[pnpgm] Game Update #25 - File #276 - IBT and Cover Story

Scott Adams longshot at darktech.org
Thu Jul 30 05:47:24 CEST 2009

   HT Alias/Player          Character Name    Type    Status/Notes  Sex
  -- -----------------------------------------------------------------
  R1.John Haight...........Arawn.............Druid  .Normal/Alfar  Ma
  ??.Chris Wells...........Ben'dar...........Warrior.Normal/Human  Ma
  R4.Tom Corckett..........Caladan...........Wizard  Normal/Human  Ma
  W2.Marcel Liberty........Chion.............Sailor..Normal/Human  Ma
  W3.Ryan Torres...........Farseeker.........Warrior.Normal/Human  Ma
  --.Tobie Bonahoom........Fremea............Sidh....Normal/Faerry Fe
  R2.Mark Murtha...........Kell..............Trader..Normal/Human..Ma
  Do.David Sanders.........Kiet.Sunan........Acrobat Normal/Human  Ma
  R4.J H Hooten............Raban.Usherwood...Bard....Normal/Human..Ma
  W2.Robert Maxwell........Strie'bog.........Bard....Normal/Human..Ma
  R1 NPC...................Shu.Yeoh..........Wizard..Normal/Human..Fe
  W4.Wout Broere...........Unali.............Ninja...Normal/Human  Fe
  Do John.Stowman..........Will..............Hunter..Normal/Human..Ma
  R4.Alex Koponen..........Z'leyra...........Healer..Normal/Human  Fe
  R1 NPC...................Zhou Kiwat........Noble...Normal/Human..Ma
     Animals: Corona [Eagle] Z'leyra, Tef'wo (Horse) Ben'dar, 2 Donkeys

  Cover Story Info: [HD- House member, F-Foreignter, N-native non house]
     Arawn      aka Arawn         as Teacher to daughter [F]
     Ben'dar    aka Bu Da         as Horse expert        [F]
     Caladan    aka Ca Lu         as Guard/Archer        [N]
     Chion      aka Capt. Chu Mai as Sailor Trustee      [HD]
     Farseeker  aka Fu Sa         as Guard               [F]
     Fremea     aka Lin Mong      as Noble child         [HD] [Disguised]
     Kell       aka Swan          as Trader              [F]
     Kiet       aka Kiet Sunan    as Zhou's servant      [F]
     Raban      aka Toban Nu      as Slave               [F] 
     Strie'bog  aka Sun Zhu       as Entertainer         [N]
     Shu        aka Shu           as Niece               [HD]
     Unali      aka Tun Au        as Zhou's wife         [HD]
     Will       aka Sun Tzu       as hunt master         [F]
     Z'leyra    aka Kakita Junami as Healer              [F]
     Zhou       aka Zhou Wa       as Noble               [HD]

     Game Web Site - http://www.funport.com/longshot/pbem
     Public posts/actions to pnpgm at abroere.xs4all.nl (mailing list)
     Private emails (not public actions) to longshot at darktech.org
     Game Update #25 in sequence (file #276)      
     Admin Notes: This is the IBT post that sums up what everyone did in
     the month that was the IBT.  Unless stated below all actions were
     during the month from Ma 25 - Junaqa 25.  Some things like book
     studies, skills, item creation or minor non magic things might have
     been spread out over the full 79 days of the trip. But for ease of
     the math I put the IBT smack in the middle of the trip for one
     conescutive set of days for ease of math.  Think of this as the part
     of the movie where characters are seen punching meat (Rocky) or
     training with swords before the big action starts.
     So insert dramatic music here...
     [Recap] - None
     [New Stuff]

        [Ma 25th - Junaqa 25th, 1634TH]

            As the trip gets into its 5th week, the party gets more
        used to the crew and vice versa.  By now the sailors don't
        seem even concerned the slightest of magic done.  Back during
        the Dragon combat they saw magic used just 3 weeks earlier.
        Even the stares done toward some like Raban, Fremea, Strie'bog
        and Arawn are long gone.  Even some of the sailors become close
        friends with the party as much as one might on a ship.

            The sailors seem used to magic and the party do know they
        visit the Dark Lands often enough not to be fearful of it.  Kiet
        has commented that Lemasa does have slavery in some fashion but
        they do not fear magic like Katai.  They tolerate it at most.
        They will not kill magic users out right.  So the sailors soon
        become less cautious of the party.

            Passengers are just cargo so for sailors it doesn't matter.
        Especially those who pay.  As long as the coin is there they
        don't care what they haul or what that cargo does as long as
        it doesn't disrupt with daily ship life or their actual ship.

            In fact among the rules Captain Sung outlined weeks ago
        he does make one rule solid.  That no one place magic onto his
        ship.  Even magic that can be put away later or taken off. Its
        one thing to use the magical talisman but its another to do say
        a Purified area or cast magic into boards to make it talk or such.
        He explains that is the normal superstition that all sailors.
        Those who have been on the seas before have heard many of the
        myths and phobias sailors have.  Having a female on board causes
        bad luck, fishing up a dead fish by a personal fishing line will
        mean doom, not tossing salt over the shoulder will be bad luck
        in the days to come and too much joy and noise will cause monsters
        to attack.  By tainting his ship the sailors could mutiny and
        thus he'll have to throw the party ashore.  Captain Sung seems
        quite smug in his emphasis on this as if he can tell if the
        ship would be tainted or not.  

            Arawn spends his time mostly below decks during the trip.
        Sleeping most of the day and up all night.  Once on deck he
        can read or study his books under the stars and under the glow
        of a lantern.  He finds himself mostly alone on deck as Raban
        sleeps on deck and the sailors are mostly sleeping.  There is
        always a night sentry and someone at the wheel but its quiet.
        Fremea also spends time with him during the nights.

            Arawn casts his spells inside the privacy of his cabin.  Not
        all the spells are known that he casts.  He is seen talking to
        Raban and Strie'bog on their bless magic.  It can be assumed
        from past experience he casts his energy replenishment spell
        often.  Those who pass his door occasionally hear the hum of
        magic inside.  As those rumors spread the description of the
        hum seem to be likely shield magic.   Going to Katai Arawn
        also researched the Mana Shield spell in order to defend himself
        against detection.  It is assumed he probably practiced that
        as well.  One day Kell is walking by Arawn's cabin and hears
        a faint jostling noise inside.  Blam.  Crash.  It sounds like
        Arawn is throwing furniture about.  As Kell strokes Squirts
        fur he listens in on the noise.  A few seconds later in case
        there is danger he knocks but no reply.  Fearing danger he
        opens the door and suddenly drops Squirt to the ground.  In
        shock Kell stares at a large fish rocking back and forth
        between the wall and bed.  Kell glances around but sees no
        Arawn but then notices clothing near the fish.  Squirt though
        rushes over to nip at the fish as if its a bouncing ball.

            Kell surmises that the fish must be Arawn.  Why else would
        a fish be on the floor unless a joke?  Kell rushes over and
        stops Squirt from eating Arawn.  Then dashes some water onto
        the large fish.  Soon Caladan comes by and does a double take
        at Kell holding a fish down.  Caladan comes in just as Arawn's
        shape change spell stops.  A rather embarrassed and naked Arawn
        quickly pulls a sheet over him.

            Caladan comments, "fish swim you know that right?"  Caladan
        grins as he leans on his staff.  Caladan recalls the story about
        Arawn swimming at Lake Oca as a fish or something.  Who had told
        him that story?  Farseeker or Ben'dar?

            Arawn soon dressed and realized he might have planned that
        one out a bit differently.  if he hadn't had water he might have
        just died in his cabin.  What a way to go.  It doesn't take long
        for the story to get out and Arawn has to groan each time he
        hears the word fish, especially since fish is a common food
        on the dinner table.

            Some days Arawn is awake for skill training.  He spends
        almost two weeks learning with many others the skills of
        being a sailor.  He spendt three days, many hours learning shield
        use from Unali and Kiet.  Unali also helps Arawn to learn to
        read Katai for a few days.  Kiet spends six days going over
        the basics of smuggling with Arawn as well.  

            Arawn does ask Fremea to watch his body during some trance
        periods.  One session lasts 7 hours where he goes into a trance
        to learn wisdom.  

