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PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, '10, 7:27 pm
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“Well, well, well, look what we have here,” Said Li Fa-Gan snidely, as he and his cohorts stepped inside the house, tapping their swords on the ground. All three were dressed in full Taoist regalia: Long flowing robes, a square-shaped cap with a Yin-Yang symbol on the front, and an eight-trigram mirror hanging from their necks. “Looks like we have a little traitor in our midst.”

Gi Le-Fa let out a sinister laugh. “Daddy wouldn’t like to know that his daughter disobeyed government orders in fraternizing with the enemy now, would he? Oh no,” he said mockingly. “Especially since that could get daddy in to lots of trouble.”

Kaire scowled at her three colleagues. “How did the three of you get here so fast? How did you know I was here?”

Xie A’Tou wagged his finger at Kaire. “Tut. Tut. I don’t think you’re in the position to be asking anything at all. But, since I wouldn’t like to leave you hanging, well not yet, I’ll tell you. We came here on horseback. Gi had a few horses stashed away in the village at the foot of Wudan. We figured that Master Ti’Er would try to pull a fast one, so we were prepared.”

Kaire clenched her fists and bit down on her lip. “What does it matter what my father does? Who do you think you are?” Her voice quivered as she raised her volume.

“Eunuch Lau Shek likes to keep tabs on those who may be potential obstacles. That’s why he sent us to Wudan.”

Kaire went pale upon hearing that, and her grip on her sword began to loosen. Her thoughts raced to her father as the thought of Lau Shek turning his attentions to Wudan crossed her mind. “You mean, the three of you are—“

“Yes,” interrupted Li Fa-Gan, raising his sword with one hand and pointing it in the direction of Kaire’s throat. “We’re spies from the court. And it appears that Lau Shek will be quite interested to know that the master of Wudan is in cahoots with those whom he ordered to be exterminated.”

Kaire’s face quickly grew scarlet and her grip on the sword tightened. “Rascals! I was always better than the lot of you anyways. If you want to kill me and Saya here, you’re going to have to fight for it.” Kaire bent one of her knees and raised her sword into a defensive position.

Xie A’Tou looked at his companions and pointed at Saya. “The spirit knows too much. Kill her first. The boss wants Kaire alive if possible.”

Kaire reached back with her free hand and grabbed Saya by the wrist, pulling her against her back. “Stay behind me at all times,” Kaire whispered lightly to the visibly frightened nymph. “You have to trust me on this. Don’t worry, I’ll protect you.”

Saya nodded feebly.

The three mages charged Kaire with their swords drawn. Kaire screamed and thrust her wooden sword out, striking Li Fa-Gan in the chest with a loud THUMP. Li flew back at the impact of the blow and Kaire too recoiled as the force of the blow traveled up the sword and into her wrist, pushing her back. Gi Le-Fa and Xie A’Tou savagely swung their swords at Saya’s head. Kaire quickly swept Saya’s feet out from under her, knocking her to the ground, her head narrowly missing their swords on the way down. Kaire swung her sword upward, which met with the two swords. The three recoiled from the force of the blow, but quickly regained their ground again.

Xie A’Tou began jabbing his weapon at Saya, who still lay on the ground. Kaire parried the blows, causing Xie to become angry. He diverted his attention from Saya and howled as he tried to pierce Kaire’s throat with his weapon, determined to watch her die a slow death, order or no order. Kaire sidestepped the blow and twisted her body, watching the wooden blade come within inches of her neck. Kaire pivoted her foot and threw out her other leg with all her might, burying her foot in Xie’s stomach and knocking the wind out of him. She angrily jammed the haft of her sword into the back of his head, sending him sprawling to the ground.

Gi Le-Fa and Li Fa-Gan, seeing that Kaire’s attention was now on their colleague, raised their weapons and ran toward Saya, who was now getting up. Noticing this, Kaire’s heart skipped a beat and she turned and leapt into the path of the two’s swords. Kaire yelped in pain as the wooden blades struck her in the chest and shoulder, causing her to fall to the ground. Gi and Li howled in triumph as they looked upon Kaire, reeling on the ground from the blows she received.

“Witch! That should give you a taste of the torment you gave us during all those years of training at the temple,” Li Fa-Gan said.

Kaire got to her knees, breathing heavily as struggled to get up again. “Oh don’t worry. What I put you through at the temple will be nothing what I’ll do to you today.”

Gi and Li pulled their arms back to deliver another wide swing to Saya. Kaire took a deep breath and dived in Saya’s direction. She then twisted her body so that she was face up and raised her sword, which blocked the twin blows. The force of the blows slammed her on her back, but luckily had saved Saya. Kaire quickly pulled Saya on top of her and wrapped her arms around her. Gi Le-Fa stepped forward and raised his foot to stomp on the girls. Kaire angrily swung her sword and hit his foot, following up with a unforgiving jab to Gi’s groin. Kaire chuckled to herself as Gi Le-Fa’s voice cracked into a feeble squeal. Kaire quickly rolled over and got to her feet. With a satisfied smile she brought her sword across Gi’s face, leaving a dark purple bruise on his jaw in its wake.

