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Fox Hunt

Sook is waiting at the gate,looking much like a wind wracked tree in winter,leaning on a fresh piece of fellwood

Yukio approaches the gate silently. "Where's Mou-Shendu?", he says in a slightly annoyed tone.

Sook looks left,then right,then at yukio...he shrugs

Yukio sighes...

Mou-Shendu appears at on the path from the school. He is walking quickly but gracefully.

(1) Yeled: The main gate of the school is a large, double, circular door of stout wood. It leads out into the village proper and is currently guarded by Si Pat, who is growing increasingly agitated as the senior students gather around him.

Sook nods to mou shendu

Yukio: "shall we then?"

Mou-Shendu nods a greeting to Sook, than nods an answer to Yukio. "lets".

Aspirant Si Pat is somewhat of a meek fellow. "Um, wait," says the young student. "Why are you leaving the compound?"

Sook doesn’t respond ,instead simply turns and walks out of the gate, nodding and mumbling a low, "hullo, si pat" as he passes...he always acknowledges the guard on duty, even the lowliest aspirant

Aspirant Si Pat shifts uneasily. "Wait! You're supposed to state your business in the city!"

Sook stops at the question, and thinks for a moment, before replying...

Sook: "top secret" Sook turns and walks on

Mou-Shendu smiles at Si Pat. "He's right. We are on a mission from Master Li, and that is as much as we should say.""

Aspirant Si Pat looks unsatisfied by the answer and seems to want to respond...but he doesn't seem able to gather the nerve.

Yukio turns, with an evil smirk slowly making its way acrosss his face. "We could tell you, but then we'd have to kill you."

Mou-Shendu turns and heads out through the gate, tugging on Yukio's sleeve as he goes.

Sook hangs a right outside of the gate, and simply walks through the bush...or so it seems, it appears there is a path here

Aspirant Si Pat half flinches at the suggestion, even though he clearly understands its not true. He steps back and allows you to pass without more questions, although he still looks uneasy about it.

Yukio follows Mou-Shendu

(1) Aspirant Si Pat: ((I should point out that Two Rivers is a walled community. The school is located on a hill on the far west side of the village. It is walled, but so is the village. So you left the school walls and entered the village))

(1) Yeled: The Master Li’s School of Enlightenment and Martial Arts is situated on the edge of the tiny village of Two Rivers, more of a meeting place for nearby farmers, fishermen, and merchants than a full-fledged town. The town itself lies nestled in the fertile marshlands between two waterways, serving as a small oasis of civilization set apart from the endless fields of the Golden Delta and the bandit and ghost-infested marshland nearby. Both the school and the village are situated on the side of a hill that rises above the two water ways and the lower marshlands that surround the village.

Sook leads you all down a short path, which lets out behind what smells like a baked goods maker...wonderful what appears to be an alleyway in the food district of two expect the smells to get progressively worse as you go near the water, and the fish…and the gate

(1) Yeled: ((The food district, by the way, is probably like four stalls, a tavern, and this bakery.))

Sook: ((yep, and into the fish market, heh. has to be a fish mongery. lots of fish. i bet the trio have stolen our share of goods from this bakery, heheh))

(1) Yeled: ((only if you call a cart with some fish on it a fish mongery...its not exactly the ocean side here...most of the fish are carp and river trout) Prax: ((Catfish and eel)) (1) Yeled: ((right...Prax's got it))

Yukio: "We had to go this way Sook?"

(1) Yeled: The main Two Rivers gate is not as nicely designed as the school gate. It is simply a portion of the wall that swings open wide enough to allow carts to pass. What lies beyond, as you all know, is a thin path of dirt that rises a few feet above the marshlands. The walls of Two Rivers are built on an embankment of earth to keep the marsh water from eroding the wood. Since most travel from Two Rivers is done by barge and raft, the road isn't so great

Mou-Shendu: "So..., how far did you track our intruder last night, Tetsuko?", he asks as they walk.

