Dar War Bar

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"He who wants to sell his honor will always find a buyer." The run begins on the Day of the Tortoise in the Month of the Tortoise in the first Year of the Magpie since the White Pagoda was abandoned.

The run takes place in and around Bear Mountain.

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Contents

Iron Fortress

A monastery plagued by evil chi having been saved, those involved hurry to catch up with the circus on its way to Iron Fortress.

"So, do I still have to accompany you when you talk to Zhuai, so nothing happens?" -Wei Han
"Of course something will happen. Don't things normally happen when you talk to people?" -Lijuan
"No." -Wei Han
"For the love of God, stop feeding lines to Lijuan to make her seem wise!" -Cai Wen

The circus passes through a section of road that has signs posted - this is a hunting area, beware of traps, and stay on the road! Cai Wen orders the actual circus performers to stay on the road, though some of the others look around for plot. Lijuan doesn't spot anything from the road that's worth hunting, and then the group arrives without further incident at Iron Fortress.

Lijuan draws some prophetic art, that Xian describes as a Mud Frog Monster. And if it only has the fighters, does that mean that the rest of the party should avoid going to the combat? Lijuan notes that she doesn't know how to draw everyone, and there are a bunch of other people in the background.

Monster and fighters

The guards at the gates to the fortress are a little snarky as the circus enters - Cai Wen introduces them, and they say they never would have guessed. On a closer look, they mostly just seem to be very tired, not hostile. Wei Han, always alert for military mismanagement, checks with them to see if they're understaffed, but they say no, just tired - Lord Yu has had them marching up and down the mountain as escorts for the messnegers between he and Kar Fai. Lijuan asks around the stable boys for recent gossip, and hears that the nighttime ghosts are gone. (That's probably Ting Ting, Cai Wen guesses).

The command performance before Lord Yu will be tomorrow evening - circus setup will be tonight, and rehearsal tomorrow afternoon.

Cai Wen hears that after Kar Fai returned, he came down the mountain to argue with Lord Yu, and tore out the ironwood tree that Lucky Chang used in his bet before returning to his Pagoda. They have continued to argue remotely, but have now reached an agreement: Kar Fai will stop trying to run things from the Mountain if Lord Yu picks a competent advisor that Kar Fai thinks will help him run things competently. So... how to meddle? He also checks in with the protocol secretary, under the guise of confirming the schedule, but also just in case Lord Yu wants to summon them to any audiences to discuss repayment of favors, they're here.

Also at the protocol secretary's door is an old woman in even older robes, who is giving the secretary a hard time. She says that the state of things is entirely unacceptable, and her accommodations must be in the same place as Brother Harada's. The secretary protests - she came late, and there are many many reasons it cannot be done. He goes through these reasons, during which time it might be appropriate to offer him a bribe, but the old woman ignores the hints, waits until the end of his explanation, and then tells him that it will be done tomorrow, then. Then she stomps off.

"I will speak to Lord Yu about if he wishes you to remain. He will send a messenger." -Protocol secretary
"Wait, what? Are you sure you can't say more?" -Cai Wen
"It is not my place to spoil the surprise."

Cai Wen asks who the old woman was - she is apparently a mysterious mountain hermit, who has newly arrived in town. This is clarified to explain that she is only today in Iron Fortress, but she has been a hermit on a mountain for quite some time.

"You go to the hermit and she gives you advice, which you do not follow, and then you regret it."

What about Brother Harada? He is only barely a recurring NPC - a monk from the Green Pagoda who was waiting to speak to Quan Lo, when the party blew through there.

There is definitely something going on, but it's not yet clear what needs doing. While they wait for the plot, Cai Wen asks Wei Han not to add any more advertisements to his circus act.

"Everyone gets to extract some personal gain from the circus - that's fine, but don't put in any more."

Wei Han is also interested in adding a panda fight to the circus performance - Lijuan instructs Kawaii to "teach the cub how to fight", and not hurt Wei Han too much. Since Wei Han is in full plate and Kawaii is going easy on him, the swat doesn't hurt too much, and Kawaii wins the wrestling match after several rounds of grappling. Cai Wen cautions against adding too much actual damage to the circus performances.

