The Night Wars

Unknown voices, unrecognizable actions, uncertain futures-
Nakamura

We arrived in Nahru late in the evening and leaving our soldiers at the military compound we walked our small charges to the Ron’han estate… where we were stymied by guards, and held out in the horrible weather by the butler, then told we could have an interview in three days time. Somewhere in that cold, wet time, something inside me snapped. It was almost audible inside my head as an indignant rage boiled up and out of my mouth. I spoke to people with disdain and authority I have never claimed. The words I spoke, the stance I took got the children taken in, but it was not the Nakamura Asuka I had been familiar with. This woman was haughty, self important, and highly volatile. She spoke as if she was better than anyone around her. As if her wishes were the only ones in the world that mattered. I don’t know who that woman was, but I will have to keep my eyes open and my senses aware in case she chooses to make an appearance again. I’m not sure I liked her at all… she might prove useful if I ever have to move within the world of the mon, but I don’t believe I want her walking around in my world.

From the Ron’hans back to the military compound we reported to the captain there in charge of the forces, discovering how badly undermanned they are, and all the tasks she could use help with, giving me many options for where my help my be needed. I had thought I would get clarity from her, but received the complete opposite… so…

From the military compound the Captain gave us an escort to the Sun and Shade, which turned out to be necessary as the Ron’han sent the constabulary after me to harass me for carrying weapons and threatening a merchant mon.

Now, ensconced in the common room, hot food in us, our clothes steaming dry from the fire we have run the discussions of what needs to be done down to the ground. I need to think. I need some guidance. I am off to the All Father’s Barracks to meditate.

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Onward into...
** GM Update **

10th day of the Moon of the Snake,Year of the Dog, Star of the Cock

Leaving the Sign, they travel to the town of Naru. Here they have a confrontation with Master Rohn’han, but convince him to take care of the children. Then they report to the army post on the south side of the town, and speak with the ranking officer, a young female captain of the Shouting Fox. This meeting is cordial, but mostly unhelpful, except they are given an escort thru town, which they take to the Sun and Shade Inn, the largest of the three inns. That evening, Asuka tends to the Fathers Barracks and meditates and prays. White spends most of the evening in the room, studying his texts, and quietly playing his lyre.

THe next day they, they outfit, and begin the trek back to the wilds. They stop at one of the smaller tea estates and spend the night. From there, they trek back to the Sign.

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Confessions
Drusan Blynn

{Translated from the Zhander}

Asukaand I have spent time discussing our course of action. In light of the size of the assault upon the small town, it may be unlikely to get soldier to aid us in the caves. I have discovered they do not have sell swords as such here, as the rulers here do not allow carrying of weapons without authority. We discussed some of the University, and the differences here. I told her the contents of the manuscript, but I do not know the extent of its coverage, just that it deals with the undead. It may be very important to get it back from this enemy, and perhaps soon. Could it have been the reason the Tea Mistress was attacked?

After this, we shared the bed in one of the larger rooms, and we discussed our histories some what. Then, at her invite we shared each other. Her firm body is yet soft and yielding but i believe she is considerably stronger than I. The lovemaking, simple, almost friendly.

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All is not as quiet as it seems
** GM Update **

7th day of the Moon of the Snake,Year of the Dog, Star of the Cock

Travelling from the Sadatoki (D’oh) tea plantation they arrive at the Tayzu Plantation late in the afternoon. Takatoyo, Master of the plantation, fed them, and offered them some tea from the first pickings. Still not even one chest worth, but enough for the plantation. The soldiers are told of a large party the other night, and decide they will investigate early tomorrow, before setting off to the Sign of the Golden Swan. They spend the night in the drying house, dry, warm and redolunt of the recently dried tea leaves. They

The Next morning, the soldiers tell them that the party was large, maybe a score or more, some booted feet, some perhaps just bones…and a seperate set of booted tracks that was apart from the rest of the horde. But specifics were difficult to come by due to the rain the night before. The then head to the Sign of the Golden Swan, where they recieve news of an attack by a large force, over 40, led by a Black warrior on the town. Unusually, the black warrior retreated with several of his "soldiers in tow, and headed west.

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Revelations and ghosts-
Nakamura

Finally, we are back at The Swan. The little ones are bedded down and sound asleep in front of the fire after the best meal we have had in days… not necessarily the best cooked, or best ingredients, but it was hot and filling and their eyes were sagging even before they wiped their bowls clean.

Quiet conversation between the grown ups adds more proof of abductions and odd dealings in the area. However, news from Nahru is bad. Two nights ago, one of the black warrior and a band of undead and other things attacked the city causing much damage, and then retreating. Seems, perhaps the situation is not winding down as rapidly as everyone had thought.

After hearing that news, White seemed to become uneasy and unhappy, so we retired to a private room where he confided to me that the missing book we are pursuing is about zombies. He doesn’t know exactly what it will contain, but his master believed you were stronger if you knew more about your opponent. He has two scrolls of note in his possession and is eager to retrieve the book, hoping it might have answers to help end this invasion. Even with this new information, I think it is unlikely now, after the most recent attack and losses that we will be able to convince the Captain of the guard to give us a force to march to the Dawn Caves. But. Our road still lies to Nahru to return children. From there we can get more information and make some sort of educated decision. Hopefully.

Sitting together on the bed, in the quiet of that private room I could smell him… road worn, washed but still smelling of man… So close and so quiet he drew me in. I found myself not thinking, but feeling for the first time in a very long time. He allowed me near and we lay together talking quietly of the customs of our countries, touching and exploring. His body is nothing like Akio’s…. and there… I wrote his name. Akio the bright one. Akio the hero. Captain Akio of the Fox. Akio my lost one. Akio I am so sorry…. and that is enough of that. His body is nothing like Akio’s being long and lean where Akio was broad and tall, but it was everything I needed. Our joining was simple and friendly leaving me with a happy sigh that I didn’t think I would ever hear myself make again.

So now I have a shield mate in this man I have known for less than a moon who has mysteries in his past and who came out of nowhere to be a driving force in my actions of late. I should, perhaps be concerned…. but oddly I’m not. I should, perhaps, feel guilty… but oddly, I don’t. Akio is gone. I loved him. I trained under him. I fought beside him. I raised his spirits like he raised mine… and with tears streaming down my face and apologies streaming from my lips I faced what had become of him across the frozen mud of the skirmish site, took his unlife and burned his rotting corpse along with the rest of the dead and undead that day. Perhaps someday I will let someone else as close to me as he was…. until then, this was a good start.

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Joining of forces
Nakamura

Cajoling and prodding, bribing and carrying we move the children onward. Thankfully it stops raining, but it is too cold for the little ones in their night clothes. They are wearing bits and pieces of everything we own… even my silk robes… and still they are cold. The movement helps, but we will have to be extra careful with them come nightfall. It would be a tragedy to rescue them from goblin clutches only to lose them to illness now.

We camped at an old hunter’s camp and had a chance at some venison, but I was unlucky and unprepared to leave White and the children alone, so lost the wounded yearling. However, come late afternoon of this third day we have detoured over to an abandoned Doh tea plantation in the hopes of fresh water and shelter only to discover four soldiers from the Fox on patrol. Over shared rations around a child warming fire we exchange news. The Zamidan appears to be moving along without us, although the celestial is in hiding or now missing and there is talk of a conclave being called to decide who will reap the benefits of his disappearance. I’m not sure I care. One mon is as good as another one, really… but… perhaps if they settle this then they can get down to the business of looking around them and perhaps putting their country back together.

More pertinent news is word of similar abductions of children from another outlying tea plantation. To hear it told leaves me with the small hairs on the back of my neck standing on end and a sick, topsy turvy feeling in my stomach. Something bad is definitely happening at the Dawn Caves. I am even more eager to reach some form of authority and command in order to deal with things before the children taken lose their lives.

We are joining with the Fox and heading down the tea track to the Golden Swan. I hate to do it, but push these little mites we must.

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Interlude - dreams are a double edged sword
Nakamura

Dreams are a double edged sword. They can be joyful and lighthearted, or dark and terrifying. In either guise there can be lessons to be learned, or ideas to be had… you only have to have the where with all to find them, hold them, keep them safe until you wake. This dream is not like that. It comes to me on a regular basis. I have yet to find the gem of wisdom contained within…. here… you look, tell me if you see it… Propped against the trunk of our sheltering tree, children pressed on either side, small ones in my lap, I doze until dawn. But not a restful sleep that, no, but one that tears memories better left buried from the bottom of my brain pan and puts them on stage for my viewing pleasure… It is storming. The sun still shines somewhere above, but it might as well be the midnight hour for all the light we have down here. A detachment worth of volunteers picks their way through the mess that was my family’s small fortified holdings. It has been occupied, but with it technically day, the denizens are in hiding… that doesn’t keep us from stumbling upon in their hiding holes and then having to fight our way past. Finally… at the end of what seems an eternal crawl, we come to the crypt. It is not unmolested. The atrocities had been at the seal, but not quite through. We were in time. With hammer and chisel we finish the work they started and gain entry to the crypt… and this is where the dream veers away from what really happened into the realm of nightmare. What really happened was that I opened the tombs of my brothers, gazing upon these long dead siblings for the very first time, then with apologies, smashed their skull. We then dragged their remains out onto the steps and set them alight. No chance would be left for our enemies to make use of MY family… but in the dream… oh in the dream, as I gaze on my brother’s faces, their eyes open. They lurch to sitting, screaming and gibbering and reaching for me with clawed, bony fingers. I try to run, but the soldiers who have accompanied me throw off their leather helms and uniform capes to reveal undead gazes, wide gaping smiles and war destroyed bodies. I am surrounded by undead. They move in and I fall beneath them, smothered by rotting flesh. I scream and thrash and fight. Some nights I prevail and escape back into the night, running until I wake with the pre-dawn light. But some nights I am trapped beneath that horror and sink into the darkness forever… only to wake up gasping for breath, tears burning my cheeks and my throat raw from screaming… See what I mean? Now… what wisdom do you see?

