The Three Investigators
|"Truth is confirmed by inspection and delay; falsehood by haste and uncertainty."|| The run begins on the Day of the Early Spider in the Month of the Magpie in the eleventh Year of the Magpie since the Third Treaty of Houses.|
The run takes place mostly in the Harbor of Fortunate Arrival
After the trip all over the north, the party regroups back at everyone's favorite inn in the Harbor of Fortunate Arrival. Cai Wen gives Wei Han some advice about talking to Inokuma Izumi, who he wants to recruit for the House of Exuberant Interference.
Servants from the inn begin to bring in tea trays with little snacks and sandwiches, to the extent that there is really quite a bit of food. This is somewhat puzzling. Cai Wen goes to investigate.
- "Is there to be a function held here?" -Cai Wen
- "Do you wish for a function? We could send out invitations!"
After going around in circles for a bit, it becomes apparent that the inn staff thinks that the entire Silken Wings Circus will be showing up shortly, and is trying to be prepared. Who told them that the circus would be coming? Oh, the servant is sure it was no one of any importance, and also, he isn't supposed to say. Cai Wen presses, and learns that "Special Inspector Fung said that wherever Zhu Cai Wen was, the mischief of the Circus was not far behind" when he was questioning the staff earlier. Cai Wen says that the circus is indeed not coming, and the servant goes off, muttering about a parade.
Cai Wen asks about the Inspector, and is told that he's staying in Suite 12, three doors down from where the party is. He picks up a plate of sandwiches from the tea trays, and heads to Suite 12, followed by Wei Han. There's a young woman in the front office, who has a number of notes.
- "May I see the great Inspector?" -Cai Wen
- "Do you have an appointment?"
- "I am the great Zhu Cai Wen!"
- "Ah, a known associate! That is very gracious of you."
- "You wish to make a statement? Perhaps a confession?" -Inspector Fu
Cai Wen says he was hoping to talk to Inspector Fung. Fu doesn't think he is an Imperial Inspector, and when told he is a local, notes that he doesn't usually have time for that sort.
So... what is the subject of Inspector Fu's current investigation? It's a complicated dispute involving multiple murders in Bear Mountain. Inspector Fu checks on alibis - was Master Zhou with him at the time of the murders (just before Rule of Threes). No, he wasn't. Were all of Cai Wen's other associates around? Yes, they were. Including Min Feng? Yes, including her.
Cai Wen says that he is aware of accusations made against Master Zhou, and he is aware that Min Feng did do some investigation and make some statements. But Cai Wen also believes that the party is as eager to learn the truth of the situation as Fu is.
- "Ah, so you do not believe that you know the truth of the situation? Rest assured that I will get to the bottom of it." -Inspector Fu
In the outer office, the assistant looks hungry, but unwilling to eat the sandwiches until Wei Han eats one of them to demonstrate the food is safe. When Cai Wen is dismissed from his appointment, Inspector Fu scolds her - does she not know what a subtle poisoner they have on staff?
Cai Wen and Wei Han return to their own suite, as another inn servant is delivering several bottles of rice wine, compliments of the house. As this is a different servant than everyone else, he is immediately deemed worthy of suspicion, and Kasumi follows him out. Deng checks the wine for poison - other than the alcohol (it's pretty strong wine), it's not dangerous. Kasumi follows him around to where he has a small room with a peephole into the dining suite.
Cai Wen briefs the group on Inspector Fu - remember, he's very smart, and it's a bad idea to lie to him. So... what is the actual situation that he's investigating?
At this point, Kasumi decides that overhearing Master Zhou's situation would be no good, and goes into a coughing fit. The eavesdropper startles enough to say something, and Wei Han responds by bashing a hole in the wall between the dining suite and the eavesdropping area sufficient to climb through and grab him as he starts to flee.
- "Unhand me! How dare you attack a Special Inspector? Destruction of property! That's at least a... small fine. Well, that's just the beginning." -Special Inspector Fung
Kuan-Xi demands an apology for the inspector's impertinence, and he apologizes that she had to witness such a display of violence from such known criminals.
