Friday, January 9, 2009

Chapter 9 - The City’s First Bloody Battle

Book: Legend of the Longsword Master
Author: Huang Yi
Chapter 9 - The City’s First Bloody Battle

Ma Yuan and Hua Qian were both equally stunned, the true answer was already written in the expression of grief on my face, but I couldn’t bring myself to say it.

I pointed at Hua Qian and said, “She is Her Highness the Demoness.”

With a foolish expression Hua Qian replied, “What?”

I calmly swept my eyes over everyone before I cooly said, “This is not the time to be grieving, not when we are on the brink of war.  There must not be the smallest leak of the Demoness’ death, otherwise the city will be overthrown in a bloody massacre.”

Being the most astute Ma Yuan suddenly spoke up, “I understand.  So you want Hua Qian to disguise herself as her Highness the Demoness in order to maintain military order while also causing the imperial demons to be unclear about what is really going on.”

Another generally wearing a full suit of armor nodded, “Yes!  Right now this is the only solution, otherwise our army will collapse without putting up a fight.  Because we so highly revere her Highness it is best that they have no idea what has happened.”

Hua Qian stammered, “Her Highness is the commander of Mo Nu army, I’m afraid...”

I firmly responded, “Dont’ be afraid!  All you need to do is make an appearance.”

Ma Yuan clapped his hands and two maids whose eyes were still swollen and red from crying immediately ran in and led Hua Qian to another part of the palace.  Ma Yuan pulled me to the side and said, “Her Highness left something behind for you, I want to personally leave it in your care.”

Surprised I said, “What is it?”

Immediately someone approached holding a long rectangular box.  When I opened it I immediately gasped in admiration, “My god! This is a fine sword.”

When it comes to swordsmen even if they just glimpse a great sword they can’t help feeling extremely excited, but even more so when the enigmatic Demoness personally presented me with a good sword.

The sword itself was simple and unadorned, without any decorations, but it had an unusual curvature.  From the body of the sword it appeared as if layer upon layer of a strange rippling radiance emerged.  Although it was very hard to describe, the sword seemed as if it must be a thousand times quicker than a normal sword.

I reached into the box and grabbed on to the hilt.

A strange sensation spread from the cold sword into my hand.  It was an indescribable feeling as if this once dead object was now infused with the limitless power of a mighty weapon.

Ma Yuan said, “This has been her Highness’ sword since ancient times until now.  She used this sword to slay devils and defend justice.  Since she left this sword to you it is important that you carry on her legacy.”

As I thought about the sword I realized it wasn’t simple at all and was most likely a treasure from the ruins.  I hung it at my waist.

To the side Ma Yuan exhaled an “Ah!” sound before saying, “God!  This is really hard to believe.”

Looking up I glimpsed a white shadow.

From head to toe Hua Qian was disguised as the Demoness and besides a somewhat inferior light radiating from her eyes, her gestures and posture were perfectly deceptive.  It was still possible to keep Mo Nu from learning the fate of the Demoness.

Outside the city, as far as the eye could see were the besieging Black Helmet Warriors.  More than a dozen huge tree trunks on wheels were being pushed forward by hundreds of people.  Like a poisonous dragon they were working their way to the city gates.

There was smoke everywhere.

On the city walls the “Thunder Gods” were fed thunder balls and with a “boom” they would spit a gout of flame as smoke and fire together billowed up into the sky.  Soon after a fire would flash deep in the enemy’s position while flesh and blood  flew through the air.

Like a swarm of locusts, arrows darkened the sky as they were exchanged.

The Mo Nu General pointed towards the huge unmoving mass of soldiers in the distance and said, “That is the empire’s most elite battalion comprised of 100,000 soldiers and represents one fifth of the Empire’s total military strength.”  Pointing to the left and right of the main force he continued, “On the left Ge Zhan is leading the second and third legions and on the right is Lady Li Qin Jun leading the fourth and fifth legions.  Each legion contains 50,000 soldiers so their total number added together is 200,000.”

Ma Yuan said, “Right now the siege is being executed by Black Widow and the sixth and seventh legions.  We estimate the total Imperial strength to be between three and four hundred thousand, whereas our total strength is only seventy thousand soldiers strong.”  After losing the leader of Mo Nu, this military strategist revealed his inner fear.

Bai Dan appeared, running to my side and whispered, “Hua Qian disguised as Her Highness has already arrived to the city gate tower.  All you have to do is give the order and she can go up and begin issuing orders to the people.”

I replied, “It still isn’t time yet.  My instructions are that you wait and keep a careful guard.”  Bai Dan respectfully retreated to the side.  Since they were leaderless I became their new leader.  A loud rumbling erupted.  It was the sound of their war drums beating.  “BLURP!”  The noise of a blasting horn came next.  Both my father and Qi Bei were once imperial Black Helmet soldiers, so I was already familiar with their fighting and marching methods.

Sure enough the drums from Ge Zhan’s army began to beat a “Dong Dong Dong” sound in response to the emperor’s order to attack.

