This was the Twelfth session of a new Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate campaign. See the ELVEVENTH SESSION LOG to read about the previous session.
Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate is our wuxia RPG. It is available HERE in PDF.
Peng Ke-Yen: Eccentric daughter of a merchant who goes against conventions and is notable for her white and black streaked hair. From Dashen village.
Peng Pei: Daughter of two low Yen-Li priests. Also from Dashen village.
Peng Biyu: Peng Pei's mother.
Zhendao: A former slave of a man named Zhao.
Shin Du: A performer and actor who is a perfect shot with the bow.
Song Pei: A one-armed physician.
Sister Fox: Brother Wolf's Sister who is ailing from Life Ebbing Venom.
Feiyan: A yen-li priestess who is acquainted with Sister Fox.
The party re-united in Yun Hu and realized that Sister Fox had only six days before the Life Keeping Stone required activation to sustain her life. If they could not figure out how to activate the stone, she would die from the Life Ebbing Venom.
They spoke about the different possibilities, and informed Sister Fox that they believed the stone was activated by human sacrifice. Peng Biyu said she had heard of a ritual master named Xiaomin who lived in a nearby cave connected to the canal. She suggested they seek her out.
They headed to the canal and approached the cave. A woman dressed in ragged furs and patchwork robes emerged. The group spoke to her in turns, with Shin Du explaining that they had a magic stone they wished to use to save Sister Fox but didn't know how to unlock its powers.
She ushered them into the cave and she examined it, recognizing it as the Life Keeping Stone. She told them it required two sacrificial victims. That she would need two bodies and could then activate it, but this would only empower the stone for 26 days*.
Realization dawned on Sister Fox (who had long been told by Brother Wolf that the stone required a simple Ritual involving herbal ingredients). She made a quick mental calculation.
"I've had the life keeping stone for ten years, that means 260 people have died to keep me alive!"
Ke-Yen calmed Sister Fox down, and they debated the problem. Ultimately Ke-Yen and Peng Pei convinced her that to not kill 2 more people, would mean the previous 260 deaths were in vain. Provided these were the last two deaths, and they cured Sister Fox, it would be better to kill than not kill.
There were some dissenting voices. Zhendao was particularly wary of their claims and went outside by the River, where he dropped blocks of wood with Granny Wind's name carved into them.
"Is there any one wicked, deserving of death?" They asked the woman.
"Yun Hu is filled with people who deserve to die. The Fire Stick gang are a troublesome group. You should kill them." She said.
"Okay we will find two sacrifices and when we return you will show me how to perform that ritual on the stone," Said Ke-Yen.
"If you wish to learn the Ritual, then I deserve payment. I require no payment for performing the Ritual, as it is an honor to use the Life Keeping Stone, but to show someone the ritual, I would need you to bring me a particular victim for the sacrifice."
"Arrogant Chief Hong Mai, owner of the Banyan Sage apothecary shop and leader of the clean clothes division of Nature Loving Monk sect." She said.
They agreed to her terms and went back to Yun Hu immediately. There they sought Hong Mai, while Zhendao asked around town for members of Fire Stick Gang."
Shin Du and the rest of the party went to the Banyan Sage and spoke with Arrogant Chief Hong Mai. He did look down upon Shin Du during their interaction but he also offered plenty of information. Shin Du claimed that he had just been to a woman in a nearby cave who told him Hong Mai might have ingredients he could use for a sleeping draught (though he implied she was doubtful of his ability to succeed).
When he probed for details about her obvious resentment, Hong Mai said it all had to do with her parentage, that he had tried to re-unite her with her father, Chief Ping Wu (the former leader of his sect) but it had ended in disaster.
"What happened?" Asked Shin Du.
"She murdered her father," He explained. "He had abandoned her as a child and she carried a grudge against him."
Shin Du bought some Banyan Sage root and other ingredients, and he took some advice on making a sleeping draught from Hong Mai. Shin Du paid him, and he accepted, but when he offered a few extra strings of cash, Hong Mai sneered and refused. They left and decided that Hong Mai wasn't deserving of death. Contempt perhaps, but not death.
