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Heavenly Swordsman
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  1. #1
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    Default Heavenly Swordsman




    Synopsis:
    Yang Jing is a disciple of Mount Kunlun cultivating immortality under the wise sage Elder Rong. When he is killed in a mission, however, his spirit is reincarnated in the body of Cheng Yuan, a rich playboy with no cultivation or martial artistry whatsoever. Will he be able to recover his martial skills and complete his mission?

    Genre: Xianxia, Fantasy, Martial Arts, Original Story
    Note: I will be posting this story on RoyalRoadl.com.

    Chapters:

    Chapter 1 – Cultivation and Virtue
    Chapter 2 – The Tournament
    Chapter 3 – Reincarnation
    Chapter 4 – Ambush
    Chapter 5 – Blood Brothers
    Last edited by Christos200; 11-06-17 at 04:28 PM.

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    Chapter 1 – Cultivation and Virtue

    In the Ancient Times, the world was in turmoil. The Dark Lord Ye Guang rose in revolt against the Jade Emperor and the Orthodox Sects. His army of undead wreaked havoc in the world until a martial hero used the Flaming Medallion and Heavenly Sword to kill the Dark Lord. Eight hundred thousand years later, peace reigns in both Heavens and Earth. The Jade Emperor, aided by the Orthodox Sects, keeps peace and upholds justice but an evil not seen in thousands of years is about to be awakened…


    Yang Jing was strolling in the garden of Mount Kunlun Sect. Bonsai trees lined the perfect lawn in their wooden boxes. In the center there was a pond as large as a small lake with flowering lily pads and a wooden bridge that crossed the middle. Jing was a young man. He was tall, with long black hair and a delicate and most beautiful face. He was wearing a blue gown made from the finest silk and was holding a hand fan made of crane feathers.

    “You must be Yang Jing, right?”, a man said. Jing turned around and saw that the one speaking to him was a tall man wearing a long purple silk gown. His long hair was white but despite his age his face was delicate and showed no signs of old age. He exuded a sense of calmness and peace.

    Jing slightly bowed and said, “Greetings. I indeed am Yang Jing. You must be Elder Rong?”

    Rong smiled. “Indeed. Your father has spoken highly of you. I will take you as my disciple, but do not let me down. Considering that you father is my best friend, I will be stricter with you and expect the best from you.”

    “I will not disappoint you. I will work hard and follow your instructions.”

    Rong nodded in approval. “Cultivating immortality requires purity and peace of mind. You must be disciplined. If you do decide to pursue this path, you must be committed and have resolve.”

    Jing nodded in agreement.

    “Good. Come to the Main Hall in about an hour.”, Rong said and left.

    Jing stood alone, silently gazing at the pond. Although he felt honored to have been accepted by Elder Rong, Grandmaster of the Mount Kunlun Sect, he missed somewhat his home and family. His father, Yang Wanli, was himself a famous immortal known for his mastery of the Yang Spear. He and Rong had been friends since their youth, so it was only natural that Wanli would entrust his son to Rong. The Grandmaster of Kunlun was the most revered among the four Grandmasters of the Orthodox Sects; the other three being Xian Li of Phoenix Sect, Zhe Chang of Heaven Sect and Ma Yong of the Ma Sect. The Orthodox Sects assisted the Jade Emperor in keeping peace in Heaven and Earth.

    “You are Elder Rong’s new disciple?”, someone asked. Jing, who had been lost in his thoughts, turned around and saw a young man. He had thick eyebrows, large eyes and a sturdy and strong stature. He greeted Jing and said, “My name is Zhang Xiao. I am a disciple of Master Yi.”

    Jing smiled. “My name is Yang Jing. I am glad to meet you.”

    “You are pretty lucky, you know. Elder Rong has not taken a disciple for the past twenty thousand years. He is hailed as the wisest Immortal; even the Jade Emperor treats him with outmost respect.”

    He paused for a moment before speaking again. “Do you happen to like drinking wine?”

    “Of course I do!”, Jing said.

    Xiao grinned. “Good! Why don’t we meet here tonight to drink some wine? It’s been some time since I last had a drinking buddy.”

    “Well, I do like wine but… Elder Rong talked about discipline and-“

    “That’s why I have such a long time to drink with a drinking buddy.”, Xiao said and sighed. “Most people here are far too disciplined. Cultivation does not exclude drinking some wine. It’s going to be fun, trust me.”

    “Well… alright, but only once.”
    ...

    Jing stepped into the Main Hall. The hall was spacious and the ceiling seemed to be twenty feet high. Waiting inside was Elder Rong, sitting on a purple mat and reading a text. Jing bowed slightly and said, “Greetings Teacher.”

    “You know what is most important when cultivating to become immortal?”

    Jing thought for a moment but could not find an appropriate answer.

    “Being moral and virtuous.”, Rong said. “You must be pure in heart if you are to cultivate.”

    “I understand.”

    “Being my disciple, you will have to be a responsible person and not use your powers without thinking of the consequences. You must remember that every being has innate goodness in it. Subduing wicked people or demons alone does not make you praiseworthy; making them turn over a new leaf will. As such, I expect you not to use your powers irresponsibly, even when you have to deal with the wickedest persons.”

    Jing nodded.

    “You must learn how to meditate and breath correctly.”, Rong said. “We shall meditate together.”

    Rong and Jing sat in a cross-legged meditative position. “I will teach you how to cultivate Level 1 of Soul Formation.”, Rong said. “You must breathe in the right way, so that you can draw in the Qi of the natural world.”

    Rong took deep breaths, through the nose, and Jing followed his example. During the inhalation, their diaphragm moved downwards. They then exhaled, moving up their diaphragm, compressing their lungs and pushing the air out. For three hours they breathed that way.
    ...

    The sun fell behind the horizon. The twilight faded to blackness. Jing and Xiao were lying on the garden and drinking each a jar of wine and laughing.

    “See? I told you it would be fun!”, Xiao said.

    “This wine is the best I’ve ever drunk.”, Jing admitted. “Where did you get it?”

    “My father brewed it. My family has a tradition of brewing the best wine in Heaven and Earth.”

    Xiao sipped some wine. He then said, “You really are lucky to have Elder Rong as your teacher. You will become the most powerful immortal of Kunlun if your follow his instructions. Everyone will respect you and girls will fall for you.”

    Jing laughed. “I do not have such ambitions. Honestly, what I want is to be carefree like I am now. I do not want glory or power; they bring too many worries, they restrain you too much. The most powerful and respected you are, the more worries you have and the less free you are to do whatever you want.”

    A tall, sturdy young man with long black hair dressed in a white gown walked towards the two drinking buddies. “So, you are Elder Rong’s new disciple?”, he asked, looking at Jing with contempt.

    Jing got up at once and bowed slightly. “Greetings. Indeed. I am Yang Jing. I’m glad to meet you.”

    The man sneered. “You should be working hard, not lying and drinking wine. You may want to bring shame to yourself, but do not bring shame to Elder Rong.”

    “I understand.”, Jing said. He felt awkward and a sense of guilt.

    “We are just having a drink.”, Xiao protested. “Plus, it is his first day here, Brother Yao.”

    Yao looked angrily at Xiao. “Hopefully he will not end up like you.”

    He then turned to Jing. “As for you, do not think too highly of yourself. You were accepted as Elder Rong’s disciple only because your father is his friend, not because of your skills. Do not expect people to respect you. I certainly will not. If you want respect, you should earn it.”

    Yao then walked away.

    “Who is he?”, Jing asked.

    Xiao sighed. “He is a fellow disciple of Master Yi. He is the best swordsman in Mount Kunlun and the youngest immortal. He is also the favorite disciple of Master Yi and the most admired. He is far too arrogant and thinks he can judge everyone! Do not take his words at heart.”

    “He is right.”, Jing said. “The only reason I was accepted by Elder Rong is because my father is his best friend. I should work hard so as to not bring shame to my Teacher.”

    “That’s why I dislike Yao…”, Xiao said. “He kills all the fun. Look at you, you talk exactly like him. If you become rigid and preachy like he is, with whom will I be drinking wine?”
    ...

    The yellow shining sun started rising from the ground. It filled the sky with mighty colors of red and splashed the clouds with endless orange hued rays. Birds began chirping, singing a beautiful melody. Jing was practicing his swordplay on the wooden bridge that crossed the middle of the pond. Rong was supervising him and giving him instructions. Jing performed intricate and fast sword forms. The whooshing sound of the sword revealed the great strength put into each form. One attack came after another in quick succession.

    Rong was nodding in approval. “Very good; you are grasping the basics. Swordsmanship, however, is only a part of your training. Another important part is studying Daoist Texts. Follow me.”

    Jing followed his Teacher to the Main Hall. There, Rong presented five texts to his disciple. “Those texts must be studied thoroughly by you. You should copy them four thousand times each.”

    “Four thousand!?”, Jing repeated.

    Rong smiled. “Indeed. You are cultivating immortality, so you will have aplenty of time for copying those texts.”

