Exalted - The Venemous Monk

Episode #11: The Showdown [8/31/14]

Our heroes wake after a mostly restful night (Lefty excluded), scrounge up some breakfast, and prepare to meet with Eternal Fang to discuss military strategy. During breakfast they bond a bit more with the sociable drinker and smoker, Gorbar.

Meanwhile, Amethyst and Kensai, the two Solar travelers that Mustang met some time ago when dealing with the Abyssal Exalted, are still on the trail of some elusive bandits. They stumble upon the same lumberjacks as our three heroes and also ignore their warning. They head into the wilderness and find the other’s original camp. Amy starts to piece the events that transpired together, and they are soon met by menacing-looking wolfmen. It turns out they smell Mustang’s scent on Amy and offer to take them to their camp.

As the time to meet with Eternal Fang arrives, they notice a commotion as Amy and Kensai are led into the tribal lands. Mustang introduces them to his companions, and Ken for some reason doesn’t recognize the man he fought beside only weeks earlier. They all meet with Eternal Fang and hover around a crudely drawn map of the enchanted forestland around the Arczeckhi’s manse. They hatch a plan to keep Eternal Fang’s army back while the group of Solars try a very direct approach and speak with Crushing Paw in person.

Eternal Fang leads our heroes and some of his wolfmen up the winding road toward his old manse. Eternal Fang and his men hang back a bit, and the group of Exalts make their way toward the manse. They are met by a group of bear men, and with some quick talking and thinking, they are led toward the manse.

When they arrive, they enter what looks like a large assembly hall filled with table-s for festivities. Across the room is a tall platform with a large, wooden throne. Sitting there is Crushing Paw, who seems a bit out of sorts. As they talk some sense into him, they are ambushed by two fair folk, one of which appears out of nowhere and attempts to cut the heroes down where they stand.

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Episode #10: Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? [7/27/14]

As our heroes settle in for the night at the records house in Larjyn, they are awoken to a commotion at the center of town. Everyone in the town has gathered to watch a procession of guards leading five battered women down the road. Each woman is chained to one another, and their bellies and backs are marked with different colored symbols depicting the five elements. They are being led toward a platform set up with five posts facing each direction and the center. Below the posts is some sort of bowl or receptacle.

After spending time arguing whether they should get involved and potentially hurt others, Lefty let’s his compassion get the better of him and rushes out to the crowd. He draws many of them away by flaring his anima banner of a long golden road. He then proceeds to rush away, dodging those that tried getting in his way. He eventually uses his powers to vault himself over the wall and to safety.

Meanwhile, Ruko and Mustang rush off to save the women from slaughter while the people are distracted. Ruko uses his lightning speed and ability to go undetected to sneak attack the guards on the platform. Mustang marches forward, orichalcum hammer drawn, and draws more attention his way. He rushes the platform, calls the horse and cart, which Lefty broke the horses off with a smashing fist on his way out of Larjyn. Smashing the posts holding two of the women, Mustang grabs the falling posts, jumps on the back of his horse, and rides with the added load back toward the records house. Ruko leaps off the platform onto their barreling cart, sending it flying toward the other shackled women. He tosses them inside and uses it like a rickshaw. The two manage to get back to the records house and save the five women from certain death.

Lefty is awoken the next day by the Goddess of Chaya and is granted a jade leaf compass that will guide them toward the source of the trees’ energy. After resting up, the three then sneak out of Larjyn with a bit of shennanigans.

They travel back to Moonsilver Manse in order to check up on Akara Thunder and get supplies. Ruko and Lefty repay Mustang’s kindness of a place to stay by doing some work around the ranch in the morning. After a meal they head off in the direction shown by the leaf compass, which takes them about a week to the edge of the forestline to the northeast.

They run into a group of lumberjacks and their leader Larek. They warn our Exalted heroes about strange beasts that have hampered their gathering of firewood. The heroes ignore the warnings and head to the north away from the lumberjacks and make their way into the wilderness. The wilderness is untamed, so the going is slow. They build a make-shift camp and spend each day making inroads into the forest.

On the third day, Mustang decides to try and commune with the local spirits. He is answered by a snarling voice of the Arczeckhi Tribal Lands God Mokuu. He senses their powers and decides to send an envoy of beastmen to accompany them.

That night the three are surrounded by wolfmen and a beautiful woman wearing tribal garb. She says they are to follow her and that the travel would last another week. They pack up and follow, and during their travels Letfy seems a bit disturbed. He eventually makes his way to the woman and tries to talk with her, but she acts as if he doesn’t exist. Lefty tells his companions that the woman is Erisa, a woman from his past, and he is flabbergasted when she then says that she is a queen to one of the tribal leaders.

