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[Potential 3. Insecure]

Anathet teleports out of there and back to her bedroom where she had just left. She figured that blind teleports are risky, but that if she just happened to pop up somewhere that a servant or guest was standing that if she disappeared instantly, they would have a jump scare, but nobody would believe them. "Oh, look at the servant, seeing phantom thieves around every corner, we'd surely have heard if they were operating, Marianne always leaves a calling card!" So, seeing someone right in front of her face triggers her instant scuttle plan and she is out of there!

Her mind then catches up with who she actually saw, and she lets out a small exasperated sigh from the safety of her own home and teleports back, again. At least she knew the spot was safe now, since it had just been Tia and the conversation nearby hadn't remarked her on the first entry.

[Don't scare me like that!] She thinks at Tia (who hopefully either followed her through those teleports or is still there a few seconds later despite Anathet suddenly disappearing into the floor). Her thoughts are faster now, since Tia was talking in words after their last meeting, Anathet thinks in words instead of bigger images, though there's a bit of startled tiny dog falling over in her mental background. [What are you doing here? I'm trying to find out what the plans are for Shamash. Do you know where I should look?] Then a bit belatedly, Anathet realizes she's being a little rude and adds [It's good to see you, Tia].
[Potential 3. Insecure]

The Seneschal's estate had been abuzz since the news of Shamash's arrival had come out. Even Anathet had heard about it, despite spending several days on extended gardening duty (technically, Anathet had not done anything wrong, having met her deadline to Auntie Rose and not having any fault found against her in the bar, but Auntie Rose had still assigned extra work to "build character"). It had not been hard to learn about it from every visitor. She was still an attraction for those who wanted a quiet walk and some ancient Zhianku wisdom (sometimes with invisible air quotes). Everyone who had come by was like "O.M.G. Shamash is coming!" They didn't say that exactly, but close enough as far as Anathet was concerned.

She'd been keeping her ears open for news, but it wasn't obviously forthcoming. Not surprising, people didn't come to her drunk and easily manipulated, so while it was easy to soothe their frazzled nerves and remind them to take calming breathes while she raked a rock garden, it wasn't particularly easy to pry their secrets out of them.

What she had gathered, though, was that the Seneschal was at the center of the matter. So, without waiting on Marianne and Canada (who were busy doing some weird psychic dream thing that gave Anathet the creeps) she decided during the evening to sneak into the Seneschal's estate as Set. She had been there several times and figured it wouldn't be difficult to bypass the outer guards and teleport inside. She knew some shadowed corners in the library shelves that would be hidden even if others were there. Then she could make her way through and find the Seneschal or his advisors. If she was really lucky, she'd find them in their cups and sharing information, but if not at least perusing their data tablets would yield the city's plans for Shamash's arrival and appropriate treatment during his stay.
The Tale of the Loyal Scribe
By Anathet of the Zhianku

Dedication: For Auntie Rose, this story never would have existed without you

They say you meet love
in unexpected places
Doing your duty,
living a vigorous life,
Even serving, secret strife

Long ago a scribe
loyal, brave, and quick-witted
Serving on the chain
Recording with care, always
guarding the master's estate

A scribe and a spy
silent slippers pass unseen
A mind remembers,
and a quill scratches secrets
guarding the master's estate

Summer night, warm glow
betrayal by candlelight!
Loyal scribe observes
the lord's poison soon prepared
One ingredient 'til done

Abrupt departure
seeking the poison by night
The scribe but follows
silent shadow on the trail
descent to the lower wards

The poisoner, her
auburn hair dancing firelight
brighter than the sun!
Scribe took in a quiet breath
Time stopped, so too did her heart

Rash action, scattering
Scribe stumbles upon the scene
Perhaps an accident,
unknown, but no more unseen
What words passed such lonely lips?

A secret affair
nights and still more summer nights
Meetings without time
betrayal newly joined or,
a clever trick to delay?

