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Thread: Swordsman the Lost Duel

  1. #1
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Default Swordsman Redux

    Inspired by the exciting Swordsman stories on this forum I have written this short story.

    Enjoy


    ########

    He stood alone on the flat plateau of Repentance Cliff a white cloak draped loosely on his shoulders protecting him from the night air. The sky was clear allowing the full moon and stars to illuminate the cliff in an ethereal silver glow. The celestial bodies revealed a man well past middle age, with a clean shaven face and long black hair streaked with silver, held in place by a simple black ribbon. His features were handsome with an exotic air emphasized by his beautiful emerald eyes.

    At a distance his clothing seemed plain, but on closer inspection the quality of the material and the skill in the stitching was clear.
    His relaxed pose and steady breathing gave no indication of his epic feat accomplished mere moments ago when he had scaled the cliff face. Of course for a man of his abilities climbing the hundreds of feet of rock had been no more difficult than taking a stroll.

    He stood facing a solitary pavilion which along with a large rock that had the name of the location engraved on it, were the only landmarks on the otherwise desolate cliff. The pavilion housed a stone table and four stone chairs. The man had placed two sheathed swords on the table along with a jade bottle and three jade cups.
    One of the swords had a hilt of gold bounded in deer hide and large enough to be gripped by two hands. The pommel was a rare black pearl and the circular guard made of tempered steel. The sheath was made of brown lacquered wood which had been polished to a smooth shine. The name of this magnificent weapon was Swimming Dragon.

    The other blade had an ivory hilt of the same length wrapped in shark skin and a sheath of stained black wood. Like the man the blade looked simple, crude even, to the casual observer. But if someone was to pick it up they would have been awed by the intricate carvings on the hilt and sheath depicting predatory animals in frightening realism. This was Maiden's Tears which along with Swimming Dragon were the man's family heirlooms.

    The owner of these renowned swords was Bai Nianfei, whose fame eclipsed even those of his prized weapons.
    From his position Bai Nianfei had the cliff edge to his left and the mouth of a large cave to his right. He allowed his mind to wander as he enjoyed the cool air.

    Suddenly Bai Nianfei's ears pricked up. His senses had been homed to an almost supernatural sharpness allowing him to hear the near silent footsteps approaching from the cave and the cliff edge. A smile played on his lips as he awaited his companions.
    The first arrival came from the cave. A man about the same age as Bai Nianfei emerged from the cave mouth. Wearing a well worn hemp robe the man looked like a hermit, an image further enhanced by his thick beard and uncombed hair. This was Feng Qingyang the patriarch of the Mount Hua School whose domain they were in.

    A few heartbeats after Feng Qingyang's appearance the last of the companions joined them. Rising from the edge of the cliff like a great bird of prey Lin Yuantu floated onto the plateau. The founder of the Fuwei Escort Agency whose 72 Evil Resisting Sword had rocked the Martial Arts world stood out in stark contrast to the other men. While Bai Nianfei looked the picture of dignified austerity and Feng Qingyang the classic wild eccentric, Lin Yuantu's appeared almost gaudy. Dressed in a bright red robe with flowers and birds sewn in gold thread he practically shone with his own light. Sporting a well groomed moustache Lin Yuantu looked every inch the wealthy gentleman.

    Bai Nianfei turned to his right inclining his head to Feng Qingyang as a show of respect to the man whose domain they were in. Receiving the same gesture back Bai Nianfei turned to Lin Yuantu and repeated the motion all the while suppressing a chuckle at the perfume wafting of the man.

    Lin Yuantu returned the gesture and they proceeded to the pavilion, thus began the meeting of the three greatest warriors of the age.
    Being a mutual friend of both Feng Qingyang and Lin Yuantu, Bai Nianfei played host and made the introductions. Soon wine and conversation flowed. Despite their varying appearances the three of them talked like the best of friends, discussing every subject under heaven. All of them were men of the world, each had experienced all the joys and pains the Martial Arts World could offer. Here they could share their experiences with like minded people who could understand the sorrows each of them carried in their hearts.

    As the moon reached it's zenith the conversation trailed off. Feng Qingyang and Lin Yuantu turned towards Bai Nianfei who gave them a slight nod. With tense silence Feng Qingyang and Lin Yuantu stepped out of the pavilion each of them picking up one of the swords as they left.

    Standing twenty feet apart the legendary swordsmen faced each other and slowly drew their weapons. Bai Nianfei felt on odd mixture of awe and despair as the swords were drawn. The moonlight danced of the blade of Swimming Dragon, refracting of the crushed gems worked into the steel it bathed the cliff in a rainbow of majestic light.

    Maiden's Tears worked her magic a moment later when her blade sliced through the wind. The small grooves expertly carved into the metal channelled the air into a beautiful yet sad whistle, like the song of a young woman for her departed lover.
    Bai Nianfei forced clarity into his mind, determined to do his duty as the judge to this epic fight, a contest the world had not seen in a hundred years.

    Lin Yuantu moved with impossible speed, eating up the distance between him and Feng Qingyang in the blink of an eye. Swimming Dragon became a streak of purple lightning as it sped towards Feng Qingyang's throat. The move was so fast that it nearly escaped even Bai Nianfei's veteran gaze.

    Most men would have been cowed by such an attack but not Feng Qingyang. With the perfect timing gained through a lifetime of combat he lunged Maiden's Tears forward at exactly the same height as Lin Yuantu's attack parrying Swimming Dragon away and aiming the tip of Maiden's Tears at Lin Yuantu's exposed neck.

    However if Feng Qingyang thought to end this duel quickly he was to be disappointed as Lin Yuantu leapt backwards allowing Maiden's Tears to find nothing but empty air.


    After this initial exchange the duel began in earnest. Bai Nianfei remained statue still as he marvelled at the amazing display of skill being played out before him. The only part of him that showed any animation were his emerald eyes. They moved as if possessed as he followed the master swordmen.

    Feng Qingyang was constantly on the attack trying to corner Lin Yuantu so that he could bring his superior technique to bare. But no matter how hard he pressed Lin Yuantu would always slip away. His unbelievable speed made Lin Yuantu as elusive as the wind while he darted around the plateau, always staying just out of reach on Feng Qingyang.

    Lin Yuantu's actions were not restricted solely to eluding his opponent. Many times he tried to overwhelm Feng Qingyang with a series of rapid attacks. But no matter how blindingly fast his attacks were, Feng Qingyang would always neutralise them with a careful positioning of his sword or a turn of his body.

    So they fought for over two hundred moves until finally Feng Qingyang seemed to gain the upper hand. Having trapped Lin Yuantu on the wrong side of the plateau Feng Qingyang was gradually pushing him towards the edge of the cliff. Three times Lin Yuantu went on the offensive trying to force Feng Qingyang back, but each time Feng Qingyang met the attacks head on and his superior skills forced Lin Yuantu to retreat.

    Lin Yuantu took a step back and found open air as he foot dangled of the cliff edge. Feng Qingyang lunged forward, victory filling his heart. Incredibly Lin Yuantu leapt into the air with his single foot that was still on solid ground. Rising to the height of Feng Qingyang's shoulders he stepped onto the flat of Maiden's Tears blade then jumped twenty feet into the night sky.
    Using his Qi to lighten his weight Lin Yuantu suspended himself in the air and unleashed wave after wave of sword Qi at Feng Qingyang. Each wave was launched from a different angle and channelled through Swimming Dragon no two wave manifested itself in the same colour.

    Feng Qingyang backed away and Maiden's Tears became a shard of moonlight as he concentrated his Qi into the blade. As each wave reached him Feng Qingyang would dissipate it with his Qi charged sword always striking the waves in a position that caused the energy to unravel harmlessly.

    Lin Yuantu dived towards Feng Qingyang with the ferocity of an eagle Swimming Dragon leaving a streak of gold in his wake. Feng Qingyang thrust the glowing Maiden's Tears upwards and the points of the two swords met. A powerful wave of Qi energy rippled out from the point of contact and both men were hurled backwards.

    Bai Nianfei slammed his palm onto the stone table and a Qi bubble sprung up around the pavilion protecting him from the oncoming wave which left deep scares on the rock-face.

    The duellist faced each other in defensive positions ready to continue their contest. Bai Nianfei's steady clapping filled the air and they turned to face him. Picking up the jade bottle Bai Nianfei filled the cups signalling the end of the duel.
    Last edited by Mandred Skavenslayer; 10-28-14 at 06:33 PM.

  2. #2
    Member optimus610's Avatar
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    You wrote this very well. Good work. You just need to space things out instead of having things clumped together.
    If anyone is interested in some of my other work. You can check them out here https://www.fanfiction.net/u/106973/

  3. #3
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by optimus610 View Post
    You wrote this very well. Good work. You just need to space things out instead of having things clumped together.
    Thanks for the feed back. Have editted the post as suggested.

    PS hope to read your next chapter soon

  4. #4
    Junior Member Steven Chen's Avatar
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    Interesting story. The hardest part of writing a wuxia novel is describing the fighting details. Well done

    I was thinking about a sequel of swordsman 2013. The plot involves lhc's two only disciples. Both are talented swordsman with different personalities. Only one was able to win the heart of the daughter he never knew he had but there are too many swordsman stories already

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    Nice writing thanks Mandred!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Chen View Post
    Interesting story. The hardest part of writing a wuxia novel is describing the fighting details. Well done

    I was thinking about a sequel of swordsman 2013. The plot involves lhc's two only disciples. Both are talented swordsman with different personalities. Only one was able to win the heart of the daughter he never knew he had but there are too many swordsman stories already
    Thanks for the kind words. If you really want to then please write your story. The more the merrier I say.

    I'll read it if no one else would

  7. #7
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it

  8. #8
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    As the response to my short story seems to be quite positive I have decided to run with it.

    Here is Chapter 1. Enjoy


    Old friends New memories




    White Tiger Palace had been built on a small island in the middle of great Yangtze River. Protected on three sides by the mighty river it was accessible only from the east side where a single strip of land connected it to the riverbank. This land-bridge was wide enough for four large carts to travel on simultaneously and was well paved to make such travel even easier.

    Anyone travelling on the land-bridge would have found their attention drawn not to the paved road but to the formidable gates that guarded it. The gates were three in number and were of ascending height. The lowest of the gates was located where the land-bridge met the riverbank. Made of metre thick stone blocks the gate straddled the entire length of this part of the land-bridge. Although short in comparison to the other gates it still rose over 10 feet high.

    The second gate was placed in the middle of the land-bridge and was made of the same thick stone blocks. This gate rose nearly 20 feet into the air and offered the perfect location to shoot arrows at any invaders passing through the first gate.

    The last and mightiest gate was built where the island met the land-bridge. Again made of thick stone blocks it was 30 feet high and formed the centre point of a great wall that ringed the entire coast of the island. Each gate had a heavy wooden door at its heart which could be swung closed and bolted at a moments notice.

    The location of the Palace along with its powerful fortifications ensured that no enemy had ever taken it by force in its two hundred years history.

    Inside the walls were sumptuous houses made of highly decorated wood and tiled roofs able to accommodate up to a thousand people. At the centre was the main Citadel, a vast structure which loomed over every other building on the island. The Citadel's wooden beams and walls were painted in purple, lending a majestic air to the residence of the ruling Bai family.

    Bai Nianfei entered the family shrine and offered incense to the memorial tablets. Having paid his respects to the ancestors Bai Nianfei went to a side door and opened it to a small room where three memorial tablets were placed on a table.

    Bai Nianfei picked up the central tablet and ran his fingers lovingly over the engraved name of his wife. Earlier that day he had received word that a close friend had passed away. Feeling in a melancholy mood he had came to this place to seek the company of his wife.

    She was a good woman whom he had loved with all his heart. Many had been surprised that he had chosen a simple peasant to be the mistress of the Palace, but Bai Nianfei had lost his heart to her and refused any talk of making her a concubine while he found a more appropriate match.

    Meise had a quiet emotional strength that helped calm Bai Nianfei's heart whenever he was in emotional turmoil. As they got to know each other better Bai Nianfei found himself drawing more and more on that strength until he couldn't imagine life without it.

    Their time together had been the happiest of his life. Never before had he felt so at peace with himself. But fate rarely allowed such bliss to last and Meise had been taken from him while giving life to their son Bai Yingfeng. Bai Nianfei had focussed all of his love onto his son, the only link he had left to Meise. He took the greatest joy in watching his son grow, finding unknown pride in Bai Yingfeng's smallest achievements.

    At the age of 18 Bai Yingfeng had fallen in love and married. Within two years the happy union had given Bai Nianfei a grandson whom he named Bai Xuesheng. Once more Bai Nianfei's life was complete, but again fate was to interfere.

    When Bai Xuesheng was three a plague had struck the lands surrounding the Palace. While some people may have closed the great gates and waited out the epidemic that was not the way of the Bai family. Gathering all the medical supplies and books in the Palace they had gone to the people's aid, leaving only Bai Xuesheng and the servants within the Palace.

    After six months the plague had been eradicated but Bai Yingfeng and his wife had been amongst its last victims. This second tragedy nearly destroyed Bai Nianfei, but he found salvation in Bai Xuesheng. Bai Nianfei could not allow himself to be overwhelmed by grief, his grandson needed him. So at an age when most men were enjoying the tranquillity of their golden years Bai Nianfei found himself raising a child.


    That was 14 years ago. Bai Nianfei held his wife's memorial tablet to his breast and allowed his mind to indulge in the past. The death of his friend made him feel like a relic of a by gone era. Once he was one of the three most renowned warriors of the Martial Arts world. Of the other two, Feng Qingyang had retreated into his self imposed isolation and Lin Yuantu was long dead. While Bai Nianfei grieved for the death of a friend he could not help but feel a sense of relief.

    Always Lin Yuantu had had a strange cloak of self loathing about him, not so much for some past misdeed but more as if he hated himself for being who he was. Bai Nianfei had never asked his friend about this side of him, but sometimes when drunk Lin Yuantu would reminiscence about his days of being a monk and wish he was back in the tranquillity of Shaolin Monastery.

    A gentle knock on the door pulled Bai Nianfei back to the present. Placing Meise back with Bai Yingfeng and his wife Bai Nianfei stepped out of the shrine to find Bai Xuesheng waiting for him:

    “You wanted to see me grand-papa?”

    “Yes. Come lets talk in the training hall”



    The training hall had racks of weapons on the East and West walls. The doors were on the South side and the North was reserved for Swimming Dragon and Maiden's Tears which hung on the otherwise empty wall. Bai Nianfei strolled up to the family heirlooms and tenderly stroked the sheathed blades. Being an expert in empty hand combat Bai Nianfei had never used the swords, but the Bai family had an extensive history in the sword art and past heads of the family had won much renown with them.

    Turning around Bai Nianfei studied his grandson who was standing in the middle of the hall, straight backed and alert awaiting his commands. Bai Xuesheng was a strapping young man inheriting the exotic good-looks and distinct emerald eyes of his forefathers. Tall with broad shoulders and narrow hips to had the stature of a fighter. These physical traits coupled with a keen intellect made him a worthy heir to the Bai family name.

    There were of course less admirable aspects to Bai Xuesheng's character, but none of these were irredeemable and Bai Nianfei was confident that his grandson would grow out of them.

    In the most serious voice he could muster Bai Nianfei spoke:

    “An old friend of mine, Ren Tianba was recently passed away. I want you to go to the Sun-Moon Cult and by my respects to him”

    “When do we leave grand-papa?”

    You will leave tomorrow morning. I will be staying at the Palace and letting these old bones rest”

    Bai Xuesheng's face beamed with excitement. This was the first time his grandfather had allowed him to go on a mission on his own:

    “I'll go prepare right away”

    As he reached the doors Bai Nianfei called him back:

    “I know what you are thinking and while I won't begrudge you a little fun, try not to spend the entire family fortune on the brothels.”

    Bai Xuesheng blushed at his grandfather's words. Despite his young age he had built up quite a reputation amongst the locals. Every parent and husband with a pretty daughter or wife lived in fear of Bai Xuesheng, who had made a habit of stealing the hearts of any young woman that took his fancy.

    However Bai Xuesheng was not universally loathed. His amorous tendencies made him a frequent client of the local brothels where the courtesans swooned over his good looks and well composed poetry.

    Bowing deeply Bai Xuesheng spoke in imitation of the serious tone his grandfather had used:

    “By your command Lord Bai”

    #####

    Bai Xuesheng rode up to the foot of Black-wood Cliff after three months of travelling. He smiled at how he had managed to make a trip that should have taken only one month last three times as long. He had indulged in his taste for adventure and women on his travel, getting involved in countless brawls or spending passionate nights in the embrace of willing women.

    His smile waned as a less pleasant memory surfaced, for it was during this time that he had killed his first man. It was during a visit to a brothel and Bai Xuesheng had got into an argument with another patron. The man had sent a clumsy punch at Bai Xuesheng which he easily caught. With contemptuous ease he had thrown the man into a near by table and turned away.

    As Bai Xuesheng was ascending the stairs with his arm around the courtesan that he had been fighting over, suddenly he heard rapid footsteps chasing after him. Turning quickly he saw the man he had just beaten come running at him with a knife. The man thrust the knife in an underarm lunge. Instinctively Bai Xuesheng slammed his right palm onto the man's elbow and his left palm shot upwards braking the man's wrist.

