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Wild Stewardess Action! - And Madness Followed COMPLETE!

barsoomcore

Unattainable Ideal
Okay, here's the Story Hour associated with the game I run for a bunch of friends, most of whom are Air Canada flight attendants. The group also included Mrs. Barsoom and a geography teacher. All women, all in their late twenties, early thirties, all smart and funny and more than ready for a little butt-kicking action.

The game was based on the setting described here

These have been great game sessions and I can only hope my writing does them proud. As I always do, I've adapted freely from the source material, so large portions of this are made up, but the bulk of what happened is true-to-life.

As in my other story hours, no rules, no descriptions of dice rolls or anything like that. I like to read that stuff, but I can't write it. This is what you get.

Hope you like it....

Oh, and should point out that this takes place on Barsoom, the same campaign world as my Barsoom Tales story hour. You may not see any crossover yet, but it's coming...

The entire run of the Story Hour to date is contained in the attached text files, for those who'd rather read it that way. I sure like comments, though, so feel free to add yours to the end of the thread! Oh and for some reason the attachments appear to be in more or less random order -- they're numbered in the order they're supposed to be read in, at least.

Thanks!
 

Attachments

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barsoomcore

Unattainable Ideal
"It must be spirits," intoned Li Fa. "Be wary."

The other women glanced at each other before turning to their elder comrade.

"Well, maybe, Fa," Tong Shan began, leaning her tall frame against a tree trunk, "But it sure just smells like somebody's cooking."

Fa's expression turned as dark as her robes.

"Explain the sounds."

The five women paused and listened. Muen Wei-Yong shrugged.

"Sounds like somebody singing, Fa. I mean, it COULD be spirits, sure, but..."

Hsia Lin Lin smiled brightly.

"I'll go check!"

Without another word the slender young woman turned and dashed off into the trees, quickly out of sight through the undergrowth. Her passage was silent and the other four remained standing at the side of the mountain road, listening to distant singing.

Shan frowned.

"If it IS spirits, Lin Lin's going to need help."

Fa put a hand on her friend's shoulder.

"We'll hear her if anything happens."

Shan nodded, but kept a hand on the hilt of her katana. She caught Wei-Yong's eye and made sure the other woman had an arrow nocked on her longbow. Mau Li, Wei-Yong's "pet" wolf, was nowhere to be seen, but Shan was confident the rangy creature was nearby and would give warning if anyone came near.

Zheng Ming-Wa muttered to herself, "Goddess protect us," a quick prayer that triggered immediate repetition from all her companions.

The singing drifting down through the trees was foreign, exotic to their ears. These mountains formed the western border of the Goddess' lands and so the idea that barbarians might be found here was not surprising, but none of them had heard anything quite like this haunting melody.

Somewhere up in these mountains, Jing Zhou ran for his life. They'd nearly caught up with the Jade Razor fanatic in the city of Pangdong, but he'd eluded the Angels there and continued to stay one step ahead of them. Without Wei-Yong's ability to follow the slightest trace, they would have lost the trail long ago. Ming-Wa especially looked forward to catching up with the criminal -- he was a top leader of the Jade Razors, a secret society dedicated to overthrowing the Goddess -- and there was nobody Ming-Wa hated more than enemies of the Goddess.

Taking advantage of their momentary rest on the road, Ming-Wa bowed her head and began to pray for guidance. Shan and Wei-Yong rolled their eyes at each other, then took up a wary guard as Mau Li growled once.

"It's me, silly!"

Lin Lin bounced onto the road and raced to the others, ever so slightly out of breath but grinning.

"Come on! It's an inn, there's singing and the food smells even better up close!"

They all looked to Fa to see the older woman's reaction.

"You didn't see any spirits?"

"Just barbarians. But they seem friendly enough, and the place looks like it's run by a Tianese. Come on. I'm hungry."

Shan's stomach rumbled noisily and she grinned at Lin Lin.

"I don't care if they ARE spirits. I'm as hungry as you. Come on, Fa, what's the worst that could happen?"

Fa raised her eyebrows and Shan's forehead furrowed as she applied herself to remembering.

"Okay, that was pretty bad. But it wasn't my fault. They had balloons."

*****

The inn rested a few yards back from the road, a ramshackle affair of bamboo slats, thatch roof and rickety railings around the verandah outside. Smoke curled from the stone chimney in the dusk air, rising slowly and steadily and revealing the stillness of the atmosphere. Wei-Yong, Mau Li padding silently at her side, frowned as they approached.

"Not enough birds."

"I can hear birds."

"Yeah, but there should be more."

Lin Lin nodded, trying to be serious. "Yeah. Okay. More birds."

