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"Return of the Rod of the Seven Parts" - D&D

Silver Moon

Villager
Silver Moon Adventurer Modules

Chinese Take-out trilogy:
Modules 100 "Chinese Take- out" - Posts 2 to 51 & 57 to 97
Module 101 "Village of the Blessed Children" - Posts 52 to 56
Module 114 "Chinese Take-out Epilogue" Posts 98 to 100

Module 102 - "Tiger by the Tail" Posts 107 and 108

Module 103- "Coronation" Posts 109 and 110

Module 105 - "Return of the Rod of the Seven Parts (20 Year Anniversary Round Robin Game) Posts 111-up


“Chinese Take-out”.
A module set in the Forgotten Realms Kara-Tur Setting. It is set during the time of the Realm of Cities, in the land of Tu-Lung, primarily in the Provinces of Ausa and East Wai.

This module was played as the 100th module of the Silver Moon Gaming Group, from March 2001 to January 2002. The Epilogue was played in November 2002. The Story Hour is very long (92 Chapters), followed by a short Epilogue (3 Chapters). Please be sure to leave a reader comment when you're done!
 
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Silver Moon

Villager
Chinese Take-out

Background (A short summary of the previous “Retake the Island” module):

The adventuring party resides on Silver Moon Island, which is situated off the coast of the Kingdom of Phlooredah. King Matthan of Phlooredah had lost the approval of many of the land’s Lordholders, who now sought to replace him. The high-level members of the Silver Moon Adventurers traveled to a Council of the Lords for the selection of a new ruler. The Council met for several days, and was evenly divided between either selecting Lord Kindor of the Jawlt Lordholding or re-appointing King Matthan. A compromise was finally reached, with both Kindor and Matthan agreeing to allow Matthan’s estranged wife, Queen Jennifer, serve as Phlooredah’s new ruler for a fifteen-year period.

While the party leaders were away from their home an old enemy, the Arch Mage Morgarth used the opportunity to seek his revenge against them. He assembled an army comprised of approximately 70 Adventurers, 200 Bugbear, 300 Hobgoblins, and 30 Trow (elephant-footed giants) to attack the island and capture the hirelings and lower-level party members. This army was predominantly successful. They managed to capture all except a small group of mid-level party members, who hid in the forest and resorted to guerilla tactics against the invaders.

During to the attack, Morgarth and his druid Spring enhanced and diverted a tropical storm towards the island, increasing it to hurricane force. The Arch-Mage then confronted the high-level members, taunting them about what he had done. The group teleported back to their home to rescue their family and friends. Once back, Morgarth surrounded the island with an anti-magic barrier, to prevent the adventurers from either receiving further help or escaping.

For the next week the high-level party, assisted by the mid-level escapees, took on Morgarth’s army during the worst storm in over a century. In the end, the Silver Moon party was victorious. When the storm had cleared and the anti-magic barrier was dropped, Morgarth returned to collect his followers. He found that only 24 adventurers remained of his 600 strong army. The angry Arch Mage then narrowly escaped capture, bringing his two-dozen followers away with him.

A month (and another DM's module) has now passed since the attack. The Silver Moon have buried their dead, healed their wounded and cleaned up the Island from the invasion, battles and storm. The adventurers have been diligently searching for Morgarth’s current whereabouts, to no avail.
 

Silver Moon

Villager
Chinese Take-out

Introduction: "Pick a character, any character", September 9th, 1018:

The day begins with the arrival of an ally, the elderly human mage Oterel. Oterel tells the Silver Moon Adventurers that simultaneous to their battle on the island he had cast a scry spell to locate Morgarth, receiving an image of the Arch Mage within a large stone castle surrounded by forests. Oterel teleported to this location and fought the Arch Mage. Oterel was wounded and fled before he could ascertain the exact location of the citadel. He has spent the time since then recovering in isolation. Morgarth’s castle can no longer be located through magical means.”

“Great, so we still don’t have a clue where he is,” Lannon comments. Oterel says that is not entirely true, as he had taken three books from a desk in Morgarth’s library. One is written in an odd variation of the Common Tongue, and the others are written in two different Oriental languages. "See what you can make of them,” Oterel states, pulling the texts out of the bag of holding. Two are large leather-bound volumes with yellowed parchment pages. The third is much smaller, ten by eight inches and about a half-inch thick with a cardboard binder on it. The group immediately recognizes the smaller book as being bound similar to those from the world of their party member Alton (20th Century Earth), and that the language it is written in is the odd variant of common used on that world. Alton is immediately summoned to help. The other two books are indeed written in an Oriental language, so they call for the only Oriental member of their ship's crew, Toshiro Mitsubishi, to come help with the translation.

The druid Alton soon arrives. Alton was originally a San Francisco hippie from 1967, who accidentally wound up on this world a decade earlier. He identifies the first text as being an Operations and Flight Manual for a type of military aircraft, listed as an X-51 Stealth Fighter and constructed by a company called by Rockwell International. He has trouble reading the copyright date on the book, never having been good with Roman numerals, but thinks it is from slightly after his time frame. The group decides to let Alton hang onto this particular book.

Toshiro is able to identify the languages that both of the other books are written in. One is a Zoology text, written in the native language of his homeland, the Heian Empire (Japanese). The other is written in the language of a land to the west of his Empire (Chinese). He says that he was once taught that language by his Uncle, but has forgotten much of it during the past decade away from the Orient, so may take him a while to figure it out.

Oterel mentions that from Morgarth's Castle the heavily wooded forests appeared to be plentiful with animals. The only people he sighted were at a pond around few miles away, where a group of naked Oriental humans of both genders were swimming alongside several Bullywug, Lizardmen, and what appeared to be a humanoid octopus. “Sounds like his castle is in Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom,” is Mojo’s comment. A member of the party reminds the others that during the hurricane they had once spotted a quartet of humanoid animals, some dressed in Oriental armor, working with Morgarth's troops.

The party suggests that they bring both books with them the next day on their visit to the Phlooredah town of Gelorynth as they are scheduled to pick up magic items lost by Morgarth's troops that the wizard Derieki has been identifying for them. They are optimistic that he will have information from this that will lead them to Morgarth. Toshiro is told "You had better come along too."

A short discussion follows as to which of their thirty party members to send. Lord Narg, the group’s reckless and charismatic half-elvan leader, announces that he will head the mission. His elvan roommate and sidekick, Mojo Rising, immediately sounds off “Me too.” Mark, a half-elf ranger, states “Count me in”. The constantly eating dwarven fighter Duegar waves a turkey leg in the air and says between bites “Wouldn’t miss it.” Lannon, the group’s other dwarf and also their highest level thief, utters “Ditto.”

Narg comments, “Great, with the Toshiro kid, that now makes five fighters and a thief. How about some healing and spells?” Two of the party’s founding members both sign on. One is the beautiful and belligerent druid, Serita. The other is the tall and quiet human cleric Timothy, a follower of Ukko. The half-elf Cassie-Andra, the group’s highest level mage and also a cleric of Math, agrees to go. With Cassie going along her boyfriend, the elvan archer Aradyn, now refuses to stay behind. He claims that he wants to find and kill Morgarth, but everyone suspects other motives, as Cassie and a neutral-aligned mage now working for Morgarth had once been attracted to each other.

Deciding that a second mage might also be needed, the half-elf Fiona also joins. Knowing her general antipathy towards fighters Mojo comments “You’d lower yourself to be seen with us.” She answers “I’ll make the sacrifice.” Mojo’s petulant half-elf cousin Lono announces “I’m coming too.” Several party members object to having the foul-mouthed youngster with them, but reconsider once Lannon points out that they might need another with thieving skills.

Deciding that twelve is enough, they set off for in their ship, sailing towards Phlooredah.
 

Silver Moon

Villager
Chinese Take-out

Chapter One: "Your mission if you choose to accept it", September 10th, 1018:

Arriving at the coastal town of Gelorynth, they head directly to the home of their wizard friend Derieki. Derieki had been given all of the magic items to identify that had been taken from the defeated attackers after the previous month’s battles. The mage describes the different items, some of which are taken by those present. The remaining items are separated out into piles of “keep as party magic” or “see if anyone else on the island wants it.”

The last items are a group of ten flare wands, which Derieki says that he has some very interesting information about them. He has identified them as each being over 400 years old, which is very unusual given that they are single-use magic items. He says that he also found engraved beneath the painted color on each a symbol in Oriental writing. Toshiro examines this, stating that this is in his homeland’s language, and designates the name of the color.

Derieki next examines the two books that they have with them. He points out to the party that the margin notes written in one of the books is in a different language than the other, but both appear to have been written by the same person, as the handwriting is identical. Furthermore, the Oriental symbols on the wands also appear to have been engraved by the same person. He finds a notation that Toshiro missed which indicates that book is signed by a man named Lee Takayama over four hundred years earlier. The group decides that they need to find more information about this person, as it appears to be their best lead to finding Morgarth.

Toshiro states that, although not familiar with the specific individual who wrote the book, that he may know of his descendents, as the Takayama family are a wealthy and prominent family where he is from. The Takayama's family business is the creating and selling of unique magic items. The party concludes that this is their best clue, and inquires to Toshiro about teleporting the party to his homeland. Toshiro agrees, stating that he has been away for more than a decade, having been forced to leave, but that he has recently been contacted that it is now safe for him to return.

“Hold on a minute, forced to leave?” comments Cassie. “Maybe you should give us some more background before we head off to this place.” As Derieki serves a late dinner to the group, their crewmember begins to tell them his life story, something that he has never spoken of before.

Toshiro Mitsubishi lived with his family in a sprawling mansion in Miyako, the capital city of the Heian Empire (Japan), a nation comprised of approximately 200 islands, with a total population of five million people. The land was divided into forty different regions, each ruled by a Warlord, who swore allegiance to the Emperor. While the Emperor had little authority in this decentralized government structure, he was respected by all and also commanded a standing army to protect the Empire from foreign invaders.

His farther Tametoki and his mother Rinshi had done very well and were one of the leading families of Miyako. They were a generous family, trying to care for the poor and defenseless. Unfortunately, this altruistic view has often brought trouble to the Mitsubishi family. Behind closed doors they were often referred to as the “babysitters of the city” and laughed about at private meetings. This, however, began to change when the Empress Shosi began to take an interest in the family. The love and loyalty that the peasants and workers gave to this family fascinated the Empress. She began to have audiences with the matriarch and most respected member of the Mitsubishi family, Toshiro’s grandmother. The entire family soon became frequent quests at the Emperor’s Palace. It was at that time that the daughter of Empress Shosi, Katako met Toshiro and after many visits they fell in love. The word of this blossoming love spread quickly and soon it reached the Hyundi family and to its’ only heir Kinto.

Kinto was the only son of the powerful Hyundi family and was enraged that the daughter of the Empress was in love with a weak family who cared more for the beggars than the glory of the Empire. He decided to take care of this matter and gain Katako’s hand, and a step getting his family closer to the throne. He began by formally approaching the Emperor and asking for his daughter’s hand, but was refused due to the fact that she has been promised to another. The Emperor liked Toshiro, and saw that the union with his daughter could bring peace to the land, while Kinto could only bring war. Furious at this refusal Kinto, stormed out and headed to the Mitsubishi house and demanded a meeting with the Lord and Lady of the house. He was let in and spoke to Tametoki in the guest quarters. Kinto soon became enraged, and a fight broke out. Rinshi tried to flee to summon the estate guards, but Kinto struck her, knocking her to the floor. It was at this time that Toshiro was walking nearby, and saw his mother being assaulted and father being threatened. He lost control, drew his sword and attacked Kinto from behind, slaying him.

When night had come and Toshiro’s parents were bandaged and healed, they had to make preparations, to beg for Toshiro’s life. Although defending ones parents is honorable, he slew his enemy from behind, and that would bring disgrace to his family. Kinto’s family would demand retribution for the loss of their son. They pleaded to the Emperor for their son’s life. The Emperor, fond of Toshiro and the love he has for his daughter, decided to exile Toshiro from the Empire as punishment, with him to not to return unless sent for. The Emperor told them that he would send Katako to a monastery to be kept safe for the times to follow. As Toshiro set out to leave left his family his farther gave him the family arms and sword to guard and protect him in his travels. Toshiro left at the age of 16, and has been wandered the world for a few years before finding himself in City of Jawltorn eight years ago, when he was hired on as a crew member of the ship Silver Moon.

Toshiro concludes his story by saying that a few months ago, one sunrise on the Island, he spotted a crane from his homeland that bore a letter. The letter said that it was safe for him to come home now and he should hurry, as his Grandmother is old and would like to see her grandson son before she passes on. The letter briefly stated that the Hyundi family is no more, due to their attempt to take the throne from the Emperor. The Emperor has now cleared all charges against Toshiro, and would welcome him back into the bosom of the Empire. He says that he considered asking the party for transportation back to his homeland, but felt that to do so would be too bold for someone of his station, as a servant of theirs. “Buddy, if you want something you just need to speak up,” says Narg, “the worst we would have done is say no.”

The party decides that it is now time for them to travel to the Orient. All except for Serita and Toshiro climb into the party's the bags of holding. Serita gives Toshiro her Ring of Teleportation, and explains to him how it works. She then does a druidic transformation, taking on the form of an eagle, and lands on his shoulder. At approximately 10:00 P.M., Toshiro teleports away from Derieki’s mansion.
 

Silver Moon

Villager
Chinese Take-out

Chapter 2: "The Prodigal Son Returns", September 11, 1018

[DM's Note: The reference source for this chapter is the Internet web site www.taleofmurasaki.com , which gives great historical detail of 11th century Japan, as well as an interesting cast of characters. While this is based on historical Japan, if a DM would prefer to keep this a pure Forgotten Realms setting this location could be considered part of the Kozakura Island chain.]

The party arrives at the Mitsubishi estate in Miyako, the capital city of the Heian Empire. As they are on the opposite side of the world it is now 10:00 A.M. the following morning. They are in a garden pagoda, which he says is the Fishing Pavilion, as it is beside a small pond. Toshiro says that he will need to go find somebody, and for the party to wait there. He returns in a few minutes, saying that he has spoken to a servant, who is informing his parents of his return. Toshiro says that he will go speak to his parents, and bring them to meet the party.

