Jade Regent (Online)

Session 33
The Spark that would start a Revolution

When our last session left off, we were all thrilled to finally have cleared out the House of Withered Blossoms and to leave Munusukaru behind. With Jira resurrected and our new friends accompanying us, it was time to depart the Forest of Spirits and continue south toward our final destination. This account covers the next month and a half of our adventure.

September 13: We depart, wishing the Kami all the best. Our goal is to seek out Hirobashi Jiro and recruit his help.

The rest of September: The month proves fairly unexciting as we trek through rural areas without much action. Jira celebrates a subdued birthday party with a few rounds of drinks. The morale of the group rises considerably a couple of weeks later when enough time has passed that we can resurrect Rika. After a brief explanation of where we are and where we are going, we continue on toward Minkai.

October 13: We finally arrive in Minkai, coming to a lake. We spot some young fellows practicing archery with some targets under the leadership of a woman wearing an exotic hat and red robes. We notice that the would-be archers are not overly talented, and Skizzik even says so aloud. The woman notices us and asks us what we are doing here, as we clearly look foreign to this land. Skizzik and Hiroko both attempt to explain who we are and why we seek Hirobashi Jiro, but she isn’t having any of it. It takes Ameiko herself to convince the woman to introduce herself as Hotsu and tell us that she is Jiro’s second in command.

She leads us to a nearby hut, sitting down beside what appears to be a chessboard. We pass the time waiting for Jiro to arrive by listening to Hotsu’s excited explanation of the rules of the game. After a few moments, Jiro arrives and introduces himself. Jira starts to explain that our goal is to safely escort Ameiko to her rightful place on the Jade Throne, prompting dismissive laughter from Jiro and Hotsu. Ameiko explains that she is the last heir to the Amatatsu family, gaining Jiro’s attention.

Hotsu poses a riddle to us about a dilemma involving a samurai, a peasant, and a ruthless daimyo. Skizzik gives the riddle some thought and comes up with an answer that they find acceptable. They note that the riddle is a metaphor for the dire situation Minkai finds itself in right now. Jiro further explains that while he would like to help us, he is busy trying to handle the situation up here. Crops are hard to grow, and the region has been under attack by a group of barbarions that the local daimyo is doing nothing about. Specifically, the barbarians operate in two groups. One goes around on horses pillaging the countryside while the other maintains a headquarters of operation at a fortress a few days from here. Jiro requests that we tackle the fortress while he and his Ronin defeat the horsemen. Jiro also wants us to try and locate an armory that only a member of the royal families can open and retrieve his family sword for him. If we both accomplish our missions, he will be free to help us in our quest. We agree to these terms, and spend an evening preparing for the journey. Skizzik trims his new bonsai tree, Rika and Shalelu scout around the immediate area, and Jira trains with the new naginata in his possession. The next morning, we set off for the fortress.

October 17: After three days and 50 miles, we reach the fortress. We see that it’s built into the side of a large rock formation, and decide it would be best to scout it out before an assault. Titus and Hiroko remain back to guard Ameiko and the others while the five of us (as Porthos is finally back in the game!) go forth toward the gate. We find a western entrance with one guard, but also spot a seemingly-unguarded secret entrance on the east side. Being the most stealthy of us, Skizzik goes invisible and sneaks into the fortress through this entrance. He creeps around the corridors, spying a spellcaster woodworking in one room while also saying a dead guy impaled on a spike. Taking as much time as he feels he can to scout out the area, Skizzik eventually returns just in time before his invisibility wears off.

We decide to begin by going in through the secret entrance and confronting the woodworker. A tattooed servant girl opens the door, the druid woodworker sees us with widening eyes, and he turns stone-gray. Jira rushes into the room, bypassing the servant girl to attack the druid. From behind him, the servant girl transforms into what can only be described as a slutty were-tiger before flanking him and biting him. Thom, considering this the worst in manners, charges the were-tiger and impales it in one shot from his lance. The druid looses a fireball that gets the attention of anyone in the fortress that didn’t already gather that we were here. A mustached man enters the room from the staircase on the opposite side just in time to see Jira behead the druid. Thom charges the man with the facial hair, tripping him up. He gets back up, only for Skizzik to finish him off with a targeted explosive bomb.

We hear more enemies approaching and decide to cause them some problems. Rika creates an acid pit in the doorway. Some of the barbarians attempt to jump over the pit, but only a couple succeed. The others frantically try to crawl out of the pit as they burn to death. We take some of them out, more coming from both the west and the north. We make out the sound of an angry orc cursing with one group, but continue battling the foes in front of us. Another would-be challenger comes up the stairs, but Jira and Thom descend on the dapper gentleman and take him out.

Meanwhile, Rika’s chain lightning and Skizzik’s dragon breath both prove useful in thinning the ranks. Skizzik peers out the doorway and manages to spy Ferra Kirark, the orc barbarian that appears to have taken over this clan. He singes her with a bomb that makes her retreat. The other enemies continue to die, the Subchief even killing himself due to confusion. The pit does an effective job of keeping the enemies out, but also makes it hard for us to take the fight to Ferra. In the end, both Skizzik and Rika fly over the pit to begin dueling the orc. Thom and Jira wait for the pit to disappear before charging out to join their friends. Ferra lands a few hard hits with her bardiche, not going down easily. In the end, however, Thom stabs her to death.

With all of our enemies seemingly vanquished, we take some well-earned loot before heading for the main gate and beckoning our allies to join us. All of us proceed to explore the rest of the fortress. We find a stable with 18 war-trained horses, as well as a room full of frightened servant girls. Jira doesn’t do a good job at all of reassuring them, earning him an elbow from Ameiko. She quickly tells them that we aren’t there to hurt them and that they can stay in whichever room they want from here on out.

Sandru stays behind to comfort them and regale them with tales of our gallantry while we venture on to see a few more rooms. Finally, we come to a room with a defaced statue of a kind Tian Xia Goddess. When Ameiko touches one of the inscriptions near the statue, we’re hit with a blinding light and a panel opens in the floor. Looking down, we see we’ve found the armory. Along with it, we spy a kitana with the name Hirobashi inscribed on it. We retrieve the blade, Jira holding on to it to give to Jiro. We conclude our exploration by checking out the dormitories upstairs.

By now, it’s getting dark outside, and we decide to lock down the fortress as best we can for the night. Skizzik locks up the secret passageway while Thom, Jira, and Titus go out to close the main gate. Without warning, the trio is suddenly attacked by two giant wooden tree statues that come to life and decide to bludgeon us with splintery attacks. Skizzik and Rika hear the commotion and rush to assist us, but arrive just after we’ve finished killing them. We maintain watches that night, rising with the sun. Hiroko, Spivey, Shalelu, and Jira ride off to go find Jiro and the Ronin while the others start cleaning the fortress and preparing it for new ownership. It takes the four on horses three days to reach the group, and both sides report success. Jira hands Jiro back his kitana, the latter happily taking some practice swings and agreeing to take the camp to the fortress.

October 23 – By the time the others return to the fortress, it is much cleaner, better organized, and habitable than it has been for some time. The samurai all pledge their service to Ameiko, and Jiro decides to give Jira (and the party at large) a Minkai Redwood Longbow with a gold string. Given its royal status, we know it will come in handy.

We celebrate that evening with the greatest feast we’ve enjoyed since Hongol. And with no servants dying this time around, we like it even better than those.

October 24 – Miyaro tells us that the time has come for her to return to the Forest of Spirits. We thank her, graciously sending her off with the hopes of seeing her again sometime. Jiro and Hotsu also ask to meet with us in private to discuss the next step in our quest. They reiterate that the nation is in grave danger, that Kasai is under the control of the Jade Regent, and that the Emperor has been in seclusion for years. However, we do have some hope of starting something in the north, where the Jade Regent’s control isn’t as strong. Hotsu recommends we gain support from three distinct groups: (1) The Ninja clans, (2) The Geisha, and (3) The Daimyo. None of this will prove easy, but they are necessary steps to beginning a true revolution. After some thought, we agree that our best starting point will be to journey to Sakakabe to speak with the Geisha at a renowned tea-house. In all cases, we know we need to be subtle and not reveal the Seal if possible.

