Dark Prophecy (an "Of Sound Mind" Storyhour) - FINALE! 3/29/05


First Post
This thread is reserved specifically for the last part of my Trinity Campaign. You will begin to note some overlap between it and another campaign I'm running sometime in the future: Ravenloft: Beyond the Mists

I've included a little background, as I have made a number of changes/additions to Kevin Kulp's splendid adventure. The setting is in Rokugan so the names of some of the big players had to change (I'll let you take some guesses:)). The PCs actually are members of the town, so it was an interesting twist in terms of DM'ing it. I found that it added more dimension to the game than if they had simply wandered into the town. The last little alteration I made was having the characters start off as commoners. It allowed them time to roleplay with their surroundings and built the realism of the events up in their mind before they actually got a "level" in a class. I've made a note of who the PCs are below. Well, I hope you guys enjoy!
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First Post

Tasonsuzu-name of village

Dramatis Personae

Doushi– Dragon who enslaved town nearly a century ago
Otsuge- Strange witch outcast

Ide Chuukun– Prefect
Jushou-Prefect’s wife
Hizune-Prefect’s first son, future leader of village
Ayame- Prefect’s Concubine
Jinqua –Son, angered by his lack of status, has great aspirations

Boroya– Owner of new mines
Kyogi-Younger son
Geretsu-Older son

Koyama-Ex miner, goat/chicken caretaker/Eta
Kirehana- Easing the pains of the dying/Eta, most beautiful girl in village
Sagara- boy who disappeared on the Wyrm Path

Hiroshi-Family leader of bell builders, married into Boroya’s family
Ito-Apprentice who has developed a weather vein craft

Musashi-Bodyguard to Boroya
Genji-Son is learning the trade; not interested in this b/c of people he is protecting

Nobutaka-Sake maker who uses copper sealant to make special tasting sake
Saburo-Son; into making his own experimentation of sake (Commoner/Rogue)

Ichiro-Family that grows rice on pond; takes care of the village's horses
Kanichi-Son who helps


Goto-Militia leader, devised a rotating order to guard duty for most of the village
Yatsen-Son (Commoner/Fighter)

Giyoshi-oldest of the militia members

Ide Yuske-Town elder; was a great Rokugani politician; offended someone, so he retired

Masamichi, Okiniro-Miners
Katasumi, Iriye, Yomiri-Daughters/Wives clean Chuukun's estate

Akira-Trapper/hunter who frequents the area

Asada-Second family that also builds bells and other copper products, run by a stern taskmaster
Tomosawa-Head of workers/security around the foundry

The Kamigishu: Shigemura the Wise, Tojo the Brave , Kamijawa the Swift, Onimusha the Dark, Hirohito the Great
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First Post
Chapter 1

“Hurry up,” Nobotaka snapped.

Saburo looked up from the frenzy of paperwork to see the face of his irate father staring down at him. He was supposed to have organized the inventory of Sake yesterday but got distracted sampling the goods. Like all of the children of the village he was a dutiful son, but Saburo liked to think it was because he admired and loved his father and not because he had been socially coerced.

“You know how important this is for us,” Nobotaka said trying to restrain his irritation. “With the Liberation Festival only a couple of weeks away, we have much to do and if Ide Chuukun decides that we are to supply the majority of the drink…well, you understand don’t you.” The last part was said as more of a statement than a question.

As Saburo organized the last of the scrolls, he bound them quickly and handed them to his father with a regal flourish. Nobotaka smiled and bowed. Saburo returned the bow with increased inclination and a longer duration.

“I’m sorry Saburo. I know how hard you have been working these past few days and I have only bad things to say to you. This is going to be a great step for our family if we can broker this deal and be the sole suppliers of sake for the Liberation Festival as long as our line continues.” Nobotaka’s eyes beamed when he spoke. The rich blue silk garb decorated with pearly white scroll work, he wore, was in honor of the clan that his line has served for their entire existence: the unicorn.

“Don’t worry father. Everyone knows that we make the best sake around,” Saburo said with a smile.

“It never hurts-“

“-to be prepared,” Saburo finished. “I know, I know.”

“Now Saburo, is that anyway to treat the master of the house?”

The boy rounded to see his mother walking into the greeting room with two heavy overcoats. She wore an impish grin which she did not even bother to hide.

“You are right mother. Forgive me; I should have spoken slower so that father would understand everything!”

Nobotaka’s face flushed as his wife and son roared with laughter.

“One day I’m going to get a new family and leave you both behind,” Nobotaka threatened.

“Doubtful any other woman would have you Nobotaka-sama,” Akiko retorted.

“Good point,” he said with smirk before grabbing his family in a bear hug and heading out the door.

“Saburo, hurry up and bring the inventory,” Nobotaka called back from the chilly exterior of his home.

“Goodbye mother,” Saburo said as he bowed.

“Bring your father home at a reasonable hour Saburo!”

The boy smiled as he ran after his father. He loved the cold crisp air of the mountain and the snow that blanketed the village. It was perfect and pure as it blanketed “Tasonsuzu.” Today is going to be a good day.

This is awful, Saburo thought.

“This is a true tragedy that will affect us all,” Ide Chuukun intoned with solemnity. The Prefect of Tasonsuzu opened the meeting with well enough intentions by starting out with the Liberation Festival preparations, but once the discussion on who would have the honor of ringing the Wyrm Call came up, things rapidly deteriorated.

Those few merchants who lived outside of Tasonsuzu would never; for a second, have believed the history of such a small and seemingly irrelevant copper mining community. For its past was filled with the stuff of legends. Nearly a century ago, the village was much grander than it was today and was under the control of an evil Kami known as Doushi. The great God enslaved the people and forced them to work in the mines under the guard of his evil Oni. Then one day, five great heroes banded together to overcome Doushi. Their names were never forgotten and were engraved upon the bell that stands in the center of the village as a testament to the freedom the men had granted. There was Shigemura the Wise, Tojo the Brave, Kamijawa the Swift, Onimusha the Dark, and Hirohito the Great. These five men battled the Oni all the way up the mountain to Doushi’s lair and then in an apocalyptic battle destroyed the Kami and sent his spirit back to the Shadowlands forever…at least that is the way the stories went. Every year since, the great copper bell that was constructed on that day was to ring proudly and a celebration was to ensue to glorify the men and women of Tasonsuzu’s proud heritage. Ringing the Wyrm Call was a tremendous honor, given to a child who had shown exceptional community service over the year. The fact that a man was found dead there was not a good omen.

