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Thread: Swordsman the Lost Duel

  1. #41
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Hunter and Prey




    Yilin lifted the curtain of the carriage and peered over the shoulder of the driver. The driver turned and gave her a friendly smile which the young woman returned. For the past few days the carriage had been her home and the driver had been her guardian, as she travelled with Bai Xuesheng. When Bai Xuesheng had told her that their return to North Mount Heng was going to be delayed Yilin had been surprised by her reaction.

    Instead of being disappointed or even suspicious as she knew she should be, she had been so happy that she had had to fight to keep a smile from her face. Yilin had wondered about her feelings for a long time. It wasn't so long ago that she had thought herself in love with Linghu Chong. But now she was not so sure. True the memory of his face still invoked strong emotions within her, but was this really love?

    After all she barely knew Linghu Chong and had only seen the best side of his character. She knew he was intelligent, heroic and kind-hearted, but what of his flaws? Like anyone else he must have had them and when she discovered them would she still love him, if love was what she felt for him? Yilin wondered where these doubts were coming from and her answer came as she spied Bai Xuesheng's back as he rode ahead of the column.

    Over the last half a month Yilin had grown to know Bai Xuesheng and realised he was a lot more than the savage killer she had presumed him to be. She had discovered a witty, intelligent, thoughtful and brave man. By discovering these traits within Bai Xuesheng, Yilin had started wondering what traits Linghu Chong might have and how she would feel when she discovered them. If her opinion of Bai Xuesheng could change with time, then could her feelings for Linghu Chong also change?

    She had lost a lot sleep pondering these questions but still could find no answers. Now she wondered if she ever would.

    ####

    Tai Zhong looked over his shoulder and saw Yilin peering out of the curtain. After receiving Bai Xuesheng's orders he had assembled the 100 strong Iron Tigers and hurried to meet his Lord. He had run into the pair of them on the road and now he along with his men were escorting them to Yan Xi's territory.

    The captain had not been surprised to see his Lord accompanied by a beautiful young woman as he knew the young man's vices. However he was surprised at the way Bai Xuesheng behaved around her. Although not a callous man, to Bai Xuesheng women were merely a form of entertainment and he treated them as valued servants or prized possessions. Not being a jealous man Bai Xuesheng had never objected to his men sharing any of his conquests.

    But he treated this woman completely differently. He had appointed old Cài as her driver and chaperone. It was a choice designed to protect her chastity as the man had a daughter of about the same age and he was famously protective over her. This was not the only way in which Bai Xuesheng treated Yilin differently from other women. Whenever he talked to her it was always with his typical humour and wit but with a distinct lack of the flirtation that he normally used when talking to women. He treated her like an equal something Tai Zhong had never seen him do before.

    If the old captain hadn't known better he would have thought his Lord was in love. The old man nearly chuckled at absurdity of the idea. Even if by some miracle Bai Xuesheng was to fall in love it would not be with someone like Yilin. Sure she was beautiful but she was unworldly to the point of being naive.

    He still remembered the look in her face when old Cài had told her about the extent of Bai Xuesheng's domain. She and listened in stunned silence as the old warrior had explained that the centre of Bai family's power was White Tiger Palace where a thousand warriors were housed. But her eyes grew as large as saucers when she found out that the family had such vast estates all over the country and that they had appointed 12 stewards tilted after the 12 zodiac animals to manage them.

    Each steward commanded between 100 to 500 men which meant that Bai Xuesheng could call upon nearly 5,000 men if need be. Yan Xi the steward they were travelling to was known as the Snake Steward and his domain contained around 300 warriors. From Yilin's expression Tai Zhong could tell that such numbers impressed her, indicating that she was not from a particularly powerful school or family.

    Tai Zhong stopped thinking about Yilin when he heard Bai Xuesheng laughing at a joke from his son Tai Jian. The three of them rode at the head of the column with the carriage in the middle. Tai Zhong turned and smiled at the younger men. One was his son by blood the other his son of the heart. Tai Zhong had been a friend of Bai Yingfeng and had watched Bai Xuesheng growing up. He had always looked upon his Lord with the loving eyes of a father even if he never dared admit it.

    He only hoped that when the time came he would have the strength to protect both his sons.

    ####

    Yilin kept her eyes on Bai Xuesheng's back as they made their way through the bamboo forest. It was early evening and the light was starting to wane. Yilin could feel little Ming tightening his grip on her hand. She looked down and gave him a reassuring a smile that the eight year old returned with as much courage as his young heart could muster.

    Bai Xuesheng had divided his men into groups of ten as the reached the outskirts of Yan Xi's territory, hoping that the small groups could slip through the enemy spies. Yilin was glad that Bai Xuesheng had included her in his group. They had been travelling for two days when they had run into the refugees. There were about 200 of them and they had been trying to make their way into Yan Xi's stronghold deep in the forest. Most of them were old people or young children and Bai Xuesheng would not abandon them to the mercy of his enemy.

    Yilin had spotted Ming walking on his own and asked him where his parents were. The boy fought back tears as he told her that they had been killed by the attackers. Yilin's heart had gone out to him as she saw how he tried to stay brave in front of her and had asked him if he would hold her hand and protect her.

    This had been the proudest moment of the boy's life. This beautiful lady was asking him to protect her, it made him feel like a hero in the stories his parents used to tell him. His young mind had concluded that she must be some kind of princess as she travelled with Lord Bai and he could not refuse her request.

    A scout emerged from the forest and Bai Xuesheng called a halt as he talked to him. After a few moments he called his warriors and Yilin together:

    “We have been discovered.” Yilin was shocked by the words, but as all the men remained silent she also held he feasr in check. Seeing that he had everyone's attention Bai Xuesheng continued:

    “Groups of enemy men have been spotted in front and behind us. At present we have two options. One we abandon the refugees and flee. Two, there is a small clearing to the west which leads to a natural bottle neck. We can make our last stand there. Well what do you say?”

    Tai Jian spoke:

    “My Lord I ask that you and Lady Yilin leave. The rest of us will stay and protect the refugees for as long as we can” The other ten men echoed the proposal.

    Bai Xuesheng smiled:

    “Proud words spoken by proud men. I'll be honoured to fight with you, however I ask one of you to escort Yilin away.”

    “No I won't go!” declared Yilin so loudly and even the refugees, huddled several feet away heard:

    “Yilin, if anything happens to you how will I explain it to your sister?” replied Bai Xuesheng

    “I decide my own path and I choose this one”

    Bai Xuesheng felt a surge of pride at the defiance in her voice. At this moment she looked as fierce as her sister. With the decision made Bai Xuesheng had his men gather up the refugees and they made their way to the clearing.

    ####

    The Sun rose behind them as Bai Xuesheng, Yilin and the ten Iron Tigers stood in front of the refugees. They stood facing out of the clearing waiting for the enemy to come to them. The clearing was quite well concealed and their pursuers had missed it during the night, but they all knew that come dawn they would be easily spotted.

    Yilin looked at Bai Xuesheng's profile in the morning light and couldn't keep a smile from her face. She knew the danger they were in but felt no fear. For some reason the mere presence of Bai Xuesheng seemed to banish any thoughts of terror from her heart. Looking around she could see that he was having the same effect of the Iron Tigers around him. It was as if his men truly believed that he could get them out of this alive.

    Then they came. A huge mob of men stepped into the clearing to confront the eleven men and one woman opposing them. Yilin had never seen so many people gathered in one place and guessed that they must have numbered at least two hundred strong. Everyone of them was armed with sword or spear and she could feel their murderous intent from where she stood. These men were not going to show mercy.

    Two men walked forwards and addressed Bai Xuesheng:

    “So we meet again Lord Bai” said Ding Mian. He was one of the two men who had stepped forwards. The other man was about the same age as him. However while Ding Mian looked at Bai Xuesheng with triumphant mockery the other man looked ashamed. Bai Xuesheng ignored Ding Mian and addressed his companion:

    “So Lán Máo what was the price of your loyalty?” Bai Xuesheng asked the question in a tone devoid of anger, as if he was genuinely curious of the answer.

    “If you would surrender my Lord I promise your life and the lives of your companions will be spared” replied Lán Máo in a sheepish voice.

    “Shouldn't you ask your owner for permission before making such an offer” this time Bai Xuesheng couldn't keep the sneer from his voice.

    Ding Mian's laughter boomed out:

    “Defiant to the end. A thousand pieces of silver to however brings me his head!” Ding Mian shouted the last part and the men behind him surged forwards to claim the promised reward.

    Suddenly nearly half the refugees behind Bai Xuesheng ran forwards and flung their tattered rags over their shoulders to reveal loaded crossbows. A hundred bolts flew through the air and the front line of the attackers disappeared beneath the rain of death. The rest of the attackers stood stock still as they tried to make sense of this turn of events. As they did so the refugees who had loosed the deadly bolts dropped their crossbows and draw concealed short swords.

    “The Iron Tigers, all of them!” cried Lán Máo in disbelief as he recognized the emblem each men wore on the clothes.

    “It doesn't matter. We still outnumber them more than two to one. Two thousand pieces of silver to whoever brings me his head” screamed Ding Mian as he attempted to steady his men's nerves.

    “I would count again if I was you.” replied Bai Xuesheng.

    In answer to his words three groups of men emerged from the forest appearing on the flanks and rear of the attacking troops. Despair gripped Ding Mian and Lán Máo forces as they saw their hopeless predicament:

    “But how?” cried Lán Máo

    “Did you think you stumbled on my location by chance? I deliberately let you know where I was in order to lure you into this trap.”

    Yilin stared at Bai Xuesheng in amazement. How long had he been planning this and why had he not told her of his plan? Did he think she would betray him or did he deem her not important enough to be taken into his confidence? His next words however banished all thoughts of resentment from her mind and replaced them with fear:

    “Lán Máo, your betrayal means your life and the lives of your men are forfeit. However if you surrender, then I promise the lives of your loved ones will be spared. But if you defy me then I swear that no mercy will be shown to anyone, be they children, women or the aged.”

    As the threat hung in the air Yilin looked once more at Bai Xuesheng. But while her previous look contained admiration now she was looking at him with searching eyes. She was looking for any hints of weakness or compassion that would tell her he was bluffing, that he would not carry out his threat. But all she found was grim determination.

    Lán Máo through down his sword and slowly walked towards Bai Xuesheng. His men swiftly followed his example and Ding Mian found himself with nearly half his force gone. In a moment of desperate insanity the Mount Song elder ran at Bai Xuesheng with his sword raised. When he was less than ten feet away Ding Mian leapt high into to air and swooped down on Bai Xuesheng.

    Without thinking Yilin ran in front of Bai Xuesheng and raised her sword to block Ding Mian's. Her lighter blade snapped when it cam into contact with Ding Mian's sword and Yilin watched in paralysed fear as the glistening metal came down on her. Then she felt a strong hand support her back and a warm glow fill her body. Ding Mian's sword shattered an inch from Yilin's head and he was hurled high into the air, as if he was bouncing of a mountain side.

    Yilin looked over her shoulder to see Bai Xuesheng with his right palm on her back. She was drawn to his emerald eyes which held an emotion she had never seen him express before. Bai Xuesheng looked afraid:

    “Yilin are you alright?”

    Still locked by those beautiful eyes Yilin didn't respond. The concern on Bai Xuesheng's face deepened and he held her by the shoulders gently shaking her:

    “Yilin you're not hurt are you? Please answer me” There was a note of pleading in Bai Xuesheng's voice that shook Yilin out of her trance:

    “I am fine Lord Bai” Yilin whispered. Bai Xuesheng let out a sigh and visible relaxed.

    “What do you want done with this scum my Lord?” asked Tai Jian as he held his sword to Ding Mian's throat.

    “Ding Mian tell your men to surrender and I promise you that you will return to Mount Song alive.” declared Bai Xuesheng.

    Ding Mian knew that he was a man of his word and shouted to his men to surrender which they promptly did. So with not one of his men even bloodying their swords Bai Xuesheng and ended this incursion to his land.

    ####

    Two lines of bound men knelt on the open field, between them was a large trench and behind them stood armed men. Bai Xuesheng entered the field and the kneeling Ding Mian struggled to rise but was pushed back down by the men behind him:

    “Bai Xuesheng you promised to free us.” roared the Mount Song elder.