Before our session closes, we share a conversation with Ameiko in which she thanks us for our loyalty and bravery to this point. She assures us that places of leadership await us if we achieve our mission of crowning her as Empress, and that she truly appreciates having us with her. We know we should treasure this moment of success right now, as who knows what pitfalls await us on our next session of Jade Regent?

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Session 32
One is Silver and the Other Gold

8 Sept A mysterious woman finds herself being led by a Kami in the Forest of Spirits. Tian in appearance, her dark hair drapes like a sheet behind her as her blue eyes keenly scan the still forest around her. Dressed in an ornate breastplate partially covered by a brown hooded travelling cloak, her ranger’s garb suggests her profession and her two kukri, sheathed along each thigh, look like they’d be well used by her toned arms.

Her Kami escort leads her to the edge of a familiar-looking encampment where the last scent of a funeral pyre slowly drifts away in the light breeze. Understanding that it has been a difficult day, she sits on the earthen floor, cross-legged, and waits patiently about 15 feet outside of camp.

The trio of Titus, Thom and Skizzik approach the newcomer they sense nearby and, as they approach, she stands up to greet them. Her name is Hiroko Zheng. She knows firsthand the trouble that has befallen Min Kai and is looking for a group of adventurers she believes has the necessary skills to free the nation from the tyranny of the Jade Regent and The Five Storms.

As everyone gets better acquainted, it becomes clear that their goals are similarly aligned. They join together; Hiroko looking to test the mettle of these new adventurers and the others glad to have extra help clearing out Munasukarus – a place that has proved frustratingly difficult and deadly thus far.

9 Sept Thom, Skizzik and Spivey, joined by newcomers Titus and Hiroko, lead the way back into the depths of Munasukaru the next morning. Traipsing past the horrors they’ve left behind; mangled bodies and wanton destruction, the group make it to a partially flooded cavern they have yet to explore. The four-foot high water and yellow serpent-like beings do not prove a warm welcome.

The legless beasts glide easily over the water and attempt to incapacitate the four with some bad jokes. Their fangs bounce off armor but their mirror images prove deceptive to our heroes. Despite the bad puns, they manage to convince the group, one by one, that they are really, in fact, their best friends and why would they ever battle their best pal? Skizzik tangle foot bags both Titus and Thom as they try to take down the creature who bewitched him into thinking they were BFFs.

Luckily, Spivey frees Titus from his entanglement and he is then able to land massive blows to bring one of the snake creatures down. By this point however, Skizzik, Thom and Hiroko all believe the final beast to be their best friend and, for a moment, hope of defeating it seems lost. Once again though, Spivey comes to the rescue by temporarily blinding the creature which frees all of her friends from its’ spell. Skizzik, angered by her treachery, then unleashes a flurry of bombs that blow her to bits.

After apologizing to one another for the silliness caused by the enchantments, the four teammates (plus Spivey) carry on further into the cavern. Promptly, they find themselves in a room draped with chains: an dreary place. As they enter further, they find an ogre mage and two-blue humanoids awaiting their arrival.

Skizzik and Ochiyo, the ogre mage, exchange words. Ochiyo politely warns the group to leave and forget all that they had come to do but Skizzik is resolute, assuring him that will not happen. Battle quickly ensues.

Skizzik determines that the blue humanoids are called Chitins and are evil outsiders capable of controlling chains. Before one of them has a chance to act, Titus strikes it down where it stands. Angered, the ogre mage attempts to blast the room with a cone of coldness to little effect before going invisible. Despite his disappearance, Skizzik is able to see the enemy and pounds him with madness-inducing bombs.

Meanwhile, Titus takes down the other Chitin while a combination of Hiroko’s arrows and Thom’s hammer kill the ogre mage.

Determined to see the dungeon through to the end, the five press on into the next room which houses circular hanging cages containing tortured humans. Leprosy-infected hobgoblins lurk in the corners and another attack commences.

One leper immediately gets within range of Hiroko’s kukri and she quickly dices him nearly to death. Skizzik polishes him off with a bomb as Hiroko turns her attention to a second assailant and chops him up with mad slicing skills. A whirling dervish of bombs, Skizzik takes out the third enemy as brave Titus risks leprosy by punching the final one in the face. Feeling unaffected, he steps back and whips around his glaive to put the sucker out of his misery.

Titus and Hiroko then free the prisoners who agree to wait where they are until the group can return to escort them out. The adventurers then make their way into a nearby hallway and head to the south where they come upon a library. Thom makes a persuasive argument for the group to spend some time searching for valuable information that will help them defeat The Five Storms and so they dig around and through musty books for a good while. The search does not prove to be in vain and the group gleans some useful information about their enemies and scores some valuable loot in the process, including some items useful in bringing Jira back from his stone death.

After ransacking the library, a quick journey to the north leads to a door where goblin voices resound from the other side. Unafraid, Thom kicks down the door to face the next challenge. Goblin monks reside inside the room and they deftly begin knocking the team’s weapons to the ground. Perhaps startled by this, Skizzik slips while throwing a bomb and harms both Thom and a goblin in its’ splash. From behind Thom, Titus uses his glaive to slay his foes as Hiroko’s whirring kukri add to the mayhem and, in no time, the enemies lay dead on the floor.

From ahead, an ominous foreboding emanates, quickly sending Skizzik and Titus into states of invisibility. As Thom kicks down this next door, the party spies horribly mutilated bodies pinned to the walls of a room where a wrinkly old lady stands in the middle eating bits of an Areana.

When Spivey says hello, the lady turns and drops the illusion, revealing herself to be a red, horned Jian-Oi Oni. Her crossbow bolts shriek like a terrible scream as they begin to fly. However, the team quickly manages to land hits on the wench and deal some substantial damage right off the bat.

In retaliation, she delivers a massive blow to Thom with her Naginata and he has to uncharacteristically retreat, lest he fall. Strikes are then traded back and forth until Hiroko kills the Oni with a kukri double-slice.

As the body crumples, the heroes are confident that they have finally mastered Munasukarus! Satisfied that it is once and for all over, they collect their new found items from the library and the prisoners and begin the long trek up and out of the dungeon.

Emerging from the depths, a powerful Kami approaches the group and they tell him of their victory and reveal that no Oni remains in the House of Withered Blossoms anymore; their people are now free to enter the structure once more.

Back at camp, Koya is given the items found in the library and she begins working with them to bring Jira back to the land of the living. Two days later, Koya gets a handle on the spells and turns Jira back into his old self and brings him back from beyond yet again. New friends and old meet for the first time.

That night, the entire party holds a War Council. A local, Hiroko reveals the oppression of the people in Min Kai and mentions that there is a disgraced samurai, Hirabashi Jiro, whom has gathered a band of ronin in northern Min Kai. These soldiers could prove great allies for the team and the general consensus is to seek them out. A day of rest and the caravan will once again be underway to continue on their effort to bring down the Jade Regent and The Five Storms.

Next time on Jade Regent: Get the F out of Dodge (and by dodge I mean the Forest of Spirits)…will enough time have passed to resurrect Rika with the Seal? Will a Polar Pudding destroy half the party once more? Will the group find Hirabashi Jiro and will Titus ever return one of Hiroko’s winks? Stay tuned to find out…

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Session 31
New Companions and More Death

Our session begins on the small series of rocky islands below the waterfall that three members of our team were kicked down at the end of last session. Thom is holding on to Zych’s water-logged corpse while Rika gracefully flies down to meet them. She continues flying down toward a shoreline where she sees two more of the female monks waiting to attack. It takes virtually no time at all for our intrepid heroes to be under attack once more, with the monks jumping from rock to rock in hopes of burying daggers in our chests. Rika’s aurora borealis proves incredibly helpful in fascinating the monks and keeping them off our backs. In the end, another big fish eats one monk while Rika finishes the other off with acid arrows.

