Chen Xiao as Jin/Zhu Zhan Ye
(Pic courtesy of Baidu)
Bo Hai, Isle of the 8 Immortals
This chapter sees a lot of moving parts ready to converge and collide. Jin is still a mystery but he’s definitely revealing more and more in the next few chapters. I’ve always wondered if he and Zhu Zhan Ye would get along if I put them in the same room.
Zhu Zhan Ye a soft voice called out, it was as lovely as the sound of rain falling softly on silver leaves. Jin closed his eyes and concentrated. He must shut out all distractions, he didn’t want to waste any of his powers trying to forget what he naturally should have forgotten. This was the last stage.
Zhu Zhan Ye the voice seem to sigh. Jin groaned in exasperation and reached for his power, erasing the last bit of the voice from his memories. His human self fought a losing battle, refusing to let go the last thread that tied his old life to his god self. The fire of his power burned it away and Jin took a deep breath, feeling the last bit of his humanity slip to the back of his soul. Even if he became human again, he made sure that whatever he erased wouldn’t come back and haunt him.
He stretched, his ice white robes dyed orange by the rising sun, fluttered lazily in the still air. His body was weightless as he drifted into the air, getting use to his godly body. Strong without ever being tired, powerful beyond imagination. There was no need of human emotions in this form.
He walked without touching the ground, enjoying the clarity of sight, sound, and smell that no human body could possess.
“Lady He” He spoke quietly.
The lady immortal flinched, she hadn’t sensed the half-god arrive. She turned and bowed to the young lord. “Master Jin.” She looked up and couldn’t keep an admiring smile off her pensive face. Hundreds of thousands years ago, she had seen Jin’s true form and always thought he was one of the most handsome gods in existence. Yet his carelessly handsome face hid the ruthlessness that was capable of destroying the world.
Piercing gold eyes set underneath a pair of brows that seemed to be two careless yet masterful strokes made from a calligrapher’s hand. As always, there was a slightly crooked smile playing on the ruddy lips that seemed to be carved on his perfectly symmetrical face. This was a man who could whistle carelessly even when the realms collapsed around his ears.
“You are staring” Jin asked as he played with a ribbon of water he conjured from the ocean. “Clearly I’ve not lost my lure to women after all these years.”
Lady He kept her face calm though her alabaster cheeks turned slightly pink, “Someday a woman will kick you for being so impudent.”
Jin laughed, “Has there been any in the heavenly court about me?”
Lady He shook her head, “Not a whisper. They are exhausted by Lord Wei Yun’s massacre of the Demon Realms. Gods are still discussing what Lord Wei Yun had done.”
“Wei Yun?” Jin’s eyes turned a shade darker. The ribbon of water evaporated suddenly. “Ah..One of the unnatural monsters made from the heart of Pan Gu?” The sardonic smile deepened, “I remember now, Nu Wa’s little pet abominations, Wei Yun and Wei Tian,”
Jin looked at her, the bored expression back on his face, “Do you think they will execute Wei Yun?”
“Not Yet.” Lady He hesitated, “Though I don’t know why”
Jin chuckled, “Wei Yun could set fire and burn the hair off every god and goddess of heaven, use the sacred scrolls of Heaven laws as toilet paper, and the Emperor would still not behead him. Not until he gives up Pan Gu’s heart.”
Lady He looked confused, and Jin pointed to himself, “Wei Yun is like me. Valuable for one reason.” Jin shrugged and walked to the ocean, his eyes sparkled as he spied something, and slowly lifted his hand. Two massive waves that grew taller and taller rose with Jin’s movements. A ship was caught between the waves, and Lady He felt her throat go dry, as Jin continued.”Too bad he wasn’t one of the prophesied ones, I would have loved to see my father pee himself with terror at the thought of Wei Yun taking the throne. But he needs him alive, my father wants his Creation powers.”
With a wave of his arm, the two waves crashed into each other with an earth shattering sound. Lady He used her power, and pushed the ship out of way with all her magic. It sped away as the after waves crashed onto the island and shook the ground.
She shook her head with a sigh, “You still place so little value on human life.”
