The Twelve Days of Winter
|"Time always seems long to the child who is waiting - for winter, for next summer, for becoming a grownup: long also when he surrenders his whole soul to each moment of a happy day."|| The run takes place during the first twelve days of Winter, in the third Year of the Spider since the crowning of Ti Lao.|
The run takes place in the Hon'eth Arcade and the Isle of Beauty.
Flush with gratitude for all that was done for him by the travelling circus perfomers, the cabbage grower set out for the Kingdom of Beauty to gift the circus with a wagonful of his finest cabbages.
On the first day of Winter, the plot did slowly start, with an old man in a cabbage cart.
En route to the Port of Propitious Voyage, he was met by a pair of warriors, one with a sword and one without. The warriors offered to buy his cabbages, offering a most reasonable price, and then (when he declined) a far higher price than might be expected. When he declined again, they became suspicious, and intended to search the cabbages for what great treasure he concealed therein. He did his best to prevent them, but the cabbages were scattered on the ground, and no treasure was found.
On the second day of Winter, this pair did break his heart, with two tiger fighters and an old man in a cabbage cart.
The next day, the two fighters found a cart full of winter radishes to buy, and the old man consoled himself for his bruised cabbages with a cup of wine. Over the wine, he told his sad tale to three companions, one dark as teak, one shaved and in the garb of a monk, and the third fiercer than both of the previous together. These companions, also having had several cups of wine, vowed to teach a lesson to the troublemakers, for while they might have started by offering coin, they ended no better than bandits. While the two fighters were fierce, they were no match for these new foes, and suffered most grievously. However, as will sometimes happen, the heat of the battle and the skill of the participants caused each side to see the valor of the other, and the five shook hands and agreed to part as friends.
On the third day of Winter, they fought with martial art, the three Silver Dragons, two tiger fighters, and an old man in a cabbage cart.
However, the next day, word of the fight reached four new companions. Their fifth companion, Ki Ran, has gone mysteriously missing, and the four have been searching for him. The tale of the fight, three versus two, seems unfair odds to them, and in addition, they are particularly intrigued by the fighting styles of the three. If they fought on the side of the two warriors against the three, then perhaps they could learn something! A challenge is issued.
On the fourth day of Winter, the fight had to restart, with four Fists of Fury, three Silver Dragons, two tiger fighters, and an old man in a cabbage cart.
The challenge is met on the following day in main plaza of the Port of Propitious Voyage - Ti Gri is defeated by Shan Tsu, but Mon Ki defeats Iala Mane, and Man Ti and Liot fight to a standstill. For a favor to be collected later, Kar Fai fights the four Fists of Fury together, and after their chastisement, they bow to him in respect. When the tale (as so many tales do) comes to the ears of those in the Cup of Five Virtues, Chasui notes that several nondescript people take note of the details and quickly leave.
On the fifth day of Winter, Chashui did hear it start, at the Five Virtues Cup, with four Fists of Fury, three Silver Dragons, two tiger fighters, and an old man in a cabbage cart.
The telling of tales goes on late into the night and early into the next morning, and the Cup of Five Virtues does not shut its doors, entertaining as everything is being. However, the morning tea is interrupted when Iala Mane stands up to declare that there are more people in the tea house than are immediately evident. The ninja decloak to attack, and there is a Great Fight, even more exciting than the last one, in that it is more of a free for all, and Broken Sword demonstrates great skill with improvised weapons, severing a ninja's finger with a tea tray. The ninjas, not expecting quite so powerful a response, flee, pursued by all and sundry.
On the sixth day of Winter, they left a body part: Six sneaking ninja, at the Five Virtues Cup, with four Fists of Fury, three Silver Dragons, two tiger fighters, and an old man in a cabbage cart.
Chashui takes stock of the damage done in the melee and subsequent dispersal - several windows, several railings on the second floor, and two wooden screens have all been broken. Happily, what is needed is often found in this tea house; when the seven daughters of Tsien drop by hoping for tea the next day, they are disappointed to find the tea house closed, but offer their services in repair. Chashui takes advantage of their expertise, enthusiasm, and low prices, to plan some additional renovations and interesting features to be added.
On the seventh day of Winter, they fixed what fell apart, with seven Tsien Daughters, but not the six sneaking ninja, at the Five Virtues Cup, without four Fists of Fury, three Silver Dragons, two tiger fighters, and an old man in a cabbage cart.
Meanwhile, the Fists of Fury, the Silver Dragons, and the two fighters have been chasing the ninjas. The trail leads south; they commandeer the cabbage cart (with cabbages and cabbage merchant, who will not leave them behind) to use in the pursuit. They track the ninja to the Harbor of Fortunate Arrival, but by the time they catch up, the ninja have run into a new set of trouble, in the form of two martial artists and a particularly deadly swordsman The Fists of Fury immediately recognize the two martial artists as students of Master Zhou, and bow in respect, and introductions are made. Yanzi is on her way to the Isle of Beauty now - she has been unable to convince Liet to leave the Harbor, but hopes for more luck with Long Yue Mei. The cabbage merchant was planning to go there anyway, the Fists of Fury do still want to talk to Master Zhou, and Kar Fai has reasons of his own for going to the Isle of Beauty, so the group takes ship from the Harbor for the Isle.
