1996 Fight Me
“Living is hard, and life is grey.”
This time, Han Sen had to acknowledge the fact that he had done something to harm another person that would not benefit himself. He had broken a dam that restrained the turmoil and pain of a thousand lifetimes. It had unleashed a demon.
The students beyond the arena were protected by the elites, so Lone Bamboo’s emotions were trapped inside the arena. And in that arena, only Lone Bamboo and Han Sen stood against that tide of pain. The wretched emotions stemming from Lone Bamboo were all bearing down on Han Sen.
Han Sen felt as if his life was grey, desperate, painful, sad, and full of regret. All these emotions were striking him at once. No matter how strong his will was, he could not fend them all off.
A pretty young bride stepped out of a red carriage. She was to marry a handsome man, but during the ceremony, a group of thieves stormed in. The knifelights flashed, and blood was everywhere. Obscene laughs cackled in the air. The pretty bride-to-be was raped to death in front of her husband.
In this life, Lone Bamboo died without closing his eyes.
In a forest, a mother tiger was playing with two cubs. But suddenly, there was a gunshot. The mother tiger was hit by a tranquilizer and immobilized. She watched as her two children were skinned and cooked. The hunters ate them, until the last scraps of them were gone. The tiger’s eyes shed blood tears.
In this life, Lone Bamboo would have rather died.
In the sky, a swordsman was fighting a number of enemies. He killed many, but he was injured. He was left powerless, and he would soon die from his wounds.
A middle-aged man, holding a young woman, looked at the swordsman with disdain. He laughed. “Lone Bamboo, just die. I will play with your woman and tend to your home. Perhaps I might kill your son, though.”
The swordsman roared in fury, but death was not something he could escape. He died beneath the man’s feet, without the strength to even grasp at his clothes.
Every dream was a loop of despair. Every life had lived, rich or poor, important or menial, ended sadly.
Lone Bamboo’s despair was driving Han Sen crazy. The depression lay heavily on Han Sen as he saw the strife Lone Bamboo had been through.
Although he didn’t have to experience all of Lone Bamboo’s nightmares, he saw the saddest scenes in Lone Bamboo’s memory. They were sent directly into Han Sen’s mind, and they made Han Sen feel as if he was right there.
Han Sen wanted to use his will to defeat the encroaching depression, but it was too scary. He could not hold it off. He was forced to experience all those sad stories, and they hurt him. He wanted to die.
Han Sen quickly focused on trying to fight against the depression with Lone Bamboo.
In that arena, Lone Bamboo and Han Sen were standing in front of each other. Lone Bamboo looked like a demon, and Han Sen had his eyes shut, with all color drained from his face.
The quiet now was scarier than if they were having a swordfight. Lone Bamboo’s terrifying presence was growing in magnitude. It was like a broken dam that could not hold back the flood.
Lone Bamboo looked hopeless, as if he wanted to bring ruin to everything. His hand moved to the jade sword on his waist.
“Oh, no! Lone Bamboo can’t restrain it anymore,” Yun Changkong said, looking sick.
The elders of Sky Palace arrived at the arena. They all stared down at Lone Bamboo seriously.
The sadness and loneliness of thousands of years was something that not even a King could withstand. Even the leader of Sky Palace himself could not fix something such as this. All they could do was watch, for they could not help him.
If you were sick in your heart, you had to help yourself. If Lone Bamboo could not do this, not even God could save him.
Han Sen was not any better than Lone Bamboo, and now he was fighting against that depression. His will was being consumed by the hollowness spreading through him.
No matter how strong a human was, everyone had some measure of empathy. The lives Han Sen was seeing would make even a god cry. And Han Sen was just a human.
Han Sen’s eyes were starting to become dull, and his body felt like death.
“Oh, no! Han Sen has been invaded by Lone Bamboo’s demon.” Thousand Feather Crane could see something was amiss. He spoke to Yun Changkong, “Master, should we take Han Sen out of there?”
“Han Sen cannot be moved now. He is the one that triggered Lone Bamboo’s depression. His presence is helping Lone Bamboo. He still wants to win. If Han Sen was taken away, then Lone Bamboo would lose his purpose. He would break completely, and then there’d be no hope left,” Yun Changkong said while shaking his head.
Lone Bamboo’s eyes looked murderous, and his face looked demonic. His breathing was hoarse. The green veins in his hand were bulging, stretching the skin. He pulled out his jade sword slowly. The jade sword was like a mountain.
In Sky Palace, a woman frowned.
“Leader, Lone Bamboo cannot control his demon. Are you not going to help?”
The Sky Palace leader shook his head. “If we strike now, we will only save a corpse. He has to save himself.”
“The demon is in his heart. How is he going to save himself?” the lady said.
“If his will is there, he still has a chance to get through this alive,” the Sky Palace leader said quietly.
“Where will he find the faith he needs?” the lady asked.
The Sky Palace leader did not answer. He looked at the arena, where Han Sen and Lone Bamboo were.
Lone Bamboo had drawn a jade sword. It was a clean blade, without a single mark or speck of dust on its surface. But the jade sword had a terrifying aura, as if it was carrying all the fires of hell.
Then, under the weight of the depression, Lone Bamboo’s whole body became wreathed in black fire. The fire was disturbing to look at.
Lone Bamboo lifted the jade sword towards Han Sen. He walked slowly, his lips moving as he went. He was speaking too quietly for anyone to hear what he was saying, though.
“Has Lone Bamboo fallen fully under the control of the demon?” Thousand Feather Crane asked.
Many of the elites and elders thought Lone Bamboo was being controlled by the heart demon. It wanted to unleash its anger and kill Han Sen. Their expressions looked horrified.
The Sky Palace students saw Lone Bamboo reach Han Sen. He was like a man-eating demon. It was a sight that shocked them.
Han Sen stood motionless, his eyes still closed. It was like he didn’t know Lone Bamboo was coming. His face turned grey, and his presence was fading fast.
All the nightmares kept flashing through his head. He had been infected by them. Although they were not as real to him as they were for Lone Bamboo, they were deep in his heart.
Lone Bamboo stepped over to Han Sen with red eyes. He raised his sword and swung it at Han Sen.
Yun Suyi screamed.
Yun Changkong and the elders were now wondering if they should save Han Sen.
But Lone Bamboo’s sword did not reach Han Sen. He pointed it at Han Sen’s nose, and then he roared like a monster. “Fight me!”
“He is not lost!” the crowd realized, thrilled.
Han Sen’s eyes opened, and he grabbed his Ghost Teeth Knife.