Both legions, one hundred thousand soldiers, began moving slowly prepared to assist Black Widow’s two legions already besieging the city.

Of the seventy thousand Mo Nu soldiers half of them were distributed around the city walls and inside each of the twenty eight watch towers.  On every bow was a sharp arrow while we waited for the enemy’s attack.  Large boulders, black oil, and the Thunder Gods were all ready to respond.

The quick strike cavalry unit sat in the square within the city gates waiting for the order to leave the city and attack.

My father said that the only way to ensure success when besieging a city, is for the attackers to have a force at least twice as big as the defenders.  Right now the imperial army was six times greater, and the black helmet warriors were also veterans of many campaigns.  The outcome was unsure.

Ever since the empire’s foundation there is nothing they have more experience in than besieging and conquering cities.  It is no wonder that the people of Mo Nu were frightened, plus the Demoness already died from their poisonous trap.  Fortunately the news did not spread, otherwise we wouldn’t even be fighting this battle.

I stared at the giant tree trunks approaching the gates, which they were going to dump into the combustible oil-filled moat to build a wooden bridge.  They were already within three hundred yards of the wall.

Curious I asked Ma Yuan, “How are we going to ignite the oil?”

Frustrated he replied, “We already lost the opportunity.”


Ma Yuan continued, “The past few days Her Highness was critically ill, which threw everyone into confusion.  Our communication deteriorated and before we knew it the enemy had already appeared and occupied the fire”

I creased my brows as I stared at the fire pit in front of the city walls.  If it really did burn for a long time, then it was an extremely powerful defense mechanism.  Too bad the pit was out of the Thunder God’s firing range, not to mention how impossible it would be with a bow and arrow.  Suddenly I understood everything.  Mo Nu was designed to have the entire army outside of the city walls with the burning moat as protection against the enemy, but once things went wrong with the Demoness Ma Yuan holed up like a turtle inside the city to sit and wait for death.  For no reason at all he caused them to be weak.

Bai Dan said, “What is that?”  We looked out only to see the thousands of soldiers carrying the large tree trunks placing them to the side and thousands of donkey carts behind them trying to catch up.  The carts were carrying bags.

I suddenly trembled as I shouted loudly, “Not good!  Those are sandbags they are going to use to fill the moat so that they can put down the tree trunks and cross over.”

Ma Yuan shouted, “Show them the thunder’s might!!”

From the top of the city wall dozens of thunder gods simultaneously spat out tongues of flame, and smoke and fire together traversed the space between the two opposing armies before falling into the positions of the opposing force.  The sound of the imperial army horn blasted again and just as before Ge Zhan moved his cavalry from the left wing, which quickly arrived at the moat.

It was the empire’s elite “Crossbow Cavalry” who used a special crossbow that had a shooting range that was three times farther than a regular bow and arrow.

The crossbows shot out their bolts like blazing rockets that rained over the moat to sprinkle down on the wall.  Repeated screams came from the Mo Nu defenders and in several places debris began to burn.  The sharp arrows had just greatly diminished the influence of the defender’s thunder gods and the donkey carts carrying the sand bags took advantage of the cover to press on to the edge of the moat.  The imperial soldiers were grabbing sandbags and had already thrown thousands into the moat, yet the donkey carts still bravely faced the fires of war to bring them more.

I coldly watched as things unfolded and surprisingly there was a place in my heart that was completely at peace.  Like a good swordsman, after facing countless death sentences before going to battle my heart did not waver.  I could not afford to allow the smallest amount of fear to creep in, but instead calmly search for the enemy’s weak point that would lead to their defeat.

My calm disposition began to influence the other Mo Nu soldiers, who didn’t seem to be as disorganized and at a loss as to what to do as before.

Like flying locusts the sandbags were tossed into the moat.  The clumsy yet exceptional method was very effective and in no time at all they had already filled half the moat.  The level of the oil rose and began to pour out.

From outside the city walls black smoke boiled into the sky.  Hundreds of thousands enemies advanced encircling me in a death trap.  Ge Zhan’s two legions kept launching bolts at the walls, in two waves to pin down the defenders while Black Widow’s legions continued to pave the way across the moat.

Li Qing Jun’s two legions and the Emperor’s personal elite troops were still held in reserve.  In terms of momentum and strength, we were currently under a great amount of pressure.

The design of Mo Nu was all hinged on attacking from the walls and the arrangement outside, but this was overcome by the besieging imperial army’s ingenious methods, which not only wiped out the advantage of the thunder gods, but the pit of fire became useless as well.  Now they had lost any advantage they once had and Mo Nu was now fighting a losing battle.

From the side Ma Yuan anxiously said, “What should I do?”

Grabbing on to the hilt of the sword that the Demoness gave to me I said firmly, “How many quick strike cavalry soldiers do we have?”

Ma Yuan replied, “We have three regiments of cavalry.  Each regiment contains ten thousand soldiers.”

“I will take ten thousand of with me out of the city to try and ignite the fire pit to cut off General Ge Zhan’s and Black Widow’s lines of retreat by carving the imperial army into two sections.  At the same time you will use the thunder gods to bombard both sides of the moat so that the enemy cannot organize to eliminate me and the cavalry.  Understand?”

