Rule of Threes
|"It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."|| The run begins on the Day of the Early Dog in the Month of the Fox in the thirteenth Year of the Magpie since the Regency Council was formed.|
The run takes place (mostly) in the ocean off the coast of the Illuminated Precincts
Takanata draws a watercolor, with some poems. Most of the party art critics deem this art confusing, complicated, and probably doomful. And full of threes. Lijuan draws some art of her own - whether all the sea monsters make it more or less doomful than Takanata's art is not clear.
|Boats and Sea Monsters||An awful lot of threes|
Cai Wen is summoned to Dragon Army Headquarters, by which the messenger means Commander Sun's command in the Precincts. There, Commander Sun explains that one, Cai Wen owes him a favor, and two, he seems to be short on strike teams since Da-Xie took back the Bearers of Swift Response, so he has one more mission to accomplish in the upcoming Defense than he has strike teams. Thus, he would like Cai Wen (and his companions) to undertake the destruction of the Southern Armada's Shadow Flagship. He recommends that they make their own way to the ship, and avoid notice by the rest of the fleet as much as possible.
Xian is summoned to Dragon Army Headquarters, by which the messenger means Sea Lord Miyora's flagship currently offshore from the Shrouded Isle. The Sea Lord was impressed by Xian's quick thinking and loyalty in saving him from the previous assassins, and is concerned about the loyalty of some of his own men, so he would like Xian's assistance in protecting him in the coming battle. While he is on his flagship coordinating the defense, the Empire's fleet will have a x1.5 multiplier, so it is key that he not be taken out by Southern assassins. Xian is deeply dubious about standing on a friendly ship, given that she expects to be attacked by sea monsters at any moment, but agrees to find stalwart companions to protect the Sea Lord.
Kalkin drops by to chat with Lijuan, since she's the one he saw leap on carrying the burden of Kali's Sankara Stone. Kalkin is impressed that the Empire’s naval attack has managed to unite all eight factions - that's the first time that's happened in a long time. Anyway, given certain insults he has recently received, he'll let her know when the Kali / Maya priests start their ritual near the naval incursion, so she can deal with it, if she wants to.
Chochiro drops by to talk to Xian. She asks, in the Countess's name, to borrow the party's Icon of Aquatic Motion, to make boats go extra-fast. Xian worries that if she asks Merit, he'll say no, but since it's not in the party loot due to Merit holding it, she has to talk him into loaning it to Chochiro anyways. Chochiro also tells Xian that Huian and Sai are taking ship for the Isle of Beauty.
Kiri drops by to talk to Cai Wen. The Moon's First Daughter is willing to help out, though they really don't want to engage in actual battle. But they can help deliver people to their initial starting locations.
The Blue Dragon stops by to talk to Xiao Fa. He’s been assigned a fairly complex mission during this naval battle, but will be able to provide intra-battle transport to Xiao Fa and his compatriots if summoned during the battle.
Ti Jun checks in with Master Deng - he and Golden Flame and the rest of the Seahorse Cavalry will be doing their best against the enemy, with Da-Xie along for the ride. They'll be kind of busy, but if Zhi-Hao gets into serious trouble, he can contact them for an emergency distraction or evacuation.
Rumors begin to spread that the southern armada is coming, and the Imperial Fleet will be setting sail with tomorrow's dawn. Concerned that there is too much planning still to do, and not enough time, Takanata calls on the I Ching to push the upcoming invasion a day later. The Imperial Fleet will be setting sail with the dawn the day after tomorrow.
A Spare Day of Planning
Xiao Fa decides that he's possibly one of the less destructive people in the party, and agrees to take the Sankara stone, so Lijuan is less hamstrung in combat.
Takanata and Shen-Ji zip over to the Illuminated Precincts to try and find any sorcerers who might be able to help, but any sorcerers not nailed down have been drafted by the Dragon Army. They also look for magical writing paper, and Jia-Jia declares that all those pieces of paper are cumbersome, and re-paperifies it into one communication scroll that everyone can use, with fifteen communication lines.
Kuan-Xi sends messages to Master Koji and some of Anto's other teachers, hoping to recruit them to the battle (Master Koji's water attack can swamp small boats).
Takanata picnics near the Jasmine, and arranges for water breathing for the party.
Merit hires some street thugs to accompany Chochiro on whatever she is doing with the fast boat. Zhuai gets put on the task of figuring out assassination defenses.
- "We think the Sea lord might be assassinated."
- "By our guys or theirs?" -Zhuai
- "We think by Southerners."
