Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 12
Results 21 to 24 of 24

Thread: Dragon gazes upon the Blood Moon

  1. #21
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Posts
    819

    Default

    Deal with the Devil




    Laughter and wine flowed through the camp in equal measures, as everyone celebrated the death of Sha Long. Yongan took a drink of wine and stared into the fire. His heart was filled with an odd mix of emotions. He was relived to have avenged his Sifu but also unfulfilled as he knew their vengeance was only partially complete. Having examined his Sifu's wounds, Yongan knew that there was at least one other assailant who had used a heavy bladed weapon, probably an axe with magical powers that caused the frozen wound on his Sifu's body. Yongan was drawn out of his melancholy mood by the laughter of his brother. Turning in the direction of the laugh he smiled as he saw Yongle, with his arm around Zi-hsia and chuckling at something she was whispering into his ear.

    It lifted Yongan's spirit to hear his brother's laugh, once a common occurrence which had become increasingly rare since the death of his Sifu. Taking his gaze off of his brother, Yongan let his eyes wander. Dozens of camp fires burnt in the night, each surrounded by a ring of revellers. Yongan spied Yee-man Yin sitting with her brother and father. The men's faces were dark as they sulked over the insults heaped upon them by Bai Feng and Yongle. Yee-man Yin caught Yongan's gaze and she gave him a friendly smile before quickly looking away before her family could spot the exchange. Lifting his gave Yongan saw Bai Feng sitting on a ridge gazing at the night sky. Picking a cooked fowl that was roaring over the fire, Yongan rose to his feet and walked towards the elder.

    Bai Feng turned towards the sound of approaching footsteps and smiled as he saw Yongan. Accepting the roasted fowl, Bai Feng tore into it with gusto. As Yongan sat down he noticed that Bai Feng had two cups full of wine in front of him and a bundle which he knew contained the severed claws of Sha Long. It was obvious that the man was making an offering to the spirit of Manyou. Wiping his mouth on his sleeve Bai Feng spoke:

    “I never thanked you did I?”

    “Its only food.” replied Yongan.

    Bai Feng shook his head. “I meant I never thanked you for arrange your Sifu's funeral.”

    “It was my duty as his apprentice?”

    “And as his friend I should have done my share of the work, instead of wallowing in my grief.”

    Yongan nodded his head accepting the man's gratitude with a small smile. Bai Feng patted him on the shoulder:

    “I will be leaving in the morning. Mu Kong wants those claws for a ritual. He thinks it might help us locate your Sifu's other killer.”

    “I will link up with Elder Lin and Guild Master Dao then return to Kaifeng.”

    “Good lad. I knew I could count on you.” said Bai Feng with a chuckle. Picking up a bottle of wine he took a large gulp before offering it to Yongan. The young man took an equally deep drink and the two of them spent the rest of the night in companionable conversation.

    ####

    Kaifeng came into view and the thousand strong party let out a great cheer. Yongan's forces had met up with those of Lin Jan and Dao San at the hidden fortress. The elders had reported finding the place deserted and could find no trace of its occupants. Yongan had been disappointed but not surprised by this, for he had come to expect nothing less from the Order of the Trinity Sisters. With nothing to gain by staying, it was decided to return to Kaifeng. Now on the outskirts of the city the victorious warriors were met by delegation of the city's officials lead by Bao Zheng. The respected magistrate stepped forward holding a golden scroll. The returning martial artists fell to their knees as Bao Zheng read the royal decree

    “By the will of Heaven and the order of the Emperor.

    His Imperial Majesty is greatly pleased for the noble martial artists whom have avenged the Grand Patriarch Yip Manyou. By his Majesty's order each martial artist shall receive one hundred weights of gold.

    The Yip and Bai families will each receive a sceptre of white jade.

    The Yee-man family, the Lin family, the Beggar's Guild and Tie Lin Monastery will each receive a sceptre of green jade. In recognition of their special contributions.

    So it is ordered.”

    The assembled martial artists gave thanks to the Emperor, then rising to their feet the entered the city in a great ruckus of cheers.

    ####

    Yongan leaned back in his seat and allowed the noise of the celebration to wash over him. The courtyard of his home was full of revellers celebrating their victory. It was deep into the night but despite the late hour, there was no hint that the festivities would be ending any time soon. Yongan allowed his gaze to drift until he spotted his brother sneaking out of the gates. He smiled indulgently as he guessed his brother's destination. Suddenly his smile dropped and he rushed towards the gates himself.

    ####

    Yongle leaned against a wall and shook his head trying to clear the grogginess that had crept into his mind. Surely he had not drank that much? The sounds of footsteps came from ahead and he raised his head to see three men walking towards him. He stepped aside to let them pass, then heard more footsteps from behind. Sensing danger Yongle summoned his Qi but found the power sluggish to his command and only trickled slowly into his limbs. Realising that he had been drugged, he barely saw the glint of the knife as one of his assailants lunged for him.

    Despite only having a fraction of his strength, Yongle still moved faster than any normal person could. Spinning on his heels he dodged the stomach opening knife and slammed his elbow into the man's face. There was a satisfying crack as the man's nose broke covering his face in blood. As the man staggered back Yongle kicked him into his companions and all three of them fell to the ground in a tangled mess. Rapid footsteps from behind told Yongle that he was not out of danger and he spun to see a group of four knife wielding men come bearing down on him.

    This new group attacked more cautiously and spread out in a semi circle around their prey. Yongle felt the effects of the drug increase due to his exertion, his vision started blurring and his limbs became heavier. The four men attacked together using their advantage in numbers. Roaring in rage Yongle charged the nearest man, whose eyes widened in shack at the wild attack. Taking advantage of the man's surprise, Yongle slammed his fist into the man's throat, crushing his windpipe. The man toppled over from the fatal blow and Yongle ran through the gap that he had created.

    His drugged body betrayed him however and he tripped over his own feet. As he went crashing to the ground Yongle managed to twist his body and land on his back instead of his face. One of his attackers leapt on top of him and plunged a knife towards his face. Yongle caught the man's wrist and they strained against each other. Normally Yongle could have thrown the man away with ease but in his current state he felt as weak as a kitten. The knife came down and it was all Yongle could do to move the blade downwards to plunge into his shoulder rather than his eye. Grunting in pain, Yongle saw more men converging on him and knew that he would not survive.

    A shadow slammed into the men and the two closest to Yongle dropped onto the ground in unmoving heaps. The man on top of Yongle was dragged off of him and flung into the now retreating assassins. Strong fingers stabbed expertly at a few acupoints on Yongle's chest and he felt the pain of his wound lessen. With panther like grace the shadow leapt onto the fleeing men, despatching them efficiently. As the last of them fell, Yongle felt the drug in his blood take effect once more. In his weakened state he could resist no more and quickly fell into unconsciousness.

