Burning Castles

And there were Ogres

Resolving some downtime in the case of Li Xian and Kang, the two head down to the ruins of old Daoli to recover metal from the crater left by the meteor. After months of hard work and the help of the nezumi, they excavate a few tons of ore – but their expedition is cut short by a fire giant and his goons, claiming they had trespassed on the giant’s mining operation! Seeing that they’re at a disadvantage, they surrender to face their judgement and are transported back to the giant’s temple via the Plane of Shadow.

Meanwhile, as our friendly gnomes and Sokka (I mean Chiko) ascend the fire giant mountain, they pick up the familiar sense that their elven friends are below ground. They’d been captured! A rescue mission which was originally planned for just a few nezumi has grown, and now they’ve got to bust out all of them.

The obsidian gargolye provides a distraction from the air as the group descends down the venting pipes and into the fire giant stronghold. Li Xian and Kang discuss plans, but want to see what’s going on in this place before leaving.

A member of the Beast Courts is negotiating a payment to the fire giant regent, but the giant looks unimpressed. “The dragon grows hungry, best you feed him before he lashes out.”

Li Xian and Kang are brought before the giant and found guilty of trespassing. The giant knows Li Xian and lets him know his punishment has been suspended due to a favor from the Beast Court, but to watch his back because there are those in the Inquisitors orders who work for the regent. Kang is released upon the requirement that he steal a shipment bound to a warehouse along the northern shores and bring it back to the mountain.

However, before leaving, the Beast Court representative has a private conversation with Li Xian and then takes possession of a royal guard. With his new body, he goes to free the ogres and start a riot – giving the party a chance to escape and freeing a dozen of the enslaved ogres. At the end, it’s noted that the ogre population has been pushed south and dangerously close to Elven villages.

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The Nezumi of the White Store clan

After the confrontation with the Great Mother demon and her lackeys, the group decides to make their way back to their hidden fortress to assess what they had and who would take care of the rescued children. Eventually the lizardman, Symasi, agreed to stay and raise the lizard child as his own while teaching the Nezumi some of his monk skills. Lizzie, Terra’s character, and Chiko head to the southwest, hot on the trail of the remaining tainted gnolls – while Li Xian and Kang go south to start their investigation of Daoli’s ruins.

After a successful hunt, Lizzie and Terra’s character return to Hanxa – much magic creation takes place during this time. They then hear of the problems the White Stone clan are having with disease, and rush to their aid. It is discovered that two of their leaders had been captured trying to find medicine, and the rest have suffered greatly and could not heal. Godly healing is done by the PCs, enough to eventually cure them all, and then a rescue party is formed to go and free the prisoners!

Also discovered: the mountain is fire giant territory, and the fire giants have been capturing and enslaving the native ogre population.

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Game #14 - Acting with iron(y)!
Weddings, poison, action, costumes!

Downtime happens…

  • Lizzie travels back to Wen to find a master leather-worker to create masterwork bags.
  • Terra’s character gets into a business venture with a gnome from Fu Bei in an iron prospecting interest. In exchange for meetings with Hanxa courtiers, percentages of interest are discussed as well as marriage proposals. Some magic item creation time is spent as well.
  • Li Xian goes off to meditate and fish, bonds with a tiger and return a changed man.
  • Khan gets himself deeper into the black market trade, establishing a lucrative shadow silk deal.
  • Chiko goes off to practice his air bending.

When everyone returns, surprise: royal wedding! The princess of Shen will be marrying the King of Hanxa, and everyone’s a little… “umm, is that a good idea?” about it, although after the priesthood was removed from the courts there’s still the lingering feeling that the king can do no wrong. There are going to be three wedding ceremonies – a public one, a “important people” one, and a private ceremony for close family only. Some of our heroes attended the second, to find that one of the members of the Shen delegation is EEEEVIL! Just one, though. The princess isn’t evil.

Then there was the play, which was simply the best the playhouse has ever produced. During the final act, Terra’s character is poisoned by a needle strike from another actor! He escapes, only to be intercepted later and found to be a dupe. There’s confusion and an attack upon a royal handmaiden attending the performance by Khan. Heightened security seems to be something the playhouse needs.

Eventually they find the assassin holed up in a communal wayhouse along the piers. Everyone inside is dead (except one), and it turns out the assassin swallowed a wasp to kill himself. In his possession is a list of elves – their physical description – as targets for assassination.

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The Gnoll Campaign, part 2 - Game 13

In which our heroes are asked to go into the forests of Hanxa to discover what had become of those captured by the gnolls. There was a fort upon a hill where gnolls were “celebrating” their victory, all in reverence to the Great Mother and the Demon Father. A half hill giant (half-elf) woman was the leader of the group, treated with reverence as a divine vessel of the Great Mother.

A clever plan was enacted to get the captured elves out of the fort, and then burn the place to the ground showing no mercy. While it was discovered by a scout that the cave the giant was staying in also held the captured gnome, there in were also two giant infants. Unfortunately, they appeared to be demon progeny and were executed – after which a great melee ensued between the giant and the heroes. Subsequently, the giant cursed the paladin to return – in some form – to seek revenge. After which the heroes returned to the capital without the company of their inquisitor friend, who had wandered off on his own in shock.

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The Gnoll Campaign - Game 12
Story Arc 2
  • It is found that the mountain fortress was originally royal property and falls back to the king after the judge’s death. That paperwork … disappears. Ago Fan is the accountant that took care of all this.
  • Lizzie discovers several courtiers had vanished recently, and are wanted for questioning by the Judges. One went West with his wife in search for a cure for a deadly ailment, one went south to gain wisdom in his golden years and surrendered his home, and a third took his entire household – save one staff member – south west in some sort of crazy scheme.
  • Xie Qin – the head Judge – gives Li Xian authority as an inquisitor within Hanxa to track down demons.
  • The expeditionary force of 300 is routed, leaving 150 elven dead, 120 survivors returning, and 30 captured. Captain Bai Gao reports the terrible news.
  • The King’s military chief asks the group to serve as a scouting party to find out what happened to the captured. Artur, the Gnome diplomat, was among the captured.
  • A ranger is sent with the group to do tracking.

