Phiphek: A Kithiri (many-ego humanoid) who travels with a fox demon named Mei Yun. Former member of Sun Mai sect.
Merciful Shade: A masked hero who seeks to reform demons. Disciple of Ancient Gray Demon.
Sentimental Ogre: A Juren (four-armed, ogre-like creature). Former member of Hen-Shi Sect.
Joyous Jian: A martial hero seeking to fight demons
Little Turtle: An initiate into the Celestial Heart Sect and disciple of Long-Winded Master.
Shengwen: A baby that is ether the progeny of Marauding Dragon or Magistrate Chengda.
Celestial Heart Sect: An Immortal sect devoted to Hen-Shi that captures and reforms demons. Led by Ox-Hearted Widow. There are three main divisions: The Green Swords (Ancient Gray Demon), The Divine Meteor Hammers (Abbess Tu Bao) and Celestial Mind Sect (Kong Xu). They are based on the peak of Mount Dao.
The Seven Blood-stone Cave Alliance: This is united group of sects from the Hanging Valley of the Dead. It is made up of seven factions led by the chief of Marauding Plague Cavern Sect, Marauding Dragon.
BLOOD IN DAOXUThe players continued to investigate the murder of Reckless Storm in the village of Daoxu, where they'd found his body drained of blood by Yaksha Demons. Merciful Shade had followed a foot trail to the residence of Scholar Han, a local playboy who had just passed his imperial exams. In the middle of the night his exceptionally ugly servant, Chengsi, informed her that Scholar Han had invited her to warmer quarters closer to his own. Initially she declined, but seeing this as an opportunity to investigate further she said she would be there momentarily.
On her way she searched the courtyard for more Yaksha trails and found some leading straight to Scholar Han's door. She knocked and Scholar Han answered, offering her a nice section of the hall. As he gathered blankets for her, she dug her wooden sword into his shoulder blade as his back was turned and said "Where is the demon?"
She pressed him for some time, but he maintained his innocence and offered his help if there really was a demon present. He also expressed concern for the safety of his mother and father (who lived in the main hall). Reluctantly Merciful Shade forced him to help her search the area. When they got to Chengsi's room, they found him missing (according to Scholar Han, he should have been in bed), they also noted a square outline on the surface of a cabinet where an object had clearly blocked the gathering of dust. Scholar Han informed Merciful Shade that there used to be a nice lacquered box in that spot.
Outside Chengsi's window Merciful Shade found more trails, leading from the Han residence to tea fields at the edge of the village.
Meanwhile, Sentimental Ogre, Little Turtle, Phiphek and Joyous Jian were sleeping near the tofu shop they'd been watching (because Little Turtle's carriage detected the presence of a demon there). Suddenly they were wakened by the violent spinning and pointing of the Supreme Judge Yu icon fixed to the top of the carriage. It pointed both at the Ro Fish Inn and toward the outskirts of town where Princess Sarnai was encamped (a group of Martial Heroes had come to the village to compete in a local tournament).
They followed the one pointing toward the inn, as they approached the Judge Yu icon shifted direction and began pointing toward the tea fields. They followed and reached them just as Merciful Shade was arriving. There they found Chengsi huddled in the fields. He turn to run as soon as the party approached and began to elude them. He almost got away but Merciful Shade sent the Bear Demon Sword flying after him. Made of wood, it knocked him in the head and sent him crashing unconscious to the ground.
They found his lacquered box and a jade cup, radiating Qi energy. Opening the box they saw a vast black emptiness and heard the sounds of Yaksha's grumbling deep within.
The party gathered up and bound Chengsi then headed to Princess Sarnai's encampment. As they approached Princess Sarnai came running into the village clutching her face. A horrible sight unfolded where they learned that the princess had her face devoured by a Yaksha. Little Turtle and Sentimental Ogre were able to comfort and heal her, so she at least would not die as her Kushen Tribesmen came to her side.
Sentimental Ogre and Joyous Jian went toward the encampment to confront the Yaksha. They found one lurking in a tree but it began to sing and they both fell asleep.
