Night of Gates III
|"By the craggy hill-side,
Through the mosses bare,
They have planted thorn-trees
For pleasure here and there.
If any man so daring
As dig them up in spite,
He shall find their sharpest thorns
In his bed at night."
| The run begins on the Day of the Early Butterfly in the Month of the Magpie in the eighty-first Year of the Magpie since the Second Treaty of Houses.|
The run takes place in the Port of Auspicious Voyage in the Hon'eth Arcade
In Media Res
As the party heads down the street, Cai Wen's moll shouts "It's a trap!" Several ninjas decloak near Cai Wen and on roofs nearby, and much chopping ensues. Most people focus on dealing with the ninjas, though several are more concerned with what exactly is going on.
Cai Wen tries to remember who his moll is, and is partially successful (which will be useful later). His best guess is that he's in the Port of Auspicious Voyage, though it's not a street where he's been before. He'll probably be able to recognize the street again later, as well. Shen-Ji starts walling the combat into smaller boxes.
Takanata is still off the battlemap on his way, though he can arrive auspiciously if he needs to. Concentrating on the plan, he puts his tinfoil hat in his pocket and starts heading towards the warehouse district, grumbling that the idiots left without him. Min Feng, who has previously infiltrated the ninjas, decloaks. Then, she falls off the roof she is on onto a pedestrian, who flees. A ninja attacks Cai Wen's moll in an attempt to get past her to Cai Wen.
- "You dare lay a hand on me, mortal?" -Mei-Zhen
- "Hey, your moll has a name! But... she's kind of creepy..." -everyone else
Several of the ninja are armed with blowguns, and two hit Wei Han. In drift, he discovers that he has been dosed with the deadly Masterful Drift Poison as well as Medium Drift Poison. Min Feng, happily, has an antidote for each, but only one antidote for the Masterful poison, so she tells everyone else to make sure they get poisoned only by lesser poisons. She tries hard to remember where she got the antidotes, for later.
Takanata, still trying to remember the plan, pulls a handbill from his pocket and looks at it, hoping that they printed enough. It says something about the great Zhu Cai Wen being in town and defying all comers. He tries to figure out why he is not supposed to wear the tinfoil hat and decides he doesn' t want to accidentally make himself unscryable.
Mei-Zhen points at Min Feng, shouting "Disguise Girl! Do something!" Min Feng's fast disguise shtick goes off, and she looks like Cai Wen now. (People attacking Cai Wen have to flip a coin to see who they hit). The leader of the ninjas accuses Kasumi of having betrayed them, and though he would teach her a lesson, he has bigger game.
Both Grasshopper and Min Feng take some blowdart poison hits. Cai Wen sets off a smoke bomb, but that spooks Mei-Zhen and she runs out of it.
The two top ninja aim for Cai Wen - he dodges one, but is hit with the second dart. This dart seems different, as he doesn't feel well but doesn't seem to be poisoned. He declares that they aren't taking the great Cai Wen without a fight, and explodes his sword cane in the faces of two of them.
Takanata appears auspiciously, to make sure he catches the most important part for his thing, and realizes that one of the most important things is to make sure he gets the names of the demons in the combat.
Anto grows thorny branches and rooty feet, and "pulls a Master Deng" to hit everyone he can reach. Grasshopper and others boggle at his multiple branchy arms. Takanata declares that the plan is to figure out how to keep this from happening next time, but suddenly realizes that that's false.
The head ninja tells the others to "keep her busy" while he finishes the ritual.
- "Oubliette, in the name of my fallen brothers, take his soul!" -Ninja
Takanata turns on the Eyes of the I Ching, just as a gate (that only he can see) opens beneath Cai Wen and he gets pulled in. Mei-Zhen, who appears to Takanata as a strange black featureless human form, which is its own sort of disturbing, shouts "No, he's mine!" To everyone else's eyes, Cai Wen falls to the ground unmoving.
Min Feng, checking out Cai Wen, thinks that Yoshi might have been poisoned with something like this by an agent of the Shadow - it's something that brings him closer to the World Above and Below. Anto thinks that the poison pushed him close enough to the World Below that Oubliette could grab his soul and essentially make him forcibly spiritwalk.
Mei-Zhen wishes that there was some way to track him, and Wei Han points out that there is a magic map. However, the Hunter's Map just has a really big X on it, as it thinks that Cai Wen is right there (where his body is). She snaps her fingers to look at it, and declares that she should be able to work with that. Mei-Zhen starts fussing with the map. Speaking of tracking, Min Feng checks on the locations of some of her studied folks - Ezokin is in the Gate of Shen, and Tai Lung is in the City of Spires.
