The next morning after they broke camp the group continue upon the path that was flanked by thick trees. Again silent eyes accompanied their footsteps. ChunLi broke away from Ryu and caught up with the sullen Iwa
“You okay?” she asked, landing a hand on the younger woman’s shoulder.
“Do I look okay?”
“You get your chance at her.”
“Yeah right. Like never.”
“I’m not allowed to kill her. I’ll get into big trouble if I do.”
“I know you two had bad blood ” ChunLi was cut off by the intense glare in Iwa’s eyes.
“If she cause a few deaths in your family would you not do violence to her?! If she hunts down people with your special birthright just for the sake of taking that power would you not do violence to her? If she singled handedly caused death to one fifth of your comrades in arms would you not do violence to her?”
“She is the descendant to that bloodline isn’t she?”
“But she’s different. They want to kill ‘us’, she wants ‘us’ to submit to her.”
“You shouldn’t worry about me. I’ll heal in time but you got more things to worry about.” Iwa quicken her pace leaving ChunLi alone. By then Ryu caught up to her, without saying more he squeeze ChunLi’s hand to comfort her as they both watch Iwa move off.
It was around late afternoon that the trees flanking the path began to thin. It was like walking into another world. A few cranes flew over the still waters of lake that reflects the clear blue sky. A single feather from the crane causes a small ripple on the lake and then everything is still once more.
It is a huge lake that seems to stretch on endlessly. A mountain of green lies in the center of that lake. Reminding one of an emerald set in the center of a mirror. A gasp escaped from Nakaruru, she couldn’t help but feel that the serenity of this beauty is so ethereal. Yet within this strange calmness that lies something which she couldn’t help but feel that it almost overwhelming.
“That would be HER.” Kumori answered her question.
“So where do we go from here?” Galford wondered
“There. Beyond those silent sentry.” Iwa pointed to somewhere off center the lake. At what seems like two sloping hillocks flanking the waterways. Beyond that waterway lies more water and a small green pasture.
“Come people we don’t have time to waste.” Kumori called out from the small pier, apparently she found a wooden raft that could carry all of them.
ChunLi thought that under normal circumstances this would make an excellent outing but excitement at any rate was contained to avoid capsizing the raft. A feeling of awe overcome her as they row pass the rocky gentry. One could be forgiven for thinking that they might come alive and crush them as they pass through.
She found herself gazing into the green waters of the lake, one finger cutting through the water as the raft moves. From here she could feel the warmth of sun and the coolness of the wind. How odd she couldn’t help but think that lately she has been distracted by such minor details. Taking more time to enjoy the beauty of nature and the details for that matter. She wondered if that is a natural reaction or a side effect.
ChunLi raise an eyebrow at what she thought to be a squirrel hanging onto both ends of a large leaf gliding across lake towards the island that they were headed for. There was something about that squirrel she thought as she watches the creature glide across the lake. Its weight causing it leaf glider to dip now and then. Its bushy tail dipping in the water for a moment to cause a few ripples in the water before it the wind lifts it back in the air again.
But she didn’t have time to think so much, for they now bank by a small green pasture. The feeling is this place is strangely different to what on the main land they had came from. ChunLi thought as she glances around the area, eyes are still watching her from the darkness of the forest, the silence is painfully obvious. She saw the gliding squirrel scurrying into the darkness adding another pair of eyes in watching her.
“That’s them?” Galford was slightly disappointed to know that the watchers are but creatures of the forests.
“The smaller ones at least.” Kumori answered.
“There are bigger ones?”
“Okay Where is this fort you mention?”
“Though here.” Iwa brush aside some foliage to reveal a small trail
Following the trail, ChunLi realize that they had not seen much of the wildlife here and the fact that there is something else here that bothered her. Beneath all this quiet and serenity she could sense that there is something strong. The only way she could describe it is ‘Light in darkness and darkness in light.’ A constant chaos. And that other than these animals there is someone watching her.
Her train of thoughts came to an end when a hand gently squeezes her shoulder, Ryu had prevented her tripping from the slight depression in the ground. He had known that she was lost in her thoughts again. She smiled him her thanks and continues their walk. Hand in hand, just in case her thoughts trap her once more.
The sound of running water attracted ChunLi’s attention as they follow the forest trail. She thought it was odd that they are crossing a stone bridge that is overrun by slippery moss and creeping vines. The bridge had sort of proved that there was civilization here once. But all there is now are animals. Animals that are watching her.
