Chapter 3 – The old man

Cover for chapter 3 made by David Aragón

The sun raised slowly in the east and Ling Chang woke up in her bed. Ling Chang looked confused around in her room and out the window. “Had it all been a dream” she thought to herself before she jumped out of the bed and got dressed. As she was about to open the house gate and run out to the hill, she noticed that her father horse was already there so she ran back inside and sure enough he and her mother was eating breakfast together. “You are home?” She said while trying to hide her dream from them. Her father looked at her and smiled “Yes, my little lotus… I could not wait to see you all again so I returned last night but you were fast asleep so did not want to wake you.” Ling Chang could feel her eyes fill up with tears in a mix of joy and sadness. She ran over and hugged him while her mother still sat nearby quietly. “I planned to go to the hill and show you what I have learn the last 3 months” it flew out of Ling Chang’s mouth. Her father looked at her and then nodded “Let us go” Ling Chang was super happy that it had all been a dream so she ran too fast for her father to follow. As she reached the hill, she felt a warm on her back that she had never felt before so she turned around and all the entire town and everybody in it had turned into fire and death. “It is alright” she heard her father’s voice said and as her eyes found found him in the mess, he still looked alive. “I am sorry for being able to protect you and your mother” he said as he came closer. Ling Chang wanted to scream but her father reached her and held gentle a hand on her mouth. “Don’t worry, child… even that all this might look bad then we are doing great… I am just trying to scare your soul so you won’t join us yet as your mother have sent you on a mission” Ling Chang was relived and confused on the same time as how could her father know about her being sent to the emperor’s palace by her mother when he was not there. He removed his hand to let her speak “I am no hero but I will revenge you” she replied and suddenly both her mom and father stood in front of the town. “Never forget, that we love you, more than everything else on this earth” and before Ling Chang could reply a big flame covered them and the town from her eyes and she woke up looking directly into a fireplace.
The warmth from the fire and the cold from the rain made her body unfordable and she wanted to scream when she suddenly remembered that what had happen and even she was still alive there was no reason that her saviour was good or evil. She looked away from the fire and tried to figure out where she was so she could escape but the first object that caught her eye was the man seating against a tree on the other side of the fireplace with his horse right behind him and what worse, she could see her family medallion around his neck. “There is no chance that I can escape without that” she thought to herself while she tried to figure out what to do now but the pain from her body made hard to think and as rain kept hitting her, it just got worse and worse. “What would my father do” she thought while trying to forget the pain and remember the good things instead. She yawned “I cannot sleep…” she managed to think before suddenly her eyes closed again before she even noticed how tired she were. It was all dark but slowly the light started to come for each rain drop that hit her painful body. Suddenly all turned dark and the pain disappeared , leaving her alone in the darkness. “Help me” she tried yelling in the dark but the words just echoed between her and nowhere. She started walked against the place where the words returned from and noticed a gate very similar to the one back home. She looked around a for a minute but there were nothing else in the darkness so she decided to try opening and at first the light broke the darkness making her feel more safe until the door revealed that the light came from the town burning. She were almost hit by a burning piece of the door and as she looked up, she could see that the gate was burning up and she had to pick if she wanted the fire or the darkness. Just as she had decided the wood started following and she were now looking around in the burning town. She wanted to scream again but this time, a hand covered her mouth and as she tried to get free from it, more appeared and soon she was covered in hands so only her eyes and noise was free. “You did this to us” a mixed female and male voice said loud like it was inside her head as the hands had also covered her ears. “Who are you?” She thought while trying to find the person who spoke “I am everybody and I am nobody” the voice answer prompted. “Where are you?” She thought and not long after the voice replied “I am everywhere and I am nowhere” Ling Chang decide to try thinking without letting the voice know her next question before she was ready herself but the voice just continued “You cannot hide from me, no matter what you do or where you go” the voice said while slowly dying out and the hands disappeared one by one too until she was back at the fire place, in the rain. Ling Chang looked around not sure if she were still in dreamland or the real world even with the fireplace and rain. The old man behind the fire did not seem to have moved between her dreams but the rain was not as heavy anymore. “Are you awake?” A dry voice suddenly said giving Ling Chang a set and the movement made her entire body scram of pain. “Arhh” she yelled but before she finished the old man were at her side cover her mouth, making her want to scream even more because of the dream but the dry voice returned “sorry, but those people who followed you, might have friends searching for them or you” Ling Chang looked at the old man and their eyes connected for a second before the old man removed his hand and moved them to her neck. “I think this one is yours” and before Ling Chang could say something he had removed the medallion from his neck and started to give her it. She differed her pains and left up her head to make it easier to come on. “I know your dragon but guess you want to rest with all those injuries” Ling Chang liked his calmness and respect but with two dreams so fast after each other, she did not want more sleep so without think she just replied “No more sleep for me” in a hard voice. And in the next she found herself apologizing “Sorry I did not mean it that harsh” the old man just nodded in the last rain drops before seating down on the other side of the fireplace. “So what brings a Chang on the run from soldiers” he said with his normal dry voice and Ling Chang looked at him with big eyes and she wanted to run but her pain made it impossible and something told her that she had been death by now if he had not saved her and if she was supposed to be death then it would have happen a long time ago. “How do you know I am Chang?” She answered before replying his question “Shinobe is under attack or it were when I left the place” her thoughts of her parents and the remaining made it hard for her to talk of it. The old man was silent for a while before replying “I am sorry for your loses and I will help you revenge them when the time comes, but now you have to tell me everything you know that happened” Ling Chang looked at him as he had not answered her question on how he knew her without knowing her in person but she was starting to feel safe around him, so she started to tell her the story from the beginning of the day all the way to waking up the second time but she avoided the dreams. They were still too tough to talk about so instead she just pretended she had been sleeping the entire time. The man was silence for a while after the last words of her story had left her mouth and then he stood up with a quick movement. He looked at her before finally replying “Do you know how long you have been out?” Ling Chang just shake her heard slowly to prevent too much pain. “You have been sleeping for about 8 hours meaning we have to rush to the emperor to have a change of preparing them of what comes. By the way sorry, my name is Hui Wen, a former assassin to the emperor and grandmaster of Xiao Chang your father” He started walking over Ito his horse and slowly took it over to Ling Chang who still laid down on the ground.“My father was never an assassin, he was the emperor’s most trusted general and the dragon medallion is going to get me inside anywhere” Ling Chang said before Hui Wen managed to calm his horse and hold a hand around her mouth. “I know that, but the rest of the normal world don’t need to know that especially now when you have enemies” he whispered into her ear before letting go of her mouth. Ling Chang felt stupid now that she had been yelling of him and was about to said sorry when the bushes started moving and in the next the small camp was full of people, and not just people but enemy soldiers. “Take them” a man yelled while more people arrived at the screen and soon there were so men that Ling Chang could not see Hui Wen. “He killed our men, so take good care of him” a man yelled before a scream was heard. It was Hui Wen who had started to defeat himself against the attackers. “I said take good care of him” the man repeated himself before pointing at the horse “Some one take care of that horse too and do not mind the girl… her injuries is doing our job” he said almost laughing, making Ling Chang try to spit in his face but he were to far so the drops just fell like rain drops. Another scream was heard and a few soldiers looked around and directly at the commander with scary eyes before he again forced them to attack Hui Wen. “Stop that man at once” he said not caring much about his men and their fear but his voice had barely died out before a new scream was heard. He pushed some men away and held his head down to lIng Chang who were still laying on the ground. The soldiers had killed the fire so she had started to clench teeth of cold, but the commander did not care much about her feelings. “Do you know the expression, if you want to do something properly, you have to do it yourself” the man sad with a cold eye on Ling Chang but before Ling Chang could answer the man he pulled her up from the ground and Ling Chang