Ch. 1 part 3

1.

Ms. James was asleep, which was good, she did not want Ms. James to see her bloody and bruised when she came back home.

San crept into the parlor and took off the green rug and opened the trap door, then she went inside and slid the rug over the top and ran down all of the stairs.

When she reached the bottom she found the well and peered inside of it, mist was starting to turn blue, she sat on the edge of it and then jumped inside.

2.

San rolled in the grass until she came to a complete stop, her head was ringing from the impact it made with the brick fence. She held her head and struggled to her feet, then she looked around for Shou Lang.

The sun would've made her feel good before but now all she could feel was fear and pain, she couldn't find him.

He said that he'd wait for me, she thought frantically. He has to be close by, she thought tripping and then righting herself back up. I have to find him, Ms. James will die if I don't...

She cupped her hands over her mouth, "SHOU LAAAAANG!" she screamed.

...

Shou Lang flicked his ears and then spun around, Salem looked at him and scratched his head. "What? Did you hear something?"

"Yes, or at least I think I did," he said cocking his head and frowning.

...

San fell over and then gasping propped herself up by gripping the well's edge, she felt as if she would collapse. "SHOU LANG!" she shouted as loud as she could, then she took a deep breath and called his name again.

...

His eyes widened, he heard it again, it was definitely coming from the valley. He clicked his tongue and jumped on top of Nitro's back. Salem watched him with curious orange eyes, "Where are you going?"

"Stay there, I'll be back!" he promised.

...

Only the wind answered her call, feeling defeated and lost she fell against the well's base and stayed there looking at the clouds.

"Ms. James...he won't hurt you..." she said.

Then she heard a voice, it was small and faraway, she struggled to sit up and listened closely to the voice. It was carried off in the wind and in the air, fearing for her life she hid behind the well and shut her eyes tightly.

She then heard hoof beats clomping from the woods behind her, she had chosen the wrong side, she took off her dagger and held it tight against her chest.

A large black horse broke from the woods and was galloping for her from the trees, she felt a surge of relief.

"NITRO!" she yelled with most of the voice she had left. She slumped against the well and then pushed off against it so she was running.

She saw Shou Lang jump off the horse and start for her in a nonchalant walk.

She swallowed and started to run for him, she wasn't sure why he started running for her, maybe since his eyes were better he could see the blood running down the side of her temple.

He caught up to her and she hugged him, "Shou Lang-!" she cried.

"San? What happened to you?" he said.

She shook her head and held him tighter, "This man tried to kill me...he said that you-" she started.

"Whaat?" he shouted. "Kill you, he was demon?"

San nodded her head and buried her face in his shirt, "He said that he'd kill others if you didn't-!" she cut herself off in a cry.

Shou Lang's grip tightened around her, "This has gone too far. It seems I have no choice but to join the tournament..." he said.

What was he talking about? It didn't matter, she was safe now.

He pushed her back gently and peered in her face, "That looks deep," he said putting his thumb under the gash near her temple.

She sniffed and closed her eyes, he inspected her face gently with his hands and then her neck and wrists for broken bones and bruises. After he made his mental examination he clicked his tongue and Nitro came trotting forward.

San was so happy to see him, she hugged his neck and laughed quietly into his mane. "Hey there, Nitro," she said happily. Shou Lang took her waist and gently placed her on Nitro's back.

"You'll be going home soon," he said looking up at her.

She was about to tell him about the man and what he said but he silenced her with raising his hand. He pulled himself behind her and then kicked Nitro's sides so he was galloping back into the trees.

"Where is Chip?" she asked after a while of silence.

"He's with Salem."

"Salem?" she said looking back at him.

Shou Lang's yellow eyes were gentle as was his voice, "Turn back around, we'll be there shortly."

San nodded her head and faced the front. She rested against him and shut her eyes, she felt very faint.

Her dagger started to warm up but she was too tired to look at it.

She saw Salem's cottage, Nitro stopped and Shou Lang picked her up and carried into the cottage. She saw Chip and Salem playing some type of board game on the table.

San watched them look up, Chip grinned, Salem gave her a polite nod of his head.

"She was attacked," said Shou Lang setting her down.

"By no doubt Monde's men," said Salem with his orange eyes glowing angrily.

Shou Lang dug in his pack and then sat in front of her and dabbed at her cut with his black cloth. San winced slightly, whatever he put on the cloth was stinging her.

"Sit still," he told her and gently wiped at her cut.

San let Chip run on her lap and she hugged him tight.

Salem sat beside her and examined her cut, she watched him from the corner of her eye and then sighed deeply. "Shou Lang..." she said.

"Hush..."

She looked down, she had no idea what he was doing to help the wound, he had one hand on her shoulder and the other dabbing at her gash.

"I'm going to stitch this," he said.

"What happened to you, San?" asked Chip with wide bright green eyes.

"This demon in my world tried to kill me," she told him.

Chip hugged her wrist, "I'm sorry he hurt you, if I was there he wouldn't have touched you..." he said balling up his little fist. "No one attacks my San," he declared.

She heard Salem laugh, "That's right little one. Like you would've been able to prevent the attack from happening. You hide and cry about everything," said Salem, and Shou Lang joined his laughter.

"When it comes to San it's different," he said crossing his arms in front of his chest. "I would've been so mad...he would've ran away with fright once I was through with him!"

"That's right," said Shou Lang sarcastically. "It's good and healthy for children to dream and have fantasies, right Salem?"

"Yes," said Salem.

Chip's cheeks were flaming red, "Take that back!"

San hugged him close and soothed him, "They're just teasing you, I know that you would've tried to protect me if you were there," she said looking down at him.

Salem smiled.

"San..." said Shou Lang gently. "Try not to move, I don't want to stitch all over your face, don't move..." he said.

She took a deep breath and closed her eyes.

"So...how did this happen?" he said touching her lightly on the cheek to steady her face and keep it from moving.

"If I tell you...you're going to be mad and mess up on my face," she said opening her eyes and staring out the window across the room.

He snorted, "Yes...you're right. Tell me afterward..."

"Did he tell you his name?" asked Salem.

"Um...No..." said San to the window. "He never did, he wanted me to tell Shou Lang to meet him in-"

"Sit still..." Shou Lang interrupted.

San closed her eyes, his hands were extraordinarily gentle and light, she couldn't even feel the thread or the needle that he had in his hands. His hands left her face and then he dabbed at her temple with the black cloth.

"After Shou Lang finishes with your face," said Salem standing up, "We're going back to your world and I'll personally deal with this demon that did this to you."

She smiled, "Why go through all the trouble?"

Shou Lang grunted from behind, "You can finish him off, let me get the first few punches off this coward first," he said.

San smiled again, "You're going to come to my world just to beat this guy up?"

Salem's eyes flashed, "No...we were going to your world anyway."

San's breath caught in her throat, "But why? I didn't even tell you about what the guy said yet..."

"We'll tell you afterwards," said Shou Lang wiping his hands together and then gently taking her chin in his hand to keep her face steady.

Chip nodded his head, "Our next big thing starts on your world. We have to go to this tournament," he said.

San cocked her head, "I don't understand, how come you and Salem are coming together? You guys decided to be friends after all?" she asked.

"Keep still..." Shou Lang said.

"Sorry..."

Salem's eyes gleamed, "Your master and I are partners with this battle against Monde. We both want him dead so why not team up and do it?"

"Shou Lang, that doesn't sound like you."

"Hush..." he said from behind.

She felt his hands gently tugging on the string and then she felt pressure, she winced slightly and closed her eyes. "Ouch!"

"I'm sorry..." he said quickly. "I know my hands are rough."

San winced again and then stared back at the wall, "Actually they're very light...right now," she added quickly.

"Try not to move, I'm almost done."

"Tell me what your world is like," said Chip jumping up and down in her lap.

"Well..." she said looking down at him. "We're from the future, so we have cars and houses and TV," she said enjoying Salem and Chip's confused glances.

"What are cars?" asked Chip.

"Cars are metal things that can move very fast," said Shou Lang from behind her. "They can move faster than any horse or demon," he said dabbing at her temple.

San gasped and then whirled around, "You've been to my world?"

"Turn around," he told her gently placing his hands on her shoulders.

"I can't believe it!" she gasped. "Why didn't you tell me this before? How long were you in my world?" she asked him.

"I never stepped foot in your world..."

"Then how do you know what a car is," she said turning around again.

He looked mildly irritated, "Keep still, San, I'm almost finished. Turn," he said.

She turned and stared at the window, "How do you know?" she asked.

She heard Shou Lang snort, "I knew a woman that came from that well...I told you that when we first met, don't you remember?"

"A woman before me? Was she..." then it dawned on her. "Ms. James?!" she cried excitedly. "You know Ms. James?" she said turning around again.

Shou Lang sighed, "I'll never finish with you squirming. Turn back around."

"I'm sorry," she said and turned around again.

"She told me all about your world, she wanted me to go back to her world but I refused...you know her?"

"I think so," she answered and then swallowed hard. "Were you and Ms. James close?" she asked refraining from turning around to look at him.

"I don't know, she was very kind to me. I liked her very much," he said then paused. "By now she must be an old woman..."

"Yes...it is Ms. James that you speak of," she said smiling.

"You know her? Is that her name? Ms. James?"

"She never told you her name?" she said quizzically. "She's my adopted mother...or grandmother whichever..." she said staring down at her hands.

"Ah..." he said. "Isn't that strange? Where is she now?"

"Home...the well is downstairs in my house."

He touched both of her cheeks and turned her head sideways, "I'm just about done...is it hurting you anywhere?"

"How old were you in human years when you saw her last?"

She watched him twitch his ears, "I don't know...maybe I was around Chip's age..."

She felt relieved, for a minute she thought he was Charles.

Salem cleared his throat, "Hurry up, Shou Lang. I'm getting tired of waiting around for you. The sooner we join the better!"

Shou Lang growled, "You don't know where the portal is so just sit tight! We'll leave when I say so," he said and then leaned close to her face.

From the corner of her eye she could see that he was biting the thread off, it snapped and then he sat back and examined her again. "There...all done."

She was about to touch the spot but he grabbed her wrist, "Don't...you'll break the skin and it'll bleed all over again," he said.

"Ok," she nodded.

She gathered Chip in her arms and stood up, "Now what?" asked Chip.

"To the portal," Salem said impatiently.



3.

"Shhh!" she told them and tiptoed up to the trapdoor and opened it.

"So this is where you live? We're in the future, now?" asked Chip.

"Didn't you hear what she said rat, shut the hell up!"

San peeked over the edge and then sprang out of the trapdoor and motioned for them to do the same. Chip went out first, followed by Shou Lang and then Salem.

All of them looked around with big bright eyes, "Whoa..."

"Come to my room, but be very quiet," she told them in a whisper.

Salem nodded his head, Shou Lang grabbed Chip by the tail and covered his mouth to keep him from saying anything.

She led them to the stairs and tiptoed up them and then down the hall to her room.

Once everyone was inside she turned on the light and shut the door.

All three of them cried out and withdrew their weapons.

"What is that light coming from the ceiling?!" Salem demanded with his sword pointing up at the light bulb.

"No! No!" she said grabbing his arm. "That's just an invention created by electricity...there are a lot of things that you need to learn," she said.

Salem looked down at her and then back at the light. "Is it magic?"

"No," she said patiently and pointed to the light switch, "see this?" she said and flicked it off.

"How did you do that?!" Chip cried and bounced on her shoulder.

"It's a switch, when I turn it down the light goes off, when I turn it up the light turns on," then she flicked it back on. "You see? It isn't magic, it's science."

"Cool!" said Chip and bounced up and touched bulb.

Shou Lang sat on her bed and looked around her room, "So this is your room, where you sleep every night?" he asked.

San looked at him and nodded, "Yes...when I'm not in your world."

He nodded his head, "This is very sophisticated science, show me more of these little trinkets that you have," he said looking earnest and anxious.

"Well..." said San. "I can't...not now!" she said.

Salem touched her radio and cocked his head, "What in all the heavens is this?" he said squinting at it.

San grinned, "Here, let me show you something," then she walked over to the radio and turned it on.

Salem jumped back along with Chip. "What is that?! I hear voices, is someone trapped in that metallic box?"

She turned up the volume a little louder, "No Salem," she said with a mischievous grin. "It's how we listen to music, it's recorded in a studio and then they broadcast it through signals that my antennae picks up," she said running her finger along the antennae. "Isn't it neat?"

"It's...interesting," said Salem slowly coming back and touching it.

Shou Lang was fiddling with the dials and changing the channels with a look of pure wonder and curiosity on his face. He looked like a little child discovering something new.

"This is all fascinating! Your Ms. James failed to tell me about all of this," he said squinting in her mirror.

Salem and Chip were opening her closet and looking over her clothes, they snickered and leafed through all of her shirts. "I assume these are all of the latest fashions in your world?" said Chip.

"I guess..." she said sitting on her bed.

Then Shou Lang was pulling open drawers and sneaking peeks at her socks and sweaters. He was just about to pull open the last drawer at the bottom when she leaped up and stood in front of it.

Shou Lang looked startled, "Did I do something wrong?"

"Ahem..." she said smiling nervously. "Don't open this one, ok? It's personal."

Shou Lang had a blank expression on his face. "What's in there?"

"Nothing!" she said closing the drawer and standing straight. "This is my room anyway, you can't just open things and pull things out!"

"I wasn't going to touch anything, I was just looking."

Her bookcase fell on the floor, gasping she ran and picked up her books and pictures that Salem had accidentally knocked on the floor. "I apologize!" he said and knelt to help her.

Salem pushed the bookcase back against the wall and stacked the books back into the shelves.

"Salem!" Chip hissed. "You have to be quiet!" he said.

From the corner of her eye she saw Shou Lang pulling open the last drawer again, she leaped up and slammed it shut. "I saw you! What were you doing?"

Shou Lang made a face, "Just tell me what's in there!"

"No!" she said with her hands on her hips.

Shou Lang snorted impatiently and sat on the windowsill, "Ok...I won't open it..."

She heard a faint knock on her door, then the doorknob turning.

Before she could suggest for them to hide the door was swung open and the old woman stood there rubbing her eyes and looking around. "San? What are you doing? It's so late at night..."

San looked from Shou Lang to Salem and then nodded her head. "I'm sorry Ms. James, we'll keep it down..." she said with a big smile.

Ms. James looked around at the boys and then shut the door.

San sighed in relief, "That was so close!" she breathed.

"That was Ms. James?" said Shou Lang gawking at the door. "She looks...so...old."

"Yes, she is old," said San sitting on her bed.

Chip sat beside her, "Now that we're here, now what do we do?" he said.

Salem turned serious, "We find the demon that attacked San, he'll know the location of the tournament."

"The guy said to meet him at Bangkok, Thailand."

Shou Lang shook his head, "How do we get there?" he asked shrugging.

San paused and then smacked her forehead, "Thailand is all the way across the ocean! I have no idea!" she said and then looked down at Chip.

Chip shrugged his shoulders, "Get directions from Ms. James."

"Aw Chip," she said patting his head. "She won't let me go to Thailand, and I have no idea how to get there..."

Shou Lang sighed, "We'll find a way, for now we have to think of a plan to get there. We can fly," he said.

"Yes, but, it's really far," said San with a groan.

"We'll think of something," said Salem looking at Shou Lang. "I'm sure if you asked Ms. James nicely she'll let us go."

"That kind of stuff cost a lot of money, Salem!" she said. "We need to get a plane ticket and everything, this is going to be impossible..." she groaned into her hands.

"Don't be so negative," said Chip patting her thigh. "We'll get to Thailand somehow..."

She groaned and then stood up, "Well...I'm really tired guys. I want to go to bed, I'll think this over while I sleep. Ms. James is our only way to Thailand..." she said looking at them all.

"Should we leave?" asked Chip popping on the ground.

San thought about it. "Um...I don't know, none of you sleep anyway so I guess it's ok if you just stay in my room and be quiet the night."

"We can do that," said Salem solemnly.

"Should I turn off the light?" said Shou Lang grinning.

"Sure," she told him and nestled into bed.

She felt Chip curl up beside her, she cuddled with him and shut her eyes. She heard Shou Lang and Salem whispering to each other.

Then with a squeal Chip was plucked from her grasp, she sat up and looked around. "What are you two doing to Chip?" she demanded.

"I'm not allowing this runt to sleep in your bed the night! He's a woodland creature, he should sleep on the floor!" Shou Lang snapped.

Then she heard a loud thud followed by Chip's squeal.

"Go back to sleep," said Salem's voice. "I'll look after your rodent of a friend for you."

"Don't you dare hurt him, Shou Lang!" she warned.

"Go back to sleep, San. I'm not going to touch him, he just needs to sleep on the floor for once instead of snuggling up on your bosom every night!" Shou Lang spat.

Something was thrown against the wall followed by Chip's squeal again.

"You're hurting him!" she cried.

"Not at all," said Salem's voice. "Go back to sleep, I'll look after him for you, remember?" said Salem.

She sat up for a while but nothing happened then she rested her head against the pillow with her eyes opened. Salem and Shou Lang were whispering to each other again.

Then she sat up, "When I fall asleep you better not do anything mean to him!" she warned into the darkness of her room.

"He's already asleep, San," said Salem.

"Go back to sleep, already!" Shou Lang hissed.

"That's because you knocked him out when you threw him against the wall!" she snapped angrily.

Shou Lang was snickering.

"He's fine...he's asleep isn't he?" came Salem's cool voice.

"You seriously threw him against the wall?!"

"He's asleep, that's the main and important thing, right?" said Shou Lang's voice.

She scoffed and found Chip over by the bookcase and gently picked him up, "Both of you are just so mean bullying up on him like this!" she scolded.

Salem and Shou Lang were snickering again.

She snuggled up with Chip and closed her eyes while ducking under the covers. "The both of you be quiet so I can sleep!"

The snickering was louder and then loud whispers.

She felt safe with them there and closed her eyes again, this time she fell asleep.