Difference between revisions of "House of Jade"

From Dragon
Jump to: navigation, search
(Fifth Building)
 
Line 280: Line 280:
 
Deng searches the body of the old woman, and finds a key.  There is no obvious lockbox, and he thinks that there might be something in the chair, but there's no opening.    This key seems to match the key found in the first building, so perhaps there is no second lockbox.   
 
Deng searches the body of the old woman, and finds a key.  There is no obvious lockbox, and he thinks that there might be something in the chair, but there's no opening.    This key seems to match the key found in the first building, so perhaps there is no second lockbox.   
  
{{{QQ|Here is a lockbox key, and here, I '''assure''' you, is another lockbox key.|Xian}}
+
{{QQ|Here is a lockbox key, and here, I '''assure''' you, is another lockbox key.|Xian}}
  
 
Merit searches the throne some more, and Shuyan punches him (with her kung fu!).  Shuyan's adorable snake goes to help Merit, looking reproachfully at Shuyan.
 
Merit searches the throne some more, and Shuyan punches him (with her kung fu!).  Shuyan's adorable snake goes to help Merit, looking reproachfully at Shuyan.

Latest revision as of 17:57, 29 September 2017

"There is a skeleton in every house." The run begins on the Day of the Fox in the first Year of the Bear since the crowning of the Viridian Queen

The run takes place in the Strand

Previous Run

Contents

Malingering

Various people are in the Tanzhe Plain, at the Invasion HQ Temporary Command Bunker Eventual Governor's Headquarters, when Takanata paints some prophetic art.

Houseofjade.png

This seems likely to be related to the recent minirun in which Takanata, Xian, and Shuyan investigated Shuyan's backstory and found a map leading to her mother's birthplace.

Xian doesn't approve of the kerning. Takanata isn't pleased by the ghost, and Merit really doesn't want to go to the Strand at all. It's too far to walk, for one. Other people should go and come back and report to him. It is noted that that sounds like being sent as spies, which is probably no good.

Lijuan, happy to make Merit's day worse, draws some art as well.

JadeGhosts.png


Merit checks with the butler - are there any other plots that have wandered by asking to be done? No, not really. There should be a strategic campaign level map by next run, but it's not ready yet.

Ah, it's always time for the Signs of Toro to be read. Perhaps extra-slowly and dramatically. That does not last long as a distraction, so Merit suggests writing up wills. It's always good to have one's affairs in order.

"Any other continuing business?" -Merit

Takanata notes that long long ago, there was a chi scry that organized the cycle spirits into pro-Spider, pro-Dragon, and other. Serpent was mostly neutral but had some Dragon-ish secrets. He wonders if his art is about a secret like that, given the "Spiders and Dragons" title. He thinks it is, though by definition all secrets of that type would be double-edged.

Embarkation

Finally, the group heads off. Travelling to Nine Terraces is fairly straightforward, but then they must head south into the jungle, following a map that only Shuyan can read, and things become a bit more perilous.

As the group approaches where Shuyan says the X is, Takanata is found to no longer be with the party. They backtrack, and find where he deftly sidestepped between two tanglevine bushes, and ended up on a different path. Not everyone else is as deft in following him, and Xian gets stuck in a bush. While there are oils that will get a tanglevine to let go, no one has brought any, and fire is also believed to kill the bushes. Deng draws his flaming sword, but Xian protests - she does not think that setting a bush with her in it on fire is an appropriate solution. There is much argument as to whether or not "the healers can patch you up after" is sufficient amelioration to justify burning Xian alive, as long as it is not particularly fatally. Lijuan tries to lure the tanglevines away from Xian with her wood-magnet, and gets them to stretch out enough that Deng finds a place to chop that isn't full of Xian. The question of whether or not Xian should get a veto over being set on fire for the sake of expedience will continue to be a point of contention, however.

Once the group catches up to Takanata, it seems that his particular path isn't going towards Shuyan's X. Takanata explains that he was trying to follow an auspicious path instead, but everyone else thinks that going to the place that they want to be going, regardless of whether it is auspicious, is a better plan. They go back to the original path, and finally fetch up against a thick wall of jungle. Merit takes a moment to complain about the lack of the Orb of Light, which... would have helped make the jungle passable? Or see through the wall? The narrator has kind of lost track at this point, but Merit would like it on record that the use of the Orb of Light has saved hundreds of lives.

