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Mists of War - DM Downrightamazed

Game Master downrightamazed

Three groups of gaijin approach the Son of the Heavens, ruler of the Empire of Mists, in his palace in far Lanzhu. A great war is underway in the west, this is known, but what could these strangers want?


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Shadow Lodge

[spoiuler=@Erudima]
Chu nods to her, a look of understanding widening his reptilian eyes slightly. He always forgot how short lived the races were compared to the elves and through the never-ending lives they see things that he could only dream of. "You honor me Princess." He tilts his head slightly as he thinks on the strange Baslav. "It is most... strange... to have one such as him here, he offers much but it's hard to tell what is truth or fabrication. So far I believe him, but that only brings more questions yet to be answered."

After a few more quiet moments he looks back to her. "It may be best to return, as I am sure the conversation has carried on in our absence. Thank you for your time Princess Del Solarian, hopefully we will speak more in the coming days."
[/spoiler]


Hiroto looks dubious. "I...am actually not certain gaining access to the palace will be as easy as that, Iron Hawk. Unless, of course, you have connections or powerful friends of which I am unaware, in which case please forgive my impertinence." He gives a small, polite bow. "You see, there was an...incident at the palace last night. All the details have not been released yet, but I know that many people lost their lives, and it is rumored someone very important was killed, and that the beloved Captain Takagami, captain of the guard, will be asked to commit seppuku in contrition. In light of all this, I would anticipate many closed doors and less-than-welcoming receptions for any guests there this day."

Batta answers your question as Hiroto finishes speaking. "I don't know where it is. I just know that uncle said he had found it. We came here just a couple days ago, we got his letter last week."

Hiroto gives the hapless youth a quizzical look. "That's impossible! The Proprietor has been missing nearly a year, how could you have received a letter last week?!"

Batta shrugs. "I have it, is all I can say. I know it's his handwriting. I can show it-"

"Be quiet you dunce!" Batta's friend smacks him again, then gives you two a sheepish smile. "Ah-heh! Ignore him! He is crazy! Also drunk! Also has not slept for worry, he does not know anything he is saying!"

Just to be clear, the violence between Batta and his friend is Three Stooges level stuff, no actual harm is coming to anybody.


@Chu: The princess bows politely, and follows you back inside.


Male Oni-Spawn Tiefling Inquisitor 8

Okay.

Also, what was the verdict on the knowledge check? Davor has Arcane, Local, Nature, The Planes, and Religion as trained Knowledge skills.

Davor read into the 'incident' comment as intended. "Someone assaulted the palace? Do you know who they got to? Surely not the Emperor - I imagine the city would have been sealed if that tragedy had taken place."

As the boys scuffled, Davor turned his gaze on them again.

Diplomacy: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (11) + 8 = 19

"Boys, boys. There's no need for the rough-housing." He smiled, but it didn't really reach his eyes. "Show me the letter. There may be some clues in there that you haven't gleaned. If there's any chance that your uncle is still alive, that latter may be our best lead."


@Davor: Hiroto nods. "Perhaps. I confess I do not know what would happen had the emperor been killed, nor do I know whose life was taken last night, but I do know there have already been missives delivered from the Son of the Heavens himself to various luminaries around the city, about the preparations for tonight's state dinner. I would assume this means the Emperor still lives, but I must admit that in this matter I am only guessing. For all I know, there are palace protocols in place to keep things running and keep the people ignorant in the case of the death of a ruler, until such time as a new one has been anointed and the palace is ready to continue."

Batta steps forward and produces the letter, leaving his friend groaning rolling his eyes. "Here it is, noble sirs. I do not know what clues you could gain from it, it is so very short. But I know for certain that is uncle's handwriting."

The letter reads:
Batta-san,

Always you have been like a son to me, always there to help, always there in times of need. I am hoping you can aid me once again, as you have in the past. Please come to Lanzhu, to my inn. I have found the Snow Bud. It will make the Golden Sparrow the greatest restaurant in the history of the empire. I must find it, and I need your help, dear boy. Please come quickly.

Uncle Hiro

DC25 K(Nature) - the Snow Bud:
The Snow Bud is an exceedingly rare tea plant, known only to grow in the highest mountain peaks, and to blossom only once every several decades. It is said to have many properties -- including some magical ones, thought this has never been proven -- but the only thing known for sure is it makes for the best tea in all the Land.


Male Oni-Spawn Tiefling Inquisitor 8

Knowledge (Nature): 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (10) + 9 = 19

The 'Snow Bud' meant nothing to Davor, but he didn't let that show in his demeanor. "What I find strange is that Hiro sent this letter after a full years of being missing? I find that highly suspect." He said, thinking aloud.

"Unless the disappearance was a ruse." Lia piped up, suddenly reminding everyone she was there.

"True. I wouldn't put it past the old fox." He replied. "Tell me, Batta, what did you help Hiro with in the past? And why do you think he could have used your help now?"

