@Kyras and @Azami: Shoto Situbo looks carefully from one of you to the other. Something shifts in his bearing and he suddenly stands up and bows deeply. "I believe the two of you have your situation under control. My clan will not hide you, nor will we enter into this travel-and-trade agreement with you, at this time. Perhaps tonight's dinner will change my mind. Perhaps not. Perhaps it will be too late. Either way, I must ask you both now to leave. If you still insist on seeking shelter, I might suggest you speak to Clan Sera. Their city house is not far. Good day to you both, honorable citizens."
He turns and walks swiftly out. Servants come in to clean the tea service, then a pair of pleasantly smiling functionaries arrive at the door to see you out.
@Tokine: Neither emissary seems at all ruffled by your comments as you cleverly and smoothly pass them off. They are both pleased you recognize the paintings as being Telestari in origin. The elf smiles at your comments about their homeland. "Iridian has suffered much. We would see her reputation restored, her dignity, as well. These paintings may help. Our cause, our purpose...it reaches to the very gods themselves, Madame Curator. We are not thieves or bullies, seeking the ownership of treasures we intend to pawn off for material gain when we discover they grant no great power. No, we are visionaries, seekers after great Truths and singular Beauties." The human, standing a bit behind the elf and off to one side, has a rapturous smile on his face.
The human speaks. "There are...criminal organizations in your great city, as I trust you are well aware. One of these has stolen the painting we seek and taken it into some kind of strange underground tunnel system. We are hoping to find a guide for these tunnels and retrieve the painting. We can offer significant reinforcements to aid in this regard."
K(Nature) 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (15) + 5 = 20
A kami ay? Gozreh, you honor me, Khangzhi thinks. He sits down in the lotus position to await the spirits arrival, believing patiently waiting for it's aid would be far more sensible than rushing ahead blindly .
Azami just looks at Kyras after the Shoto patriarch leaves, ignoring the servants clearing away the tea.
If she wasn't so ridiculously relieved to finally be within reach of him, she might punch him for everything that has happened in the last few hours, unable to satisfy any of conflicting mix of feelings that rises in her. "This has been insightful," she deadpans, unwilling to discuss the spider while still so centered in its web. Their escort arrives, and Azami sighs. "Let us go, Kyras."
Hearing the offer, Tokine's smile gets wider. "Well...now it seems I can be of service with one condition. I hope your significant resources are close at hand, because I can offer you a very motivated guide to lead you right to the heart of this criminal organization. The catch, we leave within the hour."
Kyras internally steams at the sudden and almost tactless dismissal by Shoto Sibuto. How could the man not see the benefit of assisting him? Even though the thought made him grit his teeth, he was willing to let his son - the very man Kyras suspects knows exactly where or how to find his sister - come along with them. To meet with the Telestari! To save the Empire, not to mention THE WHOLE OF EXISTENCE! Kyras, simply put, is furious, and more naturally than Kalaroth's foul influence could ever make him.
Bluff 1d20 + 17 ⇒ (16) + 17 = 33
Kyras simply shrugs as if nothing is wrong and he is not put out. He looks uninterested and almost bored by Situbo's rejection. He offers Azami a roguish smile and offers her the crook of his arm in a very Western fashion. "Shall we? I know a decent rice joint not too far from here." He winks at the escort, as if implying a message between them even though Kyras doesn't care one bit about the servant.
@Tokine: The elf smiles and looks genuinely excited. "Oh yes! Yes, they can be mustered with all expedience." He nods to his human companion, who bows low.
"A pleasure, Nagano-sama." he intones, then walks quickly but calmly out.
The elf continues speaking. "My friend Samuel will be back soon. I'm certain we can leave within the hour. Do you have your own forces you are waiting on? A rescue party, perhaps?" He reaches into his bag and pulls out an elven wineskin. "I have brought another gift from our homeland that you may enjoy; leaf-wine dating back to the days of the Bard-King. It is said to be the last of its kind, and a heady drink. Care for a small sip? Among the finer things in life, it is one of the very finest." His beautiful eyes twinkle in the room's soft light.
At this point, she'd pick him up herself to get them out of here; Azami awkwardly puts her gauntlet'd hand on his arm just below the elbow and follows him out.
Sense motive 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (5) + 13 = 18
Assuming they get out unbothered, the moment they exit, her hand falls away to join the other in folding across her chest and regarding the man. "What was that about?" she hisses, walking away from the palatial building - feeling the eyes of the spider from their bridges above.
@Wei: The wind starts to pick up more and more, and after a scant handful of seconds an enormous gust carries a small figure hurtling forward out of the nearby trees. It looks like an archer of immense skill, clade in flowing blue robes and golden armor, wielding a glowing bow and magicked longsword on its belt.
It floats wordlessly before you for a moment, its eyes hidden in the shadows of its helmet. It seems to not care about the approaching police, who are clearly audible in their approach, but at the sound of a distance *CLANNNNNNNG* far off to the north (your left), its eyes flash with mystical energy and it jets off in that direction, beckoning urgently for you to follow.
Sense Motive -> 1d20 + 17 ⇒ (15) + 17 = 32
Tokine politely refuses the wine, "There is much I must do in the next hour. But please, enjoy your wine and rest within the temple till your attendant returns. Please ask one of my staff if you have any other needs." She bows and turns.
As she starts to head out, she tries to dismiss her worries over this deal. Rhon and his companions were overwhelmed down there, any allies should be a boon, we will deal with the price later.
Things to do: check on the flooding, arrange for tonight's art items, arrange personal items for extended trip, make arrangements for temple operations - Short of time tonight but will work on this later if this meeting is over
@Tokine: The elf looks mildly surprised but bows politely and a bit expansively at your demurral and sits in one of the guest chairs, though he does not pour himself any wine, you notice.
Feel free to wrap up any of the loose ends you mentioned above while his companion fetches their "rescue party" and Ghar finishes whatever rogue-y things he's up to.
@Wei: You race through the woods after the zuishin, its moderate flying speed allowing you to easily keep up with it. After several minutes of running through gradually-thickening woods, you come to a small clearing. In this clearing is an ancient shrine to Gozreh, a place of power. It is not a significant power center, this small shrine to the woods and winds, but it is holy, and consecrated to the twin god/goddess of the elements, though the men and women currently defacing it don't seem much to care.
You're currently about two miles from civilization, and in the clearing before you are about 200 or so armed soldiers. From the sounds in the woods you are fairly certain that there are actually many more than 200 in the area, but you can only get a visual on that many.
Standing in the shrine, several clerics or priests of some sort are magically carving symbols into its stones while muttering chants under their breath while a group of about 20 soldiers is spreading some kind of strange reed on the ground around the shrine in a thick mat.
There are carriages and covered wagons and horses all around, indicating these people traveled some way, and they do indeed appear to be westerners; humans, elves, and half-elves.
Suddenly, you duck down as a pair of warriors walk by just a short distance from you; they were so silent and near-invisible that you didn't even see them. Thankfully they appear not to have seen you, but these two are clad in dragonhide armor that has been dyed to match the patterns of the foliage in this area, and walk with tremendous grace and lightness. The zuishin vanished when they came near, but now reappears. It is looking at the damage being done to the shrine, fury clear on its noble face.
1d20 + 13 ⇒ (11) + 13 = 24
Azami's steel gaze, once focused on Kyras for an answer, flickers away - scanning the space around them, with a brief check of the sky, despite the rain in her face. She makes a gesture to Kyras that clearly indicates she's not comfortable with the state of things, slowing her walk only a bit to be more aware.
Perception 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (7) + 10 = 17
K(Nature) 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (14) + 5 = 19 Awwww...
This is terrible! Unforgivable! Khangzhi thinks, struggling to supress his rage. He looks sadly at the zuishin and whispers, [b]"I am sorry, but there is nothing I alone can do. I must get help. But trust me, they will be made to suffer for this. And the shrine WILL be restored."[b]
This day is maddening, thwarted at every turn. A man under my protection was taken, the police are after me, and now this. There will be a reckoning. I'm sorry my friend Swift, I promise to find you too. Khangzhi gives the zuishin a pained look and heads off for the city, to find Chu.
