Jin, Huang Wu, Shan Ying Lang (respectively)
“Master Jin. Welcome back.” The voices of the magma nymphs were respectful and excited at the sight of the young man in red, his face covered with a black mask engraved in delicate flowers and vines. He flew into the entrance of the grand cave, a place that had been his mother’s home a long, long time ago.
Inside the entrance was a road paved with granite, warmed by the natural heat of the volcano. Ten carriages could pass through side by side on the opulent road. Instead, excited magma spirits stood watching the handsome young man walk down the great road to the heart of the volcano.
In the heart of the volcano was a grand palace made of black glass, its thick pillars were of pure diamonds, brought forth by the immense pressure of the volcano. It sat in a lake of lava. It was heat that could melt the human bone, but it didn’t bother Jin. As a child he had once swam in delight in deep pools of fire. The hundreds of thousands of fire spirits who lived were the descendants of his original servants.
Behind him was a red globe, two unconscious figures hung inside. They were both young men, one was dressed in the palace guards clothing of the Dian Kingdom, and the other in the clothing of the commoner.
These young men were none other than Shan Ying Lang and Huang Wu.
Jin walked towards the vast cavern that contained his home, and stretched a long hand out, “Protector of the Volcano, Did you do my bidding?”
A fireball the size of his palm flew towards Jin, the blue flame that bounced excitedly in his hand “Master, all the preparations are complete.” Jin nodded, a wicked smile on his lips, “Very good, Nan. It seems you have grown much more competent in the last three hundred thousand years.”
The Volcanic God, Nan, looked at the red globe that drifted behind Jin, never had Nan seen humans before.
Wait… Nan sniffed. These humans smelled strange. One definitely smelled like a wolf. The other…had the tiny hint of a demon smell. But it was so faint he couldn’t tell.
Nan looked at Jin curiously and back to the red bubble that contained the humans, “Master. I think you made a mistake…”
“Oh?”Jin bounced the blue flame up and down in his hand, “What mistake do you mean?”
Nan took a closer look at them, “Master, I know you have a fascination with humans but, if I were you, I would pick much prettier concubines than these two. You deserve better.”
A vein popped onto Jin’s forehead, as his long fingers suddenly gripped the flame tightly, “These aren’t concubines.”
Nan shook his head at his master, with a look of pity at his master’s tastes, “Then master, surely you don’t mean to bring them back as dancing girls. Our fire sprites are much prettier.”
Jin glanced at the flame spirit sidelong, “I I don’t mind snuffing you out. I was thinking of changing servants anyways.”
Nan quickly bobbed side to side, like a head the word “no”, and continued in a honeyed almost mournful tone, ” But I’ve been with you since you were born. Master is the best, he’s more handsome than the dawn and brighter than the flames of the Fire God.”
Jin rolled his eyes and continued his way to the palace, tossing the god of the volcano unceremoniously over his shoulder. The red globe floated behind him.
Once inside the black palace, the air was considerably cooler, Jin snapped his fingers and the red globe broke. The two figures inside were dumped unceremoniously onto the floor.
Both of the men opened their eyes and looked around, somewhat disoriented. They had seen just a shadow on the street and all of the sudden they were here.
The floor felt warm beneath them, the room was gilded in gold, the sturdy red pillars holding up a high ceiling of black obsidian.
In front of them sat a man, on a throne of red coral embedded in a mound of diamonds. His face held a confident, slightly snide smile. Handsome wasn’t the right word to describe him, for here was the perfect mixture of softness and hardness in his face. His eyes were like black coals laced with gold, set on face of angles and planes, everything about him screamed savagery and grace. But it was the same eyes that could chill a person to their very soul, because they held only destruction.
Jin looked at them for a moment and spoke, his voice curious, “Tell me, what does a wolf cub and a former demon have to do with one of the prophesied 3 half gods?”
The only answer he heard was silence.
