The group set off once more at dawn, this time the young Kusanagi lord had joined their group. Most of the time Nakaruru kept to herself, refusing to have anything to do with ChunLi. Had it not being for Rimururus eagerness she could have been on her way back to Kamui Kuten.
Yet now that she was here she refuses to leave, for her past dreams and the flickering shadow bothered her. Nakaruru knew that there was something important yet she couldnt grasp the thought as if something was preventing her from understanding something important.
Rimururu was the exact opposite of her sister. She was glad to be on this trip for it allowed her catch up with old friends as well as make new companions. She likes the idea of taking a break from the familiar scenery of Kamui Kuten and learn more about the world.
These few days Rimururu was virtually stuck to ChunLi and Charlotte, bombarding them with questions of their hometowns and various things that was going around the world.
Unlike her brooding sister, Rimururu aims to find out what had happen that made Nakaruru suddenly aloof. And maybe by getting acquainted with Nakarurus object of dislike she could find out more.
Her second aim was mellow out the bad blood between the two covens. For both are warriors as well as witches. What led to that feud? Rimururu does not know but intends to find out for she dislike the way that Nakaruru was treating ChunLi.
The journey was slower than they expected for heavy rains had impeded their journey northwards. Fighting off the occasional band of bandits was making their week long journey even longer. And to make things worse the bridge across the fast flowing river was washed out.
No. We need not sleep under stars tonight. Ryu said as the light slowly fades from the sky.
But the last village is a days walk away. Rimururu said.
I never said anything about a village. Besides Weve arrive. Ryu turned away from the main road.
Where are you going?
There. Ryu pointed beyond the trees, through the gaps they could see a path leading to a flattop hill. The group said nothing but followed him.
As the last rays of light died out In the west, the group reached the foot of the mesa. The could see huge winged creatures making a landing at the hilltops. Making the way along the foot of the hill they came to a cave entrance.
Enter at your own risk. The sign said. Ryu just shrugged and headed in. The cave was dark and gloomy but a short while later Ryu found some lighted torches and handed it down the row to provide more light.
Mind your heads. Keep your weapon Galford. You wont need it here. Ryu warned the group. It was like he knew his way around the twisting caves. Some point going up and at some point going down. Through a cave full of bats and one fill with all kinds of treasure. Ryu then stopped in front one opening and hesitated.
Li remember that time we explored the waterfall cave and that one in other Dragon Mesa?
Yes. I had said that they all seem to look alike and that somehow if we actually find that ancient tomb we had end up back in Shadowlaw. Although that has yet to be proven.
Well .The next cave leads through there .. he gulped.
Something wrong? Galford asked.
Uh .not really.
Come Ryu. Not this again. Be brave for me. Warrior.
Maybe this would help. ChunLi took her scarf out and tied it over Ryus eyes.
Better? she kissed him on his nose.
Just remember that Im beside you holding your hand.
Okay. He put and a brave front. With one hand holding the torch and in his other hand he held ChunLis hand. Ryu led the group in.
Nakaruru nearly screamed had it not being for Charlotte. Rimururu was awestruck the number and the size of the spiders that hung from every nook and cranny of the passage. Thin silken webs gleaming from the light of the torches. She could hear the sound of scurrying feet across the stone floor.
Eeewww. Rimururu thought she stepped on something and now her shoe seems to in some kind of sticky fluid.
You want me to burn those spi
Kyo was cut off by ChunLi.
Dont even say the word. Just let them be. This is their territory. She brushed off a spider that had landed on Ryus shoulder who tensed up almost immediately.
Ryu. Dont let the thought enter your mind. We are almost there. She said softly, she smiled noting that he was relaxed once again.
Moments later the group stumbled out of the cave. Ryu grabbed the scarf away from his eyes and started to brush himself off making sure none of the spiders remained on him. Nakarurus face was pale when she caught her breath.
Why didnt you take another path if you knew it was there? Shizumaru asked, shaking his little wooden box. There was something scurrying around within.
This is the main path, the other shortcuts are a little more inaccessible. Ryu was by now back to his calm self. He had a rough idea what was in that little box but would rather not ask.
Welcome to our domain. My lord. My lady it is an honor to have you here. The voice of a woman called out. A red hair woman came out of the darkness. There was something about her that didnt seem right.
It could be her catlike like grace in the way she walk or that her almond shaped eyes were slightly slanted and that her pupils were catlike slits. Maybe because her scaly red double-spade like tip tail that answered a few questions. She curtsied before Ryu and ChunLi.
Huo-Hua. You knew of our arrival? ChunLi asked slightly puzzled.
News traveled fast my lady. Word was sent that both of you might be passing through.
Those girls always seem to take care of everything. ChunLi shook her head.
Quarters will be provided the others. Would you like me to inform Grandfather of your arrival? she asked as she led the group into another room.
No it is kind of late and I think Grandfather needs his rest.
