Real Time: 29 March 2016
Game Time: 5 March 1175
-> White Sparrow -> Mysterious Island
On the morning of March 5, the party sets out towards the docks in the company of Moshi Chiroku and Yorimoto Masako, with their prisoner Domogu in tow. Akiyama notes that three of his arrows appear to be missing, and he doesn't recall dropping them the previous day. A thorough search of his room reveals no indication of a break-in.
North of the docks, the party can see the Dawning Moon kobune careened up on the beach with its scant crew attempting to start repairs. Captain Shara greets the party and offers her apologies for not attending to their summons the previous night. She explains that the damage to her vessel was greater than anticipated, and the water surged in odd ways on the way to port, causing them to strike a hidden rock. Her men are working as hard as they can, but she asks for any assistance the party may be able to offer. Toshiro confirms with the dockmaster that materials for the repair of the Dawning Moon will be provided by the Daimyo, using the party's magesterial writ as authorization.
As they approach the docks, they encounter Kuro (the young peasant who Utamuro had enlisted from the forest ambush) as he leads a group of a dozen other peasants up towards the bridge project to work. They all stop and thank Utamuro profusely for the chance to add to the greatness of the empire.
As the party passes the Water Temple on the docks, Shoutaro and Byakuya stop in to offer some prayers. Within the temple grounds a number of monks are seen practicing Tai Chi, led by the one-armed Brother Toketsu. Both Shoutaro and Byakuya note that the forms being practiced by the monks are an unusual martial art not familiar to them. Additionally, they note that the artwork and iconography over the temple entrance seems slightly off or unbalanced, as if a different artist finished a portion of it with a different style or something like it.
Observation of Soh's barge, moored just off the docks, reveals his masked female assistant walking along the deck, but without the limp she showed the previous night. Additionally, there are muffled sounds of shouting coming from the belly of the vessel, though it is likely just deckhands shouting back and forth to each other.
Just as the party boards the White Sparrow, a living bird (also a white sparrow) flies unerringly towards the command deck, and alights on Toshiro's shoulder. The bird whispers into Toshiro's ear the following message: "Magistrate, your message has been received. Workers will be gathered for the bridge. Investigate the darkness, but be wary. Such cancers must be purged from the land and all memory. Do not show weakness." The Mantis crew view the arrival of this white sparrow to be a good omen and set out cheerfully.
Domogu guides the White Sparrow towards the northern end of the island in the middle of the river, and eventually points out a break in the steep cliff walls which is almost invisible to the naked eye. Domogu insists that the passage is wide enough for the ship, though Captain Chiroku is dubious and recommends weighing anchor and ferrying the party in aboard the ship's launch. Eventually, with the help of Akiyama's cartography and Utamuro's eagle-eyes, a carefully hidden path through the cliffs is observed. Caution prevails and the ship's launch is set out with the party and Moshi Takuji. The passage is indeed barely wide-enough for a full-sized Kobune, but it would have been a particularly perilous trek. As it is, the ship's launch almost runs afoul of hidden rocks, but Akiyama directs the boat away from the rocks.
The launch pulls up against an ancient stone pier in a small hidden cove and the Mantis crew stay with the boat, while the Crane (and Domogu) ascend the steep trail up the cliff face. After some minor difficulties due to the narrow path, the party makes it to the top, where they find an overgrown, but still stout 20' wall ringing the top of the island. Eventually, they also find an overgrown set of doors through the wall. When prompted for further guidance, Domogu claims that he only ever set foot on the pier down below, where he would meet The Master, and ferry him back to the mainland. Toshiro then starts back down to the launch with Domogu in tow in order to stow him with the Mantis.
Just after rounding the first switchback, the twang of a bow is heard from the top of the wall and Toshiro is nearly pulled over the cliff edge when Domogu falls, presumably to his arrow-impaled doom. A flicker of motion atop the walls is seen, and the party quickly reacts to the attack. Utamuro and the twins set up to breach the door, while Akiyama climbs the wall via a grappling hook and Toshiro lifts Byakuya using the power of the air kami.
Once the door is breached, the inside of the complex is revealed to be dominated by two buildings, and encircled with walls on all sides. Directly opposite the doorway is a large single-story stone building, which on further assessment is unusually tall for a single-story building (~20'). Adjacent to this building is another taller, but more normally-proportioned 4-story building. The taller building shows significant signs of aging, with collapsed walls and roof sections, while the single-story building seems to be largely in-tact and very stout. Around the buildings, the rest of the island appears to be heavily overgrown, with waist-high grasses and shrubbery dominating the environment.
Once atop the wall, Akiyama is able to assess that the alley between these buildings has seen some recent foot-traffic, while the inside perimeter of the complex bears the signs of either animal tracks, or simply skilled hunter's tracks. Akiyama is also able to step down from the perimeter wall via a collapsed portion of the wall pointed out by the twins, on which he finds a large reptile scale similar to that found at the hidden camp on the previous day. Further south in the compound there appears to be a main gate in the perimeter wall and two further buildings, one of which appears to be surrounded by a secondary palisade.
Further flickers of movement are observed at the south end of these two buildings, eventually resolving into at least two large (15+') tall statues of half-human-half-serpent figures wielding naginata, and at least one similar creature hiding behind one of the statues. A loud series of hisses is heard echoing eerily down the alley, and some of the party are able to make out what sounds like the words "Intruders" and "Stand" followed by further incomprehensible hisses. Finally, a large serpentine form slithers forth to the mouth of the alley and begins to speak.
Moshi Chiroku – Mantis Captain
Yorimoto Masako – Mantis Shugenja
Domogu – captured ferry operator
Moshi Takuji – Friendly Mantis Sailor
Shara – Ronin Captain
All Players receive 4 XP