The party marches out to find the countryside pocked with the signs of combat. The villages on the frontier mention no Gnoll raids in the last few months, at least until the expedition force came through to fight the raiders. Investigation of Gnoll corpses reveal heavy disease.

Then, at night, the party is ambushed tracking the prisoners. They fight hard, and kill all but one Gnoll to get information. The Gnoll is clearly delirious and diseased, speaks of the Great Mother as his god and how her avatar has come to show the Gnolls to a new life. Dies by beheading.

Also found are giant-sized boot prints.

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Civil Unrest - part 2
  • Protest marches in Daishen, Lizzie is out protecting the protesters.
  • Three groups – the Traditionalists (those that still support the priesthood), the Loyalists (those who support the King), and the Scaled (those that seek the return of the Dragons). The power of the Traditionalists wane, but are protected by the courts, while the Loyalists grow in strength.
  • Visiting of the Judges of the Shining Sword – inquisitors. Bring in priests for questioning and interrogation. Generally politically neutral.
  • A number of the party are arrested for being at a Dragon Ascendant gathering. Held in suspicion, except Lin Kai, who is given special treatment.
  • Priesthood authority suspended, King takes power during ceremony.
  • Jailbreak is organized and carried out without problems.
  • Later, further jailbreak is committed, with the help of the Nezumi, to get the rest of the monks out of being hanged.

Oh, and the parrot turns out to be a polymorphed criminal.

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Civil Unrest, part 1 - Game 11

Downtime -

  • Lizzie spends time with the Nezumi, learning their cultural ways and helping them out in their new home.
  • Li Xian goes to explore his new mountain fortification, and cultivates a tea plantation in the surrounding area west of Daishen. The fort is named “House of Strong Vitality”.
  • Khan opens a tea shop in Daishen, selling the first harvest of tea from HSV. It’s not very good and doesn’t sell very well, but over time should improve. Keeping an ear on things happening on the black market, he also dabbles in a bit of smuggling.
  • Lin Kai gets into the good graces of the local magic schools, makes many scrolls to sell, and learns quite a few new spells from her friends.
  • The group learns that the local fisheries are being disturbed by a giant sea creature, which they go to visit the local druid circle about. There’s some talk about not being sure what to do about it, and to go find Kuan Ti in town to rejoin the circle. Kuan Ti is a 4-armed elf blessed with incredible magical powers who would like nothing more than leaving this kingdom and finding new adventure. Alas, her 4-armed status makes blending in outside of her hometown difficult.
  • General Zuji learns of the Pillar attack and goes to send an expeditionary force to suppress the Gnolls once and for all. This doesn’t go well later.
  • The word about the Celestial Council spreads, and the Dragon Ascendant cult makes a showing, gaining popularity. Many of their number are arrested for opposing the priesthood.
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Defending the Pillar - Game 10

To which there was much Gnoll death, and the defeat of the Gnoll heroine named Khashana. Of the original force, only one is left to survive and is left to retreat by boat. The heroes return, successful in their defense of the Pillar, and spend the next few months recovering.

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Settling Inn - Game 9

Now settled in Daishen, the heroes find some time to warn the local military leaders of an impending Gnoll attack – which the generals take under advisement. The party is granted a court residence in the heart of downtown for their troubles and future contributions to the courts, and so the party rests their travel-weary bones for a time.

Once rested, the group goes wanders to the south to scout upon the Gnolls’ eventual arrival only to find out that the war party continued East. Totally unexpected, they’re not going to attack the capital at all – they’re making a round-about path to the coast instead.

So following the Gnoll tracks, they do indeed find the war party had made its way down to the coast and raided a local fishing town for their boats. It becomes clear, the Gnolls are making their way to the first Pillar of Heaven. That can’t be good!

Seeing one last boat left, our heroes bravely jump aboard and sail off to intercept the evil furry people.

On their way, they encounter a friendly silver dragon who teleports them to their destination ahead of the Gnolls. At the Pillar itself, the party finds their way into the obelisk-like structure, encounter the First Devil – whom they converse with for some time – then scrounge for tools and materials to defend the island with, in this case wood to make a catapult.

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Wen in Rome - Game 8
Go north, life is peaceful there!

<<another>>

Large groups of refugees have trekked far from Daoli into Wen, finding temporary shelter within the forests. Meanwhile, our heroes press further north, not wanting to stop. The demon from last session revealed that the destruction of the First Pillar of Heaven was on its way – or may have already been completed – by demonic forces, and so the PCs press on into Hanxa with the ultimate goal of discovering what has happened to the First Pillar.

Winter has other plans; the pass into the valley of Aijin is snowed in for the winter, and so the party must stay a few months within Maju waiting out the season. During that time, the group rests, learns a bit about the first pillar from some old books, and even discovers a magical trinket that summons a talking animal.

Up in the mountain passes, its also discovered that several groups of bugbears have made their way through the snow drifts south of the valley. A small nezumi family also comes to visit, feeling the pull of the new gods; she resupplies, gives her thanks, and moves on.

Once the snow starts to melt, the party crosses the mountains and descends the pass into the valley to the capital of Hanxa. There they are greeted in the peony court by an official, with whom they discuss the tragic events and the invading bugbears.

Now settled in the city of Zushoji, the group has found a home to stay in, a nezumi fighter who has sworn his service to Li-zhi, and a great old mother dying.

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