Author's Notes: Hello, readers! I've always wanted to do my own story of the four Soul Calibur warriors' tale of adventure. Join them in their thrilling experience as they embark west to ultimately do their part in the destruction of Soul Edge—an adventure filled with suspense, drama and humor. So buckle up and enjoy the ride.
Disclaimer: I don't own Soul Calibur. I'm merely a fan fiction writer and a fan.
Chapter 1: Towards the Land of Fear and Adventure... And Romance
"Stop!" a man bellowed from in the alley in between two houses as sprinting footsteps grew louder from in it. "Come back, lass!"
A man emerged suddenly from it, in brown suit and black armor, soaked with sweat and heavily panting. His eyes shifted wildly, sweeping from left to right, searching for the person he was after. He took of his helm and swept his forearm across his heavily drenched forehead. There was another row of houses in front of him with alleys in between them. Each has a door that faced him. People crowded from all directions carrying baskets and bags, or tugging donkeys or horses behind them. Some of the beasts pulled two-wheeled carts carrying various loads.
"That brat!" he yelled in frustration as he kicked the wall of the house. All he got was a faint thud as his foot shot with pain.
"Oww!" he yelled as he cursed once again, limping towards the house across the street. He was ignored by the people around him.
A sound of galloping hooves drew near him as people made way for three horses with riders. One of them approached the footsoldier.
"Did you find her sergeant? Where is she?"
"I-I'm sorry, Captain, sir. I lost her as I emerged from this alley. That girl is tricky as a fox."
The sergeant looked away in disgust and exhaled loudly.
"That is most... unpleasant. Continue with the search... And careful what you say about her. Afterall, she's the general's daughter. Carry on!"
The sergeant beckoned his men and jerked the reins of his horse as the three galloped on. Again, the footsoldier wiped his forehead with his forearm and put his helmet on. He briskly walked on, hoping to find the girl. From his side, a beggar wrapped in filthy cloak from head downwards approached him. A grimy hand nearly touched his uniform if not for a quick swat with the back side of his hand. Without looking at the impoverished person, he shooed:
"I'm sorry, granny! Don't have some money to spare," as he walked on without looking back.
A girlish voice giggled underneath the dirty cloak when the man was far away. When she tugged the cloak above her head back, a pretty young face emerged, radiant and smiling. The loops of ink black, braided hair bobbed on each side of her head as they popped out of the constraints of the dull colored cloth.
"Fooled ya!" she said with a laugh. She rolled the cloak on her belly and went to another alley, returning the cloak to a sleeping beggar.
"Thank you!" she called softly, not wanting to wake him up. She lightly ran through alley ways across streets and into alleys again passing by unnoticed by her hunters as she headed towards the exit of the city.
The summer sunlight streaked above her, striking her dainty skin as moisture peeped out through them. She gave no notice of them because the horizon in front of her offered her more excitement than she had throughout her fifteen years of life. It was her dream even as a child of this freedom that her mother spoke of through her young years. She had been enthralled by the exciting tales of adventure and of romance that her mother, Xianghua, had during her quest for the said evil sword, Soul Edge. Leixia pictured them in her mind during their bedtime stories with her younger brother, Leixin. She imagined herself wielding her own sword, defeating and vanquishing evil and meeting a handsome man to love for everlasting and telling her own set of stories to her would be children.
At first, she imagined doing her own adventure with her mother. Xianghua was her first teacher with the way of the sword and as a student, she imitated each of her moves. She mastered them all and aimed to be as good, if not better than her teacher.
"When I grow up, we'll see the world together, mother," she would say at that time and then her mother would agree.
"That's right, Leixia. You'll grow into a strong fighter and meet the boy of your dreams and you will live with him happily."
She didn't notice it at first but each time Xianghua said those words, Leixia noted the distant look her mother had on her face as if she was living again on those days of younger years with that mysterious man that gave profound happiness. Leixia never learned what happened to her mother's lost love and over time, the curiosity waned off, sprouting every once in a while but never really growing.
However, on her birthday today, Xianghua's reaction served as a catalyst to firm her resolve to fulfil her dream and make a step towards it—that very day.
It started when her younger brother came to her happily and gave her a gorgeous pendant with a blue stone at the center—her mother's favorite color, and was hers, too.
"Wow. This is so pretty! Thank you, brother! Where did you get it?" she exclaimed, holding the gift at eye level and inspecting it with interest.
"I found it in the garden. I kept it so that I could give it to you for your birthday," was the younger one's reply with a boyish grin.
"I love it. I'm sure mother would love it, too."
And she ran excitedly inside their massive house to show the newly acquired treasure to her mother. Much to her chagrin, her mother was at first furious then distressed upon seeing it as Leixia presented it to her proudly.
"Where did that come from?" she questioned her.
"From— from the garden," Leixia stammered, not wanting to expose her kid brother under her mother's stern anger.
"Why do you have it? I told them to dispose that far away from this house!"
Xianghua's near teary and shifty eyes and her grim expression terrified her. She didn't understand why. All she knew was that the reason for the upset of her parent was the blue pendant.
"Give it to me!" Xianghua demanded as she took a step towards her daughter. Leixia shook her head, backing one step while hiding the item behind her back.
"Young lady, give it to me!" her mother yelled, voice nearly breaking. The action shook the younger girl because she had never seen her mother in this state before. However, for some reason she could not explain, she found the item behind her back more enthralling than her mother's anger. She would risk being scolded at and punished for the object of conflict.
"Yan Leixia! I'm your mother and I order you to give that pendant to me right now!"
Leixia shook and in panic, scurried away. Xianghua ran after her, calling after her, but gave up shortly. Soon, the younger girl realized that her pursuer wasn't after her anymore. She turned and started to head to her father, Wujin, in the patio of their home to seek refuge from her fierce mother. As she was about to enter into the patio, she overheard Xianghua frantically speaking to him.
"Why is the Dvapara-Yuga in our residence? I told you to have your men dispose it far away from us! Now, Leixia has it! Husband, I'm scared—for her. I've known how it is to live a vagabond life for that mission and I know how very difficult it is. I don't want it for her. You know that. I don't want her to suffer as I have suffered. What do I do? I don't want her exposed to the outside world. Instead, I want her to become one of the emperor's wives."
Leixia could not hear anymore of her father's consolation for her mother. What her mother had said shattered her young heart. She would no longer be able to chase after her dreams. She would be like the other ladies in court doing 'proper' things and walking stiffly, laughing stiffly and eating stiffly. She would not be able to hold a sword again or meet the handsome man she was fated to meet.
Why? Why did her mother change so dramatically? It was because of the pendant—that was obvious. But, still, why? There must be something more about this pendant and the stories she had heard about her mother's quest than what was said to her. There was no point in asking her mother about the pendant. She would be grounded with it taken away from her should she face her. She would then be confined to her room and broken like a horse to learn to live as a courtesan.
She had to find out by herself. Silently, she slipped away and backtracked towards the back door of their house. As she passed by her mother's room, door slightly opened, she saw a familiar sword hanging on a weapon's rack. She grabbed it and escaped outside the mansion.
"I don't have much to go on, but I'll figure it out. After all, this is my destiny," she told herself as she exited the family's mansion. She would find out the mystery of the blue pendant and that of Xianghua's previous quest.
And ofcourse her mother's previous lover.
She would make an adventure for herself and vanquish all evil and meet her own handsome lover. All at once, the fear was replaced by excitement.
That was because beyond the horizon, there would be stories to tell her future children.
"Mama, I will make you proud," she declared.
It was not long before guards were summoned to search for the missing general's daughter. She narrowly evaded them if not for the pudgy foot soldier that saw her and gave chase to her through the alleys. Luckily, his legs were short and he was heavy and slow overall. She easily outran him. She blended in among the crowds not because of her clothes, which stood out among the peasants around her, but by her short stature causing her to be easily hidden among the thickness of the people. It was not long before she arrived near the gate of the city wall.
To her frustration, guards were already posted in a group of eight to sift the people going in and out of the city in search of her. Although an accomplished swordsman for her age, she judged it unwise to engage all of them at once. It would take time to defeat them all and by then, more guards would have been summoned and soon, she would be back to their house receiving reprimands from her parents. She would have to manage by outwitting them.
She observed the thickness of the people passing through the gate in two files as she hid beside a stall a good distance from the guards. There were also small beast drawn two-wheeled carts that carried light loads of trade like racks of eggs, firewood, and small sacks of flour or rice. There was no chance of her going undetected should she try to hide among the people who passed through the gate.
Incidentally, a horse-drawn two-wheeled cart stopped by the stall beside her. She inspected the content of the cart and to her delight, it was only hay. The cart had two-feet high wooden walls on all sides except for the rear. At the front, there was a platform for the driver's seat. While the driver was chatting with the owner of the stall, she slipped on the cart and hid under the hay pile, lying on her right side.
