Emperor Of Blue Flower Mountain - LightNovelsOnl.com
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The town was already half destroyed at this point. People were in a panic, some wailing in fear, other's fighting desperately, and some silently awaiting their fate.
Now that she was there, Mei Hua realized she had no idea what she should do. She was strong, but not invincible. She could take on a small group of men if it came down to it, probably, but if the soldiers all focused on her at once she was sure she'd die. She hadn't survived the mountain just to get sliced down by soldiers.
She glanced back at the mountains and paused. A very risky plan entered her mind. It could work, in theory… if she was careful.
As quickly and quietly as she could, she went to houses that hadn't been looted yet, and talked to the families. No one recognized her, but they knew she wasn't a soldier. If for no other reason than because what she was telling them sounded crazy.
"Listen, if you value your lives, go to the edge of the Blue Mountain forests, past the fields west of here. I will meet up with you, and then I will bring you into the forest and lead you to the other side. The other side has a town, you should be safe there."
"Even if you think I'm crazy, it's better than staying here and dying, isn't it? What have you got to lose? The soldiers will come here and they'll kill you, **** you, enslave your children. There's no doubt what they'll do to you. But you don't know what will happen on the mountain. Death or uncertainty. Which would you rather?"
Some people did not listen to her. She looked wild: uncut hair in a rough pony tail, wearing a mixture of undyed cloth and furs, her face deeply tanned and her speech heavily accented. But others, seeing there was no other option but death, did as she instructed.
The soldiers saw the fleeing townspeople and some of them gave chase. Mei Hua only then decided to fight. Her fists and legs whipped out of her body, sending soldiers flying. When more soldiers came, she taunted them and ran, causing them to chase after her.
After sending them on a merry chase, she doubled back to the escaping townsfolk. It was already dark by then, the sun setting on the other side of the peeks, which cast a huge shadow on the land.
"Listen to me!" She projected her voice so they could all hear her. "You must do exactly as I do. EXACTLY as I do, do you understand? Do not step to the left, do not step to the right. Do not speak unless I tell you to speak. You've heard the tales of the Fairy Emperor, and they are true. He lives in this forest. If you do as I say, he will grant you mercy and let you pa.s.s through."
"Why should we believe you?" Came an angry, grief-stricken reply from the crowd.
"You have no reason!" This shocked her audience. "You have no reason to trust me, but you followed me this far. As I said before, what do you have to lose following me? But if you're to follow me, don't disobey me. If you think those soldiers are bad, then don't even think of angering the Fairy Emperor. He will send the wolves to tear you apart if you anger him."
The townsfolk had all heard the legends. It was said the Fairy Emperor had once been enraged and sent wolves, mountain lions, and bears into the town to slaughter people. He was ill tempered and cruel, which is why no one ever went near the mountains.
"What guarantee do we have you can keep him calm?" Another voice, far more stable, asked.
"I have lived in this forest for years. If I didn't know how to keep him calm, would I be talking to you now?"
Before the townspeople could argue further, the sound of soldiers could be heard in the distance. This drove away any further questions and they quickly agreed to follow her and obey.
Mei Hua led them to the edge of the forest. She then deeply bowed and began speaking, the villagers following along with her:
"Oh Fairy Emperor, Ruler of the Great Mountains to the North and South, please grant us safe pa.s.sage through your forests. We will stray neither to the right or the left, but follow the path before us, and find safe haven on the other side. Any price you ask, we will pay. Great Fairy Emperor, have mercy!"
Mei Hua then stood up and looked into the forest. There was no eerie stillness, nothing to suggest anger. Just an ordinary twilight in the forest.
Relieved, she motioned the townspeople forward. They followed uncertainly at first, but with more confidence as they saw nothing bad was happening to them.
They did not realize it, but the path they were walking on hadn't been there before. The path had tightly packed dirt, root and stone free, making an easier march. And it was just wide enough for them to all fit in comfortably.
Strangely, none of the soldiers chasing followed. They could not even hear their approach anymore. Mei Hua suspected the Fairy Emperor had dealt with them in his own unique way.
Even though she'd been the one to do it, she really couldn't believe that had worked. Considering she'd just broken the agreement with the Emperor, he had no obligation to make a new one with her or the townspeople.
Despite Ye's constant snide remarks about the Emperor, Mei Hua only ever got the impression that he was moody rather than bad. So whether he liked you or not, seemed heavily influenced on how you approached him and whether he was in a good or sour mood.
Apparently he'd been in a good mood. Did that mean he was happy she'd left or happy that she'd come back? Or perhaps it was just all on a whim?
At some point in the walking, Mei Hua began to sing. She needed something to do to calm the people with her. Night had fallen and only her single makes.h.i.+ft torch was giving them any light.
"I see the path before me,
The wind calls my name,
Where this path will lead me,
Is but a hope, is but a gain.
Behind me lies in ruin,
The past haunts ever still,
The tears I shed ever flowing,
Goodbye goodbye, beloved
We can never meet again.
I see the path before me,
A light to guide me home,
It bends and weaves through this darkness
But it guides me ever on.
Bring me forward.
Show me the way.
I know you know the way.
To the Ruler of the Forest,
Grateful ever will I be.
Your mercy you are showing,
How happy it is for me.
Your glory will I proclaim,
To lands distant and near,
Of the kindness you've given,
How I'll hold it dear.
Can you hear me? Can you hear me?
This song I sing for you.
This path you laid before me,
This light you keep lit to guide.
May it guide me, even still."
When she began repeating the lines again, she was surprised to hear others join her. At first, it was just a few, but eventually almost everyone joined in. There was no joy in their singing, for they'd lost too much to feel happiness, but there was hope.
Their voices, rough and clear, rose an eerie sound in the forest. The sound echoing and rebounding off the rocks, traveling for miles.
A Stag stood at the highest peek and looked down, far below him at a single burning flame. His eyes gleaming in the night.
Lights began to appear around the townspeople and down the path before them. There were some shouts of surprise, but their sudden appearance encouraged them to keep singing.
It was very surreal night for the townsfolk, something they would never forget no matter how long they lived. They walked all night, but their feet never grew sore and they never felt hungry. The strange girl who'd brought them into the Emperor's Forest kept singing, and they sang along with her, their throats never getting raw. And always the lights were with them, lighting their path.
Suddenly, the sun was rising and the trees thinned, and they found themselves on the other side of the mountain. When they'd completely walked out of the forest, it was as if a spell on them broke, and they all looked around confused and a little lost.They all felt like something very near to them had left.
Mei Hua turned to the forest entrance and bowed deeply.
"Today I know that not only is the Great Emperor mighty, he is benevolent. Your mercy, how can it ever be repaid? But in as much as we are able, we will try. What does the Great Emperor request as payment for safe pa.s.sage?"
They all stared at Mei Hua in fear. They'd totally forgotten the original agreement to enter had been with the expectations of a payment at the end. They had nothing on them, what could they give to a Fairy Emperor?
There was a long moment where nothing happened, some started thinking they'd be free. But just then, a great stag appeared before them. It was huge, with dark blue fur and glowing gold eyes. It's horns stretched out and up, and entangled in them were vines and flowers.
It was actually one of the Emperor's deer. A very old one, by the looks of it. Mei Hua had never seen one this close before and was amazed. The Emperor had "borrowed" it's body so that the town's people could see him. Otherwise, unless they were right at death's door, they'd not catch a glimpse of him.
None of Townsfolk had ever seen anything like it and they fell to their faces, terrified. Even the smallest of children understood: this was the Fairy Emperor, and he could crush them with a flick of a foot.
He stared at them for a very long time, his eyes inscrutable. Then he stared at Mei Hua, his eyes flas.h.i.+ng once, before turning away.
Mei Hua stood there in total shock.
He didn't speak a single word.
The very same Fairy Emperor who'd forced her to sing every day for years had let her drag over a hundred people through his forest and not demanded anything.
She felt her forehead break out into a sweat. Rather than feeling a.s.sured, she felt panicked. This did not make any sense to her at all.
Finally, she turned to the still kneeling townspeople.
"Fear not. The Fairy Emperor grants mercy and grace. The payment is deferred. You can go on your way in good spirits, but remember: should the Fairy Emperor ask anything of you, you must obey. He has saved your lives, so you owe him your lives."
The townspeople gave a relieved sigh and nodded. To the last one, they thought: As long as we never come near the mountain, he can't demand anything of us. We've gotten away without having to pay.