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Takanata and Shen-Ji investigate the Theft of the Tiger Talisman

Takanata will come and find Shen-Ji.

"Master Yang - thank you for sharing with us the letter you received from Myeong Duc, about the death of the Hand on the Sword of All the Clans.

"It seems likely that the disgrace was losing the Great Talisman of the Tiger. I was thinking that perhaps if we investigated, we could discover something to point the King of the Savanna in the direction of being upset with the Cartogramancer. Have you replied to the letter at all? Do you think Myeong-san would willing to assist us in finding where the Hand was, shortly prior to his taking his life?"

"I replied to the clan basically summarizing your theory, told them that pursuing the Talisman would likely be futile, but there was no reason not to put up a candidate for the Hand."

"Their immediate response was asking about the Talisman; apparently, they were not familiar with it and what it did, so I gave them a brief description of what it was (but nothing about the cosmology part)."

"We could follow up further with either them or the King if you like."

"I would like to travel to the Savannah and see if we can find the area where the Hand lost the Talisman, and use a vision of the past to see if I can find out how that loss took place. I suspect that finding that area will be easier with the assistance of the Clan, if you would be willing to accompany me and make introductions."

Okay, you can go to Myeong Central and make a Grace roll with Gather Information to find out more about where the Hand was.

Throwing in 6 Yin fortune, I get 7 successes.

He was out in New Rivers, keeping an eye on any Taiga incursions over the western border.

Takanata will thank them, and head out that way. If they would like to send someone along, it is possible that what we learn will be of some use in resolving who will replace him, but I cannot say for certain.

Sure, they'll send someone with you.

Shen-Ji will come along too...

So, make some Gather Information rolls in New Rivers as well, and let us know what in particular you're looking to find out.

Target: 7. Successes: 5.

Bleh. Derrick, you might do better at that.

(Mostly, I am trying to figure out where the theft of the Talisman might have taken place. For instance, if there is a time when he became upset shortly before he returned to the capital to speak with the King, I'd want to know where that was. If he got up one morning and left suddenly without prior warning, I want to know where he slept the night before. That sort of thing.)

Shen-Ji: Nope, same result: 5 successes.

He was staying with the Sixth Blades of Preservation, one of the warbands on the border. One morning he unexpectedly wasn't there, later that afternoon he returned and was briefly closeted with the head of the Blades, and then he returned to the capital.

Well, I will see if I can arrange to visit the room he was staying in the night he went mysteriously absent. I'll burn my Rep on that, and try to do an Echoes of the Past there, assuming I get in.

It's a miltary camp, so it's tents and such, not an inn. Your reputation gets you in to see the commander of the Sixth Blades of Preservation, but he wants more of an explanation before giving you any sort of a briefing on the last days of the Hand and which tent was his.

"It is my belief that shortly before his death, an item of great value was stolen from the Hand, and that it was to redeem his honor from this loss that he offered his own life. I believe the thieves who targeted him are seeking other items, including some I care about, and I am hopeful that I can see something that will help me determine who they are. I would of course be happy to share any information I acquire which would assist in recovery of the stolen item."

"And what items are these?"

"I have not myself seen the item I believe was in the Hand's charge, but as I understand it, it was an item of significant mystical import tied to Tiger, referred to as the Great Talisman of the Tiger. It likely increased the Accuracy of the bearer, and had other blessings I am unaware of.

"The other items are also mystically important, but I do not believe their owners would care to have them discussed in any great detail. So far as I am aware, none of them are in the possession of a member of the Clans or other resident of the Savanna."

The commander contemplates this for a moment or two, but then decides that letting you investigate the Savanna's instance of Secret Items which are Generally too Secret to Discuss, in his camp, is not something he can permit without authorization. If this Great Talisman was held by the Hand, then pursuing it is something that you must discuss with Lord Sonwu.

Takanata nods. "Very well. I will see if I can arrange to speak with him. If you could, it would be helpful if you see that the relevant area is undisturbed for the next few days. Do you know if Lord Sonwu is away from Jabon at present, such that I should go somewhere else to seek him?"

