This is a story of a land you know... and a land you do not know. The Land where Martial arts chivalry was born. A story of Nine Clans… Nine lost Heroes… and Nine Heroes yet to be found. This is the Ming Dynasty — The Era of Nine Dragons.

This Land holds many adventures, many wonders, and many secrets, some horrible and others beyond belief. Acts of heroism, romance, and fierce combat will unfold before you, like lotus petals, to nourish…

The seeds of The Dragon within you.

To join the heroes of the Land, join 9Dragons.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dream Faced Buddha

Zixia Dong, 12 years after the War of Nine Dragons

Celestial Crone pauses her story for a moment to look at the young disciples sitting in silence before her. Six young girls, in their mid-teens, looking at her with incredulous eyes. And yet, they have been handpicked from many who have come to the gates of the Sacred Flower clan's stronghold and in each of them there can be seen a glimpse of the Mistress of Chaos herself, in the first of her three forms: the young maiden. Celestial Crone coughs, a dry old woman's cough to clear her throat, before continuing her story:

"She was greeted there by Fachang, Shaolin’s elder, and she knelt before him, begging entrance. Fachang listened to her story, observed her great skills, and offered her a blessing and an apology, for he could not grant entrance through their gates to any woman, not even one as talented as she. “But the Emperor will kill me!" she said. "Where is your great Shaolin mercy?” To which he replied, “My mercy, child, is not so great as this karma which grips you.” With that he bowed and closed the temple door.

Caught between an evil man who wanted to marry or kill her, and a supposedly kind man who denied her safe haven, despite her ability, simply because of her sex, Sura Mahu vowed that she would survive and change the world. She murdered the first monk she came across and stole his robes, then shaved her head and walked back down the mountain, disguised. She passed right by Heavenly Demon’s patrols unnoticed. Once safely away, Sura Maru proceeded to found her own clan, the order of The Sacred Flower."

Bloody Plain, the Tenth Year of War of the Nine Dragons

For ten long, hard years The War raged, spreading pestilence, plague, famine and death throughout The Land. Disharmony touched the life of every man, woman and child, and it became devastatingly clear that no matter who won The War, The Land itself might never recover its vitality. The skies opened and the heavens wept for the common people. A prayer could be found on every set of lips, to gods known, and gods secret, to end The War. Their answer came in the form of vagabond with unknown past and unknowable future. And yet, he managed to convince each of the nine warring factions to send a representative, a Dragon, to the wasteland known as Bloody Plain. Upon arrival, they were magically compelled to duel against each other. All who lost or were slain were to retreat from the world along with their clan and desist any further warfare.

The Immoral Monk of Shaolin and Sura Mahu, the Mistress of Chaos from Sacred Flower stepped forward. The enmity between their clans deep buried roots. While Shaolin closed their door to any woman, no matter how skillful, the Sacred Flowers seeked to avenge thousands of years of humility by teaching their female disciples subtle but deadly techniques, based on speed and seduction rather than force. The monk's spade whirled about at dazzling speed, though it seemed to hit only the ground more often than not, and sometimes, a blood red dagger countered its attacks while seeking to make its way through his ribs. However, none of the two Dragons appeared an immediate winner.

As darkness descends, the other Dragons can see little of what is going on in their midst, where the monk and the flower have been fighting for hours, seemingly evenly matched. They are both tired, covered in scratches and bruises, but non willing to give up the fight. Just as the sun is about to set for good, Sura Mahu manages to draw one more slash with her dagger across the Immoral Monk's chest, cutting through both skin and the robe of his order, through the holy beads he wears and... through something else. A small amulet falls in the dust at their feet, two entwined violet snakes. What is an enchanted amulet of the Sacred Flower doing in a Shaolin monk's possession? For they cannot be stolen, not even pried from a dead body. They must be given willingly, lest they should crumble to dust. For a brief moment, Sura Mahu pauses in disbelief, however it is a fatal mistake because a decisive blow of a spade strikes her to the ground, knocking the air out of her lungs. "Curse you, whore... curse you double, curse you thrice. May you live on in your treachery, bittered, aged and withered prematurely and forever bound to this scum" she breathes into the dust, spitting blood.

Southern Death Valley in Zhengzhou, 12 years after the War of Nine Dragons.

A party of adventurers is gathered on the bridge. They are exhausted and healers are tending to the wounded, but there is a barely contained enthusiasm in all of them. Swords, staffs, spades, gloves are checked. Blessings are cast, prayers are risen. Some have fallen into meditation to regain their vital energy, others are simply resting. For four long days they have battled their way through Death Valley fighting their way through hundreds of swordsmen, confucianists, giants and iron flowers - female warriors wielding poisoned blades. And now, here they are. They have gathered three magical passes from the slain deviants and they have arrived on the bridge, where even those who barred the way so far dare not venture.

In front of them rises a giant skull - the foreboding gate they have seeked to open. Beyond it, it is said, waith the Master of Southern Death Valley, Meng Mian. No one knows who is and few dare challenge him. It is clear he was once a disciple of the white clans, but now he is but a vicious blood thirsty brute. He is said to slay his enemies with deadly kung fu techniques but a hat in the fashion of which the shaolins wear always hides his face, so that only a serene smile can be seen. This is said to have earned him the nickname 'dream faced Buddha'.

Upon surveying the ones gathered around, the party leader approaches the gate. He slowly draws out the three passes gathered around the gate and inserts them one by one into the slots in the skull. It is now done. They are bound to try and slay this cruel Master, but whether they will succeed or fail... that is the Choice of the Fate.

The Shaolin Temple in Song Shan, just after the end of the War of Nine Dragons

Fachang, the Elder of Shaolin, holds a parchment in his hands. They are trembling, as does his upper lip. Seldom has the Elder ever lost his composure like this. A second parchement lies on the small table next to him, bearing the Seal of the Vagabond. It is not needed to testify to the authenticity of the letter in his hand; the champion of Shaolin known as the Immoral Monk has been his pupil since childhood, he knows his handwriting all too well. His fingers have started playing with the holy Buddhist beads in his lap, that came together with the letters, but he is barely aware of this. Over and over again he reads his former disciple's letter. Former, indeed, for it was not signed Faxian - his clan name, but Guangxian and it was his holy beads that the Elder's fingers were playing with.

It appeared from both letters that the Immoral Monk had defeated the Mistress of Chaos but had refused to participate in any further duels, renouncing his duties as a disciple of Shaolin. Though unclear, the reason seemed connected to a disciple of Sacred Flower whose amulet Faxian seemed to have been wearing during his first duel. Whether any of the two survived or their current whereabouts were unknown.

A lonely tear fell down Elder Fachang's cheek. "Woe to you, my boy... woe to you, to bind your life to such a deceitful woman, in disgrace to all your teachings. You are now but a fallen disciple and the more dangerous for all the skills you have learned here. Woe to you and to those unfortunate enough to challenge either you or the one who has enthralled your senses." he whispered before sinking into deep prayer. Early in the morning he cast both letters as well as the beads to the flame. No one else need know of the fall of the boy on whom Buddha had once smiled upon.

Wuan Village in Zhengzhou, 12 years after the War of Nine Dragons.

A ragged beggar enteres the village, coming from south. He seems to have been wandering for days without water, food or even sleep. The guards have tried to stop him, but he clung to one of them yelling "It's a woman! It's a woman!". One of the guards decided to take him to Xinmen Xianji, the doctor of the Wuan clinic, for the man seemed clearly dellusional. He went from tears to mad laughter and back again. While the doctor was mixing him some potions, he tried to relate his story.

Apparently he was part of a team of several disciples of white clans who had attempted to defeat the Master of the Southern Death Valley. They were all skilled in their respective kung fu techniques and had decided to take on the one named the dream faced Buddha. It appeared to have been a close call however, for even in his dungeon the way was heavily guarded by earthworm demons, giants, archers and blind mad men who fought ferociously. Even had it not been so, they had all been poisoned by the foul air in the dungeon and the Master of Southern Dead Valley proved more than a match for them. Thus they were relieved to finally defeat him and sought for an escape.

However, as they approached the doors, the dust to which the Master had crumbled rose up and formed a new body. It still bore the vestments resembling a Shaolin master, but to everyone's surprise, it proved to be a woman - and a deadly foe. The ragged beggar was the only survivor of the party. He had picked a throne pass that the woman had dropped when falling to dust again and had somehow managed to scramble out of the dungeon before the poison claimed his life.

He neither knew nor wished to know what had happened in the dungeon after his escape, but he presumed that, as the Master had reformed once after his defeat, he might reform again. "It's a woman!" he added, then started laughing hysterically before the medicine finally took its effect and he fell in a deep sleep of recovery.

No comments: