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  1. #21
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Good chapter. Are you going to name the new art?

  2. #22
    Member Christos200's Avatar
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    Yes, it has a name, but it will be revealed in later chapters.

  3. #23
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    Added links to the chapters to OP to make easier the finding and reading of the chapters.

    Chapter VI: The Swordplay of the Goddess


    Numbness. Darkness. Coldness. Loneliness. Those are the feelings Lung Chang feels when he regains his consciousness. His head is hurting him. He realizes that he is lying on a cold and stony floor. Besides him, he can see some blood. His blood. "It must be that my head crushed on the floor. That's why it is hurting me.", he thinks. "That blood must have come from my head, which must have been bleeding. If I did not have strong internal energy and I was not as physically strong as I am now, I would have died."

    Other than the blood and the stony floor, he cannot see anything. He looks upwards and he can see a light, probably the sun, but it is too high and the pit is too deep. So, there is complete darkness. He tries to get up, but his chest hurts him too much. Finally, after much effort, he manages to get up. Although he cannot see anything, he searches the floor with his hands. After a few minutes, he manages to find a long branch. If he can use it to light a fire, he will have more chances of escaping alive from this pit. He searches the floor for stones and finds two medium sized stones.

    Lung Chang rips some cloth for his gown and wraps it around the upper part of the branch. He then tries to make a fire using the stones. At first, the stones flash, but with no real spark. After trying a few more times, he finally manages to start a fire. He places the wrapped with cloth part of the branch on the fire and so he has managed to create a torch. Now, he can at least see his surroundings; the pit is very deep and is cyclical in formation. He cannot climb upwards because it has smooth surface. He looks around and finally finds a gate; a huge stony gate.

    This gate is strange as it does not to have any type of handles or other way to open it. Lung Chang moves his internal energy the way the monk had instructed him to and and repeats the formula. He then strikes out with his palms at the stony gate; although it looks huge and impregnable, the gate is shattered to pieces by Lung Chang's palms. The gate leads to a long Hall. A red carpet shows the way to an other gate, exactly the same as the one Lung Chang had just shattered.

    Lung Chang walks slowly and with small steps. He looks at the room, but there is nothing in it, except that in the walls there are paintings of the Taoist Ying - Yang symbol. When he takes a few steps into the room, arrows suddenly shoot out from the Ying - Yang symbols. The arrows shoot out with immense speed and Lung Chang is barely able to dodge them. More and more arrows are shoot against him and Lung Chang uses his lightness Kung Fu to almost fly to the other side of the room. When he arrives before the stony gate, he begins to move his internal energy, but as arrows are coming towards him with profound speed, he does not have the time and luxury to concentrate and follow all the instructions of the monk. That skill can be used with great speed by someone who has mastered it, but Lung Chang learned it only yesterday, so he did not have the time to master it and be able to use it fast.

    Nevertheless, he must try. He uses the torch to deflect the incoming arrows and concentrates his internal energy and repeats the formula. He then shoots out his right palm, as with his left hand he holds the torch, and shatters the stony gate. Although he feels that his internal energy is being depleted, he must not give up. He cannot give up. He has to clear his name. He does not want to die in the bottom of a dark pit.

    "This skill is really divine!", he shouts. "It has saved me again and again. For this reason, since I do not know it's name, I shall name it 'Saving Palms'."

    The second Hall is the same as the one he had just walked across, only that it's walls do not have any painting on them. On the other side of the Hall, there is another stony gate. "Strange.", he thinks. "What trap will I face in this room?"

    He walks a few steps into the Hall and looks upwards; he sees paintings of the Ying - Yang symbol, but far, far larger than the ones in the previous Hall. "Oh! This is bad!". Suddenly, huge rocks fall from the Ying - Yang symbols in the roof. Lung Chang tries to use his lightness Kung Fu to run forward, but he feels a pain in his chest and falls on the ground. He can see a rock falling from the roof towards him. He moves his internal energy, this time faster than before, and in only a few seconds, he manages to use the 'Saving Palms' against the rock. The rock is shattered, just in time. If he had send his palms against the rock a few seconds later, he would most likely have been killed.

    He the runs forward and strikes against the stony gate, which is shattered, and quickly moves into the next Hall. "Ah! I survived!", he shouts, unable to believe it. But he shall not enjoy for too long his success. The next Hall has no paintings at all. Lung Chang looks around for any traps, but he cannot find any. He sees that at the other side of the Hall, there is an other stony gate. As moves into the room, he hears a 'bam' sound and sees that a huge rock has fallen from the roof and has blocked the gate he had just shattered. He will not be able to leave through the rock falling Hall. Now, he can only move forward.

    As he takes a few more steps, he hears hissing sounds. "I sense something bad is going to happen!", he says. And indeed something bad happens: the roof opens and hundreds of snakes fall from the opening. The snakes are red and belong to an extremely poisonous race of snakes. In only a few seconds, more than four hundred snakes have fallen to the ground. Lung Chang screams in fear and uses the torch to try and scare away the snakes. But, it is of no use. The snakes surround him and some even try to climb upon him.

