Chapter 2 – Bloody meeting

Cover for chapter 2 made by David Aragón

20 years later, in a forest not far form the town Shinobe, the home of Ling Chang, the only child in the family of Chang. The sun was red as blood while it slowly raised in the horizon and its light gave life to many animals in the forest and all was at peace until it hit the face of Xiao Chang. He stood up form his position in the circle and watched over the other men who all looked at him nervously and with fear in their eyes. “My men” he started with deep strong voice “If I am going to die today, I would like to say it has been a honour training and fighting with you guys and before I go to my fight against the enemy in the circle of light not far from here, I would like you all to raise your cup for the emperor Jiang Chen and crown prince Jun Chen who have rule this kingdom in many great years” The men looked at him and some of the fear had disappeared from their eyes and they held up a cup “Ganbei” He yelled so loud that all the nearby birds flew as fast as they could away from the men. “Ganbei” the men yelled even louder back. He drank some of it and then held up his cup and threw the last drink the ground before he stood up and bowed to the men and the sun a last time. He looked at his men and picked his sword and started to walk against the circle of light which slowly became full of light in the sun. He stopped at the edge and looked over against the enemy soldiers who already was there on the other side. Three were on horses and if he not were mistaken, one of them was a girl or at least a very young woman. “Who would bring a girl to a fight like this and even less to an army” he thought for himself while he entered the ring and held the sword high before yelling “I, Xiao Chang, is ready for the fight against your lord as we agree less than 24 hours ago” his men started yelling wild and tried really to look fearsome even they knew that Xiao Chang could still lose the fight. The men on the other side split into two groups and in the opening a man appeared and started walking against the right while the men closed the gap again behind him. “I am ready to fight you too” he answered without revelling who he was but Xiao Chang could feel inside he knew the voice but he could not place it. They watched each other directly in the eyes while holding their hands on the swords and for a moment not a single sound was heard but as they pulled their sword and the first clank where here the men on the two sides went crazy. “Nice to see you again, your sword has not changed since last time” the unknown man started while they started walking around in the circle while figuring out how the ground was. “You know nothing about me” Xiao Chang yelled back but his eyes told otherwise. “Your eyes tells the truth” the other man continued and attacked but Xiao Chang blocked easily and they were back at they started. “Be quiet and I will kill you quickly” and almost before the words had left Xiao Chang’s mouth the other yelled back “You could not kill me last time” the reply made Xiao Chang lose focus as his started to think heavily about his opponent and it almost became fatal as in the next a sword flew through the air. Xiao Chang managed to block it in the last second but the hit was still too powerful to stop from reaching his neck. The pain awaken him again and he yelled “I don’t care of who you are and your mind games so lets fight” and the he press back the sword and soon lunched his own attack which hit the man near the shoulder but he did not mind the pain at all and only focused on getting ready for his own strike. The men around them started to become loud and the sky has also decided to cover the blood red sun with some dark clouds instead. Xiao Chang charged again but this time, the strike was too far off and the opponent was able to cut Xiao Chang in the leg. Xiao Chang started cursing of himself because even that the opponent had been quiet, he has still been able to control his mind. Xiao Chang closed his mind for a second to clean his mind but even that gave the other man chances and only a quick movement spared him from more cuts and injuries. “You are not getting away from here alive” the man said but Xiao Chang was just started and in the next he jumped out and his sword flew in the air and the man only just managed to take a step back to avoid it but Xiao Chang forced himself another yard and the man ended up taking his free hand to the face. Xiao Chang expected that to see blood and a man yelling of pain so he were almost already cheering with his men when a laugher started from the other man. “You have trained since our last meeting and when I heard that my weakling of an brother had made you, his most trusted general after all the damage you had done, I knew I had to find you first” he said before removing the mask that had hidden his true face and threw it on the muddy ground. Xiao Chang could feel the ice run down his back but tried to sound fearless and yelled back “Shi Chen, the emperor’s brother and a traitor of the kingdom, I will make you pay for every crime you have done your entire life” and then he attacked again and this time he hit Shi Chen and blood landed in the muddy ground and the dark clouds started to let rain fall. The men around them became all quiet as they all knew that only one was getting out that circle alive and there were not a single chance of one sparing the other. The rain continued to fall down in bigger and bigger drops, making the ground in the circle even more muddy but the two men was too focused on each other to care. “Thanks for the introduction, shall we continue our little fight or have you lost the spirit” Shi Chen finally said while covering the bleeding. “Ohh I am far from finished with you and I won’t stop until you are in two pieces” Xiao Chang replied and the attack again to seem fearless but this time the attack was blocked and Shi Chen force the swords back against Xiao Chang who sank a bit into the muddy ground before the swords reached his knee. “Arhhh” he screamed while trying to force the sword back against Shi Chen who had started laughing again. “Your screams has not changed a lot since we last meet… what? I cannot heard what you are saying” Xiao Chang had started to pray “Save my family, dear dragons” the prayer made Shi Chen laugh even louder before he removed his sword so Xiao Chang could escape the attack. “So you have gotten a family since our last meeting… luckily for you they won’t even know what hit them before it is too late” and then he nodded against a soldier who threw in two heads. Xiao Chang could feel the fear grow inside him when he watched it was the two men he had send to the town and the emperor’s palace in the middle of the night. “I caught those two sneaking past the river last night and thought they were yours so here they are” Shi Chen said while still laughing. “You… You will pay for that” Xiao Chang managed to reply while he managed to get free of the muddy ground and in the next he were up and charging against Shi Chen who looked surprised. In the next Shi Chen’s sword flew to the air and hit a branch a bit high up. The fear vanished as quickly from Xiao Chang’s face as it appeared at Shi Chen’s face. “Give me a sword” Shi Chen started yelling but not a single soldier in the ring moved neither the three on horse did. “Stupid men” he yelled and just as Xiao Chang was about to strike him down and turned around with a smaller sword in hand and quickly defended himself with it. “I knew you were cheating” Xiao Chang replied clearly with the upper hand in the fight. Blood started to appear all over Shi Chen’s body who know had a hard time defending himself. Suddenly a lightning ran over the sky and hit the tree with the sword in and the branch fell heavily to the ground and Shi Chen seemed saved but the branch landed right next to Xiao Chang who without much trouble remove the sword. He stood for a while thinking if he should give it back or not as he was not used being evil like Shi Chen. “Throw you knife out to the men and you can have your sword back” Xiao Chang yelled. “How can I know you are not going to trick me?” Shi Chen replied and Xiao Chang bend down and place the sword in the muddy ground before returned standing and walked away from it. “Because I have honour while you have none, take your sword now” Xiao Chang yelled and Shi Chen looked confused at him even he was a bit annoyed by the words about honour but accepted and threw his sword out to his men. He walked over to his sword and drew it from the ground “Let us finished this” and then he attacked like nothing had happen. They started dancing again but Shi Chen was hurt a lot from his time with the knife so he was slower than Xiao Chang. Xiao Chang lunched an attack but before he was could reach Shi Chen, he could feel a pain in his side. When he looked then Shi Chen has already managed to move behind him and strapped him in the same as many years ago. Xiao Chang fell to the ground with a scream and the fight seemed over but Shi Chen was not finished so instead of killing him, he jumped back while laughing “I am going to make you suffer once more like you did back in the day” The pain was unbearable for Xiao Chang who tried to stay standing as he could feel the worrying eyes from his men. Shi Chen attack again and this time he cut Xiao Chang above the chest so his screamed even louder than before. “Are you giving up” Shi Chen asked teasing while he jumped backing safety. Suddenly the rain stopped and Xiao Chang looked up in the sky while thinking “This is the end… I am not going to return to Ling Chang” and in the next he felt the edge of a sword once more. What happened next none of the men has expected as a bird had started to attack Shi Chen and drove him away from Xiao Chang who used the change to get standing. Just as he were up, the bird flew away from the still dancing Shi Chen and Xiao Chang attacked him without any sound to ruin the movement and he kicked the sword so hard from below that it flew up in the threes again and Xiao Chang expected it to return but some far more confusing happen. A man with the sword in his chest landed beside him and Xiao Chang got surprised but still raised his sword and yelled “Cheater” before