Continued from Part three

Where the ones that had brought her the kimono were the type of Khan she had become all too familiar with since coming to San Francisco, these two she did not immediately realize were Shadowkhan. There was nothing ninja about these two, only the red eyes and black color scheme announced them to be Shadowkhan. Rather than the ninja robes she was used to they were encased in black armor, their heads and faces covered better than the normal Khan by stylized helmets. Noticing the swords that hung sheathed at their belts it clicked in Jade’s head.

Samurai, duh! What’s the one thing as Japanese as a ninja? The Japanese version of knights in shining armor; or in this case eerily dark spooky armor, the samurai.” Jade lectured herself internally.

Without a word, the two stood to each side of the door and bowed deeply as the other two had, apparently waiting. To Jade, the gesture was as blunt as could be. The two wanted her to go with them. Jade was hesitant to do so, but there was little choice. As far as she knew, if she did not go peacefully and willingly, they would take her by force, and she had little doubt that they could get away with it to. So, she simply nodded, and without a single word the two lead the way.

Jade's slippered feet moved in barely a whisper as the two Samurai-Khan led the way out of the bedroom, their heavy boots chinking on the wooden floor and into a smaller circular room. To one side, Jade could clearly see what looked like a stairwell to lower floors, and she remembered that she was at the very top of a rather large and impressive tower. But it seemed that the stairway was not their route, for instead the two Samurai lead her to a strange object in the middle of the room, looking by all means like a gazebo of sorts between a set of four pillar's. At the top of it, Jade could clearly see a thick heavy chain connected to it that hung from a hole in the ceiling. As she was lead on and into the gazebo-like thing, she noticed that it was on rails of sorts that were attached to the inside of each pillar.

As Jade tried to figure out what it was and why they were on it, the floor suddenly shifted, and the chain rattled and clank as the small gazebo they were in started to lower itself through a previously hidden hole in the floor. After taking a moment for it to register, she felt like slapping herself silly for not realizing what it was sooner and resisted the urge to groan out loud.

Well duh Jade, it’s just a elevator! How dense do you have to be? It might be a pretty old kind, more like one of those dumb-waiter things, but it’s still an elevator.

Jade watched the floors pass by as the elevator slowly picked up speed, till it was going at a fairly decent rate downwards and to what she assumed was the ground floor. As it did, she paid careful attention to whatever details she could catch. The very first floor she saw, the one right below the room where she had woken up, had a heavy armored door with the kanji 護 painted on its steel front in red paint. Jade was actually surprised when she discovered she not only spoke and understood the Japanese language perfectly, but could now read it as well. When before she would have no idea, she was now clearly able to read it as the word “Guard” printed boldly. As the floor with the armored door passed up and away from sight, another came into view, this one as well with a door labeled with a kanji, and all the floors and doors after it, each with their own circular room like the one outside the bedroom as well as a set of stairs leading down from the previous floor.

By the time the elevator reached what she guessed to be the ground floor, Jade had counted somewhere around 6 or so floors, each with their labeled doors, except for the very last one which had no label at all. Instead, it had a massive lock built into it, and was almost as heavily armored as the first door she had seen. She had also noticed the two Samurai escorting her tense up for a moment as they passed they door, as if in preparations for something that might happen. As the elevator came to a creaking rattling halt, Jade went over to the doors she had seen and their separate kanji in her mind.

The second door had the kanji for “Contemplation”, 瞑, painted on in gentle flowing strokes unlike the bold slashes that made up the one on the first door. The door itself was also different, made out of thick heavy wood and set on rails so it could be rolled to one side. The third floor had the kanji for the word “Create”, 創, printed on its door and was made like the traditional sliding paper doors that she knew. The fourth floor was actually more then just that, since she did not see any other floors for almost a whole levels worth, so she guessed that the fourth floor with its kanji for “Understanding”, 悟, took up a total of two floors and not just one. Finally, there was the locked and unlabeled door.

