Chapter 19: The School of Li Lin

Ryu lay unconscious on a clean and well-tucked bed. The wounds from his previous encounter were gone, and he’d been dressed in a plain linen shirt and pair of pants.

The decor of the room was far opposite of ornate. The walls were painted a most simplistic white and were complemented nicely by oak floorboards. The windows were shutterless and open to the outside. There were occasional breezes that would flow through, but they came in the perfect frequency, temperature, and intensity so as to not put out the incense that burned on a stand by the bed.

After a moment, Ryu’s eyes gently opened. He calmly blinked to adjust his eyes, and as he did so the morning birds began their daily song. The aromatic of the incense streamed above his face, and his nose naturally sniffed to the distinct smell.

After recollecting vague memories of past events, he rose up. He sat there inspecting himself. Seeing that everything had been healed, he looked around but saw mostly nothing but the stand to his side and a table to his right. His old cotton clothes had been placed on it; they had been washed and cleaned. There was also a brown crystal necklace set on the table, too.

He got up and viewed the scenery outside. It was a bright and clear day. He could see small mountains in the background and the height of the forest beyond. After appreciating the view, he walked over to the table and grabbed the necklace. He equipped it, then continued his way to the door, which was centered at the other end of the room. There was a pair of leather-strapped sandals by the door. He slid his feet into them and ventured outside.

Upon exiting the modest abode, he found himself in the most peculiar place. He had opened up the door to a great cobblestone courtyard. On either side of his view were buildings that seemed all too familiar. The architecture was similar to those of real-world China and Japan: dark-tiled rooves that slanted and curved downward; light exterior walls; stone footsteps leading up to a door at each housing complex.

Straight across the courtyard, beyond a red gate, was a pagoda. It was at least twenty levels high, and leading up to its steps was a hard dirt path, which was lined perfectly with two rows of blossoming plum trees on its sides.

The pagoda was a good sprint’s away, but he could see two young people each carrying a wooden pole over their shoulders, a bucket of water tied to each end. They were the two young NPCs he’d seen in the cave. He walked across the courtyard and through the gate. As he walked through the blossom path, he could hear their loud bickering.

“This is all your fault, Tazuki!” the girl said, pouting her mouth.

“It was your idea to use the cave portal!” said the boy.

The girl murmured, “I just wanted to see a Brown-Fanged Spider Queen…”

“What did you expect? To pet it?” Tazuki exclaimed. “We were lucky to get out of that. Who knows what those dumb goblins were going to do with us.”

“Hey! If it weren’t for those imbued chains, we would have gotten free! We’re pretty strong, you know! We would have totally beat their butts!”

“Still, we got outnumbered and caught,” said Tazuki. “Thankfully that man came… Madame Yi and Lady Yue Yi too.” Mentioning those last two names brought his voice to a halt.

“Hmmpf,” the girl puffed. “Grandmother never lets us play outside the school. And Voruna and the other towns are just so boring…”

Tazuki, being a sensitive person to his environment, sensed the approaching player. He turned his head and saw Ryu. He gestured to the girl, whispering to her. “Ling’er, look.” They both turned their attention to Ryu as he walked over. 

The girl’s expression suddenly changed into a bright and happy one. She dropped her wooden pole, both buckets spilling over, but she didn’t seem to care. She raised her arm and waved. “Hello! Good morning!” She then scurried over to Ryu and introduced herself. “I’m Ling Yi.” Then she took a deep bow. “Thank you for saving us yesterday!” She scurried back over to Tazuki and pulled him over, his own pole dropping. She murmured to him, “Hurry and thank him!” She pushed him in front of the Ryu.

Tazuki let out a nervous chuckle and then bowed. “Thank you, brave sir, for saving us!” After rapidly bowing multiple times, he backed away to Ling’s side, whispering to her, “Lady Yue Yi’s gonna kill us for dropping the buckets.” Looking at Ling’s bashful expression, his face turned grim with despair. It seemed she didn’t care for the consequences at all.

Amused by their predicament, Ryu smiled. “I’m Ryu.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Sir Ryu!” Ling said. 

Ryu laughed. “I’m afraid I’m not a knight.”

“Oh, but you fought like one! You were so brave going up against that Brown-Fanged Spider Queen!” exclaimed Ying. Then she paused, pressing her finger against her lip. “Too bad you didn’t last long…”

Tazuki whispered again to Ling. “Ling’er, we should get back to the buckets… If Lady Yue Yi shows up…” He gulped.