- "My bodyguard was protecting me, since there have been so many attacks upon my person in the Arcade." -Kuan-Xi
- "I read those files. You mean when Yang Shen-Ji murdered the circus bystanders?"
Inspector Fung sweeps out, declaring that if the criminal organization known as the Silken Wings Circus is going to found a house in his country, they have another think coming!
- "Oh, and thank you for the wine!" -Zhi-Hao
Zhi-Hao notes that Inspector Fung has a knife, and also a bunch of other weapons that aren't actually there. He's not sure what to make of that.
Cai Wen notes that Inspector Fung can be considered hostile; Inspector Fu is dangerous, but not hostile.
Zhi-Hao and Cai Wen wander off onto the streets, in order to figure out what's going on right now other than inspectors and people talking about the House of Exuberant Interference. They spot Inspector Fu nonchalantly interrogating the people Cai Wen talked to, as they go. The cold war between the big three Houses is still going on, and people who are particularly in the know have heard that the King has placed his blessing on the House of Exuberant Interference.
Min Feng notes that Ezokin is about eight blocks to the west, so he may be up to something as well.
Ayuki flags down Kasumi, and notes that she intercepted a message meant for Master Deng, and passes it along. (She didn't open it - that would be rude!) Kasumi asks if she remembers who the ninja house is that does missions into the World After - Ayuki doesn't, but will ask her teachers.
- "Wei Han, do you wish to learn how to knock down walls?" -Master Zhou, who has just developed the One True Bear Kung Fu shtick
- "No." -Wei Han
- "Um. Well, okay, then."
Kasumi, Kuan-Xi, and Min Feng want to go out shopping, but Wei Han insists that they can't have a girls' day out, and he has to come with them. They head off, watched by Inspector Fung. Min Feng waves to him, and Kuan-Xi does not deign to notice him. One of the shop owners offers Kasumi a cloak of +3 dice to illicit activity, but she declines. They are disappointed to learn that there are no cloaks of resistance, but they do pick up some cloaks of dodging. Inspector Fung heads in as they leave for the tea shop to do some more shopping.
Cai Wen and Zhi-Hao head out to talk to Inspector Fung, at the local house of justice. Inspector Fung isn't there, but he speaks to an inspector he hasn't met yet, Inspector Li, and tells her about Inspector Fung's shenanigans. She thanks him for bringing this to her attention, and asks him to please let them know if there is anything else they can do. It sounds like Inspector Fung may be about to be called to heel.
Everyone gathers back at the inn again, and Kasumi gives Deng the note. Meanwhile, another note for Kasumi has arrived.
That's a little suspicious. Zhi-Hao hasn't been in touch with Lumang recently, and Cai Wen didn't invite Ayuki to dinner, though he wouldn't mind doing so.
Kasumi peeks her head out of the suite, and there's someone she doesn't recognize, down the hall, holding a scroll. She tiptoes down and looks at the scroll - it says "Anything?" and the person writes "Don't see them yet" and then the scroll erases. Kasumi goes back to tell the group that the spy has much better magic paper than they do, and the spy makes a quick getaway.
Zhi-Hao stops by the House of Gainful Protection, to see if Lumang is in town. He finds out that Lumang did stop by - he took some time off a few days ago, and came to the Harbor to meet a big shot cousin of his.
Min Feng notes that Ezokin is a few miles north of the city now. The eight-blocks-away area was the Streetwise side of town, but it isn't clear exactly where he was.
Kasumi stops by the House of the Laughing Shadow. They scold her a bit for never checking in. Ayuki is off on a date with Cai Wen now, according to them - that's a bit suspicious since Cai Wen didn’t mention it when Kasumi asked. Kasumi checks her room, and sure enough, there's a note from Cai Wen, saying that they should meet for dinner at a ridiculously expensive local restaurant. "Join me here and even more will follow."
