LOOG Chapter – 37

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Chapter 37: Sit Down

Bao strode through the streets of Daolu, her head held high.

This place is like a dump compared to Yu Zhing. Even Tung-on was better.

Despite her show of bravado, inwardly, her heart was pounding. Although the invitation from the leader of the Golden Dragon Sect, Sunan, had been worded politely, it felt more like a summons than an invitation. Not only was this strange city rumored to be a place of lawless violence, it was controlled by someone she knew could manipulate the strange energy just like she could, to fight in superhuman fashion.

Her hatred for the Demon Emperor burned as hot as ever, but she had to admit that the lands south of the Chezou River were much more orderly than this place. One thing that struck her almost immediately were the beggars. Although beggars did exist in the south, they were a rare sight, and mostly slunk about in the shadows. In Daolu, however, they almost seemed organized, as if they were an actual faction within the city on par with the constables or the Golden Dragon Sect.

In compliance with the invitation from the Golden Dragons, she only brought five of her people with her. Mao Yun was there, of course, as was Li Runfa. Of the other three, two were women and one was a middle-aged man. All three were disciples who had excelled in training over the past months.

The entire group wore silver headbands embroidered with a phoenix, an embellishment suggested by Li Runfa after they noticed that the members of the Golden Dragon Sect all wore the same type of clothing, almost like uniforms.

Considering that they only had a few hours to prepare for the dinner, some headbands was the best they could do. However, the zeal that had burned in the eyes of her people when they had first laid eyes on the silver headbands left Bao a bit taken aback.

If I’m going to stay in charge of this group I need to act like a leader.

Thus, it was with an air of complete confidence that she led the small group toward the dinner location, a place called the Heavenly Meat Palace. Under her left arm she carried her wooden box, while her right hand was wrapped around a cloth bundle within which was an Ox Tail Dao. Technically, it was illegal to carry weapons within the city itself, but Bao felt that a bit of bravado would go a long way to impressing the Golden Dragons, so she’d decided to take the risk.

Leaning close to Mao Yun, Bao asked, “You sent some people there ahead of time?”

He nodded. “Yes, but not very many. We’re new in town and stick out too much. Besides, according to word on the street, Sect Leader Sunan and Chief Minister Sun Mai actually own the place, and have even summoned Demons from the Lower Realms to protect it. Doesn’t surprise me that blasphemers like them would do such a thing.”

Not too long ago Bao would have dismissed claims of summoned Demons, but after the Fei Beast and the Tree Demon, the idea didn’t seem too far fetched.

As they approached the Heavenly Meat Palace, Bao saw someone in the robes of the Golden Dragon Sect waiting out front. It appeared to be a young man, with his face turned to look the opposite direction. When he turned and saw them, his eyes went wide and he quickly clasped his hands and bowed low. The depth of his bow was almost ridiculous, leaving him bent over so low that his face wasn’t visible.

“Greetings, Chieftess Bao,” the young man said.

She bent her head to the side to try to get a look at the young man’s face, but failed. “Greetings. We’re here at the invitation of Sect Leader Sunan.”

Before she even had a chance to pull out the invitation card to give him, the young man said, “I know, I know. Please follow me.”

Remaining in a bowed position, he turned and then led the way into the restaurant.

Bao turned to Mao Yun. “What was that all about? Is that some Golden Dragon custom, to bow in such ridiculous fashion?”

Mao Yun was frowning. “I’m not sure. But something about that young man seemed familiar. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but, I feel like I know him.”

There was no time to discuss the matter further. They were led into the Heavenly Meat Palace, to a table in the common room where Sunan was already seated. Bao recognized Sun Mai from their initial meeting, but the others were strangers to her. One of them was a frightening-looking man who appeared to have a blue birthmark stretching from his cheek all the way down his neck, and another had the look of a soldier. Surprisingly, the next person at the table wasn’t dressed like a Golden Dragon. A deep frown covered his face, and from the way he dressed, Bao guessed that he must be a magician or sorcerer of some sort.

Maybe they do have Demons….

The young man who had led them in took the place next to Sunan, although he kept his hands clasped high, and his head bowed, making it difficult to see his face.

As soon as she entered, Sunan rose and clasped hands respectfully. “Greetings, Chieftess Bao.”

“Greetings, Sect Leader Sunan.”

“Please, have a seat.”

After they were seated, Sunan immediately made introductions. “Chieftess, as I’m sure you know, this is Chief Minister Sun, who is also a scholar and philosopher of some note.”

The frowning man let out a loud snort, causing Sun Mai took glare over at him. Sunan cleared his throat. “Next are my two top lieutenants, Tie Gangwen, and Yuwen Huo, who is called the Blue Devil. Last is Smiling Huo, not one of the Golden Dragons, but a local Demon hunter and master of the magical arts.”

Bao hid her frown. Demon hunter? Why would have have a Demon hunter working for him if he summons demons. Perhaps it’s a lie, and this is actually their Demon summoner!

Another thing Bao realized was that her so-called Pure Phoenix Sect was really just a loose band of fugitives and fighters, whereas the Golden Dragon Sect was organized and well-disciplined, almost like an army. We haven’t even assigned any official roles to anyone! Dammit, I’m going to look like a fool if I just introduce everyone by name.

After offering the appropriate platitudes, Bao introduced her people. “This is Grand Chief of Martial Studies, Mao Yun, whom you’re familiar with. Next is Li Runfa, my… Viscount of Operations. Next are my top three fighters, who are also known as the… as the Claws of the Phoenix. They are the most elite fighters in the Pure Phoenix Sect, whose each and every move is as deadly as the swiping talon of a Phoenix Demon.”

“You’ve seen a Phoenix Demon swipe its talon?” Sun Mai asked, chuckling.