Anto thinks that he can push other people who have been hit with the poison, through to the World Below, so they can spiritwalk to rescue Cai Wen. So the question is, how many darts did the ninja bring? That depends on how angry they were...
48 hours earlier
On the ship from the Isle of Beauty, Takanata finishes his latest watercolor, which looks a lot like a battlemap of a fight with ninja...
Grasshopper has also painted some prophetic drawings:
Cai Wen says that he definitely wants to taunt the ninjas, but he doesn't want the combat to end up the way it did in Takanata's watercolor. Takanata disagrees - don't mess up the Yet! The important thing is to taunt them enough that they bring enough darts for everyone! Cai Wen thinks that the Rule of Threes can be invoked to get them extra-mad:
- "Tell them the House of the Night Blades has come to get me three times and failed. By the rule of threes, they are broken."
Wei Han frets about how to get back from the World Below once they have Cai Wen, but Kuan-Xi is sure that'll be easier on the Night of Gates. Perhaps there are demons who the party knows from whom favors are owed? Shuyan apparently has a favor from a demon, but she's napping and not available for favor-using.
Grasshopper throws some chum in the ocean, trying to remember the chant Renyu did.
- "Whale assigned you homework - how are you doing on that?" -Mike
- "Um, I forget what it was." -Heidi
- "The chum sinks to the bottom and there is no sign of Whale." -Mike
There is not much more that can be done from the boat, however, so the group waits for further planning until they arrive at the Port of Auspicious Voyage.
In the City
Grasshopper talks to Kuan-Xi about the local urchins, which include the healer-kids who helped her out when she was kidnapped. Maybe she can help them somehow? After some negotiation, she buys a bunch of pork buns and tells the urchins stories about Anto, while Anto (in disguise) tells them stories about how Cai Wen has defeated the House of the Night Blade.
Cai Wen's moll had been dressed like a geisha, so he and Wei Han go to look for flower houses to see if there are any which seem to be staffed entirely by demons. They don't find any, and it becomes clear to Wei Han that Cai Wen is enjoying the trip, but doesn't have any idea where he's going. When they check back in later, Takanata reminds him that they do know her name - Mei-Zhen! When Cai Wen asks around about a geisha named Mei-Zhen, he hears that she is in the House of the Lotus.
Min Feng and Takanata visit the cave where the Brilliant Dawn monastery has been camping out after they lost their monastery. Things are quite busy, with monks carrying boxes around. Jinghua is still greatful for the party's assistance with the cursed coins and says that while it is not his specialty, he will see what his order can dig up on demons. Master Jinghua Takanata and Min Feng to return early tomorrow.
After a meetup at lunch, Shen-Ji and Min Feng go on a shopping spree. Shen-Ji looks around jewelry stores and stone-carving stores, and finds (among other things) a fancy jade puzzle box which the salesman says has not been opened for a hundred years. He buys it, and lets Min Feng play with it for a while. She thinks it's easier than the Sphere of Harmony, but it takes her quite a while to get open. Min Feng also asks after the guy who sold her the antidote, but runs into a lot of frowns - people don't like dealing with minions of the Shadow like him. She does get his name (or at least what he goes by): the Quartermaster. They head down to the seedy side of town to try and set up a meeting with the Quartermaster. They foil an attempted trap, and decide that they seem too reputable, so Min Feng forges some credentials introducing herself as a lieutenant in the Circle of Spite, and inks a temporary tattoo on her arm. Now an attempt to set up a meeting is more successful, and they are invited to return to speak to the Quartermaster late that night in a winehouse of ill repute.
Meanwhile, Grasshopper succeeds in getting Kuan-Xi to come visit the urchins, who have all been convinced that Anto is a great hero. More pork buns later, the healer-trained urchins agree to meet them in the warehouse district "at the cross street with buildings."
Cai Wen and Wei Han visit the House of the Lotus - Dutiful Hsung is most pleased to see his good friends again. Cai Wen suggests that he would be most grateful to meet a particular geisha of the House, named Mei-Zhen. Madame Cho suggests that they meet in the Rose Petal Room, but Dutiful Hsung smoothly counter-suggests that the Lemon Blossom Room would be more appropriate. Mei-Zhen enters, and performs a lovely musical piece, baffling Cai Wen, who is sure that Mei-Zhen looks exactly like his moll, but is not at all a moll herself. Cai Wen tries to find out from Dutiful Hsung why the Rose Petal Room was inappropriate - the butler explains that the House does not have an astrologer on staff, so they did not realize the Night of Gates was coming in time, and, much to his chagrin and embarrassment, they did not have time to move the mirror out of the Rose Room. Enlightened but not understanding, Cai Wen and Wei Han take their leave.
