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Harmony in the Key of Sus

We infiltrated the Angels of Harmony as successfully as we could. I think the group could use a lesson in subtlety. At any rate, there was some suspicious activity. There seems to be memory loss and sleep spells sued on people. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it is nefarious in nature. It just seems odd to someone who has been travelling freely without such a structure for so long. I am enclosing some letters. These are supposedly letters from loved ones of people inside the Angles of Harmony asking the member to come home. I know it’s not much, but if we can track down one or more of these people. It would give us the insight we need to decide whether further action is necessary.

Their leader, Nikolas, told us about his opinion on the Stygian. He proposes that the Stygian is a source of magic, neither good nor evil in nature. As with any other source of power, some would use it for good while others would use it for evil. He also said that followers of the Stygian hate him, and what he does at the Angels of Harmony.

Until next crime,

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Per Multiversum
Chapter 3 — Tea House
The others continued on, leaving Kytharrah to play with the strange creature. As she passed by them, Sofi smiled and waved at the fish-dragon, and it yelled something back in return. Only Solisar could understand the words of course. The elf chuckled to himself, but he did not translate.

   "Does anyone know what that is?" asked Sofi quietly, as they walked away toward the little building.

   "He claimed to be a dragon," said Solisar, "the god of the lake."

   "I thought that dragons had wings," she said, "and breath fire."

   "Perhaps it is a sort of water dragon," said Belvin.

   "There are many types of dragons," said Solisar, "but this is not a type that I have ever encountered or read about before."

   "If it is a dragon," said Hakam, "it is only a baby dragon."

   Szordrin gave himself the ability to read thoughts as they walked. Passing another stone lantern and two gardens of sand and large rocks, the gravel path continued up to the building. Several glowing red paper lanterns hung from the eaves over the narrow porch. They saw that the wooden structure only had three walls. The northern wall was open, but the entry was low, only about four feet from the floor. Within, they saw a woman sitting on a mat before a small tray. She wore a pink kimono with a purple sash. (Solisar noted that the sash had a faint abjuration aura.) She was elderly, but her long gray hair was still full and was pinned up high in a style seemingly common among Wanese noblewomen.

   On her tray was a series of pots and cups, and a metal kettle was hanging by a chain from the ceiling over a square bed of hot coals.

   Just before the wooden steps to the porch and the entryway was a marble basin full of water. A pair of shoes were sitting on the ground before the steps, presumably the woman's.

   "Can you give her our greetings?" Hakam said to Solisar. "Do not step up onto the porch unless you take your boots off."

   Solisar gave a little bow.

   She nodded at them but did not speak. Szordrin heard her thoughts, which revealed confusion and a little fear at seeing the strangers.

   The woman waved her hands in front of herself and muttered some words. Solisar recognized that she was casting a divine spell to comprehend languages.

   "We greet you," said Solisar. "By magic, I can understand your language, but none of my companions can. I was told by the... dragon... that your name is Hina."

   "I am Hina," replied the old woman in Wa-an. "Welcome to my rojo. Are you here to take a rest and enjoy a sip of tea?"

   "That was not our purpose for coming here, but we would be happy to do so if that is either expected or allowed. Please forgive us, but we are not from this land, and its customs are strange to us."

   "In this land," she said, "the drinking of tea is a very traditional and ceremonious affair."

   "We have never participated in such a ceremony," said Solisar, "but we are willing to learn, should you be willing to teach us."

   "Are there any of you who are able to free themselves of stress and find true calm to participate in such a ceremony?"

   Belvin was very interested in tasting the tea, being specialized in herbs as he was, and Solisar and Hakam also agreed to join her.

   "Then come and enter through the nijiriguchi when you feel that you are ready to begin," said Hina.

   The three removed their footwear and placed them carefully next to hers on the ground before the steps. Then Hakam placed his hands in the water basin and began to wash them.

   "This is for washing, is it not?" asked Solisar.

   Hina nodded, and the other two washed their hands as well.