“This is too risky”, said Ma Yuan.

I replied indifferently, “It is better than sitting still in here and waiting for death.  We have no choice but to fight and take back the initiative.”

The city gates opened and waved my sword in the sky as I shouted, “Charge!”

Like a whirlwind the ten thousand cavalry and I rushed out only to see the moat was already more than have filled with sand.  We made an impressive display of force when we galloped over the drawbridge in order to rush in and kill the enemy.  “Boom, Boom!!”

We continued across the bridge without looking back.  I knew that Ma Yuan would respect my command and begin firing the thunder gods and the two wings of the enemy at the moat were now being heavily bombarded.  Like a razor’s edge, the ten thousand cavalry and I were slicing straight towards the heart of the enemy.

I waved the sword I received in Mo Nu and it danced around wildly in the air as I used it to block the incoming arrows.  I took the lead as we approached the enemy ranks.

Assaults from both legions continually came.

I indignantly snorted, “Heng!”, as the tip of my sword slashed forward.

After a crisp noise two shafts of sharp wood were suddenly split like rotten wood and fell to the ground.  The two black helmet soldiers that shot the arrows and I all suddenly had a stupid expression on our faces.

Was it even possible to create a sword as inconceivably sharp as this one?

I was still the first to recover from the shock.  The sword flashed, and both men grabbed their throats.  Blood splashed out as they toppled to the ground.

Three infantrymen holding shields approached from the right.  They were going to try to kill my horse first.

“Heng!” I coldly grunted as I bent over the horses head and sent my sword out like lightning hacking at the shield of the closest enemy.  My original idea was strike hard and halt his advance, pushing him back into the others.  How could I have known that the shield wasn’t even an obstacle for the sword as it sliced right through it.  Like  small grains of corn being tossed, my enemy’s head flew up into the air.  The two parts of his shield went “Cheng!” when they fell to the ground shortly after.

All of the nearby enemies were suddenly petrified with fright.

When the cavalry following me saw that I was able to move through the battlefield unhindered like a God their morale began to soar.  To my left and right they surged forward throwing Black Widow’s siege army into confusion.

At that moment a group of enemy cavalry was approaching from the left.  When I saw the banner I knew that Ge Zhan was personally leading the cavalry’s charge.  I thought to myself that he was near the top of my list of people to kill, ranking second behind the Emperor.  It was clear that Ge Zhan was extremely cunning.  He was going to attack us right in the middle in order to cut our group in two and then eliminate us one by one.

How could I let him have is way?  I turned the horse around while my sword continued to weave unimpeded.  Enemy swords snapped while flesh and blood flew around as I cut a bloody path through the battlefield towards Ge Zhan’s legion to meet his charge head on.  I heard the sound of the bugle blowing beside me with commands for the armies to advance and retreat.  “HONG HONG HONG!”

The thunder gods lived up to their fame as they continued to decimate the entire battlefield.

In the blink of an eye the head of Ge Zhan’s cavalry met mine.  I was leading out in front of our cavalry and just like the sharp point and indomitable edge of an invincible blade we struck.  With my own transcendent sword skill along with the amazing sword, I unexpectedly had no response to my attack.  By this time, as I rushed to meet the enemy they all moved to avoid me.

Ge Zhan’s soldiers were much stronger, but they still had a hard time holding back the awesome might of my precious sword.

I began to kill everything.  As long as it looked like it had a black helmet the precious blade would penetrate without any hesitation.  My body was covered with blood and the deafening roar of battle made me feel both numb and excited.

Suddenly a sword thrust came from my right.  The wind whistled and it was obvious that the enemy was an extraordinary master.  I felt a cold shiver of fear as I slashed my sword in response.

The enemy probably knew the precious sword’s sharpness was unparallelled and avoided the blade entirely.  His blade dropped instead, slicing towards my thigh.

I yanked the horse’s head at the same time and the horse turned around allowing me to seize the chance to avoid my opponent’s cunning strike.  When I finally met my opponent face to face it turned out to be none other than Ge Zhan.  It was exactly the hated enemy who I wanted to meet.

I roared, “Ge Zhan!  Don’t think you will leave this place alive!”  I nudged my horse’s belly and the horse rushed forward while I ingeniously shifted my sword through the air, but I was quickly surrounded.  On  both sides of me three black helmet soldiers were suddenly decapitated and I quickly followed by thrusting straight towards Ge Zhan’s throat.

All around me the black helmet warriors were scrambling to get away as they trembled in fear.

In this situation I didn’t expect Ge Zhan to respond so bravely as he took one of the large black shields and swung it’s edge to meet my sword.  It was an extremely clever move because if he tried to block my unstoppable sword, it would slice through and he would be dead, but by using the long edge of the shield, even with my sword I couldn’t reach him.   Still, it wouldn’t be so simple to deal with me.  Even without the precious sword he is still not my match.

