The Real Inspector Fu
|"It is good to strike the serpent's head with your enemy's hand."|| The run begins on the Day of the Early Tiger in the Month of the Tortoise in the eighth Year of the Spider since the thirty-fourth Great Northern Invasion.|
The run takes place in and around the Stone Drum, capital of the Qin Chao Steppes.
Now that everyone has returned from their longer puttering journeys, Ringmaster Te gathers the party together for an announcement. He notes that the last performance was a little rough, but some tension got sorted out, so it should be good now, and as the Circus has earned the favor of the First Servant, it will be putting on a full tent show in the Stone Drum, the largest performance the Silken Wings Circus has given there yet. Getting the elephants up into the Drum itself will require cranes and winches, so the performance is scheduled for two days hence. In the meantime, he needs volunteers to help get the elephants up - who wants to be up top, who wants to accompany the elephant on the winching platform, and who wants to be underneath holding steady? Zhi-Hao, sensing which places have more peril, immediately volunteers for "up top", and Anto agrees to ride with the elephants, as he can try to keep them calm. That leaves Xian to stand underneath, hoping nothing goes wrong.
- "Like a spokesman in a Crazy Glue commercial..." -Cael
There's a brief emergency with the elephant slipping and emitting some dung, which Xian manages to dodge. As winching elephants is simply not his job, Takanata watches, amused, and spots a messenger for Ringmaster Te arrive during the work: a party of ten (including Ringmaster Te and Gipeno) is invited to a formal dinner and reception, with important guests, for the following evening.
Cai Wen has managed to avoid the whole elephant issue by taking Xiao Fa out to a local Flower House, for dancing girls and entertainment, on the theory that that will help Xiao Fa's tao heal. The place is something more of a fortification than the flower houses that Cai Wen is used to, but Xiao Fa enjoys himself and has a nice massage. The only rumors of particular interest at the flower house involve Yue Ping, who was supposed to be dead but isn't.
Merit points out to everyone, in case they missed it, that Ringmaster Te is marked for death by the Marked.
Takanata writes a poem:
Min Feng, trooping around the capital, overhears that the great Inspector Fu is in town and will be at the dinner, which terrifies everyone, once she repeats it. Cai Wen boggles - Inspector Fu is real? Well, it would have been hard to have a terrifying reputation if it wasn't a real terrifying person, Merit points out.
Making a general pass through the party's enemies, Min Feng wonders where Ezokin is (moving quickly northwards from the Harbor towards the Port of Propitious Voyage), and Takanata wonders if it's worth searching the city for a black horse with a white fetlock. Anto looks for people stalking Ringmaster Te, but doesn't spot anyone, though there is now a rumor that people are looking for antidotes to poisons. That startles people, until it becomes clear that it's mostly circus people looking for antidotes, as the ever-efficient circus rumor mill has Takanata's poem mentioning poison.
Min Feng asks around to try to determine who else will be at the party - the guest list includes:
- Ringmaster Te and entourage
- the First Servant and royal family (two wives, one daughter, two sons)
- The Minister of Arts and his wife
- The Commander of the Qin Chao levies and her husband.
- Inspector Fu and his two assistants.
Xiao Fa makes some excuses to Ringmaster Te - he has obligations laid on him by Master Zhou on the Day of the Tortoise. Ringmaster Te gives him permission to slip out halfway through the dancing, but he has to attend the dinner. Takanata sends a letter to the Minister of the Arts introducing himself, and expressing a hope to see him at the party. Merit wonders who among the Marked is in town, realizes that the one the group still calls Machan Li is likely around, but who knows who he is covered as. Ringmaster Te arranges for everyone attending the dinner to stay up in one of the better inns, so they’ll be well-rested come the formal occasion, and people turn in for the night.
The Morning After
People begin to wake up in the inn, somewhat the worse for wear. Anto and Zhi-Hao feel rather sore, as if they've been in a fight, and Zhi-Hao's sword is missing. Cai Wen finds himself in the arms of a young woman who he doesn't recognize - she doesn't recognize him either, and is rather upset. Everyone gets three memory packets.
