Tian-jiao looked up at the manor and felt tears welling up. This was her ancestral home. It was from here that first her grandfather, then her father had ruled, wielding the kind of power that kings and emperors would have envied. Their reigns had been glorious, bringing peace and enlightenment to a savage world. Tian-jiao drew a deep breath then let it out slowly, calming her beating heart and clearing her mind. Hearing the same breath being drawn and released, she turned to look at her sister. At eighteen years Xiao-qing was two years her senior. Her stature was tall and slim, just like their father. Her face was attractive if a bit stern, her brows thin and delicate and her eyes sharp.

In contrast Tian-jiao took after their mother, being of middling height and having a fuller figure despite her young age. She too was attractive, yet unlike her sister her eyes were soft and her smile inviting, provoking a protective instinct in all who looked upon her. Reaching out Tian-jiao took her sisters hand. Xiao-qing smiled dotingly at her younger sister and together the walked up the stone steps. The great doors were open and well maintained showing that the servants had not been derelict in their duty, despite the long absence of their master. As the sisters crossed the threshold, a stooped figure appeared before them.

The crooked old man looked up at the young women:

May I help you, young ladies?

Tian-jiao reached into her pocket and pulled out a circular white jade medallion. A coiling dragon had been carved around the edge and in the centre was engraved the character Rong (蓉). Seeing the medallion the old man bowed even deeper, until his face was parallel with the floor. Quickly he beckoned the sisters to follow him as he lead them inside, taken care to keep to his submissive, almost grovelling posture. Swiftly he lead them through the manor until they came to the Grand Hall. Large enough to accommodate a hundred occupants, the Hall was tastefully decorated with calligraphy, vases and bonsai trees.

A long blue carpet decorated with golden dragons stretched across the marble floor leading up to the raised dais at the far end of the Hall. On the dais was the sculpture of a pair of intertwined dragons, made of gold and rising to chest height. Between the heads of the rearing dragons was planted a sword. A two handed iron hilt jutted out of the sculpture, flowing down into a guard made from a single crystal the size of a large mans fist. The three inches of the blade that could be seen caught the light of the golden dragons and glowed like captured fire. The old man discretely left the Hall, leaving the sisters alone.

At a dignified pace they crossed the Hall, walking with heads held high until the reached the foot of the dais, where they fell to their knees. Cupping their right fists with their left palms the sisters saluted the sword:

Rong Xiao-qing.

Rong Tian-jiao

Pays our respect to the Heaven Dragon Sword they said together.

With proper etiquette observed the sisters rose to their feet. Reverently Tian-jiao stepped onto the dais and stood before the sword. Tentatively she reached for the hilt, then pulled her fingers back and turned to look uncertainly at her sister. Xiao-qing smiled and nodded, heartening her sister. Tian-jiao turned back to the sword. Steeling her heart she reached out and grasped the iron hilt. Storm-clouds swirled in the sky above the manor and thunder roared out like an awakening dragon. The shock of a thousand thunderbolts rang through Tian-jiaos body as she wrestled with the power of the mighty blade.

Gritting her teeth she pushed past the pain and with one decisive yank she drew the sword, holding it high above her head. Golden lightning flooded the Hall, almost blinding in its intensity, forcing Xiao-qing the shield her eyes. Yet even behind her closed eyelids she could still feel the light. After several heartbeats the blinding light finally subsided and Xiao-qing slowly opened her eyes. Her sister stood on the dais, still holding the Dragon Sword, while lightning crackled along its blade. Holding the divine blade, Tian-jiao appeared almost godlike and without thinking Xiao-qing dropped to her knees greeting the new ruler of the land.


As the Dragon Sword was awaken, a clawed Warlord in the north shuddered with apprehension, his dusty red hair standing on its end. In the west a silver-haired sorcerer looked to the heavens and smiled wickedly. Deep in a dark forest a golden axe glowed with demonic fire. A fisherman dragged in his net and saw something shine brightly amongst the fishes. Opening the net he reached in a pulled out a bejewelled sword fit for an emperor. In this one moment, two decades of peace was finally shattered.