Meanwhile Zhendao had tracked Fire Stick Gang to the Singing Reed. There he waited outside and when a couple of men, one wearing a red cap, left the restaurant, he played the flute he acquired form the House of Paper Shadows and summoned some Shadow Puppets along the wall. They immediately attacked the men and paralyzed their legs (who were confused and didn't realize what was happening.
Zhendao threw them over his shoulder and said "I am a physician, come along with me and I will heal you. There has been a plague of paralysis throughout the city."
Surprisingly, the men believed his claims**. They went with him outside the city and he knocked them out. The rest of the party found Zhendao and they traveled back to the cave together.
There Shin Du asked tried to determine if they were truly deserving of death. He woke up the man with the red cap and said "We need you to kill some people for us."
The man looked around suspiciously but after some convincing he said "Of course, now release me and we can talk about the specifics."
"What about this man, is he part of your Fire Stick group," Shin Du said.
The man with the cap paused then said "He is from Stone Palace, a real killer. He can be of great service to you."
Shin Du nodded and Ke-Yen untied the man with the cap, then attacked him. He managed to punch her in the throat but she killed him quickly. As she was doing the same to the next one, the Yen-Li priestess emerged from her cave and said "don't kill him yet, give me the stone quickly."
She uttered some words and tapped the stone several times, and black energy rose from the bodies of the two men and into the stone, filling Sister Fox with a sense of calm. Then a radiant golden light poured from their flesh into the stone and she felt cleansed.
Looking around the woman said "I do not see Arrogant Chief Hong Mai. I cannot teach you the ritual."
Ke-Yen said she understood, and they explained that they didn't find him deserving of death. She accepted their stance and told them that Sister Fox only had 26 days remaining before it would need to be activated. If they needed anything else they should return. She told them her name was Xiaomin.
From there they decided to continue on to retrieve the Gu Vessel from Temple of Jade Mercies. They first arrived in Yun Hu, then traveled north to the temple. They camped outside and Shin Du kept watch.
That evening he saw a merchant caravan arrive and someone from the temple escort an important looking man into the central pagoda. The caravan set up an encampment inside the courtyard of the temple and the man left the pagoda carrying something wrapped in cloth. Shin Du thought the timing was odd and they decided to sneak in that night to take the object.
Late in the evening Sister Fox used her Great Stride ability to sneak into the man's tent. Zhendao followed and kept watch over the entrance. While Sister Fox searched the man's room, finding the bundle by his bed, Zhendao saw an abbess rush out from the pagoda toward the tent with two ox tail swords drawn.
Shin Du, who was watching from the trees readied his bow. Sister Fox used Great Stride to get beyond the wall.
Zhendao prepared to engage her and attacked. Shin Du unloaded a hail of arrows, filling the woman with them and causing her to stumble back. Before she collapsed she threw her Ox Tail Dao at Zhendao, impaling him with it. He passed out and Pend Pei (donning a Raksha Mask) ran in to retrieve him.
Song Pei bound Zhendao's wounds and revived him***. Sister Fox unwrapped the bundle and found a golden Gu Vessel inside. The party then decided to flee north by foot as fast as they could.
They walked along the canal and happened upon an official who demanded to see their passage tallies, which they didn't have. Since Li Fan and Hu Qin shared a border, these were requirements of passage from one to the other. The matter was put to rest with a bribe and the party continued on.
At this, they began a series of unlucky encounters, beginning with a group of soldiers who also asked for their wooden tallies. They intimidated their way out of this situation, but bad luck would plague the rest of their journey.
They went to Opulent Fruit Hill where they had agreed to meet with a women from the Silk Worm Society. She gave them the Divine Silk Worm they had asked for, and Song Pei paid her the rest of her fee.
They debated how to proceed, but decided it was best to attempt to get the remaining ingredient for Sister Fox's cure, god's blood, from the Plum Tree Monk. They traveled north west. On their way they were attacked by Yellow Birds in the Yellow Forest. These were easy to dispatch, though Sister Fox was bitten. After they gathered the birds' feathers, they continued, stopping in Jinsa where they hired a performance troupe for a high price to come with them and perform a song about the Red General and his love for the Dutiful Empress.
Plum Tree Monk appeared moved. He wiped away a tear and stood. Then he gripped a spear and sliced the throats of the musicians in one motion before sitting down to resume his contemplations.