Thom carries Zych’s body as the group finishes crossing to the shore. By this point, however, the group is exhausted in almost every way. They press onward at first in hopes of finding a safe place to rest, but Thom grows increasingly worried and recommends that we turn back for the day. The others agree and make their way back up the waterfall and stay the night in the barracks.

On the morning of September 8, they cover Zych’s body with a simple mat and return to the shore to press forward in continuation of this seemingly-endless dungeon. Before long, they come across a 15-foot-long gorgon that is being ridden by an angry ogre mage that decides the group will go no further. Rika envelops both beast and rider in a cloud kill, Skizzik heading into the poisonous area to bring the fight to the gorgon. He uses a confusion bomb on the gorgon that proves effective and forces the ogre mage to dismount and charge forward for a duel with Thom. Helped greatly by Rika’s Ennervation, Thom manages to overcome the foul fiend and bash his skull in. While Skizzik fought valiantly against the gorgon, Thom was the one to strike the finishing blow with the others cheering him on.

The cloud kill continued down the hall at the end of the fight, distracting some hobgoblins at the end of the hall. In the room with them, a poor aasimar prisoner named Titus stealthily healed himself as best he could. Back with the main group, however, they check a door partway down the hall. Within is merely a disgusting bedroom crawling with bugs and vermin. They hear voices crying out at the sight of the cloud and decide to press on. This leads them over a short bridge and then atop a ledge overlooking a large room.

Below stand three hobgoblins, a hill giant, and the shiny prisoner who is suspended ten feet in the air by a hook sticking through his chest. Rika initiates the next battle with chain lightning, the enemies heading over to stop the new intruders. This allows Titus to painfully pull himself off the hook and join the fight. The enemies prove to be no match for the combined forces, as Rika brings down the giant with an acid pit. Titus kills one of his former captors while Thom hammers one to death.

When all the enemies are defeated, Titus introduces himself to the group while putting on the armor that had been taken from him. He explains that he is a paladin devoted to Shelyn that grew up in Hongol and came south to help out when he heard rumors of great evil rising in Minkai. He was captured by a horde of hobgoblins some three weeks previously and tormented nearly to death since. He is also able to reveal that the Five Storms likely escaped the House of Withered Blossoms by use of a dark ritual known as a kimoni.

Deciding that their goals aligned, Titus decided to join with the others in fighting through the dungeon. The group returned to the top of the ledge, Titus breaking down a door to reveal Akumi the kami’s missing bonsai tree. Skizzik carefully places it in his haversack and we continue onward. Immediately after crossing a ten foot bridge, we’re under attack again by another giant and three more hobgoblins. These prove to be only a slight challenge. Rika has a moment of melee glory as she pulls her hand free while the giant was grappling her to the ground. She uses her dagger to stab the giant to death. After a bit more of the short skirmish, Titus finishes off the last hobgoblin by punching his nose in.

With the fight concluded, we are able to take in the fact that we are in a huge room full of columns leading off into the darkness. Skizzik thinks like a scout, using arcane eye to see the route ahead of us. He warns us of some nasty-looking eyeless creatures, followed by a room in which two oni are torturing people in cages. Perhaps slightly overconfident following our demolition of the giants and the hobgoblins, we stride on to meet the eyeless beasts head-on. The beasts attack with sonic screams that take us by surprise. Of course, this was nothing to the next surprise. After only managing to take out one of these beasts, another’s sonic scream brings the ceiling down on Skizzik. The poor gnome is buried under tons of rock, though Rika is quick to start digging him out. Titus and Thom hang on as long as they can against the bites of the critters. Titus kills one before he is knocked unconscious. On his last reserves, Thom yells for Rika to help finish them. She turns away from the rubble to finish off the last beast so that Thom can come help her finish digging Skizzik out. Both he and Titus are unconscious, but the others are able to heal them enough to bring them around.

We continue healing, thanking our lucky stars that Rika has been able to finish off our enemies so often lately when we were all on the verge of death. We press on down the stairs, coming upon the two hobgoblin oni tormenting the caged people. They decide that talk is cheap and that we must perish. Titus and Thom rush over to attack one, managing to overwhelm it with some strong attacks. Perhaps spurred on by his comrade’s death, the other oni unleashes one of the strongest attacks we’ve ever seen, neatly bisecting Rika with his giant sword!

Our heartless, yet heroic friend dead again, Skizzik is enraged and unleashes three bombs on the oni that almost bring it down. Titus rushes over to finish him with his glaive, and Thom mutilates the dead body repeatedly with his hammer until Titus finally pulls him off. We free the prisoners from the cages, finding that the continual torture has driven them insane. Quite childlike, they will now follow us back out of the dungeon again. The group has to carry the broken bodies of both Rika and Zych all the way back to camp, and we are understandably devastated by the time we arrive.

Upon emerging from the dungeon and stepping back into the natural light, the prisoners break down into tears of joy. One woman even envelops Skizzik in a big hug. Their happiness is of only minor consolation to us as we have to explain to Ameiko and Sandru about our dead friends. Ameiko introduces herself curtly to Titus, questioning him about his background before revealing the truth about our quest to Minkai and how the Amatatsu Seal figures into everything. Titus vows to join the group and aid them in their quest to return Minkai to its rightful ruler, but there is sad business to attend to beforehand.

The group prepares a funeral pyre for Zych, and Koya oversees the funeral with a nice service before setting the fallen elven archer ablaze. After the ceremony, Skizzik seeks out Akumi to return his bonsai tree. Akumi is delighted, and decides he trusts Skizzik enough that he wants him to carry the tree with him. The old kami agrees to accompany us and teach Skizzik the art of the bonsai. Upon mentioning that the bonsai tree will aid us further in healing while we sleep, Skizzik recognizes the value of bringing the tree and the kami along.

Before calling it a night, our group faces the difficult decision of what to do next. Rika’s body is being preserved, but she and Jira cannot be resurrected in any short time. Titus and Akumi joining the crew will offer some help, but the mission still seems poised at the edge of the pit of failure. We decide we need to press on and finish this terrible dungeon that has claimed so many lives already, but with heavy hearts and worried minds. It is in this dark and unsettling time that we draw to a close, wondering what will befall our intrepid heroes next time…

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Session 30
Eat it Kevin!

We find ourselves standing at the edge of a pit with filled smoke. Metal bars criss-cross across the expanse. Rika recalls a vision of such a place as three ninjas jump out onto the bars. It’s on!

The ninjas balance deftly on the beams and smack projectiles out of the air. Despite quick hands, Zych and Skizzik land bombs and arrows. We manage to cut them all down as Rika lands a final boneshatter that drops the last ninja, broken, off the bars and into the pit.

As we turn our attention to the pit, the acrid smoke and sounds from below suggest something is moving down there.

When Skizzik tries to walk across the beam, he slips and feather falls down into the abyss. Quickly chugging a fly extract, he makes it up and out before he discovers what’s down there. Skizzik and Rika roll out some mats they find to create a bridge for Thom and Zych and they easily cross the ominous hole.

Before heading up the nearby stairs, Skizzik decides to fly across the pit to a side room where he interrupts some Oni having a three-way. Enraged at being interrupted, the Oni males charges at Skizzik and tells him to “fall,” which causes Skizzik to plummet back into the pit. As he tries to recover and fly back up, some unseen beast from below turns him into stone and he crashes right back down! The beasts, a pair of metallic gorgons, begin eating a stone Skizzik who manages to quickly shake off his temporary petrifaction. The whores still up top attack the rest of us and Thom quickly cuts down a prostitute. He then turns and hammers Ichirou (the Oni male).

Meanwhile, Skizzik turns back to stone and starts getting nommed on again.

Ichirou cuts back at Thom with his sword, to which Thom replies with another hammer blow. Ichirou and Thom trade blows until Thom prevails and Rika finishes him with acid.

In the pit, Skizzik, once again fleshy, manages to confuse one of the gorgons as, topside, Thom drops the last prostitute. Despite being able to escape the beasts, Skizzik continues to mess with the gorgons because they pissed him off so much. An impatient Rika drops a cloudkill in the pit to aid Skizzik in killing the beasts.