Okiniro’s body was discovered there a few days after the last Village Meeting. He had been missing for several days by that point. The guards said that he was lying near the great bell itself, with a bottle of shattered sake lying next to him. Most people knew that he was a heavy drinker and had been for sometime. Which made his death that much more suspicious. Many believed that the spirits that possess a man when he drank finally laid claim to their most dutiful servant, others believed that the cold must have stolen his breath, but one man changed everyone’s opinion: Boroya. Yes, the wily merchant who married a local girl and then seized control of the village’s economy by purchasing every available mine. His greed knew no limits and now his scheming had become personal. He was a peddler of lies; not even a man of noble stature. But his money began to buy him that kind of power within Tasonsuzu and he was fast becoming accustomed to being right.

“This tragedy no doubt WILL affect us all when we consume a potential dangerous mixture Nobutaka will provide at the festival,” Boroya bellowed across the crowded room.

Nobutaka instantly jumped to his feet. “What are you saying,” he yelled back incredulously.

“Only this: a man sampled of your wares and now he is dead,” Boroya said as a small smile curled the corners of his mouth. The man continued before Nobutaka could retort:

“Perhaps we need new leadership in this area. I have been speaking to my contacts in Kawa Nemui and they have assured me that the amount of sake Nobutaka-san will make can be matched by their own product. We needn’t fear a thing and the festival can continue with no delay.”

“But my family has supplied at least some part of the Festival for nearly 7 generations” Nobutaka said, his voice quivering on the edge of fury.

“Times change,” Boroya replied flatly.

“Gentlemen, gentlemen,” Ide Chuukun interjected smoothly. “Now is not the time for rash words or action. We must prepare a proper Ceremony of Passage for Okiniro-dono and help his family through this time of difficulty. The Festival will proceed as planned. I must arrange for the Eta to prepare the body. I will think on this matter and have a decision soon. The rest of the arrangements we have made are satisfactory. Thank you all for coming.”

Saburo watched as Ide Chuukun whisked himself out of the room before the massive throng of people could block his escape. His father’s eyes were transfixed upon Boroya as the man left, his two spoiled and evil children trailing behind him like lapdogs.

Very well Boroya. If it is war you want, then war you shall have!


First Post
Chapter 2

“I guess it didn’t go as well as you would have hoped,” Akiko said with a sigh of resignation. She glanced over to the study, where Nobutaka had locked himself away ever since he got home.

“Don’t worry mother, things have a way of working themselves out,” Saburo said prophetically.

Akiko eyed her son and smiled.

It was starting to get very cold. Saburo had forgotten how long he had been in the main plaza, near the Wyrm Call, but even the alcohol wasn’t helping him. He had brought many variations of sake, and sampled them all many times over. Which might have explained the humor in everything he saw. What a sight I must be! Sitting in the middle of the plaza with a tray of sake. Let them say what they like about me, for it is the spirits who speak through me now and none can say this is of my doing. I will prove to that jackal Boroya that no harm can come to those who drink of our sake!

Many people were giving Saburo odd looks for good reason. It wasn’t everyday that one saw a drunkard in plain sight singing badly at the top of his lungs. However; it would be dishonorable to accuse such a man of debauchery as he was clearly possessed by spirits and what he did was not of his choosing. This social loophole made for a very interesting interaction between the village and Saburo. Many wanted to accuse of him depravity but none could do so and so they looked harder away from the scene than they intending; forcing Saburo to sing all that much louder. Giyoshi, a local militia man getting on in his years had been watching Saburo for nearly the entire day. He said nothing, but kept an eye out on him while he patrolled the area. Eventually, the older man approached with his naginata slung over his shoulder. The man gently interrupted Saburo during one of his drinking ballads.


“Oh why it is my good friend Giyoshi, how may I be of service,” Saburo slurred and nearly falling over as he turned to face the man.

“How are you feeling Saburo,” Giyoshi asked.

“Why fantastic. The spirits course through my veins and no harm can come to me. My father’s sake is wondrous indeed!”

The older man leaned closer, so that none but Saburo could hear.

“I understand what you are doing and your point has been proven,” the older man whispered. “If you stay at this any longer, you will dishonor yourself and your father. Come, and let me help you home.”

Saburo’s dulled senses sharpened instantly at the thought. He could bear many things, but dishonoring his father would be a fate worse than death. All he had desired was to help him. Help his father unmask the treacherous Boroya. Giyoshi is wise. Perhaps I should head his advice.

Saburo nodded and began to pack up his things. He wrapped everything but a single sake bottle and presented it to Giyoshi with a deep bow.

“You honor me Saburo, but I could not accept such a generous gift. How do I know it is truly from you and not from the spirits,” he asked as he bowed slightly and gently pushed the bottle back at Saburo. “When you have returned from your journey I would be honored if you would grace me with such a gift.”

Saburo bowed deeper still in a vain attempt to hide his flushed face. He hoped no one overheard the exchange and felt foolish for the gesture he had just made.

During the walk back, Saburo could feel the eyes of Tasonsuzu upon him. Judge all you want. It only served to improve his posture and correct his wobbling stance. By the end, he refused help from Giyoshi altogether. He bowed slightly as his mother greeted the men at the door and tried in vain to invite Giyoshi in for tea. She began to apologize profusely for any disorder her son had caused, when Saburo stumbled into his room. He heard the pleasant exchange between the two for only a few moments before sleep overtook him…

Everyone was watching him. He could not fail at his task. Quickly now, he must find a way to open the door…then he realized that they were not watching him, but after him! They were not instructing him, they wanted to tear him limb from limb…and here they came.

Quickly! He must get the door open! He must…but there was no time, none, and now he was running, slower than he should and they were right behind him and he could hear them, smell the, the thunder of feet on stairs and sour tang of unwashed bodies, and now he heard the howls of unnatural joy as they pulled down one of his friends whom he outraced and they are now after him, and oh thank the Kami, there was a window. He was out it and up the side of the wall before they could reach him. Safe.
Now a cold wind whips in his face as he realized he was hundreds of feet up the side of a tower. His fingers were starting to burn from gripping the narrow ledge, but they were down below, leaning out the window so that he could only climb up. And then, at long last, he could see the lip of the roof above. The sun was setting, copper in the night sky, and his father was standing silhouetted against the sky.

“Do you need help, child? I could help you. But you have to choose. There are always choices. Yours will be in being a good child, someone who will make me proud.” Saburo felt Nobutaka’s hand close over his, warm and strong, as he began to pull him up the side. “Respect my wishes and do what you are told, and the world will be yours. If not, well…”

And then he just let go. Just like that.

Saburo’s arms cartwheel out as he began to fall back down, down to those who awaited him. He felt himself tumbling through the air.

Saburo awoke with a scream. His bedding drenched in sweat, he sat rocking back and forth in a ball, trying to will the images away.


First Post
Chapter 3

A soft scratching came at Saburo’s door, followed by the soothing voice of his mother.

“Saburo-san, it is time for dinner.”

He immediately went to work striping the bedding, changing his clothes and washing his hands and face in the basin underneath his window. When he had finished, he took a deep breath and emerged into the common room.

His father was already seated, serving himself an assortment of rice and fish. His attention shifted to the boy as Saburo entered the room.

“Saburo, how are you feeling,” the man asked.

“Alright father, thank you for asking,” Saburo replied.

“A brave or a foolish thing you did today…though I am having trouble deciding which one it is,” the man said with mock gravity.

Saburo was in no mood for his father’s chiding this evening. Normally he would jump at the opportunity to verbally spar with the man, but not tonight.

“Father, have you noticed anything strange recently,” Saburo said, his voice barely above a whisper.

The playful mood left Nobutaka immediately when he saw his son’s face.

“No, why do you ask Saburo?”

“I just had this terrible dream…it’s nothing I’m sure. Just shook me up is all.”

“With that much sake in you, I don’t doubt it,” Nobutaka said with a roar of laughter.

Saburo smiled and began to chuckle. Maybe he’s right. It’s all in my head I’m sure.

Over dinner Nobutaka reminded his son of the responsiblilities they still had to the Festival despite the recent incident with Boroya. Saburo was to complete the order of 10 gallons in the next week, while Nobutaka attempted to salvage their reputation on the eyes of the Prefect. Saburo didn’t mind, he was most calm during the distilling process. Many said the Samurai were in a state of true enlightment while they practiced their sword kata, but Saburo was at his best when made his father proud.

He worked all through the night, pausing only once during the early evening to visit his friend Jin-qua. Jin-qua had an interesting position in the hierarchy of the town. He was the son of the Prefect Chuukun, but as the woman he had bedded was a concubine he had no rights or privileges from such a birth. This upset him to no end. True; Prefect Ide Chuukun took monetary responsibility for his concubine Ayame and his son Jin-qua…but that was all. Jin-qua felt he was a ghost in the town with no ability to advance himself past his station. Many people politely disregarded him; the fact that they were so nice about it made it even more infuriating for the young man. The two men discussed much over tea: politics, the economy, and how Jin-qua managed to break his leg in a race against Geretsu. Of course, his version of the story was a little more flattering than what Saburo had heard from Ren and Yatsen who had actually witnessed it, but he let his friend weave the story nonetheless.

“So there I was about to cross the finish line and that bastard Geretsu tripped me, sending me sprawling head first into a fallen tree,” Jin-qua alleged while waving his hands about. “I still won though!”

“I bet you did. Tell me, Jin-qua, have you been having any strange dreams recently,” Saburo asked.

Jin-qua’s flashy smile faded visibly under the question.

“Why,” the man inquired suspiciously.

“I had this dream today…well more like a nightmare. It was so real. I died in it.”

“I had a bad dream today as well. I’d rather not talk about it, but it was similarly disturbing. I’m not really sure what it all means, but the voice in the dream scared me as well,” Jin-qua said.

“Well I’ve taken up much of your time I see. You will have to regale me with more of your stories some other time. There is work to be done,” Saburo said trying to sound somewhat cheerful.

“I’m sure I will find more trouble to get myself into before you see me next,” Jin-qua promised with a grin.

“Until next time.”

Saburo awoke with a start. He had passed out early the next morning from working so hard. It seemed as though he had only sat down for a moment before falling victim to the warm embrace of slumber. The nightmare had returned once again. This time the dream was even more vivid than the last. Saburo looked up at the sky; the sun was suspended high in the heavens. Oh no, I overslept!

Rushing out of the distillery, Saburo ran to his room and attempted to change clothing in a frenzy of motion that threatened to entangle him in wool. Hopping up and down, he made his way to the front door with one pant leg on, while he battled furiously with the other.

“Saburo, the gift for Ren’s family is on the floor next to you…I suggest you run the entire way if you are going to make it in time for lunch,” his mother said with a hint of amusement in her voice.

How could I have forgotten?! Ren invited me yesterday evening after I got home from Jin-qua’s house. I mean she even did it in front of my parents! By the Fortunes, this is bad.

The boy raced down the path at a dead run. He nearly tripped a few times, but did make it to the house in record time. Ren’s parents were caretakers of the horses of the village; a great honor. Horses were praised as noble creatures for the Unicorn Clan and to have the responsibility to care for them was seen as a dignified position in the hierarchy of the clan. They were a little distance from the village itself, making his timely arrival that much more difficult.

As Saburo rounded the bend, he could see Ren chasing after one of her horses. A beautiful mare named Blaze. She would try to approach it, but every time she would do so the horse would flee from her grasp. This continued for some time, until Saburo finally arrived.

“Sorry I’m late Ren,” he said trying to regain his breath.

“Finally decided to show up huh,” Ren chided.

“I overslept. What are you doing,” Saburo replied in an attempt to change the conversations direction quickly.

“Blaze got out of the stables and doesn’t seem to want to go back.”

“Maybe I can help,” Saburo declared.

Always remain calm. Control your breathing. Don’t let them think you are a threat.

Saburo approached slowly, allowing his hands to brush over the mare’s face before gently patting it down. He slowly turned towards Ren as he patted down Blaze and whispered comforting sounds to her. Ren handed him the harness and with a quick fluid motion, Saburo ensnared the horse. She immediately reared up and tried to escape, but it was futile with both Saburo and Ren holding the harness. Eventually after a few bucks, Blaze gave up and allowed herself to be lead back to the stables.

“What’s that,” Saburo asked as he pointed to a spot on Blaze’s forehead.

It was a small scratch in the direct center of the horse’s head with blood caked over the wound.

“Must have gotten a nick when she escaped this morning,” Ren said with a hint of irritation in her voice.

“You mean to tell me that you have been at this all morning?”

The look Ren gave Saburo could have cut steel. Recovering quickly, Saburo attempted to smooth things over with his already annoyed host.

“I just got luck is all. I’m sure you tired her out, making my job easy. Why don’t we check the other horses to see that they are OK.”

The two childhood friends inspected the remainder of the horses and found them all to be healthy, without any evidence of laceration. Strange.

The remainder of the evening went well. Saburo was extremely polite and tried not impose any of his views on his gracious hosts. Ren’s irritation was lost as soon as dinner began. It was a great time. Saburo excused himself for the night and was on his way home with his lantern in hand when he paused halfway to ponder something that he was bothering him. I forgot the gift! In his exuberance to please both Ren and her parents, he had forgotten to give them the gift his mother had carefully wrapped. It was an exquisite sake bottle she had made herself. Muttering curses to himself, Saburo began to trudge back to his house. I’ll just give it to them tomorrow. One more day won’t hurt. Thankfully when he arrived home, his parents were both asleep; allowing him to smuggle the gift into his room undetected. He fell asleep as soon as his face hit the pillow.

