LOOG Chapter – 50

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Chapter 50: Meteor Hammers

The Pure Phoenix Sect had always been a bit smaller than the Golden Dragon Sect. Before the siege of Daolu, the Golden Dragon Sect numbered a bit over 200 members, whereas the Pure Phoenix Sect only had about 150 or so.

Casualties during the fighting were significant but not heavy. After camping at the foot of Mount Zhifu Shan, a census revealed that the refugees included 156 Golden Dragons, 126 Pure Phoenixes, 23 constables, roughly 300 soldiers, and hundreds of commoners. The majority of the constables and soldiers expressed interest in joining one of the sects or the other, but only about half of the commoners.

There was some disagreement among the leadership of the two sects regarding how to split up the new recruits. The Golden Dragons, of course, wanted to retain the edge they had in Daolu, whereas the Pure Phoenixes were pushing for an evening of the numbers.

Even after squabbling for the better part of the morning, Mao Yun and Sun Mai couldn’t come to an agreement.

Mao Yun slapped his thigh. “Our sects should be on equal footing, Brother Sun Mai! Even Kong Zhi said, have no friends who are not your equals!”

Sun Mai chuckled coldly. “Please, Brother Mao Yun. Are you really trying to match wits with me? Quoting Kong Zhi? Even children know that quote. However many quotes of Kong Zhi you know, I know ten times as many. No. A hundred times. Maybe a thousand! For example, Kong Zhi also said, never impose upon others what you would not choose for your own self.

“Would you choose to intentionally make yourself weak? I think not! Besides, Kong Zhi also said, the beginning… er, um… the beginning state is the perfect state! In the beginning, the Golden Dragon Sect was roughly thirty percent larger than the Pure Phoenix Sect. That ratio should be maintained, don’t you think?”

Mao Yun narrowed his eyes. “The beginning state is the perfect state? I’ve never heard that before. Did you just make that up? You did, didn’t you! That’s not a saying of Kong Zhi.”

Sun Mai snorted coldly. “A little test, Brother Mao. Thankfully, you passed it.” His eyes suddenly turned up in thought. “That is a great statement, though. Perfect for my classic scripture.” Looking at one of the nearby Golden Dragons, he said, “Quick, go write that down! I need to remember it!”

Even as the man hurried off to find writing utensils, Bao and Sunan entered the tent.

Both sides laid out their arguments, and in the end, Sunan insisted that the sects’ numbers be equal.

“Now is not the time to vie for superiority,” he said. “Our two sects need to work together, not compete with each other.”

Sun Mai and some of the other Golden Dragons grumbled a bit, but abided by his wishes.

Those among the new recruits who wished to join one sect or the other were allowed to do so. Those who had no preference were divided up to ensure that both sects had roughly 300 members.

The Golden Dragon Sect now had six major divisions, the leaders of which were referred to as Dragon Lieutenants. One of those lieutenants was Mao Yun’s sister Mao Mei. One of the previous lieutenants was promoted to Dragon Lord, with each Dragon Lord holding command over two divisions. Sun Mai retained his title as Chief Minister, and of course, Sunan was still the Sect Leader.

The Pure Phoenix Sect was organized into four vanguards, with each vanguard led by one of the Claws of the Phoenix. The only surviving member of the original Claws was Flying Death Liu Jiahui. One of the newly promoted Claws was Wang Tian, who had distinguished himself during Bao’s hunt for the Fei Beast. Mao Yun was given the title Phoenix General, with powers and responsibilities similar to Sun Mai’s. Bao, of course, remained as Chieftess.

Of the commoners, only some showed talent in terms of Qi cultivation, and were allowed to officially join one of the two sects. Most others had skills that were not martial in nature, but were valuable nonetheless, and were organized into a large outer sect that was officially seperate from either of the two main sects. Among that group were cooks, blacksmiths, tailors, and even a fan-maker named An Jian.

The necessary formalities, ceremonies, and rites, took an entire day. The following morning, the newly reorganized Golden Dragon and Pure Phoenix Sects broke camp and headed south. Their destination was a cave somewhere at the foot of Mount Fohe.

The ordinary sect members weren’t privy to the details, but the Dragon Lords, the Claws of the Phoenix, and other higher-ranking leaders were told that they sought a skilled blacksmith named Ruan the Flamingo.

The journey south was relatively uneventful. Master Wang Tian, newly promoted Claw of the Phoenix, had originally been a hunter, and had also been to Ruan’s cave before. He led the way as they left the shadow of Mount Zhifu Shan and headed toward the towering peak that was Mount Fohe.

A few days later, they made camp on a plateau that jutted out from the foot of Mount Fohe, which was only about an hour’s ride from the location of Ruan’s cave. They had decided that showing up at his doorstep with a small army wouldn’t be the best impression to give.

After camp was set and lunch eaten, a small group headed toward the cave, including Sunan, Bao, Mao Yun, Sun Mai, Mao Mei, and Wang Tian, as well as about ten ordinary members of each sect.

As the sun shone down, they threaded their way through the mountain foothills, keeping a moderate pace.

When they arrived at the cave, Bao immediately sensed that something was off. Things looked different than before.

“Chieftess Bao,” said Wang Tian. “Look. The door.”

When Bao turned to look at the door leading into the cave itself, she realized it was open. In fact, a moment later, a gust of wind caused the door to swing wide open, then slam shut momentarily before opening again.

The group immediately tensed up, and the sound of swords being drawn could be heard, as well as spears being unstrapped and arrows nocked.

