The next morning, Bunko, Bug, and his new friend Bo Jing made plans to retrieve Bunko’s statue. They visited the Monastery of the Two-Fold Path and solicited the assistance of Sum-Dank, Batzorig, and Sukh. Sum-Dank took an immediate liking to Bunko and the plan to recover Bunko’s statue. Sukh was a little more wary, especially when she learned that Bunko would enlist the help of the Seven Zhounese Brothers. A compromise of sorts was reached. They went to the Brothers’ house and Bunk induced them to apologize for their previous behavior and for what “those crazy dogs did to your friend.” Sum-Dank, at Bunko’s urging accepted their apology and Sukh could little maintain the grudge herself. Indeed, the Brothers seemed less than half-aware of what their own actions. In preparing for the expedition, they brought out a cloth sack obviously full of weapons—which were illegal in Pasar. And seemed to not be sure of each other’s names. Nevertheless, Bunko convinced the others, including Sukh, that they were fearless and thus great in a fight. “I need you all because of your good minds, I need them to be the meat shields.” As a final compromise, Bug would stay behind.
They passed through the gates of Pasar and collected their weapons. (The Brothers had been convinced to leave their illegal weapons at their house and did not have any to claim at the gate. However, Bunko convinced one of the guards that an unclaimed cache of spears belonged to him and so the entire party ventured out well-armed. Except Bunko, who apologized that he was more of a leader than a fighter.
They ventured on the East Road for a few hours and stopped to rest at midday at a campsite just off the road. And then they beat a path north through the forest. Bunko proved a very adept trekker, passing almost unimpeded and silently through brush and vines.
They encountered a group of armed men, some of the wearing scraps of Imperial armor and one with the badge of the Black Flowers. The two groups sized each other up, with some half-casual, half-challenging question about what they were doing in the forest. “No, what are you doing in the forest.” When the groups parted, Sum-Dank suggested to Bunko that they should follow the other group. “They might lead us to their hideout.” Bunko agreed it was a fine plan.
The other men seemed to know they were being followed, taking a circuitous path back toward the road. But the Black Flowers made too much noise to escape pursuit. Towards nightfall, they reached the same campsite where Bunko & friends had eaten their midday meal. Sum-Dank and Batzorig climbed trees to watch them. The Black Flowers called out, “We know you’re there, what do you think we’re doing?” Challenging words soon led to a standoff. The Zhounese brothers entered the clearing and at a mild provocation, attacked in a violent rage. In the fray, one of the Black Flowers escaped, but the rest were killed. Most of the Brothers also sustained injuries, likely at each others’ hands.
Bunko’s friends that that they, too would need to camp for the night in the forest. Sukh set up a watch system, establishing among her old friends (Bat, Bo Jing, and Sum Dank) that at least one of their number should be awake at all times. Sukh herself, took an early watch with Sum-Oov, one of the Zhounese Brothers, who revealed to her that he was not Zhounese at all, but Tuigen like her, and the other men were not even his brothers. He began to complain to her about Bunko, “The only good thing I can say about him right now is he gave me a chance to meet a nice girl like you.” Sukh, indeed, was nice to him, encouraging him to share his feelings and expressing sympathy for his misfortunes.
Sum-Oov, at last, decided to confront Bunko. “I knew it would come to this, Sum-Oov, it always does . . .” Bunko woke up Bo Jing, “I think it’s our turn to watch, my friend.” Sum-Oov drew his weapon. Bo Jing was ready to defend Bunk and Sukh had to intervene, pleading with Sum-Oov to think about his future. “Just go to sleep and think about it in the morning. Lie down here, next to me.” Sum-Oov was placated.
Bo Jing, Bunko, and Farang, one of the Brothers began their watch. About an hour in to the watch, Bunko saw something in the forest, “You saw that right, eyes watching us? And did you hear that?” Farang had fallen asleep. Bo Jing wanted to wake everyone up. “No,” Bunko said, “let’s go see what it is.” They walked out into the forest, following the noise, but found nothing. When they got back to the campsite, Bo Jing was tired. “Go to sleep,” Bunko suggested, “I can finish the watch alone.” Bo Jing did sleep. Later, Bunko woke up Sum-Dank an told him about the watcher. “Just stay alert. Bi-er should watch with you, he’s the least drunk.”
The rest of the night passed without incident. In the morning, it was noticed that Sum-Oov was dead, strangled in his sleep. A couple of the brothers looked at Sukh suspiciously but Bunk defended her. “She wouldn’t have done this, we were being watched last night. By the jungle spirits.”
Wi-Pei was much affected by the death of Sum-Oov and led the other brothers in a wailing funeral. Bunko returned to Pasar. The others made their own way back by the end of the day.