It was pretty much a year since I last wrote something. After playing DW7 (I haven't played for quite some time due to college), I just had this urge to write again.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these TecmoKoei's characters, save for the ones who were imaginatively created to suit the story.
"General Xiahou! Lu Bu had taken over our supplies at Puyang!"
First it was two foolish officers, Zhang Miao and Chen Gong, who had sided with Lu Bu, and dared threatened to kill his lord's family. Now, the city that holds the lifeline to their camps in the Yan province was captured by Lu Bu?
"S-Sir, there is still more," the messenger spoke, trying to keep his voice calm.
He angrily turned towards the messenger. "What else do you have to say?"
The messenger staggered back in his steps, clearly scared of his superior's flaming expression. "L-Lu Bu was last seen heading towards our main c-camp, sir!"
It was something he had not expect. Despite his military experiences, he had let his emotions get the better of him. With one last check on the defenses of Juancheng and the safety of his lord's family, he and his cavalry immediately turned their horses back to their main camp. That man, Lu Bu, if he could kill that man in one blow, he would have done so.
The main camp was bustling with orders from the lieutenants and base commanders to strengthen their defenses to prepare for the famed Lu Bu's attack. Xiahou Dun entered the wooden gate and got down from his horse.
Han Hao, Xiahou Dun's lieutenant, commented, "Something seems off here."
"Tell me about it," Xiahou Dun grunted.
A field commander immediately approached, "Lord Xiahou Dun, the men are ready to defend the main camp!"
Xiahou Dun nodded. "Good work." But something was wrong, he could feel it.
As he took his position at the frontline of his men, a messenger came running to him.
"My lord! Lu Bu's men had disappeared!"
Xiahou Dun growled, "First he rides that stupid red horse, now he can cast magic too?" Then it hit him. There was a hill at the back of their camp. He swore loudly. There was a sudden loud cry from behind his back.
It wasn't just one person shouting the word, there were choruses too. To add to the confusion of the troops, there were war cries coming from the hill, and the enemy was charging from the rear flank of their camp.
"You will not take my base camp while I still live!" he cried out. He moved forward to slay the first enemy that broke through the ranks, when there were numerous hits that struck him from the side and the back. Another strike had disarmed him from his weapon. They were all strong blows that felled him to the dusty ground. He struggled to get back up, but weight was piled on to him. He continued to struggle and jerk until he felt ropes tightly binding his back. His own officers had turned against him inside his own camp.
"Get up," it was a gruff order.
The Xiahou felt himself hoisted up back into his feet by many pairs of hands and was dragged off. From being the leader of them all, he was now nothing but a hostage at the mercy of that blasted animal Lu Bu.
If cousin could see the shame that I am, he thought furiously to himself.
He kept his head down, mentally angry with himself to have overlooked so many things.
"Damn that Lu Bu, despite his eagerness for battle, he had no sense of the time."
It alerted Dun. Was his hearing damaged during the attack? It was not Lu Bu who led the attack? He looked up and saw one of the traitors.
"Chen Gong," he growled between his teeth.
Chen Gong turned to Xiahou Dun. "I have no remorse in my decision, Lord Xiahou Dun. Taking your camp was too easy to even be a challenge for me. Don't think on calling for reinforcements. The other camps were easier to capture."
Xiahou Dun jerked in his bonds. "You're not going to get away with this, you traitor! I will cut you down when I am free from these bonds!"
Chen Gong smirked. "It would be such a waste to dispose of you, Lord Xiahou. If you were executed now, I would have no challenge in a game of wits with Cao Cao. Perhaps, you would be the perfect bait to lure Cao Cao to his death."
Xiahou Dun roared, "You're not killing my lord you treacherous snake!"
Chen Gong was about to say another comment when a cavalry of riders arrived at the conquered camp. "Ah, Lord Lu Bu. You have arrived."
Lu Bu got down from his Red Hare. He walked over to Xiahou Dun, malice was written all over the great warrior's face. "So this is all that you can do against me, Xiahou Dun? You make me laugh." And Lu Bu did laugh.
Xiahou Dun wanted to kill that arrogant man in front of him there and then. "I will kill you and hang your head on that bloody pike of yours."
