The mithril dagger from Bara-xi
After taking leave to attend their sister’s wedding in their home village of Nadera, the Lau brothers found themselves in a quandary. On the one hand, it was imperative that they get back to Kong Wan to report to the Governor. On the other hand, Mo-tse had gotten terribly drunk during the reception and submitted to a foolish dare from an old childhood rival. The exact nature of the dare is lost to history, but some say it had something to do with questionable acts with animals. In any case, it would a few extra days to complete. Dare they make the Governor wait? Tse-dong was loathe to do so, but Mo-tse was even more loathe to back out of the dare. Mo-tse urged his brother to go on ahead. After much deliberation, Tse-dong finally consented. All the way to Kong Wan, he cursed himself for letting his foolhardy brother travel alone.
When Tse-dong got back to Kong Wan, he met up with Tass, Bayar, and Magsa just outside the Sky Door. There they saw soldiers rounding up Dwarves and putting them in the prison wagon to be taken to the Tathatan Ward. Pointing out Dwarves who were once Tathatans was an aged, rotund Dwarf—none other than the healer, Oolo Benari. As he passed by the Sky Door, he pointed to Mumuna and said, “There! He’s one. Once a Tathatan, always a Tathatan!”
Tass, Bayar, Magsa, and Tse-dong sprung to action to defend their friend, but Mumuna calmed them. He went willingly into the prison wagon, fearing repercussions for his family if he did not. He only asked the PCs to help Old Gramps. Meanwhile, Tass deftly pickpocketed the purses off two of the soldiers. In them she found eight iron shu and a copper key.
Afterward, the group went inside the Sky Door and discussed the unfortunate situation. Old Gramps, upon hearing Benari’s name, became very animate and led the PCs down into the cellar, where he opened an old chest filled with a number of surprising items that he tossed out carelessly. Among them were lockpicks, a garrotting cord, a dagger, a buckler, various disguises, a bracelet of black wooden beads carved with archaic writing, and a letter of commendation for heroism addressed to the Black Hand, Oolo Benari, and Mumuna, signed by the late emperor himself, Hunun Gol. Tass quietly pocketed each item as it came out. Finally, Old Gramps found what he was looking for. Blowing off the dust, he produced a copy of the Tathatan version of the Law-scriptures signed with the words “Property of Oolo Benari.” In his hands was evidence that Benari, the very man accusing so many of being Tathatans, was himself a former Tathatan.
Through a comedic guessing game, the group managed to work out from Old Gramps that the mysterious “Black Hand” referred to in the letter of commendation was none other than himself, apparently a pseudonym he went by in the glory days of his youth. Old Gramps gestured for Tass to return the letter and the bracelet. She handed over the letter, but when she went for the bracelet, she found it gone. It was already in the hand of Old Gramps, the Black Hand, with a grin spread across the old Goblinoid’s face. The other items he let Tass keep.
Although the evidence was shocking, the group was unsure how to use it to their best advantage. Bayar’s intention to aid the Tathatans was clear, but Tse-dong had trouble seeing “the angle” — that is, how it fit his ambitions toward political power. Tass and Magsa were caught between them. Unable to resolve their differences, the group tabled the matter for the moment.
Instead, Tse-dong reported to the Governor, who rewarded him for his effort with a tutor in oratory and rhetoric skills by the name of Ling-Jian. Apparently the Governor held intentions to groom Tse-dong for a more public role of some kind. Meanwhile, the Governor was not altogether pleased. He was concerned about reports of Bayar being seen in the Tathatan Ward in the company of a Tabaxi, and asked Tse-dong to confirm that Bayar’s purposes and those of the empire were still in alignment.
Still uncertain as to how to use the information about Benari to their advantage, the group changed their focus. Putting aside the Tathatan Ward goal for the moment, they turned to the black pox. Reasoning that they could become real heroes if they stopped the black pox from afflicting Princess Atas’ army, they went to the Atmahan monastery to visit Kanya and her sister Santhip, who were doing research on the disease.
At the monastery, Santhip revealed startling breakthroughs in her research. They learned two important pieces of information: first, that the black pox is not contagious; and second, that it’s contracted by eating predators high-up on the food chain. Apparently some kind of poison was being ingested by small creatures, who were then ingested by larger creatures, and so on up the food chain. The poison was negigible at the bottom of the chain, but it became increasingly concentrated as it rose up the food chain. Thus, predators at the top end up ingesting a heavy dose, enough to effect lethal disease. Santhip’s next order of business was to discover the identity of the poisonous substance. On her list of possibilities was mercury, and she would need a small quantity in order to test its properties.
