Chapter 4 of The Well Keeper Chronicles
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Chapter 4 - Deepest Fears on the Darkest NightEdit
Master Fung was indeed most displeased and set the monks doing pushups upon learning of their failure. He hadn't gotten tired until the wee hours of the morning. The monks' heads had barely hit their pillows when they were rousted out of bed for their morning chores. Master Fung had set them to work doing various things.
Raimundo was stuck digging with a shovel and pickaxe, Master Fung's instructions being to make a pit wide enough he couldn't jump across it, and deep enough that he couldn't jump out even with his wind powers. This meant a huge pit since Raimundo could jump well over two hundred feet when he used his wind powers. Omi had to repair the obstacle course to new specifications, which Master Fung informed him were to be met exactly. They were incredibly complex and reminded Omi of the obstacle course at Master Monk Guan's temple. He struggled to put them together correctly, and many of the components were sharp and extremely hard to handle safely.
Kimiko was put to work trimming the temple's grass, with a pair of scissors. It was an extremely slow moving and boring task. Clay found himself building a brick aqueduct from a nearby waterfall. This was far more difficult than it sounded as the water constantly washed away the mortar for the bricks he was laying and kept it from drying quickly.
It took them over two weeks to finish their respective tasks, and over the course of the second week, snow began to fall, adding the additional chore of snow shoveling to their list, which had to be completed every day before they could return to their tasks. To make matters worse, the snow made their tasks even more miserable and difficult. The water falling on Clay's head was now freezing cold, the grass Kimiko had to cut had to be uncovered with a snow shovel, Omi's tools were so cold they froze to his hands and had to painfully removed when he needed to change tools, and Raimundo had to shovel out the snow from his pit in addition to the dirt. No Shen Gong Wu went active during that time either, so they were not given even the slightest reprieve.
The fifteenth day was the Winter Solstice. They woke up that morning, did their chores and went to their work sites, only to find them all drastically different. All the obstacle machines Omi had built were gone, scattered across the lawn Kimiko had manicured. Raimundo's pit was now full of stone bridges, which were lined with even more of Omi's traps. The aqueduct Clay had built had been rerouted. Now it poured into the pit and down several of the stone bridges, making them dangerously slick and turning the bottom to a hopeless muddy quagmire. A work party of monks were packing up their tools. Kimiko, Omi, Raimundo and Clay stared and then they realized they were looking at a new obstacle course and gulped.
Master Fung said from behind them, "This will be your new training ground." The monks turned to look at him with horror as he continued, "Tonight is the Winter Solstice, the darkest night of the year. Tonight, you will test your new obstacle course running from the temple to the pit, fighting to pass a guardian who will attempt to stop you, and then descending into it to find all the Shen Gong Wu I have hidden within it. One of which will be active, and attempt to stop you. If you fall into the mud at the bottom, you will have to run it again." The monks looked at the new obstacle course with a sense of dread growing in their stomachs.
The monks waited nervously for Master Fung to ring the gong for them to begin. Pitch dark had fallen, and there was an eerie mist covering the new course, and they could see it was roiling out of the pit. "That don' look good," Clay muttered. "Master Fung said there will be a guardian who will try to stop us, but who?" Omi asked before snapping to attention as Master Fung walked out in front of them, "The guardian is ready. Remember, you must retrieve all the Shen Gong Wu before dawn, if you fail, you will have to run the course again and again until you do."
"Well then we better get 'em all," Raimundo said cockily, trying to hide the fact that he was in fact very worried. Master Fung nodded and raised the gong, "Then do so." He rang the gong and the four monks rushed the obstacle course. The worst part of it was that they couldn't see the obstacles, and almost immediately they stumbled into traps. Omi may not have had an easy time building the traps, but that didn't mean he hadn't done a good job, as the spring board attested, launching him into the air and onto the top of a forest of gear operated sticks which he knew he had to balance on or be thoroughly buffeted about and painfully pummeled as they viciously thrust into the air again and again.
