About a week's travel north of RhyDin City lies a mountain range named after its central and tallest peak, Mount Yasuo. Mount Yasuo has long been a place of mystery and intrigue. It is famous for its natural vistas, steep and narrow paths, precipitous crags, high plateaus, and deep valleys. The Yasuo Range is also home to four secluded temples, each located upon one of four mountains surrounding the Mount Yasuo.
The Yasuan way of living is simple. They spend their days striving to perfect their skills of mind, body, and spirit. These are enlightened warriors that have mastered the ways of unarmed and armed combat — and also the mystical chi.
Centuries ago, Anura Khan sought to conquer the known world. Most of the northeastern continent had fallen under his hunger for power. He had a vast army of barbarian warriors, fearsome war engines, and many wizards at his command. On his way to RhyDin City, he chose Mount Yasuo as his next conquest.
A man named Kalfyi San lived on Mount Yasuo, and knew of the threat coming to his city. One of the greatest minds of the time, Kalfyi was a philosopher, sage, poet, inventor, and wizard. He knew that Yasuo's small army was no match for Anura Khan's horde. He gathered eight of the best wizards, and together they built nine towers: one on each of the five peaks and the four plateaus between them. Through these towers, Kalfyi San channeled the power of himself and his brother wizards to create the great Barrier to protect the entire Yasuo Range. Thus the Circle of Nine was born.
Upon reaching the mountains, Anura Khan's army was unable to penetrate the Barrier. The war engines failed to even operate. Angered by this turn of events, he ordered his wizards to destroy the Barrier. During this magical battle, the Nine Wizards made the ultimate sacrifice; they imbued their power directly into the towers to generate a massive wave of mystic power that destroyed Anura Khan, his wizards, and most of the invading army.
Imbued with power, the towers are still maintained and replenished every generation by a new wizard of the Circle — sworn to protect Mount Yasuo and the Yasuan way of life.
In its passive state, the Barrier is merely a ward that prevents other wizards from teleporting directly into the range. The closest a wizard may teleport is a half day's walk away. The energy emanating from the towers also causes machinery and other advanced technology to malfunction in proximity to the Barrier, and to completely stop functioning within it.
Although one can see Mount Yasuo and its range from a great distance, it takes about a week's overland travel north from RhyDin City to get close to this place of mystery and intrigue. It is known best for its natural beauty and the unique events that led to the special nature of the area.
The Yasuo range itself snakes across the northern plateau with peaks and valleys rich in beauty and steeped in mystery. Part of the range is rocky, part is forest covered with great trees that stretch heavenward. Animals are plentiful in this area of RhyDin — from smaller game like rabbits, squirrels, deer, and elk, to various forms of non-predatory fowl, to larger predators like wolves, mountain lions, larger species of snakes, bears, and various forms of hawks, eagles, and other predatory birds.
The Barrier of the Circle of NineEdit
The most unique landmark in the area is the Circle of Nine: the sentinel towers that reside on five perimeter peaks and four sister plateaus. Each tower is rich in magic and a cornerstone to the Barrier that protects the land even today. The Barrier interferes with the operation of mechanisms and technology; also, magical transportation cannot pass through, but is instead redirected to a distance of half a day's walk outside the Barrier.
Although mechanical and technological gadgets may be carried by an individual, these items are rendered useless once the Barrier is penetrated. Magical beings, although unable to penetrate the Barrier directly, can take their magic with them to use while visiting within the Circle.
The only way to penetrate the Barrier of the Circle of Nine is overland. Once through the magical shield, many visitors travel to one of the Towers of the Circle of Nine. For those visitors who do not wish to travel the three days it would take to reach the largest village, the magicians who reside within the Towers are usually willing to assist by transporting visitors magically to within a half a day's walk of the village.
The largest village in the range is named Jenli, three days journey overland after the traveler passes through the Barrier of the Circle of Nine. There are many well-traveled paths that wind through the land — some leading to the village, others leading to scenic vistas, through the bamboo forest, and to popular waterfalls. The village itself is a sprawling tangle of single story homes, shops, and farmland.
A large overland archway made of bamboo and crafted with fine carvings straddles the path that leads into the village. Sentries, both seen and unseen, watch the visiting travelers as they pass. The local swordsmith is almost always at his forge, working the metals in the way of his ancestors to provide high quality weapons for battle and ornament. Within the trees over a hill lies the Temple of Kalfyi San: a temple built by his ancestors in ages past.
Life in Jenli is simple. It involves working the land, gathering the fruits of labor, and seeking perfection in every action through practice and meditation. There are tradesmen and monks, mages and commoners. The village knows peace and respects honor. On many a night, people gather in the Ivory Lotus Pavilion to exchange stories, rice wine, and mead.
Mount Yasuo is protected by the Barrier of the Circle of Nine. Because of this, the village of Jenli knows a certain peace. However, the village is not wholly dependent upon the magical protection of the Barrior. Jenli has other defenders as well; there are swordsmen and there are mages. Each group is skilled and dedicated to give their lives to defend the peace that Jenli enjoys. Studying defensive arts are as critical to the village as is the swordmaker, the baker, and the farmer. Each supports the other in their own way. Perfection is sought not only in the casting of spells or the arc of a sword during attack, but also in everyday life in the way tea is poured, a line is drawn, clothing is worn, and a fire is built. Every member of the village has a perfection to seek.
The Hou Yi is one of the schools of magic that are meticulously studied in the Temple of Kalfyi San. Advanced students are allowed to reside in one of the four temples and pursue specific disciplines of magic. From the advanced students, future teachers are chosen. Some advanced in the way of magics tend to the Towers of the Circle of the Nine. Each generation produces the One, the single soul given the honor of renewing the Barrier of the Circle of the Nine. Stories are told and songs are sung to name those who have joined the Barrier. It is an honor beyond honor to be the One.
For those who do not follow the path of the Mage but prefer the edge of a blade, the Rashomon Swordsmen are the most respected of the warriors in the land. They are often found in the Daichi Arena, teaching and learning in a communal exchange of knowledge and skill. Hisao, the eldest of the Rashomon, oversees the activities and does not accept failure in any form. The use of the sword, the bow and arrow, the staff, and hand to hand fighting is strictly taught to all students showing the will and talent required.