This was the Nineteenth session of my Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate wuxia sandbox campaign, the Celestial Plume Masters, using the Sons of Lady 87 book, which was just released in print. You can see the first session HERE. You can see the eighteenth session HERE.
Wei Ziying: A skilled poisoner and physician, with ties to the Relentless Corpse Sect, Wei Ziying is a disciple of the Celestial Plume Masters. He also has a longstanding friendship with Kuo Qingzhao, who wishes to know more about the poisons that killed his wife (poisons Wei Ziying knows the secrets of). Grudge: Ravenous Nun Xuanji (for the murder of Red Eagle)
Wang Haoyang: A master of stealth, Wang Haoyang is one of the Celestial Plume Master disciples. He has a lifelong friendship with Pei Ye of the Vermillion Bird Teahouse, but has attracted the affection of another member of that organization, Fan Zhen'er (he does not return the affection but wishes to avoid creating friction within the Vermillion Bird Teahouse, and possibly creating enemies). Grudge: Guan Nuan (for a duel he escaped, she feels she lost face because he was weaker than her and should have been an easy victory)
Hei Ling: A one-eyed chief in the Celestial Plume Masters, Hei Ling is the father of Li Liang, whom he wishes to cease practicing her Toad Style kung fu because of the physical toll on her body. He had Li Liang with Qixia the candied fruit in his youth and since then Qixia has grown hostile. He has a working relationship with the Wu Sisters. Grudge: Qixia the Candied Fruit Vendor (of Hai'an). Grudge: Qixia (many reasons related to their pre-existing relationship)
Iron Tiger: The newest member of the party, sent by Night Thorn to help them expand. He has a longstanding friendship with Iron Beggar Sun Kang, whom he wants to leave his lap of luxury in the House of Flying Lanterns so he can train with the Nature Loving Monks and improve his Kung Fu. Iron Beggar in turn wants Iron Tiger to leave the Celestial Plume Masters. Grudge: Pei Ye (he murdered her favorite client, Golden Cobra).
BLACK COBRA LEAVES MAI CUN
Fan Zhen'er and her husband Wang Haoyang followed Black Cobra as she left Guan Manor and made her way through the byways of Mai Cun. They hid in the shadows*. She stepped on a small bridge. They emerged from the ebon backroads in a dancing swirl of steel**. She toppled dead down the sloping bridge, blood seeping through the perfect sable scales of her armor. They took her silver spear and armor soaked in blood. Wang Haoyang judged the emeralds she had gifted to be worth 500,000 spades.
THE CELESTIAL MASTERS
The party deliberated in Guan Manor for some time. Hei Ling conferred with Hua Yin and promised to help her find her remaining son, asking her if there was anything else they could d. She asked if they could go with her to the Banyan when they found her other son and force his father to recognize him as his own. They agreed and Hua Yin was satisfied.
Iron Tiger had sent his men to find and hire great masters. Hu Ba was already in their service. A man named Spinning Fist Ma Rong came and said he would gladly serve if the sect gave him good tea fields to cultivate and supplied him with fine quality tea bricks. Iron Tiger suggested they would take the tea fields in Daoxu, as they had to go there anyways, but ultimately t would be better if they could construct new fields in Tung-On, which would take time to design and plan. Spinning Fist Ma Rong agreed to temporarily being given the fields in Daoxu with promise of more in Tung-on.
Hei Ling decided to assess the spoils of their victory. Examining Lady 87's holdings Hei Ling discovered they were quite rich indeed. It seemed wealth would no longer be concerned as she had ample stores of silk, salt, her own salt mines, collected taxes from the locals and enforced a tax on local criminals. With this new found money they decided to allow Iron Tiger 1.8 million spades to begin work on new tea fields outside of Tung-On.
Hei Ling then worked towards creating a better information network over the next several weeks***.
Iron Tiger spoke with Hua Yin, seeking her wisdom on a challenge to improving his kung fu. The style he had mastered came from a manual he found in a ruined temple, but he had mastered all the techniques and the principles of those techniques made it impossible to learn outside their style. He wanted to know if she knew of any possible solution. She told him it sounded like he had found Iron Tiger Temple, and that there were two other manuals lost when the sect was extinguished by Jade Phoenix Sect. However there have long been rumors that the manuals were under the protection of a lineage of secret masters in hiding.