    Lung Chang, with tears in his eyes, exclaims: "The one who created those Halls must have been a psychopath!". He hits the snakes with his torch and his feet, and even kills some of them, but the snakes are hundreds and as time passes, more and more fall from the roof. Lung Chang tries to use once again his lightness Kung Fu to run forward, but he realizes that he has depleted too much of his internal energy and so he tries to run forward without using his internal energy. A very difficult task when you are injured and surrounded by hundreds of poisonous snakes hungry for your flesh.

    With much effort, he reaches the stony gate and shoots out his 'Saving Palms'. The palms shatter the gate and despite the fact that he vomits lot of blood because of his overuse of his internal energy, he rushes into the next Hall. To his enjoyment, a rock falls from the roof and seals the Hall with snakes. Although he cannot exit the Hall he has entered now, at least the snakes won't follow him.

    He looks around and sees no gate at all. Only stony walls. There is no exit. Lung Chang uses his palms against the walls twice, but he only manages to deplete his internal energy. Understanding that he will die if he continues to use his internal energy, he sits down and meditates, hoping that in a few hours he can recover his internal energy.

    As he meditates, he thinks of ways to exit the room, but he cannot think of any idea. Disappointed, he sighs and looking upwards, he says "Heavens, why have you been so unfair to me? You ruined my reputation, you made me a fugitive, you killed my teacher, you made me lose my beloved Lihua. And now, you want me to die in this dark pit, die slowly from starvation. Without being able to clear my name. Without being able to see one last time the woman I love. Heavens!!!"

    He sighs again. "At least, Lihua will marry an upright person, my brother in arms Piao Zhen. But I really want to see her one last time before I die."

    Although Lung Chang does not usually cry and tries to be 'manly' and cold, this time he cannot keep himself from crying as he thinks of Lihua. He remembers their moments together. When they played together as kids. When he first kissed her besides a river as the sun set. When they carried out together the missions given to them by their Teacher. Lung Chang tries to calm himself and he manages to stop crying. But his heart aches. It is like someone stabbed it with a knife. Lung Chang closes his eyes and focuses on recovering his internal energy.

    A few hours later, he feels that his internal energy has mostly recovered. So, he gets up and looks around. An idea comes to him; since rocks and snakes fall from the roof, maybe the roof is actually the floor of an upper room. So, he shoots out his palms and shatters the roof with a swift but powerful move. And indeed, there is a room above the room he was in. Lung Chang lands to the ground and then jumps again, and this time he lands on the floor of the upper room. He looks around and sees a stony gate. He moves his internal energy, repeats the formula, sends out his palms and shatters it.

    The room he enters has the shape of a square and is darker that the other Halls. He sees the back of a person, wearing a white gown and having long black hair, meditating on a mat. Besides that person, there are tens of red candles, lighting the room. Lung Chang bows respectfully and says: "Greetings, Elder. I mean no harm. I came by accident, so please forgive me and help me get out."

    The person does not reply. Lung Chang repeats himself two more times, but to no avail. Finally, he moves forward, to see if the person is alive. What he sees shocks him. That person is actually a woman in her thirties, but what shocks him is not this, but her beauty. He had seen women with white like snow skin, but not such a soft and white skin like the one this woman has. Her face makes you want to look at her for all eternity. It is impossible to describe her beauty.

    Lung Chang had met quite beautiful girls before. Some of them are stunningly beautiful. But this woman is on a completely other level of beauty. The beauty of the other women is a mortal one. The beauty of this woman is different, it is goddess like. She is the most beautiful woman in the world, but the fact that she seems cold and indifferent and has the aura of a divine person, not of a mortal woman, makes her completely different from other women.

    "Miss! Miss!", Lung Chang shouts. He gets no reply. Her eyes are still open and although they do not move at all, they seem to look at him. He slowly touches her face with his right hand and senses that it is as cold as ice. He touches her neck and comes to the conclusion that she is dead, as she is not breathing. But if she is dead, why has she not become a skeleton?

    Lung Chang sees that she holds a letter in her hands. He snatches it and reads it:

    "Stranger who passes by, if you read this letter, it means that I am dead. You should have a lot of questions on who I am and why I am here. Here is my story: In the fourth year of Emperor Gaozong's reign (Author's note: 653 AD), I fell in love with a man called Lung Wang. He was a disciple of Elder Duan Jizhing. He was very smart and handsome. He fell for me too, but his Teacher had already arranged for him to marry the daughter of the sworn brother of his father. You see, his parents had died when he was young, so his Teacher made all arrangements for him. He was a loyal person with a sense of honor, so, even though he loved me, he agreed to marry that woman. I was furious and attacked his Teacher who forced him to marry that woman. He beat me. I secluded myself to this pit and for three years I did nothing else but practice a Swordplay I had invented. I then used it to defeat Elder Duan. But my beloved had already married that woman, so there was no way we could be together. He only gave me a piece of warm jade with the characters of our names carved upon it. He also marveled my swordplay. He asked me what was it's name. I had not named it, so I asked him to do so. He named it 'Swordplay of the Goddess', because he said that the moves of the sword are divine and my beauty is like that of a goddess. But his words could not ease the pain in my heart. I did not wanted to live in this world. So, I secluded myself in this pit and meditated day and night. My internal energy became so profound that I did not age anymore. If my body has not become a skeleton now that I am dead, it means that my internal energy has reached the peak of perfection. Stranger passing by, I ask you to read my manual and master my swordplay, so it is not lost forever."

