Marai: The Long Dark
Episode 2: “Jade and Stars”
10th Umbanth 444 NC
Travel to the Himdal Hills continue with conversation between the four who have been thrown together under dire circumstance. Connor questions Thrush about the time disparity of what Thrush remembers to be three years, and the the rest of Marai remembers to be ten. Thrush considers both to be true and dismisses further discussion. Watseka and Jogaila begin to mourn for their friends and the destroyed town of Tanno.
12th Umbanth 444 NC
After days of non-eventful travel, the group comes across a half-covered overturned ushming, surrounded by a group of slaughtered dead Shen honor guards. Within, they discover a Shen woman who clings barely to life. Watseka and Connor attend to the woman, when Thrush hears the word “Nosshte” from outside. Investigating, he and Jogaila notice the bodies are being used as cover for the snow-swimming Hush Goblins and they are attacked. Though they make quick work of them, the group realizes that one has escaped and that reinforcements will soon be on the way. Thrush quickly fashions a travois, and place the woman upon it. Through frozen lips, the Shen woman asks they bring the chests that were also within, but they are too heavy, filled with gems and gold, and are instead buried in the snow away from the attack site, after each chest is inscribed with Watseka’s sign. The group instead takes a few handfuls of the gems. Hearing a force of whooping Hush Goblins on the return, Thrush devises a daring plan to distract the attackers as the rest make their escape.
As a storm begins to take shape, the group attempts to build a small shelter within the snow for protection. The scent of rotten fish interrupts them, and though all expect to be soon attacked, they are surprised by the appearance of the red-robed figure of a Fatesim stepping out of the blowing snow around them.
He says: “Choice and death behind you, Choice and death to come. The roar of the mountain, which most do not hear, signals the coming war, which most will suffer.” He turns away and disappears. Thrush soon returns after losing the Hush Goblins.
Throughout the night, the group passes the time discussing the world, with Connor showing them a map of Marai, and the locations of The Port and the Shen Empire.
13th Umbanth 444 NC
Speaking with the now recovering Shen woman, she tells them her name is Ching Lan. Further, she recognizes the lute which Connor carries, revealing much more than Connor ever suspected about the instrument, including the name of “the Lute of Bihai Ju-Long”. They also discover that she is a Wu Jen of Fire, though her hands and feet are severely frostbit and she is unable to cast in this state.
17th Umbanth 444 NC
They arrive at Himdal Hills, where many Oomingmak are setting up for wintering. The Snow Leopard and the Fire Polda tribes approach them. After speaking with the Shaman of the Snow Leopards, they join the Oomingmak celebration of tukarik qavikt. The Shaman invites them to rest for the evening while he consults with the spirits. Ching Lan and Jogaila discuss why they are traveling.
18th Umbanth 444 NC
In the middle of the night, the group is awakened by the Snow Leopard Shaman, who tells them to immediately leave and never return. He states that the child, Watseka is chaos, and leaves nothing but destruction in her wake. The spirits, he says, have told him to prevent the group from traveling any further into the hills and the group is escorted from the Oomingmak camp.
Gorgonsbane grows in valleys and near rocks, and so Thrush, with Jogalia’s help, collects the needed quantity (some twenty pounds of the 4 ounce plant that grows in patches of two or three at most) under cover of stealth… and the able distractions of Connor and Watseka.
Connor talks some Oomingmak into picking heather in exchange for Goblin Mead to distract them, and then another, offended by Watseka’s pathetic attempts to use a quarterstaff, agrees to train her, if only so she doesn’t embarass herself further. Connor tells the Oomingmak to remember Gellor Keegan, and which point they begin to chant “Gellor Keegan Goblin Ale”. Ching Lan summons a firey disk to carry the heather and Gorgonsbane.
It is noted that, Three years ago, divination spells begun to fail everywhere – about the time that Thrush returned.
22nd Umbanth 444 NC
The Night of the Falling Stars: falling from the skies, shards of Sol Linaru arrive. One of these shards impacts within a few miles of the party and Thrush goes to investigate, followed, more slowly, by the others. In the crater, Thrush waits for the glassy shard to cool and then touches it. When Watseka touches Thrush a moment later, the shard goes through him and into her, nearly charring Thrush in the process and blasting her through the air. She lands safely in a snowdrift and as she comes round finds that she has been granted low-light vision. Ching Lan suggests she may be a child of the stars.
Magic ceases to function for a short while, during the absorption and for four hours thereafter. Watseka, through a vision, discovers there are five more shards on Ursanami.
23rd Umbanth 444 NC
During a conversation, Ching Lan slips and reveals herself to be more than she says. She soon divulges that she is Princess Xiulan Nitsu of the Shen Empire. She tells her story of the coming of the Harbingers of the Devourer, the Godson, the True Word. She tells of the slow advance the combined forces of the Harbingers, and how she had been sent to Ursanami to secure protection from the Tornagh Dynasty. She also explains that the Kanko Dwarves had been attacking the Empire, helping to bring the downfall of the City of Jade, the capital of the Shen. She believes her father and her brothers to be dead, and that she is now the last of the Imperial line.
The others explain about the plight of the Dwarves and express extreme doubt that the Kanko are involved what-so-ever with the attack on the Shen. Connor is concerned about Watseka’s destiny.
24th Umbanth 444 NC
They discover another Oomingmak tribe, the Gold Drakes, who have been slaughtered by a large force of Harbingers.
The party decides to make a forced march to the south to Kanko Torus, which has now been swallowed by the Black Wall.
25th Umbanth 444 NC
Upon reaching the Black Wall, Thrush attempts to move through, but his shoulder blades ache and his head spins. He stumbles back and tries again, but the result is the same. When Connor and Jogaila enter, they experience nothing noticeable and state that it is safe for the rest. When the five move through together, Thrush collapses from the pain, and Watseka hears in her head… “There you are…”