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Romance of the Jade Empire: The Dragon and the Goddess

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In the spring of the year 224, led by the warlock and prophet Malzahar, followers of the religious order known as The Dragon from Beyond joined the ranks of other peasant rebellions across the land, in response to the decadence and corruption of the warring kingdoms. The Dragon from Beyond grew infamous in the kidnapping of the Lunar Empress, Luxanna. Their presence hidden from the great guardians of the North and South, the Dragon from Beyond sought to reopen the immortal realm to their dark master. The fourth night after the empress's kidnapping, the eve before hope would have been lost, a hero emerged...

Under the light of the moon above, warmed by the torches lining the path to the once abandoned fort, Riven stood at the gates of the re-purposed “temple.” She leveled her sword as the gate opened, and the cultists charged out to meet her, weapons ready.

Up on the fort's walls, Malzahar waved his arm, and called out to his followers. “Go! Ye children of the Dragon from Beyond! Kill the intruder!”

As the cultists charged forward, so to did Riven. Spinning and weaving through the fray, every motion, every side step, every dodge was accompanied by a swing of her sword, each slash cutting down one of the cultists. Though full fifty men descended upon her, each feeble thrust of their spears or swipes of their blades were easily dodged, or grazed off her leather armour.

Having cut her way into the center of the cultists, a large ring formed around her. Riven readied herself; after a momentary pause to regather their courage, the remaining cultists charged at her, attempting to swarm her all at once.

HIYAH!”

Riven cried out as she swept forward with her blade. With the power of a storm dragon's breath, the force of Riven's swing sent the cultists flying around her, crashing to the ground, rolling down the hill, otherwise scattered at her feet. Full fifty men charged out to face her. Ten fled down the hill path, the rest were slain.

Wiping clean her sword, Riven rushed into the “temple.” She didn't have to run far, though; Malzahar had come down from his place atop the wall to instead meet her in the temple courtyard.

The prophet glowed with an ethereal magic, his body hovered a full two feet off the ground. His fingers curled and opened against his palms. Beneath his emerald scarf and turban, his eyes glowed a violent purple. “I misjudged you, intruder,” he hissed, his voice echoing across the courtyard. “I had thought you a mere vagabond easily dispatched, but it appears you are greater than that.”

“My name is Riven,” she said, pointing the tip of her blade towards Malzahar. “I've come to rescue Empress Luxanna, and put an end to your sacrilege.”

“I have heard of you, the Dragonblade.” Malzahar cackled. “You would do better serving us. Surely, a champion of the innocent and the enslaved like you would see the corruption of these kingdoms, their wars tearing apart the very people they wish to rule. The Lunar Empress is just the same. Only with the return of the great dragon can we wipe this land clean, and live in peace from out of their rule.”

“Only to be replaced by slavery to your dark god,” Riven retorted. “Better a benevolent guard than a despot dragon. Don't embarrass yourself, warlock, you'll find no quarter from me.”

Malzahar's eyes began to glow brighter, angrier. “We will strip the Lunar Empress of her godly powers to open the door to our master's return, and we will feed you to him, that he may imbue himself with a hero's soul, and use that knowledge to take down others of your ilk!” He spread his arms, a powerful force shook the earth her hovered over. The spectral form of a violet dragon coiled around him, its one, massive eye staring Riven down, studying her.

“O, Vel Koz! Dragon from the Beyond! Feast on this hero's heart, and reclaim your power!”

Riven held up her sword, the flat of her blade against her arm, as fire and wind began to coil around it. The spectral form of a white dragon circled her, its magnificent white beard brushing against the horsehair ribbons binding her topknot. “Ao Shin! Sink your fang into this imposter dragon! Show him what a dragon truly is!”

HAAAA!” Malzahar threw himself forward. From his eyes and the dragon's eye, a wave of malevolent magic shot forward towards Riven.

With a cry of her own, Riven charged forward, blade ahead of her. As the beam of dark magic crashed against the edge of her blade, the sword managed to cut its way through, magic bending around Riven, keeping herself as she continued to rush at Malzahar.

With a singular strike, Riven ended her charge a few feet behind the warlock. Malzahar flailed and thrashed in the air, magic instead of blood leaking from his wound, before he dissolved himself in a haze of dark magic.