Zhi-Hao asks Merit to investigate his room, worried that he had a fight in the middle of the night that he can't remember. His room seems clean enough, though. Anto, with more paranoid instincts, heads downstairs to ask the innkeeper what day it is, and learns that it's the Day of the Late Monkey. Sure enough, they're missing a day, the Day of the Tortoise, and possibly missed the party. Both Zhi-Hao and Anto have wounds that appear to have been patched up by Xiao Fa; in addition to Zhi-Hao's sword, other weapons are missing - Anto's kusarigama, Takanata's sword, and some of Min Feng's arrows have gone missing. Cai Wen's exploding sword cane is in pieces, and Merit's hidden weapons have all been very carefully cleaned. Takanata does find a letter from the Minister of Arts, looking forward to seeing him at the party.
Merit wakes Ringmaster Te, who is aghast at the idea that they all slept through the party, and then even more aghast at the idea that he didn't sleep through the party, but it went so horribly awry that no one can remember it.
Some whistles are heard outside, as if summoning guards to the palace.
Cai Wen vaguely remembers that someone did get poisoned last night. Xiao Fa notes that he has a particularly painful hangover, which seems unfair, given that he can't remember having any fun - not to mention he missed his Tortoise day all-night vigil. Merit gloats that if the party isn't going to be memorable, he's glad that Xiao Fa is the one with the hangover, not him.
Takanata, worried about poisons, asks Xiao Fa to check Ringmaster Te's vitals - Xiao Fa thinks he has been poisoned with a very mild incontinence poison, and then dosed with the antidote for it, so he's pretty much fine. Xiao Fa, reminded of poisons, remembers Junjie fighting to live, but dying because of an anti-healing poision. He doesn't remember who Junjie is, though, which makes it tricky - Zhenzhun notes that Junjie was one of Inspector Fu's assistants.
Crowds start to gather outside the palace, muttering. Rumor has it that someone has been murdered. Or possibly mauled by a bear. Min Feng does her best to sort out the more trustworthy rumors - the main one seems to be that Inspector Fu's assistant Junjie was slain, and that Inspector Fu is demanding justice. A small group of soldiers leaves the palace heading for the party's inn, so Merit, Zhi-Hao, and Xiao Fa head back that way to meet Ringmaster Te and Gipeno and be picked up by the soldiers. Merit issues instructions to meet at a tea house at noon and teatime and dinnertime, if people can. The soldiers ask after the missing party members; Merit says they went out after breakfast.
A horn sounds, summoning servants back to the palace, so Zhenzhen has to go. Cai Wen heads to the palace with her, on the theory that she might get a briefing.
The guards bringing the first set of party members in apologize politely, but say that they must be questioned. Inspector Fu's assistant Junjie was killed shortly after the party, and the people who were at the party are the ones who had the most opportunity. Inspector Fu is postponing all other business until this matter is resolved, and though the guard captain is sure everyone is innocent, there must be questions asked. A fancy messenger tracks Takanata down at the tea house, and brings him to the VIP interrogation area.
Min Feng and Xian disguise themselves as servants, and trundle around the outer areas of the palace, listening for rumors. At this point, all the rumors are about the murder, and very few people are mentioning the party - supposedly a priest got drunk, but that pales in comparison to murder. They poke around the kitchen, and find several expensive teapots, broken and hidden in the trash to be taken out; they take them out of the palace and hide them elsewhere.
Cai Wen determines that the less a servant had to do with the party, the more they remember about the previous night, and tries to find out if any of his exploits made it all the way to the non-party servants. Apparently he did pretty well in the urbanity mechanic, but burned his favor with one of the castellan's assistants. Anto sneaks in, also disguised as a servant, and links up with him, and they investigate the main hall where the party was. It does look like there was a party, but there are no obvious signs of a combat (or a fireball, or anything like that).
Takanata, who with the Butterfly Talisman is higher-status than even the First Servant, is shown into a VIP interrogation room with Inspector Fu and the First Servant. Inspector Fu is even reasonably polite, and the First Servant is apologetic, but there are a few questions to be asked. Does Lord Takanata have any recollections of the party? He admits that he has only a few, and they are thin, but that he has a suspicion why. Inspector Fu looks thrilled at the idea that Takanata knows why everyone has forgotten things. Takanata explains that the incidents were hidden by a gentleman named Li the Wanderer. Inspector Fu thinks that this is a remarkably specific allegation, but Takanata says that his memory has been tampered with several times by such a person. He also notes that if there is anyone who was at the party whose memories were not tampered with, he might be able to determine that. Fu will keep that in mind, and the interview is done (though the Empire would like that Lord Takanata remain in the Stone Drum until the investigation is concluded).