The nightmare came upon him almost immediately once again, he was at the part when his father was about to release him and send him hurtling towards his doom when something shook him awake.

“Saburo, get up!”

Bleary-eyed, he opened his eyes to see his father shaking him and Yatsen kneeling in the corner of his room. Both men had somber looks upon their faces. What is Yatsen doing here at this hour?

“Son, there has been an accident…it’s Ren…her-“

Saburo didn’t hear the rest; his fear blocked out all other voices. Fortunes, no…


First Post
Piratecat said:
For the love of God, don't touch the hor--

Dang. Too late.

This is great!

Hahahahaha!!! Yeah, I really felt sorry for my Players, which is why I had to reduce the horse encounter from 2 to 1 psionically enhanced animal. Glad you like it PC, I hope that I haven't butchered the adventure with all these modifications;)


Butchered? You kidding? I love what it seems you're doing. It stopped being "my" adventure when it left my hands. The more people customize it, the happier I am.


First Post
Piratecat said:
Butchered? You kidding? I love what it seems you're doing. It stopped being "my" adventure when it left my hands. The more people customize it, the happier I am.

Thanks again Piratecat! For the most part, I left the overarching plot arc as is...I had to modify a few key points (which I'm sure you will catch) in order to preserve the "realism" of using the setting of this Rokugani village. I won't go into detail on what it was I did exactly now; instead I'll force you to keep reading to find out! :cool:

Suffice it to say that with only two PC's, beginning at 0th level I had to reduce a few of the challenges you had set up early on in the game until they appropriately "leveled" themselves. I must admit I did borrow a fabulous idea from the "Small Beginnings" storyhour to set the stage and put the heroes on even turf with "Copperdeath" and his flunkies...


First Post
Chapter 4

“What do you mean,” Saburo demanded. His voice must have been louder than he intended, for Yatsen seemed embarrassed by his lack of control and disrespect for his own father.

“Ren’s father is dead,” Nobutaka said sadly.

“Whaa-how,” Saburo asked frantically.

“We think it was a wild animal,” Yatsen interjected from his seat in the corner of the room.

Saburo had known Yatsen as long as he had known Ren and Jin-qua. They had all grown up together and collectively bonded. All of them looked out for one another and helped each other when they could. This must have been Yatsen’s way of helping Saburo; telling him the truth and not allowing the rumors of what would happen slowly eat away at his spirit.

“We suspect this happened not too long ago,” Yatsen continued. “It must have been after you left though. My father and I received the alarm from Kenichi when he went to go check on his father in the stables. He tends to check the horses at night personally before he goes to bed. When he did not return promptly, Iriye grew anxious and sent Kenichi to investigate. He found his body badly mutilated in the barn. Apparently there was a struggle of sorts as he was tangled up in a harness and a horse escaped. The Eta who are now preparing the body have instructed my father that only an animal as large as a bear could have made those wounds on a man the size of Ichiro. As soon as I was allowed to take my leave, I came here. Men are still at the house now and Ide Chukuun-dono is issuing a curfew for the next few days until this bear can be found. I suspect that both Ren and Iriye will need some help over the next few days as well, but I will be helping my father patrolling the countryside. It would be nice of you to go and help them in whatever you can.”

“Father, I have nearly comp-“ Saburo blurted out.

Nobutaka held up his hand. “Go.”

Within moments Saburo had packed up most of his belongings, his eyes only resting moments upon the sake bottle he had intended to give Ichiro this past night. How silly and disgracing it would be to bring it along now. Ripping his thoughts from the porcelain jug, he hurried towards Ren’s home.

After depositing his things in the house and paying his respects to Iriye, he went to find Ren in the stables. Giyoshi was outside, as he volunteered to keep an eye out on the family until the Ceremony of Passage was completed for Ichiro and Kenichi ascended to head of the household officially. Saburo found Ren quickly enough. She was stroking Blaze’s face whilst weeping.

“Ren, I…I’m so sorry.”

She forced a smile.

“At least he tried to fight it off as best he could. I know Blaze here tried to help him,” she said.

The horse whinnied as if to answer her.

“Any trouble catching him this time,” Saburo joked.

“Not this time, Saburo.”

“Come one, we should go inside and get some rest.”

Saburo gently reached out touch her shoulders and Ren broke down into tears. He held her as she sobbed against his chest. Let it out Ren, let it out.

The next day, Saburo waited for no one to begin helping. He knew very little about horses, but had had some experience with Jin-qua in the past. He brushed down all eight and walked them personally for about a mile before turning them loose in the pasture. Saburo wasn’t sure, but he thought he caught Giyoshi smirking in the background as he patrolled the area. Everything was going very well until Saburo reached Blaze. When he went to wipe the horse down, he noticed that the horse was dirtier than he expected. Reaching down to clean off her flank, Saburo saw blood on Blaze’s hooves. Poor Ren. She thought the horse was trying to protect her father when it was probably just scared out of its mind. No doubt it trampled Ichiro’s body. A good thing he had already past by that time. Ren doesn’t need to know, she has enough to worry about already.

As he was about to place Blaze back in her stall, he heard something. A child’s laughter…but wrong. His eyes scanned the stable and found nothing. I must be going crazy. The giggle came again, only this time the sound came at him from all direction filling his mind with fear. Saburo’s head snapped back and forth, straining to find the source. Suddenly he was thrown backwards into one of the stalls. The breath blasted from his body as he impacted into the hard wooden door. Damnit, I spooked the horse!

You scare no one human! The voice filled his mind.

It was then he realized that Blaze was staring directly at him. She intentionally threw me into the wall! The mare’s eyes began to glow bright red and crimson tendrils shot out at Saburo, holding him fast in their embrace. Blaze’s bared her teeth, showing the row upon row of fangs filling her mouth. Her jaw began to open…too wide! Bone and sinew popped as the horse’s mouth underwent a hideous transformation in front of him. Its jaws grew and grew until its maw was half his size.

Know that I am your master now, slave!

Saburo screamed as Blaze closed for the kill.


Ran this module myself and let me say that the 'Enhanced Horse' encounter was very well planned and written.

I could't wait to unleash the psionic horses on my players with 'bite of the wolf' but using ghost sound/ telepathic speech...wow! Very cool.

I could feel your characters "What the hell is going on" thought process building until Blaze let the cat out of the bag.



Random trivia: I almost made them psionic cows, but everyone told me that crossed the line from scary to stupid. This is why you should cherish your playtesters. :D


First Post
R-Hero said:
Ran this module myself and let me say that the 'Enhanced Horse' encounter was very well planned and written.

I could't wait to unleash the psionic horses on my players with 'bite of the wolf' but using ghost sound/ telepathic speech...wow! Very cool.