Scoffing, knowing that the warlock had retreated instead of died, Riven spun and sheathed her blade, before venturing into the fort. With the cultists either dead or retreated, their temple was empty, but for her prisoner. Riven just had to find her...

Finally finding the stairs down to the dungeon, Riven's steps quickened when she heard a soft and muffled gasping and moaning from below. There was only one occupied cell.

The Lunar Empress was locked in a cell, her arms bound above her head to an iron pole, her mouth tied with an emerald cloth. She gasped as Riven approached, squirming, pulling against rope that further bound her by her chest to the pole. “Mmph! Mmph!”

“It's alright, your majesty,” Riven softly assured her, before swinging her sword at the lock to the cell. With a heavy crash, the lock was busted, and the door swung inwards, allowing Riven to enter and remove the gag from Lux's face. “I've come to rescue you. The cult has been driven away from here, you're safe, now.”

Lux stared at Riven with amazement, studying the strange hero's face, before her lips spread to an eager smile. “By yourself?” she asked, to which Riven nodded. “Then you are truly an amazing woman! Oh, I cannot thank you enough. Or praise you enough; Malzahar is a warlock of great power. For you to have bested him, and his men... What is your name, brave hero?”

Riven blushed, as she untied Lux's arms, undid the rope around her chest. “It is Riven, your highness.”

“Oh, please. Lux, I insist.” Lux made use of her free arm to press her finger to Riven's lips before she could protest. “You deserve the honour of my true name.”

“Isn't your true name Luxanna?” Riven asked, lips moving against Lux's finger.

Lux giggled, somewhat tickled by Riven's lips, mostly tickled by her earnest words. “My full title, yes, but, like I said, you've the honour of my true name.”

“I...I see.” Riven gently took Lux's hand, and slowly helped her to her feet. “Are you alright, your majesty—mm...Lux? Are you hurt?”

“Oh! ...Perhaps a little stiff,” said Lux, remembering to sway and shake a bit, before leaning into Riven's arms.

Blushing, hot pink on her cheeks, Riven kept her hold of Lux's hand, and slowly walked with her out of the cell, then out of the dungeon. “Th...Then stay close to me, Lux. I'll get you home.”

“Malzahar had a horse he threw me over when the cult kidnapped me,” Lux explained, as they walked through the abandoned fort. “Perhaps it is still in the stable?”

After a brief search, the two found the stable, and, sure enough, a black coated horse was left waiting, alone, in the one occupied stall. Nodding approvingly, Riven saddled up the horse, and helped lift Lux up onto its back. Taking the reins, Riven helped guide the horse out of the stable, and out the back gate of the fortress, away from the bodies.

“We've a long road ahead of us back to your palace,” Riven observed. “We should get away from this place, first, but then set up camp, and leave first thing in the morning.”

“You know, we'd go faster if you rode with me,” Lux pointed out. “That way, I could gallop without leaving you behind.”

Riven looked away, embarrassed. “N-No thank you, Lux. I...I couldn't. Share a saddle with an empress...”

Lux pouted...then smirked, swaying again. “I'm still feeling a bit woozy. I could use some extra support...”

Blushing from ear to ear, Riven climbed up onto the horse, arms wrapped around Lux's stomach to hold onto the reins. With a content smile, her eyes drifting shut, Lux nestled into Riven's breast, as the hero urged the horse on. With was comfortingly warm...


It was a day's ride down from the mountains where The Dragon from Beyond had established their temple, and another two days ride to the Lunar Palace. During that time, Lux sought to learn more of her rescuer and hero.

“I believe I heard tales of your exploits, Riven,” she pointed at during their horse's cantor. She looked up over her shoulder at Riven, still sharing the saddle with her. “The Southern provinces have practically you alone to thank for the dissolution of the slave trade. Tales of your fury against those who would enslave the innocent are not exaggerated, are they?”

Riven glanced ahead, lifting a hand to scratch the back of her neck. “Me, alone?” she muttered, a little humbled. “My reputation precedes...ahem.” She looked back to Lux. “The weak and the innocent should be nurtured and allowed to grow, become strong. To crush and trample them instead is... Well, it's an affront, isn't it?”

