The Daiklave Brigade

Part V: The Drowned Manse

Lin Kuei learns about his past life, and nearly destroys the only relic left of it.

Knowing that the deathknight they chase is headed for the lost manse of Suman Tzung, the new captain of the Daiklave sails for the strange western waters where the manse is hidden. Their map marks it as being inside Creation, but the map is outdated: Now, the lost manse is hidden in the waves of the western Bordermarches.

They sail through strange mists and weird currents, but fortunately they need not go deep into the Wyld before they spot the ship of the Deathknight: It is moored in the middle of nowhere. The crew sends Amphiro to scout, and it appears that the manse is deep under water.

Fearing what the crew of the deathknight’s black ship might be able to do, they resolve to deal with it head-on, as fast as they can. Under Lin Kuei’s leadership, they engage the large war-ship and engage in a quick but brutal naval battle: The walking dead sailors are blasted away by the Daiklave’s mortar, and there are no human casualties, although Lin Kuei is injured when he falls into the water and is hit by a collapsing spine chain.

Boarding the enemy vessel, Lin Kuei is again injured by a female ghost who stabs him in the back. Beya manages to force the ghost to surrender, and interrogates her: The captain of the ship, the Deathknight they seek, is named Moth to Wisdom’s Flame. He is currently a mile below the ship, investigating the sunken manse; it once could float if the owner commanded it, but that function has since been lost and it rests on the bottom of the sea. Moth to Wisdom’s Flame has an extensive collection of books, which is brought aboard the Daiklave for safekeeping.

Beya now dives into the water, and returns with a plant called sea oak. This plant, although poisonous, allows the imbiber to breathe underwater – it grows only in the Western Wyld. Lin Kuei eats some but cannot handle the poison; fortunately the doctor can prepare it in such a way that the poison is greatly weakened.

Lin Kuei eats of this cured plant, and ventures down to the sunken manse accompanied by Beya, Amphiro, and Pearl, who can all breathe underwater naturally.

They find a beautiful porcelain palace, surrounded by sharks and rooted at the bottom of a great underwater divide. Beya investigates it by looking through the windows, and she learns that the internal Essence is unstable, and that freak storms and floods course through the building. Still, it seems safe enough to enter.

As they go in through the doors, however, they find that they have already been noticed. A form appears in a mirror in the entry hall: An imposing man in a black cloak, gray robes around his body, his face hidden behind a grinning soulsteel mask. He is Moth to Wisdom’s Flame, and he is here because he remembers the strange runes of Suman Tzung from a past life. He urges them to leave – he wishes only to study in peace. To aid him, he has brought the sorceress Tiana, whom he captured in the Battle of Petraya.

The four Exalts discuss what to do, but it is concluded they must press on – giving a Deathknight free access to the powerful runes of Suman Tzung would be too dangerous. They venture inside, and soon find that much of the manse’s contents are in ruin – beautiful glass furniture has been smashed and dangerous tides of glass and water sweep through the manse. In addition, Moth to Wisdom’s Flame can direct the chaos towards them, and fills up a corridor with such deadly rain, that it could tear the flesh straight from a man’s bones. Beyond it is a beautiful music room, with access to the second floor.

What parts of the manse they can reach, however, hold something interesting enough of its own: A beautifully tiled mosaic of Silur, the great sorceress, and Suman Tzung, her apprentice. Lin Kuei remembers, without a doubt, that this is his First Age incarnation. He recognizes the words spoken by the woman: She is dictating the turning of the seasons. Beyond this mosaic is a strange room full of bowls and pipes; it is discovered these bowls can be used to direct the flows of water in the manse, but none of the Exalted know how to do so. Lin Kuei experiments, and manages to flood the music room. Beya, who is in such perfect tune with the natural world that even the razor rain cannot hurt her, heads through the corridor and into the music room, swimming up to the second floor and opening the doors there, so that the second floor is drained and made accessible for the others.

They soon find a chamber of strange glass cylinders. Lin Kuei opens these, and releases four elementals, placed here during the Shogunate to try and repair the manse. He orders them to continue their work, and to drain the chambers of the manse of water; by mistake, they open up a large whirlpool outside as they try to drain the outside of the manse as well. From the elementals, Lin Kuei finds out how to access the hearthroom – one must merely head through the ruined library.

The four heroes do so, and soon arrive in the hearthroom – a massive dome, filled with mosaics, in which are written the 77 runes of Suman Tzung. Moth to Wisdom’s Flame is there, studying them – he keeps Tiana crucified and disemboweled, so that only his foul Charms keep her alive.