I could feel your characters "What the hell is going on" thought process building until Blaze let the cat out of the bag.


Thanks R-Hero for the kind words! This encounter was really a lot of fun and you are completely right, PC did a fantastic job laying out the buildup for the DM. The player of Saburo now refuses to ride horses with ANY character because of this...maybe I went too far:)


First Post
Piratecat said:
Random trivia: I almost made them psionic cows, but everyone told me that crossed the line from scary to stupid. This is why you should cherish your playtesters. :D

I was going to re-write the previous posts with the cow motif for fun and got half way before I started crying from the laughter. Yeah, cows don't have that same...penache.


Piratecat said:
Random trivia: I almost made them psionic cows, but everyone told me that crossed the line from scary to stupid. This is why you should cherish your playtesters. :D

If only you had, Saburo wouldn't be walking now...... :D

PirateCat, am i reading this right, did you have a hand in writing this module??
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First Post
Chapter 5

Flesh was rent from bone as Saburo futilely held his arm up to block the incoming attack. He turned to flee, not even pausing to look at that now useless appendage hanging at his side. Saburo felt another shudder of impact and the searing burn of pain across his back. His breath became labored as he staggered to the entrance of the barn.

“Help me,” he gasped.

Giyoshi had already began to run up to the doors of the stables, having heard the boy’s screams. The veteran’s eyes widened with shock at Saburo bloodied form.

“By the Kami, what has happened?!”

“Blaze…it was Blaze…,” Saburo rasped in between breaths.

“Quickly, get to the house,” Giyoshi commanded.

Saburo knew not how he had the strength to do so but he managed to reach the house before collapsing on one knee. Ren and Iriye, having heard the noise were already outside and rushed to meet him.

“Are you alright,” Ren asked hysterically.

Saburo was on the verge of explaining when a blood curdling scream ripped through the air. Everyone turned towards the barn in unison.

“Get…inside,” Saburo insisted feebly.

“Ren, take Saburo inside while I go find Kenichi.” Iriye’s look gave little room for argument.

Ren nodded and took Saburo inside. She quickly lay him down on the ground, headless of the trail of blood that he was leaving in their home. Dashing back and forth from room to room, she rummaged up some cloth she used to bind the gaping wounds in his back and left arm.

“Stay here, while I go see what is going on,” she said.

Saburo tried to say something to the contrary but his breath caught in his throat from the searing pain running through his body. He lay there for what seemed like an eternity…not moving. He shut his eyes and concentrated on something else, desperately struggling to forget the fact that he had nearly been eaten by a horse. Then something began to stir on the edge of his consciousness, telling him that things were very wrong. It was quiet. His ears began to hear the sounds of men striking earth, but there was something else…smaller steps, faster and lighter. Then a shadow past across the window in the common room. Then another. And another. Pretty soon he could not only hear them moving about the house, but he began to hear them speak. It was a foul high pitched nasal sound.

“REEEEEEEEEEEEEEN,” he screamed in warning.

A shriek filled the air, followed by the howls and yelps of monsters. Saburo got up from the floor. He knew that they would be after him soon and he was afraid. I’m no hero. He limped over to the window and began to scale the roof. The sounds of struggle ensued below. No doubt Kenichi attempting a useless stand against the swarm of Shadowspawn. His mind blocked it out. Crawling on his belly, he reached the center of the roof and stayed. Not moving, not making a sound. Some of the raucous yelping seemed to subside a bit after a while. However it was soon replaced by cries of pain as he heard the unmistakable sound of steel on bone.


The battlecry was human for sure and was soon followed by a wave of screeching. Death had come. Soon a blanket of silence filled the air. Nothing stirred. Summoning the courage, he moved to the edge of the roof. The scene before him was ghastly. Laying about in various pieces were the bodies of the creatures he had heard swarming outside. They were as small as children, covered in a yellow fur, and gifted with long fangs and sharp claws. Their faces were bestial, and reminded Saburo of wild dogs. Standing in the midst of these bodies was a single man. His blades were undecorated and straight edged; no doubt a souvenir from the gaijin. He wore the skin of animals and allowed his facial hair to grow. His hair was unkempt and wild. And his eyes shined with primal fury. The man went immediately into a defensive stance, crossing his long and short blade in front of him and looking up at the roof.

“I see I did not get you all,” he growled.

“Wait,” Saburo screamed; his hand shooting out from the edge of the roof. “My name is Saburo and I am a friend of this household!”

“Look around you boy, there is no household.”

“What happened to Ren,” Saburo yelled from his perch.

“They took the young girl and the man. The older woman and man were killed. I secured their honor; however, by killing their assassins,” the strange man replied.

“They…took…Ren…they killed…Iriye,” Saburo repeated slowly.

“Get down from there boy,” the man commanded.

Saburo slowly made his way down the side of the building. The pain he felt before had been replaced by a void that he could not seem to fill. Looking about the battlefield, he saw the body of Iriye among those of the Shadowspawn. Something slammed against the wall he had placed around his emotions, fighting to get in. Finally he was overtaken in a maelstrom of feelings and broke down weeping. How disgraceful I am. A coward who fleed and because of that Ren’s mother is dead.

Something grabbed him by the back of the neck and wrenched him to his feet. The man who had slain half a dozen of these monsters looked him right in the eyes.

“Do not weep for them,” he hissed. “Men do not weep at the sight of death. Remember this scene. Remember the pain and use it when the time comes. You say you are a friend of these people. Prove it. Crying won’t bring them back, only you can do that. The tasloi are a vicious people. They move in droves from one mountain to the next feeding on human lives until there are no more. You think what happened to her is bad,” he said as he pointed to the body of Iriye. “Just think what will happen to that young girl if we don’t stop them quickly.”

The man walked a few paces and stopped. He didn’t bother to turn around as he spoke.

“So what are you Saburo? A boy or a man?”

He let the question linger a moment. “I have no use for children on this hunt. If you are a man, then you will pick up a weapon and fight. To hell with social grace and honor! I say honor is doing something instead of hiding behind formality. If you want to make a difference, meet me in the ruins of Old Town tomorrow at dawn.”

The man dropped a small and ornate wooden box at Saburo’s feet and began jogging away when the boy called out.

“What is your name?”

“Akira,” the man called back.


First Post
Chapter 6

Saburo leaned over Giyoshi’s maimed body. He still clenched the naginata even in death, the blade sticking into Blaze’s corpse. He was a true soldier. A warrior. Taking a deep breath, Saburo freed the weapon. He had been told numerous times about the basic etiquette of the Empire. Everyone was born into their role…knew their places. Touching the dead was a position strictly for the Eta; they had no honor and consequently could do so. Taking a fallen man’s weapon was disgraceful in the eyes the Empire…only a Scorpion would so such a thing…or so he had been told. Words aren’t going to bring Ren back! Saburo heeded Akira’s advice and began to take various items from the stables he thought might be useful later. He stashed everything into a bag and set hid it half way between his house and the ruins of Old Town. He marked the position with a scarf.

