Two Parties and a Wedding

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"Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it." The run begins on the Day of the Late Fox in the month of the Tiger in the tenth Year of the Bear since the Third Treaty of Houses.

The run takes place in the Hon'eth Arcade.

Previous Run


First Petition

The party is up to four Talismans! However, the Serpent Talisman proves unpopular compared to the others, and eventually Cai Wen agrees to carry it. Merit sends the Butterfly Map off to the White Lotus Q Branch, with a warning to not ask the Imperial Cartographer about it.

The butler lets everyone know that there is a petitioner for the House here - it proves to be Hsu Verity. She is interested in trading one step of a ritual that they need done (they can pick which), if they are willing to carry out an set of experiments for her. From each of eight classes of citizens of the Arcade, ideally from the Harbor of Fortunate Arrival, they will need to do eight things, in any combination. Five successes (past their defenses) is sufficient, but eight or twelve is better. They will need to hold a jade orb of analysis, both before and after the thing is done.

The eight sorts of people:

  • Urchins
  • Peasants
  • Merchants
  • Guilders
  • Soldiers
  • Criminals
  • Nobles
  • Royal

The "quality" of the person is relevant - a criminal mastermind is better than a random vandal, a guild master better than an apprentice.

  • One must be injured
  • One must be healed
  • One must be enhanced
  • One must be diminished
  • One must be confused
  • One must be enlightened
  • One must be discouraged
  • One must be seduced

The group wants to know why all this needs to be done. What is the point of the experiment? Verity says it will allow them to better determine the base emotional structure of the Harbor of Fortunate Arrival. Yes, they're still working on the "city spirit" (or "make Shen-Ji a god", depending on whose version you go by) project.

The group agrees, and Verity says she'll send the orb over by courier. She heads out.

Second Petitioner

The butler says that there's another petitioner here - Liet. She'd like to note that the last job they agreed to do for her, making Deep Crimson the color of the season, didn’t go off so well -- are they willing to make it up to her with another (smaller) job? Merit notes that they're better at doing things in run than in puttering, and she's glad to hear it - this is an in run job.

Chow Niu-Niu is the daughter of Lady Chow from the House of Judicious Increase. She hears that the party isn't keen on that house, so it should be easy. Niu-Niu is desperately in need of some public embarrassment, at or before a party tomorrow night. There's a society party to introduce some junior house members (of which Liet wants to make it clear she is not one), that Niu-Niu should get some comeuppance at (or before). But if there is a junior member of the House of Exuberant Interference who needs to be presented, that could be a good opportunity. No one is willing to admit being a "junior member" of Exuberant Interference either.

Niu-Niu deals with "low level negotiations and contracts of limited means". So... if the party were to investigate, would they discover that she has slighted someone? Liet says she is always slighting people - she's petty that way. The group needles Liet a bit about pettiness, and what exactly Niu-Niu did to slight her, as it is very important to know these interesting details when planning the embarrassment, but Liet isn't telling. They agree to see what they can do, and Liet heads away.

Third Petitioner

The butler asks if they are done with petitioners, or do they want to see the third? There is some discussion of whether clients follow the Rule of Threes, and whether there is a Rule of Threes.

The third client is a woman shrouded in dark silks and a hood and veil. Cai Wen notes that she is too elegant and moll-like to be a ninja, however.

"I understand that you exuberantly interfere."
"That's what it says on the door." -Merit
"May I ask your rates?"
"That depends on the job."

The woman tells them that the election for Grandmaster of the Apothecaries' Guild is coming up in two days - the two candidates, Thien Ci-Xi, and Miura Zenko are diametrically opposed in philosophy and engaged in a vicious battle. She would like to ensure that before the final ballot, the two of them are married.

"Yes!" -Yanyu
"I am glad to have hit one of your core competencies."

Her understanding is that the two have little personal vitriol, but unlimited professional vitriol. She can provide their birthdays, so Yanyu starts drawing up a pair of horoscopes. Thien Ci-Xi is a Crane, and she is principally concerned with how things should be done, regardless of how they have been done in the past. Miura Zenko is a Tortoise, and he is generally inclined towards historical conservatism and following traditions.

