The Captain of Chi Lung - part one

Fiction By LoriAnn // 7/29/2009

Preface: Hey, guys. Just a word of explanation here.

On the same forums where the Ander story was started, a friend challanged me to write a retelling of the story of Repunzel. So...I did. I'm not completely happy with it, but it turned out pretty good, and I thought I'd post it here, a bit at a time. Any advice you have one making it better would be welcome.

It's set in an ancient-Chinese-type-world (I had just finished watching "Mulan", it was in my head...) and I have to admit that I strayed from the old story a good bit. For one thing, the hair never even made it in.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy "The Captain of Chi Lung"

 

 

 

 

Part I
Prologue
 
Lei stumbled through the darkness, tears streaming from her unseeing eyes. Her face burned with a sickening fury as the poison throbbed through her veins, and she moaned incoherently, desperate for relief.
Oh H’su, help this fool…
This was what came of meddling in others’ affairs, she cursed herself – but if she hadn’t, she never would have met Feng. Then again, if she had never met Feng, he never could have betrayed her as vilely as he had, the lying scum.
Lei tripped over a rock and fell to the ground, scraping the palms of her hands on the gravely path. She curled into a ball, unwilling and unable to rise again. Her whole body ached and stung with a hundred cuts and bruises, and she knew that she probably looked like a wraith of the underworld, with her ripped skirt and disheveled hair.
The dim heat of the setting sun smoothed over Lei’s face, and she let herself relax. How could it have come to this? Her mind drifted back, flowing over the days and months until it found that last day – or that first, depending on how you looked at it.
 
 
She had been weeding in her father’s garden that morning, enjoying the soft pinks and greens of the early sunrise. Bitterly, the present Lei envied that past Lei, who still had her sight and could enjoy the sweet view from her mountain village. The sounds of waking people came wafting by on the morning breeze as the town of Hang Po came to life: a baker singing lustily as he kneaded the day’s dough; a goatherd shouting irritably at his disobedient charges; and Lei’s own father clattering around in his cobbler’s shop, sorting his leathers and getting his shoe-forms ready for customers. Nothing was out of the ordinary; everything was as it should be.
Lei’s garden was in the eastern corner of her father’s courtyard, secluded and sunny beside the high white walls. A nightingale fluttered rest on the branch of a nearby willow tree, and Lei smiled happily, tugging a weed up by the roots. All was well with her world.
The present Lei grunted resentfully. The naivety of her former self! That very afternoon, when she had ventured outside her courtyard walls, into the woods on the western slopes of Hang Po; Lei had found something that shattered her idyllic life forever.
She had literally stumbled over it, actually.
“Oomph!” Lei grunted, dumping her carefully collected blueberries over the mossy forest floor. They rolled in every direction, and she groaned. It would take her ages to retrieve them all, and Father was expecting her back in time for the evening meal.
Scrambling to her knees, Lei began plucking up the dusky berries and dropping them back into the now-dented basket.
“Hello?”
Lei gasped in surprise and leaped up, running her hands down her skirt in a vain attempt to smooth it. She looked around the clearing, hoping that whoever it was hadn’t seen her in such an undignified position.
There was no one there.
Lei took a second look. No one hid in the shadows of the tall oaks, or stood behind the hardy mountain shrubs that filled the forest floor. She knew she had heard a voice – where had it come from? Shaking her head, Lei bent over and grabbed up her basket. Many more berries still lay where they had fallen, but with unseen watchers in the woods, she had no desire to stay long enough to gather them. She turned, hurriedly, to go.
“Wait! Is someone there?”
The voice was strangely muffled, but even so, Lei could hear a note of anxiety.
“Yes…” she said uncertainly. “Where are you?”
“Oh wraiths, you really are there!” it was a man’s voice, but it sounded young – maybe not much older than Lei herself. “I’m…well, I think I’m under the rock. Can you see me?”
Lei looked around; sure that someone from Hang Po was playing a trick on her. “Ming-Na? Is that you?” Ming-Na was her best friend, and her jokes were legendary in Hang Po. “Ming-Na? This isn’t funny…Heij?”
“Uh…no. My name is Hatuka Feng. Who are you?”
Finally daring to peer under the large rock in the center of the clearing, Lei nearly screamed. Two bright eyes stared back at her from the darkness under the stone.
“Wait!” the voice pleaded, as she jumped up and started back. “Please don’t leave!”
Lei hesitated, but carefully sat back down and met the eyes again. “Who are you?” she asked in puzzlement.
“I told you – I am Hatuka Feng. Who are you?”
“Fa Lei,” she answered carefully. “Are you a…goblin?” That was the only creature she knew of that lived under rocks, besides snakes and insects. But snakes and insects couldn’t talk.
“Wraiths, no! I’m Captain Hatuka Feng, the son of Hatuka Li, who is the high general of the emperor’s elite guards.” The voice was bolder now, and sounded almost proud.
“What are you doing under that rock?” Lei asked, still skeptical. “Shouldn’t a general’s son be in the Imperial City, training or something?”
Feng was quiet for a moment, as though unsure of how to answer. “It’s…it’s a long story, Fa Lei,” he said at last. “Let it simply be said that I am not here of my own choice, but as a result of the poor choices of others.”
“Can you get out? What do you eat?” Lei would never dare to be this bold with any man in Hang Po, but she couldn’t see this Feng’s face, so somehow it wasn’t quite the same. “How did you get in there to begin with?”
He sighed. “Like I said, it’s a long story. Do you know anyone by the name Chu Min?”
“No…” Lei sat up and rubbed at her back. “My father is waiting for me, Hatuka Feng, I must go.”
“No! Please…” the desperate note was back. “You are the first person besides Chu Min to come here in months. Don’t leave me.”
Looking anxiously up at the dipping sun, Lei dimly realized what a strange situation she was in, and yet somehow it seemed almost too bizarre to be unbelievable. “I’ll come back, I promise,” she said firmly, standing up. “But if I don’t get home soon, my father will worry.”
Feng was silent. “Very well,” he said after a moment. “But…please do come back. I fear I will go insane if I don’t speak to another human being. Chu Min isn’t much for conversation.”
“Who is this Chu Min?” Lei asked, distracted for a moment. “No – tell me next time. I’ll come back tomorrow.”
“Thank you, Fa Lei,” Feng said gratefully. “One more thing?”
Casting a worried look toward the village, Lei said impatiently “Yes?”
“Don’t tell anyone about me. If Chu Min finds out, she may move me far from here, where there will be no…no chance of escape.”
“You’re her prisoner?” Lei asked in disbelief.
Before the mysterious person under the rock could reply, Hang Po’s bells rang out the hour for evening meal. “I must go!” Lei exclaimed. “Or Father will not let me out of his sight for weeks.”
She hurried away, calling back over her shoulder “Tomorrow!”
“Tomorrow!” Feng echoed.
 
 

 

Comments

I love that line the hair

I love that line the hair never even made it in...

Hilarious

Julie | Sat, 08/01/2009

Formerly Kestrel

:)

LOL

LoriAnn | Tue, 08/04/2009

I Like

I like it so far LoriAnn. Post more soon!

Kay J Fields | Tue, 08/04/2009

Visit my writing/book review blog at http://transcribingthesedreams.blogspot.com/

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