    “And so you will be. But I would like you to take a message to Lord Zuo for me.”

    Bai Xuesheng followed his words his a wave of his hand. Ding Mian looked in horror as the men kneeling opposite him had their throats cut and their dying bodies dumped into the trench. The dead eyes of Lán Máo and his men stared up at his former ally. Ding Mian knew exactly what message Bai Xuesheng wanted him to deliver.

    ####

    Yilin lead the horse by the reins as it struggled to carry the cart uphill. The young woman had declined the invitation to the victory banquet being thrown by Yan Xi and instead had requisitioned the horse and cart. She had loaded the cart with as much supplies as she could fit into it and was now taking it to the refugees camped outside of Yan Xi's fortress,

    As she crested the hill she heard laughing and music followed by the smell of numerous cooking pots. It seemed that the good cheer had spread to the refugees as well. When the camp site came into view she saw children playing around dozens of camp fires while adults prepared food. She noticed that there were half a dozen carts stationed at the rear of that camp, each one loaded with supplies.

    Seeing the children Yilin thought of little Ming and scanned the area for him. She spotted him with a group of children as they lay in a heap on the ground. The children were laughing as they appeared to be pushing down on something. Suddenly the heap of children collapsed and a tall figure emerged with a loud roar. The figure grabbed Ming by the waist and lifted him into the air.

    For a moment Yilin was afraid that the figure might hurt the boy, but instead the figure drew the child into a warm embrace then started tickling him. Ming laughed uncontrollably as he tried in vain to escape. The children around the figure started clambering towards it shouting for to be pick up as well. As the figure turned Yilin was shocked to see the smiling face of Bai Xuesheng.

    ####

    Yilin felt as light as the breeze as she danced through the bamboo forest, her purple and silver dress sparkling in the broken moonlight. Bai Xuesheng followed her, his eyes riveted on her performance. Yilin lacked the skill of the professional dancers at his Palace but there was a freedom and innocence in her movements that was refreshing to behold. Idly Bai Xuesheng started imagining seeing this performance every day and smiled at the thought.

    Yilin spun around catching his warm smile and returned one of her own:

    “Are you enjoying my performance Lord Bai?”

    “If I say yes would you forgive me for not divulging my plans to you earlier.”

    Yilin's smile waned and when she spoke again it was in a deadly serious voice:

    “Tell me, would you have carried out your threat if they had not surrendered?”

    Bai Xuesheng was silent for a moment as he considered his answer and Yilin caught the look of fear he had shown when Ding Mian had attacked her. Finally after what felt like an eternity he answered:

    “Yilin I value our friendship greatly and do not want to say anything that might jeopardise it. But I don't want to lie to you either, so lets just say that there is very little I wouldn't do for the safety of my people.”

    Now it was Bai Xuesheng's turn to wait nervously for Yilin to answer. As the seconds dragged on his heart started beating rapidly. Had he done the right thing in being so honest with her? Should he had lied? Then his heart warmed as Yilin met his gaze and smiled her sweet smile. She nodded her head in silent acceptance of what he was and acknowledged the honesty he had shown her.

    Bai Xuesheng could not understand why her opinion of him mattered so much but it did and he felt like a great weight had been lifted from his heart at her acceptance.

    ####

    Zuo Lengshan sat on his ivory throne in the audience hall as he listened to Lu Bai and Deng Bagong report their failure in the Mount Hua mission. When they finished Zuo Lengshan mused over their words:

    “How could a lowly Mount Hua apprentice have such extraordinary skills? Could it be the fabled Evil Resisting Sword?”

    The Lord of Mount Song was brought out of his contemplation when one of his apprentices stepped into the Hall. The man stood a respectful distance away to wait for permission to talk. Zuo Lengshan turned to the new arrival:

    “Well what is it?”

    “My Lord, uncle Ding has returned”

    “Well show him in.” commanded Zuo Lengshan.

    As Ding Mian entered the Hall followed by the apprentices that had accompanied him on his mission, Zuo Lengshan's eyes widened in shock as he saw them all clutching the mutilated stumps that had been their right hands. It seems that the Lord of White Tiger Palace had a ruthlessness that rivalled his own.

  2. #42
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silverhawk View Post
    Thanks Mandred
    Hope you enjoy the new chapter

  3. #43
    Senior Member szfong's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update....

  4. #44
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    The luckiest of dead man





    Yingying strummed her qin as if born to the instrument, her delicate fingers gliding over the strings like a robin hopping between branches. The crystal clear notes danced down the hill and floated across the river carrying easily to the ears of the man she was playing for. Although she was too far away to see him she imagined Linghu Chong standing on the prow of the barge listening to her tune and smiling.

    As she played Yingying's mind went back to the day of their first meeting. She had been dosing in her chambers when Lüzhuweng had knocked gently on her door:

    “Yes?” said Yingying

    “I am sorry to disturb you Holy Lady but I have something here that might interest you.”

    At Yingying's command Lüzhuweng entered the room and placed a book at her feet before backing away to a respectful distance. As Yingying started flicking through the pages she recognized the work of her music teacher Qu Yang. No one else save Liu Zhengfeng had the musical genius to compose such a score and Yingying admired their combined work with awe.

    “Where did you get this?”

    “It belongs to a young man waiting outside. Some fools claim that this score is a martial arts manual in disguise and accused the young man of being a thief. Seeing his predicament I agreed to take a look at it.”

    “What's the young man's name?”

    “He is called Linghu Chong.”

    ####

    Outside of the cottage Linghu Chong, Yue Buqun, Ning Zhongze, Yue Lingshan, Lin Pingzhi and the senior members of the Wang family waited. It had been nearly an hour since Lüzhuweng had taken the Xiaoao Jianghu score inside and the Wang family were starting to get a little nervous. Finally Wang Bofen, eldest son of the head of the family spoke:

    “This is ridiculous. I am going inside”

    “Calm down. Remember we are guests here” replied his father Wang Yuanba.

    “But what if the old man has runs of with the manual?” retorted Wang Bofen

    “Impossible, there's only one way out of the cottage, so just be patient.” replied Wang Yuanba

    “Perhaps the heroic Wang family would like to dislocate the old man's arm as well” mocked Linghu Chong.

    “Chong'er watch your manners” scolded Yue Buqun

    Ning Zhongze wanted to speak up for her apprentice but could not openly contradict her husband, so she patted Linghu Chong on the shoulder and examined his right arm that she had realigned earlier. Linghu Chong smiled his thanks to his Shiniang's unspoken support.

    The gentle whistle of the flute glided out of the cottage and filled the tiny garden they were waiting in. All who heard it was struck dumb by the divine music. Each note was as clear as crystal and as fresh as spring water. The tune gradually built up until it became a stream, then a raging river and finally the crushing sea.

    As the flute stopped the qin started. First it was like a gentle summer's breeze, then picked up to become a strong wind before reaching the power of a roaring storm. As the last powerful notes were played Ning Zhongze spoke:

    “Who would believe that such music could exist within the mortal world”

    “This is nothing Shiniang, you should hear both flute and qin being played together. It feels like being in the Ninth Heaven.”

    Lüzhuweng emerged from the cottage carrying the score which he returned to Linghu Chong:

    “I believe you all heard my aunty's performance. Anyone doubt the authenticity of the score now” he directed the words to the Wang family.

    “Nephew Linghu. I am very sorry for the misunderstanding. Let me invite you and your school to dinner tonight as an apology” spoke Wang Yuanba.

    “Elder Wang is too kind. It was just a little misunderstanding” replied Yue Buqun.

    Linghu Chong bit back an angry retort at Wang Yuanba's offer. His Shifu had accepted the apology and it would be unseemly for him to say anything. As people started leaving the garden Linghu Chong asked his Shiniang permission to stay and properly thank Lüzhuweng. With a final warning to be careful of his injured arm Ning Zhongze also left.

    ####

    Yingying remembered seeing Linghu Chong for the first time as she spied him through a gap in the curtain. The silly man had greeted her as Granny and it was all she could do to not burst out laughing. He was handsome in a raggedy sort of way and seemed quite respectful. However she detected a weakness in his voice and steps that should not have been there in a young man.

    After the necessary greetings she asked to take Linghu Chong's pulse and he obligingly placed his arm through the curtain. Yingying was shocked to discover the extent of his injuries. The fact that he was still alive as a minor miracle. To her surprise Linghu Chong seemed completely unconcerned with his dire situation. She did not know whether he was brave or foolhardy but he had gained her interest. Linghu Chong stepped back to a respectful distance from the curtain and held the Xiaoao Jianghu score in front of himself:

    “Granny I ask that you take this score, so that I can fulfil my promise”

    “Oh and what promise it that” replied Yingying as she took on the voice of an elderly woman.

    As Linghu Chong explained the circumstances of his gaining the score Yingying found herself becoming more and more intrigued by him. She didn't think there could be anyone as silly as he was. Why would he risk his life so many times for people he hardly knew? Still she was curious to know more about him so offered to teach him certain tunes on the qin that would help sooth the Qi streams in his body.

    Thus began the ten days they spent together. Throughout that time Yingying took care to remain behind the curtain and to take on her fake voice whenever they spoke. She taught him at a deliberately slow pace so that they could spend more time together. During their lessons Linghu Chong would talk and Yingying discovered just how silly he was. She learnt of his heartbreak over Yue Lingshan, his frustration at being misunderstood by Yue Buqun and his loneliness at loosing Dongfang Bai.

    From Linghu Chong's description, Yingying had easily deduced that Dongfang Bai was Dongfang Bubai. She had long known that Dongfang Bubai was a woman, for a woman might be able to fool a man in regards to her gender but is unlike to fool another woman. At first Yingying suspected that Linghu Chong might be a spy from the aunty, but as she continued talking to him he seemed genuinely ignorant of his friend's true identity.

    Yingying concluded that he was either the greatest liar in the world or that he was telling the truth. As the days passed she found herself waiting anxiously for his coming and dreading his departure. Having grown up at Black-wood Cliff, Yingying had never met someone as pure a Linghu Chong. His purity attracted her like fire does to a moth. She yearned to be part of his innocent and free world, for it seems to bring a joy she had never known before.

    So when he announced his departure from the region Yingying greeted the news with genuine sadness. She had sent Lüzhuweng to see him of and present him with a gift of a qin along with a music score. Now she gave him a final heartfelt parting gift. As the final notes left the qin Yingying decided that he must live.

    ####

    Yilin dodged the sword aimed at her heart and threw the helm of her dress at her opponent's face. Instinctively her opponent swayed to the right to avoid the dress that came from the left and as she did so Yilin slashed downwards with her own sword. The blade came to rest on her opponent's neck and the supervising nun called a halt to the spar:

    “Well done Yilin. I must say your skills have improved greatly since your return.” said her sparring partner who was a junior nun of North Mount Heng.

    Yilin saluted her partner and smiled. Ever since Bai Xuesheng had returned her to her school she had been practising her swordsmanship diligently. He had created this new style for her which combined the quick blade work of her school with flamboyant gestures of her dress. The idea was to use the latter to distract or force the enemy to move in a direction which would allow her to strike at them with her blade.

    Yilin's natural grace made her ideally suited to learn this style and they had spent every day of their journey back to North Mount Heng refining it. Now she practised the style as a way of remembering their time together. However she had another reason for practising so hard, for deep down in her heart she hoped that she would see Bai Xuesheng again and wanted to impress him with her skill.

    A nun came into the training ground and informed Yilin that her sister was waiting for her in the guest hall. Passing her practice sword to the nun Yilin ran as fast as she could. As soon as she saw her sister Yilin flew into her arms:

    “Jiě jiě, I've missed you”

    “Me too. I shouldn't have let you run of like that”

    “It wasn't your fault. I was being childish”

    “You are alright aren't you. Bai Xuesheng didn't do anything to you.”

    So they talked and Yilin recounted her adventure with the Lord of White Tiger Palace. Dongfang Bai was surprised on hearing how her friend had been the perfect gentleman. As Yilin spoke Dongfang Bai detected a hint of admiration in her description of Bai Xuesheng and noted the wistfulness that would enter her sister's eyes as she recalled pleasant memories.

