Demon of Wind

Chapter 14 -Doubt

Rai looked at the temple from his vantage point from the top of the Shen Gong Wu vault also known as the entrance to what had been home sweet home for the last 1500 years. How much had changed in that time? Rai had been actively trying to find that out and yet was certain that he hadn't even finished grazing the surface.

How much had stayed the same? That was a question that he was afraid to answer.

Rai looked at the horizon. Dusk was ending and only a sliver of the sun remained. Seven times since Hannibal Bean had 'warned' Rai of the dangers had Rai stood out and watched the sun set and each time brought a stronger urge to run off in to it.

Rai sighed; it wasn't that he didn't trust the temple, it was, well…ok he didn't trust the temple. He had promised himself that he wouldn't listen to that garbage spouting vegetable but the more he tried to see reasons to trust his safety here at the temple, the more reasons he found to doubt it.

First on the list would be the temple monks but the fact of the matter was that despite them being so heck bent on getting rid of Rai, they were doing a lousy job at it. In the last seven days Rai had seen them try scroll magic, chants, incense, painted symbols, garlic, mushrooms; they even covered the floor with blessed lotus petals. The ultimate low point for them though would have to have been when Master Gao tried to chase Rai away with bamboo cane that was 'said' to have been blessed by seven of the greatest chi-wizards of the Xia Dynasty.


Be gone, vile demon!" Master Gao shouted, holding the bamboo cane above his head, "be gone!"

Rai just stood there, making no effort to hide his amusement.

"I said be gone!"

Master Gao whacked Rai across the face with the cane. Master Gao then lifted the bamboo cane in triumph.

"I have done it! I have banished the demon!"

"Ahem."

Master Gao looked down to see Rai standing exactly where he had been before, only difference being that there was a red line across Rai's face and he was definitely no longer amused.

"Eep!"



Rai smirked, that had been the day Master Gao learned a valuable lesson about not trusting something that was bought from the same guy selling the genuine engraved sword of "Attila the Hut".

No, the monks weren't a problem. He knew they didn't want him there so nothing they did would be unexpected. If by some miracle they found a method to get rid him that would actually work, he'd be long gone before they could use it. The real problems were the Wudai Warriors.

They said that Rai could stay, but then he walked in on them holding magic, demon-killing scrolls. Rai didn't rule out the possibility that they were telling the truth but there was a reason why Rai had been able to survive this long. When all was said and done, they were only human, about as bound to their word as Rai was. And even if only one of them decided to turn, the rest would undoubtedly side with that one out of loyalty.

The question would have to be who was most likely to turn. Well, first on the Wudai roster was the Dragon of Earth. Rai had to admit that he was starting like Clay but his loyalty was only to the Wudai warriors and to Master Fung. If he thought that Rai was a danger to either, he would snap him like a toothpick. If Clay had just been a musclehead Rai wouldn't have been worried but Rai was starting to see that Clay was smarter than he appeared. The sheer fact that he was able to dress himself in the morning was proof of that. What was making Rai more nervous was the fact Clay was poking round trying to find out more about who Rai was.

Sure, he wasn't asking Rai directly but he was questioning others in the temple, including Dojo. Rai almost felt sorry for Clay considering that, through myths and rumours, Rai was claimed to have been the offspring of probably every wind monster, demon and deity of the era, except Feng Po Po.

The chances of him finding factual information was slim to none, but if Clay found answers that he didn't like, then Rai could be in trouble.

Next on the list was Kimiko. Rai felt a lead weight drop into his stomach. He didn't like the idea of having to think of her as a threat but it was impossible to not think of her as one. She knew too much about Rai and Rai was letting her get too close.

Yes, she was the one that released him; yes, she did try to make him feel welcome and yes, she did have a lovely pair…of eyes, but that didn't mean that Rai could let his guard down.

Especially after what happened a few days ago.


Rai walked up to Kimiko who was working on the computer.

"Hey there," Rai said.

Kimiko jumped and quickly closed the windows that had been open her computer.

"What are you up to?" Rai asked.

"Oh nothing," Kimiko said quickly, "checking email, shopping online…you know…girl stuff. Well look at the time! I better go do…whatever it is I'm meant to do this time of day."

Kimiko ran off before Rai could ask her any further questions.

After she was completely out of sight Rai sat in front of the computer.