"There's a giant wall of jungle in the middle of the bitter recriminations phase." -Mike

On further examination, the wall of jungle seems to have an actual wall in it. Merit notes that the danger gradient off the path is higher - as is often the case for paths - but going forward to the wall jumps the danger setting from two to ten. Takanata notes that he did think the way they were going was inauspicious. So... what does it mean for their destination (or their path) to be auspicious, or inauspicious?

Auspicious is sort of Butterfly-favored. Possibly the House of Jade is something that only Shuyan can find. Or it's not a Butterfly plot in the first place.

Deng notes that the closest danger is quicksand, on the other side of the wall. Takanata starts wandering auspiciously again, back up the way he came. Perhaps this will lead to a gate in the wall! No, as it turns out, it leads to a short cut back to Nine Terraces.

Well, that seems clear that Butterfly is definitely Not Sending them to the House of Jade. On the other hand, the somewhat fictionalized prophetic art does seem to be sending them to the House of Jade. So Butterfly is saying... wink wink don't go to the House of Jade? It's somewhat puzzling.

The group heads back through the wilds of the Strand yet again (the short cut does not appear to be bidirectional), and finally gets back to the jungle wall. People climb to the top of the wall - there seems to be a rectangular area, like a box that has had jungle poured into it until it is overflowing. The group heads around the perimeter (walking on the wall) until they reach somewhere that appears to have once had a gate, on the theory that following what was once a path might be a little safer.

First Building

The jungle density is very high, and each hex is a new random encounter. Deng has sense danger, though, and Merit can copy it, so they can avoid the worst of the problems. (Deng thinks vampire frogs are more dangerous than saber tooth tigers, while Merit thinks saber tooth tigers are more dangerous).

The tiger proves to have claw-claw-bite attacks, which are non-trivial to parry, so it does some damage to Deng before he kills it. The whomping willow is avoided, though there is some outcry that perhaps it should be searched, just in case there is a secret entrance underneath it.

"This is how we get on boats." -Xian

Eventually, the entrance to the first building (so overgrown as to be nearly invisible) is discovered.

Grand Foyer
The floor of the Grand Foyer is once-smooth marble tiles, now jagged and broken by roots. There are statues in each corner - a woman holding a lotus, a man with a sword, a dancing child, and an indeterminate figure being crushed by the coils of a giant snake. On either side there are heavy cabinets, grown over by alarmingly orange moss with little flowers that reach questingly towards anyone who approaches.

Lijuan dances with the statue, opening herself to the chi of the room, and comes to understand that she's surrounded by fools. She starts getting cranky about the amount of time everyone is taking in order to dither about whether or not to open the cabinets.

Takanata meditates, and discovers that the chi of the area is trying to suppress... something... but he can't find anything else out because Lijuan has already tagged the chi here. He heads to the next room off of the foyer.

Library
This is not the library of someone who enjoyed reading, or loved collecting books for their own sake. This is the library of someone who knows that books are a codified form of power, to be used, and to be guarded against use by the unworthy. The desk is heavy, with a writing stone and locked drawers. Dark, brooding bookshelves have weighty tomes and moldering scrolls.

Shuyan proves to be an expert searcher, and discovers the lockbox hidden behind one of the bookshelves. Merit notes that the locked drawers have an old-style poison-fang trap, so Shuyan just pokes it a few times until it's out of poison, and then the lock can be picked more safely. The most interesting thing in the desk drawer is a coded ledger - Merit examines it for a while, but there are too many variables, and he thinks that he might need to know more about the person who wrote it.

The third and last room in the building is the dining room.

Dining Room
A formal dining room, with oppressively heavy chairs, especially the one at the head of the table that comes close to a throne in stature. The windows are broken and animals have ravaged the tapestries and linens, but the heavy sideboards and other furniture has survived. Much of the cloth has been dragged to the corner of the room, into something of a nest. Silverware has accumulated in another corner, crusted with something grey and quivering.

Lijuan sits confidently in the throne-like chair, surveying her domain, until someone suggests that "someone brave and nearly invulnerable should investigate the nest." She shakes the nest out, sending rats in all directions. Xian screams.

The grey stuff on the silverware is identified as "metalbane slime", which dissolves lesser metals but can't dissolve silver or gold or platinum. There could be a key underneath, it's hard to tell. Deng offers to set it on fire, but that might cause a lot of splattering. Xian notes that not everything needs to be set on fire. Possibly the slime wouldn't hurt someone who had stripped naked and had nothing metal on them.

Takanata meditates on the chi of the dining room.

"Takanata, did you get anything from the meditation?"
"Oh, I probably screwed up."

Okay, that's weird.

"Do you think this is a bad idea?" -Xian
"I don't know. If you think it's okay, it's probably okay." -Takanata
"That's... that's kind of nice, actually." -Merit
"Maybe we just leave them this way. Lijuan would be in charge." -Xian

Shuyan goes to meditate in the library, and Takanata goes back into the dining room to polish the silverware. Eventually, after Lijuan has been sufficiently contemptuous of everyone, she has some insight - there is probably a backup key to the lockbox hidden in the snake statue. It requires quite a lot of manhandling to get out, but eventually the key falls out, and Shuyan snatches it up to open the lockbox. There are some papers, and an armband and a brooch, which she puts on.

Takanata finishes cleaning the silverware, and sets the table. Does Shuyan want to take the silverware?

"I don't feel like there are secrets inside of the silverware." -Shuyan

Shuyan, under the influence of the library, is differently cranky than Lijuan - generally suspicious and unwilling to share. Hmm.

Xian thinks the foyer cabinet could still have something interesting in it; after quite a lot of squabbling, Merit throws the silverware at the cabinet, until the creepy flowers are gone. He gets a lot of acid spray in the air, which gets in people's eyes, and discovers moldering linens.

Looking back in the library at what is on the shelves, Merit finds a book on natural philosophy, and the most well-thumbed of the volumes is a book of the history of the aristocracy of the Strand.

Second Building

Then, it is back to the random hex encounters until another building can be found. The most interesting of these is a set of giant slugs, but by the time they reach the next building, all of Lijuan, Shuyan, and Takanata are feeling more like themselves. Shuyan's insight is only about the hidden lockbox, but Takanata has figured out more of the personality of the ledger-writer (quite wretched) and Merit can now decode the ledger, which itemizes a steady stream of supplies being delivered from Nine Terraces. The supplies are sufficient to maintain a decent household, but they are instead stretched and the gifts are sold, and the coin spent on over-expensive weapons (indicating that they might be being obtained illegally) and poisons. The book seems to be the most recent in a series.


The new building opens onto what appears to be a schoolroom.

Schoolroom
An odd combination of austere and cluttered, the schoolroom spares nothing for comfort, but is full of what can only be described as the accoutrements of homework. A switch hangs on the wall, far too convenient. Books and writing stones and moldering stone abaci, covered by a thick coating of grunge and yellow mold.

Merit thinks that yellow mold is particularly dangerous to paper.

Off of the schoolroom is another:

Study
A haphazard mess of a room, but the closest thing to comfortable that you've seen yet in this place. A pipe and what might have been a pouch of tobacco... or opium. A shogi set, but at a table with only one chair. A birdcage with carefully arranged rocks inside.

Lijuan figures out that the birdcage holds what appears to be a loving family of rocks - two parents, an older brother rock, and a baby rock. Huh.

The visible pouch is probably tobacco, because the arm of the chair holds a pouch of blue opium - imported from the southern barbarians, and prized by opium snobs.

Shuyan meditates in the schoolroom, and stops being able to stay still, while Kasumi meditates in the study, and becomes somewhat... odd.

Shuyan spins around until everyone is caught in her mesmerizing snake dance for a while, and then runs outside to accidentally get in a fight with monitor lizards. Kasumi jumps off bookcases onto Xian, who is not very good at ninja-catching.

Deng watches the monitor lizard fight with interest, and then Takanata actually kills one. With his sword!

Xian starts poking Shuyan and Kasumi to try to figure out their quirks; eventually they work through their new psych lims, and Kasumi has the inspiration to look outside the study window, where two seals are found. One is (very rare) black jade, with the Yu sigil, somewhat in the style of the armband Shuyan is wearing. The other is (less rare) redstone with an unfamiliar sigil. Shuyan finds a carved message in the schoolroom rafters, from Kyoko to her little brother Yachi, apologizing for leaving and telling him if he is old enough to climb into the rafters, he is old enough to go himself.