    Lung Chang felt sadness for that woman. She and that man were so much in love, but because of tradition and prearranged marriage, they did not end up together. And she, a goddess like beauty, lived a life of sadness alone in a dark pit and died here without anyone besides her. But, at the same times, he feels awed by her profound internal energy. She died almost 1,000 years ago and yet she still looks like a 30 years old woman. Lung Chang looks at her and sees a blue manual besides her. He picks it up and looks at it's pages; they show exquisite and ingenious sword stances. They look soft and elegant and imitate the moves of a lady.

    "This may be an ingenious swordplay, but it is too feminine for me to learn it!", Lung Chang says. But he then looks again at that woman who lost everything she loved and died alone in a dark pit and feels bad if he does not accomplish her dying wish. "Oh well! I shall learn it. It is not like I have anything better to do."

    So, he uses the branch he holds as a sword and practices the sword stances painted on the manual. As it is written in the first page of this manual: "This swordplay aims to use softness against prowess, speed and elegance against brute force, exquisite stances over simple swordplay. Like water overcomes huge rocks, this swordplay overcomes more brutal and powerful swordplays. This swordplay aims to use the strength of the enemy against him."

    And indeed, the sword stances of this swordplay are, as Lung Chang finds out when he practices it, extremely swift and fast. The stances are far too complicated and exquisite and Lung Chang has some difficulties learning them. They are unlike anything else in the Martial Arts World. They are so exquisite that the enemy cannot guess what comes next. The swordplay also allows the enemy to control the direction the sword is moving, until the right moment, when the enemy's strength can be used against him. The moves are soft and do not have power in them, so they aim for piercing the vital organs of a person, in order to injure him badly without having to use much force. After practicing for almost three hours, Lung Chang seems to have learned all the moves of the swordplay.

    He kowtows before the woman three times and respectfully says "Disciple Lung Chang bows before Teacher. Teacher, I need to leave this place. Once I have cleared my name, I will come again in this pit to pay my respects to you."

    Lung Chang then looks around for a door. He sees a stony gate and using his 'Saving Palms', he shatters it. Instead of a Hall, he finds some stony stairs that lead him up to the surface, to the forest besides the Shaolin Temple. Judging from the sun, Lung Chang guesses that it must be late afternoon. He walks into the Temple and heads towards his room, but on his way, the monk stops him.

    "Buddha bless you.", the monk says. "Where have you been?"

    "I...I could not sleep last night, so I went out and fell asleep."

    The monk looks at his head and sees that it is injured. "Why are you injured?"

    "As I was returning, I stumbled and my head hit a rock. That's why I did not come here immediately after I had woken up."

    "Oh, I see. Young hero Chong Guozhi [Lung Chang's fake name], please come with me. Abbot Yongyu wants to see you."

    Cold sweat runs like river in Lung Chang's face and he is anxious, but he has to agree. What will the Abbot say to him? Will he give him up to the Orthodox Sects?

  4. #24
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    Chapter VII: The Red Dragon


    Lung Chang is led by the Monk to a small wooden room where an old man is sitting on a mat and is praying before a small statue of Buddha.

    "Abbot!", the Monk says. "Young Hero Chong is here."

    He then turns towards Lung Chang and says: "This is Abbot Yongyu of Shaolin."

    Lung Chang bows before the Abbot. "Chong Guozhi pays respect to Elder Yongyu!"

    The Abbot just laughs and says: "Please, Young Hero, rise up."

    "Elder, I do not deserve the title of hero."

    "You do." He then points at the Monk. "Brother Lingfeng taught you 'Buddha's Palms' because he sensed that you are a good and upright person and that you will do great and heroic deeds for your nation."

    "So, that is the name of the Palm technique.", Lung Chang thought. He then replied: "I cannot thank you enough for your teaching. However, I have to leave this Temple. Please do no be offended by this. I really wish I could stay here, but I have to complete some tasks first."

    "Of course. How could we be offended by your request?"

    "Thank you."

    Lung Chang bows and is ready to leave when Lingfeng stops him. "Please, Young Hero, do not leave immediately. My Master wants to ask you a question first."

    "Of course."

    "Young Hero, how did you manage to obtain the 'Deadly Jade Sword' of Priest Yue Li?", the Abbot asks.

    "I have already told brother Lingfeng that I am a disciple of Wudang Sect and the Priest gave it to me."

    "Oh? I see. Forgive me for inquiring you."

    "I am not offended at all. If you have any more questions, please ask them."

    "I do not have any more questions. You can leave.". The Abbot gets up from his mat, pulls out a sword from his Buddhist gown and gives it to Lung Chang. "Here is your sword. Keep it well. It is an important treasure of Wudang. However, before you leave, I would like to ask you to go and see Miss Yang. She wants to thank you for saving her and her mother."