They eventually arrive at a native encampment filled with tents and longhouses. They make a friend with one of the more friendly barbarians before being led to meet the leader of the wolf tribe, Eternal Fang. Erisa rests at his side, grinning every now and then at Lefty. After some discussion, he reveals himself as a Lunar Exalt, and the three reveal themselves as Solars. This seems to shock Erisa.

Eternal Fang explains that the once strong alliance of the Arczeckhi Tribal Lands has fallen apart. His close friend Crushing Paw, who is the leader of the bear tribe, has broken their alliance and has taken up sole residence of the tribal confederation’s manse. The landscape has also changed to become mountainous. The already large bearmen have become much larger and stronger than before.

They decide that the Fair Folk and perhaps Blossom have something to do with the sudden change, and they promise to work together to try and snap Crushing Paw back to his former senses.

That night while the rested in their tents, Lefty awakens to find Erisa giving him a bit of a “massage.” Lefty wakes up his companions with his shouts, but he talks them back to their own tents. Erisa tells Lefty that she is after a hearthstone as part of a contract, leading to her bedding Eternal Fang. Lefty is unhappy, but if he says anything he would be a the mercy of the angry Lunar.

What will happen when the heroes take on a legion of barbarians and beastmen?

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Session #9: Madness in Larjyn [7/20/14]

Following the battle with Hyde, they decided to investigate the happenings at Larjyn. They pack Righty and Mustang Thunder in the back of their cart and head off.

They arrive the next day to find the city completely closed. Ruko climbs a tree along the wall and walks along the edge of it toward the front gate. There he uses some flashy moves to dispatch the angry old man watching the gate and opens it for his companions.

They find the normally peaceful people of Larjyn to be affected in a very negative way. They see violence in the streets, boarded up houses, and a large bonfire with people serving up the town’s animals. The people give in to impulses of anger, lust, and gluttony. Lefty tries blending in with the savages and gain some information.

Meanwhile, Ruko and Mustang hear a familiar voice. They move toward the mansion of the Dumas family and find its matriarch, Scarlet Dumas in nothing more than a sheer nightgown. Lefty joins them, and they invited into the mansion to find a rather roaring upper class orgy.

A bit thrown off by the affair, they manage to find out that the strange actions have gone on for as long as Scarlet Dumas can remember. Everyone seems affected aside from Octavius. Once again, Lefty stays to “gather some information” while Ruko and Mustang head to the record library.

Ruko distracts the men patrolling the outside of the library, and Mustang talks Octavius into letting him in. Octavius has minor warding magics at his disposal, keeping himself and a few others safe during this time. The contagion spans the 12 cities of The Republic of Chaya and has been going on for at least the 50 years that he has lived there.

Mustang gets Ruko and Lefty, and they all go back to Octavius to do some research in the library. Among the books and talking with Octavius, they find that a fair folk by the name of Blossom arrived over 200 years ago. It planted seeds around the 12 cities. They discerned that the blossoms of the flowers might have something to do with changing the people in the town, affecting them like some sort of drug.

The three Exalted head to the city’s temple and speak with the nature God of Chaya. They almost decide to leave the town as it is rather than cause harm by simply burning the trees down. Those that have left the town for a long amount of time eventually go completely mad when deprived of the pollen of the blossoms. They ask the God to pinpoint a direction into the forests to the East. They now plan to track down this Blossom and see if they can reverse the effects of the contagion.

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Session #8: Coming to a Crossroads [7/13/14]

Our next chapter begins with Ruko setting the plans of Maribell’s suicide into action in Pine Acre. Part of the plan includes Alundra disguising herself and Maribell so they can ride off toward The Crossroads Hostel. That night, a horse comes riding into town, carrying the exhausted body of Akara Thunder. Ruko offers her assistance and takes her to Greasy Joan’s shop for the night.

The next day as the town begins to mourn the “loss” of Mayor Walter‘s daughter, a familiar man in a cowboy hat rides into Pine Acre looking for his wife. Disguised as an old man that looks oddly like Akara’s dead grandfather, Ruko leads Mustang Thunder to Greasy Joan and his wife. After a humorous revealing of his true identity, Ruko fills Mustang in on everything going on, including the recent events in Pine Acre with the demands of the Dragon Blooded from House Regara, Hyde. Mustang sends his wife back toward The Moonsilver Manse and decides to follow his friend Ruko.

