His wounds still open, K'ing trails his arch-enemy Kak out of the
desert... and into the sin-infested backstreets of China's great
cities. With the beautiful, alluring Sun Lee and a strange new comrade
who calls himself The Moor, he dives into a maze of smoking opium, gang
war, and a hundred brutal Kung Fu fights... ever closer to the heart of
the fiendish Red Circle!
Chong Fei K'ing climbed dizzily, painfully down from the rickety
wooden tower. The many visions he had been granted there, dancing on
the edge of life and death in the very place where the Master had spent
so many hours in mystic communion with the universe, swirled away as he
coughed and spat up blood. He reeled and staggered halfway around Lin
Fong's grave toward the well that stood not far from the house. Then he
felt a wound in his arm open. He clenched his hand to it to keep it
from spurting blood.
He coughed again.
The blue sky went black, and in it he could see the face of Kak Nan
Tang glowering at him in the middle of their night-long fight.
Visions of the battle made him fight it all again: every desperate
Once more the sun came up.
Once more his fingers shaped themselves in the shape of that strange
Once more he raked Kak's face with two gouges that cut downward from
his hairline to his eyebrows.
Once more Kak stumbled, screaming, over the southern ridge.
But this time K'ing followed. Half dead, half dreaming, K'ing lurched
over the sand fence. Perhaps Kak himself had passed out just over the
ridge. Perhaps he still lay there. Perhaps King could still overtake
him in the sands.
K'ing had not yet reached his fifteenth year when, his body racked
with the agony of terrible wounds that had barely closed, he set out on
a journey of a hundred miles under the baking late summer sun across
the driest, deadest, most hostile desert in the world.
Through every dry gorge, over every gravelly plain, across every
drifting dune, K'ing thought, “Now I will catch sight of him. He is
more badly wounded than I am. He cannot be far ahead. He must travel a
straight line to the Hwang Ho. He has no food. He has no water. His
soul is raging with hate, and it burns away his energy. I will catch
him. I must catch him—before the Slaves of Zedak can rise up from hell
to help him; before he can join with the Red Circle.”
Again and again he gazed up into the cloudless azure of the sky,
wondering whether the eyes of the Masters of Zhamballah were on him.
But all he saw was the blinding fury of the sun, and now he
wondered—was it all a myth? Was it all a fairy tale? Were there really
no Masters of Zhamballah? Was he really alone?
This much he did know: that there were on earth eleven Masters of the
Blue Circle. There were eleven Kung Fu fighters scattered somewhere
around the globe, perhaps with young pupils of their own, who were
dedicated to bringing the Peace of Zhamballah back to earth.
The Peace of the Heavenly City of Zhamballah.
The Peace of the Tao.
He knew too: there was also a Red Circle. How many members it had,
what their ways of fighting for Zedak's dominion were, he did not know.
He only knew there was a Red Circle.
He pushed his failing body hard over the jagged rocks and scorching
sand. He forced his eyes to search for Kak Nan Tang.
But fleeting swirls of dust were not Kak, nor dry bushes that moved
like humans on the horizon.
K'ing covered the hundred miles in two days. His feet were bleeding.
His skin was cracking with desiccation. At night the world turned
upside down and he walked from star to star, his flesh burning with
fiery pain even as he sailed free from it to ride on the Wind that
Blows in the Void.