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Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Chapter 3 — The Monastery at Bunden
They walked over grass due east from the shoya's gatehouse, the wall on their left and the brewery on their right. They next came to a large structure that seemed to be built in a square shape.

   "Is this the monastery?" asked Hakam aloud. However, there were no monks seen about, and Belvin thought that he could spot the tiled roof of the shrine farther off.

   Belvin was correct. After passing the large, square building, there was an open space in the shade of a large bamboo tree where two monks were sparring. Just beyond them was the shrine now, fully in view. It was similar to a gazebo in structure, with four open sides. A large statue filled most of its interior.

   They were quite surprised to see that the shrine was being guarded by a woman, considering the strict cultural rules in place for women in Wa. This woman was not dressed in simple linen clothing like the sparring men or like Sofi. Instead, she was wearing a full set of armor that looked like scale mail but was made of reddish leather. She carried a strange double-headed weapon that was shaped like a shovel or spade at one end and a crescent at the other. Her feet were sandaled, and her forearms were bound in leather strands similar to Sofi's. As for the woman herself, her long dark hair was braided and tied back in a ponytail.

   South of the shrine was a two-story minka that must have been the monastery itself.

   As they neared the woman and the shrine behind her, they were able to better observe the idol at its center. The statue was of a warrior in golden armor and mounted upon a demonic-looking horse. The god or demigod wore a fierce expression and held a sword ready to swing down upon a foe.

   The shrine guardian eyed them as they neared her. Her face showed no discernible emotion. When they were close enough to speak with her without shouting, she spoke in a calm, monotone voice, which Hakam's magic translated for him. "Why would a group of foreigners be coming to see one of our sacred shrines?"

   "I greet you, guardian," said Hakam. He held up the official notice one again. "We come with permission from the shogun to this village. We are not so much interested in this shrine as in the spiritual guidance of the monks who reside here."

   She squinted a little, contemplating the unexpectedly thoughtful answer. "Surely you do not follow our spirits," she replied after her pause. "Do you not have divine spirits of your own?"

   "We do indeed, but it is a particular spirit, of which we know little, that we are seeking out, a vengeful spirit. We hope that you here can provide us with helpful information."

   Again the woman considered the reply carefully before responding. "I am only a simple sohei," she said, and the magic left the final word of her declaration untranslated. "However, the monks within the monastery may be able to answer your questions, if you ask them with sincerity and not for ill."

   Sofi waved excitedly at the shrine guardian. The woman did not wave back. "What is her name, Hakam?"

   The cleric asked for her name, and she answered, "Imoko."

   "Well met, Imoko," said Sofi. "My name is.... I call myself Sofi. I am so happy to see another woman monk. I have never seen a human woman monk before, only githzerai ones."

   The woman had no idea what Sofi was saying, but she cracked a partial smile, showing the first emotion that they had seen her express. She turned back to Hakam, however, and spoke to him again. "Let me enter the monastery and learn how the shukenja feels about visitors at this hour. Please remain here."

   Imoko walked past them and entered the monastery through a doorway at the northwestern corner of the building, leaving them standing before the fearsome warrior god.

   Sofi's attention was now drawn to the sparring monks, and she carefully watched their posture and movements as they circled each other and gave out and received calculated blows. "He should have sprung from his left foot," she explained to Kytharrah, who had come next to her to watch as well.

   "Play?" he asked.

   "I will see if Hakam will let us play with them later, Kytharrah," she said. "First, we must wait our turn."

   Imoko returned. "You are welcome to enter the monastery," she said. "Follow me, if you please."

   She took off her sandals and left them at the side of the building before going up the single wooden step. They all did likewise, at Solisar's insistence. Imoko waited in the entryway for those with boots to unfasten and remove them.

   Unshoed, they entered a hallway that extended the width of the building. At the opposite end of this entry hallway was a small prayer mat before a smaller shrine idol holding a small basin of water in its lap. On the right wall, just before the prayer mat, was the opening into the monastery proper. Imoko passed through this open doorway, and they followed her into a 20-foot-square room with a staircase in the nearest corner and a large square sparring mat filling most of the remaining floor space. This mat was occupied by another pair of practicing monks. There were two closed paper doorways on the right wall as they looked south, and the other end of this room opened into a kitchen. They followed their guide past the monks and into the kitchen, which had two long, low, wooden tables on either side of the fire pit and an assortment of barrels, jugs, kegs, and bottle racks against the walls. What must have been the main entrance to the building was opposite where they stood, and, looking up, they saw two balconies above them and the rafters of the roof two stories up.

   "The shukenja will be coming down shortly," said Imoko, and Hakam translated.

   "Are we invited to sit?" asked Belvin.

   Hakam asked her this, and she seemed embarrassed with herself. "Yes, please. I am sorry that I am not trained in matters of hospitality. You may sit at the tables."

   This, of course, meant sitting on the mats on the floor beside the low tables. They sat down, and Imoko joined them, though she kept herself distant from the men and sat by Sofi. "What are your names?" she asked. Solisar immediately answered, being able to understand such a basic question in Wa-an by now, and the others also answered in turn.

   "Where are you from?"

   "We are from Faerûn," said Hakam, not wanting to get into the complexities.

   Imoko nodded, and it was likely that she had never heard of Faerûn before, though she did not state this. "I am not from Bunden," she said. "I am from a monastery in the foothills to the north, in Jiyu, a couple days walk to the north."

   Hakam translated for the others, and Sofi asked him to ask her why she had come to Bunden.

   "I am relatively new in my path as a sohei," Imoko said. "I took my vows to follow the Path of Enlightenment only last Spring. As part of my training, I am sent to different regions in Wa to learn about different ways of life and to experience the practices of varying monastic schools and to serve them as I am able." She spoke slowly and deliberately, pausing between sentences to give Hakam ample time to translate. "My role here for the last month or so has been to defend this shrine to Jikoku, Guardian of the East."

   Hakam asked her a question. "As a non-villager, perhaps you might be able to answer a question with more freedom than most here: Is the shoya an honorable man?"