            The party is relieved to see that Arawn leaves all the big
        magic items he had.  At least the big ones folks know of.  He
        says he is not carrying magic anymore.  The big armor that some
        felt he shouldn't own was given to the High Elder to safeguard.
        By simply having it could risk exposure of the party.  Even
        the Blue and Red powerful books were left at the Citadel.  Arawn
        buys a Katai style hat that should cover his most non-normal ears.

            At the end of the 9th week or so some notice Arawn has a
        different glow about him as if he is more powerful in his
        magic than was just weeks ago.  

            Ben'dar's time is spent daily training with others on the
        scimitar skill.  He becomes more skilled as he spars with Unali
        and another sailor who know the weapon well enough.  Ben'dar
        also spends a lot of time helping with the ship chores that
        most sailors would know.  During the days when the ship is
        docked at fishing villages he is seen walking or riding the
        horses.  When he is able he also takes Tef'wo out into the
        deep forest but within a mile of the village.  Ben'dar felt
        it was a good idea to leave all his magic gear behind.  That
        would including his high resistant armor, magical pike, magical
        dagger and magical belt.  He knows in the future he will have
        to rely on his skills and luck alone.

            Caladan spends his time with the seaman skill at least a
        third of the time.  He is more nervous with the skill as others
        but soon gets into the groove of things.  He also works with
        some like Z'leyra on practicing his sign language.  Who knew
        that just days ago when the inspectors came he would have use
        for the skill he already knew but not expertly.  Caladan is also
        seen on deck casting sleep magic at least 10 times to practice
        it but from what is seen is all he casts on the entire trip.
        Caladan had left his most obvious magic item behind the magic
        lightning staff.  It was clearly a magical staff.  Now he only
        uses a normal war staff.

            Chion spends his entire time with the seaman skill.  He has
        been on ships many times.  Including the Climan trip and the
        year long trip from the Dark Lands to the Sea of Tears, before
        he became so skilled in the teleport spell.  He doesn't need
        the practice as he clearly finds himself at home among the sailor
        and dresses even like them at times.  Even though he is cordial
        when asked directly, Chion remains quiet and aloof.  For those
        who have known him for some time this isn't anything new or
        nervous about the future Vong.  This is simply his style. Kell
        and Kiet do try to get him out of his shell but with little 
        success.  From what folks can tell he did as he said he would
        the day of the meeting with the High Elder and left his magic
        gear in the Dark Lands.  Though it does seem he kept his sapphire

            Farseeker is happy to be gone from military life.  Though
        the regimented sailor life is somewhat like it he enjoys
        being away from it.  He spends the full month not sparing much
        wit his weapons but with the sailor skills.  In fact he almost
        becomes an expert in the skill by the time the ship docks in
        Katai.  Some of the time he spends some fun time with Raban
        doing hand to hand wrestling/fighting.  Of course with Raban
        being so large it becomes more like a bear wrestling with a
        dog.  But Farseeker knows some moves that does surprise Raban
        and is able to pin him a few times.  Farseeker left his magical
        lance and belt at the High Elder's Citadel.  

            Like Arawn Fremea spends most of her days sleeping and nights
        up on deck or with others.  Those days she is up she finds herself
        flying about the ship in circles or exploring the nearby coast.
        Even with the magical talisman she finds she is slightly faster
        than the ship at low winds.  On days when there are strong winds
        she is slower and must do wide arcing circles to get caught up
        to the ship if off exploring.  It takes a couple weeks for the
        sailors to stop staring.  It is clear they have never seen a
        Faerry.  She doesn't show her wings for a few first days but
        it becomes clear with Zhou and Captain Sung helping out they
        try to make life more comfortable for her.  Eventually she
        goes around with her wings out without worry.

            During early morning or late hours Fremea is seeing practicing
        her magic archery spells Cold and Multi arrow.  In fact she spends
        15 days casting both 5 times per day for a total of 75 castings
        each.  Raban, Strie'bog and other sailors become amazed at the
        multi arrow spells as one becomes two or more.  After the first
        day the sailors learn a trick to place a bucket under the target
        she uses for Cold arrow to collect the thin ice that is flaked
        off.  It might not be fit to eat the ice but it does cool down
        some wine and ales when items placed in the bucket.   She slowly
        improves both spells though had a better than 50/50 success
        rate with both.    For skills she practices acting with Kiet
        and some of the others for 15 days.  The other 15 days she
        is spent only on her disguise skill.  In fact she plays games
        with the sailors trying to fool them when docked at villages.
        Once or twice they do think she might be a stowaway child but
        after a closer look realize it is her.  

            At the Citadel Fremea had to buy 19 pounds of arrows for her
        intended practice on ship since she would lose many.  Fremea
        does seem to take all her items with her on the trip but no one
        can confirm it fully.  Arawn does at times sense some magical
        dedicated arrows in her quiver but that's about it.  
            In order to practice her Acting skill she and Kiet do the
        occasional sketch on ship to entertain the party and crew.  Both
        will do scenes of some event in the past or historical theme.
        The sailors applaud but do not get boisterous at the events
        knowing the phobia against being too loud.  Some already
        argue that two days before the Dragon attack the crew was too
        loud when Ben'dar and Farseeker drunk ale late in the evening
        telling of war stories.

            Kell being one of the new members throws himself into the
        role as silver-tongued talker (as Sung calls him) to the crew
        and passengers.  Soon it is realized he could sell his own
        mother a pair of shoes from her own daughter's feet.  

            In the forest before the trip started Kell was seen practicing
        elemental summoning.  In the forest he is able to banish the
        Gnome before it goes berserk.  Halfway through the trip he also
        summons a Gnome but this time Z'leyra standing nearby has to
        banish it.  Twice more before the month ends he summons another
        Gnome on those days but Z'leyra has to save him by banishing both
        who get beyond his own skill.  Other days he is seen casting
        magical energy webs onto the ship railing or rigging for a
        short time.  Sailors get upset at the rigging webs but soon
        calm down when it goes away.  

            Ha'kell finds though during the trip some cold stares from
        some during the three days he summons a Gnome to his chest of
        dirt.  Arawn, Fremea and Strie'bog express some unease at the
        summoning.  It seems cruel to them to summon a Gnome to a small
        chest of dirt and then to turn around right away and banish it
        only to practice the spell.  It almost seems like a abuse of
        the connection to the elements.  They might remember this
        later on and fail to act.  Its one thing to summon and ask a
        elemental for help or aid but another to just summon and banish
        it right away.  Fremea seems to just feel unease at the thought
        of some captive Gnome being abused by the spell.  

            Kell while not talking to plan the future of economic dreams
        for party members and sailors spends time learning new skills
        and things.  After a month of travel at sea he finally gets
        his sea legs and learns the ways of the ship.  After a month
        he finally is able to walk around the ship without looking
        green and sick.  He also learns on days Arawn learns Shield
        the same use of Shields from Unali and Kiet.  He spends 9
        days just learning shield use and tactics.  He spends 8
        days under the barbarian Ben'dar learning how to fight and spar
        with a spear.

            Kell had left his magical spears at the Citadel fearing they
        could endanger the party.  Kell was seen in the Citadel market
        buying spare dirks, a bastard sword and some spare daggers.
        The folks at the market think himself when asked for a empty
        chest to just put dirt in, but they still sell one to him.

            Squirt the ferret like pet Kell has, sees his share of trouble
        during the long trip.  The animal becomes soon bored of exploring,
        chasing rats, annoying Corona, eating boots, ripping some of
        the sails that flap low enough for him to do so and stealing food
        from the stores.  It soon becomes clear the crew get annoyed
        with the animal and even some of the party members.  Eventually
        Sung forces the animal to be stored in Kell's cabin most days.

            At one point Kell is seen lifting various items on deck as
        if his strength is getting better.  In one hand he lifts various
        items like rigging sandbags or spars or anchor chains to see
        how much he can do while in the other hand he holds it to his
        side.  While doing this a smile comes to his face at times. 

            Farseeker tells Kell of Tiki, Cholan's own pet while Caladan
        who has a Firesnake plays with him at times.  A few times some
        crew get upset enough to draw daggers on the beast and only one
        thing keeps them from killing the animal, that of Kell being
        a paid customer.  But patience slowly becomes short with the
        animal.  Some in the party do not make light that the animal
        will be a problem in Katai.  If it flees and is captured
        he will likely end up dinner that night on someone's table.

