Welcome to Wednesday night where we look at twists, turns and secondary hooks – this week I have something hopefully exciting, a bit intense but probably not expected by the foundation I have laid down.
So before we begin I want to just announce that today I passed the 1000 views milestone – this is fairly big for me as I haven’t quite made it a whole year (starting the blog sometime around the end of August or the start of September – its been a while…) which means that its almost 3 views a day on average – that is something phenomenal for someone like me who is passionate about the tabletop and about my craft which is facilitating the sense of amazement and that visible enjoyment that the players at my tabletop (virtual or otherwise) feel. So this milestone, although is about what I have publish daily for the past while (despite some missing days) but it’s also only possible by you, the readers of this little project and outlet of mine and for that – you have my sincerest thanks.
The Danger of knowledge
Sighing Shiku withdrew the hook ended chain and recoiled it into her sleeve, “It seems like there is no dissuading you,” she said stepping aside and watching the party led by the injured Takeo, “but heed my warning the beast will return, it does so without fail, and when the last rays of sunlight touch the top of the mountain you better pray that you are off this mountain for when it finds that you have invaded its lair you won’t have a place to hide on these mountains where it wont hunt you.”
“Thank you…” Takeo stopped bowing before the monk and retrieving his throwing knife in a single motion, he still favouring his injured arm.
“Shiku, as you have discovered I am one of the Shuimu’s tail order, the last of the monks here in fact. My brothers and sisters died on this mountain protecting it from a force that we let in to learn some of our kept lore and then they used it against us. I am all that remains and I keep this place safe and well kept in the hope that one day I can atone for my sins.”
Takeo frowned but continued into the plaza beyond the gate. Several small buildings lined a courtyard where bails of straw bound together by cored stood on posts in different poses were lined up – martial arts dummies Takeo smiled as he recognised the training tools from his own youth. As the party stopped to take in the the tiled buildings, caked in vines, branches, roots and grasses that made the entire monastery appear as though it was sculpted from the earth by some giant, or dragon.
“This courtyard used to be filled with monks from my order training, sparring and teaching the ways of our guardian and first teacher, Shuimu. It was a sight to beheld…” Shiku said as her voice trailed off. “This way please, if you insist on ending your life this day then you best all be quick readers.” Shiku walked forward at a painfully slow yet graceful pace that had the adventurers stopping ever now again to prevent themselves from walking into the back of the monk. The party passed a single large building where the front of it wore a scar-like void in place of its door, splintered wood, shattered bricks and broken tiles edged the void like a wound that refused to heal. “The orders sleeping quarters, where we were attacked by the betrayers and where we lost most of our apprentices and novices in the first few moments of the battle. I have not deemed myself worthy to repair the resting place of my family yet and it remains a constant reminder of the lessons I am yet to learn. This way please” she said after a moment of silence as the party was finished staring at the hole, a perfect circle that was twenty feet wide that bore into the centre of the building.
Stopping in front of a building – the large double doors lay in fragments on the steps leading up into the hall beyond – the party stared at what was both the most rundown and the most revered building in the monastery. Shiku turned to the party, her hands buried in her sleeves “Welcome to the Five Tailed library, resting place of the knowledge of generations of monks. Before you enter, I must ask you one question. Answer wisely as if your life depends on it,” she asked staring directly at the face of the adventurers. “what do you seek this knowledge for? What do you believe gives you more right to walk these hallowed halls where dozens have died in the attempt and many have died that night after breaching the halls for their own selfish reasons?”
Nodding, satisfied by the adventurers response Shiku walked the steps and beckoned for them to follow. “The knowledge you seek shall be contained in some of our ancient tomes, I shall bring out the ones I am aware of that mention the Shadow, but unfortunately I don’t know of which tome or scroll contains the answers you are after.” Shiku went off after showing the party to a table in the centre of the library, a few minutes passed and she returned with dozens of books and scrolls. “These are but a few of the many I need to bring forth,” she paused looking at the volume. “I may be able to buy you some time tonight, I shall be able to keep the beast at bay for at least a while so that you may find more time to cure this curse – in doing so it would be a blow against the Shadow and that is a something that I wish and so too does the beast.” She bowed before moving off to return once more with twice as many books and scrolls.
