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Thread: New Heavens Sword and Dragons Sabre

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    Last edited by Mandred Skavenslayer; 06-24-17 at 05:12 PM.

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    Chapter 1




    Baoxin (Treasured Heart) peered over the rock he was hiding behind. Gripping his weapon tightly he tried the ignore the sweat running down his palm as he watched the enemy come closer. They approached cautiously, a dozen pair of eyes scanning their surroundings trying to spot the trap that Baoxin had laid for them. Baoxin smiled, knowing that their search would be in vain, for he had chosen his hiding place with care and knew that it was all but invisible from their position. Step by step they walked on and Baoxin felt his heart beating faster with every agonising moment that dragged on.

    Finally the enemy reached the spot of the ambush. Shooting to his feet Baoxin let out a mighty roar which was picked up by his followers behind him. The enemy stared around in confusion as Baoxin and his group charged down the hill. Just before the two forces clashed, Baoxins face split into a wide grin as he saw the look of utter confusion in his enemys faces and knew that victory was his.

    ####

    The boys milled around the valley, some nibbling at sugared cakes, others sipping on water-skins while a few tended to their cuts and bruises. Littered around them were the light sticks that had been their weapons. With the battle over, the atmosphere amongst the combatants was one of satisfied contentment, the vanquished admitting their defeat and the victors gracious in winning. Baoxin took a mouthful of curdled milk then passed the water-skin to the leader of his erstwhile enemy, who like himself was a boy of thirteen summers. The good nature chatter was interrupted by the arrival of a monk.

    Wearing his thick red wool robe and a yellow dyed fur hat, the holy man was easy to spot amongst the children. All the boys rose to their feet in greeting, but the monk passed by them briskly and walked towards Baoxin:

    Holy one. said Baoxin with a short bow.

    Your Sifu (Martial Father)wants you. said the monk, his voice serious.

    ####

    Baoxin raised his hand to knock on the door that lead to his Sifus private chambers:

    Well, did you win? said a gruff voice from the shadows.

    The smile was on Baoxins face even before he turned to look at the speaker. A man walked into the daylight. Tall in height and wide of shoulder, he walked with the confident strides of a warrior. His long braided hair and thick beard were speckled with grey, indicating his age to be in the late fifties or early sixties. His face was tanned from a lifetime spent in the open and his dark brown eyes, normally so stern, were at this moment soft in a doting gaze as he met Baoxins stare:

    Of course. Your plan was perfect. replied Baoxin, his smile growing even wider.

    The man lunged forward and swept Baoxin up in a tight embrace before spinning him in the air making the boy shriek in delight:

    Dorje (Tibetan: Invincible). Put the boy down. I need to speak to him. said a voice from behind the door.

    Reluctantly Dorje complied:

    You better get going. he said to Baoxin:

    Yes Sishu (Martial Uncle). replied the boy, before he turned and opened the door.

    ####

    Abbot Mingmus (Chinese: Clear Eyes) mouth twitched in a small smile as his apprentice entered. The boys handsome face never failed to lift the old monks spirits and that delightful smile on those youthful lips just added to the effect. Mingmu felt a wave of affection towards the boy whom he had cherished like a son for the last thirteen years and he took a moment to take pride in how well he was growing. Of average height, Baoxin had a slim waist and strong limbs. His bright eyes hinted at an active nature and his delicate features reflected his Chinese heritage.

    Despite his ethnicity, Baoxins charm had made him popular amongst the locals. Filled with energy and a natural talent for leadership he had quickly became the head of the local boys whom competed for his approval. Mingmus smile broadened at the thought, but as Baoxing fell to one knee to greet him the smile fell from the monks lips:

    You can rise. said the Abbot, his voice soft but serious.

    The tone was not lost on Baoxin and his own smile vanished as he rose. The boy waited silently, standing straight and still. After several heartbeats the Abbot spoke:

    Zhao Baoxin, how old are you?

    Thirteen, sir. answered Baoxin, keeping his voice steady, despite the trepidation growing in his heart. His Sifu only called him by his full name when he had done something very wrong, or when he had something very serious to tell him.

    And where are your roots? asked the Abbot.

    In China, sir.

    It is good that you remember. the Abbot waited a moment before continuing:

    When your parents left you in my care, I promised them that when you reached this age I would take you back to your ancestral lands. Although neither of them are still within this world, I intend to honour my promise.

    Although saddened by the mention of his late parents, Baoxin could not help but feel a thrill of excitement at the prospect of visiting China. He had heard countless stories from the travelling merchants about his ancestral home and had long dreamed of visiting this almost mythical land, where the buildings were roofed with gold and the streets lined with gems. Mingmu saw the excitement in Baoxins eyes and although he was happy for his wards joy, the Abbot could not help but feel like he was losing the boy. Forcing down his doubts Mingmu told the boy to go prepare for his journey and Baoxin almost skipped away in his excitement.

    ####

    You better come out, scum. shouted Qingshu while he and his gang of five boys searched the undergrowth for their victim.

    Wuji hugged the books tightly to his chest, as he hid under a thick bush, fighting back tears and wishing his tormentors would go away. He hated hiding from them but he did not want to hurt them either. As the boys got nearer to his hiding place Wuji shut his eyes wishing that his father would come and save him. He loathed himself for being so weak, wishing for his dead father to rescue him but he could not help it.

    Someone grabbed his shoulders and yanked him to his feet. Wujis eyes sprang opened and he stared into Qingshus face. Despite being only twelve, Qingshus face was split into a wicked grin that reminded Wuji of a wolf. He continued staring as Qingshu balled his hands into fists, a gesture copied by his lackeys. Wuji did not try to run or resist, knowing it would only make matters worst. Instead he secretly activated his Nine Yang Divine Skill. He felt the familiar warmth grow in his abdomen, then quickly spread around his entire body. He hid a smile, knowing that his aura had solidified into a second skin that would protect him from the blows to come.

    Qingshu ripped the books from Wujis grip and hurled them to the dirt, then pulled back his arm in preparation to punch:

    What are you doing! shouted someone from behind and the boys turned to see a pair of men walking towards them.

    The seven boys recognized the men immediately and five of them fled into the woods, abandoning Qingshu and Wuji. Qingshu made to follow his comrades but in his haste he forgot about Wuji and ran straight into him. Wujis aura struck Qingshu like a stone wall and the latter was knocked of his feet. Wuji made to help him but Qinghsu squirmed away, convinced that somehow Wuji had struck him. Qingshu backed into a pair of legs and he turned to see angry eyes looking down at him:

    Qi Shu (Seventh uncle) said Qingshu sheepishly.

    What have I told you about bullying Wuji? bellowed Mo Shenggu, his voice hot with anger.

    In his mid twenties, Mo Shenggu was the youngest of the Wudang Seven Heroes, and his clean shaven young face testified to his youth. He was slight of build and quite short, barely a head taller than the Wuji and Qingshu who called him uncle. Beside him was Yin Liting, the sixth member of the of the Seven Heroes. A couple of years older than Mo Shenggu, Yin Liting was also clean shaven but had a squarer jaw than his younger brother, giving him a much more mature look. Unlike Mo Shenggu, Yin Lintings attention was focused on Wuji rather than Qingshu.

    Walking quickly Yin Liting helped Wuji pick up the books Qingshu had thrown on the ground. Yin Liting saw that the books were medical texts concerning bone and muscle injuries. Yin Liting understood immediately that Wuji had been researching on the condition of Yu Daiyan the paralysed third member of the Seven Heroes. Yin Liting smiled dotingly at Wuji, his heart swelling with pride. His smile fell as he heard Mo Shenggus angry voice and turned to see his brother scolding Qingshu:

    I am going to give you a lesson you are never going to forget. said Mo Shenggu as he dragged Qingshu to his feet and raised an open hand to slap him.

    Qi Shu! Please stop. cried Wuji, his eyes brimming with barely contained tears.

    Yin Liting took one look at Wuji and his heart melted. The boy was so much like his father, it made his heart ache just to look at him. Turning to look at his younger brother, Yin Liting shook his head:

    Liu Ge (Sixth brother) said Mo Shenggu with an exasperated sigh.

    Yin Liting gave another shake of his head and Mo Shenggu reluctantly let go of Qingshu but gave him a no too gentle clip on the back of the head before telling him to scram. Qinghsu stood for a moment in impotent rage. Once again he had been humiliated by the brat. Why could his father and uncles not see the two faced brat for what he truly was. How could they fall for his faade of innocence. Ever since his arrival at Wudang two years ago, everyone had doted on him, praising at how well he did in lessons or at what a good boy he was. Qingshu on the other hand had to work twice as hard for half the attention. He glared furiously at Wuji, tempted to throw himself at his rival but common sense stayed his hand. Turning sharply he ran as fast as his legs would carry him.

    Mo Shenggu spared a Qingshu a furious glance then turned to walk towards Yin Liting and Wuji. The anger died in Mo Shenggus eyes the closer to got to them. Wuji looked so small and fragile standing next to his uncle, that Mo Shenggu felt an overwhelming urge to protect him:

    You know, he only picks on you because he knows you will not fight back. Mo Shenggu said in a voice he tried to make sound like a stern reprimand, but instead came out like a gentle suggestion, his tone softened by his affection for the boy.

    I do not want to hurt him. answered Wuji, his large eyes staring up sheepishly.

    Some people could do with a little hurting. replied Mo Shenggu.

    Qi Di (Seventh brother) that is enough. I know you mean well, but violence is not in Wujis nature. said Yin Liting .

    Mo Shenggu humphed in frustration and turned away from him companions. He stared moodily into the distance them felt a tug at his sleeve. Looking down he saw Wuji staring at him with large doe like eyes and sad pouting lips:

    Please do not be angry Qi Shu. pleaded the lad his tone on the verge of a cry.

    Mo Shenggus heart melted and his earlier anger disappeared. Reaching down he ruffled the boys hair, turning his nephews pout into a smile:

    Lets get back to the temple. Sifu will be coming out of his isolation soon. suggested Yin Liting as he stepped forward to put a protective arm around Wuji. His companions nodded their consent and the three of them began walking home.

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    Hi MS, may I have a suggestion? Is it possible to have a list of characters at the beginning for reference?

    Out of curiosity, is Baoxin a reflection of ZZR?

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    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wkeej View Post
    Hi MS, may I have a suggestion? Is it possible to have a list of characters at the beginning for reference?

    Out of curiosity, is Baoxin a reflection of ZZR?
    Thanks for the comment.

    Here is a link to the list of characters in Wikipedia:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...ber_characters

    The characters I have introduced so far are:

    Zhao Baoxin (Treasured Heart)
    Abbot Mingmu (Clear eye)
    Master Dorje

    I will not give to much away about Baoxin, but I can say he will be important.

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    Chapter 2


    The large cave had only one entrance, which was blocked by a rock that would have resisted the combined efforts of ten strong men to move it. A single candle burned within the cave, which along with a simple prayer mat made up the only furnishing there. A solitary figure sat cross-legged on the mat, his thin frame barely visible in the weak light. The man was well advanced in years, his long hair and beard as white as snow. Yet as frail as the man appeared, his unmoving posture held great dignity and his serene features commanded instant respect. His eyes were closed but even a casual observer could tell that he was not asleep.

    Slowly his eyelids rose revealing a pair of strong, wise eyes that looked dreamily into the near total darkness. Suddenly the veil of lassitude lifted from his eyes and he was instantly alert. Springing up with a speed at odds with his age, the man leapt into the middle of the cave with the grace of a pouncing panther. Landing in a wide stance with knees slightly bent, he lifted his open hands to shoulder height and began a series of soft careful movements. At first he swayed like a peach tree in the breeze, gentle and elegant but quickly picked up speed. Within a few heartbeats the man was moving in eye blurring speed, his footwork like a phoenix dancing on flames and his upper body reminiscent of a swimming dragon.

    The lightning fast movements picked up the dust on the ground, causing it to swirl around the man like a whirlwind but not a single speck touched his body. Drawing in a deep breath the man let it out slowly, settling into a resting position, the storm of dust coming to rest with him and leaving a perfectly round circle of cleared ground at his feet. Stepping out of the circle the man walked towards the blocked cave-mouth, then placing a hand on the massive rock he slid it aside with no more effort than he would a paper screen.

    ####

    Zhang Sanfeng stepped in to the light and took a deep refreshing breath. The clear mountain air felt good in his lungs and he took a moment to savour the sensation. His wrinkled old face creased into a happy smile as he saw the group waiting for him. At the front was his eldest apprentice Song Yuanqiao. In his mid thirties he sported a well groomed beard, which gave him the look of a dignified statesman. Standing beside him was his son Song Qingshu, who was staring moodily at the ground. Behind the father and son was Yu Lianzhou, second of the Seven Wudang Heroes. A couple of years younger than Song Yuanqiao, he had a well tended moustache which made his already serious features appear even more stern.

