[pnpgm] Game Update #70 - File #578 - Shu casts Vong Ritual

Scott Adams longshot at cybermax.net
Tue Feb 9 08:46:23 CET 2010

  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
  R1 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, 

  Cover Story Info: [HD- House member, F-Foreigner, 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 Entertainer/Guard   [F] 
     Strie'bog  aka Sun Zhu       as Entertainer         [N]
     Shu        aka Shu           as Niece               [HD]
     Unali      aka Tun Au        as Zhou's wife         [HD]
     Whitney    aka Whitney       as Herbalist/Tailor    [F]
     Will       aka Sun Tzu       as hunt master         [F]
     Z'leyra    aka Kakita Junami as Healer              [F]
     Zhou       aka Zhou Wa       as Baron 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 cybermax.net
     Game Update #70 in sequence (file #578)      
     Admin Notes: None. 

        From Arawn: [Re: Actions]
          After returning to the inn Arawn returned to his room and
          proceeds to take a nap until dinner. Once all have returned he
          will wait until such time as the group has privacy before
          discussing the finds of the day.

          "We discovered a fair share of information today but we will...

          Arawn then waited to hear what the others had to say.
        GM: Ack.

        From Kiet: [Re: Actions]
          Kiet listens to the other party members then throws out this
          little tidbit, "I think we were being followed when we went...
        GM: Ack.

        From Whitney: [Re: Actions]
          Whitney ponders, "We should probably avoid using certain...
        GM: Ack.

        From Kiet: [Re: Actions]
          "Um, Whitney...detection can be used to detect for any...
        GM: Ack.

        From Whitney: [Re: Actions]                             
          Whitney shakes his head, "Yes, any SINGLE class of thing....
        GM: Ack.

        From Kell: [Re: Actions]
          [deleted for space]
          -------------------[Re: Arawn's findings]
          Kell ponders Arawn's words for several minutes, then decides to
          add his own information and ideas.  "While shopping we asked...
          Kiet ...  [deleted for space]
          "Ha!"  Kells snorts a bit at this idea.  "I would so love to...
          -----------[Re: Whitney's words on Vong]
          Ha'Kell is watching this conversation with a very amused look on
          his face, still not sure what to make of the librarian after all
          this time. "I thought you were a librarian?  Are you a...

          At the end of the evening meal's talk, Ha'Kell tries to talk
          with Unali about her home city, both as a friend and to learn
          more.  The half-elf wants to help her however he can, and makes
          it very clear to Unali.  Family and friends are important, very
          important to him.  He counts her in that.
          After the meal, later that night around 11pm, Ha'Kell perpares to
          go explore the warehouse. He dresses in his darkest clothes over
          his armor, and brings his trusty tulwar, with two daggers on his
          belt and a third in his right boot.  Too much sneaking around for
          a spear or a shield though.  He has his hair up with a black
          bandana that covers his ears and his longer than usual hair in a
          ponytail to keep it out of his face.
        GM: Ack.

        From Whitney: [Re: Actions]
          Whitney ponders how to explain the meaning of the word 'research'
          for a moment, and then speaks again, "It must be that Katai...
        GM: Ack. 

        From Kell: [Re: Actions]
          Ha'Kell grins mischieviously at the 'Professors' response and
          replies, "No, you act like a professor, always trying to...
        GM: Ack.

        From Whitney: [Re: Actions]
          Whitney clears his throat, "Um... you THINK it's secondary. And
          it may  be. But it may not be.All we really know is that it...
        GM: Ack. 

        From Arawn: [Re: Actions]
          "Could you identify the person you think might have been...

          Scott, after the meeting is done Arawn will take time to look
          over the bedrooms and private baths for signs of spyholes or
          secret tunnels. He'll do so when there are no npc's around to
          avoid drawing attention to himself.

           ----------------------------------[Re: Warehouse search]
          "I would volunteer if no one else wishes to accompany you as...
        GM: Ack.  Search of rooms is easy.  There are no holes.  The
            walls are medium thick not cheap but not thick as well.
            Due to this size and rooms next to each other there can't
            be any secret passages at all at least from the guest
            rooms.  Based on other layouts you doubt there are any

        From Arawn: [Re: Actions]
          As I haven't heard a reply from anyone as to whether anyone
          will accompany Kell or choose to stay on night watch (or a
          follow through on the inn spy and old man with detector for
          that matter) I'll post actions depending on how far things get
          in the post.

