I/ Rendezvous at the Dragon’s Head Cliff
All through the seven kingdoms, there was a story that went like this, “Magus Leo Mountain is not easy to come and go. Who had made up his mind to visit, surely in this lifetime he shall no longer carry anyone across the mountains, no longer pine for anyone, nor wanting to spend the rest of his life with anyone.”
To corroborate this rumor, many heroes had bravely come to Magus Leo Mountain to prove their mettle. However, they can’t always get what they want. The legendary mountain of Magus Leo was not easy to find, many people even thought that Magus Leo was just a hoax. A faraway place where bandits ran rampant and ancient beasts camouflaged everywhere… Such place could not be a hiding place for the Sanguis Turturis Sword! Oh the ancient spirit, oh the legendary weapon born from the time when the dragons ruled the world. Many who arrived did not find anything to challenge, then came back home, beating their chests and claiming that they had conquered Magus Leo Mountain. They then enthusiastically opened martial arts dojos, recruiting new talents from all over the lands.
Wei Liu sat on the side of the road, squinting at the newly opened dojo and smirked, "What? They conquered the Magus Leo? Such crap!” All was a scam. In this turbulent world, whoever was the strongest shall win, the more martial arts secrets he held, the more elaborate weapons he possessed, he could be God if he wanted to! Liu pulled down the straw hat to cover his face and headed for the river. The sun gradually hid itself behind the mountains, signaling that the night was about to cover this land.
Wei Liu was from Chi. According to the most common legend in all seven kingdoms, Sedrah was born from the Rainbow Pearl mixed with the flesh and blood of 7 dragons, then the bodies of these beasts turned into lands, rivers, mountains, and every little bit of those dragons transformed into new life, new races across the seven lands. All of them carried within themselves the breath and aura of the sacred dragons. It was this pride that did not allow them to bow down before any other races.
Even so, Wei Liu still believed firmly that Chi was the richest and largest land. The wealth of the land allowed the Chi to grow all the produce they wanted, but all that was still not enough. "More and more! We want more!” - Every time during the harvest season, the Chi would light a fire and play the drum, singing the same mantra that they said when they carried water and picked fruits: "More and more!"
Back when he was a child, sitting next to stacks of rice bags so tall he could not even see the moon, Wei Liu listened to the stories of the elders. They talked about dragons, about ancient mythical weapons, about the beauty of Viet Quoc women, but the most fascinating story was always the oracle. They even rumored that the curse of the Rainbow Pearl was engraved on the stones of the Mighty Gods when the arrogant dragons dared to disrespect Them and challenge Their mighty power.
And the elders talk about a place called "Magus Leo Mountain". That mountain was on the territory of Viet Quoc, where no matter how hard you searched for it from the shore, you still could not see it because it was always hiding behind the thick fog. To get to Magus Leo, one shall take the ferry on a burgundy sunset day, the Viet ferrywoman would mysteriously appear, asking "Do thee want to go to the other side?". She would not say a thing about the destination, nor about the fee of the trip, but you would know that it was her - for her singing was unlike anything you had ever heard in this world. She would look for you, you could never look for her.
Liu traced the familiar walk to the dragon's head cliff, here he was – this was the 180th day, whenever the sun set behind the mountains, he would walk to this place. In the past 180 days, there had not been a day with a "burgundy sunset", but he still waited patiently. Even if the burgundy sunset were just urban legend, it was still the last piece of news about the Sanguis Turturis Sword, which was lost for hundreds of years.
Wei Liu looked up at the clouds slowly drifting toward the horizon, then suddenly he felt the ground shaking, accompanied by singing in a strange language. He turned his head around and caught sight of a man taller than a horse-drawn carriage, strong veins bulging on his arms and calves, and he grinned, revealing yellow teeth and his monstrous jawline. In contrast to the simple robe of Wei Luu, the man was clad in fur lined armor, his shoulders covered in sharp horned armor pieces, every part of his body seemed to flaunt his personal glory.
“The Ragna!” Wei Liu thought to himself, he brushed his robe sleeves and tilted his chin up to show his pride.
The Ragna man retracted his smile and asked, "What the hell are you doing here?!"
He asked this time in the Common Tongue, unlike the one before – Wei Liu wondered that maybe the man was singing a Ragna song. The Ragna dominated the west coast, spent more time on water than on land, famously fierce and did not have relations with foreigners. Wei Liu relied on the information he knew, choosing a calm tone to answer, "I just happened to come here by accident, seeing the beautiful scenery here, I can't help but stop..."
Before he could finish his sentence, the Ragna man pushed forward without a warning, pounding the ground with every step. He used all his strength to throw his whole body towards Wei Liu like a giant club, but Wei Liu was unfazed – he bounced back quickly, landing lightly on his right toes, ready to take the stance. The dragon head shaped rock shattered. The Ragna man stood calmly, brushing the dust off his body.
Wei Liu was certain that he would not be able to escape without a fight. At first glance, the Ragna man was amazingly strong but he lacked speed: that massive body needed time to catch up with Liu. Wei Liu hatched a plan in his mind, if they really needed to fight it out, he did not want a direct confrontation, but he would avoid continuous attacks for the enemy to lose strength and then deal a decisive blow later. He and the Ragna man had no enmity, no animosity, yet when they met, the Ragna man attacked for no reason. Such bad luck!
“Oh thee who left with silk and gold
Basking in smoke and fire
Do thee remember this fateful wharf
And the one who gifted thee the embroidered belt with thy name”
It was a sound that Wei Liu had never heard in his life.
In that moment, it was as if all the birds in this world stopped singing, the wind stopped blowing, the waves stopped crashing to shore. It was a crystal clear but sorrowful sound that shook him to his core. It was as if Liu had forgotten something quintessential, as if he had been at the peak of glory and just now lost everything. As if… As if decades had passed in the blink of an eye!
Wei Liu immediately turned towards the source of the voice; a deep curiosity stirred in his heart. And to his astonishment, he realized the whole sky was drowned in burgundy.
No way! Just before the Ragna man charged at Liu, everything was still a languid shade of pale yellow. “No way! What on earth happened? Completely absurd!” Wei Liu narrowed his eyes, cautiously watching the Ragna man haughtily unbuckled his armor and moved towards the boat. He did it so comfortably, as if he knew the boat would come?
Wei Liu was stunned when crossing the fog was a divine beauty – his eyes full of admiration. Beautiful, gorgeous beyond his imagination. Wei Liu had once wracked his brain to imagine what "the beauty of a Viet girl" would look like, the kind of beauty that the elders used to worship. But he couldn't believe that even in his wildest dreams, he still could never imagine such a divine beauty like her. She wore a crown of daisy on her long, silky black hair, highlighting her soft eyes and gorgeous long eyelashes. Her slender nose and slightly pursing lips made her seem to be joking with him. Her boat finally reached the shore when she asked softly:
"Do thee want to go to the other side?"