The Daiklave Brigade

Part I: Well Met In Wavecrest
The Solar Exalted are recruited, and save the city of Starfall

Hurricane rescued Beya from her island, and then sailed to meet Lin Kuei in Starfall in the Wavecrest Archipelago. They were both recruited for the crew of the Daiklave, and Hurricane instructed them, that the purpose of this crew was to perform great deeds of heroism through the West, to counteract all the chaos spreading through the Direction. Lin Kuei immediately made himself at home in one of the finer cabins, whereas Beya contended herself with stealing honey from the galley and sleeping wherever there weren’t people.

Starfall, they were told, was facing some dire immediate threat that Hurricane, unfortunately, was unable to pinpoint the exact nature of. Asking around, however, they learned of a beast of some kind in the jungle. They investigated, slaying a crablike hobgoblin in the forest and later finding a cave filled with wyld-mutated lampreys at the foot of the volcano Venestoro. Despite taking wounds, they pressed on and found a nest of hobgoblins, led by a crabman servant who claimed to be the servant of the raksha Azure Veil. This raksha was supposedly working together with a corrupt water-aspected Dragon-Blood in Starfall. With the aid of a local shaman, they called the attention of the volcano god, but unfortunately only succeeded in making him angry.

With the volcano threatening to explode, they rushed to find the dragon-blood, Sesus Palimo. He rode to the top of the mountain, where he sacrificed a local mortal to calm it down. Meanwhile, Beija spoke to the volcano, and managed to calm it down somewhat with the promise that the raksha would be caught.

Lin Kuei lured Sesus Palimo down into the cave where the right-hand man of the raksha dwelt, where Palimo attempted to murder him for having found out about the plot. Beya and Prismatic Pearl weren’t far behind though, and instead a free-for-all melee broke out between solar, lunar, dragon-blood and mutant, ending with the crabman and Palimo perished in the fight. Before he died, however, they learned that Palimo kept a conch which could be blown to draw the attention of the raksha. Beya kept Palimo’s black jade wavecleaver as a trophy, attuning to it to bring it out of the cave.

Returning to their ship, they sent a Dragon-Blood loyal to Hurricane – Natala, the Djala Windblade expert – to retrieve Palimos’ conch from his own ship, with the plan to draw out the Raksha at a safe distance and fire upon her using the essence artillery of the Daiklave. But first, both Lin Kuei and Hurricane felt that they had unfinished business with the belligerent volcano god of Venestoro. Boldly striding up the mountain, they called the god out and demanded he reigned in his arrogance and started acting properly as Starfall’s protector and patron. Taking umbrage to being ordered about, Venestoro initiated combat, striking out with fists and magma. After a quick but fierce battle, leaving most of the Exalted (especially Beya) heavily burnt, the god had to yield to Hurricane’s supreme swordsmanship, Beya’s swift slashes and Lin Kuei’s stone-shattering fists. Lin Kuei extorted a pact from the god, making him promise to do right by the mortal residents and sealing it with his anima.

The trio returned to the ship to recover and set out for the open sea, already planning their next move.

Part II: The Black Islands
The Daiklave sails on stranger tides, and our heroes befriend Jewel the lookout.

Some distance from Starfall, the lookout – named Jewel – spots a weather-torn ship coming closer. The Daiklave sails up to her, to discover it is crewed by only women. The Storm Mothers, who hate women at sea, have been harassing them with strange storms, and in addition to this they have been assaulted by pelagothropes.

Once rescued, the women explain that they were trying to sail for Wavecrest for help. A fearsome pirate named Hastoro has stolen away all the men from Skolis Island, their home. They have been so thorough as to kill any boy-children, to make sure that the women could not call for help without facing the wrath of the Storm Mothers. The Daiklave makes port at Skolis Island and shares its provisions with the natives, who are starving. The dead lay in mutitudes on the island, and so Beya takes it on herself to immolate every body with her anima to ensure their souls passing into Lethe. The flagrant display of essence draws the worship and gratitude of the islanders, despite Beya’s insistence that their prayers should be directed towards the Unconquered Sun. They learn that Hastoro keeps his ships and men in a nearby shadowland consisting of three islands. Since the Daiklave cannot sail stealthily in the black waters of shadowlands, it is decided to let Beya, Lin Kuei, Pearl and Jewel use a smaller vessel to sneak into the pirates’ camp and see if they can rescue the captive men.

