Whatever Happened to the Path of Knowledge?

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"Memory is man's greatest friend and worst enemy." The run takes place on the Day of the Late Fox 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 around the Empire

Previous Run

Various folk drink tea in the Tahiti sunroom, and ponder, as one does, whatever happened to the Path of Knowledge? Takanata thinks perhaps the party suggested that he travel to the south. Or maybe he was looking for the Tortoise Talisman? In any event, he has not been seen for some time.

Merit contemplates the question with KS: Run History and thinks that while there was the option of sending him to find the Talisman of the Tortoise, Takanata had vetoed that because the party believes Autumn Rose has it and Takanata doesn't want to make an enemy of her again. Instead, it was suggested that he find the Secret Tortoise Cannot Know (which, the party knows, is that Spider is really Aku).

Merit asks for a dossier on the Path of Knowledge. Much of it is already known, but it notes that he was last seen in Butterfly Meadows searching out the Artisan of Hidden Treasures. Takanata recalls this title - there has been an Artisan of Hidden Treasures for at least a hundred and fifty years, but it is a position rather than a single person. The Artisan is said to be incredibly honorable, and takes commissions only by referral. He provides "artisanal solutions to problems of physical security".

As there is not yet a water gate in the Butterfly Meadows, the party takes a leisurely and completely unmemorable boat trip to the island.

Butterfly Meadows

Takanata checks with Tokai Naomi, as the most likely to be familiar with the Artisan, and if anyone in the family has hired him. She thinks not, but she is aware that Master Tanaka was hired by Tara Shien ten years ago or so. They chat about other news, such as the upcoming weddings being scheduled for the spring, including Lord Te's. Takanata leaves his best wishes for the rest of the family, and they head off to find Tara Shien.

She is home when they call upon her - in fact, she is homebound, having broken a hip recently. She regrets that she may be getting too old for combat - though she was victorious!

Takanata wonders if she can arrange for an introduction to the Artisan of Hidden Treasures? She says it might be possible - what is their interest in that gentleman? First, the House of Intervention is interested in upgrading their vault, and second, they are interested in asking about another of his recent customers.

Hmm. Shien thinks he would not likely provide services to a house, or talk about other customers, but she can provide the introduction nevertheless.

"He is of a harder school, and does not believe a house can have honor, in a way that a person must, in order to be one of his customers. It would be a betrayal of the powers that give him his skills to provide them to one without honor."

Well, Takanata can think of something he wants hidden, as another matter to discuss, and Shien will provide a letter of introduction.

Takanata also calls on Melina, and hears that the Path of Knowledge also visited the circus to talk to Mondo. They chat about Lord Te's wedding (arranged via matchmaker) and plans for the official transition of Ringmaster before the summer tour.

Mondo is pleased to see the party, intuiting that it is a friendly visit.

"When it's trouble, you summon me to you."

And, indeed, the Path of Knowledge did speak to him. They had a long conversation about knowledge, and how to know what you know, and "eventually he came to understand what he knew, and decided to proceed." Mondo believes that from here, he planned to go and speak to Autumn Rose in order to obtain a Key that he would need before the (recent) Night of Gates. At the time he spoke to Mondo, he had already seen the Artisan of Hidden Treasures, and had acquired a potent box of unknowability. Additionally, he had a potent item of memory, as the box was so unknowable as to be unable to find it if it were lost.

When asked if he knows where the Path of Knowledge obtained the memory-item, Mondo says that he doesn't know, but in retrospect it's obvious. (Merit ties a knot in his "Li the Wanderer has been mentioned" string.)

Merit contacts his agent in the Butterfly spy service. What are they gearing up to worry about right now? Apparently, the service is receiving all sorts of conflicting requests for information about the Prince, in a royal family tripartite struggle over the Prince's future (That is, between the King, the Queen, and the Regent). Merit offers to help if needed, and gets a point for later in that mechanic.

Master Zhou goes to visit his art, and realizes that he has not been here since Master Long's death has been avenged. He realizes that Ti Wren might wish to know more details, and arranges for an audience with Her Majesty. He talks of his recent adventures in the war and the Golden Coast, and also things like the ocean beyond, the stars, and so on. He also finally comes to the story of the death of the villain Tai Lung. Her Majesty nods her thanks - it is not a happy tale, but she is gratified that his villainy has finally ended.

The Pagoda of Yellow Silk has a shrine to Master Long, and Master Zhou pays his devotions there as well. In fact, the Pagoda is less like an active pagoda and more like a shrine at this point - there are a couple of students (not of the first class - they didn't study under one of the masters, and it is more of a ceremonial position.) They are honored to make Master Zhou's acquaintance. He trains them, and notes that they have two first level Yellow Silk shticks. He is sad to see that it is no longer particularly active, but does realize that it is more or less sacred ground consecrated against Spider. Interesting.