Soon, the cart jerked forward and she felt the bumpy movement of the car. Amidst the crevices created by the hay, she saw bits of her surroundings: the people walking by indifferently, the guards standing by the gate that ignored her vehicle, the abrupt shift from the city feel of her surroundings to a grassy plain one with a dirt road expanding behind.
When she was about a hundred yards from the gate, one of the wheels suddenly jolted upward in a violent manner as it struck a stone causing her to roll towards the rear end of the car, which had no wall, and fall face flat to the ground.
She forgot the pain of the fall immediately and froze in panic.
She wasn't sure whether she should remain unmoving or she should hide quickly among the tall grasses that bordered the dirt road until it was too late.
"Hey, look! It's the girl!" she heard from the direction of the gate. Immediately, footsteps—several of them—came running towards her. There was no time to think. She pushed herself up and sprinted away from her pursuers.
About half a mile on her right was a river while beyond in front and on her left was a forest thick with temperate trees. She ran through the dry dirt road, feeling the dirt scatter behind her in time with her footsteps. The mid-day sun stung her skin causing her to feel the heat of her body intensify all the more. Following her were the shouts of several men calling her to stop. They caused her to run harder.
Soon, the road led her to the forest and slanted towards the river. She quickly passed by the entrance of the forest, feeling the abrupt change of the atmosphere from the searing rays of the sun and hot ground below to the cool gusts of winds brought by the shades of the leaves of the deciduous forest. The trail continued but the ground was rougher. Instead of dry and dusty earth below, the forest floor was damp and uneven, with roots crawling from all direction causing her to nearly trip onto some.
About some distance in the forest, she came to a wide river bank on the right. She decided to stop there and make a stand. She could not go on running the rest of the time. Soon, she would have no breath or strength in her legs to continue on.
As she stopped and walked towards the bank of the broad river, the men also stopped. She recognized all eight of the men as she did most of her father's soldiers. Countless times, she had come with her father during the inspections of his men. There was nothing else to do during those events and so, she made it a past time to study their faces.
"Leixia! Your father sent us to bring you back. Stop running," one of the men said to her. He was the most familiar face among them: a lean soldier with a distinct uniform, different from the men hinting his higher status. Wudao was his name. He was an educated man who became a soldier and rose in rank to be one of her father's officers. He was a strict man and very proud and particular about manners and social etiquette. He openly talked against Leixia's training with the sword and showed cold disdain upon her. He always treated her as a spoiled and rude child. It was because of her love for her father that she resisted every sweet temptation to play the most devious and cruel pranks on him. Among her close friends, she called him Captain Long Face.
It was a very unexpected coincidence that here he was as one of her pursuers. Knowing that his rank was more because of his education and connections with the higher ranks, she sensed that she surpassed his sword fighting skills. He had spent more time greasing his path to promotion rather than honing his way of the sword. She, however, spent her childhood practicing and training with her mother.
Unceremoniously, she drew her sword. Instinctively, all the men who surrounded her did the same.
"What is the meaning of this, you spoiled brat? Don't you realize that I am sent by your father," the self-important man harshly spoke. "You will put down your sword and come with us or your father shall know of this and punish you severely. I will see to it that he does!"
Her face tensed in her annoyance with him. She detected that his speech was out of pure pompous display but she knew also that should she give in to his emotional harassment and let out the expected burst of anger, she would fail.
"I challenge you," she said with solemnity.
"What! What did you say? How dare you, child!"
The word 'child' pricked on her ears like a thorn and stirred out the irritation out of her. She was not able to think as she raised her voice a little louder this time.
"By the honor of my father's guards, I challenge you to a sword duel, Captain Long Face—" the words slipped her mouth unexpectedly that her mind went blank in panic as she tried to correct herself unsuccessfully. "I mean, Captain... Uh... Captain... Er...—"
Helplessly, she slapped her hand on her mouth and stuck it there. As she lifted her gaze towards the captain, she let out a surprised gasp when she realized his tomato red face and his gnashing teeth.
"Your challenge is accepted, you insolent child! Guards! Withdraw your swords. This is to be a battle of honor between this amateur and the captain!"
As they obeyed his orders, he took off his armor and drew his own weapon, a finely crafted slender sword with long flowing tassels beneath the handle. It shimmered under the rays of the sun as he waved them, the tassels flowing like the grass against the wind.
"Child, I shall teach you a lesson."
"All right. I'm ready. Let's fight," she replied as she took her stance. She stood by waiting for his attack. Realizing that she was waiting for him, he took the initiative. With a yell, he ran towards her. He stabbed his sword forward, and missing as she dodged him, he thrust his sword to her right then to her left then to her right then over and over again. Hitting air in every move, he furiously raised his sword high and swung it down with all his strength. She met his strike with her sword with a loud clang and parried it so that he staggered forward as she spun around him. She walked back a few steps to gain distance from him.
"I won't lose, you know," she said decidedly, meeting his beast-like furious eyes.
"I shall ground you to powder!"
Again, with a yell, he charged to her swinging left and right and low and high, in mixed combinations. Spinning a strike. Stabbing at her mid-section. Each of the blows were either dodged or parried or blocked, increasing his fury all the more. The men surrounding them scattered as Leixia continued to step back towards them in evasion. Finally, as she took a quick side-step, Wudao's sword was stuck to a tree. As he struggled to free it, she kicked him at the back of his knee causing him to stumble and smack his face to the tree trunk.
She giggled as he did so
"Arrrgh!" he growled incomprehensibly like a hungry dog as he planted a foot to the tree and gave it his all to pull his wedged sword.
Atlast! He pulled it free but it caused him to stagger backwards and fell on his buttock, arms extended forward, still grasping the sword.
Leixia could not contain herself anymore and let out a high pitched laughter as she doubled over and wrapped her arms on her belly. The guards all around were covering their faces and struggling to keep their laughter out. Some were already trembling in silent giggles.
Wudao glared at them ferociously, causing them to snap out of their merriment.
"Don't you dare laugh!" he warned before he turned to the girl, pointing a finger at her. "Your fun and games are over. You have shamed me past the limit. But it ends now!"
Again their melee resumed. As they did so, she took the offensive this time. She took out on him her own set of strikes from all directions, mixing it to confuse him. He took backward steps as he was forced by her. Several times, he staggered and almost lost his balance. Soon, he was almost besides the river. A few more steps and he would have fallen in its depths.
"Just as I thought," she said to herself. "Poor balance mixed with his poor discipline in his moves is his weakness."
She struck again and they went into a sword lock. She could feel her arms trembling as she tried to fight off his powerful push. She was at a great disadvantage with him being bigger and stronger than her. She looked at his feet and noted the instability of their position on the ground. Taking advantage of it, she kicked one of his legs causing it to slide away from the other and making him stumble and almost fall. As he went off-balanced, she took a step forward, jumped, and spin-kicked him on the chest, putting all her power on her foot. The power of her strike was not at all to injure or to cause pain but to throw her opponent backwards.
Wudao flew, as she expected to, several yards into the deep river with a loud splash.
"Ring out!" she yelled as she danced in victory, whooping as she punched upwards. "Whoa! So cool!"
Wudao's face resurfaced out of the peaceful river. "Help!" he yelped as he swallowed and coughed gulps of water. "I can't swim! Save me!"
The guards panicked and were initially frozen stiff. Suddenly, one of the guards, without taking off his heavy armor, jumped and plunged into the deep river water.
After his splashing sound, the water gurgled and bubbled.
He never resurfaced...
The guards stood by looking at him a few more seconds before realizing what had happened to him. They panicked all the more and hastily pulled off their armor and jumped all together into the water. Initially, Leixia was amused by the turn of events. However, as it went to the worse she grew concerned for them—even for Wudao. However, she also knew that if she should help them, they would still force her back to her father's house. Hence, she fled the scene as she wished them safety.
It was not long before she arrived near the harbour and she was engulfed by the busy scene of people walking or running to and fro, carrying crates and boxes to and from the ship. Amidst the buildings and warehouses was a path that led to a wharf that extended onwards and divided horizontally before it broke off into several branches where the ships docked. She went to the ninth dock where a two masted chuan ship was on standby.
The ship was small compared to others beside it with a length of a little over one hundred feet holding a crew of fifteen. At the rear end of the ship was painted some bold black Chinese characters: Fenhong Nulang, or Pink Lady. True enough, the ship was painted bright pink all over.
An irritated looking man stood by the ramp that led to the ship, wearing a white vest and trousers and black leather boots. His attire was a mix of eastern and western culture. What was particular about him was his hair: although black like most of his race, his bangs were twisted to one side while his side burns reached to his jaws.
Upon spotting Leixia, he snapped to attention and bent his head low.
"The ship is ready to go, Captain."