Linguisitcs Check:
1d20 + 6 ⇒ (7) + 6 = 13
Davor wants to make certain that the letter is legit, and also to glean any hidden code, if there's one to me found. To Davor, the letter is suspiciously innocuous.

Shadow Lodge

Chu quietly returns to the table amid the discussion and politely waits until the Princess is seated, before sitting down as well. He keeps his hands tucked into the open sleeves of his robes and quietly listens to the conversation once more.


Female Human Samurai 11, HP: 84/128, 3/4 Resolve, 1/4 challenges

"Could the snowbud be something else? A person? An item? A stone?"


@Davor: Davor Sense Motive check: 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (12) + 15 = 27
As far as you can tell, the letter is legit, insofar as it was written by Hiro. You're probably right to be suspicious about it, but there's nothing about the language that seems to be in any kind of code you know.

"I agree." says Hiroto. "This doesn't make any sense. Why would Hiro send letters to a Nephew in the provinces but let his business rot?"

Batta looks abashed. "Well, he only sent me the one letter, really, not a bunch. I've helped uncle find plants before, or crops, or seeds or things. He says I'm a natural plant tracker!"

Batta's acerbic friend rolls his eyes. "Right, Batta, because the plants make such a concerted and clever effort to escape."


"My dreams of late have focused on a tea tree. That part of the story I believe. The why, is that part of dreams that are so frustrating."

Tokine looks up and down the table, "My dreams also include a woman warrior rooted to a mountain, a red dragon sleeping on my temple, and spiders....lots of spiders. So I would be careful to dismiss these visions too quickly.

"The where part of my dream fails me too, except that mountain peak from your vision Princess. That is where I dream the tea tree is. Now as to where THAT is...."

Shadow Lodge

Chu's eyes widened as he tried to catch back up with what he missed while he was away from the table. As the Curator finished speaking, Chu leaned back and looked at her with widened pupils. "To dismiss visions, is to invite calamity and we need no more of that..." His tone was calm, confident, as he thought furiously. He wasn't sure what this Snowbud was, but the dreams had his complete attention.

He pulled one hand free and leaned on it as he continued watching the Curator. His pupils became slits once more as he came to a decision. "Have you seen this mountain before Curator? Perhaps the Tranquil Peak or somewhere else notable? Hopefully we can analyse and dissect your dreams further Curator Tokine." He was gently prodding, hoping to spur something the Curator may have missed, or misread, while being assaulted by such a vivid dreams. He didn't distrust her but he wasn't sure how much he should reveal within the walls of this Tea Shop.

He couldn't help but flicker his attention to Azami as he thought of 'a warrior woman rooted to a mountain'.

The plot thickens, more is revealed as the pieces continue to move by unseen hands...


Female Human Samurai 11, HP: 84/128, 3/4 Resolve, 1/4 challenges

Azami sighs wearily, hunched as if a great weight bore upon her. She holds up a hand, shaking her head. "I do not mean to attack the interest in visions; they are important to me as well. But even with every vision discussed here at this tea, we may not be able to discern the answers. The Gods do not write maps so clearly.

"I grow tired of something I cannot touch, cannot slice, weary of talking and ceremony as the world crumbles around us. I want to take action beyond sipping tea, I want to find Bethany Erodal. To this end, I will share all the visions I've had in these last days, and look for those wiser than I to make the connections - now, or over time. I do not want to talk about them again."

"The Princess and I share a vision of a dawn, it seems. I believe..." Azami straightens from her hunched discomfort, continuing as though she picked her way through a field of traps. She angles her gaze somewhat in Kyras' direction - perhaps it is easier to say these things to him than to the whole of the group. "I believe we see the sunrise from two different perspectives, but the description of it is almost the same. I have been...following this dawn's meager guidance since the slaughter of my Master's household...." She leaves off mention of her husband's death, as she had mentioned it earlier. "I would have taken my own life, but breath was forced back into me for a purpose I do not yet know. Each day since, until today, I have awoken with the image of this dawn behind my eyes, urging me forward. That dawn must come to pass..."

So immersed in the uncomfortable personal discussion, she unthinkingly combs her fingers through the rough-hewn pieces of hair that had been tidily tucked back, loosing them and giving her a more disheveled appearance. "The Emperor seemed to mention a new dawn as well, and he may have had one of these moving paintings in the room we met him in." That no longer seems as comforting given the recent concerns about the Emperor's affiliations, and her tone conveys that uncertainty.

It might be an insight into why Azami questions that sharing visions will bring them answers - her own visions have demanded she seek blindly for so long, waiting for revelation.