(1) Yeled: ((it probably would have been easier to jump the wall, since now you have to walk all the way around the village and back up the hill on the western're currently on the east side...yes, yes, I didn't know geography. To get back to the hill, you'll have to trudge through the marsh along the embankment.))

Sook: Sook shrugs after a few long moments. "I tracked her till she became a fox"

Yukio: "Well, lead on then."

Mou-Shendu does not reply to this, but keeps on following.

Yukio follows as well

Sook is following a trail he seems to know well...but to call it a deer trail would be too amazes you how such a large man can make such a small impact on the environment

(1) Yeled: Although you're not walking through deep water, the earth is spongy and soft and your feet sink into it as water rushes in to fill the space around your feet. Once you are on the hill, however, the earth becomes somewhat more dry and more firm.

Sook is, as usual, sans shoes, his huge bony feet slicing through the mud like skates

Mou-Shendu rolled up the legs of his robe before they enter the water, and now walks barefoot in the soft, cold mud.

Sook eventually leads you up to the outside of the wall to the school, and he begins walking along the area that is kept clear beneath it, until he gets to some point you dont see, and stops

Yukio looks down at his now wet and muddy shoes... "It had better be where she went sook"

Sook: "this is where she went"

(1) Yeled: ((Everyone roll Perception + Survival))

Sook turns into the bush at the point he indicated, and begins moving along the trail...slightly more noticable, since the three of them charged down it and back the night before

Mou-Shendu: [4d10.vs(7)] => [9,4,7,5] = (2) Sook: [7d10] => [10,4,8,8,8,7,2] = (47) Yukio: [3d10.vs(7)] => [7,3,7] = (2)

(1) Yeled: The trail through the grassy and semi-wooded hillside that Sook, Kaimi, and Dawn Star left is clearly visible to all three of you. However, only Sook can see the more subtle prints they were following and the place where the woman's soft steps became those of a fox.

Sook stops suddenly, pointing obvious the three of them went no further, however, you don’t see what he is pointing at

Sook: "this is where her prints became know...a fox"

Mou-Shendu neels down to inspect the ground.

Yukio holds his stance, awaiting Sook's next action.

Mou-Shendu rises. "Can you take us further down the trail?", he asks Sook.

Sook is leaning on his stick, his face the usual, passive, almost bored look. Sook nods "sure...the trail is quite obvious"

Sook bends down as he moves on through the brush

Mou-Shendu follows him, enjoying the serenity of the woods.

Sook moves with near silence through the foliage...he has always moved quietly, you would have noticed that by now...but he is near silent, even with the leaves so abundant

(1) Yeled: The trail darts from tree to tree and through the tall grass, even going through a hollow log at one point, but it moves along a fairly straight line along the hill side and away from the school before taking a rather sharp turn and heading directly toward the village.

Sook stops when he sees where it’s going, and frowns slightly, looking off at the village through the break between the bush and tree

(1) Yeled: It’s not heading, as far as you can tell, down the hill toward the marsh. Instead it’s heading directly for the village wall.

Sook moves forward, and checks the wall at the bush line...this spot near any guard towers or outposts?

(1) Yeled: There are no guard towers or outposts.

Mou-Shendu stops, then looks around the giant of a man that is Sook toward the village. He frowns.

Mou-Shendu: "We're headed back?", he asks rhetorically.

Sook: ((ok,well,there needs to be some way to see over the wall.....heh,or maybe a patrol...basically,how good a place would this seem,if one wanted to sneak in(no larceny,but do have 3 stealth))

Sook thinks deeply for a moment,then two...then three....

Yukio looks down at his still wet and muddy boots. Then at the village. He releases a long sigh.

Sook: "she went that way",he points to the wall

Mou-Shendu: "Let's keep following the trail", prods Mou-Shendu.

(1) Yeled: Most of the buildings in the village are built right up against the walls or very close to them. It’s not exactly a bustling town, either, especially at night. It would really be no problem to sneak in most anywhere in the dark. Even in the day you'd have a decent chance.

