Legacy's Tale
Chapter 40
Note – It took a year to finish this because my PC went kaput last year so I lost the first part. Had to rewrite from my notes and what I remember, certain scenes and characters taken from drawings for defunct fics. This is the longest chapter ever. Somewhere near the end I came down with flu and written the rest of the fic under the influence of my flu medication. So don’t say I didn’t warn you about the insanity. Any resemblance to any movie, book or video game is part coincidence and part on purpose due to my fondness for certain characters. Tons of ‘DPJPs’(dumb personal jokes/pokes) flying around. Interlude is optional to read, To skip interlude click here  
   
   

Legacy’s Tale – Interlude for Chapter 40  
   

It was still night and dawn is hours away. This is the time when many would still be snug in bed dreaming dreams before the new day stirs them. But the bed of Ryu of ChunLi remains empty as it was for the last couple of hours.  

They had tried to sleep but barely into half an hour, Tianzai alone would return to haunt their dreams. So now the couple sat, nestled together in a corner. Waiting for dawn to come, waiting for this nightmarish ordeal to end so that they could go back to their lives. They would rather fight a living enemy than one as insubstantial as Tianzai.  

But then they were meat, in nicer words, they were just hosts to whoever wins this tug of war. Running away from this fight is out of the question and staying may not be a wise choice.  
   

In his silent consideration of their situation, Ryu’s hand unconsciously stroke ChunLi’s head. It was an action that he always does when they both cuddle in such uncomfortable silence. The action calms him and reassures her at the same time.  

As ChunLi’s head was resting on his chest, every breath that Ryu took was scent of night air mingled with the faint traces of ChunLi’s perfume. The only warmth they felt was from each other, for the breeze that swept in chills them like a sinister warning.  
   

Where his right hand rested, Ryu could feel the beating of ChunLi’s heart, beating in time with his. In this moment, there was only them and them alone. At this moment tomorrow does not matter as long as they have now. All he could see, hear, feel and smell was ChunLi. To him she is strong yet vulnerable in some ways. All the more reason to what he can for her.  

As Ryu’s right hand move up to touch ChunLi’s cheek, she gazes back up him. In that pair strong brown eyes was a question. A question if her weight pinning him down had caused his body to be numb from the pressure. Ryu smiled back and shook his head.  

ChunLi felt that she could watch those quiet brown eyes forever as his gaze held her. It didn’t matter that his left hand had stop stroking her head, there was so much ahead of them and yet ChunLi wondered if she had robbed him of something when she twined their paths together.  

Then again it seems to her their intertwining lives were meant to be. And if tomorrow would bring an end to that, she appreciates the life she had shared with Ryu. Not one regret in regards to giving up her status in Shadowlaw just to roam the earth with this wandering warrior.  

The way Ryu smiled back his answer with that soft smile and his eyes close was simply too adorable for ChunLi to not notice it. She could not help but giggle. And at that brought about a questioning look from Ryu.  

She moved a little so that she faces him as her hand rested on his chest. She could feel the strong beat of his heart beating in time with hers. She wished that the moment of now could go on forever and that tomorrow never comes. There was still much to do, much to say.  

“No regrets my warm warrior?” ChunLi broke the silence.  
“No regrets. aisai” Ryu smile back.  
“Come with me then.” ChunLi stood up, offering her hand to Ryu.  

Without hesitation, Ryu took her hand and allow himself to be led to balcony. It wasn’t too far up from the ground and someone like them could easily leap down. So scooping ChunLi into his arms he hops on to the balcony ledge and leap down landing on his feet with his knees bent, he waited as ChunLi got down.  

Still dawn is nowhere near and the insomniac couple chooses to finish some unfinished business between them. In the misty clearing before the statue of the Water Bearer and the dragon, the couple judges the area to be big enough for the activity to come.  
   

“Shall we dance?” Ryu got into his defensive stance.  
“Ikuzo! (Let’s go!)” ChunLi bowed.  
“Don't come crying if you lose!” Ryu roared as he rushes towards ChunLi in an explosion of fist  
“Ha! I'll make you eat your words!!” She blocks and times her attacks.  
  

A fight between grace, power and agility very much like a dance instead. And so the insomniac couple dances the dance of fist and foot. The one dance that they were most familiar with. The one dance that brought them together. The one fight that would last till the twilight before the dawn of tomorrow. Who knows what tomorrow brings.  

What matters is now. For now they remember once more who they are and what paths they had chosen to walk. For they alone walk the paths they choose.  


   

Chapter 40  

Dawn arrives as it lights the fluffy clouds in the hues of oranges and reds. The sparring session of Ryu and ChunLi had given way to breakfast. And even now the noisy and cheerful breakfast slowly gives way to the somberness of the inevitable that looms ahead  

Still time!! Still time!!! 
The panic in Tianzai’s soundless voice screeches inside ChunLi’s mind. 
Still time!! Still time!!! Turn back now!! Now, now!!! Now turn back or face regrets!!!!  
It kept screaming as ChunLi took Ryu’s hand and followed their wards towards the grand staircase that leads up the to the grand double doors. ChunLi watches her wards each taking a side of the two doors and placing both hands upon the elaborately craved door.  

She noted that they both had chosen a spot on the door that held a design different from the rest of carvings of vines and the ever-present water bearer and dragon. It was an eight-pointed star with a circle within!  

She knew that it was the same star that was present during the ritual that had invoked Tianzai! But also she herself was taught to use the same symbol that represents the eight directions, the elements and non-elemental and that this symbol is closely related to her wards as well. She knew all too well how a basic symbol such as this could lead to various disasters when different markings are involved.  

But this ‘Ba-Kyok’ is different from all the others for instead of any names within the circle it holds four interloping circles. More importantly the four interloping circles was form to strongly resemble an eye no matter which way it was rotated….  

“May SHE not be raven-winged.” Her wards mumbled as the pushed the symbols to unlock the doors. Each took a door ring and pulled with a bit of difficulty as the huge doors rumbled open reluctantly welcoming ChunLi with the darkness before her.  
   

Ignoring Tianzai’s shrieks of protest ChunLi followed her wards in. She wasn’t able to tell how far the dark tunnel leads, the only light she could see came from the flicker on Kyo’s finger, even that was not enough for her.  

“SHI-KINKK!!” A silvery shimmer spark to life and blazes around ChunLi’s foot. The sound brought to mind a warning of pain but left her no time to react as it blazes red. But no pain came for instead she felt herself ripped off the floor and flung back out the tunnel like a rag doll.  

“SHI-KINKK!!” It sounded again as ChunLi was trying to braced for impact  
And this time Ryu was sent hurtling towards her and crashing her into the far wall and darkness came…..  
   

It took a while for the light to return. ChunLi felt as if a heavy weight was holding her down. On focusing she realized it was only the deadweight of the unconscious Ryu.  
“Ryu?” she called  
“I’m okay…you?..” he stirred as she answered with a nod.  
“You guys okay?” Kyo called out as the other rush towards them.  

“Fine..” ChunLi mumbled as they pulled Ryu off her. Realization hits her on seeing the others untouched by the strange trap.  

Naturally so!! Naturally so!! Tianzai laughs within ChunLi’s pounding head.   
IT did warn this happen. Did It not do so? IT like to know if not-so-particularly-bright Chunny-Whunny is satisfied enough to not try this pointless act again?  

Once again ChunLi ascended the stairs with caution. She could hear Tianzai taunting away at her foolhardy attempt.  

Selfish Chunny. It calls her. 
For not caring about poor Ryu now? Dear love of life might have broke a rib or two now? Careful now. IT cautioned her as she took her next step. Happen again one more time. It breaks out in laughter, drowning out all other sounds except for one sharper then all.  
   

“SHI-KINNK!!!!” The dreadful light shimmers once more. She grabbed onto Ryu’s hand even harder.  
<  Not me??!!  > she realised. Her arm jerked as Ryu was torn from the ground with such fearsome force that ChunLi was half-afraid that her arm may be torn from its socket.  

“SHI-KINKK!!!” the second sound followed another glimmer, this time around her foot.  
<  Not again!!!  > She screamed in her mind as the shrill screams of the air lifted her off the floor  

Her arm jerks violently as the air rushes past her, she can’t help but feel that this time she would be ripped apart for sure.  

“Pull!!!” Iwa’s voice yelled out  
ChunLi forced her eyes open to see that Iwa had grabbed her wrist with one hand while her free hand was holding onto Kumori who was similarly joined to the others. Bit by bit the others pulled the aloft couple through the tunnel. At every step ChunLi could feel the force intensify along with the shrillness of screaming air. The thought of being ripped apart felt as real as the burning pain in her arms.  

And then silence came as Ryu and ChunLi fell unceremoniously to the floor. For a short while all eleven sprawled on the floor near the tunnel’s exit as they try to catch their breath.  
   

“How many more?” ChunLi had to ask even though she knew she might not like the answer. In her wards' silence she watches as the duo rolled their eyes skywards and consult a mental list of traps. ChunLi thought it to be a bad sign when her wards raised their eyebrows in surprise.  

“Its new?!” They exclaimed, startled by the fact that this trap was not only a new one but it was only installed the moment they had entered and specially made to be triggered by the couple. Painfully obvious that they were expected.  

“But it’s the only one.” Kumori assured her before heading off the end of the hallway and opened another set of doors with Iwa.  
   
   

Darkness greeted them but Kyo made himself useful and lighted the torches. ChunLi found that she had step into a circular chamber with high circular stone walls. In the center of the room stood seven stone sarcophaguses in a semicircle facing her. Each a dragon headed warrior but each seems to be carry a different weapon, yet of the seven at least six of the weapons seem to feature an orb while the seventh weapon is an orb itself.  

ChunLi realized where she had seen the orb before and in fact she had seen all the other six weapons as well. And the wielder of the sword with an orb on the clawlike pommel with double dragons on its crossguard was searching for something within that particular sarcophagus.  

ChunLi watches the squatting Iwa rummaging through the partially open sarcophagus. When a skeletal hand flop down onto her head, her ward waddles backwards reaching for the hand gingerly bringing it to eye level. With the utmost reverence her ward removes the gold ring from the skeletal middle finger and gently shoved the hand back into place and closes the lid.  

Iwa fumbles and nearly drops the little gold ring that has a phoenix and a dragon chasing a fiery orb carved upon it.  It didn’t take long before she slips the ring upon her own finger. She open her mouth as if to say something but shut it as she thought well not to, all she did was laugh and then shut up again with a huge grin. This made ChunLi worry, both wards have being acting rather strangely ever since they arrive.  

“What?!” Iwa look up when she sense ChunLi’s disapproval in tomb raiding  
“It was mine to begin with, she being my predecessor and all that.” Iwa defended.  
“Here here!” Kumori waved what seem like a scepter with a dragon rampant. And then taking out a similar looking orb from her pack and placing it in the hands of the dragon. With a click it seem to have latched onto the orb.  

Her wards headed to the focal point of the semi circle and Kumori struck the scepter into an indent. The entire area shook and rumbles as a circular window in the center of the roof rumbled open letting in a shaft of light that strikes down on the orb which disperse its light into the a hole near the only entrance.  

A click sounded and the place started to rumble once more throwing the unprepared off their feet, the doors groan and slammed themselves shut and a stone wall drops down blocking any form of escape. Nakaruru glared at ChunLi and strode towards her only to be thrown off her feet again as the floor starts to rumble and slowly turns.  
   

Something on the wall caught ChunLi’s attention, carvings that seem to tell a story from where she stood she saw the Water Bearer again. This time with a strangely familiar man, they both seem to be shrugging at some sort of a mistake. And then as she moves she saw the duo carrying the seven familiar weapons going after their mistake. They then caught their mistake but forgotten about it when something else distracted them.  

Time pass and the weapons had being passed on to seven individuals as some form of a seal. Although the man was no longer there he seems to have being replaced by the familiar dragon. The artist for this place seem to overdriven to constantly use this dragon on almost everything  

Something else stuck to ChunLi’s mind, something which resemble her wards’s all-important gathering was carved upon the wall made her wonder as to why is it that there is a couple attending it as well. Something about this seems to gnaw at the back of her mind trying to grab her attention. Something about what Geonitz had mention sometime back.  
   

A sudden jolt threw her into Ryu who was equally absorbed by what he had seen, as they both got off the floor the feeling of something important was gone as they were caught right in the glaring hawk-like eyes of a man of stone, stunning them for a moment.  

“Oh, my...” Rimururu was heard gasping.  
In a way she had voiced ChunLi’s thoughts as well. The feeling that they seen him before returns but still they can’t remember where and when. She thought that he resembles the sober one of Brothers of the Wind but on closer inspection his looks very much resemble someone in her current entourage whose name kept slipping away as if some spell prevents her from making a connection to the name.  

Of all the carvings this is the only one that captured his features, ruffled hair, a thin braid that’s made up of a scant ponytail. A sleeveless scale mail that looks vaguely familiar, the hem of his pants tucked into plain boots His well-muscled arms raised to chest level for his hands are rested on top of a pommel of a four feet long board sword.  

His bracers bear the symbol of the ba-kyok with the four interloping circles in the center. Another thing of familiarity that ChunLi noted was the scaly texture of the mail, bracers and the belt, almost the same type of scales that her wards wear on at least an accessory or two. Now she knows where her wards get their fashion sense and why it is sort of their uniform. If he were to wear a cape or a yukata she would be certain that she might remember his name.  

Even this board sword looks all too familiar. Its design is very much similar to that of Iwa’s. This blade seems to be part carving and part actual sword stuck onto the wall. With the exception of the missing pommel, a longish sword like slot, part of the cross-guard that seems to be missing and the fact that its length is longer and the breath of it was twice that of the smaller blade.  

“Excuse me.” Iwa said, making ChunLi step aside. ChunLi took a closer look once more as Iwa held up her own almost three feet long odd little sword and slides it into the slot of the bigger blade forming the full broadsword.  

It all made sense now as her ward’s sword was not only just a scale down version for her smaller frame but it is practically a part of the original blade, for the smaller sword completed the entire blade with a sharp ‘SHII-KKINK!!!’ Little sparks of blue energy works to meld the two blades together. Slowly the blade falls out of the wall and into Iwa’s waiting hands if the thing does not crush her first.  
   

Awkwardly she heaves the blade up with both hands letting her left shoulder take on brunt of the weight as she rest the blade to free her right hand. It was no surprise to ChunLi as to why her ward would choose not to carry the entire sword. Moving carefully backwards as to not let the weight fall her, with her teeth she manages to remove her ring and place it in an indent that the big blade had hidden from view earlier.  

And then Tianzai starts to stir once more. 
Look at pretty sword look at pretty sword that cuts your life soon. Why? Why then continue? Not go on good. Go on bad. Still has way to escape!! Escape with Ryu!!! No time to waste!!!!! Let’s Go!!!!! No more stay!!! No stay!!! 
IT seeks to tug her sleeve but she remains.  

With a clink the ring fits and the sound of a click, a crack, a pop and a rumble that rains dusts the wall rises to reveal another set of doors.  

“May she not be raven-winged.” They mumbled before pushing down the symbol to unlock the doors. Another click and the little ring fell into Iwa's waiting hand after which the duo proceeds to push the double doors open.  

This time instead of darkness, light and the scent of flowers welcome her, the sound of Tianzai’s desperate screams was washed away by the trickling sound of water.  
“No time to waste. Let's go.” ChunLi said, with Ryu’s hand in hers she followed her wards in.  
   

“GREAT GIANT LIZARDS??!!” Haohmaru yelled as he entered the chamber, grabbing his sword and fell into his battle stance. For glaring down at him from the sides are two large salamanders like creatures about his height in length. Why didn’t anyone notice this?!  

“I KNOW SOMETHING LIKE THIS IS BOUND TO HAPPEN!!!!” He roared and leapt into the air slicing down on the head of the one to his right. The stony head drops unceremoniously to the floor, staring blankly the swordsman who was ready to take on the other. He turns to face the one on his left. The thing didn’t even make to defend itself or attack. A very uncomfortable bout of silence assaulted the samurai.  
   

“Told you it was an ugly thing.” Kumori said to no one in particular. She came back to take a look at the damage  
“The old vainpot should stick his specialty.” Iwa sigh.  
“Yeah the first time he learns to make something other then dragons this happen.” Kumori picks up the head and places it near the severed neck.  
“Nope doesn’t regenerates, not coming to life, not breathing fire or obnoxious gases. It’s décor alright……” Kumori mumbled as she poke at the thing.  

“OH…..” Haohmaru scratches his head and took another sip of his sake.  
“Can’t take you anywhere.” Zannah sigh as she entered the chamber, shooting the samurai a glare that would have killed him, if not shatter his ego somewhat.  
“I wonder how Charlotte-chan tolerates him…” Rimururu added.  
“You shouldn’t drink that much sake in the morning, you know.” Chizuru frown in disapproval.  
“Its none of your business.” Haohmaru stated as his stomps after the couple.  

“For the record if because of this, we end up fighting some defender of some entity, goddess, demon or the disgruntle, extremely and ridiculously hard to kill artisan, it be his fault!” Kyo shouted in mock anger after Haohmaru, who answered with an uncharacteristically soft ‘humph’ while Galford and Nakaruru paled at the notion.  

“Hmmm….” Iwa wondered as she turns the head this way and that.  
“Are you sure?” Kumori asked no one in particular,  
“Okay if you say so.” Iwa shrugs placing the head near the neck.  

Little sparks of energy eagerly took the head as it nears the neck, working to fix the damage done. It didn’t take long before the figure was as good as new.  
“Its still an ugly thing.” Kumori said as they both rejoin the team.  
   

Now that ChunLi’s attention turn back to her surroundings, she noted the light had came in from two of three circular windows high up on the far wall. The window in the middle was the only one closed. While the two that were open welcome warm sunlight in, sunlight that shines in and gives life to the flower beds at the wall. Sunlight that has dust motes dancing in the shafts of light.  

Those flowerbeds were separated from their pathway by a flowing waterway that originates from the statues at the far side of chamber. This time the statues are one male and one female, no doubt the beautiful Water Bearer and her mysterious warrior. Both holding onto the same jug, water pouring down and hitting the divided path that made the water flow around the raised dais through the waterways.  

Nothing seems to overflow so this must be connected to the water junction they had to cross a day or two back. And the flowers that grows are lilies, four to a singular stalk, dark pinkish red on the inside and lighter shade of pinkish white on the outside(yes I do have these lilies at home)  

“Look.” Ryu alerted her to a couple more ‘salamanders’ that were hidden by the lilies, all glaring at them unseeingly.  
“Do we fight the ones we seek?” Rimururu asked in soft voice, feeling intimidated by her surroundings as she moves closer to Chizuru and Zannah.  
“NO!!!!” Both Iwa and Kumori shouted their answer in a near panic.  
“If anyone even gets the dammable idea to fight them. I’ll smack him on the upside of his not too sober head!!” Iwa declared her intentions, this seems to be aim at Haohmaru and the two who are lagging behind. Nakaruru caught the look sent her way, Iwa’s ‘them’ doesn’t only mean the ones they seek.  

Fight must fight!!!!! Foolish not to fight!!!! 
Tianzai started to panic once more. 
Not fight will die!! Die! Die! Die! Even you!!! Even you!! 
IT seems to shake so violently that if it had bars to shake it probably would. She had never felt it to be so violent before. Could it be right about the one they came to see.  

She wants You! You!!! You!!! Sisters fool you. Sisters listen to her. Sisters hers to comtrol!!! Sisters lead Chunny Whunny to bad choice!!! Sisters no help to Chunny Whunny!!!! Fight now!!!! Accept!! Accept help given now!!! Pain shall be two fold or more!!!! Destroy if need be!!!! ……  

Whatever else it was to say had been cut of by its screamings, screamings of Tianzai that caused pain to ChunLi, but only for a while before it left her alone. She found out why. The hair raising, bone-chilling sound of a sharp sword dragged across the stone floor. The unique sound of it nearly causes everybody’s knees to buckle. Her ward by now wears a scowl on her face for she drags the huge sword as she walks. ChunLi shook her head for such a careless act would only damage such a fine blade.  

“Well? What? Its heavy. At least It stop yelling.” Iwa turn to her. This seems to mean that Tianzai had taken the business end of this sword before. Iwa glared at blade and mumbled a few complaints directed to nobody before sighing and heaving the blade onto her shoulder.  

Indeed this blade was not made for someone as petite as her ward. She nearly giggle at the thought of her cranky ward’s attempt to swing such a blade, a successful hit would be devastating. Of course that is if the weight of it doesn’t topple her in mid swing. It was no surprise at all that there is a smaller version of it considering she has seen carvings of the Water Bearer with the smaller one.  

“Ah. At my expenses now huh?”  
“You need help with that?” Ryu asked. The one Iwa carries is still longer than his black blade but for a man his size and comparable to the stone warrior, it’s weight should be no problem to Ryu. ChunLi could imagine what it would be like of course, it had even seem natural for that matter.  

“As much as I would like to. No. I would rather you not be touch by this thing’s magic.”  
“No unfair advantages.” Kumori added. With that they move off towards the raise dais  
“Thank goodness that this complete dammable blade is only for ceremonies.” Iwa was heard saying. Obviously grateful that she need not be burden with the weight any longer.  

In silence they watch as Iwa raise the huge blade over her head, the weight of it threatening to fall her. With careful precision she spins the blade in a full circle and then again before stabbing the blade down with a sharp “SHI_KINNK!!” into a slot at the foot of the steps that leads up to the dais where a mound of earth lies. What is a pile of earth doing up there?  

Both wards dropped to one knee as a click and a rumble was heard. The room rumbles once more as the window in the center opens up, closing off the windows to the side. The bright sunlight blinded the other nine where they stood. Motes of dust dances in the shaft of light as, the sparkles within the orb dance violently.  

ChunLi gasped as the hair on the back of her neck stood on ends, a chill went down her spine as a sense of power made itself known, she shuddered as she squeezed Ryu’s hand for assurance and got a squeeze back in reply.  

Sparkly dust rained upon the mound of earth. Rimururu gasped as the earth rises and took shape. Without a doubt it is that dragon that the artisan of this place is so fond of. Magma flow within its earthy mouth while flames dances in its eyes, its size currently as long as four meters, its wings tuck away while its long tail bears nine peaks. Dual horns graced its stony head, long neck rises as it shook its head.  

Indeed the masculine version of the smaller ones that ChunLi had seen before. Burning eyes took in its surrounding and rests its gaze upon the couple, they both gasp at the heat even from this distance, its glare was as intense. And then ChunLi felt that the creature was looking at her in a rather fond manner. The chamber rumbles once more throwing the unsteady of their feet.  

“Is she here?” Iwa broke the silence. The chamber rumbles before Nakaruru got her balance back.  
“You’re enjoying this. Aren’t you?” Iwa narrowed her eye in annoyance. Another rumble answered her.  
“We brought that thing as well.” Kumori said  

This time flaming eyes close for a moment and reopen to glare at Rimururu, who immediately rummages through her belonging and produce a little box that’s tangled up with messy strings.  
“Really?” she asked, a little surprise at the request that entered her head.  

“If you say so.” She slides the box over to the duo at the front, neither wanted to touch it and it hit the foot the steps instead. The little box shook violently as the dark light attempts to seep through.(Author’s note – I’m not sure if I said this before but the box prevents Tianzai from messing with its surroundings or influencing others. But its still connected to CL. But its power of influence is limited to CL. And Ryu is only affected slightly. The only way to affect him is through CL.)  

“What? You expect something bigger?” Iwa asked. The creature look at her and a rumble came from it, this time the chamber remains still.  
“Souls?! The young priestess’s soul?!” Kumori exclaimed  
“The older sister is tastier?”  
Nakaruru pale, she knew this would happen sooner or later. Another rumble shook the room it sounded strangely like laughter.  

“Its not funny you know. You do remember where you left her. Don’t you?” Kumori frowned  
“Are you okay? You don’t look too good?” It had taken awhile before Iwa noticed. The creature answered with another rumble.  
“What do you mean bad year?” Silence answered as the flames died out, the earth lost its shape. The other nine look at the duo, unsure what to make of things.  

“Why does he not speak directly? He has a nice voice.” Rimururu asked  
“Not in this form. He thinks that a voice like that goes better with his other form.” Kumori cracked her knuckles before shaking her hands to get rid of imaginary water.  

“Bad year….. Something big?” Kumori glanced towards her companion.  
“He thinks so. They’re both up to something.” Iwa did a few punches and kicks to get rid of the kinks in her elbows and knees.  
   

The room rumbles signaling the creature’s return, her wards dropped upon one knee again. This time ChunLi could feel a stronger sense of energy crackling in the air. Automatically she reaches out for Ryu’s hand, but flinch on finding it cold and trembling slightly.  

“Ryu?” she called out lightly but he ignored her, beads of cold sweat form upon his brow as he stood paralyze and his gaze fixed. ChunLi follow his line of sight to a thin silken thread that seems to be hanging from the center of a spider web, a spider web with rune like lines. Why didn’t they see this before?  

The motes of dust like energy dances violently around the thread. And then it took form. A small little round shape the size of a sauce plate extended eight shimmering fragile looking legs, waving seemingly at Ryu as is it came down.  

It stopped just beside the earthy dragon where more motes of energy dust gathers to build up upon the spider. ChunLi could sense that Ryu was wondering how big that spider was going to be. She squeezes his cold hand but receive no response. From where she stood she could feel the hair on the back of her neck rising. Eyes were watching her with much curiosity. Hate that wasn't her was directed at the spider.  
   

And there She is, sitting there lounging against the warm earthy creature that seem so fond of her. She seems somewhat transparent yet ChunLi could hear the long metallic chains that join the shackles on her wrists clinking as she raises her hand. She hadn’t paid them any attention only focusing on the kneeling duo who answer by raising.  

“Uncanny.” Zannah was heard saying  
“I CAN SEE WHY THEY CHAIN HER UP. I WOULD TOO.” Haohmaru said although not as loudly, that prompted Kyo and Zannah to slap their foreheads and sigh.  
“Before we draw her attention and be blown to oblivion why is he with us again?” Kyo whispered to older woman as if she has all the answers to every question even though this one is highly rhetorical.  
“Because you said Brother of the Wind without specifying which one and he is the only one in the vicinity. While the one you probably want was assigned out.” She hissed at the younger man, Kyo kept quiet knowing better than to start an argument with her.  

It was easy to see what prompted the above reaction, since the way the Entity behave seem to strongly reflect the way the ChunLi had behave while she was going through that Jiu Dao Nui phase. Or as ChunLi rather thought that it was Tianzai trying to make her behave like the Entity. This led ChunLi to speculate that Tianzai has no personality and seek only to emulate what was tried and tested.  

But then she wondered if the Entity’s resemblance to herself was intentional or otherwise. And her being dragged into all this. Whose doings was it anyway. Was it because she resembles the Entity. The clinking of metallic chains broke her train of thoughts as the Entity rises.  

Her ebony hair tied up and strung high and hanging like a pony tail, a few braids signal the length of her hair to be a little below the shoulder blades, little red clasps dotted her braids. The spider as it turns out is rather interesting looking little hair accessory that still captures Ryu’s attention as much as he hates it. She wore an odd little kimono of which the front hem ended at her knees while the back hem(no pun intended) ended near her ankles.  

And of course it is black in colour and decorated with blood red cherry blossom motifs. Her obi like belt seems to be made out of black scales with red outline. Bringing to ChunLi’s mind that the Entity makes a rather odd self-style Snow-Maiden of old folklore. But then again She was definitely no Snow-Maiden to begin with.  

ChunLi found it rather curious that the shackles She wore seem to be scale bracers that was somehow link with chains and even more amazing is that She was able to move without the chains hindering her. Which brought to mind a speculation that it was to bind her yet still allow her sufficient freedom, so why chain her in the first place.  

<  Wings…  > The thought came to ChunLi’s mind, The raven wings that her wards seem so concern with. That she did not see but attached to claws that clasp around her neck seems to be a leathery cape or rather the bat like wings which is similar to that of the earthy dragon. Is that a good sign at all?  
   

“No!”  Iwa’s voice broke ChunLi’s train of thoughts. Did Iwa just answer her question? She noted that her wards seem to be having some kind of one-way conversation with the odd Couple. Perhaps a bargain to her fate?  

“Are you crazy?!” Kumori almost yelled. The Entity placed a hand on her shoulder, She turn to Iwa and spoke wordlessly before reaching out to ruffle her hair an act that ChunLi knows that doesn’t sit well with her ward. Her ward swatted Entity’s hand away inviting a silent amused laugh.  

“Why? You made it our job. You know full well that you shouldn’t be without a vessel!” There was something about what Iwa said that made ChunLi think back about a something Geonitz told them. The Entity sigh and said something which seem to be the final word on the matter, Iwa seem to be resigned to the matter and pursued it no further.  

“That don’t mean I have to like it.”  
The entity gave her sad smile, this seems to strike another memory in ChunLi, her wards relationship with the Entity reminded her of her own relationship with her wards for some reason.  
   

And the Entity turn to them and walk or rather hovered an inch off the floor and walk over to them. Her gaze focused intensely upon Ryu who is still staring dumbly at the spider upon Her head. She stood before him with one hand on his cheek and smiled fondly at him.  

Ryu swallowed a scream down his throat to see the spider so close, he thought it moved. Did it moved? He thinks it did. Its moving!!! Its practically waving one thin leg at him!! Is that a black widow? It looks like a black widow to him. How did a black widow get that big.  

<<    You have grown stronger . Dear one.    >> A voice spoke in his mind. The spider spoke? Did the spider just speak? Why is it speaking to him!? What does it want?! Did the spider just sighed? Ryu watches as a transparent hand removes the spider and shoves it to a transparent sleeve. A rather warm transparent hand held his chin and pushes his jaw shut.  

<<   There.   >>  
The removal of the spider allows Ryu’s mind to clear. He took his eyes off Her hair only to stare into Her eyes. Deep black eyes that seems to draw his soul in, She made to close Her eyes to break the contact.  

<<  Do not do that.  >>  It was a warning.  

He found Her to be familiar, he remembered hearing her voice last night. And what are the odds that She resembles ChunLi? Did he meet Her before? Ryu thought so.  
   

Once again Her hand reaches up to his face once again as if she can’t get enough of him. Under normal circumstances he would have slapped other women’s hand away. But Her he didn’t… Why? He does not know. He could feel a very strong sense of energy from her hand. He knew he felt it before, he knew ChunLi felt it before as well. He glance at ChunLi but there wasn’t any expression upon her face.  
<<    Don’t think about when or where.  We made sure you do not.    >>  

<<     Beautiful and stronger. Much rests upon your shoulder but you have done well Dear Defender.    >>  and then she planted a kiss upon his forehead  
<<    We cannot risk killing you. But….    >> she whispered to him. A rather loud rumble interrupted and the room shook somewhat. She glance at her earthy companion and frowned somewhat while both Iwa and Kumori snicker away.  
<<   Oh hush. What is there to be jealous about? Dear one.    >>  
The dragon rumbles again while the two young women burst out laughing.  
<<    Oh hush!    >> She raise her hand and snapped her fingers. The duo’s laughter ended abruptly as she silenced their voices.  

Iwa signed something with her fingers and that caused Kyo snicker away  
“WHAT? I DON’T GET IT?” Haohmaru whispered to Zannah.  
“You’ll never would.” His silver hair friend smiled mysteriously trying hard not to laugh. While ChunLi wasn’t sure what the Iwa meant and saw that the young woman signed again.  

‘Whatever you do. Don’t interrupt Her!’ Her ward signed repeatedly  

Take Ryu back!!!!! 
The voice of Tianzai yells in her head. 
Take Ryu back before She takes his heart and soul for real!!! Will take him to prove She can!! Fight Her!!! 
IT screamed that ChunLi should stop her by accepting the power It gives freely. 
Sisters distract you for Her to take Ryu!!! Act! Fight! Now now now!!! Or Ryu be lost to her!! What? Afraid to take Ryu back now? Don’t want Ryu now? Want to offer Ryu as price to free Self from Chunny Whunny now? Willing to give Ryu up because of Self? See she not let you keep Ryu!!! Tianzai kept taunting her.  

<<    Silence!! How dare you take that which belongs to us!!   >> Chains clink as She turned on her heel to face ChunLi yet She hardly looked at her but behind her.  

Chunny now must fight Her!!! 
Tianzai started. It tells her. 
If Chunny doesn’t Chunny-Whunny would cease to be and Ryu would belong to Her. Self does not want Chunny to lose beloved Ryu. Self would make sure she wins, just take self’s aid.  

“Get out of my head!!!” ChunLi yelled as she grasps her head, she can’t even think now that Tianzai has become louder.  

IT would not release her.IT screeches.
IT worked too hard to get someone free Itself from Its rock prison, IT worked too hard in finding the right Godling to use. IT worked too hard in making sure that Godling be drawn to ChunLi. Self would never ever let her go. Self thinks that Chunny is foolish to exchange one devil for another.
IT then shows her on what terms She would give ChunLi.
Not good terms since She be using Chunny Whunny like puppet. 
IT snickers away.  

“You need me. Don’t you?” ChunLi growled not caring who heard her speak.  
<<    True. True.   >>  She offered ChunLi what her terms are.  

No! Lies!!! 
Tianzai shrieked. IT told her. 
She would not keep her bargain. Once She has Chunny Whunny She takes back promises and Chunny will not be free!!! 
IT kept yelling.  
<<    Hmmm….   >>  The Entity simply raise Her hand and glance at her fingernails.  

ChunLi thought she felt Tianzai trying to rip her apart while the Entity is just standing there. A push and a pull while her head felt like it was being kick around like a ball. A sudden lurch and an overwhelming sense of power rams her in the stomach disorientating her.  
   

When she gotten her bearings back she was shock to find herself sitting on the floor and looking at her own back. Ryu had grabbed her body preventing her movements, She could see herself screaming away at the Entity. Herself then went on to yelling at Ryu for being too blind to see that he had being seduce and that he is to let her go now and help her fight the Entity if he wants her back! ChunLi’s comrades made to move forward to help but her body somehow many to conjure up a barrier to prevent them.  

“Irritating isn’t it?” a quiet voice spoke from behind. ChunLi leapt to her feet and fell into her stance. The owner of the voice just chuckled and remains squatting, it seems that he is as transparent as She is. Rimururu was right he indeed has a rather nice voice.  

The ‘stone warrior’ rose to his full height and ran his fingers through his ebony hair. This made ChunLi looked around the room for the earthy dragon who was no where in sight. It was one thing to see him in stone and another thing altogether to see him in person. Uncanny was the only word to describe his resemblance. But then again it should be no surprise at all things considering.  

“No they can’t see me like they can’t see you. Don’t ask me why. My dear lady.” His brown eyes watching her rather fondly. Ignoring the fact that ChunLi was in battle stance he swaggered towards her and rather confidently put his arm around her shoulders and whispered into her left ear. ChunLi’s eyes widened somewhat while the ’stone warrior’ simply chuckled and removes his arm.  
   

Rimururu had started to sing, in hope that it might reign in Tianzai, but It laughs in ChunLi voice. Ryu kept telling ChunLi to fight Tianzai off, she rams her elbow into Ryu who still refuses to let go knowing she might end up hurting herself.  
   

ChunLi turned to the’stone warrior’ and sent him a line of thoughts. His eyes close for a moment in consideration and then reopen again.  
“Then you accept our terms then?” he asked her, smiling even wider when she nodded.  
He fold his arms across his chest and watches ChunLi runs towards her body and rams elbow first into her body only to be repel. Trying a few more times earn her the same results.  

ChunLi turned to the ‘stone warrior’ who was trying to hide a somewhat amused look on his face. He swaggered over once more putting his arm around her shoulders that made her wonder why she would allow such a gesture from him. Under normal circumstances she would have pounded a man into the ground for such impudence. He glances towards the Entity and then return his attention to ChunLi.  

“Let me teach you a little secret.” He then proceeded to whisper in her ear.  
“Really?” she asked, all he did was smiled and scratched an itch on the side of his nose.  

Looking back at Ryu, it seems that ChunLi’s body had free herself from his grip, Flipping him to the ground she aimed a finger at him, laughing as wispy strands of energy crackled at her finger. Holding Ryu hostage she laughs at the Entity’s incompetence and that She should be the one to fade away into the night and not herself. And if She does not agree dear Ryu’s role ends here and now and then she laughs once more.  

“Go! Now!!” the ‘stone warrior’ ordered, ChunLi ran once more towards her body remember what he said about a little shift in qi, a little chant and tons of willpower and rams elbow first into her body while he vanishes with smile upon his face.  
   

The disorientation soon passes as ChunLi found herself glancing down at Ryu who recognise the fact that she has control of her body. In the same second Tianzai howled at ChunLi. In the same second the earth behind the Entity took shape and the earthy dragon returns and from its mouth its fiery tongue shot out engulfing the little box that Tianzai was bound to.  

Tricksy Defender uses dirty tricks! Steals Chunny whunny away!!! 
IT screams in pain at the heat of the flame.  
ChunLi nearly buckle from the heat even though the flames never touch her. Tianzai refuses to let go of Its hold on ChunLi. It kept pulling and pulling attempting to cling to her soul as much as flames pulls It towards Its end.  

Will feel will touch, will taste will be seen and will be heard!! Self will not be denied by tricksy Defender!!!! 
ITscream and yelled. The longer IT holds onto ChunLi the higher the chance of IT becoming. IT will not let go of such a powerful vessel so easily.  

Why Chunny keeps fighting Self? Chunny will feel no pain if Chunny accepts Self. 
IT coos to her.
Chunny would still be since Chunny is needed to keep her body alive as will Ryu his. Self only wishes to ride their souls to have the world. Self will make sure Chunny be even more powerful than the ‘sisters’ are. Why stubborn Chunny refuse? Why not want power since Chunny is born to power?!  

ChunLi could feel the barrier that ‘stone warrior’ taught her to make, she could feel it expending slowly and steadily. But a lot depends on her will, she knows all too well what she stands to win and lose. The more she increases the barrier the more Tianzai clings onto her. The fire burns it as much as the link burns her, the strain of wielding the barrier intensified the pain. The moment her concentration waver slightly Tianzai wins just a little bit more hold.  

