ZCW note 09apr2010

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The Black Spire (in the City of Spires) used to be called the Jade Spire. It was the home of the Emperor (and thus Imperial property) when he travelled to the City of Spires, back in the day. The Jade Spire was burned in the third Year of the Tiger before present time. (31 years ago if I'm counting correctly.) It is said to have turned black after it burned. (Not surprising that something turns black after being burned, but not sure if the color change is significant or not.) One person described the Jade Spire as being reputed to be the second most beautiful of the spires after the Golden Spire.

Elder Danyu assembled the following narrative:

The Jade Spire caught fire on the Night of the Early Dog in the Month of the Serpent, in the tenth Year of the Tiger since the Regency Council was formed, during a thunderstorm. The tower was struck by lightning; the grounding for the tower was presumed ineffective in retrospect, and led to re-examination of the lightning grounds on all the other tallest towers. The strike on the tower was both seen and heard by onlookers; none of the other towers were struck during that particular storm. None of the Spire's servants were in the Spire at the time, as none lived there.

On the Day of the Late Fox in the Month of the Butterfly (that is, about a month and a half before), at a Council meeting of the King and the Dukes, there was said to have been general agreement that the Jade Spire was "abandoned" by the Empire, as there had been no Emperor in residence for cycles. There was some discussion of cutting back on the payments for upkeep, and repurposing several of the Treasures of the Kingdom which were resident in the tower. It is not known who instigated this conversation, but no particular action was taken between that time and when the Spire burned.

Several people reported seeing a light in one of the tower windows two days prior to the burning, and guards were sent in, but nothing suspicious was found, or found to be missing.

[Question: On the theory that this was a key event in the renaming of the Foxruns to the Jade Taiga, what was the actual key--was it the transfer of ownership implied by the Council's action, or the actual burning?]

The King of the Jade Taiga at the time was the father of the current King.

Nobody admits to having "recovered" any of the Treasures of the kingdom, so they are presumed lost. Elder Danyu's description of some of them (Note, Cai Wen had asked about them, and made a comparison to the Butterfly Kingdom Treasures, which is why Elder Danyu refers to the treasures of the Court of Distinction here): No great treasure is the same as any other, and those of the Court of Distinction are the most renowned above all. But they were beautiful, and beloved, and valuable, and in that, one might say they were the same. Most notably, there was a tapestry depicting swans in flight, and a carved jade sculpture of a flowering tree.

As far as Elder Danyu knows, the ruins of the Jade Spire are still the property of the Empire. (So as far as we know, there was no formal transfer of ownership, such as happened at the Red Pagoda.)

Here is the narrative of our exploration of the Black Spire:

The rubble in the ruins of the tower is a shifty, difficult surface to move about on, and though it is apparently deserted, there are hisses and rustles that come from places where none of the party is standing, but only when no one is looking.

Cai Wen slips and badly wrenches his ankle (5 damage through toughness; -1 move until the end of next run); Hana similarly slips and catches herself badly on one wrist (5 damage through toughness; -1 strength until the end of next run). Then, Lijuan hears some high-pitched squeaks as she looks for mice - they prove to be rats, which have made a nest in the nooks of the rubble. When disturbed, the rats attack to defend their nest. The fighters (and Ho) make short work of the rats that dare attack people, but Anto and Wei Han are both bitten by rats (no damage) in the process.

Xiao Fa thinks that the chi of the tower is not the chi of a tower, damaged or ruined, but the chi of a ruin. It definitely has an effect on the chi of the city around it, more so than just "a tower" would.

Lijuan finds a couple of very old zhu.

Shen-Ji doesn't find any hidden magic items, alas. He thinks that the stone of the tower walls was probably originally constructed/worked with some Earth sorcery in the mix, but that was a *long* time ago.

Hana doesn't notice any ghosts; it's about as not haunted as you can get for a ruin (well, except that it has Hana in it right now), which suggests that no one was in it when it burned.

Min Feng finds a couple of places where people's initials have been scratched into the blackened rock; it appears that you are not the first people to have searched the ruin.

Cai Wen sends his ferret exploring into the nooks and crannies of the rubble. The poor thing is badly bitten by rats (for ferret-sized damage), but does return, dragging a little leather-bound book, the size of a diary. The leather is charred and many of the pages have been all or partially nibbled away by rats.

The pages that you *can* read, however, seem to be in some sort of code.

Listening through the earth, Anto could hear some squeaky places, which appear to be small; we think they are rats' nests. Farther below he can hear echoes and water, which we think are the city sewers.

Min Feng spent a while staring at the diary, and got this:

Looking at it for a little while, you find seven different "things" that seem to frequently recur at the beginnings of lines. Not all the beginnings of lines have a recurring "thing" like this, but about 2/3 of them do. Five of them are more early-ish in the notebook, two of them are more late-ish. You expect they are names, and the lines are like notes or items that pertain to each person. One of the names always has a small symbol after it.

(It's all written in the same hand, but you think it was not all written at the same time; the ink is not always the same.)

The symbol looks a little bit like a "5", and you wonder if that has anything to do with one of the old Taiga legends about the King of Five Grains, supposedly one of the first Taiga rulers, who taught people how to farm.