Part 1

North encampment, Jade Empire 10th January 2013 - 08:20

Inside a separate tent in the Jade Empire Camp, southeast side from where Ace and the JUUSANKA are currently battling their share of REMNANTs a certain girl who despite giving off a worried look emitted an alluring elegance as she approached and called out to her best friend seating close to what resembled like a window. For quite sometime now her best friend was seating in that very same window just sighing and pacing her crimson gaze towards a certain battlefield to the west.

"Rin, you have been fighting since last night, let your retainers do the rest and go to school." The tall girl pa.s.ses her worries as she tries to call out to the young girl in front of her.

"Hmm"

"Are you that tired, that you can't even answer me?" she calls again to the young girl.

"Hmm"

A twitch could be heard from the tall slender girl, as she readies her fist, and...

*thud

"Arghh! Ching Ann, what do you think you're doing with my precious head?"

The girl named Tao Rin finally reverted to life, this young girl despite her pet.i.te figure is actually the esteemed king to the Jade Empire, one of the Kingdoms in the Midnight Congregation, yet for the tall and slender girl named Ching Ann, she was her friend, a friend she could do anything to catch her attention.

"That's what you get for trying to ignore your worried best friend." Ching Ann pa.s.sed it as a serious joke.

Rin, who still felt the blow from she received from her friend continuously caresses the area where she was. .h.i.t, the girl who gave her a knock on the head is her only close friend and the only one calls her by her real name all over the Jade Empire. Ching Ann on the other hand just gave off a smile that of a relief as she has ascertained that her friend was now back to her normal self... no she was now seeing a more unusually hyped Rin.

Ching Ann, who has been taking care of Rin knows the slight changes in Rin's moods, she did not know why but, the visage shown awhile ago by the pet.i.te Rin (who still continues to rub her head from the hit) was not an image of the usual aloof Rin who did not care about anything, but was actually that of worry. A worried look she has not seen since she meet her years ago, at the least this was how Ching Ann interpreted the current act.

"Don't tell me, a flower bloomed in the battlefield?"

Ching Ann gave a wicked smile as she wanted to leave a joke to pa.s.s as a mere amus.e.m.e.nt to offer to her otherwise tired friend but...

*blush

"Ha?"

*looks away

"Eh?"

This was something serious, much more serious over when the tall slender with short black hair, Ching Ann had learned that her pet.i.te of a best friend was actually king to one of the Kingdoms of the Midnight Congregation.

Ching Ann blankly blinked her eyes twice, before pulling herself along with the girl in love now trying to look away from Ching Ann's piercing gaze.


"So who is it?" As Ching Ann violently presses her question towards her best friend even further, "Don't tell me it's a Romeo and Juliet love story were two Kingdoms are going to try their best to separate you." Just like how the conversation started as a joke, this statement that left Ching Ann's mouth was another cliché comment she wanted to pa.s.s as a joke but...

*blushed up cheeks, eyes wide open, mouth agape, stiffened body... ... ... ... ...

Rin's reaction was that of someone who has just realized something obscure to her, something that Ching Ann, a girl who was taller than Rin, saw in two aspects. One was that of a confused girl in love and the other a confused girl in life. Ching Ann, who has known Rin since childhood, knew about her dilemma, a contested feeling to protect her family's 'honour' and her very own ideals. And now it was fully messed and manifested by her affection for a certain someone.

Ching Ann who easily found out the confused Rin's Dilemma between choosing for the two very hard word her 'HONOR' and her own 'IDEALS', Ching Ann could only give up since she felt that the person in question has no real idea of what was happening to her... no she might have unconsciously refused the other idea to continue being a member of the 'TAO' family.

If there was a contest on the most shocking picture, Ching Ann would definitely have won, (although she would never try to make money out of her friend's plight, but seeing Rin's reaction was one in a million even for her), Ching Ann could only smile as she gave her best friend a warm hugged.

Rin, who was tired, confused and now in a state of emotional stress easily found that warmth and fell asleep. Ching Ann continued to caress Rin's hair as if to imitate a mother tending to her child, a child no more than her age. As soon as the tired King of Jade Empire named Tao Rin fell to a dream. Ching Ann's smile disappears as she continues to watch over the sleeping Rin

"It would be better if you indeed, find the man who can set you free..."

