Session 19

The characters run back to the Yellow Lantern district, only to find the urokobito shops on fire. Dozens of urokobito — men, women, and children — are sitting in street, beaten and bloody.

Aikawa Kosami, the urokobito merchant who the characters have rescued more than once, is slumped against a rock, watching his business burn to the ground. When he sees the characters, he looks away, but answers their questions. He states that the Golden Hornets were responsible, and that they told him that the characters couldn’t protect the merchants any more — that they were the only ones that could offer protection.

Saeko encourages him to help look for survivors. He’s clearly in shock, but he gets up and rounds up other merchants to start searching. A few guardsmen arrive to help tend to the wounded and contain the fires. Miyo uses prestidigitation to quell embers and small flare ups.

The characters join the effort to look for survivors. They find a few urokobito trapped in buildings and pull them to safety. Once they are convinced that everyone is safe, they track the yakuza to a well in the center of the neighborhood. There they see a yakuza thug climb down into the well. They investigate, and find lots of sooty footprints around the area of the well.
Before giving chase, they go back to the Fragrant Fern to get suited up. Asami knows enough about the sewers to know that her guild typically stays away from them, as they are sprawling and labyrinthine, and filled with unpleasant creatures. She’d much prefer to be sneaking along the rooftops.

While at the inn, the characters ask around to see if they can find out anything about the sewers. A few old-timers talk about that one time they ran into something big and scary down there. A local historian describes the haphazard construction of the sewers, and the sprawling layout that developed as the city was built up.

As they head back, they discuss alternatives to going down in the sewers, They attempt to ask the local urokobito about the comings and goings of the Golden Hornets, but they don’t get much information that’s useful. The urokobito just know that they come and threaten them and beat them up if they don’t pay. They don’t know where the yakuza live, and have never seen them coming out of the sewers before.

While Asami is strongly resistant to going down the sewer, the group eventually rules out any other approach as impractical. So, down they go. As they climb down, they notice that the sewers are constructed of moderately study brick, but the constant heat and humidity have left them seeing better days.

They are able to track sets of sooty footprints through the twisting passages until they get to an area of standing water. They cross, wading through knee-deep water at points, and dancing around unstable-looking sewer grates at others. When they reach the other side, they notice that sludgy footprints continue on, but quickly fade out. The soot, which provided a useful tracking mechanism, has been washed away.

Undaunted, the characters forge on. After a number of twists and turns, they hear chanting coming from behind a wall. The group stops to investigate. Asami finds a secret door, detects and disables a trap, and picks the lock. She then sneaks into the room, hides in the shadows, and observes three cultists at work in front of a brazier and an alchemical bench. She reports back to the group, and they decide to engage.