Jin shrugged, “I place value on what could be valuable to me. Everything else is expendable.”
Lady He looked at him reproachfully, “You shouldn’t make such noises here, even if this place is protected, I can’t promise that the right amount of ruckus won’t bring down your father.”
Jin laughed, “He’s too busy, probably looking of the right spell to suck the power out of Wei Yun. Besides, I need the practice.”
Lady He looked shocked, “Surely you don’t think…but that would destroy the world. The Emperor isn’t crazy to try again…”
Jin nodded, “He couldn’t steal the powers of any of the Creation Gods then, but now he has another opportunity. He’s going to try again.”
Lady He felt sick, “After what happened with Lord Fu Xi and your mother…”
Jin raised an eyebrow, and Lady He’s voice became softer and softer, she’d forgotten after all these years that name was taboo for Jin. The past was in the past for her, but for Jin, it was still a shadow upon his heart.
Jin brushed nonexistent dust from his flowing white robes as the ocean slowly settled back into place. “Creation powers have to be given to another willingly, to be used to their full potential. Pan Gu gave his heart to NuWa, even though she never wanted it. Fu Xi gave his powers to me. And Lei Zu, she gave it to her descendants, hoping that they would be protected from the Emperor of Heaven.”
Jin grinned recklessly, “During my sleep, I bet the Emperor found a way to kill off Wei Tian. The Emperor would’ve tried everything in his power to destroy find the heirs to Pan Gu and Lei Zhu’s powers. All these years, I bet he’s been searching for Nu Wa’s child. If the gods knew what he was trying to do, they would rise against him. ”
Lady He felt cold, “I don’t believe it, Gods killing gods for power is against every law of heaven. And He’s our ruler.”
“You didn’t see it because he is your ruler.” Jin said coldly, “If he had the opportunity he would take Fu Xi’s power from me before running me through with a sword.”
Lady He shook her head, “But you are his son. Surely he would show mercy.”
Jin laughed at this, “Mercy? The only reason he hasn’t scattered my soul in the winds of time is because I am protected by Fu Xi’s powers and secrets that he wishes to know.”
“What are you going to do?” Lady He felt anxiety crawl on her skin.
Jin walked towards the balcony of the towers overlooking the grey ocean, “I have to find the half-god who woke me. If that person is weak or wants to follow the Emperor of Heaven, I force them to give me their power and kill them.”
Then how are you different from your father? Lady He dared not asked Jin, but the worry in her heart grew.
He turned around, “Now, do you have the image of me as a human? I’m going back to the human realms.” He grinned easily, “I want to have a little fun before things get messy. Maybe see what life was like as a human.”
“What if you see the person you’re trying to forget?” Lady He asked as she handed him the mirror that held the image.
Jin shrugged, “Whoever it was, I’ll have forgotten them completely. I’m sure I won’t have those same feelings again.” He grinned confidently, “I am, after all, a god.”
Yue Kingdom, House of the Magistrate
The sounds of trumpets and fireworks bounced merrily in the massive home of the Magistrate as the night fell. Children ran around, laughing merrily as they gaped at the old Magistrate riding a horse ahead the red palanquin of the bride.
People whispered and pointed but none dared say anything good about the match. They were all terrified of the old man.
The procession entered the massive gardens and stopped at the house prepared for the magistrate’s newest concubine. The line of maids followed the Magistrate and his new bride into the room, to await the auspicious hour
“Before we go to the ceremony, why don’t we drink something to calm the nerves?”
The Magistrate simpered and looked at Lin Yu lecherously as he offered two light green cups of tea. The maids in the room turned red in shame at their master’s behavior. He was nearly sixty and here he was marrying someone in their twenties, it was like sticking a beautiful flower onto a pile of donkey dung.
Lin Yu bit back the bile and smiled, “Of course.” She was a snake after all, even the most powerful human poison was like candy to her.
She took the proffered cup and downed it. It was slightly bitter. The Magistrate had his eyes closed, as quick as a flash, Lin Yu had the knife in her hands. She stood up, about to strike. The Magistrate opened his eyes and nearly screamed in terror. But then something went terribly wrong.
She didn’t realize what it was until it hit her stomach. The feeling of paralysis nearly overwhelmed her as she doubled over in pain. Something was eating her alive from inside, like thousands of worms burrowing into her skin. Lin Yu had never felt anything so intense before.
The Magistrate stood up and backed away, his mouth agape before his eyes glittered greedily, “Demon? Another one?”
Lin Yu felt as if someone was kicking her stomach from the inside out, “What have you given me?”, she snarled, her eyes turning pale green. The scales rippling on her skin as she fought to hold onto her human form.
“Sacred watered of the Temples, blessed by the head priest. It’s a family tradition, said to scare demons away on auspicious days. I didn’t believe it… until now.” The Magistrate answered, he approached cautiously and caressed Lin Yu’s already sweaty face, “It has no affect on humans but turns most demons to ash. Only the most powerful demons will be able to keep their human form. Most would have reverted to their original form by now”
Lin Yu said nothing, she could feel her powers fading as the poison roared through her. The room faded in and out of consciousness as she struggled too keep her gaze on the hated man in front of her.
The magistrate continued as he traced her cheek, “See, Te’le was the first demon I tamed. The God of fortunes must be smiling upon me, to bring such a beautiful demoness for me to tame.” He yanked his hand away as her bared fangs came dangerously close to his ancient fingers. With viciousness that came only with practice, he backhanded her, knocking her to the floor.
He glared down at her and kicked her in the stomach, “Little demon, perhaps we’ll put off the ceremony until I’ve gotten the spell from the buddhist head priest for taming demons.” He squat down by her curled up figure, “And then you’ll be my concubine. With you bent to my every will, I might even become the next emperor.”
Lin Yu raised herself up and spat in his face, “I’ll turn you into a earthworm and feed you to fishes if you touch me.”
The magistrate guffawed, “If you don’t receive the blessing from the priest that created this spell by sunrise, you’ll die. And I’ll make sure that the priest bestow your obedience and powers to me when you beg for the antidote.” He leaned down, his putrid breath in her face “And trust me. I will make you beg for it.”
The door flew open and a black cloud rushed in. The guards were screaming but none were able to stop it. Huang Wu was expressionless as he cut down guard after guard.
Huang Wu’s sword flashed and guards flew away, some dead before they hit the ground. He had a cut on his shoulder but he didn’t seem to mind, his eyes searching for Lin Yu in the room. His eyes widened when he saw her curled on the floor, a trail of blood dripping down her chin.
His eyes turned murderous, as he headed for the Magistrate.
“No!” A voice roared. The maids in the room looked towards the door and found another handsome youth, his face splattered with blood. Zhuo Hao and his people are fighting to keep Huang Wu’s path clear.
Zhuo Hao yelled again as he fought a fresh wave of guards.”No, take her and go, I’ll take care of him. Take her and get out of here!”
Huang Wu looked at the other young man and nodded. He kicked the old magistrate aside and grabbed Lin Yu. With a leap he took her and flew out the window, the darkness quickly swallowing their shadows whole.
Huang Wu used every Qing Gong kung fu tricks he knew to make his trip as fast as he could. He had heard the Magistrate’s words. The only one that could save Lin Yu was the priests of the Buddhist temples.
He carried her to the bamboo forests next to the temple walls, demons were never allowed onto sacred grounds. Gently he held her in his arms and wiped away the cold sweat that had dampened her forehead.
“Who..” Lin Yu in her fevered state whispered as she looked at the face that loomed in front of her. Dark, intense eyes set on a face she had often seen in her dreams looked back at her worriedly.
Her eyes focused and she mumbled like a petulant child, “Huang Wu..Dumb bird..you never visit…teasing me all the time… danced for you.” Her eyes were covered in a sheen of wetness, the fever and poison fought possession for her body. She wasn’t sure if this was a dream or reality but she was going to give Huang Wu a piece of her mind
Those last few words rang as if someone struck a gong too close to his head. His arms automatically gripped her shaking body closer, trying to warm her. He looked up at the night sky, worry eating at his heart, he took looked down at Lin Yu and gently lowered his face to peer at her face.