    "I bid you farewell."

    Lung Chang leaves the room and heads towards the room where Miss Yang and her mother are staying. He knocks the wooden door and waits for a few seconds before Yang Liqiu opens the door. When the young woman sees Lung Chang, she cannot hide her happiness.

    "Young Hero, please come in!"

    Lung Chang enters the room, but he does not see Liqiu's mother.

    "My mother is practicing her Swordplay outside. She told me to thank you for your help and to give you this."

    Liqiu pulls out a golden knife decorated with gems and hands it over to Lung Chang. "This knife can cut through everything. It will be very useful to you."

    "Miss, I cannot accept this gift. In fact, I should be the one to thank you, since you saved me."

    "Please, accept this gift. I will be offended if you do not accept it."

    "Alright. I shall accept this knife. I thank you."

    Lung Chang bows and leaves the room. He does not look back, as he does not wish to show that he has shed tears. He quickly wipes his tears and leaves. This act of Yang Liqiu had touched Lung Chang. For almost a year, he had met no friends and was all alone. He was treated as an outcast, as an enemy of the Martial Arts World. But now, someone actually treated him well. Miss Yang and her mother took him to the Shaolin Temple and looked after him. They thanked him again and again and gave him this precious treasure. Lung Chang felt that he was not alone and had some friends. But now, he has to leave and will be alone again.

    Meanwhile, in Luchow, a man hurries into the city on horseback. The white horse he is riding is tall and strong. And the man who is riding the horse is none other than Piao Zhen, former brother in arms of Lung Chang and Sect Leader of the Kunlun Sect. His horse gallops into the city with great speed, knocking off citizens who walk in the streets, until he reaches the Office of the Magistrate.

    The entrance to the Office is guarded by four soldiers. The soldiers wear an armor that is made from a multitude of small pieces of steel shaped like the Chinese character for the word "mountain" (山). The pieces are interlocked and riveted to a cloth backing. The armor effectively covers the torso, shoulders and thighs while remaining comfortable and flexible enough to allow movement.

    The soldiers stop Piao Zhen and one of them asks: "Do you have an Official Seal?"

    "No.", Piao Zhen replies. "But please tell Magistrate Chao that Piao Zhen wants to talk to him."

    The soldier grunted. "Who do you think you are? Get out of here before I beat you up!"

    "Ha! If you fight against me, you will not last even three moves."

    The soldier pulls out a sword and charges at Piao Zhen. Piao Zhen dodges the sword and with a swift move strikes out quickly at his opponent's eyes with the index and middle fingers of his right hand. He gouges out the soldier's eyes and blood runs like river on the man's face. He then kicks the man's chest with a powerful back kick which kills him.

    Piao Zhen laughs. "I told you that you would not last even three moves, but you did not listen to me. Well, this is what happens to arrogant people.". He then turns at the other three soldiers, who have been scared out of their wits. "Now, will you please fulfill my request?"

    "Yes, sir!", one of the soldiers replies and runs into the Office. A few minutes later, the Magistrate comes out of the Office with ten soldiers accompanying him and greets Piao Zhen. The Magistrate wears a red full-length robe with side slits beginning below the waist. There are side panels at the slits to conceal the undergarments and the robe is wide sleeved and has a belt. The Magistrate also wears a black hat with two wing-like flaps of thin, oval shaped boards on each side, indicating his status as an Official.

    The Magistrate bows slightly before Piao Zhen and says: "Magistrate Chao of Luchow pays his respect to the esteemed Sect Leader Piao Zhen of the Kunlun Sect.". He then shouts: "Men, take those three soldiers who guarded the entrance and dared to offend Mr. Piao and behead them!"

    The three soldiers cry and plead for mercy, but their comrades follow the orders of Chao and take them to be beheaded, leaving Magistrate Chao and Piao Zhen alone.

    "Master Piao, I am terribly sorry for this incident."

    "It's alright. Shall we go to you office to discuss?"

    "Of course."

    The two men enter into the Office and into a small room, that is nevertheless all gild. Even the desk of the Magistrate is golden. It shows the wealth and corruption of the Magistrate who overtaxes the people in order to live a luxurious life. The two men sit on two mats made from the best silk in the entire Ming Empire.

    "Brother Chao, I hate long speeches, so let's come to the point.", Piao Zhen says smilingly. "Have you got the map?"

    "Well....". Chao's face is sweating with cold sweat, showing his anxiousness.

    "Well what?"

    "I managed to get it but.... but... it was stolen."

    "How?!"

    "Well, the carriage which transferred the map here was attacked on it's way to the city by bandits and-"

    Before he can finish his sentence, Piao Zhen's right hand shoots out and grabs his neck.

    "Find me the map now or you will not live for too long."

    Piao Zhen leaves the room and Magistrate Chao, who breaths with great difficulty, shouts "Colonel Li, come here!".

    A tall fat man wearing a military armour similar to the one worn by the soldiers enters the room and bows before the Magistrate. "Colonel Li respectfully awaits orders from Magistrate Chao."

