(After Ting Ting's Gambit, Book 3 Run 10)
Kasumi and Lijuan head into the mountains looking for pandas. Maybe we'll discover an orphaned baby panda (how would we feed it?) or maybe we'll find out if the Mysterious Panda Schtick does anything more than protect Lijuan from being mauled. At the very least it should be interesting!
Lijuan thinks that she is tracking pandas while Kasumi is watching for bandits. Lijuan gets 3 successes on her tracking roll. (9 6 6 2 1)
- Well, the first thing that you can find pretty easily is the panda cave you found before, and if you spend a few hours trailing the panda tracks around, you can find what is probably the same panda as before, as well. He does not seem to have acquired any cubs since yesterday, but it's spring, so if you range farther afield, there might be some breeding pairs.
- He is VERY FUZZY and bounces over to knock Lijuan over with his head.
Lijuan laughs and scritches the panda and gives it a bear hug and some bamboo. We follow it around for a while. Lijuan finds tasty looking branches of bamboo and brings them to the panda. She also offers it a carrot.
- It's mostly ambling around eating bamboo. All other wildlife seems to keep well out of its way. It happily eats your bamboo and your carrot.
Delighted by her success, Lijuan tries to feed the panda a dog treat (Ho gets the other dog treat when he whines), a monkey treat, some celery, and a squashed pork bun.
- He seems willing to eat all of these, though he doesn't seem to like the monkey treat much.
After a while, Lijuan starts foraging for herself as well as for the panda. She practices "amble like a panda" and discovers that bamboo doesn't actually taste very good, but walking like a panda is fun.
This goes on until dinner time, at which point Lijuan and Kasumi return to the circus.
The day after Kasumi and Lijuan follow First Panda around, Lijuan finishes her chores, arms herself with whatever tasty snacks she can scrounge from the cook ("I don't mind if it's a little squashed. And can I have some celery for my horse?") and heads back to the mountains.
Her plan is to visit First Panda and give him some treats and ask him if he knows a panda cub who would like to join the circus. Assuming he doesn't answer, she'll then prowl about looking for panda cubs on her own. Her plan is to hide it (hiding is something useful it can do!) until the circus is well under way and Ringmaster Te can't make her give it back. He will then see how fuzzy and cute it is and since it hasn't killed anyone it won't have to go in a cage. Since it will be with her for runs she's not in, it shouldn't cause any trouble. Right?
- First Panda does not tell you about panda cubs. You think he's just being persnickety, ignoring whatever you say.
- Make an Int roll with tracking, and a Tao roll
Ok, I remembered to use my Outdoorsman schtick and made my tracking roll and got... 1 success. :(
1 success on the tao roll as well.
- After another full day of searching the mountain, you do find a pair of pandas and a small cub.
Lijuan tries to bribe the cub with treats (carrots, celery, bamboo, bits of pork bun) to follow her back to the circus. She decides to name it Kawaii.
- As it turns out, luring the cub is a bit easier than luring a grown panda.
- You can start luring it back to the circus, but the parents seem to be coming with it as well, huffing somewhat disapprovingly at the cub. It only seems to have a move of 1, so it may be a long walk. :)
As we learned from the incident with the sweeping, Lijuan can keep this up for a while. She'll stop whenever she has to to get back to the circus in time for her chores (or to otherwise avoid scolding -- missing dinner might be ok, but staying out all night probably isn't).
- Well, you had spent all day tracking the panda family down, so it's at least staying out all night to get it back to the circus.
- (You could go back and see if you can find it again in the morning - you'd be at a pretty good advantage if you started by returning here)
Yup, Lijuan returns to the circus for the night and then tries to find the panda cub again the next morning, after trying to beg new treats. Just in case, this time she leaves a sealed message on her bedroll explaining that if she's out all night it's because she's tracking pandas.
Tracking roll: 10 8 2 2 1
Two successes of finding the panda cub from where she left it!
Wait! I had a schtick! I roll a 5 and will have 3 successes if you'll forgive me for being a goof.
- You can get back in the mid-morning; the panda family has not moved too far. You can do the luring-the-cub thing, followed by the two larger bears; by the end of the day, you're reaching the outskirts of the city. That's when people start noticing the pandas, and there's a lot of screaming and running about and running to get guards...
Oh no! Not the guards! They might hurt the pandas!
Lijuan is now trying to herd the pandas away from the city. (Is the circus camped inside the city? If not, she's trying to spiral out toward the circus.)
- The circus is camped essentially next to the city, but neither is it surrounded by a wall or anything.
If guards appear she will explain that she's just trying to bring home her panda cub, and it's not her fault its parents followed, and please don't hurt them they didn't do anything!
If necessary she will interpose herself between guards and pandas.
- The panda cub continues to only have a move of 1, so even once you start going the other direction, it's not so fast. Eventually guards do show up - they don't actually seem to want to provoke the pandas into a fight, though they are clearly intent on defending the city from a panda invasion, if it comes to that. One of the guards tries very hard to get you to please come away from the pandas without making any sudden moves. A panda growls at him, when he starts paying too much attention to you and the cub.
- "You really don't want to take one of those home with you, miss. They might look cute when they're little, but they'll take your head off quick as look at you."
"Not Kawaii! She's so fuzzy! She and Ho and I are going to be best friends. This is Ho here. Do you like dogs?"
Lijuan actually gets 3 successes on a charisma roll with fast talk! But she's probably not going to be able to sneak the panda cub into the circus with two adult pandas and a squadron of guards following her. The New Plan is to lead the pandas back into the mountains and hope nobody tells Takanata or Ringmaster Te about this adventure.
"Excuse me Mr. Guard sama, but do you have any apples I can borrow?"
- The guards, as it turns out, did not bring apples with them to fight the pandas.