Takanata climbs onto the roof and looks around with Eyes of the I Ching. It appears that Serpent-flavored chi is influencing the chi of the Strand, which is itself influencing the local jungle, in order to keep the "spirits" (more like echoes than ghosts) trapped and forgotten while destroying it; there is a somewhat parallel effect keeping the inside / insiders in, and outsiders out.

Lijuan thinks that "echoes" explains why the ghosts in her upside-down-ghost art are so fuzzy and vague. And Shuyan points out that the "frantic" emotion was Kyoko, who escaped, and definitely didn't die here to become a ghost.

Third Building

The next building is small, and nearby - just a gardening shed.

Gardening Shed
Cramped and unpleasant probably even before it was taken over by the jungle, which has run riot in the mulch. Tools are entwined by vines and unpleasantly bulging fruit hangs heavy and smelling of ferment, even in the dark. The overwhelming vegetation makes it hard to notice the long-dead body.

"Er, maybe I shouldn't have just read that last sentence out loud." -Mike

Merit identifies most of the fruit as poisonous; the last one is healthful, but going bad quickly. The body is of an older man, dead perhaps ten years or so, who has been stabbed in the back with pruning shears. The state of the body makes it difficult to determine if there is any resemblance to Shuyan, but his clothes are more appropriate for a noble puttering in the garden, rather than a gardener. So perhaps this is her grandfather.

Takanata calls up visions of the past, and sees an older man in these clothes (green and red), stabbed by an older woman in green and black. Both man and woman have some resemblance to Shuyan.

Merit meditates on the chi of the place, and falls into despair. Xian interrogates him.

"What are people like?" -Xian
"They're mostly wasting their time." -Merit
"What about children?"
"I've never had any. Probably for the best."

There seems little else to be learned from the shed, so the group moves on while Merit contemplates the futility of supporting Dragon. Has anyone else noticed that Dragon is kind of desperate? He's supporting Xiao Fa for emperor, with Lucky Chang as backup, not because they're the best emperor choices, but because they're the only ones who he has! He put Merit in charge of his spy team and Merit just thinks of Dragon as a tool for Team Butterfly!

"Dragon has no clue. He's out of options, and we're the best he has." -Merit

Merit is pretty persuasive, actually...

Fourth Building

Armory
Knives, swords, halberds. Armor and shields. Far more than seems necessary for a household this small. Ridiculously far more. One sword, broken in two, is mounted above the door. An urn holds several blades that appear to still have dried blood on them, while other blades appear to have been once well-polished, perhaps even obsessively so.

Deng notes, in great dismay, that this is the largest collection of non-magic masterwork weapons he has ever seen, but they have been allowed to rust down to x3. Such a waste. He takes down the broken sword and examines it - it has a red tassel, and a hilt mark indicating the House of Crimson.

The echo here seems likely to be dangerous - it would probably be a bad idea to let Deng meditate on it, if it comes with a "kill them all" impulse. Perhaps Takanata? Or Xian? People are nervous about making Xian too destructive either. While people are arguing over it, Lijuan meditates on the atmosphere of the room.

More bitter recriminations begin. Lijuan is not pleased that everyone keeps ignoring her opinions and plots. Xian points out that the party has gone to two of her weddings, which seem like her plots. Lijuan snarks about Xian's success rate with her plots. Takanata finds all this fighting distasteful, and goes into the kitchen, and Merit, still despondent, goes back to dig in the gardening shed. Takanata goes into the cellar.

Kitchen
A thorough and well-stocked kitchen, but now frighteningly rotted. The pots and pans are rusted, the jars have who knows what in them, and those things hanging from the ceiling... might have been hams once.

Cellar
This is really dark. Really really dark. There are hints of boxes, casks, urns... but mostly the darkness hangs incredibly heavy, and things seem to move just at the edge of vision.

"Is this a goddamn horror movie? What are you doing? Don't go into the cellar! And back to the shed!" -Xian

Xian needles Lijuan into punching her in the face, while Merit digs up the journal that Grandfather buried underneath the gardening shed. Kasumi really wants to search the cellar, but it's dark and spooky. Carrying everything from the cellar into the kitchen to search would take all day, and no one wants to be here when night falls.

Takanata meditates in the kitchen, and Kasumi meditates in the cellar.