Soon they were close enough that the music coming from within the roadhouse drowned out any number of birds. And the delicious smell of roasting meat was making even Ming-Wa's mouth water. As a group they strode up the steps and threw open the doors.

The music did not stop upon their entrance. They found a wide common room, floored with rough planks, centered around a large firepit that fed into the chimney overhead. A crowd of barbarians sat at one end, weaving back and forth as they played their instruments or banged their fists on the low tables, keeping time with the young woman singing. Several turned their heads to inspect the new arrivals, a couple grinning at the sight of five women suddenly in their midst.

"Ah! Respectable guests! Beautiful ladies! Welcome, welcome!"

An elderly Tianese man bowed his way up to where they stood, grinning toothlessly. He gestured, keeping well clear of Mau Li.

"Please, sit down, and be welcome. All are welcome at Kam's. Please, please."

The five Angels (and the wolf) followed and sat at a table as old Kam indicated. Shan asked for wine and food and the old fellow tottered off, only to return in seconds with cups, a loaf of bread and skewers dripping with fat, fresh from the fire.

Long experience together had taught the women that being polite only meant Shan would eat everything herself, so for several minutes there was no talking while they satisfied a days' worth of hunger. As Ming-Wa was wiping her fingers on the hankerchief she always carried, somebody stepped between her and the fire. She looked up to find the barbarian woman staring down at them all. She held a throwing axe in either hand.

"Strangers. This is a peaceful place. If you have come seeking trouble, I promise you you will find it."

The five women watched in silence as the barbarian twirled her axes around her wrists, sending the sharp edges whirling in a deadly pattern of flashing steel.

Wei-Yong nudged Shan, "Show her yours, Shan. Yours is better."

The barbarian jumped back as Shan started to draw her sword, but Fa restrained her friend with a gesture. She turned to the visitor.

"We are servants of the Goddess, barbarian. We seek trouble only for her enemies."

Shan and Wei-Yong tore off chunks of bread and held them at the ready.

The woman eyed the Angels suspiciously, but nodded.

"I have heard of your Goddess. We are not her enemies."

Ming-Wa tried to begin a sermon, but choked as Shan and Wei-Yong stuffed the bread chunks into her open mouth.

The barbarian woman sat down.

"I am Haan Shi. Perhaps you are seeking the stranger who came here two days ago?"

Fa nodded. Everybody ignored Ming-Wa's half-verbalized comments as she tried to swallow the bread. Haan Shi studied the group, then nodded, some decision made.

"We didn't see him, but Kam told us about him. Perhaps it was he who denied me my betrothed. Chow Siu-Keung was to come and meet me here last night so that we could be married in the manner of my people. He did not come, and so I sing here, hoping he will come to me."

Wei-Yong scribbled a couple of notes and waved the elderly innkeeper over. Several of the barbarian men were trying to catch the eyes of the Angels. Lin Lin smiled at everyone, while Shan sized them up like a breeder looking over the latest batch of puppies.

Kam nodded as he joined the conversation.

"That man... Yes, yes, he came here, two nights ago. He was strange. I did not like him, but I was afraid. He stayed overnight, upstairs. The next morning he went on -- the village is only a few more hours up the road. I was glad he left."

The old man's eyes lowered and his face seemed to sink in upon itself.

"Until I found Hsu Ki. She was wandering on the road, crying. She said, she said that everyone joined the stranger. They... tore down the statue... "

Ming-Wa touched his hand.

"What statue, sir?"

"The statue of the Goddess."

"Where is this Hsu Ki now?"

"Dead."

Fa stood up.

"I knew it. Spirits. Come on, let's take a look at this room he was in."

They had crossed perhaps half of the room and were between the firepit and the haphazard staircase to the second floor when both Wei-Yong and Lin Lin stopped in their tracks.

Bowstrings went taut outside then released.

Wei-Yong recognized the sound a split-second before Lin Lin did. She threw out an arm and slammed Ming-Wa to the ground, kicked over a table and dropped prone next to her startled friend. Arrowheads thudded into the tabletop.

Lin Lin flexed her legs and leapt straight up to snatch the bottom of one of the banners dangling from the rafters. She flipped herself up just as barbed shafts bulletted through the room, splintering the bamboo walls and buzzing angrily through the air.

Fa stood unmoving, not flinching even as one buzzed past her face, but Shan grunted and swore at the impact of an arrow breaking itself on her breastplate. She looked once to make sure Ming-Wa was safe, shoved Fa at the steps and ran for the doorway. Wei-yong leapt up and joined her friend. They threw open the doors and looked out at the torchlight yard.

Eight swords hissed out of eight sheaths. The tall bald man, bulging with muscles, gestured with both fists and his minions roared and charged the doorway.

Shan grinned.