Meanwhile, Kasumi tries to figure out, referencing her book of ninja etiquette, how to get ninja really annoyed at you, enough to show up in force. Well, one way to get them all there would be to hire them, but a way to get them particularly angry would be to join up with them and then break the honor vow made at joining. Ahah - they did call Kasumi a traitor.
Takanata arranges for invitations to a fancy party for the evening, before everyone gathers for dinner. Cai Wen explains about Mei-Zhen not being his moll after all. Anto recalls something - stories about not breaking mirrors on the Night of Gates, lest demons come out. Anto isn't pleased by the idea of a demon possessing Mei-Zhen - that would kind of throw her under the bus, and that's what Xiao Fa is for.
Grasshopper heads back to the urchins and gets them to tell her as many stories about demons as they can think up. Kasumi trolls for ninja, and attempts to get herself recruited by them.
- "I want to join you!"
- "Really? Do you know who we are?"
- "Um, um, I can't remember the name. The enemies of Zhu Cai Wen - what more do I need to know? He must be stopped!"
- "Then you have come to the right place! We are the House of the Night Blades."
They interrogate Kasumi as to why she hates him. She frowns and says that he goes from town to town, discarding women one after the other. Ah - they understand. They tell her that since she can get close to him, she should find out who is with him this time (since it is different each time) and warn them what their strengths and weaknesses are. But tomorrow night, she must be ready to lead him to the ambush location in the warehouse district, where they will send him off. They also say that as a side effect, if they can finally capture him, they'll all get to level up!
Takanata heads to the party, bringing as much of his entourage as isn't busy, and tells embarrassing stories about Cai Wen and the House of the Night Blade. Anto looks for people at the party who might be in need favors on the Night of Gates, but none of them are really in grave peril that can only be rescued by a trip to the World Below. However, there are some sages who would not look amiss at being given something that comes from the World Below - if Anto can get something for them, they would be obliged to put their great KS skills at his disposal in recompense. Min Feng gets an invitation to go home with an attractive gentleman, but shoots him down. Cai Wen ends up invited to the after-party, which is a particularly good time until Wei Han follows him there and looms stoically in the corner.
Then Min Feng, Shen-Ji, and Kasumi go to meet the Quartermaster; Kasumi pulls off the Scary Ninja look quite well, while Shen-Ji is clearly Min Feng's business manager. Min Feng says that she is in need of antidotes for a variety of drift poisons, though only one need be Masterful. The Quartermaster says that the price is 80 li, or Min Feng's master can owe him one significant favor. She tries to haggle him down, but he cuts her off. Perhaps it was not made clear to her before, but these items are being provided at cost to the Shadow's associates for reasons of encouraging the Shadow's business; they are not for haggling over. However, he will forgive her, since she has not dealt with the Quartermaster before. Min Feng pays the 80 li, takes the antidotes, and the group escapes.
Takanata dreamwalks to the Exalted Library, on the theory that he can dream about researching Oubliette there. However, he's dreaming more about the Library than the demon, so he mostly has a research montage that gets him five bonus dreamwalking for later.
Day of Gates
Takanata heads back to the cave of the Brilliant Dawn monks. Master Jinghua says that a rule of the World Below (like the World Above) is that if there is a place, there is a path to that place. Unless someone has intentionally guarded the path, there will usually be at least one safe path, but it will often not be clear which path it is unless you have information telling you how to go. The demon Oubliette is not about one single big pit that everyone goes into - different oubliettes are essentially custom made as part of his domain. However, the one flaw in his domain is that if there is a way in, there must be a way out. It can be guarded, or locked, or warded, but it cannot be completely eliminated.
Cai Wen starts passing out flyers to urchins - they declare the downfall of the House of the Night Blades, and that he is taking on all comers. Then he and Anto and Takanata drop by the House of the Lotus again, and persuade Madame Cho to let them see the Rose Petal room. The room is lovely, with rose motifs everywhere, but there is a large grey rug covering one wall. When Anto peeks underneath the rug, there's a large mirror, with beautiful etchings with motifs of love and beauty around the edges. Takanata offers to cast the I Ching for the real Mei-Zhen, but it isn't very interesting.