Lux nodded, squeezing Riven's hand. Riven blushed. Lux giggled, but then asked on. “You have my thanks, too. Tell me, Riven, what drives you to be a hero like that? What fuels your righteous indignation?”

Riven blinked, and tilted her head, regarding Lux. “Is it not simply as easy as that? To fight for those who cannot, to wish to ensure peace in our lands?”

Lux grinned, a sense of relief washing over her. “It can,” she agreed. “You truly are a noble soul, Riven. But...is that truly all?” That grin turned to a sad frown. “Is that not pain I see past those eyes?”

There was a long silence, but for the clopping of hooves, before Riven took a deep breath, and spoke. “My family village was along the border between two rival clans,” she explained. “When I was young, almost a woman, the clan that safeguarded us fell, scattered underneath the boots of their rival. We were the first to be swallowed, many of our best already died in their skirmishes. The rest of us were to be taken as slaves.”

Her grip on the reins tightened at the memory, knuckles going white. “Before they could take us, defile us, I fought back. I cut down our would be masters. For the next month, I guided our clan in secret to a place where they could be safe, one snapped branch away from being captured and taken away. Once they were safe, I swore I'd protect the people of this land from other such slave masters.”

“And so you became a wanderer.”

Riven nodded.

“And your family? Don't they miss you?”

Riven cast her eyes aside. “I was an only child. And my mother and father...died in the skirmishes. It was easy to be a wanderer, when I had no real home left to me, or anyone calling me home.”

Lux, too, looked aside, eyes downcast in sympathy and remorse. “I had heard search atrocities occurred throughout these lands, especially during these troubling times. It broke my heart to know such suffering happens under my care. That, worst of all, I can do nothing from the confines of the palace, unable to take myself away from the bastion to the immortal world for more than a few days at a time.”

She rested her head in Riven's breast, shaking her head in sympathy. “I am glad this world has heroes like you, Riven, though you have my deepest sympathies for the pain that drives you to it.”

There was silence between them. Riven soothingly stroked Lux's arm. They spoke little for the rest of the ride.

Several hours later, they had reached the Lunar Palace. Riven dismounted, and carefully helped Lux down from the horse. As they approached the palace steps, the doors to the Lunar Palace flew open. Two giant dog-men charged out, down the steps, one looking like a hound and carrying a great halberd, the other looking like a wolf, charging on all fours.

“LUUUUX!” the wolf man half roared, half barked, as he dove for Lux, and wrapped his arms around her legs, affectionately rubbing his head against her.

Chuckling, a bright, tinkling noise, Lux gently patted the wolf's head. “It's good to see you, too, Warwick,” she cooed.

The hound man soon after reached the bottom of the steps, and took a knee before her, planting the staff of his weapon into the ground, bowing his head deeply in shame. “Empress, please forgive us,” he said in a deep, echoing, yet soothing voice. “There is no excuse in our failure to protect you, or worse, to find you. I can only thank the immortals that you are unharmed.”

Lux smiled affectionately up at the hound man, and comfortingly stroked his shoulder. “Oh, Nasus, I forgive you. I don't even begrudge you. I'm just so glad to see you both, again.” She turned back towards Riven, giggling, her arms folded behind her back, clicking her heels together with a giddy bounce. “Besides, I was in good hands.”

Warwick rose to his hind legs, snarling at Riven, approaching her menacingly. “Blood on her sword...” he snarled, nose sniffing deeply. “Sword made of dragon bone... Lux's scent in her hands!” He bared his teeth, and barked angrily in Riven's face. “Dangerous stranger! Unfit to touch the Empress!”
“Warwick,” Lux chided with a huff, marching over to the wolf man, and slapping him gently on the snout. “Bad.”

“Boww'rr,” Warwick whined, gripping his nose, looking at Lux.

“Riven was the one who rescued me from my kidnappers, and guided me back to you,” Lux explained. “She was truly a gallant hero, we all owe her a great debt.”

“Riven...” Nasus approached, standing by Lux's side as he regarded Riven. As he and Riven locked eyes, Riven could feel his gaze pierce through her, as though he was examining, judging, her very soul. Nasus managed to make Riven flinch and shudder where Warwick's barking hadn't.

