Wind Over the Clouds I
|"If there is a wave there must be a wind."|| The run takes place late in the Month of the Dog in the Tenth Year of the Dog since the Third Treaty of Houses.|
The run takes place in and above Hearthstone
A Targeted Mission
Kuan-Xi is planning to Deal With The Ifrit (and save Phoenix, according to Melina), so Lady Jin (with help from Madame Song) is tasked with dealing with the 2d6 roll.
Takanata draws some particularly odd art, but the meaning is not yet clear. Lijuan sketches some art of her own, which is a little clearer.
The group water-gates to House Suzuki, in Hearthstone. There is a lot of wind blowing (less rain than before), but it is not coming from any single place. Options for places to start include the Summit of Fire, or the Double Caldera, or the Song of the Phoenix. Moving around is still tough, though, so probably best to pick one. The group splits into three groups of three (adding Zhuai to round out the nine), and heads off into the wind.
Lijuan isn't strong enough to prevent herself from being blown by the wind, but after buying some inherent skills, the party reaches the Song of the Phoenix.
A single torch is lit in the dark hallway, and then the group heads up the stairs into another hallway, ringing with echoes. A circle of torches springs to life around them, and Min Feng rolls her eyes.
- "So... has the time come? Are you here to destroy us?"
- "Can we skip the dramatics and just deal with the efreet?" -Kuan-Xi
- "You're not here to destroy us? Oh, yeah, you didn't even bring Yanyu."
The lighting gets more normal.
So... the party wants to deal with the efreet, but doesn't really know how to get to it.
- "We thought the Songstress would know, but you might." -Kuan-Xi
The new Songstress, Eto Tansho, suggests they go to the map room, and indicates various things on the Song's maps. The efreet has infiltrated via Whale's realms, so the best way to get there is on the ocean - they will have to sail into more spiritual waters, and then try to come back to Hearthstone, and thereby should encounter where the efreet is.
Does Eto Tansho have any other suggestions? She notes that she could try to interpret the auguries, but that would require her getting to the Shrouded Mirror, which is slow due to the wind. However, she can interpret the previously drawn prophetic art - she says that Takanata's painting shows a dream within a dream from a faraway place that didn't exist, and a terrible threat called "turbs".
Lijuan's sketch shows the two stages of the journey - a sea battle, and what Tansho guesses are turbs.
- "Beyond that is your adversary."
Takanata considers the question of turbs, using KS: Sky. They are little vortices of energy, not quite powerful enough to become conscious, and are often dominated by greater beings like efreet. They are generally extremely dangerous, and best avoided. Usually, the longer the battle goes, the more of them there are. Only the biggest ones have lightning, but the smaller ones will tend to have powers of air, water, or fire.
Further prophetic realization - whenever a figure is shown in Lijuan's rain-art covered in darkness, that's been because of Toro. Thus, there is an emergency Ritual Reading of the Signs of Toro just so nobody misses a river dry of water again.
The group shows the flowchart that Melina made to the Songstress, but it doesn't need a lot of additional enlightenment. She does note that whatever skills and shticks that the Golden Prince had Kuan-Xi buy will likely be useful in destroying the efreet.
Finally - can the Song provide them any additional favors or blessings? Eto Tansho calls them to gather, and receive the benediction of Phoenix. Bless the noble warriors. She rolls poorly on her d10, and gives them a pool of two phoenix-flavored karma points for later use, and then dramatically passes out.
- "Go ask them about that thing. No, don't ask them about the thing. Ssh." -Whispering amongst the rest of the Song
The group makes it back to House Suzuki without much trouble, and then to the coast where the Yamato arrives, and the captain and the navigator confer with Anto.
The Yamato sets sail, and travels into semi-uncharted waters. Off in the distance, three large gateways seem to be open, but a number of ships (and clouds) are between the Yamato and the gateways.
The boating mechanic includes:
- Actions take place in 1-2-3 / 4-5-6 / 7-8-9 / 10 for a total of four actions per turn, and a maximum of one action per grouping
- The sea hexes are 25 hexes across
Takanata reminds people not to run on the water, as that could lead to a sign of Toro, and considers Connections:
- We are sailing on spiritual waters to try and reach the efreet.
- The efreet is being assisted by Whale and Toro.
- There are three large unusual areas in the opposite corner of the map.
- Each of those areas is caused by one of the efreet, Whale, and
- <s>Toro's area is a hole in the world we should keep stars from falling through.
- Whale's area goes to Whale's ocean, which will be unfriendly to us.
Xiao Fa considers the Tao of the place. It is in fact super-Whaley, but Whale is also stretched very thin, as if the ocean itself is a stretched-out extrusion of Whale's realm. Extrusion into where, though? Into the South? Maybe... it's confusing.
Hm. If things are South-y, then is one of the portals from a Southern god, rather than Toro? Maybe Ganesha? Pulling out what they can recall of Ganesha (who is not Kubera), he can be treacherous, tends to work behind the scenes without tipping his hand, and is always willing to offer favors in exchange for bigger favors .
Two boats pull alongside the Yamato, and Kuan-Xi insists that the two-master declare as friend or foe.
The captain seems to want a bit of a conversation first:
- "These are forbidden waters, turn back!"
- "Forbidden by whom?"
- "By the Lords of Air and Sea. Will you not turn back?"
However, Kuan-Xi ends up being moderately persuasive, and they declare as friend. Min Feng goes over to that boat to coordinate, while the other boat attacks with a flight of arrows. Min Feng's ship and the Yamato promptly attack the smaller ship, and it sinks. Glub glub glub.
Some of the clouds head towards the ship, and Master Zhou warns that some of them are enemies (the grey ones, maybe?)
As a result of the sinking of the first ship, three more ships head towards the Yamato, launching more arrows. Min Feng waves proof that she didn't help sink that other ship, and gets to be considered part of the sea's defenders for the moment. Kuan-Xi impresses some more ships, and Takanata and Master Deng go aboard for coordination.
Takanata wonders: "Will we be happier when we fight the turbs if we take as many ships as we can, or if we are all on the Yamato?" but the question melts down. Apparently, the universe doesn’t think that’s a meaningful question to answer.
Kuan-Xi uses one of the Phoenix karma, and impresses the largest ship. Xiao Fa hops onto Min Feng's ship to help her sail. Takanata declares drift between 2 and 3, segmenting the 1-2/3 "action" into two pieces.
Boats continue to fight. Takanata calls up some wind, which causes one of the clouds to buff up interestingly.
Min Feng and Xiao Fa's ship investigates the portals - the first one they get close to looks like a whirlpool going straight to Whale.
However, he can't sense anything from the blue whirlpool, as if nothing is there at all.
Anto tries to sense the airy whirlpool, and draws his kusarigama - then draws back before hitting Kuan-Xi with it. It's as if it goes to the land of betrayal, somehow?
Shen-Ji blasts the boarding party trying to get his boat, while Lijuan's boat is in more trouble. Also, the cloud is getting more ominous.
The party ships start to converge on the un-senseable whirlpool, while the angry cloud heads for Takanata and Zhou's ships.
In the wind, people with low dex have to roll for 9s and lose some of their movement, but no one is swept overboard.
Master Zhou looks at the un-senseable portal - It's a portal back into the Empire, dedicated to...?
The party ships all head into the portal before the cloud chasing them gets too much worse, but Anto stays behind to unbind the people on the boats that Kuan-Xi bound to her service.
The ships fetch up on beaches around a small island, and people proceed on foot to another battlemap, showing up in groups based on the ships they were on. Deng starts climbing down from the mini-cliff in his corner, towards a stair to the main floor.
The big hole to the south is definitely a hole in the world, leading to the Empire.
Lijuan shoots some turbs, and each of them splits into two.
Xiao Fa identifies the turbs as pieces of living wind. One of the whirlwinds comes for Deng, and splits in two when he ripostes with his fire sword.
Master Zhou reaches the south end of his cliff, and looks at the giant whirlwind. As noted before, the hole leads down to the Empire, and the whirlwind is blasting wind through, down on Hearthstone. Were he to leap off the cliff not through the hole, he would also eventually reach the Empire, but much less directly. Takanata confirms that the hole is directly above Hearthstone.
More chopping happens! Every time a turb is attacked (or riposted), it splits (after taking damage), so the longer the combat goes, the more turbs appear.
Several turbs go for Min Feng, but Xiao Fa promises she'll be fine. Kuan-Xi is knocked down by another set.
The oogly-boogers identify the "swirly" turbs as pure air, while the "stormy" turbs are air and water, and the "shiny" turbs are pure water. The biggest problem seems to be being surrounded in small groups - having someone to have your back is key, as only four can fit around a target.
Lijuan gives Kuan-Xi the last remaining huge healing potion, and gets her back up. Shen-Ji uses (True) Fire Sorcery, but it proves less effective than standard sorcery - the rules of sorcery apply more strongly for true sorcery, and fire is weak against water. (Earth with True Sorcery, on the other hand, would probably be even stronger.)
Takanata curses several of the shinies that water should not fly, and sends them back to the pool to the south. Kuan-Xi puddlegates to the pool to the south, and calls up a storm.
Lijuan goes down, bleeding badly, and Ho gets scooped up by a turb. Kawaii runs in to stands over Lijuan, roaring, and drives the turbs back. Takanata thinks this was more like a spiritual attack, not "scary" or "wind".
Kuan-Xi considers running up the raindrops - she concludes that while she could flee off the top of the battlemap, she can't get high enough to keep flying creatures from attacking her.
Lightning against one of the swirlies damages it without causing it to split, and Master Zhou finally starts taking some turbs out when they are down to six dice. However, it's getting pretty dense up in the top left.
Min Feng brings Xiao Fa through the fire, appearing next to Lijuan.
So... is it time for Shen-Ji to firestorm the map?
- "Otherwise we might all die, just go for it." -Min Feng
Pao and Min Feng's phoenix protect Ho and Kawaii, who don't have the standard party protection from Shen-Ji's firestorm.
Takanata retreats to the northwest, pursued by four of the shiny water elementals.
Deng and Shen-Ji continue to whittle down the mob of turbs, and the tide has definitely turned. Takanata takes out a few of his, but ends up surrounded - Master Zhou runs back up to help him - while Kuan-Xi destroys the turb that has captured Ho.
Finally, the last of the turbs dissipates. The large air elemental over the hole fades, and the efreet rises into its place.
- "Now, you deal with me."