    "I want you to retake the map stolen by the bandits. You must complete your task in three days. I do not know how you will manage it, but if you fail, you shall be beheaded!"

    "Rest assured, sir! I will complete my task!"

    Colonel Li goes to the barracks and takes 40 soldiers with him. He then orders the soldiers to search around for any suspicious persons and to find information about the location of the bandits. The soldiers find the chance to use the excuse of "investigating" to loot all the shops in the city and commit murders, rapes and other despicable acts. One of those companies of soldiers enters the 'Tavern of Lu', the most famous tavern in the city. The six soldiers who enter the Tavern shout: "Everyone do not move! We are investigating an act of robbery and so we need your cooperation."

    The costumers are all scared and anxious, except for a young woman sitting on the left corner of the shop. That woman is Wu Lan, daughter of Wu Ma, brother of the deceased Chief of Huashan Sect, Master Wu Kang. After she had failed in her attempt to kill Lung Chang, she went further South to meet with her father. On her way South, she stopped at this Tavern to have a meal.

    The soldiers, seeing the Lan, come towards her. One of them smiles at her and says: "Pretty lady, why do you not come with us to have some fun?". The other soldiers laugh heartily, but Lan just walks away. The soldier grabs her arm and pulls her towards him, but she kicks him on the belly with a back kick and pulls out her sword.

    The soldier, despite being kicked, laughs and comments: "I like girls like you.". He and his comrades pull out their swords and charge at her. Lan, although furious with the soldiers, decides to retreat by a few steps; in a fight, no matter how angry you are, you must never act rashly.

    The soldiers surround her and one of them charges at her. She uses her sword to block the soldier's sword and a "clang" is heard. Although the power of the soldier is great, the internal energy of Lan is even greater and so the soldier is pushed back. She then somersaults and thrusts her sword directly towards an other soldier's throat. She pierces the throat and blood is spurted out from the throat. Two other soldiers charge against her, but Lan uses her lightness Kung Fu to retreat by a few steps. She then grabs one of the Tavern's wooden chairs and throws it at the two soldiers. Although the first dodges the chair, the second is hit by it and falls on the ground. The soldier who dodged the chair tries to run away, but Lan somersaults and kicks his stomach, causing him to vomit blood.

    Although she has killed one soldier and injured seriously an other, she still has to face four more soldiers. It is then when the shout of a man is heard: "Stop it!". The soldiers turn round and look at the man who shouted at them: Piao Zhen. After the execution of the three soldiers who dared to offend Piao Zhen, the soldiers of Magistrate Chao do not dare to disobey Piao Zhen's orders and run away.

    Piao Zhen approaches Lan, who is surprised to see how eagerly the soldiers obeyed this young and well dressed man.

    "Miss, I am Piao Zhen, Sect Leader of the Kunlun Sect. May I know your esteemed name?"

    "Oh...I see. You are the 'Gentleman Swordsman' Piao Zhen. It is of no surprise that the soldiers fled when they saw you. My name is Lan."

    "What about your family name?"

    "Is there any reason to ask so many questions?"

    Piao Zhen blushes. "No. I am just amazed with your skills. Miss Lan, where are you heading to?"

    "Wherever I want!"

    Lan is very annoyed with Piao Zhen bothering her with his constant questions and with her fiery temper, she cannot hide her annoyance any longer.

    "I am sorry if I have offended you. But, I would like to ask you some more questions."

    Lan just ignores him and walks away, but Piao Zhen somersaults and lands before her, stopping her from leaving.

    "So the Gentleman swordsman is in fact bullying women? What a great hero indeed!"

    Piao Zhen remains calm despite Lan's mockery.

    "Miss, you have misunderstood me."

    "Oh, really?"

    "Yes. I just want to exterminate the bandits of this area."

    "And what has this to do with me?!"

    "You are very highly skilled and you do not want to reveal your family name, so I believe that you are in cahoots with the bandits."

    "How dare you?!". Although Lan could easily have gotten out of trouble just by telling Piao Zhen of her family name, her fiery temper overtakes her and she slaps him. Piao Zhen just laughs.

    "Miss, please come with me to the Office of Magistrate Chao or I will have to offend you."

    "You dare?"

    "Of course I do."

    Lan charges forward with her sword against Piao Zhen. The move was so fast that the costumers watching the fight did not realized what happened until a few seconds later. However, Piao Zhen is a very highly skilled pugilist, despite his young age, and so he quickly stretches out his hand and easily grabs the sword by the hilt. He then seal Lan's Vital Points, temporary paralyzing her.

    He bows slightly before her and says: "Miss, I am sorry to have offended you, but I must end the suffering of the civilians and end the plague of the bandits in this region."

    Suddenly, a tall and handsome bearded man with naked muscular torso and wearing only black trousers, shouts: "It is not the bandits who plague the city. It is the corrupt Magistrate and his soldiers!". All of the costumers applaud him.

    "And may I know your esteemed name, sir?", Piao Zhen calmly asks. He does not want to cause a fight without knowing the identity of his enemy.