More to the group, especially Tokine, Azami continues. "In addition, two nights ago, many of us had dreams that seemed to have similarities. I saw...what life might have been for me." The redhead stops abruptly, taking a breath. There would be no elaboration further on that point. "Then also, a fountain rose beneath me, filled with plum blossoms and moon-stones. Cranes were eating the moonstones, and koi swimming in the blossoms. A koi bit me, but I did not bleed. Her grey eyes hood, picturing the vivid dream once again as her description turns to present tense. "My hand is a stone, a heart. That heart is chipped. I go in seek of a gemcutter, walking past the Temple of Cultural Exchange. There, a red dragon larger than a town curls around the building. It's cathedral-sized head sees me and roars, flames leaping as huge as the palace, the size of mountains, setting the world on fire. I draw upon it, and my katana is also on fire--yet my stone hands do not burn. The dragon's ungodly huge head lowers next to my own, issuing a challenge - Would you like some tea?" This time, unlike yesterday morning, she does not attempt to convey the impossibly huge voice of the dragon to them in her deepest roaring voice.

She blinks, eyes opening fully. Just the recreation of that dream-vision seems to have stolen energy from her; tiny crow's feet at the corners of her eyes crinkle as her brow furrows, forcing herself to continue.

"The mists, too, have been active. I saw a crane in the mists when I first met Kyras...in a battle with burakamin and the Erinyes. I also saw my bloody sunrise on a boy who stood down. He unfortunately died." Azami is so pointedly not looking at Kyras that she may as well be looking at him.

Her gaze then moves expectantly between those seated around the table, including Baslav. They were the bright, magic-y types, one of them millenia old. This should be easy for them, right?


Male Oni-Spawn Tiefling Inquisitor 8

Davor nodded absently as Batta spoke while he examined the letter. "Did you know your uncle was missing before you got here, Batta?" He asked, eyeing the lad. "Because I get the feeling that someone is pulling the wool over your eyes."

Davor took a long drink from his cup of firewine, and felt the pleasant burning sensation settle in his stomach.

"So we have a note from a missing man asking his nephew to lend some plant-finding expertise." He said, thinking aloud. "But why send this letter now? While I don't doubt that this letter was written by Hiro, someone could simply be an excellent forger." Davor frowned as his mind worked.

Lia chimed in, breaking her silence again. "Batta, right? How long have you been in the city? Days? Weeks? Hours?" She asked, her mind catching on something. "If this letter is a trap, then someone will look for you here. And if it's not, then your uncle should come and find you."

Sense Motive:
Davor's 'trusting his gut'. Using the 'hunch about the present situation' part of Sense Motive.

1d20 + 15 ⇒ (10) + 15 = 25


Male Half-elf Dragon Disciple 11

Kyras shifts uncomfortably when Azami mentions their first meeting, but says nothing. He's had no visions, just the threats of the Dragon in his head.

Shadow Lodge

Azami's words made Chu's eyes grow cold, becoming mere slits in twin golden pools as her uncertainty of the Emperor made him reconsider his return to this table. Other then his eyes, he didn't show his distaste visibly as he leaned against his hand with a sigh, feigning annoyance as he thought. He searched his thoughts, thinking furiously as to what all of the visions could mean.

K: Religion: Myth's concerning Moonstones, what they represent. 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (12) + 8 = 20
K: Religion: Myth's concerning Cranes, what they represent. 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (18) + 8 = 26
K: Religion: Myth's concerning Koi, what they represent. 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (8) + 8 = 16


To Adviser Chujitsuna, "The mountain I do not recognize, but a painting of this vision now resides at my Temple. As to its geographic accuracy...I can not say."

Turning to Azami, "This will sound silly, but in looking for meaning in visions and dreams, I can clearly see where perhaps each of you fit in to mine. Azami, in your words just now, I perhaps see my place. I am blessed to have a wardrobe prepared by some of the finest weavers in the Empire. Naturally seeking my pleasure, they craft items to match my...taste and temperament. I am often overwhelmed by their generosity, but they see it more an an honor so I seek to honor their gift and display their art. With such artistic treasures laid before me, it allows me to choose garments that fit my duties and stylistic whims. The day we met, I had selected to wear a kimono decorated with a majestic crane, a favorite symbol of mine." The long graceful white neck of crane is a good analogy for the Curator's beauty.

"While I choose it for its beauty and the upcoming dinner celebration at the palace, I was reminded that the crane's beauty rests upon feet that must navigate through the mud. Yesterday's kimono was a mountain stream populated by koi. I hope I am represented in your dream, for I wish to see this Plum Blossom Syndicate destroyed...if taht is symbolized by swallowing stones"

Looking for answers, she then turns to Baslav, "You keep referring to my 'journey' and 'am I packed?'. Does Shelyn intend to send me after this tea plant? Because a couple other possibilities also come to mind, including Kyras's sister's dig site. And it seems a bad time if the Empire is threatened....unless that is all the more reason to go now? But with my Temple under daily assault, I am hesitant to leave.......It is hard to plan one's life based on visions and dreams."

