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PostPosted: Mon Sep 6, '10, 3:43 pm
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Kaire stared at her black-clad colleague in sheer horror as he stepped into the house and walked toward her. His face was a mixture of emotions, a half-apologetic frown offset by a pair of eyes that burned with arrogance. Kaire tore her stare away from his and looked at the delicate petals that had not yet fallen from his hands. The flower had been Saya’s lifeforce. No, the flower was Saya. She was a flower nymph and thus she was literally one with the plant she represented. Zi-Ou, her colleague from the temple, had not simply killed a plant. He murdered a living being, a living, breathing person.

Zi-Ou knelt next to Kaire, who was still in shock over what had occurred. He reached out and stroked her face for a moment, brushing her large bangs of blue hair aside. Kaire stared at him, not knowing whether to wait for an explanation or deck him at that moment. Kaire felt her blood boil and her hands tremble, but she decided to wait to see how Zi-Ou would explain himself. Her colleague looked upon her with some sort of false compassion, after which he looked over at the fallen nymph and simply shook his head. Seeing that, Kaire could think of nothing else but to do worse to him than she had done to the other three dead mages inside the house.

“As I said,” he started, his sincerity ringing hollow, “I had to do it. I did it for your father. Other priests from other parts of the land would’ve found her and would’ve discovered the truth. If they were to tell Lau Shek, that would mean the end of Wudan. I couldn’t live with myself if that happened.”

Kaire clenched her fists, but held her peace. Zi-Ou looked at her face, which was growing more scarlet with each second.

“You don’t believe me, do you? Kaire, open your eyes!” His voice filled with some sort of arrogant urgency. “We don’t live in some sort of fairy tale world where always doing the right thing brings an immediate reward. Lau Shek is just as capable of hunting down the Wudan Clan as he was with the Hunter’s Guild and now the spirits. You don’t know what you’re up against.”

Kaire finally found the strength to speak. “At least I stick to my principles. It’s better to do what’s right and suffer, than to compromise my values and be nothing but a dog.”

Zi-Ou’s face broke out into the arrogant smile Kaire had always detested. “Silly girl. Don’t you know that sometimes you have to be willing lose a battle or two in order to win the war?”

Kaire bit her lower lip to prevent herself from hurling a long string of epithets at Zi-Ou. “And tell me, Zi-Ou, what is your war? What are you fighting for?”

“I’m fighting for Wudan,” answered Zi-Ou, coldly.

“And what exactly is your battle plan? Kill a bunch of innocents to do that?” Kaire made no attempt to hide the sarcasm in her voice.

“I’d ally myself with Lau Shek himself if it meant saving the school,” he said.

“So now the truth comes out! Xie and the other two made you some offers on the way her, didn’t they? They promised you some sort of office, I imagine. They said that if you worked for the court, they’d leave the school alone. No wait, I bet they didn’t even mention the school. I bet they simply offered you some position and you, all full of ambition and whatnot, thought it an appetizing offer. Tell me, am I right?”

Zi-Ou said nothing for a few moments, but simply lifted an eyebrow and pushed his long, black hair back. He fidgeted a little and said, “It is true that the subject was touched upon during the journey. I thought it might be good for the school—“

“Oh, cut the pretense, Zi-Ou!” Kaire screamed. “You’re not fooling me! You never fooled me!”

“Please, let me finish,” was the quiet reply. “I thought that it could be good for the school. Especially if you were to go to the court with me…as my wife.”

Kaire’s jaw dropped in pure shock at those words. So after all these years of training together, his arrogance toward her was just a front for the feelings he had for her? How could he? Kaire’s mind became a jumbled mess of thoughts as she tried to make sense of his declaration. For a few moments she said nothing, trying to organize her thoughts. Finally, came the reply, “You’d be better off killing me now, Zi-Ou. The answer is ‘no’.”

“But Kaire, think of the prestige it would bring your father and the clan.”

Coldly, Kaire said, “I repeat my proposition. You’d just as well kill me now. Do it, if you know what’s good for you.”

“But I can’t! I love you.”

Kaire reached into her fur vest and pulled out her piercer. She hurled it at Zi-Ou, who stood staring at her in dull surprise. Unfortunately, the pain in her body affected her aim and the piercer buried itself in his right shoulder, instead of his heart. Zi-Ou gasped and growled in pain, but quickly regained composure. Giving off a light yelp, Zi-Ou pulled the piercer out of his shoulder and tossed it aside. He muttered a few words and extended his hand. A strong blast of wind emanated from his palm, which lifted Kaire off her feet and carried her across the room, slamming her into a wall.

“Atta boy,” mumbled Kaire weakly.

Zi-Ou muttered another string of unintelligible words and fired a blue bolt of water-like energy at her. Kaire quickly grabbed the mirror that hung at her belt and held it in front of her. The mirror, which was set in an octagon known as the eight-trigram, absorbed the energy from the blast, causing the glass to give off an eerie blue light. Kaire muttered a few words and a blue bolt of energy, just like the one Zi-Ou had used on her, flew back at him. Zi-Ou threw himself to the ground, narrowly dodging Kaire’s counterattack. The blast struck the wall near the front door, leaving a small hole in it.

Zi-Ou quickly put touched his forehead and chin with his index and middle fingers and began chanting. Kaire’s eyes widened in horror as it became obvious to her what he was doing. She pulled herself up and aimed the mirror at him, her arms trembling violently from the blow she had taken. She started muttering a chant of her own and a ball of fire formed in front of the mirror. With a final word, the fireball launched itself in Zi-Ou’s direction. He stood up and remained motionless. The fireball struck in square in the chest. Zi-Ou did not flinch in the least from the blow.

Dang it, thought Kaire. He’s using the iron armor technique, she said to herself. Now he’s impervious to damage. I wish my dad had told me how to counteract this technique.

Zi-Ou threw his arms out toward Kaire. A spinning bolt of energy that looked like electricity shot out toward Kaire. She ducked aside, the bolt grazing her cheek. She quickly performed the foi technique again, firing two large fireballs at Zi-Ou. The fireballs dissipated instantly on contact with Zi-Ou. Kaire got up and felt a strange sensation on her face, as if a tear was trickling down her cheek. She ran her finger across her cheek and saw it that it was bleeding from Zi-Ou’s gra attack.

Kaire staggered out of the room toward the door that led to what must have been Saya’s bedroom. Before she could reach the door, another strong blast of wind—the zan technique—struck Kaire and, lifting her into the air, carried her into the door at high speed, reducing the wooden structure to splinters and dropping Kaire on the floor. Kaire struggled to get up, but all of her joints were aching and her legs were almost like jelly. As she fought to get to her knees, a third zan technique struck her, tossing her body against the wall like a rag doll. Kaire found that she could hardly breathe, as the wind had been knocked out of her.

After about a minute, Zi-Ou walked calmly into the room. Looking none the worse for wear—Kaire figured he must’ve put some medicine on his wound—he strode up to her with the arrogant gait that Kaire had come to loathe back at Wudan. He looked down at Kaire, who was writhing in pain on the ground, and shook his head. He reached into his pouch and produced a small vial of dai mei, which he threw on the ground on the opposite side of the room from Kaire. “My offer still stands, Kaire. Please, we can put this stuff behind us and have a future together.” He sighed. “We don’t have to be enemies, you know. I never wanted that to happen.” He turned and walked away.

Kaire said nothing as she was still gasping for air. She watched helplessly as the man left the house, leaving her alone. As she started to breathe normally again, she turned her thoughts to one thing: She needed to leave and quick!

Last edited by H-Man on Mon Sep 6, '10, 3:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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