This was nothing more but a wishful thinking... no an only prayer by a worried girl to her only friend... and family in the world.

*sounds fading

The intense battle outside seemed far for the now sleeping girl; as this young girl further entered the deep consciousness, This young girl named 'Tao Rin' was sent by that ocean of consciousness to a distant memory, a memory that has changed her life in many ways including the meeting of that certain knight.

Part 2

A certain mansion, SRP 31st December 2010

"Zhè háizi xíngwéi zài zhèlǐ shì shénme!?"

-What is this child doing here!?

The bold voice resounded in the draft room as the older man said those words to his son. Behind the younger of the two men was a young girl who could only hide from her father's back as she lowers her gaze at the floor.

This young girl has been living in country that is ruled by democracy... a country ruled by freedom, this is the Philippines, and this girl has been living here since her birth 14 Years now; although still young she knows that discrimination is not tolerable for this country that champions equality; and because of this she should have the option to just let the words she hears slide at one ear and let it pa.s.s the other, or if she really wanted to she could protest at how he should act towards her.

...but for some reason all she could do was hide behind her father. It was the first time she was seeing this older man but she felt that the person right in front of her was someone that needs that reverence, an overwhelming presence that has swallowed the existence of this young girl.

"Rin... meet your grandfather." Although the young girl could sense fear from the voice coming from her father, her father still maintained his composure and spoke to her with a dignified voice, as if not to disrespect his own father.

The young girl named Rin could only give the old man in front of her with a meek nod; in response (if you can call it one) she could hear a 'tch' sound as the old man closed his eyes and removed himself, from their presence. Tao Yuan, Rin's father without even giving a single glance to where his own father disappeared to, gave his daughter his usual bright smile as he once again explained as to why he has decided introduces Rin to his family after more than 14 years of alienation.

Tao Rin was born under a lucky star, a loving mother and a dedicated father. She was always inspired when she keeps hearing the story as how her parents' love story reminisced that of the story of 'Romeo u0026 Juliet'.

Rin yet did not know that her father, Yuan, was a member of the 'Tao' family, a very strong Chinese family that has a deep connection to some of the biggest and darkest TRIADs that has lived and kept in the shadows of the unknowing country of Philippines. As a Chinese family with strong traditional affiliation, Rin's father who fell in love with a 'mere Filipina' was going against the family's code of ethics. He has even dishonoured this code by eloping with her on the dead of the night.

Rin's mother Chieska Gonzales, who was born from pure Filipino family too did not want to a.s.sociate themselves with Yuan's family because the 'Tao' family was completely shrouded by mystery, they even warned their daughter that if she ever elopes with him, they would completely cut their ties with her.

When the two did decide to elope, they had made a decision not to rely on either of their families; the two had decided to start anew and raised their only child without the blessing from either of their families, although they were not that gifted in terms of financial aspect, they lived their lives in complete happiness. Meals and household labours were evenly and lively accomplished.

But fate sometimes is cruel, as if to test a persons glittering hope, cast the die and moves the wheels downwards, Rin at the Age of 8 witnessed the dreadful car accident that took her mother's life. And just when she thought that her mother's death was the last time she would shed her tears, shocking news of her father's remaining time reached her. Yuan, who did not want to let her only daughter be alone in the world, decided to introduce her to the 'Gonzales' family, but with the 'Tao' blood on her (they might have sense the danger it would bring) they had kept to their promise to completely cut the ties of their daughter's..., Chieska's daughter.

Without any other choice and after going to a complete deliberation with Rin, ample considerations and great resolve Yuan decided to introduce Rin to his own family, the 'Tao' family. Although, he has dishonoured IT, he is still a member and direct descendant of the great 'Tao', they will not just cast him aside.

And this was the reason the two, who from the onset were filled with great resolved, but was actually a mere shield to cover the fear they have been hiding inside. With only a month to live Yuan, has entrusted both his and Chieska's symbol of love, Rin, in the hands of his family.

It was more than a year when she had completely transferred to the 'Tao' household and Rin's father pa.s.sed away. And this was the start of her inescapable battle against fate. Rin, who bore half of the blood of 'Tao', had an ambiguous... no, a definite role of trying to fit in to the 'Tao' family. Her battle might have been a lonely one, if she had not met up with her only friend Ching Ann, who was actually an attendant and a member of the branch family to the 'Tao'.

"A traitor's blood"

"Yuan's dirty blood"

"A peasant's blood"

These were some of the things that Rin would hear while she walks the hallways of the Tao mansion. The last two were the ones she despised the most, it as if they were making fun... no degrading the blood of her Father and mother's. But, to maintain her position in the household she has let those words go by.

"Her blood is nothing more but a toy for us in the main house"

"What did you say!?"

Ching Ann is known for her level headedness, but this was only when it comes to things directed to her, but it was different when it was relating to her only friend, she could not let that type of hara.s.sment pa.s.s; as if her anger were worth that of three people. The three young men the same age as her and Rin just laugh, as if to react from that mockery, the 14 Year old girl who was taller compared to other girls her age, easily sprinted and tried to slap the nearest guy, but Ching Ann's who has no martial arts training could only show her frustrated tears as her arm easily stopped.

"A branch family actually dare say something against us."

"What are you saying!? You are also just another member of a Branch family!" Ching Ann rebuked, but this might have fuelled the events for the next stage.

*Tch

*slap

Part 3

A certain mansion, SRP 10th February 2012

Rin for the whole year had been trying her hardest to keep her emotions at bay, even if they mock her or her blood, just to ensure that she could keep her promise with her father she would not mind them. Well, it was rather easy for her, since compared to that 'Scary Old Tao Xian', it was easy for her to let the words of these kind of people who has nothing but the affiliation of the name 'Tao' get to her, but, seeing as her friend Ching Ann fell to the ground as she was slapped hard by those same young men from the branch family, boiled her blood in anger.

*Suō di (reduced earth; note: this technique is the Chinese word for the skill SHUKUCHI)

The two remaining Lian (members of the branch family of 'Tao') guys were not sure what just happened, all they know was that the their distinguished leader was now no where in sight, as if to replace the missing youth, in front of them was the girl they had made a mockery earlier, her right arm extended into a fist, her left arm parallel to the ground and behind her was line of smoke.

Even Ching Ann was amazed as she looked at Rin's face, and there she saw in it a face full of life like the heavy load she had been carrying was removed from her back, her two braided pigtail hair further tied into two rings swayed even as she just stood there to maintain her ground. The two who had recovered and finally a.n.a.lysed what has transpired, fell to the ground when they tried to step back. About three meters from where they had stood was now the unconscious youth that hurt her best friend.

The 'Tao' family (from main and branch families) who had gathered to form a gallery had mixed conversation as to what has transpired, there were some who had shown shocked faces, others had amazement worn on them.

"My father may be a traitor to the family code, my mother maybe someone not intended for the family..." Rin lowers her stance and breathes slowly as she clearly leads her voice to resound the crowded garden.

"...But, the blood that runs through these veins are that of a 'Tao', those who dare touch my family or my family's pride, I'll strike..." a powerful conviction on her voice as she looks straight but her gaze was much further. Not only did these three tried to dishonour her name; they even hurt someone she has considered as family, punishment was needed.

The gallery was amazed with the words that left mouth and actions from the daughter of the one they have considered a traitor. But the most shocking thing happed afterwards.

*slap

A big hand had just hit Rin's face, the shadow was easily casted away and the man became visible to her. Rin knew this man all too well, he was the head of the family... no, this man is in itself the incarnation of 'Tao' itself. She could half describe her own reaction even without the need of the reflections from mirrors; it was overwhelming fear, a fear that has deeply rooted towards this old man.

When Ren was young, has been slapped by her father once. It was because she had forgotten the time and leisurely went home which greatly worried her parents. But in that slap was a form of love, a worried father towards his own daughter. But the slap she was now experiencing did not share that slightest worry or love in it, she did not know why but it felt sad, nothing like nostalgia.

Even after a year, showing off her skills in both in martial arts or in her grades at school did not pay off, no, they were meaningless, as long as that man, Tao Xian would not forgive his own son, Rin would not be allowed to clear her own father's name, nor will she be allowed to decorate her mother's ident.i.ty.

In a state of confusion and depression she found herself wandering in the streets of SRP, she could not bring in her to go back to that house, but it was the only home she had that was given to her by her father, also her only remaining family was their.

"I'm sure Ching Ann is worried..."

*crack... crack... crack...

*blip... blip... blip...