Alundra and Maribell arrive at The Crossroads Hostel half a day before their Exalted companions. They meet up with the modest and boisterous proprietor of the manse, The Left-Handed Vagabond Who Travels With His Twin, better known as Lefty. He helps Maribell settle in, and Alundra tells him that she has other business she needs to attend to but will wait for Ruko’s arrival.

Ruko and Mustang eventually find their way to The Crossroads and meet up with Alundra, who is enjoying some whiskey from Nexus straight from the bottle. They are introduced to Lefty and take a bit of time to get to know one another. During their talk, Alundra informs Ruko that she has to leave on business, but she will return to check on Maribell and get the rest of her payment. Mustang provides the payment with money that he received by selling some horses to a caravan of gypsy travelers there at The Crossroads. They eventually are led to see Maribell. She is doing well, but she is less than happy to see Mustang and still holds ill will toward him for ruthlessly killing her lover Marin.

Mustang sneaks away from the awkward situation to “visit the trough” when he hears a commotion outside the gates of The Crossroads. Two men enter town dragging the body of a third. Upon closer evaluation, the body has been violently ripped to shreads. The body is taken inside the manse to a triage area where Ruko, Mustang, and Lefty take a closer examination. They find that the body was not the victim of an animal attack, and the killing wounds appear to have been made by a human. They are told that the man was found outside one of the cities of The Republic of Chaya.

Mayor Bruce Walters arrives the following day, and the heroes go speak with him and his daughter once again (with Mustang standing in the hall away from Maribell). They decide to use Lefty’s contacts to spread the word that Ruko has been sighted in the city of Larjyn, which is one of the twelve cities of The Republic of Chaya.

They then travel back to Pine Acre and question the archer that Ruko had once kept tied up above Greasy Joan’s shop. Mustang reveals that he his an anathema by showing his orichalcum hammer. The town guard freaks and rushes off, and they tell the fearful archer that they are headed to Larjyn, leaving the key to the cell within reach. The archer falls for the bait and sneaks out that night, taking off to warn Hyde about their soon-to-be-whereabouts.

They wait the next several days in Pine Acre for Hyde to eventually arrive. He does with only half of his archers, and they meet with Ruko, Mustang, and Lefty at the center of town at high noon. Hyde asks where the traitor is at, and when Ruko asks him what he means, he disregards his own comment and says this will be the end of the troublesome monk. He will have his revenge for the death of his brother Marin. The battle lasts little more than a few moments as Mustang breaks free the horses at the nearby stable, rides one forward and then lunges over the archers at Hyde. With his anima banner of a wild horse raging in golden glory, he proceeds to pound Hyde’s skull in. Ruko takes down one of the archers, and Lefty punches the ground, sending the rest of them tumbling off their feet.

The seven remaining archers throw their weapons down in surrender. They question the remaining archers to find out that their numbers were reduced when they made their way into the barricaded city of Larjyn to find its people ravenous and wild. They promise not to work with House Regara again and agree to try and spread the word around to other mercenaries.

Where will the heroes go now? Will there be retribution to pay for the second death of a member of House Regara? What is going on in the cities of The Republic of Chaya? Will the people of Jades seek their own revenge? What of Po Shiang? Find out next time.

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Session #7: A New Plan & the Archer of House Regara [7/12/14]

The three arrive at the cave entrance in the forest by the next morning. Exhausted, Maribell Walters falls asleep, and Ruko takes the opportunity to meditate. He eventually awakens and allows Alundra a chance to sleep. Maribell Walters awakens and clings to Ruko, telling him what she had seen.

According to her, the beast in the pit below the city of Jades was a serpentine beast with sharp fangs. She reveals that Po Shiang believes the fake medallion is the real one and that Ruko has been taken care of by Junichiro. When he got what he wanted, Po Shiang sold Maribell Walters to the Dragon Blooded leader of Jades, Iselsi Saraban Deris for a very large sum of money. She was meant to be some sort of sacrifice to the creature living below the city.

Ruko vows to return her to Pine Acre and suggests they evacuate the town for their own safety. He allows her to get some more sleep, and then Alundra awakens from her rest. They discuss matters, and during their talk he tells her about his history with Maribell Walters and how he and Mustang Thunder killed her lover, Marin.