    Yongle woke to find his brother's hand pressed against his chest. Warm energy flowed into him, strengthening his limbs and clearing his mind. After several minutes the effect of the drug evaporated and Yongle felt himself once more:

    “Thank you Dage (Elder brother). But how did you know to come and rescue me.”

    Yongan inclined his head towards the fallen men:

    “Those men had been staring at you for most of the night. When they followed you outside I knew they were up to no good.”

    Suddenly Yongle shot to his feet:

    “Zi-hsia!” he said with a start.

    “We must be swift.” said Yongan catching his brother's meaning. Even as Yongan spoke his brother was running along the street, knowing that every moment was crucial.

    ####

    Yee-man Gao stared down at the paralysed Zi-hsia who glared back angrily at him. His spies had found this little hunter's lodge on the outskirts of the city which Yongle and Zi-hsia had been using as a love nest. He had been observing the lovers flirting throughout the night and knew that they would soon come here. So he had slipped a drug into their drinks and had his men wait in ambush. By now he knew Yongle would be dead and he would complete his victory over his rival by taking his woman.

    The sense of euphoria made him giddy. From his earliest days Yee-man Gao had endured the humiliation of living in the shadow of Yongle, whose brilliance always outshone his own. For over two decades he had listened to his elders praise every achievement of this prodigy. He remembered every look of disappointment from his father had gave him, when one of Yongle's great achievements was mentioned and knew in his heart that Yee-man Zhan yearned for Yongle to be his son rather than him. Yee-man Gao had been elated when he had been sent on the same mission as Yongle, thinking this would be his chance to show his superiority to his rival.

    However all he had managed to do was show his inadequacies, while Yongle and that barbarian he called a brother had taken every opportunity to humiliate him. Well no more. Now Yongle was dead, Zi-hsia would soon be his and he would despatch Yongan soon. Slowly, almost tenderly he reached out to Zi-hsia and started undressing her. He was determined to savour every moment of his victory. Zi-hsia's gaze turned from anger to panic as she realised his intentions but she refused to look away. Opening her garment he stared at her wonderful nakedness. As he started removing his own clothes the door behind him exploded and one of a pair of men he had placed as guards was thrown inside.

    Yee-man Gao shot to his feet just in time to see Yongle pounce upon him with the ferocity of a panther. This was the last coherent thing Yee-man Gao would see, as he world became one of pain as Yongle rained blow after blow onto him. The attack was so dominating that Yee-man Gao had no chance of defending himself and could only hang limply as he got caught in the storm of Yongle's fury. Yongan followed swiftly into the lodge and threw a cloak over Zi-hsia before lightly pressing a few of her acupoints to control the drug he knew was in her blood. From his position Yongan shouted at his brother to stop but Yongle was too far in the red mist to hear.

    Yee-man Gao felt strong hands grip painfully onto his shoulders, peering through the bloody mess that was his face he saw Yongle's murderous face before being hurled aside. His head smashed into something hard and he felt something damp cover his hair hen followed by an intense heat which engulfed his face. It was the most painfully experience in his life but was mercifully short as he quickly passed into unconsciousness.

    Yongan watched as Yee-man Gao smashed into the lamp. He watched the man get dosed in oil, then his entire face was engulfed in flames. Yongan reacted quickly, shooting to his feet he ran over to the burning man, ripping off the outer garment of his clothes and then beating out the flames with it. Yet despite his speedy intervention the flames had done their damage. The skin of Yee-man Gao’s already battered face, was black and blistered, and the smell of cooked flesh filled Yongan’s nostrils. Placing his fingers on the man’s neck Yongan found his pulse. Suddenly a thought occurred to Yongan. If he applied just a little bit of pressure, he could kill Yee-man Gao. The idea was very appealing, for to do so would spare both him and his brother endless troubles, for when Yee-man Zhan found out about this there would be hell to pay.

    Yongan quickly weighed up his options. His brother and Zi-hsia would not expose him. They had already despatched most of Yee-man Gao’s men. He could kill Yee-man Gao now, quietly bury the body and no one would be any the wiser. Yet just as Yongan was steeling himself to do the deed, he saw movement in the corner of his eye. He turned to see one of Yee-man Gao’s men slip into the woods and make his escape. Yongan let out a sigh, knowing now there was no way he could kill Yee-man Gao and have it remain a secret. Swiftly he pressed a few acupoints on Yee-man Gao’s body, ensuring that he would remain unconscious. Then he walked over to the guard whom his brother had knocked into the lodge and instructed the man to take Yee-man Gao back to his father.

    As the man hurried to obey, Yongan went over to where his brother was holding the now sobbing Zi-hsia:

    “Yongle, help lady Lin to her feet. We must move quickly.” Yonagn man instructed.

    “Why?” asked Yongle.

    “Because your life depends on it.” answered Yongan as he helped Zi-hsia to her feet.

    ####

    Yongan shoved a handful of bank notes into a travelling sack which he had thrown a few of Yongle’s clothes into:

    “Dage, I am not leaving.” declared Yongle

    “Yes you are.” commanded Yongan.

    “Why should I run, when I have done nothing wrong?”

    “Because if you do not, Yee-man Zhan will kill you.”

    “I am not afraid.” said Yongle defiantly.

    “Yongle! I have always let you have your way, but this time you must obey me.” said Yongan in a voice as determined as his brother.”

    “I can obey any command except this one.”

    “Yongle, you are Sifu’s only son. How can I face him if anything happens to you?”

    “And you are my only brother. I will not abandon you to face Yee-man Zhan alone.”

    Yongan’s eyes softened at his brother’s words and he placed a hand affectionately on his shoulder. Suddenly his hand shot down and he stabbed an acupoint on Yongle’s chest paralysingly him instantly. Summoning a servant he told the man to prepare a cart to transport Yongan and Zi-hsia to the inn Lin Jan was staying at. Yongle trembled as he tried in vain to break his brother’s seal. Tears of frustration rolled down his cheeks as the servant carried him away and Yongan stared back at his brother, knowing that this may be the last time he would ever see his brother. When Yongle was carried away Yongan summoned more servants to prepare to receive Yee-man Zhan.

    ####

    Yee-man Zhan and his daughter waited outside as behind the closed door physicians battled to save Yee-man Gao. Yee-man Zhan sat at a stone table his fingers tapping impatiently on the table top. Yee-man Yin sat beside her father staring nervously at the door. Finally, just as dawn was breaking, the door opened and the group o very tired physicians emerged:

    “Well, how is he?” asked Yee-man Zhan his voice dangerously cold.

    One of the physicians stepped sheepishly forward:

    “The young sir’s life is in no danger. However, the damage to his face is permanent. I am afraid he will forever carry the scars of the fire.” answered the man in a voice fill of fear.

    Yee-man Zhan stared into the distance, his face set in stone. Yee-man Yin dismissed the physicians then took a moment to stare at her father, before turning to walk into the sick room to tend to her brother, knowing that there was nothing she could say to her father.

