Zero
Chapter 4
The Village  
 

It seems like a usual day down in the village. But Ken wondered if ChunLi was remotely aware of the jealous looks various girls shot at her. Then again how often do you find some foreign girl who waltz into town and cozy up to the good-looking mountain boy who is known to be rather shy of the courting of the village girls. Not only did he show no defense against this foreign girl but also he seems quite comfortable to be with her. Something none of them had ever achieved.  

Ken could think of a few words that might come to the minds of those girls but none remotely polite. ChunLi attracted her fair share of looks from various young men as well. Then again it was to be expected when the attire she wore was screaming ‘Look at me!!’. Of course even without that outfit she could still charm a bird down a tree, pluck its feathers and grill it for lunch without working up a sweat.  
<   Hmmm… roast pigeon..  Hadn’t had that since I last visited Hong Kong..   > The thought came to mind. If Ryu was that bird he’ll probably be bones by now.  

Half the time Ken was expecting trouble, either from girls carrying brooms wanting to chase ChunLi out of town or young men eager receive a bashing from Ryu just for the attention of a pretty foreign girl. It would not be much of a practice for Mr The-fight-is-all but its always educating to watch Ryu at work. He was sure that his buddy wouldn’t mind showing off for his little girlfriend either.  
  

“What about you, young master Ken. Would you like to know your destiny.” A sultry voice crooned at him stopping him in his tracks. Ken answered with a violent sneeze that sent a half-eaten red bean motchi shooting across the sandy path and tumbling past a pair of red high heel shoes.  

On recovering himself Ken realised that they had being waylaid outside a fortuneteller’s shop. Odd thing though was that he didn’t realise that there had been such a shop here before. Could this be one of those fly-by-night shops that mushroom up at night and vanish a few days later?  

His brother and his cute little girlfriend (Ryu can deny it all he wants but Ken will still refer to ChunLi as Ryu’s cute little girlfriend much to his embarrassment and ChunLi’s secret delight) had stop in their tracks when the fortune teller approach them.  

“My destiny is what I make with my own two hands.” Ken smile back though a little annoyed.  
“Are you sure you do not wish to give it a try? Little elder missy and our dear darling boy has agreed to try.” Violet eyes dreamily watch him as ChunLi dragged Ryu into the tent.  

Something about the woman’s tone of voice and strange familiarity with his friends had sent alarm bells ringing within his head. He was warned of this woman and he let his friends walk right into her shop?  

“I doubt.” Ken started “ That I would appreciate some two-bit circus act telling what I should eat for lunch or how to run my life.” Ken smirked, noticing she was taken aback by his sarcasm although she recovered quickly.  

“Very well then, young master Ken. I shall attend to your friends.” Her husky voice faded into the tent.  
  

-------  
  

Coolly Rose led ChunLi into another heavily veiled chamber, leaving Ryu to wait in the similarly veiled antechamber. She watches as the girl takes in her surroundings before offering her a cup of tea. Much to the older woman’s annoyance the girl sneezed at the scent of her roses. It made her wonder how that Thing had conditioned so many people except for him to react this way to her mere presence.  

ChunLi sipped her tea and immediately put it down when Rose unveil her crystal ball. Rose took a glance at the pattern of the tealeaves before returning her attention to ChunLi. Her violet eyes gaze deeply into the eager brown eyes of the girl.  
  

“Happy 16th birthday little missy.” Rose surprised her.  
“It is no surprise that you shine most brightly today. You have a rather interesting life ahead of you, my dear child.”  
“To have quite a few young men so interested in you.” Rose saw ChunLi blushing as she realised the older woman had caught her stealing a glance towards the antechamber  

“Such troublesome young men.” She tsked  
“The young men who flutter around you…. He has to be strong. Else your strength will sweep him away. No weakling could survive around a child of power like yourself.”  
“Although. Your heart has already settle on the one. You should leave him to his training though. Star-crossed lovers hurt each other the most deeply ” Violet eyes continue to mesmerize ChunLi further, the incenses adding a dreamy feel to the place. Hypnotic.  

“You should leave him. The two of you together would only bring you harm.” Rose whispered.  
“Such a young man who leaves you alone to further his training. What kind of a future is it for a young lady like you to be drag around the world? What kind of a future is it? To have the Implication constantly looming over you? Knowing you must not bear him a child whether in or out of wedlock? For when you do disaster will follow. Will you be willing to lead such a life? Will you be able to bear the consequences of bringing about the Implication that brings doom to us all?”  

“Forget your childhood fantasy, Leave him and choose the one you left waiting at home. That one might not amount to much but at least you will still have your life and our loved ones will still be alive. And ordinary life without all that fighting. Forget him.”  

A metallic tinkle distracted Rose, ChunLi is still under her spell but there is someone else in the room. She thought she saw a shimmer of blue from the corner of her eye. That Thing had arrived but it did all it did was watch.  

The room was cool enough yet perspiration builds upon her brow as unease gnaws at her, a feeling she can’t quite place. She glared at the shadowy thing for answers but it just shrug and denied responsibility with a huge toothy grin. Leaving her seat Rose lit another stick of incense in hope of clearing the odd feeling she had.  