Delicate hands gripped the front of his robes as Lin Yu pulled her face closer to his with surprising strength. Huang Wu’s eyes met those almond shaped ones and he marveled the curve of her lashes. He didn’t even have time to react when something soft, warm, sweet pressed onto his lips. The feeling the sweetness going directly to his lips to the fire of his heart. It was mind numbing, cleansing his heart and mind like sweeping freeness of spring winds.
In the darkness, under the soft rush of bamboo leaves, one man in black and one woman in white held onto each other, their bodies pressed tightly against each other. Old blood bloomed on their clothes like roses as silver green leaves fell like snow.
His eyes widened as a bomb went off in his brain. Push her away, she’s injured. She doesn’t know what she’s doing. But that was harder to do than uprooting a thousand year tree. She was a tiny thing, how easy would it be to push her away and yet it was as if thick roots had wrapped him to her. He held her tighter, feeling to need to folder her soul against his and to never let go.
The soft lips moved against his, and Huang Wu breathed in the heady scent of her kiss. She smiled impishly, “You’re mine…stupid crow. Dumb bird.” And fainted.
Huang Wu couldn’t resist, his fingers gently brushed the fringes of her hair. The scars she had left on his hand pale in the moonlight. Huang Wu looked at those scars for a moment, it jarred him out of his reverie. He covered Lin Yu with his coat. Carefully, he made small fire, using only wood that didn’t cause much smoke.
He stood and flew through the woods as fast as his kung fu allowed, pushing his already exhausted body to its limit.
All his life he had been taught that the Priests could kill even the most powerful demons and he was no exception. He smiled humorlessly, for the first time he was glad he was human. With an incredible strength, he vaulted over the high walls of the temple.
The grand master priest was leading the evening prayers. He was an old master whose white beard nearly touched his knees. The priests of the temple watched in astonishment and shock as their grand master was yanked to his feet and flew out of the temple with inhuman speed by a man in black robes.
The old man sighed, “Young master, it is unseemly to handle your elders this way.”
When Huang Wu said nothing, the old priest gently raised a hand and pushed.
Huang Wu felt as if he was hit by a tornado. He lost his grip and landed onto the ground with a heavy thud. He felt his ribs crack but swallowed the blood that had rushed to his mouth.
The Grand Master landed lightly, “Your kung fu is one of the finest I’ve ever seen, to not have fainted from my attack. But your heart is in turmoil, you will not advance anymore if you do not find another way.”
Huang Wu mouthed the words “Need to save her” as if to remind himself to push through the pain, and rushed the old man. His black sleeves rippled as he flew through the air. Even if he had to drag the old priest out of here, unconscious, he would do it.
the Grand master priest sidestepped and avoided Huang Wu’s claw like hand this time, both of the old man’s palms hit Huang Wu squarely on the chest. Huang Wu stumbled back twenty paces, stopping only he smashed his fist on the tall temple walls to slow him down. He grimaced and wiped the blood from his chin.
Guard priests rushed at him, having finally reacted to the threat. They circled their master, protecting it from the stranger who had breached their walls effortlessly. Huang Wu flew at them, his punches lightening fast, a black hornet in a nest of golden robed priests. He didn’t want to kill unless he had to, and he wanted the old priest’s help, not his wrath if he killed these people.
The old grand master sighed, there was a frenzied desperation to the young intruder’s movements.
Huang Wu used everything he knew, trying to get to the old man. For every man he downed, three more took their place. His robes were soaked with perspiration and blood by the time the moon reached its zenith. Huang Wu’s heart sank lower and lower as he watched the moon’s movements. When was dawn? When will he reach the blasted priest.
More punches and blows landed as his concentration broken. More than once, he was the one that flew to the ground. But every time, he got up again and rushed at the priests. His black robes were turning dull red, caked with blood and mud.
“Stop!” The old man ordered as Huang Wu swayed on his feet, the fire in his eyes only burned brighter.
“Young master, if you wish for my help, why not ask politely? Lower your heart, and I will see if I can help.” The Old man said gently, “There are some things that can not be solved by force alone.”
Huang Wu clenched his already bloody hands. He was preparing for another round. The young buddhists looked at him warily, he’d already taken out half of the temple.