They approach the shadowlands late in the evening, and know that they cannot escape until morning. Mooring their boat at a small island, they look over their map and see that the shadowlands consist mainly of three large islands: The Isle of Twisted Stone, the Isle of the Black Manse, and the Isle of Horrors, where a terrible monster is said to dwell. The greatest ship in the captain’s fleet is moored right outside the Isle of the Black Manse, and as Jewel spies a man tied to its mast, they make their way there to rescue him. Freeing the man, they learn that his name is Coran and that he is not of Skolis Island – those men are tied to the strange rocks on the Isle of Twisted Stone, which drain the will from a man and render him a mindless slave. Coran had proven quite headstrong, however, and had been tied to the mast as punishment.

The remaining two ships in the pirate captains’ fleet are moored at Twisted Stone. To draw these away from the captive men, Beya and Lin Kuei hatch a plan where they are to set fire to the black ghost ship and release the ghost who has been bound to keeping it afloat. They leave Coran with Jewel and bring Prismatic Pearl in a sneak assault at the ghost ship. Unfortunately, a misstep leads to their discovery, but some choice inspirational word from the zenith Beya incite a small mutiny among the living sailors on the ship, who help destroy its ghostly crew and incapacitate the ones still living but broken. During the melee, Pearl use her great strength to open the hatch to the hold, and the two solars quickly descent and sneak to the bilge. They find the tortured soul bound under the ballast rocks, but before they can release it they are interrupted by a ghost holding 10 hungry ghosts on leash. Beya, acting quickly, unleashes both barrels of the pair of newly acquired flamepiece she loaned from the Daiklaive’s armory. The attack proves devastating in the cramped compartment, and she annihilates all but three of the undead, who swiftly flee from the conflagration. The master ghost retaliates with a heavy blow while Beya is still open, but quickly falls afterwards between the two solars onslaught. Beya uses her anima to release the fettered ghost, setting the ship it was bound to aflame in the process. Then, they prepare for assaulting the other two ships as they sail closer to investigate, rallying the men and providing tactical insight. Pearl’s sorcery buys them time to prepare by setting one of the ships aflame, forcing the other to stop and aid. Beya initates an archery duel with Hastoro’s legendary slavemaster and first mate as the ship approaches, both taking hits and delivering arrows infused with her holy anima. Lin Kuei takes a small rowboat and locks the approaching ship’s rudder, forcing it to be moored on the island and allowing the boarding party to attack freely. Lin Kuei proceeds to wreak havok on board, breaking people and ship alike, ending up duelling with the first mate with Beya on ranged assist. They successfully destroy the powerful ghost and capture the ship – but the ghost captain himself is yet to be seen.

Rescuing the men from the Isle of Twisted Stone, they bring all the freed captives together on the last remaining intact ship. The two Solar heroes are now both hurt, tired and short on Essence, but decide to attempt to find the captain and end him before he gets away. They sail across to the Isle of the Black Manse to attempt to ambush him, and Beya manages to sink his rowing boat after which they engage in melee and destroy two of his ghostly lieutenants – but Jewel is badly injured in the fight. The captain gets away, and without Jewel’s sharp eyes, they have little chance of spying him. Sacks of small-grained sousteel ore are found to have been carried by the slain ghosts, leaving them both dismayed and wondering where the ore was mined from.