"I thought we'd never have any fun up here."
 

Skade

First Post
The banter is great. "Yeah. Okay. More birds." Its pretty cool that you left the session in a cliffhanger. How did the flight attendants like that?
 

Desdichado

Adventurer
barsoomcore, I think you're trying to get a rep 'round here on the Story Hour boards. :D

Here's a question; does this take place in Barsoom somewhere? I'm not clear from reading the campaign description or the title of this thread.
 
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barsoomcore

Unattainable Ideal
Okay, I've been trying this for a while now, and the pics aren't showing up for me, but can anybody else see these?

Tong Shan


Hsia Lin Lin


Zheng Ming-Wa


Muen Wei-Yong


Li Fa


I know, not the sort of pictures you might have been hoping for...
 

barsoomcore

Unattainable Ideal
"Fools! Return the Codex at once! Bring it forth and we might not slaughter you where you stand!"

The big bald guy laughed as his minions neared the inn.

Although Shan and Wei-Yong tensed for the onslaught, neither drew a sword as their opponents charged. Shan frowned in disappointment as six of the eight approaching thugs veered off and crashed right through the loose bamboo walls to either side of the door. Slats bounced across the floor in a rattling fury as the attackers split up, swords waving, and drove for the other occupants of the inn.

Wei-Yong flipped an arrow out of her quiver and snapped up her bow, releasing the thin shaft without apparent effort or care. A sudden ringing cut through the general cacophony as the warrior's sword sprang from his hand, knocked away by her careless shot. The weapon sparkled as it spun through the air to land point-first in front of the bald man where he stood, glaring at the two women. The suddenly disarmed thug's glare lost a good deal of its fire and he froze for just a second.

Shan's frown turned into a gleeful smile as another swordsman charged her. She leaned back just enough to let his blade cut deep into the doorframe beside her face, and then her expression turned fierce enough to startle the man. He stood frozen, sword embedded in the doorframe, as she whipped her katana up and out in a back-handed cut that opened him up from his waist to his shoulder.

He sputtered and fell backwards as Shan flicked the blood of her weapon and smoothly resheathed it. The sword was back at her hip before he hit the mud in the yard.

She sneered.

Behind her, inside the inn, the swordsmen had met equally stiff resistance. Fa, standing at the top of the stairs, turned her imperious stare on the two charging for Ming-Wa. Inky tendrils of shadow oozed around her as she summouned the dark power that served her will, and the two men froze, their swords banging off the floorboards. Across the firepit, two others had run into the barbarians and the clash of steel told of an issue still in doubt.

Shan heard a familiar growl behind her and casually leaned away from Wei-Yong. The fellow her friend had disarmed turned his amazed stare from Wei-Yong to gape over Shan's shoulder. A split-second of terror and then he disappeared in a flash of grey fur as Mau Li cannoned into him, two hundred pounds of angry wolf digging in and holding on as he flew off the verandah, screaming.

Wei-Yong beamed.

"Good girl."

Fa called from inside.

"What's going on out there?"

Shan yelled back, "Bald guy wants his Codex."

"His what now?"

"Hang on, I'll check."

Shan nodded at the now-fuming bald man. "Hey. What's this Codex? Got any more friends?"

He stamped, throwing up a great splash of mud. Neither of them paid the slightest attention to Mau Li's ongoing mauling of the unfortunate thug off to the side.

"My mistress will tear you apart! She is not one to forgive easily and you will die deaths of agony as she tortures you. Return the Codex, thieves, if you wish to live."

Shan leaned back in through the door. "He won't tell me."

Four unarmed men, all bald, all impressively muscled (though not so much as to outshine their leader), stepped out from behind the big guy. They clenched their fists, then exploded in a sudden rush for the inn door.

Neither Shan nor Wei-Yong had time to react with anything other than pure unconscious reflex. Which in Wei-Yong's case meant she put an arrow in either eye of one of the new fellows, while Shan nearly cut another in half. The two surviving leapt right past the women at the door to land in front of the fire-pit. They both struck poses and opened their mouths to begin long, intimidating shrieks.

Shrieks that were unceremoniously cut off when Lin Lin let go of the banner and landed on their heads. Giggling.

The girl bounced to her feet, lashing out in a blinding kick, and a sudden flurry of fists and knees and shins and foreheads blurred back and forth between her and the two men, who managed to circle around and flank her. Lin Lin's eyes were nearly closed, an ecstatic grin on her face as she deflected one attack after another, weaving and ducking between her opponents.

Nearly everyone watching stood in fascination, watching the contest. Except for Shan, who heaved a sigh of boredom. She noticed that there were two of these guys, and only one Lin Lin, and after a bit of math decided that was one guy too many.

