Over a chessboard Vincent and Father were studying their pieces. Father mentally lamenting the predicament his bishop was in. The rattling beat of the pipes began picking up. And Vincent was startled by a sudden sensation, fear and confusion and bewilderment. With it was a powerful sensation of emotions that were being reigned in.. and power. Something was powerful and bright. “I must go Father, strangers have appeared in one of the tunnels.. “
“What?” Father looked up, and nods seeing Vincent all but leap from the table and grab his cloak. Swinging the heavy material about his shoulders and settling it into place.
“There was no word from the Sentries, but several in the lower tunnels have seen a strange man and woman walking around the tunnels, near Chinatown. Perhaps they are lost.”
“We are going to have to have a word with the Sentries to see how these people got by them. “ Father frowns, and then moves to the pipes to signal an all quiet.”
A tiny Japanese woman with sunglasses, all dressed in dark red looks around at the tunnels, noting the benches, behind the dark lenses there is a glow on the soft porcelain face. Next to her is a taller Chinese man all dressed in white, mandarin style clothing, traditional, his hair starting to be touched with silver and in a neat thin braid. “Um.. Daddy, I do not think we are in California any more.. These are not our tunnels.” The older man frowns and crosses his arms. “I am beginning to think you are right. I thought sure I had the nei tan right this time.”
“Well if it’s any consolation. I think we haven’t gone too far back.. But I think we are in the wrong location.” She pauses as her father’s arm moves in front of her, and he tilts his head listening.
“The metal.. It’s being struck. There are people here.. They know we are here.” He frowns and both move to protect each other.
“Okay. Well we can stay here in the middle of this tunnel or we can try to make our way up top. Can the pipe tell you anything else?” Her doll like face tilts and turns watching the areas of the tunnels calmly assessing. He lowers his head and begins making soft clanging sounds. Both were startled as suddenly the tunnel was plunged into darkness
The young woman’s sunglasses were glowing from behind those lenses. “Well.. Hell. “
The man huff’s slightly and then moves.. “The pipe says that it goes through the rock and is exposed in several places, if we go left we will eventually meet it again. “ Both turn to go left.
“Can you light the way?” His voice is a bit gruff, as he nearly treads on the smaller woman’s feet. She shrugs slightly and replies softly.
“I can but it’d be noticable. If I can’t find any wood. “
Vincent finally gets close and watches the woman pick up a scrap of wood in the darkness. Even he had some problems.. And yet her face was lit with a glow somehow. And then he smelled no match, no lighter.. And the stick was burning brightly. “All right Da.. “ Both turn their heads as if they sensed him.
The man stepped in front of the tiny woman protectively. “Who are you?” Vincent ducks back at those silvery eyes turned his way. The man takes a step closer. “Who are you?” Smaller than Vincent, he could only be about five foot eight, dressed in bright white silk that moves with him, his stance is taller, straight and authoritative. He carries not taste of fear in this, vincent can feel it.. The lack of it is astounding, and he is struck silent by the surprise that these people are. The tinier woman.. She could not be his daughter, the clear indication of her classical Japanese features definitely relays that.
“Da.. erm. Wah perhaps he is frightened of us. Let me try. “ The man softly snorts, if Vincent had not have had heightened senses perhaps he would not have heard it. But He moves slightly and the little woman moves forward, her red silk cheongsam moving with catching the light that seems to emanate from her face. Here he can sense the quick and rolling emotions, a fiery anger, a deep passion, emotions that could almost equal his dark Other’s emotions, but no darkness was felt from either one of them. She was tiny, maybe only five foot tall, with tiny slippers on her feet matching her outfit. He almost wanted to chuckle that she thought that she could frighten him. But her voice reached out again, gentle as if soothing someone traumatized.
“It’s all right. We won’t hurt you. My name is Kawanno. What are you doing here? Are you lost too? “ Her hands stretch out and he can see that they have no weapons in her hands, but she too walked with authority, as if she were used to having other people follow her. She wasn’t afraid of his taller cloaked form either. “Can you speak? Then she gentle followed it up with chinese, and finally that snaps him back to the matter at hand.”
“I can speak, what are you doing here?”
Kawanno grins and looks back at her father, who simply rolls his eyes and crosses his arms, a rather grumpy expression on his face. His voice carries the touch of grumpiness with it. “Who are you then? Why are you watching us?” Vincent moves a bit more to avoid them as they step closer again..
“.. I am called Vincent, this is my home. Why are you here?”
Aha, hesitation. The woman glances at her father, and they nearly seem to communicate. “We came here by accident, we lost our way.” Wah’s voice is still a touch irritable, but a little uncertain. She gives a slight cough, and a wave of amusement emanates from her. Her head turns back to glance at Wah, and he sees flames where her eyes should be, and he stares for a moment.
“Kawanno, why do you not have eyes. “ Quick as a flash her eyes close.. And the light is banked behind Human like flesh. And quickly Wah moves back in front of her, his eyes silver in the dark, and his fist raised defensively. No fear, but a wave of protectiveness, and then astonishment as Wah must be able to see Vincent’s features now. Better than average eyesight, of course he’s almost in range of Vincent’s arms. He says something that makes Kawano whip her head around and open her eyes again, Vincent begins to back away.
“I didn’t mean to frighten you.” Ironic, but wait they do not have any fear of him, He can feel surprise, astonishment, confusion, and is that a sense of resignation? Yes Wah is resigned, not afraid. He cannot quite understand the conversation they are having, both of them having slipped into what he thinks is a dialect of Chinese. And then they both step back and bow politely to him.
Wah bows. “Vincent, son of the Western Emerald Court, I am Regent Wah, of the temple of a thousand prayers, and my daughter Kawanno, warrior of the temple of the Thousand prayers, wife of General Kawanno of the Emerald Mother Court wish to speak to your Regent. “ Both bow, taking their eyes off him as if they trusted him. Still no fear.
“You are not afraid of me? You are not running from me.. Or trying to defend yourself? “ He cannot hide the puzzlement in his voice, and they glance to each other.
“Vincent, why would we be afraid of you? I know our kind isn’t very, prominent in the Western world. But you have never seen one of us in Chinatown? Why else would you greet us in your war form?” Wah seems a little confused, and he moves forward again. Kawanno tilts her head and her hands make a gesture.. And then a ball of light floats in the air.. And illuminates the tunnel.
“Sorry Regent, but enough with the pussyfooting in the dark.. Sorry VIncent, no pun intended. “ She gives a wry grin, and then studies Vincent’s clothing, a bit puzzled. “Why do you dress so.. Differently.” Wah makes a chiding sound and a soft huff of a chuckle. “Many Pardons Son of the Emerald Court, that was very rude, the customs of your court is not for this small shen to question.”
“Shen? Emerald court, I am afraid I do not understand.”
Kawanno frowns, and then touches her father’s arm. “He might be a lost child of the Western court Daddy, er..Regent. He may not know. “
A irritated snort followed by a paternal wave of protectiveness. “Very careless of the Gaijin Furballs to lose their children. “
“I was lost too, until you found me Daddy. “ Wah’s grumpy expression melts into one that is neutrally fond of his child and he reaches and ruffles her carefully braided and pinned hair. “Daddy, quit that.. He’s still in front of us.”
As confused as he was, Vincent could not help but laugh softly.