    Next came Yu Daiyan, who sat in a wicker chair due to his disability. Yet despite his crippled body his eyes were alert and active. Standing beside him was Zhang Wuji, who was gently cooling his third uncle with a paper fan. Zhang Sanfengs heart melted at the sight of his favourite grand-apprentice. He had last seen the boy three months ago when he had started his isolation and was amazed at how much he had grown. After them came Zhang Songxi. In his late twenties the man had a pair sharp hawk like eyes which seemed to take in everything around him.

    Last came Yin Liting and Mo Shenggu. The youngest members of the Seven Heroes were talking quietly between themselves, Yin Liting smiling a something his younger brother had said. It lifted Zhang Sanfengs spirit to see two generations of his apprentices together but a pang of pain struck his heart as he remembered the one absent member of the group. Pushing the sad thought aside he walked quickly forward and straight towards Wuji, putting a doting hand on the boys cheek and caressing it gently.

    ####

    Zhang Sanfeng pushed the remnants of the meal aside with a satisfied sigh. He had dined with his apprentices in one of the temples garden, preferring the eat in the open air rather than some stuffy hall. Looking down he smiled as Wuji poured him a cup of tea. As always Zhang Sanfeng had had the boy sit beside him, taking immeasurable pleasure in his company. Part of Zhang Sanfeng knew he was being unfair, showing so much favour to one grand-apprentice when he never allowed Qingshu the same honour. Yet he could not help it. He had lost Wujis father and was determined to keep the boy as close to him as possible.

    Tearing his gaze away from Wuji he turned to Song Yuanqiao:

    Has anything happened during my isolation?

    Nothing important sir. However a letter did arrive from Elder Yin Tianzheng. replied Song Yuanqiao, as he reached into his sleeve and pulled out a sealed envelope.

    As Zhang Sanfeng took and opened the letter, his lips twitched in a smile as he saw Wuji trying to take a peak at his maternal grandfathers letter. Reading quickly Zhang Sanfeng put the letter down and tuned to Wuji:

    Your Waigun (Maternal grandfather) wants you to visit him for his seventieth birthday in a couple months. he said with a smile.

    But Sifu, what of Wujis injuries? asked Yin Liting in concern.

    Wuji has already mastered the first two levels of Nine Yang Divine Skill, which is more than enough to stabilize his condition. Besides, I will be going with him. answered Zhang Sanfeng.

    But Sifu you have only just come out of isolation. said Song Yuanqiao

    So, are you saying my old bones are not up to the task? snapped Zhang Sanfeng.

    Silence greeted his words and everyone looked at each other nervously, fearful of offending him further. Suddenly Zhang Sanfeng burst out laughing and the tension was broken as all of them realised that he had been jesting.

    ####

    Qingshu gritted his teeth as the cane came down. It felt like the flesh was being flayed from his bones. However despite the agony of the pain, the emotion at the forefront of his mind was anger. He was not angry at his father who was wielding the cane, nor was he angry at Mo Shenggu who had informed his father of his misdeed and was now observing the punishment. No the person that Qingshu hated was Zhang Wuji. He knew that that brat was the cause of his pain and with every strike on his body, his hatred doubled. Silently he swore an oath that one day he would return this pain ten-folds to his enemy.

    ####

    Minmin leaned across the neck of her pony and whispered gently into its ear. The smell of blood was making the animal skittish and Minmin could not blame it. Looking up she saw the soldiers closing in on the last of the rebels, while all around them lay the bodies of the dead. Minmin tried telling herself that their deaths were well deserved, that such a fate was fitting for those who had committed treason against their rightful sovereign, the Great Khan. She tried to convince herself that as a Mongolian Princess she should feel nothing but contempt for those killed. Yet seeing such wanton slaughter left a bitter taste in her mouth.

    There were only two rebels left standing. One was a young girl about the same age as Minmin herself, the other was a burly man who was fending off the soldiers with a long wooden pole. The man was quite skilled and had managed to cave in the skulls of half a dozen soldiers but it was obvious that he was reaching the end of his strength. There was a blast of horns and the soldiers encircling the rebels backed away to be replaced by a ring of archers. Dozens of powerful composite bows bent back, notching a circle of arrows.

    The rebels looked around desperately for an avenue of escape but there was none. Behind them was a fast flowing river, while in front of them were grim faced soldiers. A small boat was on the river but there was no chance that the rebels could swim to the vessel before they were cut down. Suddenly a grey figure well from the sky and landed in front of the rebels. It took Minmin a moment to realise that it was a man. As she looked closer she saw that the new arrival was well advanced in age with flowing white hair and beard and wearing the grey robes of a Daoist priest.

    An order was shouted amongst the soldiers and dozens of arrows were loosed, their iron tips glittering in the sunlight as the flew towards the rebels. What happened next was simply amazing. One moment the arrows were flying straight and true, the next they were swirling around the rebels as if caught in a great cyclone. The priest lifted a hand and the arrows shot outwards, each missile flying back the the bowman who had loosed it and striking them in the heart. The surviving soldiers barely had time to comprehend what was happening, when a second attack hit them. Something red flew from the boat and crashed into the soldiers.

    The velocity of the object reminded Minmin of a boulder hurled by one of the siege machines in her fathers army. However while this object ploughed through the soldiers in the same, it was not a machine thrown rock. The object flew into the middle of the soldiers without losing any height then exploded, releasing a blast of Qi power that knocked the soldiers off their feet. The explosion spooked Minmins pony and it bolted. Desperately she tried to bring the beast under control, but the animal was terrified beyond her ability to calm it.

    Minmin gave the reins a hard tug, trying one last time to bring the pony to heel but instead the beast reared up and threw her from the saddle. She saw her attendants come rushing towards her but they ran head on into the fleeing soldiers who swept them along in their flight. Dazed and confused Minmin tried to get up but could find little strength in her limbs. Suddenly she felt a pair of gentle hands steadying her and turned to see the worried face of a boy. He was about the same age as Minmin and quite small in frame. His face was handsome and there was a strange depth in his eyes. Minmin felt like she could loose herself in those deep eyes.

    ####

    Zhang Sanfeng watched as Wuji helped the Mongolian girl to her feet, then turned towards the river as the boat made it to shore. A boy the same age as Wuji disembarked followed by an aged monk. The boy sprinted forward to pick the remnants of the red robe that the monk had used to rout the soldiers, while the monk himself walked towards Zhang Sanfeng, who took the opportunity to study him. The monk was well advanced in age, at least in his early seventies, his body portly and his face clean shaven but covered in lines.

    Zhang Sanfeng however knew that there was more to the monk than this unimposing image. The technique the monk had used was called The Demon subduing Jiasha (Robe) and was an art Zhang Sanfeng had only seen used by the very elite of Shaolin Monastery. The monks earlier display had shown that he easily ranked amongst them. Stopping a respectful distance away, the monk held his palms together and bowed deeply in respect:

    Greetings honourable sir. I am Mingmu of Jin Jiao (Golden Horn) Monastery. The monk spoke in cultured Chinese that was only slightly accented and Zhang Sanfeng understood him easily. Returning the bow Zhang Sanfeng replied:

    Greetings holy one. I am Zhang Sanfeng of Wudang.

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    Chapter 3




    Chan Yuchun watched in awe as the priest and monk exchanged greetings. Long had he heard of Zhang Sanfeng, the great True Master but never even in his wildest dreams had he thought that he, a lowly member of the Ming Cult, would get the chance to meet this living legend. Although the monk was unknown to him, his earlier display of power was beyond anything Chan Yuchun had ever seen before. Chan Yuchun felt a pair of small arms tighten around his leg and looked down to see Zhou Zhiruo looking up at him, her eyes wide in fear. Despite her dishevelled appearance, the girls natural beauty was still evident. Chan Yuchun gave her a light squeeze of the shoulder, hoping to reassure the girl.

    Zhiruo loosened her grip and Chan Yuchun struggled into a kneeling position, hindered greatly by his injuries:

    Holy Ones, please accept my gratitude for saving my unworthy life.

    Both Zhang Sanfeng and Mingmu moved swiftly and helped him up. Introductions were quickly made with Chan Yuchun explaining that he was the sole survivor of a group of Ming cultists fleeing from the Mongol. In their flight the cultists had taken refuge in a small village where Zhiruo had lived. Unfortunately the Mongolian soldiers had found them and sacked the village, killing everyone. Chan Yuchun had managed to rescue Zhiruo and with a few of the cultist had fled the village, only the be cornered by the soldiers here. Just as Chan Yuchun was finishing his story, Baoxin and Wuji returned, holding the Mongolian girl between them.

    Chan Yuchans features clouded over into a mask of rage and he raised his pole to kill the girl. Wuji threw his arms around the girl, shielding her with his body while Baoxin stepped in front of Chan Yuachan, his arms held high to ward away the blow. Chan Yuchan felt a someone grip his wrist and turned to see Mingmu holding him:

    Brother Chan, please desist from this. said the Abbot.

    She is a Mongolian spawn. snapped back Chan Yuchan.

    And I am a Tibetan monk. Will you strike me next? asked Mingmu, his voice calm to the point of being emotionless.

    Chan Yuchan blinked in shock, barely able to comprehend the Abbots words. After a moment he lowered his weapon:

    Of course not Holy One. But how could you compare your life with that of this Mongolian spawn? asked Chan Yuchan.

    Life is life Brother Chan. Han Chinese, Mongolian or Tibetan, there is no difference. This girls countrymen may have wronged you, but that just not give you the right to wrong her. answered Mingmu keeping his voice level and reasonable.

    But Holy One, how can you ask me to spare someone who will grow up to be the enemy of my people? said Chan Yuchan.

    That is yet to be determined. Said Zhang Sanfeng who had been quietly listening to the exchange.

    All eyes turned to the priest, who having got everyones attention continued:

    The Holy One is right. At this moment she is a helpless child in our power. Are we to act with the same savagery of her countrymen that so appalled you mere moments ago?

    There was nothing Chan Yuchan could say to that, nor was there anything he could really do, if both of these great men were determined to spare the girl. Frustrated by his impotence, Chan Yuchan glared at the girl, and was infuriated to see her glaring back with an anger that matched his own.

    ####

    Mingmu and Baoxin spoke a quiet prayer, purifying the meal of dried meat and pickled vegetables before eating. The six of them were taking their evening meal on the ferry, while Minmin sat on her own on the other side of the vessel looking haughtily at them. Zhang Sanfeng poured a cup of tea and handed it to the Abbot:

    Holy one. offered the priest. The Abbot tapped the table three times then accepted the cup. Zhang Sanfeng inclined his head repaying the compliment then continued:

    Holy One, may I enquiry into the reason for your visit to our land?

    My apprentice is a native to these lands and I have brought him back to pay homage to his ancestral home. replied the monk as he nodded towards Baoxin.

    Is that so? Well young man, I guess that makes us countrymen. said Zhang Sanfeng as he smiled warmly at Baoxin.

    The boy smiled back: I am Zhao Baoxin, son of Zhao Rensong, at your service Honourable Sir. he said with as much solemness as a thirteen year old could muster.

    Zhao Rensong? Would that be the famous scholar who wrote the treaty on the Great Cloud Sutra? Zhang Saneng asked.

    Honourable Sir is most learned. Yes Baoxins late father was him. Answered the monk.

    So Mister Zhao has passed away. That is a shame, I found his work most enlightening and have always wished to meet the great man. said Zhang Sanfeng wistfully.

    Wuji felt a tug at his heart. So Baoxin also did not have a father. Wuji knew how hard that is for a boy and his heart went out to Baoxin. He heard Zhiruo sniffing and turned to see her looking down, her doe like eyes brimming with barely suppressed tears. Wuji remembered that him and Baoxin were not the only orphans and he gave Zhiruo a squeeze of the hand. She looked up and gave him a weak smile. Wuji smiled back, wishing with all his heart that he could take her pain away. Zhiruos gaze flickered over Wujis shoulders and he turned to see Minmin staring at the food.

    Her pink silk dress was stained and he hair was in disarray but still she looked beautiful. Bright intelligent eyes rested above well defined cheeks, combined to give her a very elegant appearance. Minmin caught him looking at her and turned her back in defiance.

    Wuji filled his bowl with food and walked towards Minmin offering it to her:

    A Mongolian Princess does not take food from a Han dog. she snapped in Mongolian.

    Then the Mongolian Princess can starve. shouted Baoxin from across the ferry. Minmin blinked in surprise. Not only had Baoxin understood her, but he had answered using the same language.

    Mingmu smiled and addressed his confused companions:

    Our monastery has pilgrims from many lands, including the Steppes and Baoxin is a regular visitor to their small community.