Sook thinks about that, then nods, and walks up to the wall, "you want I should know.......go around?" Sook looks at mou shendu quizzically

Mou-Shendu: "The trail definitely goes back over the wall, then?"

(1) Yeled: They aren't designed to keep an exalt out, that's for sure. They can, however, slow down a troupe of bandits. The trail goes to the wall and seems to disappear

Sook shrugs

Sook: "it the wall" Sook points to where the last track is, a fox track, as if it were walking and the wall wasn’t there. Sook points at the wall

(1) Yeled: ((roll per + survival again, sook)) Sook: [7d10] => [8,4,2,4,4,2,5] = (29)

Sook: "cant track up a wall"

Mou-Shendu bends down to look for loose stones or mud left on the wall.

(1) Yeled: the wall is made of wood. there doesn't seem to be mud, though

Sook waits a moment, then when nobody says anything, "if she can turn into a fox, maybe she can walk through the wall"

Sook: "but then,she would know...done that at the school"

Mou-Shendu: "Let's climb this, then." he says, gesturing at the wall. "The villagers know us all here".

Sook scratches his head at the seam of his plate, and when he scrapes it, the sound has an easy, sand papery tone to it

Sook nods and offers his hand to help the man up...he can about lift you to the top

Mou-Shendu excepts the boost, peering over the wall be climbing over completely.

Mou-Shendu: *before*

Sook then offers the same to yukio

Yukio uses Incense Smoke Ladder to quickly sprint up the side of the wall, and jump over the top.

Sook then grabs the top of the wall, and boosts up onto it, then drops over the other side

Yukio: "Well...?"

(1) Yeled: You find yourselves above the thatched roof of a rather large building and its easy to see the entire village, with its two streets, from here. As you pull yourself onto the roof itself you disturb a large black rook that seems to have settled in for a nice morning nap. It squawks angrily before lifting into the air and sailing across the village to a large tree in the center of town.

(1) Yeled: You also can see the school and the masses of students training. You can even make out a group of students in the sparring ring. Its probably not a real contest on the Way of the Closed Fist, as you would have known about that and more students would be watching. But the fight seems to be a good one from the small amount of attention its getting.

Mou-Shendu watches the bird a moment with narrow eyes.

Sook drops to the ground and begins looking for the trail...but not expecting to see fox prints

(1) Yeled: ((roll Perception + Investigation, sook)) Sook: [4d10] => [5,6,9,9] = (29) (1) Yeled: ((no sign of any tracks, other than a lot of foot prints in the dusty street))

Mou-Shendu: "We cannot trust the animals are not the one we seek", he comments, softly.

Sook looks at mou shendu as if he were looking through them, "we cannot distrust all animals....there are too many"

(1) Yeled: A large billy goat with four horns bahs angrily as sook startles it, and it walks quickly away from him.

Sook turns to the others, "no way to tell who is who"

(1) Yeled: A cat sits perched on the window sill above Sook and stares at him knowingly.

Sook: "may as well go back and tell master li"

Mou-Shendu: "No." he agrees after long moments. "We cannot mistrust everyone, either."

(1) Yeled: A large pig in a sty, with tusks the size of Yukio's Tonfas, wallows greedily in the mud and snorts in agreement at Mou-Shendu's comment.

Mou-Shendu: "Or we can talk to the villagers."

Sook shrugs

Sook: "we could do that"

Mou-Shendu: "But first..." Mou-Shendu climbs down to the street. He walks around the building, inspecting it for other signs of climbing down.

Sook waits with the pig, and pets the cat when it comes down and stretches before him

(1) Yeled: ((roll Perception + Investigation)) Mou-Shendu: [7d10.vs(7)] => [8,4,6,2,5,1,4] = (1) (1) Yeled: ((no sign of any downward climbing...other than your own))

Mou-Shendu: "Let's see if there's any gossip at the general store this day."

Sook follows mou shendu, ducking under any doorframes and being his usual, quiet self

Yukio follows along as well.