            Kiet finds relief leaving the dark lands.  Having been
        stranded there by his own recent shipwreck there and the
        attempted assassination of him at the wedding.  Late in the
        first day of sailing Kiet climbs the rigging with the Lymrian
        flag he claimed.  He mounts it with the Lemasan flag on the
        mast and raises one hand outward.

            "Hear me," Kiet yells to the sky, "Ben Nez, King of the Air!
        Hear me, oh Lord of the Wind, in which this flag used to fly! Hear
        me as I humbly seek your wisdom concerning this wind-swept flag!
        Does this flag still fly somewhere on or above the earth, and if
        so, where, oh Great one!  Your humble servant beseeches you."

            Shortly Kiet would get his answer.  But Captain Sung was not
        happy by this dangerous move.  Not knowing how Kiet was on
        the rigging could've killed him.  After a long yelling and
        removal of the flag, Sung finally calms down.

            During the mid-month of the trip Kiet would practice some
        basic spells on the deck.  He would use the numerous amounts
        of ropes on the deck to entangle squirt or the wary Kell or
        some other member passing by.  He would also practice abandon
        a few times again on Squirt and the random sailor who didn't seem
        to ever know what was going on.  

            Kiet would spend 12 days with Kell learning shield use in
        combat.  With Caladan, Kiet learned more ways of fighting with
        the War Staff for almost 2 weeks.  

            Kiet heeded the wise words of High Elder ki'ama and left his
        magic gear behind in the dark lands.

            Kiet also spends much of his free time entertaining with others
        like Fremea doing acting scenes.  He also will use his acrobatic
        skills to show how limber he is and impress the sailors.  Some
        sailors spend hours watching him talk about rope making a useful
        skill for them if they found themselves stranded somewhere.

            Raban who found himself thrown in with this group just weeks
        ago from some wild assassination attempt, now finds himself on
        some foul errand to save the world.  He wonders how his goddess
        must not like him so much?  On the ship he finds himself spending
        time with both party members and sailors alike.

            Many find his bow and arrow making skills useful to discuss
        methods with.  Fremea finds techniques in his disguise skills
        useful to her own disguises.  Raban now that things have settled
        down spends time on his ability to find trap doors or secret walls,
        like he did in the flying castle.  You never know when such
        things might be useful to a person like him. Kiet spends time with
        him talking about various smuggling techniques as well.  

            During off hours Raban sits around with others and talk of
        history of Aratad and the land around that area.  His bardic
        skills and stories come in use for major entertainment sessions.
        Like Kiet and Fremea he does a few acting sketches but not as
        many.  While Kiet demonstrates his acrobatic prowess Raban also
        does tumbles and acrobatic moves that impress the sailors.  to
        have such a large body move so well is impressive to them.  With
        more fun for Raban than the audience some dance time is done
        with Z'leyra in couple dancing or single dance.  

            Most of Raban's entertainment is done with music.  In single
        action or with Z'leyra he plays the drum.  He also plays the
        Mandolin or pipe to soothing songs.  At some reluctance of the
        crew they politely tolerate singing as well.  But fear the noise
        will bring monsters.  

            Raban left all his magic gear behind as well.  He had paid for
        three sets of Katai style clothing special made for him and his

            For skills Raban learned the ways of the sailor for 17 days.
        Though Captain Sung would not allow him to climb any of the
        rigging.  It would be simply too dangerous with his size to
        the rigging.  He also spend 13 days working on his bow making
        skill and having an audience while he did that.

            While Raban could not sleep in the tiny beds below he was
        able to sleep on the top deck.  On nights it would rain or be
        too hard to sleep he could also sleep on the hold ramp.  The
        below decks he had to always duck due to the low ceilings but
        could venture down to the hold deck easy.  Down on the cabin deck
        was a bit more difficult since the ladders creaked and moaned
        when he took them down.

            Strie'bog on the ship is new to the water life.  Being from
        forest the sea is fascinating to him.  It is sad he had to leave
        his companion wolf behind but his mother seemed to need him more
        now than him.  Of course hearing about the mission to a land where
        family pets are somewhat dangerous since if lost they might end up
        on a dinner plate.  So he is glad to have left the wolf behind.
        Though is surprised Kell would bring Squirt and Z'leyra endanger
        Corona hearing that Eagle beaks are a delicacy.

            During the trip Strie'bog spends 13 days learning the basics
        of ship life with the others.   He also spends 17 days of the
        trip learning bow making skill with Caladan and Raban as helpful
        teachers.  He also spends time with Unali on dagger practice.
        As well as troubadour practice with Raban.

            At a few times during the trip, Strie'bog also enters a
        magical trance to gain wisdom.  For those who have known him
        before has seen the trance.  He used it back on the Zen'da
        plains to learn of the Lake Oca danger.  He would also use
        it in the Vassa forest.  Some trances might be minutes, hours but
        some could be days.  To ensure his body is safe he asks
        Z'leyra to watch his body while in such trances.  At least
        one takes 14 hours.  The information gained is not known to
        anyone but him at this point. 

            Like Fremea, Strie'bog practices some archery magic on board
        the ship.  He casts multi-arrow spells at least once per day for
        the mid-month period.  At the end he also seems more confident
        in his magic strength and abilities as if he has learned to new
        levels and growing stronger.  

            Strie'bog also entertains the ship with stories, myths, legends
        and music during the trip.  The ship's carpenter also finds
        Strie'bog useful as the bard knows carpentry skills.  When Zhou
        learns through chance that Strie'bog knows something about
        watercraft like river barges both men talk for some length.  Zhou
        tries to get a feel for what the river system in Katai could handle
        in terms of traffic and loads.

            As with some of the others like Kiet, Z'leyra and the Giant
        Raban, Strie'bog entertains with acrobatics, dancing and singing.
        Strie'bog also spends the hours of boredom playing the flute
        and his balalaika instrument.  

            Though he left the magic gear behind his balalaika was kept
        with him.  It seems to be very important to him.

            Shu the quiet apprentice has been aloof and quiet like Chion
        for the first month of the trip.  Then in the mid-month she
        begins to talk more.  Especially when she catches the eye of
        a handsome sailor in his early 20s named Tahl.  They have been
        known to spend quiet evenings on the front top deck in quiet
        discussion.  It does take her a week or two just to get the
        courage to speak to him.  But it seems Arawn and Unali seem to
        help the relationship come to terms.

            Shu spends 15 days learning more techniques with the fighting
        dagger and 15 days with the thrown dagger under the fine teaching
        of Unali.

            Unlike the others Shu never really learns the basics of
        seaman and on days of rough seas stays below.  She claims her
        strength and agility doesn't help in those skills.

            While some in the party try to learn of her magic training she
        is not forthcoming.  It seems Zhou may have some hint of her skills
        but even he seems to be missing some details.  It is clear that
        she knows some arcane spell that is critical to this mission.  The
        mysterious absence-of-mana-spell or whatever it is called.  Some
        believe it to be a modification of knowledge, wisdom or detection.
        But she refuses to give details stating her master in the Dark Lands
        is the only person to know the spell beside her.  It is a ancient
        piece of lore few know and she doesn't want it getting out.  It
        may someday backfire on her master.  

            Of all those who have been to Katai, Unali is a bit hesitant
        for days when the trip starts out.  It is one thing to leave
        her homeland for some reason but to return to it is to come
        full circle.  She always wonders about her family, friends and
        contacts there.  But knows that life was too long ago to wonder
        if it will be a problem now.  Then she realizes that the odds
        are slim that the mission and Zhou will lead her actually home.
        She directs her energy to the mission and not her family at this
        time so that her skills as a Katai native will be of use.

            During mid-month she spends 5 days sparring the wind and
        ghost warriors on the top deck with both daggers in both hands.
        It seems of the party she is the only one skilled in using two
        weapons at one time.  A skill that has saved her many times.
        She spends 1 day learning some new fighting stances with the War
        Staff under Caladan's leadership.  She spends two days on some
        more Seaman skills under Farseeker.  She didn't really need to
        know more seaman as previous experience was there but it I always
        good to know more.  She spends 4 days learning the best ways
        of climbing under Caladan's leadership on the rigging.  It is
        one thing to simply climb a building or rope ladder but another
        to climb during a storm or combat.  So she spends more time than
        might be normal.  She spends two days on the throwing dagger skill.
        The rest of the time she spends learning sword under various
        teachers of the party and crew.  