    Minmin forced her face into a sneer and turned her back once more on her captures.

    ####

    Minmin was unable to sleep, her empty stomach growling in unaccustomed hunger. Someone was moving towards her and she strained her eyes trying the make out their features in the dark night. It was not until when he was almost standing on top of her did Minmin recognise the gentle face of Wuji. Reaching into his sleeve Wuji pulled out a small bundle and placed it on the floor in front of her, before slipping quietly back into his sleeping mat. Quietly Minmin unwrapped the bundle to find a loaf of steam bread.

    ####

    Zhiruo walked as quietly as she could, clutching the knife in her trembling hand. She had snatched up the knife when Chan Yuchan had rescued her and now this kitchen tool represented her only link to her previous carefree life. For the first time in many days she was alone, Zhang Sanfeng and Chan Yuchan having gone to a nearby town for supplies, while Mingmu was deep in meditation and the boys had gone deep into the woods to play. Wuji had invited her to join them but she had made her excuses. They had finally left the ferry after many days of travelling and she was not about to squander this opportunity on play.

    Zhiruo could not have carried out her plan in the close confines of the ferry but here in the open, she could do the deed and no one would ever know. Silently she crept up to the tree that the Mongolian girl was tied to. The girl had her back to Zhiruo, for which she was grateful. Zhiruo did not know if she could have carried out the deed if she had been facing her. No, she must stop thinking of her as a person. The Mongolian spawn was not. Like her entire race she was an animal. A savage beast who lived for nothing but to cause death and misery to decent people. By killing her Zhiruo would not only be avenging her village but also ridding the world of a great evil.

    So lost was Zhiruo in her thoughts that she did not notice that she had stepped on a twig until it snapped under foot. Minmin spun around just in time to see Zhiruo leap on her. The girls weight bore Minmin to the ground and it was all the princess could do to grab hold of Zhiruos wrist. Trapped beneath Zhiruo, Minmin struggled desperately to throw the girl off but it was to no avail and the knife carried on coming down towards her eye. Slowly the knife descended as the girls strained against each other. It moved sickeningly slowly but its fall was inevitable.

    Just as the blade hovered above Minmins eye a shadow fell on the girls. Strong hands tore Zhiruo of off Minmin and flung her backwards. Zhiruo lashed out as she fell and felt her knife slice into flesh. Baoxin roared in anger as blood flowed from his wounded hand. Clenching his fist he hurled himself at Zhiruo as she lay on the ground, determined to repay the pain she had inflicted on him. Someone grabbed him from behind, dragging him away from Zhiruo. Enraged at being denied his vengeance Baoxin threw off the person restraining him and spun around fist flying.

    Wuiji bulked at Baoxins murderous stare and only just managed to activate his Nine Yang Divine Skill before the fist smashed into his chest. The power of the blow shocked Wuji and he felt his aura shudder from the impact. The Qi barrier summoned by Wuji flexed and strained and Wuji truly thought that it was going to shatter. He stumbled backwards trying to stabilize his faltering aura. With a great effort of will Wuji succeeded and his aura held then settled down. Gasping with exhaustion Wuji looked up and blinked at the look on Baoxins face.

    Gone was his anger, to be replace by a look of utter terror. Baonxins eyes were wide with fear and his complexion turned a ghostly white:

    Are you all right? Baoxin asked with a trembling voice.

    When Wuji did not respond, Baoxin got really scared:

    I did not mean it, please be all right. Baoxin pleaded.

    Finally Wuji managed to catch his breath:

    I am all right. Wuji managed with a weak smile.

    Baoxin let out a breath and visibly relaxed. Lifting his hand he wiped the cold sweat from his brow. Wuji noticed the cut on Baoxins hand and his face dropped in concern:

    Your hand. said Wuji

    Its fine, no need to worry. replied Baoxin with his own smile.

    Whimpering from behind Baoxin caused the boys to turn to see Zhiruo on the ground, her knees curled up to her chest as she wept. Baoxin turned to Wuji and inclined his head towards Zhiruo. Wuji got his meaning immediately and went to Zhiruo. As Wuji comforted Zhiruo, Baoxin went to Minmin and made sure that she was unhurt.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Chapter 4




    Baoxin untied the end of the rope that was tied to the tree and prepared to lead Minmin back to camp. Looking around he saw Wuji talking quietly with Zhiruo. The girl spoke quickly and her gaze flickered between Wuji and Baoxin. After a few moments Wuji got up and walked towards Baoxin. When Wuji was in front of Baoxin, he beckoned the latter to sit down while he reached into his sleeve and pulled out a small bundle that he unwrapped to reveal a little bottle of blood clotting powder and bandages, which he proceeded to use to treat Baoxins hand:

    Do you always keep that bundle with you? asked Baoxin

    Yes. You never know when someone might need help. replied Wuji.

    You could give my Sifu a lesson is beneficence. Baoxin said with a chuckle.

    Wuji touched his chest where Baoxin had struck him:

    That was some punch you gave me. It feels like I have been trampled by an elephant

    Actually it was two elephants. said Baoxin with a mischievous smile.

    Wuji looked at his friend in confusion. Then is eyes dropped and when he spoke it was in a whisper:

    Can you not tell the grown ups about what happened here? asked Wuji.

    She tried to kill someone. said Baoxin, his voice gentle but stern.

    No one was really hurt and Zhiruo is very sorry. She promises she will never do it again. Pleaded Wuji, his deep eyes on the edge of tears.

    Baoxin looked from Wuji to Zhiruo, then at the Mongolian girl and finally back at Wuji:

    Can you resist any pretty girls? Baoxin asked with a chuckle. Wuji blushed at the jest:

    Its not like that. I just... Wuji was cut short as Baoxin raised an open hand.

    If the princess, is ready to let this matter rest then so am I. Baoxin said as he turned to their captive.

    Since when does a prisoner have rights. replied Minmin, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

    Then it is settled. declared Baoxin, as he turned to fix a stern stare at Zhiruo: We will pretend that nothing happened here. But you are to stay away from the Princess, is that understood?

    The authority in Baoxins voice was absolute and the already frightened Zhiruo just nodded numbly.

    ####

    So what should we do about the Mongolian sp, girl? asked Chang Yuchan.

    The group had come to rest at a road side tea house. The adults sat at one table while the children sat at another, both out of earshot of the other. Zhang Sanfeng motioned them to silence as the tea house owner brought a plate of steam buns to their table. As the man laid the food down Mingmu spoke to him:

    Sir, do you know where the nearest courthouse is?

    Yes Holy One. If you take the road South you should reach it before nightfall.

    Mingmu thanked the man, then when he had left the monk addressed his companions:

    My destination takes me South. I will take the Princess to the courthouse to be with her people.

    Chang Yuchan lowered his voice and spoke to the Holy Men:

    Holy Ones. I ask you once more to reconsider. We know that the girl is Mongolian Royalty. This could make her very useful to our cause.

    Zhang Sanfengs face clouded over in indignation. He had long heard of the Ming Cults underhanded methods, but to suggest using a child this way really rankled him. With an effort he managed to control his temper and spoke in a calm, level voice:

    Yuchan. I understand that you have suffered a lot at the hand of the Yuan court and I applaud your patriotism. But I will not allow the child to be used this way.

    Well said Honourable Sir. Brother Chang, I am a foreigner to your lands and do not wish to comment on your internal affairs. But like True Master Zhang, I also cannot condone such a course.

    Chang Yuchan forced his mouth to remain closed, while in his heart he raged against their words. He thought it was typical of religious men, always talking about mercy and compassion completely ignoring the practical world. Would mercy save the Chinese from the yoke of Mongolian tyranny. Would compassion defeat the blood thirsty hordes. But there was no point in arguing with men like Zhang Sanfeng and Mingmu, so he kept his mouth shut. Taking his silence for consent, Mingmu turned to Zhang Sanfeng:

    Honourable Sir, now that we have decided on what to do with the Princess, our thought must turn to Zhiruo.

    Zhang Sanfeng nodded:

    Holy One is quite correct. Emai Mountain is not far from here and Abbess Miejue is an associate of mine. I propose to take Zhiruo there. Yuchan you are the closest thing Zhiruo has to family, what are your thoughts on the matter?

    As the cause of Zhiruos misfortune I should shoulder the responsibility of raising her. But my duties to my Cult means I have no fixed abode. True Master Zhangs proposal is most generous and benevolent and I offer you my most heartfelt gratitude.

    ####

    There is a way to make Qingshu leave you alone. said Baoxin.

    Sitting at their table, the children had been talking amongst themselves, with the exception of Minmin who just looked gloomily into her cup. In the course of their conversation, the subject of their home lives came up and Wuji had talked about his troubled relationship with Qingshu. Zhiruo gave him a comforting squeeze of the hand, while Baoxin caught Minmin darting sympathetic stares at Wuji:

    How? asked Wuji.

    You challenge and beat him publicly. answered Baoxin.

    You must be jesting? said Wuji.

    Not at all. From what you told me, this Qingshu is someone who takes great pride in being the son of Hero Song. So the best way he hurt him is to wound his pride.

    But I dont want to hurt him.

    Then you had better get use to being treated like scum! snapped Baoxin his eyes glaring in frustration.

    The other children eyes widened in shock at Baoxins outburst and no one dared speak. Finally after several uncomfortable moments, Baoxins eyes softened and he spoke in a calmer voice:

    You do not have to hurt him. Just best him at something publicly. This will let him know that he cannot bully you with impunity. Once he understands this he will leave you alone for fear of being humiliated again.

    Wuji thought over Baoxins words. Although he could not fault the logic of the plan, he was still loathed to carry it out. Qingshu was the only child of his uncle, a man whom he respected as much as his own late parents and he truly did not want to do anything that might hurt him. He pushed thoughts on the problem to the back of his mind, reasoning that there would be plenty of time to deal with it later. Instead when he spoke again he deliberately changed the subject to unimportant matters and was grateful when Baoxin did not push the matter.

    ####

    Baoxin escorted Minmin to the door of the courthouse:

    Well Princess, it seems that I must leave your delightful company. May your future be as bright as I know it will be.

    What? asked Minmin in confusion.

    You showed bravery in the face of danger. Dignity in conducting yourself. Compassion when dealing with Zhiruo. If you would learn a little humility then you will become a great leader to your people.

    Minmin was speechless. She never suspected that Baoxin thought so highly of her and the realisation of the fact made her feel strangely happy. As Baoxin turned to walk away she cried out after him:

    Wait!

    Baoxin turned around: Yes Princess?

    My name is Minmin Temur and I thank you for when you saved my life. Minmin said stiffly, trying to keep the shudder from her voice.

    Now you can add gratitude to your list of virtues. said Baoxin with a smile, before turning once more and continuing his departure.

    ####

    Yin Tianzheng stood on top of the fallen statue and smiled. Although celebrating his seventieth birthday, his skin still shone with vitality, his hair and thick beard were a healthy shade of speckled grey, while his prominent eyebrows stood out in their snowy white colour. He had the heavy set frame of a seasoned warrior but also a layer of fat, which was one of the few signs of his advanced years. His pose was relaxed as looked across the field of toppled statues and locked gazes with the only other living man within view.

    In his early thirties the man had a handsome clean shaven face. He had a tall well built stature hinted at him being a fighter but there was also a scholarly air about him that added a sophisticated veneer to his appearance. Like Yin Tianzheng his posture was relaxed but ready. Suddenly Yin Tianzheng shot thirty feet into the air, soaring high like the great eagle that was his namesake. Reaching the summit of his leap he dropped back down with the speed of a falling arrow, right hand thrust before him.

    Steel like fingers left five holes in the marble statue, narrowly missing the man that had stood there. Having darted away the man stepped lightly onto another statue just in time to see Yin Tianzheng lift the statue over his head. The statue weighed hundreds of pounds, but Yin Tianzheng held it up one-handed with seemingly little effort. With a roar he hurled the statue at his opponent, and it flew at him with devastating speed. The man held his open palms up, as if intending to catch the statue. Just as it seemed the statue was going to crush the man, it suddenly started to slow in its flight.

    Miraculously the statue stood suspended above the mans head as if caught in a cushion of air. The mans hands made a throwing motion and the statue flew back towards Yin Tianzheng with even greater speed than when he had thrown it. Yin Tianzhang lunged with both his hands and all ten of his fingers sank into the marble. Having caught the statue Yin Tianzheng then proceeded to use it as a battering ram and charged his opponent. Waves of invisible energy crashed into the statue and Yin Tianzheng felt like he was trying to push upstream against a river.

    Gritting his teeth he continued his charge never faltering for even an instant. His opponent lunged forward slamming both of his palms into the opposite side of the statue. The impact was too much for the marble statue and it exploded throwing both men backwards. Yin Tianzheng stood in a defensive stance and glared at his opponent who mirrored his posture. The stood as still as the statues surrounding them for several heartbeats, then together they threw back their heads and roared in laughter.

