(…) Dong Huo was conspiring against the Emperor for many years. He thought nobody knew of his plans to assassinate the Emperor and usurp the throne for himself… but he was wrong. I knew every detail of his evil intentions. The Yellow Dragon’s responsibility was to protect the Emperor, so it was my duty to banish the relentless evil once and for all. Unfortunately, I failed. Dong Huo poisoned Emperor’s mind and turned him against me. The Emperor became obsessed with the idea that I was the one planning his murder and sentenced me to death without a single evidence. The vicious viper carried out his evil plot the same night he buried me alive in the Heart of the Dragon, deep within the Dragon cave. Once the Emperor was dead, dark times came upon the locals. Dong Huo usurped all their valuables and also captured my sister Yun. In the fear she could avenge my death, he imprisoned her in his fortress, but she wasn’t his prisoner for long. When Yun broke free, Dong Huo discovered her special power. After he captured her for the second time, she became his greatest weapon. Yun is the last of the Dragon people. You won’t probably believe me, but she’s still alive. Dragon people are immortal. (…)
Dragon people? Elisabeth thought to herself and put the journal aside. She has been studying it for days, learning more than she ever wanted to know. Elisabeth lied on the bed and closed her eyes. She needed to take a break from reading.
(…) The day I died, I promised two things to myself. One – to save my little sister and two – to avenge my death. You, Mother, could avenge me by defeating Dong Huo yourself, assuming you are a great fighter, but you would never find my sister. That’s why I have to return from the Wasteland. (…)
Great fighter? What does he mean? Am I supposed to learn Sim Fu and defeat the guy because of some incompetent sorcerer?
(…) I realize, you have nothing to do with this, but it was the only way. Please, forgive me. (…)
“Please, forgive me? Are you serious?!” Elisabeth asked aloud. “I’m probably going to die because of you!” she screamed at the journal. “And… well, because of my stupidity,” she added calmly. “But what for? Because you miss your little dragon sister? What is going to happen when you find her, huh?” Elisabeth continued her monologue with the journal. I must be seriously getting crazy, she thought to herself when she realized she was talking to a book the whole time.
Later that day, after she took a relaxing bath, Elisabeth went to the market. She wanted to ask Sima if she was still willing to teach her the way of Sim Fu. Bad luck, Elisabeth thought to herself when she searched every shop at the market and didn’t find her friend. She was going out of the food shop, when she noticed a fortune cookie maker standing by the wall.
“Was this always here?” Elisabeth asked the food merchant and pointed at the machine.
“Of course!” the merchant smiled at her.
“Would you like to bake some cookies? It’s really simple!”
“Hmm. Why not.”
“Don’t be afraid if you get a bad message. You know, it’s just cookies,” told her the food merchant when she noticed Elisabeth’s expression.
Even though it was just a message from a fortune cookie, Elisabeth couldn’t just simply ignore it. She folded the little piece of paper and headed towards the Phoenix Academy.
As soon as Elisabeth walked in the garden, she saw Sima Zhi practicing her martial skill at one of the training dummies.
“Hello, Sima! May I disturb you for a minute?”
“Oh, hi, Elisabeth! Sure! What do you need?”
“I wanted to ask you if you could teach me.”
“What do you mean?”
“I would like to learn Sim Fu.”
“Oh, wow! I don’t believe you actually said that,” Sima smiled at her and her eyes sparkled with pure happiness. “It will be my pleasure to teach you Elisabeth. When would you like to start?”
“What about right now?”
“I love your enthusiasm, Elisabeth. Come. You’ll start training with the dummy,” told her Sima and lead her to one of the training dummies. “Everyone who wants to become the Master of Sim Fu must understand that its practice requires patience, energy, dedication, strong discipline and most of all, time. Remember Elisabeth, nothing comes for free. If you work hard, you’ll be rewarded. If you don’t, well then, you’re only wasting time.”
“I’ll work hard, Sima! I know I will!” reassured her Elisabeth.
“Only time will tell.”
“Can I train in this?” Elisabeth asked Sima and pointed at her clothes.