Five tael of bribes and investigation later, he comes up with some intelligence:
- Southerners Disguised as soldiers will look odd (not even).
- Living shadows take double damage from fire and light.
- People in the water are immune to a vortex of destruction.
- Anyone with metal armor is immune to poppy seed thorn grenades.
- "Protect the Sea Lord" is the objective, but don't forget to protect his Seer as well.
- "Lijuan, just to be clear - best husband ever." -Merit
- "No he isn't!" -Master Zhou
The day of planning gone, it is time for a night's sleep, and the Missions in the morning.
Kasumi, Lijuan, Takanata, and Master Deng go to fight the ritual on the coast of the Shrouded Isle.
Zhou, Merit, Shuyan, and Min Feng protect the Sea Lord.
Shen-Ji, Kuan-Xi, Cai Wen (and Kiri), Xian, and Xiao Fa go after the Shadow Flagship.
(The Shadow Flagship is, for mystical purposes, in the South, so the effects of Talismans and the Sankara Stone are all reversed. The party has chosen quite well, as there are no Talismans on the flagship, and Xiao Fa has the Sankara stone.)
Cai Wen consults the starting score:
On the Sea Lord's flagship, half of the soldiers (the odd ones) turn out to be Southern infilitrators. Living shadows appear from water barrels - Master Zhou identifies them as incredibly slow but incredibly deadly. An illusion effect confuses the other half of the soldiers into attacking friends.
On the Shadow flagship, the party slowly fights their way towards the bottom of the ship, to reverse the bilge pumps, to find that Merit's strike team is there. They must defend the strike team against the Southern soldiers, as well as priests. Southern terrain is strangely square-gridded, to everyone's consternation, and ranged attacks are limited by line of sight.
On the coast, the ritual is surrounded by multiple layers of arcane defense, which both do damage and confuse the line-crosser into attacking friends. The high priest is invisible, except when he is ramping up a retribution, and can throw the souls of fallen lesser priests at the party. Kraken also show up, but Kawaii keeps them at bay.
On the Sea Lord's ship, reports begin to come in via the seer - mostly, this causes scores to drop and lose asterisks. Southern reinforcements (medium sized priests) also begin to show up, causing trouble.
- The Blue Dragon has stolen a ship.
- The Seahorse cavalry attacks Southern ships below the waterline.
- The Blue Dragon arrives at the Sea Lord's ship to ask if anyone needs to be transferred to another map. Merit pleads for fighters to be brought in, if anyone can be spared. The Blue Dragon bows over Min Feng's hand, gives her a cornflower, and heads off again.
- A sea serpent attacks the Shadow Flagship, trying to get at Xian. A kraken attacks too. She tries to get priests to attack the serpent from the inside ("the most vulnerable spot").
- The Blue Dragon swoops by the coast ritual, just as the high priest is slain. He says that the Sea Lord's ship needs help, and everyone jumps aboard. (Kawaii, alas, is left behind). He brings them by the Sea Lord's ship in the next drift.
- The Alchemist makes a deal with Shipwrack.
- The Blue Dragon stops by the Shadow flagship, but not everyone is able to reach his little boat. He says he'll be back in the next drift, but that will be the last one, and brings the early evacuees to the Sea Lord's ship.
- In the next drift, the rest of the group gets rescued by the Blue Dragon
The third and last round of fighting is NPCs only.
- The Obsidian Warlord and his team takes the Light Flagship.
- The Blue Dragon completes his plot.
- Chochiro's boat, with a portion of the Countess's Flame, pops illusionary warships
Finally, the last two Southern ship groups are ordered to depart these waters, by the authority of the Warden of the Southern Seas.
- " Go forth and do not return." -Blue Dragon
The Empire lost about half of the ships it fielded, but it could have been a lot worse.
The Sea Lord offers everyone on team "Defend the Sea Lord" a commission in the Dragon Army Navy. (Commander Song takes one.) And he owes the party a favor.
Ti Jun, Da-Xie, and the Sea Horse Cavalry sunk a bunch of ships on behalf of the Isle of Beauty - that counts as Repelling the South, as far as switching the islands back. (The Shrouded Isle still needs to Repel (or Invade) the North, and the North Wall on the Isle of Beauty is still a problem).
Takanata stops by Li Merit's horse to talk to the Very Large Horse Spirit. Will it screw up Horse's deal if they tell the Firelord that his horse can walk on water? Horse says he knows that now.
- "Good job with saving the Empire. If I were in charge, I'd reward you for that. But I'm not. " -Horse
Takanata notes that the Kali/Maya priest is dead; his body is where Master Deng killed it, but his soul is not in the Empire.