    "My name is Hong Long (Red Dragon) and I am leader of the 'bandits'."

    "So, you stole the map!?"

    Although Piao Zhen is normally calm and never gets angry, this time his anxiousness to find the map overtakes him.

    "What use is this map to you?"

    Piao Zhen thinks for a few seconds and does not reply, not wanting to reveal the true reasons he wants the map.

    Hong Long says: "What use does a hero like you has of a map showing the locations of all armies in the Ming Empire?"

    Piao Zhen knows that if he does not react quickly, his plans will fail. He strikes out with his palms, but the man dodges the attack and punches his right fist on Piao Zhen's left cheek. Piao Zhen vomits blood and Hong Long unseals Lan's Vital Points. Piao Zhen is ready to continue the fight, but Hong Long grabs Lan and uses his Lightness Kung Fu to run away. Hong Long's Lightness skill was unlike anything Piao Zhen had seen before; Hong Long run so fast that Piao Zgeb did not even realize that he had moved until many seconds later. Piao Zhen tries to follow them, but his lightness Kung Fu is not on par with Hong Long's. He will have to find an other way to catch that 'bandit'.

    Meanwhile, ten soldiers arrive at the Tavern, notified by the sound of fighting. Seeing Piao Zhen, they all bow before him. One of them says: "Master Piao, do you have any orders?"

    "Yes. Rush into the Tavern and execute everyone."

    Those who were in the Tavern heard too many things about the contents of the map and Piao Zhen cannot take the risk of letting them leave and spread the story about the map. So, the soldiers charge into the Tavern and massacre everyone. They also find the chance to loot the place. Why Piao Zhen wants to get this map? Who is Hong Long?

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    Thanks Christos 200. Looks like things are hotting up.

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    Thanks Christos200

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    Chapter VIII: Trap in a Buddhist Monastery

    Piao Zhen is furious; how could he, considered one of the great Kung Fu masters of his age and being Sect Leader of Kunlun Sect, one of the largest Martial Arts Sects in China, be unable to capture a girl and a simple bandit? However, Hong Long's lightness skill was excellent, so how could he capture them?

    Piao Zhen's eyes emit the light of fire in them and his face is red. When Piao Zhen enters the Office of Magistrate Chao, the Magistrate sees how furious he is and cold sweat runs on his face.

    "Please Master Piao, come in.", the Magistrate says and leads Piao Zhen to a silk mat. Piao Zhen sits on the mat and Chao quickly brings a cup of tea.

    "Please, drink this tea. It is one of the best in all of China. It is called 'Green Dragon Tea'."

    Piao Zhen sips the tea and gets the pleasant feeling of warm liquid entering his stomach. He also feels that his throat is better and that he will be able to speak even more clearly than before. But, most of all, he absolute loves the taste of this tea. For Green Dragon Tea has a very sweet taste and is indeed one of the best Teas in all of China. This tea is very rare to be found and Piao Zhen had never tasted before. Being a great lover of tea, Piao Zhen feels his anger retreating and calms. It is not hard for him to calm. After all, he is the "Gentleman Swordsman", a swordsman who never gets angry and is always a gentleman.

    Magistrate Chao is relieved to see that the tea had the expected influence on his guest; Chao had given the tea to Piao Zhen in order to calm him down.

    "Master Piao, what can I do for you?"

    "You know what I want you to do. You must find the whereabouts of the bandits!"

    "Sir, it is not my wish to offend you, but I really cannot find the location of the bandits. My soldiers have searched all of the city and they have been unable to find anything suspicious."

    "Maybe, instead of trying to find out their location, we could lure them to come here. Have you heard of a man called Hong Long?"

    "Yes. He is the self-proclaimed leader of the bandits."

    "Announce to all of the city that he has been captured and shall be executed in public in two days."

    "But, this bandit must have returned to his stronghold by now. So, his comrades shall not be fooled."

    "It is impossible for all bandits to have returned to their stronghold and to know where their leader is. Some of them must have remained here, and one of them should be loyal enough to try and rescue his leader. So, we should be able to capture at least one bandit. Hong Long is a loyal and chivalrous person, so I am sure that he will try to rescue this fool who will fall in our hands, especially since he would have been captured while trying to 'save' him."

    Meanwhile, in a bamboo forest outside Luchow, Hong Long and Wu Lan are walking. Hong Long had taken Wu Lan to the stronghold of the bandits and allowed her to rest there. Now, they are taking a walk a few miles away from the stronghold.

    "Miss Wu.", Hong Long says. "I saved you from this Piao Zhen. So, I want to ask you for a favor. "

    "What favor? I will do my best to repay your help."

    Hong Long gives Wu Lan the map with the locations of the Ming armies.

    "Please take this map and leave this place. This map should not fall to Piao Zhen's hands."

    "I will do my best to protect this map. I bid you farewell."