    ...

    Five hundred years are a long, very long amount of time in the human realm. Not so in the Heavens; for immortals and those cultivating immortality, such timespan is short. In those five hundred years, Jing had been copying and studying Daoist texts, practicing his swordplay, meditating and cultivating. From time to time, he would drink wine with Xiao. One such time was tonight. They were lying under the starless, moonless black sky and drinking one jar of wine each.

    “Congrats on breaking through to Level 5 of Soul Formation.”, Xiao said and sipped some wine.

    “Thanks brother Xiao.”, Jing said.

    “I am sure you will do well in the tournament tomorrow as well.”

    Every hundredth year, Mount Kunlun would host a tournament so that its disciples could test their skills and compare with each other. In the last four tournaments, Jing had not taken part as to not lose and bring shame to Elder Rong. Now, however, he was confident that his skills were good enough to not make his Teacher lose face.

    “I certainly hope so.”, Jing replied.

    As they drank some more of their wine, Yao walked by them. Seeing them, he sneered and asked Jing; “Are you going to show up in the tournament this time or shall you hide once more like a turtle?”

    Xiao was going to argue with Yao but Jing stopped him. Calmly and maintaining his composure, he replied; “I shall show up, brother Yao.”

    “Good.”, Yao said. “I only hope that you will not bring shame to Elder Rong.”

    He then walked away.

    “Brother Jing, why didn’t you let me put him to his place?”, Xiao asked. “He is far too arrogant!”

    Jing laughed. “Why waste time arguing with him when we can have some pleasant time drinking wine?”

    Xiao sighed. “Hopefully you will defeat him in the tournament. I just cannot stand how he wins every tournament…”

    “I highly doubt that… I have made progress those past five hundred years but I am no match for him. He is the greatest martial artist of Mount Kunlun; how can I compare to him? Not that I care that much about winning. I only want to get to the top rankings so that I will not bring shame to my Teacher.”
    Last edited by Christos200; 07-01-17 at 09:12 PM.

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    Chapter 2 – The Tournament

    The sun shone brightly on the sky. Jing was strolling in the garden of Mount Kunlun and gazing at the pond and bonsai trees. He was pondering over which moves he would use in the tournament. ‘I will use Soul Sword Style’, he thought, ‘in order to force my opponent into the defensive and then overpower him.’

    “Brother Jing, the tournament is starting!”, a voice was heard saying. Jing turned around and saw that it was Xiao.

    “I was lost in my thoughts and had forgotten that the tournament was about to start.”

    “We should hurry; otherwise we are going to be late!”

    Jing and Xiao rushed to a garden of peach blossom trees, where the tournament would take place. Other disciples, as well as the Masters of Kunlun Sect, had already gathered. There was chattering while all were more or less nervous and excited.

    “Everyone!”, Elder Rong said. Everyone stopped talking and all silently waited to hear what the Elder would say. “The tournament is about to start. This time, the tournament is of special importance as I am going to assign an important mission to the two top disciples. Keep that in mind.”

    ...

    The first match was between a disciple of Master Yi and a disciple of Master Zhang. The duel was fierce, with both contenders exchanging hundreds of blows before the disciple of Master Yi emerged victorious. Everyone clapped in approval.

    “Next match will be between Yang Jing and Lai Wei.”, Master Yi said. Master Yi was a short fat man with a mustache spotting on his face and wearing a long blue gown.

    Jing and Wei bowed slightly, greeting each other before starting the match. They unsheathed their swords. In a split of a second, the two swords had collided. A loud clang sound was heard and it seemed like the earth shook. Jing lunged forward and pushed back Wei with vicious and quick attacks. Wei, forced on the defensive, channeled his internal energy into his sword; he then counterattacked. His attacks were ferocious but Jing parried them with ease. Jing closed his eyes and concentrated. He gathered his internal energy and channeled it into his sword. A loud sound was heard as Jing jumped and struck from above at Wei; Wei tried to block the incoming attack with his sword but as the two blades collided, Wei’s was cut in half.

    Everyone clapped and cheered. Elder Rong smiled. He was proud that Jing had made so much progress. When he first came to Mount Kunlun, he knew little of fighting. Yet, now his movements were fast and his attacks powerful. His discipline, rigid training and cultivation had paid off.

    The next match was between Yao and a disciple of Master Zhang. Yao moved fast like the wind and struck boldly like a thunder. His movements were too fast for most to see; he performed intricate sword forms in the split of a second. His sword struck left and right, upwards and downwards; one attack came after another, leaving no time for his opponent to defend. Yao’s sword slashed the chest of his opponent; blood dripped on the ground. The cut was not too deep and as such the injury was not great; yet everyone knew that this was only because this was a friendly match between fellow disciples. If Yao was facing a real opponent, that slash would have been fatal.

    Jing gaped in astonishment. He knew that Yao was the greatest disciple of Mount Kunlun, but did not expect him to be that impressive. Xiao whispered to Jing: “That’s the reason he is so arrogant. His skills are truly divine.”

    Next was a match between Xiao and a fellow disciple of Master Yi. Xiao, although not as skilled as either Jing or Yao, proved nonetheless to be pretty capable. Although his attacks did not have much strength in them, they were quick and precise. They aimed to confuse and imbalance the opponent. This technique was known as ‘Wind Sword Style’, because the attacks were swift like the wind. It was a sword style best suited for those who did not have much physical or internal strength but who were capable of memorizing and performing complex and swift attacks. Xiao forced his opponent on the defensive and then, with a swift move, brought his blade to his neck. The opponent threw his sword to the ground and conceded defeat.

    Everyone cheered, Jing most loudly of all. “You did pretty well.”, he said.

    “Thanks, brother Jing!”, a grinning Xiao replied.
    ...

    More matches followed. Hours passed and soon day gave way to night. Elder Rong stepped forward and loudly said, “The first round of the tournament has been completed. You should all go rest, especially the ones who have passed to the second round. You will have a challenging day tomorrow.”

    Jing was exhausted and sweating. He sat on the ground and let out a breath. His eyes glazed over blankly. Elder Rong approached him and said, “You look tired; you should get some rest.”

    Jing quickly got up and replied, “I will do as you say, Teacher.”

    Rong smiled. “You performed pretty well today; I am proud of you. I am sure that you will not let me down tomorrow.”

    Jing nodded.
    ...

    Next morning, everyone had gathered in the garden to watch the next round of the tournament. This time, there would be only four matches to determine the four best warriors of Mount Kunlun. Jing was facing a strong and sturdy disciple of Master Yi. The man was of impressive height and had a reputation for overpowering his opponents through sheer strength. Jing, on the other hand, was planning to overwhelm his opponent with fast attacks.

    As the duel began, Jing rushed forward and struck with his blade at his opponent. The man parried Jing’s attack with his blade but Jing struck again, left and right, many times changing the direction of his strikes in order to confuse his opponent. Despite Jing’s constant attacks, the man maintained his cool. The man angrily roared and slashed at Jing with overwhelming force; Jing was forced to leap backwards. The man then charged forward with the speed and force of a hurricane. With a quick breath taken in then let out, Jing somersaulted, leapt above the man and landed behind him. Jing then quickly slashed the man’s back and then placed his blade on the man’s neck. The man was forced to concede defeat.

    Everyone applauded but Jing was not that satisfied with his performance; although he had managed to defeat his opponent, he almost lost to him when he counterattacked. If his somersault had failed, he would have surely been defeated. ‘I exerted so much internal energy trying to defeat him. I am not sure I will be able to defeat my next opponent.’

    While the next match was taking place, Jing was sitting on the ground in a cross-legged meditative position. He cleared his mind of all thoughts and meditated. While Jing was meditating, both Yao and Xiao defeated their opponents and passed on to the next round. The third round was going to have only two matches. The first was between Yao and Xiao. Jing got up from his meditation in order to watch how his friend fared against Yao. Although he hoped that Xiao would win, he knew that Yao was far too good to lose.

    Yao grinned. He exuded an aura of arrogance and superiority. He knew that he was better and was confident of winning. Xiao, on the other hand, was sweating and nervous. He slashed his sword from his upper left straight downward. The slash was powerful and fast but Yao was too agile to be caught. A simple jump got him out of the way.

    “Is that all you’ve got?”, Yao asked and grinned. Yao purposefully derided Xiao in order to enrage him; he knew that someone who was enraged did not think clearly and was an easier opponent. “Maybe you should have been training more instead of drinking wine.”