Takanata starts to head out into the jungle to look for flowers, but Deng grabs him to keep him from going anywhere. Takanata panics.

"Stop him! He got possessed by something and is going to kill me!" -Takanata

Takanata explains - if he has a bouquet of flowers, people can't attack him.

"Why do you not have flowers all the time?" -Xian
"Yup, that's why we're going to lose." -Merit

Kasumi's new emotional state seems to be jealous, so Merit passes out cookies, giving the most to Kasumi. Almost everyone is suspicious of the cookies and refuses to eat them. Then he throws three li at Lijuan and searches the kitchen.

"Okay, that's the old Li Merit back." -Xian

Xian and Deng squabble about how the only use Deng ever makes of the flaming sword is to set Xian on fire.

"Wait, neither of them is possessed, right?" -Shuyan

Merit disguises himself as a scary clown, and Takanata blasts him with his wand of fireballs. Things seem to be getting a little out of control. Takanata notes that the kitchen is full of poisons, which are collected up. Kasumi finds the treasure in the basement, hidden in a small cask - a set of miniature portraits. And Lijuan notes that the broken sword is likely Grandfather's, as Grandmother's perpetual reminder of his failures.

That's enough of this building; the group heads out to look for the next. Deng picks some flowers for Takanata, who makes a bouquet.

The most interesting of the random encounters is a boulder on which there are large dark butterflies watching them.

"That's the past five years of my life." -Lijuan

Fifth Building

People have begun to get the hang of things, so they quickly look through the three rooms in the final building.

Ballroom
A once-glittering ballroom, hung with too many crystal chandeliers and silk curtains, but furnished in a long outmoded style. Pillars in the corners are intricately carved in patterns of leaves and vines, that mirror the leaves and vines that have grown through the windows and around the fixtures. Huh - the chains that would lower the chandeliers are not on a pulley - they would never have been lowered to change the candles. The musician's corner has never heard music, and the dance floor has never been danced on.

Ancestor shrine
An ancestor shrine which is an odd combination of imposing and insufficiently well stocked. Some of the tablets on the stone tables are extra-large and ornate, but several of the tables bear no ancestor's tablet at all. Nevertheless, the overall impression is one of severely disapproving ancestor-ghosts frowning and ready to make their disapproval manifest.

Solarium
This second-floor room has large windows that would overlook the now-jungle, if it weren't itself all overgrown by trees and vines. A throne-like chair has the desiccated remains of an old woman.

There are no obvious signs of foul play for the body of the old woman.

Kasumi meditates to pick up the echo from the ballroom, and promptly changes into a fancy dress. Merit meditates in the solarium, and Shuyan takes the shrine.

Merit starts setting up the ancestor tablets into a pai-gow game, appalling Lijuan and Xian, and causing Shuyan to vow vengeance against him. Lijuan swaps some decorative rocks in for the ancestor tablets, and puts them back on their tables.

Lijuan checks for decorative rocks in the ex-potted plants, and goes to make a sleight of hand roll to swap the rocks for ancestor tablets. Shuyan and Merit seem to be setting each other off, so Xian and Lijuan try to get Kasumi through her psych lim.

"I just want to go home and take a shower, somewhere that I can touch things and eat the fish. We can't all be as strong and pretty as you." -Lijuan

Deng searches the body of the old woman, and finds a key. There is no obvious lockbox, and he thinks that there might be something in the chair, but there's no opening. This key seems to match the key found in the first building, so perhaps there is no second lockbox.

"Here is a lockbox key, and here, I assure you, is another lockbox key." -Xian

Merit searches the throne some more, and Shuyan punches him (with her kung fu!). Shuyan's adorable snake goes to help Merit, looking reproachfully at Shuyan.

"I push the body off so I have more room on the throne." -Merit

Well, the snake has a little less sympathy now.

After a lot more squabbling, everyone finishes the last of their emotional echoes, and finds the last of the various hidden clues (a family tree in the carved ballroom trees, a discarded ancestor tablet in the cesspit, the banishment scroll hidden in a sealed compartment in the chair).

Shuyan's great-grandmother was the eldest daughter of the Nephrite Queen (mother of the Malachite Queen and grandmother of the Viridian Queen). But she was banished by her mother to the House of Jade, along with her lineage. Interesting. So... Shuyan is the rightful Queen of the Strand? Well, that sort of depends on whether the Queen has the ability to disinherit her daughter or not.