    The knife flew out of the man's broken arm and stabbed into his throat. Bai Xuesheng saw the look of shock in the man's eye before the life slowly drained away. Bai Xuesheng had fled the brothel and had retched into a quiet street corner. For many nights he had been plagued with nightmares of the dead man rising from his grave to revenge on him.

    Finally his intellect had won over his emotional turmoil. Slowly he clawed his way back to sanity, justifying his action as self defence, as bad luck, even shifting the blame to the dead man, as it was him who had pulled the knife. Although Bai Xuesheng would go onto kill many more times, the memory of his first kill would follow him to the grave.

    Reaching the first guard post Bai Xuesheng pushed the disturbing memory aside and announced himself to the guard.

    #####

    Ren Woxing sat on his gilded throne. To his left stood Dongfang Bubai his second in command. To his right sat his wife and his daughter. At the foot of the dais where the throne was placed, stood Xiang Wentian his left emissary and Qu Yang his right emissary.

    The doors of the throne room swung open and a herald announced the arrival of Bai Xuesheng. As the young man approached Ren Woxing studied his guest. He was impressed by the man's steady walk and proud posture. He walked with the confidence of youth coupled with great dignity, showing no hint of nerves.

    Stopping a respectful distance from the throne Bai Xuesheng saluted Ren Woxing:

    “Bai Xuesheng greets Lord Ren” As he spoke the words Bai Xuesheng studied his host. Ren Woxing was a man well into middle age but still had the strong build of a seasoned warrior. His long black hair was speckled with grey and matched the well groomed beard he wore.

    But it was his eyes that caught Bai Xuesheng's attention. They were the eyes of a predator, which although at rest now held the potential for explosive violence.

    The man to his left wore a white robe and a black hat. He was clean shaven with a small lean frame. His face was incredibly good-looking, pretty even. This intrigued Bai Xuesheng as he had never seen a man who looked like this.

    Bai Xuesheng guessed the woman and girl to his right were Ren Woxing's family. The women looked about a decade younger than Ren Woxing, but she was still attractive. The girl looked about 10. She had a sweet smile and intelligent eyes.
    The men at the bottom of the dais were about the same age as Ren Woxing and each had the look of seasoned fighters.

    Ren Woxing acknowledged the greeting and introduced everyone, then asked after Bai Nianfei.

    “On behalf of my grandfather I thank Lord Ren for your concern. By your Lordship's grace by grandfather is in good health. However he grieves for the lost of Lord Ren Tianba and offers his condolences.”

    “The death of my illustrious uncle is a great loss to all of us. I thank Lord Bai for his kind words”

    “If I may be so bold I would like to pay my respects to Lord Ren Tianba”

    “But of course. Brother Dongfang was my late uncle's student, he will take you to the grave”

    At Ren Woxing's words Dongfang Bubai started walking down the dais until he stood before Bai Xuesheng. As they saluted each other Bai Xuesheng examined his guide in more detail. He noted that they were about his age and that Dongfang Bubai was perhaps half a head shorter than himself. Bai Xuesheng also revised his earlier assessment of Dongfang Bubai's looks. They weren't pretty, they were beautiful.

    As Dongfang Bubai and Bai Xuesheng left Ren Woxing turned to his wife:

    “My dear, please take Yingying to the garden I have something to discuss with the emissaries.”

    When he was alone with the emissaries Ren Woxing addressed Xiang Wentian:

    “Are the men in place?”

    “Yes my Lord. Dongfang Bubai will not survive. But my Lord, if you think he is disloyal why don't you just kill him.”

    “Because I have no proof. He is the student of my uncle and if I move against him without evidence I could have a civil war on my hands. This way I could claim that the attack was targeted at Bai Xuesheng and deflect any suspicion.”

    The emissaries nodded, acknowledging the truth in Ren Woxing's words. However Qu Yang still had doubts:

    “But my Lord, if Bai Xuesheng is killed won't that make Bai Nianfei into our enemy?”

    “We can just say that the attack was done by enemies of the Bai family and that Dongfang Bubai died trying to save him. That should pacify the old man.”

    This time there were no more objections to Ren Woxing's words.



    Dongfang Bubai and Bai Xuesheng knelt before Ren Tianba's grave. It was a grand construction as befitting a prominent member of the Sun-Moon Cult. Created by master masons it was dominated by a marble statue of a slumbering wolf. As the two of them offered incense to Ren Tianba's spirit a mighty roar erupted from the smaller graves surrounding them and dozens of armed men fell upon them.

    Dongfang Bubai reached into his sleeve and pulled out a handful of sewing needles which he hurled at the nearest men. Each needle found its mark piercing skulls, necks or chests instantly killing anyone they hit.

    Bai Xuesheng slammed his palm into the ground and the area around him erupted in a series of small explosions sending buried stones towards the men nearest to him. Although lacking his companions accuracy the power with which the missiles were launched meant that anything they met they destroyed, be it soft flesh or hard bone.

    As the men in the front fell they disrupted the charge of their comrades. Dongfang Bubai was amongst them before they could recover. Moving like mist, he danced amongst his foes and not one of their weapons could touch him. But this was a dance of death as he lashed out with his fingers. His attacks hit dangerous acupoints in his enemies, stopping hearts or paralysing nerves in accordance to his whim.

    On his side of the graveyard Bai Xuesheng was no less dangerous. He didn't have Dongfang Bubai's finesse but his greater reserves of Qi power turned him into an avalanche of destruction as he crashed into his enemies. He would start by crushing the sword arm of his opponents with powerful blows from his palm or vicious counter joint locks and then finish them of with strikes to the neck or head.

    The fight was over so quickly that the ash from the incense had not even settled on the ground. Dongfang Bubai turned around to see Ba Xuesheng standing amongst a pile of mangled corpses with horribly twisted limbs and necks:

    “Very messy” he said with a mischievous smile.

    Wiping his hands on a dead man's clothes Bai Xuesheng smiled back:

    “Grand-papa always said girls were neater than boys”

    The smile fell from Dongfang Bubai's face: “How did you...”

    Bai Xuesheng started walking towards her as he spoke:

    “First very few boys are as pretty as you and second...” he touched his finger to the side of his nose “...you may want to bathe less, you smell far to nice”

    “You do realise that I will have to kill you for discovering my secret” Dongfang Bubai delivered the threat with a pleasant smile'

    “There are three reasons why that won't happen”

    “Which are?”

    “First you might not be able to”

    Dongfang Bubai surveyed the corpses and saw the truth in the words:

    “Second you don't need to, as I have no intention of telling anyone”

    Bai Xuesheng was now so close to her that she could feel his breath on her face:

    “And third, I don't think you could bare to do it” Bai Xuesheng delivered that last reason with a seductive smile and a twinkle in his eyes.

    Dongfang Bubai felt her heart pounding as those emerald eyes loomed over her. She took a step back and then made an elaborate bow in disguise her retreat before suggesting that they should leave the graveyard, a suggestion Bai Xuesheng was only too happy to agree with.

    #####

    The palanquin flew through the air heading straight for the assembled heads of the Five Mountain Sword Sects Alliance and their accompanying students. Everyone clenched their weapons in fear, knowing who the palanquin carried.

    Gently the palanquin descended to the ground about 20 feet from the Five Mountain Sword Sects Alliance members. The silk curtains parted to reveal Ren Woxing lying on the cushioned interior. Although he posture looked relaxed his eyes blazed with barely controlled fury.

    Following swiftly came hundreds of armed disciples of the Sun-Moon Sect who quickly encircled the members of the Five Mountain Sword Sects Alliance. Enhancing his voice with his Qi so that it carried to every ear Ren Woxing spoke:

    “If you desired to destroy my sect then you should have relied on your own abilities. How dare you kill my woman and kidnap my child. Did you really think that you could keep your life after such an insult?”

    Ning Zhongze mistress of the Mount Hua School spoke out in indignation:

    “What rubbish are you sprouting, we never killed your woman or kidnapped your child”

    “Enough of your lies. Either return my child and swear allegiance to me or prepare to die” Ren Woxing roared the words out with such violence that everyone tensed up, expecting an attack at any moment.

    Unable to contain himself any longer Tianmen, Master of the Mount Tai School drew his sword and rushed Ren Woxing. Tianmen hadn't even got half way to his target when Ren Woxing unleashed a stream of Qi energy. Tianmen felt like he was trying to push through a blizzard as the stream hit him and stopped him dead.

    Although by no means one of the best fighters in the Martial Arts world, Tianmen was still the head of a school and the force needed to immobilise him was not insignificant. Ren Woxing was managing to do this with apparent ease as he lay motionless in the palanquin. Without having lifted a finger Ren Woxing had projected his aura outwards which alone was enough to incapacitate Tianmen.

    Hoping to come to Tianmen's aid Mo Da, Master of the South Mount Heng School leapt onto Tianmen's shoulder and hurled the sword hidden within his huqin at Ren Woxing. Ren Woxing expanded his Qi stream and held the sword along with both men suspended within his power. All this he managed without moving an inch from his position.

    Sensing that this might be an opportunity to inflict a defeat on the distracted Ren Woxing, Yue Buqun Master of the Mount Hua School summoned his Art of Divine Violet Mist. Focusing all his Qi onto one point Yue Buqun released it as a beam of purple energy at Mo Da's suspended sword, hoping to send it at Ren Woxing. Ren Woxing's open palm shot forwards and the sword shattered into grain size pieces.

    Now holding the heads of three schools within his Qi stream Ren Woxing let out a deafening roar. The release of energy that accompanied the roar knocked all three heads to the ground. As they tried to rise each man felt a great pressure build up in their chests and each one coughed out a mouthful of blood.

    Ning Zhongze and Abbess Dingxian Head of the North Mount Heng School, prepared to join the fight but were stopped as Ren Woxing spoke:

    “Heroine Ning and Abbess Dingxian. I have nothing but respect for the both of you, but I will not fight women. If after I have received some guidance from Master Zuo the two of you still want to fight I'll have some of my female disciples accommodate you.”

    Unable to ignore such a direct challenge Zuo Lengshan Master of the Mount Song School drew his long sword. Zuo Lengshan was confident of victory for surely Ren Woxing must have exhausted most of his Qi in subduing the heads of the other schools.

    Soaring through the air Zuo Lengshan sent a wave of murderous Qi at Ren Woxing who threw himself flat on his back letting the wave slice of the top of his Palanquin. Coming swiftly to his feet Ren Woxing evaded the barrage of strikes Zuo Lengshan rained down on him. Having weathered Zuo Lengshan's attack Ren Woxing retaliated with a series deadly claw strikes aimed at Zuo Lengshan's throat, eyes and groin.

    Zuo Lengshan was hard pressed to fend of this attack and leapt backwards in an attempt to regain some distance and use the longer reach of his sword to his advantage. Ren Woxing however was not done. Lunging forwards he sent a claw strike at Zuo Lengshan's chest intending to dig out his heart.

    Zou Lengshan stabbed the tip of his sword towards the claw, hoping to pierce Ren Woxing's palm or at least force him back. Ren Woxing concentrated his Qi onto his outstretch hand making the flesh as hard as marble and shattering Zuo Lengshan's blade.

    Discarding his broken weapon Zuo Lengshan concentrated his Qi into his palms and sent his most powerful strike, the Great Pure Yang Palm, at Ren Woxing. Ren Woxing met the attack with his own palms. A massive shock-wave spread out from the ground around the men causing the nearby trees to tremble and shred their leaves.

    Zuo Lengshan was surprised at the strength of his opponent. Despite having just fought three formidable warriors Ren Woxing was still able to match his Qi power. As Zuo Lengshan strained against Ren Woxing he detected a small disruption in the latter’s Qi flow. Sensing victory Zuo Lengshan channelled all his reserve power into the contest determined to overwhelm his advisory.

    Too late Zuo Lengshan discovered the trap the Ren Woxing had cunningly laid. Suddenly Zuo Lengshan felt his Qi energy spilling out of his body and into Ren Woxing. Having devoted all his powers into the contest he was now to weak to break away from Ren Woxing's Art of Star Absorption.

    Ren Woxing started laughing manically as he felt the inrush of power. Within moments Zuo Lengshan would be dead and he would kill the rest of these so called righteous martial artists. His wife would be avenged and he would be one step closer to dominating the Martial Arts world.

    Just as victory was within his grasp, Ren Woxing felt a build up of pressure within his chest. It felt like his body was going to explode at any moment. Ren Woxing had no choice but to release Zuo Lengshan and redirect his effort into suppressing the building pressure.

    Ren Woxing leapt backwards onto his palanquin leaving a bewildered Zuo Lengshan staring up at him in confusion. Finally Ren Woxing was able to regain a measure of control over his body and managed to speak:

    “Master Zuo's Qi power is quite impressive. As a show of respect to your skill I will allow you all to leave today. But be warned when next we meet do not blame me for being merciless”

    “And I will ensure that we will provide Lord Ren with a fitting welcome when we next meet.” retorted Zuo Lengshan.

    Ren Woxing signalled for his disciples to leave and they obediently carried his palanquin back to Black-wood Cliff.


    ######

    From a hill overlooking the scene of battle Bai Xuesheng observed Ren Woxing depart. Taking a sip from a bottle of wine he held, he turned to Dongfang Bubai and offered the bottle to his companion. As the latter accepted the wine Bai Xuesheng spoke:

    “It seems like everything is going according to your plan”

    It had been three months since his arrival at Black-wood Cliff and in the time Bai Xuesheng had got gradually closer to Dongfang Bubai. At first it had been just curiosity as he wanted to know why a young beautiful woman was masquerading as a man. But as he got to know her he became genuinely fond of her.

    Dongfang Bubai's intellect and martial prowess rivalled his own. They had spent many happy hours sparring and debating, always these sessions ended inconclusively as they were to closely matched. But Bai Xuesheng always learnt something new from these encounters.

    However it was the more subtle side of Dongfang Bubai that attracted him. Every now and then her mask of coldness would slip and he would catch a glimpse of that vulnerable young woman trying to protect herself from the cruel world. But despite their growing closeness they had remained just friends, much to Bai Xuesheng's disappointment.

    As time went by Bai Xuesheng also learnt of the silent power struggle between Dongfang Bubai and Ren Woxing. Bai Xuesheng had made a conscious effort to stay out of the conflict as he deemed it not his place to interfere.

    Dongfang Bubai noted the non committal tone of Bai Xuesheng's voice. If he had any opinion he wasn't giving it. Taking a sip of the wine she nodded:

    “Are you going to try and stop me”

    Bai Xuesheng shook his head:

    “This is the internal affair of your cult. I have neither the authority nor the inclination to get involved. But do me a favour. Don't hurt Yingying.”

    “Are you getting sentimental?”

    “Hardly. I just think that she could become quite a delicious morsel given a few years to mature.”

    Dongfang Bubai smiled as she handed the bottle back. Just as Bai Xuesheng was learning more about her, she was also learning more about him. Although he cultivated the image of a heartless womaniser she knew that buried under the false façade was a decent, even heroic man with an urge to protect those who could not protect themselves.

    Although Dongfang Bubai knew that keeping Yingying alive was a risk she decided it was an acceptable one in order to preserve this one true friendship.
    Last edited by Mandred Skavenslayer; 11-04-14 at 04:18 PM.

  9. #9
    Junior Member Steven Chen's Avatar
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    Thanks for carrying on. Looks like Bai Xuesheng and DFBB will end up to be a couple?

    Also, thanks for the words of encouragement. I will start cracking on my upcoming project soon

    'Danger In Every Step' sounds good?

  10. #10
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Fateful Encounter



    Dongfang Bubai's heart pounded as she waited on the rafters. Her excitement had been building for the last few minutes as she awaited the words that would announce her grand entrance. Finally the high pitched voice cut through the noisy crowd and Dongfang Bubai heard her long awaited introduction.

    Jumping of the ceiling beam that she had been standing on she floated over the heads of the waiting crowd, to the sound of adoring cheers. Her long green/gold dress billowed in the air making it look like she was encased in a soft cloud. The bolt of pink silk she held in her hand, trailed after her like the tail of a dazzling comet, adding to the impression that she was some sort of celestial fairy rather than a mortal woman.

    Dongfang Bubai was ecstatic. Since ascending to the leadership of the Sun-Moon Cult eight years ago she had had few opportunities to be the woman she was. Everyday she had to dress as a man and put on the persona of a flawless ruler to a vast realm. Although the feel of absolute power was intoxicating, Dongfang Bubai found herself missing the simple pleasures of just being a young woman.

    Such yearning were made worst whenever she was with Yingying. She would watch as her ward dressed up in pretty dresses, played with her make-up and received the fawning adulations of admirers. It was at times like this that Dongfang Bubai truly envied Yingying and wished that their positions could be swapped.

    Spotting her target Dongfang Bubai pushed her melancholy thoughts aside and flew towards a group of armed young men. Plucking their leader out she wrapped her arm around his waist and effortlessly floated up the brothel stairs with him. As his friends cheered their leader's good fortune he disappeared into one of the brothel's rooms with Dongfang Bubai's arm around him.

    As Dongfang Bubai left two new patrons entered the brothel. They were men in their early to mid twenties. One was rather plain looking with nothing to make him stand out from the crowd, while the other had a rugged handsomeness. Having missed Dongfang Bubai's performance they took an empty table, then settled down to a night of drinking and ogling the courtesans.

    ####

    He never saw it coming. One minute he was looking at the courtesan as she lounged seductively on the bed, then there was this sharp pain in his head. At first he thought it was a headache and wanted to shake his head. But his neck refused to respond. He tried raising his hand, but his arms were also dead to his commands. Slowly as the needle worked its way through his brain his entire body collapsed. Even in his final moments he had no idea what was happening.

