Behind Door Number Two

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«Come Rain or Shrine

Foxfire»

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Greetings, Forename. I hope your training has fared better than our search for information...
I have some good news and some bad news, Forename. The bad news is, a thirty-seventh reading of my great-grandfather's tomes failed to reveal anything about the bonds that the previous thirty-six readings had not.

The good news─if you can call it that─is that we did discover where Grandmaster Kazan conducted his training when he was a youth.


How does this help us? Good question. I'm still not completely certain myself, but it is more than we had the last time you were here, and an onze of hope is better than none at all, so...what do you say, friend. Are you up for a journey across the Ruby Sea?


Hah hah! I knew you couldn't turn me down. Still, the road ahead won't be easy. Yanxia is large and the scars of war run deep along the Gensui Chain. It may be that which might have helped has already been claimed by flame. We'll have to place faith in our fortunes, and hope they guide us true.
I have decided we shall begin our search in Namai for the reason that, well...there is no reason, but you have to start somewhere, eh? I shall meet you there. Safe journeys, Forename.
Master Kazan would rarely speak of his youth, but I do recall several instances during my own training where he would treat with visitors from the mainland. I did not dare ask who they were, for we were allowed to speak only when spoken to, but now that I reflect back upon those visits, it might have been that the men were geomancers from Yanxia.
The air is heavy with mist, and these shacks probably let in more rain than they keep out. Something like a tome wouldn't survive a single moon here...let alone the decades since my great-grandfather's training. Still, a few words with the village elders provided an interesting bit of information.

Though it required some coaxing, several were able to recall memories of robed seers who resided in a nearby temple─a temple that was in use right up until the Garlean invasion and the subsequent banning of all religion.


The building─called the Swallow's Compass─while since abandoned, still remains in good repair. But listen to this. The locals avoid it for fear of disturbing the spirits with which they believed the geomancers communed. Do you know what this means? There could still be something left inside! Come!


The Swallow's Compass. Built during the rule of the first Doman king. I took the liberty to explore the grounds before you arrived and discovered this door. I know, I know. It pales in comparison to that impressive gate behind us, compelling any normal thief or bandit to dismiss it outright. But then why erect a geomantic field to protect it?
I sense the flow of powerful energies here. Whatever lies behind this door, the geomancers wanted to keep it safe.

In fact...there may even be traps. Which is why only I should attempt a crossing of the threshold.


I mean, who knows what terrible guardians have been summoned to protect the temple?
Are you ready?
Place an answer Here
Well, I guess now we know what terrible guardians were summoned to protect the temple! You'll also be happy to hear I was able to temporarily nullify the barrier, granting access into the chamber beyond. As there may be more traps, I ask that you wait out here to deal with them for me. Just kidding! I have already checked. There are no more traps. Probably.

Fortune is with us, Forename! The scrolls were intact, the barrier having protected them from both the elements and thieves. It took some searching, but I believe I was able to locate several that touch upon the laying of geomantic bonds.


At least I think I was able to... The script on these scrolls is old and faded, not to mention written in a hand far beyond my comprehension. Luckily, Master Murakumo is almost as ancient as the tomes, and should have little difficulty prising out their secrets.


A decanter or six of hot sake and he'll warm to the task. Ahah hah hah. I'll see you back at the Shiokaze Hostelry, Forename. I'll even save you a cup!
Welcome back. The scrolls you and Kyokuho retrieved from Yanxia were not difficult to decipher. No, what has been difficult is deciding how to use this newfound information.
...
Kyokuho. The Westerner has joined us. Might I suggest you do the same?
I...oh. My apologies, Forename. You may want to sit down for this... Or not. It doesn't matter... Nothing really matters, does it?

The scrolls─they contained knowledge of the complete ritual. In fact it was in the very first one. Hah... Just our luck, right?


Wind, water, earth. Creation of the bonds calls for the energies of all three. Though this much even a first-year novice of geomancy could tell you. No, what gave us pause was the mention of a fourth energy─an energy to render the seal permanent...
Kyokuho...
Life!
Don't you see, Forename? They spilled living blood to complete the ritual! They damned a soul to an eternity without peace so that their magicks would not fade!
I now understand why Grandmaster Kazan left no notes on the rites. He did not wish this knowledge to fall in the wrong hands.
And because he never performed the rites himself, the bonds anchoring the barrier around Kugane were never completed. And that is why they require constant attention. No blood was spilled to make them everlasting.
My great-grandfather would not sacrifice even a single life to achieve his ends, and neither will I!
That's enough, Kyokuho. There will be time to think on this with the morrow. Return to Kogane Dori and see if you can find some solace in sleep.
I do not fault my master for keeping this dark secret from me. The burden would have been far too much for me to bear. But then...why tell Kyokuho's grandfather?
I've failed... Just as did my great-grandfather, and my grandfather after him. We all knew the one means of creating a flawless barrier, and none of us could bring ourselves to do it.

And lo, the bonds we strengthened but several nights past...already have they begun to loosen and fray.


They were weak for overlong, allowing Kinko to regain her strength. To mend her wounds. To feed her anger.


And now there is naught we can do but watch as she gathers her minions for a final assault on the land she once ruled. Kugane does not stand a chance...
Now would be a good time for us to stumble across that hope Lady Leveva's reading promised would be at the end of this road to destruction.