"But as She reminded me today, I will do what must be done, because it must be done. Doing her will is the only song I know...but sometimes it is hard to figure out the lyrics...so perhaps I should dance instead." She ends with giving Baslav a warm smile, but her eyes are fixed looking for some sign he might give her. Where will this dance take me?


@Davor: Batta shakes his head and answers both you and Lia at the same time. "I just got here this morning, not too long before yourselves, in fact. It is a three-day journey from my village to this city and I left as soon as I got the letter. I did not know my uncle was missing. Indeed, I assumed he would meet me here." He suddenly looks worried. "And now you think...I might be in trouble? With someone? But who would want me for anything? I'm nobody!"


Baslav looks utterly blinkered at the uninterrupted string of revelations Azami unfurls, then sets his teacup down. "I, er, I feel as if this is a good time for me to leave." he says drolly, favoring the Mambani warrior with a fatherly smile. He pulls a small satchel into his lap. The bag has been over his shoulder this whole time but is small enough as to not attract much attention or notice. As he rummages through the thing, he answers Tokine. "I don't know if She expects you to find a tea plant, my dear. Nor if you are to go to Mamban or the Isla Des Las Mil Voces or anyplace in between. What I do know is that the Floating Kingdom is coming ashore, and as his eldest daughter, I imagine you will be expected to attend your father, who is king of that place, and sit at his left hand."

The old Bard King gives the aasimar cleric a sad, sweet smile. "As little time as I have, my dear, you have even less. You really should pack your things and be ready. An emissary could arrive any day. A-ha!" He says this last as he suddenly pulls out a small box that should not have been able to fit in the satchel. "Here they are! I said I brought gifts, and so I have. Hopefully you will like them, I have no idea what they are. Hmmm..." Baslav seems to be reading something, then he solemnly pulls out a series of items and hands each one to its new owner.

To Imuri he presents a crude hunting knife. Its weight and balance are both terrible and the handle is held together with a rag.
To Kyras he presents a small dried fish. It is crackly and unpleasant to touch, horrid to look upon, and smells of musty socks.
To Azami he presents an ancient and rusty key, so brittle it looks ready to fall apart if one so much as looks at it the wrong way.
To Tokine he presents a small glass handbell. It rings an unpleasantly discordant diad and is impossibly fragile and delicate.
To Chu he presents a child's toy; a marble. It is a gross milky stone of some sort and has a central weight that imbalances it and looks like a goat's eye.
To Eru he presents a single seagull feather. It is overridden with mites and smells of rot.

"Ah! There you go! And I hope you enjoy those. They come from a fellow I met in Choban-La, 216 years ago. He said I would go to tea one day and these would make fine, fine gifts. So. Yes." He coughs awkwardly and stands. "I must be off. Mortal enemies to find and convince to kill their own children and all that. You know; busy day. My best to all of you. Lord Imuri, I thank you so kindly for your hospitality. I shall sing the praises of the tea house of the Shoto where e'er I may travel."

Baslav bows, there is a strange shimmer, and he is gone. All is quiet save for the pounding of the rain outside. None of you can remember, exactly, how Baslav left or how long he stayed, but you know he is gone.


Tokine sits dumbstruck, holding out her small bell while looking at the place where Baslav was sitting a moment ago.

Sense Motive 1:
Tokine sits dumbstruck, holding out her small bell while looking at the place where Baslav was sitting a moment ago.


Okay, Tokine wins this round with that post. LOL


Knowledge ????History for the Floating Kingdom w/a Bit of Luck (best of 2rolls) for any stories or art depicting this..and its King.
1d20 + 8 ⇒ (11) + 8 = 19
1d20 + 8 ⇒ (7) + 8 = 15

Tokine slowly brings her jaw closed. "Well...that confirms another of my visions." As she remembers the huge wave that seemed to her to break within the Emperor's banquet hall, although no one reacted to such an event.

She pokes at the odd bell in her hand, not quite ready top make eye contact with anyone as 20 odd years of speculation and wonder go swirling around her.


Female Human Samurai 11, HP: 84/128, 3/4 Resolve, 1/4 challenges

Azami looks at the key lying across her palm, afraid to close her hand around it. Then she glances among the others sitting at tea.

"Did I say something wrong?"


Male Half-elf Dragon Disciple 11

Spellcraft 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (3) + 12 = 15

Kyras examines the fish curiously with his magical sight, trying to discern if there is anything special about it. "Well, that was strange. Where do we go from here? At least we know a lot more about what is going on here, although there are so many questions still unanswered." He turns to Azami to address her. "My sister, your father. Anyone else have any long-lost relatives that need saving, who are vital to saving the world? A nephew, perhaps, or a second cousin twice removed?"


@Kyras: The fish has no magical aura at all. It would seem that it is just a fish.


The rain continues to hammer down outside as the gathered heroes of the Empire sit in silence, contemplating the departure of their strange tea guest, and the questions already swirling in their minds.

