Warring States Part 1
In the distant universe on an unknown habitable planet, Warring States Continent was a continent with many civilizations in the midst of their developments. There are a multitude of civilizations yet to be discovered while many other civilizations rise and fall. It seems the civilizations are well into the age of bronze and the rise of civilizations continue to snowball as conflicts occurred between civilizations once their kingdom borders meet. The warring states period has merely begun for this continent, and head on clashes in war are the least of many people’s worries. Schemes, internal conflicts, and even mysterious powers lurk in the shadows.
WARNING: THIS STORY MAY CONTAIN DISTURBING CONTENT THAT WILL MAKE YOU UNCOMFORTABLE. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.
In a small thatch hut of an unknown civilization, the cries of an infant are heard as a mother welcomes a new life to the warring states. The midwife congratulates the poor couple on another baby girl as the father sighs in disappointment. A little girl in ragged clothing at around the age of five curiously peeked at her newborn sister with a giggle. After the father sent the midwife off, he came back and cared for his exhausted wife gently but with a bitter smile.
The exhausted wife glanced at her husband weakly before glancing down at the cute baby resting in her arms with eyes full of love. She then asked gently, “Do you really have to go?”
The husband bitterly smiles as he replied, “I hoped to leave you with a son hence why I delayed for nearly a year. I simply cannot delay any further or there will be consequences for all of us.”
The wife can only sadly nod her head as she gave soft affirmation before she slept. After days of nurturing, the exhausted mother has a much brighter countenance to her face. Alas, it still could not cover her melancholy as she watched her husband don his breastplate. The husband walked to the doorway of the thatched hut where his lively five year old daughter was squatting while poking his helmet curiously. He ruffled the cute girl’s hair gently as he stated, “Take care of your mother for me, Xiao Ruo.”
He then reached out his hands to pick up the helmet and wore it on his head. He then glanced over at his dear wife on the bed and gave her a long look to engrave her features deep into his mind. Firm words resounded as the soldier left to join the army, “I’m off.”
With that, four years passed with no news of the father. The mother has recovered well and the baby sister has grown up healthily. It was another normal day in the village as the mother sent the older sister on an errand to grab some cloth. Xiao Ruo pranced around excitedly as she skipped off to the auntie’s house on the same route as usual. Her bright and brilliant eyes scanned around the village like a mature adult as she gave off a cheery smile to familiar faces.
Arriving at a small house built from wood, she greeted the familiar auntie sweetly as the auntie rubbed her head gently for being a smart girl. The auntie then proceeded to bring out the cloth for the little girl’s mother. However, the auntie suddenly became alert as screams were heard in the distant. The auntie took a glance outside her shop with a frown as she noticed smoke rising up into the sky at the edge of the village. Her eyes filled with worry as she hurriedly pulled Xiao Ruo into the shop. In a hidden corner of the shop, the auntie opened a small, thin bronze trapdoor on the ground covering a small storage hole. She quickly took out the stored miscellaneous items and hugged Xiao Ruo as she gently placed Xiao Ruo into the hole. The auntie felt fortunate as Xiao Ruo barely managed to fit inside. Then, the auntie smile as she gently instructed with a bitter smile, “Do not come out no matter what you hear understand?”
Xiao Ruo nodded obediently as the auntie gently let down the door and used a small slab of rock as a door stopper to make a tiny gap. She then covered the area with some hay and cloth. With that, Xiao Ruo was left in darkness. She quietly scrunched up into a ball as the occasional muffled screams from outside frightened her. It may have been a moment, or it may have been eternity. Xiao Ruo sat alone in the darkness until she could hear no further sounds from outside. Xiao Ruo waited and waited, but no one came to get her. Eventually, Xiao Ruo decided that it is fine to go outside as the auntie said not to go out no matter what she hears, but she can’t hear anything anymore. So, it should be fine right?
Although the bronze door was light, Xiao Ruo strenuously lifted the cover as she crawled out from the hole. Xiao Ruo got up and glanced around, but all she saw was burnt wood smoke, and collapsed houses. Xiao Ruo did not understand what was going on, but she knew she has to go home or her mother will scold her. With her intelligent eyes, Xiao Ruo scanned the surroundings and was barely able to discern the path to her home. Xiao Ruo swiftly ran off until she reached her destination. Xiao Ruo stared at the burnt black area in front of her as her eyes dimmed. Where was her home?
Xiao Ruo was brought out of her stupor by a sudden disturbance. She glanced around and noticed that she is now surrounded by four burly man while a chubby man in coarse clothes stood at the back grinning at her with an ugly face. Before she could even escape, she was already captured and thrown into a wooden cage on a cart where some other children were huddled. The cart drove off as the slave master and his lackeys made a racket about how lucky they were while the children cowered in fear.
The slow steady pace of the cart along with the rocky journey caused Xiao Ruo to gradually slipped into sleep. It was unknown how long later, but Xiao Ruo was woken up by the sound of metals clashing. Snapping her eyes open, Xiao Ruo saw many men dressed in black cloth assaulting the lackeys while the slave master panicked. It wasn’t long until the last lackey fell. An old man dressed in a black robe gradually strolled up as the slave master knelt and begged for his life. Alas, with a swing of his sword, the slave master’s head went flying as blood splashed through the cart where the children huddled in shock and fear.
With a command by the old man, his lackeys quickly took control of the cart and drove away with it. The cart was driven towards a mountainside where a hidden entrance to a cave was revealed when the old man inserted a medallion into a socket on the rocks. The lackeys lit up torches before the cart continued its journey down the long winding cave. The journey was not a long one, but it certainly was a dark one. Eventually, the winding path led to an enormous carved out area underground where there were many tents. The area also had many training facilities with many children being trained by black clothed people.
Eventually the cart stopped in front of a large tent where the old man lifted the flap and went in after requesting permission. Xiao Ruo heard a soothing voice resound from within the tempt stating, “You know what I want. I only need the strongest.”
Not long after, the old man lifted the tent of the flap to come out. Curious, Xiao Ruo took a peek into the tent and got a glimpse of the back of a female dressed in a noble attire. The cart moved along and it eventually reached a sturdy wooden building. The old man had the children file out and herded into the building where other children were staying. The old man gave them a gentle smile as he stated, “Work hard. Only the strongest will survive.”
Gloomy clouds hung over the ransacked lands as a group of riders hurried on their way. The grim countenance of the leading rider forebodes the importance and desire to reach his destination sooner. The rapidly chilling air did not hinder the group at all as it seems the leader could not feel the cold. The horses were battered and tired yet the group never stopped until they reached the edge of a battered village. The horses came to a stop as some of them collapsed. The leader silently sat on top of his panting horse as he stared blankly at the village.
One of the soldiers meekly called out to the leader, awakening him from his trance. The leader solemnly dismounted from his horse and told his subordinate to take care of it. He headed into the village emotionless. A couple of subordinates wanted to follow him, but with a wave of his hands, he commanded them to hold their grounds. The leader than strolled into the battered village as he took a nostalgic path. As he took in the scenery around him with a cold face, his fists clenched tighter and tighter until they began to bleed. Eventually, he stopped in front of a charred black area. His fists loosen up, his cold countenance cracked, and he shivered due to the cold. His knees weakened as he dropped to his knees. Thunder cracked in the distance as rain began to pour. His eyes red, the husband and father of a certain household could only howl into the air with grief, despair, and regret.
A decade passed in the blink of an eye. The never ending strife never ceased to change the world. Many new kingdoms have risen, with many falling right after as their might fail to compete with others. Only the outstanding kingdoms would have a chance to thrive in this period. Previously unknown individual rose up to become godly generals. Heroes began to pop up everywhere to suppress conflicts under the beliefs of their dao. Evil cults began to run rampant as they began to worship mysterious beings for power.
The once battered villages were no more as they have already been turned into battlefields or rebuilt anew. Many lost their sentiments in order to thrive or survive. A certain kingdom rose up rapidly under a now famous general’s hands, and this powerful kingdom has suppressed the nearby kingdoms with the combat prowess of the general alone. Although the kingdom had the ambitions to expand, the famous general had no other intentions except to defend. This led to a deadlocked situation where the suppressed kingdoms waited for the famous general’s death.
As for that famous general, he is dwelling in his memories sitting inside a rebuilt thatched hut in a certain rebuilt village. He enjoyed the comfort of his home, one where he believes that he will forever destined to live alone in until the day he dies. A soldier respectfully stopped at the doorway of the thatched hut, disturbing the tranquility of the surrounding.
“General, XXX kingdom has gathered its soldier and declared that they will invade our border. They sent an envoy to deliver this war declaration letter to your hands.”
The general sat quietly inside the thatched hut deep in thought, alas the soldier had no idea what he was thinking about. Eventually, the general got up and walked out of the thatched hut as the soldier handed the scroll to the general.