As he waved the shield it obstructed his line of sight.  I ducked and as my body bent I noticed his sword wouldn’t be able to cover his blind spot in time.  The precious sword stretched and spit out diagonally to sting his right rib, while the faint sound of wind and thunder began to rise.

Ge Zhan was worthy to be called a master swordsman.  The shield sweep came up empty he already knew he was in trouble so he pulled back hard on his horse’s reigns.  The horse was also a one in a million horse and unexpectedly with a “clop clop clop” it retreated three steps and avoided my sword.  I let a laugh escape as I urged my horse forward and chased the retreating enemy.  Ge Zhan unleashed a chop using all of his skill and backed by his full strength.

There was nothing fancy about this move but it carried with it a powerful energy full of desperation.  The victory between thousands of cavalry would be decided on this battlefield.  Ge Zhan knew that he had no more room to retreat because if he retreated again how could he regain his momentum again.  Raising up the shield he tried to stop me again.

All around me people retreated like a flood as the might of my sword became so intimidating it broke their courage.

Before long it looked like everyone else disappeared.

Now only Ge Zhan remained before my eyes and the slightest movement he made didn’t escape my scrutiny.  “DANG!”  The precious slammed into his shield.

Ge Zhan thought he could use the same trick twice and tried to overwhelm my sword with a swipe of the shield, but I cleverly shifted my sword in a circle before slanting it at an odd angle that would be difficult to predict where it would go next, even as he chopped with the shield.  “DANG!” The shield revealed a network of cracks like a spiderweb, then it seemed to disintegrate and sprinkle to the ground like falling sand and gravel.  It was clear that this one strike of his carried tremendous force.

Immediately Ge Zhan let out a miserable shriek as the hand he held the shattered shield with had also been ripped open and was drenched in blood.  As he screamed he quickly retreated.

I immediately nudged my horse to pursue while shouting, “Ge Zhan, that day when you tortured my father did you ever think a day like this would come?”  A look of fear spread across Ge Zhan’s face as he looked to his left and right only to see that the men who once pledged oaths of loyalty to him had all retreated far away leaving him to fight alone.

My sword chased him again and whistled loudly as it sliced through the wind.

Like a trapped beast he roared and moved to block with his sword.  In his desperation he already forgot that my precious sword could cut through metal like butter.  “Clang!”

I withdrew my sword.

Ge Zhan immediately slumped back into the saddle as a look of disbelief appeared on his face.

His broken sword fell.  Blood appeared and began to drip down Ge Zhan’s face.  Starting from his forehead it moved down to his eyebrows and this dripped down to the tip of his nose.

The expression in his eyes suddenly went blank before he crashed to the ground.

This cruel person finally died miserably on the battlefield.

My great hatred was finally vindicated, but I didn’t feel any joy.  Ge Zhan was only a tool used by the Emperor, who is the main culprit.  When the Mo Nu cavalry saw me defeat Ge Zhan their morale swelled even more which completely shifted the momentum.  On the other hand Ge Zhan’s troops had no more heart to continue fighting and were defeated like a landslide.  From the city gates came the sound of new fighting.  In a timely move, Ma Yuan sent out the rest of the cavalry to follow up the victory and pursue the retreating enemy.  “DONG DONG DONG” The Emperor’s battle drums began to beat.

Lady Li Qing Jun’s legions immediately began moving to the battlefield.

Out of all the people I feared to face the most, it was Lady Li Qing Jun.  No matter how cruel she is, she still had deep feelings for me, but I used all kinds of tricks to deceive her people and her heart.

Black Widow and Ge Zhan’s four legions began to retreat.

I thought it was awfully strange that Black Widow was also retreating since both of her legions were still intact.  There were only about seven or eight thousand of my cavalry left and if she crossed over it was possible that she would completely overwhelm us.  Retreating like this will only cause their army’s morale to drop even more, which was basically like granting me a huge favor.

Black Widow’s behavior defies all logic.

She was mysterious and full of charm, but also like a poisonous scorpion.  As soon as you became careless she would sting you without any hesitation.  I originally planned to ignite the moat, but now I changed my mind.  Since it would only trap the retreating armies inside without any escape, they would begin to fight bitterly like a caged beast.  They were currently still much more powerful than we were and currently neither side had gained an advantage, so what am I supposed to do?  

The thunder god’s were still putting on an impressive display of might.

Whenever a thunder ball would fall there would be a shower of enemy blood and flesh.  It was a sight almost too horrible to endure.

I stopped chasing the enemy on the plain outside the city.  The other two regiments also stopped chasing and fell back to join us as we lined up to wait.

From the walls of Mo Nu an explosive cry shook the battlefield, “Long live Lan Te!  Long live Lan Te!”

I was now their hero.  The tide of defeated black helmet warriors retreated back as they slowly crossed the wooden bridge hastily constructed over the fire moat.  Since it was so crowded many people fell into the black sticky liquid.  Because the black liquid was so thick and sticky once someone fell it was almost impossible to move.  The heart rending cries of people drowning and begging for help filled the air.

Between the two armies was a wide empty space.

