House Kanjim

The Edge of Heaven

Once the brigands have been dealt with, Khoul asks Adhana to help him perform a blessing upon the temple and the poor villagers within, to help send them on their way through the Dream to dance at the Edge of Heaven and to release them from the torment that has trapped them here after their deaths. Adhana and Khoul prepare a ritual circle within the temple, a nine foot circle edged with chalk with incense burning at the center of it. While they are doing their preparations Onye is whittling small figurines of the innkeeper and his wife, the bard and the badger. Khoul and Adhana offer to bring the others into the Dream with them. Ghora and Psedera agree to accompany them while Onye keeps at his carving. Adhana and Khoul start chanting and walking slowly around the ritual circle asking Ghora and Psedera to walk between them and join in the chant.

The air starts to shimmer and take on a soilidity it doesn’t normally have. The real world starts to fade and it is as though they are walking through an aroura borialis until the temple remakes itself like it used to be, but see through and glowing golden. There are golden lights around the temple that slowly form into images of the people who died. Ghora didn’t pass far enough into the Dream to see them as people, but the others do. Khoul tells them that their deaths have been avenged and that it is time for them to pass over and dance at the Edge of Heaven with the Devas. He and Adhana form the air into a large glowing archway that opens into a blinding light. As the golden lights start flowing through the gateway the group can just make out the forms of dancing figures on a vast plain of golden grass. Joy and happiness flow from the arch. Once all the villagers have passed through Adhana and Khoul slow their chanting and bring the group back to the present. The ritual is finished by putting out the incense and disrupting the circle.

On the way out of the town Onye stops at the inn and places his tiny carved statuettes on the mantle in rememberence of the villagers who lost their lives.

With solemn hearts, the pilgrims and their retainers resume their travel on to Tiari to inform the Magistrate of what has transpired so that he may send soldiers back to the village to secure the region from further villainy and to bring life back to the area. There are still many days travel ahead, but now wise old Khoul seems content to let the guard retainers travel close at hand.

The rest of the journey passes uneventfully, with the pilgrims reaching Tiari, informing the Magistrate and safely deliver the crystal singing bowl to the temple. After which Ghora guides the group to the Dancing Suthra Inn where he was instructed to meet Bartok, a Klin Summoner sent as an emissary to House Kanjim. Aryah Durkel wants Ghora to keep an eye on the Klin since he doesn’t trust him or the reasons for his placement in House Kanjim. Aryah Durkel refused to tell him why they were gaining a Klin emissary.

Ghora enters the common room with a commanding presence. The innkeeper, a rotund toad, waddles up saying, “Welcome, welcome welcome!” Ghora greets him and the innkeeper lets him know wthat he was expected and rooms are ready. He also tells him that the bat had been there for several days and answers Ghora’s questioning that he had been treated fairly even though such creatures are not appreciated there. The innkeeper tells you that he is probably currently asleep. Ghora puts a note under the bat’s door asking him to meet them for dinner after prayers. The party gets settled and once prayers are over (and Psedera had cleaned her weapons), they sit down to their evening meal.

Bartok comes downstairs, dressed appropriately for meeting his new group leader. He has a striking black cloak with red velvet lining. Much to everyone’s surprise he is albino. Ghora greets him politely and is a bit taken aback by his strong Klin accent. He is asked to join them at the table, graciously accepts and is introduced to the party. Bartok intentionally avoids contact with Onye, who notices but doesn’t care. He asks about their trip and after hearing the recounting he seems genuinely interested. Ghora asks Bartok about himself. He tells them a few very vague superficial things about himself. Once everyone is acquainted Ghora informs them all that they will be starting their return journey two days hence.

Onye goes up to him and says traveling during the day isn’t that bad and to not worry it will be ok. Then he smacks him on the back. Bartok says he’ll be fine but is obviously displeased by the physical contact and asks Onye to please not touch him. Onye just goes back to eating.