One day, new door guard
leaving scribe remarked and seen
A scribe, quick of wit
knowing that time has ended
Rushes to her beloved

A poisoner's choice
abandon the art of death
Choose to love instead
Travel with her lovely scribe
Seek a new life, together

Quill scratches out words
The plot all revealed, laid bare
Poisoner and scribe
Loyal first to the master
Safety of the highest high

Then the two lovers
departed, their duty done
New lives still to seek
They slipped into the market
Silence carried them away

All praise loyal scribe!
whose service was dutiful
All praise the lovers!
who sought out their peace and joy
All found their place on the chain!


Author's notes
-The play may be performed by one person both reciting the lines and demonstrating various roles by use of masks. When departing as the lovers, two masks should be held together, neither entirely touching the face.
-The play may also be performed by two actors, alternating recitation, or by two actors and one independent reciter.
-Suggested musical accompaniment, if desired, is a wood block drum and a two or three-stringed shamisen


[Potential 3. Hopeless. Insecure. Afraid. Angry.]

The guards on the march home were no problem. Anathet knew that being part of the Seneschal's estate was a complete get out of jail free card. But that meant you were invoking the Seneschal's influence, and in turn the influence of people like Auntie Rose. That was dangerous because that influence was a limited thing. Embarrass the estate and its servants too often and they would find a way to make sure you were no longer in a position to embarrass them.

So, on the walk back, Anathet had been the model of behavior. Quiet and reserved, shuffling along with her careful monk's step with the guards, apologizing slowly and calmly for any inconvenience she was causing them, and assuring them that she had meant neither harm nor offense. They probably didn't care, but there was a saying among the Zhianku (yes they actually had sayings, it wasn't all an act) that rage was like fire with quick fuel. Well, that was the best translation, it was prettier in the original, with its implied imagery of a tiny flame crackling in a faraway forest, catching a bit of dry brush, flaring up, and then disappearing as quickly as it rose when it found nothing else to burn. So with Auntie Rose. If she was angry about one thing, it could be fleeting. Give her cause to rant and instead her rage would become a wildfire.

Anathet bows her head before Auntie Rose and waits several seconds when she stops speaking. That too is an act of deference, implicitly assuring Auntie Rose that Anathet will not interrupt until she is certain that Auntie Rose has no more words to add. A small sigh does escape her lips though, her control is not nearly so good and she is tired and her whole face hurts.

"I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve the Seneschal" Anathet begins, not taking the bait of implying that her personal pleasure is relevant to whether she should be allowed to serve. "Please accept my humblest apologies, Auntie." She bows formally. "I was there to buy ice cream, an Earth delicacy that I had heard was available at that location from the other servants. I was having difficulty finding inspiration for my writing and I thought that a break and special food would lead me to such inspiration. I realize this reason does not excuse my foolishness, but I wish to inform you that despite my rough treatment, I believe the errand was successful." Here she dares to look up and there is just the slightest twinkle in the shadow of her eyes. "If I am allowed to write for the remainder of the evening, I believe I could have a completed manuscript prepared for you well ahead of the deadline."
[Potential 3. Hopeless. Insecure. Afraid. Angry.]

The Annunaki don't really have protocols for handling the Zhianku, honestly, at least not the regular troops. There aren't that many Zhianku, most of them aren't particularly close to Annunaki-held space, and unless they're trying to recruit someone, they wouldn't be hostile anyway. Maybe some of the specialists know some things about dealing with Zhianku, but not the regular guards. What the guard here probably means is either
a) he's been watching way too many Annunaki dramas and thinks based on Anathet's garb that she's some kind of magical wizard monk (ignore that he's right!) and thinks he's being cool just like in the holovids.
b) There's some group that dresses like Anathet (maybe Zhianku imitators?) among the humans and other servant groups and the guards have a protocol for dealing with them.

