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PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, '10, 7:32 pm
Kaire and Li Si ran as fast as they could up the rocky slopes of the mountain, occasionally hindered by the occasional steep upturns in the trail. They knew they were being followed by Lau Shek, as they had seen him leap out of the exploding sedan. But they were not sure how far behind them he was. They were already far out of sight of the inn and the battle that was taking place outside of it, even to the point where the sounds of weapons clashing together now seemed to become mere echoes.

The two female warriors rounded the path that led up the mount, hugging a near vertical slope. It opened into a large flat area, about ten by twenty yards in dimension. The slope of the mountain appeared to recede a little in order allow room for this opening in the trail, only to jut out again at the other side. The two women stopped to catch their breath. The air was beginning to grow thinner and it took several minutes for them to get all their strength back.

The blue-haired Taoist looked at her more-experienced companion. “Where do you think he is?” she panted.

“Closer than you think,” called a raspy voice from above.

Li Si and Kaire quickly ducked for cover as two large fireballs struck the ground where they had been standing. They could feel the shockwave from the explosions that the foi techniques caused on impact, but were otherwise unaffected. Lau Shek, who had been perched on a rock above them, jumped down—a distance of almost twenty feet—and landed square on his feet. The eunuch’s withered-looking face sent shivers down Kaire’s spine. Li Si, who was already familiar with him, simply stared angrily at their enemy; all of this death and conflict that she had endured and witnessed was his doing.

Lau Shek placed his hands behind his back and paced back and forth for a few moments. “So, it has finally come to this,” he said, his lips pulled up into a cruel smile. “I never thought that I would be given the privilege of fighting you, the great Li Si, myself.”

“Hold your tongue, eunuch!” yelled Li Si defiantly. “You say it’s a privilege. You will not think that when you see your severed head takes a good look at your body from several feet away.”

“Never make threats, my dear, that you do not intend to keep,” retorted the eunuch, stifling an evil laugh.

“Butcher! Madman!” screamed Kaire shrilly. “You don’t know how many lives have been taken because of your lust for power. What right have you to declare war on the spirits and the Hunter’s Guild?”

“So, the little traitor speaks up,” answered Lau Shek cockily. “I’ll destroy all who stand in my way. When I kill all of you here, my grip on this country will become as strong as steel. And your father, he too will have to pay the price for your insolence, little girl.”

“Well, talk is cheap, man-woman,” taunted Li Si. “I suppose you’ll be wanting these.” Li Si reached into her dust-crusted white robes and removed two books. “After all, they do contain the secret to your power.”

With an arrogant smile, the eunuch shook his shriveled-up face and laughed. “Li Si. Not only are you a traitor, but a petty thief as well. Those belong to the Imperial Library. Give them to me now!” he roared.

“As you wish,” said Li Si, coldly. She threw the two books over to the Eunuch, who caught them in the air.

Opening the books, he looks at several of the pages and then threw the books on the ground. “What is this?” Then, with a wicked chuckle, he went on. “Well, the two of you seemed to be a bit more prepared than I expected you to be. Unfortunately, you got the wrong order.”

Kaire and Li Si turned to each other and nodded. Kaire reached into her bearskin vest and removed her two emei piercers, the infamous Demon Rods. The women dashed at the eunuch, who stood perfectly still. As they came closer to him, Kaire quickly stashed her piercers back in her vest and reached for the sword that hung by her side. Drawing it with lightning-fast reflexes, she brought the curved blade across Lau Shek’s belly. The sword sliced through his blue robes and left a shallow cut on his stomach.

Lau Shek doubled back in surprise. “Wh-What? How?”

“Silly eunuch. Your armor won’t protect you against foreign weapons,” called out the tomboyish Taoist.

Before Lau Shek could react again, Li Si had already drawn her fans and began slashing at him with them. Kaire joined the fracas and soon Lau Shek was fighting tooth and claw against the two women, desperately trying to avoid the barrage of slashes and jabs from their sharpened weapons. Li Si’s razor-sharp fans sliced through his clothes and left numerous cuts on his arm. Lau Shek tried to respond by using his Maoshan magic techniques on the girls, but was unable to concentrate as their weapons kept piercing his magically-protected skin.

After several minutes of fighting, Li Si leapt into the air and spun her body, her arms outstretched. The fans spun around her, ready to cut through anything unlucky enough to be found in its path. One of the fans struck Lau Shek’s neck, but was unable to break through it. Lau Shek reacted quickly and savaged threw his foot into Li Si’s stomach, sending her flying back several yards. Kaire ran to her side.

“Li Si! Are you alright?” asked Kaire, her voice dripping with concern.

Li Si gasped for air. “I…I’m okay. Look, we’ve completely broken the first layer of his armor.”

Kaire turned to face the eunuch, who was already running toward them. She quickly reached into her vest and threw a piece of paper at him. Instead of grabbing the paper, however, Lau Shek raised his palms and shot a electricity-like blast from his palms, which cut through the paper like a hot knife through butter.

“No! He didn’t fall for it!” cried Kaire.

“Zan!” yelled Lau Shek.

Kaire and Li Si jumped out of the way as a powerful gust of wind past between them, a gust so powerful that it would’ve easily carried them off the mountain and to their deaths. Lau Shek let loose with a fusillade of tsu attacks. The watery fists battered the ground and sides of the mountain as the two warriors ran circles around eunuch, who stayed in the same place throughout the attack.

Kaire’s mind raced as to how to get in close enough attack him. At the same time, however, he may still be using the God’s Armor at this point. Unfortunately, he would not fall for the same trick again. Kaire ducked her head as a tsu blast whizzed right past her head, reducing a chunk of the mountain into dust.

“And now what?” she said to herself. Then she had an idea.

Kaire, instead of running in a circle, ran directly at Lau Shek. Dodging his techniques, she leapt high to the air to deliver a flying side kick to his head. When her foot connected with the target, she felt as if she had struck a stone wall with her foot and fell to the earth.
“Kaire! No! What are you doing?” she could hear Li Si yell.

Before Kaire could get back up again, she felt a powerful hand grip her throat. The Taoist sorceress was soon lifted high into the air by the powerful eunuch, who tightened his grip on her. Kaire forced her head to turn a little, seeing Li Si run to rescue. At the same time, she thrust her foot out several times to kick Lau Shek in the face, but he didn’t flinch.

As Li Si made her way over to help Kaire, Kaire reached down at her sword, which still hung by her side. With two quick slashes, Kaire cut through Li Si’s robes and blouse, causing them to fall to the earth. Li Si became white with horror. Lau Shek turned to Li Si and saw her naked torso. Then, all of a sudden, a powerful force, like some sort of invisible hammer struck Lau Shek and knocked him so far back that he almost toppled off the mountain right there. Kaire fell to the ground, breathing rapidly. She stifled laughter as she saw Li Si hastily tying her robes and blouse together in such a way as to cover her bosom again.

“I can’t believe you did that,” Li Si scolded Kaire.

“Well, we broke through the armor, didn’t we?” Kaire giggled.

Li Si rolled her eyes. Looking up at Lau Shek, who was pulling himself to his feet, she let out a sigh. “The last armor to break through is the hardest one yet.”

Kaire sheathed her sword and pulled out her piercers again, sliding her middle fingers through the metal rings on them. “Well, let’s make this one count.”

The two female fighters charged the still-confused eunuch and unleashed a barrage of blows upon him. Kaire jabbed at his pressure points with the sharpened ends of her Demon Rods while Li Si struck him with her fingertips, which were rigid and close together, in such a way that her hands like the head of a snake. Lau Shek quickly came to and the fight became ferocious.

Lau Shek slammed his feet and palms into the girls, knocking them back and causing them to spit blood all over the rocky surface of the mountain. However, the two remained undeterred and went in for another attack. The struck at the various nerves and veins located in his torso, such as the solar plexus beneath his sternum, the veins in his armpits and in other spots. With much agility, they were able to avoid most of punches and kicks, rolling her his legs and attacking his groin and blood vessels behind his knees. Kaire, distracted by her attempts to stab him in his throat with her rods, took a vicious punch to her stomach, and then another to her face.

Blood poured from her mouth as she slowly got up. She spoke up with difficulty, as it hurt even for her to talk. “Ah Li! How many more points to attack?”

Li Si, twisted her away around all of his attacks and struck him in several nerve points along his arms with her fingers tumbled backward and flipped to her feet next to her colleague. “Let’s for those in his temples, eyes, and the top of his head.”

The two somersaulted forward, but were met by a flying spin kick from Lau that struck both of them across the cheek with his heel. Kaire and Li Si spun through the air and landed on the ground. Li Si got up and saw Lau Shek jump into the air and pull his arm back, ready to strike Kaire with a powerful palm strile. Li Si instinctively grabbed her fan and opened up, jumping toward Kaire and placing the fan between Kaire’s heart and Lau Shek’s palm. Lau Shek’s palm struck the fan, denting it and sending Kaire back several feet again. Li Si quickly glanced at the handprint left in the fan and then, throwing it aside, started darting her fingers at Lau Shek’s eyes.