Stuff died, xp, level up!

Have some visions:
- A farmer trying to kill Rika with nunchucks
- The four of us are talking to a crazy turtle being with a pool of water in its’ head.
- The four of us and Ameiko facing down a royal looking ghost
- A nasty female Oni fighting us with a hooked polearm

Back to reality, Rika flies to the side rooms and rummages for items. Satisfied at the lack of anything useful, we head up the stairs that reside across the pit. Thom smashes down the door at the top and we find a hobgoblin barracks. The smashing makes a bit of noise.

A scout comes into the room and shouts out our presence. We all maneuver into position and the hobgoblins crowd around us all; however, this lets Rika chain lightning their close-knit asses. The leader, an ogre mage, is pissed and cone of colds everyone in the room (including his hobgoblin mooks). Thom then gets beat around as the rest of us drop hobgoblins. In the end, Skizzik and Rika polish off the ogre mage with bombs and a boneshatter.

We then continue through the barracks and find a walkway that leads around a waterfall. As we’re walking, we all get a “we’re about to die” feeling. Suddenly, three more ninja hobgoblins levitate onto the path.

One ninja has fun continually tripping Rika while another knocks Thom’s war hammer out of his hands. Another then tries to kick Thom off the cliff but thankfully fails. They also repeatedly disarm Zych until all his weapons are on the ground but he manages to swoop down and pick one up and cuts a ninja bitch.

After a few attempts, one manages to actually kick Thom off the path and down the waterfall. He plummets into the churning water below and takes quite a blow after falling 200 feet. The rest of us hear a horrendous scream from down below but aren’t able to determine the source. Could it be Thom?

Like we’re nothing more than dominoes, another ninja kicks Skizzik off the ledge and he feather falls down into the water below where a giant fish immediately grabs him and pulls him under. Skizzik sets off a bomb in the fish’s mouth while halfway inside of it; however, it continues dragging him deeper.

Up top, Zych manages to kill one of the monks and her body plummets into the water just as Rika magic missiles another monk to death.

Dead ninja monks splashing into the water above, Skizzik is finally swallowed by the giant Gar. Having none of this, Skizzik literally blasts his way out of the Gar’s body and then promptly starts to drown (win? win?). Thom, having managed to swim to the nearby shore, jumps on to what’s left of the Gar and puts it out of its’ misery. Continuing to be a baddass, Thom then dives into the murky depths and manages to grab a hold of a drowning Skizzik.

Topside, the final hobgoblin monk finally manages to kick Zych off the ledge and down into the water with Thom and Skizzik. Despite Thom and Skizzik being able to withstand the brunt of their falls, Zych is not so lucky, and his body is broken upon hitting the water!

Meanwhile, Thom manages to pull a failing Skizzik to the water’s surface and gets him to safety before swimming out to retrieve Zych’s lifeless body. Angered at seeing her friends punted over the edge, Rika boneshatters the last ninja to death. She then collects Zych’s fallen weapons and then flies down to the group where she hears the tragic news. Zych, not an Amatatsu Scion like Jira is, will not be able to be revived with the Seal…Zych is gone…permanently (poor Kevin).

The day comes to a close here as our heroes gather around their fallen comrade, paying their last respects.

Will we find another doomed 4th PC to be our punching bag? Will enough time ever pass to resurrect Jira? Will we have Gar soup for dinner? Stay tuned and find out next time on Jade Regent: Jim, Stop Killing Kevin’s Characters!

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Session 29
More from Hobgoblin Hell

We return to our heroes in the Forest as they attempt to uncover knowledge within the House of the Withered Blossoms. It probably should’ve served as a warning to Jira that he was in for a bad day when he started off the morning by deciding to dine on a dead bird carcass rather than enjoy the delicious breakfast Skizzik fried up at camp. While the others shook their heads in dismay and the voices in his head continued to offer him contradictory opinions, Jira reflected as he became sickened that the most enjoyable part of this irresistible entree was the part saturated with dirt.

While the others in the group dined and convinced Koya to channel positive energy, they noticed that Jira’s skin was far grayer than usual and attributed it to the curse of the clay gollum. Regardless, everyone was in favor of resuming the trek through the underground lair of the hobgoblins that was Munusukaru. Going down into the hole again and winding through the area until we reached the area beyond the waterfall again, we found that the drawbridge leading into the Pagoda was again raised. We also were spotted by a fresh batch of hobgoblin archers that immediately laid into us. At first, we were somewhat taken aback by the arrows flying at us. However, Skizzik finally threw up a smokescreen that smelled pleasantly like cotton candy. In the meantime, Rika dominated the mind of one of the four hobgoblin archers and caused him to turn on his allies before raining down a cloud kill on all of them.

All that remained was to sit back and watch the pitiful creatures fight each other while the toxic cloud killed them. When the carnage was complete, Skizzik took to the air and set up homemade plastic explosives on the outside hinges of the drawbridge while the others lined up to prepare for its fall. In spite of this seeming preparation, we were taken aback when the drawbridge slammed down and six angry hobgoblins on the other side swarmed us. It seemed that we were gaining the upper hand as most of the hobgoblins fell dead. Indeed, one of the couple remaining was suffocating to death (courtesy of invisible Rika) when he managed to land a blow that did in the weakened Jira. The half-orc was dead yet again, but the unique thing about this time was that his body turned to stone.

The others hurriedly avenged him, Thom approaching to finish off the last hobgoblin when he fell over dead anyway. While Jira returned to his place in the long line that awaited after death, the others found themselves in a serious predicament. Jira’s stone corpse now weighed over 400 pounds. Skizzik suggested cracking him into multiple pieces to make him easier to carry, but the group recalled that the resurrection ability of the Amatatsu Seal (which could not be used for another 12 days yet) would not recover his gear if the chunk of his body that they resurrected wasn’t connected to it. Thom looted the bodies of the dead hobgoblins while Rika and Skizzik put their heads together to consider their options. Rather than continuing on into whatever lurked beyond, the group decided to work together to cart Jira’s sorry rear back through Munusukaru again.

The group probably could’ve drawn perfect maps of this section of the dungeon from memory by the time they returned at nightfall to camp. Sandru was understandably quite concerned, and Koya and Spivey had no miraculous ideas on how to improve the current dilemma. After a long trek full of rigging pulley systems to make it back, everyone collapsed quickly to sleep that night.

The next morning, the group convinced Zych to accompany them in Jira’s stead. After sitting around in camp during all the previous exploration, the elven archer was eager to prove himself in battle. It didn’t take long for an opportunity to present itself as they crossed back into the Pagoda, past the hideous birthing statue and up another level past the dead clay gollum. The group threw open the door that led beyond to areas so far unexplored. We cautiously ascended the stairs, only to be ambushed by three nastier-than-usual hobgoblins that appear to be suffering from a leprosy-like condition. Not incapacitated in horror at their diseased appearances, our group disposed of them without any more of us dying.

Further on into the room, we approached a deep pit with six thick iron bars crossing it. A foul-smelling green smog was rising and making it impossible to see across the pit. Skizzik thought he almost recognized the scent, but Rika had a far more terrifying recollection. She saw this place in her latest vision, and foresaw that we will have to duel evil nunchuck-wielding women atop the iron bars.

As to whether this coming battle will prove to be our undoing, it’s about as much of a mystery as the fate of Jira, who could be creeping ever closer to the point of no return beyond death’s doors as we journey onward. Perhaps both these mysteries (and likely more) will be solved in our next session…

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Session 28
Back to the Pain

Meanwhile, in Munasukarus…a ghost pops out of a Swine Shogun. Despite efforts to communicate with the spirit, it quickly becomes clear that its’ only interest is to devour us. We launch into stellar attack mode only to have the spirit just possess Jira. Suddenly noticing how tasty everything around him looks, Jira does his best to keep this spirit at bay.

Wanting to evict this new resident, we traipse out of Munasukarus back up the shaft to the House of Withered Blossoms. We are immediately “greeted” by more spider-like Aranea, including their leader and some shadows. The leader believe we’re spies for the hobgoblins below despite our protests and pain ensues!