“Though I guard the North,” Nasus explained, “and Warwick hunts down the foulest of men to the South, I had heard of the exploits of the Dragonblade, hero of the innocent.” Lifting a massive hand, he planted it warmly on Riven's shoulder. “You have my respect, even my admiration, as well as my thanks.”

Knowing what a great honour this was, Riven wrapped her palm around her fist, and gave a deep, standing bow.

“Yes. She would make an excellent champion for us, wouldn't she?” Lux suggested.

Nasus turned to her, confused. “What?”

“Bwrr?”

“Huh?” Riven blinked, stepping back in flustered surprised.

“Though Nasus guards the North, Warwick the South, and I the great barricade to the Immortal Realms,” Lux explained, “our's is the affairs of gods and demons. But it is also the affairs of mortals that trouble this land. And...like I said, I had always wished to reach out and give the people the help and comfort they deserve. And through you, I can.”

Her excited grin turned to an affectionate smile. “Besides, I...wish to give you a home. A place where your wandering can bring you back to at the end of the day. And caring voices to call you back.”

Riven was at a loss for words. In all her journeys, she could only dream of... It took her a moment, but she found her voice and composure. She sunk down to her knees. She set her sword aside. And she bowed deep, palms on the palace tiles, forehead almost touching the ground. “If you would have me, then I gladly offer my blade to the defence and honour of the Lunar Empress,” she vowed.

Lux held out her hand. Nasus placed his halberd in her open palm, where it shrank and contorted into her dog head staff. Gently planting the head of the staff on Riven's head, Lux invoked her own magic. “Then let the kingdoms know that you, Riven, the Dragonblade, are my favoured, and Champion of the Lunar Palace.

As Riven lifted herself to her feet, Lux's magic lifted her another foot off the ground, as it swirled around her, and her attire began to change. Her red, cotton, peasant clothes turned to regal blue silk, lined with grey wolf fur. Her leather armour was replaced with golden plates, and her horsetail ribbon turned to fine, golden silk. Even her sword changed, its metal now resplendent as gold, and as sharp as dragon fangs.

As Riven touched back down to the ground, she opened her eyes to see Lux looking at her, barely containing herself, biting back a squeal of delight. Riven regarded Lux's own attire, her blue-grey leotard, her white skirt, all highlighted with golden ornaments. Riven rubbed the back of her head. “I guess my uniform fits you three and the Lunar Palace, now,” she admitted with a nervous chuckle.

Lux let out that delighted squeal, anyway, as she leaped into Riven's arms, and embraced her tightly. Riven held her back, ending up spinning her around by the momentum of Lux's jump, but they settled and embraced tenderly.

Riven felt Nasus place a hand on her shoulder, and looked up to see him nodding sagely. “Lux has taken quite the shine on you,” he observed, sounding rather amused, in itself an amusing sound in his deep, soothing voice. “You would make a fine consort.”

“C-Consort?” Riven repeated, blushing to the tips of her ears, nervously gripping onto Lux. The two looked to each other, Riven soundlessly stammering. “I—uh, I...” But as she looked into Lux's eyes, a sense of calmness washed over her. Calm, and...

She smiled, a small, tender thing. “I had always dreamed, but could never hope to... ...If she would have me, then, this to, I swear, I...” The words died on Riven's lips, as she and Lux leaned forward. Their eyes drifted shut. They kissed, softly. Tenderly. Lovingly.

Lux whimpered, gasped, sighed into the kiss, her warm breath washing over Riven's face, as she held herself close to Riven's breast, letting the mortal feel that the demigod's heart was beating just as fast.

Riven moaned in the embrace, holding a strong arm gently around Lux's back, her other hand softly stroking through her hair, those beautiful white strands slipping through her fingers.

Even as they broke the kiss, they still embraced each other closely, resting their head on the other's shoulder. Finally though, Riven opened her eyes...and noticed something she had missed, before, on the entire ride back to the palace: tucked into the back of Lux's skirt was an emerald green sash. The same one she had found her tied in.

She gave it a curious pinch and a gentle tug. “Um...Lux? Why do you still have this...?”

Lux pulled herself back, still in Riven's arms, blushing hot pink, eyes wide and darting, lips in an overwide grin. “N-No reason! Just forgot it was there...!”