front of you is paying it no mind.
"Huh? What? I'M OVER HERE!" Lijuan keeps glancing back toward the source of the voice and waving her arms over her head, but tries not to lose sight of her guide. (Maybe she can drag out the trip to the room of sharp and cleansing pumice a little longer? That really doesn't sound pleasant.)
- You can make another Resolve roll to stall, this one for 8s, as it's starting to feel more natural to go along with the flow of the grey beings and the other people being herded...
Cleansing pumice is a powerful motivator! 3 successes (5 dice, 3 skill, Results are: 9 8 5 3 1).
- You trundle along very stallingly (you're finding it hard to actually go *backwards* against the flow), and the being in front of you starts to make notes on his clipboard in a somewhat disapproving fashion.
- You're just getting to a larger room from which sounds of grinding and sloshing are coming, when a shorter, stockier grey-robed being bustles up behind.
- "This one is returning. Foon Lijuan, murdered by Han Xiao Fa and then resurrected by same."
- Your being looks vaguely cross.
Lijuan carefully keeps her expression neutral.
- "Resurrected? Most irregular. It is not yet time for her rebirth. Her po-soul has not even been cleansed of its worldly encrustation."
- The shorter being shrugs. "You're right, she doesn't look terribly clean. But it's right here." It brandishes a clipboard at the taller being.
Lijuan peers at her hands again, scrubs them hard on her clothes, then brushes off and straightens those clothes.
- The taller being notes that *its* protocol forms indicate that its charge should be taken to the room of sharp and cleansing pumice water for cleansing.
- The shorter being says "Well, all right, we can take her *to* the sharp pumice water, but then she really does need to head back out. And the cleansing is just an 'until such time', not a fixed duration. So that's all right."
- The taller being sighs through what might be its nose. "Very well."
- The two beings take you to what looks like a very unpleasant bath full of sharp grindy rocks, and then the taller being sighs again, and the shorter being says "There we go. Mine now. Come this way, Foon Lijuan murdered by Han Xiao Fa."
Lijuan bows politely to the taller being. "I'm sorry if I was trouble for you. The colored string sounds really keen; Perhaps we'll revisit this later." (She's clearly quoting someone -- Takanata? -- in that last sentence.) She then bows to the new being.
- The taller being turns away, and then turns back and says "I trust you will remember the oblivion."
- The shorter being draws itself up, somewhat affronted. "You needn't be insulting."
- The shorter being leads you back the way you came (somewhat against the flow of traffic, but it's easier when you're following the little being). It is muttering to itself about "of course" and "just because he is an eighth-dan processor..." and seems to be a bit distracted.
- You get close to a passage that seems to lead to somewhere upwards and brighter, and there are very few people going this way. There is another being with a clipboard, double checking names against his clipboard and apparently making sure only authorized beings go this way.
- The short being hands you a deep darker-than-black sticky-looking smoke bubble, saying "Take this first, of course. Can't have you telling tall tales."
- The short being still looks a bit distracted and grumpy, so you have the opportunity to discard your oblivion if you so choose, with a sufficient dexterity+distract roll and a karma point.
Lijuan gets 4 successes of pocketing the sticky ball while the creature isn't looking. (Yes it would be cleverer to hide it in a potted plant, but Lijuan is *curious* about it!)
- (Pocketing it does not require a karma, and you can do so)
- The short being clears you with the new being, who double checks your name is on the list (it is: Foon Lijuan, ressurected by Han Xiao Fa). The door guard nods you forward. "There you go, that way."
- Forward in the brightness is a doorway - incredibly bright on the other side, or perhaps just incredibly dim where you are.
- As you pass into the brightness, you feel the sticky blackness start to expand and diffuse in your pocket, shifting from black to not-anything-at-all, and you start to feel your memories of this whole thing slipping away...
- (Discarding it at this point requires a sufficient dex+escape roll, but now three karma)
3 karma and 5 successes on a dex roll with escape later...
- You manage to scrape off the expanding sticky oblivion on the doorframe as you pass through it into the brightness, and wake up with a gasp in Iron Mountain, as Xiao Fa has just taken the ring off your finger. There seems to be an open grave that you've been dug out of...
- Lijuan remembers her surname, and everything else that happened.