She was power incarnate.
She was grace given form.
She was death made manifest.
Her legs propelled her though the forest, after the fleeing prey. She bounced from branch to branch, never making a sound. Her quarry stunk of panic and desperation, as it dragged its maimed leg behind it.
The foolish thing thought that it managed to escape her, when she had let it run.
A lady needed her entertainment, after all.
And this one was entertaining beautifully. It had been so full of arrogance when she had found it. So full of confidence in it’s skills.
She had stripped it of it's false strength, and shown it what true strength really was. In a single blow, she shattered it’s pride, and it’s look of triumph turned to horror.
But now... She tired of the chase. It was a small distraction, and tracking this in this new, white blanketed world tested her skills.
Sounds were muffled, and the snow hid things from sight. A minor challenge, but a challenge all the same.
Her prey collapsed, as its leg finally failed on it. It lay there, savouring it’s escape.
She descended before it, her breathing unhurried. The look of pure terror upon the faces of the wicked were a balm to her soul.
The rat cowered.
The rat begged.
The rat pleaded.
If the heavens wished for you to live, then you would have not met me.
The rat died.
She strode away, her head held high. Another one of the wicked beasts that dared come into her territory was defeated.
And it was her territory. The chicken was not up to the task. It was cowardly and weak. The others said he was some great warrior, but she disbelieved them. His slow, wincing kicks were pitiful. He rose not to her provocations, and so she allowed him to exist within her presence. The pigs were large, but dumb. The less said about the prey-rat the better.
Only she was capable of protecting this place.
Warm hands, and a comforting grip. You’re a beautiful little one, aren’t you?
And… the Master could protect this place too. She supposed. Though it would be best that he remained… unbothered.
The Land did not even notice her. She was nothing, before the boundless power directed at another. Her breath was being crushed out of her lungs by the weight of the world as he stood there, a mountain rising to the heavens.
The Master’s wrath was something that should not be roused, so she dealt with annoyances for him. He had more important things to do, like tending to his home, and scratching her back. Yes! These were all worthy things for the Master to do.
He could even spend his time making sure the other miserable creatures had the slightest bit of skill, so they wouldn’t be complete burdens.
Like he was doing now.
“Chunky boy, chunky boy, chun-keeee boyyyyeeee!” The Master shouted gleefully, crouched down in the snow with his arms held apart in a stance, ready to receive his disciple’s blow. She knew he needed not a stance to receive the blow, but was being kind to the dullard.
Chun Ke squealed happily and immediately tore off after The Master, ploughing through the snow. His charge shook the land, and the covering on the ground barely slowed him. If she had been hit by this mighty charge, she would not emerge unscathed. Though he wouldn’t be able to hit her. She was too fast.
...She might need to increase her own training.
When Chun Ke struck the Master, however, he didn’t so much as budge. The Master caught him by the tusks. They began to rock from side to side, and the master easily bowled him onto his flank, laughing at his disciple’s enthusiasm.
Chun Ke rolled to a stop, and then eagerly righted himself, ready once more to receive the Master’s personal instruction. He was weak, so it was only right. His recent recovery from his crippling meant that he needed more attention.
….She would be monopolising his bed tonight anyway. None of the others got that honour, so really, she spent the most time near the Master.
She bit down on the dead rat. Ooh, this one was tasty.
Once more Chun Ke charged, and one more the Master received his mighty blow without a care, rolling him onto his side and scratching his belly, showing him how an enemy would disembowel him. Then he unleashed a series of slaps onto his stomach, miming a devastating combo of strikes that would have surely slain the oaf, had even a fraction of his strength been in the blow.
Chun Ke went limp, as he should, until the Master let him up, and began scratching his mane affectionately.
She turned her nose up at the display, and left with a flick of her tail as the Master began to wrestle with Chun Ke, rolling him around in the snow. She stalked her domain, heading towards the Great Pillars.
The weak coward Bi De was upon them as he always was, silent and nursing his wounds. The little prey was on his back as always. She could appreciate that the rat had some measure of intelligence, always keeping the other disciples around so that they couldn’t… play.
Bi De greeted her, but she ignored him, and continued to stare at the rat who was observing the Master’s training session.
She was a disciple, wasn’t she? She ate the Master’s food, and lived on the Master’s land, wasn’t it time she learned to contribute?
