Categories > Games > Jade Empire > Rebirth0 Reviews
Beatrix sighed. "We better buy you some clothes," she said. "And you better remember to keep them on."
"Off of me!" he bellowed. "Get off me, crazy woman!"
"I'm not interrupting anything, am I?" Ai Chun rapped the head of her cane against the door panel before letting herself in. "I brought my mistress some breakfast."
Min stirred from her spot on the floor. "That was very thoughtful of you, Ai Chun." She stifled a yawn. "But it's unlike you. Why are you doing this?"
"Please, Mistress," Ai Chun hissed as she hobbled over to Min. "Can't I occasionally do something considerate for you in exchange for all the kindnesses you've bestowed upon me?"
Min raised an eyebrow. "Very well. Sit by my side, Ai Chun. We'll talk."
"Mistress, I was hoping you would say that." Ai Chun smiled dangerously as she sat beside Min. The girl opened her sack that contained a sickened glob of rice.
"It would be rude of me to eat this without offering it to our friends," Min noted. "Would anyone care for some rice?"
Beatrix gave a sidelong glance at the sticky, over-glutinous blob and shook her head. "I believe Reginald hasn't ever eaten rice before," she said. "He's been dying to try it."
"Let the boy sleep some more," Min decided. "You look like you have something to say, Ai Chun."
"Yes, Mistress." She nodded. "Lotus Assassins have come to town. They say that outlanders have invaded our borders. Death's Consort and an army of assassins are taking care of the main group of outlanders as we speak, but there were tracks away from the outlander camp that led here."
Ai Chun paused and shot Beatrix a glare. "Anyone who houses or aids an outlander is a traitor," she continued. "And there's been a great deal of silver offered as a reward for anyone who turns in an outlander."
Beatrix's eyes fell on Reginald. Still sleeping, the boy looked so peaceful. "We have to leave," Beatrix announced.
"Just you and the boy," Min said. "The Black Whirlwind needs to rest if he wants to recover."
Beatrix looked down at the Black Whirlwind and patted his head. He slapped her hand away. "If I leave the Black Whirlwind like this," Beatrix said. "He's going to keep doing what he always does, only he won't be well enough to deal with the consequences."
"I've been killing longer than you've been living," Whirlwind snorted.
"Min!" Beatrix protested. "He'll get himself killed."
"You forget that I was also a student of Master Li," Min replied. "I'll look after him, see that his wounds heal and protect him if he starts trouble."
"Thank you so much." Beatrix bowed. "You don't realize how much this means to me."
The Black Whirlwind sat up and gathered his axes. "I'm a grown man and can make my own decisions, damn it!"
Beatrix tried to push him back down. "You'll tear your wounds open, fool," she argued. "Or they'll get infected again. Or you'll injure something completely new because you're not as able as you could be."
The Black Whirlwind wouldn't budge. "I haven't seen you in ten years," he said. "You were the only one that could ever beat me in a fair fight and I haven't had as fun a time since. And now you want to walk away and leave me with gentle hands and her gimpy sidekick?"
"I say let him go, Mistress." Ai Chun glared at him. "It'll be one less ignoramus alive in the empire."
"I'm coming with you," the Black Whirlwind continued. "Sun Li needs to have the tips of my axes imbedded in his backside and you're the person that can help me with that. I won't take no for an answer and if I've got to kill these two ladies, the boy and you to get what I want, believe me, I'll do it."
Beatrix sighed. "We better buy you some clothes," she said. "And you better remember to keep them on."
"Yeah, I wouldn't want to go distracting the women." Whirlwind laughed.
"If the Black Whirlwind insists on traveling with you, then I should also come along," Min said. "It wouldn't be right to just send a sickly man off. Besides, if what the Black Whirlwind says is true, it sounds to me like you could use a doctor in your party."
"I'd welcome you with open arms." Beatrix smiled.
"Mistress, what about me?" Ai Chun spluttered. "Are you just going to leave me here?"
"Ai Chun, you know I'd never abandon you." Min tucked a silken lock of hair back behind the girl's ear.
"Are you certain that's a wise decision?" Beatrix asked. "The journey we're going on is bound to be dangerous. If all the capable fighters are defending themselves, who's going to protect Ai Chun?"
"What makes you think that I'm not capable?" Ai Chun demanded.
"For starters, your temper," Beatrix replied. "But most importantly, your leg."
"Shows how much you know," Ai Chun scoffed. "How about I take this leg and stuff it right up your-"
"Ai Chun!" Min slapped the girl in the back of her head. "I apologize. The girl can be rather sensitive about her injury, but what she means to say is that I haven't limited her training to just herbs. She can be a worthy adversary and an incredible ally on the battlefield."
"Exceptional in regards to her limitations or exceptional in general?" Beatrix asked.
"Exceptional enough to defeat your precious, sleeping prince there without breaking a sweat," Ai Chun declared.
"If you have a dispute with me, why not challenge me?" Beatrix stood.
"Because I know how to choose my battles," the young girl replied. "I would not have lived as long as I have if I did not."