There is a bright flash of lightning outside, then thunder caroms off the distant hills.


Any input on what I would know of Floating Kingdom with a 19 knowledge check?


Tokine Nagano wrote:
Any input on what I would know of Floating Kingdom with a 19 knowledge check?

Oh crap! I owe you and Chu both some K results. Coming shortly...


Tokine only:
You know you have heard the term "Floating Kingdom" before, but you didn't think much of it. One time, in Dambulla, you overheard a sailor snort derisively at a buccaneer's tale of derring-do and poo-poo the whole thing by saying "Right! Next you'll tell me you've dined in the Floating Kingdom, then, eh?! Pfffft.", as an expression of disbelief, so you filed it away as a "local color" thing, or possibly a sailors' tale, and thought no more on the matter.

Shadow Lodge

Kyras's words dredge up memories that Chu had tried to keep forgotten and lost with time...

Memories...:
His sisters fist wreathed in flames as she shrieked in rage at him for his deception. He silenced her when he put a crossbow bolt in her eye, her magic saved her but she still lost her eye and could no longer cast. He left her for dead when he went to face his father. Knowing full well he could never defeat his father, not in spellduels, he took the cowards way and put a longblade between his fathers ribs as he slept. Rumors still speak that he too survived somehow but could not pursue Chu before he fled their homeland. His mother... she just watched him go, never raising a spell to stop or assist him. She was cowed by the rest of the family and when he had enough he used decption to crush them and stole what relics he could before disappearing like dust in the wind...

K: History: What does he know of the floating kingdom? 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (10) + 11 = 21

Chu's features were like stone, tense and jagged as he regarded the strange marble quizzically and held it close to his eye as he inspected it. He wasn't disturbed in the slightest by Baslav's disappearance, in fact he was relieved. Because some of his thoughts were confirmed in his mind and he could focus on more important topics. In answer to Kyras's question, Chu voice was cold. "No, none of my family should be involved with this..." Nor, would you want them to be... "As thought invoking as that was, let us continue forward. Shoto Imuri, I believe you were speaking of working together before Baslav appeared..."


Male Human, samurai caste Ninja 7, Samurai (Broken Promise) 4 (HP 32/77 AC 22, T 17, Flat 17* - F+10 R+13 W+8; Init +9; Senses:Per +15

Imuri has a servant approach with a pillowed tray and palces the hunting knife on it. He motions subtly for the servant to stay near.

Advisor-sama, it would seem that the cavern we are destined to traverse continues to get deeper. So, we must question the veracity of this Baslav's claims, as well that the purpose of these implements. I would say they are either most eccentric, or very specfic in their value. Perhaps, while we are receiving helpful items, we should proceed to the Shoto custom of gift-giving, and decide how best to place our new tools in use.

At this, several servants wordlessly gather the shielded pillows and stand in a line, awaiting the Shoto's command.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

@Chu only:
You know moonstone is believed to bring good fortune to its wearer, and is supposed to arouse tender passions in lovers and give them the power to read the future; to be effective as a means of determining one’s personal future, it must be placed in the mouth when the moon is full. This last, as far as you know, is simply a folk myth and has no bearing in actual Arcane practice, though you must confess you have never tried it.

Cranes you know are considered messengers of health, peace, and wisdom, and have a heavenly connection. They are also connected with the Suihan Sanjou; the Three Friends of Winter, and augur for long life and good health. it is said Cranes transport souls to Pharasma from the Empire.

Koi are commonly known as being symbolic of good fortune in business and academics, but it is also said that the first dragons were Koi that were transformed by the gods.

Of the Floating Kingdom, very little is known. In fact, it is not even known if it is a real place, and since it floats (hence the name), it is highly unlikely it could be found even if someone chose to seek it out. It is alternately described as a myth, an old sailors' tale, an ad-hoc 'nation' formed by dissatisfied citizens of the Land, or a small island that was being used as a prison in the distant past but has long since been abandoned, cut free from its moorings by an angered Gozreh. You yourself do not know what is fact or fiction about the Floating Kingdom, but you are aware that legends about it have been around for a very, very long time, and if legends persist that long, there is almost always some basis in fact.


Male Oni-Spawn Tiefling Inquisitor 8

"If you are as skilled as your uncle thinks, then someone is no doubt planning to use your skills to find this 'Snow Bud', which I am assuming is a plant of some kind. Otherwise you wouldn't ask a plant-tracker to help you." He said, his tone measured and calm, not wanting to alarm the lad.

Davor paused, thinking for a moment. "You haven't been here long, and Hiro has been missing for some time. I would guess then that the Sparrow is being watched. Someone may even be coming here this very moment to snatch you away. One could get away with many things under the cover of the gloom outside." Casually, Davor poured himself a second drink, and drank it slowly as he reclined casually in his chair. "We should assume the worst, and assuming someone is coming for you. But I'll do my utmost to keep you safe."