   Next, they slowly stepped up the stairs and ducked to enter the small room. Solisar sat down and sat cross-legged on the floor. The others joined him on the mat in a tight row. They realized that the floor was slightly sloped from each of the corners to the center, so that they felt a subtle sense almost of falling toward where the hot coals heated the pot.

   Hina remained mostly still, observing them. They got the sense that they were missing some key step in the proceedings.

   Solisar gave another slight bow, which was apparently the step that they were lacking, for she immediately bowed back.

   "First, concentrate," she said. "Free your mind and relax. Feel peace." Solisar translated this to the other two, and Hina closed her eyes and began to slow and control her breathing. The three guests attempted to similarly relax themselves. While they tried to meditate, Hina began to quietly reach for her paraphernalia and to prepare the tea. One at a time, she washed each and every bowl and utensil, carefully arranging everything just so and in a precise order. Then, she returned to her own meditation. The only sound to be heard was the sound of the minotaur splashing in the water a short distance from the rojo and the simmering of the about-to-boil water.

   Just before the water in the pot hanging from the ceiling began to boil in full, she removed the pot from its hook and placed it on a coaster. She set to work at preparing four tea bowls and poured the hot water into each. She set a tea bowl in front of each of them on the mat and finally the remaining bowl on the floor in front of herself. She then lifted the bowl from the ground and rested it on her open palm. She now seemed to be waiting for them to respond.

   All three of the guests noticed that she had used her right hand to raise the bowl and had set it in her left palm, so they mirrored this exactly. Hakam and Belvin were also careful to then rotate the bowl in their palm. Only Hakam observed that the rotation was a quarter rotation in the clockwise direction. He noticed that Hina gave him a gentle smile as he did this and nodded to him.

   Hina now raised the bowl to her mouth and sniffed the tea before drinking it. They followed her lead. Belvin took in the strong aroma and recognized immediately that it was a very high-quality sencha tea, and Hakam recognized that this was a very similar tea to what the Shou Embassy of Bral had offered them. Hakam bowed at her yet again.

   She finally took a sip and then drank all of it. They did the same. It was delicious tea, some of the best that they had ever tasted. Belvin was particularly impressed.

   She now set the empty bowl down on the mat in front of her. The guests noticed that she rotated her bowl back by a quarter turn. Once they had rotated their own bowls, she leaned forward to take them back, and she began to slowly wash each bowl in turn and return them to their original positions on her tray. The guests sat patiently for her to complete her task.

   When all was arranged exactly as it had been at the beginning, she gave a final bow, and they bowed back.

   "Very good," said Hina. "With a little more practice, you will have the ceremony down perfectly."

   Solisar passed on her approval to Belvin and Hakam. This was followed by an awkward silence. Hina said nothing further, but they could not tell if she was meditating or waiting or if the ceremony was fully complete. Leokas, Sofi, and Szordrin, having waited in boredom outside during the actual ceremony, now stepped closer to hear if any conversation might begin. (Ferry hopped from Szordrin's shoulders and ran off to bathe in the sand of the rock gardens.)

   Solisar said, "Thank you for the wonderful tea. To get right to the reason for our coming to you, we are here to investigate a murder that happened here roughly 35 years ago. We were told that a body was found near a bridge on the way to the village of Bunden, and this is the first bridge that we have crossed coming from the city."

   Hina looked deeply and intently into each of her guests' eyes before answering. Belvin and Solisar could tell from her facial expression that she knew exactly whom they were talking about. Szordrin could hear her debating with herself whether she could risk trusting these strangers from another land.

   Hakam sensed her hesitation and removed the shogun's license to show her. "We have the shogun's express permission to investigate this matter."

   Ordinarily, that would make me trust you less, thought the old woman, but she said, "Ordinarily, I would not so easily trust strangers at my rojo, but you have tried your best to follow our people's practices while accepting my hospitality graciously." She paused for Solisar to translate and then looked directly at Hakam. "You, I sense, are an especially honorable man, and I can see that you have allowed any stress that you had carried to flow off of you upon crossing the nijiriguchi."

