0002 - Xiao Kang.   Posted by Dao Master.Group: 0
Xiao Kang
 player, 66 posts
 Dharma Name: Fu Su
 In: Zhanbei Jienu Hu
Mon 26 Jul 2021
at 13:51
0002 - Xiao Kang
Right - this was what he was looking for, so he couldn't really complain about finding it, could he?

The beast seemed slow, wounded and exhausted - but a creature not wounded enough was only more dangerous, as proven by the piles of crushed corpses in the village.

Time to find out what the strange trinket did. Swallowing his doubts with a dry throat he stepped forward, dark gem held between hardened fingers and aimed at the house-sized Hippo's eyes.
If this did nothing he was going to look very, very stupid in a moment. And probably very flat.

Leaving here an initiative roll, just in case it turns out useful:
15:51, Today: Xiao Kang rolled 99 using 1d100+25.  Initiative.

Dao Master
 GM, 87 posts
Tue 27 Jul 2021
at 16:19
0002 - Xiao Kang
In reply to Xiao Kang (msg # 28):

As you hold the gem towards the Hippo's eyes, it freezes and begins to become extremely unstable at its feet.

You can scarcely believe your eyes as you see some sort of very faint green orb of light emerging from the Hippo's body and gathering towards the Dark Gem! The Gem begins to glow in a faint green light as you begin to feel it grow warm to your touch. But abruptly - you begin to notice the orbs of light that emerged from the hippo in the process of entering the gem suddenly return to the hippo!

The Dark gem is no longer dark but appears mildly glowing with a greenish glow!

But you see the Hippo before you Roaring in a sort of drunken manner, but considerably less threatening than what you'd expect from an adult Hippo.

It stumbles about unsteadily, colliding with the cave wall and tries to tackle you! [above 72 to dodge/parry/block. 7 damage on a fail]

For some reason the Hippo appears to be a lot weaker than you expected!
Xiao Kang
 player, 75 posts
 Dharma Name: Fu Su
 In: Zhanbei Jienu Hu
Tue 27 Jul 2021
at 17:37
0002 - Xiao Kang
Xiao Kang barely had the time to cross his arms between himself and the hippo in a clumsy block before getting flung against the rocky wall of the cave and bouncing back on his feet. Despite the thundering crack of the impact, it didn't feel like anything was broken. Yet.

However he didn't know how much time he had to play with the Hippo: with no idea of how long the gem's effect would last or if it would work a second time, he had to make sure the beast would no longer be a threat to the village now - and with his own defenses already fading, he also had to be fast about it!

A dash and he circled around the clumsy behemoth, reaching for the back-left leg in an attempt to fully unbalance it and end things quickly. Little and ring fingers wrapped around the gem, he struck the massive leg with three quick, swinging hits with his index in rapid succession, releasing Qi on each impact to send the resonant strikes to flow like water past the thick, naturally armored skin and bruise flesh and bone.

...there had to be a vulnerable knee somewhere under there, right?

Just a moment of intense combat and he felt his breath already start to run ragged - he had to be better preared for future fights.

Manifest Chitin: 2 rounds used out of 5
Finger Striking Posture: 3 rounds used out of 10
HP: 18/20
Qi: 7/30
Strike 1: Hit 131, Dmg 11
Strike 2: Hit 104, Dmg 10
Strike 3: Hit 71, Dmg 7
18:35, Today: Xiao Kang rolled 26 using 1d100.  Pathetic attempt at dodging.
18:35, Today: Xiao Kang rolled 5 using 2d4.  Reducing the hit.
19:15, Today: Xiao Kang rolled 131 using 1d100+47.  Strike 1.
19:29, Today: Xiao Kang rolled 11 using 1d6+1d4+1.  Strike 1, dmg.
19:16, Today: Xiao Kang rolled 104 using 1d100+47.  Strike 2.
19:29, Today: Xiao Kang rolled 10 using 1d6+1d4+1.  Strike 2, dmg.
19:24, Today: Xiao Kang rolled 71 using 1d100+47.  Strike 3.
19:30, Today: Xiao Kang rolled 7 using 1d6+1d4+1.  Strike 3, dmg.

Dao Master
 GM, 93 posts
Wed 28 Jul 2021
at 16:56
0002 - Xiao Kang
In reply to Xiao Kang (msg # 30):

The hippo's earlier strike lands you somewhere near his left back leg and you quickly manage to strike the Hippo's thick foot.

While your strikes seem to bounce off the flabby fatty hide covered flesh of the Hippo, your first two strikes surprisingly produce a satisfying "THOK" sound indicating their resonant effects. The third strike however did not seem to go through.

Just as your second strike makes the loud sound, you hear a faint cracking sound - as though some bone had been fractured! Following this sound is the roar of agony from the Hippo, who thrashes about! But as it stomps its heavily injured left front foot, its pain is only made more excruciating, causing it to roll on the ground and collide against the wall.

This time, while holding up the gem while striking, you notice that the faint green orbs seem to emerge in greater number from the hippo, and eventually after it collapses, more light gathers into the gem until it begins to give off a very warm aura and glows strongly with a green light.

Based on your hearing, you are also realise that the Hippo's breathing has completely ceased!

It seems that the Hippo had already been considerable weakened by the numerous attacks done to it earlier, alongside the strange effects of this gem that now emits a strong green light.
Xiao Kang
 player, 77 posts
 Dharma Name: Fu Su
 In: Zhanbei Jienu Hu
Wed 28 Jul 2021
at 17:58
0002 - Xiao Kang
Like he had on every other corpse so far, Xiao Kang stopped for a moment of prayer near the body of the Hippo, rain falling to the ground as it dripped down the edges of his hat. The prayer was as much for the beast as for himself: he couldn't help but feel a tinge of... not necessarily guilt, but certainly powerlessness and regret. The creature was equally a victim and a culprit: it probably wouldn't have attacked before being provoked, but had to be stopped after it did. And weakened as it was, it would probably have died on its own - just slower and more painfully.

Could this be solved without killing it? Probably. Could he have solved this without killing it? He had to admit, probably no. His defensive tricks were neither strong nor long-lasting enough to hold it back without attacking while it exhausted itself. Maybe by not using the gem? But would he have been able to defeat it without weakening it? Once again, it was a matter of acutely lacking power - or at least lacking options: a restraining technique would have gone a long way.

Now - the gem. He held it in his hand just for ease, as he didn't want it to fall on the muddy ground and also didn't have the time to pocket it back to safety. Now that it glowed bright he examined it once again. This was the thing the Four Yin Sect wanted. Why? He had the feeling giving it wouldn't be the wisest course of action, but could it be put to better use? Questions for later, time to wrap things up.

He checked beneath the Hippo's left foot, wondering if the strange spike imprints were just a trap it stumbled upon or something stranger, then pushed into the cave, trying to remember if interesting herbs and fungi grew into Swamp Hippo dens - he wasn't looking forward to poking his nose into the foul-smelling cavern, but after arriving this far it would have been stupid to miss the chance of a rare herb just for the smell of Hippo droppings.

After being done there the course was clear: return to the shrine for a moment of meditation to not be completely defenseless on the road, then toss on the wagon the food and valuables (minus, of course, the three coins he used as offering), stop by the village to load the wounded woman and head to town as fast as possible. He'd be absolutely exhausted after returning, but his wounds weren't too dire and he could probably wait to collapse asleep once he was back into civilization.

If the villagers at the tea house recognized the goods and silverware he'd return the stolen bounty, otherwise... well, otherwise he needed money himself.
Dao Master
 GM, 97 posts
Thu 29 Jul 2021
at 13:46
0002 - Xiao Kang
In reply to Xiao Kang (msg # 32):

As you check the Hippo's front left foot, you notice that there is indeed a large leg calf sized rusting metal spike driven almost all the way into the leg. Judging from the make of the spike - it looks rather crude and seemed to have been rather shoddily fashioned.

As you head into the cave, you notice the smell getting more and more foul, but eventually you come to notice that your footsteps are growing softer and softer with every step forward. Eventually what comes into your sight appears to be a White mushroom with a spiky cap growing along one of the wet walls on which similarly white lichen grows. It seems to faintly shimmer with a faint white light.

As you approach this mushroom, you start to notice the sounds of your footsteps almost completely disappearing and soon you can only hear the sound of your heartbeat and a very faint ringing sound from your head.

Whether you collect the mushroom or not, you eventually manage to return to the shrine, meditating until you recover your qi. By the time you return to the village with the loaded wagon, you find the woman still unconscious but still in a relatively fine condition. After loading the wagon, you travel back under the cover of night.

