The Humble Bindings of Shen Yu
The Humble Bindings of Shen Yu
Wondrous item, rare (requires attunement)
These four long cloth strips are imbued with the wisdom of the Shen Yu, the Great Sage Equal of Heaven. When wrapped around forearms and calves they allow the wearer to draw upon their own abilities to achieve great feats.
A character attuned to the humble bindings may choose to use a Dexterity (acrobatics) check in place of Strength (Athletics) when climbing or jumping, and may use their dexterity score instead of strength to determine jumping distance. In addition, the attuned character adds their proficiency modifier to their ability score when determining jumping distance.
The humble bindings enhance the wearer’s own reservoir of inner strength. As a bonus action the wearer may regain a number of expended ki points equal to half his or her monk level. Once used this action may not be used again until dawn the next day.
A great Emperor who rose from nothing vowed that his own son, raised amidst unimaginable wealth, would not be ignorant of the great Emperor’s humble beginnings.
The Emperor ordered that a boy from a nearby orphanage spend his days as a playmate for the little prince. The two boys became very close friends.
Trained by the monks who ran the orphanage, Shen Yu, the orphan now a grown man, became a master and venerated sage, recording his wisdoms and techniques in the Jade Scrolls and teaching them to select students. The little prince begged Shen Yu to open his school to the Emperor’s bodyguard, newly created after an attempted assassination. But Shen Yu said no. The contents of the Jade Scrolls were for the humble students of his school; their wisdom and strengths could not be trusted to men of power.
As the years passed, the little prince would regularly reiterate his request, always with grander inducements, but each time Shen Yu quietly refused him. However, the little prince’s position was tenuous and his paranoia grew, unfettered by rationality. His rule became brutal and cruel.
Finally after yet another refusal, the little prince, now an aged Emperor, ordered the arrest of Shen Yu and his students for sedition. The school was seized and the students either killed or exiled. When the now aged monk still refused the little prince’s pleas, even in the face of invocations of their childhood friendship, the Emperor ordered his execution. Shen Yu was mummified and given a royal funeral.
The Emperor’s guards searched the school exhaustively before burning it, but they never found the Jade Scrolls, which contained the infinite wisdoms of Shen Yu, and instructions in his deadly fighting arts.
A year later, the Emperor’s agents captured an student of Shen Yu’s school. The ancient Emperor visited the tomb of his old friend to gloat but found only an empty sarcophagus.
Rumours spread. Shen Yu had evaded death and sought exile in distant lands. His students had taken the body on a moonless night to a hidden monastery in the dry southern lands or the frozen north. The Jade Scrolls themselves had been used as the holy stuffing of the old monk’s mummy.
The ancient emperor ordered the simple student tortured and his screams recorded. From them he pieced together a broken copy of the Jade Scrolls, which he gave to the masters of his terrible bodyguard.
Centuries passed and stories about the monk’s ultimate fate would surface now and then. Though varied and fantastic, one story in particular appeared more regularly than others. The contents of the Jade Scrolls, now themselves long gone, had been written down on the humble hand and foot wrappings of Shen Yu. Wearing these wraps and studying the inscriptions would confer some of Shen Yu’s infinite wisdoms and incredible skill. Legends abounded from all parts of the world, of low men and powerful women finding the wraps and using their power for immense good or foul evil. But none were substantiated.