    Too soon the bell for afternoon prayers rang and Dongfang Bai began to leave. As she rose Yilin called to her:

    “Jiě jiě, can I ask you something?”

    “Of course”

    With her eyes rooted to the ground and her pretty cheeks burning Yilin spoke:

    “What's Bai Xuesheng's favourite food?”

    Dongfang Bubai smiled. “How fickle a young woman's heart”, she thought to herself.

    ####

    Bai Xuesheng slammed his teacup onto the table:

    “Who was sent to Mount Hua?!”

    “The...six...peach immortals my Lord” stammered the messenger as he cowered before his Lord's anger.

    “I wouldn't trust those freaks to deliver night-soil let alone a person.”

    Bai Xuesheng took a deep calming breath. It was not his people's fault, it was his fault for not making his orders clear. There was no point in dwelling on the past, all he could do was remedy the situation. Quickly he called for the four academic treasures. Sealing up an envelope he handed it to the messenger:

    “Have this letter delivered in the fastest way possible. Also tell the six immortals to go and accompany Linghu Chong. They are to serve him as if he was me. I will be joining them soon and if anything happens to Linghu Chong before my arrival then they will answer to me.”

    The messenger accepted the letter with a bow, then backed out of his Lord's presence. Bai Xuesheng let out a sigh. He didn't know Linghu Chong, but knew that his death would make Yilin sad and that was something he would do anything to avoid. Having delivered her to North Mount Heng, Bai Xuesheng had felt a strangely lonely and listless, so had decided to return to White Tiger Palace.

    When he had arrived the messenger had informed him of what had transpired at Mount Hua. With his orders made Bai Xuesheng made his way to the library.

    ####

    Ping Yizhi placed his index finger on Lao Busi's wrist. The doctor stoked his beard for a few moments as he diagnosed the condition of the sickly young woman. Then picking up brush and paper he wrote a prescription and handed it to the portly figure standing nervously behind Lao Busi:

    “Have your daughter take this medicine. If you are careful with her health then she should recover in six months.”

    Lao Touzi bowed his thanks and helped his daughter up. As they left Ping Yizhi hurried to his room and started packing his things. Last night he had received a summons by Lord Dongfang Bubai to go treat a man called Linghu Chong. The messenger had furnished him with the location of his patient. Surprisingly this morning he had received a summons from the Holy Lady, also commanding that he treat Linghu Chong.

    As he was finishing his packing someone called for him. Stepping outside he received a messenger who presented him with a letter. The doctor opened it and found a summons form Lord Bai Xuesheng. Again the summons was for him to treat Linghu Chong. Ping Yizhi could not believe his eyes. Just who is this Linghu Chong? How come the only three people in the world who could command him have ordered him to treat this man?

    Dismissing the messenger the Killer Physician went back to his packing with renewed haste.

    ####

    Linghu Chong sat on the prow of the barge trying to ignore the stares that he knew his fellow Mount Hua apprentices were casting behind his back. He could not believe that his relationship with his fellow apprentices had reached such a state. People whom he had considered family now treated him as if he had some kind disease. They were polite and respectful in his presence, but he had caught more than a few whispers about him stealing the Evil Resisting sword or how he wished to usurp the leadership of the school.

    Linghu Chong wanted to shout his innocence and ached to reveal the source of his new found skills, but he could not. How could he betray the trust his Granduncle had placed in him. So he endured their quiet whispers, their fearful looks and the smouldering resentment of Yue Buqun.

    The only time Linghu Chong found solace was when he was practising the qin, for it was during these moments that he would remember the times he had spent with Dongfang Bai. The memory of her beautiful face softened the accusing stares of his fellow apprentices, her wonderful voice quieted their slanderous whispers and her warmth protected him from Yue Buqun's hate.

    “Friends on the barge! Are you of the Mount Hua school” came a voice from the river.

    All the Mount Hua apprentices along with Yue Buqun and Ning Zhongze came onto the deck of the barge and looked in the direction the voice came from. They saw anman in his 60s coming towards them on a rowing boat accompanied by six other men. The man in his 60s had a medicine chest hanging from his shoulder indicating his occupation:

    “Yes we are. I am Yue Buqun. May I enquiry to the physician's name?”

    Without replying the doctor and his six companions leapt into the air and landed lightly on the deck. The Mount Hua apprentices reached for their swords but the doctor raised his hands:

    “I mean you no harm. May I enquiry if Linghu Chong is on board.”

    “I am Linghu Chong. May I know elders name?”

    The doctor greeted Linghu Chong with a bow that a servant would give to his master before replying:

    “Young sir, your humble servant is Ping Yizhi and these men are the Six Immortals of the Peach Valley. We are at young sir's service”

    “Killer Physician Ping Yizhi?” whispered Yue Buqun.

    Ping Yizhi continued to ignore the Head of Mount Hua and addressed Linghu Chong:

    “If young sir would take a seat, your humble servant would like to take your pulse.”

    “Chong'er don't. This man is famous for being able to bring back the dead. However his payment is that whoever he saves must then kill another person for him” said Ning Zhongze.

    Linghu Chong looked at Ping Yizhi in shock, but the physician shook his head:

    “Your humble servant would never dare to ask any payment from young sir. It is an honour just to be of service to you.”

    “But elder....” began Linghu Chong

    “Please young sir, do not address me in such a way. I am not worthy to be called your elder”

    “Physician Ping, please tell me why you are offering to treat me unconditionally”

    “Your humble servant has been commanded to do so”

    “By whom?”

    “I do dare not mention their August names, but rest assured they are noble people.”

    Linghu Chong could tell that Ping Yizhi would not tell him the person or persons who had commanded him to come here, but seeing no harm in the physician's offer he sat down and let him take his pulse.

    After several minutes Ping Yizhi turned to the six immortals and rounded on them:

    “You fools, how could you channel Qi into the young sir's body like that? Were you trying you kill him?”

    “Please Physician Ping, I am sure they meant no harm” said Linghu Chong.

    Ping Yizhi gave the immortals one more glare before turning back to Linghu Chong:

    “Young sir, your condition is not internal injury but an excess of Qi energy. Your body is unable to contain so much power and so is being damaged by them. Luckily someone has temporally suppressed them for you, otherwise you would have died long ago. Never in all my years have I seen these conditions. I need time to research a cure.”

    Reaching into his sleeves Ping Yizhi produced a bottle:

    “Please take one of these pills everyday and I guarantee that you live for another 100 days. I will use this time to think of a cure for you.”

    “Physician Ping, I am not worth all your efforts”

    “Young sir should not say so. Your humble servant is honoured to be of service.”

    Ping Yizhi turned back to the six immortals:

    “You freaks have your orders. Now make sure you keep me informed of where you and the young sir is. If anything happens to him you know the consequences.”

    With a final bow to Linghu Chong the doctor leapt of the barge and onto his boat. With the doctor gone the six immortals knelt in front of Linghu Chong:

    “Young sir, we are at your service” said the oldest of the men.

    “Why are you obeying Physician Ping?” asked Linghu Chong

    “We are not obeying the old man, we are obeying our Lord.” replied the same man.

    “And who is you Lord?”

    “Our Lord commands and we obey” the six immortals said in unison.

    After several minutes of trying unsuccessfully to coax their Lord's name form the immortals Linghu Chong gave up and ordered them it sit quietly on the deck. Turning to his Shifu and Shiniang, Linghu Chong received a concerned look from the latter and an angry glare form the former.

    ####

    It had been an eventful few days. The visit by Ping Yizhi seemed to have opened the floodgates to other well wishers for Linghu Chong. Everyday people would arrive bearing priceless gifts including rare medicines, vintage wines, the highest quality silks and gems. It got to the point that Linghu Chong had to hire another barge to contain all his gifts.

    Strangely whenever one of these guests arrived they would stare at Linghu Chong as if he was a thorough bred stallion and mutter things like “no wonder” or “he's certainly impressive”. All this attention made Linghu Chong very uncomfortable and he desperately wanted to know who it was that these people were trying to gain favour with. But when ever he asked them they would say that they were unworthy to mention that person or persons and beat a hasty retreat.

    Linghu Chong's curiosity was partially satisfied when one day he received a very special guest. The barges had docked in a quiet harbour and the Mount Hua apprentices were relaxing on the deck as Yue Buqun and Ning Zhongze went ashore to purchase supplies. Linghu Chong and the six immortals were at the prow of the barge sampling the wines he had been given when he spotted a small boat coming towards them.

    As the boat came nearer two figures could be made out. One was the boatman at the oar and the other was someone in a black and silver robe sitting on the boat. As the boat neared the barge the passenger leapt of the boat and onto the barge. The six immortals fell to their knees and in unison greeted the man as “My Lord”.

    Linghu Chong stared at the man for a moment. He was sure he had met him before but could not quite remember where. Then the man turned his emerald eyes to him and Linghu Chong instantly recognized him as the killer of Fei Bin:

    “Linghu Chong pays his respect to Lord...” Linghu Chong said the words with a salute but then trailed of as he realized he didn't know the man's name.

    “Bai Xuesheng” answered the man with an amused smile.

    The other Mount Hua apprentices had gathered around the pair eager to get a glimpse of the new arrival. Yue Lingshan and Lin Pingzhi made their way to the front of the crowd and stared at the stranger. Bai Xuesheng noticed Yue Lingshan staring at him and turned to give her one of his dazzling smiles. His eyes travelled along her body and twinkled with interest:

    Well this is a pleasant surprise”. Bai Xuesheng said the words without thinking, as was his habit when he saw an attractive woman.

    Yue Lingshan blushed with a mixture of outrage, embarrassment and excitement. Lin Pingzhi stepped in front of her:

    How dare you speak in such a way you scoundrel”. Blustered Lin Pingzhi.

    So the lady has a little guard dog with a loud bark” replied Bai Xuesheng. His own anger had got the better of him, for he was not used to be spoken to in this way.

    Lin Pingzhi drew his sword and lunged for Bai Xuesheng. Bai Xuesheng sidestepped to the left and took Lin Pingzhi's sword from him as if he was a child. Bai Xuesheng's movement was so fast that Lin Pingzhi hadn't realized that he'd been disarmed until his own blade rested against his throat.
    Yue Lingshan drew her sword and attacked. Bai Xuesheng pushed Lin Pingzhi aside and parried the lunge. Acting on instincts Bai Xuesheng had channelled a little too much Qi into the move and Yue Lingshan was sent sprawling on the deck. Linghu Chong came to her rescue. Bai Xuesheng felt the displacement of air to his side and turned to face the new threat.

    Seeing Linghu Chong he immediately retracted his Qi and stopped the downward slash of his opponent with the borrowed blade. No sooner had the first blow been neutralised then came another and another, until over a hundred blows had been launched. Bai Xuesheng parried every attack expertly but took care not to over extend his moves and so leave himself open.

    It had been a long time since Bai Xuesheng had met someone so skilled with the sword and he gave into his competitive urges. He went on the offensive with a series of quick slashes designed to test his opponent's defences. To his surprise Linghu Chong defended by attacking and never took a step back. A lesser opponent would have been cowed by this kind of reckless fighting but not Bai Xuesheng.

    The two men met head on and the blades flashed like lightning. Standing around them the Mount Hua apprentices stared in awe at the contest. It was as if a storm of steel had enveloped the combatants and they were amazed that human beings could survive in such conditions. Both men stood stock still as their blades danced around each other. The distance between them was only a couple of feet. At such close range the fight became a contest of instincts and reflexes with no time for conscious thought.

    Finally after several minutes Linghu Chong backed away, his injured body unable to maintain the demanding pace. As he fell to his knees he felt a strong hand on his chest. Looking up he saw Bai Xuesheng, now unarmed, with his right palm on his chest. A warm glow started spreading through Linghu Chong's body and he felt the raging Qi streams inside his body settling down.