    Wu Lan walks away and Hong Long gazes at her, silently praying that the map will be safe with her. If that map were to fall in the wrong hands, it would be disastrous. For if that map was given to an enemy of China, the enemy would know the exact locations of all Ming armies and thus would be able to easily defeat the Ming Empire, by surprising and encircling all of it's armies in the frontier and would know the exact routes which the Ming armies would have to use in order to counter the invasion, thus giving the invader the chance to prepare ambushes. Although, to say the truth, even if the map did not fall in the wrong hands, the Ming Empire would still be very likely defeated by a foreign invasion, considering how corrupt and incompetent the Generals are, how the Imperial Court believes in slanders and executes the few competent patriotic Generals, like Yuan Chonghuan, and how untrained and undisciplined the Ming soldiers are.

    At the same time Hong Long thinks about the desperate situation of Ming China, the soldiers of Magistrate Chao have set up a platform in the middle of Luchow. Two of them bring a hooded man onto the platform. They kick him and spit on him, shouting insults at him, like "You bastard Hong Long, you though that you could escape us? Now we shall drink wine using your skull! Hahaha!"

    Suddenly, a middle-aged man wearing a brown gown somersaults onto the platform. Three soldiers charge at him with their swords, but the man sends out his palms at them, creating a gust of wind which sends the soldiers flying miles away.

    "Chief!!", the man shouts and charges at the two soldiers which hold the hooded man. The soldiers are scared out of their wits; they throw away their weapons and run away. The man bows before the hooded man and says: "Chief, are you alright?".

    Instead of replying, the hooded man seals the Vital Points of the man with a swift move. He then takes off the hood, revealing that he is in fact Piao Zhen, not Hong Long! Piao Zhen laughs. "Soldiers, take this man to the Office of Magistrate Chao!"

    "Yes, sir!", fat Colonel Li says and two soldiers grab the middle-aged man.

    A few hours later, Piao Zhen and Magistrate Chao talk once again about the bandits, sitting on the silk mats and drinking Green Dragon Tea.

    "Master Piao, I want to ask your permission to take the prisoner to an other place."

    "Why?"

    "You see, by searching for the bandits, we have already disrupted once the peace in the city. If we were to hold the bandit here in my Office, the bandits would surely try to rescue him. And since my Office is in the center of the city, there will be civilian casualties and businesses here would take a heavy blow. And this will be bad for the local economy. If the owners of the shops do not have any money, who can I blackmail for gold?"

    "And where do you want to take the bandit to?"

    "To a Buddhist Monastery a few miles away from the city. I will then have some of my soldiers to go to a tavern here, pretend to be drunk and reveal that we have moved to bandit to the Monastery. Thus, the bandits will try to save their comrade and shall fall into our trap. Also, hiding the bandit in the Monastery will make it more unlikely for the bandits to suspect that we are setting up a trap."

    "You are right. Very well, do as you say. But if anything wrong happens, both you and your Colonel shall be beheaded!"

    "I will do my best to serve you, Master Piao!"

    Indeed, three days later, one the bandits that was staying in the city and was used as a spy by the bandits, comes to the stronghold of the bandits. He enters the Main Hall and bows before Hong Long, who is sitting on a wooden throne and is surrounded by his comrades.

    "Talk!", Hong Long orders.

    "Sir, I have learned that the bastard soldiers have taken Comrade Peng to the Buddhist Monastery."

    "How did you learn this?"

    "I came to a tavern in the city to scout for news about Comrade Peng and heard two drunken soldiers bragging about how they will force him to reveal our whereabouts and how we shall never find out that they have hidden him in the Monastery."

    One of the comrades of Hong Long, a very fat man who wears only purple trousers, allowing everyone to see his naked huge belly, and who is nicknamed as the "Fat Zhuge Liang", whispers to Hong Long's right ear: "Chief, I believe that it is a trap. We should not go to the Monastery. Those soldiers may have been bragging in order to lure us to go there."

    Hong Long shouts: "How can I not go there?! I would go even if I knew that it was a trap! Comrade Peng put his life in danger in order to save me, how can I not do the same? Will I be a real man and hero if I hide here like a coward and let my comrade be tortured to death?"

    "But, Chief, you should think carefully of how we can save Brother Peng."

    "You are the 'Zhuge Liang'. So, why do you not think of some idea?"

    "I have an idea! Monk Chaoxiang and Scholar Jue, come here!"

    A young handsome Buddhist monk in his mid twenties and a middle aged scholar covered with dirt and oil and holding an old and broken black oil paper fan in his hands bow before Hong Long. "Chief! We await you orders!"

    Hong Long says: "Fat Zhuge, tell them your plan."

    "I will, Chief! You two, listen well. You, Chaoxiang, will pretend to be a Monk in the Monastery.". Chaoxiang, before joining the bandits, was actually a Monk in that Monastery, so not only he knows the ways in the Monastery, but he is also friend with many of the Monks and so the chances of the soldiers discovering that he is not a Monk in that Monastery anymore will be minimal. "You, Jue, will pretend to be a poor scholar who wants to take shelter to the Monastery for a day. Of course, Piao Zhen will suspect you and the soldiers shall be spying on you. Your job will be to sneak out of the Monastery in the middle of the night. The soldiers that spy on you will follow you and will be lured away from the Monastery, allowing Chaoxiang to save Peng."

