Hubris of the Solars
Chronicle 1 Chapter 2
Chapter Two: The Exodus
Traveling through a dense forest for several days the travelers find a trail that leads to a first age road. They have a decision before them: Continue along the current road up through the highlands (a more direct route) or take a road of immaculate condition that has an unknown destination. Ashes, expecting the Emerald Claw to send their troops along the trail opts for the ancient road.
The road is a blessing in disguise as the trip is much less grueling, water is plentiful, and food is easily gained. But soon the road seems to turn against them and every step forward becomes a nightmare as potholes suddenly appear, cracks split open, the road surface becomes ragged and stones shift beneath the travelers footsteps. In short order, the road's spirit appears and demands that the travelers leave the road that they are despoiling. Screaming and shouting like a mad man, the spirit storms about in a madness induced tantrum. Ashes intervenes and challenges the spirit as a battle of wills ensues. Ashes quickly discovers that he has powers in commanding spirits of the land. He binds the Spirit to aid the travelers vs. opposing them. Ashes discovers that the spirit, Guang Liu, maintained this road from the First Age. And since then has faithfully enacted his duties. But in the ensuing changes has become a forgotten relic of a past age; a spirit bound to a duty that has no meaning. Bound by the Solar Guang Liu has to obey but does so with every ounce of resistance he can muster. Every nuance becomes a battle of wills but Guang Liu has no choice in the end but to obey.
For a number of days they traveled in peace. In the distance, intersecting with the road were ruins of an ancient temple to the Unconquered Sun. Ashes approached the temple. Within he discovered several minor magic items that he took in the name of the Unconquered Sun. As he left he was challenged by the Fu Lions who stood guardian over the temple. When Ashes demonstrated his right to the artifacts by showing his caste mark, one of the temple guardians grew excited. It turns out that the temple guardian was a companion to the Bronze King, one of the previous incarnations of Ashes, and the point where Ashes was summoned into this world. Jiao would love to join Ashes but was unfortunately bound by the Bronze King to 5,000 years of service to the temple and the nagging female to his right was driving him insane. Ashes, getting the gist of Jiao's comments, freed him of the service at the temple if he would instead serve Ashes as an adviser. Jiao agreed but informed Ashes that he could not provide advice unless asked specific questions; it was a stipulation enforced by the Laws of the Celestial Courts for spirit advisers serving terrestrial beings.
For close to a week the slaves traveled onward till they encountered a giant snake laying in the road sunning itself. When questioned, Guang Liu, was somehow able to resist answering any direct questions other than he answered to an order higher than the misbegotten Solars who abandoned him and his works. Jiao on the other hand knew naught who this being was. Rolling his eyes, Ashes approached the snake. It turns out the snake was Bashu of the Resplendent Scales a Spirit of Knowledge taking a rest from a difficult trial. As it turns out, he was hunting his errant spawn that was the result of a dalliance with a darker spirit. She birthed thousands of snakemen that were polluting the country side in ever growing numbers. He asked Ashes, being a servant of the Unconquored Sun would mind aiding him in eliminating a nearby nest. Ashes agreed.
Ashes left his people behind on the road and travelled a day to the nearby nest with a select group of me and Jiao. There Ashes entered the nest and rid it of its foul inhabitants. Though the lethality of their poison nearly resulted in his death; a poison so lethal that a drop would kill a mortal and Ashes had been bitten over a dozen times. Crawling from the nest he entered a healing trance while being watched over by Jiao and his men.
As he came out of the trance Bashu was waiting for him. He was quite pleased with the work performed by Ashes and gave Ashes a spirit charm that would allow him to call upon the services of Bashu; being a spirit of knowledge he would be capable of answering a question that Ashes may have or unearth secrets long hidden. At that point he dissapeared, saying he looked forward to their next meeting.
When Ashes returned back to the Travelers he found them besieged by Goblins. Ashes ran forward and saved his people by calling upon the glory of the Unconquered Sun but a number of people, Nadiir being one of them, had been taken to the distant woods. Running in pursuit, Ashes eventually caught up to his kidnapped friends but not before the leader of the Goblins, a being of unnatural and eerie beauty had drained several of them and then fled into the deeper woods.
