Shen Zhou Twilight
The Burning Brand Brigade
When Huojin left the Hell Clan, he first had to deal with his elite squad of handpicked psychopaths. Given to him as a birthday gift, the Burning Brand Brigade was originally his father’s plaything. When Huojin inherited the title of Burning Brand, his father said, it was only right that he inherit the latest incarnation of the team that went with the title.
By tradition, the Brigade has five members, including the Burning Brand. Huojin killed all of them prior to departing Hell Clan territory, or so he thought. When he last saw them, the members of the Brigade were:
Wan-Fu, the Broken Wheel Scholar – White A crazed inventor and self-described genius, Wan-Fu was promoted within the Hell Clan for his diabolical inventions more than anything else. The only downside to Wan-Fu’s brilliance is his utter insanity. When once he was asked to design a siege engine that would break the walls of a city, he instead designed a device that reduced the entire city to ashes- without telling anyone else beforehand. He was sent to the Burning Brand Brigade as much so that the others could keep a careful eye on him as to support their work.
Huojin had little difficulty dispatching Wan-Fu when he betrayed the Hell Clan. He simply asked the mad inventor to give him a weapon that would incapacitate any foe, turned it on Wan-Fu himself, and then cut him into pieces.
Wan-Fu was last seen headless, falling into a pit of lava.
Gongzhou, the Granite Bluff Warrior – Jade Although he does not appear to be so, Gongzhou is one of the strongest hand to hand martial artists in all of Shen Zhou. Over sixty years old, he appears to be little more than wizened old man who relies mostly on his cane to get around and his minders to describe what’s in front of his blind eyes. In truth, he is nearly blind from old age… but the cane is pure affectation. In battle, the Granite Bluff relies more on his chi senses than on his eyes, and can destroy most armor (and most men) with a single hammer-handed strike. Opponents find their swords break on his impenetrable skin, their arrows bounce off of him, and all too soon they have been lifted and snapped like twigs.
Knowing that Gongzhou’s defenses were too formidable to defeat in a fair fight, Huojin attacked Gongzhou before any of the others. Taking him out alone in a fishing boat, he tied the old man’s legs to two casks of rocks and then pushed the casks over the side. The martial artist stayed afloat for nearly ten minutes even so fettered, forcing Huojin to fight him until he became exhausted and drowned.
Li, the Frozen Fang Warrior – Silver A swordsman who proved to be nearly Huojin’s equal, Li was an upstart in the Hell Clan who believed that the titles and honor given to Huojin by birth should rightfully have been his. For weeks after he learned that he was to be denied what he desired, he plotted to prove his worth by killing Huojin. He was therefore only somewhat surprised when Huojin burst into his chamber and attempted to kill him. The two settled their grudge in a single stroke, which left Li dead and Huojin grievously injured. He was forced to flee Hell Clan territory without killing his father as he had intended.
Li Na, the Bloody Honey Courtier – Gold Some days after he had fled Hell Clan territory, Huojin was still nursing his wounds when he was discovered by the first assassin the Clan had dispatched to kill him. Although he had known Li Na for months, he failed see past her perfect disguise as an innkeeper on the merchant road where he was traveling. He paid for a room and there slept to recover his strength for another day of flight away from the Hell Clan. It was only his discovery of the true innkeeper garroted and thrown down the inn’s well that alerted him to Li Na’s presence. When she brought him some nourishing borth, he forced her to eat it instead. After she was done choking to death on her own tongue, he threw her corpse down the well to join the previous innkeeper and went on his way.