In this episode, Jiǔtóu wakes up on Arborea and meets Master Guanyin, who teaches her on how to control her emotions, as well as mastering and strengthening her skills.
Jiǔtóu wakes up with a sharp intake of breath, but to her it doesn't feel like she was asleep at all. She finds herself in a very different place now from the stone room with the suits of armour she was just in. This place has a strong smell of grass and flowers, and she can hear strange sounds of animals and birds. As she comes to her senses she finds herself in a field of wildflowers, in a small opening of a large forest surrounded by huge, wild trees. The whole place seems other-worldly, the sky is a vibrant blue, and the sun blazes down on her.
She gets into a state of confusion and anger as she tries to piece things together in her head. Suddenly the weather changes from sunny, to windy and stormy. But as quick as it began, it returns to sunny again in an instant.
Looking over the treetops, Jiǔtóu sees figures with wings flying towards her. There is no actual sun in the sky, but she still has to shield her eyes from the bright light. As the figures draw closer she can see them more clearly. They appear to be elves, wearing leather armour, glowing eyes, and have feathery wings enabling them to fly. One seems to be the leader of the group, wearing a headband and carrying a sword and a shield. He points to Jiǔtóu, and group swoops down to her. The leader shouts out that something from the infernal planes has appeared, and they draw their blades as if they are about to attack, so Jiǔtóu pulls out her guandao.
The leader swoops down and swipes Jiǔtóu with his blade. She goes to dodge, but the blade passes straight through her. He is startled by this and stops attacking, holding up his hand to his men to also put their swords away. He asks Jiǔtóu who she is where she has come from. Jiǔtóu can only look down at herself in complete confusion, as to how the attack passed through her body. She manages to tell them her name, and says she is a tiefling. The leader replies that he has heard of tieflings, and knows that they hail from the Surface.
He tells Jiǔtóu he has bad news either way, saying she was sent here by magic, or she is dead. He informs her that this place is known as Arborea, one of the celestial planes, and a place where souls go. Jiǔtóu can't quite believe him, saying she was just in a vault, and there was a suit of armour, but she doesn't think it teleported her anywhere. The leader responds simply by saying that it must have killed her then. Jiǔtóu, in an even greater state of disbelief feels that the whole thing just isn't right. She says she had things to do, and tieflings to free, so she can't be dead.
The leader suddenly apologises, realising he has not yet introduced himself, and says his name is Tanos. He tells Jiǔtóu the reason he was unable to harm her is because only her spirit exists here, not her physical form. Jiǔtóu asks about the others, particularly Elora since she was with her, but Tanos says he doesn't know anything of her companions. He does point her in the direction of a mountain they can just see on the outskirts, looming over of the forest. He tells her that it is a chaotic place that is divided into quadrants, each one reflecting different elements. They can see one face of the mountain is covered in lava and flames, another is a sheer rocky slope, the third is nothing but snow and ice, and the final one they cannot see. Tanos says that there is a mystic woman living on the top of the mountain, and she is known for being powerful in the ways of the elements, so may have answers for Jiǔtóu. He offers his assistance in finding her way there, and Jiǔtóu agrees, so Tanos commands his men to lead the way, and they fly off. Tanos tells Jiǔtóu to follow him, and assures her that it should not be too dangerous and is not far. Jiǔtóu takes a moment to look down at herself. She feels real but can't do anything, such as pick flowers. She reaches out to touch Tanos but feels nothing as her hand passes straight through him. He empathises with her situation.
Jiǔtóu follows Tanos quietly, still trying to take in everything that has happened. She has no difficulty navigating the forest, since she can walk through logs and trees. She can however feel the sun and the wind. As they walk on through the forest Tanos tries to take some of the awkwardness out of it by going into tour-guide mode and telling her about the place. He says it is not often frequented by outsiders. It is a place of valiant heroes and dangerous beasts, and also many elves come from here. The people are passionate about everything they do, be it music or art or battle, and Tanos talks proudly of them.
