LOOG Chapter – 41

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Chapter 41: Urgent News

Bao held Sunan’s gaze for a moment that, on the one hand seemed like an eternity, and yet also passed as quickly as a raindrop splashing into a puddle.

Then she looked down into her empty drinking vessel.

“I’ve never told anyone my surname,” she said quietly. “I always worried that if my people knew what it was, they would reject me. I think that in the beginning they actually would have, but by now, they probably don’t care. My surname is Shangguan. Have you heard of it?”

Sunan’s eyes widened. “You mean the Shangguan Clan from Yu Zhing?”

“Yes,” she said with a nod.

Sunan thought for a moment. “When I was young, I read a book about the noble clans of Yu Zhing. Shangguan. Nangong. Gongsun. Sima…. There were some more, I think.”

“Yes,” Bao continued. “I was born Shangguan Bao of the Shangguan Clan. Originally there were ten noble clans. Shanguan. Nangong. Gongsun. Sima. Gongye. Dongmen. Zhongli. Xuanyuan. Yangzi. Situ. There was a rebellion when I was young, and some of those clans were completely wiped out. Nangong. Gongye. Zhongli. Those clans were executed en masse, even the elderly and the babies. Although the other clans survived as a whole, none of them escaped completely unscathed.

“I was very young, but I’ll never forget watching my mother be tortured and burned alive. It was at one of the mass executions that the Demon Emperor himself presided over. I remember one of my cousins…. I really loved her like a sister. The Bone Slicers cut her hands and feet off, then extracted the bones and stabbed her to death with them.

“I still have nightmares about those days.” Bao shuddered slightly, then shook her head to clear it. “Later I was kidnapped by some criminals. When the Bone General invaded their headquarters, I fled with some of them, which was how I escaped Yu Zhing. But the Bone General doesn’t give up so easily. He sent people after us, including an Ogre.

“I managed to kill it, and we wiped out the entire force that had been sent against us. Unfortunately, the Bone General still managed to find out what happened, and he’s been chasing me ever since.

“Sect Leader Sunan, the reason why I gave you the Wind Stone is because… I know that the Bone General will come for me. It might be tomorrow. It might be next month. It might be a year from now. But he will come. And just like you… I don’t know what to do. At least, not at this moment. As far as the future, I know exactly what I’m going to do.

“The Demon General is a vile bastard who is turning Qi Xien into a living hell. He deserves to die. He must die. And I will kill him. I might not have an army. But I have people who will follow me into battle. I might not be a warrior, but I become a better fighter every single day.

“I have complete and utter confidence in being able to do this, Sect Leader Sunan. The only question is when. Maybe I’ll lead an army into battle to crush him. Maybe I’ll sneak into his chamber at night and slit his throat. I don’t know exactly how I will do it. But I know that in the end, the Demon Emperor will die, and I’ll be the one to make it happen.”

The truth was that the sorghum wine was fueling Bao’s speech just as much as her self-confidence. She had never given voice to any such sentiments in the past, nor had she ever really pondered the matter in any detail. In the heat of the moment, though, the words spilled out of her mouth with burning passion.

As she spoke, a fire seemed to flicker to life in Sunan’s eyes, and by the time she finished speaking, his hands were clenched into fists and a smile just barely turned up the corner of his mouth. Without speaking a single word, he reached out and grabbed the nearest flagon of alcohol, which he used to fill both of their drinking vessels.

“Chieftess Bao, your words have pierced my heart and soul. I felt lost before, but now I realize why that was. I was ignoring the truths that existed in my own heart. The Demon Emperor killed your family, he killed my family, and he has killed countless other families across Qi Xien. If we do not put an end to his reign of horrors, then who will?

“Regardless of how Qi came into the world, it is a gift, and its greatest recipients are the two of us. I don’t know if I believe in the Upper Realms, and the Immortals, and Xian Nu Shen. Even if they do exist, it seems that they have no regard for the World of Man. We must be responsible for our own fates and destinies. If you wish to slay the Demon Emperor, I will stand by your side, and so will my people. What do you say we swear an oath?” With that, he raised his drinking vessel into the air.

“I, Fan Sunan, hereby swear that I will devote my life to the downfall of the Demon Emperor. Be it by sword or flame, be it by fair means or foul, he shall die. As Sect Leader of the Golden Dragon Sect, I hereby swear loyalty to Chieftess Shangguan Bao and the Pure Phoenix Sect. Henceforth, we shall strive relentlessly toward our mutual goal of bringing peace and justice to all of Qi Xien!”

Bao’s eyes shone with a cold, piercing light as she raised her own glass up and said, “I, Shangguan Bao, hereby swear to devote my life to the death of the Demon Emperor. Be it be sword or flame, be it by fair means or foul, he will be exterminated. As Chieftess of the Pure Phoenix Sect, I hereby swear loyalty to Sect Leader Fan Sunan and the Golden Dragon Sect. Henceforth, we shall live with one goal in mind: bringing peace and justice to Qi Xien, and bringing destruction to the Demon Emperor!”

And then, they drank.

**

Two years went by.

The Pure Phoenix Sect and the Golden Dragon Sect entered a formal alliance. Both sects increased their recruitment and training efforts, although they did their best to do it in the most discreet method possible.

Because of their various duties, as well as their focus on personal training, Bao and Sunan had little time for personal matters. Although they saw each other fairly often at formal banquets and other occasions, there was little time to develop their friendship.