Perception 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (17) + 10 = 27
Bluff 1d20 + 17 ⇒ (13) + 17 = 30
Kyras looks around intently, casting his senses in all directions. Kalaroth's possession may have some downsides, like occasionally seizing total control of his body and destroying ancient dragons, but there are benefits as well. His senses have grown sharper, even compared to the keen senses inherited from his father. He feels the rain hitting him, turning to steam from his heat. He hears the drops hitting the street, as well as Azami's heartbeat quickening. What raises her suspicions makes him cautious as well, so Kyras surreptitiously draws forth the magic of flight. While looking around, he says idly to Azami, "So, what's the plan? Mine didn't work out as well as I'd hoped." He is ready for an ambush, but looks like he is quite unprepared.
That he sidesteps her question is annoying, a feeling heightened by the rain and sense of uncomfortable tension of quiet around them. Her snipe of "Was handing the Shoto our personal stories part of that plan?" is the release valve for that irritation, usually all she might say. With Kyras, however, she continues in a lower tone. "The Honorable Curator awaits us at the Temple. I had believed that our descent into the undercity was to be later, after the Dinner, but they wish to do it now. We must attend the dinner, though. It was urged that we should, and I, for one, would like to know the whole story of the three factions before we must depart."
@Azami and @Kyras: There is a soft clacking sound, and Sera Zhongyi, deadlier of the Sera sisters, steps out of the front door of her city house.
"Gaijin." she says, and her voice is not unkind. It is, in fact, rather ragged. "...you are descending under the city. I would accompany you." Her steely eyes give away nothing.
Or, perhaps; both.
@Wei: the trip east to the city is long, but it is one you have made many times before. As you are joggging there, the rain stops for a bit, then picks up again. You could swear you see glorious dragon-kites in the sky, so life-like you would swear they were real, if you didn't know better; the true dragons haven't been seen for decades...centuries!
As a citizen of the empire, and one in good standing at that, you are welcomed in by the guards. You know that Chu is fond of studious endeavors, so you begin your search in the university and eventually find him in one of the libraries, surrounded by tomes, deep in study. He looks up as you approach.
@Chu: You are working intensely on the "problem of 1163" as you have come to think of it, when you hear soft, precise footsteps stop in front of your table. You look up and see Wei Khangzhi, an old acquaintance. He is a monk, and a keeper of a wildlife preserve west of the city. He has always been someone whom you could trust, and a faithful friend in times of difficulty, his more balanced and natural approach to learning an excellent counterpoint to your book-honed intellect. He looks a little winded, telling you he must have journeyed some distance to get to you.
Sense Motive 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (6) + 9 = 15
Kyras returns her steely gaze. After being snubbed by Situbo Shoto, he is not feeling charitable towards nobility. "Would you now? Oh, I guess if you order it, it must be done! Why do you need to go down there, and why should we take you?" He does not mean to be so rude, but it comes out impetuously anyway.
Sense Motive 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (12) + 14 = 26
Azami's gaze takes in the state of the woman who steps from her front door, finally meeting the scion's eyes with her own intense hold - seeking to affirm silently that a bond of a common experience of loss was now shared.
With a brief sharp glance at Kyras, the soldier gives a short bow. "Sera-Sama, we would be honored to have you at our side to reclaim our own." The stone in the pouch close to her skin, sodden after hours of rain this day, feels heavy around her neck even as the wooden gift of the Shoto is almost weightless at her side: a reminder that faith may be the truest gift possible in this world.
"We can speak of whys en route. An ally is welcome."
Zhongyi gives Azami a strange sideways look, then nods, almost imperceptibly. She gives a low whistle, and the door behind her bursts open and a hundred samurai come rushing smoothly out, in perfect formation. They line up behind her and shout the clan name.
"You are wiser than they give you credit for being, Ito-san. To go Under, one needs force, not stealth." The elder Sera sister falls in with the two of you. "What entrance were you planning to use?"
Azami is usually prefers to appear as though made of stone, rarely revealing how often she is made wrong-footed by the odd occurrences of the last few days; at the appearance of the flood of samurai, she openly blinks and is obviously taken aback by their number. Once she has regained composure, her storm-grey eyes survey the ranks of the samurai assembled with a soldier's eye.
