Saving Lady Jin
|"The longest day soon comes to an end"|| The run takes place late in the Month of the Dog in the Tenth Year of the Dog since the Third Treaty of Houses.|
The run takes place in various places around the Empire
People are resting in Tahiti, celebrating their victory over Shen Dai Han, when there is an ominous knock at the door. The butler heads to answer it, and returns to announce that His Exuberance Cai Wen has been summoned to an audience with the Lord of Benevolent Oversight.
Yanyu and Cai Wen head outside, while Master Zhou and Shen-Ji remain inside with the celebratory bon-bons. They are surprised to discover that the King of the Arcade is not, in fact, standing on the doorstep. The messenger clarifies: Cai Wen has been summoned to an audience with the King, in the Harbor of Fortunate Arrival. That is how royal summonses generally work. Well, all right then. Everyone heads to the Harbor, leaving the bon bons behind.
When they reach the city, things seem pretty calm. There are no mysterious celebrations, or boat races, or Northern Invaders in the streets. When they reached the palace, however, all the functionaries seemed a little nervous, but not in a way that was keeping them from doing their jobs. Often, the King has seen them before in a smaller study, but this time they are shown to the throne room. His Benevolence is speaking to a young woman, who Cai Wen identifies as Zhu Li, one of Willow's mechanics-expert competitors from the Precincts. When the group enters, the King receives them from the throne.
He asks for a report on the Winter Scoreboard, noting that a number of points that he expects to see have not been appearing, and he hopes that Lord Zhu can explain why. He says that he understands that the mechanic is... aging... and it has become increasingly difficult to get new points. However, it is his understanding that there are points in categories 2, 5, 6, 8 and 12 that are pending but not yet posted.
Cai Wen apologizes and says that the House of Exuberant Interference will investigate, but that one potential complication is that mechanic is getting more complicated, and other entities can meddle.
Yanyu, with a keen Sense Motive roll, notes that the question about the "aging mechanic" was carefully put, and that the King was carefully gauging the answer given.
The Lord of Benevolent Oversight nods, and says that as long as Cai Wen is sure that the points will come in, he will not worry about it further and not second guess them.
- "I am certain that I can be assured of your loyalty, and you have always come through in the past." -Lord of Benevolent Oversight
- "Of course - we want the stability of the Arcade and the Empire above all, and obviously the House of Benevolent Oversight has been the best leadership for the Arcade." -Yanyu, jumping in
The King nods thoughtfully, and dismisses the party. After they leave, Shen-Ji notes to Yanyu that the party is planning to put a new Queen (Lady Jin) in place. Yanyu hadn't realized, as she hasn't been paying attention recently. Still, she was careful enough to not make any explicit pledges of loyalty to the King, so it's probably fine.
Master Zhou wonders if Lady Jin is embezzling the points, or planning to bring them all in at the very end to get extra credit. Perhaps they should Get Her!
Since Yanyu hasn't been paying as much attention recently, Cai Wen zips through a quick briefing: there's probably going to be another Treaty of Houses, and the Light and the Dark are likely going to be fighting there too. Reminder: Light is anarchy, cheating around rules. Dark is about rigorously enforcing rules. The Light is probably trying to encourage anarchy and revolution, while the Dark is more pro-oppression. The party has agreed to support Lady Jin for Queen in the next Treaty of Houses, in exchange for her support of Xiao Fa for Emperor. (See Fireflies#Briefings)
Before the group leaves the Harbor, Yanyu heads to a nice teahouse to see who might be talking about revolution. No one is talking about it openly, but there are a lot of whispers and worry and excitement. The higher ranking people are, the more worried, while the lower classes are more excited and hoping for a chance for the smaller houses. Maybe there will be a House of the People - that would be awesome! The nobles and lesser nobles are thinking more about which Great House is going to be pushing the button, and which ones are going to reap the rewards.
It seems that the answers (and Lady Jin) are likely to be found at the Prince's headquarters, so the party heads there. The guards at the door don't immediately recognize them, however, and ask their business. Another guard rushes out and apologizes.
- "They're new. Come in, sir."
A lot of the guards do seem unfamiliar. Hmm.
The party heads to the map room. Lady Jin has clearly been working there - there are sticky notes everywhere, and stacks of paper with paperweights on them. It's somewhat odd - it looks like multiple missions are in progress and they're being tracked all over the room. Some things that catch Cai Wen's eye:
- A map of the Foon/Siew keep
- Financial statements from the House of Ornamental Purity.
- A couple of treatises on necromancy.