    Xiao charged at Yao. Yao stood still almost to the last moment; he then moved to the left, dodging Xiao's blade. He smiled. “Come on! I am sure you can do better…”

    Xiao had kept his cool all this time, but this last insult enraged him. He charged like a bull and slashed at Yao without following any particular sword style; he was far too furious to plan and put in action an elaborate strategy. Yao laughed because he knew that he had accomplished his goal; he was able to easily parry Xiao’s disorganized attacks. He then performed the ‘Third Form’ of the ‘Wild Dragon Sword Style’; he attacked Xiao’s legs with his sword. As Xiao was about to parry the attack, Yao changed the direction of his attack; he instead slashed at Xiao’s chest. Xiao was barely able to block that attack but Yao used his confusion to kick him on the chest with a back kick. Xiao had not expected Yao to attack him with a kick instead of his sword and so he was not able to defend against that attack. He fell on the ground. Before he could get up, Yao had already pointed his sword at his face and asked, “Do you accept defeat?”

    “I do…”, Xiao said and sighed.

    Jing helped Xiao get up and said to him, “You did pretty well. Do not worry about this defeat. Few disciples reach as high in the rankings. Yao is just too good to be beaten.”

    Xiao clenched his fists. “Dammit! He is right; if I was spending less time having fun and more time training, I wouldn’t have been defeated.”
    ...

    “The next match will be between Yang Jing and Ma Cang.”, Master Yi said. Ma Cang was a disciple of Master Yi. He was muscular, tall and good looking. He had a reputation of changing from one sword style to another, leaving his opponents confused. Jing, having seen his previous duels in the tournament, had to admit that his reputation was well earned.

    Cang swirled his sword around rapidly, causing a gust of wind, and in one swift move slashed at Jing. Jing channeled his internal energy into his sword and met his opponent’s blade. As the two blades collided, a deafening sound was heard. Cang smiled. “Good! You are a worthy opponent!”

    Cang then retreated by a few steps. He jumped high and then struck at Jing from above; this was the ‘Flying Eagle Style’. Jing knew well this sword style as he had used it before. He expected to be able to parry it with ease; yet, the attack of Cang was far more powerful than he had expected. His internal energy was outstandingly powerful as was his physical strength. Jing was slashed across his chest. Yet, despite blood dripping from his wound, he was not ready to give up yet; he counterattacked and charged forward with the speed and ferocity of a wild tiger. Cang was forced on the defensive, yet he was not ready to be defeated that easily. Cang kicked Jing on the chest, right on his wound. Jing was pushed back and vomited some blood.

    Elder Rong intervened and said, “Jing, you have already done pretty well in the tournament. You are in the top four rankings. There is no shame in accepting a defeat.”

    Jing smiled. “Teacher, I can win this match.”

    He then slashed at Cang. Cang parried the attack with ease and tried once again to kick Jing, yet this time Jing was expecting this attack. With a swift move, he slashed Cang’s leg. Cang cried out. Jing kicked him on the face with a flying kick, causing him to lose his balance and fall on the ground.

    “Good!”, Cang roared. “At last some challenge.”

    He quickly got up and threw his sword with overwhelming speed at Jing. Jing was barely able to dodge it; suddenly, he saw that Cang was charging at him with his palms. Cang lashed out with the force of an avalanche. Jing jumped on top of a peach blossom tree that was right behind him. So, instead of hitting Jing, Cang smashed the tree; he splintered the trunk of the tree, forcing Jing to fall off the tree and unto the ground. The sky was briefly obscured by a shower of peach blossoms fluttering to the ground. Making full use of this obscuring, Jing attacked Cang. He hit him on the face with the hilt of his sword. He then pointed his sword on Cang’s throat and said, “Do you concede defeat?”

    “I do…”

    Jing’s determination had impressed everyone. All cheered; unlike in most past matches, where cheering was mostly a gesture of civility, this time it was a gesture of true enthusiasm and respect. Even Yao was forced to admit that Jing had proven himself to be an excellent warrior. Yet Jing knew that this victory came at a great cost; he was exhausted, bleeding and with little energy, physical or internal, left in him. The final match, in which he would have to face Yao, was about to start and he wouldn’t be able to put a fight.

    Elder Rong said, “Everyone! The fourth and final round of this tournament is about to start. The final match will be between Yang Jing and Qing Yao.”

    Yao had rested after his match with Xiao. He wasn’t injured and had not exerted much energy in defeating Xiao. Thus, he was in a far better position than the injured and tired Jing. With a smug smile on his face, he unsheathed his sword and pointed it at Jing. “Are you sure you can handle this match?”

    Jing forced a smile. “I am sure.”

    Yao charged at Jing. As the sword sped forward, a loud sound was heard, revealing the strength behind the thrust. Jing was barely able to block this attack. There was cold sweat on his forehead and he vomited some more blood as he exerted all his energy in blocking that attack. Yao did not press forward. He simply grinned and waited for Jing to attack; he knew that Jing was far too exhausted to pose a serious threat to him and so he was relaxed.

    Jing charged forward, sword raised, and chopped at the Yao's thigh, but the Yao jumped and dodged the blow. Yao then sheathed his sword. “You are injured and it would not be fair for me to fight with you on equal terms. As such, I will only use my hands.”

    Of course, Yao did not do this because he was concerned about the fairness of the fight; he just wanted to impress his fellow disciples and the elders by defeating Jing without using a sword. Jing charged again with his sword. He knew that he would most likely lose and so he concentrated all his energy and physical strength in one final attack. Yao made no move until the sword was only one inch from his nose, then stretched out his hand and grabbed it by the hilt. Jing let out a ragged breath. He was forced to admit defeat.

    Everyone applauded the victor of the tournament; once again, it was Yao who was victorious. He proved once again that he was by far the best swordsman of Mount Kunlun. Jing was far too exhausted to even applaud; yet, he did not bear any grudge towards Yao for defeating him. He had expected that Yao would win. He knew that even if he was not injured, he would still most likely have been defeated by Yao. Jing was not seeking the top rank anyway; he simply wanted to perform well in order to not bring shame to his teacher.

    Elder Rong approached Jing and said, “Your performance in the tournament indicates that you have a great future. Your skills are outstanding. It is no easy feat to win the second rank in Mount Kunlun’s tournament. Although your skills are not yet as good as those of Yao, they are better than the skills of all other disciples of the Sect.”

    ...

    After the tournament had ended, Elder Rong called Yao and Jing to the Main Hall. Elder Rong was sitting on a purple mat flanked by Master Yi on his right and Master Zhang on his left. He was contemplating; he looked stern and serious. Masters Yi and Zhang were also somewhat worried.

    Jing and Yao both formally greeted their elders and slightly bowed.

    “As I’ve said in the tournament”, Rong spoke, “the two top disciples shall be assigned a mission. Qing Yao and Yang Jing, you are the two best disciples of Mount Kunlun and thus it is you who shall be burdened with undertaking this dangerous mission.”

    Both Jing and Yao said in unison, “We shall do as you order.”

    Rong smiled. His smile was warm and exuded a sense of kindness. “I am glad that you are willing to undertake such a dangerous task. I want you to go to Fox Village and meet Elder Huo. He will give you an invaluable object: the Flaming Medallion.”

    Jing and Yao both gaped in astonishment when they heard that.

    “As you both know”, the Elder continued, “the Flaming Medallion was one of the two objects the legendary hero Yi Hong used to slay the Dark Lord Ye Guang more than eight hundred thousand years ago. After the Dark Lord was slayed, Yi Hong disappeared and so did the Flaming Medallion and Heavenly Sword. Yet, Elder Huo found the Flaming Medallion a few weeks ago on the banks of the Fox river.”

    “Elder”, Yao said, “I mean no disrespect, but are you sure that Elder Huo is not mistaken? How could he have found such an invaluable object in such a small and insignificant village? And how does he know that it is the real Flaming Medallion?”

    “Elder Huo is sure that it is the genuine Flaming Medallion. It matches the descriptions in the texts and it exudes a powerful aura. Anyway, it is better to be safe than sorry. Even if Elder Huo is wrong, we cannot risk letting such a powerful object fall into the wrong hands. It could spell disaster. I am also worried that we may need to actually use it.”

    “What do you mean, Teacher?”, Jing asked.

    “There are signs that something evil may happen soon. There have been several reports recently claiming that the Demonic Cult has managed to survive and now the Flaming Medallion has suddenly appeared after eight hundred thousand years. Those are worrying omens.”

    “Demonic Cult?”

    “The Demonic Cult was a cult of fanatics devoted to reviving the Dark Lord and using his powers to exterminate the Jade Emperor and the Orthodox Sects. Five hundred thousand years ago my Teacher, Elder Dong, exterminated them in a bloody battle; he massacred every member of the Demonic Cult in that battle. Or, at least, that was what he thought. Recently, there have been reports that the Demonic Cult still exists and that in recent years its activities have increased. At first, I was hesitant to believe those rumors and thought that they either were false or that they mistook another evil group as the Demonic Cult. Yet, with the sudden appearance of the Flaming Medallion, it seems that the rumors are at least partly true. If the Demonic Cult is still active, we will need the Flaming Medallion. They will stop at nothing to revive the Dark Lord; although I doubt they will succeed in doing so, many of my previous assumptions have been proven wrong before so I am not planning on risking it. If the Dark Lord is revived, chaos will ensue. When he was alive, he was the most powerful being in Heavens and Earth. Only with the Flaming Medallion will we have a chance against him.”
    Last edited by Christos200; 07-01-17 at 09:09 PM.