"Hmm?" Rin's cellphone has been blipping non stop, she took it out from her pocket to confirm the cause of blipping sound. As soon as she saw the content of what looked like a cellphone, Rin change her crimson gaze towards the sky... the blue moon has been at reign for quite sometime time now, the DEVICE in her hand has reacted to the presence of REMNANTS near the vicinity she has been wandering.

"What perfect timing... my stress relievers."

In front of her were creatures that lurk in the darkness of the Midnight Congregation. As Rin sighed she extends her left leg in front, her right leg supports her weight, and her right arm extended outwards parallel to her left leg with her right arm close to her chest. Shown on her proud chest was the glowing "Souring Heavenly Dragon: Crowned Serpent", CREST of her only sanctuary the "Jade Empire".

Rin of two mixed blood was gifted by her parents with equal strength: from her mother she received kindness and the resilience of a Filipina, and the 'Bājíquán' (Eight Extremities Fist) by her father. With much to work, the reign of the blue moon was shortened as she defeats the grazing REMNANTs.

Although she defeated them with great difficulty because of her state of mind, to the onlookers she was beaming with the skill that would shine on a stage of a battlefield.

To escape the hardship she has acc.u.mulated during her transfer to the 'Tao' household, this seemingly weak girl (because of her small stature) became the star of the Jade Empire. Her battle prowess became the ticket to her acceptance to this very kingdom.

"I was quite worried because you were not acting yourself but..." a voice interrupted her break.

"Shao Kuan Huángdì"

*Emperor Shao Kuan

The man in his thirties in front of Rin is the 2nd Generation King to one of the Kingdoms of the Midnight Congregation, the current emperor of the Jade Empire. Although she has no knowledge about this man's true ident.i.ty, he was the one who accepted her inside the empire; though she was quite happy for the acceptance, when they met about 4 months ago he bluntly said to her something about falling in love with her martial arts skills, that was why she was able to enter into the empire. Rin found it a bit disturbing; he was not bad looking in fact he looks quite young despite his age, but it was as if he had some ulterior motive behind the help he is giving. She was about to know why.

Part 4

Shin Long Castle, Jade Empire 10th February 2012 - 24:45

The Jade Empire's castle is a castle hidden in a mountain path that does not exist in the center of SRP (this is a guise under the blue moon). For awhile Rin has been walking beside the King of Jade Empire not uttering a single sound. After a couple of doors opening, the two finally arrived at the throne room.

The Emperor, Shao Kuan does not sit at the throne but instead took a couple of Chinese broad swords from a hidden draft beside the throne.

"What do you think about these swords?"

No words could easily come out from Rin's mouth.

The King presented the swords to Rin, she examines it up close and holds it by their hilts, she was quite surprised by the weight both possess. Was this also an effect of an illusion? Then there was no need to hide it in a secret draft. It can just be stored in the DEVICE where no one can access but the one registered.

"Those are REGALIAs."

"!?" Shock could only escape Rin's state of mind.

The one on Rin's hands were genuine REGALIAs, actual forged WEAPONs and has a concrete physical existence that has nothing to do with the DDS, but its power to dispel illusions are strong that can only be seconded by creations known as EMBLEMS.

*gulp

"Why are you showing this to me?"

"Tao Rin, I hereby bestow to you the t.i.tle KING."

Rin was overjoyed to hear the words, as if she has not received any kind words in the last few years. She was to be gifted with the right to rule over Jade Empire. Just when she was about to say yes, the lingering question that appeared to her 4 months ago returned.

"Why? You accepted me because of my skill, but if you wanted to have a successor then those two who have been loyal to you should be wiser choice." Rin pointed to the two older retainers at the back of Shao Kuan. Rin had found the idea a bit sceptical. Why was this man so kind to her?

"That is because you are Yuan's child." The name she has not heard for a year was released from this complete stranger. Shao Kuan, as an enlightenment gave her a picture of him together with her father, Yuan. The two have been friends since childhood, when her parent eloped; Shao Kuan was the first person Yuan visited and asked for help.

"He will probably kill me if he finds out I drag you into this place. But you being here is your choice, not influenced by me or any other facts."

Rin nodded, that is right; sure she was so depressed about the death of her parents that when the opportunity to be in another world came, she grabbed it, but that choice was hers even if someone force her, she still had the choice to say no. but at that time... no, even now she would still say yes and join the Midnight Congregation.

