Empire of the Clouds
Known as the Empire of the Clouds because most lands under the empire's domain seem to be consistently overcast, hazy or foggy. Emperor Kijin Tono has gained impressive power over the last 125 years by conquering lands starting from the island of Shima, his original domain and spreading his empire West and South into the lands of Nouchi.
Tono's empire has tight control of weapons and metal working throughout the imperial lands.
Emperor - Kijin Tono
Gray Coats - aka mist walkers, these are the magic wielding tax collectors of the emperor. They are typically sent when the standard tax collectors fail to sway citizens to pay.
Dark Templars - Religious soldiers of the empire.
You are rookie Dark Templars of the Empire, trained to be strictly obedient and merciless in pursuit of your goals - most likely following orders to rise through the ranks.
One of the Gray Coats has gone missing when out collecting taxes to the West. Protocol is for them to check in at least every three days. It has been seven since he was last heard from. If he is found alive, he is to be captured, gagged, bound, blind-folded and returned for questioning. If he is found dead, the murderers should be found and executed, and other peasants in the area are to be reminded of the god-king's power and that their taxes are not to be avoided. They must be reminded that their contributions allow the god-king to protect them from the vile gods and demons that would otherwise plague and torment them.
You are being sent from your base temple in Eigyou in the northwest. There are four villages between Eigyou and the next temple in Ramiin. The Gray Cloak was to visit the second and third village, as the second did not give the tax collectors full pay, and third refused to pay and threatened violence upon the collectors who were forced to flee.
- As always, if there are any youths with the gift of magic encountered, they are to be brought to the empire for training.
- Young able-bodied men or fair-bodied girls are to be taken as laborers for the empire from either of the villages in question.
- Weapons and armor are under strict imperial control. Some blades or tools are allowed by citizens whose occupation require them (Blacksmiths -hammer and shoeing implements, farmer - scythe, butcher - knives, hunter - bow and 1/2 dozen arrows, woodsman or carpenters may be allowed axes). Those with long blades or combat armor typically lose at least fingers for the offense. Dark Templars are generally allowed to be judge, jury and executioner (although death is not often the penalty, as examples are useful).
Having completed the last year of their study at the temple in Eigyou under the tutelage of Korkai. The Chika Cho, Ryuchi, and Setsuo embark on their first imperial mission being led by an older Templar named Ruthas.
The trio left Eigyou by pony after meeting Ruthas in the courtyard outside the temple. They rode throughout the day and made camp that evening without event.
On the 2nd day Ryuchi shot an antelope. The party then visited the first farming village and traded meat for refills of water, questioning some citizens. That evening they rode out of village and setup camp - Ruthas taught Setsuko some butchering and cooking. Setsuko fought shadows while keeping watch. Before the dawn of the fourth day, the watch noticed shadows moving low through the tall grass and warned the party in time to fend off an attack by ravenous wolves.
As the group approached the third city, Ruthas was shot in the arm by a rebellious arrow. They retreated and sent Chika in a burlap sack to break in. She cut her way in through the roughly constructed aspen wall under the cover of darkness and was caught and escorted to a restaurant. While her captors went to gather the seemingly innocent young peasant girl food she ran and opened the village gate. Chaos ensued as dark templars burst into the village on horseback while Chika began the combat with a nut-kick to her pursuer knocking him unconscious. Ruthlessly the angered templars attacked, eventually the combat led to Setsuko slamming a rebel off of a building to land on his head, and Ryuchi eviscerating a poor misled bastard peasant. The party captured Toran, the supposed rebel leader of the village and left back to the east. They left the hands of other rebels severed as an example of the consequences of raising them against the empire. The four templars rode under the cloaked sky back to Eigyou trailing a few young slaves taken as the Empires tax for the villages insolence.