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    Chapter 3 – Reincarnation

    In the sky, there was an almost unbroken layer of white and grey. Jing and Yao could tell from the clouds that there would soon be a storm. A violent gust of wind swept up the dirt road in which they were walking. They had been journeying for almost a week and were about to reach Fox Village. Through their travel, they had been hurrying and in night rested only for three or four hours in order to not waste time. It was of vital importance that they would reach Fox Village as soon as possible. If the Flaming Medallion were to fall in the wrong hands, it would be disastrous.

    “We will soon be reaching Fox Village.”, Yao said and let out a breath. “We can relax a bit once we know that the medallion is on the right hands.”

    “Indeed.”, Jing replied as he swept the cold sweat on his forehead. His heart beat fast. “This task is nerve-racking. I cannot help but feel worried.”

    Suddenly, they heard a loud scream. Yao and Jing unsheathed their swords and immediately got into battle stance. They looked around but saw no one. Then, from a bush came forward a cat. It was the cat that had screamed. Both men let out a sigh of relief and sheathed their swords.

    Yao laughed. “It is only cat.”

    Jing too smiled. “Good. This cat really scared me.”

    Both Jing and Yao were powerful warriors. While by no means top swordsmen, they were the two best disciples of Mount Kunlun. Yet, they both had reasons to be extremely nervous. Jing was on his first mission and as such it was natural for him to feel nervous. Yao had some more experience in undertaking missions, but had never been assigned such an important task before. Knowing that possibly the fate of the entire world hinged on the success of this mission only made him more nervous and worried.

    ...

    Jing and Yao finally reached Fox Village early that night. When they were in the outskirts of the village, the sunset had radiated across the clouds, turning them molten orange with bands of pink. Now it was gone and the sky was starless, moonless. There was no twilight, only blackness. The wind was gusty and the first drops of rain reminded the two men that there was going to be a storm soon.

    Fox Village was a small and insignificant village. It was poor and so most of the houses were crude to the extreme, with earthen walls and mud floors. Jing and Yao headed to one of those houses and knocked its door.

    “Who is it?”, an elderly voice asked.

    “Elder Huo, it is Qing Yao and Yang Jing from Mount Kunlun Sect.”, Yao said.

    The elder opened the door. There was a radiant smile on his face. “Please, come inside!”, he said and led them into his crude hall. The hall had only a small round wooden table and three chairs. Elder Huo was a grizzled old man with a red nose, dressed in simple peasant clothes and smoking a pipe. One would be excused for thinking he was simply an old peasant. Yet, appearances deceive. Elder Huo was a remarkably knowledgeable scholar; he had studied thousands upon thousands of ancient texts. While he was not amongst the top martial arts experts, his swordsmanship was not to be underestimated either.

    “Please, do sit!”, Huo said, pointing at the chairs. The two disciples sat on the chairs and Huo said, “I will be coming in a moment.”

    He then rushed inside a room to the left. About a minute later, which seemed like eternity to Jing and Yao, Huo came back to the hall holding the Flaming Medallion in his hands. The medallion was made out of pure gold. There was a gleaming red stone set in the center. Jing could sense the powerful aura that the medallion exuded. In his time in Mount Kunlun, he had seen many powerful weapons and objects but none exuded such a terrifying aura of power.

    “This is the Flaming Medallion.”, Huo said and grinned. “No one has seen this medallion for more than eight hundred thousand years. You really are lucky to be able to gaze at such a marvelous object; thousands of swordsmen, immortals and kings have been searching for it for hundreds of thousands of years.”

    Huo placed the medallion on the round table. He then sat on a chair and smoked his pipe. Grand puffs of smoke curled around his head. After a moment of silence, Huo spoke. “Do you want to hear the story of this medallion?”

    It was already late at night and there was going to be a storm. Jing and Yao knew that they had to stay in the village for the night and were more relaxed now that the medallion was under their protection. As such, they nodded in agreement.

    “Good to hear that!”, Huo exclaimed. “I love telling stories. Our story begins in the ancient times. A million years ago, the God of War Ma Yuan wanted to face the Demonic Deity. The Demonic Deity was a being of supreme power. The Jade Emperor and the Celestial Court were terrified of its power and had to accept its lordship. Ma Yuan was among the few who could not put up with the tyranny of that evil creature. So, he went to the Mountain of a Thousand Flames and used its Holy Lava to forge a magic medallion of immense power. He then channeled all his vast internal energy into the gleaming red stone you see on the medallion. This combination of the Holy Lava and the internal energy of the God of War made the Flaming Medallion the all-powerful object it is today. Ma Yuan used this medallion to obliterate the Demonic Deity. He then hid the medallion and soon after died due to his wounds.”

    “How did the medallion fall in the hands of Yi Hong?”, Jing asked.

    Huo smiled. “Now, that is a good question! Two hundred thousand years after the obliteration of the Demonic Deity, a young immortal named Ye Guang discovered that remnants of the spirit of the Demonic Deity had managed to survive. Those remnants overtook his body. Overnight, his powers increased a thousandfold. He inherited most of the extraordinary powers of the Demonic Deity and cultivated them. With his powers being beyond the imagination of even the Jade Emperor, Ye Guang was no longer content with being a mere immortal. He raised an army of undead, rose in revolt against the Celestial Court and took the mantle of Dark Lord. He wreaked havoc on Heavens and Earth, killing many immortals and millions of mortals. It was then when a young hero emerged; he was the son of poor peasants and his name was Yi Hong. An immortal found out that the boy had the potential to be an unparalleled martial hero. The Celestial Court and the Orthodox Sects provided him with the best teachers. Soon enough, he had become a legendary swordsman. He scored many victories against the underlings of the Dark Lord, yet his powers still couldn’t compare to those of the Dark Lord.”

    “So he used the Flaming Medallion and Heavenly Sword against the Dark Lord?”, Yao asked.

    “Indeed. The Flaming Medallion had been hidden somewhere in the Mountain of a Thousand Flames by Ma Yuan as he knew that if it fell into the wrong hands, its powers could shatter the entire world. Yi Hong managed to find the Medallion. He also used this chance to forge another magic weapon; he used the Holy Lava, the Stone of Supreme Power which had been given to him by the Jade Emperor and his own internal energy to forge the Heavenly Sword. Armed with those two weapons, he faced in single combat the Dark Lord in a duel that is now the stuff of legends. Thousands of poets and singers, both immortal and mortal, have recounted this battle. Each time their swords clashed, an earthquake shook the entire human realm and demolished thousands of cities. Each time their internal energies clashed, mighty tsunamis rose, the ground cracked and tornadoes ravaged whole countries. Eventually, Yi Hong slayed the Dark Lord after a duel lasting six days. The whole world lay in ruins in the aftermath of that duel but the Dark Lord and his evil forces had been defeated. After this duel, Yi Hong disappeared along with the Flaming Medallion and Heavenly Sword. No one knows what happened to him. Now, eight hundred thousand years later, the Flaming Medallion has once again appeared.”

    “Elder, do you know how this medallion can be used?”, Jing asked.

    Huo sighed. “Unfortunately, I do not. The texts do not mention anything about how either Ma Yuan or Yi Hong used the medallion. During those few weeks it has been in my possession, I have studied it thoroughly. Yet, I have not found a way to use it. It is kind of ironic, isn’t it? We have possibly the most powerful object to have ever been created in our hands and we do not know how to use it.”

    Huo smoked his pipe for a moment and then said, “It is late and it is raining heavily. It is better if you stay here for the night. You can sleep in the restroom.”

    “Thank you for your kindness.”, Yao said. “We will not bother you. We will leave early in the morning.”

    Huo laughed. “No need to be so polite. You are not burdensome. It’s been a long time since I last had some company, so I do not mind lodging you in my house for a night.”
    ...

    The rain poured down over the village with a roar. The sound of emptiness was disrupted by the loud gregarious boom of thunder. The howl and beating rain was loud and the two Kunlun disciples had a hard time trying to fall asleep. Jing was thinking about the story Elder Huo told him. He could picture in his mind the noble and fearsome Yi Hong battling with the despicable Dark Lord. ‘That would truly be a sight to behold.’

    A loud scream was suddenly heard. It was the kind of scream that made your blood run cold. The scream tore through Jing like a great shard of glass. His eyes widened and pulse quickened. Adrenaline surged through his veins. He shot up from his bed; so did Yao.

    “What happened?”, Jing asked.

    “Don’t know.”, Yao replied. “Let’s take a look.”

    Before they left the room, Jing grabbed the medallion. They had been keeping it in the room with them in order to ensure its safety. They opened the room’s door and walked into the hall. The flickering light of a candle illuminated the hall just enough to see by. As they were taking slow steps forward, the two men saw a trail of blood leading outside the house.

    “Elder Huo?”, Jing whispered.

