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He silently acknowledges each of you. His mountain sized voice rolls again…heroes are rewarded….
Fang Quiang goes to one knee in front of you and bends down, putting one huge fist upon the path and making as if concentrating. Jamba, silent and awestruck this whole time, is behind you all, like a shadow next to an equally awe struck Bren. Obada is on both knees, eyes averted, grasping his prayer beads. A few moments pass and a cloud of 5 small floating objects rise out of the ground in front of the giant’s grounded fist, rising up from some place in the depths of the stone. Each one about the size of a large marble
Mountain Stars… Fang Quiang breaths reverently, as the raw, uncut emeralds float towards you, one to Grognak, One to Grey, One to Stern, and 2 more float to grey, and you all seem to instinctively know these two are for Tealia and Caris.
Still on one knee, and still higher than the highest eve on a two story home, Fang Quiang turns to Hroth, repeating some of the word the warrior spoke to him
Forever in my service…he qoutes the warrior
Fang Quiang has not servants…you will not serve, but there is stone in your spirit…you will walk with me…stand fast for your reward Hrothgar..
He raises his huge fist off the ground about 4 ft, then extends a single rocky finger downwards, touching the ground. From the point where it touches, a vein of shimmering obsidian seems to snake across the ground towards Hroth, and as it reaches him it crawls up his armor. The obsidian seems like real crystal for a moment but then becomes translucent and ghostly, sinking into the big warriors armor, as if absorbing into him, until it no longer stirs the surface. Hroth, you feel a slight burn and itching sensation beneath your armor, as if suddenly a rash were spread across your midsection. Fang Quiang smiles down at you, and nods.
Good…go now spirit warrior, in time you will feel a stirring in the mark, that is when you will return to me, and we shall meet again, but now Go,the way will not stay open much longer.
And with that, you all feel a sense of completion, as if it is indeed the best time to go.
As one you turn and, Grey at the front, begin the trek back down from Founders Watch to Fan Lu. Each step you swear it’s as if the ground beneath you feels more solid.
You have only gone a few yards before you hear from behind in the colossal voice of the Great Fan Quiang,
At the front of the pack Grey slams suddenly to a stop, rigid muscles taut, in his pale face a look of profound shock border lining terror on his patrician features. The rest of the group has to think quickly it happens so fast, either dodge/stumbling past or stopping in confusion.
Grey slowly pivots in place, and strides back through your confused midst towards Fang Quiang. Who is standing right where he was. Grey stops the length of a long spear away from the mighty spirit and bows low and long, “Yes, Great Spirit.” The Fan Quiang continues, questioningly
You have something Son of Aelihir….something familiar… the Protector of Fan Lu trails off.
Fang Quiang raises one massive hand palm up. Grey’s jacket flies open, as if caught in gale force winds flapping back behind him, and Black Stone comes flying out into the open palm of the great spirit. Grey shocked, struggles visibly, mightily managing to take a step forward arm out to try to catch Blackstone but stops, registering the demeanor of the Dreaming Mountain.
Fang Quiang holds the human fist sized Black Stone up before him. In his hands it looks tiny. The colossus holds the stone gingerly between a thumb and forefinger that could grind the faceted stone to dust with ease. He inspects Blackstone, turning Black stone this way and that as he leans in to look very close, like a jeweler inspecting a tiny diamond for value, all that’s missing is a massive loop befitting of Fan Quiang. Almost absently the spirits free hand comes to rest at a spot just over his hip, caressing a specific spot on the black stripe of obsidian. With a small chunk missing just slightly bigger than Blackstone. The spirit’s “Hmmm.” of interest resonates across the mountains, reverberating from within everyone, like the crash of a distant avalanche or a fearsome roar of a lion, the bass note penetrates you all to your core.
When Fang Quiang speaks again it is with a slightly bemused voice, In this moment, the spirit seems very human in emotion…
I have always wondered what happened to this. Fang Quiang opens his palm letting Blackstone fly back to, a relaxed and relieved Grey’s waiting arms. Fang Quiang’s benevolent voice echoes softly around you all as he fades from view,leaning back and sinking down back into the mountain.
I like what you have done with it.
A paler than normal Grey, stride stumbles his way back to the group clutching Blackstone protectively to his chest, eyes wide.
“Ok, let’s get out of here and back home right now.” He says shakily as he strides by.
Down the path you head, with each step the mist seems to clear, color drained from the world blushes back into it. The weight of traversing the material world again a welcome strain from the endless weightless haze of the ethereal plane. Each of you holds a green gemstone in your hands, clenched in anticipation…are you really going home…is it done? Hroth has no stone to show, but a warmth in his core, a rash across his body he can’t take the time to pull his armor away and look at just now, and a beaming smile upon his face, knowing something has changed him in just the way he wished to be changed, and yet never knew. You are still high on the path, at the level of a tall roof, looking out across the grassy boulder strew hillside that rises up to meet the mountain. You walk in silence for awhile, as if you are all thinking the same thing..fearing the slightest variation from the spirits command to walk down the path might make his magic void…it’s like holding your breath at the moment of a hard own triumph, unwilling to accept it until it is surely a done deal. The cherry blossoms are in the bright bloom of early spring and morning sunlight. The unmistakable sound of a metal shovel striking rock and gritty sand travels up from far below. The work crew you passed on the road earlier is hard at work, clearing out the drainage ditch along the side of Tradeway. They’re about 150 yards away, and in a strange way, they notice you just after you notice them. They drop their tools in shock, staring up at you in recognition. Their foreman, sipping from a full sized beat up kettle of steaming tea, begins to shout at them, when his vulgar chastisement trails off to silence as he notices you too. Beaming smiles, the kind that can be seen from far off, spread on some of their faces. The foreman waves at you. Two of the work men look back to each other and their simultaneous, tandem cry echoes across the valley. As they call out the foreman looks a little embarrassed, but their enthusiasm is contagious, and the whole crew of 8 men is clapping and smiling. It takes a moment for you to make out what they’re shouting…“Punch Drunk!!!!”