Portal:Investiture of the Gods/Chapter 61

Investiture of the Gods
The Left Arm Vanishes Upon a Celestial Bridge of Flame
Xu Zhonglin or Lu Xixing

This chapter is titled "The Left Arm Vanishes Upon a Celestial Bridge of Flame". As Ma Yuan continued to chase the fleeing rebel commander further, he suspected that an ambush or any other form of detriment would arise if he were to act out of impulse, and he thus began to retreat until further provoking words from Jiang Ziya encouraged him to pursue regardless. When dusk had arrived, Jiang Ziya immediately disappeared through the shadows with the help of Outstanding Culture's assistant magic while Ma Yuan, utterly frustrated and full of anxiety as a result of chasing the opposition to such lengths, decided to sit down against a pine tree and camouflage his body as he rests throughout the night. As a sudden roar of cannon fire awakened his eyes only to catch sight of Jiang Ziya and King Wu drinking at the mountain's summit, Ma Yuan, delighted at this potential moment to kill the rebel commander, climbed the mountain only to find a light cloud of mist evaporate in front of his eyes, and the two individuals being no longer. Lunging beneath at a mass of enemy soldiers that intended on attacking him with a volley of arrows latched to their bows, Ma Yuan reached the bottom only to find another mass of mist evaporate before his presence. Having such a factor in mind, Ma Yuan deduced that Jiang Ziya must possess a sum of magical attributes to evade his prior pursuit in entirety, while a man—very likely that of a superiorman—must be assisting him from the shadows as to explain the creation of such magical trickery recently experienced. Realizing the probability that this man may be that of his master as he considered the timing between his former victory and this humiliating resolution, Ma Yuan knew that return to the Shang camp was of essential. As he began to return, he noticed a young woman laying in the grass nearby calling for assistance after the declaration that she was supposedly suffering from a heart attack.

Approaching this woman and receiving immediate plea to return a set amount of hot water so that her life may be saved, Ma Yuan was already exhausted out of hunger, and, not taking another moment, leaped upon the woman and began to drink her blood with both palms. As Ma Yuan tore open her chest with great astonishment at the lack of any internal organs, he gazed off to the south only to catch sight of a man who he recognized to be his master, Outstanding Culture. Assuming it more probable that his master has arrived out of means that would prove to his detriment, Ma Yuan began to flee at great speeds; but, to his utter astonishment, his arms and legs were stuck within the woman's body--that had mysteriously regenerated its skin--such as that of stone, regardless what he performed in attempt to escape. In a state of despair, Ma Yuan had little choice but to fall to the ground and beg for his life as Outstanding Culture approached with his sword in pose that suggested intentions to behead the former. To the fortune of Ma Yuan, however, a Buddha from the West known as "Candi" suddenly appeared to convince the enraged master that his disciple is "destined" to become a Buddhist under his jurisdiction within the western region. As Outstanding Culture immediately yielded in respect with full acknowledgement to the former's declaration, Candi walked forward, shaved off Ma Yuan's hair, and then took hold of his hand, offering him the chance to acquire great happiness as a Buddhist within the Eight Virtue Pond, as opposed to living a life of barbaric nature. Convinced that no form of retaliation could possibly be executed without any means to success, Ma Yuan obediently obeyed Candi's words, and left to the West after Outstanding Culture had forcibly returned the Staff of Beating Gods belonging to that of Jiang Ziya.

As Outstanding Culture elaborated the threat of Ma Yuan being no longer to Jiang Ziya within Phoenix City the following morning, Yang Bliss momentarily stepped forward with report that "Merciful Navigation has arrived". Being allowed entrance into the Prime Minister's mansion, Merciful Navigation, after traditionally greeting Jiang Ziya with due respect, asked of Pure Essence if he still possesses the magic map to which was handed to him by Lao Tzu some time into the past. Consenting that he is still in possession of such an object, he was informed of a plan by the former that involved the use of Jiang Ziya, and would result in a resolution to which he deemed as unfavorable. Nonetheless, Pure Essence ensured that such a plan will be carried out at best. Meanwhile, Yin Hong was exceedingly worried over the lengthened disappearance of Ma Yuan, and upon sending scouts to search through neighboring regions for the sake of potentially finding their lost trump card, he prepared Zheng Lun and the others for a major battle that would be unleashed the following day. Knowing that Ma Yuan must have fallen into a trap that is currently well concentrated on by the forces of Zhou, and that his soldiers will attain a level of fear as a result of such a prospect, he used such a fear as the primary factor to strengthen the blades of his soldiers as they assaulted Phoenix City's gates the intended morning.