Xiao Fa is the first non-VIP to be interrogated - he doesn't remember much, but he does remember trying to heal a gentleman suffering from grievous wounds and poison. He doesn't remember who delivered the wounds, though. Possibly a poisoned blade was involved. Inspector Fu writes Xiao Fa's name on a blank sheet, and cautions him to not leave town. Zhi-Hao is next - he remembers seeing Junjie on the dance floor, and noted that he had a knife in his boot. As a weapons master, he notices this sort of thing. Inspector Fu asks to see Zhi-Hao's sword, and Zhi-Hao gives him his spare, which is in fine condition and has no clues on it. Merit is next, and enthuses about this being a classic closed room mystery - he lures Inspector Fu into gloating that his mind can pierce through lies (multiple shticks) and that his mind is a Steel Trap and he (usually) never forgets anything. Plus he can make someone's life miserable, once a run. He is actually quite cross about having forgotten the recent events. Merit does his best to leave Inspector Fu with a good impression, combining detective and grovelling, though he notes that Fu is particularly irritated at the monkeys that people are carrying around. Xian and Min Feng sneak into the interrogation waiting room, and Min Feng gets herself interrogated, though she doesn't remember much interesting yet.
Cai Wen asks if there is anything like a lost and found from the party. Zhenzhen shows him the evidence that has been collected so far - some jugs and bottles that showed signs of poison. There were also some unclaimed weapons left with the weapons girls. (Stone Drum has a policy of "no carrying weapons at formal events or in front of the king", but has a number of young girls tasked with keeping people's weapons close by in case zombies or Northerners attack and defense is needed.)
Putting Clues Together
The party gathers at the tea house for their noon meeting - Merit notices that there's a spy following Xiao Fa, someone who was eavesdropping on things last night. He probably works for the First Servant. Xian brings in the box of broken teapots (disguised under some fruit), and Xiao Fa examines them for poisons and herbals. One of the teapots was poisoned with the previously-mentioned poison of incontinence, and one has a poison likely to cause loss of inhibitions. Some of the other broken shards have a more magical potion that Xiao Fa can't identify. Merit thinks that the first two are likely to have been some sort of distraction, and Xiao Fa thinks his headache is from the inhibition-loss drug. The spy is invited in to show all the poisoned teapots to, and the explanation seems to be that Xiao Fa intentionally poisoned Ringmaster Te but then cured him, and someone else poisoned Xiao Fa. Or something like that.
They quiz the spy to see if he knows anything useful about the party - the only other thing of note he has is that it rained last night until about midnight. Everyone runs back to check their clothes at the inn - it appears that everyone who is missing their weapon is also missing their party clothes. There are also guards at the inn, looking for the "fugitives" Anto and Cai Wen, who end up turning themselves in to the spy to go and be questioned.
Merit asks the innkeeper when everyone got in last night - Gipeno and Ringmaster Te came back earlier, but the other circus people came in pretty late. Merit asked for a bathtub at about midnight. People were wearing cloaks because of the rain, so he didn't notice what they were wearing underneath. Merit checks the cloaks, but none of them have blood on them.
Xiao Fa gets a note asking him to meet behind the palace, ten minutes after the afternoon bell, signed "M", much to everyone's confusion. He goes to meet whoever it was, and finds that it's Inspector Fu's other assistant (the one who has been taking notes in the interrogations), Meizhen, and she seems to be rather smitten with Xiao Fa.
- "It's raining molls, hallelujah!" -Cai Wen
- "I guess we know where the love potion went." -Xian
There is a joyful, if somewhat confused, reunion.
- "It's, um, good to see you again." -Xiao Fa
- "Is it? Do you remember? My memories are hazy." -Meizhen
- "What do you remember?" -Xiao Fa
- "I just remember you!"
Inspector Fu hasn't interrogated her; as an assistant of his, she is presumed to not know much.
Takanata does a connections reading, to try to figure out what's going on. One important bit there suggests that it is important to not let Inspector Fu know who killed Machan Li.
Merit buys some backup weapons for everyone, and asks the local thugs if they've seen him before - no, not particularly, though one of them notes that a cousin of his says he was wandering around before asking about who was in town.
Min Feng brings the teapot box to show to Inspector Fu, carrying a couple of monkeys with her. (Unfortunately for her, her memory packet warns her that Inspector Fu seems suspicious of the monkeys.) He glares at them, and makes a note, but does not appear to be investigating monkeys at this time - he tells Meizhen to remind him later, when he has time. He asks Min Feng if she hid the box in the kitchen, and she answers "no" without even thinking about it first. She also lets him know that Xiao Fa is the party's poison expert, in case Inspector Fu has any questions about poisons.