Shan couldn't accelerate too fast, but she had enough steps between where she stood at the door and where the fight was happening in front of the firepit that she could build up considerable momentum. Shan in motion was pretty nearly an irresistable force.

Two steps into her charge, Shan saw Lin Lin send one of her opponents flying into the firepit. She chuckled and poured on the speed, leaning forward and extending her arms.

Both Lin Lin and her remaining opponent noticed the onrush of muscle and armour. And both stepped back to let it by. Shan screeched to a halt on the very lip of the firepit, windmilling her arms like mad as she attempted to avoid a faceplant into hot coals.

Lin Lin grabbed a ridge on the back of her friend's armour and snap-kicked herself into the air, planting her left heel solidly under her opponent's chin. His head snapped back and he dropped to the boards without a sound as Shan stumbled back from the edge.

Wei-Yong leaned against the doorframe, keeping one eye on the now-enraged bald man watching his minions get dispatched with such ease.

Ming-Wa got to her feet and set about tying up the swordsmen Li Fa had immobilized. She looked up as the barbarian woman, her embroidered cloak flying, feathered turban flashing, stormed by to stand next to Wei-Yong at the door.

Haan Shi spat noisily and shook her fist at the bald man.

"Leave us in peace, smelly Tianese trash!"

Wei-Yong nodded in approval.

The bald man looked in danger of exploding from apoplectic rage. His face turned red as he shrieked, "The Jasmine Witch will not be denied! You will return the Codex at once or die!"

"Are you watching the same fight I'm watching?"

Wei-Yong looked on as Haan Shi yanked out her throwing axes and went through the same impressive routine she'd used before, spinning the hafted weapons around in a blur of steel before releasing both.

The axes whirled through the air, deadly and true.

And he caught them. Both.

Wei-Yong's eyes widened. She turned back just in time to see both axes hurtle back and plunge themselves into Haan Shi's torso. Knocked backwards by the impact, Haan Shi crashed to the floor and sat staring at the weapons embedded in her front. She gave a quiet groan and collapsed.

Two arrows flew from a single string before Wei-Yong had even consciously acknowledged the event. She seemed to turn to the bald man just as he weaved aside from the shafts.

"Mau Li! Take him down!"

The wolf looked up from the corpse she was still tearing at, followed Wei-Yong's gaze and hurled herself at the man standing there.

And crumpled up with a yelp as his fist connected with her skull.

Ming-Wa heard her friend's cry of anger, and looked up in time to see Shan and Lin Lin fly out the door as Wei-Yong unloaded a stream of arrows, her hands blurring between the quiver and the bowstring.

They had done this a million times before. Shan felt Wei-Yong's arrows buzzing past her head, and brandished her sword, yelling as she charged straight at her opponent. As she neared him, she felt a sudden press against her back, and grinned as Lin Lin leapt onto her shoulder and then tumbled up and over the startled bald man. She plowed into him swordfirst, and lost herself in the ever-thrilling dance of combat, peripherally aware of her friend on the other side, Wei-Yong's shots somehow finding clear space and nicking his arms and face, Lin Lin's shouts and giggles as she kicked and punched and spun like a crazed toy.

Shan wasn't precise like Wei-Yong and she wasn't fancy like Lin Lin. Her sword moved in simple, predictable arcs. Arcs cut with such power that her opponent was forced to retreat, stumbling back from blows so strong the sound of the blade cutting through the air was as loud as Lin Lin's yells. As he back-pedalled, he kept running afoul of Lin Lin, who nearly tripped him flat several times.

He broke free of them both and staggered back a few steps, real fear in his eyes.

"My mistress will boil you alive! You have incurred her wrath and you will pay!"

Wei-Yong lowered her bow, exasperated.

"Would you stop it? You're embarrassing yourself."

They all took a step back as he brandished what looked like a small black bead.

"You have not seen the last of me!"

He threw the bead to the ground and vanished as shadowy darkness coiled up from all around.

"Hey, we're not done with you!"

Inside, Ming-Wa and Fa tended Haan Shi, staunching her wounds while her cohorts looked on anxiously. They looked up as the other three came in, Shan carrying a still-dazed Mau Li. Wei-Yong glared at Fa and Ming-Wa.

"Do we know anything about this Codex? The Jasmine Witch? Who were those clowns?"

Ming-Wa nodded.

"The Jasmine Witch is a sorceress, an enemy of the Goddess. She's supposed to live around Pangdong but nobody's reported a reliable sighting. A Codex is a kind of book, usually magic, isn't that right, Fa?"

The older woman turned her head to look up at the second-floor rooms.

"I want to investigate the room Jing Zhou stayed in. Maybe he took the Codex."