Either way, Anathet is going through an emotional rollercoaster. The bouncer accepted! Woo! The bouncer had no idea what was about to happen! Oh no (much sadness). Anathet starting this fight was going to get the bar in trouble, maybe. Extreme sadness, and maybe the cute bouncer would end up hating her. Oh no! These guards were idiots and they were paying her extra attention! Extremely oh crap!

"No protocols, I surrender!" Anathet shouts hastily, staying on the floor and trying to put her hands up. "I belong to the Seneschal of Marduk, so uh, maybe you could just...um, take me home?" She tries to give her most innocent possible look to the janissary from under her veil. It's something like wide-eyed doe, but less about to be hit and more could I lie to you?

Inside, she's seething. Ugh, was that stupid? Should she have kept her mouth shut? She was worried they were going to beat her up or something though, so maybe telling them she belongs to the Seneschal would help. But then did she freak everyone else out? And would they even believe her?
Mila!

Aila gives you a look up and down, her mohawk bobbing just a little as she takes you in fully. You almost feel like she's staring right through you, when suddenly she snaps and fingers and goes "Ah, got it. Now I getcha. You're the set designer! Say no more, say no more. You want misdirection, well, baby we have got your misdirection right here. Oh yes!"

Suddenly she's animated, and she's walked around you and is putting a hand on your back as she guides you over to an area behind their tent. There's a big pile of explosives. There really shouldn't be this many explosives in one place. Really, really questioning how they got this many explosives into town. Is this tent larger on the inside than the outside quantities of explosives in here, is what you're looking at.

But Aila ignores most of them, shoves a few rockets off a chest, which she pulls open and inside is a series of several color and white striped rockets (some blue, some red, some green) attached to narrow poles. They aren't humongous rockets, probably not bigger than your hand, but they have a certain aura about them. "Aight, these babies here, they're designed to be set off right in front of the stage. They can do a buncha different patterns, few colors, and they're a two stage explosion so people will who don't look at first will go 'wait what?' and draw their attention. You want to distract, you could draw ship onto the stage while one of these babies is going off and the audience would be all like 'oh wow, where did that mysterious ship come from?'"

There's no way that fireworks like these are cheap, but they're truly perfect. Nobody will pay any attention to you with these, and you'll wow the show for sure. Maybe not first place, but you'd be hard pressed to miss top three with these kind of special effects. So, what are you going to do for them, Ms. Changeling?

[I'd suggest this is a good time to spend will and act suspicious. Still no XP for the moment, though you could react embattled here by saying how much you're struggling for money and how this hurts if you want.]

*****

Rinley (and Dulcy)

Rinley, you've got your gift. I'm going to call fiat and tell you that you found Dulcinea an extremely cute pink sweatshirt with glitter hearts on it unless either of you tells me otherwise. You're going to run into Dulcinea on the street, so your job here is to set the scene for us. What kind of crazy adventures did you and Sessily get up to in transit? You could just ask her for the latest gossip around town if you want too, she'll tell you en route before meeting Dulcy. But mainly tell us about how you pitch your bestest best friend for her help building a giant animatronic snake!

Dulcy, you're reacting to Rinley here, so sit tight.

*****

Jasper!

"Oh...my...god, a spoon. Use a spoon for cereal. Here!" Shokyou cannot stand watching you try to pick out fruity sugar Os one by one with chopsticks. You may be literally destroying her. Perhaps that's why she cursed you with that weird mouth thing that she said was called a yawn after she stopped giggling. Now she marches over, takes the chopsticks out of your hands and puts a spoon in them. Then takes the spoon back out, puts it in again but this time facing the right direction when you didn't fix it. Then, seeing that you're not moving fast enough, she picks up your hand, moves it into the cereal, picks some up with a little milk, and directs that to your mouth. "Just...spoon, for cereal. Which is not ramen. If you can't handle that it's...uh...cereal ramen, which everyone just calls cereal and never says the word 'ramen' got it?"

