Original Author's Notes Retained for adopted Chapters.
Queen Of Shadows
A Jackie Chan Adventures FanFiction
Written by Nocturne No Kitsune
Beta'ed By WhisperToMeSoftly & Zim'sMostLoyalServant
Concept Aided by Eduard Kessel
Thank you guys, you were of big help.
Summery: Not all is well in the Jackie Chan world, or Jade Chan's world even. The rush to stop Shendu from using Jackie to alter the Book Of Ages has brought about a much different ending. Now, young Jade Chan finds herself waking to a much different world then the one she was in. Instead of waking in a world ruled by demons, she finds herself in ancient times and with the weight of a crown and dark empire on her head. Spirits of Darkness call her Queen and Master, and an army stands ready to wage an unholy war in her name while the forces of Light scramble to arms to defend themselves and its champions stand to block the encroaching Shadows. Can Jade survive among the very forces of Darkness she now commands long enough to find help among a world that seeks to destroy her? Will she withstand the test of the Light that seeks to destroy her in the name of good to return to her world, her time? And in the very end, will she want to?
Warnings:Blood, light-to-mild violence, and possible light gore and cursing. If you're not one to like mental and moral issues, then this might not be for you.
Chapter One: Waking to Changes.
It had all come down to this. Her trip from San Francisco to return to her parents, Shendu returning and possessing Uncle Jackie, and following them to Australia to stop Shendu from tampering with some old book. They had tracked the hijacked Jackie Chan here, to this mesa, and entered the sacred Hall of the Book of Ages to be met by the sight of a red-eyed and chuckling Jackie taking an ornate quill to the overly large book. Now, Jade knew one thing. That was that what Shendu was about to do was bad, and no one messed with her Uncle and got away with it. So with a speed born from martial arts training and her naturally energetic self, she hurled herself in a full-body tackle at her Uncle.
Chan's brat had grabbed hold of his elbow, thrashing and shouting like a rabid monkey. Shendu's rapturous joy turned to scarlet anger. He was a son of Xin'ron, a mighty Demon Sorcerer that had brought grand empires to their knees, and a mere mortal child would not thwart him yet again! Adding his own strength to Chan's he swung his arm with some minor magic brought to the front by his rage, and watched as her grip slipped and she was thrown back. He barely registered the sound of tearing paper; he was instead watching the child as she hit the floor hard, a pleasing crack the reward for his efforts. He turned back to the book, laughing as white light began to shine. His laughter died as he looked upon the page he had altered, a page that was torn nearly in two, the cut he had made with the quill blade seeping ink through to the pages below. The glow twisted and warped like a heat wave as it overcame him. Before his consciousness faded, he felt the same horrid chill that he had first learned was a sign of the Book's magic, that day Lo Pei overthrew him.
As for Jade Chan, she could do no more than lay upon the floor in pain listening to Shendu's laughter give way to a deafening roar. "I really hope we didn't lose," was her last thought as darkness took her mind.
Jade's waking was a gradual process, drifting lazily from sleep to the waking world. Her dreams had been strange. She had dreamed herself to be the Queen of the Shadowkhan, standing atop a podium as a vast army of the demon ninja bowed down to her. She had nightmares of that horrible day, where she had been drunk on power and unable to tell friend from foe. Those were her worst nightmares, losing herself to darkness and usually involved a horrible fate for her family. This dream though, had been different. That feeling of being a prisoner in her own flesh had been absent and the darkness around her broken by candles into countless dancing shadows. And standing there amidst the ninja being worshiped she had felt, content. It definitely ranked among her stranger dreams she thought. Best not tell anyone about it though; they would only worry, she thought.
Before Jade could think on it anymore, the dream world around her faded completely as light seemed to creep in from the corners. The images of the various Shadowkhan faded with the world around her, and a enticing smell from nowhere seemed to find her nose and tempt Jade with its scent.
"Smells like… smells like… smells like Uncle's herb tea, only better! And that smells like bread and jam!"
When Jade opened her eyes, instead of the bed she expected and her Uncles surrounding her, she found herself looking up at what looked like the top of a poster bed. Shifting around, she found herself surrounded on all sides by thick, fluffy pillows and covered by a warm heavy blanket. She put her hands up and behind her and was surprised to feel how deep they sank into the bed itself.
"So… so soft. Where am I?"
When she finally managed to prop herself up, she looked around and did a reasonable impression of a fish as she took in the extravagance of the room she was in. It looked like something that belonged to a queen or a princess, everything looked priceless and irreplaceable. Yet even with all its extravagance, the room still somehow retained a sense of dignity. It did not look like a room that belonged to just any spoiled queen or bratty princess, it looked… special. Even the blanket she was half-under looked the same, with a simple yet beautiful design woven into it. Not that Jade would pick the color scheme, but it oddly suited it.
"Seriously, someone needs to lay off the dark colors. All this black, red, blue and everything makes me feel depressed."
Jade kicked off the blankets, and shimmied to the side of the bed and swung herself over the edge and off. Now that she was actually off the bed she could see just how big it was. It was absolutely HUGE compared to the tiny Jade; she was surprised she had not drowned in it at some point with all those pillows and blankets.
Jade was still admiring the bed when she felt a cold breeze around her ankles and legs, and finally looking down noticed what she was wearing. Instead of the clothes that she had had on during the fight, she was now in some sort of loose fitting robe/nightgown. Before she could admire the gown itself and wonder who or how she got undressed and then redressed in the first place, the same enticing smell that had helped wake her from her sleep hit her again.
Walking around the corner of the huge bed and following her nose, she found where it was coming from. There in the corner of the room and in front of a mirror was one of those low-slung Japanese tables, laid out with an array of breakfast foods to choose from. There was warm toast with jam and more. There was even a pot of herbal tea if her nose was telling her the truth and the slight trail of steam rising from the pot was any hint.
Ignoring any ideas of danger that come with waking up in a strange room and finding a full course breakfast laid out, Jade sat down on a conveniently placed cushion and reached for a piece of toast with jam. She took a bite and felt almost blissful at the rich taste that flavored her mouth, and closed her eyes and slowly chewed while she savored it. After she finished and swallowed, she quickly devoured the rest of the piece of toast and reached for another one.
That is, until she looked in the mirror; then Jade shrieked. She never shrieked, she screamed yes, but her lack of high-pitched shrieking was a point of pride for the young adventurer. Despite this she shrieked when she saw it. It was a small girl, roughly her age, with bluish-black hair flowing down from her shoulders. The reason for the shrieking being that the dark blue skin and glowing red eyes clearly announced this girl to be a Shadowkhan, or something of the like.
Her surprise grew when she realized the Shadowkhan girl had also fallen back in what appeared to be fright, propped back up on an elbow looking… The raw fear was replaced with a hunk of ice in her stomach as she put two and two together and tried to get five. She righted herself back on the cushion, as did the Shadowkhan girl. She raised a sleeve-covered hand and was matched with the same motion. Finally she shook her arm and sent the silk sleeve tumbling back to her elbow, revealing a thin blue arm and a delicate hand with blue black nails shaped into menacing points
"Ladies and gentlemen, we have lost cabin pressure," she whispered.
It was a mirror, she was that girl, she was a Shadowkhan, and this was a bad day. As four of the garden variety Shadowkhan sprang from the shadows and surrounded her with shuriken drawn she realized it had just gotten worse
Closing her eyes, she braced for a brutal beating or swift death by ninja… only for nothing to happen. Her natural curiosity got the better of her and she opened an eye. The Shadowkhan were indeed ready to attack, but they facing away from her.
"They're protecting me?" she thought.
Well if she was a Shadowkhan and this was anything like the last time, they would protect and obey her without question. The surprises kept coming when one of the Shadowkhan turned his head to regard her and unmistakably lifted an eyebrow, and revived Jade long enough for her to start thinking.
"Alright, since when do Shadowkhan question their leaders? He's obviously asking what the heck is happening. Never mind, if they obey orders get rid of them. If they think I'm in danger it was because I shrieked."
"Uhh, I burned my tongue on the tea. You can go now," she told them.
Her voice had also changed, though it was not like when she was queen last time. Instead of a constant airy hiss, it was just… airy, more of an echo of speech then the last time. The questioning Shadowkhan gave a slight nod and in a puff of smoke the four ninjas vanished.
Unfortunately, the vanishing of the four ninja's also heralded the vanishing of what little calm and collected thinking Jade had managed to accumulate, as she went into a silent panic, her thoughts racing.
"Bad day bad day bad day bad day! What is going on here?! Come on Jade, get it together and think! Deep breaths like Jackie taught you, and think! What is the last thing you remember?"
A few calming breaths later, and Jade was once again calm enough to think clearly, as she recounted events to herself.
"Ok, Shendu was all ghostly again and hijacked Uncle Jackie, so he could go and mess with some book with serious mystical mojo all the way in the deep down-under. I jumped him, and he tore a big hole in one of the pages when he KO'ed me, and the book started glowing. So what happened? Where the heck did I end up, and why am I all blue-skinned and red-eyed, and sleeping in the royal suite?"
Looking around the room for any clue or an escape route, Jade found something that could possible answer a few of her questions. A small door lead out to what looked like some sort of balcony, and with some trepidation Jade stepped out and looked over the landscape in shock. A single phrase managed to work its way up and out of her mouth, as she stared, and she would later recount on how accurately it described what she saw.
"Whoa… 'Lord of the Rings' much?"
What Jade saw could only come out of such a famous movie, that is if said movie had any sprawling Japanese-styled fortresses. Even then, it looked like she had jumped right into a spin-off. Below her and the tower she was apparently in, a small garden bloomed in a tasteful courtyard, boxed in on all sides by high stone wall except for one, which looked down onto a tiered fortress. Each level had high walls, and was carved almost entirely of black stone and dark wood, and roofed with a dark red tile of sorts. Smack-dab in the middle of it all, was a massive keep that took up the center-most tier.
Jade noted, that at the opposing end of the courtyard, was a single stone path that lead straight down into the back of the keep, and on both sides of the path stone walls and imposing guard towers gave Jade the feeling that being a uninvited guest was not a good idea. With a chill, it also gave her the feeling that if they did not want her to leave, then there was not a single chance in any netherworld of her walking down that path and getting to the end of it alive. Even from here, she could see figures walking back and forth in the towers, each carrying something that looked very much like longbows.
Looking behind her and up, Jade saw that there was no escape there either, for the fortress and the courtyard with the tower was nestled into the cold embrace of a large mountain, and what seemed to be large winged figures patrolled the skies. At the very top, she spotted a series of towers that decorated the mountain like a jagged crown, and watched as the flying shadows leaped from the towers and into the air.
All around her, there was nothing but black stone and dark wood, a shadowy blight of a fortress upon the land, and with the mountain looming behind it Jade wondered what it would look like to stand from afar and see it. On all sides, Jade was boxed in and with nowhere to go, trapped in the middle of a huge fortress. As Jade realized her conditions, once more a small and out-of-place comment escaped her.
"Oh boy, so not good."
Jade stared out and over the fortress for a bit longer, before something snapped, and she retreated back inside as fast as she could and shut the doors to the balcony. With a half-whimper, half-pitiful sob, Jade pressed her back to the closed Doors and slowly slid down until she was sitting. It wasn't shock, or panic that was setting it, it was a sudden realization of something far worse. Jade had suddenly realized that for once, she had to believe that she had jumped right in the fire from the frying pan with no way back and no-one to save her, and even worse she was not herself anymore. This time, there were no witty remarks to light of her situation, just the sudden realization that somehow, someway, everything was suddenly very wrong.
Pulling her knees up, she hugged them close to herself. With a slow, methodical pace, she raised a hand up to her face and let the long sleeve drop down to her elbow so she could examine it.
It was the same as when she had been eating and thought she was suddenly face to face with a girl Shadowkhan; an almost dark yet-not-quite light blue skin, with black and claw-like nails on a slender and manicured hand. No calluses, no marks, no imperfections. Jade could clearly see it was a child's hand, yet at the same time it was like it was more. Turning it over only revealed the same thing, no marks, calluses or scars to speak of – totally perfect in every way, smooth and warm like fine silk when she ran a finger over the palm. But she suddenly pulled her finger away, as if burned.