   Once again, Imoko took some thought before answering. "He is an honorable man," she said, "but he is weak. I do not mean weak in character or honor, rather weak in power. He is rarely seen by the villagers. I have not seen him speak or act in public. His time is always within his compound, drinking tea, playing igo. This I have heard. I have never been within his house myself. He seems to let others lead for him."

   "Who then leads the village?" asked Hakam. "Is it the monks?"

   "The monks seem to keep to themselves," she answered. "I am not sure who runs things. Things do run, but I do not understand how that is. The people here seem very disciplined, but such are the people of all the villages that I have been sent to visit. To speak honestly, sometimes I wonder why the common people need anyone to lead them at all. Such words may be considered blasphemy, but I only ask questions. I am sure that wise men have good answers for my questions. I suppose that, in larger populations, there are more dishonorable people who need to be controlled, since they cannot control themselves.

   "I have only been here about a month; I am only an outsider. There is probably much more for me to learn here before it is time for me to move on to my next post."

   "Are you on a pilgrimage?" Belvin asked through Hakam.

   "Of a kind. I always travel back to my monastery between visits to other places to receive my next task. This is only my first assignment as a true sohei."

   "You fight with a weapon that I have never seen before," said Sofi. "What is it?"

   "It is called a monk's spade. It was created for monks having to travel on long journeys. Such monks would often be called upon by poor villagers to care for and bury the dead. That explains the shovel end. The moon-shaped end is used to hold back without killing dangerous animals that a monk might encounter on the narrow mountain paths. Most monastic schools are opposed to killing, even of animals." She asked of Sofi, "Are you a monk yourself? Which path do you follow?"

   "I am a monk," said Sofi through Hakam. "I follow the path of Pistis Sophia, but I am not a part of any monastery currently, though I am interested in scanning more about them. You are not a monk yourself though? You called yourself something else?"

   "I am a sohei, a temple guardian," Imoko answered, without any further clarification.

   At this point, an older man entered the room. He had thick gray hair, bushy eyebrows, and a beard that hung to his waist with no mustache. He wore a faded blue smock over a reddish-brown skirt with a yellowed cord for a belt. A prayer wheel hung from this belt. He walked slowly into the room leaning on a hooked shepherd's staff for support, from which dangled an assortment of berries, beads, bells, leaves, and feathers. He seemed like a cross between a hedge wizard and a shaman.

   The man bowed to his guests and then sat opposite them. Imoko dismissed herself and returned to her post at the shrine, leaving them alone with the man. He introduced himself as Ieharu and asked how he could be of service. "I hear that you come with questions about the Spirit World. It is very strange for gajin to visit this simple monastery in this simple village to ask questions, but I am happy to answer what I know."

   They realized that they could all understand him without the need for Hakam to translate, and they suspected that this was because of magic. (The man had a faint magical aura about his lips, Solisar observed. Beyond this, there was only the faintest aura from a small talisman on his belt, so Solisar supposed that he must have cast a tongues spell before entering the kitchen to meet with them.)

   "We are most interested in one particular spirit, which we believe has passed through this area," explained Hakam, "approximately 35 years ago, a rakshasa. Are you familiar with this kind of spirit?"

   The man seemed to ponder this. "The spirits with the distinctive mirrored hands? Are they not spirits common in the far away land of Malatra?"

   "So we are told," said Hakam.

   "There may have been rakshasa who have entered Wa in the past. I have heard tell of this. There is a monastery to the north of here, a much larger one, outside the village of Jiyu in the foothills. One of my brother shukenja there once told me of rumors that creatures of such a description were spotted by some villagers living near a volcano in the mountains north of Jiyu. I heard nothing more of this. It was communicated only in a time of shared storytelling, and I do not think that my brother believed the report."

   "We believe that the creature with whom we are concerned has also disguised himself as human," said Hakam.

   "Many spirits have the power of deception to do so," said Ieharu with a nod. "You may all be spirits yourselves. Who am I to know?" He smiled at them.

   Hakam now shared the theorized details about Yunoko's murder by the rakshasa on the bridge — though he did not mention her by name — and brought out the severed hand that they had found the previous evening. "Can you divine anything from this hand or from our story?"

   Ieharu took the hand and looked at the bones carefully. "The bone has certainly been cut — and cleanly."

   "We believe that it was severed by this sword." Hakam then showed the blade that they had also found.

   "That may have been a noble's wakizashi, and this was likely a rakshasa hand, as it seems very feline to me. The fingers are longer than a human's hand, I think, and there may have been claws here once."

   Solisar pointed out how the wrist bones attached to the forearm bone fragments, and the man agreed with the assessment.

   Ieharu passed the hand back to them and spoke to Hakam. "As far as my powers of divination, I surmise that you are a holy man yourself. I observe the silver amulet hanging from your neck and the prayer box upon your forehead. I suspect that your powers to divine matters are more powerful than my own. However, I am willing to speak to the local spirits that hover about this place on your behalf and see what they might know."

   "Speaking of local spirits," said Hakam, "do you know anything about a spirit named Yunoko?"

   "Oh, Yunoko? Yes, I knew a woman named Yunoko once. She was the ambassador of a gajin country. She was married to a strange but very kind man. He had a beard much like yours." He motioned toward Szordrin when he said this.

   "He was, in fact, Szordrin's master," said Hakam. "This is why we have come to your country, to investigate his wife's murder."

   "Yes, yes, I was very saddened when I learned that the yakuza had killed her. She was a very kind woman. She often stopped on her way through the village to buy fresh fruit from the grocer. Occasionally, she would come and bow to Jikoku. She was not a follower of the Path of Enlightenment, as are we, yet she was a woman of strong faith. She followed the teachings of the Nine Immortals.

   "I did not realize when told of the murder of an ambassador on the bridge that you were referring to her death. I should have recognized this, as the time of death is correct, but we were told that the yakuza were involved. I see now that you question this narrative."