    As Bai Xuesheng strove to soothe the rouge energies in Linghu Chong, Yue Buqun and Ning Zhongze returned. Thinking that Bai Xuesheng was attacking Linghu Chong, Yue Buqun hurled his right palm at Bai Xuesheng. Bai Xuesheng met the attack with his own left palm while keeping his right palm on Linghu Chong. Yue Buqun felt like he was hitting the side of a mountain and had to activate his Violet Mist Divine Skill to stop himself from being thrown into the air.

    A purpled mist surrounded Yue Buqun's right palm and he strained against Bai Xuesheng. Soon Yue Buqun was sweating profusely and becoming short of breath while Bai Xuesheng showed no sign of tiring. Finally Bai Xuesheng made a sharp push with his left hand sending Yue Buqun crashing into the side of the barge. He hit with so much force that the entire vessel rocked to one-side making everyone lose their balance.

    Bai Xuesheng caught Linghu Chong as he fell and whispered into his ear:

    “I hope you get better. Its been a while since I've had such a good fight.”

    As the barge settled down Bai Xuesheng spoke:

    “Everyone, I have no ill intentions. It was my men who accidentally injured Linghu Chong and I had come to remedy the situation. Unfortunately this task seems to be beyond my talents. So I will take my leave.”

    Making his way of the barge Bai Xuesheng turned to the six immortals:

    “You freaks are to continue serving Linghu Chong.”

    “By your command Lord” replied all six of them at once.

    Stepping back into his boat Bai Xuesheng commanded the boatman to take him away. Bai Xuesheng stared into the open sea. He had added his power to Dongfang Bai's seals and further suppressed the Qi streams, but he had the same dilemma as his friend. If he tried to destroy the streams he would kill Linghu Chong.

    Bai Xuesheng tried telling himself he had done all he could, but the image of Yilin's face came to his mind and he knew he couldn’t let the matter rest.
    Last edited by Mandred Skavenslayer; 12-15-14 at 12:55 PM.

  5. #45
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by szfong View Post
    Thanks for the update....

    Thanks for poping by

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    Interesting chapter. I like the changes you've made. Looks like either dfbb and ryy will both be with lhc or ryy will die tragically. Though given the animosity between the two. I think it's the latter unless you have come up with a realistic way to bury the hatred between the two.

    I did think though that lpz attacked too hastily. I really didn't understand his reasoning doing so. Even if he were jealous, was that enough reason to attack a perfect stranger without said stranger doing anything other then smiling? So I thought that part was a little iffy iffy.
    Last edited by optimus610; 12-14-14 at 07:55 PM.
    If anyone is interested in some of my other work. You can check them out here https://www.fanfiction.net/u/106973/

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    Senior Member szfong's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update!

  8. #48
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by optimus610 View Post
    Interesting chapter. I like the changes you've made. Looks like either dfbb and ryy will both be with lhc or ryy will die tragically. Though given the animosity between the two. I think it's the latter unless you have come up with a realistic way to bury the hatred between the two.

    I did think though that lpz attacked too hastily. I really didn't understand his reasoning doing so. Even if he were jealous, was that enough reason to attack a perfect stranger without said stranger doing anything other then smiling? So I thought that part was a little iffy iffy.

    Hi optimus, been thinking about you advice and you're right

    I've expanded the scene a bit. My only excuse is that I wanted to get to the part where LHC and BXS would spar.

    I have already resolved the love triangle between DFBB, LHC and RYY in my mind. I believe it will be satisfactory to everyone.

    Hope to be reading your next chapter soon.

  9. #49
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by szfong View Post
    Thanks for the update!
    Thanks for reading

  10. #50
    Member optimus610's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandred Skavenslayer View Post
    Hi optimus, been thinking about you advice and you're right

    I've expanded the scene a bit. My only excuse is that I wanted to get to the part where LHC and BXS would spar.

    I have already resolved the love triangle between DFBB, LHC and RYY in my mind. I believe it will be satisfactory to everyone.

    Hope to be reading your next chapter soon.
    Okay, the changes make the scene a lot better now.

    As for my story, hopefully this week. Had to fight through a case of laziness aka playing video games But I should be good now.
    Last edited by optimus610; 12-15-14 at 02:43 PM.
    If anyone is interested in some of my other work. You can check them out here https://www.fanfiction.net/u/106973/

  11. #51
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    The Cure




    Linghu Chong woke to find Five Hegemony Hill deserted. He shook his head trying to clear the drunken fog from his mind. Slowly he remembered the events that had lead to him being in this place. Three days ago a letter had arrived from Ping Yizhi asking him to meet that physician at Five Hegemony Hill.

    Hoping that he could discover more about his mysterious benefactor Linghu Chong had set for the place along with the Six Immortals, Yue Buqun and Ning Zhongze. Although he had met Bai Xuesheng, Linghu Chong was curious to know more about the man and why he had gone to so much effort to help him.

    Ning Zhongze had told him about Bai Xuesheng's background as the Lord of White Tiger Palace, but that only made Linghu Chong even more curious about the man's motives. Although the Bai family were a chivalrous family, they had never had any dealings with Mount Hua and so had no reason to devote so much effort into helping one of the school's apprentice.

    On arriving at Five Hegemony Hill Linghu Chong found a small tent city had been erected on the hill. In front of every tent was at least one camp fire where people gathered. The smell of roasting meat and wine filled the air making Linghu Chong's mouth water. As he got nearly he heard laughter and music. Dancers and jugglers could be spotted performing around the tents to the cheers of their audiences.

    Someone spotted Linghu Chong and shouted his name. The call soon echoed around the entire Hill and everyone started gathering around the new arrivals. The Six Immortals formed a loose circle around Linghu Chong to screen him from the crowd. A rocket flew into the air and exploded in a plume on blue smoke. The crowd parted and a lone woman stepped forward. She was about the same age as Linghu Chong and quite pretty. She wore the colourful clothes of the Miu people and exotic golden bells hung of her clothes.

    On seeing Linghu Chong the woman courtesied:

    “Young Sir, welcome to Five Hegemony Hill. I am Lan Fenghuang at your service.”

    “Lan Fenghuang, Head of the Five Immortals Sect!” said Yue Buqun

    “Master Yue is quite knowledgeable” replied Lan Fenghuang.

    “Chong'er lets go”

    “But why Shifu?”

    “None of these people are from righteous schools. I will not allow you to associate with them.”

    “But Shifu I don't think they have any ill intentions.. Besides I really want to know the reason why they have gone to all this effort to help me. I promise I will return to the barge as soon as I have found out what all this is about.” With these words Linghu Chong turned around and entered the tent city.

    After that things got a little hazy and when he had regained his senses he was alone on the Hill with a pounding hangover. Then he heard a familiar voice singing and headed in the direction it was coming from:

    “The world says I am mad,
    but I merely laugh.
    People whisper that I am silly,
    yet I hear only the joy in my heart.
    Heaven mocks my actions,
    but I will not waiver.

    Be me insane, foolish or wrong I care not.
    So long as you are with me I need nothing else.”


    The song spoke to Linghu Chong's heart and he felt the loneliness that he shared with the singer. Soon the woman of his dreams appeared. She was sitting by a small fire and stoking it with a stick. Sensing his presence she turned to him and Linghu Chong froze. He had dreamed about this moment since the day they had parted, but now that it was here he was afraid to take it.

    He was afraid that if he stepped forward the dream would end and he would be alone again. Seeing his indecision Dongfang Bai rose and walked up to him:

    “Are you always this silly, or do you just do it for me?”

    Her words snapped him out of his daze and he knew this was not a dream. Linghu Chong fought the urge to take Dongfang Bai in a fierce embrace and make her promise never to leave him again. Instead he smiled and allowed her to lead him to the fire. As he sat down he noticed a small wooden grave-marker with the words “Killer Physician Ping Yizhi” written on it.

    He turned in shock to Dongfang Bai:

    “How did this happen?”

    “He failed to find you a cure so invited you here so that he could atone for his failure with his life. Finding you drunk he killed himself on this spot rather than face you.”

    “Why did he have to do this. I am not worth it.”

    “It was his choice. If you want his death to not be in vain then live on and live well”

    Now Linghu Chong understood why everyone was gone. With Ping Yizhi's failure to find a cure they all feared to be around when Bai Xuesheng showed up. As he looked at Dongfang Bai he asked the question he had been dreading:

    “You must be very dear to Bai Xuesheng for him to do all this you?”

    He had suspected for sometime that Bai Xuesheng and some connection to Dongfang Bai, for she was his only friend he could think of that might be able to influence someone of his standing. Dongfang Bai heard the note of jealousy in Linghu Chong's words and couldn't resists teasing him a little:

    “He has been my best friend for nearly a decade”

    Linghu Chong's heart sank. How could he possibly compete with Bai Xuesheng? The man had position, wealth, power and looks. Even if he wasn't a dying man there was no way Dongfang Bai would choose him over the Lord of White Tiger Palace. Then he heard her giggle and turned to she Dongfang Bai covering her mouth in a vain attempt to hide her laugh. For a moment he looked at her in confusion then she spoke:

    “You really are silly. We are friends and nothing more.”

    A hope filled smile spread across Linghu Chong's face, but just as he was about to speak Dongfang Bai turned sharply around and stared into the night. Three figures emerged out of the darkness and made their way towards the fire. As they drew nearer Linghu Chong could make out the central figures as a Buddhist monk and he was flanked by two laymen who were holding swords.

    Rising to his feet Linghu Chong stepped forwards and saluted the new arrivals:

    “Linghu Chong of Mount Hua pays his respects to the Holy One.”

    “Old Monk Fangsheng of Shaolin thanks young sir for his welcome.”

    The man to the left of Fangsheng peered over Linghu Chong's shoulder to look at Dongfang Bai who still sat by the fire. The man turned to Linghu Chong:

    “Is she also from Mount Hua?”

    “She is my friend”

    “That's not what I asked and you know it. We came to investigate the rumour that members of the Evil Cult are meeting here. Your evasiveness suggest that this woman is one of the cultists.”

    “And what if I am?” replied Dongfang Bai. She had spoken the words in a bored tone as if she had long dismissed them as a threat.

    “Then you die!” said the man as he drew his sword and lunged for her.

    Linghu Chong had read the move even as the man drew his blade. Taking a step back he made an 180 degrees spin which brought him into the man's attack but away from the blade. He elbowed the man in the face then grabbed his wrist and twisted savagely causing him to drop his sword.

    Sweeping up the fallen blade Linghu Chong parried a lunge from the other swordsman and returned a slash that left a bloody trail across the man's cheek. The man that Linghu Chong had disarmed picked up a sabre lying on the ground and leapt at Linghu Chong, the sabre coming down to split his skull. Linghu Chong sidestepped to the right at slammed the flat of his sword into the man's temple.

    “Everyone stop!” shouted Fangsheng. He could tell that Linghu Chong could have killed his apprentices with ease and knew that the young man was holding back.

    Linghu Chong backed away and started panting, his damaged constitution already catching up with him. Seeing his distress the two laymen attacked him together, ignoring Fangsheng's shouts for them to stop. Something flashed passed Linghu Chong's head and his attackers froze. Looking closer Linghu Chong saw two smoking twigs sticking out of the men's throats.

    Dongfang Bai flew at Fangsheng and the monk backed away parrying the barrage of blows that she rained down on him. Never before had Fangsheng met an opponent like this. Her attacks were so swift they seemed to come from every direction at once and it was all he could do to stay alive. Whenever he managed to meet her hand he was stunned by the strength in them and knew that even one hit would end his life.

    Fangsheng had only retreated five steps when he found Dongfang Bai's index finger pressing against his jugular:

    “Lady Dongfang, please don't hurt the Holy One!” shouted Linghu Chong.

    Dongfang Bai brought her face close to Fangsheng's:

    “Go back to your monastery and give thanks to your deity that Linghu Chong was here. Otherwise you would be meeting Buddha right now” the menace in her voice left no doubt of the truth in her words.

    Fangsheng backed away them bowed to Linghu Chong:

    “Young sir I thank you for your mercy. From your breathing I can tell that you are injured. This humble monk knows a little of the healing arts. If you want I can have a look at your injuries?”