    ####

    Yongan knelt before his Sifu’s memorial tablet, the sheathed Xueyue at his side. He had spent a sleepless night in his Sifu’s ancestral shrine, as he waited for the dawn. He had sent a messenger to Tie Lin monastery to inform Bai Feng of what was happening but the man had returned saying that the elder and Reverend Mu Kong were conducting a ritual in the inner sanctum of the monastery and could not be disturbed, leaving the messenger with no choice but to leave his message with an acolyte and return. With the last hope of aid dashed Yongan had resigned himself to his fate. At least his brother was safe and he could go meet his Sifu with honour.

    There was a knock on the door and Yongan rose to his feet. With a final bow to his Sifu he put Xueyue through his belt and went to face Yee-man Zhan.

    ####

    Barely had Yongan stepped into the Main Hall and Taihui was thrust at his throat. The attack was blindingly fast and it was all Yongan could do to raze his own blade to parry it. Despite its speed, Yee-man Zhan’s attack was backed by incredible force which sent Yongan skidding backwards into a wooden pillar. Pushing himself off the pillar, Yonagn drew his sword and prepared for himself for a fight he knew he would lose. Fighting with his customary control, Yongan defended himself flawlessly and waited for an opportunity to strike back. Yee-man Zhan’s blows flowed seamlessly into each other leaving no opening for Yongan to exploit. Each time the glittering Taihui struck Xueyue Yongan felt his arm grow increasingly numb and his defence gradually became more desperate.

    Xueyue glowed a ferocious red, feeding Yongan strength which allowed him to continue fighting long after his body had reached its limit. Yongan could feel the rage within his sword build and he was tempted to let the beast loose, but knew that would only hasten his defeat at the hand of an enemy as skilled as Yee-man Zhan. Taihui’s dazzling tip flew towards the point between Yongan’s eyes. Yongnan raised his blade to fend of the blow. With a flick of his wrist Yee-man Zhan changed the direction of strike and hit the bottom of Xueyue adding to its upwards momentum. With his guard opened Yongan hastily stepped back trying to get away from the descending sword.

    The blow struck his chest, launching him into the air to fly backwards into a wall. Yongan crashed through the bricks and struggled to regain his breath, his vision clouded by dust and pain. Yee-man Zhan stalked forward determined to end this fight. Suddenly the ground shook violently and Yee-man Zhan had to summon his Qi, anchoring himself to the ground in order to stop himself being flung into the air. He turned to see Bai Feng strolling towards him, his every step sending shock-waves of energy along the ground. Despite his fury, Yee-man Zhan could not help but admire the display of the Bai family’s secret technique, ‘the giant’s walk’.

    Bai Feng continued his walk, Tianzhen’s golden surface glowing brightly as his held the staff by his side. Stopping just out of reach of Yee-man Zhan he faced the man with features made of stone:

    “Get away from that boy.” Bai Feng said with a voice as hard as his face.

    “Do you know what he has done to my son?” asked Yee-man Zhan, his own voice tight with anger.

    “I know exactly what ‘Yongle’ did. I also know ‘why’ he did it.” answered Bai Feng as he continued glaring at Yee-man Zhan.

    Red flashed across Yee-man Zan’s face, the shame of his son’s actions cutting through his anger. The moment passed quickly and Yee-man Zhan’s anger reasserted itself:

    “So my son wanted some fun with a *****.” said Yee-man Zhan defiantly.

    “My daughter is a what?” came the angry voice of Lin Jan as he walked into the Hall, along with Dao San, Zi-hsia and Yongle.

    Yongle broke away from his companions and ran towards his brother, concern written across his face. Crouching beside his brother Yongle helped him into a sitting position, As he touched Yongan he felt something strange on Yongan’s clothes. Looking closer Yongle saw an almost invisible silk cloak. He smiled as he recognized the cloak made of the silk of the Divine-worm. While Yongle went to his brother’s aid, Yee-man Zhan stalked towards him, Taihui raised but he found his way blocked by Bai Feng.

    Yee-man Zhan tightened his grip on his sword so fiercely that the metal threatened to flex in his grip. Footsteps from behind made him turn to see the angry face of Lin Jan:

    “Well. What did you call my daughter?” demanded the scholar.

    “If the shoe fits.” replied Yee-man Zhan.

    “And yet your son tried to force himself on her. So what does that make him?” sneered back Lin Jan.

    Yee-man Zhan could find no answer, so instead he switched his attention to Dao San:

    “So how much are you being paid for your help? Beggar.”

    “Ah Jan’s father was my Sifu, so I am here without charge. Yet even if he was not, I would gladly come to teach you a lesson.” answered the Guild Master, his voice chilly with menace.

    In is head Yee-man Zhan quickly assessed his situation. He was alone in enemy territory surrounded by three extremely power marital artists. Although individually a match for them, there was no way he could prevail against them all. Sheathing Taihui he turned back to Bai Feng:

    “Very well, I will leave. However you can not protect those brats forever. Sooner or later I will have my revenge.”

    “Then maybe we should stop you leaving.” said Dao San as he lifted his Jade cudgel.

    Yee-man Zhan laughed:

    “I might not be able to win but I can certainly leave, with or without your leave.” he said defiantly.

    “Then let us settle this matter for once and for all.” said Bai Feng.

    “How?” asked Yee-man Zhan.

    “The Tournament to decide the Grand Patriarch will begin in three days time. If I beat you in the tournament then you will let this matter drop and swear not to take any direct or indirect actions against Yongle or Yonagn. If I lose I will hand over Yongle to you.” answered Bai Feng.

    “I agree on one condition. You must handover Yongan as well.”

    “Like hell we will!” shouted Yongle as he helped Yongan to his feet.

    “Then the deal is off.” said Yee-man Zhan.

    “We agree to your condition but have one of our own.” said Yongan as he leaned on his brother for support. He felt Yongle tense in preparation to argue but stopped his brother with a sharp shake of his head, before turning back to Yee-man Zhan:

    “If elder Bai wins, then you swear never to challenge for the position of Grand Patriarch ever again.”

    “You over value yourself.” sneered Yee-man Zhan.

    “Afraid Lord Yee-man?” taunted Yongan.

    Ye-man Zhan tightened his jaw angry at being outmanoeuvred again by Yongan. Having raised the stakes once himself, he could not now refuse without considerable loss of face. Nor could he contemplate the possibility that he might really be afraid of losing. Finally after a moment of contemplation he replied:

    “Fine. I agree.” he said through gritted teeth.

    As he turned to walk away Lin Jan barred his way:

    “If Bai Feng does not defeat you ‘I’ will.” Lin Jan said in a soft yet frightening voice.

    Yee-man Zhan did not answer as he stepped around the scholar and left.

    ####

    Yongan sat on a couch as Yongle spooned him a broth of foul smelling medicine. The broth tasted worst then it smelt and Yongan could not help but splutter a bit of it. Although the silk cloak had prevented Taihui from piercing his skin, Yee-man Zhan’s blow was still powerful enough to have caused dangerous internal bruising. Only Yongan’s strong body had kept him alive, even so it likely to be many months before he regained his full strength:

    “Dage!” said Yongle in concern.