Sense Motive:
Can Davor trust the people in this room?
1d20 + 15 ⇒ (15) + 15 = 30


Female Human Samurai 11, HP: 84/128, 3/4 Resolve, 1/4 challenges

Azami widens her eyes slightly at Kyras to convey that, at this point, she might believe that every relative from here to Izmir were somehow involved. One is already too many.

She looks between Chu and Imuri--so easily they move past what just happened - and everything she said. The dreams must not be important.

Resigning herself to this gift-giving ceremony, she calmly waits for Shoto to do....whatever he is going to do.

Shadow Lodge

Chu was deep in thought, he cast aside thoughts of his family. If they came he would fight them and die quietly somewhere outside the Empire. The visions though between what Azami and Tokine had laid before him had his mind reeling, a lot had happened since he started his investigation and most of it was blurring the line between duty to a friend and duty to the people of the glorious Empire.

As he waited for the Shoto's ceremony to continue Chu glances at Tokine and Azami before casually looking back at the servants moving wordlessly about their task.

Azami & Tokine:
Slowly you both become aware of an odd sort of connection forming in your mind, it was weak but there. Soon after Chu's voice can be heard almost like he is whispering in your ear from across the table.

In cautious, hushed tones Chu speaks to the women with his telepathy. {You have both given me much to think about and to research, if I find anything of use I will deliver it too you. Of what I know at present will sadly take too long to explain in detail. Much of it though must be interpreted. Because even the slightest thing in a vision can mean something entirely different and interpretations are not always correct either... if you have anything else you wish to share, do not hesitate to contact me.}

DRA:

I remember talking to you of other places Chu lived, other then his humble apartm?ent in the palace. More like a scholars closet. ;) I have been working on his other home and a pair of Npc's if that is alright with you. They aren't anything super special merely flavorful for Chu. It will also explain his start in the empire and why his skills are so varied. If you want an email detailing it further, then I can oblige bossman. ;D


Female Human Samurai 11, HP: 84/128, 3/4 Resolve, 1/4 challenges

Will save: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (3) + 7 = 10

Azami shakes her head at the weird feeling, squinting as she rubs her temple. After a moment, her eyes widen and she looks over at Chu. "Our time is now, Advisor. If you know something, please speak it. We may not have such a luxurious repose ahead of us for some time, and I would rather have all the information possible before I foray into the hive beneath the castle."


@Chu:
That's cool, go for it! If anything needs tweaking or whatever, I'll let you know. You can email me the NPCs, that'd be great. That way I'll know what's coming and be ready for when they show up.


@Davor:
The cop, certainly, is trustworthy, and the rest of the folks at least aren't criminals, but they are just citizens. So while no one is lying, you probably wouldn't want to trust them with your life, necessarily. Not because they're evil so much as they're just regular people, not warriors.

But no; no one is giving you any kind of bad vibe or shifty eyes or telltale body language.

Batta looks stunned, and returns to his seat. A couple times he looks about to talk, but each time he relents. You wait. An hour goes by, then another. Then a man enters the room. Everyone nearly jumps out of their skin when he does so, even though he does nothing sneaky, and does not appear to be armed.

The man is a tall gaijin, from somewhere in the northwest, you'd wager, though it's tough to pin down. He is tall and handsome and broad-shouldered, clad in an excellent oiled-leather hooded cloak to keep dry. Under that he is wearing very high-quality chainmail from head to toe over which he is wearing an ivory raiment of some sort whose edges are gilt with silver and which bears over the heart a small crimson symbol that looks like a stylized pair of dragon's jaws. You've never seen its like. He has a longsword on his left hip and a steel shield of strange construction over his back, set on a harness. You can see no other weapons, but you've no doubt there's more there.

The man's brown eyes twinkle as he walks in and he gives a big, warm smile to everyone, pulling off his hood as he does so. "Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Darik Elsen. I'm wondering if there were somebody here who was an employee? I'm looking to deliver a message to a guest." There is an awkward pause. Batta stares at his drink. One of the waitresses slowly gets up from her card game.

"I can deliver a message, Darik-san. To whom shall it be delivered?"
"I'm looking for a lad by the name of Batta. If you could give him this, please." He hands her a scroll tube. "Thank you!"
The waitress bows and Elsen bows back, then turns and puts his hood back up, preparing to walk back out into the rain.


Tokine gives her bell a small shake and furrows her brow at the odd sound it emits. She tucks it into a pouch with her quill and ink and assorted spell items.

Drawing the string tight she shakes her head and brings her attention back to the formalities. These are odd gifts from an odd man...the Floating Kingdom indeed....what is there to prepare for?...the sky to fall?...

She had learned to trust him, but this? This seemed too much.

