Part 2 – Hunted – 232MoNiPr
Mugrave passed the guards at the gate and smiled at them, giving a little wave as she walked with a bucket in hand towards the stream. The guards waved back and cautioned her to be careful of the stream as it wasn’t safe at night. Little did they know.
As she approached the stream she placed the bucket down at the edge of the water and continued past the edge. Striding through the waist deep stream was effortless for her being an Oni in the skin of a human and soon she was standing at the edge of a small orchard.
Growling echoed forth from the trees as four feline like shapes stalked forth from the trees.
“Hello my pets,” Mugrave cooed as she patted the first large scaled head that nuzzled her. “Yes you are hungry things aren’t you?” she asked as she patted a second.
A third and fourth waited their turn and she approached them and patted them affectionately, all four creatures reached out with tentacle like appendages and caressed her in return.
“I have a job for you four. There are some people that pose a threat to us. They don’t want us around and master has ordered their deaths. You four are going to give that to them aren’t you?” she cooed as she patted the first two creatures again. The feelings of hunger, acceptance and thrill of the hunt resonated from the creatures like pulse.
“Tonight you will find a mark on the door to where they stay. Find it and kill all who reside within. Leave before daybreak” she said as she stood to leave. The creatures patted her as she left them, their hissing snarls greeting the heels of her feet as she strode back to the village.
“Make yourself comfortable. You seven have been through quite a lot” Yulve said in soft tones as she busily hurried around from person to person.
“There is no need to fuss Yulve. You have done more than enough” Kyoko said as she accepted the hot tea that was handed to her. Glancing towards Kuang she could see that the venerated general was regaling stories of past conquests and battles with Yulve’s husband, Peruve – one of the first foreigners who Kyoko had met all those years ago. Hana busily tried to help Yulve who just as quickly tried to shoo the young Harimasu family member back to her seat.
“Now we don’t have much,” she explained, “but we have some venison stew”. The stew itself may have been plain but it was delicious and hearty and the party could not refuse a warm meal. After explaining what they had encountered on the streets, the shape shifters, Peruve looked up at Yulve.
“Wasn’t there an old folk tale that your folks used to tell me about?” he asked. “You know, the one about the monk who refused any offers of help on the road or something.”
“Yes, you’re right. The Quaigin. A race of cheeky shape shifters who take the form of any they touch. They are immortal spirit folk who unfortunately serve the Shadow.” she continued to explain as she collected cups and plates. “I say unfortunately as the legends say that they once stood against the Shadow but because of their nature no one trusted them to keep their word. They dissolved all ties and retreated back into the mountains I think was the last we heard of them.”
After supper and the last of the light had faded from the sky the party retired to the three rooms that were available with Kuang opting to sleep in the hallway outside of Kyokos room. As Peruve walked through the building he heard a scratching on the wood. Moving to the front door with a short blade in his hand he opened the door. Outside the nights sky was cold and contained no clouds whilst guards and refugees walked outside. Closing the door behind him and locking it he didn’t notice the glyph scratched into the door or how it glowed slightly.
Mugrave watched the Doorich cottage from across the road as she ate some bread. Transforming her finger down from its Oni sized to a form more fitting a humans she waited for her pets to visit the house.
“The plan is in motion. We have tested them and found that they are formidable but none have survived the four of them before.” She mumbled to the dark, a cold tendril of shadow touching her arm. “We will have our answers soon, from their living lips or driven out from their dead flesh.” she said after chewing through a chunk of bread and salted meat.
“You there. Miss.” a guard said as he approached Mugrave.
“what can I help you with guardsman?” Mugrave asked in a cheerful sweet one.
“I want to warn you that some refugees have been reported to be going missing. So I wanted let you know that we have placed extra guards around the refugee camp in case you need protection.”
She smiled – humans had the potential for great kindness and great malice. “That’s very kind of you. I shall send my thanks to the guards tonight.”
The guard smiled and shook his head, handing a flask of liquid to her. “No need to thank me, Lady Kyoko ordered it and we are happy to oblige.” he said before walking off down the street.
As the party left the Village and headed north she watched from the side of the road. Posing as one of the refugees from an earlier village she had made it to this small town without any real issue. Now that she was seen as one of those who drifted, one of those in need it was easy to move from place to place without questions being asked which suited her purposes.
“Soon we will be rid of that princess. Once she leads me to the light.” Mugrave muttered quietly to herself as she moved to get some food. “Once I have taken care of the light then our plan wont fail” she said to the voice in her head. The Shadow was pleased with his servant and retreated back from the busy street.
Mugrave licked her fingers clean of the blood that was dripping from them as the distant lights from fires and starts flickered through the alley. Even in her Oni form the alleys were large, big enough for a horse or two to fit down which was their purpose. Smiling she looked down at the pile of body parts and picked up a flabby arm. It wasn’t her favourite cut of meat, but it will sustain her for a little while yet.
She stopped her biting and slurping and looked towards the entrance to the alley as she sensed a presence there. After a few moments of sitting and waiting she looked down at the arm and the congealing fat around the muscle. Sighing she discarded it and added it to the pile of unappetising body parts. With an utterance of a dark phrase the pile of burst into a dark flame and she shed her Oni form returning to the human she had been wearing.