- A couple of reports on mysteries of the deep.
- Biographical profiles of the twelve regents.
Shen-Ji looks at the necromancy books, intrigued. They seem to be mostly notes on making undead back into living people. How do you make a lich back into a sorcerer? How do you make a vampire back into a noble? (You can turn a vampire into a lich but then you have a lich...) Hmm. Is she trying to un-undead the horrible undead under Myo's crypt? The vampirism notes seem to be related to mission 6, as is the Foon/Siew keep map. Oh, right - the last time the party ran Mission 6, the House of Gainful Protection was opening a portal to the World After.
The Ornamental Purity financial statements are for mission 8, the Regent biographies are for mission 12, and the Mysteries of the Deep notes are for mission 2.
It's definitely puzzling what Lady Jin is up to, and why Mysteries of the Deep are involved with mission 2, but Cai Wen notes that he is still on the side of "We trust Lady Jin, and we know she has plans" rather than Master Zhou's "she's doing something we don't understand and should Get Her."
Well, perhaps the prince will be able to explain, if they can see them and not ask for a mission. When they head in, he looks surprised to see them.
- "I haven't seen you since... earlier this week."
Yanyu thinks the only reason he gestured them in and didn't stand up is because he's too exhausted to stand up.
Cai Wen explains that Lady Jin has been keeping him briefed, trying to reassure the Prince that they are still on the case while she was on the case, as it were. Yanyu signals Cai Wen in sign language that the prince is not well.
- "These weeks have been trying, but when the time comes I will be ready."
Are they here to report progress from Lady Jin? Cai Wen admits that he has not gotten the most recent updates from here, so he was hoping to find her here. The prince says that she has not been back for a couple of days. She left for the Dragon's Throne and was expected back yesterday, but has not returned.
Master Zhou uses Chi Diagnosis and worldsight on the Prince - what is going on spiritually? He is the spiritual fulcrum of a giant hammer, and though he is carefully keeping it out of the material world, he is siphoning it through himself and it is pounding his chi flat. He has a lot of structural reinforcement - as if someone buffed him in week 1 - but he's definitely getting towards the end. Master Zhou wonders if his doom is inevitable, and thinks that at some point the mechanic will execute and he won't survive it. If the mechanic ends before that, he'll recover and be a chi master. If it keeps going, it will grind him flat. However, Master Zhou could probably reinforce him again with some of his own chi - there are faint chi tendrils connecting him to the party as part of the mechanic. (People who aren't there can't have their chi tapped).
Master Zhou explains the ability to donate tao, to the others. It would essentially be held down and not available to use in runs, and it might return damaged or not at all, depending on how much damage the Prince takes in the meantime. Magpie / Crane / Dog aspected tao would be more efficient. Or Wolf / Agrinja. Or "in the party". Yanyu notes that she is the most efficient donator, as a combined Wolf / party person. However, maybe it would be best to donate after rescuing Lady Jin rather than before.
The group heads to the map room to think about the rescue mission some more. Yanyu comes up with facts about Lady Jin to verify:
Yanyu crosses out "possible" and circles the first and last facts. Do they need to roll a 12 to be sent to the Dragon's Throne? Madame Song enters, and suggests not. (She has been assisting Lady Jin in the not-rolling-a-seven mechanic). From what she has seen about the mechanic, she thinks rolling another 12 will instantiate another Precincts plot and it may not involve the Dragon's Throne. She can also make sure no sevens get rolled while they are gone.
Since the party has given the responsibility for rolling to Lady Jin, they should make sure she can take care of it. If they take the responsibility back, they have to go do her mission. At least, this is Madame Song's advice, based on what she has learned in the past few days.
The party heads off to pick up things from Tahiti, and then to the Dragon's Throne. At the entrance, they are asked by the guards if they are now or have ever been associated with the Cobalt Ghost? They say no, and are able to pass. (Cai Wen recalls that Precious Jade shut down any discussion of the Cobalt Ghost on a previous visit.)
They take rooms at the House of Silent Discretion in the Brass district, roll a d6, and note that there seems to be garlic on all the windows. Is it a Garlic Festival?
The Innkeeper at the House of Silent Discretion assures the party that his rooms are the safest in the whole district. However, for an additional charge, there are anti-vampire protections available as well. Of course, the rumors of vampire killings are just rumors and are undoubtedly not true, but some people like the protections anyway. The party purchases the whole anti-vampire package, which includes incense, as well as pieces of paper with a blessing against the undead to put on the doors. Master Zhou thinks the blessings likely do reduce the power of any vampires that come into contact with them, and Shen-Ji, intrigued, studies the blessings.
