The realm is remote. There are river valleys, but also steep, wooded hills. Little flatland, until the south end of the province.
The main town of First Well is remote, in the west of the province, back against the mountains, far from the borders. In it is Castle Kung, where Lord Aoshi rules. His family claimed the province, lost control for some generations, but six generations back, in the Night of Bitter Scales, the previous clan’s head was killed int he Serpent War invasion. Kung Aoshi took the bull, and the province, by the horns, and took control back.
That ancestor prayed for a miracle, which led to a well and spring arose and bound the dark spirit, the Lord of the Serpents. The castle was built atop it. The Serpentine River flows from that well.
Around the castle is the town of First Well. There is also Dao Yen and Dao Min(?).
The Night of Bitter Scales is an annual observance of the provincial history. It’s a night of ill omen to some, a Passover kind of night. But in general it’s celebrated as the night the Kung family rose back to power, so they push it as a celebration.
Castle Kung – the gates are flung wide, and a trail of torches leads from the village to let villages into the courtyards and public areas, and tables of food and wine and treats are set up for the delight of the locals. There is a ritual, imposed by the Kung family on the local Abbot (or perhaps the other way around).
Elsewhere, villagers assemble in the forest, in the darkness, offering propitiatory offerings to keep the Lord of Serpents quiet and away from their province.
In the castle, the villagers are gathered. There is a party, a bit of ceremony, and everyone who’s anybody, and everyone else, show up. Rub up against those above your station. Music, food, dancing.
The wing chun, the wooden martial arts dummies, is done up as serpent warriors – wooden weapons, unarmed attacks, ring bells. Mostly kids doing it. Proper martial artists … pretty much later.
Bao’s father is busy busy busy, cooking and directing the goodness in the inner courtyard. Bao has come to see Lei, who is there with Huigong, and Zheng is managing all the servants who are ostensibly off that evening. Zheng spots Bao, sends him off to deal with preparation of food. Thanks, Dad.
Peng Lan is there … but doesn’t want to be. Zemin enters. Over by the wing chun, and the erhu performers. Peng doesn’t want to be there, but is covering it out of courtesy. Peng wants to survive the evening. Does not want to see Gunlan. Just wants to be out.
Zemin wants to get Peng Lan into a room with Gunlan. Also to have a good time. Dispute together about the open bar.
Sky Daughter Shu … Zhi is obviously here, her brother. But she is not here with him, but because it is her proper place to be, as a courtier, a lady in waiting. Much more refined than him. And it is a beautiful party, so she will enjoy herself and the companionship. The culture and values to which all aspire. Even if she’s a bit of a tomboy on the side.
Silent Sun got a message to meet back here … from his wife, to come to this province (but why?). So here, but … Hey, I’m a stranger! (not really) And … hey, working to put people in the drunk tank is a find way to earn some coin! Working to be anonymous.
Everyone is there, having a good time. It’s not a festival, there’s a certain amount of dutiful celebration. But folk are still enjoying.
Getting to the food to the table in a very … magically martial arts expeditious fashion. ==> 9 … spattering of applause, and it’s only then realizes it’s a bit of a show. Smile to the crowd, with success.
And then see … push focus to … Lei, and she’s doing a smile and applause … and then …
… grip on the arm. Zheng. He is not paying any attention to the performance, “Bao, he’s here!” … “Sun” … gesturing with ladle … directs gaze … but it’s this guy in travel robes and obscuring hat … “Reach out to them, subtly, let them know ASAP you are here to help …”
And see Lei leaving the courtyard, but is inclining her head, come-hither. INNER CONFLICT. But crowd sweeps in, “That was awesome, do the sour plumbs next!” Lose the opportunities, but get the XP.
Zemin determined to get Peng through the crowd to where the more rarified circles of the castle are. But, “Courtesy dictates I greet Lord Aoshi.” But Zemin is all in to make that happen.
Peng is hoping Gunlan will be there … maybe … no … that would be bad, would want to hit him … but … one must not use fighting skills in anger.