There always seemed to be some matter that needed to be handled in Daolu that required the attention of one or the other. A few of the incidents which occurred would become tales told for years to come. For instance, Sun Mai had a famous debate with An Jian, the mysterious owner of the Delightful Wind Shop, a debate which lasted for three days and three nights. Sunan dueled the leader of the beggars in Daolu, in the Green Elephant Emporium in front of a packed house. After gaining victory, Sunan also won the respect of the beggars in the city. One of the most famous stories was how Bao outdrank the ten most famous drinkers in the city, all in one night.

Every month or two, a letter would arrive for Sunan from the Love General, but he refused to read even one of them, and demanded that they be burned.

They made a few attempts to do further research and investigation into the so-called Wind Stone, but all such attempts were useless. Even just cracking open the box unleashed a huge tempest.

One of the most shocking revelations was that Sun Mai’s apprentice Little Mao was actually not a young man, but rather, a young woman. Even more astonishing was that she was actually Mao Yun’s sister, Mao Mei! After months of attempting to hide her face from Mao Yun, he managed to catch sight of her at a banquet, and the truth was revealed. Mao Yun wasn’t very happy about his sister being the apprentice of Sun Mai, but had little say in the matter. Sun Mai seemed a bit confused when his apprentice suddenly stopped wearing the robes of a scholar and instead dressed like a fashionable young woman, but after consulting the moon about it, he declared that it was destiny.

By the end of the two year period, both sects had grown large. The Golden Dragon Sect had roughly 200 members. They were organized into four primary divisions, each one led by a lieutenant. Yuwen Huo and Tie Gangwen were promoted and conferred with the title Dragon Lord.

As for the Pure Phoenix sect, they numbered roughly 150 members, organized into three vanguards, each one led by one of the Claws of the Phoenix.

After all of the intense training, the key figures in both sects made significant advancement in terms of martial arts.

Sunan, Sun Mai, Bao, and Mao Yun had all reached the very peak of the sixth Qi level. Each and every one of them could sense that they were hovering on the verge of a major breakthrough.

The Dragon Lords Yuwen Huo and Tie Gangwen, as well as the Claws of the Phoenix, Liu Jiahui, Lin Qingxia, and Yang Ziqiong, were all in the fifth level.

As for the rest of the members of the various sects, they were a mix of levels, with more than half being in the first level, more than thirty percent in the second level, and the rest in the third or fourth levels.

They formed a powerful fighting force, but Sunan and Bao both agreed to try to keep the true level of that power hidden. The longer they could last before the Demon Emperor came for them, the better.

It was well into the second year before reports began to filter in that the situation in the empire was changing. After decades of unrest, the south had finally been stabilized, and troops were beginning to move north again. At Sun Mai’s urgings, they began to send spies across the Chezou river to infiltrate Tung-On and Fan.

Soon reports came in. Troop levels in Tung-On were rising dramatically. Over the course of only three months, the number of soldiers in the city increased from only a few thousand, to over ten thousand. Perhaps even more. Reports differed. There were also large numbers of chariots.

Only a fool would be unable to see what was happening. When the reports from most spies indicated that twenty thousand troops were now stationed in and around Tung-On, and that the Fire General had been spotted in Fan, Bao and Sunan called a meeting. Everyone was present, including the Dragon Lords and the Claws of the Phoenix.

“The Fire General is the spear that slashes across the battlefield,” Bao said. “If he leaves Fan for Tung-On, then it means war will be coming to the north of the Chezou River.”

“He’ll obviously strike Nansun first,” Sun Mai said. “Perhaps we should flee while we have the chance.”

“For once, I agree with the little scholar,” Mao Yun said. “We could escape into the Huang Mountains, maybe head for Lun Shan.”

“Or the Yangu Plains,” said Liu Jiahui.

Bao looked over at Sunan. “Sect Leader Sunan, what do you think?”

Sunan took a moment to respond. “We can’t fight an army of thousands with only a few hundred people. Even if you count the soldiers and constables of Daolu, we’re still completely outnumbered. Besides, the Demon Emperor’s soldiers can use Qi also. Perhaps a preemptive retreat would be the best. But… I don’t feel comfortable simply abandoning the populace….”

“Sunan,” said Sun Mai, “don’t forget what Kong Zhi said. Sometimes true courage is knowing when not to fight.”

Sunan looked down at the map laid out on the table in front of him. Before he could respond, the lieutenant of the first division of the Golden Dragons entered and clasped hands respectfully. “Sect Leader, urgent news. The chief magistrate of the city was just assassinated. And so was the sheriff. Daolu is now completely leaderless.”

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 GREAT CLANS OF YU ZHING.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Daolu expansion for Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate has come back for a final edit before it gets released. I mentioned a while back that we were looking for help with proof-reading. If anyone out there has the time to read through a hefty amount of text, please send a message to me at [email protected]

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4 thoughts on “LOOG Chapter – 41” - NO SPOILERS and NO CURSING

  1. Would they really go two years without investigating the ‘wind stone’ though?

    Thanks for the chapter.

    chasing me ever sense. >> since

    As far as the future, >>> I think this can be technically correct, but feel that ‘as for the future’ would be simpler.

    they number roughly >>> everything else in context is past, so ‘numbered’

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