Cai Wen wonders what the hidden risks are - mainly, that it seems likely that someone is going to go down for killing Inspector Fu's aide, and the party does seem to be good targets - learning what really happened will not necessarily stop Inspector Fu from destroying someone. He goes in to be interrogated, and volunteers that some of his friends have missing weapons, and that his own exploding sword-cane appears to have been used last night. Fu finds this all very interesting, and takes the sword-cane to investigate and compare with the body.
Anto volunteers for interrogation as well, and mentions the poisoned tea. He suggests talking to Xiao Fa, as he is an accomplished herbalist. Inspector Fu frowns - if Xiao Fa offered Anto something to drink, would he just drink it? Anto claims yes - Xiao Fa is extremely trustworthy. Are they long associates, with many joint ventures? Well, yes. Inspector Fu tries to clarify whether Xiao Fa is in fact an agent of the circus as he appears to be a priest, not a performer. Anto can't quite remember Xiao Fa's act, but says he shovels elephant dung and things like that. Inspector Fu restates: he took menial labor with the circus in exchange for their protection during travel, in order to come to Stone Drum? Anto can't quite argue with that, though it sounds suspicious.
The party gets back together for tea, to discuss.
- "We're going to need another Xiao Fa." -Xian
After spending the morning struggling with memories, people are beginning to remember a little more - at least, enough to start trying to intentionally trigger memory packets. Anto and Zhi-Hao spar, and remember some particularly important details, like fighting with Junjie (that is, Machan Li) and Zhi-Hao stabbing him. Merit checks if Gipeno and Ringmaster Te have returning memories - they do, though Gipeno really doesn't want to talk about his. Merit leans on him, and finds out that he exchanged some significant risque moments with Yue Ping (the princess).
Takanata, Min Feng, and Zhi-Hao head back to the palace, trying to arrange some conversations and eavesdroppings and so on to open more memory packets. Ostensibly, this is so Takanata can examine people's chi to see who might remember more. Zhi-Hao talks with Yue Guan, the younger son - he thinks his brother, Yue Feng, probably remembers more. They were talking last night about Zhi-Hao's vast sword prowess. Yue Feng does sort of think a murder in the palace is cool, though of course, not good.
Merit checks his supply cache - as he suspected, the blood-stained clothes and suspicious blood-covered weapons are hidden there.
A squad of royal guards shows up to ask Xiao Fa to come with them - he's brought to the palace, and Inspector Fu asks Takanata to check his chi and that of others. More guards are dispatched to bring in some of the other questionees - Anto, Cai Wen, Zhenzhen, and Min Feng. Takanata plays up his Eyes of the I Ching special effects, and looks at everyone. As expected, everyone is missing a bit of memory, but Inspector Fu's chi is more ravaged - his chi clearly fought back against the effect in a way that no one else's did, and the epic fallout from that battle is scattered around, in the form of memory packets. Takanata explains, and Inspector Fu looks grumpily pleased. Takanata also points out to Inspector Fu that the name he mentioned before was one for which he had to consult diviners more skilled than himself, and that more use of it might draw the attention of the gentleman in question.
Everyone who is not Xiao Fa is free to go; Xiao Fa is asked to stay behind to Assist In Enquiries. Min Feng overhears Inspector Fu warning the guards:
- "I'm going to go in and talk to the prisoner. If I come out and forget to say the word Tortoise, kill him immediately."
Inspector Fu hits Xiao Fa with a question: "Are you Li the Wanderer?" but the answer is no. He accuses Xiao Fa of having wheedled his way into the circus in order to get past the Stone Drum security, and then poisoned his friends as a distraction so that they didn't notice while he slipped off and killed Junjie. Xiao Fa does not confess, and the evidence is mostly circumstantial, though he does admit to recalling Junjie having died in his arms.
Takanata writes a note to Yuan Howin, (the Steppes army commander) in which he admits that he doesn't remember their previous conversation (something he has a memory fragment about). Her husband Yuan Shao shows up to chat - is Takanata working with Inspector Fu? Currently, Yuan Howin is unable to arrange for a conversation with the Inspector, and they are hoping that the high-status Takanata might be able to arrange it. Takanata wonders what sort of conversation they are hoping to have - Yuan Shao says that it is regarding deep corruption in the Dragon Army hierarchy. The Qin Chao Steppes end up dealing with both the west and east commands of the North Wall, and the difficulties lie in the east - there seems to be a vast conspiracy in place to hide the fact that the undead are rising. Takanata thinks it may just be an official policy to not call them undead - not that Yuan Shao finds that any less appalling or less indicative of a conspiracy. Anyway, as Inspector Fu is a general Imperial Inspector of the first rank, he can look into almost anything - if he decides to. They are hoping that he might look into this.
