Hrm. I have this feeling the last time I talked to my nephew, I said I would tell the Tengs about the Twins, and that I haven't done this yet, but I can't find anything in my mail about it at all. Does that sound familiar to you?
Anyway, if you can brief me on where you think that stands, that's great, and if I do need to go talk to them, I will try and go visit, and you can tell me if they're even at home to be briefed. :-)
- We don't think anyone has talked to the Tengs yet.
- When you do go visit, the majordomo says he will see if they are available. (Make a Grace roll with Sense Motive).
- It seems like he's overall kind of worried, but seeing you, there's some amount of relief at your presence. All of that is pretty well disguised in the overall Polite Impassive Majordomo face, though.
- The majordomo leaves you in a nice little waiting room, and then returns to escort you to Lord Teng's study. Both parents are there, and they greet Takanata with polite mild smiles.
Huh. Well, having been warned by the Majordomo, I start somewhat slower than I would have otherwise. Apologies for not having called on them recently, and hopes that they are well, and chatting about other inconsequential things for a bit, while I make a Grace roll to see if they seem to be acting oddly.
- They happily make polite chit chat back about inconsequential things.
- The Sense Motive and the Psych are actually finding it hard to get much of a grip - it's like you can only see the surface, and can't get any depth beyond that at all. They're glib and polite and - and seem to have utterly no questions about where their children are, or even any badly hidden worry, which does strike you as perhaps a little odd.
Hrm. Ok, that's concerning.
I will add a couple of references to the Twins to the casual conversation and see if they nibble, and if they don't, I will wind it down and ask if it would be possible for me to stay the night, before continuing on in the morning.
- Once you drop the twins into conversation, they will follow up on that - how are they doing, what have they been up to, et cetera.
I chat about them briefly, and say I have not seen them recently, but tell a story or two from before midwinter. I don't lie, but I don't treat it as important, and move on to something else unless they press.
- They seem to think that this is perfectly reasonable conversation, and do not press. :)
Then I think about what's going on, and go read the logs, and decide they're still the "people" Pir Pir disguised as the Tengs at Midwinter, rather than the actual Tengs. Then I fret for a while. Then I break down and ask the Majordomo if I could have a few moments of his time.
"I regret to say that it appears likely that the Lord and Lady have been experiencing some difficulty since Midwinter or a little before, and I have shamefully overlooked that issue until now. I will do my best to clear the matter up as quickly as possible, but I hoped you would be able to let me know if there have been any ... particularly pressing ... actions they have taken or failed to take that might require immediate attention while I look for a solution to the underlying problem? I must also mention that it would be convenient to my investigation if it would be possible to observe them briefly when they were unaware I was doing so, to better evaluate the state of their Chi, if you have any suggestions for how that might be accomplished."
Plus I burn my reputation shtick.
- He tries really hard to maintain a reserve of "no, of course, everything is fine, and he clearly thinks that loyalty requires not saying bad things about his lord and lady, but finally he also breaks and confesses that yes, they've been... unwell... since last fall.
- There isn't anything pressing; they have been delegating more of the decisions to him, and there have been some odd but small decisions like the fancy garden installed behind the manor house. The main thing that concerns him is that some of the House's diplomatic ties have been somewhat disregarded in recent months - Lord Teng has tended to pursue a course of cordial reserve, of no great and binding alliances but many loose ones, and that can take careful balancing, which may have suffered some during the past months.
- He is less sure about observing them while unseen - there are servants' corridors and the like, which might serve, but both the Lord and Lady have a remarkable acuity for knowing they are being observed.
I thank him for his confidences, and assure him I will do everything possible to protect the Lord and Lady's reputations while the matter is resolved. I fear I cannot help with the sort of general diplomatic issue he mentions very easily, but if he anything pressing does come up, I would appreciate his letting me know.
If viewing them is not easily arranged, perhaps I could visit the new garden.
- Well, he can take you into the servant's halls; the part he can't promise is that they won't notice.
I will pass on this for now. Perhaps when I return, if I have been unable to progress in other ways.
- The garden seems to be very professionally done, but it's kind of odd. The classical English garden is very symmetric and rectangular and trimmed; a Japanese or Chinese garden is more "natural", asymmetric, with individual vistas opening up as you move around it. This is one step further in the asymmetry direction - it seems *unbalanced* in interesting ways. Carefully pruned topiary in odd shapes, partly surrounded by more natural-looking bushes and then a few trimmed into perfect spheres, surrounded by a crescent shaped flat pool. It doesn't flow, it clashes.
- There's definitely something about the garden, but it's not "this is a clear fit for an X demon or a Y spirit". You're not putting your finger on it with 3 successes.
Hrm. Well, I will try Eyes of the I Ching here, and see if it tells me anything.
- Well, the garden is about as alive as you'd expect from something with plants in it, but there isn't anything weirdly alive that shouldn't be, or weirdly mystic, or anything like that. That is, the garden is weird, but it's not weird shit. :)
Alright. I will let it drop again. I do spend the night as I said I would, make a brief farewell to the Tengs in the morning, tell the Majordomo I will be back as soon as I can with assistance, and head out.