Laughing Crane and Ba Jiao,
It's a few weeks before summer solstice and the hills are lush with growth, though the heat sometimes grows oppressive. You're both sitting at a tea house in Guobei, waiting for the arrival of an older Imperial Woman named Hu Yiping. She's requested a meeting with you through ugly little Sharwen, one of her underlings who approached you where you were staying here in Guobei.
Laughing Crane, how long have you been in Guobei, and how did you hear of the legend of the Sunless Citadel?
Ba Jiao, you heard a rumor that Hu Yiping recently lost both her son and daughter, that they "simply disappeared without a trace". How did you find that out?
The Happy Songbird Tea House, the place you're in right now just after midday, has tables under a wide roof, with huge open windows letting in the breeze and the sun, with small birdcages hanging throughout the place. Small singing birds sit in these cages, chirping and singing their odd tunes. The people of Guobei feed the birds when they like their songs. The birds are well fed. The young women who serve tea here are of mixed Imperial blood, with long, fine black hair and almond eyes, tight smiles that they offer to those who seem like they are good tippers.
Both of you, have you been to Happy Songbird Tea House before? What is it that you find most pleasant about this place?
You see Hu Yiping arriving in a small palanquin. Ba Jiao, you recognize her family seal on the palanquin. Laughing Crane, you note that Sharwen was walking behind the palanquin. The palanquin is carried by three stout Kueh men and one Kueh woman, all wearing simple gray robes cut short to maximize freedom of movement. They move to help Hu Yiping out of her seat, but she's obviously not so aged to be infirm. It's merely a formality. She steps with a practiced grace down the lacquered wooden steps and with Sharwen behind her, she slowly makes her way towards the tea house. The Kueh stay behind. It's obvious to the two of you that they are laborers, not warriors.
What do you do?