|"Preserve your memories, they're all that's left you."|| The run begins shortly before the first day of spring, the Day of the Early Tiger in the month of the Tiger in the second Year of the Spider since the ascension of the High Warlord Ze.|
The run takes place mostly in the Forest of Chin.
Meditation on Memories
Master Zhou has been wondering on whether he can learn anything of his missing memories from the World Above, and decides that Xiao Fa also needs to learn about his missing memories. He borrows the Great Talisman of the Butterfly from Takanata, and brings Xiao Fa with him to the Gardens of Harmonious Contemplation, where he meditates and hopes for enlightenment.
Instead of the particular enightenment he seeks, he realizes that what he should be doing is going to the Forest of Chin to walk in the woods and seek spirits/demons during the Night of Gates (often, during the change between the seasons, and coming soon).
Master Zhou asks around to see if anyone else is interested in coming and seeking forgotten things - between people who are interested in the idea and people who are willing to come along on any mad plan, he gets quite a few takers.
Anto finds an entry in his book regarding how to find forgotten memories from spirits:
Once everyone is set, the group heads to the Forest, bringing a night-time picnic, and sets out on their individual quests. As it turns out, it is more difficult than expected to tell which sort of spirit is which, but most people can make a good guess at which things are memories, which are things meant to cause pain, and which are things that they want to hear.
Things Forgotten, and Other Things
- (Anto) Would you know a memory, forgotten by the Unbinder?
- In the northern Taiga, where the green glimmers like moonlight even on the sunniest of days and the bamboo grows fast enough that its wind splinters even into the World Above, there is a buried stone, deep and dark and sunken cold. Once every year or three or none in the circle of greengrowing stems, one comes, and binds an ancestor ghost. The memory is very confusing and non-human, but you think it's something Amikiri meant to deal with but never got around to.
- (Lijuan) Would you know how to save all the children who need protection?
- Learn the names and sigils for spirits and demons, and tattoo each child with a different name, surrounded with praises. Protective demons, in particular, are likely to meddle strongly to protect such a one.
- (Lijuan) Would you know how your parents discarded you?
- They were on the run from those who would kill them, and travelling with children was preventing them from hiding as well as they might. They left you and your sister at House Sung, promising to return, but never meaning it.
- (Lijuan) Would you know how your parents were murdered?
- Your family had come to take refuge at House Sung -- Lord Sung wasn't completely happy about that, but there were favors owed. You had been there for only a few months, when an attack came. There was shouting, and guards running around -- but you now suspect that it was only a distraction, for the ninjas. You hid in a cupboard, and saw them decloak to strike down your parents -- and your sister, and the young daughter of Lord Sung that she was huddled with in fright. You heard the ninja talking, congratulating themselves, as they left -- parents, two daughters, that was the last of the line. You closed your eyes, trying to pretend that if you couldn't see it, it wasn't true...
- (Merit) Would you know where the Talisman of the Spider is?
- Ando knows where it is and how to get it. He'll never tell you, though, not without being forced to it...
- (Merit) Would you know of the woman you lost?
- Her name was Cuixi, and she was a spy for the Hon'eth Arcade. There was a series of ops when you were both in the Forest of Chin, and you saved each other's life enough that you were starting to keep score. Then you thought she was playing you, and you seduced her to ask, but she was seducing *you* because she thought the same thing, and, well, you were both surprised and pleased to learn that there weren't any ulterior motives yet. The two of you ended up joking about getting married and working for one country or the other as a team - and then started talking about it more seriously. You kept bickering about which country it would be, up until the wedding day - the last thing you decided was that you would tally up who had *really* saved the other one more often, and use that score. Then, an hour after you were married, she was shot by crossbowmen from a carriage, by men working for the Ghost. You... kind of fell apart for a while after that, until your bosses gave you an ultimatum - get back into the work, or resign. You got back into the work, recklessly so - and as chance would have it, ended up tipping the Ghost into a volcano on the Shrouded Isle a few months later. Even so, after that, you were probably taking more risks than you really should have, and that led to the magical blowup a year later, after which you retired. (In retrospect, you can remember instances where your friends realized that the accident had wiped all memory of Cuixi, and decided not to tell you).
- (Merit) Would you know who betrayed you?
- There are ways in which the game of houses, the game of countries, is a lot more like the metaphor than the casual observer would realize. The Queen doesn't actually *know* how to play chess, but she makes the moves randomly in the hopes that they'll just work out anyway - only about half of the time does that work out for her. You were sacrificed as part of a gambit to try to lure a cabal of mages to the Butterfly Kingdom - as it turned out, you can't actually move the pieces that way, so it didn't end up working. Oh well.}
- (Hana) Would you know of the very first time you saw your twin?
- It's a strange, fuzzy memory, made by a baby without good visual focus and without much control over where they're looking, but even with all those limitations, you can remember the shock of me/not-me realization that hit you even then. There's *always* been that bond of sameness and difference between you, for as long as you've been alive. (You may have +1 temporary skill, usable by whichever twin you are currently, in something that the other twin has more skill in.)}
- (Hana) Would you know how to let your twin have their own life not trapped with you?
- (did not open)
- (Hana) Would you know who sold you to the Southrons?
- (did not open)
- (Cai Wen) Would know you what the first game you played was?
- You remember, as a young boy, playing a game with your mother, over the course of several weeks. You and she took turns making up rules, starting with a card game and adding colored stones, and Mah-jongg tiles, until it was crazily, hilariously complicated. There was a lot of giggling, and she was never so beautiful as when she was laughing. Whenever someone forgot a previously-added rule, there were Forfeits that had to be paid, sometimes things like an extra sweet after dinner, sometimes kisses and tickling. By the time you left home, she was older, and older and tired is how you tend to remember her - it is good to have this memory of a younger, warmer time.
- (Cai Wen) Would you know the way to win any game, once?
- The greatest of racehorses, the greatest of fighting-cocks, the most victorious of each creature which competes, has been gifted by its patron spirit with a heart beyond all others. If you consume such a heart, then whatever competition you engage in next, you cannot lose. (This is also true of always-victorious people, if you want to try that.)
- (Shen-Ji) Would you know of a day with your sister?
- You were both toddlers, brought down to the marketplace well as your mother came to gossip and visit her friends. On the way there, you and your sister fought, as you always did, until your mother both threatened to drown you both in the well (she never meant it!) or buy you sweet buns if you could only please just get along for an hour. Once there, there were other neighborhood children, yelling and shouting, and one of them pushed you down. Instants later, he was in the dirt, your sister sitting on him with her chubby fist twisted in his hair. No one was allowed to pick on you but her.
- (Shen-Ji) Would you know how to master two elements at once?
- If you would master wood while not losing metal, you must take a thin skewer of wood, and pierce your heart with it. As long as the skewer is there but you are not dead (that last bit is the tricky part) you can control both your own element and the element that you have made part of yourself. (Substitute other elements for wood here as needed.)
- (Shen-Ji) Would you know how you will die?
- Your sister will soon become fated to kill you. You might not actually die that way, if someone kills her first.