"This soldier's wisdom may be in question when I tell you that we know little of what lies Under - or how to get there. Only that a noxious blossom flourishes there and has one of ours. We know of an entrance in the Honorable Curator's Temple." Azami glances around, as though uncertain how much to say in the middle of the street. "It will be conspicuous to have such a force interested in art," she deadpans.
|Chujitsuna Kage -Loyal Shadow-|
Chu stared at the many volumes before him, absorbing, calculating and flipping pages far faster then was humanly possible. The number 1163 was stuck in his mind and his fixation was proving to move beyond maddening at this point.
Jn be the indeﬁnite integral
Jn = Zx−n dx(ax2 + 2bx + c)12.
Rx−n−1(ax2 + 2bx + c)12 dx by parts, show that for n = 0, 6ncJn+1 + (2n −1)bJn + (n − 1)aJn−1 = −x−n(ax2+ 2bx + c)12.
Z 21dx x 5/2(x + 2)12.
No... That isn't right
The places on the map, they too would need to be investigated but there was too little time. He pulled forth another tome and flipped it open, perusing its pages as he tried to find information on these specific locations. Useless, too little information, too little time...
At the sound of Wei's light footed approach Chu nodding to him as he took in the whole picture. Wei appearing winded was worrisome and interesting at the same time, perking Chu's interest as he looked back to his books. "Honorable Wei, what brings you from your monastery? Were you testing yourself again? A curious exercise running across the country side if I must say. Please sit and drink some tea before you tell me your story." He flipped another page, reading quickly before flipping another page and casting prestidigitation to enhance the flavor of the cooling tea.
"Hah!" Zhongyi's laugh is a short and uncomfortable bark, rusty from disuse. She is about to reply to Azami when she closes her mouth abruptly and angles her head to one side. "Do you hear that? What is that?"
Perception 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (19) + 10 = 29
Azami's brow furrows, immediately looking around for the source of the sound - without leaving the sky or the ground out of her scan. If she cannot see anything, she will turn to her Warbanian friend. "Kyras," her voice clips, "Do you have a way to see that which cannot be seen?"
Perception 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (1) + 10 = 11
"Does lighting it on fire count?" Kyras hears nothing over the bootsteps of the samurai retainers and the slam of each raindrop on the ground, though he starts craning his neck around to look for an invisible enemy. Looking at Azami for guidance, he rockets up in the air to get a better view. The magic keeps him aloft, thirty feet above the rest, though he doesn't seem to be able to see anything from this height either.
Tokine bustles into the main reception area. Packing crates and protective cloth haphazardly spread everywhere. She picks her way through the chaos selecting and rejecting pieces for display. She is unaware that she seems to be selecting a high proportion of art associated with dragons. She tells her staff that there is one last piece to be displayed, hung behind where the Palace staff intend the poet to give his performance. It is wrapped in a large bamboo mat in her chambers.
She then checks in on the flood. Not knowing how to help other than to give encouragement to the balers and to tell them to keep an eye out for any strange arrivals similar to the koi transformation of earlier. When some of the younger staff pause to look at the find pond, she sighs "No....I don't mean watch the remaining koi. I mean, I don't know what to expect. This flood is unnatural and I expect an unnatural guest to follow it. Don't let it catch you by surprise, but I also don't expect it to be dangerous.
She then takes Imuri into her chamber and slide the privacy screen closed. Tokine sheds her kimono and finds a simple utilitarian robe used during morning exercises. She pulls it on over her delicate armor. From her closet she pulls out a painted silk kimono. "Have this delivered to the Palace with the art. I may not have time to come back and change."
Imuri looks at her questioningly and then at the kimono, her eyebrows go a little higher....the kimono depicted a Tsunami rising in a bay, as a brave fishing boat ascends the wave. "Are you sure on this? You have many nicer."
Tokine smiles a tired smile, "Quite sure....and these will be yours now. They are gifts to the Curator and that is what you will be after tonight."
"What are you saying?....Where are you going?" The first two coherent thoughts Imuri could muster to say.
Tokine goes to hug Imuri and calm the small shaking that had gripped her assistant. "I have been tasked for a mission. I will need to leave tonight. It is my prayer that the troubles that have plagued our temple will follow me and leave you and the others in peace. I need you to be strong in this."