So... what is her connection to the situation? She demurs: she has no connection, she is but a middleman. Well, what about her employer's connection? Is his interest personal or professional? Always professional, she says.

"What if they get married and the guild collapses?"
"Nope, not going to happen." -Yanyu

Merit and the others contemplate prices. This is the sort of thing that would normally be "a major favor", but without knowing who her employer is, that's less clearly useful. 8-10 tael sounds about right for a monetary price, but now that Merit has made everyone rich, they are hard to motivate with money any longer. The cloaked woman says that her patron is quite capable, but if they do not want an unnamed favor, she can attempt to trade for a favor from someone else. As far as the capabilities of her patron, assume a fairly direct method of accomplishing any favor they ask will be employed.

After some discussion (Xian suspects her of being Ming I, which would make her patron possibly the Alchemist), they decide to accept a Mysterious Favor as payment. She presents them with three hair sticks - if they encounter something that proves insurmountable during the mission, say what they wish to happen and break one of the sticks.

As she starts to leave, Cai Wen asks if she has plans for the evening. She jitters visibly, and then says no.

"Do you want to have plans for tonight?" -Kasumi, whose social has been drained to two
"It would depend on the plan."
"Perhaps a pleasant dinner to sort things out?" -Cai Wen

She twitches, and then agrees that dinner would be very nice. Cai Wen suggests an elegant restaurant in the Harbor, where everyone will be heading to accomplish the plots.

Xian, meanwhile, is concerned over the twitches, and concludes that this is the result of her having multiple partially conflicting externally imposed psych lims; she warns Cai Wen about this.

Yanyu briefs Merit on the sort of things one might want to know about personality when it comes to matchmaking, and then Merit asks for a background check on Zenko, to the extent that the White Lotus can tell about those things. In their general horoscopes, Ci-xi tends towards recklessness, and her strength is vision; Zenko's flaw is unwillingness to take risks and his strength is consistency.

Background check: Zenko has worked his way up through the guild the long hard way - no corners cut, no preferential treatment or connections. He was the assumed shoo-in candidate for guildmaster, and definitely the favored of the older masters, until Thien Ci-Xi jumped into the race recently. He is the archetype of "his job is his life", with not much romance in the past, and none recently. He's in his late thirties, but comes across as older, and has kind of always been "old".

Eternal Redoubt arrives, with the jade orb from Verity. He is apparently the "courier". He briefs Shen-Ji, who then warns the party to not touch the orb with bare skin - it may copy memories, and certainly emotions, so if there are things they don't want the Eternal Braid to know, they shouldn't touch it and let any memories be copied. Also, getting more successes is a lot better than getting five, which is only barely adequate. Verity may have been sandbagging.

Carrying Out

The group heads out of Tahiti, looking for people nearby first to test out the jade orb on, before heading south to the Harbor. Merit looks up an old buddy who deals with wounded soldiers, and locates a Dragon Army hospital in the Port of Propitious Voyage. There is no one there who is just down on hit points sufficient to be hit with some first aid, but there is someone who has been bitten by a Northern vampire and is down on long-term body damage. Merit disguises himself as "Li Hut", an arrogant doctor who doesn't believe in lupus, and prescribes a new treatment for the soldier to try to rebuild the stats after passing the soldier his orb of healing. He will have to return later to deal with the "after" measurement, though.

Class Verb Number
Soldier Healed 18 (pending)

The group heads to the Harbor next; the evening holds the "debutante" party, an apothecaries' pre-election mixer, and Cai Wen's dinner with the Woman of Mystery. The debutante party is one of the few high society parties which does not have a party mechanic. (Apparently junior house members aren’t expected to master the rigors of the party mechanic on their first outing.)

