Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bride for a Fox Part I

When Tetsukichi next returned to the Forbidden City, he met Kei-lo and asked after Ikhbayar, ready to give a few a few words of wisdom to the over-brave guardsman. But it was too late. Kei-lo had not seen him since that morning, and he had not reported to his guardstation that evening. Kei-lo expected the worse. Reclining by the fireside in his lady’s chamber, Tetsukichi asked Su-Laing what she knew about her Kei-lo and Ikhbayar. Nothing, and why was he so interested? Nothing, nothing—he let the matter drop.

[And this, of course, was supposed to be the adventure hook. As was the insulting poetry that failed to rouse either Beatriss or Gwinch to action. And the general mystery regarding the ruins of the old city. So, instead . . . ]

The next morning, while taking their breakfast, Beatriss and Tetsukichi were visited by one Meng, servnt of Teh Mewha, the father of Su-laing. Teh Mewha had a problem and he required their help. A slave girl, the personal servant to his daughter had gone missing and they needed to find her. As they prepared for their mission, the PCs learned that in fact it was not Kei-lo, but Su-Laing herself who was missing. And that Teh Mehwa, with a few of his guards had already left to find her, accompanied by Kei-lo.

For a few hours, the PCs— Tetsukichi with his companion Hatsu; Beatriss with her companions Kani and Take (all bushi/fighters), and led by Meng set off across the plains west of Khanbaliq, following the path of Teh Mehwa. Along the way, they were harassed by “bird-men,” and encountered one of the Mehwa’s guards who had been mortally wounded by these creatures. As the trail rose from the plains to the rolling hills, they caught up to Mehwa, together with his three guards and Kei-lo, dressed in bridal silks.

Mehwa lead the larger party further west until they reached a gorge spanned by a rope bridge. Because of the PCs reluctance to expose themselves to such predictable danger, one of the Mehwa’s guards crossed the bridge first, and was attacked on the other side by long-clawed, shaggy-furred beastmen. While the rest of the party assailed the beastmen with arrows, the other two guardsmen crossed the bridge to aid their comrade. The beastmen were strong opponents. After one of the Mewha’s guardsmen fell, Beatriss, Take, and Kani crossed the bridge to assist the remaining two. Meanwhile more beastmen spilled out of surrounding forest.
And just as the battle was turning in the party’s favor (several beastmen dead, but also all three guardsmen), new attackers appeared from behind them (the “safe” side of the bridge). These attackers were ten men with bows who seemed intent on killing Mehwa. Meng, meanwhile pulled out his handaxe and began chopping at the rope bridge, ostensibly to prevent the beastmen from crossing over. But by this time, the beastmen looked less dangerous than archer-men, and so Tetsukichi and Hatsu, both rather casual subscribers to the bushido code of bravery, crossed to the other side. Mehwa used his magic ring to call lightning on his assassins.

On the one side of the bridge, the PCs killed or drove off the beastmen while Mehwa killed off the archers. Meng, after proving his traitorous intent by taking at swing with his axe at Mehwa, fled on one of the horses. Mehwa crossed the bridge. Kani went back to get Kei-lo, who was too afraid of heights to cross on her own.
Though nearly dead, Mehwa insisted that the party press on. His daughter was in danger.

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