Rika immediately tries to shatter the leader’s exoskeleton and receives magic missiles to the face for her trouble. Skizzik vomits a swarm of wasps onto the leader. Despite these early strikes, the shadows being dealing strength damage to our party and things take a turn south very quickly. Rika decides to jump back down the hole as Skizzik throws some bombs at the shadows which also destroy the rope leading down the hole. Skizzik’s stubborness leaves him open to so much strength damage that he’s rendered unconscious. Jira and Thom then get entangled by our foes webbing and, hearing her teammates’ plight, Rika flies up to help, only to become completely entangled herself.

As things become dire, the Aranea leader halts the battle and offers us a deal. He agrees to let us live if we kill all the hobgoblins down below. As ransom, he wants to hold our NPCs hostage. Jira is permitted to go out to the party where he manages to convince them to go along with the plan. They’re handed over to the Aranea leader and the rest of us are cut free from the webs and are left to the task of hobgoblin murder.

After resting for the night and healing up, we descend once more into the pit. We wander back to the cavern where we had faced the Swine Shogun and proceed onward to Porky’s chambers. We ascend the stairs within and find some shiny loot and a stone bridge that’s sure to lead across to more fun.

A waterfall roars in the chamber beyond, and across the underground river stands a pagoda balcony occupied by some hobgoblin archers. Rika flings an acid arrow their way and they return in kind with some arrows of their own. We soon begin to hear some rumbling and wonder if the drawbridge leading into the pagoda is about to drop. An exchange of arrows helps to spice things up, followed by two water elementals popping up out of the surging river in front of us. The drawbridge finally falls and hobgoblins pour out. One of them charges up to Rika and renders her unconscious and nearly dead with a devastating power attack. With no immediate assistance, Rika promptly bleeds out! She has died for the second time this adventure!

An intermission filled with standing around in a long line of souls follows and all is darkness until Rika finds herself being resurrected with the Amatatsu Seal.

A smattering of hobgoblin bodies litters the cavern floor as Rika stands back up from the dead. Apparently Jira, Thom and Skizzik managed to kill everybody in Rika’s absence. The rest of the gang heals up and we all head across the drawbridge and into the pagoda. We begin to investigate the rooms off the entryway and soon come to a gross statue of a hobgoblin with four demonic heads giving birth to horrible things. Clearly this is a statue of a hobgoblin Oni devil and we gather some information about the Five Storms from the writing upon it.

We then head up the stairs to find a large room with a wide balcony overlooking the waterfall. The bodies of the four hobgoblin archers rest here. We loot the bodies and Skzzik opens the next door to find a statue waiting to strike.

As Jira moves up to strike the fiend, his katana passes into its’ body as if it’s made of clay. Rika then determines that this is a clay golem which is immune to basically everything with spell resistance. Skizzik and Thom use bombs and weapons to dig chunks out of its body and Rika trips it up with some grease. However, even from the ground, the golem hits Jira hard enough to kill him! Skizzik then finishes the golem off and goes to check on Jira. Upon closer inspection, he notices that Jira isn’t quite dead yet. He manages to barely stabilize our friend as we realize that he has sustained some sort of curse which prevents him from being healed by any means other than powerful magical healing. So yet again, we trudge back (Thom dragging Jira) to the spiders in hopes of getting help. Believing it unlikely that they’ll agree to help us, we decide to rest in order to gain our strength back.

The next morning, we devise a most ridiculous plan. Skizzik uses an arcane eye to spy on the spiders and finds that the majority of them are partying themselves into oblivion on the ninth floor and sees our NPCs trapped on the top floor, guarded only by the remaining shadow. Skizzik and Rika then fly up to the roof of the House of Withered Blossoms while Thom spider climbs his way up (stashing Jira’s body at a campsite away from the tower). Skizzik sneaks in the top floor through a hole in the roof and starts to cut Koya’s webbing away with his dagger. Koya’s surprise at Skizzik’s sudden presence and the unusual events occurring in the corner rouse the shadow’s attention. Seeing this, Rika fades to invisible and drops into the room.

When cut free, Koya immediately teleports herself and Sandru on top of the roof where Thom cuts Sandru free of his webbing. Rika uses her dagger to cut Spivey free as the shadow flies downstairs to presumably raise the alarm. Back on the roof, Koya grants fly to Sandru and then turns and starts walking down the tower using her magical badassery.

Meanwhile, Spivey cuts Ameiko free and then flies out of the hole in the roof. At that moment, the Aranea leader bursts into the room and sees a free Ameiko standing in the middle of the floor. He immediately turns her into a rat! Rika quickly scoops Ameiko the Rat up and flies her out of the ceiling and deposits her into Thom’s arms. The shadow then appears on the roof to attack.

Seeing that there are still party members trapped below, Spivey flies back down through the hole in the roof and frees Porthos who immediately nibbles Zych free. Skizzik then grants Porthos spider climb and everyone pauses for a second to watch the awkward sight of a massive husky strolling up the wall and out of the building. The Aranea leader has had enough of our shenanigans and shoots some lighting at those remaining the room: Shalelu, Spivey and Zych (because he still hasn’t detected Skizzik and his sneakiness).

On the rooftop, Rika kills the shadow as Thom, holding Ameiko the Rat, mounts Porthos and rides him down the tower in a sight sure to be immortalized in many a finger-painting.

In the tower, Skizzik gives Shalelu the ability to spider climb as Zych shrugs off another polymorph attack from the Aranea leader. Rika then turns her attention back into the room and begins to crack the leader’s exoskeleton as he desperately tries to continue to attack Zych’s saves. The crushing and a few bombs from Skizzik finally polish off the Aranea leader and allow everyone to escape the House of Withered Blossoms!

As we reconvene at camp, Koya prepares spells to help restore Ameiko and manages to turn her back into a human. She then turns her attention to Jira and is able to heal him back to consciousness. We recount our escapades to Jira and then close for the night.

Next time on Jade Regent: Freaking Hobgoblins…will our party of intrepid adventurers venture back into Munasukarus? Will Ameiko have a permanent craving for cheese after her stint as a rat? Will Jira give in to his inner demon and eat us all? Find out in the new year!

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Session 27
How the Other Half Lives

For this particular segment of our account, we pause from the adventures of Rika, Jira, Skizzik, and Thom. Instead, we turn our focus down the town of Oda on the southern coast of Minkai. For in this bread basket of Minkai surrounded by rice paddies, a far darker side to the adventure is unfolding.

Beneath the surface of this migrant worker-heavy city, a criminal organization plans to bring four mythic villains together. One such villain, Cheng Li the Hobgoblin monk, was sent by other bosses to murder a man ducking taxes. After he finishes the assassination, a guard invites him to a warehouse for a job. The second villain is Wraxis Slyverall, the human antipaladin now serving the Outer Gods. He is studying in the local library when a guy named Tacuma hesitantly invites him to the warehouse. Wraxis throws him face-first out the door, but still decides to learn more about the job. The third villain is an orc barbarian named Ferra Kirark who is preparing herself for her murderous return to her old village by killing lesser fighters in underground tavern fights. A well-dressed man with a kitana buys a drink for “the Hammer” and offers her better enemies to fight. Finally, a fireborn bard named Whowho finishes win an epic rap battle. A cleric of Yamatatsu offers her money that she sorely needs if she comes to the warehouse.

With all four of these villains gathered in the warehouse, a delegation enters after dark. They announce a problematic group north of town that they need executed for the Jade Regent. To prove our worth and mettle, however, we have to start by each killing a prisoner they have brought. All four villains inject their own personalities into the killing, but each is horrific in its own way. Convinced now that we are right for the job, Kioshi gives each of us 10,000 gold pieces and a personalized gift before telling us that we have a week to take Subaro with us and kill the insurgents. If we all return, we will receive 40,000 gold. If Subaro doesn’t return, we receive only half the gold. If we don’t return at all, the Raven Prince (the personal assassin of the Jade Regent) will be sent to kill us.