“Ah, don’t worry! Big Sis isn’t even here right now. She should be in Voruna getting supplies, remember? We should be f—”

“LING MAI YI! TAZUKI MOTO! WHAT THE HELL ARE TWO DOING?!” a young woman’s voice screamed.

The two young NPCs turned around.

On the top steps of the pagoda was a young woman whose light brown hair was tied into a slick ponytail. She seemed to be only a few years younger than Ryu, and she wore a grey robe and cotton shoes to reflect the simplistic style of the school. Her current expression reflected a great and sadistic fury. She jumped into the air, leaping dozens of feet above the two young NPCs below. She bent her knees in the air, and as she was close to landing, she extended her legs forward and planted her feet straight into Tazuki’s face, landing on it. His head plummeted into the stone below. The young lady stood up, one foot still planted on Tazuki’s face. Tazuki mumbled out words, but they were discernable.

“B-B-Big Sis!” Ling Yi stuttered. “Why are you still here?”

Ignoring her every word, the lady raised her hand over Ling Yi’s ear and pinched it, vengefully pulling the earlobe in all directions.

“Ow, ow, ow!” Ling Yi cried. “Okay, okay, stop! I’m sorry!”

The young woman lifted her fingers off Ling Yi’s ear, after which Ling Yi puffed her mouth into a frown.

“If Grandmother catches you two slacking off, I’ll be the one to get into trouble,” the ponytailed woman said. 

Tazuki mumbled again and the young woman’s expression turned demonic. Like batshit-crazy demonic. She squished and rubbed her foot on his face. “And you… Just because you’re Lord Moto’s grandson doesn’t mean I’m going to show you an ounce of mercy. You should have watched Ling-Ling more carefully yesterday.” 

Tazuki spoke, but once again spewed out nonsense. The young woman finally lifted her foot to let him speak.

“Th-thank you, L-Lady Yue Yi…for removing your foot…” he exhaled, lightheaded.

Seeing all of this, Ryu didn’t know what to say. Bewildered and amused, he remained a calm expression.

Finally giving Ryu her attention, Yue Yi humbly straightened herself and bowed gratefully to the player. “I am Yue Yi, and this is my younger sister, Ling.” She then gestured her hand over to the young teenager NPC by her feet. “And this is Tazuki. Please don’t mind either of them.”

“I’m Ryu.” He smiled lightly. “And it’s fine. I’m sure they weren’t looking for any trouble.”

“I’m sorry for yesterday,” Yue Yi said. “On behalf of the Yi family, I’d like to extend our deepest apologies. Thank you for protecting these two.” She bowed once more.

“I’m the one who should be thanking you,” Ryu said. “You healed me.”

“That was all my grandmother’s doing. I was the one who only carried you here,” Yue Yi said.

“Well, thank you then. And your grandmother.”

“There’s no need,” Yue Yi said. “It was the least we could’ve done for you.” 

Now that the formalities had been taken care of, Ryu asked, “If I may ask: Where are we?”

“This is The School of Li Lin,” Yue Yi said. “…Although, I wouldn’t really call it a school, seeing that we have no students besides me and my sister.”

“Is he not a student?” Ryu said, nodding over to Tazuki.

“No. He’s just a regular visitor. He goes back and forth between the school and his home every so often,” said Yue Yi.

“And your grandmother is the teacher, I presume?” Ryu said.

“She is,” nodded Yue Yi. “She’s been its caretaker for almost 60 years.”

“You live here, then?” Ryu asked.

“Yes and no. We live here most of the time, but since we’re originally from the kingdom of Shu, we go back and forth from time-to-time. Just not as often as Tazuki here. He’s from the kingdom of Mu, though.”

Ryu shook his head in understanding. He thought back to his encounter with Galahad.

How many kingdoms did he mention? Eleven, was it? I’m gonna need to get a world map. I still don’t know the geography of this world yet.

“I see,” Ryu said. “Thank you.”

Yue Yi followed the conversation up by saying, “You’ve been unconscious for over a day. You must be hungry. Come, I’ll make you lunch before I go to Voruna.”

Ling Yi jumped up and down. “Dumplings, dumplings!” But she was pushed to the side by her annoyed older sister.

Ryu smiled. He raised his hand to reject the offer. “It’s fine. I’d like to go to Voruna, too. I need to get supplies, as well. Do you think I could join you?”

