Tonight we played Palanquin by Jason Pitre in which we hear the tale of how five loyal courtiers escorted Princess Ulku-alzi to the safety of her aunt’s palace after her family had been killed in a coup. Besides the princess, our company includes Lan the Faithful who leads our worship of the goddesses; Ulu the Veteran whose heyday was long ago; Xanling the Scholar, an outcast from another land who has tutored the Princess; Periani the Hunter who saved the Princess’s life recently on her first royal hunt; and Illic the Shadow, a criminal who escaped out of the dungeons right into our flight.
We begin by fleeing the palace into the surrounding town, trying to find a way out through the night market. After procuring a cloak to hide the Princess, a group of soldiers from the palace begin searching the market. Illic the Shadow deftly guides the group away from the soldiers and into a dark alleyway filled with unsavory characters, so we avoid the patrols as we make our way into the smuggler’s tunnels beneath the city.
In these drainage tunnels we run into a number of problems, the least of which are the various creatures scurrying about, but little do we suspect that the creatures are fleeing the rising tide of the waters rushing into the tunnels. Ulu the Veteran tries to find a path he thinks he remembers from the war, but everywhere he turns leads deeper in rather than out. Xanling the Scholar finally finds a hidden compartment with a lever inside; he pulls the lever and a stone closes the tunnel behind us, cutting off the flow of water and the roar of the approaching flood. Next we encounter a group of the nights watch, rousting through the tunnels, but they’re no match for our Veteran, who disarms and routs them easily. But the greatest challenge is a lone palace guardsman who claims to be here to take the Princess to safety. First, Lan the Faithful tries to convince the guard he must be anointed in the waters before he can have the Princess, but the guard ignores her and grabs the Heir. The Scholar steps in to challenge the guard’s authority and position, but he appears to truly be a member of the palace guard. Losing patience and alarmed seeing the guard hurting the Heir in his grip, Periani the Hunter sends forth his falcon to attack the guard, which comes at the guard’s eyes with talons flashing, chasing him back up the entrance and away from us.
As we emerge from the tunnels at last, we see the holy river and a small village and remote temple across the water. We check that everyone is well and discover ticks covering the Princess’s cloak, which the Shadow brushes off before the Hunter gives her a tincture to protect her. Lan the Faithful asks the priests at the shore for a boat to cross the river, and they provide one, but rather than cross the river, we immediately head down it using magic-driven paddles. We are making good time until river pirates appear and surround the boat. Illic the Shadow tries to convince them that we’re poor travelers with nothing worth taking, but they know their quarry and persist. Lan the Faithful tosses each pirate a stone with the squiggly-lined sigil of Malsana, which immediately sends each into gastronomic distress, and we easily leave them behind as they retch and clutch their guts.
Safely ensconced in her Aunt Baru’s palace, Princess Ulku-azi judges the trustworthiness of each bearer and rewards them according to her judgment. To Ulu the Veteran, bearer of warfare who defeated the night watch in the tunnels, she grants a future favor from her royal person. Knowing that Periani the Hunter, bearer of nature who warded off the guardsman, cares not for worldly treasure, Her Highness bestows upon him a lifetime of hunting unmolested on royal grounds. She graciously gives Lan the Faithful, bearer of religion and the curser of stones, one week’s head start before being arrested, being too dangerous to walk free. Her Highness appoints Xanling the Scholar, bearer of society and learning who disguised her in the market and stopped the floodwaters, as royal counselor in the court. And for Illic the Shadow, convicted criminal who led her through the alley into the smuggler’s tunnels to escape the capital, she gifts a small chest of gold and a royal pardon for service well-rendered.