"But...but I can't be the Curator. I don't know...
But Tokine gently cuts her off, "You know plenty. I rely on you to see that this place functions and now you can rely on Kai and Jinn. Call yourself Acting-Curator if that helps. But I do not know how long I will be gone."
Tokine releases her friend and gives her a gentle smile, and Imuri is able to put a brave smile on herself. "That's it, Imuri. The hardest part is to smile even when you don't feel like it. The others look to see you calm and in control....there I have given you the secret to successful Curating." That gets a small laugh out of Imuri and she feels that the crisis is passed.
Tokine heads back to her closet and pushes aside all that hang there. From the back depths she pulls out a dirty-looking old pack. "I know it doesn't look like much, but its Dwarven and pretty sturdy."
"I can have it mended and cleaned. Imuri offers helpfully.
Tokine smiles lovingly at the tattered pack and laughs, "Not on your life. I would lose all my reputation amongst the Dwarves. But my gear from 'an earlier time' are back in there. Can you see they get packed and this makes it way to the Palace as well? Like I said, I may be leaving quite quickly....and no...don't give me that look, this is hard enough, I can't tell you where I am going, as I am not quite sure myself. But I have less than an hour, to center myself for what will likely prove to be an event-filled night. Can you see that I am not disturbed for about 10 minutes of meditation, but come get me after that...don't let me linger...too much to do."
Tokine settles and tries to clear her mind...friends smiling, friends dying, friends left behind or missing, friends in need, friends killing...her lower lip quivers...there is just too much...too much she must do...too much is expected of her...too much that she just can't let go of.
She puts her head down and silently cries.....cursing herself, knowing this is the one part of the job she had not prepared Imuri for.
With a quick bow, Khangzhi begins. "Honorable Chu, I regret that I must interrupt your studies momentarily. Indeed, I have had no time today for meditations or martial exercises, as my day has been quite full of incident. I began this morning by finding a wounded man at my sanctuary. He had been attacked by a local criminal organization I am sure you are familiar with, the Plum Blossom Syndicate. Shamefully, while I was able to get him to a healer, I could not fully protect him from the group of antagonists that came for us. He called himself 'Swift' and is currently in their hands. During my pursuit of his captors, I came across a small army not far from this city. They were defiling a shrine, much to the chagrin of the local Kami. I was then forced to choose between the possibly hopeless task of tracking multiple ninja through the woods, or bringing news to someone of this nefarious group, I chose the one I could accomplish."
The nagaji pauses for a breath, and tilts his head slightly. "But more importantly, tea! I don't suppose you have fish oil with you?"
|Chujitsuna Kage -Loyal Shadow-|
At the mere mention of the Plum Blossom Syndicate, each and every tome slaps shut as if by their own volition. For now his studies on the strange and rather maddening 1163 were over, he leaned back, his eyes mere slits as he listened to the rest of Khangzhi-Lung's story. Arcing a golden scaled eye brow at the mention of a shrine being defiled by some army in the woodlands outside the city. Quite curious... No mercy in how they are dealt with... He waved his hand, not only had he improved the taste of the tea he warmed it up to a suitable temperature as well. "No regrets needed and sadly I have no fish oil on me today, I have been rather distracted of late. Five headed demons, syndicates, disintegration and the like. Its rather laborious, now..." He turned his attention back to the story, that was the interesting bit. "I know not who this Swift is but you spoke of the defilement of a shrine? A small army as well within our borders. Were they westerners? Dragonflight? No, nevermind, we need to get this to the Marshall this needs to be dealt with and you best catch your breath as they will demand even more detail from you." He stands and lets Khangzhi-Lung finish the tea before sweeping off to the Marshall's barracks. "You were right to bring this to the palace, we will deal with this today, it's time the Empire showed the kingdoms we are not to be trifled with."
@Azami and @Kyras: Kyras sees them first, but they are soon visible to all of you. Gaijin -- dozens and dozens of them -- are pouring out of various buildings. Busboys, artisans, guests, drunks, husbands, wives, all kinds of people, elves and half-elves and humans are pouring out into the street and taking off at a jog towards the...
...towards Tokine's temple.
