This was the Sixteenth 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 fifteenth 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).
Iron Tiger received word in Tung-On that Li Liang was training with the Cobra Clan on Mount Fone. He brought this news to Hei Ling, who wrote a letter to his daughter and had a messenger carry it to Cobra Clan headquarters. He then met with Iron Beggar Sun Kang, who agreed to go attack Lady 87's wealth resources in An District with his men.
Hei Ling sent Wang Haoyang to assassinate the son of Lady 87 in Gao Cun. He then sent a secret message to the Celestial Plume Organization to meet in River Village.
|Hua Yin's Doom Finger
Art by Jackie Musto
Iron Tiger and Hei Ling then traveled to the Vermillion Bird Teahouse, and found Hua Yin in mourning sitting at a pavilion. Her Vermillion Stars were arrayed on the walkways at attention.
"It is good that you come to pay your condolences Chief Hei Ling," she said.
"We grieve with you and we vow to make Lady 87 pay for the death of your son."
After some silence Hua Yin said, "What do you have in mind."
Hei Ling explained that Wei Ziying was there as a spy, sending him information, and that they planned to use Wei Ziying's grudge with the House of Paper Shadows to their advantage, drawing that organizations anger upon the 87 Killers. He had an alliance of sects and they would all attack on the 5th of the Turtle Moon, when the House of Paper Shadows would return to kill Wei Ziying (and presumably also attack the 87 Killers).
"We should ally with the House of Paper Shadows, disasteful though that may be," Said Hua Yin.
"I wish it were that easy Madame Hua Yin but I must protect my disciple and die with him if need be not that day."
Hua Yin nodded and seemed to understand. "We will march to Mai Cun and attack with all our people on the 5th!"
ONE LESS HOOK SWORD
Three Handed Feng took Lulu in her shattered state back with him to the House of Loma, and Wei Ziying regrouped with Mule Head Hong, Big Sister Hong Na at the Red Owl Society to formulate a plan. He reached out to Lady 87 who sent Boorish Drunken Sword, White-Browed Demoness Feiyan and Pei Guo to help him handle the remaining six of the Seven Demons*. He sent one of his men from the Red Owl Society to arrange a meeting with the Demons, on the pretext that they needed to ship goods through the area and wanted the Demons protection.
Zhizhu, leader of the Seven Demons, agreed to meet at Long Ma Hall. Wei Ziying came, his entourage all disguised as merchants. They were brought into a well-lit audience hall where the Six of the Seven Demons greeted them, but an empty chair with a single hook sword marked the absence of their brother Qanku. He tried to form an agreement, hoping after arrangements had been made they would be invited to stay at the hall, which would allow him to pick off members of the sect during the night. However Zhizhu did not like his proposal, thanked him and told him to be on his way.
They left, but circled back that evening and suck into the room of Ai, the most powerful of the Seven Demons. She was unfortunately awakened as Big Sister Hong Na broke into the bed chamber. Before she could cry out, Ai was beset by the party. She retaliated with a Sword Whipping Strike that wounded Boorish Drunken Sword. White Browed Demoness Feiyan used her Strangling Brow to choke and silence Ai so she could not call to her brothers and sisters, then leapt in with Blade of the Dancing Fox.
Ai's blood sprayed like rain against the wall and she fell dead to the ground.
THREE DEATHS IN GAO CUN
Fan Zhen'er and Wang Haoyang made their way to Gao Cun, ordered by Hei Ling to avenge the death of Night Thorn by killing Magistrate Guan Rixin (Lady 87's eldest son). They took a boat on the canal and headed into the streets at night on their arrival. As they headed towards Guan Rixin's residence, they spotted a woman following them. Fan Zhen'er could tell the lady had once been a nun by her mannerisms. They both used Stealth of the Spider Demon** and spied on the woman from an ally. They could see she appeared sickly and not well dressed.
In a blink Wang Haoyang and Fan Zhen'er descended, the former unleashing a deadly shower of attacks that left the lady on the cusp of death.
She clutched an emerald in her hand and held it out for Wang Haoyang to see. "Fan Batu," She said.
"What do you mean?"
"Take this to Fan Batu at the Swallow's Nest Inn, he is to help you on your mission."
Wang Haoyang killed her and took the emerald. They crept through the darkness into the chambers of Guan Rixin and murdered him in this sleep***. After it was done, Wang Haoyang carved the words "Night Thorn" into his flesh.
