Influence From The Shadows

Epilogue
The Next Step of the Journey

• SY lives atop the mountain temple of Kagutsuchi, in the old guardian’s hut, returning it to its old splendor. He lives out the rest of his days peacefully and quietly, tending to garden and goats, and watching the world below him.
• On December 25, 990, a young baby boy was found upon the steps of the Heaven Order Knights in Archangel. The youth had bright red hair, pants but no shirt, and around his chubby was a golden chain, ending with a ruby carved into the shape of a majestic bird in flight.
• L goes to the Flow of Souls, finds Taiko’s soul, and the two of them may finally spend the time together that they always hoped for.
• H, A, and S travel to Galgados, A departs early in search of his father, wishing each other well for their travel. During his exploration he wears the mask from Jormangander, his pair of Oni horns, and Taiko the Fallen’s Helm, finds his father, asks why he left his mother, to which his father says there were other women more attractive to be ravaged, and so Andrei cuts his head off with his blade. Then becomes known as the Grave Reaper of Galgados.
• H and S find the Hoenheim’s after a month of searching, just before the new year. They inform them what happened. S then goes back to his family in Dalaborn, wife, one son, and a couple of cousins living with them. His son runs towards him, picks him up in a hug and gives him the marionette from Ilmora.
• H returns to Kushistan after delivering the message, meeting with her father once more in the small courtyard of their home, a heartfelt hug knowing that is back once more.
• We close once more upon the spring festival in Helenia. The competitions are much more open this year, as the legendary members that won so many of the contests last year did not return this year. Many were still remembered however; the great dog trainer, the massive man that pursued endless women, the best guard that they had ever seen, the drunkard that still defended the stores there, and no one could really remember who won the archery contest. The only one that seemed to leave a sign of them was the owner of the most complicated games stand in the city, Miriel Gia. People come over to her stand, playing the games and all of the challenges. Above all of the greatest treasures of weapons, armour, gold and gems, there were stuffed animals (Jormangander, Fenix, Taiko, Lynn, BB, Shadow, and Andrei) being the most difficult. Many come over and ask about the Mystery Bag, but she tells most that it is not for them, and then let them do something else. Then a young man came down and asked about what these dolls were so special. Miriel Gia responded by saying that they were known so that they performed unseen. The young man nods, then asks how much for a shot at the Mystery Bag. Miriel Gia looks the young man up and down, smiles, and says 100 GC.

Copyright © 2012 by Jeremy Marshall

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A New Future Carved In Flames
All Journeys Must Come to an End

• As Arturian’s swinging silver sashes erupt around his vanishing remains, striking out against the 3 guardians, 2 kudzus, H and Andrei. H manages to dodge the attacks, A is carved heavily in his transformed state but remains standing, one kudzu is carved in half, the other harmed, and all three guardians take sharp blows, some worse. Then F and L strike the egg once more, which causes another corona of fire that F resists, but L has all of her memories before La Roche swept away from her brain. The chains snap, although L and A don’t see, then the egg falls into the magma and it melts in. Everyone but L and A notice F pendant opening up. Then, the lava erupts and the great form of Kagutsuchi rises up before them. Kagutsuchi “Who are you, and what is it that I may assist you with?” F stares at it with open awe. A slow clap happens behind them, and God The Shadow appears behind them. GTS “Congratulation, it seems you have actually awakened it. Well then, are you Dreamers, still standing or remaining bound to this corporeal world, would care to answer the mystery that you have searched for so long?” L “Yes.” GTS “Well then, you must ask this grand creature to carry you up, higher and higher into the sky, to the very peak of its flight. There you will find your answers.” They turn to Kagutsuchi, F with reverent awe in his eyes before his new god, as he asks Kagutsuchi to “Carry me up oh god, carry me to ash upon the wind as high as possible.” L and S ask Kagutsuchi to carry them up as high as it possible can so that they may find the answers they seek. A scoops up all of F belongings. Kagutsuchi accepts that invitation, asks them to hop on the back of her neck, and then she takes wing. Upwards they fly upon her back, the lava of the volcano following in her wake. In a great rush they are able to burst forth from the top of the mountain temple, lava and ash continuing to follow them as the Aeon of flame continued to fly upwards behind them, then raining down behind them upon the mountains and space behind. Upwards they continued to soar, the curvature of the earth below them, before the beast struck a barrier and all of them were thrown through the air. H and S rolled upon impact upon the sheer white cobbles, A landing hard but not taking damage, F and L floating as they were still spirits, and SY has one of his birds try to catch him, and so he hits hard but is able to get up. They find themselves surrounded by a strangely structured city, deserted and all of pure stone. All but L notice the grand wall of oblivion slowly dissolving the city, and the grand central structure before them. They decide to charge towards the structure to try and find what it is. They go forward and find the grand, twelve faced building that has no windows and a great pointed roof. They find that the doors are locked. F, L and S go looking for other entrances but can’t find any. SY has his three guardians shove open the door, breaking open the locks. They then find themselves within the sealed chamber that has haunted their dreams for every night this past year. Within they find the buttons, levers, knobs, and the grand central crystal chamber containing the floating young woman. They stare for a while trying to figure out what to do. L checks the crystals, and realizes she and F could interact with them if they wanted. They see that there seems to be no way for them to gain access to her, so Andrei attacks the great chamber, cracking it slightly with his weapon. He smiles and then swings again, with S attacking with his Sang Kauw in order to further damage the tank, while F hits a small blue crystal button and L pulls a lever. As A and S attack with their weapons once more they unleash a grand crack which begins with a torrent of the chamber beginning, the torrent causing more and more of the crystal to break up, Andrei batting them aside with his blade and S dodge the attacks as well. They all watch as the girl hangs by the cables. SY then realizes that the void has reached all of the doors, and is beginning to dissolve the building that they are within. SY runds in, and has his kudzu’s try to grab her. They get her, and as they touch her she opens her eyes, and then the world blinds them all in a white flash.
• They awaken on a field, rolling plains burned by magma with ash falling like snow, the woman they saved talking nearby to GTS, with Kagutsuchi resting in the mountains nearby, watching over them. F and S had headaches as they woke up. The two talking forces noticed them as they got up, but GTS seemed unhappy. Lady “I see that you all are awake. It is a pleasure to meet you all in person. Also, I must apologize for all the pain and suffering that my presence has forced upon you.” S “That is good, but could you please explain all that this means exactly?” Lady “That is quite understandable. My purpose was to observe this world, and I have spent a great deal of time observing the grand variety of peoples, places, and things that travel across this place. Then I saw the group of Dreamers, and I hoped that you might be the ones able to grant me my wish. I saw all of the difficulties and struggles that both went through, all the suffering and pain that you endured. Through it all I wept for the sacrifices that you made, but you always continued forward for someone that you had only seen in a dream. Every time I almost hoped that you would give up so that you could all go back and be free of it, but you never did. Now I am incredibly happy that those of you who are here persevered.” H “How long were you trapped in that hell?” Lady “I was always within that prison, from the beginning of my life until now. This is the first moments of freedom I have ever experienced.” L “And what was it that you hoped to do now that you were set free?” Lady “I wish to experience the world, to travel it, to meet people, make friends, experience all that it has to offer. I wish to be able to do more then merely observe.” GTS “Now that all this has been discussed, there is still more to be done. These people that I found and sent towards you have succeeded in freeing you. Next it is time we discussed your freeing me.” S “And how would we go about doing that exactly?” GTS “Ask this one. She knows more about my prison then even I do I’m sure.” Lady “I know how to find your prison to be sure. However, I believe it is up to them to decide if they believe it is the time to free you now.” GTS “This was not part of our agreement.” His hand twitches on his sword. Lady “You have waited a great deal already, another decade or so would not harm you. Besides, I have only just begun to have a chance to experience this world. There is much I wish to know before you are freed.” GTS “You may regret that decision. Let us let these mortals decide then.” S “And what would you do with your freedom, what is your purpose exactly.” GTS “My purpose is to bring balance to this world.” S “Balance how?” GTS “I don’t mean to sound condescending, but the extent of the true series of balance is beyond the understanding of most mortals.” L “I’m afraid that since I won’t be here much longer, I shouldn’t decide for this kind of thing.” S “I don’t believe that we should do anything until we better understand this situation.” GTS hand twitches on his blade again. H “I think we should wait for this.” ST “Are you known by any other names?” GTS “Yes, once they referred to me as Omega.” SY goes through his grimoire, but finds no entry at all. He looks over very suspiciously at Omega. S “We will think on it, and perhaps assist you later.” Omega glares at them all, twitches his hand once more; “Fine, but I shall not wait forever. I expect your assistance eventually, I shan’t forget this.” Omega vanishes into the darkness. L turns to face Kagutsuchi; “I can’t seem to remember anything before we began upon this journey from Gabriel.” Kagutsuchi “That is because the flames took your memories as a price to assist in my awakening. They were the price to pay before you vanish into the flow once more.” L “I see.” F talks to Kagutsuchi; “Now that I have awakened you, what would you ask of me my god?” Kagutsuchi “You have done all that I could have hoped for my dear child of fate. Now you may either go to the flow in hopes of reincarnation, go to the land of your ancestors afterwards, or else you may join your soul to mine in order to burn brightly until all flames leave this world and I with them.” F thinks heavily for a moment as he gazes at the spiritual wings behind him. F “What do you mean my ancestors?” SY goes through his grimoire once more; “Sounds like you have inherited the soul of an Ebudan, those that have destiny pre-determined for them.” S “It is good to know that, brother.” F “Brother? Well then, I think I would like to go to their realm for a time, but then I would like to be reincarnated one day to continue my journey forward.” F turns to A, has him give his cloak to S, his money to SY, who rejects it so the others divide them amoungst themselves, and lets A keep J’s mask, the Oni horns, and Taiko the Fallens demon helm, then asks him to bury his book and necklace. S also asks if all debts can be forgiven, based on all that was lost this day, and F accepts and allows H to tear up the debt sheets held by A. Kagutsuchi smiles down upon F before he vanishes. The grand bird then turns to face SY; “You are a summoner, correct?” SY “Yes, no use in arguing it I suppose.” Kagutsuchi “Then I shall grant you the power to call upon a fraction of my power in order assist you in your time of need. Call upon my cleansing and revitalizing flames when things look grim.” Kagutsuchi then takes wing and flies off until she is little more then a glowing spec upon the night sky. Lady “Well then, is there anything else that I can help you with before I let you move forward? I can offer you protection from the eyes of those behind Arturian so that they cannot follow you’re actions from afar. Should you continue to perform actions that shake destiny and draw their presence in person however, I cannot prevent them from seeing you then.” SY “I should have no need of that gift, I just intend to spend the rest of my days in the mountains, peaceful and alone.” S “I would like that gift. I do enjoy going unseen.” A “I have a question for you. What exactly am I?” SY “Even I can answer that. You most likely bear the blood of one of the ancient beasts within your family, a demon from the looks of it. Their blood courses through your veins.” A smiles at that. He then turns to the L and asks her “Do you know where my father is?” Lady “There was a similar energy to yours in Galgados. Other then that I may be no more specific.” Andrei “Then I shall go looking for him.” L looks over to H “There was something that I was hoping you could do for me since I have to leave. I would like to you find my family and let them know that I am dead. The only problem is that I can no longer remember where I am from.” H “That does make things more difficult.” S “I remember you said that you were from somewhere in the Abel Empire.” H “Great, only the largest empire on the planet. That wouldn’t take too long to search at all.” L “Would you be willing to try at least.” H “Of course,” she says hiding the tears brimming in her eyes. L smiles, “Thank you, then I believe it is time I try to find Taiko in the Flow now that he has been able to return to it.” L vanishes as tears fill H eyes. S to A “Well, seems that we will be traveling the same path for a time at least then.” A “Sure, but when our paths split I will leave without a second thought.” S “Acceptable.” Lady “Seeing you all does make me realize just how much there is for me to experience here. I shall grant you that protection that I promised,” she weaves her combination of psychic powers and zeon to cast the protective barriers upon them, “That should aid in protecting you to the best of my abilities. Now, I believe I shall begin my journey. Is there anything else that I can do for you?” H “Yes, I would like to know your name.” Lady “True, I suppose I will need a name here, won’t I. Then you may call me Gwyneth.” H “Well then Gwyneth, may Jihamath guide your steps.” Gwyneth gave them all a bright smile, one that spoke beyond the countless tears she had shed within that tank; “Thank you, I believe that this shall go well.” With a final wave Gwyneth vanished into the cold night air. SY “Well then, I suppose this is where we part ways. If you would like, then I can grant you my birds to carry you across the sea. They will not tire, and it shall speed your travel greatly.” They all politely accept. SY tells his birds to listen to their commands, come back to him afterwards. SY lets two birds carry each of A, S, and H, and then has his last bird carry him up into the mountains. Out they fly into the night.

Copyright © 2012 by Jeremy Marshall

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Paths Through True Fate
A Journey in Darkness To Search for the Light