Alundra seems suddenly wary and wants to leave immediately, staring out the cave entrance. They pack up their supplies, wake the girl, and leave at once. On the third day of their travels, both Alundra and Ruko hear a commotion overhead. Alundra takes Maribell Walters and rides off away from the forest, leaving Ruko to monkey leap into the trees and grab hold of an archer. He uses him as a shield and gets some information out of him, including the fact that they came from Jades and that they are working for someone. Before he can get their boss’s name, an arrow flies from a different tree, and Ruko jumps down onto his horse and takes off.

He eventually catches up with Alundra and hangs back, watching her interactions with Maribell Walters. He follows her into the wilderness, perhaps a bit unsure of her intentions and eventually returns to the camp. He gets a slap for being inconsiderate and not returning at once.

They eventually make it back to Pine Acre, where father and daughter are reunited once again. Ruko strongly suggests that they both leave the town for their own safety. They decide to head to the safety of the Crossroads Hostel. It is then that Ruko hatches an elaborate plan. After they sneak Maribell Walters out of Pine Acre, they are to fake her suicide. That way Mayor Bruce Walters can send a letter to Iselsi Saraban Deris telling him of his daughter’s death and to offer recompense for the loss of his sacrifice.

They are interrupted by a servant saying that 20 armed archers are here looking for the monk. He disguises himself as the old man once again and goes forth about the town. The archers tear things up a bit, and he uses his disguise to follow a guard around into Greasy Joan’s shop. Ruko knocks the man out, and they tie him up and store him in the shop for later.

Unable to find his quarry, the Dragon Blooded, Hyde from House Regara, leaves and vows to return in a week, demanding that Ruko be handed over at that time or else.

Disguises himself…greasy joan…knocked out and tied up archer.

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Session #6: An Old Man and a Hot Chick Walk Into Jades... [4/25/14]

Both Ruko and Alundra find safety in a small cave opening. They manage to slip the persistent archer and get some needed rest. Ruko awakens to find a note from Alundra saying that she is going to scout ahead, and he should wait here.

Having some time to kill, Ruko hunts for some food. As he goes along, he hears voices. He hides in a tree, and below him comes a girl on the back of a wolf and a tall man with a large sword. He overhears the two talk about chasing bandits, follows them for a bit, and then decides they are not a threat and returns to the cave.

On the second day, Alundra returns and tells him that there are wild beasts that have been stalking near the town of Jades. Ruko reveals his seeing the two travelers and the issue with bandits. They head off and by nightfall arrive at Jades. The town is surrounded by a tall wooden wall with a bronze gate with the symbol of The Realm.

In order to get past the posted guard, Ruko disguises himself as an old man. Leaning on his “granddaughter” Alundra’s arm, they talk their way into town. The town is a dingy, worn former mining village. On their way to The Dusty Cavern, the local inn, they notice carts with the symbol of the Cabal Ganju.

They get to their room and hatch a plan. Since Ruko cannot show his face for fear of being identified, Alundra will scout around the next day and see what information she can gather.

That night Ruko has a strange dream where he is standing beneath a vast sky of stars. A shooting star flies off to the east and explodes over a vast forest. He hears a whispered message from Wei Zhang saying, “Head toward the west. You will find that in which you seek.”

Ruko is then awoken not only by the dream but by a single piercing scream. He rushes to the window and sees two cloaked forms dragging a woman to the western part of town. Ruko climbs out his window and follows them into an abandoned mine that has been barricaded off.

The path is pitch black, but Ruko uses his keen hearing to follow along. They get to the bottom of the interminable tunnel system, and they pass through a second tunnel past some guards with the help of his kung-fu antics.

When he reaches the end of the last tunnel, he sees the two cloaked guards holding the woman, who turns out to be Maribell Walters, near a vast pit at the center of the room. An unearthly growling comes from the pit, and the Mayor’s daughter looks horrified as she stares down into it.

Ruko rushes toward the men and pulls Maribell Walters aside to safety. He mule kicks the two men and then sweeps one of their legs, and he tumbles into the pit. The ground begins to rumble, and the other soldier rushes off. Ruko helps Maribell Walters up and runs with her down the tunnel. Using his monkey leap technique, he leaps up to the rising platform being controlled by the fleeing cloaked soldier. Ruko kicks the man to his death, and as they reach the top and escape, they sneak past more men saying, “My God, has it been awakened?”

Ruko manages to get himself and Maribell Walters back to the tavern, and he steals some clothes for her to disguise herself with. They start to sneak away, and as they attempt to get away, a line of soldiers accompany a regal-looking man in effeminate purple and gold robes toward the center of the town. The man, who Alundra recognizes as the Dragon Blooded ruler of Jades, Deris, tries to calm his people and urges them to go back to heir homes.

