Chapter 19: Xiu Luo

Han Dynasty 211, September

A lone rider, completely covered in armour and a helmet, approaches the gates of Chang Sha. The guards stop him, and he hops off of his horse. The helmet is slowly raised, and the face is that of the twenty-one year old general.

Kagayaki: I have completed my business in Bei Hai, and have now come to serve, as promised.

The new guard didn't recognize the man but searched him accordingly and led him to the chamber where an elegantly dressed man was currently.

Guard: Milord, a guest.

Ryuujin heard a guard tell him this man had once visited and he nodded, walking up to him. He ran a hand through his long black hair before pouring himself and the man some tea.

Jian Ryuujin: Welcome again, sir. You wish to serve us? May I ask about this promise or the business you had in Bei Hai for I am new here and was charged with attending to visitors and well, enlighten me. Tea, sir?

Kagayaki: Ah, sure. Thank you. I am Sharingan Kagayaki, and yes, I have come to serve your lord. I have been visited by an officer here, and he greatly impressed me, so I came here to see what your lord was about.

Han Dynasty 211, July

It was a dark moonless night with rain lashing down from the heavens in droves, splashing heavily on the earth below. YangTzu had ridden hard over the past few weeks to get to his destination of Bei Hai. The city was in a mess after the recent events that had torn the city so and it had taken Ma Dan several days to track down who he was after. It was only now that he had finally arrived at the House of Sharingan Kagayaki, his Dappled steed and himself soaked through to the skin.

He dropped from the mare and made a vain attempt to straighten his hair and his Cloak and Tunic but it was futile. In his current state he didn't feel he would be presentable to the lowliest of peasants without at least 5 hours of preparation, let alone face such a respected man as Shaingan Kagayaki. Still he had no choice time was a luxury he didn't have. Taking a deep breath he walked up the steps to the household under the shelter of the roof now, he was glad to finally be out of the rain. He paused at the door, removed the gauntlet from his hand and knocked on the door. He heard the noise of someone coming to the door from the other side and took the time to carefully remove the letter he had bought with him from behind his breastplate. It had been an effort but somehow he had managed to keep the thing mostly dry, with only it's left edge seeing the signs of damp. YangTzu looked up as the door slid to the side revealing the figure of a great man.

Ma Dan: Firstly let me apologise for disturbing you at this hour but my Liege Xiu Luo has sent me as a matter of most importance to seek you out. Allow me to introduce myself. I am YangTzu from Gui Lang and I am here to give you this letter. I bring hope in these dark times, this letter is an offer of an Audience with my Lord Xiu Luo at the palace at the recently conquered Cheng Sha. Both he and myself would be honoured if you would attend.

Han Dynasty 211, September

Kagayaki: After some conversation I decided that this is the man I will serve, and was ready to do so, as Hui Zhong's kingdom had just fallen.

Kagayaki takes a sip of tea before continuing.

Kagayaki: I could not, though, for I was teaching a former ally of mine in naval warfare. I promised your lord I would return, and returned to Bei Hai to finish the tutelage. I believe I cannot teach him more than he already knows now, so I have come back as I am a man of my word. Hopefully, I can do some service while I am still young.

Kagayaki winks with the last statement, and finishes off his tea.

Seeing this man was indeed young and that Ryuujin had not a clue what the arrangement had been, went on his gut instinct that the man was telling the truth. He sipped his tea.

Ryuujin: So, besides a promise and this officer you spoke to, which I must inquire who it was, why did you originially seek to serve here? I don't wish to talk your ear off or make you feel like you're being interrogated but I would like to know.

Kagayaki smirks, and apparently doesn't mind. This has been his first time conversing with someone for a while, after all.

Heh, this guy seems more than just a guard.

Kagayaki: Originally, I did not seek to serve here. Hui Zhong's kingdom had just...fallen, and Meng Jun didn't seem to be the right lord to serve. Peng Meng Tian seemed kind after releasing us all, but his men had killed Guan Yide, and I cannot but help to show anger towards him.

Han Dynasty 211, July

When Guan Yide goes after his lord, a dagger is quickly tossed past Guan Yide, followed by the Sword of Light leaving the scabbard.

Zhao Yun: You dare attack during a time of peace? Your head is mine!

The two warriors clash and exchange blows, until Guan Yide, knowing he's on the losing end at the moment, takes aim at Zhao Yun's weapon, trying to Break it! Zilong doesn't recognise the attack's intent in time, and parries it with the Sword of Light, only to have Yide crush the weapon, destroying it! Yun's eyes open wide as his prized weapon is destroyed. A watching soldier tosses him a spear quickly, and Yun quickly brings it to bear, but not before Yide hits him a steady hit.