The Sera samurai look to their leader for guidance, but Zhongyi holds up one hand, signaling them to stand down. All around you are rapid footsteps, and you can see them running by, but they pay you absolutely no mind, if they even notice you at all.
At this point Zhongyi speaks only to Azami, barely taking note of Kyras. "I don't like whatever this is, but we cannot concern ourselves with happenstance at this time, not if we want any chance at success." She gives Azami a significant look, then motions her samurai forward towards the temple district.
Kangzhi politely sips the offered tea, and follows Chu as he swoops off. "Swift, if I am not mistaken, is the name of some folk hero to the people here. But dragonflight? What is that? They were clearly foreigners, elves and humans, and they were spreading some sort of reed around the shrine, but I could not identify it, so I do not know to what end. Thiss, and the other things you mention tell me I have spent to much time isolated at my sanctuary. What on earth is going on in the empire?"
|Chujitsuna Kage -Loyal Shadow-|
K-Local - what do I know about Swift?1d20 + 10 ⇒ (10) + 10 = 20
Passing through the halls his robes swirling with each graceful stride as Chu swiftly makes his way to the Marshall's barracks. "Too much to explain right now I'm afraid and some of which is a most sensitive matter, but one step at a time. We deal with these invaders and stop whatever it is they are up to." Chu didn't like this one bit, kidnappings, death, disappearances were happening almost daily. If he got his hands on one of these invaders he'd force the information from them, by any means if it meant keeping the Empire safe.
"Indeed. Well, naturally I defer to you on political matters." Following smoothly behind the serpentfolk, Khangzhi methodically cracked his knuckles, one at a time. The old warrior within was anxious to bring retribution to these soldiers and criminals. "I shall trust you to direct my fists in this matter."
She will remain under guard until I return, but demonstrate my father's courtesy, Imuri says as we walks briskly to the shrine where his air shugenja await. Send a message to Lord and Lady Shoto that I will be leaving soon to do the Emperor's will. I will need a magistrate as yojimbo and our best maps of any portion of the undercity.
He glides into the temple and awaits the priests' bow, which he returns slightly. The portents are good, my fellow Spider, but no victory was ever one merely by consulting the ancestors. We havetimeless enemies, and it does not please me that the Spider are behind. To the Gossamer Palace.
Tokine raises her head. Was I sleeping? What was that...? She wipes at the moistness still on her cheeks. <tinkle>
She finds the source of the noise. The Songbird was nudging a small bronze bell in her direction. A little closer with each push of its beak...<tinkle> "Is that for me?" and the bird lets out an affirmative warble.
"You are such a dear. Here to cheer me up?' She takes the bell and finds a leather cord to use to attach it to her glaive.
Hearing it harmonize with all the other bells brings her thoughts back into focus, Yes. There is much to do. I hope I have time before the flood really hits.
She leaves her chamber and makes her way quickly to the Temple's supply room, avoiding all possible diversions. Jana, the attendant rises and bows at Tokine's entrance. "Good Afternoon Jana. I need a scroll tube of about this size..." and she pulls up her voluminous robe sleeve to reveal a tied scroll tube along her arm. "Next, I will need the oldest blank canvas that you can find...and I mean old. I know we had some saved for comparison studies. I need one about this size," as Tokine motions with her hands the proper dimensions. A small vial of strong acid, the stuff the preservers dilute to clean metal. And finally a clutch of the most vibrant paints we have...and some wax.[/b]
Tokine waits as Jana hustles through the racks of art and crafting supplies, placing the items on a large work desk as she acquires them, until finally all were arranged before Tokine. Tokine smiles and bows. "Thank you Jana. The one last thing I require is a little privacy."
Tokine had removed the scroll tube from her arm while waiting. She now removed the rolled paintings within and transferred them to the newly acquired tube with seals of Shelyn. She murmured a small prayer to her Goddess for forgiveness for what she was about to perpetrate. She laid out the canvas and dabbed at it with the paints. Not trying to actually create art, but only to get enough paint on the page to seem like it might have been painted. Not sparing a moment for it to dry, she rolls it into the the empty tube that carried the Plum Blossom caps.
