LOOG Chapter – 40

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Chapter 40: Poetry and Dreams

“Wind Stone?” Sunan asked, looking skeptically down at the box he held in his hands.

“I know it sounds unbelievable,” Bao replied. “But it’s true. I think Wind Stone is a fitting name, but you can call it anything you want. Whatever you do, don’t open that box without proper preparations.”

“And where did you find it?”

“The rock? I discovered a secret passage in the mansion you provided for us. Halfway through the passage is a chamber where I found the rock. The passage itself ended in a locked iron door. I can’t be certain, but based on the direction the passageway follows, I think it leads… here….”

Sunan and Sun Mai exchanged a glance.

“I can show you the passage of course,” Bao said.

Sunan looked back at the box. “That would probably be good. Later. It wouldn’t surprise me at all that the residences of the Golden Immortal and Iron Awl Hu were connected. But why would they have a magic rock like this?” With that, he handed the box over to Sun Mai.

Sun Mai took the box and began to examine it closely. “Those two were wrapped up in all sorts of things. Maybe they were planning to sell it? Or make it into a weapon?”

“Sect Leader Sunan,” Bao said, “I know of a man who can forge things like this into weapons or objects of great power. Perhaps it would be worth visiting him.”

Sun Mai knocked on the lid of the box with his knuckle. “You know, I’ve seen a lot of things in my life, but I’ve never seen anything as overtly magical as you describe. It really creates a tempest around it?”

Bao nodded. “It can be quite destructive.”

Sun Mai fingered the latch that held the lid shut. “But how could someone forge a weapon out of it if creates a tempest? And how could this tiny little box contain a storm?”

“I’m not sure, Chief Minister Sun. When I first acquired the rock, I covered it with a piece of cloth, and that was enough. Furthermore, the tempest seems to be limited to a range of about six paces.”

“I don’t know, it all sound a bit unbelievable to me.”

Suddenly, time seemed to slow down for Sunan as Sun Mai unlatched the lid of the box. Although Sunan didn’t particularly like Bao, nor did he trust her implicitly, he saw no reason why she would be lying about the gift of the magic rock. She seemed to be trying to get on his good side with it, and had even repeatedly warned them not to open the box without making advanced preparations.

When Sunan saw Sun Mai unlatch the lid, his scalp began to tingle with foreboding. “Sun Mai, don’t–”

Before he could finish his statement, Sun Mai lifted the box up to eye level and cracked open the lid by just a hair.

Bao’s eyes went wide. “No! Don’t–”

As soon as the lid opened, the entire room filled with a raging tempest. Sun Mai let out a shriek as he was sent spinning off to the side, where he slammed into the wall. Sunan and Bao were both thrown violently to the edge of the room, smashing through tables and other room decorations. The members of the Golden Dragon Sect and Pure Phoenix Sect were likewise flung head over heels in all directions.

As for the box, as soon as Sun Mai was thrown off of his feet, he loosened his grip on it, allowing it to fall to the ground. Being at the very middle of the tempest, it seemed to be completely unaffected by the wind. Even as screams and bellows filled the room, along with the howling of wind, the box dropped landed onto the ground, and the lid fell closed.

Just as quickly as it started, the tempest in the room vanished. A protracted silence followed, which was broken when one of the scroll paintings in the room fell off the wall and landed on the ground with a crash.

Sunan struggled free from the wreckage and looked over at Sun Mai, who was slumped almost upside down against the wall.

“Still seem unbelievable?” Sunan asked.

**

No one was seriously injured by the tempest blast, although one of the Golden Dragons ended up with a broken arm. By the time everyone was out of the room and checked upon, it was getting near the dinner hour, and Sunan suggested they continue their conversation at the Heavenly Meat Palace.

Bao agreed, and before long they were chatting over mounds of meat and jugs of alcohol.

When Bao suggested they drink sorghum wine, Sunan agreed.

Sunan was well aware that Bao’s visit and gift came with an underlying purpose. Clearly, she was trying to earn his favor, or perhaps make a request. However, as the evening wore on, she made no mention of any such thing.

This dinner went much more smoothly than the last, and no fighting challenges were issued.

Sunan was surprised to learn that Bao enjoyed reading, and had even read some of the same adventure stories he had enjoyed back when he was younger. He soon noticed that Bao avoided talking about her childhood or family background, something he was more than happy to accommodate, as he himself did the same.

The evening wore on, and sorghum wine began to take effect on some of the other disciples. Even Sun Mai eventually slumped over onto the table and started snoring.

Because it was the eve of the Butterfly Festival, there was no ward curfew, and thus no need to leave the restaurant early.

Eventually, it was late, and the only customers left awake in the Heavenly Meat Palace were Sunan and Bao, and both of them were quite drunk.

“Did I ever tell you I can write poetry?” Bao said, her speech only slightly slurred.

“No, you didn’t. That’s incredible. I couldn’t write poetry to save my life! Can you write some now?”