Fen-Xi has been promoted, and he and his wife live in the Gold District. The party heads that way to ask him for advice. When they enter the district, they roll a d6 and spot Ma Hunyin at the end of the street, just turning the corner. Cai Wen sends Dreamy to follow Hunyin, while the party follows the ferret, in order to keep a low profile. In this manner, they follow him to a different inn where they see Lady Jin emerge, passionately kiss Hunyin, and then head back into the inn. Huh.
Yanyu goes to investigate inside the inn. She finds out that Lady Jin is staying in the room next to her friend, but there is no connecting door, so it is proper. The staff thinks she (Lady Jin) is a bit odd -, not so refined in social graces - while Hunyin knows everything there is to know about high society in the way that only the recently rich do.
When Yanyu returns to report, she thinks that the most likely cause of this is a love potion. If it works the same way Yanyu's does, there would have to be a saucer of potion left outside in the sunlight somewhere, and if it could be found, it could be tipped out and the effect broken. But finding it could be tricky.
Cai Wen sends Squeaky to find out where Lady Jin and Hunyin are, and then Shen-Ji flies up to the window. (He files a surveillance report in order to add bureaucracy to his stealth roll). He sees the two of them, sitting at a table in Hunyin's room and eating a meal together. He casts detect magic, and determines that she has a ton of magic on her - but about half of it is hiding the fact that there's magic. He doesn't spot anything that looks like a love potion, though.
Master Zhou wonders if Lady Jin doesn't need the Prince now that the party has promised to make her Queen, and she's getting together with her old boyfriend? And shouldn't her Necklace of the True Heart prevent mind control, anyway? On the other hand, Hunyin did try to have her killed, and Yanyu's analysis was that she needs help.
Cai Wen leaves her a message inviting her to visit him at the House of Silent Discretion in Brass. The innkeeper says that she is currently disposed, but he will put the message by for her to pick up. Cai Wen contacts his Gold Beggar's Guild group and assigns them to keep a watch on Ma Hunyin, and then heads back to Brass.
Yanyu asks around to see what she can find out about the vampire rumors. Unlike the Silent Discretion innkeeper, Most people in Brass think that there are actual vampires. How do they know? Well, bodies are being found drained of blood and with puncture wounds in their neck. It's mostly women who are being hunted, and when Yanyu gets a description of the women, they sound somewhat like Lady Jin. However, the vampire rumors (or killings) do seem to be confined to the Brass District, and other districts seem to think that they are superstitions.
- "Brass is the only key the vampires could get." -Master Zhou
So... maybe Lady Jin is killing people with her finger-claws of death? It isn't clear why she would be, though. More importantly, Cai Wen realizes that maybe inviting Lady Jin to the district where vampires want to kill her is not the best of ideas, so he borrows the party gold key and goes back to the Gold inn. He learns that his message has already been delivered, but that the lady in question seems to have no intention of going to the Brass district. Well, okay then. Cai Wen writes another note: "Having had second thoughts about my previous invitation, I await you downstairs at this inn." The concierge is a little unclear whether meeting in the lobby is wise, but will deliver the note.
Meanwhile, Yanyu disguises herself like Lady Jin, and starts wandering through the dark alleys of the Brass District, followed at a distance by Shen-Ji and Master Zhou. Shen-Ji sends a note to Cai Wen via communicating paper: "Vampire hunting. Yanyu is bait." After some time wandering, Yanyu begins to be pursued by a shadowy figure.
- "Ooh! The plan worked! What was I thinking! This was a terrible idea!" -Yanyu, losing some actions to supernatural terror
The vampire mentally dominates Yanyu in the surprise round, but Master Zhou and Shen-Ji are close behind, and a paired chop and flamestrike turns it to ash. Master Zhou lays it to rest.
- "Found vampire, sank same."
Meanwhile, Cai Wen gets a reply via the concierge, inviting him to meet Lady Jin at the Elegant Springs Noodle Hall. On the way there, one of the Gold Beggars whispers to him that Ma Hunyin is being left behind now, but he has been ineptly trying to get in touch with the local illegal underground. He's not very good at it but they expect him to figure it out soon.
Cai Wen is shown to the back room of the noodle house, and Lady Jin joins him shortly afterwards. There is a silk rope to pull if they would like to consider the menu, but otherwise no one will disturb them.
