the Forest of Spirits
We moved on South along the Spirit Road, and a few days from the city we met up with a caravan. They told us they came from a region to the Southwest, and had traveled through the grasslands and were now headed in the same direction as us. They seemed friendly enough. That changed when Dara exclaimed their wagons were all ilusions. That’s when the wagons disappeared and the merchants all transformed into oni.
A number of them turned on me (which is a good thing), but about half of them went for the wagons (and a sleeping Ameiko), leaving me unable to intervene. My loyal Takeshi jumped into the fray to help with his teeth and hooves. Unfortunately oni seem to be regenerating their wound, and it takes fire or acid to keep them down. Ameiko’s little sister and I kept ourselves busy cutting the monsters down, only to see them rise again, and took some serious beating with their breathweapons and magic. Luckily our priest and Spivey managed to keep us going. Fire rained down and I heared explosions and such, proof the rest was bringing the monsters down for good.
We prevailed, and our healers were able to save a badly injured Ameiko. This leaves me wondering what it is I can do to keep her safe through this adventure. I’ll have to give this some more thought.
We had also received some assistance from a Tien lady. Dara said she was conceiling her identity with magic and asked her to reveal her through nature. Luckily she complied. She was kitsune, fox-like shapeshifters, and she told us she was sent by the kami of the Forest of Spirits to assist us on our way and bring us to them. She said the Spirit Road was guarded by oni. She would lead us through the forest proper.
We agreed to follow her. This started a very strange and somewhat taxing trek. The first thing I noticed in these woods was being watched all the time. Our guide informed me this was normal. The spirits in this forest are very curious and would be watching all the time. And then people would start acting strange, a result of possession by one of these spirits. Luckily these spirits would only get into a person and sit there watching what happens, and not take controll. But the spirit’s nature would still have an effect on the person’s behaviour. I know how vengeful and angry I became at some point.
We also decided to use the Amatatsu Seal to revive a slain kami along the road. This does mean Rynus has to wait another month, but Dara agreed it was for the best to raise the spirit.
When we reached the grove where all the kami would gather to talk to us, we had to convince the guardian to let us through. It was not much of a problem altogether, but he did tell me I had been influenced by an evil spirit. This has me woried, and perhaps I should ask some information after we have finished the kami’s assignment.
The reason they wanted to talk was they wanted us to help them. They had been charged by the gods to look over the House of Withering Blossoms, a prison where the oni had been encarcerated. They wanted us to go investigate what had happened and report back as they were forbiden to enter.
We had a talk with the leader of the aranea living in the pagoda above the prison and they let us in. Inside we nhad to carve our way through a number of hobgoblins and mountain giants. We found the gruesome evidence of the hobgoblin handiwork, and I intend to search them all out and have a reckoning for these vile deeds.
At what seemed to be the heart of this prison we found a pagoda in the center of a mass of water. When we tried to cross we were attacked by water elementals. I was carrying Dara across the fast running stream, and our priest decided to try on her own instead of waiting for my help and was carried away. As we had no way of knowing if one could survive diving after her, we decided to continue on and hope she made it through in once piece. May Pharasma wellcome her home if not.