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The Tragedy of the Temple

Adhana and Khoul hear the sounds of battle and hope that it will stay away from the inn. Neither of them believes in fighting, although both are trained in the martial arts. Unfortunately for them the brigands have other ideas. Knowing that the party was staying at the teahouse a few members of the band circled around and stole unnoticed to the back of the inn. They took Adhana and Khoul by surprise, but they managed to deflect the blows enough to be only slightly hurt.

Using very similar styles, since Adhana had learned from her foster father, they spun to face their adversaries. The fight was drawn out due to the fact that the two priests tried to only subdue, rather than harm their opponents, relying mostly on defense until some of the guards appeared, drawn by the sounds of fighting. The guards quickly finished the fight and made sure the Blessed ones were mostly unharmed and the offering was safe.

In the meantime, the rest of the group can hear the faint sounds of rest of the guards running toward the sounds of battle. Onye, seeing the dire straits of his companion, runs to defend psedera swinging at the mounted brigand with his naginata twice before trying to pull him off his chinti. The bandit simply tries to cling to his chinti and not fall off, barely able to do that, since he is so wounded. Writing him off, Onye runs over and body slams the other one near Psedera and knocks him senseless. He then literally stands over Psedera to guard her from the chaos of battle.

Having just clipped the fleeing bandit, Ghora tries to sweep his legs out from under him. The brigand jumps over his leg. Ghora follows the sweep with a chop to back of his neck, doing a lot of damage. The final straw was a kick to groin that dropped his adversary to the mud, clutching his groin.

Finally the rest of guards arrive and overwhelm the remaining brigands. When all is said and done, one guard was killed and another was wounded. Three brigands were kept for questioning. One was gorilla leader. The others either died of their wounds or escaped.

The group debates over what horrible things to do to the prisoners. Psedera is very insistant that whatever is done to them is her job. Eventually Onye throws Psedera over his shoulder, grabs the gorilla by the neck and drags him back to inn with Ghora to check on Adhana and Khoul. Once they are back together Ghora asks the priests about the change in the inn. Khoul says he has no idea and now is not the time for figuring it out. More important at the moment is to see to the wounded and get rest . He says they can deal with the strange issues and the prisoners in morning after prayers.

Being more skilled in healing than Khoul, Adhana sees to the wounds of the party. She spends quite some time on Psedera’s wounds and after much bandaging she is feeling much better. The wounded guard is taken care of as well. Ghora, on the other hand, though carefully ministered to, still has a couple deep sword wounds that will take some time to heal.

Onye ties up the prisoners. The guards set up watch. They want to the interrogate the prisoners right away, but Ghora stalls them till morning. Psedera insists yet again that it is HER job. During the evening one brigand manages to wiggle loose, not leader though since he is still unconscious. The escapee tries to flee but is caught by the guards.

Khoul and Adhana sing in the new day with prayers at False Dawn joined by Ghora, Onye and the guards. Psedera sings while she cleans her weapons in front of the captured Brigands. After Prayers she interrogates the prisoners asking them what happened to the town and why they are here.

She terrifies all three prisoners, but it is the minion who didn’t try to escape that babbles in barely understandable broken Tishíni that it was the “boss’s” fault, and that they hadn’t wanted to burn the temple. Psedera asks why they burnt the temple? He responds that the villagers fled from their attack and hid there. Our leader wanted us to smoke them out but the fire engulfed the building to quickly. Psedera switches to the question why is town like this? The question seems to panic him and she can’t get anything more out of him than whimpering and crying Gilárhi gibberish. She moves on to the leader who has finally regained consciousness and asks him why the town is like this. He looks at her with fear in his eyes. He just keeps shaking his head saying that the temple burned… the temple burned. At that point Khoul steps in and says perhaps we should go see the Temple now. Psedera responds, Yes, your grace. Onye grabs prisoners by their ropes and drags them with him “accidentally” bashing them into stuff and Psedera follows behind ensuring they don’t get loose and escape.

- -

In the meantime before the interrogation started Ghora took Adhana with him to inspect the temple. She went willingly, having no desire to witness the interrogation.

The ruined, stone walls of the burned and gutted temple lay in the center of the village. It was a terrible sight to see. Little was left of the elaborate wooden upper floors, most of which had collapsed in upon themselves in the fire that must have been many weeks ago. The lower level’s carved walls of stone, and the wide-open, singed, wooden main doors are all that remain. The seasonal rains have turned the ground to ashy mud.