It was not her hand. It looked like her hand at first, but it was not hers. Her hand had thick and noticeable calluses from all the fighting and Kung Fu practice she did with Jackie on them, and thin scars from the times she fought, or the times she was tied up.
She stopped examining her hand and bowed her head to one side, and let the hair drop within easy reach. She pulled the length of ebony black to the front, and ran her fingers through it. To her, it felt even smoother then her skin had, a sort of smooth and gleaming curtain that hanged behind her. With the light in the room, she could see the hair shimmer almost, an almost-sparkle of sorts. It was so black, and perfect like the rest of her and seemed to drink in the light.
But it was not her hair, not at all. Her hair was short and spiky at the tips while smooth on the top, just the way she liked it. Like any girl she liked pampering her hair now and then, but it was nowhere near what she had now. This long, black, perfect hair was not hers; it had to belong to someone else. It just wasn't hers.
Jade stood up, and with her nightgown dragging she walked to stand in front of the table and mirror. Hugging herself, she could not help but feel through the fabric a lack of muscle tone, or muscles at all and that seemed to drive home the strange fears that were in her mind now. She was proud of the muscles she had, she worked hard for them, and they made her different then those blond-haired girly-girls that dominated her school. She could easily kick around anyone she wanted if she decided to do so at her school, and not just in her own grade. Not even the senior students could match her in a fight if it got hand-to-hand and she cut loose. Not that Jackie would like that, but still. But now, she was not so sure. She suddenly felt weak, useless for some reason.
Looking up and at her red-eyed, blue skinned reflection, Jade came to a conclusion and whispered it out loud, mostly for herself then just the sake of saying it.
"You're not me. You have my face, but you're not me"
She stared at the mirror, and for a moment hoped it would speak out and she could pretend it was a dream, or that this was all some sort of really bad joke. She would even settle for waking up suddenly and learning she had just knocked herself for a loop by getting into Uncle's spells, and that the whole mess with Shendu possessing Jackie and the Book of Ages was nothing more then a very twisted result of a potion gone bad.
But it didn't, and Jade was forced to believe in what was happening to her. There was no dream-like aspect to everything, no hint at anything other then a brutal truth, and Jade's thoughts ran wild.
"What… what's going to happen now? What happened in the first place? This can't be what Shendu wanted, why would he rewrite history if that is what the stupid book does for this? Me being trapped in some tower in a fortress?"
She turned away from the mirror, both so she would no longer have to stand face-to-face with her reflection and so she could give herself a moment to pull herself together. Even she had to admit it, that if she kept on like this she was really going to lose it. So taking a deep breath, Jade tried to clear her mind a little and collect herself.
In a shadowed room, lit by only token lamp-light from small lamps that decorated the edges of said room, three distinct figures sat and quietly drank whatever took their fancy around a large, low-slung circular table. This table, like the three that were seated around it, was very distinct in the fact that its wide surface was a very accurate depiction of Japan and was decorated by small painted wooden models. Each model was slightly different, and had different Japanese lettering inscribed artfully upon them.
One figure, seemingly clad in a dark suit of samurai armor, reached across the table and carefully picked up one such model from the coast near what could be seen as Shikoku Island. This model in particular was carved in the likeness of a stone tower, and had the lettering for "Tobe" inscribed upon its painted black surface in a dull red color. The figure idly twirled the wooden carving in-between its armored fingers, the metal gauntlets seeming to pose no hindrance as nimble fingers spun it back and forth between them.
The figure's eyes watched as the wooden tower spun back and forth, its attention never wavering, not even as the other hand brought up a saucer of some strong smelling drink for a sip. A flash of sharp teeth, fang-like in their quality, and a displeased frown worked its way onto its shadowed face. With as much care as was had with picking it up, the figure set it back down on its rightful position on the coast of the north-eastern edge of Shikoku and the opposing side of Awaji Island.
The figure was suddenly drawn from its silent brooding as a figure across the table spoke up, the large and bulky figure across from him handling a small teapot with a strangely delicate nature as it poured the hot liquid into a small cup and released a smell not much unlike ripe berries as it steamed.
"Mu, Ikazuki-Dono*, you should not dwell on such things. If Joō Heika * wills it, then at the ceremony it shall be made so. But I would not allow your hopes to rise, for I hear that she favors a continued campaign on Kyushu."
The samurai, now revealed as being named Ikazuki, leaned forward onto the table and into the light, revealing blue-tinted lizard-like qualities and snorted.
"And what would you know Ozeki-Dono? You and your tribe find the current state quite pleasing, if I say so myself, and I would think you to pay little heed to what she would wish us to do when it comes to such things, what with you so busy with the slaves and holdings."
Ozeki, also now named, seemed unperturbed by Ikazuki's sharp words and calmly drank his tea, his large and strong fingers grasping the small teacup with all the gentleness of a butterfly before responding, his tone deep and calm.
"My tribe and I, Ikazuki-Dono, are simply the best-suited for our duty. Can you honestly say that you or any of our fellow Generals and their tribes do as mine does, and keep our growing empire supplied and the slaves working? Only my tribe has the patience to oversee the details needed to keep our armies moving, and our holdings supplied with fresh resources. And would you rather displease the queen, and work the slaves to their deaths? You know as well as I, Ikazuki-Dono, that while you know the art of war, you know little about the limits of humans and their ways. Under you, or any other General, they would revolt within as little time as three moons. But under me and my tribe, they are kept obedient and healthy, and work for the will of our queen who finds great displeasure in senseless death."
Ikazuki grimaced, but was forced to accept the facts. He was not a fool to blindly ignore what was truthful and plain to see. But while that was so, it did not mean he had to like it, not at all. But before he could retort, the third figure at the table intruded with a dry, hissing yet jubilant laugh.
