Ruko travels to The Temple of the Silver Celestials to meet with Wei Zhang, who has summoned him for an unspecified purpose. He is allowed in by a set of sentries, who are beings shrouded in black energy with intense starry eyes. Wei is connecting stars along the crystal ceiling. Steel Sunset lays nearby, napping.
Once he finishes his weaving, Wei Zhang and Ruko speak about whispered rumors coming from the nearby town of Pine Acre. It has been said that a group of Terrestrial Exalted have arrived from The Blessed Isle seeking tribute from the small towns. Wei asks Ruko to go talk with the people of the town and assess the situation. He is to report back once he has discovered and should be on the lookout for any activity by the Order of the Silver Serpent.
After setting out, Ruko gets a bit lost and ends up at Lake Carda. There he runs into a woman bathing. She has fiery red hair down to her butt. There is also a pile of her clothing nearby, including a large sword with a red blade. She notices him and shrieks, forcing him to turn his back while she gets dressed. Despite being extremely annoyed with him, she ends up showing him the way toward Pine Acre before leaving to the south.
Ruko eventually shows up, but the people of Pine Acre are wary of him. He goes to an inn— The Woodworker’s Alehouse. He’s greeted by an elderly man with graying hair standing behind the wooden bar. The innkeeper tells Ruko about someone who came into town making demands. He overhears some tavern dwellers talking about the man who came through as well as guards that will be returning.
The carts arrive during the night. They circle the wagons, and the leader heads toward the opposite part of town toward the Mayor’s house. After meditating, Ruko jumps from his room and starts stalking the man, ending up at the Mayor’s house. He sneaks into the cellar and eventually up into the kitchen where he hears voices. He hears the man he followed demand extra money in exchange for the safety of the mayor’s daughter. Ruko sneaks out and monkey leaps back into the tree and over the wall once again.
The next morning Ruko visits with the Mayor. Ruko claims to be Wu-Jong from Jades and makes up a story of the mysterious man, who he learns is named Marin, doing something similar in “his own town.” The Mayor, distraught, tells Ruko that 5 Dragon Blooded are wandering that area and that Marin is traveling back to his town in Larjyn. Ruko offers to help for little more than some rations and a horse, and the Mayor takes him up on the offer.
Ruko follows after them, stopping that night and sneaking upon their camp. He snoops around as the guards sleep for some useful information. He finds a scroll, nearly wakes up the guards, and heads back to his own camp. He finds a map leading to a “Moonsilver Manse.”