Shen-Ji notes some money changing hands after the panda fight, and goes to chat up the gamblers. One of the gamblers recognizes him from the horse race - Lin Thu, who won Cai Wen's gambling tournament. He gets a garbled account of some sort of go tournament taking place soon.

Kuan-Xi reports to Min Feng that someone named Mistress Litona wishes to speak with Min Feng. Min Feng arranges to pay her a visit later that evening.

An Opening for an Advisor

That night, Wei Han patrols the perimeter of the circus, where he meets a cloaked and hooded figure.

"What is your business here?"
"I am guarding the circus. What is your business here?" -Wei Han
"What threatens the circus?"

The hooded figure has come to collect upon a debt. Wei Han tells her to come with him, and they can talk to the Ringmaster, but she demurs, and leaves.

"It is not time for me to follow another, but know that you must discharge your debt with honor and grace."

Wei Han reports this odd occurrence. Lijuan thinks that sounds like Ting Ting, but does someone owe her a favor? Not that anyone can recall.

Meanwhile, Min Feng is having dinner with Mistress Litona, her contact from the House of Silence in the City of Spires. Litona thinks that Min Feng should become the advisor to Lord Yu. Min Feng's initial reaction is that this is a terrible idea - she has to stay with the circus - but Litona thinks that there are ways to work around that. After all, she is not currently in the City of Spires. Anyhow, she gives Min Feng a list of the current candidates, and tells Min Feng that if she wants her name on the list too, Litona can arrange it, if Min Feng lets her know what name she wants to use. Oh, and Xun Chih got Lord Yu to agree that people can have entourages to help them - that indicates that he would make a terrible advisor, but it does mean that Min Feng can have help too.

Some party members think Master Zhou would make a good candidate, as he'll want to work with any party member who is selected. Others point out that that would not be appropriate.

Quite a bit of investigation ensues, but the summary of the four candidates is:

  • Xun Chih: Smart and charismatic, but not very high resolve. Low resolve seems to run in his family, as his father was tricked by Machan Li into trying to keep the party out of the Gate of Five Elements. However, since he knows his resolve is low, he intends to have his friends keep him from being influenced by anyone who isn't them.
  • Brother Harada: an elderly monk of the Green Pagoda, described by all and sundry as "very Yin". By default, he is probably Quan Lo's choice, but Quan Lo doesn't meddle very much in Iron Fortress politics. He does not have an entourage.
  • Lin Thu: A brilliant and arrogant gambler. He seems interested in getting the whole thing out of the way so he can "take care of things".
  • Goei Maewan: A mysterious mountain hermit. She's considered enlightened, though cryptic, and apolitical. While she is wise, she doesn't truck with favors or favored people. She does what she thinks is right, and if you don't agree, you're wrong - she's quite uncompromising, which might be a failing in politics. She also does not have an entourage.

Cai Wen drops by the gambling houses, and confirms that a "go tournament" is part of the tasks set by Lord Yu to prove wisdom. So... why is Lin Thu in it? The gamblers guess that he hasn't heard yet that there isn't a cash prize.

Hints of Nefariousness

The next morning, there is a commotion at the main gates of the Fortress. A number of villagers are outside - there has been another one! They want to see Lord Yu! Most of the people in Iron Fortress already know what's going on, but when the party asks, the issue is that there have been horrible maulings in the woods, and Lord Yu has been spreading traps far and wide to try to deal with the beast. (Apparently when he sent a hunting party, it never returned.)

Xian wants to leave and deal with this (especially since Lijuan's picture suggests that it is the plot) - advisors and competitions are all well and fine, but there are actual people actually dying out there, which she thinks is more important. However, the current villagers are from somewhere a little too far away to get to and back before the circus performance that night, so the group resolves to work on the advisor plot until after the circus performance.

It's not clear if any of the advisor candidates seem to be great ones for the party to support. Min Feng decides to have her name added to the list as a contender. Lijuan sends Zhuai to find out about Xun Chih, and the group wonders why Lin Thu is involved at all.