"He, he, he, truly, I find your exchanges very interesting my dear Ozeki-Dono, Ikazuki-Dono. But I do fear, that Ozeki is correct this time and you have little chance in continued argument Ikazuki-dono. Indeed, I feel that it is perhaps time to best be silent."
Both Ozeki and Ikazuki eyed the figure that sat coiled in the farthest reach of the table from them, the Naga-like creature that was their comrade, but only Ikazuki bothered to speak.
"And tell me, Kuro-dono, what suddenly compels you to interrupt us for such a declaration? I see little reason for us to cease our discussion, even at the word of the distinguished tactician and leader of the Ika* Tribe?"
Ozeki, for his sake, had already noticed what Kuro had been talking about, and remained silent – if Ikazuki desired to dig his own grave, then by all means. While gaining favor and the ear of their leader was a constant battle among them, there was one who always had the queen's favor and ear, and his face as he watched from the doorway was not one that was pleased with Ikazuki's barbs and attempts to pick a fight. But Ozeki did not hold it against the samurai, for it was in his nature, but it did not mean it should not be curbed now and then. Kuro, his keen mind already set on its course, merely grinned a fanged grin to put Ikazuki's to shame and reminded silent as well.
Ikazuki, on the other hand, was not so keen. While a warrior, he was also a hothead and lost himself in his anger at the slightest notice, and the silence from both Ozeki and Kuro was doing little to help it. As the silence continued, Ikazuki became more angered, and stood from his chair to pull his blade with an infuriated shout only for his hand to be met with another as it reached the hilt of the katana. Turning around, he was met with the sight of glowing amber eyes and the displeased continence of his superior. Now, Ikazuki was many things. He was a samurai with honor, be it with or without him being a demon Oni, and he was a master of the blade, having long beyond mortal years to hone his skill. He was a warrior, and a true monster upon any battlefield. While he was not a genius like Kuro, he was smart as well and had knowledge in magic that he put to good use when his temper did not get the best of him.
But above all else, Ikazuki was sure he was not one thing in particular. Ikazuki was no fool, and would never be any fool at someone's desires. Casting a pointed look from the corner of his eye at Kuro and Ozeki, he slowly released the hilt of his blade, and after the forceful hand removed itself from his wrist, he returned to his seat with nary a word. Even he, with his skill, could not and would not challenge the most senior among them, for even he had no desire to test the limits of his immortal life at the end of Hiruzen's blades. One did not hold the position of Yojimbo* and Adviser to the Queen for as long as he did by privilege alone, and Hiruzen was the eldest of all the Demon Generals. He had served as many as eight different queens in his life, and now Hiruzen served a ninth. Even Ikazuki and his love of battle did not think it wise to offend him.
Once Ikazuki was seated once more and quietly brooding, the now-present Hiruzen spoke, his tone formal but strict with an edge of power beneath it. He said no word or implied no distaste for Ikazuki's actions, he spoke as if it never happened at all. The three Generals easily understood the hidden meaning.
"I greet you all, Ikazuki of the Buke* tribe, Ozeki of the Sumo tribe, and Kuro-Ri-Chi of the Ika tribe. I welcome you three, all honored Generals of the Shadowkhan and loyal servants to our beloved queen to the imperial fortress after your long voyages here. I welcome you here not as your superior now, but as a fellow follower of our queen. As you know, I am Hiruzen of the Shinobi tribe and you are all here as tradition dictates for the presentation of reports from your respective fronts, and your rotation into the fortress. I hope your stay here is restful, and peaceful."
The three Generals winched slightly at the power behind the implied threat, but otherwise kept themselves collected. With formalities almost over, the three removed themselves from their respective seats to bow slightly and then reseated themselves. With this done, Ozeki was the first to speak.
"Mu, and it is a great pleasure Hiruzen-senpai* to be here and once more to be in the presence of our queen. I am ready to present my report at any time."
Kuro was the next to speak, and for more or less repeated what his Fellow General Ozeki had said. Ikazuki, on the other hand…
"As has been stated by my comrades, it is a great pleasure and honor to be here once more and in the presence of our queen, and I too am ready to present my report at any time. But I must ask, where is our queen?"
Hiruzen stared at Ikazuki for only the briefest of moments, as if considering the question, before answering in the same formal, strict tone.
"Our queen shall be with us shortly, she will be finished her breakfast and her morning preparations all but shortly, and I have already sent a escort for her to the tower. Are there any other questions?"
This time, it was Kuro who spoke up, his hissing and dry voice little more then a small rasp in the otherwise quite of the room.
"Why yes, I do have such a question Hiruzen-senpai. Tell me, how goes the preparations for the ceremony?"
Hiruzen simply nodded, and quickly responded to the query from the Squid-khan General.
"The preparations go well, and everything shall be ready by the time the moon enters the proper phase. The other Generals have already been notified, and shall in attendance as soon as their duties are finished. Kamisori of the Reza* Tribe has already sent notice that his duties are almost complete, and anything beyond that is being left in the hands of his lieutenants as he starts his journey here. He has expressed a great deal of interest in being early in his attendance."
Kuro nodded, and thanked Hiruzen. He, for one, understood what was mostly likely catching the Razor General's interest and shared it. After all, it was the first time since the passing of their last queen that all the Generals would be gathered in one place for any great length of time, and if he had heard the flitting rumors as he had, then the queen would be making a declaration of great importance at the ceremony, one that would make or break their current status. Kuro, for one, was hoping the first, to put his skill to the test once more. Throwing shadowed looks to his compatriots, his mind turned.
Ikazuki, as a warrior serving for four queens now, was proud. The current status stagnated him, and the Demon Samurai itched for grand battlefields. Ozkei, on the other hand, had served for six queens and was pleased with the current state of affairs like Ikazuki had implied and would most likely be reluctant to see them change. But as it stood, both were integral. Ikazuki and his tribe served as the backbone of the Shadowkhan armies, while Ozkei and his tribe served as the muscle, and with them there was more then enough to spare. But Ozkei was a peaceful sort, unless prompted to anger. He preferred the homeland, and overseeing the more menial tasks, the little things that kept the growing empire running. Ikazuki was his total reverse in a sense, quick to anger and anything but peaceful.
Kuro casted his eyes forwards, and towards Hiruzen. Even to him, Hiruzen was a mystery, one perhaps too dangerous to pursue. Hiruzen was the eldest among the Generals, around to know most if not all their predecessors long before a queen brought them forth. And for as long as anyone remembered or bothered to record, Hiruzen had always held the honored position of Yojimbo and Adviser to the Queen. No one held the courage to challenge the demon to battle for the title… no one that valued their lives, anyway. Immortal were they as demons, but not gods or born divine. A blade could still kill them, it just took more effort then a human could put forth but not beyond the effort of a fellow Oni.
As quick as Kuro had started his observations and pondering, did he end them. He was not the tactician and strategist for nothing, and t'was a fool's folly to draw attention to himself till the time was right. A sly thought passed though his mind.
"A true general does not move to his enemy, he moves his enemy to him. I shall watch, and they shall tell. And when all is in place, I shall know what I must do. The art of war extends well beyond the borders of the battlefield. The Ika tribe shall gain great favor in the eyes of the queen, for it is my will, and at the ceremony it shall be I and my tribe that will be honored by the queen with the moon's blessings."
A slightest ghost of a fanged grin across his face, and Kuro reached with his serpentine arm for a gourd of sake and a saucer. It would be best to be braced for the coming reports, and as Ozeki and Ikazuki conversed, and the silent Hiruzen watched, Kuro quietly drank.
:::Back At The Tower:::
Jade, for the most part, was exhausted both mentally and physically and was slumped loosely on a puffy cushion in a corner. Pulling herself back together again had proven to be more of a task than she thought it would have been, but she had done it, and was thinking rationally again and chuckled weakly at the fact.
"Look at me, breaking down like this. Uncle Jackie would be rolling in his grave if he were dead in the first place. I just need to keep cool and Uncle and Jackie will sort it out, and if they don't I will. After all, you can't keep the Chan Clan down for long. But just in case, I should start figuring out where I am, or at least when from the looks of things. But where do I…"
It was at this time that Jade noticed something else wrong with the way she was speaking. Not only did her voice sound different, but she was also speaking a completely different language all together! Taking a deep breath, and actually paying attention this time, she slowly and careful spoke aloud again, this time paying heed to the words.
"My name is Jade Chan."
Unfortunately, her suspicions were confirmed when instead of English, perfect Japanese came out of her mouth, in the form of "Mai na Hisui Chan". What really surprised her was when she understood it. Normally, she would have to struggle a bit to get Japanese down and understand it while pronouncing, but now she was speaking and understanding it as if she was born to it. Sighing, she chalked it up as something weird to the growing list in true Jade style.
But before she could continue, the smell of the warm food still on the table reached her nose and her stomach growled with longing. Licking her lips and remembering the sweet taste of the toast and jam she decided to at least finish eating before she did anything else. Sitting down and ignoring the mirror, she decided to try a few of the other things set out and picked up a pair of chopsticks.
"After all, its not a good idea saving myself on a empty stomach. Like Jackie says, you need a hearty breakfast to get through the day."
So with this on her mind, and letting a hungry eye roll across the breakfast spread, before she settled on a covered bowl that emitted steam through small holes in the lid. Careful not to drag the sleeve of the gown she was wearing through the food, she reached over and plucked it up and over to her, and with an afterthought also grabbed a small wooden tray loaded with what looked like grilled fish and a smaller bowl with some rice. Once everything was set before her properly, she took a deep breath of the hearty smelling steam and took of the lid of the bowl, and was confronted with what looked like soup of some sort, mixed with veggies and other ingredients in a deep brown base. Racking her mind, she finally managed to place the name of the dish.
"Ahh! I know this one, Mom and Dad made it once when my cousin came over from Japan! It's a breakfast Miso, and if it's anything like the last it's pretty good."
Now knowing the dish, she set down her chopsticks and brought the bowl to her lips and took a sip, mindful of the hot bowl. After the first sip, she swilled it around a bit, before a smile came to her face and she took another, deeper drink. After a moment, she set the bowl down with a happy sigh and picked up the chopsticks again, nabbing the veggies floating in what was left of the base before she set the bowl to the side and started on another dish with a gleam to her eye at the sudden prospect of all this delicious food.
Moments later, and a honestly surprised Jade had decimated a large part of spread and wondering how she did it while picking at a bowl of dried fruit.
"Whoa, I don't think I have ever been that hungry before. When was the last time I ate? How long was I asleep for? Must of been a long time, or else I would have never been able to eat like that." A small burp and a contented sigh later, and Jade was finished. She politely tided up the various plates and dishes a bit, a sort of thank you to whoever made it if she never got the chance to say it, and pushed herself away and up from the table and stretched herself a little to get the small kinks from her arms and legs from sitting at the low table.
Now with a content stomach and a clear mind, Jade thought about what to do next. From what she could tell, she was probably in Japan if the design of the fortress, the fact that she now spoke perfect Japanese, and the food were any hint. But with her luck, that might not even be close. She might not even be on Earth for all she knew, and what she did know was that there were Shadowkhan here and she was apparently one of them. But she still felt like herself, unlike the last time she was in this position, so she guessed that was a plus.
With these few facts in her head, she looked around for any more clues. To one side there was the door to the balcony, and there was another door on the wall next to it. The table and mirror took up the wall next to her, and now that she looked there was also a small cabinet of sorts set next to it. Other then that the monster of a bed and a few tasteful decorations took up the bedroom, mostly works of art depicting peaceful scenes or animals and greenery. There was also what looked to be some sort of changing area, separated from the rest of the room by a black-painted paper screen. To Jade, it was actually somewhat Spartan. So, with little other choice and not wanting to risk the unknown door, she settled for the cabinet and with some trepidation opened the doors on it slowly only to blanch when she saw what was inside.
"Whoa, should I even be breathing next to these? They have to cost a fortune!"
The cabinet was full to the brim with precious jewelry and such, ranging from headdresses and hairpins to rings, necklaces, and wristbands. Jade though she could even spy an ankle bracelet in one corner. Spying a drawer, she opened it up as well, only to find a few sets of ornate combs lying on silken cushions. One in particular drew her attention, and she gently picked it up and examined it. It was carved from something light and hard, yet different from wood, smoother for some reason yet didn't feel like bone. It was painted a tasteful green with a scene of grasslands, with a single green gem, most likely emerald, set on each side and both roughly the size of a quarter. Without reason, at least one that she could find, Jade was overcome by the sudden desire to use it and comb her new hair into something manageable other than the slightly tangled mess it was now.
For good or bad, she gave into the desire and taking a seat in-front of the mirror again she started to comb her hair, finding the action actually relaxing, and helping her think. Not that she got much of a chance, for at that moment there was a gentle knock at the mystery door, almost sending Jade into a panic. Remembering it was best to keep her cool, and that if whomever at the door was hostile they probably would not be knocking, Jade called out. Or, at least, she was going to till she also realized she did not know how too. For all she knew, there was a certain way she was supposed too. Jade's inner trickster set to work, and evaluated the best way to pull it off. Considering how she had been treated so far, the way the Shadowkhan came to protect her, and the general extravagance she apparently lived in, she figured that she was at least someone important. So, common sense and logic dictated that she act the part. So, how did important people act?
Jade quickly thought on it, and came to two conclusions. If they didn't act like total jerks or snobs, important people just acted like they were busy and didn't have much time to spare and kept their words short and to the point. So, that is exactly what she would do. A quite breath to fortify herself, and then "Enter," was all she said. Right afterwords, two of the garden-variety Shadowkhan walked in, one carrying something that looked suspiciously like a very ornate and high-quality kimono and bowed deeply, presenting the article of clothing.
Not wanting to seem hesitant, Jade took the kimono quickly, getting the idea. After she gave them a nod and a quiet "thank you" the two vanished, leaving Jade alone again. Looking down at the soft piece of fabric in her hands, Jade realized another problem.
"I have no idea how to put this on, but I have to before those two get back. So what do I do?"
She stared at the kimono, a small hope in the back of her mind devoted to the idea that it might suddenly burst into flame and save her the trouble but the rest of her knowing better. With a low moan and a face-palm, she turned around and walked behind the paper separator.
Since she was alone it may have been unnecessary, but they weren't called ingrained habits for nothing. Her hair offered some difficulty in pulling the gown off over her head – honestly, who needed, much less wanted this much hair? Still, in short order the nightgown was crumpled on the floor next to the neatly folded kimono. For a moment Jade had thought that getting out of the alien garment would be a relief, but was now divested of that idea.
She had felt the lack of muscle tone through the silk, but seeing was a different kind of believing. Her entire body was that same shade of blue, right down to her toes with black nails to match the ones on her fingers. She idly wondered if the black was how they were supposed to be colored or painted like some Goth's. Running a hand down her stomach she found it smooth tight, devoid of any muscle tone or fat. It was also unblemished, lacking even the small birthmark to the left of her navel. The surroundings and clothing were bad, but knowing her flesh – no, this was not her body, she repeated her mantra from earlier, suppressing the rise of her panic before it began again.
Recalling the clock was ticking, Jade turned her attention back to the kimono resting on the floor.
"Well at least it will occupy me for a while from having another breakdown," she thought sardonically.
A few moments later, and Jade was once more adding to the list that had started to compile about the weird things she had encountered so far, as she found herself strangely capable when it came to putting on the complex dress and its different layers and parts. She had never even touched one before, but now she knew how to put it on as if she did it every day. She actually found the motions more through instinct then actual thought, almost like her body remembered how to do it but not her head. She had run through the entire process of dressing on auto-pilot, a trance of sorts, and had not even noticed till afterwords that she had apparently not stopped at just the kimono, somehow at some point adding in a small silver headdress and a few other trinkets.
She idly tugged at the kimono, and bothered the small headdress, confused at how comfortable they felt yet how alien at the same time and was tempted to take them both off. Another item in the strange category was that in her experience fancy clothes where always the most uncomfortable. This was far swankier than anything she had ever worn before, but felt quite comfortable. She was even more confused by the fact that sometime during her little trance in getting dressed she had found the time to apparently pull and pin her hair so that it rested only in the small of her back and not at the seat of her rear with the rest folded and held in place behind her head by thin hair pins made of something like obsidian and set with gold. She was actually afraid to pull out the pins, considering how much hair they held up at the moment, and resolved that when this was all figured out and she was rescued, she was going to seriously beat-down on Shendu one way or another for messing with her head and downloading all this stuff into it, and everything else to. She had even apparently put on a set of bracelets; delicate pieces of worked silver or some other metal, and somehow colored a shiny black and set with pearls.
Jade was by no means a girly-girl or one that took pleasure in even small extravagance, so the fact that she would sub-consciously do something like this was actually somewhat frightening, but mostly confusing and left Jade feeling conflicted as everything started to build up again. Her new appearance and situation she had managed to come to terms with, since when she was rescued that would all be fixed. But now Jade was worried if they could fix something that was wrong with her brain. All this stuff, everything that was apparently shoved in her brain, it honestly scared her. What else could have been put in there? What if something was not just put in, but changed? Even by magical means, just suddenly knowing this stuff wasn't right.
But before she could dwell on it anymore, another series of gentle knocks sounded at her door and forced her to put it to the back of her mind for the time. As she walked from behind the paper separator and prepared to allow what was most likely the two from before in, she caught herself in the mirror's reflection and stifled a small gasp.
Before, when she had last looked, she had at least looked the part of herself with the exception of clearly being Shadowkhan and with longer hair if you ignored the other small details physically, but now… but now, she looked completely different, she could not even see herself to tell the truth. To Jade, it was more like looking at a picture of a blue Japanese princess then anything else. The dark, flowing kimono with a strange water print with a moon, the small silver headdress reminiscent of a crown, the bluish-black hair and the way it seemed to stream out behind her yet was so tastefully held in place with obsidian hair pins. Even looking directly at her reflection, she could not see her true self, Jade Chan.