“Oh don’t be so shy!” Jin said, his fingers tapping the throne, “You’re heroes. From what I’ve heard, it’s because of your two that Wei Yun’s deeds were known to heaven. It’s because of you both that half of heaven right now is helping bring order back to the demon world.”
Shan Ying Lang looked at Jin, “Who are you?”
Jin pointed to himself for a minute, apparently outraged that someone didn’t know who he was.
Nan, who had followed him into the throne room huff loudly, “My master is the best who has walked this planet, anyone with eyes would know this. He is the beautiful daffodil on top of a pile of dog shit, the quivering beauty mark on the jowl of a old cow, the–”
Nan suddenly crashed through the roof and out of the room at the flick of Jin’s finger, all the while yelling happily, “see how great and my powerful my master isssssssssssssssssss……”
Shan Ying Lang “…”
Huang Wu “…”
“I don’t know what that strange little thing was.” Jin said, his teeth a little gritted, but then his expression changed and he was back to smiling, “My name is Jin. And I am the Crown Prince of the Heavens.”
Shan Ying Lang and Huang Wu looked at each other, the confusion in their eyes clear as day.
“We’ve never heard of a Crown Prince of Heaven.”
Jin shrugged, “It’s not been official yet. But it’s in the works. The Emperor and I have had…disagreements.”
Huang Wu’s mind flashed, and he said mouthed slowly, no sound coming from his throat, “In my family there is a secret story about a cursed god. It has been passed down generation by generation, a story used to scare children into obedience. It is about a god named Jin, a killer far worse than Wei Yun. He was a destroyer of Gods, nearly all the half-gods in heaven and earth disappeared because of him. He nearly wiped out the entire Crow Clan.”
For a split second, the calm facade on Jin’s face broken, and it was just for a second. But Jin’s face again became smooth and implacable. It was so fast that Huang Wu thought he had made a mistake. He thought he caught one expression. Pain.
“Yes. I am that very Jin.” The man in red said nonchalantly, almost a little mockingly. Jin looked at Huang Wu closely, “You know if not for that arrogance I see on your face I almost wouldn’t have recognized what family you’re from.” He chuckled a little, “The crows were always the strongest clans, and they gave me a lot of trouble. But in the end I let a couple of them live. I’m merciful like that.”
Huang Wu didn’t know what to say, those things happened almost three hundred thousand years ago.
Jin looked at Shan Ying Lang and Huang Wu and spoke again. “Wei Yun has destroyed nearly a third of the demon realms, wiping out clans that were centuries of years old. His hands are soaked with the blood of the dead and dying. Do you not want revenge?”
“He’s going to die, isn’t that revenge enough?” Shan Ying Lang asked with disbelief.
Huang Wu said nothing, he wanted to rip Wei Yun to shreds with his bare hands. He wanted him to watch as the ones he loved die as he stood helpless. He wanted Wei Yun to suffer the unendurable agony that he had suffered.
Jin looked at Huang Wu, “Is it?” Huang Wu’s eyes were filled with pain
“What I want to know.” Jin continued, “Is why. Why did Wei Yun go crazy and attack the demon realms.” Jin grinned, “And I have a feeling that it has to do with the delicious new half god.” He wrinkled his nose.
“You all reek of her scent.”
Huang Wu felt as if someone struck a bell inside of his head. Yu Zhu. Was that who this stranger was talking about? He had thought long and hard about Wei Yun, when he was frozen in that cave, his days consumed with hatred and his nights filled with sorrow. The faces of his father, the faces of the dying haunt his dreams as he drowned in blood.
Jin didn’t miss a single expression on his face. His smile deepened, “So I take it that the half-goddess is someone who Wei Yun cares about?”
Huang Wu said nothing, but Jin didn’t need to hear the confirmation.
Shan Ying Lang looked from Huang Wu to Jin and back again. What were these riddles that they talked in.
Jin stood up suddenly and walked to Huang Wu with a speed neither of them could match.