Shuyan packs up the mementoes and clues, and Xian and Lijuan perform a laying-to-rest ceremony on the two bodies. The ceremony is performed without complications, but those sensitive to the chi of the area find things more oppressive now - the pressure of the jungle to wipe the place away is now unopposed. So the atmosphere seems... more foreboding but spiritually cleaner.

Takanata spends a karma to let Shuyan ask for a conversation with the Great Serpent Spirit to ask her remaining questions. A long conversation later, Shuyan reports that Serpent said that the line was tainted and had to be crushed; the tainting happened as part of an attempt to change the country that was prevented (by the banishment). Unfortunately, a later attempt to change the country succeeded. When Shuyan asked if the Serpent would approve of her trying to become queen, the Serpent's reply was that if Shuyan wanted to content for the throne against another of Serpent's daughter, she should give it careful consideration first. It is not a small step.

As for why there might be a Dragon-relevant secret here - presumably the Jade Queen could be quite helpful to the Dragon. Xian notes that if Shuyan doesn't want to be queen, she might be able to get something for agreeing not to contend for the throne.

Everyone return to the Tanzhe to think...

Module Contents

Grand Foyer
The floor of the Grand Foyer is once-smooth marble tiles, now jagged and broken by roots. There are statues in each corner - a woman holding a lotus, a man with a sword, a dancing child, and an indeterminate figure being crushed by the coils of a giant snake. On either side there are heavy cabinets, grown over by alarmingly orange moss with little flowers that reach questingly towards anyone who approaches.
Echo: Arrogant
You are far more impressive than your companions. More intelligent, and more important. Obviously they should recognize your superiority.
Potential catchphrases:
"I'm surrounded by fools."
"Step aside and let someone who knows what they're doing have a look"
Insight: Whoever lived here would be sure they would never need to resort to the backup key. So it would be somewhere that would be a serious pain to get out if you need, like down in the crevasse at the center of the serpent statue.

Item:
Lockbox Key: A complex key


Library
This is not the library of someone who enjoyed reading, or loved collecting books for their own sake. This is the library of someone who knows that books are a codified form of power, to be used, and to be guarded against use by the unworthy. The desk is heavy, with a writing stone and locked drawers. Dark, brooding bookshelves have weighty tomes and moldering scrolls. (The books are all non-fiction. There are some coded ledgers, and a large lockbox very well hidden behind a sliding bookshelf. The lockbox looks like the sort of thing that is internally trapped to destroy the contents if broke into.)
Echo: Paranoid
Your so-called friends try not to show it, but they want you to fail.
Potential catchphrases:
"That's what you'd like me to think, isn't it?"
"Why are you lying to me?"
Insight: Whoever lived here would keep their valuables --- especially the ones that they thought someone else would want --- well hidden. Probably triggered by something behind the most boring of the books. But it would likely be very well trapped without the key. The keys would be on them at all times - but there might be a backup key.

Item:
Coded Ledger: It's probably accounting? In very complicated code?

Item:
Decoded Ledger: The ledger, once decoded, itemizes a steady stream of supplies being delivered from Nine Terraces. It is sufficient to maintain a decent household, but the supplies are instead stretched and the gifts are sold, and the coin spent on over-expensive weapons (indicating that they must be being obtained illegally) and poisons. This seems to be the most recent in a series.

Item:
Serpent Brooch: A brooch of woven gold, in the shape of a serpent, ruby-eyed and studdied with rubies along its length. The workmanship is amazingly good.

Item:
Serpent Armband: A heavy armband, carved from a single piece of dark green jade into a cobra that coils around the arm. Incised into the hood is the sigil: ``Yu

Item:
Torn Letter: A letter for Kyoko on her eighteenth birthday. It explains that while she will never live up to the glorious potential of her birthright, these treasures are hers. It has been torn up.

Item:
Torn Letter: A letter for Yachi on his eighteenth birthday. It explains that while he will oviously never live up to the glorious potential of his birthright, these treasures are his to guard until a daughter of his is born. It has been torn up.