    Yin Tianzheng walked towards the man and extended his hand:

    Well done Left Emissary Yang.

    Yang Xiao took the hand in a warriors grip:

    My thanks Guardian King Yin, for the lesson. Yang Xiao replied politely.

    Not at all. It has been years since I have had such a good fight. I should thank you for the pleasure. said Yin Tianzheng sincerely.

    You are too kind Guardian King Yin.

    Come, let us return to my home. It would be unseemly if I am late for my own Birthday feast. said Yin Tianzheng with a chuckle.

    Yang Xiao nodded politely and allowed Yin Tianzheng to lead him back to the Yin Family Manor.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Chapter 5



    Yin Tianzheng took his seat at the front of main hall, to his left was Yang Xiao who sat on a chair carefully placed on exactly the same level as himself. As a representative of Bright Summit and the personal envoy of the Lord of the Ming Cult, it would have been politically disastrous to seat him lower than Yin Tianzheng. To Yin Tianzhengs right was an empty seat, which he stared at with a frown. The Yin family bent their knees to their patriarch and gave him their well wishes. Yin Tianzheng dragged his gaze away from the empty chair and towards his family.

    At the front was his son and only surviving child, Yin Yewang. In his late thirties the man had a lean but strong build, his face sported a moustache that gave him a matured look. To either side of him knelt his sons, two boys not yet in their teens. Behind the menfolk were the female members of the family, Yin Yewangs daughter and his concubine. Yin Tianzhegs stare lingered on his granddaughter Yin Li. The girl was ten years old and had a pair of rosy cheeks on her otherwise plain face. Yin Tianzheng had not seen her for nearly a year, for she lived at Bright Summit, officially as the apprentice of the Lord of the Ming Cult but in reality she was a hostage that guaranteed Yin Tianzhengs continued loyalty.

    While he resented the control, Yin Tianzheng was also grateful for the arrangement. The girls absent mother was at the Clear Jade Springs, hoping that its healing waters would restore her failing health. Due to the womans condition, Yin Yewang had decided to take a concubine in order to ensure male issue for his family. Not surprisingly this had caused a straining in the relationship between father and daughter, which may well have turned violent had Yin Li not been placed at Bright Summit. Yin Tianzheng pushed thoughts of such problems to the back of his mind and gestured for his family to rise.

    As the family rose a herald hurried into the hall and bowed to Yin Tianzheng:

    My Lord, True Master Zhang and Young Lord Zhang await your pleasure.

    Yin Tianzhengs face split into a wide grin and rising from his seat he ran outside.

    ####

    Wuji! The boy turned at hearing his name and saw his grandfather come running towards him.

    Wuji found himself swept off his feet and spun in the air, his grandfathers booming laughter ringing in his ears. Lowering the boy to eye level, Yin Tianzheng hugged him tightly and only let go when he heard the polite coughing of Zhang Sanfeng. Putting his grandson down, Yin Tianzheng turned and bowed politely to the priest:

    True Master Zhang, please forgive my bad manners.

    Not at all Brother Yin, it is I who should ask for your pardon for arriving so late to the celebrations. replied Zhang Sanfeng as he returned the bow.

    Yin Tianzheng let out a good natured chuckle as he patted Wuji on the head:

    You have brought me this dear boy, for that I can forgive a thousand offences.

    Zhang Sanfeng laughed along with his host and they turned to go into the manor.

    ####

    The Hall of was a hive of activity, with guests flooding in and servants rushing about seeing to their comfort. At the front of the Hall sat the host Yin Tianzheng, with Zhang Sanfeng and Yan Xiao sitting to his right and left respectively. Yin Tianzheng smiled doting as he saw Wuji take two sticks of candy from a servant and pass one to Yin Li. Despite this being the first meeting between the cousins, they had taken an instant liking to each other, which gladden their grandfathers heart. A herald made his way passed the crowd and bowed at Yin Tianzhengs foot before whispering into his Lords ear. Yin Tianzheng nodded his head and the herald hurried back outside.

    After a few moments later the herald returned followed by a man and a woman. The man was middle aged, of normal height and build. He wore the hat and robes of a physician and had a short beard. The woman was of the same age as the man and dressed in a matronly dark blue robe. On reaching the foot of Yin Tianzhengs seat the herald announced them as Hu Qingniu and his wife Wang Nangu. The two of them bowed politely to their host who nodded back and formally welcomed them to the feast.

    ####

    Zhang Sanfeng fussed over Wujis collar and hair for the tenth time. He knew that he was only delaying the inevitable but could help himself. When the boy had voiced his wish to apprentice himself to Hu Qingniu, Zhang Sanfeng had been shocked. He had asked the boy why he would want such a thing and Wuji had explained that he wished to study medicine under the famous physician in the hopes of finding a remedy for his third uncle. At first Zhang Sanfeng had tried to dissuade the boy, saying that the physician had a strong dislike for anyone not of the Ming Cult and would not take him. Wuji however had responded by saying this his maternal grandfather had already gained the mans agreement, provided that Zhang Sanfeng had no objections.

    The mention of Yin Tianzheng had roused Zhang Sanfengs suspicions. The thought that this might be a plot to induce Wuji into the Ming Cult crossed the priests mind and he nearly voiced his concern. Wuji however had anticipated this and Zhang Sanfeng smiled as he remembered the boys words:

    Tai Sifu, I am and will always be an apprentice of Wudang. I swear that I will never take any actions that will bring shame to you or our school.

    The boys heartfelt declaration had allayed Zhang Sanfengs fears and he dismissed his earlier thoughts as unworthy. Even if he could not bring himself to completely trust the Ming Cult, he had absolute confidence in Wuji. Having made up his mind, Zhang Sanfeng had spent the next ten days teaching Wuji the Qi formula for the third and fourth levels of the Nine Yang Divine Skill. It would take the boy years to master the arts but by memorising the formula he would be able to practice it without his Tai Sifu and so treat his injuries.

    Once Zhang Sanfeng was convinced that Wuji had committed the formula to heart he declared the boy ready to travel. Now standing at the gate of Yin Manor, the priest found himself wishing that Wuji was just a little less clever than he was. Then he would have taken longer to memorise the formula and so allowing Zhang Sanfeng to keep him for longer. Suppressing a sigh, the priest gave Wuji a pat on the cheek, handed the boy his travel sack, then watched him walk away with Hu Qingnui and his wife.

    ####

    Wang Nangu opened the door to see her husband slumped asleep in his chair, while Wuji was leaning over a desk full of bottles and books. The boy was slowly pouring the contents of one bottle into another and quickly noting down his observations into a book. Wang Nangu smiled at the familiar scene. She would often find the two of them working deep into the night on some experiment, with the boy continuing long after exhaustion had claimed her husband. This diligent was one of the reasons why both Wang Nangu and Hu Qingnui had grown so found of Wuji in the last three years.

    The boy seemed tireless in his studies and coupled with his great intelligent he had made great progress in his studies. At first they had only taken him on as a favour to his maternal grandfather but now they saw him as the son they never had and freely shared their vast store of knowledge with him. Wuji showed great interest in all forms of medicine, especially in the field of bone and tendon treatment. The experiment he was working on now was an attempt to recreate the legendary Black Jade Paste, a medicine which was said to have miraculous healing properties.

    Wuji carefully mixed the contents of the bottle until he was happy with its consistency, then reaching into a cage he pulled out a small white rabbit. He had found the creature a month ago, limping in the fields, one of its hind legs having been broken beyond the means of conventional medicine to heal. Wuji had carefully nursed it back to health and now used it as his test subject. He applied a thin layer of the paste onto the damaged leg them carefully bandaged the rabbit up before placing it back into the cage.

    Wang Nangu gently nudged her husband awake:

    Old man, what have I told you about making Wuji work all night?

    You try telling him to go to bed when hes working. retorted Hu Qingnui as he woke with a yawn.

    Wuji turned to the couple and gave them one of his warm smiles that never failed to lighten their hearts:

    Breakfast is ready, both of you go wash up. Wuji, I want you to go straight to bed after eating. Wuji opened his mouth to speak but Wang Nangu raised a hand to cut him off No argument. She said in a tone that made it clear this was not a request.

    ####

    The three of then talked happily over breakfast, with Wuji telling his mentors about his experiments and them making suggestions on how he could improve his method. The tranquil scene was broken by the cries of a child and the three of them rushed outside to find its cause. At the door was a girl of around ten, she knelt crying loudly beside the unmoving body of a woman. Wujis eyes widened in surprise as he recognised the unconscious woman:

    Aunt Ji! he cried in shock.

    Wuji, you know this woman? asked Hu Qingnui.

    Yes sir, she is Ji Xiaofu of Emei.

    She is an apprentice of the orthodox schools! barked Hu Qingnui.

    Thats not important now. Wuji look after the child, I will take the woman inside. ordered Wang Nangu.

    No. I will not treat anyone not of the Ming Cult. stated Hu Qingnui

    Old man, you only made the stupid rule for fear of treating someone that I might have poisoned. It is obvious that this woman is not one of my victims.

    But my rule...

    Either you keep your stupid rule or keep me. Your choice. declared Wang Nangu.

    Hu Qingnui looked from his wife to Ji Xiaofu, then back again. His face puffed up red in frustration. His wife met his gaze defiantly, daring him to refuse her. Hu Qingnui dropped his stare first and sighed in defeat:

    Fine bring her in then. he said as he turned and stomped back inside.

    ####

    Wuji dried the girls tears as she gazed at the couch where Hu Qingnui was treating Ji Xiaofu:

    Dont worry she is going to be fine. Mister Hu is the best physician in the world. Wuji said with a reassuring smile.

    The girl looked at him, her large eyes full of fear. Wuji continued smiling:

    My name is Zhang Wuji, whats yours?

    Yang Buhui. she answered quietly.

    Buhui? I pretty name for a pretty girl. said Wuji, his gentle compliment eliciting a tiny smile from the girl.

    Hu Qingnui removed the silver needle from Ji Xiaofu, then wiped it clean before placing it back in his box:

    Well, how is she? asked Wang Nangu.

    Shes fine. I have expelled the poison from her body. I will write a prescription later, have Wuji prepare the medicine and she will recover in a few days. He said moodily, obviously still put out by being forced to treat the woman.

    Wang Nangu ignored her husbands tone and checked Ji Xiaofus pulse herself. Her eyebrows rose in surprise:

    Emei Luxin (Bleeding Heart) poison! She was attacked by her own school. declared Wang Nangu

    Precisely. Did I not say that people from those so called orthodox schools cannot be trusted. Look at what they do to one of their own.

    Not so loud. cautioned Wang Nangu as she looked over her shoulder to make sure Wuji had not heard. She let out a sigh of relief as she saw him busily feeding the girl some rise porridge.

    We will let them stay until she has recovered. Wang Nangu

    So much for my reputation then. snapped Hu Qingnui.

    Oh stop complaining. It was stupid title anyway. Whoever heard of a physician famous for seeing death, but walking by.

    Hu Qingnu opened his mouth for a retort, but clamped it shut as his wife gave him a withering glare. Dropping his gaze he stomped out of the room.

  9. #9
    Senior Member yanfeng's Avatar
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    Hey, HSDS is my favorite Jinyong story but I've never read fanfiction on it before so I'm thrilled to read this!

    In addition (as pluses in my book!) it features my fav character (Zhaomin) much earlier in the story than in the books/dramas, and love how strong and proud she is but clearly conflicted about the idea of killing. (Also she has a very precocious interest in little Wuji, cute! )

    Keep up the great work, and I'm looking forward to reading more ahead!
    Last edited by yanfeng; 02-15-17 at 11:54 AM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yanfeng View Post
    Hey, HSDS is my favorite Jinyong story but I've never read fanfiction on it before so I'm thrilled to read this!

    In addition (as pluses in my book!) it features my fav character (Zhaomin) much earlier in the story than in the books/dramas, and love how strong and proud she is but clearly conflicted about the idea of killing. (Also she has a very precocious interest in little Wuji, cute! )

    Keep up the great work, and I'm looking forward to reading more ahead!

    Thanks for the kind words. Currently trying to decide whether to continue this story or work more on Road to Mount Hua.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Chapter 6



    Miejue entered the room and bolted the heavy iron door behind her. Set deep in the monastery, the room had no windows or outer walls and now with the the only door closed it, was completely sealed from the outside world. It was a spacious room but sparsely furnished. There were racks of lit candles on three of the four walls, and a single prayer mat sat in the centre of the floor. Set against the wall facing the door was an elegant wooden stand which held a sheathed sword.