After a night of rest, the five of us gather at the stables where Wraxis reunites with his bison-like Rhino, Mustapha. We head up the road out of town, walking north. Within mere minutes of walking with Whowho, the other three are quietly contemplating killing her, but restrain themselves for the sake of the mission. We come across six well-armed paladins serving under the banner of Iomedae, a deity not thought to be worshipped on this side of the world. Both sides refuse to stand aside and let the other pass, resulting in a battle. After a brief but bloody skirmish, Iomedae is down six paladins while we’re just a little beat up. Subaro helps us heal with his channeling, and we loot the bodies. Wraxis decapitates the bodies before we move on.

Before long, we can see the shiny white tower on the horizon that we are headed for. Upon closer inspection, we see three large doorguards and a human-sized angel standing in our way. Throwing caution to the wind, we charge them and have an even easier time with them than we did with the paladins. When they are defeated, Ferra kicks the stone door open to reveal an empty first floor of a barracks. We loot the tiny bedrooms before continuing up to the second floor. Ferra and Li open up one of the two closed doors on this floor to find two wounded paladins. The two each kill one of them before joining Wraxis in his struggle against a locked door. He and Ferra manage to break it down, resulting in lightning shooting out of the door. On the other side of the door, we all find confiscated items that we can use.

We head to the third floor to find a bigger floor than those below it. It is a chapel of Iomedae, and a snake with five humannoid necks awaits our arrival. It doesn’t take long for Li to threaten the naga and cause it to retaliate with a fire attack. Wraxis is also barraged with ice as the others charge the naga. This fight turns out to be a true test, especially with two invisible guardian nagas on either side of the visible one complicating matters. Whowho grants extra attacks for an enraged Ferra, who weakens the royal naga far enough for Li to punch it to death. Just before it dies, however, the naga promises that justice is coming for us. We finish off the guardians, meaning our mission has been a success. We celebrate by defiling and desecrating the chapel merrily.

We rest for an hour to replenish our strength before heading back to town. Kioshi rewards us with the promised gold, and we sell off much of our loot in town before calling it a day. Ominously, all of us have the same dream that night. It involves the four of us and Subaro in one place, face-to-face with a 9 foot golden and winged angel armed to the teeth. It introduces itself as the Hand of the Inheritor (Li recognizes this as the herald of Iomedae). It confirms that we have killed Iomedae’s paladins and warns us that we have three days to set our affairs in order before it comes to kill us.

Loathe as we are to cooperate further with each other, this warning sets us back into an uneasy alliance. We use our newfound gold to boost our weapons with evil enchantments and take over the library to research the Hand of the Inheritor. After one day of study and thought, we conclude that our best bet is to find a cult to the Outer Gods (because what could possibly go wrong with this plan?)

The second day, we find a cultist in a tavern. Wraxis intimidates him into telling us his master is named Yuki and that he dwells in the sewer. As thanks, Wraxis sends him to his makers by snapping his neck and leaving him in the alley. We make our way down into the sewers and encounter two cultist guards. They get a closer look at us and let us pass. We find Yuki with 15-20 cultists chanting around an altar with a recently-dead body. Wraxis tells him our unfortunate position, and Yuki agrees to bring the high priest down to summon a portal to the Outer Gods. We all hand over the necessary gold to make the preparations.

With the portal open, Wraxis needs only to make the request. Somewhat unwisely, he asks the Outer Gods to help him “carry on in their name.” They respond quickly to this request. Three tentacles extend through the portal. The first two kill Yuki and the high priest and pull them through the portal. The third tentacle stabs Wraxis in the chest and sets him screaming in the most horrible agony he’s ever experienced. The room is permeated in supernatural darkness for a moment, after which Wraxis is dead on the ground. Before the others’ eyes, however, he is lifted off the ground and regains consciousness. As if he wasn’t nasty enough before, he is now an even-more terrifying undead Grave Knight. He has no pulse, though his armor does.

While the others are quite appalled at what they’ve just seen, we know we have to suck it up to face the Hand of the Inheritor. We spend an uneasy night (though Wraxis no longer requires sleep) before waking up on the third day to head to battle. Aware of the Hand’s ability to fly, we decide to congregate in the sewers where the low ceilings will prevent our opponent’s advantage. At noon, the Hand appears as promised to do battle. We attack with a savage ferocity, surrounding the Hand in the tight quarters. The Hand may have realized too late that it was in over its head when squaring off against our new Grave Knight. It manages to land a blow on Cheng Li, but Ferra’s barbaric rage attacks destroy it before it can kill any of us. The Hand rises into the air and explodes, granting us the victory over the Herald to a God. Shortly afterward, we decide to head our separate ways. Wraxis seemingly leaves the room before Subaro mentions that he is an abomination and a monster. Wraxis apparently heard this, however, as he comes back in and kills Subaro with an evil smile. Ferra and Li both have nothing but nice things to say about the Grave Knight as our session comes to a gory close.

With a brief glimpse into how the other half lives, it is of great comfort to our heroes that they are still many towns away from these mythic villains. They have plenty of battles of their own coming in our next session with mighty-enough opponents. Surely they won’t have to cross paths with these horrific villains, right…?

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Session 26
Dungeon-crawling with a plethora of goblins

September 3
After a night’s rest between last session and now, our group ventures back into the House of the Withered Blossoms and creeps back down the large hole in the first floor. We know this time to expect enemies shooting arrows at us, so we fan out and attempt to sneak through the dark toward the wall that Jira can vaguely make out with his dark vision. However, his sight doesn’t make him any more stealthy, and the goblins atop the wall hear him coming and open fire. Invisible Rika hits them with an Aurora Borealis atop the wall that dazzles a few of them. In the meantime, Skizzik becomes the dungeon equivalent of Batman as he stealthily flies through the dark to take them by surprise.
Speaking of surprise, Thom proves particularly adept with the bow as the fight continues, managing to shoot out both of the eyes of a poor goblin who then falls off the wall and kills himself (a bad day even by goblin standards). Skizzik uses his alchemicals to melt the brackets off the gate so that the other three can pass through, but by this point all that remains is mopping up the last couple goblins.

Following this fight, Rika is struck by another set of visions. She sees the four of us standing in a room of iron bars fighting monstrous women with nunchuks, then us drinking tea in a house, then Jira fighting other samurais with wooden swords, and finally her own face transforming horribly. By the time she snaps out of it, the others have cooled off from the fight and are prepared to move on.

We try a door to the north, but find ourselves temporarily trapped in a small room with knives and blades shooting out at us from the ceiling, floor, and walls. Thinking better of that direction, we head east as soon as we escape the trap room. If we were expecting a reprieve from trouble, however, we were sorely disappointed. Skizzik opens the door only to be shot by four arrows. As robust as he is, he falls unconscious thanks to the sneak attack from what sounds like more hobgoblins. Rika buys us some time by summoning another Aurora Borealis, and we are able to revive Skizzik and close the door.

We take a moment to form more of a strategy. The basic plan is that Jira chugs an Invisibility Potion to join Skizzik and Rika in being invisible. Thom agrees to play the part of the proverbial pincushion while the rest of us sneak through the room beyond. Unfortunately, Jira wasn’t prepared for the traps that would send him spiraling 50 feet down onto spikes. He spends the next few moments trying to climb out of the pit while Rika and Skizzik venture forth. Rika uses her new ability to dominate the mind of one of the hobgoblins, ordering him to unlock the door in front of them. Sizzik manages to unlock the door on his own beforehand, however, so Rika forces the goblin to instead turn on his friends. On the other side of the door, they encounter two hill giants. The giants are very confused as to how the door opened itself, but that’s nothing compared to the chaos that ensues when Skizzik detonates a confusion bomb on one and confuses him into attacking his buddy.

While the giants fight each other, Rika goes around the corner and gives a hobgoblin a taste of Hell. She bone-shatters him and makes him try to crawl away for his life before she finally grants him the release of death through the stones of minute meteors. By the time Jira escapes the pit and navigates his way to the room with the giants, Skizzik has killed one with dragon-breath. Finally becoming visible again, Jira decapitates the remaining giant and two more hobgoblins.

