The story began on the first of Needfest, 1150 I.C. (C.Y. 605)
Zeshyn the Dai-Kyu, Vanaran Archer, Crab Clan
Seppun Ozawa, Human Monk, Imperial Families
Mirumoto Katsushiro, Half-dragon Samurai, Dragon Clan
Cortana Tsunoaru, Draeni Wizard (Iounmancer), Unicorn Clan
Tsugumi Kirigaya, Tengu Oracle, Crane Clan
Our session began on the 3rd of Goodmonth, 1150 I.C.
As Katsushiro arose the next morning, and set himself to sharpening his weapons, he noticed that his katana made a strange, new sound as he drew it from it’s sheath, something almost akin to a woman’s sigh. Examining the blade, he also saw what he first thought to be a flaw or blemish in the metal of the blade, but it seemed to be a trick of the light. As he sought to perfect it’s edge (a familiar ritual by now), he found it difficult, and to his horror, he saw the blemish spread like cracks across the entire blade, until the metal seemed to flake away, revealing a more perfect blade beneath the skin the blade had shed. (The katana is now +1).
Later that afternoon, however, just after lunch, a messenger summons himself and his companions to a meeting room, where he is informed that he must return to the lands of the Dragon right away; his father’s fortress has been attacked, and there is no sign of his father. His companions agree to accompany him, and using post horses, the journey up into the mountains is embarked upon.
As his father’s fortress sat well towards the north of the mountain-fastness of the Dragon lands, it took several weeks to make the journey on horseback, arriving on the 3rd of Harvester. It was obvious long before their arrival at the fortress that a battle had been fought, for the highest tower of the keep was missing. On arrival, the group was greeted by General Mahato Krisha, sent by Mirumoto Uso himself to guard the sky dragon’s fortress from ambitious nobles and opportunistic dragons alike.
Interviews with family servants revealed that on the night of the attack, Katsushiro’s father had disappeared around mid-morning, reappeared before dinner, and then retired to his private quarters in the uppermost tower of the fortress, as was often his wont. Sometime after midnight, a storm had congealed overhead, with strange, red lightning striking the tower several times to little effect. Finally, what appeared to be a clawed hand made of cloud-stuff and lit by red lightning had reached down, grasped the tower, and pulled the upper three stories into the overhanging clouds and then vanished.
Not knowing what else could be done there, but suspecting that the attack was linked to the dragon’s promise to his son to investigate Arfa Dumor, plans were made to make the long journey back to Otosan Uichi, there to investigate the links between the Mantis Clan vessels they had seen there. However, Katsushiro’s sleep was interrupted by a strange, black-robed man with an odd accent who entered his room unannounced. Introducing himself as Tethersco Mhoar of Saphet, a friend and associate of his father, Nakadai.
After assembling the others, Tethersco explained that he and Nakadai had belonged to a group known as Ternocki di Irthir (Scales of Knowledge), and that when Nakadai had failed to appear at a meeting two weeks prior, he had set out to investigate why he had failed to appear. At said meeting, it was hoped that he could add some details to a “Calling” that group had detected, a summoning of various fel personages to an unknown location on the upcoming 4th of Brewfest. Seeing the conditions, he feared the worst. Knowing that the group would want to return to the capital quickly, he showed them the location of a secret portal in the upper reaches of the ruined tower that led directly back to Otosan Uichi.
A few days of searching gave them knowledge, but few answers. All of the ships were known vessels, common in both Mantis ports, as well as those of the Crab, Crane, Lion, and Phoenix. Most also made port in Behow, calling upon the port of Zagmuria there. Deciding that they were perhaps too famous now for casual visits to Mantis ports, they elected to check out Zagmuria first, arriving on the 25th of Harvester. They located two of the Mantis-crewed ships that had been in port at Arfa Dumor when they’d been there, as well as one of the unknown, foreign vessels. Seeking the captains of those ships, one was said to have a home on the outskirts of the port, but another was currently lying drugged in the local equivalent of an upscale opium den.
Several bribes and some illicit purchases later, Cortana and Kirigaya slipped into the private room where Captain Ganshei Hapuun of the Spirit Badger lay wrapped in his visions. Bringing him around and Charm Personing him, they learned several names. Two of Durklemes’ lieutenants, named Kadair and Boffa, handled most of the shipping in and out of Arfa Dumor, and that imports consisted of a variety of goods. Slaves, timber, luxury goods, etc..One young Mantis nobleman, Seido Takeshi, had once talked Hapuun into taking him along on a voyage four years past to Arfa Dumor, where he’d partied with the locals for several days before sailing back. They also learn that ships had been hustled out of the port recently, to make room for mysterious ‘visitors’ who were due to arrive soon.
Deciding the they wanted to question that nobleman, they sailed to the Mantis lands, specifically to the port of Goraiku Shiro, reaching it on the 5th of Brewfest, where the celebrations were ongoing and raucous. Cortana, who had disguised herself with Alter Self, managed to seduce the young nobleman, and during pillow talk afterwards, plumbed him for information. he seemed mostly vacuous, but she spotted an Arcane Mark on his left clavicle, in the shape of a seven-fingered clawed hand that reminded her of the altar to Fu Leng they’d previously seen in the Shadowlands.
After relaying this information, the group decided that revisiting that cave was perhaps wise, to see what else might be learned. That journey tok several more weeks, and they finally arrived at the village of Hadrik’s Folly on the 26th of Patchwall. The villagers greet the party, and when questioned, report that they have had no further trouble with missing children. They do state that they haven’t heard from the nearby village of Gothold in several weeks. The party says they will investigate.
Gothold proves to have been razed weeks past, but there are signs that a large number of people traveled in the direction of the cave. Inside, they find the dwarves, who are repairing the underground village. Met by Zyemu Sakura, the Matriarch of Clan Zyemu, she bids them welcome and allows them to investigate. But things don’t add up. There are no guards, above or below ground. two forges operate, one apparently making weapons scaled for creatures larger than dwarves. The altar is clean; cleaner than it was on their last visit, though none of the dwarves claim to have any interest or interaction with it; “It don’t bother us, we don’t bother it” they all say.
Kirigaya, however, braves the cold at it’s base and sits in mediation. In his vision, he sees the lights of the village go out as one, and five dwarven matriarchs approach the altar (Sakura at the center of the formation). The other four matriarchs take positions around the altar, led by Sakura who stands upon it, raising an invocation in an unknown language that holds definite notes of necromancy; he also notes that their faces are all up-cast to the ceiling.
After sharing his vision with the others, Cortana gets Katsushiro to distract one of the elders so she can plumb one of the kids for more information, but to little avail. Finally, she has the others keep everyone out of the Matriarch’s Residence (the same building with the basement they’d investigated on their last trip) while she accosts Sakura, trying to see if she bears an Arcane Mark like the young nobleman did. Outside, the party sees two other Matriarchs approach the building and begin talking nearby. Inside, Cortana soon learns that Sakura isn’t a ‘person’ for the purposes of Hold Person, though she allows the examination to see what Cortana knows/suspects. As we broke for the evening, Sakura has cast Charm Monster at Cortana to no effect, and combat is certainly about to erupt…
It is the 27th of Patchwall, 1150 I.C.