    Dongfang Bubai stared at the dead man feeling nothing but contempt. The fool had revealed all his plans mere moments after entering the room. All she had to do with pout and refuse to let him touch her. Lost in his desire he had answered any questions she had. Not for a moment had he suspect who she really was.

    There was a knock on the door and one of the brothel's servant entered the room. Ignoring the corpse the man knelt in front of Dongfang Bubai to await her instructions.

    “Have someone get rid of the corpse than send a message to Black-wood Cliff, there are some people disguising as wine merchants in the villages to the south of the Cliff. A hundred men are to ride out and eradicate them.”

    The servant nodded and hurried to carry out the instructions. Dongfang Bubai smiled to herself. This brothel was one of many businesses that acted as information gathering points for her Cult. She said similar establishments all over the country and they kept her informed of everything that went on in the Martial Arts world.

    Having received word that some young upstarts were gathering around the foot of Mount Hua she come incognito as a courtesan to gather information. Her spies had told her that some of them would be at the brothel tonight so she had set on her little show. In the end they had proven to be nothing more than fools.
    Rising to her feet Dongfang Bubai walked to the door and left the room.


    Linghu Chong looked up from his drink, the loud shouts of the man catching his attention. The man was scolding the brothel Madam for the lack of attractive girls on offer and while Linghu Chong agreed with statement the man's attitude grated on his nerves. As he rose to leave Linghu Chong felt a tug at his sleeve. Looking down he saw his younger Martial Arts brother Lu Dayou, he was looking transfixed at the stairs.

    Following Lu Dayou's line of sight Linghu Chong saw a courtesan descending the stairs. By Heaven she was beautiful. Her porcelain complexion, full red lips and beautiful dole like eyes. She moved down the steps as if she was gliding on mist, her every movement drawing attention to her.

    The man who had been scolding the Madam, now pushed the woman out of the way and made a grab for the courtesan as she reached the bottom of the steps. She danced out of his reach and gave him a mocking smile:

    “Not tonight, I am very tired. Try your luck tomorrow” The tone the courtesan used was sensual with a hint of mockery.

    As the courtesan left the brothel the man called to his comrade and the pair of them hurried after her. Linghu Chong knew that this did not bode well for the courtesan. Although he had never thought of himself as a hero, he was not about to let an innocent woman suffer. He exchanged a look with Lu Dayou and they chased after the men.


    Dongfang Bubai walked down a quiet alley. Her steps were unhurried and her posture confident, for unlike most girls her age she had no fear of walking alone in the dark. She had noticed the pair of men following her as soon as she had left the brothel. She had hoped that they would have got bored and go away, but now it looks like she would have to show them the error of their ways.

    She shook her head. Men were such stupid creatures, always thinking with the wrong part of their bodies. Only two men had ever earned her respect. The first was her Shifu. He was the first man to have recognized her potential and had nurtured them despite her gender. She owed him much and saw her continued success as her way of justifying his faith in her.

    The second was Bai Xuesheng. Although a lustful creature, he never let his desire interfere with his intellect. He was an honest man, a rare thing in the Martial Arts world and over the years she had come to see him as a brother.

    Her pursuers were closer now. Leading them deep into the alley she waited for them to catch up to her. This far into the alley they would never be able to escape before she had done away with them. Her ears pricked up as she detected another set of footsteps following her pursuers. Had her pursuers brought reinforcements. Not that it would do them much good. Unless they had a small army the were unlikely to be a threat to her.


    Linghu Chong caught up with the men as they were about to pounce on the courtesan:

    “How dare you assault a lady at the foot of Mount Hua” Linghu Chong hoped his shout would scare them of, but instead the men turned around and glared at him. The man closest to him responded with a shout:

    “We are Luo Renjie and Yu Renhao, two of the Four Gentlemen of the Qingcheng School and we can do as we please”

    “You might be able to rampage around like beasts in Sichuan, but this is Mount Hua and even animals know their place here.” Linghu Chong retorted.

    The man that called himself Luo Renjie drew his sword and rushed Linghu Chong intending the skewer his heart. Linghu Chong was holding his sheathed sword with a reverse grip in his left hand. Not bothering to draw his weapon he parried the lunge and rammed the pommel of his sword into his opponent's stomach, knocking the air out of him.

    As Luo Renjie fell Yu Renhao attacked. Leading through the air he sent a lunge at Linghu Chong's head. Taking a step back and drawing his sword in the same movement Linghu Chong stopped the sword. Yu Renhao flicked his wrists and launched a series of quick slashes at his opponent intending to open up Linghu Chong's face and jugular.

    The attacks were vicious but lacked the power Linghu Chong had expected from the Qingcheng school's sword art, so he has able to fend them of quite easily. While Linghu Chong was fighting Lu Dayou kept a safe distance away and enjoyed the show. He knew that Linghu Chong was the most skilled of the apprentices of Mount Hua and was confident that he could handle these to thugs.

    Linghu Chong had the measure of his opponent now. Yu Renhao was skilled but predictable. Linghu Chong intercepted the overhead slash he knew was coming then rammed his fist into Yu Renhao's side. As his opponent reeled from the blow Linghu Chong kicked his feet from under him sending him sprawling to the ground.

    Stepping over the fallen men Linghu Chong placed himself between them and the courtesan in case they tried to make a move on her. Although he had despatched them quickly their strange fighting style had unsettled him:

    “Well have you learnt how to behave towards a lady yet?” said Linghu Chong.

    “Tell us your name if you've got the guts” retorted Luo Renjie.

    “I am Linghu Chong of the Mount Hua School and you had better leave while I am still in the mood to be merciful.”

    Dongfang Bubai watched the entire scene with an amused smile on her face. She couldn't believe that there was someone as silly as Linghu Chong. Where there really such gentlemen left in the world. Somehow she doubted it and suspected he was only helping her because of how pretty he was.

    Her smile disappeared as she saw Luo Renjie reach into his chest and pull out a smoke bomb. As he hurled it at Linghu Chong, Dongfang Bubai knew that her would be rescuer would never get out of the way in time. With blinding speed Dongfang Bubai reached into her sleeve and pulled out a needle which she flicked at the bomb.

    The bomb exploded harmlessly between the men filling the entire alley in smoke. A figure appeared out of the smoke and ran towards Dongfang Bubai. She readied another needle intending to send it into her attacker's heart. Just in time she saw that it was Linghu Chong. Dongfang Bubai stopped her attack but kept the needle in her hand just in case.

    Linghu Chong grabbed her by the waist and spun her away from the smoke. Dongfang Bubai was stunned. No one had ever dare touch her like this. She knew she should have been outraged by his impertinence, after all she was a woman and even if she wasn't the most dangerous person in the Martial Arts world, he still shouldn't have grabbed her like this. But instead her heat was pounding and her mouth felt dry from excitement.

    Looking over his shoulder to make sure they were out of danger, Linghu Chong turned to the woman in his arms. For a moment he was lost in those large dole like eyes, then he snapped himself out of his daze and managed a whisper:

    “Lady you're not hurt are you?”

    Dongfang Bubai couldn't speak but gave him a little shake of her head accompanied with a sheepish smile.

    Lu Dayou called out through the smoke for Linghu Chong. The latter released Dongfang Bubai and waved to his companion. Through the thinning smoke he could see that the Qingcheng apprentices had fled, As he turned to ask if they could escort the lady home he found himself staring at thin air. He felt a moment confusion before a sense of loss came upon. Why didn't he ask her name?

    ####

    The gentle rustle of silk on skin woke Bai Xuesheng. Lying naked on the comfortable bed he looked at Xiao Hong as she got dressed. The courtesan looked over her shoulder and gave him a satisfied smile before walking over to him and kissing him on the lips:

    “I'll get you some breakfast” she offered.

    “Why bother, I know what a want”

    Xiao Hong avoided the groping hands that went with Bai Xuesheng's words and hurried outside before he could make good on his promise. Pillowing his head with his arm Bai Xuesheng was about to go back to sleep when he heard voices from outside as two other patrons of the brothel walked passed the room:

    “Really, Master Liu Zhengfeng is retiring from the Martial Arts world”

    “Yes the ceremony has been announced and will take place next month”

    Bai Xuesheng was awake now. So his old music teacher was retiring from the Martial Arts. Bai Xuesheng was not surprised. Liu Zhengfeng had always lacked the ambitions needed to thrive within the Martial Arts world. In fact Bai Xuesheng had long suspected it was only Liu Zhengfeng's obligation to the South Mount Heng School that had kept him in this cut throat world for so long.

    Gathering up his discarded clothing Bai Xuesheng quickly got dressed. If he was going to make it in time to see his old teacher off he had better get a move on. He paused for a moment as he held the little charm. He smiled when he remembered Dongfang Bubai presenting this to.

    It was his 20th birthday and grand-papa had held a massive banquet. Every prominent figure in the Martial Arts world, whether from the Orthodox or Unorthodox schools had attended, or sent representatives for none dared offend the Bai family by snubbing them. Bai Xuesheng had been surprised by his grandfather's decision to hold such a grand celebration, as Bai Nianfei was normally a very solitary man and disliked socialising.

    His grandfather's motive became clear as the banquet reached its climax. Rising to his feet Bai Nianfei was greeted by a silent awe. To Bai Xuesheng's surprise his grandfather had announced that he was passing the leadership of the Bai family to his grandson and called upon everyone present to bare witness.

    Bai Xuesheng could not speak from shock. People had surrounding him offering their congratulations. Bai Xuesheng responded politely and after making a short speech had quietly slipped away to to his room. Things were happening so fast, he needed time to think. Little did he know that there was an even bigger surprise waiting for him.

    As he entered his room he saw Dongfang Bubai waiting for him. With a sweet smile she spoke:

    “Congratulations Lord Bai”

    “Please don't you start. I am having enough trouble believing what grand-papa has done. What was he thinking? I can't run the family”

    Dongfang Bubai gave him a pat on the shoulder:

    “You'll do fine. Here a little something to bring you a bit of luck on your new path” So saying she handed him a little charm made of green silk and stitched with gold thread.

    Bai Xuesheng had kept the charm with himself ever since. As he tucked the charm into his belt, Xiao Hong returned with a tray of food. Seeing him dressed she gave him a disappointed look:

    “You are leaving already?”

    “Sorry but I have things to do”

    “Surely you have time for something before you go?” As she spoke Xiao Hong let her dress slip a little, showing the smooth skin of her shoulder. Bai Xuesheng smiled, maybe he could stay another hour or two.

    ####

    Linghu Chong smiled as he and Lu Dayou came within sight of the gates of their school. They had set of 10 days ago to purchase supplies. Last night they had decided to go to the brothel for some fun before returning home. The road leading to the gates were lined with tall trees and Linghu Chong's mind wandered as he remembered playing around those trees as a child.

    He was so caught up in his thoughts that he nearly got hit by the pebble that was thrown from one of the trees. Spinning on his heels he caught the pebble and flicked it at the direction it had come from. A pink figure emerged from the trees and flew towards Linghu Chong lunging a bared sword at his chest.

    Linghu Chong stepped back and drew his sword parrying the attack with ease. The figure revealed herself to be a young girl in her mid to late teens. She was pretty with sparkling playful eyes. As her first attack was blocked she twirled around and attacked from another direction.

    Both the girl and Linghu Chong smiled as the fought. The girl did the majority of the attacking and while the moves were skilled they lacked power and intent, as if this was a game to her. Linghu Chong made a fighting retreat, deftly fending of her attacks but never taking the offensive. Finally after 20 moves Linghu Chong attacked. As if he was trying to impress the girl he used the moves he remembered from his fight with the Qingcheng School's apprentices.

    The girl leapt backwards on his third attack and took a defensive pose. Suddenly a stern voice called from the gates:

    “Chong'er come with me. NOW!”

    All three of them turned to see Yue Buqun standing at the gates with a stern look on his face. He had changed little in the last eight years. He still wore a cultured goatee beard and moustache, albeit now speckled with grey. As always he was dressed in the robes and hat of a mature scholar. The girl looked at her father, concern on her face at his fierce expression:

    “Father what is it?”

    “Lingshan this has nothing to do with you. Chong'er inside now.”

    Without another word Yue Buqun turned and walked inside.



    Linghu Chong stood sheepishly before if Shifu and Shiniáng recounting his fight with the Qingcheng apprentices. As he finished Yue Buqun stroked his beard and muttered:

    “Why are the Qingcheng apprentices practising the Evil Resisting sword art?”

    Evil Resisting sword?” asked Linghu Chong

    “The 72 Evil Resisting Sword was the signature style of Lin Yuantu who was amongst the three greatest Martial Artist of his era. During his time there was not a living soul within the Martial Arts World who did not fear and respect his sword.”

    “But Shifu how do you know what the Evil Resisting Sword looks like?”

    “Amongst one of Lin Yuantu's victories was Changqingfuzi, the Shifu of Yu Canghai the current Head of the Qingcheng school. Changqingfuzi was also a friend of your Grand Shifu and after his defeat came to Mount Hua to ask your Grand Shifu for his advice in breaking the Evil Resisting Sword. The two of them spent six months analysing the style but could not find any flaws in it.”

    “But Shifu from what I saw the Evil Resisting Sword does not seem particularly powerful”

    “That's because you are still young and inexperience.”

    Linghu Chong wasn't convinced by his Shifu's words but knew better than to argue. Then another thought came to him:

    “Shifu you said that Lin Yuantu was one of three of the greatest Martial Artist of his era. Who were the other two?”

    “I think I will let your Shiniáng tell you that story” said Yue Buqun with a smile.

    Ning Zhongze shook her head, but smiled back at her husband. Like him she had changed little over the years. There were a few more line on her face but she was still a handsome middle aged woman. Adopting her husband's best lecturing voice she began:

    “The other two were your grand martial arts uncle Feng Qingyang and Bai Nianfei former Head of the Bai family”

    “Who are the Bais?”

    “They are one of the oldest martial arts families who can trace their roots back to the Song Dynasty. But they truly came to prominence during the founding of the Ming Dynasty. The Head of the family at the time was Bai Taifu, who fought as one of Emperor Hongwu's generals and was later given White Tiger Place as a reward for his work.
    Because of the Bais origins they became the Imperial Court's representatives amongst the Martial Arts world. Since that time the profound martial arts of the family, coupled with the great political power and wealth has made them a major force within the Martial Arts World.”

    “So what happened to Bai Nianfei?”

    “He passed the leadership of the family to his grandson Bai Xuesheng and then disappeared. No one has seen him in years.”

    Linghu Chong took a moment to digest all the information. As always he was impressed by his Shiniáng's knowledge. After a moment a disturbing thought came to him:

    “Shifu, if the Qingcheng apprentices are practising the Evil Resisting Sword could they be plotting something against the Lins”

    “Quite possibly. Since the death of Lin Yuantu the family's fame had been waning. The
    the current Head of the family Lin Zhennan is more famous for his wealth and generosity rather than his martial prowess.”

    “Then shouldn't we warn them?”

    We will be doing nothing. You have already caused enough trouble.”

    “But husband, Chong'er was only protecting an innocent girl” said Ning Zhongze in defence of her student.

    “Even so he should not have resorted to violence. We of the Orthodox schools should pull together, otherwise how could we face the Evil Sect. Besides even if they had assaulted that woman she was just a courtesan. Give her some silver and the matter would have been resolved.”

    Ning Zhongze wasn't satisfied with her husband's words but didn't want to get into a fight in front of Linghu Chong. Instead she gave her husband a look that told him this conversation was not over. Yue Buqun turned back to Linghu Chong:

    “I will deal with this matter. You better start packing”

    “Why Shifu?”

    “Master Liu Zhengfeng is retiring from the Martial Arts World. I want you to go to Liu manor and pay our respects to him. I will join you after this incident between the Qingcheng School and Lin family is settled.”

    Linghu Chong bowed in acknowledgement of the command, confident that his Shifu would find away to protect the Lins.
    Last edited by Mandred Skavenslayer; 11-06-14 at 03:57 PM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Hunter & Prey



    He followed his prey as it bobbed up and down in the long-grass. Calming his beating heart he remembered what his father had taught him:

    Control your breathing, learn the movement of your prey. Do not aim for where it is but where it will be. Let all the air out of lungs before you loose. Imagine the arrow finding its mark.”

    Obeying these instructions that had been drummed into him, he let go of the string. The arrow flew straight and true skewing the rabbit from behind, killing it instantly. Lin Pingzhi punched the air in triumph. This made his third kill in as many shots. His parents are going to be so proud when he gets home.

    He heard his servants walking through the woods to find him. As they came into view he gave them a triumphant smile to be greeted by cheers and words praising his keen eye. Lin Pingzhi accepted these as part of his due, after all he was the heir to the Fuwei Escort Agency. It was only proper that the lower classes praise their betters. Retrieving the rabbit he signalled for the hunting party to head home.



    Yue Lingshan saw the hunting party returning to the escort agency. They weren't easy to miss, half a dozen men riding thorough bred horses they made quite a lot of noise. From her vantage point on the balcony of a restaurant opposite the agency Yue Lingshan had a clear view of them. She easily identified their leader, a young man perhaps a couple of years older than herself. He was wearing a blue silk gown and his hair was tied by an expensive silver band, studded with precious gems.