    “Let’s get out of here right now!”, Yao said. “This place is not safe anymore.”

    As they rushed out of the house, they saw a sight that terrified. A man, if he could be called a man, was holding by the throat Elder Huo. The man was dressed with a black robe. His face was deathly pale and awfully scarred; it was as if every bone on his face had been cracked and mended back together a thousand times. Blood dripped from his eyes. With a swift move, he strangled Huo and threw away his lifeless body.

    “You shall not escape!”, he said with his deep voice.

    Jing’s face became ashen white. He was trembling in fear. His heart beat fast; he could almost hear its tumultuous thudding. Jing was brave and rarely got scared but he had never before seen such a terrifying person; his scars, the blood dripping for his eyes, his voice – everything in him was scary.

    “Who…are you?”, Jing asked.

    “I am the Demon of Doom, servant of the Dark Lord Ye Guang.”

    “The Dark Lord is dead!”, Jing shouted. “What do you want?”

    The Demon smiled. “He will soon be revived. As for what I want… the medallion and your life.”

    The Demon channeled his internal energy into his right hand and then used it to create a bolt of fire. With a swift move, he threw it at Jing. Jing was barely able to dodge the bolt. The Demon then channeled his internal energy into a lightning bolt and threw it at Yao. Yao used his internal energy to create a shield around him and block the bolt.

    “You have mastery of the internal energy…”, the Demon said. “But it will not save you!”

    The Demon unsheathed his sword; it was a longsword made from the bones of beasts of the underworld. It was thus known as the ‘Skeletal Sword’. It exuded an aura of death and coldness. Jing and Yao both unsheathed their swords and charged forward. The Demon easily parried their attacks. With a swift move, he slashed downwards Yao’s chest. He then stabbed him on the shoulder. As his sword pierced through Yao’s flesh, Yao cried out and fainted. Jing was left on his own. Jing lunged forward with the speed of the wind and slashed at the Demon with overwhelming force. The Demon parried the first attack but then Jing stabbed him on the chest. To Jing’s outmost surprise, the Demon did not feel anything. He grabbed Jing by the hair and threw him on the ground. He then walked slowly towards him, with Jing’s sword still stabbed on his chest.

    A pale Jing shouted, “Why don’t you die?!”

    The Demon laughed. “Because I am already dead. You cannot kill the dead.”

    With the Demon approaching him, Jing had no time to contemplate what he would do next. He would simply do whatever came to his mind at that moment. Having heard about the spectacular powers of the Flaming Medallion, using it was the first idea that came to his mind. He grabbed the medallion and channeled his internal energy in it; nothing happened. With the Demon being right in front of him, Jing wore the medallion around his neck; he hoped that this time the medallion would unleash its powers. It did not. The Demon grabbed Jing by the hair, lifted him up and stabbed him right through his heart with his skeletal sword. Jing vomited blood and instantly died.
    ...

    Darkness. Numbness. Chillness. Jing couldn’t see or hear anything. He was sure that he was dead yet, if he was dead, how could he still contemplate? That was the question that troubled him. ‘I…feel strange.’, he thought. ‘I feel a warmness surging inside me. I….feel very warm…. It is hot….very hot.’

    And then there was light; blinding light. Jing’s eyes hurt. He closed them. When he opened his eyes a moment later, he found himself looking at a roof. He was lying on a bed, covered in a white sheet. He was naked; and so was the young woman that was sleeping with him. Jing blushed and felt flustered.

    “What happened?”, he asked. “Am I dead or not?”

    Suddenly a flush of memories flooded his mind. His head ached and he was barely able to keep himself from screaming. He was seeing the memories of a young person; and that young person was apparently himself. His name was Cheng Yuan and he was twenty-three years old. He was son of the Cheng Wang, Governor of White City, a huge metropolis of the Jia Dynasty. The Jia Dynasty was the most powerful political entity on the continent. Yuan made full use of his riches and high status; he lived the life of a playboy, flirting with women and then dumping then, forcing women to sleep with him, hiring experts to beat up or even kill those who opposed him. Jing felt disgusted with this man; and even more disgusted with the fact that apparently somehow his spirit had reincarnated in the body of such a lowlife scum. Jing, or rather Yuan now, knew that if someone was reincarnated, he would lose all memories of his past life. Yet, he remembered everything about his past life as Yang Jing.

    “Why did I have to be reincarnated in the body of a scum?”, he said aloud.

    The woman sleeping besides him woke up and asked, “Does Master want to have some more fun?”

    “I…”

    Instead of replying, Yuan got up from his bed and quickly dressed. He then remembered where exactly he was; in the Wu Brothel. During his previous life, he had never before visited a brothel, much less seen a naked woman. He had vowed to devote himself to cultivating immortality on Mount Kunlun. Yet here he was now in the company of a naked woman.

    “No… Thanks for the offer but….I have a job to take care of.”, Yuan said. As he was about to leave, he remembered the medallion. ‘What happened to it?’, he thought. He looked around and saw that the medallion was actually on the floor. He quickly picked it up and placed it on his pocket. ‘How exactly did the medallion come here?’, he wondered. He was confused as to how the medallion suddenly appeared on this room but at the same time he felt happy and let out a sigh of relief. ‘It is good that the medallion has not fallen on the hands of that Demon. I now need to find a way to go to Mount Kunlun and give the medallion to Teacher.’

    As Yuan was about to leave, suddenly a man barged into the room. That man was a middle aged Buddhist monk; his clean shaved head and yellow robe indicated as much. He spotted a black mustache and beard. He wasn’t tall but he was sturdy and was holding a wooden staff. Yuan couldn’t help but find the whole situation funny. He smiled and asked, “What is a Buddhist monk doing in a brothel?”

    “Beating you up!”, the monk barked. He then charged at Yuan with his staff. The woman, seeing the scene, screamed loudly and rushed out of the room. Yuan tried to defend himself but as he moved swiftly his hand, his back suddenly ached. It seemed that Cheng Yuan, unlike Yang Jing, was neither a martial warrior nor a cultivator. Yuan damned the moment he had reincarnated in such a useless body.

    The staff hit Yuan on the head. Before Yuan could react, the monk hit him again; this time on the chest. His chest became bruised and he cried out. He swiftly bowed and cried, “Please, show mercy!”

    “Bastard!”, the monk barked. “Did you show any mercy to the women you forced to sleep with you or the men you killed because they stood up to you?”

    Yuan had to admit that he hadn’t shown any mercy towards either men or women. But he wasn’t the one who had committed all those terrible acts; it was the old Yuan. How could Yuan explain to the monk that he wasn’t actually the old Yuan but rather Yang Jing reincarnated in the body of Cheng Yuan? And would the monk believe him? Most likely not, so he instead pleaded for the monk’s forgiveness. “Please, I want to turn over a new leaf. Spare me! I will never bully anyone again!”

    The monk thought about it for a moment. On the one hand, Cheng Yuan was lowlife bastard who used his wealth and high status to bully people. On the other hand, he was a Buddhist monk and did not like killing. If someone like Yuan repented and became virtuous, wouldn’t it be even better than him simply killing him? While the monk was thinking about this, Yuan was frantically kowtowing.

    “Alright.”, the monk said. “I will give you two choices: the first is to follow the path of virtue and become a Buddhist monk. You will join the Lingjiu Monastery.”

    Yuan was disappointed. He did not have the resolve or the time for joining a Buddhist monastery. He had to hurry to Mount Kunlun and deliver to Elder Rong the Flaming Medallion. If what the Demon said about the revival of the Dark Lord was true, then there was no time to lose. “What is the second option?”, Yuan asked.

    “To be castrated!”

    Yuan gulped. “What?”

    “It’s your choice.”

    “Well…I will join the path of Buddha.”

    The monk smiled. “Excellent. Glad to see that you plan to follow the path of virtue. I will be following you to the Monastery to make sure that you adhere to your decision, however. So do not delude yourself that you can fool me.”

    “It is great that you will be coming with me. I will have great company!”, Yuan sarcastically said and forced a smile. “How may I address you?”

    “Abbot Hwang.”
    Last edited by Christos200; 07-01-17 at 09:10 PM.

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    Chapter 4 – Ambush

    Abbot Hwang and Yuan walked in the dense forest of bamboo and trees. A myriad leaves glistened brightly. Even more leaves lay scattered on the forest floor. The air was moist and hazy. The scenery was majestic and in other circumstances, Yuan would have taken time to appreciate it. Yet, being forced into a Buddhist monastery, he was in no mood for sightseeing. Abbot Hwang, on the other hand, was joyous. He was smiling and singing.

    “What is so joyous?!”, Yuan finally snapped.

    Hwang laughed. “Leading someone evil to the path of virtuousness is always joyous.”

    Yuan sighed. ‘I lose so much time in following a stupid monk when I should be heading to Mount Kunlun!’, he thought. ‘If the Dark Lord is awakened and the Orthodox Sects do not have the Flaming Medallion needed to face him, it will be his fault.’