The shattered remains of the Sword of Light glitter on the ground, as Zhao Yun quickly removes himself from Guan Yide's presence. The soldiers who were watching the fight, though demoralised by Zhao Yun's loss, quickly lower their weapons and face Guan Yide. The guard captain speaks to him.

Guard: You are weak and weary after that battle. Lower your weapon and submit. Now!

Guan Yide charges into the guards, laying about him with his Guan Dao and killing several instantly. The guards are duly frightened, but they fight back, knowing their lord is nearby and that they have to protect him. At the frantic beckons of Peng Meng Tian, more soldiers are summoned to reinforce, and Guan Yide realises he has no way of reaching either Peng Meng Tian or Zhao Yun, fighting alone. He still fights like a madman, though, slaying dozens of men before being struck from behind with a spear. Even then, the gory wound does not slow him much. Soon another follows, and then another, and he finally falls to his knees.

Guan Yide: I hope.. this fulfills your expectations.. Xiashi..

He tries to rise again, and manages to take down one more enemy, before the guards swarm over him and he disappears among them, the first enemy casualty in Peng Meng Tian's wars.

Guan Yide has been slain!

Han Dynasty 211, September

Kagayaki: I could not serve him sincerely. Then, with perfect timing, the man came to me, as if it was the will of Heaven. If my memory serves me correctly, the man was Ma Dan. He amazed me when he said he had heard stories of me, and this intrigued me, he knew quite a lot about me.

Han Dynasty 211, July

Ma Dan: After I heard of the troubles that have befallen Hui Zhong I set of immediately from Gui Lang. I am a physician of some skill and I thought I would be able offer my assistance to those affected by the siege that rages around us. You can never have too many doctors. It was while treating a fallen soldier, who had taken an arrow to the chest that I heard your name first. He was adamant to return to his post after he regained consciousness, even despite the fact he needed treatment quite badly. He stated that was serving under yourself and was needed back in his post. Intrigued I asked the man about you. He said he'd followed you into battle once before, in March of this year he had said. He stated you were a very skilled commander showing great courage and knowledge of the battlefield beyond your years would predict. It was during this battle you had saved his life so he was forever indebted to you. I asked more from the soldiers as they came and went and not one had a bad word to say, it was quite amazing to hear. One had served under you during a successful patrol of the area whilst another had watched in awe as you supervised the defence of the city. With the seige almost coming to an end and the enemy breathing hard down the cities neck, I thought I would approach you before it was to late to offer you hope in this time of darkness.

Ma Dan paused for a second, a look of deep sorrow on his brow.

Ma Dan: My liege is a good man, Kagayaki, and we seek to have good men with us in our quest to unify the chaos that has engulfed China at this time. Hui Zhong is also a great man, and I would understand fully should you see the need to see this through until the end for you are man of honour. I would like to think i would be the same if put in this position myself. Should you survive this day, however, this letter will always be accepted in Chang Sha whilst I serve under Xiu Luo and there will always be a place for you there.

Han Dynasty 211, September

Kagayaki: If his lord cares about his officers so, he must be a privelage to serve under. Although he is young, it did appear it would be an honour to serve under him, from my last visit. So, here I am, and am finally ready to serve. And...uh..I did not catch your name, may I ask who you are?

Hearing Kagayaki's answer and him asking who he was, Ryuujin smiled.

Ryuujin: Oh, my name is Ryuujin, the newest among Lord Xiu Luo's officers and have recently been charged with addressing guests and I hope to make my lord proud by doing any task he bestows upon me well. I am quite experienced in war and strategy and had the very same man, Yang Tzu as I know him, come to me all the way in Wu twice and seek my aid for his lord. I consented to visit here and seeing as the man was sound of judgement and no tyrant or power hungry heartless leader, I decided to join, after having spent two monthes mourning my nephew's death at the hands of barbarians. Anyhow, here I am and yes, I am more than a guard, far more. Pray tell me about yourself, good sir, for I wish to know about those I see fit to serve with.

Kagayaki: Uh...there isn't much to know about me...I came from the "Island Country", east of here, after hearing my brother speak about this land. I was the General Who Constitutes Righteousness while I was in Hui Zhong's ranks, a title I recieved while helping take Bei Hai. I entered the third Luo Yang tourn--ah...

Maybe I shouldn't include that, it was quite embarassing, losing in the first round...

Kagayaki scratches his head as he tries to think of something else to say, hoping Ryuujin did not notice that last bit.

Kagayaki: Well...uh...there isn't really much about me. You should ask Ma Dan, he seems to know more about me than I do!

Kagayaki laughs, something he hasn't done in a long while. He seems to be enjoying this conversation.

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