he started to swing the sword against the head of even more confused Shi Chen. Just as the sword reach almost reached the head , he stopped the attack, not because he wanted but hand had suddenly died. He turned around to scream but it was too late, a rain of arrows flew thought the air and as he hit the ground he had five seating different place including the one in his shoulder. His mouth ran full of blood before he could scream and all he could do was watching the rain drops that has had started falling again hit his face while the screams from his men filled the forest. Suddenly Shi Chen’s face appears above him but even he is silenced by the arrows and he falls death to ground without a word. “This one is not death yet my brothers” a sweet voice said and the face of the girl who had been on the horse appeared just like Shi Chen had just before except she were very much alive. “Kill him like our father so the weaklings can go visit their gods” Xiao Chang tried to reply something but the blood in his mouth made it impossible. “I think he is trying to speak, brothers” she answer before Xiao Chang could feel a sword penetrate his chest. “Close your eyes and pray we won’t find your family in the town and please send our regards to our father as he was too weak to lead like our grandfather predicted” and slowly he felt his life run out while his tears and blood mixed with the rain.
In the meantime in the town Shinobe was Ling Chang awaking from her dreams and full of joy as the day was the day her father was coming home, so she almost jumped out of bed and ran out of the home and the town as they had agree to meet on a small hill with a tree not far from there. As she got there, she looked around to make sure no one was watching and when sure, she walked determent over to the tree and put her hand down a small opening of it and pulled out a beautiful sword. It was the family sword, her father Xiao Chang had given her it when he left last time because he thought it was time for her to have it. Her mother Lan Chang did not know, he had given her the sword as she was very careful with their only child, but she and her father had started training. Normally a girl her age would have been talking about marriage and stuff like that but her father had always wanted a boy so he had trained her even that it was against the norm. She started to swing the sword the ways her father had showed her months ago and now she had perfected it and were ready for new training. Back home the house was a mess as her mother Lan Chang had fainted doing breakfast leaving the servants all running around trying to clean up the mess while also taking care of her. As they finally got her back to bed, she opened her eyes and yelled “Xiao Chang” before going dark again. One of the servants started to look for Ling Chang but could not find her anywhere and in the next Lan Chang opened her eyes again and yelled “Ling Chang” which made the servant look even better for her and finally one of the servants remembered that she used to go on the hill outside the town. He left the house and started walking down the streets while looking calm at every man he meet as he did not want the town’s people to suspect a thing. The weather had also slowly turned from a lovely sunny morning to now a windy cloudy day. He reached the gates quiet easily as the town was not full of life yet and soon he had reached the hill where Ling Chang still were playing with her sword. “You have to return home” the servant said just as he reach the hill but Ling Chang did not care about what he said so she just continued her training because of the deal with her father. The servant looked as she continued before repeating with a bit stronger voice “You have to return home now” and this time Ling Chang looked at him and then replied with a firm “No” before returning to the training which made the servant go over his normal rules. “Your mother…” he started before Ling Chang broke in and replied “I am not going back home because of some bad weather when I have agreed to meet my father here” and then the rain started falling heavy there and even that the leafs on the tree covered them, they still got very wet. Ling Chang just continued her training like nothing had happened at all and the servant wanted to just grab her and take her away. “Your mother has…” and again Ling Chang broke in and answered “I do not care” which made the servant complete his sentence and continued “fainted and I am here because she calls for you and not because of some rain” As the words had left his mouth, Ling Chang had stop her training and the servant thought it was because of his words and was about to apologise for his pick of words when something happened. The sound was not too mistaken by the rain which started falling more heavy and soon the fear turned out to be true as an arrow hit just between them. The servant and Ling Chang looked at each other before another arrow hit not far from them and this time closer to Ling Chang. “We have to leave now, my lady” The servant spoke with hard words but the arrows had scared the soul out of Ling Chang who could not move at all. “Come here now” the servant yelled at her but she just stared like a doll and not even the rain could made her eyes close. A lightning crossed the sky and revealed more arrows coming their way and soon the little hill was almost covered in feathers from the arrows. A scream was heard and it woke up Ling Chang who looked at the servant but it was not him who had been hurt either. It were a woman who had been out of the town. The sight of the blood from her wounded leg made Ling Chang freeze again and the servant was ready but too slow. In the next an arrow penetrated the left leg of Ling Chang who broke down in screams, making it hard for the servant to take her but he managed and then he ran away with her as fast as he could. Arrows started flying against them and other people who were outside the gates who had come because of the screams. They reach the gate and just as he entered it with her on his shoulders, the gate were hit by three arrows and soldiers screaming outside was heard. The women who watched Ling Chang with her bloody leg started screaming or seat down to pray while the servant tried to come free of the masses that had appeared. The town was one big mess of people screaming so the servant could not get back or forward with Ling Chang so he decided to stop and look at her leg. “Sorry, but does it hurt when I do this my lady” and then he tried to remove the arrow which made Ling Chang scream of pain with tears almost bigger than the rain drops still falling. The servant pull his clothes in pierces as he knew they could not wait to they have reach home and then without warning he broke the arrow and pulled it out, making Ling Chang scream so loud that everything else silenced before all turned dark. “Don’t give up, my angel” Ling Chang heard a voice said and she looked around and the weather had become the sunniest weather. She got an eye on her father who was standing under the tree that they had agreed to meet and she were laying on the edge of the hill. “Father… I had a nightmare…” she replied with tears in her eyes and tried to stand up so she could run to him. “Don’t give up, my angel… I know it hurts” her father replied and in the same the pain in her leg returned and the tree had died with the weather also turning into rain again. “Father, I am scared” Ling Chang almost screamed of pain and mixed with horror when she noticed her father. “I know it hurts but don’t let it come in your way of doing great things” a corpse of her father and suddenly she were back in the town. “Wake up, WAKE UP” the servant voice yelling was the first in the mess of sounds that returned and when she looked around, she could see people laying everywhere who had been hit by arrows and in the rain she could hear soldiers being commanded. Ling Chang remembered her father’s words and with almost no care in the voice, she looked straight at the servant and replied “I am awaken” Just in time as the gate broke down and soldiers started running inside. The soldiers started searching the woman, laying on the ground with arrows pointing everywhere. “Help me up NOW” Ling Chang yelled at the servant who was still a bit surprised of her coldness and the broken gate. He took her and started running with her, but too late, the soldiers had seen them and started following the thought the streets. Suddenly the worst thing happen, the servant slipped on the muddy ground and fell with Ling Chang who tried to keep the pain inside but still screamed loud. Ling Chang was the first to stand again and she tried get the servant to stand too when she noticed the arrow in his back. “Go… Leave me… Go now, my lady” he said almost silenced by the rain. Ling Chang could feel the tears grow inside her and they grew bigger and bigger for each time, he pushed her away. “Leave me… my lady, get… home safely” and then the servant pushed a last time and she started moving the best she could with her leg hammering of pain and as reach the gate to her house, she heard the servant scream a last time. Ling Chang looked back and watched two soldiers coming closer and that the servant laid death on the muddy red ground. She turned back to the door and started hammering while screaming “Let me in” and in the next a servant opened the gate and pulled her inside the yard without knowing about her injury. Ling Chang screamed loud of pain and the servant almost drop her in fear when he noticed the blood. “Was… that me? My lady” he managed to say in the rain while a now awaken and confused Lan Chang appeared behind him. “No…” Ling Chang managed to say still screaming a bit of pain before her mother could react. Her mother looked at her, the injury and at the sword which Ling Chang had managed to transport back home too. “What happened my lotus?” the still confused Lan Chang managed to say. “An arrow hit me and the servant you sent to pick me up, took it out which made me dream about father” the word father made Lan Chang wake up from her confusion and she looked at her with big eyes. “Did you dream about him too” Ling Chang stopped screaming and looked at her mother confused “Yes, that was what I said” Her mother stood