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Thread: The Forbidden City The City Of Disillusionment (幻滅紫禁城)

  1. #341
    Senior Member skoo78's Avatar
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    Although I still have some catching up to do in reading your story, I do enjoy your "Author's Notes" sections. It's a great idea to have a discussion regarding certain topics to your chapters.

    **And you are not alone. I am past the Age of the Falling Plum Blossoms too. but I'm glad we do not live in Ancient China where women were oppressed (although I still see it happening today around the world). but thank you and will catch up.
    Sim neej aws...

  2. #342
    Senior Member charbydis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skoo78 View Post
    Although I still have some catching up to do in reading your story, I do enjoy your "Author's Notes" sections. It's a great idea to have a discussion regarding certain topics to your chapters.

    **And you are not alone. I am past the Age of the Falling Plum Blossoms too. but I'm glad we do not live in Ancient China where women were oppressed (although I still see it happening today around the world). but thank you and will catch up.
    Hi skoo78! Thanks for reading! I started writing the author notes as I find these tidbits help the audience create a better mental picture of the setting and plot, which sometimes just cannot described with mere words. Also, I hope to include meanings of common idioms to let us modern people understand how ancient people think and thus acted as a consequence.

    I have always loved stories about Ancient China, whether wuxia or just plain historical. In modern society, we are taught to be individualistic and focus on our own needs and desires. Yet in ancient China, people were bound by social hierarchy and Confucian teachings which were above self. It can be odd in how ancient parents dictated over their children's entire lives, and how loyal subjects knew that the Emperor was an idiot yet had to be bound to him in honour and duty til death. Modern people would have gotten out of these dilemmas quite easily by stepping down and running away, but ancient people just could not. Such restrictions in their daily lives created many tragedies, yet stimulated a romantic feelings in these ancient stories as people lives and died for honour, country, family and vengeance.

    Yeah. I guess we modern females in developed are lucky to have such freedom in the choice of marriage. We have the ability to be financially dependent whether we stay single, get married or get divorced, and thus are less affected by the opinions of other people. Still, society categorises us into stereotypes and judges us for what they perceive us to be, not for who we are. It sickens me to hear of child brides and polygamy in less developed countries, where men still dictate all. I am not against listening to dad's suggestion, but only if it makes sense. I think learning about history is important, as without the past, there will not be today. Let's hope the world learns from its past mistakes and together, we create a better future.

    Anyhow, thanks for reading and leaving a comment. Hope you catch up soon. The story will have a few twists in the upcoming chapters.
    "Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self."
    Cyril Connolly

  3. #343
    Senior Member charbydis's Avatar
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    Default Book One: The Fist Of Domination (權傾天下)

    Chapter Sixty-Six:

    Cast of Appearing Characters:

    Lau Gan - Gilbert Lam Wai Sun
    Empress Dowager Cheung/Cheung Sin - Akina Hong Wah
    Law Cheung - Deno Cheung Chung Chi
    Emperor Ching Dak/Chu Hau Chiu - Matt Yeung Ming



    Law Cheung sipped his tea casually as two of his eunuchs continued to repeatedly slap a petite woman, who was forced to kneel down and accept this punishment. Though fragile looking, the woman was resilent and would not say a single word to relieve herself of this suffering.

    Law Cheung held up a hand and the two eunuchs stopped immediately. Walking slowly over to the woman, he forcefully lifted her face up to meet his gaze. Both cheeks were swollen and bruised; a small stream of blood was dripping down from the side of her mouth. But still, her mouth remained sealed as her reddened bloodshot eyes glared at the eunuch with hatred.

    Why put yourself through such humiliation and pain, my Lady? Surely you were not born to endure this type of pain? persuaded Law Cheung with a smile upon his face.

    Squeezing her face tight between his fingers, he forced her to look into a mirror that the euncuhs held up. Look at how your delicate skin is now imprinted with patches of red and purple! How much more can it endure? Is what you hide worth it? Supreme Commander Lau only wants your answer. Just say the word we want and this affliction wil be no more?

    Empress Dowager Cheung wrestled her face out of his grip. Four hours ago, she was forcibly removed from the Palace of Prolonged Radiance and brought to this empty chamber for interrogated. She knew exactly what they wanted but that was exactly what she would not give them.

    In her soft yet firm voice, she replied, There is no greater humiliation than to have lowly servants rise up and above their masters. I am the Empress Dowager the mother of the Emperor. You are nothing but a lowly eunuch, a servant of the palace. I will only speak to you when I want to. Tell Lau Gan he can have my life but not my dignity!

    Law Cheung leaned in close as the smile disappeared from his face. She was frightened but she held her ground and did not flinch. Dignity? Oh! I see what you mean. I often forget what it is because we eunuchs dont have that - dignity. Isnt it right, my Empress Dowager?

    Circling the fragile woman with his steps, he continued in a calm voice, You noble ladies are so much more precious than us lowly servants, are you? Born into riches and luxury, you entered the Forbidden City at the age of sixteen, destined to lead life without a worry in the world! Of course you can afford to talk about dignity! But not us!

    Law Cheungs voice suddenly exploded with an outburst of emotions. Grabbing her hair roughly in his hand, he shouted in her face, Us, eunuchs are destined to be lowly, to be humble and to be dispensable. Born into indescribable poverty, I entered the Forbidden City as a eunuch when I was only three, looking for a better life only to lead one worse than death. We can be beaten til our backs are red and raw and no one would even bat an eyelid at our deaths. What is dignity, my Lady? Show me!

    Yanking her by the hair, he dragged her over to a large cauldron full of water and submerged her head in it. Is this dignity? Is it?

    Empress Dowager Cheung struggled as she clawed and scratched at Law Cheung, lifting her head to take in short but necessary breaths before having her head plunged into the cold water again.

    With a devilish expression upon his face, Law Cheung bellowed, Tell me, what did you give to the female intruders before they leapt down into the secret passageway? Your maids have already confessed that you handed something in a small purple fabric bag to one of them. Tell me what it was or I will kill you!

    Out of desperation, Empress Dowager Cheung kicked her feet backwards blindly and managed to strike him on the shin. Taking the advantage of the brief moment Law Cheung took to howl with pain, she used both palms to push off from the mouth of the cauldron. The giant ceramic cauldron rolled onto its side with a loud clamour and smashed into millions of little shards. Empress Dowager Cheung dived to the ground before Law Cheung or the other eunuchs could stop her.

    Holding a large pointed shard up to her neck, she said fearlessly, Dignity is not limited to any class. It is not given by others but rather gained by oneself! I am but a weak woman with no martial arts, unable to escape from your evil claws. But I would like to know how much information your torture can get out from a dead body!" Fueled by her determination, the Empress Dowager bravely plunged the shard towards her outstretched neck.

    A single jade bead shot through the air and struck the ceramic shard with a short sharp thud. The jade bead fell and bounced repeatedly off the tiled floor as Empress Dowager Cheungs mouth hung ajar with disbelief as the ceramic shard disintergrated into fine powder in her hands.

    A cold voice resonated in from the doorway. Both life and death within the Forbidden City are controlled by my hands! No one can take their lives unless with my permission!

    Only one person in the world would dare to assert such authority Lau Gan.

    Empress Dowager Cheung quickly search the ground for another shard to end her life but another few jade beads quickly skimmed across the ground, destroying all shards in its path before she could get her hands on them.

    Lau Gan, you traitor! She glared at him with frustration, pointing a condemning finger at him, The true master of the Forbidden City is no one but the Emperor! Did you think that your usurption of power would be permanent? It is only a matter of time before the common people rebel against you to restore natural order and then your life and death will be controlled by others!

    Law Cheung hollered at her If you do not value your life, keep on talking!

    The Empress Dowager laughed out aloud. Since the death of the late Emperor, you have isolated me in the Cold Palace, fearing I would tell the world of your evil deeds. From the minute I found about your true face, I knew that my days were limited. But you dare not take my life because it would alert the Emperor to your secret ambitions. In fact, I dare you to take my life or are you not manly enough to do so? She was not a stupid woman. The only way for the secret to remain undisclosed was to end her life.If she could not do it herself, maybe she could incite another to do the work.

    Lau Gan smiled without any anger at the insult. You think the Emperor would care about your life and death? He has long forgotten that you are his birth mother!

    At the mention of her son, she immediately flew into a rage, You lie!

    Seeing that he had found her weak point, Lau Gan asked, How has it been since you last saw him? Was it since the late Emperors funeral? At least a year and a half ago! Why has he not been to visit you? If he did, then he would have found out that your new residence is in the Palace of Prolonged Radiance and not the Palace of Gracious Longevity where he expects you to be?

    Be quiet! she shouted, clasping both hand over her heads and shaking her head violently to block out his words.

    Within seconds, Lau Gan sped to her side and forced her up onto her feet. Grabbing her by the arm, he said, Let me take you somewhere! and marched his victim out of the room.

    All the eunuchs and maids were stunned at the awkward picture of the all powerful Supreme Commader Lau dragging this struggling wet and dishevelled woman across the palace grounds. But they dared not say a word and could only bow humbly as they passed by.

    Where are you taking me? cried the Empress Dowager weakly. The grip Lau Gan had on her arm was not tight but he had made sure that his fingers were placed over certain acupressure points that numbed her upper body.

    Without looking at her, Lau Gan answered, The Palace of Heavenly Purity!

    The Palace of Heavenly Purity was the residence of the Emperor. Though Empress Dowager Cheung severely missed her son, but how could she let him see her in such a horrid state? Let me go! she screamed and Lau Gan quickly silenced her by sealing some acupressure points.

    Before long, they arrived at the steps of the the Palace of Heavenly Purity and she dug her feet into the steps as they climbed the stairs to the entrance but to no avail. Lau Gan waved and dismissed the guards and they stood before the closed doors.

    Lau Gan pointed to the closed doors and whispered, Listen!

    The Emperor was seated in the empty hall all alone. His clear and youthful voice could be heard loudly from where he was seated.

    You dreadful Mongolians! You are only a fragmented tribe of uncivilised barbarians, uncomparable to the magnificence of the Ming Empire! How dare you pillage and plunder my bordertowns and kill my citizens? As Emperor and Mandate over all these people, it is my heavenly duty to protect and secure my borders and my people! If I allow you to continue your terror, then it would be my failure as the Emperor of the Great Ming Empire to my loyal subjects!

    The Emperess Dowagers heart immediately softened at his words. He had always been a clever child, but only deviated from his ways due to the influence of Lau Gan. But now hearing these words from his mouth, she could not suppress the pride she felt in her son at this very minute. The Great Ming Empire had finally found itself a capable ruler!

    You terrible Mongolians! Let me show you how formidable the army of the Great Ming Empire really is! General Wang, you lead two thousand troops and attack from the south. Other generals will separate into eight different divisions of five thousand calvary and ambush them from all sides! Have no mercy on these bandits on horseback! We must eradicate them to bring greater peace and prosperity to the citizens of the Great Ming Empire!