            Like Kiet and Fremea, Will has been a new member to this group.
        Thrust upon at the whim of the High Elder for some reason or
        another.  It is clear they do not know him and thus based on that
        alone creates suspicion and unease.  It takes 2-3 weeks just to
        really get to know the woodsman.  The first to break the ice is
        Kell who gets Will to admit stories of great hunts and treks
        into the deep woods.  Others slowly also talk to him and
        begin to know him better.

            Back at the citadel Will sold his donkey and paid for a riding
        horse.  He also acquired some armor and weapons for the trip

            Will spent 13 days of the mid-month to learn as with the
        others the sea going skills of the ship.  With help from Unali
        and Kiet he also trained with the shield defense techniques.
        Under the help of Unali and Ben'dar he would spend 4 days
        practicing sparring with the scimitar.  

            During the entire trip Will is seen above deck with a sketch
        pad and quill making sketches or notes.  Some notice him glancing
        at people and some suspect he is making images of the party.
        He also was seen doing quick sketches of the dragons earlier.
        But when he made sketches of various coastline spots or villages
        it became clear the man liked to simply do sketches.

            Even though it takes weeks for Will to get to be more open
        he is noted as spending some hours in his cabin for reasons
        not known to the party.  Toward the end of the mid-month he
        is seen entering and leaving Z'leyra's cabin a few times.  Rumors
        spread that maybe Z'leyra is giving him some massages or
        advice or other things.  But where exactly those rumors came from
        or whom is not clear.

            Z'leyra being the ever busy shaman she is kept busy during
        the weeks after the Citadel meeting.  Skill practice she would
        improve her riding technique on the horses, a day of seamanship
        and a few long days on top deck doing tanning of many leather items
        of various sizes.  It would seem she was she intended to make
        various items of leather origin likely for some enchanted purpose.
        Below deck those near her cabin heard the tink tink noise of
        tools and other noises as if she was making some wooden or metal
        objects as well.  Z'leyra rarely had down time it seemed on the
        ship as she was always busy with various things.  She would even
        be seen top deck carving small pieces of wood artistically.  If
        the items weren't for her some speculated who the items might be
        but never knew for sure.

            Z'leyra would spend some quiet time trying to determine the
        spell words and gestures to the strange family of spells related
        to Mana magic.  Those with keen senses like Arawn and Fremea
        note that near the end of the mid-month Z'leyra's bracelet,
        staff and ring seem to be brighter in their aura.  As if stronger
        in strength as if she improved them.

            At one point during the end of the mid-month Z'leyra collects
        trapped and dead rats found on the ship.  She places the smelly
        creatures into an empty barrel and casts oblivion on them to
        send them away and back.  She repeats this process a few times
        and then again a few days later as if to practice her oblivion

            Z'leyra also helps out in the cooking chores in the various
        bland meals served on ship.  Except for meat collected at
        fishing villages the rations, fish, soups and stews get a bit
        old for most of the civilized crew.  With Raban and Kiet she
        helps out in dancing, singing and playing her drum.  A sailor
        has a flute and she uses it to play a song or two.  Her flute
        having been left behind in her manor.  

            Unlike everyone in the party, Z'leyra was the only one to
       take all of her magic gear.  Even after the High Elder's warnings
       and other party member's comments.  Some clearly fear their entire
       mission will be endangered by her bringing so many items.  It is
       one thing to bring a magic amulet or ring but another to bring
       clearly magical items like a staff that would be certain instant
       death in Katai.  It becomes more clear to many that she is more
       dependent on magic than the others who can give it up and act
       on their own skills and talents.

            Corona during the trip remained high above most of the
        trip in the rigging.  When the sailors clearly had to do their
        work he would fly to the back and roost.  He wasn't as fast as
        the ship so had to remain nearby.  Though some days he would
        fly out to fish or explore nearby coastline.  He would have
        to fly up high and circle down in wide arcs to eventually catch
        up tot he ship.  When Unali and Arawn learned his language through
        he necklace he was honored.  In the great span of time since
        Fisherking was killed and Corona joined the party few ever paid
        much attention to the snow white eagle.  Unali and Arawn would
        quietly spend time talking to the eagle to try to get to know him.
        Of course the eagle was reluctant to give much details of his
        world or his past. Unali had known he joined when the party met
         up with Lady Varo. but Arawn didn't know his past at all.  When
         Arawn asks of his magical eyes, corona just seems to think it
         natural to him and wonders why no other birds can do it?  Corona
         also does give his views on the whole thing in Katai.  Either
         through conversations with Z'leyra or through his intelligence
         of human speech he seems ho have grasped the dangers of Katai.
         Maybe even Zhou or the High Elder had warned him?  At one point
         it was notice Ki'ama did met with the eagle privately one day on
         his tower a honor no one in the party got to visit.  But the
         views Corona has on Katai are of people who eat animals not as a
         survival thing but as delicacy food.  This would include eagles,
         dogs and tn some rumors horses?  Corona doesn't quite understand
         why a shaman like Z'leyra would endanger her tonah by taking her
         into such danger.  Later it only becomes clear that Z'leyra had
         worked on magical items to protect Corona but in that aspect it
         also puts him in danger as well.  Corona asks Arawn if these
         things are normal as he doesn't understand Shamans.  While it is
         true technically Corona isn't from this world, as can even Arawn
        surmise, he doesn't have a direct tonah tie with Z'leyra but he
        understands some of the aspects of Tonahs.  In the end Corona
        accepts his fate for Katai as the wishes of the one he agreed to

            Tef'wo clearly did not like the weeks and weeks of travel
        enclosed in the hold.  Nor did the other horses.  It takes the
        coordinated efforts of Z'leyra, Ben'dar and a few others to
        get them calm on some days.  When there are days of 5-6 between
        fishing villages and ports the horses get a bit rowdy.  Tef'wo
        seems to take a bit of leadership for the horses and calms some
        of them down.  It is good for Z'leyra to talk to the horses to
        explain the situation and some take that and also calm down for
        a day or two.  But it would not do good mentally or physically
        for the horses to remain in the hold for 3 months.  So they are
        let out whenever the ship docks.  Only one time does the portmaster
        not allow it as the docks are for people only.  When the horses
        are let loose they graze, ride, and relax in the open forest areas.
        Some days it does take some strong convincing to get them back on
        the ship but easy to get them off.  During high waves and storms
        it takes at least 3-5 people  in the hold to calm the horses down
        and ensure they are braced so they don't get hurt.  But even
        with that during high waves some do get bruises and lose some
        hair due to the stress.  

            Squirt also was a bit rowdy on some days.  Unlike even some
        of the sailors by the first month it seems the animal gets into
        every inch of the ship aside from locked rooms like the Captains
        cabin.  There are days he gets into food and eats heavy making
        sailors and party members upset.  At least one day he spills some
        ale and laps it up.  Running around on deck a drunk Squirt then
        trips one sailor and finds himself climbing up the back of Shu
        to get to her hair while she is scurrying about trying to get it
        off her.  She doesn't like the animal after that.  Sailors
        and some crew members give glares to Kell for bringing the animal
        along.  To ensure that everyday is stress free with the animal
        Caladan obliges by making squirt sleep with his magic for a few
        days.  Even Kell seems to need a day or two of rest without chasing
        the animal.