    He was handsome in a delicate sort of way. But Yue Lingshan found herself being slightly repulse by his prudish appearance. As the men went inside Yue Lingshan turned to Lao Denuo:

    “Well elder martial brother Lao? What should we do?”

    Yue Buqun's second most senior student turned to Yue Lingshan. He was a plain looking man in his early thirties with a well tended moustache. Giving Yue Lingshan a stern look he answered her:

    “We will do what Shifu instructed us to do. You do remember don't you?”

    “Yes, yes I remember. We are to observe the Lin's and await father's arrival. Under no circumstances are we to act before father arrives.”

    “I am glad you remember. It looks like nothing is going to happen today. Lets go back to the inn and get some rest, we'll come back at night”

    Yue Lingshan nodded and they left the restaurant.

    ####

    Lin Pingzhi walked into the main hall holding his trophies. There was a flash to his left and before he could react a sharp spearhead was pressing against his throat. Dropping his trophies he stared in terror at the steel tip. His gaze went up the shaft of the spear to see the disapproving face of his father:

    “Pingzhi, what are you playing at? If I was an enemy you would already be dead”

    “I am sorry father”

    A pair of familiar hands cupped Lin Pingzhi's face and guided his away from the fierce stare of his father. Madam Lin looked dotingly at her son:

    “Pingzhi your father didn't hurt you did he?”

    Receiving a shake of the head from her son she turned to her husband:

    “Really husband you've got to take more care with Pingzhi, we only have the one son.”

    “And he will never be a man if you keep on coddling him like this.”

    Ignoring her husband Madam Lin turned back to her son:

    “Go get changed Pingzhi. Supper will be ready soon”

    Lin Pingzhi obeyed his mother and went to his room. Lin Zhennan sadly shook his head as he stared after his son.




    The sentry to the right let out a yawn and received an answering one from the sentry on the left. They had drawn the short straw and were performing the guard duty at supper time. By the time their shift was over all they would get was cold left overs. The man could not help wondering why the agency needed them on guard at all. Who in their right mind would attack the famous Fuwei Escort Agency anyway.
    So it was that the blow to his chest came as a complete surprise. All the sentry saw was a blur and then there was this suffocating pain in his chest. He tried to scream but could find no breath. The last thing he saw was the outline of a man standing in front of him and then nothing more.



    “My Lord!, my Lord!” shouted the servant as he came running into the dining hall where the Lin family was having supper.

    “What is it” asked Lin Zhennan annoyed at the interruption to his meal.

    “Outside my Lord, outside!” shrieked the servant in near hysteria.

    Forgetting their meal the Lin family reached for their weapons and ran to the front gate. They were greeted by a sight none of them would ever forget. Hanging from a flag post were the dead bodies of their sentries. I red line had been painted around the agency along with big characters stating “Those who take 10 steps away from the gates will die”.

    Dozens of their men had joined the Lin family at the gates. All were looking in horror at the dead bodies and the ominous warning. Lin Pingzhi having been humbled by his father earlier was desperate to prove himself. Before anyone could stop him he ran passed the red line. Drawing his sword he sliced through the ropes holding up the bodies.

    As the bodies hit the ground he started dragging them back into the agency. When passed the line he handed the bodies to the waiting men. Once more Pin Pingzhi stepped pass the line and shouted at the top of his voice:

    “Come out you cowards. You dare to kill our people but you are afraid to face me now. You boasted that Those who take 10 steps away from the gates will die, well here I am 10 steps outside the gates. Come out and kill me. I dare you to come and face me”

    Lin Pingzhi's parents ran pass the line and flanked him. Madam Lin added her voice to her son's:

    “That's right. Come out if you dare, I'll show you the power of our Evil Resisting Sword along with my twin sabres.”

    Hardly had she spoken then a stone flew through the air and knocked the sabres she had been boasting about right out of her hands. The Lin family scanned the their surroundings but could find no sign of where the missile had come from. Swiftly they retreated back into the agency.




    From the shadows Yue Lingshan and Lao Denuo watched the scene. Yue Lingshan was appalled by the cruel actions of the Qingcheng School, however she also thought that Lin Pingzhi was quite brave when he had stepped out to retrieve the bodies and reassessed her impression of him from earlier.
    She turned to speak to Lao Denuo but her senior martial arts brother pressed his finger to his lips. Indicating that they should leave he received a reluctant nod from Yue Lingshan.




    Lin Pingzhi and his mother watched in horror is Lin Zhennan performed his gory task. Although they could not see him directly, his shadow on the paper window gave them all the details that they needed. Finally after nearly an hour he called them in. Mother and father entered to see Lin Zhennan wiping his hands after washing of the blood and the sentries bodies covered by thick shrouds.

    Lin Zhennan spoke to distract his family from the scene:

    “I've examined the bodies, they were killed by the Heart Sealing Palm

    “But that's one of Qingcheng School's signature moves” replied Madam Lin in shock.

    “Qingcheng School? Why would they attack us? What have we ever done to them?” Lin Pingzhi's voice was near hysterical. He was still rattled by the events at the gates. He would not have thought it possible that someone would disarm his mother so easily.

    “Your grandfather once defeated the Head of the school. It seems likely that the current Head, Yu Canghai wishes to avenge the defeat of his Shifu.”

    “Who do they think they are dealing with. The Lins cannot be bullied like this” Lin Pingzhi's fear had turned to anger. Always he had thought his family the equivalent to Martial Arts royalty and could not contemplate someone treating them like this.

    Lin Zhennan let out a laugh “Their skills are as far above us as ours are above normal people. If they wanted to kill us they would have done so by now”

    “So they are playing with us like a cat does with a mouse” cried Madam Lin.

    “What do we do father?” Desperation filled Lin Pingzhi's voice. His father's words had brought his fears back.

    “We abandon the agency and seek sanctuary with your maternal grandfather”

    “That's right, my father's fame and wealth a renowned throughout the Martial Arts World. I am sure he could help us” Madam Lin's words held a glint of hope.

    “But when word gets out...” Lin Pingzhi's words were cut short by a stern look from his father:

    “Remember the family's motto Luck (Fu) comes before Fame (Wei). As long as we survive we can come back”.

    Filled with the fire of youth Lin Pingzhi wanted to challenge his father's words, but was placated by his mother's hand on his shoulder:

    “Your father is right. Come I'll help you pack.”

    ####

    Yue Lingshan and Lao Denuo saw the Lin family as they crested the hill. They had followed them as the family had left the agency. Lin Zhennan had cleverly send all the servants out of the agency at once, hoping that his family would not be spotted in the crowd. Unfortunately Lin Pingzhi had taken his prized bejewelled sword with him without bothering to cover it up. This made it all to easy for the Lins to be followed.

    The Lins arrived at a tea house located in a quiet location of the woods. Wishing to refresh themselves they took a table and waited to be served. After several minutes with nobody showing up Lin Zhennan started getting suspicious and signalled to his family to arm themselves. No sooner had they drawn their weapons then Luo Renjie and Yu Renhao appeared from the woods:

    “Did you really think you could escape us that easily?” declared Luo Renjie.

    Not bothering to waste words, Lin Zhennan hurled his sheath at at Luo Renjie then lunged at his chest with his family following in his wake. Luo Renjie dodged the sheath with ease and parried the lunge with no more effort. He steadily gave ground, but as he did so he sent a series of quick slashes at Lin Zhennan's face nipping of bits of his brow and beard. He was obviously toying with the man.

    Lin Pingzhi and Madam Lin attacked Yu Renhao form either sides trying to catch him of guard. Yu Renhao ignored Madam Lin and rushed Lin Pingzhi causing the young man to freeze in terror. He barely got his sword up in time to block the blow, but Lin Pingzhi's desperate defence did him little good as his sword was knocked out of his hand by the force of the blow. Yu Renhao then hit Lin Pingzhi's acupoint with his index and middle finger paralysing him.

    Madam Lin ran to her sons rescue. She brought both the sabres down towards Yu Renhao's back hoping to take him by surprise. But her hopes were to be dashed as her opponent crouched down and did a backwards sweep knocking her of her feet. Madam Lin tried to rise but Yu Renhao sealed her acupoint as well.

    Lin Zhennan was in no position to aid his family as Luo Renjie went on the offensive. Lin Zhennan managed to fend of four attacks before he was disarmed and found his opponent's sword to his throat:

    “It seems like our Evil Resisting Sword is more useful than yours. Maybe you should study under me!” Luo Renjie made the statement with a wicked smile.

    Lin Zhennan's beard bristled in impotent rage: “Just kill us and be done with it”

    “Now where's the fun in that.”

    Luo Renjie turned swiftly to the side as he heard the approach of someone. He saw two masked assailants come flying towards him with swords drawn. Quickly sealing Lin Zhennan's acupoint he turned to face this new threat. The taller of the two assailants engaged Luo Renjie as the other one made her way towards Yu Renhao.

    Lu Renjie backed away from the onslaught his opponent unleashed. Whoever he has he was very skilled with each attack was aimed at a vital point. Lu Renjie knew he couldn't rely on his stolen Evil Resisting Sword moves and reverted back to his native Pine Wind Sword.

    As Lu Renjie faced his assailant other one attacked Yu Renhao. Yu Renhao suspected his opponent was a girl due to her small size and comparatively weak strength of her blows. However like her companion she was highly skilled and even lighter on her feet. Yu Renhao lunged at her heart, but his opponent did a backwards slip to avoid the attack. As her feet came up see kicked a pile of straw into Yu Renhao's face temporally blinding him.

    Taking advantage of her opponent's distraction the assailant ran towards Lin Pingzhi and unsealed his acupoint. No sooner had she done so then Yu Renhao attacked her and she had no more time to worry about the other Lins. Lin Pingzhi ran to his mother and tried to unseal her acupoint, but his abysmal Qi energy was not up to the task:

    “Run Pingzhi” cried Madam Lin

    “But mother...”

    “Listen to your mother. Run” Shouted Lin Zhennan.

    With tears streaming down his face Lin Pingzhi obeyed and ran into the woods.

    #####

    It was deep into the night when Lin Pingzhi sneaked back into Fuwei Escort Agency. After making his escape he had spent hours running in the woods, his heart filled with a mixture of shame and fear. Shame at his cowardice in abandoning his parents and fear of being caught again.

    Finally his strength gave way and he had slumped against a tree. As exhaustion caught up with him the young man broke down and wept like a babe. Never in all his life had he felt so abandoned. From the moment he had gained awareness he had always been surrounded by doting parents, indulgent relatives and obedient servants. Whatever he wanted he got. Now he was alone, cold and hungry with no idea of what to do next.

    He wanted to believe that all this was just a bad dream and that at any moment he would wake up safe in his own bed with his parents looking over him. But he knew it wasn't a dream. This was really happening and he had to deal with it. He was Lin Pingzhi, heir to the great Lin family. He can't just sit here and cry. He had to rescue his parents and avenge the insult done to his family.

    So steeled he started thinking what to do next. First thing to do was to get some money. With money he could survive and if he survived he could save his parents. It was not much of a plan but it was the best his confused mind could come up with.

    Now back at home he picked his way through the familiar corridors and headed to his parents' room. The silence was eerie and he felt he was walking through a tomb rather than the place where he had grown up. Finally entering his parents' room he went to the false floor board near the bad and lifted it up. Inside he found a sack. Opening the sack he found the precious gems, along with the pieces of gold and silver he knew was contained within.

    This was his mother's secret treasure which she had shown to him when he was a child. Only the two of them knew about this secret and Lin Pingzhi had felt very special when his mother had shared this with him. It felt like he was violating her trust in taking the treasure now, but he had no choice.

    However now that he had money another problem arose. He was a young man travelling alone, if people suspected he had this kind of treasure he could become a target for thieves. But he did not know how much money he would need, so he couldn't just take some of it and leave the rest under the floor board. As he was pondering this his eyes spied the statue of a bronze camel and the answer came to him.

    ####

    “So Master Liu is really retiring?”

    “Yes, the ceremony has been announced and everyone whose anyone in the Martial Arts World has been invited.”

    “I know that member's of the Five Mountain Sword Sects Alliance will be attending, but who else will be going?”

    “Representatives of Shaolin, Wudang and the Beggar's Guild, not to mention Yu Canghai Head of the Qingcheng School. There has even been rumours that Lord Zuo Lengshan would make an appearance.”


    The hunchback sitting behind the talkative restaurant patrons reached into his sleeve and laid down a handful of coins to pay for his meal, then picking up his walking stick left the premises, blissfully unaware of the men trailing him.


    Lin Pingzhi was lost in his thoughts as walked along a lonely mountain road. So the architect of his family's ruin will be attending Liu Zhengfeng's retirement ceremony. It had been a stroke of good fortune that he had heard the conversation at the restaurant and he was determined to make the most of it.

    So caught up was he in his thoughts that he failed to notice the half a dozen men who stood further up the road until he was almost upon them. As he looked up Lin Pingzhi saw that they were all armed and staring straight at him. As the group straddled the entire road Lin Pingzhi decided to turn around and find another path, but found another group of men blocking his retreat.

    A burly man holding a Nine Ring sabre stepped forward:

    “Where is Mu Gaofeng?”

    “Who?” replied Lin Pingzhi.

    “Don't play the fool with me. Tell me where that hunchback scum is, if you want to live”

    “I've no idea what you are talking about”

    “Take him!”

    Obeying their leader the two groups of men converged on Lin Pingzhi. With fear lending him strength Lin Pingzhi dived into them, fist and feet flailing. Although not particularly skilled or strong he had still been trained to fight at a young age and so was able to down three men before a blow to the back knocked him to the ground. Turning on his back he could see the burly leader raise his huge weapon preparing to bring it down on Lin Pingzhi's skull.

    A scimitar spun through the air and buried itself in between the burly leader's eyes. As the man toppled backwards from the deathblow a misshapen figure leapt in between Lin Pingzhi and the dead man. Jumping up the figure yanked the scimitar free. Blood and brains sprayed out of the split skull, covering Ling Pingzhi in gore. Fighting the urge to gag, he forced himself to focus on the newcomer.

    Lin Pingzhi noticed that the man was a hunchback whose face was as ugly as his body. The hunchback landed lightly and waded into the men. His scimitar struck fast and mercilessly hacking of limbs, opening jugulars or splitting skulls as he went. Within a few heartbeats the majority of the men were dead and the survivors running for their lives. The hunchback let out a horrible laugh then walked away without ever acknowledging Lin Pingzhi.


    ####

    Mu Gaofeng turned sharply to face the young hunchback whom had followed him since his slaughter of the bandits whom he had previously double crossed. The look of anger on his face bordered on murderous as he rounded on the lad:

    “Why are you following me?”

    Lin Pingzhi froze in fear as he saw Mu Gaofeng's terrifying face. Then pulling himself together he saluted the old hunchback:

    “I would like to offer my gratitude to Hero Mu for saving my life.” Lin Pingzhi had guessed the hunchback was Mu Gaofeng whom the bandit leader had talked about.

    “What nonsense are you sprouting? I never saved you. You just happened to be there when I got rid of some pests.”

    As Mu Gaofeng turned to leave Lin Pingzhi ran in front of him and fell to his knees:

    “Hero Mu, humble boy here, begs you for your help.”

    Mu Gaofeng let out the same awful laugh he had released when he had killed the bandits:

    “Silly boy, why should I help you?”

    Ling Pingzhi reached into his chest and pulled out a bag. Tipping the contents onto his hand he held out the precious gems to Mu Gaofeng:

    “Hero Mu, please accept this as a small token of my good will. I promise you hundred times what you see here if you would help me.”

    Greed twinkled in Mu Gaofeng's eyes. He could easily kill the lad and take the gems, but the idea of gaining even more treasure intrigued him:

    “Tell me what you want me to do”

    “My parents been kidnapped by the despicable Yu Canghai. I beseech you to save them”

    “Yu Canghai! Head of the Qingcheng School? He is not an enemy I can afford to make.”

    “Hero Mu. If you will save my parents you can name your price”

    Mu Gaofeng thought for a moment: “That old fox Yu Canghai doesn't do anything without gain. If he thought it worthwhile to kidnap this boys parents then they must be worth something”

    Looking down at Lin Pingzhi he smiled:

    “I don't know. After all who are you to me. Why should I take such a risk?”

    “I humbly beg Hero Mu to take me as his apprentice”

    Mu Gaofeng laughed his evil laugh:

    “You are not worthy of that yet. However if you would kowtow to me three times and call me Grand-papa three times, I might agree”

    Lin Pingzhi fought down an angry retort. How dare this ugly creature make such a demand on him, the heir of the great Lin family. He very nearly turned away in disgust, but then he father's words came back to him: “As long as we survive we can come back.” He must survive or there will be nobody left to save his parents.

    Biting back his anger, he did as Mu Gaofeng asked. Every kowtow felt lack a stab to his heart. Every time he said grand-papa he almost choked on the words. To make it worst Mu Gaofeng laughed the entire time as if he was watching a performing monkey.

    Lin Pingzhi kept his eyes on the ground afraid that Mu Gaofeng would see the anger in his eyes. He swore that if he ever managed to mastered the Evil Resisting Sword to the level of his illustrious ancestor he would repay this ugly creature a thousand folds for the insults he endured today.
    Last edited by Mandred Skavenslayer; 11-04-14 at 04:26 PM.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Jan 2014
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    Three addicts for Three beauties





    Dongfang Bubai skimmed through the pages of the Sunflower Manual. She had long committed the text to heart, but had kept the book to use as a reference point. It had taken her years to make sense of the writings by Yue Su and Cai Zifeng. The Mount Hua elders had imprinted their own ideas and impressions onto their copy of the original text, often misinterpreting the meaning to a dangerous level. Anyone trying to study the manual directly would have died within months due to fire deviation.