    “I am fine.” replied Yongan with a smile.

    “No you are not.” said Bai Feng gruffly, then he turned to Yongle “And it is your fault.” Bai Feng continued, not bothering to hide his anger.

    Yongle’s normal brashness was nowhere to be seen, as he dipped his head and accepted the scolding. Seeing his brother’s grief Yongan spoke up:

    “Please elder...”

    “Don’t you defend him. I have told him many times to keep his temper in check. Now you see what happens when he does not.” bellowed Bai Feng.

    Yongan touched his brother’s arm reassuringly but Yongle did not look up. The truth in Bai Feng’s words and his own guilt weighing him down. There was a knock on the door and a servant entered upon being summoned:

    “My Lords, there are a couple of gentlemen outside requesting an audience.”

    “Tell them to come back another day.” said Bai Feng in irritation.

    “Wait! Who are they?” asked Yongan before the servant could leave.

    “One of them is Lord Gao Tianci, the other is an elderly gentleman.” replied the servant.

    “Have them wait in one of the Reception Halls, we will be with them shortly.” ordered Yongan.

    As the servant left Yongan chuckled:

    “It would seem that his Majesty is very well informed.” he said between laughs.

    With Bai Feng and Yongle for support Yongan made his way to see his uncle.

    ####

    Half walking, half being carried Yongan entered the Hall. Tianke Khan rushed to his nephew, taking him from the arms of Bai Feng and Yongle then helped Yongan into a chair:

    “How are you my boy?” asked Tianke Khan

    “I am fine your Majesty.” answered Yongan.

    Tianke Khan was unconvinced and gestured for Kan Xing to approach. The shaman obeyed and gently took Yongan’s pulse. After a moment he turned to the Khan:

    “Your Majesty can rest assured, the prince’s life is in no danger. I will prescribe some medicine to help his Highness recover.” announced the shaman.

    Tianke Khan visibly relaxed, then turned his attention to Bai Feng:

    “I heard what happened this morning. How could you make such an arrangement with Yee-man Zhan, just to save the life of your nephew!” said the Khan, his face flushed with anger.

    “They are both my nephews and I want them both safe.” retorted Bai Feng in equal anger.

    “Uncle, I made the proposal not elder Bai.” said Yongan.

    Despite his anger Tianke Khan did not miss the fact that Yongan had finally addressed him as uncle and he turned to give his nephew a warm smile. Yongan flushed a little, then smiled back. Tinake Khan turned back to Bai Feng:

    “I apologise for my words Lord Bai.”

    “Under the circumstances I can understand why you said them. Rest assured your Majesty, I would die before I let Yee-man Zhan lay a finger on either of them.” answered Bai Feng, his words filled with conviction.

    Tianke Khan nodded, realising that Bai Feng’s feelings for Yongan was no less than his own. Even so he was not about to let the fate of his nephew be decided by Bai Feng alone.

    ####’

    Yee-man Zhan watched as his daughter change the bandages on his son’s face. Every time Yee-man Gao whimpered in pain, it felt like a stab to his father’s heart. A servant arrived and announced that First Minister Guo was requesting an audience with Yee-man Zhan and his children. At first Yee-man Zhan was tempted to reject the request but his daughter pointed out that it was not wise to antagonize the Emperor’s most prominent minister. Yee-man Yin finished bandaging up her brother, then placing a veiled hat over his head and with the help of her father carried him to meet their guests.

    First Minister Guo was a short plump man in his early sixties. His hair and beard were grey, turning white. He wore the casual garbs of a noble man, indicating that this was a private visit. With him were two men dressed in the same manner. One was a middle age man that Yee-man Zhan did not recognize but the other was the Shaman Kan Xing. Yee-man Zhan’s brow knit in anger at the Shaman and only his daughter’s hand on his arm stopped him from throwing the men out. Inviting the men to sit, Yee-man Zhan spent a few moments in polite conversation with them while his daughter tended to his son.

    When the pleasantries were over Minister Guo declared the motive for his visit:

    “Lord Yee-man. Let me introduce you to his Majesty, Tianke, Khan of the Steppes.” said the minister as he indicated in the direction of Tianke Khan.

    Yee-man Zhan had guessed the man’s identity by the presence of Kan Xing and so only gave the Khan a small nod of acknowledgement. The gesture barely met the required etiquette for greeting a guest of equal status and was nowhere near adequate for greeting a monarch. Tinke however ignored the snub and spoke:

    “Lord Yee-man, I have been made aware that you have a dispute with the Yip family.”

    “They attacked my son and I will have satisfaction.” declared Yee-man Zhan.

    “That may be, but surely the dispute is between your two families. There is no need to drag in unconcerned parties?.” Asked the Khan.

    “By ‘unconcerned parties’ I assume you mean Yip Yongan?” replied Yee-man Zhan.

    “Your Lordship, may not be aware that Yongan is my nephew.”

    “I am aware of this.” sated Yee-man Zhan bluntly.

    “In that case, I will get straight to the point. Your Lordship is free to pursue your grievances with the Yip family in anyway you see fit. However I ask you to leave my nephew out of this matter.”

    “So the old man Bai Feng has resorted to begging aid from the Great Khan.” said Yee-man Zhan with a smirk.

    Tianke Khan ignored the taunt and continued:

    “Lord Yee-man, I only ask that you leave the unconcerned out of this matter. If you would grant me this favour, I would be very grateful.”

    Yee-man Zhan snorted at the words and Tianke Khan bristled at the lack of respect. He nodded to Minister Guo. The minister returned the nod and spoke:

    “Lord Yee-man, it is not just the Khan who wishes to settle this matter peacefully. His Majesty the Emperor would also like to express his wish that further violence be avoided. Please believe me, his Majesties gratitude will be as generous as his displeasure is dangerous.”

    The carrot and stick offer was not missed by Yee-man Zhan but the minister had miscalculated Yee-man Zhan’s reaction. Shooting to his feet he glared at them, with murder in his eyes:

    “Get out. Now.”

    “So be it.” said Tianke Khan as he rose to his feet and stalked out, with Kan Xing and Minister Guo following.

    ####’

    Inside his roofed carriage Tianke Khan sat and brooded on his fury. He turned to Kan Xing:

    “Well?”

    The shaman reached into his sleeve and pulled out a small golden bottle. Smiling he tipped the contents into his hand, and two strands of hair fell out. His smile wavered. That was strange, his spell had only been partially successful. Perhaps he had made some miscalculation? He dismissed the thought and turned back to his Khan:

    “Rest assured your Majesty. Whatever happens at the Tournament, the young Prince will be safe.” he assured his monarch even as his doubts nagged at the back of his mind.

