LOOG Chapter – 45

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Chapter 45: A Golden Spear

Although Sunan’s hands were clenched into fists of rage, tears welled up in his eyes. “Dead? Yuwen Huo is dead?!”

Bao looked down at the ground and nodded slowly.

“What were you thinking?!” Sunan barked so loudly that he was almost yelling.

Bao’s voice was barely audible as she replied, “We didn’t know that the Bone General would be there also. And… the Love General too.”

Sunan shook his head slowly. “The six of you just sauntered into the Fire General’s command tent? Even if he was alone, what makes you think you could kill him?”

A flicker of anger passed through Bao’s eyes. “I’ve killed Ogres before.”

“Sure, sure you have.” Sunan snorted coldly. “You need to stop telling that story like you beat the creature in duel. After all these years, everybody knows what really happened. You crushed that Ogre under a pile of boulders. Boulders, Bao! Did you have a pile of boulders in your bag when you went to the Fire General’s tent?”

Bao’s jaw twitched. “It could have worked. If we’d killed the Fire General, the army would have been thrown into chaos!”

“Yuwen Huo wasn’t just a Dragon Lord, Bao. He was my friend. You got my friend killed!”

Bao looked up, eyes filled with both flames of anger and tears of sorrow. “Well my friends are dead too, did you ever think of that!? I didn’t want this to happen! Lin Qingxia and Yang Ziqiong were like my sisters!” She finally couldn’t hold back the tears any more, and they began to stream down her cheeks. “It was a good plan and we all agreed with it! I didn’t force Yuwen Huo to go along. He wanted to! He knew you wouldn’t agree but he went anyway!”

Sunan slapped his palm down onto the table next to him with a resounding thud. “You’re damn right I wouldn’t have agreed. You know what I would have said? It’s too dangerous. You won’t be able to tell who is in the tent until you get inside. What if you’re outnumbered? What if they have better fighters? You could get yourselves killed! And guess what? That’s exactly what happened! Dammit, Bao, you always talk about confidence this and confidence that. But have you ever heard of a thing called overconfidence? Just because you believe you can do something doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to succeed. You wanted to throw their army into chaos? Well you did the exact opposite! Yuwen Huo was my friend, and Lin Qingxia and Yang Ziqiong were your friends. But they were also top leaders in our sects! Now everyone is more scared than they were before! Dammit, Bao. DAMMIT!”

Sunan resisted the urge to smash the table into splinters with his fist. He suddenly thought back to when he’d first gotten to know Yuwen Huo, when he was just a new recruit. He thought about how they had trained and sparred together, and how they had fought the River Demon. Two tears leaked out onto his cheeks, but he quickly brushed them away and closed his eyes. Breathing deeply, he tried to force his feelings away for the moment.

A long moment passed, a moment that seemed like an uncomfortable eternity of silence.

Finally, Sunan opened his eyes and looked at Bao. She was staring down at her hands, which were trembling, and wet from the tears which were dripping down her cheeks and off of her chin.

He had the urge to comfort her, but suppressed it. “Leave,” he said.

Bao took a deep breath. “Sunan, I–”

“Leave! Just leave, Bao. I don’t want to talk to you right now.” He averted his gaze.

Bao took a shaky breath and then rose to her feet and left.

Sunan sat alone for a few minutes, wrestling his thoughts and feelings back under control. Finally, he called Sun Mai in.

“Any new developments?” he asked.

“No,” replied Sun Mai. “The command tent fire was quickly put out. The Fire General’s troops are definitely well-trained.”

Sunan chuckled bitterly. “So she didn’t even manage to burn down a single tent.”

Sun Mai didn’t respond.

Another moment of silence passed before Sunan said, “Promote Sima Zikang to Dragon Lord. We don’t have time for all the proper ceremonies now, but make it formal. Let him pick who to replace him as lieutenant.”

Sun Mai voiced his assent, then cautiously asked, “What about… rites for Yuwen Huo?”

Sunan shook his head. “There’s no time for anything fancy. Do what’s necessary to make sure he rests in peace.” He tapped his finger in thought, then continued, “I don’t know much about this Fire General, but from the stories I’ve heard, I can’t imagine that he’ll let an act like this go unanswered. Especially with the Bone General there to advise him. Double the guards on the walls, but don’t use anyone else from the Golden Dragon Sect or the soldiers or constables. Keep them rested and ready for combat. Use militia for the guard duty. I have a bad feeling….”