The estate is rather large, situated in the nicer past of the city, east of the Emperor’s palace. The estate is comprised of a large walled in square occupying nine acres of land. There are multiple buildings, all pagoda-style. From where the party is Toshiro points out in the distance the Main Pavilion, where his family reside, a Guest Pavilion to the west of it, and Pavilion to the east of it where extended family live. Housing for servants are situated behind the three main buildings.

He returns in a few minutes with his parents, and introduces everyone. Toshiro’s father thanks them for safely returning his son, and invites them to stay as guests for as long as they would like. He asks a servant bring them to their new quarters at the guest pavilion. During the conversation Toshiro gives an annoying look to Serita, who has remained in bird form. Toshiro leaves with his parents, and the three take a walk in the estate’s garden.

The party enters the building, and is shown to their individual quarters. The building actually has just a single room, with paper patricians separating it into different sections. Narg asks where the furniture is, and is informed that the pillows on the floor are the chairs, and that the mats on the floor, which he thought were rugs, are the beds. “No wonder Toshiro took his time coming back here” Narg mutters.

Meanwhile, Toshiro briefly talks to his parents about his travel and adventures. He also asks about what has happened since he left home and how his beloved is doing. They appear some-what evasive, but say that she is well. After that he explains his relationship with the group and why they are here. He tells them that he is glad to be home and can't wait to see Katako, but first he must "help the Silver Moon defeat the evil wizard Morgarth and stop the plague of evil his is growing in their homeland. This evil is great and he might not live to see his wedding to Katako become reality, but it is his honor that is at stake if he backs out on the Silver Moon now, and who would want to marry a man with no honor."

Although it is approaching noon where they now are, to the party it is now almost midnight, so they decide that it would be best to just get a good long rest in order to reacclimatize to the new time zone. The party sleeps throughout the day, some staying awake during part of the night, but most just taking advantage of being to get a nice long rest.

September 12, 1018: 5:30 A.M.

Toshiro arrives at the guest pavilion. Narg asks “When’s breakfast?” Toshiro explains that the traditional Heian household has two meals a day, at approximately 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. Hearing that, several party members break out rations to snack on. Toshiro explains that the entire extended family will be gathered for the meals, and that there is to be minimal of conversation at meals, as one should maintain eye contact to whoever is talking but it is considered rude to stare at somebody while they are eating. He said that a formal family meeting would follow the meal that the party has been asked to attend. He also tells them that the party's animals - Fiona's cat familiar, Cassie's owl familiar, and Serita while in eagle form – will not be allowed to enter the main pavilion during the meal, and should wait in the guest pavilion. He then informs Serita that she will have to remain in eagle form and act like a bird during the party's entire visit, as she had not changed back by the time he had brought his parents to meet the party. If his family were to now find out that she had met them in disguise it would be considered dishonorable, and could jeopardize any help from Toshiro’s family. She is very upset about this, feeling that he should have informed her of this in advance.

He suggests that the party clean up before the meal. The servants show them to a “communal bath”, which most of the party is reluctant to use as a group, but the two dwarves think nothing of stripping down and diving in. Narg mutters about maybe taking one later, but only if the servants can change the water and remove the dirt ring that the dwarves will leave around the tub. The group are all provided with kimonos to wear. Narg complains about having to wear a dress, but reluctantly attires himself accordingly, although he decides to keep on his sneakers (obtained on Alton's world) rather than the sandals that had been provided.

Shortly before the meal the party is led by a servant into the main pavilion, which has been set up with a series of small tables about a foot above the floor, with pillows around it. Toshiro’s parents are seated at the head table, along with two middle-aged Japanese men, a middle-aged Japanese woman, and an elderly Japanese woman. Toshiro is seated at another table, with young men and men. There are two other tables with Japanese people of various ages, and a guest table that has been set out for the party. The group immediately notices that the table is short two pillows, and all but Lannon and Duegar are directed to sit down. Toshiro notices the party’s confusion, and comes over to them, telling both Lannon and Duegar that there appears to have been a misunderstanding, as his parents must have assumed the two dwarves were the party’s servants. To correct this now would cause embarrassment, so he says for them to just play along, and he will discuss this privately with his parents later.

The meal consists of a variety of dishes, including soups, rice, noodles, fish, meats, and assorted vegetables all served in bowls. The household servants assist Lannon and Duegar with bringing food to the party, and then clearing the dishes afterwards. The two dwarves take it in stride, taking their cues from the servants.

Following the meal most of those in the room leave, including all females except for Cassie, Fiona and the elderly woman. Four large wooden chairs are brought into the room, and the three men and elderly woman take seats. Toshiro moves over to sit with the Silver Moon. Toshiro's father begins speaking, introducing the other two men as his brothers Hiroshi and Takeshi, and the woman as his mother, the leader of the family.

Lannon and Duegar accompany the servants to the servants’ quarters, where an elaborate meal comprised of the “leftovers” awaits them. Rather than eating in silence, the servants converse freely during the meal, those who know it speaking in the common language. They break out several bottles of an alcoholic drink that they call Sake. The two dwarves conclude that they lucked out by being mistaken as servants, and question whether they want to correct this misunderstanding.

In the main room the grandmother gives great thanks to the party for returning Toshiro to them, and asks for more detail about this great evil that they are seeking, which may be threatening the Empire. Aradyn and Cassie do most of the talking, telling of being attacked at their home, and now seeking their enemy. They explain how they have found clues indicating that their enemy now resides in a castle that was owned centuries before by a man named Lee Takayama. They came here to Miyako, because Toshiro spoke of a prominent family here with the same family name.

The grandmother confirms that the Takayama’s are indeed a well-respected and powerful family within the city, who are creators and sellers of great magic. She mentions that it was through them that she had gotten the message to Toshiro several months earlier saying that it was now safe to come home. She says that she will contact the Takayama Family Elder to arrange an audience for the party.

She then speaks to Toshiro, saying that now that he has returned, there is another obligation that he has to perform. She asks if he remembers the man named Hijari Toyota, who served as the chief advisor to the current Emperor, as well as his two predecessors. Toshiro says that he does remember the man. The grandmother says that Toyota died three months ago, and that Toshiro needs to visit the Emperor’s palace to pay respects to the man's widow, and that an audience for this has been arranged for him on the following day. “Certainly”, is Toshiro’s answer. She then says “You do not fully understand my grandson. His widow is not the woman Shutashi that you remember, for she died many years ago, shortly after you left on your journeys.” Toshiro’s face turns pale, and he softly mutters to Aradyn “I think I know where this is going.”

The grandmother explains that around six years ago the elderly Toyota’s health began to deteriorate, and that as a lonely widower he had nobody to care for him. The Emperor was indebted to him for his many decades of service, and decided to reward the man by providing for him both companionship and the honor of officially becoming a member of the royal family. The Emperor decided to offer him the hand of his daughter Katako, who had been living in seclusion at a monastery for five years at that point. This would also solved the problem of the Hyundai family. Yensu Hyundai, the cousin of Kinto, had formerly asked for Katako’s hand in marriage a month earlier, and the Emperor had been procrastinating giving a reply.

When the word of this engagement reached the Hyundai family Yensu became enraged, and demanded an audience with Toyota. The elderly adviser met with the young man, thinking that he only wished to offer his families best wishes for the marriage. Instead, Yensu drew and shortsword and attacked the old advisor, yelling that this was a “duel of honor for her hand”. Hijari Toyota quickly realized that, as an elderly septuagenarian in frail health, he would be no match against a healthy twenty-year old. He had, however, once been trained as a monk, and quickly recalled four different open-hand movements designed to immediately incapacitate a foe. The first two of these were unsuccessful, and he took a sword slash across his chest, that thankfully did not penetrate deep enough to cause fatal damage. On his third attack Hijari hit the appropriate pressure points to stun Yensu, followed by his forth and final move, a successful strike in the larynx, which proved to be fatal to young Hyundai. By this time, the commotion in the Emperor’s palace had drawn a crowd, including the Empress. Yensu’s dishonorable actions were sufficient to have the Hyundai family banished from the Empire.

Toshiro's grandmother explains how, at that point in time, they could have contacted Toshiro to return, but felt that it would be heartbreaking for him to find his beloved married to another. For that reason they chose to wait. When Hijari Toyota died in the spring she then sent word to her grandson to return. The grandmother then looks to the Silver Moon Adventurers, asking that some of them accompany Toshiro during his visit to the royal palace, as me might need their support and friendship to get through the emotional reunion with Katako. She reminds Toshiro to “Act honorably and appropriately. Remember, she is a widow, and another ten weeks remain of the traditional half-year period of mourning.” Lono mutters to Mojo “I guess that means he won’t be getting any.”

The grandmother tells the party that they are free to travel the city, but also informs them that only those of pure races populate the Empire, and so those of hybrid races should cover their heads and faces when traveling about. “What, you guy’s don’t like half-elves?” Narg exclaims, “And you want me to hide who I am?”. The grandmother answers “I personally do not share in those prejudices, and you are welcome to go anywhere you wish on our estate. Many in this city, however, do not share my feelings on that subject. The Takayama family is probably the most vocal in their opposition to hybrid races, so if it is information that you seek from them, it is probably best that you do not antagonize them unnecessarily.” The party returns to the guest pavilion. The half-elves of the party (Cassie, Fiona, Lono, Mark, & Narg) complain bitterly about the restriction. “At least you aren’t stuck as a bird” Serita's player comments.
 
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Silver Moon

Villager
Chinese Take-out

Chapter 3, "The Favorite Uncle", September 12, 1018:

Toshiro’s Uncle Hiroshi soon joins the party. Toshiro had told his grandmother about the misunderstanding regarding the dwarves, having explained that Duegar and Lannon are prominent members of the group, which in the Heian Empire would be the equivalent of dwarven clan chiefs. Hiroshi explains that he had worked as a Jeweler and Gem Merchant, and his travels throughout the Orient had him serve as a diplomat with dwarven clans, so he was asked by the grandmother to offer Duegar and Lannon the formal apologies from the family. “Hey, no big deal.” Lannon answers. Hiroshi then offers them a gift, of a large bottle of Sake, and has also brought glasses. As the dwarves and Hiroshi sit down for a drink many of the other party members decide to join them. The party soon becomes very comfortable with this older man, especially given that he speaks common without any hint of an accent. He is even familiar with colloquial expressions and slang that are part of the group's everyday vocabulary. He says that they can call him “Hiro” rather than his full formal name. Toshiro appears to be uncomfortable with Hiroshi’s “casualness” around the party, being used to far more formality while at the family estate.

The remainder of the day is spent with the party drinking with Hiro. The older man mentions that he is a linguist, speaking over a dozen Oriental languages. Cassie shows him the two books, which he is able to easily translate. Hiro tells her that since the zoology text is both an antique, and written by Lee Takayama, it would make an excellent present to give to the Takayama Family during their audience, as presents are part of all formal meetings. She asks if he would be able to first “copy” it for her, so that she could retain the information, which he agrees to.

The party asks Hiroshi about the different races in this Empire. He explains that there are only two native races to the land of the Heian Empire, elf and human. Humans currently comprise approximately 62% of the population, and elves comprise approximately 37%. The remaining 1% of the population is comprised mostly of visiting dwarves that came from the continent west of the Empire during the past half-century, and they live primarily at or near mining areas, and not in the major population centers.

“If there are both elves and human, then why no half-elves?” asks Cassie. He explains that law forbids inter-racial marriage between the Heian humans and Heian elves. “Keeping the races apart?” comments Lono. Hiroshi answers “No, not really. The humans and elvan populations actually get along well, and it is not uncommon to see them living side-by-side. There is also no attitude with either race of racial superiority or racial bias. The reason that they are prohibited from inter-racial unions is because of their significantly different life spans. Heian society places great value on family, and considers it inappropriate for a long-lived race to create unions with a short-lived race, feeling that is unnecessarily cruel for one spouse to stay young while the other, and their children, grow old and die.” “So there are never any illegitimate half-elvan child?” asks Cassie. “Occasionally,” Hiroshi answers, “But as honor is greatly regarded here, and that would be a violation of the law, the parents would be disgraced. Any half-elvan children born are sent away to live on a remote island near the outer edge of the Empire, which has a half-elvan population.”

At 4:00 P.M. the party, including the dwarves, joins the family for the formal evening meal, after which the grandmother informs them that an Elder in the Takayama family will meet with them shortly before noon two days later. She reminds them that it would be strongly advisable that half-elves not go to this meeting. After the meal Duegar and Lannon conclude that dining with the servants was a lot more fun.

Cassie and Hiroshi spend the evening, and much of the next two days, copying the zoology book, with him taking an occasional break to drink and play cards with the guys. During this time they also find out much more about Hiroshi’s personal history. Hiroshi Mitsubishi was born the second of three brothers in the politically powerful Mitsubishi family, in the Heian Empire’s capital city of Miyako. It was expected that, like his siblings, he would seek a political career with the Empire. Hiroshi, however, had far too much curiosity about the world to ever be content as a bureaucrat.

A natural linguist, his skills were called upon after dwarves from the western continent discovered new techniques in mining, and these dwarven clans sought mining rights to the volcanic mountains that comprised much of the Heian Islands. Young Hiroshi became invaluable, quickly becoming fluent in the dwarven tongue and negotiating agreements mutually beneficial to both parties. Hiroshi took a natural affinity to the dwarves, finding their company preferable to the rigid protocols and politics of Miyako. The dwarves set up mining camps and villages throughout the Empire, choosing to remain isolated, as the humans and elves of the Empire were very apprehensive of these newcomers, which caused a mutual distrust from the dwarves. Hiroshi was one of the few trusted Heians, and from this relationship he soon developed a successful business, brokering sales of raw minerals and gems for the dwarves.

Hiroshi chose not to make the dwarves dependent on his skills and services, deciding instead to act as a teacher and mentor for the Dwarven Clan Chiefs, to help them learn the local languages and develop long-term relationships with the Provincial Warlords of the Heian Empire. This earned him their admiration, and rather than dealing simply with raw materials, the dwarves soon approached him about brokering sales of finished goods, primarily jewelry and polished gemstones. During these years the dwarves also taught Hiroshi the languages spoken in western continent, and his travels and business dealings soon extended into those regions as well.