Lu Bu instantly drew his weapon and rested it at Xiahou Dun's neck. "Try it with your head cut off."
Chen Gong immediately intervened. "Lord Lu Bu, I strongly suggest that we let Xiahou Dun live. It would easily draw Cao Cao here and you may have the pleasure of killing him."
Lu Bu's mouth drew a wide smug smirk. "Not a bad idea, Chen Gong." He turned to his comrade. "Zhang Liao. I will leave you in charge of this camp. Be sure to treat our captive with starving care."
Zhang Liao remained indifferent, but he seemed to be concerned over something else. "Yes, of course, Lu Bu."
Lu Bu chuckled. "I better return to Diao Chan. She would be greatly worried for me. Zhang Liao, Chen Gong, I leave this camp to you." He got back on to his Red Hare and rode off.
Chen Gong gave a single nod. "I have reason to believe that anyone who dares defy our order, will be slain." He eyed the troops. "No one objects?"
The men that Xiahou Dun had gone with to save the Cao family at Juancheng denied this new rule. In the end, they were bound down as well.
Xiahou Dun let his gaze fall down and muttered curses under his breath. If he could devise a way to get out of these bonds, he will immediately kill that Chen Gong in one fell swoop.
"Take our happy hostage back to his tent. We don't want to be seen as cruel captors now, do we? Be sure to confiscate all weapons and sharp objects from his tent, to be brought over to wherever Lord Zhang Liao would be staying," Chen Gong said in a clear voice.
There was a "Yes sir." in unison.
There was a tug on Xiahou Dun's bonds, as if telling him to move. But he couldn't, he was a man disgraced by his foolishness in battle. He had let the enemy took advantage of his temperament. Had he considered his options more clearly, it would have not ended this way.
"That's how you fall, eh?" a sharp woman's voice cut through his burning thoughts. "Just one take over and you think the world's ending. Pitiful."
He cracked. He was already trying so hard to contain himself from exploding any further. But whoever this woman is, one of the things he gets irritated at most was hearing a woman belittle him. He answered back in one of the simple ways he knew to make a woman angry. He tilted his head up, and gave a short glare at the woman. He was too enraged to bother caring what she really looked like.
"And it's a real shame that you're too ugly and too fat to have anyone bother marrying you!"
He did not regret saying such words to the woman, but it only got him one sound punch to the face that he heard something break. He fell to his side, wincing in pain. His nose bled a trail of blood down his mouth. His eyes were scrunched tight, but he could hear voices in argument.
"LET ME GET A PIECE OF THAT -!" it was that same woman's voice.
He waited for another hit, instead, he was hearing Zhang Liao's voice cutting the woman's curse short. "That is enough! First you had to insult Lu Bu and almost had our child killed. Now you're going disgracing yourself further by attacking a dishonored man!"
Could Zhang Liao have married this ugly woman?
"Tch," the woman spoke.
Xiahou Dun didn't know what to think else, but Zhang Liao had certainly earned his respect. He felt himself get dragged away, the pain was blacking out his consciousness.
He thought he felt a soft hand touch his face as he passed out.
Even though there was no one in the tent with him, he could hear the voices of people talking how dishonored he was. But what tortured him most, was the voice of his Lord Cao Cao expressing disappointment and regret for failing.
"I must stop these thoughts," he murmured to himself. It wouldn't be that long, until Cao Cao will arrive to reclaim this land.
He stared at his individually bound wrists, and the ankles. Each bond was long and was chained to a firm post in the middle of the tent by thick rope. Either Chen Gong or Zhang Liao had the humane sense to let him move around the tent, albeit bound by these ropes. He found that his bed was pushed nearer to him. But there was no sign of any weapons in sight. He tried tugging the rope in hopes of wearing the rope out, but had no strength left to do so.
He lied down on his flat bed, and stared at the shadows moving in a patrol motion, produced by some bright light outside his tent. He touched his nose. There was still pain around it after getting punched squarely in the face by that blasted woman. Curiosity struck him when he found that there were no traces of blood around his mouth. Someone had bothered to clean the blood off his face. It must be one of Zhang Liao's orders. Ignoring the growl of his stomach, he willed himself to rest. Perhaps, he could have a clearer head in the morning.
