Campaign of the Month: June 2012
Clouded Path Monastery
The Clouded Path Monastery is an ancient lamasery high amid the formidable Wall of Heaven, the Meramakoum range of mountains. The monastery lies at an altitude of approximately 5,200 feet above sea level, making it a relatively short climb from the base camp, and the environmental conditions such as cold weather and thin air are only prevalent in the final hour of a averagely paced trek.
As with the leaders of most Boddoist monasteries and temples, the master of this temple was the individual closest to achieving self-perfection. Each successive master of the Clouded Path Monastery inherited the Braid of a Hundred Masters from the previous master and, with it, was better able to help guide the rest of Bodda’s faithful along the path to perfection. However, the last known master, Li Yao, abandoned the monastery and the braid without naming a successor.
Eleven disciples trained under Li Yao’s guidance. Each of them showed great promise and potential, but a young Mungese man named Jiang Dan was the best among them—physically stronger and fitter than most. As the years passed, Jiang Dan became even more skilled and powerful, yet he could never defeat his master in physical combat or at a game of wits, despite the master’s aging. Frustrated and impatient, Jiang Dan eventually proclaimed that Li Yao violated Bodda’s teachings, arguing that only the Braid of a Hundred Masters allowed Li Yao to maintain his superiority. Jiang Dan challenged Li Yao to remove the braided necklace and compete in a series of tests, each trying a different aspect of the self. Unsurprisingly, even without the braid, Li Yao defeated Jiang Dan in every contest.
Once Jiang Dan was truly beaten, Li Yao placed the braid upon the ground next to the student before turning and leaving the monastery, never to return. Only one student, the youngest of the group, followed him. At first, Jiang Dan and the other remaining nine students fought over the braid, but quickly discovered that the braid provided no benefit when worn. Ultimately, the students realized their folly and all save one left the monastery in search of their true personal paths.
Jiang Dan chose to remain at the monastery. Initially, he thought that Li Yao had left the braid to taunt him, but over time, he came to realize that there had to have been more to the master’s gesture than a simple provocation. Jiang Dan continued his training alone, all the while contemplating the meaning of his lost master’s gesture. Upon the moment of his death, Jiang Dan had still not solved the riddle, and with his dying breath, he whispered one last prayer to the Master of Masters, asking for a final insight.
His prayer received an answer, but not in the manner expected—instead of attaining an instant inspiration, Jiang Dan woke to find himself turned to stone. Unlike normal petrification, however, Jiang Dan remained aware of his surroundings and conscious of the passage of time and his own thoughts. Though he did not gain the insight required to understand his master’s actions, Jiang Dan did receive the time necessary to reach the answer on his own.
Nobody has seen the monks of the Clouded Path Monastery in years. In the past, the monastery often sent a small group of them to the mountain’s base camp to trade for the goods the monks could not produce for themselves in the harsh mountain environment.
A demon of ice and snow made flesh, called Shang Xu by locals, prowls the mountains. Since the monks disappeared, it has come down to raid the farms and villages on several occasions. The “demon” is not a demon at all, but rather a raving yeti that has established its territory well below the icy altitudes in which its kind normally hunt. With increasing regularity, the beast has attacked travelers in the low mountains and even settlements high in the foothills of Clouded Path Monastery’s peak.