The sun shines brightly in the cloudless sky, the moon had long since move on when the eclipse ended. The fight was long over with most of the injured taken back to the main palace to recuperate from their injuries. The two wards of ChunLi that were involved in the fight had return to Gathering of Power with time to spare. The so-called Gathering of Power would be almost complete.
Zannah sat under a tree as she drinks from a waterpouch, she alone chose not to go back to the palace since she believes that her injuries were not that bad. There were still some loose ends to tie.
She smirks as she picks the tablet of colored stones, a little piece of rock that is part of a problem. To destroy it, would be good and bad at the same time. Still she made a mental note to bring the piece of tablet back to where it really belong for safekeeping since it’s purpose for now is already done.
Zannah winced as she got up, she realised that she wasn’t as invincible as she thought she was. Looking at the smoke coming out from Witches’ Grove she knows that by the time she gets there the ceremony would have ended.
Gingerly she limps away knowing that the pain won’t be there for long, a little pain would always serve to humble her and remind her that she’s not as immortal or invincible as some people often crack her up to be.
When the silver hair woman was out of sight two figures came out of hiding, the tall silver hair man knelt down the body of the headless Gill while the woman with the red tinted hair headed over to where the heart was impaled.
"You really had no intention of helping him." Legrene asked when she return with Gill’s heart in a crystal box. No point in wasting a perfectly good heart of a almost godling.
"And helping him would achieve what? And what about you? You didn’t help him either." Paying his respects to his late brother Urien moves to the small crater where ChunLi stood when the explosion of qi occurred.
"He didn’t pay me enough. Two bags of gold is only worth the ceremony. Two more bags of gold would guarantee him godhood. But this is the price he has to pay for being so stingy." Legrene shrugged.
Carefully he dusted off the dirt at ground zero to reveal a crystal about the size of child fist. Within the crystal coloured dust seems to dance and swirl around, the object seems like a relative of the orb on Iwa’s sword.
"Perfect isn’t it." Urien mused as he unearths the strange crystal.
"I never thought it even exists."
"It does, but you need to know where and when to look. The formation of the crystal is the hard part since it is power crystallize."
Keeping the crystal in the velvet pouch the pair leaves without a second glance behind.
Oddly glowing embers of blue, red and green crackles in the ground as the seven women moves out of the fire pit. Their job is done and all would be well until the next ten years, five of them using large leaves from some banana trees erase the markings in the sand while two younger ones head over to the spit where a large deer was grilling.
The two began cutting down portions and handing it to the others when they came over to join them. In union they all look towards the only path that leads to grove.
"Deer meat?" they asked as Zannah came in.
"Much thanks." She joins them for a meal.
"How’s are the others." Kumori asks.
"They’ll heal. Can I borrow them later?" Zannah indicated Kumori and Iwa.
"Sure." Came the answers from the others. Since it has always being after the Gathering that all seven of them would go back to their own lives.
A little while later the three women reaches the site of ChunLi’s qi explosion, Iwa and Kumori squatted down and poke at the pieces of strange metals. By now this metal is as good as useless but with the right sacrifice it could be restore to its original glory.
The trio shuddered at the thought. Kumori brought out a pouch that she had borrowed from one of the Guardians, the rune on the white bag was embroidered with a single green thread. Carefully Iwa put the nine fragments of the sword inside and tightened the strings, tossing it to Zannah to for safekeeping.
With that done they headed to another place, the black cliffs that faces the sea that sends endless wave upon wave crashing against the cliff face.
"Tell me again why we’re going in this way?" Iwa asked as she secured the ropes around her waist, being in the Gathering had done a lot to heal her injuries and that of Kumori.
"Because he shut the entrance via waterfall. That would mean the traps are set." Zannah explains, checking the ropes around the large tree.
"And the way in via the palace?" Kumori asked.
"Oh yeah." Kumori suddenly remember something.
"That would defeat the purpose." The three said together. Shrugging off the question of to what is the purpose that they were talking about.
A while later they were dangling dangerously on the cliff face, the jagged rocks below them spell death if the powerful crash of the waves don’t dash them to pieces if they fall. They slow a moment as the wind tries to blast them away.
<< Almost there. >> Zannah sent.
Climbing down further them came across a ledge which leads inwards. Tying their rope vines to a large stone spike, the trio lighted a torch and follow the path deeper into the darkness.
After various twists and turns without much happenings the trio reach the entrance to a larger chamber, entering it they found various glowing baubles, precious stones, gleaming swords and shields heap in a few piles.
"Dragon’s hoard this here be." Zannah started as she walks through the path flank by treasure troves.
"Precious pearls and glowing stones" Iwa added with a shrug.
"Gem of Dracon this be not." Kumori ended with the third line. Three lines that could be something yet nothing at all.
At the end of the path they entered the lair that held a dim red glow. There they found the couple.
"So you come to claim glory in slaying my Li and claiming coup." Ryu was heard saying.
Ryu is still the red rim-white scales dragon, his white scales were dyed red by the red glow of wispy strands of energy that emanates from ChunLi’s still form. He didn’t even look up at them, it was like he know they can’t defeat him. Even if they can he don’t intend to let them have it easy.
A glow from the torch casting twisted shadows of the twin horns from his white mane head on the walls. His wings were folded and he lies curl around ChunLi. Providing however scant comfort he could give her.
<< He’s a five crest in seven fire too. >> Kumori said to Iwa.
<< Yeah, they both are. >> she acknowledge her comrade’s comments on Ryu’s tail.
<< The nine of us are sort of related? >>
<< I think so. >>
"There is a way to help Li." Zannah started.
"A rather permanent solution akin to that of Nakaruru?" Ryu nuzzled ChunLi once more.
"That would defeat the purpose."
Irritation shows in his dark brown eyes at the word ‘Purpose’. The trio seems to know that there is something but had skirted away at defining this questionable ‘Purpose’.
As much as he tries to hide they could see a pained look in his eyes. They knew he was hiding more then just the pain of seeing ChunLi waste away, there was a deeper reason and the trio more or less knows what it was.
"How long do you intend to remain like this?" Zannah asks
"As long as need be."
"You’ll know the risk of remaining in this form for this sole purpose?" Iwa added
"My life is worth nothing if I fail to bring her back."
"How much of her pain can you take."
"As much as I could to ease Li." He snorted
"Would that even help her?"
"If you both die this way. You’ll end up as pawns instead."
"We’ll return to tell you more of what we know. Since you have no interest to listen now."
"Leave then. I have no interest."
"Baby Dragon. You are foolish at times." Zannah sighs.
Ryu watches the trio leaves, he turns his gaze towards ChunLi. Still no sign, even though only in this form he could take away part of her pain but he still have no idea how to bring her back.
"I promise to you. Li. I promised you then, and I’ll keep that promise even now."
Looking up Ryu shudders a moment and his white scales turn dull the same moment ChunLi bursts into a bout of fits. He roars his frustration and concentrates harder on taking away more of her pain.
Digging into every memory he has on that particular lesson that he remembers form One Eye. The amount of concentration require for ChunLi’s pain is immense for the link between the dark spirit and host is not broken only inconvenienced by the missing conduit which is the sword. Without it, the dark spirit would be nearly impossible to exorcise.
Even in pain only his tail thrashes about violently, he can’t afford to let ChunLi suffer more pain while he was trying to do what he could take that pain away from her. He hisses as a loud ‘Crack’ was heard. A few more loud cracking sounds before it stops as suddenly as it had began. The healthy white color returns to his shimmering white with red rim scales.
He lowers his head until he was facing ChunLi, he noted that her fits had stop and she had fallen back into that deep almost uneasy sleep. He didn’t like that but there was nothing he could do.
His long neck carries his head towards his left flank, a large patch of scales about one arm’s length in diameter had cracked and fell off. Instead of a normal metallic white sheen the fallen scales were dull, unnatural but then that he was prepared to expect.
The flesh was reddish and raw with pain. But then his pain is nothing compares to what ChunLi would have felt if he had not decided on this course of action.
Quietly he checks on ChunLi again, satisfied he lowers his head beside and closes his eyes. Who knows how long this will keep up, but as long as there is a way he intends to risk all. For now all he can do is rest, gain his strength and wait for the trio to come up with a satisfactory solution.
"I won’t lose you. Li. I promise."