(1) Yeled: The village is small, but every morning this time of year it comes alive as farmers come in from the surrounding areas to deposit their rice at the warehouse near the dock and then make their way to the general store for any necessary supplies. There's a lot of happy greetings between friends who don't see a lot of each other when they're out on their farms, and the women folk come in for tea and to purchase cloth and other necessary goods. The actual townsfolk use this opportunity to make what little money from the farmers they can, although its usually not a lot. The blacksmith Yar Tauwg is probably the busiest person in town, as everyone needs his services and he's the only smith for a long way.

(1) Yeled: The general store is owned by Hu Perr, an white haired man old enough to remember well the time of the great drought. He and his wife, Lis, are quite busy filling the orders of customers who have filled the small, one-room store and are actually spilling out the front as they wait to get in.

Mou-Shendu: ((I assume we know most everyone here...))

(1) Yeled: ((You know them to varying degrees, yeah. There are no strangers in Two Rivers, except for those who pass through on the barges and carry goods to and from town.))

Mou-Shendu scans the crowd of accessible people for a good source of information: ideally someone who would be in the know, but not bog him down with gossip about the local townsfolk.

(1) Yeled: Most of the people here are rice farmers from outside of town. People who know what happens in the town on a daily basis are more likely to be the townfolk. And they aren't exactly chomping at the bit to visit Hu Perr's store right now.

Sook stands behind mou shendu, looking bored, and managing to meekify himself down to the point that he actually blends in, even being a giant

(1) Yeled: ((ok, then pick a random farmer)) Mou-Shendu: ((Okay, sounds good...)) Yukio: ((Is desperately hoping he picks the farmer that doesnt know shit)) Prax: ((And you pick Angry Farmer)) (1) Yeled: ((I'll roll for his personality using my random farmer personality table found in the Storyteller's Companion))

Mou-Shendu: "Good morning", he says, to start a conversation (selecting someone he knows halfway decently).

(1) Exhausted Farmer: "Mmmm," grunts the extremely tired farmer you have selected.

Mou-Shendu: ((I didn't want exhausted farmer!)) (1) Exhausted Farmer: ((He's the one you knew the best.)) Prax: ((He was selected by a careful matching of the personality traits listed on your Ideal Farmer form)) (1) Exhausted Farmer: ((he has a red beard if that makes you feel better)) Prax: ((Remember there are no refunds for using

Mou-Shendu: "Busy season, huh?"

Mou-Shendu: ((What's he grow?)) (1) Exhausted Farmer: ((rice, like the rest of them)) Sook: ((potatoes....yes, the rice farmers called him crazy, but he is a rebel!)) (1) Exhausted Farmer: ((I was going to give him a stalk of hay to chew on but couldn't reconcile it with the marshland)) Sook: ((he has a red beard, after all)) (1) Exhausted Farmer: ((hay)) Mou-Shendu: ((give him a reed))

(1) Exhausted Farmer: "Yeah, very busy. If I don't get all my rice out of the water and down to town its all gonna rot. But I need some feed for the ox, ya know. And all I wanna do is lay down and take a nap," Exhausted Farmer says through the reed between his teeth.

Mou-Shendu: "Well, hopefully you'll get your break before too long."

(1) Exhausted Farmer: "Its not so easy for us farmers, ya know. Not like it is for you students training all day at that school of yours. Not until the Season of Air, and then its gonna get too cold for real resting."

Mou-Shendu: "I'm sure you're right. As I understand it, the life of a rice farmer is very hard work. But at night, even the rice farmers must rest." Mou-Shendu offers a warm smile.

(1) Exhausted Farmer: "What are you getting at?" Exhausted Farmer looks strangely at Mou-Shendou.

Sook buy a piece of fruit, and sits and eats it slowly, as he waits for mou shendu to talk

Mou-Shendu 's smile fades. "I am looking for a woman who may be staying here in the village. I was hoping to find her whereabouts, and was wondering if you may have heard anything. I understand her dress is very dark, and would look quite out of place here."

(1) Exhausted Farmer: "Oh, sure, I know who you mean," he says nonchalantly.

Mou-Shendu: "Yes?..."