• SY has his kudzu’s release the Mirror Guardian, then send his kudzus and one guardian back to his grimoire. Mirror Guardian hopes that the mirror answered your question satisfactorily. They don’t like the answer, but have no better options, so SY progresses forward and opens the door.
• They find themselves in the Forest of Proud Beasts (70), pines surrounding all of them. They all hear the sounds of the great beasts around them. SY tells his eye to send him visions should anything get within 100 feet of them. L “So, which way to the next door?” They all look around. SY “Normally, the new door is more or less straight ahead from the first one.” H “True.” They begin traveling forwards. S preps an arrow, L asks F if she can use an Area around him, he says yes and she tries to cast it but has the energies terribly rebuff around her, and with the terrible amount of psychic energy and collapses. S checks her, sees that she is still alive, but doesn’t think that she is breathing, although the others can see that she is breathing. H tells SY that a column of energy went from her brain, uses his grimoire to determine that she attempted to use powers beyond her powers and suffered for it. He doesn’t know if she will awaken. They wonder whether to bring her with or leave her to die, H asks if SY can have a guardian carry her, so he brings out his other guardian to carry her. They then find 40 wolves moving in on them, so SY releases his snakes to try and reach the door.
• The guardians prepare, S fires two arrows to kill two of the wolves. SY moves behind his guardians. H moves over to the wolves, unleashing a pair of area attacks, killing 3 with the first and one with the second. SY feels a snap as one of his snakes is devoured by something. SY tells his other snake to veer around. F uses an Area Atttack after firing of his Ki technique and kills 8 with the first attack, and then with a second attack kills another 4. Andrei moves in and Area attacks the wolves, killing 3 wolves with his first swing, and then he begins to transform. The wolves break and flee. H, and F hear thunder, while SY and Shadow see the pair of Tyrannosaurus Rexes that are charging towards them, bits of mystical snake hanging out of one of their mouths. The guardians and kudzu’s wait for impact. S fires a pair of arrows at the T. Rex on the left, the first one merely sticking in its hide, the second harming it enough to make it unleash a savage roar. A finishes his transformation, waiting for them to arrive. The pair of T Rexes charge Andrei bringing their great maws down upon him, the first clamping around him without harm, the second takes a great bloody chunk out of him, the right arm, dropping him unconscious. Kudzus go to attack the ones that hasn’t been peppered with arrows yet, binding it with Partial Paralysis, and the second one Completely Paralysed the T Rex and causing it to fall upon Andrei without damage. F and H charge, H using her sash to use heat strikes against them, striking both solidly, then moves behind SY guardians as they step forward. F attacks the standing T Rex after charging and putting a solid fiery blow into it. One Guardian stands between the two T Rexes, the one carrying Lynn. The weaker grasping kudzu attempts to increase its complete grasping grip to completely paralyze it once more. H area attacks once more hitting the first one with a solid hit, and hitting the paralyzed one solidly as well, the back behind the standing one. F attacks the standing T Rex twice, solidly the first time and very heavily the second time. S fires on the standing T Rex, hitting it solidly with his bow. The T Rex attempts to bite F, but one of the Guardians slaps away the snapping fangs. Then, his snake reaches the door.
• They find themselves at the Exit to Preta Gati (100), with the T Rex that was fully bound still within the grasp of the of his Kudzus. SY makes an occult check on the T Rex, realisezes that it isn’t supernatural and so can’t be controlled. SY then uses his grimoire to check on Andrei, realizes that somewhere in his bloodline there would have been mingling with a powerful demon. F and the two guardians eventually pull the T Rex from A. Seeing all the spirits, SY identifies the spirits as being on Preta-Gati, and that this is a bad place, but may be where they need to go. SY suggests it may be the exit that they need to take, but could also eat them. There is also a door behind them. F asks if SY has any chances on the odds of it being good, but he doesn’t . H “Jihamath has guided our feet this far.” F “Should we go forward, or back?” SY “This may be the way we need to go, or we may need to go back.” H “I think we should continue forward.” SY prepares to try and banish one for one minute. H gives water to L. F “What do you think you are doing? You know she is probably gone.” H “Taking care of her because she is my friend.” SY banishes one, to have it appear shortly behind again. S checks on L again, finds her breathing once more. SY tells them that he can’t banish them. H begins reading again. F Ki Detects, and senses that the energy of the barrier is completely different from the other energies here. SY “We could try to leave through the barrier. If the worst should happen you can hopefully walk back. Fenix first, vanishes, then S, and SY with his guardians carrying L and A, pulling back the kudzus just before stepping through. H runs through as she sees the T Rex standing back up.
• They find themselves in the cave where they were stored, numb, and with cuts on their hands. They realize they are not where they have been before. Andrei is sad that he couldn’t bury the bodies. They see the two other unconscious people in there. Noting the strange appearance, H asks if these are normal looking people, given the other strange appearances, and then they notice the SHinigami standing in the opening of the cave. Molach asks them to return to where they were, but they refuse politely. H “Are you sure politely is the right word?” SY “Yes.”
• Molach charges into their midst, attempting to attack SY, his first attack is stopped by a guardian, the second attack is also just stopped, and the third attack is mostly blocked so that it bleeds SY and harms the guardian. F waits for the others to act, and finds Viarla standing directly before him bringer her fan down to have it mostly deflected by the second guardian and lightly cutting the pair. S fires a good arrow at Viarla, the arrow stabs into her twister her around, blood pumping from her body. A begins transforming and swings at Molach, but the attack is casually knocked aside. The kudzu’s attempt to trap Molach, but easily knocks the first aside, easily knocking away the second as well, but the third attack slips through past his attention, partially paralyzing him, the second trapping attempt coming in but failing to get a firmer grasp. SY moves to the other side of his guardian. H then moves in order to unleash a pair of Area attacks against the Shinigami, but the first fails to harm either of them, with the second tears through Viarla’s left arm and killing her, and then also heavily striking a heavy blow upon Molach’s body. Tears flow from Molach’s fox mask as he sees his fallen love. H attacks Molach with her fists, spending some fatigue, failing to injure Molach. S fires an arrow into Molach, using a large deal of fatigue, greatly harming as the arrow drives through his mask and into his head to lead blood and tears flowing down. F lights himself on fire, uses fatigue, and swings in on Molach with his flaming fists to burst through his chest. The flaming body falls as the kudzu release it. The bodies of the shinigami remain on the floor.
• Taiko’s soul appears from the bag, thanks Fenix for freeing him and seeing that it appears his link to Tsukyomi has been severed and he may now be free to go where he wishes. Looks at Lynn sadly. S “Hey Taiko, look at the arrow in it’s head.” Taiko vanishes swiftly. Other souls flow from the bags in order to enter all of their bodies. A surge of strength and power flows into all of them. F searches the Shinigami’s remains, but finds nothing except their disturbing fused clothes. Andrei takes them outside to try and bury them, but finds himself on the side of a mountain surrounded by clouds. L wakes up, H notices and touches her arm, L “May I connect my senses to yours? Tap once for yes, twice for no.” H taps her arm once. L connects her senses to H and sits up. L “What happened?” H gives her the quick rundown, especially regarding this fight and that Taiko returned again. L “It was too bad that I couldn’t say goodbye again to him once more.” H “Once more?” L “I thought the first time would be more permanent.” L notes that Valkyrie is not here with her. F notes that it is very, very cold. L puts on a winter coat, as does H.
• L uses her powers and gives herself an energy shield, and then puts an Area centered on Fenix.
• They find a ledge, and a sheer drop above and below. They also notice that the other two are waking up. SY sends his kudzu’s to hide behind them, camoflauged. H attempts to talk to the two in Latin, then Yamato Shun, then Jashu. No responses. L tries Yamato, and the man responds, asking where they are and how they are free of the mansion. L tells him that they killed the shinigami. The man comments that he will miss his chamber, and then asks if he may leave. SY says that they do not intend to keep him there. He then asks how to get out if he could. SY offers to have one of his birds to carry him down if he would trust it. The man accepts and the bird carries him down and then returns. They ask what to do next, and what to do with the other woman. L and SY continue to talk in Yamato. H “Could you please talk in a language we all understand?” SY in latin “Sorry that we are speaking a heathen language.” Goes back to Yamato. They discuss what to do, Andrei points at the tall mountain, L suggests that they go up the tallest mountain. SY then goes through all their languages trying to offer her assistance, she ignores them. L offers her some food, eats some, leaves the bag. F Ki Detects the woman, doesn’t sense anything threatening about her, much weaker then them. F says she shouldn’t be a threat. H says she feels bad if they would lead them forward. SY then offers to leave a bird to fly and then they have their birds fly them up into the mountain. As they leave, they see that she stands beside the bird watching them, waves off the bird, then runs straight down the mountain. H “Seems there was more to her then we though.” F “No, she was just a weak little thing.” L gives F psychokinetic armour once more.
• They fly high up into the mountains, further and further into the sky. The weather continues to get colder and colder, frost eventually beginning to form on them as they soar upward in the grasp of the birds. Eventually the temperature increases just above freezing. They see the temple emerge before them finally seeing the garden and goats. They land, talk to Tori, who introduces herself as a guard the temple, and says that she cannot let them pass. She gives terms that they may fight, and if she wins she needs the help keeping her family line going. They agree, SY asks if there would be to the death. Tori “I would merely not be able to stop you after. It need not be to the death.”
• SY moves the eyeball 40 ft. up and behind Tori. Hadiyaa charges while F and the summons wait and watch and a guardian moves up beside her, but Tori dodges her attack and unleashes her Dancing Flames in a counter attack, the guardian but the firey strike carves heavily into both the guardian and Hadiyaa with her dancing flaming blades. Andrei transforms and waits. The kudzu’s move in to try and attack her, the first is countered and in comes the ninja-to on the kudzu to strike it without harm. The second kudzu strikes her but she slips free of the first, but gets a solid grip with a partial paralysis, so the eye manifests and then uses a laser attack on her to cleave through her, and her left calf. Her corpse begins to cool as the temperature drops to its below freezing temperature. Both F and H growl and whimper in pain. The goats flee in terror. SY checks her for valuables, takes the sculpting tools, F takes the pair of ninja-to, and then Andrei begins to bury her.
• F grabs one of the feathers from the brazier as H attempts to warm herself but cannot. He enters the scorching condition and puts them back. L tries Organic Psychokinesis to grab one, is scorching so puts it back. H I see where this is going. H, F, SY, and L each grab one and put them in, scorching. F and H grab a second one, enter the state of burning, but realize that their protection to flame helps them some. They then grab a third feather, enter the In Flames state, and slot them in, while SY grabs a second and put them in. L then uses immunity to grant herself protection from fires, grabs the other three, enters Burning to Ashes, slots them in, the doors slide open, but the group finds themselves still on fire. They run into the halls, the fires continuing to lick at their flesh. H tries to drop and roll, but the fires continue. As they go forward, they find the Magister’s of Flame. They hold out their hand, quenching the flames. Andrei joins them after completing the burying of their corpses. The Magisters ask what they are doing here, echoing into their heads with their grand voices filling the party’s mind and the chamber around them. They inform them of what they are looking for. The party informs them of their desire to have her awakened so that they may ask her things. The Magisters are offended by this concept, of using the mistress for their own aims, and tell them to leave and it is not yet time for her to be awakened. They ask if they may look around the temple. The Magisters allow it. They discuss whether they should do. L suggests they mention The Azure Knight attempting to free Orochi. They say it, and the Magisters get very angry, discuss amoungst themselves, and ask the others if they believe they may deal with and resist all of the flame and wrath that will hover before them. The party says that they will do so. The Magisters open the gate below, and SY has his birds carry the party down into the deep descent.
• They go down for miles, twisting through the miles and miles, flying down for over 2 hours. They then find themselves in a massive chamber, a colossal egg of ruby and magma above the great pool of magma. From within the magma comes the threats and demanding voice of a fell beast, asking what they wish and intend to awaken Kagutsuchi for. When they say that they have in order to reach the truth about their dreams, and that a being calling himself a God instructed to that it would answer all of their questions. The Agni is furious that they intend to awaken his mistress in order to solve their own problems it bellows in rage and emerges in order to attempt to strike them down. Its great form increases the heat even more as the blades begin to emerge.
• H charges the Agni, punching it weakly, and the sash protects her from the fire. F charges Ki and then moves forward and attacks it lightly, his Ki powers protecting him from the flames. The Agni brings its flaming claws down upon F, who takes a glancing blow but no damage and resists the flames. SY sends his guardians to defend F and H. L uses a psychic assault with two pp, then hits it to crush the beasts mind beneath its powerful assault. A starts transforming, then walks over to try and attack it, hitting it well with his blade, but the flame lashes out to harm him also, scorching his tough hide. SY flips through his grimoire to try and learn more about it, (403), learns essentially all there is to know about it, tells them about its immunity to fire, can fly, and can unleash a grand blast of flame around it. He then has a bird pick him up to keep him about 80 feet away from the great creature. H attacks the creature, hurting it slightly and taking a bit of flame itself. F reroutes Ki into his Elemental Immunity Fire to grant him immense protection from fire. A finishes transforming and swings twice at the Agni, both hits taking a solid amount of damage and also resisting the flames that lick at his flesh. L mind controls the Agni, backs up and asks the others what to do now that it controls it. F tells her to have it break the chains. It flies over, freezes in place, and Agent Arturian gives a speech, kills the creature, and then insists that they will die to him.
• Agent Arturian flies over the group to attack L, sending four silver sashes upon her, the first failing, the second carving a solid slice from her, and the next two glancing off her skin with minor knicks. Arturian “You will bleed for me.” L “I already am.” SY sends out his kudzus on the stairs, and begins prepping a ritual to summon another guardian, and then sends his guardians to flank Arturian. H runs over to try and strike at him, but one of the sashes slaps away the strike without him even turning around to look at her. F charges Ki, charges to attack him, his armour soaking up the blow. A charges to try and smash his face in, the first attack is slapped away by a sash, the second is also batted away. Arturian attacks L again with four more sashes, the first searing into her shield, the second killing her by taking her left arm off, and the third and forth are used to mutilate her corpse in a shower of gore. Arturian “One.” The pair of guardians attack Arturian, but his sashes knock them aside casually. Andrei swings again, but the hit does not hurt him. The kudzus come in to try and trap Arturian, the first is slapped away, the second attack is slapped aside, the second kudzu attacks also, the first is knocked away, and the second attempts to trap him, and gets a minor paralysis, then the eye appears behind him and fires its laser, but Arturain sidesteps the attack. H unleashes her pair of attacks onto Arturian, the first dismissed without effort, the second also knocked aside without effort. F ignites his flames, but the attack is stopped. SY summons another guardian, and then also controls it. Arturian unleashes a pair of silver sashes to attack F, the first carving solidly into his flesh, the second carving into his right arm so that the blood flows and he is knocked unconscious at Arturian’s feet. L’s spirit moves towards the egg. The three guardians attack Arturian, the first is batted aside, the second is stopped by his armour, and the third is batted aside. The kudzu that hasn’t grabbed him tries to, the first grab batted aside as is the second, and the one that has it in his grasp tries to improve it, but he cannot better trap him, then unleashes an eye laser, but it is deflected. H attacks Arturian with fatigue, and manages to bruise his face lightly. SY prepares a ritual for another kudzu. A attacks Arturian, his blade carving heavily into his body, his blood flows and his eyes fill with hate. H sees an opening and tries to take it, hitting him solidly once more. Once again his suit moves on its own, and he murmers “Argent Silver Rain.” He attacks F, H, A, and S with his attack, nailing F body to the ground and killing him with his pain, S is able to dodge away from the attack, H dodges the attack as well, and A blocks the attack and counters with a large bonus, carving heavily into him with his attack in order to carve deeply into his flesh, but he shakes off the critical. The guardians swing their fists down once more, the second is soaked up by the armour, and the third is blocked also. The kudzu’s attempt to pin him, but both attempts are knocked aside, the other attempts to improve the trap but it doesn’t work. The souls of F and L both float over and touch the egg of kagutsuchi, and the egg sends out a wash of flame over them, the fires washing over them and pushing them backwards, the group is startled by the flames. SY summons up another kudzu plant before Arturian and controls it. One of the golems attempts to attack Arturian, who counters but is unable to harm the creature. Arturian attempts to rise into the air, carrying the kudzu with him, the guardians attacks are batted aside, the kudzu attempt to trap him once more, shaking free of the first attack, the one holding him more solidly, and H and A both bring their attacks to bear upon him, tearing into him and killing him, his silver armour begins to bubble, and L and F’s souls touch the egg once more.

Copyright © 2012 by Jeremy Marshall

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Liberation of Power
Souls and Powers Surge Beneath the Sun