The rest of the party found them out cold on the ground and waited for them to awake (which took about an hour). During that time, Merciful Shade tattooed Chengsi's face with "Murderer". When he awoke they interrogated him and he confessed to using the Yaksha's to gather energy for a ritual so he could "steal his master's good looks". He eventually revealed that the box and the ritual had been given to him by an Abbot at Plum Tree Temple in the foothills to the East. He also told them that the Yaksha's had to return to the lacquered box or they would die. He guessed that the one who escaped was so filled with spite and fear, it would try to find a haven elsewhere.
They picked up the Yaksha's trail, and found it was heading toward the eastern foothills. Assuming it was on a course to Plum Tree Temple, they followed. On their way, Little Turtle saw a star streak across the sky to the south and interpreted it as an anomalous omen. It took two days but they eventually found the Yaksha dead on a hill, nothing but charred bone. Since they were already near the Plum Tree Temple, they decided to go there.
As they got closer to the temple, the ground grew increasingly waterlogged and the air more salty. By the time they reached the temple door, their feet were sinking slightly into the muck.
An Abbot answered and they said they were travelers in need of a place to stay. The Abbot nodded and asked for a donation before bringing them to the courtyard and into a hall. HE told them they could stay the night but would have to leave by morning.
The courtyard was exceptionally humid and they searched the area, finding a shrine hall dedicated to the hill spirits. Closer inspection revealed dried blood on the ground. The party waited the night expecting an attack that never came. In the late hours, Merciful Shade crept from the courtyard to the monk's quarters, where they were all sleeping and found another shrine. This one had a large jade vessel resembling the one Chengsi had in the tea fields, but there was no energy in it. Above it, the ceiling was scorched and beyond it was a scroll dedicated to Yao Yun, God of the Southern Sea. With the help of Joyous Jian, she moved the jade vessel slightly so it was out of alignment with the scorch mark.
In the morning they spoke with the Abbot before leaving. Joyous Jian used this opportunity to utilize a gaze technique that gave insight into a person's abilities. It revealed that the Abbot was incredibly powerful, possibly an immortal or god. They left and returned to Daoxu.
In Daoxu they watched the tournament for the Wind Sabre of Sunan. Only Headmaster Mu remained of the original competitors (the Firelance Brothers having been killed the night before at the inn). Headmaster Mu won and received the blade, which they determined was an obvious forgery.
BACK TO TUNG-ON
They still needed to get evidence on the parents of the baby Shengwen, and also secure the Sword of Time. So they travelled to Tung-on.
There they went to the magistrates residence (where everyone had been killed) and found it sealed by the local inspector. Going inside and searching the weapons room, the Sword of Time was missing. They went to the inspector and he informed them that a man matching Bai Zhun''s description* had been seen going into the residence (the inspector also suspected this same person had broken into Lady Shanhu's tomb (the wife of the magistrate and former wife of Marauding Dragon).
At the tomb, they found it had been broken into as the inspector said and the body was missing. But Bai Zhun's path was easy to trace since he was clearly dragging the body on a heavy platform. They traveled south and used their superior knowledge of the landscape to anticipate his movements and stage an ambush.
They saw him moving the a pass with the body in tow. Phiphek sent his fox demon, Mei Yun, who had already captivated Bai Zhun to do the initial talking. They saw them speak and Bai Zhun nodded, then waited in place. Mei Yun said he agreed to speak with the party.
He was clearly angry when they approached and asked what they wanted. He then asked them if they had destroyed the talisman around Shanhu's neck. When Sentimental Ogre said they had deactivated it, he told them Marauding Dragon had planned to use it to raise Shanhu and would be outraged when he found out.
They debated the topic a bit, then the group asked for the Sword of Time and confirmation that Shengwen was Marauding Dragon's child. He refused to the give them the sword, but when Mei Yun requested it, he gave it to her.
Phiphek then performed the Celestial Spirit Ritual to ask the Eight Magistrates if the child was Marauding Dragon's and if the woman before them was its mother. He felt an affirmation quake his body and told the party. Bai Zhun continued on, telling the party there would be consequences for breaking the talisman.