Fifty feet between the two armies was the fire moat.  Lady Li Qing Jun’s army separated into two groups and approached from the left and the right.  The emperor’s elite troops moved to fill the gap in the center and they all came to a stop before the fire moat.  Fighting would break out at any moment.

The emperor, surrounded by his red ring guardians rode out.  He was a tall and powerful looking figure and his formidable armor made him look like a devil.  Everyone around him was intimidated by his mere presence.  

Even the soldiers in the Mo Nu army began to show an expression of fear.

I have to reverse this psychological blow, otherwise everything will be lost.

Lady Li Qing Jun appeared to his right while someone behind her opened up a large umbrella and held it up high, shading her from the sun.

At the moment the sun was at it’s apex in the sky.  It illuminated the corpses littered and strewn about the battlefield that ran red with rivers of blood.

Four legions retreated in defeat and withdrew to the rear to resume standing in a battle formation.  The large wooden trees and sand bags that were carried by the many donkey carts lay abandoned, and were scattered chaotically at the edge of the moat.  Under Ma Yuan’s command the rumble of the Thunder Gods being moved to new positions could be heard as the mouths of the great cannons were pointed at the enemy, ready at a moments notice to once again display their awesome power.

Ma Yuan arrived at my side.  I didn’t need to say anything.  I already saw the respect he held for me in his eyes.  One after another the other Mo Nu generals joined me.

The emperor advanced a little more, right up to the edge of the fire moat.  There was now only about three hundred yards between us as he shouted loudly, “Lan Te!  Well done!  I underestimated you!”

I laughed saying, “And I overestimated you!”

The emperor snarled and bellowed an angry response, “Arrogant child, today I will make sure you die without a proper burial.”

I said offhandedly,  “I should be saying the same thing to you.”

I deliberately belittled him in order to reduce the Mo Nu army’s fear of him.

The emperor emitted a long hissing sound before erupting into laughter, “The Demoness is dead, what can you hope to achieve?”

His words were like a sudden clap of thunder to everyone that heard it.

A confused undercurrent burst through the Mo Nu army and like an epedimic fear spread like a plague as everyone remembered that even up to this critical moment the Demoness still hadn’t appeared.  The only explanation was that she was already dead.

Without wasting any time the emperor screamed, “Attack!”

The emperor was an imposing giant standing over seven feet  tall.  Like a mountain that cannot be toppled he forged ahead toward the Mo Nu soldiers, so I ran headlong in his direction.

Following behind him were three powerful cavalry regiments.  Each regiment was made up of twenty thousand soldiers.  Their shiny black helmets glittered as they lifted up large shields in front of the horse’s heads.  Even though they were moving along swiftly the formation didn’t appear to be the slightest bit disorderly!  The center regiment charged while the other two regiments followed slightly behind to protect the right and left flanks.  With the completed formation they crashed forward.

In addition the emperor had gathered together another forty thousand infantry who were slowly moving up, prepared to support the cavalry at the front.

Lady Li Qing Jun also had two legions but she merely held them back without moving as if she was waiting for the two sides to exhaust themselves before entering the fray.  Who knows what she was planning.

Faced with an overwhelming offensive, hearing the startling news of the Demoness’ death, as well as seeing the unconquerable figure of the demonic emperor, the faces of the Mo Nu warriors all had a solemn expression.  Their resolve had been stolen from them.

Taking the lead the emperor  was the first to begin crossing temporary log bridge over the unignited moat of fire.

I nodded  at Ma Yuan, giving him the signal.

Ma Yuan made a sign and immediately someone began blowing a horn from behind.

The emperor was already a third of the way over the moat of fire.  Several thousand cavalry were already on the bridge following behind him when an ear-splitting noise erupted.  At the same time all of the Mo Nu soldiers and officers were staring death in the face.

The deafening roar erupted from the walls of Mo Nu city in the form of a deafening cheer.  “Long Live Her Highness!  Long Live Her Highness!”

Everyone turned their heads to look back and at almost the same time the cheer began to come from the army as well as their morale swelled.

Hua Qian disguised as the Demoness, clothed in pure white, ascended a high point on the wall.  Her clothes fluttered in the wind.  The emperor raised his head and saw the Demoness.  His body seemed to vibrate with surprise.  Suddenly his horse slowed down.

I laughed bitterly as the rocket arrow bows were drawn.  A “Sa!” noise was heard as the rocket arrows slanted upward and flew over the emperor.  Extreme accuracy wasn’t our concern since we were aiming at the fire moat.  “Peng!”

In the blink of an eye a roaring wall of flame extended out in both directions along the fire moat.  The raging inferno took the emperor’s unbeatable force and cut it into two.

Many war-horses wildly neighed, while leaping in surprise and losing their footing.  Many riders were thrown off their horses.

Unbearable cries came from those who had fallen into the fire moat earlier and were now tragically sent to their death.

The wooden bridge across the fire moat still wasn’t burning yet, and the emperor with is cavalry boldly rushed onward.

Seizing the opportunity I suddenly shouted, “THUNDER GODS!”   Boom.....Boom.....Boom.....

