Finding a decent refuge in the midst of Chaos’ Wrath is not something you’ll soon forget.
by Chi “Fireball” Zuo
The badlands running along the Wastes and between the Five Cities have got a lot of cuts in them – gorges or arroyos. I don’t know what they are, but they look like giant knife wounds that never healed. One Wastes-drifter I met called them defiles, told me there’re riverbeds, but the rivers all dried out. Maybe. Don’t really matter much, but they’re a good place to get out of the sun . . . or get out of sight.
There’s a trade route that runs from Yung Zhi to Monsoon, cuts straight across the badlands not going near the Salvation. It’s really a bunch of game trails and worn out paths rather than a real route, but it’s easy enough to follow if you’ve got eyes. You have to be careful, because those trails’ll slip right into a gorge without a warning. There’s one, though, that you can’t miss. It’s got a big boulder at its head that looks like a fist with its index, middle, and pinkie fingers pointing skyward. That one’s called Three Finger Rock. I know it’s called that because the monks told me.
See, right below Three Finger Rock, in a gorge the monks call the Arm, is a temple. The temple ain’t got a name of its own – the monks just call it the temple. I just about fell right into it the time I was hunting down Slim Joyce Bosang out of Yung Zhi. Slim Joyce had that knife she was known for up to the throat of one of these old, bald boys and she’s cursing up a storm. I had given up on the “alive” part of the bounty until that old boy grabs her hand and kind of twists it so she drops the knife, then she drops to her knees, and he’s lecturing her the whole time.
Yeah, I recognized that move all right. After I trussed up Joyce right good, I had some tea with the monks. I told them of my tutor and the headmistress of the temple remembered him. Turns out, this was the Wudang temple where he had trained, but he had been a poor student and had flunked out. Seems he had stuck around a few years as a caretaker and gardener, before disappearing one night.
The temple itself ain’t all that amazing, except that it’s cut out of the rock of the gorge. The monks all live in there, and there’s this spring that serves up nice, clean water. That spring is enough to keep them all from drying up and feeds the vegetable garden they’ve got just outside the gate of the temple. It seemed a right comfortable place, and they offered to train me up better than my old tutor, but I had to decline. There’s no booze, no meat, and the monks are all celibate. I didn’t stick around long.
So if you find yourself on the trails between Yung Zhi and Monsoon, keep your eyes open for Three Finger Rock. It’ll be right easy to find the temple and the monks’ll be happy to serve you up a salad and some nice clean water. Don’t try to push them around, though. Even their failures make a name for themselves in the Five Cities.
Submitted by Fraser Ronald