It was quite some time where Takeo and the adventurers were reading the books and scrolls, each of them watching the sun disappear slowly as the day went on until, the suns last rays still touching the peak of the mountain that they could see from the front steps of the Library. A few heart pounding moments passed before where they were waiting for the flash of golden fur, for the massive ape like beast to walk through the doors and into the library but it didn’t come. Sitting down at the table they began to read the last book whilst eating and drinking a meagre meal from their rations when one of the party stood up abruptly “golden fur touched by both dusk and dawn, once plucked by the emissaries of wind and fire can banish the shadow that wounds as if a bruise when drunk as a draught with the water cupped in the lotus flower.” Staring at each other for a moment, their relief and exhaustion after reading for several hours straight and having found the passage that they believe would cure not only the refugees but for Siu – their moment of elation was ended quickly…
Initially it sounded like distant thunder except the water in the cups they had on the table rippled as if a heart beat. Strong, consistent and powerful like that of a drum beating against the very walls of the mountain. Boom, boom, boom, the pounding continued causing dust to fall down upon the adventurers as they looked around the room waiting for some golden nightmare to appear as the last of the suns rays disappeared from the building, plunging the room into shadows. The only light now produced by the lanterns hung about the room by the monk as she departed on her mission to keep the beast at bay. The drumming stopped for long enough for the party to have a glimmer of relief before the silence was shattered by an explosive roar – one of pain, hatred and pure fury as the pounding began quicker. The vibrations now able to be felt through the ground before the crack of stone and rumble of a mountain crying could be heard. A few tense moments later a large crash of stone on stone could be heard from outside and the vibrations stopped.
Leaving the library slowly and cautiously the party crept forward with the scroll that mentioned the cure in hand. Where the outer wall met the gatehouse a large boulder now lay, the dust settling slowly revealed large chains tied around it and a path of destruction down from high in the mountain behind where the monastery was built. Slowly the party noticed a shift in the space around the boulder and their hearts sank into the pit of their stomach as what appeared to be rubble moments before pushed itself up, shaking its rippling golden fur, sending the dust and debris from its massive form shedding the illusion of rubble as a giant golden ape sat up, a tuft of silver hair tinged with gold was shrinking slowly and turning golden as the beast looked up at them, remorse, sadness and fear in its eyes as the silver hair slowly turned golden.
“Hide… quickly… it’s too late to run” Shikus voice came from the ape creature before the last of the silver hair disappeared as the last rays of sun disappeared from the peak of the mountain and the ape closed its eyes.
A moment of silence, perhaps two where the heart beats of the party were the only noise in the monastery before the apes eyes flew open. Gone was the kind caring eyes of the monk they had med earlier that day and they were replaced by fury, hatred and violence. – the tips of now-golden hair from its head glowing for a few moments as they reflected the setting of the sun and the beginning of night.
Suddenly the beast roared, a force so powerful that the party could feel it in the ground beneath their feet as it lunged at them – chains in casing its wrists now only visible as it tried to claw its way towards them the party – the boulder embedded in the wall shifting forward from the power of the beast.
“Run and hide!” shouted Takeo as he sprinted, faster than anyone could have expected from a wounded man – the party moments behind him as the sound of unfettered rage and straining steel rang from behind them.
Alright – hopefully I was able to get across the message and point of this adventure – some foes can’t be bested by sorcery or steel and the best option is the shortest path between you and cover. This weeks adventure is one of discovery, plans and stealth. How to steal strands of hair from a beast that is powerful enough to make the earth shake? Well our party will have to work that out and hopefully the dice are on their side. Don’t forget to come back the next two nights to get the last of the content before this weekends write-up (which spells the end of the month!) oh, and as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe