"Come on, just a little more, we're almost there," Po said as we carried Shanqu through the forest. He was still somewhat unconscious and even with the combined powers of Po, Monkey and me was just barely enough. We all knew that the village he lived in was nearby, so if we could get him there, we could get him recovered, hopefully.
But why had Shanqu even been out there? He was barely alive when we found him, so what could possibly have happened to him? Had he been attacked by someone? If so, how come he had been injured so badly? I knew that Shanqu was a Kung Fu Master, just like the rest of us, so who could possibly have hurt him so badly… unless it was another Kung Fu Master. Come to think of it, Siwang Hu had Fenghuang and Junjie's students on their side, so maybe there were more 'Rogue Masters'.
On the way I could hear Shanqu mutter various things, but he was so weak that it was practically impossible to understand anything. Viper eventually told him to be quiet and save energy for an explanation once we got to the village. He seemed to be a little annoyed by the fact that she gave him orders, but eventually decided to let us carry him. Either that or he passed out.
Finally we got to a big clearing. The nearest houses were a little away from the forest and there was a magnificent mountain lake next to the village. I knew that Shanqu's house was located a little away from the main village, but maybe some of the villagers would let him rest in their house.
Crane hurried over to the nearest house and knocked the door as we carried Shanqu into the village. As soon as the door was opened, a sheep appeared. He was pretty short and was covered in white, fluffy and wooly fur all over. He seemed very surprised to see us, as he most likely didn't know us, but he almost seemed ready to faint when he saw Shanqu – obviously the villagers were actually afraid of him.
After Crane had asked, the sheep shook his head and was about to close the door, but Chikasha's foot hindered it. Suddenly a powerful wind blew past us and into the house and suddenly the door was literally ripped open, as if there had been an invisible hand that had shoved it open.
Chikasha pushed Crane aside gently, yet hard. He then brought his left clenched fist into the air. "Bow before my fist." Suddenly Chikasha snapped his fingers and the sound was much louder than expected. I looked at the sheep, who stared at Chikasha, almost looking hypnotized. Suddenly the sheep bowed down before Chikasha and fully opened the door and Chikasha signaled for us to step inside and walked inside himself with his hands behind his back in a very formal manner. The rest of us followed suit and soon we had placed Shanqu in the sheep's bed, which seemed to be relatively big, at least compared to how big he was himself.
Viper and I let the men – save for Chikasha – remove Shanqu's clothes so that they could clean all of his wounds properly. Meanwhile, we prepared some ointment made from plants, which would help healing Shanqu's wounds.
"It's strange," Viper said as we worked the plants.
"Yes, it is," I replied as we mixed the boiled water with the plants. "I wonder who attacked him and why…"
"No, I mean the man's reaction to seeing Shanqu," Viper said, surprising me a little, since I thought that we had been taking about the same thing. But she was right – there was definitely something wrong about that reaction. He protected their village, so wouldn't they be more grateful and willing to help him?
"So how is he doing?" the sheep asked in a worried tone of voice. I was unsure whether it was because he was worried about Shanqu or if he was still afraid of him. Monkey and Po had put ointment on Shanqu's wounds and Mantis had also requested for us to make him some kind of medicine from a few plants – a tea of some sort. If we hadn't had Mantis along, I don't know what would have happened to Shanqu otherwise without Mantis' knowledge of medicine.
"He'll survive," Crane told him. We all sat in the sheep's living room and Chikasha had of course invaded the poor man's house and gotten all of us to serve him some tea. The sun was starting to rise and we had all been trying to help with Shanqu's treatment all night, just in order to assure survival.
Mantis nodded. "He has taken some serious damage, but the ointment will help him recover."
"Actually," Viper started after a few seconds of silence. "I've been wondering… why didn't you want to let us in at first?"
The sheep looked down at his feet and didn't say anything. He almost looked like he was afraid that Shanqu would hear what he said, but before anyone could say anything, Chikasha snapped his fingers once again, making the sheep start. "Well… to tell you the truth, Shanqu is a cruel man. He protects us, sure, but he is still so scary… when a criminal appears, Shanqu always – and I mean always – beats them up to the point where he almost kills him before sending him to Chorh-Gom."
A few seconds went before the sheep had realized what he had just said. He grabbed his mouth with one hand, as if he was afraid that other information might come out by itself. Whatever Chikasha did with his fingers, I was impressed… actually I don't even want to know how he does.
"Hmm… haven't anyone complained?" Po asked. He also seemed to be very surprised at all of this, just like I was. Shanqu had saved us once during the Millennium War, but this was a whole new side of him, which I had never seen before.
"No!" The sheep said as if it was the most logical question in the world. Actually it kind of was: when they were as afraid of him as they were, how would they ever be able to gather the courage to complain to him?
"Okay, sorry," Po said and held up his hands as if he surrendered.
"Do you know who did that to him?" I asked the sheep, just to change the subject.
"No, not exactly," he said and rubbed his chin. "But I do remember them wearing an emblem with Siwang Hu on it."
The others and I exchanged eye contact. Siwang Hu really was serious! This was bad. If they had almost been able to kill Shanqu, what could possibly happen if they returned? I took a decision right then and there. "Maybe we should stay here and protect the village. If they return, the villagers will have a very poor chance of…"
"I'm sorry, but obviously you don't understand," the sheep interrupted me. I stopped talking and we all looked over at him. "But Siwang Hu is only after Kung Fu Masters. People like me are safe as long as we don't interfere with what they're doing."
"On that note, maybe it'd be best if we just left now," Monkey said. But eventually he changed his mind. "But what about Shanqu? He wouldn't even be able to defeat a radish in his current condition."
"No, that's true…" Crane said as he obviously tried to make up a plan. Suddenly one came to him. "What if… what if we split up?"
"No, how can you suggest a thing like that?" Viper squeaked surprised. "If we stay together, we'll be able to stand against stronger foes and…"
"Viper he's right," I interrupted her. "If one half stays here and protects Shanqu, the rest of us can keep going."
"Okay," Viper said, finally surrendering. Now we just needed to decide who would stay and who would move on.
"I'll stay," Mantis said. "He needs someone to look after his wounds after all."
"I'm staying too," Crane said after thinking for a while. "I think it'd be best that way."
"Viper?" I asked and looked at my friend. I could tell that she was split between staying and coming along. I understood why – she just wanted us all to stay together, but now that we had to split up she didn't know what to do.
"I… I'll stay then," she said, finally making up her mind. "We need a little bit of reasonability here after all."
"Hey, I don't know if those scales are blocking your hearing, but I also decided to stay," Crane said, though I was able to tell that he was just joking.
"Okay, then it's settled," I said, sighing a little at the fact that we all had to separate. "Po, Chi-…" I was interrupted by an annoyed 'Ahem'. "I mean, Chikasha, Po, Monkey and I are going."
"That is all nice," Chikasha said and kind of ruined the moment with his annoying tone of voice. "But we should all rest now and wait for tomorrow, since I am feeling rather tired."
The next day the others and I prepared to leave. We had slept most of the previous day, due to the fact that we had stayed up for more than an entire day and night. We had been provided with a bag of food from the villagers, which I gave Monkey the privilege of carrying. Our goodbye had been pretty short, and not really that emotional and sentimental, since we all knew that we would meet again.
"I'm still a little worried," Po said as we walked along a mountain path. "This Siwang Hu thing is creeping me out; I mean, if they're attacking Kung Fu masters, was it really safe to split up?"
"Fear not retainers," Chikasha said in his usual arrogant tone of voice. "With my bare fist, I will defeat anyone who dares to cross our path."
"That's great, but really – we're all equal," Monkey told Chikasha before he could continue with his long speech. "We can beat the baddies together."
"If you so desire," Chikasha said as we kept walking. "But as the Millennium Warrior, I can only be destined for greater things."
And on that note, we continued our journey across the land. Most of the journey went fine. We did just like we had before we split up – we'd make a campfire every night and eat a little of the supplies that we had gotten from the villagers. Chikasha's personality still seemed to change by the time we set up a camp, as if his arrogance disappeared with the sun when it went down in the horizon. But it was actually kind of fun to see when we taught him various stuff, such as how to create fire with the help of wood itself instead of fire breathing.
"We're there soon," Monkey said. He was right. The climate had gotten severely colder and there were less vegetation as we continued. When we would get to Master Biyu's house, she would help us gather allies to stand against Siwang Hu. That was if they hadn't gotten to her before us. If they had, there weren't many options left. Chorh-Gom Prison was the nearest civilization, so that would be our only place to get any help. Siwang Hu actually seemed to be more powerful than we had all expected.
On the third day on the journey, we came to a little village. None of us had previously been there before, so we were all a little hesitant on taking a break there.
When we eventually decided to, it turned out that the village looked pretty normal. The villagers were all wearing big cloaks, which seemed a little weird, but it was somewhat understandable, since it was relatively cold in the village. The only thing that bothered me was the fact that we could not see their faces – something was not right about this village.
"Guys, we should turn around," Monkey said. "I don't like this place."
"Me neither," Po said. "Tigress, we should…"
But Chikasha didn't pay attention. He was foolish enough to walk over to a stand, which sold wok and ask for some food. Next thing we knew, a metallic chain shot through the air and ensnared Chikasha. The rest of us dashed towards the pink dragon to help, but suddenly a big net was thrown at us from above. There were heavy metallic parts on the edge of it and it was almost too heavy to lift. But before we could get it off, some villagers formed a circle around us. Suddenly they all grabbed their cloaks and ripped them off, revealing who they really were – wolves that had belonged to Lord Shen's army.
"I told you we should have left," I heard Monkey mutter annoyed, at which I just sighed in annoyance.
Sigh... Am I losing my spark? I mean, I used to leave you guys off with tormenting cliffhangers, but I kind of feel like the last ones haven't been too successful or dramatic... or is it just something that I feel like? Please tell me, and I'll see you next time! :)