Chapter 1 – Heir

Cover

The sky was full of stars and not a single wind to ruin it. Two horse slowed down in front of a mighty gate to the emperor’s palace. The riders stood off the horse and quickly some men came and took care of the horse while others opened the door for them. It was Jiang Chen, prince of the emperor and Xiao Chang, his most trusted friend and bodyguard. They walked though the halls and rooms in the palace until they reached a heavily guarded room, the guards quickly noticed who they were and stepped aside before opening the door. The room was dark, only light up by the moonlight from outside. The room was empty except for a man and a bed. “Nice to see you, brother Shi Chen” The standing man looked at the men and did not say a word but another dry coughing voice replied “Is… it… you… Jiang Chen?” And quickly Jiang Chen moved to the bed and bent over the man while holding his cold hands. “Yes, Father, it is me… can I bring you anything?” The eyes of the old man in the bed meet Jiang Chen. “No… As long as you are here, then nothing else matters.” A silence followed and the only sound heard was an owl outside in the moonlight hunting. Shi Chen broke the silence. “Do you mind sending out Xiao Chang, so we can be alone when father dies?” He asked in a simple voice that was not sure if it should sound sad or angry. Xiao Chang bowed to the men and left before Jiang Chen could say a word. “It is getting dark in here” Bai Chen replied and started to held the hand of Jiang Chen tighter and Shi Chen started to move closer to his father from the other side too. “I love you both so very much even… it was hard for me to lose your mother when she gave birth to Jiang Chen” Tears started to fill the three men’s eyes as they all knew that this would be the last night they had together. “I… have… a… final request” Bai Chen said as his breath got more and more heavy. “I… I… am giving…. The kingdom to you…” “Yes father, we know that the kingdom to me” Shi Chen broke in. Bai Chen closed his eyes for too long after Jiang Chen mind to return so he turned against Shi Chen and yelled “You prevented a father from speaking his last words”, Shi Chen was prepared and yelled back “Maybe, but at least you got here before he died while I have been with him the past week” Jiang Chen was about to yell back once more when he felt his father hand trying to make him stop. “I… am… not death… yet, you fouls” Bai Chen broke in and continued “You act like a group of babies trying to get the last toy…” “Sorry father” Shi Chen and Jiang Chen said in unison voice while there were still lightning shooting between their eyes. “As… I was trying to say… I am giving the kingdom to… Jiang Chen instead of you, Shi Chen… because you always have been so power hungry” Shi Chen’s face became more and more red and yelled “How could you” but before his words had left his mouth was Bai Chen breathing gone and his eyes closed a last time. “I cannot believe it” Shi Chen continued. Jiang Chen focused on his father and blocked out every sound and noise coming from Shi Chen. His eyes grew bigger while getting filled with tears both of pride of his father’s decision and his death.
Outside the room where Xiao Chang talking with the guards while enjoying the quiet and not being part of the mess inside the room. “I think the old lord is death now” he said to the guard and continued “Maybe you should go get the priest…” he wanted to say more but his senses started alarming and instead he opened the door with such power that it ruin the hands and he had to throw it on the ground to pull his sword. The guards tried to stop him as they did not understand what he were doing but the only one high sound where heard a “clank” and the next was a mix of screams in pain and anger. Jiang Chen looked up from his father and noticed the sword for a guard entering the side of Xiao Chang while Xiao Chang’s sword had missed his back with a few inches. “What happe…” he said before another “clank” was heard and he turned around and noticed it was Shi Chen who tried to strike him down. “Our father has been death for less than a minute and now you are already trying to kill me, your own brother, just because father gave me, your position” Jiang Chen replied and looked blaming at his brother who was having a fire in his eyes who calm for a second while he answers “I am sorry, brother… where are my manners… hand over the title of the emperor to me and I promise to let you, your family and that dog Xiao Chang leave the palace alive” Jiang Chen was about to give it so thought but before he could even answer the fire in Shi Chen’s eyes returned and he stroked again and this time he had the former guards on his side so they tried taken care of Xiao Chang by attacking him even more. Xiao Chang looked for a second at his best friend and now emperor who gave him a nod in acceptance and just as the first blood for his wound hit the wooden floor he spun around and started fighting while Jiang Chen pulled his and got ready to fight his brother. The swords started clanking against each other like small fire works and even Xiao Chang was hurt, he did a great job defending himself and Jiang Chen. “Why can we not be friends and I am sure this was why father did not want you to have any power?” Jiang Chen yelled of Shi Chen and continued fighting while the once clear sky had turned dark and rain falling in heavy drops. “You have both broken my heart and I do not want to be part of this family anymore” A guard fell death to the ground so now it was more fair teams but the fight was far form over. Suddenly the room was light up by a lightning and for a second the rain stopped before an ear deafening thunder rolled across the sky. “Guards” yelled Shi Chen hoping to get more help and Xiao Chang looked worried at Jiang Chen but as the next guards entered where loyal to Bai Chen so they could not make themselves hurt a son of him. “Attack them” Shi Chen yelled off the guards who just stood still and even the guard that had been fighting at his side moments before had stopped and was just watching him with his sword on the ground. “They killed the emperor Bai Chen” which made even Jiang Chen about to speak up but the guards just kept still and looked at him. “Shi Chen, I hereby arrest you for treason against the former emperor and the new one… I suggest you follow me quietly or you might not see the sun again” the highest guard said before he pulled his sword. Shi Chen could not believe his eyes, he has been the next inline less than an hour ago and now he was taken away like some animal just because he could not handle that his younger brother was