This is the last story in my Phantasy Star IV reimagining series. The title is taken from a 1973 film called The Fate of Lee Khan, which is set around an inn. It's an old Chinese story troupe to set the events of a story in an inn filled with people whom may or may not be on the protagonists' side. The most famous film dealing with said story is the classic Dragon Inn, which has been remade a couple of times. This story is an homage to this plot trope.
The serene silence of the mountain trail was broken by the sound of footsteps. Those footsteps came from a solitary wanderer who made her way across the stony path, walking purposely up the windy path. The wanderer appeared to be from afar, for her clothing was unlike that of any resident of the land in which she found herself. She was dressed in a simple kimono and wore a large conical hat, which hid her face from all who might have seen her. By her side hung an ornate sword, different from those that the locals were used to seeing. Every few minutes, the lonely wanderer would stop and open up large fan to cool herself, after which she would continue her journey.
The further up the mountain the stranger went, the cooler the mountain breezes became, and the less she stopped to fan herself. The silent person continued on her journey, her gait revealing a sort of devotion to her arriving at wherever it was she was going, as if she were some sort of pilgrim. For hours the quiet figure, lost in her thoughts, made her way up and around the stony trail that hugged the side of the ridge. She did not know how much farther, or even the purpose for her journey. She only knew that it was her destiny to find this hidden sanctuary among the peaks.
It was sundown when a large building that looked like a Taoist temple came into view. The figure stopped and admired how anyone could’ve built such a large, magnificent building in the midst of so much loneliness. Taking a deep breath, the wanderer picked up her pace and headed swiftly toward the building. From inside she could hear dozens of voices—raucous laughter from whomever inhabited the place. Even before entering, it was apparent that this temple was no longer be used as such.
Walking into the building, the lonely woman discovered that she was now in a large inn, whose restaurant was filled with people eating and drinking and flirting, certainly not the sorts of activities one would associate with a Taoist temple. A few paid attention to her; her manner of dress would obviously call attention to anyone who saw her. She looked at the bar and found an attractive, yet tomboyish young lady behind the counter. The blue-haired beauty stared at her with rapt curiosity.
Sitting down at the counter, the figure lifted her hat up slightly, revealing a pair of large, mysterious brown eyes and an amused smile.
“So, is this is the famous hunter’s sanctuary I’ve heard about?” the visitor asked.
The blue-haired bartender tilted her head curiously and raised an eyebrow. “Why, yes. I admit that I never expected word of our existence to reach the Eastern Islands.”
The visitor simply chuckled and looked down at her dress. “Oh, this? Well, you can be rest assured that we’re on the same side.”
The bartender smiled. “That’s good to know. May I ask your name, miss? I am Ti’er Kaire of Wudan. I’m the owner, if you will, of this establishment.”
“Wudan? Interesting.” The visitor nodded. “I am Li Si of the Hunter’s Guild.” Her voice was quiet, but firm.
Kaire’s eyes widened at the introduction. “So you’re famous Li Si?” Her voice overflowed with admiration. “The hunters here have told me lots of stories about you.”
Li Si pulled her hat down and glanced around the restaurant. More people, mainly men but a few waitresses, were looking at her, but continued about their usual business of eating and drinking. Almost inaudible above the din was the sound of a harp; a lonely harpist, also wearing a straw hat, sat in the corner on the upper deck playing a few notes for some interested waitresses. She smiled beneath the hat.
Kaire then spoke up again. “You’ve been described as a master of the legendary Dragon Missiles. Can you…”
Li Si raised her hand to cut her off. “I’m sorry, Miss Kaire. I do not possess them anymore.”
Kaire’s excited smile became a scowl and she narrowed her eyes a bit. “Then how I do know for sure that it’s you and not a spy?”
An akward silence followed for a few moments, as the two women stared deep into each other’s eyes. Then Kaire smiled and spoke, “I know! Cha-Zi! Come here!”
Li Si’s heart skipped a beat at the sound of that name. She spun around and saw a young blonde-haired man get up from a table hidden behind a group of near-drunk hunters. His eyes were closed and he walked with a cane, moving steadily through the crowd in her direction. Following behind him was a pretty young maiden with red hair. Squinting at said damsel, Li Si swore she saw a tuft of reddish fur on her ears.
As Cha-Zi came nearer to his old friend and mentor, Li Si laughed heartily and slapped her knee lightly. “My dear Cha-Zi, you were always a master of disguises. This must be one of your best ones yet.”
Cha-Zi chuckled and extended his hand, trying to find Li Si’s. “Ah Li, big sister, I’m afraid you’ve fallen behind on current events.”
Ah Li looked at Cha-Zi strangely. “What do you mean by that?”
The blonde-haired youth took her hand into his hand and guided it to his eyes, caressing them lightly with her battle-calloused skin. For a few moments, Li Si stared and remained motionless confused at Cha-Zi’s ritual. It soon dawned on her what was going on.
“Oh no,” she whispered. Raising her volume, “What did they do to you, little brother?”
“Poison. I got into a battle with the Sun Moon Sect. I’m still alive, but just a little less whole now.”
Ah Li wiped a single tear from her eye. “I’m sorry, Cha-Zi. Had I not asked you to go on your own, this never would’ve happened.”
Cha-Zi smiled and waved away her apology. “Big sister, it is okay. I think that becoming blind is the best thing that could’ve happened to me. I’m twice the swordsman now that I ever was before. And I have a wonderful new travelling companion to.” He pointed to the attractive young lady who stood behind him. “Ri-Ge, this is my big sister and mentor, Li Si. Li Si, this is Ri-Ge, my lover.”
Ri-Ge inclined her head slightly at Li Si and simply said, “Big sister.” As she did so, Li Si saw that Ri-Ge’s ears were indeed those of a fox. Li Si smiled and said nothing.
The young blind man looked in Kaire’s direction. “Kaire, you need not worry. This is indeed Li Si.” At this moment, Li Si pulled her “little brother” into a firm embrace.
After a few moments, Kaire yelled. “Everybody! I want your attention!” The din settled down and stared at their benefactor. The Wudan priestess spoke up, “Li Si, your colleague and our champion is now with us!” The declaration was met with cheers. Li Si looked out into the crowd and removed her straw hat, revealing her brown hair tied up into a bun. “We now are ready to confront that rascal Lau Shek and his flunkies!” More cheers followed. “Now let us all train harder and prepare ourselves for battle!” The cheers grew even louder. Kaire looked back at Li Si and said, “You should get some rest now. We have some important things to discuss tomorrow. Ah Han!”
A young, scholarly man appeared. “Yes, Kaire?”
“Please, Ah Han. Find a room for our new friend, Li Si. I think we’ll all have a lot to discuss tomorrow.”