  2. #22
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Posts
    819

    Default

    Devil Fist & Tiger Whiskers




    Bai Feng, Yongan and Yongle arrived in the company of fifty retainers and servants. Behind them was a small train of wagons containing the group’s belongings. The tournament ground came into view, a wide open field dominated by a massive two tier wooden platform. The ground at the base of the platform had been sectioned off by ropes into a checker board of squares. It was in these squares that the tournament will take place, with only the final four combatants being allowed to fight on the platform itself. This was the only to conduct the tournament on a practical level, for the participants numbered in their hundreds, from heads of powerful schools and families, to wondering warriors eager to try their luck.

    A small city of tents had sprung up around the tournament ground to house the participants and their entourages. An area had been reserved for Bai Feng and was suitably large enough for his group. Mu Kong himself greeted them on their arrival. The priest and Bai Feng exchange greetings, then the latter nodded to Yongle who turned and walked towards the lead wagon in their train. Yongle entered the wagon briefly, then re-emerged carrying the plaque of the Grand Patriarch which was covered by a sheet of purple silk. Yongle handed the plaque reverently to the priest and Mu Kong received it with equal respect. Later, at the appointed hour the priest will place the plaque on the upper level of the platform, signalling the beginning of the tournament.

    With the task of delivering the plaque completed, Bai Feng and his group followed an acolyte of Mu Kong’s to the area that had been designate for them. There they will pitch their tents and make read for the gruelling fights that were to come.

    ####

    Dozens of camp fires burnt with the smell of roasting meat and strong wine rising into the night sky. Tomorrow the tournament will start but tonight everyone feasted in a celebration to comradeship. Bai Feng and his family sat around a low table, filled to bursting with food and wine. Accompanying them were Lin Jan, his daughter and Guild Master Dao San. Their group was situated on the east side of the tournament ground, as far away as possible from the Yee-man family who were feasting on the west side. So far the atmosphere had been joyous and Mu Kong, as overseer of the event, was determined to keep it so.

    There was a commotion at the far end of the tournament ground and a large group of men started making their way to the base of the platform. Quiet descended as the standard of the Emperor became visible, declaring the new arrivals as emissaries of the Imperial Court. Everyone started gathering around the royal envoys, with Bai Feng, Yee-man Zhan, Mu Kong, Lin Jan and Dao San making their way to the front. First Minister Guo was at the head of the royal party, dressed in formal robes of his office, showing the seriousness of the visit. Holding up a golden scroll bearing the Emperor’s order, the minister waited for the gathered Martial Artists to fall to their knees, which they duly did. Unrolling the scroll the minister read its content in a clear powerful voice:

    “By the will of Heaven and the order of the Emperor.

    His Majesty gives his blessing to this tournament, knowing that all whom have gathered to participate are brave and honourable subjects of his realm.

    His Majesty wishes everyone good fortune in the coming tournament.

    Yet to his Majesty’s grief there is an unpleasant matter that must be attended to. Yee-man Zhan, whose neglect in discipling his son has caused much concern to his Majesty. As such, with great regret his Majesty has decreed that from this day on the hereditary title of Count will be stripped from the Yee-man family and Yee-man Zhan is to return the green jade sceptre recently gifted to him.

    So it is ordered.”

    Silence stretched on for several uncomfortable moments, everyone waiting for Yee-man Zhan to respond. The head of the Yee-man family shook with rage and slowly raised his head. He looked at the smirking face of Minister Guo, who was gloating in satisfaction at having gained his revenge. Yee-man Zhan wanted to bury his sword into the man’s chest. Using every ounce of self control that he possessed, Yee-man Zhan accepted the royal order reverently in both hands, then rose to lead the imperial party to his tent to retrieve the jade sceptre.

    ####

    Bai Feng’s heart went out to his opponent. The man was of the same age as his nephews and was shaking so badly that it looked like he would drop his sword. Bai Feng could guess how intimidating it was for the man, who was facing a living legend and Bai Feng was tempted to give him a reassuring smile, but decided against it for fear of frightening the man further. The referee, an acolyte of Tie Lin monastery signalled for the fight to begin. Bai Feng waited patiently, his posture relaxed but ready. Raising his sword his opponent advanced cautiously, the knuckles of his sword hand turning white as he gripped the sword hilt.

    The young man attacked hesitantly and Bai Feng stepped away from the blow easily. He let his opponent attack a few more times, avoiding every blow with a simple step or a turning of his body, not bothering to parry or block the increasingly desperate attacks. When he was sure that his opponent had given a good account of himself Bai Feng ended the fight. Swiftly he grabbed the man’s wrist as he attempted a clumsy thrust, then with a sharp twist made him drop the sword before kicking the blade away. Letting go of the unarmed man, Bai Feng took a step back and accepted the man’s salute, signalling his resignation from the contest. Bai Feng gave the young man a pat on the shoulder, then turned to the referee who gave Bai Feng a nod making his victory official.

    ####

    Yee-man Zhan struck fast and hard, his open hand slamming into his opponents jaw, before the man even had a chance to draw his sword. He felt bone break under his fingers and watched with satisfaction as the man flew out of the square. Having been shamed by the Emperor, Yee-man Zhan was more determined than ever to win the position of Grand Patriarch. In his eyes, the man in front of him was no more than an insect in his way to regaining his honour and he would crush him and all those like him mercilessly. He turned to face the acolyte overseeing the fight. The priest took a frightened step back from Yee-man Zhan’s intense glare, then nodded his head affirming the victory.

    ####

    Yongan walked into woods, the lantern in his hand clearly illuminating his way. Up ahead another lantern shone brightly and as Yongan got closer the lovely form of Yee-man Yin revealed itself. Yongan stopped a respectful distance away from his friend and gave her a polite bow:

    “Lady Yee-man.” he greeted.

    “Young sir Yip.” she replied.

    “Lady Yee-man, I am sorry for what has happened between our families.”

    “I understand why your brother did what he did. As a woman I can even say my brother deserves what hapened. But he is still my brother and it hurts my heart to see him like this.”

    “Please believe me, I never wanted to do anything that would hurt you.”

    “I do and I hold no ill will towards you. However I cannot continue a friendship with someone involved in the maiming of my brother.”

    Yongan could not speak. Her words struck him like hammer blow and his mind wheeled from the shock. He watched in silence as she turned and stared walking away. Panic gripped his heart and he took a step forward. His arm stretched out desperate to hold onto her. But suddenly he stopped, his heart hesitating in doubt. How would she react if he did reach out to her? Was he really sure of her feelings for him? Was he even sure of his own feelings for her? As he struggled with his doubt Yee-man Yin continued to walk away never turning back even once. As she disappeared into the night Yongan felt a part of his heart go with her.

    ####

    Bai Feng’s progression through the tournament went the same way as his initial fight, with him defeating over twenty opponents without needing to use Tianzhen. Bai Feng had taken care to respect his opponents, allowing them the chance to demonstrate their various skills before defeating them. All were very competent, some had even surprised him and he took note of a few young fighters who he singled out as rising stars. Now on the eighth day of the tournament he faced his first serious opponent, Dao San.