On his way home, his thoughts began to ponder the day’s events. Akira was rumored to be a nomad…even in the standards of the Unicorn. He dressed in the hides of animals and fought with the weapons of the gaijin. He had been outside the Emerald Empire so many times people in the village wondered if actually was Rokugani any longer. Many say that he fought with the Hiruma in the Shadowlands. Others said he was a dangerous man not to be trusted. Most agreed; however, that he was a fine hunter and trapper and many winters would have been difficult without his help. This year was no exception. The salve the man had left with him completely sealed his wounds, making the conversation he was going to have with his parents a little easier. Though there were deep scars and blood on his clothes at least he wasn’t dying!

Upon arriving, Saburo explained the entire story to his parents. This lead to a whirlwind of activity. Not the least important of which was to report this matter to Goto and ultimately Prefect Ide Chuukun. The smooth diplomat immediately called up another Village Meeting with the Wyrm Call and proceeded to answer every question the audience threw at him. The conclusion of the meeting saw a definitive curfew installed for dusk, a doubling of patrols, the creation of various search parties, the promise of Ide Chuukun that the victims would be found and that the Liberation Festival would proceed as planned. The only bizarre question came from Utsuge, an old hermit that lived off by herself fin the ruins of Old Town. She asked what everyone thought of the dreams they were having recently. Chuukun immediately interceded with the idea that the various stresses the village has recently endured are no doubt causing troubled sleep for everyone. Many people were eager to agree with this answer, but some began accusing the calamities of the village upon Utsuge herself. If it upset her, she didn’t show it. Ide Chuukun was quick to point out that Utsuge’s “visions” were nearly never wrong and had always benefited the town in the past. He called upon her to make a prediction.

“Before a fortnight is done, we will see the end of these dreams once in for all.” The words hung in the air as she left meeting.

Never one to miss an opportunity, the Prefect used this prediction as a sign of good news and dispersed the remainder of the village’s concerns. Saburo took Yatsen aside and told him about his run in with Akira. He asked the young man to meet him in Old Town at dawn, just as Akira had instructed him. I hope you make it Yatsen.

Saburo used the remainder of the night to do what he was good at, making sake. After all, he had responsibilities to his father and he did not know how long he would be gone. Some of the “harder” sake he kept for himself. He filled the sturdier jugs with the substance and capped it all off with cloth soaked in the potion. I must use the only weapon at my disposal...my mind.

Sleep; it seemed, was becoming a luxury. The dream continued to haunt him and it was so vile this time that he awoke in the morning with a splitting headache. Brush aside the pain, he left the previously written note in the common room and made his way towards Old Town; picking up his satchel on the way there. Both Akira and Yatsen waited for him amongst the rubble. In a cleared patch at the dead center was a hut, presumably Utusge’s abode.

“You are late Saburo,” Akira said.

“I have no excuses to give,” Saburo replied angrily.

Akira smiled. “Good, you are learning it seems.”

“Come,” Akira said as he brushed aside the curtain of the hut and ushered them all inside.

The inside of the hut seemed larger than it should be. Circular shelves lined the canvas drape. They were filled with jars of various animal parts, bones, and herbs. A large firepit sat in the center of the room, with a gapping hole in the top to allow the smoke to escape. Utsuge, a withered old woman, dressed in a black kimono sat on the bare earth that blanketed the floor. Her eyes fixated on each of them as they entered. Akira immediately kneeled in front of the old woman, waiting expectantly for the other men to do the same. The old woman waited for what seemed like an eternity before speaking.

“Come to claim your part in history Akira?”

“I only seek to right the wrongs,” he replied firmly.

“Careful what you seek,” she warned.

“How can we help,” Yatsen blurted out.

Utsuge’s eyes turned to face him. “You? YOU, can do nothing. But together, perhaps everything. The Fortunes are aligning all around us; the time is nearly at hand.”

“Goto will not find them,” Akira said flatly. “He has read too much of the Crab. In order to hunt this kind of game, you must leave your shell. The tasloi are no doubt imbedded deep within the mountain. I have tracked the movements of this new tribe and assume that small contingent of kidnappers has rejoined its main force. The mountain; however is not so easily climbed.” The last part he said as he looked to the men flanking him.

“You speak the truth Akira,” Utsuge responded. “Climbing the face of the mountain would be foolish and lead to a quick death. The tasloi are a fearsome enemy on such terrain, but they are not students of history. They claim the lair of the once mighty Doushi.”

“That is what I feared. The Wyrm Path is difficult to climb and will take many days,” Akira muttered.

“Do you remember the history of this place,” Utsuge said as she directed her glances towards Saburo and Yatsen. “The story of the great heroes and how they killed the mighty Doushi?”

“Everyone does Utsuge-dono,” Yatsen said. “They battled through his minions, climbing the mountain to meet him in a final epic battle.”

“History has a way transforming events,” Utsuge sighed. “No one ever told you children whether the climb came from within the mountain or without.”

“A tunnel,” Akira uttered.

“But where might it be Utsuge-dono,” Saburo asked.

“These minions you said the heroes fought through…where were they stationed again,” Utsuge inquired playfully.

“They were all over the old Town, but most of them were-“

“-in the mine,” Saburo and Yatsen exclaimed at once.

“Then it seems as if I have very little left to offer you,” Utsuge declared. “Except this.”

The old seer pointed to a large chest near the gathered companions. She glided over towards where it was and opened it. She removed a number of items: 6 wrapped roots, 3 green fletched black arrows, a silver bracer decorated with engravings and a large sapphire, an elaborate wakazashi marked with the seal of the Unicorn, a simple child’s hand drum, and a regular bamboo flute.

“Disperse these among yourselves anyway you see fit.”

The arrows and 2 of the roots went to Akira, Yatsen received the Wakazashi and the flute, while Saburo took the drum and the bracer.

“The roots will heal your wounds; use them sparingly. Each of these items was at one point wielded by the Kamigishu. These are not gifts but a burden of responsibility; for it is you three who must bear it.”

They each bowed deeply and left the hut. Akira turned to Yatsen and Saburo who were busy admiring their new equipment.

“Now we must go on the hunt!”


First Post
Oh you didn't know??!

R-Hero said:
If only you had, Saburo wouldn't be walking now...... :D

PirateCat, am i reading this right, did you have a hand in writing this module??