            The sailors on ship seem all experienced in the ways of ships
        and their operations.  Clearly some seem naive in the ways of
        combat or other worldly things but for the ship they are skilled.
        They range in age from 18-24 and spend most of their time in
        their daily chores and duties.  The carpenter is always busy
        repairing small holes or fixing damaged things.  Many are checking
        ropes, sails and other areas for structural damage.  It takes
        a few weeks for most of the sailors to get used to the party.
        Not so much the magic users as the strange ones like Fremea,
        Arawn, Strie'bog and Raban.  They are just not used to seeing
        such in their world.  But eventually they soften up and get to
        know each.  It becomes clear to the party they are used to seeing
        magic as they do admit to going to the Dark Lands at least once
        or twice a sailing season, usually for special requests from Novasa
        or other dark land masters.  The sailors do admit they tend to
        spend the winter around their home island but otherwise sail
        abroad.  This particular crew for the most part is on their
        third tour under Captain Sung.  Only one or two are new to the
        ship when some others left for other jobs or back to their
        homes.  Most of the sailors spend their time on deck playing
        card, dice, drinking or fighting sparring games.  Some of the
        others in the party do participate but find the games can be
        cutthroat.  Not in terms of pirate kill if you lose but the
        sailors are hardened players.  Only one or two seem to have
        a book or two to read but the most seem less educated.  It
        is clear the Captain and First mate are well educated.  Most
        of the sailors seem to have come from backgrounds in the Lemasan
        Coastal Patrol.  Kiet gets the most recent news and rumors on
        Lemasa from the sailors and talks of home.  The part does
        have concerned if the sailors can be trusted.  But it seems
        their trust is paid for by coins.  Their loyalty is to the
        captain and not the party.  There are plenty of times, a dozen
        or more, when the ship docks in ports where the sailors could
        have sold the party out.  But when no mobs chase the party down
        or ships chase the blue moon then it seems they don't care
        to betray the party.  While it's clear the are indifferent in
        the mission the party is wise enough to know coins can also
        buy betrayal. Only common sense would show that.

            First mate Wa-son is not much talkative during the cruise
        especially on his past.  The only details it seems some can
        get out is his family owns one of the infamous Lemasan Lighthouses
        which use natural fire and magical fire to protect many ships from
        dangers.  Other than that it is unclear of his past other than
        serving in the coastal patrol.  He spends most of the time with
        his navigation charts and checking his bearings 4-5 times a day
        and a few times a night.

            Captain Sung, like the other sailors spends the first few
        weeks wary of the party.  Aside from his initial rules he doesn't
        have to come up with new ones.  Not until the first landing in a
        Choshai port where he goes over customs and rules.  He informs to
        keep a low profile.  The ports are so small they are tight knit and
        may only have 200-300 people at most.  Some villages even had less
        with only a deep sea anchorage and maybe a dozen or so families.
        Over the next few months the ship docks in many ports for supplies
        and to give help to the cramped horses.  The far majority of the
        ports are fishing.  Only one or two seems to be more than fishing
        and a normal town.  The ship docks about every 4 to 5 days or
        as long as every 8-9 days.  By the time the Katai border is reached
        at least 8 villages are visited.

            Captain Sung does have to invoke new rules especially after
        the first day when the crazy acrobat mounts the rigging with no
        real skills in climbing it seems.  No one without sailing
        experience is allowed on the rigging at all aside from Fremea
        who can fly.  When Kell's demon-pet as the crew seem to name it
        escapes and causes trouble he invokes another rule that anything
        the beast breaks Kell will pay for and fix himself.  That includes
        food and drink.  The creature is not to be let loose outside
        Kell's cabin without being leashed or in the arms of Kell.  He
        does not forbid but recommends not taking it ashore as most not
        know what the beast is and fear it.  Fear leads to suspicion
        and that leads to hate.

            After some mistake his name for Tung rather than Sung he
        doesn't care what version he goes by.  By the mid-month when
        spells start to fly from folks as they get used to the ship
        and the crew, the captain invokes a new rule. This one that
        no magic taint the ship with any permanent magic at all.  Not
        even if it can be removed.  The crew would mutiny and he
        would be forced to kick anyone off the ship if that happened.
        Their superstition is too high to control even though they
        are used to magic.

            One night toward the end of the mid-month Fremea is up on
        deck watching flickering lights in the forest.  Sung explains
        they are fire flies.  Small creatures but in swarms can be
        as bright as candles at this distance.  He explains even that
        the sea can light up with glowing creatures like eels or even
        floating grass that glows on the surface that looks like sludge.
        When Arawn happens to walk by and say "Good night" to Fremea
        in Faerry Sidh, Fremea hears Sung also say good night to her.
        But in this case it was in Faerry Sidh.   Either he didn't realize
        what he said or let it slip she doesn't know.  She glances over
        and notices Arawn didn't hear it but as the captain walked off
        she surely heard it from him.  She wonders how this captain
        could know her tongue?  She thought Faerry were rare out this
        far east.  More mystery and secrets men keep.  Maybe that
        also explains how he can be tolerant of magic?

            During the mid-month he demonstrates his fighting prowess
        by sparing with Unali in the dagger.  He finds it exhilarating
        to fight with the woman who is about a decade younger than him.
        She is quite good but he teaches her some Lemasan tricks of
        his own.  He also spars with other sailors teaching them sword

            The Blue Moon is a small ship and after almost two months
        of travel little is not known once a secret is whispered in
        some corner.  One night Sung overhears Kiet and Raban talking
        about smuggling and keeps quiet.  Later that night he meets
        with Zhou and spends a couple hours in his cabin quietly

            The former count Zhou of the Dark Lands was in a high seat of
        power.  Being the public liaison for the High Elder.  Some saw
        his chain of command as the High Elder, Oby and then Zhou in
        public policy matters.  In ruling it was Ki'ama, Sorceress and
        then Sven.  Then that fateful meeting when he was suckered into
        joining the party by honor and his long running mouth of
        boasting that backfired.  Zhou clearly didn't like the idea
        for the first week or so.  He was quiet, aloof and grumpy at
        times.  When it clearly came to him he had no choice but was
        on a greater mission he came around.  When he realized he
        would be the key to this mission his ego came to the top.
        The party could certainly not survive without him in this
        mission! So he got into his role and begin to think on the
        mission parameters and details.  The party had seemed to
        appoint Unali as the de-facto leader only because she was
        born in Katai and knew the nation.  Of course others had
        been in Katai but they figured she was the best and no one
        else wanted the job.  But as a subtle leader Zhou would be
        the public ruler of this motley group.  He would be the
        direct link to Katai's authorities.  So he would spend weeks
        in his cabin talking to others.  He would interview everyone
        even the sailors trying to learn all he could about them.

            Time not planning he would spend 10 days mid-month with
         his cape on deck.  Looking like some high noble he would
         have a sailor try to attack him.  While doing so he would
         use his own dagger to parry but also use his cape as a device
         for that parry.  It was clear he knew how to use the cape
         as a defense item not just for fashion.  The rest of the time
         he would spend with the busy teacher Unali learning fighting
         and throwing dagger techniques. 

            Toward the end of the mid-month on Junaga 22nd he gets the
         party around on top deck.  The sailors are mostly below on
         duties though one or two remain top side.  He tries to sit
         everyone around close to the foreward part of the ship so he
         can plan and give his speech.  When all are gathered he stands
         and begins.

            "My friends we have been through many recent storms and
         encounters.  The navigator tells me we have gone over 2,000
         miles so far and only about 400 or 500 miles to go.  Maybe
         just another two weeks.  I would like to give a new briefing
         on the Katai nation.  I know High Elder Ki'ama gave some
         of this but it has been two months now and some details may
         have been forgotten."

             "Katai or the Golden Empire has been around for over 3,000
         years and some believe it to be the birthplace of man. Some
         scholars believe printing was invented there.  Some 8 or 9
         centuries ago magic started to be banned from the nation
         due to the black heresy campaign by the rulers.  "

             "The population is believed to be over 7 million the largest
         any nation has in the middle world.  At least 1 million of
         those in the 20 cities set in 20 provinces.  Katai city alone
         is the largest city in the middle world.  Some say there is
         a place on the southern continent that has more but it is just
         a rumor.  As most know only the emperor is worshiped there and
         nothing else is tolerated."

             "Most high influenced people believe the wise stayed in
         the nation while others left to create barbarian lands like
         the Zen'da or Kll'maun.  The black heresy created religion
         interolence and their basic personality."

             "The Master General is the de factor leader of the country
         and the highest who can deal with the public.  He deals
         directly with the secluded rulers in Katai only."

             "Because the population is so huge in fact the military does
         more control than the nobility.  In fact our scholars in the
         Dark Lands believe only 10% of the people are directly
         influenced by the Nobles.  If this is true or not we don't know.
         But this will be the key to our infiltration.  Due to this
         think link to society it will be easier to move around."

             "The thing to know is the average peerson believes honor and
         loyalty to be top.  Personal honor is common even among the
         peasants and criminal elements.  Second is loyalty to family
         and their lord.  Loyalty is believed to go from the God Emperor,
         family, lord and last to the castle/friends.  So when dealing
         with guards we must understand they will honor family above their
         lords.  This does mean some might be bribe worthy if they feel
         their lord isn't going to find out.  But at the same side is
         if you threaten family no bribe might not work."