    Like Bai Feng the Guild Master had advanced smoothly in the tournament and they had both became two of the final four combatants, with the other two being Yee-man Zhan and Lin Jan as expected. Like before, the drawing of lots had determined the opponents and Bai Feng was secretly glad that he had been paired with Dao San. For it meant he would have the opportunity to observe Yee-man Zhan going up against a strong opponent, giving Bai Feng the chance to take note of his rivals strengths and more importantly weaknesses. Of course this would also give Yee-man Zhan the opportunity to do the same.

    Bai Feng walked steadily up he stairs, taking care that his posture and movements remained confident. As a veteran warrior, Bai Feng knew the importance of entering a fight with the right airs, especially when facing someone of Dao San’s calibre. Both men stepped onto the platform at the same time and turned together to bow to Mu Kong, who would oversee the duel from his seat on a wooden tower beside the platform. Having paid respect to the judge the men then bowed to each other before taking defensive stances.

    Bai Feng held Tianzhen vertically in front of him, left hand over right. His stance reflected his hands, with his right leg in front and raised onto its toes. Dao Sao held his jade cudgel in his right hand and to the side, his left arm held horizontally in front of him and slightly bent. Taking a long stance he resembled a large cat waiting to pounce. And pounce he did, hurtling towards his opponent in long strides. As he charged his foot steps became a blur, shifting with blinding speed. Dao San’s body reflected his footwork as he darted towards Bai Feng in a seemingly erratic line. When Dao San was less than a dozen steps away from his opponent, his movement became even faster creating two additional after images of him. All three figures appeared equally solid and it seemed that Bai Feng was doomed as there was no way for him to determine which of them was the true Dao San.

    Bai Feng’s right foot stamped down and power rippled out. Dao San stumbled a step and the three figures became one. Tianzhen struck out, aimed at Dao San’s throat. Dodging to the right Dao San brought his cudgel down to smash open Bai Feng’s head. Dao San felt like he was striking the side of a mountain, as Bai Feng slid Tianzhen upwards to block the cudgel and Dao San had to anchor himself with his Qi, in order to prevent being flung into the air. With contact made the duel proceeded in earnest, with the echo of jade cudgel clashing with golden staff ringing across the field. Dao San’s technique was at the very pinnacle of martial arts, his attacks a flawless mix of fast and slow strikes, heavy as hammer when attacking and as light as a feather when evading, the jade cudgel seeming to attack from all directions at once.

    Bai Feng’s style was much more simplistic, relying on only six moves, block, stab, slam, loop, hook and parry, but he executed each move with no less skill than his opponent. Back and forth the masters fought, exchanging more than two hundred exquisite strokes but still a victor could not be determined. Then as if by mutual consent both golden staff and jade cudgel stabbed out and clashed with a sound like a pair of massive stone hammers smashing together. The force of the impact sent both weapons flying from their wielders hands. Dao San reacted quickly, hurling out a flaming palm. Bai Feng met the fiery attack with his right fist, the force his punch snuffing out the flames and hurling Dao San backwards.

    Landing at the edge of the platform, Dao San once more anchor himself to the floor in order to prevent himself from falling off. Spreading his arms out wide Dao San started channelling his Qi into his open palms. The air around his hands started heating up, surrounding them in a thin haze. Small yellow flames started flickering around the palms, then quickly enveloped the entirety of the hands. The fire intensified until they burnt a blinding white at which time Dao San took to the air and flew towards Bai Feng, his palms leaving a trail of flames like the tails of a pair of phoenixes. Bai Feng sank into a high horse stance and faced Dao San head on. Just as the flaming palms were about the strike him, Bai Feng flung both his fists out to meet the attack.

    For a moment both combatants seemed locked within a bubble of suspended time, their movements slow, their hair and clothing floating around them, as powerful fists battled flaming palms. Conversely as the air around them became lighter, the floor below them became heavier and a great depression emerged around their feet. Then the bubble burst and normal time came rushing in. Dao San’s fiery palms were snuffed out and he was once more flung into the air, this time to be thrown clear off the platform. Landing lightly Dao San looked up at his vanquisher. Then throwing his head back, the Guild Master roared in laughter. On the platform Bai Feng stepped out of the crater and walking to the edge of the platform he joined in the good natured laughter.

    ####

    Yee-man Yin stared up in awe from her seat at the bottom of the platform. Never before had she seen such a display of raw power. The duel between Bai Feng and Dao San had revealed to her new possibilities in Martial Arts that she had never before contemplated. Turning to her father she saw Yee-man Zhan staring at the platform, his jaw drawn tight. Slowly his mouth opened a crack and he whispered the words ‘Devil’s Fists’:

    “Father?” asked Yee-man Yin in concern.

    Yee-man Zhan did not answer, but stiffly rose to his feet and stalked towards his tent.

    ####

    Yee-man Zhan walked up to the platform amongst a cloud of whispers. Forcing himself to ignore them Yee-man Zhan continued advancing at his unhurried pace. His public shaming by the Emperor had made him the laughingstock of the tournament, galvanising him to decimate every opponent who had dared face him. So far he had not needed to draw Taihui, for which he was grateful as he did not want to stain his noble blade with low born blood. Now he faced someone who was worthy of him drawing his sword.

    Lin Jan stood before him, his grey scholar robes flowing gently in the breeze. His posture was alert but relaxed, his right hand stroking gently at his beard and his left hand resting lightly by his side. Yee-man Zhan felt a moment of shame as he met his opponent’s steady gaze, remember his son’s shameful act. Quashing the feeling savagely, Yee-man Zhan prepared himself for battle. The duellist performed the necessary signs of respect to Mu Kong and each other then took defensive stances. Yee-man Zhan drew Taihui in a flash of silver, unleashing a wave of murderous sword Qi at his opponent.

    Stepping into the air Lin Jan floated above the wave and flew towards Yee-man Zhan. Lin Jan’s hand shot to his belt, then struck out with a bolt of black lightning. Raising Tailhui swiftly, Yee-man Zhan was barely able to block the blow, but was instantly assailed by three more, forcing him to back away parrying furiously as he went. Landing lightly Lin Jan held a thin black iron blade in his hand. Shaped like a bamboo cane, the blade had no edge but was tapered into a diamond point. This was Hu Zi (Tiger’s Whiskers), whose fame rivalled that of its illustrious owner. Taihui glowed brightly in response to its master’s indignation at having been forced back. Tightening his grip on the dazzling blade Yee-man Zhan charged.