A Call for Aid
After a couple days of uneasiness after being able to use your years of training in actual combat and action, you are again summoned to the chamber in the temple, which acts as Korkai's office. "You're service to the empire on your first mission was quite successful. Ruthas was impressed, despite his criticisms of your recklessness and unwary haste. There is a disturbance far to the south that the empire sees fit to dispatch templars to query. You are those templars.” “You will ride south along the Long Road to Inuashi. From there you will turn due south and ride many days until you reach the twin river. Where the East and West twins meet, you will find a fort. The fort is kept by monks who have asked the aid of the Empire The Emperor himself has had his interest piqued and asked me to send someone. I have had provisions placed in your saddlebags at the stables. You will leave as soon as you gather your gear.”
The terrific trio gathered their horses and gear and struck southeast to Inuashi during the gray clouded springtime. They rode for five days before reaching the sandstone impoverished fishing city. After inspecting an old skeptical fisherman's home and Ryuchi discoursing with some children on how to become noble templars, Chika demanded fish from the old man be delivered to an inn, where they were led by his drunken companion, Ben Wan, to a local in, the YellowTail, where they were housed by the eager-to-please innkeeper, TomTom. Setsuko had the horses shoed, Chicka was bathed by a servant boy from the inn, and Ryuchi decapitated a merchant who refused to give to the servants of the empire, thus disrespecting the emperor and the entire empire which protects and provides. The next morning after practicing some archery on a wheel barrow the party resumed their journey to the south.
The first night camping, the party is approached by a minstrel they recognized from the YellowTail inn. He introduces himself as Teernan and asks to journey alongside the trio of imperial knights for protection on his way to the fort of the monks. The group traveled south for three more days while Teernan wrote the ballad of Ryuchi the Reaver before they met farmer Freddy and his family where they acquired water before journeying on. After five more days riding, Teernan runs out of food and must eat some of Ryuchi's supply. Teernan revealed to Ryuchi that he is in search of the Eye of the Mountain. The party eventually emerges from beneath the blanket of clouds into the first sunny blue sky many of them may have ever seen as they followed the canyon of the Twin river upstream. After skirting a cliff edge to the west and scaling up to the lightly forested plateau above, the party is encountered by a green-robed monk who led them back to the fort of the monks.
The monks took the minstrel separate from the templars and told the dark knights of ancient manuscripts being stolen with the head monk stating, “that theft alone would not be enough to call upon the empire for assistance, but there is more…follow me.” He then escorted the group to meet someone who had a tale that spurred the monks to ask for imperial assistance.
You are taken to an old man, aged beyond time. If not for his raged breath you would swear he was a corpse. Bone thin with skin wrinkled and folded nearly beyond recognition, the old man’s stark white mane of hair and long bushy beard and eyebrows are a stark contrast to his dark tanned skin.
“It was no chance I came to the peak where I’ve been meditating for…years. The earth trembled and I made my way from the pea edge for fear it would topple. As I walked, a gap opened before me and by straining my ancient thews I leapt to the bank beyond, as the ground beneath me gave way.”
Holding up his gnarled old hands which more resembled the twisted roots of the Bosni trees that grow along the banks of the Dogleg Straight, you notice the soil still driven deep below the few nails that remain above his knotted knuckles. Where his other fingernails should have been there are now only scabbed and grisly sockets.
“My leap was short, I gripped the distant wall and watched over my shoulder a spectacle not seen in ages of ages. It was as though the mountain beneath me broke along a vein of silver, but instead of sliding down in a horrific landslide, the mountain walked. Only moments did I see it before I fell and darkness took me before the earth broke me against its relentless strength.”
Thus the party learned of the rumored awakening of a mountain and began to investigate the theft of the manuscripts.
Into the Mountains
The templars confirmed that 6 scrolls were missing. Chika sent a monk to get the master librarian to confirm relation of stolen manuscripts to eachother. Fifteen minutes later the left-hand of elder monk, Lef-Tan, and the librarian arrive and the librarian looks through some paper-work and mumbles to himself for a while. Chika sent Lef-Tan to find and assist the right-hand man of the elder monk, Ryut-Han in his task of obtaining the minstrel, Teernan.