    Dongfang Bubai smiled as she remembered the day Ren Woxing had presented the manual to her in a desperate attempt to stay her hand, long enough for him to make his move against her. All the fool had done was confirm her suspicions that he was weak and gave her the confidence to take the initiative. Of course the old fox had hoped that she would succumb to the dangers of studying the manual, but he had reckoned without her formidable intellect.

    Returning the manual to a draw she locked it up then walked towards a large crystal bowl. She was in her private chambers where no one dared to enter without her express permission. Safe from prying eyes she allowed herself to ware a beautiful red/gold dress and to tie her her up in a style that showed of her swan like neck. Her clothes were not the only signs of her femininity, soft cushions, pink curtains, sewing equipment and exquisite works of embroidery filled her quarters.

    Picking up a ribbon she dangled it inside the bowl and played with her pet snake. Unexpectedly her mind conjured up the image of Linghu Chong. She smiled wistfully as she remembered the rugged handsome face, the feel of his arms wrapped around her and his innocent eyes as they stared into hers. She started talking to her pet:

    “What is love? The romantic books make it out to be the strangest thing in the world, changing people and making them do the most ridiculous things. What will happen to me if I ever find love?”

    “Love is something that you should never touch. Yet it cannot be avoided. The books do not do it justice and what makes you think you haven't found it already.”

    Dongfang Bubai knew who had answered her without needing to look up. Only one person had the guts to enter her chambers uninvited. Her suspicions were confirmed when she looked up to see the familiar face of Bai Xuesheng smiling back at her. He carried a food basket in each hand and Dongfang Bubai could smell the tantalising smell of sweet cakes.

    Unconsciously she started comparing Bai Xuesheng with Linghu Chong. They were both handsome but in very different ways. Bai Xuesheng was like a perfectly reared stallion, strong, proud and eye catching. While Linghu Chong was like a wild horse, free, wild and thrilling.


    As Bai Xuesheng got closer Dongfang Bubai noticed his eyes caressing her body as he admired the way her dress accentuated her full figure. Such a stare from anyone else would have made her furious but coming from her friend she found it amusing. He was a healthy young man with a healthy young man's appetite. So long as he kept to the look but don't touch rule they were fine.

    “So what has got you in such a philosophical mood?” asked Bai Xuesheng when he finally tore his gaze from her figure and onto her face.

    “Just day dreaming. Are those for me?” replied Dongfang Bubai as see pointed at the basket.

    Bai Xuesheng placed one of them on a table:

    “Just this one, the other is for Yingying.”

    “You know I could arrange a match between the two of you.”

    Bai Xuesheng staggered backwards with a look of false shock on his face and placed his free hand on his heart:

    “Oh you cut me deep Xiao Bai. I always hoped that one day you would realise the love between us and spend eternity with me.”

    Dongfang Bubai giggled. Bai Xuesheng was the only person who still called her by her real name. Everyone else only knew her as Dongfang Bubai, nobody save him knew of Dongfang Bai.

    She knew why he wouldn't marry Yingying. He had watched her grow and had come to think of her as a little sister. Besides he would never abandon the entire forest for just one tree:

    “You staying for supper?” said Dongfang Bubai changing the subject.

    “As much as I love your cooking I'll have the decline. I am on my way to Liu Manor.”

    “So you're going to Liu Zhengfeng's retirement ceremony?”

    Bai Xuesheng was not in the least surprised that Dongfang Bubai knew about the ceremony, his friend was always well informed:

    “Not the ceremony, you know how I hate socialising with those self-righteous wind bags. But I should pay my respects to me teacher.”

    This was why Dongfang Bubai enjoyed his company so much. He was a wonderful mass of contradictions. A loyal friend yet wayward lover. A reckless rogue but dutiful to his obligations. Often self obsessed but always self-sacrificing. Best of all was his fearless honesty. You always knew where you stood with him:

    “In that case you better go see Yingying.”




    As Bai Xuesheng left her chambers Dongfang Bubai remembered a message she had received earlier. Going to her desk she found the small piece of paper. She had dismissed its contents earlier but now its significance was clear. Placing the message down she went to her wardrobe to change back into her manly garbs.


    ####

    The beautiful sound of the guqin filled the air as he approached Yingying's room. Gently as if reluctant to disturb the wonderful melody he knocked on the door. The music stopped and a gentle but firm voice spoke:

    “Who is it?”

    “Your favourite snowflake”

    Yingying ran to the door and opened it:

    “Bai Dage. When did you get here?” The joy in her voice made Bai Xuesheng smile.

    He looked at her admiring the great beauty she had grown into. With her golden complexion and lush jet black hair she could turn the head of any red blooded man. Her eyes seemed to glisten with intelligence and that smile would melt the heart of a statue.

    As Bai Xuesheng looked past her into the room he saw weapons of every kind hanging from the walls, shelves stuffed with books on music, martial arts, medicine, history and military tactics. It was a room more suited for a general or ambitious politician rather than a young lady and stood in stark contrast with Dongfang Bubai's room.

    A shadow came over Bai Xuesheng's heart. He knew why Yingying's room was furnished like this and it made him sad.

    ####

    She ran as if all the devils of hell were after her. Weeping tears of dread she fled deeper into the woods. She could not hear him but she knew he was there. For the hundredth time she cursed her stupidity. Why has she decided to go fetch water on her own? She should have listened to her Martial Art sisters and let them accompany her.

    But this was her first time out of the nunnery and she desperately wanted to prove that she could look after herself. Well that moment of bravado had ended up with her fleeing into the woods. As she stepped into a clearing she saw him waiting for her. He had a slim build and a thick bushy beard. Tucked into his belt was his short single edged sword. His eyes stared at her in a lust filled madness, as if he wanted to consume her. She held her sword in front of her body, the cold steel feeling woefully inadequate.

    “W...why are you doing this” she asked in a terrified voice.

    “Don't be scared I just want us to be friends. Here I'll even tell you my name. I am Tian Boguang and what is your name?” His voice was husky and laden with menace.

    “Please I am a nun, don't shame me like this.”

    “How can that be, you have such long beautiful hair.”

    “I am to take my holy orders in a couple of years.”

    “Well then I am most blessed to have met you now.”

    Tian Boguang pounced on her with the speed and savagery of a panther. Instinctively she stabbed her sword forward, only to have it brushed aside by a powerful sweep if his hand. Before she was able to launch another attack Tian Boquang sealed her acupoint leaving her unable to move.

    Bringing his face to within an inch of hers' he spoke in a gentle but sinister voice:

    “Don't worry my dear, I'll find somewhere away from prying eyes before I introduce you to the pleasures of the flesh.”

    ####

    Linghu Chong saw the man pick up the girl and carry her off. Judging by the speed he had used in disarming her Linghu Chong knew that he was no match for the him. As much as it irked him to let the man kidnap the girl, he knew that rushing out now would only end in his death and leave her at the mercy of him.

    Keeping the pair insight he followed at a discreet distance. He would wait for an opportune time then rescue her. If such an opportunity does not materialise he intended the fight the man before he could harm the girl and to hell with the consequences.

    ####

    It was nearly dark when Tian Boguang carried her into the gave. Propping her up against the cave wall he gathered some dry leaves and twigs together. Taking at a pair of flint stones he began to light a fire, determined to get a good look at the girl as he took her.

    The girl wept quietly as fear seized her. She wanted to kill herself in order to spare her school the shame this man was to bring on it, but had no power to do even that. With the fire lit Tian Boguang turned to her, his face contorted in hunger. As he reached for her a stone whistled through the air flying to the back of his head.

    Tian Boguang dodged to the left and the stone passed by his head harmlessly. He spun around and drew his sword in the same movement:

    “Whose there? How dare you disturb my fun!”

    He was answered by a handful of stones that came hurtling towards him. A web of steel sprang up in front of him as his sword knocked every stone to the ground. Angry at being disturbed he ran outside with murder in his eyes. Looking around he saw flatten grass and broken branches left by his tormentor as they fled. What a fool, he will show them the reason he is called the Lone Traveller of Ten Thousand Lis.



    Linghu Chong peered up from behind the cave as Tian Boguang followed the false trail. Swiftly he entered the cave. The girl screamed as she saw him:

    “Its all right. I am here to save your”

    The girl stopped screaming. As Linghu Chong looked at her, he noticed that despite her tears she was very pretty and about the same age as Yue Lingshan. She had beautiful wide eyes that reminded him of someone he could not place. As he got the closer the girl managed to gain some control of herself and spoke:

    “My name is Yilin of the North Mount Heng School, may I know your name?”

    “I am Linghu Chong of the Mount Hua School. Come we can talk later, lets get out of here first”

    Linghu Chong unsealed her acupoint and helped her to her feet. But before they could leave Linghu Chong heard Tian Boguang's voice as he cursed in frustration at following a false trail. Thinking fast Linghu Chong came up with an impromptu plan:

    “Yilin do exactly as I say. Got it!”

    Yilin nodded her head. Kicking out the fire Linghu Chong placed Yilin against the wall were he had found her:

    “Stay here until I give the word, then run and don't look back.”

    Not waiting for a reply he slipped into the shadows. Tian Boguang entered the cave and his eyes immediately went to her. With his passions running high he hurried towards her. This was the moment Linghu Chong was waiting for, as soon as Tian Boguang's back was in view he lunged forwards.

    Feeling the displacement of air from behind Tian Boguang dodged to his right and the lunge meant for his heart, left a gash on his left arm instead. Following up with a decapitating slash Linghu Chong's sword met Tian Boguang's blade as the latter blocked the blow. Linghu Chong kicked his opponent in the chest sending him crashing into the cave wall.

    Quickly he grabbed Yilin's shoulder and hurled her out of the cave:

    “Run!” he shouted. Yilin obeyed, but stopped sharply as she heard Linghu Chong cry out in pain. Tian Boguang had got to his feet and slashed his blade across Linghu Chong's back. The blow was unfocussed due to Tin Boguang's anger and only scored a flesh wound.

    Spinning around Linghu Chong lashed out with his sword forcing Tian Boguang to leap backwards. Pressing his attack Linghu Chong stabbed quickly and in multiple directions hoping to overwhelm the rapist. But he had underestimated Tian Boguang's speed. The short blade seemed to come alive, moving so fast that Linghu Chong could see after images of the steel as it fended of his attack and then go on the offensive.

    Desperately Linghu Chong backed away parrying as he went. He needed to go back on the offensive but could find no opening. He heard Yilin calling out to him and replied with an angry shout:

    “I said run you stupid girl! Or neither of us are going to get away”

    His lapse in concentration cost him dearly as Tian Boguang scored another wound across his chest. Stumbling backwards he attacked wildly using the longer reach of his weapon to keep Tian Boguang at bay.

    Yilin tore her gaze away and ran. This time she fled not to save her chastity but to save Linghu Chong's life. If she could get to Liu Manor she could get her Shifu to come to his rescue. As she ran she offered up a pray that she would make it back in time.

    ####

    Dongfang Bubai walked through the woods enjoying the night breeze. The sounds of owls and insects played like on orchestra to her ears. It felt so good to get away from Black-wood Cliff and the oppressive toadying of her disciples. Loud shouts disturbed her pleasant mood. She was about to walk away but one of the voices tugged at her memory. Following the noise she came upon a fight between two men.

    One of them she did not know, but the other she recognized was Linghu Chong. He had been forced out of the cave by Tian Boguang's relentless attacks. The latter was deliberately keeping the fight close and deadly knowing that at this range his shorter blade had the advantage.

    Linghu Chong took another slash to the shoulder followed by a punch to the face and was sent sprawling to the ground. Tian Boguang brought his blade down aiming at his opponent's neck, when something hit the side of his weapon with so much force that he spun a full circle. His arm felt like it had been ripped out of its socket. Tian Boguang inspected his blade and to his shock found a single leaf stuck on it.

    Scanning the area he saw a lone figure standing about 30 feet away. It was too dark to make out any details but Tian Boguang knew that whoever this person was there was no way he could stand before someone who could turn a leaf into a deadly missile. Turning quickly he fled.

    ####

    Dongfang Bubai stared down out Linghu Chong as the physician tended to his injuries. She had carried the unconscious man to the nearest village and sought out the physician. Linghu Chong had regained consciousness as the first needle went in and woke up with a scream at the unexpected pain. Without thinking Dongfang Bubai had reached out and taken his hand. He stared up into a pair of familiar dole like eyes. For a moment he thought he was looking at the courtesan he had saved a month ago. Then he noticed that the hair was done up in a mannish style.

    Linghu Chong convinced himself that they merely looked similar and refocussed his attention to his surroundings. The strong smell of medicinal herbs and the physician tending to his injuries told him he was in an apothecary. He wondered what he was doing here, then he remembered:

    “Is Yilin safe?” he asked the familiar yet strange face

    “Is she your friend?” replied Dongfang Bubai

    “No just someone in trouble. I was rescuing her from a rapist.”

    “Don't worry. When I found you I saw the rapist leave alone. I am sure she is safe.”

    Linghu Chong nodded and then winced as the needle drove into his flesh. Dongfang Bubai's face reflected his pain and she glared at the physician:

    “Be gentle” the menace in her voice terrified the man and he nearly dropped the needle.

    As she was about to raise her hand to the poor man Linghu Chong tightened his grip on her hand. Looking at her with a pained smile he whispered through his pain:

    “I'm fine, please let him continue.”

    For some reason that Dongfang Bubai couldn't understand, his plea stayed her hand and she settled for a glare at the physician.

    ####

    Throwing down a handful of coins Linghu Chong picked up a couple of bottles of wine from the wine store then winced as his stitches stretched. Dongfang Bubai shook her head and took the bottles from him:

    “Hay! I am grateful that you saved my life Brother Dong, but nothing gets in the way of a man and his drink.”

    “You can drink as much as you like, but I don't want you tearing your stitches trying to carry the bottles.” Dongfang Bubai smiled as she spoke. She had told him her name was Dong fangbo, a corruption of Dongfang Bubai. That way if he called her, the name would be similar enough so that she wouldn't ignore him.

    They talked as the they walked down the quiet streets. The late hour meant that apart from a few stores and the occasional traveller they were very much alone. Linghu Chong did most of the talking with Dongfang Bubai seemingly content to just listen and laugh at his jokes.

    Although she was quite capable of faking sincerity she was genuinely interested in his words. Most of what he said was pointless small talk, but she didn't care, it just felt good to hear a voice that wasn't loaded with fear and servitude.

    They walked into an empty alley and Linghu Chong looked up into the night sky:

    “How I wished a had the ability of “Xiangshuai”. Then a could step up to Heaven and pluck the stars”

    “As you wish” replied Dongfang Bubai as she wrapped her arm around his waist and lifted him into the air. Linghu Chong gasped in surprise as he rose over the rooftops and started soaring through the air. Looking at his companion he could barely believe that the man was capable of such a feat.

    Most Martial Artist can accumulate Qi and use it to manipulate their own body weight, allowing them to jump higher or descend slower than normal people. The greater the Qi reserves the higher you can jump and the longer you can stay airborne. But his companion wasn't just manipulating his own weight but that of Linghu Chong's as well. That alone was impressive enough, but taking into account the height and slow rate he descent, Linghu Chong doubted that even his Shifu had as much Qi power as Brother Dong.

    Linghu Chong's surprise was soon replaced by awe as he looked down. He felt like the wind whistling through the world. It was a sense of freedom and euphoria he didn't know existed. Turning to his companion with a smile that showed his gratitude, he found Dongfang Bubai looking back at him. Her head was slightly tilted to the side and the smile on her lips made him feel things he knew he shouldn't feel for another man. Turning his head sharply he faced the oncoming breeze hoping that it would cool his burning cheeks.


    Arriving at a field of wheat Dongfang Bubai opened the bottles and passed one to her companion. Linghu Chong took a long draught then slumped down on the ground and let out a long sigh:

    “Now that hit the spot!”

    Dongfang Bubai sat next to him and sipped her drink. The wine was rather plain and could not compare with the exotic beverages she enjoyed with Bai Xuesheng, but the company made up for any shortcomings of the drink. Turning to Linghu Chong she was drawn to his jaw line. It was a strong jaw and spoke of great integrity. Although she knew better than to judge by appearances she could not help but feel that this was someone she could trust.

    Linghu Chong sat up and stared at the moon:

    “You know what will make this night perfect?”

    Dongfang Bubai did not reply, just tilted her head in the look that told you she was giving you her full attention. Linghu Chong continued:

    “A sword! Imagine performing a sword dance before the full moon while enjoying such fine wine. I doubt even the gods have known such pleasures.”

    “It seems that I'll be your genie tonight” replied Dongfang Bubai as she shot up and whipped Linghu Chong's hair band off his head.

    Holding the band between her index and middle fingers she charged it with a small amount of Qi making the fabric as solid as steel. Her body swayed in the wind the like a flame with the band trailing like smoke. The moonlight danced of the fabric of her clothing making her shine like a star. As she danced inspiration came to her and she started singing:

    “The world's woe could fill an ocean,
    Yet I find solace within a cup,
    Clarity brings only sorrow,
    Why then should we wake too early”


    The haunting words sank deep into Linghu Chong's heart, for a moment he caught a glimpse of the sorrow and loneliness that his companion endured. His heart went out to him even if he couldn't understand the source of the pain. Suddenly his eyelids became very heavy. As loathed as he was to take his eyes away from the magnificent performance he just couldn't fight it. Soon he was in a deep sleep, and his dreams were sweetened by Dongfang Bubai's face.



