Legends Between Worlds
The first thing that registered in my mind as I came back to the conscious world was the numbing soreness that screamed throughout every fiber of my being. The dull ache that had settled deeply in my joints and muscles wasn't excruciating… but it was enough for me to understand that I must've had my shell handed to me on a silver platter not too long ago.
The second thing that registered was that I was very much alive; the pain was proof of that fact. At this point, my tired, unfocused eyes had fought their way open to the fuzzy, indistinct colors of mahogany, jade, and cream. I could faintly make out the warm, amber glow of a flickering candle somewhere beside me and the sound of light bells—maybe chimes—in the distance but that was as far as my powers of observation went at the moment.
I quickly and tightly sealed my eyes, a pounding headache made itself known not too long after I had first opened them. I groaned softly, lifting one of my arms and draping it over my forehead as if the act would alleviate the pain somehow.
How did I end up here anyway… and, more importantly, where was I? I could tell that I wasn't being held against my will—these new surroundings were way too serene to be counted as a holding cell. I hadn't been bound or gagged in anyway and the room didn't look locked or blocked off from the outside. As a matter of fact…
I opened my eyes again, my vision became clearer while I glanced to my side carefully. The room looked very similar to Master Splinter's meditation room; there were rice paper panels that served as dividing walls between neighboring rooms and there was the distinct smell of jasmine and sandalwood lingering pleasantly in the air. Despite these familiar qualities, there were still slight but prominent differences that made it obvious that this wasn't my father's room.
… Which brought me back to the question at hand: Where was I and how did I get here? Ugh! What had happened to me? The last thing I remembered was going through a topside training run with Raph and—
My eyes widened with a sharp gasp before my body shot up and into an attentive sitting position. I realized then that I had been resting on a cot and that a thick blanket had been draped over me considerately. Within the span of a couple of seconds, a nearly nauseating dizziness swept over me but I curtly ignored it as I glance around the room, hoping that my little brother was somewhere in my range of view.
… And neither were my weapons…
A sense of dread settled deep within my stomach, tugging at my brotherly instincts and igniting my sense of survival. Had we been attacked and, therefore, separated at some point? If that was the case, then who had attacked us and why? It couldn't have been the Foot—the Shredder was long gone, effectively demoting them to 'ninjas for hire'. It couldn't have been the Purple Dragons—they didn't have the skills, means, or intelligence to overcome either of us.
So… so who had attacked us?
…Ugh! Whatever; it didn't matter. What I needed to do now was find Raph… and fast.
I huffed out a silent breath, focusing momentarily on willing away the dull ache in my muscles and the burning in my nerves before I pushed the blanket off, plant my feet on the floor beside the cot. I found myself standing in one moment and soundlessly sliding the door open in the next. I needed to be discreet in this new, unknown place; I didn't know who else was lurking about other than myself so being invisible was the most favorable option.
I peaked out into the narrow hallway, happy to find that it was deserted. I wasted no time; I sprinted with noiseless footfalls upon the wooden floor, moving on the balls of my feet towards, what I assumed, was the exit. When I saw what was on the other side of the door leading to an unknown outside, I nearly fell over with shock.
Alright, I was definitely not in New York anymore.
Instead of the overpowering rankness and uncomfortable humidity of the sewers, there was clean, cool air and open, cloudless skies that had dimmed with the approach of nightfall. My feet landed upon smooth cobblestone and textured earth; a refreshing change from the abrasive feel of city concrete. The whole place looked serene and, oddly, inspiring… although it looked like something that had came straight out of an ancient Chinese text or an authentic Kung Fu movie. I couldn't help but gawk a little, unable to believe what my senses had perceived.
"Ah, I can see that you are awake."
An unknown voice sounded off beside me suddenly, jolting me out of my momentary stupor of amazement. I clumsily stumbled away, my aching body loudly protested as I swiftly took on a defensive stance. I aimed a heated glare at the stranger before me, hiding my shock well when I noticed that he wasn't quite… human.
Wise steel blue eyes looked up at me with a mixture of surprise, curiosity, and authority, his small form—standing no taller than my kneecap, actually—leaned mildly against a tall staff three times his height. I… couldn't tell what he was exactly but I did know that he was an animal of some kind… with big ears and… a stripped tail… damn, I should've listened to Don during his rants about the animal kingdom…
"You shouldn't be moving so fast just yet, young warrior. You are still recovering from your injuries."
Yeah, no kidding…
I brushed off his concerns, my glare sharpening ever so slightly, "What have you done with my brother? Where is he?"
One of his ivory white ears twitched before both of them shifted from the sides of his face to the front, as if they had been the last part of him to give their full attention, "The other turtle, you mean? He's in the infirmary."