Ryu’s hand lightly squeezing her brought her out of her thoughts and prevented her from tripping over deadwood. ChunLi shook her head trying to clear away these unnecessary thoughts. But like mist they clear away one moment only to return the next to haunt her mind.
It was mid day by the time the trail ended in front of a little clearing that was back by a huge rock wall that was covered by vegetation. Beyond that there was not another trail to follow. So instead they took the time for some lunch before they head on.
ChunLi wandered off by herself, one hand on the rock wall and followed it until she came to a pond. She sat down and started staring into the water and thinking once more, every now and then she kept sighing. An arm around her shoulder drew her back to reality once more.
“Bun?” Ryu offered her. ChunLi answered him with silence and brushed off his arm.
“Something wrong?” Ryu watches her get up.
“Must something be wrong with me? Would you only be happy to know that there is something wrong with me so that I would run to you for comfort?!” she snaps back at him.
Frustration shows on ChunLi’s face. Ryu noted that the nearer they come to their goal, the more ChunLi was lost in thought. He had no other answer for her except to embrace her which in his own way said that he would be here by her side. Within his arms, he could feel ChunLi trembling in anger, over what he wasn’t so sure.
Stroking ChunLi’s head Ryu hopes to at least soothe some of her trouble away. He smiled when he felt her body relaxing. Without another word they headed back for the others. Ignoring the eyes that watches them from the pond as well.
“Where do we go from here?” Kyo asked as he stretches his tired muscles. The one thing he misses is a good fight. He promise himself that when all this is over. He would go look Yagami up.
“Here.” Iwa and Kumori both pointed towards the rock wall.
“Climb?” Came Nakaruru’s slightly worried voice.
“No.” Iwa brushed some vines away from the rock wall.
Part of the wall seems to be some sort of door. A bronze ring hung from the center. Galford got up and started to pull the ring with all his might. First this way then that way, yet nothing seems to budge. After a while he gave up, ignoring the look on his companions’ face.
With a shrug, Kumori added a few drops of oil between the base of the ring to which was attached to the door. After that Iwa started to twist and turn the ring in anti-clockwise. Moments later the ring came off. The two young women began feeling the wall beside the door until Kumori found a piece of stone that was removable and took that out.
With her dagger she stabs at the grooves where that piece of stone once was. Removing another piece of stone. She could see what she was looking for and took it out. Two bronze tubes about the length of a person’s arm. One has a large hole big enough to slide the other tube in.
They stabbed the tube that has a hole in one end into the groove from where they had removed the ring and twisted that into place. Sliding the other tube in the hole until that tube stops at the dead center of the tube. Both took one end of the tube and started turning, winding it up like one would wind up a clock with a key.
Nothing happen after they winded it. Without missing a beat the duo remove the key and slide the two rods back into the hole where it was found and put back the stone pieces. And reattached the ring back into the groove.
With that they lifted the ring and let it slam in the wall’s surface. Repeating this action another six times. Sand leaks out as the mechanism rumbles to life. Moaning and groaning as the door slides to the side where the keys were found and covered it up.
A yawning darkness greeted them, along with a million and one squeaks of bats. Bats that rushes out towards them like spirits release from hell. None attack them but all flew out of the darkness squeaking away. When the silence welcome them, the eleven enters. After all eleven entered, the door rumbles and closes behind them.
ChunLi couldn’t help but think that in this darkness, she couldn’t even see her hand even if it was before her face. Fact that it is before her face.
“Yeah? I can see my hand fine.” Kyo answered her unasked question with glee. A small flame flicker to life, lighting the darkness. With glee Kyo demonstrated how large or small the flame could be. Iwa, Kumori and Rimururu joined in with a hand shadow contest.
Regaining their seriousness after some moments the four stopped playing around, answering to the frowning adults with a grin on their face. With Kyo’s medium size flame, ChunLi noted that this so call castle is craved out within the mountain (NB. Not the one in Dark Legacy, two different architecture with slight simliarties).
She noticed that there is a long trough one on each of the wall that flanks them, Iwa directed Kyo to the trough on the right wall and he obliged by throwing a small tongue of flame into the trough.
Meeting oil, the flame sizzles and grows. With a ‘whoosh’ it spreads as far as the trough ran on the wall. Lighting the place up as well as the corner that the trough leads into. With Iwa and Kumori leading the way, they all followed the path that the flame had lighted for them.