Dining Room
A formal dining room, with oppressively heavy chairs, especially the one at the head of the table that comes close to a throne in stature. The windows are broken and animals have ravaged the tapestries and linens, but the heavy sideboards and other furniture has survived. Much of the cloth has been dragged to the corner of the room, into something of a nest. Silverware has accumulated in another corner, crusted with something grey and quivering.
Echo: Wretched
You are not worthy. You try to serve, but you deserve to be crushed.
Potential catchphrases:
"If you think that would be okay."
"I'll probably screw it up."
Insight: Whoever lived here had been convinced of their own worthlessness, but would have had to do a lot of the hard work anyway. So any coding/encryption scheme they made would have been... self-sabotagingly difficult. More math than necessary, nothing that could be easily memorized. Oddly, that makes it possible to decode it, because there are so many mistakes.


Gardening Shed
Cramped and unpleasant probably even before it was taken over by the jungle, which has run riot in the mulch. Tools are entwined by vines and unpleasantly bulging fruit hangs heavy and smelling of ferment, even in the dark. The overwhelming vegetation makes it hard to notice the long-dead body. More investigation will show that it's the body of an older man, dead for ~ten years, stabbed in the back with a set of pruning blades.
Echo: Despairing
How could you ever have thought to succeed? Everything will come to naught. You, and all you might have hoped to care about, are doomed.
Potential catchphrases:
"There's no point, really. It's not like it will come to anything in the end."
"I give up."
"Maybe I'll just lie down in this poison mold for a while."
Insight: Obviously, whoever lived here wasn't happy. But the gardening shed was their escape, and their private shrine. There could be something buried here, to be kept but never discovered.

Item:
Journal: A journal wrapped in oilcloth. It is written from a father to his daughter, first, and later to his son. Partly an apology for not being strong enough to protect them from their mother, partly self-justification, partly pride when first one, then the other, escapes the family. He hopes that they find meaningful lives somewhere else, away from the curse of their royal blood. The journal tapers off and ends, a little while after the son leaves.


Schoolroom
An odd combination of austere and cluttered, the schoolroom spares nothing for comfort, but is full of what can only be described as the accoutrements of homework. A switch hangs on the wall, far too convenient. Books and writing stones and moldering stone abaci, covered by a thick coating of grunge and mold.
Echo: Frantic
It's hard to stand still, or keep your mouth shut. You want to be doing something, going somewhere, talking about something, explaining, exploring, anything to not be stuck.
Potential catchphrases:
"Maybe we should look for the next building."
"I'll do that too."
"Do you want to spar?"
Insight: Whoever lived here spent way too much time in this room, and wanted to escape. But they might have left a message, somewhere that their parents wouldn't think to look. Somewhere that someone small, and energetic might be able to reach.

Item:
Carved Message: A section of rafter, with a short message. "Yachi - if you've found this, you're old enough to escape. I wish I could have waited, but you know why I couldn't. I would have become a little copy of Mother. Go. Go. Go."


Study
A haphazard mess of a room, but the closest thing to comfortable that you've seen yet in this place. A pipe and what might have been a pouch of tobacco... or opium. A shogi set, but at a table with only one chair. A birdcage with carefully arranged rocks inside.
Echo: Irrational
Of course rocks. Because they can't fly away. You'd probably fly if you lived here. Maybe you can fly. If you were a rock.
Potential catchphrases:
"I think I had better count them all to be sure."
"I really don't like the way the trees are talking about us."
"I think I should be upside down now."
Insight: Whoever lived here was probably prone to fits of whimsy. If there was anything important in here, it might have been thrown out the window.

Item:
Jade seal: An ornate black jade seal with the Yu sigil

Item:
Redstone seal: An carved redstone seal of an unfamiliar sigil


Armory
Knives, swords, halberds. Armor and shields. Far more than seems necessary for a household this small. Ridiculously far more. One sword, broken in two, is mounted above the door. An urn holds several blades that appear to still have dried blood on them, while other blades appear to have been once well-polished, perhaps even obsessively so.
Echo: Cruel
There's a simple joy in hurting other people. Physically, emotionally, whatever. You could watch people flinch for hours...
Potential catchphrases:
"You're really not very good at this, are you?"
"Maybe I'll just stab you in the face..."
Insight: The sword is a memento of someone else's failure, prominently displayed. If this stockpile was the goal of the family matriarch, the sword was probably her husband's.

Item:
Broken sword: A sword, once of fine workmanship, with a red tassel on the hilt and a hilt-mark indicating an offshoot branch of the House of Crimson.