             "Outsiders like most of you will be considered barbarians.
         But since we have Katai natives that will be helpful.  This
         doesn't mean at any major port or river city there will be
         hundreds or thousands of non-Katai folks there.  In fact it
         is common to see foreigners.  Katai would not survive without
         some form of trade.  Ceruleans, Choshaian, Lemasans among the
         other nearby nations.  Though the L'p'nth folks might not be
         so welcome though rumor has it they are still seen over the border
         in western cities trading.  So hopefully where we are going even
         some of us will not be seen as strange.  Though," he glances at
         Raban, "one of might draw attention.  But that can't be helped."

             "Administrators do the actual city to city ruling and report to
         the Master General.  They owe direct fealty to him and not the
         local lord first.  The noble class is more a position of power
         and influence for general society rather than day to day
         ruling.  I suspect the noble class in Marentia has more local
         power than they do in Katai.  This may be to balance possible
         nobles getting more power and becoming a great threat to any
         one area and thus the central powers that be.  This also leads
         me to think the free movement of our group will be better than
         I originally feared."

             "Before I continue on to the meat of our mission are there
         any Katai related questions?" Zhou asks looking at each person.

             Farseeker nods, "Yes.  What kind of weapons again do they
         common use?"

             "The average person is only 5 foot 4 or so.  So right there most
         of our group is taller than the average man.  Raban in a crowd
         will clearly tower over all by a good 2 or 3 feet.  Most are
         light frames weighing about 130-135 pounds.  Most in the military
         and civilians prefer swords, lances and other polearms.  Of
         course many still prefer what they can use and find including
         knives, daggers, clubs and the like.  Few missile weapons are
         used as sheer numbers tend to wind out in their battles.  The
         calvary is fast and well trained.  Most people wear no armor.
         But those who can afford it weather quilted, leather, scale or
         chain.  You will likely not see anything above chainmail used.
         Most simply can't afford a weapon or armor much less a horse.
         You will find the vast majority of people walk and live around
         the city a short distance.  I suspect 1 out of 10,000 might
         be able to afford what we have in our personal gear.  So
         while you walk among them keep this in mind that will make
         you a clear outsider to them.  Most of us who have horses will
         clearly be the exception than the rule.  To fit in for those
         who have disguise skills black hair is the normal way of life.
         I've never heard of any other color hair style outside those
         who don't live in Katai.  Their eyes are like mine, Unali and
         Chion's.  We have a slight pale golden hue about us that comes
         out in certain light.  Anyone without the Katai slanted eyes is
         known to be a outsider.  That clearly gives Chion, Unali and
         myself the best Katai natives. Everyone else will be outsiders
         in some way.  Even Fremea will be hard to disguise this
         fact.  I will try to work on methods with her to make her
         skin more golden with makeup and maybe hide her eyes as best
         we can.  We still have time to finish that up."

             "Before we left I spent time with our archivist at the Citadel.
         We had many documents from Katai but most are outdated by months
         or years.  We know the Chaos Masters send apprentices to Katai
         for tests of loyalty or skill.  Most never return either killed,
         captured or stayed in Katai.  High Elder Ki'ama knew this was
         happening and deals little with it as he believes each domain
         should rule themselves.  We know it does bring attention to
         our lands but until Katai sends a fleet to attack the Lands
         he will not react to it.  This has led the Sorceress to grow
         her large network of spies across half the continent.  We spent
         many hours deciding what house to place me in.  Some were
         loyal to the powers that be while others were disloyal but
         appeared loyal.  While some in middle Katai were pure criminal
         houses dealing in black markets and the like.  We felt those
         in middle and south Katai would draw too much attention so
         we decided on upper Katai houses.  We rounded it down to three
         houses and the best one was that of House Dzhamou.  They are
         known to be a very loyal house but not fully.  After the great
         succession wars of the past they are trying to rebuild their
         family wealth and power.  It is a very militaristic house and
         lies north east of Katai city just below the Choshai border."

             "The house...my  house...our house...has good relations
         with Choshai.  The ruler of Choshai is Prince Mogara Choshama.
         He is also a Count of Dzhamou, a renowned warrior and a noted
         master of poetic verse."  This brings attention of those who
         have been bored up to this attention.  With such close ties to
         Choshai it was clearly dangerous to leave connections with the
         past Choshai inspectors. Zhou continues, "I know what you are
         thinking.  I showed my crest ring." Zhou raises a gold round
         simple ring with some small patterns in it but too far to see
         in detail for most of the people.  "Only those in power in the
         house have such rings.  I have forged my position as Baron as Count
         or Duke would be too public.  As long as we don't meet the Prince
         we should be safe.  We will skip the city itself to avoid meeting
         any in our house.  In order to pull this off we had to choose
         one house.  I felt this was the best one.  The ring will open
         doors for us while not bringing in too much attention.  Sure,
         these rings could be made on the black market.  But most
         guards or even low nobles won't know the difference.  This is
         why we have some house papers as well."  

             "Our house has been shattered since the Khatou war some 600 odd
         years ago.  Ever since we have learned to regrow and build. This
         still has some feeling betrayed by our house.  So even the low
         nobles in other provinces will resent us but tolerate us enough.
         This will help our cover in that you may not trust the house
         as they were beaten like dogs but what can their petty nobles
         do to them?"

             "One flaw in this cover story is the city is rather small
         compared to the others.  It only has 15,000 people in the
         Dzhamou city itself.  Means a tighter noble group than might
         be in other cities.  But we will not set foot in the city at
         all.  Most of the other population is in the countryside
         and peninisula the city is on.  So we can always claim to be
         from the city margins."

             "Some of our intelligence seems to indicate House Dzhamou
         has never accepted the Master General system of rule.  There
         is still some dark rumors they swear no fealty to the Master
         General or the Emperor though they are smart enough to listen
         to them and not challenge them openly.  This in itself will
         have some benefit to us.  It might get us into places like
         the underworld most nobles might not need to go to.  The head
         of the our house is a man who seeks money as well as power. In
         some ways he is just like any hired mercenary.  So if push
         comes to shove we can always use money if our own house gets
         us in trouble.  Our intelligence also seems to indicate his
         close ties with Choshai is some indication of his quest to
         rebuild his house and power.  Maybe some day he will create
         a new war with the other powerful houses."

             "Before I go into details of our cover story are there any
         questions so far?"

             Kiet nods to ask a question.  He knows the nation and
         the coastal cities already but isn't so used to the interior
         of the nation.  Kiet asks how he should address Zhou and the
         ladies and are there things he should avoid.  He also asks
         of his role in this mission.  

             Zhou smiles faintly, "your divine worshipfulness should be
         good enough?  no.  Seriously.  Since I am only going to be
         a Baron I would suspect a basic Baron, sir or in some cases
         excellency is fine.  Though I would just prefer Sir.  The
         excellency title is mostly reserved for Counts and higher.
         Some non civilians like military would use their rank like
         General or Commander or town administrators would be called
         Wardens.  Most females are simply Lady or Madame but most
         do not get that formal.  No one of non noble blood should
         have any title even sir or ma'am.  In fact a noble giving
         such respect to a lowly noble might cause one to be suspicious.
         There is a clear caste system in Katai.  Emperor is god then
         the Master General.  Below that is everyone else.  The
         upper class are the nobles.  They will need to be shown respect
         and deference.  If you challenge one their honor will dictate
         their actions.  Just like most nations that use the noble
         system.  The bulk of the middle class are professional workers
         like merchants, professional skilled labor and other government
         type positions.  Even the middle class though may not be much
         richer than the lower class.  Only the few who prosper will have
         full backing of their lord or be so affluent they don't need
         that backing.  These two classes might only be a tenth of the
         population.  I really don't know the numbers but by far the
         majority of the people are the lower class.  These are the day
         to day workers.  The peasants and slaves.  They may not even
         know who is current master general or even know if their lord
         is living or not.  Most simply live day to day dong work for
         their family and lord.  Most are uneducated as the nobles keep
         them docile for if they ever rebel they will overthrow even
         the divine god in Katai.  Millions of people will have such
         influence and have had in the past.  This is why education
         is not given freely to the lower class.  This is also why some
         of you will have to treat the peasants roughly.  For example
         my daughter or house champion.  They are simply here to serve
         us and do our will.  Of course the chain of loyalty still

             "As to things to avoid I would not eat the strange looking
         meat served in some places.  You just don't know where it came
         from or what unlucky family pet ended up on your plate." He
         pauses briefly and glances up at Corona in the rigging. "But
         seriously, I will go over taboos and such later as we near
         Katai.  General rule of thumb is respect.  If your a slave
         then your low and should never look a higher person directly
         in the eye unless they address you first.  Most peasants could
         see a noble slap his four daughters around and rape another one
         and 40-50 peasant farmers would walk right on by simply out
         of fear for being killed themselves.  It is a cruel system for
         some to get used to.  Slaves have no rights.  Women have little
         rights though many are the true power brokers in Houses.  Just
         the women are always to be behind a man walking on the street
         or in social matters.  The military might have a female once
         or twice in a unit but it is rare and only when they are
         strong fighters or with high influential houses.  So it goes
         slaves, peasants, women, caste apprentices, professional people,
         government officials and the nobility.   Just keep in mind the
         respect and honor should be balanced when dealing with any in
         Katai.  Other than that customs and rules should be straight
         forward.   I will go over those things later on." 