“Of course,” Yue Yi said, smiling. “There are things that I must do first. In the meantime, feel free to check up on your items in storage. We had Ling and Tazuki carry everything from the cave.”

“You don’t want any of it? I’m sure I can’t take it all,” Ryu said.

“Our family’s well off,” Yue Yi said. “Whatever you don’t keep, you can put it up in the auction house. I’m sure you’ll find a buyer for everything.” She smiled, knowing full well that would probably be the case. She then pulled up Tazuki’s collar, lifting him up, and pulled her little sister to her side. “These two will show you to our storage.” She then smiled an innocent smile, but it was also menacing. “And if they happen to steal or take anything—because stealing will put shame on our name, and those who stain the Yi family name will surely be punished—just let me know and I can take care of it.” The two young NPCs gulped as she said this.

Amused, Ryu chuckled. “Alright.”

“Well! I guess that takes care of that, then,” Yue Yi said. “I’ll come over and get you when I’ve gotten everything I need.”

Ryu nodded.

Yue Yi let go of Tazuki’s collar, dropping him on the ground. She left the group, walking around and beyond the left side of the pagoda. Tazuki dizzily got himself up.

Ling Yi took his hand. “Come! Follow me!”

“Ling’er, we should clean up the mess first,” Tazuki said. “If Madame Yi sees it, she’ll—”

“It’s fine! I’m sure one of the servants will pick it up,” said Ling Yi. She skipped in the direction where Ryu came from, dragging Tazuki’s arm behind her.

Ling Yi and Tazuki brought Ryu to a building similarly styled to his own residence. It was just around the corner of where he woke up, too. The young girl pushed open the double-doored entrance. As soon as the doors swung open, Ryu could see a hoard of items filling up his entire view. The room was completely filled. There were several chests and tables filled and stacked with an array of items. All the space in between was filled with anything that didn’t fit in the chests or on the table.

Ling Yi walked up, putting fisted hands on her hips. Confidently, she said, “This is everything that those goblins had.” She then pointed over to a large table by the right. “And over there is the loot from the Brown-Fanged Spider Queen.” Then pointing to a smaller table next to that, she said, “And right over there is your bag.”

Ryu’s face twitched, mortified by the amount of loot.

How the hell am I supposed to carry all of this to the auction house…?

Ling Yi giggled at Ryu’s expression. “Don’t worry. We have interspatial rings. You can use them to transport your items to Voruna’s auction house.”

Ryu walked over to one of the tables. He took a plain-looking dagger and Identified it.

Copper Dagger
Level Requirement: 1

Agility: +1

Durability: 6/6
Weight: 0.5 lbs
Quality: Poor
Implicit Rarity: Common
Explicit Rarity (Hidden): Brown
This item is True-Identified.

After seeing the meagerness of the item, Ryu quickly scanned the visible items across the room.

Looks like most of this is probably trash.

Ling Yi walked up to him. “Is there a problem, Ryu? If you need an Appraiser to Identify these items, I can tell one of the servants to go get Master Toshi. He’ll Identify them for you.”

“It’s alright,” Ryu said. “I can Identify items, too.”

Both Ling Yi and Tazuki appeared shocked. “Really?!” Ling Yi spouted.

Ryu nodded.

“Only Appraisers can Identify items,” Tazuki said. “And usually they’re very old people. Some are hundreds or even thousands of years old. They charge per Identification, though, but I think Master Toshi wouldn’t mind in this case.”

Curious, Ling Yi asked, “What Level are you?”

Ryu paused for a second before answering. “I’m Level 2.”

Both the NPCs’ jaws dropped, their eyes widened. 

Tazuki shook his head vigorously, coming back to his senses. “Master Toshi has Scrolls of True Identification. They’re pretty expensive, but I think he could spare you one. True-Identified equipment items are much, much more valuable.”

“How so?” said Ryu.

“Because some crafting and forging materials—usually the rare ones—can only be used with True-Identified items.”

Ling Yi smiled broadly. “Tazuki comes from one of the greatest forging clans in the Eleven Kingdoms. He knows his stuff.”

Hearing the word “forging” sparked intrigue in Ryu. It also made him remember that his sword had broken during his miniboss encounter. Speaking of which, where washis sword?

Curious, he asked the two, “Do you remember bringing back my sword? It broke during my fight with the spider.”

“Oh, that old thing. Yeah,” Tazuki said. “It’s outside in the disposable bin. It’s going to get melted.” He paused. “Would you like the melt returned to you? You can trade it in for probably a few copper coins. Although, compared to all this, that’s nothing.”

“It has an innate ability,” said Ryu. “I was wondering if reforging it would preserve the ability.”

Tazuki went bonkers after hearing what Ryu said. “An innate ability?! Serious? That thing?!”

Ling Yi giggled. “You should go retrieve ‘that thing’ then, shouldn’t you, Tazuki?”

Tazuki scurried away. Thirty seconds later, he returned with several sword shards in his arms. He wiped the junk off one of the tables and placed the sword pieces on it. He sighed, relieved that he could’ve potentially been the destroyer of a valuable item. Being the son of forgers, he would have brought shame to the Moto clan.

“Yes, you can keep an item’s ability,” he said. “So long as you have the hilt of the sword, along with at least a third of the original material. After that, you’ll preserve the ability, even after reforging or upgrading the item. I don’t have the necessary tools or skills to reforge your sword, though. But all the older men in my family do.”

“But we’re not going to the Moto estate, Tazuki!” Ling Yi exclaimed.

Addressing Ryu, Tazuki said, “If you’d like, you can come back with me to my family’s estate. We can reforge your sword there. After you get back from Voruna, of course.”

“I must stay here for my training, though. Do you think you can wait until I’m done? It may be several days.”

Tazuki nodded. “Of course.”

Ling Yi budged into the conversation. “Ryu, you’re going to be a student here?”

Ryu nodded. 

Tazuki’s face turned grim. “H-H-Here? The School of Li Lin? Are you sure?” He gulped.

“I am,” Ryu said.

“You did hear earlier that Madame Yi is the head of the school, yes?” Tazuki said, stuttering.

“I did,” said Ryu. He paused briefly because the mood of the atmosphere had suddenly changed. “Is there a problem?”

Both of the two young NPCs began scratching their heads, laughing nervously.

“It’s nothing. Don’t worry… Yeah… …. … Don’t worry.” Tazuki said that with a mindless look on his face as if terrible memories had just resurfaced.

A male servant entered the room from behind and addressed Ling Yi. “Lady Yue Yi ordered me to bring these to you.” He handed over several rings to the young NPC.

“Since you can Identify items, we’ll leave you alone for a bit,” Ling Yi said, smiling. “Here are interspatial rings so that you can take your items to the auction house.” She placed the rings next to the sword shards. She then nudged Tazuki, and then both of them left the room, closing the door behind them.

Ryu sighed. He turned over to the heaps of items. Aloud, he muttered, “I’ve got a lot of work cut out for me.”

Ryu spent the next two hours Identifying all the items, most of which were the most basic items. However, there were a few items that piqued his interest: a beachball-sized ball of spider silk; two ornate, curved twin daggers—one with a crimson red edge and the other whose edge was a pale blue—and a brilliant, metallic spear with a shaft entirely engraved. Its head also seemed to be made of a completely different material. He couldn’t Identify the set of daggers or the spear, but he did manage to Identify the spider silk.

Pure Weaver Spider’s Silk Ball
This ball of silk consists of silk made by a Pure Weaver Spider

Pure Weaver Silk is the lightest of all spider silk. Not only does it have incredible resilience and resistance but it also regenerates and repairs itself.

Weight: 0.0001 lbs
Quality: Perfect
Explicit Rarity: Super Rare
Implicit Rarity (Hidden): White

This must’ve been from the hoards of loot that the goblins were taking… Not only that but the Quality…

It was only until yesterday that he’d found an item above ‘Poor’ Quality; the plums had been the only items he’d found that weren’t ‘Poor.’ Now, he’d found a Perfect Quality item. It wasn’t an equipment item, but he couldn’t complain. He just didn’t know what to do with it.

A knock came at the door. The doors opened, and Yue Yi’s head peaked in. “Are you ready?”

Ryu nodded. “Let me just get my bag.”

“Alright. I’ll be right outside.”

Ryu grabbed his satchel and headed out. The chests and tables had all been cleared; all 268 items in the storage room had been put into the interspatial rings—minus the spider silk and unidentified daggers and spear, which he had placed into his own interspatial ring. 

Outside, he found Yue Yi, Ling Yi, and Tazuki all waiting for him.

Ryu spoke to Yue Yi who was still dressed the same. “You didn’t change?”

“There’s no need.” Yue Yi smiled. “Besides, students of Li Lin learn to appreciate the simple things in life.” She hinted that she knew he would be a student.

