The Nature of Kuan-Xi
|"The beginning of wisdom is calling things by their right names."|| The run begins on the Day of the Early Monkey in the Month of the Serpent in the tenth Year of the Bear since the Third Treaty of Houses.|
The run takes place principally in Tahiti
Everyone is sitting around at Tahiti, when Anto shows up. He flops into into a chair, tired. He says he has been running around and talking to people, and thinks he has pulled enough strings to do a ritual to restore Kuan-Xi now.
The party has four vials of essence, from the ritual that renamed the Cranesflight Heights: Royalty, Homeland, Revelation, and Creation. The royalty vial came from Kuan-Xi; the other three came from other people but the party doesn't know who. Anto also thinks that the strange colored potions will work without side effects, if they're purified by the Extra Pure Water used in the ritual.
Kuan-Xi has three "hooks", where Autumn Rose damaged her. Each of those three hooks is a place where an Essence can be added. Or they could try stuffing two essences into one hook. Or they could make more hooks - the easiest way would be for Autumn Rose to damage Kuan-Xi some more, but Shen-Ji might be able to wound her mystically in a sufficient way to count.
For each essence used, the ritual will have to anchor it, by declaring its specific mystical anchor point, and using some representative item. The more awesome the item is, the more the effect will spread into the world. Some of the awesomeness of the item will be transferred to Kuan-Xi; a standard magic item will become unmagic, while an epic item will become more like a regular yellow magic item.
Anto also notes that he is in debt to the "people" he has been talking to for this ritual, and will need to spend a while catching up - he won't to be available as a friendly NPC for a while.
Shen-Ji and Lijuan work on identifying the un-identified potions, and determine:
- Yellow is a potion of wealthiness of some sort.
- Green is reconfigurable essence poison. Whatever that means.
One option is to borrow, buy, or steal items from somewhere else but not the requirements. If Kuan-Xi knew what she wanted, picking an item would help her get it. But since she isn't quite sure about what she wants, other than to be free, it seems easier to go through her loot and party loot to see what might be convertible to interesting powerups.
Armor of the Bear would help her be a Bear Princess - this is Anto's favorite example.
Rather than go back to being a princess of the Shrouded Isle, Kuan-Xi thinks she wants to be a princess of the Golden Palace. Maybe the Golden Prince will give her a golden sword to use in the ritual, if she asks him for it? On the other hand, since she's not sure where the Golden Palace is, it's hard to drive the little carriage to.
The party heads to the Cup of Five Virtues, on the theory that they might be able to find an immortal there. Cai Wen recalls that he is supposed to remind Merit in particular and Yanyu a little about Chashui having a veto, which was not taken into consideration when the House of Exuberant Interference invaded the Tanzhe.
Shen-Ji also recalls that the tea house is a good place for investigating magic, if they want to poke at the potions any more.
Chashui brings a cup over, "courtesy of the guy in the other room". It's a very strong rice wine. The door to the back room is locked, but Kuan-Xi knocks back the drink and shoulders the door open. Sure enough, it's Old Hop. He listens to her explanation with interest, but notes if she's asking for peaches, he's covering his ears.
So... does Old Hop think the Golden Prince would give her a golden sword? He is a little dubious. She just wants a golden sword to be awesome, with no strings attached? Well, yes. That's not normally how things are done, but she does have some leeway for her position.
Er, she can't remember what her position is.
- "Bow down for Her Highness Ho Kuan-Xi, Receiver of Petitions of the Golden Palace!" -Old Hop, the Herald of the Golden Palace
Old Hop thinks she probably wants to be a Princess of the Northern Seas, not a Princess of the Golden Palace. It's a bit more subtle, and also water-based.
The party (including Old Hop) rents a boat in the port, and heads out into the ocean to summon the Prince via his Northern-Seas incarnation. It begins to rain. Then there is a foghorn noise, and a strange top-heavy boat with a palace on top smoothly glides up alongside, extending a boarding plank.
Kuan-Xi and her entourage go aboard, and Kuan-Xi declines the proffered towels and instead makes everyone dry.
Old Hop, no longer looking drunk at all, presents Kuan-Xi, who has come through great perils and journeys to lay her petition at the feet of Ho Tan Mi, Warden of the Northern Seas. (The Prince rolls his eyes a little as Old Hop expounds upon the perils of the boat trip.)
- "Welcome. What brings you before us today?"
Kuan-Xi explains again. Hmm. Well, just giving her a reward on its own is a little unusual, but in her role as petitioner on behalf of mortals... well, she has brought an entourage of mortals, presumably with their petitions.
Thus, he asks them: what are the seven greatest things that fraught the Empire, for which an ally might be asked to assist with?
The first four are pretty easy, but the last three are more tricky. Lijuan wants to suggest the Marked, but Cai Wen talks her out of it - they're a rule the world plot that the party disagrees with, and the Golden Prince has made his views about "internal disagreements" clear. Maybe the Monkey King playwright? The Shadow? Yama? Dragon-Whale relations? Coyote is picked on general principles (and Crane has suggested to Merit that the easterners are a lesser-known danger to the Empire). Yanyu suggests the Cycle instability, and Shen-Ji suggests the civil war. It is not clear that the Golden Prince "fixing" these problems will be to the party's benefit, but he nods and accepts the petition.
After some consideration (during which time Old Hop leaves), they list:
- The Kali cult in the south
- The Beastmaster of Men
- Aku, the demon masquerading as Spider
- The Easterners and Coyote
- The instability of the Cycle
- The looming civil war
Old Hop returns with a pouch, containing a golden peach for Kuan-Xi to use in her ritual. Lijuan eyes it covetously.
Then, everyone bows and takes their leave, heading back to Tahiti to sort through the potential items again.
The last potion is identified as some sort of... potion of awesomeness of some kind. Kuan-Xi uses her Answers scroll to determine that it is a Potion of Glory.
The three "hooks" are the damage to Kuan-Xi's status, to her "noble" shtick, and to her "in tael" shtick. She decides on a configuration:
|Status damage||Stunning dress||Glory|
|Tael/zhu damage||Sash of True Honor||Revelation & Creation|
|Noble/common damage||Golden Peach||Royalty|
Her status and charisma damage are fixed, she acquires a title of "Princess of the Northern Seas", and she gains two shticks in "Dressed Appropriately" (a personal enhancement) and "Dress Appropriately" (for example, make that assassin over there dressed as a servant become dressed as an assassin.)
Anto thinks that the ritual will sort of kind of work for other people (though only today), if the universe can be convinced that the other people are Kuan-Xi. Yanyu can finesse this with her triad shticks and some karma, so she wants to replace her Auspicious Day shtick with something more useful.
The remaining essences/potions are Homeland, Wealth, or more iffy things like Spiritually Contagious Food Coloring. Armor of the Bear plus Homeland would make her Master Zhou's neighbor, which would be exciting.
Kuan-Xi spends three karma to use her "Muddle Memories" shtick to make Yanyu forget she has Auspicious Day, and then they use
|Auspicious Day damage||Deed to the Pagoda of Heavenly Light||Homeland|
This seems to make Yanyu a citizen of the Sun/Moon, though the details of this are unclear.The rituals concluded, Anto rushes off to start repaying his debts...