R-Hero, I just saw your edit after posting. Yes, Piratecat is the author of the module. If you check out his Storyhour, you will know this to be true;)


First Post
Chapter 7

Akira had proven himself to be as swift and silent as a ghost despite his fervent concentration on the ground in front of him. It was inspiring to watch him move from one depression in the earth to the next, pausing only to confirm that the tasloi had indeed moved according to his predictions. Yatsen and Saburo tried for the first few hours to understand what the man was looking at, but gave up after many ineffectual efforts. No one complained when he called a halt at the base of the mountain.

“It was as I had always suspected,” Akira muttered. “The tasloi have made their way up the mountain side, taking the remnants of the old Wyrm Path. There are no tracks that lead to the Old Mine. This may be good, if we achieve the element of surprise.” Yatsen and Saburo barely had time to catch their breath as the ranger sped towards the entrance.

The once well worn road was badly overgrown with trees and vines, now covered in a blanket of snow making the entrance not immediately obvious. With some searching; however, the three men were able to clear the shroud of snow that enveloped the shaft.

“Strange,” Akira murmured.

The entrance to the Old Mines was clearly a pit that was not intended for use any longer. The 10-foot by 10-foot shaft was sealed in a copper plate that was bolted straight into the ground. Though, interestingly enough, one of the corners had been pried open and a rope been slung down into the shaft.

“This opening is not new. It has been here for many years, you can tell by the pattern of tarnish. The rope is new. It appears to have been placed here less than one half a lunar cycle.”

Akira leaned in to sniff the rope and withdrew with a disgusted grimace.

“The tasloi,” he snarled.

Saburo was about to ask how the man would know such a thing, but refrained as he was deathly afraid of the answer he might receive. I don't get it. Someone opened it years ago and left it like this? Who would have gone down in there? He watched Akira test the rope a few times before deciding it was safe. The man then began rigging a harness on a startled Saburo’s back. A long pole sat snuggly within the straps, atop which a lantern dangled. He said nothing as he began his decent into the darkness. Saburo assumed he was next and so followed closely after the ranger.

The sound of muffled roaring was evident and the air of the shaft was moist even in the dry winter air. Saburo felt comforted by the sight of an old ladder that made its way down the shaft with him. At least I can grab that if something happens to this rope. His decent ended on a creaking wooden platform that must have been suspended over the underground river he was hearing. Mist from the rapids below obstructed his vision despite the lantern. The only place to go was forward and Saburo acquiesced to the Fates as he wanted to get off the platform with all due haste. The passageway carried the group into a large cave supported by pillars, stretching out before them like the ribs of some great beast. Beetles scuttled across the floor, attempting to hide from the source of light that was unfamiliar to them. Eventually the cavern ended in an intersection of worked stone, sending corridors in all directions. In the center of the junction sat three tasloi severed heads, piled atop one another. As the men approached, shedding more light on the ghastly sight, beetles erupted from eye sockets and the skulls began to scream in raspy tones. The screeching took the men by surprise as the noise filled the mines, reverberating off the long stone hallways.

“So much for the element of surprise,” Yatsen mumbled under his breath.

The group trekked onwards and came to another cavern that seemed to house an office of sorts. The small room in the back held a rotten desk with dissolving scrolls that may have contained information on the once prosperous copper mine. Corroded copper chains dangling from the far wall reminded everyone the truth behind this dishonorable enterprise. Searching quickly the group uncovered a few relics of interest: a miniature copper samurai statue, a tarnished copper mirror, and a few crystal shards.

Leaving the side cavern, the group made its way down the long corridor that had initially stretched out before them. Side hallways crisscrossed the passage every 10 feet, providing many opportunities that Akira did not want to explore. The long trek came to a premature end in front of two huge copper doors. They were badly corroded and the air reeked of musk.

Akira began to inspect and test the door, but in short order concluded that it was heavily reinforced and probably impossible to breach. He was about to lead the group back down the hallway to try some of the side passages when a voice hissed from between the cracks of the copper doors in barely comprehensible Rokugani.

“You! You hasss comes back to finisssh the job, eh? To kills the ressst of usss off? Come and killsss me too, if you can, Ssssssssssssssssssss.”

“Listen shadowland spawn,” Akira bellowed. “When I get through these doors, you and the rest of your kind will taste stee-“

“Akira,” Yatsen interrupted.

The man turned to see Saburo and Yatsen; weapons brandished, starring into the edge of the light the lantern provided.

“What is it,” he asked irately.

“Look,” the young man said as pointed; wide eyed, down the corridor.

Akira didn’t see it at first, but the gentle sway of the lantern’s light began to illuminate it. At first he could only hear the long rhythmic grating of something dragging itself across the stone floor. Then it stepped into light. It was taller than a man. Its body was covered in rotting slimy scales. Its face reminded Saburo of a lizard he once saw crawling on his wall as a child…only its flesh had fallen off its bones and the boy could see exposed bone and sinew underneath. The creature raised its arms slowly as it shambled forth, hungrily groping with its razor sharp claws.

“Now you will die you filthy tasloi,” the voice from the other side of the door hissed. “The tribe of Doushi will finally have its revenge!”
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First Post
Chapter 8

Akira exploded into a blur of motion before either of his companions reacted. In an instant, his gaijin swords were in his hands and he had run past the zombie, leaving large slashes across its torso. The impact of such an attack would have killed most men, but the creature was unfazed. Emboldened by the maneuver, both Yatsen and Saburo charged forward. Saburo slashed it from afar, while his friend rushed inside of its long reach and buried his wakazashi in its abdomen to the hilt. It did not so much as shudder from the attack. Horrified, Yatsen looked up into the eyes of his undead opponent as it sunk its claws into the man’s body. He screamed; writhing in pain in a vain attempt to twist free from his foe’s grasp.

“Yatsen,” Saburo yelled as he swung his polearm into the creature’s side. The strike had no effect on the zombie’s grasp.

In its lust for flesh, the mindless corpse had forgotten about its most deadly adversary: Akira. This was all the advantage the ranger needed as he clove the creature’s arms from its body, separating Yatsen from its grasp. Using the momentum from the first strike, Akira continued his motion and used his second sword to decapitate the tortured soul. Before the head of the zombie even hit the ground, the man was upon Yatsen.

“Saburo, uncover your lantern and begin heating a dagger!”

Saburo immediately dropped his naginata and did what he was instructed while Akira ripped the zombie’s appendages out of the terrified Yatsen.

“Wha-what are you going to do,” he asked in a quivering voice as he watched the man snatch the now glowing blade from Saburo’s grasp.

“Try not to move too much. The Shadowlands can spread its taint to anything, but fire is a potent ally against corruption,” Akira said. “Saburo, hold him down.”

Yatsen screamed as the ranger shoved the poker into his gaping wounds. The sickly stench of scorch flesh filled Saburo’s nostrils as he heard the unmistakable hiss of the blade cauterizing tissue. Once the operation was complete and Yatsen was able to stand, Akira turned his attentions back towards the door. This time; however, his face was calm and his demeanor composed.

