Jordan's Page of Useless Babble

Chapter 1: A New Ending

A call went out to the furthest reaches of the Empire, and agents went forth gathering, by force, a small group of heroes renowned for their combat prowess, their intelligence and their special skills. These four warriors, blindfolded and gagged, were dragged Kaifeng and presented to the Emperor Huizong.

The Emperor, playing softly on a yazheng greeted them warmly and apologized for the abrupt invitation to the Imperial City. As his guards removed the bonds that held the various warriors' limbs, he began to speak.

"I have stated for most of my life that Buddhism is a blight and evil upon the Empire."

At this, a pair of physicians entered the throne room carrying a palanquin. Moving swiftly, the two set the draped box down upon the ground in front of the warriors and Emperor Huizong. Carefully, the Emperor moved forward and revealed the contents: a huge, and heavily muscled man close to death. Although he was covered in bandages and poultices, his pale skin and thick yellow hair could be plainly seen. The Emperor continued with his speech.

"Three days ago, our scouts found this outlander at the entrance to the Silk Road, reeling from an assault by Mongolian barbarians. He was spirited to our court as a curiosity. Although his condition was poor, it was thought that he would make an entertaining diversion for us. In his sleep, he spoke small snatches of his strange language, which even our most learned sages could not comprehend, but we did hear the word 'Gjallarhorn'.
    Our priests, beseeched the August Emperor Shang-Ti for the meaning of the strange word, and it chilled blood. The Gjallarhorn is a musical instrument, a horn, that if blown, will end the world.
    We also divined for the location of this Gjallarhorn and learned that is had come into the possession of a Buddhist monk by the name of Ming, Brother of Purity. Then we received this."

The Emperor retrieved a large scroll and opened it, clearing his throat as he did so.

"It reads 'Dearest Emperor, I, Ming, the Brother of Purity have uncovered the means to destroy this corrupt world and replace it with one of my own design. Before I can do so, I must meditate upon the True Buddhist Scrolls. Know that I do this, not out of hatred, but out of compassion, and also know that your time upon this plane of existence is coming to an end.'
    We believe that Ming has taken the Gjallarhorn to Xi'an, where the Big Goose Pagoda stands. It is in this temple where Tripitaka and Sun Wukong the Monkey King brought the True Buddhist Scrolls from India. I speak to you now, not as an Emperor, but as a man. I humbly beseech you to seek Ming and put an end to his madness before he destroys the world."

At this, the Emperor threw himself to the ground, bowing low towards the warriors. It was then that the four: Whispering Wolf the mountain hermit, Tran the pacifist, Frog the bow-maiden and Yu the unparalleled swordsman swore to stop Ming's insane quest and immediately set out on horseback along the Yellow River towards Xi'an.

As the heroes rode, the heard a woman's scream and went to investigate. A noblewoman was being assaulted by a pair of ogres, her cart destroyed and her retainers and horses killed. The ogres, watched as the heroes approached and wanting to make sport of murdering the warriors, attacked.

The battle was fierce, but the heroes fought on the side of justice and were able to subdue the monsters. The foul creatures cursed the warriors and claimed that the entire highway was their new domain by right of their new masters, and that all ogres would be taking their rightful places as kings in the new world that the monk was creating.

Having had enough, Yu dispatched the ogres while Tran attended to the noblewoman. The woman began to weep bitterly at the deaths of her attackers and explained that her father had been taken hostage by the ogres' masters and taken to a nearby magistrate's station, which had been converted into their hideout.

Needing no further instruction, the four warriors rode the short distance to the station, which had been treated poorly since the ogres had moved in. Several lesser demons resided in the fields around the building and shrieked for help before rushing to attack the heroes.

Again the heroes fought, holding back the demons until the door to the station flew open and out came two strangely colored ogres. One was heavy and grey-skinned, hefting a large hammer. The other was thin and blue-colored and carried with him a tall spear. The two introduced themselves as Brother Thunder and Brother Lightning. They gloated that all the wicked demons and spirits in the land had sworn to assist Ming in completing his quest to blow the Gjallarhorn. They then whistled loudly.

The whistle summoned a pair of tall creatures with coal-black skin and fiery red hair that easily stood twice as tall, and then some as the Brothers. They wore strange armor made of small metal rings and carried huge swords of bizarre design. Brother Thunder introduced the two as emissaries of the Jottenheim, who had joined in the quest to assist Ming. Then, at the request of Brother Lightning, the two Jottenheim attacked the heroes.

The foreign giants were powerful, and fought with both strength and flame, but were slowly pushed back by the combined efforts of the heroes. As the Jottenheim fell, the Brothers too attacked, but Whispering Wolf completed a magical formula that changed him into the form of a giant wolf, which gave the heroes the edge they needed to succeed.

As the heroes reunited the nobleman with his daughter, they once again set off for Xi'an, riding faster now, and wary of the foreign monsters that had decided to throw their lot in with the mad monk Ming.

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