Approaching the enemy's gates only to be confronted by Jiang Ziya, Yin Hong exchanged a few blows with his lance before pursueing the fleeing rebel commander into the neighboring wilderness region with Gou Zhang and Liu Fu at his side, ordering the remainder of his soldiers to strike with even greater valiancy during his departure. Relentlessly charging forth at Jiang Ziya in immense speed, entirely confident of the potential victory laying within his very palm, Pure Essence suddenly lunged from the southeast and unrolled Lao Tzu's map, to which a large golden bridge appeared as a pathway of escape for the prime minister. As the prince boldly pursued Jiang Ziya upon the celestial bridge, regardless of the danger it could have held, he suddenly began to see illusions sprout from every corner of his vision: soldiers of Zhou crawled upon the bridge and attempted to strike him with their swords; Jiang Ziya ran at him with his staff lashing about; and, after these images disappeared with a mere variation of his inner thoughts, he found himself greeting Concubine Huang and Concubine Yang back at Morning Song without any reply whatsoever. Guo Zhong and Liu Fu, seeing their commander walk to and fro in a dazed manner, feared that their chance at greatness would be sullied by this unknown enemy, and they thus lunged across the bridge and pierced their blades into the flesh of Pure Essence. Already being in despair at his required duty "under Heaven's will", Pure Essence, without any form of hesitation, drew his great sword with a horizontal cut, slicing Guo Zhong and Liu Fu into two halves.

Being in a state of utter confusion, the hearing of a gentle voice encouraged Yin Hong to gaze up, to which he was confronted by his mother who informed her son that he is in the enemy's trap and will be momentarily burned to ashes. As he began to yell in great fear at the prospect of such words, he awakened from these illusions with a great level of willpower only to see his master standing mere inches from his body. Pure Essence, who coldly declared that he has "disobeyed Heaven's will" and will be turned to nothing more than ash as his "destined" punishment, Yin Hong realized the intense desperation of the situation, and thus began to plead to his master, stating that he had been threatened with death by Shen Gongbao if he were to oppose his will and fight under Zhou, and if he is to be spared, he will serve under King Wu and help to eradicate all evil within the country as a measure of his gratitude—and the very Heavens will surely rejoice at the former's kindness if such a measure were to be taken. Pure Essence, resolved to accomplish his "duty", was still greatly affected by the words of his disciple, and thus began to roll up the map, causing the bridge to slowly disappear. Unfortunately however, Merciful Navigation, out of retortion to such an action, began to loudly criticize Pure Essence if he were to defy Yin Hong's "fate" and thus oppose "Heaven's will". As tears began to flow unrestrainedly from his eyes, his disciple clinged to him in despair; but, with a flicking of his fingers upon the map—giving signal for the bridge to become a torrent of flames—Yin Hong let out a single calm cry of betrayal, and disappeared into dust.

With his precious disciple being no longer, Pure Essence violently threw aside Lao Tzu's map and began banging his fists upon the ground in utter despair and frustration, knowing that Yin Hong was truly undeserving of such an end that could have been easily altered. Crying aloud in such a state of mind, Pure Essence cast aside Merciful Navigation's words of comfort and returned to Mount Taihua, already enraged at the probability that no one will wish to study with him in the future after such a cruel incident that he was the cause of. Following such an event, Outstanding Culture and Merciful Navigation reported the happenings to Jiang Ziya--who had returned to Phoenix City shortly following the map's deployment--and followed by taking their own leave shortly afterwards, promising that they would return upon the date of Jiang Ziya's "destined" inauguration.