Head elder monk is named Maendute. There was some drama about Teernan escaping, but eventually he found Ryuchi in the main hall and they were escorted to the templar's chambers while Chika awaited Teernan's presumed escape at the stables and Setsuko searched the fort for the escaped mintrel. When Chika found them in their room, there was some tense discourse concerning Teernan’s purpose and where he was to sleep. The next morning Chika did what she could to assure Maendute that the templars were powerful allies and that the Empire is a boon to the land. Upon exiting the timbered gates of the monks fortress, Chika gave a curt speech in an attempt to create loyalty among the monks to the empire.
The party then rode north led by three monks for two days consistently gaining altitude. During the journey the monks provided supplements from the surrounding land to the rations the party carried and Teernan made a minty tea from some leaves he found. On the third night's watch around 4:00am Ryuchi was staring at the stars when he heard a distant rumbling. After listening attentively he awoke the others as he determined the sound to be getting louder.
Ryuchi, Teernan and a monk ventured out from their camp toward the sound for an hour to investigate. At that distance they climbed a tree and waited. As the sun rose they waited another hour. Just as the sun cleared the horizon they caught a fleeting glimpse of the shiny back of the colossal beast. They then began their journey back to the camp and met Chika and the others midway as they had begun searching for the three beast chasers. The templars sent a monk to deliver the message to the fort of the giant and then continued south along the river in search of the Eye of the Mountain.
Into the fifth day of their journey they found a 20 foot ravine to cross. A monk recommended leaving the horses. Teernan didn’t like the idea and tried to convince the templars to ride west to find a crossing. Eventually, the horses were left with monk2 and the party climbed down with Chika providing arrow cover for the assumed Bugbear ambush. Monk2 is left instructions to remain for 6 nights and return to the fort if the party does not return by then.
On the sixth day of the quest the party found themselves at the wall of stone that is the Gods Teeth mountain range and the remaining monk led toward the West Twin river, then up a rocky face, where Setsuko fell and nearly broke his arm. After having his wound mended by the monk's first aid and and Ryucki’s magic they continued on more carefully.
After traversing between the mountains through the afternoon and evening, camp was set in the heavy undergrowth. There was some conversation about Teernan sneaking away in the night to steal the eye for himself. Teernan worksed on writing a mocking song of the monks of the twin river. the next morning the party continued toward the supposed pool of tears. Upon nearing the pool Chika strung her bow and ordered Setsuko to keep watch low in undergrowth and Ryuchi to watch Teernan while she watched the trees above them for an ambush.
The group found the pool of tears, where the mountain cries at a great cliff from which cascades a small waterfall at the head of there is some ancient and enormous log jam that somehow pools up and irregularly dumps dozens to hundreds of gallons of water into the pool below, the pool of tears. From this pool of the mountain's tears there is a stream which feeds eventually down the forested hills into the West Twin River. Also, from the pool of tears there is a subterranean waterfall, which falls some forty feet into a large cavern.
Into the cavern the party went in search of the Eye of the mountain. Fighting the undertow and rush of water, as well as running out of rope part-way down, made the decent into the cave a difficult one that left both Teernan and Ryuchi slightly injured and the remaining monk with a shattered skull. Setsuko devised a torch to withstand being submerged in water long enough to get into the subterranean cave and sent it down into the darkness after the party while he stood guard above and prepared to haul on the rope at the command of his compatriots.
As the party crept into the darkness Giant ants the size of full-grown dogs appeared around them with probing antennae. As the ants sensed blood, meat and a meal, they attacked. Combat ensued. 2007-08-12Media:Cave-ant-combat.gif Teernan rushed to pull the gem from remains of a previous carrier as the templars fended off snipping mandibles with their imperial blades. All but the monk exited the double waterfall heavily wounded, with Teernan narrowly avoiding death by evisceration and having his slimy entrails strewn across the cavern below by immense ravaging insects.