    The Abbess crossed the room swiftly and ran her fingers gently along the scabbard of the long straight blade. The width of the scabbard was as wide as a mans palm, hinting at the size of the blade within. Such a blade was much larger than those normally wielded by people of the Martial Arts World, indicating that this sword was meant for use on the battlefield, where its great size would cleave through armour as well as flesh. Miejues fingers reached the Han style guard, elegantly shaped to combine aesthetic beauty with brutal functionality. Her fingers continued travelling, brushing the two handed hilt and stopping at the pommel.

    The surface of the pommel had the image of a slumbering panther carved onto it and Miejues fingers lingered on the pattern for a moment. Gently she lifted her hand and removed a metal ring from her right forefinger. This was the ring of the Abbess of the Emei and represented the authority of the office. Made from a single piece of soot-gold it was shaped into a sleeping panther. The ring fit perfectly into the pommel and Miejue turned the secret key until she heard the hidden lock click free. Removing the pommel the Abbess reached into the hilt and pulled out several sheets of silk as long as the length of the blade.

    Laying the sheets carefully around the mat, the Abbess sat down cross-legged and studied them. She had long committed the text to heart but still found it reassuring to have it in front of her, when she practised the amazing Arts that they detailed. The handwriting was beautiful, appearing delicate but holding great inner strength, like the branches of a peach tree, thin yet strong enough to endure even the harshest conditions. Miejue closed her eyes and and cleared her mind in preparation.

    Her breathing became very shallow, her chest barely moving at all. Slowly she began the Qi cultivation method that she had learned from the silk sheets. Power rushed into her, flowing quickly into her abdomen. She felt the area expand rapidly, becoming vast beyond imagination as it took in the massive rush of power. It was an intoxicating feeling, almost godlike in its intensity, filling her with almost limitless power. Just as the build up of power was reaching its zenith, Miejue felt a pressure in her chest. At first it was nothing, no more painful than a pinprick but it quickly got much worst. Miejue tried to push pass the pain but the harder she tried and greater the pain got, until finally she could stand it no more and was forced to stop.

    Panting heavily Miejue glared at the silk sheets, fury burning in her eyes. She had began studying the Nine Yin Manual in her thirties, when her Sifu had revealed the secrets of the Yitian Sword to her. Unfortunately in her eagerness to master the Art, Miejue had pushed her body too far, almost dying from fire deviation and it was only with the intervention of her Sifu that she had managed to survive at all. Unfortunately in saving Miejue, her Sifu had caused her own death, thus allowing Miejue to become the head of Emei. Ever since that event Miejue had found her cultivation of the Art stunted, preventing her from ever achieving the highest level in it.

    For more than twenty years she had tried to overcome this barrier but without success. That was until she had taken in Ji Xiaofu. The girl had all he qualities needed to study the art, intelligence, diligence but most importantly she was unwaveringly loyal and Miejue had seriously considered teaching the Art to her favourite apprentice. In so doing Miejue would not only ensure the continuation of the Art but also have the means to her own recovery, for once Xiaofu had mastered the Art, she could use it to treat Miejue. However, there was one quality that the girl possessed that turned out to be a curse, her beauty.

    First came the marriage proposal from Wudang. Initially Miejue had been tempted to decline. However she later came to see the advantages of such a marriage. Not only would she gain the alliance of Wudang but she would also have a trusted apprentice with access to the Nine Yang Divine Skill, one of the few arts that could rival the Nine Yin Divine Skill. The opportunity was too good to pass by. Then that ungrateful brat had betrayed her and fallen in love with that devil Yang Xiao. Miejue had sent people to hunt down her traitorous apprentice but so far their efforts had met with failure. Forcing her frustration down, Miejue returned the silk sheets to their hiding place and went to unbolt the door.

    ####

    Miejue strolled in and took her seat at the front of the Hall. The few dozen Emei apprentices fell to their knees to greet the Abbess. Despite her appearance as a small, slightly plump matron, Miejues presence caused a tremor of fear amongst her apprentices. Casting her unwavering gaze at the kneeling figures, the Abbess took note of their trembling forms and knew that Ji Xiaofu had still not been found. Suddenly there was a disturbance at the other end of the Hall and Miejue lifted her gaze to see Ding Minjun walking in.

    The Emei apprentice walked with head held high and a smug smile on her face. Miejue felt instantly irritated at the sight of her. In many ways Minjun was a good apprentice, obedient, unquestioning and utterly ruthless in carrying out her orders. Unfortunately she was also selfish, of limited intelligent and on account of her own plain features, famously jealous of anyone of fair appearance. Her pettiness made her very unpopular amongst the other apprentices and Miejue only tolerated her as she did all the dirty work the Abbess could not be seen doing.

    Minjun stopped a respectful distance from her Sifu and bowed deeply:

    Sifu, I have found her. she said loud enough for everyone in the Hall to hear.

    Miejue knew exactly to whom she was referring and a predatory smile spread across her lips. The smile was so frightening that it caused Minjuns smug expression to drop and be replaced by a look of utter terror.

    ####

    Xiaofu smiled dotingly as she watched Wuji play with her daughter. Buhui laughed as Wuji placed her on his shoulders, so that she could catch the butterflies flying around. The colourful insects, from which the valley got its name, were hovering overhead like a wonderful multicoloured cloud and delighting the children trying to catch them. Footsteps came from behind and Xiaofu turned to see Nangu walking towards her. The older woman sat down beside her and watched the children with a smile that matched Xiaofus:

    They are wonderful arent they? I only wished they were mine.

    Xiaofu nodded without thinking, sharing the moment in silence. Suddenly the butterflies scattered in all directions, as if they had been attacked by some invisible predator. Buhui let out a cry of disappointment:

    Wuji gege, what happened? Where are my butterflies?

    Wuji let her down and looked around in confusion. By this time the women had got to their feet having detected a malevolent taint in the air. They knew that it was this taint which had caused the butterflies to flee and that whomever was creating it had immense Qi presence, along with a powerful murderous aura. Xiaofu gasped as she saw a group of people walk towards the cottage. There was about a dozen of them and at the head was here Sifu, Abbess Miejue. Xiaofus face turned frightening pale and her shoulders started trembling for she knew that it was her Sifu that had caused the taint in the air.

    The children ran away from the approaching group. Buhui clutched at her mothers dress:

    Momma, who are they?

    Hush child. Wuji, please go inside with Buhui. said Xiaofu.

    But momma...

    Please Buhui. Buhui noticed the fear in her mothers voice and looking up saw the tears tugging at the womans eyes. Thinking that it was her disobedience that was causing the distress Buhui allowed herself to be lead away.

    When the children were out of sight Xiaofu dropped to her knees, head bowed in shame:

    Sifu she said in a whisper.

    You still dare to call me that?. said Miejue, her voice thick with menace.

    Nangu moved to Xiaofus side:

    Abbess Miejue. she said in greeting and inclined her head in respect.

    The Abbess ignored the greeting and continued to glare at her wayward apprentice:

    So it is not enough that you made a bastard offspring with that devil Yang Xiao, but nwo you are living with members of the Demonic Cult!

    Nangus face turned red at the indignation of having her religion mocked, but just as she was about to retort her husbands voice came from the cottage:

    This is Butterfly Valley, not Emei Mountain and Lady Ji is my patient. I do not know, nor do I care what is between the two of you, but in this valley you will watch your tongue. snapped Hu Qingniu as he stepped into the garden.

    Mister Hu, Madam Hu, I appreciate your concern but this a personal matter between me and my Sifu. Please do not involve yourselves.

    Qingniu took a step forward but his wifes hand fell on his shoulder. Nangu gave him a little shake of the head then indicated that they should go inside. Her husband gave Miejue a last angry glare then allowed himself to be lead inside. Discretely husband and wife kept watch on the garden through a window, far enough away to be out of earshot. They saw Miejue lean close to Xiaofu and whisper something in her ear. Xiaofu shook her head violently clearly unwilling to agree to whatever her Sifu had said.

    This movement visibly angered Miejue and she raised her hand. She spoke once more to Xiaofu but again her apprentice shook her head. The palm came down with the force of a blacksmiths hammer and Xiaofus skull cracked so loudly that Qingniu and Nangu could hear it:

    No! shouted Nangu as the leapt into the garden. The Emei apprentices made to bar her way. Nangu waved her arm and a thin layer of yellow powder flew from her sleeve. Miejue leapt away but some of the powder struck her robe, her apprentices were less fortunate and were covered in it. Qingniu followed in wifes wake and let out an ear-piercing whistle. Suddenly the beating of thousands of tiny wings filled the air and looking up Miejue saw a thick cloud of red butterflies come swooping down.

    The butterflies swarmed around her apprentices, their tiny mouths biting into the parts of their skin that had been touched by the powder. Where the butterflies bit, the skin blackened, then swelled up before bursting with sickly pus. Her apprentices screamed as they succumbed to the deadly swarm and Miejue looked in horror as the butterflies started heading towards her. She dragged Yitian from its scabbard and channelled her Qi into the blade. The sword shone a blinding white and Miejue whipped it around her body creating a glittering dome.

    The first butterflies that struck the dome were torn to shreds, their tattered remains blowing away in the breeze. Suddenly the dome expanded outwards quickly covering the entire garden and destroying the remaining butterflies. Qingniu threw himself in front of his wife, trying to shield her from the deadly light. For a split second he was engulfed in a sea of purest white, then his body was torn to ribbons. Mercifully his death was instantaneous and he did not have to witness the same fate befalling to his wife.

    Miejue blinked hard, adjusting her eyes to the change of light as her dome dissipated. When her vision had cleared she ran into the cottage, intent on silencing the children. Quickly she searched every room but could not find Yang Xioas spawn or the boy. Concluding that they must have fled she rushed outside hoping to catch them before they could make good their escape.

    ####

    Wuji watched the Abbess from the spy hole. Qingniu had told him to take Buhui to the secret room and Wuji was grateful that he did. When he was sure that the Abbess had left, he opened the concealed door and ran to the garden carrying Buhui in his arms. He kept the girls face close to his chest, shielding her from seeing the piles of dead bodies. He went to where Xiaofus body lay. Buhui screamed and struggled in Wujis arm trying desperately to go to her mother. Wuji held the girl tight with one arm and gently nudged Xiaofu with the other. To his surprise the woman drew a slow painful breath.

    Swiftly he took her pulse, then lightly pressed a few acupoints before putting his hand on her forehead and gently channelling his Qi into her. Xiaofus eyes fluttered, then opened and Wuji withdrew his palm:

    Aunt Ji, just hold on.

    Its no use Wuji. she replied weakly, as she painfully lifted her right hand and caressed Buhuis cheek. The girl held her mothers hand, while her eyes wept uncontrollably. Tearing her gaze from her daughter Xiaofu met Wujis eyes:

    Wuji...please take Buhui...to...her father...Yang Xiao.

    Aunt Ji I will take both of you to him. Just hold on. promised Wuji, his voice thick with suppressed emotions.

    He is le..left emis... said Xiaofu as she struggled to speak.

    Left Emissary of the Ming Cult. I know Aunt Ji, we met once at my grandfathers birthday. Wuji said.

    Xiafu smiled, and turned once more to her daughter. She opened her mouth as if to speak but suddenly the light went from her eyes and she could speak no more. Buhui screamed and Wuji held her as tight as he dared, as if by sheer force of will he could shield her from the pain of seeing her mother die.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Chapter 7



    Chang Yuchun nodded to Zhu Yuanzhang, who answered in the same way. Lifting up a heavy barrel each they walked towards the soldiers:

    Cold tea for sale! Fresh and sweet! they shouted at the top of their voices.

    It was not long before the soldiers called them over. Yuanzhang had timed things perfectly, making sure that they appeared when the midday Sun was at its hottest. Swiftly the pair ladled the tea into wooden cups and passed them to the soldiers, who greedily drank them down. Yuanzhang made a show of asking for payment but the soldiers either ignored or mocked him. Yuanzhang dipped his head depressingly and Yuchun admired at how easily the man played the role of a downtrodden peasant.

    When each of the soldiers had had their fill of tea the pair made their way to the commander, whose rank was marked by being the only soldier on horseback:

    Sir, can we be paid now? asked Yuanzhang sheepishly, his eyes fixed firmly on the ground.

    The commanders laugh bellowed out:

    Of course you can. as he said so, the commander raised his horse riding whip and brought it down on Yuanzhangs shoulder with a loud crack.

    Yunazhang fell to his knees and Yuchun crouched down to catch him:

    Let that be a lesson to you Han dogs. Everything you have belong to us Mongol. declared the commander to the cheering of his men.

    Coming to his feet Yuanzhang looked up and smiled at the commander:

    My thanks for the payment sir. Here is your change.