(1) Exhausted Farmer: "Yeah," he repeats. "How can you miss her?"

Yukio blinks

Mou-Shendu: "Well, as you said, us students are always busy practicing behind the school walls. Can you fill us in?"

Exhausted Farmer shrugs. "I suppose she's still down by tea house garden. She was there when Mrs. Exhausted Farmer stopped off for tea, at least. Looked like she was meditating or something. I figured she wasn't going to move for a while, and no one is likely to have disturbed her."

Mou-Shendu claps him on the shoulder. "Thanks for the help. Good luck with the harvest." He bows politely, then turns to go. Mou-Shendu beckons for the others to follow as he heads toward the Tea Gardens.

Exhausted Farmer goes back to being quietly exhausted and standing in line.

Yukio follows Mou-Shendu

Sook follows, throwing the rind into a rubbish bin

(1) Exhausted Farmer: The Tea Gardens are not nearly as impressive as the name sounds. It simply a round structure with a thatched roof large enough to fit two people tightly, where tea is brewed and from which tea is served. Tables and chairs are arranged around the structure in a nice but simple garden setting.

Sook ducks under the simple vined arch as he enters the 'gardens' behind mou shendu and yukio

(1) Yeled: Most of the tables are occupied by farmer's wives and their daughters, as well as a few older men who have the time to appreciate a nice tea. Sitting, not at but atop, one table, however, is a woman who, as the exhausted farmer suggested, is definitely out of place. She is a petite woman with a shaved head, wearing a simple, dark, hempen robe clinched up by a blue linen belt. Her hands and arms up to her forearms are dyed a dark black. She is sitting cross-legged with her eyes closed and hands on her knees, palms up, and thumbs touching her index fingers. Her breathing is steady and relaxed.

Sook: ((Is she the same woman from last night?)) (1) Exhausted Farmer: ((well, she isn't dressed the same...but size wise she could be...roll Per + Investigation)) Sook: [4d10] => [3,7,6,2] = (18) (1) Exhausted Farmer: ((you're not sure if she is or isn't)) Sook: ((heh,however,she will recognize me if she is!)) (1) Exhausted Farmer: ((what you are sure of is that this woman belongs to the Immaculate Order of the Lotus))

Mou-Shendu holds his hands back to stop the group before they approach to close

Sook studies her, but cant be sure if its the same woman…same build, but the details don’t appear to match…but then it was midnight, and the only light being the bright disc, who knows

Yukio: "So now what? Mou-Shendu?"

Mou-Shendu opens up his pack an pulls out a small, crystal pendulum. He holds it in a fist, close to his hand, and blows on it to set it into motion. He raises it quickly to his eye, starring at the woman through the crystal. He mutters something under his breath, and then lowers the pendulum.

Mou-Shendu quickly stashes it back in his bag.

Sook watches mou shendu open mouthed

(1) Yeled: ((Sook, you've seen him do some of this kind of stuff before.)) Sook: ((yeah,and im sure i have the same look every time...he has read a bit about sorcery,and it fascinates him))

(1) Yeled: ((roll Perceptoin + Occult + your specialty)) Mou-Shendu: [8d10.vs(7)] => [8,3,2,1,4,9,1,8] = (3)

Mou-Shendu whispers "Her mastery of Essence is at least our equal, but I doubt she can take the three of us, if it comes to it. Let's not leave her an escape route."

Yukio whispers "Shall we engage her?"

Mou-Shendu nods, signaling for each of the others to go around to surround her before approaching.

Yukio sneaks up slowly behind her.

Sook moves with, not swiftness, but smoothness, the other way around

Mou-Shendu waits for the others to be in position, before approaching (less quietly) himself.

(1) Yeled: She does not move or react to anyone.

Mou-Shendu approaches. "I am sorry to disturb you."

Yukio makes eye contact with Mou-Shendu, waiting for his move.

The Immaculate Monk 's large, ice blue eyes open slowly as you speak to her, but she doesn't otherwise change positions or move at all. She has a pretty face, with high cheekbones and a small mouth. She looks at you but does not speak.