“Speak up. Young Prince.” Jin touched a long, slim finger at the base of Huang Wu’s throat.
Suddenly Huang Wu felt the ragged pain of his throat leave, he took a deep breathe, something he hadn’t been able to do since Wei Yun locked him up in the Icy Caves.
His voice, soft, hoarse and dry as sand paper, but never the less audible rang though the magnificent hall. “Wei Yun. I think he loves her. She is called Yu Zhu.”
“Ahhhhh,” Jin said, his eyes a cold and cruel glint, “It all makes sense now. He wanted to hide her presence, and what better way to hide the birth of a new half-goddess than to commit atrocities in the demon realms. While all the eyes were on him. She would be safe.”
Shan Ying Lang frowned. Yu Zhu….that was the name of the dead princess of long ago. No. It couldn’t be the same person. It must be a coincidence.
Jin smiled brilliantly, “I can see that you are a bright young man of promise. How about, we make a deal.”
Huang Wu looked at him suspiciously, “What do you want.”
Jin played with a ring on his finger for a moment before opening his mouth again, “Why don’t I tell you both a story.”
Neither Huang Wu nor Shan Ying Lang knew how to reply, this man was hard to judge, hard to understand, and far too powerful for them to fight back.
Jin continued,” A long, long time ago, the Five gods of Creation, Nu Wa, Fu Xi, Lei Zhu, Pan Gu, and the Dragon Emperor each have powers that can shatter the world. When they finished making the realms as they are, they made a pact with each other that they would seal off a large portion of their power and hide it in this world. They placed their power in special artifacts with locks that only by the true owner of this world can unlock.”
Neither Huang Wu nor Shan Ying Lang interrupted. Jin’s eyes had a far away look as he continued.
“However, only the Dragon Emperor, in his greed, did not decide to do this. Instead he traded his power for the ability to steal the remaining powers of the creation gods. There is a third eye on his head, the pupil the color of blood that does this. However, to open it, he has to use nearly half of his powers to do so.”
Jin’s smile was sardonic, “While the Dragon Emperor secretly practiced this ability, the other creation gods were living blissful lives. Fu Xi was the first to fall in love with the Queen Demoness of the Fire Mountains. He loved her with all his heart, making her feel as if she was the most precious person in this world. But still, all the love in the world couldn’t keep her from betraying him. You see, before the Fire Queen was Fu Xi’s wife, she was a spy for the Dragon Emperor. Under his orders, she was to kill Fu Xi and wait for the Dragon Emperor to come and take his powers. To make sure that she would, the Dragon Emperor placed a spell that would kill her if she disobeyed.”
Jin’s smile was bitter, “The Dragon Emperor, in his cruelty and jealousy of Fu Xi’s sway over the people, wanted to take all the good from Fu Xi’s life. Before the Fire Queen had been Fu Xi’s wife, she had slept with the Dragon Emperor and was pregnant with the Dragon Emperor’s child.”
Huang Wu and Shan Ying Lang had never heard these stories, they looked at Jin in shock as he went on, “These gods were too trusting of the Dragon Emperor. So no one was on their guard when they went to a banquet the Dragon Emperor hosted, Fu Xi was killed when he tried to save his wife and Lei Zhu committed suicide. Nu Wa and her daughter were imprisoned but later rescued by Pan Gu. In the midst of it all, The Dragon Emperor absorbed Fu Xi’s powers and became more powerful. No one dared to challenge him. No one could.”
“The Fire Queen gave birth to a son, he was raised under the Dragon Emperor’s care, unknowing of his bastard history. He thought he was a prince when he was nothing but a chess piece. Until one day, the Dragon Emperor, when the Dragon Emperor deemed that he was useful, showed him his mother. The fire queen who had been imprisoned in the depths of hell. The Dragon Emperor told the fool that it was because no one was powerful enough to break through the prison, but if the four powerful artifacts were found, then something could be done.”