This business enterprise was quite successful, and brought great wealth to the Mitsubishi family, rising the family's status and social standing. This in turn helped the political careers of his father and brothers. The family was quite proud of Hiroshi and of his role in the Empire, in spite of its non-traditional nature. Hiroshi’s father arranged a marriage for him with Kirora, the daughter of a prominent Provincial Warlord of a neighboring province. The marriage, however, proved to be an unhappy one, as she was displeased with his long periods away from home, as well as the lack of attention given to her when he was home. They had one son, named Kojiro

In the sixth year of their marriage Kirora’s mother took ill, and Kirora returned to her home province to care for her. Even after the mother’s passing, Kirora and Kojiro did not return, and Hiroshi’s father petitioned the Emperor to have the union dissolved. Hiroshi did not reestablish a relationship with his son until the boy was in his late-twenties, when after failures at three consecutive careers, Kojiro sought out his father for employment. Hiroshi initially gave his son a relatively minor supervisory job, but that was soon to change.

Both Hiroshi’s mother and the Emperor started to encourage Hiroshi to pass the business onto the next generation, as Mitsubishi Jewels and Gems had become the sole source of revenue for the family and was also responsible for nearly half of revenue to the Emperor’s coffers. They realized that the business had become entirely dependent upon Hiroshi and his personal connections. As he was now sixty years old, they were afraid and if anything were to happen to him the business would collapse, and bring about their own financial ruin, as they had become accustomed to an opulent lifestyle. Eventually Hiroshi agreed to train and pass his business on to his favorite nephew, Toshiro. Circumstances then forced Toshiro to leave the Empire, so he began to teach Kojiro. Working with Kojiro proved to be a frustrating experience for Hiroshi, as the young man lacked a good head for the business, had no linguist ability, and lacked the political skills needed for the job. To compensate, Hiroshi surrounded his son with trusted associates, both human and dwarven.

Eight years ago Hiroshi officially named his son the new Leader of Mitsubishi Jewels and Gems. Kojiro’s ineptitude, however, kept Hiroshi actively involved in the business for another four years. The business has finally now begun to stabilize as a manageable and viable enterprise under Kojiro’s leadership. The business is now only one-third the size, and at around half the profit level, of what it had been at its peak, but is positioned to maintain itself indefinitely. The business is now focused on the Heian Empire itself, having discontinued its primary operations on the Western Continent, while still maintaining a supply link through Kojiro’s dwarven advisors with their affiliation to the dwarven clans there.

Hiroshi says that he had originally planned to enjoy his retirement, and spend most of his time traveling, but that has not been the case. For the past four years Hiroshi has remained in Miyako, serving as a Family Elder and occasionally working as a translator for the Emperor. Every time he has planned a trip abroad either his mother or the Emperor have found some reason to keep him from going. Hiroshi says that he thinks they suspect that if he leaves he will not return, and they want to keep him close just in case Kojiro should again need direction and guidance with the business. He says that he has been quite bored lately, and finds the party’s lively company and stories of their adventures to be the most interesting diversion he has had in years.
 

Silver Moon

Villager
Chinese Take-out

Chapter 4, "Long time, no see!" September 13, 1018:

The group of Aradyn, Duegar, Mojo Timothy and Toshiro approach the Emperor’s palace. Traveling through the city, they see that it is comprised mostly of large estates, separated by either walls or gates. Each estate has many trees and bushes, with buildings similar in style to that of the Mitsubishi household. They eventually arrive at the palace, a gigantic building surrounded by many gardens and small ponds. Toshiro explains that over half of the City’s population of ten thousand people works at the palace. They enter through the eastern gate, state their business, and are led through the vast building to a series of rooms in the northeastern corner of the palace.

They enter a room, where Princess Katako awaits them. Also in the room are many ladies in waiting. Toshiro approaches, and offers formal greetings. He offers condolences for the loss of her husband, and comments that she looks to be in good health. He then introduces each of his companions. Each one makes formal and dignified remarks, taking their cue from Toshiro. Mojo also extends greetings from the Continent of Phlooredah, introducing himself as a chief advisor to Queen Jennifer, the land's chosen ruler. Katako thanks them for keeping Toshiro safe, and for bringing him home to the city of his birth. Toshiro begins to talk to her some more about how pleased he is to see her, and looks forward to when they can spend some more time together. He discreetly stops before the conversation reaches the point of discussing their relationship and feelings towards each other. They then bid her goodbye, Toshiro saying that he hopes to speak to her when he returns from his current quest.

On the way out through the palace they pass down a long corridor that during their entry was covered with curtains on one side. The curtains are now open, opening into a vast room, where seated at the far end is the Emperor and Empress, watching them. Toshiro makes a respectful bow in their direction, which they do not make any gesture in response. The party is then urged to continue with the exit from the building.

The group returns to the Mitsubishi household, Toshiro heading off to talk to his parents. The other relaying to the party that “We pulled it off, nobody blew it.” “How did Toshiro hold up?” Cassie asks. “Pretty good,” Aradyn answers “At one point I thought he was going to get all emotional, but he held it in check, keeping things on a respectable level.” “See,” says Lono, “I told you he wasn’t going to get any.”
 
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Silver Moon

Villager
Chinese Take-out

Chapter 5, "What's with all the critter statues?" September 14, 1018:

The group tries to figure out who would be best to send to the audience with the Takayama Elder. They ask Hiroshi what he knows about the family. He says that they are very powerful spell-casters, each being either druids, magic-users, or both. Their family wealth comes from their being the only creator and seller on the continent of powerful Potions of Longevity, much sought after magic item due to its ability to prolong life. Their particular “recipe” for this potion differs from the formulas and components used by other wizards on the world, in that the likelihood of negation with theirs is much lower, a significant factor given the cumulative negation properties of multiple ingestions. He says they also make and sell a number of other unique magic items, many having to do with animals.

They ask what he knows of their bias towards hybrid races. He says that sixty years ago a young member of the Takayama family brought disgrace to their family by having an affair with a married elf, from which a half-elvan child was born. The elf held a important role on the Emperor’s advisory staff, and his family was forced to leave the Empire in shame due to this indiscretion. The Emperor, the grandfather of the current Emperor, blamed the Takayama girl for seducing his advisor, and banned the family from the Royal Court, a ban that lasted for over three decades. Only with the coronation of the current Emperor fifteen years ago has the family been fully reinstated at the top of the social echelons. The elders of that family would therefore act unfavorably towards one of the half-elf race.

The party discusses whom to send, eventually deciding upon Aradyn, Duegar, Mojo, Timothy and Toshiro . They head to the Takayama estate, bringing with them the book of Lee Takayama. While most estates within the city have large quantities of trees and vegetation, giving a “park-like” appearance, this particular property is more “forest-like”, with greenery everywhere and the sight and sounds of hundreds of small animals and birds throughout the vast property, which occupies a walled-in twenty acre section of the city.

The five tell the gate guards about having an appointment, and are led through the outer gardens to a large stone pagoda-style building. They enter a door to a large room, occupying about half of the building. All of the walls of the room are lined with shelves, on which are thousands of small ceramic or wooden statues of animals. At the front of the room is an oak desk and counter. Sitting on a tall stool behind it is a young woman, who appears to be in her late twenties or early thirties. She introduces herself as Kasha Takayama, the family Elder they had an appointment with. While she is clearly far younger than one would expect an “Elder” to be, each of the party is mindful that this family makes Longevity potions, and conclude that she is probably much older than she appears.

Aradyn and Toshiro alternate as party spokesperson, explaining that they are on a quest of vengeance against an evil wizard who had attacked their home. Information that they received has indicated that this wizard now resides in a castle somewhere in this land, and that the castle was probably once the home to a man named Lee Takayama. The party notices that she has a surprised reaction to the mention of his name. They state that they are therefore interested in any information about that man, which is what has led them to the Takayama Estate, explaining further about the book, which they then place on the desk before her.

She rings a bell, and a servant enters. She sends the servant to go get someone, and another beautiful young woman soon enters, whom Kasha introduces as her cousin, Youli Takayama. The two of them examine the book while Kasha explains what the party has said. Youli states “We are the descendents of Lee Takayama, the man who established our family into prominence in this city, over five hundred years ago, who clearly authored this book. This is a great find.” “You may keep it with our compliments” states Toshiro. They are extremely grateful for the present. “Could you tell us about your ancestor?” asks Aradyn. They explain how he was a powerful druid-mage, whose area of expertise was biological, determined to find the secrets of both human and animal life. He created many magical items during his long life, the secrets to the creation of which he passed on to his family, which have kept the family employed and prosperous since his time.

Aradyn asks about where he lived. “Right here,” Youli answers, “He built this estate.” “Did he ever live at a castle in a different place?” asks Toshiro. After a pause, and exchange of glances between the two women, Kasha softly replies “He could have. We have no knowledge of what happened to him after he left Miyako and the Heian Empire.” “Why did he leave?” Mojo asks. Kasha answers, “He was sad and lonely. His main accomplishment in life was the creation of his Longevity potion. Early in his work on developing it he used one of his four children to test a formula on. It had an opposite reaction on the boy, causing him to rapidly age, and the boy died a few months later, despite Lee’s frantic efforts to find a way to reverse its effects. Following that tragedy, Lee’s wife refused to allow him to ever again use his magic on either her or their other children, even after he had perfected the potion. Whereas he used the potion himself, he remained young, as his spouse and children aged and eventually died. Following the death of his last child, he left his notes and all possessions to his grandchildren, and went away, never to return. That was 470 year ago she concludes.” “How old was he at that time?” Duegar asks. She answers “He was 130 years old, although he looked to be one third of that.”

Looking around the room, Duegar asks, “What’s with all of the critter statues.” Youli answers “Another of Lee’s creations. We can enchant each statue with a unique spell, which will allow the person using it to temporarily become that animal. In gratitude for your bringing us this book you may choose two statues as a present from us.” Looking at the hundreds of different types of animal available, they discuss which two to get. Youli interjects “Unless you are a druid you actually need two statues to become the animal, one for each hand when you activate them, as with one you would become only a humanoid version of the animal.”

Hearing this, they confer about the humanoid animals that they saw on the Island the previous month and those seen by the mage Oterel near Morgarth's castle. They conclude that Morgarth must be using these statues too, and say “We may actually need more than just two. Would you be willing to sell us some?” Youli asks what they have for payment, with Aradyn handing over one of Cassie’s large diamonds, this one being nearly the size of an apple. The women are very impressed by the size of the stone. Kasha casts a few spells on it, to confirm that it is genuine and not magically enlarged, they then discuss in the local language what the gem might be worth. They tell the party that “You may have twenty statues for this, plus the two that we will give you as a gift." The party then talk about what to get, concluding that they do not know enough about the local animals to make the best decision at this point in time, and request to come back the next day to make their choice. An appointment is made for 11:00 A.M. the following day. The group leaves.
 
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Silver Moon

Villager
Chinese Take-out

Chapter 6, "Visitors in the night", September 14, 1018:

After the group return to the Mitsubishi estate Hiroshi asks about their visit to the Takayama family. They relate to him what occurred, and the agreement they made. He asks about the diamond given to them, to which Cassie produces another one, saying “It was like this one”. Hiroshi examines the gem, and gives professional opinion, based upon his gem appraisal skills, as well as him having being a past purchaser of these statues. He concludes that they greatly overpaid. “Wait a minute, are you saying that they cheated us?” Mojo exclaims. “Oh no,” answers Hiroshi, “Businesspeople in this city would never intentionally try to cheat somebody, as that would be dishonorable. Unlike me, the Takayamas are not professional gem appraisers, so they would have had to guess to its value. They just guessed too conservatively.”

“OK, so tomorrow we ask for a refund” Mojo says. “Absolutely not,” Hiroshi answers “that would imply that they did something wrong and dishonorable.” Cassie interjects, “Well, since that was MY GEM that was sold, how should we go about correcting this error?” Hiroshi pauses, then suggests “Why don’t you bring me with you tomorrow when you return. I won’t even have to say anything, my physical presence should be sufficient to communicate to them that we have discussed this. By tomorrow they will have had the gem appraised, and knows its true value in regards to your purchases. Instead of just picking up the statues that you agreed to buy, offer to buy some more as well. This will give them an honorable opportunity to rectify this error, by undercharging you for these additional statues until a fair and equitable exchange for the total purchase is reached. Just bring with you something to trade with, preferable something of uncertain value, but clearly not worth much.” “You mean like Lono?” Mojo says.

They discuss what type of animal statues to get. Hiroshi recounts to them the various types of animals of the region. He says that two types of these statues that he himself has previously used were the Rhinoceros, in fight situations due to both its offensive and defensive abilities, and the Spider Monkey, which he used twice, each time following a mugging to later retrieve what had been stolen from him.

The remainder of the day is uneventful, with the party spending most of the time just drinking and playing cards with Hiroshi, who has now mastered the game of poker, which he had never played before the party’s arrival.

September 15, 1018:

Shortly before midnight, the party is startled by two individuals teleporting into their room. The party’s instinctive reaction is that they are under an attack, and light up the room and draw weapons on the individuals, with the spellcasters ready to cast spells upon them. They then recognize both of them, a man and a woman, who are from their continent of Phlooredah, from the Zalpar Lordholding, a land of mages and scholars. The man is Ashton Abercronbie IV, a leader of the Scholar’s Guild. The other is Beverly, a high-ranking member of the Mage’s Guild. The group remains somewhat on edge, knowing that Beverly had previously allied with an enemy of theirs. Cassie and Narg demand in unison to know what they want.

The Zalparians explain that they have further information regarding Morgarth, and have been sent by their respective Guilds to pass this information on to the Silver Moon. Narg asks Cassie, just loud enough for the Zalparians to also hear, “Can we trust her?” Beverly directly answers “This information is from our Guilds, and is truthful to the best of our knowledge. You and I may not have agreed last month as to who the next King should be, but that has no bearing on this. Morgarth is as much a threat to Zalpar as he is to you, and we will do everything in our power to assist you in reducing this threat.” “Works for me,” Cassie answers Narg.

