Wise and aging Bingwen sits on a stone throne, polished by the many times he and the other Historians sat in this chair. It is an intricate and elaborate piece of work, hinting to wealthier times, and rests in a massive, but cramped dining room filled with children and adults. Behind the man lies thirteen stone coffins, engraved with calligraphy except one; this is left bare except for one engraving. LORD NYASUKIHundreds of men and women of all ages sit upon stone benches as savory smells waft from the kitchen. The aromas of steamed buns, beef dumplings, chicken feet, rice noodles, fried rice, roasted duck, and stir fry vegetables entice even the apathetic of eaters. The silence is punctuated with the sounds of cows and pigs chewing their meals; they've called this room their home for decades. The children, however, sit cross legged in front of the Historian, eager and anxious. The man smiles with a twinkle in his eye. Today is the castle's three hundred year anniversary and it is a time of celebration. The festivities begin with a story. A massive scrolls sits on the man's lap, which he unfurls onto the floor. The children cry in delight as the paper rolls upon the stone floor, and stops mere inches from the tables. Bingwen bows from his seat, strokes his snow white beard, and launches into his tale. "Three hundred years ago, a great and savage war ravaged our lands. Young men and women were sent to the front lines to die, children became orphans, crops were ruined, the land salted - but none of it reached our home. Protected by the forests, we were ignorant of such conflict, so when the war arrived, we were ill prepared for the destruction. "We knew naught of what drove the war, only that it was violent and took the lives of many of our people. We fought valiantly, but in the end, too many souls were lost, and we could not go forward. We grew desolate and contemplated surrender, where we would be subjected to slavery and servitude. "Our miracle came to us from our Lord," and Bingwen gestures to the stone coffin that rests behind his throne. "Lord Nyasuki and his Order rallied the people and their live stock into this castle with the belief that we would fight our last battle here. His mages and archers lined the windows and roof tops, shooting down any who came towards our last defense. Our samurai stood ready at the gates, and the healers waited with bated breath. "As the enemy soldiers broke the tree line and our warriors did battle, Lord Nyasuki gathered his mages into this very room, locked the doors, and began an incantation. "A great and powerful magic began to take hold on the castle. A dark blue aura surrounded the rock and landscape, and sunk into the earth. The ground shook, cracks appeared in the walls, and with a mighty heave, our castle lurched into the sky. Our people gathered around the windows, and watched as the ground below grew smaller and smaller. The enemy was quickly disposed of, where they were either killed by our warriors, or thrown from a great and terrible height. "How we celebrated such a victory! How we cheered to be away from the war and violence! But alas... It came with a price. The people unlocked the doors to this room, and found their Lord and his mages gone from this world. They left us with one gift, and that was everlasting peace. They sacrificed their lives, and we mourned their departure. From the rocks of this castle, we carved stone coffins and laid their bodies to rest. "Their magic still lingers in this castle, keeping it afloat and in the clouds. The warriors that fought valiantly to protect our loved ones were renamed The Order of the Cloud, and the castle named Ziyou in honor of our Lord. It has been three hundred years since the war, and harmony has been maintained in our home. "Tonight we honor their memories. We drink, we feast, we love, we laugh, we cry, but most of all, we remember. To Ziyou, and for many more years of peace, harmony, and prosperity!" She Dooms Us All She watched from the rafters, silent and invisible as servants brought out steaming plates of rice and chicken soup to the castle dwellers. Bingwen sat on his throne, laughing merrily as children sat on the arms of his chair, or tussled with each other. Xiaojing chatted to an admirer, a young rambunctious man who works with her in the stables. While he is a charming and talkative person, his table manners are atrocious. Chewed duck and goose spewed out with his words, landing either on the table, floor, or in the woman's hair. Across from the archer, one the same table, is Mogu, a boisterous fellow who she thought of as slow and stupid. A warrior of the Cloud, he was considered one of the strongest, but that was only due to his large girth. That fat fool. The woman's eyes narrowed on Takeshi. A magus. How she despised his kind. Not because he delved into magic, but paired it with a sword. As if sorcery wasn't powerful enough, he needed a weapon to bolster his strength. The man was popular with the women, despite his cold demeanor. It came as a surprise to her then that beautiful and talented Yu Ling didn't pursue him herself. Surely the woman could charm the man with her music. The woman had been watching them for a while, studying them, analyzing them. They seemed unaware of what was happening, unaware of the protection that was mysteriously bestowed on them, a protection that she couldn't take off. She disappeared from her perch and reappeared on the floor, invisible and ethereal to all. Hobbling on a cane, she peered into the eyes of Han, the monk who blessed those with his words and wisdom. He couldn't see her of course; he was far too busy enjoying his sake and his present company. She spat onto his drink, the yellow saliva slowly appearing to coat the rim of his cup. No matter. Soon, she would have them all and no petty protection could save them.