• November 14th, 9:00 pm.
• During the night, Andrei, Fenix, and Lynn spot an older, skinny and cane bearing Ryuan hobbling and seven human sized birds flying down towards their small resting place in the mountains. A draws his weapon. Hadiyya and Shadow are clutched in the talons of two of the birds. F ki detects, says that the other man is about their power level, that he is intrigued. F “Hold up, we might not have to fight this guy.” L “Which would be good, since we haven’t really recovered.” Speaking in Yamato, Shen-Yu says “I found these two, do you know them?” gestures with his cane. L “Yes, they are our companions.” SY “I found them drifting in the water off shore. I saved them.” L “Ah, so that’s what happened to them. Do you speak anything other then Yamato.” Switching to latin SY “I can speak lating.” F “Good.” SY “I had a vision that there were six strangers arising on this island. There are not six of you I see.” F “One of them fell.” L “We had an encounter with one of our past party members.” F gives her a dirty look. SY “How might I assist you?” F “Why?” SY “May I not simply wish to help people?” L “It is very strange for people to wish to help us.” SY “If you do not want my help, I may return to my mountains.” F “We could use your help. Where are you from? Do you know these mountains well?” SY “Different mountains.” F “Well then, you may stay with us. We can always use an extra set of eyes.” SY “Just one eye.” F “What?” SY “Just one eye to guard watch.” Makes his eye manifest so that they may see it. SY “Now we may rest so that we can recover.” They sleep.
• They all wake up the next day. F “We never did get your name.” SY “Shun-Yu.” The group all introduce themselves. H asks where J is. F and L beat around the bush, saying that he left, never came back, not of his free will, do to another old companion they had not expected to see. A “Taiko.” S “What?!” F “Taiko killed Jormangander in combat and the rest of us had to flee.” S “What happened.” F and L describe what happened and what they fought. Using his grimoire, SY tells them that the creatures were Gandalfhon and Aooni. F “You have some use, don’t you?” SY “I am knowledgable in the supernatural.” F “Well then, you may stay with us for a while.” SY “I may take you up on that offer.” F “I don’t think we should really go back in the direction that we were going.” L “I agree.” A “I think that we should bury Jormangander.” S “I agree, he earned that much.” H “So you want to go back to where we were last attacked?” F “We could stay at least off the road.” SY “If we run into these demons again, I could send them away if you were to give me time to prepare.” L “How much time?” SY “A day.” L “I don’t think they’ll give us that long.” SY “I am saying that if you expect to fight them again lure them to us so that I may banish them.” F “Fine.” H “So, am I the only one that thinks this is pointless? The soul has left the body and gone to its punishment.” L “He wants to bury the body.” H sighs. S “At least this time we aren’t burning an entire library to remove the corpse.” H “Who burned an entire library?!” F “Taiko.” H eyes fill with hatred.
• They travel down the road, SY sending his eye out 200 ft. in front of them, returning should it sense anything. S takes the string off his bow due to water damage, and brings out his Sang Kauw. SY has his birds fly above, and his two mystic serpents within their clothes. F and SY discuss the lack of time and preparation for banishing the creatures, and what else they could do, SY promises that he has other things to do. S “Perhaps, since he hasn’t seen me yet I shall hide so that they may attempt to avoid detection so that I may take them by surprise.” F “A good idea.” S uses Ki Concealment and begins to vanish. H says she will tear out Taiko’s teeth with her throat. The others say what kind of a man he is, and what happened, and L says that it looks like ‘she’ had her way with him, F “She?” L says Tsukiyomi, the others and SY realize just who this is and how bad it could be. They find J splattered remains, and that there are also 12 black butterflies flying over him. F puts the arm with the rest of him. A begins digging a hole, SY comments that this will make things even easier to banish the spirits. They notice the world go dark, and the Aooni and Taiko reappear, SY summons all his creatures, and T charges a round of Magnum.
• S charges T with his Sang Kauw drawn and attacks Taiko, parting through his armour and stabbing at him, but the Box of Noah activates, sends time back a few moments, and so a near fatal attack is instead turned into a solid hit through the armour. Taiko’s sword continues to charge Magnum, and he then attacks Shadow, caring into him solidly. SY begins preparing for to banish the pair of Aooni, and waits looking up. One of his birds flies up and raises him into the air, leaving his snakes on the ground where he was. F charges Ki, eyes up the Oni to see that there are still little clouds over them, and then charges the slightly injured looking Oni, hitting it solidly with his fists. SY eyeball follows him into the air. L uses Psychic Assault on the Oni not fighting F, slightly weakening its resistance. H yells, “Is that Taiko?” F and L “Yes!” H charges, with one of SY rocky bodyguards standing beside her (The other bodyguard goes to stand beside F), and then solidly hits Taiko through his armour. SY sends his Kudzu’s against the two Oni, the one that was fighting F breaks free of its vines, and the other gets a slight grip and minorly paralyzes it. As the K attempt to Disarm their Oni, the one fighting F keeps its weapon, the other also keeps its weapon. The Aooni then go next, the one attacking F has the bodyguard block and counter in order to only hurt it slightly in counter, and the other attacks one of the Kudzu and lightly hurts it. A begins to transform, and then goes to attack the minorly paralyzed Oni, and his blade carves into it solidly. S takes another stab at Taiko, knocks aside the attack and attempts to counter, but SY bodyguard blocks the counter with its grand shield arms, more energy is flowing into Taiko’s weapon. L attempts to use Mind Control on the Aooni that she weakened its defenses, but the Oni shakes it off. H attempts to attack Taiko again, her fist easily evading his defenses and crashing into his flesh. The K trapping the one reaffirms the trap and completely paralyzes it, then attempts to disarm it and pulls the club from its chubby fingers. The other K tries to trap the other Oni that is fighting F, but it breaks free, the attempted disarm also fails. A transforms, and then uses a fatigue point and attacks the fully paralyzed Oni, his savage blade carving heavily into the creature. He then attacks again, sawing heavily into the creatures neck. F fights his Aooni attacking it twice as he ignites his arms, and hits it twice in the flesh, singing its flesh. The Aooni, attempts to attack Fenix, but SY rocky bodyguard defends against the attack. SY continues to charge his banishment. Taiko eyes the arranged people before him. F surprises the Aooni before him, and sends his fists into it twices, the first striking into it solidly and nearly setting the beast ablaze, the second attack drives hard into it and sets the creature Scorching. The Kudzu that has its Oni paralyzed tries to disarm the other Oni, and pulls its kanabou from its arms while the other tries to trap it, but fails the first time so tries again, but it resists again. H attacks Taiko once more, but has it easily knocked aside, and so unleashes his Magnum Powered ultimate fatigue Area Attack on Shadow, Hadiyya, and one of SY rock guards, the blade tears a hole through Shadow’s armour, disintegrates H’s clothing, and nearly breaks off the bodyguard’s arm. L uses Psychic Assault on the unparalyzes Oni and assaults its resistance. S cowers beneath the pain, “You are not the man that I knew, but you sure fight like him,” and falls to one knee. SY continues to prepare his banishment. A attacks the paralyzed Oni twice, his first attack tearing heavily into it, and the second attack taking a solid blow again. Taiko stands his ground. The unarmed Aooni uses its unarmed attacks against F, but the bodyguard takes it for him. A attacks the paralyzed Oni once more, one tearing heavily into the beast, and the second blow tears its right arm away at the shoulder, leaving the fallen monster unconcious upon the demolished ground. H attacks T, but he blocks and counters, carving deeply through her flesh to shower the ground in her blood and stagger her. F charges across the battlefield to attack Taiko, and puts his flaming fist through his right calf to bring the great man face first into the earth, unmoving, and then with his second attack tearing his right arm and sword away from the great man. SY continues to charge his Banishment. L uses Mind Control on the still standing Aooni, and succeeds in grabbing its mind despite the pain it inflicts on her. The Kudzu’s back away from the flaming Oni. Shadow stands up with his Sang Kauw, and surveys the battlefield, and sights. L commands her Aooni to try and remove the other Aooni from existence. They then let the Aooni burn itself to death and just watch it.
• Shadow goes to organize J belongings. They look over the belongings of those around. A digs a big hole for his fallen demon. F takes Taiko’s horns and his blade. A takes the demon helmet, in hopes that S can modify it so that it has eye holes. Lynn keeps the tonkori. Hadiyya changes into a new set of clothes. SY asks what happened to Taiko to put him in the dark lady’s service. L comments on what happened to him in Jormangander’s Tower. S wanders off through the group. F goes over to Jormangander’s body, F grabbed Jormangander’s mask from him so that they could see his face once more. As they are looking around and resting they see the Shinigami Molach and Viarla appear and snag Taiko’s soul before it was swept back away by Tsukiyomi through the black butterflies. They thank them for the acquisition of such a powerful soul. Comments on what rare people such individuals are, and offer them a place to rest in order to recover. L says that that could be appreciated. Looking through his grimoir, SY realizes that these beings are Shinigami, and knows what they are. Informs the others, and suggests that following them would be a bad idea. F agrees and politely turns the Shinigami down. Molach comments on the unfortunatness of that, and that all forms of things could befall them in the hills. F asks if it is a threat. Molach merely looks at Fenix very focusedly and then back. F then asks if there could be something else that they could do in favour of it, such as tell them where Kagutsuchi is within the mountains. Molach “You know that she is sealed away?” F “We are looking for her. It is kind of part of our destiny.” Molach tilts his head “You believe you have destiny you say. Interesting.” Gazes at Fenix again. “I’m afraid that that is far too great a gift for one soul.” F “Then there is nothing else for us to offer you.” Molach “That is unfortunate” The two vanish from sight except for H and S. They report that they are still there
• Molach attacks Shadow and pulls his soul from his body, while Viarla attacks H who dodges. Shadow attacks Molach, who blocks, counters, and absorbs his soul instantly. H shouts “L, use my eyes!” and backs away from Viarla. Viarla then pursues H and puts her fan through her, pulling her soul out from her body. F holds his action and tries to think. L also just stands and waits. Molach charges SY, putting his cloak through him, but his soul remains in his body, and A hears Molach mutter “Impressive.” SY “I’m leaving, if you want to live come with me” and gets picked up by his bird, F ki detects and senses their power, sensing doom, and that it is not hatred but a strange longing that fills them. A says he will leave (two birds), one bird grabs Lynn, two birds grab Valkyrie, and Fenix stays on the ground. A sees that F is staying and tells SY to have the birds put him back down, and starts transforming, Viarla attacks H’s spirit once more, is struck and the fan carves through her soul and is sent reeling. F takes full defense. SY eye reports that Molach wants to attack him, and his cloak passes through SY once more, this time pulling his soul from his body, uses a second attack to seal his soul, and then flies over to L, and attacks her sending its cloak through her body and pulling out her soul. Andrei falls to the ground as he transforms and stands beside F while watching Molach. A holds his action and watches Molach. Molach attacks and seals L soul, then moves down and is attacked by Andrei, blocks and counters to strike A and pulls his soul from his body in a swirl of dark nemesis energy, and the third attack makes Andrei poof away. F glances around and mutters, “I embrace death.” Viarla attacks H, and seals her soul with her fan. The pair of death gods then fall upon F and force him to embrace death, but he does so like its an old friend.
• The group awakens in Molach’s Preta Gati Mansion sleeping chamber. SY “Where are we.” He still has all of his creatures. F opens the door.
• They find themselves in the Arena of Strength. They find Molach and Viarla. Molach greets them. F asks where are we. Molach informs them that they are inside his mansion, separate from the flow, a place where individuals of great power and talent. SY “If you wanted us to come this much, you could have insisted.” Molach “We did insist, and it worked quite well.” F “But we have no desire to stay here.” L “There are things we must do.” Molach “We worked very hard to get you here, and I’m afraid we can’t let you leave just yet. There are needs that we have for your blood and your bodies. Do not worry however, they are safe, for now.” H “I don’t like the sound of that, what are you doing with our bodies.” Molach “Even shinigami need entertainment.” F and H both shudder at the thought. Molach “Normally, Viarla and I do battle with those that reach this room, in order to test their capabilities and see how well they have done. Seeing as we very recently fought you, I expect the conclusion would be mostly the same, therefore you may continue to wander about and enjoy the halls.” With a snap of his fingers a door appeared behind him. S “And if we want to leave?” Molach “Then you may try to find an exit, but nothing leaves here without our permission. As long as you behave yourselves you may stay. Do not try our patience too much now.” L opened the door.
• They find themselves upon the Plain of Storms (84), and SY’s eye sees the next door nearly 700 ft. away. A bolt of lightning falls through the air to crash through Lynn’s shield and strike her for damage. SY summon one of his snakes, and sends it lashing out towards the door at high speed. The second lighting bolt strikes through one of SY’s guardians to hurt them both. The third bolt of lightning struck the ground as F dodged the lightning. SY’s snake then opened the door.
• They find themselves upon the Crystal Prison (48). H “I don’t know if I’ve said this yet, but I don’t care for this place or its company.” F “We need to find leverage.” L “But how?” SY uses his grimoire to realize that this is probably a pocket realm of space bent around itself, in order to banish them wouldn’t work. A and S avoids the sucking crystal, but L, F, S, and the bodyguard, are sucked in up to their ankles, while H is pulled in up to her knees. SY dispels his guardian. They begin heading towards the doors, As they go forward Shadow is sucked in up to his ankles, SY up to his face and only his mouth above as his bird is sucked in. On the next movement most stay in the same height, L is pulled up to her stomach, SY actually goes forwards, and H is sucked in to her shoulders. Andrei opens the door thinking about the arena.
• They find themselves in The Mountain of Eternal Fog (63). SY sends his eye forward, and it comes back and reports about the statue, injured bird, and sliding door. SY “Looks like it should be safe to cross.” F “Should be?” SY “There’s nothing with swords on the other side at least.” All but SY walk across, he is carried by one of his birds. H and Andrei leads. L heads over to the bird, uses Animals to realize that it is almost dead. H Ki Heals it, it gets up and the bird vanish into the mists. They stare after it for a while. Then a moment later they hear the grinding sound as the bird statue spreads its wings like a great proud bird on flame (F is mesmerized). A moment later in a flash of flames a sash appears from its beak which F grabs. H says he shouldn’t have it, since L and she were the ones that helped the bird. F passes the sash to SY asks what is going on? F asks if he could look at a little better. He looks it over, and says that it should do something for anyone depending on what they do. He then tries it on, realizes the whole fly and fire resist effect, says he wouldn’t need it. They pass it around to everyone to see what it would do, and H gets it in the end and puts it on. H opens the door.
• They find themselves in the Mirror of Fate room (16). They eye the general places, and nervously gaze towards the mirror man. As H steps forwards the mirror guardian faces them. H asks what the mirror is. The Mirror Guardian explains that it is the mirror of fate, what it will do, and how they are able to attempt to leave the room. They consider whether they should face it, and then that they should ask how to escape from this place. SY then uses his grimoire to identify what it is, and that they are revered as minor deities in some cultures. They prepare, SY releases his guardians and kudzus and SY and L move over to the door exit.
• The guardian of the mirror unleashes a burst of ki and stands perfectly still. S brings out a chakram and throws it at the mirror guardian, which sends the chakram back at him, but Shadow doges so the weapon just so that the weapon embeds itself into a pole. S “Neat.” SY sends his guardians to flank the creature, and the kudzu move in and try to trap him, but the first sends the vines to attempt to trap the Mirror guardian, who redirects the attack to try and grapple one of the guardians, which resists it. H walks over to the mirror and touches it, nothing happens, so she goes to try and attack the Mirror Guardian, but has it redirected so that one of SY guardian’s has to block the attack for her. L fires off a psychic assault at the Mirror Guardian, which is redirected to Andrei and breaks his face. F then goes to attack the Mirror Guardian, but redirects the flaming attack towards one of SY kudzus, one of his guardians blocks some of it, but he takes damage and the kudzu takes some as well. A walks over and swings with his sword, sends the attack into one of SY’s guardians that is knocked to one knee but unharmed. H yells “Everyone strike it at once!” and waits. S pulls out his bow, restrung, and fires an arrow at the mirror, which absorbs the attack, and then places the arrow nicely before it. S “Interesting, so it doesn’t do anything to mundane weaponry.” The mirror guardian stands and waits for the impending onslaught. F backs up slightly before the super attack begins. The entire group (other then Fenix and Shadow) unleash their super combined uber attack strategy (cough, cough), and has the following happen: A attacks and has the guardian soak up the counter attack, L uses organic psychokinesis and fires it back at Lynn, the kudzus attack and the first is sent to defend against the guardian and evades it, the second attack is also sent towards the same guardian, but it shakes that trap off, H attacks and has it redirected so that one of SY’s guardian’s has to attempt to intercept it and is able to block it, as the kudzu attempt to trap the Mirror Guardian it sends the vines to successfully partially paralyze the guardian, and the second set of vines are also sent towards the guardian but they are able to block. The one kudzu releases the guardian that it had grabbed and attempts to trap the Mirror Guardian, who counters personally but is stopped by the guardian in a ringing of steel and crystal. The Mirror Guardian waits. The group waits until the Shinkyou: Mirror Position wears off. They see that the Mirror Guardian then begins to move again of its own volition. The Mirror Guardian puts one fist into a surprised kudzu. L attempts to use Mind Control, which is rebounded towards Andrei, strikes him, and L successfully dominates A. Shadow fires an arrow at the Mirror Guardian, and the arrow scratches across the perfectly mirrored surface. F charges ki and attacks the Mirror Guardian, striking it but doing no damage. L tells A to act how he wants to, and attacks the Mirror Guardian, sends it back and has the guardian blocked for him. H attacks the Mirror Guardian with her new sash powered fist, but hits it for no damage. The kudzu that can still act attempts to trap the mirror guardian, hitting it but able to slink out from the grasp, the second also hitting and mostly paralyzes. F activates his fire fists, uses fatigue and strikes at the mostly paralyzed mirror guardian, but they both screw up epically, and F hits it for no damage. H attacks the Mirror Guardian and hurts it slightly. Shadow fires another arrow, and this one solidly harms the creature. The kudzu that doesn’t have it trapped tries to trap it better, but sends the trapping at F and has it intercepted by a guardian. Second try and it solidly grapples it, also keeping it mostly immobilized. The kudzu that has it trapped then attempts to fully paralyze it. The Mirror Guardian says “I admit your superiority, you may ask your question.” SY keeps the kudzus trapped while they face the mirror.
• L releases A from the mind control. SY “This is not our question, we will converse first and then ask it.” Mirror Guardian “Certainly.” They converse discussing which options they have to try and get out; F “How to get leverage,” L “How to escape from this place, back to our bodies, and also in the proper year in Varja.” SY “So, which do we want, exit or leverage.” L “I would like to leave.” S “Leave.” H “Leave.” SY “Alright, question being asked. What is the best course of action for us to return to our bodies in Varja?” The surface of the mirror ripples before it responds in SY’s own voice “There are several ways in which you could escape. One would be to get the masters of this mansion to grant you freedom from this place. However, there is nothing that a shinigami does not do anything for free. You could also defeat them in combat, and surpass their powers to banish this realm from existence. The other final option would be to find the exit through the powers of luck and chaos in order to escape.”

Copyright © 2012 by Jeremy Marshall

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Storms of Sea and Thought
Travel Upon Sea and Stone