"Maybe he's planning to sell the advisorship to someone!" -Lijuan
"You can't sell, it, but you can sell..." -Cai Wen
"Your soul." -Xian

After all, it doesn't seem possible to just give away or trade a non-physical thing like an advisorship. Still, Lin Thu seems the most likely of the candidates to be Lucky Chang's stooge somehow. Happily, someone shows up to provide a bit more enlightenment - Lei-Ling, a friend of Cai Wen's from the Strand. She followed Lin Thu up for the "big game" to see how it went. Cai Wen tells her it's not really a big game, there's no prize. Lei-Ling disagrees - the contest is the entry fee for the big game. You do the quest and get in the door, and whoever wins gets an invitation down to the pagoda of Lord and Lady Wing, where any number of non-physical things can be gambled away. Anyhow, Lei-Ling thinks that this explains why Lin Thu is here, and also obviously why Cai Wen is here.

"Is the invitation transferable?" -Cai Wen
"You know as well as I do that everything is transferable. This is simply a private gambling occasion." -Lei-Ling

Cai Wen is puzzled. Do the Wings often raise the stakes of this sort of event in other countries? No, but their establishment can be hired for the evening. And Lucky Chang is already known to be invited, so he doesn't have to come here to win. Cai Wen speculates as to whether Lucky Chang could be behind the "go tournament" part of the contest, but Lei-Ling doesn't have any insight there.

Wei Han and Lijuan to go talk to the locals of Iron Fortress about the maulings. The people here don't know the specific details, but they do know the general dramatic overview - there's a horrible beast that came down out of the mountains, ravaged a village, went to another village, and has generally been causing trouble.

Zhuai returns with the information about Xun Chi's lack of resolve, and notes that if the party wanted to put someone in that they could run from a distance, he would be a good candidate. Also, he notes that there are probably a few other ways to get credit with Lord Yu, like an endorsement from Master Zhou or one of the other two Masters of the Pagodas. Finally, he has learned that the three contests are a philosophical debate, a set of go matches, and a test of perspicacity, to happen over the next several days.

Then, it's time for the circus performance. Wei Han and Kawaii put on an impressive fight - the Iron Mountain natives are properly scared of panda bears - and the rest of the performances are equally well received. After the performance, Lord Yu addresses the crowd: in the next few days he will be appointing a Minister of Ramifications (with portfolio) to advise him, and one of the first and most important things that they will advise him on is the disturbance in the highlands. His advisor will be chosen within three days, and then the situation of the beast will be dealt with once and for all.

After that, Lord Yu congratulates the performers (after Kawaii has been sent away), and asks that Ringmaster Zhu inform Lord Takanata and Master Li that their favor has been transferred to Kar Fai, who will no doubt be in touch with them. Ahah, so that is the debt Ting Ting was talking about.

Cai Wen considers what the current score is - he thinks it's 0 - 0.1 - 0 - 0 - 0.1. Probably the people believed to be favored with one of the Masters of the Pagodas have a slight edge.

"So... we should act with grace and honor, to... prevent shenanigans?"
"Ting Ting didn't really specify."
"But she did specify." -Ting Ting

Ting Ting, appearing behind them, explains that Kar Fai is displeased with what had happened to the Red Pagoda during his absence, and has decided to take... certain matters... into his own hands. She gives Zhuai a look, and says that they will discuss them later.

"Yes, yes, no meetings in front of the enemy spy." -Zhuai, leaving

Zhuai starts to leave, but Lijuan and surprisingly, Ringmaster Zhu suggest that he stay. Ting Ting looks disgruntled for a moment and then nods in understanding.

"Ah, you take the honorable path of exposing your plans to your enemy so that you will not be accused of deception." -Ting Ting

So - Kar Fai begins his campaign to restore the Dragon to his rightful place. He has circumnavigated the Empire with the Talisman, and now he will restore the name of his country. He has prevailed upon Lord Yu to offer him the party's assistance, and he requires that they assist in appointing a high advisor to the government with honor and grace and without treachery; and then they will assist in another mission (with honor and grace and without treachery) which will, among other things, do a favor for the Great Bear Spirit, who will make it as if they have always been.

