Mei met and was greeted by a tabaxi warrior named Jade Tiger, or Verro. The tabaxi were a race of feline-like creatures often sharing characteristics with leopards and panthers or other predatory cats. Beren continued to be an enigma to Mei Fong of the Crimson Rose clan, though she tried her best to continually ignore the belligerent warrior with his sly comments. The trio retired to the monastery after a long night, awaiting whatever uncertain future tomorrow would bring. 

Previous Episode/Anthology Episode Guide

The night passed and dawn rose across the jagged peaks of the Pilgrim mountains, their long shadows stretched along the woodlands and marshes across the southern coast of the continent of Alramos. High above the peaks, nestled between the valleys there rested a monastery along a sliced portion of rock. From there, the view expanded down below into the clouds and mist below before pockets of verdant green and cerulean blue poked into sight. The light reached over the stone walls that surrounded the complex, crawling up along the columns and walls before reaching the parchment lined windows. There are very few songbirds up this high due to the altitude, but the few that reside within the monastery began to chirp to welcome the morning and new day.

Mei Fong emerged from her room with a dark red and gold-trimmed robe, taking careful steps as she approached a nearby balcony at one of the upper landings. The mountain air was serene and tranquil, she closed her eyes and rhythmically attuned her breathing to the wind, the clouds, and the rising sun. The absence of distractions brought a profound inner peace within the warrior, emptying her mind further and only envisioning the fire within. Only the infinite darkness and herself, picturing a small flame rising and shrinking with each breath. Focusing further into the very essence of the flames, becoming brighter and radiant against the dark. A small wreath of fire flared and gently wrapped over her hands. Mei looked at them and gazed upon the mysteries and wonders granted to her, reflecting on the many years of hardwork and discipline to achieve the skills she now possessed.

Before long, Mei realized that she was not alone and turned around to find a sleeping Beren sitting along the railing. When did he get there, or was he there all night? She wondered. Beren had his head tucked in and arms crossed while propped against the wall along the rails of the balcony. Mei studied the odd warrior from the previous night, he was strong and definitely more capable than he portrayed himself. Mei placed her hand over her stomach, the muscles remembered the blow dealt to them. Speed and grace that far surpassed most warriors she had ever come across, even from her own clan. The most striking oddity remained the saffron sash that he wore along his waist, even his tunic possessed bits of golden trimming and soft beige. Mei became transfixed by the tranquil unconscious form of Beren, reminiscing of a youthful past full of joy and happiness that became replaced with duty and honor.

“How long are you going to keep staring at me?” A voice asked. Mei regained herself and looked down at the source. Beren still had his eyes closed but a wide smirk was visibly seen across his face.

“I wasn’t staring at you, merely thinking.” Mei replied, too embarrassed to look back at him.

“Thinking about what?” Beren prodded, his eyes still closed.

“The tournament ahead, the honor of my clan is at stake, and I must claim victory.” Mei answered, her gaze shifted into the clouds and the endless skies.

“What will you do once you gain glory for your clan?” Beren inquired, finally opening his eyes enough to look at Mei’s back.

“I don’t know, I honestly didn’t think about it. But I don’t care what happens after, so long as I win and bring honor to my clan.” Mei Feng swore, the wind graced through the mountains to the point that the natural acoustics created a sort of song that beckoned all who could hear it, to bask in nature’s splendor.

“If that’s the case, would like to go somewhere afterwards?”

Mei turned to face Beren, now sitting with his legs crossed on the floor of the balcony. His eyes blue eyes seemed to gaze into the very essence and soul of the female warrior of the Crimson Rose clan, he was honest and serious. She returned with a gaze of her own, searching for any meaning and purpose behind the question. A measure of hope seemed to glisten within her eyes, before duty returned and the lights fell dark once again. Hope was snuffed out once again, replaced with solitude and flames.

“I have a duty to my clan, right now I can only focus on the path before me. That includes the tournament, and anyone who stands in my way.” She replied coldly. After a moment, she gathered herself and walked from the balcony, leaving a silent Beren as he watched her depart. He made a silent vow before he gathered himself and left as well. The day had only started, the tranquil greeting would soon shift as emissaries from the other clans were due to arrive today. By week’s end, much blood will be spilled and the pride of many will be tested and shattered.

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