Fortunately, the journey back to town was considerably cold, it was thankfully uneventful, and eventually at dawn, you approach the open gates of Pengquan.

You notice a number of people staring at you as you wheel the wagon towards the Pavilion of Profound charity.

There you meet with the refugees who are overjoyed to discover that the woman you saved were the brothers' close friend.

Eventually you find the healer monks arriving and hearing the tale of your encounter with a very pleased expression while they tend to the woman's wounds with more advance acupuncture and a more sturdy and well made splint.

"We are truly indebted to your great charity Master Fu! We swear on our lives to repay you someday! Please, return to Zhilin Village someday - we will spread the word of your magnamity for generations to come!" The brothers kneel down before you, cupping their hands while gazing at you with an expression of considerable gratefulness.

"Not only did you rescue a person from the the village, you also brought back the items the refugees need to continue their livelihoods. Impressive, very impressive indeed! You see Bao Shou - Karmic involvement isn't as banal as you say. It is thanks to our perpetual service to the public that we have discovered another companion who can help us tread the path towards enlightenment!" Bao Xing cheerfully says as Bao Shou nods with wide open eyes as though he had realised some profound truth.

"Truly well done Fu Su.  Your service will allow me to recommend you a position in the Noble Flame Sect if you wish. No doubt we will require someone with such resolve and ability in our sect. Of course, we will not pressure you to join if you do not wish. Having had this encounter is already considered quite a blessing to us!"
Xiao Kang
 player, 89 posts
 Dharma Name: Fu Su
 In: Zhanbei Jienu Hu
Thu 29 Jul 2021
at 16:32
0002 - Xiao Kang
Xiao Kang took a few moments to examine the mushroom, trying to guess at its properties then probably just picked it up, unless he was sure it'd lose its qualities if not immediately processed into a pill.

Once back in town he basked in the compliment of the villagers - this was certainly a new sensation, and not an unwelcome one. Of course, the downside of the warm and fuzzy feelings was that he now had less Taels than when he started this adventure. But he could always earn more of those. Probably? He certainly hoped so.

"This wanderer is grateful for elder's generous offer." He addressed Bao Xing, hands joined in a clearly thankful bow. He WAS indeed grateful, and joining them would probably be the best for his training: he still needed to learn the foundation of several key skills, and had to at least understand more of the golden bell before he could hope to advance his Cultivation - even if it was weird his own teacher didn't recommend a sect. "But before elder extends it, he should know that this one's past leaves him with a pretty heavy karmic debt to repay, a debt that might push him to travel -" He didn't like talking about the details, but this wasn't the time to lie. "- and with a colorful collection of people who wouldn't believe - or appreciate - that he's working on settling it. That's two things..."

He paused for a moment - almost embarrassed as he tried to settle on the words to continue. "...The third is that this one's training so far has been a little unorthodox -" Not to mention that it barely lasted more than a year, with not much time to learn the specifics of different sects. "- Could elder tell him more of the Noble Flame Sect, and of the duties of a new member?" Ignorance PROBABLY wasn't too big of a sin? He could only hope.

"And speaking of sects -" For this part of the conversation he tried to talk in private with Bao Xing during a break from his treatments, and he especially tried to avoid having the people from Zhilin village listen in. "- Does elder know anything about the Four Yin Sect? This one has reasons to believe they were involved in the Zhilin event."

If Xiao needed an Herbalism check to collect the mushroom, he failed horribly! Otherwise he just pocketed it - but certainly has no idea what the hell it is. Unless for some reason its not a self roll, then RIDICULOUS SUCCESS. xD
18:30, Today: Xiao Kang rolled 94 using 1d100.  Herbalism, just in case. 61.

This message was last edited by the player at 16:42, Thu 29 July.

Dao Master
 GM, 106 posts
Fri 30 Jul 2021
at 18:10
0002 - Xiao Kang
In reply to Xiao Kang (msg # 34):

"Is that so? That is truly a pity... But it is understandable, as we all strive to lessen the burden of karma of our previous lives and gain merit - such a fate is indeed inevitable! Do not feel pressured! And of course, there are many pathways to Nirvana, and we understand that followers will often practice in a wide variety of ways. That is not an issue."

"But alas, a new member is of course required to devote all his time to sessions of meditation, karmic involvement, tempering of the body, and funeral rites for the people of Pengquan - so I imagine that it will be sadly impossible for you to join us considering your present responsibilities."

"But should you reconsider, I will make sure our seniors know of your contributions - and you will be welcome to our halls."

As you mention the Four Yin Sect, Bao Xing thinks for a moment before speaking.

"To be honest, I know very little about the affairs outside of Pengquan - but we do have a Hall of Records which might have the information you need. How about this, why don't you come to our Sect grounds for a visit - to mark our great affinity. No doubt the other sect members would want to know the details of your exploits! I will try to arrange for someone to help look up the Hall of Records about the Four Yin Sect as well."

No worries, you can try again in the next month. Or find someone who will help you identify it.
Xiao Kang
 player, 97 posts
 Dharma Name: Fu Su
 In: Zhanbei Jienu Hu
Fri 30 Jul 2021
at 18:53
0002 - Xiao Kang
Xiao Kang was honestly torn about the issue. Accepting would be a pretty easy path to obtain a slew of resources he badly needed, but it would also tie him to the sect in ways he wasn't sure were right. Was this what his teacher meant when he told him to seek his path to Nirvana? "This wanderer would be grateful for such an opportunity to learn. It would be an honor to call the Noble Flame Sect friends."

It did feel a bit early to join... but perhaps there was a middle ground. "This one heard the Noble Flame Sect is building a new Hall." He could barely fit an hour or two of training per day with the schedule of that work, but there was an alternative path he could try to take. "With construction work inevitably come more injuries than normal. Perhaps there could be room for an extra pair of hands among the healers, instead of the builders? It would allow this one and the members of the Sect to know each other better." At the very least that was work that would leave him less exhausted at the end of the day than hauling timber.

"This one wouldn't need more than a place to sleep and food... and the chance to learn. He wouldn't dare ask of the Sect's secrets without being part of it, but just talking with more experienced monks would be of help on the path to Enlightment." Adding a stipend (even a worker's one) would have been even better, but that wasn't his current objective - if they offered, he'd take it.
Dao Master
 GM, 110 posts
Sat 31 Jul 2021
at 17:59
0002 - Xiao Kang
In reply to Xiao Kang (msg # 36):

"Haha, well - to be frank, we've been a little short on space - so even the healers stay in the same building as the builders - as some of our disciples are helping with the building as well!" Bao Xing laughs as he scratches his bald head. "But do not worry, there is room for all of us and space is not that cramped. It is just that we all stay in the same building which can hold almost a hundred men."

"And Fu Su! You read my mind! I was thinking of offering you instead to help out as a healer if you can while you stay here for the time being. Seeing how you made that makeshift splint made me certain of your abilities. And of course, we would be more than happy to share a few pointers about the path to enlightenment... as long as you share some of your own of course!"
Bao Xing beams at you as he speaks, clearly happy that he found someone on the same frequency as him.

"Its settled then! Why don't you rest in one of the gazebos in the Pavilion of Profound Charity for the time being. We have to make our rounds helping the needy here. Once we are done, we will guide you to the Sect grounds. Be sure to rest your legs well for now, you'll have to climb almost a thousand steps to reach the sect grounds!" Bao Xing chuckles as he waves salutes you with clasped palms again and continues on to fulfil his duties.

If you have nothing else you wish to do, eventually you will find yourself at the Noble Flame Sect grounds where you will be introduced to he various important members of the sect:

Xun Zhong - The Fifteenth Patriarch - The current Abbott of the Noble Flame Sect. 80 years old. He spends most of his time meditating in seclusion.

Ming Huai - The Senior Instructor who was informed of your exploits and approved of your position as a guest healer. 65 years old. He is quite friendly and a rather practical man. It is said that he is extremely skilled in the nurturing of herbs and the concocting of medicines. Liao Yuan's Master.

Liao Yuan - Senior Healer - Bao Xing and Bao Shou's Master. 30 years old. Very grumpy but according to Bao Xing has a very gentle heart. He seems quite suspicious of you, but eventually agreed to accept you under Ming Huai's instructions when he chanced upon you speaking with him.

Based on the situation explained by Bao Xing, you are required to help with healing for a quarter of a day, after which you may spend the rest of the day as you please. Though he recommends making a good impression with everyone by participating in meditation in the evening at the very least.

You may now describe how long and how you want to spend your time from now onwards.
Xiao Kang
 player, 102 posts
 Dharma Name: Fu Su
 In: Zhanbei Jienu Hu
Sat 31 Jul 2021
at 23:48
0002 - Xiao Kang
Xiao Kang - or Su Fu - didn't mind the cramped sleeping space: he wasn't here for comfort, and had to do the best with the time he could use; he had a pretty long list of things to do, and 'sleep' was low on the priority list. First - even if it almost pained him to do so, with so much to juggle - information: the Four Yin sect, Miefeng Mountain, Duan Jie, the porcelain vial and medallion he found on the strange man, the white mushroom and the green-glowing gem: he had collected quite a bit of topics of interest in just a day of work.

The mushroom was easy - and an excellent excuse to strike up a conversation with Ming Huai: he'd try to take a second guess on its nature now that he had access to a library of scrolls and wasn't wounded in a damp cave.
In case of both success and failure he hoped it was an item uncommon enough to at least pick the interest of the elder herbalist - from there he could more or less naturally carry on with a conversation on pill-making to try and impress him: he dared not ask for access to the Sect's famed herb gardens, but perhaps he could get some pointers and recipes - and the use of the pill-making equipment, even supervised.
Ideally, recipes that used the mushroom he already had.

The porcelain vial was similar to the mushroom: he'd try to identify the contents for himself, and if he couldn't (but could at least figure out if it was herbal or medical-related) bring it up during his conversation with Ming Huai.

As for most of the rest (the Four Yin sect, Miefeng Mountain, Duan Jie and the medallion) he'd try to find something in the Hall of Records: he already knew something of Miefeng Mountain but it couldn't hurt to double-check, while the rest was a complete mystery. The gem... unlike the other items, he wasn't entirely comfortable showing it around. If he had non-supervised access to the Hall of Records he could try to seek information on his own, but if he was always accompanied he'd keep his research generic - 'ways for a non-sect-affiliated Cultivator to help boost his training, such as magical gems' was probably a reasonable angle to use to tackle the issue.

One second-to-last item to research: the local Sects - he had a working knowledge of the area, but (as shown by his complete ignorance of the Four Yin sect) most of it was from the days before he started taking his Cultivation seriously and didn't include many important details to his new life. Important Buddhist - or in general Righteous - sects in the area were all potential friends, while even a broad knowledge on the followers of demonic Daos could save his life. Finally, there was always a chance to find mentions of more mercenary sects, willing to share manuals and training in return for fat pouches of Spirit Stones or other services.
...at the moment, other services.

And finally, a personal curiosity: after spending some time with the monks (maybe even a month or two) he tried to figure out the closest to the cultivation level of Ci Zheng, his mentor, to try and ask if they ever heard of him.

Then he needed to cover his cultivation bases: while it probably was not his strong focus he asked Bao Xing if he could enlighten him on the concept of the sound of the golden bell - or point him to someone who could help him understand it. At the same time he seeked - perhaps among the younger monks - a regular sparring partner or two, ideally someone specialized in palm strikes: that was probably something he could try on his own, but having someone to copy would help immensely, and he wasn't against sharing his own finger style in return. Learning via spar would have the side benefit of allowing him to practice his blocks: he couldn't hope to survive many more fights on luck and 'strike harder, faster and more times' alone.

He happily took part of the evening meditation, especially if it happened in the Taoist-built Buddhist temple: he didn't know about Feng Shui, but perhaps asking a few question to understand the troubling and positive points of its architecture (assuming the astrologers didn't go out of their way to simply annoy the Buddhists, but actually tried to build an auspicious temple) would help him to better understand the common and divergent points between Taoist and Buddhist cultivation: something that, he assumed, would greatly help when studying the Jianxuan Yinzhong Jing book.

Once armed with a working understanding of the two topics he was completely ignorant of, he was indeed ready to give it a second, more thorough reading: it was probably too early to try and understand the finer differences between the Golden Bell of Buddhist fame and the Black Silver Bell mentioned in the book, but he was optimist he was finally going to be able to make some progress in understanding.

Once or twice a month he instead spent the afternoons in town: he considered selling the hunting knife, but in the end it was more of an useful tool than a proper weapon, and it could end up useful - even if he wasn't going to fight with it. He did, however, need to buy things: a real acupunture set, at the very least (unless at the temple they could hook him up with one for personal use at a discount). He also kept an eye out for manuals and other things that could be of use to a cultivator, even if the really good things would probably be beyond his means.

Beyond the shopping the real reason for these trips was to not end up completely detached from the outside world: this way he could keep an ear on the news and rumors - even if not exactly a real-time one, and reluctantly put a break on his training if anything important happened. As for HOW to find information - well, this was a town with more brothels than inns, and he was an expert on herbal remedies, relaxing incense and all the right acupressure points to deal with stiff muscles. It wouldn't be a... typically Buddhist... source of knowledge, but his life as a bandit guaranteed him that was a skillset that could get him in the good graces of the ladies with access to more info than anyone else in town.

He did not go out of his way to seek Xun Zhong beyond the first polite greeting: unless his preliminary research marked him as target to ask about Ci Zheng, the Patriarch was simply both too above his station and too busy with meditation to bother him.

As for Liao Yuan he judged attempting to butter him up a waste of time: if Bao Xing was right on his judgment of his teacher - and he had no reason to distrust the older healer on this - simply doing his best during his duties would be the most effective way to begin earning his approval.

In short: early morning (or whenever he could find a partner for it) spar, then his shift of medical practice, food, afternoons split between studying (in the Hall of Records for information, but he'd never refuse the chance to learn something under a skilled teacher - especially if he could get himself some extra pill-making pointers) and practicing the lessons of Jianxuan Yinzhong Jing. Finally the commonal afternoon meditation. Depending on the time this ended, he considered adding one extra round of practice before sleep.

You wrote Jianxuan Yinzhong Jing as [STR 15/10, ABL 17/10, Metal 66/10, Palm 0/10, Voice 0/10]
Since my Str is 10, I assumed a typo and that you actually meant 'Str 10/10', but just now I thought that it could just as well be 'Str 10/15'. Just to know.

Zhiqiao Muyu Fa I doesn't have a Xiuwei. 0/1000?
If it can be practiced during the evening meditation (it is, after all, a technique to strike temple blocks), Xiao Kang definitely does so.

Unless interrupted by critical outside events, he'll follow the schedule until the new Hall is ready, so about six months. He'll also take a break to reconsider his schedule if he manages to level up his Cultivation level before then.

Leaving some rolls here for some of the suggested actions:
01:59, Today: Xiao Kang rolled 29 using 1d100.  61, Herbalism.
The Mystery Mushroom is no longer a mystery!

02:01, Today: Xiao Kang rolled 91 using 1d100.  51, pills.
02:01, Today: Xiao Kang rolled 8 using 1d100.  If the reroll from Genius would apply, Pills again.
And he also knows how to cook it. Maybe.

01:59, Today: Xiao Kang rolled 12 using 1d100.  56, Medicine.
The best at massages! Or at doing his job in general, anyway.

This message was last edited by the player at 07:24, Sun 01 Aug.

Dao Master
 GM, 119 posts
Sun 1 Aug 2021
at 17:14
0002 - Xiao Kang
You search through the Hall of Records with the help of monk scribes, but fail to find any mention of this strange mushroom you possess.
Upon receiving a recommendation by the scribes to ask the most experienced Medicine Master Ming Huai, he invites you to his study and examines the mushroom, thinking for a moment before checking some bamboo scrolls in his bookshelf.

"This... this is actually quite a peculiar mushroom. It's called the Xisheng Mushroom - Xi being sucking, and Sheng being sound. It has no known benefits or poisons, and is akin to being like a staple food like rice or noodles except that it is able to survive for long periods of time without perishing - though it can be easily digested when consumed."

"As its name suggests, the mushroom's peculiarity is that it can absorb most of the sound within an area when exposed to air, and the theory is that it is able to last for so long because it feeds on sound. To be honest though, I wasn't sure if it even existed as I've only read of it in ancient records of herbs and had the impression that it was some kind of herbal toy or joke that the ancient scribes put in."

"If you don't need it though, I wouldn't mind exchanging it for a few pills that might be useful for your cultivation. I think I would do some good to future disciples and followers of the Herbal Dao if I record in greater detail the characteristics and where you found the mushroom. The older records sadly only described it instead of detailing its habitat..."


