Call to Arms

Way of the Jade Mantis, part 3

A Walk In Shadow

“Arise, Vangard! Caetar needs you.”

Flashing back to the previous night, we follow Anselmo as Toyo, a 16 year old girl and Jade Mantis acolyte wakes him. She explains she was sent by the Prioress of Silvalin and she will lead him back to her, but they must leave now while it’s still dark. Brother Dalca wonders how she got into his room when the window is small and barred and his door is still spiked shut, but he keeps his concerns to himself for now.

Anselmo tells her he is not alone and Toyo is surprised. She is only prepared to sneak one person out of town, not many. Anselmo agrees to go with her if he can leave a letter for his friends. She tells him to go downstairs and walk directly out hte front door, she will meet him outside. As soon as he leaves, Toyo replaces his letter with an origami mantis.

Anselmo finds her waiting for him at the front door, with no clear way she could have passed him to get there. She leads him through the dark, quiet town to an open postern gate where two fresh, fast horses are waiting. They ride hard until their horses are spent, then walk till dawn.

They rest during the day. (Meanwhile Anselmo’s friends wake to find him missing and have their meeting with Anastasia.) Come evening they set off on foot following seldom-used trails through the meadowed countryside. Toyo has eyes for Anselmo, who notices her charms as well. She is warm and friendly, to the point where her teacher scolds her for talking too much. Toyo is forbidden to tell Anselmo anything about the Silvalin, however, only promising that the Prioress will give him the answers he needs.

After a long night on the road they reach a large wealthy home set in miles of sheep pasture. They give Anselmo a comfortable feather bed and several hours of sleep.

While Anselmo walks with Toyo, Master Chen and the others sleep in a barn because no inn or tavern in Menios would serve Olivetti or Arukites. The next morning they leave early, following the Chosui River. Master Chen tells them the sad tale of the Silvalin.

Mid-day Anselmo awakes and has tea with the Prioress of Silvalin, Jikan. (She is also the leader of the Jade Mantis.) Jikan asks Anselmo to walk with her to the nearby town of Planos. On the way she will tell him anything he wants to know, then she will ask for his help. If by then he does not want to help Jikan, she promises to send him back to his friends in Hellas on a boat. He agrees.

On the way Jikan tells him her side of the Silvalin story. She stresses that Mumyo gladly died to protect her disciples, had the old Abbot blessed the Way of Shadow there would have been no war. But he declared it heresy, so now Jikan and her sisters must either fight for their lives or deny what she knows to be a true faith.

As evening falls they reach the outskirts of Planos. About 20 miles downriver Chen Tao leads Anselmo’s friends up the Chosui River toward Jikan’s house. The Jade Mantis attack under strict orders not to kill, just to discourage and delay the Abbot. Under a veil of darkness they appear and vanish, striking from shadows.

Kendal and Sova are hit with essence of ether and Kendal goes down in the darkness, unseen for the rest of the melee. Dorn is surrounded and hit with so much mantis poison even his dwarven constitution succumbs. Gessho, the Jade Mantis lieutenant, makes an assassin’s strike against Chen Tao, but he is merely wounded.

Sova gets and holds Gessho’s attention. Gessho is impressed Sova’s speed and skill. This frees the abbot to attack the other disciples and help Dorn. They all try to disengage but Chen Tao knocks out one of the girls with a flurry of punches. Gessho calls for a general retreat, they try to save their fallen sister but cannot. The Jade Mantis flee across the river. Chen Tao runs over the water to face them alone, but Gessho has reinforcements waiting. She tells him, “if you wish to see the Vanguard again Chen Tao, take good care of Doru.” Then they fade into the shadows.

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greymorn

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