It took the couple about half a day to travel from Summerlodge to the main city, They were slightly surprise to find a carriage waiting for them. Without delay the couple was ushered aboard and taken straight to the main palace.
On seeing the Crown Princess and her silent warrior arriving the guards snapped to attention immediately. It had being months since the couple had being away. Their return always calls for a celebration. The couple was then further ushered into a private garden.
The Oriental setting of the garden was carefully created, miniature waterfalls doted the area. Colourful Koi fish swimming in the lily and lotus filled the large pond. The couple walked over the small bridge built over the pond. A picture of serenity and perfection. Yet squirrels were allow to roamed the area raiding fruits from the trees and knocking birds nests out of the branches.
The garden was in bloom and the air was refreshing with the whiff of flowers floating around. Within this place of beauty was a sense of pure evil. It felt strong in this place of purity. And all the aura of evil came from the man in the robe.
Lord Vega (M Bison) ruler of the Shadowlaw Empire put down his glass of wine on seeing his guests. He has not seen them for almost a year and had invited them here as soon as he knew they had return.
The aura of evil seems to soften much on seeing ChunLi, his favorite child among many, his pride and joy, the gem of the empire and most importantly the only child of his to inherit his Psycho Power. She would have inherited the empire as well if she had not chose a to lead life away from the court politics.
Li! My daughter. Welcome back! Vega said as ChunLi hugged him.
I miss you too Daddy. She said..
Ryu! My good son-in-law! He said in a controlled tone as he patted Ryu on the back. The tension was strong between the two men, years ago they were on opposing sides but she was the one who sort of made peace between them. Whether they like it or not, she is who she is.
< Great. That still remains. Guess the tension is too strong to be mellowed down. I dont really want to see them both killed each other. > ChunLi thought as she eyed the two men who seem ready to bite off each others head. They held each others gaze in contempt, throwing a challenge to the other.
Ahem! ChunLi coughed drawing the attention to her. The two were slightly embarrassed to be caught at it again.
You wanted to see me? she asked
Yes and Rose wanted to speak to you as well. Ill bring you to her.
Is she gloating over my coming misfortune then?
Not that I am aware of. Do try to be nice to her.
Following Vega they walked through another path that leads to another garden, this one was different from the other. This garden lets a large variety of roses were left to grow wildly, those who thread on this path must stay in the center or risk being scratch by the thorns as the rose bushes seem to threatened to overtake the path. Nearing the center of this garden the scent of roses became overwhelmingly strong. There was a feeling that someone was watching them.
AAHHcchooo! ChunLi sneezed.
You okay? Ryu asked with concern.
Yeah Hate this place. ChunLi mumbled as they stood outside the door that had rose motifs carved upon them. Vega knocked upon the door signaling their arrival.
Ill see you dining hall later then? ChunLi asked, pecking her husband on the cheek. Ryu answered with a smile.
Li.. She wishes to speak to you alone. Please do give me some face value if you do not wish to show her respect. His rested his hand on ChunLi shoulders.
Okay .Ill try . She mumbled as she slipped into the room. While Vega and Ryu took another path that led to the kitchen.
< At least she knew better than to pit my father against me. > She thought as the door closed behind her. She couldnt get along well with her fathers favorite mistress. That was another reason for staying away from the palace. Their believes have always clashed, what does the woman wants with her now?
The scent of roses was overwhelmingly strong in here. Seeing the purple hair woman, ChunLi automatically size her up. She knew that they both held special places in her fathers heart and their words hold weight. ChunLi wondered whom would her father side if ever a fight between the two arise. She passed through the numerous veils to the center of the room.
I am honored by your presence, Princess. Rose spoke, breaking eye contact first.
I assure you that you are not going insane. As if answering ChunLis questions. Seeing that ChunLi was a little skeptical.
Do tell. ChunLi said, eyeing Rose as the older woman got up.
You have two roads to take. Even though one looks bleaker than the other. Handing her a cup of tea.
You need to face your decision not here but in Edo. Keeping in mind that whatever your decision be there will be betrayal.
And if I choose not to go? ChunLi sipped her tea
< Bleah! What with this woman and roses? Why cant she drink natural tea? > ChunLi thought trying not to show her dislike on her face.
Then you are likely to be taken against your will.
And then the dreams?
A warning .one of two paths.
The wrong decision? ChunLi put down the cup.
Chaos . Rose said as she took ChunLis cup, peering at the tealeaves within.
