Once the heroes secured the bunker and rescued the little korobokuru girl's brother, Lok, they settled down to rest. While helping Lok with his taint, they stumbled on some information inside the bunker they just liberated from the evil tainted samurai. The information was in the form of correspondance between the bunker and a nearby village.
The party ascertained that the Negerai himself, the creature behind this whole taint epidemic, and the possessor of Arie's stone, was in a village not too far to the south. They decided to head there immediately but first there was the matter of the kids.
Tupaia Dagroth used her druidic abilities to walk on the winds, and with her she took the kids, Gor, and Vanoviel to a village far to the north. This village was inhabited by other korobokuru, and Gor knew it well. He said the children would be safe there and they would be taken in by the locals and raised kindly.
Having completed that errand, Vanoviel suggested that Tupaia use the remaining time on her prayer to scout out the village they heard about. It was located about 20 miles to the south of the bunker and they made it there with ease.
The scene they saw was horrible. Some of the village buildings were still standing, but many were either knocked over, crushed, or burnt to cinders. The inhabitants of the village, though they were all tainted, looked hurt in one way or another. Some nursed scrapes,and others broken bones. There were also many dead visible among their number. Even many of the tainted samurai who lurked in the village did not seem well.
They also noticed a curious feature. A patch of woods extending southward from the village was knocked over and a bit crushed, as if something very big hand crash landed there. However as they scouted that feature, they found no evidence of what made it. They then returned to the bunker to collect the rest of their friends who were waiting for them.
Together the heroes set out on foot towards the village. Once they were within 5 miles of it they rested in their collapsable tower owned by Raven. In the morning they set out again.
About one mile from the village they were accosted by a patrol of dark samurai. When the samurai inquired the purpose of these strangers, the heroes answered that they wished to speak with the Negerai. This was not the right answer, and the samurai attacked. Unfortunately they never reached the heroes. Tupaia and Vanoviel toasted them with flamestrikes, and Raven picked off the leftovers with her gem bow.
After this they entered the village proper, and they were greated by stares and dirty looks from the inhabitants. None of them, however, seemed interested in fighting. They were more concerned with nursing their wounds recieved from whatever incident just occurred there earlier.
Vanoviel accosted one villager and asked them to see the person in charge. The villager agreed to take them to the lead samurai, Daimyo Yatoshi Oroki. As they marched togethor towards Oroki's dwelling, many samurai started falling in line with them until they were surrounded. Eventually Oroki stepped out of his dwelling and asked the heroes who they were and if they had come to pledge allegience to the Negerai.
"Yes", Vanoviel lied. They said that they were very interested in joining the dark cause. The samurai was suspicious, for his scouts had reported to him about the decimation of one of his patrols. He however saw the power of the group and did not want to tangle with them after having lost so many of his men and receiving so much damage to his village.
He told them that the Negerai was busy at the moment, so they could not speak with him. He was elsewhere. Through more conversation the heroes found out that a fight just taken place in the village between the Negerai and one of the Tien Lung (celestial dragons). The dragon lost and was carried off by the Negerai to his cave to complete the tainting. Apparently the Negerai wanted to completely taint the tien lung instead of killing it.
Appalled, but hiding their disgust, the heroes asked where this compound was and they received directions to a site not far to the south.
As they set out, they soon came into view of a cave. Outside the cave sat a tainted samurai sharpening his sword, and a few gekido no oni. Deciding not to parley, Vanoviel and Tupaia once more unleashed their terrible flamestrike prayers on the unaware enemies. This turned out to be unwise. Upon being attacked, the samurai rushed forward to meet his assailants, and as he did so he called forth about 17 more samurai from the cave behind him and a few who were tailing the adventurers from the village. The heroes were surrounded by the samurai and the gekido no oni.
Not knowing what to do, Arie suggested that they put up the tower and run inside it so they can think for a moment. Raven gave the command word to open the tower on top of two unsuspecting samurai who were hurt badly in the process. They all then rushed inside.
This did not prove to be a good strategy either. The samurai began to use their infernal ki powers to chip away at the tower walls. Something had to be done because they would be knocking down the tower in a matter of seconds. Raven wanted to take the tower down, but Tupaia began casting a long spell. Vanoviel stood guard over Tupaia inside the tower and made sure Raven didn't bring it down prematurely. The rest of the heroes did what they could to hold off the enemies through the arrow slits of the tower, to llittle effect.
Finally Tupaia's spell finished. A terrible rain of fire descended on the samurai and the fiendlike gekido no oni. The fire purged everything in its path, and many of the samurai went down, though many did not. This bought the heroes time to leave the tower and face their foes head on.
It was a tough battle. Kung had just started to notice that his taint that he received earlier had caused him to grow obsidian claws which he could retract at will. However, doing so would increase his taint. In a moment like this, however, he was left with no choice and he used his claws in conjunction with his martial arts learned at the monastary. He succeeded in taking down a gekido no oni, and the rest followed on the edge of Van and Arie's blade and one last fire storm from Tupaia.
None were left standing. It was at this time that they noticed a man standing at the cave entrance. He was watching calmly throughout the battle. When it was over he clapped his hands.
He introduced himself as Ashamius, the Dark Oracle. He was the direct servant of the Negerai, and he was impressed with the heroes' prowess. However he was a little angered at the loss of good men. He told the heroes that they should leave immediately and he would spare their lives.
The heroes talked a little with him first. They found out that the Negerai wanted to taint the tien lung so he would have an ally on the Celestial Council. This would enable him to move forward with his plans for creating dark versions of the four clans. These clans would be ruled by him, and they would spread the taint everywhere, including the main continent of Avlis far to the northeast.
The heroes decided that he was too dangerous and should not be allowed to live to carry out these plans with the Negerai. They attacked with menace, but to little avail.
Ashamius reacted more quickly than any of them had anticipated. His skin became solid and augmented his armor, yet he was still too fast to be hit. Even when he did get hit, his wounds would close up almost immediately. On his first counterstrike, he drew his sword in a trained samurai fashion and gutted Arie right up the middle with it. She staggered back but recovered well and continued the fight.
None of the heroes were able to kill this man or even harm him with their weapons. At that point Vanoviel decided to grab him. Kung had a similar idea. A big wrestling match ensued. Ashamius would pin Van, only for her to escape and pin him back, and so on. Eventually Tupaia added two giant constricter snakes into the mix, and Are kept wailing away with her sword in the hopes of scoring a lucky shot. Raven would chime in with arrows when a shot presented itself, but all of this was having little effect.
However, eventually Ashamius began to tire and he was soon pinned by Van. This enabled the others to score some seriously deadly hits on him. Even though he fought hard against these hits, he eventually succumed after a very long fight. The heroes were battered, but ok.
As they searched the battlefield, a reptilian head popped out of the cave. It had wispy hair and a goatee of gold. It regarded the heroes with its swollen bloodshot eyes that dripped with blood. Then it flew off out of the cave, with its serpentine body and tiny wings. It seemed to have other business.
Soon after, a horrific creature emerged from the cave. It was about 12 ft tall with long spirally horns. The whole body was covered in dark green scales, and its eyes were glowing red. It had black claws that looked extremely deadly and it walked on two or four legs as it suited. It was the Negerai himself.
He too regarded the heroes. "So you are the ones that have been causing me so much trouble lately. I will remember you, and this incident. We will meet again. You just wait."
With those words his touched a pendant on his chest and disappeared. The pendant seemed to contain a stone remarkably similar in description to Arie's lost bauble.
The heroes bided their time and decided what they would do next to find the Negerai and defeat him.
"Truth has no form."
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