Xain and Haomien are escorted across town by Col. Garn and his two companions, into a patrician residential district. The streets here are lined with 8-foot walls, making them appear narrow and the neighborhood deserted; there are gated openings every 1/8 of a mile or so. Colonel Garn and his men take Xain and Haomien to a gate painted green accented with gold leaf; on both doors are carvings of war dragons with gleaming ruby eyes, wound like asps around the capital letter ‘T’. The Colonel uses the brass door knocker; when a small window slides open he mutters his identification and the doors open.
Inside the riotous colors of the lush tropical garden almost make the eyes tear in contrast to the dull grey of the street outside. A servant escorts the Colonel, his men, Xain and Haomien along a stone path to the main house. Our heroes are asked to wait (with the Colonel’s men!) in the anteroom while the Colonel is taken back. While they are waiting, Haomien spots a caped man exit hastily through an adjoining room. The figure looks familiar… he is the assassin from the night before! Haomien and Xain choose to do nothing. It is not long before the servant has returned to collect the party. Everyone is instructed to remove their shoes, to kneel before Master Tsing and only speak when spoken to.
They are brought into a highly ornate room: tapestries of herons and dragons line the walls, black shellac cases showing off valued items about the room. Servant girls kneel in a line against the walls, heads bowed, and waiting for their next command. There is a long red rug down the center of the room leading to a raised dais. Here sits Master Tsing. He is a small and slight man, but wearing samurai armor that appears too big for him. The helmet sits a bit cock-eyed on his head. He tries to sit tall so he is above everyone in the room. He sits on a cushion in a bold warrior pose, sword lain at his side at the ready (for what, you’re not quite sure).
“It has come to my attention that you have in your possession an item that has been stolen. It belongs to my patroness. That is all I am asking for. If you will simply return it to me within 6 hours we shall lay this matter to rest and you may freely return to your quaint little lives. You may agree to my terms now.”
Xain and Haomien agree to the terms and are released to return to the shop (so they can get the crystal). They are accompanied by the two guards from Master Tsing.
When they return to Haomien’s shop, they find Wang Cheng there, but no Do Xian. After a brief interrogation of Wang, they realize that Do Xian has been kidnapped, and the crystal is gone. It is obviously not House Tepet as their guard is waiting for the party to retrieve the crystal; if they had it the guard would have been recalled.
Do Xian’s bedroom is disturbed (whether from the abduction or the scuffle from the night before, it is unclear). There is a marking carved in the wall just above her bed: an upside down A inside a circle. There is also a piece of fur caught on a sliver in the door jamb—fur from an arctic wolf, used in coats made by the people from the North.
After talking to neighbors for information, our party finds that several cloaked men had entered the shop, later leaving with Do Xian (she walked out with them). A chase through the city leads them to the docks where our party surmises the abductors(?)boarded a ship for the North. One had left earlier that day, and there would not be another for quite a while. The dock master points them toward some ships for hire down at the far end of the docks.
The Tepet guards have been informed of the situation (Do Xian has the crystal and is kidnapped) While negotiating with a ship captain for passage, the Tepet guards realize what is occurring. They know this is more than what Master Tsing would allow and attempt to stop our party. Swords are drawn and combat ensues, resulting in the death of one guard and the capture of another. Time was passing: within an hour Xain was able to locate David Watts in a tavern at the docks and carried him to the ship before disembarking.
Our party sails North from the Blessed Isle, the land of stability and safety due to the oversight of the Realm. Beyond the Blessed Isle there is increasing chaos, danger, and poor tea.
Will our would-be heroes overcome the ship carrying Do Xian and free her from her fur-lined abductors?
Will their voyage be free from interference by the dreaded monsters of the deep, or are these merely old wives’ tales to keep children from setting off to see the world?
Will they choose real arctic wolf fur for their jackets or the more environmentally friendly synthetic imitation?
Answers to these and other pressing questions will be revealed in our next adventure:
Go North, Young Man!