“It’s not the best outfit, but it’ll do for now. Come, let’s start your training.”
And so Elisabeth set out on a long journey. If she worked really hard and respected her teacher, she would become the Master of Sim Fu at its end.
However, every beginning is difficult. All you have to do is take seriously what you’re doing. There’s no other way and whining isn’t permitted.
“Ouch!” Elisabeth cried out loud when a stick hit her face. “I’m not sure I want to do this! My nose is bleeding for chrissake!”
“Stop whining and work harder!” Sima called at her.
“But my nose is bleeding!” protested Elisabeth. “I think it’s broken!”
“Alright, alright! Come inside, I’ll have a look at it.”
Once Elisabeth stopped whining and finally took her training seriously, she quickly earned the White belt.
The Yellow belt followed soon after.
There is no wonder that you progress rapidly when you are surrounded by masters such as Bao Louie. Elisabeth believed, that one day, she would be as good as her role model.
It didn’t take long and her persistent effort granted her with the Orange belt.
After countless hours of practice, Elisabeth finally earned the Green belt and caught up with her teacher.
Elisabeth has become a dedicated student and took her training very seriously. Sometimes, she would lose the track of time and train until the first stars appeared on the night sky.
One evening, while she was meditating in the garden at the Phoenix Academy, Elisabeth saw something she couldn’t explain.
A loud thunder followed by explosion and bright ball of light hitting the Academy. All she could see afterwards was thick, yellow smoke.
Elisabeth got scared. She quickly dressed up and rushed towards Sima’s house to tell her about the vision. Elisabeth hoped that Sima Zhi was the right person who could give her some comforting explanation.
“I’m afraid I won’t be of much help this time, my friend. I don’t know what your vision exactly refers to, but it could be anything ranging from a natural disaster to a supernatural phenomenon.”
“Hmm. Do you think something bad is about to happen?”
“It could be a warning. However, only the greatest masters can see the future.”
“Well… I’m definitely not one of them, Sima. Do you think it has something to do with my curse?”
“It could,” pondered Sima. “You have to be careful, Elisabeth.”
“Yeah…,” Elisabeth sighed heavily. “I don’t know if it means anything, but the light that came out of the sarcophagus and the smoke in my vision had the same color.”
“Hmm… interesting. But I’m not sure if there is a connection,” told her Sima and looked at the Dragon cave.
“Did you know that Huang Loong had a sister?” Elisabeth asked Sima.
“Not until I read his journal.”
“He says that Dong Huo captured her and used her as his greatest weapon.”
“Hmm… I always thought that Dragon people were only a legend.”
When Sima mentioned the Dragon people, Elisabeth suddenly remembered about the message she found in her fortune cookie.
“Look at this,” she said while taking the folded piece of paper out of her pocket. “Do you believe in fate?”
“I believe that everything happens for a reason, Elisabeth. The message speaks about a spitting dragon. I think someone is trying to protect you.”
“Could it be the Yellow Dragon himself?”
“I’m sure of it. After what I learned from his journal, the greatest interest of Huang Loong is to ensure that you stay alive. I don’t know if you realize it, but his soul dwells within your body. If you die, he dies.”
When Elisabeth’s extra week in Shang Simla was nearing the end, it was clear that she needed more time. So one morning, Elisabeth called her father and explained everything to him… in her own way of course. Elisabeth could never tell her family about the curse, so everybody simply thought that she was on an exciting adventure searching for an ancient relic.
Some time has passed since the day Elisabeth had the vision. She spent days in the local library researching information about the Dragon people, but every time she thought she found a reliable source, it turned out to be just another fairy-tale book.
One afternoon, during a lesson of Sim Fu, Elisabeth approached Sima to tell her that she was ready to learn the art of block breaking.
“Are you sure you’re ready?”
“Yes, I am, teacher.”
“Very well then. But I don’t want to hear you whine. Remember your first day of training?”
“I assure you, that a different person is standing in front of you now.”
“Good. Go to the storage room and bring three dozens of foam boards.”