          Arawn will remain on nightwatch for the time being but if Shu's
          spell casting is done for the evening and Kell hasn't set out
          on his expedition to the warehouse yet then Arawn will accompany
          him, wearing a dark set of clothes hidden under a robe and remove
          the outer robe and roll it up and in a bag in a private and dark
          place when no is watching. He'll carry a face wrap as well but
          won't put it on until just before entering the warehouse (again
          in private and under cover of darkness). He'll keep an eye out
          for anyone following or watching as they journey back and forth
          from the warehouse as well.

          He'll also suggest to any still awake to please keep an eye out
          for anything unusual until he and Kell return. Upon a safe
          return Arawn will then return to night watch.

          If Kell has someone accompanying him or wishes to do this alone
          Arawn will stay at the inn and serve as nightwatch. If you've
          already played this through with Kell then feel free to ignore
          Arawn accompanying Kell if it would complicate things for you.
          Still, Arawn will give Kell about an hour to explore the
          warehouse and the time travelling carefully there and back. If
          Kell is alone and late more than 30 minutes beyond the search
          and travel time Arawn will alert any party still awake that he's
          going to check on him and then proceed to go on a late-night
          stroll, in dark clothes, near the warehouse to make sure that
          Kell is alright.
          Also, for Arawn's late night watch, if it happens, he'll do so
          without light, to give him cover and lure in potential trouble-
        GM: Ack.  Didn't know you HAD dark clothing.  :)

     [New Stuff]

         [Julis 25th, 1634TH]
         [Location: Middle Katai Plains, Shantou Province, Shantou city]

           As people return from their shopping and other errands the
         city begins to slow down for the evening.    Unali returns
         with Farseeker with some new clothing and places them with her
         own personal belongings.  Kell seems more bubbly than usual
         after his shopping spree.  After Kell takes a new bath and
         relaxes a bit in the tavern, the clerk finds him.  The clerk
         tells Kell that a wagon has arrived.  Kell orders the items
         he got to go to the party's wagon.  He then goes to help
         unload it and examine the items.  Z'leyra is seen carrying
         a new bag of what looks to be healing supplies.  

           Back at the tavern Unali finds Arawn before he heads up to his
         room. She hands Arawn the picture back. "It was nice to look at
         this. It was restful, but did not bring new insights this time."

           After some time taking a quick bath or for some who just
         like to spoil themselves, a massage is taken.  Zhou informs
         the clerk that tonight he'll dine in the private meeting
         room upstairs rather than the tavern.  Some decide to take
         a quick nap before dinner including Arawn.  

           When all return to the Blue Crystal Inn Zhou calls for everyone
         to gather for dinner.  A couple of waitress girls takes orders.
         Some decide to take advantage of the time in a city and order
         Katai delicacies.  Caladan orders a special sea bass and side
         dishes.  Farseeker orders lobster and side dishes.  Both
         realize the food must have been shipped by river in cold storage
         by river to get here.  But the cooks ensure they are fresh items.

           Once orders and drinks are places the party sits and begins
         to look around the room.  Those who sense magic take careful
         examination all around to ensure there is nothing wrong here.
         Even so much as to search under the large oak table.  Even
         the ceiling lanterns are checked to make sure.  When the party
         is satisfied the talk begins to be more serious.

           The meeting room is on the second floor with large windows
         to the west over looking the stable and wagon house.  At this
         time the setting sun shines deep orange and reds into the room
         making long shadows.

           The discussion quickly comes down to the day's events.

           Zhou looks at everyone to ensure they are all good.  "No one
         attacked?" He glances briefly at Kell. "No one stopped or
         searched?  Good.  Our meeting with the fence went rather well.
         He was limited on what hew knew from his stand point.  But
         you got what you might expect from his kind of person.  Could
         we trust his information?  Probably not.  Coins seem to be his
         best friend more than loyalty.  Only assurance is that Tiehul
         seems to know him.  Arawn did most of the questions so I'll
         let him say what we found."

           Arawn puts down his mug and begins, "We discovered a fair share
         of information today but we will need to investigate the leads a
         bit further. It seems that the logo is one that has been used by
         the Yank Brothers, a merchant group. Our contact mentioned that
         the name is not local to Katai which increases the chance that
         this group might have connections up north. Unfortunately they
         seem to have been bought out yesterday by another group, though
         we have yet to discover who. They had two warehouses in town and
         when we went to investigate it was locked and through the windows
         we could see that the warehouse had been stripped. I think it might
         be good to investigate the warehouse and company a bit further.
         Neighbors or landlords might know the name of the group that
         bought them our and what the Yank Brothers might have held in the
         warehouse. Also, an inspection of the insides of the warehouse
         could provide a lead."

           "Beyond that the contact recently purchased a pair of unusual
         weapons recently. A rotating sawbladed shield and a staff with a
         serpent head. He doesn't know the seller's name or location but
         mentioned the staff decayed shortly after purchase. For those not
         yet familiar with the Vong this is one of the weapons that they've
         used in the past, capable of piercing, whipping and poisoning. Not
         sure where the seller purchased the items but these items
         deteriorate quickly so there is likely to be at least one local

           Farseeker interjects, "I've been thinking on that for awhile.
         The Vong Warriors seem to have those staves.  But they don't
         decay when they used them.  Clearly those at Lake Oca came
         from a far place likely here if we find them here.  It could be
         a sym...symbiotic relationship.  I believe that's what Kaylle
         called it.  Like the bird that rides on those large pigs
         out west.  They help each other out.  They must survive if
         attached to the warrior.  So it would seem once away from
         the warrior they decay."

           Arawn continues, "Along with this is news of the so called '
         Night Demons', supposedly responsible for the recent disappearance
         of a baroness. Word is that she was in town on business but we do
         not yet know specifics. This group is said to be linked to a cult
         from 'a world between'. It could be the Vong world as my time
         melded with the serpent crown gave me glimpses of a dark, almost
         claustrophobic realm and this 'world between' seems oddly fitting.
         When the 'Night Demons' were mentioned the contact became quite
         frightened and hinted that these boogymen are rumored to be
         nationwide. If we can find more on the baroness and her business
         here we might be able track this group down and discover if they
         are linked to the Vong."

           Zhou nods, "While you were taking a nap I did my own rumor
         collection in the tavern.  I just casually asked around about
         this group.  I got much of the same reaction.  The barkeep and
         clerk both clearly became pale and scared.  It seems this group
         has some sway in terror in society.  But the interesting thing
         is one merchant who came in for a drink while on this side of
         town mentioned some other things." He takes a bite of bread.
         "He quietly mentioned that this group can be hired for tasks
         and generally my kind, I assume nobles, generally hire them.
         It takes time though and this group may be a hired mercenary
         group for everything from bodyguards to assassins.  He didn't
         know where to contact them but mention them enough they might
         find you he said.  But he was clearly concerned that too much
         investigation into them could lead to problems for me."

           Arawn ponders this new bit of information then continues. "Aside
         from these bits there was word of a noble in Pamau purchasing
         several shipping companies but being oddly selective. This could
         be nothing but thought I'd mention it if our journey leads us in
         that direction. The contact also has a few contacts down south if
         we travel there."

           After Arawn makes these statements, Unali adds "You will find
         that it is Baron Jin Ka from Pamau who is on a buying spree. He
         also bought out the Yank brothers if my information is correct."

           "The last few items- He mentioned that the southwest gate is the
         best way out of the city with poorly trained guards that can be
         easily bribed if necessary. This could be important if we need a
         quick escape, especially if separated. Also, if any are interested,
         he has mentioned the location of one of the black markets in town.
         It moves around a bit so might not remain in place for long so if
         any wish to purchase something from them they should do so soon.
         We can supply a password if any go."

           Zhou grins, "A good amount of information gained.  Good
         work teacher.  I was impressed."

           Caladan rubs his chin.  "I've been considering the warehouse
         thing.   The Vong clearly can't go walking down the street
         just as some of us here.  It would draw immediate attention.
         So if one needs to go around a nation like this without being
         seen the best way is through companies that move freight.  They
         can hide and be shipped around without any concern."

           Farseeker sighs, "These black markets are dangerous places.
         Even in Sivas they are dangerous.  There only coin is king and
         then they'll doublecross you and take the coins back.  Balrog
         almost died selling a few things he stole back when he was a
         thief.  I would stay away from them unless you have friends with
         you and then it could be dangerous.  They'll sell out their
         mothers if they get the coin and if they find certain people
         with certain skills there then you'll be a target.  Especially
         if you walk in and ask for certain items."

           Kiet listens to the other party members then throws out this
         little tidbit, "I think we were being followed when we went
         shopping.  I'm not 100% sure, but fairly certain that one of the
         people from around the inn was following us." He sighs then
         continues, "I also had a very disturbing encounter with an old
         man I think was carrying a detector.  Now, there's no way they
         can detect magic on me, I left all of mine, um, at 'home'.  My
         concern is that the detectors aren't set up to detect magic being
         used, but to detect magic users!"

           "All I know is I want out of this town as soon as possible."
         What kind of distraction are we going to use?  I was thinking one
         of Kell's large, dirty 'friends' could be convinced to cause a
         ruckus near the other end of town."

           Arawn turns to Kiet, "Could you identify the person you think
         might have been following you and do you think the person saw
         anything of importance?," Turning to the rest of the party he
         added, "Did any of you notice anything similar?" His eyes drifted
         along the walls of the room as listened to the replies. "It might
         be worth our time to check for spyholes and hidden entrances into
         our rooms or the baths."

           "As to the old man, what makes you think he had a detector and
         why he might have sensed anything? Where did it take place, how
         did he act and did you see where he went afterwards or who he might
         have spoken with?"

           As Kiet speaks Zhou drops his fork in shock.  "You were followed?
         You should've told me earlier.  We could've been looking for him."
         He stands and heads to the window to scan the street below. He
         then asks Kiet to describe this man so the party can look for
         him.  "Did he seem to notice you or become interested in you?
         An old man sounds harmless so we could be lucky there.  Many
         old people use canes or sticks."

           Whitney ponders, "We should probably avoid using certain words,
         if we're to avoid trouble, as well as certain skills. But, from my
         researches, I can safely say that those who learned ALL their
         skills through hard work  and study are safe from any passive
         detection of energies. There no  energies to detect unless these
         exotic skills are being used. However, those born with, or later
         acquiring, innate gifts, well, they're no  different than a rare
         natural item or even a made item. Quite easy to detect, I would
         think, with a broadly enough designed item. Active detection of
         energies, however, may well find both the skilled AND the
         talented. But such active usage should be detectable, as well."

           "I would think a single device that was sensitive enough to
         detect such a board category of passive energies as active, device,
         and natural energies, though, would require rather more skill to
         make than would be present in a land that makes such skills so
         illegal. I tend to wonder if the great secret behind the devices
         isn't some sort of hither-to unknown natural material, no matter
         what the official word and rumor about such devices is. Nothing
         else makes sense, not with the numbers that would have to exist
         for even spotty coverage of such a large empire. Pity we can't
         investigate these devices. I would love to get one to study. More
         importantly: to take back home." Whitney looks to Zhou  to see if
         his junior got the hint.

           Zhou turns around from the window and rejoins the group at
         the table.  "We know these groups which are legal and both
         illegal in the empire are skilled in such detection.  They
         have had centuries to get that knowledge.  It is ironic the
         empire hates and hires these groups.  But we've seen few such
         detectors.  I think we've only seen two since in the empire?
         Maybe three.  That leads me to think the stories are just that,
         stories.  Meant to scare folks to order.  OF course they could
         be so skilled they aren't in plain sight."

           Kiet turns to Whitney, "Um, Whitney...detection can be used to
         detect for any specific class of thing...you could detect for gold
         or silver if you wanted to, or water or the color green.  No
         'energy' is required. Perhaps you should have better attended to
         your lessons..."

           Whitney shakes his head, "Yes, any SINGLE class of thing. Not
         several at once. Not an active 'skill', a made item, a skilled
         person, and a talented person all at once, for instance. That was
         my point, it would appear that either too much is being detected
         for by a single device, or there are rather a lot more devices out
         there than would be likely for a country that doesn't allow for
         the... call it craftsmanship, necessary. Something isn't right,
         and while it isn't your immediate objective, nor mine, it bears
         investigation. Too many devices and too versatile. It just
         doesn't make sense. One has to wonder if the proliferation of
         anomalous devices might be related, in fact, to the anomalous
         people you folks are after, but I don't really know much about
         them, yet."

           Ha'Kell is watching this conversation with a very amused look
         on his face, still not sure what to make of the librarian after
         all this time. "I thought you were a librarian?  Are you a teacher
         as well?"

           "I agree with you, we should refrain from using certain words.
         I don't want any of us in jail for a loose tongue." Speaking with
         force, the half-elf's expression becoming stony, much like it was
         with the traitor, "They aren't people, they're invaders. Spawn
         that could destroy all of us, everywhere.  Don't forget that, we
         aren't here to try and tame one as a pet.  They give no mercy or
         quarter, I expect all us to treat them the same way."  With that
         last bit he glances briefly at Arawn.

           Whitney ponders how to explain the meaning of the word 'research'
         for a moment, and then speaks again, "It must be that Katai isn't
         your native language. A teacher explains what is known to those who
         don't yet know it. A researcher studies what is known to find out
         what isn't known, then attempts to make the unknown into the known.
         Both teachers and researchers, well, the good ones, at least, spend
         a fair amount of time in libraries, that being where knowledge is
         kept. Librarians organize such knowledge, often making themselves
         quite familiar with it in the process. I have spent a fair amount
         of time organizing and learning from one of the greatest libraries
         in the world, for it's chosen subject matter. I am a Librarian,
         most certainly. I was enroute to a place where the unknown was
         happening and there was much to be discovered, and on more than
         one subject. I haven't even gotten there, yet, and I have had some
         success. I would say I am a Researcher. Until meeting you people I
         had never had need nor opportunity to teach. I have found that
         the earmark of a great teacher is being able to reach the poorest
         of students. I may or may not be a Teacher."

           "Now, what sort of Student are you? I ask because it isn't a
         Vong I want to study. it's one of the Katai sensing devices, which
         you seem to have misunderstood.  The devices seem to do much too
         much at one time. I would study one to learn how and why...and
         possibly how to block them entirely. Then again, it could just
         be we're jumping at shadows and attributing more to them than
         they can actually do, which is also worth finding out."

           Ha'Kell grins mischievously at the 'Professors' response and
         replies, "No, you act like a professor, always trying to teach.
         Usually you seem to fall into an almost lecture, much more than a
         student's response. Which is why I asked if you are really a
         professor," giving great emphasis to the next word, "professor.
         I think that should be your new nickname, Professor.  What say
         everyone?  Professor Whitney!"  Smiling broadly at the young man.
         Grinning and quietly saying, "But my dog ate it, he eats anything,
         so I need more time..." Speaking a bit louder again and much more
         serious to the task, "And I didn't misunderstand you as you
         mentioned, and I quote, 'anomalous people you folks are after'.
         That doesn't mean some Katai that hate certain, well, things.  I
         agree finding and studying some of the detectors would be very
         beneficial, and I also agree we may be jumping at shadows and
         attributing too much to the devices.  But all of this is secondary
         to these 'anomalous people' that we are after."

           Whitney clears his throat, "Um... you THINK it's secondary. And
         it may  be. But it may not be.  All we really know is that it is
         making achieving your goal more difficult. I'm merely recommending
         making the goal a bit easier to achieve. Knowing exactly what the
         devices can and can't do would let us know what we can and can't
         do safely. It's quite possible we're imposing too many needless
         limits on ourselves. It's even possible that they know certain of
         us talented, rather than simply skilled, and  they're using the
         devices to track those individuals so as to keep an eye on us
         prior to initiating some sort of unpleasantness we can't handle.

           "We just don't know. Nor would I recommend a title of Professor.
         It implies a degree of learning restricted to nobility and gentry,
         and can imply a bit of locally illegal knowledge."

           Zhou agrees, "the Professor is right. It could help us.  But
         I believe Z'leyra could make such detection items quite easily."

           Farseeker nods, "I've been thinking of that.  If these Vong
         are here to invade it will take them a long time.  This empire
         alone has millions but they might have a few hundred?  Even
         with their strange animal devices they will need an edge.
         I suspect that means Katai traitors."  Farseeker clearly ignores
         the topic of research and detection on things he doesn't know

           "Oh, and I'm a researcher, not a student. Specifically because
         I not only paid attention to my lessons, but went the extra step
         and thought about them, as well."

           Shu nods, "since I'm trained on a rather arcane and old ritual
         of such detection I know some things about it.  Both of you are
         right.  But a person with a single ring of detection could simply
         have 10 rings on each finger to detect what he wants.  Even one
         ring could be ringed for multiple detections if enough skill.
         My ritual is so ancient and from my master's belief, lost to
         the known world, that I doubt they can detect it.  This is one
         thing in our favor.  But if they simply detect for magic then
         they would likely detect it.  Those simplistic detections
         can be avoided. Though range is limited."

           Kell ponders Arawn's words for several minutes, then decides to
         add his own information and ideas.  "While shopping we asked about
         the symbol. We found it.  The warehouse was deserted when we
         examined it."  Kell and Arawn compare information on the location
         of the warehouses.  They find they investigated two separate ones.
         This would likely be both of the Yank warehouses.  