"Alright," Rai muttered, "time to see if that guide to computers was of any use."

Rai opened Kimiko's internet browser, went to history and changed the view setting to order visited today. The first five websites got Rai's attention.

Defeating the inner demon

Overcoming the demon

Cleanse demonic influence now

The nature of demons and how to destroy them

Purifying the demons in our lives

...

...

Eep!


Rai yet again knew that this was all open to interpretation, but nature had a way of killing off the stupid ones; them, and the puny ones, which brought to mind the final problem; Omi.
Sure the little guy had saved Rai both from Chase and from Wuya but that didn't mean he fully trusted him. Being indebted to the small warrior wasn't enough to make him overlook a certain detail brought up in a recent sparring match.

Come on Cheeseball," Rai taunted as he dodged a leg sweep by jumping into a tree, "you're going to have to do better than that."
"I will be victorious," Omi claimed.
"Yeah, not happening," Rai said as he climbed up further into the tree and out of sight.
Omi leapt into the tree to chase only to be introduced to Rai's foot. Omi flew out of the tree and land on the ground in daze. As he started to regain focus, Rai leapt of the tree, ready to pounce.
"Repulse the monkey!"


That move was a Chase Young special and, from what Rai had found out, Chase hadn't been on the Xiaolin for a long time; how would Omi know that move? And if he had learnt it from Chase, why would Omi betray him?
When Rai was brought to present he looked down to see Omi walking to the vault, carrying a bunch of Wu.
"Hey Omi," Rai said as he jumped down.
"ARGH!"
Omi shout and threw the Wu up in fright. He turned to and saw who it was.
"Oh, it is only you Rai," Omi said, "I knew that."

"Of course you did," Rai replied as he helped Omi pick up the Wu.

Once the Wu had been picked up, Rai handed them back to Omi and went to open the door for him.

"Ok I've been meaning to ask you," Rai said once they were in the vault, "where did you learn 'repulse the monkey'?"

Omi shot a questioning glance towards Rai but still chose to answer.

"Chase Young taught it to me," Omi explained. "Back when I was a Xiaolin apprentice, an evil spirit took hold of Clay. In our search to find Clay, he came to me and taught me a few lessons that proved valuable to stopping the spirit and rescuing Clay."

"And where does him now being part of the demon club fit into this?"

"We later learned that he was seeking to take me as his apprentice," Omi said. "He succeeded for short while but then my friends rescued me."

Rai just nodded his head to acknowledge that he had heard what Omi said.

"I know that, as a Xiaolin warrior, I should not use a technique created by the Heylin side," Omi continued, "but it is one that has never failed me and it does not feel as evil as others he has taught me."

"That's because it's not a Heylin technique."

"Come again?"

"Chase invented that move back when we were fighting," Rai explained. "I know that because I was the first guy he used it on."

"Amazing," Omi said in awe, "inventing such a powerful technique at such an early stage."

"Yeah," Rai said almost dismissively, "he was pretty good."

Omi's awed expression suddenly turned grim.

"And yet he turned evil," Omi said.

Rai raised an eyebrow.

"Look I appreciate the honesty, the bi-polarism not so much."

"I was merely thinking," Omi said, "Chase Young had been one of the greatest Xiaolin Warriors and yet he chose to drink the Lao Mang Lone Soup and become evil. If someone like him can become corrupted what hope is there for the rest of us?"

"Hope?" Rai asked. "Kid, hope is overrated. I spent nearly all my demonic life with the only thing I could hope for was to be alive to see the next sunrise. Humans are a lot of things, but the one thing that's for certain is that they choose what they are. If Chase chose to become a demon, then he wasn't that 'pure' to begin with. If a person decides to be a monster, they have no to blame but themselves."

Omi stared at Rai, not sure how to respond.

"So I suggest you quit worrying about what Chase chose and just focus about what you choose to be," Rai finished as he started to walk away.

Omi gave small nod as he started to enter the vault.

"Hey, Omi."

Omi turned back to see that Rai had stopped walking.

"You know back at the clearing, when Chase told you to step aside," Rai said, "if the Chase I knew had been your position, he would have just let me die."

Omi took a moment to process that simple but meaningful statement.

"You did not have to tell me that," Omi said finally, "but I am glad that you did."


The child ran through the forest as fast as he could. He stung from the branches slapping in his face, his ankles hurt, and his lungs burned, but he didn't dare to slow down. Blood flowed from the wound where the arrow had grazed trickled down his chest. Behind him he heard,

"Stop the demon, it must not be allowed to escape."

As he ran, he risked a single glance back, the same question repeating in his mind.

Why?

He looked back forward, but not in time to stop himself as he ran off the cliff


Rai shot forward, holding his knife out against an invisible enemy. As his vision cleared he remembered where he was; in the temple, hiding in a dark corner, having on of his nightly naps. He stood up, put the knife away and walked to a nearby bath room. When he was there, he caught some water into his cupped hands and splashed and splashed it into his face. He let out a shiver.

"It's been a while since I've had that dream," Rai muttered to him self

It's also been a while since you've done something this stupid.

Rai looked up into the mirror and, instead of seeing his reflection, a pair of silver eyes stared back at him.

"Oh great," Rai said. "Now I've got to listen to you."

If you listened to me more often, we wouldn't get into messes like this. You're letting your guard down again. This won't end well and you know it.

"Shut it," Rai said. "You lost your say in my life a long time ago."

Just because you don't like what I'm saying doesn't mean that it isn't true.

"It's not true, these people are different, this my first chance at having a home in a long time and I'm not going to let you ruin it."

Me ruin it? I'm what kept you alive for this long.

"And what a glorious life it has been," Rai said mockingly.

Oh yes, why not blame me? The voice said sarcastically, because I'm the one who has made people hunt you…and that priestess betray you.

"Shut up," Rai warned.

You actually believed her, didn't you? All those honey words about how she would protect you and find a way to cure you. You believed her and walked right into a trap. Tell me, what was it? Her sweet voice, her gentle touch, her kind eyes, the whispered promises, the soothing magic or the fact that she was the first person in a long time that didn't try to kill you on the spot.

"This time is different," Rai said. "I'll make it different."

Rai, you can't make this any different because you can not make yourself any different from what you are. You are a demon, you don't feel kindness or compassion from others, shelter or security, you don't even feel the sun's warm rays. You are a freak and because of what you are, every human is your enemy, including those in this temple.

Rai gripped the sides of the basin tightly.

Give up this foolish charade. You can not change what you are so embrace it.

"You're wrong, this temple isn't the enemy, you are," Rai said, "for as long as you've been here, you've told me to embrace this, to accept it and be what the people called me but all that has ever brought me was more pain. I am through with listening to you, I can't change what I am but I can change who I am. The world has changed and so will I."

The eyes in the mirror vanished.

Rai let out a breath before turning to the sound of a polite cough. Standing nearby was Master Fung.

"Uh hi," Rai said awkwardly. "How long have you been standing there?"

"I am not sure. I don't usually bother to time myself."

"Ok, and how much did you see?"

"Nothing that can not be discredited as the delusion of old age," Master Fung replied.

Following a brief awkward silence, Rai decided to continue the conversation.

"So are you up for a reason or did you decide to try to beat me in creepiness? Because if that's the case I could always tell you a tale involving a moronically curious monkey and some misplaced…"

"That won't be necessary," Master Fung interjected, having a slight tinge of fear in his voice. "I was unable to sleep so I decided to do a late-night spiritual cleanse."

"And what's that?" Rai asked, pointing to the bowl Master Fung was holding.

"Chocolate ice cream," Master Fung said. "Even Masters can indulge once in a while, and I find it helps the cleansing."

Rai just stared at Master Fung.

"Would you like some?" Master Fung asked. "I've brought two bowls."

Rai looked at Master Fung's hand where another bowl seemed to have materialised.

"Um…ok," Rai said, not entirely sure what "chocolate ice cream" was.

After following Master Fung to a small room, they both sat down by a table and started to eat. Rai took time to savour the taste of this strange new food. Master Fung decided to break the silence.

"You know, I have done some research," Master Fung said.

"Really?"

"Yes, and I can only hope that the incident with the emperor's daughter was blown out of proportion."

Rai muttered something before returning to his ice cream.

"There is something I've been meaning to ask you," Master Fung said. "How are you finding your stay?"

"Great! Perfect! Never better!" Rai said, being a tad too cheerful.

Master Fung raised an eyebrow.

"So there is nothing wrong?"