Cai Wen asks Zhenzhen about Junjie's actual body - has someone examined it? No, it's not in the pile of stuff labeled "evidence", but the royal doctor has looked at it. Zhenzhen has a master key (which seems to actually be a key that she shows the guards to go through doors), but getting a meeting with the doctor isn't something she can do. She can let Merit, Min Feng, and Cai Wen in to look at the body, though. Alas, Merit doesn't have forensic medicine (Xiao Fa does), but he does his best. There are deep sword wounds (and a few shallow ones), arrow marks, and marks of a chain wrapping him up; a poison seems to be in the deep sword strikes in particular. The body has a spider tattoo, but it is strangely faded, and it does appear to be the same guy (under a good disguise) as the party has been calling Machan Li. Cai Wen remembers trying to ambush Junjie now, so he's in the group with Zhi-Hao and Anto of "needs to never talk to Inspector Fu again".
The group wonders if there are any skinless bodies found in Stone Drum recently (no). How about a horse with a white fetlock? On the other hand, is anyone actually doubting that Junjie is Machan Li? Do they need to find the horse to confirm? Well, it is a really nice horse... maybe they can get it?
- "Hold on a minute, we can't just go looting Machan Li's horse before Xiao Fa is exonerated! That just looks like motive, like we killed him for his horse. Okay, it would be nice to use in the horse act, sure, but..." -Merit
The group troops to the stables - sure enough, there is a black horse with a white fetlock. Merit tries to make friends with it, and it does seem oddly friendly to him. The horse's saddlebags (which are trapped, but not a problem for Merit) have samples of the three non-blade poisons, and an empty potion vial. The horse is in the stable next to Inspector Fu's horse, so it's probably believed to be Junjie's horse.
Since they're there, they check Inspector Fu's saddlebags too - there are files on his sporadic but continuing search for the people who impersonated him. "Monkey" is underlined. It does seem that he only works on this when he's not scheduled to do something else, so Min Feng copies his schedule.
Takanata writes a note to Fu suggesting that the murder might have been caused in order to disrupt Inspector Fu's schedule - he offers to look for connections between Fu and others to see if that might be a reason.
Liu Bei (Minister for the Arts) arrives for his meeting with Takanata, and thanks him for the gift Takanata offered his wife last night - reading her I Ching. That is apparently the only thing she remembers from the party, and finds it inspirational: that her hard work will pay off. Takanata wonders what's up with the spouses doing all the work here, anyway.
Back at the investigation, there's still the one set of (completely non-descript) weapons that was left unclaimed with the weapons girls. There's no record of who left them - which is itself somewhat odd, though they must have arrived with a party guest. Were they Junjie's? No, he had weapons, but they were in his name, and he claimed them when he left. Perhaps they belonged to Li the Wanderer! The sword check girl who was in charge of Zhi-Hao's sword, in particular, is at home ill - everyone jumps to the conclusion that she's a skinwalker.
The group troops there, to ask after her. Her parents say that she came in last night after the party, and went to bed; when she awoke, she was very confused, and had forgotten several days. She doesn't seem to have any memory packets, and is still very muddled.
Oh, and Merit finds a compass in his pocket, which points to the black horse. It's from Q Division, which has investigated the monocle. Maybe that's how the party planned to follow Junjie if he had escaped the ambush.
- "Hmm. Is there anyone else we can actually pin this on? Other than Li the Wanderer?"
- "The problem with this is really that we just did it."
Guards ask Xiao Fa if there is anything special he would like for dinner - he says no, but does wish to hold a nightlong vigil and build a fire. They think that's honorable, and take him to the very top of the Stone Drum to build his fire for the night.
In the morning, first thing will be the trial - Inspector Fu will speak for the prosecution, Xiao Fa may have someone speak in his defense, and then the First Servant will pass judgement.
Junjie's room is quickly searched - there's one hidden thing, a list of names, including Merit, the palace spy, and four or five other names. Merit suspects that those are the other spies in town - not really very helpful. He was killed in the rear courtyard behind the palace.