    The commander lifted his whip once more, then suddenly dropped it and clutched at his stomach. The man struggled for breath, his stomach feeling like it was being ripped apart. He heard cries of pain all around him and looking up he saw his soldiers rolling on the ground in pain. The commander tried to sit upright but the pain was too intense and it was not long before he was in the dirt with his men. Weakly he looked up and saw the pair of peasants looking down at him, with wicked smiles on their lips.

    ####

    Yuchun watched the last of the soldiers succumb to the poison then turned smiling to Yuanzhang. His smile dropped as he saw the man looking over his shoulder in surprise. Spinning around he saw a young man, in his mid teens holding hands with a little girl of around ten. Quickly Yuchun reached into his jacket and pulled out a dagger. Hearing the rustle of clothing from behind he knew that Yuanzhang had done the same. Together they stepped menacingly forwards, intent of silencing the witnesses:

    Chang Dage shouted the boy.

    Yuchun stopped in mid step and held up a hand to halt Yuanzhang. How did this boy know his name? He looked closely at the lad. There was something familiar about him, but what?:

    I am Wuji, Zhang Wuji. The boy shouted.

    A look of shock filled Yuchuns face. Quickly he hid his dagger and beckoned Yunazhang to do the same.

    ####

    Delicately she plucked the flower and placed it in her basket. A gentle smile lit her pretty face as she looked inside. Dozens of flowers each a different shade of purple filled it and her smile broadened as she pictured her mothers face. Today was a very special day and she had decided to come and gather flowers in her mothers favourite colour to celebrate it. Although her mother would most likely scold her for sneaking out, it would be worth it just to see the smile she knew she would get.

    Something disturbed the bushes behind her and she whipped around, her blue eyes scanning her surroundings with the sharpness of an eagle. A little girl, no more than ten appeared. Her little face looked up in shock as she met those hard blue eyes and she screamed at how fierce they looked. Turning quickly she made to run away but tripped over her own feet. Closing her eyes she braced herself to smash face first into the mud but instead a pair of hands caught her round the waist. Opening her eyes she looked up at the face of a girl in her mid teens. Pretty to the point of breathtaking, her blue eyes which just a moment ago had appeared so terrifying, had now taken on a comforting softness:

    Are you all right? asked the older girl, her voice as perfect as her face.

    Footsteps came from the bushes and the girls looked up to see three men approaching. Two were middle aged, one had the heavy build of a fighter, while the other was dressed in the robes of a monk. The last was in his teens, slim of build but tall of stature:

    Wuji gege. shouted the younger girl as she squirmed out of the supporting hands and ran towards the teenage boy.

    The older men dropped to their knees and dipped their heads, refusing to meet the blue eyes staring at them:

    My lady. The two of them said together.

    Wuji took Buhui in his arms and stared at the young woman, whom his companions were kneeling to, wondering just who she was.

    ####

    Daiqisi sat on her gilded throne and waited for her guests. Crafted to resemble a chair of flames, the throne glowed in the light of the sacred fire burning behind it, creating a halo of divine light that surrounded its occupant. Dressed in her formal robes of gold and purple, Daiqisi was as radiant as her seat. Yet as brilliant as her clothes and throne were, they paled in comparison to her beauty. Lush black hair framed a flawless heart shaped face, which supported a pair of large blue eyes that justified her title as the first beauty of the Martial Arts world.

    Standing to her right was her apprentice Yin Li. The girl had grown to be a fine looking young woman, infamous throughout Bright Summit for her fiery temper, the girl had never the less won Daiqisis affection, who found her honest straightforward nature endearing. Below the throne were Yang Xiao and Fan Yao, who sat on wooden chairs to the left and right of Daiqisi respectively. Like her the men were dressed in their formal robes of office, Yang Xiao in gold and Fan Yao in silver. Daiqisi saw Fan Yao look up longing at her and smiled back.

    She had drawn him in with her beauty and bound him with her body. His support had been vital in her bid to be ruler of the cult and his devotion ever since was absolute. It had been a decade and a half since they became intimate but his passion for her had never diminished. While she found him a pleasurable and handsome lover, whenever she was in his arms she always thought of another. Taking her gaze away from him, she looked towards Yang Xiao. In his way he was as attractive as Fan Yao and the two of them were collectively known as the Emissaries of Male Beauty.

    The strongest opposition to her reign had come from Yang Xiao and even now relationships between them were often strained. However he was utterly loyal to the cult and so long as he believed she acted in its interest he would tolerate her. Looking pass the Emissaries she saw Yin Tianzheng and Wei Yixiao. Daiqisi mind filled with pleasant memories of sibling affection as she looked at them. The three of them were sworn siblings and both men had always looked upon her with the doting eyes of elder brothers. Her smile fell however as she recalled the missing member of her siblings.

    She owed her position as much to Xie Xun as she did to Fan Yao and she dearly missed his presence. Of all the members of the cult she was closest to him and she had confided all of her secrets to Xie Xun, including the ones that could have ruined her. Unfortunately he had disappeared after the massacre of his family and although Daiqisi had spared no effort in searching for him he had remained missing. Looking further down the she saw the Five Wonderers and the Five Elemental heads standing in line to the right and left of the Hall respectively. These two groups symbolised the the dual elements of chaos and order that controlled all of existence. Here under her rule they were brought into perfect harmony.

    Despite this assembly of almost every prominent member of the cult, there was one absentee that had Daiqisi concerned. Just as she was contemplating sending Yin Li to go look for her, Xiaozhao appeared. Wearing a purple-gold dressed that mirrored Daiqisis, she slipped into the Hall from a side door. The girl stopped dead as her mothers angry glare hit her. Lowering her gaze, Xiaozhao looked up with the eyes of a frightened puppy. Daiqisis stare softened instantly as she saw the look on her daughters face.

    Her husband had often given her that look when he was alive. Han Qianye had been a wonderful man. Soft and gentle like a summer breeze. They had married in secret, with only Xie Xun knowing about it. Their time together had been all too brief but had created the wonderful girl that stood before her now. How could she possibly stay angry at her lovely daughter. Seeing her mother thaw, Xiaozhao stepped up to the throne and whispered into her ear. Forcing her face to remain calm, Daiqisi nodded slowly, then told her daughter to take her position to the left of the throne.

    A blast of horns drew everyones attention to the end of the Hall. Two men and one woman entered the Hall. The men wore richly coloured robes and turbans, both were middle aged and bearded, one had red fiery facial hair, while the other had greying blonde hair. The woman was about the same age as the men and veiled revealing little of her features. Daiqisi felt a stab of emotions at seeing the clothing of her homeland but forced her face to remain impassive. Moving at a dignified pace the Three Messengers walked the length of the Hall before stopping a respectful distance from the throne.

    All three bowed deeply, then the woman holding a large golden box stepped forward:

    Mighty Mistress of Chinas Ming Cult. We bring greetings from your sister, the Divine Mistress of the Central Persian Ming Cult. The woman spoke in perfect Chinese and in a voice loud enough for the entire Hall to hear.

    Daiqisi inclined her head accepting the greeting and the woman continued:

    As a sign of my Mistress eternal friendship with your illustrious self we offer this humble gift. she said as she held the box forward.

    Daiqisi nodded to Xianzhao who stepped down and took the box. Returning to her position at her mothers side she opened the box. Inside were three sceptres, each the length and thickness of a mans forearm. The sceptres all appeared to be made of gold and were identical except in one respect. The head of each sceptre was shaped into rising flames and had strange writing on them. One was coloured yellow, another blue and the last red. Daiqisi fought down the urge to reach out and grasp the Holy Tablets. Before her were the most sacred artefacts of her Cult and the means to cementing her rule.

    Tearing her gaze away she addressed the Messengers:

    Please convey my gratitude to my August Sister. Her generosity overwhelms me. Please accept this small token of my infinite respect for he. So saying Daiqisi nodded to Yin Lin.

    Holding a scroll of golden silk the young woman stepped down and held it reverently towards the speaker of the Messengers. The woman took the scroll with equal reverence then gently unrolled it. Her eyes widened in awe as she marvelled at the script written inside. Here was the lost secret art of the Ming Cult, the Heaven and Earth Great Shift. For over a hundred years it had been the dream of every member of the Persian Ming Cult to retrieve this sacred art. The magnitude of what she held in her hand struck her and she feared she might swoon. Forcing her mind to remain calm she rolled the scroll up and bowed to Daiqisi:

    Mighty Mistress, on behalf of your Divine sister I thank you for your priceless gift. Your generosity is overwhelming and I will deliver your gift at once.

    Daiqisi fought to keep the smile from her lips. She was not surprised at the womans response. Although she had given them the greatest treasure, the price had been her freedom. In exchange for the sacred art the Persian Ming Cult had not only agreed to return the Holy Tablets but also to relinquish their hold on her. All twelve Guardian Kings of the Persian Ming Cult had agreed that no action would ever be taken against her or her family for her betraying her sacred vows of chastity. As proof of their good will, she had demanded they elect a new Sacred Maiden to the rank of Mistress of the Cult.

    Desire for the sacred art and pragmatic understanding that Daiqisi, now as the Mistress of Chinas Ming Cult was untouchable, had made them agree, but that did not mean that there was no resentment with the Persians and Daiqisi knew that a lot of effort will need to be expended before relationships between them returned to normal. She dismissed the Messengers with a nod and the three of them backed out of the Hall. When the Persians had left Daiqisi turned to Yin Lin and nodded. Speaking in a loud, clear voice the girl announced the end of the audience. Daiqisi rose to her feet and everyone else dropped to their knees as she left the Hall.

    ####

    Yang Xiao entered the antechamber to find Yin Tianzheng already waiting their. The men exchanged greetings:

    Emissary Yang, do you know why the Divine Mistress would want to see us? asked Yin Tianzheng.

    I have no idea Guardian Yin. Her dau I mean apprentice approached me as I was leaving the Hall and told me to wait here for the Mistress.

    Yin Tianzheng frowned at Yang Xiaos near slip. Although Xiaozhaos parentage was an open secret, it would not do to discuss the matter in public. Shrugging off his annoyance Yin Tianzheng looked around the room. It was a good size room and could hold a dozen people comfortably. Cushioned chairs and tables were carefully arranged for the guests comfort but both men preferred to stand. This was where the Cults Mistress conducted private matters, far from the prying eyes of others and both of them felt a little uneasy being here.

    Daiqisi entered the room followed by a boy and a girl. The boy was in his mid teens and Yin Tianzheng was sure he knew him. The girl looked around ten and was clutching the boys leg, her eyes looking around in fear:

    Gentlemen, I am glad you accepted my invitation. There is a delicate matter that I must discuss with both of you. said the Divine Mistress.

    The men saluted their Mistress then waited silently for her to continue:

    Guardian Yin, may I present young grandson, young sir Zhang Wuji. Emissary Yang, let me introduce your daughter, lady Yang Buhui.

    Both men looked in wide-eyed astonishment at the Divine Mistress then the children, unable to take in the shocking words

    ####

    Yang Xiao held his daughter, fighting back the tears that threatened to overwhelm him. Looking down he stared into her eyes. They were so much like her mothers that it made his heart ache just to look at them. Wuji had told them of what had occurred at Butterfly Valley and Yang Xiao had felt his heart break as he listened to Xiaofus last moments. Guilt, sadness, remorse and anger all flooded into him at once. He wanted to both lash out and lay down to die at the same time. How could she be dead? How could Miejue be so cruel to her own apprentice? Yang Xiao wanted to grab Wuji by the shoulders and shake the boy until he confessed that it was all a lie.

    But looking into the scared eyes of his daughter he knew it was true. Buhui he said the name over and over again in his mind. No regrets, how could Xiaofu have no regrets after everything he had done to her. He did not deserve the love of such a wonderful woman, or so beautiful a daughter. Forcing down his torrent of emotions he tore his gaze away from Buhui and turned to Wuji, who was standing beside his grandfather:

    Young sir. I thank you for what you have done. If there is anything can do to repay you have but to name it.

    To Yang Xiaos surprise the young mans face clouded over in anger:

    Emissary Yang, I did what was right. I neither require or deserve any reward. Wuji said his voice stern with indignation.

    Yin Tianzheng placed a hand on his grandsons shoulder, his winkled face beaming with pride. Yang Xiao inclined his head to them:

    Young sir, your words humble me. Guardian Yin, my congratulations to you for having such a wonderful grandson. If either of you ever require my services, please do not hesitate to ask.

    Yin Tianzheng nodded his head accepting the gesture, then he and Wuji turned to leave. Buhui broke away from Yang Xiaos arms and ran forward, throwing herself into Wujis arms:

    Wuji gege! Dont leave me! the girl screamed through her tears.