Kasumi meets back up with the ninja and briefs them on the party composition - she also mentions that Zhu Cai Wen is elusive and can sometimes undo poisons, so they will definitely need to bring extra. Wei Han buys a ball of twine and a coil of rope, in case they come in handy for path-following.
Shen-Ji goes to the Ministry of Justice and makes a Bureaucracy roll to make additional charges against the imprisoned leader of the Night Blades, increasing his sentence.
That night, after dark, Cai Wen, Anto, and Wei Han head back to the House of the Lotus. They ask to see Mei-Zhen in the Rose Petal Room, and Madame Cho warns them to please be careful about the rug. Wei Han blocks the door while Anto pulls the rug away, and the reflection of Mei-Zhen winks at Cai Wen. Anto, feeling guilty about breaking such a nice mirror, holds out his hand to the reflection in invitation. She takes his hand and (after a big chi roll and one karma) steps through. The real Mei-Zhen swoons.
The reflection says that she is astonished - she had never expected that kind of offer! This is most amazing! Cai Wen and Anto jump in to try to claim that she totally owes them one for it, and she agrees that she's quite happy to be helpful. (Somewhere else, Takanata clutches his head, convinced that letting the mirror demon out more permanently was not such a good idea).
Cai Wen, trying to tread a careful line that doesn't contradict his Yet (in which Mei-Zhen didn't know it was a trap), mentions Oubliette. Mei-Zhen assures him that as long as Anto doesn't let him out, he shouldn't be a problem. Cai Wen demurs - there might be something that causes Oubliette to try and grab him. Mei-Zhen says well, keep her close and it should all be fine.
Night of Gates
The party proceeds to the battlemap, and has the combat which Takanata has foreseen. Mei-Zhen sticks close to Cai Wen until he accidentally drives her away with his smoke vial, just in time to let his soul get captured on schedule.
As Cai Wen's soul is taken to the oubliette, he is carried beneath the branches of the smoking tree, then carried towards the sound of raucous laughter, through a party of demons celebrating and marching in a parade, then by the lake where the water does not move, then where the night flowers bloom and wither, and finally through where the gate shuts and opens not. The dark shape of Oubliette gives a strange-shaped key to a dark flappy shape, which heads away with it. Cai Wen sits down in the oubliette, along with two ninja, who look excited to see him, but he taunts them until they ignore him again.
Back in the real world, Mei-Zhen fiddles with the Hunter's Map, and replaces the big "X" for "Cai Wen is here" with something that seems more like a reflection of Cai Wen - small and visible, but inaudible. In the oubliette, Cai Wen has the feeling that he's being watched but not heard, and he does his best to pantomime out the path he was taken on, and what the key looked like.
When he finishes, the group compares notes.
- Treeness. Fire and smoke rising. Or a geyser. Or slow fireworks.
- Listened and heard laughter.
- A bumpy roof? Underwater?
- Thinking head, he had no idea how to describe it.
- A doorknob. Unscrewing it?
- Drawing letters? OFPTO? A key? Dungeon levels? Rar.
- Two prisoners on either side of him.
Min Feng also gets two words from lip-reading: "smoke tree", and Cai Wen and Takanata can send three words back and forth since Takanata decrees that Cai Wen will be successfully returned to the inn shortly after dawn. Cai Wen sends "third party demons" to Takanata, and Takanata sends back "number the challenges". Cai Wen gestures four or five, shrugging.
Then, the group (including Mei-Zhen) sticks themselves with the leftover ninja darts. They ask her for advice on how to get back - she suggests that they not forget the path. Safe paths will tend to go both ways, though they may not always be safe.
Anto pushes everyone through, and the group follows Cai Wen's silver cord for a little ways, until they reach a choice: beneath the branches of the smoking tree or across the bridge of locusts. They choose the former. That takes them to a choice between the sound of raucous laughter and the sound of grinding and singing. Again, they choose the former, and meet up with the demon parade. There are a large number of demons, marching and cheering. They have signs, elephants on strings, balloons, all sorts of things. They're psyched to see the party - more guests! Anto says they're all just passing through, and Grasshopper gives them some sour candy he bought in the hopes that demons would like it.
The demons, suspecting power, say that they would really love to get their parade out in the real world. They'd totally owe anyone who could do that for them. Takanata says firmly that he fears they cannot be of assistance. Anto asks who they are - they're The Hundred Demons! They're famous for having parades. Takanata says firmly that he fears they cannot be of assistance. Anto recalls that in stories, usually there's not a lot of people being killed or tragedy related to parades, but sometimes things go awry. Takanata says firmly that he fears they cannot be of assistance, and the group moves on.