           "For the warehouses, I agree with Arawn.  We should investigate.
         I can go tonight, darkness does not hinder my vision hardly at
         all.  Who else wants to go?  Whilst we investigate it tonight,
         tomorrow I can go and inquire as to the companies, both the Yank
         Brothers and the purchasers. As we need large and secure shipping
         for Lord Zhou's business enterprises, I was told the Yank Brothers
         are a good shipping company to use, so any company that bought
         them should also be good."  He flashing his brilliant blue eyes
         at this, showing his very handsome features and looking excited
         for the task.  "Tomorrow I will go to see what I can find out."

           "I will be listening for the Night Demons, but don't expect to
         find out much.  Perhaps someone in the black Market will know
         something?"  Ha'Kell asks for the black market password, as he
         will go there.  "Who else wants to go? I can go alone, but, er,
         at the last city's market there was my incident.  Hey, that could
         be a great distraction for Shu!"  Smiling widely at the thoughts
         and memories, running his hand up and down the arm that was so
         badly wounded.

           Pausing in thought, then turning to Unali.  "You know this city
         well, is there a developed sewer system, enough to move through?
         Can you help me with this?"

           As eyes turn to Unali some notice a smirk quickly fade from
         her face.  It seems she had been enjoying or smiling at something
         in the last few moments.  Maybe the banter between Whitney
         and Kiet or the findings from Arawn?  No one is sure.

           Unali goes over details of the sewer systems.  In the cities
         of the empire they are quite sophisticated.  Mainly drainage
         and waste removal.  But these are very small pipes not made
         for men to walk through.  Those that are large tend to be
         around rich districts or markets where the government can afford
         such luxury items.  There are crews that repair the system and
         prowl the system but it isn't as extensive a tunnel system as
         say Marentia uses.  Being a old ancient empire Katai has built
         their cities on the dead catacombs and so such tombs are mixed
         with the sewer system.  Outside the cities only primitive
         pipes may exist.  She also tells of the rats and bandits that
         use them for their own travels.

           Arawn speaks to Kell about the warehouses, "I would volunteer
         if no one else wishes to accompany you as I do not think it wise
         to investigate the warehouse alone. However, ideally, I think it
         better if I stay behind. I'm concerned over attention that may
         have been drawn our way and would like to keep an eye out should
         anything unusual happen in the night... unless others are willing
         to do so instead," he replied, looking to the others to see who,
         if any, would either accompany Kell or else act as nightwatch for
         the group. "As to the black-market, if all goes well tonight I am
         willing to go tomorrow as long as I'm not needed elsewhere."

           Kell turns to Kiet, "Ha!"  Kell's snorts a bit at this idea.  "I
         would so love to have one of my large, dirty, " adding great
         emphasis on the next word, filling it with sarcasm, "friends
         provide a distraction.  Do you we want city wide mayhem or just
         a minor riot?"  Smiling broadly, showing his white teeth.

           Ha'Kell then turns to Shu, "What will we do for a distraction?
         Or are we going to count on luck to protect Shu?  I will ask
         around sideways in the market for something."

           Shu chews the piece of steak in her mouth then looks up.  She
         glances to Zhou.  Zhou shrugs and says, "the fence could not
         help much in the distraction area as it isn't his thing."

           Shu sits back and drinks some wine, "I can't say what the
         distraction will be.  But it will be done.  I am assured of
         that." She raises a hand to stop questions. "It has been arranged
         already.  But I'm not prepared to disclose the details at this
         time.  Some of us still have our secrets and in this case it
         might be best to keep it that way."

           Caldan shrugs, "I'm not sure if this baroness is a good
         lead or a simple everyday rumor.   I have a feeling this
         Pamau connection could be a stronger lead."

           Unali speaks up about the baroness, "From information I
         gather, she has been kidnapped and led off on foot. Some snake
         skin and beetles were found near where her tracks were last seen.
         And she has recently visited Pamau. There are more leads that
         point to Pamau, including the mysterious buyer of all these
         warehouses and possibly mines as well. An old mine would make a
         nice hide-out."

           The group realizes that Unali with her own Katai contacts
         must've done more than shopping today.  In fact some wonder
         if her own contacts might be more reliable than others.