    Empress Dowager Cheung looked at the closed doors with longing. A thin layer of wood and paper was the only thing separating her from her own flesh and blood. How could a mother not miss her own child? She had spent her ever one of her days in the Cold Palace wondering and worrying about his welfare. Her heart wrenched each time she thought about him. What she would not do to catch a glimpse of her son?

    Immediately, she tried to push open the doors but was held back by Lau Gan. Whispering in her ear, I know you miss your son, and you know what I want! Give me what I desire and I will grant you what you desire!

    Though her heart was moved, Empress Dowager Cheung shook her head stubbornly.

    Lau Gan leaned close. That was your last chance. And he pulled her away.

    Suddenly, he felt her clutch his arm and he turned around to meet her pleading eyes.

    In a low voice, he asked, You will tell me what I want then? With tears brimming in her eyes, she nodded fervently. A mothers love for her son weighed up against a citizens love for a nation a painful dilemma to be in. Who are we to judge her decision?

    Lau Gan smiled with victory as he unsealed her vocal acupressure points. She leaned up onto her toes and whispered the answer in to his ear. With each word, the smile gradually faded from his face and his brows tightened with apprehension. With all things confidently within his grasp, what could make such a powerful man feel troubled?

    Seeing that Lau Gan was momentarily distracted by what she just told him, Empress Dowager Cheung suddenly spun around and pushed open the doors to the Palace of Heavenly Purity.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Author's Note:

    Emperor Ching Dak (Zhengde) was one of the most inefficient emperors of the Ming Dynasty. He came to the throne after years of stability. The wars had been fought and won by his ancestors, and the borders of his vast empire were relatively stable. He had money in the treasury. He had generals and ministers to assist him in his job.

    Emperor Ching Dak was not the worst emperor (no one beats Emperor Tianqi in that category), but was he a good Emperor? Nope! He was not an unintelligent man and was greatly interested in war and military tactics. He had the brains and the resources to make the country even greater than it was, but instead he wasted his reign on fulfilling his own desires. Many people can blame his behaviour on Lau Gan's influence who I admit played a part. But his selfish behaviour got even worse after Lau Gan died. If not for his generals and ministers, the Ming Empire would have toppled many times during his time on the throne.

    As said in previous pages, I have no problems with Emperors who tried and failed; at least they tried. Not everyone is born for the job as the heavenly mandate and every man is flawed and may have turned out better if they another occupation.

    But IMO, Emperor Ching Dak did not even try to do anything for his country. He had the luck that other Ming Emperors did not. Give his luck to Emperor Chongzhen who got stuffed with a crumbling empire rifled with external attacks and internal conflict after his elder brother carked it, I think the outcome of the Ming Empire would have been much different.
    Last edited by charbydis; 09-21-14 at 09:55 AM.
    "Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self."
    Cyril Connolly

  4. #344
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    Thanks Charbydis

  5. #345
    Senior Member charbydis's Avatar
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    Default Book One: The Fist Of Domination (權傾天下)

    Chapter Sixty-Seven:

    Cast of Appearing Characters:

    Lau Gan - Gilbert Lam Wai Sun
    Empress Dowager Cheung/Cheung Sin - Akina Hong Wah
    Emperor Ching Dak/Chu Hau Chiu - Matt Yeung Ming
    Empress Ha - Claire Yiu Kar Nei



    With all her focus upon seeing her son again, Empress Dowager Cheung had forgotten about the tall threshold in the doorways and tripping over her unstable bound feet, she toppled over clumsily face first into the hard tiles lining the hall. Lifting her head, she met the curious eyes of no other than her son the Emperor.

    The Emperor was lying on his belly on the floor with an innocent expression upon his young face at the strange and sudden intrusion. His eyes stayed fixated on this odd middle-aged woman - her hair wet and dishevelled, her face swollen and bruised and her long robes creased and torn. Her eyes were red and brimming with tears but why?
    After much staring, he asked Who are you?

    Thousands of phrases she had planned to tell him spun around in her mind, but yet she was unable to utter a single word.

    Are you mute or dumb, woman? Did you not hear me ask you a question? he asked impatiently.

    Just as she was about say the first word, he suddenly jumped excitedly up onto his feet and pointed to the door. Men! Stop them! They are getting away!

    Empress Dowager Cheung looked around to see what he was going on about and watched motionless as one after another, several large crickets hopped to either side of her and headed towards the doorway.

    The Mongolian Khan! My Generals! My cavalry! My infantry! he shouted with agitation, jumping up and down like a child in a tantrum and chasing them to doorway as they happily bounded to freedom. But there was no one to stop them for Lau Gan had dismissed all the guards.

    "Ah! You! bellowed the Emperor angrily at the woman at his feet. It is all your fault! You caused me to lose all my generals and army! How can I eradicate the Mongolians now? I am going to make sure you get caned for this!

    It was as if a thousand arrows had passed through her heart as the Emperor Dowager realised the truth. The speech of being protecting and securing peace for the citizens for the Ming Empire was no more than a cricket fight! The generals and cavalry and army were no more than characters that he had assigned to the crickets to make his game more entertaining. The devastation and disappointment that plagued her heart was worse than any torture in the world even worse than death.

    Greetings of everlasting longevity, your Majesty! Do not worry about them, I will arrange for better and stronger crickets to be sent to you soon!

    The Emperor spun around and was startled at the sudden appearance of his trusted eunuch behind him. Lau Gan often appeared like this behind him it gave the feeling that he was constantly watched at all hours of the day.

    When did you appear, Lau Gan? he asked, patting his chest to calm himself down.

    Lau Gan smiled and ignoring his question, walked calmly up to Empress Dowager Cheung. Do you not recognise this woman, your Majesty?

    The Emperor stared haughtily down at the mess of a woman and replied with arrogance, I have never seen this woman in my entire life! Who is she?

    Lau Gan bent down and easily helped her up from the floor. She was too emotionally shattered to offer any resistance.

    Surely, your Majesty must recognise the Empress Dowager? said Lau Gan with an evil glint in his eye.

    The Emperor leaned and stared at his mother close up, searching for any signs of familiarity. Heavens! Royal Mother? What happened to you?

    The Empress Dowager came to visit you, your Majesty! replied Lau Gan on her behalf, But she is unwell and tripped over along the way. Would you not ask her be seated, your Majesty? And then you two can have a nice long talk with each other. Lau Gan had known the Emperor since he was a toddler and he knew exactly how he would react.

    Empress Dowager Cheung stretched out her hand towards him and murmured tearfully, My Emperor If only he knew the secrets she was burdened with.

    The Emperor immediately spun around and distanced himself from his mother and quickly ran to his desk at the other end of the hall. Picking up some scrolls, he answered, Well, ... umm Royal Mother, it is nice of you to come and visit me, but I... um I have a lot of petitions to read! Yes, um urgent petitions that I must get through! Why dont you go back to the Palace of Gracious Longevity to ar and I will visit you when I have the time!

    He had always hated talking with both his parents because each conversation they ever had only seemed to end in a boring lecture about what he was doing wrong. They forced him to do study literature and recite doctrines which he disliked and loathed and forbade him from enjoying the luxuries of life. In his mind, the most fortunate thing that ever happened to him was the appearance of Lau Gan, who secretly helped him complete his study tasks and allowed him to amuse himself to his hearts content. He had only one and a half years of continuous peace and freedom after his father had passed away he was not going to ruin it all now!

    Emperor Dowager Cheung gazed up at her son and laughed bitterly. He said those exact words the last time he saw her, after the late Emperors funeral, telling her that he would visit her when he had the time. That was only one and a half years ago. One and a half years was all the time it took for her own flesh and blood to forget her face. If only he had visited her even just once, he would have found out that she had long been banished to the Cold Palace. But he did not.

    Lau Gan bowed his head so that no one could see the confident yet sinister smile upon his face, Do not fret, Your Majesty, I will personally escort the Empress Dowager back to her residence.

    Oh yes! said the Emperor casually, dismissing them a wave of his hand, You and Royal Mother better leave. I am very busy with reading petitions! He quickly flipped the scroll around after realising that he had been pretending to read it upside down, hoping that no one had noticed.

    Just as Lau Gan was about to leave, the Emperor called out, Wait!

    Lau Gan turned around, meeting the excited spark from the young Emperors eyes.

    Is true that the famed Loyal General Yeung Yat Ching escaped from prison last night?

    Lau Gan scowled and quickly briefed the Emperor of the events.

    Damn it! shouted the Emperor angrily, hurling the scroll in his hand angrily at a pillar. The scroll bounced off and landed unrolled upon the floor before the Empress Dowager, revealing the elaborate architectural design of a building equipped with a great hall, many rooms and a large underground dungeon of cages. On top of the design were the clear characters from the Emperors own handwriting - The Panther House.

    I slept through the whole thing! he continued with a sulk, If only I was awake! I would take them all on by myself! Tell me more, Lau Gan! I heard they also desecrated the Royal Mausoleum, the resting place of my royal ancestors. They even stole away the body of Lady Yuen my Royal Grandathers beloved concubine! How dare they?

    Lau Gan paused for a short while before replying. Empress Dowager Cheung cast a sideway glance at him. A glint of unspeakable hatred flashed momentarily in his eyes before it was quickly extinguished, lasting only for a second yet enough to send shudders across her body.

    Yes, your Majesty! replied Lau Gan in a low voice, It is indeed an unforgivable act committed by the rebels. Both factions have already set out in pursuit of the rebels earlier today. In the next few hours, I will personally lead the combined forces of the Battalion of Three Thousand and the Battalion of Tactical Brilliance to join the pursuit. Even if they escape to the corners of the earth, we will find them and punish them for their crimes!

    Great! yelled the Emperor, jumping eagerly to his feet. I will go too! I will lead twenty thousand men and show them the formidability of the Great Ming Empires army!

    Lau Gan forced a smile back upon his face. I am sure all the rebels will tremble at your feet, but you have a much more important task ahead of you!

    Seeing that the youngster stared back at him with a blank look, Lau Gan pointed to the plans of the Panther House and hinted, You have to personally monitor and examine the tribute from the North that will arrive later tonight remember?

    The thought of twenty live exotic panthers and snow leopards arriving for his new leisure centre immediately threw all thoughts of Yeung Yat Ching out of his mind. Up to now, he had only ever seen them as crude drawings in books. Today would be the first he would be able to see their magnificent poise with his own eyes and hear their ferocious roars with his own ears. Deeply immersed in his wild imagination, he hardly noticed that Lau Gan and his mother had long left the building.

    It was a slow walk back to the Palace of Prolonged Radiance for Empress Dowager Cheung as the harsh reality set in. Her son was no longer her son. Had she been wrong to betray the hope of eradicating Lau Gan for a glimpse of the unfilial creature? She knew that with Lau Gans intelligence and resources, he would detect a lie straight away so she had no choice but to surrender the truth. Though her face was expressionless, her heart smiled. She had told Lau Gan the entire truth there was still a small glimpse of hope for the Ming Empire. Only by holding onto that faint sliver of unfailing truth could she find her way out of the darkness that surrounded her.