She then loosened the cap on the acid. Working a pinch of wax between her fingers she softened it enough to mold it as a seal around the opening of the bottle. She then replaced the cap and pushed it tight...tight enough not to spill immediately but not strong enough to withstand a sharp shock. The bottle, she carefully fitted into the tube with the fresh "painted" canvas. Found a little packing material to keep the bottle in place and sealed the caps back in place.
Pausing to look around to ensure she is in fact alone, she <whack> slams the tube several times against the desk until she hears a small tinkle of glass with tube. She gives it a few rough shakes, but then a few more gentle shakes until she does not hear the rattle of glass, as if the stopper had come to rest away from the bottle. This tube she then carefully wraps to her chest with a wide, strong cloth and readjusts her robes.
She concludes with another prayer to Shelyn, for forgiveness for any deception and to hopefully bless what she hopes to pull off that might fool those greedy enough to want to bring harm to others over a piece of art.
Tokine takes a deep breath, prepares her smiles and reenters the scuttling activity that has taken over her usually peaceful temple.
Hoping Neutral Good and a little luck will cover what she is trying to do and her recent appreciation of Bluff. Also hoping that short respite might have been enough to gain the spells she would get for leveling. Might come in handy later.
@Chu and @Wei: The two of you sweep into the palace proper and, with Chu's high-level credentials, are quickly granted access to one of the generals. When you deliver the news, he looks stunned. "You are certain of this? How long must they have been gathering, I wonder, and how many more are there?! I will send scouts immediately to get a full reckoning of how many are out there. This is most troubling."
@Tokine: You finish your preparations in time to hear one of the younger interns call your name. "Madame Curator! Madame Curator! They are here, they are all here! Oh!" Stepping outside with no small amount of reluctance, you are surprised to find, outside your temple door, nearly 200 armed and armored gaijin, all in urban combat gear, and disciplined ranks. The elf and human who greeted you so cordially are both smiling. "Ah, Nagano-san. Here we have our 'friends', ready to help."
It is not a little alarming to think that these men summoned a large fighting force in a phenomenally small amount of time. Just where, exactly, had all these warriors been?
Off to your right, Ghar returns with the remaining members of his party; both Gwen and Naradil look murderous. Behind them is Erudima, the young Mambani noble, also grim-faced and ready to fight.
Then, behind the two regiments already here, you are astonished to see fully 100 armored samurai, all clad in jet-black Clan Sera armor and led by none other than the lethal Sera Zhongyi, who is accompanied by Kyras and Azami.
|Erudima del Fana del Solarian|
@Azami and @Kyras: You follow the westerners through the streets. They stop at trash barrels, secret compartments in walls, low buildings, and other places and slowly arm and armor themselves over the course of the trip. By the time they arrive at the temple, they are a fully-prepared fighting force two hundred strong.
At the temple, Tokine seems taken aback to see not only you two, but Zhongyi, the samurai, the westerners, and what's left of Rhon's team.
A wind picks up, the mists get batted about, and thicken.
@Shoto Imuri: You return to the gossamer palace and your father informs of you what recently transpired, with the gaijin Kyras Erodal making a strange, brash move requesting aid from your clan that he did not need. He inquires if there was some agreement between the two of you that might have inspired the westerner to do this.
The gaijin presumes help from the Spider despite his behavior, so he is in dire need. I also need aid the Sera clan and the Empire at large. Imuri fingers a thin silk pouch absently, considering the exchange he must perform later.
I humbly ask, Fsther, where did you send the gaijin and his hapless keeper?
"Away. I also dispatched Ahara to follow them and report back what she finds." Your father looks at you mildly. "It will interest you to know that Zhongyi has taken one hundred of her best samurai -- The Black Orchid regiment -- to the Temple of Cultural Exchange, and is in the company of Azami Ito and Kyras Erodal and two hundred gaijin soldiers whose origin I do not know."
Ahara, you know, is your father's most trusted infiltrator and spy.
This Ahara - is she pretty well defined? What do I know about her? or do you want me to just make her up?
Imuri bows low. Performing a mental inventory, he produces a magnificent jade shogi piece - a king. Today I serve aMother Spider and her Emperor. I do not know where the winds will carry me, but I leave the Web to find my own prey and destiny. Pease tell Yohuro-sama I will remember my lessons.
Imuri bows again and leaves for the museum.