Li Fa-Gan and Xie A’Tou launched another assault on Saya. Kaire grabbed the woman and pushed her body away from the merciless attacks of the two. For almost a minute, Kaire manipulated Saya’s body pushing and pulling her head, arms, and body in numerous directions to avoid the multiple attacks that came from every which way. Their blades passed over and under her arms and legs as they fruitlessly sought to destroy her. Li and Xie finally gave up and, at the nod of a head, leapt into the air together to deliver a final overhead blow to Saya. Kaire quickly pulled Saya under her legs out of the range of their attacks and placed her sword above her head to block the incoming attack.

The impact of their strikes was so great that Kaire’s sword simply shattered into splinters. Kaire fell over backwards, landing on her back with a dull thud. She glanced at her broken weapon for a moment and took a deep breath. Xie motioned for Li Fa-Gan to stand aside as he went in for the kill. Xie angrily dashed towards Kaire and thrust his sword directly at the girl’s heart. Kaire again stepped back and pivoted her body, watching the blade rub savagely against her vest, narrowly missing its target. Kaire quickly grabbed Xie A’Tou’s wrist and twisted it. Xie grunted in anger, but his grunts soon became an agonizing groan of pain as he Kaire, now in control, began hammering down on his head with the broken sword.

CLUNK!

“You never—“

CLUNK!

“—were as good as--”

CRACK!

“--me. This will teach—“

CRACK!

“--you to insult—“

SQUISH!

“--someone superior to you.”

Xie A’Tou collapsed and fell to the ground in a great heap. The anger that fueled Kaire’s attacks quickly gave way to an exceedingly sickened feeling as she stared into his glazed eyes. Numerous streams of blood were running down face and his young, mustached face was frozen in a look of pure horror. Blood poured from a gaping wound in his hand and the light in the house shined off is soaking-wet hair. For brief moment, Kaire began to feel faint. She then looked up and saw Li Fa-Gan and Gi Le-Fa, harassing Saya, pushing her back and forth between them. Kaire yelled and through the broken sword at Li Fa-Gan hitting him square in the face and knocking him backward.

Gi Le-Fa grabbed Saya by the throat and laughed. “I’m really going to enjoy killing the both of you witches. You know, life at the monastery was never much fun. But killing the two of you—seems to promise a sense of fulfillment that all those Taoist rituals never quite gave me.”

Kaire gave Gi Le-Fa a sinister smile and inclined her head in a mock bow. “I haven’t given up, yet, dog.”

Gi Le-Fa chuckled. “One unarmed woman against two armed men—the odds are indeed against you, are they not?”

“Then we’ll just have to balance the equation,” retorted the female warrior. Kaire reached into her vest and removed her two piercers from the pocket within. Gi Le-Fa’s and Li Fa-Gan’s eyes widened as they saw Kaire calmly slip her middle fingers into the rings of the piercers.

“Where did you get those?” Li Fa-Gan stammered. “We never studied those at the temple?”

Kaire laughed. “I know. I learned them on my own.” She shook her wrists slightly, causing the piercers to start spinning. The familiar whoosh of the twirling iron rods gave Kaire a feeling of reassurance. “Better keep yours on them. Otherwise you’ll die without ever knowing what hit you.”

Gi Le-Fa shoved Saya aside and held his sword with both hands. Li Fa-Gan, wiping the blood off his nose with his sleeve, did the same. They stepped carefully toward Kaire, who moved toward them moving her arms slowly up and down as the piercers continued twirling without cease. Every now and then, Gi and Li would take large step toward Kaire, who would then throw her arms forward, causing them to step back in fear. Kaire responded to their fear with a cruel smile of content. For about a minute, the three slowly stepped in a circle.

Li Fa-Gan made the first move. He lunged at Kaire, aiming his sword for her mouth. Kaire quickly parried the sword with one of her piercers and coolly swung the other rod, still spinning, at Li’s face. Blood spurted out of the deep wound in his cheek as the spearhead-like end ripped unforgivingly into his skin. Kaire struck him with her shoulder, knocking him against the wall. Gi Le-Fa tried to attack, but his blows were all deflected. Spinning both piercers wildly, Kaire gleefully sliced through the layers of his red robes, occasionally leaving shallow cuts in his torso. Gi looked at his bleeding body in surprise. Kaire, seeing him distracted, thrust her foot into his stomach, sending him into a chair and reducing it to splinters.

Li Fa-Gan rushed Kaire again, but she caught his sword between both of the iron rods she wore, leaving Li defenseless. She twisted and spun his arms in a circle until he let go of his sword. Kaire rammed her head into his, her forehead striking his nose like a hammer. Li reeled back, covering his nose with his hands and spouting all matter of obscenities at Kaire.