There is a shout from the caves, and during the uproar, Ruko and his two female companions manage to sneak off. As Ruko escapes, he sees the caravan of the Cabal Ganju heading off toward the south. Wanting to keep Maribell Walters safe, he leads them back to the cave in the forest to rest.

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Session #5b: The Nameless Lair of Ma-Ha-Suchi
Involving Mustang Thunder and 2 Strange Travelers

Two strange travelers, an Unknown Swordsman and a Girl and wolf are out traveling the wilderness when they run into an angry, fretful Mustang Thunder. The young man and woman are currently on the trail of bandits, and Mustang Thunder reveals that he was led away from the Moonsilver Manse by a group of wandering travelers seeking refuge. When he came back found his wife Akara Thunder had been taken from her garden by soldiers. Mustang dispatched of the refugees and has been trailing her this direction ever since. The two travelers decide to follow him and give him aid.

They find that the bandits that they are searching and those that took Akara Thunder were described as clad in mostly black with distinctive red masks with a skeletal design stitched into the material.

[Finish notes here.]

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Session #5: Preparing for the Dangerous Road Ahead [1/28/14]

After having killed Junichiro, Ruko tells Mayor Bruce Walters to send a carrier with a letter to Po Shiang that says that Ruko has been taken care of. The letter, as Po Shiang demanded, needed proof of the exalted monk’s death. Ruko comes up with an idea. He would send a replica of his medallion that proves that he’s the real leader of Cabal Ganju. He haggles with Mayor Bruce Walters and manages to get him to talk to a master woodworker, Olus, who makes a fine replica of the original.

Ruko takes some time to better get to know Alundra at The Woodworker’s Alehouse. He lies to her about being an Anathema. She tells him she’s from the southern town of Yane and that she was once worked as a labor slave.

The plan is to head toward Jades, which is where Mayor Bruce Walters says Po Shiang was headed. Alundra offers to come along so long as he can front food and some money for her services. She has been to Jades before and will be willing to help him. They barter and agree on 130 jade scrip, food, and access to a “secret place” that only Ruko himself knows about.

Before they go, Ruko goes about the town gathering supplies. This leads him to Greasy Joan, a disgusting old woman that sells all manner of supplies and food. After a bit of work and a promise to talk to Mayor Bruce Walters about lowering the taxes on her business, Ruko gets a good deal out of the old woman.

Ruko returns to Mayor Bruce Walters. They take the fake medallion and smear it with the monk’s blood. He also mentions the issue with Greasy Joan’s taxes and gets her the tax break she wants.

Ruko and Alundra start their journey toward Jades. As they travel, Alundra tells more of her life as a slave—sold into plantation labor. They travel swiftly, only camping for short times. They make it to Lake Carda in a few days. They stop at a small rice house known as the Winnett Rice Shop, where Alundra luxuriates in the fresh dango.

Their travel takes them through the forest. On the seventh day of their travel, Alundra is pulled into a tree suddenly. Arrows come flying from the canopy like so many times before. Whoever is attacking is once again following them on their journey. Ruko scrambles into the tree and manages to cut her down. He uses his lightning speed to run down the side of the tree and catch her before she can smash into the ground.

The two manage to escape the forest and get into a clearing. They find a small cave opening and hide for the night.

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Session 4: A Deadly Duel

After reading the note attached to the arrow, Ruko crumples up the note and tosses it behind him. The red-haired woman, who finally introduces herself as Alundra, asks about the contents of the letter, but Ruko tells her not to worry.

Alundra reveals the extent of her injury from the battle with the cat beast known as the Night Stalker. Out of both sincere care for and perhaps a bit of lust toward her, Ruko throws her over his shoulder and carries her back to the Summers family farm.

When they arrive, Erik Summers welcomes them inside, and they patch up Alundra. There are a few humorous exchanges between Ruko and Timmy Summers, who has now taken to wearing paper prayer beads and his father’s white robe to try and be more like Ruko.

In the morning Ruko leaves with a mended but still hurt Alundra. Before he goes, he offers Timmy an actually set of prayer beads, and the family show their support by offering him what little they could, a loaf of fresh bread. Ruko and Alundra first return Mr. Jones’s pet goat Bessie. When Ruko hears that the farmer plans to slaughter the old goat, he bluffs him into thinking the goat actually defeated the Night Stalker. Farmer Jones promises not to kill the old goat and even gives her a cushy bed in the stables.