The smell of food woke him up. Daylight had not yet broken through, but he was used to these short sleep hours during battles. A tall candle was flickering inside the dimly lit tent. Beside the candleholder was a small tray containing rations. Following the urging of his stomach, he roused himself from his bed and walked over to the tray. He sat on the ground and picked a meat bun from the plate. There was something else that hovered the tray, a soft fragrance that didn't seem to fit in this room. Immediately, he set his mind on that woman who punched him in the face. Was she trying to kill him subtly by a poisoned meat bun? He cautiously set the meat bun back on its plate. He was now wary of the whole tray of food set before him.
He moved away from the tray and faced the other side. He sat cross-legged on the mat, pondering on possible ways to escape. The ropes on his wrists were tight and firm, if he could find something sharp to rub it against and he would be free. Deep in his thoughts, he had not noticed that someone entered the room.
"You have not eaten your meal, Xiahou Dun," it was Zhang Liao.
"Tch, your woman must have plotted to poison me," he spoke back gruffly.
Zhang Liao shook his head. "My wife had nothing to do with the food. She couldn't be bothered to do something as kind as that to the man who insulted her."
"Are you here to chastise me then?" Xiahou Dun immediately asked back. "To chastise me for insulting your wife, Zhang Liao? Your wife deserved that insult."
"Perhaps, but you must know your place in this camp now."
"Hrmph. I will get out of this place," Xiahou Dun said, turning his back on Zhang Liao. " And I am sure that you know that."
Xiahou Dun heard the other man sigh. There was nothing more but silence.
"Just eat." That was all Zhang Liao had left to say, and exited the tent.
Xiahou Dun let out a frustrated sigh. But his stomach continued to growl that he could no longer ignore the hunger that was attacking his system. He once more returned in front of the tray and took a bite out of the meat bun. He waited with anxiety, waited for that poison to suddenly take hold of him. But there was none. The warrior was right. There was no poison.
"Damn this," he grunted.
He quietly listened to the activity going on outside. There was shouting, there was orders flying around. He wondered how his other comrades were doing. They should have heard of the rebellion due to his failure. Maybe the enemies in this camp were preparing to defend the area. But he knew that these wanderers and traitors would not last long, Cao Cao was too cunning and perceptive of such an attack to be dealt a heavy blow on him.
He moved around and sat in his room idly. This solitary confinement, although it had helped him ponder through his mistakes, it could drive a simple person mad due to loneliness. His eyes turned once more to the tray. He looked immediately for paper, brush and ink. Maybe he could manipulate whoever was bringing the tray in to send a message to his captive comrade, Han Hao. But first, he would have to remember the intervals wherein the food would arrive. He found writing paraphernalia and began writing possible routes for escape from captivity. It was a productive thing he had done for the rest of the day. The day had turned to night when the next meal had arrived, instead of being delivered inside the tent, it was instead, pushed through the tent flap. He was able to reach the exit of his tent. As he knelt down to pick the tray up, he was not startled. There was that same soft fragrance around the tray, along with it was a note.
The Cao army will attack tomorrow at dawn.
The calligraphy was crude, and there was no signature. Could Han Hao have written this?
Thunder rolled and rain poured as the start of the second day had broken through midnight. He listened to the patters of rain that hit the outer canvas of his tent. The weather could be proven advantageous to the attacking army. The defending army's morale could be weakened by this natural onslaught. In the dark, he listened quietly.
He woke up a start when he heard the squishy sounds of wet shoes enter the tent. He didn't know how long he was asleep, but right now he was wide awake. He was facing the entrance of his tent. He half-opened his eyes to get a glimpse of the one who brings his food. But he was denied of the chance to get a good glimpse of the visitor, because his visitor was wearing a heavy cloak to ward of the rain. He listened as the cloak was taken off and set on a nearby chair. Xiahou Dun smelled the baozi, but other than that, it was the same fragrance.
Perhaps, this messenger must be very important in Lu Bu's camp. He laid there in wait, waiting for the visitor to light up the tall candle. When the candle was ignited, it flickered with life, sending away the shadows of darkness of his confinement. He could see the outline of a woman's body against the faint light. He watched as she placed the food items on the tray from her bag. All these, she did with silence.