They turn their attention instead to the Black Manse on the island. It’s an imposing structure, a wide castle with walls of black glass, with a forest of bone-like trees intwined with poisonous, thorned vines as red as blood surrounding it in a starburst pattern. Beya’s investigations yields almost instinctive insight into the manse’s properties, leaving her somewhat disconcerted. Leaving Pearl to look after Jewel, Lin Kuei and Beya sneak into the Black Manse and find a babbling, broken elemental that tries to strike fear into their hearts before being annihilated by holy charms. Splitting up to find the hearthroom more quickly, the solars quickly find trouble again. Lin Kuei finds a hall dedicated to bloody sacrifice to the Silver Prince and two cultist kneeling in prayer. Beya finds the hearthroom, which doubles as Hastoro’s bedroom. There she gets attacked by Hastoro’s lover, an insane woman whose bones and flesh have been grafted with screaming soulsteel. Disgusted at the sight of foul, ritualistic supplication and spurred by wrathful memories of a previous life, Lin Kuei kills the cultists and manages to damage the manse so badly that it begins to self-destruct due to essence buildup. The walls crack and blood supercharged with necrotic essence starts to fill the rooms, as sharp, bony tree limbs and thorny, flailing vines grow rapidly everywhere. Beya’s combat ends as the floor falls away under her, plunging her and her opponent into burning blood. The madwoman dies, but Beya succeeds in crawling up from the ooze with griveous wounds, leaving her trapped between rapidly rising essence-fluid below and the flailing hazard of the vines and trees above. Causing a cave-in she manages to create an opening to jump up through, successfully escaping with Lin Kuei through the main doors.

As morning is close, and they are both quite injured, the pair return to the freed captives and wait for dawn, beset by metallic shrieks from the monster on the Isle of Horrors. As soon as they can safely leave, they sail for Skolis Island and return the captive men to their families. Then, while their wounds are patched up by doctor Daojian, the Daiklave sails for the Isle of Horrors, with the goal to destroy both Captain Hastoro and the terrible beast that dwells there.

A grand battle ensues. The monster on the Isle of Horrors turns out to be a hekatonkhire, an ancient beast cast off from a dead Primordial consisting of hundreds of writhing hands connected to an enormous soulsteel spike, and it nearly destroys the Daiklave in the battle. Only with the combined effort of Beya and Hurricane is the beast finally destroyed, with a gambit on a mid-air point-blank shot from Beya driving the monster’s spike into its own writhing body, informing them of the beasts’ weakness to its own soulsteel bite, and an exotic sidereal charm of Hurricane’s that haves the beast strike itself with the same attack it uses to impale him. Meanwhile, Lin Kuei has cornered Captain Hastoro on the island itself, and while the man is nearly invulnerable thanks to some vile necromancy, he finally manages to slay Hastoro by shattering his ribcage and releasing some dark spirit that dwelt within it, in place of the man’s heart.

They hastily leave the shadowlands, with broken masts and their captain in intensive care – noticing, to their great relief and joy, that with both the monster and the manse destroyed, the darkness is slowly receding.

Part III: The Mighty, The Fallen
The Fallen Wolf of the Cutting Sea appears, and speaks of bitter news.

Some distance from Skolis Island, Beija spots a black war-ship following them. Repairs need to be done on the Daiklave and it is in no shape to outrun an enemy vessel, so they stop and prepare for battle, thinking that perhaps this ship is some ally of Hastoro.

As it approaches, they see that the crew of the ship consists of shambling, dead men, and they prepare themselves for war – but the other captain takes no offensive action, instead getting into a small boat and sailing closer. As he boards the Daiklave, he gives the heroes quite a shock.

His name is Fallen Wolf of the Cutting Sea, and he is a broken Solar Exalt. His caste-mark is a bleeding wound, and his Charms are tied to death and the dead. He explains that he was once a Solar Exalted, but that he was captured by the Silver Prince and turned into the monstrosity he is today: A Deathknight, an Abyssal Exalt. The Silver Prince, he says, is the reincarnated form of the Bodhisattva Anointed in Dark Waters, powerful beyond measure and with many deathknights serving him loyally.

Fallen Wolf explains that the Prince is amassing a great fleet, and intends to invade the West with it. It will be some time before he is ready, but he has intended to test a fraction of his strength against the Neck, Beija’s homeland, which is precariously close to his own realm of Skullstone. The Fallen Wolf would intervene, but he is busy stopping a threat from the Far West: Even as the Silver Prince moves to capture the Northwest, a dangerous raksha named Unspoken Promise is planning to invade the Southwest, and Fallen Wolf must deal with him.

