Chapter 29Guest Quarters, Shadowlaw Main palace.
The guest quarters are surrounded by the landscape gardening just like the other quarters of the Palace. Here the companions of Ryu and ChunLi rest in recuperation until they decided on a course to take. From the outcome of the battle it was clear that Charlotte and Shizumaru would not be continuing the journey with the main group any further.
Hate sitting around with nothing to do.
Deal with it. At least youre not dead. Haohmaru offered her a pouch of wine.
So what can we do? Shizumaru limps towards them.
For now. To convince Ryu that there is a way to help ChunLi. Zannah came in with Iwa and Kumori.
Isnt it clear by now that we should kill her now that she is vulnerable. Nakaruru looks up after staring at the miniature waterfall. The others all turn to look at her with that same old answer look.
Killing her would serve no purpose. A natural death would be the same as killing her. No good to anyone at all. Zannah ignored the comment.
If Li Jies death would solve anything, the notion would had been carried out instead of waiting for you to voice it. Kumori added.
And why do you want to keep the demoness alive? Nakaruru asked with contempt in her voice.
And why do you want her dead so much Zannah turn to Nakaruru, staring fiercely at the younger woman with her cold blue eyes.
Something within Nakaruru click, something about this tall silver hair warrior reminded her of a few tales she heard as a child. Something about someone fighting alongside a bunch of demonic warriors.
But in Nakarurus point of view this woman could not be the same woman, for that battle happened a thousand years ago or so as Michiko had said. Unless this woman is a descendent or another woman in her likeness, trained to take over that warriors place.
But if this Zannah is who Nakaruru thought she was, would that not make her an immortal? And if she is who she is, the demons are real as well. That look on Nakaruru betrayed her to ask a thousand questions of who, what and why.
So what if I am who you think I am. That is not what matters. What matters is that if we kill her we lose both of them to that dark spirit within her. What matters is that if we dont get Ryu to cooperate with us, we wont be able to help ChunLi. And if we are unable help ChunLi, who knows how long her will can confine that that dark spirit.
But how do we help? Rimururu asks
Ah. Iwa raises one finger as if someone had finally asks the right question.
A place we have to take the couple to. Kumori answered
At least we think that someone there might be able to help.
Although who knows what goes on in her mind.
Since that Tianzai is broken it is near impossible to get that dark spirit out of Li Jie. Iwa continues.
But then if she wants everybody to suffer theres not much we all can do.
I thought there was a way to bribe her.
I thought so too.
Maybe we can. Zannah seems to be the only one who understands what the two women were talking about.
Then if this person is so powerful then why didnt you mention that in the first place? Galford was puzzled.
Nobody asks the right questions. Iwa shrugs.
And that place would be?
Cant really tell you where exactly it is can we. Iwa grinned
First we still have to convince Ryu. Kumori added.
Lets go back then. Zannah ushers the two younger women away
Can we go via the palaces secret tunnel then?
If he has not set the traps along that tunnel. Zannah told in a matter of fact way.
Watching the trio go Nakaruru had another thought. The two women with that silver hair witch seems to know more then they were willing to tell or is that a habit of the people around here? In fact there is something strange about the trio.
Then again as Nakaruru thinks more about it. If this Zannah is indeed that silver hair warrior, then there is a possibility that the demons she fought alongside are indeed real and still are around in another guise. What could their agenda be to this? Could they be swapping one demon for another? Who knows. Who knows. All Nakaruru knows that she might be the only one who sees things for what they are here.
In dim light of the cave Ryu remains curl around ChunLis still form, he ignores the bouts of pain that gnaws away at him. He ignores the dull and cracked scales that littered the ground, what once had a metallic white sheen lies dull and unnatural on the cave floor. He ignores the reddish flesh on his left flank.
The pain that he tries to prevent ChunLi from suffering is now eating him away. He knows this is not a solution but it is one that he knows had to attempt until he finds a solution.
Quietly he reaches into ChunLis mind in an attempt to find her but all he found was an empty chaos in the shell where once was someone he held dear. He searches for her qi signature but found a door blocking him from reaching further. He sighs and returns to thinking.
What he knows was that a lot depends on whether ChunLi is willing to fight this off and return to him. There was nothing much he could do except to wait and to call out to her to reach out. He lowers his head to floor and closes his eyes hating the feeling of helplessness.
But one thing distracts him from his depression, the sound of water dripping in the northern area of the cave. Ryu open his eyes and shifted his gaze to the northern entrance. Trespassers had came in from the waterfall cave. The sound of dripping water is an indication that whoever it was had triggered a few of the traps along the tunnels.
He watches in silence as a group of four enters. Two males and two females, from what he could see is that there is a pair of warriors, a young mage girl and a wolf boy. The male warrior seems to be slightly burnt and seemingly bruised.
A clear indication that he was likely to be the one who triggers both the flame trap and rockslide. While the mage girl was wet from head to toe. What amuses Ryu was that this quartet had decided follow the cave through, of course they had to, what with the entrance shut the only way out was via the cliff face.
