In the week that three of the Solar Exalted were in the village of Cot, the Council of 100 had elected Diep Thi to the position of Minister-Prince.
On the 27th of Descending Earth, Locke, Sarnai, and Kalanthes returned to Nathir. Jin had spent the intervening time training both the Dragon’s Coin and a growing Nathir militia recruited out of the poor quarter. All of the Exalted noted, however, the arrival of the airship that swept into the town and landed on the river. Sarnai went her own way to consider some issues, but Jin, Locke and Kalanthes converged on the docks, where the ship stopped to allow the passengers to disembark.
The commander of the Lookshy Sky Guard, Taimyo Nefvarin Shou-Yu (Kalanthes’s cousin) greeted Jin, who inquired into the purpose of the arrival. Lookshy, informed of the multiple threats facing Nathir, had dispatched a Dragon of soldiers, including heavy infantry, rangers, artillery, and warstriders, to bolster the defense of the city. Shou-Yu intended to ask Kalanthes for access to his repair and technical facilities for the benefit of the troops arriving. Jin accompanied the Taimyo out to Kalanthes’s estate, with Kalanthes, who had only observed the proceedings from a distance, going ahead to prepare. The meeting between the cousins was tense, but an agreement was reached for paid access to Kalanthes’s facilities.
Upon arrival home, the Exalted received a letter from Kado, informing them that the Night Caste had left to seek training in the South. The letter was met with some consternation, but little could be done about it at the moment.
While Jin and Kalanthes engaged in another extended debate about their purpose in Creation, Locke was enraptured by the sight of the 12-foot Warstriders. She asked a staff officer to borrow one, and was rebuffed. As Locke asked to speak to the Taimyo and things began to become heated, a servant came to draw the quarreling Exalted out to perhaps corral their exuberant friend. When they walked out of Kalanthes’s home, however, a surprise was waiting for them – Jin and Zen noted Kado lying in wait in one of the towers just as he loosed a perfect arrow shot at Kalanthes. Jin responded with a perfect defense that parried the arrow to the ground. The arrow was coated in the same toxin that Sarnai had developed for Tsuto Toyokuni’s bride and had a note attached. The note said that the archer believed he could work with the Exalted, but that further threats against “her” would result in him destroying them and the city entirely. The Circle surmised that the shooter was likely Tsuto or dispatched by him, which triggered some concern, as the archer looked exactly like Kado, to include manifesting his Night Caste Mark when he magically empowered the shot.
As part of an experiment to demonstrate their capabilities, Kalanthes asked Locke to proselytize about the Unconquered Sun to the soldiers of Lookshy on the following morning. When the massive Northerner did so, her rhetorical talents and magical powers combined to fill the soldiers with righteous hope and they flocked around the woman that, a day before, they had been ready to arrest. When Jin argued that he was still seeking some greater cause to dedicate his talents to, Kalanthes noted a small white mouse run out of Jin’s boot and flee the room. Neither Jin nor Zen saw the mouse and it took some convincing, but Jin inspected his boots, which he adored above almost all things, and discovered a white hair within. Now incensed (No one messes with Jin’s boots), Jin walked back out with Kalanthes and they collected Locke to go into town. Presenting Locke with the hair, Jin demanded an explanation as to what the King of the Gods was up to. Locke answered that she did not know, but would be willing to ask. Kalanthes acquired an extravagant assortment of incense mixed with flakes of gold and Locke made a prayer to the Unconquered Sun in a secluded area. When she did so, a great tide of mice swarmed over her, with one whispering in her ear that they were the Mice of the Unconquered Sun, and Locke was struck with a memory from another life of mice who, in their own way, worked to undermine the enemies of righteousness. Locke declared that the presence of the mouse was clearly a blessing for Jin, though Jin seemed dubious.
In the poor quarter, now cleaner and more peaceful than perhaps ever before in its history, Locke and Jin made a discovery about the population’s relationship with Kalanthes. Jin called over a resident and asked him and received confirmation – several of the townsfolk had begun worshiping Kalanthes for his beneficence in rebuilding the quarter and providing sanitation. Kalanthes was shocked. Locke was incensed. Jin was amused. Kalanthes refused to do anything, affirming or negating, regarding this existential crisis at first, but, at Jin’s encouragement, he gave the worshiper a jade oboul before he departed.
The Solars met at a dive bar with Phan Hai, the leader of the Magnificent Dogs gang, and the new guise of the Lunar Exalted, Copper Hound. First, Kalanthes made a deal with the gang that they would seek out a good location for the new hospital, and would receive, in exchange, a 5% finder’s fee of any property purchase price. In exchange for this consideration, the circle asked the gang to begin investigating the circumstances around Vinh Banh and Quy Banh, the two ministers that had spoken to the former Minister-Prince just before his unexpected suicide. Arranging a private discussion with Copper Hound, the Circle warned her about Tsuto and informed her of what had happened with the attack by “Kado.” Copper Hound, in turn, used the opportunity to get to know Locke better, asking her about the Northerner’s intentions and ambitions.
Following that discussion, Jin and Kalanthes went to Jin’s office and summoned Hirose Maiko, Captain of the Dragon’s Coin. Thinking him a typical mercenary, they offered him a generous pension to step down from command of the Dragon’s Coin before the very perilous activities ahead. The Captain surprised them by offering to surrender command to anyone thought appropriate, so long as he could stay and fight alongside his men. Accepting the man’s valor as genuine, they agree to his terms. He would be demoted to Lieutenant and the Dragon’s Coin would have a new commander – Jin.
And here we paused.