Thursday, September 22, 2016

Pasar and the Princes Episode 3 (You are the heroes!)

The journey between Pasar and the Northern Empire of Zhou Dang is never easy. Merchants follow a good highway from East to West and from West to East, there’s a deep water port not far away to the southeast, but nearly impassable mountains shield the peaceful folk of the Kayu Valley from war-mongering Khan. Based on rumors from merchants and hunters as well as her own past experiences, Beatriss recommend to her friends that this time they should hire a guide and follow the over mountain route.

By chance, this was the best time (some said the only time) for traveling in the mountains—the spring melting and flooding had passed and the autumn storms and snow had not yet begun. Experience proved the wisdom of Beatriss’s recommendation. The roads were clear and peaceful. Their guide was knowledgeable and helpful, assisting them in negotiating fair prices for food and accommodation as they made their way from one village to the next, gradually working their way higher into the mountains over a few weeks. Bangqiu had time and energy for studying. Prince Slash and Sir Crowler made new friends. And, thanks to Jasmine, new enemies—but there was no serious conflict.

And then one night something strange happened. They were staying at an inn near the Red Mountain Path Monastery, shuttered against the winds that heralded the coming storm season. There was a loud rapping at the door. The innkeeper, a grumpy old woman, opened the door with a pained smile. A monk in orange robes pushed his way past her and began ranting about the end of the world. The patrons reacted angrily and, in the case of Sir Crowler, violently. For the monk’s protection, Ju May and Beatriss overpowered him and bound him. Then everyone went to sleep.

In the morning, there was a commotion in the streets. And in the inn. No one could understand what anyone else was saying! And the tied monk had someone escaped his bounds in the night. Beatriss and Prince Slash went into the street to figure out what was going on. The village comprised a single street with one lane leading up to the monastery. Down the street, on the edge of the village, things were still peaceful. Beatriss went to talk to those people. They laughed when she spoke, but when they responded, they were horrified at the gibberish coming out of their own mouths.

Based on this experience, Prince Slash deducted that the monastery was the source of the commotion and started walking up the hill. Beatriss and Bangqiu came after him. Sir Crowler looked for someone to play soccer. Those approaching the monastery heard a loud commotion coming from within. Inside an old monk seemed to be leading the others in a bizarre ritual. When Beatriss tried to intervene, the old monk admonished her, commanding her in very clear words to leave them. She refused. For a moment, his face seemed to change to that of a long-fanged demon, but then his whole body changed—expanding to nearly fill the room as a charging elephant. Beatriss dodged it and attacked with her sword. Prince Slash shushed the chanting monks; they seemed relieved by their own temporary silence. Bangqiu blasted the elephant with his magic. But then the elephant turned into an enormous worm and its touch paralyzed Beatriss. Prince Slash ran to get help. Bangqiu attacked the worm and it turned into a flying monster, half-man, half-horse. It flew up through the roof of the monastery and prepared to dive down. Prince Slash saw it, pulled out his bow, and began shooting arrows. The horse-man monster flew toward Prince Slash and he shot more arrows. It turned into fiery mist and flew away. The monks were grateful and offered to shelter their rescuers. With storms approaching, the heroes couldn’t stay longer than a few days, but this was long enough for the monks to tend to Prince Slash’s arm. They eased the pain of the long-term injury he had suffered and taught him the exercises that would allow him to regain full use.

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