Expedition week 2, more terrible things

Stories of lore 20

 

It is a tad unfortunate that both people most likely to be talented with cutting edge prosthetics are away on the expedition. Though she’s at least alive and should remain as such in the foreseeable future so we’ll see about the Iraeka project when they get back. I mean I can make a golem arm but I have no idea how to make sure she can actually use it as an arm. Though I could make it slap her every now and then. That would be amusing.

The expedition has seen some more losses and manpower is starting to dwindle. Varpu died, Petrina is almost dead, Essi was torn in half but is now back here in Jämsä for it, and Shime is catatonic and won’t leave the cave. Aato is really the only name of note still left, unless you count Ansa but she’s not really doing colony operations, she’s keeping tabs on the dragons and managing from a command table. They still haven’t managed to amass enough mana to activate the gate stone again.

Call it a wise hunch, but something is wrong on that island. Recent reports say they encountered an undead. An abnormally dangerous one, such things do not just exist. All undead must be made by a necromancer with the only exception being self propagating vampires and zombies. Though even those are made by necromancy to get it started. The report is unfortunately unclear on the full extent of its abilities, because the only person who fought it -and lived- is mute and catatonic.

 

Greetings keeper! It is a glorious day for the Oda people. As for the matter with the elves, asylum is more or less what we went to offer in the first place. Along with the nalkas, though not everyone is so interested in fleeing across the forest to us given the danger of the trip and the unfamiliarity. Though a few have here and there.

Kaze has returned to Okushiri to resume his duties and is sufficiently caught up on ongoing affairs.

We lost our other scout boat in the far east as it patrolled the other frozen landmass we came across. Though we do not know the cause of its disappearance.

The ongoing scouting in the southern isles revealed another of those tribal towns but more interesting we found an actual settlement that could be called a fortress. It could be a little better defended but it does appear to be island natives instead of colonists from Cayetano so we are impressed none the less. Our scouts didn’t approach it though, saying they would rather wait for Iwanagi to come check on it, as they found it by being told by island natives of the town they found across the water from it. The fortress of one of the most significant places in the southern islands to the tribal cultures there. It is known as the last stretch of land men could set foot on before approaching what they call the edge of the world. This may be their lack of understanding of what is actually west of that fortress and why no one ever returns from it. The Eye, which we learned from Eliana is quite possibly the most dangerous place in the known world, is directly west of this fortress.

Of further relevance, this fortress is suspiciously desolate. Despite observing for several days from sea, our scout reports that they saw nothing. Just a statue at the docks they mistook for a person until they realized it didn’t move for three straight days. This place is supposedly home to a group of women known as the “Seni”. A group of oracles who manage the will of “The Goddess”.  Of note, this fortress is in a very interesting location. Due to the layout of the land around it, a channel sees the constant flow of ocean water right under the fortress that spans between the two island masses to either side of it. Seriously this is a massive structure they’ve built. It’s mostly wood and honestly likely vulnerable to having its supports destroyed, but it is impressively large and well defended despite being so desolate. However, the constant ocean flow, and its access to a great range of shallow waters makes it ideal for harvesting mana. The exact spot it is sitting on might be capable of harvesting so much mana it would make the badlands start drooling a new oasis into existence just looking at this place on a map.

Whatever the Seni do here, they have access to a huge continual source of mana. The scouts are too scared to approach it, they say the place gives them the creeps. Perhaps we can send Iwanagi by once he is done circling the island, or those nalkas in the same area might be inclined to brave it.

Next we have Hamano’s trip to Maji. It turns out that Kaylen is very interested in this kensei stuff. It is notable she does use a sword after all. She’ll be visiting us soon to look into it. On the elven matter, she said that in times of danger it is natural for elves to seek security. Human’s tend to go towards danger a bit haphazardly and band together in times of strife. She mentions elves tend to become more selfish instead and are likely trying to toss blame around and find the best solution for their own interests. Something of a side effect of their long lifespans. This is also why the nobility are likely going to try and cling to power as hard as they can, giving it up could render them poor commoners for a century instead of just a few decades. In their weakened state what they need to be cautious of is outside influences. Just as our alliance has a sudden keen interest in taking them in for our benefit, that I would argue is mutual, the badlands warlord Usian is likely to be meddling in their affairs. If an individual in power can be offered comfort, they are liable to crack rather than stand their ground for the betterment of the whole. Exception going to the druids, as they are the least motivated by such self interest. Likely due to the fact that they are perfectly comfortable living in poverty since they can survive in the wild as if it were a custom tailored home.