They then went to the Swallow's Nest Inn and saw a large man there with an enormous seismometer, drinking cups of wine.
Wang Haoyang approached and handed him the emerald.
"Excellent, my payment," He chuckled and sipped more wine.
"You are to help me on my mission I've been told."
"Yes, but first I must complete the task this emerald exchanged," He said.
"I am to kill you both," He said and laughed again.
The three figures all assumed stances and faced off. Before Fan Batu could act, Wang Haoyang and Fan Zhen'er ran away.
He gave chase through a maze but couldn't keep up. The couple moved using their Stealth of the Spider Demon and circled back around to watch Fan Batu look around with a puzzled but slightly amused look on his face.
On a signal, the two leapt in surprise**** at Fan Batu and fell like death from the sky. Fan Batu, a powerful master who these two were not even worthy to address, was skewered beyond recognition. They left his lifeless body behind and headed for a meeting in River Village.
THE CELESTIAL PLUME POWER STRUGGLE
Hei Ling, Iron Tiger, Hua Yin, Fan Zhen'er, Wang Haoyang and their retinue went to River Village. There Hei Ling held a secret meeting with the four other Celestial Plume Masters. Their leader, Qian Xiao was present but his mind was not on the task at hand. Hei Ling could see he was too steeped in the plume to offer much in the way of direction.
While there Hei Ling received the following letter:
My praises to Chief Hei Ling for raising such a brilliant daughter with incredible potential in Kung Fu. She is doing well, and I expect her training to be completed by the time Iron Tiger arrives to settle his debts with the sect.
As the Celestial Plume Masters all gathered to speak, Hei Ling said "We must strike the 87 Killers with all our forces on the 5th day of the Turtle Moon. We have a powerful alliance, and that is the ideal time to attack."
Zhang Hu, one of the other Celestial Plume Masters, and Qian Xiao's right hand man disagreed. "We should go back to the Banyan. This isn't our home, with Night Thorn dead, we should go back to how we were before brothers."
"We must avenge the death of Night Thorn, Chief Zhang," Hei Ling countered.
Zhang Hu slammed his fists on the table. "I do not serve Night Thorn. I serve our Master, and he is ailing, I have been by his side protecting him from his enemies while you have been out there doing whatever you want."
Hua Yin silently bristled.
Hei Ling was angered that Zhang Hu did not address him by title, seeing it as a clear sign of disrespect. "I have been out there forming alliances, murdering our enemies, doing the will of our organization, while you have hidden here like a maid doing nothing for anyone but yourself. We cannot go back to the Banyan, we have come too far, and we are so close to eliminating Lady 87 and her people. It is time for us to unite and kill."
Zhang Hu looked towards the other masters and disciples. "We have nothing here, and we have lost our way. Our Master needs our help to restore him to his former glory."
Iron Tiger stepped forward and said "Pardon Me Chief Hei Ling and Chief Zhang but who issued the order to send Hell Burning Sword against the Bear King Master Xiong?"
"That was our Master," said Zhang Hu, pointing toward Qian Xiao.
"What do you say Master," asked Hei Ling. "How should we resolve this.
Master Qian Xiao stared at the wall and waved his hand, "Settle this between yourselves."
"So be it," Said Hei Ling, drawing the Sword of Zikang.
"Good!" Said Zhang Hu. "If I win, we return to the Banyan."
"And what if you lose?"
"Then I will wash my hands of the martial world and retire," Said Zhang Hu.
Hei Ling moved forward and sliced through the air with his Leg Maiming Strike. Zhang Hu stepped into an Iron Body stance to absorb the blow only to see the blade slice both his legs clean off.
"My legs! You cut off my legs!" Zhang Hu held himself up by his hands on the floor.
"There, you can crawl back to the Banyan. I am feeling merciful so I will let you live."
*Technically there are only six demons now but they are still called the Seven Demons
**Wang Haoyang taught Fan Zhen'er this technique recently
***All the guards failed their Detect rolls against Wang Haoyang and Fan Zhen'er, so it was very easy for them to find Guan Rixin in a vulnerable position
****This is an ongoing tactic Wang Haoyang, and now Wang Haoyang and his wife have been using to their advantage to take out more powerful opponents. By using surprise, damage becomes open, which means every success is counted as a wound. Because it is surprise, the attack cannot be countered either. Used with a technique like Blade of the Dancing Fox, this becomes exceedingly effective.