Learning that Azure Veil is a servant of Unspoken Promise, the crew of the Daiklave summon her using Palimo’s conch, and with combined forces they destroy her. Fallen Wolf thanks them for their aid, but says that he must hurry further west – for the Wyld Hunt is on his tail, having chased him since he destroyed another minion of Unspoken Promise in the kingdom of Lewyn.

They part company, and the Daiklave sails northwards to the Neck, hoping to intercept the black fleet of the Silver Prince before it destroys the islands that Beija call home; Fallen Wolf continues west on his own ship, Hope Undrowned.

During the long journey north, Dr. An Daojian finds that Jewel’s condition has worsened; his half-fey nature means his Essence is strange, and his human side is dying while his raksha side is not. To focus his mind, Daojian needs to practice the Wood Dragon Style, which he once mastered – and to remember how to work this style, he recruits Beija as his student. Jewel is soon cured, and Beija soon passes out from the hallucinogenic drugs required to practice the esoteric Wood Dragon Style.

When she awakes, the Daiklave has almost reached the Neck. It makes landfall on the island of Petraya, in the west, where the Deathknight fleet will likely invade.

Here, Lin Kuei dons the simple seashell garb of the natives, and goes ashore pretending to be a wise man from another island. He warns the locals of the deathknight invasion, and urges them to assemble an army. Unfortunately, they are led by a pious fool named Yasimbo, who wishes to solve the problem with prayers to the Ocean Father. As Beija speaks to his wife and learns of a sorceress who lives on the island, Lin Kuei tries to persuade Yasimbo to do something other than pray to the Ocean Father, but he fails.

Beija climbs the great mountain on Petraya Island, for she remembers this place from the First Age. Atop it dwells an Air Dragon, who speaks of her as the Giver of Shape. Its name is Rudra, and it speaks of Beija’s First Age incarnation as “Beothar”. Owing her a favour from another life, Rudra promises that it will help her in the upcoming battle. Beija climbs down the other side of the mountain, there to find the demon-blooded sorceress Tiana – she recruits her too as a prospective ally, although the sorceress clearly practices dark and dangerous arts.

Lin Kuei, meanwhile, grows weary of the old man. He uses the Eclipse Oath to force Yasimbo to aid the island in whatever way he can; Yasimbo responds in desperation, proclaiming to the islanders that they must sacrifice women to the Ocean Father. The villagers protest, and to prevent total chaos, Lin Kuei assumes direct control. Letting his anima shine, he calls forth to nine Children of Siakal, promising them blood and prayer if they come to his aid. The Children – giant shark-gods – materialize in the village and accept the bargain.

As Beija returns, the two Solar Exalted work in tandem to organize the locals, trying to build a makeshift army in addition to the nine gods, the Air Dragon, and the sorceress whose support they have. Their position is strong, but dark clouds gather on the horizon, and the fleet of the Deathknights approaches quickly…

Part IV: Black Sails
The Solar Exalted turn the tide of war, but at a heavy price.

Beya is woken up from her sleep by a foul smell.

Barrels full of rotting body-parts are floating ashore at Petraya. They are the bodies of dead pirates, their ghosts anchored to them, sent as a scouting party. From each barrel, invisible, immaterial spirits emerge to spy on the island. Beya and Hurricane can see them, and arrange for the bodies to be burned, ensuring that the ghosts will be destroyed when the sun next rises. In horror, though, Beya discovers that some alien entity can speak through one of the ghost, and can see through its eyes: She must assume that the scouting force has been successful. The Exalted return to the Daiklave to discuss strategy, but little is decided; after resolving a dispute between the locals and the sorceress Tiana, they again go to sleep.

When day comes and the ghosts are banished, they do all they can to prepare the natives for war. As the local men do war-dances and war-chants, the Exalted prepare defenses in the hallowed grounds around the Great Tiki, the massive stone head that serves as a temple to the Ocean Father. They consider moving this head to the top of the mountain, to grant the mountain’s gift of Essence to the Ocean Father in hopes that he will aid them. Since Rudra claims this demesne, though, they decide first to ask this spirit.