    “You know”, Hwang said, “the path to repentance is a difficult one. I applaud you for trying to turn over a new leaf for it will be an arduous task to do so. In the monastery, you will have to chant scripts for six hours every day, copy holy texts, sweep the temple’s floor and cook and much more. If you follow the instructions of your elders, you might attain enlightenment in eighty or ninety years.”

    “Ninety years?!”, Yuan repeated. “Ninety years?!”

    Hwang grinned. “What? Did you expect to join the monastery for a year or two and then return to a life of pleasure? No! In order to repent, you will have to spend your entire life in that monastery. Make no mistake; all of the monks there are martial arts experts, so do not expect to be able to flee nor will anyone have the guts to save you.”

    ‘Damn!’, Yuan thought. ‘This damn monk will single-handedly doom the entire world. I do hope that the Flaming Medallion is not needed any time soon…’

    “Praise Him!”, a voice was heard saying.

    “Who is talking?”, Yuan asked.

    Hwang shushed him. “Do not talk.”, he whispered. “Follow me.”

    Hwang and Yuan stealthily moved forward. They saw that a man was sitting on the ground, bowing towards the north. Before he could see them, they took cover behind a large tree. The man was chanting some weird prayer; “Praise the Dark Lord. May He come to liberate our souls. May He come to cleanse this dirty world. May He come to destroy the old. May He come to put an end to all sins. Praise the Dark Lord. Praise Our Lord Ye Guang.”

    The man then got up and walked away. Jing was baffled by this man’s prayers. Hwang was contemplating about it. He looked worried.

    “Who was he?”, Yuan asked.

    “I….”

    Hwang paused for moment. He was in disbelief. He took a deep breath. “I’ve heard about the Demonic Cult before but I thought that it had been exterminated hundreds of thousands of years ago. It seems that they are gathering strength once more.”

    “He is of the Demonic Cult?”

    “It seems so. The Demonic Cult was a cult of fanatics who believed that the world was corrupt and sinful; that all life was sinful and impure. They wanted the destruction of the entire world and the extermination of mankind. They thought that the only way they could achieve this was by reviving the Dark Lord Ye Guang. Only he can destroy the entire world. I thought that they had all been killed and that the Cult was extinct, but it seems I was wrong.”

    ...


    The sun was shining brightly on the sky. Elder Rong was gazing at the pond with its flowering lily pads. Birds chirped. The fragrance of flowers filled the air. It was truly a beautiful day! Yet Rong was in no mood to appreciate it. Yao and Jing were supposed to have already returned to Mount Kunlun but neither of them had showed up. ‘Where are they?’, he wondered. He was anxious and afraid that something unfortunate may have befallen them. Yang Jing was his first disciple in more than twenty thousand years. He had shown both great promise in martial arts and the understanding of the Daoist texts as well as filial piety and respect towards his elders. He was also the son of his best friend. As such, the elder viewed Jing as if he was his own son.

    A disciple rushed to the garden and bowed before Rong. “Elder, Qing Yao has returned and is waiting for you in the Main Hall!”

    Rong at once rushed to the Main Hall. He was both joyous to know that Yao and Jing had returned but also anxious to hear if they had been successful in their task. When he entered into the hall, Yao bowed before him. Rong noticed his bandaged shoulder. He quickly helped him get up and asked, “What happened?”

    “I…. We…”

    Rong also noticed that Jing was nowhere in the hall. “Where is Jing? What happened to him?”

    Yao sighed. “Alas, he did not make it….”

    Rong felt as if he had been stabbed in the heart by a knife. His eyes became glazed with a glassy layer of tears. As he blinked, they dripped from his eyelids and slid down his cheeks. He remembered when he first met Jing, when they were training together, when he was teaching him how to meditate. The memories he had of him were sharp and cut right through him. Even the good moments had turned into a knife, piercing his soul. “How? How did this happen?”

    Yao sighed. He then recounted how they met Elder Huo, how he presented them the Flaming Medallion and then how they faced that Demon.

    “I was stabbed on the shoulder by that Demon and then I fainted. When I woke up the next morning, I was lying on the bed of one of the villagers. He had been kind enough to take me in and bandage my wounds. I then found the lifeless body of Jing, lying on the dirt road. I searched for the medallion but it was nowhere to be found; it seems that the Demon must have taken it.”

    Rong suddenly coughed and vomited blood.

    “Elder!”, Yao cried.

    “It’s…it’s all right.”, he calmly said. Rong was devastated; not only had his disciple died but the Flaming Medallion was now most likely in the hands of the Demonic Cult. If they found out how to use it or managed to revive the Dark Lord, then the entire world would be doomed.

    His face was pale. It was derived of all emotions. He silently walked out of the hall. He was defeated. He was tired. He felt, for the first time in tens of thousands of years, weak; helpless.

    ...


    Xiao lay on the grass in the garden. He was sitting beside a peach blossom tree, drinking wine from a jar. He swallowed hard, willing his eyes to remain dry. He was passing by the hall when Yao was recounting his duel with the Demon and had overhead about Jing’s death. He still couldn’t believe it. ‘Only a few days ago, he was drinking wine with me…’, he thought. ‘He was so full of life, of energy. He laughed, he joked, he was passionate.’

    As minutes passed by, he drank more and more wine. He wanted to get drunk, to forget everything. If a sad man got drunk, then he could forget his pain. He could let go of his worries and escape from this world. Those who are drunk are transferred to a world of dreams, a world where they are free of all worries and of all of their troubles. Jing, of course, knew that this would not bring Jing back to life and that he would have to face his death eventually; yet, he did not want that moment to come now. Xiao and Jing had been best friends for hundreds of years. Xiao could not simply just accept Jing’s death.

    Yao walked towards him. He sat on the grass besides him and said, “Can you give me a jar?”

    “Sure!”, Xiao said and threw at him a jar of wine.

    Yao grabbed it and took deep gulps of wine. “I have to be honest; I did not see eye to eye with Jing. Yet, now that he is dead, I regret some of the words I said to him. He was a good guy. He did not deserve to die!”

    “Alas… the will of the Heavens is unknown. Man proposes, Heaven disposes!”

    ...


    Yuan and Abbot Hwang, after almost a whole day of arduous marching, managed at last to reach the monastery. Lingjiu Monastery was surrounded by woods. It had seven main halls and ten other halls around, with several yards around the halls. The monastery was constructed almost exclusively of wood. Columns and lintels supported large and gently curved cyan colored roofs.

    As the Abbot and Yuan walked into the monastery, they found it to be surprisingly quite. There wasn’t a single person to be found.

    “Strange...”, Hwang remarked.

    As they walked forward, they suddenly saw a body lying on the ground. Hwang approached it and examined it; it was an old monk and he was dead. His throat had been slit. Hwang was furious. He clenched his fists. “Damn!”, he said and immediately grabbed his wooden staff and got into battle stance. “Who did this?”

    “We!”, many persons said in unison. Suddenly, tens of men clad in black and armed with swords and knifes charged from inside the halls and surrounded the two companions. Yuan gaped in amazement and fear. If he was still Yang Jing, he would not be afraid. But now he was Cheng Yuan; a young playboy with no physical strength or internal cultivation at all. He did not have a chance at defending himself. He could only hope that the monk would protect him from those thugs.

    Hwang could see that inside the halls, there were the littered bodies of tens of monks. “I will kill all of you!”, the monk barked and charged at the enemies with his staff. With a swift move he cracked open the head of a man. He then kicked another man; when that man cried out in pain, Hwang used the chance to put his stuff into his open mouth and with a swift move defang him. Teeth and blood fell on the ground and the man fainted. Another man tried to slash Hwang with his sword but the monk somersaulted, landed behind him and strangled him with his staff. A thug then tried to stab him but Hwang kicked him in the groin. At that moment another thug struck at him; he slashed the monk across his back. Hwang quickly turned around and hit as hard as he could the man’s throat with his staff. The thug instantly died.

    At the same time, two thugs charged at Yuan. “I do not know to fight!”, he cried out. They did not seem to care. They slashed at him and Yuan was barely able to dodge their swords. A third thug then charged at him and slashed his chest. Thankfully for Yuan, the cut was not too deep. Yuan fell on the ground and tried to crawl away. Another sword then came at him; Yuan rolled to the right, trying to avoid the sword. ‘Will I die once more?’, he thought. As he was rolling, he inhaled dirt and coughed. Suddenly, another thug charged at him and stabbed his right leg. Yuan screamed in pain. As the thug was about to kill Yuan, Hwang charged at him. He struck him with such fury, that his stuff penetrated into the thug’s chest. Hwang then beat up the other three thugs.

    “Impressive!”, a deep voice said. A man then appeared. He was wearing a long black gown with a long cape. A dark hood and a golden mask hid his face. “Most impressive… Excellent martial arts…”

    “You are the bastard who ordered this attack?”, Hwang shouted.

    “Indeed, I am the one who ordered this attack.”, the man calmly replied.