   "Forgive my caginess from earlier," said Hakam. "Yes, from the evidence that we have presented to you here, we believe that the story of the yakuza's responsibility is a fabrication or at least an incorrect assumption."

   "I am intrigued by your theory, but how would one prove this?" asked Ieharu.

   "There is more," said Hakam. "We believe that we have encountered her spirit. Can you help us speak with her spirit or learn when we may be able to encounter her again?" They then shared with him their encounter with her in the embassy at night, how they had unfortunately banished her spirit, and the signs of the ethereal essence of the two items being pulled in the direction of Uwaji. "We suspect that she may manifest again."

   "I am certain that I would be able to speak with her spirit. However, my powers are limited by distance. I would have to be face-to-face with her, which would require knowing where she would be and when. For me to speak with her now, she would have to be present with us here, but I have no sense of any unexpected presences with us here now. If you took me to her, I could speak with her.

   "As to when you may encounter her again, I cannot say, but spirits rarely wander far from their resting places in the Spirit World. For spirits who cannot find the River of Three Routes and are trapped in our world, they usually cannot leave our world until a certain task is accomplished that frees them. If she was murdered in an act of dishonor, it is understandable that she may be trapped until the deed is avenged and her honor is restored."

   "Are there any rituals to summon the dead to speak with them?" asked Szordrin. "We have found several items of hers; can these act as a way to connect to her?"

   "Are these the objects whose ethereal essences you saw being pulled toward Uwaji?" asked Ieharu. "I wonder if these are not the very objects tying her to our realm. Maybe if they were returned to her, she would appear to you again. Though, I suspect that her state as a lost spirit is more likely to be because of her terrible manner of death at the hands of fiends."

   "Could she be summoned by them, though?" repeated Szordrin.

   "It is possible," he said. "They may attract her. A ghost often can interact with certain objects when she manifests that still retain a connection to her. Perhaps this connection can also be a means to call her to you or attract her attention."

   "Do you remember when the shogun sent men to Bunden to investigate her murder?" asked Solisar.

   "I was not involved in the investigation," said the shukenja. "They did not speak to any of us at the monastery. We were ignored."

   "Forgive me for being indelicate," Hakam began, "but we wish to speak to people who might have known the thirteen accused. I suspect that we may have already offended the shoya by asking this of him."

   The old man looked at each of them in turn and then answered, "I sense that you are honorable people. In some sense, you remind me of Onran. Though I did not know him well, he was, in fact, the one who taught my younger self that gajin can be as honorable as Wanese."

   He lowered his voice a little. "The fact of matter is that this village is still fully controlled by the yakuza. The shogun failed to wipe them from the village as he had hoped three or four decades ago. The shoya has very little power here. None want to admit that, of course; the yakuza are truly dishonorable criminals, but the situation is as it is. To be fair, they, the yakuza, allow us spiritual seekers to live as we will. They do not interfere in our pratices. In many ways, this monastery is entirely separate from the rest of the village. Obviously, you must be able to see how this would be a sensitive issue. I advise you not to speak of it and to be careful whom you ask about the yakuza. Even mentioning the word itself may result in offense here."

   "Do they come here often? How do the yakuza control Bunden?" asked Szordrin.

   "They live among us," said Ieharu, "integrated into Bunden's society in secret. The oyabun resides in the large house immediately next to our grounds. It is larger even than the home of the shoya. So that is where a number of the yakuza live, but you cannot exactly just walk up to it and offer greeting. You would need to be invited."

   "How would one gain an audience with them?" asked Szordrin.

   The old man made a funny face. "You are speaking with a holy man; I do not know how to gain an audience with criminals without violating my vows!" The comment was spoken with a mark of humor.

   Solisar thanked Ieharu for these insights and then returned to a question about the rakshasa. "Have you ever seen a man with one hand passing through Bunden?"

   "The rakshasa in disguise? I do not recall ever encountering such a stranger, no."

   "Besides the grocer," asked Szordrin, "can you tell us any further places that Yunoko would have visited in this village?"

   Ieharu could not think of any other places.

   "Kytharrah is hungry!" said Kytharrah.

   "We would need to exchange our currency to be able to purchase food here," said Solisar.

   Kytharrah did not know what currency was, but he knew that Solisar's answer meant no, and he frowned.

   "Is there a jeweler in the village?" asked Belvin.

   "...Or a place to exchange our money?" added Solisar.

   "We have no jeweler," said Ieharu, "but there is a man here who sells trinkets that he finds or purchases from passersby that he finds interesting. Maybe he would be able to take something off your hands in exchange for our currency. There is no official moneychanger here, nor are there craftsmen of the high arts here; this is a poor village. The trinket seller's shop is the last minka on road as it leaves the village to head toward the Hayatura highway."

   "There is another matter," said Hakam. "Can you tell us anything about a foreigner who was beaten at around the same time as Yunoko was murdered? We are told that her purpose in coming here that trip was to investigate that beating."

   "Oh, that was a horrible incident as well. A gajin like yourselves — I do not know the details of his place of origin — was passing through. I know that the man — strangely enough, since I just now mentioned the place — had business with the trinket seller. (It was a different seller at that time but the same shop.) The gajin sold some items and was later found beaten outside the village. He was taken to the inn, where he was nursed back to health. That is all that I know for certain. Many in the village suspected that he was beaten by the yakuza for some 'misdeed'. As a holy man, I cannot speculate as to what sort of misdeed would have been worthy of a beating. In any case, the yakuza never leave evidence to tie them to any violent act."

   The party discussed their next course of action. It seemed that they would visit the grocer and the inn next.

   Hakam made a last request, "Would you permit for our two monks in training to spar with your pupils here while the others of us continue to talk with folk around the village?"