Raimundo was blindsided repeatedly as he stepped into a ring of staves which were specially designed to spring up and whack whoever stepped into them. He staggered about being brutally beaten for almost two minutes before realizing he needed to jump out to escape. Kimiko fell as the ground shifted under her and discovered she had stepped onto a series of rolling cylinders set into the ground. Unfortunately for her, she discovered this by falling into them, which made her bite her tongue as her jaw slammed into the ground.
Clay had the easiest time making his way through the fog, his slow cautious movements and earth powers allowing him to sense the traps in front of him. Unfortunately, he wasn't ready for the sand bag tree, a tall pole with sandbags on ropes designed to spin and hit whoever ventured into their radius. It promptly knocked him flat and as he tried to get up, it smacked him again. After the second time he wised up and crawled instead of walking. Unfortunately, he crawled right into a classic of the obstacle course, the gator trap, which he found with his nose, which was bitten by one of the mechanical alligators "YEOW!"
On a Nearby MountainsideEdit
Jack, Shadow, Hannibal and the monks' robotic doppelgangers cracked up as the monks stumbled through the traps. "Ooh that's gotta hurt!" Jack howled with laughter as Raimundo discovered that the climbing wall wasn't planted in the ground very well and it fell over on top of him. "Oh look look look!" Shadow exclaimed delightedly, pointing to Kimiko as she stepped onto a whirling disc that spun her at such incredible speed that she became little more than a blur before stopping and sending her staggering off through the mist, right into another trap.
Shadow slapped the ground laughing with delight as Jack rolled in the dirt laughing, "This is the best show ever!"
Back down at the obstacle courseEdit
It was nearly twenty minutes before the monks made it through the obstacle course to the edge of the pit. Omi was the first one out, and the least battered. Since he had built the traps, he remembered how they worked and was able to avoid being caught in any of them for any extended period of time. Clay was next, although his pants had a hole in them from a surprise second gator trap.
Raimundo and Kimiko stumbled out at almost exactly the same time, both very bruised battered and tired. Omi looked around and said to the others, "We have reached the pit!" Clay tapped him on the shoulder and pointed, "Yeah, but I don't think he's gonna let us in." The others looked and saw a hooded figure in a black cloak waiting at the edge of the pit, a familiar bladed staff in his hand. Omi's eyes widened, "Master Monk Guan!"
The legendary Tai Chi master made no reply, instead rocketing forward and attacking. He wasn't holding back either, actually drawing blood with the blade of his Spear of Guan as the monks tried to stay out of his range. He hammered Raimundo to the ground and held him there, the blunt end of his spear on Raimundo's wind pipe, "You will never defeat the Well Keeper by running away from him!" He spun and slung Omi, who had tried kicking him, to the ground with the hooked butt of the spear. He jumped spun and kicked Clay into the pit, "Nor will you be victorious holding back!"
The other monks attempted to fight, but Guan was so far above their level that they were as flies attacking an ancient oak tree, and he swatted them away with the same ease. Omi managed to block a powerful kick, but then realized that it had jettisoned him out over the center of the pit. He hung there for a moment, comically flapping his arms trying not to fall, but then he fell, disappearing into the mist. Kimiko was next, her foot caught by Guan's spear and redirected so that her momentum carried her off into the mist over the pit, and she fell screaming into it.
Raimundo flipped away from Guan, "So this is our training huh? We gotta beat you to get to the pit?" Guan whirled his spear and chuckled darkly, "Who said I wanted to keep you from entering the pit?" Then Raimundo realized something was very wrong as Kimiko screamed.
In the PitEdit
Kimiko hammered on Jack's chest, gave him CPR, everything she could think of trying to restart his heart, but nothing worked. The mist curled around her, Jack's beaten and bloody form lifeless before her. "NOOO!" She cried, "Jack! You can't be dead! You just can't!" Then a small round headed figure walked out of the darkness, "Kimiko, what have you done?" Kimiko leapt to her feet, "Omi! I didn't, I swear I didn't mean to!"
Master Fung's voice spoke from the mist, "Kimiko, why have you killed this boy?" "No! I didn't!" Kimiko cried, "I swear I didn't mean to!" Her father's voice, "Kimiko! What have you done?" More voices, calling her things like murderer, monster, killer, when she heard Master Fung say she couldn't be a monk anymore, she cracked and shattered into tears, lying on the ground sobbing, helpless with horror as a pair of red eyes hovered over her.