“Bao?” Sunan said.

Bao slid out of her saddle and pulled two long daggers out from her belt. “Something’s off. Mao Yun, you stay here. Wang Tian, you’re with me.” Making quick eye contact with three of the other sect members, she continued, “You three as well.”

Sunan picked three Golden Dragons. Leaving Mao Mei with her brother, he and Sun Mai joined Bao as she padded cautiously up to the door.

Once inside, they found that the corridor was well-lit, just the way it had been last time Bao came. Keeping her daggers in a ready position, Bao led them slowly down the corridor toward the main room, where she had met with Ruan previously.

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary about the corridor or the room, and yet somehow, the strange feeling that prickled at the base of Bao’s neck wouldn’t go away.

“This all looks the same,” she said quietly to Sunan, “but my feelings tell me that something’s wrong. Where is Ruan?”

Sunan gripped his Ox-Tail Dao with two hands as he looked around. “No signs of a fight….”

Before they could confer any further, a voice echoed out from one of the doors at the other end of the room. “Well, what have we here?”

A man emerged, tall and well-built. He was dressed in red robes, and his head was shaved clean. A chain was wrapped around his right forearm, at either end of which was a metal ball carved into a monstrous face. Even as the man entered the room, others followed, men and women of varying ages and builds, all of whom wore red robes and had shaved heads. The entire group seemed to be armed with the chain-like weapons.

Before Bao or Sunan could react, eight red-robed men and women were facing them.

“Are you friends of Ruan?” Bao asked, gripping her daggers.

“Friends?” the man said. He chuckled. “I think not. Ruan has committed crimes worthy of death. However, he managed to scuttle away before he could be punished. What of you people? Are you friends of this Ruan?”

Bao immediately cursed the fact that she had left her Phoenix Crown in her saddle bag.

“We’ve never even met Ruan,” Sunan said. “We’ve only heard of him by reputation. If he’s not here, then we’ll just take our leave.” He took a step back, as did everyone else, including Bao.

“You’ll not take another step,” the man said. He suddenly sniffed the air. “Is that… the stench of blood? And of Demons? Who are you people exactly?” He slowly began to swing the chain back and forth with his right hand.

Sun Mai took a step forward and clasped hands formally. “I am Chief Minister Sun of the Golden Dragon Sect. Friend, I like your hair-do, but considering I don’t know your name, I am unable to compliment you properly. Would you please grace us with your honored surnames, and explain from whence you come?”

A cold glint flashed through the man’s eyes. “I am Blackleaf of the Hen-Shi Sect. We come from the Demon Maelstrom. Golden Dragon Sect you say? I’ve heard of you people.”

“We’re quite famous,” Sun Mai responded immediately. “Brother Blackleaf, although I’ve never heard of your Hen-Shi Sect, I’m sure it’s a powerful organization. I am the highest-ranking Golden Dragon here. Since Ruan the Flamingo isn’t present, our group will now take our leave. Farewell!” With that, he clasped hands in formal fashion and then turned to leave.

“Do you take me for a fool?” Blackleaf said. “It’s true, the Golden Dragon Sect is very famous, as is the Pure Phoenix Sect. There are even pictures of the famous leaders of those sects, Young Dragon Sunan and Heroine Bao. Do you really think I wouldn’t recognize those two most famous leaders who are standing directly in front of me?

“And do you really think that the Hen-Shi Sect, we, the most devoted followers of Hen-Shi, sworn to rid the world of all those who would kill or harm others, would possibly allow the blood-stained hands of people like you to remain within Qi Xien?” He extended his right hand, allowing the two monstrous iron balls to drop down until they almost touched the ground. “Our meteor hammers smite the wicked and cleanse the world of violence. And now, they will cleanse the world of you scum!”

Without another word, he swung the meteor hammer through the air, launching it directly at Sun Mai.

**

Several days to the north, a horse entered a ravine. A camp had recently been set up in the ravine, and little had been done to erase evidence of its presence.

Seated on the horse was a hulking figure clad in bone-like armor. Flanking him were a few other men in similar attire.

After entering the ravine, he looked around, sniffed the air, and then said, “There’s no need to lurk about. I know you’re here.”

A flash of gold could be seen from a nearby tree, and a moment later, a man dropped to the ground a few meters away.

“Greetings, Bone General,” said the man, adjusting his golden robes.

“Greetings, Golden Immortal,” the Bone General replied. “So, you’re chasing them too?”

“Indeed.” The Golden Immortal’s eyes flashed. “I have unfinished business with that boy and that girl.”

“As do I. The King of the Pure Ones expressed a disturbing lack of concern, but has indicated that I may hunt them down to my heart’s content. I intend to destroy their rag-tag army, and then watch them die in torment. Do you care to join me?”

The Golden Immortal grinned. “As long as I get to be there to watch them suffer.”

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4 thoughts on “LOOG Chapter – 50” - NO SPOILERS and NO CURSING

  1. Ah, Sun Mai’s hypocrisy to Mao Yun is returned through Blackleaf . . . 🙂
    And how long will our protagonists have to wait or search till they run into the resourceful ‘Flamingo’?

    Thanks for another enjoyable chapter.

    Would you chose to >> choose

    On of those >> One of

    could reacted >> react (/have reacted)

    A bit confused about your usage of ‘vanguard’: shouldn’t it refer to those ‘in front’ as opposed to the main body? Unless the Phoenix is a vanguard sect in relation to the other two . . .

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