Thom rejoins us shortly before the last enemies are dead, everyone taking in the vulgar depictions on the walls in this area before Rika has her unseen servant open the next door. Thom is nearly sick as he follows the unseen servant to see a gnarly display of horribly cut-up bodies in the room. The others mentally prepare themselves for the sight and move forward to the next corridor without losing any breakfast. Out in the hallway, the group sees a grate on the south end. Jira peers out and reports seeing a three-story keep ringing with the sounds of more goblins.

Continuing up the hallway to the north, we eventually hear the sound of cracking bones (a sound Rika is quite familiar with by now), followed by the appearance of another ghost. This time it’s a woman with close-cropped hair. She tells us that she is Yuka and that the Matron of Munasukaru “broke” her and asks us to help her take revenge. She offers to inhabit one of us and impart some of her knowledge and abilities. Jira consents to have her inhabit him, and he immediately has a vision of the week it took for Yuka to die from the awful torture a monstrous oni woman inflicted on her. Filled with righteous fury, Jira seethes as he follows the others onward to the end of the corridor.

We emerge on the edge of a stone shelf. A rickety wooden ladder leads down to the cavern below, with a waterfall to the east. Rika steps out onto the shelf, taking in the scene of lots of goblins tending to a pig farm below. They see her, however, and start approaching the ladder to attack. Rika lets loose a cloud kill, which proves incredibly effective in killing tons of them. Skizzik also keeps with the cloud theme, chucking stink bombs that cloak the area in poison gas. Jira and Thom hit a few goblins with arrows but soon find themselves with little to do except hang out atop the shelf and watch the clouds float around killing everything.

Rika and Skizzik eventually fly back to the shelf when all the goblins have either fled or died, Jira and Thom climbing down the ladder. When we have all made our way down, however, we hear loud footsteps approaching. Two giants, some leopards, and another bunch of hobgoblins are soon attacking, led by the Swine Shogun riding a boar. Rika continues her devastating spells, cloud killing a few and dazzling others with another Aurora Borealis. Skizzik contributes bombs and other alchemical weaponry, powderizing several other creatures. Perhaps because they recovered their strength by chilling out the last fight, Thom and Jira find that they’re landing tons of critical blows with their blades. Even the Samurai himself eventually succumbs to the onslaught, and it would be tempting to think that our battle finishes without a single cliff-hanger for our next session. Alas, it is not to be; a ghost emerges from the Shogun’s corpse as we fade to black until next time…

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Session 25
Crazy ass forests and towers

In the Forest of Spirits, everyone get their turn at potential possession…

16 August As we’re traipsing through the forest, a crazy, crispy looking spirit appears next to Rika. Cackling about burning down the forest, she possesses Rika. Filled with the sudden urge to burn everything down, Rika promptly sets a nearby tree on fire without warning. A small Kami pops out of the engulfed wood and demands to know why his tree is being attacked. Not satiated with the rest of the party’s “well, umh”ing, more Kamis flood out of the woodwork (literally) and begin to attack Rika.

Despite being a bit torn about burning down the forest because of his predilection for fire, Skizzik sticks Rika to the earthen floor with a tangle-foot bag. This allows Thom and Jira to close in and attempt to beat Rika into unconsciousness before the Kami rip her apart or she strikes them down with more fiery lightning. They eventually knock the crazed sorceress out, hog tie her and unceremoniously use one of Jira’s socks as a gag.

Koya brings Rika back to consciousness and despite the muffled fits of rage, is able to channel the pyro spirit out of her body. Obscenely pissed about being hog-tied and gagged with one of Jira’s smelly socks, Rika stalks off into the forest to return some time later. The rest of the group is able to smooth things over with the Kami, partially in thanks to Koya putting their burning trees out.

24 August In the distance, we hear what sounds to be an ax striking flesh (a sound Jira is quite familiar with). A moment later, a crazed looking, ax-wielding huntman’s spirit pops up next to Jira. Despite it’s attempts to possess a fellow ax-user, we banish the spirit before it has a chance to take hold of Jira and send him chasing us around with an ax. (Good thing too, since knocking Jira unconscious isn’t quite the same as knocking Rika unconscious).

1 September We finally arrive at our destination; the Kami clearing. As we approach the entryway, a legless floating samurai halts our progress. Jira, Thom and the guardian exchange greetings and we are eventually allowed to pass through the gate and into the grove. Kami slowly flood out of the forest to cautiously investigate our presence. We are eventually told the story of how the Oni and Kami came to be…

In the beginning, the gods created two distinct races of beings: the Kami and the Oni, the natural and the destructive (if you will). The Kami were the gatekeepers of the House of Withered Blossoms: a prison built for the Oni; however, a prison the Kami were not permitted to set foot in so long as one Oni remained. 160 years ago, the group of Oni calling itself the “Five Storms” escaped from the prison, leaving behind at least one of their brothers to prevent the Kami’s entrance. To this day they have been unable to set foot inside the House of Withered Blossoms to investigate how the jailbreak occurred.

We are then asked to investigate in their stead. A small tree-ninja Kami steps forward and tells us he will serve as our guide to the House. While we’re there, he also asks us to find his ward; a small bonsai tree, which has been taken from him. Seeing little choice, we all agree to investigate the House of Withered Blossoms.

2 September That morning, Akumi (our tree-ninja Kami guide) begins our trek through the forest and by that evening we arrive at the prison. Towering above us, the House of Withered Blossoms stands as a pagoda set in the middle of a depression in the earth. An impressive sight, the splendor of its’ visage is corrupted by the stench of decay. Here Akumi and our more fragile party members leave us to do the dirty work.

Trying a novel approach, we actually knock on the prison’s front doors. After receiving no response, Jira and Thom beat the doors down (and the world is right again. I mean, who knocks?) As the doors fall, a spray of knives pepper Jira and Thom; always a good start. A heavily cob-webbed hallway extends in both directions just inside the front doors. We chop our way around and find a center room marred by a deep hole in the ground. Perhaps this is how the Oni escaped? The shaft smells of decay. As we further investigate this central room, 4 spiders attack from the ceiling.

They fire magic missiles at us from above as one of the arachnids blows a loud horn that echoes through the room and pit below. Skizzik gets entangled by webbing but Jira quickly cuts him free. Rika crushes one’s exoskeleton until its’ guts ooze out. The use of mirror images makes these buggers difficult to hit and their use of grease causes weapons to clatter to the ground out of our grasps. We eventually squash the rest.

Skizzik then peeks down into the hole but isn’t able to see much beside the pit at the bottom. We head back out into the hallway and find a set of stairs. On the second level, there are grates in the ceiling above us serving and unknown purpose. As Jira is about to round a corner, a skeleton with crazy intestines jumps out, hits him with his intestine tongue and runs off. As we pursue, another of the skeletons grapples Thom. Jira is able to determine that these creatures are Mohrgs, or beings crated from the souls of unrepented murderers. Despite hidden traps firing off poisoned shiruken hampering our efforts, Jira and Thom take down one Mohrg while Skizzik and Rika take down the other.

After dusting the bone-boys, we move into an inner room where more Mohrg’s lurk. One quickly grapples Rika while the other grapples Jira. Luckily, Rika blinks ethereal and walks right out of its’ grasp; however, the one grappling Jira beats him into near unconsciousness. Skizzik manages to give Jira a hand while forgetting about his fire aura and promptly singes Thom and Jira as he steps close. Despite the smell of burning hair, Thom manages to destroy the one grappling Jira.

After some healz, we continue to explore the second level of the tower and find a room with a spiral staircase and cages containing two scared people. We let the prisoners out and they gtfo the place. We then ascend the winding staircase and find a room covered in jutting needles. 20 feet above us are more spider people.

More magic missiles rain on our heads and the spider people launch into an attack. An ever-changing Aurora Borealis on the ceiling manages to annoy everyone (yay me!) while Skizzik sets all their webbing on fire (while giggling like a little girl of course). Jira and Thom pepper the spiders with projectiles as Skizzik’s fire literally causes spider bodies to rain down from above where they splat onto the floor-needles around us. The fire burns through the ceiling and beyond and even sends some unseen spiders cascading down from the floors above (hallelujah it’s raining spiders? amen?).

