|"A day in prison is longer than a thousand years at large"|| The run begins early in the Month of the Spider in the tenth Year of the Bear since the Third Treaty of Houses.|
The run takes place in an initially mysterious jail
The party wakes in a cell. They don’t remember how they got there, and there are more than the usual number, but everyone in the party is in a disguise, so it’s a bit tricky to determine who is who without blowing their identities to all of their fellow prisoners.
In addition to all of the recently awakened prisoners, there are a couple of unconscious bodies on the floor. One is determined to be very, very intoxicated and needs to “sleep it off”. The other is out, but not for any apparent reason and not down on hit points. He’s expected to wake up any time now, and perhaps was just one of the slower to wake of the original set.
People start pumping each other for information, and determine that they really don’t know where they are, or who they are with, so everyone gets a little cagier. Yanyu determines that one of the prisoners is Spider aspected and pumps him for information, but he seems to mostly be waiting for the new prisoners to reveal something useful he can trade for freedom. So, conversation dies even further.
Meanwhile, in a completely separate, better appointed cell, Takanta and Shuyan wake up and manage to converse quietly with each other once determining who is who. Takanata attempts to figure out what happened by getting a vision of the past on Shuyan. He sees a fancy party in which Shuyan (in disguise) leaps up and says, “Die Precious Jade!” and then attacks her. That’s all he gets, though, so it’s unclear what happened to lead to or from this event. Shuyan summons a snake of secrets, and sends it to figure out where she is.
Finally, in a third even better appointed luxury cell, Cai Wen awakes, wonders why he is in disguise, and eventually gets around to banging on his bars. His jailers bring him some tea to help with his headache, as this is a luxury cell, and he settles in. After a bit, he tries some exploratory tapping on one of the walls, but when it becomes musical, he gets a response! Some various code tappings later, and Cai Wen has determined that he is in a cell next to Shuyan and Takanata.
Meanwhile, back in the main cell, the rest of the party wonder why their cell has an attached room with an apparent magic ritual on it. When Xiao Fa (as always, in disguise) starts approaching it, one of the other prisoners takes pity on him and tells him that if he enters that room, he’ll be knocked unconscious. That’s how you get in this cell in the first place, you see. You teleport in, fall unconscious and then guards move you into this holding tank to wait for processing before a magistrate.
Shuyan's snake reports home. Apparently, they are in the jail three levels below the central police station of the Ivory district in the Dragon’s Throne. Well, that’s no good.
- "Sigh, Ivory district. 14 successes for everything. " -Takanata
Yanyu chats with another prisoner that she initially believes must be Kasumi, but determines that her aspect is Fox instead of Monkey, so maybe that’s not who she thinks it is.
Wei Han suggests they just break out and starts talking about smashing through the cell door.
This upsets some heretofore unseen guards who were in the hall.
- "What's all this yammering? You have problems with your accommodations, we'd be willing to improve them if you'd be willing to make a statement. If you confess, we'll get you processed right away." -Guards
They offer to take confessions to just about any crime the prisoners wish to name, but after some brief discussion, no one decides to confess anything or formally identify themselves. So they’re told to sit down and wait.
After some more waiting, the sound of a huge vaultlike door is heard opening and a guard shift change is underway. During this time, a guard commander comes in and asks everyone for statements. He’d be happy to move them upstairs if they wish to identify themselves and admit to any crimes. The party prisoners wonder what crimes they are charged with and the guard commander demurs by saying that “the Lord Mayor’s Office is working on that.” Oh dear. No one volunteers to spill the beans.
They refresh Cai Wen’s tea, provide him with some hot towels, and then move down the hall to a final cell no one had noticed before where they ask the prisoner within “Where is it!?” A muffled voice from in the cell says that he’ll never tell. The guards interrogate him a little through the door, but don’t seem very invested in it. It’s like they’ve done this every day for a while and are bored with interrogating this guy when he never answers.
The shift change ends, the guard commander and his escort leave, and the huge vault like door sound indicates the cell block is secure once more.
Well, Wei Han has had enough of this, so he smashes a chair to make a simple club and shield, then starts banging on the cell door. The two remaining guards rush up and tell him to sit down and be quiet immediately, or they will sound the alarm and no one will like the consequences.
Wei Han stares them down for a few moments and then with a huge roar slams himself *through* the cell door! The guards panic! One runs for the alarm rope, but Takanata uses his powers to make that guard stumble so he doesn’t get there. Wei Han enters combat with the other guard and tries to keep them both away from the alarm. Shuyan tries to distract the guards, but it’s a little difficult through a cell door as hers is still locked.
Yanyu pops out of her cell and sets one of the guards on fire, while Wei Han takes the other down.
Eventually, the party seizes control of the cell block and gets the guards' keys, sword and uniforms. One sword is given to Wei Han and the other is given to the prisoner that Takanata thinks is Kasumi (though we later find out he’s wrong about that).
Well, everyone is let out of their cells (except the super special prisoner at the end of the hall), and people take stock. It seems the cell block doors only open from the outside, so while they have run of this area, they can’t further their escape.
Takanata carefully examines the ritual in the teleportation room and between him and Xiao Fa, they determine that it 1) acts as a teleport receiver for specifically keyed teleports, 2) acts as a teleport interceptor for anyone using ‘escape smoke’ within its range (probably district wide), and 3) knocks out anyone who arrive in the room (either by teleporting or walking). Oddly, none of that should affect one’s memory, so party members are still unclear why they remember nothing.
Meanwhile, Cai Wen chats with the guy in the mysterious solitary cell. Cai Wen quietly brags about his own exploits, even revealing his identity to the guy, and this inspires the guy to reciprocate. He identifies himself as Renata the Thief! He’s personally broken out of every other cell in his block over the many months he’s been here, though he can’t get out of the cell block. But his many many escapes are why the guards constructed this special cell that can keep even him in. As it turns out, Cai Wen has met Renata before, way back in book 1, where he encountered him at a party delivering cursed silk in some other plot.
He’s locked in quite a secure cell. They can open the outer door with the guards keys, but the inner black door seems nearly impenetrable. Renata is sure he could pick the lock from the outside, but can’t do anything from inside. The party tries a bit and is not up to the lockpicking challenge. Eventually, Shuyan manages to get a snake to travel through the sewers (yuck!) and get into Renata’s cell. Renata gives the snake his magic lockpicks, and the snakes makes it back to Shuyan, who hands the lockpicks to Yanyu. Yanyu then steals Min Feng’s skill in lockpicking and using the magic lockpicks, just manages to get the door open. Hooray! Renata is free once more. Or at least, free, but still stuck within the cell block. Takanata takes this opportunity to read his I Ching and determines that he is much like Tsai Su-Yin, in that he was lost in darkness since book one and has been growing in power ever since. Now he is a major pawn in the great game. Or more.
The only remaining escape plan people can come up with is to pull the alarm rope, and overwhelm the reinforcements when they open the outer doors and come in to restore order. Renata nixes this plan though, and suggests that even if the party is filled with fighters as good as he is a thief, they still don’t want to take on the entire Ivory police force on full alert. Given that the prisoners have only two swords among them, and one of those is in the hands of someone who’s not even a party member, people agree and try to settle in to think of another plan.
Elsewhere, Kasumi is in a safehouse chatting with Precious Jade about how it all went wrong. Unlike everyone else, Kasumi seems to remember the earlier parts of the run. There was a lot of political discussion, and Takanata kept trying to sneak off to talk to Horse, but people told him to deal with it later, and Cai Wen was trying to get a good price for paying back some favor. Eventually all of that boring stuff finished, and people got down to the plan. They would all put on super magical disguises and invade a high society party Precious Jade was at. They’d stage an assassination attempt, and make the guards look bad, but bungle it just enough to be driven off when reinforcements arrived. As soon as they thought they were about to lost control of the situation, they’d all escape smoke out and meet back at the safehouse.
It was going down perfectly. Well, almost perfectly. People got a little too enthusiastic, but no one was really deadly and noone was hurt. Precious Jade looks really scared for a moment there, but she’s a good actress, so who knows. In any case, the cops showed up and everyone started escape smoking out. But it didn’t look right to Kasumi. She thought about it, and was convinced that the escape smoke wasn’t escaping them, it was capturing them. So she eschewed her own escape smoke and snuck away with stealth.
Back at the safehouse, no one showed up. Just as Kasumi was about to go do something unbelievably heroic, Precious Jade showed up and seemed puzzled that no one else was there. After some investigation and information gathering, Jade said that the party was all captured, but for reasons she doesn’t understand, no one knows who they are, and what they were captured for, or even what they were carrying when they got captured. It’s very odd. So they haven’t been to a magistrate yet and are still in a holding cell, while the Lord Mayor’s office tries to figure out what is going on. He’ll get it eventually though, so if a jailbreak is in order, it had better happen soon.
Precious Jade provides Kasumi with maps to all of the police stations and things do not look good. The cell blocks in Ivory are a tough nut to crack and manned by a bunch of guys who generally roll 14 successes on most things. She could probably sneak in, and maybe even get a key to open the cell blocks, but there’s no way the party could fight it’s way out if everyone were on alert, and they just aren’t sneaky enough to sneak out.
Eventually Kasumi decides what they need is a distraction. If she could lure most of the guard battalion away, then the party would only have to fight through a dozen or two of the Ivory guards to get out. Surely Wei Han could handle that, right? But the distraction would have to be close by, as if it were too far away, they wouldn’t send Ivory police to deal with it. Plus, Precious Jade doesn’t want an actual riot in the Ivory district, as a lot of innocents would get hurt, and property damaged, and that would make the Lord Mayor’s office look into it too hard to hide from.
They eventually decide on a riot in a neighboring cell block. Most of the police would rush down to quell the riot, and Kasumi could sneak in and open the party’s cell block, and they could fight their way out past whatever few guards remained. Surely no more than a dozen or two. That’s probably fine.
Kasumi summons Rubberlegs from the circus and Precious Jade arranges to have him arrested and thrown into Ivory Jail. The plan: Rubberlegs will get thrown in jail, and spread some silver around to the other prisoners to get them to rise up at 4pm precisely. Once the riot is set, he will try to escape from jail using the same escape smoke the party used, and that will presumably get him captured in whatever weird way the party got captured, so he can brief them on the plan (and escape with them). Meanwhile Kasumi will sneak into Ivory Police HQ and steal some keys and get ready to open the party’s cell block from the outside once only a couple dozen guards are left.
Back in the cell block, people get ready for their plan of desparation. Wei Han and the prisoner who got given a sword both put on guard uniforms which Xiao Fa has been trying to clean the blood stains out of for a while.
Suddenly, before their madness goes off, a small bell rings and a new prisoner teleports into the ritual circle room, where he is about to shout something, but is promptly knocked unconscious.
Having been studying it for hours, folks figure out how to disable the trap, but opening the outer ritual cell door with a guards key, and get the new prisoner out to wake him up. (It’s not that hard to figure out, but usually, prisoners aren’t standing outside the cell, and certainly shouldn’t have guard keys.) Meanwhile, Xiao Fa has had enough of people getting randomly knocked out, so he starts disassembling the ritual and pocketing the gems that power it.
They search the newcomer, but he only has a handful of li on him - no weapons. They manage to get his disguise off (it’s apparently less spiffy than the impenetrable party disguises) and are shocked to find it is Rubberlegs. They wake him up, and he briefs everyone on the plan as ominous sounding noises start coming from the neighboring cell block and distant alarms start sounding.
People get ready to leave and suddenly the main door to the cell block opens. Standing outside is Kasumi. She’s a bit curious as to who everyone is, but she recognizes Rubberlegs and he gives her the A-OK sign, so the jailbreak is on. First some scouting. Kasumi (stealthed) and Wei Han (dressed as a guard) do a little scouting about on the next level. As predicted, there seem to be about 12 guards on this level. Kasumi finds the evidence room which is supposed to have all of the party’s loot, but inside she just find a bunch of strange bulky cubes labeled “Evidence confiscated from prisoner”. No clue who they were confiscated from, and no party loot in evidence in the room. She reports back. People decide that must be their stuff, but cubes? “Maybe they are in disguise too?” In any case, they also find a room where a guard is carefully attempting to decrypt a bunch of coded evidence forms using all of the codebooks at his disposal. Curiouser and curiouser.
It comes to pass that the time for scouting is over and people charge up the stairs. The guard react as soon as they see prisoners and the combat is on. It is a bit spicy as the guards do seem to have a lot of dice and hit points, Renata keeps running up to the top of each level to unlock the door to the next level, but he needs people to keep the guards off of him. Somehow, Xiao Fa and Shuyan get elected to protect him by absorbing a bunch of attacks while he works on the doors.
Meanwhile, Cai Wen is grabbing all of the encrypted files in site, hoping they are all of the evidence against them. Everyone else carries some of the cubes upstairs. When Takanata arrives he confirms that the strange cubes are indeed all connected to party members, and some are even super powerful as if they have talismans inside. But unfortunately, there seems to be one more cube than party member, and all of the cubes and party members have lines of power running back down into the cell block. Around this time, Kasumi asks, “Where is Takanata’s DNPC Jin?”
Oh dear, it seems that Jin got left behind. He was apparently the unconscious body who was supposed to wake up at any moment, but he never woke up. So they left him in the cell block. Shuyan volunteers to fix this and uses her.. Um… persuasion to get all of the male non-party member prisoners to escort her back down into the cell block and help carry out the unconscious people. They get down there (while the combat rages above) and find that the cell door relocked when the alert was declared upstairs so it’s a slow process of lockpicking and then carrying.
Upstairs, people are getting pretty well pummeled, but Renata manages to get the door to the next level up open and Cai Wen manages to get all of the evidence. Finally, Shuyan and her body-carrying harem run upstairs again to rejoin them.
People burst into the second level and find another 12 guards, these with an additional die and better weapons. There’s some brief attempt to bluff them, but with so many prisoners the jig is up pretty fast. More combat. This time, people start going down, but luckily, Kasumi remembered to bring the party healing potions, so people get pumped up as they go. Still, by the end of the level, the party is pretty low on HP, shticks, and everything else, and there’s still a whole other level to go.
Takanata laments their predicament saying something like, “We have to survive a whole other level! We're doomed.” But then his shtick goes off, and he realizes that is false. Elsewhere, Cai Wen realizes that a mool of his is nearby, but not on either of the two levels he seen. Taking some hope from these things, people form a wall of bodies around Renata while he picks the locks up to the final level and try to keep the guards from knocking out more people than they can carry.
When the door is finally opened, they start piling through to the final combat level find a dozen of the Jade Guard outside lead by Cai Wen’s moll, Yanling. The Jade Guard seem to recognize them even with their terrible disguises and start escorting them away from the Ivory police. Eventually, everyone is escaped. Prisoners not in the party run off, and everyone else is brought to a safe house elsewhere in the Ivory District.
There Precious Jade is relieved to see that everyone is OK. Takanata and Xiao Fa manage to wake up Jin, who was spent several karma to use cryptomancy to encrypt their memories and loot and identities so the Mayor wouldn’t know who his guys had in custody. But the strain was too great for him to stay conscious, or maybe he was encrypting his own consciousness. It’s a little confusing. He reverses the effect, and everyone gets their stuff back. Precious Jade reverses the magical disguises and everyone gets their identities back.
Precious Jade gives them an abbreviated briefing about the parts they don’t recall, and seems pleased that her plot to weaken the Ivory Police enough to make them ripe for a takeover has succeeded. The police looked foolish, the Mayor has no idea what happened, and everyone’s identities are secure. So, Cai Wen’s debt to her is officially paid. Hooray!
Renata heads off to reestablish himself, but allows as the party can contact him in puttering to discuss matters.
Takanata mutters something about needing to talk to Horse and wanders off.Everyone else remembers to thank Kasumi for her awesome rescue.