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꧁༺࿅ིཽ• –– •❈• –– •࿅ིཽ༻꧂

"Fire. That's all there was. It blanketed Wuzhen in its blazing embrace like it was nothing. Like we were nothing. Wuzhen was angry with us, we had burned her, destroyed what had made her our home. And now she was seeking retribution against me as her ruler. I could have given the mages what they wanted, but it was my fear. That godforsaken fear that kept me from seeing clearly! How foolish I was to think that that damned Tarot could solve anything and everything. And to what extent? Six hundred thousand were still dead, still lost to us. Six hundred thousand lives that will never be brought back from this seemingly eternal hell they were plunged into.

My body aches, my blood boils, my mind lost in that mourning abyss. I hear their cries, I see the fallen, civilian and soldier, lying cold upon the soot-covered ground. Wuzhen's canals run red with blood. Every time I look at my hands, I see nothing but red. Every time I close my eyes, I see nothing but these horrid memories. It matters not if I'm conscious, the past follows me wherever I go and will continue to do so until the day I die. The voice says it's an eye for an eye, but is it truly revenge if I see nothing but my own darkness?"

-- Emperor Huang

꧁༺࿅ིཽ• –– •❈• –– •࿅ིཽ༻꧂

Emperor Huang of Wuzhen - Year 1800

     "My Lord!" Yang Lin, one of my personal servants, shouted as he rushed into my study. 

I continued writing with my calligraphy brush, trying to fight the rising irritation. It had been the fourth time that Yang Lin had interrupted me and the previous subjects were far from significant. "Yang Lin, how many times must I tell you? Unless it's an emergency, do not look for me. I am behind in reviewing these conscription notices as is."

"But my Lord—" 

"No, Yang Lin. The mages could strike at any minute and the last thing I need is to be distracted by something as trivial as a royal painting." My brush softly glided across the bamboo slips as I focused on the order of the strokes.

"My Lord, the mages have invaded Xianyang. We're doing our best to evacuate the area, but I'm afraid that our troops are getting overpowered. They'll be entering the mainlands any moment at this rate."

I looked up suddenly and asked in a firm tone, "When?"

"Thirty minutes ago," he replied as he fidgeted nervously.

"Why was I not informed thirty minutes ago?" My vision swirled around and spots began to invade as my anger started to overcome me. I imagined that it wouldn't take that much to get me to shift into my dragon form. I felt as though I was on the edge of the cliff and I only needed a small nudge to make that descent into madness.

"It's suspected that Royal Messenger Zeng Ru was on his way to report to your Majesty about their intrusion, but was killed before taking flight. We didn't discover the body until moments ago."

I whispered a short prayer in my mind to my lost friend and confidant, Zeng Ru. Knowing him, his determination must've gotten the best of him. He had a penchant for sticking his nose where it didn't belong. And if it was relevant, he never knew when to give up. I stood up and ordered, "Prepare the Royal Guard, we're to protect the people at all costs. There are tunnels beneath the canals that they can take shelter in. Get as many people in as you can and seal the exits."

A Celestial Requiem (Book 1, The Secrets of Tarot series) ✔Where stories live. Discover now