“No matter how many times we beat them back, they never learn do they?” the general sighed in exasperation as he unfurled the letter of declaration.
The general took a glance at the letter of declaration that only contains one line as he furrowed his brows in confusion. As he read the single line, his hands shook in turmoil for a second before rapidly calming down. He then handed the scroll to the soldier as he strolled off to gather the army.
The soldier took a glance at the still open war declaration letter and read in confusion, “Your daughter is still alive.”
Alas, the soldier did not understand nor did he need to understand. He just knows that he just needs to follow the general to battle.
Two armies faced off against each other on the plains as the flags gently fluttered in the wind. The two generals of their respective army rode up towards the center and stared at each other as they confronted each other.
“Well met. It has been three years since your kingdom has declared war on us and lost. What makes you so confident this time?”
“Yes, it has been three years indeed. Three years since I watched with my own eyes the slaying of my father, the general, by your hands.”
“Oh? So you have come back for revenge? I welcome a battle that does not cost any soldiers anytime.”
“Although I very much desire to take your head by my hands, unfortunately, I am not the one that you shall be fighting.”
The enemy general then signaled with his hands as he rode his horse slowly back to his army. The army gradually parted ways to reveal a gap where a lone rider galloped out to meet the famous general. Although the figure of the rider was dressed in full armor and helmet, it was not hard to discern the rider’s thin figure underneath the armor.
The rider came to a stop facing the famous general as the famous general furrowed his brows. Without saying anything, the rider drew a sword out and gave the horse the command to charge. With that, the clash began.
In a head on clash, it seemed the rider could not match the famous general in strength. However, the rider was using very unconventional fighting tactics that rely more on swiftness and targeting weak points. Unfortunately, the famous general had many years of battle experience such that most of his weak points were covered. Eventually with a loud clang, the rider’s sword was knocked flying into the and with another slash from the famous general, the rider’s helmet was knocked flying. Continuing with the fluid motion, the famous general aimed to behead the rider but as the rider’s countenance was revealed, the famous general’s sword halted on the rider’s neck as he stared in shock at the rider.
A piercing pain assaulted the famous general’s throat as a dagger pierced it; however, the famous general ignored the pain as he continued to stare at the familiar face of the rider. As the wind gently lifted up her long, black hair, the famous general could see a spitting image of his dead wife when she was young albeit with minor discrepancy. The great general knew his wife was long dead, and that she will not come back, but the general was still happy as he recalled what was written on the war declaration. As long as she is alive. The father smiled gently and croaked out his last words, “X-Xiao Ruo…”
The rider’s eyes opened wide in shock as her grip on the dagger loosened. Memories locked away deep in her memories surged out as she stared at the familiar man in front of her. She clutched her head in howled in pain as she watched the man slowly fall off his horse, never to rise again. The famous great general has fallen.
The two armies roared in shock for different reasons. One in surprise and with joy, the other in anger and grief. Not long after, the two armies charged at each other with no regards for life or death in order to retrieve their heroes. The famous general’s body was escorted back to the kingdom’s defense lines as the soldiers laid their lives down to defend it from the besieging enemy. Meanwhile, the girl who is now staring blankly into space in shock was escorted back to her cage, the kingdom who she fought for.
After an unknown amount of time, the girl who was staring into space realized she was now strapped onto a rock bed, surrounded by many people in black robes along with a group of shivering girls in their adulthood. An unfamiliar altar stood next to the rock bed as the black robed people chant in an unknown language. The girl struggled in fear, but she could not break out of the straps no matter what.
“Child, you have just killed your father. How does it feel? Do you feel pain?” a soothing voice resounded.
The girl looked over at the voice to see a noble lady dressed in ceremonial robes. Although the lady was beautiful, all the girl saw was a demon. The girl struggled in rage as she recalled her experiences of her past ten years.
“No worries child. Your unnecessary emotion will be gone soon so you won’t feel the pain anymore,” the noble lady stated with a grin, “Begin the sacrifice.”
Screams of fear of a group of girls resounded before they were silenced by the gushing sound of blood. Many black robed people also cut their wrists to release their blood piteously as they continued to chant. The puddles of blood then began to crawl creepily towards the altar as if they were alive. The altar lit up with a red glow that continued to get stronger as more blood flowed into the altar. The girl bound to the rock bed struggled in fear, alas it was to no avail. The red glow of the altar eventually encompassed the girl and her screams of fear eventually faded out into silence.