was about to scream of pain when she noticed his sword against her neck. Tears started to run down her checks and she fears it was the end of everything. “Stop resisting old foul or I will kill this beautiful young lady” He said in a hard voice leaving no doubt of his plans. Ling Chang could hear the fighting stop, making her tears run even faster and it did not get any better when she could see walking closer to her and the man with soldiers ready to strike him down around him. Hui Wen walked past them like they were air and the commander started laughing loud and then he whispered into the ear of Ling Chang. “I lied” and slowly he started to made the sword come closer to her neck, making the medallion was the first to be hit and fall to the ground. The next was a drop of blood which ruined the perfect clean sword. Ling Chang closed her eyes awaiting her fate but the time stopped and when she opened them again she could see Hui Wen try to break free of the men and a blood drop hit the ground below her. Suddenly something awoke inside her and without knowing how she managed to escape the grasp of the commander and bend down to reach the family sword on the ground and penetrate the commander. The time started running again and the commander caught up some blood which hit Ling Chang right in the face which made her eyes white but instead of fainting, she turned against the soldiers who had captured Hui Wen and attacked them with such speed and power that they were all death before the first man hit the ground. She looked around for more enemies but they were all alone again. “Are you alright?” Hui Wen managed to ask after he had calmed down after her surprise attack but Ling Chang just pointed the sword at him like he was someone evil too. Suddenly her eyes turned normal again for a short while before she fell to the ground without a single sound, leaving the sword standing mighty while the blood mixed with the bloody ground. Hui Wen looked around to see if anyone had survived her attack before running against her and held his ear at her chest to figure out if she were still alive. A smile appeared on his face as he heard the heart beating normally but his eyes was scared as his mind was now fear what could happen if he trained her. He whistled and soon the horse was back at his side and he patted the horse gentle before he bended down to picked up Ling Chang, her sword and the medallion.
A wind blew thought the forest and a simple taste of smoke in it told Hui Wen that he had to leave the place now and not waste a single second in reaching the emperor’s palace. He sat up on the horse and started riding slowly between the death bodies making sure that everything did reveal how many who attacked. As he reached the last body, he made sure that Ling Chang were laying gentle on the horse while his mind worried about his promised of training her after so much death from the little girl. The birds in the forest slowly started to sing as the sun started raising in the east and it was red a blood, telling its own story about the attacks of the night and day before but other than that it seemed like it would become a nice day. In the nearby camp were soldiers was running around like mad men, taking down tents and other things. The only placer in the camp a bit quiet was the leaders tents but that was soon over. “My lord” a soldier yelled repeatedly while running closer and closer to the tents before entering one of them between two guards. “What?”a tired and annoyed voice yelled at the solider. “Ling Chang has managed to escape the men, we sent out after her… she got” The voice disappeared suddenly and the annoyed voice returned “You wasted my morning on telling me bad news?” Li Chen said still annoyed before he pulled out his sword from the neck of the soldier who fell to the ground. “Stop making so much noise” Mai Chen said from the bed. Li Chen looked at her and replied “Just go back to bed, I will handle this mess… Gaurds” the two soldiers outside the tent came running inside and stopped right the death soldier, they did their best not to show fear and just focus on Li Chen. “How many times do I need to tell you guys that I don’t want bad news in the morning?” The soldiers did not answer so Li Chen continued talking this time to the death man “See what happen to you because you did not follow my simple rules” Li Chen kicked to body and the blood hit the soldiers. Li Chen returned to the soldiers “Clean up this mess and if more people return, stop them or I will kill one of you too” the soldiers nodded and took the body before dragging it out leaving Li Chen and Mei Chen alone again. “Come back to bed, brother” a tired Mei Chen yelled from the bed and Li Chen walked back and kissed her before crawling in it. Soon the tent was quiet again and only Li Chen’s snoring was heard while the sun raised higher on the sky and the camp was get more and more empty. The sleeping mind of Li Chen quickly turned into a dream and soon he was surrounded by lots of beautiful young woman and he walked around between them and each of them stripped their loose clothes off and presented