Dozens of flaming tongues licked out from the thunder gods as the elite troops from the imperial army were blown to pieces.  Some thunder balls fell on the wooden bridge breaking the bridge and sending the enemy falling into the flaming moat.

The emperor rushed over the last fourth of the flaming moat, coming straight for me.  Following him were thirty thousand elite cavalry troops.  The other thirty thousand had been thrown into confusion as the moat of fire successfully cut them off.

Like raindrops the rocket arrows fell into the fire moat.

The four sided fire moat had transformed into a four sided fire spitting flaming snake.

At last the crucial life or death moment arrived.  Taking the lead, I wildly shouted as I rushed forward.

When the Mo Nu army saw me acting so bold and courageous it was a huge boost to their morale.  A powerful shout soon followed from them.

The distance between the emperor and I began to rapidly disappear.

The emperor’s were filled with a scorching blood-rage hatred while the sword in his hand was pointed perfectly straight before him.  His big feet unceasingly kicked the sides of his horse and he shot straight towards me like a flying arrow.  

The bizarre armor that encased his entire body glittered brightly beneath the sun.

I now held the entire fate of Mo Nu in my hands.  If I was unable to deal with him then Mo Nu would be completely overthrown today.  At that very moment, he and I were about to have our first encounter.

Without wasting any time we suddenly clashed together and I immediately felt as if I were in the mouth of a Tiger and went numb.  As expected the emperor had ungodly strength.

My arm was paralysed as I lost all feeling in it and the danger only increased.  If I didn’t have such a strong will my sword would have already fallen to the ground.  The emperor turned his horse around and astonishment flashed through his eyes.  Only two thirds of his sword was left.

My sword really was a treasure from the ruins.

If the emperor were to suddenly charge at me with his broken sword he would find that I didn’t even have the power to lift my sword, but his horror was no less than mine.  In his long life this was the first time he discovered a weapon that could pierce his mighty armor.

The emperor’s war-horse stamped the ground ready to go back into battle.  The horse was a perfect match for the giant man encased in armor and red cape hanging behind him.  No one dared step forward to stroke the tiger’s beard[1], but they did succeed in cutting the emperor off from the cavalry force that followed him over.

The emperor shouted, “Well done boy!  Did you get your sword from that place?”

My paralyzed arm suddenly convulsed in violent pain, but I was secretly pleased.  It meant that my arm was regaining it’s feeling and strength again.  The hilt of my sword was wet and sticky, which was of course my own blood from when I struck the emperor and violent shaking split my hand open.  

I shouted back, “Do you come from the same place that the sword came from?  You have done many unjust things, how can Heaven allow you to continue to do evil?”

The emperor looked up in the sky with a smile on his face for a long moment before replying, “If she was able to handle me, she would have dealt with me a long time ago.  There is no need to delay until now.  You are the first person in this world to ever resist my sword, so today I will let you live for a few more minutes.”

When he finished he twisted his horse around towards the large drawbridge that crossed the moat and quickly left.

I shouted “not good” to myself and kicked my horse to pursue him.

The emperor began to slaughter the Mo Nu soldiers in his way.  As soon as someone met him they would be flung away in a splash of flying blood.  Unexpectedly nobody was able to slow him down.

In the blink of an eye the emperor’s war-horse reached the draw-bridge as the Mo Nu city guards and cavalry soldiers rushed onwards with no regard to their own safety to guard the bridge.  Wherever the emperor swung broken sword one after the other cavalry soldier collapsed as heads and blood fell into the moat surrounding the city wall.[2]

I was boiling in anger.  I couldn’t attend to my arm which was still in extreme pain, so bracing myself I raced onward to catch up.

With a violent shout the emperor moved his horse to stand in the center of the drawbridge.  All of the Mo Nu soldiers were trembling in fear and like a breaking tide they move to the edges of the bridge to get away.  Both ends of the bridge were filled with surprised and scared people, while arrows continued to fall like raindrops.

The emperor ignored the arrows striking his impenetrable armor only swiping his heavy sword at the arrows aimed at his mighty war-horse.  I broke through the crowd of people and moved over the bridge.  My horse’s hooves beat the wooden planks of the bridge with a dry crisp “clop clop clop”.  Above Hua Qian was watching me.

The emperor looked into the sky with a laugh, pulled back his hand and threw his broken sword.

In that critical situation I was not able to consider the secret information and wildly shouted, “Hua Qian move away!”  The broken sword flashed like a bolt of lightning between the emperor and Hua Qian.  The sword shot perfectly straight up the city wall at the disguised Hua Qian.  When she heard my warning she instinctively jerked backwards.

That was the only thing that saved her life.

The heavy sword swept past her face, missing by a hair breadth and sunk firmly into the wall behind her.  Unexpectedly it sunk deeply into the solid rock of the wall all the way to the hilt, showing the power that was behind that strike.

The emperor slowly turned around, his eyes flashing as he said in a low voice, “Hua Qian?  She is not the Demoness, she is Hua Qian!  Brilliant...”