Kitchen
A thorough and well-stocked kitchen, but now frighteningly rotted. The pots and pans are rusted, the jars have who knows what in them, and those things hanging from the ceiling... might have been hams once.
Echo: Terrified
This is the worst place in the world. Something is going to kill you dead any moment now.
Potential catchphrases:
"AAAAAAAH"
"What was that?"
Insight: Whoever lived here was in quite reasonable mortal terror of all of the poisons in those spice jars. The family might have built up an immunity, but whoever was doing the cooking certainly hadn't.

Item:
Poison Set: A collection of interestingly obscure poisons


Cellar
This is really dark. Really really dark. There are hints of boxes, casks, urns... but mostly the darkness hangs incredibly heavy, and things seem to move just at the edge of vision.
Echo: Greedy
It doesn't seem right that everyone else has so much nicer stuff than you. Probably you should keep the treasure from this run to even it out.
Potential catchphrases:
"Can I have that? It's nice."
"I don't think I'm getting my fair share of these."
Insight: Whoever lived here cared a lot about their stuff, but some of them, in previous generations, cared about other, less saleable treasures. Those would be somewhere well-hidden, like in the cheapest-looking of the casks.

Item:
Portrait Set: A small collection of paintings of individual people's faces from several generations. The most recent is a picture of a young girl resembling Shuyan a little.


Fancy ballroom
A once-glittering ballroom, hung with too many crystal chandeliers and silk curtains, but furnished in a long outmoded style. Pillars in the corners are intricately carved in patterns of leaves and vines, that mirror the leaves and vines that have grown through the windows and around the fixtures. Huh --- the chains that would lower the chandeliers are not on a pulley --- they would never have been lowered to change the candles. The musician's corner has never heard music, and the dance floor has never been danced on.
Echo: Vain
Regardless of what anyone's stats might suggest, you are by far the most attractive person in the party. And the most charming. It is only right and proper that you have the best things, and stand in the best light.
Potential catchphrases:
"Oh, I don't think someone like you would ever really understand."
"You're so lucky to have me around."
Insight: Whoever lived here was really full of themselves. Not just personally, though, but as part of an ongoing family. There is probably some way to rub that in the noses of the... imaginary guests who were never really there. Probably hidden in the decorations?

Item:
Carved Tree-Pillar: The tree carved into this pillar is in fact a family tree. The maternal line is clearly the important one, going back three generations to the eldest daughter of the Nephrite Queen. The sigils of the fathers are from noble houses, most recently Crimson.


Ancestor shrine
An ancestor shrine which is an odd combination of imposing and insufficiently well stocked. Some of the tablets on the stone tables are extra-large and ornate, but several of the tables bear no ancestor's tablet at all. Nevertheless, the overall impression is one of severely disapproving ancestor-ghosts frowning and ready to make their disapproval manifest.
Echo: Unforgiving
The smallest of slights is a lifetime grudge! You will not forgive, and you will never forget!
Potential catchphrases:
"Just you wait."
"My vengeance against those who have wronged me will be legendary."
Insight: Whoever lived here revered their near ancestors, but that missing tablet probably belongs to whatever ancestor sent the family here. It's probably in the cesspit. Probably whoever has irritated you most recently should go search it.

Item:
Jade Ancestor Tablet: This is an ancestor tablet for the Nephrite Queen. As it has her true name on it, no one but her true descendant is permitted to possess it, on potential pain of death.

Item:
Ancestor Tablets: A set of ancestor tablets for several generations of the Yu family


Solarium
This second-floor room has large windows that would overlook the now-jungle, if it weren't itself all overgrown by trees and vines. A throne-like chair has the desiccated remains of an old woman. (She has the non-backup key on her.)
Echo: Callous
Everyone seems to care so much about all of this. It's becoming hard to see the point.
Potential catchphrases:
"Yeah, whatever."
"Ask me if I care."
Insight: The solarium is the room of someone who both pretends to not care that she is trapped, and rails with all of her bitter effort against the fact that she is trapped. Whatever she preserved of that, it would be somewhere she never ever had to look at. Perhaps in the chair itself.

Item:
Lockbox Key: A complex key

Item:
Banishment Scroll: A formal scroll banishing Yu Mao and her descendants to the House of Jade, now and forever, by the word and the name of the Nephrite Queen.