In the doorway itself lay two bodies festering with rot, one wearing the soiled saffron robes of a Satyan priest, and the other a badger that had been carrying him in his burned arms when he fell. An arrow is sunk deeply in his decomposing chest. Within the ruined temple are even more horrors. It appears as if the villagers, having been attacked by the brigands, fled to these relatively fortified walls in an attempt to hold them off. Whatever happened, the temple began to burn, and the villagers all died within, perhaps by heat or smoke, as the burning upper floors fell around them. They lay huddled, as a group, clinging to one another against the scorched inner walls, their bodies twisted in their agonizing last moments. Not far from the door one jánah lay caught in the light of the rising suns. Grasped tightly in the corpse’s arms is the charred remnant of a multistringed sitar. Apparently, the only escapee from the inferno (the badger) was shot dead before he could even get beyond the door.

Ghora kneels in front of the the temple and whispers a prayer to the devahs. Adhana joins him. She says softly that she and khoul will need to do a ritual to lay these souls to rest. Ghora turns to head back to the inn saying to the souls of the dead, be at peace justice will be done.

- -

Ghora and Adhana return to the inn as the others are leaving for the temple. Adhana is openly crying and Ghora is speechless with anger. Onye asks whats going on. Adhana just shakes head and goes over to Khoul leaning against his shoulder crying and whispers in his ear. Khoul’s expresssion hardens.

After a moment of contemplative silence the old priest tells them that he and Adhana hold the divine laws of the Partakám (the holiest of texts) in their hearts and on their tongues. He says Adhana has told him of the horrors these brigands have commited.. He calls upon the players, as noble Sunborn and warrior caste, to decide if the prisoners should die now, perhaps appeasing the tortured spirits of their victims, or stand for judgment before the magistrate and the Lawspeakers of Tiari in a public forum many days from now.

Psedera and Onye want to see what they have done before passing judgement, carrying the prisoners with them to the temple. Ghora says nothing until after they see the masacre. Psedera is very confused as is Onye. Ghora explains that it is obvious to him that the spirits needed their aid and manifested in an attempt to get it. Psedera votes for execution so does Ghora. Onye agrees.

At this point the prisoners are screaming and crying for mercy. Onye bashes their heads against a rock till they stop. Ghora says vermin like this do not deserve to live in this beautiful world. Psedera is concerned that hanging them would mean others might cut them down before they die. Ghora replies that is why I will stay and watch them die. He is rubbing his necklace. It is decided to hang them from the nearby buildings facing the temple. Psedera makes nooses from her rope. Onye binds their feet and hands. The guards hang them. Ghora says may the Devahs have mercy on you for you will find none here.

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The Troubles of a Mysterious Town

Another day of travel passes, and by the third hour after midday prayers you reach the rolling, crystal-studded foothills of the Prasha Mountains. The amber skies seem almost alive with multicolor wisps of swirling vapor and the puffy remnants of storm-clouds that seem to dance on the high mountain airs. The trees along the way are now a mixture of maspéra as well as the hardy, tall, and slender ayurbála trees, whose blade-shaped, dark-crimson leaves flutter in the breezes that scatter their delicate white blossoms.

The road here, though fairly well maintained, is patched with muddy washes from the rains that recently cascaded down the rocky slopes, and is freshly rutted and scattered with debris from last night’s storm. Ahead the road turns sharply, and at its bend a timeworn statue seems to stare from the edge of the forest, depicting an old, burly tortoise in simple artisan’s clothes who leans upon a great stone hammer. An offering bowl at its feet, carved into the statue itself by ancient hands, lay cracked and empty, save for fallen leaves and rainwater. Ahead, beyond the bend in the road, can be heard the deep roar of rushing water.

None of the characters but Adhana have any idea about the statue and even she she is unsure, asking Khoul hesitantly if it is the devah Yatnariti. He says yes and explains that the devah Yatnaríti is the god of wise endeavors, and this form venerates good labors and architecture. He continues that shrines like this one are often made to commemorate the sites of important public buildings and other such structures.