[watch Legend of the Condor Warriors - Seven Freaks]
Zemin - But there’s a ritual thing happening later … and that means that the court is not formally accessible, but, hey, sure they will let him in, right? Study … rolling recklessly ==> 7. Walking with confidence, as if with a clipboard. And also set up when Gunlan was going to be talking with Aoshi, but also Gunlan asked Zemin to set up timing with Peng Lan. Even though Zemin is a sometimes lover of Gunlan …
In a big room, there are:
- Kung Aoshi - quietly speaking with the Abbot, Ran Fu Tan.
- Sister Jian - assisting the Abbot.
- Kung Huigong - nearby to Aoshi, possibly listening.
- Dan Lui - Textle merchant.
- Kung Gunlan - chatting in quiet asides to Dan Tiao
Peng … Gunlan sees him before anyone else. Almost though he had been expecting him. Passage was full of incense smoke, since Zemin coughs loudly. Gunlan approaches. “I assume you came to pay respects to Father. It’s good to see you again, Peng.”
INNER CONFLICT … +Earth, to power past him to Aoshi ==> 5!
So … 2XP! And … he pushes through past Gunlan to Aoshi. Which is the sort of thing that Gunlan always got irked about so much. Maybe intentionally - Uncaring, Disdainful, walking straight through him, knocking him to the side.
Gunlan looks shocked, then hurt, then angry. Gunlan whirls, “Dammit, Peng, it was one night. They’re not even here any more!”
Peng falters. Gunlan makes a step. Aoshi barks “No.” Gunlan pauses, opens his mouth. Aoshi: “Leave us.” Calls out Gunlan, Huigong, Abbot.
And everyone else empties the room.
Zemin steers Peng toward the open bar, putting a drink in his hand, and Peng has no idea how they got there.
Link to Sister Jian. A friend/acquaintance/mentor.
See Peng … shocking recognition, as he stands at the bar, by that neer-do-well Zemin. In the Food Courtyard.
Crowd around Bao doing something unnatural with the salted plums.
But the mental disturbance is not Peng. But in the greater courtyard, a group of nobles coming in, not local but visitors, escorts (bodyguards) for a woman (age 40s-50s) and her daughter, Su Wen. Very unexpectedly.
Double shot - both Su Wen, and also the shot of the past lives of Su and Peng. And she’s here.
Crap. Zheng spotted you. Pointing you out. Have seen Zemin, but hasn’t been spotted back, of course, chatting up some attendant. And here comes the entourage … with …
… Su Wen …
… and her mother …
… representing clan and province, officially.
Lots of zooms on faces, on eyes shifting, shock …
Shu … there is room for formal engagement of Su Wen. Is she being properly greeted? Nobody of Shu’s rank. And the royal family is unavailable. Move forward to greet her mother, and her.
Curtsey, bow, formal welcome / inquiry of needs.
Mother, Lady Su Ning, cooly informs that there’s not been a greeting, would it be possible to talk with Aoshi, etc., peeved and expects satisfaction.
Shu escorts them to a space for traveling visitors to refresh themselves. Take charge and take care of them.
Impress + Water ==> 12!
Impress and convince … Create a Bond, Gain Favor with Su Ning, Bond with Su Wen. And Su Wen gives a very grateful look, and gets out of Dodge.
Su Wen flips up a fan and moves through the crowd, looking at everything, food and display and people and passes right past the front of Sun. With no greater attention, but drops a bit of parchment along the wood of the walkway to Sun’s feet.
Sun flips the note up, a prepared text: “Mother has found some way for me to marry one of the sons of Kung Aoshi. She is meeting with the Abbot after the ritual.”
INNER CONFLICT + Earth → 9
Puts the note in the cookfire by Bao.
And flees the scene! As Bao watches after him.
- Engaged with Entanglements: 1 XP per used.
- Bonus if preferred Entanglement engaged: +1 XP