And off to Jabon, I suppose, unless he says the King is somewhere else.

The King is in Jabon, as far as he knows. They will not disturb the area.
Ok. You have burned your reputation already, so visiting the King is not trivial - do you want to go through the standard audience-seeking channels, or something else?

I'll start with regular audience-seeking channels. That's normally Status with Bureaucracy?

Target: 7. Successes: 16.

The Savanna isn't so much a Bureaucracy place. You can use, mmm, High Society, Diplomacy, KS: Savanna, and Tactics. Well, that's still 15.
You end up in a meeting with Lord Sonwu, one advisor, and two guys who look more like Master Deng.

Takanata is probably particularly longwinded talking to a King he does not know, and Charles doesn't feel up to trying to write that right now, but he lays out basically the same version of things that he did to the head of the camp, with perhaps a few more details:

That he believes there is a person or group trying to collect important mystical artifacts by hiring ninja to steal them, that he suspects they successfully stole the Great Talisman of the Tiger from the Hand on the Sword of All Clans, and that he is requesting permission to use his powers of divination in the area where he suspects the theft occurred (the camp he's recently come from), to see if he can learn anything that might help identify the group responsible and stop them. He will of course happily share anything he learns with Lord Sonwu. If pressed, he admits that he knows several other people with treasures that are apparently the target of these ninja, but will attempt to avoid identifying those people.

Charisma + Yang with High Society, Diplomacy, Politics,Persuasion (but not conversation - he's treating this more as a petition to authority than a negotiation or chat).

Target: 7. Successes: 11.

Lord Sonwu is not very long winded in return, but seems able to listen to long-winded Butterflies without too much impatience.
"And if you find the culprit, and recover the Talisman, what will you do with it? Are you also taking up 'collecting'?"

[I don't think Takanata really thought about whether he was bringing the Clan Myeong guy, and just dragged him along accidentally. But given he's here, he responds like this:]

Takanata shrugs slightly. "I am a student of many things mystical, and cannot say I would not be interested in studying such a treasure, were it to come into my possession. But if my goal were to 'collect' it, I would not be speaking to you about my investigations, My Lord.


"But you would *not* be speaking to me about your investigations, if my commander had not required my dispensation."
(You have a sense that that's a paw-bat with his claws not actually out, as if a proper conversation has to include some argument or it's lazy.)
"Nor would you *be* in a private audience with me now, if your only interest and connection with such artifacts was mere scholarly study."
(That one has a bit more claw to it)

Takanata shrugs again. "I spoke with your commander and told him the same things I am telling you, including a promise that I would provide him with the results of my investigation. I apologize if I did not properly understand the level at which this discussion should be held."

[returning from the digression]

"I hope that information about how the theft was accomplished will make it easier to thwart attempts to steal other items that I believe are also targeted. It is my expectation, however, that I will find the one ultimately responsible is someone beyond my reach, even if I find evidence as to who that may be. Of course, your reach is longer than my own, My Lord, and I would not presume to know what you can do with any information I determine."

He pauses for a moment, and then adds "I suppose, of course, that it is possible I overestimate the culprit, and may find a way to secure the Talisman. I am not certain when next I will be in Jabon myself, and would hesitate to simply mail such a thing, but I am certain Clan Myeong could assist in returning it, should such an eventuality occur."

There's a long pause, and then the King sits forward, on one elbow.
"If you share your information, and your theories, then we shall see how far my reach stretches, and as far as my vengeance can extend, so shall my gratitude. But if it proves that you have underestimated yourself rather than your foe, and the Talisman comes into your hand, then I would ask that you return to Jabon with intention rather than vagary. I should be most distressed to have to consider both Clan Myeong and House Tokai to be poor couriers."

Takanata bows respectfully. "It shall be as you say, My Lord."

Assuming that is sufficient to get permission to check out the scene, I'll go use Echoes of the Past at the camp.