At the side of the pool of tears, the party nurses their wounds and anticipates the grueling climb out of the gods teeth with their sore and abused bodies, while discussing the fate of the grapefruit sized amethyst, which strangely reflects no light from it's largest cut surface, otherwise known as the table of the 'brilliant round' cut gem.
The Trail of the Colossus and Pillaging Demons
The rest of that afternoon and evening was spent healing then rest through the night. The next morning after eating, the party lowerd Teernan down the gods Teeth on a haphazardly built travois and climbed down with Setsuko leading and following to secure ropes. The party then traveled down through the foothills until dark and then camped. On the next morning they continued on to the north with Ryuchi and Setsuko taking turns pulling Teernan's travois. That afternoon they reached the 20' ravine and crossed similarly to their scaling of the God's Teeth. The monk left with the horses was found a few hundred yards off, but well. Teernan’s travois was bound to his horse and the party followed the east bank of the West Twin river north for two days. On the third day of the journey the party met two monks, not clad in green robes. The elder introduced himself as Soon. There was tea shared by Soon, who believes in action and the present, rather than balance, and reportedly trains nomadic monks on the lands between the Twin rivers. There was also some conversation of the colossus and the empire, which Soon had a history with.
The party then rode on until dark. Teernan awakened the next morning and that afternoon the party came across great wreckage. Where the colossus had crossed their path, there was a swath some thirty feet wide of trampled nature. Trees uprooted or crushed nearly wholly, boulders overturned and the softer top soils smashed or scraped into heaps and mounds by the passage of the massive beast. After brief inspection and discussion the party rode on toward the fort, rather than pursuing the colossus. They camped that night, and reached the fort of the green monks the following evening. In the fort they were taken to their room and given a hot meal and bath. The next morning they met with MaenDute to discuss the scrolls and the colossus. Teernan was escorted off to be healed. The party discussed failure to retrieve scrolls and the possible motivations of the colossus. Mid morning that day Setsuko was sent with two ponies to follow the colossus and determine whether or not it has an escort, handler, minions or a controller as well as to lay eyes on it to determine its size and shape. Ryuchi and Chika found MaenDute and offered the Eye of the Mountain for study under their supervision in the open air 10’ diameter lookout at the top of the tower on the main hall.
Teernan and Ryuchi met while Chika was on watch and discussed plans to smuggle out Eye so Teernan can sell it at Seacrest. That night Teernan made off with the gem after Ryuchi killed a studying monk and injured himself to create an alibi, including a head wound that left him unconscious. The next day Setsuko rode after the Colossus, Chika investigated footprints and set monks into action to find reported demons and the missing minstrel while Ryuchi researched demons in the library by use of the librarian. The party also sent a runner with and update north to Korkai in Eigyou referencing Teernan (with a sketch-smudged by Ryuchi), and the colossus, its direction and that the search for the scrolls continues. Setsuko returned as the others were beginning to follow him and they all traced a set of booted prints, uncommon to the monks, to the river. They supposed it was Teernan escaping with the pilfered gem.
The party then geared up and rode out the next morning to the south in search of the origin of the colossus. After an hour they met up with Soon who told them of the scrolls being taken to a camp on the east river of Tear Drop lake in the hills, where supposed rebels to the empire reside. The templars then listened in to Soon criticizing Maendute for his inaction and breeding a brotherhood of lazy inactive monks before setting off towards the rebel camp guided by one of Soon's monks, Chane.
The Rebel Camp
Twelve days have past since you left the fort of the green-robed monks at the joining of the Twin Rivers. You have since ridden guided by Chane, one of the earth-tone clad disciples of Soon. You rode over the bridge crossing the West twin river and across the top of the mesa through the foothills of the mighty and unyielding God’s Teeth. Once you descended from the foothills you were led northwest for a dozen days of nearly silent riding through the plains south of the land known as Nouchi. You encountered the path of the colossus the first day after crossing the river and followed in it’s wake for three days before it broke more northward and the party continued northwest to the camp. You are crouched atop the crest of a hill behind some knee-high shrubs looking down to a small weakly fortified community on the coast of a slow moving wide river at high noon on a hot summer day.