Stretching her now-cramped feeling bones she went to leave the alley and stopped when she felt a presence next to her. Shifting her glance she mocked surprise and restrained her violent response.
“You surprised me!” she said after giving a small shriek.
“Apologies, but may I be direct?” the man said to her.
“Depends on what you are asking I suppose” she replied coyly, panting and patting her chest as if trying to fan air into her lungs. “In fact, it also depends on who is asking also” she mused as she looked towards the man in shadow.
Stepping forward the sharp looking man looked at her with piercing eyes which she knew could see her Oni self. “Shall we cut the pretence Mugrave and talk business, or I can cut you down here.”
Interesting, she thought. It as not often that humans willingly reached out to her and even more infrequently those who knew her true form. “I guess we can” she replied as she revealed her palms – the signs of blood and gore removed from her skin with the transformation. A boon of being a skin walker.
They walked for some time through the streets discussing the battles they had been in and making somewhat pleasant talk. When they were far enough away from the refugees or polite company he turned to her and looked her in the eyes. “I want a truce. You are not to harm, curse or place dark pacts Kyoko or her family.” he said bluntly.
“What makes you think I am after them?” she replied as she sat down on a box in the street they found themselves in.
“The foreigners. I thought as much. If you leave the Harimasu and can swear and oath that they will not be harmed in any way by your or your masters power. Then you can have the foreigners and I nor my soldiers will stop you.” Kuang said.
Thinking about the possibility of having her mission handed to her on a platter she thought about the consequences. Not my masters or my power. Hard to move around as her masters powers were vast beyond compare. But he didn’t mention natural influence. Kuang extended a hand towards Mugrave, an unwelcome gesture to her as her kind had to be wary of pacts.
“I will agree to these terms if you answer me a question,” Mugrave said as she stood upright and allowed her form to half-shift, “How long have you known I was who I was and how.” she was curious. After all mortals generally were able to see her.
“I was cursed as a child. I see all spirits in their true form.” Kuang said, his eyes flashing in the fire light of a nearby torch as if to emphasise his point. Mugrave smiled and shook his hand.
Hana was preparing for bed. As she fluffed the pillow and rolled over to blow out the candle she smiled at her cousin. It was nice to be back with her family.
“Goodnight Hana” Kyoko said as she propped her sword up next to the head of the bed.
Hana smiled and mouthed her response. “Good night” the soft sound of her voice came out which cause Kyoko to start and nearly fall out of bed. “I spoke” was all Hana could say as Kyoko stared at her, a look of concentration and puzzlement crossing her features.
Areas and places of note
Doorich Cottage- Being a well known house for the Harimasu family to spend periods of time in whilst travelling through the lands near their castle Doorich Cottage is thought of a home away from home. The elders who maintain the house are normally trusted members of staff who were gifted the house upon their retirement from household duties.
Captain Kuang Ping – Believing that the party members and Liz are the reason that Kyoko has been directly targeted by not only the shadow but by the Toshio family he seeks to separate the two. What he doesnt realise is that Mugrave and the Shadow are using his superstition against him and that they will quickly turn against his pact when the timing is right.
Kyoko Harimasu – Kyoko disappears during the night with Hana to go and seek someone who can provide insight and wisdom into the sudden return of her voice. Guided and guarded by Kuang (who was all too eager to be out of Doorich Cottage) they are no where to be found when the Night Prowlers attack.
Sasha (Hana Toshio-Harimasu) – Shocked with the sudden reappearance of her voice Hana is quickly taken to a local herbalist who specialises in the magical phenomenon of the Ryokughan region.
Mugrave – Human form – Seeking the end to the Harismasu reign she will do just about everything, sacrificing her beloved pets included, to ensure that no one stands in her way. Letting lose her Night prowlers to be hunters in the dark she even goes to make a pact with Capitan Kuang as a way to see her masters plans come to reality.
The new and improved Kobold-fight club is beautiful. The improvements made on the UI and the ability to generate encounters is phenomenal and I can say that it made balancing this encounter easy. For this encounter 4 of these creatures is what we are targeting. Attacking in pairs at a minimum and trying to use their grapple to an advantage is what the general play would be before going in for the bite attacks on those restrained.
The idea behind this fight is that they will flee when the fight looks rough and re-ambush the party in the streets. Using the height of rooftops to their advantage and pouncing down upon their prey. These creatures aren’t meant to be pushovers and they aren’t dumb hunters. They know when to retreat and will retreat as a pack rather than individuals.
Inspiration comes from, duh, the displacer beast but I also would add certain fey like inspirations. Only 4 legs, 2 tentacles that are sensory primarily (hence the blind sight) but a row of frills around the back of their skull that gives the look of a Dilophosaurus. Relatively fine hair is sporadic and in tufts whilst a thick scaly hide sits under their skin.
This with their muted colour, silent approach make them perfect urban ambush creatures and ideal Hunters in the Dark.
The party, Kyoko, Hana and Kuang find that the two owners of Doorich Cottage are safe – however there are a number of refugees, guardsmen and villagers who were not so lucky.
The party are able to get some rest after the attack however there is the uneasy feeling of beng watched constantly and sleep is hard.