“Foam boards are for kids!” Elisabeth felt humiliated.
“Do as I say or not at all,” Sima told her strictly.
Elisabeth brought a big pack of foam boards from the storage room and without a word started breaking them one by one. She learned the trick after less than ten minutes.
“Okay. How many more do I have to break?” Elisabeth asked her teacher after she successfully broke the 30th foam board .
“As many as needed.”
“Stop behaving like a child and concentrate!”
Elisabeth decided to break every single foam board located at the Academy. When she ran out of the boards she brought from the storage room, she’d go back to get more. Luckily for her, the Academy was stocked only with a couple more packs. According to her calculations, she’d break the last foam board by the sunset.
Elisabeth was silently minding her business not caring about her surroundings, when all of a sudden a loud thunder rumbled in the distance. She was probably too concentrated, because she was the only one who didn’t pay attention to it. Sima Zhi looked up at the sky and her eyes widened with fear.
Something was headed for the Academy. She couldn’t tell what it was, but one thing was clear – it definitely wasn’t anything good. As it approached closer, Sima could finally recognize it.
“M-m-m-meteooor!” she cried out loud.
Elisabeth finally raised her head from the foam boards and looked at the sky. She understood that in a matter of seconds her vision would become reality. She had to act quickly. “EVERYBODY RUN!”
Despite the warning, everybody remained standing in place like they would be glued to the ground, Sima Zhi included. Elisabeth was the only one who didn’t panic and ran away to save herself.
Before she was able to turn around and call at Sima to run away, the meteor hit the Academy.
The big explosion followed by a giant mushroom cloud deafened everybody in the range of hundreds of meters.
The yellow smoke from Elisabeth’s vision filled the entire place.
Nobody was able to see any of the pieces of metal and tiny space rocks littering the ground.
All that Elisabeth could do was observe everything from afar. She felt powerless.
The meteor was headed for Elisabeth. It fell on the exact spot where she was breaking the foam boards not a minute ago. Something or someone wanted her dead.
The Phoenix Academy was a mess. All the training equipment was destroyed.
But luckily, nobody got killed.
“I’m alive! I’M ALIVE! I cannot believe it!” exclaimed one of the survivors.
O-oh my, the other survivor thought to himself as soon as he saw the meteor ground zero. “W-w-wasn’t s-someone s-s-standing t-there?” he muttered with a frightened voice. Fortunately, that person managed to escape her certain death.
“Oh, heavens! You’re alive! The moment I saw the meteor I thought it crushed you!”
“I think that’s what everybody thought. Why haven’t you run away?”
“I couldn’t move! My legs were paralyzed!”
“It almost looked like nobody could move. This is very strange.”
“Yes, indeed. I’m afraid that the time to fight back has come.”
“What exactly do you mean by that?”
“You need to talk to Jiang Lu. He’s the only one who can help you.”
“Jiang Lu? That stalker?”
“Stalker?” asked her Sima and raised her left eyebrow. “Have you two already met?”
“I’d prefer not to talk about it.”
“As you wish. I’ll contact him personally and let you know the place and hour of your meeting.”
“Thank you, Sima.”
“As for the moment, I think it’s better if you return to the base camp. I’ll contact you soon.”
“Bye, Elisabeth. Take care of yourself.”
The next day in the afternoon, Elisabeth met with Jiang Lu at the Scholar’s Garden. She recalled the first time they met, Elisabeth could never forget Jiang’s last words. Did he really know we were going to meet again? she thought to herself on the way to the garden. With a long sigh, she opened the gate and walked towards Jiang, who was already waiting for her.
“And so we meet again,” sneered Jiang.
“Hi,” Elisabeth greeted him dryly.
“I’m sorry, but I simply couldn’t resist the temptation,” he apologized.
“Whatever, let’s get to the point.”
“Of course,” Jiang nodded eagerly. “But first you have to promise me something,” he abruptly changed the subject.
“The interview?” Elisabeth asked him grumpily.
“Yes,” he nervously smiled at her.
