After addressing a few other questions, we made plans and split up. Ramal, Cressida, Feng, and Sehera were going to pursue Kong Day Li in East Sefet, while Indira, Nessisus, Lyr and I sought Taja (accompanied by Dendera Seth, who refuses to let me out of her sight).
In East Sefet, Feng located a tea shop frequented by Black Phoenix Syndicate members and, according to Sehera, antagonized a group of them until they shoved him away, at which point he dropped his disguise and slew all but one with a spell. The remaining man, terrified, divulged what little he knew of the reclusive wu jen, which, fortunately, included roughly where he lived.
On our journey to North Point, Lyr communed with Pelor and was, thankfully, able to obtain some leads. We went to the civic center of North Point and tried nosing around a tavern. We found no leads, but I recalled something, a rumor of a bar might be the type of place a Cobalt Crown operative like Taja might frequent; the sort of place that is perfect for shady meetings. I think it was something the same cousin who recommended Al Gehmd to me had mentioned…
I have not heard from Barakat in some time. He used to write to Makram quite frequently; I hope he hasn’t met with a similarly avoidable end as my brother. (So writes the man who plans on plunging into a dragon’s lair.) I’ll have to ask my uncle Fouad if I ever have the opportunity to visit him.
I distracted a group of toughs in front of the bar while the others slipped inside. I don’t think they were bouncers, but we suspected they were somebody’s guards. Fortunately, they were bad at their job.
Unfortunately for the others, Kong Day Li lived in the sewers. They followed the Black Phoneix thug’s directions and, when they found a simple, man-catching snare in what Ramal described as a “garden of filth,” they knew they were on the right track.
They set off the snare and Feng raised a cry as if he had been trapped, summoning the old wu jen, who easily recognized Feng’s disguise for what it was. He led them to his filthy hut and offered them something that could generously be called tea.
As we cased the bar, Indira noticed a familiar man, the same who had given her the slip to her family’s vault. He too noticed Indira and me and summoned us over. In a surprising turn, he was speaking with our quarry, and spoke of us as if we were allies of The Grey Face.
We learned little from Taja, but she left thinking of us as allies, which could be useful in the future. We were much more intrigued by our new friend, whose name we eventually learned was Basouk Khalinda.
Kong Day Li was quite hospitable to Feng and company. It seems his alliance to The Grey Face was one more of convenience than ideology. He seemed convinced that the time of The Burned Crow had passed and that his desperate clinging to power was causing more trouble than benefit.
He had arranged a method for the Burned Crow to enter Azu Makeen’s lair so he can kill Lydra Geb before the dragon finds a way to create his own Ancillae, but it would trap him, forcing the two into a battle neither would survive. The Burned Crow would be taking this action during the Prayer Day of Bahjentipaj, two days hence.
A side-remark revealed that Kong Day Li had known Lyr, when she was in Sefet with the Order of the Golden Sun, searching for The Effulgent One. Through him, we learned that Lyr had nearly been successful in rescuing The Effulgent One.
Noza Oda had been kidnapped by The Cobalt Crown, and a desperate Lyr enlisted the Black Phoenix to rescue her. The rescue was successful but the Burned Crow betrayed Lyr, turing her over to the Cobalt Crown, and ransoming the Effulgent One to the Temple of Pelor. With the ransom paid by the temple, Noza was on her way home from Sefet when pirates struck. By this time, however, Lyr had already somehow fallen into the hands of the Ordo Clavis.
Basouk was surprisingly helpful, though I remain deeply suspicious of his motives. He told us what we needed to know: the location of Azu Makeen’s lair. A vault within the Great Vaults of Al Hafiz. He did something to Indira’s vault slip that would allow her access and told us that, if we purchased another deposit slip from the vault, he would be able to doctor that one as well. As he and Taja said, there is only one way into Azu Makeen’s lair, but there are many ways out. One of these exits is within the library of Sefet. If Indira and another companion sneak inside, they would be able to let us in this back door.
The price for his help? To find amongst Azu Makeen’s hoard the Reliquary of Yaddisunu and give it to him with no questions asked.
We regrouped at the temple of Pelor and were able to obtain a spot on the floor to sleep. We shared our findings of the day (after Feng and the others had a chance to bathe) and made some plans.
My companions are asleep now, except perhaps Dendera Seth who seems to keep one eye on me at all times, and I sit apart from them, inside the quiet temple, so many thoughts and emotions running through my heart that they are like the waterdrops of a river. I could not even begin to separate them.
Some days feel like a thousand years.