for a second and asked “Was he death in it?” Ling Chang could feel a pain grow inside her so she almost forgot her injury and her screaming stopped for good but she could feel her tears getting bigger and as she looked at her mother, she knew that her father was death. “Yes, he was” her voice almost died in the rain. Lan Chang looked at Ling Chang and her mouth opened but a heavy hammering on the gate stopped her sentence and instead she yelled “We are not giving up” and she heard the soldiers outside yell course words back. Ling Chang joined and yelled “My father is the general and he will come and beat you all” New sounds came from the outside and the hammering continued. Lan Chang looked at Ling Chang with seriously eyes and then spoke with a soft voice “We have to save you and warn the emperor” Ling Chang wanted to reply but the servants around her started going crazy. Lan Chang walked over and picked up the family sword and gave it to a servant. “Prepared the best horse” she said without looking away from the sword and as the servant disappeared from her side, she bend down to Ling Chang who was still on the ground with the blood red bandages around her leg. “Are you alright my lotus?” She replied while remove the bandages and a servant came with some new. Lan Chang did not know what to said but the tears started to run as she knew that her mother would not join her on the ride to the palace. “I… I… don’t… want to leave you” She managed to say while the tears ran faster and Lan Chang stopped her changing of bandages and took Ling Chang and held her close which for a moment made all the sounds disappear. The first sound that returned “I know… I know… my lotus” and then the rain came too. Lan Chang stopped her hugging and returned to the bandages. Ling Chang could see tears in her mothers eyes but was not sure if it were rain or real tears. The soldiers outside made more and more noise while a few screams also were heard. The bandages was more hard this time, that by the servant before but Ling Chang did not want to show the pain to her mother as they got tied. A servant appear but before he could say anything Lan Chang held a hand up and then she stood up before bending down and took up Ling Chang. “The horse is ready” The servant said as Ling Chang against her mother tried walking on her bad leg but the pain felt like hammers. They took it slow and as they reach the stables to get a bit cover from the rain Lan Chang looked at the servants “Leave us and prepare the gate” and the servants who had been preparing the horse ran out without a single word or look of fear. The sound of rain and the horse breathing was all that could be heard in the stables before Lan Chang took Ling Chang and put her on the horse. Lan Chang was the first to say something “I do not know if your father lives or not but you are the only one who can save more people from dying” Ling Chang could feel more tears come and wanted to say something but her mother put a finger on her mouth and continued “I am sorry that you have to do this alone but the horse cannot carry us both all the way to your emperor’s palace” She took a medallion off and hang it around the neck of Ling Chang. “Show this to everyone who stands in your way on the way to the palace” Ling Chang held up the medallion, it was the family dragon which had been the symbol of the family in ages. The soldiers was now more noisy than every before and Ling Chang knew it was time to leave. She could see her mother’s eyes filling with tears and the dry stable made it impossible for it to be rain. “Go now my lotus” she said and spanked the horse so it got wild and ran out of the stables. Ling Chang did not have a chance to saying anything and could only hold on and when she finally got control of the horse, she were already outside the house gate. “Mom” She yelled but the servants had already closed the gate. The rain started to rain even faster and she tried to get call again but her voice died when she noticed the soldiers closing in on her. “I never forget you or father” she said without any voice and made the horse going. But it was too late, the soldiers had found horses themselves and started following her thought the town now filled of death and smoke everywhere. “I have to get out” Ling Chang said to herself while moving the horse faster and faster until she reached the gate of the town. Enemy soldiers had blocked and started pointing at her as she got closer. “Get her” she heard some men yell but even with a bad leg, she could still handle the family horse and she speeded up and made the horse jump past the blockage and as the gate closed behind her, she were out in the open. She wanted to relax for a bit when her eye caught a girl at around her age on a horse too but before she got a closer look the woman yelled “Get her and bring her here now” and four soldiers started following her again. She quickly looked at the sun which was about to set to get a direction to go and then she made the horse go faster than before. The soldiers followed her and the day started to become night making it everything dark but Ling Chang knew the way better