The Heavenly Bridge of Xiangyu
Updated: Oct. 26, 9:58 p.m.
This island is a canonical part of the DINO-PIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND setting. You can still edit it, but aware that the admins may revert your changes if they don't align with the overall vision of the setting.
A river fortress built on a spirit-haunted island, this place is home to powerful family of magicians and sages.
Components in this Island
The Heavenly Bridge of Xiangyu is a city, perched at the mouth of a slow, silt-filled river. The city reaches across the mouth of the river, partially on one side, partially on the other, and partially right in the middle.
Xiangyu was originally an unassuming little fishing village on the south bank of the Crayfish River. The woods nearby were home to an enormous python, big enough to crush a full-grown T-Rex in its coils, but the great serpent never came down to the water, so life seemed safe enough. Sacrifices were offered to the creature, and it took no notice of the little village.
The island mid-stream came to be called “The Bridge”. There were great ruins there, but none of the fisher folk ventured near. They believed the place was a bridge to the spirit world, and anyone who went there would be taken up, never to be seen again, or else possessed by wicked spirits and sent back to the village to do evil. Those who dared to venture The Bridge and return were often killed by their fearful families.
As for the north shore, in those days it was rarely visited. Marshy and home to poisonous invertebrates, there was nothing there worth seeking.
Little changed for centuries. And then, thirty years ago, the eunuch sorcerers launched their coup against the Jade Throne, casting the mighty Empire into chaos and bloodshed. Many cities and families were destroyed in the subsequent wars, including the famous Heavenly Bridge of Xiangyu, a mountain fortress where the loyal Yu family had attempted to resist the sorcerers and their heartless armies.
The glorious spire-topped castle was cast down, and only a tiny band of Yu retainers escaped with their leaders. Having nowhere else to go, the entire Empire now overrun by their enemies, the uprooted family fled to these tropical islands, seeking a home. They found Crayfish village, and the strange ruins known as the Bridge.
The Yu family were reknowned for their skills at Heavenly Medicine, that strange art of communicating with the dead, of reading signs and aligning energies. When they heard of the ruins and rumours of the Bridge at the Crayfish River, they brought their household there and wasted no time establishing themselves on that haunted islet and building a high-walled fortress there.
They must have reached some sort of accord with the wicked spirits that dwelt there, for while the villagers’ dread of the Bridge has never abated, the town has flourished since the arrival of the Yu. The Bridge is now a well-fortified castle, and the swamps to the north have been drained and a walled town built there, guarded by two stout forts known as Harbour Fort and Three Mountains Fortress, which keep interlopers at bay, both by sea and by land.
The fisher-folk still live on the south bank, along with a great many poor and hopeful folks who have come to the Heavenly Bridge of Xiangyu either seeking their fortune with the wealthy and powerful Yu family, or else to supplicate these famous dealers in spirits and energies for help in their troubles. The north bank is home to the wealthy, the relations and household of the Yu family themselves. Known as Silver Town, built on the once-shunned marshes, the streets here are paved with close-fitting flagstone and any troublemakers are quickly dealt with by the Silver Guard.
As for the Yu family themselves, they live on the Bridge, where strange lights are still heard and strange voices still rise up in inhuman chorus. No outsiders are permitted to remain within the walls of the great fortress after dark, where dozens of temples and shrines line the processional streets. But whatever happens within the Heavenly Bridge, no outsider may say.
Map by Dyson Logos — Thanks!
At a distance from the huddled, ramshackle dwellings of Crayfish Village, this cheery edifice rings with music and laughter at all hours. There is no sign out front, but rising from the ground just before the front door stands a curious white pillar as high as a man’s waist. Its top is jagged, and it plunges downward to the ground in a smooth curve, narrowing as it nears the ground.
It is a gigantic fang — or at least, so claims the owner of this inn, Cedric Bowlans. The nearby forest known as Serpent Wood was once (or perhaps is still) home to an immense creature, from whose jaws this fearsome tooth was wrenched by parties unknown.
The Serpent’s Tooth serves as town hall, rest house, entertainment and meeting place for the wealthy and desperate alike of Crayfish village. Yu householders are often found here, usually masked to keep their identities secret, but no other place near the Heavenly Bridge can offer the amusements found at the Tooth.
Half Imperial tea house, half bawdy pirate tavern, the Tooth is a sprawling collection of buildings within a walled enclosure, shrouded by spreading banyan trees and separated by well-tended gardens, with pools and streams and ornamental shrines found throughout. The main building, right in front, is broad and mostly taken up by a boisterous common room ringed with two levels of balconies. Many infamous duels have been fought here, to the great amusement of the attendants. There are dancing stages and music always playing, and the back of the room looks out onto a wide pool, with the other buildings ringed around.