After some debate the party determined that they needed to change their name, and improve their reputation. They would no longer be the Celestial Plume Masters, but the Celestial Masters.
SPINNING SWORD OF MASTER CHEN
The party went to Daoxu where Hei Ling met with his long time friend, Scholar Han. They talked and caught up with one another, then Hei Ling asked if he could persuade Scholar Han to take a post inside one of his territories (Scholar Han had just passed the imperial exams and this would be easy to arrange). But Scholar Han said he wanted to be closer to the capital, not in the backwater of Fan Xu.
"You were once involved with Silver Chrysanthemum brother?"
"Yes," Said Scholar Han. "But that was some time ago."
|Art by Jackie Musto|
"If I could arrange it so she was willing to discuss marriage with you, would you consider taking a post inside my territory."
"Well, that would certainly make things different. Yes, if you can genuinely persuade her, then I would be willing to stay and help serve you here."
Hei Ling left, promising that he would make the necessary arrangements and went with Iron Tiger to Master Chen's Spinning Dragon School.
Iron Tiger confronted Master Chen politely saying he wanted a sparring match with stakes.
"What sort of stakes did you have in mind?"
"If I win, you give me your best student to train as my disciple, if you win, I will become your disciple."
Master Chen nodded agreement.
"Well first you need to understand this will be a no holds barred match, you may suffer a painful injury."
"In that case please do not take offense if you leave Daoxu a crippled man," Master Chen replied.
In the initial rounds Master Chen wounded Iron Tiger with his sword strokes, at one point using Slicing Blade of the Flying Phantoms, a technique that is extremely dangerous to counter. Despite the wounds and blood, Iron Tiger took control in the second half of the match, digging his fingers into Master Chen and breaking his arm in a debilitating compound fracture. Master Chen tried to continue but was forced to concede defeat after another serious injury.
Though in pain, Master Chen calms brought him to a hall to introduce Iron Tiger to his top student, Left-Handed Dragon. He instructed him to go with Iron Tiger and treat him as his master, and informed Iron Tiger that he must not ask Left-Handed Dragon to violate his Dehuan principles if he took him as a student. Iron Tiger agreed and returned with his new disciple to Hei Ling.
Before leaving, Hei Ling went to Headman Ruang Shan, whose clan controlled the tea fields. He proposed an arrangement where the headman would be granted a siszeable manor in Mai Cun, and given servants and have his needs tended to, should he leave Daoxu and give the fields to Spinning Fist Ma Rong. There was some negotiation, but it was settled and made official through the appropriate paperwork.
THE GREEN GODDESS
When they got back to Mai Cun, word reach them that a meeting had been arranged by Bronze Master with Bone Breaker Sect to resolve the conflict with Iron Tiger. The meeting would be held in Yu Zhing, on a porcelain merchant ship called the Green Goddess.
They road non-stop to Hu Qin. Wang Haoyang and Fan Zhen'er snuck into the boat****. Then Hei Ling, Iron Tiger and Wei Ziying went inside where they were led to a central room below deck to meet a disciple of Bone Breaker Sect. The man told them to be seated and explained their position.
"We do not like this Iron Tiger going around, using techniques that are rumored to have been stolen from us."
"Please," said Iron Tiger. "If you just let me explain I think you will see those rumors are false."
"The rumors also state you have said on several occasions when asked if your techniques were taught to you by Bone Breaker, that our master was a relic of the past and that you intended to crush our sect."
"Lies," Said Iron Tiger. "These were lies spread by a woman named Pe Ye, who has an inexplicable hatred for me. She seeks to sew discord and ruin my reputation."
"The rumors have been confirmed by someone reputable," Said the disciple.
With that, the walls of the room crashed open. A man sprang from one, a woman another, and a strange looking crone burst forth with a cleaver in her hand. Unseen by anyone, Wang Haoyang leapt to his allies defense from the surprise.
*Using their Stealth of the Spider Demon techniques
**Blade of the Dancing Fox
***His information Network now has a ranking of 3d10 inside his territory
****Fan Zhen'er was seen but Wang Haoyang was not.