I could no longer hide the truth from him, but fortunately the other people did not understand our conversation.

The emperor could not stop from laughing as the ecstasy he felt was overflowing.  The Demoness was from the ruins and was a rare creature.  If she were truly dead then where else could somebody be found that could restrain him.

The moment where the war was going to be won or lost had finally arrived.

I jumped off my horse to stand at one end of the bridge.  The emperor stopped laughing and also dismounted to stand like a towering statue at the other end.

With another slight laugh he leisurely reached for the belly of the horse and drew out another heavy sword from its sheath.  This sword weighed ten times more than a normal sword and was also twice as long.  The average person wouldn’t even be able to keep their balance if they tried to hold it.  Only someone with ungodly strength like the emperor could wield it with ease.

Hua Qian and the tens of thousands of soldiers on the city walls were all intensely focused on us.

Both sides suddenly stopped fighting as everyone, near and far, gathered to watch this life and death battle.

Only the distant sound of continuing hand to hand fighting and the roar of the burning moat could be heard.  Thick smoke covered the sky, covering up the shining sun and turning heaven and earth pale.  The emperor’s two arms hung loosely to his side, the right arm extended a little outward to avoid scraping his heavy sword on the ground while step by step he powerfully walked towards me.  Every step he took cause the bridge to shudder with a deep “PU” sound as if he was stomping on a war-drum.  I threw out all of my distracting thoughts and began to focus completely on the emperor’s body, paying attention to every inch of how his muscled moved, the timing and rhythm of how he walked.  Suddenly he quickly accelerated, bearing down on me like a mountain.  A cold light flashed as his heavy sword slashed diagonally upward from the lower left attacking the left side of my neck.  Such a huge sword suddenly seemed to move as nimbly as a sewing needle.  I easily avoided the heavy strike with a sudden leap forward and both of use crashed into each other, my sword aimed at his chest.  I was already considered a tall and sturdy man, but the emperor still stood half a head above me.  When I dashed forward he moved his sword to protect his heart, exactly where mine was aimed.  I didn’t expect the emperor to be able to rescue himself from ruin in such a way.  I heard him snort contemptuously  while he began to retreat.  At the same time he lifted his heavy sword taking a sudden opportunity to swing again at my neck.  He already cut off numerous heads with their blood spraying out soon after, and it seemed he was particularly fond of beheading people.  In the sunrise city within his palace there were many different heads, preserved with drugs, on display.  All of them were high ranking enemy generals that he had cut down himself.  That was his favorite plunder, but I wasn’t going to let him succeed.

His attack caught me by surprise and he seized the initiative, but I wasn’t going to let him get away so easily.  Like a shadow I tightly moved in on his left side which was the blind spot for the heavy sword in his right hand.

The emperor let out an indignant sound and made a fist with his left hand, punching out at my precious sword.  Holding the sword I cleverly shifted it slightly outward barely avoiding his iron fist and twisting it into the space his fist just made towards his waist.  The sword drew a tiny circle in the air before it arrived causing him to hastily pull his fist back.

The sound of fierce wind could be heard as my glittering precious sword struck nothing.

The emperor never expected my sword skills to have reached such a profound level, plus he only every discussed sword theory when he met with Qi Bei and my father.  But of course that still didn’t take into account his super human strength and impenetrable armor.

Facing death he was not throw into confusion he raised his head to avoid the strike and flicked his finger diverting the tip of my blade.

His heavy sword was already answering, chopping down at my right arm.

All at once I seemed have lost the advantage.  With a loud laugh I swiftly withdrew my right hand and tossed the sword to my left hand.  The emperor immediately chopped through empty air.  I took a step forward and like lightning thrust my sword forward past the network he was weaving, straight at his throat.  The emperor let out a fierce roar and advanced instead of retreating blocking my sword with a hack from his. He was obviously trying to avoid my sword, not even wanting it to lightly brush him.  This was a weakness I could use.

I quickly retreated nimbly rotating my sword to strike towards his heavy sword.  If he knew how numb and useless my arm was after I broke his sword earlier he would not hesitate to continually strike with all his strength, but I didn’t want him to know what my real situation was.

Soon the two weapons were almost touching.

At this point there was no way I could pull back.

At the most critical moment the emperor tightly grunted and pulled back at the last second.

Now that I had the upper hand I let out  long whistle as I shot my sword out with an all out counterattack.  No sword movement was unnecessary or fancy but the strikes came in an endless succession of odd angles and varying speeds.  Every movement was executed perfectly resulting in every strike being potentially fatal.  The emperor was at a huge disadvantage since he didn’t dare directly block my sword so he was forced to use more clever techniques in order to dissolve and redirect my soaring blade. “Qiang Qiang Ding Dang!”

In an instant the precious sword and his heavy sword struck each other numerous times.

I remembered the oceans of blood he spilled with hatred in my heart.  I remembered the innumerable ghosts seeking vengeance who died during the emeperor’s long reign.  I recalled the cuts and bruises from the torture of my father and how he brutally wiped out my relatives.  I remembered my deep love for Xi Qi, and the reverence I held for the Demoness and Qi Bei.

