They made plans for their return to Pasar, debating how they would avoid the vampire swamp. Before they had made any final decisions, they were awakened one morning by their servants, warning them t requirhat there were imperial servants in the village, asking questions about them—and based on discussions among the villagers, it seemed likely that someone would answer those questions.
Rather than run away, the company asked to meet the soldiers. They were three, and they were still asleep when Beatriss and Tetsukichi arrived. Thrown on their back foot by their sudden good fortune, the soldiers couldn’t help but hide their happiness, and when they tried to assume an intimidating air, and demand that Tetsukichi return with them to Khanbaliq and explain himself to the empire, the company’s eagerness (“Sure, can we leave today?”) knocked them flat. There were questions about Gwinch, Goyat, and Kawabi, but after some bluffing about a need for proof about Tetsukichi’s victory, the soldiers agreed that they had enough success to show at least to justify a report to their superiors if not to the Emperor himself.
The journey back was slow. The party’s maps were poor and their memories were foggy. Everything was green and there was no horizon.
Slow, but uneventful, as return journeys often are. The travelers stopped in one village where the soldiers rested while the party members accepted work on a construction project. Not only did this help them avoid having to pay for bowls of rice with rubies, it also let them find out some information the vampire swamp. One of the workers pulled Beatriss aside, eager to pass on some secret information. He told her that she could meet “the others” in a field near a village on the other side of the swamp. And he gave her detailed instructions for avoiding the dangers of the swamp. He also stressed the importance of her bringing the ones she was traveling with. After this, the worker challenged Tetsukichi to a friendly, no-weapons fight. Tetsukichi accept the fight and was hurt quite badly by the worker’s strange maneuvers. The priests intervened with their magic. The worker shrugged off the spells, but ended the fight, winking at Beatriss as he walked away.
The workers instructions proved helpful. The journey through the swamp was long, but they avoided not only the vampire, but also the giant leeches, and the plague that, according to the soldiers, had killed many of their companions. Weeks later as they wee nearing Pasar, Beatriss recommend a detour based on the mysterious worker’s comments the field where she would meet “the others.”
The field was full of snakes and the snakes led the party to a hole in the ground. The party walked down into the hole and encountered more snakes, these ones translucent spectral forms that flew through the air. Tetsukichi hinted that perhaps they did not want to meet “the others. Beatriss reluctantly agreed.
The group reached Pasar. The soldiers made a report to their commanders. The commanders questioned the party, and like their subordinates seemed satisfied that they could not return home claiming success. Also in Pasar were Beatriss’s children and Tetsukichi’s family. After a happy reunion, Su-Laing explained that she had demanded to be escorted over the mountains to find her husband. She explained that the Sansar clan, hemmed in by lizardfolk and imperial harassers had deserted its grazing grounds near Menkan and migrated westwards. Kreppu-san and Sukh,two brave warriors, and Shoji, a shaman had assisted them in their encounterswith lizardfolk and guardian statues. Sadly, Su-Laing’s maidservant had been killed by the guardian statue. The fox-children’s nurses had died in the high cold mountain.
After a week or so of organizing and false starts, Beatriss & Tetsukichi, escorted by the imperial soldiers, now numbering over a hundred, made its way north and east.
They passed through Quitokai, finding the squalid village now engulfed by an imperial garrison. Menkan, too, had an even stronger martial and imperial presence.
After several weeks of uneventful travel through the empire, the party reached the capital, and were brought before the Emperor. The Emperor’s ministers were visibly surprised by His Imperial Majesty’s delighted and trusting interest in the party’s outlandish tale, and then surprised everyone when he announced he knew the exact date when they had triumphed over Goyat. Without revealing how he knew, he announced the date, and the party confirmed that he was correct.
The Emperor showered gifts on Tetsukichi and Golfo (who had officially received the mission) and also on Beatriss (whose joint leadership was likewise commendable). He informed Tetsukichi and Golfo that he would call on them again in the future, and give them additional opportunities to win honor and esteem for themselves and the Sansar clan. Turning to Beatriss, he asked her accept a post in Imperial City. Would she the Supreme Commander of the Guards of the Women’s Palace? The position was important and also delicate, as the Emperor was loath to allow the Palace’s resident to come in contact with any man. And yet Beatriss’s fighting prowess and martial leadership seemed to exceed that of most of the men in his Empire. Beatriss, however, declined, and the Emperor did not argue.
The Emperor dismissed the heroes. Tetsukichi and Golfo were instructed to take up residence in a walled compound in the Green Zone as official representatives of the Sansar clan. Beatriss was provided an apartment within the Imperial City itself.