Khoul says that this statue means they must be approaching the bridge he recalls from his travels. He shakes his head in disappointment at the ill state of the shrine, noting that wise travelers would do well to remember their offerings at such sites. He stops the group momentarily so that he may clear out the offering bowl at the base of the statue after which he places several small grain-cakes from his pack, as well as a few crystal dalán coins in it. He seriously watches as the players each put an offering in the bowl as well: Adhana the same as Khoul’s although fewer coins, Ghora a generous amount of dalan, Psedera a some rations, and Onye, after a bit of thought, a chunk of partially rotted meat, with the explanation that it is all he has to give, besides that it is his favorite food.

After they pass the bend in the road they come upon an awful sight. Across a fairly deep gorge of muddy earth and spiky crystal nearly a hundred feet wide, lay what remains of a once large wooden bridge, nearly washed away by the raging torrent of water still flowing down from the nearby mountains that tower nearby. Only a few pilings and crossbeams remain amidst the flying foam and deadly current below. As if in testament to the dangerous conditions, the lone corpse of an insectoid riding-beast hangs impaled upon one of the upstream-facing crossbeams, its chitinous limbs flailing lifelessly in the roaring stream.

Only half jokingly Ghora says it is time to go home. He has no love for heights. Psedera is in agreement with him, abhoring the idea of having to cross the water. After much debate and thought Adhana remembers what might have been a fallen road stone back aways and Ghora vaguely recalls seeing another bridge crossing this river on an old map back home. It is decided that Ghora will run back, Adhana flying along to find out if there was a side road.

Once they reach the point Adhana recalled they find a mossy, fallen guide-stone laying by the side of the road beneath the ferny undergrowth. The forest behind it thins a little revealing an old road leading down a gentle slope deeper into the forest through patches of fern and occasional bramble. Ghora inspects the stone while Adhana flys back to get Khoul and the others. He finds a barely discernible sigil indicating some sort of settlement in that direction, but it is so old and worn he cannot even fiind a name..

The guards meet up with Ghora shortly before Adhana and the others make it back. The guards pause to rest at the fallen guide post while the characters and Khoul taking a distant lead through the old and quiet wood.

Eventually they emerge from the forest near a promontory overlook at the edge of a waterfall, you see the lowlands below spread out like a rolling blanket covered with more forest as it begins its slow decent. The old road continues to wind it way through the forest like a rough thread, now bending to the east as it heads toward the glittering ribbon of the swift stream far away. The suns are less than an hour from False Dusk, when bluish Edü begins to set, with the second sun, amber Lokáynü, following merely an hour after. This alternate route has taken more time than any of them had expected, and the old chameleon has grown obviously weary from the trek.

Psedera and Ghora are all for making camp and roughing it in the forest for one night, since traveling through the forest at night is not a very safe idea. Khoul does not like the idea of roughing it at all, but that isn’t enough to sway the opinions of the others. Out of the blue, Onye says that he knows there is a bridge and village up ahead. When asked how he knows this, he says he feels like he remembers this place. Adhana adds that she feels it would be unwise to camp since she learned some about fauna as well as flora in her herbalism lessons and has seen plants that dangerous suthra happen to enjoy. Onye says he doesn’t think it is too far. Khoul is thrilled at the thought of a warm bed and hot tea served at an inn and is willing to do evening prayers on the move if he must.

Psedera on the other hand is very adamant that she must stop and clean her weapons during the hour of evening prayer. She is not willing to attempt it on the move and refuses any option the others put forth. She continues on with them till Edu sets and then stops to work on her weapons, commenting that she will join the guards and lead them to join up with the rest.

A good hour after the larger amber sun has set, and the prayers of the evening have been mumbled by all as they continued to make time on the road, the party, minus Psedera, finally arrives at a break in the woods near the edge of the stream. Here the gorge is much wider, but shallower, and a huge old wooden bridge casts deep shadows beneath the light of the moons which have risen (crystalline green Máynatah, purple Kamádi, and iridescent aqua-blue Rrísi). The sky is now dimly luminescent in various hues of deep blue, purple, and green, as if mimicking the light of the moons with glowing celestial veils. The chirring of strange suthra hum in the night airs, and a mist has risen in the woods, obscuring the far end of the bridge and the apparently dark village beyond. The surrounding forest is a confusing tapestry of shifting silhouettes.

As the party crosses the bridge, Ghora walking in the center and studiously avoiding looking down, Onye notices that their movement on the bridge seems to have startled two small creatures beneath it on the far bank of the stream. Whatever they are, the creatures flee out of sight downstream, and vanish into the forest beyond.

Though the village at first appears to be dark, as the mists part while they cross the bridge the warm lights of oil lamps and candles become evident in some of the nearest dwellings, and smoke can be seen curling from the chimney of a two-story building beyond the bridge on the right. An old sign, showing a small gray bear-like jánah of some kind curled upon a sleeping palette, is inscribed with the name “Díbra’s Rest”. The smell of hot tea and mulled wine floats lightly in the air. Khoul is overjoyed and, though exhausted, picks up his pace.

A high-peaked roof with corner ornaments to ward away evil spirits rises above the rustic wooden structure of the inn, and its simple curtain doorway of woven river-reeds opens as a small jánah, a white rat, emerges, eyeing the group with a momentarily startled expression before becoming sullen and scurreying off into the misty night down the village’s main road. The interior of the inn is comfortably lit with various hanging paper lanterns as well as clay tabletop oil lamps, and on either side of a bead-curtained doorway leading into the kitchen, two small jugánu worm cages hold luminescent occupants that cast a cool green glow on the hanging crystal beads. At the far end of the room a merry fire burns in a huge stone hearth where hangs a fat amber cooking pot in which you can discern, through its translucent sides, a thick and simmering stew. The room is a large one, with ample table-space for the twenty guards who will soon be joining you. Around the room sit several locals of various jenu who eye you all uncertainly as you make your entrance. A male kangaroo dressed in the colorful, flowing silks of an entertainer sits in a cushioned chair near the large hearth and absently strums a sitar as he watches you, a look of bemusement quite evident.

Emerging from the kitchens through the beaded curtain come a male koala and a female meerkat, apparently the proprietors of the place, carrying in their hands ceramic platters filled with sliced bread and fruit. The meerkat nearly drops her dish when she notices you, and with wide and uncertain eyes full of trepidation they both regard your group.

The innkeeper, in a heavy Nilámi accent, abruptly asks the group why they have come. Ghora addresses him politely explaining that they are traveling and need room for the night. The innkeeper quickly says that there is no place for them at the inn, and that they should move on to the next village. Old Khoul declares this “nonsense” and proceeds to sit, telling them that he and his companions are on a holy pilgrimage with the blessings and aid of the Aryah Durkel, and that both deference to the devah, as well as respect for noble Sunborn… Suddenly he is interrupted by a loud BURP from Onye. Khoul pauses for a long moment, turning one eye to look at the crocodile distastefully before making an extremely visible eyeroll to place both eyes back on the innkeepers, continuing with, well… MOSTLY noble Sunborn should inspire you to welcome us graciously. The innkeeper looks distinctly pained, and his wife explains that their village is poor, but has recently attracted the attention of local brigands who consistently liberate the wealth of occasional travelers that make their way through the village. She is terrified that the presence of the group will catch their attention. She explains that the village is afraid of any repercussions that might land on them for helping the group in any way.

Onye growls that they might try to rob them, but will not succeed. Ghora also works to reassure her mentioning that within mere minutes Psedera and twenty armored guards will be arriving looking for a night’s rest as well. With this information, a great sigh of relief passes through all in the tearoom, and trepidation turns to glee and excitement. The group is then welcomed to sit, and is be served a hearty meal. The innkeeper and his wife introduce themselves as Dibra and Chiruh both originally from Nilam.

Just then Psedera and the guards come in. Psedera looks very aggitated, which Onye notices and comments on. She brushes him off. In reality just crossing over the river on the bridge to get to the town had caused her to panic and need the help of the guards to make it all the way across. Once food has been provided to the newcomers, several villagers of various species accost the guards with questions about the goings on outside of their village. Many still seem sullen and tired, but relieved and excited for news from beyond their town..

