1 - Cloud in Flames Edit
The empress travels to Brocade City to prepare an offering for the gods, but is ambushed along the way. General Yue and her soldiers fight all night, but are taken by surprise and are nearly wiped out, when a mysterious army enters the battle...
(The Snowfall Hills outside Brocade City)
(Blood flows from her shattered wound, dripping over her armor. The sword in her hands grows heavier. Yue Qianshuang, fighting off exhaustion, pulls the rope and looks all over.)
(Flames cast shadows against the city walls, as the bloodshed rages on outside Brocade City. There is no retreat.)
- Zhu Ruosheng: I was careless. I never thought Zhu Yuxian would be able to hide such an elite force in the Cloud Empire hinterlands.
- Yue Qianshuang: The enemy clearly prepared for this. Damn...Frost Camp is too far from Cloud City to send reinforcements. Our forces are too few, we can hardly breathe under this siege.
(Faced with such a situation, Yue Qianshuang squares her brow, her heart set.)
- Yue Qianshuang: Musika! Pull out your troops and prepare to shut the gates!
- Zhu Ruosheng: We can't! They're exhausting our troops, but they have yet to reach the city walls! What will happen to you if we shut the gates?
- Yue Qianshuang: No, the situation is growing grave. They are purposefully drawing the fight out; I fear they're planning something else.
- Yue Qianshuang: When that moment comes, none can surrender. Even if we die fighting, we cannot fail! The imperial sacrifice must continue as scheduled!
(Upon seeing Yue Qianshuang faint from blood loss but determined to make her final stand, Musika's heart nearly breaks in two.)
- Zhu Ruosheng: There's...no need to fight like this anymore. Cloud Capital's message says that if we break through to the west, everything will be okay!
(The main force withdraws into Brocade City's walls, leaving only Yue Qianshuang and a handful of her elite soldiers outside to fend off their attackers with their lives.)
(At this time, a ray of white light rips through the night, and a wall of pure flame erupts from the ground where it lands.)
- Bodyguard: Oh no! They're using flaming arrows!
(Yue Qianshuang looks back at each and every bloodstreaked face behind her. Her elite soldiers are at their limits, their eyes full of despair.)
(A long, whistle sounds in the night. Yue Qianshuang turns her horse around and, without a moment's hesitation charges at the wall of fire.)
(She flings her sword, dispatching the archer coordinating the enemy's attacks and breaking their ranks.)
(Suddenly, she pauses as her heart skips a beat.)
(She falls off her horse as a chain from unknown origin flies out and wraps around her, binding her straight as an arrow.)
(Flames streak through the night as countless arrows fall from the sky, sinking into the ground, the soldiers' breastplates, and even Yue Qianshuang's helmet.)
- Bodyguard: General!!!
(Pain shoots through her body from the arrow and the chains that bind her. Yue Qianshuang can no longer struggle, but refuses to allow her troops to die with her.)
- Yue Qianshuang: As General, I order you all to break to the west! Now!
(The sound of clashing swords, shouting men, horns and hooves block everything out. Ignoring orders, her troops gather into a tight formation, preparing for a final bloody charge.)
(In the distance, a strange marching sound is heard. Unlike horses, however, it rumbles and booms like heavy machinery, threatening to shatter the very ground it moves upon.)
- Yue Qianshuang: Who could it be...at this time...
(Blood obscuring her vision, Yue Qianshuang's mind falls into deep unconsciousness.)
- Soldier A: No! It's Clan Ocean's mechanized forces!
- Soldier B: They can't be the enemy's reinforcements, right? If they stir up trouble here, is it possible for things to change in our favor?
(A mechanical serpent, controlled by Ming Shuiyuan, shoots towards Yue Qianshuang. It sweeps away the enemies around her with a swing of its tail, without so much as a struggle.)
(The giant mechanical snake comes to a halt, then slithers over Yue Qianshuang's unconscious body.)
(Breaking the chains that bind her in the blink of an eye, it carries Yue Qianshuang away from the battle.)
- Ming Shuiyuan: Qianshuang...
(Seeing Yue Qianshuang's unconscious, armor-clad body, Ming Shuiyuan turns away and faces her enemies, as the Lin Jia serpent screeches at the attacking army.)
(Yue Qianshuang's troops realize in an instant that with the power of Clan Ocean's mechanized army, the tables can finally turn in their favor.)
- Soldier A: Ming Shuiyuan, no, General Ming Shuiyuan. Was something holding her up before?
- Soldier B: If she's really here to establish herself in the southern border...never mind that, we need to tend to the general!
(Their whispers were only met by the ground-trembling march of the mechs. Their march, tremulous and uniform, was accompanied by surging clouds of black smoke.)
(Ming Shuiyuan's silhouette slowly vanishes into the distance. The ash and dust settles lightly on her clothes before gently falling to the ground.)