On a lower level, Clay heard Kimiko's scream and immediately began to run, trying to locate a way out, he had to help her! Then a large fist clothes lined him and sent him crashing to the ground. Clay's eyes widened as a large figure loomed out of the mist, "No, it can't be!" The figure straightened its cowboy hat, red eyes glowing through the gloom, "Wanna bet?"
Omi had fallen deepest into the pit, only narrowly managing to catch a narrow bridge a few feet above the mud. The bridge was so narrow that it was little more than a balancing beam. He too heard Kimiko's scream as he started to scale the ladder carved into the wall. It startled him and he hurried up to the next bridge, "Kimiko!" Then a low familiar voice spoke from behind him, "Is it really Kimiko you want?" Omi whirled and immediately began to back away, "What ah you doing heuh?!"
The pretty girl that had kissed him twice now pushed off the wall and started to walk towards him, "Me? Whah, ah came heah fah you Omi." She knelt so that she could look him in the eye and kissed him. Omi tried to resist but found he couldn't, "No!" he protested as she let him up for air, "This is wrong! We ah enemies!" She kissed him again quickly and stroked his head, "Ahre you sure? That theah robe o' yours is lookin blackuh and blackuh ev'ry minit that passes." Omi looked at his sleeves with horror and saw that they were indeed turning black. "Come ovuh to the Heylin Omi, you know you want to be bad with me," As Omi looked into the beautiful orange eyes, he realized he did indeed want to be very bad with her.
Clay pulled himself back to his feet, "You can't be me! I'm me!" His evil doppelganger chuckled darkly, "don' be so sure. If I beat you I'll be able to take yor place, and tear the others apar from the inside." Then he bellowed and attacked. His punch would have been devastating if Clay hadn't managed to block it. The kick that followed was tremendous and lifted Clay off his feet, nearly knocking him off the bridge.
The evil Clay rained down blow after blow on Clay, seemingly tireless and his speed quickened by his rage. Clay managed to block most of it, but slowly, little by little, his evil doppelganger began to drive him back. They fought the length of the bridge with Clay on the defensive. Clay tried to fight back, but his evil doppelganger always managed to avoid his attacks, only to return with a devastating blow that made Clay stagger back.
Finally Clay was backed against the wall, just doing his best to cover himself against the endless hammer blows that continually rained down on him. Out of the blue, Clay realized what he was backed against, "Wait a minit! Wudai Crater Earth!" He delivered a devastating uppercut that was wrapped in a huge pillar of earth. It shot straight through the Evil Clay to Clay's shock. The Evil Clay dissipated and Clay stared as it dawned on him what was in the pit with them, "The Shadow o' Fear!"
Then realizing that it must be attacking the others too, he took off at a run, "I gotta help 'em!" Then a voice said from behind him, "How are you going to help them when you can't even help yourself?" Clay turned and saw Master Monk Guan, still wearing that black hood and cloak that obscured his face, a badly beaten and bloody Raimundo hanging from his hand. Guan dangled Raimundo over the edge of the bridge, "You're not worthy to be a Xiaolin Warrior. Just accept it and go back to Texas where you belong."
"Now them's fightin' words!" Clay growled, "Gimme back Rahmundo righ' now!" Guan leveled his spear at Clay, "Come and take him." Clay launched himself at Guan and attacked with a fury that would have made his evil doppelganger shrink away in fear. He attacked in a blur, punching and kicking as fast and hard as he could. Guan parried everything Clay could throw at him with his spear effortlessly while continuing to taunt him.
Down below, Omi tried to struggle, but the pretty girl kept kissing him, and his robe kept turning blacker. Suddenly the pretty girl was kicked away from him, "'Ands off mah cheeseball!" Omi looked up and saw that another of the pretty girl was glaring at the pretty girl that had been kissing him. The second girl looked down at him, "Yore deepes' dahkes' feah is kissin' me? At's kinda insultin'."