           Zhou turns to Kell.  "I would prefer you remain here tonight.
         In fact I prefer everyone does.  While Shu does her thing we
         can't take a chance of discovery.  If we are discovered and
         need to fight or flee we should all be together.  She will
         do her thing at midnight.  I would like Kell to go down and
         play some card games with everyone.  I need folks to look and
         watch.  I'll join the games for a while myself.  We need to be
         alert and observant.  Some should remain on the 3rd floor and
         take shifts watching there just in case.  I rather not have
         anyone leave in case we need to find you.  After a couple hours
         if all is quiet then we can break up and head to bed.  But
         till then I request you remain."

           Some look to Unali as de facto leader and she nods in agreement.

           Shu nods, "I will do the actual task at midnight to make things
         simple.  The ritual actions can take from 3-5 hours depending
         on what comes of it.  The chance of detection will be the critical
         first few minutes then after that I suspect these people will
         not even be able to detect it unless they specifically know
         the ritual.  As with before I will need extreme quiet and to be
         left alone.  If you must check just knock once on the door and
         I'll grunt or say something if I'm able to let you know what
         is going on.  But I prefer to be alone as it helps the full
         concentration of the ritual."

           Caladan speaks up, "must you do it in the city?"

           Shu shakes her head. "No.  But if I sense the absence of mana
         which is our key to finding the Vong it would see the city as
         one clump on the map.  Being in the city I can pinpoint the
         area and maybe even street with a city map.  Think of it as
         a ant hill.  You know the queen is somewhere inside.  But
         if you dig around randomly you know its in the clump of dirt.
         But if you watch and study how the ants act you can track
         it down to a more specific area in the colony.  While it is
         more dangerous in the city it would almost certainly tell us
         if they are here in Shantou."

           "A fascinating ritual. " Zhou cleans his mouth and finishes
         his beer. "Now the warehouses will have to remain for later.
         If you must go   I rather it be after the ritual in the early
         morning just before sunrise.  Personally I think searching a
         empty warehouse is a waste of time.  I could simply go tomorrow
         and find the landlord and request to inspect the place for
         me to buy.  It would allow open free movement in the day and
         we could inspect then.  All the cloak and dagger stuff is a bit
         dangerous for our needs.  But for now remain in the tavern please
         until at least 3 or 4am.  Now let's all go downstairs and have
         some fun.  I hear they will have a new music group tonight."

           The dinner is finished and the party heads downstairs.  For
         the next few hours a group of three musicians play mandolin and
         flute and banjo like drums.  The music is light and quite
         expressive.  Several in the party for their cover use the
         chance to dance including Unali, Z'leyra, Raban and Shu
         for example.  

           The tavern is busy up till about 11pm and almost full to the
         brim with visitors and guests.  Those who do not play games
         or dance drink like Ben'dar.  Kell and Zhou begin to play
         some serious card games with a stack of coins to make it look
         like a serious game.  Some of the other party members join in
         who feel lucky or for sake of the cover.

           Even some of the other people in the tavern ask to join in
         the dice and card games the party is putting on.  Some buy
         drinks for those around the table.  

           Near midnight Shu heads up stairs escorted by Raban.  Kiet also
         decides to go to the room.  Raban sees Shu to her room and then
         checks it and leaves her.  Before Raban leaves Shu grabs his
         arm and pulls him down.  She kisses the giant on the cheek and
         thanks him for his help on this trip.  Raban's cheeks turn red
         from excitement.  If only she didn't have to perform her task
         it could be a good night.  For the last few hours Shu has been
         quite happy.  Dancing and carousing.  She did not drink much
         as it would interfere with things but Raban notices she has been
         the most happy in a few weeks since leaving the sailor she
         liked on the ship.  Raban wonders if this duty she is doing is
         what is making her happy.  Something she can contribute to the
         party and help out.  Raban leaves the room and hears the door
         lock.  Raban decides to head to his room to "keep watch".  He
         can listen and occasionally stretch his feet when needed.  The
         clerk and staff occasionally come around and those guards on
         site also come around so not to have folks standing around in
         the hallways for too long.

           Downstairs the party gets tense as the ritual is soon to begin.
         By now the tavern has thinned out from four dozen people or so
         to only about a dozen.  The band has dropped to a single young
         girl playing a quiet harp with light music.

           Taking a break Kell sits and talks to Unali alone at her
         table. He talks to her about her home city, both as a friend and
         to learn more.  The half-elf wants to help her however he can, and
         makes it very clear to Unali.  Family and friends are important,
         very important to him.  He counts her in that.

           Some take turns and exit the tavern to get air.  But as they
         do they scan the dark streets.  Few people are seen maybe one
         or two an hour at most.  This area is far from the market and
         other homes so traffic is very light.  