    Linghu Chong walked up to Fangsheng and offered his wrist while Dongfang Bai hovered close by. Fangsheng took Linghu Chong's pulse then shook his head:

    “Your injuries are beyond my meagre talents to cure. However young sir's restraint when fighting my apprentices and mercy towards me shows that you are a good man. If you would return to Shaolin Monastery with me I will beg Abbot Fangzheng to pass on the Yijin Jing to you.”

    “I appreciate Holy One's offer but must decline. If I survive I promise to pay a visit to Shaolin Monastery to show my respects to you and the honourable abbot.”

    As Fangsheng left Dongfang Bai walked up to Linghu Chong:

    “Why didn't you take the monk up on his offer?”

    “You bored with my company already Lady Dongfang?”

    Linghu Chong was delighted at the smile he saw on her lips, but then the world started spinning and he fell into darkness.

    ####

    Dongfang Bai handled the reins as she guided the carriage through the small village. She peered behind her and looked at the sleeping form of Linghu Chong. She still remembered the moment when he had lost consciousness and the blind panic that had nearly overwhelmed her. Thankfully he had only passed out due to over exhaustion and was in no immediate danger.

    “Did you hear what happened to Old Wang?” said a peasant as he walked pass the carriage with his friend.

    “Yes, its such a shame. Those wolves at Black-wind mountain are really vicious.” replied the other peasant.

    “Old Wang was trying to get their gallbladder to treat his son's internal injuries. Heaven knows what's going to happen to the poor boy now.”

    The final words caught Dongfang Bai's attention. She knew that wolves' gallbladder was unlikely to be able to help Linghu Chong, but with the death of Ping Yizhi she had few options left.

    ####

    “Any word on the whereabouts of Linghu Chong?” asked the eldest of the six immortals as the last of his brothers stepped into the clearing.

    “He was last seen near Black-wind mountain in the company of the young lady.” replied one of the brothers.

    When Ping Yizhi had committed suicide everyone had fled Five Hegemony Hill in fear of Ren Yingying's wrath, for word had got out that the Holy Lady had taken an interest in Linghu Chong. Now that there was no cure for the young man, none of them wanted to be around when Ren Yingying found out.

    The six immortals had stayed with their charge until Dongfang Bai had arrived. When she had discovered what had happened she commanded the immortals to bury Ping Yizhi and then to depart. Remembering their original instructions from Bai Xuesheng to obey her they had left without question.

    However one of them had stayed in the area to keep an eye on the pair, just in case their Lord asked about them.

    The eldest of the six nodded his head:

    “He should be safe with her. Lets go to White Tiger Palace and inform the Lord of what has happened.”

    The other immortals agreed and they left the clearing.


    Yue Buqun and Ning Zhongze emerged from the trees and stepped into the clearing that the six immortals had just vacated. The couple had watched the people depart from Five Hegemony Hill and had heard them muttering about how displeased the Holy Lady was going to be. They had waited until the six immortals had left, then fearing that they had missed Linghu Chong in the crowd, the coupled had followed the immortals:

    “Husband so Chong'er is with the Holy Lady of the Evil Cult.” said Ning Zhongze

    “That brat. How could he keep company with such a person”

    Worry filled Ning Zhongze's heart at her husband's words. She just hoped that he would not punish Linghu Chong to harshly.

    ####;

    Linghu Chong woke to see the ceiling of a cave. Looking around he saw Dongfang Bai sitting besides a fire and tending to a cooking pot. As Linghu Chong began to get up he noticed that he was being covered by some wolves pelts. Dongfang Bai heard him move and went to help him into a sitting position:

    “How are you feeling?” the concern in her voice brought a smile to his lips.

    “Much better. Where are we?”

    “Don't worry about that for now. You must be hungry, I'll get you some soup.”

    Quickly she ladled some of the contents of the pot into a wooden bowl and handed it to him. As he reached for the bowl Linghu Chong noticed blood on her sleeve. Quickly he drew her sleeve up and saw shallow bite marks on her arm:

    “What happened?”

    “Its nothing. Come, have some soup.”

    “Not until you tell me what happened”

    Dongfang Bai let out a sigh: “I was careless that's all. Its not serious.”

    “Did you get hurt getting ingredients for this soup.”

    Seeing no way of avoiding the question she decided to answer truthfully:

    “I heard that the wolves gallbladder could help treat internal injuries.”

    Linghu Chong looked into those large eyes and felt like he was losing his soul in them. He hardly noticed as she helped him drink the soup. When finished he reached for her hand, the last of his inhibitions melting away. Dongfang Bai pulled her hand away as if stung and stepped back from him. Linghu Chong dropped his eyes in disappointment. When he looked up again his eyes were wet with suppressed tears:

    “I am sorry for my vulgar behaviour. Its just that you are the only person in the world that has ever treated my so well and I had hoped that you shared the feelings I hold in my heart for you.”

    Dongfang Bai clutched the helm of her dress so tightly that her knuckles turned white. She wanted to throw herself into his arms. She wanted to shout her love for him so that the entire world could hear. But she was afraid, afraid to give away her heart in case it got broken. She had spent her adult life encasing her heart in an impregnable armour. Now she yearned to take that armour off, but was too scared to do so.

    Receiving no reply Linghu Chong got up and headed for the cave-mouth. A new fear seized Dongfang Bai's heart. The fear of losing Linghu Chong. This new fear drove away her inhibitions and she raced towards the man she loved. Throwing her arms around his waist she pressed herself to his back:

    “Why must you be like this? Why must you make me face what I fear most in the world? Whenever I think of you I feel like I am losing myself within you. Whenever I see your face, I can think of nothing else except to hold you in my arms and never let go. These feelings scare me. There I said it, I am scared, you happy now.”

    The tears he had been suppressing flowed from his eyes. Joy and relief filled his heart. He turned to face the woman whom his heart now belonged to and saw tears streaming down her lovely face. Raising his right hand he gently wiped them away:

    “Please Lady Dongfang. If you will have me, I promise that I will do everything in my power to make sure that you never cry for me again.”

    Dongfang Bai took his hand in both of hers:

    “I think you should call me Xiao Bai....” she placed his hand on her chest: “Chong ge.”

    Linghu Chong felt his own heart beating in time with hers and leaned forward to lose himself in their love.

    ####

    The morning light woke him and gently Linghu Chong opened his eyes. He was naked save for the wolves pelts that had acted as their blanket. He saw Dongfang Bai's naked back as she stood silhouetted in the cave-mouth. Rising he went to her and wrapped his arms around her waist. Dongfang Bai felt his breath on the back of her neck and closed her eyes to savour the sensation. Her voice no more than a whisper she spoke:

    “If you want to we can forget what happened last night.”

    He turned her to face him and taking her right hand in both of his placed it on his chest:

    “Can you feel that? That's me remembering you. So long as my heart beats you will always be in there.”

    Her arms entangled around his neck she drew him in for a long passionate kiss.

    ####

    Walking hand in hand with Dongfang Bai, Linghu Chong turned to look at the woman he loved. He stared at her intensely, determined to remember everyone of her perfect features. Dongfang Bai turned to face him:

    “Something on my face?”

    “Only this” Linghu Chong kissed her lightly on the cheek, eliciting a delightful smile from her.

    “Chong'er get away from her!”

    Turning sharply the couple saw Yue Buqun and Ning Zhongze coming towards them. Still holding Dongfang Bai's hand Linghu Chong spoke:

    “Shifu, Shiniang what are you doing here?”

    “Chong'er get away from her. That witch is the Holy Lady of the Evil Cult.” declared Yue Buqun.

    “Don't call her that!” shouted Linghu Chong.

    Stunned silence met his words as everyone was shocked by the aggression in them. But none more so than Linghu Chong himself. Never in all his life had he dared answer back to his Shifu, let along shout at him. But the moment Yue Buqun had insulted Dongfang Bai, Linghu Chong had felt an emotion he never thought he could feel towards his Shifu. At that moment he hated him.

    Recovering himself Yue Buqun spoke back:

    “You ungrateful brat. Who raised you, who educated you and taught you Martial Arts? How dare you speak to me like that.”

    “Yes I owe you my life and if you wish to take it I will not utter a single word of objection. But no one can insult my woman while a draw breath.”

    Dongfang Bai stared up at Linghu Chong her heart melting at his words. She wondered if he had any idea how good those words sounded to her ears.

    “I can remedy that situation for you” spat Yue Buqun as he made to draw his sword.

    “Yue Buqun! I would think thrice before acting if I was you.” declared Dongfang Bai in a voice so menacing that it chilled the soul.

    Knowing that he could not hope to defeat Dongfang Bai, Yue Buqun slowly drew his sword and snapped it in half:

    “Linghu Chong, from today onwards our Shifu and apprentice relationship is like this sword. If ever we meet again it will be as enemies.”

    With these words Yue Buqun turned away and left. Ning Zhongze gave the apprentice whom she had loved like a son one last tear filled look before turning around and joining her husband.

  12. #52
    Senior Member szfong's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update!

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    Thanks Mandred. After reading so many versions my hands are itching so start one but dfbb won't be with lhc or ylt

  14. #54
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Caging the Eastern Dawn, and releasing the Old Devil




    Fangzheng sat cross legged on the prayer mat and started the mental exercises to calm his mind. He had practised the exercises for well over five decades and it wasn't long before he reached the early stages of detachment, where his body slowed to an almost dream like state. However the Abbot could go no further for his mind was anchored to this plane by his compassion for the Martial Arts world and his worries of where that world was headed.

    He could here shouting from outside and one of his apprentices knocked rapidly on the door to his room. On receiving the abbot's permission to enter the young monk hurriedly obeyed:

    “Abbot, there is a young lady outside demanding to see you. We tried telling her that you were meditating but she refused to wait.”

    Fangzheng opened his senses. At the back of his mind he could feel the presence of an aura stronger than any he had felt before. Suddenly he wanted to know who this uninvited guest was.

    ####

    The Four Great Guardian Monks surrounded Dongfang Bai, who despite carrying Linghu Chong on her back stood proud and defiant. Each monk stood with their hands together in a prayer position and although their faces appeared calm their shoulders hunched in tension. Moving as one the monks spread their arms out to either side and a transparent Qi ring was formed between them.

    The ring shrunk rapidly around Dongfang Bai as the monks pushed their palms forward. Abruptly the ring stopped a foot away from its target as it met the solidified aura of Dongfang Bai. With sweat glistening of their shaven heads and veins bulging in effort, the monks channelled more Qi into the ring, but amazingly the ring did not even quiver. The monks could not believe what was happening, the amount of power they were pouring into the contest was enough to crush rocks and shatter steel, yet this young woman showed no signs of stress.

    Then the ring started to move, but incredibly it was moving outwards back towards the monks. In desperation the monks summoned the last of their strength in an attempt to hold back the ring. But they might as well have been trying to hold back the changing of the seasons. The ring rebounded on its creator with so much force that they were sent flying through the air.

    With the obstacle removed Dongfang Bai continued to the inner sanctum of the monastery. An old monk appeared in front of her and bowed in greeting:

    “How may I be of service to the young Lady?”

    Dongfang Bai studied the monk. He was in his seventies with a lean but sturdy build. He had a beard that was as white as snow and his brow was winkled with worry lines. His gaze was piercing but not unkind:

    “Are you Abbot Fangzheng?”

    “I am”

    Gently Dongfang Bai placed Linghu Chong on the ground then fell to her knees:

    “I humbly beg the compassionate Abbot to save this man.”

    ####

    Dongfang Bai paced up and down the antechamber her nerves on a knife edge. Linghu Chong's condition had quickly deteriorated after their encounter with Yue Buqun and Ning Zhongze, until he had slipped into a coma. With no other choice Dongfang Bai had carried him to Shaolin Monastery.

    Fangzheng had agreed to take a look at his condition and had asked her to wait in the antechamber. That had been nearly two hours ago and Dongfang Bai was starting to wonder if she had made the right decision. Finally there was a knock on the door and the Abbot stepped into the room. Barely had he stepped through the threshold and Dongfang Bai was upon him:

    “Abbot how if Linghu Chong?”

    “The young sir's condition has been stabilized.”

    Dongfang Bai let out a sigh of relief and bowed to the Abbot:

    “Holy One, you have my gratitude.”

    “Lady's thanks may be premature. Although this humble monk has saved young sir's life, he is not out of danger yet.”