*****

Shan, Wei-Yong and Lin Lin stood in the doorway, watching their friends examine the ordinary-looking sleeping chamber. Fa and Ming-Wa moved silently, turning over cups and reaching under blankets as they sought clues to their quarry's activities.

Ming-Wa wrinkled her nose.

"Doesn't it kind of stink in here?"

Wei-Yong sighed.

"Yes, Ming-Wa, it's not like the Sanctuary where you grew up and everything was perfect and everybody has happy and wasn't it lovely and nice and pretty all the time and isn't it awful how you have to travel around in such grubby conditions, a nice educated girl like you?"

The two women glared at each other for a second. Ming-Wa narrowed her eyes.

"It smells, Wei-Yong, like the ocean. I'm surprised such an alert, outdoorsy type like you, a girl who can hear crickets from miles away, can count the lice in her hair without even looking, failed to notice that. Or maybe you forgot that the ocean is six hundred miles away from here? I know geography is so hard for you."

"Enough, you two." Fa gave each of them a dose of glare and they subsided. "I smell it as well. Ideas?"

Nobody spoke up.

"Ming-Wa, can you do a reading on an object here? One of these blankets?"

The petite woman nodded and knelt next to the blankets. She put her hands on the rough wool and whispered a prayer. Deep within her she felt the tugging of her power, like the notion she'd forgotten something but couldn't quite recall what it was. She relaxed as the familiar words of her prayer guided her into comfortable mental paths, and suddenly she could see him. Jing Zhou.

The Goddess was everything to Ming-Wa. She loved her enigmatic mistress with utter devotion and the thought of somebody rejecting such perfection filled her with loathing and fury, and she controlled her anger as the image of Jing Zhou solidified in her mind.

He opened a sack and took out a heavy, jewel-encrusted book that he laid open before him and began reading aloud from. The sounds that he uttered evaporated Ming-Wa's fury, replacing it with unknowing terror. They were animalistic noises, grunts and squeaks like no language she'd ever heard of, no sound she'd ever heard emitted by a human throat. Long rattling hisses that rose and dipped in an almost-melody of repulsive disharmony. As he continued, it seemed as if voices were joining him, a vast chorus of inhuman voices, distant but thunderous, filling the world with hunger and despair. Ming-Wa's vision faded and she collapsed, weeping uncontrollably, too terrified to speak.

Wei-Yong was first to her side and the group of women returned to downstairs to consider their options. Haan Shi, held upright by two of her companions, confronted them.

"Something terrible has happened. Chow Siu-Keung is in danger. I beg you to help him. Help us all."

The Angels looked at each other. Wei-Yong shrugged.

"Yeah, that's our job."
 


barsoomcore

Unattainable Ideal
The portraits are from WotC's "PC Portraits" feature -- they did an Asian Adventurers theme by Todd Harris -- about whom I know nothing except I LOVE LOVE LOVE his style and he's done a bunch of stuff for Dragon. Google turns up almost nothing on him, so anybody with more info, clue me in!

Did I mention I LOVE his work?
 

ledded

Herder of monkies
Very nice story, I love it. I'm always loving asian-themed stuff, and this does the genre well. Good work.
 

barsoomcore

Unattainable Ideal
I just like making up the names and then saying them.

Hsia Lin Lin. Chow Siu-Keung. Li Fa.

It pleases me immensely.
 

barsoomcore

Unattainable Ideal
Two dogs tussled over something down an alley between houses that stood blank and empty, doors hanging open and windows unshuttered. Their growls echoed down the main street as the Angels walked five abreast into town.

Nobody came out to greet them. A shutter creaked back and forth in the fitful breeze. Emerging stalks of rice waved in the water-filled paddies that surrounded the village. High summer, yet nobody working the fields. Even Lin Lin was quiet. Only the ongoing growls from the dogs offered any sign of life.

Shan looked over in frustration.

"What are those beasts fighting over?"

Wei-Yong turned to look more closely.

Her knees thudded into the dust of the road and she convulsed, vomiting helplessly. The others rushed to assist her.

A human head, its face torn in an expression of agony, hung suspended in the jaws of the larger dog as the other leapt and snapped, trying to yank the prize from its sibling.

Wei-Yong shook off offers of help.

"I'm okay. I just... I just saw something. Those dogs... "

She took a breath and got unsteadily to her feet.

"Something terrible has happened here."

She stared down the main street with murderous intent.

"Something terrible."

*****

They rounded the corner and stood looking across the main square, at the base of what had once been a statue of the Goddess. The statue itself lay in the dust to one side.

Ming-Wa cried out at the sight and ran for the fallen idol, flanked by Shan and Wei-Yong. Fa and Lin Lin turned at a sudden voice nearby.

"Welcome! Welcome to Wei Ming! Welcome!"

