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Literature / Coiling Dragon

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Image from the graphic adaption, where the artist took an Artistic License and made an old man into a buxom woman

Coiling Dragon, aka Panlong, is a Web Serial Novel written by wuxia author I Eat Tomatoes and has been completely translated into English by Ren Wo Xing. A manhua adaptation also exists for the work.

Empires rise and fall on the Yulan Continent. Saints, immortal beings of unimaginable power, battle using spells and swords, leaving swathes of destruction in their wake. Magical beasts rule the mountains, where the brave - or the foolish - go to test their strength. Even the mighty can fall, feasted on by those stronger. The strong live like royalty; the weak strive to survive another day.

This is the world which Linley is born into. Raised in the small town of Wushan, Linley is a scion of the Baruch clan, the clan of the once-legendary Warriors. Their fame once shook the world, but the clan is now so decrepit that even the heirlooms of the clan have been sold off. Tasked with reclaiming the lost glory of his clan, Linley will go through countless trials and tribulations, making powerful friends but also deadly enemies. Come witness a new legend in the making.

The Legend of Linley Baruch.

This story provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Bloodviolet can cut a tree so smoothly it won't budge, the Wind Saint level Spell Dimensional Edge, which appears to be a giant 4~5 meters long blade, cuts through reality.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership:
    • Played straight. In a world where supernatural might can change the course of a war, high-ranking warriors and magi are regularly given noble titles. Even where a noble-born may outrank a warrior, there will be some deference.
    • In the Infernal Realm, the stronger an expert is, the higher his position. The strongest may have authority over cities or even entire prefectures.
  • Bag of Holding: Interspatial rings.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow:
    • Dylin destroys the Holy Barrier that keeps the Radiant Church safe. He needs to hit it twice, but it's a barrier that should have kept them safe from anything.
    • Later on Linley and Delia work together to try and do something similar. They don't manage to destroy it but get far enough to force the ones in the barrier to come out and fight
  • Battle Aura: High-level magi and warriors can show this in battle. Also Linley, when he is under the influence of Bloodviolet.
  • Bishōnen Line: Dragonblooded warriors follow this path; early on, their monstrous Dragonform transformation is their most important powerup, but as they grow more powerful the advantage it provides declines until they're more powerful in their human form.
  • Blood Knight: Linley 100%. It is mentioned several times that when he is in danger that he feels his "blood boiling" with excitement, even when he is losing.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Averted. even if all spells have names, and once a person gains insight on the Profound Mysteries usually names the attacks that use them, the person rarely calls them out loud- most of the time just thinking the name of the attack is enough.
  • The Cavalry: And in this case the cavalry is made of hundreds of millions of rats; mind, all of them are magical beasts of at least 4th or 5th rank, and they outnumber the other army in nearly 100 to 1.
  • Child Prodigy: Linley, Dixie, and Olivier.
  • Clean Cut: Most warriors use sharp weapons, so this trope's seen at repetition.
  • Cute Monster: Magical Beasts are not all terrifying, Bebe can appear as a small cute black mouse.
  • Deadly Training Area: The Mountain Range of Magical Beasts works like this for Linley, and a lot of other people. Later, Linley's group finds a pocket dimension that will kill anyone that's not strong enough that tries to go in.
  • Deity of Human Origin: Saint-level magi and warriors can train to become a Demigod, or they can advance by absorbing a divine spark. Using the shortcut offered by the latter, however, means that advancing further becomes more difficult.
  • Divine Intervention: Lord Beirut. Nominally, he manages the Yulan Plane for a Sovereign from afar and is said to not care about what people do, but he does enter the plot later on. Most of these interventions directly or indirectly make Bebe, his descendant, happy by aiding Linley.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Lord Beirut does not know the meaning of the word 'disproportionate'. When he says to not do something and you do, he publicly and very visibly ends your existence. If you weren't one of the people that had known about that rule...well, now everyone knows about it.
  • Elemental Powers: High-ranking warriors and magic can train in the Laws of Earth, Fire, Water, Wind, Lightning, Light, and Darkness and the Edicts of Death, Destruction, Life, and Fate. The Overgods passed down training methods for the Edicts...except for the Overgod of Destruction. There's only one way to learn Destruction.
  • Extranormal Prison: The Gebados Planar Prison is a not-nice place filled with not-nice people. A place where Saints and gods may be sent by the Planar Overseer for their transgressions. Magical constructions on the Yulan Plane mark links that exist between the two worlds because the prison is really part of the Yulan Plane that was partitioned off by an Overgod.
  • Everyone Has a Special Move: High-rank warriors develop their own personal offensive and defensive abilities as their understanding of the elemental Laws increase.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: Anyone with some training can become a Warrior, so most people have a little ability to do kung fu, and any army's made of practitioners of some ability.
  • Familiar: People can tame magical beasts by forcibly subduing them or using soul-binding magic. If a magical beast has enough affection for a person, however, they may initiate a bond of equals.
  • Fight Magnet: Linley gets this a lot during the first few parts of the story, mostly for being young and or having a baby face, after a while Fights come to look for him with real reasons.
  • First Girl Wins:Delia.
  • Flight: Wind spells can enable a magus to fly, but Saints and gods are able to fly on their own.
  • Forged by the Gods:
    • Divine artifacts are created over time as deities use items and nourish them with their divine and spiritual energies. The way that a deity uses an item determines the nature of the artifact that it will become.
    • After becoming a god, Linley learns that the Coiling Dragon is a damaged soul-protecting Sovereign-level artifact.
    • Bloodviolet is a sword that had been created through use by a deity that trained in the Way of Destruction.
  • Functional Magic: Flavors include magic spells, artifacts, the Baruch clan's Dragonblood transformation.
  • Giant Foot of Stomping: Kalan and his father are literally killed by a giant Ape Saint who steps on them.
  • God-Emperor: The War God and High Priest.
  • Healing Hands: High-ranking magi can use Light magic to heal your wounds. When they're not using the same powers to destroy your soul, that is.
  • Heartbroken Badass: When Linley finds out that Alice has left him for another boy, he spends eleven days in a mystical trance carving a sculpture. When he is done, the experience has dramatically raised his power level.
  • Healing Factor: Imparted to those that possess a Pearl of Life.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: The Radiant Church actively hunts for Linley after the fall of Feilan's city. This was also the structure of the Necropolis of the Gods, where magical beasts within the would get rewarded once they killed a certain amount of Saints.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: All warriors create special skills as they approach the Saint level. Depending on the Laws that someone trains in, these attacks can generate multiple mirage attacks, strike from distance, bypass armor, or even tear small holes in reality.
  • It Can Think: Most Magical Beasts show animalistic traits, but the higher the rank, the higher their intelligence, around rank 7 most are considered at least as smart as a normal human being.
  • Killer Rabbit: Bebe, he's normally seen as a 20 cms long black mouse, but can chew through rock like they were cookies, imagine what it can do to flesh has also shown the ability to increase his body size up to dragon sized.
  • Kung-Fu Wizard: Linley.
  • Light Is Not Good: Although The Radiant Church might be expected to significantly different than the Cult of Shadows, there is a reason that they ally themselves. The Radiant Church has a tendency to sacrifice poor souls to receive rewards from their Sovereign, and destroy a strong person's soul so that an angel can occupy their body.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Downplayed, but present. At lower ranks a warrior is better in direct one-on-one one combat than a magus, and advance more easily; however, a Saint Magus has an advantage over a Saint Warrior of equal experience, though not an insurmountable one.
  • Literal Split Personality: When a Saint becomes a God, they can choose to create a second body around their divine spark instead of absorbing the spark into their original body.
  • Martial Arts and Crafts: The Straight Chisel School of stonesculpting. Developed by Doehring, Earth-style magi can practice this technique to greatly enhance their spiritual essence training.
  • Missing Mom: Linley and Wharton's mother. But it wasn't what they had been told.
  • Medieval Stasis: Although the kingdoms have changed in the past five thousand years, there doesn't seem to have been appreciable advances in technology. Noting that some characters are described as having lifetimes counted in the millions of years, this may be an extreme example. Although, those beings and their magic may be related to this state of reality.
  • My Kung-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: The world revolves around people developing one's skills fighting either magical beasts or other magi or warriors.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • When Linley takes Bloodviolet from its resting place, he inadvertently opens a portal to a prison dimension and releases a powerful deity. That deity gathers an army of magical beasts and brings destruction to the Kingdom of Fenlai, which kills 80% of city's residents who didn't manage to escape on time. In a bit of symmetry, this event actually frees Linley from his own imprisonment. Played with in that the more experienced Doehring Cowart recognizes that the sword is obvious Schmuck Bait, but says nothing because he figures Linley's personal advancement is more important to a threat to the world that he presumes stronger experts will deal with anyway.
    • As a result of this action, more deities escape later on. Linley, Desri, and Olivier confront one that murdered millions of people. The result? Olivier uses his ultimate attack and destroys another, bigger seal on that prison plane. Many more Saints and deities escape.
  • Old Master: Some do look old, like Doehring, but the extended lifespan usually carries a young appearance and even if they have lived for hundred of years, most look less than 50, Linley achieved Saint level at the age of 27 and never looked a day older after that.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Angels are constructions that don't age, grow stronger, or change their abilities, but they can gain an ego and new knowledge. However, they can only reside in the mortal plane by possessing a body, and the inherit strength of the body limits the amount of power the angel can use. In order to show their true strength, they must sacrifice their body on the mortal plane.
