LOOG Chapter – 51

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Chapter 51: Sulfur. Saltpeter. Charcoal.

Blackleaf and his fellow comrades from the Hen-Shi Sect were impressive-looking, and spoke in a very domineering fashion, but the truth was, they couldn’t match up to the Golden Dragon and Pure Phoenix Sects in terms of experience or skill.

Sunan and Bao had led their forces to fight Ogres, hunt monsters, and kill Demons. They had fought in tournaments, on city walls and on rooftops, in back alleys, forests and rivers. In terms of martial arts, they had forged their own paths, and built their skills by means of both trial-and-error, and hard work.

The Hen-Shi Sect, on the other hand, was a reclusive group who had just begun to flex their muscles in the outside world. Although Bao and Sunan would have no way of knowing it, Blackleaf and the other seven from the Hen-Shi Sect had never actually fought anyone of a similar skill or power level as themselves. Although they possessed unusual strength, and despite the fact that their meteor hammers were capable of inflicting shocking levels of damage, in the end, experience trumped strength.

Sun Mai easily evaded Blackleaf’s initial surprise attack. In the moments that followed, the other Hen-Shi Sect fighters hurled their meteor hammers out with astonishing force. However, only one of the meteor hammers hit its intended target, slamming into one of Sunan’s Golden Dragons. The man was sent flying backward until he slammed into the wall with a sickening crunch.

All the other meteor hammer attack were countered with ease. Then, the Golden Dragons and Pure Phoenixes fought back.

Two of the Hen-Shi Sect fighters were killed in the first volley.

The rest of the fight lasted for only a few breaths of time.

In the end, five of the original eight red-robed fighters were dead. The Golden Dragon who had been hit in the first attack was the only casualty on their side.

The three enemies who survived, including Blackleaf, were quickly bound and gagged.

After a more thorough search, they confirmed that Ruan was nowhere to be found. From the look of things, he’d left in a hurry.

The cave was much larger than they’d anticipated. In fact, it wasn’t so much a cave, as a cave network, of which Ruan had only made use of part. As for the deeper recesses, they had clearly been occupied in times past, perhaps by a local warlord or bandit.

It didn’t take long for Bao and Sunan to agree that it was a good place to make a temporary base. They immediately sent word back to the camp, then turned their attention to Blackleaf.

After his gag was removed, the man merely glared at them icily, but didn’t say anything.

Bao and Sunan exchanged a glance.

“Why did you come for Ruan?” Bao asked.

Blackleaf simply stared at her.

“Why did you attack us?” Sunan growled, his hands tightening into fists.

Blackleaf snorted. A moment passed, then he said, “I already told you, Young Dragon. We are sworn to rid the world of all those who would kill or harm others. I don’t know how many lives you’ve taken, but I can tell that your hands reek of blood. It is our duty to cleanse the world.”

Bao reached over and picked up one of the meteor hammers. Hefting it, she said, “You want to cleanse the world of killers… by killing them? Isn’t that a bit of a contradiction?”

“It’s called fighting poison with poison,” Blackleaf replied. “When the world is clean, the instruments of cleansing will also be cleansed. This is not the Perfect Realm, and thus, we must use imperfect methods to achieve that which is pure.”

Bao and Sunan looked at each other again, and could see the odd expressions in each other’s faces.

“It’s a good thing our friend Sun Mai isn’t here at the moment,” Bao said, “otherwise I think he might be interested in debating you. But I’m not. I couldn’t care less about philosophy. Tell us why you came looking for Ruan, and where he is now. If you do, we’ll let you go.”

Blackleaf’s eyes narrowed. “You expect me to trust the word of wicked murderers like you? You killed five of us!”

“After you attacked us with no warning and killed one of my men!” Sunan barked. “Truth be told, I don’t care what you call us or what you accuse us of. If we wanted to kill you, you would be dead.” He picked up the gag and took a step forward. “Tell us what we want to know.”

“Or what?” Blackleaf said

“Just tell us what we want to know. You have my word you’ll be on your way before the moon rises tonight.”

Blackleaf looked at Sunan, then Bao. Then he took a deep breath. “An object of great power was stolen from us, the branch of a tree that once grew in Emo Cheng.”

“The underworld?” Bao asked. In the past, she wouldn’t have believed his words for even a moment. However, her view of the world had changed after her encounter with the Phoenix Demon.

“Yes, the underworld. Our Sect acquired a branch of the Epoch Tree, which we intended to use in our fight against evil. However, that branch was stolen from us.”

“By Ruan?”

“By another. I only know that his surname is Du, and that he is a man of vast intelligence and cunning. As we followed him across the lands, we soon realized that his destination was Mount Fohe, and considering that was the case, it was obvious that he sought Ruan the Flamingo. Ruan is known to us; his skills border on inhuman.

“The truth is that we arrived here only shortly before you did, to find that both Ruan and Du were gone, presumably having fled to parts unknown.

“So now you know the whole story. The time has come to live up to your end of the bargain.”

Bao swung the meteor hammer back and forth slowly. “How do we know you’re telling us the truth?”

