We ended the previous chapter with Wren picturing the poor innocent survivor of the massacre, running away sobbing from the horrors, so naturally we transition to the actual survivor, who is doing no such thing.
The book, though, is attempting to walk back on Yuyu being a complete sociopath by having him dream of the time before everyone he knew was brutally murdered.
of the days spent running the catacombs with his siblings and friends. Around each bend he found treasures, more than he could carry back with him. But the font of riches was neverending, and all of the children laughed as they carried gold and jade and orichalcum back up into the light.
But the dream really isn’t about them being alive. The good thing in the dream is the infinite money, and the other children being around seems more to do with the fact that the catacombs were only safe and friendly back before Ratcatcher stabbed his way through everything. Indeed, Yushuv wakes without any tears over the real people he lost, just thoughts that the dream of endless loot was a nice one.
It’s probably fitting that’s what he was dreaming of, because the thing waking him is doing it for a different sort of endless wealth, one wetter and redder.
To talk to Raiton and get more “yes definitely do whatever your first thought is, btw you’re the true rulers usurped by assholes you should murder” peptalks, he has to climb up a tree for whatever reason and whistle, even though it’s Raiton’s endless circling of him that woke him in the first place. He’s happy to see his buddy, and Raiton says yeah, but we won’t be chatting again, and he’s just thrilled to pieces to see him and is all, oh you, that’s what you said last time silly! Love you!
But Raiton really means it this time.
For you, I have worked wonders. For you, I have paid a price.” He lifted his wings, and in the moonlight Yushuv saw the dark blood that flowed, unceasing, from a wound on each.
Yushuv asks who did it and why this happened, and Raiton laughs and repeats the question over and over in hysterics. We then return to fine form with the conversation not actually following. Raiton opens the conversation saying he did things for Yushuv, and he paid a price for it. When Yushuv asks why, that would seem to mean “why did you have to pay this price, because I obviously am not clear on the inner workings of godly politics and could use an explanation”, and Raiton’s HAHAHAHA WHY HE ASKS could be taken as just a reaction to the idea of how someone so important doesn’t even know how important he is.
Except then the whole thing derails:
Yushuv bit his lip and thought.“Me?” he said suddenly. “This is because of me?”
That’s what it generally means when someone says it’s because of you, that it’s because of you. Raiton then continues as if the train of thought didn’t just smash and burn here by explaining that “Of course it’s because of you. when seriously just a couple lines ago he said that exact same thing, that’s not an “of course” that’s a “what the hell boy are you deaf”.
I’ve done you favors, hidden you from the heavens, blinded your enemies’ servants and guarded you while you slept. Did you not think your enemies had patrons as well, gods who were displeased with me for favoring you so?
Bit of a slight of hand here. The ones who’ll come down murderously hard on a god favoring solars aren’t gods nor do they have gods as their patrons. They’re fate-ninja, and in the name of the stars, they will punch your soul into a paperweight.
Oh, I have suffered for you, Yushuv, and I will be suffering long years after you’re gone. They made sure of that. And I’m not allowed to speak to you any more. They’re watching me, you know.” He laughed again, and there was no joy in it. “Gods and spirits don’t do well with pain, boy. We’re not used to it.”
Gods and spirits need to be more grateful the sidereal didn’t turn them into starmetal or cast them into an abyss outside of reality for all of eternity.
Gods being weak to pain sounds like it’s come in from Greek myth or something – Exalted’s gods aren’t the top of the heap and unused to struggle, plus there’s a fuckton of them and they’re often in conflict.
Yushuv feels actual sorrow for another’s suffering now, because that isn’t just anybody, it’s his murder buddy who helps him out!
“I wish there were something I could do.”
Raiton’s head jerked up, his wickedly sharp beak narrowly missing Yushuv’s face. “Do?Of course there’s something you can do.
Learn solar medicine charms that can fix anything ever?
It’s to keep on, boy, or this is all for nothing.”
…I’m beginning to suspect Raiton isn’t actually in pain from eternal wounds, and may possibly not even have been injured by anyone in the first place.
Yushuv, not realizing that seriously you can just fix this with a charm, finds this reasonable and thinks this has all been planned out.