A pleasant din of eating, conversation, and laughter fills the room as the innkeeper and his wife gladly lay out a veritable banquet for them. Psedera notices the kangaroo playing a delightful but sad song on his sitar, accompanied by his liltingly beautiful, soft voice. The kangaroo notices he is being watched, and winks and smile at her, inviting Psedera to join him She pulls out the small drum she carries with her and plays percussion for his song. The song he sings tells the story of a man who loved a woman who was lost to him far away, and of his desire to meet her at the Edge of Heaven when the devah choose to judge his heart and soul. He mourns the days he spends without her, but he knows his life is not his own to take, and that only the devah can release him from this worldly prison. When the song is over he introduces himself as Bákuman the musician, originally from Ishpüria. She introduces herself explaining that she is originally from Sustrum. He looks at her curiously and mentions that she has an odd accent for being from that area. She just shrugs and he blows it off with a comment about how accents can differ so much.

He explains that the song is his own story to some extent, and that the lady he loved was killed in a nearby region by marauders that had come to take the town’s children into slavery. He will mentions that such banditry and roguishness has become more common in recent days, and that the innkeeper doesn’t exaggerate when he speaks of how dangerous the local band of brigands is. They are cutthroats and thieves that have fled into Tishínia from the border skirmishes with Gilárhi. They have caused the hard times that have fallen upon this village as of late. He hopes that the players will not run afoul of these brigands, but prays that the scoundrels will soon feel Kramah’s heavy justice.

The Priests Khoul and Adhana are approached hesitantly by a sullen jánah, a stout, middleaged badger who calls himself Áhuli, the stone carver of the village. His hands are wrapped in cloth bandages. He humbly requests that the mángai do the village a great favor and perform a blessing at the temple. He claims that the brigands the innkeeper spoke of recently desecrated their temple by fire and murdered their priest. They have not yet alerted the magistrate of either Sadahm or Tiari since the brigands make it dangerous for them to leave. Adhana asks about his hands, he says that he burned them trying to pull the priest’s body from the flames of the temple. The innkeeper tries to hush the badger while he speaks, saying that he doesn’t want his honored guests troubled by these matters. But the stone carver is insistent, saying that They are their only hope, none of the villagers wishes to go to the temple anymore because of what happened. He is sure that new blessings placed upon the temple ruins will bring peace to the villagers. Adhana inspects his wounds and carefully salves them and re-bandages them. He tells her that her kindness has blessed him and he leaves the inn.

The meerkat spends some time talking with Ghora about the bandits, explaining that the leader is a gorilla and most of the rest are simians or apes. The bandit group has threatened the village in the past if they do anything to warn travelers or to stop the attacks. She feels the attack on the Temple was in response to something they had done and a warning to comply to the brigands demands.

Throughout the evening, little by little, most of the villagers in the tearoom depart for the night and say their farewells, wishing the pilgrims good fortune and luck. Eventually, only the musician and the two innkeepers remain in the inn with the group entertain the new new guests.

During the evening while the characters talk with the villagers and learn more about the situation they decide to be proactive and set up a watch to ambush the brigands if and when they attack. Psedera has the idea to deploy the guards around town to set up a perimeter so that the group will be ready no matter what direction the bandits come from. Ghora gives the orders, but the guards are reluctant. Their job is to guard the Preist and his offering, not liberate a town from bandits. Ghora explains that thwarting the bandits will protect the priest and they see his point and go to their posts on the outskirts of the town guarding the main entrances. Psedera climbs to the top of the tallest building, the teahouse, and hides herself to keep lookout. She will signal with clicks when and if she sees anything suspicious. Onye sits in the middle of the main road of the town which runs in front of the teahouse making absolutely no attempt whatsoever to hide himself. Ghora and Adhana stay in the inn with Khoul, the inkeepers and musician.