As the group followed Huo-Hua down a stone staircase. Thoughts and shadows of her dreams plagued Nakaruru once more. Something about this place, something about this strange inhuman creature and all that somehow leads to something implicating ChunLi.
As they descended to an ornately carved grand hall. Nakaruru noticed the carvings were mostly of dragons and such. She saw as well various creatures that are more or less similar to Huo-Hua. Then a few smaller dragons barely a century old. Then something hit Nakaruru.
She realised that all these creatures addressed ChunLi as Lady and Lady in Japanese meant Fujin
which meant that ChunLi is the Lady of Dragons. Nakaruru gasped on realising that the Ryu no Fujin who will usher in the age of chaos is none other than ChunLi herself.
Nakaruru mumbled a few unladylike curses. It seems to her like a case of history repeating itself. That coven seems so prone to repeating its mistakes. Nakaruru figured that it was up to her to stop them.
But how? How could she stop ChunLi. She is but the power of one. And then she started thinking. Of course she cant stop her here. She is in her own territory after all. Nakaruru then wondered if Ryu knew the danger he was in. How was she to tell him then? She decided instead to slowly work her way one by one. These fools will regret not listening to her.
By now they were in the communal eating hall and seated at a round table. These creatures began bringing trays and trays of food much to Ryus delight. Haohmaru thought that he was forgotten until a large bottle of sake was placed before him.
Nakaruru had hardly touched the food placed before her. She was disgusted by how easily Rimururu was won over. It will be hard talking her sister over. And then Nakaruru thought she saw a flicker of red and white ghosting past the passageway.
< No. It cant be her
> she thought. The figure was gone again
After the meal was over they were ushered to their quarters. Ryu and ChunLi was ushered to their room in further away from the rest.
It looks the same. ChunLi mused as she plopped herself into the bed.
It should, the same design as the other mesas. He plopped himself beside her.
How long do we have to stay here?
Forever if you wish. Maybe we could avoid what would happen if we stay away? Ryu stroked ChunLis face gently. His other hand held ChunLis hand.
No. That wont solve anything.
Dont worry. Im sure that there is a way to help you. If there isnt. I will find a way. He kissed the back of her hand to assure her once more.
Ryu held ChunLi close to him, the familiar scent of her hair just underneath his chin, the warmth of the familiar figure he held. All his years of training is going to come this. The final test of whether or not would he be able to defend his woman from a danger that he could not even see.
Demon or no demon, anyone who hurt her must die. But for now all that matters is the moment they share together. Whatever the challenge thrown at him he will face it.
They held each other in their arms, lulled to sleep by the sound of their beating hearts. Closer to the darkness then they will ever know. The path that lies before them now split into the three. Still the same choices await, still the same sacrifice to be made.
Morning comes as the sun peeks over from the horizon, letting its warm rays wash away the darkness and the cold that the night brought with it. Dewdrops gathered in the night now hung precariously on the leaves, the scent of dew washed grass hung in the air as the morning slowly awakes to the songs of birds vying for territory.
Within the mesa the inhabitants have already woken before the light of dawn hits and are now attending to their chores.
After taking a light breakfast Ryu and ChunLi headed down the lower levels. Guided by the sound of water trickling. It took them a short while to reach the end of the passage they were following. Entering the dark room. The couple was greeted by three pair of eyes staring back at them. One pair golden, one pair silver and one human like pair that is ice blue.
The candle went out again. Give me a moment. A familiar female voice said.
Zannah? Is that you? ChunLi called out.
Yes. Its me. Ah. Here it is.
There is a loud hiss as the candle burns to life. The room was washed in its soft glow. From there Zannah got up and lighted the torches on the wall. As the room brightens up. It is now known that the golden eyes belong to a black and gold dragon curled up by a small table where a chessboard is. Beside it is a midnight blue and silver dragon.
The woman in red return to the table, Her braid of silver hair swinging with her every move.
Your move Grandmother. She said as she sat down.
The midnight blue and silver dragon mulled over it for a while before moving a piece. She elbowed the black and gold dragon who snorted.
Yes, yes. Im awake.
Welcome back. My children. It said as it shifted its position slightly. By now its mate and Zannah had stopped their chess game. A liquid like shift came over the two dragons as they diminished in size and as scales gave way to cloth and skin.
Standing before them are a couple, a man in his sixties dressed in a black and gold robe and beside his mate is dressed in a deep blue and silver robe. And like Huo-hua and many others, the tell-tale pointy ears, the tail, the catlike eyes and the catlike grace remained. Together they headed upstairs.
By the time they reached the communal eating hall. Haohmaru and gang had already started eating. As the latecomers joined them Nakaruru gasped in horror. She seen her before.
The warrior woman clad in blood red attire, that mane of silver hair, those ice blue eyes. She seen her before many years ago in Kamui Kuten. The warrior woman had remained unchanged, her age seeming to come to a standstill at thirty. Seeing her always means nothing but bad news Things dont look so good anymore. And Nakaruru worries for all of them.