2 - Jinlin's Change Edit
A storm of chaos envelops Brocade City. Fu Su enters the palace in secret and bestows the empress with his own blood to complete the ceremony. Truth and lies intermingle and blur...
(Jinlin Palace, Brocade City)
(The sound of metal slashing, of wounded howling, of frenzied screaming, bears semblance to a bloody, bestial night.)
(The little empress is unable to sleep, her hands covered in cold sweat.)
- Palace Maid: There's no need to fear, General Yue Qianshuang is personally leading the fight! Everything will be okay!
- Palace Maid: And...that recent message said Bai Yongxi was almost here.
(The empress pokes her face out from under her blanket, unable to stem the flow of tears from her eyes.)
- Cloud Empress: But...Bai Yongxi pressured me over and over again about this ceremony...I'm afraid I might disappoint him.
- Cloud Empress: Are they still fighting?
- Palace Maid: I will go ask about the situation for you.
(The room returns to a deathly silence after the palace maid leaves. Just the thought of Bai Yongxi's disappointed face makes the Cloud Empress weep and sniffle incessantly.)
(Just then, the window flings open, letting in a savage wind. A black figure enters; by the light of the lanterns inside, his body is seen covered in fresh blood.)
(Frightened, the empress hides her trembling self underneath her blanket.)
- ???: Your highness, it's me.
(Hearing the familiar voice, a head pokes out of the blanket. The empress' look of horror changes to one of surprise.)
- Cloud Empress: You?
- Cloud Empress: It's you! What happened to you? Why are you covered in blood?
(Fu Su lightly puts down his sword, his long bangs covering his eyes. He lets out a quiet sigh, and remains silent.)
(The empress runs hurriedly to Fu Su's side, tugging on his hand.)
- Cloud Empress: Are you hurt? Do you need me to help treat your wounds?
- Fu Su: My wounds are not worthy of your concern, your highness. Now listen, I have something very important to tell you.
(Fu Su kneels down to look at the empress eye to eye, stroking her soft, little face with a blood-stained finger.)
- Cloud Empress: Um...what is it?
- Fu Su: Your highness...the situation outside is chaotic, and it's all because our enemy wants to steal a certain something.
- Cloud Empress: Ah, so what should we do?
- Fu Su: Dawn is coming. In a few moments, you must stand on the round platform in the great hall and recite the words Bai Yongxi taught you. You remember, right?
- Cloud Empress: I-I'm not afraid! I remember each word perfectly!
- Fu Su: Good. Do not panic, even if you see something unimaginable. General Yue Qianshuang will win in the end, and the Cloud Empire will be restored to its former glory.
(The Cloud Empire has been fighting on all sides for months. Though Bai Yongxi never spoke to her about it, his worried expression left a deep impression on the empress.)
- Cloud Empress: Is it really so simple? Everything will be okay?
(Fu Su nods his head at her.)
- Cloud Empress: Okay, then!
(Straightening herself, the Cloud Empress opens her room door with both hands, her long dress trailing on the floor behind her.)
(All officers sit outside the hall, waiting to hear of the battle's result, only to see the empress walking out with a look of resoluteness unbefitting of her age across her face.)
(Ignoring everyone in her path, she steps onto the platform and begins reciting an incantation.)
- Cloud Empress: I call upon the sun and moon, to rise and fall above the Empire of Cloud, that it may stand tall forevermore.
(Her voice steady, the empress' rosy face suddenly shines with a golden light, as though the stars were flying around her. She seems to see someone, reaching out but grasping nothing.
(A ray of light bursts from the altar, enveloping everything inside. It scatters the darkness, as though it were the very power of heaven and earth.
(At this moment, it seems as though the flames of war licking at the Cloud Empire from all sides have subsided.)
3 - Misty Peaks Edit
The unique location of Misty Peaks in the Cloud Empire allow one to clearly view more than half the country’s land. This strategic location has granted the empire a great military advantage. This night, an uninvited guest appears...
(An unfamiliar smell of wine hangs in the air, the cold mountain winds doing nothing to dissipate the pungent aroma.)
- Soldier A: Do you smell some sort of wine?
- Soldier B: What smell? I think you’re just in the mood to drink!
- ???: Pardon me, I need to ascend the mountain.
(A white-haired man, with a blade in one hand and a gourd full of liquor in the other, appears before them. Neither is sure how long he has been there.)
- Soldier A: Who are you?
- Soldier B: This place is forbidden grounds...commoners are not allowed entry!
- Xiao Zong: Honestly...it’s like refusing to drink, but being forced to anyways as a punishment.
(As he speaks, Xiao Zong takes another deep gulp from his gourd, his other hand on his sword’s hilt.)
(In an instant, the air grows tense and hostile. Xiao Zong, apparently unaware of it, continues at his leisurely pace.)
- Soldier: Die!
(Xiao Zong uses his gourd to deflect the attack and, with a flick of the wrist, takes the blade into his own hand and flings it at the other person.)
(The soldier looks in disbelief as his comrades sword sticks out of his chest. With his dying breath, he attempts to fire a signal flare into the sky to request help.)
- Soldier: Am...bush...
(As soon as the flare shot out, it was struck back into the ground by a sheathed sword. Without ever drawing his blade, Xiao Zong stands over the soldier as he breathes his last.)
- Xiao Zong: It’s nearly time, so please don’t interrupt.
(Xiao Zong sways drunkenly, but the soldiers stationed here are not his enemies. He ascends the steep mountain in a few easy bounds.)
(Standing alone atop Misty Peak, the bitter winds keep him company as he drains his gourd in one gulp.)
(Below the mountaintop, countless fires illuminate the rivers and mountains of the Cloud Empire, giving it the appearance of a dragon crashing through the lands.)
(Brocade City’s struggle is within view, the disturbance within the palace, as well. Above the Cloud Empire, the Tower of Ling Xiao glows with a divine light.)
(Suddenly, an immense light emerges from Jinlin Palace, near the Ling Xiao platform. It shoots into the clouds above, forming an enormous vortex.)
(Before this shocking situation, Xiao Zong lets out an unsurprised laugh.)
- Xiao Zong: Good, they didn’t disappoint me!
(His fanatical laugh sinks into the howling winds, and is carried away into the boundless night.)
(The dawn of a new day has arrived, but the true dawn still seems to be far in the distance.)
4 - Night Talks Edit
The sound of war fills the halls of the imperial palace. Zhu Yuxian appears in the Wenying Hall with an undeniable demand. Talk of the empress’ blood continues until daybreak...
(Wenying Hall in Cloud Capital)
(The drums sound four times. Though the sky is still dark, the palace begins to stir with activity.)
(Bai Yongxi goes to Wenying Hall as usual, walking along the dark, familiar path. He looks up at the sky.)
(Only a few stares illuminate the night sky, as dark clouds approach from the horizon. A light can be seen inside the hall, which should be empty. Bai Yongxi pauses at the door.)
(A figure leisurely sits atop the Dragon Throne, draped lazily in a fur coat as the Supreme Phoenix ornament spreads its wings in the candlelight.
(He seems to be smiling, and appears to have been waiting a long time.)
(The door opens with a crash, disturbing the candlelight and making Zhu Yuxian’s shadow flicker slightly.)
- Bai Yongxi: You’ve come.
- Zhu Yuxian: You don’t seem surprised.
(Outside, swords clash against the silence of the night. In an instant, the few stars overhead are blotted out by dark, rolling clouds.)
- Bai Yongxi: Did you truly believe I wouldn’t come prepared?
- Zhu Yuxian: I’m only here to look for something. I didn’t want to resort to force, but your subordinates seemed anxious for a fight.
- Zhu Yuxian: But it isn’t too late to ask, so tell me...where is the blood of the empress?
(Bai Yongxi picks up a scroll, and skims it before setting it off to the side.)
- Bai Yongxi: The Empress is in Brocade City preparing for the ceremony. Didn’t you send someone?
- Zhu Yuxian: We both know her true identity, there’s no need to continue wasting time like this.
- Bai Yongxi: I believe the only one wasting time here is the insincere man who claims he didn’t want to resort to violence.
- Zhu Yuxian: Hahahaha, I brought my bargaining chips as well, but I’m afraid they’re too expensive for you, my friend.
- Bai Yongxi: The day when the curse of blood is finally broken has come. Why so anxious?
- Zhu Yuxian: I know what weighs on your heart. I have the answer to your problem.
(The hall is silent. Zhu Yuxian’s soldiers and the palace guards shout and fight outside, their deadly conflict threatening to breach the palace walls.)
- Bai Yongxi: The blood of the empress, which should have been severed, were it not for a fortuitous coincidence. Is that enough to trade for your bargaining chips?
(An arrow rips through the paper wall, landing between them. The sounds of soldiers fighting and howling winds drown out their conversation to all but them.)
(The drums sound five times, as if in tacit understanding. The fighting outside gradually dies down, as the hall falls into silence.)
- Zhu Yuxian: With things as they are, allow me to make the first move.
- Bai Yongxi: Wait.
- Zhu Yuxian: Something else, your highness?
- Bai Yongxi: Take your men with you.
- Zhu Yuxian: The ones at Jinlin Palace? Heh, I don’t need you to tell me about what I already intended to do. Trust me this once.
- Bai Yongxi: Not until I receive word from Brocade City.
(The door opens again, sunshine flooding in through the doorway, illuminating the ancient epithet engraved within.)