She must be just a servant girl, he thought. But how could a servant girl wear such exquisite fragrance? Maybe this girl may be an important person of the enemy's army.
He tensed a bit when the girl suddenly exhaled a surprised gasp. A peach had slipped from her grasp and rolled near him. He could hear the girl muttering her clumsiness as she walked near his bed. Xiahou Dun held his breath as the girl bent down and picked up the peach. He closed his eyes to feign that he was asleep. He could smell the sweet but subtle scent of her perfume wafting over him. He clenched his fists, restraining himself from starting an action that he would regret. When he felt the girl walk away from his side, his nose released a reactive sneeze.
The girl's footsteps halted. He paused immediately and laid in silence, not moving, and kept his eyes close.
"You do not need to fake your sleep," the girl spoke in a soft voice. "I know you are awake."
"You are quite perceptive to be able to see with limited sight," he commented. Since he was discovered awake, he simply sat up from his bed and stared at her. The candle's light was not enough to give him a complete picture of this girl's face.
"The candle is my sight," the girl spoke in her same soft voice. She turned her face to the candle light. Xiahou Dun was able to see her face clearer. She had smooth features that he deemed attractive, but what intrigued him was that her eyes were kept close.
"Why do you not open your eyes, woman?" he asked, while his eyes continued from her face down to the front of her body. He raised an eyebrow when he saw the shimmer of the handle of a knife by her girdle.
The girl let out a sigh, and spoke. "They said, I had ugly eyes. I fear you would laugh at me."
Xiahou Dun had a plan forming in his mind. He recalled all the things his cousin Cao Cao had done in order to woo the many ladies they had come across. If he would be able to woo this lady close to him, he could steal her knife and set himself free.
"I don't think you would be gifted with ugly eyes, woman," Xiahou Dun spoke in the nicest way possible. "When you have quite a lovely face and attractive physique, I am sure men were fighting each other just to meet you." He slowly stood up and walked on light careful steps closer to her. He could tell that the girl was distracted by his words. Could this girl be of marrying age, and yet there was no one who would want to marry her? Or was she the first born of a poor family and sold off to labor? He sympathized her predicament, but now was no time to let his emotions get the best of him once again.
He was so close to catching her in his arms, when she took a number of steps away from him. "I should not be talking to you, sir," she spoke. "Lord Zhang Liao gave me strict instructions to serve your meal. That is all."
"No, wait!" he exclaimed, careful to keep his voice as low as possible in order not to attract the attention of the enemy guards outside. He felt lucky that the heavy downpour was drowning out any possible loud sounds they could have made. The candle at the side flickered; it was close to dying out. He had to get himself free. He took a big step and reached out his hand to grab her, when she suddenly bent down and rolled to the side. He put out his other foot to balance himself and turned around. He reminded himself that his movements were limited within the tent, and any sort of jumbling of the ropes would lead him to his failure of escape.
He turned once more to face the girl and was alerted by the way she positioned herself. She was poised like a snake, her knife was drawn and she was waiting to strike. What struck his interest more was that her eyes were still closed.
"You seek escape, Lord Xiahou," she then spoke still in her soft voice. "I cannot allow that to happen." She gripped at her knife. It was then, at that time, the candle had died out and the darkness swallowed the tent's interior, only the flickering flames of the lanterns outside the tent was giving hardly any visible light inside the tent.
"We shall see about that," the man said. He took her words as a challenge. So what if this silly woman has a knife, he was still the superior being in strength and speed. -
Despite his ego-boosting belief that he could easily catch her, even in the dark. She had proved to be a slippery character. It was as if she could read his every step. This girl would be no ordinary servant then, but rather, a trained soldier or worse a trained assassin. His mind hatched a plan. He had lured her into the center of his tent, close to where the heavy pole that rooted his ropes are. He had a quick flash of memory of her clumsiness. He made hold of the rope on his right wrist. "Very well then," he said. "It seems you are quite the escape artist. I cannot match your skill and flexibility."
"Please, do not attempt anymore."
Xiahou Dun could see the girl lowering her guard, it was then he pulled out his sneak attack. The moment the girl had taken a step forward, Xiahou Dun jerked at the rope at her leg, tripping the girl down to the floor.
