A young human approaches as you relax after dinner. He wears a rough linen robe and on his belt is the symbol of Tong Chu—from that, and his shaved head, you realize this must be the young potential that Tong had mentioned a few weeks ago. It appears that the aging Shadow Mage finally took an apprentice.
The young man approaches you, halts the correct distance away and bows deeply.
"Shan-Yu-sama, I am Apprentice Kintaro. Master Chu sends his greetings and hopes your adventures in the under-city have not tarnished your worthy self. He extends an invitation to tea, should you desire to share the contemplations of your experiences."
With a sigh, Tong places his cup upon the tray and motions for Kintaro to take it away. After the youth has gone, he turn to you with a serious expression.
"It is rare that I am able to enjoy the pleasures of a proper tea. You have my thanks.
"But it is not simply for tea that I summoned you. Before us is an opportunity to do great good for the Temple, and in order to take advantage we must play a more active role in Northpoint.
"The Order of the Shining Spear decimated our ranks, and the filthy barbarians," he turns and spits into the corner, "who burned the Temple destroyed untold centuries of knowledge and lore. So much has been lost, and so much more that was never written down. I have attempted to preserve what I can," he gestures to the hundreds of books, scrolls and parchments in the room, "but I can do only so much. The council has been slow to recover, defending the Temple not only from the barbarians but from factions within the Temple. It is the ageless story of power and those who lose what they seek in their attempt to prevent another from succeeding. I an reminded of Shuan-Ya and the Seven Holy Men..."
He pauses, shakes himself, pours himself another cup of tea and continues. "But that is for another time. As you may know, the Temple is not the only magical order dedicated to uncovering the secrets of the shadow realm. Others exist, and one of them—the Midnight Brethren—has joined us in the fight against the Order of the Shining Spear. We are not allies—merely companions on a similar path—but for the moment we walk together.
"The Brethren have sent a representative to Northpoint, where he and I share mysteries." He pauses again, this time apparently hesitant to continue. "His name is Cymric. You may know of him."
At this, Shan-Yu smiles and nods. Then he places his empty scabbard on the table between himself and Master Chu. "All too well, I know Cymric. He stole my sword, and in its place, he left this." Shan-Yu shows the Master Cymric's note. "He also saved me from an army of Skaven who were trying to poison the whole of Northpoint, and helped defeat them. If you vouch for him, Master, I'm prepared to hear him out."
Chu's face hardens and his eyes darken. "I do not vouch for him. He is a corrupted soul—the darkness has bonded with his spirit and hardened his heart. He treats others as things and not as people—he is a powerful, dangerous sociopath. Once he has no further use for us or the Temple, he will see if he can profit from our destruction.
"I find it... uncomfortable to hear he has proved himself valuable to the city, and frightened for you to know your sword is in his possession. You are in great danger.
"But," and he sighs, losing the stiffness and showing his age, "he knows much that the Temple must learn—much that we must regain. We hold the tail of the tiger, and we cannot afford to let go."
There is silence in the chamber for a time.
Stirring himself, Chu's eyes meet your once again. "You have no direct instructions concerning Cymric. He is to be treated as an ally of the Temple and given appropriate treatment, though you would do well to remember he is in the grip of the shadow."
Shan Yu returned the old Master's steady gaze thoughtfully. "Very well. It was careless of me to allow this to happen--now I must bargain for the sword's return, and find out what Cymric's price is. I shall meet him here at the Guild Hall, if possible. If the negotiation goes badly, you may not see me for some time, Master. If it goes well, I don't know what he will require of me. Either way, I assure you I will return."
Tong Chu studied the young man for a short, silent time. Softly breaking the silence he replied "While Cymric may hold knowledge of the Temple's past, do not forget that you are the future."
Setting his cup upon the lacquered table, he indicates the tea is over. "Your return is anticipated."
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