Beatriss’s friends were concerned by Beatriss’s sudden departure from the city—and were even more distressed when Neetla returned to Pasar without her. They made careful inquiries around Pasar. Those who offered theories believed that Neetla had caused her disappearance—either that he had killed or that he had placed her in a prison in the jungle or that she had in fact never left the city and was instead held captive in the monastery.
Neetla’s explanation was strange: their guide, a monk, led them astray, and they had been captured by giant spiders. As proof, he pointed to the captive he’d brought back from the jungle—a young woman whom Neetla referred to as “the queen of the spiders.” He explained that he and his companions had escaped the spider and taken their queen prisoner, but that Beatriss had simply disappeared—either she had been devoured by spiders or (and Neetla considered this more likely) she had evaded their capture. Tetsukichi had reasons to agree that the second possibility was more likely—Beatriss did have the magic sword of invisibility.
At one of these inns, he encountered, Golfo and Phi Phong. They had recently arrived in Pasar after a difficult and dangerous journey from the Sansar grazing lands. They had no information about Beatriss, but they did have news that made Tetsukichi realize he needed to take some kind of action. The lizard people were continuing to harass the Sansar clans, making increasingly bolder raids on the clan’s herds. Meanwhile, the Emperor’s troops were gathering in Menkan. They were charged with finding Governor Goyat—and his many pursuers—General Kawabi, Gwinch, Tetsukichi and Golfo, a monk named Tsao Ho. The Emperor, it was rumored, considered the Sansar clan likely traitors. Golfo and Phi Phong had followed Tetsukichi to Pasar either to ask his help in defeating the lizard people, or to continue the emperor’s—and more than either of these to avoid the Emperor’s agents. He was willing to follow Tetsukichi in pursuing either objective. He was even willing to help him look for Beatriss. But he didn’t want to be in Pasar when the Emperor’s agents arrived.