Upon testing the pills characteristics in the porcelain vial, you effortlessly manage to identify it as a "Mid Grade Vitality Pill" [Restores 2d4 HP].


While perusing records about cultivators cultivating using gems - you read about how certain gems found deep under are imbued with rich elemental Qi which condense into special gems like the Azure Sapphire and Turtle Onyx - that can greatly boost one's progress in cultivation and even bestow depth in one's attunement to certain elements. A specific technique is not required to cultivate in this manner and one can use their own technique while holding the gem in one's hand while cultivating and opening a pathway from the hand holding the gem into one's Dantian, and allow the Qi to flow in while actively circulating it.


The most important sects in the vicinity of Jienu are the following:
1. Kunlong Earth Dragon Sect - A Righteous Sect. Located in Liehe Mountain. It is said that they recently destroyed the Wolf Tail Gang and rescued villages that were kidnapped.
2. Huque River Swallow Sect - A Neutral Sect. Located in Digang Fortress. They are holding a large auction in Digang Fortress in the next month featuring treasures obtained from Xiawu. They are probably the more mercantile sect that you are looking for, and offer a range of services from escorts, and mercenary work.
3. Jingshui Pure Waters Sect - A Buddhist Sect. Located in Wuhe Lake. A number of pilgrims they sent from Huangbei Northern Wastes has just returned from a holy site.
4. Minglou Dark Tower Sect - A Demonic Sect. Located in Minglou Tower - no one knows where it actually is. It is said that the tower was spotted in the wasteland near the northern edge of Jienu.


When asked about Ci Zheng, the monks don't seem to know, but some of those who travelled say they have seen someone matching the description headed to Huangbei a month ago, but he isn't certain.


The younger monks are more than happy to spar and fortunately it seems that the Noble Flame Sect's school of martial arts involves much use of palm techniques. While officially they do not teach outsiders their techniques, you wager you will be able to learn albeit at a slightly slower rate, the basic forms through mimicry and sparring.

When you ask about the Fengshui - you quickly realise that it is a very touchy subject, with one of the junior disciples who you become well acquainted with - Xun Li - hurriedly stopping you before you complete the question.

"Fu Su! Be careful you do not let the senior monks hear you talk about the origins of this temple! They've been holding a grudge all this while and many have been punished for not being careful!"

But indeed, through observation of the various decorative motifs, you feel slightly attuned to the notion of Buddhism from the Taoist perspective, and even a bit of that conversely as you hear the seniors try to "appropriate" the otherwise Taoist influenced features as Buddhist much to your amusement.

With the aid of the junior disciples and your own research, you feel more confident in deciphering the Jianxuan Yinzhong manual and discover that it is able to gain from some of the benefits of Buddhist mantra chanting and purity of the mind.

As for acupuncture sets, you receive a small set of silver needles used mostly in your duties as helping out as a healer - and while they do not sell the needles, you imagine it wouldn't hurt if one or two went missing after a job....

While looking out for manuals and cultivation related items, you discover that all of such items are being dealt exclusively in the auction house - Quangang Tradehouse. Though some of your info gathering while out at the town revealed to you the presence of a black market which on one day offered the following items:

- Ceaseless Autumn Manual (100 GT): A cultivation manual for the wood and fire element affined
- Body Tempering Pill (424 GT): A pill which is able to help you rapidly breakthrough the Body Tempering stage in at most 2 years.
- Green Bear Claw (90 GT): Claws from a rare Green Bear which is said to be able to improve one's affinity to finger and palm movements.

As it is a black market, it accepts item trades, but items have a chance of being fake.

Based on rumors you also gather, there will be a martial competition in Digang Fortress in 8 months, and the top 3 will not only be accepted as disciples, but will also be bestowed a Body Tempering Pill to aid in their rapid cultivation.


During your time in the Noble Flame Sect, you begin to build quite some trust and rapport with the sect members with Liao Yuan gradually softening and becoming satisfied with your contributions.

This place is also - due to the Fengshui and natural conditions of the hill rather rich in Qi - which explains why Abbott Xun decided to seclude here for so long to cultivate.

You find that the schedule is very compatible indeed with the Jianxuan Yinzhong Manual techniques, with you training in basics of palm use through sparring, and voice through the communual mantra chanting, and find yourself making extremely fast improvement.

You gain 1411 Xiuwei in Jianxuan Yinzhong Jing and 10 in Palm and Voice, and breakthrough to the 1st layer (extra can be carried over).
To Next:[STR 12, ABL 12, Metal 12, Palm 15, Voice 15], Xiuwei 2000

With this breakthrough, you manage to learn a new Martial Technique:

Mingzhang, Crying Palm
[Qi: 5]
Deals 2d6 blunt damage. Stun target if he can hear your yell on a failed max Qi self check. Make a bursting yell as you unleash a palm strike using the sound of your voice to consolidate the energy of your strike.

You gain 638 Xiuwei for Zhiqiao Muyu Fa


At the end of the six months, Bao Xing checks on you and speaks.

"Its almost half a year you've been with us. You've contributed quite a lot and I am glad my eyes didn't fail me. It is truly a pity that you can't be a member of our sect. We really need people like you...! Now that the time for the pilgrimage to the Holy Stupa in Guanghe is coming, it is truly a lost opportunity you can't join us!"
Xiao Kang
 player, 106 posts
 Dharma Name: Fu Su
 In: Zhanbei Jienu Hu
Sun 1 Aug 2021
at 20:36
0002 - Xiao Kang
"Yes, the area this wanderer found the mushroom in had such sound-dampening properties indeed. He found it in a Swamp Hippo den, and it grew along with lichens of similar color. If Senior Instructor so wishes, it would not be a long trip to lead him to the cavern. And as much as the properties of herbs and plants intrigue this one, pills would be of more immediate help. I can only hope Senior Instructor would be generous enough to share his knowledge should he discover interesting truths during his studies." Xiao Kang offered to accompany Ming Huai to the Swamp Hippo cave if he wanted to examine the habitat of the Xisheng Mushroom personally (or if he wanted to send a junior disciple in his stead), otherwise he gave the details he remembered. He took the chance to visit Zhilin Village to see how people were doing if the trip happened.


No information on the Four Yin Sect, either by name or by investigating the medallion of the strange man. This didn't bode well - unless they were simply too small to be of any significance, but he didn't believe in such strikes of good luck. He'd just have to keep his eyes open.

The gem, on the other hand, was an absolute treasure - at least for his current level. If his studies told him that the benefit increased with the auspiciousness of his cultivation, he'd save it for the next chance to meditate in a Qi-rich location (Or can I just use it retroactively here?).
If it wasn't, he'd use it during his moments of meditation while on the road.

Ceaseless Autumn Manual, Body Tempering Pill and Green Bear Claw - he expected them to be out of his means, so the prices didn't sting TOO hard, but he couldn't help but feel a tinge of envy toward anyone who could casually throw around such sums of money. Riches made even the path to Immortality easier, apparently. At least the first steps.

Still, that didn't stop him from continuing along his path: he practiced steadily, imitating the stances and forms of the monks as he trained his palm striking; most of the work of trying to understand their techniques was done at evenings and nights: while he assumed they weren't AGAINST him learning - or they wouldn't have allowed daily sparring with him for months - it was probably bad form to copy them in an obvious manner, since technically he couldn't study their techniques.


"Friend Bao Xing, this one's path demands he travels and understands more both of the world and of the truth of Buddha before he can settle. But cheer: that doesn't mean we'll never meet again, and if this one's humble skills can be of help he'll always be happy to provide assistance. Before our goodbyes, can friend Bao Xing tell me more of the pilgrimage? Even if this one can't join you all, he's curious. And -" He continued only if the request made sense with what he knew of the relationships between Sects. "Who do you think this one can bother for a letter of introduction to Jingshui Pure Waters Sect? It would help in building trust should I find myself in the area." He DID have half a mind to visit there, after all.


In the end he had to decide what to do next.
The martial competition was a pretty interesting option - there wasn't such a thing as too many pills, especially without a Qi-rich place he could call his home. However, refusing membership in Huque River Swallow Sect as a rogue cultivator would probably be seen as offensive: if he went to take part into that competition, he had to be ready to actually join if he won. So he did a little bit more research on the sect: if they were an actual sect of mercenaries he wouldn't risk it, while if they were closer to a loose grouping of Cultivators formed to allow otherwise rogue Cultivators to stand at the same height as members of actual Sects he'd keep the option on the table. In any case, he tried to figure out how long it'd take to get there.

He could, of course, go STRAIGHT towards Miefeng Mountain to bring his investigation right at the doorstep of the Four Yin Sect. He entertained the idea for a few moments with a grim smile, then scratched it off. The risk wasn't worth it.

Hunt for the Nine Toads Gang? He certainly couldn't clear them on his own, but maybe there was a punishment expedition planned he could join - or they even were already apprehended. He tried asking around if there were any news on the bandits. He could use a bounty. Or even just looted loot.

Or he could just head in the direction of the Jingshui Pure Waters Sect to deepen his understanding of Buddhism. In either case, he planned to travel at a slow pace that allowed him to stop and give aid to villages along the way if any help was needed - or to explore forgotten ruins of priceless treasures, of course.

To sum it up:
Trade the mushroom for pills.
Find out more on the Huque River Swallow Sect: how long to get there (is it eight months from the end of training or from an earlier point?), and how bad they were likely to take competing only for the pills if he did that.
See if there's a suppression force to deal with the Nine Toads Gang, if someone else fixed the problem or if they're still asking for info.

This message was last edited by the player at 21:06, Sun 01 Aug.

Dao Master
 GM, 128 posts
Tue 3 Aug 2021
at 23:07
0002 - Xiao Kang
In reply to Xiao Kang (msg # 40):

Date (Y/M/D): 1000/10/29
Season: Autumn

Glad with your response, he gives you a three tiny porcelain bottles of numerous tiny silver-like pills, and keeps the mushroom in a jade box.

"These pills are bone reinforcement pills. They can either help in the tempering of one's bones, or heal fractures! Be prepared however when you consume them because there will be quite some pain a few minutes after you consume them. If you manage to cultivate while the pain is active it is said you will make good improvements in the Xiuwei of your Body Tempering technique!"

After explaining the effects of the pills, Ming Huai eventually plans a trip to Zhilin village with a few of his disciples with you as a guide.
As the time of your visit was only a month after, you didn't see much change in the condition of the village, but catch the sight of a few new settlers who are helping out in the reconstruction of the village. There, the woman whom you rescued, named Liao Pin profusely expresses her gratitude for your saving her.


You may use it retroactively. But before you confirm whether you will, you feel a strange surging sickly heat infiltrating your Dantian when you first use the gem to cultivate. If you decide to press on, I will describe the outcome and the bonuses (or penalties) to Xiuwei that come along with it.


Date (Y/M/D): 1001/04/29
Season: Spring
Time: Midday

In response to your words, Bao Xing says,

"Of course! The pilgrimage to is an event we have every 2 years where a few disciples led by Senior Instructor Kai Yu will lead a journey to the west to visit the Stupa in Guanghe - which sits at the border to the region of Xiawu, west of Zhanbei. It sits atop a frigid hill where a glorious Frost Naga tree sits, upon Rock Ice, and it is said to be where the ancient Buddha Shamagmuni attained enlightenment."

"The place there is so rich in purity that one can become more easily enlightened to Buddhist truths. Though one requires immense ability and Buddhahood to even approach the Frost Naga tree. It is said that the Patriarch of our sect can't even reach 400 steps from the tree! But it is really a great and rare experience, as not just anyone can reach so close to Guanghe. We thankfully have an agreement with the tribe that lives near the region, so we are allowed to approach it for the purposes of pilgrimage once every 2 years, for a duration of up to a month."

"As for the Pure Waters Sect... I am not sure if they even accept letters of introduction. From what i've heard, they have quite a strange entry test, and many aspiring monks who join them get relegated to mundane tasks with no access to their actual teachings... One of my friends Lai Quan is actually part of the sect, but I haven't met him for a long time and am not sure if he is even still there. If you mention my name it should probably help get you acquainted with him, if he hasn't forgotten about me of course!"


Based on further research through rumors and questioning travellers on the topic, you gain information that as the competition was also a show of magnamity and wealth, they most likely would not harp on the matter should one simply compete for the pill. After all, the rewards for the competition were to attract competers who were in a way also for merchants to hire talented experts should they not join the sect. After all, Digang fortress subsists on trade and mercenary work. The competition begins on 1001/07/01 - which gives you two months to prepare should you wish to participate.

According to rumors, the Nine Toads gang has recently struck again, but now on more minor targets. Survivors of such attacks describe them as mostly fierce Asura men with tattoos of a toad across their left arms. Apparently their necks were also covered in strange boils. The last attack happened on the official road between Mangjie town and Cikuang town, towards the eastern edge of the Liegou province you are currently in.

In terms of travelling options:

- Digang fortress where the Huque Sect lies is located towards the southern part of Jienu and would take around 9 days on foot to reach.

- Wuhe lake where the Pure Waters Sect lies is located towards the northern part of Jienu and would take around 2 weeks on foot to reach.

- Mangjie Town takes 3 days on foot to reach.

- Cikuang Town takes 2 days on foot to reach.
Xiao Kang
 player, 113 posts
 Dharma Name: Fu Su
 In: Zhanbei Jienu Hu
Wed 4 Aug 2021
at 08:23
0002 - Xiao Kang
Xiao Kang decided not to use the gem - not yet, anyway. He wasn't convinced it was compatible with his Cultivation technique, and the last thing he needed was a Meridian block for a quick boost - perhaps he'd be desperate enough to use it later on, or find a way to better harmonize it. He decided to just procure himself a leather pouch small enough to tie around his neck and hide the gem there to protect it from casual pickpockets, then forget about it for now.

The travel plan was, in the end, not too complicated. He'd give himself a couple of days to prepare for the trip and spend them between Pengquan and Zhilin for a quick check-up on Liao Pin and the other villagers while seeing if he could find requests to lead him in the direction of Cikuang Town: messages to deliver, merchants to protect or anything else. If he didn't find anything in this time, he'd just set off on his own - it wasn't a long trip in the first place.

Once there he'd see if he could do something about the Nine Toads gang, then decide between Digang Fortress and Wuhe Lake - at the moment, Digang Fortress was a more likely destination. Which meant he had less than two months to train.

On the road, his standard routine was pretty simple:
In the morning, at the break of dawn, he'd meditate and chant the Heart Sutra while practicing his newly-learned Voice techniques. He'd also make a quick test with the gem: instead of trying use it to advance his cultivation, he'd keep it in his hands while chanting to try and circulate his own Qi through it in a sort of purification - or, better, harmonization ritual. If this gave him the same sensation or if it didn't seem to do anything at all, he'd stop.

After meditation he'd train the Palm techniques of the Noble Flame Sect - at least what he remembered of them. If his memory wasn't enough, he'd seek the same sensation as when hitting with his Resonant Strikes while practicing on rock and wood. Since he needed to work on his physique, he made sure to go through his forms with extra weights on arms and legs.

In the evenings, if he had the chance, he simply focused on physical exercise - unless he was resting in a safe place (surely not on the road, but maybe while staying a night in Zhilin village); then he'd swallow one of the newly-acquired pills, needles in his acupoints to maximize the effect. As he felt the pain in his bones grow, he focused on circulating Qi in a manner similar to activatng False Carapace, willing the metal-aligned energy to run all the way through his bones instead of simply skin-deep, training them with the essence of Metal.

In the previous round of training, if I count the bonus from Azure Dragon, Heart Xiao Kang broke through a layer of Zhiqiao Muyu Fa I, does it do anything? Does Affinity to Finger techniques do anything or that's only when learning new techniques/raising the skill itself?

If the bone reinforcement pills are only useful when practicing your Cultivation technique, scratch the last paragraph.

Dao Master
 GM, 134 posts
Sun 8 Aug 2021
at 11:55
0002 - Xiao Kang
In reply to Xiao Kang (msg # 42):

Previously, you broke through a layer of Zhiqiao Muyu Fa. While it did not enlighten you to any new techniques, the practice has allowed you to learn how to use your Qi efficiently, halving the Qi use for Finger Striking Posture and Light Strike, and slightly expanding the depth of your Qi.

[+1d2 Qi, +1d4 Finger]

Affinity to Finger techniques allow you to gain double of the rolled result whenever Finger skill is gained. In this instance you gain 1d4 * 2 Finger skill.


As you cease the use of the gem while cultivating, you feel the sickly heat leaving your Dantian and travelling back from belly towards your hands which clutch the gem. As this happens you are struck with a strange mental immage of an greenish ethereal hippo baring its menacing blunt fangs.

You try to ask your acquaintances for any tasks that would involve headed to Cikuang Town, but unfortunately there seems to be nothing which informs your solitary departure towards that location.

On the first day of the trip there following the Officials' Road, you feel rather fantastic as you notice the air seems deliciously fresh and rich in Qi. Taking upon the opportunity to test out your idea with the gem. With the added prowess of this fortunate weather, as you circulate the Qi, you feel the slight sickly heat occasionally emanating from the gem lessen slowly but surely. For some reason, you somehow feel closer towards the gem.

You also strangely discover that you made considerable progress in the practice of your techniques and feel that you might be actually be able to use some of the techniques you observed :

[+1 STR, +1d6 Voice, +1d6 Palm, +1d6 Fire, +115 base Xiuwei for Improvised Noble Flame Palm]

Improvised Noble Flame Palm
To Next: STR 15, ABL 15, Palm 15, Fire 15
Xiuwei: 0/1000

Martial Arts
Basic Noble Palm Form
Palm strikes do 2d2 blunt damage


On the second day of your travel, you find a rather charitable inn owned by a deeply religious family, who offer you to stay in a small shed for the night.
With a rather safe looking shed with a rather sturdy door which you can bar, you feel safe enough to use the Bone Tempering Pills, which according to Ming Huai has to be consumed by the bottle. After emptying them in your mouth, you begin to meditate. The first few minutes seem to go fine, with nothing out of the ordinary, but suddenly, you feel pain growing starting from the middle of your spine gradually growing in sharpness as it begins to radiate painfully in throughout your body!

What seems even more surprising is that the metal aligned Qi you circulate to your bones seems to make the pain even sharper with every breath you take, making even the act of meditating rather laborious...!

Like this, 3 gruelling hours of intense meditation pass as pain throughout every single bone radiates in intervals following the rhythm of your heartbeat. And as the pain eventually subsides, you eventually find yourself covered in sweat, and yellowish grime - as though the pills had expelled the impurities in your bones and reconfigured them to a state of great purity and robustness!

[+1d4 STR, +1d4 HP]


Date (Y/M/D): 1001/05/01
Season: Spring
Time: Midday

Eventually, you arrive at Cikuang town which seems to be rather busy indeed.

Near a restaurant, you notice quite a number of men in black robe uniforms wearing rather austere looking blades of bronze literally seated at all of the tables of the entire restaurant. All these men are human, and seem to be eating noodles from the store in a very orderly and routine like manner - literally slurping their noodles at the same time and sipping their soup at the same time.

From the whisperings of the townfolk, it seems that these men are members of the Black Blades of Liaohu fortress in the Liegou province, who are a band of rather famous mercenaries known for their extremely strict leader called Guo Cixu. It seems that the merchants and officials finally had enough of the Nine Toads gang, and have pooled money to hire these mercenaries to get rid of them once and for all.

But judging from the rather upset expression of Guo Cixu himself - the man wearing an extremely large bronze sword on his back - it seems that the Nine Toads Gang had eluded the mercenaries yesterday.

After listening in to the whispering townsfolk for a few minutes, the men eventually finish their meal and you seem them all stand up at the same time and begin to march out towards the north in neat rows of three, following the silent but rather angry looking Marshal Guo.

This message was last edited by the GM at 01:55, Mon 09 Aug.

Xiao Kang
 player, 118 posts
 Dharma Name: Fu Su
 In: Zhanbei Jienu Hu
Sun 8 Aug 2021
at 17:09
0002 - Xiao Kang
Despite the chance to practice in the Qi-rich air outside, Xiao Kang still keenly felt the difference between that and the atmosphere in the Noble Flame Sect like night and day on the results of his training. Still, this was nothing that hard work couldn't overcome, while the success in understanding a semblance of the Noble Flame Palm and the apparent success in starting to calm the... could it be the spirit of the Hippo? In the gem were both one-of-a-kind successes.

As he could easily expect, the Noble Flame Palm were Fire-based. A shame that the element was both a near-complete mystery and rather hostile to his nature, as otherwise it was a perfect complementary technique to his Cultivation. Still, more knowledge wouldn't hurt in the future.

Once in Cikuang town he had to decide how to proceed. The Black Blades were the obvious source of information. With the tiny side-effect that he wasn't exactly sure they wouldn't want HIS head on the same platter as the Nine Toads Gang members': for all he knew, there was still a price on him, and from the reputation of their leader the mercenaries wouldn't care too much about him having turned over a new leaf. The dissonance in seeing him dressed as a monk could probably only work at a distance.

He had to find the merchants who escaped the attack and get some details on their tactics and area of activity. Maybe a more precise description of the boils on their necks: those worried him a bit.
And since he'd rather not pay for every new tidbit of information, he had to make friends instead.

As such, after dinner he set to look for the kind of place where people went to unwind after a tiring and frustrating day of work with a strong drink - if the restaurant itself fit the bill he'd just stay there, otherwise once he found the right place he'd buy himself a something to not look out of place and proceed to seat himself, his Erhu resting on his thigh to see about entertaining people. Just background music at first, growing into actual songs if he started to attract a crowd.

If all ended well, he'd be able to have a few interesting chats before having to resort to the part of his song repertoire able to make a sailor blush - which actually was the vast majority.

'Making friends with music' roll is 46, with an Erhu skill of 50.

Qi grows by 2, Finger grows by 2, Voice grows by 1, Palm grows by 1, Fire grows by 1, STR grows by 3 and HP grows by 2, Improvised Noble Flame Palm Xiuwei is 230/1000
I'm less than impressed by the rolls, but I'll take it!

19:07, Today: Xiao Kang rolled 46 using 1d100.  Doing bard things.
17:59, Today: Xiao Kang rolled 2 using 1d4.  HP Growth.
17:58, Today: Xiao Kang rolled 2 using 1d4.  STR Growth.
17:58, Today: Xiao Kang rolled 2 using 1d6.  Fire Growth. (Halved)
17:57, Today: Xiao Kang rolled 1 using 1d6.  Palm Growth.
17:56, Today: Xiao Kang rolled 1 using 1d6.  Voice Growth.
17:56, Today: Xiao Kang rolled 1 using 1d4.  Finger Growth. (Doubled)
17:56, Today: Xiao Kang rolled 2 using 1d2.  Qi Growth.

Dao Master
 GM, 138 posts
Mon 9 Aug 2021
at 02:41
0002 - Xiao Kang
In reply to Xiao Kang (msg # 44):

You wander the town for a moment and eventually find yourself at another restaurant called Yang's Roast - a two storied establishment with a small adjacent open air dining area which seems to sell skewer roasts popular with many of the slightly well to do common folk.

Unlike most of the other restaurants in the town, it regularly accomodates some guest performer who will entertain some of the guests while they enjoy their roast skewers. Apparently this model of business is written into its mode of operation according to a wooden billboard, which apparently offers travelling entertainers a few skewers of their choice in exchange for making some entertaining performance.

After making an agreement with the staff in Yang's Roast, you prepare to make your performance after watching a few of the performers on stage.

There are two performers before you:

- The first is a young looking but rather fat human man playing the zither. His skill seems quite impressive as he plays a rather sophisticated sounding song, drawing a rather loud applause at the end.

- The next appears to be another youthful human man, but is instead a swarthy and extremely skinny man (you can see all of his skeletal ribs through his thin looking skin) with reddish hair and strange yellowish eyes, wearing strange heavy looking bangles on his arms, legs and with similarly heavy looking earrings on his rather long distended ears, and wearing nothing but what seems to be a loincloth. While everyone seems to be rather tickled by the man's strange appearance, their mirth turns to horror as they see him contort his body in an almost impossible position - somehow wrapping his legs around his head. But eventually that shock turns into loud laughter as he somehow begins spinning on his head like some sort of spinning top for a few minutes before uncontorting himself and bowing with his palms clasped. The audience then show their appreciation for the bizarre performance with a round of applause.

When it is finally your turn to come on stage, the audience immediately bursts into laughter as they are tickled by the idea of an asura monk playing an Erhu for them. Without even playing a note, it seems that some of the audience are laughing uncontrollably at the bizarre sight, most of them pointing towards your scorpion tail.

As you begin playing your song, their laughter grows even stronger due to the fact they did not expect you to be so good at playing one of the popular folk songs of the Jienu area you have picked up.

