Sands of Blood
|"The more you sweat in peacetime, the less you bleed during war."|| The run begins on the Day of the Early Magpie, in the three hundred and forty-fifth Year of the Spider since the forging of the First Blades of Deliverance.|
The run takes place on the way to and in Jabon, the capital of the Savanna of Tears.
City of Light
People wrap up their business and puttering in the City of Light. Lijuan reports that the reason Ice Chips of Doom dissolve in sea water is because of the moon - no one is quite sure what she means by "moon monks", but she seems quite confident. Master Zhou, still back in the Butterfly Kingdom, has his audience with Ti Wren and receives his present and his request to go find Ti Jun with everyone else. He takes a third (non-cursed) ship to the City of Light, where there's an urchin waiting around for him and Yoshi to arrive. The urchin points him towards the inn, so he heads there.
Kuan-Xi is extremely glad to see him, as she's been looking after the people who got food poisoning from the cursed ship.
- "Is there anyone else around?" -Tom
- "Yeah, she's in the main room of the inn." -Mike
- "Good, we don't have to go to speed rolls." -Tom
Kuan-Xi recruits Master Zhou to help get the sick people up and about again; the patients do seem to be much improved, as they are loudly demanding tea and complaining that Master Zhou is not Su-Yin. Once they are feeling better, the party is up to opening the letter left by Takanata, telling them of the events of the previous run.
Cai Wen checks in with Commander Sun to tell him about the Southron plans, and also learns that there is a report of Southerners crossing the wall in force; a captured southerner has been taken to the capital of the Savanna. The translator for the Bearers of Swift Response was killed in the battle, so if Cai Wen happens to be going that direction, he might stop by and offer his services. Commander Sun writes him a letter of introduction. Speaking of translations, Master Zhou shows Cai Wen the silver jewelry with Torghut symbols on it, that they took from the leaders of the fur smugglers - Cai Wen says that they are symbols for martial virtues such as ferocity, strength, and skill.
Lijuan brings some of the local urchins, who she has been trying to teach some fighting skills to, to Master Zhou to demonstrate. He is not impressed by their stick-fighting skills; having only three dice, it's hard for them to get three successes as consistently as he thinks they should. He glowers at them and Lijuan.
- "They have learned little! Teach them better!" -Master Zhou
- "It was fun watching someone else be tutored." -Anto
- "You have no idea." -Xiao Fa
As the group gets ready to head out, Lijuan tries to convince Kuan-Xi to wait for Yoshi, but Anto encourages her to come along with him, and in the end, more urchins are left to keep watch on the docks. They refrain from hiring the Lily Wanderer, on the theory that that will just get them searched by the Dragon Army, and Cai Wen arranges for transport on the Turtle Express.
The captain asks what the group is traveling for, and a deafening silence falls. Lijuan finally explains that she is meeting children all over the world, and that the children in the City of Light are better fed than many, because they catch crayfish and eat them with toast. He's not really sure what to make of that, and his nosiness is defeated.
The ship reaches the Dragon Army river checkpoint, and the captain notes to Cai Wen that "problems cost extra". Well, the party does have some fake treasures, but Cai Wen has the Talisman of the Butterfly, and a letter from Commander Sun, so the checkpoint doesn't include much more than asking Cai Wen whether they're carrying any undeclared weapons or mercenaries. The big rumor among the soldiers is that the Sonwu clan (that is, the royal clan) has called a Conclave, which will start in Jabon as soon as the last of the clan chiefs arrive. The Turtle Express lets the party off at Gangmul, the Savanna port where the Fair Seas (the Butterfly tribute ship) is docked.
In the Morning
Cai Wen and Lijuan do a quick pass through the Gangmul docks to see what information they can pick up. The local urchins tell Lijuan that going to the Conclave involves a lot of fighting people in order to talk. Cai Wen hears that there's some dispute between the ambassador from the Strand and the Savanna. Apparently, they are upset that a prisoner taken in Strand territory was brought to the Savanna, and the Savanna thinks that perhaps Strand territory doesn't stretch quite so far into the Savanna as the maps all claim... There's also some dispute internal to the Savanna clans having to do with the treasure that was stolen from the Savanna before - Cai Wen told the ambassador who had stolen it, and he headed out to kill her. Now, there seems to be some disagreement as to who ought to own the treasure now.
Master Zhou also points out that an ambassador from the Viridian Queen recently went to the City of Light to talk to the Council of Revered Sages about "matters of security". Anto thinks that the Savanna should finish its current war before starting another one, but he admits he isn't an expert on politics.
