Or, Hold On, There’s More Side Characters Than You Imagined
Guo Jing continues his healing process with Lotus while locked in the secret room in the Only Inn in Ox Village, situated along the Only Road in China that leads to (apparently) Mongolia, Lin’an, Yanjing, Roaming Cloud Manor, and Peach Blossom Island.
And if you thought Ox Village was just another sleepy country village, you’ve got another thing coming, because in this chapter it gets busier than San Diego at Comicon.
Ok, here’s where we left off last week inside the only inn left in Ox Village:
- Wanyan Honglie, his ‘son’ Yang Kang, and their band of ne’er do-wells were booted from the premises by Apothecary Huang. They conveniently forget to bring Gallant Ouyang with them, as he lays near-death on a mat.
- Huang is on the hunt for the Seven Freaks of the South, to avenge the presumed death of his daughter, Lotus.
- Lord Huang allows Harmony Yin, Laurel Lu, and Emerald Cheng to stay behind. Laurel and Harmony were both searching for Guo Jing, in order to find the Seven Freaks, to warn them of Huang’s intent. Emerald Cheng was in love, searching for Guo Jing, then fell in love with Laurel.
- Lotus and Guo Jing have been hidden in the secret room behind the cabinet this whole time, practicing the healing techniques of the Nine Yin Manual to restore Guo Jing, and watching all the unfolding drama through a hole in the wall.
Lord Huang boots Harmony Yin from the inn first. Harmony is defiant, but Huang will not stoop so low as to fight someone so junior to himself. Huang immediately recognizes that Emerald Cheng is smitten by Laurel and proposes that they be married at once. There is much blushing and demurring, and Huang marries them.
Later that night, as Laurel and Emerald are gazing longingly at each other, voices are heard outside. Lotus and Guo Jing recognize Zhou Botong and Viper Ouyang. Zhou is leading Viper on a merry chase since their fight at the palace. Laurel and Emerald go out to look and realize that Lord Huang has also run after Zhou.
Now that they are truly alone, Laurel and Emerald get down to business. Gallant Ouyang choses this moment to move himself to the main room of the inn, walking himself on his hands (remember, his legs are still broken). He begs for food. Emerald is shocked as she recognizes him as the man who kidnapped her. But he’s so pathetic, that she gets him some rice.
With some food in him, Gallant is immediately back to his horn dog ways. He likes Emerald, and he also thinks he heard Lotus’ voice earlier. Gallant goes to where he heard her voice and finds the hidden door to the secret room. When he opens it he finds Lotus and Guo Jing.
Gallant tries to pull Lotus out of the room but Lotus defends herself with the Dog Beating Cane. Unable to release her hand from Guo Jing (they’re so close to the end of the treatment!) she loses the cane to Gallant.
Emerald and Laurel join the fight but are quickly subdued, Gallant is powerful, even lacking the use of his legs. He paralyzes Laurel and uses him as a hostage to compel Emerald to obey him.
This next bit is … ugh. Gallant demands Emerald to undress and dance for him. Lotus watches not in disgust or revulsion, but in fascination to see if Emerald will do it. Before Emerald can comply, someone knocks on the door.
Emerald lets in the new guest, a striking woman who is travelling with two coffins. When the new woman lays eyes on Gallant, she draws her sword. The new woman is Mercy Mu, travelling with the bodies of Ironheart Yang and Charity Bao, in order to bury them in Ox Village.
Gallant subdues Mercy as well, and holding Mercy and Emerald hostage, calls out for Lotus to come join them.
Yang Kang returns now, as he had been following Viper as Viper chased Zhou Botong. Kang sees Mercy, but seeing her held in Gallant’s arms drives him mad with jealousy. While Gallant talks about what they can do with the women, Kang plots.
Pretending to inspect the ladies’ feet, he crawls beneath the table and pulls Ironheart Yang’s spearhead (apparently he’s been carrying it around this whole time) out and stabs Gallant from beneath the table. Yes!
Gallant fights back but begins coughing and eventually keels over and stops breathing. (I don’t think he’s dead, though.)
Emerald unlocks Laurel and they flee the inn.
That leaves Kang with Mercy. They bury the two coffins and Gallant. So, I guess he really is dead. Seems a bit anticlimactic, really.
Kang hasn’t changed at all. He’s still in love with Mercy, but still an a-hole. They start fighting the same fight that split them up before when Kang spots two white condors in the distance.
Yes, it’s Guo Jing’s childhood friends, Tolui, Jebe, and Boroqul. And Khojin!
Oh man, Guo Jing is in for it now. He fesses up to Lotus that he is betrothed to Khojin. Lotus takes it remarkably well and threatens to kill Khojin if Guo Jing marries her. (on brand)
As Yang Kang listens to Guo Jing’s friends, he plots a way to drive a wedge between the Mongolians and the Song empire. He reveals himself and tells the Mongolians that Guo Jing was killed by Justice Duan. Guo Jing’s friends are distraught and demand that Kang lead them to Duan so they can exact revenge.
Kang spots and picks up the Dog Beating Cane that Gallant had wrested from Lotus. Kang goes to leave with the Mongolians. But before they can leave…
The Quanzhen Sect shows up. Most of them. Harmony brought them all back after the beating he received from Lord Huang. Four of them are here and it’s one big reunion. Qiu Chuji is Yang Kang’s master. Sun Bu’er is Mercy’s master. Khojin remembers Ma Yu from when he trained Guo Jing in neigong in Mongolia and helped them tame the condors.
Khojin tells the Quanzhen masters that Guo Jing has been killed. The masters demand information from Kang and he tells them that Lord Huang was the one who killed him. (Kang believes he himself killed Guo Jing under the waterfall.) Kang professes to have reclaimed his true family heritage, and Qiu Chuji believes that Kang has truly changed. (sigh)
Qiu Chuji is ready to marry Mercy to Kang (wow, everyone is jumping to get hitched now). Before they can do it…
You know what’s coming…
More people show up. This time it’s two beggars of the Beggar clan. They’ve been looking for (actually Lotus) whoever is holding the Dog Beating Cane. Which is, unfortunately, Yang Kang. The beggars are extremely deferential to Kang, seeing him holding the cane. Kang pulls the smoothest con of the whole book, and plays into the conversation. The Taoists, impressed with the respect given to Kang by the Beggar clan, assume (you know what happens when you do that!) that Kang has truly changed his ways.
The beggars need to move on to the big meeting of the clan, and Kang begs leave of the Taoists to attend to this. Mercy goes with them as she knows the beggars as well.
Exit stage left, two beggars, Kang, and Mercy.
So now we’re left with the Quanzhen sect (4 of 7) and (still) Lotus and Guo Jing behind the wall. The next day the balance of the Quanzhen arrive to the inn. Lotus and Guo Jing are nearing the end of the seven days and nights of qi circulation to heal Guo Jing’s wounds.
Of course, before they finish, more trouble shows up.
Cyclone Mei shows up first. She fights the Taoists but finds that they are much stronger than she anticipated. They are standing in the Heavenly Northern Dipper formation, something Guo Jing remembers from the text of the Nine Yin Manual. It allows them to pool their strength, turning them into a kung fu Voltron of sorts.
With their combined strength they make quick work of Cyclone Mei, just in time for…
Apothecary Huang to show up. With Viper Ouyang!
Final Boss Level!
Huang beats up the Taoists until they manage to reform into Voltron. They fight then swings back their way, and Huang is barely holding on. Viper decides to butt in, taking out one of the Taoists. Huang is actually offended, because he didn’t ask for Viper’s help. Viper turns on Huang, launching a killing blow. Before it can land, Cyclone Mei throws herself in the way to save her shifu.
Without all seven members, the Quanzhen sect knows they cannot prevail against Lord Huang. They retreat, knowing they will have to wait for their revenge.
I found a video clip of the fight between the Quanzhen Sect and Mei/Huang!