Categories > Games > Jade Empire > Rebirth0 Reviews
“He won’t bind the Black Whirlwind,” Beatrix said. “Trust me.”
Somewhere in the distance, there was a wet, snuffling noise. Heng rubbed at his eyes as he yawned. There was a snort and a tongue lapping at his forehead. He pushed Jing Jing away; his eyelids were still too heavy to open.
“Heng? How are you feeling?” Cool, long fingers adorned with rings stroked at his cheek.
Heng whined and swatted at the hand on his face. “Go away.”
“Tired, I see,” Father laughed softly. “You have to get up, Heng. I’ve let you sleep in long enough.”
“No, no.” Heng stuck out his tongue and raspberried.
Without another word, Father pulled the blankets down from where they were snug at Heng’s neck. The morning air was cool against his skin and Heng flailed his arms around futilely. His father patted the boy’s head.
“Come back later,” Heng insisted.
“Heng,” Father said firmly.
“And don’t tell me no,” the boy added.
“Enough.” The boy’s father sat him upright on the bed. “Up, now.”
Heng rubbed at his eyes and pouted. “Where’s Mother?”
Father sighed and smoothed his robes. “You know that Mother can’t always be here, Heng. That’s why we keep her in our hearts.”
“I saw Mother last night,” Heng said. “She was all by herself.”
“And what happened?” Father asked. He leaned forward to give the boy his full attention.
Heng shifted uncomfortably. “I saw Mother,” he repeated.
“You’re not lying to me, are you Heng?” Father smoothed back a lock of the boy’s hair.
“I saw Mother.” Heng kept his eyes locked on his knees fidgeting beneath the blankets.
Father stared at him a long moment before he nodded. “I believe you.”
Heng’s lower lip stuck out.
“What did she do?” Father asked. And when Heng didn’t reply, his voice became less soft. “Heng, tell me. What did she do?”
Heng sighed. “She yelled at me.”
“She yelled at you,” Father murmured. “Did she touch you? Did she hurt you?”
Heng shook his head.
Father pulled the boy close up against his chest. “I’m glad. You have no idea how much you worry me sometimes.”
“I want Mother.” The boy sniffled and wiped his nose against the silk of his father’s robes.
“You do, do you?” Father began to rock the child in his lap as his fingers combed through Heng’s hair.
Heng snorted the mucus back up his nose. “Uh huh. She’s pretty.”
“She is,” Father said.
“She has a pretty outfit,” Heng told him. “And a pretty mask. And pretty hair and a pretty eye and—“
“She had her mask off, didn’t she, Heng?”
Heng’s little mouth curled into a pout.
“Were you scared, Heng?” Father asked.
“No,” Heng said before his lower lip quivered and he fell into a fresh round of tears.
“It’s perfectly alright to be afraid sometimes, Heng,” his father soothed.
“No!” Heng sobbed a smear of wet into his father’s robes. “No, I don’t want to! You’re not afraid, it’s not fair.”
Father continued to stroke at the boy’s hair. “I am fearless so that everyone else has the luxury of feeling afraid. I can’t afford to feel afraid. You understand this, don’t you, Heng?”
“It’s not fair, not fair…”
Father shook his head and clucked softly beneath his breathe. “You understand this, Heng. I know you do.”
“No, I don’t want to—“
“Tell me why this is, Heng.”
“No, no, no—“
“To be able to crush any opposition that fails to recognize you as the God Emperor that you rightfully are,” the boy intoned.
“Good boy,” Father murmured.
“We’ll be fine, we’ll be fine, just breathe and…”
It had taken a while to start up the Marvelous Dragonfly after years of disuse. Layers of dust on the wing thick enough to draw patterns into had been brushed off, but it was the engine that groaned in protest that gave Beatrix pause.
She certainly hadn’t forgotten how cramped the little plane could get with several people sharing its space. Sky seemed to and protested, perhaps just to show that he was still unhappy with the group decision, before he climbed onboard. Wild Flower took it all in stride and primly settled onto Sky’s lap, her half-smile saying what she thought of the general unease.
Dawn Star lacked Kang’s deft hand and the Marvelous Dragonfly would wobble and pitch up or down in altitude much too drastically for a smooth ride, but she was competent enough to not crash it. Or rather, she managed to keep the plane airborne and functioning up until it came to landing just outside of the Imperial City. The flying machine uttered a pitiful sputtering of exhaust that was drowned out by Reginald’s yelps as it came to a screeching, thudding halt atop the uneven landscape.
Despite the young man being visibly paler, it was Ai Chun who forced her way off the Marvelous Dragonfly to vomit all over the grass. Both Sky and the Black Whirlwind were quick to exit and stretch their legs. Beatrix climbed up towards Dawn Star.
The other woman tucked a strand of hair back behind her ear. “I think I broke it,” she said.
Beatrix smiled. “I suppose that means we can’t turn back, now.”
“You wouldn’t have, anyway,” Dawn Star replied. “Have you thought more on how we’re going to infiltrate the Imperial City?”
“I have,” Wild Flower said as Beatrix’ mouth hung open, unable to answer.
Outside, Ai Chun seemed to be split between vehemently insisting she was fine to Reginald while shooting unhappy glances to Min who was content to ignore her apprentice for the moment. Sky was studying the gouge of earth and rock that the Marvelous Dragonfly created on impact and shaking his head. A small distance away, the Black Whirlwind had taken to drinking.
Wild Flower hopped out of the Marvelous Dragonfly and took very deliberate footsteps until she was dead center of all the meandering people. The pitch of her voice was high enough to carry over all the other conversations, her inflections drenched in a matter-of-fact egotism.
“I am going to go into the Imperial City and I am going to locate Henpecked Hou,” she said.
“You?” Sky snorted. “Just by yourself?”
Wild Flower nodded. “I’m not of this world. I’m the only person here immune to Sun Li’s binding.”
“But even with Ya Zhen, you can’t possibly expect to make it out if Sun Li sics the entire city on you.” Dawn Star rubbed at the wrinkles and soot on her garments with the heel of her hand.
“My appearance will give me an advantage, if only momentary,” Wild Flower said as she pulled the pins from her hair. She shook the elaborate bun out and began to smooth her hair into pigtails.
“The Black Whirlwind will also go with you,” Beatrix said.
That certainly earned her some interesting looks. She had nearly decided on staring down Wild Flower’s raised eyebrow when Sky spoke.
“Do you think you’ll be able to defeat him if Sun Li binds him?” he asked.
“He won’t bind the Black Whirlwind,” Beatrix said. “Trust me.”