An odd and awkward conversation ensues, in which Cai Wen tries to find out what Lady Jin is up to, and Lady Jin indicates that Ma Hunyin seems likely to propose soon, though perhaps if there is a better offer in the cards... she winks at Cai Wen suggestively.
- "I'm talking to fricking Coyote!" -Cai Wen
She offers to share a bowl of sweet noodles with Cai Wen, and throws a seduction roll in as well, which Cai Wen defends against by being unimpressed socially. Asking some more questions, he begins to think that while this may not be Lady Jin herself, it is someone who has a lot of KS:Lady Jin, so knows a lot of things that Lady Jin is supposed to know.
- "You're the one who proposed this secret assignation. I don't think you're doing it right." -Lady Jin
- "Perhaps not. If you explain the situation more clearly I'll know what to do." -Cai Wen
He tries to get her to admit who she really is, but that just causes her to act offended and start to storm out. With his parting shot, he asks if she brought the vampires, but she just looks at him in bafflement and then leaves.
Cai Wen sits down again and pulls the rope to order some noodles, and the noodle house brings him the perfect meal for a jilted lover.
After these shenanigans, the party gets back together, and then heads to Fen-Xi's house. Yanyu thinks that it is important to break up the match somehow, before anything is officially announced. Whether this is really Lady Jin somehow mind-wiped, or an imposter, announcing her engagement will be a problem for her either way once she is rescued.
Fen-Xi is pleased to see the group but concerned as to their needs, as he has been summoned home on a matter of great urgency. They brief him on the situation, to the extent that they understand it, which is... indeterminate. He is apologetic that his rates are now 25 li a day (as a fifth-level bureaucrat) but he has always been worth the price before. The party tells him that his first priority is to find the actual Lady Jin, if she is in the Dragon's Throne, and to investigate the possible imposter staying in the Gold District. Oh, also, Yanyu disguised herself as Lady Jin in the Brass district, so don't be distracted by that one. Fen-Xi bows and heads off, to see what he can find out.
After that, everyone puts their heads together to see what they can do to avert an engagement announcement. Could something unlucky turn up? A death in the family? A bunch of women who looked like Lady Jin dying? Anything that will convince Ma Hunyin that this is an unlucky death-auspected day.
Yanyu goes to the inn and talks to the concierge, introducing herself as Lady Jin's matchmaker. She succeeds in bamboozling the concierge into sending her up, and Lady Jin turns out to be just as easily bamboozled. Since Yanyu isn't Lady Jin's matchmaker, that puts a tally on the side of "imposter". Yanyu asks for Lady Jin's birthday, and then draws up a horoscope:
Fen-Xi returns, having tracked down several things.. There do appear to be two of her. One is staying in Gold and has a "nearly perfectly forged signature". The other one has a non-forged signature and is signing passes left and right whooshing around the city. Interesting. For the second one, where is she staying at night? Fen-Xi thinks she doesn't have a home base - she's running around the city, and staying in whatever district she ends the night. She's changing districts enough that possibly watching the gates will turn her up.
Cai Wen instantiates Lady Jin's local scoreboard.
Perhaps Cai Wen can get the Copper Moneylenders to watch for her? The party (except for Yanyu, who is lying in wait at the inn for Ma Hunyin) heads to the Copper District, and rolls a d6. Cai Wen realizes that this is a third time a d6 has been rolled on entering a district, and thinks about it with True Minigames. He realizes that every time they enter a district it instantiates a mission and a plot. So encountering a 6 might encounter Lady Jin?
They roll the d6 again, trying to not roll a 1 or a 3. Cai Wen rolls a 1, which is already taken, so he chooses 6. Then, when he asks the Copper Moneylenders if they can locate Lady Jin, they point out that she was just here five minutes ago. In fact, there she is threatening a frightened looking woman.
- "WHO OWNS THIS BUILDING?"
- "I don't know! I rent!"
- "WHO DO YOU PAY YOUR RENT TO?"
Cai Wen goes over, and she is definitely glad to see them. She says she's so close. She just needs to find out who owns this building, and that will tell her who the brother is and then she'll have it all figured out. She looks pretty tired / haggard / worn thin. Master Zhou looks at her with Worldsight, and gets a tiny hint of the World After about her aura.
- "We are here to help, but there are six missions in this city and you are doing the "trap" mission." -Cai Wen
- "Yes, I know. I'm almost there and then I'll come out the other side." -Lady Jin
A quick chi diagnosis indicates that she is slowly pulling her chi apart, but there aren't any outside influences doing it for her. Cai Wen does his best to talk her out of it, but she is wearing the Amulet of the True Heart and he finds that he is unable to talk her away from her goal.