Speaking with Moth to Wisdom’s Flame, Lin Kuei learns that he is the reincarnated form of Suman Tzung: Once, they were master and apprentice. Suman Tzung saved the life of Silur during the Usurpation, and she managed to flee to this manse before she was slain.

Moth asks of Lin Kuei, that they study these runes together and harness their great power. Lin Kuei is skeptical, but finally agrees that he can help Moth to Wisdom’s Flame, if this one swears an oath to obey him and never use his powers against Creation. Moth to Wisdom’s Flame, who is cunning, uses Charms to twist the words of the oath, and swears instead to use his powers to make Lin Kuei great and powerful.

This betrayal fills the Solar Exalt with great anger. Seeing his former apprentice having become so power-hungry, he attempts to destroy the manse so that it may never be abused. Despite Beya trying to intervene, he slays both Tiana and the Deathknight, and damages the manse in the process. Seeing the Abyssal dead, he changes his mind, and storms out and orders the elementals to repair the manse. They are ill suited for this task, and Lin Kuei tries to activate its powers long before they are finished. In a sudden quake, the manse turns sideways, its buoyancy only partially restored, and then shoots up through the waters at frightening speed, slamming into the bottom of the Daiklave, which is just recovering from the effects of the great whirlpool.

Lin Kuei lets the others leave; thereafter, in a great feat of Essence manipulation, he sets the manse down again on the bottom of the ocean, consumes another dose of Sea Oak, and swims to the surface, punching out any sharks that get in his way.

Still upset when he reaches the ship, he orders for the Daiklave to hurriedly leave this wretched place. He sinks the deathknights’ black ship with a single punch, and as Beya tries to send the souls of the zombie sailors to Heaven to end their suffering, the great yellow ship disappears in the distance. Fortunately, Pearl stays behind in the shape of a dolphin to help her catch up.

When she again reaches the Daiklave, she gives the captain a savage kick to try and shake him out of his unreasonable irritation and anger. It does not work, and only after they have sailed for a full day and a night does Lin Kuei finally calm down.

The following day, they speak. Lin Kuei apologizes for his anger, and upon his own Anima, swears an oath to always try to follow the teachings of the Unconquered Sun henceforth. He will do his best to never again act so irresponsibly. He holds a great speech to the crew, promising them that their cause is just and that the light of the Unconquered Sun is with them; they shall sail to the aid of Fallen Wolf of the Cutting Sea next.

First, however, they will make landfall on Okirho, to let off any man who does not wish to sail with the Daiklave into the Wyld.

Once on Okirho, Lin Kuei buys Pearl some new silken dresses, and Beya buys for herself a seashell-decorated loincloth of finest quality. Pearl, who sees that Lin Kuei has calmed down, speaks with him concerning the protection of the Neck in case of further attacks from Skullstone – perhaps a nearby Lunar, known under many names but called the Walrus, might be persuaded to protect the Neck. Lin Kuei agrees that a detour to see this Lunar might be wise, and to be safe, he also asks around Okirho for what rumours there are of other dangers.

He learns that the Wyld Hunt pursuing Fallen Wolf is still in the Southwest, near the Kingdom of Lewyn, and that a great Immaculate master is with them. He further learns of famous pirates in the area: Of Eos and Osissa, of Captain Froud of Coral, and of Lintha Vangooro, the Lintha pirate.

The Daiklave sets sail for the small archipelago of Goo Goo G’Joob, the Walrus. They find him: A heavy-set man who lives a life of ascetism, practicing martial arts as penitence, for he blames himself for the death of his sifu. Lin Kuei manages to persuade him to help protect the Neck, in exchange for a promise to teach him the Solar Hero Style. The Solars also speak with another Lunar, named the Prince of Crows: This Lunar is a great spymaster, and keeps track of many rumours and tales. He promises to alert them if there are any further threats to the Neck.

The Prince also tells them, that a great and ancient Lunar named Leviathan is near where the Fallen Wolf now sails – but the Lunar Exalted have tried to get his help against the raksha already, and he has declined. Also, the Wyld Hunt sails in the waters of the Wyld as well – and with them is the strange Immaculate Master, who carries a strange black jade dagger. The Prince of Crows suspects, that this might be the fabled Black Depths Foretold, destined to slay the Ocean Father himself…

Having learned much of the waters of the Southwest, the Solars thank the Prince of Crows and Goo Goo G’Joob the Walrus for their aid. They board the Daiklave yet again, and set sail for the South – there to venture into the weird and dangerous waters beyond the edge of the world…


Riklurt Riklurt

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