Shen Zhou Twilight
Story: The Curse of the Clapping Town
The Case of the Clapping Town (Learning 25, Expert Skill Acting 20) – 0 Destiny
(Portrait of the South, Side Quest)
It is said that in the South there are towns that have a competition every year, not of the martial arts, but of the performing. In the Town of Silent Hand, a curious report has come from an anonymous source who once journeyed through there – “A competition of noteworthy works, but a curious fate to those who stay the night!”
An old man was said to speak to a group of travelers upon their witnessing a group of people who had been driven seemingly irreparably mad in their jubilations, clapping and cheering until their muscles and voices gave out and they fell unconscious from said jubilations. This happened after watching two of three plays: a dramatic recitation of what would later become the Story of the Red Room, and one of the prototypical stories for the Tale of the Monkey King.
First, it was the vote which was cast by Huojin, the Burning Brand, which appeared to terrify the titular actor of the Tale of the Monkey King. This apparently had such a profound effect that amidst the cheers and jubilations of the crowd in the inn they had stayed at, the man promptly attempted to flee the town before hyperventilating and passing out in the hands of Huojin, who had tracked him down.
Curious that two of the three lead actors of their respective plays were from out of this town – one, a scholar/courtier from the cities, found himself caught up in what could only be a curse, while the other, a woman from a town nearby, escaped such a fate.
The old man had this to say:
“It begun long enough ago that even I was not born when this curse was first recorded; there would always be three plays, and great works of literature would spawn from the actors and actresses who came to tell their stories, however it was as if a certain Demon spurred them onwards, and their crowds to maddening heights. Perhaps it was out of fear that people would come to attend these plays once a year, or curiosity – come the following day, there was always someone who cast the vote that drove the locals into a frenzy.
“Others say it is an old wives’ tale, but they have no yet experienced such a thing. This town bears its name in heavy irony, for who knows what truly drives people to suffer this curse? It is prosperous, and perhaps this is the way that the land commands its workers to honor it. The spirits…They cause the people of the town to forget, yet outsiders like you and me, they will remember the deeds and works, and the acts themselves were spread.
“Funny, isn’t it? People die from these celebrations. They have tried to stop them before, you know – the regional Prefect came with an army to hold and bound the townsfolk during one year long ago. It was terrible – one man’s body twisted itself until there was naught but the arms flailing, the head and spine broken. A woman shouted at the top of her lungs til she vomited blood, after which it was said her tongue shriveled and fell out of her mouth, a blackened husk…”
“What say you, travelers? What do you think of this particular curse?”
- Discovery: Generated by a supernatural entity of some kind such as a ghost.
- Discovery: Generated by mundane means causing the curse, such as a memetic trick.
- Discovery: Generated by something entirely different? GM Fiat.