This campaign is set ten years after a previous set of adventures (HERE).
Xue Lingsu (Purple Cavern Sect)
Kang Xi (Affiliated with Mr. Red Claw)
Zhi Zhu (No Sect)
Long Shu (Purple Cavern Sect)
This session started at the Inn of the Emerald Monk (a kind of neutral ground in the martial world), where the players were each heading in search of employment with Lady Tao and the Emerald Security company. On their way in they saw preparations for the upcoming Phoenix Festival, including the construction of an elaborate water clock. Upon arrival they met the Lady and she offered them a contract helping Poet Hong of Chen investigate the recent death or disappearance of his good friend Su Long. They were to be paid 100 Taels upfront and given more money by Poet Hong himself upon arrival.
While speaking with Lady Tao, they noticed a number of martial heroes in the Inn. Among them they saw Madame Hamaya of the Fragrant Petal, who seemed to be sizing them up. They took to their beds and made preparations in the morning to travel to Chen. The journey would be a day or two north along the river.
They passed through a small town called Water Village (Naam) on their way but it was still just approaching sunset, so they decided to press on. Kang Xi however decided to linger behind and find an Inn or Tavern to get wine, saying he would meet up with the party after.
Kang Xi went to the Inn of the Divine Scholar and upon entering found himself in the midst of a stand-off between 8 Mystic Sword Sect disciples and a one-armed woman with white hair and a large saber. The lady turned to him and hissed "Do you serve Lady White Blade". Kang Xi replied that he did not, and the woman flew into the air with her sword spinning, cutting off the heads of all eight Mystic Sword Disciples. She the strode out and Kang Xi purchased some wine from the cowering proprietor. On his way out of town, he he followed the woman with white hair when he realized she was going in the same direction as the rest of the party (north).
Meanwhile the rest of the group was on the road to Chen when Xue Lingsu spotted a figure waiting hiding in some nearby trees. As they passed, the figure attacked revealing herself to be Madame Hamaya of the Fragrant Petal. She unleashed a blasting wind attack with a wave of her fan and the swirling debris stung the flesh of one or two party members. A battle unfolded with Madame Hamaya seeming to hold victory in her hand until Long Shu used Great Stride to sneak behind their attacker and impale her with Spear of the Infinite Emperor. Madame Hamaya plummeted from the tree top and crashed in a heap on the ground.
The sound of fighting had alerted both the White Haired woman and Kong Xi, who eventually arrived at the scene as the party was interrogating Madame Hamaya. The White Haired woman asked if they intended to kill Hamaya, and Long Shu said they did not. In a brief exchange they learned her name was Shang Pu, but she left soon after. When Kang Xi explained to the group what happened at the Inn, Zhi Zhu immediately ran after Shang Pu and expressed her disdain for Mystic Sword Sect. The lady paused and said "Bring me the head of a mystic sword sect disciple and I will teach you a technique", then continued northward.
The party interrogated Madame Hamaya, who was reluctant to talk. They were able to determine she had been paid hundreds of taels and she responded to leading questions from Long Shu evasively. In the end the party learned what they could, which wasn't much, and debated whether to kill her or not. She had apparently been hired by someone to interfere with their journey. Kang Xi killed her before the others could commit to a final decision on the matter.
The next morning they arrived at Bixie Villa, poet Hong's residence on the outskirts of Chen. He explained to them that three months ago his good friend, Su Long died mysteriously in a fire. The house was burned to the ground and the bodies of Su Long and his daughter, Yuyan, were recovered and buried personally by Poet Hong. However weeks later Poet Hong saw Yuyan running through the Ghost Market (an evening market in Chen). He followed her as well as he could, eventually losing the trail when she ducked into Li's Fortune Pavilion. From there he was unable to find her.
Unsure if he had seen Yuyan or a ghost, he tried to forget about the event. Then a few weeks after that he saw her again at Xu's Mutton Stew Restaurant with a number of students from Golden Grotto Academy. He tried to go over but as soon as he stood there was a great commotion in the room and by the time he reached the table Yuyan was not to be found. The students denied knowing anything about her.
He also told them that his friend Su Long was Vice Administrator of the Office of Research and Development for the Chen Bureau of Works. When asked for further details he explained Su Long was known for a number of great achievements but was particularly regarded for his water clocks.
Poet Hong asked if the party would investigate the matter for him and paid them 400 taels when they agreed.
The party split up with Kang Xi and Long Shu going to the Ghost Market and Xue Lingsu and Zhi Zhu going to the Golden Grotto Academy.
At the Ghost Market, they went to Li's Fortune Pavilion, where Kang Xi had his fortune read. He was told that he had just incurred a grudge and that a bloody future awaited him. After some bribes, Mr. Li (who was blind) said that a girl had come into his pavilion, but was immediately taken out by a man who he believed was Menglao of Menglao Tea House.
