Hauri needs ingredients. Only the best ingredients will ensure his victory. He spent the past decade travelling the lands, learning new techniques and sampling spice blends, but he needs fresh ingredients. He knows of two ingredients that he has never tried and while they have three days available, they are going to go after them.
The first ingredient is render butter, a substance found in render popplers. The other is the fruit of the corpse flower, a plant-like creature that eats carrion. The only corpse flower they know of is in the arboretum in Mungu and they probably wouldn't be okay with Hauri taking it. They decide to go after a gray render. Fortunately, Jin knows a bandit group that uses gray renders and the party uses the Sun's Touch gada to travel to the Baun Checkpoint, a government station created to help protect road and river travelers from bandits. In recent years, government power has waned and the checkpoint is now little more than a rest stop for traders heading to the capital.
Entering the checkpoint, Jin strikes up a conversation with a local merchant and using thievescant, sets up a meeting with a man named Chigohan, leader of the Silken Hogs bandit group. The rest at the local in, the Dragonfly's Dare and wait for nightfall.
At midnight, the party venture down the road and are met by a group of unsavory men, each shadowed by the large hulking silhouette of a gray render. Chigohan greets Jin, having been an acquaintance of the dokkaebi in the past, he would like to get their business over and done with. He informs them that none of their current renders are popping, most of their men are so sick of eating popplers that they usually burn them, or step on them for fun. Chigohan has better news however. The Silken Hogs recently had a casualty, the result of an accident. That man's render went feral after his death and may be dropping popplers all over the forest. If they can track it down and kill it before it breeds out of control, they can have all the popplers they want. They would consider it a favour and would be happy to return the favour if needed. The party thank the bandits and set off into the forest to track the feral render.
They find the render stooped over the splintered wreckage of a wagon which had been dragged into the woods. They jump it and dispatch it with some effort, trying their best to not damage the jiggling mane of cysts around its neck. After the battle, they manage to successfully harvest about a dozen cysts. Perfect ingedients for the Feast of Kings.
TIme is not on their side however and gathering the second ingredient may not be possible. They rest for the night back at the Dragonfly's Dare and in the morning, are off to the Feast of Kings.
A circle of standing stones marks the boundaries of the sacred refectory. A smaller henge of stone slabs rising to waist height,and ground smooth by centuries of use encircles a massive stone oven. Shuzug the elder waves his hand and the oven roars to life, flames licking the charred black walls of the oven. Hauri prepares his exotic ingredients, while Kokai is released and given access to a wide selection of ingredients chosen by the elder council. As the elders begin their ancient ritual chant, the two contestants begin to furiously prepare their meals. Dish after dish are prepared by Hauri, using exotic spices, render popplers, violet syrup and his ancient dwarven chefs tools. Kokai matches him, dish for dish, blatantly weaving his arcane magics into the food, creating flavours and textures unreachable by mundane means. A dishonorable act, but not disqualifying.
The two chefs go head to head, each dish served to the audience but only judged by the elder council. They are given a numerical rating based on appearance, aroma, creativity and taste. It comes down to the final dish. The official scores remain private, but Hauri knows that Kokai has produced several incredible dishes and his confidence is shaken.
The final verdict is in.
Cheiftain Kokai has a final score of 118. An all time high.
Hauri Irigosha has a final score of 123. A new all time high.
All hail chieftain Irigosha!
The elders roar with pride as Hauri's companions leap to their feet. They have never tasted food so incredible. Tears well up in their eyes, knowing that the rest of their life will be bleak and colourless compared to the sensory wonder they just experienced.
As the cheer subsides, there is still one thing to take care of. Kokai laughs before bearing a huge slimy grin. He taunts the new cheiftain.
"The Surai clan is ruled by the Violet Queen again. These pitiful rituals mean nothing to her. Her eyes and ears are everywhere. Should I cede rule, she will see me from afar and kill me for my failure. You will never rule the Surai as long as she lives and I will be hunted for the remainder of my days. You can't win Hauri. We must all bow before those above us."
Hauri knows that he can not leave Kokai alive. He kicks his former apprentice to the ground and taking handed to him by Shuzug, he beheads the former chieftain in one blow.
"Looks like my distraction was unwarranted. There are tigers in the village now."
The party are not prepared to fight Ravana and decide to take the elders to the Baun Checkpoint. The elders represent the last of the uncorrupted Surai culture and the only witnesses to Hauri's achievents. They must be protected at all cost.