Recommended Music: Flowing Water from the High Mountains.mp3
Mok Leung stood at the entrance to the Cave of the
Mo-Lan Devils, the ocean's waves licking at his feet, and held aloft
his spear, Seventh Tooth of Golden Dragon.
"Mo-Lan Devils!" he shouted into the darkness, his
powerful voice echoing deep within, "I, Mok Leung, come to fight your
champion. You have kept this fortress hidden for many years, but
on this day, red-faced Kwan himself has guided us! Give me face and
present your champion, that I may defeat him with my Serpent Fist
There was a quiet shuffling in the cave, but no response to the challenge.
"Mo-Lan Devils! If you do not give me face," he
continued, his face turning red, "we will block up your cave with a
thousand stones, leaving you to die slowly of hunger and madness!"
Far inside the cave, a single ember glowed brightly
and a torch flared up beside it. The small old man holding it walked
slowly to the entrance of the cave, staring with white eyes at the six
men who stood before him.
"Since I cannot see you," he said to Mok's chest, "you must tell me. Are you strong?"
"I am stronger than any man in the prefecture! These
hands have pulled a running boar to the ground and broken its neck!"
"Ah. Tell me, are you handsome?"
"When the time came for me to marry, I chose the
most beautiful woman in the land, and a dozen maidens dove to the
bottom of Bronze Gar Lake, drowning with their sorrow."
"Of course. And are you brave?"
"When nobody would seek the Seventh Tooth of Golden Dragon, I alone went to the peak of Tung Ting to wrest it from
the grasp of the Shou tribe's leader!"
"And your men? Are they loyal?"
"Only these men came with me to the Fog Plateau,
where the spirits of corrupt ancestors can pit brother against brother,
and we emerged with stronger hearts than ever!"
The old man smiled, and pulled at the loose, rotting tunic that hung over his thin and bony frame.
"So now you seek to destroy the Mo-Lan Devils, whose
faces have not been seen in daylight for hundreds of winters?"
Mok said nothing, but slammed the butt of his spear
against the rocky ground, the brass rings at its tip smashing
loudly together. The old man laughed, and turned back towards the cave.
"Wait!" shouted Mok, thrusting Seventh Tooth at the old man's back.
Like lightning, the wizened man spun and stopped the spear with the middle of his thumb.
"Mok Leung," he said quietly, "if you kill me, who
will teach you how to be King of the Mo-Lan Devils? Now come, my wife
is making us dumplings."
As they followed him into the cave, the sound of the waves grew almost deafening behind them.