“Bad feeling?”

“Yes. There will be fighting tomorrow. And dying. We need to be ready.”

**

Sure enough, the following day at dawn, the fighting began. The Fire General sent a force of roughly two thousand men from the north to attack the Thunder Gate, and two thousand from from the east to attack the Dragon Gate. The vanguard of each attacking force was made up of heavy shieldsmen, followed by a large contingent of spearmen and a smaller group of cross bow-men.

At the Dragon Gate, newly appointed Dragon Lord Sima took the initiative to send out a cavalry charge against the incoming force, followed by light infantry. The cavalry troops were mostly Golden Dragon Sect fighters who had trained in firing bows from horseback, and they quickly flanked the Fire General’s soldiers, peppering them with arrows that pinned down the cross bow-men and threw the formation of heavy shieldsmen into chaos.

That in turn gave Daolu’s light infantry time to close in. Although the light infantry was composed mostly of ordinary soldiers and militamen, they were led by Qi fighters from the Pure Pheonix Sect. Almost immediately, they began to wreak havoc on the heavy shieldsmen, and even managed to start killing some of the spearmen.

Most of the Fire General’s men were Qi fighters, but they seemed completely surprised by the onslaught, and were quickly pinned down by the fighters from the Pure Phoenix Sect.

Soon, the two thousand men who had attacked the Dragon Gate were forced into retreat. The light cavalrymen pursued them for a short time, but then turned and headed back to the Dragon Gate, along with the light infantry. Overall, Sima Zikang’s defensive strategy couldn’t have gone any better.

Things didn’t go as smoothly at the Thunder Gate in the north of the city, which was under the command of another of the Golden Dragon Sect lieutenants, Guan Yunchang. He was a tall, well-built man who was known for his unusual strength and hand-to-hand combat skills. However, when it came to tactics and strategy, he was sadly lacking.

Unlike Sima Zikang, his plan to repel the two-thousand-man force was to simply shower them with arrows. Unfortunately, the heavy shieldsmen provided good cover, and a hail of arrows from the cross bow-men soon forced Guan Yunchang’s men to withdraw from the turrets and battlements.

The two thousand men suffered almost no casualties, and soon had occupied the gate structure. Once inside, a few muffled booms rang out, and the gate itself was blasted open. Guan Yuanchang led his men to fight back, but they were too disorganized. They were quickly pushed back, and fighting erupted on the streets of Daolu itself.

However, chaotic melee combat was when Guan Yunchang was in his element. He and other key figures from the Golden Dragon and Pure Phoenix Sects rallied the Daolu troops in a valiant fight in which nearly two hundred enemy soldiers were killed before they were finally pushed back out through the gate. Of course, the Fire General’s soldiers were well-trained, and were also no strangers to close-quarter fighting. In the end, close to a hundred from the Daolu side lost their lives.

The first day of combat ended rather early, with relatively low casualties on either side. Apparently, the Fire General had only been probing the city, as he didn’t send any more forces out to attack.

When the Thunder Gate was inspected, signs of fire and smoke could be seen, leading to rumors that there were Fire Demons in the army, monsters which could destroy the city gates with a single breath of fire from their nostrils. That did little to help morale.

Engineers went to work repairing the Thunder Gate as best possible, but it wouldn’t be back to its full strength for quite some time.

Sunan was not happy with Guan Yunchang. Although he had led the fight to slay two hundred of the enemy, the dozens of Daolu fighters who had died included many from the Golden Dragon Sect and the Pure Phoenix Sect. Considering the enemy army numbered 20,000, and the two sects didn’t even have a thousand total members, such casualties were severe as far as Sunan was concerned.

Because of Sima Zikang’s success at the Dragon Gate, Sunan appointed him as General of the Eastern Sun, giving him command of the entire city. Sima Zikang immediately set about devising a general defense strategy, and preparing various plans and backup plans for the following day.

**

The next morning, the Fire General attacked the White Rat Gate on the western wall of the city. However, that seemed to be little more than an exploratory skirmish, as in the afternoon, he again attacked the Thunder Gate in full force. This time he used enormous crossbows to fire burning bolts at the walls. Some areas of the wall were seriously damaged, and a few of the burning bolts made it into the city itself, catching a few buildings ablaze. The gate was once again breached, and fighting broke out in the city.

