Urban fantasy rock(?) band wuxia

So. One of my friends on Twitter and I had a conversation culminating in the following:

 

Smoke spreads out a bamboo mat on the ground in front of the abandoned bar and set her taiko on its stand. The drum was slightly more than half her height in diameter and hollowed out of solid wood but she manipulates it with ease, her breath smooth and easy, her expression serene.

To the untutored eye, the Dragon would have been just another dilapidated building, rightfully condemned and left to decay. To her mage-sight, it blazes with golden light, a shimmering dome encasing the entire structure.

She takes a step forward and raises her hand. The magical shield presses back against her palm, unseen but definitely tangible.

Her lips shape a confident smile as she looks on what she considers her future territory.

“Soon,” she murmurs.

Settling into position behind the taiko, she takes a deep breath, spins her drumsticks in her hands once and starts drumming.

Slow but alert, the steps of an army on the march. Her movements are loose but precise, the bachi an extension of her arms, thudding a stable beat onto the cowhide. Then, the enemy is sighted. The troops pick up their pace, their blood flowing faster, their hearts drumming a war-cry in their ears. She flurries the excitement and trepidation of battle into her strokes, sending the blood-rousing resonance vibrating through the air.

Golden light gathers around her, motes of brilliance swirling in air displaced by her rhythm. Heat gathers in her core, her magic rising with her qi. She relaxes into the strokes, muscle memory taking over and concentrates on gathering her energy and her magic.

She would get the one chance to open the door. If she fails, that would be it. She’d be out of the running for the Guardianship of the city.

The notes rise into the air, conveying the soldiers’ will to engage, their resolve for victory. Light and magic surround her and the taiko, a whirlwind of power building into a battering ram. Long black hair floats out behind her on a wave of incense-scented heat and sweat trickles down her temple.

Ramping up the intensity, her arms and bachi blur through the air, beating out a warrior’s blood-crazed reach to live, to grasp victory and crush his enemies.

Her breathing comes faster as she weaves her breath and her will into the magic, willing the door to open.

“Aspirant!” The deep voice rolls out like thunder.

Smoke doesn’t look up, her focus complete.

A man in flowing robes and wielding two short swords steps forth from the shadows and starts for her.

She continues drumming, flowing through the motions. He leaps forward and slashes at her, aiming to disrupt her gathering of power. Smoke sways out of the way and blocks with one bachi, upping the speed with her other hand to keep the beat rising and kicked out at him.

He deflects and attacks again, faster this time. They both know that if he doesn’t stop her soon, the magic will complete.

Instead of ducking away, she curls into his space and stomps on his foot with one stiletto heel, her other hand driving her ironwood drumstick into his gut. Bringing her head forward in a crack against his nose, she jabs her elbow into his throat. He staggers back and she presses her advantage, landing a torrent of blows to drive the whirlwind to the height of its power.

“Go!” She strikes one last fusillade of notes culminating in a soaring crescendo and shouts out her will at the sky. The man falls back and lowers his swords, his face watchful, his eyes anticipatory.

The shield bends and bows under the force of her magic before giving way with a single resonant note reminiscent of a gong.

Smoke staggers back in relief, tears trailing down her face to mingle with her sweat.

The position as one of the Guardians is hers.

~~*~~*~~

 

I’m not certain this really fits with wuxia — I get the feeling it is somewhat more fantasy than wuxia, but hey. I am a fantasy writer after all. This piece really, really wants to be written in present. I kept trying to wrench it back to past but it refused, so I’m making it happy and present.

I suppose it’s fitting, after all. There is no past tense in wuxia the same way there are no old swordsmen.

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