    Gently Wuji wiped away her tears:

    Buhui. He is your father. Your mother wanted you to be with him. You dont want to make her sad do you? Wuji spoke quietly coaxing the girl to let go. Reluctantly she released her grip and walked slowly back to her father, while constantly casting puppy-eyed looks at Wuji. When father and daughter were united once more, Wuji turned and left.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Chapter 8



    Zhang Sanfeng took a sip of his tea as he digested Wujis words. He had been surprised when he had received Yin Tianzhengs message that Wuji was at Bright Summit but that was nothing compared to the shock of discovering what had happened at Butterfly Valley. Wujis maternal grandfather had personally escorted him back to Wudang and was now resting in a guest room. Zhang Sanfeng had taken the boy to his private chambers to find out what had happened. Naturally Zhang Sanfeng had been appalled by Miejues cruelty but not surprised.

    The Abbess had always been a person of extremes, with little room in her heart for compromise and even less for compassion. Zhang Sanfeng wished he had been at Butterfly Valley to prevent the tragedy. Even now he was tempted to go to Emei and demand justice for Ji Xiaofu but decided against it. It would be unseemly for the heads of two powerful schools to bicker but more importantly this was an internal matter of Emei and no matter what his feelings, he really had no right to intervene. Putting down his cup he turned to Wuji:

    Wuji, do not let your Liu Shu (Sixth Uncle) know about this.

    The boy nodded, understanding the reason for his Taisifus words. Zhang Sanfeng dismissed the boy, then alone he let the pain in his heart show on his face. The fate of Ji Xiaofu had brought back memories of Zhang Cuishan. His apprentice had also fallen in love with the wrong person and paid the ultimate price. Now there was another pair of tragic lovers and another orphaned child. The priest shook his head at the folly of it all. When will people realise that we are all the same? Was it really that difficult to accept those who are different? He spent a long time thinking about this but no matter how hard he pondered on the question the answer still eluded him.

    ####

    Wuji talked happily with his companions as he made his way to is parents grave. Two years had passed his return to Wudang. It had been a happy time, with his uncles welcoming him back with all their usual affection. His Taisifu had also taught him the fifth and sixth level of 9 Yang, allowing him to completely eradicated the poison within his body. His Taisifu had given him the opportunity to continue his study of the Art and Wuji was sorely tempted to accept. Not because he wanted the power of the Art but because he liked the time spent with his Taisifu.

    However Wujis natural sense of fair-play made him reluctant to do so. Normally an apprentice of his generation would receive guidance from his Taisifu, only after proving himself in the annual Martial Arts Exam. Only a single apprentice who had defeated all of his peers in single combat, would receive the honour of studying for a month under Zhang Sanfeng. Because of his condition, they had made an exception for Wuji but he had always felt a little guilty about the favouritism he had received. Now that he was better he really did not want the other apprentices to be disadvantaged.

    He pushed the thought aside for now. Today he had come to make offerings to his parents. With him were the priests Qing Feng and Ming Yue. They were the personal attendances to Yu Daiyan, chosen for their gentle and attentive nature. Unfortunately their passiveness had made them the victims of countless pranks from the other acolytes. Being of the same age as Wuji, the three of them had bounded together for mutual support and protection. Their happy conversation tailed of as the reached their destination.

    Wujis smile died as he looked at his parents graves. Blood and excrement had been smeared on his mothers tomb. The stone tombstone had been defaced and the words Demonic Witch chiselled on. Looking to the side Wuji saw that his fathers tomb had been left untouched. Shock and anger raged within him. He knew exactly who had done this. For only the second time in his life he felt the overwhelming urge to kill. Dropping the grave offerings he ran back to the Temple, with his companions chasing after him.

    ####

    Qingshu was in the food Hall with a group of his friends enjoying a light midday meal. A shadow fell over them and Qingshi turned to see Wuji standing behind him. Qingshu felt his heart skip a beat as he saw the look in Wujis eyes. Instinctively he shrunk back as if afraid that Wuji would strike him. Keeping the fierce expression on his face Wuji spoke:

    Brother Song, I challenge you to a duel. Wuji spoke the words in a level voice, making them all the more menacing.

    It took a moment for Qingshu to comprehend what was happening. Pushing his fears down he forced a grin to his face:

    Very well. Where and when? he replied, keeping his own voice steady with a tremendous effort of will.

    At the Martial Arts Exam next month. with his challenged made Wuji spun on his heels and stalked away.

    ####

    Wuji sat on his side of the platform, a sheathed sword resting across his lap. Sitting next to him was his sixth uncle and behind them stood his friend Qing Feng and Ming Yue. Their presence gave him some much needed support. One month had passed swiftly and Wuji felt a strange mix of emotions now that it was time for his duel. Part of him was glad that the time to avenge his mother had arrived. He knew that if he had accused Qingshu of defacing the tomb he would just deny it and without evidence Wuji could not prove his guilt.

    Although he knew that his uncles would most likely punish Qingshu anyway, Wuji doubted that would be the end of the matter. Qingshu would just see it as another injustice and make life even harder for him. So he had decided to take Baoxins advice. Wuji had spent every waking moment in the last month sharpening his skills in Wudang Martial Arts. Although his Qi power was far in advance of Qingshu, the rules of the duel prevented the duellists from using their Qi for fear of fatalities. Although this was a serious handicap, Wuji was glad of it, for if he had beaten Qinghsu by brute force then he doubted the latter would accept the result.

    Wuji had received instructions from nearly all of his uncles but found the teachings of his second and forth uncles to be the most enlightening. Their understanding of Martial Arts was deeply profound and showed Wuji just how much he had still to learn. Looking across the platform he saw the one uncle he did not ask advice from. Wuji still felt guilty for putting his first uncle in such a difficult situation and did not want to make the matter worst by asking the man to help him defeat his son. As he watched he saw Song Yuanqiao lean over and whisper into his sons ear.

    ####

    Remember, this is just a test of skill. I will not tolerate any harm coming to Wuji. Is that understood?

    Yuanqiao whispered the words in his most severe voice and received a nod from his son. The eldest of the Wudang heroes felt like his heart was being torn apart. Part of him knew that Wuji was the injured party and truly wanted him to prevail. Yet he was also a father and dearly did not want his son to be humiliated. He knew what had happened at Wujis mothers tomb and his first instincts was to cancel the duel and punish Qingshu. However Zhang Songxi had advised against it. His forth brother had convinced him that if he did not allow the youngsters to settle this matter then the resentment between them would just increase.

    Now that the time had arrived, Yuanqiao could not help worrying. Although the duel was not to the death, accidents could still happen. He could not bear the thought of either boy coming to harm. Yu Lianzhou stepped onto the platform His second brother had been selected as referee for the duel and his arrival signalled its beginning. Both combatants rose and made their way to the centre of the platform.

    ####

    Lianzhou saw the duellists salute each other then drew their swords. Qingshu adopted a stance from the Twin-polar sword style. It was an offensive technique, alternating between lightning fast strikes and powerful sweeps. Wuji took a position from the Seven Virtue sword style, a strong defensive technique. Qingshu lunged, his sword thrusting towards his opponents throat. Wuji backed away, parrying as he went. Qingshu continued with a series of quicksilver stabs keeping the pressure on his opponent. Wuji showed no signs of stress, parrying expertly with precise strikes to deflect the attacks.

    No, Lianzhou realised there was more to their strategy. Qingshus attack pattern was now clear to him. He was trying to herd Wuji into a corner of the platform, thus pining him down and making him into an easy target. Wuji had seen through this tactic and had evaded the trap with a clever combination of careful parries and light footwork. The second Wudang hero was impressed. Qingshus actions showed he had been studying Wuji for sometime and knew that he favoured fighting in open spaces, so as to give him as many options as possible. Qingshus tactic was clearly an attempt to deny Wuji this freedom.

    However Wujis quick realisation of this and swift counter was even more impressive and Lianzhou felt a surge of pride towards the boy. For thirty moves the two fought, with Qingshu making all the attacks and Wuji defending passively. Suddenly Wuji sent a straight stab at Qingshus chest. Lianzhou was surprised at the attack. It was not a strong attack and was easily parried but it did not seem like a desperate move either. Then he realised what Wuji was doing. The strike was often used be Sifus to judge an apprentices reaction to being attacked. Wuji was testing Qingshu.

    Qingshu seemed to realise this and his face contorted into a vicious snarl. He sent three power sweeps at Wujis neck, forcing him to use some very elaborate footwork in order to avoid the decapitating strikes. The duel continued for another fifty strikes and Lianzhou knew how it was going to end. Qingshu was getting angrier as the fight dragged, frustrated at his inability to subdue his opponent and what he thought were mocking attacks from Wuji. Wuji on the other hand remained calm and collective, moving with the same crisp clean rhythm as he had started with. Qinghsus sword was sent flying from his hand and Wuji backed away.

    Qinghsu glared at Wuji, as if contemplating attacking him with his bare hands. Lianzhou moved quickly and placed a hand on Qingshus shoulder:

    It is over. Wuji is the victor.

    Qinghsu turned his angry glare to Lianzhou then back at Wuji. A murmur rose from the apprentices watching the duel and Qinghsu swept his gaze across them, his anger turning to humiliation. The look of shock and hurt on his face made Wujis heart sink but just as he was about to walk forwards and offer his hand Qingshu turned and fled the platform without a backwards glance.

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    Finally caught up with chapter 8. Thanks for the interesting story mandred.

    Since you are writing about HSDS, I am just wondering the timeline between ROC to HSDS. We all know the Yellow Maiden Lady is related to Yang Guo and Miejue is Guo Xiang's grand apprentice....

  15. #15
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blurry View Post
    Finally caught up with chapter 8. Thanks for the interesting story mandred.

    Since you are writing about HSDS, I am just wondering the timeline between ROC to HSDS. We all know the Yellow Maiden Lady is related to Yang Guo and Miejue is Guo Xiang's grand apprentice....
    Thanks for popping by. Time line should be just under 100 years between the end of ROCH and beginning the of HSDS as a teenage ZSF met YG at the end of ROCH.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Chapter 9



    Mingmu was in his private study, a moderately sized room filled with shelves of books and scrolls. The only furniture was a desk and pair of chairs. Rummaging through the shelves Mingmu found a small wooden box. Placing it carefully on the desk he sat down and opened it. Inside was a book the cover of which read:

    A treatise on the Diamond Sutra

    The Abbot traced his fingers along the characters admiring the exquisite handwriting. A perfect combination of hard and soft, these few words were an example of the pinnacle of Chinese calligraphy. Delicately he reached his hand inside then suddenly froze. His head shot to the closed door and his brow creased up. Swiftly he closed the box, a second before the door swung open. Dorje stood in the doorway, unarmed but dressed in full battle armour and with a face like storm clouds.

    For a moment the men locked gazes, then Dorje inclined his head in a gesture that was more than a nod but not quite a bow:

    Si-Xiong (Elder Martial Brother) he said in a barely civil tone.

    Mingmu gestured to the seat opposite him and Dorje took it:

    I hear you have concluded your meeting with the Khans emissary? said Dorje.

    And I assume you know the results? replied Mingmu.

    This is the third time you have rejected the Khans offer. There will not be a forth.

    I sincerely hope not.

    The Khan is not an enemy we can afford.

    And I do not want him for one But nor do I want to be his pawn either.

    It was good enough for our Si-Bo (Elder Martial Uncle) Snapped Dorje.

    And where did that get him? Killed in a foreign land for a cause that was not his.

    He was just unlucky. There are no Guo Jing and Yang Guo now.

    We are a religious order brother. What use have we for political power?

    With the patronage of the Khan our faiths influence would grow a hundred folds.

    Those who wish to join us will come. We cannot force our faith onto others at the point of a sword.

    Si-Xiong, I never took you for a coward.

    If that is what you think, then we have nothing further to discuss.

    Dorje stared hard at Mingmu, his eyes ablaze with barely suppressed anger. Throughout their conversation the Abbot had kept his voice calm and level, never allowing even a hint of emotion to show. Even when Dorje had insulted him, Mingmu had refused to be baited. The Abbots detachment had only infuriated Dorje all the more. Knowing that further discussion would be futile Dorje got to his feet and stalked out.

    ####

    The only way into the vault was through the heavy metal doors, secured by an iron lock as thick as a mans arm. A pair of strong hands gripped the lock and started applying pressure. At first the metal resisted but it was not long before it started to bend and finally break. The lock fell to the ground with a heavy thud and the hands began pressing against the doors. A dozen strong men would have struggled to move the metal doors but now, a single pair of hands moved them as easily as if they were made of straw.

    Light flooded into the vault revealing a room filled with oddities. Statues stood upon exotic carpets. Strange religious icons rested against precious porcelain vase. Brutal weapons of war were stacked along side delicate musical instruments. The intruder however had only one item that he desired. Swiftly he strolled into the room and lifted a single object from a stack of weapons resting against the wall. It was a circular shield made of a metal and large enough to cover the torso of a man. The rim was serrated like the teeth of a shark and in the centre was a sharp spike, making it clear that this was as much an offence as defensive weapon.

    In the dim torch light the shield glittered a dull golden colour. The man slipped his right forearm into the leather straps at the back of the shield. No sooner had he put on the shield then a stern voice spoke from the doorway:

    Put that down

    The thief turned to see Abbot Mingmu standing there:

    Si-Xiong. said Dorje.

    Put that down and I will pretend this crime never happened. replied the Abbot, his tone booking no argument.

    Dorje took to the air, soaring towards the open door as he leapt over the Abbots head. A wall of red sprang up before him, forcing him to do a mid air backwards flip in order to avoid crashing into it. Barely had his feet touched the floor and he was assailed by Mingmu. Despite his advanced age the Abbot moved with a speed that would have shamed men in their prime. Limbs made rock hard by being infused with Qi, struck out at lightning speed, each blow aimed expertly at vital points intending to swiftly subdue Dorje.

    Dorje however had to worry about more than just Mingmus limbs. The wall that had barred his flight was in fact the outer layer of the Abbots robe. Invoking the power of The Demon subduing Jiasha technique, allowed Mingmu to control the robe as if it was a part of his body. The robe struck like a living snake and with enough force to crush rocks or shatter steel. Dorje backed away, parrying the robe with his shield while trying to avoid Mingmus deadly limbs. The Abbot never relented in his attack, denying his opponent even the smallest opportunity to strike back.

    Dorje channelled his Qi into the shield making the serrated rim spin furiously. Thrusting out with it he forced the Abbot to duck beneath the blow. Mingmu turned defence into attack, his robe flowing along his shoulder like water and striking low, intending to cut Dorjes legs from under him. Dorje leapt high into the air and threw his shield upwards. For a moment man and shield stood suspended in mid air, just below the vaults ceiling. Dorjes left hand glowed a ruby red and his right sapphire blue. Clasping his hands together he created a purple orb which he thrust into the shield spinning above his head.

    Purple enveloped the entire shield and Dorje sent it crashing down towards the Abbot. Mingmus robe spread out above his head and the shield smashed into it with the fury of a comet. Power rippled out and shook the entire vault. Mingmu was forced to his knees by the impact and for a moment feared that his makeshift shelter would collapse on him. With a herculean effort the Abbot was just able to deflect the blow. The repelled shield flew into the air where it was caught by Dorje, who taking advantage of the now cleared doorway made his escape.

    Mingmu rose to his feet quickly but not quick enough. By the time he ran out of the vault there was no sign of Dorje. The Abbot let out a sigh and shook his head sadly, despairing at the misfortune his failure would soon bring.

    ####

    The meeting of Jin Jiaos elders was a sombre affair, with many shaking heads and depressed sighs. Dorjes betrayal had shocked them all. Many had fought along side Dorje against the orders enemies and just could not believe that the captain of the temples guards had stolen the Great Golden Wheel. Mingmu looked around the grim faces and shared their despair. Finally one of the monks rose and held his arms out for silence. The monks name was Mingxin, the orders Master of Discipline:

    We must capture Dorje and retrieve the holy artefact. he declared.

    But how? Dorjes mastery of Lang Tun Ri Yue (Wolf devourers Sun & Moon), makes him all but invincible. Apart from the Abbot there is no one within our order capable of defeating him. replied another monk called Mingjing, who was Master of Rites.

    Not one of the other half dozen men could answer him, for all of them knew the truth in his words. Although no one would meet his gaze Mingmu knew that they were all waiting for him to respond. He felt sick in his heart. He knew what must be done but was loathed to do so. Taking a breath he pushed his misgivings aside and addressed the elders:

    There is one, whom we can send.

    All eyes turned to the Abbot. Some nodded in approval others stared in sympathy. Mingjing was one of the latter:

    But Abbot, he is so young. said the Master of Rites.

    If you can name anyone else that might stand a chance, I will gladly send them instead. replied the Abbot.

    When no one answered, Mingmu turned to Mingxin:

    Send word to Black-wind Mountain. Baoxin is to return at once. commanded the Abbot.

  17. #17
    Member Liljanger's Avatar
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    Thanks MS. Looking forward to the next chapter

  18. #18
    Senior Member Mandred Skavenslayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liljanger View Post
    Thanks MS. Looking forward to the next chapter
    Thanks for popping by. Hope you like this chapter.

  19. #19
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    Chapter 10



    Liu Bao stared down from the wooden gates and his heart sank. His fortress on top of Black-wind Mountain was well protected, being surrounded on three sides by near vertical rock face and only approachable from the South. However this strong position now made it the perfect death trap, for the single approach was now blocked by a force of hundreds. The besieging force was not a professional army, but rather a rag-tag group made up of several militia bands from the villages at the foot of the mountain. Normally Liu Bao and his bandits would view these peasants as nothing more than sheep to be preyed upon, but now they outnumbered his own force at least four to one, making them a potent threat.

    All this for a monk? thought Liu Bao to himself.

    A month ago Liu Bao had killed the monk, who had tried to protect a woman the bandit chief intended to ravish. Little did he know that the monk was from the Jin Jiao Monastery or that this single act of mindless violence would bring such disaster to his door. Under normal circumstances Liu Bao would wait out the siege, trusting in his fortresss heavy timber walls and that the peasants would soon have to go back to their fields. However this was no longer a viable option as the forts storehouse had been burnt to the ground three nights ago.

    Looking out into the angry mob Liu Bao saw the man responsible. He was the calm centre amongst a sea of activity. While the peasants fingered their makeshift weapons and talked amongst themselves, he stood perfectly still and stared at Liu Bao. Despite the great distance between them, the bandit chief sensed those powerful eyes on him and felt that his soul was being looked into. It took Liu Bao a great effort of will not to look away. The man held out his arms and a hush settled on the peasants:

    Liu Bao. Come and face me. the mans voice easily carried to the gates and was so clear that he could have been standing right next to Liu Bao.

    The bandit chief looked around to see his men looking at him expectantly. They were already grumbling about the loss of the storehouse and he knew that if he showed any weakness now then they would turn on him in a heartbeat. Yet still Liu Bao hesitated. The man had spoken with absolute confidence and had an air about him that would have intimidated a tiger. Liu Bao shook his head. His pride would not let him concede defeat so easily. Puffing up his chest he shouted back in his loudest voice:

    Go home pup! This is no place for little boys. Liu Bao followed his words with a loud chuckle echoed by the men closest to him.

    The bandits had been heartened by their chiefs bravado and the reminder that the man challenging him, was a youth that looked barely out of his teens. The man answered with his own chuckle:

    Better a pup than a toothless old wolf, cowering with his tail between his legs. said the man, his voice unnaturally loud from being enhanced with Qi.

    Liu Bao knew he had no choice now. He could not ignore such a direct insult and still hope to keep command of his men. Forcing his misgivings down he reached for the swords strapped to his back and unsheathed them. They were a pair of matching single bladed swords, slightly curved and razor sharp. Summoning his Qi, Liu Bao decreased the weight of his body and leapt off the gates, drifting down lightly. The moment his feet touched the ground he was in motion, the swords spinning around his body with eye blurring speed. He was using the Blizzard Blade technique, a skill which could cut down a dozen men in the blink of an eye. When focussed on a single target it would turn a man into bloody ribbons.

    Liu Baos confidence soared as he saw the peasants baking away at his display of skill, while his opponent stood stock-still in terror. The bandit chief covered the distance between himself and his enemy in less than a dozen heartbeats, then linked his swords together and thrust them at the mans neck, intending to shear off his head. The mans right hand shot up and he caught the blades between his index finger and thumb. Liu Bao felt his body jar as he was stopped dead. It felt like he had just tried the stab a mountain. He summoned every ounce of strength he had and tried to force his blades forward, but the mans digits refused to budge.

    With a flick of his wrist the man shattered the blades and knocked Liu Bao off his feet. The bandit chief barely had time to register his peril when the man was upon him. A palm struck Liu Bao in the chest and he felt the most excruciating pain of his life, as his ribcage imploded. Mercifully the pain was short lived as his shattered ribs pierced his heart, ending his life. Just as the darkness took him he looked up into the cold hard eyes of his vanquisher and wished a wordless curse upon him.

    ####

    Baoxin looked at the fallen bandit chief for just long enough to make sure that he was dead, then turned his gaze on the gates:

    Open the gates! he commanded.

    Frightened silence descended on the the fortress, then after a few tense moments the gates swung open. The bandits started filing out, stopping a respectful distance from Baoxin they threw down their weapons and dropped to their knees. Baoxin heard the peasants stepping forward and he turned away, allowing them to carry out whatever justice they saw fit. As he looked down the mountain pass he saw a horseman come riding up at alarming speed. As the figure got closer Baoxin saw that he was a travelling monk from Jin Jiao Monastery.

    Baoxins brow creased in worry as he saw the rider was holding the Red Dragon Banner, showing that he carried news of the utmost importance:

    What has happened at the Monastery? Baoxin wondered as he raced to meet the messenger.

    ####

    For the first time ever, Baoxin felt uneasy as he entered the monastery. He tried telling himself that he was being ridiculous. This was his home and the monks his family but he could not help it. Friends whom he had known for years now greeted him solemnly and a few of the older monks looked to be on the verge of tears, as if they were sending him to his execution:

    Just what has happened since I have been away? wondered Baoxin to himself but no matter how many people he asked, they just shook their heads and told him to find his Sifu.

    Travelling down familiar corridors he quickly made his way to Mingmus private quarters. Knocking on the door he received permission to enter. He found his Sifu sitting at his desk, his face grave and a box a little longer than his forearm lying in front of him. The Abbot gestured to the seat opposite him and Baoxin took it. Mingmu spared a moment to study his apprentice. Baoxin had grown to be a handsome young man, keeping the delicate features of his youth which gave him a boyish charm. In contrast his broad shoulders, developed through countless hours of training hinted at a fighters physique.

    An uncomfortable silence fell between them and Baoxin noticed his Sifus lips pressed tightly together, as if the Abbot was afraid to speak. Baoxin had never seen his Sifu this disturbed and his own unease deepened.

    Finally the Abbot took a deep, reluctant breath and spoke:

    I am glad you are back. However I wished it was in better circumstances. The Abbots words were spoken gloomily and now Baoxin was really worried.

    ####

    Baoxin could not believe what his Sifu had told him. How could it be true? Surely there must be some mistake? No it was simply impossible. Dorje could not have committed the crime the Abbot was now accusing him of. Baoxin looked at his Sifu, intending to voice his disbelief but one look at the pain in the Abbots eyes told him the truth of the matter. Suddenly Baoxin understood why he had been summoned back. His Sifu wanted him to hunt down Dorje. Instinctively Baoxin wanted to refuse.

    All of his life he had respected and admired Dorje but more than that, the man had been his closest friend. Things he was too scared or embarrassed to tell even his Sifu, he would freely tell Dorje and always the man would find some way to help him. Now he was being asked to bring him back to the monastery to face certain death. How could he do such a wretched thing? The answer came once more from the Abbot. Dorje was his friend, but Mingmu was the father of his heart. If he admired Dorje, he loved Mingmu. He could not now shrink from his duties and bring further pain to his Sifu.

    Reluctantly Baoxin forced himself to speak:

    When do I leave? he asked, with eyes fixed to the floor, afraid to look at his Sifu, in case his emotions showed.

    There is a caravan of traders leaving in three days time. You can travel with them to Chinas border. I have already sent a message to True Master Zhang to ask for his aid in this matter. Answered the Abbot.

    Reaching down Mingmu opened the box and pushed it towards Baoxin:

    I was hoping to give this to you in happier times but it seems fate had other plans.

    Baoxin tore his gaze away from the floor and looked into the box. Inside was a flute, as long as his forearm and two fingers thick. It was carved from a solid piece of black jade. Slowly Baoxin reached out and touched it. The surface was as cold as ice and Baoxin thought the sensation apt as it matched the cold depression filling his heart.

    ####

    Baoxin walked into his music studio. This was his sanctuary, where he would retreat to when the world became too much for him. It was also here that he had hit upon the original idea of combining his two passions of music and Martial Arts. Using the harmonious, tranquil state found in the highest level of music, he was able to control the chaotic and dangerous energies from the Long-Xiang Praja Gong (Dragon-Elephant Praja Skill), allowing him to reach level ten in the skill. An unprecedented achievement for someone still in his early twenties.

    Today however he could find no peace even here. In a few days time he would embark on a journey back to the ancestral lands he had not seen in a decade. He only wished that circumstances surrounding his return were happier. Lifting the flute to his lips he allowed his sorrow to flow into his music, playing a sad tune that would have made a statue weep.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Dongfang Xue's Avatar
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    Mandred where is the next chapter?

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