Jade's train of thought was derailed before she could finish though, as her escorts stepped off the elevator and into the same circular room as before on all the other floors, and opened a large set of unmarked double doors and stepped to each side to presumably allow her to pass first. Following her instincts, she gave both of them a small nod of her head and passed through, finding herself in a large open hall. To either side of her, there was a set of stairs heading up and joining together to make a landing right above her head. She presumed the door connected to the stairs leading up, since she had not seen a staircase in the elevator room. Jade waited for a moment as the two samurai stepped from their positions in the elevator and to just beside and slightly in front of her. The two resumed their pace, and Jade once again followed.

They lead her across the hall, and to the set of even larger double doors set at the opposite end. With a gulp, Jade watched as they pushed open the doors and sunlight streamed inside.

::A Short Time Later::

Jade let out a quiet and relived sigh as she sat in a small and comfortable room inside the keep. She had been honestly surprised she had not passed out from the tension or fear as she walked down that path from the tower. The courtyard and garden that made up the tower grounds had been nice, very pretty even, all the different flowers and trees arranged in eye-pleasing patterns. There had even been a nice-looking spot to relax, in the form of a large bench under a shady Sakura tree. She had even seen a few fruit trees scattered throughout the garden, that she wanted to sneak a few fruit from if she ever got the chance.

But the path to the keep, that had been a different matter all together. A single paved path of stone, surrounded on both sides by high walls. On the way down, she could see arrow slits every few feet in the wall, ready for someone to rain death and pain on anyone below. Then there were the guard posts. Towers of stone and wood were spread out along the wall, and at the top of each was a sentry like she had seen earlier. But now, she could see them up close, and could tell that they were the same samurai Shadowkhan as the ones escorting her with the exception that instead of swords, they each carried some sort of longbow instead.

Normally, the experience would not be so chilling for her, but with all the stress and up's and down's she has been on ever since she woke up Jade had to admit she was a mess. The adventures with her Uncles were a constant thrill ride, and that is part of why she loved living with them. Before her life was just plain and simple, and no way for her to really “Express herself”as one of the counselors back at her old school in Hong Kong said. She had just settled for the idea that her life was completely boring.

But that said she was used to just a constant adrenaline rush and the thrill that came with her newer lifestyle. All this emotional stress was just something over her head. All this crying and breakdowns made her feel like some little girl who lost her safety blanket.

“Well, no more of that. So what if I'm in some freaky place by myself? I've gotten outta worse, or Jackie’s gotten me out. I'll just save myself this time, and then find Jackie and Uncle.”

With typical Jade-mindset restored and fully functional again, she decided that she would resume her quest for clues to her situation and look around. But after a moment, she realized that there was not really much to look around at in her current settings.

“You know, now that I think about it, this reminds me of a waiting room. That is, if someone made a waiting room for an emperor. Sure it looks nice, but still pretty barren and Spartan. Kind of like the bedroom, except it had some kind of decoration.”

And to be almost painfully blunt, she was right. The room was glaringly bare of almost any form of decoration. A soft Tatami-mat floor played host to a small collection of cushions surrounding another low-slung table. The walls were bare, and were wood with paper screens placed in front except for one rather large paper screen opposite the way she came in. That one was very thick, and she could barely make out flickering lamplight from the other side. Jade could almost swear she heard soft conversation coming from the other side as well, but it just might have been a breeze on the paper screen and ignored it for the moment and continued to look around.

Finally, she noticed something that actually stood out from the rest of the room, if barely. It was a small cabinet, made of black wood, or at least painted as such, with gold trimmings and tucked away in a corner. To Jade, it looked somewhat haunting in a sense. In the back of her mind, she could feel a niggling feeling of sorts, a growing curiosity to open it up and see what was inside. And of course, Jade being Jade, she did not even bother resisting it. With a wary look at the door she had entered through and the paper-screen opposing it, she stood up and approached it with a mix of apprehension and intrigue with the back burner thought of how the hell she had been walking in this kimono and not fallen on her face.

With a final look at both entrances to the room to make sure she was alone and no one was watching her, she opened up the cabinet and stared in wonder at what was inside.

It looked like some sort long and fuzzy red scarf laid on some sort of small pedestal. Kinda like the boas warn by those fancy movie stars now and then. What was really drawing her attention were the little balls of multi-hued suspended fire that were in the cabinet with it. The little spheres of rainbow flames floated about like bubbles, and glowed with a cheery light. But for some strange reason, Jade had the feeling that they were not so cheery lingering in her mind. Above all else, was Jade’s curiosity as to why the cabinet or the scarf weren't burning. She watched as a few fireballs brushed by the scarf and rubbed up on the cabinet’s walls, and yet nothing happened. At first Jade would guess that even through it was wood, it was somehow treated against fire but the scarf was a different matter. It was clearly made of some sort of fur or fuzzy fabric. With a tentative hand, she reached out for a passing blue fireball and almost gasped when she touched it.

"It’s… it’s cold. And kinda ticklish."

And indeed, the little blue fireball was just that. At first she was shocked, expecting it have been warm and perhaps burn her finger when it drew close, but instead it was cold like a ice-cube. Slowly, she cupped it in both hands and drew the glowing ball of cold fire out, and let out a small smile and childish giggle as it tickled her palms and fingertips. After admiring it for a moment, she placed it back with its brother fireballs with her question answered and turned her attention to the scarf instead. With a gentle hand, she picked it up from its resting place only to recoil in shock and almost drop it. Instead, she quickly set it back down and held her hands close to her chest while shooting the scarf a distrusting look and grumbling to herself.

"Ow! Stupid scarf! What was that for?! Giving me a static shock."

Once the numbness wore off, Jade examined her hands to make sure the thing had not actually poked her or something. After she was sure she was not bleeding or been pricked by something, she turned her attentions back to the scarf. This time, she just settled to idly poking it. After she was sure it was not going to shock her again, she carefully picked it up and was actually able to admire it. With one hand holding it, she ran the other over its length.

"Whoa, it’s so soft, and really fuzzy. Why would anyone put a nice scarf like this inside such a dank little cabinet with all those little fireballs? Is it magical or something? It really doesn't look magical, or really feel like it and it hasn't done anything except shock me. I wonder what its made of, it feel's like some sort of fur. And what’s this thing over here? A white tip? Where have I seen something like this before? I could swear I've seen something like this before at school, but what?"

And while Jade pondered and tried to dredge up the memory, she continued examine the strange scarf until she found something else strange. At the other end of the scarf, there was little knob made of some sort of hard white stuff. She idly rubbed her thumb over it, feeling the porous surface of it and totally confused. Confused, until she noticed how strangely rigid the scarf was, like there was something inside the scarf. That’s when one memory of school came to the front, one concerning a guest speaker from a wildlife preserve and how she even brought one of the animals from the preserve with her to show to the students. It had been a cute little fox, with a beautiful red coat and a lusciously long tail with a white tip at the end.

"This isn't a scarf… it’s some animal's TAIL!"

References

Joō Heika: A very formal way to refer to an emperor or empress, or other forms of rulers in Japan.

Dono: A formal way to address someone of equal status or rank without being overly formal.

Ika: A Japanese word for Squid

Yojimbo: Japanese word for someone who is a bodyguard

Buke: Another word for samurai

Senpai: A formal way to address those superior to you in rank without being overly formal.

Reza: Japanese word for razor


A/N: Hope you enjoyed this first Foray into the little regarded Jackie Chan Adventures Fandom, but I though that the series needed some Love. Its been a few years since its last appearance on TV, but I still remember it well. This Epic first Chapter ends now with four parts an 11k words. Just don't expect the rest to be so long. Anyways, R/R! and go out there and do something revolutionary :D

Nocturne No Kitsune,

Signing Off.