Shadow Yoshi

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"The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but to reveal to him his own." It is the Day of the Early Monkey in the Month of the Monkey in the eighth Year of the Magpie since the beginning of the Stewardship.

The run takes place mostly in and around the Shadow Fortress in the Roof of the World.

Previous Run



The party catches up to the circus, which is in Tranquil Endurance. The plan is to put on a performance there, another performance in Flowering Resolution, and then head to the City of Spires. However, there's someone waiting for Ringmaster Zhu, who the circus hand describes as "shifty-looking". He's waiting in the Ringmaster's tent.

There is some protest - why are shifty-looking guys being shown in and left in tents? Where is the security? The circus hand notes that in recent years, the circus has had a lot of weird visitors, and they've stopped trying to judge. The visitor turns out to be Shorty, Bao's lieutenant.

"You're not here to kidnap me?" -Cai Wen
"We were gonna, but she decided it wasn't your fault, so she went to find out whose fault it was." -Shorty

Whose fault what was? As it turns out, Shorty doesn't seem to have a shadow any more. None of Bao's group does. So Bao has headed north to "deal with it". Cai Wen is a bit worried - She's going to the shadow keep by herself? Well, Shorty was a little worried too, which is why he's here. Cai Wen calls everyone together in the tea tent.

"Hey! There's more than eight people! And Merit is wearing armor! It must be a chapter end!"

Shorty tries to provide more information, but he really doesn't have much more. Yesterday morning, they all noticed that their shadows were missing. Merit points out that missing shadows are not the party's fault, and that Cai Wen should stop trying to leap on the blame. On the other hand, it might be Xian's fault, as many things are.

Cai Wen suggests that an investigation team get captured by bandits to investigate. Merit and Zhi-Hao protest - they don't want to be captured by bandits, or even "captured by bandits". After some argument, Cai Wen and Xiao Fa agree to be captured by bandits, and everyone else will stay behind. They head to the bandit's camp, and are promptly yoinked into trees by net traps. Their investigation doesn’t reveal much other than a rock with a large shadow through which the shadow thief might have traveled.

Once the investigation is done, Cai Wen goes to pay their ransom. Xiao Fa is insulted at his ransom being set to so small a number, so after some haggling the price upwards, Cai Wen ends up paying 125 li to ransom the two of them.

Cai Wen and Xiao Fa start to brief the group about what they found out, when a circus hand comes flying through the opening of the tent flap, followed shortly by Tara Shien, who says that she has no time to wait. It looks to Xiao Fa like she should already be down and dying, but has invoked some sort of "Use the Pain" shtick. She's looking for Takanata and Master Zhou, to let them know that she's found Yoshi - he's been corrupted, both by the armor and by the Shadow, and he's at the Shadow Citadel even now. The ways have opened, so getting in and out is a little easier, but she was spotted on the way out (she gestures to her wounds). She doesn't think she is up for accompanying them, but says to remind Yoshi of his own virtues, and why they are worthy. Compassion is the virtue that's extra-corrupt, as it's what his armor cursed. Xiao Fa takes away the pain that's sustaining her, as he starts to heal her, and she collapses.

Lijuan says she has some uncursing silk, from Ezokin - it will get rid of the silk armor's curse. Everyone is somewhat dubious about that - all things having to do with Ezokin are kind of suspect - but Shen-Ji examines the silk and says that it technically curses the curse on the cursed armor to be ineffective. So that's pretty much like uncursing, just with a "cursed silk" special effect.

Merit researches what he can find out about the Shadow in his library cart. The Shadow is supposed to be the largest of the shadow-demons in the World Below, and there's a mention that "the light can no longer see people without shadows - the sun doesn't shine on them any more". Of course, shadow magic is traditionally Southern, so it's possible that Southerners might know more details about that sort of thing. Spiritual damage can result in a shadow being stolen, so that suggests that the Shadow has a big pile of Tao stolen from bandits, rather than it being destroyed.

Master Zhou goes into a little more detail about how Redemption works - try to remind Yoshi about his own personal virtues, in particular using examples from his life or their own lives, or exemplify a virtue in action.

"If we lie about something, and he finds out later, will that be bad?"
"...Hmm. Don't lie about things he knows about." -Master Zhou

  • Compassion
  • Courage
  • Positivity
  • Humility
  • Honesty
  • Loyalty
  • Self-Sacrifice
  • Peace
Takanata's poem
Lijuan's sketch

Cai Wen gathers up fountain fireworks that will cast a bright light, and Merit gets a report on Yoshi that has mentions a long-ago example of being loyal to Reiko. Master Zhou trains anyone who wants training, in parrying and also in "defeating people without using violence".

"I'll take the first one." -Zhi-Hao

Zhuai checks with Lijuan to see what she wants him to do. After some consideration, he is assigned to wait at the circus, and bring Tara Shien as quickly as possible, if she wakes up.

"Can I use Li Merit's library while I wait?" -Zhuai
"Only if you give me a full report afterwards." -Merit

Takanata writes a brief poem, and Lijuan makes a prophetic sketch.

The Talkiest Combat Ever

The party heads north, towards the Shadow Keep. As they get close travelling through the woods, there is a "psst" from in amongst the trees. It's Johnny Tong, who says that the Secret Swords are up ahead. Yoshi swept in a few weeks ago and grabbed them all, except Johnny (who Yoshi fired as the leader some time ago, putting Mei Li in charge).

"So.... get 'em?" -Zhi-Hao
"No! No! Argue with them!" -Johnny Tong

Merit says that the goals are:

  • Don't Die
  • Don't kill any Secret Swords
  • Especially don't kill Mei Li, because then Johnny Tong would be in charge, and no one wants that.

Cai Wen asks Johnny if a bandit came through the area recently.

"A real bandit, or one of those other kind?" -Johnny
"A real bandit." -Cai Wen
"Well, the Bandit Queen came through yesterday." -Johnny
"Wait... what other kind?" -Merit
"The dark shadowy spectral kind."

They ask Johnny about the Secret Swords - do they have shadows? He thinks they do.

"Wait... Yoshi isn't the whole plot?"

Merit talks Lijuan into leaving Kawaii back with the horses, lest she kill the Secret Swords, or Yoshi. The horses don't really want to stay with Kawaii, but are generally too well behaved to flee pell-mell. (Gathering them up again will take a while).

Johnny Tong leads them to where he thinks the Secret Swords are - there's a dark blue silk pavilion with a large dais, where Yoshi is seated, with the Secret Swords arrayed in front. Behind the pavilion, a dark wall of shadow looms, covering the keep. One of the Secret Swords waves surreptitiously to Xiao Fa but then Yoshi speaks.

"I know why you are here, and it is for nothing. The Yoshi you seek is dead. You have killed him, with your pantomime of his ways. But it's for the best - his philosophy is not for this world. He taught Katsuo, and she destroyed him. He taught Reiko, and she destroyed herself; now she raises an army to ravage the land. Begone, or the Secret Swords will remove you.

Show them the might of Plan A!" -Yoshi

The Secret Swords charge.

"Great-nephew, thank you for volunteering to deal with the problem by yourself. Perhaps the version of you that you think is gone is not as gone as all that, if you seek to save us from this fight. But, I believe we will all be needed for it." -Takanata
"You mistake me. I mean that by your presence you will interfere with the plan. Begone." -Yoshi

The party does its best to engage with the Secret Swords without hurting them too badly - Shuyan gets in a staring match with one of them, and Kasumi grabs the nose of another.

"Zhou, who calls himself "Master", the one who always seeks to instruct rather than to listen. I have seen your training. It will do you no good, for you do not learn from those around you." -Yoshi

Yoshi switches Master Zhou's teaching shtick to affect "students of the Shadow" rather than "students of Master Zhou", and hits him with a persuasion attack to rattle Master Zhou's own ideals.

Zhi-Hao steps forward so that the Secret Swords will attack him, hoping to exemplify Courage or Self-Sacrifice, but Yoshi isn't falling for it, and warns the Secret Swords not to attack him, lest they be slaughtered.

"Yoshi, you're a smart guy; you remember your life. I don't think we can count how many people you've turned from a path of self-destruction to a path that's improved their life. If you like, we can take a couple of months to gather them and bring them here to testify, but they'll be four deep. And they'll all say you told them that the path they were on led to pain and suffering, and the path you set them on was better. You did that, I've seen you." -Xian

Yoshi looks impressed by this speech - his "positivity" virtue appears to be swayed.

The Secret Swords demonstrate their ability to hold the line - enemies who try to run between them are stopped at their defensive formation.

Merit tells the story of Yoshi's loyalty to Reiko from the dossier he got, when she was accused of a plausible crime but Yoshi believed her and proved the charges baseless.

Lijuan runs forward, bounces off the Secret Swords' line, and shouts at them to surrender. She tries to use this to exemplify Peace, but this is one of the less impressive examples yet. Min Feng gives it a try, dropping her bow - she has some skill with the bow, but all of her actual successes have been via the way of peace. "I'm a talker". That gets her a bit more credit towards Peace.

Two others speak of Humility:

"Ah, Yoshi. What you speak of is the Master Zhou from long ago, and you have been long from our company. I have searched for wisdom from other ways, and I have learned from them. I teach others, as I show here - Cai Wen, have an action because you are my student. I have learned from others, as well - I am a student and not just a master." -Master Zhou
"You say that we undid Yoshi by mocking him. I'll be honest - I did mock you, at one time. Your successes seemed too easy, your singularity of purpose seemed foreign to me. But in the end, the real reason it bothered me is that you were better at persuading people than I am. I was jealous. I'm still jealous. But I know that the Yoshi who is better than me is still in there somewhere, and that's the one I'm going to talk to today." -Cai Wen

Yoshi notices that the Secret Swords aren't going after some of the party (especially the non-fighters) as hard as they might. He is surrounded by traitors!

"I regret, nephew, that we cannot accede to your demands. Your grandmother's sacrifice in making it into the Shadow's Citadel and out again places too hard a burden on me: her sacrifice compels me." -Takanata

Takanata is trying for self-sacrifice, but it's harder to count someone else's self-sacrifice rather than his, and his effect is limited.

"I don't know if you remember - this happened a few years ago. The four Brothers Chen had stolen great treasures of the Butterfly Kingdom, and you led a group to their very home. Everyone else was about to break in to retrieve the treasures, and you - you insisted on knocking and talking about it. You spent the rest of what other people tried to turn into a combat, negotiating. Despite your considerable martial skills, you chose the peaceful way, and it worked out much for the better. That was Peace." -Xian

The soliloquy is a little less effective due to an interruption by Shen-Ji claiming that a combat would have been better, and Xian is less effective in general because she's already the one holding down Positivity, but Yoshi is still somewhat swayed.

"At the end of the negotiation with the Chens, they had Deng and Lijuan hostage, and Lijuan was injured, dying. You offered to be prisoner in their place. You did not hesitate, you simply offered yourself up as hostage. Lijuan got her help - and it turned out we ended up with all the treasures, thanks to your self-sacrifice." -Xian
"None of you understand, when the weight of others bore so heavily on me, when I felt others’ pain. I tried to help in all the ways you're saying, but I do remember other things - Xian, I do remember the Bandits of the Double Caldera. You speak to me of hope, of loyalty, but the hope you offered them led them to their doom - which they carried out on the promise that you would take up their mission. Why should I listen to these pretty words you say now?" -Yoshi

Xian is swayed in turn by Yoshi's words, feeling bad about the bandits, and her persuasion takes another round of her personal curse. Meanwhile, some shadowy-looking bandits come through a crack in the shadow wall, causing some consternation and giving the non-talkers some more foes to focus on.

"Yoshi - you make the point perfectly. It was a lack of honesty that caused us to screw that whole thing up. Your guiding principles hold us to that higher standard." -Xian
"It's hard when the most important thing you have to say is something no one is capable of believing. Of course, for you, I never sensed that was a problem in the past, because you felt, no matter how large or urgent the depredations of the Marked were, there were things that were more important to be honest about. So - giving up, is that the way that's going to be? I sure hope not." -Cai Wen

Master Zhou strikes at some Secret Swords, but Yoshi leaps in and ripostes. Master Zhou parries Yoshi's riposte, and pushes Yoshi back with his strike but refrains from doing damage. Kasumi attacks a shadow-bandit, demonstrating Courage; when the shadow is unable to hit her, the color of its sword changes color to a slightly different shade of black. Johnny Tong attacks a Secret Sword, but Yoshi steps in again.

"Behold the Sixth Secret Sword, the Sword of Blood!" -{{{2}}}

Xiao Fa runs over to heal Johnny Tong, tsking at Yoshi.

"You just showed again what you have done so much of in the past, coming to defend a loyal companion." -Zhi-Hao
"I am merely punishing this disloyal scum." -{{{2}}}

Lijuan closes with Yoshi, trying to wrap him in Ezokin's uncursing silk. He tries his best to parry, though he doesn't riposte and stab Lijuan. She gets just a little past his parry, and has the silk kind of over his shoulder.

"My fashion skill tells me this is a terrible idea." -Yoshi

Master Zhou calls forth the followers of the Yellow Silk school, those who remember the fallen master, to demonstrate how they stick together. Then, he wraps Yoshi more tightly in the uncursing silk. The ties of his armor loosen themselves, and his corrupted Compassion is now vulnerable to persuasion.

"Yoshi, think back, yours has always been the way of peace. You're trying the way of war now and it's not working. Give up, go back." -Min Feng
"You sit on the throne here and try to convince us that you're bad, but under all that, you do still care." -Xiao Fa

Xiao Fa hits Yoshi with Restoring the Balance, and both the cursed armor and the uncursing silk (currently countering each other) are nullified. The armor unties.

Now that he's somewhat on the side of the party (and at least doesn't want them to be killed by shadow bandits), Yoshi tweaks Shen-Ji's shtick so that instead of metal weapons, shadow weapons are too heavy to hold.

"Do you recall a man named Ajeel, a Southron who we met in early times together, participating in a ritual on a southern wall?" -Cai Wen
"Does my "compassion" still confine him to imprisonment?" -Yoshi
"Your compassion continues his existence, when none other would speak for him. And you persuaded him that he was worthy of compassion. That was you - not this parody you are attempting to be. That was you." -Cai Wen
"My words got those bandits - good, honorable, courageous men - killed. And if your redemption was dependent just on my fine words, that would be bad. Fortunately, it's not. It's your own actual nature that we're depending on. I can talk all I want, but I'm just reminding you of you." -Xian
"You don't have to tell me that Yoshi was exceptional. I know that! He was an exception, he was alone, and yes, he helped some people. But what about Katsuo? He saw her pain, he eased it, he helped her find her confidence - and this is the result." -Yoshi

A Secret Sword is finally foolish enough to attack Zhi-Hao, and he does not riposte. Yoshi is stunned, and that counts towards Peace for him.

"Yoshi, you are right. We are all exceptional, but we are all pawns in a greater battle, who must band together to fight against the mighty enemies that threaten all the kingdoms." -Master Zhou
"Yoshi, you were once a great man who could persuade anyone of anything. You've gone this dark way because you think it makes you strong, though you're mistaken. But if you really think that this is how to be strong, then lay your best shot on me." -Min Feng

Min Feng gives Yoshi an action, going for Courage and daring him to strike her. However, he goes after Cai Wen instead, laying a guilt trip on him about Reiko's original corruption by the Shadow.

"Master Zhou is right. We are facing grave enemies. Last time when we faced the Shadow, we did not stand and oppose him when it became dire. That cowardice is why Reiko sacrificed herself, and why this is happening now." -Yoshi
"You think that your compassion made you vulnerable, but I argue it was the opposite. I have, as you know, an enemy in Lucky Chang, who I have pursued for some time. He is stronger than I am, and many fear him. But there is no one in this world who cares for him, because there is no one to whom he has shown compassion. It is the reason my patron first sent me against him, and it is the root of every alliance I have made against him. Compassion is strong, because it is my enemy's lack of compassion that I will use to destroy him." -Cai Wen

Johnny Tong keeps attacking the Secret Swords, and Yoshi finally knocks him out with the hilt of his sword. Everyone takes that as a good indication of nearly-redeemed. However, when Deng takes out one of the shadow-bandits, two more come out, so that may not be the right tactical plan. Shen-Ji thinks the shadow-bandits are something like "Imperial Shadow Magic" and isn't sure what to make of that.