Zhendao charged ahead and held out stabbed out with Brother Wolf's sword. He managed to pierce his flesh and blood flood. Peng Pei rushed in and gathered it. Plum Tree Monk merely gazed at the sword. "This sword belongs to me" he said.
Ke-Yen's hands blazed with Merciless Black Claw Technique and she attacked, but the Plum Tree Monk rebuffed her with a wave of his hand and her claws rebounded, digging into her own flesh.
Zhendao thought in silence, not sure what to do.
"Give me the sword and I will let you live," He said.
Zhendao handed him the sword and he began to laugh. Everyone fled to the fortress, except Ke-Yen, who was furious they would give the sword to the Plum Tree Monk. Zhendao had to grab her and drag her to safety.
There, inside sealed doors, they could hear the Plum Tree Monk laughing for hours. Song Pei and Shin Du prepared the cure and gave it to Sister Fox. She felt the its magic course through her meridians and convulsed with pain. Black fluid began to ooze from her skin. Soon there was relief, and a vast sense of purity. She felt better, but her body was still weakened from the poison. However it seemed she was no longer in danger of dying.
She thanked the party and they agreed to travel with the Life Keeping Stone to the Jade temple, but first they would pass through Yingsun and check on Brother Wolf (who was sleeping after his restoration by the talismans). They had left him at a temple there.
In Yingsun, they learned that a man had been by Brother Wolf's side for days and refused to leave. Ke-Yen ran into the chamber and found a man with braided hair and blue robes. He said his name was Hooshal, and that he wanted to see if Ke-Yen still intended to honor her agreements with Dawa Lady the Ten Talismans****.
"Of course, but we have to tend to the jade, we are very busy," Ke-Yen said.
"You seem like a reasonable person" Said Hooshal, who admired her ferocity. "A word of warning: Dawa does not those who defy her go lightly. She usually begins by taking their eyes. And any miracle can be undone."
Ke-Yen nodded and thanked him for the information. She confirmed that they still had a couple of months to find Hero Feng and that the second half of the agreement could be completed within three years.
When Hooshal left, they headed to Jade Temple. Sister Fox and Zhendao went inside while the rest of the group waited at the gate.
Zhendao placed the Life Keeping Stone into he rising mound of Jade. It glowed and filled with webs of energy that sealed the cracks. Then it transformed, into a massive woman with jade skin. As she stood, the top of the structure broke and collapsed down, raining heavy chunks of stone upon Sister Fox and Zhendao. Zhendao used his body to protect Sister Fox and was hurt, but still able to stand.
From outside the temple, the rest of the part saw a giant goddess of jade break through the roof of the mount. She gazed down at Zhendao.
He stood defiantly and said "My debt to you has been honored. I am no longer in your debt."
"How dare you speak this way to me," She said. "You should grovel and bow before me."
Zhendao told the goddess that the Red General, as the Plum Tree Monk was ravaging the land.
"I will deal with him," she said. "You still don't kneel?"
Sister Fox immediately fell to her knees and kowtowed to the goddess. Zhendao stood and said "I will not bow."
"How arrogant you are human, filled with hubris. I have too little time to reform you now, but let my blood burn your flesh so you can contemplate your wrongdoing."
With that she cut her arm with a fingernail and a shower of divine blood spilled upon Zhendao. It burned his skin and he collapsed in pain. As this happened Peng Pei ran in and gathered some of the blood into the Golden Gu Vessel. The goddess began to ascend, rising high into the sky and vanishing, perhaps to her realm of Meidu.
In the wake of her departure, Zhendao, barely conscious, saw his body covered in a purple stain and boils.
This is where the session ended.
*Months in Qi Xien are 26 days and there are 13 months
**Zhendao has facial tattoos, marking him as likely criminal, his manners are course, but he got a 10 on his Persuade roll.
*** Zhendao came incredibly close to dying here in terms of the mechanics. He took 8 wounds from the woman's Ox Tail, which brought him just across the line into Dying (had she delivered 9 wounds, he would have died, had Song Pei failed his Medicine Rolls, death could have resulted as well).
****In my campaign Qinwen the Master of the Seven Talismans was killed and his talismans taken by Dawa ,one of the Sisters of Bone Kingdom. She also took her sister's talismans, giving her a total of 10 (which is all of them).