After a while they exit the forest and reach the base of the mountain. They stand looking up it at the split between the rock and fire quadrants. Tanos gestures towards it, and informs Jiǔtóu that the woman lives up here, also telling her to be cautious, even in her current form. He wishes her good luck, before flapping his wings and taking off.
Jiǔtóu is left facing this strange mountain. She can sense there is a shift in the energy between the different sections. Jiǔtóu, being a tiefling, chooses to climb the path of fire and lava. Again she can sense the heat here, but easily makes her way, dodging past flames.
When she arrives at the top, she can see it turns into a large plateau, which is also split into the same four quadrants. This time she can see the fourth one is grassy and windy. A monastic shrine stands in the centre, seemingly unaffected by any of the elements surrounding it. It is not a shrine like the one Jiǔtóu is familiar with though where she lived with the monks.
Sitting at the very tip, looking down a terrifyingly steep expanse, Jiǔtóu can see a human woman. She is aged, going grey, her hair tied in a braid. She is facing away from Jiǔtóu in a meditative position. As Jiǔtóu steps forward the woman speaks to her, saying she was wondering when Jiǔtóu would arrive. She stands up on the tips of her toes and turns to her. Jiǔtóu can now see tribal makeup tattooed on her forehead and down along each of her arms. The woman apologises to Jiǔtóu saying she is sorry she had to come here under these circumstances.
Jiǔtóu asks the woman, since she already seems to know her, what her name is. She replies Master Guanyin, and invites Jiǔtóu into her shrine. The inside is simple, and holds nothing of any real value. Guanyin sits again, then tells Jiǔtóu to ask any questions she wants. Jiǔtóu sits next to her, also in a meditative position with her legs crossed. She first asks if Guanyin is immortal. She responds saying it is not a simple answer, that it is unlikely she will die, and that she does have powers, but is not a god.
Jiǔtóu asks why Guanyin came here, to which she says she arrived here a few decades ago, in order to test herself and to be at peace, even against her emotions. She says she has been to many planes, seeking inner peace, but has not yet found it. Jiǔtóu then asks what she is. Guanyin responds that she is human, a warrior, a traveller, and a philosopher.
Jiǔtóu can do little but look confused, so Guanyin decides to explain a bit more. She takes a bowl of water, and reveals Jiǔtóu's final moments in the vault. She tells Jiǔtóu she is deceased, and because she is a being in chaos, she has been brought here, maybe even for eternity. As Jiǔtóu continues to watch, she can see the armour that beat her into the ground, and is now able to see just how brutal it was. She sees Elora scoop her up and run, as the armour resets. The image in the water shifts again and she can now see Elora running back to Tallfield. She sees Cam upset, praying, then picking her up and walking off. The image fades to water once again. Guanyin turns to Jiǔtóu and says her companions are seeking to return her to the Surface, however this is not an easy task, and they will have to beat a powerful being to do so, but they are willing to risk it for Jiǔtóu's life.
Jiǔtóu cannot understand why they would go to such lengths for her. She is feeling very angry, but also embarrassment and shame. She feels it is her fault for not listening to Elora, yet she doesn't want to admit being headstrong. Jiǔtóu says she should have left them immediately and never followed the group, just continued alone on her own mission. Guanyin doesn't even blink as Jiǔtóu continues her rant. Jiǔtóu exclaims it's their fault, and she could have been on her way and she wouldn't have ended up in that place. Guanyin reaches out and puts her hand on Jiǔtóu's shoulder, saying the others didn't make her do anything, what made her rush into battle alone was that she believed herself to be better and didn't need them. Jiǔtóu insists she didn't, but Guanyin says she must, or she wouldn't be here. There is no anger or accusation in her voice, she just tells Jiǔtóu the truth, something Jiǔtóu finds hard to hear about herself.