The group returns to the inn. Cai Wen figures that he should show up for dinner, because if Ayuki is there, then he should meet her, and if she's not there, then dinner will at least be a lead as far as where she is. Master Zhou and Kasumi can come with him, while the others try to track down Lumang.
Elsewhere, Min Feng discovers that the word on the street is that tonight is "Bonus night", when everyone likely to be causing trouble will be doing so - the guards will be run ragged, and shticks like "nose for trouble" will find trouble everywhere. Deng finds that some of Lumang's friends at the House of Gainful Protection think that he was starting by bar-hopping, and then he and his cousin were going to end up at a ridiculously expensive local restaurant.
Wei Han goes to warn the Dragon Army about "Bonus night" - the garrison goes into a bit of a panic, because Wei Han tends to be a harbinger of terrible trouble coming. They haven't been called out or anything yet, but Wei Han warns them that they might be. Min Feng and Kuan-Xi think that it's more important to pass the warning on to the actual authorities, and head to the judiciary building of the House of Benevolent Oversight, and are promptly shown to Special Inspector Fung's office. Once he is given the warning, Inspector Fung declares that this is an All Hands On Deck situation, and thus he is not on desk duty any longer! Hmm, that may not have been the desired effect, so Min Feng pulls rank as the Minister of Ramifications for Bear Mountain, and gets a meeting with the Arcade Foreign Minister. She explains that they warned the security forces about "bonus night", and they may have overreacted, so she is escalating to the attention of the foreign ministry. The minister is a little puzzled by this, especially when the theory is floated that "bonus night" is just a distraction to take attention away from a missing friend of hers who is no one important.
Meanwhile, at the restaurant, Cai Wen et al. spot Inspector Li looking around furtively. Cai Wen checks with the host to see if he has a reservation, and finds that some letters have been left: one for Zhu Cai Wen, one for Deng Zhi-Hao, and one for "their troublesome friends".
Each letter has a map, and a note - "at dawn, this map will transport anyone who has signed below to the location of Ayuki, who will at that time (but not for much longer) be alive." A similar note targets Lumang, and a third note indicates that "this map will transport anyone who is not interested in rescuing the innocent to Ezokin's location." There are spaces for about five names on each map.
Kuan-Xi examines the maps, and note that they are cartogramantic transport, but they require consent - they aren't powerful enough to just teleport someone willy-nilly. Wei Han doesn't think trusting the map is a good idea - if someone signs the map, then Ezokin (or the Cartogramancer) could use the signature for anything! The first map appears to have a waterline; the second has something that looks like a target. The third is not clear.
Rather than trust the maps, Wei Han heads out, looking for trouble, followed by Master Deng and Min Feng. They break up a mugging on the next block over. The mugger surrenders, and they take him to the House of Gainful Protection, where there is a line of people either needing help or having criminals to turn over. They aren't interested in reporting their issues to the initial guards, and after about twenty minutes of waiting, they can see a higher-ranked house member, who they tell about Lumang being kidnapped by Ezokin or Lord Nikoze or Kinoze or Zi Kone. They also tell the house that this whole "bonus night" is probably a distraction for the kidnapping. The higher-up takes this all with a bit of a grain of salt, but takes their report.
The group decides that discussing this all (and brandishing items stolen from the Imperial Treasury) in front of whoever is listening (including at least all three inspectors) is no good, and everyone climbs into Kuan-Xi's carriage. Min Feng looks at the map with the Orb of True Seeing, and thinks that it is a trap, but not so much a trap for her. Kuan-Xi uses the orb, and notes that the maps are only powerful enough to move one Talisman per teleport.
The carriage heads to the bar where Lumang was most recently seen; they find that Inspector Fu has made it there already, and is curious as to what is going on. The party says that they're looking for a missing friend, but "bonus night" is making it difficult. This was the last known location of Deng Lumang, though. Inspector Fu wonders who kidnapped him, and they say that they are trying to find that out.
- "Why are we volunteering information to him?" -Kasumi
- "He's dangerous but not hostile, and he might be able to help." -Wei Han
Apparently amenable to helping, Inspector Fu tells them to wait here, and heads into the bar. There is something of a commotion. Wei Han goes around to the back in case anyone tries to sneak out.
