[x] You can go to the Institute and dress up in white for Shuchun's funeral. Whether Yong will allow you to join the ceremony, you don't know, and it is possible that your presumption will irritate him if you try. All the same, you owe Shuchun a great debt of gratitude that can never be repaid. Attending the funeral is the very least you can do.


In the end, there is no choice at all.

Maybe you will be able to settle the score with Akna later, but right now you have to see off a woman who was good to you.

You return to the Institute unhurriedly. Back in your room, you don your white clothes. It is not elegant apparel, but you keep it meticulously clean. It'll do. Your dust caked garments you leave at the laundry, to clean them later, and then start heading for Yong's house.

As you approach the main gate of the Institute's grounds, however, you hear someone calling your name behind your back. You turn and raise an eyebrow when you recognize Xiaodan.

She is an apprentice, like yourself, and joined the Institute more or less when you did, but you don't get along well. She seems to do better than you with half the effort, she is charming and pretty and witty, and many other attributes you envy sometimes. And she just rubs you the wrong way.

Still, it is not as if you hate each other or anything like that. It is just that you have deliberately kept things impersonal with her and systematically turned down her invitations to join her and a few other students in their journeys to the nearby drinkeries. So you wait to see what she has to say.

"Hey, Lifen, I've been trying to find you."

"Well, here I am. Do you need me for anything?"

"No, no. It is just that Master Ping told us about the lady you were helping him with and, well, when old Hai died this winter, even though we tried so hard to help him recover from his congestion... Well, it was awful. I seriously considered doing something else the next few days, leaving the Institute and going home, until Bai convinced me not to quit."

"I helped my parents before coming to Taku. I've seen patients die before."

"Really? Well, it doesn't matter. I cannot imagine anyone getting used to that kind of thing. So if you want to join me and some of the others tonight at the Green Lotus, you are welcome to do it. We'll laugh, we'll flirt, we'll drink bad wine and we'll have such a headache in the morning that you'll forget about all this."

Unsurprisingly, it is an invitation to go to a tavern when she is done with the day's chores. Her reasons surprise you, though, and so you consider your words briefly before giving your answer.

[ ] You accept and will join her this night. There is no way you are going to make an habit out of this, but... a stiff drink may do you good. Besides, Xiaodan's words have struck a chord with you.

[ ] You appreciate the offer, but turn her down politely. You simply cannot see yourself finding solace in drunken revelry, although you wouldn't mind the company in some other environment.

[ ] You turn down her offer, curtly. Shuchun's funeral will take place at twilight, as is traditional, and you don't have time for this petty nonsense.

[ ] Write in.

After that, the rest of your journey to Yong's house is free of incidents. Your worst fears fail to materialize and you are admitted to the ceremony without incident, among a veritable throng of guests. The merchant seems perhaps slightly surprised to see you, but he nonetheless welcomes you with a firm handshake and a nod.

When sunset turns the sky orange, the funeral begins. After a brief enumeration of Shuchun's accomplishments and positive qualities, the officiating sage bids her spirit a safe journey towards her next life. That brings the ceremony to the part in which those attending present a gift to the departed.

You put some thought into this moment before coming and find yourself satisfied with your choice.

[ ] You have brought a small block of quartz, a traditional gift that will be used to decorate her tomb, when she is taken to her final resting place. This leads us towards physical powers.

[ ] You have brought a scroll in which you have written a short poem, which will be buried with Shuchun, about your feelings and how you shall remember her. This leads us towards mental powers.

[ ] You have brought a scented candle. Its light will guide her spirit through the treacherous paths of the Spirit World towards her rebirth. This leads us towards spiritual/mystical powers.