Again they scale the mountain, and Lin Kuei meets Rudra for the first time. This mighty Dragon of Air tells them, that if the demense is claimed by someone else it will not be able to return and rest at this mountain. Beya, who trusts Rudra better than the Ocean Father, opts to let Rudra keep it, and asks the spirit for a favor – to spy upon the incoming fleet. Rudra gladly agrees, and takes the form of a mighty storm-wind to fly above the black sails of the enemy. It counts twelve large war-ships, three of such a size that they rival the huge barges of the Realm.

Knowing their enemy somewhat better, the heroes of the Daiklave bide their time and wait. Soon, a deathly mist rolls in, concealing the ships of the enemy. Beya has instructed Rudra to summon a mighty storm when they approach, and the spirit does so: As the massive fleet approaches the shores of the island-kingdom, a sudden divine wind rises out of nowhere, and a massive storm thrashes the great fleet. Ships are smashed against the rocks or capsized as easily as were they little rowboats; only one ship cuts through the storm unharmed, resisting both the storm and the incantations of two sorcerer-women.

Through the storm cuts a horrid screech: Unliving chains of bone fly towards the island, propelled by some magical force. These chains are quickly disposed of by Beya, Lin Kuei and Hurricane, but they are but a fore troop; even as the enemy ships are dashed against the rocks, undead soldiers are clawing their way ashore and advancing through the jungles.

Soon, the enemy is upon them. Zombie sailors with rusty cutlasses swarm over the local population, and towering over them are two enormous abominations, each stitched together from eight corpses. These monsters attack the natives despite Lin Kuei trying to draw their attention, and before his very eyes an unfortunate soldier is devoured by the beast. Hurricane seems to spot something in the jungle, and vanishes.

Beya spies someone controlling the monsters, though, and lets an arrow fly towards this shadowed enemy. She hits, and out of the darkness steps the Deathknight called the Exquisite Flower of Carnage. This horrid woman is nude but for ugly piercings of rusty metal; scars cover her naked form, and she wields two chains of soulsteel as her weapons, one of them attached to the eight-corpse beast. Lin Kuei moves to defend his companion, and receives a kiss of the chain-whip meant for her: His legs are paralyzed, and he sinks to his knees. Just as this happens, some foul necromancy causes hundreds of clawing, skeletal hands to burst from the ground; they nearly grasp Lin Kuei, but in great fury he tears them from the ground and throws them at his enemy, along with everything else he can reach: A stone head, a coconut, a handful of gravel. The Abyssal, though she is hurt, merely laughs at his impotent fury.

Beya disarms the deathknight of one of her soulsteel whips, to keep her from further hurting Lin Kuei – but she discovers to her horror that the Abyssal Exalt is quite as deadly without her weapons. The Exquisite Flower of Carnage uses a secret technique to brand Beya’s face with a rune of ownership, nearly breaking her will. Only Beyas’ great strength of will and epic conviction allows her to fight the utter submission imprinted in the wicked rune, and she attacks the deathknight with renewed force. Even Beya can only resist for a short time, though, and she flies into the jungle to escape the evil presence of the Abyssal.

As this happens, a new foe enters the battlefield. A great hulking beast, some awful cross between man and angler-fish, lurks in the shadow luring mortal soldiers to their doom. Horribly, Lin Kuei and Beya recognize it as a Lunar Exalt. It is the Casteless monster named Blind Eyes of Hunger, bound to serve Exquisite Flower of Carnage, and as she follows Beya into the jungle she instructs the monster to destroy Lin Kuei.

A brutal battle ensues. Lin Kuei kicks out the monster’s teeth, and though he is nearly swallowed whole he manages to destroy it, killing it as thoroughly as he can to make sure it never again rises. Then, he rushes to Beya’s aid: Despite doing all she can to resist the influence of the rune, Beya’s will is being broken. Through a great feat of self-control, she has struck her ears with her palms to destroy her own eardrums, so that the Deathknights cannot command her: The Exquisite Flower of Carnage, impressed with her self-inflicted mutilation, grants her the gift of sweet pain. When Lin Kuei arrives she is chained to a tree and covered in what seems like a thousand tiny cuts, delivered by the barbs on the soulsteel chains.