They choose between the lake where the water does not move and where the light flickers yellow and green; this one is iffier, and Takanata tries to get distance and direction to Cai Wen (he gets something not in human terms that he doesn't understand, but thinks Crossroads would work for the choice). No one is sure, but most people think the lake is more likely, and there's a "scrrr" sound from the lake, so they go that way.
At the lake's edge is a little furry creature with fuzzy whiskers and giant tusks of death, which Anto recognizes as a baby night terror. Grasshopper cuddles it, and it noms one of his chi and then seems healthier. Anto fills his waterskin at the lake.
From the lake, they have the choice of where the night flowers bloom and wither, and where comes the smell of green grass and dry bones. This is the one Cai Wen couldn't describe (actually, it was that he had forgotten that particular leg of the path), and think that smells are harder to describe in charades than flowers, so they choose the second option.
The party reaches a green field strewn with white skeletons - human, human, hippopotamus, small leviathan, etc. It's kind of creepy. In the center of the field is a black donkey, morosely chewing grass.
- "I suppose you're here to bother me. Get on." -Black Donkey
- "It's Eeyore!" -Kate
Anto asks if the donkey has seen their friend - the donkey is puzzled. Do they come to him for information? What do they offer him? Grasshopper gives him the disappearing hat, which the donley eats. Anto protests - that was a very valuable hat, which he has been saving for a very long time! Now the donkey owes him one! The donkey doesn't seem to think that any sort of bargain has been cut, especially since he hasn't seen Anto's friend.
Grasshopper, having heard a million demon stories from the urchins, remembers tales of the Black Donkey. He's sort of the opposite of Horse in temperament, and those who bring him riders often escape. He doesn't usually eat the rider, they just... wear out.
Wei Han suggests that they ignore the donkey and keep going - or turn back - but they seem to be in an endless green field now. Shen-Ji, impatient, offers to ride.
- "That strikes me as a noble sacrifice." -Takanata
- "If I ride you for nine rounds, will you let nine of them go?" -Shen-Ji
- "If you ride me, I will let all the rest go." -Black Donkey
- "For how long?"
- "For as long as you can."
Basically, if the party offers a rider, he will let everyone else go. But if the rider wants to get off, they must offer something else. Anto wishes that he had brought the spirit grass after all, and the Donkey's ears twitch. Anto has spirit grass? No, no, he doesn't actually.
- "I'm sure you gave all your spirit grass to Horse." -Black Donkey
On the other hand, they have Horse points, which are valuable. He's willing to take one horse point each to let them go. Shen-Ji haggles - How about a combination? The Donkey agrees - if Shen-Ji rides him, then he need only spend horse points to get off. The first round costs nine points to get off. The second, eight. And so on.
When Shen-Ji gets on, the rest find that they are free to leave. They stick around to see how Shen-Ji does, however, and various people pick up bones from the ground. Anto pockets some squirrel bones and Min Feng picks up some tiny leviathan bones.
- Round 1: 5 riding successes. Good.
- Round 2: 4 riding successes. Enough
- Round 3: 6 riding successes. Cruising.
- Round 4: 7 riding successes. Doing well
- Round 5: 6 riding successes. Still enough.
- Round 6: 4 riding successes. Lower two main stats by one. (Shen-Ji loses a point from each Body substat and a point from each Social substat).
- "Think hard about how long that lasts before you decide if you're ever rolling those dice again." -Takanata
People watching Shen-Ji think he looks older. However, he decides to go for it.
- Round 7: 8 riding successes. That's fine.
- Round 8: 4 riding successes. Okay, that is going to hurt. He spends four karma to get up to eight successes, and takes no damage.
- Round 9: He spends a horse point, and gets off.
The group backtracks, and does not choose the smell of grass and bones this time, but where the night flowers bloom and wither. That brings them to a choice between where the gate shuts and opens not, and where the wind blows ceaselessly with tears. Choosing the former they come to a gate, which is shut and opens not, locked with an ornate lock. Min Feng tries to pick it, to no avail. Wei Han looks around for a key, but does not find one immediately evident.