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Suffer the Children
** GM Update **

6th day of the Moon of the Snake,Year of the Dog, Star of the Cock

Early in the morning, before dawn, a short hunt ends in disapointment. Leading the Children, eventually they arrive at the Doh Plantation of Sadatoki. This was ransacked early in the war. There they meet and excahnge notes with a 4 man patrol of the Fox.

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Not on my watch.
Nakamura

Somewhere in the small hours of the night, a raiding party returns. The water gatherers are still at it. They are what alerted me to the approach of an orc and several goblins. Dragged along, tied together poked and prodded and stunned beyond complaint are six human children.

It no longer matters if we are outnumbered. That I cannot allow. I wake White and set him to shooting the orc while I prepare myself and say a prayer. I have never considered throwing my mattock before, and am not sure I would ever consider it again, but it was the first thing that came to me that might stop the orc in its tracks. With words of war on my lips and a prayer in my heart I flung that huge hammer. The might of the All Father hurled it through the air straight and true, dropping the orc before he even registered the quarrel that had sprouted from his arm.

Without a second thought I slid down the rope and waded in. Stupid little goblins. They think they are clever and mighty but what they really are are weak and stupid and foul. Four of them went down beneath this Arm of Arnheim. Okay. I’m not saying I didn’t get hurt, or that it was easy. Sometime during the combat one of them got a solid blow in and broke my shield arm. Another got a very good slice in that would not stop bleeding. There are scratches and bruises on many parts of my body. But theirs are rotting even as I painfully and carefully put this down on parchment.

As quickly as we could we hustled the children along the shelf to the east, away from the direction their party had come… who knew how many more might follow. They moved sluggishly at first, their eyes were large and vacant. They did grip a rope, however and we used that to tug them along. We kept them moving for over an hour before they began to make noises and look around them. It appears that they were kept quiet and manageable by the use of some sort of poison. As it wore off the older ones were able to tell us a little about what happened. They are wrapped in all the blankets, bedrolls and extra clothing that we have, bundled together they sleep under a tree, somewhat out of the rain. My bleeding has stopped, thanks to the Grace of the Sun Rider. My arm aches to the point of distraction. But. Come the dawn we will get them moving again and make a beeline for the Sign of the Golden Swan. There we can send out runners and find out what happened to the rice plantation their families lived on.

I am not looking forward to discovering how many of these little ones no longer have families to grow up within.

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And the scouting continues
Nakamura

As the sun came up we circled around and came at the cliff face from the west side hoping to be able to investigate the openings without our approach being noticed. Seemed to work well enough as we explored all eight ground level openings without incident. Most of them are too small for human use, or lead to nowhere useful, but the far west one has an old sealed door (sealed no longer, really) that leads further into the mountain. The corridor and chamber we could glimpse beyond have been left for later exploration. While the fifth entrance over is actually a carved out entrance and tunnel. The stone is worked and about fifteen paces or so inside is a wooden door. Not particularly sturdy, but a door just the same. Both good possibles for entry with a detachment later…. and I do believe we will need a detachment.

After exploring the ground level “caves” we made our way up along the cleft top of the face and lowered down into the larger upper cave. This one slopes down to standing water and a tunnel off to the right. Following that, which narrowed as it went back, lead us to a hole in the ceiling that looked to lead out onto the hillside… but would be a drop down into a hole from there. I stood for a few moments and watched the clouds drift by, thankful for a glimpse of the sky after such a tight squeeze through the tunnel.

As it was approaching evening, we took up positions in the mouth of this cave to hopefully watch the comings and goings of the residents. We need information and numbers before we decide to actually enter and engage. To die in combat is glorious. But a needless death is just plain stupid. So. We are very soon there after glad we did not just traipse on in. A group of eight goblins, two orcs and several dog men left the caves and headed south east. I’m relatively certain the two of us could not take on that many and hope to prevail. But it left us to wonder how many were still inside. Again we spend time watching, and are very glad of the cave as it starts to rain a good, steady downpour. Just as we were thinking we should go down, two little dog men come out pushing buckets. They are followed by a goblin that kicks them and prods them along as they line up 16 buckets. I’m amazed by how many buckets they have, and am doubly glad we did not just wander on in. So many means large numbers. Organized numbers. As I am musing about the logistics for 16 buckets, I am amazed to discover the dog men have stretched out a piece of canvas and are using it to collect and pour even more water into the buckets. When they had a line of full ones they carried them in, bringing the empties back out with them. Clever, nasty little things.

White and I have a quiet discussion. Our decision being to stay put for the rest of the night, although it pains me to no end that a raiding party went out and we did nothing to stop them. I know. I don’t know what we could have done against that number but die, but still it grates and makes me grind my teeth to think about it. What I can do now is get myself back to The Golden Swan and gather a detachment to come deal with this infestation. That will have to suffice. Sometimes one must overlook the little things to keep the big picture in focus. I hate it. But.

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