“Foolish child. Will you let your pride take away the one thing you are prepared to die for? Surely it is better to give up one path that brings you untold pain.” The old priest sighed, “Or will you suffer the consequences of your choices today?”
Huang Wu looked up at the greying sky, he had moments left. Lin Yu’s face flashed before his eyes. He wouldn’t risk her life, even if had to beg.
Then Huang Wu slowly fell to his knees, he had never knelt for anyone before. He was a prince of the near mythical Crow King, high above all demons in the realm. He only looked down on others and didn’t care what others thought of him. He had never needed to. But at that moment, with only one thought in his heart, he looked at the Old Priest and mouthed, “Need to save her.”
When Lin Yu awoke, she found herself in a tiny hut. She could hear the incandescent bird song outside, muted by the rustling of leaves. She looked around, confused. Slowly, she sat up.
“Lady, don’t move too much.” A wizened old man in the red and yellow robes of a buddhist priest said.
Lin Yu hissed and shrank back, like every demon she could feel the old man’s power.
The old man smiled reassuringly, “Your heart is pure, I have no reason to exorcise you. Please rest.” He got up, “I only stayed at the behest of your friend. You will be well enough to leave in a few hours. The city is only a few minutes away from here.”
Lin Yu looked around, the question apparent in her eyes.
The old priest’s smile was slightly awkward “A young man… asked me to help you. He was heavily injured but he carried you here and then left.”
“Who?” Lin Yu croaked, her throat felt like dry paper. She felt so weak, sleep was gnawing at her eyes, dragging at her eyelids.
The old priest shook his head, “I do not know. He never gave me his name.” With that he bowed and left the little hut as well.
Lin Yu frowned and slowly closed her eyes. She didn’t remember much from the past few hours. Yet she could remember the warmth of someone’s arms around her as they flew across the city. The last time she had felt the same warmth, she had been flying on the back of a crow prince. She didn’t realize it, but a tiny, tiny smile tugged at her lips as she fell back asleep.
Yu Zhu hid her godly powers as she flew to the earth, a streak of white light in the morning sky. She turned on the spot, gracefully landing like a falling plum blossom. She took a deep breathe and reviled in the sweetness of land. Here she was free of the infinte hoards of demons, the bland white endlessness where dark creatures were her only companions.
She opened her eyes and walked to the lake where her human self had died. A woman of breath taking beauty stared back at her. Yu Zhu could see her old features in this woman, but her human features were muted by the godliness. She frowned slightly and the air rippled around her. The image in the water changed, and Yu Zhu was back to her old self, beautiful but not as attention stealing as the goddess she had become.
She opened the palm of her hand and spoke a spell, a bright flame became a little tiger cub. It turned twice in her hand, opening its little mouth, meowed at her, it’s large eyes looking at her questioningly. “Go, find her” She said and gave it her memory of Lin Yu. The little cub head butted her palm, and padded to the ground, turning invisible so as to not scare the humans. Carefully, Yu Zhu turned herself invisible and followed, looking for traces of her sister.
After the goddess had left, Huang Wu stepped out from behind a tree. His face was dead white. His wound were slowly healing, helped by a balm that Doctor Li had given him before he left. He had seen the falling star, and knew that only powerful gods could make such a journey. Out of curiosity, he followed the star to this place.
But never in all his life would he have believed who he saw. She was different, more inhumanly beautiful, and so powerful that he could not guess the extend of her power. But that face, even if Yu Zhu had turned to dust he would recognize her.
She was suppose to be dead. He thought as ice filled his entire body. Hatred and fire filled his mouth until bitterness was all he could taste. This was the woman who caused Wei Yun to destroy the demon realms and his father. Thousands were dead because of her. This woman was the reason he was a weak human and a mute. She was suppose to be dead. She should die.
A thought at at him like a parasite that had found a new home, burrowing into his brain. He couldn’t erase the image of his dying father. It was his nightmare companion, playing in his head every time he closed his eyes. If only there was a way Wei Yun could experience the same pain, see the same kind of death on someone he loved. Huang Wu would do anything to make sure that happened.