“The Dragon Emperor told the naive prince that his mother would be rescued if he was able to complete a few tasks. The foolish man agreed. The first task was to imprison any and all half-gods. You see, the Dragon Emperor was weary of the prophecy that the half-god child of the Creation God was the true ruler of the world. He told the foolish man the half-gods were planning a rebellion against the heavens and they planned to place the young man on the throne and kill the his father. The young prince grew very, very angry and promised that he would uproot these people and bring them to his father for punishment. He didn’t know that the Emperor of Heaven was using the blood of the half gods to become stronger. He didn’t know that the Emperor of Heaven kept hundreds of thousands of half-gods in a prison where every day they were pierced and bled just enough to keep them in an agonized state.
“So the young prince, under the banner of righteousness, brought the heaven to its knees. He killed gods who didn’t hand out the whereabouts of their half-god children. He was cruel and ruthless, under him, nearly half of the gods in heaven and the people on earth were wiped out. And he would have continued Until one night when he secretly visited his mother and learned the truth. She told him of his true birth and that his father had been using him all along.”
Jin’s smile never seemed to reach his eyes, even if he was more handsome than any man on earth, that smile made him seem like a monster that had crawled out of the depths of hell. “The emperor asked the young prince to complete two two other tasks. One was to find all the artifacts that held the powers of the Creation Gods. And the other was to kill a Nu Wa’s daughter.”
Jin looked at the two, “can you guess what the young prince did next?” He shook his head, “The young prince found the 4 artifacts but decided to hide them so the Emperor never got them. As for the child, he was sent to kill…” He grinned, “that’s a story for another time.”
Huang Wu knew that this Jin was the young prince of the story, he frowned, “So what happened to the young prince.”
Jin shrugged, “The young prince gave the Emperor fake Creation God Artifacts to trade for his mother’s freedom. Once the Emperor thought that he had the artifacts, he woke the spell which killed the Fire Queen. Since then, the young prince as been sleeping. Waiting for his chance.”
“His chance for what?” Shan Ying Lang asked, Jin looked at him as if he was an idiot.
“Revenge, chaos, destruction… take your pick.” He said casually, “And you both will help.”
“And why would we do that?” Shan Ying Lang asked, his frown deepened.
Jin’s eyes never left Huang Wu’s face, “Because I can give you power and I can give you the one who nearly destroyed both of your families. You can toy with him as you please. You watch the light of his eyes go out as you destroy everything that he loves.”
Huang Wu’s eyes flashed with bloodlust. Shan Ying Lang looked uncertain. Blood for blood, he had never been close to his clan nor did he care about revenge. But he saw the hatred in Huang Wu’s face with alarm. He didn’t dare convince him or Jin otherwise, he wasn’t strong enough, he would stay here, try to talk some sense into Huang Wu.
Shan Ying Lang knew that if he tried to leave now, Jin would kill him.
Huang Wu smiled, “What do you need from us?”
Jin smiled as well, a smile as every bit as frightening as Huang Wu’s “I like you, young crow prince.” He continued to Huang Wu, “I want you to get close to Yu Zhu, find out her plans. Become her friend. Make sure that she will become useful chess piece in my game with the Emperor. When the time comes, I will pit them against each other and reap the rewards.”
It’s nice to be back on schedule, though I feel like I need to clarify how powers and magics work in this story, when I get my thoughts in process about that, I will definitely let you guys know. I know everyone’s eager to see the people in the mortal realms but this is a pivotal moment in Huang Wu and Shan Ying Lang’s life, and I love these two even if they aren’t main characters (ish).
Oh, and Wei Yun, he’s about to show up in the next few (say 2) chapters. Yu Zhu’s change has been pretty drastic and it bring up the idea of whether or not we can truly change who we are after going through such dramatic events. Or is there some intangible core that makes us what we are, no matter what we go through.
As for Lin Yu, what do people think of her and Zhuo Hao? I think he’s adorable but if he want’s to fight for Lin Yu’s heart, he’s got a worthy adversary in Huang Wu.