Bao slowly turned to stare him in the eye. “Yes,” she said. “I have.”

Sun Mai’s chuckle turned into somewhat of a gurgle, then faded away.

“As I was saying,” Bao continued, “These are the Claws of the Phoenix. Liu Jiahui, also known as Flying Death. Lin Qingxia, who is called the Throat-Slitting Phoenix Ghost. And Yang Ziqiong, also known as simply, the Blood Drinker. All three of them are killers the likes of which would cause even the Phoenix Demon I tamed to tremble in fear.”

A profound silence filled the room after her introduction. Bao felt somewhat proud of herself for being able to think so quickly on her feet. Although she had literally made up everything on the spot, it all sounded very impressive as far as she was concerned.

If Sunan and his people hadn’t been so focused on Bao’s introduction, they might have noticed the odd looks on the faces of Mao Yun and the others. For them, it was the first time hearing such titles and descriptions.

Now that the formal introductions were out of the way, they moved on to eating and drinking. Mounds of meat and prawns were served, along with jugs of alcohol.

“These blue prawns are new,” Sunan explained. “They’re especially tender. But I still favor the original spicy version.”

The conversation was light and didn’t touch on anything such as politics or philosophy. One odd thing that Bao noticed was that the young man who had escorted them in from outside was almost always stuffing food or wine into his mouth, making it very difficult to make out his facial features.

After about an hour passed, the topic of conversation shifted to the martial arts.

“Sect Leader Sunan, I heard people on the street talking about something called Wu-Sunan,” Bao mentioned. “I suppose that has something to do with you.”

“Yes, that’s right, Chieftess Bao. Based on our initial… meeting… it seems you’re aware of the energy which surrounds us in the world, and how to use it?”

“That’s correct.”

He nodded. “I’ve developed a method to cultivate that energy, which we call Qi.”

“That’s Classical Fei,” Sun Mai interjected.

“I know,” Bao replied. Like most youngsters in her clan, her extensive education as a youth had included Classical Fei, the most ancient language in Qi Xien.

Sun Mai’s eyes went wide. “Really? You know Classical Fei?”

“Dang ran,” she replied. “Ni ne?”

Sun Mai slapped the table. “Tian a! Ni tai li hai le!” He turned to Sunan. “Can you believe this? She actually speaks Classical Fei!”

Bao chuckled at Sun Mai’s enthusiasm. “Sect Leader Sunan, my apologies. Please continue.”

“Of course. We took the specific movements and methods of how to cultivate Qi, as well as how to use it for combat purposes, and compiled them into a manual of sorts. We called it Wu-Sunan.”

“In Classic Fei, Wu means–” Before Sun Mai could finish, Bao interrupted him.

“Martial. I know.”

Sun Mai laughed and slapped the table. “I like this Chieftess Bao more by the second!”

“What about you, Chieftess Bao?” Sunan asked. “Have you thought about codifying the fighting techniques of your Pure Phoenix Sect?”

“Yes, we have,” she lied. “Let’s just say it’s a work in progress. When it’s complete, it will be something to fear. After all, my techniques enabled me to kill an Ogre, tame a Phoenix Demon, and slaughter a Fei Beast. What have you done with your Wu-Sunan?”

“Well….” Sunan responded, seemingly taken aback. “Well, we defeated Iron Awl Hu.”

“I remember you mentioning him last time we met,” said Mao Yun, chuckling a bit. “Wasn’t he just a local criminal?”

“Yes,” Sun Mai said. “But he was strong. A lot stronger than you probably. And then there was Ritual Master Zhen and his rats! You wouldn’t believe how that fight went! There were–”

“Wait,” Mao Yun interjected. “Your Wu-Sunan has been used… to defeat thugs, priests, and rats?” He threw his head back and laughed uproariously. “Just what I would expect from a bunch of blasphemers.”

“We’re no blasphemers!” Sun Mai shot back. “I’m working on a classic scripture that’s going to revolutionize how people think of the Perfect Realm! You just wait and see what happens when people learn the truth! And by the way, we used Wu-Sunan to single-handedly take down one of the Lions of Peace!”

Mao Yun nearly spurted wine out of his mouth. “This story again? The two of you single-handedly took him down? Two-on-one, eh?” He laughed again. “I could probably beat you with both hands tied behind my back, scholar.”

Sun Mai leaped to his feet. “I don’t think so, you brainless ox! I could beat you with both hands tied behind my back! And my eyes closed!”

Mao Yun jumped up. “Oh really? What are you going to do, write a book of poetry and drop it on my head!?”

“Mao Yun–” said Bao, reaching out toward Mao Yun.

“Sun Mai–” said Sunan, reaching out toward Sun Mai.

Sunan and Bao’s gazes met, and somehow they both knew that they were thinking the same thing.

“Sit down,” they both said simultaneously. It was hard to tell whose voice was more cold and iron-like. Somewhat startled, both Mao Yun and Sun Mai sat back down immediately.

After a moment of silence, Bao smiled. “Sect Leader Sunan, what do you say to a little exhibition match? I hereby challenge you to a friendly competition. Let’s see who is stronger, the Phoenix or the Dragon!”

Get behind the scenes info and material for your Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate session at the Bedrock Blog. The article to go along with this chapter is entitled HEADBANDS OF THE PHOENIX AND CLASSICAL FEI.

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5 thoughts on “LOOG Chapter – 37” - NO SPOILERS and NO CURSING

    1. Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate is a game, and this story tells the history of the game.

      I’m not sure what you mean by failing in the end. If you’re talking about the prologue, I would have to point out that the premise is that they are going back in time to change history.

      1. Ah I didn’t realize they were going back in time. I thought they just teleport-ed somewhere else not gone back in time. I was also unaware of the relationship between the game and the story. Anyway now I know, thanks.

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