Monday, September 30, 2013

Ji Jiang VI

The young man might realize the fatal drawback to its scheme and refuse to cooperate. Therefore, it hid its history as “Fuxi” from him.

But it was too late. The titles everywhere in the palace, Longxi’s strange garments and gait, all roused the young man’s suspicion.

When he returned, the young man studied many histories and records, and, with the help of an extraordinarily intelligent girl, finally discovered the true identity of his mysterious master.

The young man was at first puzzled. He didn’t understand why anyone would hide such a glorious and honorable past. But very quickly, he realized, and shock and worry followed.

There was a conspiracy at play, a terrible conspiracy.

He had to stop it!

The young man knew well the dangers, the near impossibility of success. Failure would bring with it horrific retribution, but he didn’t fear anything that might happen to his person after failure. Compared with the devastation that would result from the conspiracy’s success, any damage done to an individual was reduced to insignificance.

The most important thing was, he had to succeed. He couldn’t fail! He was one of the greats of this era, a talent found perhaps once in a hundred, a thousand years. If even his intelligence exhausted to its utmost couldn’t stop Longxi’s conspiracy, who afterward could save them?

He must succeed!

He left no stone unturned, using all of his knowledge from the battlefields to create a secret plan of his own. He would use the strongest force in all of nature, one that he’d never used in a battle before-- the fires below the earth.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Ji Jiang V

It was night. The lights in camp shone bright as everyone, from the commanders to the footsoldiers, celebrated their victory.

In the main tent, the King of Qi had arranged a bountiful banquet. He toasted his subordinates one by one, praising their hard work.

Ji Jiang stood at his side, arms sore from pouring so many cups of wine, but her heart was light.

Suddenly, rushed hoofbeats sounded in the distance. The guests were taken aback-- who dared to ride at a gallop within the King of Qi’s camp? The hoofbeats ceased outside of the main tent.

The King of Han and his men swarmed in.

The guests had yet to recover from the wine and the shock when the King of Qi knelt and paid his respects. “Your servant greets Your Highness. I didn’t know of your visit and therefore failed to send a welcoming party. I hope Your Highness will forgive me.”

The King of Han didn’t bother to reply. He went straight up to the King of Qi’s seat at the banquet, sat, and picked up the Grand Marshal’s tiger tally. He turned it round and round in his hands, gazing at the King of Qi. Cheerfully, he said: “Western Chu is no more, and peace returns to the world. King of Qi, you won’t be needing this anymore, will you?”

Ji Jiang’s fingers tightened convulsively around the handle of her wine jug, fearing that she wouldn’t be able to resist dumping its contents down the King of Han’s face.

The King of Qi untied the purple cord at his hip, set it in front of the King of Han, bowed, retreated a few steps, turned to face his stunned subordinates. “From today onward, you will all obey the command of our Great King. Do you hear?”

It took a long time before his subordinates replied with a ragged chorus of: “We hear.” “Aye.” “Yes”

One officer, drunkenly sprawled across his dining desk, slurred: “Great... Great King? Aren’t... aren’t you the Great King?”

The King of Han wore the same wide smile as before, but in the depth of his eyes flashed an icy glint reminiscent of a bird of prey.

The King of Qi said: “Not me, but the King of Han!” Raising his voice, he asked once more: “Do you hear?”

“We hear.” His subordinates managed some semblance of unison this time.

The wine jug fell to the floor with a crash. Its contents spilled, rich and fragrant and gurgling.

Ji Jiang stormed out of the tent.