Kuan-Xi arranges for rooms at the best inn in town, and in the morning, the rumors are that Conclave has started. Also in the morning, there's another guest at the inn, a dancer named Sirika, who's looking for someone to escort her into the capital for Conclave.
- "We found your moll! Better act quick!" -Tom
She's apparently looking for a "big strong guy" to get her into the city. Hiro immediately swoops to the rescue.
- "Are you looking for someone who has an invitation?" -Hiro
- "Invitation... that's a good way to put it..." -Sirika
She offers to pay the way for anyone who is willing to get her in. This does raise the question of how one gets into Conclave.
- "Just issue a challenge at the gate..." -Sirika
- "Can you use wit?" -Cai Wen
- "I'm not sure they'll be impressed by that, unless you can knock them over with your wit."
Hiro and Master Zhou start to think that Sirika is oddly familiar-looking. Ah, Master Zhou notes, she's Merchant Siri, and reminds Cai Wen that he nearly got her killed.
- "We will not be mentioning that to her." -Cai Wen
So... do they actually want to help her get into Conclave, since she's somewhat a bad guy? No one is quite sure. She doesn't seem to be enough of a bad guy to resort to "get her!" And the party may not be the only people who can get into the city during Conclave. How does one get in, exactly? What sort of challenge does this need to be? Hiro asks Sirika for more details, and Cai Wen talks to the innkeeper. Apparently, once the last clan chief arrives, they seal the city walls, and no one is permitted in unless they prove themselves worthy by defeating a guard. Once you do so, you can take yourself and your servants in. Okay, that sounds simple enough. What about actually speaking at the Conclave?
- "You have to stride out into the..." -Innkeeper
- "Sands of Blood" -Xian
- "That's good, they should call it that."
Cai Wen notes that he has business with the Dragon Army. Ah, well, the innkeeper says - he can probably get a soldier to fight for him to let him in, then.
Master Zhou archly asks Sirika if they should all call her Sirika now. Yes. Does she plan to cause trouble? Not for them, she says. But she could cut them in on it if they want to help. Hmm - how exactly would they "help"? She says that if they speak at Conclave and support the claim that the Gyeong clan (the people who want the treasure the ambassador recovered returned to them) should receive what is rightfully theirs, she would consider that helping.
- "Is this because you don't like the ambassador, or because you want the treasure where it's easier to steal?" -Zhou
- "Are there any downsides here?" -Sirika
The party excuses themselves and confer. Should they help her? Do they care?
- "I think stealing Butterfly treasures is good and I wish we were doing it." -Lijuan
Since the Butterfly Kingdom is probably not getting them back, Cai Wen isn't sure how much they care either way. If she gets into a lot of public trouble in the city, then being the person who fought to get her in might reflect badly.
- '"If you yoink my moll, you get the attendant troubles." -Cai-wen
Basically, the party doesn't much like the Savanna, but they also don't much like the Keepers of the Hoard. On the other hand, if the treasure in contention vanishes, then there probably won't need to be any claiming of land belonging to the Strand, so it could help stop that pending war. Anto declares that this is Not His Plot - and it's not like he needs Hiro to fight his way in for him. Cai Wen notes that even if they don't help her too much, then when they find something they do care about, they may be able to get her to help a little. The party decides to go along with getting Sirika in for the moment, and play things by ear after that.
Passing the Gate
Everyone heads down to Jabon. The capital city is surrounded by a number of tents and food-sellers and the like, and other people who are interested in offering bribes to people who look like fighters. One man offers to be Master Zhou's disciple for a day, but is chastised: "The path of Kung Fu is a lifetime, not a day."
The group splits up into Fighters and their Servants:
- Anto: Kuan Xi, Xiao Fa
- Cai Wen and his letter: Xian
- Hiro: Sirika and Zhou.
Cai Wen talks to the guards at the gate, and says he has a letter for someone in the Bearers of Swift Response. A Bearer is sent for, and gets into an argument with the guard - he has apparently already fought to get in, but the guard says that didn't include Cai Wen and Xian. The Bearer rolls his eyes and knocks out the guard in a blow. They get in.
The guards appear to be drawn from the ranks of the Third Blades of Redemption - they have swordsmen and archers, and seem to know a bit of brawling, but are not vast and scary by any means. Hiro climbs a tree (as part of his Mad Plan), makes a speech, and leaps out onto a guard.