“Great Overseer,” he began. “We apologize for having mistaken you for a pathetic tasloi. We mean you no harm. We only wish to rid you of the tasloi. I give you my word that we will honor a truce if you would only let us pass.”

“Overseer,” Saburo muttered in confusion.

Akira’s finger shot to his lips.

“Truuuccccceee,” the creature whispered from beyond the door. “Yesssss, thissss would be acccceptable.”

With a loud grinding, the copper doors swung open, revealing the group’s new ally. The once proud descendant of Doushi’s line stood before ravaged by the course of time. His scaly flesh stuck to his bones; once regal robes hung off him in tatters connected by strands from which various small bones dangled. Even though his face was reptilian, Saburo could see the madness in his eyes.

“The tasloi have shattered my tribe. Their leader doesssss not believe in the great Kami Doushi! He is a Maho for sure. He killed many great warriorsssssss, while his men broke passsssst our defenccccesssss. They traveled to the Sssssshrine to befoul it, but the great spirit of Doushi desssssstroyed them! The otherssssss essssscaped.”

“Please, great Overseer,” Akira said. “Show us the way to the Shrine.”

“I cannot. I mussssst hold back the Bonetangle. Take the mine shafts north then east. You ssshall find what you ssseeeek.”

Bowing, Akira led the group down the worked corridors of stone as he was instructed by the strange shaman. As soon as they were out of earshot, Saburo couldn’t contain his curiosity any longer.

“Was that really an Overseer from the time of the Kamigishu?”

“Perhaps,” Akira replied nonplussed. “The term; as you know well, was used as a sign of respect by our ancestors towards their cruel taskmasters. As he is probably the only remaining survivor, he is by default the leader of his tribe.”

“But do you think he was one back then,” Saburo asked excitedly.

“The Dragonmen were gifted with some of Doushi’s powers and it wouldn’t surprise me to discover that their lifespan is in the centuries. Perhaps only one generation went by after the fall of Doushi. The survivors must have hid in the mining tunnels all this time, trying to salvage what remained of their shattered lives. When the mines were sealed, they were in a sense protected as no one would ever go down. I’m sure they continued to worship Doushi in the hopes that he would somehow return and save them. How sad.”

As they rounded the bend, it became obvious to everyone that they had reached their destination. Everyone was immediately drawn to the huge stone statue of a dragon seated against the far wall. It looked ready to pounce with its wings unfurled, staring down into the room. Its eyes were made of huge faceted blue gems, which caught and threw the firelight across the room at them. In front of the statue was a giant copper bowl filled with leaping fire. The bowl was on a huge stone block, which stood directly underneath the statue’s gaping maw.

“Do you think the tasloi were struck down by the spirit of Doushi,” Yatsen asked no one in particular.

“Doushi is dead,” Akira stated. “No doubt they found the tunnel and were not in fact whisked away by some long dead dragon’s mystical powers. Help search the room for anything useful.”

The group combed the room for many hours before discovering anything of use. Yatsen translated the carvings on the wall that were written in High Rokugani. They revealed not much in the way of practical information as the writing was propaganda for Doushi’s rule. However, he did discover that one of the panels showed Doushi with another dragon, staring over the offering bowl. Saburo; on the other hand, found that the fire emitting from the bowl gave off no heat and discovered many offerings within: a copper dragon sculpture, turquoise, a spear, a stone necklace, the rotting head of a tasloi, various coins minted by the Empire, and the empty wooden frame of a hand mirror. Akira discovered tiny crystal shards near the wall directly opposite the statue. Right above those shards was an indentation in the wall with no carvings.

“I always thought Doushi was the only dragon in the stories,” Yatsen murmured.

“Yes, a strange carving indeed,” Akira intoned. “Perhaps he craved a mate.”

“I don’t think so,” Saburo said. “Doushi; from the legends, loved himself and his power so much he could not share it with anyone. He kept secrets from his own tribe of worshippers. Clearly the Overseer did not know about the tunnel or he would have told us about it by now. No, Doushi was a loner for sure. What did you say you found again Akira?”

“It turns out that the shards I found were actually pieces of a mirror,” the ranger answered.

“Mirror…,” Saburo repeated. His eyes glazed over for a moment before lighting up again with realization. “I’ve got it,” he exclaimed.

“What do you get,” Yatsen asked.

“You said you saw TWO dragons in the carvings. All this time we were thinking that the other dragon was not Doushi!”

“So,” Akira grumbled.

“Both pictures are of Doushi! Or rather the reflection of Doushi. Quickly Akira, give me the copper mirror you found earlier,” Saburo said excitedly.

Taking the mirror, Saburo quickly ran to the wall opposite the statue and placed it into the indentation the ranger had found. The light reflecting in the statue’s eyes immediately intensified, sending a sapphire beam of light at the copper mirror, which was reflected back into the gems. The whole room was bathed in an azure glow as the sapphires burned with power.

The mirror began to shake from the power of the beam before exploding into tiny fragments. The statue’s eyes continued to burn bright blue as it folded its wings into its body and stepped forward, revealing a small passage behind.

“Quickly,” Akira shouted as he ran past the animated dragon.

Both men followed the ranger down the winding passageway for a few moments before they heard the unmistakable sound of the statue repositioning itself on the wall.

“I guess we have no choice but to go forward now,” Akira declared.

The tunnel was fairly large and perfectly smooth. It ran a few hundred feet before ending in a sheet of thundering water. Saburo could barely hear himself think, but was able to make out the sound of something…no, someone singing. It’s beautiful, he thought. Passing through the waterfall, the group found themselves in grotto. The luminescent waters hammered down from unseen heights above to end in the underground lake. Clouds of mist rose up from the glowing water, obscuring the figure that Saburo knew was the source of the wonderful melody.

“Yatsen…Saburo, help me hook this rope onto the stairs above-,” Akira paused.

Standing stark naked in the middle of the hazy lake was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her long red hair covered her like a gossamer kimono. Her voice carried above the din of the cascade. She smiled at the men as she slowly ran the freezing water over her body. Akira knew something was wrong, but his mind felt clouded. Focusing his thoughts on getting to the staircase above, he began to struggle to ignore the woman’s presence…it was difficult.

“This ramp must lead to the lair,” Akira said.

Yatsen and Saburo; however, did not hear. They slowly had made their way over to where the woman was standing, introducing themselves. Saburo had already taken his overcoat off and given it to the woman.

“Thank you,” the woman purred.

Saburo smiled as he began to shiver uncontrollably.

“This is Yatsen,” he stammered. “My name is Saburo and that is Akira.”

“My name is Velea and I am so glad you are here,” she responded with a smile.
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