- "I could bring this bar down like that!"
Inspector Fu returns, and narrows his eyes at Wei Han being missing. Anyhow, Lumang was led away by an obvious honey trap, and could be nearly anywhere by now. (Min Feng studies Inspector Fu for later targeting).
Inspectors Li and Fung catch up with the group, in the midst of an argument.
- "You can't carry out this crazy vendetta, the King is not having it!" -Inspector Li
- "Have you seen what is happening out here tonight? They're evil!" -Inspector Fung
- "I'm beginning to agree, but you're on suspension!"
Inspector Fung rounds on the party.
- "What have you done, you and your circus?" -Inspector Fung
- "We have done none of this." -Min Feng
- "You expect me to believe this?" -Inspector Fung
- "I do." -Inspector Fu
- "I don't - you don't appear to be very intelligent." -Kuan-Xi
- "Shh." -Min Feng
The Inspectors continue to argue, and Li confesses that she hopes Fung isn't right, because she liked the circus performance that she saw. Cai Wen tries to convince her that the circus isn't behind Bonus Night.
Cai Wen asks how long it would take to search all the buildings next to the city's canals - she thinks a week, to do a thorough job. Well, they have until dawn. The building might be one owned by Lord Nikoze, Kinoze the Silk Merchant, or Zi Kone - they're all in on it. Cai Wen shows Inspector Li the magical maps, and she says it's her city - she and some other officers will go in. She also notes that the middle map looks like a setup for a firing squad. They show the maps to Inspector Fu, who think that the third map is set up for an ambush - one of the hexagons is a mage tower, and one is a pit.
Springing the Trap
The group considers how to split up. Master Zhou's guess is that wherever Ezokin expects Deng to go, there will either be a million mooks or far away deadly people. Not sending someone to the Ezokin trap could be dangerous, or frustrating for Ezokin, depending on whether Ezokin can switch between maps.
The party decides that if it's a Talisman trap, then not bringing the Talismans may be the way to go, and they summon Mystic Mondo to guard them, in Kuan-Xi's carriage (which can thwart casual theft, but not dedicated plot). Mondo notes that if he's left on his own to guard three greater artifacts, he'd like some Horse and Bear points to spiff up the carriage's defenses if needed. Spirit points are in fact transferable, so he is given Min Feng's four Horse points, as well as the Bear points from Cai Wen / Kasumi / Zhi-Hao. He assures them that he can figure out how to spend Bear points even without Kawaii there, if it becomes pressing.
The party tells the various inspectors that they'll probably get killed if they come along. Inspector Fung doesn't doubt it, but Inspector Li says she can take care of herself, and Inspector Fu says that he would like to see them try. Zhi-Hao thinks that Inspector Li is about eight dice of dangerous, which isn't as scary as he is, but she's not incompetent. Min Feng suspects that Inspector Li is trying to get promoted from a one-shot NPC to Cai Wen's recurring moll.
Inspector Fu is willing to deal with a map on his own, in exchange for cooperation for his other investigations. (He is willing to admit to investigating the murders of the Steadfast Heart; he has other things on his queue for the good of the Empire that he declines to discuss). Alternately, if they are willing to cooperate for that investigation only, he will go to a map that they also go to. (He expects each of the people here to agree to cooperate, and for them to request cooperation from their companions).
The party goes into a private huddle to discuss this. Cooperation with all Inspector Fu's investigations is right out (he's probably looking into the Imperial Job, for one), but most people think that the Master Zhou case is Master Zhou's call. Master Zhou is deeply ambivalent, as he has not finished his own investigations, and he doesn't like the idea of cooperating with Inspector Fu if that's going to result in his looking guilty. But getting Inspector Fu turned against Ezokin could be useful, so in the end, he agrees.
