The Tengese Resistance

Part III: Dragon-Slayer

In which a farmhand becomes a hero, and Liberty shaves his beard.

The plan of the Resistance is put in motion. First, the Dragon-Bloods’ favorite courtesan must be dealt with; so it is that Liberty and Blood Moon Rising go to Riku’s teahouse while Seth and Rena hide in his home. There, Liberty recruits the courtesan – Yin Li – to come to his house and provide services for Blood Moon Rising, supposedly a dying man who needs a good time before his life ends.

The ghost-blood nearly fails to lure her into the alchemists’ house, but she finally enters; the fight is over in one second. Seth leaps out from behind a sheet and cuts the courtesan nearly in half with a single blow, just as she strikes Blood Moon Rising in the face. Sadly, Seth has been careless in his fighting, and torn down many strange alchemical concoctions; orange dye has splashed all over the back of his head, and alchemists’ fire splashes all over his sword, setting it aflame and blistering his hands. Nonetheless, he is victorious.

Seth stabs his sword into the earthen floor to put out the flames. Blood Moon Rising, meanwhile, tastes the blood of the courtesan and draws strength thereof; then, he prays for her soul to make sure she journeys safely to the Underworld. As Liberty comes into his house, and sees the mess that has been made in the fight, he is shocked and instructs Seth to clean it up. Seth does so, but only after he has dug his sword out of the ground.

Having defeated this courtesan, the heroes now make preparations for slaying Cynis Morgrim. Liberty disguises Seth with dyes and strange ointments, so that he appears a purple-haired, purple-bearded nobleman, and they go to speak with Riku, persuading her to let a weapon be smuggled into the teahouse. She does not know the weapon they speak of is Seth’s highly illegal sword. As they are in the teahouse, Seth sees a countryman from Ten Stripes, here in employ as a bodyguard; Seth speaks with him, and lets him know that he is Setharian Eiderhart, a legendary warrior of a legendary family. This jeopardizes the plan greatly, but luckily, the bodyguard knows to hold his tongue.

Blood Moon Rising prays until nightfall; Seth and Liberty prepare themselves for battle.

When dusk comes, they make their way to Riku’s teahouse. Cynis Morgrim is seated watching a musician, upset at the loss of his courtesan. Liberty gets into the puppeteer’s booth, for he has a plan: From Navishim, he has learned a secret ritual that summons a shadow-spirit, and he plans to cast this spirit upon Cynis Morgrim. The ritual is a success – as the shadow-puppetry plays out, one of the shadows comes to life and moves soundlessly towards the Dragon-Blood, seeking to end him. Unfortunately, Cynis Morgrim has his wits about him and spots the shadowy assassin: He flies from his chair, ready for battle.

Hearing this, Blood Moon Rising – who has been hiding without – leaps in through the wall and heedlessly kicks the Dragon-Blood before he has time to do much else. A brutal battle ensues; Seth storms in from another room leading five farmhands with spears: Himself, he wields his fathers’ sword, and has been strengthened by a rare potion provided by Liberty.

Now Blood Moon Rising and Cynis Morgrim trade blows, but neither can hurt the other. Seth, however, seeks to help him and pays dearly for his courage – with a single blow, the Dragon-Blood sends him flying through a wall. Seth, half-dead with grave injuries, drags himself up on the roof and crashes through it for a final blow at the Dragon-Blood: He manages to injure him gravely, but is once more punished for his bravery as the Dragon-Blood nearly kills him with another fierce blow. Blood Moon Rising, seeing that the champion has fallen, throws the legendary sword to a farmhand, who earlier excelled in training: His name is Kelengo. Kelengo takes the fallen hero’s sword, and storms at Cynis Morgrim. Just then, the shadow-puppet assassin manages to snare Cynis Morgrim with its puppet-strings, and he is held almost immobile: Blood Moon Rising kicks him so that he stumbles backwards, and Kelengo leaps in so that the Dragon-Blood falls on the Eiderhart sword, dying instantly.

Blood Moon Rising announces the death of the Dragon-Blood and the victory of the Resistance, as Rena drags the dying Seth outside. Only with the mutual aid of Liberty and Blood Moon Rising is his life saved: Blood Moon Rising draws out the deadly poison hidden in Cynis Morgrim’s anima by drinking of Seth’s blood, and Liberty bandages him so that he will not bleed to death.

The three now withdraw from the scene of the battle. Seth, unconscious, is tended to by Rena and Navishim. Liberty, who is by far the most skilled medic, has affairs of his own. Seeing that Seth will survive, he retreats to his home to pack up his things. He shaves off his beard, lets out his hair, and disguises himself, ready to travel elsewhere. Seth, however, wishes to say a farewell to the alchemist when he wakes up. Liberty is summoned to his side, and they speak: Liberty will go north, while Seth will go south, to find the bandits that killed his family.

Upon hearing from Navishim that these bandits live in an old ancestral-temple, Blood Moon Rising expresses a wish to join him – and Liberty, to everyones’ surprise, changes his plans: He, too, will go with Seth to the southern jungles.

So it is, that the three members of the Resistance decide to stick together for some time longer. In a months’ time, when Seth’s wounds have healed, they will travel south, to seek out the Red Hawk gang, and the strange House of Orchids, where they dwell.

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Riklurt Nallenon

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