Xian volunteers to speak on Xiao Fa's behalf; he thinks that he can spin a mostly-true story that will cover lots of exonerating details. Merit advises against saying anything explicitly not true, since Inspector Fu has many shticks, and the First Servant probably has a few shticks that make the "both sides speak" mechanic not too broken. Also, this isn't the sort of mechanic where you bring in surprise evidence to throw on the table - it's basically just talking.
Takanata ponders a crossroads: if they say that Machan Li was a bad guy in disguise working with Li the Wanderer, and was the guy poisoning people such that then party-goers took him out, will that sway Inspector Fu if they talk to him before the trial? Will it sway the King? Spending some karma for better details, Takanata thinks that Inspector Fu won't really care that his assistant was a spy - heck, a lot of his assistants are probably spies, that's what being an Imperial Bureaucrat means. The more evidence they give Fu before the trial, the more likely he'll be to figure out who it really was, and that might be harder to defend against. If the First Servant really does have shticks in justice, then making the case against Xiao Fa might actually be the right thing, because it's not all that good a case.
Xian turns himself in to the guards, though not before giving them enough of a hard time that they threaten him a little so he can open another memory packet. He also offers to read Inspector Fu's I Ching, but Inspector Fu does not have time for foolish circus magic today, and has shticks defending him from things not on his schedule. Oooh.
Min Feng also arranges to bump into Inspector Fu, carrying more monkeys, so that she can explain that she's training with the monkey trainer (on the theory that then there's an explanation, not just Suspicious Monkeys).
Takanata (who won't be status 20) and Zhi-Hao (as the actual probably-guilty party) skip the trial, out of general caution, and it begins. Again, weapons are checked with the sword-girls in case of zombie attacks, and Xian thinks the First Servant is planning to try to judge fairly.
Inspector Fu gets up and tells a tale of a priest who hired on to do menial labor to get the circus to bring him here, for his own nefarious reasons. He went so far as to poison his own comrades, before striking down Junjie. It will probably never be known what caused him to do this - who can explain the actions of a madman? Cai Wen throws in a "no luck for you" on his final oratory roll, so it's not as good as he was expecting.
Xian launches into his version of the tale. Inspector Fu, thorough though he was, did not include all the details, so Xian adds some more, like Junjie being in disguise, and that the poisons everyone agrees were circulating at the party, were found in his personal effects.
- "I know Xiao Fa. Xiao Fa is a very well-intentioned man. I've seen him try to save the life of a mortal enemy." -Xian's speech
- "Perhaps even last night...." -Mike
Xian explains that Xiao Fa was trying to counter the effects of poisons at the party, while "the guy calling himself, what was it, Junjie" attacked many people with them. Takanata's investigation indicated that Xiao Fa had precisely the same memory damage as everyone else - not to mention, Xiao Fa doesn't have the ability to cloud men's minds, while an associate of Junjie, Li the Wanderer, does have that ability. Li the Wanderer intended that Junjie be killed, and arranged for it to happen. While it is unfortunate that he died - whoever he was - Xiao Fa seems actually one of the least likely in the room to have killed him. Finally, Xiao Fa's weapon is a staff, which would have done blunt damage, one of the things which didn't hit him.
Xian's status (doubled) is a little better than Inspector Fu's, and his oratory is also a little better. The First Servant has been keeping track of good points, and leaves the room to contemplate. While he's gone, Xian asks Inspector Fu - does he really believe that Xiao Fa killed Junjie? Fu admits that he doesn't, but believes that he was complicit with whoever did.
When the First Servant returns, he says that Inspector Fu's case was not sufficiently compelling, and provided no real motive - he declares the accused Not Guilty. Inspector Fu pounds his fist on the table and points at Xiao Fa, saying he will rue the day, but the trial is done.
Xiao Fa rushes off to convince Meizhen to put Yuan Howin on Inspector Fu's schedule before he leaves.
That evening, there is an abbreviated performance (with elephants) which the First Servant attends. At the end, he stands and thanks everyone for what may have been a trying trip, and apologizes for the poor hospitality of the Steppes and Stone Drum. However, now that all of that is behind them, he wishes them the good luck of the throne, and hopes that after their journey concludes that they have a safe and profitable return to the Isle of Beauty.
- "Well, that went reasonably well." -Xian
- "No, I wanted the kingdom to be not renamed while we weren't paying attention!" -Takanata
- "Oh. Fuck." -Xian