   Sofi was delighted that Hakam had thought of her in this way. Besides a chance to learn new techniques, she was not particularly welcome most places in the village anyhow, being a woman. Kytharrah was happy too, once he understood that it would soon be time for him to play after all of his long and difficult patient behavior. Sitting still at a table during all this talking was hard work! It was exceptionally generous for Hakam to have used the phrase "monk in training" of him, but whether the cleric had been serious or joking was lost on him. Ieharu was more than happy to grant their request.
Session: 125th Game Session - Monday, Dec 14 2020 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
Viewable by: Public
Tags: Bunden , Chapter 3 , Recap , Wa
Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Chapter 3 — Bunden
The night passed peacefully, and they woke to the yellow-green light of the sun beaming through the Wanese trees.

   One of the first things that Solisar did, while Leokas made them a fire to heat some trail bread for breakfast, was to identify the magic pin that they had found. After drinking the concoction of wine and crushed pearl that he mixed together, the held the pin in his hand until its properties came to his mind.

   "It has many powers," he explained to them. "It protects from magical projectiles and from harm from electrical currents, but most of its other protections are for the mind. When wearing the brooch pin, one's moral outlook and thoughts are hidden from other magics and scrying and she would have been protected from charms and other mind-affecting spells."

   After breakfast, they packed their traveling gear on Kamil and continued westerly along the forest trail. It was not much farther beyond the stream when they came out of the forest. The village of Bunden was immediately visible, beyond a wide field.

   Bunden was surrounded by a low wooden wall topped along its entire length with a thatched, sloped roof. The trail led directly over the field to a small gatehouse, with the same kind of roof. The gate opening itself was large enough for Kamil to walk under only if he ducked low his head and if Belvin dismounted.

   A guard at the gate must have seen them coming through a small window and stepped out into the gateway to block the path. "Yamete!" he called out, clearly indicating for them to stop.

   Hakam had already granted himself the ability to speak and understand all languages before coming within speaking range of the gatehouse. He stepped forward boldly. "I greet you," he spoke in Wa-an. "We are here on a mission of upmost importance by order of his eminence, the shogun. I here defend this claim with this document." He held the shogun's license out before him.

   The guard gave a little frown of confusion but took the notice and curiously looked it over, glancing up once or twice to scan the visitors, as the last guard that they had met on the road had done. Unlike that other guard, they did not sense any fear in him.

   "This seems a legitimate document," Hakam understood him to say. "I recognize the monogata of Clan Matasuuri. Enter to do the shogun's bidding, but ensure that you take this beast of burden to the stable at the center of the village. Such animals are only permitted on the main road by order of the shoya. Or are you only passing through? If so, you of course need not stop at the stable."

   "Indeed, our intent is to question certain persons in this village," Hakam confirmed. He then translated for the others. "He tells us that we must take our beast of burden to the stable before going elsewhere in the village. It is a local law."

   "Kamil is not a beast of burden!" protested Belvin.

   Hakam turned back to the gate guard. "Is this shoya the leader or judge of this village? Please pardon our ignorance about local government hierarchy in this land. As you obviously must know, we are all of us foreigners. We wish to ask such a leader about yakuza activity in this area."

   The man scoffed at this last sentence. "Yakuza this close to the capital? The shogun would not allow such filth. As for our village's leader, yes, you would wish to speak to the shoya, Nambu Seimei."

   "Where can we find him?"

   "His estate is against the northern wall of the village."

   "Must we make an appointment to speak with him?"

   "Ours is only small village, so it is likely that he will have the time to see you. Whether he chooses to do so is of course his own prerogative. He has his own guards. You would speak with them to seek an audience."

   With that the man stepped aside and lowered his spear, allowing them to pass one by one through the narrow gate.

   The village of Bunden seemed arranged in a very rigid manner, following a grid pattern. The building construction was simple and consistent, wooden walls, paper doors, and thatched, angled roofs weighted down with stones.

   On each side of the main road passing through the village were larger buildings, all of which seemed to be shops of simple goods.

   The local folk were out and about, moving from shop to shop. Vendors were calling out what they had for sale. The words only made sense to Hakam's ears, but Solisar took in the new words, assuming them to be the names for the various wares, and began building his vocabulary of Wa-an. The elf wizard was actively scanning the populace for signs of nobility, but everyone here seemed to be of a lower class status; no one in sight bore a pair of blades at his side.

   Kytharrah sniffed in deeply as they slowly strolled along. There were many smells, new and old both. He took in the powerful whiff of scented wax candles two shops down on the left, for example.

   The first shop on the left seemed to be selling baskets. The first shop on the right seemed to exclusively sell brooms. The shop that was the source of the wax smell sold candles and red paper lanterns. Then came a firewood seller and a miller. Some shop keepers held out items for them, not caring that these potential customers were strange and foreign. Others took a different response of ignoring the visitors, acting as if they might be invisible if only they did not move or speak as the party passed. One woman who was out shopping scurried away and hid around the corner of a nearby shop upon seeing Kytharrah, even though he tried his best to walk calmly and not look scary. He waved at her, as she looked back with a mixture of fear and curiosity.

   There only seemed to be a single dirt road through the village, moving directly west from the gate. Hakam continued to lead the way past a woman selling cakes of rice and a blacksmith and then a larger, two-story building that may have been an inn and finally to what was clearly a stable at the center of the village, where the dirt road was joined by a smaller dirt path heading to the north.

   The stable was a generic stable. The stablehand greeted them in Wa-an and asked how he could be of service. The man seemed hesitant but friendly enough.

   "We were told to board our beasts of burden here for the day;" said Hakam by his magic, "can you help us with that?"

   "Which animals do you have?" asked the man.

   "We have a camel, a wolf, and a minotaur."

   The magic did not translate the final word, and the man heard it instead in Hakam's native Alzhedo.

   "I do not know what a pajabbar is. May I see these animals?"

   Hakam called Kytharrah in.

   The man made some sort of untranslatable exclamation. Then he asked, "Does it speak?"

   "It does not speak your language."

   "Onamaehanandesuka?" said the man to Kytharrah anyway.

   "Kytharrah, tell this man your name," said Hakam.

   "Kytharrah!" said the minotaur happily.

   The man seemed intrigued. "We do not house such oni," he said. "We only keep beasts of burden, not talking spirits." Then the man spotted Kamil. "Where is your camel's second hump?" he asked.

