The continuing adventures of Shenhong Long using the Scarlet Heroes Solo rules.
When last we left, the hero, Shen had narrowly escaped death in the dungeon level of the Palace of the Jade Sorceress. Shen fell through a trapdoor into a sewer and fought off a number of giant rats. After a brief rest, Shen recovers 2 hit points (I read up on the rest and recovery rules for Scarlet Heroes).
The next room he entered was well decorated with a small crystal harp sitting on the floor in the center of a circle. Shen picked at the strings of the harp for a few discordant notes and the ghost of a woman appeared. The woman explained the disaster/curse that had befallen the Jade Sorceress and implored Shen to play a few notes (which she taught Shen) on the Ice Harp to break the Red Ruby in which the Jade Sorceress was trapped.
Shen thanked the ghost which quickly disappeared. Moving on Shen is attacked by five zombie palace guards. In a pitched battle, Shen manages to put down all of the zombies. After passing through a few rooms he comes across the recent corpse of a human in a guard uniform. The guard has several burn marks on him. Nearby Shen sees a message, “Beware of Travis” scrawled on the wall.
Continuing along he sees a long hall with several doors. A flickering light shines under one door. Avoiding it Shen shoves open another door and surprises 4 shou (orcs) dressed in ill-fitting guard uniforms. Shen quickly kills the orcs. The room is a large mess, with a bloodied desk and a half-eaten wolf carcass. At that moment the door with the light opens and several orcs peer out. Seeing Shen, standing over the corpses of four orcs, bloodied naginata in hand, the orcs hold up their hands and back away.
Shen advances and follows the orcs into another room. Two orcs leap from behind the door with surprise and attack. Shen quickly dispatches them. The remaining 2 orcs drop their weapons and back away. Not understanding Shou speech, Shen threatens them to remain where they are and moves on.
Shen heads on further through natural caves. He comes across a cave full of life-like statues. From what the ghost told him he understands these are palace inhabitants that have been turned to stone.
Continuing upstairs, Shen springs a trap but nothing happens. Listening at a door he hears grunting and chewing noises. Shen kicks the door open and surprises three troglodytes eating a recently killed human (see the adventures of Ti Yasho). Shen kills the troglodytes quickly and finds one has a nice looking dagger that he keeps.
Shen advances up through the watchtower to the second level of the Palace. One of the first things he encounters is an iron statue in a laboratory. On his first attack, his naginata becomes stuck to the side of the statue. In a lengthy combat (11 rounds) Shen survives by using his recently found dagger which proves to be magical. Shen pauses and binds the wounds he received from the fight with the iron statue.
Shen encounters a playful black kitten in another chamber but ignores it. Moving on he comes across two human women examining large parchment drawings of a black cat. The women are briefly startled and on guard but eventually introduce themselves as Duchess and Candella. Duchess does most of the talking and attaches herself to Shenhong’s side. She explains she and her friend are novice adventurers who just want to find their way out of the Palace. Shen agrees that they can join him.
|Duchess and Candella|
The three adventurers enter a bedchamber full of interesting furniture. Shen looks on amused as Duchess and Candella immediately begin to ransack it. Duchess pulls back the bed-curtains and lets out a shriek awakening a bearded old man on the bed. The old man, who is dressed like a sorcerer introduces himself as Mirabilis. He explains that has the curse fell over the Palace he put himself in a protective trance and escaped the effects. To Shen the two women seem very suspicious of Mirabilis.
Mirabilis explains the curse to Shen. Shen tells everyone that he has discovered a way to break the curse. Everyone looks at Shen expectantly and he shows them the Ice Harp before putting it back into his pouch. Mirabilis asks Shen many questions about the origins of the Harp but Shen declines to answer. Shen asks Mirabilis about the layout of the Palace and he tells Shen that of course, he knows the way around. But he is not certain where the ruby gem might be located. He suggests the ballroom and leads them to that room.
As the group enters the ballroom, Shen begins to hear low, eerie music. Suddenly, a pair of ghostly figures appear dancing in the center of the room. Shen and Candella are overcome with fear and run through a nearby doorway out into the garden. The garden is open to the sky. As they enter the garden they see sickly looking bushes that fire sprays of thorns at them. Grabbing Candella by the hand, Shen makes his way toward a door out of the garden. The bushes fire two more volleys of thorns but miss.
Shen and Candella find themselves in a north-south hallway. From the north, Duchess comes running up to the pair. She tells them that Mirabilis ran away. Shen suggests looking for the old man but Duchess dissuades him.
Heading south they enter an ornate bathroom. Candella, declares “this is mine” and begins prying gems out of the walls and pocketing an ivory soap dish. Shen shrugs and moves on. Duchess asks to see the Ice Harp again but Shen shushes her. Just then Shen sees four hobgoblins rushing toward them.
Shen fires at the hobgoblins with his bow but misses. Duchess tries to grab Shen’s loot bag but he blocks her. Duchess and Candella flee north leaving Shen to deal with the hobgoblins. Shen pulls out his naginata and kills the hobgoblins in 4 rounds.
Alone again, Shen heads back to the vandalized wash chamber and bandages the wounds he received from the hobgoblins.
Heading south in the direction the hobgoblins came from, Shen finds a pair of ornate double doors. Pushing them open he finds the throne room. Statues of courtiers are positioned about the room facing a dais on top of which is a throne. Sitting on the throne is a large ruby.
Shen approaches cautiously. Moving up the dais a step at a time expecting an attack. Shen sets his naginata and reaches out for the glowing gem. There seems to be a tiny figure trapped inside of it. Just as he is about to touch the gem red vapors billow up and surround Shen. He grabs his naginata in a defensive pose. The smoke clears and a human in glowing red full plate armor steps forward and attacks armed with a red, glowing sword and shield.
In a desperate combat, Shen strikes the red knight several times with his naginata with no effect. Tossing aside the weapon he leaps at the knight with his dagger. Just as he touches him the knight disappears. Shen realizes it was only an illusion.
Shen walks up toward the gem again. This time he does not hesitate but pulls out the ice harp and plays the notes he was taught. The gem shatters and red mist pours out of it obscuring the entire room from Shen. A thin figure emerges from the mist as it begins to dissipate. Shen readies his dagger.
“Relax my hero. The curse is ended!” states a young woman in a fine silver dress with a crown on her head. Looking about Shen can see all of the statues in the room have turned back into humans and dwarves.
Argentia thanks Shen for rescuing her. She was trapped in the gem by the evil sorcerer Catharandamus who has now fled the palace with his shou followers. She was unable to do much while trapped but she could observe what was going on and used all of her willpower to open a path through to the gatehouse for Shen and another earlier adventurer who arrived a few days ago and unfortunately perished.
Argentia sends out messengers to bring stability to Haven and knights to attempt to locate Cathararandamus. She insists that Shen stay in Haven for a week while things are put to order and throws a feast in honor of Shen bestowing upon him a Silver Medal of Honor and 1,500 gold coins. She also exempts Shen’s village of Darga from taxation for the next five years.
One of the main reasons why Shen was able to survive the Palace of the Jade Sorceress is that I re-read the rules and realized that I should be healing 2 hit points of damage recently received after a battle. This is huge at lower levels when you only have single digit hit points.