< As good as going back to square one. > ChunLi got up preparing to leave. She had a feeling that Rose was not giving her the full picture, but that does not matter for she knew who else could answer her question.
Leaving the rose scented chamber ChunLi headed down the path towards the kitchen, instincts made her step aside as a meat chopper flew passed her embedding itself on the floor. Ryu ran by carrying a roast turkey. He brakes on seeing her
Hi Li! Explain to you later. Bye Li. He picked up his speed again
COME BACK HERE YOU LITTLE THIEF!!!! a voice roared. A brown hair man slightly taller than Ryu stopped in front of ChunLi, panting heavily.
Oh. Xiao Li(Little Li). Youve return. That husband of yours is still has yet to change. He said straightening up.
Impatient little pondscum couldnt wait till the feast tonight. Be sure to enjoy yourself tonight. His green eyes beaming with pride
I will. Uncle Jack. She smiled.
Ill see you later then. Jack rushed down the path that Ryu had taken. Warrior or no warrior nobody messes with the Tiger of the kitchen and gets away with it. ChunLi shrugs as she heard the din on the side and continue to walk on. Passing the kitchen door, the aroma of the roast chicken lured her in. She looked left and right and scooted out of the kitchen with two chicken drumsticks.
ChunLi strolled down the garden path that would lead to her chamber, sitting down by a stone bench to relish her prize.
Youre no better than your husband. A voice said.
And youre no better than us. ChunLi answered as she headed towards a statue of seven creatures in a circle.
We cant resist that meatloaf. Another voice added. ChunLi looked up, Her wards were hiding up in the tall tree. They were following her example. ChunLi slapped her forehead.
At least we were not as ambitious as Ryu gor to take a whole turkey in front of Jack. The little things hell let you get off with it. The big things and hell kill you for sure. A third voice added.
ChunLi smiled as she unsheathed her sword. A slim metallic blue double-edge blade, a ring of spikes separates the blade and the hilt of royal blue colour. There are some engravings on the blade. ChunLi used the tip of the blade and began etching on the sand patch near the statue. The leaves whispered as the wind blows. The rune on the sand began to glow upon completion.
Doh! There we go again. One of them said.
Whos going down?
What?!! Me again?!
She drew your sign.
GWWAAAA!!! One of ChunLis wards yelled as she fell unceremoniously from the tree when her companions shoved her off the tree.
Shorter than ChunLi by a head, she wore an attire almost similar to ChunLi except for the fact that her clothes was like a chain mail made of grayish blue scales. A trenchcoat like robe covered that attire. A sword with a bluish orb on the pommel. Its crossguard were two dragon heads holding a pearl in it mouth.
She brushes one gloved hand over her shoulder length bob to straighten it, though it doesnt makes much of a difference. A grayish blue headband with the same type of scales kept her fringe from her eyes.
Why. ChunLi asked.
The time of this Gathering happens in the year when Darkness of Evil is at its peak.
The Gathering is the time of truth.
Five different elements.
Three paths be your choice. None of them easy for a sacrifice is made by decision.
A beginning, a middle and an end. Everything is a cycle. Or did she neglect to tell you.
I dont need your snappy remarks. Iwa. That was why I dont trust her. Where? ChunLi continued.
Edo .Here? China. See what I meant? Okay last question.
ChunLi turned silent as she considers what she needs to ask. So many questions but only few were important.
Whether you like it or not, your Dragonlord himself, Ryu gor(brother Ryu). Iwa answered watching the runes light fade.
It be one heck of trip. Li Jie(sister Li). Iwa said, looking up the tree where she fell from, her companions were gone by now.
Would you like to come?
Cant. The Gathering remember? You got Ryu gor to keep you company. I have to go. Further preparation for the Gathering. Iwa left as ChunLi headed into her chamber.
A little while later when ChunLi washed up and dressed for tonights feast. Wearing a light silk straight gown with a silk dress coat which she belted up. Her sword hidden under the coat.
Ryu came into their chambers, slightly bruised and a light cut on his left cheek. ChunLi offered him the other drumstick that she had being saving for. She dabbed the cut with some ointment.
Jack threw a fruit paring knife at me.
Serves you right for being greedy. Come on wash up. You could eat all you want later. ChunLi watched him heading off the bathroom while she looked through the closet.
Some time later
My my. you should dress like this more often. Living up to your title indeed. ChunLi said as she looked at Ryu in attire. Black boots, a white jacket and pants top off with a cape that made him look rather regal (Think Ryu in Vegas military attire). The black broadsword strapped to his side. Together they left for the feast.