It is getting to be very late - dawn will be here soon. Wei Han checks with the Dragon Army barracks to see if he can borrow a tower shield, but they don't have loaner equipment, and so he buys a door from the much-abused innkeeper. Deng hires a bruiser from the House of Gainful Protection to help free his brother. They lend him Oh Cho, a fighter of about 8 dice.
The group signs two maps, leaving the Ezokin-only map alone:
- Ayuki: Kuan-Xi, Kasumi, Zhou, Cai Wen, Inspector Li
- Lumang: Wei Han, Deng, Min Feng, Inspector Fu, and Oh Cho
Ayuki is chained to a raft; Kasumi falls into the deepest section of the water, but as she is not in Wei Han-level armor, she does not have much of a problem with it. Lumang is chained to a stake in front of a target. Ezokin is in the mage tower waiting to destroy anyone who shows up on his map, but no one did. The three maps are strangely phased together, so people can see each other, but not interact.
Min Feng begins unlocking Lumang's chains. Inspector Fu doesn't seem to be doing anything immediately, so Deng gives him an action. He looks alarmed and tells Deng to not do that again; he seems to have been doing something that prevented him from being attacked as long as he didn't have actions.
Deng starts chopping the easily accessible mooks on his map. Kuan-Xi gets grabbed, but it doesn't keep her from waterblasting attackers off of the board. Since she's also proof against swords, they eventually have to resort to punching her.
A ninja decloaks to say that the prize isn't there, and Ezokin says that he's working on it.
Inspector Fu strolls around and investigates during drift. Part of Ayuki's raft also sinks. The firing squad would have tried to execute Lumang during drift, but Deng has killed them already.
Min Feng finishes freeing Lumang, and gives him some escape smoke. He vanishes. Ezokin does something mysterious and spends three tael. Meanwhile his familiar flies around dropping puddles of water from a canteen Ezokin gave him. Cai Wen thinks he hasn't seen Ezokin doing that particular thing before, but spending money probably means acquisition of goods one way or the other. Ezokin tells the ninja to head for the Talismans, and nine of them decloak before jumping into puddles and vanishing.
The archers have rolled poorly on their speed rolls, but finally target Deng, and unleash a volley of arrows at him. Even with Wei Han's storm shield blocking one of them, he takes 171 damage, and falls (though only unconscious).
Cai Wen tries some taunting
- "How much are you on the hook to the Cartogramancer if you come back without any talismans?" -Cai Wen
- "Without you to guard them, I'm sure I'll never know." -Ezokin
The archers take aim at Wei Han, and when he is inexplicably worried about dying, Master Zhou spends three karma to temporarily loan him the "pebbles cannot move a mountain" shtick, and he is mook-resistant.
Ayuki uses escape smoke to flee as well, and the Dragon Army reinforcements begin to arrive. Wei Han shouts at them to kill anyone who threatens Inspector Fu.
- "Now that the hostages are gone, you can all leave the map. Ezokin, your actions will be remembered. Call off your goons or I will break you, like that." -Inspector Fu
- "My apologies, Inspector Li. Please do not dodge." -Master Zhou, knocking her off the map with a Kung Fu punch.
As people continue to flee, Ezokin nods to Inspector Fu, and signals his mooks to stop attacking.
- "Do not think you have won this round, for even now, the Talismans are becoming mine." -Ezokin
After the battle, Kuan-Xi takes a minute to locate her little carriage and notes that it is in the World Above, which is somewhat disconcerting. Inspector Fu says that he will be in touch with people to conduct his current investigation, but that Ezokin will be on his list for later. Min Feng lets him know that she can locate Ezokin for him (which he finds useful), and that she can locate him if that would be helpful (which he is less clear about).
Inspector Li thinks that the adventure was generally awesome, and succeeds in whisking Cai Wen away before Ayuki returns from her escape smoke.
- Takanata and Xiao Fa brief Spirit Builder on the mammoth attack
- Takanata chats with the King of the Savanna about his attacks on the Cartogramancer.
- Takanata, Xiao Fa, and Master Zhou visit the Temple of Eternal Dream and dreamwalk to Yoshi's dreams.
- A whole mob of people talk to Horse.