             Fremea asks what her role as child should be and how best to
         spy once in Katai.

             "Being a child has its own advantages.  Most adults simply
         ignore them.  A noble kid is even more ignored.  So you will
         be able to watch and observe more than usual.  An adult looking
         down to find that black market stall would be more noticed than
         a kid who is simply curious.  Your action at the inspection
         the other day was great.  Though playing a brat could be hard
         if you deal with military.  They believe in discipline and thus
         brats should be treated harshly.  So for them like guards and
         such maybe more snobbish.  Tower your nobility over them rather
         than the spoiler child.  For non military folks the spoiled
         brat is fine.  As to spying I would say anything you find
         not normal for that area should be noted.  If you're at a market
         and notice some guy leaning against a wall watching folks pass
         by likely he is finding the best target to pick pocket.  If
         at a city gate you notice that beggar seems to be watching the
         crowd more than begging for coins maybe he is a plant to watch
         out for magic users.  That sort of thing."

             "I am happy to see most everyone here left the bulk of their
         magic items behind.  At least most of you." He glances briefly
         at Z'leyra then continues. "We know there are 40-50 secret
         societies just in the cities alone.  These are known through
         street rumors or official circles.  Of those we suspect 4-5
         are unofficially endorsed by the government.  They work with
         the government covertly.  Others have their own agenda.  The
         country side could have dozens or even hundreds more groups.
         We just don't know.  Rumors say the smallest group might just
         be a simple family who do nothing but report incidents to
         officials.  From there are organized groups that have active
         bounty hunters going after spell casters.  Then the more
         powerful groups even have traitor wizards who use their magic
         to find other magic users.  Thus the devices and spells to
         detect them.  Like Shu's magic-hole or mana-hole or whatever
         spell it is there is rumored to be spells to detect groups
         of mana power.  This is why high spells like teleport of
         a entire ship would likely be seen by such groups.  Yes there
         are rumors of a spell to teleport a ship if you believe that.
         On a more local level even magical strength can be detected.
         This is why even hiding magic in wagons, dog collars or
         as some do birds to carry their gear is risky.  There is
         one case where a dove would carry a magical healing ring from
         one estate to another.  It was done so often a group found
         out and could track the dove.  The dove once killed they raided
         and killed the family.  Some magic users have been brave enough
         even to sew magic materials into the body of animals like
         a cow or donkey.  then use it to carry the gear inside their
         body.  How these magic items were found is beyond me.  Likely
         it was a traitor who told them.  But more likely it was just
         propaganda by such groups to scare the people.  Who really
         knows the truth in such stories.  Clearly our chances will
         improve outside the cities itself."  

             "With all that said let's get to the party roles."

             "Arawn since you have not decided on some of these details
         I have thought it out for you.  You clearly do not look like
         a Katai Native.  But I believe more western stock like
         Cerulean or even Marentian would be of use.  So the name of Arawn
         is fine for me.  It can remain foreign.  As to your position
         I believe as a teacher to my daughter will be fine.  Teacher
         of Jewelry, Martial arts and some basic combat techniques.  I
         hired you from a western Katai noble on the cerulean border.
         Keep those ears covered by your hat.  But I would simply
         suggest growing a longer hair style.  Many in Katai have long
         hair down to shoulders or pony tails.  It is common.  In fact
         some in the casts use the pony tail as a sign of their level
         of apprenticeship.  Once one passes the tests then the pony
         tail is cut off to show they have graduated.  Many in the
         military also use long hair.  So hair long enough to cover
         those ears is recommended.  We still have a month.  You will
         be a outsider to the house but eventually if you do a good
         job we will make you a honorary member.  You have a one year
         contract with me and at least four months served at this point.
         While the common person will have no idea what the Elven gear
         you may have I would not flash them around.  Just to be safe.
         I don't know if some scholar out there might recognize it.
         Its very rare chance this being the case but always good to be

             "Ben'dar I believe we should change your name.  Since you
         will have a large ranch your reputation could spread even to
         Katai nobles in years to come.  So best not to chance it and
         risk your future life. You will be Bu Da from now on.  Your
         skill with horses will be useful.  You will be hired on as
         a house representative to that.  Training in horse combat,
         horse purchases and basic husbandry will be your job.  You
         will be hired from Lemasa with a 6 month contract more if
         needed or your good."

             Zhou glances at Caladan. "Ca Lu as you said guard and
         archery expert will be fine.  You will not pass much as a native.
         But the nice thing about Katai is not all have the eyes and
         skin and are natives.  Many foreigners breed with natives and
         so you will be of that type.  From Katai but hired on as a
         archery expect for my daughter.  Also as personal guard to her."

             "Chion you are from now on Chu Mai a house member who
         is in charge of our house fleet of ships.  Our house has
         a few we own or rent.  Because I have to go abroad I will
         need you to ensure the ship I sail on and its crew will be
         of our house standards.  Also you will be tasked to explore
         future ship deals for our family.  You will have a full house
         membership but only be a Captain in our military but hold no
         noble title itself.  You pass easily as a native."
             "Farseeker or Fu Sa will be our main group's chief guard.
         He is a mercenary from the west.  On contract with me personally
         on a month by month basis.  Other than your name you should
         not have to change much.  Just realize that the Katai military
         will out rank you at all times.  You will eventually be sent
         to challenge our house champion to earn the title of champion
         and tara as an honorific before your name.  Outsiders rarely
         earn the House Champion status but if good enough fighters
         they earn that right."

             "Fremea you already are well versed in your role.  I will
         name you Lin Mong.  It means talented one in Katai.  Aside from
         what I said earlier you will have to be the hardest to pass
         as native.  Your hair will cover your ears.  But the wings will
         be the most critical part to hide.  Simply walking in a crowd
         could be dangerous.  I know it will be hard to keep the wings
         from breathing but it is critical.  If asked you will be of
         ten years old.  You will need to apply enough makeup to cover
         up some age but otherwise you can pass by sheer action and
         words as a child of ten.  Though you are of our house and
         noble blood you should always defer to adult nobles.  Children
         know their place even in the upper class.  They are usually
         quiet and behaved.  Those who are not are sent to tutors or
         monk schools."
             "Kell or Swan is a fine name.  But being a foreigner you
         not need to change name if you wish not to.  I would say
         leave Ba'ru out of the conversation.  It is simply too far to
         be realistic.  I would do something more close like Cerulea
         or Lemasa or Teos or such.  Folks will believe more in a trader
         with a noble if its closer to home.  Your role will be in
         business dealings for our house to acquire new investment
         options for our house.  The petty trades like a weapon here
         or there isn't done.  We will need to think bigger.  Think
         of ore mines, gem mines, merchant fleet investments or the
         like.  Fake it if you have to.  If asked do not explain the
         deals just defer the people to me.  Make it sound hush hush."