The party sent Chane in to the camp to find out who the ‘rebels’ are and how many there are. Two hours passed as they watched for the monk to exit the tent he entered with one of the camp’s sentries. Chika and Ryuchi discuss options as Setsuko watched the camp. Setsuko snaps his fingers and Ryuchi strung his bow. Leemur, another monk of Soon was introduced and gave information about the barbarians delivering weapons and about Gain, the interim leader of the camp in the absence of Toran. Chika threatens Chane with selling out the templar to the rebels and he reacted poorly, conversation was cut short and the monks left while Chika and Ryuchi scheme about how to enter the camp. The party waits and watches the camp throughout the night and through most of the next day before one of the armored barbarians steps from the circular tent lead some combat training. After a couple of hours the armored brute seemed to be having fun mocking and toying with what Ryuchi ascertains are amateur warriors at best. He stated, ‘this is no camp of warriors, but of farmers. The only warriors will be the barbarians. We should kill them first.” Party watches other barbarians and three other men join the trainees to the mess hall tent. Around 5pm a partially armored barbarian begins training eight more farmers and the templars witness a barbarian and a rebel go to the supply tent and drag Teernan into the round tent.
Chika scouts and sees an approaching dust cloud from the northeast. Ryuchi senses that they present danger and they ride to intercept before they are within sight of the camp. Combat ensued between the three templars and four rebel scouts, one of which Chika and Ryuchi interrogated before dispatching. He told of his reason for joining the camp being the Imperial soldiers raping his wife and daughter, kidnapping his daughter and leaving his bleeding wife to die in his arms over a year past. He told of his scouting mission to track the beast and that the colossus continued northward with no apparent course or goal. Ryuchi carved some steaks from a dead pony and the templars discuss plans over vein-ridden horsemeat. The sun sets as Chika stares into the coals of the small fire and cracks her small delicate knuckles. Chika does a bit of basic tailoring and leatherworking to fashion some of the scouts clothing to fit her small frame. Two hours after the darkness, the three templars approached the camp wearing scout clothes and carrying their weapons.
I have no notes of what happened then, but from the following character points it seems they must have raided the camp
Awarded 8/31/07 3 character points for role-playing successfully last time. ½ point bonus to Chika in Acrobatics bonus for a cinematic dismount and being vaulted onto the top of the rebel leader’s tent. ½ point bonus in riding to Ryuchi for riding down and stomping a rebel with an untrained horse
7 character points in last month of questing on Imperial order that makes sense for desired character stories. Options might be patrolling borders, hunting fugitives w/in empire, quelling rebellions, studying, imperial recruiting, expanding the empire, scouting and ranging, on colossus patrols or attacks.
Chika improves archery, leadership and tactics as she and Ryuchi went back south to eradicate the rebel camp and acquire barbarian armor and weapons, of which Ryuchi claimed a GreatSword and armor which he practiced with by sparring the imperial soldiers as they ride back north. Ryuchi also bulked up by eating many eggs and wearing, carrying and practicing with his heavy gear in order to make better use of his new sword and armor.
Setsuko was assigned to push the Empire’s borders westward toward the great wall fighting into the growing rebellion westward. Pushing further westward Setsuko noticed the increasing number of Westerners aiding the rebellion. Gray Cloak retrieved Setsuko from the western front and learned a light spell from him on his ride back to the east.
The templars were awarded the yellow sash upon returning with word of the colossus, the scrolls and another rebel leader. After the two return from the south with the western weapons and armor, and Setsuko returns from his campaigns in the west the three are awarded titles, charactered helms and orange sashes.
Ryuchi the Reaver
Setsuko the Fearless