A little old lady waved at them from the shade of the teahouse, where two other figures sat motionless. Fa and Lin Lin shrugged at each other and headed towards her. She continued to smile and babble as they approached.

"A beautiful day. Welcome! Tea? Please, sit down. Welcome! Strangers are always welcome in Wei Ming. Welcome!"

As they neared the steps up to the shaded potico of the teahouse, Fa experienced a surge of dread. Those figures sitting at the table, as she watched them, her skin seemed to seethe with revulsion. She made a quick hand signal to Lin Lin to be watchful and smiled at the old lady.

"Thank you. It is a beautiful day, praise the Goddess. And may She smile on your town today."

At the mention of the Goddess, the two figures turned.

"Your puny, stinking Goddess is nothing to us. Death is nothing to us. We will be free!"

Lin Lin's eyes widened.

"I don't want any tea, thanks."

*****

Ming-Wa fell to her knees in front of the broken statue, imploring the Goddess for aid. Wei-Yong put a hand on her friend's shoulder and patted it awkwardly.

Though none of them possessed devotion quite as absolute as Ming-Wa's, all of the Angels were loyal servants of the Goddess and the sight of this desecration offended them deeply. Shan stared at the broken statue, a slow rage burning deep within her. She knelt and brushed dirt from a sacred face she'd known all her life, reverent and furious at the same time.

"Jing Zhou. That bastard."

Wei-Yong nodded.

"We'll find him. And we'll deal with him."

"We'll tear him apart!"

Ming-Wa spat in her anger.

"We'll take him all the way back to Zuyang and the Goddess herself will skin him alive!"

"Yeah. We'll get him."

*****

Fa and Lin Lin started to back out of the teahouse.

The figures before them rose up, eyeless sockets gaping. Blood smeared their faces and flies buzzed incessantly. The old lady sank to the floor, screaming in terror and curling into a ball.

Shan, Ming-Wa and Wei-Yong turned at the sudden burst of screaming. They took a step towards the teahouse and then froze as from the far side of the square emerged a row of shambling, hooded figures. The stink of rotting flesh rolled across the plaza.

Shan swore an imaginative oath that had something to do with the Goddess' tan lines. Ming-Wa had just enough presence of mind to look offended.

Fa looked over her shoulder, took in the line of figures staggering past, and tapped Lin Lin on the shoulder.

"These two are yours, sweetie. I'm going to deal with those ones."

Lin Lin nodded, drew both her sai and leapt at the two coming across the teahouse while Fa stepped outside and raised her arms. Meaty smacks behind her told of Lin Lin's efforts.

Black smoke seemed to swirl up around her, reaching outwards in a growing circle of darkness, sucking at any vegetation it could grasp, drying out the soil in the ground and the planks of the teahouse. As she always did, Fa experienced a moment of terror at the hungry power she commanded, but she bent her will and performed mammoth calculations in her head, the values and operations multiplying endlessly as she thought her way down coldly rational corridors, forcing her mind into the exact pattern that would trigger the energy of Shadow to alter reality in precisely the manner she sought.

Fa shuddered as the power leapt to her will and the ground exploded at her feet. The explosion raced away from her, dirt and soil flying upwards as though a gigantic, frenzied mole were burrowing at immense speed just beneath the surface, charging straight at the advancing figures and sending them flying in a noisy blast of sorcery.

Limbs, torsos, heads, boulders and lumps of soil tumbled back to the earth in the wake of Fa's spell, crashing down into the ruined plaza. Shan's sword flew back and forth as she dismembered a few that had escaped destruction, but Fa saw in horror that three had avoided both her spell and Shan's attention and ow advanced on Ming-Wa.

The young woman stepped back from the horrible creatures advancing on her, and then braced herself, raised one hand to her temple and extended the other out before her. She closed her eyes. The three figures before reached out, hissing, but then withdrew as a strange glow suffused the girl's slender form. The shimmering haze brightened, then lashed out, cutting the creatures into pieces.

Ming-Wa opened her eyes and straightened up as wet chunks hit the ground in front of her. She raised her eyes.

"Thank you, Goddess."

*****

Fa knelt and tried to comfort the screaming old woman.

"It's okay, Auntie. They're gone now. Tell us what happened here. Where is everybody? Where is Chow Siu-Keung?"

The woman's wild eyes unnerved Fa more than the undead creatures they had just fought. She stared about, unseeing, frantic.

"He made us... He made us do that! He made us eat that! My little boy! My little Gan won't play with me anymore! They're waiting in the fields for me! They're waiting!"

Wei-Yong turned away from the woman's desperate pleading. Steeling herself, she walked into the alley and squatted, watching a dog ten feet away. The dog cocked its head and then padded over to her, sniffed at her hand and started to lick.