    "Excellent plan!", exclaims Hong Long, in awe of Zhuge Liang's brilliant plan.

    The two bandits follow Zhuge Liang's plan; Chaoxiang sneaks into the Monastery and pretends to be a Monk while Jue asks the Monks for shelter for a day in the Monastery. The same night, Jue sneaks out of his room and with slow steps he moves towards the Monastery's outer stone wall. He then uses his Qinggong to somersault and jump above the wall, landing outside of the Monastery. He looks around for a few moments and then runs away. As expected, ten soldiers follow Jue, but Jue pretends not to have seen them.

    Chaoxiang, being a 'Monk' in the Monastery, is able to move more freely and so he heads quickly towards Jue's room. Seeing that Jue has left his room, he understands that he must act fast and heads towards the Back Hall of the Ten Buddhas, called so because that Hall has ten golden statues of Buddha in it.

    Chaoxiang sneaks into the room and, hiding behind one of the ten statues of Buddha, sees twelve soldiers guarding Peng, who is tied with a rope. Chaoxiang work a number of darts into his right palm and flings them at the soldiers, silently killing all of them. He then unties his comrade.

    "Brother Peng.", he whispers. "Are you alright?"

    "I think so.", Peng replies.

    But before the two of them can walk away, Piao Zhen, along with twenty archers and ten spearmen, enters the Hall. The soldier surround the two bandits, making it impossible for them to escape.

    Piao Zhen laughs. "When my spies reported that the scholar was sneaking out of the Monastery, I immediately understood that you wanted to lure my soldiers away. And so, I prepared this trap for you."

    Chaoxiang and Peng know that any further resistance is futile, so they allow themselves to be arrested. Jue kills six of the ten soldiers that follow him and, after waiting for the whole night Chaoxiang, goes back to the bandit's stronghold the next morning. He bows before his Chief and with tears in his eyes, he informs him of the situation: "Chief, our plan failed!"

    "Dammit!", Hong Long shouts. "I will undertake myself the task of saving them. All men, prepare for battle!"

    The bandits are quite powerful in that area. Hong Long is able to muster up to 100 men, all well trained fighters. The soldiers march in battle formation towards the Monastery. Jue had confirmed that the Magistrate had send only 65 soldiers to the Monastery. But the real strength of the soldiers is lower, since Jue had killed six of the ten men that followed him the previous night and Chaoxiang had killed twelve soldiers in his failed attempt to save Peng. Surely, Piao Zhen would not expect that Hong Long would be rash enough to attack openly with all of his men the Monastery.

    Hong Long leads the men on horseback, riding a black horse. Soon, they reach the outskirts of the Monastery. Hong Long sends Zhuge Liang, who is on foot, along with two horsemen to scout the enemy forces. The horsemen ride froward and Zhuge Liang uses his excellent lightness Kung Fu to follow them. Zhuge Liang, being so fat, cannot ride a horse, for it will not withstand his huge weight. A few minutes later, Zhuge Liang and the two other scouts return and report that the Monastery is guarded on the outside by twenty-eight archers and thirteen spearmen.

    "Attack!", Hong Long shouts and more than 100 bandits charge with their swords at the few Ming soldiers. The soldiers expected the enemy and were on high alert, but they also expected only a few pugilists, not an entire mini army of bandits. The archers quickly take positions and form three straight lines. The archers of the first line are on their knees and are almost almost bowing, in order to allow the other two lines of archers behind them to fire their arrows. The archers of the second line stand up, but because those archers are shorter than the ones of the third line, the archers of the third line are able to fire their arrows.

    The archers shoot their arrows, killing tens of bandits, but soon more bandits come and the formation is broken. The thirteen spearmen try to repulse the bandits, and to their honor, they fight quite bravely, unlike most Ming soldiers, who are usually untrained and lazy.

    Soldiers fight on top of tens of dismembered bodies. Heads, hands, chests, even eyes and ears are lying on the ground, all covered in blood. The soldiers on both sides fight their enemies with every weapon they can find. They use rocks to break the head of their enemies. They even fight with their bare hands. But, the Ming soldiers are heavily outnumbered and so they are defeated.

    The bandits charge into the Monastery, only to see that aside from the corpses of the Monks, who seem to have been massacred, there is no one in the Monastery. Zhuge Liang immediately understands that something is wrong, but before he can inform Hong Long, the Monastery becomes engulfed in fire. It seems that Piao Zhen had moved away Chaoxiang and Peng the previous night and was expecting the attack, so he sacrificed the soldiers guarding the Monastery in order to lure the bandits into it and burn them alive. And he had also massacred the Monks in order to make sure that no one would inform the bandits or help them find a way out of the flaming hell that the Monastery has become. What a brilliant plan!

    Will the bandits be able to escape the flames alive? Or shall they be burned to death? Will Piao Zhen manage to reclaim the map? What is Lung Chang doing all the while? Find out in the next chapter!
    Last edited by Christos200; 07-27-14 at 10:43 AM.

  8. #28
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    Thank you, please continue.

  9. #29
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    Thanks Christos200

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