Hello and welcome to another Monday night in Ryokughan and this week we find our parties carrying onwards to Toshio family lands. After a night full of fire, snow and spirits the party is weary and in need of shelter and respite but will the welcome of Kyokos’ cousins husband be what she is hoping for?
The remaining of the cursed and members of Kyoko’s caravan and escort moved along much slower than they had yesterday after spending the night fighting off the attackers and then repairing one of the caravans from using salvageable parts from the other ruined ones. Those that remained were sore and tired and looking forward to getting out of the chill that was now sitting in great clumps of snow on the ground where they walked.
“It’s not far now,” called out Kyoko as she could see the dark shape through the snow, looming ahead even above the next ridge of the mountains “they say that the Toshio family built this estate in such as place as its soo easily defended and the area’s below that ridge are frequently populated with unfriendly creatures and spirits that only the mad or foolish would dare lay siege to their family home. It’s also the only place for days around that has hot springs that give hot water and make the land somewhat fertile so that the Toshio family can actually live there.” Kyoko sighed as he pulled up the cloak around her coat she continued to march through the cold.
Kuang, the Party and the remaining cursed walked more sullenly having watched the soldiers and those inflicted by the shadow bruise curse be cut down, or smashed in most instances, by the Spirit folk named the Nat and none felt it as keenly as Siu who seemed to seethe with both anger and regret as he disappeared from the parties, and Kyoko’s, senses more frequently than not.
Luckily Liz and Takeo had moved a more secretive route earlier to reach Kyoko’s families house before they were ambushed, and to reduce the chance of the Toshio family head from learning about the divine energies that Liz brought from across the sea to Ryokughan. But despite them not being involved in this conflict and being safe, to the best knowledge of the party and princess, it was little comfort.
The thundering hooves of a horse or several nearby broke the party out of their trance as they soon found wild looking mounted warriors riding towards them bearing the colours of the Toshio family. Stepping forward Kuang and Kyoko addressed the warriors and a few brief exchanges were spoken they returned to the group. “We are in luck, Lady Toshio had visited my Cousin and her husband a few days ago and had presumed we would return the horses to here, so we are expected. However I would not expect a warm greeting as during the attack we have but one of the three horses remaining, the other, the once-dead mare, has not yet shown itself and we believe has become tainted by the shadow somehow. Watch what you say, the Toshio family’s honour only goes so far when they feel slighted but we will have a roof over our heads and warm water to soothe our injuries and fatigue. I am told the Princes’ wife, my cousin, is currently out visiting a nearby village and according to the escort group should return in a few days time giving us time to work out how to navigate the situation with the scroll and horses.” Kyoko said as she lead the remaining half-dozen horses, including the Toshio horse, towards the building as the warriors formed a defensive barrier.
“Heard you guys ran into some problem with the locals,” one of the soldiers, a gruff man with a scar running down his face from his right eye, “I hope you got them back for what they did to you, these creatures get more and more bold the further The Shadows influence spreads and they have started to attack villagers and even make the occasional appearance near our fort.” he said, the dislike for these creatures obvious in his eyes.
“Ruben, that’s enough” barked a massive man who was clad in steel plates as well as thick, hairy hide. “I want silence from all until we get to the building – especially from those who know how dangerous these lands can be for the ill prepared or untrained” the man said, shooting a brief mocking smirk towards the Captain and Kyoko who just nodded in return, not worth creating a dispute or drama between the family houses.
Within the hour Kyoko’s party were at the gates to the fort, and family compound, large thirty foot walls met a large gatehouse and surrounded the building, one side backed up to a tall mountainous peak where a flight of steps lead upwards into the cloud and out of view – but even so often large braziers burned on either side of the steps and their glow could be seen through the snow flurries and into the first part of the clouds.
“Welcome Kyoko” a man said as the gates opened, a few heavily armoured and masked guards stood around the man dressed in a large robe, “It’s been too long. Please come in before you catch a cold” the man said but the smile he wore held no warmth. “We will see that the horses are taken to the stable, and that we have room for your small party”
“We will require more space and impeach upon your hospitality more I am afraid.” Kyoko said with a bow. “We have some refugees from the coast where their town was attacked and it has left them afflicted with a peculiar mark which causes them to simply not appear. They can stay in the Caravan if it pleases you but will require some food and form or warmth so don’t be alarmed if something seems off.” Kyoko said, trying her best to not reveal the full truth.
“Ah, I had heard rumours but I can see, well I can’t really!” the man said after a pause those men and women that served him laughed heartily before he continued and the laughter died down a moment after “We will make sure that there is food provided to the Caravan but until the nature of the affliction is revealed I can’t risk it spreading through the family house now, that would be ill advised.”
Kyoko bowed deeply and nodded to the men moving the caravan which, with the other horses, headed towards the stables. “Now let’s get you warm and dry then hmm?” said the man in the robes as he moved off.
“That’s Lord Toshio, Teng Toshio, my cousins husband and the lord that lives here. He is our host and has some influence with the Toshio family so we best tread respectfully around him” Kyoko said in a hushed whisper to the Party. “Now, I need to be rid of these cold damp clothes and to get some real food into me” she declared loudly as she followed the lordling into the buildings.
Thanks for joining me for the beginning of another week and how fitting it is that our party is moving through the snow and cold as a cold wave has hit the southern parts of Australia at the same time. Make sure to come back each day this week as we uncover what I have planned for our adventurers and Kyoko’s people and, as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe