Whatever Happened to the Daughter of the Sun?
|"O, swear not by the moon, th' inconstant moon..."|| The run takes place on the Day of the Early Butterfly in the Month of the Crane in the Year of the Dog of the Fourth Treaty of Houses|
The run takes place in various places, but mostly in the Halls of Moonlight.
Pagoda One: Tahiti
Back in Tahiti, Takanata, Xian, Cai Wen, and Master Zhou wonder what happened to the Daughter of the Sun. In the final pulling of loose ends before the battle with the North, she went to the Moon to accomplish a task for the Craneslake Heights, and has not yet returned. Xian notes that she herself has not gone to the Pagoda of the Gentle Admonishers to check, as she doesn't want to visit her family until she is not a horse.
Haring off to the Moon could be a wild goose chase, though, if she finished her task and vanished while returning. Perhaps Willow could help figure that out, by examining the Craneslake mechanics. (At the time, Chochiro said that the Daughter of the Sun went to the Moon to negotiate the mechanic's ending time, and that she must have succeeded because the mechanic ended - but then she didn't return to spend the wild points, which the party did instead.)
Cai Wen meets Willow for lunch. She is intrigued by the changes in the Arcade/Coast, but Cai Wen has some business to suggest as well. Willow does think that whatever the Countess was doing on the Moon did get done. So - perhaps they should visit the Pagoda instead.
Pagoda Two: Formerly known as the Ice Pagoda
When the group arrives at the Pagoda of the Gentle Admonishers, some construction has taken place. There is a long garden, and an entirely new building at the other end. It is wider and less tall than the pagoda, but of the same order of importance, architecturally speaking. The garden ties them together as an alliance of two sovereign powers, and the streams flowing back and forth in the garden indicate unity, sharing of fortunes, and destiny, in subtle symbolism.
Xian goes in to ask some pointed questions.
- "We never had neighbors. Why do we have neighbors?" -Xian
Her sisters answer that the Order is beginning to participate more in the high level concerns, not just low level mocking.
- "That's going to be a tough habit to break."
The other building is the headquarters of her Soon To Be Serene Majesty, Chochiro the First.
- "I'm working on the 'serene' part. Serene is not one of her strengths."
Cai Wen ponders the imperial scoreboard, and thinks that the grounds count towards Omens of Thrones, but also presage the support of the nobility.
Master Zhou looks around with worldwalking and worldsight, looking for influence/connection to the Moon and the Sun. The first obvious thing is that the Moon holds no sway at all - even under cover of darkness, you could tell secrets here that the moon wouldn't hear. The Sun, however, is melancholy.
Takanata says he was thinking of dreamwalking to the Countess, and Xian agrees to come with him. In the dream, Xian is a horse, and Takanata rides to the pagoda, alone in the landscape. High above the pagoda is the Moon, and it is clear that the pagoda is merely a stop along the way to meet the Daughter of the Sun at the Moon.
When Xian and Takanata, in the dream, enter the pagoda, they see Cai Wen and Willow plotting and scheming to take over the world, and Master Yang is setting up a deathtrap around their bodies. The sisters of the Order are sweeping and polishing, but stop at the pair's entry.
- "What brings you here?"
- "Looking for family." -Xian
- "Family is important. Perhaps you should seek it." -a sister, pointing upwards
The dream riders ride up the moonbeam until they reach the gate of the Moon's garden. There are a pair of children playing with a ball, but one of them tells Takanata that he is too early. The other disagrees - Uncle Taka can go wherever he wants. Ah - they look to be twins, but they have a lot more weirdness to them than most people do. Like a light and dark mirror.
- "Was there somewhere we were supposed to stop?" -Takanata
- "Normally you come with your friends." -first twin
- "But we could play a game." -second twin
The omens clearly indicate that it is inappropriate to be here, so they head back to their dreaming bodies and wake.
Pagoda Three: White Pagoda
All the indications and omens are that the party should proceed to the Moon, so they head to the White Pagoda. No, not out of sheer perversity, but because it is a place of worldwalking. Things there seem peaceful and well-ordered.
- "Has someone been redecorating?" -Master Zhou
- "Po has been gone for a time." -Takanata
- "He has. He said he had some things to do." -Yanzi
Apparently, Po headed off on an errand as soon as chapter end was finished, and things have been overflowing with inner peace ever since.
Master Zhou teaches Dhang Kuriko the Phoenix kung fu shtick, as he promised Phoenix, and learns something useful. Well, actually, he learns that she is not the only Wu Xing - he already knew that, but it is pretty much at the top of things that strange omeny detect modes notice.
Pagoda Four: House of the Moon
Meditation and then worldwalking proceed smoothly (though Master Yang dozes off for a bit), and then they are at the Gates of the moon, where Yin-Xiang lets them in. He seems surprisingly cheery, and offers them tea.
- "Would you like the extra calming tea?"
- "We are looking for the Daughter of the Sun."
- "Oh, she was here a while ago. I had more tea then."
The Son of the Moon explains that from this entrance you can easily get to the family wing, and the Halls of Moonlight. But nobody wants to go to the Halls of Moonlight, surely. At least, certainly, he doesn't want to go there.
Those who know things recall: the geography of the Moon is not fixed. The Halls of Moonlight are here when they are here - and they are here now. The moon is less direct than the Sun - everything is reflected, seen imperfectly. The Halls of Moonlight are a bit like the Shoals of Insight on the Sun, but less clear: more clue, less answer.
Yin-Xiang notes that when he was younger, he spent all his time there.
- "Fascinating stuff. Not frustrating at all. "
Anyway, he agrees that if they really want he could show them around, and the group heads into the Halls.
Some rules begin to clarify.
- Clues cost 2, 5, or 8 points.
- Depending on the phase of the moon in the room, only those with the most, least, or in-between numbers of points can buy clues.
- Clues may only be bought by those who interact with rooms to earn points (which come as 1, 3, or 5 points).
The Stone Garden is a formal, meditative place. Yin-Xiang notes that coming in while drinking only leads to sorrow.
Takanata, Cai Wen, and Master Zhou meditate, and seem to hear a whisper in the stillness: "Speak your promise"
Takanata promises to care for Yanyu's children as his family. ("I hear I am their uncle"). He earns 5 points. Cai Wen wonders to Willow if the promise has to be moon-relevant. Willow doesn't think so, but thinks the points earned depend on how binding or impressive the promise is, and that might be moon-relevant.
Xian promises to try to avoid stepping on frogs, which earns her a point. And Cai Wen promises to deal even handedly whenever he mediates a negotiation, splitting the difference for 3 points.
- "But I'm winning as far as the ROI goes." -Xian
Master Zhou notes that promises made by the moon are easiest made and easiest broken, and promises to help return Dragon to the Cycle. He gets a point.
The sitting room is a place of quiet contemplation. The silence stretches, and stretches, and stretches, until Shen-Ji makes a random comment and gets a point.
Takanata spends five points for a clue to the Daughter or the Sun - and then realizes he could instead spend them on a clue to the proper resolution of the Forest of Chin's ghosts. He stays on target, and notes that she is in one of the rooms in the Halls of Moonlight.
The Moon's bath house is relaxing and steamy, and people relax enough to admit something to the person on their left.
Cai Wen tells Willow his backstory.
- "I was just a drifter from a small fishing village that we used to nickname the Harbor of Regrettable Situations. Madame Song picked me out for reasons I still don't understand and started explaining things to me."
He spends two points to get a clue about the Daughter of the Sun or Maku's current plan. Staying on target, he learns that the Daughter of the Sun is currently annoyed.
Takanata admits to Shen-Ji that he actually finds wolves rather scary, and Xian admits to Takanata that if it came down to Xiao Fa and Chochiro, she isn't sure which side she'd be on.
Master Zhou admits to Yin-Xiang that he wishes to go into the Sands of Blood to fight with Tiger, but fears Tiger would slay him outright. Yin-Xiang nods in understanding.
- "Yeah, I could probably take him. It turns out I'm probably pretty arrogant." -Yin-Xiang, earning one point for the admission that surprises nobody.
Shen-Ji admits to Master Zhou:
- "I think it's always been difficult for me to connect with people, because my sister and I are orphaned. We never knew what happened to our parents, and that sense of abandonment has been with me ever since."
The greenhouse is very full of plants of all descriptions, growing surprisingly well in the moonlight.
Cai Wen looks for the rarest flower he can think of, leading to a flower knowledge throwdown with Shen-Ji. Cai Wen finds a moon orchid, the petals of which can be ground into an aphrodisiac and Shen-Ji finds a mothflower, which can be brewed into a tea enabling the spirit to become untethered from the body. Shen-Ji takes a cutting from the moth flower as a present for Master Zhou.
- "We should bring Shen-Ji here more often. He has abandonment issues, he gives people presents." -Xian
Takanata cuts some bamboo to turn it into a set of moon-tuned I ching reeds, and Cai Wen takes the Moon Orchid back for "study". Xian takes a cutting from a Jade Peach tree, like those that grow only in the Jade District gardens - it could become an omen of thrones.
In the servant's quarters, anyone may ask a favor of the character to your right to earn points.
- "Can you please not spend karma on making Lucky Chang less of a legitimate target in the future?" -Cai Wen to Takanata
Shen-Ji asks the Son of the Moon to ask his mother to be a character reference in the event that Shen-Ji becomes a southern god and wants to visit.
Takanata asks Shen-Ji to teach him the Mask Emotions shtick, and Master Zhou asks Willow for assistance in designing the Crane kung fu mechanic.
Master Zhou spends 5 to get a clue about the Daughter of the Sun or the correct way to repair Huan Ken, and he falls for the temptation: Professor Huan Ken needs to actively reject the Spider.
Cai Wen spends 8 (no, 7, as resisting temptation is making it cheaper) to get a hint about the Daughter of the Sun or the final confrontation between the Light and the Dark. Staying on target, he learns that she is spending more time playing with the puzzles, since trying to escape hasn't worked.
- "You see how easy it is to get diverted?" -Yin-Xiang
Cai Wen asks Willow what the endgame is, and Willow thinks it is whether they rescue her or not.
In the wine cellar, those who choose may get drunk enough to tell the one to their right what they appreciate most. Takanata tells the Son of the Moon how much he appreciates how fervently Yin-Xiang defends his family. (The wine puts him at -1 skill thereafter).
Shen-Ji spends 8 to get a hint about lost sources of primal power in the Empire. He sees a vision of a set of ruins, that he recognizes as the House of Jade. Takanata gets a clue about the Daughter of the Sun, and learns that her divinations indicate that this is all Takanata's fault.
Interpreting the omens on that is particularly difficult, because portents and omens are so strong here, but something he did has greater force here.
This room is full of various souvenirs of victories, many of them Yin-Xiang's. This is a room he is particularly fond of, and he happily points out the trophies from his defeat of the Purple Wyrm. Takanata puts down his Ice Wyrm tooth, and they bond over shared disapproval of great wyrms.
Cai Wen leaves a vote from the Foxruns regent, minted during the renaming run, and notes it as "a vintage proxy from a renamed country". The description does not impress Yin-Xiang until Xian rephrases it as "He destroyed a country and made a new one."
Takanata gets a hint about the Daughter or the Sun, though he is sorely tempted by a hint about opening the door behind the chair in the Jade Palace.
- "There is not a viable path for her to get out, and you are creating the path."
Shen-Ji leaves behind the Notebook of Mu of Mad, as a trophy of his destruction of that long-ago necromancer.
Cai Wen resists getting a hint about Bao's current peril, and learns that the Daughter of the Sun is getting more angry at the party the longer she is trapped here.
The shadows are deep and dark, and it is easy for any one to pretend that they are the only one here.
- "Quietly, in solitude, make a wish."
Cai Wen wishes to make Three Piers a place of power and an interesting place in the world, without giving up human agency. Shen-Ji wishes for Jia Jia to be happy. Xian wishes to find the Daughter of the Sun very soon before she gets any angrier, and Master Zhou wishes to learn all the ultimate methods of kung fu, for all the aspects.
- "Give your favorite recipe to the cook, and tell them where you had it and why it was memorable"
Master Zhou tells the cook about the crystal dumplings he ate when he first earned his master rank - they were presented to him after his victory bout.
