Fu Ran hefted his huge two-handed sword again and swung wide. More guards flew, most of them landing harmlessly in the open space provided by the cautiously distant crowd. The blade wasn’t actually hitting any of them, else they’d all be dead by now. An enchantment he’d grown pleasantly accustomed to provided his weapon with a bit of extra reach, an unseen force that broke the air like the wake of a ship on the water and very efficiently spread an unwelcome crowd.
It was amusing when persistent men like Ti Lao’s guards kept coming back. It made Fu Ran laugh out loud and probably had a lot to do with the stubbornness of his opponents. However, he was having too much fun to care. “To the infernal regions with all of you! You’re a pathetic lot! Do you think I’d allow myself to be defeated by such as you! Are there no men among you?”
The guards were finally getting weary. It probably wouldn’t be long before someone decided to draw a bow.
A giant among men, Fu Ran made for an easy target. He’d grown naturally taller and stronger than most and trained to be stronger still. His sleeveless jerkin boasted the thickness of his arms. The size of his body along with the size of his sword, his wild grin, and bold laughter put fear into enemy and ally alike. He’d shaven his head and tattooed dragons down the length of each arm to worsen his appearance. In some places he was known as the Laughing Devil. He would hate to have his reputation besmirched by a well-aimed arrow and so decided to put an end to the afternoon’s play. “I’ll take one more before taking my leave! Who dares?”
He expected a handful of guards again, in which case he would toss them a bit farther this time and be on his way. He was shocked when someone said softly, “I will dare it...if you will.”
Fu Ran was prepared to laugh at the effete creature standing before him, until he took a second look, and recalled that only fools judged Xu Liang by his appearance. He smiled anyway and readied his sword. “This is going to hurt,” he warned.
Xu Liang inclined his head almost imperceptibly. “One of us, perhaps.”
From Six Celestial Swords
Available from Raventide Books