    “Why did you do this? How did Lingjiu Monastery offend you?”

    The man laughed. “Oh, they did not. They simply had some herbs which I need for my experiments. Unfortunately, they refused to give them to me so, regrettably, I had to murder them.”

    “What nerve!”, Hwang said. “Who are you that you dare commit such terrible acts? Are you not afraid of the Celestial Court and the Orthodox Sects?”

    “Why should I be afraid of them? I am the ‘Lord of War’. I am a servant of the Dark Lord Ye Guang. When he is revived, the Celestial Court and the Orthodox Sects shall be eradicated!”

    The Lord paused for a moment. He noticed Yuan. He then said, “Men, kill that monk but capture alive that young man. He seems to be exactly the type of person I need for my experiments.”

    Hwang chanted a Buddhist prayer. There were tears in his eyes. “And so, I die…”

    He then made one last heroic charge. He knew that he was going to die and as such nothing held him back any more. He fought valiantly, caring little for his life. He was like a wounded wild beast; doomed to die but not giving up. Tens of thugs were beaten up to death by him. One such man, before being killed, managed to break in half the monk’s stuff with his sword. Without a weapon, the monk now had to fight with his bare hands. A thug tried to stab him, but he dodged the attack and then struck out quickly at his opponent's eyes with the index and middle fingers of his right hand and gouged them out. Another man attacked him, but Hwang fly kicked his throat, killing him. He then picked a rock from the ground and used it to crack open the head of another thug. It was then when a thug cut the monk’s right hand with his sword. Hwang roared. He grabbed the man by the throat with his left hand and strangled him. As he was strangling him, Hwang was being slashed by other thugs. He screamed in pain.

    The Lord walked towards him. He unsheathed a small knife and pointed it at his face. “You are going to die!”, he said and stabbed Hwang’s forehead. Blood poured all over the monk’s face. His wide open eyes terrified everyone. He looked like a ghost.

    “I…”

    He vomited blood. “I… will…”

    Hwang then collapsed on the ground. The Lord kicked the monk’s lifeless body. “This is for the casualties you caused me. You shall be cut in a thousand pieces and shall be fed to the dogs. You will not rest in peace!”

    Yuan clenched his teeth. Tears dripped from his eyes and slid down his cheeks. Although he had been fighting and arguing with this monk, Yuan knew that he was righteous and noble person. He did not deserve to be killed, especially by scum like the Lord and his Demonic Cult.

    Two thugs grabbed Yuan and threw him at the feet of the Lord. He was far too exhausted and powerless to put up a fight. The Lord examined closely Yuan. “You will have a bright future.”, he said. “If you survive my experiments, that is.”

    “What experiments?”

    The Lord laughed. “Oh, you are soon to find out.”

    He then hit Yuan on the head, knocking him out. “Men!”, he barked. “Take him to the cave. Make sure nothing happens to him. I do not want my test subject damaged.”

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    Chapter 5 – Blood Brothers

    “Yi Hong!”, Yuan heard someone shouting.

    Images of war suddenly flashed to his mind; the rolling thunder of war drums, thousands of roaring men unsheathing their swords and charging at the enemy, arrows enclosing the sky and covering the sun. Leading the men was a young warrior, most handsome and valiant. Suddenly, an arrow pierced through his armor and into his chest. He ignored the pain and continued his charge when two more arrows pierced his chest. “I will not go down like this! Charge!”. He and his troops charged right at the center of the enemy formation. A brutal infantry battle ensued. Soldiers fought on top of thousands of dismembered bodies. Heads, hands, chests, even eyes and ears were lying on the ground, all covered in blood. The soldiers on both sides fought their enemies with any weapon they could get their hands on. They slashed with their swords, pierced with their spears, used rocks to break the head of their enemies. Some even fought with their bare hands. The young warrior leading the charge was massacring tens of enemy soldiers; blood dripped from his blade. He was sweating and bleeding. “We are winning!”, he roared and his troops cheered.

    Yuan suddenly felt as if someone had slapped him. He woke up. This battle was just a dream. He had no idea why he dreamed of Yi Hong; not that he cared that much considering the situation he was in. Yuan found himself chained and lying on a bed made out of rock. It was pretty uncomfortable and his back was scratched to the point that it was bleeding. The Lord was looking at him, holding a jar.

    “At last, you’ve waked up!”, the Lord said. “You had been unconscious for hours. We can now begin the experiment.”

    “What? What are you talking about? What experiment?”, Yuan frantically asked.

    The Lord laughed. “You see, the Orthodox Sects and the Celestial Court have a numerical advantage over us. It will not be fair if we do not level the playing field, right? How will I do this, you ask?”

    The Lord paused for a moment and grabbed a pill from inside the jar. “By creating super soldiers; that’s how we will address that problem. Imagine if every follower of the Demonic Cult had the powers of someone who had cultivated immortality and trained in martial arts for decades. Can you imagine how the Orthodox Sects would fare against such warriors? Of course, in order to ensure the safety of our followers, I first need to test my pills. This is where you come in.”

    The Lord then forced Yuan to swallow the pill.

    “What did you feed me?!”, Yuan shouted.

    “It is a pill that will cleanse your blood.”, the Lord replied. “Do not worry; this is only the beginning. You still have many pills to try. If you are lucky enough, you may survive. If not, you will end up like all other test subjects.”

    “What happened to them?”

    “The lucky ones were disfigured so much that they do not resemble anything like a human anymore. But, at the very least, they are still alive. As for the unlucky ones, some lost their sanity, others killed themselves and more than a few died a grueling death due to the pills. But do not worry; I am sure that this time the pills are going to work.”

    The Lord then began laughing like madman. His laughter echoed throughout the room.

    ...


    The entire plain was frozen. A thick layer of snow covered the ground. The wind howled. In the middle of this frozen landscape was a tall black tower, which dominated the area. Standing atop the tower was a young man. He was wearing a long black gown and cape. A hood hid his face. White flakes whirled around the man, who was looking at the endlessness of the vast horizon. That man was known only as Young Master Deng.

    The Demon of Doom approached Deng and bowed before him. “Greetings, Young Master.”, the Demon said.

    Deng turned around and asked, “Did you get the Flaming Medallion?”

    The Demon hesitated to reply. “I…”

    “I asked a simple question; did you get the medallion?”

    The Demon bowed. “I am sorry, Young Master. I’ve failed you. I did not get the medallion.”

    Deng grabbed the Demon by the neck and began strangling him. “Care to explain to me how this happened?”

    “I…this…”

    The Demon could barely breathe and struggled to answer. Deng thus released him from his grip and threw him on the ground. The Demon coughed and took deep breaths.

    “Young Master, when I killed Yang Jing the medallion suddenly vanished. It must be some kind of magic; there is no other explanation.”

    “I do not care about your excuses, Demon!”, Deng barked. “You better find the medallion and bring it to me soon. Mobilize all the resources the Demonic Cult has. Use whatever method is necessary. I do not care how you do it, but bring me this medallion. Otherwise, I will make you wish you could die.”

    “I will not fail you!”

    “I do hope so… I will be leaving now. When I return, you better have the medallion.”

    ...


    Yuan had to admit that he was feeling much more energetic than before. His blood had been cleansed thanks to the pill the Lord gave him. The flow of his blood was much faster than before and the Qi in his blood became abundant. His body was now much stronger. This was the first step in the road towards cultivation. Whereas most cultivators would reach this point through meditation and drawing in the Qi of the natural world, this pill allowed Yuan to skip all this process. It was, of course, dangerous for someone to attempt to skip that process and the pill could have killed Yuan. That was the reason the Lord wanted to test it before giving it to his own followers. Thankfully for Yuan, the pill worked and neither killed him nor caused any side effects.

    The Lord was examining Yuan all this time, impetuous to see if his experiment had succeeded.

    “I told you it would work.”, the Lord said. “Now do hope that you continue to be as lucky because we are not over yet.”

    “Why are you doing this?”, Yuan asked. “Why would you want to revive the Dark Lord? Do you really want to see the whole world destroyed?”

    “Oh yes, very much so. This world we live in is one that is corrupt, impure, sinful. It cannot be saved. It cannot be remedied. It can only be destroyed. It can burn in the fire of our righteous flames. Only then can the souls of those pure in heart be saved. The next world will be one of abundance, honesty, righteousness. Those who are pure in heart shall live in that world. In order for this new world to be born, the old one must be destroyed. There is only one person who can destroy the entire world; the Dark Lord. Thus, we shall revive him to put an end to this sad joke and herald a new era of prosperity and righteousness.”

    Yuan couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Those people were literally advocating for the extermination of mankind and the destruction of the entire world. They were not some power hungry villains wanting absolute power or riches. They were madmen who wanted only death and destruction.

    “But enough talking!”, the Lord said. He then grabbed Yuan by the hair and forced him to swallow a worm.

    Yuan coughed. He was disgusted. He thought that he might vomit. “Why did you feed me that worm?”