• The new morning of August dawns continued in the Matsu Forest Lynn, after meditating, uses Ki healing on Valkyrie in order to heal her some. After the past episode, Haddiya stays is offended and not talking much, saying she will stay along, and Shadow says that he will watch over her in order to make sure she doesn’t start anything in the forest. They continue on their way, those with horses riding, those without once more on foot. J and F notice kitsunes and other spirits following them, J ignores them, F uses Ki Detection to tell that they are frightened, and disgruntled by their presence. F “I don’t think they like us here.” J “I’m used to it.” F “I’m sure you are”. Other then that the day is uneventful, and by the end of the day they set up camp near what they believe would be the centre of the forest.
• They continue forward the next day, F commenting on Andrei’s whole turning into a giant monster, asking when he learned it, if he’s been holding back on them. A “Not holding back, only learned to do it recently. Saw his grandfather do it once.” F “So, it’s a family thing. Is it a curse that we should be aware of.” A “I do not believe so.” F “Cool.” F then comments on the ‘plant bitch’ and what she was saying. J says to ignore it and move forward. At mid day they reach a massive clearing, which all but Lynn notice the ruins of grand temples, with the Harekawa standing atop the center most building. F Ki Detects, and realizes that this creature is very powerful. As they enter the clearing, the Harekawas speaks to them in their mind, asking them to go around the clearing in order to not awaken what rests here after what was done upon his messenger.” F informs them that it is powerful. L suggests they listen and go around. J asks about if just entering the clearing, and what the Harekawa would do to them. Harekawa “I will not stand against you directly, for the forest itself would not be able to stand against you.” F “Perhaps we should listen to it.” J “What will you do to make it worth my while to go around then? Can you do anything to speed our progress?” Harekawa “I could ensure that you aren’t harassed by animals, that food and water present themselves to you, and that the trip is restful.” J “Sounds good.” They go around the clearing, adding an extra week to their distance, but healing their damage and continuing to train.
• Another 13 days on the road and through the forest, across the plains, and down the street to reach Hong Kua before the end of August. The massive city rises before them, the strong smell of the salt sea rising over the plains. They head over to the city, seeing the high walls, guards, and even a few cannons. The guards ask what they are planning on doing in Hong Kua, J “Looking for a boat.” F “Travel to Varja.” Guard “You have money?” as he eyes them. J “Of course, would we have made it here otherwise?” Guard is insulted by the tone but lets them in, hoping them a good time and hoping to spend much coin within the city. They are surrounded by the sights, sounds, markets, streets, abandoned sewer construction, and market stalls. Andrei buys a good chunk of spices. They reach the docks, see the grand variety of ships there, from the nicest to the rougher pirate vessels. They check around the mid-list ships, looking for passage, asking a captain harassing a dock worker that dropped one of his crates. Not going for up to a few weeks based on how long it will take to sell their things. Too long for J, so goes to the next, who says a few days. Checks the rest in the port, but all are longer or not going to Varja. They go back to the second captain, who informs them that based on the disappearances that have been happening there aren’t any, except a less reputable captain, that won’t let them come with them. They go to the junk and find it guarded by two massive Aion, long gold hair and shirtless. J approaches, and one with golden teeth asks him “What do you be wanting?” J “To speak with the captain.” Gold Teeth “You want to speak with Captain Lo? You know what we do?” J “You know what I do,” gestures with his hammers. Gold Tooth smiles and gets the captain. Captain Lo comes, asks where they want to go (Huan Zhou), and what they are willing to do. J, F, S, and Andrei say they will be willing to fight and other tasks for their passage. L asks if she can pay, offers 10 GC, captain Lo says that would almost get her across, but 30 gc would work better, L attempts to persuade for 14, but offends him so that he now demands 40 GC. L asks F if she can borrow the extra 26 GC, he agrees and makes up another contract. Captain Lo accepts the money, then asks how much for her horse to come with, J laughs out loud. She charges another 20 GC that L has to borrow from F. Then to H. She offers to do the same work that the men offered to do, J laughs outloud. Captain Lo declines. He doubts that she is capable of the physical work that he would need them to do. H takes a swing at him, which he dodges and comments her on her spirit. H then borrows the 40 GC needed (since she gets the increased rate also) from F. J asks how long it will be before they leave, and Captain Lo says that it will be only a few moments before the last shipment from his crew is brought aboard, and so invites them on. Several hours go by, until they see a group of 9 pirates carrying stolen goods and being chased by city guards. The group helps them aboard as they list off down the side and then head out to see, all but J going below decks to ignore the hail of bolts that fall from the attacking guards, J just ducks against the prow. Then they travel.
• L combines senses with F and gives him psychokinetic armour in exchange, then works on learning Major and Organic Psychokinesis, J learns Ki Control, F works towards Zen, Andrei talks to Fenix about his lack of use of energy, so that he can work towards No Needs, and A also helps the 84 year old female cook along the journey, and is glad she can’t cut him with her cleavers.
• They travel for two months in relative peace, until it is late October. The pirates count loot and look for good targets, but most are too large or well guarded. In that late October that Captain Lo calls them on deck and points out a ship that is heading towards a storm. He asks them if they are ready or not for the work. The 50 pirates hide, get close beside the ship, move up close as one man asks if they have a problem. Captain Lo says “No, but you do.” As the pirates rise up.
• They find themselves in the edge of the storm. F waits and charges ki as the pirates throw the grapels, only 10 of the fifty get hold and begin climbing. J takes his rope tied hammer and throws it a few feet below the rail, it crashes through the hull and the deck behind, locking firmly in place so that he can begin climbing. Andrei jumps onto the other ship, grabbing on so that he can then climb up, and sees the 200 people aboard. L asks if F would like her to place him on the deck. F “You can do that.” L “I can do that now.” F “How does that work.” L “I lift you up and then gently set you down.” F “Sure, why not.” She carries him and flies him onto the deck, he seems very happy as he lands, but before he does he kidney punches the calling deckhand between the ships where he is crushed. The fins of sharks begin to swirl around. Jormangander pulls himself up over the rail, moves away from the side and pulls out his other hammer as he sees the first embedded. L concentrates on Major Psychokinesis. A moves in to attack the closest deck hand, carves into it with his blade to cleave the man’s right arm off at the shoulder so that he can bleed to death on the deck, then swings at a second that dodges, counters with a belaying pin that his sword breaks. A then prepares to transform. F ignites his arms with his technique, and charges into the mass to unleash a great area attack that sends 8 of the crew into flaming ruin off the deck, and thanks to style they give him an outline of flame, and the sharks eat the fallen in proper time. The 10 pirates climb and another ten hook on, and then 50 attack each of J, A, and F, and the last 40 attack the 10 pirates. J unleashes his counter area attacks, and between the three of them kills 4, 4, and 10 with the final attack. The mass that attacks A can’t get through his damage. F dodged the attacks against him, and J is fallen upon by the remaining 32 but they barely even bruise him. The pirates kill 2 of the seamen, while the crew kills 1 of the pirates. The storm has grown stronger around them. A transforms into his monstrous form, and unleashes an area attack and kills another 5 as they cringe before the monstrosity before them. J unleashes his hammers once more, killing wave upon wave of the men, 9, 9, 11. F unleashes his wave of AOE also, slaughtering them in great numbers as well, 5, 13, in fiery doom with the fires dancing around his hands. L concentrates more on Major Psychokinesis. Another 10 pirates climb the rails, while the rest of the grapples get onto the side of the ship, but the 19 can only injure some of the crew. The crew also fails to kill one of the pirates, the ones around A back up in fear, J defends from the small group around him, and F is saved from harm by L psychic armour around him. F unleashes another flurry of AOE, killing another 6, uses leadership to unleash a warcry to inspire the pirates to do better, and then attacks but it is show and no killing. A unleashes some AOE to crush those before him, killing 2, 9, and howls at them like a demon. L continues to concentrate on Major Psychokinesis. The pirates clamour onto the deck and with the cheer of F ringing in their ears they cut down one of the crew. The crew still back away from A, F dodges the attacks of the crew, J blocks and AOE counters to crush 3 of them, and then progresses to use his other AOE attacks, 3, 6, and then mows his way towards the captains quarters. All but Andrei hear the shout of waterspout, before the great mass of wind and water crashes down upon both ships to demolish them and hurl the party unconscious into the sea, although J was able to grab his other hammer. Darkness swirls around them and they are consumed by it.
• They travel drifting with the waves as they drift in and out of conciousness. Dreams and dark images harass their mind as they drift above and below the waves. Eventually, A, F, J, and L find themselves washed upon a beach with mountains staring before them and sea behind them, Valkyrie eating grass around them, the weather cold and rainy. The group stands and regroups, L leading Valkyrie with them. F finds Shadow’s hat and picks it up. F “He might want it.” J “He might be drown.” F “A memento then.” A “Where are we?” F “Hopefully Varja. Is this even Varja, I hope so.” J “Lets go into that mountain.” A “Fine, into the mountains.” They travel into the mountains, and just shortly before nightfall they find a small village, that appears to subsist mostly upon fish. A younger woman comes over to them, and begins to talk to them in Yamato Shun. No one understands, J “Latin” L talks in all her languages, the woman slightly nods after Yamato, and gestures for them to follow. She leads them through the village, past a small shrine to a Kami, and then leads them to a small house, she knocks, talks to a pair of voices behind and they enter. L talks in Yamato Shun to the pair of elderly within the wall, they have horrible accents. The party asks where they are (Liang Peaks in Shivat), the couple asks how they got here (ship sunk by waterspout), and J tells L to ask when it is (6,986, approaching winter). They are shocked by the date, but J and F assume that they must be using a different calendar, the couple says the traditional calendar of Kuon Teikoku. They ask for climbing gear if they can purchase some (bad rope for the nets), any landmarks (the tallest mountains), food (some rice, nuts, and salted fish), the animals that could be found (goats, large cats, and sometimes angry spirits) the elders suggest they make an offering at the local shrine, F 2 GC, Andrei 3 GC, L left 10 silver and Molly’s old food. She also buys some food from them. As they go through the mountains towards the next village. All of them go hunting for food in the mountains along the path, J kills two by throwing hammers, A fails to kill his goat, and it counters with a headbutt that sends him stumbling back, and L lifts one with her psychic powers to bring it over J to crush its skull with his hammer. J carries one, A carries the other, and L uses her psychic power to float it just behind her.
• They travel peacefully through the mountains for two days, and as the moon rises on that November night a full moon rises above them, and J asks if anyone can remember what the moon was like before they were before they sunk, and L says that it was about a week to the next full moon. J “So, we’ve either been out for a week or a month.” F “I hope only a few days since otherwise we were underwater for nearly a month underwater. Or we were passed out on a beach for that long.” L “Very strange either way, if only for a few days.”
• With the full moon high in the sky the four of them spotted five figures on the road (Taiko the Fallen in his armour and helm, and his four demon guards). T “It has been too long since last we saw each other.” J “Can’t say I agree, since I don’t recognize you.”
• F to J “So, he’s all yours, since you have that feud thing with him, so I might join in if you die or something.” F then moves to engage the Gandalfhon on the right, initiating his technique and attacking, but it blocks it with his blade and lashes in with the claw, and wraps the bladed fingers to completely grab and paralyze Fenix in its grasp, raising it up to its face. J charges T, who absorbs both of the attacks on his full shield, and he begins charging energy into his nodachi, and then cuts J slightly with his blade. J “So, those others know to stay out of this right?” T “They will do as I tell them. I don’t need their help to deal with you.” L unleashes a Mind Control on the Gandalfhon that holds Fenix, gets a hold of the creatures torturing mind. A transforms and goes to attack the Gandalfhon on the left, bringing his Nemesis infused blade to bear on the creature, carving into its flesh. Each of the Aooni use their Onikaminari, lightning washing out from their storms, the armour and mystic shields of all of them soaking up the bolts, with Valkyrie taking some pain. The left Oni then brings its kanabou against A and hurts his heavy form. The right Oni goes over to Lynn and brings its kanabou down upon her, her shield soaking up the damage. L has the controlled Gandalfhon to set down F, and then has it attack the Oni that is fighting her, and strikes it across the back of its head and wounding it. Having Surprised Taiko, Jormangander unleashes his attacks, the first being soaked up by the armour, and the second tearing into him solidly, knocking him backwards. L refreshes her psychic shield and then tells Valkyrie to run away. L’s Gandalfhon attacks the Oni again, but the claw is pulled away at the last minute by its own will, the second carving heavily into it. F attacks the Oni that is fighting and L, burying his flaming fists into the demon’s back. The other Gandalfhon attacks A, its claw grabbing onto him and decreasing his movement, then he brings his weapon down upon him in order to harm him once again, and then charges Ki. The Oni lightings lash out, L avoids the first one, F and J dodge and block, and A takes pain as it strikes him, and the second one carves into L, Valkyrie also takes damage, the lightning bolt stikes Andrei onto his back, unconscious, F armour soaks it up, and J takes another solid lightning bolt. The two Oni move over to Fenix and swing with their weapons, the armour soaks up the first, and dodges the second. T continues to charge his weapon, energy creating whirlwinds. J surprises T once more, and unleashes a flurry of blows, the first is blocked and deflected the blow, then unleashes Magnum to cleave J arm, he shouts “Run!” as he dies, from him and hurl him 150 ft. down the mountain road. F listens and flees down the road, away from the battle. L tells her Gandelfhon to hold the line, and then uses her Organic Psychokinesis in order to pull Andrei up and away, slightly more slowly. She then has her Gandalfhon attack the other, by putting its claw through the other’s chest killing it instantly, and deflecting its counter attack in order to strike at the other Oni as well. It holds the line as the two Oni and Taiko then proceed to cut it down after it buys the party enough time to escape.
• Down the mountain path they flee, charging through the falling rain and taking the one fork that they crossed earlier, in order to progress further away from the town they left, but leaving the village to not draw Taiko’s attention to it. They run down the path, fleeing and Lynn healing Andrei so that he can get back up. F uses Ki detection to see whether T and the Oni are pursuing, he can catch the faintest of blinks from them, a slow pursuit. They set up a camp far off the mountain path to rest, waiting in the dark and the rain.

Copyright © 2012 by Jeremy Marshall

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Passage Into Phaion
Another Step Towards Dreams

• Breakfast platters are waiting outside them as they wake up. J and Andrei eat their breakfasts and then go down to wait for the zeppelins. L eats and talks to Hadiyya, H mentions she is thinking of traveling to travel to Shivat to learn more about martial arts, L says she doesn’t have enough money to help her there. Shadow attempts to scope out the area and watch people go by, but doesn’t notice anything strange except for the exceptionally busy pace of the city. Shadow goes to a weapon merchant and purchases 20 +5 arrows and a replacement chakram. F goes and buys some +5 hardened leather armour made from arctic wolf hide (grey white in colour.) and then goes to the airport to wait for the zeppelin.
• H and L realize that she will probably need to borrow money from the other party members. They go looking around the hotel for them, but cannot find them. H “Do you think that they might be at the airport?” L “Hopefully.” They go to the airport, L taking Molly with her. They are able to spot the group standing around with a large gap of space around them. H addresses the entire group saying that she needs money. She needs to borrow a loan. J laughs at it. F “How much money are we talking about this, and how will you be paying it back.” H “220 GC, and paying it back with money.” F “With money and…” H “I don’t think I like where this is going. A traditional payment for the amount and interest.” F “Ah, interest.” He gives her the 220 GC. J “Congratulations, now you can come with us.” To Fenix “You know you may not ever get that money back. We don’t have a particularly good track record with women.” H “What do you mean?” J “Well, that chesty chick, what was her name,” L “Sophia. She through herself into that golem.” J “Then Taiko through that blind woman.” L cringed. H “Who throws and blind woman?!” L “He forgot I was blind.” J “Then there was that other woman that vanished.” Andrei “That was Anya.” Shadow looks around for eavesdroppers, and spots Bridgette looking at them, so Shadow glares at her, Bridgette just smiles and waves. Fenix notices Bridgette waving, checks her out. L comments on how Fenix had died once, and Bridgette checks out Fenix some more. They then wait for the zeppelin.
• At 8 pm they board The Sky Eagle, A dislikes being separated from his weapon for a time again. J makes them let him keep his weapons. The room assignments are: S, H, and J in one, Andrei, L, and Fenix in two. H and J talk H “So where are you from, what’s a northman doing here.” H “Do you really kill people for money.” J “I more kill people and take their money.” H “How does that feel?” J “Liberating.” H asks if there is anything that they shouldn’t be doing in order to avoid their hammers. J describes what makes people fight him, that he warns them first and lets them surrender and live if they ask for it.
• They travel for the time, enjoying the food, and land in Chaville for a time. H brings up the fact that they will need to leave Phaion and cross a sea in order to reach Shivat. H makes a map using foods from the table to explain things. They hadn’t though about it yet. The zeppelin then takes off once again and makes its way to Lannet. After the next chunk of time they arrive in Markusias.
• The strange arrangement of east and western culture and makes for strange sight. J finds the first rich long time person around the zeppelin and asks for the nearest port town (Hong Kua), what the fastest way to it would be (Through the Matsu Forest or following the east road), and then H asks how far it is (over 1000 km). They let the others know, they try to figure out what to do, L riding Valkyrie, F riding Buttercup. F offers to let H ride behind him, saying he’ll add it to the tab. H begins to think there is more then just money on F mind. J gets tired of the discussions about whether they need to get horses, and so goes to the market to buy rations, fills his wineskins in the fountains getting some strange looks. Notes that there are efficient looking guards that they aren’t afraid. They hear about the war between Abel and the Azure Alliance growing and threatening to begin, that The Church is preparing for their Crusade against Kushistan, and that the Eternal Shadow Wars seems to have begun again in on Varja, as well as their planning on their war against Dwanholf. F and L buy food boots and a warmer coat, H buys a horse (red with white stripes) so that she doesn’t have to ride with F, as well as food and water, boots a nice coat and a kimono. Shadow gets new boots and food. Andrei gets a white horse he names Chron and some food. They all leave through the city, J first because he was tired of waiting, assembles a fire, sees TAK leaving the city and staying off the road, gets his fire built up large before the others arrive as the sun has set.
• They sleep outside the city for the night. They are not harassed in the night.
• They travel peacefully for three days, and then they reach the edge of the Matsu Forest, and a foresting camp. L asks around in Yamato, finds a worker and asks about the animals found in the forest, nothing too big but some reports of strange lights but nothing big. They sleep for the night in the forestry camp.
• The next day they enter the forest, large pines blocking out the sun, the needles across the ground softening their footfalls and horse hooves, and the quiet filling the air. They travel all day through the woods, Andrei looks for a deer, fails to strike it the first time, chases it and wounds it with a savage slash, then with the third strike tears the beast into bloody halves. As the sun begins to set the group sees forms traveling through the woods around them, Shadow Lynn Andrei and Fenix see them before they vanish into the trees. Andrei brings the deer back. H “What did you do to it!” Andrie “Killed it. Now I’m going to eat it.” He cooks it up with the flames and offers the food to everyone but H, L gives her portion to Molly. H is understandably pissed but hides it well. Andrei takes the rest of the deer meat with him. They sleep at night, with J taking first watch, H, S and F taking second watch, and L and S taking third.
• During the third watch Lynn and Shadow see a beautiful woman with vines, leaves and flowers in her hair, quite naked. She gestures towards them, and L goes through her languages until she gets to Yamato and says “Can I help you.” Shadow wakes up the other, J angrily with his hammer, Fenix completely exhausted and H angry. The strange woman responds that they should leave the forest because it is sacred ground. J says they will continue forward. The woman warns that they will have suffering and death and pain. L translates again, but J says they are continuing forward. The woman says that that could not be good, and then vanishes. They then discuss about continuing forward and that they should H “Do these things happen to you often?” L “More often then they should.”
• The next day they continue forward through the forest, weapons out, Jormangander with both hammers out. H in Jashu “If he has these hammers out does he suspect trouble.”, L “Often enough he is, and after last night he’s probably right.” S “Those hammers are a part him, just go with it.” F in Latin “Abel Christ, can we please just talk in Latin for a moment.”
• As they travel through the forest in the later afternoon they approach a grove where a Huldra is playing their instrument, sitting around stones that look like all remains of old temples, and Shadow notices that there are also 8 Cait Fildais, 2 Hamadryads (Willows), and an Archchimera. L asks to put an Area over H, H “How do you mean.” L “Grant me access so that I can use my powers through you.” H “I don’t like that much. I don’t care much for puppetmasters.” L “I won’t control you.” F uses Erudition for a general power scaling, and senses hostility. H “Do you actually insist upon solving this with violence.” The others just shake their head as she steps down from her horse and enters the grove. She speaks to the Huldra in Yamato Shun, for a time in an attempt to understand if they can cross in peace. The Huldra says no because there is the chance that their presence will awaken forces best left to slumber. H asks if there is a way for them to pass without waking them. The Huldra says that they can’t, as their very presence shifts the worlds around them and causes disruptions around them. Their crossing would cause a great deal of pain and suffering to the world around them with their mere presence. They shouldn’t cross here. They switch to Latin so that the others can understand. H says that she will stop and go around, tries to convince J but he refuses, saying that they will continue to travel forward. The Huldra offers to let any that wish to stay live and escape, if they cannot convince J. Everyone else agrees with J on this one. H says that she will sit out this one out, goes over to the side and sits to watch. Shadow also attempts to try and negotiate whether they could go through the forest, what kind of a creature they could summon with their passage. The Huldra isn’t particularly helpful and maintains vague descriptions. She says the others should follow in H example, since she accepts that she cannot beat the forces before her and that it would lead to her death. H gets to her feat at this point and shouts “Wait now you stupid bitch, I never said anything like that!” The force of the cry startles the Huldra into breaking a string on her instrument, and she looks up with hatred in her eyes.
• The Huldra plays her lute to cast an empowered Shield Area Essence Spell, then moves behind a large pillar to cover them. The Archchimera steps over to cover the Huldra between pillars, and began having its eagle heads charge their flames. H is able to enter the area and charges towards the Willow Dryad on the left, punching through the stone shield she summoned to strike her. The other Willow Dryad fired a water blast at H, who dodged it so the water smashed against a rock. L unleashed her highly concentrated Psychic Assault, striking down against all of their mental shields against them. F unleashes his Arcane Energy Armour, but is rebuffed by the barrier of the Huldra and is unable to enter. Shadow fires a regular arrow at the injured Dryad, piercing her heart to have her crumble into dead wood, then fires a second shot at the other dryad which throws up a stone shield, but the arrow strikes her solidly. The mass of Cait Fildais lunge to swarm around H, unleashing their attacks upon her, but she is able to use her Lama to avoid their strikes. Andrei moves through the barrier and begins to transform. J is also repulsed by the bubble, so he moves around it to be on the other side of the bubble behind the Cait Fildais’s. Fenix moves to join Jormangander there as well, activates his Inner Fire, and punches a tree, J “I like that idea.” The Archchimera continues to charge his flames, moves over to Andrei and carves into him with his talons, then the tail lashes out but he soaks it up. H uses an Area Attack to kill one of the Cait Sith, she attempts to escape, but is kept pinned in there with the other 7. L fires a Mind Control through the area, dominating the Archchimera’s central head and the dryad. L tells the dryad to attack the Huldra, and tries to hit with its hands but doesn’t succeed. Andrei Transforms… he then sets about murdering some chimera, beating a solid blow into it. The Huldra accumulates Zeon. J drops one hammer to Area Attack the Cath Fildaises through the barrier directly in front of him, shattering the three within his reach easily, and then throws his hammer at the Huldra causing her head to cease to exist in a great shower of glowing magical goodness, causing the bubble to dissipate. F charges the Archchimera and attacks it with his flaming hands, causing a heavy strike against the great beast. Shadow shoots an arrow into the Archchimera, but the arrow buries itself into the tree to his left. The Archchimera unleashes its tail to strike at Fenix, but his armour stops him from being poisoned, the Archchimera then unleashes its columns of flame, one over Lynn, Andrei, Shadow, and the horses and Molly, the other over Fenix, Cait Fildais, Hadiyya, and Jormangnader, crippling Valkyrie and Chron, bruising his ribs and burning her fur, H horse is seared but still alright, Buttercup is consumed in the flames, as was Molly, Lynn takes heavy damage from the flames that roll over her, Shadow is also struck by the flames solidly, and Andrei soaks it up, Jormangander is also burnt but not as bad, Fenix ducks below it against the creature, and Haddiya is struck heavily by the flames, and all of the Cath Fildais are incinerated. L then tells it to try and attack one of the eagle heads to start trying to claw it off. H succumbs to the Sleep Pollen of the Cait Fildais. J ignored his pain with withstand pain, moving towards the chimera that attacked him. F attacks the Archchimera twice, striking it well once, and drives his second blow solidly into it. L uses Ki healing to regenerate some of her injuries. L tells the Dryad to mystically attack the chimera without hurting those around it, and so it uses it’s hair to strike at the creature, slightly injuring. Transformed Andrei brings his blade to bear against the chimera, slashing into it solidly. L tells the dryad to attack the chimera again, so it slightly hurts it again, then tells the chimera to attack its eagle head again, doesn’t quite destroy it, the eagle heads resume charging flames, and the snake lashes out at Andrei, stabbing into him slightly and failing to poison him. S fires at the chimera, hitting it twice with his arrows. F uses his flaming fists and fatigue in order to strike against the chimera, striking it heavily and causing it it to be burning. L waits and watches. J steps forward and unleashes a pair of swings against the beast, the first a great swing and the second even heavier. H strikes against the chimera, but fails to hurt the beast. Andrei swings with his blade in another great solid blow. The archchimera remains on fire and lashes out with its tail against Fenix, but his armour soaks it up, the archchimera attacks twice to tear off the one eagle head and start clawing the other. Fenix chills exhausted. L moves her shield to protect Valkyrie also, seeing the fire building once more, moving away from the side where her companions are fighting the beast. L tells the Dryad to attack the chimera, but doesn’t hurt it. J swings twice at the eagle head, the first swing failing, but the second nearly taking the eagle head off. Shadow fires an arrow at the eagle head, killing it, sending a second arrow towards the body hitting it solidly. Transformed Andrei swings twice with his blade, the first tearing a great bloody chunk from it, the second hitting him less solidly. Haddiya attacks the archchimera, hitting it incredibly solidly. L tells the chimera to attack itself twice, tearing great holes with its claws. The tail it sends against J, but his armour absorbs it. Andrei unleashes another pair of attacks, solidly striking the beast. J then unleashes two attacks that nearly topple the beast, causing it to cough up blood. H uses a heavy attack in order to hit it very solidly. L waits and has the dryad attack the chimera, but fails to hurt it again. F attacks the chimera, striking it solidly with his exhausted palms. S sends an arrow into the chimera, piercing its destroyed bird head to send it down, the rest then burning down to ashes. J crushes the dryad.
• Andrei transforms back into his regular form. L checks on the horses and tends to them. She realizes that they can be saved, and so heals them with Ki Healing to keep them alive. F “So, can we set up camp for the night here?” H “Yes, we can start a fire with this [raises the lute]” F points to the burning chimera “We have a fire right here, quite nice.” J “Should you even be traveling with us. You called us worse then slavers.” H “My family are some of the leading slave traders in Kushistan.” J “You also planned on just sitting back and not doing anything until you were called out personally.” H “Your point.” J “So why should you be allowed to travel with us still?” H “Still traveling in the same direction.” J “Not a good reason.” S “I agree with J.” Heads over to and spends time by the fire. L puts up her tent. J “You can stay with us for now, only until you’ve paid off your debt to F. Until then you can stay with us and have a chance to prove your worth.” H contemplates it for a while, setting up camp further away in the clearing.