The Zalparians tell the party that their Guilds have been making inquiries to their contacts throughout the world to try to find Morgarth's whereabouts, and that the Silver Moon’s suspicion that he is in the Orient appears to be correct. Yesterday they heard from a mage from the Oriental city of Shosun, who attended a recent slave auction at which humanoid animals were sold. These creatures were said to have come from a region that was protected by a forty-mile diameter anti-magic shell. The shell was said to have disappeared for five days, five to six weeks earlier, during which time the slavers then entered this land and captured them. It appears far too coincidental that an anti-magic shell of the same size would appear over Silver Moon Island during this exact same five day period for the events to have not been connected. The Zalparians have no further information, and teleport away.

“Well, it sounds like we may really need those animal statues,” Aradyn comments. “Yeah, provided we can find where this Shosun place is” Fiona replies.
 

Silver Moon

Villager
Chinese Take-out

Chapter 7, "The Senior Citizen Signs Up", September 15, 1018, 6:30 A.M.

[DM's Note: The map referenced in this chapter is the Forgotten Realms orient map for the Land of T'u Lung included with TSR's 1988 AD&D Kara-Tur Volume 1 (also in the Kara-Tur boxed set). This map will be used for the remainder of the "Chinese Take-out" story.]

Several members of the party find Hiroshi, and ask him about what he knows of the city of Shosun. He says that it is located on the continent to the west, and that he had traveled to it over a hundred times. He retrieves for them a western continent map showing the region that Shosun is in. They see that Shosun is located in a large area with several rivers. Hiroshi says that this area, approximately five hundred miles in diameter, is where the majority of the food for the western continent is grown, namely rice and wheat,. The cities in this region are therefore major agricultural trading centers.

Shosun itself is located at a main crossroad, where three major roads meet along a major river. He says that for this region most east/west as well as at least half of the north/south trade goes through this particular city, which has a population of over a million people. They ask him how long it takes to travel to this city, to which he replies “around three weeks, by boat.” The group decide that they want to teleport there instead, however Toshiro has never been there, and has not ventured any closer to it than the coastal city of Chunming, over five hundred miles to the east of Shosun. This has the group decide to ask Hiroshi to accompany them. To say that Hiroshi is totally thrilled with that idea would be an understatement. He says that they will first need to request permission from the family elders, as he has responsibilities in Miyako. There will be another family meeting following the morning meal, and they can then announce their pending departure as well as request his services as a guide.

“Are half-elves welcomed in Shosun?” Cassie asks. “Shosun is bustling trade city, with people of nearly every race imaginable,” is his answer, “In fact, there is one section of the city where you will not even stand out by being Caucasians, as thousands of other Caucasians also live there.”

Serita impulsively decides to reveal to Hiroshi who she really is, and transforms back into her half-elf form. Hiroshi is not very surprised, saying that he had observed her reacting non-eagle-like several times while visiting with the party during the past few days. Toshiro is livid that she abruptly chose to transform in front of his Uncle. Serita says “Look, we are asking him to go with us, he needs to know who all of us really are.” Hiroshi tells her that she should resume the bird form, and not let any of the other family members know, as their reaction would be less charitable than his.”

Her actions cause Toshiro to be totally conflicted. He was upset, after bringing the party not only to his homeland, and even further into his own home, that one decided to stay a bird and forced Toshiro to conceal the truth from his family. He feels that they have now really put him out on a limb, since without any thought of the consequences for her actions she revealed the secret to his Uncle. He feels that she must have so little honor that she does not know the shame that this has brought to him.

After Hiroshi leaves, Toshiro starts to express these feelings to the party, but they are not overly concerned, commenting that “Hiroshi didn’t really seem to mind, and said he sort-of-knew anyway.” Toshiro states that “Honor to one and family are regarded as the highest things in life.” Serita replies “Calm down, I’ll turn back into a bird.” He glares at her, and says "Honor is like a rare beautiful flower for all to see, but with one misstep can be ground into the dirt and all will turn their head at the loss." “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Narg asks.

Toshiro walks off into the garden by himself, debating what to do next. He is upset that his secret has been found out, and is now upset that he has pledged to help this group. To not help them at this point would be a severe blow to his honor, so he decides to continue to help them in their quest, but decides that following this he will leave the group, for their roads lay on different paths.

On their way to their final meal at the Mitsubishi estate Narg comments that “I never thought I’d say it, but I sure miss my servant Hobbson’s cooking." The party discusses who should be the one to request Hiroshi as their guide. Aradyn suggest Cassie, saying, “She speaks Hoi Palos.”

At the meeting Cassie begins by eloquently explaining that they have recently obtained new information, indicating that the evil they seek to vanquish is located not within the Heian Empire, but on the continent to the west. She says that they must therefore take leave of the Mitsubishi Family, and again thanks them for their fine hospitality, commending them for being gracious hosts. She also compliments them on raising such a fine boy as Toshiro, who is a welcomed member of their party.” Narg whispers to Mojo “Even though I didn’t even know the guy’s name a week ago.” Mojo whispers back “That’s not saying much, you forget your own name half the time.”

Cassie goes on to then requests that Hiroshi be allowed to accompany them, as he is very familiar with the western continent and its language. The Grandmother counters with “I do not see the necessity of that, as Toshiro accompanied him there in his youth, and can also speak that language.” Cassie continues what quickly becomes a polite debate between these two strong-willed women, answering “Yes, but that was so many years ago that Toshiro is no longer fluent in the language. He also only traveled with his Uncle along the coast, and we need to venture well inland, where he has never been.”

The grandmother’s next argument against it is that it would be too long a journey for Hiroshi to travel at such an advanced age, as he is now seventy-one. Cassie counters by telling her that they have with them magical means that will substantially reduce the amount of physical traveling required by him. The grandmother next raises the issue that when Hiroshi traveled before he had many magical devices to provide him physical protection, but that he has passed these on to his son Kojiro, who is current away, so this would leave him defenseless. Cassie again counters this argument, by telling the grandmother that the party has many magical protection devices with them, which they will let Hiroshi use, and will afford him protection equivalent if not better than those he used previously.

The final argument from the Grandmother is directed not at Cassie, but to Hiroshi. She says to her son “The main reason that you chose to retire from your travel-intensive profession eight years ago was due to the physical stress and strains. While it may be flattering to you that these young people have asked you to accompany them, it might be more than you are physically capable of. It has been quite some time since you undertook such an arduous assignment.”

Hiroshi pauses, and then says “That is true, however, we must also consider that this brave group of adventurers seeks a noble cause. They have done much during the past decade to keep our Toshiro safe and prosperous, and it would be inappropriate for us as a family to deny them this reasonable request. Toshiro himself has now been here only a very short while, and you know how he and I have always been close. I would welcome an opportunity to continue to spend some time with him, to learn more of his travels, and to further relate to him all that has transpired here in his absence.” Narg whispers to Mojo “Uncle speaks fluent Cow Manure”.

After much thought, the Grandmother turns to her grandson, and says “Toshiro. Would you vow to keep your Uncle safe from harm? He is no longer a young man, and would not be able to adequately protect himself.” “I will grandmother,” is his reply. She then turns to her son, and says “Very well, you may accompany them Hiroshi, provided that you first obtain permission from the Emperor, as he may have need of your services in the near future that we are unaware of, and your first obligation is to him.”

The grandmother thanks the family, and commands them to keep both Hiroshi and Toshiro safe. She says that they have been honored to have their company during the past few days, and that they are free to return at any point. Mojo whispers “Wow, that’s a first for the Silver Moon, an invitation back.” Hiroshi asks the party to return to their pavilion and wait for him before returning to the Takayama Estate.

The group returns to the Guest Pavilion. Narg comments about how he is anxious to leave, finding this location to be far too “lawful” for him. A half-hour later Hiroshi joins the party in the western pavilion. He said that he immediately went from the morning meal to see the Emperor, to get there ahead of his mother, as he suspected she would ask the Emperor to deny him permission to leave. Hiroshi says that he began the conversation by first asking about the Emperor’s specific needs from him in the near future, before explaining about the potential journey. The Emperor agreed to release him from all future translator and diplomacy duties, but only after Hiroshi made assurances that while he was on the western continent he would personally reestablish some contacts which would bring increased revenues to the Heian Empire, and to the Emperor’s treasury in particular. “So you bribed him to let you go?” comments Narg. “I wouldn’t exactly phrase it that way,” answers Hiroshi. Hiroshi moves over towards Narg, and then quietly whispers so that Toshiro doesn’t overhear “I’d pay any ransom amount to get out of this prison.” “You and me both,” Narg whispers back. “You’ve only been here four days, I’ve been stuck her for the past four years!” the older man answers. “These past four days have felt like four years,” Narg responds.

Cassie decides that she should join them for the picking of the statues, having thoroughly read the zoology text. She uses the Belt of Shape Change to modify her appearance to that of a full elf. The group of Aradyn, Cassie, Duegar, Hiroshi, Lannon, Mojo, Timothy and Toshiro head to the Takayama estate. They explain whom they wish to purchase even more statues, and offer as payment a personal diary by a Medusa that Lannon has been carrying around for years. The two Takayama women discuss in the local language how many more statues that would be worth, watching for a nod from Hiroshi, at which point they settle on eighteen, for a total of forty.

After much debate the party decide upon getting 4 badgers, 2 celestial dragon, 2 crane, 2 fox, 4 golden spider monkeys, 2 hawk, 2 otter, 2 panda, 6 pegasi, 6 rhinoceros, 2 sun bear, 4 tigers and 2 weimic statues. The forty statues are taken elsewhere and magically activated, then returned to the party who are instructed in the proper pronunciation of the words to activate and deactivate the magic. The Takayama women bid them good luck on their journey, and say that they would welcome any further information that the party can find out about their ancestor.

The party returns to the Mitsubishi estate, and gather together their belongings. Hiroshi is given the Helm of Teleportation, and they explain to him how it works. He states how it has been eight years since he last visited Shosun, and given that things are constantly changing in the city, it would probably be best to choose a well known destination that would be the same as when he was there, namely a Heian Temple. He says that there are two Heian temples within a few miles of the city, one that is used by most Heian citizens living in Shosun, and the other being an older temple, seldom used except for on high holy days. The group concludes that the later would probably be best, as they wish to maintain a low profile.

The party teleport away from the Heian Empire at noon, arriving approximately a thousand miles to the southwest (and one hour earlier, local time) at a temple near the city of Shosun.
 
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Silver Moon

Villager
Chinese Take-out

Chapter 8, "Nothing to see here, move right along", September 15, 1018, 11:00 A.M.

The party teleport away from the Heian Empire at noon, arriving approximately a thousand miles to the southwest (and one hour earlier, local time) at a temple near the city of Shosun. The cathedral-style building is made of large polished stones, with marble pillars and a marble floor. Huge stained glass and clear class pictures cover most of the upper walls, allowing a great deal of light to enter. This creates a greenhouse effect, given the vast quantities of trees and plants growing inside the building. “Is this a church or a garden?” Narg asks.

Cassie gestures to and asks about the thousands of iron and ceramic pots sitting on shelves throughout the vast building. “Those contain the ashes of the ancestors” is Hiroshi’s answer. “What! Are you saying that you teleported us into a funeral parlor?” she exclaims. Hiroshi explains how it is the Heian culture to cremate bodies, and store the ashes in a shrine. As this building served as the only Heian place of worship at this city for many centuries it is therefore the final resting-place for the tens of thousands of Heians who lived and worked in Shosun. “Tens of thousands! Let’s get out of here, this place gives me the creeps,” she answers. “This from the woman who dissects any monster's body she comes across?” comments Fiona. “That’s different,” Cassie answers, “I usually know how they died, and most of the time am the one who wanted it that way.”

They exit the temple, finding them to be along a lake. It is about ten degrees warmer than the Empire that they just left. Surrounding the lake are fifteen different churches, each of a different pantheon (a design similar to the International section of Disney's Epcot). Hiroshi explains that the pantheon native to this continent (Chinese) is the only one allowed to be worshiped within the city walls of Shosun, so these church parks were established nearby for foreigners living in Shosun to continue their own religious practices. He says that it is about a four-mile walk from here to the city itself. It is a pleasant day, and the party sets off to the southeast.

After a few miles they see in the distance a large wall, standing eighty-foot high and stretching for approximately three miles north-south, with the northernmost section of this wall still being under construction. Set a third of a mile in from the section being built is a mile-long wall running east-west, ending at another wall going three-quarters of a mile north-south.

They approach the city from the northwest, heading towards the part of the wall under construction. As they near, they see that there are several thousand workers actively engaged in this task, moving and placing huge slabs of stone. Three quarters of the workers are of the dwarven race, with the remaining quarter being either human or dwarven-centaur. Lono looks at these centaur creatures, with dwarven torsos atop mountain goat bodies and mutters “And I thought that dwarves couldn’t get any dirtier.” The group can see how the wall is being made, basically as two fifteen-foot-wide stone sections with twenty feet of space between them, which is then filled with dirt, for a total of a fifty-foot depth. They see that the center section rises seventy-five feet, with a five foot high battlement both sides of the top of the wall, to the full eighty-foot height. Huge pulleys and cranes sit atop the finished wall beside the part under construction, being used to hoist the massive rocks. The party also sees elaborate piping and spiral staircases being built up the center of the section of the wall, which Hiroshi explains is for fire fighting, tapping into the aquifer below the city, to pump water to the top of the tower to spray on a potential fire in the city below.

They then travel further into the open part of the city between the wall under construction and the completed north-south wall a mile to the east. The city is very crowded, with tens of thousands of people of various races. Buildings are everywhere, and look to be poorly constructed, of flimsy materials, mostly bamboo, wood scraps, or in some cases, paper. There also does not appear to be any rhyme or reason to the design of streets and alleys, with buildings and trash heaps protruding out in all directions. Most people are quickly hurrying about, minding their own business, and paying little to no attention to the party. They see a large amount of beggars and other poor just sitting in alleyways. The stench of this part of the city is nearly unbearable. “I’m not very impressed with this city,” Fiona comments to Hiroshi. He replies “That’s because we are not in the city yet, it begins there,” as he points to a huge gated opening at the mid-point of the mile-long east-west wall ahead of them, one of three such openings along this east-west wall at quarter-mile intervals. He adds, “When they eventually complete the walls of this new district these ‘squatters’ will be forced out, and this area razed, so that proper buildings can be constructed along a well-planned grid of streets and alleyways.”