           Arawn takes the time to walk around and look around in night
         watch mode.  So does Fremea.  But at one point Fremea heads
         upstairs to rest in Arawn's room.

           As the time passes midnight, Kiet soon returns downstairs to
         play a few more rounds of cards before he needs to go to bed.
         Another hour passes and no obvious incidents seem to occur.
         In the two hours since the ritual the tavern thins more and
         more.  Only 1 or 2 new comers enter, go to the bar get a
         drink and head upstairs for bed.  But none that remain seem
         to be looking at the party who care about them.  Those with
         the senses to detect things like Arawn an Fremea sense nothing
         wrong as well

           Unali finally tires and heads upstairs with Zhou.  As others
         continue to play tension finally begins to die down.  The
         drinks begin to seem watered down so the party seems almost
         over.  Zhou informs those who wish to leave can but maybe another
         hour to be safe.  No incidents have occurred so the chance of
         a raid seem unlikely at this point.


         [Julis 26th, 1634TH]
         [Location: Middle Katai Plains, Shantou Province, Shantou city]

         [Time: 2:45am - Night 2 in Shantou]

           As the games start to end and the hour comes up the party
         begins to collect their things to head to the other inn or
         to the rooms upstairs.  Kell reconsiders taking this time to
         head to the warehouses but is unsure.

           Upstairs on the 3rd floor Kiet walks by to his room.  This
         causes Raban to look out into the hall as if he is heading
         to the outhouse.  He notices Kiet and quietly asks how he
         did in the games.  As Kiet begins to speak Raban notices the
         door to Shu's room down the hall seems open.  Curious he
         walks that way and Kiet follows.

           Raban gets to the door and notices it is half open.  He then
         sighs when he notices Fremea inside the room.  As his eyes
         adjust to the dark room lit by a single candle on a desk though
         his smile become a frown.  The entire room is lit only by a
         faint candle.  At the desk is Shu slumped over looking to be
         asleep or exhausted from the ritual.

           Raban steps inside half a foot and then notices Fremea turn
         around.  From the brighter light from the hall he notices
         her dress is slightly torn.  He then notices blood on her
         dress and glances at Shu.  He then notices a faint dark pool
         on the floor and a dagger.  Concerned he approaches another
         foot and he stalls as he notices Shu's head.  Her left side
         of the skull seems to have a massive wound.

           By now Kiet notices this as well from the doorway and
         wonders what is going on.  Panic strikes Raban and he rushes
         to check Shu but finds no pulse.  

           Kiet then notice what is going on and also begins to panic.
         He rushes to the stairs wondering if Z'leyra is still here or
         has left.  but he suddenly turns and bangs on Zhou's door.
         A few seconds later Zhou answers and Kiet points then runs to
         the stairs to find Z'leyra.

           Zhou heads down the hall in his night clothing and finds
         Shu's room and discovers what is going on.  "What's wrong?"

            Moments later Unali joins Zhou and pushes him aside and
          enters the room.  Unali and Raban soon discover the wound
          on Shu's head is from a deep dagger push.  It appears she
          was attacked from behind?  It must've been from the side
          of the head under her ear or neck at the soft area and
          upwards a killing blow that only few skilled can do.  A blow
          also that likely makes things hard to recover from such
          wounds as the brain would be damaged badly.

            Below Kiet rushes outside to find Z'leyra near the others
          and all rush upstairs.  Z'leyra soon finds Shu lying flat
          on the bed and more candles are lit.  Z'leyra inspects
          her and finds the wound massive and quick.  She realizes
          though the body is slightly stiff and cold as if she has been
          dead for some time.

            Zhou asks, "How? Who?"

            Unali heads to the back to check the windows and finds them
          locked.  She unlocks the back door and exits to the balcony
          area and looks around.  But there is no sign of blood or

            Caladan wonders, "Who could enter a locked room and kill her
          and then just leave?!"

            Raban glances over at Fremea...

            On top of the desk are several maps.  
         Actions? Comments?

         Next Update...Friday...

         GM: A fun upset huh? :) Interesting twist of things?
             Kell with this sudden event do you still go to the
             warehouses? :)

         GM: Looks like we've lost Chion/Marcel and Robert/Strie'bog.
             So from this point will play them in npc mode.  But will
             fight for them but not cast magic.  I don't like to cast
             magic the player themselves might not  do.  So will do
             their basic core skill set of actions.

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