At that moment, something almost snapped in Jade, as she fought to maintain the self-control she had regained. She turned away from the mirror, resisting the sudden urge to shatter it for some reason. After a moment, she was back under control, and invited whoever was outside by simply saying, "Enter," as she had before. Except this time, to her internal surprise, it was not the two Shadowkhan she had seen earlier but two completely different ones.
Where the ones that had brought her the kimono were the type of Khan she had become all too familiar with since coming to San Francisco, these two she did not immediately realize were Shadowkhan. There was nothing ninja about these two, only the red eyes and black color scheme announced them to be Shadowkhan. Rather than the ninja robes she was used to they were encased in black armor, their heads and faces covered better than the normal Khan by stylized helmets. Noticing the swords that hung sheathed at their belts it clicked in Jade's head.
"Samurai, duh! What's the one thing as Japanese as a ninja? The Japanese version of knights in shining armor; or in this case eerily dark spooky armor, the samurai." Jade lectured herself internally.
Without a word, the two stood to each side of the door and bowed deeply as the other two had, apparently waiting. To Jade, the gesture was as blunt as could be. The two wanted her to go with them. Jade was hesitant to do so, but there was little choice. As far as she knew, if she did not go peacefully and willingly, they would take her by force, and she had little doubt that they could get away with it to. So, she simply nodded, and without a single word the two lead the way.
Jade's slippered feet moved in barely a whisper as the two Samurai-Khan led the way out of the bedroom, their heavy boots chinking on the wooden floor and into a smaller circular room. To one side, Jade could clearly see what looked like a stairwell to lower floors, and she remembered that she was at the very top of a rather large and impressive tower. But it seemed that the stairway was not their route, for instead the two Samurai lead her to a strange object in the middle of the room, looking by all means like a gazebo of sorts between a set of four pillar's. At the top of it, Jade could clearly see a thick heavy chain connected to it that hung from a hole in the ceiling. As she was lead on and into the gazebo-like thing, she noticed that it was on rails of sorts that were attached to the inside of each pillar.
As Jade tried to figure out what it was and why they were on it, the floor suddenly shifted, and the chain rattled and clank as the small gazebo they were in started to lower itself through a previously hidden hole in the floor. After taking a moment for it to register, she felt like slapping herself silly for not realizing what it was sooner and resisted the urge to groan out loud.
"Well duh Jade, it's just a elevator! How dense do you have to be? It might be a pretty old kind, more like one of those dumb-waiter things, but it's still an elevator."
Jade watched the floors pass by as the elevator slowly picked up speed, till it was going at a fairly decent rate downwards and to what she assumed was the ground floor. As it did, she paid careful attention to whatever details she could catch. The very first floor she saw, the one right below the room where she had woken up, had a heavy armored door with the kanji 護 painted on its steel front in red paint. Jade was actually surprised when she discovered she not only spoke and understood the Japanese language perfectly, but could now read it as well. When before she would have no idea, she was now clearly able to read it as the word "Guard" printed boldly. As the floor with the armored door passed up and away from sight, another came into view, this one as well with a door labeled with a kanji, and all the floors and doors after it, each with their own circular room like the one outside the bedroom as well as a set of stairs leading down from the previous floor.
By the time the elevator reached what she guessed to be the ground floor, Jade had counted somewhere around 6 or so floors, each with their labeled doors, except for the very last one which had no label at all. Instead, it had a massive lock built into it, and was almost as heavily armored as the first door she had seen. She had also noticed the two Samurai escorting her tense up for a moment as they passed they door, as if in preparations for something that might happen. As the elevator came to a creaking rattling halt, Jade went over to the doors she had seen and their separate kanji in her mind.
The second door had the kanji for "Contemplation", 瞑, painted on in gentle flowing strokes unlike the bold slashes that made up the one on the first door. The door itself was also different, made out of thick heavy wood and set on rails so it could be rolled to one side. The third floor had the kanji for the word "Create", 創, printed on its door and was made like the traditional sliding paper doors that she knew. The fourth floor was actually more then just that, since she did not see any other floors for almost a whole levels worth, so she guessed that the fourth floor with its kanji for "Understanding", 悟, took up a total of two floors and not just one. Finally, there was the locked and unlabeled door.
Jade's train of thought was derailed before she could finish though, as her escorts stepped off the elevator and into the same circular room as before on all the other floors, and opened a large set of unmarked double doors and stepped to each side to presumably allow her to pass first. Following her instincts, she gave both of them a small nod of her head and passed through, finding herself in a large open hall. To either side of her, there was a set of stairs heading up and joining together to make a landing right above her head. She presumed the door connected to the stairs leading up, since she had not seen a staircase in the elevator room. Jade waited for a moment as the two samurai stepped from their positions in the elevator and to just beside and slightly in front of her. The two resumed their pace, and Jade once again followed.
They lead her across the hall, and to the set of even larger double doors set at the opposite end. With a gulp, Jade watched as they pushed open the doors and sunlight streamed inside.
::A Short Time Later::
Jade let out a quiet and relived sigh as she sat in a small and comfortable room inside the keep. She had been honestly surprised she had not passed out from the tension or fear as she walked down that path from the tower. The courtyard and garden that made up the tower grounds had been nice, very pretty even, all the different flowers and trees arranged in eye-pleasing patterns. There had even been a nice-looking spot to relax, in the form of a large bench under a shady Sakura tree. She had even seen a few fruit trees scattered throughout the garden, that she wanted to sneak a few fruit from if she ever got the chance.
But the path to the keep, that had been a different matter all together. A single paved path of stone, surrounded on both sides by high walls. On the way down, she could see arrow slits every few feet in the wall, ready for someone to rain death and pain on anyone below. Then there were the guard posts. Towers of stone and wood were spread out along the wall, and at the top of each was a sentry like she had seen earlier. But now, she could see them up close, and could tell that they were the same samurai Shadowkhan as the ones escorting her with the exception that instead of swords, they each carried some sort of longbow instead.