    Silver and black lightning flickered back and forth as the master swordsmen fought across the entirety of the platform. Not since Yip Manyou had Yee-man Zhan faced such a skilled master of the blade and he relished this battle. As the duel raged on Yee-man Zhan found himself pushed onto the defensive. For every attack he made, Lin Jan returned three, the lighter Hu Zi allowing him to strike much more swiftly than his opponent. Yee-man Zhan found himself being pushed slowly towards the edge of the platform and knew he had to do regain the initiative soon. He launched three quick strikes at Lin Jan. Swaying like a bamboo tree in the breeze, Lin Jan avoided the dazzling blade without breaking his momentum and continued pressing his attack.

    Inch by inch Yee-man Zhan was forced closer to the edge of the platform, his increasingly desperate strikes easily avoided by Lin Jan, whose fluid movement made him as difficult to hit as a shadow. Feeling his back foot hover over the edge of the platform, Yee-man Zhan made a final throw of the dice. Taihui struck quickly at Lin Jan’s feet, the dazzling blade striking with viper speed. Lin Jan’s footwork was as elusive as his body and he danced away. Not wishing to give Yee-man Zhan the opportunity to strike back Lin Jan went right back on the offensive. As soon as he stepped forward his foot crashed through the wooden platform to the depth of his knee. In shock Lin Jan realised the trap Yee-man Zhan had laid for him.

    The strikes had not been aimed at his feet, but at the platform below, weaken the wood so that it would collapse beneath him. Yee-man Zhan advanced on his stricken foe. Lin Jan raised Hu Zi, but the lighter blade was easily battered aside and he found the glittering tip of Taihui pressed against the spot between his eyes:

    “Do you yield?” asked Yee-man Zhan.

    “I yield” answered Lin Jan through gritted teeth.

  3. #23
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Posts
    819

    Default

    The New Grand Patriarch




    Mu Kong sipped his tea taking a moment to savour the hot beverage and letting the noise of the celebration wash over him. Tomorrow the duel to determine the new Grand Patriarch was to take place but tonight everyone was feasting in honour of all those who had participated in the tournament. The High Priest was sitting at a low table, to his right was Yee-man Zhan and his daughter, to his left was Bai Feng accompanied by his nephews and the Lin family. As the final two combatants they had earned the right to sit with the revered Elder. Like Mu Kong both men drank only tea and ate sparingly, eager to keep their minds sharp and their bodies light for the upcoming duel.

    So far the feast had been joyous, if somewhat subdued as neither Bai Feng nor Yee-man Zhan had spoken to each other. Mu Kong had tried engaging both of them in conversation but they refused to bite and he had soon given up. Catching movement to his left, the High Priest turned to see Dao San come stumbling drunkly towards Bai Feng, a bottle of wine in hand and a wide grin on his face. Draping an arm around Bai Feng’s shoulders, the Guild Master offered the bottle. Bai Feng took it with a friendly smile but declined drinking it. With a shrug Dao San took back his bottle and resumed his wondering amongst the feasters.

    Lin Jan shook his head at his friend’s behaviour but could not resist an indulging smile. He had known Dao San ever since his father had taken the young vagabond as his apprentice, nearly five decades ago. Their relationship had sometimes been strained but always close and Lin Jan had come to think of the man as a lovable if infuriating brother. Turning to his daughter he saw her talking quietly with Yip Yongle. The smile stayed on Lin Jan’s lips but his eyes took on a touch of sadness. He did not object to their relationship, nor to their intimacy, for the world they lived in was a dangerous one and people had to take pleasures where they could. But Zi-hsia was his only child and he could not help but feel a spark of jealousy that another man should occupy such an important place in her affections.

    Out of the corner of his eye he saw Yip Yongan clutch his chest in obvious discomfort. Yongan’s pain was also noticed by Yee-man Yin and she shifted in her seat as if she was going to his aid but was stopped by a sharp look from her father. Yongan rose from his seat and whispered a few words to Bai Feng. The latter nodded and Yongan began to walk towards the tent where he was staying. Yongle had caught the exchange between his brother and his uncle and moved to go with Yongan but was waved back down. Reluctantly Yongle retook his seat and Yongan walked towards his tent.

    ####

    Yongan was almost stumbling by the time he reached the tent. The wound inflicted by Yee-man Zhan was nowhere near healed and he was desperately in need of rest. As he lifted the tent flap, he blinked in surprise, then quickly stepped in, closing the flap behind him. Tianke Khan rushed forward catching his nephew and helping him into a low stool:

    “Uncle what are you doing here?” asked Yongan.

    “Keeping an eye on you my boy.” answered Tianke as he motioned for Kan Xing to come forward.

    The Shaman obeyed and quickly took Yongan’s pulse. After a few moments the Shaman turned to the Khan:

    “The young prince is just a little exhausted, your Majesty.” he said as he reached into his sleeve and pulled out a small bottle: “I will dissolve some of this powder in water for the prince to drink. It will help him relax.”

    The Khan nodded and Kan Xing went to prepare the medicine:

    “Uncle, did you arrive with the Imperial envoys?” asked Yongan.

    “Clever boy. Yes and we have been watching the tournament. It is very entertaining.” answered the Khan with a smile.

    Kan Xing returned with a filled wooden bowl and helped Yongan drink it. The pressure on his chest lessened almost immediately and Yongan visibly relaxed. Tianke made sure his nephew was comfortable, then let his smile drop and took on a very serious tone as he spoke:

    “Yongan, I have a some fast horses waiting. I want you on one of them before dawn.”

    “Uncle?”

    “You have seen Yee-man Zhan fight. The man is possessed.”

    “I have confidence in Elder Bai.”

    “Your Highness. It may not be my place to speak, but from my observations I must say that in normal circumstances, yes Bai Feng would be a match for Yee-man Zhan. However, at this time Yee-man Zhan’s determination borders on madness. When he fights Bai Feng, the result will be death.” said the Shaman.

    “You are right Kan Xing. It is not your place to speak.” said Yongan bluntly.

    “But he does speak the truth.” said Bai Feng as he walked into the tent.

    “Majesty” Bai Feng greeted the Khan with a bow.

    “Master Bai.” replied the Khan with a nod.

    Turning back to Yongan, Bai Feng continued:

    “My boy, you know in your heart that the Shaman is correct. Yee-man Zhan has worked himself into a berserker rage. I also think you should leave”

    “Even so. I will not flee.” said Yongan.

    “You will leave, even if I have to gag and tie you to the horse.” decreed Tianke Khan.

    “Uncle, do you remember how you told me of how my father refused to abandon you?”

    “Of course I do.”

    “Then how can you expect me to do any less for my brother?”

    Tianke Khan stared at his nephew in silent shock, unable to decide whether he should be angry or proud. After a moment the Khan’s lips twitched upwards in a smile and he clapped a hand on Yongan’s shoulder:

    “My boy, you truly are my brother’s son. Like you he was as stubborn as a mule but I would not have changed him for the world.” then looking up the Khan stared Bai Feng hard in the eye. “Master Bai, I leave him in your hands.” The Khan said.

    Bai Feng nodded his head solemnly accepting the Khan’s trust.