After an short encore for the rowdy audience who demanded another song after your first, you eventually find yourself at table with many merrily smiling merchants and travelling swords for hire treating you to drinks and skewers to find out about what they imagine to be a bizarre past that you possess. Of the crowd, you hit off rather well with a hired female asura swordsman named Yao Xuan.

Yao Xuan is a rather tall and slender woman with a very refined posture and long silver hair that partly covers her left eye. Dressed in rather plain and practical beige robes lined with warm looking black fur, she wears three swords - two on her waist and a larger one on her back all sheathed in scabbards of fur. Like you, she seems to bear a scorpion tail which wraps around her waist like a belt, but it seems to be more slender and its stinger seems to have a bident-like point. She is extremely entertained and impressed by your performance and is the one who accompanies you and treats to you with round upon round of drinks or skewers if you prefer.

After making quite merry conversation, you learn the following:

- The Nine Toads Gang apparently is under command of a seasoned tactical genius criminal named Fang Sunzhong. Apparently he used to serve in the army of Liaohu Fortress but left it for reasons unknown.

- Common tactics by the Nine Toads include the strange use of a mount called the Rockfoot Goat which is able to scale steep terrain rapidly and run at a speed comparable with most horses. Taking advantage of various mild paralysing poisons effective on horses and men, they would fire weak toothpick arrows with simple repeater crossbows and occasionally skirmish using sabres tipped with similar poisons.

- Nobody knows where the actual hideout of the Nine Toads Gang is - but many suspect it is somewhere on a heavily forested rocky hill to the north called "Wukuang Mound" - that nobody goes to because it is devoid of any useful resources and is said to be cursed, as the merchants who sent men to prospect at the mound found not a single useful ore or gem to be harvested from the area.

"Considering how you're trying to learn so much about the gang - I assume you want to try your luck with taking down the Gang as well?" Yao giggles at the thought. "To be honest, I am here for the same reason. I was originally disappointed to find that the Black Blades were here too as I thought I wouldn't have a chance, but it looks like they're having trouble too. How about we team up and try to track them down? While I doubt that the both of us might be unable to take down the gang, information about their whereabouts would surely be worth quite a lot!"
Xiao Kang
 player, 119 posts
 Dharma Name: Fu Su
 In: Zhanbei Jienu Hu
Mon 9 Aug 2021
at 09:56
0002 - Xiao Kang
Xiao Kang did indeed have a past - but still managed to keep most of it private, only implying a lot of travel in the region coupled with a relatively-recent donning of the robes of a monk.

Meat and alcohol - two things far from encouraged by Buddhism, but he was pretty sure not completely forbidden - as long as he didn't do the slaughtering bit himself and didn't make himself a complete fool under the influence of too many drinks. And there was something about not refusing offered food, he was sure!

Truth was that he did miss alcohol and meat. He DID try to limit himself to a reasonable amount of cups and to follow them with enough food to not get himself smashed, but the long mostly alcohol-free period took its toll and he ended up getting just a little tipsier and chattier than normal during the conversation.

"Well, the last time I tried to just gather information things didn't exactly go as planned." He grinned at the woman before taking a big drink from the cup. "But what's the worst that can happen? It's just a heavily-armed bandit gang, well-equipped with poison and led by a renowned tactical genius versus two strangers who met barely days before. Those bandits clearly stand no chance!"

The information he managed to gather was sufficient to start coming up with a plan, and while the alcohol was enough to loosen his tongue it wasn't sufficient to fog his mind. "Well, then." He continued, taking as accepted the offer for collaboration. "This is the official road between Mangjie town and Cikuang town, where the last attacks happened." He placed a solitary, empty skewer on the table between him and Yao as he started 'mapping' the area. "And this -" he continued, sacrificing his (empty) cup to the cause "- Is mound Plum Wine - I mean, Wukuang Mound, while fortunately-placed-spill-of-wine puddle, here, is the location of the other recent attack I know of. Considering their abundant use of poison, they have to keep a steady supply of antidotes on hand. And this, as far as I know, is the area close by where most of the medicinal plants - poisonous or otherwise - naturally grow." He used another empty skewer to draw an area close enough to the other locations, marrying his knowledge of medicine to that of local geography. "The poison itself can be either plant or animal-based, but I don't think they can make antidotes without the right herbs. And I also don't think they enjoy accidental poisonings. Of course, all of this is a pretty weak lead. Maybe they are already set to grow everything they need in their base. Do we know anything else? The area covered by our friendly Black Blades? The only alternatives that come to mind right now is heading blindly to Wukuang Mound and hoping to find something, or acting the part of merchants overloaded with goods and under-guarded between here and Mangjie town."

Doing a Medicine-based Sherlock Holmes: 38, versus either a Medicine of 56 or an Herbalism of 61
Avoiding the temptations of alcohol and meat: 74, versus a Drunkenness of 38. Whops.

10:27, Today: Xiao Kang rolled 38 using 1d100.
10:35, Today: Xiao Kang rolled 74 using 1d100.  ..let's just check an alcohol-related thing this way.

Dao Master
 GM, 140 posts
Sat 14 Aug 2021
at 01:07
0002 - Xiao Kang
In reply to Xiao Kang (msg # 46):

"Naturally, I imagine that they must have harvested the poisons from somewhere, though I've heard some physicians have examined those who were poisoned and were unable to determine what kind of poison they were - as it is rather weak but is able to immobilize people for a second at the most critical moment  before being dissolved by blood. In which case, no antidote was required."

"Some of the bandits there were successfully captured alive had no idea how the poison was made, and each just had a small vial of colourless liquid smelling of wine which they rubbed over their weapons to poison them."

As you go through your knowledge of possible colourless poisons, the the only candidate a poison fitting such a description that you can think off is the "Pi Shuang" - Arsenic Frost - likely mixed in wine or water to obscure its identity. Though you remember that the symptoms of arsenic poisoning were not immediately active and were considerably more gruesome than mild paralysis.

"If we want to investigate, the best time is now - with the Black Blades prowling about, they will likely be keeping a low profile, and there hasn't been many attacks attributed to them recently. Last I heard they just barely eluded capture by the Blades, but they probably won't be able to find their hideout that easily as it has eluded quite a number of bounty hunters..."

"I received word of a group of animal traders who are looking to trade livestock in Meikuang village near Wukuang mound the day after tomorrow. They are quite worried of the rumors, though I doubt they'll be attacked by the bandits, that should give us a good reason to travel there to investigate further - if you wish to accompany me of course!"

While the both of you talk, you unknowingly down cup after cup without being aware of how drunk you are getting slowly but surely... You also notice Yao's cheeks beginning to flush as she also accompanies you happily with cup after cup, refilling hers and yours quite happily and asking the waiter for refills whenever the pot goes empty.


Go ahead and add +2d20 drunkenness. If you get drunk (exceed limit) you can describe how you eventually black out from excessive drinking.
Xiao Kang
 player, 120 posts
 Dharma Name: Fu Su
 In: Zhanbei Jienu Hu
Sat 14 Aug 2021
at 06:59
0002 - Xiao Kang
Plum wine wasn't THAT hard, was it? Xiao Kang definitely ended up drinking more than he first set up to - and probably stronger stuff as well, as after a while he stopped investigating the nature of the refills, simply downing the cups as they came as he kept the conversation going.

"Huh. Strange. A poison that dissolves without long-lasting side effects like that but still consistently causes paralysis sounds like something harder to prepare than a more dangerous venom. Especially since the only related concotion I can think of is quite a bit more dangerous in nature." He mulled over it for a few moments. Without a sample to analyze it was harder to say more - it could simply be that whoever prepared it didn't trust the bandits to avoid licking the vials themselves and wanted to avoid friendly fire. Or maybe the bandits wanted to minimize deaths in their victims to reduce the thirst for vengeance - a plan that clearly failed. Or maybe they simply had no alternative with the ingredients available, and he was overthinking things: hard to say without a vial.

Whatever humble way of speaking he might have acquired in the past months of deeply religious training probably ended up washed away in the alcohol of a single night. Still, he managed to hold his composure (for a definition of 'hold his composure' that probably involved at least one last song before the evening ended).
But at least he could stand on his own.

"Wukuang it is, then. It will be a pleasure to accompany you. And the traders." He still had more than enough time before the tournment at the fortress, and he did want to do something about the bandits. For the people and not for some strange heroism-based hero-high, of course. And DEFINITELY not for the company of a beautiful lady, he already failed his share of 'resist worldly temptation' homework for the month.
That was so much easier when locked in a monastery.

"Are you already ready for the trip?" With only one day available for shopping, limited funds and no idea on the details of the poison used by the gang it would be hard to find useful counters - but maybe it was possible to find something that strengthened the body's natural resistance for a while: it didn't sound like it had strong effects, but quite annoying.

If nothing more than idle, pleasant chatter went on for the evening he eventually offered to accomany Yao back to her inn - with insistence directly proportional to how drunk she was - then stumbled towards finding a sleeping accomodation for himself to finally pass out. The next day he'd have to go and talk with the merchants, and maybe try that last-minute shopping. Lots of things to do for a day that, he feared, would start dangerously close to noon.

DRK: 23/38
One night away from monks and he's already halfway to unconscious. Basically a Buddha already xD
08:01, Today: Xiao Kang rolled 23 using 2d20.  Maybe not get smashed!

This message was last edited by the player at 07:04, Sat 14 Aug.

Dao Master
 GM, 145 posts
Sat 21 Aug 2021
at 17:08
0002 - Xiao Kang
In reply to Xiao Kang (msg # 48):

"Glad to have found a fine companion!" Yao smacks you back a few times as she speaks excitedly.

After being done eating, you accompany Yao back to her inn and exchange a few words casually. As you walk by her side you realise that she is slightly off balance and you can tell that she perhaps has only a little more tolerance to alcohol than you. After exchanging a parting greeting, you find yourself at a decent inn and fall asleep the moment you hit the sack.

[You can return your Drunkedness to 0 again.]

After a very sound sleep indeed, you luckily manage to wake up just an hour after dawn, and wander about the market looking for things to buy.

Based on a quick survey of the available stalls in the market, you find relevant to your current goal of countering the mild poison:

- Low Grade Antidote (5 SP) : A herbal pill with mild antidote effects
- Mid Grade Antidote (15 SP) : A herbal pill with some antidote effects
- Poisoned Cow Blood Pill (5 GP) : A pill of dried blood of a cow that has been bitten repeatedly by numerous poisonous snakes but has survived somehow.
- Steamstone Shavings (10 SP) : Apparently sniffing it in powdered form can have strong antidote effects
- Steamstone (10 GP) : Apparently sniffing it in powdered form can have strong antidote effects

The market seems to be selling quite a number of weapons and armor for cheaper prices as it seems that there are quite a number of experts in the vicinity.


Once you are done shopping you manage to find the merchants who require your services tomorrow. There you also coincidentally encounter Yao who greets you.

"Ah... uh... what was your name again...?" Yao stutters as she scratches her head in slight embarrasment as she sees you.

After exchanging a few words, Yao introduces you to the animal traders' leader - Lu Zhuan. He is a dark skinned man with a rather disfigured appearance as there are quite many scars across his face, with one of his eyes covered with an a strip of leather. He is rather large in height but also skinny, and is dressed in rather robes of spotted fur.

"Well met. I'll be in your care tomorrow," Lu smiles as he speaks with his very pleasant to hear deep voice.

From the looks of it he is transporting a number of cows and bulls who look rather fit, alongside a few sheep. Based on what he says, the seeks to trade a number of cows and bulls from Meikuang village for their rather healthy but not very strong livestock and also for their well trained dogs. Rumor has it that the cows of Meikuang village are very resilient to disease and pests, and he wanted to examine them for himself and offer his physically stronger animals in exchange.
Xiao Kang
 player, 126 posts
 Dharma Name: Fu Su
 In: Zhanbei Jienu Hu
Sat 21 Aug 2021
at 19:15
0002 - Xiao Kang
Xiao Kang spends more than a few moments examining the Poisoned Cow Blood Pill. While both too pricey to buy on a whim and mostly unrelated to his current needs, it's still a peculiar item that tickles his curiosity as an amateur pill-maker.
In the end, he decides to play it safe: four Low Grade Antidote pills and one Mid Grade one - with how the poison was described he doesn't expect to need the last one soon, but it's the kind of thing that's useful to have in an emergency.

Speaking of emergencies, his meeting with the hippo made him feel rather... naked in the face of dangerous opposition, so he also decides to take advantage of the cheap prices of armor to invest in some extra protection - reinforced leather to cover his torso and dominant arm. Nothing impressive, but every little bit could help.


"After last night, I was kind of hoping you would be the one to remind me of my own name." A hearty laugh then he continues, reminding her. "You can call me Fu Su - I think that's my name, at least." Afterwards he introduces himself to the merchant as well. "Greetings. Let us hope our expertise won't be actually needed."

After spending some time acquainting himself with Lu Zhuan and his animals he once again turns his attention to Yao. "Would you mind a friendly spar before the day ends?" While he knows of her resistance to alcohol first hand and can guess she's not a newbie from the way she carries herself, there's no substitute for direct experience when trying to gauge someone.

If 'cheaper prices' means that a three-pieces armor (both arms and torso) costs 5 GT or less instead of 6 he goes for that instead - and then really needs to get a source of money.
Dao Master
 GM, 149 posts
Sun 29 Aug 2021
at 12:55
0002 - Xiao Kang
In reply to Xiao Kang (msg # 50):

Surprisingly you are able to get a set you want for around 4 GT.

A very happy merchant hands you a rather finely made vambraces and a vest of hardened leather.

"These are truly dire times! To think that there would come a moment where a monk has to armor himself to feel safe in these parts," the merchant exclaims as he happily hands you your purchase.


Back at the street where you meet with Yao... In response to your introduction Yao replies.

"You think...? - you say? Haha! It seems I was not the only one who became dead drunk!" Yao laughs energetically as she wipes a tear of mirth out of her eye.

The merchant greets you happily as he replies to you.

"Ah, so Yao's acquantance is a monk! This truly puts me at ease! At perhaps the Buddha will show me mercy now that I have employed the services of a seeker of Enlightenment!" Lu Zhuan jokes as Yao concurs with smile.

After spending around half an hour with the merchant, his followers and his animals, Yao nods towards your suggestion.

"A fine suggestion! It is indeed best to know the abilities of one who will have my back in a fight should it come to it tomorrow! Very well, let us spar at the abandoned shrine at the edge of the town. Perhaps there will be fewer onlookers there."

After a few moments you find yourself at the edge of the town next to a rather overgrown forest at which a rickety, half collapsed shrine stands.

"Hmm... considering that you are a monk, I imagine you are skilled in the way of Buddhist martial arts that involve the fist, legs or maybe the staff...? But seeing how you have no staff on you I'd wager its either of the two..."

"Can you deflect bladed blows with your skin? I heard some monks are capable of that. I learned my arts from wandering and observing various experts and receiving tips from some senior masters, so I don't know much about Buddhist arts," Yao takes out her sheathed sword from her left belt and holds it up in a ready stance. "Well I suppose I'll learn a thing or two from you!"

Yao smiles as she prepares for your strike.

This message was last edited by the GM at 12:56, Sun 29 Aug.

Xiao Kang
 player, 128 posts
 Dharma Name: Fu Su
 In: Zhanbei Jienu Hu
Sun 29 Aug 2021
at 20:08
0002 - Xiao Kang
Xiao Kang shrugs with a wry smile as she mentions her own training. "We went to schools more similar than you think." He assumes his own stance, steady on the legs as he feels the familiar sharp sensation of his Qi circulating. "I met my teacher on the road." 'And I don't even know his school' was a small detail he decided to skip on this topic for now. "I focus on palm and finger strikes."

He demonstrates with a step forward and a strike at her solar plexus with the technique he stitched together after spending time with the Noble Flame sect, way too telegraphed to be anything but a trivially avoided warm-up. From there he starts progressively increasing the rhythm of the duel, each motion flowing faster in the next one than the previous as he alternates palm and finger techniques.

"Oh, some monks definitely can do that - I've seen it done." By how he focuses on avoiding her blade in their exchanges instead of blocking it with his teeth, it's pretty clear he doesn't consider himself one of those 'some monks'.
At least until he steps right in her face mid-strike, trying to break her rhythm with a counterstrike just as her sword strikes his forearm and impacts hardened chitin with a loud, clearly metallic sound.

"Even if I do have my tricks on that topic." After that last exchange he jumps back, once again placing some distance between the two. "But they're so tied to Buddhism that I can probably share them, if you want and have something to trade." In fact, it's the ONLY technique he knows that he consider 'his' enough to share.

I'm going on the assumption that 'friendly spar' isn't actually a full-blown combat - but in case it is, consider it a long and fancy way to say:
Xiao Kang activates Manifest Chitin