Roughly a week ago, in mid-day, Jian "Kai" Yijun had been strolling around his modest home in the residential district of Japan's old capital Kyoto when he was taken by a splitting headache painful enough to bring the young man to his knees. Palms gripping his forehead and hunched forward, Kai had never suffered from such incredible agony as his mind seemed to be shattering from the intensity. Sweat dripped from Kai's hairline as he collapsed onto the cold tiled floor of his kitchen, barely conscious. Within a few more moments he blacked out entirely and drifted off into darkness.
Despite the burning torment he had just suffered, Kai stood without an ounce of pain or discomfort. Except now he wasn't in the building he'd learned to call home, open sky and brilliantly green grass spread out as far as the eye could see. Somehow Kai had been transported to a field littered with vibrantly coloured flowers. The faint chirping and singing of birds was all that descended on his ears in this prepossessing, peaceful place. Though somewhat taken by the calmness seemingly intrinsic to this land, Kai's mental fortitude and recent experiences led him to believe the truth was of a more beguiling nature. It's almost....too peaceful. What's going on....?
Without warning a large, bizarre sigil-like symbol inexplicably appeared in the ground only a few meters in front of the continuously more and more confused young man. Oddly, despite the strangeness of everything occurring, this glowing emblem almost seemed familiar to Kai, though not in the sense he'd seen it before. It was almost as if he instinctively recognized it, though this fact was still a bit beyond comprehension to him. As the sigil glowed brighter, strong winds originating from it were whipped up forcing Kai to squint and guard his eyes with his hands. From between the gaps of his fingers he was just barely able to make out the silhouette of a figure draped in darkness who almost seemed to be reaching an arm out to Kai.
Before he could react or extend his own hand, Kai's eyes opened wide and a sensation of discomfort washed over him. With his right cheek pressed against a cold, solid material and the feeling of laying in a small puddle of sweat Kai realized where he was and pushed himself up to a sitting position. It was clear now all he'd experienced was an uncanny dream of sorts. Pain still rocketed throughout his skull, though to a significantly lesser degree than before. Shakily Kai brought himself to his feet, leaning on the nearby counter top for balance. In spite of his best efforts to forget, the picturesque field and ominous sigil remained clear in his mind. Whatever had put those images in his head clearly did not want them going away any time soon. For now though, Kai crept slowly to his bedroom and collapsed onto his bed, drifting off in peaceful sleep.
By the time he woke, eyes lazily inching open and blinking repeatedly to adjust, the sun had already set and this side of the world was draped in quiet blackness not at all denotative of the conflicts and strive constantly rocking the planet. After sitting up and rubbing his eyes, Kai turned his body so his feet met the floor below. More and more he believed the dream seemed, to him, to be a message of sorts though its meaning remained unclear. This thought stayed with him for the next few days, never leaving the forefront of his mind to the point of even distracting him at work despite his strong ability to compartmentalize. Eventually, today, Kai came to the conclusion something had to be done about it or else his job performance would suffer and he'd never get rid of the images.
With an objective to aim for and a gameplan in mind, Kai prepared for seemingly his hundredth adventure of the year. Showered, clothed, and armed with all the supplies he could think of Kai made his way to the docks and sailed a small ship he'd purchased a few months ago across the Sea of Japan, docking in South Korea followed by a train ride into mainland China. This part of the trip would be nerve racking for most foreigners, but Kai benefited from having been born in China to a native father. Due to this he was able to go where he pleased without much trouble from authorities. This level of freedom allowed him to essentially wing it as he still didn't know exactly where his destination lied and was more or less just following his instincts, or at least what he believed were his instincts. In truth it was as if Kai was magnetized to his target, no compass or map needed to find his way.
Eventually, after travel by boat, train, car, bike, and foot, Kai found himself near Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan province, a state in Southwest China. Taking a nap in the Ruby Hotel, Kai rested up and refreshed himself knowing there was still quite a journey ahead of him. With extra food and drink safely tucked away in his P.I.L.H.S. Device, he once again made his way on foot to continue with his adventure. Kai made his way south along the series of streams and lakes which dotted the landscape until, for a reason unknown to him, Kai turned away from the gorgeous nearby Mirror Lake and entered the forest. After straying from the paths made by countless tourists over the centuries, the scenery seemed to change quite dramatically from the expected foliage to trees which seemed to reach for the heavens, seemingly yearning for the sun itself, and a noticeable absence of insects of any kind.
Kai could just barely make out the faint chirping of birds, a sound which seemed somehow....familiar. Could it be...? His thoughts raced as he sped up, his legs now in a full sprint below the far above canopy of branches. Breaking through one last net of leaves and plants, Kai had finally found the field of dreams he'd been searching for. Without thinking Kai took a few steps forward before remembering there were no trees in sight in his dream, of which he saw none when glancing behind himself. Though reservations remained prominent in his mind, Kai continued on to the center of the clearing where his dream had taken place. This time however, there was no sigil or symbol or mark of any kind on the ground or in the sky or anywhere else for that matter. Kai tried to trust his instincts as he'd done the entire journey thus far, but there was just nothing. No semblance of direction or idea of what to do came to him, which at first boggled the young man before eventually turning to frustration and confusion.
Unsure of how to continue, Kai made camp and lit a small fire directly on top of where he remembered the sigil to be. While the sun slowly descended upon the horizon Kai began to grow weary from the day of travel and despondent over not having the answers he needed. When his eyes finally closed as he slowly yet surely drifted off into peaceful rest, beyond his eyelids a sudden brightness shocked him awake. The small campfire which had previously been but embers had abruptly transformed into a raging inferno of green flames, yet Kai felt no heat on his skin and no dryness in his mouth both of which were consequences of being this close to regular fires. Noticing no damage was being done to the ground or plants near the flame, Kai reached out to touch it thinking it was maybe just an illusion. Instead it was quickly clear to him the fire was real as he could feel it on his finger tips like a gentle warmth reaching out to shake his hand. As this happened the flames changed again, this time in shape, to form the sigil from his dream.
Kai stared into the depths of the infernal symbol in front of him, images appearing before his very eyes. These images depicted a time long past of kings and armies and struggles between great men all aiming for the mightiest throne on Earth: China's Dragon Throne. Of these leaders and warriors, one in particular stood out garbed in glorious green armor with bands in his hair resembling Kai's. Before Kai could see more into this era of ancient past, the flames died down and disappeared revealing a stone staircase leading below ground. Kai figured the answers to questions which continued to grow in number he would have to enter this underground passage, which of course he did. Dirt crumbled and fell from the ceiling and the stairs seemed to be endless. Eventually there were no more steps as a large room opened wide like a flower in full bloom in front of him. Clearly ancient, perhaps even thousands of years old, this gigantic chamber lit up by torches of green fire as Kai made his way to the center.
On the far wall was a shrine topped by strangely shaped green ornament. Before Kai could reach it the ground began to quake slightly though after a few seconds everything went back to normal, or about as normal as it could be. Suddenly what seemed to be a rock statue of an ancient soldier impacted the ground a few meters in front of the young man, having fallen from the ceiling far above. Craning his neck, Kai looked directly up as his eyes widened in shock at the image in front of them: Dozens of stone soldiers were standing on the ceiling, falling one by one until an entire garrison of them were laying on the ground seemingly broken. However the sounds of rock impacting rock rang out as they all stood up in formation with various weapons in their hands carved from rock and enchanted by powerful magic over two thousand years ago. Kai drew ol' reliable, a handgun he'd made use of in pretty much every life or death situation he'd found himself in before today. A single Terracotta soldier broke formation and began walked toward Kai, its stone feet crushing rocks into dust as it continued to move forward. "This isn't gonna end well..."
Loud BANGs rang throughout the chamber as Kai shot the stone soldier repeatedly with his handgun which seemed to do little besides leave bullet sized holes in its head and body. Realizing a higher surface area-worth of damage would need to be dished out to deal with whatever these things were, Kai sent the handgun back to his storage device and drew Erphtal, the mighty guandao wielded by Shu Han general Guan Yu. At sight of this artifact the stone soldier stopped moving for a second almost as if it was taken aback by Kai's possession of the Green Dragon Crescent Blade. However this lasted only a moment before the soldier continued on. When it was within reach of Kai he swung Erphtal down and crashed the blade straight through its torso, which immediately got stuck in the stone being. After trying to pull it out a few times, the soldier stabbed forward with a spear. Kai leaped up and stood on the weapon's shaft for a moment before using all the strength he had to push off and tear Erphtal out, doing a backflip through the air and landing on his feet two meters away. I need to be stronger, better...if I don't, I'm done for.
When Kai lunged forward to strike the stone soldier again, this time he was going all-out. Pushing past the limitations of his human body, Kai swung Erphtal except now when it struck its target it went all the way through, bisecting the Terracotta soldier diagonally. The two halves hit the floor and immediately crumbled into a pile of pebbles and dust. Already sweating from the strain of pushing himself to his limits, Kai wasn't sure he had it in him to take out the rest of his enemies but knew the only other option was to die here, far from his family or friends or anyone he'd met in his adventures. "I won't fall here....there are people I have to protect! People more important than myself to die for! Lets go...!" As he said this more golems sprinted forward weapons in hand. As the first few neared him Kai swung Erphtal in a wide arc, beheading them all in one motion. Unfortunately they could still function without their heads, forcing Kai to destroy them individually with more strikes from the giant polearm passed down by his family for centuries. As with the first, these too shattered and collapsed after suffering severe damage.
For the next twenty or so minutes Kai continued to do battle with this small army of stone Terracotta soldiers carved out millennia ago by long dead craftsmen. At various points Kai suffered blows from the blunted-by-time weapons wielded by the warriors trying to kill him for trespassing in this ancient chamber. Though bruised and battered, Kai was finally able to destroy the last of his foes by impaling Erphtal straight through its rock torso. Panting, Kai brought his leg up and placed his foot on the soldier's abdomen and pushed it off his weapon's blade, officially "killing" it in the process. After all this strain and expelling so much energy Kai dropped to a kneeling stance, using his weapon to prevent himself from collapsing entirely. Kai spent a few minutes or so catching his breath. However the excitement wasn't quite over as the green ornament atop a pedestal began to glow dully, drawing Kai's attention.
Feeling drawn to the strange object in front of him Kai dragged himself to his feet and walked toward it, having to step over the piles left behind by the destroyed soldiers to reach it. This dragon-shaped jade object glowed brighter and brighter as Kai came upon it until eventually it was like a miniature sun, though he had no trouble staring directly into it. Finally within arm's reach of it, Kai felt the urge to touch the incredible artifact. So he did. Upon contact the light grew even brighter, though this time the young adventurer was forced to look away or suffer damage to his eyes. When it died down Kai turned his gaze toward where the object had been and in its place was a silver ring adorned with jade jewels on his middle finger as warmth radiated throughout his body, reinvigorating the exhausted man.
"We finally meet again, Xuande, glory to you." Hearing a harsh voice say these words, Kai spun around to face whoever the newcomer was. About three meters away from the pedestal stood a gargantuan man at least two hundred centimeters tall with a crimson face and long black hair draped over his shoulders and a longer beard. His body was tinted blue and somewhat translucent, seemingly spectral in nature. Frozen still and unable to formulate a response, he spoke again. "Speechless?.....Do you not know of your heritage?" Kai's silence was finally broken as he spoke up to correct the spiritual being. "I don't think I'm who you're expecting...my name is Jian Yijun, I'm just the son of a businessman from Guangdong." "You really don't know. You are the physical descendant and spiritual heir of Emperor Liu Bei, the greatest man China has ever produced and my brother. How could you not know? The Heirloom Seal called out and you answered. You are the true emperor of China. Heaven has Mandated you reclaim the Dragon Throne!"
Shocked by these claims, Kai had no choice but to rebuke this man. "No, I'm not! You can have the ring back, it wouldn't be right for me to take it with me. I'm just going to leave. If I ever meet this person I'll direct them here." When Kai looked down to remove the ring from his hand, struggling to do so, the specter spoke a final time. "There is no other choice. I, Guan Yu, shall prove the Heavenly Mandate bestowed upon you by striking you down with my full might!" Kai's eyes grew wide as yet another revelation was made. Gu....Guan Yu?! Oh god I'm screwed! The dust and pebbles left from the Terracotta soldiers began swirling into one large pile where Guan Yu stood as if by some magical gust of wind. After a few seconds Guan Yu's spectral body was replaced entirely by a new stone body significantly smoother and more solid than that of the soldiers from before. Before Kai knew what happened Erphtal disappeared from his grasp and was now held tightly by his ancestor's sworn brother.
Almost instantly Guan Yu had closed the distance between the two combatants and swung down hard with the Green Dragon Crescent Blade with enough force to certainly kill Kai. "Bastion Stance!" After yelling this command a platinum shield appeared on his left forearm, blocking the sure-kill strike though not without causing pain to shoot through Kai's entire arm. Guan Yu kept swinging Erphtal with intermittent lunges between strikes, each blocked or deflected by Kai's durable shield. Despite not being seriously injured, Kai was continually pushed back by his noticeably stronger attacker. "You can't stay on the defensive forever! Keep this up and I just might kill you...!" Every hit caused Kai to flinch and wince in pain, exacerbated by the only-halfway healed damage he'd sustained earlier. Kai knew the general's words were true.
The beating he was currently receiving brought feelings of insecurity and shame of his own weakness and inability to protect people bubbling to the surface. These strong emotions quickly morphed into anger over his slow progress and then into white hot rage. This rage lit a fire in his belly, waking up something which had slumbered deep within his soul his entire life. Kai's eyes lit up as his brows furrowed in anticipation of Guan Yu's next strike. When the blow landed, Kai struck forward with his shield created a burst of light between the two fighters. Once the brightness faded away a pair of regal swords, one short one long, had replaced Bastion Stance's shield. "You're right, its time to hit back. I'll let you be the first to witness Assault Stance." After saying his piece Kai began pushing Guan Yu back with a series of swift, powerful slashes and lunges using strength he'd never before experienced. Each time the two fighters' weapons collided a small flare of verdant flame sparked out, licking at Guan Yu's stone body causing streaks of it to burn like overdone toast.
With Guan Yu constantly having to block Kai's attacks he was having a difficult time keeping his opponent far enough away to keep the range advantage. After a particularly furious flurry of blows however, Kai was finally able to get past Erphtal and land a solid stab directly through Yunchang's left arm, severing the limb in its entirety. Having made serious headway in this clash of fate, Kai stepped back and spoke some words to the ancient specter he had nothing but respect for. "Sorry but this is where it ends. There are people in this world I must protect, and I can't do that while rotting away in here. Since you're such a legend I'll finish you off quickly...with Ranger Stance." With the Stance command declared, Kai's two swords quickly fused metamorphosed into a beautiful jade bow gripped tightly by his left hand. As Kai lifted it to aim at his opponent a ball of green fire formed in his off hand before dissipating, revealing a jade-tipped arrow in its wake. His arrow aimed directly for Guan Yu's chest, the ancient warrior said one last thing in anticipation of finally being put to rest "Goodnight my brother. I will soon be with Zhang Fei." Kai let go of the bow's string sending the arrow whistling through the air which erupted into a wide green inferno of flames upon impact, reducing Guan Yu's fake body to charred ash.
Having finally won the day, Kai left Ranger Stance and returned to normal before making his way toward the chamber's exit. As he passed his fallen foe, he crouched to pick up the still-pristine Erphtal. "Rest well, Guan Yu. Thank you." It was time to go home.