Originally uploaded by jadeeey
The party traveled several days through the forest. Sometimes monotonous, the journey was generally peaceful. They happened upon a deserted guardhouse and found a cache of weapons. And they hunted monkeys to supplement their rice cakes and steamed scorpion.
Early one morning, Gwinch noticed that Kishi had left her backpack open and that there was a scroll sticking out of it. It wasn't a magic scroll, but a message. Although the full meanng was ambiguos, the words "assasinate" and "Gwinch" in the same sentance gave him some alarm. Kishi ran away, and the rest of the party traveled without her.
After a couple days, they left the forest behind and traveled through burnt grains fields and ruined rice paddies. In a stand of bamboo, they were ambushed by villagers. One member of the party, Deng, was local the areas, and negotiated a truce. The villagers were suspicious and warned the party to not press any further but wait for word from the elders.
When the elders arrived, accompanied by 50 armed villagers, they questioned the party. What are you doing here? Gwinch explained that he had discovered renegade members of his monastery were conducting a slaving operation and that he had come to put a stop to it. The villagers had indeed experienced this problem first-hand. It seemed that both monks and former soldiers were part of the operation. When the party learned that the slavers had a hideout in the mountains somewhere between the forest and the burned grain fields, they agreed that they would investigate. The elders allowed one of their warriors a woman named Orya to go with them. And they took the wounded sohei back to their village so they could recover and be their hostage.
Although the party had a crude map, they had some difficulty in find the way to the slavers' hideout. in their exploration, along a stretch of the remains of an ancient highway, they met a small group of soldiers, claiming they were there to arrest Gwinch. Inevitably, the soldiers or brignads were killed. The party found the path that they believed led to the hideout, but decided to go Quitokai (Orya's village) to rest and plan before making their sortie. Their fight with the soldiers was taken as partial proof of their sincerity and the party was allowed to stay in the village.