As the fire destroys the upper levels, we head back downstairs to the pit. Giving in, we decide to descend into the dank smelliness below. Thom and Rika attempt to repel down together and end up falling 20 feet. Ouch.

Once down, we find a long staircase that leads to a giant underground dungeon. As we head further in, a volley of arrows heads our way and peppers Jira like a pin cushion. Having used a lot of spells, bombs and hit points, we decide to recuperate before tackling this mayhem. Jira climbs back up out of pit and gets us all out and back to the camp outside. We meet our fellow party-members, tell them of the fire, pain and maniacal laughter (all from Skizzik as flaming spider bodies fell around his head) and set up camp for the night.

Will Jira have arrows for breakfast? Will the tower burn down in the night? Will we spend two sessions traipsing through an underground dungeon of doom? Find out next time on Jade Regent: Dungeon-Crawling Fools.

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Session 24
Ninjas at the Feast and Rough times for Skizzik

We pick back up with our adventurers as they pass a fitful night of sleep in the Palace of Ordu-Agenhei, worried that Prince Batsaikhar might retaliate against us for Rika turning down his marriage proposal. Our already-restless sleep is shattered when we hear a loud crashing sound. Rika, Skizzik, and Jira (the latter only clad in half-orc boxers) rush out into the common room to find it was only a servant accidentally knocking over a vase. Thom emerges, suggests we all go back to bed, and we continue our long night of light sleeping.

July 1 – In the morning, we still haven’t been incarcerated, tortured, or executed, which puts all of us in a cautiously optimistic mood. We decide to stick around for the last night of feasts, flying kites on the roof with our servants and enjoying a performance of the Epic Poem of Hongol at a local theater. After we prepare for the feast that evening, we head out into the city. This last night is the Feast of the Dragon, appropriately named for massive dragon costumes forming a parade through the city. Porthos is frightened by the firecrackers and runs back to the palace, but the rest of us enjoy the local markets and the riots of color around us.

At least, we do until we are suddenly under attack by a group of ninjas that snuck into the parade. Taken by surprise, we are nearly overwhelmed by the ninjas. However, we manage to regain our footing and fight back with the aid of a mysterious girl from the crowd who may look plain but wreaks havoc with a knife. In the end, the last few ninjas still standing realize they have lost and impale themselves with their own kitanas. The crowd is reeling from the death and destruction around them (along with spells and bombs that seemingly explode out of nowhere while Rika and Skizzik were invisible), so the mysterious girl leads us away into an alley. There, she introduces herself as Miyaro and explains that her masters have an interest in seeing us succeed in our plight against the Five Storms, the evil oni organization that has taken over MinKai. Miyaro tells us to gather our companions and meet her in an hour at the city gates.

We hurriedly seek out Ameiko, Sandru, Koya, Shalelu, and Zych to tell them what’s happening. They seem uneasy about trusting Miyaro, but take our word for it and accompany us back to the palace. There, we find Porthos, Ulf, and Naqeen. On our way back to the city gates, however, Ulf and Naqeen confer and decide that they need to part company with us. They had agreed to help us over the Crown of the World, but that was finished and they were needed back on the other side. We wish them luck in their travels and send them on their way. At the gate, Miyaro tells us we are headed for the Forest of Spirits, a place that is on our way to MinKai, and that our route is about 500 miles. Her masters, the Comi, dwell in that forest and have opposed the oni for ages. Skizzik briefly entertains the idea of finding a way to sneak past hundreds of guards to assassinate the Prince, but eventually gives it up and comes with us.

July 20 – After a couple weeks of traveling on the plains of Hongol, we run into four huge armored Nephilim. We try to be diplomatic and convince them we’re just passing through and mean now harm. Unfortunately, they decide that we have to die because we’ve seen where they live. We battle and bring them down before continuing on our way.

August 1 – We finally reach the Forest of Spirits, which begins with what looks like a wall of trees. The ground is misty, and it seems supernaturally quiet. We find a fallen pillar blocking our way in, and Miyaro recommends we restore it and give a sacrifice to earn its favor. Jira hauls it back upright, and everyone sets down a copper as an offering. A little form named Zenkitchee emerges from the pillar, bows and thanks us, and blesses us for our respect. He says to be careful in the forest, as we are likely a month’s journey from the clearing where we are headed.
We enter the forest, continuing to note its spooky and quiet nature. Miyaro also morphs into her true form, a humanoid fox lady, and warns us that we may encounter strange creatures and spirits wishing to possess us along the way. Sure enough, it only takes us two or three hours to be surprised by a spirit appearing next to Sandru. This bard with a lute on its back seems unaware that it is dead, and decides to possess Sandru while looking for inspiration for the perfect poem. Jira attempts to exorcise the spirit fruitlessly, Sandru feeling the constant urge to sing.

August 2 – The next day, Koya prepares a spell that expels the spirit from Sandru, but it still has trouble accepting its death. Rika uses rather morbid persuasive techniques by demonstrating how incorporeal it is, while the group eventually convinces it to move on.

August 5 – After a couple more days of travel, we hear a loud bird call and footsteps. We follow for a half-mile until it grows really quiet. Then, a man-sized rock suddenly thuds just in front of Thom and Porthos. Three stone giants stand up and decide to kill us. We battle back, Thom and Jira both finishing a giant apiece. To everyone’s surprise, Sandru fells the third giant!

August 8 – We camp out again, keeping watch. During Rika and Jira’s watch, they hear the sound of a whip cracking. A samurai ghost suddenly appears beside Jira, attempting to possess him. However, Rika turns invisible and banishes the ghost with a well-timed magic missile.

August 13 – After four more days of travel, we hear a loud roar in the distance. We realize we’re being charged by a dire tiger, but upon closer examination determine that it is mangy and doesn’t look well. We attempt to heal and feed it, but it decides it would prefer to just kill us. It grapples Skizzik and starts trying to feast on his face. Meanwhile, Rika shatters its bones while Porthos bites it and Jira slashes at it with Suishen. In the end, Skizzik wins the fight in a way nobody should attempt at home. He punches it in the face with a bomb, killing the dire tiger and scorching himself a fair bit.
We continue walking, Skizzik probably smarting some from the bomb burns. Shortly thereafter, we are approached by a hunter ghost who thinks we should’ve spared the carnivorous tiger and “found another way.” It possesses Skizzik, infecting his mind with deep regret and sorrow. We wanted to try to expel this spirit the same way as we did with Sandru, but Koya didn’t think to have that particular spell prepared. Skizzik lashes out in depressed anger, hurting Koya’s feelings to the point of tears. Ameiko and Sandru are particularly upset with our angry gnome friend, spurring him to wander off on his own. He starts having visions of tigers that the spirit killed during its life, causing him to become more and more emotional and sad.
The others at camp are disinclined to follow him, but Thom eventually takes pity on him and gather Jira and Rika to go after him. They find him down by a river, indulging in a self-pity party and on the verge of cutting himself. Rika manages to get in a few jabs about him thinking for the first time in his life, but they manage to convince him to return to camp. Even so, he uses his fugitive grenade to pine away on his own for a few hours before digging a hole to sleep in.

August 14 – The next morning, Koya is still avoiding Skizzik. Jira, Rika, and Thom convince her to try to expel the spirit, but neither her spell nor Spivey’s work. Jira investigates further and detects an unnaturally lawful alignment in Skizzik. He and Koya brainstorm a different spell to try the next day. Skizzik has to remain sad all day, however, seeming far more emotional and dark than we’ve ever known him to be.

August 15 – Koya attempts the next spell, managing to banish the hunter spirit. Skizzik is back to normal (thank goodness!) and offers Koya the peace offering of a pot of tea and an apology. Koya forgives him, and we continue on without the awkwardness of carting an emo through the forest with us. We can only hope that we manage to avoid having anyone else in our party possessed, but we have plenty of path in front of us yet in the Forest of Spirits. As for what happens next, we eagerly await our next session.

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