When they check on the remains of the Night Stalker, they find the body gone but the head still intact. Ruko takes one of its teeth as proof of defeating it.

The two spend the rest of the quiet morning and day traveling back to Pine Acre. The town seems at peace, and the two travelers return to Mayor Bruce Walters’s mansion to report on their findings. When they arrive, they are led up to Mayor Walters’s office, but the person that greets them is not the mayor. In fact, Ruko immediately recognizes him as Junichiro, a member of The Cabal Ganju.

Ruko calls Junichiro a poisoned follower of the dishonorable Po Shiang, but Junichiro seems to believe that it is Ruko that brought dishonor upon his former clan. When Ruko tries to talk sense into him, Junichiro states that he has heard of his killing of the Dragon-Blooded Marin and hints that it was Scarlet Dumas that had told him about the encounter. Junichiro soon makes his intentions clear: he is here to kill Ruko before he can cause any more trouble.

An epic battle ensues between the Exalted and the human Immaculate monk. Already injured from his battle with the Night Stalker, it almost appears as if Ruko might lose. During the last desperate blows, Ruko leaps upon Walters‘s desk, kicks a wooden block filled with letter openers, and slices Junichiro’s eye, ear, and wrist. He soon fell to the floor in a forming pile of his own blood.

After the battle ends, Mayor Walters appears from a side door and thanks Ruko for once again saving him. He says that Junichiro arrived with other monks looking for Ruko, and they took the Mayor’s daughter Maribell with them to the town of Jades in the southwest. This prompts Ruko to fess up about his identity, claiming that he is in fact not Wu Jong from Jades. Alundra seems a bit taken aback by this, but Ruko promises to tell her more of his story over tea at The Woodworker’s Alehouse.

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Episode 3: Hunting Season [10/4/13]

Ruko stands outside of the Moonsilver Manse with Maribell Walters. They travel on foot back toward Pine Acre. The entire way Maribell is not very responsive or gracious toward Ruko’s “help.”

On the third day of travel, Ruko and Maribell find themselves amidst the forests that lead to and surround Pine Acre. During their travels, Ruko hears some noise overhead in the canopy of vegetation. He attempts to sneak away, and as he does a single arrow comes whirring through the air and narrowly misses impaling his skull. Tossing the girl over his shoulder, Ruko rushes through the forest, evading a flurry of arrows with some smooth moves. He turns and catches the last of the arrows, snapping it and tossing it behind him. This action brings an end to the onslaught, but Ruko remains on his guard.

As they approach Pine Acre, Maribell starts to soften a little bit but still refuses to talk. Pine Acre is in the same shape as when they left. Ruko takes Maribell to Mayor Bruce Walters’s mansion. Maribell is unhappy to see her father and runs past him as he offers her an embrace. Ruko explains the situation with Marin at Larjyn and why Maribell is acting this way.

Mayor Walters thanks Ruko and mentions another problem. Local farms have had their livestock slaughtered by some unknown beast. Ruko says that he will be glad to investigate, which leads him to the Summers farm to the southeast of Pine Acre proper.

Ruko arrives at the Summers family farm and is greeted by Erik Summers’s two children, Pearl and Timmy. After a short and awkward altercation between Ruko and the young boy, who went off to cut his hair to be more like Ruko and closer to spiritual enlightenment, he talks with Mr. Summers. They investigate the dead livestock. While investigating, Ruko discovers a strange, large paw print and white animal hairs. Ruko decides to head to another neighboring farm that also suffered from attacks.

On his way through the forest between the farms, Ruko hears a voice behind him. He turns and finds the red-haired woman from Lake Carda standing behind him. She is exasperated at finding that it is Ruko wandering the forests. They find another print in the ground similar to the one before. Ruko continues on his way while the red-haired woman heads off to explore the wilderness.

Ruko finds a similar scene at the Jones family farm. They decide to set up a trap for the creature; they take the Jones family’s eldest goat Bessie to draw in as bait.

On his way back to the Summers farm with Bessie, Ruko hears a scream off in the forest. He ties Bessie up and goes to investigate. He comes across a clearing with the red-haired woman backing up from a massive white cat with black stripes. A fight ensues between them, and after getting injured, both Ruko and his companion defeat the beast, ending with a final blow from the woman’s red sword that knocks the beast’s head clean off.

As they catch their breath, another arrow like the ones being fired before, lands in the ground between the two of them. A scroll is wrapped around it that simply reads, “You will suffer, traitor.”

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