Also you may be pleased to know that finding the hermit master is actually quite easy. I know where his house is. I used to have tea with him now and then when I was younger. I’m somewhat concerned that I’ve grown so many gray hairs and his have remain unchanged. Upon request he has agreed to come and pay us a visit to answer your questions. Speaking of which, greetings Master Soshu.

My respects to the Keeper, and to you as well Kurisu. It has been some time since I’ve come down to the village, it is good to see how it has come along.

I do believe it would be more apt to call this land a proper city now. Keeper, Master Soshu is quite old. I hear rumors he has mastered his ki to such extent that he has ceased to age.

 

Just a rumor. One cannot stop the movement of a river. Merely redirect its flow. My old bones still creak, if such were the case I lament not to have discovered it a few years sooner. Were I in such good health as not to age I might visit more often after all.

You’re two hundred years old.

Just a coincidence.

 

 

Does redirecting the flow include just building a dam?

Yes.

. . . Well we wanted to ask your opinion of the latest discoveries in Ki. Between the kineticists and the Sohei we’re seeing the monks achieve things never known to be possible. We were wondering your opinion of it, and if you might know any other techniques we’ve yet to see.

I find the innovation of the generation enlightening. The achievements that can be accomplished with true mastery of the self prove themselves vast. It is suspected that among the ruins of this world there lay greater secrets still. We are not the first to pursue the path of the self. I have heard rumors that once the masters of ki were able to do many things. My favorite is holding your breath underwater for abnormal durations. It seems the least far fetched, and I have spent time testing the limits of this idea.

How long have you managed?

Three days. A fish kept tickling my nose and caused me to sneeze however, and I had to surface afterwards. Also my fingers were quite pruned and I feared they might fall off.

You seem to consider this achievement quite mundane despite the obvious uses of that to a nation of sailors.

 

Were our sailors monks who had the time to practice something then maybe it might be worth exploring further.

Some of them are actually. Iwanagi comes to mind, he has been sailing for some time now.

 

 

Oh I see. Perhaps you should have him practice the technique. Though I have heard stories of monks who could simply live underwater. I have been studying turtles and whales in regards to this.

 

I will trust our keeper to use his best judgement with these stories, but before I divulge them I will caution some secrets can be dangerous. Send only those you trust to search for answers. The Sohei are formidable, but they fall to the temptation to use their ki for the gains of power over all else. They see strength in war before strength of self. Exposed to such old mysteries they might take a perilous path.

The most substantial of these myths is a monk that lives today. No tome hunting here, though they come from another land to the north. After being sent into exile no one is sure where they went, though they were last seen on a boat. He was known as the monk of spirits. By spirits I mean wine. Supposedly by imbibing he became so loose that when ki flowed through him he could do spectacular things. Coincidentally he was exiled for too many bouts of public drunkenness. They say when he was drunk he would be impossible to apprehend by the local guard. Any effort to do so would see him slip through their fingers, attempts to use more violent measures of force were useless against his incredible strength. I’ve no idea where this drunken master is now, or what use such a technique could hold, but you wanted to know.

Another story is of the fallen guardian. A ki user so powerful they could defeat an army…easily. The story goes that they were born during the dying night, a sorry time to be a child for sure. This child learned the art of ki on accident as a necessity to sustain themselves on so little food. In these dark times necessity pushed them to become more and more powerful. Their students protected the village they grew up within from such beasts, allowing the people to eat more plentifully than most in these times. However, the story has two versions that notably splits around here. According to one tale, they became so powerful that they became a tyrant. Destroying any who opposed them and demanding tribute. They laid waste to the village they once protected in anger and slaughtered their own students. Only to disappear in search of a worthy test of their strength. Convinced they had become an apex predator, and that all monsters were merely prey. The second version says that it was actually their own students that betrayed them. Fearful of the master’s power and what they were becoming. It is said their body was twisting, showing signs of becoming the very monsters they defeated and fed from. While no one else in the village showed such signs. In fear the students ambushed the master in the night and killed them with a rock, for no metal could pierce their skin. The master’s own techniques were said to be similar to the kineticists we have now, though notably referred to repeatedly as lightning. The stories also mention they used a sword, meaning perhaps they had learned both the elements of a kineticist and a kensei. Finding any remains of this village may help you learn more about your own discoveries. The village was built along a lake, but hidden within a mountain. Make of that what you will.

