The Tengese Resistance

Part I: Play it, Sam
In which a mercenary is arrested, and an alchemist falls in love.

Our tale begins in the village of Tirang, south of the Tengese city known as Adorned with Wisdom as a Sapphire. In this village is gathered a small resistance force of martial artists, intending to overthrow the local Dragon-Blooded “ruler”, Cynis Morgrim, who does little but drink and sleep around.

Due to the anarchy that would follow in the wake of his death, the cell leader – Navishim – has called for a mercenary from the famous Eiderhart family, one that might rally the locals around his sword and overthrow those loyal to the Exalt once he is dead.

So it was that Setharian Eiderhart came to enter Tirang, with his father’s sword upon his back. He entered the village during the monsoon period, and was stopped by three guards. Not knowing that bearing a sword was outlawed in An-Teng, he refused to let the guardsmen have it, and as a result, he was ridden down by a horse and thrown in jail.

Now, word of this came to the Resistance leader, and she called to her two members of the movement: Blood Moon Rising and Liberty the alchemist. These were tasked with rescuing Setharian from prison before the Dragon-Blood heard of his crime – for the Exalt was still blissfully asleep after a night of revelry, but as soon as he awoke he would surely order the criminal be tortured to death.

Liberty the alchemist concocted eight-scream devil powder with which he might cause a distraction, and made it seem as though some part of town was on fire. Blood Moon Rising, meanwhile, moved by stealth into the bailiff’s prison, where he found Seth was already escaping, beating down the door with a smith’s hammer. Each man was forced to slay a guard in their attempts to escape, but Seth managed to reclaim his father’s sword before they ran to safety – being hidden by a young girl named Rena, who had followed Setharian from his home village. She was the one who had gotten the hammer in through the bars in his window.

Meanwhile, Liberty arranged so that it would seem the fire came from the old amphitheater, built by Anathema in some distant past. This so frightened the guards and the entire village, that a curfew was ordered.

Now the men and women gathered in Navishim’s home: Blood Moon Rising, Liberty, Setharian, Rena, and two local men recruited for the cause: Ashander the farm-hand, and the nobleman Inshabiv Kensaro, whom Blood Moon Rising had overheard expressing dislike of Cynis Morgrim. There, they discussed what must be done: Setharian must be hidden from the authorities, Kensaro must be trained in the use of a blade so that he might contribute in the fight, and the habits of the Dragon-Blood must be investigated, so that the resistance would know when to strike.

The following day, it was arranged so, that Setharian would teach Rena and Kensaro to fight in the forest, in a spot where Kensaro would herd his elephants. Meanwhile, Liberty and Blood Moon Rising would investigate Riku’s teahouse, where Cynis Morgrim would often go to drink and carouse.

So it was that Seth hid in the saddlebags of an elephant, and took to the jungle with Kensaro and Rena, where he supervised their skill with their weapons: A long dagger and a spread-the-water knife, traditionally used by Tengese men. They practiced there all day, until strange echoes of a gong came from within the jungle – Kensaro then warned them, that they must make haste to leave, for this gong is the sound of the kaleyi, strange monsters native to An-Teng. Kensaro insisted, that the two foreigners must gain the protection of the Golden Lord, the Tengese God, before they could train any more in the forest.

Meanwhile, Liberty learned from Riku’s waiter Karl, that Riku was a very reserved woman, who would never drink with customers. She would stick her neck out for nobody, and would probably not be willing to aid any cause. This troubled Liberty, for having her help would be greatly valuable. Fortunately, he had prepared a plan.

So it had been arranged, that Liberty would offer to sell a new blend of tea to Riku. She accepted, and as it were Blood Moon Rising smuggled an alchemical mixture, which Liberty had prepared, into the tea-kettle. Liberty mistakenly thought the drug had been added to Riku’s cup only, and so they both drank the tea from the kettle, and were both affected by sudden passion and interest in each other.

They retired to Riku’s office and personal room, there to hold conversation. Blood Moon Rising, who had been told two doses of the drug would be necessary, waited without her window until an hour had passed, and then scattered drops of the drug into their tea again. Both were once more afflicted by the drug, and they fell in love.

Blood Moon Rising returned to Navishim, to inform her that the alchemist would be occupied for the night, and also that while at Riku’s teahouse, he had spied a courtesan whom the Dragon-Blood favored – he feared she might be a martial artist, for there was a grace to her movement.