On the eighth day of Winter, the student could depart, thanks to eight monks protecting (off in Iron Mountain), to the seven Tsien Daughters, six sneaking ninja, at the Five Virtues Cup, with four Fists of Fury, three Silver Dragons, two tiger fighters, and an old man in a cabbage cart.
On ship to the Isle of Beauty this crew meets up with a number of servants of Li Kao. Long an admirer of Li Kao, Kar Fai gives his regards to their master and convinces them to speak of their mission. They are travelling to the Isle of Beauty to obtain numerous astrological readings from various members of the Silken Wings Circus. Li Kao is preparing to construct several rituals and needs details on circus members, concentrating on those in the party. At this, Iala Mane informs them that sadly, much of the party was heading north rather than staying with the Circus for winter.
On the ninth day of Winter, they ask for some star charts - the nine servants serving, far from eight monks protecting, seven Tsien Daughters, six sneaking ninja, or the Five Virtues Cup, but with four Fists of Fury, three Silver Dragons, two tiger fighters, and an old man in a cabbage cart.
After a night of consternation and talking amongst themselves, the servants decide that even if the party is missing, they should be able to obtain the necessary star charts from places like the royal archives, or House Tokai. Kar Fai notes that he is travelling there to consult with Master Long Shen, and so would be happy to introduce them upon arrival. When the group arrives at the court however, they find that Long Shen is dead, the court is in confusion, and several ministers have been moving to take control until the Royal Family recovers. These, including Takanata’s nephew, are in conflict with the Prince who, rumor has it, is making plans to offer his new seahorse cavalry to the Empire to assist in enforcing the blockade of the Shrouded Isle. The King has decreed, in a fit of pique, that the cavalry is the Prince's to deal with, and the lords are at a loss to prevent this. The Lords conspire, and start some legal maneuvering to seize the seahorse cavalry for themselves as "levies", at least until the King and Queen recover from their various issues and the court is functioning smoothly again. Kar Fai, disturbed by the disharmony in the court, meditates in search of a better solution.
On the tenth day of Winter, to the Prince they did impart, with ten Lords with status, nine servants serving, far from eight monks protecting, seven Tsien Daughters, six sneaking ninja, or the Five Virtues Cup, but with four Fists of Fury, three Silver Dragons, two tiger fighters, and an old man in a cabbage cart.
The next morning things suddenly calm. At first there seems to be no reason for this, but eventually most of the Lords confess that they had dreams of great significance and symbolism. When they awoke, they each separately came to the realization that the Prince was heir to the kingdom, and while he might be in the wrong, he should be respected and treated with all honor rather than conspired against. Kar Fai and his merry band are relieved, and Kar Fai, (having had a dream of his own) with his group, brokers negotiations between the Lords and the Prince, seeking mutual understanding. Yanzi and Shan Tsu prove effective in speaking with the more spiritually inclined Lords; Broken Sword, Liot, and Ti Gri sway the more militant houses; Ser Pan and Iala Mane are most influential with the trading houses, while Kar Fai and Man Ti influence those of the old guard, like status-conscious Tokai. The lords are convinced to humble themselves sufficiently to beg the Prince's pardon, but suggest that for proper credit to the Isle of Beauty, cavalry assistance to the Empire must come from his father and not himself. Faced with this argument, the Prince concedes to speak to his father. His Majesty, angry at both the Prince and the nobles at this point, decrees that the cavalry shall stay in the kingdom, but also confirms the Prince as his rightful heir and orders all present to swear loyalty to him.
On the eleventh day of Winter, they had a change of heart, thanks to eleven Dreamers dreaming, ten Lords with status, nine servants serving, involving eight monks protecting, seven Tsien Daughters, six sneaking ninja at the Five Virtues Cup, plus four Fists of Fury, three Silver Dragons, two tiger fighters, and an old man in a cabbage cart.
Elsewhere, at the Temple of the Eternal Dream, a grateful Chochiro thanks the monks for their assistance. She’s isn't quite sure how it worked, but restoring the loyalty of the nobles to the Beautiful Prince and introducing him to Kar Fai has fulfilled her need to do a service to the Spider, completing her great quest. She sets off for the Strand to find the old woman who assigned her this quest and tell her what she has learned, her homework finally complete.On the twelth day of Winter, Chochiro’s true path starts, serving twelve Cycle Spirits, thanks to eleven Dreamers dreaming, ten Lords with status, nine servants serving, eight monks protecting, seven Tsien Daughters, six sneaking ninja, the Five Virtues Cup, four Fists of Fury, three Silver Dragons, two tiger fighters, and an old man in a cabbage cart.