Pre-Party Mysteries

Cai Wen's date is still in her dark silks and veil, though she is dressed for a night out with jewelry now. Cai Wen does his best to avoid pushing any of her buttons by asking for decisions; he asks questions about her rather than her job and her patron. He gets the feeling that underneath a smooth and pleasant surface, there is a bottomless inferno, very carefully controlled. He checks the score and sees:

Cai Wen: 3
Li Merit: 1
Imperial Alchemist: 4
this section torn off and burned out

After pondering this and his conversation for a bit, he decides that she is no longer Ming I, but is instead (yet) Nameless, and this is a second chance for her to decide who she is becoming.

Xian and Yanyu head to the Apothecaries' Guild; Miura Zenko is holding court in one office, and Thien Ci-Xi is in another. They drift around Ci-Xi's office without saying anything, and Yanyu thinks there's something familiar about Ci-Xi, though she doesn't think the woman is someone she has met before. Xian eyes her carefully, but she doesn't seem familiar to Xian.

On the other side of the guild hall, the refreshments for the mixer are being planned. However, both Xian and Yanyu find it odd that there will be nothing other than particularly bland crackers - not even tea!

With Yanyu's over-thirty status (go talisman!) in play, they can request a private meeting with Zenko. Yanyu instructs Xian to keep talking to Zenko to confuse him long enough for Yanyu to catalogue his stars and determine what she can. Zenko initially looks a little puzzled by Xian, but then shakes his head and seems to be deciding to not worry about whatever it is. Yanyu introduces them as observers from the House of Exuberant Interference, checking about potential interference with the election. Zenko says that no direct influence on the election is permissible, though they can of course talk to everyone if they like. Xian draws him out into talking about conservative principles - he launches into a lecture about how conservative principles are part of the fundamental nature of the apothecary trade - the recipes must be followed precisely. This new-fangled idea that apprentices can produce mass quantities of potions is madness, and runs counter to the whole idea of individual hand-crafted mastery. Xian sympathizes with the problems inherent in people playing with magical medicine who don't understand what they're doing - there was that snake oil salesman years ago, who had been given insufficient instructions by a healer, and it led to several accidental deaths.

Yanyu concludes that a match between Zenko and Ci-Xi would cause great personal growth, but minor professional decline, for both of them, and starts helping direct the conversation, especially once Zenko starts shouting directly at Xian about her heedless charge into the unknown.

"Young people nowadays! Like I've told you a thousand times... er, excuse me, I was confused. " -Zenko

Yanyu leads Zenko towards a theory that the folly of youth might be something that one might grow out of. She astrologically suppresses the "resistance to change" part of his horoscope, and then hits him with twenty-five persuasion successes towards "the only way to get her to grow in the right direction is to take her in hand yourself - marry her, you fool!" Zenko can see how that might be a good idea, in theory, but Ci-Xi would never agree to it. Ah, did Yanyu mention that she was a master matchmaker? No, she had not. She assures him it will not be a problem.

Meanwhile, Shen-Ji investigates the hair sticks - they appear to be built such that when they are broken, a small wind carries the words to a designated recipient.

Merit finds an old buddy who can turn up a merchant making poor investment choices. He finds one, who is too intent on investing money in his personal favorite house, the House of Quiet Concordance, but they are not the fastest money-maker in the Empire. Merit gives the merchant a crash course in the Merit Trading Strategy, with the suggestion that he can give some of the increased profit to the House of Quiet Concordance in thanks for their past services to his grandmother.

"There's no profit in being there just in case they need you." -Merit
Class Verb Number
Soldier Healed 18 (pending)
Merchant Enhanced 17 (pending)

Parties at Parties

Everyone regroups, and Cai Wen tells his companions about the weird Cai Wen / Alchemist scoreboard for Nameless. Possibly the combination of Cai Wen's three karma and the Alchemist's four (possible) karma hit her with a seven karma event and triggered a new concept. Merit ponders what his (crossed out) one point might have been - well, the first time Ming I met the party, she seemed to be more interested in Merit, before Cai Wen pounced on her. Could that be why?

More importantly, does this mean that it is the Alchemist's plan to get these two married? If so, does that mean the party should thwart it? Why would that be his plan? What does it all mean? Could this let someone steal the Apothecary's Guild outright? Will this take rivals for the Alchemist off the board for the far future? He does make long plays, so it's possible. But no matter how much they ponder the politics of the guild, they can't tie it clearly to anything the Marked want to do. Could this be Ming I's personal plot instead? Should they assume that it's just a coincidence that Thien Ci-Xi has the same family name as Xian? Not that Xian knew what her family name was until she died. Hmm.

A dossier on Chow Niu-Niu shows up for Merit: she's the daughter of Lady Chow, being groomed for eventual power. She currently negotiates with minor houses and minor members of major houses, and is known to be very persnickety about following the rules. If you are signing four copies of a document, you have to read all four copies, that sort of thing.

Since both parties are at the same time, the group has to split. Xian really wants to go to the apothecary mixer with Yanyu and Kasumi, but everyone else is concerned that Xian is the best at talking Niu-Niu into embarrassing herself. Is it that Xian is concerned Yanyu will run amok without Xian's tempering supervision? No, that isn't it.

"This is a straightforward slip something into a drink mission, so something can only go terribly wrong." -Kasumi
"In the event of a party disaster, Shen-Ji setting things on fire will not help."
"Well, the debutante ball is more about screwing things up than being constructive. You play to your strengths." -Shen-Ji

The group finally divides:

  • Apothecary Mixer: Kasumi, Yanyu and Merit
  • House of Judicious Increase party: Cai Wen, Xian, and Shen-Ji, plus the jade orb

Apothecary Mixer

The refreshments at the mixer prove to be the extra-bland crackers, and a table full of single drinks of colored liquids that no one is taking. The conservative half of the party seems to think that the table is an abomination, but the other half is looking towards the table as if it might be fun to have something to drink. Occasionally someone edges towards the drinks table, but is driven off by the strong glares of Zenko's faction. Merit (disguised again as Li Hut) takes a cracker and looks for someone's drink to drop it into, but no one has drinks. However, once he tastes the cracker, he realizes that it is in fact a marvel - no poison in the world could be covered up by the taste of this cracker.

Yanyu talks to Zenko, and commiserates with him about the crazed disrespect for tradition that the drinks table indicates. However, she and Merit suggest that he let them hang themselves with their own rope so that they can see why the traditions are important.

"You make potions?" -Yanyu
"And tinctures and elixirs. And we know the difference between those words!" -Zenko
"If you let them have their way, then surely someone will have their drink spiked."
" I take your meaning!"

The party continues, and eventually Merit's informant in the guild warns him to make sure to not drink the drinks.

"At least eight different people spiked them. I'm not even sure which is which any more."

Yanyu puts the blessing of the Butterfly on the mixer.

"For when you don't really know what's going on but you want to screw the Alchemist."

Chatting around, Merit learns that earlier there had been a moderate candidate, Master Xin, but things got too polarized and he was left behind in the growing philosophical schism. Yanyu talks to Master Xin, and determines that he is Fox-aspected. He predicts that it will be bitter vitriol all the way, and a nearly even split; once someone wins, the rift will never heal. She tries to find out about his backers, but he is not very forthcoming. He does mention that he had some clients who donated generously, and all the same amounts, but it didn't end up mattering once the polarizing happened.

At this point, the liberals have been edging towards the drinks table again, and the conservatives aren't glaring them away, but nobody is drinking anything. Merit picks up a wine glass and starts pouring a bit from the other drinks into it, by way of encouragement, and tries to badger a conservative into drinking some, but that's not happening.

"What does it do, do you think?" -Merit
"I wouldn't know, without study and experimentation."
"But it will probably do something."
" Yup, it'll probably do something."

Merit castles his armor for the chi armor before drinking his ridiculously perilous beverage, but it turns out that even magical armor doesn't protect you from drinking. He loses a health, a charisma, and can see strange auras now (so he can spot Kasumi).

Ci-Xi is brandishing her drink at Zenko, in one of their arguments, but he refuses to drink it. Kasumi stealthily adds the love potion to it, and Ci-Xi drinks it in demonstration to Zenko. Enough people are drinking crazy beverages that the party is starting to become a lot more interesting. Some people are falling asleep, but others are having fun. Ci-Xi starts to get more passionate in her argument with Zenko - it was all for him! - and Yanyu starts hinting to him that it is Time To Take Things In Hand. He can clearly tell what just happened, but he cannot bring himself to propose marriage to someone under the effect of a love potion. He grabs her drink, finishes it, and proposes. Merit swoops in to assure them that the wedding will ready for tomorrow. This comes as a surprise to them, but they're both smitten, so it seems like a good idea.


Debutante Party

The party at the House of Judicious Increase has a number of young nobles, including a prince (not the heir) from the House of Benevolent Oversight. Cai Wen chats with him, and he mentions hoping to someday ride the Thousand-Li horse. Chow Niu-Niu has a delightful little laugh, though it sounds exactly the same each time. This party does have both drinks and snacks being served, so it's not as odd as the apothecary mixer.

Shen-Ji wanders nonchalantly into the kitchen, looking for something like a large cake to have Niu-Niu fall into, but the snacks are generally all small things. The servants intercept him, and when he says he's just looking for somewhere to have some time to himself, they herd him to the library rather than the kitchen. Cai Wen asks a servant to find him some formal gloves, and then heads to chat with the prince about horses.

"I'm doing a favor for a sorcerer friend... can you hold this orb while I tell you a story?" -Cai Wen

The prince is a little dubious about the orb - is it a scryguard? Cai Wen admits that it isn't. The prince says if Cai Wen will hold it first, he'll go along with the plan. Cai Wen stalls for a moment, and then agrees, and then tells the prince everything he can think of about the Horse Spirit's play to get in the cycle.

"He won't believe you."
"Just because it's never happened doesn't mean it can't happen."
"That's usually how it goes."
"It's not lupus! It's never been lupus!" -Li Hut
Class Verb Number
Soldier Healed 18 (pending)
Merchant Enhanced 17 (pending)
Royal Enlightened 11

Xian plants a thought in Niu Niu's mind that the king's son is a good friend of Liet, and then goes to start working her wiles on Niu Niu, asking about the order of precedence of the Great Houses. Well, the House of Benevolent Oversight is first, obviously, but after that is the House of Judicious Increase, and beyond that, it depends on the relative stats. Xian notes that the order of introduction of the houses at the party was a little different - the House of Beneficent Travel came second. Since there isn't an official party mechanic, then isn't it even more important that protocol be followed for everything else? Does the House of Benevolent Oversight not think that the House of Judicious Increase is actually second? Or is this an official snub?

"If you let it slide, that could be seen as gracious, but it also could be seen as weakness. Or... ignorance of protocol." -Xian

Goaded so expertly, Niu Niu marches up to the prince and registers her official protest about the insult. The prince is baffled - it was just in alphabetical order!

"But... but you started with the House of Bene... but... er."

She complains one last time, and then leaves in embarrassment..

The main goal is accomplished, so that just leaves the mission for Hsu Verity and Eternal Redoubt.

Cai Wen looks for the most wallflower-ish of the nobles, and convinces her to join him in a nook for some canoodling. But... he has this thing, that he thinks that women holding little jade orbs are really really sexy. Once the GMs have picked themselves off the floor, that manages to work.

"The most sexy word a man can say is 'passport'?"
Class Verb Number
Soldier Healed 18 (pending)
Merchant Enhanced 17 (pending)
Royal Enlightened 11
Noble Seduced 18

Loose Ends

That's about all that can be accomplished at the party, so Yanyu and Merit head into emergency wedding planning mode, and Kasumi and Shen-Ji go trolling for a criminal to mug. Shen-Ji puts a metal lattice around the orb so that he can grab it with his metal sorcery, and then they find an area of town said to be popular with the Circle of Spite. Shen-Ji makes an acting roll to seem like an old drunk with a valuable piece of jade, and after he wanders around enough, he draws the attention of a tong street gang which demands the orb. He hams up his piteous predicament for a bit and then hands it over, which is instantly followed by Kasumi decloaking and stabbing the mugger.