"Is this related to the beast mauling things?"
"Yes, that's part two." -Ting Ting

Min Feng asks if she would be an acceptable advisor.

"Will you serve with honor, without deception and trickery, and give good advice?" -Ting Ting
"Yes." -Min Fing

Ting Ting nods. To earn Kar Fai's endorsement, she must prove herself wise, as the tests should do. But, Kar Fai will use his influence to counteract any points that are ill-gotten, if the party can prove they were so.

"Oh, also tell Kar Fai that I can tell where Tai Lung is." -Min Feng
"Kar Fai would find that interesting, but the person you should tell is Master Zhou." -Ting Ting
"He knows that." -Min Feng
"Ah, then he is en route, and the days of Tai Lung are ended." -Ting Ting, pleased

What can Ting Ting tell them about the great beast? She believes that it was once simply an animal, but it wandered too close to the Gate of Five Elements, and is now possessed by malign demons. She also believes that to act in the true fashion of the Dragon, simply eliminating the threat is insufficient - it will be necessary to lead the folk of the countryside to victory against it.

"Oh, and please tell Kar Fai that Xiao Fa has an idea for changing the name of the Cranesflight Heights and Cai Wen has begun working on the Foxruns."
"I shall tell Kar Fai to strike those two countries from his list, then." -Ting Ting

What about actually freeing the Dragon? Isn't that an important step as well? Ting Ting notes that the Chosen of the Dragon (aka Xiao Fa) is doing that, so the party need not concern themselves with it.

The party tries to get more details about the requirements for the "honor and grace" thing. If they have to choose between winning without honor, and losing, which should they do? Ting Ting thinks that in that case, they should win with honor.

"Is there any point at which treachery would be acceptable?" -Xian
"No!" -Ting Ting
"I'm not really sure what I'm going to do here." -Xian

There is some brief speculation that treachery will be okay as long as Ting Ting doesn't learn of it, but she insists that the universe had better not learn about it either, as it will not actually work if there is treachery involved. Then Ting Ting heads out to do more of Kar Fai's bidding elsewhere.

Philosophy and Sleep

The first of the three contests will be tomorrow at dawn: the philosophical challenge. There will be points awarded for the actual argument chosen, as well as for the rolls involved. Min Feng may bring up to six entourage members, and should be there at dawn.

Lei-Ling wonders why the score now has two columns - one labeled Honor, and one labeled Score. The Honor column seems to have appeared after the group spoke to Ting Ting. Cai Wen is pretty sure that Score determines who wins the advisorship, and Honor determines whether it works for Kar Fai's plan. Dishonorable behavior, from cheating to taking advantages that are not available to others, scores negative honor, while being extra-honorable, such as helping an opponent in a way that levels the playing field, scores positive honor. Being generally well-behaved and reasonably honorable scores no points either way.

Lijuan hears a rumor that there is an all-night party, just for kids! She heads there and it does seem to be true. There are pork buns for everyone, and juice, and some street musicians, and everyone is having a great time. Lijuan finds the guy who seems to be running it - a man named Ling Ken - and chats with him about doing good deeds, especially for kids.

The next morning, everyone but Lijuan shows up at the debate - Lijuan has lost track of time and is still at the party. Lin Thu speaks first - his entourage has given him some notes, which he presents well, but Xian thinks he really doesn't believe what he's saying at all. It's like he's saying true things, but lying about them. That's kind of odd. Shen-Ji thinks that he's basically parroting back some books of philosophy.

Brother Harada, who is supposed to speak second, is also not there. Lord Yu orders the pages to look for him, but there are no pages! Xian and Wei Han dash off to look for him, and find him staying in the small temple. Apparently his wakeup call never arrived, so he overslept. Wei Han pulls him onto his horse, to gallop into the debating hall just before debate ends.

Min Feng is next, and has to answer three questions:

  • Is the enlightened one constrained by his understanding, or freed from the constraint of ignorance? (She answers "Both".)
  • In resolving an incomprehensible situation, is it best to seek greater understanding of the people involved, or of the external forces at play? (She answers "The people, as they are the ones that take the actions.")
  • How may a conflict between duty and honor be resolved?
"I remember Ti Jun asked Master Deng that one once, and he gave a vague cryptic answer that led to the Prince becoming one of the Marked." -Xian

When it is Goei's turn to address the questions, she answers "Both, Of course not, and Like this." These answers may indeed be correct, but she does not earn many points with Lord Yu for them.