  • Our Souls Are Different: A being's use of magic is tied to their soul. For Saints and lower-ranking beings, there is no limit on the number of Laws or Edicts that they may train in. Part of becoming a god, however, is bonding your soul to a divine spark specific to that type of magic. One spark per soul and one soul per body means that each god can only use one type of magic. Unless, of course, they have more than one body. Beings that become a god through their own training may choose to form a new divine body around their divine spark, splitting their soul in two in the process. However, if that divine body is killed, the being may only become a god with that Law or Edict again by finding another divine spark of that type; the universe will not create another for them.
  • Parental Abandonment: Hogg deliberately avoided this by waiting until Linley and Wharton were on their own and taken care off before he disappeared on his quest. Linley disappears for 10 years in the Necropolis of the Gods, and his kids and nephew aren't sure how to behave around him when he returns. Delia only came out of secluded training for a couple of months when her grandchild was born before disappearing again.
  • Power Levels: The world explicitly codifies it for both warriors and mages. People start at first rank and progress to the ninth rank. Each of these ranks has well-defined ability benchmarks and abilities or spells that they are able to use. A being (including magical beasts) surpassing the ninth rank becomes a Saint. Beyond the Saint level are the deities: anyone can eventually become a demigod, god, or highgod, but the number of Sovereigns are limited to seven of each magical Law/Edict. Beyond the Sovereigns are the Overgods, which are representations of ideas and unreachable by people. Within each rank, people are usually referred to as early, normal, or peak.
  • The Powers That Be: On the Yulan Plane, Saints and deities control events or lead organizations from behind the scenes. On the other planes, there are clans and other organizations that exercise power within the territories ruled by the Sovereigns.
  • Priest King: Heidens, the Holy Emperor of the Radiant Church and ultimate ruler in the Holy Union.
  • Rags to Riches: Linley at multiple stages. When he is a child, the Baruch clan has trouble making ends meet. However, he quickly comes into money upon selling his sculptures. And when he acquires a royal treasury. And more so when he continues acquiring divine artifacts and divine sparks, which are far more valuable than gold.
  • Ring of Power:
    • The Coiling Dragon. This ring has special powers that are revealed through the story. Examples include allowing the wearer to use less energy to cast spells and protecting Linley's soul from being destroyed.
    • Once Linley is able to probe inside of the Coiling Dragon, he finds out that it is a Sovereign-level artifact that the has been damaged and the soul-protecting shield has a hole in it. On the bright side, it is still able to absorb and refine souls to increase his power.
    • Linley also finds A drop of Dragon God's blood that jacks up his dragonform to a new level and three drops of Sovereign power to apply some Plot Armor
  • Shapeshifting: Most Magical Beasts learn to change their size as they grow stronger. When they reach the Saint Level, they are able to change the size of their body, and when they become a deity, they are able to take on a human form.
  • Soul Jar: In order to avoid death, Doehring Cowart placed his soul into the WorldringCoiling Dragon.
  • Slave Liberation: Linley saves people who were going to be enslaved by the Radiant Church they proceed to assist him on his quest. Also, when Linley kills the Grand Warlock and stops his assembly line of soul capturing.
  • Spirit Advisor: Grandpa Doehring is this to Linley. When he died 5000 years ago, he placed his spirit in the eponymous ring. He can only be seen or heard by Linley, because the ring is bonded to him, but Saints are able to sense Doehring's presence when he manifests outside of the ring.
  • Squishy Wizard: Inverted. Linley initially thinks that magi are weak, but Hogg explains that they are only weak when compared to equal-rank warriors. As magi absorb elemental energy in their training, their bodies become stronger than normal.
  • Supernatural Martial Arts: Not surprising for a story described as a mix of wuxia and Daoist fantasy.
  • Talking Animal: Saint-level magical beasts.
  • Telepathy: Saints and gods can have this ability. People can also use this abilities with their magical beasts.
  • Time Skip: The story tends to skip forward sometimes to show the result of training.
  • Training from Hell: Self-inflicted by Linley. When he secludes himself and uses his Earth magic to increase the gravity he trains in, and when he and Bebe go to the Mountain Range of Magical Beasts.
  • True Companions: Linley and the bros of dorm 1987, they see each other as close as real blood brothers. A few people have discovered that if they hurt one, another steps in to exact revenge.
  • Villain Forgot to Level Grind: Linley's progress astonishing, reaching 7th rank of magus second in the history of Yulan continent, and reaching Saint at the age of 27, he also reaches Deity level before 60 years old, leaving most of his enemies quite behind
  • Violence is the Only Option: Rarely any Talk It Out works long. Linley's Dragonblood is regularly described as giving him vengeful or violent urges. When Desri did broker an non-aggression agreement between Linley and the allied Radiant Church and Cult of Darkness forces, the latter ended up attacking anyways.
  • Wizarding School: The Ernst Institute, among many others.
  • Wizards Live Longer: While the average person lives for 120-130 years, higher-ranked magi and warriors can live for up to 500 years. Unless, of course, they become a Saint.
  • Yin-Yang Bomb: The seven elemental laws and four edicts normally can't be fused at all, unless you are a soul mutate, which involves one's soul being damaged near to the point of dissolution with the prerequisite of having trained in multiple elements/Edicts.
  • Your Soul Is Mine!: Souls can be taken and "refined" into a form that can be absorbed. This absorption can be done to heal one's own soul or to increase one's power. In general, the donor doesn't survive the process.