    Dongfang Bubai stared down at the sleeping man. She was glad that her trick had worked. She had tinged her voice with Qi manipulating the words so that they had a hypnotic quality. As the night had progressed she had found it harder and harder to part from her companion. She knew that she could not face saying goodbye to him, so had devised this plan to allow her to slip away.

    She undid the ribbon holding her hair in place and placed it into Linghu Chong's hand. As her long hair spilled over her shoulders she let out a sigh. Her voice little more than a whisper she said her goodbye:

    “Thank you for this dream, but now I must wake. I wish you a long and happy life. May you remain so heroically silly forever.” Fighting back the tears tugging at the corner of her eyes Dongfang Bubai left before her resolve could falter.

  13. #13
    Member optimus610's Avatar
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    Interesting chapter. I'm curious to see where you go with your changes.
    If anyone is interested in some of my other work. You can check them out here https://www.fanfiction.net/u/106973/

  14. #14
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by optimus610 View Post
    Interesting chapter. I'm curious to see where you go with your changes.

    Thanks for the comment. Look forward to reading your next chapter to

  15. #15
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Bets and Brothels




    Qu Yang picked up a piece of chicken with his chopsticks and placed it into Qu Feiyan's bowl. His granddaughter smiled then a strange look came over her young face as she peered over his shoulder. Qu Yang turned to see a bearded man dragging a weeping girl up the restaurant's stairs. The girl was about 3 or 4 years older than Qu Feiyan and very pretty.

    The man sat down at an empty table and forced the girl to sit with her. Then in a voice loud enough for the entire floor to hear he shouted for a waiter, who arrived quickly:

    “What can I get you sir?”

    “A bottle of your best wine, a fat roast chicken, a plate of braised pork and a steamed fish”

    “Please don't make me eat meat?” pleaded the girl between sobs.

    “I'm going to make you brake all those ridiculous sacred rules today” replied the man in an unpleasant voice.

    Qu Yang had had quite enough of the man's rudeness. It was obvious he was holding the girl against her will and although Qu Yang was no hero he wasn't going to let him harm the poor girl. Just as he was about to rise somebody shouted from the stairs:

    “Still up to your old tricks Brother Tian?”



    Yilin's heart leapt as Linghu Chong came up the stairs. She had entered the city just after daybreak and was looking for directions to Liu Manor when Tian Boguang had caught up to her. She had shed heartfelt tears at the thought of Linghu Chong's death, for Tian Boguang's appearance could only mean the demise of the former.

    Now she saw him coming up the stairs she could not stop crying, but this time out of sheer joy. Tian Boguang saluted Linghu Chong as he took a seat at the table:

    “Brother Linghu, so nice to see you again. I take it your mysterious rescuer is with you?”

    “If you are scared of my Brother Dong fangbo then I suggest you leave”

    “I don't think so. If he was hear I would already be dead. I think you are here on your own.”

    “Very clever Brother Tian. I must say that I am impressed.”

    “And I admire your courage, but you must know you are no match for me. Why don't you just leave.”

    “You are half right. If we fight standing up I cannot beat you, but if we fight sitting down then I can say I am second to only one other.”

    “Oh and who might that be”

    “Why Dongfang Bubai of course”

    Tian Boguang burst out laughing:

    “While I don't dispute Dongfang Bubai's ranking, I must admit that I find your estimate of yourself hard to believe.”

    “How about we have a little wager. We will have a duel sitting down and the first one whose buttocks leaves their seat looses.”

    “The stakes?”

    “The looser has to become Yilin's apprentice.”

    Yilin was shocked by Linghu Chong's words but trusted hat he had something planned, so forced her mouth to remain closed. Tian Boguang smelled a trap but his ego would not let him back down. There was no way he could loose to this boy. Reluctantly he nodded his head.

    Linghu Chong flipped the table over sending it into Tian Boguang's face. The table was sliced clean in half as Tian Boguang's blade came down. Linghu Chong stabbed through the split wood aiming for Tian Boguang's forehead. The blow was swiftly parried and Linghu Chong barely managed to block the return slash. He was not so lucky with the second blow as it glanced of his shoulder.

    In desperation Linghu Chong leapt backwards taking his chair with him. Tian Boguang smirked sensing victory. Picking up a table Linghu Chong hurled it at Tian Boguang who shattered it with a single blow of his blade. Linghu Chong had moved with the table and was suspended upside down above Tian Boguang. Linghu Chong stabbed for the top of Tian Boguang's head.

    Tian Boguang brushed the stab aside with his blade and sent a palm strike into Linghu Chong's chest causing the latter to fly through the air and land with a crash, shattering his chair. Yilin screamed and ran to Linghu Chong's side. Blood was coming out of his mouth and leaking out of his clothes as his recently applied stitches tore.

    “So Brother Linghu, if your sitting down fighting is ranked second in the world then what's your ranking in lying down fighting?” Tian Boguang spoke the words with mocking laughter and rose from his seat. To his surprise Linghu Chong answered with his own laugh:

    “Oh Tian Boguang, do you remember our agreement. 'The one whose buttocks leaves their seat looses', well your buttocks have left the seat, mine however....” Linghu Chong rose slightly and tossed the still in-tacked chair seat out.

    Tian Boguang's beard bristled in fury as he realised the trap he had been caught in. At that moment he wanted nothing more than to bury his blade into Linghu Chong's heart. However rapist he may be, he was not completely without honour and could not bring himself to go back on his word. With a final glare at Linghu Cong he leapt out of the balcony and made his escape.

    Yilin fought back her tears and helped the now delirious Linghu Chong to his feet. With fear threatening to choke the words she spoke quietly to Linghu Chong:

    “Please hold on Linghu Dage! I'll take you to Liu Manor and my Shifu will save you”

    If Linghu Chong heard the words he gave no sign. All he could manage in his semi conscious state was he weakly reach in the direction where he thought the wine was. Doing her best to carry her rescuer Yilin walked down the stairs, but her own anxiety and the added burden made her loose her footing. As the pair fell she knocked her head on a step and was lost to darkness.

    ####

    Liu Zhengfeng sat in his music room and tuned a pipa. He knew he was neglecting his duties as a host, but the stifling atmosphere of the banquet hall was getting to be too much to bare. He plucked the instrument to make sure that it was tuned correctly then idly started playing the first few notes to Clear Water descending from High Mountain. To his surprise the melody was continued by a flute from outside.

    He knew who it was before he opened the door. The technical perfection and playful style of the flute could only come from one person. He was not to be disappointed as he opened the door and saw his former pupil walking towards him.



    Bai Xuesheng smiled as he approached his former the teacher. The older man had changed little since last they met two years ago. In fact Bai Xuesheng thought that Liu Zhengfeng had barely changed from their first encounter 5 years ago. He looked like a slightly plump middle aged merchant rather than the second in command of the South Mount Heng School.

    Stopping a respectful distance away Bai Xuesheng bowed in respect:

    “Bai Xuesheng pays his respects to Liu Lǎo​shī.”

    Liu Zhengfeng covered the distance between them in a couple of strides and clasped his pupil's shoulders:

    “Its good to see you Xuesheng. How have you been.”

    Bai Xuesheng could feel the genuine joy in the older man's voice and was touched by it. This was like visiting a favourite uncle:

    “I am well”

    “And your grandfather?”

    “As always grand-papa is as elusive as the mythical dragon. I have had no word from him in years.”

    Liu Zhengfeng caught the concern in his pupil's voice and gave his shoulders a reassuring squeeze:

    “I am sure his fine. He has the strength of a tiger and will outlive us all.”

    Bai Xuesheng smiled his gratitude and took a step back presenting the flute he had been playing to Liu Zhengfeng:

    “Please accept this small gift I have prepared in celebration of Lǎo​shī's retirement.”

    Liu Zhengfeng took the flute and examined it. It was made of rare white jade and crafted with a skill he had never seen before. Gingerly he played a short tune with it and was amazed at how clear it sounded:

    “This is far to valuable, I can't possibly accept” declared Liu Zhengfeng as he handed the flute back.

    “Not as valuable as our friendship” replied Bai Xuesheng.

    Liu Zhengfeng smiled. There was no counter to his pupil's words so he gratefully accepted the gift:

    “Come I'll take you to the banquet hall”

    Bai Xuesheng's smile fell to be replaced by a frown:

    “I know, you don't like playing nice with those people. But not all members of the orthodox schools are wind-bags as you think.”

    Bai Xuesheng didn't answer just frowned deeper:

    “Oh fine you don't have to attend the ceremony, but you will stay for a few days. There is someone I want you to meet.”

    Bai Xuesheng's smile returned: “I assume you mean Elder Qu”

    This time it was Liu Zhengfeng's turn to frown. Quickly he looked around fearful that they had been overheard.

    “Don't worry Lǎo​shī, I made sure we were alone before appearing.”

    Liu Zhengfeng let out a sigh of relief, then gave Bai Xuesheng a look of mock disapproval which made him chuckle.

    ####

    Yue Buqun sat in the banqueting hall enjoying the tea that was being served. Looking up he saw a familiar figure walking towards him. Yu Canghai was about his age with a goatee beard. He was wearing a priest's robe and hat. Flanking him were Hou Renying and Hong Renxiong his two most senior apprentices. Along with Yu Renhao and Luo Renjie they made up the Four Gentlemen of Qingcheng.

    The assembled guests which included Dingyi of North Mount Heng School and Tianmen of Mount Tai Sect turned to watch as Yu Canghai bowed deeply to Yue Buqun and spoke loud enough for the entire hall to hear:

    “Master Yue, please accept my congratulations on your great teaching skills”

    “What do you mean Master Yu?”

    “Your student Linghu Chong single handedly bested two of mine, how can I not congratulate you on having such a good successor. I just hope that Master Yue would show mercy and allow such an insignificant school like mine to survive”

    Yue Buqun stood up and saluted Yu Canghai. In his most consolatory voice he spoke:

    “Master Yu surely you can't take a little fight between children so seriously. Here...” Yue Buqun lifted up a cup of tea and offered it to Yu Canghai “...how about we let bygones be bygones.”

    Yu Canghai was angry. But it was not for the defeat of his students, it was for being outmanoeuvred by Yue Buqun. By acting humble and offering tea Yue Buqun had gained the moral high ground. If Yu Canghai didn't accept he would appear petty and loose face in front of his peers.

    “Master Yu, please take it as giving me some face and accept Brother Yue's offer” said Liu Zhengfeng as he entered the hall. Now Yu Canghai really had his back to the wall. If he refused the peace offer now, not only would he loose face he would also be insulting his host.

    Reluctantly Yu Canghai accepted but in his mind he decided he would one day get his own back on Yue Buqun. As Yu Canghai drank the tea a servant came rushing in and announced that representatives from the Mount Song School were requesting admittance to the manor.

    Ten armed Mount Song apprentices entered the hall and saluted Liu Zhengfeng:

    “Humble students of Mount Song pays their respects to Uncle Liu”

    Liu Zhengfeng acknowledged the greeting with a nod and replied:

    “Please convey my thanks to Lord Zuo. Will the Lord himself be joining us?”

    “Lord Zuo sends his apologies but urgent matters demand his attention, however uncles Fei Bin and Ding Mian are on their way to join the celebations” replied one of the apprentices.

    “Please enjoy the hospitality of my home”

    “Unfortunately we must decline. We have discovered that members of the Evil Cult are hiding at Wan Hua brothel. We plan to make a present of their heads to uncle Liu.”

    Seeing an opportunity to increase his standing Yue Buqun rose to his feet:

    “Friends of the Martial Arts World, how can we tolerate the presence of evildoers within our midst. I say we aid these brave warriors of Mount Song and eradicate them!”

    A great cheer greeted his words and the hall emptied as everyone was caught up in the mob mentality.

    ###


    Lin Pingzhi and Mu Gaofeng were watching Liu Manor. There plan was to wait for the celebrations to end and then enter the Manor. They hoped to either capture Yu Canghai or one of his apprentices and force them to disclose the location of Lin Pingzhi's parents. However when the mob rushed out Mu Gaofeng had pointed Yu Canghai out to Lin Pingzhi and they had followed, hoping for the opportunity to catch him of guard.

    ####

    Qu Yang lay Linghu Chong down on a bed and took his pulse. It was very weak as the young man hovered near death. Qu Yang had tended to his external injuries but Tian Boguang's last blow had caused him to bleed internally. There was a knock on the door and Qu Feiyan entered:

    “Grand-papa, how is he?”

    “I am about to see to his internal injuries. Is the young lady well?”

    “She's still unconscious but has no serious injuries, she should wake soon.”

    Linghu Chong slowly opened his eyes. At first he could only see rough shapes but as his vision cleared he made out the faces of an elder gentleman and a young girl in her early to mid teens:

    “Where's Yilin?”

    “The young lady is safe. You better get some rest, your injuries aren't light” replied the man.

    “Who are you?”

    “Trust me you don't want to know.”

    Exhaustion overwhelmed Linghu Chong and he fell back into unconsciousness. Qu Yang sat him upright and prepared to channel his Qi into him, but was stopped by a powerful voice coming from outside. Qu Yang froze in terror:

    “Right emissary Qu, it has been a long time”

    “My Lord, please forgive your humble servant for not being able to come out and greet you”

    The door burst open and Dongfang Bubai strode in, her eyes blazing with anger. She had become accustomed to instant obedience from her subordinates and did not take kindly to Qu Yang's words. Qu Feiyan fell to her knees while Qu Yang turned to explain himself. The words died in his mouth as he saw Dongfang Bubai's face. Her anger died the moment she saw Linghu Chong. Her dole like eyes widened in shock as she saw his unmoving form. Her full lips trembled as unfamiliar fear and concern gripped her heart. It had been so long since she had felt this way about anyone that she did not quite now what to do.

    Instinctively she ran forwards and took Linghu Chong from Qu Yang. The emissary stared in stunned surprise as Dongfang Bubai, Ruler of the Sun-Moon Cult, the first and most feared Martial Artist under heaven, held Linghu Chong in a tight embrace. As she spoke the panic in her voice was clear:

    “Linghu Chong don't die. Please stay with me. LINGHU CHONG I FORBID YOU TO DIE!”.

    Her words had become nearly hysterical. Neither Qu Yang or his granddaughter had moved from their positions since Dongfang Bubai had entered the room, their confused minds tried to make sense of their Lord's reaction. Finally Dongfang Bubai lifted her head and looked at Qu Yang. In a voice choked thick with emotions she spoke:

    “What happened?”

    Qu Yang swiftly explained all that had happened. There was moment of silence as Dongfang Bubai took in his words. Taking a deep breath to calm her mind she spoke:

    “You and Feiyan had better leave”

    “Why my Lord?”

    “Mount Song School already know that you are hiding here and are gathering their forces to capture you.”

    “But my Lord, its too dangerous to move Linghu Chong”

    “I will stay and look after him”

    “You can't take such a risk my Lord!”

    “Don't tell me what I can and cannot do! I have made my decision and you will obey” Her voice left no room for debate.

    As Qu Yang and Qu Feiyan left Wan Hua brothel Dongfang Bubai placed Linghu Chong into an upright sitting position then sat behind him. Placing her hands on his back she sent a gentle stream of Qi through his body. Where the Qi flowed steadily she ignored, instead she concentrated her attention on where it flowed controllably for these were the places Linghu Chong was bleeding from.

    First she activated a series of acupoints within his body, causing the blood to flow around the affected areas, thus preventing the loss of any more blood. Then she channelled her Qi to stimulate his cells in order to speed up the natural healing process. Finally she reinforced the seals on his acupoints to ensure that the blood would not flow back into the damaged areas before they could heal.

    The whole process took nearly an hour and throughout the entire time Dongfang Bubai scolded herself for her stupidity. She was expending precious energy on saving the life of someone she barely knew. If an attack had come while she was healing him she would have been completely defenceless. How could she had placed herself in such a vulnerable position.

    However as Linghu Chong fell into her arms and she saw his peaceful sleeping face she knew she would have done it all again. Linghu Chong stirred in her arms and slowly opened his eyes. As his vision cleared he smiled at the friend holding him:

    “Brother Dong. It seems I owe you another life”

    “It's what friends are for” replied Dongfang Bubai with a gentle smile.

    “Linghu Dage! Linghu Dage where are you!” the shouts came from outside the room. The voice was female and was close to hysterical.

    “That's Yilin” said Linghu Chong as he struggled to rise.

    “I'll fetch her. You get some rest.” declared Dongfang Bubai as she placed him down on the bed.

    Stepping out of the room Dongfang Bubai saw a young woman running around frantically and screaming Linghu Chong's name. The girl was about Yingying's age and quite pretty. The latter thought gave Dongfang Bubai a pang of jealousy as she thought of how Linghu Chong had risked his life twice for her. It seems that her silly hero had an eye for beautiful maidens in distress.

    Moving quickly Dongfang Bubai stepped in front of Yilin, holding the younger woman by the shoulder she spoke sharply:

    “Calm down. Your Linghu Dage is safe. Come with me if you want to see him” Without waiting for a reply Dongfang Bubai turned around and walked towards the room she had emerged from.


