Excerpt: Dawn of the Broken Sword
By Kit Sun Cheah
This Dawn of the Broken Sword excerpt is shared with the permission of the author.
Dawn of the Broken Sword Synopsis
But the world of the rivers and lakes is fraught with peril. Deception and danger lurk in the shadows. Bloodthirsty beasts roam the wilds. Martial cultivators constantly battle for wealth, glory and status.
But first, he must prove himself worthy.
Author’s Note: This series is not a power fantasy. There are no LitRPG / GameLit elements, no unconventional relationships, and no sexual content. It is, quite simply, a cultivation story—in the actual sense of the term.
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Our hero, Li Ming, is riding a bus on his way to join the jianghu, when a goat monster called a tietou blocks their path.
He volunteers to draw it out of the way and protect the other passengers…
The door hissed open. Li Ming leapt out, left hand on his pommel. The second his boots touched the asphalt, he wrapped his fingers around the grip and lifted it high, drawing the weapon.
The beast stared, transfixed by the sight of the shimmering silver swordbreaker. Li Ming snapped his left hand to his right hip, passing the handle to his waiting hand, aiming the point at the tietou. He shifted to a two-handed grip, snapped the weapon out in an extended guard, and he advanced.
The beast screamed.
It stared at him.
He stared back.
As its name suggested, a tietou had an exceptionally hard skull, harder than steel. Its horns and head were its primary weapons. A headbutt by an ironhead of this size would destroy a car, never mind a man. More than that, the eyes of this beast gleamed with intelligence. An animal intelligence, perhaps, but intelligence nonetheless.
In days of the Yue Dynasty, the state geneticists stopped at nothing to breed the finest military monsters. They had experimented on common goats, warping and twisting them for their own ends. The result was the tietou, an omnivorous goat-ape hybrid, so large and strong the scientists induced it to grow an extra pair of legs to support its mass. As if that wasn’t enough, they had meddled with its brains and nerves, seeding them with the dust of ground-up primordial crystals.
Most tietou didn’t know they could use magic. The ones that did became walking disasters.
Beast cultivation techniques weren’t as refined as humans, but brute strength and raw aggression went a long way. Li couldn’t outfight it, even with his shaper.
But he didn’t have to.
Li flowed his sword through wide circles, first going clockwise, then the other way, occasionally cutting across with neat strokes.
“Come on, over here, look at me,” Li said.
Slowly, slowly, he crept his feet forward, closing the gap, covering himself with his—
The goat screamed.
But only two steps.
And then it reared back, snarling with bared fangs, kicking at the air with its cloven hoofs.
Out the corner of his eye, the driver silently rolled up to Li’s right.
Gathered his qi in his belly.
And, with an ear-splitting shout, he slashed through the air.
The tietou’s eyes flickered, following the point.
And Li extended his left palm.
“HA!” he shouted.
And drew upon the element of fire.
Qi burst from the crystal, flowing down his hands, condensing in his palm, and exploded as a searing bolt of white-hot flame.
Too weak, he realized. The bolt was too weak. The crystal was meant for a child, a novice cultivator, no more. The shaper itself had a low-powered transmission circuit, useful only for low-end utility magic.
It wasn’t meant for combat. Last-ditch self-defense, maybe, but only against a human. It was too weak to battle a beast as powerful as this.
The bolt struck the beast square in the forehead, right between the eyes. Its qi compressed in an instant, strengthening its steel-hard skull. Smoke blew out from the point of impact, revealing a spot of blackened bone.
It roared, in fury and in pain.
And lowered his head.
Li stood his ground.
Li twisted his swordbreaker anticlockwise, aiming at its left eye.
It swerved to his left, still bearing down, faster and faster—
He swiveled to the right, throwing his left arm out of the way, and swung the swordbreaker.
Blunted metal struck heavy bone with a heavy crack.
And the beast shot past, missing him by a hair.
Slowing down, it turned back around, readying for another charge.
Li Ming’s heart thudded in his chest, in his head. His mouth went dry. That was close. Too close. But he had felt the crack, sensed the force vibrating through its massive body. The tietou was slow, its legs clumsy, trying to support itself. Maybe, with another strike—
The bus horn screamed.
“OVER HERE!” the driver screamed.
Li Ming turned and fled.
Now he sent fire qi into his legs, supercharging them. They pounded like pistons, exploding off the ground with every step. Behind him, the tietou screamed in rage.
4 Replies to “Dawn of the Broken Sword Excerpt”
I find the fight interesting, for several reasons:
a) Not all fights can be avoided. Some foes cannot be reasoned with. [Note that even if you can reason with a foe, you might have to fight anyway.]
b) Reliance on equipment that does not allow use of full ability, making things harder.
c) Victory does not necessarily mean killing, or even defeating, the foe.
d) Not shown in the excerpt but right afterwards: the reaction of the people on the bus. He saved them, doing what they could not do. He might see himself as inadequate–they rightly saw a hero. Reconciling these perspectives is a non-trivial exercise.