“Fine. I’ll answer all your questions,” told him Elisabeth and Jiang started clapping his hands with excitement. “But first, tell me how can you help me, Jiang,” continued Elisabeth and the clapping suddenly stopped.
“Well… it will have to wait until the next full moon,” he said while looking at the sky.
“What?!” exclaimed Elisabeth. “Are you trying to trick me?!” she asked him angrily.
“No, no. Of course, not,” Jiang tried to calm the situation.
“Then tell me!” insisted Elisabeth.
“Okay, okay… just… please… don’t raise your voice, it makes me feel uncomfortable,” he said nicely.
“I’m sorry,” Elisabeth apologized.
“Sima Zhi told me about your vision, Elisabeth. What happened yesterday wasn’t a coincidence. I’ve been studying the Dragon Cave for nearly twenty-five years. If there’s someone who can help you in your… ahem… situation, it’s me.”
“Yeah, I figured that out myself. So how can you help me?”
“You have to defeat Dong Huo.”
“What do you mean defeat? Didn’t you say that someone has already done that?”
“Not exactly. A long time ago, James Vaughan has sealed Dong Huo deep inside the cave. Since then, nobody has ever dared entering that bloody place… until…”
“Until you came along.”
“Fine. I think I remember what happened from then on. No need to explain. I got it.”
“Have you ever heard of the Axe of Pangu?
“It is a magical tool, forged by the sorcerers of the Scourge of Three Kingdoms himself! It could destroy the strongest barricades of his enemies. It’s a masterpiece.”
“And why are you telling me about this… masterpiece?”
“You need to acquire it in order to enter the tomb of Dong Huo and defeat him forever. Luckily for you, I know its location.”
“Great! Let’s go get it!” said enthusiastically Elisabeth.
“No. It’s not the right moment.”
“What do you mean? Why can’t we go now?”
“Pangu’s Axe is hidden in the labyrinth beneath the Temple of Heaven. The labyrinth can be accessed only during the full moon.”
“Yes. It’s a very dangerous place. Only a madman would voluntarily enter a place filled with lethal creatures lurking in its dark, humid corridors…”
“Lethal creatures?” Elisabeth asked him with fear in her voice. “Jiang, what makes you think that I’m gonna go in there after what you told me?”
“There’s nothing to worry. The truth is, that I haven’t been there personally, but I’m convinced that all you will find will be some harmless vermin,” told her Jiang and reassuringly smiled at her. “I wouldn’t normally tell you about all this, but the time has come. You will have to be very quick, Elisabeth. Once the sun rises, there’s no way back. You will remain trapped inside until the next full moon, but I’m sure you’ll manage.”
“If you say so,” sighed Elisabeth and remembered Liang’s warning against the undead. The idea of wandering through the labyrinth all alone didn’t really make her feel comfortable.
“Here,” said Jiang and took a strange-looking key out of his pocket. “I now bestow you with the key to the Temple of Heaven. My ancestors have protected it for centuries. Do not lose it, Elisabeth. Your life and our future depend on it.”
“Thank you, Jiang,” said Elisabeth and put the key around her neck.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” told her Jiang as he looked at the unprotected key on her chest. Elisabeth quickly hid it under the shirt. “That’s better,” he smiled. “So, had any other plans for today?”
“May I invite you for a cup of green tea? My kids are dying to meet you.”
He’s got kids!?!? Elisabeth thought to herself. “That would be great,” she politely smiled at Jiang, however the real reason why she accepted his invitation was the curiosity of finding out whether Jiang’s wife was as crazy as her husband, rather than getting to know with his kids.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Only Sims who have reached level 7 in Martial Arts (Blue belt) can train other Sims. Sima Zhi is only level 4, so she has actually never trained Elisabeth. I made her Elisabeth’s teacher for the purpose of my story. I have also discovered, that she has 8 skill points in Athletic. Being somewhat obese,it really doesn’t make much sense… By the way, has somebody noticed that she actually started losing weight? Go, Sima, go! I believe in you! You can do it!!!