A novel by Simon Nguyen
Read Chapter I
Read Chapter II
Chapter III - Beginning of A Journey
“My son, I have done everything to prepare you for this day. Be brave and never waver. I will be waiting for good news from you.”
After Boju bid farewell to his father, he hopped onto his horse and headed southward. As he was reaching the southern boundary of Mansi, he was greeted by a familiar sight.
“How long are you going to keep me waiting?”
The person who just spoke was a Mansi native named Daichin. He was a bearded young man with bulky built and ape-like arms. He was wearing a thick coat and carrying a large shooting bow on his back. Daichin was known in the area as Great Dai for his enormous strength and wrestling prowess. When he was just 11 years of age, he defeated Mansi’s top wrestler and had been undefeated since. Daichin and Boju had known each other since they were young kids, playing on the vast grasslands of Mansi.
Due to his father’s severe restrictions on his social life, Boju had very few friends. One by one, his friends distanced themselves from him not wanting to incur his father’s wrath. Daichin was the only one who remained friend with him through this time. When Daichin learned that his best friend was about to leave on a journey to avenge his family, he wanted to tag along to assist him. Knowing Boju’s father would disapprove of it, the two agreed to meet up here.
It was already dark when Boju and Daichin reached the closest town. Since all of the inns in the city were occupied, the two had to spend the night at an abandoned temple located outside the town. The next morning, they woke up early and were about to take off when an unexpected event happened. A man appeared in front of the temple’s entrance and immediately collapsed onto the ground. His body was bloodied and his right hand was holding tightly a long object wrapped by a towel. He was unconscious and appeared to be in a critical condition.
“We should help him,” said Daichin.
“What if he’s a bandit? We could get into trouble with the authorities.” Boju did not want to start his journey on an inauspicious note.
The two friends debated for several minutes on whether or not to save the man but ultimately decided to assist him. They carried him into the temple.
There was a deep wound in the area just above his right breast. It appeared he was struck by a sword. The wound had not been treated, showing signs of infection. Boju quickly drew his short knife and heated its blade with fire. He then carved the infected area with the knife, applied blood stopping herbs on the wound and bandaged it with a piece of cloth. Boju’s medical expertise was in a full display here.
It was around late afternoon when the wounded man finally showed some visible movement. He slowly opened his eyes, observing the environment. He suddenly remembered something important and frantically searched his right hand for the object he was holding earlier. However, the object was not in his hand.
“Are you looking for this?”
Boju showed him the object and put it in his hand. Seeing that the object was still in its wrapping and appeared unopened, the man displayed an expression of relief. He slowly turned his eyes toward Boju and Daichin.
“Did the two of you save my life?” he asked in a weak voice.
“It was my friend here who saved you,” said Daichin.
The wounded man, who was in his late twenties, turned to Boju and offered him a nod of gratitude.
“What is your name and what happened that left you in this state?”
“My name is Jin. Since I owe my life to the two of you, I will tell you what happened. But be warned that it could lead you into some unwanted trouble.”
“We are actually looking to get involved in some trouble,” said Daichin comically. “You would actually do us a favor.”
Daichin’s answer put a smile on the man’s face as he began to tell his story.
A century ago, there was a famous blacksmith named Koseo. He was regarded as history’s greatest blacksmith, creating countless weapons used by top fighters in the pugilistic world. However, Koseo still felt he had yet to craft his greatest masterpieces. Although he had superior skills, he did not have good materials to forge the ultimate weapons. Koseo would spend most of his later years traveling the continent to search for the best materials.
One day, the blacksmith reached a small mining town located at the edge of the eastern sphere and decided to stay for the night. That night, the whole village was shaken by a huge explosion. According to witnesses, a giant rock fell from the sky generating a powerful blast when it landed on a nearby mountaintop. Koseo was curious of this rock and decided to investigate it. What he discovered from the rock’s fragments was a one-of-a-kind metal that could be used to craft extremely powerful weapons.
Koseo brought the materials back to his workshop and used them to forge five different weapons – a sword, a spear, a set of throwing knives, an iron fan and a pair of tiger claws -- collectively known as the Five Great Weapons.
The weapons found their way into the hands of several top fighters, who became drastically more powerful as a result. What ensued were numerous bloody battles to claim possession of these weapons. The weapons eventually scattered across the continent; their whereabouts became big mysteries in the pugilistic world.
“One of the Five Weapons,” said Jin looking at the object held in his hand, “somehow ended up in my ancestor’s possession. It was a guarded family secret for many generations, until the information was recently leaked. We have been rigorously pursued by people who want their hands on it.”
“So your wounds were inflicted by these pursuers?” Daichin asked.
“You are correct.”
After Jin responded to the question, Daichin suddenly threw himself onto the ground and appeared to be listening to something. After about one minute, he got up and informed Jin and Boju that a group of horse riders were heading to this temple.
“They should be here in three hours.” Daichin claimed.
Looking surprised, Jin turned to Boju and asked, “How does he know that?” Jin’s bewildered expression amused Boju.
“My friend here has many talents. One of them is to be able to hear sound from many li away and localize it. He has never been wrong.”
Jin turned to Daichin and smiled, “If I could borrow some of your talents, I think we will be able to defeat my pursuers.”
It was nighttime when the pursuers finally reached the temple. They dismounted their horses, lighted up torches and barricaded the main path to the temple. The leaders of the armed riders appeared to be a girl dressed in white satin and a man in his early thirties wielding a jade spear.
“Lady Song, we have detected his scent in this area. He is probably inside the abandoned temple.” One of the riders said.
The girl ordered a half dozen of her subordinates to enter the temple looking for the wanted man. Twenty minutes later, the men had yet to come back out. There was an eerie silence coming from inside from the temple.
“Something must have happened to those men. It was probably one of his clever traps.” The man with the jade spear told the leader.
“What should we do now?” The girl asked.
“We should set the temple ablaze. He will have to come out or die inside.”
Lady Song agreed with the suggestion. She had her archers shoot flaming arrows at the temple. Soon enough, the building was covered with flames.
At that moment, a floating boulder suddenly appeared and aimed directly at Song. She swiftly dodged the boulder, but her men were unable to avoid it, being knocked off to all directions.
The giant rock slammed into the burning temple, dispersing sparks all over the area. After a second of idleness, the boulder started to move in the reverse direction, once again targeting the leader.
The young lady drew her long whip and stuck it tightly to a tall tree branch, which allowed her to elevate over the boulder. It was then that she realized the trick behind the floating boulder.
The boulder was tied to several large ropes that hung on nearby trees. It was acting like a pendulum, swinging back and forth. Song threw a small blade boomerang at the ropes severing them from the boulder. The giant rock tumbled onto the ground and kept rolling until it crashed into the trees. Song withdrew her whip and acrobatically landed on the ground. But before she could gain a reprieve, another floating boulder suddenly appeared behind her. Song did not anticipate the second boulder and was not in a position to dodge.
The man with the jade spear recognized that his leader was in trouble. He swiftly moved toward the boulder and punched his spear at the giant rock. The spear’s blade pierced through the boulder, generating enough force to vanquish the rock into thousands of small fragments.
Observing from a bush close by were Jin, Boju and Daichin. Leveraging his prodigious strength, Daichin had been controlling the floating boulders under the direction of Jin, who architected the pendulum contraption.
Jin turned to Boju and said, “The guy with the jade spear is the most powerful fighter among the pursuers. His weapon is also quite potent. I think we have to go with our backup plan.”
Boju nodded in agreement and made a quick signal to Daichin.
..........End of Chapter III..........