    Uncontrollable tears streaked down Yilin's face as she saw Linghu Chong. Seeing his sleeping form on the bed all the fears she had felt before loosing consciousness resurfaced and she rushed to his side. Holding him by the shoulder she shook him gently at first, but when he failed to respond her actions got more aggressive and her please more frightened:

    “If you keep on shaking me like that I might never wake up” croaked Linghu Chong as he opened his eyes.

    From the doorway Dongfang Bubai let out a sigh of relief that matched Yilin's. She had also been worried when Linghu Chong had not responded to Yilin. As she walked deeper into the room Yilin turned to face her. Tears still ran down the younger woman's face but her eyes shone with joy.

    Those eyes took on a curious look as she studied the stranger walking towards her. There was something familiar about the man that Yilin could not place. It was as if she had met him before in a long forgotten dream. She was brought out of her thoughts when a courtesan ran into the room:

    “My Lord, there are a large group of people coming and they look hostile” the courtesan reported to Dongfang Bubai.

    “If there another way out?” asked Dongfang Bubai.

    “Yes my Lord, I'll take you to the secret passage.”

    Running to Linghu Chong, Dongfang Bubai and Yilin lifted him up, then supporting him on either side the followed the courtesan.

    ####'

    The guests from Liu Manor arrived at the brothel mere moments after the three left. Wan Hua brothel was the most popular entertainment establishment in the province attracting everyone form rich merchants, to Imperial officials and if the rumours were to be believed, even the nobility could be counted amongst its clientèle. Given its great reputation the brothel was understandably quite substantial in size.

    The assembled Martial Artists had decided to split up in order the cover more ground. Yu Canghai was walking through a deserted garden with Hou Renying and Hong Renxiong trailing after him. Without warning a deformed figure flew in between the Qingcheng apprentices, knocking them out with heavy blows of his fists. The figure then lunged towards Yu Canghai and aimed a palm strike at his back.

    Yu Canghai spun around and met the attack with his own palm. The power of the blow surprised him and he was only saved from injury by his decades of Qi cultivation. Having spend so many years building up his Qi reserves, the energy had naturally settled around his internal organs cushioning him from sudden attacks. Even so, he was forced back a step by the power of the attack.

    Taking a defensive stance Yu Canghai stared at his attacker and was shocked as he recognized the ugly features of the Hunchback of the North:

    “Mu Gaofeng! What is the meaning of this”

    The hunchback stood facing Yu Canghai chuckling. However this was false bravado as behind his back he clenched his fist. Mu Gaofeng had hoped to take Yu Canghai by surprise and subdue him before he could gather his wits. Now he would have to face his opponent without that advantage and judging from their initial exchange he was not at all confident of victory.

    A young hunchback came running into the garden and glared at Yu Canghai:

    “Where are my parents you fiend!?”

    “I have no idea who you are, much less where your parents are”

    Lin Pingzhi stood upright:

    “I am Lin Pingzhi. Now were are my parents”

    “Oh yes, now I remember. Your parents are....” Swift as a snake Yu Canghai lunged forwards aiming to grab Lin Pingzhi. Mu Gaofeng knocked his attack aside then tried to back hand him across the chest. Yu Canghai leapt into the air and spun over the top of the two men's head. Landing lightly he grabbed Lin Pingzhi's arm and tried to drag him away.

    Mu Gaofeng grabbed Lin Pingzhi by the other arm and rooted himself to the ground. Yu Canghai summoned his Qi and channelled it through Lin Pingzhi's body trying to dislodge Mu Gaofeng. The hunchback dug in his heels and held on so tightly that Lin Pingzhi could feel the bones on his arm cracking. The young man screamed as his arms felt like they were being yanked out of their sockets.

    Still the two men fought, sending jolts of Qi power through Lin Pingzhi's body hoping to dislodge each other. Knowing that this was not going to be an easy fight Yu Canghai tried to negotiate:

    “Brother Mu. This matter is between me and the Lin family, please don't get involved”

    “This boy called me grand-papa, how could I abandon him”

    “If you keep this up you're going to kill him”

    Lin Pingzhi knew that Yu Canghai spoke the truth, already his body felt like it would burst apart. Turning to Mu Gaofeng he pleaded:

    “Please Hero Mu, I can't take much more”

    “You hear Mu Gaofeng, he is asking you to let go”

    “Never!”

    “Fine then neither of us will have him”

    Just as Yu Canghai prepared to release a massive charge of Qi in order to kill Lin Pingzhi a beam of purple Qi hit the young man in the chest. The beam split in half and travelled along his arms until it hit the hands of Yu Canghai and Mu Gaofeng breaking both men's grips.

    Lin Pingzhi stumbled backwards nearly falling over, but a strong hand rested on his back and stabilized him. Yue Buqun stepped in front of Lin Pingzhi placing himself between the young men and his would be kidnappers:

    “Master Yu, Brother Mu. Both of you are respected figures within the Martial Arts would, it is unseemly that you should harm this child”

    Mu Gaofeng ignored him and turned to Lin Pingzhi:

    “Come boy lets go”

    “No” replied Lin Pingzhi's

    “What!?” exclaimed Mu Gaofeng's

    “If you truly valued me you wouldn't have pulled me so hard. I'll never trust you again”

    Mu Gaofeng wanted to kill the young man for his words, but to do so he must get past Yue Buqun. Having used up so much power fighting Yu Canghai he was in no condition to start another battle.

    “Fine you ungrateful brat, lets see how long you last without me.” With those words the hunchback left.

    Yu Canghai spared a glare at Lin Pingzhi before coming to the same conclusion as Mu Gaofeng and left as well.

  16. #16
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    We're having a swordsman writing competition here? Well u win in terns of writing skills but the plot is pretty much the same ole zzzzz

  17. #17
    Member optimus610's Avatar
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    Continue Mandred. I'm curious to see what changes you have in store.
    If anyone is interested in some of my other work. You can check them out here https://www.fanfiction.net/u/106973/

  18. #18
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Farewells


    It was dawn when the trio finally found shelter in the form of an abandoned hunting lodge. Being autumn the lodge was unlikely to be used until spring came around, so they knew they could rest in peace. Dongfang Bubai and Yilin laid the unconscious Linghu Chong on the only bed in the single room of the lodge. Then Dongfang Bubai checked his pulse and nodded reassuringly to Yilin.

    The younger woman visible relaxed and smiled at Dongfang Bubai. Dongfang Bubai noticed how tired Yilin looked and helped her into a chair. The young woman fell into a light sleep almost instantly eliciting a doting smile from her companion. Gently shaking her head the ruler of the Sun-Moon Sect wandered what had got into her recently.

    She had never thought of herself as a particularly compassionate person, but within the last few days she had saved Linghu Chong twice and now felt uncharacteristically tender towards this girl she barely knew. Giggling at her own silliness she let out a big yawn. With the only furnitures being occupied by her companions Dongfang Bubai sat against a wall and closed her eyes.


    ####


    Liu Zhengfeng's knuckles turned white as he griped the hilt of the sword with so much force that the wood started to crack. What should have been his retirement ceremony had turned into the end of his world.

    Fei Bin and Ding Mian had arrived just as Liu Zhengfeng was about to to wash his hands within the golden basin, signalling his formal retirement from the Martial Arts world. Holding the Five Mountains Flag of Command, the symbol of Zuo Lengshan's authority as Leader of the Five Mountain Sword School Alliance, the Mount Song elders has demanded that Liu Zhengfeng cancel the ceremony and place himself into their custody.

    Of course Liu Zhengfeng had refused and claimed that this was his personal affair and so not subject Zuo Lengshan's authority. Fei Bin and Ding Mian had ignored his protest and repeated their demands with the threat of having Liu Zhengfeng branded as a traitor if he refused. Filled with righteous indignation Liu Zhengfeng moved to plunge his hand into the basin in defiance of Mount Song's unreasonable demands.

    Fei Bin's sword shot out slicing the basin in half. With a twist of his wrist Fei Bin sent the sword towards Liu Zhengfeng's heart forcing him to leap backwards to avoid being impaled. The assembled guests let out a collective gasps of astonishment at Fei Bin's attack and moved to stop the fight. Suddenly dozens of Mount Song apprentices appeared. With bared swords the surrounded the guest stopping anyone coming to Lu Zhengfeng's aid.

    Liu Zhengfeng gave ground steadily swerving his body as he went. Despite his appearance he was a master of the South Mount Heng School's martial arts. He moved with the speed and evasiveness that his school was famous for, retreating from his opponent like the tide before the coast. Fei Bin attacked as befitting an elder of Mount Song, his sword struck often and every blow was driven by murderous strength. After retreating 30 steps Liu Zhengfeng knew that he was running out of room to manoeuvre, for the shadow of a wall loomed over him. Fei Bin had also spotted his opponents predicament and lunged forwards to finish the fight.

    Liu Zhengfeng inclined to the left in order to avoid the attack and Fei Bin angled his blade to follow. This was the chance Liu Zhengfeng had been waiting for. Quickly swinging to the right he stepped into Fei Bin's attack. The blade passed harmlessly by and Liu Zhengfeng hammered his elbow into Fei Bin's face. As his opponent reeled from the blow Liu Zhengfeng knocked the sword out of his hand with an underarm palm strike to the wrist. Catching the spinning blade by the hilt he rested the tip of the sword on Fei Bin's throat.

    “Papa!” screamed a voice form the crowd.

    Looking up Liu Zhengfeng saw his wife and 10 year old son Liu Qin, being held hostage by Ding Mian. Outraged by Mount Song's behaviour Dingyi stepped forwards and confronted Ding Mian:

    “What is the meaning of this? I demand you release Brother Liu's family now”

    “Mother Dingyi I remind you that you are also a member of the Five Mountain Sword Schools Alliance, and so still subject to Lord Zuo's orders.” retorted Ding Mian.

    “Even if Lord Zuo himself was here I would not tolerate such behaviour towards a fellow member of the Alliance.”

    “Liu Zhengfeng has forfeited his position within the Alliance!”

    “What?”

    Ding Mian turned to Liu Zhengfeng:

    “Well Liu Zhengfeng do you dare admit your real reason for retiring from the Martial Arts world?”

    A look of horror came over Liu Zhengfeng's face as he realised that his secret was out. He desperately wanted to deny his friendship with Qu Yang but could not bring himself to do so. Their friendship had reached a level beyond the mere physical camaraderie shared between people of the Martial Arts world and he refused to shame it:

    “Yes I am retiring in order to pursue my friendship with Brother Qu Yang. But this is my decision.”

    Ding Mian spat at his feet:

    “You are a member of the Alliance. By consorting with a demon like Qu Yang you deserve death. However Lord Zuo in his infinite mercy has decided to give you a chance at redemption. If you bring Qu Yang's head to Mount Song within 10 days then Loud Zuo will pardon your crime and allow you to retire from the Martial Arts world.”

    “And if I refuse?”

    Ding Mian pressed his sword against Madam Liu's throat drawing a small trickle of blood. Liu Zhengfeng looked at his wife with eyes full of impotent pain. Madam Liu smiled back:

    “Husband from the moment we agreed to be friends with Brother Qu we have prepared for this day. Although my feelings for him cannot compare to the bond you share, I cannot bring myself to ask you to kill him.”

    “My wife, I am sorry”

    Madam Liu shook her head “Don't be. I am not” Ding Mian slashed his sword through her throat and Liu Qin screamed as his mother's blood sprayed across his face.

    Dingyi let out a cry of outrage and hurled her right palm at Ding Mian. The Mount Song elder met the attack with his left palm. For a moment the two masters strained against each other until Dingyi stumbled back and clutched her chest. The nun had been completely overwhelmed by Ding Mian's Qi power and knew that her internal organs had been bruised in the exchange. Turning to Liu Zhengfeng she bowed her head in shame:

    “I am sorry Brother Liu. I am afraid my meeker skills are unable to aid you.”

    “Mother Dingyi has my eternal gratitude.” replied Liu Zhengfeng.

    Ding Mian turned to the weeping Liu Qin, the boy stared back in terror:

    “Please don't hurt me” pleaded the child.

    “If you want to live then beg your father to obey me”

    Liu Zhengfeng saw the fear in his son's eyes as the boy turned to face him:

    “Qin'er, do not shame me”

    “But I don't want to die”

    “Your mother faced death with courage, dare you do less”

    “Please Papa. Just kill uncle Qu.”

    “Silence you brat! How dare you say such a thing. From today onwards you are no longer my son”

    Ding Mian laughed and clapped his hand. Liu Zhengfeng could not believe his eyes as his apprentices were lead bound and gagged then forced to kneel before him:

    “Well Liu Zhengfeng, what is it to be. The life of Qu Yang or your apprentices?”

    Liu Zhengfeng released Fei Bin and strode forward:

    “You win Ding Mian. If its death you want, I give it to you” Liu Zhengfeng brought the blade to his own throat. A stone flew through the air and knocked the blade from Liu Zhengfeng's hand. Looking up Liu Zhengfeng saw the friend he had sacrificed his family for, floating down towards him:

    “Brother Liu, I never thought that it would come to this” said Qu Yang as he landed in front of his friend.

    Liu Zhengfeng shook his head and grasps Qu Yang's shoulders: “Even so I have no regrets. To have had a friend like you I would die a thousand deaths.”

    Qu Yang turned to the Mount Song elders the hate in eyes hitting them like a physical blow:

    “How can you stand there and call yourself righteous people. I may be a member of the Sun-Moon Cult but I have never taken an innocent life nor forced a man to kill his friend. If you want to see a demon then I suggest you look in the mirror.”

    “Silence Demon. You have no right to speak here. If you surrender I might grant you a quick end.” replied Ding Mian.

    Qu Yang's laugh was so cruel that he really did sound like a demon: “You want my head. Then take it, if you can” With these words he lunged towards Ding Mian.

    Liu Zhengfeng tried to come to his friend's aid but found himself set upon by a dozen Mount Song apprentices.

    Qu Yang attacked Ding Mian with lightning fast palm and finger strikes. On the surface these attacks seemed random and uncoordinated but were anything but. Qu Yang was constantly moving his body, hiding deadly blows within deceptive feints keeping Ding Mian on his toes as he tried unsuccessfully to anticipate the next attack. Despite being armed Ding Mian found himself on the defensive and for every stroke he got off Qu Yang returned three.

    Fei Bin swept up his sword and went for Qu Yang's back. Qu Yang's footwork saved him as he danced away from the blade that seek to break his spine. However the momentum of his own attack was broken and Ding Mian joined Fei Bin on the offensive. Qu Yang's retreat was a stealthy as his attack with false steps and hidden counter attacks allowing him to evade the flashing blades of the master swordsmen. But no matter how well he defended he knew that he could not last long against two opponents of such calibre.

    Liu Zhengfeng had fought his way free of the encircling Mount Song apprentices. A pile of bodies laid at his feet, but the Mount Heng master had not escaped unscathed. There were deep gashes on his arms and chest. A flap of skin hung loosely from his left cheek and bled freely. Seeing the danger that Qu Yang was in he ran to his aid.

    Fei Bin heard him coming and turned to face the new threat. Eager to avenge his defeat from before Fei Bin attacked. Liu Zhengfeng reacted instantly. Leaning to his right he patted the flat of the blade with his left hand sending it away from his body and at the same time struck at Fei Bin's neck with his right. Had the blow landed it would have crushed his neck, but Liu Zhengfeng was slowed by his injuries which allowed Fei Bin to jump backwards and avoid the death strike.

    As he leapt back Fei Bin brought his sword down in an overhead slash aiming to split Liu Zhengfeng's skull. Liu Zhengfeng tried to doge, but the loss of blood was beginning to tell and he took the blow on his shoulder. Distracted by the pain he did not see Fei Bin follow the blow with a palm strike and was hit in the chest. With his body already wounded he has unable to resist the blow and felt his heart rupture under the pressure.

    Qu Yang seeing his friend fatally injured forgot his own battle and went to his aid. In his eagerness to reach his friend he forgot the first rule of fighting, never turn your back on an enemy. Ding Mian pierced his shoulder with his blade then struck him in the back with his free hand. As Qu Yang fell Fei Bin added a slash to his side and Qu Yang was sent sprawling to the floor next to Liu Zhengfeng.

    Ding Mian and Fei Bin loomed over the fallen men and prepared to finish then of. Suddenly there was a loud crash from behind and they turned to see the Mount Song apprentices guarding the entrance being thrown into the air as if they were rag dolls. Bai Xuesheng went through the remaining Mount Song apprentices like a tiger through grass, they either got out of his way or were crushed.

    The Mount Song elders were so stunned by his appearance that the barely got the blades up in time to block his attack. Aiming a palm strike at each man's chest Bai Xuesheng hit their swords with his Qi infused hands. The Mount Song elders felt like they had been hit by a hurricane and were thrown into the air by the immense power of the blow.

    Bai Xuesheng crouched down in front of Liu Zhengfeng and Qu Yang gripping them by the shoulders:

    “Uncles please leave, I'll follow.”

    Before the men could reply he hurled them over the Manor gate and sent a stream of Qi energy along with them to cushion their fall. Meanwhile the Mount Song apprentices that could still stand helped their elders to their feet and they charged Bai Xuesheng. Plunging his fingers into a stone floor slab he channelled his Qi through the ground and sent an invisible web of power linking all the stone slabs together. As he lifted the slab all the slabs around it came up as well then crashed into his attacks in a wave of masonry.