When they returned to Mount Dao, they spoke with their superiors and relayed what had happened. Abbess Tu Bao told Sentimental Ogre and Little Turtle to prepare to take the baby to the Hanging Valley of the Dead and return it to Marauding Dragon. Sentimental Ogre agreed but asked if there was anything they could give the child to protect it from the Dragon's influence. She placed a protective band on its arm, saying it would help but that it would be obvious to Seven Blood-Cave Alliance, so they should mention its presence before anyone notices.
They continued to train and were told that after their next mission, the entire group would be inducted as junior disciples into the sect (only a couple had been formerly entered so far). Ox-Hearted Widow, the sect leader, also asked them to investigate a recent event in Heiping on their way.
TO THE HANGING VALLEY OF THE DEAD
They put the child into the carriage and set out toward Zhaoze Swamp (where the gate to Hanging Valley of the Dead could be found). As they passed the city of Fan (south of Mount Dao) they saw a group of Headless Ghosts meandering toward the gates from the east (where they knew a town called Siyu to be). They made short work of the ghosts but immediate sent a message back to Mount Dao, informing the sect to investigate Siyu.
It took them about 10 days to reach Heiping Valley. There they spoke with Queen Lu Zhu, who told them that an object had fallen from the heavens and landed in a nearby lake Liyu. Soon after people began to rise up from the dead as Jiangshi and Hungry Ghosts. The village was swarmed and they were forced to hold up in their temple until a great immortal from Mount Zhun came and took the object form the lake and contained it. The object, she informed them, was a spear tip. Specifically it was the spear tip of Yao Yun, the southern sea god.
Queen Lu Zhi appeared to recognize the party's profound status and called them Immortal Fairies or Supreme Immortals. Her behavior was also highly reverent. They had always been well received but this was the first instant recognition they'd had due to sect connections.
|My rough sketch of|
They resumed their way south, toward the swamps. They found a local fishermen to take them and their carriage aboard a boat and into the center of Zhaoze. As they approached, they were surrounded by a horde of Demon Toads. The creatures seemed hostile, but Phiphek played The First Song of Shan Lushan and put them into captivated state.
The Toad Demons told them that Lord Frog wanted the baby. They suspected the creatures had simply come to ambush them and take it, but due to the captivating influence of the song, they were sedate and instead informed the party of their master's wishes. Eventually they were able to get a bit of information out of them. The Demon Toads explained that Lord Frog wanted the baby so he could have revenge against Marauding Dragon.
They continued on to the gate and found it filled with swirling colors. It was a literal gate in the center of the swamp but the presence of Shengwen (who carried the blood of the Hanging Valley in his veins) triggered it to activate. When the party passed through they found themselves in the swamps of the Hanging Valley of the Dead.
IN HANGING VALLEY OF THE DEAD
They continued south through the Hanging Valley of the Dead, a huge hanging valley surrounded by an escarpment riddled with caverns. The northern side of the valley terminated in a huge plunge into void. Beyond the escapement they could see hundreds and hundreds of looming mountain peaks.
The lands were demon and ghost infested. But they knew the basic layout and were able to navigate safety, mostly seeing dangerous creatures before they got a chance to ambush them (Rock Demons, Toad Demons, Rasksha Demons, Hungry Ghosts, etc). They reached Marauding Plague Cavern and went before Marauding Dragon, who rested on a towering throne of hewn rock.
He mocked them, calling them "Celestial Heartless Sect" and expressing his anger at their meddling. However when they presented the child he was thankful and said the feud between them was temporarily at an end. He then attempted to provoke Little Turtle (whose master he'd killed) asking if he wanted revenge. This proved fruitless so he turned his attention to the bracelet (which the party had mentioned).
He threatened to cut off the baby's arm to save it from their sorcery and suggested he could easily fit the child with another arm if necessary.
Merciful Shade let their encounter with the Demon Toads slip in conversation and revealed that Lord Frog was after the baby. Marauding Dragon instructed his men to execute Lord Frog and thanked them for the information. He told them while he could do much to stop the inhabitance of Hanging Valley of the Dead from attacking them, he would keep members of his sect away from them as they made their exit back to Zhoaze Swamp.
This is where the session ended.
*Bai Zhun was a member of The Seven Blood-Cave Alliance who had originally come to Daoxu to take Shengwen.