Meanwhile, while at the monastery, the group also took time to study up on various things. In the process, Tass found a secret door to a small library room with books in the Gnomish language, including a book on sorcery that she took. While in the room, the temperature suddenly grew cold. Suspecting a draft, she lit a canlde to see if they flame wavered, but it did not. She checked around for a seam in the walls. Then she felt something like lips on the back of her neck, and heard a voice whisper “Pretty little thing.” The young girl darted out of the room and never went back).
They spent three days at the monastery, and it was a day’s ride to and from, so altogether they spent five days.
When they got back, they plotted to see if they could locate Lord Gansalahi’s hidden mercury mines. Knowing that the acrobat Song-i at The Empire knew something about them, they connived to get into the establishment to talk to her. As it was a high-class place to which those of their status they could only hope to be invited, they needed a way in. Magsa proposed to perform a burlesque dance at the evening’s party. The doorman of the Empire, upon hearing the proposal, was intrigued at the novelty of having an exotic Tabaxi perform. She and her friends were added to the evening’s guest list.
That evening, Magsa strutted her feline figure in a dazzling performance. In fact, she did so well that she received an expensive bottle of fine rice wine from Gansalahi, numerous flowers from the audience, and an expensive emerald-studded ring from a very short, bald Dwarf admirer who seemed to have a sincere crush on her.
Meanwhile, Tse-dong got to talk with Song-i, the acrobat, who was confident she could find her way back to the mercury mine, even though she had been blindfolded when she was taken there (her grandmother was blind and taught her how to use sound cues and counting to navigate without the aid of sight). Then Tse-dong talked business with Lord Gansalahi, bargaining to either rent Song-i for three days, at the cost of 60 shu per day plus a key to the PCs lodge, or else pay off Song-i’s debt entirely for around 8000 shu. No final deal was made as of yet. Tse-dong promised to get back to him on it.
Finally, the PCs contrived a plot to accomplish their goals. Bayar sent a letter to Jing-a requesting use of the tunnels again, but hasn’t heard back yet.
1. Enter the Tathatan Ward via the tunnels and tell the elders that they have “proof” that the Governor has been working against the Tathatans, and they will return within a day with the man who will offer that proof.
2. Approach Benari, using the Tathatan law-scriptures book with his signature proving he was once a Tathatan as leverage to blackmail him into going to the Tathatan Ward to tell the Tathatans what he knows of the Governor’s acts against them (assuming he has such knowledge). Hopefully this will convince the elders to leave Kong Wan before something terrible happens to them.
3. While Benari is in the Tathatan Ward, plunder his home and/or house of healing for valuables.
4. After Benari does his part, break the deal. Withhold the book from Benari, even though he held up his end of the bargain. Instead of giving him the book, slay him in the name of justice for all the wrongs he’s done throughout his life.
5. Use the valuables to pay off the rest of Song-i the acrobat’s debt to Gansalahi, effectively purchasing her freedom.
6. Have Song-i lead the way to the mercury mine.
7. Go wild.
Important revelations from this session:
1. Benari was apparently at one time a Tathatan, as evidenced by an old copy of the Tathatan law-scriptures with a frontispiece on which is written “Property of Oolo Benari.”
2. Old Gramps was apparently involved in some kind of group with Mumuna and Benari. At that time, Old Gramps went by the name “The Black Hand.” They received a letter of commendation for heroism from the late emperor Hunun Gol. Old Gramps had some curious items in his chest, including a dagger, buckler, garotting cord, lockpicks, disguises, and a bracelet of black prayer beads with archaic writing on them. He let Tass take all these items, but kept the letter and the prayer beads. Old Gramps also demonstrated some pretty adept pickpocketing skills.
3. The black pox is not contagious. It is contracted by eating too much of a certain poisonous substance, as yet undetermined, which accumulates in predators at the top of the food chain, thus giving the eater a concentrated dose – enough to manifest serious illness.
4. There is no cure for the black pox as of yet. Santhip needs a small vial of mercury to determine if it is the poisonous substance that causes the illness (though mercury is by no means the only candidate for the poison).
5. Song-i the acrobat, who is held in Gansalahi’s debt as an indentured servant, has been to the mercury mine. She was blindfolded, but thinks she can find the place again. She had a blind grandmother that taught her ways to gauge distance and direction without the aid of sight.
6. The original lore on mercury is said to have come from the Gnomish tradition. Lore on this substance might be found within the pages of Gnomish tomes.