My heart began to beat a mile a minute, my stance dropping slightly as his words resonated within my head. How seriously was Raph hurt if he needed to be tended to in an infirmary?
When I didn't reply back right away, he explained further, probably seeing the worry and question in my face in regards to the health of my brother, "You're brother is fine. You both had suffered from temporary paralysis. He, however, had also sustained a dislocated shoulder and heavy bruising. You were a bit better off then he was," He gave me a small smile of reassurance, "All he needs is some rest and, perhaps, some acupuncture… if he is willing, that is."
I couldn't help but sigh out loudly with relief, my defense dropping almost completely, "Good… that's good."
The nameless creature… man… person nodded his head with understanding before chuckling deeply, "You must be the oldest brother."
… Was I that obvious?
"What is you name, young warrior?"
I sighed, standing up straight, wincing slightly when a swift eruption of pain vibrated violently throughout my nerves, "L-leonardo."
"Leonardo?" He said, stroking his beard, his bright eyes staring up at me with curiosity, "Hmm… an interesting name… but, no matter, I am Shifu," He bowed his head respectfully, "Welcome to the Jade Palace. You may recover here in safety if you wish."
I smiled weakly, quietly wondering if Shifu- a word I believe translated into 'teacher'- was his actual name. I didn't question it though; this man was kind enough to provide me and my brother with hospitality and shelter. Besides, it was in my best interest to stay and heal in a location where I was openly welcomed. I didn't know where I was so it was best to stay in a location where I was openly welcomed. I wouldn't be surprised if we had somehow ended up in another dimension… How we ended up in said dimension, however, was far more worrisome at the moment.
I bowed my head in response, smiling gratefully, "Thank you for your kindness. Is it alright if I see my brother?"
"Of course," He nodded, turning on his heels before walking in the direction of another nearby building, "Come with me."
I watched with silent suspicion as Viper tended to the nameless turtle. I stood at the foot of his infirmary cot, my arms crossed as an unsettling mixture of curiosity and caution whirled around restlessly in my head. I understand why she felt the need to help tending to our two, rather abruptly introduced guests: she was kind and always willing to help those who were hurt or in need, even if they were complete strangers. I, however, wasn't so open with my kindness; I wasn't as trusting.
Viper was very much like Po in that aspect of her character but-also like Po- it was her undoing. We didn't know who these warriors were, where they came from or- more pressing in this situation- how they got within the walls of the Valley without being spotted by a single villager. It was like they had just… appeared on the doorsteps of the Jade Palace. Not only that, but with weapons. Those facts, alone, should've warranted some kind of suspicion or skepticism towards their intentions.
But… I suppose it couldn't be helped. It wasn't like we could press them for answers in the state they were currently in. What other choice did we have but to help them? Despite the mystery behind how they came to be in the Valley of Peace or the grounds of the Palace, their health was more prudent … for now, anyway.
Viper, after propping the turtle's head and injured arm a little more with another layer of cushions, carefully undid the knot of his crimson mask and pulled it away with a gracefully, considerate tug of her tail.
After a few seconds of starring at his uncovered face, she titled her head to the side thoughtful, "Huh…"
"What...?" I asked, taking a step to Viper in order to catch something she might of seen in his unveiled face.
After a few seconds of silence, she turned her heard towards me, her trademark serpentine grin spread slowly across her lips, "He's kind of cute."
I felt my face fall into a dull expression involuntarily, "Viper…"
Her eyes widened innocently, "What? Its just an observation."
I narrowed my eyes half-heartedly at her, "Be a bit more serious, please."
"I am! He's one handsome looking turtle… in a tough, grungy kind of way."
I shook my head, pinching the bridge of my nose in between my index finger and thumb, "Attractive or not, his and the other's intensions are more important right now."
She sighed, relaxing her body so that she could slither away from the cot and towards me, coiling up into a stationary position by my feet, "I know… but they seem to be good people. Did you see how protective and pleading the other was towards his friend here? He was fighting through his paralysis to get them both to the Palace."
"It could've been staged," I retorted, my arms crossing over my chest once again.
"Or they could've been attack on their way here," She defended, tilting her head to the side, her head ornaments shifted with the motion, "You know why Oogway made the Valley of Peace: so that people of all sorts could come here for a peaceful life… that is including other warriors."
I sighed roughly, "If that is the case then why were they attacked in the first place?" I questioned before sighing, turning my eyes back to the unconscious turtle, "There are too many unanswered questions here, Viper. Until we know exactly who they are and where they came from, we should not drop our guard around them."
"… Guilty until proven innocent then?"
"Exactly," I didn't even hesitate with my response.
Viper chuckled, "I wouldn't expect anything less from you."
Before I could comment on her statement, the sound of my master's voice resounded behind me. Both Viper and I turned to the doorway of the infirmary to see my adoptive father… as well as the turtle in blue making their way towards us. He limped as swiftly as he could towards us while my master walked beside him at a slow pace, as if to provide assistance if the outsider were to fall or stumble. I frowned slightly; why was Master Shifu being so trusting of this person?
Wise, grey eyes stared back at me through an ocean blue mask when I finally decided to look this stranger in the face. He seemed to regard me with wonder and curiosity before he politely bowed his head, a small smile etched itself onto his lips, "Thank you for watching over my brother, as well as providing us with hospitality. You have my deepest thanks."
I stared at him reflectively before returning his words with a curt but polite nod. Viper, however, was bit more vocal. She smiled sweetly up at him, slithering closer and craning the top of her body upward so that she could get a better look at him, "No thanks needed. We're just glad that your injuries weren't that serious."
He gave her the same look of wonderment that he had given me- had he never seen women of our species before? After a brief moment of hesitation, his smile became more warm, reflecting Viper's, "That's good to hear. Again, thank you."
"Leonardo, these are two of my students," Shifu said, gesturing towards us, "Master Tigress and Master Viper."
My fist met my opposite palm as I bowed at the waist, Viper simply bowed her head deeply and respectfully upon Shifu's introduction.
"Masters? Masters of what?"
I couldn't help but stare openly at him. Was this boy seriously asking such a question?
Master Shifu humored him although he also looked a little confused, "Masters of Kung Fu. All the occupants of the Jade Palace are skillfully trained martial artists. Each one masters of their own unique style."
He made a sound of clarification, dipping his chin curtly with understanding, "I see. That's quite impressive."
"… Where are you from?" I found myself asking the question before I could stop myself, my suspicion winning over my silent decorum. Master Shifu flashed a look of caution in my direction but I promptly ignored it. I knew he wanted to ask the same question.
The turtle, Leonardo, stared at me with mildly startled eyes before he smile at me in a seemingly innocent manner, "I'm from no where around here."
… Oh, this turtle was good.
I glared half-heartedly at him, my stance became mildly defensive, "Please do not take offense but if you are going to stay here, under the protection of the Jade Palace, we must know who we are providing our hospitality to. For all we know, you and your friend could be wanted criminals or fugitives-"
"Tigress, not now…," Viper whispered in a low, sing-song tone but I ignored her. I took several steps towards him, until there was only a foot between our noses. I found it odd that he was standing his ground towards my advances. One who was not fully trained in the art of fighting would have become defensive, protective, or- at the very least- broke eye contact. He stood firm, staying cool, accepting the challenge in my approach without so much as a second thought. He was either very foolish… or well trained.
I continued without a hitch "- So I would suggest that you, at the very least, give us an inkling as to where you had came from."
Without missing a beat, he responded, his voice steady and unwavering. It upset me that not even his face gave away his hidden feeling to my approach. It made me greatly uneasy…
"I believe that me and my brother have a right to our own privacy, Master Tigress," His eye eyes hardened but besides that, nothing else in his expression was readable, "But I can assure you that we are not criminals, nor do we mean you any harm. We are just two warriors that wish to get back home. Nothing more."
… This turtle was really good.
… That, and I was starting to not like him very much.
"Tigress, that is enough," Master Shifu said just above his neutral voice, warning me to pull back the intensity in my approach. I found this very odd for my teacher and father to do. Usually, he would side with me, especially in a situation like this, but now he was silently scolding me. Why though?, "Return to you training until dinner. The same goes for you Viper."
Viper dipped her head with acknowledgement, "Yes Master."
I hesitated, "But Master, I-"
"Do not argue with me, Tigress," He said firmly, looking at me pointedly, "To the training hall. Now."
I swallowed my words and my pride with a great deal of effort. I gave the turtle, Leonardo, a quick but thorough once over before I dipped by chin towards Shifu reluctantly, "Yes… Master."
And with that, I sauntered out of the infirmary at a swift, fluid pace, breathing deeply in order to control my growing aggravation. Viper slithered closely behind me, sensing my boiling anger.
I really hoped Po was training now. He was the only one that would willing spar with me when I was like this…
A/N: So, what do you think? I had to do a a hell of a lot of research in order to feel comfortable with posting this story. I'm comfortably a TMNT fanfic writer… but KFP? The world is so large and the info is so vast, I didn't want to miss anything or over look something that would piss of a KFP fan.
Read and review please and tell me what you think.