Kindred of the East: Crimson Empires

2/9- The Tale of a Stone Cutter or The Tale of the Arabian Carpet

The night began with a prolonged meditative absence from Konda, wishing to find peace from the Wu for a time. The others spoke softly to see what plans they could resolve without him. All and all, their list was fairly substantive.

Johnny wished to explore the caverns some more. It was unknown if he did this to protect the Wu from his own impulsive nature, or if he genuinely thought there might be something of value in the caverns. Regardless, he elected to spend a few days spelunking. The remainder of the Wu turned their eye back to the city.

They met with the ambitious whore-turned-gangster and quickly arranged for the site of the warehouse for their archaeological designs. Protections were arranged, and one faction of mortal gang was subtly placed against another to test the others for weakness and exploitation should it come to that. Their mortal follower met with his apothecary mentor and learned many fascinating things, not the least of which was the presence of a mortal Mage somewhere in the city, and that he himself worked for a potent Kuei-Jin who had not been seen in some time. Shinshi meanwhile had his future read and received many troubling and uplifting insights. The city, it seemed, would be well theirs far sooner than anticipated.

Back in the caverns, Johnny found a fascinating tale of the Candle Dragon, one of the creation myths of old. A series of tunnels with bizarre and dangerous traps lined the way. Through careful and meticulous study, the Tiger was able to navigate them and avoid several moments of blindness along the way. At the end tests, a magical carpet showed the way to a library that was once the envy of the Kuei-jin world. Tucked away and forgotten for eons, this bastion of knowledge held several lifetimes worth of study. A polite lady dragon spirit occupied the room and navigated them through with demure alacrity. The Wu quietly agreed to tell no one of this place, not even their mentors- such a room would surely lead to shadow-wars without the politeness.

The Wu eventually gathered in the library to go over that night’s finds and to plot for the next day. There was a serial killer they had some interest in, and there were still tainted places within the city they had a mind to investigate. The studied for a bit and set off at the close of the day.

It didn’t take them long to find some appropriate Dragon Lines and a few strung out drug addicts. It seemed that the offices of Ling Kong, master Stone Mason was now being used as a drug den of sorts. They quickly found the building and infiltrated it with the usual amount of ease. Inside were several bakemono and sloth banes. A battle ensued and their enemies were either vanquished or brought into submission. A deal was struck with the banes and the tainted dragons nest was left largely intact. They found that the master stone mason was not inside. A quick discussion among the Wu yielded that a master of stone would be necessary to bring their caverns back in line. There could be no hesitation; he was needed. Especially with the impending loss of their master of metal.

Master Kong, in seemed, was being held in the stone quarry. They had cut too deeply into the earth and released a potent Yin spirit, twisted and evil. It seemed to wish a war against the Empress, and had built a vast array of forces to do just that against her legion of terracotta guardians. The Wu was faced with a choice- act now, while the mortal was likely still alive, or seek spiritual reinforcements to battle the army and likely lose the prize they sought to preserve. Time was precious in these matters…. tick-tock…

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1/26- Little Wu in 'Big' City

The Wu, for the first time in recent memory, didn’t wake with a need to murder or defend themselves. While a pleasant change, it was unexpected. After a brief banter on their next move, it was decided that they would go back to the city and collect some of their resources.

They went back to their spineless fence and found him to be hosting a rather impressive gangster heavy party. Their armored SUVs were in the front, and people were hanging off the balcony. It was impressive that the building didn’t fall from the bass it was emitting. The fortune teller had made an impressive clean up, and it was clear that three other local gangs were in attendance (14k, Red Hand and Yeng She Tong). After a bit of posturing, they decided to collect the fence and find their AWAL blacksmith.

When we arrived in their outward village, several demonic bakemono ambushed them. A quick battle (and then prolonged torture) later, they found that these had come down from the hills. They worked for a demonic jailer and it seemed they needed weapons for a war that was beginning or about to begin.

The blacksmith agreed to complete his work if they could provide a new forge. He was taken to the Temple and shown around a bit. During the process to move the blacksmith, they ran into some police. A rather… dicy bout with their Po resulted in a murdered police officer and half the Wu barricading themselves in a hovel. Promptly the blacksmith decided to end his services once his contracted duties were completed.

Meanwhile, the fortune teller made a rather fortuitous power-play and replaced the spineless fence as the Wu’s go-to gal in the city. She gathered the criminal leaders of the city and forged them into a single collaborative with help of the Wu’s intimidating presence. Still, the whole thing seemed entirely too easy.

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1/12- Temple of the Celestial Cloud

The next night within the Grottos was a productive, but costly one for the Wu.

At the start of the evening, Takeshi sacrificed some of the park rangers to appeal their fiery Nushi and earn his way back into the Wu, which he did. Almost as important was Konda’s discovery of a lineage within the park rangers of those who had watched this sacred place for generations. They worked out a simple code to ensure, in the future, when mortals shouldn’t be present.

Further in the cave structures, the newly united Wu began exploring once more. They found a series of tunnels and traps. The path to the right led to a tiled sort of puzzle rigged with fire and arrows and moments of blindness. The path ended in a workshop to further create more traps, to which Johnny quickly fell victim to his own impulsiveness and nearly halted the advancement of the Wu. Instead, the spirit of creation was appeased and the way forward unlocked. The path to the left held traps of animated statues and jade creations that either granted or stripped Chi from those that interacted with it. The purpose of the way seemed to be to tell a story, and an important one. However, like a puzzle without a framework, the Wu still seems to be struggling for the wisdom to interpret it correctly.

With all the trial’s passed, the Wu came to a moonlight garden filled with ghosts of the dead and their ceremonial markers. This is where the LuShang line had been paid homage for their years of dedicated devotion. The ghosts of the area guide the Wu to the greatest treasure found in the grottos to date: the fallen Temple of the Celestial Cloud.

In times long past, this area had served as a school where multiple dharmic paths could come and discuss their differences and collectively work to attaining enlightenment. This place had once been the center for dharmic creation and growth. Forgotten for years, it lay in ruin. The Wu quickly took up the task of establishing this area as their new base of operations.

The area was cleaned, mapped, and arranged to show growth possession. Most curious were spots for shifting creatures, specifically a fox and shark. The shark area was burned and scarred. The history of the place is still somewhat elusive, but the wu was able to piece together stories of the past where the traitorous Xao Lot had infiltrated this place with his childer. The shark of old had tried to warn others only to find deaf ears. There was a battle and this place was abandoned shortly after. A curious area to be sure…

As the Wu settled in, they began bringing what few mortal followers they had into the Grotto to establish trust and their new havens. The place would need to be modernized a bit to contend with the world they currently resided in, of course. And they would need to find their army as in nights of old. But they had a good start…

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12/28- Any Wang Will Do

The day nestled in a warm hotel passed uneventfully for the Wu, but their continental dinner (complimentary, of course) was interrupted by the appearance of their great and fiery Nushi. He spoke in rather displeased tones that Takeshi, their resident Thrashing Dragon, had dishonored him and was cut off from the rest of the wu. He had, evidently, been speaking to the Western Devils and agreed to show them something in the Grottos. Weither this was through his own will or those of the inauspicious blood mages was not of importance now.

The wu pondered this, thinking that perhaps they should stop the Western Devils from soiling the dragons nests they had just so recently decided to claim. Naturally, nothing is every that easy. Their great Nushi told them that the spirit world was also a buzz with a grand bizarre being put into the city compliments of a truckload of spiritual gold that had recently been ‘found’. Their plot thickens… They could either stake their claim to the gold and secure enough spiritual wealth to accomplish most anything they would need for the next decade, or redeem their wu-mate and stop the western devils from poking where they didn’t belong.

Johnny was outvoted and they elected to chase after the rival devils.

Takeshi and the westerners were travelling by tour bus down the line towards the Grotto. It was decided that the wu would make better time by boat. They rented one and proceeded to engage in a boat chase the likes of which an action movie would envy. The climax of which was their mortal companion (with a clear death wish), jumping the boat off of one barge, onto another barge, using it as a ramp to land on top of the bridge alongside the tour bus. It was quite dramatic.

A short battle broke out, which ended very poorly for the rival ‘wu’. While they were likely powerful, who expects a boat to land on a bridge with ninja’s aboard? Rather then turning and going to reclaim their gold now, they elected to sacrifice these westerners properly and then explore the grotto.

They first found the glorious sanctuary of the Empress, but were turned away by the first doorman as they lacked proper payment. Instead of going THEN to collect their gold, they elected to explore some more.

There was numerous puzzles to unlock and many wonders within the caverns. There were corpse monks singing and guard ‘dogs’ watching. Each chamber was more magnificent then the last. Finally, they came to rest in a room showing the fall of the Empress to one called ‘The General’. There was obviously great respect between the two, but the Keui-jin became keenly aware that their kind had influenced history a great deal throughout time.

While the majority of the Wu explored the cave, their ambitious mortal elected to go back and save Takeshi from the sunrise. He was met with a patrolling group of park rangers. A scuffle broke out and Takeshi ended up in the river. Which made perfectly logical sense at the time. Stealing their car, the crazy mortal drove break neck speeds along the river to recover their missing friend. He came to the same bridge, still being cleaned up from the boat incident, and jumped it to land on a barge. He fished out the waterlogged Thrashing Dragon and unstaked him. The fellow was terse, but seemed intent on regaining his honor with the group.

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12/15- Choose a Stick

The battered Wu passed the night in a wary vigilance, wondering if the Nine Tiger Claws would turn opportunistic and bury them alongside the human remains amid the vast fortune of gold. Hours piled upon hours, but when the sun set, it proved both sides to be bloodless. But peace was not in the cards for this Wu. Takeshi, tasked with keeping watch over the other Wu’s departure went silent suddenly. Obviously concerned, the wu investigated to find a rather flippant Bone Flower attempting to give lessons in humility. After a brief conversation, they agreed to travel together for a time.

Konda desired to return to the corrupt cave, but heeded the advise of his wise council and agreed that it would be best to return to the city and regroup. After loading the gold into the SUV, it became clear that with their mundane methods of transportation, it would take at least two more days to reach Lu Yang. Their enterprising new friend offered an alternative. He could open a gate into the Spirit World. Physics there would hold them less tight, and they would be able to travel at greatly improved speeds. It took little other goading for their psychotic mortal to sign off on the plan.

The Wu situated on the train track, conveniently enough also a potent Lay Line. After a rather death defying collision course with a bullet train, they successfully pierce reality and slip into the Spirit World. It was as if a cartoon made sweet, gentle love to a nightmare and their love child both wore bows and human entrails. The Spirit World is never a dull time.

A few clicks into their journey, the Wu encountered more of the boar spirits making trouble along the tracks. Boars and sentient trees fought a quickly overwhelmed flock of eagles. Almost unnoticed by virtue of its own absurd girth, a huge tentacle writhed along the track. The tentacle seemed to be indicative of the spirit world itself here. On one side of it, the spirits were healthy and hale. On the other, they were sickly and cannibalizing one another. It was an odd sight at the best of times.

Never ones to hesitate, the wu leapt into combat. Konda and Johnny closed for melee while the rest of the wu (perhaps wisely) used the plethora of new firearms they had commandeered. The battle was intense, but they were relatively unmarred by the end. Their vehicle was not so lucky.

Still, the battle was auspicious. Sacrifices were given to their Nushi, and the tribe of eagle gave the wu their first name: The Talon Cleansing Wu. Stuck in the spirit world without a vehicle, the wu was forced to take the remainder of the trip on a spiritual train.

As the umbral city-scape of Lu Yang approached, they were awestruck by the vast differences. The wilds were filled with lively spirits and near chaos. Growth moved nearly unchecked amid the healthy spiritual energy. The city however, was a mess of spiderwebs and constructed elementals. Certainly healthy from a certain point of view, the balance was clearly shifted in a more… organized manner. Even in the brief time that the Wu had been away, the city had grown darker. More gritty. Criminals seemed to dot the area and the governing agents felt more… oppressive.

They took some time to meet with their fence contact, LiWei Gen, a dirty repugnant man with an even less clean ‘housekeeper’. Bartering happened all around, but agreements were made. The fence would take the gold and liquidate it for a fair price. He would put them into contact with a man who could forge weapons. He would provide them with body armor and vehicles, all at his usual prices. The deal was struck largely thanks to the oracular ‘housekeeper’ who read their fortunes in chopsticks and found that business deals would be quite auspicious.

The night was coming to a close, but not before a final climatic moment. While their newfound Bone Flower was scouting the lay lines of the city to find some dragons nests and possible points of interest, their Tiger was ambushed in the van. Well… perhaps that is the incorrect word. Hundreds of miners, wraiths killed in various accidents or coverups, came to claim the wu’s rightfully stolen gold. The wu warily allowed the wraiths to do as they would, only to find them climbing into the gold and literally infusing it with their essence and life to make it real in the lands of the dead. Likely a fiery temper would have caused this to swing a different way.

Now the Wu is left to wonder what it is to do with this wraithly wealth, a city fallen to its own squallor, and a budding sense of responsibility and community.

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12/8- Bite Till You Taste Copper

The dramatic pause passed as the massive and twisted Western Spirit sharpened its tusks upon the blackened stone of the cave. Time seemed to slow as the Wu sprung into action.

The Tiger leapt forward, cutting the monster deep and drawing its ire. Shinchi took cover, finding the body of a long dead human in haz-mat gear. Konda, roused from his trance, ran to join the fray. And the forgotten Dhampyr drove his off road vehicle like some demon possessed creature through the thick wood.

A cry of rage shook the trees as the boar howled. Birds burst into the air from nearby trees as smaller cousins answered the cries. The monster struck at the Tiger, cutting long gashes into the warrior. The smaller spirits tore through the woods, meeting resistance among the Wu. Konda took a grievous burn turning the hatred of one of the burning spirits aside. A truck plowed into it moments later. A strange kitsune joined the battle as well, falling upon the twisted spirits with a long glaive. It was in that moment that the Wu noticed that disappearance of Takeshi with their new chimerical friend’s appearance. In moments the battle was over and the Wu turned to lick it’s wounds while their leader spoke to hengioki.

The creature seemed to want their help cleansing the area of the apparent radiation sickness that was seeping into the lands here. Their driver and stalwart companion (who the Tiger had yet to note the name of) mentioned that the area they were in showed human habitation a few kilometers off, but stopped appearing on their maps after the late 1950’s. It was an interesting puzzle. After a heated debate, calling the honor of the trickster shifter into question, they got back their friend, but vowed to return to cleanse the area.

Taking the truck, they traveled along the path of the train to where the gold likely was. A recently abandoned campsite was found along the tracks… currently occupied by military equipment and signs of relatively recent revival. The Wu split up, entering the mine to fine their missing treasure.

Inside the mine, Konda made fast friends with the military unit, instructing them to aid the Wu in their efforts. They were most gracious in their attempts. Sadly, a small firefight broke out and the Wu separated further. The Tiger drove deeper into the mine, chasing after a beautiful and wounded woman. Konda and Shinchi went slower, with more caution. They collected the remaining military personal along the way, safeguarding the human element of game.

After a daring and terribly dramatic mine-car chase (with twists, turns and waterfalls), the Tiger catches his quarry. The woman was wily, but her male companions were less so. After a few escape attempts, she was properly subdued… just in time for Konda to come and find his soul mate.

She agreed to come and help the Wu with their searches and missions.

While this was occurring, the Nine Tiger Claw Wu stumbled across the mine… and the treacherous humans who had led them to it to begin with. There was a brief, if bloody, fight between the humans and the vampires. It went poorly for the humans.

Again, the Wu’s met and discussed what the future would be. The hundreds of thousand of dollars in gold was divided, as was agreed. They retreated to separate corners of the mine to wait out the dread sun, and cautiously caressed weapons in hope that the other wasn’t plotting their demise.

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11/17- The Hobbling Couple Who Couldn't Clap

The Koa are tasks given to Running Monkeys. They serve as tools to train a young Monkey into responsible adulthood, and often have the added bonus of giving something back to the Court that fostered them. Tasks come from the directions. Each mentor spoke quietly to the young Monkeys and gave them what they needed to do as they progressed to adulthood. Each direction had two tasks to complete in the next half a century.

For the North- Peace is often the most difficult task. There are two gangs at war in Japan, “The Snakes of Rising” and “The Eagle’s Claw”. An accord must be made between them, and the conflicts taken out of the streets. Their second task was deceptively difficult; establish influence within a city in the West.

For the Center- In Tibet there is a mountain where the Shi Demon hunters train. A foreign Bodhisattva near there who seeks a powerful spirit. He will be on that quest for the next decade or so; the spirit is very elusive. This enlightened creature has a riddle that we must solve. The second task for Center is to reach as much understanding of their Hun and P’O as possible.

For the East- Near Munby is an organization called ‘D’ Company, an organized crime group. This group needs to be brought under the control of the Wu and directed to where the Courts desire. What they are based around is a mystery, but what can be said? Also, in Korea is a family descended from the House of Yee. They had been collected by the Japanese during the Manchurian incidents. They are now a point of contention between the two countries. This family is to be brought under Wu control as well. Added spice: the family straddles the North and South divide.

For the South- Hong Kong is the home of some inauspicious blood witches. They have been allowed to survive for too long, but the local Mandarin has deals in place to protect them. They have branched out without permission and need to be trimmed. These may not be destroyed in their entirety. All but one mortal associated with them is to be killed. The Court was gleefully unclear if ALL the witches were to be killed or just their extension. The second path of war is in the Phillipines. The sharks lost a Dragon’s Nest to a murder of Tengu. The birds are to be destroyed and the sharks returned what is theirs. For this, the sharks will give a gift from the deepest sea.

In addition to these tasks, the freshly made Wu has been marked by the Yama Kings personally. Two of the Wu are missing; one gone and another back in hell. We are to find them and be made whole.

As the mandarin’s left the grotto, the Wu pondered what they were to do next as their patron spirit arrived. A face of Zhu Rong, the heaven fire and executioner. He bound the youths together and in jovial tones told them to protect their grave sites. In the spirit of unity, this became their first priority. As the closest site was Konda’s, they traveled deeper into China.

They traveled to Luang, a sprawling suburban night-scape. They city was danky and dark, ailing of some unseen cancer. But they weren’t here for site-seeing.

The cemetery was dark, but peopled; odd for such a late hour. A statesman had died, a war hero and diplomat: Zu Di Shong. The stately procession was given some diligence. In attendance was a sickly Dhampyr and a Yin tainted Kuei-Jin named ‘X’, a member of the Nine Tiger Claw Wu. On the other side stood a somber soul of Zu Di Shong, watching his own funeral in some shock.

The cemetery itself had long since fallen to disrepair, the caretakers falling victim to their own generosity. The Wu, as if this was not their first outing, moved as one. The Dragon, Crane and Whispers stayed at the cemetery, ‘inspiring’ their mortal flock to greater acts of devotion. Konda’s family tomb was sproused and the workers compensated.

The Tiger travels to visit the caretaker and his wife. Their books were gone over. Local law and national law was referenced. The hobbling couple that couldn’t clap were treated politely. Escrow accounts were established for the continued maintenance of Konda’s tomb. A local law firm was to be engaged to manage both that account and various national programs engaged to establish the cemetery as a historical site of the Tang Dynasty. Such acts were to prove to be the cemeteries salvation, if the keepers could be trusted.

At the climax of this ‘explanation’, the Empress herself appeared complete with a spectral army. The Tiger was escorted back to the Wu, and the cemetery sang its gratitude. Fear mingled with awe, and their good deed was done.

Relaxing in their hotel, the Wu reviewed the news and found a local criminal had found a way to steal gold from the government. A visit was arranged to see just how far this little enterprise would go.

At the courthouse, the dirty ‘Pimple Man’ was already engaged with another of the Nine-Tiger Claws, a lovely somewhat androgynous Indian woman named Amanaka. An accord was struck, and she allowed the wu to ask what they would. A cousin was revealed to be compromised in this corruption.

At the bullet train, the cousin was spoken too. Nicely. And the location of the gold was revealed. The cousin was told to continue his corruption and work with the Nine Tiger Claws; a debt paid. They disembarked the train and traveled into the woods. With dawn fast approaching and a cave calling to their senses, a powerful boar with lightning sparking from its tusks; a spirit made flesh came to inform them of their trespasses.

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11/3 Adventure Notes

Time passes quickly for those with much to do. The Ri, the single year a new Hin is given to learn the ways of their people, passed with shocking alacrity. Each mentor was patient in his own way, and each student receptive. The lessons the teacher wished to impart were not always what the pupil wished to learn, but were learned none the less. While each Mandarin had his or her time with each of their disciplines during this year, clear favorites were shown. Even Banner, who suffered at the hands of his Asian tormentors far worse than most received special attention from a select few.

Nakajima Shinchi spent the majority of his time with the Korean, Heinjin. It was logical; the had a similar taste in fashion, after all, and likely a comparable mortal experience. What excess time Shinchi had not devoted to the Korean was divided up among the beautiful Acharapawn and the equally alluring (if exotically so) Soon Bi. While all the lessons were valuable, he was especially attentive to those revolving around Portents, Meditation and Drinking. It was most likely that this would be a great spiritual adviser to the Wu as it shaped itself.

Konda, the aging monk with no memory of his mortal existence spent the majority of his time with Goree Gen Kee, selecting one of the youngest of the mentors present to be his teacher for most things. Often times, they would leave alone for days at a time, only returning to speak of nothing of their lessons. Konda’s excess time was oddly spent among the other members of the Wu; whenever they had a free moment, they would turn to find the odd monk observing them and asking after their lessons. It was… disconcerting for several. Of all the lessons he was offered, the complex Blood Shintai was praised above all others.

Morimoto Takeshi spent most of his time with the fearsome Lord Hiyabashi, comparing the cultural differences between the caste’d Samurai and the Yakuza whose organization was born to combat the power of the warriors. When not pursuing those lessons, he was being instructed in various arts by the enigmatic Chen Long, fabled to be the greatest martial artist alive. The Taoist took many lessons from these gatherings, but praised his growing mastery of Martial Arts above all others.

Johnny O’Connor predictably spent the majority of his time with the warlord Khubla Kasashe, soaking in the rarely spoken warriors lessons with rapture. The controlled Devil conducted himself in many ways the young one found enviable. When not holding lessons on combat and torture and tactics with the Mongolian, he spent a vast amount of time with the lovely Acharapawn. From the Indian he learned of religion, castes, spiritual advisement and the application of subtle murder. While he attempted to avoid Trang, the fellow seemed to inherently know this and stuck to him through many a lesson with either, the vulgar drunkard with the leering grin never letting up for a moment. Of all the lessons the budding Hindu took from his mentors, those of Torture and Meditation were most highly praised.

As the year grew to a close, the month of the Dragon was upon them. The 23rd day approached quicker than any would have liked. While the lessons were cruel and their mentors strict, there was a strange sort of comfort to be had from their proximity. But, alas, all things must come to an end in their own time, and this was no exception.

The party was elegant. It was vast. It was life-threatening. Coming from all corners of the globe, the guests surged in. Mortals of every color and creed. Some related to the Mandarins directly, others not at all. The tension was palpable as the made-up Mandarins came into the square with their chosen pupil following. Each was dressed to pay homage to their past or nature. The blue-skinned goddess stood shoulder to shoulder with the oni faced samurai. Their pupils were dressed in similar prose, flavored to accentuate their mentors and mark their own place in society. But the festivity was not to be lax and soon they were expected to display their mastery of the supernatural and the mundane before the crowd of gathered mortals.

Takeshi began by boldly performing the energetic dance of a Thrashing Dragon; invoking Yang Prana and displaying many acts of martial skills. The chi flowed through him and into the crowd and the Mandarin’s were pleased.

Johnny stepped forward next, approaching the oldest, most revered of the cherry trees. Taking a moment to perform the balancing kata, he drew his sword and became a blurred of controlled, precise movements, striking from each of the blossoms a single petal while disturbing the rest of the tree not at all.

Konda came forward next. As the cherry petals billowed and fell, he selected seemingly at random lithe figured from the crowd. The dance they performed was moving and elegant, turning the shower of petals from something beautiful to something awe-inspiring.

Shinchi came into the dance as well, displaying the meditative stance of the slow and lovely martial stances, bringing grounding to his own mind as well as those of the people watching.

The Mandarins were pleased. The guests were spellbound. The party continued without death for the time being. The pupils given a moment to collect their thoughts before given to display their next tasks.

Shinchi discretely left the party and found an area of the grotto so tainted by humans as to be unapproachable. Over the next several hours, he cleaned the area, pouring in his will and chi as sacrifices to the spirits of the area. The statues became refined once more and pure, and the very land itself seemed to breath with contentment at the treatment.

Takeshi swam through the crowd until she found a woman marked with loss and pain. After speaking with her and learning of her plight, he searched the crowd to find an appropriate match to soothe her loss. A young soldier and a young widow were paired before the keen eyes of the Mandarins and a young ghost turned away to return to the Cycle.

Konda collected from the crowd various masters and instructors of esoteric yoga and hosted an impromptu saloon. The masters spoke of their schools and displayed their craft, and each was enriched in turn by the others. The differences of their schools were not seen as a threat with Konda serving tea, but rather as things to be praised and revered.

Johnny took an unexpected turn and pulled a Wallstreet Journal from his back pocket and began collecting investors. His was not the path of charm, but rather direct and brutal intellect. First from the Japanese mob, then the Hindi businessmen, and finally the Hong Kong bankers. Each in turn was seduced with the raw power of money, giving to the young Devil an impressive sum to play with before the eyes of the Mandarins he had hoped to impress. Heinjin too particular note of the display and was greatly pleased.

As the party came to a close, the mortals left. The predawn cast the area in eerie, dangerous light. It was revealed that they were blessed and the rights of the Wu were to be cast upon them. They had all passed, save one. Banner had been abducted during the party, and the Bone Flower had failed to appear, mentors and all. It was a sad, happy day, but a victory not to be ignored.

The party was given the night to contemplate their nushi and to meditate on their future. When night fell again, they would be given their tasks towards enlightenment under the mandate of Heaven. They would be given the freedom to depart the mortal world. They would be Disciplines. They would be Running Monkeys; and the world would tremble in their wake.

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9/29- Session Notes

The night unfolded to reveal the gathering of disparate factions in a place called Longmen Grottoes in the heart of central China. They arrived in groupings of threes and fours before emerging in the moonlight filled ancient artistic wonder. Light caught off the glinting faces of the Buddha and Boddhisatvas’ and demons. Those closest to the railings were black with the fingers of countless millions, those gaze down from on high still pristine in their limestone visions.

Powerful Manchurian’s and elders arrived with their recent captives. Chen Long and Lord Hiyabashi arrived with a strange foreign Hin and three savage creatures on chains. Goree Gen Kee came with an older, but still fresh to the life, former monk. Soonbi presented a moneyed, but quit younger man of Japanese descent. And Khubla Kasashe came with a well dressed mongrel.

Many contests of will and prowess were presented to the group. They were tested and their most obvious strengths were made apparent to those who gathered. They were taunted and prodded and their most obvious weaknesses were made apparent to those gathered. The lessons had not even begun yet, and already several had nearly been killed in the effect. Still, two more were prophesied to join the budding ‘wu’.

There, in the throbbing power of the dragon nest, under the moon and witnessed by a half dozen Manchurian elders, representing three of the greatest Courts our people had, a collaboration was started. The gathered powers would train these new finds. They would instruct them on the ways of being Kuei-jin. They would help them find their Dharma and help them understand their purpose under heaven. They had a year to train and be judged. If they were found wanting, there would be no retest; there would be only death.

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9/15- Session

Mostly a prelude game. Josh, Rob and Tim were able to power through their preludes and burn their families.

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