    Ding Mian and Fei Bin were able to leap over the wave but their apprentices were not so lucky and found themselves buried under its weight. The Mount Song elders plunged downwards their swords lunging for Bai Xuesheng. The young man dived forwards and gripped their legs as he passed under them. Savagely he threw them to either side of himself and into nearby walls with so much force that they left imprints of the bodies in the brick work.

    The assembled guests watched in awe at this display of raw power and none dared to approach the dangerous man as he casually headed for the gate. Fei Bin rose to his knees and shouted after his departing vanquisher:

    “Leave your name if you have the guts brat!”

    Bai Xuesheng turned and smiled the smile of a skull:

    “You are not worthy to know my name. Have you owner ask for me at White Tiger Palace.” With these words the Lord of White Tiger Palace left the manor, leaving a trail of destruction behind him.

    ####

    It was late afternoon when Dongfang Bubai was awaken by gentle footsteps approaching. Her Qi enhanced senses had been trained to wake her at the approach of anyone within a 5 foot radius, an essential skill for someone in her position. Instantly alert she saw Yilin walking towards her carrying some wild fruits and a clay jug from the lodge. Accepting the food and water Dongfang Bubai thanked her. As she was about to eat her eyes glided towards the still sleeping form of Linghu Chong.

    Yilin followed her gaze then gave Dongfang Bubai a smile:

    “It's all right I've given Linghu Dage some water already. When he wakes I'll give him some fruit”

    Dongfang Bubai smiled back and proceeded to eat. After her meal she checked Linghu Chong's pulse and was happy that her seals were still in place. She then turned to Yilin:

    “There are some matters I must attend to. He should wake in a few hours, then the two of you can go to the Liu Manor. Both your Shifus are there.”

    “Please accept my thanks for the help you have given us. May I know sir's name?”

    Dongfang Bubai was impressed by her character. Despite her obvious fears she did not plead for her to stay:

    “My name is Dong fangbo and you are Yilin. Your Linghu Dage has already told me your name.”

    “Farewell Mister Dong.”

    “Farewell Yilin”

    With a last glance at Linghu Chong, Dongfang Bubai left.

    ####

    It was evening by the time she found her way back to the city, going straight to Wan Hua brothel she was greeted by the Madam, whose real identity was a Sun-Moon Cult spy:

    “My Lord, I am glad you are safe”

    “Those righteous schools didn't give you too much trouble did they?”

    “General Huang was one of my clients last night. When he made his presence known those righteous schools started melting away” the madam smiled as she spoke.

    “Any word from Qu Yang?”

    The madam stopped smiling:

    “I am afraid I have bad news my Lord” the madam went on to explain what had transpired at Liu Manor for she had had spies amongst the servants of the manor.

    Dongfang Bubai digested the information then gave her orders:

    “Have our people within the city divide into two groups. One group are the look for Qu Yang and Liu Zhengfeng. When they are found they are to be escorted out of the city.”

    “And the other group my Lord?”

    “There is a hunter's lodge to the south of the city. A man and a woman are there. The other group are to discreetly protect them until they are safe.”

    ####

    Linghu Chong woke to see Yilin dosing on a chair besides him. The lodge was quite dark so he guessed it must have been night. He tried to rise but grunted in pain as he strained his stitches. His grunt woke Yilin:

    “Linghu Dage how are you”

    “I am fine, and you”

    Yilin nodded her head. As she brought Linghu Chong some fruit the sound of beautiful music came floating in through the door. The tune was so mesmerizing that Linghu Chong forgot his pain and rose from the bed. With Yilin supporting him they left the lodge to find the source of the music.


    Qu Yang and Liu Zhengfeng sat in a clearing within the woods. Qu Feiyan crouched nearby tending a small fire that bathed the clearing in a gentle orange glow. Qu Yang strummed his guqin with practised ease, the notes coming of like the wind driving forward distant clouds.

    Liu Zhengfeng played his flute as if it was an extension of his will, the tune travelled like faraway lightning, igniting the air with sparks of excitement. The tempo of the melodies started of slow and gentle tantalising the ears of Linghu Chong and Yilin as they listened from the trees. Gradually the pace of the music increased like a gathering storm until finally the guqin and the flute melded into a single symphony of rolling thunder and electrifying lightning. The music filled the entire clearing drawing on memories of joy, sorrow, laughter and tears until it felt like all the emotions merged into a unique experience that was both familiar yet new. Finally the instruments reached the last incredible notes then quietly faded away like the passing of a great storm.

    Both men slumped to the ground the last of their energy spent. Qu Feiyan rushed to their side but stopped at the raise hand of her grandfather. The two friends smiled through bloodied teeth:

    “Brother Liu, Heaven is most kind for allowing us to perform Xiaoao Jianghu once more before we die.”

    “Yes Brother Qu. That the earth once had you and me create such a wondrous tune has left me with no regrets in this life.”

    Qu Feiyan fought back her tears and tried to comfort them:

    “Grand-papa, when you and Uncle Liu have recovered we will destroy the Mount Song School and avenge Aunty Liu's murder.”

    “Really and how are three ghosts going to achieve this miracle?” Fei Bin stepped from the trees as he spoke the mocking words.

    Qu Feiyan drew a pair of daggers from her belt and took a defensive stance. Fei Bin didn't even draw his sword but continued walking leisurely forwards. Liu Zhengfeng and Qu Yang tried to rise but could find no strength:

    “Feiyan run” cried Liu Zhengfeng

    “No I won't abandon the both of you”

    “What makes you think any of you are going to escape” said Fei Bin as he continued walking.

    Qu Feiyan ran forwards the daggers spinning in her hands. Like her grandfather Qu Feiyan's attacks contained many deceptive feints that hid its deadly intent. She would make exaggerated movements with one dagger in order to mask the deadly attack from the other. Qu Feiyan was skilled for her age, but Fei Bin was a veteran fighter and could not so easily be deceived. Catching Qu Feiyan's wrist as she lunged the dagger to his throat he took the blade form her as if he was plucking a flower.

    The girl stabbed with her other dagger but was disarmed in the same way. Before she could make a third attack Fei Bin stepped forward and backhanded her across the face. Qu Feiyan was sent sprawling at the feet of the men she was trying to defend.

    “Fei Bin. You are a reputed warrior. How could you treat any innocent child this way!?” yelled Liu Zhengfeng.

    “You have no right to talk to me you traitor.”

    “Stop” shouted Linghu Chong as he and Yilin stepped into the clearing.

    “And who might you be boy?” asked Fei Bin.

    Linghu Chong and Yilin saluted Fei Bin:

    “Linghu Chong of Mount Hua”

    “Yilin of Mount Heng”

    “Pays our respects to Uncle Fei” they said together.

    “So it is the apprentices of Brother Yue and Mother Dingyi. I am glad the two of you are hear. This little spawn of the Evil Cult needs taken care of. However it would be unseemly for someone of my standing to do it. If you two will do this favour for me I will be sure to inform Lord Zuo who will undoubted reward you.”

    “I am afraid I can't do Uncle Fei. Elder Qu and his granddaughter saved my life. It would be only an animal who could kill his benefactor or take the life of a child and injured people.”

    “You think your fancy words can save you. I can kill five just as easily as I can kill three.”

    Yilin stepped in front of Linghu Chong, gone was the frightened young girl that had cowed before Tian Boguang to be replaced by a determined woman ready to die to protect those dear to her.

    “Leave them alone you monster” screamed Qu Feiyan.

    Fei Bin spun around and his blade flashed across her throat staining the grass in blood.

    “Feiyan!” cried Qu Yang

    Lunging forward Fei Bin was determined to send Qu Yang to join his granddaughter but found his murderous intent thwarted as powerful fingers gripped his wrist. Looking to his side he saw a pair of green eyes staring back at him. The eyes were as hard and sharp as cut emeralds. Fei Bin knew he was staring into his death. Bai Xuesheng broke the wrist with a vicious twist and Fei Bin's sword fell from his lifeless fingers. As Fei Bin screamed Bai Xuesheng stamped down with on his right ankle breaking it as well.

    Ignoring the crippled Mount Song elder Bai Xuesheng rushed to Qu Feiyan. His hands trembled in fury as he held her dead body. Moving so fast that he appeared like a blur Bai Xuesheng crouched in front of Fei Bin. The man's screams were cut of as Bai Xuesheng wrapped his fingers around his throat. In a voice so cold that it sent chills down everyone's spins he spoke:

    “So you like killing children do you? Well guess what. I like killing scum like you”

    As he spoke Bai Xuesheng increased the pressure on Fei Bin's throat. Desperately the man clawed at the grip with his remaining hand, but he might as well had been clawing at the hangman's knot for all the good it did. With sickening slowness Bai Xuesheng tightened his grip until finally the neck snapped and Fei Bin hung slack in his grip.

    Linghu Chong let at a cheer at the death of the child killer but Yilin looked on in horror. In the firelight Bai Xuesheng's handsome feature took on what almost demonic features. His emerald eyes, normally so warm had become frighteningly cold. The way he had tormented Fei Bin before killing him made Yilin sick. She hoped never to be alone with someone capable of such casual cruelty.

    Bai Xuesheng turned to Qu Yang and Liu Zhengfeng only to see them lying dead on the ground, their hands clasped together in a final gesture of friendship. Bai Xuesheng cursed himself for not preventing this. If he had listened to Liu Zhengfeng and attended the ceremony then he could have stopped all this from happening. Instead he had been at a brothel and only knew of what Mount Song was doing when one of his agents came to get him.

    Not wishing strangers to see the sorrow on his face he spoke to Linghu Chong and Yilin without turning around:

    “I will take care of the bodies, the two of you can leave” his tone made it plain that this was not a request.

    Linghu Chong did not like his attitude but seeing how easily he had killed Fei Bin ,he knew it was best not to antagonise such a man. With Yilin supporting him they left. When he was alone Bai Xuesheng reached into his chest and pulled out a flare.

    ####

    As they made their way back to the lodge Linghu Chong spotted something in the grass. Moving closer he saw it was a bundle. Opening it he found a book titled “Xiaoao Jianghu”. On the first page of the book was written:

    “To whomever finds this book,
    We Liu Zhengfeng and Qu Yang are the creators of this music score.
    We pray that you are one who can appreciate our great work to which we have devoted half our lives.
    If you have no interest in music then we beg you to pass this to someone who has.
    If our work can survive into future generations then we can die in peace.

    Signed Liu Zhengfeng and Qu Yang”

    Linghu Chong still felt guilty about not being to repay Qu Yang for saving his life so decided to honour the man's last wish. Explaining his decision to Yilin he got her to promise not reveal the existence of the score.

    ####

    Bai Xuesheng stared into the night as his men buried the bodies, except for Fei Bin whom he had delivered back the Mount Song apprentices at Liu Manor. One of his men approached and bowed:

    “My Lord the bodies have been buried.”

    “Have tomb stones made for the deceased and let it be known that any desecration of them will be considered a declaration of war on me.”

    “Yes my Lord. We also found this and thought you might find it interesting.”

    Bai Xuesheng took the item which was a silk charm just like the one he had, except that it was made of pink silk and smaller. The colour and size of the charm told him that it belonged to a girl, but he knew that Dongfang Bubai had never made such a thing for Qu Feiyan. That left only on other candidate for the charm's owner.

    ####

    Yu Canghai sat in a pavilion while Hou Renying served him tea. They had left Liu Manor quickly as they did not want get involved in the internal affairs of the Five Mountain Sword School Alliance and they also wanted to avoid running into Yue Buqun. The latter though turned out to be in vain as they saw Yue Buqun and the Mount Hue apprentices walking towards along the road.

    Yue Buqun waved to Yu Canghai and called out to him:

    “Master Yu please wait”

    “How can I help you Master Yue?”

    “My new apprentice Lin Pingzhi has lost his parents. I was wondering if you might know where they are?”

    “Of course they are...”

    Yu Canghai drew his sword so fast that Lin Pingzhi never saw it coming until the point was at his throat. Luckily Yue Buqun's reactions were much swifter and he intercepted the attack with his own blade. His return strike forced Yu Canghai to leap backwards to avoid having his own throat slashed. Back and forth the two masters fought their blades flickering almost too fast to see.

    The duel was not confined to just swordsmanship as both men enhanced their blows with Qi energy hoping to knock away or shatter their opponent's blade. Yu Canghai realised that Yue Buqun was the toughest opponent he had ever faced and if he was going to emerge victorious he had to take this to another level.

    Jumping backwards he created a 10 feet gap between himself and Yu Buqun, then summoning his Qi he unleashed the full power of his Pine Wood Sword Art. His blade glowed a bright jade green and spears of green light appeared in front of him. The spears flew forward and looked set to impale his opponent.

    Yue Buqun activated his Violet Mist Divine Skill and was encased in a purple fog that smothered the spears. The fog condensed into his blade. Both masters lunged forwards and the points of their blades met. For long minutes purple mist competed with green light until finally the former prevailed. Yu Canghai's sword was split lengthways in half and knocked out of his hand. Yue Buqun followed with a palm strike that sent a fist size ball of purple mist into Yu Canghai's chest sending the latter crashing into the pavilion.

    As Yu Canghai picked himself up he saw Yue Buqun looming over him:

    “Master Yu, if you will release my apprentice's parents I will spare your life. In the future if Lin Pingzhi succeeds in his Martial studies he will settle this dispute with you himself.”

    With little option Yu Canghai was about to agree when suddenly Yu Renhao came running towards him. The Qingcheng apprentices was covered in cuts and bruises. In his arms he cradled the head of Luo Renjie:

    “Shifu, Mu Gaofeng killed Luo Renjie and took the Lin couple” screamed Yu Renhao.

    Lin Pingzhi grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him violently:

    “Where has Mu Gaofeng taken my parents?!”

    Yu Renhao looked at Yu Canghai who told him to answer:

    “To the south of the city.”

    ####

    A horrendous scream woke Linghu Chong and Yilin as they slept in the lodge. Looking outside they saw an ugly hunchback violently kick a bound man. To the side was a woman also bound and obviously injured:

    “Talk you scum. Where is the manual” screamed the hunchback

    “I don't know. Even if I did I would never tell the likes of you” replied the man.

    “Do you really think I won't kill you. I am Mu Gaofeng 'Hunchback of the North', there is no crime I dare not commit.”

    “I Lin Zhennan maybe lacking in Martial Arts but I have some honour. If you think I will disgrace my ancestors by giving into you, then you are sorely mistaken.”

    As Mu Gaofeng was about to strike Lin Zhennan again Linghu Chong ran out of the lodge:

    “Linghu Chong of Mount Hua greets elder Mu. My Shifu send his regard and would like to inform elder that he will soon be here.”

    'Yu Buqun is coming' thought the hunchback.

    Yilin ran up besides Linghu Chong:

    “Yilin of North Mount Heng greets elder Mu. My Shifu also sends her regards”

    'There's no benefit to staying here. I can always recapture them later' Mu Gaofeng decided in his head.

    “Please express my apologies to your Shifus. But I must leave” without waiting for a reply, the Hunchback took flight.

    Linghu Chong let out a sigh of relief, then turned to Yilin:

    “That was pretty clever of you to back me up like that”

    “I was merely following lead. Who knew he was so easy to trick”

    “IS THAT SO?” shouted Mu Gaofeng as he emerged from the trees.

    The Hunchback cackled:

    “Didn't your Shifus teach you not to try and con a conman. Well that is a lesson you can take to the afterlife.”

    Unsheathing his scimitar he made to kill the interlopers. Linghu Chong threw himself in front of Yilin in a gesture he knew was futile. Their young lives however were saved when a dozen masked figures fell from the sky. The new arrivals stood between them and the Hunchback. Quickly the men spread out in a semi circle and attacked. They fought as if one, their movements perfectly coordinated. When Mu Gaofeng charged the left the right counter attacked. When he attacked the right the left charged. When he went for the centre both flanks came in.

    One of the masked men threw something shiny at the Hunchback, making him jump backwards. When he looked at the object he saw it was a Black-moon needle, a secret weapon of the Sun-Moon Cult. Not daring to make any enemy of the cult Mu Gaofeng really fled. The masked men bowed to Linghu Chong and Yilin then left as mysteriously as they arrived.

    Linghu Chong and Yilin looked at each other in confusion. Then Linghu Chong shrugged and went to Lin Zhennan:

    “Elder Lin please hold on, I'll get help.”

    “I am afraid it is to late. I thank young hero for his aid, but I am afraid I must impose on you to do one more thing.”

    “I am at elders' service”

    “If you see my son Lin Pingzhi tell him that there a few items at our ancestral home in Fuzhou that must be taken care of. But he must be careful for if they are handled incorrectly disaster will befall him”

    “I promise to deliver this message”

    “My thanks to...” with these words Lin Zhennan passed away.

    Linghu Chong turned to Yilin who was crouched besides Madam Lin. Yilin shook her head in sadness. Hearing approaching footsteps they looked up and saw Yue Buqun along with his apprentices. Besides Yue Buqun was a young man that Linghu Chong didn't recognize, but he guessed was Lin Pingzhi as a look of on his face when he saw the dead bodies.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by optimus610 View Post
    Continue Mandred. I'm curious to see what changes you have in store.
    Thanks will do

  20. #20
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    Nice work so far Mandred. Interested to see where you're going with Bai Xuesheng. Introducing a new character on par with Dongfang Bubai was a good idea.

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