"Of course not! Why would you think that? Absolutely nothing wrong! Zip! Nada! Nothing!"

"The demon doth protest too much, methinks."

Rai looked confused.

"What bar tab was Confucius on when he said that?"

"Never mind," Master Fung grumbled as he realised that his wit was lost on the young demon.

Rai fidgeted as he tried to find the right way to ask his next question.

"Master Fung, I've got to ask you something. Why did you trust me?"

"What do you mean?"

"Look at me. I'm a demon, I worked for Wuya, and just now you walked in on me picking a fight with a mirror. How do you know I won't stab you guys in the back the first chance I get?"

"I don't," Master Fung said, "but my instincts told me that you wouldn't."

"So that's it?" Rai asked. "You trust me solely on your instincts?"

"Well not instincts alone. I also had faith in the potential value you might find in my lessons."

"So you believe my loyalty to the temple will remain so long as I have something to lose?"

"No but I believe that it is the foundation that loyalty and trust can be built on."

"I'm not sure I'm following you."

Master Fung took in a deep breath.

"True loyalty will only exist if you value each other by more than merely what each person stands to lose or gain. However trust needs to start somewhere. If you do not feel certain about your place here, perhaps it is because you believe that there is nothing that we will lose if we betray you."

"Well is there anything that the temple will lose?" Rai asked. "I mean no offence, but it's not like it's considered hypocrisy to change the rules when demons are involved. I'm trying my best to trust this temple but…"

Rai trailed off, realising he was probably digging himself into a hole.

"You have had no reason to trust the Xiaolin side before, or even humans in general," Master Fung finished.

Rai nodded. Master Fung smiled kindly as he put a hand on Rai's shoulder.

"Despite this you have remained here in the temple for a week already," Master Fung said. "That proves that you are earnest about staying and trying to trust us."

"Well, yeah," Rai conceded, "but that doesn't help me."

"Well then, the only suggestion I can offer is that you take to the time to think and reflect on what you can offer this temple."

"You mean like more money?"

"No," Master Fung said. "It should be something that you alone can offer this temple that is unique to you."

"Unique to me?" Rai asked. "Hm, not really sure."

Rai stuck his stuck is spoon into the bowl and heard a hollow clink. He looked down and saw that it was empty. Rai sighed sadly.

"Face it, aside from my wind powers, fighting skills and exceptionally good looks I have about as much to offer as this bowl."

Master Fung smiled kindly as he stood up.

"Well in that case, you have a lot to offer."

Master Fung stood up and walked over to a confused Rai. He then took the bowl from Rai and stood it on its side.

"You can look at this bowl and say that it's empty and thus say that it holds no value or…"

He spun the bowl. Rai watched the bowl spinning, almost mesmerized at how effortlessly it was spinning on its side.

"…you can open your mind to the possibilities and see its true potential."

The bowl slowed down and finally landed up right, suddenly filled again with chocolate ice cream. Rai stared in sheer awe.

"Man, you've got to teach me that. Though chances are I'm going to look up and see that you've van…"

Rai looked up and saw that Master Fung was gone.

"…nished."

Rai shrugged as he picked up the bowl. He started looking around the room in hopes of finding an answer.

Open my mind to the possibilities.

Find some unique value.

Open my mind to the possibilities.

Find some unique value.

Open my mind to the possibilities.

Find some unique value.

Open my mind to the possibilities.

Lose focus and forget what I'm looking for.

Rinse, lather and repeat

Rai's gaze finally fell onto a bookcase in the corner of the room.

Well not much but it's the most interesting thing in this room so I'll just stare at it until I get an epiphany. Though I can't believe how much of a library this place is. Who'd have thought that a place founded by Dashi would place such value on bo…whoa…there we go!

Having found an answer Rai stood up and started to run out of the room, he then ran back to the return to his half eaten ice cream.

Epiphanies can wait for morning; ice cream can't.


Author's note : The Xia Dynasty of China, dated between 2100 BC–1600 BC, is the first dynasty to be described in ancient historical records such as Records of the Grand Historian and Bamboo Annals. Though there is disagreement pertaining to the actual existence of the dynasty, there is archaeological evidence which points to its possible existence.

Feng Po Po is a Chinese Wind deity. She was depicted as an old woman riding a tiger. She was specifically in charge of gentle breezes and when they weren't loose, she would store them in her magic bag.

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