Blackleaf frowned. “Search the area. I would wager my life that you’ll evidence of the passage of Ruan and Du. Du came here on horseback. Presumably Ruan had a horse or mule as well. My guess is that they would head west. The passage to the Demon Maelstrom is southeast, in the Southern Desert, so Du will obviously not return to the east or the south. The way north is mountainous and inhospitable to travelers. The Kushen Basin, however, is the perfect place for a fugitive like Du. From there, he could easily head to the Juren, or Naqan.”

Bao slowly lowered the meteor hammer to the ground and looked over at Sunan. “I’ll go find Wang Tian.”

After being promoted to Claw of the Phoenix, one of Wang Tian’s first acts had been to gather some of the best hunters, scouts, and trackers in the sect to form a special team that, with Bao’s permission, he called the Eyes of the Phoenix.

It only took minutes from the moment they were mustered until they found Du and Ruan’s tracks. Just as Blackleaf had surmised, they had fled to the west, Du on horseback, Ruan riding a mule.

Wang Tian immediately assigned two of the Eyes of the Phoenix to begin following the trail. Meanwhile, Bao returned to Sunan and Blackleaf.

“He was right,” Bao announced.

A sneer flickered on Blackleaf’s face, but it vanished just as quickly as it appeared. “Now you owe me my freedom,” he said.

Sunan nodded. “You’ll have it. You’ll be escorted south and then set free with no weapons. If we see you near our camp again, we won’t be so merciful.”

With that, Sunan and Bao left to confer with their advisors and the other leaders of the two sects.

In the end, it was agreed that Sun Mai and Mao Yun would lead a group of ten to try to catch up to Du and Ruan. They would leave the following morning at the crack of dawn, with the fastest horses available. Bao and Sunan would remain behind to continue to consolidate the newly reorganized sects, and focus on training.

**

Things were a bit chaotic as the Golden Dragon Sect and the Pure Phoenix Sect made a temporary home in the caves at the foot of Mount Fohe. After the cave assignments were doled out, and everyone settled in, fan-maker An Jian set out to explore.

“Shouldn’t this mountain be called Fone, not Fohe?” he thought. It was true that in later times, this mountain would come to be called Fone, instead of its current name of Fohe. However, despite all the knowledge that rested in An Jian’s head, he couldn’t come up with any theories why that might be.

The caves were lit by lamp or candle, and most of them were very cold. However, not every place could be described as chilly. For example, one side cave had been set up as a kitchen. Fires were stoked, and cauldrons hung to stew meat and vegetables. In another location was a room that the previous owner of the cave had used as a forge. Already, the sects were expanding the forge, and also using the existing setup to repair equipment and craft new weapons, especially Ox-Tail Daos, as well as spears and arrowheads.

It was toward the forges that An Jian headed. Upon arrival, he found that luck was with him. Dragon Lieutenant Zhou, one of the newly promoted leaders of the Golden Dragon Sect, was currently presiding over the activities. The cave was already very hot, and Dragon Lieutenant Zhou, a stout, middle-aged man with a scraggly beard, was sweating profusely.

An Jian hurried over and offered formal greetings.

“You’re An Jian, right?” Dragon Lieutenant Zhou said.

“I am!” replied An Jian. “I’m honored you would remember my name.”

“I remember you ran a fan shop back in Daolu, right? Delightful Breeze, or something like that?”

“The Delightful Wind Shop.”

“Right, right. You don’t happen to have any fans for sale right now, do you?”

“For sale? Dragon Lieutenant, do you really think I would deign to sell things to fellow members of my sect? I’m a member of the Outer Sect now! Here….” With that, he pulled a fan out. “Dragon Lieutenant, the poem on this fan is special. I came across it in a scroll that merchants brought from the distant lands of Naqan. By luck, a friend of mine back in Daolu was able to translate the original poem. Well, in any case, it might provide you a bit of respite from this hellish heat!”

He handed the fan over to Dragon Lieutenant Zhou, who took it in hand and examined the poem.

The wind, snapping trees, dissolving mountains, serenity. What does it mean?”

An Jian chuckled. “I”m just a simple fan-maker, not a poet. All I know is that it sounds lovely to the ear, and looks beautiful when put to the pen. Good luck, Dragon Lieutenant Zhou!”

As An Jian left, Dragon Lieutenant Zhou began to fan himself. An Jian smiled. “Thus it begins,” he murmured to himself. “Next, I need to find some sulfur. Sulfur. Saltpeter. Charcoal. Although Divine Fire has not yet been invented in this era, all the ingredients exist. Bao and Sunan won’t have any idea what hit them.”

Get behind the scenes info and material for your Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate session at the Bedrock Blog. This one is a must see as it gives the true story behind the Epoch Tree, information that will not be revealed in the narrative of the story itself. Check it out!

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4 thoughts on “LOOG Chapter – 51” - NO SPOILERS and NO CURSING

    1. (That should be ‘have you created an original’ . . .)

      made use of part of >>> delete the last ‘of’

      You have my words >>> typically, ‘word’ is singular in this usage

      The passage to Demon Maelstrom southeast >>> is a word missing here?

    2. Weird. I could swear I responded to this already. It’s mostly original, although a lot of the quotes from Kong Zhi are basically Confucius quotes (In Chinese, Confucius is Kong Zi).

      Would you be able to send me an e-mail at [email protected]? I want to ask you something “offline”

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