A familiar strength lends itself to her, the warmth of it was unmistakable. This is not just her battle but Ryu’s as well. For if she fail, he suffers with her. He didn’t even ask what terms she agree to, he just do what he is suppose to do.  

Such intense pain, such intense fire. The feeling of it soon overflows from her already filled mind in Ryu’s. He felt her pain as he trudged towards her and held her hand to assure her.  
   

Tianzai turns from screaming to laughing its soundless laugh. 
If self not be able to have these fine vessel then not even Her!!!! 
IT howls as ITs pours every ounce of energy into pulling the couple into ITs path of oblivion.
No matter how the others would loan their strength to couple it be no use no use now. Too late too late. Nooo!!! 
IT screamed in panic. 
Tricksy sister conjure up field of flowers!! No not this field. Away away, not the place of calm.  

There was a figure in the scene, a young woman that the Inner Circle called the Flower Girl or ‘she who makes great flora tea’. Rimururu used that as a guide. Her song started once more of the flowers, the fun that was had in the field flying kites and picking flowers, the lovely tea and the various warriors who enjoy taking a short break in that lovely little little place.   

And just that little bit more was too much as the fire consumes Tizanzai. But all ChunLi could remember was Tizanzai screaming, herself tumbling into Ryu’s arms and falling to the floor with him. She could hear the Entity laughing and the rumbling of the earthy dragon before darkness takes her………  
   
   

------------------------------------  
   
   

Epilogue  

Opening her eyes all ChunLi sees is the blue sky, a heavy weight rests upon her heart and she knows by the empty feeling that the menacing Tianzai was gone for good. She didn’t want to move that much as moving would only cause every bone in her body to ache.  

“Ryu.” She whispered. Where is he? Looking left and right all she sees is grass and flowers. She lifted her head a little more, looking a little surprise before smiling and letting herself lie down. Ryu was on top of her pinning her down, he has yet to wake.  

Where was she now? She glances around noting that that it’s a field of flowers as far as the eye can see. If there is mountain range to the east and a little hut by the stream where the Flower Girl lives. She would believe that she is only a day away from the borders of Shadowlaw. Once she reaches the Flower Girl’s hut she would definitely ask for some tea and some nice meat buns. Maybe spend a day or two to recover before going home.  

Why did her wards dump her here she has no idea, the least they could have done was bring them back home. She sigh a little telling herself that this is nothing to worry about since the worst is over. All she wants to do now is sleep when she wakes again then she shall plan on getting home. Closing her eyes she goes back to sleep. So tired.  
   

------------  
   

Bloody and ragged they dragged themselves through the window and climbed down the rope. Who would have thought that there be a trap every few steps in this old place. But still at the risk of losing their sanity over puzzles or limbs over traps they still made it in.  

“If I ever meet the one who made that trap of swords I’ll make her suffer in her own trap!” Legrene hissed glaring the long wounds on her arms.  
“You’re the one who wants that orb.” Urien said as he reaches the floor.  
“It looks like the one that little demon has on her sword!”  
“Hmm.. that might explain who set that trap and made sure you fell for it.” He studied his surroundings taking in the beauty of the chamber. Strange that the surrounding seems so dilapidated and yet here seems so well kept. All the better to make it seem abandon he figured.  

“Your nose is bleeding.” He reaches up to wipe the blood off.  
“Worry not. I only bleed when strong presence of power is nearby. All the easier to find power. You have the heart ready?”  
“I do. But will it work?” he could feel eyes watching the both of them.  
“Of course it will work. What are the odds that your brother’s heart qualifies as a yin-yang heart.”  
“She will come after us then?”  
“The book says She will. She’s drawn to him. All we need to do is to make sure She does not catch up to us until we have to break the seventh seal.”  
“Isn’t there an easier way to do this?”  
“There is. Unless you wish to track each one down. fight them and whoever else with them, break the unique seal each carries, take all seven come back here and break the bigger seal.”  
“Or you can break the bigger seal, use him to break the smaller seals. Come now. No rest for the wicked.”  

Together they move towards the dais and suddenly Urien grabbed Legrene, dropped low and rolled out of the way of a couple of blazing fireballs. Getting up they stood still for they heard the sound of hissing both ready their swords.  

“You know how to wield that blade?” he smirked  
“Unlike some women of my family, I do.” Legrene sounded bitter. In the silence they could hear the sound of cracking and popping. Small pieces of stone fell on to their head, out of bad habit Urien grabbed Legrene again and rolled leaping out of the way as a large salamander drops down on the spot where they were. Its skin seems to be made of part stone and part red and black skin.  

What more it wasn’t the only one as more came out of the flower beds and the two that were flanking the door. Tongues of flames flicked in and out of their mouths. Bits of stone dropping off their bodies to reveal living creatures.  

“Hmmph Giant lizards. Why am I not surprise?”  
“You expect dragons?” Legrene asked, with her hand she unleash a few balls of electricity towards the nearest salamander. It felt nothing and leap towards the duo, two more followed.  

“Yes. Unfortunately this chamber is only so big.” With his broadsword Urien batted the first away but the second got through slashing his leg with its claws. It got away before he could turn his sword upon it. The third one unleash a ball of flame upon Legrene who countered it with her own ball of fire. That allows the lizard to get it close enough to swat her off her feet. It leapt away from Urien’s sword but part of its hind leg was chopped off in the process. When the creature landed, blue sparks of energy work to regenerate the damaged limb.  

“Which one is he?”  
“That one!! The one with the fiery eyes!” Legrene yelled as the fiery-eyed creature led the other salamanders in a charge towards them. This is going to be a long day for them…….  
   
   

To be continued?
So ends Book One
 
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