Last week Red Mantis and Flying Dagger arrived in Dee and explored the city. It was a place ruled by crime lords and powerful, but less than honorable, martial sects. They ended up at the headquarters of the Four Iron Kings seeking to ally themselves with worthy heroes. Their position was secured when Red Mantis boasted to Iron King Yao Yun that he was the great devourer of demonic wasps and they put on a display of their kung fu. It was unclear if the Iron King Believed him but was truly impressed with their abilities and made them his Iron Champions, giving them a residence in the north of the city and 15 men, including a sub chief named Iron Hero Meng. He then explained that they were warring with a group called the firestick gang, who had recently taken one of their granaries. He wanted them to get the granary back and make fire stick pay for their transgression.
What unfolded was a truly astounding sequence of events, involving the explosion and collapse of the Red Mist Inn (the Fire Stick unofficial headquarters), the beheading of one of the Fire Stick Bao Chiefs and utter chaos in the Kushen district. Flying Dagger even rescued a kindly merchant from Naqan named Khaldun. But these events are not the focus of this session log.
When the party returned to their district they noticed a deep, cherry red fog, filling their western bao (a kind of ward). They had noticed this before but ignored it so they could focus on their fight with the Firestick Gang. They were concerned but first reported to Iron King Yao Yun and presented the head of the bao chief they had killed.
He was much pleased and rewarded Flying Dagger with fifty silver taels for his exceptional efforts (he was responsible for the collapse of the Red Mists Inn). He also rewarded Iron Hero Meng (who beheaded the bao chief).
They went and investigated the fog. It enclosed the entire bao, including one of their granaries. At the edge they saw people screaming and found several dead bodies, each with deep puncture wounds. Occasionally they would find someone with a crushed leg.
First they sent in a chicken. It was unaffected by the mist, but startled by something inside. Red Mantis told his men to roast the chicken for later.
Flying Dagger then explored the mist. They were too heavy and obscured his vision. But he found a couple hiding in their home. They claimed an angry god was killing people in the streets. Through the ruby mists he heard a powerful, horn-like wail.
Upon hearing the sound, Red Mantis announced that it sounded like an incredibly big demonic elephant.
Flying Dagger returned to Red Mantis. They left the men outside and went in together.
As they stumbled through the mists, they saw a massive shape charging toward them. It was an thirty foot tall elephant with rose-colored flesh and two curled, black tusks. As it breathed, the creature exhaled plumes of red mists.
Flying Dagger leapt onto a roof and tore open a fire stick, preparing to throw the divine powder at the elephant as it passed. Red Mantis stood in the center of the road and awaited its inevitable charge.
The giant red elephant thundered forward and Red Mantis leapt into an alley way. Flying Dagger dusted the beast in Divine Powder while Red Mantis lit a firestick and threw it at the elephant, causing it to ignite.
The elephant twisted and flew into the air, shaping itself into woman with flaming red hair and a golden cudgel. She landed near Flying Dagger swinging her cudgel but missing. Flying Dagger used Weapon Stride to clammer along the cudgel and strike her with his dagger (which slid uselessly along her skin).
Flying Dagger drifted to the street and the woman followed bringing her cudgel down upon them both. Flying Dagger tried to use turn of the Zhen Bird but her attack looped back around and cracked his chest with the power of a charging elephant causing him to stagger back. Her attack missed Red Mantis.
Red Mantis used Grasp of the Mantis to dig his fingers into her sides and restrain her (making it easier for Flying Dagger to strike her with his coming attack).
Flying Dagger dove in with Biting Blade and sunk his dagger deep into her chest.
Furious, the woman transformed into a massive elephant once again. Red Mantis found himself latched onto the back of the giant red elephant.
The elephant reared and tried to stomp Flying Dagger. As the mighty foot came crashing down, he leapt onto her leg and stumbled up to turn her into Red Mantis' arms so he could twist her in a counter.
Red Mantis climbed up further and used Clasp of the Mantis on her neck, digging his fingers into her like pincers.
Flying Dagger used Biting Blade once again and his dagger found its target. Blood began to spill into the streets.
The elephant once again shifted into the shape of a woman and swing at both of them with her golden cudgel. Her attack struck Flying Dagger in the chest, sending him back with a smash.
Red Mantis used Hand Conquers Heaven, Foot Conquers Earth to counter bring the mighty elephant crashing down to the street. He swept her to the ground.
