The Mists of Paoru
Yuting - 20th day of the 12th month, 3458
Stone Day, 20th day of the Pig month, year 3458 of Heavenly Fire
We started out early this morning and arrived at the eo village early this afternoon. It’s situated in an ancient lake bed. Steep banks, stone fortifications, and wooden spikes make it a fairly defensible position. Once inside, House reverted to its original three-story form. Sarjana stayed with Raktim, who was still unconscious. Batukhan took the rest of us to see Wang.
We went on foot. We climbed giant-sized steps for a good few hours before reaching Wang’s temple in the center of a huge crater. A huge wooden man was sitting in a wooden throne. I (correctly) assumed it wasn’t actually Wang but an avatar, as it seemed to have grown out of the throne rather than sat upon it.
Batukhan spoke with him in his own language for a while before we were beckoned forward. He told us he was aware of our travels and the damage we’d caused. He asked about Heitou, and we told him the old stone yokai sent us and was nearing his end. I showed him the piece of Heitou’s heart, and he seemed fairly impressed by it and the trust Heitou had shown in giving it to us. He asked us how much we knew about the Lady, and we proceeded to tell him. Then Bai asked him his side of things, and he basically told his story just like Heitou had described.
Tenn asked what Wang’s long-term strategy was and whether we could help him achieve it. Wang basically said he didn’t trust us and that he blames us personally for acts committed by our nations against the Rosewylds. Batukhan says he “can’t see the forest for the trees” and that he can’t distinguish between us and any other “children of the gods.” Wang told us that, before they left the world, the gods directly commanded all the yokai to protect and guide their children.
Tenn then asked if there was anybody else who could help, if Wang wouldn’t. Which of course made Wang threaten to kill us. But then he went weirdly quiet. Batukhan said it was normal.
Wang’s attention finally returned, and he was surprised we were hadn’t left. I explained my personal motivation for staying—that I respected his power and didn’t wish to insult him. He revealed that he knew about the forest and fire in Heitou’s domain. I explained as best I could that we were at the time under the impression that it would be a way in for the Lady. He seemed fairly satisfied with that.
Then he struck down two of the hui heian—the Lady’s spies—and told us that the spies were everywhere, even and especially outside the Wylds. (I wonder if the Chancellor is being manipulated?) He again blamed us for others’ actions and showed us an image of the border wars, but this was a slightly different scene than the burn zone. This was a contingent of magic users from Chenmo, the Principalities, and Tanah Baru. Vasan said it was against their laws to take part in such an exercise. I suggested that perhaps the Lady was influencing these people and it wasn’t their fault after all, but Wang wouldn’t say whether he knew.
He then suggested we could investigate, and instead of waiting for a response, started taking collateral—memories—from us to ensure we completed the investigation quickly and successfully.
Wang then transported us to a lookout point by sending us through the root system of the forest. There we saw an encampment of soldiers and magic users from Chenmo, one of the Principalities, and Tanah Baru. As we watched, runners were changing the banners of Chenmo to those of the Emperor.
I used a spell of far sight to get a closer look. The regiments were holding their own against the forest and could have advanced, but mainly stayed put. They were using wands of dragon fire. In all, there were 5,000 troops at the encampment, 45 of whom were magic users.
In the center of the camp, some soldiers were constructing a tower under the direction of Fao Leung, a recent addition to the Silver Council. He had an amulet that glowed very brightly. It seemed to be enchanted with a mass shielding spell. Suddenly, huge gusts of wind ripped through the camp and blew away tents and people, and a brook came out of its banks and washed others away.
Leung disappeared the water and tossed the amulet into the air. It hung there and started glowing with a pulsating light that got steadily stronger. Then he issued an order and all the casters raised their wands and erected a wall of dragon fire around the encampment. Leung put a spell of permanency on it and then changed his form to that of a dragon. Three eagles went after the amulet. When the first of them touched it, he exploded in a cloud of guts and feathers.
In the meantime, Tenn, Yun, Bai, and Vasan had climbed onto a tree, which ran into the encampment, jumped over the fire wall, and squashed several people. Leung blew a massive breath at the tree, which basically incinerated it. With its last ounce of strength, it launched Bai into Leung’s gut. He made the funniest faces while she was in there. Suddenly Leung wasn’t a dragon anymore, and Bai exploded out of him grinning.
Still further, while this was happening, two stone yokai awakened behind me. They didn’t notice me until I dispelled my far sight. I greeted them as respectfully yet hastily as I could before teleporting into the encampment. I dispelled the amulet, which then exploded. We all flew or teleported back to the lookout point. Yun and Bai got there first and were taken by the stone yokai.
I used a spell of far casting to speak with Yun, who had learned from the yokai that they were being taken to someone named Chun. I then used the same spell to speak with Batukhan. I quickly filled him in on the entire situation. He told me Chun is a hermit who lives very near Wang’s crater.
A few birds landed on the point. One of them dropped off an unconscious caster from the encampment and flew off. Another of them turned into a mao man. His name is Guntur. The other is a raven named Utari. Guntur and Utari like to drink spirits and do rain dances or something. Guntur tried to zhurdana heal Tenn, not knowing he’s a zhurdana himself.
Bai came back. She said she had sweet-talked the stone yokai into letting her go, but no news of Yun. Wang brought everyone back to his crater. Batukhan gave Bai and Tenn some special blades for their heroic deeds and said they’ll always have a home here.
The unconscious camper woke up and Guntur tried to get information out of him, failing of course. It takes a student of Chenmo to know one. I had better luck getting him to talk. His name was Huizheng Lo, and he was conscripted into the duty. One of his friends in the Chancellor’s office thought they were sent here to be a distraction. For an assault on the Emperor? Anyway, it was Chu Len of the Silver Council that gave them the orders to take out the trees.
Leung was apparently even more powerful than previously thought. He created huge alchemical machines to take out the trees and then a dimension door to move them with.
Wang grew impatient and removed Lo’s shen, effectively killing him. Bai interacted with it for all of 10 seconds before collapsing, unconscious. Batukhan says she had experienced Lo’s life from birth to death. I convinced Wang to give us back the memories he took, and we went back to the village.
House had eaten several of the buildings and grown substantially in size. Some of the eo there said it was keeping some children hostage; but no, they were just playing hide-and-seek inside. Sarjana got cannoned out again and is apparently gone for good. Sulking, probably.
Guntur scryed for Yun and found him chained and collared. The collar is magical with a strong but “sickly” aura. It’s dampening his magical abilities. The script on it is Ystorian.
Now to bed. Longest. Day. Ever.