The next day, Takanata has brunch with Master Tanaka (bringing along the rest of the party), and explains the crafting that he is interested in. Takanata has recently designed a ritual for the propitiation of the Jasmine River.

"I am confident that it will remain in use for some years to come, but as with all things, it will fall out of use. I would place the ritual in a box for one who who would use it to restore the ritual after it has fallen out of use."

Master Tanaka finds this an interesting challenge, and is willing to take the commission. He doesn't know what it will take, but will charge no more than is proper. Takanata gives him a copy of the book, and notes that the requirement would be that whoever finds it would need to either have multiple connections in the City of Spires, or could gain the ability to make those connections, as it is not a magic ritual but a holiday that requires the participation of the city.

Master Zhou is curious about senchi chambers, and asks if Master Tanaka's work is similar. Not exactly - he normally works on things like making treasures safe for descendants (not smugglers), but his works focus frequently on the material rather than the entirely spiritual. Ah - was Miyamoto Musashi's book hidden in a place of his work? No, but it was his master's work.

As the group already knows where the Path of Knowledge was going, they decide to not try to find out information from Master Tanaka, as Shien thought he would not want to talk about his clients.

And so, it is time to continue the quest. As far as anyone can remember, no one is currently wanted or hunted actively by the guard in the Dragon’s Throne, but it's still a bit close under the Marked's eye, so Takanata mushes the calendar around a little bit to have his previously arranged apology dinner with Autumn Rose in the City of Spires happen tonight.

City of Spires

Do they have a name to offer her? Takanata was planning to give her the name of Blue Stone Bear in exchange for the name of the murdered person in the Forest of Chin, but the party can probably think of something else to trade for information about the Path of Knowledge.

Takanata starts by asking how Autumn Rose's time has gone. The Dragon's Throne went on alert at the end of the war because of the strike against the Throne, but it didn't reach the inner districts. It was a very productive few weeks, other than that.

Takanata notes that he believes there was recently a murder in the Forest of Chin that is intimately tied into the ongoing haunting. He does not know the name of the victim, and he would like to know that. The murder took place on the Night of Gates - the one before the most recent Night of Gates, that is. While various spirits were combating the North, people were in charge of accomplishing their goals. The person doing Spider, Monkey, and Dog did all of: Monkey: The Warlord’s Throne shall be Haunted for the Night of Gates. Dog: Right an unrightable wrong. Spider: When a murder is committed, it must be a mystery of surpassing deception, that only a master detective can unravel.

All three of those were accomplished at the moment the forest became haunted, so Takanata strongly believes that the murder is tied to the haunting.

From Takanata's description, Autumn Rose believes that the name of the murderer will be well guarded, but Takanata notes that the name of the victim should be easier to find. She will undertake to find that out, and Takanata sings for her the true name of Blue Stone Bear, the Eastern spirit that is hunting Coyote.

He also has a more recent matter: the party is concerned that the Path of Knowledge has not returned from his recent journey, and they understand that he spoke to her to acquire a key. Autumn Rose is briefly puzzled - A key? Oh, yes, a name. He needed the name of the Spider in order to access Spider's realm. He was heading to the Forest of Chin and hoped to arrive before the last Night of Gates.

Takanata is surprised that she has told him this without bargaining, but she is not pleased with the Great Spider Spirit and is willing to simply tell him. He contemplates an appropriate response - it is inappropriate to pay her for a gift, but offering her a gift in return is more acceptable. So, he lets her know that if she ever runs into a white rope in the Jade district, it's not uncrossable - it's just a rope nobody knows is okay to remove. Autumn Rose is astonished - she's definitely going back to investigate that.

When Takanata finishes dinner, he discovers that the party is no longer in the City of Spires. He finds them back at Tahiti, wondering whatever happened to the Path of Knowledge.

"Apparently he doesn't want to be skipped." -Master Zhou

Master Zhou has a shtick in being immune to forgetting, so when reminded, he remembers the previous happenings in the run, except for the conversation with Li the Wanderer.

Forest of Chin

If the Path of Knowledge was going to be somewhere interesting for the Night of Gates, it would likely be the Warlord's Throne. The party heads there, again to do some asking around.

Merit has a buddy from the White Lotus who was at the Night of Gates gathering. Was the Path of Knowledge there? Yes, definitely. People were consulting with him about the haunting, and he suggested that he might look into it, but he had something he had to do first. The buddy doesn't remember who the Path was talking to, though. With a loaned shtick, he remembers it was Traveling Li, or something like that. The pair had an argument of some sort, over in the corner.