That is sufficient permission, and he'll give you a writ of permission with his seal on it to give to the commander.
Traipsing back to the camp, you can do Echoes of the Past.
The scene you see: There's a guy sleeping, who you recognize as the Hand. He twitches, as if he ought to awake, but doesn't. A ninja kicks him, not very hard. The Hand wakes up and has his sword out, in a single fluid motion, and swings at the ninja, who dodges most of it. Then the ninja swings at the Hand, and the Hand makes a motion like Master Deng's dodge and riposte, except that he fails to dodge or riposte, and is struck in a chi nexus, stunning him. The next round, the Hand burns two actions to go now, except he doesn't go, and the ninja strikes him again. That puts him out of actions for the round, and the ninja chops him a whole bunch, taking him down. The ninja takes the Hand's sword, then takes the amulet from around his neck, and then vanishes into the night.

Int with KS: Ninjas and Insight: whose school are those ninja moves/how were they working?

Target: 7. Successes: 7

You can't recognize a ninja house you've never interacted with from its moves, given that one of the things ninja houses are kind of about is secrecy. But your best guess is that it's a Spider type house, and that each "that doesn't work" was the effect of a point of find weakness.

Wit (or Yin?) with Drawing and Art to make a series of pictures of what happened, as best I can.

Target: 7. Successes: 8.

Then a page of statements:

  • Ninjas have been tasked by a resident of the Hidden City to seek the Great Talismans.
  • A ninja seeking a Talisman has been spotted in the Jade Taiga.
  • A ninja seeking a Talisman has been slain in the Forest of Chin.
  • A ninja of a Spider-influenced school has secured a Talisman in the Savanna of Tears.
  • A ninja named Zeng Tai Hoi was sent to Bear Mountain to secure a Talisman.
  • Su Song, the Imperial Cartographer, is the one behind these ninja.

Which I do a connections reading on.

I make a copy of everything for Lord Sonwu, and ask the Commander if he would rather I send it through him, or if I should go back to Jabon and deliver it personally.

The Commander will send a copy to Lord Sonwu, but it is between you and the King whether you think that will be sufficient to fulfill any obligations you are under.

Mmm. Well, then I write a letter of explanation to go with it:

"Lord Sonwu:

"I expect the pictures do not show you anything that was not described to you by the Hand. I would add to them that I believe the moments when the Hand was unable to act were prepared ahead of time, by a period of observation, although I am not certain of the truth of that.

"The statements on the last page are statements my arts tell me are true.

"I will be in Jabon for a day or so, and at your disposal if you wish any more discussion of this matter.

"Tokai Takanata"

Then I go to Jabon for a day and see if there's any art scene there at all, and if I don't here from the King, I go back to the circus.

The art scene isn't as impressive as the Isle of Beauty or the Arcade, but it's still a major city. The local specialty is black and white ink brushwork - the ones that you like best have a really nice sense of motion to the work, leaves and branches blowing and bending, or a bird or animal in motion.
You do in fact get summoned (politely) to see the King - the thing he is most curious about is how Su Song comes into the picture.

"You will understand I have not met the man personally. I am aware, however, that he is a man with certain mystical skills, as well as his more prosaic work. As to my evidence of his connection with this matter in particular - I was told of his involvement by a diviner of names after a ninja attack in Bear Mountain. That diviner is also how I learned the name of the ninja involved there. I had trust in their skill and believed he was involved on their word, but had not confirmed it with my own arts until the divinations I have provided you.* I do not have any more... prosaic ... evidence of his involvement, I fear.

"His precise goal, beyond an aim to collect as many of the Talismans as he can, I am not certain of. I am sure there are many things that could be accomplished with the Talismans if collected together. If he has specific plans for Tiger's Talisman, I do not know them, and it would seem unlikely that it is particularly well suited to his talents. I am given to understand that employing more than one Talisman is quite taxing, so he may have another he plans to provide Tiger's Talisman while he employs one more compatible with his skills."

We will fast forward this - the King does seem to think that you're intentionally being very cagey in what you're telling him, but decides to not squeeze, and thanks you for your information and lets you make your escape.

Ok. The only part Takanata thinks he's being deliberately cagey about (as opposed to standard-takanata-speak-cautious) is the bit about Autumn Rose, but I don't try and correct the king's impression or anything.  :-)