   "This is a fine Calishite breed of camel," said Hakam. "They only have need of a single hump."

   The man offered to hold the camel and the wolf for two tael. Hakam then realized that they had forgotten to get their currency exchanged back at Uwaji, nor did he have any idea the value of a tael.

   Hakam apologized for his ignorance as to local currency. The man pulled out a small circular cord from his pouch, from which were strung a series of coins, each with holes in their centers. The man pointed to one of the silver coins. "Tael," he said. He touched a copper coin that was slightly larger than the silver one had been. "Yuan." Finally, he held up a slightly smaller copper coin. "Fen. This is the cheapest coin. The yuan is five fen. The tael is twenty yuan, or 100 fen. I will take 100 fen per animal."

   Hakam removed two silver pieces from his own pouch. "Will you accept these?"

   The man shook his head. "Those do not bear the emperor's seal," said the man. "You might be able to trade those to a silversmith for ten fen perhaps."

   Hakam tried a gold piece. The man made a funny face. "Is that gold? Your people use that for money? Gold is soft and easy to come by. You may be able to trade that to a goldsmith, but no one uses gold for money here."

   During this discussion, Szordrin secretly cast a few spells. He immediately heard the man's thoughts. He seemed to be praying, Tokiyuki-san, protect me from being swindled!

   Szordrin spoke to the man, "I do have something that you might be interested in." The wizard extracted an owl feather from the folds of his robe, one he used for stirring the magical concoction required for identifying enchanted items. "This is a feather from the rarest bird in Faerûn. Such a feather is of far greater worth than any silver coin, and you look like a worthy man, who respects the beauty of nature and its animals."

   "May I touch it?" asked the man. It was hard for the others to tell whether or not he believed Szordrin's words, but Szordrin knew that his lie had worked, for he still sensed the man's thoughts, and the stablehand was actually rather interested in the feather. He stroked it. "It is very soft, but is this not just an owl feather? Are owls very rare in your land?"

   "Forgive my friend," said Hakam. "He grew up underground, and birds are truly rare for him."

   The man looked like he was about to question this but hesitated and said nothing. Szordrin mentally confirmed what his body language was communicating. He had heard so many strange things in the previous several minutes to be beyond questioning what he was hearing any more. He just wanted to receive his pay and be finished with these strangers. He did not seem to have any anger or disgust at them; he simply wanted to be free of the stress of this abnormal interaction. He voiced thoughts about each of them in his head. Does she really have horns growing out of her skull? Did he really grow up underground? Why are so many of their ears so pointed and long?

   "Perhaps, in place of currency, I can offer my skills as a healer," offered Hakam.

   The man pondered the offer and then replied, "A friend of my wife has a mother who is very ill. The village medicine woman has not been able to help her. If you are able to heal her, I would be willing to keep your animals in exchange. If this is agreeable to you and your companions, you may leave your animals here, and I shall lead you to the sick woman."

   Happy for some forward progress, they did just this. Kamil was led into a stall, and Sif was tied to a long leash in the back. No other animals were in the large, high-roofed structure.

   The man, whose name was Tsunetsugu, led them into the southern half of the village, where the buildings were much smaller and clearly residential. Many of them were built directly adjacent to each other in rows. When the man reached his own small rowhome, he welcomed them to his "minka."

   Though he gave this welcome, it was clear that he did not desire them to actually set foot inside. They were able to see through the doorless entryway into the tiny one-room house with the typical fire pit set in the floor surrounded by mats. The man's wife was sitting on a mat, stirring a pot hanging from a chain over the coals. A tiny child's head, topped with long black hair, popped into view in each of the two windows on each side of the entryway, curious looks on their adorable, button-nosed faces.

   Hakam and Szordrin could hear the man asking his wife if the neighbor's mother was still ill. She was, and he explained the situation to her.

   Next, Tsunetsugu led them to another minka, this one a standalone farmhouse at the very southern edge of the village against the village wall and adjacent to a plot of tilled land of about 2,000 square feet in area. This tilled garden was full of various vegetables, which a number of village folk were tending. Most stopped what they were doing to observe the strange party pass by.

   At the second home, they once again remained outside, while Tsunetsugu talked to the man inside. (They heard the word gajin repeated frequently during the brief conversation.) The villagers only felt comfortable allowing Hakam and Sofi inside the house. The adventurers got the sense that inside a minka it was typically only fitting for women, children, and male relatives to enter — unrelated men were not permitted, much less gajin men.

   Sofi and Hakam found the woman curled up in the corner on a sleeping mat. She was coughing and shivering and barely conscious. Unfortunately, after examining her briefly visually, Hakam realized that his current divine powers for the day could cure her of bodily injury but not the illness from which she was currently suffering. Hakam informed Tsunetsugu of this but added, "However, if we wait until tomorrow, I can pray my god at dawn for the power to cure her current ailment, and I am certain that he will then grant my prayer."

   The man had trouble understanding why a prayer could not be offered now, but when Hakam explained that the divine powers had rules in place for how often they could interfere in mortal affairs, he ceased arguing.

   When Belvin understood that Hakam had not been able to help the sick woman, he offered to examine her next, claiming that his knowledge of herbal medicine might at least provide her relief from her present suffering until Hakam could fully heal her in the morning. Szordrin could read the man's thoughts, that he doubted this plan and its sincerity, but Belvin insisted, and Hakam supported his claim.

   Thus, simply finding a way to pay for the housing of their animals so that they could walk freely about the village proved to be a lengthy ordeal. Locals had to be questioned, with great difficulty, even with the use of magic, about what plants grew in and around the village. The village herbalist was eventually consulted, and she led Belvin and Leokas to a patch of red-tinged herbs by a stream outside the village. All the while, the others remained in the stable with the two animals, bored and frustrated at the waste of time. The two forest elves returned to them after a few hours, and Belvin used Sofi's pot to brew a tea from the roots of the red-leaved plant. When at last the sick woman was offered the drink, she thankfully felt relief almost immediately, so powerful were the drugs in the leaves.