A Change in PerspectiveEdit
Guanyin waves her hand over the bowl again, this time the water reveals images of Trellimar, Cam and Elora all looking exhausted, as they fight desperately against a giant green being, wearing a distinctive helmet with horns, and wielding a huge bow and arrows. Guanyin tells her this is where her companions are now, trying to bring her back, because they care about her, and they don't want to see her fall. They want her to rejoin the group. Guanyin continues, saying Jiǔtóu is fire, strong and burning bright, but if uncontrolled she can destroy so much. She has ignored the plights of others who also suffer, and pushed herself too much. Guanyin says that she only says these things to help Jiǔtóu learn that she can control the fire within herself.
Guanyin then says she should now show Jiǔtóu of her successes, and waves her hand over the water once again. Jiǔtóu sees Tallfield, but the town is different now. Buildings have been improved, Calvin stands training his guards properly now, and they are better behaved. People are moving in, Finny's tavern is full and bustling, and generally so much more is going on. The last thing she sees is Barris, strapping on chainmail armour, and Dahnna handing him a beautifully crafted sword and shield, as he leaves the town gates to go on an adventure of his own, full of inspiration.
Guanyin tells Jiǔtóu that when she left to seek vengeance on the dragonborn, this is all she ever cared about, and while it is a valiant goal, she is following it so blindly she has ignored those who she may have helped. She tells her to look at how she has helped Tallfield, saying this town will now flourish because they didn't take any reward money when they left, meaning the town was able to prosper, and this one young man has been inspired to begin his own destiny. Jiǔtóu exclaims that she has only put the townspeople and her group in danger, but Guanyin reassures her saying no, they put themselves in danger, and they make their own decisions, because they wish to. Jiǔtóu points out that they have only known her a couple of weeks, and even then she wasn't the best companion to have around during that time. The image in the water shifts to Cam, and she sees him now in his golden-hair form. Guanyin says Jiǔtóu sees him in a form he doesn't even know himself. He is not a human, but a remnant of Pelor's Light. He is not the only one of his kind, there are many more like him he just hasn't met yet.
Guanyin says that killing Korak the Champion will not bring Jiǔtóu peace. She knows many who sought revenge, but when they did, it didn't ease their pain at all. Jiǔtóu retorts that if Guanyin talks of her inflicting pain, then she must know the pain the dragonborn inflicted on her and other tieflings. Guanyin agrees that she must bring that to light, but asks Jiǔtóu if thinks she is the one who should be justice's hand.
Guanyin tells Jiǔtóu that if her companions are successful in reviving her, she should travel to Talis'Val with them, since her destiny begins there, and all their destinies will match up. Guanyin also says they must discuss training, as a flame erupts in her hands, dissipates, then again in her other hand, and dissipates. She also conjures wind, rock, and the water out of the bowl. She tells Jiǔtóu she can teach her these things.
Guanyin asks if she were to summon Korak the Champion here right now, would Jiǔtóu take revenge against him. For the first time Jiǔtóu says no, she is not ready. Guanyin says it pleases her to hear, since she planned to test Jiǔtóu, but instead will teach her to master fire. She tells Jiǔtóu to face Korak, and tell him of the injustice of the dragonborn, and when she does it is then she will find her next master, who will teach her more about wielding the elements.
Jiǔtóu makes one final request to speak to her comrades, or do something to help them in the battle they are about to face for her. Guanyin says she will help her send a sign, and asks her to meditate with her to send them her energy as aid. Jiǔtóu thanks her.
- Barris, via a vision
- Calvin, via a vision
- Cam Buckland, via a vision
- Dahnna, via a vision
- Elora Galanodel, via a vision
- Trellimar Aleath, via a vision
- Tallfield guards, via a vision
- Tallfield villagers, via a vision
- An Opportunity: With Katie, Trott, and Matt absent for this session, Mark took the opportunity to run a short solo campaign with Kim, to find out what happened to Jiǔtóu after she died.
- Great Start!: Kim's very first roll is a natural 20.
- Prepared Second Option: Mark revealed afterwards that he had Korak ready for initiative if Kim had said she would fight him.