Copyright © 2012 by Jeremy Marshall

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A Knight of Azure
Finding The One of Legend

• Lynn reconnects her senses with Molly. TAK “I’m here to meet the one known as Kagura.” J “She doesn’t exist.” TAK “So this was a trap.” J “Trap is the wrong word. The person that you actually want to meet with is Nathaniel Gotrelas. We can either lead you to his tower now, or give you directions.” TAK “What would you prefer?” J “It might be easier for you to sneak there without us.” TAK looks across at all of them, and then says that is acceptable. J gives directions. TAK sits down in a chair with his large cloak. The others (J, F, L, S, Andrei) all leave, finding Meidas and Gregor having a large argument in the front gate. They argue over why each one is here, the simple obvious place and false group. They argue over the differences in their organizations. They argue for twenty minutes, and then leave in opposite directions with Meidas heading towards Nathaniel’s Tower. They get into the wagon, J and Andrei driving, and head off. They pick up Nathaniel on the way, F “It worked, we gave him directions to your tower.” Nathaniel “Do you have any idea what will happen when he arrives at my tower and meets Helmut without my permission to enter.” F “He seemed like a reasonable man.” Nathaniel “If you say so.” Sleeps on the way back. Get back to the tower, Nath opens the door, and everyone but Andrei notices the blood on the carpet. Nath “I told you this would happen. Helmut, you’d best not be dead.” Helmut “Not dead sir, only heavily injured.” TAK sat in one of the chairs nearby. L uses Ki healing to repair some of Helmut’s injuries. Nath “Good Helmut, now clean up that blood that you got on my carpet.” Helmut “Yes sir.” Helmut begins cleaning up. Nathaniel asks TAK what he is doing here, and what he is looking for. TAK says that he needs more additional information on Orochi, and where he could find it. Nath “Why,” TAK “I need to destroy it.” Nath “You plan on destroying an Aeon, by yourself?” TAK “Yes.” Nath “Sure. Alright, let me do some research.” Nath heads up stairs. Nath “Helmut, fetch my reading glasses!” Helmut “Yes sir.” He goes up to look for the glasses. TAK and the others sit, none of them saying a word. After an hour of research Nath and Helmut came back down. Brings a large black leather book. He describes the simple details about Orochi. Background, what it is and does, what it is supposed to do. TAK asks where he would find it. Nathaniel tells him the forest that Orochi might be able to be found in. TAK thanks him, and asks how he could get to Varja. Nath “Well, you could walk, or take a boat, but it would take a very long time. You could also take a zepplin, but they are very expensive.” TAK “A zepplin then, that could work. I shall be going then.” As TAK is leaving J pipes up “Could you also make a large scene when you leave in order to bring the Inquisition and Tol Rauko with you?” TAK “I will see what I can do.” F scans everyone there’s aura’s to gauge them. TAK leaves. Nath “Well, it looks like you lot have done your part of the bargain, now I suppose it is time that I kept up my end of the bargain. What is it that you want to know?” L “Information on the Aeons.” Nath “And which Aeons would that be?” L “Well, we have heard some about Orochi, so information on Rudraksha and Kagutsuchi.” Nath informs them of the simple information and rumours around Rudraksha, and additional information, as well as the location where they believe Kagutsuchi is sealed away. Comments that the one forest is near the mountain range. They try to figure out how to get there, realize that zepplin would be fastest and ask how expensive it would be. Nath has Helmut fetch some tickets from when he did some guest lectures at the Great University of Lucrecio. Says about 800 GC for luxury, asks Helmut how much it was for him to go with him, Helmut says 200 GC. They express that that is a lot of money, and how much more it would be to get the rest of the way. Nath suggests another 1000 GC probably. They try to figure out how they could make that much money. Very expensive, F suggests trying to get in and hide, but L doesn’t like that idea. F asks how long it would take them to get there. Nath says about a week. They try to find some way to make money. Nath offers to let them pick up a puppet he order from Frastas the Puppet Master. F asks Helmut to stand aside asks how much he gets paid, Helmut says that Nath pays his freelance workers better. F asks how much Helmut is paid, he says enough. They go back to the inn for the night.
• In the night F, and S notice that there is a large ki explosion near the edge of the city. F wakes up L, and the two go to the zepplin port to see if TAK is going there. S goes to the edge of the city, finds that most of the guards are there looking for TAK. S doesn’t see any signs of TAK being outside the city, but does see a flash of porcelain armour heading back into the city. F sees that the zepplin won’t be arriving until the next evening. Eventually they return to continue sleeping.
• The group take the carriage out in the morning. Hadiyya is approached by 5 Church guars, she tells them to get out of her way. They call her a heretic, she says that that is little coming from people that can’t prove that their god even exists. L, S, and Andrei notice as they approach from the carriage on the street. The first guard draws his sword, tries to stab her but she dodges the blade and responds with a responding kick to his face, and dodges the other four with barely any effort. Hadiyya “Are you even trying.” Andrei stops the cart and watches. L talks to Shadow “An impressive showing.” S “Indeed.” He steps out of the cart with his Sang Kauw. He charges the closest of the church soldiers, stabbing him in the right shoulder, tearing the limb right off and killing him instantly. H uses a capoeira area attak on three of the still standing guards, hitting the first one solidly, striking the second solidly in the chest, and harming the third as well. Andrei stays on the cart and acts as lookout, notices that there don’t seem to be other soldiers nearby, only civilians. Lynn concentrates for a time. The unharmed guard lashes at Hadiyya with his sword, but she dodges easily. Hadiyya unleashes another area attack, hitting the first one again, the second one taking no damage from the armour but staggered again, and the third hit lighter again. S yells at the other soldiers to leave, very intimidating in the process. They grab their fallen comrade and attempt to fall back. Hadiyya curses after them in Jashu. Lynn hears the insults.
• L gets out of the carriage. In Jashu L offers H a ride. S “Are you alright.” H “I was doing fine. This has made my life much more difficult.” Hadiyya accepts their ride offer. H asks to be taken to her dorm at the University of History and Politics, which is in the same direction but further then the doll shop. H seems incredibly nervous with all this. L “We’ll drop you off at your dorm, we just have a doll to pick up first.” H looks confused at the comment. L “Don’t ask.” H comments on the rarity of a Kushistani woman that has been fighting the Inquisition, and what they would do once they can get some more people. She says that she will need to gather up her belongins and leave now. They make small talk in Jashu, about what Hadiyya is doing here, what her major is, talking about her desire for training and that her father seemed to have the hopes for her that most have for their sons. H “Blessings of Jihamath upon you.” H comments on L dog’s eyes and the psychic matrices and the lack of subtlety of their traveling arrangements.
• They arrive at Frastas the puppet master’s shop. Lynn and Andrei enter. Seeing all the puppets Shadow runs in S “Andrei, guard the carriage, I need to buy something for my son.” They go to Frastas, inform them that they are here to pick up a puppet for Nath. Frastas “Ah yes, Arkayas. A fine piece, a real piece of art she is. Took many an hour of work. I assume you have the papers for her.” L gives them the papers, he goes into the back. S notices that two harlequin (1 male and 1 female) seem to be staring at him, and that they seem to be glowy. Points this out to L. L “Leave them be S, we can be on our way soon enough.” S stares at one, but feels the other staring into him. Frastas comes back wheeling an 8 foot box. Frastas “Here she is. Do be careful with her, she is quite valuable.” S asks about the creepy puppets, if he actually made them himself, Frastas “Yes, from wood from an old burned theater, the most splendid wood.” Shadow buys a small simple puppet for his son, it would cost 1 GC, he pays 2. They go out, and realize that it would be incredibly difficult to make this puppet fit, so they would otherwise have to tie it to the top. S heads back in to ask about it, sees the harlequins have changed places, asks about it. Frastas “I like to move things around, keeps the look of the shop new and different.” S confused a bit asks how to arrange for transporting it. Frastas suggests using a cart. S goes out, tells them this, mentions the puppets, L tells S to focus on the important things and not the puppets. They notice that there is a cart behind Frastas’ shop. L and S go back to ask if they could use his cart, the harlequin’s hanging from the roof and freak out S. S “They moved again.” Frastas, “But I’m sure they’ve always been there,” with a big smile. They ask to borrow his cart, L pays him 5 GC so they wheel the cart around and he ties the doll in place for him. They then head to the University, with S pulling the cart in front of the carriage. They drop off Hadiyya and then return to Nathaniel’s tower. Fenix also heads back to Nathaniel’s tower after seeing no sign of TAK, but does see the regular people coming back.
• All return to Nathaniel’s, F first and notices the others coming pulling a cart. L “It was the only option.” F “What?” L “The cart.” F “Okay.” L “We could only travel here at the speed of Shadow on foot.” F “I was traveling on foot.” S “There were glowing puppets.” L “Again with the puppets.” They argue over the puppets again, L knocks on the door. Helmut opens it, summons Nath, who greets them and asks over his puppet. They take it off and bring it in. They bring it in to his house for him. Nath “Excellent.” S offers to help him open the box. Nath “No, these are the kinds of things to do in its own sweet time, to savour, without a crowd to witness. Helmut shuddered. S then tells him about the strange puppets that he saw, commenting on their supernatural tendencies, and perhaps based on the amterial that they were made out of. L shakes her head about it all and the focus on the damn puppets. Nath “Well, perhaps they are, or perhaps they are not. Maybe its Frastas, maybe it’s not. Maybe Frastas is a puppet himself, [chuckles] but probably not.” He then begins to slowly count out the GC to pay out the group, but there is a knock on the door. Helmut answers and finds Hadiyya al-Rashid Muffarij, who introduces herself, and says that she has to talk to Nath. She tells him the situation that she is in, and that she needs to get back to Kushistan. F offers to count out the coin for him. Nath mentions that he has some friends that are going to be taking a zepplin to Lucrecio. Hadiyya grimaces as she realizes that she will be traveling with them. She tries to figure out a way to have the money to be able to pay for her travel. She asks how, L says she was with them to travel and get the puppet with them, Andrei says that she didn’t help, she was just there. Nath said that she could be paid if she carried the puppet crate up to his 8th floor of his tower. F sells Nath his carriage, since he likes it so much. Nath gives F 300 GC for it to cover his other ticket so that he can buy his second ticket. H, F, and S carry the crate up, place it beside the 10 foot tall large golem. H calls down to Helmut to ask whether they were to open the box and place the puppet, or just put the crate in the wall. Helmut “Lord help you if you open that box.” Nath bristled down below.
• F “The zepplin leaves tonight.” L “Then we best go and purchase tickets.” H “Thank you professor. Here is your receipt, I shall have to wire the money back to you. I shall miss our classes.” Nath “You’d best also keep up with your studies. Once you get back here I expect you to continue back to your old level and better. Otherwise, I’ll kick your ass when you get back.” They head out. Andrei takes back the cart to Frastas. J takes the book that he took back also.
• There are very few guards on the way, only a few Tol Rauko soldiers that don’t recognize F. They go to the airport, buy there tickets. J has a fair argument over being able to have his weapons. S lets them put his Sang Kauw with his luggage. L and H describe J, about the kind of man that he is and what he does. Andrei arrives, L gives him the ticket, they tell him that he can’t have his sword. Andrei “That’s not going to happen. You may peace bond it.” Man, “There is no sheath. You may get it back in your room.” Andrei hands over the sword, but is unhappy. They head onto the zepplin. S, F, J, and L share one room, H and Andrei share a different room. Andrei and S get their weapons back. Lynn changes into a dress. F removes his shirt once more. They all hit up the dining hall, except for F. for all you can eat fine food, S piles his favourites high, the others find what they want, H more Kushistani food with a large cup of coffee. F decides to go looking for TAK. He uses Ki Detection, finds TAK in one drawing room, and detects one powerful soldier that is coming towards him after using it. Goes to the door, knocks, no respons, F “Is that you in there?”, no response. Decides to go to the dining hall, passes a lovely woman in a long flowing hoop dress going the other way, who eyes him as she passes. Entering the hall, L shakes her head; “I had hoped that charade would have lasted a little longer.” H blushing “Why isn’t he wearing a shirt?” L “He was on his best behaviour in Hausser. Trying to be subtle.” F lets J know that TAK is here with them. J “Is he in our room.” F “No.” J “Good.” F also lets them know about the one guard that seems quite capable. L and H discuss the university, and Nathaniel’s teaching style. F sees the woman enter the dining cart, and he approaches as she grabs a small sandwich. F “Name’s Fenix.” Woman; “Nice to meet you Mr. Fenix.” F “And you are?” Woman “Bridgette.” F “So what brings you here.” Bridgette “Travelling to see what of the world while I have the time.” F “Limited means?” Bridgette “Not so much, but it is expensive to travel.” F “What’s there to do for fun around here?” Bridgette “Well, the dining cart has a great amount of food, chatting with other guests, as well as soft feather beds.” F “Understandable. Couldn’t help but notice that you were checking me out in the hallways.” Bridgette “Well, you are a most unique specimen.” F “That I am.” Bridgette “And why are you here Mr. Fenix?” F “Travelling business. What I do specifically is harder to say.” Bridgette “Ooh, a mysterious man are we. A great deal of things of interest I’m sure.” F “Where are you going to.” Brigette “Du’Lucart for now.” F “Will you be there for a time?” Brigette “Perhaps.” F “Maybe I’ll see you again then.” Brigette “Maybe.” She takes a bite of her sandwich and then leaves through the different doors. They all eat a great deal, drink the various beverages, Andrei the liquors, S the teas. They talk about a great variety of things, S consuming food in the corner, L and H talk, then include F also to talk about martial arts. L “He’s even learned to sleep with his eyes open.” H “How do you learn that, and why would you want to.” L “Repeated kicking.” H is stunned into silence, and drinks more coffee. After gorging himself on supper, Shadow moves on to dessert.
• F leaves and goes back to the room where TAK was, but it was still locked. F “I suppose I shall see you when we land.” A returns to his room, finds the blinds drawn and door locked. Unlocks the door, goes in, sees TAK in his room. Andrei nods to him, sits, and sleeps. S falls asleep in the dining cart. H opens the door, sees TAK, slowly enters and closes the door. Goes to her seat. H “I’m going to live through the night aren’t I?” She gets no response. She stares out the window, trying to ignore TAK, but shakes like a leaf before sleeping.
• They spend the other days of travel aboard the zeppelin. H eventually sleeps, and lives. F eventually gets the others to open the doors and finds TAK with his companions.
• They arrive in Du’Lacart. F asks TAK “Will you be going to Varja next.” TAK “Yes, I will be taking the next zeppelin.” The next zeppelin leaves the next day in the evening. L to H “So, what will you do now.” H “Well, I need to try and cross the largest desert in the world without money, and by myself. This leaves me with a few options, several that I won’t even consider.” L “That helps then.” They head out, and L asks how much a ticket to Markushias would be. 220 GC. L “You’re welcome to come with us if you can get a ticket.” H “I’m against prostitution and murder on a basic level, so it sounds like I won’t be able to.” L “Shall we buy our tickets tonight then and explore Du’Lucart until the zeppelin comes tomorrow.” All but H buy their tickets for tomorrow, then L offers to give H some coin to help her along her way, gives her 5 GC. H “I’m against taking it, but under the current circumstances I need it. Thank you.”
• F sees Bridgette and asks her where she will be staying, Bridgette “I have some family that she will be staying with.” F “Ah, I see. Would you be free tonight.” Bridgette “Perhaps, but I could persuaded.” F “Well, you and my chest could become better acquainted.” Bridgette “Sorry, but I’m not quite that free.” Runs a hand done his chest and then turns and leaves. Fenix curses his foiled luck.
• J leads them to the nearest hotel, which is an incredibly expensive hotel known as the “Glittering Magistrate”. Lynn walks into a lighpole, while the rest hear a female scream down an alley and run after it.
• Within the alley they see a young woman being stood over by a Symbiosis. The Light Side of the Symbiosis charges zeon. Shadow charges the dark side, stabbing it heavily with his Sang Kauw and causing dark blood sprays all about. F and H go at the same speed, F “Ladies first.” H attempts to attack the dark side also, catching the limb with its dark claw and flinging it away. F charges and attacks the light half, which throws up a supernatural shield of light that absorbs the incredibly solid attack. L throws up an energy shield over herself. Andrei moves forward and attacks the dark half, the light have intercedes its shield in the way, absorbing the strike from his blade as light sparks and fragments. The dark half hisses and spits at all of you. The tongue lashes out towards Shadow, but he is able to dodge the lashing and lunging tongue from the creature. The light half fires a light beam at Fenix, grazing him with a solid blast. Fenix accumulates ki, and activates his Arcane Armour power. H lashes against the dark half, punching it solidly in its awkward face. Shadow attacks the dark half again, and stabs it through its right calf to bring it down to its knees, bubbling away in a mixture of light and dark bubbles as the tongue lashes away in the air.
• H checks on the unconscious girl. Pats her on the cheek, but finds that she is quite out cold. L “Shall we take her back to the inn, to wait for her to wake up?” H “That would probably best.” All of them then notice 3 individuals in trench coats running towards them. They wait for them, with S standing defensively. The woman in charge “State your business and why you are here.” F “We just arrived in the city, got of the zeppelin, heard a scream, and investigated.” L “We don’t know what it was, some kind of abomination.” Woman “And you dealt with it.” F “Yes.” S “And who are we dealing with?” Woman “Talia, agent of The Requiem.” H “The Requiem?” F “We’re quite far from home.” Talia “We are an investigation group.” L “We were thinking of taking the girl in to the inn in order to take care of her.” Talia “A noble pursuit. We will take care of her however. We will also need to get statements from all of you, but that we can do here.” H “How do you mean take care of her?” Talia “Ensure that she recovers.” H “Good.” They get their statement, then take the girl and allow the others to leave. They go back to the hotel, and all get their own rooms except Lynn and H who share a room. They turn in for the night.