- What happened here?

Everything good.

- Good? Why good?

So much food.

- What food?

Flesh.


She reeled back as the dog growled and snapped at her, and hurried to join her friends. Shan looked a question and she shook her head.

"They're waiting in the fields? I don't like the sound of that."

The women surveyed what they could see of the rice paddies from where they stood. Wei-Yong's gaze seized on a farmhouse some distance from the village center, perched between water-filled paddies. She nudged Shan.

"Look. That one place. It's all boarded up."

Shan cracked her knuckles.

"Breaking down doors is always fun."

"That's my girl."

*****

"Back! Back, foul creatures! Back to the filth you came from!"

Shan scowled.

"I don't smell."

Lin Lin smiled.

"I don't think he's talking about you, Shan. He probably thinks you're one of those no-eyed zombie things."

Shan tried to work that out, but shook her head and thundered her shoulder into the door once again. The panel and its supporting planks gave way this time, and the big woman stumbled into a disorderly room, furniture overturned and broken and hiding behind a table at the back of the room, an old man waved a knife at her.

"Back! Back!"

He blinked.

"You have eyes."

"Pretty ones, I'm told."

The old man stumbled forward, the knife falling from his hands. He dropped to his knees.

"The Goddess herself has sent you to us! Save us!"

"Yeah, yeah. Where'd the stranger go? Jing Zhou? The bad guy, where is he?"

He lifted a shaky arm and pointed up into the hills overlooking the town.

"He has defiled the holy resting places of our ancestors. He has made a mockery of our homes and our faith. Even now he blasphemes their caverns. Help us! Drive him out!"

Ming-Wa turned to stare up into the hills, her expression cold.

"We'll drive him out, alright."
 


Skade

First Post
And finally, I read a story hour. :) I want to read more of them, really I do, but its so hard to get into reading something on the screen, and turning it into a legible text doc is more work than I care for usually. I'm glad I started in on this one right from the beginning.

I'm loving it. The scene with the dog was perfectly creepy, and the whole scene builds the horror aspect wonderfully. Do the girls already know backstory on teh villain, or is that going to be revealed in game?
 


barsoomcore

Unattainable Ideal
Skade said:
Do the girls already know backstory on teh villain, or is that going to be revealed in game?
The girls don't know anything you don't know, at this point. Even less, actually, since you know the rules and they didn't even know THAT much.

There will be some but not huge amounts of backstory revelation. I'm a "don't explain, let them find out later" sort of DM.
 

Eyas

First Post
ledded said:
*Great* update. Very creepy, I love the dogs.
Yes, very good. I love the feel of the adventure.

Shame on you, ledded, for not telling me of this story :)

I look forward to more.
 

ledded

Herder of monkies
Eyas said:
Yes, very good. I love the feel of the adventure.

Shame on you, ledded, for not telling me of this story :)

I look forward to more.

Um... yeah, uh, Eyas, dude, there's this story hour, and it's pretty cool, and, um... yeah never mind ;)
 

barsoomcore

Unattainable Ideal
Wei-Yong frowned. Beside her, Mau Li pricked up her ears and cocked her shaggy head up at her mistress.

"Does anybody else see that?"

Ming-Wa sighed.

"No, Wei-Yong, nobody else can count the feathers on a sparrow from two miles away. What is it?"

"Something flying."

"Flying? Perhaps it's a bird."

"It doesn't have wings."

"Then how is it flying?"

Wei-Yong looked away from the distant object to study her friend.

"I presume," she said carefully, "It involves magic."

Ming-Wa nodded.

"I see."

Stepping out of the cave, Fa shielded her eyes and looked where Wei-Yong had indicated.

"I can see it. Wei-Yong, you must be able to make out more details now. If you're done baiting Ming-Wa, perhaps you could tell us what it is?"

"Sorry, Fa."

The tall woman squinted into the sunshine.

"There's two people, sitting on something flat. I think one's a woman and the other is a man."

"The Jasmine Witch, I presume?"

Shan looked down the hillside, where thirty or forty more figures shambled slowly towards them. They'd come clawing out of the rice paddies as the women had made their way up the hill.

"Maybe she'll get tied up with them."

Fa nodded.

"Let's get down this shaft. Jing Zhou's got to be down there somewhere."

"Why not let this Jasmine Witch deal with him? That's got to be her Codex he's got."

Ming-Wa shook her head.

"No. Jing Zhou is ours. He has offended the Goddess and descrated her glory. It must be us who deliver justice. The Jasmine Witch works against the Goddess as well. If she gets in our way, we'll destroy her, too."

The other women looked around at each other. Nobody could find anything to say.