"Will you accept these swords?"

"Yes!"

"The weights they represent are heavy"

"Still I will accept. With this power I might be able to..."

"Then as a birthday gift, I present to you the world." Shao Kuan from that moment has ceased to be the KING of Jade Empire. "On your right hand I present to you 'YU CHANG' this represents your PRIDE. On your left I present to you 'TAI E' this represents your HONOR. Both 'YU CHANG' and 'TAI E' are weights you must carry as you pursue your IDEALS. Go forth and seize your dreams".

On the 11th of February exactly 12:00 in the morning Tao Rin's birthday she became king of the Jade Empire.

With her leadership, the Jade Empire rose to glorious heights, her best fried Ching Ann was shocked at the news but continued to support her by becoming her attendant. Rin thought that with this power she would have enough credits to win the 'Tao' family. Yes, she was absolutely right on this mindset, but she did not know that this will increase the weights on her HONOR.

"I see you have become one of those KINGS." [Now you see what I'm worth]

"As to be expected of a member of a 'Tao'" [Liar]

"I always knew she could overcome the trials." [What trials are you talking about?]

"TAO RIN" [Eh, grandfather]

"Yes, grandfather...?"

"From now on you will use that power for 'TAO' and no one else."

"Yes... grandfather."

"Increase your territory to the west; create a path that would lead China to victory." [Huh?]

"Soon, this country, the Philippines will be at the mercy of our motherland."

"You have done well, Yuan's daughter, my grandchild." The head of Tao, Tao Xian smiled at the achievement of her grandchild, but to Rin it was cruel one, it was a smile that swallowed completely her PRIDE.

"!!!"

Ching Ann, who was beside her all the time of the meeting, was as pale as Rin. Unlike Rin who was a direct descendant, Ching Ann could not complete understand the weight Rin was carrying with her but, as a friend, she was able see the dilemma of choosing between her own pride and the Tao family's Honor.

North encampment, Jade Empire 10th January 2013 - 17:25

Inside the Jade Empire Temporary HQ voices of generals and other soldier were getting louder as the discussion got longer. Some of the generals have presented an idea to use the commotion caused by the appearance of the REMNANTs as an opportunity to lay siege on Albion. To them this was the perfect opportunity they have been waiting to clear a path towards the west side of Cebu; with Albion out of the way they can finally clear that path.

But the other general saw nothing of that sort, in fact in their a.n.a.lysis made it clear that the Jade Empire soldiers' were more confused and spent compared to Albion's. Although Albion had a relative smaller troops stationed just out their outskirts they have been able to withstand the continuous a.s.sault from the REMNANTs. It would not be a complete understatement that the reason the Jade Empire was able to leisurely conduct this prolonged council meeting was because, as of the moment they have relied on the few Albion Knights who continue to boldly battle against REMNANTs whohave a.s.saulted the west part of SRP.

Ching Ann who stood behind Rin could barely conceal her bored yawn, as the meeting continued to go out of hand. Rin who looked much more composed than the rest of the older men, finally sighed and waved her hand to stop the noise.

"Our top priority is the complete annihilation of the REMNANTs that appeared on our territory has been the soul reason for the Kingdoms in the first place. "

"Your highness, with all due respect, but creating a path..."

"General Xu Lu, Are you saying to abandon my inhabitants? ...the children of Jade Empire?" Rin placed her crimson gaze full of conviction. The generals and loyal retainers of Jade Empire found themselves on those words.

"We will now proceed to protect our western territory, provide full reinforcement to Albion's remaining Knights..." to stress her words and sincere decision, she stands in front of her generals. "Those who are against me or those who are too weak to stand beside me, stay here."

"Those who are loyal to JADE EMPIRE's Ideals, FOLLOW ME."

The generals stood as if to respond to their king's order and clasp their armors. The third round against the Jade Empire was now on it way.

Ching Ann could only smile at her friend whose back no longer chained, the young girl she met 11 years ago was now in front of her, an honest child, who prided herself with a strong conviction she inherited from her parents.

Rin with her confusion dispelled, clasped both 'YU CHANG' and 'TAI E', her PRIDE and HONOR as she readies to chase that young knight's back.






CHAPTER DISCUSSION