    Walking behind her with his hands folded behind his back, Lau Gan quietly mocked, You cannot say that I did not keep my end of the bargain. I even offered for you two to spend some time along together but it was your own son who refused. I wonder what you did in the past that would make him rather play with fighting crickets than say one word to his own mother? I wonder why?

    His last few words were spoken with such disdain that each syllable was like a dagger through this mothers heart. One of Lau Gans talents was to stab where it hurt. He mercilessly focussed in on ones weaknesses to intensify their inner pain. It was not enough for him to physically destroy his foes. He wanted them to suffer emotionally as well.

    Empress Dowager Cheung laughed bitterly. It is not what I have done but rather what you have done, Lau Gan that made son turn against his mother! How can you sleep at night?

    I sleep very well, my Lady. replied Lau Gan.

    Oh really, Lau Gan! she asked without turning around to look at him, Has the late Emperor not visited you in your dreams for the past one and half years? I am sure he has good reason to.

    Lau Gan reached forwards and lightly grabbed on the back of her neck, leading her to an abrupt halt. In a low voice, he whispered gently, Your life is like an ant between my fingers, my Lady so is your beloved son. No one in the Forbidden City can live or die without my permission!

    His two fingers compressed two acupressure points at the back of her neck only a little pressure was all it needed to make it painfully hard to breath. But still, she managed to say, The Emperor does not yet know about Lady Kuk being missing, does he? I wonder why, Lau Gan? Are you afraid to let him know and find out that you have imprisoned his own mother in the Cold Palace?

    Lau Gan replied with a smile, If you wanted to know my Lady, why did you not ask the Emperor just then?

    Empress Dowager Cheung laughed despite the pain and hissed, Why would I want to give the Emperor extra crimes to condemn Yeung Yat Ching with? The Emperor is only temporarily blinded by your evil crimes he soon will see the true loyalty and patriotism of General Yeung and that say will be your demise, Lau Gan!

    Lau Gan leaned close and whispered with confidence, That is if the Emperor ever lives that long, my Lady! Once I have attended to the small matter of recapturing Yeung Yat Ching, I will make good use of the information you used passed onto me!

    Empress Dowager! came a distant call and Lau Gan immediately let go. Empress Ha came as quickly as she could on her tiny bound feet with her entourage of maids, which curtsied before Empress Dowager Cheung.

    What a coincidence, Empress! said Lau Gan. I was just escorting the Empress Dowager back to her residence.

    Empress Ha rushed to her mother-in-laws side and grabbed both her cold hands. She had heard that the Empress Dowager had been forcibly taken by some eunuchs from the Cold Palace, she feared for the worst and sent her trusty maids to search for her whereabouts. As soon as she learnt that the Empress Dowager and Lau Gan were spotted heading towards the Palace of Heavenly Purity, she came as soon as she could.

    Supreme Commander Lau, she said with a noble grace, You must be burdened with many important matters of the nation waiting for you to attend to. For such trivial matters of escorting the Empress Dowager back to her residence, why do you not leave it to idle women like me while you carry on with other pressing matters, which I am sure exist after the intrusion to the Imperial Palace last night?

    Empress Ha was not a stupid woman she well knew what was going on with the upset balance of power in the Imperial Court. But she also knew that to go directly confront the most powerful man within the Forbidden City not only meant dire consequences for her, but also her clan. Survival within the Forbidden City was more important than ascertaining right and wrong.

    Lau Gan stared the fake smile on Empress Has face. He understood her true intention. But she was only a puppet Empress that was of no threat to him at all. Why cause a commotion when they was no need to in the first place?

    Very well, my Lady! he replied, Then I thank you of relieving me of this task. I must rush back to the Eunuch Administrative Bureau.

    Empress Ha held a comforting arm around her mother-in-law and took off her own cloak to wrap around her fragile body. Empress Dowager Cheung clasped her daughter-in-laws hand firmly as a token of thanks, but glared at the back of Lau Gan who was walking away.

    Pass on my regards to General Yeung when you see him! she called out after him.

    Lau Gan turned around. Lifting his thumb and forefinger in the air for her to see, he pressed them together as if mercilessly crushing an invisible ant between his fingers. Then with another smile, he left.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Author's Note:

    Other than his wasteful reign , Emperor Ching Dak (Zhengde) was also known for the establishment of Panther Houses (豹房), which are a series of extravagant mansions built within Beijing for the Emperor's enjoyment. In there, he had wild parties and collected many exotic beasts (like panthers , so thus the name) as well as exotic women (some sources says men as well ) for his own pleasure.

    More about this topic later when it comes in to the story.

    Thanks for reading.
    "Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self."
    Cyril Connolly

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    Senior Member charbydis's Avatar
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    Default Book One: The Fist Of Domination (權傾天下)

    Chapter Sixty-Eight:

    Cast of Appearing Characters:

    Suen Nga Yin - Natalie Tong Sze Wing
    Yeung Ming Hung - Kenneth Ma Kwok Ming



    The night winds were harsh and the large group of fugitives settled down in a few uninhabited caves for a few hours of light sleep before another day of travelling. The caves were surrounded by a tall mass of rocks where martial artists took turns in standing guard throughout the night. Any signs of their pursuers and they would have set off immediately.

    It was soon deep into the night and making sure that no one around her was awake; Suen Nga Yin opened her eyes and sat up. She had been conscious since the afternoon but did not alert anyone just in case. The large wound on her back had been carefully bandaged but it still hurt when she moved. However, she needed to go out this very night.

    Kuk Yuen Yau was sound asleep beside her, emitting faint snores that were drowned by the sound of the crackling fire in the middle of the cave. Suen Nga Yin smiled as she tiptoed gently around her sleeping friend and the others out to the cave opening. Staying close to the rock surface, Suen Nga Yin slowly weaved her way clear of the watch guards and out into the opposition direction where the wind was heading.

    Making sure that no one was around, she swiftly leapt upwards and seated herself in the fork of a tree branch. Her hand slithered through the cluster of leaves for a brief moment before retrieving a single leaf in her palm. She evaluated its texture by running her tender fingers along the surface. Only a perfectly smooth and straight leaf with no blemishes could produce the sound she wanted.

    Who would have thought that such clear tones could emit from such a simple and common leaf? Not even the best trumpet maker could manufacture an instrument that produced such unique sounds, yet nature had already beaten him to its creation. It was sitting there all along, yearning to be discovered and its potential be released.

    The soft yet clear melody was carried gently through the night air as Suen Nga Yin waited patiently in her leafy shelter so that person to arrive. It was from that person that she learnt this skill of playing tunes with leaves. This was their secret way of communication. Other than them, no one else who heard the tune would understand its hidden meaning.

    All of a sudden, there was a rustling of leaves nearby. Someone had arrived and was slowly approaching. Suen Nga Yin ducked her head and slowly parted the leafy curtain for a better look when another hand came in contact with hers. She gasped and her heart nearly skipped a few beats as an equally surprised Yeung Ming Hung grabbed her around the wrist.

    Oh! It is you, Miss Suen! You are finally awake! How come no one told me? Yeung Ming Hung Hung cried with a silly grin on his face, What are you doing out here at this hour? You need to rest inside! Let me help you! and reaching out an arm, tried to hoist her onto the ground.

    But she shrunk away and replied, No! I have been lying down for too long and it is stuffy in the cave! I dont want to go back in there so quickly! I want some fresh air! As she moved backwards,

    All right! he relented, But I am not leaving you alone! And without another word, he leapt up onto the branch beside her. Cosy, isnt it? he said awkwardly, looking around from inside the tree with his back hunched. The tiny gaps between the leafy curtain around them let in small fragments of moonlight that highlighted her facial features something that he had never had the time to look at and appreciate until now.

    Ow! He let out a cry of pain as he unwarily straightened his back. The top of his head bumped against a tree branch above them. The top of his hair just protruded from the top of the leafy roof.

    Suen Nga Yin giggled at his clumsiness and moved over to the side to give him more room. Yeung Ming Hung grinned at her innocently as he rubbed his sore head. How could he be so confident and agile in combat yet be so silly when relaxed? It was true what they said there were always many faces to a man, it all just depended on how many you could discover.

    Noticing the golden spear in his hand, she asked, Are you on patrol?

    Yes! he replied swiftly, What is that you have in your hand?

    Oh! This? She opened up her palm and showed him the leaf. I was just playing a tune on this leaf! She quickly demonstrated her hidden skill as he watched her with fascination.

    That is new! he said excitedly, Teach me! Grabbing a leaf from nearby, he blew on it with all its might, but instead emitted a high-pitched squeak.

    Not like that! she giggled, You stick the leaf to your bottom lip and blow gently as if cooling hot tea! And your leaf is the wrong shape!

    Yeung Ming Hung quickly dropped and grabbed another, Is this better?

    Careful! she cried, You are scrunching it! Here! Try this one!

    The pair giggled under the foliage as they shuffled around for the right leaf and Yeung Ming Hung attempted to play the tune. This time, the first note came out perfect but the second note came out something like the call of a crow with a sore throat.

    Suen Nga Yin punched Yeung Ming Hung playfully, who was laughing uncontrollably. Then something heavy dropped out of Suen Nga Yins sleeve and slipped onto the ground.

    Let me get it! shouted Yeung Ming Hung, jumping onto his feet and stooping down to search amongst the tall grass. Suen Nga Yin leaned over to see what was going on but it was too dark. Within minutes, he emerged with his hand held high.

    Here you are! he said, holding up a hairpin out to her.

    Suen Nga Yins eyes widened with disbelief as she stretched out a hand and took the hairpin for a closer look. The hairpin was delicately made. The golden body was crafted in the shape of a slightly arched stem with a simple yet magnificent jasmine flower in full bloom on the end. In the middle of the thin petals sat a marvellous red ruby that sparkled faintly in the moonlight.

    What is it, Miss Suen? asked Yeung Ming Hung who noticed her strange expression.

    With such unique a design, how could she have not recognised the hairpin? Suen Nga Yin paused for a minute before gathering up her voice to stutter, It is a gift from the Emperor!

    For a brief moment under the tree, both had forgotten their own identity. But the mention of the Emperor alerted them both to the fact that one was still the loyal subject of the Ming Empire and the other was a deposed, but nevertheless, the Emperors woman.

    Suen Nga Yin could not hide the disappointment from her eyes as she watched Yeung Ming Hung quickly dropped the leaf in his hand and watched it slowly spin in its descent to the ground. He immediately stepped away from her to maintain a safe distance it was as if an invisible wall had suddenly been erected between them.

    Yeung Ming Hung lowered his head and averted his gaze. He could not let his eyes or any other part of his body or his mind, betray his one and only master The Heavenly Mandate. Then, Lady Suen better keep the hairpin in a safe place from now on. It is a symbol of the Emperor affections for you, My Lady! You must not lose it!

    Suen Nga Yin clenched her fist as she tore her eyes away from Yeung Ming Hung and focussed back onto the hairpin.
    With a hint of irritability in her voice, she explained, It is a gift from the Emperor, but it is not mine! It is Yee Has!

    Yeung Ming Hung immediately looked up. What? Lady Sos? Are you sure?

    She gave him a brief look as if telling him, So you finally dare to look at me? before continuing, I am positive. This ruby belonged to the tribute of jewels from India that arrived in the Forbidden City several months! The Emperor awarded the hairpin to Yee Ha and commanded that she should wear it everyday! She was wearing it the day she was taken by that that man!

    I know! said Yeung Ming Hung as he bit his lower lip, pacing around to help jog his memory, Ning Fung! His name is Ning Fung!

    Yes, him! cried Suen Nga Yin excitedly, But how did it get into my sleeve?

    The two pondered over the matter when suddenly, Yeung Ming Hung shouted out aloud, You remember back at the Forbidden City! We met him just as we were escaping!

    Yes! cried Suen Nga Yin, climbing down grudgingly onto her feet as Yeung Ming Hung faltered upon whether to help her or not. I received a palm from that day! He must have slipped it into my sleeve in the confusion!

    Why did he do that? asked Yeung Ming Hung confused.

    Suen Nga Yin twisted the hairpin in her hand. And then she understood. Yee Ha is alive! The hairpin was a message from Ning Fung! He is trying to give me proof that Yee Ha is still alive!

    However, Yeung Ming Hung was doubtful. Lady So was shot in the back with an arrow! For her to survive, it would have taken constant care and ongoing medical treatment. Ning Fung is a Western Faction agent! This could be a trap by the Western Faction to catch us!

    Suen Nga Yin shook her head. No! It is not a trap! I never understood why out of all people, he decided to attack me that night! I was already injured and he had nothing to gain by severing my injuries when he could have taken the chance to ambush and weaken anyone of you! Choosing to injure me made no sense in his circumstances! Now it all starts to make sense! It was all a front so he could tell me that Yee Ha is still alive without alerting the other agents!

    Yeung Ming Hung gave the idea some thought. So you are saying that Ning Fung may be on our side?

    Suen Nga Yin sighed. I have no idea! But his actions seem to tell us that he is not totally with the Western Faction! Do you not remember the events of the night when we first escaped from the Forbidden City? He could have killed both of us easily within the ravine but he chose not to! Yee Ha tried to drag him to his death but yet he decided to leave with her! He could have shaken her off and let her drop into the ravine but he didnt! Yee Ha must be still alive!

    The theory was slowly settling down in Yeung Ming Hungs mind. Then where will he be keeping Lady So then? Uncle Lungs spies say that there is still no news of her capture!

    Ning Fung must be hiding Yee Ha in a place so secretive that not even Lau Gan is aware that she is still alive! I just hope that the next time we run into Ning Fung, he will give us a hint of her whereabouts! cried Suen Nga Yin hopefully.

    Yeung Ming Hung stepped before her and looked her in the eye. Do you really trust this Ning Fung?

    Other than hope for the best, what else can I replied Suen Nga Yin. She could not finish her words when all of a sudden, she Yin spun around hurriedly and looked towards the hills behind her.

    What is the matter, Lady Suen? asked Yeung Ming Hung worriedly at her sudden behaviour.

    Suen Nga Yins eyes drifted across the width of the hills, as if searching for something. And then her eyes stopped to focus on one spot and her head cocked to one side.

    What is it? What do you see? Yeung Ming Hung stood behind her and tried to see what she was seeing but he saw nothing but trees.

    Suen Nga Yin ignored him for a moment in a trance, before tearing her eyes away from the fixation. Nothing! I think it is getting late! Let us get back to the caves!

    Moving close to his ear, she whispered, After all, you wouldnt want anyone to catch you alone with a fourth-ranked Priveleged Lady and ruin your spotless reputation, would you? Her tone and words were colder than the night winds. Without another look or word, Suen Nga Yin headed off back towards the caves and the guilty Yeung Ming Hung followed behind.

    A white-clad figure stood below a large pine tree in the midst of in the hills, overwatching the valley. Her eyes followed carefully as both figures disappeared from her view before she lowered the leaf between her lips. It was a rare skill to play a tune from a leaf; but an even rarer one to play a tune that no one but one with a trained ear could detect. A white scarf was draped over her head, but even that could not hide the distinctive white hair that hung over her shoulders.

    A tall man stood beside her with both hands clasped calmly behind his back. Standing side by side without looking at each other, the two stared into the distant scenery in total silence. When words no longer offered any comfort or encouragement, silence was probably the best option.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Author's Note:

    Sorry. No facts today.

    I have been lately because my cousin is getting married in two weeks. Will update more later. Cheers.
    "Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self."
    Cyril Connolly

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    Senior Member charbydis's Avatar
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    Default Book One: The Fist Of Domination (權傾天下)

    Chapter Sixty-Nine:

    Cast of Appearing Characters:

    Suen Nga Yin - Natalie Tong Sze Wing
    Yeung Ming Hung - Kenneth Ma Kwok Ming




    The large group travelled hurriedly over long distances in the following few days. For the last several nights, their rest was interrupted as the eunuch factions were closing in the pursuit. Everyone from people to horses were exhausted and fatigued from the constant stress that they hardly talked. Even the good-humoured cheery Brotherhood of the Heavenly Dragons had toned down with their antics as all concentrated on their getaway. The heads of the three major clans, Yeung Yat Ching and Lung Tin Kwun said little words during the day but all knew that they held secretive meeting in the dead of the night, discussing their escape route and plans for the future.

    Ever since Suen Nga Yin regained consciousness, Kuk Yuen Yau noticed that she seemed to be a different person. She was always lost in a trance looking at passing hills and valleys; hesitant to interact with the others. Even when Yeung Ming Hung brought over rations for them, she seemed indifferent and unmoved. Kuk Yuen Yau had asked her once what was distracting her but Suen Nga Yin merely shook her head and replied that she still felt unwell from her injuries. Seeing that she was able to eat properly, Kuk Yuen Yau let her be, for she, herself, had other things to worry about.

    Despite so many days since their escape fom the Forbidden City, both Yuen Mo Kei and Yuen Hong still lay unresponsive in their comatose state, unable to tell her what really happened that night. Although answers were provided to her by her grandmother regarding Duen Mo Ngai and his past with the Yuen family, Kuk Yuen Yau could not muffle the small voice in her head that hinted she was not told the entire story. There were many questions left unanswered. There was only one person who could tell her the truth, but there had been no news of Duen Mo Ngai at all after that night. Somehow in her heart, she felt that he was still alive and that they will meet again.

    It soon became a full moons night; the faint glowing aura from the enchanting orb suspended in the night sky seemed to be inviting Suen Nga Yin to once again venture out into the night, away from the others. After concluding their individual tune on a leaf, Suen Nga Yin patiently waited for the person to show. In the past, they often met in the dead of the night every full moons night. But it had been at least a year since they last met.

    The peaceful trickling of a nearby creek from was like a hypnotic chant, enticing the forest life to come and drink its calm waters before carrying on their nocturnal activities. All of a sudden, the unexpected hoot of a night owl disrupted the calm order as all froze in total silence to see where the predator roosted.

    Hoot! Hoot! cried the ancient bird as it lifted its feathery wings and dived for a small wide-eyed rabbit who had ventured out of her burrow.

    Just as its razor-like talons were about to close in on the oblivious prey, a sharp weapon cut through the air and barely missed the bird who spun away just in time with an angry hoot.

    Hurry up! the man called to his men as he tucked his weapon back in his belt, We must get away before we are discovered! That owl has been hooting at us all night! Just give it an hour and it would be back at its game again!

    Several male voices answered in a whisper, Yes, Sir! We are nearly done!

    Good! Master has orders that the blossoms must be severed from its root under moonlight and emptied into the source within minutes. Dally any longer and the venomous juices will no more effective than dead leaves in the water source! I implore you not to spoil Masters plans wth your sluggishness or I can guarantee that you will be rewarded a worse fate than that the fugitives after they drink this water!

    The mans voice was soft and gentle. Even when he was threatening his subordinates, his tone was calm and soothing as if he was talking to his lover.

    Suen Nga Yin carefully brushed aside the leaves of the tall bush she was hiding behind for a clearer look at the men. About twenty men were all crouched up beside the small creek, busily cutting up what looked like pale purple flowers from the small plants that were kept in the open sacks that lay at their side. A single man with flowing hair stood behind them, giving orders on how to dispose of the flowers into the creek.

    Commander Cheung! whispered one of the men, I really dont see how these harmless looking flowers can help us bring down these martial arts experts! It looks like one of those edible flowers, dont you think? In a moment of foolishness, the man opened his mouth and placed a single petal on his tongue.

    You fool! reprimanded the gentle man, as he slapped him across the face. The petal flew out of his mouth and landed on the moist grass. It is not named Blossoms of the Walking Dead for no reason! Pointing down at his feet, he cried, Look!

    Suen Nga Yin squinted her eyes at the leader to discern the form of a handsome man with gentle facial features. His eyes seemed to smile and twinkle in the moonlight, exuding a false impression of friendliness to unsuspecting prey, just like small rabbit at his feet.

    Seeing that the owl had been driven away, the white rabbit quick dashed towards the refreshing creek water when all of a sudden, the faint alluring fragrance of the purple petal enticed it slowly into the trap. The petal tasted sweet at first, but as it travelled down its throat, it left a searing pain leading from the oral cavity to the stomach, gradually spreading all around the body. The helpless rabbit rolled over onto its side, convulsing rapidly as the gentle man standing above it laughed cruelly at its plight.

    Suen Nga Yin was so disturbed at the sight that she did not notice a man had crept up behind her. An arm wrapped around her shoulder to hold her still as another clasped over her open mouth to silence her. She could feel the warmth of his body as he pulled her close before him.

    Shhh! hushed the familiar voice of Yeung Ming Hung. Their cheeks were pressed sideways against each other as he too, took a digusted look at the sadistic behaviour of the men.

    Suen Nga Yin took his hand from her mouth and wrote on his palm, Poison in creek.

    How come it is not dead? said an impatient man who poked the rabbit who had stopped convulsing.

    It is not supposed to be dead! said the man with the gentle voice, The toxins from the blossoms have proliferated through the bloodstream and up into the brain, causing paralysis. Look at its blank eyes!

    Ah! screamed another man, Why did it just get up? It is looking at me! The small rabbit suddenly sat up and looked around the men with a dazed look upon its face.

    Because the effect of the toxins has finished! explained their leader, These blossoms only contain a small amount of toxin. But once combined with water, their potency is released a hundred times stronger than in its original form! Imagine what will happen to top fighters like Yeung Yat Ching and Lung Tin Kwun when they drink this contaminated water! They will be more docile than a kitten when we arrive to tie them up and delivered them to Master! Not waiting for further explanation, the rabbit scurried back to its burrow to safety.

    Yeung Ming Hung nodded at her message and grabbing her hand, wrote, I distract! You run!