"I saw that! You just bopped Johnny Tong in the face instead of chopping him! I'm not buying this Dark Yoshi stuff! That was compassion!" -Cai Wen

Takanata starts heading for the tunnel into the shadow wall, and stops by Yoshi's dais. There are five or six polished and fancy swords, and one wrapped up and covered with cobwebs. The tunnel itself is dark and creepy, and will be hard to go through more than single file.

Yoshi tells the Secret Swords to retreat to the Secret Location, and they start to run off, carrying Johnny Tong with them.

"I would just like to remind you of one name: Kibo. A demon who haunted a whole village, stole their dreams, and even as he was sucking your own family recipe for codfish tempura from your mind, your desire was to help him. To help him get his own desires and dreams. That Yoshi - he is still here, to Kibo. Kibo, whose aspect is Yoshi." -Xian

Yoshi's virtues have all been restored, and the shadow bandits here begin to fade out, except for one.

"Very well. It would have been more amusing to do it the other way, but if you wish, we will do it your way. Come if you dare." -Shadow

Then that shadow fades as well.

Yoshi takes the cobwebbed sword from his dais - that one is his old non-lethal-damage sword, long unused. Behold, the most secret sword!

"Thank you, my friends. Let us see the rest of this through together." -Yoshi

Into the Castle

Yoshi explains that his plan was to pretend to be a lieutenant of the Shadow, so as to get close to Reiko, then free her from its influence. He has prepared himself to exploit an opportunity of some sort, but doesn't have one yet. The group compares notes about the Shadow. Takanata says that it is named Giichi, "the Corrupting Darkness". Xiao Fa mentions that it has corrupted his brother Shanxi, and please don't kill him. Xian notes that Shanxi (now known as the Adjudicator) has a lot of his power in his staff. Kasumi says she has some mojo from Hirasoto for smacking demons and spirits.

Takanata reads Yoshi's I Ching - it doesn't give any helpful advice, though it notes that now is the time of his ultimate failure or ultimate success, and is a test not just of him but of the people he has inspired. Lijuan retrieves Kawaii for the assault on the fortress, though there is some concern about the "please don't kill Shanxi or Reiko" part of the plan.

The group heads towards the Shadow Fortress, and spots a small light blinking in one window - it seems to be blinking in bandit signal, "Cai Wen, where the hell are you?". There's a rope hanging down from the window. The valley outside the fortress appears to be "terrain type shadow bandit", and more are arriving through the shadow wall. The path to the front of the fortress is clear of shadow bandits, but the rest (including to the rope) is difficult to get through.

People use various methods to get through the shadow bandits without being attacked - Yoshi inspires the shadows to return to their spirits, Kasumi sneaks, Xiao Fa goes with Yoshi. When Shen-Ji flies through Bao's window, though, combat time starts (and the room of Utter Darkness starts producing "darkness tokens"). Bao is dressed in a grey cloak, with a staff, similar to the other lieutenants of the Shadow.

Various people manage to sneak in, step through walls, et cetera, until Zhi-Hao walks by a shadow bandit without much stealth, and an alert is raised. The Arbiter slams his staff on the ground and declares that if they surrender immediately, they will live. Zhi-Hao responds by disarming him and then stabbing him; in return, Zhi-Hao drops all of his weapons and takes the same amount of damage to himself, and promptly falls over.

Another Shadow-lieutenant reveals himself as the Quartermaster, and gives the same ultimatum. Kasumi grabs his nose, but he has a spare. The next lieutenant is the Purifier, and rather than asking for surrender, he warns people to prepare to die. The Arbiter picks up Zhi-Hao, taking him towards the room of darkness - maybe Zhi-Hao will get to be the Shadow's next lieutenant.

Speaking of lieutenants of iffy provenance, Bao hits her staff on the ground and claims to be the Infiltrator.

Master Zhou takes advantage of the Arbiter's thwackback abilities - he strikes the Arbiter, knocking him back, and knocks himself back, to a shadow, who he chops.

Min Feng pokes her head in the room with the extra-bright light, and finds a katana at her throat. Hirasoto asks her what her business is, and she explains they are here helping Kasumi deal with the Shadow.

"Are you worthy of aiding her?"
"Not in the realm of the ninja, but I have some talents."

Takanata thinks that the powerful (mystical) light is to allow powerful shadows to be cast. Visions of the past indicate that it has always been here - and it is also what is holding off the darkness.