    “I have heard that Shaolin's Yijin Jing may be able to save him.”

    “That is true. However young lady, I have been informed that you have taken the lives of two of my monastery's apprentices.”

    “If the honourable Abbot will save Linghu Chong's life, than I am willing to trade a life for a life.”

    There was no hesitation in the voice and Fangzheng was touched by her sincerity. However he could not allow her to leave the monastery as she was:

    “Buddha's mercy in infinite and this humble monk would never dream of taking your life. If a may be so bold, I would like in invite young lady to stay as my guest for an agreed period of time. If you agree I will do everything in my power to save Linghu Chong.”

    “How long?”

    “Twenty years”

    “Twenty...” Dongfang Bai nearly lashed out at the Abbot, but forced herself to remain calm. With Linghu Chong's life dependent on Fangzheng's goodwill, she could not afford to offend him.

    “I agree, on one condition.”

    “Which is?”

    “You let me see Linghu Chong for one last time.”

    ####

    Dongfang Bai stared down at the sleeping Linghu Chong, the tenderness in her eyes would have melted the heart of a statue. Crouching down beside him she took his hand in both of hers and gently stoked her cheek against the back of his hand:

    “Chong Ge I cannot save you, so must entrust you to the care of the Abbot. The thought of not seeing you for twenty years fills me with dredge, but separate we must.”

    Tears welled up in her eyes and she had to fight to stop her emotions from choking her throat:

    “Please live for me. I promise that no matter how long it takes, we will be together again.”

    Placing his hand down Dongfang Bai kissed him gently on the lips, then swiftly left the room without looking back, afraid that if she did her resolve would crumble.

    ####

    Surrounded by enemies Yingying used her two weapons with a dexterity that most martial artists could only achieve with one. Her whip formed a moving shield around her body, flaying the flesh from the bones of anyone that got within its reach. Those skilled or lucky enough to evade the whip were despatched by the short sword in her left hand which licked out like the tongue of a great serpent.

    The ground was littered with corpses but still her enemies came on. Yingying knew that she would have to make a break for it while she still had the strength to do so. Quickly she scanned her environment looking for the quickest escape route. Then someone ran through her whip and headed straight for her with blade bared. Yingying readied her on sword but then looked on in wide-eyed amazement at the familiar face of Linghu Chong.

    Sprinting passed her Linghu Chong impaled a man that had gotten through the web of leather her whip had created and was about to stab her in the back. Quickly refocussing on the battle Yingying struck at her foes. Linghu Chong complemented her perfectly, dashing in between the gaps of the whip lashes and striking like an extension of her will, it was as if he could read her mind.

    The people surrounding Yingying soon lost heart in the face of two such formidable opponents and fled. With the danger pass Linghu Chong turned to Yingying:

    “Lady are you hurt?”

    “Wouldn't you feel more comfortable calling me Granny?” she replied in her fake granny voice.

    The look on his face was priceless and she couldn't stop giggling.

    ###

    Linghu Chong nearly choked on his wine as Yingying told her story. She had explained that Lüzhuweng's Shifu was her father's apprentice so the old man greeted her as aunty. She admitted that when they had first met she couldn't resists playing the little deception on him. It was this part that had set Linghu Chong of in a fit of laughter that almost made him choke on his wine.

    Swallowing his wine Linghu Chong looked at his companion:

    “So granny, what is your name? Or would you have me continue to call you granny?”

    “Not for another forties you don't. My name is Ren Yingying.”

    Linghu Chong looked out of the tavern window and into the night sky. Yingying followed his gaze but could see nothing out of the ordinary:

    “What are you looking at.”

    “I am trying to figure out which star is missing. Then I'll know which celestial fairy you are.”

    Yingying blushed at the complement and while she tried to look offended she couldn't keep the smile from her lips. Linghu Chong smiled back as he admired her beauty. She was dressed in a similar style to Lan Fenghuang except for the colour of her dress which was a mixture of gold and orange instead of blue. In terms of physical beauty however there was no comparison. Yingying was like the stars and Lan Fenghuang the wild flowers. Of all the women Linghu Chong had ever met only Dongfang Bai and Yilin could compare with her.

    The thought of his lover made his smile wane. When he had awoke alone in Shaolin Monastery he had had a moment of blind panic as he searched desperately for Dongfang Bai. Abbot Fangzheng had told him that he had been left at the Monastery gates alone. This had only made him more anxious about his lover and he had asked the Abbot for his permission to leave and go search for her. The Abbot had tried to convince him to stay, saying that his condition was still critical.

    However Linghu Chong had refused to listen. Finally that Abbot had offered to help him cure his injuries by teaching him the Yijin Jing However as this was the secret art of Shaolin, Linghu Chong could only learn it if he agreed to become a Shaolin secular apprentice. Linghu Chong was not even tempted so consumed was he in finding his lover and bid the Abbot farewell.

    Now Linghu Chong mentally scolded himself. The love of his life was missing and here he was flirting with another woman. Turning back to his companion he spoke:

    “Well Yingying, if I may be so bold, could I ask you why those people were attacking you?”

    “They were trying to stop me finding for my father.”

    “Why?”

    “My father is a very important person in the Martial Arts world and has many enemies.”

    “So who is your father?”

    “I can't tell you that yet, but he is my only family and has been locked away by someone he once trusted.”

    Linghu Chong thought back to his own upbringing as an orphan. He knew how much it hurt for a child not to be able to see their parent:

    “I'll help you find him.”

    Yingying could have leapt for joy at his words. But instead she gave him a smile that made him think things he really shouldn't.

    ###

    Ho Tián brought the hammer down with all the strength his thick arms could muster and sparks flew from the red hot metal. The weapon-smith continued pounding rhythmically at the metal until to took on the rough shape of a sword then returned it to the fire. As he wiped the sweat from his brow he saw the familiar figure of his Lord walking into the foundry.

    Taking off his heavy cloves he limped over to Bai Xuesheng:

    “My Lord” he said with a bow.

    “Uncle Ho, how are you?”

    “These old bones are holding up, come lets get out of the heat.”

    The weapon-smith guided Bai Xuesheng to a small room at the side of the foundry. It was sparsely furnished with a chair, a desk, a plain tea set, a small cupboard and a hammock. Ho Tián offered the only seat to his Lord then went to the cupboard. Taking out a lacquered box he opened it and presented the contents to Bai Xuesheng:

    “I hope this is satisfactory to my Lord.”

    Bai Xuesheng admired the magnificent sword inside. It was a double edged straight sword and the naked steel gleaming like silver. The hilt was made of white ivory and bounded by dear skin, but it was the cross-guard and pommel which drew his attention. Set into the centre of the steel guard was a piece of flawless white jade carved into the shape of sleeping rabbit which matched the one set into the pommel. Lying next to the naked blade was a wooden sheath, stained black and polished to a mirror sheen.

    “As always uncle Ho your work is perfect.”

    Ho Tián bowed his thanks at his Lord's praise then putting the box down he went back to the cupboard to retrieve the broken sword that had once belonged to Yilin:

    “What should I do with this my Lord?”

    “Please put it in a box and I'll take it with me.”

    ####

    Bai Xuesheng sat cross-legged on the may in the centre of the Training Hall. In his head he recited the Qi cultivation formula known only to him and his grandfather. Gradually energy started being drawn to him, using his breath to pace himself Bai Xuesheng channelled the energy into his abdomen. The energy started building up, slowly at first, but then started flowing rapidly. As his abdomen started to fill with energy Bai Xuesheng used his will to redirect the energy around his body to reinvigorate his muscles and cleanse his mind.

    After several hours he opened his eyes which gleamed with renewed energy. Those emerald orbs focussed onto the broken sword that had once belonged to Yilin and Bai Xuesheng smiled. He had been thinking about her a lot in the last month and he didn't know why. All he knew was that the image of her sweet smile made him smile as well.

    He had spent to last month going over every medical journal in his library hoping to find a cure for Linghu Chong, but extensive as his library was there was no mention of such a condition. Bai Xuesheng had never had much interest in medicine and so could not find a cure himself. All he could hope for was that Ping Yizhi would succeed.

    That hope had been dashed when the six peach immortals had come with news of what had happened at Five Hegemony Hill. Bai Xuesheng's smile faded as he thought of how Yilin would respond. Never in all his life had he felt so powerless and it was not a feeling he enjoyed.

    As Bai Xuesheng left the Hall he was greeted by a servant who informed him that a messenger was waiting for him in his study. Stepping through the door of the study Bai Xuesheng was greeted with a bow from the messenger:

    “My Lord.”

    “You have something to report?”

    “There has been a rumour circulating in the Martial Arts world that the Holy Lady of the Sun-Moon Cult is being kept prisoner at Shaolin Monastery.”

    Bai Xuesheng knew that this was impossible as his spies had recently spotted Yingying in Hangzhou:

    “Are you sure it is the Holy Lady being imprisoned?”

    “The rumour is that it is a prominent member of the cult and she offered her liberty in exchange for Shaolin's Yijin Jing in order to sure Linghu Chong.”

    Bai Xuesheng knew exactly who it was that was imprisoned. He only hoped that he could get to Shaolin Monastery before anybody else found out.

    ###

    Linghu Chong stood in front of the grave ignoring the chilly night air and the light rain. His heart felt heavy as he looked down on the tombstone of Huang Zhonggong. This was the first time he had helped cause the death of someone he admired and the guilt was oppressive. He wondered if he would have agreed to help Yingying find her father if he knew this was going to happen? He really didn't know.

    It had all started innocently enough, with Yingying telling him that her father was held prisoner in Hangzhou. As they travelled to the province she had furnished him with more details. There were for brothers guarding her father, who were collectively known as the Four Friends of Jiangnan. Each of them was a formidable fighter and it would be very difficult to overcome them with force.

    However Yingying had planned the rescue meticulously and knew all of their weaknesses. Using their vices to trap them she manipulated events so that each of them had fought duels with Linghu Chong. As skilled as they were, the four of them were no match for his Dugu Nine Sword. Linghu Chong had felt a bit guilty about deceiving them for they were honourable men who accepted their defeats with good grace.

    Especially Huang Zhonggong, who after discovering Linghu Chong's condition had offered to appeal to Abbot Fangzheng on his behalf for the loan of Yijin Jing. But Linghu Chong had promised to act in accordance to Yingying's plan so had continued with the deception. With none of the four brothers capable of defeating him they had no choice but to take him to the dungeon of their manor where they said was someone that could best even his skills.

    The four brothers had forbidden Yingying to accompany them, so she discretely passed a small ball of paper to Linghu Chong. Later on he was to discover that the ball contained a letter wrapped around a steel thread capable of slicing through metal. As the brothers escorted him to the dungeon they had put on silk masks and offered him one as well.

    On reaching the cell where the mystery Martial Artists was kept Linghu Chong had felt an immediate sense of danger as if he was entering the liar of a wild animal. The voice from within was strong and powerful but Linghu Chong detected a slight hoarseness which suggested the speaker was of advanced age.

    The man spoke quite disrespectfully to the four brothers but seemed interested in meeting Linghu Chong when the brothers mentioned that Feng Qingyang had been his mentor. On stepping into the cell Linghu Chong had been shocked to see the man that was chained there. His first impression that the cell contained a wild animal seemed to be confirmed as he looked into the man's eye. There was something savage in his gaze that made his skin crawl.

    Quickly Linghu Chong passed the paper ball to him and the man hid it in his sleeve. Unwrapping the wooden swords that Huang Zhonggong had given him the duel began. Linghu Chong could barely comprehend his opponent's fighting style. It was like facing a berserker who retained his wits. Like himself the man favoured attacking, but while Linghu Chong fought with surgical precision in order to home in on weaknesses, his opponent fought with a brutal aggression fuelled by incredible strength.

    Even without using Qi the man was frighteningly powerful and Linghu Chong had no doubt that in a real fight he would have been dead within a matter of heartbeats. Suddenly the man let out a deafening roar and Linghu Chong felt his senses being overwhelmed. When he had regained consciousness he found himself chained and alone in the cell.

