|“||To investigate the real reason that Tyre Coalition capture Cloud City, Yue Qianshuang together with Musika sneaked into Cloud Palace, and met some unexpected person...||”|
- (New Calendar, Year 680: Lor River City)
- (After an entire day of war deliberations in the barracks, Zhu Ruosheng returns to the General's office in the evening)
- Zhu Ruosheng: (Although Cloud City was reclaimed, Tyre Coalition's forces remain to the north covetously. Defenses around Lor River City and Cloud City are at an all-time high)
- (As Zhu Ruosheng ponders the military deployment, she takes a look inside the General's office for anything unusual. Suddenly, she notices a string of nightingale fruit by the window)
- Patrol: Say, over there...what is that?
- Zhu Ruosheng: ...Just some fallen fruit. Stop being so paranoid, and focus on your task at hand.
- Patrol: Yes, your highness.
- Zhu Ruosheng: (Ordinary in appearance but high in medicinal value, nightingale fruit is extremely bitter and difficult to swallow...although some are known to enjoy its flavor)
- (Zhu Ruosheng takes the fruit and returns to her room, where all is silent as usual. She turns around to lock the door, but suddenly someone leaps out from behind her)
- Yue Qianshuang: Zhu Ruosheng!!!
- Zhu Ruosheng: ...
- Yue Qianshuang: Well? Did I scare you?
- Zhu Ruosheng: Not at all. I knew it was you when I saw the nightingale fruit. What are you doing here? Don't tell me you're here to get me something to eat?
- Yue Qianshuang: Hahaha, wouldn't you like that? Since you guessed that it was me who broke into the General's office, can you also guess why I'm here?
- Zhu Ruosheng: (Ponders for a moment) If you're here...it must have something to do with Cloud City, right?
- Yue Qianshuang: Clever, indeed! When the Tyre Coalition laid siege to Cloud City, they managed to murder its chief designer...
- Yue Qianshuang: Ten days ago, I received orders from Cloud Capital's royal court to investigate the matter.
To Cloud Capital
Alternate Title: Cloud Capital Pilgrimage
- (Ten days ago, in Cloud Capital)
- (Behind a veil embroidered with nine dragons, a little girl of six or seven years of age sits. Her assistant, King Haku, stands solemnly beside the throne)
- Yue Qianshuang: Cloud City has fallen to the enemy, and Clan Tiger is to blame. You must be punished.
- Cloud Empress: Refrain from speaking in such a manner, General.
- (The sophistication of the Cloud Empress' words denotes that she was taught how to respond. Nonetheless, her childish voice resonates within the hall with confidence and majesty)
- Cloud Empress: Huo Qizhou is a powerful stylist, an outstanding martial elite... His achievements in the name of the Cloud Empire are vast and impressive, and...well...
- (The Cloud Empress appears to have forgotten her lines, and looks to Haku at her side for help)
- Bai Yongxi: But this confrontation between the two kingdoms was different.
- Cloud Empress: Right, that's it! Huo Qizhou was uncharacteristically timid in battle, and it shocked everyone. You don't need to blame yourself so much.
- Yue Qianshuang: Huo Qizhou is a member of Clan Tiger. As head of the clan, I, too, share in the responsibility of Cloud City's capture.
- Yue Qianshuang: In addition, there are still many questions about this war that remain unanswered...
- Yue Qianshuang: When the Tyre Coalition was preparing to invade, why did Huo Qizhou refuse to protect Lor River City?
- Yue Qianshuang: After Nidhogg arrived at the northern border of the Cloud Kingdom, why did he personally challenge Cloud City's chief designer, even after victory was assured?
- Yue Qianshuang: Even if they have retreated from the city, the Tyre Coalition remains stationed in the northern part of our kingdom. Their work has yet to be completed.
- Yue Qianshuang: Your Majesty! Please, allow me to travel to Cloud City, so that I may thoroughly investigate the matter!
- Cloud Empress: (Nervous) Well...what do you think, big brother...I-I mean, King Haku?
- Bai Yongxi: There may not be anything worth investigating in Cloud City anymore.
- I'm going to to see for myself.
- Yue Qianshuang: Even so, I believe I should personally confirm this.
- Yue Qianshuang: Is there any other information regarding Huo Qizhou? Who is backing him? I must find the answers to these questions!
Alternate title: Faint Foreshadowing
- (New Calendar, Year 680: Lor River City)
- Yue Qianshuang: So, that's why I'm here. To find the truth behind this matter.
- Zhu Ruosheng: Yue Qianshuang, those doubts you mentioned also bother me.
- Zhu Ruosheng: But I am only a strategist of Lor River City. I need special permission from the court to launch an investigation.
- Zhu Ruosheng: Nevertheless, I asked General Zhong to monitor Huo Qizhou's residence after his imprisonment. That way, any evidence would be reasonably preserved until a formal inspection could be arranged.
- Yue Qianshuang: Just as I thought, you're reliable as always.
- Zhu Ruosheng: We're running out of time. I'll take you to Huo's residence.
- (Zhu Ruosheng brings Yue Qianshuang to Huo Qizhou's residence for a separate investigation, but find nothing suspicious)
- Yue Qianshuang: There isn't anything here...Perhaps it is as King Haku says: the evidence may have been removed.
- Zhu Ruosheng: Impossible. As arrogant as Huo Qizhou may be, he was born a commoner and only attained his position by marrying into Clan Tiger. He has no supporters among the nobility...
- Zhu Ruosheng: There is no way he could done away with the Cloud City battle report on his own...
- Zhu Ruosheng: And yet, there isn't a single shred of information here! No clues, whatsoever! That's why I have my doubts...
- Zhu Ruosheng: Someone must have taken something important from this scene...could it have been...her?
- Yue Qianshuang: Who do you mean, Zhu Ruosheng?
- Zhu Ruosheng: A maid ... She worked in the Lor River City General's office for six or seven years. She was a loyal and reliable worker, but she suddenly resigned just last month.
- Yue Qianshuang: Sounds suspicious. Zhu Ruosheng, would we be able to find her whereabouts in her work file in the office?
- Zhu Ruosheng: ...I'm not sure, but she has been away from Lor River City for a while, so it may take time to pick up her trail.
- Zhu Ruosheng: Let me think...
- Zhu Ruosheng: (I never thought he would plant a spy for so many years in the General's office...but isn't that one of his preferred methods?)
- Zhu Ruosheng: (In any case, we have no evidence, and that maid is long gone...)
- Zhu Ruosheng: (I hope I'm mistaken.)
- Zhu Ruosheng: Qianshuang, let me assign some people to this investigation. You rarely come to Lor River City, so let's seize the opportunity and travel to Cloud City for a look.
- Zhu Ruosheng: General Zhong told me that they recently captured several Coalition Soldiers attempting to break into Cloud Palace.
- Zhu Ruosheng: Perhaps their objective lies within Cloud Palace!
- Yue Qianshuang: Alright, next stop: Cloud City! Lead the way!
Alternate title: Dream of Ancient State
- (Yue Qianshuang and Zhu Ruosheng arrive in Cloud City, and find the mayor having a discussion with Zhong Lizi)
- Zhong Lizi: The General, and the Strategist, as well! To what do I owe the honor?
- Yue Qianshuang: No need to be so polite, General Zhong. Musika tells me that you recently apprehended a number of Coalition soldiers attempting to infiltrate the palace?
- Zhong Lizi: Yes. I'm currently speaking to the mayor about it. We caught and imprisoned the would—be infiltrators, but it seems someone managed to break into the palace two days ago...
- Zhu Ruosheng: The Tyre Coalition's tenacity is formidable, indeed. What does Cloud Palace hold for them?
- Yue Qianshuang: Why not enter Cloud Palace and investigate? Perhaps the answers we seek will present themselves.
- Cloud Mayor: General, you may not know, but Cloud Palace is a remnant of the ancient Cloud Empire.
- Cloud Mayor: Legends speak of a thousand-year old curse that afflicts any who dare trespass, one that traps the intruder's mind in an endless illusion.
- Cloud Mayor: That's why no one dares enter Cloud Palace. No one is certain what lies within.
- Cloud Mayor: For thousands of years, only one person remains unaffected by this curse...
- Yue Qianshuang: Do you mean...Lunar? I heard that five years ago, after Cloud City defeated the northern army, and acquired the Twin Nebula Blades...
- Yue Qianshuang: I never thought such magic existed in the world...
- Cloud Mayor: Indeed, her immunity to the curse appears to be tied to her relationship with the Twin Nebula Blades.
- Cloud Mayor: Anyone else who entered the palace emerged irreversibly deranged.
- Zhu Ruosheng: So what you're saying is that we don't need to enter Cloud Palace?
- Zhong Lizi: Precisely. I will station soldiers at every exit and simply wait for the intruder to show himself.
- Yue Qianshuang: General Zhong, don't forget that Cloud City's safety rests on your shoulders now. The enemy is a master of stealth; don't expect success to suddenly land in your lap.
- Yue Qianshuang: The Tyre Coalition brought out everything to claim Cloud City, including military action. If the palace holds the secret they are desperate to obtain, why are we still here?
- Zhong Lizi: ...You're absolutely right. Allow me to act as vanguard!
- Yue Qianshuang: There's no need. Zhong Lizi, assign your soldiers to guard outside. Mayor, please take us to Cloud Palace.
- Zhu Ruosheng: I'm going with you.
- Yue Qianshuang: Zhu Ruosheng, you...It's all right, just stay with Zhong Lizi and wait for my good news.
- Zhu Ruosheng: (Smiles) You can't change my decision, no matter what you say. Besides, if we get caught in that curse's illusion, we might be able to help each other out, right?
Alternate title: Cloud Dreamland
- (Cloud City Mayor has no choice but to bring them to the entrance of Cloud Palace.)
- Zhong Lizi: Please be careful in there. The Mayor and I wiil guard the exits; no one will get past us.
- (Qianshuang nods and glances at Zhu Ruosheng. Side by side, the two enter the mysterious, ancient palace)
- (The ebony corridor creaks beneath their feet as they walk. The centuries—old dust kicked up by their feet dulls the sunlight as it streams in)
- (In such dimness, only the shadows of columns and beams and the faint glimmer of bronze statues can be distinguished clearly)
- Yue Qianshuang: Zhu Ruosheng, stay close to me.
- Yue Qianshuang: Zhu Ruosheng...?
- (Qianshuang whirls around, and is shocked to see that Zhu Ruosheng has gone missing!)
- Yue Qianshuang: Zhu Ruosheng! Zhu Ruosheng!!!
- (The empty palace answers her with endless echoes. Suddenly, a little girl's voice calls out from behind Forza)
- Little Girl: Look daddy, I practiced a new way to use my sword! Look!
- (The sound of her young voice echoes in the dark palace, filling Yue Qianshuang with acute unease)
- (As Yue Qianshuang turns back to look for the source of the voice, but suddenly finds herself standing on soft, spring grass. A familiar courtyard lies ahead of her)
- (An exuberant courtyard, with singing birds and hydrangeas in full bloom)
- (An adjacent room opposite the courtyard opens, and a young girl of five or six years of age runs out, tugging her father's arm. Her father is dressed in military fashion.
- (The young pony-tailed girl holds aloft a blade even longer than herself)
- Little Girl: See. daddy? I improved a lot! First, I strike here, then from the bottom-Hiya!!! What do you think?
- General Forza: That’s very good, but shouldn't you be reading in your study? Why are you still practicing your martial arts?
- Little Girl: I...but daddy, those books are so hard! I get so sleepy just looking at them...
- (The man holds the little girl in his arms and walks to the study)
- General Forza Remember, Yue Qianshuang: your brain is more important than matching and martial arts in winning a battle.
- General Forza: Now, back to your readings, and don't let mommy catch you, okay?
- Yue Qianshuang: (Yue Qianshuang...? Right, that was me...and that was my dad... But where's mom? Is mom going to be here, too?)
- (The little girl begrudgingly returns to the study, and unrolls a long, heavy scroll detailing military tactics)
- (Just then, a tall, elegant woman enters and approaches the little girl)
- Forza's Mother: Military Arts and Applications... this is quite advanced reading. Do you understand it?
- Little Girl: (Shakes head) Nope... Mommy, why don't you explain it to me?
- Yue Qianshuang: (Mom...I remember her teaching me about military tactics. I always had lots of questions, and she patiently answered all of them, one by one...
- (Yue Qianshuang faces the study, staring out of its carved windows as her deepest memories are reproduced before her)
- Yue Qianshuang: Mom and dad...
- (After her parents' sacrifice, after all these years, their faces have gotten blurry in her memory)
- (Yue Qianshuang doesn’t like crying, but her eyes are slightly moist)
Alternate title: Crusader Warrior
- Yue Qianshuang: It seems the palace's curse affected me the second I set foot inside...
- (Yue Qianshuang rubs her eyes. She knows that all of this is an illusion produced by Cloud Palace, as her parents died when she was seven)
- (She takes one final look at the study before striding past the vivid courtyard)
- (The illusion surrounding her begins to whirl past her)
- (As time rushes by and night falls, she realizes she has stumbled upon the outside of her room. Inside, she sees herself, now a bit older, staring into the starry sky)
- (In the boundless night, comes the clear sound of a bugle, signalling the departure of Clan Tiger's soldiers. Their silver armor shines coldly and intimidatingly in the moonlight)
- Yue Qianshuang: I remember this night... It was the beginning of the Nine Day War.
- Yue Qianshuang: We sent Clan Tiger soldiers across the land, wave by wave, but some of them never returned...
- Yue Qianshuang: I could only watch them as they left. I couldn't help them, or even utter a word of goodbye.