Copyright © 2012 by Jeremy Marshall

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Universities of Adventurers
Loss of Friends, Finding Knowledge, and Dangerous Chances

• They enjoy supper with Nathaniel, Fenix asks him many questions, including if he knows any old martial arts masters from bygone eras. Nathaniel says that it isn’t really his specialty.
• Andrei notices that he has been receiving a lot of attention from groups of soldiers that watching him for the last 10-15 minutes. He stares back. They come over and ask what he is doing. Andrei “Guarding the carriage for my master.” Inquisitor Soldier “And who is your master and where is he?” A “Master Fenix, he is in the tower over there.” The guards go over, knock, Helmut answers the door. They ask for a mister Fenix. F “Yes, that would be me.” Soldier “Is that your ugly servant following you and in that carriage?” F “That’s not very nice.” Sodier “You didn’t answer my question.” F “Yes he is my servant.” Soldier “And why is he…” F “So ugly, why are you so cruel?” Soldier “I want to know why,” says whether he’s been drinking. The evening ends and they go back.
• They go back to the inn (Andrei and Jormangander driving), notice a crowd infront of the inn, serving girl tells them what is going on, BB heavily injured kicked out by High Inquisitor and his honour guard. He comments on the witchcraft, the party draws weapons, and Shadow throws his chakram into the chest of the honour guard holding the barrel of kerosene. High Inq “Seize whoever is responsible for that!”
• J ponders for a moment about his Code. L “What should I do.” F “I’m getting out.” L “If I get out too will you lead me?” F “Yes.” Lynn drops her psychic powers and has Fenix and Molly lead her away. S kicks open a door, gets out with bow drawn, runs back the way they came and shouts back “Drive you idiots!” Fenix exits the vehicle with Lynn, and stands beside the carriage. Andrei sits in the drivers seat beside Jormangander. Meidas moves to stand over BB. The soldiers (Ecclesiastical Guards) push their way through the crowd, Jormangander points towards Shadow, shouts “He went that way!” and throws a hammer to shatter a cobblestone near Shadow, the soldiers nod. The honour guard go, break open the kerosene cask over BB, and Meidas ignites him with a snap of his gloves. BB screams as his flesh and fat begins to be consumed by the flames. Shadow fires an arrow into the mass of soldiers, injures one and then proceeds to flee as quickly as possible. The soldiers all 18 of them continue to chase Shadow. Andrei sheaths his sword and tells F “Master F, please return to the carriage.” Fenix and L return to the carriage. Jormangander gets his hammer back and returns to the carriage. One of the honour guard (Psy Hunter) goes over to the carriage while Meidas and the others continue to watch BB burn. While fleeing through the streets Shadow dives between buildings in order to duck into a pool of darkness in order to try to Hide (Impossible Hide), the group runs past him until the last one trips over his leg, looks and doesn’t see him and continues to run past. BB is still burning. The honour guard moves to talk to J and Andrei to speak to them “Do you know anything about this man.” J “We saw him come out of the shadows and threw his weapon. That was it.” Guard “Why are you here then.” J “I’m just a bodyguard for the woman inside.” Goes over to the door and knocks, F pulls back the drapes. Guard “I’m here to speak to the master of the group.” F “That would be me.” Guard “I was told the master was a woman.” F “I don’t need body guards so much as my lady does.” Guard “Understandable, do you know anything else about this man who attacked my collegue?” F “I was inside this carriage, it slightly limited my vision as it were.” G “Why are you here?” F “Here for research.” G “Have a good night.” As he walks away F leans out the window “You as well.” The guard gives back a deadpan look and walks away. The carriage then leaves.
• Shadow follows the carriage for a ways, then sneaks back over and whispers to them, J isn’t surprised. F demands to know why Shadow attacked, S wanted to give BB a chance for a final attack, more arguing. Shadow changes to a different cloak and takes off his hat.
• They find the Poxy Donkey Inn fairly nearby, and that it is completely empty. F pays for the rooms to maintain the scherade. J takes his own room, S and Andrei, L and F. L gives F a few gold coins to help him maintain the façade. L shakes her head at how Shadow seems to behave with T previous chaos, even though she loved him. They go to sleep.
• They wake up the next day, J has breakfast of rations, they discuss what they need to do being finding The Azure Knight, and F wishes to go to The Crimson Sundroplet. F comments how they don’t really know where to find The Azure Knight, since J didn’t mention before since it didn’t really matter. J says that he does enjoy bobbles sometimes as well.
• They go to the tower where they last saw The Azure Knight. J and Andrei drive, J with his hammer out. J asks Shadow to look for any trace of The Azure Knight. Shadow looks around, and finds that a large stone at the back of the tower has had the mortar scraped out from it. Shadow attempts to see if its trapped, but it doesn’t look like it has. J notices scratch marks on the cobbles. Because it is broad daylight with people they suggest they come back later to try and see where it goes.
• They go to the market district, where Andrei buys himself a new shovel, and Shadow a smaller and less descript hat. L asks F to take her clothes shopping, and he agrees. J stays in the cart and glares at any upitty Hausser people, and Tol Rauko and Inquisitor soldiers. L drops 26 GC on clothes (all luxury), F pretends to be bothered about her spending that much of their money on clothes, Andrei follows them to maintain bodyguard illusion. F asks about where he could find The Crimson Sundroplet, and is told that if he wants those kinds of things it is found at the far end of this street on in the Market. F also buys a pair of armour arm guards. They go down the street to reach The Crimson Sundroplet. A cramped little one storey building, with an open sign in latin inside the glass window. Andrei guards the cart and Shadow stays in it as Fenix, L, and J enter it. F approaches the desk, where a well dressed older gentleman standing behind the counter. F approaches “Good day.” Owner “Good day, and how may I help you today.” F “I’m looking for a Mr. Green.” Owner “I’m afraid there is no Mr. Green here.” F “Ah yes, my mistake. I’m actually looking for a Miss Aquamarine Sharoo.” He then takes two steps to the left and avoids the small needles that deploy and receed twice. Owner “How may I really help you.” F “A mister Nathaniel Gotrelas said that you might be able to help me with this, it has fallen into a bit of disrepair.” Owner looks at it “And what are you hoping to do with that? You and your friends aren’t members of the new groups that have come to our city?” All three “No.” They activate their passive abilities so that he can note them through his crystal jewlers lens. F “Can you repair it?” Owner “I’m afraid that is not really what we are capable of. I’m not sure anyone could truly repair it. We could trade.” F “Not really interested in trading, but I have some coin to spend.” Owner “How much coin?” F “500 GC.” Owner “May be a little out of your price range.” F “How much?” Owner “A little more then that.” J offers to trade the ring that he got from Saluin for something to increase his reaction time. The Owner descends and comes back with a colden ring with a sunburst topaz in it. Offers it for a straight trade. He accepts it. Fenix had place the chalice on the counter, and asks for something to get him more in touch with his spiritual self. He brings up a thick leather belt studded with blue and green gems. Fenix puts it on, charges Ki and finds that he charges Ki slightly faster. He accepts and also pays an additional 50 GC. They then leave once the curtains are drawn open and the open sign put back up. The Owner thanks them and Mr. Gotrelas for their patronage.
• Head back to the inn and wait for night fall, Lynn changes into a new set of clothes. Get some food, relax, J boos the bad bard that plays on stage “I’d rather listen to nothing then you.” F “You miss Taiko, don’t you.” J “Couldn’t understand half of what he said, but the music was pretty.”
• They head back to the tower, the moon is nearly new and a great deal of cloud covers the sky. They open the brick, and see a dark room cluttered with strange items, and a sleeping guard. F gestures towards the man, J gestures smacking him, J then climbs in and wakes up the guard with a poke of his hammer. Tells him about the Azure Knight breaking in, asks who owns it and if anything was stolen. Says the tower is owned by Alexander Hist, J demands that they wake him up, they go up the stairs as F, L, and S climb in with Andrei staying outside to help put the stone back in. They go wake up Alexander Hist, a large man, mid 40’s, solid jawline and a peach coloured silken robe. He says that his tower isn’t open to the general public, guard says they broke in, J says that the Azure Knight broke in and may have tried to take things. Alexander glares at the guard, they go downstairs and look around for anything out of place. Says that one book about Varja Creation Myths were moved. J asks to borrow it, Alexander “Will I get it back?” J “You have my word.” Alex “And you are?” J “Jormangander.” He gives them the books. J leaves and says “You should probably get that hole fixed.” On the other side, everyone but Shadow hears Hist chew out his guard and make him work for free.
• They return to the inn and Fenix stays up to stare at the pages so that Lynn can read it. Takes her 8 hours (from 10pm to 6 am) in order to go through it. Wake up the others in the morning at 9 to mention that it makes special attention to the Kami, Tsukyomi, Yagarema, and Orochi. They then go to meet with Nathaniel to let him know. Helmut answers the door, F “Is Nathaniel in.” Helmut “He was just about to leave.” J “Perfect.” Nathaniel appears, “Why hello there, how ever may I help you.” J “We found some more information that we wanted to talk to you about.” Nathaniel “What did you find?” L “Some information. Where were you going?” Nathaniel “I have a class that I will be teaching at the University of History and Politics.” L “Well, we could give you a ride in our coach.” Nathaniel and Helmut have an argument about why he doesn’t have a carriage to take him around, and how nice this free offer was. They drive, going straight there until despite Nathaniel’s complicated and long-way directions. They discuss the book that they got from Hist (Nathaniel laughs and mocks Hist) they let him read and take notes as he gets through a third as he goes through the one hour trip. They ask about Varjan experts, and he offers to get them guest access to the university so that they may attend a lecture provided by one of the universities experts. He suggests that he may even be able to get J in with his weapons. J appreciates it. They get to the university, wait for an hour until Nathaniel returns with one 20 year old male student carrying a bunch of uniforms, hands them out, Lynn’s is too big in the chest so the student has to get pins to pin it, J wears the crest wrapped around the sleeve, Fenix and Shadow actually wear the entire uniform, Shadow with a small barret, and Andrei wraps the crest around his sword. Andrei tries to stay with the wagon, but Nathaniel says that he needs to work on his smarts to make up for his ugliness with the women. The student leads them to the class, warning not to be late due the professor being unforgiving, knowing who was last in line, and brings them up for volunteers. The last time was for the first revolt of Varja, and involved lots of red paint. Shadow pickpockets a 13 year old girl for paper and quill. They get there 10 minutes early, only the back two rows are open, so J walks down to the front row, points to 6 people in the front and says “You six, get out of our chairs.” They take their seats. Two enter last, but the professor isn’t there, until Nathaniel enters and says that today he has a special lecture about the Varjan Creation Myths, and gets the last two as volunteers. Makes one earth, the other water, and then has J throw his hammer to shatter one of the lamps up above the stage, showering burning oil down. Nath “Well, you’re earth and water, put the flames out.” The two try and get their shoes on fire. Nathaniel grumbles, grabs some powder, throws it in a column of flame to announce the arrival of the Kami. He then walks over the fires to extinguish them, igniting one corner of his robes, which Fenix and Shadow run up “S sneakily” in order to put the flames out as Nath continues to lecture using the notes he took from the other book. The lecture has mention on Orochi, the Dark Aeon and what it could do to the world in order to cause destruction and doom. Then mentions how they are myths rather then reality, and says that they will continue with their lectures focusing on the second revolt. He then leaves, the class empties, and he comments that he hopes they enjoyed the lecture, and that he couldn’t tell them that he was the teacher, since then his student would be less interested for leading them around. Nathaniel has another class to teach, so the others look around the library since they have access to the library. They look around for more information. Afterwards they ride back, get to the tower and describe that they think they should create a rumour about a new expert on Varjan Creation myths entering the city for a one night performance, Nath suggests L, she says she wants to use a fake name (Kagura), in order to learn what they will be. Nath gives L a map of the University, pointing out the lecture hall she will most likely be using, the dressing room, emergency lecture room (in case of locusts), the clocktower (amazing view), and numerous other locations including an emergency exit route. Nath books a room at the University for the next evening for them, and then goes out to spread word of mouth. The group enjoys a first supper from Helmut, and Nath returns four hours later, although he locked himself out. There is also a tale of the interference of a donkey and some pickled river trout saving him from some inquisitor guards. F “Don’t ask, don’t ask.” J “I want to know.” Nathaniel tells them his ridiculous tale. Fenix uses Erudition in order to gauge how strong he is, Nath around the same level as he is, with Helmut stronger. S, J, and Andrei then decided to head back to the inn for the night, in order to prepare. L and F study for the night.
• As they exit S sees Hisonant standing across from the tower in the darkness, both arms attached and working. His eyes burn into him, S tells J, who doesn’t see anything as Hisontant has vanished. They return to the inn, Andrei and J go to bed, Shadow waits. He later hears the window to J room open. He knocks on the door, wakes up J, “What” S “Your window opened.” J opens his eyes and sees Hisonant entering the chamber. The large man nods towards him. His “It seems I have been foiled twice by your companions. This will be a much waited for hunt.” S “J, let me in.” J “No.” His “After a great deal of disappointing hunts I feel that you may finally provide the opportunity to properly enjoy it. While the act of snuffing life itself can provide all the joy and pleasure that is needed, sometimes we long for a more enduring hunt.” S unlocked the door and opened it, Sang Kauw drawn. His “I would like to give you the opportunity to settle this as members of your warrior caste would prefer too.” J “I’m listening.” His “Find a suitable place for us to do battle, and I will find you so that we might battle, as long as your friends stay out of it.” J “They will.” His “Good. I will see you there.” His then leapt out the window. J, S, and Andrei go for a stroll to the University of History and Politics, past the gate guards, and then J sits upon the bench. J doesn’t even notice His before he is standing behind him. His “Are you prepared?” J “Yes”
• Jormangander and Hisonant meet in the courtyard of the University of History and Politics. Andrei and Shadow follow to watch, Shadow with his Sang Kauw out and tapping it on the cobbles. Hisonant charges, and as the Nemesis aura of cold rolls over Jormangander the chill sinks into his bones as the first snake fang pierces his flesh and digs deeply into his body and injecting their venom (which he resists), the second one then also proceding to bury in next to the first solidly into his body. Shadow watches, knuckles tightening. J strikes using 5 fatigue points to strike back, hitting him solidly with the first attack, then uses another 3 points for his second strike which Hisonant uses two fatigue also and hits him remarkably solidly, but Hisonant’s dark energy prevents any lasting effects. Jormangander pushes the speed of his weapon, but Hisonant is still faster, lashing with his pair of snake fangs, the first just being deflected from his flesh, the second digging heavily into him but he shrugs off the possible crit. J reposts but the hammer seems to avoid Hisonant on principle, so J uses 5 fatigue to try and bring him down, but he also evades the second hammer, leaving J completely exhausted. S “Sorry buddy,” and steps in to swing with his Sang Kauw, driving it through his left shoulder, bringing him down to his knees. Histonant “It seems that this hunt did not have the honour I expected.” J “They weren’t supposed to help.” Hisonant “This is not over yet, even if I might fall there will still be others to finish what I started.” S “I owed you for the scar.” Hisonant “You are lucky you were not my prey, or you would be dead.” Blood bubbling over his lips he died. J wandered away in his fatigued state, S tries to heal him but J slaps the hand away. Andrei loots Hisonant, takes the armour, clothes, and lockpicks, lets S take the Snake Fangs, and they split his gold 3 ways even though J refuses it. Andrei tells one guard that there is a corpse he found, S says that he attacked him and he had to defend himself. The guard says that this could ruin the university’s reputation so they should pay with some restitution, such as the weapons the man used. Shadow gives him 2 of Sophia’s old daggers to the guard, he says it’s not enough, so Andrei digs a hole in one of the gardens and buries the corpse. The guards suggest we never speak of this again.
• S and Andrei catch up to J, Andrei tries to help him but J bats his hand away. They stick with J so that he can home, S gives him the pouch of gold, J throws it , Shadow goes and gathers up the coins. They make it back to the inn after a while.
• After many hours of studying Lynn feels fairly confident, and she and F decide to head back to the inn (F has learned to sleep with his eyes open during this time).
• They wake up in the morning, S buys two of the nicest bottles of alcohol the inn keeper has, and places them and the bag of money beside Jormangander’s bed. J wakes up, gets food, and goes back to bed. S asks the inn keeper where he could find a doctor, or someone trained in the healing arts that could come to the inn in order to help his friend. The innkeeper suggests down a few roads to find some people. S goes off in order to find one of them. He goes and finds an eager young medical man. Leading him back, S describes the patient, med “How big are his hammers?” S “Big enough.” Med “But you’ll keep him away from them won’t you?” S “Not going to happen, can’t do it.” The med student grew very pale “How much are you paying me for this again.” S “Ten gold crowns.” The med student gained a more determined look. “Okay.” S “Twenty if you do a good job.” While enjoying lunch, L, F, and Andrei notice S come in with the med practitioner. L “This I feel we should watch.” They follow the others up to J room. S knocks on the door. J “Go away.” S “I brought someone to help you.” J “I don’t need help, go away.” S opens the door. S “Look, you can take your anger out on the booze, and on the coin, and even on me, but let him help you. We need you too much to let you stay like this.” J glares at the med “Get out.” Med pales and turns to flee, S grabs him and faces him forward. J “You don’t want to do this kid.” S “Let him help you.” J opens the window, throws out the bottles and the sack of coin, which med sees go spilling out the window. J then returns to bed Seeing how much was in it, Med eyes the window. S “You can go get it, but if you do I’m not paying you more and you need to help him for sure.” Med runs down, grabs the bag, and comes back determined, setting down his bag of surgical implements. He then moves over to Jormangander, who grabs one hammer. Med asks him to let him help, and says that he needs to remove his armour. As med puts his hands on the chainmail J pushes him back with the head of his hammer. Med tries again, and J pushes him back all the same before standing. J “You see this wall here, [gestures with hammer], if you don’t leave now it will be you.” Swinging his hammer J puts a great hole through the wall, into the adjoining room of F and L. Med pales, begins muttering one word over and over again, and tries to leave. F “You aren’t done yet. Either leave the money or fix him up.” Med tries to leave muttering but F stops him and looks at him. L “Let him keep the money.” F “No, he didn’t earn it.” Med gives the coins to F, and then leaves. J “Give the kid the money, he was smart enough to leave.” F “No, he didn’t earn it.” F slips the coins into his belt. L throws med some coins. He staggers downstairs muttering a single word “My, my, my, my…” over and over again. S asks if he still has the money, shows a few coins L gave him. S asks which of them took the money, but med continues to mumble and walks from the inn. They wait until 6 pm, since L presentation is at 8 and they want to get to the dressing room an hour early.
• They head to the University of History and Politics. L gets herself dressed, and then has J go out to tell the audience that Kagura has fallen ill and that a guest lecturer will be presenting her notes. The 40 audience members are unimpressed, and in the audience in Inquisitor Meidas, a man wearing a large suit of crimson armour, and Nathaniel. When J tells the rest about the Inquisitor, L realizes that she can’t use her sense connections, since all the others want to stay off stage now. She considers joining her senses with her dog and hiding the actual notes on a lower level of the podium for Molly to read, and has J place them as such in a leather folder, but realizes that she has no good way to turn the pages. She therefore decides to try to perform it from memory, but only remembers enough for a 15 minute presentation. L goes out while the others watch from behind the side curtains. L apologizes for Kagura’s falling ill, persuades the audience into calming down slightly (220), gives her quick presentation, and then flees off stage. L “Alright, lets get out of here.” They head back to the dressing room in order to leave through Nathaniel’s projected secret escape route, and find The Azure Knight standing in it, arms crossed and sword across his back. J “Holy crap, it actually worked.”