The party witnesses an altercation between a man and woman, leading to the man drawing a knife and slashing her arm, cutting her dress sleeve, with her bleeding heavily. Both Serita and Narg want to intervene, but Hiroshi strongly advises against it, telling the party to keep moving. Toshiro misunderstands his Uncle’s advice, and makes a comment which Serita thinks is Toshiro's approval of what they had just witnessed, leading to a verbal confrontation between the two of them. Hiroshi later informs them that there was a 99.9% chance that what they had witnessed was staged for their benefit, and if they had stopped pickpockets and thieves would have swarmed them. “But he cut her?” Serita says. “Probably just a pouch of pig’s blood strapped to her arm beneath her robe,” Hiroshi answers. She answers “Well, even with your one-in-a-thousand chance that it was real, we still should have done something.” Hiroshi suggests they stop arguing, as they are nearing the city itself, and yelling at each other would just make the gate guards suspicious of them .

As the party enters the opening, they see that it is comprised of a fifty-foot high archway, with a pair of twenty-foot wide double doors, which are currently opened. The doors are made from huge trees, and are each over two-foot thick, supported by vast iron bars. Narg comments that it must take at least one-hundred men just to close them, but as there are three times those numbers of armed troops guarding this gate, concludes that it wouldn’t be a problem. They see on the wall top above archway a huge iron wall, fifty feet wide, which can be lowered to completely block the doorway opening. Hiroshi tells them that this is only one of three barriers that can be lowered, and that up on the wall above are several tons of stone that can then be poured between these metal walls, to completely seal this gate in the event of an enemy invasion. “They’re serious about security,” comments Narg. “And it’s paid off,” Hiroshi adds, “This is the only city on this part of this region of the continent to hold off both the Mongol invaders and the Zhentarum mages, both groups of which ruled the rest of these lands for centuries.

Hiroshi hands each of the party five copper coins of the local currency, which they give to the gatekeepers. They are each given a copper pin with Chinese markings to wear. He tells them that they should wear the pin on their left lapel while in public, as it designates that they are visitors who have now paid for free access to all districts of the city. They notice that about one-third of the people they see wear similar badges, the others wearing more elaborate pins, mostly of gold or silver, on their right lapel, which Hiroshi says are resident identification pins.
 
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Silver Moon

Villager
Chinese Take-out

Chapter 9, "Life in the big city", September 15, 1018, 1:00 P.M.:

As they enter the city they see that they see the city walls are now on all sides of them at the far end of the major streets, which are set in a grid pattern, the walls create a rectangle one-mile by three-quarters-of-a-mile in size. In the midst of the east-west wall three-quarters of a mile south of them is another gate identical to the one they just entered, behind which appears to be even more of the city. Hiroshi tells them to continue forward; that beyond the far gate another city district lies, where they are heading.

They notice that, unlike outside of the city, the buildings here are all well made, of either stone or hardwood. Most buildings are three or four stories tall, although there are others both larger and smaller. The main boulevards are sixty-feet across, with thousands of people walking on either side of the road, and the center of the roads bustling with wagon, cart and rickshaw traffic. As with the outer city, there are tens of thousands of people of various races, and nobody is paying much attention to the party.

They notice that the city is extremely clean, but the awful stench still remains. Hiroshi says that the smell is the city’s one drawback, as the freshwater aquifer below the city is close to the surface, so sewers and outhouses can’t be dug for fear of contamination, with waste having to be removed overland. He gestures to a narrow alleyway running behind the next city block, containing dozens of orange-painted carts pulled by donkeys and ponies, with workers emptying barrels of waste into the back of the carts. He says, “If you see a caravan of those carts approaching it is best to give them a great deal of distance.” He then adds “After a few days you get used to the smell, although I might add that it is well worth the added expense at hotels to pay for chamber-maid service, to empty the chamber pots and keep the scented candles and incense in the rooms continually lit.”

They approach the center of this particular district, where a huge multi-story building standing nearly a hundred feet high dominates the next three city blocks. Hiroshi tells them that this is the government and financial section of this district. They see several lines of troops marching down the street, to the sound of drummers and trumpeters, and Mark comments about whether this is some sort of parade in progress. Hiroshi tells them no, that this is just a city patrol, that all police in the city travel in battalions of eighty-one, comprised of a lieutenant, four sergeants and seventy-six patrolmen. This arrangement allows the battalion to be split into four quadroons of twenty; each led by a sergeant. Each district is divided into twelve segments, and each segment has several of these patrols. He says that there approximately sixty-thousand police inside of the walled city, and a fifteen-thousand strong army to guard the river, port and roads. Shosun is not a place to not run counter to the law. Mojo gives his thief cousin Lono a stern look, and says "Got that?" Lono replies "Sure, be careful not to get caught."

As they are at the business district Hiroshi stops to check on this district’s Auction House, looking for a reference to slave auctions. He tells the parties that no slaves have been sold here recently, but that each district has an auction house, so they need to just keep checking until they find the right one. They eventually reach the next district, traveling through the gate, and on to the auction house, which also has no reference to slaves.

They proceed southward, to a point a quarter-mile away from the next gateway ahead of them, then change direction, now traveling east on another main boulevard, towards another gate half-a-mile ahead of them. Hiroshi says, “The district that we will be staying in tonight is a few districts that way.” “Hold on,” says Narg, “Exactly how many of these districts are there in this city?” “Currently twelve,” answers Hiroshi, “The city is currently set up as a three-mile square grid, with three mile-wide districts running east-west and four three-quarter-mile deep districts running north-south. We entered the city walking through the planned thirteenth district, the walls of which won’t be completed for another six or seven years.”

The next district looks visually different, with all structures made of stone, and narrower boulevards, each only about forty feet across. The buildings themselves have more elaborate décor, and many have manned carriages or rickshaws waiting on the streets before them. Hiroshi explains that they are now in the oldest district, built nearly a millennia before. He says that this district, and the one immediately south of it, are considered the safest as they are the only two districts that do not have exterior wall. The oldest and wealthiest families of the city live here. As with the last two districts, this auction house has no slave auctions listed. While near this building Hiroshi speaks to a dwarven boy, and writes him out a note. “What was that about?” asks Mojo. “Just letting some friends know that I am in town,” he answers.

They continue east, into the next district, which is comprised almost entirely of wooden houses. This part of the city is a sharp contrast to the look of antiquity of the previous district. Hiroshi explains that this district, along with the one north of it and two south of it, were each built within the past sixty years, which was when the dwarves were first hired as construction crews. Prior to that, it took centuries to build the walls for each new district. Hiroshi says that during the past century most dwarven clans on the continent fell upon hard times, having tapped out most of the ore from their mines. In order to survive, several clans began to hire themselves out as either foreign mercenaries or offering their skills as laborers. Four different clans got together, and proposed to the Shosun leaders a plan to rapidly expand the city, proposing a timetable where the walls of each new district could be built in a period of only fifteen to twenty years. What made the proposal feasible was that with fixed completion dates the land within each new district could be sold in advance at market prices. This would provide a steady cash flow to fund the ongoing construction and increase the city coffers. The city and the dwarves have all benefited greatly from this arrangement.

This district’s auction house also has no listing for slaves. They then turn southward again, traveling into the next district. The party immediately notices and comments about the fact that approximately one out of every ten people they see in this district is Caucasian rather than Oriental. “Which is why this is the district we will be staying in,” Hiroshi answers, “Let’s check the auction house and then go get lodgings,” he answers. As before, this auction house shows no reference to slaves.

They proceed to a six-story wooden building, one hundred feet wide along the main street, and stretching back for three hundred feet, taking up an entire city block,. It is located on a major boulevard about a quarter-mile west of the exterior wall. A large sign above the doorway has writings in six languages, one of which is common, and reads “Common House”.
 

Silver Moon

Villager
Chinese Take-out

Chapter 10, "A place to hang your hat," September 15, 1018, 4:00 P.M.:

The party arrives at their chosen lodgings, the "Common House". A pair of human doormen, one Caucasian the other Oriental, open the front doors, and the party enters a vast foyer, with carpeting and fine oak furnishings. Candles and potpourri, masking most of the odor from outside, heavily scent the room. Wide staircases head up from both ends of the foyer, and several doorways lead off to the sides, behind three to which appear to be formal dining rooms and the other to a bar/tavern room. Looking at the latter, Narg says, “This looks to be the right place.”

Out of earshot from Serita, Toshiro speaks briefly to his Uncle about the confrontation that he had earlier with Serita. Hiroshi tells him “Don’t worry about it. She’s just like my ex-wife, always having to have her way and not realizing that hers is not the only perspective. The best way to deal with someone like her is to just ignore her.” “Ignore Serita?” comments Aradyn, “You are definitely new to this group.” “Trust us, it can’t be done,” Mark adds.

They approach the main counter, and two attendants come over, one Oriental the other Caucasian. Hiroshi explains that they wish rooms and requests a dozen individual but adjacent rooms, preferable in an isolated corner of the building, and with full chambermaid service. He pays, and is given a dozen keys. The Caucasian man says he will show them to the rooms. He leads them up to the northwest corner of the third floor, where the party are shown to their rooms. The fighters choose to take the rooms along the main hallway, leaving the spell casters with the adjacent interior rooms. Hiroshi suggests that they each freshen up, and meet in the foyer an hour later for supper.

Each room is rather sparse, being only 10x8 foot square, with the only furnishings being a wooden bed with a blanket, a wooden chair, a bucket of water, a chamber pot, and a shelf with candles and incense, one of which is already lit. The rooms along the exterior wall have a single window, with a simple cloth curtain over it.

As the party returns to the foyer they are asked to sign the guest books, and pointed to a shelf along the wall, which has six opened leather bound tomes. Above each book is a sign, each in one of the same six languages on the exterior door. As Hiroshi and Toshiro go to sing the book labeled “Heian”, the others go to sign the one labeled “Common.” There are three columns in the book: date, name and occupation. Most of the party signs in, most listing their pre-Silver Moon occupations. Narg and Aradyn listing their occupation as “Bodyguard”, Lannon as “Jeweler”, Timothy as “Banker”, Lono as “Acquisitionist and Hired Guard”, Fiona as “Teamster”, Duegar as “Weapon and Armor Maker”, Mark as “Tanner”. Mojo lists his upcoming title “General and Military Advisor to the Queen of Phlooredah”. A few of the party noticing something significant in the common book, namely that four lines about where they are now signing, is a listing for “September 9th, Hendry Family, Merchants of Silk and Cloths”.

[Background: During the "Retake the Island" module the Hendry family was a group of adventurers working for Morgarth. Hendry, a 14th level Mage, was the family patriarch, but also became the first casualty among Morgarth's troops. With their father and leader dead, the other members of the family reluctantly accepted the job of guarding the captured Cassie and Mark, keeping them as unconscious hostages. Hendry Junior, a mage like his father, soon became infatuated with Cassie, and brought her consciousness with him to unique location on the Astral Plane, where the two began a multi-day dialogue. When the other members of the Silver Moon came to rescue the hostages, and had the Hendry family cornered, Cassie was allowed to negotiate a truce between the two groups. The two teams then worked together but with no trust of the other, with the notable exception of Cassie and Hendry Junior who had now become mutually attracted to each other. Tension increased after Mojo made a comment about wanting to kill them. When an opportunity to escape presented itself the Hendrys' took it, and they were later rescued by Morgarth.]

The Silver Moon discovers that the three dining rooms each serve different cuisine. One serves Chinese food, the second serves non-Chinese food, and the third serves only the daily specials from both of the other two dining rooms, plus one or two specialty dishes unique to this room. They decide that, having had nothing but Oriental food for the past four days, they will go to the non-Chinese food room. Food choices include Duck in Orange Sauce; Braised Venison, Swordfish Steaks, Roast Pig, and a Vegetable Pasta Dish. The party orders some of each. Duegar orders one of each for himself. They find the food to be exquisite, Narg commenting, much to Toshiro's annoyance, on it being a vast improvement from what they were served at the Mitsubishi Estate.

Dinner discussion concerns the Hendry family, with speculation on why they may have been in Shosun six days earlier, and the fact that they may still be staying at this hotel. Lannon and Lono discreetly go and check the other two dining rooms, concluding that they are not presently eating here. Narg offers to go check the bar, but they send Fiona instead, concluding that Narg won’t come back. Fiona quietly says to Aradyn “So, what do you think of your potential rival for Cassie’s affection possibly being here?” He answers “Well, if you thought that I sleep with one eye open before, that’s definite now.”

A bellhop is looking to deliver a message to a "Hiroshi Mitsubishi Ming", and interrupts the party’s meal. Hiroshi indicates that is him, getting comments from the others about the “Ming” addition to his name. Particularly confused by this is his nephew Toshiro. Hiroshi says that “It is a long story, I’ll tell you later, let me see about this note first.” He checks the note, and announces that some dwarven business associates of his have invited him to go out drinking that evening. Hiroshi invites the two dwarves, Duegar and Lannon, to join him. He also invites the others, saying, "Anyone else can also join us too provided that they can match drinks with dwarves.” Mojo, Narg and Serita can’t resist this ‘dare’ and decide to take him up on the offer. Much to the party’s surprise, Mark also says he wants to go. Hiroshi appears relieved when Toshiro states that he will stay at the inn and meditate, as he has much to think about. Aradyn, Cassie and Fiona say they will do some shopping and/or information gathering, and Timothy says he plans to spend the evening in prayer. Lono says he has some "personal business" to attend to.

Hiroshi then asks Cassie and Fiona if either of they know the “Hairy” cantrip. Cassie says that she does, with Lono commenting “She’d still be bald if she didn’t.” [Morgarth had shaved her head to remove a magical crown that she interlocked into her hair.] She asks why, with him answering “My dwarven friends have never seen me clean shaven. I previously came here by boat, during which time I had several weeks for my beard to grow out. Since we teleported here this time I’m going to need some magical assistance to get to the point that they’ll still recognize me.” Cassie says she will take care of that after the meal.