Su Hu, who saw the enormous torrents of flames shooting to the very skies at the time of Yin Hong's death, soon obtained word from fleeing soldiers that the prince had vanished in the flames by some incredible source of magic. Being greatly fearful at such words, Su Hu frantically ordered scouts to find and return Ma Yuan, Gou Zhang, and Liu Fu as soon as physically possible—that is, if they were in fact alive. Realizing that his original plan is the only method employable after carefully analyzing the circumstances, Su Hu handed his son a message that specifically instructed the Prime Minister to launch an attack upon their encampment the following dusk while the family of Su is safely evacuated into the western gate of Phoenix City—and at the same time forcing the defiant Zheng Lun into surrender. This message was to be latched to an arrow and sent into the enemy city that night. After Su Quanzhong had effectively obeyed the words of his father, Nangong Kuo had found such a missive and immediately handed it to Prime Minister Jiang Ziya, who, upon reading the letter, knew that Su Hu wouldn't be able to pose any form of threat after the death of Yin Hong, and thus made preparations to act without hesitation. Following immediate drilling, Jiang Ziya deployed Generals Nangong Kuo, Yellow Flying Tiger, and Nezha, with set orders of attack. Meanwhile, Zheng Lun, who knew that his master was more than likely plotting the desperate scheme of giving in to the rebel commander, attempted to send many urgent reports of assistance to Morning Song, but was checked by his commander, who stated that such a task should be considered in the morning as to prevent the messengers from getting lost in the dark of night. As a resolution, Zheng Lun, who had little intention whatsoever to even momentarily work under the hand of Jiang Ziya—even though being a rational course of action, secretly deployed a small messenger unit that night with ultimate intention to acquire reinforcements at all costs possible.

At the very second of sunrise at dusk the following morning, the Zhou army, far overwhelming all external opposition of Shang with shere number at hand, broke into the main encampment at differing directions. As Zheng Lun engaged the invading Yellow Flying Tiger with great might and firm resolve, reinforcements constantly leaked from the western gate of Phoenix City as Su Hu's family were escorted through such a gate at the same measure. Despite his valiant warrior renown, the remainder of the Shang forces began to flee in fear at the prospect of death, thus causing a larger number of enemy forces to pierce through the encampment with far greater morale and strength at their disposal. Zheng Lun, seeing the situation dire, was suddenly struck from his horse by the reputed Deng Jiugong, and was thus bound shortly and brought to the Silver Security Hall following the conflict's conclusion.

With the sun shining brightly in the skies as a signal of morning, Jiang Ziya took his seat in the Silver Security Hall as Su Hu entered in, knelt before the former, and expressed a level of inner remorse for his past actions against the Zhou cause. As Su Quanzhong reciprocated his father's showing, Zheng Lun was forced into the hall with bonds tightly binding his arms from any form of action as he fiercely glared at Su Hu for the blatant weakness he has shown in the name of military strength and honor. Being criticized for not kneeling as he stood before the rebel commander without uttering a single word, Zheng Lun resolutely declared that he would rather have his head cut from his body then to display affiliation to a man that has a reputation of treachery and shame. Jiang Ziya, being enraged at the defiant warrior's mocking words, and ordering Zheng Lun to be beheaded immediately, was interceded by Su Hu, who pleaded his subordinate to be freed in prospect that he could be won over. Upon obtaining the prime minister's consent, Su Hu, dismissing the personal guards of Zheng Lun, entered a private chamber and began to reconcile with his fellow subordinate. Declaring that they will be looked upon as true heroes if they are to destroy the rebel commander after obtaining his mutual trust following a long period of assistance, Su Hu additionally stated that King Zhou is nothing more than a fool running rampant in desire, and, even if Zheng Lun were to give his life in the name of such a beast, he will never be considered with the dignity of a hero or be remembered in the hearts of the people to any true measure. Zheng Lun, who became aware of the latent effects of his loyal heart being considered as mere dirt if he were to dismiss such an opportunity and die in honor, saw the rationality of his master's words and thus declared his cooperation. As Zheng Lun, bound in rope, personally approached the prime minister, he fell to his knees and dishonestly apologized for his former behavior, stating that fellow generals of Zhou, as opposed to his commander, Su Hu, had enlightened him of the former's true virtue and ensured him that his loyalty and honor could reach a new beacon of light under the arm of King Wu. Jiang Ziya, being convinced at Zheng Lun's words of conviction, hosted a grand banquet in the rear palace for all the newcomers to enjoy.

Categorized EventsEdit

  • Jiang Ziya's dusk trickery; Ma Yuan's grand desperation: the devouring of a helpless woman
  • Master of Outstanding Culture's appearance; Ma Yuan's forced discipleship of Buddha Candi
  • The Lao Zi magic map plan; Jiang Ziya leads Yin Hong to wilderness area
  • Yin Hong - trapped within the golden bridge; Arrise of the false illusions
  • The countless tears of Master Pure Essence; Yin Hong vanishes in a bridge of flames