    From their breathing, he had already deduced that these martial artists were not easy to handle. Just their leader alone, probably was more advanced in internal energy cultivation than himself. Even if both fought with their lives, there was no chance that they would come out alive. Only by sacrificing one could the other escape.

    Suen Nga Yin shook her head fervidly in protest as he squeezed her hands to get her to focus. Her eyes slowly drifted towards her palm where he wrote clearly, The bigger picture!

    She understood. If the men succeeded in their evil plan, then the hundred or so martial artists resting in the camps would all be sacrificed. After spending so many days with Yeung Ming Hung, how could she not be familiarised with his temperament? All those martial artists had put their lives at risk for his uncle. Yeung Ming Hung owed more than his life. A hundred lives for one life was a good trade. He would do anything to get them out of danger, but how could she leave him behind in such danger?

    She took one last look at him as he smiled encouragingly and mouthed, Go! Slowly and reluctantly, Suen Nga Yin slid her hand out of his.

    Yeung Ming Hung somersaulted out from his hiding place and shouting, You lot of gutless cowards! Yeung Ming Hung is here! I dare you to fight me man-to man!

    He swiped his golden spear at the unsuspecting men who quickly rolled to the side as the force from the blow resonated through the air and left a long deep gash in the ground. All at once, the men reached for their short swords strapped to their leg, and lunged at Yeung Ming Hung while their leader stood back to observe.

    These men attacked violently in successive blows, not giving even a moment to take in a breath. The sharp clanging of weapons reverberated through the air as Suen Nga Yin turned and ran through the bushes without turning back. Leaving Yeung Ming Hung behind was the right thing to do in regards to the bigger picture, but also the most difficult challenge to overcome when it came to her heart.

    But her escape was betrayed when the meddlesome owl returned with its loud hoots as it flew over Suen Nga Yins head. The leader immediately picked out her small frame amongst the foliage and released his weapon.

    Suen Nga Yin could hear the sharp whoosh of the weapon approaching behind her as it sliced through the air. Not wasting time to turn back, she calculated its time of impact and leapt up high into the air to avoid it as it carved its way straight into a tree. But instead of being embedded into the tree, the metal weapon ricocheted off the tree trunk and headed straight towards her.

    Quickly releasing her sash at a tall tree branch, she swung herself out of the way just in time as she felt the cold metallic weapon brush against the ends of her hair. Suen Nga Yin hurriedly released her sash at another branch and tried to make her escape. But the weapon came at her again at frightening speed and turning around, she repelled it with a hidden dagger in her sleeve.

    All was silent and the weapon could not be heard anywhere. There was no way of telling where the next attack would be coming from and Suen Nga Yin did not wait to find out. Releasing her sash again, she swung herself onto a tree branch and continued to escape between the thick cover of leaves.

    But all of a sudden, the tree branch she stepped on collapsed from underneath her and she plummeted to the ground below. Suen Nga Yin shot out both sashes from her sleeves to secure her fall when the whoosing returned and the spinning weapon sliced effortelessly through the fabric.

    It was too late for her to do anything as she dropped towards the forest floor when she felt a strong arm around her back and flipped her onto her feet. Her knees ached as her feet landed on the ground and buckled under her. The arm slid down to her waist and the weight of her upper body made her fall backwards into her back. A hand reached out behind her shoulders to support her in an awkward position.

    Suen Nga Yins eyes widened with both fear, embarrassment as disbelief as she saw the face of the man who was holding her up. With a gentle alluring smile, he said softly, Do you not think fate has been favourable to us for letting us meet on a romantic night like tonight, my beauty?

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Author's Note:

    Sorry. No facts today. Thanks for reading, Anh Nam.
    Last edited by charbydis; 10-19-14 at 07:56 AM.
    "Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self."
    Cyril Connolly

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    I am here to lend Charbydis support~

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  12. #352
    Senior Member charbydis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anh Nam View Post
    Thanks Charbydis
    Always welcome to see you in here!

    Quote Originally Posted by Avidfan View Post
    I am here to lend Charbydis support~
    Thanks Avidfan. Are you feeling better now? Hope you rest more and recover soon.
    "Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self."
    Cyril Connolly

  13. #353
    Senior Member charbydis's Avatar
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    Default Book One: The Fist Of Domination (權傾天下)

    Chapter Seventy:

    Cast of Appearing Characters:

    Suen Nga Yin - Natalie Tong Sze Wing
    Yeung Ming Hung - Kenneth Ma Kwok Ming
    Cheung Wing - Mark Kwok Yiu Ming
    White-Haired Lady - Erica Choi Hiu Yee
    Lung Tin Kwun - Felix Wong Yat Wah



    Get off me! Suen Nga Yin quickly away from him but he was stronger. Propping his knee below her waist, he freed his other hand to lock her back down in the same position. Her other hand with the dagger was trapped between her and his body. She was like a toy in his grasp.

    The leader leaned his face close towards her as she turned her head away from his handsome features. He took in a sniff. How fragrant you smell! You now owe me a favour for saving your life! How do you think you could repay me, my beauty?

    Pervert! she shouted and swatted her hand at his face, but he caught it mid-air and twisted it behind her back, bringing their faces even closer together. Her reluctance seemed to amuse him, and he moved it and kissed her on the cheek.

    Get away from her! shouted Yeung Ming Hung as he broke free from his attackers and shot out his spear at the pervert.

    The leader immediately dropped Suen Nga Yin and swerved backwards to avoid the menacing spear. Yeung Ming Hung leapt across the air to catch the spear and quickly flicked its head towards the man who tried to make a grab for Suen Nga Yin.

    With one hand around her arm, the leader slid out his weapon from his sleeve and blocked off the consecutive blows. The mans stances were swift and smooth, only when he slowed down did they see that his chosen weapon was a black metal fan.

    Now that her hand was free, Suen Nga Yin stabbed her dagger at the man who swatted it away. His hands found the acupressure points behind her neck and pressed. Her limbs went numb. Women are good when feisty, but much more likeable when submissive!

    Whether she is feisty or submissive, it is none of your business! hollered Yeung Ming Hung in rage as he attacked the man.

    When open, the thin panels of the metal fan joined together to form a deadly blade that sliced through anything it touched. It also acted as a shield when the tip of the spear came too close. It even micked a short baton when it was closed. The changing forms of the metal fan confused Yeung Ming Hung greatly as his attacks needed to change along with the fan. Furthermore, Suen Nga Yin was forced between them as a human shield, making Yeung Ming Hung even more hesitant in his strikes.

    Women are no different from clothes! If one is torn, then get a new set! Why allow yourself to be so restrained? taunted the man coldly. Without warning, he shoved Suen Nga Yin at Yeung Ming Hung who caught her before she fell.

    Watch out! she yelled as the man palmed both of them at once and sent them flying several metres a cross the forest floor.

    The man shot forwards after them made a grab for Suen Nga Yin who lay face down on the ground. As soon as he lifted her up by the clothes on her back, Suen Nga Yin spun around and kneed him in the groin. The leader immediately dropped Suen Nga Yin and recoiled with his side facing them, guarding the rest of his body warily as if he had been just violated.

    You you cried Suen Nga Yin pointing a shaking finger at him, equally shocked and disturbed. You are not a man!

    What? spluttered Yeung Ming Hung who stopped in midst of an attack.

    The leader seemed to have recovered from the shock and turned to face them directly, but his eyes and expressive was no longer gentle. He had a sinister smile upon his face as he calmly fanned himself, but his glare was harsh and malicious.

    So what if I am a eunuch? he cried indignantly as his confidence returned, I am the Commander of Twelve Regiments and the Battalion of Tactical Brilliance - the lives and death of thousands of complete men in these armies are all at the mercy in my hands!

    Yeung Ming Hung put himself between the eunuch and Suen Nga Yin, pushing her backwards protectively. So you are Cheung Wing!

    He had long heard that apart from Lau Gan, the next most fearful member of the Eight Tigers was Cheung Wing.

    Though only in his early forties, Lau Gan trusted him with two of the three well-equipped eunuch armies that formed the foundation of the Eight Tigers military power. Yeung Ming Hung had only ever once caught a glimpse of Cheung Wing from a long distance away while he was hidden in the Forbidden City. No wonder he was unable to recognise him.

    Cheung Wing stared intently at Suen Nga Yin. Though blessed with handsome looks that would make many females hearts flutter, his physical deficit restricted him from a normal life. As much as he appreciated and longed for beautiful women, he loathed and despised them like the dirt beneath his feet for he could never possess them. Another thing he detested was the men who could.

    Cheung Wing shot forward like a gust of wind and released consecutive palms at Yeung Ming Hung who was caught off guard. Suen Nga Yin clasped a tight hand over his mouth and nose as she threw a handful of powder in Cheung Wings face.

    Cheung Wing somersaulted backwards and brushed the remaining powder from his eyes. Mere tricks! he scoffed as he opened his eyes, when all of a sudden, he saw the image of a zombie standing behind Yeung Ming Hung. The zombie had bright green eyes that glowed in the dark.

    What on earth? he cried out aloud as he blinked and shook his head to clear the unbelievable vision.

    Commander Cheung! Cries of the other eunuchs approaching meant that they had company.

    Yeung Ming Hung was flabbergasted as he saw Suen Nga Yins eyes flash green as she poured the contents of an embroidered pouch into her open hand. The embroidered pouch had been with her since they first met; he had always thought that it was just a simple perfumed pouch. It was more than that, just as Suen Nga Yin was more than what she appeared to be. Was she human, ghost or demon?

    With a gentle blow, Suen Nga Yin scattered the faint pink powder into the air that quickly travelled into the nostrils of the eunuchs.

    Ah! they call cried pointing at Suen Nga Yin, Zombie! Look!

    What is going on? shouted Yeung Ming Hung bewildered by the strange turn of events.

    Suen Nga Yin whispered weakly, It is a decoy trick taught by my Master! But I have never managed to fully master it to its full extent. My power is too weak and I do not have enough powder; their hallucinations will be over any minute! We must run! She did indeed start to look pale and sickly and greenish glow began to dim in her eyes.

    Cheung Wing was still staring at her. The image of the zombie flashed repeatedly before his eyes and morphed momentarily into Suen Nga Yin before transforming back into the terrifying zombie. His alert mind quickly figured out what was happening.

    Shouting at the top of his voice, he said, This the Fragrant Mist of Illusion! Master warned us about this before we headed out from Beijing! It is no more than trickery! Kill any zombie you see!

    Yes, Sir! they chorused as one and marched with weapons brandished towards the two.

    Yeung Ming Hung grabbed Suen Nga Yins hand and ran for their lives for all twenty one eunuchs charged after them. They had barely made it over one hill when a dense greyish mist suddenly rose up before them.

    As soon as she saw the strange mist, Suen Nga Yin gave a cry of alarm and dragged him onto his knees. Ming Hung, dont breathe in this mist! she gasped, clutching a hand over each of their noses.