An hour later those going out downstairs to the hotel lobby. They notice that Hiroshi looks very different, with the new beard. He is also no longer wearing his formal Japanese robe and sandals, wearing instead a cloth shirt and pants, a wide leather belt and leather boots. His clothes look to have had a great deal of wear. Duegar and Lannon also notice, but don’t comment about the fact, that he is wearing a Dwarven Clan ring, something they have seen before on a human.

A large wagon driven by two dwarves arrives outside of the hotel, with four Oriental dwarves sitting on benches in the back. The dwarves climb out, the leader being a rugged looking dwarf, human equivalent of forty years in age. He moves forward and warmly embraces Hiroshi.
Hiroshi introduces the man as Chan Ming, son of the Ming Clan Chief. He says that Chan is the leader of the Clan's members in Shosun. Chan introduces his son Xhang Ming, and the other two as Cho-Tau Ming and Chung-Na Ming. Hiroshi first introduces Duegar and Lannon, then the other four, telling the dwarves that they are “Trusted friends, who have looked after my human nephew Toshiro, who you once met a decade ago.” They all climb onto the wagon.

His dwarven friends are taking them to the north central district, so Hiroshi has them go by way of the north east, and the north central financial areas, checking out both auction houses along the way. Again they find no recent listing of slave actions. Conversation in the wagon is pleasant, with the dwarves all speaking in common out of respect for their non-dwarven guests. Chan informs Hiroshi that “Per your request, you are now registered to sell gems at the next ‘Stone and Gem Auction’ in our district. It will be held on the afternoon of the 19th.” “Huh?” asks Narg. “Our cover story,” Hiroshi whispers back to him.

Meanwhile, when the other group is out drinking with Clan Ming, Aradyn accompanied Cassie, Fiona and Toshiro for some shopping. Most of this was spent window-shopping for clothes and at a bookstore, where Cassie bought a book on the history of the region, providing more detail to the information than Hiroshi gave them earlier about the city. The only other shopping of significance was at another book store, where Toshiro made a discreet inquiry about finding a book about the animal creatures. The bookstore vendor said he thought he might be able to find one elsewhere in the city, and to check back in a few days. On their way upstairs that evening, Cassie stopped and asked the lobby clerk about the Hendry family. The night clerk didn’t know anything about them, much to Aradyn's relief.
 

Silver Moon

Villager
Chinese Take-out

Chapter 11, "A night on the town," September 15, 1018, 8:00 P.M.:

The group arrives at a large, auditorium sized three-story stone building, with a wooden sign picturing a mug of ale, and the name “Dwarf Ale House” written in both Dwarvish and Chinese. The wagon is secured, and the four dwarves exit the back along with their seven guests. They enter a vast building, the interior being one vast room, approximately 250 by 140 feet in size. In the very center of the room is a fifty-foot square wooden stage. There is a side wooden staircase running from the back of the stage to the second floor. Narrower stone staircases to the second floor are along the side walls. Along the side wall, running the entire 250 feet, is a bar staffed by dozens of bartenders. The remainder of the room is filled with tables of various sizes, with dozens of buxom dwarven and human waitresses moving about.

As the party enters the room a well-dress dwarf calls to a waitress to “Show Clan Ming to their usual table.” The group are led to a long oval table, with sixteen chairs, situated equidistant to both the bar and stage. There are about one hundred other patrons in the establishment at this time, mostly at the bar.

The group sits down; noticing that Chan and the other three Mings are somewhat better dressed than most of the other patrons. Chan says, “This is the place to come for fun. All of the other patrons are construction workers.” He goes on to explain that there are over twenty thousand workers employed in building the city wall, and since for the next half-century all construction will be along the northern wall of the city they have found long-term lodgings here in the north-central district. Construction workers each work a six-day work-week, with the day off alternating to keep the same number of workers on the job each day. That means that, on any given night, there are approximately three thousand workers who have the next day off and want to blow off steam. He adds that, “Since this is one of the more livelier establishments, you can expect between a quarter to a third of these workers to find there way here at some point this evening.”

The group is brought tankards of fine dwarven ale, and the waitresses see that a new tankard is also always waiting for each person at the table. The elf and three half-elves have little to no difficulty keeping up, with one of the Mings commenting “Not bad. I was afraid that one of them would embarrass us by ordering a glass of wine.” [The comment was made by one of the players, getting in a dig at the DM for once having done that at a bachelor party.] Hiroshi also has no trouble downing multiple ales.

The conversation initially centers on the party’s mission to Shosun. The Mings do not know anything about these human-animal slaves, and say that generally the only time slaves are sold in the city are when military prisoners are captured, and that hasn’t happened in several months. The party describes the castle that Oterel fought Morgarth in. Chan says that he does not know of it, but that there may be some reference to it in their records, and suggests that they stop by the city's Ming Estate some time the next day. “But please, not in the morning,” Chan’s son Xhang Ming interjects. By now around 300 patrons are in the bar, mostly dwarven, but several human as well.

By mid-evening the building is packed. Chan gestures to the Ale, and declares that “That’s about enough of drinking water, let’s get some real drinks.” He has glasses and two huge jugs of dwarven whiskey brought over, which are then poured for everyone. Mark is the first to decide to stop matching drinks after three rounds of these. The others all continue until both of the jugs are empty after six rounds. At that point Chan declares that “Well, I guess you’ve proven you’re all man enough to drink with dwarves,” he then glances to Serita, and says, “No offense meant.” “None taken,” she says, still noticing that she is the only female patron in the place. She adds “But on the subject of gender, is there a ladies room?” A waitress is called over, who escorts her to the facility used by the woman employees. While there, Serita casts a “Neutralize Poison” on herself, and then returns to the table (and is ridiculed by the other players for cheating.) .

Upon returning she says “Well, I feel better now.” She then gestures to the whiskey, and says to Chan “Is that all? I was just getting started.” The incredulous dwarf orders another jug, and begins a “duel” of drinks with Serita, the others just looking on. After four more drinks Chan is beginning to slur his words. Hiroshi gives Serita a “please stop now before you embarrass our host” gesture, which she is astute enough to recognize, and tells Chan “That was good. Let’s save the rest for later.” During this drinking duel a crowd of nearly one-hundred construction workers has gathered around to watch, and appear very impressed by the young half-elvan lady.

The party now hears music, a band of eight musicians having set up on stage. As they being to play melodious tunes, a group of twelve female humans and twenty female dwarves, all clad in flimsy dancing clothes, head down the center staircase from the second floor to the stage below. They perform various well-choreographed dance routines for the next two turns, appreciated by most of the patrons and at this table and particularly by Duegar. When they finish they each approach the edge of the stage, and pull a patron up to them, who then escort them upstairs to the second floor. “Well, that looks even more interesting” Duegar comments.

Four turns later the females return for another dance routine. Chan gestures to Xhang, who heads up to the bar. As the women are ending their dance Xhang returns, handing his father a fist full of coins. Chan doles them out to the Duegar, Lannon, Mark, Mojo and Narg, saying, “This is a Ale House token. You can either keep it as a souvenir, or use it to pay for a private dance.” Duegar instantly grabs his. Mojo and Lannon casually pick theirs up. Mark eventually examines his while still leaving it on the table, and Narg totally ignores his. “When do you line up?” asks Duegar, looking at the crowd of men gathered around the stage. Chan says “Probably already too late for this time, but they’ll be three more dances tonight, so just line up later. “Too late my butt,” says Duegar, who manages to muscle and shove his way to the front, getting an upstairs escort a few rounds later.

Narg glances over at both Hiroshi and the Mings, and says “I’m involved with someone, so I’m not going to be using this. Do any of you want it?” Chung-Na Ming happily accepts it. Mojo comments to Hiroshi “I notice they didn’t give you one?” Hiroshi is surprisingly evasive, eventually saying, “No, they wouldn’t.” He notices the party still looking at him to say more. He sighs, and gesturing to the whiskey jug and says “Better hand me that, I’ve got quite a story for you.”
 

Silver Moon

Villager
Chinese Take-out

Chapter 12, "Hiroshi's Tale", September 15, 1018, 11:30 P.M.

Sitting with the group at the table, Hiroshi shotguns two drinks, then begins with his tale. “You see, Chan here isn’t just a friend. He’s also my brother-in-law, I’m married to his sister.” He explains that, in addition to his Heian family, he has a second family, the Mings. He says how many decades ago this dwarven clan became his principal business affiliation on the continent, and most of his travels on the western continent brought him to the coastal city of Chunming, which was co-ruled by the prominent dwarven Ming Clan. His business dealings were primarily with the Clan Chief, and over the years young Hiroshi became rather close to the Chief’s granddaughter, Su Ming.

Shortly thereafter, around forty years ago, he had returned home from his travels to the Heian Empire, and was surprised with the marriage that his father had arranged for him with the Heian woman Kirora. At the time he was totally unaware that Su Ming was pregnant with his child. He first found out about the existence of his daughter Kim-Sung Ming on his next visit to Chunming, when she was a year old. At that point he could not "do the honorable thing" and marry Su Ming, as he was already married.

Six years later, after his wife Kirora had left him, taking with her his Heian son Kojiro, Hiroshi’s father petitioned the Emperor to have the unhappy union dissolved. In a private conversation Hiroshi told the Emperor about his other offspring, and of his desire to marry Su Ming. The Emperor was appalled that Hiroshi would not only be involved with a non-Heian, but also a non-human, and forbade him to ever reveal their existence to anybody, saying that it would bring dishonor to his entire family and destroy the careers of his father and both of his brothers. The Emperor was astute enough however to realize that Hiroshi might now be tempted to permanently leave the Empire, and take his wealth with him, so granted him permission to secretly marry the dwarven princess, provided that nobody outside of her Dwarven Clan be aware of the union.

Hiroshi married her on his next Western Continent trip, and spent much of the next twenty years with his family in Chunming, only returning to Miyako for a few months each year. The rest of the Mitsubishi family equated to his staying away to his not wanting to be reminded of his failed marriage to Kirora and separation from his son Kojiro, which was partially true. During this time Hiroshi and Su Ming had two other children, a son and another daughter. He was also made a full member of the Ming Clan, the only human ever to be granted this honor.

Eight years ago, when Hiroshi was passing on his business to his son Kojiro, it became apparent that Kojiro was not capable of maintaining the international aspect of Mitsubishi Jewelry and Gems, so Hiroshi freely gave the western continent part of the business to his father-in-law, Cho Ming, who had just inherited the job of Clan Chief. This doubled the Clan’s wealth and prominence on the continent. Back at the Heian Empire, Hiroshi found that Kojiro needed much guidance to manage the remaining business, so surrounded his human son with trusted associates, both human and dwarven, including one of Su Ming's brothers, Chen Ming.

Four years ago, when the business eventually stabilized under Kojiro’s leadership, Hiroshi planned to then move to Chunming and live full-time with his dwarven family. That, however, never happened, as either his mother or the Emperor always found reasons to prevent him from leaving. He kept in touch with his other family through Chen Ming, and longed to be with them, fearing that he would have to wait until after his mother passed away for that to happen. He is therefore now extremely grateful for the Silver Moon for getting him away from the Empire.

Serita says to him “Are you telling me that your mother intentionally kept you from your wife and children for the past four years?” Hiroshi says “Well, yes, she did keep me in Miyako, but to be fair, she did not know about my dwarven family.” “Uh huh,” Serita answers “You’ve told us before that your mother was really close to the Emperor who you had made that deal with. Trust me, she knew.” Hiroshi pauses, his eyes growing wide and a look of anger crossing his face as he realizes for the first time that Serita is indeed correct, that his mother must have known. Serita turns to Chan, and says “How has your sister been dealing with this?” He answers “It has been difficult, but we dwarves are well aware of the importance of family honor and obeying one’s elders. Still, she will be quite pleased to see him again.”

Hiroshi sighs, and then says “Well, now that you know, I guess I should tell Toshiro. I just don’t know how. I fear that he may not understand about my other life.” “That easy,” says Mojo “Just wait until we get back to our Island. We’ll have the entire ship’s crew stand in a straight line and announce ‘anyone here whose Uncle is not married to a dwarven princess step forward. Toshiro, stay put.’” Everyone except Hiroshi laughs at that, with Mark, who adds “You’d better tell him soon. This bunch isn’t well known for keeping secrets.”

September 16, 1018, 12:00 A.M.

The night wears on, and the dancing girls head back down to the stage again. The party soon sees Duegar with some other dwarves staggering down one of the side staircases. “Let’s go,” says Lannon, and he, Mojo and Chung-Na start to head up to the stage.” Chan looks to Mark and says “You’d better go too, otherwise everyone else will think that you two are a couple,” as he gestures to Narg. This prompts Narg to urge Mark to “Get going.” Mark heads up to join his friends. Chan glances to Serita, and says “I’m sorry. I should have inquired. Would you want a token too?” Caught off guard, she says “What? No, absolutely not.” After calming down she adds “Thanks for asking,” and pours herself another glass of whiskey.

The three who got to the stage first manage to get upstairs this time, Mojo accompanying a human, Lannon and Chung-Na each with a dwarf. Mark has to wait an hour for the next dance, staying near the stage. A while later, after returning to the table both Lannon and Mojo thank Chan for the token.

Noticing several short fist fights now breaking out from inebriated patrons throughout the building, Mojo and Narg decide “That looks like fun,” and head up to join. Unfortunately for them, every fight stops just as they are approaching. They eventually return to the table to complain. Chan tells them “That’s because everyone knows you are with us. We are very well respected by all of the construction workers, as the city does not consider itself responsible for any workers who get hurt on the job. Our Clan sponsors and funds a nearby hospital for injured workers, and we pay injured workers the equivalent of full wages while they are recovering. We also pay an ongoing pension to the families of any workers killed on the job, dwarven or human.” Mojo says “I thought they were being unusually friendly to an elf in a dwarf bar.” “Let me put it to you this way,” says Chan “If you had walked in here without us you would have been lucky if our hospital was where you eventually wound up.” Narg and Mojo exchange glances, Narg muttering “Maybe we should come back here tomorrow?” Serita then engages Chen in a conversation about the hospital and where it is located.