Copyright © 2012 by Jeremy Marshall

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An End to Ashes
Old Wounds Must Be Closed Eventually

• BB uses Medicine to heal Shadow, and informs that he has very limited zeon for the casting of Healing magic. The party agrees that Jormangander needs the most reparation a Recover (he lists all the damage that he’s taken from the rooms), and the rest suggest Fenix gets another Heal to also help him (+75).
• Andrei pulls the Key from the Jail Room, Jormangander pulls out the other 4 keys. They place them in the pillar and turn the keys. Jormangander draws both hammers, Taiko his sword, Shadow his bow (to draw complaints from Taiko). The pillar collapses to reveal a gore covered stairwell. They ascend.
• They find themselves in the ashen throne room, and the large statue. The form of Kammist Rall emerges from the ash, talk to Lynn, surround her, talk of what she did. Taiko pushes through. T bets J 10 GC that he’ll be the one to kill Kammist. T “So that is why you sent death.” KR “Tried to understand it by using its power.” T “I just picked up a sword. It’s much easier, and I didn’t lose my family.” The ash vanishes, the statue explodes, and KR and his creatures appear.
• Agent Arturian’s voice ripples through the air as he refuses their damage to reality, and creates the creature doubles.
• The Caller of Infernal Fate charges in, unleashes its grand explosion, reducing Fenix and Lynn to clouds of ash in the fury of flame, heavily harming Andrei, Jormangander, and Taiko, Shadow taking light damage. Kammist stares at the crater that was his hated adversary. The Succubi just stare at Kammist. Shadow sidesteps in order get line of sight to the summoner. Taiko charges the summoner, promising his soul to Tsukyomi as a gift,” lashing down with his sword he glanced across Kammist and Angelise. Andrei skirts around The Caller. The Dark Caller moves behind Taiko to try and defend Kammist, lashes out with its flame backhand striking heavily across Taiko, shaking his knees. Jormangander evades around the first Caller, dropping one hammer to two hand his other one. Lynn’s crystal glows, rhymes about the hero’s purpose not being done, bringing her, and through his pendant Fenix, back to life with half health, and brings them back although mostly naked. Lynn has Molly vision, and access to all the psychic powers. Taiko uses all of his fatigue in a super doom attack (439 final attack roll), Angelise almost gets Kammist out of the way, but Taiko cleaves all three in a shower of gore and ash that paints the ash pick like so many cherry blossoms. Taiko used all his fatigue in the process. Fenix bursts up through the ash, only wearing his pendant and magic cloak, charges Ki, and strikes at the Caller, striking it, but realizing his fire isn’t as effective against the great flaming monster. Shadow buries an arrow deeply into that Caller as well, but it ignores it. Jormangander picks up a second hammer and moves to engage the Caller, but the creatures flaming hide stops it. The Dark Caller raises its hand, brings it down upon the fatigued Taiko to pulp his head with his own shield. Andrei moves against the Caller and attacks with his blade, carving heavily into it with its cold damage. Lynn activates her psychic powers into her again. The Caller unleashes its AOE again, Fenix dodges, Lynn’s shield soaks it up, and Jormangander and Andrei both tank it with their weapons. Taiko’s spirit is satisfied with his noble vengeance sacrifice, and then notices that Lynn is alive, healthy, and naked. The rest of the fight fades from his vision. Lynn stands from the ashes and uses Psychic Assault on The Dark Caller at an Impossible level, solidly crushing its resistance. Jormangander enters wood-chipper mode using his three hammer blows, raining blows down upon it, tearing into its flaming hide. Fenix moves in to strike against The Caller again, hitting it hard with his palms. The Dark Caller moves behind Andrei, lashes down at him with his palm, slapping him unconscious into the ashes. Shadow fires at The Caller, burying another arrow into him. The Caller lashes out with its fist at Jormangander, but his armour just soaks up the pain and suffering. Shadow fires another arrow into the Caller, gouging out the flames in fire. Fenix sends another assault into The Caller. The Caller brings its fist down upon Fenix, who spends all but one of his last fatigue points to try and dodge it, but the fist strikes him heavily, with the wounds and fatigue. Jormangander unleashes his assault upon the Caller again, the two tearing great damage into it, but the third fails. Lynn mind controls the Dark Caller, sending the Dark Caller to bring its arm heavily down upon its flaming brother. The Caller decides to lunge towards Lynn to try and bring her down, Jormangander heavily attacks it as it charges away from him, Lynn uses Psychokinetic Armour and gets thrown against the back wall, but without taking damage. Shadow fires an arrow to greatly harm the creature and slowing it slightly. Jormangander charges back into The Caller, sending his hammer through the creature to carve its right leg from its body. The Caller fades away in glowing flame, and The Dark Caller faded away.
• BB goes over to try and help Taiko, stands there for a moment, frowns and talks to the air for a bit, as the entity tells him that he must let Taiko die because he serves Tsukiyomi, and then comes back. “I’m afraid I can’t bring him back.” Looks at Andrei, “Him I might be able to help him.” J “Do what you want, I’m going to look around.” T’s ghost “You aren’t daring to loot me are you?” J “You don’t need it anymore.” T “You tiny short bastard, how dare you.” J “You know I can still hit you. I’ll let the comment go since you’re dead.” Lynn takes the cloak and backpack. S to T’s ghost “May I take the weapon repair kit?” T’s ghost “Yes.” Jormangander loots Taiko for his money and food, Shadow takes the Gladius Lacrimarum. S “That money would probably better serve many people rather then just one.” J “Probably. I didn’t kill him, so fine.” They split the money. S “Since he was a warrior, can we bury him with his weapons and armour?” J “I don’t want it.” Lynn uses Shadows eyes again. She takes Taiko over and tells his ghost in Yamato that she did love him and is sorry to see him die. Taiko begins playing an Inhuman love song in Yamato. He is only able to begin before his spirit is swept away. BB stabilizes Andrei. Fenix and Shadow loot Kammist, finding the Crystal Challice, which Fenix takes.
• They begin to tend to their own wounds. Lynn takes one of Taiko’s shirts to wear as a dress, taking a strap from his armour to use as a belt, and she also wears Zelna’s purple suade boots.
• Taiko finds himself appearing in Tsukyomi’s Throne room, still singing. Tsukyomi “Looks like your time has come to serve me.” T “So it appears.” Tsukyomi “Well, I have no need of you for now, so you may entertain my demons.” She sends him to the Oni.
• J “Well, looks like we’ve accomplished what we sent out to do here, he’s dead.” L “Can we at least bury Taiko first?” Jormangander carries Andrei out from the building. The horses are lead back out, and Lynn looks in the fire room, but sees that it is only an ashen husk. She coats Taiko in his own alcohol, then lights him on fire and then rapidly leaves. Lynn hooks the destriers back up to the carriage, Jormangander loads food and lots of water into the back. Jormangander drives the carriage while Fenix and Andrei rest, Shadow rides silently in the carriage as does BB. Lynn rides Valkyrie and leads Buttercup.
• On the road again.
• You travel for five days, it is fairly quiet travel through the paths and away. Lynn realizes that her Saint Amulet was destroyed in the fires. While passing along the road, Fenix and Andrei, and Lynn buy clothes from a peddling merchant: F “Sir, do you sell pants.” Man “Yes.” F “Good, I would like to try them on.”, Andrei is sad that they don’t have a shovel. At the end of the mid-point of the fifth day, they see the towers of Hausser rising in the distance. It takes them several more hours to reach the outskirts of the city. There are no walls at all, Jormangander shakes his head.
• Everyone but Lynn notices that there are guards surrounding the entrance, one bearing the mark of The Inquisition, the other bearing the mark of Tol Rauko. Fenix turns off his Ki powers and hides his pendant, they tell Lynn, who gets into the carriage F “Turn off your powers and we’ll tap you on the shoulder three times when we are safe.” Shadow rides Valkyrie and uses Ki Concealment. J “You’d better give me a good reason why to hide.” F “These aren’t nice people.” The guards approach them ask why they’re here, J “Doing research in the city.” Look into the carriage, ask Andrei and Lynn about it, the rest say they are here to protect Lynn. The others inform them that The Azure Knight , argue about their opposing opinions.
• Inside the city. J “I can’t believe they don’t have any walls. Just walk right on in.” F “Shadow, could you assist me in finding information.” S “I could help with that.” F “I wanted to know what kind of presence the Inquisition and Tol Rauko have in the city.” S “That is quite the bit of information.” F “I’m sure you could find.” Andrei asks if he can tap Lynn yet. F “Wait till we get to an Inn.” They notice the Palace of Music. Shadow goes off to look for information, talks to one of the treat sellers, who has a variety of sugared breads, candied fruits, and liquid choclate. Talks of the basic things, the things going around town, which turns to The Azure Knight and the extra soldiers around. S “Really, that would be much trouble. About how many are there do you think?” Patissier “About 500 additional swords have clustered the city.”
• Several hours go by. They continue to explore, looking for inns further into the city near the libraries, the universities, and some towers, but don’t find any. They head towards the Palace of Music, learning that there is a collection of Varjan music and Kabuki theatre there. Groups of 3-4 soldiers of both kinds are found. Jormangander wants to go find a tavern. J looks for someone to ask, sees a local and asks him “Hey, where’s a good place to drink around here?” Man “Visitors? Then closer to the entrance of the city.”
• They go find a tavern “Dancing Bookmark” around 11 pm, Fenix leads Lynn and Shadow enter the tavern while Jormangander leads the Carriage to the back, while Andrei stays with the horses. It is a nice tavern, and 18 Inquisition soldiers are staying there. Fenix approaches the front desk, asks if there are rooms available. There are, they are good quality (25 SC a night per room). Fenix pays for 3 rooms for the night, filling the last open rooms. F “We’d also like some privacy, we have some not social types.” Tavern master “Just please don’t bother the Inquisition soldiers, they are jumpy.” F “I’ll spread the word.” Go up to the rooms. Taps Lynn to wake her up. L “That took a while.” F “Quite the situation in town.” L “What kind of situation.” F “Inquisition and Tol Rauko soldiers everywhere.” L “Great, this is problematic. If he keep a low profile we’ll try to avoid them as much as possible.” F “How much leeway from the Church?” L “Don’t let them see you do anything strange.” F “Caution is the approach, great.” They get the others from the stable. L to J “So, what did you tell the guards, and about me?” J “Gave them my name and said we were here for research. That is all.” L “So, we’ll have to keep things very careful with going through the library, I can read through their eyes too.” J, Shadow, and Andrei all go to get some food. All of the Inquisition guards have gone to bed. After all of them get food, they go to bed. Andrei asks the tavern keeper for good libraries around, he says about the University, common universities, and the private collections due to some being used and others not open to anyone. He goes to bed also.
• Jormangander rooms with Andrei, Fenix with Lynn, Shadow with Baby Blue. Shadow remains very quiet, complementing his failure. Lynn talks to Fenix about what she is hoping to learn “Ki Healing.” Fenix comments on her fragile little body since she is trying to harness it.
• They wake up, eat, discuss what to do. J “Thought we were going to the library.” F “Are we doing anything else too, you don’t strike me as the real reader.” J “I’ll still tag along.” F “I’m not a real reader myself.” Andrei “You going with her, to be eyes, and ears.” L “What languages do you know?” F “Latin” S “Also Jashu.” Andrei “Also Jashu.” L “Also Jashu, Yamato, and Ailish.”
• Fenix wears a shirt!!! Necklace hidden under. They head to the nearest public library. They travel for one hour. Nice single story library, lots of windows and oaken doors. They head inside and find two librarians, one male, one female. “May we help you, gentlemen, and woman, find anything.” Fenix “Yes, we are looking for information on things.” Library “Anything more specific?” F “Anything on history? Could you point us in that direction.” Point to the 18 aisles. F “Any more specific things?” They give the subheadings, nothing before Zhorne began combining the Empire. F “Anything before that.” Librarian “Some in the mythology section.” F “Excellent, we will go there then.” Jormangander waits as the others look for books. Shadow finds some, the others don’t and gives them for the others to read. Andrei gets nothing from it, Lynn and Fenix sit arm in arm in order to work together, Jormangader takes another. Andrei and Fenix get nothing, Lynn gets some simple myths despite Fenix’s failures for basic creation myth’s, Jormangander finds some more indepth ones, commenting on three names; Rudraksha, Kagutsuchi, and Orochi. They find no other books, and think of moving to try a University library. Lynn donates a GC as they leave.
• They go to the University of Science, but find the gate barred to people with weapons. Those that have weapons refuse to leave their things, so Shadow waits outside in the carriage, Lynn and Fenix head into the University of Science, and Jormangnader and Andrei go looking for a private collector.
• Fenix and Lynn pretend to be a couple as they walk to the Administration Buildings. The buildings are large and incredibly fancy. They go to the Admin desk. The older woman behind the desk L “Hello miss.” Admin “Miss, now aren’t you sweet. What can I do for you?” Lynn “We are looking for information on the Aeons.” Admin “This is the University of Science, we don’t deal with such dribble here.” They try to persuade, but she has no information about these kinds of things. They go looking for the University of The Arts.
• Jormangander and Andrei go to the nearest tower with a private collector. They go to the tower of Nathaniel Gotralas. They knock, a guard wearing chain beneath a suit, holding a walking stick. They ask if the owner of this tower has a private library that they could use. The guard says yes, but his master would have to meet them in person before hand. He is currently out but should return for his evening meal. The two of them go looking for the next nearest tower.
• Lynn, Fenix, and Shadow go to the University of the Arts. The man behind the Admin. L “Do you have any books or poems here?” Admin “Yes, we have many in fact, floors and floors of it.” Ask about myths, and history, other locations and the other University may be more fitting. Ask if they could join, says a 1000 GC donation each would work. They ask about entering as students. Responds on the costs and all the work. They go back to the carriage. Shadow asks how things went. L says it would cost a great deal of money. They go looking for the others, but they don’t know where, so they go to the nearest tower to try and find them.
• At the next tower, J and Andrei ask the guard standing outside the shorter tower. It is private, and the owner doesn’t let them touch anything. J asks about reading a book, guard says it wouldn’t happen. As they turn away, they see the carriage coming up with Shadow driving. It is early afternoon, and J and Shadow see The Azure Knight, covered in a cloak and hat, trying to move behind the tower. J “I’m not going after him.” S “I think we should stay the course. I agree.” They head back to the first tower once J says about the guy willing to let them in.
• They get back to the tower at 4. Wait for the man to return. S “So, if we saw him, he most assuredly saw us.” J “But he didn’t do anything.” S “But he may eventually.” J “You’re very paranoid.” S “Why I lived so long in this business.” J “I’ve lived a long time too.”
• Eventually they see Natahniel going back into his tower. J introduces them as Nathaniel and his servant there. He comments that J doesn’t look like the scholarly. Points them to Lynn and Fenix Nathaniel says that they look more the part. He pats his hand and they notice the bookshaped ring on his finger. Lynn asks that they are researching about Aeons. He invites them inside to talk in private. They discuss that Lynn has found the names of Rudraksha, Kagutsuchi, and Orochi. They are looking for more information. He inquires about where, and if there were any information that they had acquired before, or any other books that they have. Shadow shows his dark one. Nathaniel comments on it, but says that it is probably designed for one with a skill that is quite different. Fenix then shows his book, which Nathaniel asks about when they got it, J “Several months ago.” Nathaniel “Interesting.” Invites them to sit and have some tea, Fenix and Lynn accept both, Shadow tea, and Jormangander stands tealess. Nathaniel has his house servant Helmut fetch the items from the upper levels. Nathaniel then introduces himself, and asks of their other names. After they introduce themselves Nathaniel smiles and comments on how interesting their names are. He then asks what they could tell of the book, F admits nothing, Nathaniel comments on its resemblance of a musical score. Commenting on all of that, Nathaniel inquired how much information they would want to learn. L, as much as they possibly could. Nathaniel offers them to trade for the book in order to be told things about them. F “I am quite fond of it, I would like to keep it.” Nathaniel nods understanding it. He invites the group to spend supper with him, they accept. Nathaniel sends Helmut to fetch supper. Nathaniel then asks them, “So, may I ask why it is you wish to learn all this information?” The group asks to be able to speak amoungst themselves for a bit. Nathaniel agrees and goes upstairs to assist with supper preparation. They discuss whether they should tell him, and they figure that he is a nice man (Nathaniel calls down from above that he agrees). They call him back downstairs and tell him of their dreams, Fenix mentioning both. Nathaniel comments on how incredibly interesting all of their tales and names are for all this. He offers a trade as he brings down a group of fresh baked buns (Fenix is happy they aren’t old buns, Nathaniel offers some old buns he keeps warm in the cupboard for just these occasions). Nathaniel offers a trade to provide them with the information that they want, if they could do something for him. Fenix asks about the ring Nathaniel wears, if it is highly important. Nathaniel avoids the question, which Fenix calls him on. They ask his opinion on the soldiers in the city, and Nathaniel is openly hostile to the unnecessary presence of their swords. Fenix then asks if Nathaniel knows anything about his pendant, pulling it out from his shirt. Nathaniel pulled him down in order to see, notices the small crystal bird within, and comments on the book containing the information on Kagutsuchi, mother of flames and the phoenix’s. In trade for the knowledge they request, he asks them to do a favour for him. The options are to either get rid of all the Inquisitors and Tol Rauko forces in the city, give him Fenix’s book and fetch a shipment of parts from a toymaker in the city, or to locate someone that is here trying to gain information and make them either drive The Azure Knight from the city by force, or else talk to him, bring him to this tower, and see if Nathaniel can provide all the knowledge that he needs to leave of his own accord in order to take the soldiers with him. F “Where would we start,” there was a hesitation before J “Well, I saw him behind the other tower that we visited.” F “And you didn’t think it was important to tell us?” J “I though it was important, but I knew it was better not to mention it.” F “Then we can go find him.” Fenix also asks Nathaniel if he has any artificers that he might know. Nathaniel mentions the toymaker again, and says that there might be another depending on how much gold he’s willing to spend. F “Enough.” Nathaniel “Then you should try “The Crimson Sun Droplet” Antique Shop. You need to ask for a mister Green. They will they will tell you there is no mister Green. You must then clarify that you were asking about miss Aquamarine Sharoo. Then take two steps to the left to avoid the percussion needles that are poisoned, and would lead to a quick and painful death. They will then ask what you are here for, and you may be quite honest. I wish you all the best of luck, try not to die.” They stay for supper.

