Mikey…on the chance you want in on this, it is easy enough to add your part. (Wes, until Kenji or Lei sheng can Invoke a spirit to use astral gate, Bones can’t travel with us)
Astral projection offered amazing new shores for Lei sheng to explore. What had once been distant ship smoke on the horizon was now well within reach thanks to his newfound power. With a thought the infinite distance to the metaplanes became finite, and therefore instantly available.
Lei sheng literally crossed the threshold…power and awareness flooded into his very being. And the lore was accurate. As expected, the Watcher awaited him…a being of vast knowledge and a rather selective but undeniable power.
“LEI SHENG,” it boomed, “YOU MAY GO NO FURTHER.”
“I can and I shall. I hold the key gateless gate. I am beyond you and these lesser realms, Great One.”
The Watcher gazed deeply into Lei sheng. “YOUR FLESH IS WEAK. IT IS IN YOUR NATURE TO LIVE IN FEAR. YOU STINK OF IT.”
“Not so. I live with it, and allow it to serve it’s purpose.”
“And what is this fear you ‘live with’, Lei sheng, as if it were some child to be disciplined?” The Watcher grinned ruthlessly. “You fear a short life…spare me your ‘Chinese wisdom’...as if a few centuries or millenia of the prattlings of MEN added up to more than the spittle that flies of your tongue with speech.”
Lei sheng gawped at the Watcher…this was entirely unexpected.
“What makes you so special…so unique, Lei sheng? Why should your destiny be so much more relevant than the countless billions who preceded you in death?” It smirked. “Yes, so sad about your mother and father and their untimely deaths to heart failure. So sad. But then, that made your sacrifice to the Triads an easier path, no? ‘I swear I am dead to my mother and father’...easy to say when they had already passed on.”
Lei sheng clenched an astral fist, but knew deep down that no power existed to struggle past the Watcher.
“Children die well before their time…some are cut down in the prime of life. The wicked live long, fruitless lives. Perhaps a tragedy, but even a being of my vast insight is incapable of attaching significance to your pathetic existences.”
Lei sheng began to ‘walk’ forward, fully intending to go through the Watcher.
“Ah, so it is brinkmanship you wish to play, eh Lei sheng?” It grew to enormous size. “One more step, and I shall reveal the DAY OF YOUR DEATH TO YOU.”
“Lei sheng gazed up into the Watcher’s eyes. “I do not believe that you are truly aware of that, Watcher. My life is my own. I may end it, or another may. But it is mine to fearfully preserve or recklessly spend. Your words are wasted on me.”
Lei sheng passed through the Watcher, a gateless gate…unpassable to some, open to others. He entered the unique plane of Di Tian Linghun…literally Earth, Heaven, and Soul…the foundation of power for the 39 Oaths of the Triad.
A wizened old man, Chinese in appearance, apparently just concluded a conversation with a rather odd-looking spirit. It seemed to be a conglomeration of animals many of which were embraced by practicers of wu-shu as mentor spirits or models for a fighting style. It strode by Lei sheng and stopped. A quick assensing revealed to Lei sheng its power rivalled his own.
“To whom do you pay homage for the privelege of borrowing my shapes, Lei sheng?”
“No one…it is merely an expression of power and imagination.”
It rounded on Lei sheng immediately, astral claws extended and teeth bared. “Stolen from my kind eons ago, minion of Huang Di. I will have my due, animal.”
Lei sheng narrowed his eyes. “I am no animal. My s…”
“Yes, your soul sets you apart…Drivel repeated over and over changes nothing. You are flesh and blood…I demand that, or your obedience.”
“Never,” Lei sheng spat, and opened his stance in preparation for combat. “By Heavenly Will, I am apart from your kind no matter the similarity.”
POSSIBLE FIGHT ENSUES…HOPEFULLY WITH Lei sheng victorious. EDITING TO FOLLOW
Lei sheng approached and bowed formally to the Keeper of Oaths.
“Another Oath-breaker, eh? Go! What has been forged here can not be broken.”
“Everything can be broken save the Will of Heaven. I come here faithfully to renounce my Triad vows with my honor, life, and spirit intact. I will not be denied.”
The Keeper shook his head. “Your earthly sacrifice means nothing here Lei sheng…you gave what was expected and owed. And as you may suspect, travelling here is quite different from breaking what can not be broken.”
“Then perhaps I will not break it, Keeper.” With that, Lei sheng pounced on the spirit. They grappled briefly, but no blow was struck by Lei sheng. Inexorably, the former Triad embraced the Keeper. In response, the Keeper flailed mightily and howled but to no avail. Its form passed into Lei sheng…seemingly absorbed.
After a short time, the Keeper emerged from Lei sheng’s form greatly diminished. It glared and snarled at him. Lei sheng bowed formally and turned away. Instantly, the Keeper struck on the astral, its power instantly renewed. “Not the first you are to overcome your 39 Oaths Lei sheng, but you did not learn the price for besting me! I deny you, minion of Huang Di, the wisdom of ritual magic. Never shall those secrets be yours!”
Lei sheng strode back to the portal for Earth. “We’ll see, Keeper. We shall see.”