At around 3:00 A.M. the dancing girls return, and Mark returns from upstairs. The other Silver Moon members start to tease him, which causes Mark’s face to turn a bright shade of red. Chen tells the group that this is the last dance of the evening, and that the bar will close after the girls leave the stage, so to drink up. The remainder of the final whiskey jug is soon emptied. The group makes their way back to the wagon, and are brought back to the inn. Serita casts another "Neutralize Poison" on herself before going to bed.
 

Silver Moon

Villager
Chinese Take-out

Chapter 13, "Kid, you'd better sit down for this one", September 16, 1018, 6:00 A.M.

Serita gets up at dawn, and goes flying through the city in bird form. She flies directly to the hospital in the north-central district, into the building, and reverts to her half-elvan form. She then travels through the wards, healing and ministering to the patients. None of the hospital employees stop her, as several people had recognized her from the night before (How many half-elf females go drinking in dwarven construction worker taverns?) and they naturally assume she is there on assignment from Clan Ming, the hospital’s patrons.

Back at the Common House, Aradyn, Cassie, Fiona, Lono, Timothy and Toshiro have a fine breakfast in the non-Chinese dining room, being joined by none of those who got in late. When discussing their shopping the night before, Timothy is amazed that they did not buy anything other than Cassie’s book, but is less surprised when Fiona and Cassie go into a long speech about the clothing and jewelry that they looked at. They decide to spend the rest of the morning wandering the six southern districts of the city, checking the auction houses for listings of slave auctions. They also do some minor shopping at a few magic shops, buying spell components. They spend the remainder of the morning checking out stores, traveling west two miles through the next two districts, south to the next, and then back to miles east, then back up. None of the auction houses that they visit lists any recent slave auctions, although one listed a slave auction that took place three months earlier. Toshiro’s inquiry about this reveals that all of the slaves sold then were pirates and brigands that had been captured by the Shosun military for attacking Shosun merchant ships and caravans.

They returned to the Inn at noon for lunch, going upstairs to now wake up the rest of the party. All (except Narg) wake up rather hung-over, and join the others downstairs for lunch. Narg wakes up, throws them out of his room, slams the door to his room shut, and goes back to sleep.

Toshiro is surprised by the major difference in his Uncle’s appearance. Hiroshi reminds him that “You know how dwarves are far less formal that we Heians. Remember when you joined me on my travels years ago, and I always dressed like this when dealing with the dwarves.” Toshiro says that he vaguely recalls that, but had tried to block that from his memory. He says that he , prefers to think of his Uncle as always being the refined diplomat, rather than having to disguise himself as common rabble in order to conduct business. Those who were out drinking with the dwarves the night before exchange glances, realizing that Hiroshi is going to have a problem explaining his “other life” to his nephew.

During the meal, each group relays what they had found out. Hiroshi realizes that all twelve of the city’s auction houses have now been checked, with no indication of the recent sale of the animal-creatures. The party speculate that the slaves had been perhaps sold either at some other type of auction, or at a private auction.

Aradyn mentions making inquires at the inn about the Hendrys, but nobody seems to remember them. They ask some of the waiters, who vaguely remember a group of Caucasian adventurer types, but she has not seen them in several days.

During the meal Cassie has her nose buried in this book, not sharing any of the information with anyone. Aradyn finally gets annoyed and pulls it out of the hands. She then threatens him, so he gives it back, also expressing that the others want to know what it says. She says that it is a recounting the “Seven Realms” of history for the region, each named for the ruling body of the region at the time. These realms were: Warlords, Giants, Dragons, Churches, Mongols, Evil Mages, and Cities (the current realm). Near the end of the meal, Chan Ming arrives, giving Hiroshi four can-shaped potion holders, each containing four potions. He kept one for himself, giving the other three to Duegar, Lono and Toshiro. He explained that these contained potions of Heroism and Super-Heroism, to enable the four to temporarily be of higher level for the impending battles against the enemy.

At Serita’s urging, Hiroshi and Toshiro headed off for a talk. Hiroshi does his best to try to inform Toshiro about his dwarven family, Toshiro going into shock in hearing about his favorite Uncle’s double life. Following their discussion, Toshiro heads straight to the bar and starts drinking. Hiroshi tells the others “He did not take it well.”

Following the meal, the group (except for Narg and Toshiro) all go clothes shopping, having decided to purchase two sets of local clothing for each member of the party, in order to be able to better blend in. They purchased one set of common clothing, and one set of fancy clothing for each. They decided to split up into four groups for the remainder of the afternoon, for separate information gathering missions.

Back at the Inn, Narg wakes up mid-afternoon and heads downstairs. The only one around is Toshiro, who is at the bar drinking heavily. Narg approaches him, and asks, “What’s up kid?” Toshiro replies, “My Uncle is married to a dwarven princess and I’m in love with a princess.” Narg answers “Well, I’m sleeping with a Queen, so I’ll drink with you.” [Narg's elvan girlfriend, Vallessa, was once married to a King of Phlooredah.] The two spend the remainder of the day (and game night) drinking together. Toshiro is quite shaken by the fact that his Uncle is “Now part of the Lollypop Guild”.
 

Silver Moon

Villager
Chinese Take-out

Chapter 14, "Where were you on the night of the 14th?" September 16, 1018, 1:00 P.M.

Cassie and Fiona decide to investigate the Mage’s Guild, which Aradyn will absolutely not allow them to go to without him, fearing that Cassie might run into Hendry Junior. While there, they find out that the guild has heard of the protective anti-magic shell, but that it is nowhere near Shosun, thought to be somewhere to the east, at least 400 miles away. They spend the rest of the afternoon at the guild, finding out what they can about local spells. Cassie is thrilled to hear that the Guild Library is accessible to any mage, and is also open twenty-four hours, to which Aradyn lets out a loud groan. He is pleased, however, when Cassie’s inquiry regarding the Hendrys reveals that nobody by that name had come buy. They head back to the Inn for super.

Duegar and Lannon decide to go visit the estate owned by the Dwarven clan of Ming, to thank them for their hospitality. The building is a large stone structure, located in the center district along the southern wall of the city. The building is entirely of exquisite dwarven construction, and has been clearly made for dwarves. They enter the building and eventually arrive at the great hall, a 120 by 80-foot room with high vaulted ceiling and sturdy pillars. A heavy oak table fills the center of the room, and seated at the head of the table is in a gem encrusted oak chair is Chan Ming. About two-dozen other dwarves join them, including the other three from the night before, and they all enjoy a fine meal.

Chan mentions that he is bothered that his relative, Hiroshi, has chosen to stay somewhere in the city other than the Ming Estate. Enjoying the fine cuisine, Duegar says “What, you mean we could have stayed here? Why didn’t we?” Lannon explains that this was due to the presence of several non-dwarven members of the party, who might not have been comfortable with all the dwarves. “Well, that’s their loss,” says Chan, “that bunch with you last night didn’t seem to have a problem with us, and boy can that girl drink.” After making inquiries about the castle that Morgarth may be staying in, the two head back to the Common House.

During supper they all conferred. Lono says that had tried to find the local thieves' guild, being unsuccessful. “What did you expect, them to put up a large neon sign?” Lannon tells him. Duegar and Lannon tell of visiting Clan Ming, where they found out that the castle that Morgarth is at sounds like one of four great castles built between 1500 and 2000 years earlier for the giants that ruled the lands. Clan Ming had carved the stones for one of these castles and other dwarven clans had cut the stones for the others three. The Clan agreed to do further research as to the locations of these, although they said their information here in Shosun would probably be rather limited, as the older Clan records are all stored at the Clan headquarters in the coastal city of Chunming.

The group of Hiroshi, Mark, Mojo, Serita & Timothy had spent the afternoon being questioned at a District Police Station, after making an inquiry at a central district auction house regarding unusual creatures sold at a ‘Pet Auction’ on the 5th. After a lengthy interrogation, it was finally revealed to them by the District Police Captain that during the auction in question six of these animal-creatures had indeed been sold. During the past week four of these have now been stolen from their new owners. At the most recent of these thefts, the night of the 14th, four city policemen had been killed, so the police were taking this crime extremely seriously. A six-foot tall muscular Caucasian human fighter with long blonde hair was spotted committing this crime.

Hiroshi explains how Timothy, who does not match that description, is the only Caucasian human with them, He states that their group did not arrive in the city until the afternoon of the 15th, which the police can verify with the records at the northwest district’s north-center gate, so they could not have been involved with this. Hiroshi tells the police that they are gem merchants, coming to the city to sell gems. He says that this can be verified, as they are registered at an auction of gems to be held at the south-central auction house in three days. He says that they were checking out other auction houses, to see where they might get the best price for their most valuable gem. Serita shows the Captain one of the large diamonds to back this story up.

Regarding their inquiry at the auction house about the unusual animals, Hiroshi explained that they had overheard something about that at a bar, and were using that information just as “small talk” to establish a rapport with the auctioneer, before bringing up their true intention of selling gems. The police let them go, telling them to contact the police in the sector and district that they are staying at if they again see the person who they overheard. The rest of the Silver Moon jokes about it being Lawful Good Timothy’s group who wound up being the ones who got in trouble with the police, rather than most of those who were out partying the night before.

After supper, Cassie decided to head back to the Mage’s Guild Library to read. Aradyn insisted on coming with her, which she said was “unnecessary”, and that she was planning to stay there late.

September 17, 1018, 1:00 A.M.

True to her word, it was very late when Cassie finally finished reading, and she and Aradyn then head back to the inn.
 

Silver Moon

Villager
Chinese Take-out

Chapter 15, "The Unanticipated Visitor", September 17, 1018, 4:00 A.M.

“Cassie, Cassie” Upon hearing her voice, Cassie-Andra awakens. She finds herself no longer in a bed at the Common House Inn at Shosun, but instead, is now back on the unique section of the Astral Plane that she visited before with Hendry Junior. In this part of the plane each person's astral image appears unclothed and of a hue that reflects their alignment at all times. This also makes it impossible to tell a lie here, as their aura would change color if they did. Speaking to her now is Hendry's twin brother Rainville, a muscular and handsome nineteen year old fighter, with hair flowing down to his waist. She immediately notices that his aura is not longer silver as it was before, which indicated neutral alignment. It is now a silvery/gold color, closer to her own aura, which is gold indicating good alignment. She also senses that her link to this plane is much weaker than when she traveled here before with his brother Hendry (and once before with both of them).

“It is good to see you again. Why are you in Shosun?” he asks. She answers “We are after Morgarth.” She sees a look of disappointment cross his face. “How did I get here?” she asks. He answers “I am also in Shosun. I accessed the Astral Plane, to get a message to my father who is currently over a hundred miles away. In returning to my physical body I was pleasantly surprised to find your Astral imprint from when you visited this plane before.” “Where in Shosun are you?” she asks. He answers “In the same place of lodging as you, two floors above and about seventy feet down the hallway.”

“Why are you here?” she asks. “It’s a long story,” he answers. “We seem to have the time,” is her response. “Not really,” he answers, “I am in trouble, and desperately need your help.” “What sort of trouble? Are you still working for Morgarth?” “No,” he answers, “We left him two days after we left your Island, and have been working on a different mission since then.” “What kind of mission? Cassie asks.

He answers “Well, to begin with, you need to know that the land surrounding Morgarth’s castle is filled with humanoid-animal creatures.” “Yes, the Hengeyokai, we know all about them,” she says. He is surprised by this, then says “Oh, well many of these innocent creatures were captured by slavers during the week that the anti-magic shell was down. Father decided that it was our mission to find and rescue these captured slaves and return them to their home.” “That explains it,” she says “We were questioned about an incident three days ago, where several policemen were killed.” “That was not our intent,” says Rainville, " We were just trying to rescue the slave.”

He continues “Unfortunately tonight’s attempted rescue went even worse, as they had set a trap for us. Father, and our cleric, were barely able to escape, and they had to leave me behind. I was barely able to get away. I returned here and sneaked into an unoccupied room that we had stayed in when we were in this city last week. Once safely in this room I traveled to the Astral Plane to let father know where I was, but he said he will not be able to return to get me until tomorrow night. I am very fortunate to have found you, as my body is now physically exhausted, and I fear it will be found before I actually awaken on my own. The city guards followed me to this part of the city, and are currently searching the streets and alleys for me. It is only a matter of time before they begin searching the buildings. I need to you to come and wake me as soon as you wake up in the morning.” “That might be a problem,” she says “I was up very late myself, studying at the Mage’s Guild library, so will probably sleep late into the morning myself.”

He then asks “Who is that with you?” “I’m with Aradyn,” she answers a bit sharply. “No, I mean about fifteen feet south of your physical location. I am detecting another Astral imprint, of somebody who has been to this section of the Astral Plane before.” She thinks for a minute, picturing who is staying in each room, and says “That would be Hiroshi, he’s our translator.” “Would he be willing to help?” Rainville asks. “He might,” she answers, “But how?”

Rainville holds her hand and floats them over to where an extremely faint impression of a man is. He says “Each of us should take one of his Astral hands, and I then need you to mentally call his name as loud as you can.” She does so. On the third call the impression of a man begins to solidify. It is soon totally solid, and he opens his eyes.” “Oh my,” he says, and looking to Cassie and her companion, “Well, what is this all about?” She gestures to Rainville and says “My friend is in trouble. He found me and has asked for help, but I need your help as well. All I need you to do is wake me up in the morning.” He replies “OK, fine, we can talk about that more then,” and releases both of their hand, the image then become faint again. Rainville tells her the specific room that he is in, and then releases her hand, and they both mentally return to their sleeping bodies.
 

Silver Moon

Villager
Chinese Take-out

Chapter 16, "The Fugitive", September 17, 1018, 5:30 A.M.

At dawn Serita awakens, and heads downstairs. She is surprised to see that the lobby is filled with city policemen. An oriental gentlemen, who she has determined is one of the owners of the Inn, is with the police lieutenant, and they approach her. The owner speaks to the lieutenant in Chinese, then says to Serita “We are sorry for the inconvenience, but these gentlemen need to speak to you. Please accompany them into one of the dining rooms, and they will buy you breakfast while you talk.” She gets very defensive, demanding to know what this is about. This stand-off continues for several more minutes, with the Lieutenant gesturing to several patrolmen to come and assist. During this time she notices that every other patron of the Inn is also being stopped and escorted into the dining room, so eventually relents, but still demands to know all of the details of what is going on.