Ryu could only help but smile a little. He was anxious, both in the excited sense and the terrified sense.

“Come. We’ll show you the portal gate,” Yue Yi said.

Ryu gestured his arm, telling them to show the way. They left with Yue Yi leading the group.

Yue Yi brought them across the courtyard and beyond the back side of the pagoda. They crossed a red, wooden bridge over a silent stream. There was a larger courtyard across with just a single residence behind. Ryu could see to his left a gigantic but gentle waterfall flowing down the mountainside. In the pond, he saw goldfish gliding about in the water. Further away, on a small hill, he saw a doorless, white, round gate. Next to it was a large stone that was engraved with strange symbols.

Ling Yi pointed up to the hill. “That’s the Inner Gate of Li Lin. It’s a special portal gate that takes you to the Outer Gate of Li Lin, which is an invisible portal gate right by the entrance of Plum Tree Forest. Both portal gates are only one-way ports, though, so you have to reactivate the Stone of Li Lin everytime you go back and forth. Only my grandmother and Yue know how to activate the Gates.”

Yue Yi stopped before going up the hill. There was a short, slightly hunched elderly woman already on top of it.  She was dressed just as simply as Yue Yi. Only, her robes were white. Her back was turned to the group.

Yue Yi made a fist, placing a palm over it. She lowered her head. Respectfully, she addressed the figure above. “Grandmother.”

The elderly woman didn’t respond, and she didn’t turn around either.

Yue Yi turned her head to the group. “It seems Grandmother is agitated.”

Both Tazuki and Ling Yi’s facial expressions turned into worried looks. 

“A-Agitated, you say?” Tazuki said, softly. “Maybe we should leave, Ling’er.”

Tazuki tried sneaking away, but Yue Yi pulled his ear before he could slip away. He struggled to get free, but he just couldn’t get free of her hold.

Suddenly, the elderly woman spoke, her voice hoarse. “Approach. All of you.” When she spoke, subtle, but sharp echoes rang through the air. The birds stopped chirping. Even the wind seemed like it had stopped.

This old woman… She’s a monster.

Ryu tried to Recognize her, but he received the following message:

Your Recognize skill is not at the requisite level to Recognize such a person.

Please try again when you have raised your Recognize skill.

Ryu’s throat suddenly became dry. He gulped, but the dryness didn’t go away.

The group approached the old woman as they were told. They didn’t speak when they got up to her. They dared not to.

After a moment, the old woman spoke again. “Boy,” she said, addressing Ryu. “I heard you stole something from the Brown Pass Expedition. Is that true?”

“No,” Ryu said. “I did not steal anything. It was given to me.”

“Hoh? Is that so?” the old woman remarked. She finally turned around, setting her condescending eyes onto the player.

“It is,” Ryu said plainly.

“Show me,” the elder said.

Ryu calmly took out the large egg-shaped stone out of his interspatial ring and held it out.

The elder’s eyes shifted over to the object. She took not even two seconds looking at it before scoffing and turning her head back forward. “And you said that was given to you? By who?”

“A dying elk,” said Ryu.

“And do you know what that is? In your hand?” the old woman said.

“Most likely an egg,” Ryu said.

The old woman smiled, still retaining her condescending look. “Hmmph. Looks like Bors and that jerk were right this time. You’re smart. At least…smarter than those Moratian army brats.” She spit in the air. “Couldn’t even tell an egg from a stone. How useless.”

“Do you want it?” said Ryu.

“There’s no reason for me to have it. It was given to you by another creature. And by a different species from that egg, at that. That alone should tell you how significant your having it is.” She placed her hand on the large engraved stone. “Come. We’re going to Voruna.”

The symbols of the stone lit up and a bright white portal appeared. The old woman walked through, the rest of the group following. Upon exiting the portal, Ryu found himself literally just a few dozen steps from the entrance of Plum Tree Forest (on Plum Tree Forest’s side, of course). A round, white gate was behind him, but it quickly vanished after the group came out of the portal. 

Ryu looked to his side, seeing a large stone, similar to the one the old woman just activated. He had completely overlooked it when he first entered this place, but he now understood what it was.

To think that it would be right by the forest entrance.

The group walked straight ahead, Yue Yi leading the way. The elder stayed behind for a bit to make sure the portal was invisible and the stone was active.

Upon exiting Plum Treet Forest, Ryu found himself back at the southern crossroads. He took less than ten steps before arrows were shot at his feet.