   Belvin also showed the herbalist how to make more of the tea, and for this they were extremely thankful. At last, Tsunetsugu seemed satisfied that they had earned their stay in the village, and he promised them that their animals could stay as long as needed without further fee.

   By now, the sun was much higher in the sky, and it was late morning. They had moved about enough that folk no longer looked at them with fear, though the curiosity did not seem to have lessened. Hakam had to cast another instance of his communication spell, and they finally set about at their original goal. They stood at the very center of the village now, outside the stable. Looking north, to their right was one of the largest buildings in the settlement, which they guessed to be an inn. To their left was a shop selling various small carts. Further down the main road to the west was a woman selling fruits and vegetables. The dirt path to the north was narrower than the main road running perpendicular to it. It rose with a gentle incline to reach a stone wall with a small gate house some 40 or so yards distant at the northern end of the village. They suspected this to be the path to the shoya's house.

   This was the way that they went. Along the way, past the supposed inn, there was a shop selling wooden tables and stools on the left and a shop selling bows on the right. The latter caught Leokas' attention, not surprisingly. He motioned to the craftsman a request to handle one of the weapons on display outside the shop, and the man nodded his consent. Leokas raised the bow and examined it. They were fairly well-constructed, though Leokas himself could have done better. The style of the bow was unlike any he had seen, however. They were composite bows, with significant recurve, but they were crafted asymmetrically, with the grip positioned lower than the center. Leokas asked Hakam for help communicating with the man.

   Ankokuji Fujitsuna explained that the weapon was called a yumi and that there were two sizes. The longbow, which was the length of Kytharrah, was called a dai-kyu, and the shorter version was called a han-kyu. These fired longer arrows than those commonly used in Faerûn, and these missiles were called ya. Fujitsuna offered to sell the han-kyu for seven ch'ien and five tael, but Leokas communicated that he was only browsing, because the style of bow was so different in his lands. He shared his own self-crafted darkwood longbow with the bowyer, who was impressed with the work.

   Meanwhile, most of the others had drifted up the road, as the next shop on the right was a brewer. Kytharrah's nose was instead attracted to the butcher's shop across from the brewer. Hakam encouraged Leokas to end his inquiry, so that they could accomplish their task.

   Now they reached the gatehouse. The wall around the shoya's home was of stone, not of wood, and its roof was tiled, like the walls in most of Uwaji had been. Beyond the wall, a two-story home rose, with a tiered, tiled roof. A guard emerged from the gate house, having spotted them through one of its windows. He was dressed and armed in a manner very similar to Toyoharu, the guard whom they had met on the trail near the bridge where Yunoko had been murdered.

   "Yamete!" he said. "Halt!" Hakam heard.

   Hakam explained their purpose and showed the man their official document from the shogun. They were permitted to enter. The estate was about a quarter of an acre in size and included a small stone-rimmed pool, several trees of the kind in the forest through which they had passed, and a stone lantern. The guard kept looking back at them with confusion as he led them along. He stopped them at the entrance to the house, telling them to wait without until he had notified Shoya Nambu of their coming.

   It was only a minute later that the guard returned and permitted them to enter. The guard glared unapprovingly at Sofi, who, as she was told to do, stood at the back of the group. "Kytharrah," she called, "Let us go look at the pool together! Maybe there will be another fish-dragon." He happily obeyed her, and they crossed the grass to the northwest corner while the the others stepped up into the house, which was elevated slightly above the ground.

   For someone who was the Kara-Turan equivalent of a mayor, the home was relatively simple, though larger and better-roofed than the peasants' minka. Furnishings and decorations were sparse. The ceiling was supported by six solid posts in two rows, which effectively divided the large open space into three "rooms". The northern room had a medium sized mat, upon which sat a wooden board with black and white stones arrayed in a strange pattern at the intersections of a carved grid. (Solisar suspected that this was some sort of board game.) Shoya Nambu Seimei sat behind a low wooden table on a large floor mat in the southern third of the open space. He was unmistakably the shoya, being dressed in a far fancier and nobler way than the peasants outside his walls. He wore armor over his robes, but it was likely ceremonial, not practical. Solisar quickly bowed, and the others mimicked his behavior quickly.

   "Yokoso! said the man, with the friendliest tone that they had yet heard during their time in Wa. Hakam heard, "Welcome!" The shoya immediately continued in his tongue. "Gajin from a distant land, I am told that you bear a letter from the shogun allowing you to pass through our country. I can only surmise that you are sent with a noble task by our Great Commander. May I inquire as to what this task is?"

   "You speak the truth," answered Hakam. "We are looking into the death of another foreigner, a half-foreigner, to be precise." Hakam went on to describe the death of Yunoko and asked if the shoya could confirm any of the details for them. Shoya Nambu was probably in the later half of his fifth decade, so Hakam hoped that he might remember the incident of 35 years ago.

   "Yes, yes," said Seimei, after some thought, "I think that I recall the incident about which you are speaking. My father was shoya at that time. I was much younger then, so I had no direct involvement in the matter, but I remember that there was a murder reported east of the village. The shogun's own metsuke arrived and rounded up thirteen individuals, whom they claimed were involved in a conspiracy to assassinate the ambassador of a gajin land. Those men were summarily impaled on the road, and justice was served."

   "Why would they have wanted to harm the ambassador?" asked Szordrin through Hakam.

   "I do not remember this detail occurring, but, supposedly, the ambassador had earlier visited our village. No doubt, she would have passed through our village many times. Bunden is a crossroads village, which is why it exists at all. Here the road from Uwaji forks to go north to Uminonagame. If you continue west, there is a trail to reach the Hayatura Road. The Hayatura Road is the major highway that goes from the east coast to the west coast through the mountains. For those coming from the west coast to visit the capital, you must pass through Bunden. While we are not a large population, the shogun knows how important we are, for we guard the crossroads." He spoke these words with obvious pride and seemed to have forgotten the actual question.

   "But the ambassador's visit...?" pushed Hakam.

