Andrew – Smith, Quartermaster
Anton – San, Leader
Malcolm – Minami, Journaller
Matt – Akia
Michael – Raika, Mapper
Mish – Niki, Ill
Thomas – Sakura, Minstrel
Extracts from the Travel Journal of Minami
By the time we returned to Ariana the landscape had already changed, the thick forest giving way to more open terrain around the village walls. The Shrine Maidens were very happy and gave us a blessing, and everyone celebrated.
San and Akia went to extra effort to hunt snakes along the way and collect their skins. I sold the skins in Ariana for a decent sum, but think we may have collected most of the gold they have here by now.
After a days rest we restocked and did some trading Sakura suggested buying another pack animal for the group and I had to point out this wa an obvious waste. I managed to pick up some wooden tools and small furniture to trade, but I fear it will not be for much profit.
This time we travelled with with much greater ease. Without the forest we were affected by strong winds but things went well until the end of the day. Having no shelter on the moors the winds made most of us sleep poorly, although San brought down a mountain goat for a delicious roast dinner.
Travel was more difficult today, but we still made good time and could see a town in the mountains. We found some rock to form a windbreak but had to settle for normal rations.
Climbing into the mountains we came across some ruffians harassing a young lady. Sakura took offense to this and decided to fight the bandits, who declared themselves to be in some kind of gang. After a brief scuffle we saw them off and took a prisoner. The young lad – “One-Eyed Jules” was happy to talk, and soon we understood that the situation on the town was quite complicated – three gangs shared control and cooperated in exploiting the local townfolk.
The Silk Blossom gang was led by “Hiroko”, who owned the local gambling house. The Golden Horse gang ran a fortress and corral and were led by “Tagami”. The larget inn in town was the “Summer Cloud”, under the control of a gang by the same name led by “Junko”. A brief stop at the maiden’s hut to deliver healing herbs for her father taught us that the local used chits of debt as currency, and the poor soon built up a large collection of them.
The townsfolk also knew the name of Katia Ohka, who had apparently spread tales of me as her apprentice. Ohka apparently set up the system of commerce the town used, so I was most intrigued to see how it functioned.
Upon reach the town proper we headed for the Gambling House directly, to pursue our goal of find out what was going on. The town appeared fairly normal, although a little more run-down and impoverished than average. Hiroko, it transpired, was an opulently attired woman whose establishment was equally well appointed – it was clear where the town’s wealth went.
I used my infamy as Ohka’s apprentice to gain an audience, Hiroko was evasive but it was obvious something was awry at the town’s once-famous hot springs. She also mention an amulet she was wearing, and Akia whispered to me that it bore the symbol of a demon. After Hiroko’s multiple refusal to tell us anything I must confess I lost patience and put her to sleep with a magic spell. I took her amulet, and her form at once transformed into that of a wizened old woman – the demon had extracted it’s price, and clearly we had to stop the evil that was occurring here.
By then it was late in the afternoon anf the group retired to the Summer Cloud Inn. It was a clean and well-organised place, but the staff wore masks and identical clothing and seemed wary of us. We inquired after Junko but were told she was busy.
After taking breakfast we again tried to meet with Junko but could not find her. In the village it a crowd had gathered upon hearing of us, and directed us to the Golden Horse Fort. Here we were shown inside, where a large and powerful man named Tagami was waiting.
San offered to fight Tagami in a wrestling match, but seemed outmatched. After a great struggle and some great cheering by some of the party, San prevailed. We claimed Tagami’s amulet, returning him to the form of a scrawny coward as the demon must have found him.
I decided I had seen enough of the town’s economy. It was obviously intended to enrich these gang leaders and keep the townspeople in poverty – I can’t imagine what Ohka must have been thinking. I collected the debt chits of all three gangs and went to the town square. I informed the assembled townspeople that they had been mislead and would have to change how their town was run. I had them build a bonfire and then destroyed all of the chits, debtors and lender’s alike. I had great faith that if they were to use a more straightforward currency and restored trade with nearby towns their lot would vastly improve. However, we still had the difficult matter of the demon to deal with.
Meanwhile, Aika, San and Sakura searched the Summer Cloud inn and found a secret room with a woman and a young girl – the girl was wearing the amulet around her neck. The woman pleaded with them to keep her daughter, while Akia tried to convince her that they needed the amulet to fix the town. Finally the woman agreed and asked for five minutes with her daughter. After 3 minutes, Sakura opened the door and found that the woman has taken her own life, and the daughter without the amulet was a wizened corpse.
After a sober night of preparation we hastened to the hot springs. Using the amulets to open the doors we found a luxurious palace with servants and a very handsome host.
Then, something very strange happened. Each of us had a vision of what we wanted most in the world – returning to Sea town, making great riches, great understanding, reunion with lost loved ones. All of us were lost in a daze except for Smith. It seemed he could not decide – he had no goal in life and refused to fall sway to the demon’s trance. So the demon attacked instead, and there was a huge fight with succubi, flying cockroaches, blindness, butlers, and plenty of unconsciousness. Eventually we prevailed and the demon fled back into whatever foul realm it had come from.