As she tried to get up, Red Mantis burned her with two fire sticks and she burst into flames screaming. Flying Dagger stabbed her with his dagger. She screamed again, and exposed into a vermillion spray, which Red Mantis breathed in. All the red mist absorbed into single point forming a swirling vortex vortex leaving a rattling golden cudgel with red swirls along its surface. Red Mantis attempted to grip it, but it burned his skin so he put it down.
They summoned their Iron Heroes as a crowd formed around them. Iron Hero Leng grabbed some tongs from a nearby smith and picked up the cudgel for Red Mantis.
Red Mantis told him to have it placed in a box to bring to Iron King Yao Yun. They went back to Flying Mantis Manor (their residence in the city).
As they returned the Bao Chief arrived and bowed before Red Mantis. He thanked Red Mantis for defeating the demonic elephant and presented him with evidence that he believed was the cause of the creature's arrival. Pulling out crushed glass wrapped in cloth, he said people witnessed a man throw a glass sphere into the ground moments before the mists arose.
Red Mantis took the shards and thanked the Bao Chief who returns to his bao. Examining the shards he noticed residual red powder still clinging to the glass.
They recuperated for the night but Red Mantis gathered the men while Flying Dagger slept off his wounds. They raised their cups and drank into early morning.
In the morning, Red Mantis awoke to the sound of a gong and one his men saying "One of the Iron Kings is asking to see you."
Red Mantis summoned the men, told them to form a disciplined line and waited for the Iron King.
The man who entered was Iron King Yao Kang, who was large and slightly overweight.
Iron King Yao Kang inspected each of Red Mantis' men, sniffing as he passed.
"Have your men been drinking?" He asked.
"Yes." he said then delivered a full report on their recent activities. He highlighted the destruction of the inn and their conquest of the red elephant. He then showed Yao Kang the shattered glass and the cudgel.
Yao Kang examined the glass. "What is your name again?"
"Oddly coincidental that you destroyed an inn and then killed a giant demonic elephant. An awful lot of heroics for two days. How do I know you didn't this yourself as a deception?"
"Have you heard of the House of Paper Shadows?"
"Yes I've heard you destroyed the House of Paper Shadows as well."
Red Mantis then explained how they defeated the House of Paper Shadows.
"Naturally I am suspicious and will have to investigate this matter," said Yao Kang. "Nice to meet you." Then he left.
Worried that Yao Kang was going to undermine them, they went immediately to Iron King Yao Yun and presented the cudgel. They also informed them of their heroics against the elephant and promised to investigate the cause of its appearance.
Yao Yun was very pleased and told them to remain for food and wine. He brought out a large object hidden beneath a cloth and heard more details about the elephant. When it was over he unveiled the cloth, revealing a guzheng.
"This is the Guzheng of Ni Chang, who played it so beautifully that Supreme Judge Yu shed a tear. I give it to you as a gift."
Red Mantis thanked him but confessed he didn't know how to play.
"I will send Lady Ji Luan to play it for you," he said.
He escorted them out and introduced them to Lady Ji Luan. They were somewhat suspicious of her so asked her questions about her background. They learned she was from Xuanlu and dedicated entirely her craft.
They returned to the residence and Red Mantis had the guzheng placed the courtyard. Flying Dagger hired men to make a pavilion for it in the garden.
Red Mantis asked Lady Ji to compose a song about about a wasp devouring mantis who defeated a demonic elephant. She took a moment and played a song she called Red Dreams of the Lucid Mantis which moved him greatly.
After this they followed a lead to the Temple of A'zhu and went to the Pavilion of Spirit. There they found a chamber filled with orbs radiating deep red.
They spoke with the priest in charge of the pavilion, telling him about the elephant. He said that it sounded like Lady Xiang, the daughter of Lord Demon Horn, who they had contained in an orb. She was stolen a few days ago.
They learned that the man suspected it was stolen by a guest of the temple, sent by vermillion sword sect, named Dim-Witted Chen. They offered to return the cudgel to the temple and he allowed them to go to the temple of Mind to ask a question. They also vowed to track down Dim-Witted Chen.
In the temple of Mind they saw heads suspended from the ceiling. Another priest was in charge and told them they could ask any of the heads, all men and women from key moments in history, a question.
Red Mantis spotted the head of Killer Wu, a demonic looking creature and asked "Is there someone who can teach me to devour demons?"
"The Devouring Queen of Lebdek" he said.
This is where the session ended.