Leaving the destruction in Lanzhou in our wake we set sail once more, this time for Windsong Monastery, my old home. A bittersweet feeling. In some ways I dreaded the return and the disappointment my Master would feel when I could not stay to take his place; but to return to the place of my childhood, and the simple and peaceful pleasures to be found in monastery life, would be a balm from the betrayal and intrigue that had taken place since our last visit. This was not to be the case however.
Jacob, my counterpart from Catalan’s airship, had returned to the monastery. Master Hatori had secluded himself and seemed worn, tired and stretched too thin. Mei was distracted, her focus elsewhere and her infrequent returns to the temple should have warned of what was to come if I had not been too blinded by the chance to rest to heed the warning of the Guardian of Windsong.
A trip out to the nearby town seemed positive at first, we heard that the followers of Zon Kuthon had been less active in the area lately, and the chance to let loose was only enhanced by a dance and moonlight walk with Mei. Unfortunately this was cut short by the discovery of multiple bodies. The reason for the cults inactivity became clear when we came across bodies in the road, leading to the vast slaughter that had taken place in their grounds. None were spared. Monks, priests, civilians and even the children laid out to rot, only the coolness of the night helped to keep the stench of decay at bay.
Upon returning to Windsong, it soon became clear who had done this. Mei. I thought she could change when I spared her life previously; but the years spent fighting off enemy forces, only to have them return later, had worn down her commitment to defend. It would have been hard for me to cast judgement for while I have tried to avoid the death of innocents in our journey, I have some blood on my hands will not wash off. Master Hatori however, judged this a grievous breech of the principles he taught and he cast Mei out of the monastery, never to return.
This proved to be a short lived exile as she returned that night in an attempt to steal the relic of the Monastery, the Orb of Storms. I feared a battle to the death as I confronted her, demanding that she return the orb and repent for her actions against the followers of Zon Kuthon. It was not my place to repeal Hatori’s decision, but I vainly hoped genuine repentance might be enough to allow her to stay.
Mei could not do it though. She returned the orb and left peacefully, to wander where the winds would take her but without a place to call home. Life without a home is hard. Life without a family or purpose is empty. It is the people in our lives that drive us onward in our journeys and allow us to become more than we were yesterday.
Hatori took this hard. One student a betrayer, one a gun-wielding mercenary, and myself. He said his goodbyes and walked into the embrace of the ocean, leaving myself or Jacob to take up the mantle of master. Most of the students have come with us on “Betwixt Two Planes”, to continue learning the path from their inadequate new teacher. Some travel with Jacob, to destinations unknown.
I’ve tried to follow the teachings of our order, to bring balance to the world and better the lives of those I could reach. But what had our recent adventures wrought? Deaths by the hundred in the Imperative. Chaos from the unravelling of the Arcanum. Murder of the Empress and her consorts. I don’t see the alternative which could have avoided war with Tirrimere and our heads on spikes, but maybe that is a failing on my part. The uncertainty claws at me even as the responsibility for these young lives adds a new burden to my life. But I must go on, I must do better and try to show these younglings my way. For it is the only way I know.
Teacher of the Way
Acolyte of Gozreh
Master of Windsong Monastery