- "I am Teng Hiroki, and I challenge you to unarmed combat!" -Hiro
- "Don't lock your knees when you jump!" -Master Zhou
- "Oh, you're at -1 die to your next attack now." -Mike
- "Jackass!" -Hiro
Master Zhou continues to point out flaws in Hiro's form as he fights, each time subtracting another die. Hiro complains bitterly in response.
- "What are you doing?" -Hiro
- "Teaching" -Master Zhou
Once Hiro finishes knocking out the guard, Master Zhou's criticisms start to make more sense - he realizes he has some spare Yang-equivalent dice now from the lesson.
Lijuan, next in line, looks around for people who might be willing to pay her to get in.
- "I look for urchins and people willing to pay." -Heidi
- "Those are two mutually exclusive groups." -Mike
She settles on two urchins who declare themselves Worthy, and gets them in after a quick archery battle.
Anto, less impressed by these somewhat poor opponents, declares that he wishes to fight a more worthy opponent. The captain comes out, and introduces himself as Nam Chen, brother of Nam Cho. He definitely looks more impressive, and Cai Wen starts taking bets. After Anto has parried a few times and Cai Wen has his bets in, Anto wraps him up in his kusarigama plus some vines, and then pummels him into unconsciousness. The other guards take the feather from Nam Chen's cap, and present it to Anto, telling him "Show this to Nam Cho, and you will be rewarded for your valor." Nam Chen is given some healing potions by the other guards, and he and Anto exchange bows. Anto puts the feather in the disappearing hat, and wears it jauntily.
Prisoner of the Bearers
Rumor has it that the Bearers of Swift Response have taken over a local inn and are throwing a party. Sirika tells Hiro that she'll set up rooms at an inn that isn't full of the Dragon Army, and heads off to do so.
Meanwhile, back in the Butterfly Kingdom, Yoshi is the last to return from his minirun adventures. He is invited to an audience with the Queen, is presented with a tin-edged sword, and asked to catch up on the Quest for Ti Jun. An urchin at the docks tells Yoshi of a boat which can probably easily be stowed away on, but he pays for tickets. Then another urchin in the City of Light points out a hay wagon that he can certainly hide in the hay of in order to get to Jabon, but he chats with the wagon driver and ends up sitting up front with a promise to protect him from any bandits on the way.
Once Yoshi reaches Jabon, he finds the gates barred due to Conclave, but a very honorable merchant (named Merchant Hoh, not to be confused with Ho the dog) tells him what's going on, and offers him two li to get him in as well. The story about the amazing guy with the chain-vines is still going around, so Yoshi is pretty sure he's on the right track. Yoshi challenges a guard to a duel, and quickly knocks him down. Due to the tin-edged sword, it's a very soft takedown, so the guards are quite complimentary. Merchant Hoh (who turns out to be a spice merchant) pays Yoshi his two li, and gives him some Remarkable Pepper which he may work into his Danger Chef routine. Then, he asks around and finds the two Worthy Urchins that Lijuan let in, who can tell him where Anto the Incredibly Cool Chain Fighter is staying; at the inn is Sirika, who can tell him where everyone has gone, and everyone is re-united again.
The group has headed to the inn that the Bearers of Swift Response are staying in - as they approach the inn, a guy goes flying out the window and lands on the ground. Xiao Fa dashes over to make sure he's all right, and notes that he's been pummeled to within an inch of unconsciousness, and also notes that he's dressed something like Wei Han.
- "This is a fun inn!" -Hiro
Inside, there's a lot of raucous shouting - that's what he gets for insulting Little Sister. The Bearer who is escorting Cai Wen is appalled.
- "He did not insult Little Sister."
- "No, he did!"
- "Good job trouncing him, then!"
When the group cautiously heads in, they find a rowdy party, with a little throne to the side, built out of a chair on top of other chairs, and in the throne is Da-Xie. She waves to the party - hey, people she likes! Cai Wen shows his letter, and says he's here to talk to the prisoner. Well, he isn't in the inn, but they'll be able to take him there. Before that, though, they get the story, or at least something passing for one. A bunch of Southerners came over the Wall, and Da-Xie and the Bearers came and Got them. The one they captured was fighting against the others; Da-Xie thinks he probably got confused. She suggests that Cai Wen convince the Bearers to execute him, rather than keeping him around. In other conversation, Hiro tells Da-Xie about helping the Butterfly King (she's puzzled - butterflies have a king?) and the party at the Night of Gates. Lijuan warns Da-Xie to watch for the elements - as the Southerners were trying to trap the spirit of the Jasmine River.