    For several days he had lain in the cell, his only visitor was a death mute who delivered food and took away his chamber pot. One day Linghu Chong was laying on the bed when his hand brushed passed a gap in the sheets and onto the metal surface of the bed-board. The metal felt strange as if something had been carved onto it. Removing the sheets Linghu Chong found that there was writing on the board. Quickly he started reading:

    To whomever finds this. Know that I Ren Woxing, how once struck fear into the hearts of countless Martial Artists was confined here by treachery.
    I had committed many sins in my life and it is fitting that I die here, but I cannot allow my earth shattering art to perish with me. To the lucky person who finds this let you know your good fortune and bring glory to my art
    .”

    Linghu Chong was taken aback by the audacity of the statement. Earth shattering art indeed. With nothing better to do he decided to read on. At first the martial arts written on the board seemed quite normal, instructing the practitioner on how to cultivate and manipulate Qi. But then it got strange. Traditionally Qi was stored in the abdomen and then channelled to different areas of the body as needed. But the instructions on the board called for Qi to be dissipated on reaching the abdomen and to leave the area empty.

    This made no sense. If the abdomen is empty then where does strength come from? As he pondered this point inspiration struck him. His illness was caused by an excess of Qi in his body. If this art really could dissipate Qi then could it work for him. With nothing to lose he decided to give it a try. For nearly a month he practised the art and gradually the pressure from the rouge energy started to ease until one day they disappeared altogether.

    It was on that same day that Linghu Chong regained his freedom. The cell door was thrown open and Yingying rushed in:

    “Linghu Dage, are you well?” the concern in her voice surprised him and for a moment he forgot that she had abandoned him there.

    “I am fine, but where have you been?”

    “I'll explain later, come lets get out of here.” with these words Yingying opened the shackles around his limbs. As Linghu Chong looked at the chains he noticed small breaks within to metal no thicker than a hair.

    On reaching the main hall of the manor he saw the Four Friends of Jiangnan huddled in a corner and a man standing with his back to them. The man turned around and Linghu Chong nearly cried out in surprise. It was the same man he had fought in the cell. He had been cleaned up and his rags had been replaced by a black silk robe with patterns sown in silver silk. The man radiated authority but Linghu Chong could not shake the feeling of being stared at by a hungry predator as he met the man's gaze:

    “Well Linghu Chong I am glad to see you healthy. These four dogs have not maltreated you have they?” Although the words were spoken gently, they still held an air of power in them.

    “I thank elder for his concern. If I may be so bold, can I enquire into elder's name.”

    “I am Ren Woxing. Lord of the Sun-Moon Cult.”

    “You are a traitor and your title had been stripped from you. The whole world knows that our Cult's Lord is Lord Dongfang Bubai.” declared Huang Zhonggong.

    Ren Woxing moved as swiftly as the wind appearing in front of Huang Zhonggong even as he finished the words. As his hand clamped on Huang Zhonggong's face Ren Woxing activated the Art of Star Absorption. Huang Zhonggong cried out pitifully in pain and Linghu Chong moved to stop Ren Woxing, but was restrained as Yingying placed her hand on his.

    When Ren Woxing finally let go of Huang Zhonggong he crumbled to the ground as if all the bones in his body had been broken. Breaking free of Yingying, Linghu Chong rushed to the man:

    “Elder Huang”

    “Young sir, I congratulate you on your plan in releasing this monster. Thank you for showing this last mercy to an old fool by letting me know who it was that has caused my downfall.”

    Linghu Chong wanted to explain that he had no idea who he was freeing or that this would happen, but as he looked down he saw that there was no point in explaining, for Huang Zhonggong could no longer hear him. He closed the man's dead eyes and looked up at Ren Woxing wandering what evil he had unleashed.

    Ren Woxing had ordered that Huang Zhonggong's body to be fed to the dogs but Linghu Chong could not allow this. Secretly he had retrieved the body and buried it deep the woods. An umbrella was placed over his head and Linghu Chong turned to see the concerned face of Yingying:

    “I have talked to father and he has agreed to not desecrate the grave.”

    “Thank you.”

    “Are you coming back to the manor?”

    “I don't think so. There is someone I need to find.”

    “But father said that the Art of Star Absorption that you have learnt has a flaw in it. He has agreed to teach you how to counteract that flaw but you must swear allegiance to him first.”

    Linghu Chong smiled sadly “I thank you for your concern, but if this is my fate then so be it. I was already a walking corpse before learning the art, so it makes little difference whether it kills me or not. I just hope I live long enough to see her again.”

    Yingying bit back the tears tugging at the corner of her eyes. What did that witch ever do to deserve someone like Linghu Chong? Why can't she have a love like him? She was younger and just as pretty as her. When her father reclaimed his position she could offer Linghu Chong all the power he wanted. She wanted to plea with him to stay, but her pride would not allow it. She would just have to show herself to be the better woman in other ways.

    Linghu Chong offered a final bow to Huang Zhonggong then walked away without seeing the tears that finally spilled from Yingying's eyes.


    Hi guys. With Christmas coming up I might be a bit slow with the next updates.

    Happy Holidays All

  15. #55
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by szfong View Post
    Thanks for the update!
    Hope you like the latest chapter

  16. #56
    Senior Member szfong's Avatar
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    I REALLY like the new chapter....

    Why do I have a feeling that LHC may soon "stab" or "strike" RYY in the chest or across the face in a future chapter
    Last edited by szfong; 12-21-14 at 07:57 PM.

  17. #57
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liljanger View Post
    Thanks Mandred. After reading so many versions my hands are itching so start one but dfbb won't be with lhc or ylt
    Go for it if you want. We can all use a little inspiration.
    So is your LHC going to be a bachelor or end up with someone random?

  18. #58
    Member optimus610's Avatar
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    Interesting chapter. I see how you are changing how LHC thinks about RWX and YY. Given his mindset. When he finds out that his love is really DFBB he will be shocked, but will accept it as long as she explains everything to him. But even if she doesn't. He's too attached to her to betray their love. From a plot stand point you can do a lot after he finds out.
    If anyone is interested in some of my other work. You can check them out here https://www.fanfiction.net/u/106973/

  19. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandred Skavenslayer View Post
    Go for it if you want. We can all use a little inspiration.
    So is your LHC going to be a bachelor or end up with someone random?
    Random person is what I have in mind. The main character would be DFBB and her other half. But i would not call it swordsman because it's going to be completely adapted though the characters would be the same.

  20. #60
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Rescues and Ambushes



    Lin Pingzhi and Yue Lingshan spent their third night at the Lin family's ancestral home in Fuzhou searching for the elusive secret that Lin Zhennan had hinted at in his final words to Linghu Chong. Yue Lingshan let out a frustrated sigh:

    “Come one Pingzhi, this is the third night in a roll we have spent here. If there was any secrets we would have found them by now.”

    “Lingshan if you are tired you can go back to the inn. I'll catch up to you later.” Lin Pingzhi tried to keep his own frustration out of his voice but didn't quite succeed.

    Yue Lingshan made an exaggerated yawn then froze, her eyes fixed to a point above Lin Pingzhi's head. Following her gaze Lin Pingzhi saw a plaque hanging of the ceiling beam. The plaque had golden characters saying:

    “A good man has no enemies”.

    Lin Pingzhi remembered his father telling him that his grandfather, Lin Yuantu had personally written those words onto the plaque. As Lin Pingzhi looked closer he noticed that one of the golden flowers that decorated the corners of the plaque looked odd. On further examination he saw that it was fixed upside down.

    Leaping upwards Lin Pingzhi hanged of the beam with his left hand, while his right hand reached into the spot behind the flower. He smiled as his fingers grasped what felt like fabric. Jumping back down he stood besides Yue Lingshan clutching a grey coloured robe.

    No sooner had he landed then the doors of the manor burst open and a masked figure flew at them. Yue Lingshan tried to draw her sword but was brushed aside by a heavy backhand to the face. However she had distracted their assailant long enough for Lin Pingzhi to draw his sword and score a shallow cut across the man's left hand.

    Lin Pingzhi received a palm strike to the chest for his troubles and felt his ribs crack under the pressure of the blow as he was hurled into the air. Dropping the robe as he fell Lin Pingzhi tried to retrieve it but his legs refused to obey him. His attacker picked up the robe then walked towards him, hand raised to finish the job.

    As death loomed over him Lin Pingzhi saw another cloaked figure drop from the ceiling towards his would be killer. The man seemed to feel the displacement of air from above and dived to the side, the blow that should have crushed his skull left a deep crack on the floor. The new arrival hurled a series of powerful palm strikes at the first masked man, aimed at his head and chest. It was obvious that he intended to kill the man.

    His opponent parried the attacks with great skill and counter attacked just as aggressively. Knowing that this was their only chance to escape, Yue Lingshan rose to her feet and hurried to Lin Pingzhi's side. Helping her semi conscious companion up the two of them made good their escape.

    ####

    Lu Bai dodged a strike to his head then retaliated his a combination of heavy blows aimed a his enemies eyes and throat. Whoever the man was he was very skilled, for despite clutching the robe he had still managed to fend of Lu Bai's dangerous attacks using just his right hand.

    The Mount Song elder concentrated his attacks on his opponent's left side hoping to take advantage of his handicap. Suddenly the man threw the robe into the air as if he was discarding it. Lu Bai reached for the robe then realized his mistake as stiffened fingers rammed into his throat. The last thing that he saw as he choked on his own blood was his enemy standing over him with his prize in hand.

    ####

    Yue Buqun sneaked back into his room and took off his mask. Straining his hearing to make sure that he was alone he reached into his chest and pulled out the robe. Quickly he unravelled the fabric and read the characters written on the top:

    “Evil Resisting Sword Art”

    He felt like laughing out loud. Here in his hand was the key to winning the power and glory he so craved. With this he would avenged all the humiliations that had been heaped on his head for all these years. Now he would be Lord of the Five Mountain Sword Schools Alliance and it would be Zuo Lengshan who would have to pay homage to him.

    But that was not all. After humbling his long term rival he would unite the righteous schools against the Evil Cult and then he will have himself proclaimed ruler of the Martial Arts World. He now possessed the means to do all this and more. It will be so sweet to see Zuo Lengshan, Bai Xuesheng, Chongxu, Fangzheng and Dongfang Bubai kneel at his feet in defeat.

    He was woken from his dreams of grandeur by an urgent knocking on his draw:

    “Husband! Come quickly, Lingshan and Pingzhi have been hurt.”

    “Where are they now.” he said behind the closed door.

    “Their in Pingzhi's room.”

    “Wait for me there. I am on my way.”

    Yue Buqun waited until he heard the footsteps of this wife hurrying away. Hiding the robe under his bed he quickly got changed.

    ####

    Fangzheng and Fangsheng walked in the garden as they talked:

    “How is the young lady?” asked the abbot.

    “We are treating her with all the respects due to an honoured guest and she has been quite tranquil. However she has not read any of the scriptures you have sent her.”

    “Give her time. Her actions towards Linghu Chong shows that there is compassion within her.”

    “But Abbot, time might be a luxury we don't have. Zuo Lengshan has started recruiting men and purchasing weapons on a massive scale. Also there are rumours that Ren Woxing has reappeared.”

    “It seems that a rain of blood will soon engulf the Martial Arts world. Any news of Dongfang Bubai?”

    “Black-wood Cliff has been strangely quiet with no sign of that devil.”

    A young monk came running into the garden and bowed to his elders:

    “What is it?” asked the Abbot as he saw the agitated state of the monk.

    “Lord Bai of White Tiger Palace is requesting an audience with your Holiness.”

    Fangzheng knew that Bai Xuesheng would be calling upon him soon, for his friendship with the Holy Lady of the Sun-Moon Cult was well known. First he turned to Fangsheng and whispered something to his martial arts brother then turned to the young monk:

    “Have Lord Bai received at the Main Hall, I will be there shortly.”

    ####

    Bai Xuesheng rose from his seat as the Abbot entered the hall and greeted him with a bow as befitting a respected elder. The Abbot returned the gesture as a sign of respect to his guest's status:

    “Lord Bai, please forgive this humble monk for not greeting you properly.”

    “Holy one is too kind, it is I who should ask for your forgiveness for arriving uninvited.”

