Monday was Feng Shui and now it's Thursday and arrrgh. Doin' the write-up.
The Dragons fought off a bunch of Lotus Eaters at Lord Smoke's village last time, but then Smoke got poisoned and they realized their paths had converged - they needed to find the White Serpent and their Eternal Chameleon master to prevent his resurrection and find an antidote for Smoke. They traveled hard on horseback for days, until they came up on the home of the Ladies of Jade & Ivory, two noblewomen who maintained an opulent household.
They got there and the archers pointed arrows at them, but Smoke explained who they were. A young archer leapt down to talk with them, and Bai Lin recognized him at as Tao Lin, a young man from his home village. Tao seemed concerned, but before he could explain, the Lady Ivory appeared, gliding out to meet the Dragons. She welcomed them in and offered them space to wash up, care for their horses, clean clothes, and dinner.
The Dragons came together for dinner, along with the members of the household and the Ladies themselves. Chrys, herself a student of the Chi Way, knew the Lady Jade from her studies and remembered that she was a fierce and noble warrior, happy to take the field alongside her soldiers. But tonight, Lady Jade was reserved and almost subdued. As she pondered this, Chrys noticed one of the soldiers in the corner raise a dart gun to his lip and fire!).
Chrys reached forward and caught the dart handily, but she wasn't sure who the dude had fired at, and no one else had seen what happened - all the guards saw was a stranger with a dart. Chaos broke out, with some of the guards attacking each other, some attacking the Dragons, and some just trying to guard the Ladies. The Dragons were unarmed, of course, meaning that they were at something of a disadvantage.
Smoke jumped over to one of the guards, disarmed him, and started firing arrows (but sliding the arrowheads off as he did, so he didn't kill anyone, which is a real thing that totally works). One of the guards stood back to back with him. Bai jumped over next to Tao Lin, who said he could explain what was happening, but then the Lady Ivory reached into her robes and flung daggers everywhere (and missed spectacularly, but it did mean there were daggers in the walls for folks to grab).
Celeste started punching out people shooting arrows, but a door opened and a big dude with a club lumbered in. He mixed it up with Smoke, but Smoke stepped back and put an arrow in his foot to keep him in place. The Lady Ivory stood up and entered the fight, but Melody cast a spell and wrapped her up in magic bonds. The big dude saw this, yanked the arrow out of his foot, jumped at Melody and stabbed her in the stomach. Celeste charged the dude, knocking him under a table.
Meanwhile, another lieutenant with a hooked sword arrived and fought with Bai Lin, but neither of them did much damage. Chrys moved from guard to guard, punching them out, and finally Lord Smoke managed to get to the front of the room grab the Ladies, and tell everyone to put a sock in it - no one was here to hurt them (at least, none of the Dragons).
Bai went to ask Tao Lin what was happening, but he'd caught a dagger to the throat, tragically. The dude who'd actually spit the dart plunged two darts into his neck and died rather than talk. Celeste crouched down and listened to Lady Jade, who told her "find the garden."
The characters spoke to the guards, who acknowledged that something was wrong with the Ladies of late, but they weren't sure what. Melody, whom Bai had worked healing magic on, was kept in the infirmary with some of the other wounded. The Dragons decided to search the place.
Celeste did her detective routine, looking for hallways that didn't align and so on. She found one near the Ladies' room, and opened it to find a garden with a huge spiral leading to a corpse-flower in the center...but this corpse-flower was green and white.
Meanwhile, Bai and Smoke did their own searching. Bai felt the presence of the magic in the garden, and they found it soon after Celeste and Chrys did. Bai used his healing petals, but they turned black as they fell from the sky. Something was evil and powerful here.
As they thought about this, the Gardener appeared, brandishing a tool, and scattered petals on the ground. The petals sprang up into warriors, and they attacked! The Dragons made pretty short work of the Gardener, though, between Smoke putting arrows into him and Chrys firing her big gun; he exploded and the warriors with him.
But now...Bai and Smoke looked, and saw a horrible monster with a tentacle coming from its hand, and a zombie-like creature brandishing a weapon of metal and fire! They attacked these monstrosities, which, of course, turned out to be Celeste and Chrys. Celeste managed to use her ritual disruption to free Bai, but then Smoke turned around and shot all three of them with arrows. Bai managed to leap over to him and realign his energies to free him, but now the Dragons were wounded and newly aware of the threat this garden posed.
Celeste used her knowledge of ritual magic and Bai called down healing petals, and between them, they cleansed the site of its poisoned Chi. The Ladies arrived both now invigorated, and thanked them for their help. They gave Smoke a pouched of special tea that would stave off the worst effects of the poison, but warned him that the Creeping Black poison would kill him eventually if he couldn't find the antidote. They sent a contingent of soldiers with the Dragons to find and stop the Eternal Chameleon, and the Dragons left the House of Jade and Ivory to move along in their journey.