She finished eating her meal, while the little thing cowered at her attention and accusation. She seemed to be trying to muster up her courage, when they were interrupted.
Bi De shook his head, and stood. If she needed a sparring partner to test herself against, he would oblige her. She found this amusing. He had nearly been beaten by prey, of all things. That he thought himself able to match her was laughable.
Very well, this Young Mistress would teach him how the world worked. And then after this, she would trade pointers with little Ri Zu.
They both gathered on the ground, as she washed herself after her meal. Bi De landed before her, and bowed his head in respect.
Tigu pounced. Her form was impeccable, her sudden strike sure to defeat the cock instantly.
No, Bi De sidestepped, she whirled, with grace beyond measure, and struck again, only to hit empty air.
Her eyes narrowed at Bi De. He cocked his head to the side, observing her, and then nodded his head.
Slow, he commented. Basi Bu Shi was much faster.
Fury overtook her. This preening cock dared?! She would disembowel him for the insult!
Her claw intent filled the air. Her mighty weapons unsheathed themselves.
Bi De stood, unconcerned. His eyes were closed.
Her body moved with speed surpassing her previous movement. Her strikes were each that would slaughter a hundred rats each, her claws extending past her own body. They tore into the snow and ground mercilessly.
But they did not tear into Bi De. He moved with her, not a single feather ruffled by her passing. The coward ran, hopping back onto the Great Pillars, and she followed, unable to let her prey elude her.
Over the Great Pillars, and through its mighty construction they travelled, blurs of colour. Her claws bit deep, even into the Master’s reinforced structure, proving her might. But she could just not hit this blasted thing!
Her Claw qi sharpened. That he had forced her to use her technique… it was unbelievable. But her pride would not allow her to be made a fool of any longer.
She was the Master’s blade. She was the most valuable disciple.
This worthless creature was courting death!
Her claw qi burst towards Bi De’s form, sure to finally land a blow.
She did. Her blades met Bi De’s skin, and stopped.
She gazed in incomprehension.
Acceptable. Bi De informed her.
He flicked his wings, and she went flying off the Pillars, and into a snowdrift. She lay there, stunned.
How...how was he this strong! He was toying with her!
She burst out of the snowdrift, snarling at Bi De, her fur raised, and eyes wild.
But he was already sitting back down, his eyes closed.
As the Great Master once said: Pride comes before the fall. He instructed her.
Wrath coursed through her body, but she forced down the feeling. She sneered. He would know, wouldn’t he?
Bi De’s eyes opened, and he was at peace.
Yes, he would. His hubris nearly bought Great Fa Ram to ruin, even with all of his might.
Tigu sneered again. She would surpass him. She would never be so foolish!
If his tale prevented her from making the same mistakes he did, he would be content.
Her rage was building again. How dare he act so unaffected--!
“Hey! Bi De, Tigu’er, are you two fighting?” The Master asked sternly, picking her up out of the snow drift.
Ah, her Master’s warm hands--
Bi De shook his head, in her distraction. Her pride stung that he was saving her from dishonour.
The Master sighed. “Good, good. No serious fighting, either of you.” She was stuffed down her Master’s shirt, and against his warm body, with only her head peeking out.
“Now lets go! The General that Commands the Winter isn’t going to build himself!” Bi De tried to protest, but the Master lifted him and the rat, placing them on his shoulders. The rooster looked mortified.
He then started walking, calling Chun Ke and Pi Pa to him, gathering the snow in his hands into a ball.
“See? Just like old times.” he said, smiling at the… Senior Disciple. This was not over, but she could not beat him yet. She would be his superior in time though, her training and skill far surpassed his!
She would begin... tomorrow. This was just too nice.
Bi De seemed to relax more and more, as the Master worked, with Chun Ke and Pi Pa helping him amass a great amount of snow.
Finally, the Rooster could contain himself no longer, and crowed mightily, his voice echoing out through all of Fa Ram.
It hurt her ears, the wretched beast.
The Master smiled.
“You tell, ‘em , Bi De.” he said happily, scratching his wattles.
The next day, Tigu allowed the Senior Disciple to have her attention as he kicked along the Great Pillars.
He noticed her attention, and invited her up.
Come, he told her, there is no short path to power.
She scoffed, but heeded his wisdom.
She blessed him with her presence, as she would surely make him surpass his own limits, training with her august self.
She was very sore that night.