- "But if you can find out who owns the building, we'll find out who forged the birth certificate and we'll find out who his brother's wife is!"
- "Who is he?"
- "The Cobalt Ghost! He's actually three ghosts, with this complicated backstory..."
Master Zhou resorts to the simplified solution, and (having given Shen-Ji his bracers) hits her with a clue by four. For a moment, she looks as if she may go on again about the Cobalt Ghost, but then she puts her hand to her head.
- "Ow! Ow, my head. Oh, my goodness."
Master Zhou explains: she came here to get favors from the Regents, but was trapped by the Cobalt Ghost. Also, does she know anything about vampires? Yes! She had been looking for ... hey, the puncture wounds have faded! Master Zhou notes that they killed the vampire, so that probably helped.
So, what about the Mysteries of the Deep, then? Oh, that would be Ma Hunyin. Lady Jin notes that his father has been putting him through the paces. But then, apparently he went fishing and when he came back, he ran away from home to the Dragon's Throne. Something happened to him at sea, and she has it narrowed down to a sea serpent or a talking fish.
- "Good news, we know where he is. Bad news, there's someone impersonating you who is about to be proposed to."
Speaking of proposed to, the happy suitor arrives at the inn, where Yanyu pounces on him. She explains that she is Lady Jin's matchmaker, and was hired a few months ago on retainer. Hunyin is initially suspicious that Lady Jin would have sent for her matchmaker, but she explains that she had a premonition and came on her own. That seems to make more sense to him.
Yanyu explains that there is something odd in Lady Jin's horoscope, but Hunyin waves that aside, and says that they should worry about his horoscope. Yanyu notes that his aspect is Tiger and his horoscope:
Yanyu warns him that today is a particularly inauspicious day - it's the anniversary of the death of an important ancestor of his. The day after tomorrow should be perfect, though . Hunyin grumbles about having to rearrange dinner, but will do so.
Meanwhile, the party, plus Lady Jin, have returned to the House of Silent Discretion. Lady Jin wants to know why Cai Wen brought a matchmaker here, but he explains that Yanyu is part of the House of Exuberance Interference. She gets a faraway look as if a few puzzle pieces are being fit together behind her eyes, and when pressed to explain, says "Cloth and Wine." Yes, exactly.
So... what has been going on with the missions? Why have they not scored any points? Lady Jin isn't sure - they all seem to have gone well, but there was always a niggling detail at the end that needed to be cleared up. First, she was trying to figure out how to deal with being injured by the vampire. Then, she was dealing with the House of the South Wind, and she had solved the plot with the father and the eldest brother but while she was there Hunyin went out to sea and ran away. It was all like that.
Cai Wen tries to diagnose if it's a problem with the mechanic or with her or she doesn't like that they aren't fully resolved or she's trying to earn extra credit or what. All he can determine is that there is something going on with her that is preventing her from *finishing* the mechanic pieces, some sort of outside interference. Master Zhou doesn't think it's a spirit effect. Shen-Ji, on the other hand, detects magic, and concludes that she has been cursed, like an old style Takanata curse. But the party seems to be able to conclude the missions, given that they took out the vampire, so perhaps they should start working the most recent mission. That would be the mysteries of the deep, and the "siren". Well, Shen-Ji doesn't think it's a siren, as she hasn't eaten Hunyin yet. Maybe it is a sea serpent, as they are able to look human. So. What to do? Should we just blitz in and kill her? Or hit her with dispel magic?
The group sweeps up to the Gold inn, with the real Lady Jin swathed in a big cloak. They knock on the room door, and "Lady Jin" answers the door. Yanyu distracts her by babbling about the inauspicious day, and Shen-Ji hits her with a huge dispel magic.
- "You think your powers are going to... wait, what does being in Gold have to do with it?"
The imposter Lady Jin turns into a fish, and flops to the floor. The fish cries out for help and to get water, and Shen-Ji and Yanyu, both unable to resist its influence, head off to search for water.
- "No! My lady!" -Hunyin
Hunyin drops to his knees by the fish.
Master Zhou takes a look at the talking fish with Worldsight, and discovers that long long ago, the talking fish were emissaries/fixers for Whale, but they were corrupted by Phoenix when the Cycle shifted. Interesting, but not necessarily relevant for the current plot.
