Chronicles of Liutana

01 - Dreams and Nightmares

The gardens surrounding the Edenian Palace were bursting with new life. The many sakura trees were brimming with pink blossoms, which were just beginning to shower down over the pathways of sett. Beds of flowers sat about, neatly arranged in rows of white, red, yellow, pink and blue. It was spring time, a time of year Kitana grew to greatly appreciate since her realm became free nearly five years ago now. It was a time of birth and renewal of life: A nice change from the constant death and degeneration that surrounded her for the majority of her life. The princess walked contently through the gardens. A small breeze blew by, playing with the end of her sun dress, and strands of loose hair framing her face. She felt totally at ease.

A short distance ahead of her, she spotted a lone figure. She could tell he was a man, tall and sturdily built. He was clad in simple clothes of black and red, and he had black, shoulder-length hair. He turned to face her, and the sight of his familiar, warm smile brought one of her own to her lips. It was Liu Kang; the Champion of Earth, her most trusted ally, and much more personally... the love of her life. Slowly he approached her, extending his hand outwards for hers. Kitana presented her right hand to him, and she blushed when the monk humbly planted a chivalrous kiss upon the knuckles. His head rose slowly, and right as their eyes were about to meet... his form suddenly shattered as though made of fine china.

Instantly Kitana was suffused with fear. Just as a cry of sheer horror was about to part her lips, everything else around her suddenly fractured and exploded into shards just as he had; giving way to pure, black nothingness.

"Liu? Liu, where are you?" she called out, the only sound being that of her own echo.

"Poor, poor Princess... so alone... so sad." a voice sneered mockingly.

Instantly Kitana whirled about, and found herself looking into the face of an all too familiar enemy: the sorcerer Shang Tsung. He stood passively, his arms nonchalantly folded behind his back, and a cold, mocking smile upon his pointed face. Kitana, now miraculously dressed in her battle attire, immediately drew her fans.

"Where is Liu Kang?" she demanded tersely. "What have you done with him?" Tsung's smile turned into a smirk.

"Liu Kang is gone." he answered simply. Kitana sneered angrily, raising one fan so that one of its prongs hung precarious centimeters from his forehead.

"Do not waste my time sorcerer!" she hissed. "Tell me what you did to Liu Kang!"

"Shang Tsung speaks the truth Princess." another voice, much deeper and more sinister, suddenly chimed in. Kitana turned behind her again and felt a surge of anger and disgust travel through her at the sight of another enemy; Quan Chi. Realizing the dangerous position she was in standing there between them, Kitana abruptly back flipped and took a defensive stance, ready for the sorcerers to lunge at her.

"I grow tired of this banter." she said angrily. "Now tell me; where... is... Liu Kang?"

"He no longer draws breath." Quan Chi stated simply. Suddenly he lifted his right hand, and what hung from his gloved fingers made Kitana nearly drop both of her weapons.

There, hanging by torn and snagged locks of his hair, was Liu Kang's severed head. His eyes were lifeless, his face battered and bloodied, and tendrils of flesh hung grotesquely from his still-bleeding neck. Kitana immediately doubled over and clutched her turning stomach. Her blood ran cold in her veins, and she was suddenly overcome by an overwhelming urge to vomit. She could hear the sorcerers' chuckling, and rose teary eyes up at them in disgust and despair. Quan Chi lifted the head and gazed mockingly into Liu's listless eyes.

"Liu Kang was weak, almost as much in life as he was in the moment of his death." he stated.

"And now," Tsung chimed in, "his soul is finally mine!"

Suddenly he brought his hands together, casting them in an eerie, sickly green glow, and gradually pulled them apart. The ghastly energy flowing between them then formed into the image of Liu's face, twisted in obvious agony.

"Kitana! Help me!" he mournfully cried. And that caused her to snap.

With a maddened screech that could easily rival her mother's capability, Kitana lunged for the necromancers; ready to tear them both to shreds. Quan Chi suddenly threw Liu's head aside and grasped her by the throat, forcing her back onto her knees as she gagged for breath. Feebly, the princess attempted to reach up and pry his grip loose, but the deprivation of oxygen weakened her. The pale-faced sorcerer leaned down, his face mere inches from hers, and he grinned maniacally.

"There is nothing you can do to save him now..." he murmured, and Kitana felt raw fear quickly run through her. "And now, you too shall die!"

The then clenched with all his might

Kitana abruptly sat up with a start, her hands immediately flying to her neck. Everything was in tact. Panic-stricken, wide eyes swam about her surroundings: She was no longer in the blackness with the sorcerers, but rather in the familiar sight of her darkened tent. Her three chests piled in the corner containing her belongings, the low table on the opposite wall, the mirror and the maps scattered about on top of it; it was all there, and all real. Forcing a few deep breaths, Kitana lowered her throbbing head into her hands.

It had been the same ordeal for the past three nights. Ever since Kung Lao suddenly appeared at her encampment and told her of the horrid news, the visions constantly plagued her. The princess could not decide what was worse; the purely frightening and sickening image her mind created in her sleep, or the truth that Liu Kang really was dead.

"Damn these dreams to Hell." she muttered venomously. She nodded, correcting herself. "Damn these nightmares to Hell."

Dreams were something almost foreign to her. Dreams were pleasurable, happy images that one had in their sleep. But nightmares were far more familiar. They were like the slimy, disgusting tentacles of an octopus that entrapped their victim and dragged them into their dark abyss. Nightmares were a normalcy for Kitana that she would gladly like to be rid of. She had nightmares throughout her childhood, when she discovered her true identity, when she fought Shao Kahn's forces on Earth, when she went to war with Shinnok, and now, when Shang Tsung and Quan Chi suddenly slew the Emperor and rose to power.

Grudgingly, the warrior princess rose from her cot and went to open the flap of her tent. She could see the first bits of sunlight stretching over the mountainous horizon, and she sighed heavily: Yet another night of precious sleep lost. It was then that she firmly decided what she would do.

Kitana retreated into her tent, shedding her yukata* and tossing it carelessly aside. She dressed into her familiar leotard of deep lavender, pulled into her boots, slid on her gauntlets, and braided her long hair back. She then began to strap on an assortment of weapons; from daggers to darts to shuriken, all tucked away in her clothing. And of course, she gathered her most trustworthy blades, her two steele fans, and tucked them into the holsters in her thigh-high boots. Lastly she packed a satchel of clothes and medical supplies, tossing onto her shoulder and exiting when she finished. Kitana set out to find Kung Lao, and would join him on his expedition to find the elusive Master Bo Rai' Cho. She was going to gather her strength, and she would join him and their other allies in bringing down this 'Deadly Alliance' once and for all.

And perhaps finally, once it was all over, she could return home and dream again.

*yukata - old Japanese sleeping robe.