Bao’s eyes widened. “Of course! Do you have a brush and paper?”

Sunan called a waiter over, who rushed to fetch some paper, a brush, and ink.

After dipping the brush into the ink, Bao closed her eyes. “Okay, let me think for a moment.”

She took a deep breath, and then began to write in her flowing calligraphy.

The fiends, a tempest dark and foul,

A shining–

Even as she continued to write the second line, Sunan jumped in and said the word, even before she could finish writing them.

A shining pillar paints the sky!” he said. “I’ve seen that before. I even know the next line! Golden droplets spin and howl!”

Bao looked over at him, her jaw dropping and her eyes going wide. “How did you do that?”

Sunan shrugged. “I’ve seen that poem before….”

Bao looked down at the poem. “But where? I composed this poem just now. The words were on my tongue, just waiting to be put onto paper.”

A chill ran up Sunan’s spine. “An intruder was spotted outside my window recently, a girl in a gray robe. My lieutenant Yuwen Huo chased her to the Temple of Supreme Judge Yu, but when Sun Mai and I went to investigate, she had just left, and was burning some papers. That poem was written on one of the pieces of paper. There were some lines before it too. The graceful Bird due south takes wing, from north to east the clouds surge forth, from south to west fair feathers sing. There was another line before the first, but it was too badly burned to understand, and the same with the lines past the passage I read.”

Bao’s hand began to tremble. “They all go together….” she said, her voice quavering.

“What do you mean?”

“I wrote all the lines separately, but they go together. And they even rhyme. The shining Wyrm strides ever north, the graceful Bird due south takes wing, from north to east the clouds surge forth, from south to west fair feathers sing. The fiends, a tempest dark and foul, a shining pillar paints the sky, golden droplets spin and howl…. Except, I never wrote that last line….”

She quickly wrote the last line onto the piece of paper, then looked back up at Sunan. “You said it was a woman in a gray robe?”

“Yes. And apparently she’s adept at using Qi.”

“This… this…. I don’t understand. When I wrote the first two lines of the poem, a woman in a gray robe caused a huge scene. Supposedly, she even caused a man’s head to explode as she fled. This woman already has the entire poem written down? I’ve never seen it before, I’m certain. So how did the poem come to be in my thoughts?!”

Sunan felt the hairs on his arms and neck standing on end. “It’s not the first time this woman in gray has been seen around me either. Sun Mai claimed to have seen her before. In fact… it was the same night I had those strange dreams.”

“Dreams?” Bao said.

“I often have strange dreams, almost visions. I’ve seen a symbol with… a dragon and… and a… a phoenix. Golden light shining, and a black wind. Golden clouds….”

Their eyes locked, and it was almost as if both could feel the other’s heart pounding.

“Sect Leader Sunan, may I ask, when was the first time you had a dream like that?”

Sunan took a deep breath. He had never talked to anyone about his dreams before, and most certainly had never talked about the first time he experienced them. Perhaps it was because of the alcohol, or perhaps it was becauses of the bizarre connection between his dreams and Bao’s poetry, but he suddenly felt the overwhelming urge to speak.

“I was raised in a village near the Bay of Yu. Life was happy there. I had a dad and a mom, and three sisters. But the Demon Emperor destroyed all of that. The village was burned, and my family… they all died. I fled into the Huang Mountains, where I Iived alone for a long time. It seemed like years, but I guess it was only a few months.

“That was where I learned about Qi, and in fact, it was shortly after the Qi entered me that I started dreaming. I’ve always thought that the dreams had to do with the Qi, but now I’m not so sure.

“Chieftess Bao, I’m not sure where you come from or what your background is, so I don’t know if you’ve ever seen things like what I’ve seen. Horrible things.

“I think about my family a lot. My parents. My sisters. I miss them. And that’s why I don’t think I can ever work for that bastard the Demon Emperor.

“He sent his people to try to recruit me, you know. Trying to decide what to do is torture. Objectively, it would make sense to give in to him. That would be best for the city here, for the Golden Dragons. I’ve even heard stories implying the Demon Emperor is actually a good person, and that he’s being manipulated into doing evil. But I’m not sure if I believe those stories.

“I don’t know what to do, Chieftess Bao. I hate the Demon Emperor, but I can’t fight him! He has armies and magic and Demons on his side. I mean, he is a Demon! He’s so powerful that even if I ran from him, he would probably be able to chase me down and kill me.” He shook his head.

“I really don’t know what to do.” He looked over to see Bao staring him in the eyes.

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 THE TEMPEST BOX OF SUN MAI.

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4 thoughts on “LOOG Chapter – 40” - NO SPOILERS and NO CURSING

  1. Not really sure what to think of Sunan. He certainly does not match the typical main characters in the novels I’ve read. But that’s probably a good thing.

    Thanks for the chapter.

    But what why would they >> But why would

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