Normally, the experience would not be so chilling for her, but with all the stress and up's and down's she has been on ever since she woke up Jade had to admit she was a mess. The adventures with her Uncles were a constant thrill ride, and that is part of why she loved living with them. Before her life was just plain and simple, and no way for her to really "Express herself"as one of the counselors back at her old school in Hong Kong said. She had just settled for the idea that her life was completely boring.
But that said she was used to just a constant adrenaline rush and the thrill that came with her newer lifestyle. All this emotional stress was just something over her head. All this crying and breakdowns made her feel like some little girl who lost her safety blanket.
"Well, no more of that. So what if I'm in some freaky place by myself? I've gotten outta worse, or Jackie's gotten me out. I'll just save myself this time, and then find Jackie and Uncle."
With typical Jade-mindset restored and fully functional again, she decided that she would resume her quest for clues to her situation and look around. But after a moment, she realized that there was not really much to look around at in her current settings.
"You know, now that I think about it, this reminds me of a waiting room. That is, if someone made a waiting room for an emperor. Sure it looks nice, but still pretty barren and Spartan. Kind of like the bedroom, except it had some kind of decoration."
And to be almost painfully blunt, she was right. The room was glaringly bare of almost any form of decoration. A soft Tatami-mat floor played host to a small collection of cushions surrounding another low-slung table. The walls were bare, and were wood with paper screens placed in front except for one rather large paper screen opposite the way she came in. That one was very thick, and she could barely make out flickering lamplight from the other side. Jade could almost swear she heard soft conversation coming from the other side as well, but it just might have been a breeze on the paper screen and ignored it for the moment and continued to look around.
Finally, she noticed something that actually stood out from the rest of the room, if barely. It was a small cabinet, made of black wood, or at least painted as such, with gold trimmings and tucked away in a corner. To Jade, it looked somewhat haunting in a sense. In the back of her mind, she could feel a niggling feeling of sorts, a growing curiosity to open it up and see what was inside. And of course, Jade being Jade, she did not even bother resisting it. With a wary look at the door she had entered through and the paper-screen opposing it, she stood up and approached it with a mix of apprehension and intrigue with the back burner thought of how the hell she had been walking in this kimono and not fallen on her face.
With a final look at both entrances to the room to make sure she was alone and no one was watching her, she opened up the cabinet and stared in wonder at what was inside.
It looked like some sort long and fuzzy red scarf laid on some sort of small pedestal. Kinda like the boas warn by those fancy movie stars now and then. What was really drawing her attention were the little balls of multi-hued suspended fire that were in the cabinet with it. The little spheres of rainbow flames floated about like bubbles, and glowed with a cheery light. But for some strange reason, Jade had the feeling that they were not so cheery lingering in her mind. Above all else, was Jade's curiosity as to why the cabinet or the scarf weren't burning. She watched as a few fireballs brushed by the scarf and rubbed up on the cabinet's walls, and yet nothing happened. At first Jade would guess that even through it was wood, it was somehow treated against fire but the scarf was a different matter. It was clearly made of some sort of fur or fuzzy fabric. With a tentative hand, she reached out for a passing blue fireball and almost gasped when she touched it.
"It's… it's cold. And kinda ticklish."
And indeed, the little blue fireball was just that. At first she was shocked, expecting it have been warm and perhaps burn her finger when it drew close, but instead it was cold like a ice-cube. Slowly, she cupped it in both hands and drew the glowing ball of cold fire out, and let out a small smile and childish giggle as it tickled her palms and fingertips. After admiring it for a moment, she placed it back with its brother fireballs with her question answered and turned her attention to the scarf instead. With a gentle hand, she picked it up from its resting place only to recoil in shock and almost drop it. Instead, she quickly set it back down and held her hands close to her chest while shooting the scarf a distrusting look and grumbling to herself.
"Ow! Stupid scarf! What was that for?! Giving me a static shock."
Once the numbness wore off, Jade examined her hands to make sure the thing had not actually poked her or something. After she was sure she was not bleeding or been pricked by something, she turned her attentions back to the scarf. This time, she just settled to idly poking it. After she was sure it was not going to shock her again, she carefully picked it up and was actually able to admire it. With one hand holding it, she ran the other over its length.
"Whoa, it's so soft, and really fuzzy. Why would anyone put a nice scarf like this inside such a dank little cabinet with all those little fireballs? Is it magical or something? It really doesn't look magical, or really feel like it and it hasn't done anything except shock me. I wonder what its made of, it feel's like some sort of fur. And what's this thing over here? A white tip? Where have I seen something like this before? I could swear I've seen something like this before at school, but what?"
And while Jade pondered and tried to dredge up the memory, she continued examine the strange scarf until she found something else strange. At the other end of the scarf, there was little knob made of some sort of hard white stuff. She idly rubbed her thumb over it, feeling the porous surface of it and totally confused. Confused, until she noticed how strangely rigid the scarf was, like there was something inside the scarf. That's when one memory of school came to the front, one concerning a guest speaker from a wildlife preserve and how she even brought one of the animals from the preserve with her to show to the students. It had been a cute little fox, with a beautiful red coat and a lusciously long tail with a white tip at the end.
"This isn't a scarf… it's some animal's TAIL!"
Joō Heika: A very formal way to refer to an emperor or empress, or other forms of rulers in Japan.
Dono: A formal way to address someone of equal status or rank without being overly formal.
Ika: A Japanese word for Squid
Yojimbo: Japanese word for someone who is a bodyguard
Buke: Another word for samurai
Senpai: A formal way to address those superior to you in rank without being overly formal.
Reza: Japanese word for razor
A/N: Wow. Two months since pretty much anything else, just for this one bunny that won't leave me alone. I swear creativity is a curse sometimes. But to those wondering, yes, with this first chapter out of the way, I can get back to focusing on my Danny Phantom works and TF:A pieces for awhile till this bunny gets into the power tools again. MBSTS is next on my update list, and after that I am eying Two For the Show for an update and finish that off. My other Transformer fics are back burner till those two get updates. I hope you enjoyed this, and look forward to more. Slow as a slug I may be, but I will deliver. Wild ninjas couldn't drag me away, I promise. R/R! Now, go out there and do something revolutionary :D
Nocturne No Kitsune,