So, based on our characters’ attributes–and lack of them, including no virtues at 4 or higher between Laughing Surf and Jenya, at Alejo’s suggestion I am injecting a coincidence: something all three of us can get riled up about. Add to the story!

The following effects may apply later; work them in as needed: LS has Dog-Tongue Method, so she and Jenya can communicate regardless of their relative shapes. She does not, however, speak Old Realm. LS also has 1st Charisma Excellency, New Friend Aroma and Irresistible Silver Spirit; she will use those for recruitment. Debbie and I have agreed on their cover story, to preserve Kamahl’s secrecy: if anyone asks, they both dreamed on the same night that they would find a companion in this city, matching his cloak-and-mask description. But they will play it off as coincidence if circumstances allow.

“Surf, wake up!”

“Mrr?” Jenya and Laughing Surf had gone to sleep in cat shape on a well-kept balcony, having stayed up much of the night searching for their quarry. They’d had no luck in three days, and had circled from the dense and noisy parts of town to the quieter, wealthier residential areas. This morning they planned to start again. Laughing Surf had slept in, but Jenya was clearly already up, and upset. “Ow! Stop pecking me! What’s wrong?”

Jenya was a goshawk again, and spoke in squawks. “A big slave ship pulled into the harbor yesterday evening while we were up here! They’re holding a big auction in the marketplace! C’mon, we gotta go stop it!”

Five minutes later they were sitting on a rooftop across from a large raised stage platform, both in cat shape so as not to look out of place together. They need not have bothered. Though the market square was packed with more people than usual, all eyes and ears were fixed on the auctioneer and his unfortunate wares.

Laughing Surf surveyed the scene, and her friend’s restless reaction, with trepidation. “Jenya, this is horrible for everyone, but we can’t just pounce down there! Every Dragon-Blood in town will tackle us, and they won’t care if they knock over a few slaves on the way in! Also I…well…haven’t fought much of anything on land yet.” She swished her tail nervously, not relishing the idea of a battle without a nice big ocean underneath to throw foes into.

Jenya growled, the notes of tiger fury audible even in a small cat’s voice. “I can’t just sit here and do nothing while those people get sold off like cattle!”

“I don’t like it either,” Laughing Surf replied. “But…suppose we do manage to tear things up and escape with our lives. We might never find our new friend if the Dragon-Bloods keep watching this place for Lunars. They might even catch him by mistake! Maybe there’s one or two we can follow and rescue later. Or…or even kill the slavers, but not when they’re in the middle of all these people! If we let them get back to their boat and sail off we have a way bigger advantage.”

As they talked, the auction continued. A guard dragged one young woman to her feet and she yelped with the pain of it, fighting back tears. As they made their way to the platform stairs they happened to pass right by the shadowed patch of ground beneath it, though neither of them would have given that a second thought.

…Okay, it’s Choose Your Own Adventure time! Obvious possibilities at this point are (A) Katanashi might be hiding under the platform (B) could take revenge on this guard, or someone else, either now or after the auction’s end when it’s easier to attack unseen, or (C) maybe everyone ends up liking the boat idea, either because lolRPGcoincidence or maybe he’s hiding closer to these cats than I hinted? (D) Jenya abandons caution?? (E) Something else that moves us forward? Write the next step, or throw me some votes in the comments, or DM take the reigns!