The Captain of Chi Lung--part eight

Fiction By LoriAnn // 12/1/2009

 

Part VIII
 
 
Lei could see – sort of. The world seemed misty and undefined, lit with pulsing colors and strange shadows cast by nothing. Her senses seemed mixed up; her ears tasted colors, she smelled sounds with her tongue, and her nose tingled with the sharp feeling of clashes and shouts. The only thing that seemed solid and real was Feng’s hand in her own.
Suddenly, everything settled into place, and she was lying in a bed, as soft and luxurious as anything she had ever felt. Her hands caressed the soft covers, and she looked around in bewilderment. She shouted – and the voice was not her own.
A dark, cloaked figure stood beside the bed.
“What do you want?” Lei demanded, but it was not her voice that spoke. Instead, she realized in confusion, it was Feng’s voice.
The dark figure said nothing, but raised a hand – and everything went black again.
Just as quickly, the light returned. Now she was in a dimly lit room, and Chu Min sat on a rough chair in front of her, and swirled wine absently in a thin goblet.
“Captain Hatuka Feng,” she said musingly. “One of my better catches, I’ll admit.”
Startled, Lei looked down at her hands. She was no longer herself – she was Feng, and in the tiny hole under the rock outside of Hang Po! I’m somehow experiencing his memories, she realized. How is this possible?
She couldn’t wonder about it for too long, however; for now the images came fast and thick, as though spurred on by her understanding. Every day, every torture, every anxious moment was played out in front of her. Even her own conversations with Feng – only this time, she heard them from the other side, and felt Feng’s emotions throughout. Lei flushed to feel Feng’s admiration of her, and winced to hear how juvenile and silly she often sounded.
Then Chu Min returned – and the hag knew! Somehow, she knew of Feng’s secret meetings with Lei. Furious, the witch snatched Feng away to her labyrinthine lair under Chi Lung. Lei wept to feel Feng’s pain and despair as he was kept prisoner so close to his own home, but no one knew were he was – not even the woman he loved! In his despair and confusion, Feng believed Chu Min immediately when she gloated that Fa Lei herself had betrayed him.
Tears ran down Lei’s face, as the deepest quakes of empathy for Feng rocked her soul. How could she do any different? It was as though his emotions were her own – she was no longer one person, no longer only Lei. Now she was part – all – whole - half – Feng too.
Lei collapsed to her knees as the dreamlike images continued to explode in her mind. Her face was wet with tears, the emotional overload expressing itself in the only way it knew how.
She tightened her grip on Feng’s hand, which had someway stayed clutched in her grasp, and felt him give an answering clasp.
“Feng,” she heard herself say through the barrage of images. “I didn’t know…”
He grasped her face, and she felt his hand damp with his own tears. “Neither did I,” he replied. He wiped the tears away from her scarred eyes with his wet thumb.
Burning pain filled Lei’s head, blocking out even the explosions of Feng’s memories. She screamed and fell back, clutching her head with both hands.
Feng grabbed her shoulders. “What’s wrong?” he demanded. A rushing sound, like wind and rain and waves and thunder and horses’ hooves and a thousand birds’ wings all together, filled the air.
Lei rocked back and forth on her knees, unable to speak or weep or even cry out again. It felt as though her head was being slowly crushed by a vise or a millstone; or as if her eyes were being scorched from her head with red-hot rods. And yet, at the same time, it was good – somehow she knew that it was right.
“Lei, what’s happening?” Feng sounded afraid.
A horrible sound like a voice, but unlike any sound heard by human ears suddenly exploded from the rushing wind. “Curse you for a thousand dogs!” it shouted. “You have brought light to our domain – what have you done?”
The pain in Lei’s head dimmed slightly, and she managed to look up, with tears still streaking her face. “You are—destroyed!” she gasped out, glaring up at the thing that stood there; though really, it was more of a none-thing, and it more didn’t stand there.
The not-creature, the wraith, snarled in futile rage. “How dare you bring healing here? To the very abode of pain!”
Feng stood, and drew a sword that hadn’t been there a second ago. Blazing with light, he menaced the non-creature. “Be gone!” he ordered it. “In the name of the true Master, He Who Lights the Stars; in the name of H’su, I order you to leave! Return to the pit that spewed you out!”
There was a shriek that seemed to rip the sky, yet it was so high-pitched that it barely registered in Lei’s ears. The wraith seemed to thrash about frantically – then, with a thunderous explosion, it vanished.
The sudden silence was like an alien thing. Lei wiped her face, as the last remnants of pain drained away, and stood. Feng still held the fiery sword, but it was dimming, fading away; even as the strange, unearthly place they stood in dissolved into weak grayness.
“We should go,” he said quietly, putting an arm around Lei’s shoulder comfortingly.
Lei nodded, watching as their surrounding began to melt away. Grasping hands again, the stepped forward together.
 
