（Chen Xiao as the Young Master in my novel) (Lin Geng Xin as the Zhuo Hao in my novel)
Yue Kingdom, Human realms
“Young Master.” The magistrate of the Northern province bowed and handed the young man a cup of wine. His shaking voice echoed in the empty main hall of the Magistrate’s elegant house, the young man sat high on the dais casually glaring at the older man. The magistrate’s hands shook as beads of sweat began forming on his brow.
The young man drummed his fingers on the intricately carved table, “Have no fear, Magistrate Ke. Today is not the day I capture you for your wrong doings.” He smiled wolfishly as he plucked the delicate cup out of the older man’s hands, “We’ll talk about that once we catch the Midnight Thief, I’ll deal with you.” The older man lowered his head, he did dare look into the man’s eyes. The young man continued, as if he was unaware the fear he was causing the other man, “Did you think that you could steal from my father during this war and not be found out?” The young man crushed the cup in his hands, “Your ambitions will end you.”
“Master! Master! The Gold… it’s gone! The thief, he’s escaping!” A guardsman tripped into the main hall, the young man cursed and ran out, his sword already unsheathed.
“Which direction?” He roared, the servant pointed, and the young man leapt into the air and onto the roof. His right hand guard Bao Lu swiftly followed him. They speed up as they saw several guards chasing after a slender black clad figure. The black clad figure threw something into the air, and the men dropped like flies. “Bao Lu, stay with the men and make sure they’re all right!”
The young master threw all his qi into a leap and landed on a few rooftops behind the black clad thief.
“Stop! In the name of the law!” He roared. The black clad man’s eyes sparkled, it was as if he was laughing at the commanded. The man glared and raised his sword, he jumped the remaining distance. “I have a sword, you have nothing. come quietly.” The masked man’s eyes seemed to pity him, but did not say anything. The young master grinned, “I’ve been waiting to capture you for a while, ever since your first robbery. Thank you make not making this easy.”
He came at the masked man with a down swing, the man avoided it easily. The young master quickly checked and flipped his sword for a horizontal strike only to watch the other man bend backwards and flip out of his range. Every sword move he made, the other figure seem to glide effortlessly away.
He jumped and twisted his arm, wincing at the pain at his shoulder. This was a move a shaolin master taught him, used only in the direst moment. The sword snaked around the masked man’s arm. The young master grinned. The masked man looked unfazed. The young master raised his sword again and the battle commenced, but he could not touch the masked man.
“Fight like you mean it!” the man roared, after ten minutes. He was one of the best swordsmen in the country, but it was as if he could not touch the masked thief. The thief pointed at the man’s shoulder, the young master looked down. His battle wound had reopened after his exertions, if it kept on bleeding, it would cause him serious trouble. The young master ignored it, “I’ve been chasing you little bastard for months now, from the southern provinces to the northern ones. Do you really think some little cut’s going to stop me now?”
He raised his sword again. But this time, the masked man slide past his sword, and towards the young master’s face. He swiftly punched the other man’s elbow, numbing the arm down. He swiftly knocked the sword from the man’s hand and spun out of reach, the newly won sword in his hands. He quickly came at the young man, faster than lightning. It took all of the young master’s years of training to avoid the blows.
The sword flashed as the young master ducked, but not fast enough. Yet the sword didn’t slice through his shoulder. Instead the flat end hit his arm, it was painful, but far from fatal. The thief wasn’t using the sword to kill. That made him furious, “My sword is not some washing stick you beat laundry with.” He said as he rubbed his arm, “You either fight me as an equal or give me back my sword so I can kill you.”
The thief threw him back his sword. The young master’s mouth dropped open at the insult. Bao Lu caught up, “Master, the men are fine. They are just asleep.” At that moment, the masked man seemed to disappear into thin air.
Bao Lu took a look at the wound and the blood drained from his face, “We need to get that seen right away. You’ll bleed out.” The young master sighed, “Let’s go.”
The masked figure landed lightly in the middle of a little pavilion, off came the mask and her hair slide out. She ran her hand through her scalp, sighing with relief as the night air cooled her hair.
“Yu Zhu!” Lin Yu came running down the steps. Yu Zhu grinned and took a heavy cloth bag from her back. “I got the gold.” Lin Yu saw the cut on her sister’s shoulder. “You’re hurt!”
Yu Zhu shook her head, “It’s a small scratch, I’ll be fine.” She took some medicine from her pouch, “I’ll get this cleaned. We can talk once I change.”
Yu Zhu took off her black cloth suit and the little acorn she always wore. She sighed, it had been a year since she last saw Wei Yun in the demon realms. She pushed the thought away and concentrated at the task at hand.
A hand shot out to help her. Lin Yu hand come in quietly, “Yu Zhu, you don’t have to suffer alone.” Yu Zhu smiled, “I’m fine, it’s a scratch.”
“I’m not talking about that.”
Yu Zhu remained silent and Lin Yu sighed, “Ever since that day we left the demon town, you’ve been keeping something from me. Sometimes I hear screaming in your sleep.” Lin Yu looked sadly at Yu Zhu, “aren’t we as close as sisters? Won’t you let me know what’s going on?”
Yu Zhu swallowed and smiled, “I’m fine, I promise. We have lots of work to do.” She quickly changed the subject, “Is Zhu Hao here yet? I don’t want to sit on this gold for nothing.”
Lin Yu’s eyes lit up at the mention of Zhu Hao’s name. She grinned, “he’s waiting for you at the main room.” Yu Zhu quickly changed and the girls headed towards the main room.
A man in plain grey robes of an apprentice monk sat by the little table, his black hair shone in the dim candle light signifying that he hadn’t taken his vows yet. Though his clothes were poor, he wore them like the robes of royalty. When Lin Yu walked in, his eyes show with pleasure and he smiled at them brightly. Standing up, he promptly tripped over his robes and nearly fell to the ground.
Yu Zhu sighed, Zhu Hao could look like a handsome young prince, only if he didn’t move. Lin Yu laughed, and Zhu Hao grinned abashedly. Yu Zhu handed him the bag of gold bars, and Zhu Hao nodded, and pulled out a few sheaf of silver notes.
“This is left over from what I sent to the refugee camps on the southern border. We’ve done all we can for them to get them back on their feet.” Zhu Hao grinned, “This isn’t a lot but you two deserve something for your hard work.”
“And the northern border towns?” Lin Yu inquired. Zhu Hao put the notes on the table his face serious, “They are an entirely different matter, famine, drought, and plague are hitting them bad this year. Not to mention the war has decimated most of the bordering villages. I think I might have to go there to help.” Zhu Hao smiled cautiously, “But once we get this gold melted down and sold, I think we’ll be able to help a great deal of them.”
Yu Zhu nodded, “We are surviving well enough as it is. Lin Yu’s work as a dancer and my embriodery shop has earned more than enough money to feed us.” She pushed the notes back to him, “Take this and send it to the north. If you need more, there are plenty of people we can rob from.”
Zhu Hao’s eyes grew sad, “There are so many officials skimming from government aid to the refugees. But you both have to be careful, my people have been hearing a lot of talk about the Midnight Thief.”
“That’s not a really accurate name, since there’s two of us.” Lin Yu grinned nonsensically “Yu Zhu and I are both robbing them blind, we need a prettier name.”
“I don’t really think you’re getting the point.” Yu Zhu muttered, “We’ll be more careful. The numbers of guards have increased around the houses. And someone did manage to scratch me today.”
Zhu Hao’s eyes narrowed, “I’ll have someone look into it.” He looked at Lin Yu, “Please be careful. Both of you.” Lin Yu’s face turned a little pink as she nodded.
Zhu Hao stood, “I have to get back to the monastery, before they realize I’m missing.” He took the heavy bag of gold, “I’ll make sure that this reaches the northern villages, you two have saved a lot of lives today.” The girls waved as he quietly strode out of their little home.
“You like him” Yu Zhu teased, “Admit it.”
Lin Yu gently shoved Yu Zhu, “Shut up.” She quickly walked into the house. Yu Zhu followed, “You’ve liked him since we met him at that little village a year ago.” Lin Yu smiled, “It’s rare to see someone so good hearted.”
Yu Zhu nodded, “And intelligent. I heard it took him only two years to set up a secret system to help those affected by the war.”
“Have you ever wondered who he was?” Yu Zhu asked Lin Yu, “for an apprentice monk, he sure seems to be good at handling an underground organization.” Lin Yu shrugged, she didn’t understand humans relationships that much and could care less who Zhu Hao might have been. “I’m starving, let’s eat!”
The demon realms.
Huang Wu and Tu Suo stood in the ruins of the once great ox capital and surveyed the damage. Below on the battlefield lay hundreds of thousands of demon warriors, their blood soaking the ground and turning it into mud. Another hundred thousand bowed to Tu Suo, their blades on the ground before their heads. These were now Tu Suo’s men, the last warriors of the House of the Ox.
Wei Yu stood on a mountain of dead, calmly wiping the blood off his sword. With Wei Tian’s heart and powers, he had decimated one hundred thousand warriors in the blink of an eye. He jumped and floated towards Huang Wu, there was eagerness in his eyes. “You were suppose to remain with the girls. Is Yu Zhu doing well?”
Huang Wu sighed, “She’s residing in a kingdom bordering her own. They’re fine.” He looked down on the vast ruin before him, “The demon realms have forever changed. How will the other 8 houses react to this?”
“This will serve as a grave warning to those who oppose me.” Tu Suo said, there was no joy in his voice. He was leaning on his sword for support, his clothes were stained with blood, “The soldiers from the house Horse, the Snake, and the Sheep fought by my side. We shall see what the other five say after this.”
Wei Yun turned to Huang Wu, “What of the Sky Kingdom, has your father forgotten what he owes me for the throne?”
Huang Wu did not reply, in the distance, a little carriage carrying the last prince of the ox house was speeding away. Wei Yun watched, “He can not live.” Tu Suo shook his head, “I will not kill a child prince of the twelve houses. Let him go and live a normal life.”
Wei Yun not say anything but raised his hand. White hot fire flew from him and blew up the carriage. Ten thousand captive warriors stood up and screamed profanities and rage at the murder, but Wei Yun struck them down, burning them alive as an example to the soldiers who knelt. There was no remorse in his eyes. “You want to rule and sleep without fearing for your life at night, then people like that can not survive.”
“You’ve changed.” Huang Wu said through numb lips, as they heard the screams of the last few attendants to the royal family, their cries raw and sorrowful. Wei Yun ignored this, though he felt the weight of those words as he looked at the rivers gushing with blood. He turned to Tu Suo, “Your majesty, your new kingdom.”