Friday, February 26, 2010

once more against the spiders!

Beatriss had made a promise to the guards from the house of Mehwa that she would help them find the remains of their late master in the spider-infested forest— as she and the guards had planned to do in their last expedition to the Jangzy area. This time, Mehwa's son-in-law would be going, too. As would a priest, who could perform the proper rites in the general area if identifiable remains were not recovered.

The party was very much focused on their goal, with one exception. Just as they were leaving the "green zone," a local monk from the Monastery of the Two-Fold Path, approached her and asked that she give him passage into the green zone and show him where he could find Gwinch. This she did, and then the party ventured out to the "Spider Forest." They passed the ruined monastery in the hills west of Khanbaliq; there was a one-sided battle going on there, but they did not stop to investigate. Shortly thereafter they encountered about half-a-dozen men on the road who seemed to fleeing from something. They made sure that something wasn't chasing them, but didn't otherwise react.

When they arrived in the forest, the priest was able to divine the location of Mehwa's body—narrowing it down to one of three "cocoons" hanging from the bottom of a large spider web about thirty feet up in the canopy. The party didn't want to get to the web, and debated whether there would be to cut down the "cocoons" from a distance. While they were discussing options, they began to hear familiar clicking sounds all around them, as well as the sounds of something very large moving through the trees above them. The party debated whether one or two especially strong warriors should approach the web—or the whole party at once.


And then a familiar voice offered his assistance—the "handsome peasant" said that he could cut the bodies down. After the climbed the tree without being attacked, Beatriss climbed up to join him, lending him her sword for the actual cutting. A spider the size of a horse attacked the party watching from the trail. The priest noticed it at the last instant and dodged it, and then the rest of the party killed it. Beatriss asked their helper to cut down all three bodies and they dragged them out of the forest before any other spiders could attack. They confirmed Mehwa's body by his armor, took some other valuable stuff from the bodies (weapons, money, a curiously intact robe) and then performed rites for all three. Omesa (the handsome peasant) asked Beatriss to take him back with her and she agreed. They made their camp in the hills on the east side of the chasm.

While enjoying their dinner meal, they were surprised by a desperate man, wearing some kind of yoke. He claimed to have imprisoned for his failure to pay his debts and had been sentenced to work in the mines. He offered to serve the party in any way if released, and said that he would rather die than be taken back Khanbaliq. They fed him and, the next morning, helped him out of his yoke. They agreed that he would serve them for one year while he looked for way to get back to his home in the Kobar valley.


Gamo welcomed Omesa as his guest and was also agreeable to having a new servant.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Report: Exploring Khanbaliq

red moons
Originally uploaded by biancavanderwerf

Gwinch received several visitors one morning: Gamo (senior) had sent his son (“Little Gamo”) as a household guard; a new laundress whom Gwinch soon recognized as Kishi; Beatriss, returned from her sojourn to Jangze.
These four, plus Saisho and three of Gwinch’s sohei went to survey the burned-out remains of Gwinch’s building project. He interpreted the rumors blaming Beatriss for the sudden fire as evidence of a combination of arson and slander.
Next, the party travelled beyond the walls of Khanbaliq to explore the ruins of the old city, in particular, the local Temple of the Two-Fold Path. Gwinch is a monk attached to a Two-Fold Path in Zipang and his superiors had sent him to Khanbaliq with a package for their sister temple. Because he’d been “quested” to deliver the package to the temple, Gwinch was anxious to discharge his responsibility, but he had some concerns. In an earlier visit, he’d found a strangely unwelcoming and deadly booby-trap near a secret entrance. So the party decided to set up a camp in the ruins a couple hundred yards away.
At their encampment, they were met by a beggar with whom they shared their food. During the conversation, Saisho used various spells to determine that this beggar’s mud-encrusted boots were in fact magical, having been created by the cat people to give the wearer silence in his movement. When Gwinch showed an interest in the boots, the beggar took his leave.
About an hour later, the party was visited by a gang of about a dozen toughs, looking to collect camping fees. When they became threatening, the party responded decisively, put the gang to flight and chased down and killed all but two or three of them. This attracted the attention of some months from the temple. Their interest in the dead bodies was neither especially positive or negative, but they were intrigued to meet “one of their own”—wearing Two-Fold robes, whom they did not recognize. The party accepted their invitation to the temple.
There they met Sheevani, a woman who introduced herself as the leader of the temple. She explained that she was not of the Two Fold Path, but that her own sect, brought with her from Manicea was very similar in the major tenets, and so they had formed an alliance. She accepted the package (a metal box) and was grateful for Gwinch’s offer of help. After a meager meal, the party departed.
They explored the ruins a little and found a large, intact house, surrounded by a high wall, its gate marked with various warnings. As dusk approached, they began to hear groaning and snarling coming from inside. They decided not to enter, and after passing by the Temple once more to see what happened there after dark (just some birds) they returned to the confines of the city.
The next day, Beatriss was visited by the guards from the House of Mehwa—they had forgotten to retrieve the master’s armor! It had been their duty to retrieve it, but in the excitement of the spiders and the weird house in the deserted village, they had forgotten. And none of them knew where he had fallen. Beatriss agreed that if they could wait a couple days, she would take them there.
In the meantime, the party decided to investigate the “poem” problem. While they had laughed off the series of insulting poems about them that had been posted in the green zone, they were now moved to do something about it. They began to become suspicious of Gamo, the one who had urged them to take action. By staking out his house, they confirmed that their “mentor” was in fact behind it, apparently trying to manipulate them into a feud against another family. In the process, they observed that another samurai, was in fact searching for them with the intent of avenging the death of his master Sato. This was Uesugi Kenchu, whom Gwinch had observed at the House of Lucky Dragon.

The party accompanied Kishi on a visit to herbalist in the Outer City. In the cellar herbalist, they met members of masked group who, without identifying themselves, thanked them (with a nice sum of cash) for their past service and enlisted their support for an up-coming mission to track down two traitorous generals in Chun Yuan province.

Finally, in the midst of these intrigues, a representative of the Emperor announced an up-coming martial arts tournament. None of PCs seemed interested in participating.