Journal of Miyara Kyosuke (77)

    We must find Zokuri the Younger, living as a hermit in Vault's Mountains, on top of Hawk's Claw peak.  I am afraid that Cosutan Loso expects us to rescue him, and I would not like to leave him behind if that is the case.  He has after all told us how to do so.
    Yokin has taken CL outside for some reason, and Miyara indicates that this would be a good time to do so.  We leave the building.
    Yokin goes the back of the building with CL.  Hosei and Goru go to the back to rescue CL, while the rest of us go back to the shack to gather people and gear so that we will be immediately ready to leave.
    Soon Hosei and Goru return and say that they could not do what they were supposed to do.  Hosei thinks that the prisoner does not expect us to rescue him.  I point out he is a scholar.  Hosei recommends doing it sneakily late at night if we must do it, but we might not succeed and the stones must take priority.
    It is snowing heavily, and we do not know where Hawk's Claw Peak might be, other than it is in these mountain ranges.
    While we are discussing where to go, Sun says we should ask around.  He volunteers to find out.
    I am concerned that the Imperials will find out where we are headed from the villagers, if not voluntarily.
    He returns in half an hour, very cold.  He has found out the direction we need to go, which is West.  Unfortunately his directions involve seeing where we are going.  The other news is that he asked Pipo if he could lead us, and he can.  He is the blind man who will lead us, from Goru's vision.
    We will have to backtrack out of town and take a fork to where he will meet us.  Sun suggests we should not follow the road, since it goes past Q's, but should circle around.

    As we step out of the shack, it stops snowing.  It is an immediate, sudden stop, and the sun comes out.  The villagers come out and rejoice and sing and dance.  We join in as if we are celebrating, and work our way out of town.
    Then there starts a rumbling and the ground starts shaking.  The rumbling becomes louder and centered in the middle of town, and suddenly a large snake-like chaos beast emerges, throwing it's head above the hovels.  The singing turns to screaming, as a pouring mass of beasmen comes around the hovels, mostly underground types, and start hacking the villagers.
    The big snake-thing grabs someone, shakes them, and throws them at our feet.  It is Pipo, almost dead.  Rabena clearly dumps everything into healing him, springing forward, hoping to rescue him.  Pito does something with Rabena too, and then she does more healing.  Pipo has stopped bleeding, but he is unconscious.
    I believe we should leave these peasants behind and go on our journey.  The Imperials are attacking the beastmen, so Miyara says that we should leave and continue with our more important mission.  I grab Pipo, Goru grabs Pito, and Ashu grabs Rabena.  That leaves Miyara free to lead, and fight if required.
    Sun is leading us, but he is making a larger loop than is needed.  I tell him, and he tightens up his path.
    The sounds of dying people fades and we continue on as fast as we can.

    Once we have been gone from town for a while, it becomes clear that Pipo does not have the bottom half of his body, but he is healed.  Everything below the waist is gone.  Rabena says that we should get him to someone who can regenerate him, or at least put him into some sort of coma until we can get him there.  She does that to him, a technique I did not know he had.  He will be unconscious for several days.  By now Pipo is the only one who needs assistance, and Goru takes over carrying him.  Ashu and I forage while we travel.

    We set guards overnight, but it was not necessary.

    We continue the next day, heading for Hawk's Claw Peak.  Rabena keeps up with her maps, while hoping that once we get there someone can help Pipo.
    Around mid-morning, Ashu catches the faint odor of beastmen on the wind, slightly ahead of us.  Miyara puts us into a battle order while we continue travelling.
    We are on switchbacks on a thin trail heading upwards.  The beastmen are uphill of us, to the northwest.
    At some point, Ashu and I should forage, but we cannot do so while the beastmen are so near.

    About mid-day, we have reached the peak.  There is a clear and foul smell of beastmen.  Nevertheless, we continue.  We must press on.
    It is still a beautiful day.  We reach the switchbacks on the way downhill.
    About ten minutes later, the stench is clearly much closer.  We stop and become really quiet while we listen.  Baraku takes over carrying Pipo so that Goru is ready to fight too, and we move on in readiness for battle.  The trail is just one person wide, but widens a little at the switches.
    The rest of the afternoon remains uneventful.

    Again we set guards overnight.  We have not been foraging, so we have been eating the mackeral.  It is not the best of diets, and our health is no doubt suffering.

    I am on watch (good planning by Miyara) when I notice a movement a way off, large enough to be not a small animal.  I wake Miyara right away.  I get a fleeting glimpse of a hulking hairy creature running away.
    Goru wakes up with a sense of unease and says he believes we are being watched.  Still, nothing happens overnight.

    The next morning, Miyara decides we should not forage but push on through.  A few minutes later we hear the sounds of drumming and chanting.  The sound echoes off the mountains so we can't tell where it's coming from.
    Hosei tells us that this is the kind of drumming and chanting that demonologists make when they're summoning a demon.  He goes on to say that this particular one is to soothe and placate the demon to show it that they are minions and servants of the same dark god.  This particular one is sacred to Tzeentch.
    We hurry to a curved section so we have a little more space and might be able to see better.  We are at the bottom of the hill.
    I climb a tree for a better view, but I see nothing of interest.  Miyara points out that we can't do anything about what we can't see, so we carry on.
    The drumming continues for about an hour, then suddenly stops.
    Half way up this mountain, about midday, we smell ahead of us the odor of the beastmen again.  This is not wafting on the breeze, but more definitely there.
    Miyara moves ahead quickly to scout out, but before the switchback is a blind curve which she approaches carefully.  The smell is very powerful here, and it would be a great ambush location.  She returns to us.

    I suggest that those who can, should move through the woods to outflank them.  I of course volunteer myself to do so.  It's not easy to work my way around, but eventually I find myself looking at the back side of the blind corner and there is no-one there.  There is, however, the intense and clear smell of beastman faeces.  I climb up into the trees to look, but I still see no beastmen.  I continue to look around, but see nothing.  I don't move into in the spot, but move towards it.
    When I get close, I see that laid out in a neat line across the patch, are six piles of fresh laid excrement.  Five appear mammalian, while the other is much smaller and looks like bird droppings.  I see nothing up above.

    I return to the group and tell Miyara.  I wait to see if Hosei has an idea.  Miyara believes it is a spell or trap.  Hosei does not think it is a spell, but doesn't know what it might be either.  Hosei says it's almost like it was a gift.  Miyara laughs that maybe we are gathering a following of beastmen.
    Goru wonders if they think we are demons and they're trying to appease us.  That's an interesting idea, because we are bringing chaos of Tzeentch.
    I say that maybe the White Fairy is right, that we are who they were trying to appease.

    We procede carefully, stepping around it, but some of us examine it.  There is no magic, says Hosei.  Once the rest of the group move out of the way, I poke it with a stick.  Finding nothing, I rejoin the group.  I believe that all the mammals have the same diet and the same state of health.  I scrawl out "thank you" in it and rejoin the group.

    We continue.