    ####

    Outside the tent Kan Xing walked up to his Khan:

    “Majesty. Should I invoke the spell?”

    “Not yet. It would seem suspicious if anything happened to Yee-man Zhan at this time. We will give Bai Feng his chance. However if he fails, then you will ensure that Yee-man Zhan does not get the chance to harm my nephew.” With his orders given the Khan walked into the night, followed by his Shaman.

    ####

    Bai Feng walked up to the platform, forcing his heart to remain as measured as his steps. Reaching the top of the stairs at the same time as his opponent, he stopped and turned to pay his respects to Mu Kong. The High Priest acknowledged the gesture with a respectful nod and the combatants turned to bow to each other. With etiquette followed the duel officially began. Utter silence descended and everyone held their collective breath waiting for this clash of titans.

    They struck in the same instant, Yee-man Zhan drawing Taihui and unleashing a wave of silver sword Qi, while Bai Feng planted Tianzhen before him, sending out a ripple of power along the platform. The silver wave shattered as it struck the golden staff, its deadly power dissipating harmlessly. Yee-man Zhan took to the air, soaring above the spreading ripple. A rain of silver sparks flew from Taihui and fell swiftly. Bai Feng kicked of the ground, Tianzhen spinning in his hand creating a golden shield that fended away the sparking shower. The ripple Bai Feng had sent reached the end of the platform and exploded, sending a fountain of sharp wooden splinters towards the airborne Yee-man Zhan. With a backwards flip Yee-man Zhan avoided the flying debris and landed at the same moment that Bai Feng’s feet touched the ground.

    Bai Feng charged forward, Tianzhen held like a lance before him. Yee-man Zhan parried the lunge and struck back quickly, but Taihui’s sparking tip was deflected by the perfectly positioned golden staff. Back and forth they battled, Bai Feng using his simple but effective style, while Yee-man Zhan fought as dazzlingly as his enchanted sword. The tip of Taihui glittered spectacularly, like a star falling from the Heavens. As if in answer, Tianzhen became a shaft of sunlight, glowing brightly in Bai Feng’s hand. Ten, a hundred, five hundred, then a thousand moves past between the two masters yet still a victor could not be decided. Their movements were as fast and crisp as when they first fought, with both men defying age and fatigue as they fought with the energy of men half their age.

    Although he fought with ferocious determination, Bai Feng knew that he was losing. It was not that his skill was inferior to his opponent, but the fact that he did not want to kill Yee-man Zhan that was causing his defeat. He could feel his reluctance tugging at his heart like steel threads, invisible but unbreakable, hampering his speed and dampening his blows. Bai Feng had killed before, but never had he killed a good man, and despite all his bigotry and conceit, deep down Yee-man Zhan was still a good, if misguided man. In his heart, Bai Feng knew this truth and this prevented him from putting his all into the fight.

    Unfortunately his opponent had no such restrain. Yee-man Zhan’s rage had clouded out all other emotions, making his every strike lethal. Bai Feng knew that his reluctance to kill would not only cost him his life, but also the lives of his nephews. Yet even so he could not bring himself to fight with the same murderous passion as his opponent. Then it hit him, he did not have to kill Yee-man Zhan, he just had to win the tournament. Ducking under a decapitating slash, Bai Feng thrust Tianzhen at Yee-man Zhan’s feet. Predictably Yee-man Zhan leapt away, but Bai Feng had never intended to hit him.

    Tianzhen sank deep into the wooden platform and Bai Feng twisted the staff violently. A massive crack appeared to either side of the staff and ran from one end of the platform to the other, splitting it into two with each combatant on one side. Raising Tianzhen high above his head, Bai Feng brought the staff crashing down onto Yee-man Zhan’s half of the platform. Yee-man Zhan leapt into the air as the ground beneath him literately collapsed from the heavy blow of Bai Feng. Yee-man Zhan flew towards the still intact part of the platform, but a shaft of golden light came hurtling towards him. Raising Taihui he was able the block the golden staff that Bai Feng had hurled at him, but the force of the blow sent him flying backwards.

    Yee-man Zhan’s feet touched on the rubble that used to be part of the platform and he froze. Slowly he looked up and glared at Bai Feng, then he turned to face Mu Kong. The High Priest rose from his seat and spoke in a loud, clear voice:

    “In accordance to the rules of the tournament, the last combatant to wholly leave the platform or concede defeat is the winner. Everyone, please greet our new Grand Patriarch, Master Bai Feng.”

    “NO!” screamed Yee-man Zhan as Mu Kong’s words rang in his ears. NO he would not be denied again. NO he would not accept having lost the position of Grand Patriarch forever. Clenching Taihui tightly he prepared to kill the now unarmed Bai Feng. Hearing movement from behind he turned to see Dao San and Lin Jan standing there with weapons in hand:

    “Yee-man Zhan. Do you accept my judgement?” asked Mu Kong.

    All consuming rage invaded his heart and Yee-man Zhan was sorely tempted to give into it. Yet even clouded with the red mist a part of mind remained clear enough to know that this was not a fight he could win. Reluctantly, as if it was causing him unimaginable pain to do so he lowered Taihui and walked away.

    ####

    Tianke Khan let out the breath that he had been holding. Turning to Kan Xing he motioned for them to leave. Quietly Khan and Shaman walked into the crowd and walked away.

    ####

    Deep inside a cave Eric stood against the wall while the three witches knelt before a small fire and chanted their spell. Quickly the chant build in intensity feeding the flames with magic and turning it into a roaring fire. The fire rose swiftly until it touched the cave-roof , then the flames started solidifying until the outline of a hooded figure could be made out. The witches pressed their heads to the floor:

    “Great One.” they said collectively.

    “The tournament is over and Bai Feng is the new Grand Patriarch.” the figure said into the witches minds.

    “That is most unfortunate.” said the crone.

    “What of our plan Great One?” asked the middle aged witch.

    “We will delay them. But they will still happen. I have decreed it and it will be so.” said the hooded figure and the tone that rang in the witches mind left them in no doubt of truth in the words.

    “From your lips, to the goddesses mind.” said the witches in unison as the pressed their heads deeper into the dirt.

    The fire flared brightly for a moment and the figure faded back into the flames leaving witches and Eric alone once more.



    THE END.

  4. #24
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Posts
    819

    Default

    Like to thank everyone for your support, hope you all had as much fun reading this as I did writing it.

Similar Threads

  1. Twice Upon A Time
    By foxyfli in forum Fan Fictions
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 06-04-12, 01:48 AM
  2. Replies: 15
    Last Post: 02-29-12, 02:23 PM
  3. Replies: 4
    Last Post: 08-30-11, 02:43 AM
  4. Once Upon A Time In Shanghai 《新上海灘》
    By hstan_brian in forum TVB Series
    Replies: 50
    Last Post: 09-05-08, 04:42 PM
  5. Replies: 0
    Last Post: 11-12-03, 04:11 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •