With the retreat of the Oni and the cracking open of the mountains peak the party woke up feeling refreshed. After the defeat of the ice queen and defence of the wall against her magic the wall guard offered them the best room and comforts available to them. Four walls and a bed each.
In the morning the party emerged to find the wall quiet. The land beyond the wall was even more so with only the occasional movement at a forward base camp the shadows minions had on the ridge further towards The Shadows Throne. The oni and their slaves, the Butatō, were the only things that could be seen as left over from the battlefield. The Spirit folk and other creatures that had been fighting the party and the wall guard had disappeared which gave the wall guard a day of repairs to the wall.
“Message from the General. Lord Toshio was found dead in his tent and his troops had surrendered. Apparently they have all claimed enchantment and enthrallment from the Yuki-onna and the warriors claim that Lord Toshio took his own life when he heard his wife had been killed.” The messenger from the general recited to wall captain Hou and Kyoko. “The General has begun to detain and question the Toshio troops but Lord Harimasu has pardoned them on condition that they return to their homelands and begin to broker peace between the two families again. The general is on his way here to make an attack on the mountain. He will be here in two days however he needs what ever intel we can provide him.”
Kyoko frowned at this and asked for a map of the battlefield from what the scouts had been able to map out. “This camp of Oni. How defended is it?”
“We estimate that it would be a few dozen Oni, their leaders and slaves at a minimum. A frontal attack would go poorly but if there is another way that we can get the intel without risking more lives or leaving the wall undefended then I am all ears.” Captain Hou replied as he pointed towards the map, indicating where he would suspect the intel to be kept.
“Sir, I volunteer to lead the operation to retrieve the intel.” a voice said from the door. Wall Guardsmen Gin Seng stood there looking determined and fatigued. “I’ve grown up training to fight these creatures, to defend this wall. If I can help finish the war then I want to be involved… Sir.” he added with a moment hesitation.
“This mission is too crucial to leave it to one person. But too difficult and risky for a large scale attack.” Kyoko said as she nodded to Gin Seng.
“Perhaps these heroes from across the sea would be able to be of assistance once again?” Kit Hou said as she smiled at the group. “They seemed to have saved half of Ryokughan already from the Oni and the Shadows influence so what’s one more mission?”
General Hou frowned at his daughter. “We put too much pressure on them. They have done enough. We can not rely on them forever and I fear that there may be worse things up in those hills which we just haven’t seen yet.”
Kyoko smiled to the party. “It’s up to you. But we may need help distracting the main force if we were to send in a smaller group of wall guard to retrieve the intel. If you can help with either endeavour I would feel more confident in our success. The entire Oni force would know of you by now and surely they would want to have a chance at gaining the Shadows favour by attempting to best you in combat.”
“Sir, I volunteer to lead the operation to retrieve the intel.” His voice echoed in his mind as he looked over the battlefield. In four hours the sun would begin to set and he would begin the mission.
As he looked across the soldiers clearing the battlefield of their dead and piling the enemy corpses onto a pile he called out. “Place the spiritfolk in a separate pile. They dont burn their dead with the Oni. They think it an offence to the spirits who guide them.” He said to Kit who, as punishment, was in charge of the bloody duty.
When the party and Kyoko looked his way he smiled sadly. “I spent some time with the spiritfolk when I was young… Some things you cant forget.” He began. After a moment he explained further.
Gin was born the son of an alchemist, two infact. His parent’s were non-conventional to say the least. His mother was a human but his father was one of the Spiritfolk who fell in love with the human woman who kept foraging in his forest.
Intially it was professional completion amongst each other. Finding the best reagents or herbs before the other could. But before long it blossomed into more.
Their son looked completely human except for a light covering of fur across his torso. His fathers goat legs, horns and tail were not gifted to his son but his reflexes and inhuman strength was. In the village they lived in the villagers quickly accepted Gin and his parents union. Especially when the quality of potions, charms and lotions were as high as his parents. However, happiness – like most things can’t remain for long.
Halfway through Gin’s tenth cycle an oni raiding party attacked his village. His parents locked him away and kept him hidden from the oni. But the Oni eventually found his parents. When they worked out that a human and spiritfolk were a could they made a sport out of their torture. It was ok display to the whole village yet Gin couldn’t see his parents in their last moments. But he could hear them.
The following month he pledged himself into the service or the Harimasu military and dedicated his life to hunting Oni.