"If we kill this one, we'll just get another." -Kasumi
Class Verb Number
Soldier Healed 18 (pending)
Merchant Enhanced 17 (pending)
Royal Enlightened 11
Noble Seduced 18
Criminal Injured 16

She doesn't kill him, and more of a combat ensues, but after some walls of iron and nose-grabs, the muggers break and flee. Kasumi and Shen-Ji consider going to find some more muggers, as this was kind of fun, but it's getting late.

Meanwhile, Yanyu and Merit consider wedding plans. The main things that will be necessary, other than the bride and groom, are an officiant, a venue, and a member of the bride's family. It's tempting to try to use Xian, but given that Ci-Xi doesn't seem to know her, it probably won't fly. Yanyu checks with Ci-Xi, and learns that her older brother lives in the city, and then heads to the brother's house to imperiously inform the servants that she will be back to see the master at dawn.

For the list of people, that leaves a Guilder, an Urchin, and a Peasant to be diminished, confused, or discouraged.

The next morning, Xian finds a peasant setting up to sell his farm goods, and confuses him direly regarding what sort of food one eats and whether the horses eat the food or are eaten and what that all has to do with the orb he is holding.

Class Verb Number
Soldier Healed 18 (pending)
Merchant Enhanced 17 (pending)
Royal Enlightened 11
Noble Seduced 18
Criminal Injured 16
Peasant Confused 19

Yanyu returns to Elder Brother's house (his name is Thien Jin), and explains that Ci-Xi is getting married.

"Thank you for bringing this to me! I will put a stop to this!" -Jin
"Wait, why? " -Yanyu
"She wasn't getting married yesterday. " -Jin

As it turns out, Yanyu is really very good at persuading people into weddings, and the thirty-plus status doesn't hurt, so Thien Jin is in short order persuaded to come along to the wedding, which has been all paid for by Mysterious Benefactors, and doesn’t even require a dowry from his house!

Merit shows up, still as "Li Hut". Yanyu has already introduced herself as the official matchmaker she is, and Kasumi is never seen when she doesn't want to be. Xian dithers about whether to be in disguise.

"You could always present yourself later, not in disguise, when it's not connected to a dubious wedding."
"I figure that I should own up to any dubious weddings I'm connected to. Since this is one." -Xian

She dresses in her official Wandering Path robes, and everyone is briefly startled to recall that she is a priest. Merit arranges to have bland crackers (though only normal bland crackers, not the amazing no-poison crackers) and some tastier food for the reception. And then, the wedding! At the "speak now or forever hold your peace" bit, there is some muttering, but nobody actually speaks.

At the reception, one of Ci-Xu's friends wanders up to Xian.

"I'm sorry, I didn't realize that Ci-Xi had a... daughter? sister? er, who are you?"
"I am Xian."
"Ah. Wandering Path. Very respectable."

Thien Jin doesn't seem to notice Xian particularly, but the officiant asks if Xian wants to come to the ancestor offering fire. She declines. Eventually, Yanyu takes the bait and senses the familial connection between the three Thiens. She looks a bit unsettled.

"Wait, you have that? You've had that for the past six hours?" -Xian

Only two experimental subjects to go! "Li Hut" corners a conservative apothecary, and foists the orb on him.

"Hold this!"
"YOU FOOL! Do you know nothing about jade-based mineral poisons?"
"What? Aah!"

Merit lectures the guilder about mineral poisons and generally badgers him into feeling foolish.

Class Verb Number
Soldier Healed 18 (pending)
Merchant Enhanced 17 (pending)
Royal Enlightened 11
Noble Seduced 18
Criminal Injured 16
Peasant Confused 19
Guilder Diminished 17

Finally, the group finds an urchin named Hu, in order to discourage them from a future life of crime. The urchin starts by trying to run off with the jade orb, but Cai Wen demonstrates the amazing grabby powers that the Serpent Talisman gives him, and fetches him back.

Xian hits him with a persuasion hammer.