"Crippled, easy to anger and cocky." Beatrix shared a glance with Min. "How is this a worthwhile companion?"
"I wish I could say that she was cocky without reason," Min said. "But you should watch her fight."
"I've heard stories about you from my mistress," Ai Chun continued. "The best student at your school, you topped my mistress' record. If she can't beat you, I won't try to. Not yet, anyway. But I will prove myself."
"I'll hold you to that," Beatrix replied. "But right now, we should get out of here as quickly as possible."
"Before the innkeeper decides his neck is more important than the lives of strangers?" Min said. "I agree."
"The innkeeper is sleeping as we speak." Ai Chun smoothed her hair nonchalantly. "He won't tell the Lotus Assassins anything for some time at least."
"What did you do?" Min demanded.
"Relax, Mistress," Ai Chun snorted. "At first glance it looks like he passed out in a bowl of wine. I'd be more concerned about what we're supposed to do with your outlander friend here."
"He'll definitely need a change of clothes," Min murmured.
"We can shave his head like a monk's, but that won't change his features," Beatrix said. "Maybe full body armor?"
"Like an Imperial soldier?" Min asked. "That doesn't sound like a smart idea to me."
"Then a hat or hood," Beatrix replied. "Min, you know this place, bring some clothing back and I'll compensate you. I'll ready things here."
"As you wish." Min bowed and scurried from the room.
Ai Chun leaned over Reginald and prodded him with her cane. "Boy," she snapped. "Get up."
Reginald stirred and rubbed at his eyes. "Hmm?"
"Up," Ai Chun repeated. "I want you up. Now."
"We're leaving very soon," Beatrix told him. "I want to shave your head."
"My head?" Reginald stretched his arms. "Why?"
"Because you don't have black hair," Beatrix said.
"It's not exactly an inconspicuous trait in the Jade Empire," Ai Chun replied.
"We're in trouble, aren't we?" Reginald asked.
"There would be no 'we' if I had my way," Ai Chun said. "But my mistress feels differently. Apparently the Radiant Jen Zi still instills loyalty after all these years."
"You don't have to follow me," Beatrix said.
"But I do," Ai Chun said. "Life was bad enough before you came here, but now you've arrived and wish to take my mistress away. I need her."
"What's so bad about living here?" Beatrix asked.
"Is that some sort of joke?" Ai Chun jeered. "Where have you been?"
"Away," Beatrix murmured. "Whirlwind, do you have a razor in your pack?"
"Do I look like I use a razor?" the Black Whirlwind grumbled.
"I do," Reginald said. "In case I needed to shave."
Ai Chun laughed at that, but said nothing. Reginald scowled.
"Bring it to me," Beatrix said. She turned to Ai Chun. "What's so bad about living in this town?"
"Nothing if you're an honest working sort or a Lotus Assassin," the girl replied.
"But you are an honest working sort." Beatrix took the razor from Reginald's hand and sat him down at her feet.
"Big deal," Ai Chun said. "Everyone thought it was so great when all those crime lords started disappearing one by one, but after they're all gone, who's left? Assassins get bored and suddenly a fish monger upset over his day's profits or a woman who scolds her husband too harshly is criminal enough to take into custody."
"But the innkeeper here seemed happy enough," Beatrix said. She ran a hand through Reginald's hair. Too long for the razor, she set the small blade between her lips and pulled out a dagger.
"Happy out of fear." Ai Chun chuckled. "I never thought I'd say that."
"What about you, then?" Beatrix mumbled over the razor. "You weren't exactly pleasant when we first met."
Ai Chun shrugged. "You woke me up."
"I don't believe that's why." Beatrix began to hack locks of hair from Reginald's head. "I could have been a Lotus Assassin at your door."
"But you weren't," Ai Chun replied. "You were an annoying woman that woke me six hours too early."
Beatrix raised an eyebrow, but continued to cut Reginald's hair in silence.
"I think these will fit," Min announced as she came through the door. Bundles of cloth were in her arms, blue silk billowing over her wrist.
"Let's see." Beatrix smiled.
The Black Whirlwind's outfit proved to be a bit too tight, Reginald's fell loose at his shoulders, but they were close enough to work for the time being. Min supplied Reginald with a green hat and face mask reminiscent of Silk Fox's. Head shorn and covered, his face hidden except for his eyes, at first glance Reginald was just another traveler. It would have to do.
"What direction are we heading in?" Min asked.
"East," Beatrix answered. "I'm hoping to get to Tien's Landing as soon as possible."
"Does that mean you intend to cut through the Imperial City?" Min asked.
"Not if we don't have to," the Black Whirlwind interrupted.
"Does that mean the rumors are true?" Min wrapped some dried herbs in rice paper and set them in a sack.
"I'm sick of heavens," the Black Whirlwind muttered.
"It doesn't matter," Ai Chun snapped. "East, you said? We have to leave."
"She has a point," Beatrix said. "Let's get out of here."
Min nodded. "Agreed."