   Then she said, "Since I have decided to speak more fully with you, let me make it easier for all of us." She gave a short prayer, and afterwards, everyone could hear her words in his or her own native tongue.

   "Tell me more about the murder that you are investigating," she said.

   Hakam asked for the picture from Szordrin, who handed it to him to share with Hina. Upon seeing the portrait of Onran's wife, an obvious sign of recognition was present on her wrinkled face.

   "Poor Yunoko! She saw me the day that she died. I may have been the last one whom she saw in life."

   "The gods of fortune, then, have brought us here," said Solisar.

   "It is fitting that you speak of good fortune," Hina replied, "for I have seen your other companion through the window before you approached, the young oni. How fitting that it is Ji Chou, the year of the bull and the year of earth. I foresee that this is a special year for him, when earth and bull will meet."

   She seemed almost to be staring beyond them as she spoke these strange words, reminding Belvin of the druidess Yashiera. Hina then returned to the original topic. "Fortune also may be for the rest of you, if my words can assist you in learning who truly murdered her."

   "What can you tell us about the day that she died?" Hakam asked.

   "She had been having nightmares," answered Hina. "She came to my rojo for peace and calm, while on a journey to Bunden. Young Yunoko would always stop at my rojo, both when coming and when going from the city, for she lived beyond Bunden. On this trip, she was to stop at Bunden and not continue to her home, so the journey should have been shorter. It was only when nearly ten days had passed and she had not returned that I realized that the rumors of the death of a young woman along the road were about her.

   "I had told her that I would ask the spirits if they knew what might be causing the nightmares," continued Hina. "Too late did I hear from them that the Lady of Compassion believed that Yunoko's life was in danger from a fiendish tiger spirit."

   "It is as we suspected then," stated Hakam.

   "What do your words mean?" asked Hina.

   Hakam summarized their theories about how a rakshasa had killed her. Hina wanted to know why their group was interested in an ambassador to a foreign land, and they explained Yunoko's connection to Szordrin.

   Hina seemed content with their answers. "Beyond this minor revelation about the Lady's concern, I know little else. I was never even able to warn Yunoko before it was too late. I was going to tell her when she returned to me."

   "Have you yourself ever encountered such a tiger spirit?" asked Hakam.

   She had not.

   "It is possible that he was disguising himself as the Emperor Kando."

   She chuckled. "No emperor has ever visited my humble tea house."

   "Do you know what her business was in Bunden that day?" asked Hakam.

   "I know that she needed to speak with the yakuza for diplomatic reasons," said Hina. "I remember her telling me that a man from Faerûn had been beaten and left for dead near Bunden, and she needed look into the matter."

   "Did the man die?"

   "I think that the man lived, but the conversation, as you know, happened several decades ago."

   "Are there many Faerûnians in the area?"

   "Her husband was not from Wa. I do not know what became of him. Beyond her husband, no, people from your part of the world are very rare to see."

   "The shogun informed us that thirteen yakuza were executed for her death," said Solisar. "Their bodies were left along the road as a warning. Do you know where they were hung?"

   "It must have happened closer to Bunden," said Hina. "My own minka is between here and Uwaji; I never saw these person's bodies."

   "Do you know the number of bridges on the road?" asked Hakam.

   "I do not, but streams are more frequent as one continues into the foothills. I do not often travel beyond the two sunazetchin outside these doors. I only ever visited Bunden once during the Double Seventh Festival when I was a young maiden. People in Wa do not travel often. In fact, the laws forbid us to do so without the permission of our lords."

   "We think that we may have encountered Yunoko's ghost two nights ago," said Hakam. "Do you have any idea what might be binding her spirit to our world?"

   "I am told that the Spirit World is much closer to the realm of mortals here in Wa than it is whence you all come in Faerûn. Spirits of the dead are everywhere present here. It is an honor for our ancestors to be allowed to live close to their families after death. We respect such spirits and seek advice from them. I myself speak regularly to various ancestor spirits and nature spirits to ask for guidance.

