The Mists of Paoru
Back to main page of Guntur Gunadi’s Conversations With a Bird
20th day of the Pig (Stone Day), year 3458 of Heavenly Fire
[Guntur and Utari are descending the steps with the rest of the party, Bai is unconscious as they move along]
Guntur: This is going to take forever and it’s fairly undignified.
Utari: Since when are you worried about dignity?
Guntur: Impressions, my friend. The helpful one from Jiyun is a wonderfully friendly person, but I think the Notta will be a difficult person to befriend. I think we’re supposed to, though, so that’s what we’ll do.
Utari: Supposed to?
Guntur: I doubt it was coincidence that we followed a suggestion that led us to the site of an exceptionally rare battle where we met exceptionally rare people. I get the feeling the Spirit is trying it’s hand at subtlety.
Utari: Ah, and you would be the expert on subtlety, oh exploder of dragons?
Guntur: There is, of course, a time and a place for such things. Now is not one of those times, since easing the burden of the group by becoming a great beast and carrying their warrior home will be both helpful and impressive.
[Vasan chucks Bai over the back of the plantiger]
Utari: Indeed, both helpful and impressive.
Guntur: A reminder that timeliness trumps all, I would say. But I am excited to see that we finally get to spend time with a Sihir. I’ve had the feeling that the Spirit did not wish out relationship to be overly well known until this point, so I’ve kept it close to the robe and only discussed it with close family. Now that the cabai has been drunk, we will see if we cannot hold it.
Utari: How so?
Guntur: We travel with magicians of several kinds, but the only spellcraft I know in any detail is the magic of the Sihir, and the Sihir are known for bonding their shen with yokai such that in several senses they become one person. I have often wondered what they would think of our arrangement.
Utari: Not sure it really applies. I’m not the Tianshi, just a humble associated hanger-on and shield bearer.
Guntur: Humble my sunburned backside. And if you had to actually carry anything you’d be complaining for a week. You might not be ‘the’ Tianshi, but if you’re simply a lost pigeon following the trail of bread crumbs falling out of my pocket, I’ll find myself badly mistaken.
Guntur: I’ve been you, remember? I know what being in a body aligned to the Sprit Yokai is like. I’ve never heard of a Sihir bonding with a Tianshi Yokai. I’m still not sure whether you’re a sliver of the Spirit, an enchanted bird, a realized expression of my mind meshing with a yokai, or something else. What I do know, is that it’s something special, and eventually I want to find out what it is.
Utari: Seriously for a moment, I’m not trying to keep secrets. If I am a sliver of The-Spirit-That-Brings-The-Rain, I’m bonded thoroughly enough with you that the larger consciousness is lost. I’ve got lost of vague bird-memories from before I met you, but I don’t think I could actually think.
Guntur: Well phrased. Hopefully this Vasan character will have some useful information for both of us.
Utari: Or, we could have offended an unspoken taboo in Sihir culture and he’s simply waiting for a chance to exorcise us as a blasphemous offense against the natural order. And if that doesn’t do it, that hideous robe you took off the potion mixer should clinch the case.
Guntur: Glass half full, glass half empty, and glass with just enough water to drown a wise-ass bird in.
Utari: Are you kidding? You’re supposed to be Mr. Diplomat. You let the bald goblin there run an interrogation in the most ridiculous way possible, and when it seemed like the prisoner had cooperated fully, you talked the giant in the chair into ripping his mind out and sitting on it for eternity. I don’t think you have room to criticize anyone for about, say, forever.
Guntur: Rescuing him is on my to-do list. Just a bit towards the bottom. Eternal imprisonment for a flunkie like that is certainly overkill, unless it turns out Bai saw that Yuting’s solicitatious approach let Zhang Lo there lead us down the garden path.
Utari: I’ll just add that to the list of bad ideas I have to talk you out of later. Right before the one where you declare a six-person war against the combined battlemages of Chenmo.
[The party arrives at the village to deal with a house-eating, child monopolizing hut]
Guntur: It’s been a rough day so far, but that is amazing!
Utari: I like the feet.
Guntur: Apparently Yuting can make friends. She just asked for a specific Eo from the village to come solve that problem. Shows she can delegate, make friends, and trust outside this little insular group.
Utari: And what did the guards say when she asked.
Guntur: Gmm. Apparently that Eo already tried, angered the house, and got shot out of a cannon.
Utari: I hate immature Yokai with naval armaments.
Guntur: Don’t we all.
[The party gets the children released, settles in for tea, Guntur scrys on Yun captured and imprisoned, the party makes plans and preparations to travel to his rescue in the morning.]
Utari: Nice of her to offer the healing tea, wasn’t it?
Guntur: True. Hopefully it’s a positive sign. I still find it bizarre that this group has so many Zhurdana. I can’t help but think it’s another sign that something larger is going on.
Utari: Yes, there does seem to be a lot going on under the surface, like why a middle-man potion brewer ranked that robe, along with all the other items you talked Tenn into identifying.
Guntur: I rarely take spoils of war, mostly because I’m usually trying to stop fights, but it does seem like useful equipment to have if things get rough. I think it would have been appropriate to strip the enemy wizard of his gear and send him off, but as I said, I’m waiting on Bai to wake up with a report.
Utari: Have any of you tried healing her yet?
Guntur: Why didn’t I think of that? We were even discussing healing!
Utari: We can’t all look this good AND be devastatingly intelligent, you know.
Guntur: Ha! I’ll check on her tomorrow and see if I can help her with that. In the meantime, the healing I did for that wizard was wasted on him, but it beat the paths out of me. I’m going to root and heal. You’re welcome to the branches.
Utari: Try for a comfortable tree this time, ok?
[They sleep, and wake to the hut sailing off into the sky]
21th day of the Pig (Metal Day), year 3458 of Heavenly Fire
Utari: <peck> WAKE UP!
[Guntur shifts into Mao form]
Utari: The house with the nice legs? It just turned into a boat, mixed up the sky with the ocean, and sailed off.
Guntur: Oh good. I’m dreaming.
[Guntur starts to lay down]
Utari: WAKE UP!
Guntur: Ugh. All right. Let me get the sleep out of my eyes and we’ll catch them.
Utari: You might. They’re going at least as fast as an eagle. You’re going to have to chase them down and convince them to wait for me, because I am not chasing a crazy flying house through the sky for days on end.
Guntur: Better idea. Let’s find some breakfast.
Utari: Eh? They’re getting away, you know.
Guntur: Yes, but we know where they’re going.