The party heads to the Army prison, where Cai Wen shows his letter from Commander Sun. The soldiers there are a little grumpy that they don't get to go to the party, and question Cai Wen about how good he is at interrogation, Senatali, resisting interrogation, that sort of thing.
- "Did Commander Sun really send his regards?"
- "That would be telling." -Cai Wen
- "Okay, I guess you're really from him."
The prisoner is a huge Southerner, beaten and shackled and chained to the wall. The guards tell Cai Wen they'll be just outside, and to shout if he needs assistance.
Lijuan first-aids him first, and with very poor Xiang, he says "Me you thank." Xiao Fa takes a look at his chi - he has a lot of Tao, and also an invisible connection, similar to Ajeel's, though Xiao Fa thinks it's more smoothly integrated. He mentions that the prisoner has a thing "like Kali", and the prisoner objects: "No! Not Kali!"
Both Yoshi and Cai Wen are fluent in Senatali, so they switch to that language, with one translating for everyone else while the other speaks. The prisoner says his name is Iala Mané, and he admits that he was captured crossing the Wall. When asked why he came, he claims "To defend my land, and yours." Yoshi asks what the danger is; he thinks Yoshi would not understand, but he opposes a power called Kali. He himself is a servant of two masters: Ratri, Goddess of the Night, and Kar Fai, Master of the Sharpened Scale. Master Zhou perks up at this name.
- "Kar Fai of the Red Pagoda?" -Master Zhou
- "Alas, no more; the Red Pagoda has fallen."
- "From Bear Mountain?"
Okay, so Southerners still think it's called Bear Mountain, though that is not a big surprise to anyone.
Master Zhou introduces himself as Master Zhou of the White Pagoda. Iala Mané is shocked, and says that Zhou must not return to Bear Mountain, and that Kar Fai is coming.
- "Do you know when Kar Fai will return?"
- "When a way can be opened. Should he step into the Empire now, his enemies would know of him instantly."
Kar Fai needs a distractions so he can return in secrecy - Iala Mané's mission was to scout out such a plan, but now that will not be. Master Zhou notes that Quan Lo is staying in the Green Pagoda still. Iala Mané finds that not unexpected.
- "He seems a decent fellow. I'd hate to kill him." -Master Zhou
- "We need to get him free, so we can get Kar Fai back." -Master Zhou
- "Really? The fast responding people and the lady will be grumpy." -Lijuan
Iala Mané does not know exactly what Kali is attempting to do here in particular detail, but he knows that she plans to "replace your gods". Once she has the power of this land, she will also be able to overthrow the other gods in his land.
- "Our people think you are our greatest threat, because you fall under the sway of Kali."
Hey, is Kali a Spider? Iala Mané says that while she has many arms, she is not a spider.
Getting a briefing on how he got captured, the party finds out that the large group of southerners crossing the Wall belonged to Mola Ram, and Iala Mané crossed the wall to try to stop them. His crossing the wall is what alerted the guardians of the Wall to the crossing; it was a necessary sacrifice. This group of Mola Ram's soldiers were specially prepared; they were put through an extensive ceremony that took their Tao away - but deeper than that, they were erased from the map of the worlds, allowing them to cross over at will in secrecy. When he crossed after them, that set off the alert that notified the guardians, and so they were defeated. He thinks it will take a fair bit of time to prepare more such troops. Soldiers who have undergone this ritual aren't invisible, but they do tend to be disregarded - Iala Mané notes that "your people tend to disregard doings of a great many as beneath notice."
Anto looks at the bindings on his soul - he is bound unto death, voluntarily, to something very large and very far away.
- "You are probably not going to get out of this. They want you executed." -Hiro
- "It is my understanding that they are arguing about that even now."
Hiro thinks he should brief them on how to carry on this work if he falls, but he doesn't know how best to do that. He meant to come here to try to arrange for Kar Fai's passage, but he hadn't gotten to that point yet. As far as the future goes, Kar Fai believes that his burden is necesary to solve this problem. Right now, the enemies are tearing apart the Red Pagoda brick by brick, searching for Kar Fai's burden, because they do not think him strong enough to take it from the Empire. When he returns, they will discover it instantly because they search for it. Thus, to allow his safe return, his enemies must be distracted for long enough for him to return unobserved.