"You may not have been born to noble birth, or wealth. But nobody cares. You play the hand you're dealt. And there will be no justice for you in the afterlife either, because nobody teaches bureaucracy to urchins." -Xian
Class Verb Number
Soldier Healed 18 (pending)
Merchant Enhanced 17 (pending)
Royal Enlightened 11
Noble Seduced 18
Criminal Injured 16
Peasant Confused 19
Guilder Diminished 17
Urchin Discouraged 15

After that, Xian hits him with Sap Confidence, which has been Northern-ified to cause risky behavior instead of depression, and convinces him to take his destiny into his own hands, and Kasumi gives him a li to help. (Someday in another cycle or two, maybe he'll be the next Lucky Chang.)

The group decides that the 11 successes for "Enlighten Noble" isn't so great, so they go back to tell the prince about Wolf as well. Pao manages to overly Phoenix-ify Shen-Ji's impression on the jade orb, and the prince is duly enlightened.

The only issues left are that two are still pending and need to be checked back with for the "after" step, and that it isn't completely clear whether the criminal and the guilder are local. Shen-Ji can't tell from the orb - it doesn't seem to be detecting that specifically.

Merit checks back in with the merchant, who seems a bit happier now that he has a new investment strategy.

Class Verb Number
Soldier Healed 18 (pending)
Merchant Enhanced 17
Royal Enlightened 19
Noble Seduced 18
Criminal Injured 16
Peasant Confused 19
Guilder Diminished 17
Urchin Discouraged 15

Nameless shows up again - she is satisfied with their side of the agreement. Do they wish a favor from her patron, or something else? The group is concerned about how this will affect her big change, so they ask her to come back in half an hour.

Merit inquires if anyone is in town regarding Nameless's changing nature. Just Cai Wen and Nameless and the two apothecaries and Master Xin. Hmm. "Master Xin" is an interesting one on that list.

Cai Wen brings Nameless and Xian to the Hidden Orchid to talk to Madame Song.

"She thinks that it's weird that you're bringing Xian on your date, and even odder that it's going to the Flower House."

Madame Song thinks that the three points of leverage Cai Wen feels are available in this mechanic are the hair sticks. Nameless's problem is likely of concept - is she Cai Wen's moll, or is she the Alchemist's apprentice? She is a reasonably stable person either way. Depending on what is done with the hair sticks, they could be used to tilt her towards Cai Wen or towards the Alchemist. Xian is concerned - she would like a concept that doesn't have anyone else as part of it, but there doesn't seem to be a clear way to progress there. They thank Madame Song and head away again.

Cai Wen breaks a hair stick to ask Nameless for a dance with him, near a street musician, and she happily does so. That puts the score as even:

Cai Wen: 4
Li Merit: 1
Imperial Alchemist: 4
this section torn off and burned out

He asks her what he should do with the other two, and she suggests that if he doesn’t want to use them, he give them to her.

"It's always useful to have a couple of wishes in my back pocket."

Both Cai Wen and Xian are concerned that if she uses the "wishes" for Alchemist-ish things, it will tilt her back that way, but she says it will depend on what she asks for, and since they've decided in favor of free will, Cai Wen decides that refusing to give her the sticks that control her destiny seems like poor form.

Once the musician packs up for the night, Nameless says she has to head back again, and takes her leave. The party heads north, where they check in with the wounded soldier (who feels much better).

Class Verb Number
Soldier Healed 18
Merchant Enhanced 17
Royal Enlightened 19
Noble Seduced 18
Criminal Injured 16
Peasant Confused 19
Guilder Diminished 17
Urchin Discouraged 15

They meet up with Eternal Redoubt to brief him on the listing of targets and verbs, and note that the prince of Benevolent Oversight is in there twice. He says to let he and Verity know when they need a ritual step done, and they'll take care of it.

Liet is also pleased with her results. Does the House of Exuberant Interference have an official price list for their services yet? They tell her they're filing for a matchmaking monopoly, which isn't quite what she needs most, but she thinks that's interesting.

Rumor has it that Ci-Xi and Zenko have had their first fight, but are working though it, and the new guildmaster of the Apothecaries' Guild, Master Xin, assures everyone that his tenure will be the soul of moderation.


  • The Triumph of Law is performed.