Two hours before midnight prayers Psedera notices movement at the edge of town near the river. It seems to be a large group of janah mounted on chinti. They carry torches and are making no attempt to be stealthy. They will be meeting up with the guards deployed at the bridge before there is any chance of them threatening the teahouse.

The noise of their approach can be heard inside. The innkeeper and his wife seem transfixed in horror, and the musician turns grim eyes toward the door. Suddenly, a deep, bellowing cry, thick and guttural, rings like a cracked gong from outside, and as it does the very air around the characters seems to change. Like awakening from a dream, the pleasant glow of the candles and lamps in the tearoom is snuffed all at once, as if by dozens of hands, all save for the traveling lanterns. For those outside all the lights of the village vanish instantly and the warm smoke from the chimneys disappears. Inside the sultry air, warmed by the hearth’s fire, and rich with the scents of smoke and food suddenly crackles and grows threadbare, thin, and cold in an instant. The very furniture upon which they sit suddenly becomes dusty, and upon the tables lay empty ceramic mugs and cracked dishes long abandoned. The hearth is barren and cold, littered with old ashes, and the cushioned seat, upon which the musician had just been sitting, lies empty and broken upon the dirty floor. There is no one in the tearoom except Khoul, Ghora and Adhana.

Again the deep voice bellows, thick with the accent of Gilárhi; “Come out of there! We know you have hidden in the teahouse, we can see the light of your lanterns! You are few and we are many… My scouts saw you cross the bridge! Come out, give us what we want, and perhaps we will let you and your friends live old man!”

Onye yells out that they won’t do the same for the brigands. At the same moment Psedera makes a huge leap from the top of the teahouse onto one of the riders clearing the smaller neighboring buildings. The rider rears his chinti to throw her, but she persistantlyhangs on and tries to bite him. Ghora runs from the inn, whipping out his pistol, spots the gorilla and shoots him. Unfortunately the shot does little damage. He then tries to pull the leader off his chinti and after some trying manages to throw him six feet away on the muddy road. The gorilla angrily gets up his sword in hand. Ghora tries to do flying kick to his head, but loses his footing in the mud and ends up sliding into the gorilla knocking him back to the ground. They end up in a flailing pile and Ghora bites him.

Once the guards recover from the sudden change of reality they start running to the battle from their posts throughout the town. The group on the bridge moves quickly the engage the brigands. Onye runs up to one slashes with his naginata followed by a spin that lands a tail lash across the janah’s midsection which he follows through ending in and snapping bite. His opponent is surprisingly still standing so he swings again with the naginata and then claws him.

In the meantime one of the lesser brigands dismounts, runs up and grabs Ghora off his leader, spinning him around and punching him repeatedly in face.

Psedera is in a similar bind as a dismounted brigand pulls her off his buddy, pins her to ground and wrenches her arm behind her back. She lithely rolls out of the pin and pulls her tanto still on the ground, slashing at her attacker, then raking him with her claws and throwing a palm strike at his nose. He adeptly dodges all of the blows. She tries to head butt and failing that grabs his shoulder and tries to rake his stomach with her back claws. Attempting to get some room to maneuver she stands and jumps back from her opponent, the mounted janah momentarily forgotten.

The gorilla jumps to his feet and lunges at Ghora, slashing him vigorously with his sword. Due to the close quarters his last blow hits his subordinate still holding Ghora who immediately lets go and staggers back.

Noticing Ghora’s distress, Onye tail smacks his opponent and runs to help him. He attacks the leader with his naginata, following up with a bite to the head, another devestating blow with his naginata and a violent tail slap that drops the gorilla to the ground badly wounded and nearly unconscious. He then lashes around to bite the brigand that had been wounded by his boss. The janah sees more guards coming and how easily Onye dispatched his and tries to run. Ghora chases the fleeing adversary down with a flying kick to head but the brigand dodges it at the last second receiving very little damage.

Psedera’s forgotten mounted adversary slashes at her several times, finally meteing out enough damage that falls to the ground, unable to rally herself enough to continue fighting.

In the swirling heat of battle another brigand tries to take out Onye with masterful sword work. Fortunately for Onye all of the attacks just bounced off of his armor doing no damage.