   "Oh, I was just saying that she must have passed through here many times. Supposedly, so the shogun's investigators said, on one of the times that she passed through, she had dealings with the yakuza, which angered them, so they killed her off."

   "Ask him about the rakshasa, and tell him about the severed hand that we found," said Szordrin.

   Hakam chose a more tactful route of questioning. "The reason we have come is that we have discovered new evidence that suggests that it was not the yakuza — or at least not the yakuza alone — who killed her. Have you ever heard of a variety of oni called by some cultures the rakshasa?"

   When the man showed confusion at the term, Hakam went on to describe the fiendish creature in more detail. "No," said Nambu Seimei, "many beings from the Spirit World cross over into ours, but I have not heard of such a kind as this before in any tales."

   "What can you tell us about the yakuza in this region? Do they still exist?"

   The shoya scoffed at this idea. "No, no, they were driven away after the thirteen were executed. They would not dare return to this law-abiding village again!"

   "Would the yakuza, in general, be expected to work with such a fiendish spirit to achieve their ends? Or would they be unwilling to permit outsiders into their circles?"

   "The yakuza are only men, and most men — rightly so — fear the spirits of those who are not their own ancestors or who are not the benevolent nature spirits that bless them with seasonal crops. I shall reply, however, that I am a samurai. The matters that concern me are matters of honor and state. I cannot even fathom the ways of honorless men like the yakuza to answer to what levels of evil they might lower themselves. As to these tiger spirits, you may wish to speak with the monks at our local monastery, who know far more about the Spirit World than do I." He tossed his head over his shoulder, as if the monastery were behind him.

   "Ask him if they have any written records of the murder," suggested Solisar.

   "This was a matter of concern to the shogunate; my father's men had no part to play in the investigation."

   "What can you tell us about the bridge outside of town to the east?" asked Hakam.

   "The bridge? It is a bridge built and maintained by the carpenters of Bunden. It is required by the laws of the shogunate that we maintain the road from here to Uwaji. So too do our people place the lanterns along the road's path to light the way by night. You probably passed the lantern maker and the carpenter on the way to my house."

   "Have there been any rumors of increased spirit activity in the area of the bridge since the murder?" asked Belvin through Hakam.

   "I know of none," replied Seimei.

   "Or within the village? In the last 35 years?" asked Hakam.

   "The peasants speak of seeing the spirits of their ancestors often;" said the shoya. "Such tales are common all over Wa. Whether there is any truth to such stories, I cannot say. Again, such are matters for a monk to consider, not a samurai like myself. I know that my father's spirit watches over me and his father's and his father's father's, and they bless my daisho, yet I have not seen them with my mortal eyes."

   "Is the bridge known as an ambush point for highwaymen?" asked Hakam.

   "No, no, the journey from Bunden to Uwaji is a safe one. This close to the capital, few bandits would dare test the shogun by committing a crime so near his walls. If you were to travel the trail to the Hayatura Road, there have been unfortunate instances of bandits along that way. Before the Hayatura Road truly passes into the mountains, the shogun stations guards at fortresses to protect the civilized lands from invaders from the mountain wildernesses. If one plans to travel through the mountains, he is wise to keep an armed retinue with him."

   "Do you have any memories of a one-armed or one-handed visitor passing through your village around the same time as the ambassador's death?" asked Solisar.

   The shoya did not.

   Meanwhile, the shoya's wife or a female servant came from a passage on the back wall and offered the visitors tea. Belvin used the skills that he had learned from Hina to properly except the tea cup and smell and taste its contents. (Solisar explained to him in Elvish that this was not a formal ceremony, so how he held the tea cup mattered not, but Belvin treated the tasting formally nevertheless.) It was only fair tea; the tea at Hina's had been of much higher quality.

   Hakam recalled that Yunoko had come to Bunden at that time to investigate a beating. So he asked Shoya Nambu about that.

   "I do not recall the full details of that event either, but, yes, there had been a traveller from one of your lands who had been found beaten and almost died. The man did survive and recovered fully and went on his way afterward. The innkeeper may recall more details of the man's visit, as the man stayed there during his recovery. The village has only one inn, and the same man still runs it. I remember that the event happened but nothing of who it was that had beaten him or why."

   "Was anyone sent to investigate the beating?"

   "I do not remember."

   "I have but a few more questions regarding the yakuza," said Hakam. "Do any of the thirteen executed yakuza still have family members living in the village?"

   Again, the noble seemed disgusted at having to talk about the yakuza, as if it were beneath him. Otherwise, his tone had remained very polite and friendly thus far. He answered, "To join the yakuza is to abandon one's own family. The yakuza become your new family in its place. No family would ever admit to having a member in the yakuza, and no yakuza member would ever claim to be a part of any family beyond the yakuza."

   "I understand that no family would admit this, but do you know of any individuals remaining in the village who in fact were related by blood to these executed men?"

   "What are you insinuating? That some of our people maintain secret connections to a criminal gang?" The change in the man's tone was abrupt.

   "I apologize," said Hakam, while giving a polite bow. "I did not mean to offend; I am only looking for more information regarding the task that the shogun sent us to investigate."

   The shoya returned to his more friendly tone. "If that is everything you need, please be on your way, and may the gods grant you success in your investigation."

   "Before we leave," said Hakam, with as much politeness as he could muster, "would you be willing to direct us to this monastery of which you earlier spoke?"

   "It rests in the northeastern corner of the village. You will find both a shrine and its monastery there."

   "Are there other elders in the village who would have been present during the time of these events?" asked Hakam, getting in one last question.

   "You are welcome to speak with whomever you will; you have the shogun's notice. There are numbers of villagers older than I. My recommendation, as I noted already, is to speak with the innkeeper if you wish to know more about the man who had been beaten at around the same time as the ambassador's death. That is all that I can suggest. I repeat that I was but a youth when these things occurred and had no official role in Bunden's leadership at that time. Everything was handled by men from the shogunate."

   Hakam thanked the shoya for his hospitality, and then the group departed.

