It had been a hot, peaceful summer, and all was well in Nethys (as well as ever, anyway). Zhi visited his occasional companion Terran Locke, and they were sipping wine (and tea, for Zhi) in the softening heat of the summer evening when they heard cries from some distance away. Jeftan, a lieutenant of Terran, ran into the house with a report of a mob forming on Shining Moon Street: one of the sewer gods’ shrine had been defiled, the altar stone stolen, and there were rumors of a coming plague. The mob was complaining that the Vedna – an ethnic group from a remote region that had been immigrating the Nethys in droves recently – were to blame. The crowd threatened to turn ugly.
Terran sent Jeftan to gather as many of his people as possible, and he and Zhi rode to Shining Moon Street. Once there, they split up: Zhi went to investigate the shrine of Lamalech, the most prominent local sewer god, while Terran went to meet his people and try to break up the crowd.
Terran arrived on the scene to find the mob was growing and starting to march toward the district where most of the Vedna worked, with people still pouring in from the side streets to join it. Jeftan had rallied about fifteen men, and was still out looking for more. Terran used his Mastery of Small Manners to gauge the mob, then had some of his people form a perimeter while he and the rest marched through the crowd in close formation to the head, intending to cut off their advance.
Meanwhile, Zhi arrived to find a bereaved crowd around Lamalech’s shrine, a humble structure missing its blue altar stone. He addressed the crowd and interviewed the man who’d discovered the stone missing, and then made a sacrifice and invoked the god himself. Sensing Lamalech’s presence, he used his Spirit Detecting Glance to converse with the god, and quelled Lamalech’s anger with the promise of regular sacrifices until the stone was returned.
He pledged to personally ensure the stone’s return, and learned that Lamalech has seen the stone stolen by “unkempt”, non-human creatures who walked on four legs. He also noticed that Lamalech seemed not only angry, but oddly unwell. The god revealed that something was disturbing his waters, and when Zhi promised to investigate, Lamalech said he would provide him signs through the lichen growing on the sewer walls. He had odd difficulty remembering the word for “lichen.”
After admonishing the crowd to make sure they sacrificed to the god every day in order to keep Lamalech from cursing them with a plague, Zhi ran to join Terran, who had formed his men into a line and turned to address the crowd. Calling on his fearsome power of personality and addressing the crowd as individuals to cow them further, he confronted the drunken rabble-rouser at the head of the crowd and, calling on his own reputation and pointing out the absurdity of tearing down a whole district to find a stone, stopped the crowd started to diminish it, racing the clock to disperse it completely before the cohorts could arrive.
The drunken core of the crowd almost rushed Terran, but Zhi’s timely arrival (after some clever navigating and an impressive burst of speed) with the news that Lamalech had been propitiated and that the Vedna had not stolen the stone prevented them. Terran promised the crowd that he would take responsibility for finding the stone, and it largely dispersed. A last few would-be rioters, itching for a fight, were dispersed when Terran called all of this people to his side and found that more men rallied by Jeftan had joined them. The drunk leading the crowd stumbled away in defeat, and Zhi, Terran and his crew cleared the scene before the cohorts could arrive.
Zhi filled in Terran on everything he’d learned, and they decided to search Lamalech’s sewers that night, accompanied by some of Terran’s men. Carrying torches, the small band made their way carefully threw the sewers and fought some odd wild dogs, sickly creatures with an unnatural strength. Led by Lamalech’s lichen-sign, they found a deep, foul pool underneath a warehouse’s large sewer grate, and noted two trapdoors in the grate, one too small for a human to pass through – which they noticed slam closed suddenly several moments after they arrived.
While they considered their next move, one of Terran’s men was attacked by an invisible assailant, and almost fell in. Terran and his people pulled their fallen comrade back into the tunnel, while Zhi used his Spirit Detecting Glance and saw a small creature, a monkey with a scorpion’s tail, scampering up the wall towards the small opening in the grate. He used his Monkey Leap Technique to jump up to the creature and bash it with his staff. It fell, and Terran was suddenly able to see it as well, and slashed it with his knives as it fell past him into the murky water. Watching the water carefully, Terran ordered one of his standing followers to carry his fallen comrade out of the sewers while the other ran ahead to get a doctor.
Zhi, fearing another attack from above, suspended himself from the rough hand holds leading up to the grate, and managed to open the larger trap door in the grate. He went into the warehouse to find himself surrounded by caged animals roused by the noise of the trap door, with guards coming to investigate the sound. He hastily replaced the grate and used his Monkey Leap Technique to hide among the rafters, hiding his now shining caste mark by tying his sash around his forehead. The guards quieted the animals, and noticed the trap doors had moved. They worried that the “flitterjack” had escaped again. When they walked off, Zhi lept down from the rafters and opened the grate for Terran.