   "Our shukenja teach us that a recently departed spirit must travel the River of Three Routes, which guides it to its final resting place. For those who have lived an honorable life, that final resting place within the Spirit World is often parallel to its ancestral home here on the mortal plane. I would thus have expected Yunoko's spirit to visit her family's home in Iiso, which is south of Uwaji. Your words make me fear that something prevented her spirit from finding the River."

   "Do you think that her spirit may be retracing the steps that she made on the final day of her life?" asked Hakam.

   "It is possible," said Hina. "Sometimes, severe events are thought to prevent a spirit from finding the River, such as a murder before a victim can experience womanhood or dying before completing an important task or fulfilling a sworn oath — things that go against the divine and natural order established by the Celestial Bureaucracy."

   "Such things are said to likewise prevent spirits from reaching their final destination in our stories also," said Solisar, "although it is a place called the Fugue Plane where spirits wait, instead of a mystical river."

   "I wish that I could be of more help to you," said Hina. "I felt for Yunoko as if she were my daughter. I shall pray that her spirit may be freed. Have you tried communicating with her spirit?"

   "How could we do this?" asked Belvin.

   "I assume that some among you are workers of magic; have you no means to communicate with the dead?"

   "None of us are necromancers, no," said Belvin.

   "My god prevents me from accessing certain magics involving the dead," explained Hakam.

   "I can speak to lesser spirits," said Hina, "but only to those that are nearby. However, I am not permitted to enter the city without my lord's permission."

   "In her room at the embassy," said Hakam, "we found a chess board, a calligraphy set, and a parasol. Do you know if any of these items were of any particular importance to her."

   "Yunoko was highly educated," said Hina, "trained in the ways of nobility. She knew poetry and the arts of calligraphy and tea ceremonies, high crafts. She was an elegant noblewoman. I do not know, however, if the items that you mention would have held a strong emotional connection with her beyond death. It is true, if this is what you are implying, that a spirit can usually only materialize in a limited area of some importance, in the same way that the spirit of a tree is bound to the region of a tree and lives parallel to that place in the Spirit World."

   They all suddenly heard Kytharrah give a sort of yelp. Leokas, who could see the minotaur from where he stood waiting outside Hina's tea house, informed them that the minotaur was fine and simply playing still with his new friend.

   "Leokas, Kytharrah is bleeding!" said Sofi.

   "He is fine," Leokas repeated.

   Hakam asked Hina about this. "Is the fish-dragon dangerous?"

   "Ordinarily, I would say no," Hina replied, "but for the last several months he has been snappy and unusually hungry and generally quick to anger. I do not understand what is wrong with him, but he is not acting like he used to act. While always playful, he had also been calm, peaceful, and very, very shy. It is only by my magics that I knew that he existed at all. He would never hurt a fly, but now he will chew up the plants along the shore of the lake."

   "The rage affects him," said Solisar.

   "He really is a dragon then," agreed Hakam.

   "Oh, he is certainly a dragon," said Hina. "He is a yu lung. They are the juveniles of the dragons of the Spirit World of Kara-Tur."

   "In Faerûn," explained Solisar, "there is a powerful curse currently affecting all dragonkind. It seems that this dragonrage extends to the whole world of Toril."

   Hina seemed fascinated by this revelation. "He is a dragon, so that would explain why he has been behaving so strangely."

   "If this is the extent of his raging," said Solisar, "truly, he must have been good-natured. The evil dragons of our land have been attacking settlements, and even the noblest dragons have been going mad with jealousy and retreating from Toril for relief."

   They thanked Hina and indicated that they should probably continue their journey to Bunden.

   "Would you like to take one of my tea bowls?" Hina offered. "Perhaps it might help you connect with Yunoko's spirit."

   Hakam said that she should keep it for now; if needed, they could always return to her, since the tea house was so near to the city.

   The three inside the little one-room house rose and bowed again and then departed.

   Separating the yu lung Tanoshihire from Kytharrah — literally, Tano was biting into Kytharrah's calf — was challenging, and once the strange creature was back on the ground waddling about on his stumpy forearms, he begged to be taken along with them. "Are you not my friends? Let me come! Let me come!"

   Kytharrah had no idea what Tano was saying, but the minotaur nodded vigorously.

   "We would need some sort of container of water," Solisar said to the others in Common.

   "I can shape us a large stone vase," said Hakam, "if the minotaur is willing to carry it."

   "I could shape one of wood," said Belvin, "but not today."

   "Can anyone enlarge my mug?" asked Sofi, but no one had a spell that could do that.

   "We could invert a bag of holding," said Szordrin.

   "We would not be able to use it any longer," said Leokas.

   "Kamil could carry the extra items," said Belvin.

   "I have not had a friend in ten years!" said Tano. "This is so great. Great, great, great!" He sort of danced around in a tight circle.

   "If we do not have a spell to make a container for him now," said Solisar, "we know that we will be coming back. Let us just tell him that we will return tomorrow, when we can make him a container for him to breathe and that he can come with us then."

   This was agreed upon, and then they had to explain this to both minotaur and carp dragon, which was challenging. Tanoshihire did not take the answer well, but he did not take out his anger on any of them at least. He instead stomped down to his lake like an angry, pouting child and splashed into the water and disappeared.

   As they headed north along the main trail, Tano poked his head out of the water one last time. "You better not be lying!"
Session: 124th Game Session - Tuesday, Nov 24 2020 from 1:00 AM to 4:00 AM
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Tags: Chapter 3 , Recap , Uwaji , Wa
Truffles and Session 33 Notes

8 oz chocolate
2 T water
2 T butter
3/4 C heavy cream
2 T sugar
Cocoa powder

Melt the chocolate in the water over low heat, then mix in the butter a little at a time. Add heavy cream and mix until smooth, then add sugar. Chill for an hour. Form into sphere shapes and roll in cocoa powder, then put on waxed paper.

Session 33 Notes
After taking out the giants, we cut off the head of the one with the cage and brought the fairy dragon back in it. It tried to attack us during the night, but we were able to keep ahold of it on our way back to Hirschberg. We met a woman named Moonsong who asked us to give it to her, but we refused. Back in Hirschberg, we learned more about the ambassador and got a new cage for the fairy dragon. Faith is aggressive and Scotti has the head.
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Case 07 - Angels in the way-out-field

Successfully infiltrated A.H. Original examination didn't reveal much. Well known structure -- lead by Mr. K, inner members supervise others. Most suspicious are people who "leave". Rumor from one witness says last person to leave simply disappeared. Unable to confirm accusation. No real details on where these members go.

Ran into snow creature and powerful magic item. Not sure if villainous in intent, but creature itself was a severe threat. Seemed predatory in nature; extremely hostile. Simply explained as a natural occurrence by staff. Item was removed by staff. Investigation into origins of creature hampered. Further probing likely to risk confrontation.

Organization seems to keep a tight leash on visiting and current members until they make clear their intention to depart -- even going as far to use magical restraint.

Please find attached a curious item, magical in nature. Unable to determine qualities in field. Found among Mr. K's office. Also contained a list of names and some indication of a status. B. determined that names of individuals who left marked with certain status.

In conclusion, organization is still mysterious. Mr. K. maintains a stern and open persona... remains person of extreme interest. Nothing discovered inside house itself. Possible other locations near or on estate, but unable to explore safely. Terminating current investigation due to safety concerns.

No expenses incurred, needs provided by organization of interest.
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The Hidden Blade
The Journey Begins
4th week of the month Airum first month of the 40th year of the Teriin Virth era: The journey begins with you inside the kingdom Thuk'Anule. A mass of slaves were being lead into the dark citadel with a group of hunters leading them. Darcio was among the hunters while Izara and Rif/Gor were among the slaves. Marash, Sharam, and Ian watched the slaves be lead in knowing that they needed to get inside they used the slaves as cover to sneak in. Once inside it soon became apparent that something was wrong as. The slaves were made to create a half circle inside the room and once finished the Illithid high cleric appeared.