At Golden Grotto Academy, Zhi Zhu and Xue Lingsu devised a plan where Xue Lingsu would pass himself off as a new student seeking entrance to the school. He forged a letter of introduction from a well known scholar in Hai'an and was taken to the dorms to await his introduction to the head master later in the week. Zhi Zhu climbed on the roofs of the Grotto keeping an eye on Xue Lingsu.
Xue Lingsu asked about any students who were known to go to Xu's Mutton Stew Restaurant, and he learned that a group, led by the librarian, frequented the establishment. He then followed the librarian from a distance, spotting him enter the library at an hour when students were not permitted inside, making use of a secret passage. After the librarian left, Xue Lingsu took he secret passage himself and found it led to a small study beneath the library with a table and some manuals. The manuals included a treatise by Su Long (which he took), The Report of the Phoenix Crown of Bao and The Western Heaven Lineage Manual. Under the table he found a diagram of a water clock that resembled the one they had seen at the Emerald Inn. There was also a poem on the diagram itself that seemed to be about revenge.
From outside, Zhi Zhu saw a figure dressed in black dart into the library and follow Xue Lingsu. She decided to head toward them to help.
Inside the chamber Xue Lingsu, who had not seen the figure enter, was caught off guard when the cloaked attacker grabbed the Report of the Phoenix Crown and ran away. The thief was intercepted by Zhi Zhu who laid down some caltrops. A small fight broke out, ending when Xue Lingsu slammed the attacker to the ground. They took back the book but not before getting a glimpse of their assailant's face. Zhi Zhu was able to identify him as Wuji, a member of Mystic Sword Sect.
On the other side of the city, Kang Xi and Long Shu went to Menglao Tea House. It was a sophisticated establishment that catered to scholar-officials, who entertained one another by composing poetry. Kang Xi tried his hand at poetic verse but failed terribly. However he was able to get into the basement of the tea house when Long Shu distracted the proprietor, Menglao. On his way down he saw an emblem with a sword on it over the door and inside he found a locked chamber that was empty but had shackles. After fussing over the bill, Kang Xi and Long Shu left.
The party regrouped at Poet Hong's villa and they discussed what they had found. Reading through the books, they lean red that the Western Heaven Lineage Manual was a book of Yen-Li rituals designed to drain peoples' Qi energy. They also noticed that many of the Western Heaven Lineage symbols were on the diagram of the water clock. Based on this, they assumed there was going to be some kind of attack involving the water clock at the Inn of the Emerald Monk.
When Kang Xi and Long Shu explained what they had learned, Zhi Zhu was able to tell them that Menglao is a well known member of Mystic Sword Sect, and better known as Iron Ghost. Because of obvious Mystic Sword Sect involvement, they decided to try tracking down Shang Pu once again. They found her at a restaurant and had Zhi Zhu explain the situation. She agreed to help them deal with Menglao.
They lured Menglao into a Tea House in a part of the city with many Purple Cavern Sect members. There they were able to secure the help of the Tea House manager and some locals. Once Menglao sat down before Xue LIngsu, Shang Pu sprang from behind and unleashed her Blood Letting Thorns technique upon him, ravaging his throat and causing him to collapse barely conscious on the table.
Menglao confessed to kidnapping the girl, but said he was just a middle man working for the headmaster of Golden Grotto. They learned that the headmaster (whose name was Mu), was a Eunuch whom Lady Tao had persuaded to castrate himself with the promise of the Merciless Sunflower Manual (a powerful martial arts book that only Eunuchs can use). This was apparently a trick, as she never revealed the whereabouts of the book and only meant to torment him for killing her nephew. According to Menglao, Headmaster Mu had been plotting revenge ever since.
After the confession, Shang Pu told Zhi Zhu to kill Menglao, but she refused. The one armed swords woman muttered how useless she was and killed him herself. Then left telling Zhi Zhu to bring her a mystic sword disciple head when she developed the nerve.
The party then returned to Golden Grotto Academy and split up. Zue Lingsu went to search for the daughter of Su Long in the dormitories, Kang Xi and Shu Long went to confront the headmaster, and Zhi Zhu lingered on the roofs to step in when either side needed assistance.
The confrontation with the headmaster didn't go as planned. It was a furious battle, and but he end all three participants lay unconscious on the ground from one another's attacks.
Xue Lingsu had more luck, tracking down Yuyan in one of the dormitories where some of the students were watching her. He was able to take her out but was stopped halfway by a woman from Zhaoze Sect who seemed to be in the employ of Headmaster Mu. A battle took place but Zhi Zhu came to help and Xue Lingsu was able to escape using Great Stride. The Zhaoze woman went after them but they lost her.
Zhi Zhu managed to pull Kang Xi and Long Shu from the headmaster's hall and help them stumble out of the Golden Grotto.
This is where the session ended.