themselves to him like he was a God or mighty ruler. The dream pleased him so much that even in real life he smiled and kissed the air every time he kissed a girl in the dream. He was happy but the most perfect girl of them all was nowhere to be seen so he kept looking until his eyes finally caught her. His sister Mei Ling, who after his father’s death had been his alone and he only had to share her with their brother. “Your wish is my command” her sweet voice replied when she noticed him watching her. He got closer to her and kissed her like he had done with other girls but while they had been tasteless, she were tasting of honey so he just closed his eyes while kissing and playing her body. Suddenly something like rain started to fell on them and Li Chen stopped kissing for a while to figure out what or where it came from but the sky was just dark and the drops had no colour themselves. He returned to his kissing but quickly moved back as the honey taste had been replaced by blood and the former beautiful body had chance into a corpse. “What is the matter, brother. Don’t you love me anymore” Mei Chen voice pierced his head and Li Chen tried to cover his ears at no use. He looked around at the other girls who also turned into corpses one by one and soon he was the only one alive, but his dream was not over. He walked around trying to escape the mess when suddenly a new beautiful girl appears in the edge of his sight. “Is it you? Mei Chen” he yelled but no response. He walked slowly closer as he did his best not to hit the corpses on the ground.”Are you here to awaken me?” He yelled trying to make sense of it all and what to do to get away. Suddenly the girl disappeared and the rain drops turned into blood, making him almost puke by the taste in his mouth but before he had the chance, she reappeared and held a knife against his neck. “You killed my father, mother and town. Now you are going to pay for it” the voice said and he looked and knew it was Ling Chang, the girl who had escaped him, even he had never seen her before. Suddenly everything were gone and only he were all alone in the darkness. “I will kill you too and everyone who gets in the way” he yelled in the darkness and suddenly he were back in the tent where a loud thunder was heard. It had started to rain again and the tent were completely dark. He stood up and looked at Mei Chen who were still sleeping quietly in his bed. He felt the rage from his dream reappearing and he pulled his sword from its place before running out of the tent, into the rain while screaming loud. His words was silenced by another big thunder and the rain started falling even more heavy. The rain calmed him down a bit and he watched his soldiers looking at him like he were a mad man. “Back to work” he yelled and this time the thunder above could not quite him so the soldiers started running around like crazy. He walked back against the tent and stopped at the guards “Bring me, my brother and a map over the country so we can get this war started” he said gentle before going inside the tent. Not soon after brother Gang Chen appeared in the tent together with four men carrying a table with the map over the country. The Xion’s Islands, it said with big letters on the top, the country itself was two islands. One for the gods and one of the humans. Li Chen pointed at the capital Zhaomay and said “I take my army and attack the capital and emperor’s palace while you take the remaining army and attack the remaining country especially the towns Xudong, Quanwei and Mianhai so we don’t get attacked by some surprise army” Gang Chen was not as clever as his brother but he still knew what was important. “Sure, good idea” he said ironic before he continued “I don’t mind go do all the boring stuff when you get the capital but please let me have the honor of executing the emperor when the time comes, if our force manages to take him alive” Li Chen just smiled in response as he wanted to kill the emperor himself but if that was the way he had to make his brother take the boring things then sure why not. “Sure, but I want Ling Chang instead so if you see her, let her live but our spies tells that she is on the way to the emperor’s palace” Li Chen said while trying to sound true. “Why do you want this girl so much, my brother” Gang Chen replied curiously. Li Chen just looked at him and without a single breath he replied “She hunts my dreams” Gang Chen just nodded before bowing “As you wish brother, I will leave you now and attack the towns you pointed out” Gang Chen said. Li Chen bowed in return “Thank you, dear brother and good speed in your endeavors” and the brother left the tent together with the map, leaving Li Chen alone with Mei Chen again. Mei Chen raised herself from the bed and went over to kiss Li Chen before making sure they were all alone “Great idea of sending our brother away with a chance of him getting killed so it just become you and me” she whispered gentle in his ear before kissing him again. Li Chen did not reply but just kissed her back and soon they were back in the bed like before. Mei Chen kisses him again but Li Chen was still a bit nervous after his dream but the joy of having Mei Chen alone and having the power of the entire kingdom turned him on. He kissed her back and soon they started moaning gentle in the tent. Outside the tent were Gang Chen petting his horse while watching his generals dividing the army into two so he could complete his part of the plans. He thought about the plan and decided with himself that he would rush it so he could be back before his siblings would have conquered the palace. He walked away from the horse as he didn’t want to scare it and out to the field were the soldiers was running faster and faster. “Hurry up, we have no time to waste” he yelled loud and rough making sure that no one doubted his intent. A general ran over to him and bowed before replying “We are ready in 5mins so if you please, you can get on your horse and we will be ready by then” Gang Chen looked at the man with a smile before he nodded and walked back to horse which was already getting prepared for him. He mounted the horse and talked to it before he gentle made it walk out on the field. The soldiers stood ready just as the general had said who now were seating on a horse himself. Gang Chen looked over the soldiers and felt the power grown inside him. “Today we have gotten the mission of destroy every resistance from here to the harbour town Quanwei and I expect you all to do you best or get killed in the attempt. I know some of you will die but you will died for an important cause, remember that.” Gang Chen yelled loud to the men who returned with their own load screams. “Tonight we dinner at the palace of Quanwei” The men cheered once more and he turned around his horse and started to ride slowly away from the camp while the rain continued to fall heavy.
In the mean time had the rain not reach Ling Chang and Hui Wen who was still travelling as fast as the horse could to hopefully reach the emperor’s castle before it were too late. They were travelling by common road as Hui Wen felt they could hide between the other people there if something unexpected happened and he normally it would be full of life but the past days rain had made a lot stay home so only the necessary people like farmers and shepherd. Ling Chang was still asleep so Hui Wen did not had to discuss his ideas with anyone but he had been on the road for so long that he had started to get used to talk to himself. “There are too few people here for us to be safe” he started speaking like the people around them were part of the mission. “Yes, there is but the other road is too far and this road leads straight to the main gate” a few who had been close to them stared weird at them before moving away as they did not want to be seen following a weirdo even he was going so fast. “If you go left now, you will only reach the wall and you never know how many soldiers who are guarding it now” he continued and was too focused on his discussion to noticed the three of the emperor soldiers who came ridding fast beside him. They were out of hearing distance when he finally noticed their mark and he knew he could not captured them with Ling Chang on his back. He slowed down as the horse was losing it energy and he needed it to carry them all the way to the palace or it would take way too long to reach there and then the enemy might have reach it before them. Suddenly a man yelled from behind “Are she alright?” Hui Wen was turned around and was about to yell at the man for minding his own business but noticed the blood running down from her clothes to the horse and down on the ground leaving a long a bloody trail. “Thanks, my good man” Hui Wen managed to say before he stood off the horse. He took the horse and walked over to a tree with shadow and a little pool of water which the horse quickly started drinking while he tried it gentle to the tree. He took the medallion, the sword and Ling Chang down from the horse, knowing very well about the thieves roaming the road. “Ling Chang” he said gentle while trying to wake her up but she were fast asleep and he was a bit worried about her condition after her rage. “Ling Chang” he tried again before he decide he had to take care of the wound, no matter if she were awaken or not so he slowly started to remove her clothes. Soon his eyes caught were the blood were coming from, it was a long cut from her breast all the way to the hip and even he had tried to cover it before, it had now started to leak. “Sorry, this is maybe going to hurt even you are fast asleep” he said calm to himself before he removed a bit of the bandages. “Arhhhh” Ling Chang woke up screaming so the nearby people all look directly at them and wondered what was going on in there but when they noticed the blood, they returned to their own business. “Sorry, I did not meant to hurt you but…” more did Hui Wen not managed to say before Ling Chang hell her hand at his mouth. “Stop talking and do it” She said with a hard voice and Hui Wen removed her hand and continued even that Ling Chang started screaming again while tears started to run down her checks. He started to replace the bandages but the screaming