Other buildings include more private rooms for large or intimate gatherings, suites and rooms for rent by the night or the week (or the hour), and a couple of specialized buildings for music or dance performances.
Cedric Bowlans claims to have been an admiral in the Imperial Navy, to be one of the few survivors of the Battle of Luyon Bay. He arrived here a couple of decades ago, and has been building and expanding his infamous pleasure house ever since.
Twenty-five years ago, led by Master Yu Chen-Pao, the Yu family and their householders came to Crayfish Village and set up camp on the long-shunned island known as the Bridge. The family itself numbered about forty, and their household retainers another several hundred. Over the years, the number of retainers has grown to nearly a thousand, while the family has added another couple dozen to its ranks.
The Yu Family had been famed throughout the Empire for their knowledge and wisdom, especially as pertained to matters of Heavenly Medicine and they were often sought out as advisors and physicians to the great nobles of the Empire. Their legendary fortress home had once housed many ancient scrolls of healing wisdom and secret power, now almost all destroyed in the battle that cost the family their home and their position in the Empire.
They restablished themselves on the Crayfish River and built a new Heavenly Bridge of Xiangyu here with what little they could salvage from the battle. Their wisdom and power is now available, for a price, to those who seek it, but the family is difficult to deal with and suspicious of all outsiders. Negotiations are handled through assorted functionaries, and most services require steep payments — usually in the form of lost scrolls or artifacts once sacred to the family and their ancestors.
Those who balk at the prices are many, but those who attempt to cheat the family are few — and those few always suffer unpleasant fates. The Yu family possesses many terrible secrets, and they have inhuman servants to take revenge upon those who displease them.
Since coming to Crayfish, and re-establishing this haunted place as the new home of the Heavenly Bridge of Xiangyu, things seem to have improved for the family. The younger family members have no memory of their ancestral home, and have little of their elders’ burning fire for vengeance against the eunuch sorcerers now ruling the Empire. This is not the only divide between the young and the old in this family, however. The children born here are strangely touched, in ways that no one in the family dares to speak of. Their eyes shine with too much wisdom, and their tastes run to unseemly pleasures. They spend much time clustered silently on the walls of the family fortress, or hovering in the endless lanes of temples and shrines that fill the castle walls. The dark voices of the local spirits speak to them, or so it seems, and their parents fear what these voices are saying.
Patriarch of the Yu family, the elderly Master Yu Chen-Pao dresses in pale blue robes and keeps his long white hair in beautifully brushed straight locks, hanging down past his knees. His thin moustache hangs long as well, blending into his long beard. Bright eyes flash fiercely in his lined face and even at his age, the Master is alert and spry.
Master Yu Chen-Pao spends his days in ritual observance, carrying as he does the weight of the Yu family’s ancestors, and the shame of having fled their ancient home in the mountains of the Empire. He travels between the dozens of tiny shrines and temples that fill the newly-raised Heavenly Bridge of Xiangyu , performing the rituals that propitiate the spirits, and that perpetuate the eternal rounds of glory that are the Yu family’s share of history.
It was Chen-Pao who chose this site as the new home of the Yu family. Hearing rumours of ancient spirits, he investigate, cast many auguries, and determined that if he could forge an alliance with the strange powers gathered here, his family’s future would be assured. He embarked with his entire household for Crayfish village.
Those first nights spent on the Bridge were wild ones, as terrifying spirit creatures did their best to dissuade and even destroy the interlopers. This island had once been sacred to a terrible people, and unholy sacrifices performed here had soaked the earth with dark energies.
Exactly how Master Yu Chen-Pao reached an accord with these inhuman powers is a mystery to all, even to his closest family members.
There are no mountains anywhere near the sturdy fortress called Three Mountains Fortress. This castle is named for the ninja clan that resides here — the Three Mountains Clan who have always served the Yu family and defended the original Heavenly Bridge of Xiangyu . They are a rough-and-tumble clan of hard-drinking, hard-fighting ninjas who are considered crude bumpkins by many of the more sophisticated clans. Drawn mostly from the mountain tribes, they dress in colourful furs and do not resemble most people’s ideas of ninja at all.
Master Lamsung is known as a brutal teacher, who even in his old age is feared by his students. It is said he spends an hour every morning punching the stone walls of the fortress, and that he has to move from one location to another, or else his blows will eventually crack the massive rocks.
Three Mountains ninjas fight with simple staves, or just their fists — Master Lamsung spurns expensive, fancy weapons, and seeks to train his students to be lethal no matter what resources they find at hand. The people of Xiangyu have learned to leave the unkempt warriors of the Three Mountains Clan alone.