Iala Mané is using several ambiguous terms here - he confirms that the ones he calls "the enemies" are the servants of the Spider. And the "burden" is - the same as the burden your friend carries, though different. He indicates Cai Wen here, which is not at all who anyone expected.
Cai Wen brings him some water and asks about his burden. Can Iala Mané tell him more? Iala Mané says he is not as familiar with such things as the masters of the North, but presumably he carries it to guard it? Xian figures it out first - he's talking about the Great Talisman of the Butterfly, which Cai Wen is wearing beneath his clothes. Iala Mané confirms this - Kar Fai's is a token of the Dragon. Guardians of such burdens have a heavy responsibility. Yoshi asks if any of these burdens have fallen or been captured, but he does not know.
Master Zhou asks if he knows about the Dragon, the Great Spirit? Iala Mané says that Kar Fai says he will return, but that he needs assistance. Kar Fai gave him a medallion of a silver dragon, when Iala Mané first joined him.
Xiao Fa asks what level of distraction would be sufficient? Something that would capture the attention of several of the Marked, for the several weeks necessary for Kar Fai to regain his power. Iala Mané had hoped to lure the Marked into fighting Mola Ram, but does not see an easy way to do this at this time.
The questions begin to circle around again. He doesn't know the details of Mola Ram's ritual, other than that he tries to disrupt the connection of the Empire's gods to their people, so that Kali can compete to claim their souls. Currently, Kali is barred from the people of the Empire. What had he tried to do to get the Marked to attempt to fight Kali's forces? His mission was aborted when he realized the forces of Mola Ram were crossing the Wall. He hadn't actually done anything on that plot yet before being captured. How much do Mola Ram and the Marked know about each other? He thinks not a lot, but he really doesn't know.
How can the party get in touch with his allies? If they take his medallion, one of them will contact the one holding it. Hiro takes it.
As for his immediate fate, Iala Mané thinks that "forces of the Empire are arguing with the forces of two of your Rajahs over who has the honor of destroying me." So this may be a reason to go to Conclave after all. However, if they arrange to release him or otherwise thwart the execution plans, will Da-Xie hate them all forever? Cai Wen suggests - since the Southerners keep trying to kill Hiro, perhaps they can make a case for giving the prisoner to Hiro to execute personally.
- "Does that help?" -Hiro
- "This is a plan in progress." -Cai Wen
On the other hand, Da-Xie knows that Yoshi kept Ajeel - she was grumpy about that, but doesn't hate him for it.
Iala Mané says he has made peace with his sacrifice - he does not want the party to sacrifice themselves to free him. But, being free would be good if it were possible with lesser cost. They ask about other allies of Kar Fai - he is not familiar with Zhantai Reng, but does know Shan Tsu, who he thinks is also a Silver Dragon. The idea is floated of getting Kuan-Xi to talk to Da-Xie alone to convince her Iala Mané is a good guy. A fascinating plan, but one that might possibly end in serious fireworks.
With a lack of any more questions to ask, the party takes its leave of Iala Mané and heads back to the inn for the night. (Cai Wen tells the guards that he'll write a report of the results of the interrogation). Criers are beginning to announce that the Conclave tomorrow will be the special "Sands of Blood" version.
Anto meets up with Nam Cho and gets +2 status out of it for Conclave by showing him his feather.
Sirika briefs them on how Conclave works - basically, the clan chiefs have influence, and can speak any time they want to; other people must fight in the arena in order to have a voice, and their influence is proportional to both their status and the attacks they make. This influence can be directed at any of the clan chiefs, and once a proposition has a majority of the chiefs (the Royal clan counts for +3), it will pass. Sirika is pleased to see that they're interested in it now - do they want a cut? The issues before today's Conclave are:
- Give the Treasure Back; The Royal (Sonwu) clan currently holds all three treasures, including the one that was first given to the Gyeong River clan before it was stolen and then recovered by the ambassador to the Strand. There are a lot of rumors hinting that it was Really Very Convenient that the treasure was "stolen" and then "recovered" like that.
- Annex Land from the Strand; The long tail of swamp next to the Wall is claimed by the Strand, though it was originally Savanna land.
- Trade Land for Treasure; If the treasure is returned to Gyeong River, they have to give Sonwu land. If the treasure is not returned to Gyeong River, Sonwu has to give them land instead.
- Give the Prisoner to the Strand; Representatives of the Viridian Queen say that the battle took place on Strand territory, and the prisoner is rightfully theirs.
- Kill the Prisoner; Execute him now!