and tears made him stop for a break which even Ling Chang enjoyed. Suddenly Ling Chang caught the eye of a man who was walking against them with a little knife in his hand and she tried to say something but the pain made it impossible so Hui Wen did not get what she was trying to do until he heard the voice. “Give me your horse and no harm will be done to either of you, old man” Hui Wen pretended he did not he the man and started replace more of the bandages which made Ling Chang twist of pain and attempts of warning him as her voice was too focused on screaming of pain. “Are you deaf, old man?” The man tried a little louder than before while he got closer and closer to them. Hui Wen still did not move or focused on the man who was now only a few feet away from them. The man tried a last time to get any response from Hui Wen “Last chance, old man… Are you” he managed to say before his voice disappeared and Hui Wen stood up with a now bloody sword. “Did you really expect men, not hearing you yelling of me?” Hui Wen said while the man fell on his knees and looked around trying to grasp what had happened but it was too late and he fell to the ground death and slowly the blood started to mix with the road. Suddenly some new scream was heard and four men appeared in front of Hui Wen and tried to surround him. “You killed our friend, now you most died” the oldest of the four replied before Hui Wen had a chance of saying anything. Ling Chang tried to stand but the pain was still too great and even that Hui Wen had stopped touching her bandages and injuries, her voice was also gone. “Are you sure that this are fair teams?” Hui Wen said while looking directly at the oldest and not minding the three others who had started dancing around him while cleaning his sword with a quick movement. “I do not care what you think” the oldest replied and one of the men attack without any sound but Hui Wen had just stepped aside and with a quick cut had left the man without a hand or sword making him scream of pain, making the nearby watchers run walk a big path around them to make sure they did not get in the way. Hui Wen looked at the screaming man and pulled the sword once to finished him off. “That was my brother you silly old man” the older man said and nodded quickly to the two remaining men who attacked Hui Wen at the same time but Lang Chang had managed to move her leg and block the road of the guy to the left so he fell to ground leaving Hui Wen able to fight the other and finished them both off pretty easily leaving only the oldest left. Hui Wen cleaned his sword again and asked “I asked you before the fight, are you sure that this are fair teams? So let me try again? Are they?” The looked at Hui Wen with death in his eyes and suddenly a wind blew between them and the rain started falling. “I will leave you now and let you live, but know this. One day I will meet you again and then you will the one bleeding leaving the fight bleeding and death afterwards” Hui Wen just laughed and was about to attack the man but has he pulled his sword another powerful wind blew, making everything impossible to see and when it calmed down again the man was gone with the rain removing every trace of his existence. Hui Wen looked at Ling Chang who were still laying on the ground with half the bandages still not fixed. “This will hurt and it will only last until we reach the palace as we have wasted enough time here” and without waiting for confirmation he bed down to Ling Chang and fixed the bandages which made Ling Chang scream loudly but the rain and wind made it almost not noticeable. As he were done, he walked back with the sword and medallion to the horse and placed it in some pockets before returning to Ling Chang. He took her up while calming her down with a sweet dry voice “Sorry for the pain I gave you but as I said we have no time to waste anymore” He placed her gentle on the horse’s back who had becoming more fresh from the water and little break before searching the ground for objects that could reveal who they were and their attackers but nothing except the death bodies told the story. He looked a last time against the rain and place that the oldest of the attackers had standing but still no sign had appeared. He nodded to himself and mounted the horse before he made Ling Chang’s hands go around his belly and turned against her “Hold on, now we are going fast and I am not going to stop before we reach the gates of the emperor’s palace in Zhaomay” and before Ling Chang could reply anything the horse started running faster than it had done before and she had to held him even tighter. The wind and the water started to become one mighty force against them and the horse but the speed of the horse moved the forward and there was nothing to stop them. Back at the camp, the older man had appeared again and whispered to the death friends “I am sorry for your deaths but I will revenge you all, no matter what it will cost me, especially you my dear brother” and suddenly he were gone again leaving only the blood in the ground telling the story of the events that had taken place there.