The last I have heard of is the one for which my warning carries grave significance. There is said to be a power so great that any to learn it shall become consumed by it and become a monster themselves. Perhaps related to the second story? When you are told an insult, when you suffer a punch, you tend to get mad. Kyobo is to embrace that anger, to throw all ration to the wind. To desire nothing more than dominance and superiority, and take these dark thoughts to their extremes. It is known as the ‘berserker’ style in some stories. It is merely a ghost story, one told to younger monks as a cautionary tale of why they must harness their emotions and seek inner peace. To never fight in anger, the usual. Every monk knows of this potential downfall and how it leads to suffering and loss of the self. Though…I have found there may be truth to this story. There was supposedly a master of kyobo, which shouldn’t be an actual style. Merely a state of mind. This master passed through a town. He was quiet, he minded his own business. He never spoke a word, merely passed through. When villagers went about their day, they found along the route he must have come from were dozens upon dozens of monsters and a few of their own villagers alike laying dead. While they believed it could not be the work of the stranger, it was notable every corpse had been savagely bludgeoned to death. Some suspected a bigger monster had hit them all, or that maybe if that stranger had done it he must have had a club hidden on his person. Though I disagreed, and conferred with a nalkas historian to the north-

As a side note, Master Soshu is the one who first found and introduced us to the nalkas. Before you and their current king’s time.

 

 

Haha, yes it seems not too long ago that I met that woman gifted with a fiery indomitable spirit adrift among the snow.

That is not how most people would describe Ansa.

 

 

A shame, Ansa is a woman of great will and determination. I hold nothing but respect for her.

We prefer to call it a healthy fear.

I call it burning, passionate, unquenchable, unfiltered, raw hatred.

 

Careful child, such things will give you wrinkles.

I’m over a hundred years old, I think I’ll be- oh shit I don’t have my powers anymore.

Wait how did you get here? No matter, you are welcome to stay. Continue with your story Master Soshu.

Oh right. Well we were near the end anyways. Supposedly the master might be a true master of kyobo as a technique. Such unbridled aggression allowed him feats unknown to any mortal man. He sought strength at all costs, including his humanity. It is why he never speaks, never stops minding his own business, always presses forward seeking greater challenge. I notice this is a recurring theme in some of these stories. The pursuit of power for power’s sake is a dangerous road to take. These rumors and stories of the Kyobo master come from the south, near a place called Moncayo Pass. While they may be old, and certainly age would have claimed such a being, perhaps he left something behind to give clues to such a method? If nothing else, it may help explore the answers to what techniques might still yet be found for ki.

 

Alright so…the expedition is coming along. People are dying left and right, ground is being made, and we can sufficiently say the island is extremely dangerous. Though this does put into perspective what the island to the south called “The Eye” must be like.

 

Did all the recruiting as requested and deploying them to the new villages to begin construction sites in particular. Though notably those sent a bit further south reported worse monster attacks than usual. The guard teams and their settlers were wiped out before they could even abandon the trip. They were run down by the werewolves of Sanctuary, evidently having entered into their hunting range. Werewolves are not monsters and can be much smarter. Not to mention more ruthless.

Nyssa and Ryo have started moving again through the forest to look around, though nothing of interesting yet down there.

As for the dreadnought, definitely not. While you could theoretically build something of use of it, it is still in the water which tends to be rather dangerous. Even the Oda navy has abandoned the island for safer waters. I imagine the expedition team might be able to use it for spare wood at best.

Also as one of those friendly reminders, we still have a scout crew in Cayetano just hanging out there. They describe the place as, not necessarily the most inviting given that they’re still associated with witches even if we lost our last set. We kind of cultivated that legend for a few centuries after all.

Oh and about the elves, they still seem to be recovering and are a little wary despite our offers. Though not wary of us. They said that they feel it would be dangerous to retake those cities now that we’re expanding so far into the forest so dramatically, because it might anger their druids. There’s also all their political shenanigans going on that the Oda are keeping tabs on.

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