The session opens with Ts’ao Hai lounging on the Chun Ye while everyone else is working; Liu Fan comes to deliver the deck of cards that were used to divine one of the pirate’s fortunes last night, as well as news of one of the crew, Tovena Ravoush, going missing: a gambler who was present at the card game last night. Ts’ao Hai begins to search for the crew member, eventually reaching Li and learning that someone was seen swimming from the ship to the far shore.
With the help of Rebecca, the river is crossed; with the help of Hirase, the trail is found. Rebecca doubles back to inform and recover Talis, while Bon takes over watching the still unconscious poisoner suspect Fu. The party decides to follow the trail up river, doing so for several hours with no end in sight. As dusk falls, the party debates traveling further or setting up camp. They follow the trail further, and eventually decide to set up camp.
On the second watch, Ts’ao Hai hears noises in the bush and tries to quietly wake Talis. Failing to do so, he wakes her more deliberately and creatures come charging at them. Taken by surprise, the party receives a severe walloping from the feathered assault. Rebecca strikes a mighty blow, skewering one of the attacking beasts, while Talis dispatches another with flair. The last one is dragged down over several rounds of combat. The carcasses are stripped, and the journey continues the next day. The party sets a hard pace to try and make up ground while Rebecca briefly returns to the colony to relay news of their progress to Viceroy Duellos. When Rebecca returns to the party, she notices the Harrow deck that Ts’ao Hai has recently acquired and asks him about it. Ts’ao Hai is rather clueless about the matter.
The party gets close to the Tengu village, and decides to visit the bird-people for possible news and safety for the night. As the party approaches, they suddenly hear noises around them. Unsettled by the recent ambush, the party prepares to receive an attack, and a small figure emerges from the brush and takes a swing at Mia, Rebecca’s winged mount. Ts’ao Hai pivots to catch the creature on his rapier, which unfortunately turns out to be a tengu adolescent. Kalum intervenes to save the child from the worst of the blade, successfully preventing the strike from killing him.
Ts’ao Hai, horrified at his mistake, loses control of his gullet while Tails and Kalum move to comfort and treat the tengu adolescent. After a few minutes, many Tengu, led by Greensheen come and collect the wounded, explaining that the stick he was holding is a part of a rite of manhood, and that the whole incident was a misunderstanding.
Having explained the “attack,” the Tengu inform them that they did see the missing crew member passing by, headed along the river. The Tengu explain that they have seen many heading from all directions towards the Confluence recently, including some of their own. The party debate this news and decide that they are not sufficiently equipped to pursue Tovena into the influence of the Temple, and begin to head back to New Salam. Talis catches Greensheen and asks if the Tengu would be interested in a trade deal: services of Tengu scouts and training in field craft in exchange for whatever the Tengu might desire.
The party returns to Westgate after two days of travel. Talis assembles the council in order to hear the report. After some debate, the council seems to agree to the Tengu proposal. The party reports that as they returned home, they saw a stela in the river. The stela appeared to be broken, which might explain the increase in strange Temple-related behavior. The party begins to debate what we are going to do about this situation, and decide to speak to the remaining members of the Azkaderra party and with Scholar Mengzhi in order to determine what to do next.
Warden Bon reports that Fu has managed to kill himself during transport back to the jail cell under the town hall, after stealing Li’s dagger and stabbing Shopik during his escape attempt. The party has thus lost any potential intelligence the poisoner had.
The council determines that the metal from the last supply ship needs to be properly allocated, and that the colony needs access to a forge. The party determines that they need to discuss an agreement with the Kambral for use of their forge. The council decides to focus on building a Garbage Pit next, to establish basic sanitation infrastructure.
The party visits Mengzhi and informs him about the recent events. He examines the petroglyph and discovers some writing on the back in Bea’txo, visible through the Read Magic spell. Mengzhi also takes a look at Ts’ao Hai and notes that his magical aura has shifted and that the Harrow deck is related to the change. After examining the deck, the Scholar determines that one of the card is missing: “the Void.” Ts’ao Hai reclaims the potentially cursed deck as Talis asks to see one of the ratfolk brains. After the examination, the brain is fed to the Grondoks, along with Mengzhi’s favorite specimen bowl.
The next morning, the party crosses the river and goes to meet the remaining members of the Azkaderra party. After apologizing for waking them up at an ungodly hour in the morning, the party informs them that a damaged stela has been discovered. They react quite severely and with considerable distress. The party learns that the two left with the tent are not going to be capable of being helpful in repairing the stela, and bid them adieu.
The party heads to Anjis to talk business. They arrange for the colony’s smiths to share the forge space with the Kambral in exchange for their labor and some non-metal goods from the colony. The party agrees and heads back over to the colony to make the proper arrangements. After these are made, the party goes over to Zim and Galen’s hut to see about getting the items from Staakos repaired and researched. Afterwards, the party meets with the colony smiths and seals the deal for them to use space at the Kambral forge. Ts’ao Hai and Duellos put their heads together and come up with a plan for moving all the smithing materials across the river utilizing the ships that they have.
The party returns to Mengzhi and asks him about the message that Commander Duellos received from the Azkaderra. After he explains the likely providence of the mentioned ritual, Ts’ao Hai manages to ask him about the journal that Hirase and Bon brought back from the shrine. Mengzhi is somewhat reticent to talk about the journal, which he refers to as an entity made out of knowledge. The session ends as the party prepares to meet with the mysterious “journal.”