 
Exiting the mirror was much easier than entering it. There was only a moments’ disorientation as the room of Chu Min’s lair swirled into view, and Feng caught Lei when she staggered.
He glanced past her, into the room, and the half-triumphant expression on his face froze. “Oh.”
Lei turned to look.
On the floor, in a crumpled heap, lay Chu Min. At least – Lei was pretty certain it was Chu Min. The body looked ancient, as though it could crumble into dust at any moment. The face was withered and gaunt, with deep creases lining the forehead and cheeks. The hands were spidery and grasping, clutched into claws on the ends of bird-like, bony arms. The only remnant of the grand, beautiful woman Lei had seen in her dream was the rich, gold-and-red gown that draped her shrunken form. And for just the barest second, Lei caught a glimpse of the goblin hag in Chu Min’s lifeless face.
She shuddered, and Feng gathered her to himself. “It’s alright,” he said soothingly, turning her face away from the body. “She will not harm us anymore.”
Over his shoulder, Lei saw the mirror they had just left. She straightened in surprise. “Feng – look.”
The enormous mirror was a vast spider-web of cracks and fractures. The glass had gone dark – as black as a moonless night, and even the golden frame had become tarnished and discolored.
“What happened in there?” Feng asked, shaking his head.
“We did it,” she breathed. “No – H’su did it. Chu Min is gone – and so are her wraiths.”
Feng held her close, and suddenly stiffened. “Wait—“ he said, pulling back, and holding her at arms’ length. “You can see?”
Lei’s hand went to her face. Smooth skin met her fingers, and she gazed into Feng’s bright eyes. “I can?”
He laughed in delight. “You’re healed, Lei! The scars are gone – not even the tiniest bit remains.”
She grinned slowly. “You did it,” she told him wonderingly. “When you wiped my eyes, and your tears mingled with mine. That’s what the wraith meant when he said we had brought healing.” Lei shook her head, unbelieving.
Feng nodded slowly, his face as bright as a child’s on a birthday morning. Then he looked around. “How do we get out of here?” he asked, meeting her eyes again. “I’ve had enough of this place.”
“Follow me,” she answered with a smile.
They left the lair as it was – except for closing the door firmly behind them as they left. They met no goblins on their way, and Feng took a torch from the hall to light the way in the labyrinth.
The priest seemed slightly surprised to see her again so soon, Lei thought in amusement; and he was even more surprised to see her healed face.
“H’su has done much in a short time,” he commented, meeting them as they climbed up the last few steps to exit the labyrinth. “I trust you were successful?”
Feng bowed properly to the priest. “The evil that dwelt here has been banished,” he said formally. “There will be no more terror to haunt Chi Lung – at least, not from this source.”
A glad smile lit up the priest’s kindly face. “Praise be,” he said. “Now come – I’m sure you are famished.”
 
Epilogue
 
And so our story ends, dear reader. Lei and Feng went first to his home, where they were met with much amazement and rejoicing. In all the excitement, no one even bothered to ask whether or not the Captain’s betrothed was of proper rank and noble birth – and by the time anyone thought to ask, the couple was already gone.
They traveled first to the Shung Desert, and reunited with Ranu and Rafik. The merchant was overjoyed to find his “little mem sahib” healed; and Ranu simply met them with quiet satisfaction.
Feng and Lei didn’t stay long in Hagi, but journeyed on to Hang Po.
When Lei got to the village, she couldn’t even wait for Feng, but went running into her father’s shop.
He was sitting at his bench, shoulders hunched and fingers fumbling at their well-known work when she entered.
“I’m sorry,” he said quietly, not looking up. “I am taking no new customers right now—“
“Father,” Lei said.
Fa Shau jerked up like a marionette on a string. “Lei!” he cried out. “Where have you been?”
Lei took his hand as Feng entered the shop. “It’s a long story, Father. Can I – that is, can we tell you over tea?”
Feng and Lei were married soon after, in a ceremony that was both simple and beautiful. Feng was promoted to General, for his part in defeating Chu Min, and Lei was given an honorary title of “champion” by the Emperor himself.
 And then, of course – they lived happily ever after. How else can such a story end?
Oh yes – and the happy couple always had a great fondness for blueberries.
The end.

Comments

THAT'S ALL???????

THAT'S ALL???????

Bridget | Sun, 12/06/2009

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

Awww!

:0D Cool story! I liked the healing, the defeating of the wraiths. My favorite was:  Her senses seemed mixed up; her ears tasted colors, she smelled sounds with her tongue, and her nose tingled with the sharp feeling of clashes and shouts. That's genius to describe it like that!
Well done!!

Heather | Sat, 12/05/2009

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

It's over!

No, not so soon...It was a beautiful story, LoriAnn. I liked how you used an Asian setting as opposed to the traditional medieval place.

Julie | Sun, 12/06/2009

Formerly Kestrel

*bows*

Thank you, thank you all...I'd like to thank my...

 

OK, so it's not the Oscars yet...LOL

But I'm glad you all liked it.

LoriAnn | Mon, 12/07/2009

!!!!

 Loved it, LoriAnn, loved it!  Loved the story (beautiful), loved the characters (fantastic), loved the Oriental setting (AMAZING!), just all-around loved it!

Mary | Mon, 12/07/2009

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Brother: Your character should drive a motorcycle.
Me: He can't. He's in the wilderness.
Brother: Then make it a four-wheel-drive motorcycle!

...

*is complimented*

LoriAnn | Tue, 12/08/2009

Wow...

I really don't know what to say...

This was amazing. I had chills running up and down my spine while I was reading it. I'm kind of sad that it's already over. You have an amazing talent for writing. I think I speak for everyone when I say, "You go girl!" ;-D

Ariel | Wed, 12/09/2009

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"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it." -- Herman Melville

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