Xun Chih is charismatic and good with persuasion, but perhaps not completely familiar with the deeper philosophies. Finally, Brother Harada arrives, somewhat askew and rattled from the fast horse ride. Xian plies him with stomach-calming tea, and he ends up giving a cogent philosophical defense.

Honor Score
- .6 Xun Chih
- 1.1 Brother Harada
-1 .6 Lin Thu
-.1 .3 Goei Maewan
.7 .9 Song Min Feng

The bells of the fortress ring, signifying the end of the contest, and the party outside immediately breaks up, as Ling Ken tells everyone to go home. Lijuan is heartbroken - she had put "do good deeds for kids with Ling Ken" on her long term goals already!

The group considers their .7 honor. They probably got +1 for rescuing Brother Harada, but got dinged a little bit for having fancy clothes that gave Min Feng a charisma advantage that other people didn't have, and Kuan-Xi having Min Feng roll for 5s.

Go and Treachery

There is a reception for everyone and their entourage; the go competition will begin at dawn tomorrow. Lin Thu is the odds-on favorite for that round, while Min Feng is now the favorite for the test of perspicacity.

(Meanwhile, Ting Ting shows up to ask if Shen-Ji and Wei Han are willing to not dodge in exchange for some bonus on the battlefield later. They agree.)

Unfortunately, Min Feng doesn't know how to play go. Cai Wen considers what his options are, as a gamester with karma, to help her learn go skill using his "all games are inherent for me" shtick.

"Well, you could give her a sixth inherent slot for Games, or you could swap her for Lei-Ling as your moll, and then she could just use your gaming shticks." -Mike
"Xiao Fa wouldn't approve of that one." -Min Feng
"Huh? Why?" -Cai Wen

"Oh. Right." -Cai Wen

Ling Ken appears to have given Lijuan a fake address, but Xian is intent on tracking him down.

"I'm trying to be Dragon. Let's go do that now." -Xian

The hall where the party was held was paid for by "Red Pagoda Industries", a trading company. But the guy who owns the hall has an contact address for Ling Ken, in case of damages - the estate of Lord Xun. Wei Han and Xian and Lijuan go descend on Lord Xun's estate. The servants want to know who they are and why they're here.

"Honor and grace!" -Lijuan

The servants say Ling Ken is in a strategy session right now, and is unavailable. Xian badgers the servants into going to get him; Ling Ken comes out, followed by Xun Chih. Lijuan confronts him - he only threw the party to keep the pages busy! That was not nice! Ling Ken denies everything, though Xian thinks he's clearly lying, but Xun Chih is easily convinced that he's telling the truth.

They go back and forth for a while; Ling Ken lying, Xian trying to persuade Xun Chih (who doesn't actually seem to know anything about it) that Ling Ken is acting dishonorably, various promises from the party that if Ling Ken will just confess to all his perfidy, they'll go away and leave them alone, and Xun Chih saying they really need to get back to Go practice. It appears likely to go in circles for some time, until Xian hits him with the big Voice hammer. At that point, he confesses - he was a monk in the Red Pagoda before Kar Fai returned, and during that time, he made friends with Xun Chih. Yes, he threw the big party in order to thwart Brother Harada, and he's teaching Xun Chih go, but sabotaging him, since Lucky Chang wants Lin Thu to win.

This is news to Xun Chih - his go coach is sabotaging him! He promptly fires Ling Ken, and Xian promises to send over Cai Wen to teach him go properly.

Then, it's time for the tournament. Min Feng is slated to play Lin Thu in the first round, which is no good, so Cai Wen cheats a bit to swap her into playing Xun Chih instead, and she beats him. Lin Thu tries a trick on Min Feng to make her roll twice and choose the poorer roll, but she has him memorized and the attempt failed. She still loses, but it's closer. Once the tournament is over, Kar Fai speaks harshly of Lin Thu's dishonor, which decreases his score.