Mou-Shendu: "You are a monk of the Immaculate Order. Welcome to the Two Rivers. Tell me, what brings you to our quiet town?"

The Immaculate Monk looks at you cooly for a moment. "I am here to bring wisdom."

Mou-Shendu: "Of course, you are..."

(1) The Immaculate Monk: ((sook, roll Perception + Alertness)) Sook: [6d10] => [3,1,6,1,3,4] = (18) (1) The Immaculate Monk: ((so much for that)) Sook: ((failed!botch!!)) (1) The Immaculate Monk: ((Sook, you're pretty sure that this woman's voice is the same as the woman's from last night))

Sook tenses, but waits for mou shendu to talk

Mou-Shendu waits a moment in silence. Then asks, "Have you ever visited our fair school here?".

(1) The Immaculate Monk: "I have not. But the villagers here speak highly of the school and its master. When my companion arrives here and we have situated ourselves, I intend to pay the school a visit."

Mou-Shendu: "We would be honored if you would."

(1) The Immaculate Monk: "I would enjoy seeing your martial arts."

Yukio thinks to himself: You could watch them on your back once I knock you on it...

Sook looks for eye contact with mou shendu,but the man is focused on the young woman

Mou-Shendu: "There are many things to see there, besides the school and the sparring. Besides the beauty and serenity it bestows upon us students, there is (Mou-Shendu watches her reaction intently) a first age ruin there that survives perfectly intact."

(1) The Immaculate Monk: ((Roll Perception + Investigation or Awareness)) Mou-Shendu: [7d10.vs(7)] => [6,8,10,7,8,9,1] = (5)

(1) The Immaculate Monk: "Really," she says, interested but not totally surprised. "The Order would be extremely interested in that. I would like to see that as well."

Sook prepares for what he believes may be a fight

Yukio looks to Mou-Shendu

Mou-Shendu: "Are you staying in the Inn here, then?"

(1) The Immaculate Monk: "I have not yet found accommodations. I await my brother, but he is late."

Mou-Shendu: "I would offer you accommodations with us, but I am afraid they a very sparse. In fact, I'm not sure it is even my place to offer, but you could take it up with our master, Li.

(1) The Immaculate Monk: "That is kind of you, but we will not trouble your master for accommodations."

Mou-Shendu nods. "I am Mou-Shendu, by the way."

(1) The Immaculate Monk: "I am called Sparrow."

Mou-Shendu: "Welcome, again, Sparrow. I will disturb your meditation no longer."

(1) Sparrow: "Thank you. I hope to come to your school tomorrow afternoon, after our morning instructions to the people of this village. I look forward to witnessing the techniques employed by the school here. I had not heard of it before, but people speak of it for miles around."

Mou-Shendu frowns slightly, but tries to hide it. He nods. "I look forward to it". He turns to walk around her so the group can tread off to her back.

Sparrow closes her eyes, saying as she does so, "I look forward to seeing the techniques of your two friends as well. Until tomorrow."

Mou-Shendu: When the group is out of earshot, Mou-Shendu turns to speak to them.

Sook tries to read mou shendus movements, but doesnt get it. Sook follows when he leaves

Yukio follows as well.

Mou-Shendu: "I don't know. I seems an awful coincidence, but it doesn't all fit..."

Sook: "that woman....that know...her. i can tell,by her voice"

Mou-Shendu: "She is of the Immaculate Order. I have never heard of them taking up sorcery or shape shifting into animals. It doesn't fit with their creed."

Sook frowns, and looks at her, then back, thinks a moment, "maybe she is lying about who she is"

Mou-Shendu: "It is possible, but she showed no signs of knowledge that I was hinting at last night, which would take incredible discipline. Are you sure, Tetsuko?"

Sook frowns

Yukio: "hmmm. Perhaps we should return to Master Li and ask his advice?"

Sook: "im sure she sounds jes like the woman last night...and the woman last night was covered know...clothes"

Mou-Shendu: "Dark clothes, yes. It seems an awful coincidence. And you are an astute observer, Tetsuko..."