the new ruler. But he follows as commanded. “I will return and take my rightful place brother and you, Xiao Chang, will be placed in the darkest cell I can find and then you will stay there with your family” The guards just looked at Shi Chen ignoring his words. “I did not ask for this brother” Jiang Chen answered and look him directly in the eyes. “I knew nothing about our father’s plans but I can see why he did it as your hunger for power is as much as a normal mans need for air… Guards would you mind taking him away and makes sure his son is also taken the same place” The highest guard nodded and they continued out of the room when suddenly An Chen walked past with Jun Chen in her hands knowing nothing about the events that had just happened. “Jiang Chen, come here and help me make your son sleep again… No wait stop” but it was too late Shi Chen has taken a sword form a guard and was now holding it against a terrify An Chen with him behind her, using her as a shield. Shi Chen was the first to speak after the turn of events. “Let me and my family go or I will kill your wife and child” Xiao Chang looked at Jiang Chen who was speechless, making him take the command “Guards, on behalf on Lord Chen, I request you to stand down and let him leave so back away slowly” His eyes watched as the men one by one laid down their swords and soon he was the only one with a sword. “You too” Shi Chen yelled with anger in his voice and Xiao Chang dropped his sword like the others. Shi Chen slowly and calm walked past the men who did nothing else then following them with their eyes. Xiao Chang was the first and only who moved after him and followed him out of one room into the next one until they reached the throne hall. “This will be mine, soon enough” and a mighty thunder rolled in the sky with the rain falling more and more heavy. Jun Chen started crying again but the knife against An Chen made it impossible for her to take care of him. “Please lord, let me stop him from crying, I am sure that you are free to go now” She wanted to say more but Shi Chen just held the knife closer to her neck and yelled “Silence, you of all should know how your husband is” and then they walked out of the hall and walked out into the heavy rain which quickly ruined their clothes. A lightning crossed the sky with no thunder to follow and revealed the iris of a man, Xiao Chang. “Are you here to stop me?” Shi Chen yelled before the thunder made everything else silent. “No, I am here to return the empress and crown prince to my master and lord Jiang Chen” Shi Chen looked at him like he had seen death coming and yelled “No, you want to kill me” and pushed to An Chen to make her move faster to the stables but the muddy ground made it hard for her to move in her clothes. Shi Chen’s face became more and more red and the rain made everything look even worse. A lightning crossed the sky again and thunder followed quickly which a heavy win that opened the gate to the palace. “The gods have allowed you to leave this place” Xiao Chang said to try calm down Shi Chen who just got even more furious and pushed even harder to An Chen who almost dropped Jun Chen. “Move now” Shi Chen yelled but An Chen could not move at all in the mud. “You are working with him, trying to stop me from escaping and make sure they capture me” He said before he slowly moves the sword closer to the neck of An Chen. “Stop it, they have nothing to do with it, so let them go in peace, this is your final warning.” Xiao Chang yelled and Shi Chen face become even more red and he pushed the sword closer to An Chen’s neck. In a quick movement was Xiao Chang next to An Chen and used his left hand to cover her neck from the sword while using the other to push Shi Chen away but he was to wear from his wounded side to do much as Shi Chen just pushed him and An Chen away who landed in the muddy ground with a big splash. Jun Chen flew but Xiao Chang was quickly up to catch him before he broke down again in pain. “Take… Take… care of him” an almost gone voice asked in the rain and as Xiao Chang finally reach An Chen, she were just watching the sky while blood ran out and mixed with the muddy ground. “No, no, no, this is not happening… please let her live” he said while Jun Chen started crying loud. “Take me instead” He yelled before the screams of Jun Chen got too loud for him to bear. “I am sorry, it was all my fault, little one” he said while holding Jun Chen into him and covering from the rain. Suddenly a horse whinny in the back and only a quick movement saved them both from the wrath of Shi Chen who had found a horse and was not riding for the gate. Xiao Chang thought quickly and turned around with a force and throw a knife again Shi Chen as a last attempt to revenge An Chen and his mistakes but the knife only brush the check of Shi Chen. “You cannot hide who you are anymore” Xiao Chang yelled while Shi Chen kept disappeared out of sight while the rain continued to fall heavy. Finally some soldiers and guards appear in the stables and yard, but there were no sight of Jiang Chen. “What took you so long?” Xiao Chang half crying half yelling but no of the men answered him so he stood up with Jun Chen in his hand while his blouse became more and more red. He started to walk inside again becoming more and more slow for each step as the pain grew higher and higher inside. As he reached the throne hall, he finally meet Jiang Chen who was still broke about what happened with his brother and his face did not get better when he noticed only two had returned. Xiao Chang fell on knees and handed over Jun Chen to Jiang Chen in silence who took him and held him into his chest while warming him with his clothes. “Arhhh” Xiao Chang yelled of pain before continuing “I am sorry my lord, I could only save one, the other is… is…” he felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up in tearful face of Jiang Chen. “Death in the yard” he said before the pain almost took him out but he tried to stand firm. He took forward a new knife and pointed it as his wound in the side “I have failed you my lord” he said and pressed the knife against the wound but something held it away. “You have not failed me” Jiang Chen spoke with a sad voice which made it hard to know if he was angry or not. “You have saved more than any other of my men could have done, and you blocked a strike from my brother even you was told to wait outside, thank you for that so please no more blood today” Xiao Chang released the knife and wanted to stand but his injuries made him kiss the ground instead and the last he heard was “Help him…”

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