Honor Score
- 1.0 Xun Chih
- 1.5 Brother Harada
-1.4 1.2 Lin Thu
-.2 1.0 Goei Maewan
.6 1.7 Song Min Feng

At this point, Min Feng is the only one with positive honor, though Cai Wen's swap and the "roll for 5s" are still counting against her. Why is Goei Maewan taking honor damage? What has she even done? Min Feng quashes the rumor (started by Ling Ken) that Brother Harada overslept because he is a drunkard, which helps some.

Perspicacity and Catastrophe

The third competition, in the afternoon, is the test of perspicacity, which involves recognizing the differences from one scene to the next. As the group is memorizing the starting scene, there is a huge crash from outside, that segues into shouting and screaming. Min Feng is briefly distracted, but Xian, still playing "What Would Xiao Fa Do?", runs outside to help, followed by Lijuan. Several workmen who were doing repairs on a ladder, with a small scaffold and bricks, have had their ladder collapse and the bricks fall upon them. Lijuan and Xian do first aid on the injured men.

Then Lijuan follows the tracks from near the ladder and heads outside. She finds a guy heading into the woods and follows him. He meets with another guy who pay him. They split up and Lijuan follows the employer. He heads to a secret meeting with Lucky Chang! Chang listens to his report and then sends him back to town. Chang starts heading away from town. Lijuan follows Chang’s minion back to town and then confronts him once they are inside the gates. She accuses him of perfidy, but with only 1 success, so he and the guards are not very impressed. Then Kawaii growls at him, and he shouts “panda attack” for many more successes and the guards are far more worried about the panda, letting him escape.

Lijuan tells the rest of the party about her escapade in the woods.

"In the woods, where people get mauled?" -Xian
"I don't think we were in those woods." -Lijuan

Once Min Feng has finished the test (which she wins!), Lijuan briefs the group on the most important thing - Lucky Chang is out in the woods running his minions! Cai Wen uses his magic paper to send a note to Broken Sword, letting him know that they may get a chance to take out Lucky Chang, and Broken Sword heads down the mountain at top speed.

Honor Score
- 1.5 Xun Chih
- 1.7 Brother Harada
-2.7 1.9 Lin Thu
-.3 1.9 Goei Maewan
.9 2.7 Song Min Feng

Now, all Min Feng has to do is survive the night to win the post. If she doesn't, then there will have to be some sort of final challenge between Lin Thu and Goei Maewan.

At dinner, Min Feng overhears the servants chatting to each other about how they have to be careful while serving the soup as the boss has left. He apparently said something about knowing when to walk away. Min Feng confronts them, asking who the boss is and whether the soup is poisoned. (Iron Mountain seems to be the land of poisoned stew). The servants say they serve the true master of the Red Pagoda, and try unsuccessfully to flee, but Lucky Chang is probably already gone.

Lei Ling doesn't quite know what the honor scoreboard is for, but thinks that whatever is happening now is overkill. Maybe Lin Thu is trying to make sure that the overall honor of the entire contest is negative? They decide that letting the servants go, after getting them to promise to do community service (for the children!), might be more honorable, as it means Min Feng won't be winning public acclaim for being threatened by someone else's dishonorable actions. This honor stuff is kind of tricky, and Xian only uses half her dice squishing the servants' brains.

But wait - are the other contenders okay? Should they go to the Red Pagoda? Or check on Brother Harada? They decide to check on Goei Maewan first, as she's the only one they haven't really talked to yet. An interestingly cryptic conversation ensues.

"What do you want?" -Goei Maewan
"I was hoping you could advise me. I'm hoping to disentangle a plot to influence who should be the advisor, and I encountered something I don't understand." -Xian
"Death before dishonor. Do you have something you need to be killing? (pause) Why are you still standing here? (pause) Fine, fine, come in, we’ll talk about dishonor. No one ever listens to me. " -Goei
"Lin Thu is embroiled in a bunch of dishonorable things to influence the contest. He's being extra dishonorable. But we don't understand his ritual! We don't know how to thwart him!" -Xian
"Do you want to understand the ritual, or thwart it? Do you care about understanding?" -Goei
"We want to know how to stop it."
"If you want to understand what's going on, all you must do is climb the mountain." -Goei
"That... I don't understand that at all. (regrouping) I really do want to take your advice, but I am an idiot and don't understand what you mean. Can you explain to me better what "death before dishonor" means, so I can do it?" -Xian
"(pause)Two things. I asked if you wanted to defeat the plot, or understand it, and you asked for understanding. Second, I started this by saying death before dishonor, and then you came in to talk about dishonor. Is there some death you need to be doing?" -Goei

Xian thwacks herself in the forehead.

"It's the people getting mauled! And not the good kind of molled!" -Xian

Death Before Dishonor

They dash off, putting a good word in in favor of Goei in case they all die and don't come back. Then, thanks to Wei Han, they leave Zhuai behind but arrive in the nick of time, as Ting Ting and the villagers are fighting the great dire bear.

"Don't be afraid! Fight with honor! What took you so long?" -Ting Ting

Ting Ting shouts to them that the villagers need to strike the bear to drive the demons out of it, but they should kill the demons when they emerge. However, they also need to draw the fire of the bear, which can slay a villager in one blow. Finally, there prove to be a large number of Lord Yu's masterful traps hidden around, which prove to be much more damaging to the villagers (or the party) than the bear.

Xian, Cai Wen, and Min Feng make leadership rolls, urging the villagers near them to fight the bear rather than flee. Cai Wen draws his golden sword and (with Ringmaster Te's projecting voice) exhorts the villagers to strike. Azure light spills from the blade, and nobody has to make leadership rolls anymore. Lijuan focuses on disarming traps, while Wei Han taunts the bear into going after him. The bear leaps about the map, but Wei Han holds onto it as best he can.

After ten villagers have struck the bear, the first demon emerges. Ting Ting shouts to the party to kill the demon and protect the villagers. Lijuan leaps in front of one villager to get chomped by the bear.

"On my tombstone, put that I disarmed a lot of traps!" -Lijuan
"You don't want anything about urchins or pork buns?" -Xian

More fighting ensues; the second demon is smaller and deadlier, and the third demon is the smallest and deadliest (with a x10 multiplier). Nevertheless, the demons are defeated without anyone dying. Ting Ting tells the villagers to flee, and Min Feng animal-handles the now confused bear into retreating as well.

Cai Wen and the Immortal Prince

Ting Ting starts to congratulate the party, when the golden sword glows a brighter and brighter azure, and grows hot to the touch, so Cai Wen has to put it down. It is picked up by Prince Ho Tan Mi, Sovereign of the Golden Palace, Warden of the Northern Seas, the Azure Blade.

"You have fought a battle for those who are smallest against your chosen foe, and I have already agreed to help you against this foe. So... I cut away the rest of his plans (makes a cutting gesture with his sword). Once the name of this country has changed, he will never be permitted to change it again."

Cai Wen realizes that the rest of the negative honor on the board is gone. Then, the Azure Blade bows, sheathes his sword, and strides away again.

"I will tell Kar Fai of our great victory - but next time if you have the aid of the Immortal Prince, you should tell me first!" -Ting Ting
"I don't any more." -Cai Wen

Ting Ting declares that they have fought with honor and grace, so they are welcome to come to the ceremony at the Red Pagoda.

At dawn, Kar Fai and Quan Lo and Yanzi (looking a little intimidated by the company) invoke the spirit of the Bear and ask his aid. They have led the people to free his bear from darkness, they have conquered an enemy with grace and honor, and they have installed a forward thinking advisor, with grace and honor. The three doing the working pass out, and are carried back to their pagodas (Yue-Mei carries Yanzi).

Then, in Min Feng’s first meeting with Lord Yu, when he asks her advice about the "demon bear", she gets to say that it has been dealt with already, impressing Lord Yu greatly.

Puttering

  • Takanata visits the Green Pagoda.
  • Shen-Ji visits the Green Pagoda.
  • Takanata wanders around the Roof of the World in search of peril.
  • Xiao Fa visits the Meihua Sannong temple in the Reflected City.
  • Xiao Fa and Takanata visit the Golden Spire.