    With the pleasantries done Fangzheng asked Bai Xuesheng to retake his seat and the abbot took the seat next to him:

    “To what does this old monk owe the pleasure of your visit?”

    “I have heard that a friend of mine is staying as a guest of your monastery.”

    “That is true.”

    “My friend must be disturbing the Abbot's tranquillity, so I have come to take her home.”

    Fangzheng knew that Bai Xuesheng was being polite as a sign of respect and offering him a way to save face. But Fangzheng could not release her just yet:

    “Not at all. The young lady is wonderful company and this humble monk is delighted to have her here.”

    Bai Xuesheng saw that he wasn't going to win back his friend's freedom by staying polite. When he spoke again it was without a smile and in a serious voice:

    “Holy one. There has never been any conflicts between my family and Shaolin. It would grieve me greatly to start one now. However I will not abandon a friend.”

    “Lord Bai's loyalty to his friend is touching, but I am afraid I cannot comply with your request.” Fangzheng's words were spoken with just as much seriousness as his guest's but there was genuine empathy in them.

    As reluctant as he was to say the following words, Bai Xuesheng knew that he must:

    “Holy one, please believe me when I say that I hold you in the highest respect. But I cannot leave without my friend.”

    “Then we are at an impasse.”

    Bai Xuesheng nodded:

    “There is only one way to settle this. The Martial Way.”

    Both men rose and stepped into the centre of the hall. For long moments they stared at each other, both of them knowing the power contained within the other and neither was willing to concede an advantage by acting rashly. Bai Xuesheng's youth got the better of him and he struck first. Lunging forwards he hurled both his palms at the Abbot. Fangzheng met the attack in the same fashion and a ripple of Qi energy spread out from where their palms met. The ripple travelled to the doors flanking the combatants and turned them into splinters.

    Bai Xuesheng felt like he had smashed head on into a cliff-face. It seemed almost incomprehensible that a man of the Abbot's advanced age could withstand such a blow as he had just dealt, but not only had Fangzheng managed to do so, he was also pushing back with just as much strength as Bai Xuesheng was. Only now did the young man fully appreciate the depths of Shaolin martial arts.

    Fangzheng kept his face calm but his heart was pounding in shock. Bai Xuesheng's attack had felt like a wave crashing upon him. The Qi power the Abbot had channelled into his arms had been washed away in the initial contact and only the reserve Qi surrounding his internal organs held firm. But even this final defence was hard pressed to absorb the torrent of power Bai Xuesheng had unleashed. Summoning up the last of his strength Fangzheng was just able to push back.

    After several minutes Bai Xuesheng detected a small breach in the Abbot's defences and concentrated his powers onto that spot. At first nothing happened and Bai Xuesheng wondered if he had made a mistake. Then Fangzheng took a half step back. Knowing this was his chance Bai Xuesheng prepared to pour more power into the breach. But before he could do so something flew through the shattered doors and struck the point where the combatants palms met.

    Both men were hurled into the air and landed ten feet apart. Looking down they saw the remains of a sewing needle on the ground. Dongfang Bai leapt in between the two men with arms outstretched:

    “Please stop” she shouted, then turned to Fangzheng “Abbot may I have a word with my friend.”

    “But of course young lady.”

    As Dongfang Bai lead Bai Xuesheng out of the hall, Fangzheng looked down at the area where he had been forced to take a step back. Seeing that the stone tile had cracked under the pressure from his step the Abbot offered up a silent prayer for the intervention of the young lady.

    ####'

    Walking in the garden Dongfang Bai turned to her friend:

    “Xuesheng I am here by my own choice.”

    “I can tell.”

    “Really?” Dongfang Bai's voice had taken on an amused tone.

    “As you are in good health, I doubt there is anyone here that could stop you from leaving if you wanted to.”

    “Then I am sorry for denying you the chance to rescue me.” Dongfang Bai tried to make her voice sound mocking but couldn't keep a little giggle out of it.

    “You can make it up to me by telling me why you are here?”

    Dongfang Bai's silence was all the answer Bai Xuesheng needed, so he continued:

    “Is he worth it?”

    “Would Yilin be worth it?” Dongfang Bai had guessed her friends feelings for her sister from Yilin's description of his behaviour during their time together. Like herself Bai Xuesheng had acted out of character and given his personality there could only be one reason for it.

    “I don't know what you mean” retorted Bai Xuesheng as his cheeks burnt.

    This time Dongfang Bai laughed so hard she nearly double over:

    “So the great Lover has finally found true love” she said between laughs.

    Bai Xuesheng took a deep breath to calm himself then smiled sadly:

    “Truly no one knows me a well as you do. Yes I guess I do have feelings for her, but what good does admitting them do? Her heart already belongs to someone else.”

    Dongfang Bai placed a hand on his shoulder:

    “Try telling her. You may be surprised.”

    Bai Xuesheng thought over her words. Maybe he should talk to Yilin? He turned back to his friend:

    “I take it you won't be coming with me?”

    Dongfang Bai shook her head gently. Bai Xuesheng knew that once she had made up her mind she was unlikely to change it, so with a heavy heart he turned and left.

    ####

    Xiang Wentian stalked towards his chambers with a face like thunder. He has just had a meeting with Yang Lianting and Tong Baixiong which had left him in a bitter mood. Dongfang Bubai had left the three of them in joint command while he was away with the express order that no decision was to be made unless they all agreed on its course.

    The results of the order was that no decisions could be made, for the three men despised each other. Xiang Wentian had been feuding with Tong Baixiong for years, ever since the time the latter had executed one of his subordinate for a minor infringement. As for Yang Lianting, he was universally loathed by almost everyone in the Cult.

    The man was a sycophant with no talent except for spying on people. However this singular skill had made him the ideal man to carry out Dongfang Bubai's dirty work and so he had been elevated to his current position. As Xiang Wentian reached the door to his room he pictured plunging a sword into the toad's heart and smiled.

    His smile fell as he saw the people waiting for him in his room. Quickly closing the door behind him he fell to his knees:

    “My Lord, thank Heavens you are safe.”

    Ren Woxing helped his old friend to his feet:

    “Good to see you my friend.”

    Xiang Wentian then turned to Yingying:

    “Yingying I thought you were at Shaolin Monastery?”

    “What are you talking about uncle Xiang?”

    Swiftly Xiang Wentian told them about the rumour of the Holy Lady being held captive at Shaolin:

    “It must be Dongfang Bubai” declared Yingying. On seeing the confused looks of the men she proceeded to tell them about Dongfang Bubai's true gender and her relationship with Linghu Chong.

    Ren Woxing let out a triumphant laugh:

    “It seems that the gods themselves are on our side”

    “My Lord?”

    “What do you think will happen if those so called righteous Martial Artists found out who is really being held at Shaolin.”

    His companions caught on to the meaning of his words immediately:

    “I'll make arrangements to have the word spread.” declared Xiang Wentian.

    As the men talked Yingying stood apart and smiled. It seems that she would not need to prove herself superior to her love rival after all. The image of Linghu Chong came into her head. She knew that he would be sad for sometime, but he would soon get over her. In the end he would come to realize that she was the only one for him. Yingying knew this with utter certainty and in her mind's eye she pictured them playing Xiaoao Jianghu together and her smile broadened.

    ####

    Sitting in her room Yilin ran her fingers through the fabric of one of the dresses Bai Xuesheng had given her. She smiled as she pictured his handsome features and the feeling of security she felt in his presence. She knew that these thoughts were wrong in a woman who was soon to take holy vows but she couldn't help it.

    The man had the habit of invading her mind at the oddest of time. In fact if she was honest, his image would always appear whenever her mind wasn't busy. She had gotten use to seeing his face as the first thought when she woke and the last thought before she fell asleep.

    There was a knock on her door and she opened it to find a nun who informed her that Abbess Dingxian wanted to see her in the Main Hall. On arriving at the hall Yilin felt her heart miss a beat as she saw Bai Xuesheng sitting besides the Abbess. The two of them were talking politely and Yilin's Shifu, Dingyi stood behind Bai Xuesheng glaring disapproving at the Lord of White Tiger Palace.

    Hearing Yilin's footsteps the three of them turned to her. Bai Xuesheng felt his mouth going dry and his heart beating in excitement. He had dreamt about seeing Yilin's lovely face for months, but seeing it with his waking eyes was something completely different. Fighting down the urge to run forward and sweep her of her feet, he inclined his head in greeting.

    Yilin courtesied to her guest and Abbess Dingxian left the Hall, taking an obviously reluctant Dingyi with her:

    “How have you been Yilin?”

    “I am well, and you Bai Dage?”

    “Fine thank you.”

    After the greeting there was a long silence. For once in life Bai Xuesheng did not know what to say in front of a woman. Perhaps Dongfang Bai was right, maybe he was in love with her. He was definitely behaving out of character. Taking a deep breath he walked towards her.

    Yilin's heart pounded so loudly she was surprised it wasn't echoing of the walls. As he stepped closer the Hall suddenly got very small and part of her wanted flee. But another part her wanted to through herself into his arms. In the end she just stood there staring at him with a mixture of fear and excitement.

    “Yilin I hear you are to take your vows in a few days.”

    The young woman couldn't answer so nodded her head shyly. Seeing that she was not going to speak Bai Xuesheng continued:

    “In that case I have a little gift to celebrate the day.” Reaching don he picked up a box and opened it.

    Yilin's eyes fell on the exquisitely carved sword. She had never seen such a wonderful creation. Gingerly she stretched out her fingers and brushed the smooth wood of the sheath:

    “Do you like it?”

    “Its wonderful” she sounded like a little girl being given her first dolly. Bai Xuesheng felt an overwhelming urge to wrap her up in his arms and protected her from the world.

    Somehow he fought the urge down:

    “Take it, its yours”

    Yilin lifted the blade gently as if it was made of glass, then slowly wrapped her fingers around the hilt. It fit her hand like a tailored glove and as she drew the sword she couldn't believe how natural it felt. The weight, length and balance was perfectly suited to her grip. She felt like this sword had been with her for years.

    Seeing her happy gaze Bai Xuesheng smiled as well. He knew now why Dongfang Bai was so willing to give up her freedom for Linghu Chong. When the one you loved was happy you are happy. When they are sad you are sad. The both of you become one in body and soul. All selfish thoughts are abandoned as the concept of I no longer exist.

    Putting down the box Bai Xuesheng made to leave. Yilin saw him walking away and panic gripped her heart:

    “Wait....”

    Bai Xuesheng turned around and looked at her. Yilin felt herself drowning in those beautiful emerald eyes and desperately searched for a reason to make him stay:

    “I..you...have you seen my Jiě Jiě?” she finally managed.

    For a moment Bai Xuesheng contemplated lying to her. If she found out where Dongfang Bai was then he would have to tell her the reason why her sister was imprisoned. He did not know how Yilin was going to react to finding out that her sister was the head of the Sun-Moon Cult or that she was in love with Linghu Chong. But looking into her sweet innocent face he knew he could never lie to her.

    ####'

    Yilin lay on her bed. She had been there for hours yet sleep still remained elusive. Bai Xuesheng's revelations had made it impossible for her mind to rest. How could her sister be the monster Dongfang Bubai? It was impossible, she was Dongfang Bai her kind and loving sister. She was the sister who bathed her when she was young. It was she who had taken her in that warm embrace and comforted her when their mother died. No it was not possible.

    But what if it was? Was her sister really imprisoned at Shaolin Monastery, and what would happen if the monks find out who she really is? Getting up Yilin went to the table in the middle of her room. On it was the silk charm her sister had made for her and the sword Bai Xuesheng had given her. Yilin knew that no matter what she could not leave her sister alone in Shaolin.

    As she started to dress another thought struck her. Of all the secrets Bai Xuesheng had revealed to her, she was most surprised by her reaction to the news that her sister had fallen in love with Linghu Chong. When she had first heard the news she thought she would be upset maybe even angry. But as the initial surprise passed she found that the idea didn't bother her much at all. In fact now that she thought about it, the two of them seemed to make an ideal couple.

    Pushing the thought aside she continued to dress and pack a few belongings. Her sister was in danger and she was going to rescue her.


    Early Christmas presents

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