Okay so here we are. The woman said
The sword should be around here somewhere. The mage girl said
Hey guys! Come here. The man calls out to his companions. They came towards the raised platform where Ryu and ChunLi were.
He dead yet? The wolf boy asks.
No. Could be sleeping but shes beautiful. The man reaches out towards ChunLi but the woman pulls him back.
Owww!!!! The man yelp in pain
Rule number one. Dont ever touch anything belonging to a dragon until its dead or until permission is given.
Yes Keera. The man rubs his ear.
Ryu rears his head causing the quartet to stumble off the raised platform.
See what youve done. Now we probably have to fight and all. Keera brings her sword out and stood at ready as the others gather beside her in readiness. The mage girl took a step forward and started to speak.
Please. We meant her no harm. All we seek is the Sword of Dragonbone.
Heroes, Kings and mighty mages come and go by their own might. What use is a lifeless icon? Ryu lowers his head, speaking eye to eye with the girl.
We know. But still having an icon is as good a motivation as any. The man came forward once more.
In irritation, one swish of Ryus tail sends the man flying across the room into a pile of treasure, shields, armor and the occasional skeleton.
Shayman! The wolf boy exclaimed and runs over.
You must forgive my brother. Dragonlord, he is still new to this hero business.
Uh which is the sword? Shayman got up he saw a large boulder in which many swords were stuck within. Some plain, some elaborate and some weird looking.
Which do you think. Ryu ask them back in irritation.
A test huh. Lets see then. Shayman wanders around the boulder then clambers up.
This one. He attempts to pull the silver bony handle of the sword stuck at the top of boulder. The moment he pull the sword out, Shayman lost his balance and fell off the boulder.
As you see this is the apprentice that Im stuck with. Keera shrug as Shayman limps forward.
If youre done. Leave. Ryu said flatly, he has enough problems of his own without a bunch of adventurers making it worse.
Yeah but the waterfall entrance was shut by some boulder. Wolf boy said
Nearly kill me though. Shayman was staring at ChunLi once more.
You gonna eat her? Shayman asked pointing ChunLi
Why do you ask. Ryu narrows his eyes and lowers his head to stare straight into Shaymans eyes. For some reason he was starting to dislike this warrior.
If you are. Im gonna have to kill you.
Ryu drew his head back a little and roars into Shaymans face, the man could only cover his ears. He didnt notice Ryus tail whipping towards, the fiery crest slams into Shayman sending him flying into the eastern chamber that would lead to the cliff face.
LEAVE!!!!!! He roars, this irritation stems from absorbing the painful fits to which ChunLi would have felt. The remaining three scurries out the direction where Shayman is.
Ryu realizes that this time the pain was more intense, he wonders if ChunLi was losing and he hopes she was not. To lose her would be terrible indeed. He let loose another roar and his tail trashes about smashing a few boulders and a few suits of amour.
He wished he knew what was happening to ChunLi. He wished he knew what to do, he wish he could help her somehow. But then if this pain happens because of some battle that ChunLi was fighting within in her self, then whatever and however painful it would be hell take it all.
Moments later the bouts of pain subsided, Ryu was panting by now, his tongue lolling out of the side of his mouth, no noticeable change in ChunLi. Ryu raises his head and screams in an inhuman voice fill with much anguish. To lose his mate would be terrible indeed, but if he the Dragonlord is unable to save the one he holds dear, what use then is all this power.
<< Youre still as beautiful as the first time I saw you. >> A beautifully familiar presence fills his mind.
Li!! He calls out.
<< Who were they? >> A hint of curiosity in her presence.
I have no idea. He had a feeling that she was hiding something from him.
<< I should be the one in pain. Not you
.. >> sorrow fills the space in Ryus mind.
Then let me share that pain with you.
<< The physical one, yes. But the mental one hurts me even more so. Why didnt you kill me. Could have spared everybody the trouble
I will not lose you. That I promise you. There is a way. There will be a way!
<< So what if there is. I cant move. Im trap here in this shell. >>
I will do what I can to free you. Together we can fight it off like we did in all those battles through the years.
<< Im tired
I dont know how long I can hold my sanity. I cant move. And I am afraid of this darkness that threatens to swallow me every now and then. >>
Let me offer you my strength as you once offer me. We fought things more terrible than this and you never once bat an eyelid. This is no different Li. Trust me.
<< How long can you do it? You will tire one day and feel that I am a burden. What would you do then? >>
For you, Ill fight on. There is bound to be a way to bring you back and exorcise that that dark spirit. But I need you to fight with me. Can you promise me that.
With the presence that he felt to be that ChunLis, for the moment he felt confusion and sadness as she contemplates his words. Even before he knows it he found that he was losing control of the dragon form, changing back into the man he was. Scales turning back into skin and cloth.
Holding ChunLi in his arms Ryu smiles the moment he felt ChunLi consenting. Ryu strokes ChunLis head and kisses her lips gently. It may not be anything but her consent and her willingness to return is a small but good start.