   Back outside the shoya's gatehouse, Hakam made sure that everyone understood all the questions and answers that had been exchanged, in case he had forgotten to translate anything during the actual meeting.

   Hakam asked Szordrin if he had been reading any minds while in the house, but the wizard had already used that spell on the stablekeeper earlier in the day.

   Solisar spoke. "Since he became so agitated when questioned about the yakuza, we should find out when it was that Nambu Seimei actually came to power. It seems possible to me that perhaps members of his own family were among those executed, which would explain his agitation."

   "That is an interesting line of thought," agreed Hakam.

   "Obviously, discretion would be warranted for such a line of questioning. Perhaps the monks could speak to this."

   "I very much would like to see what other monks are like," said Sofi, who had left the estate with them. "I suspect that Wanese monks are very different than either Master Sarl or the githzerai."

   "No fish dragon," reported Kytharrah proudly.
Session: 125th Game Session - Monday, Dec 14 2020 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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Tags: Bunden , Chapter 3 , Recap , Wa
Journal Entry 3: sleepover at Ashok's
Journal of Gibbs
Cerberus Assembly Order of Dunamantic Inquiry

Finally, I can get some rest! Our all-nighter quest for Volo's gay lover has concluded successfully. After a botched attempt at a multi-point simultaneous breach-and-clear maneuver, we successfully rescued Floon Bragmar from the clutches of the Xanathar Guild.

There is much to discuss, but first, I must inform the Assembly that an operative has died in the line of duty. We breached the chamber where Floon was being held and encountered a mind flayer, an orc spellcaster, and what appeared to be a humanoid brain with four legs (fucking mind flayers). The mind flayer made a quick escape by way of a portal/portal key. We dispatched the spellcaster and the mind flayer's pet brain, when another pet brain leapt out of the skull of the slain orc spellcaster. We dealt with this threat as well before realizing that the orc spellcaster was no orc at all, but rather a doppelganger in disguise. We examined his remains and discovered a "fragment of possibility" along with a note from the Assembly thanking him for spying on the Xanathar Guild.

Bad way to go... brain ripped out and replaced by a mind flayer's pet... I did't know this operative, but it should be noted that he died protecting the Dwendalian Empire. Perhaps in the future the Assembly will see fit to notify me of other operatives working in the same region as me so that further loss of life can be prevented!

We learned from Floon that the Xanathar Guild is seeking the Stone of Galor and intends to use it somehow to locate Gabriel Rymmer's stash of half a million gold pieces that he has embezzled and hidden over the years. We also learned that the Xanathar Guild believes that Myriad is in possession of the stone. Intriguing... Myriad believes Xanathar has the stone and Xanathar believes Myriad has the stone... Someone is clearly playing the two gangs against each other... but to what end??

We departed the sewers and reunited gay lovers Floon and Volo at the Dimension Door. Would you believe it... after all that effort... fucking Volo isn't even good for the money he promised us! I told him that he would be hung for this in the Empire. In lieu of his promised payment Volo offered us a fucking haunted mansion (Troll Skull Manor). What a piece of shit. At least he was able to provide me with a bit of information about the mind flayer we encountered. The creature is named Nihilor and is apparently the Xanathar's right-hand man (despite being equal in magical power to the beholder).

Since the Dimension Door has no rooms for rent and is set to open their door for breakfast soon Leon and I have relocated to Ashok's house to finally get some sleep. It has been an eventful evening...

PS: I'm quite confident I will win my 10 gp wager with Sunshine when that sack of shit Xanathar gangbanger fails to show up at her hippie commune...

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8 Easy Facts About Hemp Oil Vs Cbd Oil
For that issue, hemp oil items do not contain any type of cannabinoids. This is an essential distinction, triggering our following point. So, What's The Difference? Hemp oil, i. e. hempseed oil, is stemmed from the marijuana sativa plant just like CBD. Nonetheless, the major distinction between hemp oil and CBD oil is in their loved one cannabinoid content (or do not have thereof).

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Allow's very first define each term. Technically talking, hemp oil is an oil derived from the hemp seeds, while it's extremely abundant in a selection of nutrients, it almost has no CBD content since CBD is located in various other parts of the plant.

CBD oil originates from the blossoms, stalks, as well as leaves of the hemp plant.
CBD is merely one substance in hemp, that just occurs to be one of the most popular one. Customers ofter consider the term CBD to imply marijuana minus the THC, which is the psychoactive substance that makes marijuana a prohibited material. When individuals are in search of CBD oil, they are not necessarily seeking just pure CBD.

All about Cbd Oil Vs. Hemp Oil: What's The Difference, & What To Use ...

Therefore, it is the responsibility of market leaders like American Medicine man, to enlighten consumers on the terms they will find as they research CBD. As a result of certain limitations within the market, business feel they can not utilize the term "CBD oil. "The FDA has not started regulating CBD, although it has approved a CBD-based medicine for epilepsy.

It includes a high level of omega fats, in addition to a significant quantity of healthy protein. The seeds of the hemp plant do not consist of cannabinoids or any of the other substances that are typically demanded in CBD items. Recognizing CBD oil brings context to comprehending CBD vs.

CBD is a cannabinoid located in the hemp plant. Hemp normally has a variety of cannabinoids. CBD is located in both the hemp and marijuana plants, yet CBD and THC are inversely correlated. The even more THC (psychedelic), the much less CBD (non-psychoactive) and also vice versa. So, CBD oil items are made from plants with high degrees of CBD as well as trace quantities of THC.

A lot of research has been performed to research the special homes of this cannabinoid, and because of this, many individuals take it day-to-day for various health benefits. Currently, let's bring CBD separate into the discussion. A lot of people assume CBD oil is CBD isolate, but this is not always the situation.
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Character images in a 2 player game
Character poses in 2 player games have different character designs. Each character in the game is fitted with different controls on the same keyboard. Join 2 players with friends to explore the final levels of each game. Here the latest character profiles will be updated. Refer copter io.
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Tags: io games