You may not have thought it was possible to agitate a Bodhisattva, but then again, that other one did race you, so maybe this is just par for the course.

After a few moments of just letting you eat, correctly (and staring), she relaxes again. "I think you should play the Cheshire cat. Um, Alice in Wonderland is about a normal girl who gets lost in a magical land and there are all sorts of different creatures she meets, like a rabbit who's always late, and some different bugs who talk to her, and the queen of hearts, who gets mad at her for, um, painting her roses wrong or something. Anyway, the Cheshire cat is kind of like her special, mystical guide. He's very mysterious, and kind of appears and disappears with just his grin, but he also kinda guides her and also he's a cat. I thought, well, you're pretty and kind of weird and mysterious so I thought it would be perfect for you!" She blushes, worried that maybe she insulted you.

[Jasper, you and Shokyou are having a shared reaction for this scene. Take 1 XP and a point of Purple (Calling) which gets you up to purple 2. This should give you the nagging feeling that something is off, like you need to do something but you've forgotten what and you want to talk about it with people, though it doesn't have to be immediate.

Also go ahead and take an emotion XP for your very kind offer to help, Shokyou appreciates it. Also, I think you did enough in suggesting that all food is some kind of Ramen to get a Mortal Life XP too.]
[Potential 3. Hopeless. Insecure. Afraid. Angry. Shockingly, the one condition not present is the one that affects provoke. 3+6+3=12]

Anathet projects a certain sort of grin into her whispered voice, the one that you can see even beneath a thick, opaque veil like hers. The one that says how much fun she's having here even while there's a part of her that's freaking out, and maybe suggests to the bouncer that if they could meet back up later, there could be even more fun!

So, the bouncer goes into it with gusto. She leaps on Anathet, who lets it happen instead of trying to roll with the blow. She goes down sideways under the bouncer. Her arm takes some of it, but the bouncer does just as asked and pushes her head down too, so it bonks on the floor and impacts around her eye and temple. Oof! That's going to be more than a black eye, she's going to have a dark olive bruise running along the side of her eye and down the cheekbone into the veil for a week. Perfect!

She's dazed for a second, but as the janissaries start to roll into the bar and break up the rest of the fighters, she whispers to the bouncer: "Name's Anat, I work on the Seneschal's place. I'm uh...gonna be stuck for a while cuz of this, but meet you at the fried tofu stall in their market for lunch in a week?"

She's still got that grin on, even if it's a bit weak from the hit, it never left her face.
[Potential 3. Hopeless. Insecure. Afraid. Angry.]

Ah, oh no! She couldn't be picked up by janissaries. She'd be in so much trouble! It would embarrass the Seneschal's estate and Auntie Rose would find out instantly even if they didn't call her to come get Anathet after it was done! Then Auntie Rose would know she was playing hookie and she'd get in so much trouble! Plus, this would completely ruin her reputation as a monk. She had to...had to make this not her fault somehow.

Ah, she had it, she could be forgiven for trying to get an ice cream sandwich if everyone thought that she had just been swept up in all this. Silly human sentimentality! The mystical Zhianku monk so caught up in her nostalgia and contemplation that she didn't even look where she was going. Oh they'd all chuckle. Auntie Rose would fume and punish her, but in a patronizing sort of way. "Oh so young still" she'd say, while assigning Anathet intensive gardening and cleaning duties that would consume her entire day and place her under supervision at the estate for the next several days or even a week. "You have potential, but you need to learn proper diligence. We can't have you getting lost in an idea and just wandering off, now can we?" Then she'd chuckle and pinch Anathet's cheek and nod knowingly to herself.

Well, there was only one thing to it, then. She turned to the bouncer and whispered: "hey, tackle me! and hit me pretty hard if you can, a black eye would be great! Please!"
[Potential 3. Hopeless. Insecure. Afraid. Angry.]

