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.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tiger's Revenge

Darkness still enveloped the Southern Trail in Zhengzhou. Though the moon was full, it seldom shone through the thick and heavy clouds and the coming dawn was more of a guess of the skies changing hues in the east. Huddled by the road was a figure dressed in black clothes. He had come there long before. A pack of black leopards had attempted an attack, but the figure had struck back at a couple of them, his clawed gloves slashing open their throats and the pack had departed, thinking it wiser to leave the man alone.

Seeing they would be a bother no longer, he hat sat down by the road and had sunken into deep meditation. They way he did it betrayed him as a disciple of Wu Tang, in spite of him wearing black clothes instead of the blue garnments that the Wu Tangs usually proudly displayed.

A couple of hours had passed since his arrival and an unknowing grasshoper might have wondered what the man was doing there, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, in the cold of night. As the faint light in the east grew with the approaching dawn, and everything turned from blue and deep black to shades of dim grey, it became apparent that the man was missing an eye. The scar of a slash wound was drawn across his right cheek and he did nothing to conceal it.

Indeed, it was none other than the young Wu Tang Adept known by his clan mates as Arashi Tora, the Storm Tiger. To this day no one, not even the three close friends he had made within the ranks of Wu Tang knew his real name or his past. He seldom spoke about things before the night he had been found wounded in exactly the same region he was now. And when he did, it was nothing that could tell his identity.

The days of his recovery had been long and he had spent them either studying the ways of the clan, reading through endless rolls of scrolls documenting the history of the Land or of the clan itself, or in the company of his healer, Leandine. It had come as a natural thing to join the clan and when the time came to choose his role among his peers, he only said two words and none could change his mind: White Tiger.

It must be known to the grasshoppers that the disciples of Wu Tang may choose among four different roles, according to their skills and inclination and with the approval of the Elders, and that each of these roles bears the name of one of the revered Celestial Animals in Feng Shui. The sword wielders are the warriors of the clan that brought its fame and are known as the Blue Dragons. Masters of Chi Kung are known as Black Turtles, while the Healers of the Clan who can both tend to the wounded and greatly increase anyone's abilities with their mastery of the Fortitude Arts bear the name of Red Phoenix. And lastly, there are those who choose to train in all of these arts. While they don't rise to the skill mastery of any of the other roles, they can hold their own in physical combat, master the channeling of chi kung in deadly ways and prove effective healers and fortifiers of their allies. Known as hybrids, they bear the name of the White Tiger among the Celestial Animals .

It was thus that Arashi chose his personal path on the Road of the Dragon as a White Tiger, keeping true to his name, and he walked on it in the company of Leandine, as well as the two other friends he had made - a warrior named Bloom and a hybrid named Marsyas. It was such that he had reached the sixth cheng of the rank of Raising Light. He had often been warned by his more experienced comrades to stay away from a couple of dangerous creatures plaguing the province, as his level of achievement was yet no match for them. These creatures seemed to have an astounding constitution, as they resisted well the most vicious blows a warrior could deal and some of them wielded deadly skills that could cause severe bleeding or tie their oponent to the ground, unable to move. And yet...

He had departed his friends early the previous day and had come to the small village of Lushan. From the doctor of its clinic, Divine Turtle, who had once helped save his life, he bought pills made from herbs that would help him staunch the bleeding and had headed out at nightfall. He was not often into the habit of heading advice. He listened, he nodded, he learned what there was to learn from it but he went out to try it for himself.

However this time, he had a more personal reason. The ferocious creature for which he planned to lie in wait was known throughout Zhengzhou as the Bloodwolf King, a huge bloodred wolf with deadly sharp claws, fangs to match them and a collar of white fur that stood spiked around his neck, giving him an ominous appearance. It was a beast of the same kind that had nearly killed him some years ago. He was lucky he had gotten away with a missing eye and a scar on his face and he knew it. Yet, the approaching dawn found him in wait near the beast's lair.

Arashi opened his eyes and stood up in one slow fluid motion, preparing for combat. The leopards had grown restless. He crossed the path and cautiously went up the low hill by the side of the road. Suddenly, a deep menacing growl rolled through the cold morning air. For several seconds he found himself unable to move as something like a huge ball of red fur swirled through the air. Then the swirling stopped and for a brief moment all movement froze. Arashi was gazing directly into the fiery eyes of the Bloodwolf King, looking upon him. Had they been human, he would've called them hateful. He shook his head to clear his mind of the fear that had briefly grasped it. The memories of his past encounter with the beast were not easily overcome but he could not let them cast doubts upon him.

Something like a savage dance begun, to the sound of growls and the rhythm of steel. Clawed paws and clawed gloves alike were slashing out for the other's throat, reflecting the first red rays of the rising sun. All of his friends' warning came to his mind. Through several tears in his clothes he had started to bleed and had to use every breathing moment to swallow Divine Turtle's healing pills to staunch the bleeding and attempt to heal his wounds. None of it however stopped the burning of the wounds the wolf gave him especially when he found himself bound to the ground and unable to move.

After several long minutes, he broke into lightfoot, swiftly changing direction to deceive the beast. Behind some shrubbery he stopped to better tend to his wounds and calm the heavy panting with meditation techniques. But he couldn't indulge for long in this luxury. Not as long as the wounded beast was still out there.

It was proving much more difficult than he had anticipated, but as he returned to the fight, he slipped in a sort of routine. The fluid motions his Wu Tang masters had taught him not only imitated the constant flow of water, as all of Wu Tang's ways, they helped him carry on hitting at the beast in spite of all it's slashing. Hit, dodge, heal, hit, dodge, heal, hit, dodge, heal... it was like a mantra molding its rhythm to that of the fight, adding a strange beauty to the savagery of the deadly dance. The sun had by now risen over the horizon, bringing light into the morning mist and the full sight of his opponent heartened Arashi. The Wolf's attacks had not waned for a moment, but it was now clear that not much breath of life was left in it. Grinding steadily away at it, as a water grinds steadily at the stones, he was now certain that he would succeed.

The next time he fell into deep meditation, it was in the bright light of a cold autumn morning, next to the dead body of the huge red-furred beast. And in spite of all his teachings, he couldn't supress a feeling of pride. No, he shouldn't have sneaked out to come here for the hunt. But he had succeeded alone, with nothing to rely on but his own skills. Slowly a grin spread over his face, lighting the seriousness the scar usually gave it.

He stooped and almost lovingly caressed the now soft fur of the wolf. It had thought him a valuable lesson. As he prepared to move, he saw something glistening on the ground. Picking it up from the dewy grass, he let out a gasp of surprise. He was holding a huge single crystalized, perfectly shaped drop of blood... but he knew that it was nothing else than a much prized Blood Essence. With another grateful glance at the beast he had just slain, he took another of Divine Turtle's pills and headed for the village.

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