Kaire, breathing heavily now, happened to look over at the path and saw Ah Han and the harpist running up the trail to meet them. “Ah Han!” she yelled, recoiling from the pain in her face. “Help us! We need to find Lau Shek’s weak spot.”

Ah Han motioned for the harpist to stay back. Ah Han took off in a full sprint toward the Eunuch. He then jumped in the air, feet first, and wrapped his legs around Lau Shek’s torso. Lau Shek started punching Ah Han in the chest and stomach, but the scholar maintained his grip on the eunuch.

“Kaire! Now!” yelled the hapless scholar.

Kaire got up and, with all of her willpower, re-entered the fight. Her and Kaire begin hitting the distracted Lau Shek in his throat and eyes. Kaire jammed her piercers into this throat from several angles, but was not able to penetrate his skin. With her snake-like attacks, Li Si struck the eunuch’s eyes, but he wasn’t phased by them. Lau Shek continued to punch Ah Han, who was already coughing up blood. Kaire jumped into the air and brought one of her piercers down on the top of Lau Shek’s head, but that too didn’t break through his armor. Nor did Li Si’s attacks to the base of this skull.

“Li Si! How many points do we have left to test?” Kaire asked, catching her breath.

“I don’t…Kaire, inside the mouth! It’s inside his mouth!”

Kaire lurched forward and thrust her arm out. The point of the piercer broke through Lau Shek’s teeth and went deep inside his mouth. Blood began dripping from his lips. Kaire shoved the piercer in as far as it could go. The eunuch began to stagger and soon ceased punching Ah Han. Then Li Si pulled out her other fan and threw it at his neck. The fan twirled through the air and sliced right through the eunuch’s neck, severing its head from its body. At that moment, Ah Han released his grip on Lau Shek and dropped to the ground.

Kaire and Li Si ran over to Ah Han’s side.

“Ah Han! Ah Han!” cried Kaire, wiping the tears from her eyes. “No! You can’t die. You have Saya! You still have Saya!”

Ah Han, his face covered with streams of blood, simply smiled and closed his eyes. He said nothing.

Kaire and Li Si looked at each other. Even Li Si was on the verge of weeping.

Suddenly, a man’s voice yelled out. “Watch out! Get out of the way!”

The two turned to see the headless body of the eunuch moving under its own power and running toward them. The two flipped out of the way, leaving an open space between the harpist and the eunuch. The harpist quickly lifted up his harp and plucked a few strings. Two large fireballs sailed forth from the harp and struck the body. A huge crimson fireball erupted. When the smoke cleared, seconds later, there was nothing but scattered ashes where the body once stood.

Kaire and Li Si made their way over to the harpist, whose head was yet covered by his hat.

“Thank you, kind stranger,” said Kaire, bowing to him.

“Yes, we are in your debt,” followed Li Si, her calm demeanor hiding the inner hurt she felt at Ah Han’s death.

The harpist simply nodded. He then reached into his tattered robe and pulled out a small scroll and handed it calmly to Li Si. Li Si unrolled the scroll and read it allowed.

“You may now remove my hat.”

Li Si lifted an eyebrow at Kaire, who seemed equally surprised. The blue-haired young lady then gestured for her to go ahead. Li Si stretched her arms out and lifted up the harpist’s large hat. As she set it aside, Li Si saw a quiet, humble visage whose long blue hair was tied up in a bun. The face, which Li Si immediately recognized, gazed deep into her eyes and smiled. There was a look of fatigue on it, but it was content as well.

“Ru-Ne…” was all Li Si could say.

“Yes, Ah Li. It is me,” Was his only response.

Li Si drew the blue-haired scholar into a strong embrace. Ru-Ne drew her head into his bosom and ran his delicate fingers through her brown hair, now matted with dirt and pebbles and blood. Looking deep into each other’s eyes, their lips met for the first time in several years. It was more than enough to make the feisty female fighter forget about the numerous wounds on her body. Indeed, it was more than enough to make them forget about the fear and solitude in which they had lived for the past several years.

Author's observations:

- The idea of a superpowerful eunuch is a common one in Chinese cinema and literature. One of the reasons for such is that eunuchs were generally virgins, and a common trope in the genre is that a virgin's kung fu was more powerful than he who wasn't. That said, films like The Swordsman and Butterfly and Sword feature eunuch's who are nearly indestructible (the headless body that still fought is actually taken from the latter film).
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