    “It is a ‘thought worm’.”, the Lord replied. “It will allow me to control your actions. You see, if the experiment does succeed, you will be powerful enough to break your chains and possibly kill everyone in this facility. That would be bad, wouldn’t it? This worm will make sure that no such thing happens.”

    He then grabbed from inside a jar a yellow pill and fed it to Yuan. “This pill shall rapidly increase your physical strength. Your body shall become muscled and your internal energy will be cultivated to the level of that of a low ranking immortal. You better hope that this time the pill works; last time I tested it, it shattered all the internal organs of my test subject. You can imagine how gruesome such a death is, right?”

    Yuan’s heart raced at tremendous speeds, and his lungs shallowly rose and fell in time. He was scared that this time he would be out of luck and die for good.

    ...


    Elder Rong was silently gazing at the garden’s pond. His eyes glazed over blankly. From some distance, Masters Yi and Zhang were observing him. He had been like this for days. He cared neither for the sect’s affairs nor about anything else. He hadn’t spoken a single word in days. Both Masters were heartbroken to see their Grandmaster in such a situation. They sighed and hoped that he would become once again resolute like he once was. Otherwise, Mount Kunlun Sect would be doomed.

    “The death of Yang Jing affected him greatly.”, Master Yi commented.

    Master Zhang nodded in agreement. “This and the loss of the Flaming Medallion were too much to bear. Not only he lost his disciple, but he blames himself for the loss of the medallion.”

    “Something must be done!”, Yi said. “The Sect has many affairs which cannot be postponed. Someone must make decisions and oversee those affairs.”

    At that moment, Yao arrived to the garden. He bowed before the two Masters and said, “Greetings Masters.”

    “At last you are here!”, Zhang said. “You have been gone for more than a week. Did you bring the sea pearl?”

    “Yes.”, Yao replied and presented a large and luminous sea pearl to the two Masters.

    “Good!”, Yi said. “Elder Rong, since he was young, always loved sea pearls. Hopefully this will lighten up a bit his mood. Go present it to him.”

    Yao nodded in approval. He then headed towards Elder Rong. He bowed before him and said, “Greeting! Student Yao wishes to present Elder a gift.”

    To Yao’s dismay, Rong did not reply. He did not even look at the young disciple. Instead, he simply sighed.

    “It is a sea pearl. I hope that you will accept this gift.”

    Rong, without taking a single look at Yao or the pearl, simply walked away. Yao was left bowing alone in the garden, not knowing what to do next. Masters Yi and Zhang rushed there and helped him get up.

    “I…did not-“, Yao tried to apologize.

    “It’s not your fault.”, Master Yi said. “You did your best to lighten up the mood of Elder Rong. Unfortunately, he was severely affected by the recent events.”

    “Something must be done, Brother Yi.”, Master Zhang said. “We cannot simply let Sect affairs go unmanaged.”

    “May I propose an idea?”, Yao asked.

    “Sure.”, Yi said.

    “Why don’t you two Masters manage the affairs of the Sect until Elder Rong gets better?”

    Yi and Zhang thought about this proposal for a moment. On the one hand, they did not have the authority to make decisions without Elder Rong’s approval and they certainly did not want to be perceived as using the Elder’s situation to their advantage. On the other hand, Sect affairs could not be let unhandled and Mount Kunlun needed firm leadership.

    “Maybe this is the only solution.” Yi said and sighed. Zhang nodded in agreement.

    ...


    A week had passed since Yuan had been fed the pill by the Lord. Both his physical strength and his internal energy had increased substantially during this time. His body became more muscled and tough. His internal energy was now similar to that of low ranking immortals. There did not seem to be any side-effects either. ‘Maybe this crazy guy has really figured a way to create super-soldiers.’, Yuan thought. This thought both joyed him and terrified him. On the one hand, he wasn’t going to die. On the other hand, now the Demonic Cult could gain the advantage if they managed to produce enough such pills.

    The Lord walked into the room at that moment. In his hands was the Flaming Medallion. Without taking his sight from it he said, “This medallion…exudes a powerful aura. Where did someone like you got an object of such power? What object is this?”

    “I don’t know.”, Yuan lied. “It was given to me by an old man.”

    “Well, you are going to answer my question whether you like it or not. The ‘thought worm’ shall guarantee that.”

    The Lord then channeled his internal energy into Yuan, trying to awake the worm. “What is this object?”, he asked.

    No reply came. The Lord was stunned. He clenched his fists and roared in anger. “Why are you not obeying me?”

    If the ‘thought worm’ was still alive, Yuan would indeed have obeyed the Lord. However, the pill that the Lord fed Yuan with had killed the worm. Seeing that Yuan could not be controlled, the Lord was determined to kill him to avoid any troubles. He had already tested most of his pills and had found out that they were successful. There was no need in risking an escape. So, he unsheathed his sword and pointed at Yuan.

    Yuan panicked. His heart was racing, his brain on fire, adrenaline levels rose. Yuan felt hot, it was if his blood was boiling. Suddenly, he screamed and channeled all his internal energy into his hands. Swiftly, he broke his chains and got up. As the Lord tried to stab him, Yuan grabbed his right hand, with which he was holding the sword, and he twisted it. The Lord cried in pain and let go of his sword.

    “Guards!”, he shouted. Yuan instantly grabbed him by the neck and strangled him to death. After he killed him, Yuan grabbed his sword and the medallion and rushed out of the room. He realized that the facility was inside a cave. As he made his way out of the cave, two guards dressed in black attacked him. He dodged their swords and then approached one of the men. He stabbed his sword through the chest of the guard, killing him. His blood spilled on the ground. Before the other guard could react, Yuan slashed him across his chest. The cut was deep and the man collapsed on the ground; dead.

    “Where is the entrance of the cave?”, he wondered. He decided to follow a route to his left. It led him to a room. There a man was held in chains in the same way he was. Two guards were interrogating that man. He was a bit short but muscular and boasting a long well-groomed beard. He was wearing a helmet made of iron and a mail shirt. Yuan barged into the room and quickly killed the two guards. The prisoner was surprised to see Yuan and gasped in astonishment.

    “Hey!”, the prisoner said. “Free me!”

    “Who are you? Why should I free you?”

    “I am Asger Harald. My homeland is in the far north. I lived in the Kingdom of Swagen. I came to the Jia Dynasty along with Prince Alfred as a bodyguard. Unfortunately, we were ambushed by those people. They then brought us here. I am the only survivor.”

    “Why did they ambush you?”, Yuan asked.

    “I don’t know. They talked some nonsense about a ring of ice or something like that. They thought that the Prince owned that ring.”

    Yuan knew that despite his prowess, he would still need help if he was to escape. He did not trust this Harald but he needed whatever help he could get at the moment. So with a swift move he broke his chains.

    Freed from his chains, Harald grabbed an axe that lay upon a table. The axe head had crescent shaped edge and was inlaid with silver designs. Armed with this axe he said, “I know how to get out of this cave. Follow me.”

    Harald and Yuan left behind the room and began making their way out of the cave. As they ran forward, a team of guards attempted to stop their escape. Yuan and Harald made short work of them. Harald massacred them with his axe. Yuan slashed them with his sword. Blood dripped from their weapons. The light of the day illuminated the entrance of the cave. As they ran towards it, the light got brighter. When they got out of the cave, they felt as if they would be blinded. They hadn’t seen the light of the sun for many days.

    Yuan let out a sigh of relief. He breathed the fresh air and smelled the fragrance of the wild flowers. He gazed at the majestic sight of the sun and appreciated the beauty of nature. ‘At last; I am free!’, he thought.

    Harald approached him and said, “You saved me even though you did not have to. In my culture, when someone is considered brave and honorable, we offer to become blood brothers. I believe you have earned that honor. Would you want to become my blood brother?”

    Yuan thought about it for a moment. Although the Lord’s pills made him physically stronger and allowed him to cultivate immortality, he was still lacking compared to his past as Yang Jing. On his way to Mount Kunlun, to give the Flaming Medallion to his teacher, he knew that he would face the Demonic Cult again. Harald had proven that he was a capable warrior and would be a great asset in Yuan’s quest. So, even though he still did not fully trust Harald as he had just met him, he decided to become blood brothers with him.

    “I am honored by your request.”, Yuan said. “I will gladly become a blood brother with you.”

    “Good!”, Harald said. “Very good!”

    The two men bowed before the heavens and said in unison: “We, Cheng Yuan and Asger Harald, vow to be become brothers. We seek not to be born on the same day, in the same month and in the same year. We merely hope to die on the same day, in the same month and in the same year. If we should ever do anything to betray our friendship, may heaven and the people of the earth both strike us dead.”

    “I have nowhere to go now.”, Harald said. “I have failed in my mission to keep Prince Alfred safe and cannot return back home. I will follow you wherever you go.”

    “Thank you, brother.”, Yuan replied. “I will need whatever help I can get in my quest to go to Mount Kunlun. I am sure that with your help, I will be successful in my task.”

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