Life in the North
Draft; notes taken by Meg.
Takanata shares his plan to take Hana over the wall for mid-winter. Ringmaster Te objects to the long-term borrowing of party horses, so Takanata arranges passage on a boat up the Pearl river. When the river splits the party travels by foot. No provisions (or ladders) are mentioned, but talismans are given much attention. Kasumi wears the Butterfly talisman (as status is her least important stat so she can presumably survive the lack of it), similarly Takanata wears the Magpie amulet.
Master Zhou gets lucky and find Mulan. She advices crossing at night; there have been more Northern incursions than in a usual summer. She is proud of the joint exercises between the East and West commands. She identifies some hills that will hide the party from view on the wall; recommends crossing at night, and she will instruct her forces to look southward. Master Zhou tells Mulan how the Northerners have been coordinating, and hints that he could use help guarding the White Pagoda. Mulan is confused; "like a security guard?", but once he explains she suggests he contact the Steadfast Heart Sect. Master Zhou persists, and she demurs, "we don't know how to do any of those flying leaping kicks." Time to train! insists Master Zhou. Mulan "can, in fact, arrange to give you access to the wall for a training montage." The rest of the group is left on its own to gain access to the wall.
Crossing the wall
Since no one brought a ladder, things are done the hard way. Kasumi climbs up and ties a rope. Takanata and Min Feng successfully climb up (Takanata not particularly quietly.) Hana cannot, so Kasumi climbs down, ties Hana on, climbs up, and pulls Hana up. Bored with this, Kasumi Yoinks Xian up the wall. Soldiers on the wall think they see an old man, so all but Kasumi descend rapidly. By the time the soldiers arrive Kasumi is nowhere to be found, and they can't see anyone on the bottom, so they cut the rope but sound no alarm.
The first night
The Butterfly talisman reduces Kasumi to half strength and Takanata to half energy. Hana also experiences some changes- she has Life/Death/Blood instead of the normal Tao stats (and her Death is substantial). She thinks she can control lesser spirits. This leads to some theological discussions.
Meanwhile Min Feng and Kasumi sneak around the hills to find out where the bandits are hiding so the group can hide somewhere else. They see a group of four people with nets and spears. They slowly sneak up on each other until combat is inevitable. Min Feng opens fire and the Northerners shout. "it's not a <something> monster, it's bandits!" Several of them spear Min Feng and then the leader nets her. Kasumi leaps in with her katana at the leaders neck and asks, in broken Torghut "Why you hunt us?". After determining the bandits are two Southern girls, confusion wins the day. "It's an invasion, but they just send girls?" Kasumi tries to explain picnic in Torghut, but has no luck. Min Feng suggests running from marriage, so Kasumi translates that. The hunters spend some time considering marriage to Min Feng, until they decide a Southern wife would be a pain. They are hunting for dire wolves for the fur. Kasumi admits they netted Min Feng fair and square, so offers them a pouch of shiny crystals she picked up at a shop in exchange for Min Feng back, and they go their separate ways after telling them which way the Life Temple and Beast master are.
"Rosebud, except I make myself look a lot better, and Ming Feng hits me on the head a lot" - Kasumi upon returning to the rest of the group. The rest of the night passes uneventfully.
The day before midsummer (I think?)
A large caravan passes in front of the group. Most hide, but Takanata does not succeed. Outriders from the caravan yell questions at him in Torghut. After a few rounds Hana pops up and says "We go, visit life temple!" This makes some sense to the caravaners (How else would southerners visit life priest? No temples, they have to come here!), so they watch carefully, but leave the party alone as they pass. They also send word ahead to the life temple.
Soldiers are in groups of five, each wearing different clan colors, and in best uniforms. Later learn that all the clans cooperate about the life temple, and that no one is allowed to interfere with someone's path there. Also that gifts are usually given.
One of the guards steps forward and instructs Hana "No weapons, no undead". "Whose undead are you?" - Guard "Not undead" - Hana "You kind of are" - peanut gallery "No, that's a technical term"- Hana
She agrees, but still wants to go in. After the guard seems distracted for a bit (like someone is talking to him that no one can see) he agrees that she can go in alone. She negotiates up to one person, and Master Zhou accompanies her.