“and I’ve been here ever since..” he said with a touch if pride on his face.
“sir! We have movement!” A guard shouted as they hurried towards the wall.
“Hold! It’s the spirit folk to send off their dead.” Gin called out to his fellow guardsmen. “See. Wait and watch”
A few moments passed and gradually all types of Spiritfolk appeared around the pile of their dead. Then slowly they formed a circle and began to sing and dance around their fallen. “They are celebrating the reunion of their parents, elders, children and friends and the spirit world. Where they believe they will hunt in the endless plains of their ancestors.” He explained. “This will last until sunset at which point they will take the bodies away and burn them amongst the rest of their kin.”
Sure enough as the sun set the spiritfolk gathered their dead and singing out in joyous tones they carried them away from the battlefield and into the wilds beyond.
Moving forward as the sun set Gin and those who followed behind him looked anxiously at the oni camp. “We will be there soon. Remember. If we get into trouble or the mission is at risk to fire a drift globe shaft into the air and aid will come.” Gin said to the people standing nearby.
With agreement from those gathered he began to creep across the battlefield once more, signalling to stop periodically when something moved up ahead. Soon they were in the shadows of the tents. The setting sun and the shadows of the hills, mountain and nearby forest aided in their mission by creating pockets of shadow.
As the sun hit the edge of the mountain it plunged the camp into a mixture of amber glow from the setting sun and dark shadows. A few hundred feet away war horns trumpeted signalling that the second part of the plan had begun and that it was now or never to enter the camp.
As the oni and butatō left the camp in a hurry to meet the attackers head one. Slowly Gin and his entourage crept forward towards the main tent and waited for the oni captain to leave. As the captain stormed out with its armour buckled in tight a few slave Butatō followed in its wake. Taking this moment as the one to move Gin and his companions skulked forth once again and cut a hole in the canvas tent. Once the coast was deemed clear they entered silently.
None of those present realised the mistake that had been made until it was too late. A deep unholy growl rumbled forth from the shadows of the tent which threatened to bring the entire oni warband to the captains tent. A neat table lay in the centre of the room and contained a map, documents and scrolls. For their brutal use of weapons and mastery of war and savagery the oni were also expert tacticians.
As they stared at the multi limbed creature that confidently strode forth Gin prepared his drift globe shaft in a hand crossbow and prepared to state the words that would activate the arcane device. Looking between his compatriots and the creature he hoped that he didn’t need to call for aid and that they would be able to deal with this threat quickly and quietly.
Environment and running the adventure
Gin He has five drift glob shafts which are small drift globes that are crafted into arrow or crossbow arrow/bolt shafts so that when they are shot they activate the moment they start to slow from being launched. This causes the bolt to slowly fall to the ground whilst the drift globe emits a light (of pre-determined colour).
If the party go with Gin they are in the tent when the creature reveals itself. It’s not a hard fight but as it falls it calls out loudly (unless silenced in some manner – Player and DMs decision).
If they don’t the Party are with some other warriors fighting Oni, captains (a larger one in full plate with a large shield and battle axe) when they see several drift globes activate above the Oni Captains tent signalling Gin needs help.
The camp is built on an incline, rather sharply so. The tent are setup in a rather ingenuous way where they form a solid slab-foundation of wood, earth or even snow under the tents to level the tent.. to some degree.
The snowy hills pose an interesting mechanic for us. One way difficult terrain. Moving up the hill through the snow towards the camp is considered difficult terrain where as moving down isn’t. Patches of snow pose a further hindrance as fighting in these areas would impose disadvantage to dexterity checks and strength contests (not checks) due to the slippery mud and shin-to-knee deep snow.
Encounter – The Bakegamoto
The Bakegamoto is a large dog like creature with a pushed in snout, large bat like ears and at least two large tusks jutting from their bottom jaw. The males are generally endowed with larger tusks and are a mixture of faun with a ruddy brown light mane that sprouts from the neck.
Females are generally lighter in colour without the mane but their tusks are shorter and generally thinner and sharper than the males. Trained bakegamoto are extremely obedient, strong and powerful. Normally kept by Oni captains or chieftains as a sign of power and strength they defend their master completely and obey orders to the best of their ability.
After the encounter:
The party move on for another day of walking before the wall is seen on the horizon. Although they have bested all that has been thrown at them so far they fear the worst still lies ahead of them.