Week 9, Ambush
Our heroes have found Preacher in the morgue, murdered, and have checked out the island monastery, discovering that there are no worldbenders or diadem segments there yet.
Tom goes down to the English newspaper office and looks through all the issues since our arrival for reports of deaths and violent crimes. He discovers nothing new.
We decide to wring some information from men of the Tenth Dragon. Chris and Tom suggest looking through the opium dens. If we find a Tenth Dragoneer in an opium trance, we can probably ransack his memory without rousing suspicions. If we don't find one, we can at least buy some opium and hope to drug one later.
Now to locate an opium den. Tom and Chris first go out to locate an Anglophone street urchin, since none of us speak Chinese. Just as we find one, we notice Inspector Houston of the Hong Kong police following us. (He's been trailing us for some time now.) We startle him by turning around and approaching him openly. We ask him to settle a bet: Is opium legal here?
Well, that's a delicate point. The English and the Chinese have joint authority in Hong Kong just now. According to the Chinese, opium is illegal; according to the English, it's legal. Thanks, and could you tell us what parts of town to avoid so as to stay away from opium dens? The dirty and wholly Chinese parts. Houston then retires in some embarrassment.
Our first urchin has vanished at the sight of a cop. We find another English-speaking urchin and have him lead us to two nearby opium dens. We then get a telepathic message from Sophie -- Cantrel, Wu, and Lorelei have all come down with food poisoning. Probably nothing serious, but debilitating. [Their players couldn't make it that evening.]
We spend some time and money shopping for parts for the generator Tom means to build. When evening comes, we throw out all the Chinese pickled vegetables and eat cautiously. Then most of the hale members of the party set out for an opium den -- Pfusand, Daewen, Alag, Nate, and Tom. Chris stays behind with the ailing. The elves vanish into the shadows. Due to the company of the Naza, we walk rather than take a rickshaw.
As we approach, the elves note that we are being watched intently by several bystanders. Given the company of the Naza, this may be quite normal. Nonetheless, we are on the alert. Pfusand parks herself in a nearby alley while Tom knocks on the door of the den. A little old man opens. Tom enters cautiously and asks, "Do you speak English?"
WHAM Someone behind the doors slams it shut, striking Tom and throwing him out into the street. Meanwhile, two men with swords have approached the Naza and flanked her. And the bystanders out on the street start converging on the human party-members. We send out telepathic distress calls, and Chris and Cantrel [who's feeling much better since his player showed up] start out from the junk with flying belts and guns.
The fight that followed was ferocious. Not only did Pfusand have to contend with two swordsmen, she had to put up with arrows coming from second-story windows across the street. Shortly after Tom got to his feet, Nate got knocked out and stayed out. Chris and Cantrel showed up soon thereafter. Chris landed on a roof and started returning arrow-fire. Cantrel jumped as if from the roof and joined the melee before the door of the opium den. There, he frequently used his telekinesis to brush aside arrows and thrown knives. But not frequently enough; he collected one throwing-star in his right cheek. Daewen tap-dances on the enemy windpipes. Oh, it was a great action sequence.
At some point in the battle, Tom became aware of one bystander who had NOT joined in the fight -- an old Chinaman with a monkey on his shoulder. He gives the old gent a hard look, to memorize him, and gets something thrown at him for his trouble. Cantrel TKs it away. But then the old man vanishes in a puff of smoke. Alag and Tom's psychic senses register something VERY psychic about that, so it wasn't just stage magic.
The fight begins to wind down after this, especially when Daewen flits off to one of the second-story windows and minces the archer there. (Though we rather wish she had been a little subtler about exposing our ability to fly. Oh, well. It was dark and maybe her elven glamour helped.) Pfusand collects a prisoner for interrogation, but someone out there lobs throwing-stars and arrows into him to preclude this.
Tom then senses something subtle and psychic up on the roof near Chris. Chris hastily retreats, but not before noticing the monkey up on the roof with him. Might its master be nearby?
We retreat in reasonably good order, pursued by a final volley of arrows. We got ambushed, but we all lived through it. Not all of the ambushers did.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.