After the Cleric appeared a few slaves were brought down and dragged into the darkness behind the cleric. Without saying anything the cleric spread out its arms and tables of food appeared meats, fruits, and wine of all types were displayed in front of the slaves. Having never seen such food many slaves rushed forward and began eating. At that moment slaves began to foam at the mouth and fall over poisoned and paralyzed. once more the bodies that fell were pulled into the darkness behind the Cleric.

Not long after that for reasons unknown a dark tendril shot through the neck of the Cleric and pulling it into the darkness. After this a huge lumbering hulk of an Illithid appeared before them. Upon its appearance all of the food began decaying. The Illithid began talking to the group during their conversation the ground shook and only those with saw the quick change of the monsters facial features. At the end of their conversation another force greater than the last occurred knocking many to the ground the moment they hit the floor dark tendrils came into sight moving towards those that had fallen. Before the tendrils reached anyone a voice rang out "oh silly Viksheer why do you still hide in the shadows."

A blinding light flashed in the room dispelling the darkness. As sight began to come back the true form of Viksheer became known. A huge mass of flesh in the process of absorbing many other creatures. Upon seeing this Rif began to switch to his alter personality Gor, and upon complete transformation Gor raged and grabbed a bone and smashed open a hunters skull and continued pounding even after the body had fallen. After coming to terms with the sight of Viksheer the group noticed the female Kitsune that wasn't there before, But upon seeing this woman Izara became angry and demanded to know why she had appeared. Amused the woman answered Izara mockingly, and before continuing she turned to Viksheer and blasted apart its body with 9 elements. She then turned to the group and held out her hand the remaining slaves and hunters had their life energy drained and their bodies shriveled up as if they had been decaying for years.

The woman finally introduced herself as Syleine Vystyille the one known as the greatest of the dark apostles. She began to tell the group that she would give them everything that they were seeking if they did a single job for her, and she also told them that if they chose not to finish this job she would kill them. The group agreed and satisfied she teleported away. While the rest of the group was speaking Marash felt a presence and saw a tear in space. He walked over and reached out the presence was his god Bhunivelze telling him to be careful of Syleine and also to use the rest of these people to get the artifact, but to talk with him once the artifact was in their possesion.

After introducing themselves and a few interactions the group headed toward the coliseum. After a couple of battles the group found a stairway down once they entered the stairway they could see on the walls of the stairway was a mural depicting the divine wars. Upon touching the mural a vision of the past appeared to Ian he group decided after that they would no longer touch the mural as the deeper they went more traps appeared. The group entered a wide cavern and the sound of running water could be heard in the distance. off in the distance barely seen what looked to be makeshift tents could be seen and it was decided that would head that way. They came upon a giant crevice with rushing water discussing their options they decided to go across the bridge. A little ways into the bridge humanoid shapes could be seen with the top a human and the bottom of a snake. It was decided that they would continue forth, however as they got further in what started as a low whisper like sound it soon became clear that it was a chant.

The bridge collapsed under the feet of the group and they plummeted into the rushing water below. While the rest of the group were struggling in the water Sharam managed to keep herself afloat and as steady as one could be in such waters. She managed to turn her head in time to see a giant sea leviathan rushing towards in a desperate move she threw out a dismembered hand she had collected. Luck was on her side as the creature took the bait and gave Rif time to steady himself and for Sharam to help Marash to get him steady above water. The leviathan rushed forward scooping Ian, Izara, Darcio into its mouth while Rif, Sharam, and Marash grabbed onto its head. After being pulled along by the leviathan the group was thrown out of the waterway. Once they collected their surroundings they saw that the cavern was filled with giant eggs. As they were making their way out they caught a glimpse of a shadow as they tried to reason and have him come out he refused and broke an egg. Upon the breaking of an egg the leviathan shot out of the water onto land the group ran to the nearest exit, and thinking that it would not notice Ian taunted the serpent. The serpent slammed its head into the entryway and shot out toxic fumes on the party. Looking for a way to stop the serpent Sharam spotted a weak spot in the wall and caused a cave in on the serpents head. With a moment of respite the group came out into and open cavern with a small little camp that looks like it has just recently been used. The decided to take this moment to get some rest regardless of if the previous owners came back or not.
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