Lijuan shoots at the Quartermaster, but he grabs the arrow and pockets it. He similarly pockets one of Zhi-Hao's swords when he tries to chop him.

The Arbiter castles with a lot of people to move himself over to the Quartermaster, and gets a new staff.

The last of the Shadow's minions steps out to confront Xiao Fa.

"I am the Adjudicator! Surrender or... aah! What are you doing here? Surrender before something bad happens to you!"

He gives Xiao Fa an action, and Xiao Fa steps forward and uses his power of The Glow on him. Both stagger back, stunned.

Min Feng decides the thing to do is steal the huge mystical light; when she fiddles with it, to try to unbolt it from the ground, she gets some light on her hands which will be useful later. Shen-Ji tries as well, and gets some mystical light of his own.

Yoshi tries to inspire Reiko to resist the Shadow, and thinks that he might have been about to have an effect, but the Shadow burns one of the "darkness tokens" that the room of utter darkness has been producing (in drift), and the inspiration is nullified. Other tokens get used to heal the lieutenants.

The Arbiter challenges Cai Wen to surrender or be destroyed, but Cai Wen says only if the Arbiter beats him in a game of Pai Gow. Surprisingly, that plays to the Arbiter's niche, so he agrees. He's pretty good at it, though, due to a lot of "rules lawyering" skill.

Xian pretends to be the Inveigler, and orders some shadows downstairs "to go and deal with the dark chi sorceress, who is breaking in and subverting things." They fall for that. The Purifier nearly takes out Merit, until Yoshi leaps in the way.

Shanxi tries to convince Xiao Fa to take the portal out. Xiao Fa protests - let him stay and help his friends! But his heart is not in it, and he's spent all his Tao on Glowing Shanxi, so the two of them escape through the portal.

Shen-Ji puts up a wall of iron to cut Reiko off from the preternatural source of darkness - now it's just normal dimness. Kasumi stabs herself for 45 points of damage, invoking a lot of the mojo that Hirasoto gave her, and stabs Reiko. This hurts her (normally), but severs the Shadow from her, and Min Feng can heal Reiko with one of her "light tokens".

The Shadow rises out of Reiko, and the castle begins to shake.

"Give yourself to me or you all will be destroyed." -Shadow
"We decline." -Yoshi
"No, demon, we had a bargain. I gave myself to you in that bargain, and thus you are not allowed to kill these people." -Reiko

Kasumi wounds herself again, and finishes the Shadow with another strike.

"Fools. You do not know what you have done. You may have banished me, but soon you will have to face my broth..." -Shadow

All the lieutenants pass out, and the shadow-bandits disappear. The mystical light winks out. Takanata thinks that the Shadow was permanently slain by Hirasoto (apparently through Kasumi), and the ninja appears, bowing to Kasumi. He thinks that she accomplished his quest, but she has spent most of the boon that he gave her to use in her impossible quest against the Spider. Ah well. Hirasoto thinks that the "brother" is Toro, but Takanata is not so sure.

Those more interested in loot find twenty tael worth of money and valuable jewelry in the Shadow's office.

"Who is the immortal for me? I'm not a ninja." -Min Feng
"It is presumptive to assume there is one of us placed in this world to help you." -Hirasoto

Zhuai shows up, with Tara Shien - apparently he cut a deal with the Very Large Horse Spirit to get them there quickly. Xiao Fa, on the other hand, appears to be in the Hon'eth Arcade.

Yoshi talks with Reiko - she has actually been doing a lot of her own redemption, as far as fighting against the Shadow for the past year, and, freed of the Shadow, she seems a lot more willing to be non-evil than she used to be. She says that she is pretty sure that the castle itself will prove to be in her name, and she plans to stay there for at least a while; she and Yoshi will be working on redeeming the other lieutenants.

The party yoinks one of the lieutenant staffs (and off in the Arcade, Xiao Fa grabs Shanxi's.).

Reiko is willing to send people through the shadow portal to wherever they need to go, such as for a minirun.


  • Takanata does some research in the Exalted Library.
  • Jin figures some stuff out about the Black Spire Coded Notebook.
  • Cai Wen, Takanata, and Xiao Fa head to the Illuminated Precincts to talk to Willow about the Hidden City bribery mechanic.