- (The night wind blows opens the door with a creak. Little Yue Qianshuang jumps away from the window with a start, and sees her future self in astonishment)
- 10-year old Forza: Your blade and armor are those of Clan Tiger...you're part of our family, but why haven't I seen you before?
- Yue Qianshuang: ...You'll see me again someday, Yue Qianshuang. Do you still remember what your father said to you before he left for the war?
- 10-year old Forza: I remember. He told me...to save Clan Tiger, and to save the Cloud Empire. I want to do it, but...but how do I do it?
- Yue Qianshuang: It's not enough to just want to do it.
- Yue Qianshuang: You need power. Enough power to save everything and everyone.
- 10-year old Forza: But lady, I've been training so hard already: none of my peers in the clan can beat me now...isn't that enough?
- Yue Qianshuang: Not enough...you still have a long journey ahead of you. Will you accept a small challenge of mine? The theme is Expeditionary Warrior, now show me what you can do.
Morning Dew and Sunlight
- (Yue Qianshuang easily defeats her 10-year-old self, but the little girl isn't discouraged)
- 10-year old Forza: You're very powerful, lady. Someday, I'll become just as powerful as you!
- 10-year old Forza: But when that day comes, will I be able to save everyone? Will I have enough power to do as my father asked?
- (Yue Qianshuang smiles, and pats her on the head)
- Yue Qianshuang: (No...not nearly enough power. I wasn't able to do...what my father asked of me)
- (Yue Qianshuang squats down, and hands her blade over to her ten-year old self)
- Yue Qianshuang: Here's some advice...Guard the people you hold dearest to you.
- (Two shadows overlap in the stream of rushing memories. Another illusion begins to emerge)
- (Yue Qianshuang is immersed in this illusion. Everything seems to have returned to how it was eight years ago)
- (She overcame the Frost Tigers' Seven-Star Formation, escorted the secret treasure to Lurfdan, and lost her uncle forever)
- (Five years later, she became the youngest and the bravest warrior in Clan Tiger, and the politics of the Cloud Empire changed dramatically.)
- (The Emperor passed away, and Clan Dragon helped the young empress ascend to the throne)
- (As the empress' chief councillor, King Haku promoted many young designers from common families and held them in high esteem, which caused a stir within the royal court)
- (Bai Yonxi summoned Yue Qianshuang to Cloud Capital, hoping she would take over as head of Clan Tiger. Yue Qianshuang refused without hesitation)
- Yue Qianshuang: I'm sorry to disappoint you, King Haku, but my strength and martial arts still do not compare to those of our clan elders. I cannot accept this responsibility.
- (Yue Qianshuang, now fifteen years old, has matured greatly but a trace of innocence lingers in her eyes)
- Bai Yongxi: You are much too modest. Or perhaps, you just don't trust me? Is this the reason you refuse my proposition?
- It's about me.
- Bai Yongxi: I believe we share the same goal: to stop at nothing to ensure peace in the Cloud Empire.
Alternate title: Dream Foam
- Yue Qianshuang: You're...
- Yue Qianshuang: (That’s strange... I don't even know her, but why do I have a familiar feeling to her?)
- Zhu Ruosheng: Good day. I'm Zhu Ruosheng. Well...your horse, your blade, and that crest with a frost tiger emblazonry...you can only be Yue Qianshuang, currently the most formidable warrior of Clan Tiger.
- Zhu Ruosheng: You don't look older than me...are you truly fit to lead as a general?
- (This girl is only slightly older than Yue Qianshuang, yet her words are entirely too arrogant for such a small age difference. In her annoyance, Yue Qianshuang forgets her question)
- Yue Qianshuang: Zhu Ruosheng, was it? Well, having made so many erroneous assumptions with such few words, you must not be particularly bright, I take it?
- Zhu Ruosheng: You......
- Yue Qianshuang: (Smiles) Alright, my strategist, that should be quite enough. We must cooperate if we hope to win, now let's play nice.
- (Half a month later, in the western Cloud Empire)
- (Following Zhu Ruosheng's plan, Yue Qianshuang leads her personal, elite squadron along a path specified by the strategist. They prepare to attack the enemy's encampment)
- (But before they reach the enemy, they are besieged by a barrage of rolling logs and flying arrows from the hillside. Still, they continue to march forward)
- Tiger Follower: General, that strategist is deliberately torturing us! How could you put your faith in someone from Clan Phoenix so quickly?
- Yue Qianshuang: Eh...
- (Yue Qianshuang swings her blade around her, beating away both arrows and enemies to her front)
- Yue Qianshuang: This wasn't Zhu Ruosheng's doing...
- Tiger Follower: And where is she now, then? She directed us down this dangerous path, while he hides like a coward...
- Yue Qianshuang: You're wrong. Zhu Ruosheng promised that she would lead reinforcements to meet us up ahead.
- Tiger Follower: Don't you see? She isn't coming! We've already fallen into the enemy's hand: how can we possibly escape from this? It was a trap, General...just accept it...
- Yue Qianshuang: ......No, it wasn't Zhu Ruosheng's fault...
- Yue Qianshuang: I believe in her. She wouldn't betray us!
- (Yue Qianshuang closes her eyes, listening to the sounds around her. Shouting, weapons clashing, soldier's screaming in pain, the wind howling...)
- (Suddenly, the sounds begin to rapidly subside, until all is quiet)
- Yue Qianshuang:It was a trap, indeed. A trap set for the enemy!
- (Yue Qianshuang opens her eyes, and looks straight ahead)
- (There is no doubt or confusion in her eyes)
- Yue Qianshuang: Whatever you are, whatever this is...I would like to thank you all the same, for letting me see those who are no longer with me once more.
- Yue Qianshuang: But now I must press forward and defeat you, so that I may find the secret of this palace.
- Yue Qianshuang: I won't dwell on the past any longer; protecting the people by my side is what is most important to me now!
- (A flash of light pierces the void, and the palace's illusions fade away)
- (In the dim light, Yue Qianshuang sees the real Zhu Ruosheng)
- Zhu Ruosheng: Yue Qianshuang! I...I just saw...was it you who dispelled the illusions? What kind of place is this...
- Yue Qianshuang: No matter what it is or where we are, we just have to hold tight to our ideals and push forward. That's more than enough.
Alternate title: Surprise Meet
- (Zhu Ruosheng looks somewhat bewildered, but Yue Qianshuang doesn't question her. She just smiles to Zhu Ruosheng, and helps her walk into the deeper reaches of Cloud Palace)
- (No more illusions appear to take hold of their minds. As they descend down a shadowy stairwell, they see a candle lamp glowing faintly ahead)
- Yue Qianshuang: Zhu Ruosheng, be careful. The man who broke into Cloud Palace is probably ahead...
- (As they cautiously approach the candle, they see someone most unexpected)
- (Dressed in all black, her long, raven-black hair is gathered up in a double bun and held in place with a delicate, metal hairpin)
- Yue Qianshuang: Ming Shuiyuan?! What are you doing here?
- Zhu Ruosheng: The head of Clan Ocean...how long have you been here?
- (Ming Shuiyuan appears caught in a gloomy trance, but soon regains her usual calmness upon seeing them)
- (Shaking her head, she points to a bronze casket in the shrine)
- Ming Shuiyuan: I was too late. Things have changed in the palace.
- (Yue Qianshuang and Zhu Ruosheng look at each other. Yue Qianshuang steps forward, and takes down the casket)
- Yue Qianshuang: Is this....a paper kite?
- (Lying in the bronze casket is a lone, broken kite)
- Zhu Ruosheng: Tell us, head of Clan Ocean...who do you think put this paper kite in here?
- Ming Shuiyuan: (Whispers) I cannot say... but I have checked this casket before...
- Ming Shuiyuan: There is a hidden compartment in this casket; Clan Ocean's machinist should be able to reveal its contents...
- Ming Shuiyuan: I'm sure it will be of great assistance.
- Yue Qianshuang: (A little bit worried) Ming Shuiyuan, aren't you leaving with us?
- Ming Shuiyuan: I want to stay here for a few more days to research the palace's curse... You go on ahead.
- Yue Qianshuang: If you're certain...then take care of yourself, and good-bye.
- Ming Shuiyuan: I wiil. Don't worry.
Alternate title: Dimension World
- (Outside of Cloud Palace)
- Cloud Mayor: It's been three days; why haven't they come out yet? Are they in danger?
- It's gonna be fine.
- Zhong Lizi: The General and her strategist are very capable. I'm sure they are fine.
- Cloud Mayor: Don't underestimate the danger of this palace.
Alternate title: Rain's Coming
- (Two days later; Cloud Capital, Imperial Study)
- (Yue Qianshuang's letter, the casket, and the kite were delivered from Cloud City, non-stop, to Bai Yonxi in Cloud Capital)
- (Bai Yonxi falls silent as he finishes reading the letter. Poking her head out through the veil, the Cloud Empress calls out to him nervously)
- Cloud Empress: Is it about Cloud City, brother?
- Bai Yongxi: It's nothing, Empress. No cause for alarm.
- Cloud Empress: You always keep me in the dark, brother...