Xian tells the cook about the last meal she had before she met Cai Wen, Su Yin, Wei Han.
- "That was the last meal I had by myself, when I was alone." -Xian
Cai Wen tells the cook about the tea Chashui made for the opening of the Cup of Five virtues.
Shen-Ji, breaking form a bit, gives the cook the set of potholders he used to hold Pao's egg, before he found his closest friend.
Cai Wen uses a cheat to get a hint about Maku's plan.
- "Maku is ranked sixth among the Marked. In the following chapter, if he rolls a 6 at the beginning of the run, he will attempt to kill one of you."
Xian gets a hint about the Daughter of the Sun (though the hint about Anansi, enemy of both Coyote and Spider, is tempting). She is "blocked".
The orrery is complex and room-sized, and people may choose to set the date for the most significant milestone of their lives.
Master Zhou sets the date to be the beginning of the run, when he first appeared on the Butterfly Isle and his aspect changed. A light blinks briefly next to a button labeled "Modify" but he declines to press it and the light fades again.
- "You can roll with natural philosophy but we cannot be held responsible for the consequences." -Mike
- "That's obviously not true." -Cael
Shen-Ji sets the orrery to the day he was told to become a god to truly understand magic. The limbs and circles of the orrery spin and the "Modify" light flashes again, but Shen-Ji also declines to press it.
Cai Wen puts in the day that Madame Song gave him the instructions to take down Lucky Chang.
- "I am not falling for this a second time. Third or fourth time." -Yin-Xiang, sipping his tea
Xian sets the date to be the Day of the Rising Fox in the Month of the Fox in the first Year of the Fox since the Restoration of the Imperial Throne. That takes a roll, but the orrery moves. The light flashes this time next to a button labeled "Ordain" and she presses it. There is a deep chiming sound, and one of the spheres moves ever so slightly.
Takanata immediately uses "vision of the future" on Xian, and sees Xian in uncharacteristically fancy dress, kneeling on the floor in obeisance. She raises her head and speaks vehemently and passionately, and then kneels in respect again. There is a long, tense pause, and then a piece of paper drifts in front of her, bearing the stamp "Pardoned." (A bit later, Xian's interesting factoid clarifies: the pardon is not for her).
Shen-Ji spends some points and gets a clue: Someone in the orrery room is preventing the Daughter of the Sun from leaving.
Xian and Takanata and some Interpret Omens finally put it together - the severing that Takanata did between them is turned up extra-high on the Moon, and they can't come near each other. There is only one path out, and as long as the Son of the Moon is on it, the Daughter of the Sun can't leave.
The group backtracks to the conservatory, and then heads in another direction.
The party may write three haiku about battles of the north.
Master Zhou writes:
Mortals fall'n in snow
Are all that remains behind
When Spirits battle
Daizhou peasants and proxies
Blood leaks onto sand
Fleeing fire in the winter
Donkirku sets sail.
Horsemen of Folly
Bunglers and incompetents
Slipping on life's ice
Takanata gets an extra clue about the doings of Toro's Guy, who is trying to figure out how Coyote's Guy got slipped into the Marked. This seems remarkably well-informed for Toro (though Cheon Soo Mi has always seemed quite a bit more subtle than Toro).
Gallery of Mirrors
Looking in the mirror, people see what might be a true reflection of themselves, and flinch away.
Takanata sees himself taking down the prince; Master Zhou sees himself beating Xiao Fa with a stick.
Xian sees a montage: talking to the Bandits of the Double Caldera, talking to the Monkey King telling him to go big or go home, and going around in disguise telling the people of Daizhou to bleed and die, as a diversion for the party's operations.
Cai Wen sees himself in a casino in the golden coast, going through as a big roller casually wiping out small players without even noticing it.
From there, the group has found another exit, and can leave while the Daughter of the Sun leaves along the original path.
Cai Wen takes his and Willow's points home, which he can do for a karma.
Before leaving, Xian wants to know what is up about the tea of calming.
- "Sometimes your pregnant wife is a werewolf and trapped in a timestream of dangerousness, getting herself nearly killed. One option is to try to destroy the root of the problem to keep her safe. The other option is to drink some more tea."