    Yeung Ming Hung was completely baffled as he watched the lifelike mist brush by their bodies, extending swirling fingers of ghost like mist that surrounded around each and every one of the eunuchs.

    Loud screams came from the eunuchs as they spun around like madmen, hyperventilating and sweating profusely, swiping their weapons at thin air. Zombies! Zombies! Disgusting! Everywhere!

    Zombies suddenly appeared all around them, some even right next to them, close enough for them to see the grotesque maggots diving in and out of the soft decaying flesh. Their eyes flashed a fiery red colour as they lifted their sabres of fire and slashed at them.

    With ten zombies pounced at Cheung Wing all at one, he quickly erupted from their grasps and leapt up into the trees, over the dense mist. As soon as the fresh air reached his lungs, his mind and eyes also cleared, watching with horror as his subordinates brutally hack each other to death. What on earth had suddenly caused all of them to suddenly turn against each other in raging madness?

    A large square sheet of white fabric descended over Yeung Ming Hung and Suen Nga Yin, enveloping them from the grey mist and hiding them from the horrors from the bloody scene.

    Nga Yin! shouted Yeung Ming Hung as he found himself trapped underneath the fabric, and made a grab for her hand.

    But a cold hand suddenly brushed him off Suen Nga Yins wrist and palmed him on the chest, thrusting him out of the fabric tent and into the hallucinogenic mist, where he began to feel light-headed.

    Ming Hung! cried Suen Nga Yin as she reached outside to Yeung Ming Hung but she was held back by a strong grip on her arm.

    Nga Yin! said a soft female voice from inside the tent, It is too dangerous here! Leave with me!

    Master! pleaded Suen Nga Yin falling onto her knees, switching her gaze between her teacher and Yeung Ming Hung. who was clutching his head and rolling around on the floor agonizingly outside. She tried to stretch out her hand to pull him back to safety but her teacher would not let go of her arm.

    Nga Yin! How many times have I warned you in the last few days? scolded her teacher, You and Yeung Ming Hung will never have a happy ending! Why do you pursue the non-pursuable? Leave with me and save yourself from the heartbreak!

    I cannot leave Ming Hung! shouted Suen Nga Yin, continuing to reach out for Yeung Ming Hung.

    Show yourself. you Evil Witch! came a cry from above and a dark figure dived right at them.

    Both women leapt out of the way just in time as Cheung Wing chased after them through the air, slashing the fabric tent into shreds. The eunuch hurled his metal fan, spinning like an unstoppable circular blade after the women. A thick sash wrapped around Suen Nga Yin as she was dropped safely onto the ground while her teacher disappeared upwards into the canopy with her trailing white fabric tentacles. Suen Nga Yin immediately scampered over to help Yeung Ming Hung while the two continued their mid-air battle.

    With a wave of a sleeve, the woman let loose long sashes of fabric at Cheung Wing, forming a thick white web suspended between the trees. As Cheung Wing flew into the web, the openings tightened around his head, body and limbs, trapping him like a fly in a spiders web. The harder he struggled, the tighter the bonds became.

    You evil witch! he screamed at the woman seated comfortably upon the web, forgetting all of his previous gentlemanly manner.

    Her long white hair billowed in the hair along with her wide sleeves and spiralling sashes. She was so hauntingly beautiful, yet spine-chilling to behold. She approached Cheung Wing with her fingers clawed and back arched, eerily mimicking exactly the walk of a spider.

    Their beautiful faces were only inches away from each other, yet there was not an ounce of love or romance in this encounter as the two glared fiercely at each other.

    The white-haired woman opened her mouth, releasing a barely visible purplish vapour at Cheung Wings face. Cheung Wing held his breath against the vapour and turned his head aside. But the white-haired woman caught him by the jaw and forced his mouth open. But as soon as his lips opened, out shot a multitude of small needles.

    Teacher! cried Suen Nga Yin as the white-haired woman clutched at her injured chest and plunged backwards onto the ground.

    Cheung Wing let out a devious chuckle before releasing some more needles at the fabric web to free himself. The greyish mist had already begun to clear but all the twenty eunuchs were already dead.

    All of a sudden, the deafening roar of a beast filled the forest and reverberated through the air. The four of them all clutched their ears in pain as the roar continued to multiply in intensity as it entered their ears.

    A burly man somersaulted through the trees and collected his Wild Dragon Sabre before landing squaring on both feet.
    In a confident voice, Lung Tin Kwun hollered, Who dares have to have a fight without inviting the Righteous Outlaw?

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Author's Note:

    Time for a chat about metal fans as weapons. One of my favorites!

    Let's start off with explaining the structure of a metal fan. You have the same thin frame as a normal fan, except that each rib is made of tempered metal. Then the paper panels that form the body of the fan is replaced by long and thin metal panels that slides over each other smoothing when the fan opens and closes. Works just like a normal fan right?

    Sort of. But a metal fan is must more dangerous. How so? Each rib is like a small dagger. Each metal panel is thin and rigid like a sword. You can easily have twenty panels to form a fan so you have potentially forty-one blades stabbing at your head when the fan is open.

    But you think, it is only dangerous when the fan is open. Just force the opponent to close the fan and it would be safer! Hell no! When closed the handle form a solid metal bar than can act as a bludgeon as well as a sword in attack mode, yet strong enough to withstand the force from most weapons. It is like being hit on the head with a metal baseball bat! Can easily break bones and skull without a sweat!

    However, it is not without its weaknesses. The fan handle can be thick but cannot too long so it is not as advantageous in a far-distance battle when compared to a spear and a sword. Unless you can throw it like a boomerang like what Cheung Wing does in here, similar to what Golden Wheel Monk does in ROCH with his wheels. However, throwing fans is not a traditional move in fan fighting.

    Metal fans are also heavy and rely on wrist flexibility, so wielders can easily tire if they cannot take down their opponent soon. It also takes a great swing to get the fan to fully open, often using a downward fling to use gravity to open the panels. Speed is also very important in using the fan, getting your opponent with moving blades can increase severity of a slice. It produces a terrifying swishing sound as the thin panels move through the air, which is very useful in distracting and scaring opponents. (Mum dances with a plastic fan at home and scares the hell out of the puppies at home! )

    So why choose a fan over other weapons? It looks cool, graceful and gentlemanly, and not to mention, non-conspicuous when the sight of a three-foot long sword can immediately alert your opponents. Plus, some events prohibit bringing weapons in, but you can slip past with a fan in your hand. You can pretend to be fanning yourself then suddenly lash out at the person sitting across the table from you. Metal fans are definitely deadlier than a normal fan made from bamboo and paper, but it really depends on who the practitioner. Paper fans are harder to use but if you move fast enough, paper can cut through skin as well! (More on paper fans that in later chapters)

    Fighting fans are not unique to Chinese culture. It is also used in ancient Korea and ancient Japan as an official weapon. It is quite formidable. You can use double fans or single fans. I prefer single fans as it look less clumsy and for guys, looks less feminine.

    Here is a video of a fan practitioner from youtube. (I wanted to show you a video of my mum but she wouldn't let me! )

    Last edited by charbydis; 10-19-14 at 01:22 PM.
    "Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self."
    Cyril Connolly

  14. #354
    Senior Member Avidfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by charbydis View Post
    Always welcome to see you in here!



    Thanks Avidfan. Are you feeling better now? Hope you rest more and recover soon.
    Thank you very much! Much better now~

    Chapter 70 now^^

    I wish you will be able to post more often and so will the others =)

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    Thanks Charbydis

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    Default Book One: The Fist Of Domination (權傾天下)

    Chapter Seventy-One:

    Cast of Appearing Characters:


    Lady Mirage - Erica Choi Hiu Yee
    Chow King Fong - Christine Ng Wing Mei
    Lung Tin Kwun - Felix Wong Yat Wah
    Cheung Luk Chung - KK Cheung Kwok Keung
    Tsui Sing Lau - Lau Dan
    Suen Nga Yin - Natalie Tong Sze Wing
    Yeung Ming Hung - Kenneth Ma Kwok Ming
    Yeung Ming Guk - Ruco Chan Chin Pang
    Cheung Wing - Mark Kwok Yiu Ming



    Counting his losses, Cheung Wing fled the scene with several flips in the air before anyone else could stop him. However, the white-haired woman was one step too slow and within minutes, she was encircled by Lung Tin Kwun, Tsui Sing Lau, Cheung Luk Chung, and last but not least, Mistress Chow.

    What happened, Elder Brother? cried Yeung Ming Guk as he helped his brother up onto his feet.

    Lung Tin Kwun released the first blow. The surging flows of power erupted from his Wild Dragon Sabre and came hurtling just above the forest floor like the raging torrents of the Yangtze River, obliterating all in its path.

    Teacher!

    Nga Yin! cried Yeung Ming Hung as he watched Suen Nga Yin tear away from him and dived towards her teacher, right into the path of the sabre energy.

    But the white-haired woman pushed her faithful student aside. Lifting her head to the skies, she stretched out her hands and let out a terrifying high-pitched scream. In desperation, she had gathered all her remaining internal energy reserve and in one short and powerful release, sent streams of her power out from her body in all directions.

    All of a sudden, she had disappeared into thin air and from where she stood, hundreds and thousand of giant spiders came rushing out from the ground and clambered over the oncoming energy from the Wild Dragon Sabre, trampling it into nothingness with their spiny feet.

    The martial artists stood their ground. Though possessing the titles of the top martial artists in wulin, they could not help slow the rapid beating within their chests at the abrupt attack of arachnids rushing towards them. But Lung Tin Kwun realised what was going on. How can there be such little sound when so many creatures were moving across the crispy dried leaves?

    In a loud voice, he shouted, Hold your ranks! It is a trick on the eyes! Watch this!

    Somersaulting up high, he released a number of palms at the giant spiders from above. Dust and dirt exploded into the air and as soon as they hit the stampede of giant spiders, they immediately faded into the empty space that it was supposed to be. But before the cloud of matter settled, long white sashes of fabric shot out of the ground in all directions.

    At least a hundred white sashes darted everywhere amongst the crowd, causing extreme confusion as flashes of white clouded their eyes. No one seemed to notice one single white sash shoot up into the trees several metres away and wrap around a branch, materializing into the white-haired woman almost no one.

    A long red sash suddenly wrapped around her waist and hauled her onto the ground, drawing everyones attention to her location. The white-haired woman quickly severed the red sash with a short sword hidden in her sleeve, and shot out a white sash in its direction in retaliation. The two different-coloured sashes twisted around each other like two pythons in battle as they met in mid-air.

    One clad entirely in white and the other dressed in a red outer robe; both women pulled their sash tight, conducting a brief competition of internal energy reserve.

    Speaking through her veil, Chow King Fong spoke with a hint of haughtiness in her voice, Evil Witch from the Demon Sect! Do not think you can escape us today!

    The white-haired woman laughed at her words. You ignorant fools of the Central Plains have tried everything to annihilate my knowledgeable Mirage Sect for many decades, yet our descendants still survive! What does that say about that whose martial arts are stronger?