It was not till they returned to the camp that Ashes realized Guang Liu had disappeared. As it turned out Ashes had bound him to serve the travelers as long as they remained upon the road. With Ashes off road helping Bashu and the Travelers retreating to nearby ruins to fight off the goblins, he was able to leave. Ashes called upon him but he did not appear.
Two days later, Guang Liu appeared. Accompanying him was a fierce spirit in armor, wielding a sword of lightning and flying upon a storm cloud. Declaring himself as the Blessed Seventh Son of the Thunderhead, he challenged Ashes to one-on-one combat. Ashes refused and instead entered a battle of wills with Thunderhead. The battle was much fiercer than Guang Liu and as Ashes was about to defeat him, Thunderhead fled. Guang Liu was angry and upset over Thunderhead's flight. So much so that he could not stop himself from grumbling and complaining to the point that Ashes had to tell him to keep his silence.
The two weeks of travel were one of peace and tranquility. During this time Ashes began training a militia to defend themselves from hostile forces. Starting small the group grew in size. Calling upon the powers of the Unconquered Sun, Ashes was able to shape up the militia into a capable unit. It was near the end of this time that a strange traveler wandered up to the guards and asked for a fire in exchange for a story. Quite the friendly fellow this individual called himself Shiang. He was introduced to Ashes who welcomed him to share their fire and break bread with them. Within the hour Shiang had the slaves gathered about the fire enrapt with his weaving of words into a glorious story. Afterward he queried as to who this group was traveling on this lost and lonely road maintained by a mad spirit (at which point Guang Liu glared at Shiang but said nothing). Sharing their travels and tribulations, Ashes wove a tale of his own and that of the people that followed him to some distant city that may take them all in. Shiang seemed thoughtful. In the morning, before Shiang took his leave he spoke to Ashes in private. He didnt want to get his hopes up but there was a city that may take them all in: Great Forks. If Ashes was interested Shiang was willing to travel to the city and make the proposal to the three who ruled there. Ashes agreed seeing no harm done in this deed. Being a lone man, Shiang would be able to travel much quicker on his own.
Another two weeks went by without event till Shiang returned. He said the powers that ruled Great Forks would take in the refugees. He also informed Ashes that the road was close to ending; they had another two days before it ended in wilderness but there was a path they could take to return to the main road. That road would take them to a pass beyond which lay civilized lands but Ashes would have to negotiate with the Guild as they would not be pleased to see "escaped slaves". At this point Shiang took his leave to arrange for an escort on the other side of the pass via leveraging some political favors he had accrued with the city state on the other side of the pass.
They found the path and eventually the road. Ashes left the main body of slaves behind and traveled ahead with a small select group of men led by Skar; Skar was an ex-mercenary who ended up becoming invaluable to Ashes in training and commanding the militia. They found the Guild Outpost where Ashes met with the guild leader: Youn Macheri. This meeting would lead to events that would become known as the The Battle of Sky Rocks by the ex-slaves.
In summary, Youn requested an extravagant payment to let the slaves "go free". But he ended up betraying them in attacking them in an ambush with two unlikely allies: Fair Folk (a kin to the Fair Folk slain by Ashes) and a group of Ashigaru (Realm elite in power armor) led by Diamond Paradise Huntress. Ashes forces won and during the conflict one of Ashes followers, Rugai, exalted as a Badger Lunar. Unfortunately both Youn and Huntress escaped by their own devices.
Leading a small select group back to the outpost. Ashes freed the slaves, gaining an additional 50 followers, slew the guild guards who resisted, and burned the entire outpost to the ground after stripping it of everything of value. Youn was nowhere to be found having escaped hours ahead of Ashes vengeance.
Beyond the pass, Ashes and the slaves met up with Shiang and a unit of soldiers from the local city state. They escorted the entire group of ex-slaves to the Yellow River where they boarded several barges that took them downriver to Great Forks.
They arrived at Great Forks to a great celebration thrown in their honor by the Three. It was during this celebration that Ashes met Emerald Waters. A dark haired stunning beauty with few inhibitions and the stamina of a Solar.