Gathered around the draw-bridge there were no less than forty thousand people engaged in a bitter struggle.

The Mo Nu soldiers inside and outside of the city burst into a wave of cheers to help encourage me.

After I executed 107 strikes the emperor tried to retreat behind his horse.

The horse became frightened and began to neigh and stomp it’s hooves while backing away.  Suddenly the horse reared up behind the emperor, it’s two front hooves in the air.

Faced with my earth-shattering offensive, the emperor did not know how to cope with it and his thinking became scattered.  “PENG!”  Unexpectedly a pair of horse hooves came crashing down on his back.

The emperor lost his balance as he staggered in my direction and his heavy sword was naturally extended outward.

This was a golden opportunity.

In an instant my mind became tranquil as all extraneous thoughts left.  The only thing I could see was the emperor’s wide open chest.

My sword flashed and like a shooting bolt of electricity pierced forward.

The wind was calling, and thunder sounded [风在叫,雷在响。]??

This one strike was done with all the power my body could summon.

My father’s continual training from childhood, plus the enlightenment Qi Bei gave me, along with the countless combat experiences I have had these days all emerged at this exact moment.  I remember my father once said, “You were a natural born swordsman, and you will become so great that you will rise like the sun over the earth.  You should not only be a ruthless swordsman but also quick witted and resourceful.  This will make you the most formidable sword master in the universe.”

The emperor was worthy to be called a master swordsman.  Even when at such a disadvantage he was still able to calmly assess the situation and try to arrest his forward momentum while turning to the side in an attempt to avoid the blade.

But it was already too late.

The tip of the sword made “Dang!” sound when it struck his gleaming armor.

Everything under heaven and on earth suddenly seemed to stop when this moment came.

The sword penetrated and entered his body.

In an instant it already sunk in several inches.

An earth shaking cry came from the emperor.  He could not believe that the sword really could tear through his armor.  The armor that came from the distant and lost civilization that had created an unparalleled, rare, and invincible armor for him.

The blade slid several more inches deeper.

As the blade rubbed against his armor it let out an ear-piercing shrill ringing noise.  From within the cut flashes of electricity could be seen.  The sword stopped sliding in as the emperor tightly clenched the blade with his left hand.

His large mouth was stretched open in pain and like peals of thunder he let out blood curdling screams of pain that spread widely over the battlefield.  He continued to roar like a wounded beast.

Once again my sword, with some difficulty this time slid another inch.

In this way I stubbornly continued to thrust when abruptly the sword hit an obstruction and I could not keep my grip when I was hit hard in the stomach by the hilt of my sword.  I immediately felt as if I had been struck by lightning.  My throat began to itch before blood spurted out of my mouth and sprinkled on to the sword and the emperor’s armor.

All of the sudden everything became completely quiet.  Nobody knew what was going to happen next.  “DANG!”  The heavy sword in the emperor’s right hand fell to the ground.

The emperor violently screamed again as he pulled the sword out of his chest with his left hand.  As soon as it came out his blood sprayed towards me but I instinctually moved to the side to avoid it.

He flung the sword gripped in his hands away with all his strength.  Even if he had a surge of strength there was no way he could defeat me with the sword, the attacks that would come from overhead, and the troops from the city.  The Mo Nu soldiers rushed to close him in on the bridge.

The emperor wildly shouted, “I’ll be back!” [3]

When he finished speaking he leaned his body to the side and jumped into the moat.  With a “Peng!” sound I collapsed on the bridge, but was immediately propped up only to see a blood red river gradually leaking away.

The emperor would successfully escape as long as he continued at the same pace and reaches the other side of the moat.  Besides me, who else can hurt him?

A distant horn sounded.  I still did not know why Lady Li Qing Jun held back.  The horn was sounding the retreat.

Mo Nu finally won the battle.

The raging inferno was still burning.

Mo Nu could finally rest.

What is the secret hidden within the ancient ruins?  Will I be able to find it?  Where did the princess go?  Why did the mysterious and unpredictable Black Widow seem to help me at every turn?  Why must the Empire and Mo Nu continue their struggle against each other?  What are these enigmatic objects and what mysterious country did they come from?

All these things separate things, they somehow seemed to be interrelated.

Before my eyes a hard fought victory was won.

The emperor disappeared without a trace.

I lost all power to support myself.  My legs were both soft and if I tried to stand now I would just crumble back to the ground.

I collapsed into Hua Qian’s white embrace.  Ma Yuan, Bai Dan, and many others surrounded us their faces were beaming with joy.  I looked up and saw underneath the Hua Qian’s face, only to see tears running down her beautiful face.

[1] - “Stroke the tiger’s beard” is a way of saying that nobody had the courage to attack the emperor.  He is basically the “tiger” that nobody else wants to mess with.
[2] - Just to avoid confusion here.  There are two moats if you missed it.  One is the flaming moat outside the city.  This second one is right up against the city walls.
[3] - I have Arnold stuck in my head from the emperor looks like terminator to me :(