A memory from the First Age surfaces in Lin Kuei’s mind. Just as Beya calls out to Rudra for aid one last time, he rushes to her side and strikes her, the Essence of his anima flowing into hers as thunder breaks through the clouds! Beya is freed from the force of the evil rune, the true light of Lin Kuei’s Essence releasing her mind – but not her body – from bondage. Beya instantly breaks free of the chains, cutting herself with her switchklaive to use her own blood for lubricant as she slips free. She draws her bow and fires one shot at her former owner. The deathknight merely laughs, catches the arrow, and uses it to stab Lin Kuei in the chest, nearly killing him instantly.

Beya Tsufit and the Exquisite Flower of Carnage face each other in the storm that is Rudra, having come once more to its former masters’ aid. Beya draws the last weapons she has: The twin flamepieces she found aboard the Daiklave. As the Deathknight lashes out one last time, Beya shoots, and the storm that is Rudra becomes a deadly wind of fire: It kills the Deathknight in an awful fashion, grinding her still-laughing form until nothing but blood and ash remains.

Beya walks through the jungle, back to the Daiklave carrying the lifeless form of Lin Kuei. Rudra says a last farewell – which falls on Beya’s deaf ears – and then disappears in a sudden squall, returning to its duties as monitor of Western winds.

As he sees them approach, Doctor Daojian calls for Natala, and she flies him to the beach. He gestures for Beya to set down Lin Kuei and defend him: He must perform surgery. On the war-torn beach, surrounded by zombies and with the Essence cannon blasts of the Daiklave exploding everywhere around them, the doctor opens Lin Kuei’s chest with his scalpel and begins to remove the arrowhead. Beya, still deaf and with tears in her eyes from the awful pain she suffered at the deathknights’ hands, keeps watch, and sees a blood-red anima approach from the jungle, resembling that of her former captor. In hate and anger, she fires a well-placed shot at the figure – only to discover that she has shot Captain Hurricane.

The Captain falls to his knees, dying, and Beya – overcome with the horror of the situation – walks, without a word, into the jungle.

When Lin Kuei wakes up, he is in the medical bay of the ship. The Doctor is there, and so is Hurricane, alive but even more gravely injured than the Solar himself. Lin Kuei speaks with him, and Hurricane says but a few words: “One of them got away. You must stop him before he reaches Skullstone. I’ll appoint you Captain in my absence.”

Then, speaking a mystical phrase, Hurricane disappears in a wisp of red Essence, leaving his clothes, bandages, and sword behind.

Lin Kuei takes his hat and sword, and meets the crew members. He learns that Beya is still missing, and that he has been unconscious for four days. Sending Pearl to search for her, he begins to prepare the Daiklave to set sail, almost four days behind the escaped Abyssal.

Pearl finds Beya atop the sacred mountain, where Rudra used to be. As they speak, Beya breaks down in tears, Pearl trying to comfort her as best she can. Then, a change comes over her, and she heads straight for the ship.

The Daiklave sails. Lin Kuei learns from one of the Maws of Siakal that the escaped deathknight is headed not for Skullstone, but for the manse of Suman Tzung, a strange manse that has been lost since the First Age. How the deathknight knows its location, and why he’s going there, is unclear, for the manse is a secret known only to the gods of the sea, and they are forbidden from telling anyone but a Lawgiver. Lin Kuei learns from Pearl, that Suman Tzung was one of the greatest sorcerers of the First Age, and that he practiced a mysterious kind of sorcery based on cryptic runes; as he hears this, strange memories come over him. He suspects some tie to this manse in a former life, but he cannot recall more than strange words and symbols.

As both Beya and Lin Kuei search their minds for memories of what they once were, the Daiklave sails inexorably onwards, headed for a manse that has been lost since the First Age… and for a deathknight so powerful, even Hurricane could not defeat him.

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…


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