Monday, September 15, 2014

Little Gou and The Crocodile Princess by Robyn Paterson

Subgenre: Alternative History/Fantasy
Release Date: August 27, 2014

ABOUT Little Gou and The Crocodile Princess:

“Every last member of the Mao family will die by the Hour of the Rat a fortnight from now."

With these words begins a race against time, as the roguish martial artist called Little Gou hunts across the back roads and waterways of Old China to find a young bride-to-be who has become a pawn of the mysterious Lady Moonlight. He must outwit friends and foes alike, all of whom are dancing to the Lady’s song, and unravel a scheme that could see thousands dead or enslaved and the Middle Kingdom aflame with rebellion if he fails. But, worst of all, he has to face the woman who abandoned him in the name of family duty- the love he can never be with, or forget.

Influenced by Legendary Wuxia novel writers Gu Long and Jin Yong, and in the spirit of movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Little Gou and the Crocodile Princess is a martial arts action & adventure thriller set in the Jianghu martial underworld of Old China. Through a combination of wits, swordplay and kung fu, the martial artist Little Gou, and his companion the warrior nun Sister Cat, must uncover the truth behind a deadly plot to bring the martial underworld to its knees, or die trying.

~ Excerpt ~

"Honored hosts," the young woman said in a sweet voice so at odds with the laughter they had heard from the palanquin. "I have come to deliver my message to you. So please, hear my words and carry them close to your hearts. Begin."

The last word she said was not directed at Lord Mao and his family, but at the two palanquin carriers who had let down their charge and now walked to the far edge of the ring. One carried with him a flute, and the other a liuqin that he began to play, the one with the flute joining in after a few beats to produce a gentle melody.

As they played, Lady Moonlight began to hum to herself and from the folds of her robes she produced a long slender jian sword of obvious high quality. Swaying in time with the rhythm she began an incredibly graceful sword dance that had her moving in sweeping motions around the empty circle. It was like a fairy had come down from the mountains to entertain them, and the party guests all watched in rapt fascination as she moved across the floor. It wouldn't be right to say she stepped or danced, it was more like she floated across the ground- her motions so elegant, so refined, that as she moved anyone who disturbed her would have felt they had committed a crime. She danced in front of each of the lieutenants as they gazed at her in wonder, and even paused to smile at the guards and some members of the crowd.

If she had asked them to, there was little doubt most of the men in the crowd would have let her cut off their arms and legs with that sword just to be able to gaze at her a little longer. Even a thrust to the heart might not have seemed too high a price for a kiss from her plum colored lips.

Finally, she swept back into the middle of the circle where she had started and touched the tip of her sword to the ground in a gentle motion to indicate her dance was done.

The music stopped.

There was silence for a moment, and then old Master Mao began to clap.

"A fine dance! A fine dance indeed! I don't think I've ever seen better!"

The Lady smiled, and bowed her head in a sweet and humble manner.

"The Old Master's words are kind, and I thank him for them." She answered with grace. "But, I'm afraid there is a price to the dance I just gave."

Still smiling, Master Mao nodded. "You want a chance to speak with me? Do you wish to do it in private?"

Lady Moonlight gently responded that she did not. "I will deliver it here, old sir."

"Well then," snapped Lord Bai, who wasn't as taken in by any of this as his friend. "What is it? Be quick about it!"

"You have in your possession a box. It was delivered to Lord Bai's two weeks ago, and since hidden away. Will you not give it to me?"

Lord Bai laughed. "So, you're the one who sent those ruffians to attack my men."

"I am." Replied the Lady.

Old Master Mao's face lost all its shine in an instant. "You dare!" He thundered. "You dare come into my house after what you did? Who do you think you are?"

"I am your superior, old man." Lady Moonlight answered, a haughtiness slipping back into her tone. "I am your superior in every way, and I will have that box or every last member of the Mao family will die by my will before the Hour of the Rat a fortnight from now."

"You think so, do you?" Mao said in a disbelieving tone. "Well then, I thank you for delivering yourself to us before such a thing could happen. I don't think your men will be so quick to harm my family with their leader in my care. Guards! Take her!"

The old master had barked that last command to his men, who indeed had Lady Moonlight surrounded, outnumbered and at a disadvantage in every way possible. It seemed like there was no chance for her to escape this fate, all the Mao family's ten best fighters had to do was take a step in and she was theirs.

But they didn't. Not an inch.

Crocodile Mao's voice was like thunder and echoed throughout the hall loud enough to wake even the most drunken sleeper. But it was still not enough to make his men move, for they remained standing still like statues.

Mao paused, looking around, uncertain.

"I'm sorry, Master Mao." Lady Moonlight said, raising a hand to cover her mouth. "But your men have all lost their spirit to fight. In fact, they've lost all their spirits."

As she laughed some of the people in the crowd crept forward to check the fighters, and a cry of horror went through the room. They were dead! All of them! Every last one of the fighters, every guard, and not a few of the audience had been dead for over a minute now and not a single person in the room had seen it happen! As she'd danced, without spilling a single drop of blood she'd struck down each of them with her sword, not only killing them but using their pressure points to paralyze their bodies so they hadn't moved or been able to cry out!

This petite fairy who looked like a goddess from the mountains was in fact a devil from the depths of the darkest hells.
Rob is a teacher, writer and blogger based in London, Ontario, Canada. He is a teacher at Fanshawe College, and the founder/producer of the Kung Fu Action Theatre audio drama group. He is married to his beautiful wife Connie, and owned by his beagles Winston and Penny.

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