Newly liberated of body is the party, we walk to the liberated North Wall city. An ashigarui conveys an invitation from the lord Dragon Tagoshi for us to meet him. We approach the walls with the two children safely among us. I note the walls look like a porcupine, covered as they are in arrows. It is the aftermath of battle, fires burn in the city, the attacker’s dead samurai bodies are wrapped in tatami mats laid in rows like cobblestone on the road to hell. The fire to be provided by the bodies of the fallen defenders in the pits here beyond the wall. So as to not go with renown the washed heads of the defenders are stacked in small pyramids waiting to be tagged with their names, fates and the names of those seeking glory with a claim.
The dojon of the castle on the rise is askew from the passing of the summoned earthquake and through the gate are a number of collapsed structures. We pass a field where the defeated Mitanaka redeem what honor they can in seppuku.
I learn that this is Hikozaemon’s home town, where he was a porter before becoming the retainer of the Crab. He appears disturbed, a novice to such scenes. We stop at a strange sight. A collection of folk, including some porters that the esteemable Hikozaemon recogonizes along with a palanquin, several samurai and peasents. There is a screen set up in a battered square behind which 3 robed men chant. Some esoteric order’s prayer for an ailing city? No one in the party recognizes the chant of the screened figures being echoed by the small crowd.
There is a smell of air before thunder, thunder and a smoke ring in the middle of the sky! Flames breathe down from this mighty opening and strike the castle, a strike of deadly intent. Most of the watchers drop dead! Sorcery. We attack.
The alert scorpion Shosuro smells burning gaijin powder in the air, famaliar and frightening, she pulls the Dragon and Hikozaemon back behind a solid wall, the Thousand Fortune monk Shigaru follows herding back the children. I attack, rushing to get behind the screen, passing the palanquin. The Crab rushes across the top of the square to block the only other exit.
Those small mistakes in time and distance – the bomb is in the palanquin, not behind the screen. I think of rushing back but, too late, I learn I can fly but not land well. All those closer then I, dead or alive are turned to a red paste. I am severely injured, unable to act. The cautious members are fine, the Crab only inconvenienced by his deafness. I do see bloody bandages covered in orange fur and strange diagrams behind the screen. The square fills with a blinding dust. The fortunes did not favor our foes too heavily as they are knocked from their feet and perhaps deafened as well. The Scorpion strings her bow, the Mirumoto rushes to join the Crab and Shigaru walks into the cloud seeking to aid those who may have survived. The Crab approaches one of the fallen foes and strikes downward with his returned hammer, injuring them. The smoke filling the square makes all inside it unable to see past an arms length.
I am stunned and unable to anything other then contemplate my own bodily disorder. Shosuro now rushes forward to join the fray, bow in hand. The Crab’s foe is revealed to be covered in tattoos. He is not discomforted by his place on the ground – some alien monk. The Crab strikes him again and is joined by the Dragon. No blood is drawn by the sword, but he is injured. Another of the foes gets back on his feet, then there are two of him! Shigaru finds a blind and deaf samurai in the cloud, not ready for anothers assistance he lashes out, he grasps him cleverly and throws him down in a now destroyed fountain. Shosuro awaits an opening, someone to exit the cloud of smoke.
From the cloud the last of the gaijin, honorless worms reveals themselves to the Mirumoto – a rakshasa, injuring him slightly. He ignores this foe to strike mightily and kill the alien monk at his feet. The Hida does not and lays his hammer into this foul creature. Shigaru waits and tries to reason with the pain mad samurai.
The rakshasa appears at the edge of the smoke cloud as it tries to maneuver around the cloud. A tactical neccissity for it, an oppurtunity for the Scorpion, who shoots – the arrow is turned away as if by a strong wind, more alien sorcery. The rakshasa casts a spell on itself, the Crab finds his blow met by an arm like cast iron. The iron shatters under his blow, blood spews forth, ending this threat. The Mirumoto attacks one of the double gaijins to find it pops like a soap bubble dream. The other casts and becomes as invisible as the wind. My Thousand Fortune monk brother renders the wounded samurai calm.
I hold on to this life but loosely and only as long as I focus on the Void I would and would not join.
One experience point