（photo courtesy of 2366.com)
The Demon Realms
Wei Yun’s steps echoed in the giant ice caverns of the Grey Mountains, he was a glowing dot in the vastness of the icy blue caves. He took out the ball of white fire that contained Huang Wu and released it. The crow prince lay on the floor shaking, he had wasted most of his power trying to break out of Wei Yun’s prison.
A jet black sword appeared in Huang Wu’s hand as he unsheathed his wings and rose in the air. Wei Yun didn’t even move as the crow prince dived for the god. In the last second, Wei Yun grabbed the black sword by the blade, and pushed back, breaking the sword into a thousand pieces. Huang Wu was thrown into a mighty stalagmite.
Heavy stone and ice cracked as the young man fell to the icy floor. Shaking Huang Wu got up. He spat out a mouthful of blood and rushed towards Wei Yun, murder in his eyes.
Wei Yu drew out a thread of power, it flew faster than a whip. It bound the young crow in an instant. Huang Wu struggled for a moment before blasting it with his magic.
“Stop.” Wei Yun ordered, “if you use anymore you will overextend and kill yourself.”
“Burn in hell, bastard!” Huang Wu screamed as he flew into the air, his black wings carrying him faster than the eyes could see.
Wei Yun’s eyes glowed white and he blasted Huang Wu with pure magic. The young man screamed as he once again crashed into the cavern’s wall. His back broke instantly Wei Yun quickly drew out a tendril of icy magic, it flowed like water to Huang Wu, healing him of most of the injuries.
Huang Wu laid there, bloody tears falling out of the corner of his eyes, the blood stopped flowing from various cuts. Huang Wu’s hands clawed into the icy ground.
Huang Wu gritted his teeth and pull himself up. Wei Yun held up a hand and the young crow man rose into the air. Wei Yun’s face was a mask of indescribable emotions as he gestured, from, Huang Wu’s human body out flew the shape of a crow, silvery and ghost like, it drained out of Huang Wu’s body, slowly into Wei Yun’s palm. Huang Wu’s screams of pain echoed in the great cavern.
Wei Yun sighed, “Of all your brothers, you are the only one with the gall to go and alert the Gods.”
Huang Wu’s screams subsided and rasped out, through cracked “What’ve you done to me?”
“I’ve take away your magic and true demon essence.” Wei Yun closed his fist over the light, “you are without power.” Gently, he set Huang Wu down.
Wei Yun blew into the air and white magic encircled Huang Wu, “This will keep others from finding you, or you harming yourself. Don’t worry, you will be safe.” The ground shook and white crystals shot up, around the crow, trapping him within.
Huang Wu snarled, “Lies. You’re keeping me hostage to control my brothers” as the crystals grew to encase his waist. It climbed higher and higher without stopping. Wei Yun said nothing and turned away to the giant opening of the cave as Huang Wu screamed at him,”You wait. Every ounce of blood you spilled, I will drain from you. I will make you feel pain seven fold.” The crystals fully encased the young man, freezing him in that moment in time, trapping him in its icy heart.
Wei Yun’s clear eyes were downcast, he whispered as he walked out of the cavern, “One day, I will gladly take your punishment.”
(Photo courtesy of Sina Weibo)
Yu Zhu was well trained in martial arts, she knew that she could not be the first to make a move. For one thing the girl she was holding was shivering like a cat. With her eyes on Zhu Zhan Ye and her hands full, this was a sticky situation.
Zhu Zhan Ye rushed at her. Yu Zhu swiftly blocked his sword with her dagger. It was a mistake for her to get to close, body to body fighting was for those equally matched in height and physique. She was a head shorter and much thinner than this Zhu Zhan Ye. He took this opportunity to punch her stomach. Yu Zhu thank the stars she wore padded armor, or its her ribs would be broke by now.
“Are you a woman? Or just an underfed man?” Zhu Zhan Ye insulted as he traded blows with the Midnight Thief, Yu Zhu nearly dropped her sword in rage. She had bounded her chest and thickened her waist to look more manly. She said nothing, not allowing herself to be distracted by his acerbic words. The fought until each was soaked in blood and sweat.
She inwardly cursed for having to juggle the gold that turned into feathers, the girl and the infinitely annoying Zhu Zhan Ye. On a normal night, she probably would’ve gotten rid of him already, or if she was truly desperate blasted him with magic.
But the hour was up, the feathers might turn back into gold any moment, she and the girl would fall to their deaths, buried under a ton of gold. Her magical and mental powers were fully focused on prolonging the spell right now. If she tried to set the girl down, the child might fall off the roofs and break her neck.
She ducked and struck back, nicking Zhu Zhan Ye’s arm with her dagger.
Zhu Zhan Ye’s breathing became labored, his old war wounds were opening again. The war had caused him untold internal damage, if he fought too long he risked dying from internal bleeding. He needed to end this quickly.
He saw an opening and lunged, putting his Qi into the leap. The sword struck true and sank deep into Yu Zhu’s shoulder. In that moment Yu Zhu mental concentration on the spell nearly broke, the feather’s weight shifted suddenly and her knees buckled. She stumbled away, losing her grip on the girl in the process. Yu Zhu fell and rolled down one roof and landed on another, struggling to keep the magic going.
Zhu Zhan Ye smile, and jumped down. He was gasping for breath and could feel the trickle of blood down his arm. He raised his sword, about to pierce the Midnight Thief’s heart.