My father’s gifts to you-someone told him to do that, so you’d have a reason to be kind to me. Am I right?“
This is a good example of terminal destiny in fantasy, where everything has to be part of some grand design.
I wonder if that’s part of why Exalted officially says exaltation lights destiny on fire and dances on the ashes, to curb these kinds of impulses.
Raiton, for whatever reason, confirms Yushuv’s statement, and does so in a way that doesn’t explicitly say he’s right or anything else that might ping an anti-lie charm. Just “Very clever, Yushuv.” and “You’ve started to think about causes. followed by a compliment and a warning not to get distracted by thinking too hard about what’s already happened, like, say, realizing that gods aren’t supposed to be soliciting mortal worship in the first place and all the advance setup does is make it more likely there’s a fate-ninja audit – gods would be under extra scrutiny when dealing with anyone connected to their illegal cult, while there’s no bureau of making sure gods don’t do no-strings-attached favors for random people.
“I’ll take that for an admission,” Yushuv said stupidly unsuspicious about why Raiton would be making sure not to actually say any such thing and otherwise contorting in the manner of every “not technically a lie” character ever. He says Dace said similar stuff and Raiton says this is (one of a very many) reasons why they had Dace teach him, which, put another way, means what Dace says was likely not a deciding factor in picking him but Raiton is deflecting what the real criteria is.
And despite the fact this has been just FATE DESTINY FATE GRAND PLAN, Raiton finishes with, “Your path will be entirely your own sooner than you know. Follow it. That will make all the pain worth it. I trust in your teachers, and I trust in you.” Because that’s the best way to keep Yushuv on task – say that the path you’ve set him on is totally his own and don’t think about it or consider if maybe you want to buck against what everyone else set up.
That’s all the time Raiton has to chat, or so he says. He claims he’s currently being looked for, but somehow managed this meeting anyway, but staying further will get Yushuv caught.
Then a last burst of destiny stuff:
“There is a tomb in your future boy, an empty tomb. Something waits for you there, something from dreams. I cannot tell you more.”
Pretty sure you can’t even tell him that much because exalts don’t have destinies!
But so yeah, everything here is probably bullshit. Raiton even does a big dramatic exit:
Raiton leapt into the air, his wings folded against his body. He plummeted as Yushuv watched, horrified, then at the last second gave a mighty flap against the air and soared upward.
Doesn’t sound like his wings are hurting as much as you’d think, huh?
Raiton really is being exactly what you’d want to manipulate the PCs, though – he’s saying stuff that doesn’t work with the setting, but which the average person in the setting wouldn’t know well enough to call him out on. He’s making a big show of his suffering for the PC’s sake and a big show of his awesomeness, things players generally appreciate too much to question the contradiction between the two. And most of his dialogue only makes sense with PCs trying to muddle through events and finding nothing suspicious about the fact their guesses keep getting confirmed no matter how wild.
We do get an explanation for why Yushuv had to climb a tree, though not why he didn’t think it was at all weird at the time, it’s because a bunch of “large shapes” come by for a sniff where he was sleeping before, and apparently they don’t have good enough noses to smell he climbed the tree.
Had it not been for Raiton’s summons to the treetops, Yushuv knew, he could have had himself a much more rudes awakening.
Yushuv, you slaughtered an all-dragonblooded Wyld Hunt then beat an ancient sid in hand to hand combat. Had it not been for Raiton’s summons, you could have had a cool fight scene of you wiping the floor with whatever this is.
But we do get something cool out of this:
He looked at his left hand, where the bird-spirit’s blood had splashed him. It was an iridescent, oily black in the moonlight, and when he moved his hand he was surprised to discover it was still liquid. Real blood-mortals’ blood-would have long since dried.
Things that aren’t as they would be in a mundane world! And it’s not just a cool description, Yushuv, continuing to be totally a PC, dumps his waterskin so he can transfer the godblood to it.
Like quicksilver, they all slid in. None spilled, and nothing remained to stain his hand.
I’m not sure if anything comes of it, but iridescent black quicksilver blood! That’s just cool, okay?