Mou-Shendu frowns and paces a little.

Like Fighting in Water

(1) Yeled: Its been four hours, and Kaimi has not improved her technique much. She's a little quicker...maybe. But she can't leap from the water and the light, airy, darting movements of the Dragonfly kata are completely unsuited to the water. She's tired and cold and her muscles are really starting to ache, despite Ayame's aid. Every once in a while another student comes along to watch Kaimi struggle for a time before shaking his or her head and moving off to train themselves.

Kaimi ignores visitors pointedly and concentrated on her task stubbornly

(1) Yeled: ((roll conviction)) Kaimi: [2d10] => [5,3] = (8) (1) Yeled: ((kaimi, you're going to have to spend a point of willpower to keep at're ready to give up))

(1) Yeled: you can no longer feel your legs

(1) Yeled: ((I should probably make you make a stamina + resistance check…yeah, roll it: Stamina + Resistance + 2)) Kaimi: [8d10] => [10,8,2,8,10,8,9,4] = (59) (1) Yeled: ((yeah, you can keep going physically, but you still need to spend that WP to keep from giving up due to lack of progress))

Ayame returns after a long absence, having gone off to feed her pet.

Kaimi decides to take a short break and moves to the shore.

Kaimi of course intends to fulfill her task and will return to the water shortly.

Master Li comes walking briskly up the hill towards the wading pool, just as Kaimi is heaving herself up onto the shore.

Kaimi: (( You had that planned didn't you! glares))

Ayame watches, perched on a nearby ledge, building, wall, or other convenient place

Kaimi looks warily and then sits down on the bank to meditate.

(1) Master Li: Pipe still in hand, he runs his fingers absent mindedly down the scar he bears on his left cheek as he approaches. "Well," he says gruffly. "I see we are taking a break."

Kaimi: "mmm." She reconsiders her response. "For the moment"

(1) Master Li: "Are you approaching Ayame's speed and grace in the water?"

Kaimi: "I am not"

Master Li feigns surprise. "No? You've been at it for hours. What's the problem?"

Kaimi opens her eyes, looks at master Li with her head cocked

Kaimi: "Well since I haven't attained my goal I suppose I must say that I do not know what the problem is."

(1) Master Li: "I see. Ayame!" he calls to the elemental. "Do you know what the problem is? Clearly you've obtained the goal Kaimi has set for herself, so you must know her problem. Care to enlighten her?"

Ayame hops down from her ledge

Ayame: "All she has to do is become a spirit"

Kaimi goes rigid.

Kaimi: "What?" she asks sharply.

(1) Master Li: "Ahhhh," he says, as if he finally understands. "Do you hear that, Kaimi? You need to work on being a spirit. Ayame, why does being a spirit have anything to do with it?"

Ayame simply shrugs "That's like asking what being a bird has to do with flying"

(1) Master Li: "So you are saying that asking Kaimi to move in the water as you do is the same as asking her to fly like a bird?"

Ayame: "She can jump, and appear to be in the air, like a bird, just as she can move in the water, but... her control ends there."

Kaimi sits quietly beginning to wonder if the point of this exercise is to teach her that she simply cannot do everything.

(1) Master Li: "Interesting. Let's see if you're right." Master Li turns toward the edge of the wading pool and erupts in a torrent of wind as he lifts himself clear across the pool and lands on the other side--a jump impossible for any mortal to repeat. "Kaimi, jump across that pool as I did,” he commands as he turns back to face the two woman.

Ayame: (Must be a large pool?) (1) Master Li: (it is, but that isn't necessary...I'm using Prax's rules for jumping) Prax: ((My rules hamper jumping; it cuts the suggested jumping distances by a third))

Kaimi sighs and gets up. She gives the leap her best attempt despite her expectations.

(1) Master Li: Kaimi leaps high in to the air, despite her exhaustion, and lands with a splash in the shallow wading area of the pool. She wasn't even close to making it. Didn't even get half way. Not even a third.