Copyright © 2012 by Jeremy Marshall

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Rooms of Tragic Suffering
Another floor, nearly endless sorrow.

• There is a flapping of wings as Anya’s raven comes flying the stairs, whispers to Anya, and she tells them that The Wake Spectres are about to murder the animals. They argue about what to do, Andrei says they should save them, BB wonders if they can take them, the others don’t want to fight, just move things. Taiko drinks. Fenix and Jormangander say screw the animals. Shadow, exhausted from the poison, naps, Jormangander eyes the doors, Fenix goes down a floor, opens the fire door and rests in front of it. Andrei, Lynn, Taiko, and BB go to try and save the horses. They see the animals surrounded by the Wake Spectres, Taiko draws his nodachi and the Spectres flee backwards. Andrei begins leading the wagon away, BB suggests they put them in the entrance. Taiko leads Buttercup, Lynn leads Valkyrie, Andrei takes the two destriers, and then Lynn and Taiko lead Steve the ox in. They close the doors, and Andrei notices that the Spectres don’t enter. They try to determine if they could tie them anywhere, BB the hawthorn room, Lynn the puzzle room, then the though that if the summoner dies and the doors go away they would lose the horses, so keep them in the foyer. Taiko groans and drinks about the pointlessness of it all. BB suggests they continue, Jormangander agrees, the rest think they should all rest some to get rid of the poison. Taiko tries to use a flask of ‘firewater’ whiskey as antivenom, it sure as hell doesn’t work.
• Andrei sits by Fenix, Lynn stays with the horses, BB tries to nag people into continueing, the glares and drawn weapons dissuade him. Shadow sleeps, Lynn rests awake, Taiko plays an Absurd song of Warrior Epic base, all rest while Jormangander complains. They wait until past nightfall until the poison burning stops.
• They go back to the second floor, Taiko wants to go dead centre, Andrei and Fenix want first door on the left, Jormangander goes in the first door on the left. They have weapons out, except Fenix who has his fists in his belt sash.
• They enter The Vault of Blood and Souls, they creep through to reach the bowl. BB suggests a horse, Taiko wonders if only they had a big fat guy with lots of blood. BB offers to transmute water into blood. Taiko prefers his idea, in Yamato. Lynn guesses the bowl would hold 5 litres, and suggest they can split the blood loss between many of the group, and the animals. BB combines the water and creation path to generate 5 litres of blood. It fills the bowl, and then the blood drains, until only a few words are left of the bowl, saying “That is the blood, but where is the soul, the soul, we need.” Taiko tries to write in the blood, has the bowl carve into him and has it begin to suck out the blood from his hand and he tears it away with great work. T “I wouldn’t recommend doing that.” He pokes it with Zelna’s old rapier. The same message is there. They suggest they sacrifice one of the animals, BB hopes for Steve since they don’t need the cart. Taiko and Jormangander begin dragging the ox up the stairs, Joramngander in front being licked by her, J “Enjoy it while you can cow.” They shove Steve’s face into the bowl, with its fluids and soul sucked out in extreme pain. Shadow vomits in his mouth a little bit. Taiko is impressed by how quickly it can dry out a cow, BB agrees and T thinks they should start a business. Lynn shakes her head. They find the bloody key in the bottom, J takes it. T “Looks like I proved my father wrong, animals do have souls.” Taiko takes one of its legs.
• They move onto the next door, Halls of Demons. Shadow asks for a swig of firewater from Taiko to clean out his mouth. They see the creatures, and the lever. Taiko puts his hand on it, Lynn votes she doesn’t think they should pull it. They move towards the lever. Jormangander slaps Taiko’s hand away. T “You aren’t the only one that gets to pull the death traps.” J “Last time I did something I wanted to do, I was bitched out for 2 weeks.” T “It exploded!” S “Do you know whether that lever will free it, or make the pillars fall on us.” T reaches again and gets slapped away. Lynn detects minds, and senses three minds. She attempts to psychically assault their minds, but the chains repel them. Taiko pulls the switch. The chains knock them back and free the beasts. Fenix was examining the pillars.
• The two Ignisis ignite into glorious fires. They begin charging combustion, one charges Taiko, surrounding him in the flames and Andrei and Jormangadner. Taiko blocks, but his buckler which explodes in pieces of flames, but he is able to counter, he resists the aura of flame and counters to carve into the demon with his nodachi to carve into it in a shower of ash. As the second comes flying in through the air it brings its claw down upon him, and he blocks with his arm, and the claws tear deeply into his armour, damaging it. Jormangander attacks the first Ignis that was already struck by Taiko, striking it to no effect. BB charges Zeon and keeps the tanks between him and the demons. Fenix resists the flames, and attacks the second Ignis, but the demon just dodges. Lynn attempts to Psychically Assault the three Demons again through the Area on Taiko, the two Ignis avoids the Matrices and resist its effect, while the Baroque takes a solid blow to his resistance. Andrei resists the flame aura, and attacks the Ignis that fought with Taiko and was countered, hitting it but not hurting it. Shadow peers through the veil of ashes on the injured Ignis, and fires an arrow at it, tearing through it’s left foot and causing the great fiery skeleton to collapse in a pile of ash. The Baroque uses its Twisted Spiral effect, which damages all the pillars, and Jormangander takes heavier damage while BB and Andrei take smaller damage. The Baroque lumbers towards Taiko, lashing out with a pair of claws, one being batted aside, while the second claws heavily into him. The Ignis that still stands strikes against Taiko again, but he blocks, it tearing heavily through the armour yet again, but he is able to counter once again, resists the fire and carves heavily into the beast to carve heavily through him. Fenix becomes enshrouded by the flames, begins to try and put himself out and is only burning then. Lynn uses Mental Restraint through the Area, hitting the Ignis but he reists, hits the Baroque but it resists, she gets flashes of their monstrosities committed by them, she is repulsed. Through the Baroque’s aura all the lights go out into pure blinding magical darkness, it then lashes out once blindly in the darkness towards Taiko but he just blocks. BB ducks and hides in the dark. Shadow fires blindly towards the Ignis in the darkness, piercing its chest and causing it to explode in flames. T “Whoever had the idea to pull this lever should really drink more.” Andrei attempts to attack where the Baroque was, and strikes it solidly. Jormangander swings in the direction he believes the creature was, but only feels it strike the great monstrosity to no effect. Taiko swings at the darkness where he believed the blob was with more fatigue, striking it to know effect. Jormangander also swings where it was with full fatigue, pulping its great head in a feral assault.
• Fenix eventually puts himself out as the fire continues to burn him, for another two turns before he is able to extinguish himself. BB walks into Taiko’s back, and then casts Heal on him. The lights then come back on. Jormangander finds the key made from demon flesh from the pulped remains of its head.
• They head into the third room, the Prison of Steel. Lynn leaves Molly outside. They walk down the hall according to the direct path, and upon seeing the chest he moved towards it, but didn’t see the cross shaped spear that burst forth from the floor to impale him and knock him unconscious and slightly impale him upon it. T “This is why we keep him up front first,” takes a drink. Taiko slashes at the metal spike to take a large chuck out of it. Shadow also attacks it with his Sang Kauw twice to finally knock it over, letting Jormangander fall to the ground. T “I guess one of us should have tried to catch him. Now lets get that pole out of him” Andrei “Maybe we should let BB do that.” BB removes the spear from him. He then uses medicine to heal a good deal of Jormangander’s damage. Shadow looks for traps, heading towards the first treasure chest. He doesn’t find any traps, but sees there is no way in without breaking the bars. He realizes that they will need strength to get through. Jormangander volunteers. Shadow goes to the right of the original path looking for additional paths. He finds the first trap, shoots an arrow which does nothing, uses his Sang Kauw after one handed but doesn’t work, he then two-hands it to trigger the trap, which steels his hat. He reaches into the cell to try and get his hat back, which he tears to get back. He puts the torn hat on his head. Lynn says they could use the metal bar that impaled Jormangader to trigger traps. It weighs too much for her to move. Shadow comes back, and he and Taiko attempt to break the bars to the first treasure chest. Eventually they get into the area. Andrei begins walking on the bars to get through into the cell. Shadow notices that it isn’t trapped, but that it is locked. Lynn gives Sophia’s old lockpicks to Shadow. He attempts to pick the lock, but it does not work. He tries again and it does not work. Taiko inserts the tip of his sword into the chest, and snaps the tip off his nodachi. T “J can I borrow your hammer?” J “No one touches my hammers.” L “Do you break the tip off anything you insert into things.” Taiko glares. Anya lends BB the Zeon for the repairing of Taiko’s nodachi. Shadow then popped open the chest. He sees all the coins and the gem, and they spend hours to divide up all the coins. Between them equally. Andrei walks along the walls and bars in order to reach the key, and he grabs it, he then pockets it. Andrei walks back. Shadow and the rest move up to the chest, Joramngander disarms one of the traps with a hammer. They head to the chest on the right. They break through the bars. After 20 seconds of lockpicking Shadow opens up the chest. They find the Shield of Gorandass in the chest. Andrei brings it out, it is magic, Taiko takes it. Shadow goes off to look for the other chest, searching for traps along the way. He makes it to the other cell. Joramangander and Shadow break into that cell also. It takes Shadow twenty more seconds to open that one. They find the Gladius Lacrimarum, BB can tell it heavy magic, BB holds it and finds it strange, Shadow holds it and finds that the blade waves like water, Andrei holds it and finds that the blade hates him, Taiko also holds it and finds that his Aura has trouble trying to mingle with it. They leave. Andrei “Awkward Weapon.”
• They head into the next room, Chamber of Angelic Judgement. BB can’t identify much about the glorious room’s magic source. After the voice calls out, BB suggests Lynn should do it, since she doesn’t have sin. She disagrees. They begin attempting to argument. Fenix enters the column of light, and the angel speaks to him before trying to smite him, and it crushes him without mercy. Fenix is engulfed in red, orange and golden flames engulf his corpse, granting him a returned life. His pendant cracks, it glows slightly less, and the image of a small crippled bird inside. Lynn says that she should walk in to face it, if someone else goes to grab the key. Jormangander moves into position to grab the key. Andrei walks on the ceiling to eye the sphere of light, but seeing it is pure energy doesn’t attack it. Shadow suggests BB create a homunculus since the new creature can’t have sin. BB said that the angel said that none don’t have sin. J “Lynn wants to go in, let it kill her.” When Lynn tries to walk in, Taiko pushes her aside and goes in with his new stone shield. It stops the light, he is driven to his knees, but survives. Jormangander grabs the key.
• They go into the final room, the Chamber of the Arcana. Lynn draws out the crystal, but it does nothing. They begin at The Fool, which all of them can read. Jormangander reads the second in his head, and then reads them out loud. For the priestess, they are only able to look at the picture. For the empress, only the picture again. Shadow, Lynn, and Andrei can all read The Emperor. None could read The Hierophant, The Lovers. Taiko and Lynn could read The Chariot. Taiko can read The Strength. They could not read the last ones. Andrei doesn’t want 12 or 13, Jormangander thinks that 13 should be the proper choice. Shadow wants The Wheel of Fortune. Lynn explains that this is probably telling the summoners story. Taiko “So he’s a burnt husk in a mess.” L “Maybe, maybe not.” T “So, what should we do here.” J “Maybe we should pick The Lovers.” BB “Let’s pick the one with the halo still behind his family. He still seems to love them then.” T “So are we picking for us, or for the path.” F “I’m leaning towards Death.” T “I like the Emperor myself.” J “I think The Lovers.” S “I feel like pushing The Wheel of Fortune.” L “Why don’t you guys leave the room so that I can hit the buttons.” Shadow hits The Wheel of Fortune Button. The wave of energy pools out from Black Cat that appeared atop the pedestals, stealing power and knowledge from Lynn and Andrei. L “I say that we should be ready next time when someone hits a button.” T “I think we shouldn’t just hit random fucking buttons.” S “I don’t think anything happened at all.” L “Headache, headache, headache.” S “You okay Lynn?” L “Besides the headache, maybe.” The door behind them has locked themselves into the room. BB “Let’s hit it.” L “No, we wait until we’re ready,” as she glared at Shadow. L “We’re going from beginning to end.” T “What a good idea I had.” L hits The Fool, and the vagabond appears, complaining about their failure and their lack of summoners in the group, it then crawls back under the pedestal. They realize this didn’t work at all, and now they are all confused. Jormangander waits while the others think. L “Well, it could be this one,” as she pointed to The Hermit. F “So he released a monster against you.” BB “But that was where we started, not where we are going.” More analysis ensues, focusing on possibility of Death, The Hanged Man, and Justice. L “Well, if we guess now, we would have a 1 in 12 chance.” BB “Somewhat hit something or I’m hitting this one.” Lynn and Taiko talk in Yamato. L hits The Hermit, and she vanishes into a pocket dimension of the Wake for 22 days (ends on August 11th 990). BB fails to identify what The Hermit does. J “Looks like that one was wrong.” BB hits The Magician button, which appears and blasts him with a dark blast that greatly harms him, but he lives and will be able to recover. F “So, should we just hit The Death and end this.” J “Nope, back around we go.” F “So, The High Priestess.” Andrei hits the button, Fenix takes heavy damage, Jormangander and Shadow also take heavy pain, and BB is destroyed in demonic crows. T hits The Empress, who appears, sends out her attack, but he blocks the strike. J hits The Emperor, and he stops the force of the voice that commands him to kill himself, but he does not. F “I’m sure we’ll get through this,” and then hits The Hierophant, pages of blasphemous writings enshroud the button and keep it from being pushed for an hour. T, S, and F, begin to wonder if they shouldn’t just hit The Death and get everything over with. F hits The Lovers, with him dodging her attempted caress. T hits The Chariot, but is able to block the vacuum that attempts to pick him up. J’s hand hovers over The Strength, sees the fire, and so goes all the way down the line to The Death, where the fires are out. He pushes the button. A voice speaks to them: “Death is all that I have left. So, survive my traps and give me my end. If the traps consume you all then death is all that waits for you.” They get the key made from bones. Anya looks around, and says that “It looks like we have lost the one who has the proper stake in this battle. I’m afraid that I don’t know if this would work, but I will try to bring her back. Be well.” She then touched the Hermit button. In the void that Lynn was trapped in a warmth appeared in her backpack, she reached in and pulled out the great glowing crystal. From it emerged Anya’s voice saying “I think that this might allow for you to return, but I’m afraid I don’t know for how long or how well. All that I ask, is that if I am not able to find you all again then I hope that you would find the people responsible for all the harm caused to me and those that I cared about. I hope to see you all again one day, but if I do not I hope you all can make the world a better place and find happiness.” Lynn reappeared in front of the group. T “Where were you?” L “A place that was very dark, and soundless for obvious reasons. But I’m back now.”
• BB finds himself dead and floating before a great orb of light. The light compliments him on the purity of his heart, soul, and mind, and how unfortunate it is that he was cursed with his unsightly appearance. It asks whether she believes he is done with his life. BB “No, there is much more that I could do for my friends, for they are most assuredly my friends.” The voice, then you would wish to go back, to live and continue on. BB “Yes, that would be most excellent.” The voice, there is one condition that I would insist upon. BB “Certainly, what is it then?” The voice, I would ask of you a favour one day, and I would need you to accomplish it. BB “Certainly, I trust you. I would happily do it.” The voice, Good, then you shall do what I need when the time comes. Now return, and go back to your friends.
• BB returned to his body in a beam of light, with some of his zeon restored as well. BB “I have returned!” J “Holy shit, how the hell did that happen!”

Copyright © 2012 by Jeremy Marshall

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