Setharian and Blood Moon Rising now went to see a Guildsman named Joras. Joras told them that he could sell some “spice” and “cutlery” to aid their cause if the price was right. They struck a deal, and smuggled into Navishim’s house strange herbs and fine spear-tips and short blades, which could be used to assemble an army. Joras was well paid for this service.

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Part II: Jungle Fever
In which illness is defeated by aid of a ghostly apparition.

Liberty has stayed the night at Riku’s teahouse, talking to her through the night. When morning comes he is fast asleep and doesn’t make it to the meeting, so it is decided business will begin without him. Blood Moon Rising will keep an eye on the bodyguard of the Dragon-Blood, Yavin Selo, while Seth and Rena are taken for a baptism into the faith of the Golden Lord.

Blood Moon Rising uses the heavy rain as a cover while he sneaks around. Yavin, it turns out, has a lover in the Inshabiv family; Blood Moon Rising learns of her by listening at a barn door, but doesn’t learn her identity, only that the affair is kept secret both from her family and his master. Seth and Rena are baptized and confess their sins and crimes before the Golden Lord.

When they return to the chapterhouse, Liberty has returned. It is resolved that all three heroes, plus Rena, will accompany Kensaro and some farmhands into the jungle for combat training. The training is led by Seth, who demonstrates his techniques on Blood Moon Rising – this is greatly inspirational for the soldiers. Liberty gets the aid of everyone present to kill some spider monkeys, whose intestines could provide alchemical ingredients for some of their weapons.

As they return from training, Liberty takes Seth back to his house, where he administers potions to remedy the wounds he suffered as he was thrown in prison; Seth overdoses, but manages not to get poisoned. Liberty keeps him under supervision, just to be safe, while he makes some alchemical weapons for the peasants.

They go to sleep. In the morning, however, they discover that Rena, who is not used to the jungle climate, has contacted jungle fever from the insects there. She is deathly ill, and Liberty must use herbs and teas which he does not possess to cure her. He sends Seth with a letter for Riku detailing what he needs; on the letter, the words “Blood Moon Rising” appear in blood. Seth collects the teas and, after some confusion, makes his way to the home of the martial artist, finding that he, too, has succumbed to jungle fever. He takes him to the chapterhouse for treatment.

Three days of rain follow, during which Rena and Blood Moon Rising fight the sickness. Seth trains the soldiers while Liberty oversees his patients.

On the third night, abruptly, a strange specter appears: A tall, imposing ghost with a long beard and haunting eyes, who scolds Seth for not having been more carefully with Blood Moon Rising. The strange apparition is terrifying, but as Blood Moon Rising wakes up he is not afraid: He calls the specter “Father”. The ghost – who calls himself Wisdom of the Void – explains to Liberty that Blood Moon Rising is not fully alive, and to cure him, the alchemist must give him a special blend of healing herbs and ghost-flower tea.

Liberty does so, but before he can finish a knock comes on the door: Kensaro is there. He has found a traitor in his family, a girl named Milai. She has been sneaking about at night, going down to the manse. Seth interrogates her, but unsuccessfully; Liberty plans to give her a drug to make her more receptive to persuasion, but before he does so Blood Moon Rising is woken up. The ghost-blood explains that she is Yavin Selo’s lover. Seth and Liberty use this fact to their advantage, and persuade her to keep Yavin Selo away from the Dragon-Blood as they strike against him. Liberty gives her the drug that eases persuasion, telling her to feed it to Yavin Selo; she does not trust him, but is convinced after Seth eats some of it to show that it is not poisonous.

Seth then spends most of the night dealing with the effect of the drug, talking to Liberty and trying to get it out of his system by exercise. Come morning, both he and Liberty are weary from having slept poorly, but Blood Moon Rising has begun to recover and is only slightly ill and feverish.

They could all do with more rest, but unfortunately the rain has stopped. Navishim, their leader, explains that this will likely mean the Dragon-Blood will emerge from his manse to once more harass the locals, and worse, she has heard that he intends to collect overdue taxes. Some families will be stripped of everything they own, or even have their sons and daughters confiscated for slaves: Cynis Morgrim must be stopped before this can happen.

It is resolved that, despite Seth’s wounds and the jungle fever of Blood Moon Rising, the coup must happen tonight. So it is, that a final plan begins to take shape…

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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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