Finally Lin Lin grinned and squeaked, "So we're going down the hole? Great. I'll go first."

And with that she ran over to the circular hole that dropped away into darkness and jumped.

Head-first.

Shan, Fa, Wei-Yong and Ming-Wa used the ladder.

Lin Lin plunged downwards, and just caught a notion of the onrushing floor quickly enough to be able to curl up and roll out in a lightning pop-up to her feet, bouncing several times as she waited for her friends to climb down. The ground was hard-packed earth, and she wrinkled her nose at the briny salt-water smell.

"It smells like the ocean down here, too! Jing Zhou's gotta be down here somewhere!"

"Well," said Wei-Yong, her breath a little strained with the effort of lowering herself and the wolf draped around her neck, "If he is, I guess he knows we're coming, now."

Lin Lin shadow-boxed excitedly as her friends joined her.

"Good! You hear that, Jing Zhou? We're coming for you!"

Fa lit a candle she'd scrounged from the old man's house and held it up, shielding the guttering flame with her hand.

Around them stone walls, rough-hewn and covered in dust, stretched away on two sides, forming passages leading in opposite directions. Footsteps tramped through the dust in all directions, impossible to track, though Mau Li nosed about in an interested fashion. Fa shrugged and led them in one direction, away from the dim circle of light at the base of the shaft.

As the candle's light travelled down the meandering passage, Wei-Yong nocked an arrow to her bow and Shan kept one hand on her swordhilt. They both tensed as the rock walls came together before them, forming a small room that had once been a simple chapel to the Goddess.

Had been, but was now befouled. Ming-Wa cried out in shock and horror at the lewd scrawls on the walls, defacing what had once been humble depictions of the Goddess and Her goodness. Mau Li poked her nose towards the brownish smears and jerked back, growling. Heavy feet had ground incense sticks into the earth and kicked over the small idols, trodden offerings of rice cakes and pine fronds into the dirt.

After a quick look, Fa turned about and led them the other way. Nobody spoke.

Past the shaft they'd descended the tunnel began to rise in a slow series of irregular steps, layers of shale worn smooth by countless feet. The smell grew worse, like a tide pool too long in the sun, festering. Fa slowed as the narrow passage opened to the left, revealing a small alcove with a waist-high font that had once, presumably, distributed clean water for visitors to purify themselves with.

Now it was clogged with putrefying slime, limp drapes of green gleaming in the candle's glow. All the five women (and the one wolf) recoiled from the alcove and, except for the wolf, made warding gestures of the Goddess at the desecration. The stairs continued past the alcove and with a brief look round at the others, Fa continued on her way up.

"Put out the candle, Fa, there's light up ahead."

At Wei-Yong's careful instruction, Fa blew on the candle and they all stood silently as their eyes adjusted. Indeed, as Wei-Yong had stated, a faint glow came from up the stairs. Only barely enough to see by but as they climbed the light grew stronger and they stepped out of the rough passage into a finely-worked hall that opened into a hellish scene.

A corpse sprawled supine on a crude table, entrails strewn from the body. Other corpses splayed against the wall, held in place with iron spikes crushed through their limbs. The stink was horrific (Wei-Yong threw up again) and the images of blasphemy and foulness so unnerved the women that they could barely remain standing. Mau Li whimpered.

Ming-Wa, sobbing, turned away and found a small shrine, set up with dozens of tiny stone idols. Ancestor worship, she realised, but the idols were each defaced with a strange clay seal. Uttering a cry of disgust, Ming-Wa tore at the little stone statuettes, breaking the seals from them. Shan and Wei-Yong saw what she was doing and after a moment of comprehension, joined in.

Lin Lin stood unhappily, frowning. She rubbed at her hands and watched Li Fa go around the room, studying the desecrations and murmuring to herself.

The hall, besides opening into this chamber, also opened into two narrow hallways, both of which ended in heavy wooden doors. Lin Lin was watching Li Fa make her way around the chamber when one of the doors opened. She turned, alert and happy for a distraction.

The two rotting corpses that shuddered out the open doorway somehow carried none of the horror of those displayed in the chamber behind her. Lin Lin dropped low to the ground and spun backwards, extending one leg in a whirling kick that knocked both of the approaching figures to the stone floor. Her sai glittered in her hands as she slammed them downwards, breaking apart the half-decayed heads of her opponents. They stopped moving as Lin Lin checked herself for sprayed bits.

"Everything's okay! Don't worry."

Wei-Yong, now that the idols had been restored to their unsealed state, looked past her friend into the dark chamber beyond. Hundreds of figures pressed forward, hands reaching out, closing in on the doorway.

"I'm going to worry, all the same."
 


COMING SOON: 5 Plug-In Settlements for your 5E Game

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