Min Feng walks through the gate, and finds herself in the oubliette with Cai Wen and the two ninja. She quickly disguises herself as a ninja and mocks them for getting a raw deal, but they think it was a fine trade - two of them to make sure Cai Wen was captured, and now their House can un-doom itself. They've fulfilled their end of the bargain now, finally. However, ten minutes later, she finds she is not so easily able to walk back out. Hmm.
Outside, Anto looks around the gate and finds some birdlike tracks. Grasshopper and Ho follow the tracks for a ways and then the baby night terror manages to follow them for a little longer, and they lead to a boundary with the World of Dreams.
Takanata asks Mei-Zhen what the flappy thing is likely to be - she says that such creatures are commonly used as messengers. The group contemplates how to deal with the World of Dreams. Takanata has dreamwalking, but he has used it already to visit the Exalted Library. Anto can push people into the World of Dreams from the World Below, but he will have no Wu-Xing type powers there.
Anto raises an earth wall for defense, and he and Wei Han remain behind while the others go into the World of Dreams, except Takanata.
Takanata says he'll be back in ten minutes, and then auspiciously arrives in the Oubliette with Cai Wen and the others. That works, but he isn't able to leave back out again when the scene is through. Cai Wen refreshes his dreamwalking shtick, but even when he dreamwalks, he can only dream of the Oubliette - kind of like the Northern dreamworld. He tries to, from the dreamworld, auspiciously arrive to meet the others, and manages to join Cai Wen as an image on the Hunter's Map. He holds up a picture of the key that Cai Wen and Min Feng have put together, but by this time, the others have mostly reached the key on their own...
Meanwhile, the rest of the party chases the flappy thing around the dreamworld until they finally catch up to it thanks to some memory rolls and karma reminding them about what Cai Wen pantomimed the key's appearance as. When they catch up to the flappy thing, it's carrying the key and is flapping its way up a road with a sign saying "To Lucky Chang's House". Grasshopper shoots the flappy thing, the night terror attacks it, Shen-Ji blasts it, Grasshopper leaps up to it for the knockout tackle and brings it down. They take the key and start backtracking towards Anto.
Wei Han senses the presence of people who want to break into the World Below, through this Wall here, which about seems to fit the number of PCs (and critters) along. Trying to pull Ho back in, Anto has a sense that the Wall is nearly closing on his hand, but manages to get him back too. The group returns with the key, and successfully opens the gate - Takanata, Wei Han, Min Feng, and two ninja zip out.
Retracing their steps along the path (except for the bit with the Black Donkey), the group gets back to the Hundred Demons. They are interested to see that Anto has more companions again, and try to offer him various favors, but Takanata says firmly that he fears they cannot be of assistance, and sheperds everyone along again.
A Last Possibility for Betrayal
As Anto gets ready to send everyone back to the Material World, some people suggest that he strand Mei-Zhen away from her body - she is a demon, after all. She protests - that would be cruel, especially after she helped rescue Cai Wen! Anto wonders if he could pull her body in - maybe at her mirror, but they're not at her mirror. If he could shove people back and forth physically, they would all be here physically.
Anto suggests that she pay him in favors for being sent back. She starts to get angry - he isn't charging everyone else to not trap them forever and powerless in the World Below.
Mei-Zhen turns her wiles on Cai Wen. Bringing her through the mirror was very generous, and she's willing to be very generous with him later this evening. Cai Wen says that he wants her agreement to go back into the mirror afterwards. Well, what are they going to offer her for that? Bringing her back to her body, Cai Wen says. What, really? He's threatening to strand her and let her body starve unless she submits to this sort of extortion? She helped rescue him!
Takanata notes that she's not really much more powerful than Pir Pir - maybe a little more flexible. And the tengu are all the way in the Material World without destroying the world. However, the thought of getting favors from a possibly disadvantaged demon is too good to resist, so Cai Wen continues to press.
- "Let's talk about favors..." -Cai Wen
- "I'm starting to be a little creeped out here with all this 'do what we want or else' stuff. I've already offered you my favors..." -Mei-Zhen
Takanata jumps in - he thinks the main thing to get her to agree to is to not take over anyone else's life. She can't be Mei-Zhen forever and make her not wake up or destroy her reputation or anything like that. She counter-offers a one-shot perfectly impenetrable disguise, but the party decides that the "no taking over lives" is the way to go, and she agrees, still somewhat cross about the whole extortion thing.
Anto pushes everyone back through to the Material World (he is able to bring back the demon water from the lake, but everything else he and everyone else picked up does not return with them).
Min Feng plays with the puzzle box one last time, and manages to get it open - there is an amulet of protection inside.