- Recall Dragon Army; Most of the army has been messing around in the northeast for seasons now - it should stop pootling around up there and get back down here where there are Southerners invading, and actual wars going on.
All of these are basically "the Savanna passes a law saying this" - the Savanna does not actually have the power to recall the Dragon Army, but they can put a great deal of pressure on the Army both politically and socially. Crazy laws will probably not do much, and pushing through a really obnoxious law ("The Obsidian Warlord is evil!") will likely draw a lot of attention. Talking one clan chief into supporting something that doesn't pass may have some effect, but it won't change the point of view of the country.
The starting positions are:
|Prisoner to Strand||30||10||-||-||-||50||50||50|
After some discussion, the party suggests cutting a deal with Sirika - if they get "Give the Treasure Back" passed, she'll steal the prisoner and set him free. She thinks that's a fair trade - as soon as that proposition passes, she'll pull off a prison break. So as long as that decision happens before things like "Kill Prisoner", it's all good. The party also thinks that "Recall Army" is a good one to see passed - it will annoy the Obsidian Warlord, and cause some trouble for the blockade. And preventing "Annex Land" from passing might cut down on the wars happening.
That night, people are able to do some visiting to sway people's opinions pre-Conclave. This will only sway people who don't currently have an opinion at all (that is, the space is blank), and they can only be influenced towards something, not negative.
Xian makes a case for giving Iala Mané to the Strand instead - he'll get thrown in the Coil, and then the Strand will get all his secrets, but that might well bring them on board against Mola Ram and the Spider, which would be a good thing. But "Mola Ram is bad" isn't actually a hard thing to convince people of, and the Spider secret is a dangerous one. Plus then Iala Mané is likely to be brainwashed, which puts him working for the Strand instead of the Dragon, and people aren't sure that's the best plan.
In the end, the group agrees to the deal with Sirika. Merchant Hoh helps Yoshi with his persuasion; his recent battle to enter the city and the righteousness of his cause bring the clan chief of Hwangbo entirely on board with returning the treasure.
(Also that night, Lijuan teaches the local urchins the beginnings of Turning Wave kung fu.)
At Yoshi's request, Kibo sends a dream to the King about giving the treasure back, and Xian sends a dream to Jegal about bringing the Dragon Army back. Lijuan points out that she's been having recurring nightmares about Yoshi eating spiders and turning into a spider, but nobody else seems interested in that. Conclave begins! In addition to the men representing the various clans, and the party, there are a number of random citizens, who are trying to influence the clan chiefs towards things like "lower taxes on beer". With the initial campaigning, "Give Treasure Back" passes pretty quickly, and "Recall Dragon Army" passes not long after. Of the other clans, Clan Jegal appears to be the one with the positions the party approves of most.
Heady with power, the group starts pushing through a bounty on Mola Ram and the followers of Kali, while Xian explains to the spectators and the chief of Namgung who Mola Ram is.
Yoshi passes the Great Amulet of the Butterfly to Anto, dropping his own status precipitously and boosting Anto's quite a bit, much to the interest of the spectators. The Mola Ram bounty passes, as does "Kill the Prisoner", and then the battle ends. Those who fought are taken to the Recovery House of Heroes to rest.
There is a great public outcry when it is discovered that the prisoner (who was no doubt Mola Ram, that great Southern villain everyone has now heard of) has escaped before he could be executed. There is another public outcry when the Great Treasure of
the Butterfly Kingdom the Gyeong Clan is stolen... again. Sirika makes a quick exit as soon as the gates are open, as she has learned her lesson about hanging around in enemy territory with stolen treasure. The ambassador comes to visit Cai Wen to see if he has any hints this time; he suggests that the treasure was probably stolen by Mola Ram.
- Cai Wen, accompanied by Wei Han, Takanata, and Lijuan head to the Tanzhe Plain. Cai Wen is looking for a gambler; Lijuan and others are visiting the Temple of Eternal Dream.
- Master Zhou and Takanata go to talk about skinwalkers to Elder Danyu in the City of Spires.
- Shen-Ji tries to get an audience with a representative of the (small) Myeong clan in Jabon, and then the pair of them head off to Myeong lands.
- Anto and Kuan-Xi head off to Gangmul to try to find Master Koji.
- Cai Wen visits a racetrack in the Harbor of Fortunate Arrival.
- Master Zhou heads out on a whirlwind tour of various temples and dojos, starting with the Brilliant Dawn.
- Cai Wen goes shopping in the Illuminated Precincts.