However, Dragon Lord Sima Zikang had anticipated this development, and made advanced preparations. The Fire General’s troops were quickly routed and pushed back out the gate. Unfortunately, the damage to the gate was even more significant than last time.

**

During the first two days of fighting, no one saw Chieftess Bao. Rumor had it that Sunan had forbidden her from participating in the fighting. The truth was that she felt as if she had no face left to appear in public.

Mao Yun cajoled and threatened her, but she refused to leave her room. As the fighting raged, she lay in bed staring up at the ceiling.

She thought about the dagger piercing into Yang Ziqiong’s eye. She thought about Yuwen Huo, and the grin on the Bone General’s face when he’d slit his throat. And she thought about how she had looked back to see the Bone General holding Lin Qingxia’s severed head up into the air.

A few times she beat her pillow in rage.

Three emotions fought back and forth inside of her heart. One emotion was sorrow. Sorrow for the death of her friends, and even sorrow at disappointing Sunan. Another was shame. Shame for trying to be a hero, but turning out a fool. The third was rage. Rage toward the Bone General for killing Yang Ziqiong, Lin Qingxia, and Yuwen Huo. Rage toward the Demon Emperor for causing everything. And even rage toward Sunan for how he’d berated her and sent her away so dismissively.

I’m hurting too, Sunan!!!

Late in the night of the second day, the rage and sorrow wiped out the shame. Then, in that time before sunrise when the night is darkest, her rage battered the sorrow down and down and down until it was so deep in her heart that she managed to lock it up and forget about it.

Finally, she sat up in bed, fists clenched on her knees.

What happened is my fault, but that doesn’t mean I need to run around like a criminal. If I’m going to get revenge for Yang Ziqiong, Lin Qingxia, and Yuwen Huo, then I need to bring the fight to the Bone General. Maybe the Ogres have some magic that makes them invincible to our martial arts, but they are not immortal. They can be killed. And I’m going to kill the Bone General!

She jumped off the bed and was just preparing to go give Sunan a piece of her mind, when suddenly she realized that a slight breeze had just touched her neck. She frowned slightly, and turned to look behind her.

To her shock, the wardrobe in the corner of the room was wide open, and a man was standing in the doorway, holding a torch. He was tall and handsome, but also tough-looking. He wore golden robes, and was holding a short golden spear in his left hand.

Bao’s hands flicked, and her knives dropped down out of her sleeves into her hands.

“Who are you,” she growled, “and what are you doing in my room?”

The man took a step forward and leveled his spear at her. Smiling, he said, “That’s the same question I wanted to ask you.”

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7 thoughts on “LOOG Chapter – 45” - NO SPOILERS and NO CURSING

      1. I’m guessing they meant about details within the story. For instance I’m a bit fuzzy on the actual size of this city . I’m otherwise generally willing to forgo much of the description in storytelling, but for many it is an essential part of the story.

        Is the game book free? I would imagine that a number of readers don’t actually have the game and would like a fuller appreciation of the world in which your fantastic characters interact.

        On a related note, my personal impression is that some of this is tending to read a little like a report rather than us engaging in the story with the characters. This works for when you do the time skip of two years and, to some extent, also for providing the overview of the battles at the gates. But I think it’s taken a bit far, for example when we are informed that “Sunan was not happy with . . .” The reader is ‘removed’ from the story rather than immersed. Just my opinion though; I don’t know how others see it?

  1. The idea of ‘face’ is indeed intriguing. The fact that she would let it hamper any efforts at retaliation/ ‘redemption’ for so long. . . To what extent is this manifested in everyday life in modern China?

    Two years in and they haven’t secured all access to a secret passageway that connects directly into living quarters? tsk tsk

    Thanks for the chapter.

    A little vague about this sentence: “Double the guards on the walls, but use anyone else from the Golden Dragon Sect or the soldiers or constables.” >>> Should it be ‘don’t use’?

    thousand from from the east to >>> delete one ‘from’

    However, he when it came to >>> delete ‘he’

    but were too disorganized >>> would be clearer to add ‘they’ were (/the group was) too
    (currently the subject of the phrase seems to be Guan Yunchang . Also in this sentence there is a typo with an extra ‘a’ – Yuanchang .)

    and the two sects’ >>> no need for the apostrophe

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