For years, this isolated settlement on the edge of the savage Wildlands has called to those with a rogue streak of independence, entrepreneurship, a taste for adventure or any/all of the above. Even though Jiyutoshi owes its allegiance to the capital city of Mah’Puana, its geographical distance from the capital has allowed it to function as a near sovereign state for many years. Governed by Lady Kyoko, a charismatic and much-beloved leader by its citizens, Jiyutoshi has solidified itself as an economic powerhouse and urban bastion from the Wildlands, against which the city is dangerously nestled.
What once was merely a glorified outpost for explorers of the frontier, the discovery of massive iron ore deposits in the surrounding lands caused both an economic and population boom in Jiyutoshi. The city’s footprint began to expand rapidly and the burgeoning metropolis existed in a near lawless state for many years as the city was flooded with all manners of people wishing to gain control of the new found wealth. Crime was rampant, rival gangs battled openly in the streets as they each sought to establish themselves as the dominant force in the city. But it was Lady Kyoko and her mysterious contingent of elite soldiers who eventually gained control. Not only did Lady Kyoko crack down on violent crime by establishing a strong and persistent City Guard (captained by her personal elite warriors), she also organized the mining industry into a single united workforce, commissioned the massive forge in the center of the city and negotiated strong and lasting economic relationships with many wealthy merchants in the larger cities on the continent. In doing all these things, she created the stability that the city so desperately needed and for this, her people adore her with a ferocity not seen in any other city on the continent.
But recently, the exports from Jiyutoshi have begun to decline in volume. Messengers are not arriving either at or from the Free City with the regularity they used to. Rumors and stories have begun to circulate of caravans traveling to and from the city being attacked by strange beasts, with some caravans disappearing entirely. These rumors, disregarded by most as the ravings of mad men or sowers of discontent, have caused a migration of two types of people to Jiyutoshi: ambitious individuals who seek to capitalize on the sudden and strange instability, and those who would seek to help Jiyutoshi stabilize itself (and maybe make some coin in the process).
It is on one of these caravans that you find yourselves, bound for Jiyutoshi. Each traveler has their own reasons for making the difficult journey, but tensions run high as the convoy begins to make its way through the outskirts of the Wildlands, still a full day’s ride to Jiyutoshi. Many of those traveling with the caravan (totaling 15 individuals including yourselves: 3 of which are on their own horses, 2 horse-drawn carts upon which yourselves and those other travelers without horses ride, and including 3 armed guards from Jiyutoshi) begin to make nervous small talk as the dense and savagely lush forest presses in closer around you, cutting off almost all the natural light from the sun with its soaring, thick canopy. The air grows humid and stagnant as the smell of wet leaves and decaying plant life creeps into your nostrils. Moss-covered trees grow larger and thicker here than most have ever seen, and the sounds of fauna one might expect in such a wilderness are conspicuously absent.
An elderly human man of about 60 years sits on one of these carts. He wears the black and red tunic of an employee of the Free City, and his perpetually soot-stained fingers reveal him as a worker of the great forge. His nerves are shown clearly on his face, and his remarkably thick and well-worn hands run hastily through the thinning wisps of white hair on his head as he swallows loudly, lets out a tense chuckle and asks to nobody in particular,
“(gulp) hehe…what brings you to the Free City?”