- And they really really think you should please not get close enough to the pandas to feed them apples out of your actual hands that you want to keep.
- The whole group of you (pandas, Lijuan, guards) seems likely to be heading back towards the mountains - the guards aren't attacking the pandas while the pandas aren't attacking, and aren't able to get close enough to actually bodily drag you away from the pandas, but neither are they leaving you to go off with the killing machines of death. :)
Lijuan hand feeds each of the pandas a small treat in order to convince the guards that she's not in any danger and that they should just go away and please don't tell Uncle Takanata! Then she heads back toward the mountains with the pandas, trying to make her dwindling supply of panda snacks last as long as possible.
- One of them has an inspiration.
- "Miss, if you leave those creatures be and come back with us, we won't tell your uncle. But if you go off into the mountains with them, I'm going to have to come with you to try make sure you're not killed, and Chen there is going to have to go tell your uncle right this minute, and he's going to have to come and fetch you home.
Lijuan starts to cry.
"I can't leave the pandas here; they'll get lost and they might be scared or something! Please, please, please give me a little longer to get them at least a little bit away from the city?"
- You think you have totally lost them at the idea that the Imperial Pandas will be scared. On the other hand, they are also unwilling to let you go off into the night with the ferocious killing machines.
Only two successes on fast talk this time. If it works, Lijuan will try to retrace her steps back to a wilderness area (if there are fields, rice patties, grazing or other cultivated land she doesn't want to leave the pandas there).
If Chen seems to be moving toward the circus, Lijuan will drop all her panda treats and chase after him, wailing.
- Well, he's starting to head back into the city - it's not clear if it's the circus specifically.
drops treats Waaaaaugh! "Chen! Chen-sama! Uncle Takanata doesn't need to know! Honest! We'll find Yoshi and he'll take care of everything! I'm here! I'm coming! Please don't tell Uncle Takanata! He's a very busy man! He won't like being interrupted!"
- We assume that once you say you're coming, you come away from the pandas. The guards start gingerly escorting you farther away from the pandas; one of the grownups picks up the cub in her mouth, and the two pandas head back up towards the mountains at a much faster pace.
- They start escorting you back, and it does become clear that having name-dropped Takanata, that's where you're being taken.
- Takanata is having a very long day at the circus, and it is made longer by the entrance of two Iron Mountain city guards, escorting a possibly-crying Lijuan, looking for Takanata.
- "My lord? Your niece was found earlier, luring several Imperial Panda towards the city by dropping food for them. You may not have such creatures in the Isle of Beauty, but these are *very* dangerous animals, very fierce and not fond of men. It's only through great good fortune that no one was hurt, and there was something of a panic."
- "I'm sure it was... (he looks at Lijuan) just youthful recklessness, and not a deliberate attempt to cause a massacre, but you must understand that that is what might have happened."
"Kawaii wasn't going to massacre anybody! She was going to come live with me and Ho! I'd have got her mom and dad to give her to me if you hadn't gone and messed it all up!"
"I'm sorry Uncle Takanata! It was supposed to be a surprise! And now Kawaii's gone home and I'll never see her again and it's all ruined."
Lijuan starts to cry again.
- Takanata has a pained look on his face as he pushes himself away from his desk. He stands with a sigh, and addresses the guardsmen, ignoring Lijuan's outburst.
- "My apologies, gentlemen. We visited a menagerie a few months ago which had Pandas in its repetoire, and my niece has been convinced ever since that Silken Wings would be better if it also had Pandas among its animal attractions. I had not realized she would go to such lengths to pursue this aim, however.
- "She has been studying with some of the animal tamers here in the circus, and I expect she simply overestimated her abilities in that regard. I am sure there was no intention of hurting or endangering anyone.
- "I am pleased to hear no one was hurt. If there is any damage that needs repair, please let me know and I will see what can be done. I assure you that it will not happen again." At that he glances at Lijuan for the first time, and his face is not happy.
- Looking back at the guards, he adds "Is there anything else I need to know about this matter?"
- Assuming they say "no", he continues "Very well. Thank you so much for your kind assistance. I will take care of my niece from here.
- "If you would care to stay and see some of the circus, and the animals we do have, I am sure Li Merit can arrange something."
- Then he takes Lijuan's hand and guides her into the tent.
Lijuan hangs her head.
"I wanted to bring a panda home with me. They're so FUZZY!"
"But when I asked Ringmaster Te he said he'd put it in a cage and it would be lonely and I wouldn't be allowed to be with it even to sleep. So I figured I'd better get a little one and she'd be no trouble at all and Ringmaster Te would see and let me keep her with me."
"And First Panda was too big and didn't want to come home with me anyway. He just sat on me and stuff. So I went and found Kawaii! And I gave her treats so she'd follow me, but her parents followed her, and I was walking backwards to give her treats so I missed the circus and got too close to town, and then some people got scared and called the guards."
"And then the *stupid* guards did everything I told them not to. They were supposed to go away and not bother you if I came away from the pandas, and I didn't want to but I did, and then they bothered you anyway! And now the pandas are all the way back in the mountains I guess. I hope they can find their way home."
"I'm sorry Uncle Takanata".
- Takanata gets somewhat less frowny during this, but shakes his head at the end.
- "I cannot feel you have very much grounds to complain about the soldiers disobeying you, Lijuan, when you were in the process of disobeying Ringmaster Te. The soldiers are not even supposed to be taking orders from you, and you are supposed to be obeying him."
- "I expect the pandas found their way home safely. But you are to make no more attempts to acquire one this year. Study with the animal trainers, and we will consider when the circus returns to the west next year whether there is an appropriate way to include a Panda in our travels."
- "Is that understood?"
"A whole *year*? Kawaii will be all grown up in a year!"
"Yes Uncle Takanata, I understand."