(1) Master Li: "Why couldn't you jump the pool, Kaimi? I could do it."

Ayame wonders how Kaimi manages to not throw things at Master Li. Kaimi wonders the same thing.

Master Li repeats his leap, landing easily on the shore where he originally stood.

Ayame seems a bit put off by Master Li's methods, looking pitifully at the drenched girl

Kaimi begining to frown visably pulls herself out of the pond

Master Li sits down on the ground next to Kaimi. "Do you know why you can't move in the water like Ayame?"

Kaimi: " Move the water?! Of course I know why I can't move the water! I am not exalted or a water spirt. I have known that all might life!" Kaimi clenches her fists in anger. At last a question she can answer without worrying about hidden meanings!

(1) Master Li: "If you have known that your whole life, then why did you refuse to say that, you stubborn girl? You could have avoided this foolishness. Training for a day to move in the water like an elemental of water. Ridiculous."

Prax: ((Nice))

Kaimi: "You asked me to do it. I did."

(1) Master Li: "I did nothing of the sort. You suggested that you would try, whether I asked you or not. I simply asked if you could, and if you couldn't why you couldn't. And now you know. You are not of the water, so it works against you. Your style is not of the water, and cannot be performed in that element."

(1) Master Li: "Why can' you leap through the air as I do?"

Kaimi looks as if she wants to argue further but suddenly does not see the point. instead she arches an eyebrow and says... "I am not exalted"

Master Li pauses a moment, taking his time as another thought almost visibly enters into his mind.

(1) Master Li: "You seem to think that exaltation solves everything, and your lack of exaltation makes you less than you could be."

Kaimi blinks. Suddenly her admission seems to have turned on her...

(1) Master Li: "I will say this to you once and only once." Master Li looks Kaimi in the eye, his voice forceful and unyielding. "Exaltation is nothing, if the one who exalts has not the skills, the discipline, and the wherewithal to use it. If you pine for exaltation, as the worms on the blessed Isle do, then you are not worthy of it. If you see yourself as less than others who have exalted, then you will be less than them even if you had exalted. It is you, Kaimi, that makes you small or great. Exaltation is nothing without greatness."

(1) Master Li: "You have true skill-- greater than any of the others--but you place yourself beneath them. And if you see yourself as less than them than you will be."

Kaimi bows her head, thoughts of retorts gone with the compliments

(1) Master Li: "It is not just a lack of exaltation that keeps you from leaping as I do. You move through air as you move through water."

Kaimi: " I-- What?" Kaimi is thrown off balance by the sudden shift in the lesson

(1) Master Li: "Even when you fight, your movements, though skilled, are slow and uncertain. You fight the world around you as you perform even your best kata. When you perform your dragonfly, even in the air, it is as if you are in the water."

Kaimi is floored. She decides just to listen at this point.

(1) Master Li: "I'm not saying you're unskilled. I'm telling you that what happens to you in the water also happens in the air. You simply cannot see it."

(1) Master Li: "How do you think I can leap as I do. How does Yukio strike from nowhere as he does? How does Mou-Shendou send all the other students hurdling around him? How come the exalted can accomplish such incredible feats, and you cannot?"

(1) Master Li: "Do you know the answer?"

(1) Master Li: "Even Dawn Star can do what you cannot, though you are clearly more skilled than she. And she is not exalted."

Kaimi: "I- if it is not being exalted then the only thing I can think to return to is practice but that did not get me anywhere so far either."

(1) Master Li: "No. Practice is important. But you cannot practice flying if you have no wings."

Kaimi: " How can I attain wings if I do not have them? I have never known anyone who has not been born with wings to attain wings"

(1) Master Li: "Ah! But there you are wrong. Every exalt is born without wings. Or, more precisely, without the awareness to sense the true world around them. The exaltation gives them their gift of awareness. But Dawn Star has it as well. And there are other ways to obtain it."

Kaimi: Master Li has Kiami's full attention

(1) Master Li: "We will need Ayame's help and blessing if we are going to continue this lesson. She can give you the sight you need to begin the next phase of your training."