Not long after that, three floors above, Hiroshi awakens. He quietly walks over to Cassie’s room, being mindful that Aradyn is probably with her, and uses his own key and a piece of wire to pick the poorly made lock. He then enters the room, but before he gets two steps in hears “Freeze” yelled out, and is looking straight into Aradyn’s drawn bow. “What are you doing sneaking into this room!” the elf demands. Hiroshi bows, saying “Many apologies. Miss Cassie-Andra requested that I wake her, so that she can begin my training in the use of magic spells.” “Don’t you believe in knocking?” Aradyn replies. “Many pardons, but I did not want to disturb your sleep, noble archer,” the older man answers. Lowering his bow, Aradyn says “Next time knock. You could have gotten yourself killed.” Aradyn nudges Cassie awake, and tells her "Hiroshi here. He says he has an appointment with you to learn magic?" She looks towards Hiroshi, and says "Thank you, I had forgotten about our lesson. I’ll join you in your room in a few minutes.”

She dresses, and leaves, Aradyn going back to sleep. She joins Hiroshi in his room. He tells her “Well, now that you’ve gotten me in trouble with your boyfriend I really want to know what this is about. It had better be more than just an affair with that other guy.” She replies "It is, he needs our help. And what was that about me teaching you magic?" He answers "I had an arrow pointing at me, and it was the first thing I could think to tell him. Besides, I've always wanted to learn magic, but the family wouldn't allow it." She replies "With your substantial intelligence, you should."

The two of them then head up to the fifth floor of the inn, seeing policemen coming up the staircases from below. The reach the room that Rainville is in. Hiroshi again working the lock on the door, and they enter. Cassie quickly shakes him awake, saying “Move, fast”. Needing no further incentive, the three leave, barely making it around the hallway as a group of twenty policemen arrive at, and open the doors to that room and the three adjacent to it. "Played that one a little close," Rainville whispers. "Shut up," is Cassie's terse reply.

The three make their way into one of the private baths in the center of each floor the Inn. They lock the door and begin to fill a tub so that the running water will muffle the sounds of their voices. Hiroshi starts by asking “Exactly what is that all about?” Cassie tells him “This is a former acquaintance of mine. He was coerced into working for the mage that we are after, but has since escaped, and can help provide us information about this mage’s whereabouts. However, he is currently wanted by the law in this city, and needs our help.” This intrigues Hiroshi, who says to Cassie “Well, based upon your vouching for him, and the color of his astral aura, I am inclined to trust you." Hiroshi turns to Rainville and says "What to you need?” He answers “An invisibility spell and some way to change my appearance would be of the most help.”

There is then a knocking on the door, and loud voice from outside. Hiroshi whispers “They say they are the police, and demand that the door be opened at once.” Hiroshi yells back in Chinese, making his voice sound even older. As the tub is now full, he unfastens his Oriental robe, telling Cassie to put it on over her other clothing. He then quietly slips into the water, saying to Cassie “Quietly unlock the door, then walk over to the tub, keeping your back to the door, and play the role of my personal attendant.” He gestures for Rainville to hide behind the door as it opens.

They do as instructed, and Hiroshi yells out in Chinese for the police to enter. Cassie grabs a washcloth and begins to scrub Hiroshi’s arm and shoulders. Hiroshi berates the policemen for disturbing his bath, accuses them of being rude, and demands to know what they want. They state that they are looking for a tall Caucasian male with long hair, who is wanted for crimes against the city. Hiroshi yells back “Do either me or my attendant look like a tall Caucasian man to you. Get out!” The police do as ordered, shutting the door behind them.

Hiroshi translates what the policemen said, with Cassie deciding that an appearance change for Rainville is definitely in order. She uses hairy, reverse-hairy, and color cantrips to change him in a balding gray haired man, with a yellowed skin tone with a local-style beard. Hiroshi gives him the Oriental robe to wear over his own clothing. Cassie finishes the disguise with an invisibility spell, so that he can get out of the hotel unseen. While they are doing this she also asks about Morgarth's location, and Rainville replies, “A huge castle, originally built for giants. My father said the castle was called the Summer Palace of the Giants.” He says it is far to the east.

Rainville prepares to leave. Cassie asks where he is going to hide, and he replies “I will wait at a local church of our cleric’s pantheon a few miles east of here until my father can retrieve me this evening. It should be safe, as the groundskeeper has given us permission to stay there. Thank you both for your help.” He then leaves. Hiroshi gives Cassie his room key, saying “Why don’t you go get me a change of clothes while I finish my bath.”
 

Silver Moon

Villager
Chinese Take-out

Chapter 17, "The Third Degree and Breakfast Too!", September 17, 1018, 7:00 A.M.

Meanwhile, the group of Duegar, Lono, Mark and Timothy head down for breakfast. They are stopped in the lobby, and told of needing to be questioned by the police over breakfast. Duegar says “Free Food, lead the way!” They start to enter a dining room, and see Serita still arguing with several policemen. They ask “Could we eat in one of the other dining rooms instead?” The police agree to this, and the four are brought to another room, each being shown to a different table.

Unlike the interview with Serita, where her defensive attitude automatically made her suspect, three of these four interviews proceed quickly. Duegar, Lono and Mark each recount that they arrived in the city the evening of the 15th , and what they have been doing for the day-and-a-half since then. When asked about the Hendry Family all three state that are unaware of them. Timothy, however, remains true to his Lawful Good teachings, saying that he has heard of them and is actually looking for them. This results in three other police being called over for a much lengthier interrogation. Meanwhile, Duegar, Lono and Mark are dismissed and get together at the same table. Duegar looks over the menu, and since somebody else is picking up the tab, orders “one platter of everything”. Duegar then begins to dig in, shoveling the food into his mouth, and getting strange looks from other patrons in the dining room.

A short while later the authorities ask the group of Aradyn, Fiona, Lannon and Mojo to have a seat in one of the dining room. They are asked if they wish to be in the room with the “Loud female half-elf member" or the room with "the dwarf with poor table manners”. Fiona quickly concludes “Serita and Duegar,” to which Aradyn says “Neither, the third dining room will do fine." When told that the police are paying for the meal Mojo turns to Aradyn and says “I was mistaken, it was MY TURN to pay for breakfast this morning.”

Their questioning also goes very quickly, with them being fully cooperative and smart enough to deny knowing anyone named Hendry. Aradyn's player comments “Aradyn has a lot of respect for law enforcement, I figure one of my character’s should." They soon get together in this room for the complimentary breakfast.

Serita eventually finishes, and makes her way into the next dining room. As she approaches the table Duegar tells her to “Eat some eggs,” to that she replies, “I don’t eat anything I talk to.” She is rather angry, especially after being told that she cannot go back to her room. She tells Duegar, Lono and Mark that her interview took forever. “His too,” says Lono, gesturing to the table where Timothy is being grilled, “Maybe they just don’t like you religious types.”

By now it is mid-morning, and another two battalions of police arrive at the inn, for a more intensive sweep of he upper floors. Narg and Toshiro are still upstairs in their individual rooms, sleeping off their hangovers from the night before, while Cassie and Hiroshi are now back in her room, with her giving the septuagenarian him his first magic lesson. When the police arrive these four cooperate in allowing the rooms to be searched, although Narg complains rather loudly about being woken up. A defiant Serita now arrives back on the third floor, refusing to let her room be searched without her being present. This actually works well for the others, as Serita's insolence makes a good distraction, allowing both Cassie and Hiroshi to head downstairs without being interrogated.

The party gets together in one dining room, all except Timothy, who is still being questioned. They try to piece together information obtained from the police during each individual questioning to figure out what is going on. Both Cassie and Hiroshi remain conspicuously silent. The others eventually notice this, and these two are usually the most observant, and ask them what they have noticed. She replies “Not here.” Timothy is finally released, so the party decides to leave, Duegar filling up his backpack with the remaining food from the table.

They head down the street, which is filled with police, deciding to find somewhere else to talk. They eventually settle upon a Lawful Good Church of Kwan Yin, the Chinese Goddess of Mercy. Timothy is able to request a private room for the party to meditate in. All of the party go into the large room except for Toshiro, who goes into a private room to mediate by himself.

Once in the room, Narg looks to Cassie and says “OK, spill it.” She hesitates, with Fiona interjecting “What did you do?” “Not much,” she answers. “Did you steal a book?” Mojo asks. She says “Let me explain...” with Lannon blurting out “She did! She did steal a book!” “I did not,” she snaps back. “Then what was that questioning all about?” Lono asks. Timothy chimes in “The Hendrys did it.” “The Hendrys sole a book?” Lono exclaims. Narg turns to Mojo and says “I’m about to kick your cousin’s teeth in.” Mojo turns around, stating “I didn’t see a thing.”

"Well?" Fiona questions. Cassie answers “I found out that the human animals were indeed created by this Li-Tak, who appears to have also been Lee Takayama. He lived in a castle originally built for giants. The castle was later called Darkhold by the Zhentarum, the evil mages who ruled this land five hundred to seven hundred years ago. It is located far east of here, and is definitely where Morgarth has set up shop. The twenty miles around the castle are where the human animals live. Their race is called Hengeyokai.”

“Where did you get all of this information?” Fiona asks. Cassie answers “Some of it I found last night in the Mage’s Guild Library, and the rest I was told by Rainville of the Hendry Family.” “WHAT!” screams Narg, with the others telling him to quiet down, as they are in a church, and supposed to be meditating. “When did you talk to him?” Lannon asks. “A few hours ago,” she replies, “When Hiroshi and I helped him escape from the hotel.”

This revelation causes several of the party to get rather upset, especially Timothy, who relates that in the course of his very lengthy interrogation he found out that “The Hendrys have now killed eleven people, ten of whom were city policemen. Seven were killed last night and four three nights earlier.” This information upsets Hiroshi, who turns to Cassie and says “Did you know this?” “Not the details, just that his party was ambushed and that he was in trouble,” she answers. Narg snaps at her “For Pete's sake Cassie, you’re supposed to be one of the smart ones in the group, not a kid who can be sweet-talked into doing something incredibly stupid!” Duegar attempts to break the tension by offering everyone a pastry from his backpack.

“How did he find you?” Fiona asks. “On the Astral Plane,” she answers. “That’s where she pulled me in, as I’ve been there before,” Hiroshi offers. Aradyn glares at Cassie, then the archer turns to Hiroshi and says “Is that why you broke into our room this morning?” He answers “Yes, Cassie asked me to.” “Why didn’t you stop her?” Lono asks Aradyn. He replies angrily “Apparently this was only on a ‘need to know’ basis.” Duegar offers the party some scrambled eggs.

After everyone has calmed down again, Fiona asks “OK, why exactly are they running around killing the police?” Cassie replies that they did not intend to kill anyone, that they were only trying to rescue and free the Hengeyokai who had been sold at the auction.” “Morgarth sent them to do that?” Mojo asks. “No,” she answers, “the Hendry family no longer works for Morgarth. They are doing this on their own, having adopted this as their new mission in life.” “Great,” says Narg, “Of all the people you run into it has to be a bunch of P.E.T.A. (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) activists out to save the world!”

Lono turns to Aradyn and says “This is your fault. If you were doing your job she wouldn’t be getting out of line, can’t you control your woman?” Cassie snaps “Who said that I am HIS woman.” “Well, you’re dating him,” Lono answers. She replies “The only reason that I can remember our last actual ‘date’ is because of my half-elvan lifespan.” The conversation then degenerates into a discussion of the merits of dating elves. Mojo comments about the physical characteristics of elves. Fiona comments “Well, she’d be able to compare, since everyone on the Astral Plane is naked.” “WHAT!” yells Aradyn.

Narg pulls Cassie aside and says “Look, I don’t care what’s going on between you and Arrow-boy and Pretty-boy, but you’re supposed to be one of the smart ones. Use your head!” Cassie answers “I’m not leaving Aradyn, I’m just enjoying the fact that he’s not taking the relationship for granted.” Narg answers “Look, any guy acts different when you get them jealous, but we’re in the middle of an important and dangerous mission, so cut this crap out.” A player tells Narg's player “Congratulations, you move from Guy Gardner to Superman in one night.” (A reference to the most obnoxious chauvinist and the diplomatic leader of D.C. Comic’s Justice League.) Narg and Cassie return to the group.

Mark asks “What are we going to do about this now?” Everyone looks to Cassie, who stays silent. Fiona interjects “Look, other than the fact that she just did something stupid, how are we involved?” “Ask Timothy, he’s spent all morning talking to the police,” Lono comments. Fiona turns to Timothy and says “What was that all about? They only spent a few minutes with the rest of us.” Timothy replies “Well, I mentioned that I knew of the Hendrys and was looking for them.” To say that this revelation further upsets the party would be an understatement. Narg yells “You’re saying that you spilled your guts before they even put the screws to you?” Lannon, who has one of the lowest intelligence in the party, says “What is it with you spell casters today! I’m a lot smarter than that!”

Timothy continues, stating that all he said was that the party was after an evil mage, who the Hendrys had been working with. He told the authorities that he had not seen them since the mage had attacked his party at their home months before. “How did they react to all of that?” asks Fiona. Timothy answers “The Police Captain said they may need to question me further, and I am not to leave the City until further notice.” “Timothy, I think you are about to be voted off the Island,” is Mojo’s comment.

Lannon suggest that they sneak Timothy out of the city, and all leave. “That would be stupid,” comments Cassie. “Fine,” answers Fiona, “ What would you suggest? Finding another wanted criminal and give him a ‘Get out of Jail Free Card’?" Lono interjects “No, that wouldn’t be stupid enough. First we’ll go help another wanted criminal escape, then we should go spill our guts to the authorities about it.” As the anger level increases a few threats follow, which Duegar attempts to minimize by offering the group pancakes and bacon. One player gestures to the quietest player at the table and suggests “We might as well let him DM this segment, it’s not like we’re letting the DM get a word in edgewise.”
 

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