Soaring Cloud Continent

 Xiaolian clutches on with all her might as the Beast begins his flight up from the abyss. But didn’t Wang Li Jie say she should be feeling intense heat as the qi started flowing through her meridians? Since the Beast waved his wing over her she has felt her temperature to be quite nice.

     Well, no matter if I saved the Beast from that lonely life its fine if I don’t breakthrough. Let’s just hope we don’t die as we make our escape. Who could have been so cruel as to lock him in this abyss filled with darkness.

     She sings her favorite song into the Beast’s ear, it is a light hearted song about finding true love. Right now she is in a hopeful mood,this song’s melody is sweet and lively. The Beast hearing the song in his ear flies faster, the dark winds are whipping her around but she continues to grip tightly without opening her eyes.

     Wang Li Jie is monitoring her progress by watching her,in the jade gazebo but can’t see what is going on unless he enters her mind. He is resisting the urge because she appears not to be in any danger, on the contrary she is not even sweating. She has been in the abyss for some time, she should be experiencing some discomfort from the heat of the qi surging. It’s very strange.

     As they fly up the Beast is losing feathers along the way, they are coming off him as though he is going through some sort of transformation. Xiaolian can feel feathers hitting her face, like being slapped it is becoming painful. But she dare not open her eyes, the thought of becoming blind keeps them tightly shut.

     The Beast is starting to wonder if nothing will be left of him but bare bones if this continues, but he made his decision, he needs to keep going, there is no turning back now. He can see the burning light he remembers from when he was first tossed into the abyss, That is why he cautioned the girl about her eyes, the burning sensation is intense but his red eyes seem to be absorbing the light.

     He can see the entrance, am  I really going to be free? He only has one wing left the other has disintegrated its difficult to maintain balance, Well even if I have only moments to live when I reach the outside world, my endless misery will be over.

     Xiaolian can feel there is something wrong she only hears flapping noises coming from the right side. Did something happen to his wing.The temptation to open her eyes is getting stronger but she mustn’t! “Beast are you all right? She softly whispers in his ear.

     “Keep singing”

     She begins another song that is soft and soothing. Her voice is tired from the high notes and she is extremely thirsty. It seems as if they have been flying for a very long time, her arms are tired from holding on she feels her strength draining from herself. She can feel her meridians are expanding as if they could explode. Her heart is beginning to pound erratically.

     In the gazebo Xiaolian takes her hands and clasps them over her heart as Wang Li Jie reminded her to do, maybe her heart will stop pounding so fiercely.

     Suddenly a blast of fresh clean air hits Xiaolian’s cheeks, she can feel the suns rays on her body. They must be out of the abyss, but the beast hasn’t said to open her eyes so she keeps them tightly shut.

     Wang Li Jie looks at Xiaolian’s face and she is smiling, he has never seen anyone smile going through these trials. What is going on.

     The Beast has spent all his energy and collapses onto a cloud. Before he passes out he scans his decomposing body, well in my last moments of life I saw the sun again and breathed fresh air. He closes his eyes, without much energy he weakly says, “You can open your eyes. Climb off what’s left of me. ”

     She opens her eyes and looks at the beast who has lost most of his body, she hugs onto his mutilated body and says “I am so sorry!”  Tears clouding her vision she strokes his head trying to comfort him, he looks as if he is in dire pain.

     While her tears fall onto this strange beast she is overwhelmed by grief for having him take her out of the abyss. While her tears are falling on him a bright light surrounds them. She can hear mumbled voices talking but she can’t see anything.

     She hears an old man’s voice, “Who is she?”

     “I have no idea”, a younger man’s voice she suspects.

    “Why is she with my son?” says the same old man.

     Who are they talking about Xiaolian is thinking. Should I say something?

     “How could he have completed his punishment?” She can hear sarcasm in this voice.

     “Toss the girl off the cloud and bring my son to me”

     Wait she thinks.. me? Tossed off cloud? I can’t fly!

     Xiaolian jumps up and charges forward through the light her hair flying feathers still stuck in it. She looks quite unruly, her face seems to have been scratched by something, it has unsightly red marks down the cheek. Three old white haired men are surprised by her sudden movement but wave their hands to knock her away.

     She lands in the arms of a young feminine looking man who drops her quickly to the ground. “Get off me” he snarls while brushing some oily feathers from his white  sleeve.

     “You can’t throw me off this cloud! I will die! Why do you want to? I’ve done nothing wrong.”

     Pffft..the feminine man looks at her with a contemptuous look. “Girl you have encroached on sacred ground..the penalty is to be tossed down to earth from where you came.. If you die..well you die..” he begins to laugh.

     “Take care of her”, the old man points to the disgusted young man, ‘Now!”

    The old man demands of two young men dressed in identical light blue robes. “Why haven’t you lifted my son yet!” 

     Xiaolian is beginning to sweat should I call for Wang Li Jie, no not yet.

     The nasty young man with the sharp tongue is dragging her away kicking, she tries to wiggle out of his hands but she is too weak.“WAIT! She turns her head, screams at the old man, he obviously was in charge. “Don’t I get a trial or something? I stumbled here by accident it wasn’t my intention to come to your sacred place! I just rode here with the Beast!”

     The old man hears beast, he throws his arm up and she arrives in front of him.

     “What Beast, where is it?”

     She sees people crowded around where she landed and says, “Over there where the crowd is”

    The old man now thinks she is trying to buy time, there is no beast over there only his son.

     “He is almost dead I fear but he is right over there. I don’t think he can answer but you can at least see there is a beast there. So my story would make sense.”

     “Young lady accept the god’s punishment and go peacefully to reincarnate!” He strokes his long silver beard looking at his unruly girl. It has been sometime since someone dared come onto this ritual cloud.

     Taking the opportunity he is deep in thought Xiaolian runs over and pushes through the crowd of white robed men and women.  She gasps, there is no remnants of a beast only a handsome young man, a robe tossed on him to cover his nakedness. Hair the color of golden wheat and a face of a peerless beauty. His eyes are closed and he appears unconscious.

     She starts to bend over to examine him more carefully and the snarly young man has already arrived at her side yanking her up. “You can’t touch the Crown Prince!”

     “What did you do with the Beasts remains!” Xiaolian is starting to panic, maybe its time to call Wang Li Jie. The manual said nothing of these types of scenarios. She wanted to complete the Soaring Sky Stage without his help so she could have pride in herself.

    The crowd is looking at her with disgust and muttering insults. “Wench stop lying, admit your wrongdoing so you can reincarnate well” 

     Just as Xiaolian is about to summon Wang Li Jie, a hand reaches up from the ground,with little strength grabs her leg and in a hoarse voice says, “Don’t touch the girl, she is mine.”

     She looks down at a pair of amber eyes, the long black eyelashes fluttering while he is trying to stay awake.

     Who is he? Xiaolian doesn’t care, she thinks his words probably just saved her.

     The old man comes through the crowd as he hears these words from his son.

    “Why haven’t you seen to the Crown Prince’s injuries yet? I will banish all of you gawking here if he isn’t in the imperial physicians before I blink!”

     He looks at the feminine man standing there glaring , “Take her to the Storm Cloud Courtyard, have her guarded I will deal with her later.”

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