Serial Setting 2 ~ Week 5

The Casting Shadows blog’s second Serial Setting is set to run once a week over a six-month period, and provide details for heroic pulp adventures set across the Korean peninsula, present a fictionalized community oppressed by faceless enemies and their own countrymen, and suggest routes, leads, and hooks for GMs to entice groups based elsewhere in the world to get involved. This post begins the second month of entries.

5 The Temple – Martial Monks and Machine Guns

As with most communities on the peninsula, the local temple is located in the hills outside the boundaries of the village itself. Although many smaller homes in town have been repurposed for the use of monks and other religious figures of varying degrees of honesty and integrity, the real temple is in the hills. This temple has the unusual name of Triangle Temple, or Samgak Sa due to its atypical construction. Neither round, nor rectangular as custom and convenience dictates, the temple is built like a wedge in a cleft in the stone of the largest mountain north of town. While not a small temple, its unusual design has inspired the monks to be creative in their use of space, their method of conducting rites and ceremonies, and had an influence on their thinking.

The front of the temple has a commanding view of the harbours of Samhang, and from this ear-popping elevation the Dragon`s Coils appear as a malevolent and shadowy wave warring with the wave crests and curls from below the surface of the sea. The temple is able to maintain a large enough garden to sustain its small community of monks, but has no permanent facility for living spaces nearby. The monks have made chambers for themselves on a higher plateau slightly more than an hour`s hike further up the mountain, with a view over the ocean to the West.

Behind the temple lie caves, guarded by stone figures the size of full-grown men, with one fist raised in a defensive gesture up at the side of the head, and the other fist in an aggressive posture, down by the hip. Their faces are frozen snarls, with fierce eyes. Inside the caves lay twisting tunnels, the echoes of streams which no one can find, and the coldness of the grave itself. Over the centuries, the monks have painted murals and mysteries on the tunnel walls, and many choose to lose themselves both physically and mentally for weeks at a time in the caverns. It is said that if wisdom can be stolen from the world, it can be done so in the caves of Samgak Sa. The site, coincidentally, is one of many that claim to be the very place where Bodhidharma sat staring at a stone wall for a period of nine years. Most scholars agree this exercise took place in one of several disputed places in China. These claims do not disturb the equanimity of the monks of Samgak Sa one iota. They are not that attached to the need to be right, nor to prove that they are.

The oppressors toy with threats and the idea of burning the temple to the ground, but so far have contented themselves with looting the place of its treasures and many of its records. The monks have simply set about replacing them. The oppressors have also toyed with the idea of ridding themselves of the potential trouble the monks could cause, but again have yet to move to violence or imprisonment on this front. The monks say nothing, but continue to train their bodies as rigorously as they train their minds. They do not perceive themselves as a threat, nor do they feel that the matters of the town below are truly their concern. They have their eyes on goals of a different sort.

He Who Serves – Monk, linen cleaner, farmer, protector of butterflies

He Who Serves was born with a name, but as a part of his path to enlightenment has shed his name, and his sense of self. He spends most of the day in meditations both physical and mental, and would be totally surprised, but not at all interested to learn that his physical skills may make him one of the most deadly men on the peninsula in single combat. He trains tirelessly to be tireless, and has achieved this to a great extent. He takes great pains to inure himself to pain, and has taught his body to be numb to pain, but embrace pleasure. His mind rejects fear and doubt, and each day he is subjected to challenges which have every chance of killing him. He has yet to die in this, but accepts that he will. To him, that is just one more step in a longer journey.

He Who Serves spends his free time in the tall grasses on the slopes of the mountains sowing kindness wherever he can. Usually, this means aiding the creatures of the Earth, but from time to time, it involves the people of the village. One can never be certain when a kind word, a hot cup of tea, a cord of chopped wood, or an elegant painting will find a way to lift a broken spirit. More often, a swept floor, a repaired gate or shutter, or the disappearance of a leak in the roof will announce that He Who Serves has been there and lent a hand.

It makes a person wonder… with all the atrocity in the world now…  what will it take to goad men like He Who Serves into action? What will be lost when they do?

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  1. […] In the cruel and difficult to traverse mountains to the north of Samhang a small band of resistance fighters who use the symbol of the Dokaebi as their emblem has established what is currently a secret base of operations. Located in small green pocket nestled between the shoulders of some particularly inhospitable mountains which are sided by loose rock and home to the few remaining venomous snakes and spiders on the peninsula, the valley’s entrance is a secret guarded jealously by the resistance and the only people they trust: the monks of Samgak Sa. […]



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