than the soldiers but still they were four against her alone. Suddenly an arrow flew thought the air and Ling Chang almost froze when she noticed it but she keep going and knew she had to find somewhere safe soon or the arrows would hit the horse or her somewhere worse than the leg like last time. Her eyes got sight on a forest and she knew that if she could reach it then they would not be able to use the arrows but just as she was about to turn against it, a laughter appeared behind her and only a quick movement made her avoid his grasp. The soldier was surprised by her movement but tried to grab out after her anyway, making her move quick again and this time she pulled the sword from the horse and without a nerve in her body she cut the throat. No scream were heard as it all had happened so fast and the blood disappeared just as quickly from the blade with the help of the rain and wind. Ling Chang turn around and the soldiers who followed her, did not seemed scared at all even they just had lost one and now there were only three left. An arrow flew thought the hair and Ling Chang turned around to avoid it, only to feel it playing her hair. She looked at forest again and this time no soldier was there to stop her from turning and she started to make way against the trees which had become darker and darker. Ling Chang looked behind to check if the soldiers was still following her and only two were left, giving her a short warning of what happened next. “Arhhh” she screamed as a man managed to grab her hair hard. “Let me go” she yelled next while trying to get free and still control the horse as the got closer to the forest. Ling Chang made the sword sing against the man but he was to of reach and the two remaining men started to slow down as they felt they had the upper hand now. Ling Chang got an idea and in the next she managed to cut of her hair with the sword, leaving the surprised solider with her black hair in his hands. Before he could try again, she turned around and this time there was nothing stopping her from attacking him and as he eyes closed she pulled out the sword from his belly again. She turned around to continue her travel but in the next a branch hit her and the horse hard. She tried to open her eyes but the pain had entered her body, making it impossible. She tried to move without but the muddy ground made seems like a river bed. A ice cold feeling ran down her back as she heard the remaining two soldiers laughing and appear fast on their horses. Splash it sad as the men stood off their horse and they walked over to Ling Chang who still tried to get up. “You won’t need this” a soldier said and she heard a sword that could only be her family sword get thrown though the air and before she could scream a soldier pulled her clothes in pieces. “Let… Me… Go…” she tried to say fearless but her body were shacking in the cold weather. “a beautiful medallion, you have… I better take that” a solider replied not caring about what she had tried to say. Suddenly a lots of birds started making sounds and the soldier who had been pulled her clothes in pieces had dropped her back into the mud. “Who is there?” The soliders yelled in mouth of each other, trying not to seem scared by the birds. No answer was heard and so Ling Chang tried to open her eyes again and this time she managed to get eyes on her attackers and her sword not far from them. “Let… me go” she tried with more force in her words this time and then she jumped up from the ground which surprised the soldiers but before she could attack she fell to the ground like the rain. “So it was you who made the little trick with the birds” a soldiers said laughing while he retuned to Ling Chang. Ling Chang almost no energy left and closed the eyes again, thinking about how she had failed her town and family by dying already after her mother’s great attempt of saving her. A small smile appeared at her cold face, at least she were going to meet them soon. Suddenly a splash not far from her was heard and a dry old voice yelled “Who owns this medallion” The soldiers turned again the noise and yelled “None of your business old man:” but the voice repeated “Who owns this medallion” and Ling Chang knew she had to use her last energy. “Mi… Mine” She managed to say from the muddy ground. She could feel the soliders release her from their gasps and by the sound of the muddy ground walked away from her and the horse. “We said, it was none of your business, old foul” The old man looked at Ling Chang who did her best to open her eyes to see the man. “Let me ask a last time, who owns this medallion” he said while looking directly at Ling Chang. Ling Chang feel a tiny bit of energy jump thought her body and she raised her body from the muddy ground and yelled with the last of her voice “It is my family medallion, the dragon who protects every one in need and it has been in my family for ages” before returning to the muddy ground with a big splash and she felt everything around her lose its meaning while turning noiseless and dark before the rain stopped giving her any feeling.

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