Our tale begins in the village of Tirang, south of the Tengese city known as Adorned with Wisdom as a Sapphire. In this village is gathered a small resistance force of martial artists, intending to overthrow the local Dragon-Blooded “ruler”, Cynis Morgrim, who does little but drink and sleep around.
Due to the anarchy that would follow in the wake of his death, the cell leader – Navishim – has called for a mercenary from the famous Eiderhart family, one that might rally the locals around his sword and overthrow those loyal to the Exalt once he is dead.
So it was that Setharian Eiderhart came to enter Tirang, with his father’s sword upon his back. He entered the village during the monsoon period, and was stopped by three guards. Not knowing that bearing a sword was outlawed in An-Teng, he refused to let the guardsmen have it, and as a result, he was ridden down by a horse and thrown in jail.
Now, word of this came to the Resistance leader, and she called to her two members of the movement: Blood Moon Rising and Liberty the alchemist. These were tasked with rescuing Setharian from prison before the Dragon-Blood heard of his crime – for the Exalt was still blissfully asleep after a night of revelry, but as soon as he awoke he would surely order the criminal be tortured to death.
Liberty the alchemist concocted eight-scream devil powder with which he might cause a distraction, and made it seem as though some part of town was on fire. Blood Moon Rising, meanwhile, moved by stealth into the bailiff’s prison, where he found Seth was already escaping, beating down the door with a smith’s hammer. Each man was forced to slay a guard in their attempts to escape, but Seth managed to reclaim his father’s sword before they ran to safety – being hidden by a young girl named Rena, who had followed Setharian from his home village. She was the one who had gotten the hammer in through the bars in his window.
Meanwhile, Liberty arranged so that it would seem the fire came from the old amphitheater, built by Anathema in some distant past. This so frightened the guards and the entire village, that a curfew was ordered.
Now the men and women gathered in Navishim’s home: Blood Moon Rising, Liberty, Setharian, Rena, and two local men recruited for the cause: Ashander the farm-hand, and the nobleman Inshabiv Kensaro, whom Blood Moon Rising had overheard expressing dislike of Cynis Morgrim. There, they discussed what must be done: Setharian must be hidden from the authorities, Kensaro must be trained in the use of a blade so that he might contribute in the fight, and the habits of the Dragon-Blood must be investigated, so that the resistance would know when to strike.
The following day, it was arranged so, that Setharian would teach Rena and Kensaro to fight in the forest, in a spot where Kensaro would herd his elephants. Meanwhile, Liberty and Blood Moon Rising would investigate Riku’s teahouse, where Cynis Morgrim would often go to drink and carouse.
So it was that Seth hid in the saddlebags of an elephant, and took to the jungle with Kensaro and Rena, where he supervised their skill with their weapons: A long dagger and a spread-the-water knife, traditionally used by Tengese men. They practiced there all day, until strange echoes of a gong came from within the jungle – Kensaro then warned them, that they must make haste to leave, for this gong is the sound of the kaleyi, strange monsters native to An-Teng. Kensaro insisted, that the two foreigners must gain the protection of the Golden Lord, the Tengese God, before they could train any more in the forest.
Meanwhile, Liberty learned from Riku’s waiter Karl, that Riku was a very reserved woman, who would never drink with customers. She would stick her neck out for nobody, and would probably not be willing to aid any cause. This troubled Liberty, for having her help would be greatly valuable. Fortunately, he had prepared a plan.
So it had been arranged, that Liberty would offer to sell a new blend of tea to Riku. She accepted, and as it were Blood Moon Rising smuggled an alchemical mixture, which Liberty had prepared, into the tea-kettle. Liberty mistakenly thought the drug had been added to Riku’s cup only, and so they both drank the tea from the kettle, and were both affected by sudden passion and interest in each other.
They retired to Riku’s office and personal room, there to hold conversation. Blood Moon Rising, who had been told two doses of the drug would be necessary, waited without her window until an hour had passed, and then scattered drops of the drug into their tea again. Both were once more afflicted by the drug, and they fell in love.
Blood Moon Rising returned to Navishim, to inform her that the alchemist would be occupied for the night, and also that while at Riku’s teahouse, he had spied a courtesan whom the Dragon-Blood favored – he feared she might be a martial artist, for there was a grace to her movement.
Setharian and Blood Moon Rising now went to see a Guildsman named Joras. Joras told them that he could sell some “spice” and “cutlery” to aid their cause if the price was right. They struck a deal, and smuggled into Navishim’s house strange herbs and fine spear-tips and short blades, which could be used to assemble an army. Joras was well paid for this service.