Shadow Lodge

Chu leaned back as he matched Azami's gaze, his eyes lacked their usual intensity as he looked at her curiously. This woman is stronger then I give her credit, which is a grave mistake... He avoided looking at Imuri, who's ceremony he had foolishly interrupted by overstepping himself again.

He said nothing and quietly focused his thoughts towards Azami.

Azami:

The feeling builds, someone where they shouldn't be, a door opening followed by Chu's voice. This time he is not quiet, his tone is more of a teacher speaking to a student. Respectful, calm and confident in what he is trying to teach or convey.

{My apologies, it is something I do when I wish to be discreet, you can speak back to me without having to speak physically. All you must do is think of what you want to say and it will be. No more, no less. Now... I have not began to fathom an interpretation, I have had little time to ponder and I do not wish to anger the house of the spider more then is needed... Here is what I can convey and for now I leave it too you to determine in your own heart and mind what all of this could mean.}

{The Moonstone is believed to bring good fortune to its wearer and...} His pause is weighty as Chu finds it difficult to grasp the words he is about to say since he hasn't experienced such emotions. {It is also supposed to arouse... tender passions in lovers and allow them the power to see the future. For it to be effective to determine ones own personal future it must be placed in the mouth when the moon is full. Although I have never attempted to see my own future so there is some myth's involved.}

{The Crane has long been considered a messenger of health, peace and wisdom and has a heavenly connection. They are also connected with the The Three Friends of Winter: the Suihan Sanjou[/i]. It has been said that Cranes transport souls to Pharasma when they take their final journey from the Empire.}[/i]

{The Koi, a personal favorite, are known to symbolize good fortune in the world of academics and business, but are also believed that the first dragons were Koi who were transformed by the gods.}

{You say you were bitten by the Koi, yes? This could mean you may soon uncover a secret you wish you hadn't... Usually a bird in ones dream is a good omen, a crane even more so. But I am unsure as to what it represents in your dream... This is all I have to give and when I have more to give, I shall.}

Although I copied alot from from what DRA gave me, there was no real way to spiff it up any more then he so awesomely had already. xD. But I tried! Rather poorly i'm afraid~ ( ._.);

He held the connection open to her as he bowed his head apologetically to Imuri as he placed his hands in his lap once more.


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Female Human Samurai 11, HP: 84/128, 3/4 Resolve, 1/4 challenges

The dissonant tinkle of the bell distracts Azami from Imuri's gift pillows and the Advisor, contemplating just how much of Tokine's world may have just been upended by Baslav's presence. Just as the bell, everything seemed out of harmony; the greatest gift may shatter at a moment's notice and become the greatest failure for all time. Ancient men, coming together in death after warring over the undying heart of an elf, fathers and daughters brought together for the end, the end of a world and the beginning of a new one...whether through salvation or destruction.

And here they each sit, a gift in one hand, and a hand open to receive another. Which hand will save them? Which hand will be their damnation?

Chu:
The sensation in her mind finally grows to a point where she cannot ignore it; Azami hates the sensation that someone can invade her mind. Certainly she has heard of such mental intrusion before, but had never experienced it. Now she feels somehow violated, as if one of a few remaining places of safety has been breached, compromised.

But perhaps there are no more safe places, not even her heart.

{This...is not enjoyable.} A pause as though she was testing whether she could hear her own thoughts as words, or not. {But convenient, I suppose.}

[b]{Thank you for...the information. None of those things resonates with me.}

{The water rises beneath me, containing plum blossoms and moonstones. The plum blossom is simple enough symbolism for the Syndicate, could that mean that the Moonstone is also something uprooting us, something we are facing? The cranes eat the blossoms - are they an ally to us? Who are they? The koi swim among the moonstones - does this mean that the dragons are allied with the moonstones? That one bites me, but it does not affect me...is this mirrored with the red dragon setting me upon fire, but I do not burn?}

{This is really too much.}

Shadow Lodge

Chu watches Tokine's movements curiously, seeming distracted by the odd gifts everyone received from Baslav. His though reminded him of something he didn't wish to think of, so he continued to focus on Tokine and the others as he watched the Tea Ceremony continue around him. He radiated a confident calm.

Azami:

Chu's voice continued to sound like a teacher conversing with their student.

{It is convenient but as you feel my presence, I in turn feel yours. But when it comes to discreet conversation, this is the safest means to speak and not be heard. For your first time you did very well.}

{There is never too much, only too little. You are a Samurai, you are meant to perfect what is already perfect. Yet now you are faced with something you cannot easily surmount, a weakness you have yet to master. With your focus and dedication you will, before long, find a way. The only advice I can give is that you go back to the beginning and start walking again.}

{You are the only one that knows your story and from what you have revealed, your story is long and full of twisting paths. Some lined with thorns, others are open and well traveled. Only you know how to examine a trail that you yourself made. Perhaps these dreams resonate with you more then you may realize now and we are too distracted to realize it because of the events of the last few days. I promised to research further, at least we have a start... Your thoughts and questions may not be so far off though, well done.}


Female Human Samurai 11, HP: 84/128, 3/4 Resolve, 1/4 challenges

Chu:
A long pause.