Takanata heads to the corner to try to see a vision of something that happened there, and overhears the conversation:

"If I had known that this was your fool plan, I never would have given it to you."
"What does it matter to you?"
"Do you not know what it will do?"
"Knowledge is always for the better. And, you can't stop me!"
"Perhaps I can't. "

The Path heads off again as Li pickpockets his bracelet.

"He's probably started his quest all over again." -Takanata, having to spend a yin

Maybe he completed the mission and lost the box? Maybe he noticed the bracelet is missing and now is hunting Li the Wanderer? Maybe he's stuck in the Spider's Web?

Why did the party send him on this fool plan anyway?

"If you can get Tortoise to declare war, it's easy to change the name of the country." -Master Zhou
"That's like saying it's easy to eradicate disease in the Arcade by killing everyone!" -Merit

Merit contemplates these five facts, in order to think about where to investigate next:

  • The Path of Knowledge was seeking the secret Tortoise cannot know.
  • He visited Master Tanaka for a box
  • He visited Mondo to find out what he knew.
  • He visited Autumn Rose to get Spider's Name
  • He planned to visit Spider's Realm on the night of gates

Clearly the next thing to do is to talk to Li the Wanderer... unless they already did.

Would hitting someone with a clue by four with kung fu help? Or true kung fu? (Connections suggests that they will get a result they are happier with by using the former.)

Master Zhou hits Merit, who manages to recall that in the conversation they had, Li was clearly somewhat discombobulated. He was trying to figure out their angle in sending the Path on this mission - and they didn't have a reason, which he mistook for having a plan instead. He held up the bracelet, wanting to know what it was, so Shen-Ji examined it and then got snarky with Li about not telling him if he didn't already know. So then Li got cranky and then they forgot.

Takanata looks into a vision of Shen-Ji's past, which he deems not relevant to the current plot.

A complicated karma-based mush of teaching and immunity to forgetting later, Master Zhou hits Shen-Ji instead. He also remembers the conversation - the bracelet of insistent remembering, which keeps reminding you of something over and over. (Shen-Ji memorizes it for later.) Shen-Ji is clear that Li made it, but Li doesn't remember why.

So... this is all very confusing. Li seems to have forgotten what the Path was going to do and why he helped him, and... then the Path also vanished.

A connections reading indicates that all six are true:

  • The Path of Knowledge was seeking the secret Tortoise cannot know.
  • He visited Master Tanaka for a box
  • He visited Mondo to find out what he knew.
  • He visited Autumn Rose to get Spider's Name
  • He planned to visit Spider's Realm on the night of gates
  • He is now trapped in Spider's Realm

Mondo, who has been paying attention to the log since the visit shows up to ask if they know what they have learned, to wit:

  • The Path of Knowledge is trapped in the realm of the Spider
  • The Bracelet of Remembering is with Li the Wanderer, who does not know what it is for.

Which of those can they take action on? Put like that, the second seems more accessible than the first, especially since Li seems to be findable in the run. On the other hand, Merit doesn't know why they should take any action. Isn't the Secret of Spider something that will cause civil war among the spirits? Isn't it a win if Li has forgotten something? It's not like the Path of Knowledge left the box behind. (Mondo notes that they don't know that).

Maybe Takanata can trade "I'll tell you what it's for if you give it to me" and then tell him that if he wants to know he has to let the Path of Knowledge out? That doesn't seem like a reasonable bargain and Takanata would rather not deal with Li in bad faith.

Well, Kuan-Xi (who Takanata summons into the run) can get Li to show up, by shouting his name a lot. Or maybe a little less obviously - she writes a nice note with his name and titles and invites him to Tahiti to speak about a matter of personal interest, and then gives it to the butler to arrange delivery.

He does, in fact, show up.

"Your highness."
"Ambassador. "
"We are going to have to have a proper talk about how to invite people."
"I do have many ranks of etiquette, but this isn't covering it."
"5 diplomacy is not nearly enough. Get that to 10."

Kuan-Xi invites Li to have a conversation with her colleagues about the bracelet, and he suggests that she go and get Takanata for an actual Omen on the consequences of opening the box.

Takanata spends several minutes decorating his artistic omen, and then returns to find Shen-Ji and Merit and Master Zhou having forgotten the conversation (even with the "no forgetting things" shticks"). Master Zhou finds marks of punching on his knuckles, which is why he is Not Allowed to remember.

And, they have the bracelet. Putting it on causes them to remember the completely random and nondescript place in the Steppes where the box has been buried. Takanata brings in the Omen he has created, a decorated box to store the bracelet, labeled "Open to start War in Heaven"