    Chow King Fong scoffed in reply, Evil cannot overcome Righteousness! All you have is mere tricks of deception! Let me give you a taste of what the martial arts of the Central Plains are really about!

    Pointing her sword upwards, she unsheathed her long sword with a burst of energy and lunged at her competitor. The discarded scabbard shot up high into the sky accompanied by nine blurs of gold at its side, reaching a height of twenty metres before succumbing to gravity and plummeted down towards the duelling pair below.

    The white-haired woman looked in horror as nine golden chrysanthemum-shaped projectiles rained down on them. Chow King Fong smiled confidently without even looking up and continued her attack. The white-haired woman spun quickly from side to side, her eyes torn between the descending projectiles as well as the equally threatening Chow King Fong before her, distracted from defending herself to the full. Chow King Fong quickly palmed her in the shoulder.

    Chow King Fong made a large horizontal swipe in the air above her head and caught all nine projectiles along the length of her sword. Die you evil witch! she cried, somersaulting towards the white-haired woman, cutting off her path of escape.

    Strangely enough, the nine projectiles stayed balanced upon the long sword despite the rapid stances delivered towards the white-haired woman. Then all of a sudden, Chow King Fong laughed and the nine projectiles shot out at her adversary as if they had a life of their own.

    What is going on? cried Yeung Ming Guk, staring with astonishment at the perplexing scene.

    Contorting her body as if she had no bones, the white-haired woman swiftly evaded the surprise attacks and with nine sharp blows from her short sword, the projectiles rebounded obediently back towards Chow King Fongs sword.

    Dance of the Nine Chrysanthemums! exclaimed the white-haired woman, staggering backwards in astonishment. What is your relationship with Chow Yik Tin?

    Chow King Fung scoffed haughtily, You are not worthy to speak my late fathers name!

    The Dance of the Nine Chrysanthemums is the unique skill of internal energy manipulation exclusively practised by the leader of the Nine Chrysanthemum Clan. explained Lung Tin Kwun. The nine projectiles are controlled via invisible strands of internal energy, linking them to the sword and giving Mistress Chow complete control over their movement!

    The white-haired woman laughed coldly, her eyes slowly intensifying with hatred. The Chow family had always liked to push people to the edge. Like father, like daughter you are no better than your murderous father!

    Shut your mouth, you evil witch! How dare you insult my father? cried Chow King Fong, pointing her long sword at her opponent, the nine golden chrysanthemums gently bouncing up and down to the vibrations along the length of their host.

    The white-haired woman merely smiled - what could have been so beautiful turned into a horrifying sight as her doe-like eyes flashed with a murderous intent. Chow King Fong was about to strike when her opponent seemed to suddenly multiply before her eyes and moved all around her.

    What is going on? cried Yeung Ming Guk, There are now ten of her!

    And he was right. Ten totally identical images of the white-haired woman stood equally distant from each other in a perfect circle encircling Chow King Fong, each of them with the murderous look upon her face and each with her short sword held ready to strike at any moment.

    It must be another trick! shouted Cheung Luk Chung, and he sent a torrent of energy towards the closest white-haired woman.

    No! Wait! Brother Cheung! shouted Lung Tin Kwun, but it was too late.

    Like with the spiders, Cheung Luk Chung had expected the image to dissipate as soon as he attacked. He was wrong.

    Instead of changing into a fine mist, the image blocked and returned the blow almost immediately. But the frightening thing was that at the exact time, the other nine images reacted the same way and now ten different torrents of energy were rushing at Cheung Luk Chung.

    Cheung Luk Chung swiped his sword ten times and sent forward ten outbursts meet the upcoming forces. However, the ten torrents of power suddenly converged to combine into one gigantic wave of destruction which blasted its way cleanly through Cheung Luk Chungs defence.

    Quickly! Up into the trees! and with both palms outstretched, he sent the three young people up into branches to safety.

    Both Lung Tin Kwun and Tsui Sing Lau reacted immediately and somersaulted next to Cheung Luk Chung. Tsui Sing Lau released his signature weapon to envelop them - the Net of Meteors. The Net of Meteor was actually a series of long whips with small rare metal alloy spheres embedded into the metal chain at regular intervals along its length. When released, each whip whirled around the trio in an individual orbit, emitting a multi-layered spherical shield of dense protection against the invading energy wave.

    No matter how strong an energy waves, it cannot last forever. By slowing the speed of its assault, its strength was also weakening with time as it tried to force its way through the Net of Meteors. With the ability to crack through a human skull, the metal alloy spheres bombarded the energy wave at all sides, undermining it from all directions.
    At the right moment, both Cheung Luk Chung and Lung Tin Kwun mustered up all their power and delivered one combined attack to the diminished energy wave which receded immediately back to its origin.

    A frightening laughter eerily rang in the air as the ten white-haired women reabsorbed the energy from the forest floor while engaged in a heated battle with Chow King Fong. Ten separate yet identical voices talked at the same time, and laughed at the same time. It was like fighting ten opponents at the same time, possessing ten times the strength.

    Each time the nine golden chrysanthemums attacked, there were nine more than capable opponents ready to deal with each one, leaving one extra opponent free to take on Chow King Fong. Chow King Fong felt like she was being ambushed at all sides with no time to breathe or recollect herself. She knew that the other nine were only illusions whilst one was the real person, and if she only managed to focus her attack on that real person, the other nine images would fade away. But how could she find out which was the real one?

    Up in the trees, the three young people stared with their eyes widened with disbelief as the energy forces battled against each other, invisible to their naked eyes except for the leafless paths cut across the forest floor by the energy movement.

    Yeung Ming Guk grabbed Suen Nga Yin roughly by the arm and twisted it, Suen Nga Yin! I heard you call her Teacher! You must know which one is the real one! Who is it?

    I dont know! I really dont know! pleaded Suen Nga Yin as her eyes alternated between the Yeung brothers and the scene below.

    Ming Guk! Yeung Ming Hung caught his brother by the wrist. If you see me as your elder brother, then let her go!

    Elder Brother! This is no time for romance! shouted Yeung Ming Guk irately, Mistress Chow could die unless this liar talks!

    I really dont know! repeated Suen Nga Yin. She looked at Yeung Ming Hung pleadingly.

    Yeung Ming Hung looked back at her and smiled weakly. Staring back at his brother, he said firmly, I trust her!

    Watch out! came a cry from below.

    Distracted by her thoughts, Chow King Fong did not realise that all ten swords were coming straight at her. With a quick swerve to the side, she had just managed to avoid the centre of their attack. However, one of the blades cut across her left arm and another scraped the side of her face, severing the red veil which dropped to one side as she stumbled onto the floor.

    Chow King Fong was indeed a beauty. Even her livid expression could not hide her beauty. Shooting Cheung Luk Chung an angry glare, she snapped, I dont need a man to warn me of any danger! Men should stay out of womens business!

    Cheung Luk Chung had originally stepped forward to take on the white haired women, but now withdrew backwards without a word, hiding his expression in the shadows.

    Ten identical peals of laughter came from all around her. You of the Chow family not only like to pushing people around, but also pushing people away! Destined to live alone; destined to die alone!

    Chow King Fong glared at her. Do not think that you are any better than I! I am happy with my numerous followers but what do you have? You are nothing but the last remaining member of the Mirage Sect!

    Mistress Chow, do you know who she is? asked Lung Tin Kwun.

    Chow King Fong threw her head back and laughed. I originally had no clue but when used the stance Ambush on Ten Fronts, I knew that she must be related to the Mirage Demon! Fifty years ago, the entire Mirage Sect was wiped out except for the Mirage Demon and his daughter. Both my late father and the Mirage Demon long perished in the duel on the Peak of Mount Remembrance twenty years ago!

    Chow King Fong staggered up onto her feet and pointed a finger at the white-haired woman standing motionless before her. She is no other than the last remaining member of the Mirage Sect, the daughter of the Mirage Demon!

    You are correct! said the ten women in ten sombre voices, I am Lady Mirage.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Author's Note:

    Sorry no facts today. The fights in these episodes are more based a fictional fantasy type of combat. I have always enjoyed the graceful fights between women using long fabric sashes, deadly as they are beautiful.

    I'm heading off to Sydney on Thursday for my cousin's wedding so I won't update til the weekend after, so here is next weekend's chapter in advance.

    To Avidfan: Glad that you are better. Yeah, Chapter 70! Fifty or more chapters to go til the end of Book 1! I generally do tend to post weekly, however, my health has been getting the better of me since late last year. I need more rest and relaxation to recover which takes away my time behind the computer. I am improving slowly but it can be variable depending on my energy levels and weather on the day.

    I have completed Book 1 already, but I need time to research on facts for the author notes (the time-consuming bit is the translation from Chinese to English). But I still get out my notebook every now and then and jot down notes to brainstorm Book 2 & 3. I am past halfway in plotting Book 2, but have not written any chapters yet. So hopefully I would have started by time I have finished posting Book 1 so there will be not too much lag in posting Book 2.

    To Anh Nam: Thanks for reading.
    "Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self."
    Cyril Connolly

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    Thanks Charbydis

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    Charbydis, this was one of the best chapters in the story so far. Eagerly anticipating more.

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    Thanks Charbydis

  20. #360
    Senior Member charbydis's Avatar
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    Default Book One: The Fist Of Domination (權傾天下)

    Chapter Seventy-Two:

    Cast of Appearing Characters:


    Yeung Yat Ching - Michael Miu Kiu Wai
    Cheung Wing - Mark Kwok Yiu Ming
    Chow King Fong - Christine Ng Wing Mei
    Lady Mirage - Erica Choi Hiu Yee
    Lung Tin Kwun - Felix Wong Yat Wah
    Tsui Sing Lau - Lau Dan
    Cheung Luk Chung - KK Cheung Kwok Keung



    The golden spear gleamed brightly in the moonlight as it travelled though the air as a heated pursuit erupted in the canopy of the forest. Stepping nimbly through the small gaps between branches, up and around the tree trunks and sometimes even bouncing off thin twigs, the pursued attempted to lose his pursuer through the variety of arboreal obstacles. But the owner of the golden spear was one determined fellow that was not to be deterred.

    Twisting the spear tip into a nearby pine, he hurled large wooden chunks flying towards his target, who quickly swatted them away with his metal fan. With parts of his trunk missing, the top of the tall pine toppled forwards and smashed down into surrounding branches, sending them crashing to the ground.

    Cheung Wing lost his footing and a large hand quickly grabbed him by the clothes on his shoulder. Hanging by his feet that were curled around a remaining branch, Yeung Yat Ching dived forwards to catch his prey.

    How clumsy of you, Commander Cheung? teased Yeung Yat Ching, as he balanced awkwardly with Cheung Wing one hand and his spear in the other.

    Cheung Wing narrowed his eyes and smiled. How clumsy of you, General Yeung? he remarked when he suddenly whipped out his metal fan and slashed at the branch.

    Both men immediately plummeted onto the large space underneath. Suprising, the ground was quite soft and the two quickly got up onto their feet and engaged in a tussle.

