A few weeks have passed.
Ling Pei is gone
Scott is chilling in his neighborhood as he runs into an old acquaintance, Chung Sook, from Chinatown. “Ling Pei is gone! We haven’t seen her in days. Her shop is closed down since Friday.”
Her shop in Chinatown has herbs & a dojo. The assistant is there, Susan Chan. “She was here last Friday, everything seemed normal. She had had appointments I had to cancel at the last minute. Nothing serious with the triads recently, so it’s hard to imagine them behind this.”
Chung is an advanced student in her school of bagua.
In her office, Hoffman can see that her aura signature is on a bunch of mundane things … plus a particular book. It turns out to be at least a hundred years old, leatherbound, with an eye on the cover but written in an Asian mystery language. Thai maybe?
A drawer with a false bottom reveals another book with a lock on it. Hoffman looks at it with the Sight. There’s a cloud around it. Laughter & chanting. A seven-pointed star around the lock. Ivan cuts the strap, doing an end run around the lock. The book turns out to be her journal. She’s doing work around Chinese energetic magic. The other book is about the magic of the Khmer Eye; some kind of old battle magic.
Susan: “Hey, Sonny is Cambodian, one of the key students. His uncle came in to talk to Ling Pei.” Indeed, there are numerous appointments in the her calendar, and in the diary it seems they’ve been using dragon blood.
Scott calls Sonny. “My uncle talked to Ling Pei several times. He lives in lower Polk.” We take her journal and the Eye.
Some Chinese guys in suits come in. They look scary. “Where Ling Pei? She promised to meet us now.” Susan is scared, tries to keep them from going into her office. One of the thugs says to Scott. “I don’t like the look of you. Let me look in your backpack.” So Scott force rings him in the face, knocking him clear across the room. Ivan spits in the other guy’s eye. Hoffman blinds the third guy. We make short work of the thugs.
“I suggest you state your business with Ling Pei.”
“I’m here for my boss. She was supposed to deliver something to him, and she’s late.” We now have hair samples.
Hoffman: “We would like to meet with your boss.”
The thug calls the boss, and Hoffman arranges a meet. The thugs leave, and we have another word with Susan.
“These shady characters come by twice a month, have a quick word with Ling Pei. I don’t know more than that.”
Ivan borrows a sword.
Dim sum with Victor Wong
Hoff and Scott go into the dim sum place, while Ivan hangs back to act as the cavalry.
The boss, Victor Wong, says, “Ling Pei came to me six weeks ago, looking for people resources. From the underground. We’re looking for the Eye of The Dragon, we loaned it to Ling Pei because she does things for us. We have our disagreements but things have been good between us. Last I heard she was looking around Bernie’s Market in the Underground. I’ve got a bad feeling.”
“It’s not just an emerald.”
“No, it’s not. It’s been in my family for generations. Supposedly it gives visions and guarantee success in business. She was interested in it being the Eye of the Dragon.”
We got to Ling’s apartment.
We take one of her hairs from the brush. A few addresses in Chinatown Underground. Notes on her magical researches.
Lady tries to hit us with a frying pan. “Joe is dead! They came asking for him. Three Cambodian guys in purple pinstriped suits, looking for Joe and a book. He had a horrible accident at the butcher shop where he works.” “Something about Cambodian history and the ‘Eye of the Dragon’, sorcerers who worked for one of the old kings.”
The place has been ransacked. But Mrs. Joe is able to find some notes.
The butcher shop
Scott leads by asking. “I’m a friend of Joe’s nephew Sonny Som.”
“There was a freak accident with the slicer, the blade came lose and cut off his arm, when he fell he hit his head. Everybody loved Joe.”
Hoffman looks at the slicer with the Sight. Signs of magical tampering on the bolt holding it together. There’s an echo of the blade flying out. Ivan pockets the bolt.
We ask about the guys in purple pinstriped suits. The shopkeeper says they came by before Joe’s accident and had an argument with Joe.
Making plans at the Hoffcave
Scott tells Sonny about the purple pinstripe suit guys. Scott finds an Asian-language bookstore on google. There’s an exhibit at the Asian Art Museum about the Treasures of the Khmer Empire. So we go.
Scott tracks down Lucy Liu, the curator of the exhibit, who is planning a gala tomorrow night.
“What do you know about the Eye of the Dragon?”
She blanches, but fakes ignorance and blows him off … and now he has security guys tailing him.
Hoffman keeps an eye out for an item with magical mojo. Sure enough, there’s a sculpture the size of two refrigerators of a dragon … missing an eye. The description is “this depicts the great dragon which laid waste to blah blah blah”.
Bernie pointed to the Khmer tattoo parlor.
The Shadow Corridor is a Chinatown Underground area which has recently been revived. “Be careful.”
So we go to the tattoo parlor. They do Cambodian magic tattoos. There’s a tattooist marked up with actually magical magic tattoos.
“Can you help me? I’m a student of Ling Pei’s.”
“Last time I talked to her she was going to the Shadow Corridor.”
Stopping to think
The purple pinstripe guys are “new on the scene” in the last six months. Making moves at the docks, smuggling.
The Shadow Corriodor
An actual corridor, very shadowy. Homeless people’s nest. Big metal doors. We get past the doorman with the password, “Eye of the Dragon” … then KO him when he goes to call it in.
At the end of the corridor there are three purple pinstripe guys torturing Ling Pei in a magic circle. Scott zaps the circle, and breaking it produces a big boom. One of the guys demons out. We fight. Ling Pei, liberated from the circle, starts kicking ass. We escape with Ling Mei and a hostage.
It turns out he had the Eye all along!
Unpacking at the Hoffcave
We arrange to meet up with Wong tomorrow night at the gala.
We tie up our hostage. And sleep.
At the gala
Ling Pei convinces Wong that it’s best to restore the eye to the dragon. Wong owes Hoffman a favor.
We stay after hours to restore the dragon. It transforms into a man, and departs with his thanks.