Anathet blinks as the two salamanders advance on her, their hulking upper arms looming over her. Their auras had a just awful mixture of grayish brown stupor along with tinges of red and orange as they grew angry. Oh, what had she done? What had she done? Part of her did want to just start crying. She was causing so much trouble and she'd just wanted an ice cream sandwich and to keep chatting with the cute bouncer! Yes, she was cute, shut up!

She spared a glance over to the bouncer, who was suddenly advancing herself. Was she mad, was she going to stop the Salamanders, the sleezeball, or Anathet? No time, gotta act now or else eat a punch to the face from somebody!

Billowing navy robes sweep outward with a flourish as Anathet pulls them with a practiced arm. "Sorry, sorry, I don't want any trouble" she says, using the flaring robes to block the path of most of the eight arms now coming at her. It's not that they'll stop anything, they're just cotton robes, but all that fabric is hard to see through, easy to get tangled up and forget where the little person is in the midst of all of it. And Anathet, well, she was very experienced at fighting as the shortest person around.

She bends her knees and moves with a low stride that drops her shoulders down lower than the robes. Her forward movement then pulls them downwards just as a few of those salamander fists get caught up in them. Now, you'd think with four arms that the salamanders would be free to still hit her, but up close like this with a couple arms pulled out of position, they have to be careful not to cross themselves up. A reckless punch or two and they'd throw their balance off, just like the sleezy guy.

"Seriously, no trouble, let's just all be friends, okay?" Anathet says, stepping into the Salamander furthest from the door with a low shoulder into her knee. She's got one arm down trying to pull out of the cloak, another two trying to swipe at Anathet at two different spots, and she just goes right over in a half circle. This, unfortunately, sends her into a couple humans trying to stay near the bar and avoid the whole thing and pulls Anathet further into the establishment. But, she's out and moving away from the second Salamander even as the bouncer closes on that position. Hopefully her backup dancer has this taken care of!
[Potential 3. Hopeless. Insecure. Afraid. Angry.]

Anathet glanced back towards the door. She had kind of hoped, well, what had she been hoping exactly? That the bouncer would walk with her up to the bar? Like, what, her mom?! What was she, five, did she need someone to hold her hand? She felt blood start rushing to her cheeks and she was sure a blush was appearing underneath her veil. Ugh, no that was dumb, stop being dumb, Anathet! But the bouncer kind of had held out her hand and that had been cool and nice even as a trick. So now she'd made a fool of herself but got close to the bouncer and her mind was swirling and she really hoped that in the poor lighting and with her big hat that nobody could see how red she was. She wanted to sink into the floor, but that was a terrible line of thought because she could and that just made her want to do it more!

So, she was glancing backwards and thinking about how she didn't know what to think without paying attention when the smarmy idiot tripped her. He goddsdamn tripped her! Pulled her right out of her reverie before she got sweets or was done looking back and right mid-blush! She was practically all tangled up inside herself and some fucking jerk tripped her. Oh how she wished she had Marianne's super strength!

Anathet let out a sound that was something like a soft growl and settled for leverage instead. She'd just dueled an inquisator's lynx yesterday, step off fool! Being short, she had a low center of gravity and this idiot was already bending over to get close to her. So, all she had to do was let herself pull backwards and his weight fell right over hers. It pulled her hat off, but also sent him into a face-first tumble right over her back and into the wooden floorboards. Probably with a slide forward into some folks near the bar with all that momentum.

The hat coming off pulled loose Anathet's hair, some it flowing into her neck and shoulders as a few loose strands bounced and curled around her ears and over her cheeks like little vines. Embarrassingly, her remaining dark blush was visible for all to see, and she had to grab to make sure her veil wasn't loosened!

She gave the idiot a kick when he landed, pushing his legs off the long fabric of her robe, which she promptly yanked up without a word, then reached down for her hat while trying not to take her eyes off the bouncer or flinch, cry, or blush even worse. This was so embarrassing!
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