Master Zhou tells the fish that they will find it water if it promises to leave. A combination of intimidation and bargaining induce it to take the deal. It is dropped in some used noodle water (it protests vociferously, but once it is in the water its powers of persuasion are a little less strong) and, having no obviously better option, they throw it in the Pearl River.
All the plots seem to be able to be concluded by doing a single thing, at least.
Next, they head to the Bronze District, where Cai Wen starts to roll a 6. Lady Jin looks ready to explain something, but he cheats it down to a 5.
Master Zhou makes an int roll with recurring NPCs, and identifies that the guy behind that restaurant, looking in the trash, is actually the Regent for the Illuminated Precincts. Huh. Lady Jin says that the Regent offered her a favor if she could find out who the brother's wife was. Of course, she could probably just figure that out if... Everyone jumps on her and derails her from the Cobalt Ghost plot again. It looks like if you're by yourself, though, you can get stuck in it pretty easily.
The regent seems to be sorting chopsticks from the trash, and when Lady Jin interrupts him, he starts to explain.
- "This is the chopstick they used at the cursed dinner! I almost have it! Now that I can find out who was at the dinner, I can figure out what happened to the lost daughter!" -Regent
- "Intriguing... I didn't even know there was a daughter." -Lady Jin
Master Zhou hits the regent with a clue-by-four too.
- "How incredibly devious. It is artistic, and yet..."
Then, he bows to Lady Jin.
- "I owe you a debt, my lady."
Yanyu agrees that the party will escort him home again. That's in Ivory, and it's the Regent's key, so he rolls.
Once they enter Ivory, Cai Wen recognizes the Enforcer, ducking around a corner. Yanyu escorts the regent home, while everyone else heads off to follow the Enforcer.
Lady Jin briefs them on this plot: the House of Beneficent Travel does not specialize in elite troops and those that they have, she has been burning through over the past few... days. She rolled another mission that required a strike force, so she had to hire out. The Enforcer was training troops for Ornamental Purity, so she invested there. The mission in the north was dealt with, but her investments did not go so well. Her contracts in the Dragon's Throne are being held up, so the Enforcer can't get paid, and is very unhappy with Lady Jin. Lady Jin came here to clear up the contracts, and the Enforcer probably followed to make sure it got dealt with.
This seems to have to do with the Ivory Tailors Consortium, so the party thinks perhaps Bian Mei-Ling can help. They head to Bian Manor, where Mei-Ling is visiting - though she looks quite betrayed when she sees who Cai Wen has brought to the door.
A message from Fen-Xi catches up with Cai Wen at this point - he has determined that Ma Hunyin was with the fake Lady Jin, arrived in the Gold District a few days ago, and has not left since. Ah, that plot probably doesn't need Fen-Xi's services any longer, so they put him on investigating the Ivory Tailors.
In the meantime, Master Zhou and Mei-Ling discuss the use of yellow silk, though Mei-Lin isn't as strictly punchy as the disciplines of that art. There is also Lord Te's wedding, which was announced a week ago.
The discussion is briefly interrupted when a few house guards come in and ask everyone to stay where they are. There is a minor security matter and it will be dealt with shortly. Mei-Ling asks for more details, and is told that someone has penetrated the outer defenses. However, not long after that, there is another knock announcing that everything is under control. The intruders were driven off.
Fen-Xi determines that the hold is due to an illumineacratic hold, and Cai Wen finally spots the Tailors in the Magpie Regent's structure. So... the House of Benevolent Oversight is suspicious of Lady Jin hooking up with some elite military forces in multiple houses? It probably isn't the Prince who is suspicious, but it could well be the King. So perhaps this is related to whatever was going on at the beginning of the run.
Perhaps this can be sorted out if Cai Wen goes to talk to the Magpie Regent and gives him a vote back, and explains that this is holding up points in the war mechanic...? The party heads that way to call on the Arcade Regent. The Lord of the House of Exuberant Interference wearing the Butterfly Talisman can get a meeting pretty quickly. The Regent is deep in the King's confidence, so he understands the existence of the Mechanic.
Cai Wen and the Regent fence back and forth a bit under the guise of deniability. The Regent thinks that there is a good reason for the hold, and that he is not entirely convinced that the House of Beneficent Travel is as well allied to the throne as they could be (he believes there is some compelling evidence supporting this). So he is not thrilled about tossing large donations to their war chest, and wants to keep the pressure on them. But he also understands the need to score points in the Mechanic.
After some more back and forth, he agrees to let up the hold in exchange for three rolls to be made out of Cai Wen's illumineaucracy power structure.
- "Always good to do business with someone who knows how business is done."