An arrow flew through the air and struck the sword, knocking it out of Zhu Zhan Ye’s hand. Another narrowly missed him. Zhu Zhan Ye raised his sword and blocked three more.
A grey masked figure jumped in front of the Midnight Thief, a bow in one hand and a knife in the other. The masked figure struck at Zhu Zhan Ye quickly, hitting him exactly on his deepest wound on the shoulder. Down he went, the pain shooting like lightening through his body.
The grey masked figure picked up the Midnight Thief and jumped from the room.
“NOO!” Zhu Zhan Ye gasped, but it was too late, the two had disappeared. After a moment, Zhu Zhan Ye picked up his sword, cursing his luck and the Midnight Thief. He heard a sniffling sound and whipped around. In the deepening night, the sounds was faint, almost muffled by the darkness. Zhu Zhan Ye squinted.
A figure, huddled in thick cloth was shaking on the roof above the one he stood on. Zhu Zhan Ye leapt onto the roof, wincing in pain. He carefully approached the shivering figure and pulled off the cloth. Doe like eyes stared at him, too frightened to even move. It was a young child, her mass of black hair fell over her paper white features, she had tear streaks down her face. Her hands covered her mouth as if she was trying to mask her screams. She had a bruise from her face to neck.
Zhu Zhan Ye was stunned. He felt a surge of anger from his belly to his throat, ” That. Monster.” He snarled, and quickly threw his own cloak onto the shivering little girl in bridal wear. “Did the Midnight Thief do this to you? Is he kidnapping you to be his bride?” He asked as he picked the child up, “You’re safe now. No one will harm you. I’ll make sure you get back to your parents. But first, let’s get you to a doctor.”
With that Zhu Zhan Ye headed down the roof with the child in tow.
The Border Between Dian and Yue
Hua Er woke up to the clacking wheels of the carriage. She looked around sleepily, no quite sure where she was.
She sat up and looked at her surrounding. She was moving in a giant, luxurious carriage, inlaid with gold and ivory. And then she realized what Xu Long Hui had done.
“Curse that lily faced lying imperial sneak with a heart as black as tar. ” She yelled in frustration as she looked down, there was an iron chain on her foot connected to the carriage.
“Your highness.” A maid’s head poked in, seeing the pure rage on Hua Er’s face, quickly withdrew. A moment later, Shan Yin Lang climbed into the carriage.
“He asked the maids to remove all your weapons before you got here. You can’t throw anything at me.” He sighed as he sat down beside her, “How are you feeling?”
Hua Er glared at him stonily, “Great.” She snapped as she yanked at the chain, “As well as can be.”
“He would just tie you tighter next time if you tried to escape.” Shan Ying Lang said, “What’s the point of trying to go back, you know how he will end.”
Hua Er’s smile was bitter, “What you’re saying is that all people die, what’s the point of living?” She looked at Shan Ying Lang, “It’s not about how it ends, it’s about who you’re with when it happens.” She pleaded with her eyes, “And I want to be by his side no matter what.”
Shan Ying Lang sighed, “I have my orders from the Emperor. Even if he is pig-headed, I have to listen to him.”
Hua Er wanted to argue, but another head poked in, “You know, if I knew that rescuing you all those years ago means I have to travel, I would have had second thoughts.” The man came in and quickly closed the carriage doors.
Hua Er blinked at the man, “Doctor Li Sun?” She whispered. The doctor who had rescued her so many years ago brightened and smiled warmly, “You remember!”
He looked at Yin Lang, “She remembers me! Imagine, a great personage like a princess remembering someone like me” He smiled and nodded to Shan Ying Lang.
Yin Lang rolled his eyes, “who can forget like you. You’re too happy all the time.” Hua Er looked at the two, “You know each other?”
Yin Lang nodded, “Li Sun and Xu Long Hui are friends, and thus I became friends with Li Sun.” He glared at the youthful doctor, “If Li Sun hadn’t saved my life so many times on the battlefield, I might have killed him out of annoyance.” As he said it, he took out a piece of paper from his pocket. Li Sun casually handed him a pen.
Li Sun shrugged, “If I didn’t like you, I would’ve put laxatives in your tea so that you spent the better time of your wars pooing, not fighting.”
Hua Er shook her head as she looked at Li Sun, “Why are you here, doctor?”
Li Sun and Ying Lang looked somber, “The emperor worries about you. I’ll be in charge of you health from now.”
Ying Lang nodded grimly, “and I’ll look after your safety.” while busily writing on the paper. Scribbling as fast as he can.
Hua Er was confused but she played along the to two men’s strange antics, “That foolish man. He sent the best of the empire with me. What will he do now that he’s alone?”
“I wouldn’t worry about him right now.” Li Sun said with a brittle expression. He gestured to Shan Ying Lan to write faster, there was strange panic in his eyes now. Shan Ying Lang laughed heartily as if all was well as he handed Hua Er the paper.
Hua Er’s heart sped up as she read what he wrote.
Hong Yan Su. Assassins. Nightfall Ambush. We need to leave now.
Hua Er nodded as she quickly folded the paper. Shan Ying Lang handed Hua Er the poisoned knives she was famed of carrying. She stowed them away in their usual hiding places, with an angry smile.
Haughtily she ordered, “I’ve had enough the carriage clacking about. I demand we stop right now and rest.” The carriage halted. The three looked at each other, it was now or never.