             "Kiet my poor abused servant.  You have done well.  You
         will not be a slave.  But a hired servant who was down on
         his luck while abandoned in Katai by a Lemasan ship.  You
         are trying to buy your way back to Lemasa or some such thing.
         You have a week by week contract with me.  Either do a good
         job or be discarded like trash.  While your servant skills may
         not be so up to my standards you will keep me happy by your
         acrobat and entertainment skills.  So this cover story for you
         is solid enough.  Some call them court jesters in the west I

             Zhou sighs as he looks at Raban. "You my friend are the
         hardest of all.  Not many 8 foot giants out there so a giant
         named Raban would be easy to track down given enough time.
         So you will be Toban Nu.  This name change is for your future
         safety as well.  Your idea during the inspection to act a bit
         dumb was fine.  But I suspect your role here will be as slave
         acquired during a house battle somewhere.  Since Choshai is
         raided by barbarians all the time this is common to have them
         send slaves to use to buy.  So this would hold up.  Sad to say
         your skills as bard might be hard to explain.  If we need to
         use your bard skills in music you should dummy the skill down
         a bit to barbarian chant-drum levels.  You know how those silly
         folks dance around fires naked and chant.    Keeping dumb is
         also fine if asked too many questions.  We will mainly use you
         as a bearer for the party.  We will own you so myself or the
         house members will have rights to do whatever they want to you.
         That includes killing you if you act up.  I suspect though
         a slave as large as yourself would not be good to be so docile.
         So acting up for a guard or two can be done if needed just
         don't over do it."  
             "Strie'bog your are Sun Zhu a entertainer I hired after seeing
         you perform in a tavern.  Playing for brass bits is fine but when
         you can work for silver its better.  You are eventually to play
         for our duke if we ever get home.  Maybe even to some wedding or
         big house event.  So act normal in your role as entertainer. The
         problem is your skin.  While you can be considered a Katai native
         by living in Katai you don't still look like a native.  I
         would suggest you spend the rest of the trip tanning your skin
         to get some of that paleness down.  If that doesn't work then
         work with Fremea and others for makeup.  It should not be a major
         factor for a cover but some might question it."

             "Shu will be a good enough name for you to use." He glances
         at Shu then continues. "You will be a niece.  I had originally
         planned another daughter as I said at the inspection but
         I feel the age is a factor.  While I'm over twice your age
         I suspect being my brother's kid is fine by me.  My dear
         brother Yen sent you to marry another noble but when he
         came sick and died you left on a trip to get rid of your
         troubles for awhile.  Maybe find another future mate."
            "Unali I had originally placed you at the inspection as
         something different.  For that I'm sorry.  I was frustrated
         at the time.  But from now on role as my wife will be fine.
         If you wish to be a prearranged marriage where you still do
         not like me or you are deeply in love with me is up to you.
         You sadly do not look like a normal noble female.  Your plan
         to wear dresses will be needed once in Katai.  But on ship you
         can remain as you are now.  Even rich silks rather than dresses
         are fine if you have some of them.   As we saw that dagger
         scabbard might be a problem.  Hide it under your clothes if
         it is easy for you to do so.  Few guards will do a body search
         of you without good reason."

             "Sun Tzu is a fine name for you Will.  As my private guide
         and hunt master you have been of value to me in Choshai.  But
         once in Katai I will claim you are my guide in the markets to
         find the best animal products to buy for our family.  Your
         clothing is fine but Captain Uli did have a point.  Your cape
         seems out of place for a man of your station."
             "Z'leyra you said your name was Kakita Junami is fine.  You
         will be my personal healer.  Going abroad is dangerous with
         all the diseases the filthy peasants carry.  This should be
         your top job the role of dancer and such secondary.  It didn't
         seem good to dance on deck the other day while the man was
         looking you up and down.  Looks like your on drugs.  That
         would draw attention.  Sadly you came with all your gear which
         if we believe the rumors is like a beacon to hunters.  Even
         after you send them away into another realm.  But you decided
         to put the party at risk even after the High Elder warned all.
         So be it, no going back now.  Just don't walk around with
         that staff as it is clear magic to anyone who will look hard
         enough.  If you don't hide the other stuff then that's the risk
         you take.  Even your natural magical items could be considered
         contraband in some areas.  Most healers use official herbs and
         healing techniques.  So the satchel could be enough of a
         death sentence for some.  I don't know what all would be good
         or bad to have.  I'm no herbalist and don't have intelligence
         on it."

             "I myself will be Zhou Wa a slight change in my name.  I am
         the 15th in line behind the duke as house leader.  Son to
         Count and Countess of the lower district of the city margins.
         I have my own personal coat of arms which is in the form of
         a House Ring. " He raises a ring on his finger to show to
         all. "This is what I showed Captain Uli and he linked that
         with a friendship for the house and his nation.  In some circles
         it acts as a pass while in others it could also be a sign of
         disrespect if the rival house hates our house.  This ring
         was made years ago by another wizard who infiltrated Katai
         for a past mission some 30 years ago.  It worked then and
         seems to work so far now.  Normally I would need some house
         papers to show my background and status.  I have some of that
         in my things.  But under close look from an expert it will
         be found to be fake if they are good enough reading it."

             "I left our city on a trip to northern Choshai to arrange
         for a trade deal on a recent diamond mine found near the
         Kll'maun border.  The Choshai folks were hesitant to mine there
         due to the barbarian hordes.  So they sent word to our house for
         military support...hired thugs basically to defend the mine.
         So we were sent there.  Once in Katai though the cover will
         change to trade deals of various kind for our house."

             "Corona I had hoped would not be sent in this dangerous
         mission but he is not mine.  We had warned that animals are
         not common as pets in Katai.  Horses are one thing as well
         as mules or donkeys for farms.  But dogs, cats, rats or even
         birds are rare.  Too many folks find them a delicacy for
         food or animal parts.  The beak and claws of Corona alone would
         earn a nice amount on the market.  To think that he would
         be safe in the air is wrong.  If the dove story is true as
         a story then that shows that.  Many hunters do nothing but
         hunt animals down as a living to sell as food on the market.
         Including the skies or waters.  I don't know if magic bounty
         hunters can detect birds with magic or not.  But to risk it
         is to risk his life.  I just hope he lives through this mission."

             "As to Kell's demon pet as some call it.  We have seen it
         be a pain on this trip already.  It also would be a good
         food source if not a item of its own eyes.  Some might feel
         the red eyes magical and thus you Kell as a magic user.  You
         have any way to change his eyes to normal?  Some in the black
         market might think the eyes strong magic for some ritual of
         sex or long life."

             "That is about it that I wanted to say for now.  Any more
         questions?"  He waits for any. "If not I will remind you of
         Vong tactics and gear at a later time.  In a few days maybe.
         I believe our brave captain has something else to say?"

             Captain Sung steps forward and turns around.  "I have been
         going to the Dark Lands for over a decade.  With my crew and
         other crews.  I am used to magic and magic users.  I sympathize
         with the plight of the evils the Katai do to them simply for
         use of magic and their ignorance.  Now that I trust you more
         I have a section on this ship hidden even now from your eyes.
         It is a smuggler's hold specially made for me.  It is on the
         second deck near the hold and behind the small brig we have.
         Entering the brig there is a secret panel that opens to a small
         area built into the ship between the outer hull and the stairs
         that can contain a good amount of equipment.  I have not been
         informed on your mission though can figure it to be vital.  I
         do not wish to know it either in case things go bad.  But
         I am open to hiding any gear in this smuggler's hold for you
         while you are off ship.  Even some of the sailors on board
         do not know it.  Many would not simply look along the walls
         of a brig cell that might be at times smelly and filthy and
         the walls of stairs for a secret hold.  I will only show
         one or two of you the exact method to it but if you wish to
         hide gear simply ask later on.  Someone smart had figured out
         the secret compartment so figured I better disclose it now. 
         That is all I wanted to say."

        Actions? Comments?

        Next Update...

        GM: Roles and names have been assigned.  If you do not wish to
            use those names or suggested roles let me know.  I have
            made the roster with the info for future updates.  This
            will be reference for me and you as I will forget.  So it
            will remain at the top in the roster in the cover story

        GM: This is a very long post but it mainly was used to detail
            what folks did during their IBT times that is known
            publicly.  Some things may not be mentioned and you can
            fill in other gaps or details if you wish.  Some earned
            only a few experience points while others earned about
            3000+ experience.  Congratulations for those who improved
            MELs or CELs or skill ELs.  There will be future IBTs
            but this is the main one for now.  Maybe more after the
            adventure is done.  Stay tuned. This took couple weeks
            to type up so hopefully I covered all that was needed.

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