The sounds of men groaning and shouting, the clangs of steel against steel, swords against swords, spear against armor, filled the air. The stench of blood and sweat was so heavy that one could taste it in the air. The ground was littered with corpses upon corpses. It made it so hard to differentiate the dead from the living, maybe because the living were just steps away from joining the dead. The ground was thick with blood, changing it from its original bright yellow to a dark red colour. One by one the soldiers fell, until they were all down, cradling their swords, memories of wives and children, parents and friends filled their minds as their spirits left their body with resentment.
The Chiyun army have been fighting for the past six months. Fighting hard to prevent the Qin soldiers from taking over Northen Beilin. They had kept on fighting even when the reinforcements stopped coming. The provisions had also stopped few days after they had gotten the edict from the Emperor that proclaimed all of them as heroes who had died for their nation even though they were still alive. They had kept fighting even when they got news of how they were buried by their families who had gotten the news of their death on the battlefield. They had stopped asking about when the battle would end, they had stopped thinking of returning home. The thought in their minds as they fought battles against the strong Qin armies was to die for their country, even denying the fact that their nation had first betrayed them.
Soon the battle field, the Gubei Strait was silent as the last of the Chiyun soldiers was killed. A shout of victory resounded among the Qin soldiers whom themselves had had their own losses in the tough fight against the Chiyun forces of Northern Beilin.
However, before they could celebrate their victory, a shout came from nowhere. They all kept quiet in surprise, and immediately took their battle positions, looking around with cautiousness. In the distance, a lone rider approached the Qin army. He was dressed in a uniform, though it was different from that of the fallen Chiyun soldiers, one could spot some similarities in the design of the two uniforms. On his left hand was the red flag that bore a image of a golden tiger, and on his left hand was a spear.
A ripple of fear ran through the Qin soldiers who were already shifting back in a defensive motion.
“It is the Wolf King. Why is he here? Isn’t he supposed to be dead?” one of the Qin soldiers asked, his voice riddled with disbelief.
“Dead. He is dead. I saw it personally with my own eyes. The general cut off his head,” another replied.
“Is…is it that…? He rose up from the dead?” The words made the soldiers freeze with fear.
The rider stopped a few meters away from the Qin soldiers.
“I am Guichen. ‘Gui’ of ‘returning home’, and ‘Chen’ of ‘dust’. If you kill me, I will return two times stronger. If you kill me again, I will return ten times stronger,” the voice from the lone rider sounded eerie in the ears of the the soldiers.
“The Wolf King is back,” the shout brought confusion in the midst of the Qin soldiers as each tried to flee for his life. But before they could move, the man had swung down from his horse, swinging his spear as though it was just a broom stick. Each movement of the spear swiftly and neatly separated heads from necks, and soon the battlefield was once again dampened with warm red blood.
In the middle of the field, atop bodies, he stood. Screaming out he said, “Guichen is back. Back to collect the prize for every blood of the Chiyun army that was shed. Back to award punishment for those who betrayed the loyalty of the Chiyun army. Back for those who dared to raise their swords against the Chiyun army.”
His voice echoed in the air. A light breeze carried his words through the Seven Empires. Fear striking the minds of people as the words ‘Guichen is back’ travelled over rivers and valleys.
The morning court in the Beilin Empire was filled with tension. Noblemen were shivering as even the usual banters between each other were abandoned.
“What do we do now?” was the question running through their minds.
At the head of the courtroom was the Emperor of Beilin. He had abandoned his throne and had taken to pacing up and down.
“A set of useless people,” he spat at the noblemen. “You cannot even provide a good method to deal with this scourge.” He threw a scroll at them. The noblemen knelt down and placed their head on the floor in reproach.
A rusty voice spoke up, “When your highness was asked to send reinforcements to the Chiyun army, you refused to listen to us. Now that the Wolf King has returned, who do you think should take the blame for the death, no murder of over five thousand loyal soldiers. This cup of wine that you have brewed, your highness, it seems right that you alone should drink it. Whether it is bitter or sweet, you have to answer for your own actions,” a red-robed man, face wrinkled with age humphed as he stood up and left the court room. One by one, the other noblemen followed. Most already thinking of how to leave the capital without being noticed by the Wolf King.
The emperor stared with a slack mouth as the noblemen left. This time around, he had no escape route.
“Mistress, mistress,” a servant hurried through the corridors of a yard until she got to a room. She opened the door and rushed in. “Mistress.”
“How dare you?” In the middle of the room was a woman soaking inside a wooden bathtub.
“Guichen is back,” the servant said ignoring the sharp question.
“What?” Water splashed from the tub as the woman turned to look at the servant girl.
“He…he defeated the remaining Qin forces. Rumors say that he is on his way to the capital,” the girl continued, her voice shaky with excitement.
“He really is back,” the woman stood, her slender body glowed in the dim darkness.
She covered herself with a white robe and stepped out of the tub. “Prepare my clothes. I am leaving this night.”
“But…but, mistress it is already late.” Chunhua was surprised. She had expected her mistress to be excited, but not so much as to try to escape from the manor.
“How can the Wolf Queen stay still when her King returns. I have to welcome him home.” A radiant smile lit up her face, but it was quickly replaced by a cold, hateful expression. “Blood will flow through this capital. A man with the resentment of five thousand people, a force to be reckoned with.” She looked at the servant girl, “Chunhua, it is best if you hide out for the next few months. I can already feel the hatred in his blood, very few will escape from it.” Chunhua took the advice of her mistress and disappeared after placing a few clothes on the table.
At first, it was low, but soon it became louder. The second heartbeat within her, a sound that she had always longed for and she had missed for the past 6 months. A serene expression filled her face. “He is here.” She looked up and there he was, a dark shadow against the moon.
“Guichen,” the low mutter reached the ears of the man on the roof. And the bloodthirsty look in his eyes was replaced by a warmth. He was home. She was his home.