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Escorting Khoul

(edited and added to from the demo adventure in the intro to Shard booklet)

A week after the Feast of the Seas festival in Samudhra, a local well respected chameleon Sadhu named Khoul, Adhana’s foster father, and a small contingency of guards from the House of Kanjim, are making a pilgrimage of supplication to the Temple of Krilárah in the city of Tiari. They will be taking a crystal singing bowl as a gift and offering to the temple, blessed by the both Adhana and Khoul, and held in a small, beautiful box of aromatic wood inscribed by Adhana. Since Khoul desired Adhana accompany him, Durkel, the Aryah of House Kanjim, pleased by the honor this trip will give his house, is sending his most trusted retinue, as well as a small contingent of guards, to accompany Khoul as Honor Guards, warriors, and hunters, since this will be a journey of several days.

Once the procession leaves the Gates of Samudhra, they travel southwest, into the tattered edges of the maspéra forests of Jómahd. Above them the dappled light of the suns glitters through the yellow-green canopies, splashing across the smooth bluish bark of the very type of tree-trunks from which the box holding the crystal bowl is made. It is the rainy season and the recent heavy downpours have made the forest lush, cool, and peaceful, despite the noisy sounds of the armored escort’s passage.

In the branches above, multi-limbed, iridescent blue and auburn insect-like animals, called bandar, leap and caper merrily, fighting occasionally over pithfilled fruit pods, only to drop them into the thick ferns below as they scatter in terror at the approach the large group.

Khoul quickly becomes annoyed by the constant clamoring of the attachment of House Guards. He stops the procession turns back to them and demands that they fall back and out of sight behind himself and the players so that he may continue on his way in a more “serene and contemplative state” befitting holy pilgrims. They are concerned about his safety, but he points to the Crocodile and Clydesdale who are both over eight feet tall and says that these two should certainly be capable of his defense. Ghora politely steps in and as the ranking member of the House, orders the guards to fall back, but to come investigate if they hear anything suspicious. They follow his orders without question.

Once they have dropped back out of sight, Khoul grumbles about how the brutish louts were scaring away the beautiful wildlife. He checks behind them again and then turns to the characters. He admits to having a taste for the meat of the wild bandar, and encourages them to see if they can bring down one or two for the stewpot at the inn he intends to stay the night at along the way, saying that surely the devah Kramah will bless their shots, since they will be hunting for a good and holy cause.

The characters look around for any bandar that haven’t already been scared away. Onyekachi finds a nice fist sized rock and sizes up one of the suthra. Before he gets a chance to throw Psedra hits one with a shuriken, and failing to drop it pulls three more and throws, needing only two more to bring down the first bandar. Onye shrugs and chucks his rock at another dazing it a bit, giving him time to find another rock to finish it off with. Finally Ghora whips out his pistol and shoots at one, but the bandar had been spooked by the previous attacks and flee into the canopy.

Khoul scowls at him saying that firearms are louder and more disruptive than the whole group of guards, but other than that he is very pleased with the catch. The characters gather up the felled bandar and Psedera retrieves her shuriken. They continue on their way, calming the concerns of the one guard that comes up to check on the gunshot.

Once the guard is back with the rest of them the chameleon pulls out a pipe and a water skin of fine wine, eyeing the characters with amusement, saying that the rank and file have no need to see a preist indulging his vices. As they walk he settles into pleasant, if slightly boring, conversation about religious philosophy that Ghora listens to politely and Adhana eagerly joins in. The distant, jewel-like peaks of the amethyst Prasha Mountains slowly loom closer slightly to the east in the south as the suns make their way across the sky.

That night the party stays at a pleasant inn and roadside teahouse at the intersection of a secondary merchant road leading east to the land of Nilam. As promised, the two bandar are cooked up and served with delicate spices to the pilgrims and their entourage, and arrangements are made for the many rooms needed for them all. That night it rains heavily. The next morning, after the prayers of False Dawn at the rise of the tiny sapphire sun Edü, the party gets back on the road, traveling past an old crystal “guide-stone” obelisk at the muddy intersection that indicates the road southward to Tiari.

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