“Stop right where you are!” someone yelled. “Move and we will shoot you.”

Out of the forest appeared Guinevere, Percival right behind her.

“I suggest you hand over the stone relic now, traveler,” said Percival, drawing out his sword. “Before this gets out of hand.”

Ryu, Tazuki, Ling Yi, and Yue Yi all stood, back’s against each other. They each got into a defensive battle stance. They were ready to get into a brawl if need but the scene was abruptly interrupted by an angry woman’s voice.

“Who dares to threaten my granddaughters?” said an old woman’s voice. The elder appeared from out of the forest, her hands casually behind her back.

“Get out of here, you old hag, or you’ll get hurt!” said a random soldier.

The elder stopped, and turned her head to the soldier who spoke. Her facial expression was demonic. “What did you say, brat?”

Percival was about to interrupt, but Guinvere stopped him. Guinevere shook her head, softly telling him, “No.”

Seeing this, Percival understood exactly what the situation was, and so he sheathed his sword. He coughed. Sweat started rolling down the side of his face.

The elder shrugged off the first offensive remark and continued on her way, casually walking before and past the soldiers.

“I said ‘Stop!” Has your age deteriorated your hearing, old woman?” said the random soldier from before.

“Fool!” Percival said. “Are you blind or just an idiot? Anyone who serves in the Moratian army should know just who that is!”

Suddenly being yelled at by the second-in-command, the random soldier was taken aback. He was confused.

Percival continued, a serious look on his face. “That is Madame Gao Yi.”

Hearing his words, all the other soldiers stopped breathing for just a second. Their hearts skipped a few beats, too. They’d made a terrible mistake.

“M-M-Madame Gao Yi, the ambassador of the Grey Kingdom?!” shouted one of the soldiers. 

“Why is one of the Ten Grandmasters here in the Brown Forest?!” another soldier said.

Among the commotion, only Guinevere and Percival remained calm. But underneath their composure, they were deathly terrified.

Guinevere kneeled down. Percival instantly did the same.

“Please, forgive us, Madame Yi,” Guinevere said. “If you must lash out, please do so on me. Don’t take it out on my soldiers. They didn’t know.”

Madame Yi stopped in her tracks but didn’t bother to turn her head to Guinevere. “Get up. A Knight of the Round Table shouldn’t be kneeling like that. Lance would be embarrassed if he saw you like that. Your father, especially, if he were still alive.”

Guinevere stood back up. She couldn’t do anything but hold her head down. Percival stood up also but was too fear-stricken to speak.

“You intended to trade the relic for Tristan, didn’t you?” Madame Yi. “That’s why the Round Table met.”

Guinevere said nothing. She looked down at the ground with a blank expression.

“Lift your head up, child,” Madame Yi. “Tristan is a strong fighter. One of the strongest Moratia has ever seen. He’ll do his best to stay alive, I’m sure. In the meantime, you need to get stronger for when the day he is to be saved.” The corner of her eyes shifted to Ryu. “As for the matter of the relic, you don’t need to worry about that anymore. I’ll speak to Viscount Aaron about that matter when I get to Voruna. Take your men and go home.” She directed her attention to Yue Yi. “Yue, open the portal.”

Yue Yi walked forward, unraveling a green portal scroll. A brilliant green portal appeared before everyone.

“I’ll be going ahead, Grandmother,” Yue Yi said.

Madame Yi nodded in agreement, and when she did so, both Tazuki and Ling Yi followed behind. Before Madame Yi stepped into the portal, she gave the shortest pep talk to the group of soldiers. She turned her head back to the soldiers, her eyes beaming. “Oh, and if any of you dare threaten my granddaughters again…I’ll kill you on the spot. All of you.”

When she said that, the air turned cold. Birds nesting in the nearby trees fluttered and fled. All of the soldiers gulped simultaneously.

Madame Yi smirked as she went in the portal, knowing her pep talk worked.

Ryu calmly walked through the crowd of soldiers, his head straight, but the corner of his eyes fixed on Guinevere. Her head was still held down when he was walking, but then she looked up and their eyes met. She had the same eyes Ryu (George) had just a few weeks ago. He didn’t stop or say anything and continued forward. When he got to the portal, he stopped and looked back at Guinevere one more time. Only this time, her eyes were different. In that brief moment, they shared an understood message: “We will see each other again.”

Ryu turned his head and proceeded through the green light.

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