"Ah!" she cried as she crashed on to the floor.
He wasted no time. Immediately, he pinned the girl's knife arm and a hand over her mouth. He used his body to pin the rest of her body down. If his life wasn't at stake, he would have had his male instincts take over.
"Stop fighting, damn it," he growled under his breath. His hand snaked through her wrist and immediately took the knife from her hand.
The growl caught the girl's attention and the theft of her knife had caused fear and immobilization to her.
"Shout for help, I will slit your throat," Xiahou Dun threatened, pressing the knife against her throat.
He could feel that her eyes were wide open and were staring at his ruthless expression. He looked down at her face could only make out the reflection of the flickering lights outside of the tent on two eyes. He still couldn't see why would this woman keep her eyes closed, then again, he couldn't make any further judgment as the tent was still dark. Slowly he took his hand away from her mouth when she had calmed down, and soon withdrew the knife from her neck.
They were quiet as they stayed in this position of closeness. His whole body twitched when her cold hand had touched face. It was as if a message was sent through that touch. She was the one who cleaned the blood from him, the one who prepared and served his meals. The one who was kind enough to help him. Then a hostile thought came to him, was she the one who wrote that note? Should he believe the note?
Somewhere far away, a battle horn sounded. There was a stampede of feet around, just outside the tent. Xiahou Dun caught some words that passed his ears.
"The enemy is coming! The enemy is coming! Raise the defenses!"
Was it dawn already? It was dark in the tent to figure it out.
"Gaaah! It's Lord Cao Cao's army! What are we to do?"
Lord Cao Cao, he thought. The note was not lying. He could finally make his escape.
The girl opened her mouth to speak, "You should g-...!"
Her words were drowned by his lips on hers. At the back of Xiahou Dun's mind, he could hear Cao Cao praising him for finally being able to charm a girl. Perhaps he had a lot to thank for this girl. She had diverted his sorrow and self-hate with her innocent demeanor and moved his thoughts into finding ways to escape. When the second battle horn was sounded, he pulled away with a smirk on his face. A pity to whoever would love this girl, the suitor would no longer have the honor of having her first kiss. He finally pulled himself away from her and proceeded to cut his binds. The blade had easily went through the ropes.
He turned to the girl who was shakily getting back on her feet. She kept her gaze down, probably, she was still shocked at his passionate gesture.
"You should be the one to escape," he said. "It would be a shame for someone beautiful like you to be slain." Although, he did not return the knife. He would rather go and engage battle with others armed than not.
The girl nodded once, and turned around and ran out of the tent.
Xiahou Dun steeled himself. The tray of food was left untouched, but it didn't matter. He would rather face a fight now and win before eating his fill. He stepped out of the tent and shielded his eyes from the rising sun. His ears ached in pain when a high-pitched death cry pierced his ears. When his vision had cleared, he saw the girl, who had helped him get through his captivity and whom he had stolen her first kiss, lying curled on the ground in a pool of blood. Her back had a nasty slash from where the blood poured. He was about to run to her, when someone called out his name.
"Xiahou Dun! Yo! Cousin! I can't believe it, you're alive!" It was his cousin, Xiahou Yuan, on horseback.
Xiahou Dun turned his attention to the side. "Yuan," his voice was hoarse.
The great archer, Xiahou Yuan, gave Xiahou Dun a toothy grin. "Cousin Cao Cao was real worried about you." He threw something to the warrior. Xiahou Dun caught it with his other hand. It was his Kirin Fang. "Help me clean this bloody camp of yours up."
His cousin rode off, not after shooting a traitor straight to the skull. Xiahou Dun once again turned his gaze to where the girl had laid. All that was left was a pool of blood. Her body was gone. He stared at the knife in his hand. All the memories of his encounter with her remained in the knife. It would be deadly to harbor such dark emotions in him, but apart from it, he found out that there are persons who could still treat him kindly despite his nasty temperament. He clipped the knife into his belt and went on to help his cousin reclaim the fallen camp.
He never got to see why she said that her eyes were ugly.
This is probably one of the longest one-shots I have ever made.
I do hope you enjoyed it. I hope to be writing more soon.