    Yeung Yat Ching laughed as fan and spear clashed again and again. Quick-witted and vicious no wonder Lau Gan trusts you with both the Twelve Regiments and the Battalion of Tactical Brilliance! Too bad they wont be of much use to you now!

    Cheung Wing smirked. The Four Heroes of Wulin are no more than an overated legend! I think Master was wrongly concerned about you messing up our plans!

    Yeung Yat Ching smiled and summoned up his internal energy. The tip of his spear suddenly turned red-hot before his eyes, which spread rapidly onto the metal fan.

    Arghh! cried Cheung Wing as he immediately let go of his weapon at the scorching pain. Whipping aroung the back of his gown, he caught the falling fan in the material without touching it.

    Well, you should listen more to your Master! Yeung Yat Ching continued to tease, And if you ever manage to escape, please warn him about my Flaming Spear! It hurts!

    Cheung Wing growled and whipped off his belt to wrap around his hand. The tough layer of tough animal hide sewn on the inside was thick enough to be resistant to the residual heat given off by the metal fan. The battle continued.

    Just judging by stances alone, Cheung Wing was no match for Yeung Yat Ching. If Yeung Yat Ching wanted him dead, Cheung Wing would not survive the night. The only reason why he was still standing upright was because Yeung Yat Ching did not want his life. But it seemed that he would be standing around for a very long time because the ground started to sink beneath them.

    Immersed in their fight, both men did not realize that all the branches and tree trunks that had fallen with them were being slowly swallowed up by the ground.

    What on earth? My feet! cried Cheung Wing. In the time they had taken to realise what was happening, their feet had already sunken into the the once solid ground and would not budge.

    Quicksand! said Yeung Yat Ching quietly, looking down at his feet. It was already up to his ankles.

    Quicksand? Cheung Wing looked all around him at the thick liquid substance he was standing in. How? We actually stood and fought on this ground only minutes before! How can this be quicksand?

    Maybe there is an underwater spring below us or maybe this used to be a lake before a landslide occurred. Whatever the reason, the crash disturbed the stability of the quicksand and now it is sucking us down.

    Yeung Yat Ching once joined the southern conquests and had multiple encounters with quicksand in the hidden marshes. But he never thought that he would meet with it again in the Central Plains. Who would have thought that two simple things such as sand and water would cause so much trouble?

    Cheung Wing stretched out his hands to see if there was anything that he could grab onto, but there wasnt. The closest fallen trunk was five meters away - if he could only jump. It was now up to his knees.

    Dont jump! Whatever you do, dont press down with your feet! You would only sink faster! halted Yeung Yat Ching with his commanding voice. Holding the golden spear, he was heavier than Cheung Wing and was sinking faster. It was up to his thighs.

    Cheung Wing threw him a sidewards glance. Do you think that I am just going to stand here and wait for death?

    Taking careful aim, he hurled his metal fan in the air. A small tree came crashing down towards them. But it did not fall all the way. Caught in other trees, the trunk hung diagonally in midair about two metres above them. Cheung Wing waved his arms around wildly. It was now up to his waist. He even tried to wrap his belt around it. But he could not reach it. However, Yeung Yat Ching could.

    Clamping the end of his spear in his armpit, Yeung Yat Ching impaled his spear vertically through the middle of the fallen trunk and twisted.

    No! hollered Cheung Wing.

    As the tree trunk rolled around, spear also rotated upwards and jerked Yeung Yat Ching out of the quicksand. Without another heave, Yeung Yat Ching propelled himself upwards and rolled to safety onto the tree trunk.
    Cheung Wing said nothing sunk deeper in the quicksand. It was now up to his armpits. By leaving the quicksand, Yeung Yat Ching created a void which the sludge quickly moved to fill, increasing the downwards suction beneath him.

    Grab onto the spear! hollered Yeung Yat Ching, holding out the blunt end of the weapon at the eunuch.

    Cheung Wing looked up at Yeung Yat Ching. He was still panting heavily, not taking anytime to rest or recover before offering his assistance. Cheung Wing did not undertsand. He only asked, Why?

    What why? replied Yeung Yat Ching, Hurry up!

    Cheung Wing had long stopping flustering. He asked calmly, I am your enemy. My assignment is to capture and kill you. Why do you want to save your enemy?

    Yeung Yat Ching bellowed at him, Are you out of your mind? Is this a time for asking stupid questions? You are my enemy but you are also a human being. From the moment you lost the ability to fight back, you were no longer my enemy but a person in need. Twenty years ago, the Four Heroes of Wulin took a vow to help all in need. You need my help now and I cannot watch you die!

    Cheung Wing continued to stare at him, especially concentrating on the eyes. Lau Gan once taught him that to know ones most innermost thoughts, one must look at the eyes. A persons body and tongue may lie but the expression in the eyes can never lie. Yeung Yat Chings eyes told him that he was sincere.

    Are you not afraid that I would ambush you once I get out of here? he continued to ask.

    Well, I would never know unless I try! I'll take my chances! Hurry up and take my spear. Yeung Yat Ching shoved the end of the spear into his hand.

    Cheung Wing laughed out aloud and swatted the spear away. You are too honourable, Yeung Yat Ching! Too honourable that it makes you a fool! The first I was taught in my training was that an enemy ceases to be an enemy only when they cease to breathe. If we were to exchange places, I would certainly not save you! Spare me your benevolence! Let me teach you a lesson - honour and benevolence have no place in this world! Remember that before you offer help to your next adversary!

    There is no time, Cheung Wing! Even if it was Lau Gan down there I would still save him! Hurry up! shouted Yeung Yat Ching, but Cheung Wings mind was set. He dug both arms into the quicksand and pushed down with his feet. He immediately sunk up to his mouth, and he closed both eyes, waiting patiently for death to retrieve him.

    Cheung Wing! hollered Yeung Yat Ching. He could not bear to watch a man die needlessly, whoever he was. Embattled by the Mongolian incursions up north and the Miao rebellions down south, the Ming Empire had already lost more than enough men over the last few decades.

    Yeung Yat Ching quickly stabbed his spear downwards and just managed to pierce the clothes on Cheung Wings shoulder. Pressing down on the other end of the spear as hard as he could, the quicksand involuntarily released its victim and Cheung Wing swung up into the air.

    The muddy eunuch put one hand on the spear whilst his other hand ripped away the clothing at which the spear was supporting him and propelled his body upwards to escape. Yeung Yat Ching leapt off the log after him when Cheung Wing suddenly turned around in midair.

    Yeung Yat Ching spun around swiftly to avoid the three silver needles discharged from the eunuchs mouth and landed back on the tree trunk. When he turned around, Cheung Wing was nowhere to be seen but his clear voice echoed all around him.

    Yeung Yat Ching! I will repay what I owe you today, but I would rather be dead than captured! We will meet again! Remember my lesson! Honour and benevolence have no place in this world! And Cheung Wing voice gradually faded away.

    Yeung Yat Ching sat down on the log, exhausted after everything that had happened. His lower body was entirely caked with dried sludge that was beginning to dry and crackle. He laid down his heavy golden spear to one side; right next to a dead poisonous snake who head was impaled with three silver needles.

    Back in another part of the forest, Chow King Fong stood fearlessly before the ten identical images of Lady Mirage. All ten of them spoke at the same time.

    Chow King Fong! You and I are the successors of our fathers! The Duel of Mount Remembrance did not end that day when both our father died! Let us settle our long-awaited debt today once and for all! And both women directed their swords at each other.

    Stop! interrupted Tsui Sing Lau by running in between them, Lady Mirage! Why reignite a flame of hatred that had long been extinguished? To the wulin world, the Mirage Sect and its followers are no more. If you are willing to leave today on condition you vow never to commit any more evil deeds, all of us will promise never to reveal your existence to anyone else!

    Lady Mirage laughed and so did her replicas. Tsui Sing Lau, do you really think I would agree to walk away and overlook the massacre of my sect and the murder of my father? The Mirage Sect and the Nine Chrysanthemum Clan cannot co-exist, and neither can Chow King Fong and Lady Mirage!

    That is right! agreed Chow King Fong, Even if you all are willing to promise to let her go, I will hunt her down to the ends of the world until my last breath! There is nothing more important than avenging a fathers murder! If all of you still have any respect for my late father, then step aside! This debt can only ever be settled by a duel to the death between me and her!

    Cheung Luk Chung was about to say something but was stopped by Lung Tin Kwun who wore an abnormally serious expression upon his face. "She is right. Nothing is more important than avenging a father's murder. Unless someone bears the same burden of revenge upon their shoulders, one cannot understand that there is no alternative but bloodshed!"

    Tsui Sing Lau sighed and exclaimed. "How many years have passed since General Gan's death and you still have not forgotten!"

    Lung Tin Kwun lowered his head and shook it sadly. "I will never forget the tragic circumstances of General Gan. At least Mistress Chow has the luck of finding who her sworn enemy is, but alas, I have not yet found the mastermind behind the conspiracy. But if Heavens had mercy on my efforts over the years and led me to the demon holding the strings, then I would not let any being under the skies get in the way between our weapons!"

    Chow King Fong sideways at Lung Tin Kwun, surprised that the rough and uneducated ruffian had spoken exactly was in her mind. But she did not let it show on her proud face. Seeing that the men stepped away and made more objections, she turned to face her opponent, she asked in a confident voice, Are you ready, Lady Mirage?

    The white-haired women smiled and made the first move. Soon, they were no more than an indistinguishable blur of white and red.

    Whether out of benevolence or out of vengeance, emotional debt can be one of the most complicated encounters in life. The boundaries of financial debt are straightforward and clear-cut. But such is never the case for emotional debt. Who is the debtor and who is the creditor? Who is right and who is wrong? How much does one owe and how much should one repay? When does a debt begin and when does a debt settle? There is no objective scale to judge and no correct answer can ever be found as both parties succumb to the vicious cycle of revenge.


    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Author's Note:

    In a nutshell, quicksand is a large blob sand lubricated by either water, clay or even mud so that the pointy sand particles don't lock into one another to form a stable structure.The lubricants instead allows the sand particles to slide over one another. Sand, earth or leaves can sit on top of it and cause no problems, but as soon as some weight is put on it, it gives way underneath.

    Quicksand appears to suck things in but it is in fact the gravity that pulls the weight of the object downwards, having no stable surface to work against it as the sand particles get pushed to the side. Eventually, the density of the object and the density of the quicksand balance work out a solution and the quicksand stabilizes. A human being is more denser than quicksand so it is really hard for a person to sink beneath the surface as you can actually float on it if you stay still enough.

    So why do people or animals die from being stuck in quicksand? Movement increases the downwards pull as well as mixes up the sand and water particles to make it more sticky and more unstable. So if you try to step on it or make large movements, you tend to sink faster. If you move very slowly use some physics to help you float, you should be ok. One is more likely to die from hypothermia or dehydration whilst being stuck in quicksand than actually drowning in quicksand.
    "Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self."
    Cyril Connolly

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