She gasped when her attention returns to the spellbound ChunLi. Looming behind the girl is a menacing presence. A twisted ghostly image that resembles the waiting boy. Burning red eyes looks up and glare at her, freezing her in her tracks. Rose realised that she was too late for he had already gotten to the girl and marked her. The fire in those eyes hit her with a series of visions, again her intervention had change another path. ChunLi sneezed breaking the hypnotic spell that Rose had on her. Burning red eyes faded as well.  
  

“Is there something wrong?” ChunLi asked, scratching the side of her nose. Some about the scent irritated her. And there was this weird look on the fortuneteller’s face that worried her. It could mean that the fortuneteller seen something bad in her life.  

“Burning red eyes…” Rose whispered to herself and look to the shadowy creature for answers, it answered with a shrug yet the smile on its face signifies it knows something. She took a sip of tea to calm her nerves  

“Burning red eyes?” ChunLi repeated wondering what it meant.  
“Beware his burning red eyes. Go back to Hong Kong! There is nothing for you here. Leave. I will not charge you.” Rose mumbled as a puzzled ChunLi made her way out.  
  

“What’s wrong?” Ryu stood up as soon as he saw ChunLi.  
“Huh? She seems freak out by something and started mumbling away.”  
“She should well be. A two-bit carnival trick like her couldn’t see beyond her nose.” Ken put an arm around ChunLi’s shoulder.  
“Come on let’s get you some sunlight. No sense in waiting for someone to tell us what to eat for the coming Thursday.”  

Ken ushered ChunLi out of the shop. By the time he returned for Ryu, the fluttering of lavender veils and a series of violent sneezing told him that Rose had already gotten to Ryu.  
  

“Dear boy. Shouldn’t you be training?” Violet eyes distracting Ryu from his train of thoughts. Ryu took the seat that was offered to him.  
“So much trouble for one so young. So many paths so many possibilities. Such great pontential. The lives of so many in the hands of a frightened boy.” She gently stroked his puzzled face. Like the girl, she manages to fascinate the boy as well.  
“Send her back and resume your training. Otherwise you’ll put her life in danger.” A sense of urgency sounded in her voice.  

“Resist her charms, forget her. Your training is more important. Your darkness is winning but you must not give up. To accept it is to lose yourself and yet lose yourself you must.” With her hand she lowered his eyelids, letting the incense relax him. She does not know if she is strong enough to seal Burning red eyes but she must try. Even for a little while longer is better than having him rampage here and now.  

“He taunts you to give in, but you are stronger than that. You have to be. You must never become him or she will be your first victim, then there is no stopping you. For both your sake, stay away from her. The two of you have no future together.” Rose ignored the fact that the shadowy thing was shaking its head in disagreement of what she said. But it did not stop her.  

With both hands holding his head she let wispy strands of her qi caress him, weaving itself about him. The boy started to trembled as he clenches his fists.  
“Fight him not me!.” She hissed.  

His eyes shot open, burning red eyes glare right into hers, his clenched left fist reaches up and clutches her neck while his right hand tries to pry it away. A series of visions flooded her mind making things worse off then before.  

A glint of blue scale from the shadows and her guest reacted, with a sigh it shot across the room enveloping Burning red eyes with its darkness stunning him as tendrils of blue qi weave itself about him silencing his screams. He lost his grip on Rose and slump into the chair. Releasing the boy it headed over to Rose to check on her.  
  

“Thank you Geotao.” Rose mumbled grudingly.  
“As much as I would like him to throttle you. It defeats the purpose. I hope you’re happy now. What are you thinking? Taking him on when you should be recovering.” The creature hissed, now checking on the unconscious boy.  

“You of all people should know full well that the children have no future together! Their union would bring the entire Jiang Hu (martial-arts world) down to its knees!”  
“So say you. Half truths all. The boy will follow her. And you are already deep in the currents they create.” A clawed finger materialized in mid air and shook itself at her.  
“Not if I can change his mind.”  
“And deliver him into the hands of the then insane Mr Lotus-Bud-hair. And that’s a better alternative, how?”  

“If he goes to Hong Kong, Your master will die and so will she!”  
“All thanks to your meddling. Days like this I wish I have a host to beat some sense into you. I think you know by now that burning red eyes will not be held back for long.”  
“I need more training.”  
“You can only delay him for so long --” The shadowy thing known as Geotao retreated when Ryu stirred.  

Awkward silence made Rose wonder how much the boy remembers. She smiled at him instead.  
“You have great potential, my dear boy. You should be training instead of spending so much time with a charming young girl. If you ever see him again don’t lose yourself ever. Otherwise she will be your first victim. Take care dear one. I will not charge you.” Rose smiled as the confused Ryu headed out of the room.  

What she said and a strange feeling was the source of his confusion, he could feel Burning red eyes’ distrust where that woman was concern. But what worried him was what she had said about ChunLi.  

“What?! She’s not charging you too?” Ken’s voice distracted him,  
“You okay? Something she said bother you?” ChunLi asked. Ryu just smiled and shook his head.  
“Come on. Let’s go before she changes her mind and charges us a high price.” Ken slung his arms over the shoulders of the quiet duo and practically dragged them along.  
“What will it be? My arm and Ryu’s leg? A lock of hair so very fair? Your first born child? A healthy young man to serve her? CL’s weight in gold? Or a certain gold ring with creepy writings? Eeee Heee heeee.” Ken cackled as they made their way far from the shop. 

 
Main
Archives
Back
Next