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Empire of the Hyena #2: The Dumpling Warrior
Our heroes travel eastwards following the tracks left by the thieves who stole the ancestral blade of Kida Raku from the village shrine in Kashino.
Spotted black smoke in the distance they head towards it.
Eventually they reach a small town in the midst of a range of mountainous hills, a small stream flows through it into a nearby pond. It seems as though the town grew up around a large shrine and that several of the buildings are on fire.
In the centre of town–leading the inhabitants in their efforts to put out the fire-is a female Gnoll Samurai wearing blood red armour, carrying an ornate katana.
Our heroes rush into the town and aid with the efforts to quell the flame, as a thanks their wounds are dressed and they are treated to a simple meal of rice and fish by the monks responsible for maintaining the shrine to Hioshi, small god of the hearth and home.
During the meal Yth realises that the sword held by the female Samurai Blood Kai Tani is actually the one belonging to Kida Raku, she claims to have taken it to protect this town from Oni who menace it each evening–held back only by the dwindling power of the shrine–after a message sent to the Daimyo requesting reinforcements failed.
Yth and Sand-in-Eyes contemplate stealing the sword, they also slay a small goblin-like Oni that was disguised as a crow, seemingly attempting to fly into the sacred hearthfire in the temple, when slain it reverts to it’s normal form before vanishing in a cloud of black smoke.
The sound of panicked villagers draws them back outside and they see a the huge, ogre-like figure of a giant Oni, it seems unable to pass beyond the bridge to enter the town but mocks those within saying that they–and their god–will soon bow to him.
Unaware that the ancestral blade has been located, Kovac calls the Oni a thief, much to it’s bemused surprise, the surprise quickly turns to anger when it attempts to bring down a curse on Kovac but the Half-Orc shrugs it off.
Blood Kai Tani challenges the Oni to honourable comabt, but it renders her unconscious with a spell and crushed the life from her.
Sand-in-Eye grabs the ancestral blade as it falls from Tani’s hand and strikes the Oni, causing it to transform into a raven and flee.
Hearing from the rest of the town that the Oni normally strike as darkness falls the heroes prepare two counter measures.
A large pit is dug near the gate, covered with leaves and soil.
Yth also digs a shallow pit where a ceremonial feast can be held to empower the small god Hioshi and hopefully prevent the town from being overwhelmed, Kovac is placed in charge of leading the feast.
Whilst they prepare, the ancestral blade is handed to Yag’Gur and he leaves, returning to Kashino in order to complete his bargain with the Spectral Samurai Kida Raku.
Six of the youngest and fastest villagers are dispatched with messages for the Daimyo requesting reinforcements.
As darkness falls a number of armoured Oni approach the town and begin crossing the bridge, although the power of the shrine appears to be slowing them and making them weaker.
The Oni spot the pit trap near the gate and avoid it, engaging Yth and Sand-in-Eyes on the bridge.
Miraculously–despite the impending peril–Kovac is able to get the villagers to forget their worries and engage in activities such as dumpling eating contests and limbo to empower the shrine and small god of the hearth, it seems to work and slows down the Oni, giving his allies a chance.
Unfortunately–despite killing most of the Oni–Yth and Sand-in-Eyes are overwhelmed and beaten into unconsciousness, realising that he has only moments to save his friends, Kovac leaves the feast and runs to their aid.
With the favour of the spirits Kovac kills all but one Oni and–realising his strength is failing–pulls off an amazing bluff, convincing the Oni that he is much stronger than he feels, the remaining Oni flees, disappearing into black, oily smoke.
Kovac is able to revive Yth and Sand-in-Eyes and the grateful villagers carry them back to the temple to rest and heal.