Kaire stood staring at Li Fa-Gan, her lips curled into a bloodthirsty smile. Suddenly, her attention was diverted by a loud scream from Saya. Kaire spun around just in time to see the brown blur of Gi Le-Fa’s sword come into contact with her jaw. Kaire was soon on the ground, dazed. Her mouth began to feel warm. Spitting on the floor, Kaire became nervous as she saw that her mouth had filled with blood. Another downward arching blow came, directed at Kaire’s head. Kaire crossed her piercers and caught the blow, although Gi continued pushing down, determined to break her skull open at all costs. Kaire finally lurched forward and jammed the sharp end of one of her piercers into Gi Le-Fa’s thigh. Gi nearly dropped his sword at that moment, cursing loudly as Kaire sadistically twisted the rod inside the wound and then pulled the blood-stained weapon from his leg. She spun her other piercer wildly and lifted her arm to the level of Gi’s stomach. The sharpened edges of the piercer shredded the silky red fabric of his robes and dug into his belly, flinging red droplets all over the room.

Kaire got to her feet, rubbing her jaw. The pain was tremendous and she soon realized that Gi Le-Fa had broken it. She glanced at Li Ga-Fan who was clinging to a wall, trying to not to faint. Gi Le-Fa had staggered over to the table and was holding himself up on it, breathing raggedly. Kaire reached into her pouch and produced a small bottle of dai mei, which she rubbed on her jaw. The pain began to lessen, but not very much. Saya ran over to her.

Just then, both Gi and Li composed themselves and took up their swords one more time. Brandishing the long wooden weapons with both hands, they lifted them up and pointed them at Saya. Kaire began to rhythmically move her wrists, setting her piercers into motion. Gi and Li let out a final war cry and started running at the two. Saya wrapped her arms around Kaire’s waist, who stood perfectly still. Then, with perfectly dexterity, Kaire blocked and trapped all of their blows, all of which came dangerously close to Saya’s face. Kaire found an opening and swung her foot savagely into the wound in Gi Le-Fa’s thigh, causing him to break off his attack. Kaire spun around to face Li Fa-Gan, who was running at her, both hands raised over his head. With a flick of her wrist and strong sideways movement of her arms, Kaire flung one of the piercers from her hand, the ring sliding from her finger, causing the still-twirling rod the fly toward Li Fa-Gan. In a fraction of a second, the piercer found its target in Li’s neck. Li clenched his teeth and clenched his neck as he tried to pull the piercer from it, oblivious to the fountain of blood that spurted from the wound. Li Fa-Gan stumbled through the room, painting the walls and ground red, until he finally toppled to the ground.

Kaire turned to Gi Le-Fa and glared at him. Removing the piercer from her hand and hiding it in her vest, she tackled Gi, slamming his body against the other wall. She dug her fingers into his hair and began slamming his head repeatedly into the wall, screaming which each blow. In a few seconds, the wall began to fill with cracks as Kaire grew more and more ruthless with each successive hit. The cracks on the wall spread in all directions and red flecks of liquid began to color the plaster. It was only when Saya pulled Kaire away from her long-dead opponent that Kaire came to herself again.

For a few moments, Kaire gasped for air and struggled to compose herself again. She surveyed the room, which had been converted into a warzone. The furniture was broken and signs of the bloody battle were to be found all over the walls and floor. As her breathing became more regular, she looked up at Saya, who was staring at her with a face full of both fear and admiration.

“Don’t worry,” Kaire gasped. “I won’t let anything happen to you.”

Saya said nothing, but simply nodded; her eyes as wide as two saucers.

Kaire spoke again, her voice in a very low tone. “You and your husband need to leave. There will be others. Trust me.”

Saya took a deep breath and was about to speak when she suddenly let out a high-pitched, blood-curdling scream. Her eyes grew even more and her face contorted in agony. A small stream of blood ran down the corner of her mouth and she clutched her bosom above her heart. Saya began to stagger toward Kaire, who was now trembling with fear and confusion. Kaire rushed to Saya side to hold her, but Saya’s legs soon began to give out and she sank to the ground. Kaire now was screaming her name repeatedly, but Saya say anything; she simply stared blankly into space. Kaire violently shook the fallen nymph, but her efforts elicited no response.

After a few moments, Saya weakly moved her lips. Kaire placed her ear next to Saya’s lips.

“Please, watch over Han. I don’t think he can make it without me.”

Kaire was too horrified to speak; all she could do was nod weakly.

“I’m sorry,” called a familiar voice at the door. “I had no choice.”

Kaire looked up, her eyes glistening from the tears that were beginning to run down her cheek. “Y-You—“she stammered.

Standing in the doorway, this time, was Zi-Ou. In his outstretched hand, constrasting against the pure blackness of his robes, were a few crushed, blue petals of a bellflower.
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