"Well done, my faithful adviser," Leixia said without returning the bow. "Where's Natsu?"
"Your bodyguard is checking the perimeter for assassins that might attack you, madam."
Behind her, the sound of boots walking along the wooden wharf came closer to them.
"Captain, none of those following you are spotted nearby," said an alto female voice. As both turned towards the newcomer, they saw a young woman, about sixteen years old with large eyes and strawberry blond hair tied with several ponytails at the back reminiscing the legendary nine-tailed fox. She wore a scarlet skin-tight long sleeves and tights.
"Very well, Natsu, you may go ahead on the ship."
Natsu bowed courteously before crossing the ramp that led to the ship. Leixia, again, turned to her adviser.
"Maxi, how are the stocks of our food for this journey?"
Maxi produced a flimsy from his pocket and traced his hands across it.
"We're good," he said with certainty. "As long as Xiba doesn't get his hands on the—"
A scream was heard from inside the ship. Both knew where it came from: the kitchen. Both scrambled to the deck and into the kitchen. Inside was the fainted female cook, sprawled to the wooden kitchen floor and a bare footed, wild-haired boy holding steamed buns on both hands, each carved with his bites. Flour was scattered everywhere and the basket of already made fresh steamed buns was desecrated by his meddling. He sat on the floor in front of five more of his delicacies waiting their turn to be his meal.
Leixia could not contain her annoyance and she reprimanded him sternly.
"Xiba, I thought we've agreed that you would have only three steamed buns per day since we are going to ration our food. What are you doing now!"
Xiba, with his mouth full of his food, replied in a muffled voice amidst forced bites and swallows.
"Mmm. Show hungr. Ssshhteam buunsss. Ssshhteam buunsss. Ssshhteam buunsss. Ssshhteam buunsss. Ssshhteam buunsss. Ssshhteam buunsss."
"Stop it! I said stop it!" she yelled back as he went on chanting the name of the food in a rapid manner.
"Ssshhteam buunsss. Ssshhteam buunsss. Ssshhteam buunsss. Steamed buns. Steamed buns. Steamed buns. Steamed buns. Steamed buns. Steamed buns. Steamed buns. Steamed buns. Steamed buns..."
"Steamed buns, steamed buns, steamed buns..."
Leixia was awakened by Xiba's chanting his favorite food. They were at the edge of the forest, about five miles from the nearest town. She blinked seeing the top leaves of the tree gazing down upon her and surveyed her surroundings. Maxi was gone while Natsu was beside her, lying down with her head buried beneath a small bright red pillow, pressed down hard on her ears.
"Steamed buns, steamed buns, steamed buns—"
"Xiba, quit it! You just ruined my most wonderful dream!" Leixia scolded at him, sitting up and putting her hands on her waist as she glared at him.
The hungry boy turned to her and gave her the most piteous look which unsurprisingly didn't get the effect he had wanted.
"I'm so hungry," he said weakly, voice so thin like a person dying of old age. "I haven't eaten since last night! I just can't stop thinking of—"
"D-d-don't say it! I know! I can't stand to hear more of the word—"
"Steamed buns. Steamed buns!" he wailed in wheezy manner.
Leixia smacked her hand on her face and blew the hair strands on her face.
From the slope of a hill between them and the town, Maxi appeared and jogged steadily towards them. When he was atlast among them, he cheerfully greeted them.
"Good morning, kids! The next town is just a few hours away. Let us rise and shine and pack up because we'll be staying in inns with beds and dining in tables with—"
"—steamed buns!" Xiba interrupted.
"—as our food," Maxi continued after Xiba's interruption. "So, Natsu! Get up! You too, Leixia!"
Natsu sat up on her blanket, yawned while covering her mouth, and stretched like a lazy cat. Her eyes were half open from somnolence.
"You look like you had a terrible night," Leixia commented.
"Naw!" she replied gruffly. "It's just that he ruined my beauty sleep."
"Oh, yes, I understand you."
Both girls packed up their things. Seeing that the whining boy was too hungry to even pack his things, the girls, with much annoyance did his, too.
Soon the group was up and hiking towards the nearest village with Xiba dragging behind them.
"Hurry up, Xiba!" Leixia called.
"I can't walk anymore... Too hungry... Natsu—"
"—Nope! Not in the mood. Go bug someone else, Xiba!"
"Leixia, could you please carry me on your back?"
"What! Give me a break!"
To be continued...
Post-Notes: Please leave a review or comment. They are greatly appreciated. Thank you! :D