{Hmm.}

Azami's expression falls to a neutral distance, as though the woman has been closed away behind a guards' far-reaching stare.


Tokine distracted mind gives her a jolt. She looks up when she realizes that the Advisor Chujitsuna's voice was in her head and not spoken aloud. He had done that last night at the Palace. It was unexpected then as she did not know he could do something like that. It was unexpected now for we were sharing...unless he knows a reason not to be too open.

Her flicks her eyes over to him and sees him looking at her. She instead looks back at her tea cup and composes herself...and thinks..

Chu:
"Advisor Chujitsuna, I have said nearly all I can. I go tonight under the city to try and face the Plum Blossom Syndicate. Both to help my friends and to look for a sign of dear San Pen. It is my fear that they have moved against him, much as they did against the police inspector. If there was anything more you could impart...well, I am not sure when we will see each other again."


The Shoto gift-giving ceremony is an elegant and calm affair. For Chu and Tokine it is actually a bit of a relief to lose themselves in the well-known rituals of an ancient and proud tradition of their adopted homeland. For Azami and Kyras it is yet another tedious dance they steel themselves to endure for the benefit of their companions, new and old. If Princess del Solarian has any opinion at all, she keeps it to herself.

In the ceremony, Tokine is presented with a set of rare, fine paints, as demonstrated by a master Shoto artist, the lifelike richness of the dyes is honestly breathtaking.

Kyras receives two complete kimonos. One is black and red with a few tiny green spiders on the inside of the obi. The other is pure white, with a single silver spider over the left shoulder.

Azami receives a masterful black wooden saya for her katana, the creator of the saya is a well-known master of such items who lives in peace and quiet in the far eastern hills, by a village known for the quality of its bamboo.

Lastly, the Loyal Shadow is given a rare volume; the Buku Binatang is a series of tomes describing supernatural or rare beasts, their role in literature and legend, and their spiritual analog, if any to bushido. The volume Chu is given is on spiders, vermin, snakes and serpents.

Eru's gift is sitting quietly behind her, awaiting her mistress' command.

At the completion of the ceremony, Imuri repeats his regrets that he cannot join the rest of you on your quest under the city, and bows formally. Servants show you back out into the rain, and all of you -- including Eru -- find yourselves back where you were just before the tea ceremony began, under the awning of the entrance to the Gossamer Palace, each now in possession of two unique gifts.

A group of six samurai, outfitted for war, have left the house of Clan Sera, just a ways away. Grim and determined-looking, they quickly set off in six different directions, paying you no mind. One rushes right past without so much as a nod.

Highly unusual.


Male Oni-Spawn Tiefling Inquisitor 8

Davor almost let the messenger leave bfore speaking, standing as he did so. "Hold, friend." He said, his voice friendly. "From whom does the message for my young friend here come? Perhaps you could enlighten us to this mystery, hmm?"

Diplomacy: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (4) + 8 = 12

The fell light in Davor's eyes glows a little brighter as he manifests one of his most-loved abilities.

Detect alignment is being activated. He'll concentrate on this newcomer first.


@Davor: The armored man looks you up and down, then he gives Lia a flinty look, then he focuses on you again. After a couple seconds he nods slowly, his eyes narrowing. "I know you. You go by many names, but I know who you are. They speak well of your work in the west. What brings you here...Morgrym?"

He's CN.


"Princess, we should make for your inn. Rhon's compatriots should be informed that some of us wish to join them."


Female Human Samurai 11, HP: 84/128, 3/4 Resolve, 1/4 challenges

"Do they not already know that and suggested that we join them after the event at the Palace tonight? If not, could the Princess alert them herself?" A moment of pause; realizing her tone is gruff after dealing with so much propriety, she continues with a more explanatory tone. "I have need to go to the Palace, to learn what I can about this and what happened last night. And it might be wise for us to check in with Daisuke or Professor Yeo about the dig."


Male Half-elf Dragon Disciple 11

Kyras agrees with Azami's assessment of their agenda. "To the Palace with us, then. I'll try my best not to let anyone steal my fish in the meantime. Or my fancy new clothes. Hopefully we can find Bethany, one way or another, and get some answers soon."


Eru, who has put away her fan and is looking much more like the westerner she is, makes a pained face at Azami's tone, but speaks evenly. "If Madame Curator wishes to accompany me, she certainly may." the young elf rolls her eyes. "Ay me, now I'm talking like I'm still in a tea party. Ugh. You can come, Tokine, but it'll be a bit before we head out. Gwen and Naradil will be rounding up recruits to help. There is...much unpleasantness down there, as we all have heard." With that the princess and her servant -- Shoto Asago -- start down the street towards the Inn of the Graces.

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