Omi blinked and then protested, "No! My deepest Darkest fear is that you will turn me to the Heylin side! When that happened last time Chase Young took ovuh the wuhld!" The pretty girl tilted her head to one side and raised an eyebrow, "My fathuh turned yew to tha Heylin side?" "Yes! And it was very very bad! The whole wuhld was split in, your father?!" The pretty girl chuckled with a smile, "Yew hadn't figured it out yet?"
Omi's jaw hit the ground and she smiled, "Well, guess I oughta introduce mahself," she picked him up by the front of the robe and held him at eye level, "I am Shadow Young, Princess of tha Land of Nowheah, Heylin Dragon of Watuh, and dawtuh of Chase Young. By tha way, jest fo fewcha ref'rence," She kissed him deeply and he melted into a puddle of heart eyed happy, "that's wot a kiss from me feels like." She smiled, "See you at the next Wu site!" and launched him up through the maze of bridges.
Omi sailed upward, a dazed and incredibly happy smile on his face. He started to fall but a hand reached out and caught him, "Omi!" Omi blinked the happy hearts from his eyes, "Raimundo! What happened to you?" Raimundo strained to hold Omi, "It wasn't Guan! It's the spirit of the Shadow of Fear! It's loose! You've gotta help Clay fight it or it's going to kill us!" He heaved with all his remaining energy and swung Omi up onto the bridge where Clay was struggling to match the spirit of the Shadow of Fear.
The spirit was lightning quick, and effortlessly deflected Omi's Repulse the Monkey strike, bringing the blade of the Spear of Guan around to slash at Clay with the same movement. A dozen punches, fifteen kicks and the odd elbow were thrown in the next thirty seconds. All were thrown by Omi and Clay, and all were effortlessly dodged or blocked by the spirit.
The spirit handled the Spear of Guan as though it were Master Monk Guan, and the whirling blade created a wall of deadly steel which the monks dared not breach. Then the spirit jabbed backwards with the butt of the spear and smacked Omi in the forehead before twisting the hook and using it to catch Omi's foot effortlessly swinging the stunned Omi into Clay.
Then the spirit fell off balance as Raimundo yanked its foot from beneath it. The spirit fell, but caught itself and back-flipped down the bridge, landing and settling into a ready stance. It's impressive agility was not what caught the monks off guard though. As the spirit landed, they saw its hood had fallen away from its face revealing...Master Monk Guan.
The Spirit of the Shadow of Fear chuckled through Master Monk Guan's body and stood planting the butt of the Spear of Guan on the ground as the monks gasped in shock, "Yes little monks, I have taken control of the body of your precious Master Monk Guan. With it, I am returned to the physical plain," He smiled wickedly and Master Monk Guan's twin rows of Chi dots appeared on his forehead, "With all Guan's power."
Suddenly a familiar voice yelled, "Wudai Mars FIRE!" And the monks brightened as the Xiaolin Dragon of Fire joined the fight, encased in the form of a huge dragon made of fire, "Kimiko!" They exclaimed in delighted unison.
Then as Kimiko landed, she suddenly swung and the fire flew towards them. "Wudai Crater Earth!" Clay exclaimed, hurriedly creating an earthen shield. The fire washed against it and threatened to burn it away, only relenting at the last moment. Clay lowered the earthen shield and they saw that Kimiko had changed drastically in the short time since they had seen her last.
Her eyes, previously blue, were now red; where her uniform had been red, it was now black, and where her hair had been black, it was now so white it glowed faintly in the dark. She rose and the spirit spoke through her, distorting her voice so that it raised the hairs on the back of the neck, "And now I have the body of a Xiaolin Dragon." Kimiko reached up and touched Guan's cheek. Guan opened his mouth and a darkness coiled out, down around Kimiko's arm and up into her nose as she inhaled.
As Guan collapsed, the spirit opened Kimiko's eyes, Guan's chi dots glowing on her forehead. The spirit slid Kimiko's foot under the Spear of Guan, which had fallen to the ground and flipped it into the air, effortlessly catching it, "The time has come for this world to remember what it is to be afraid! Wudai Mars Fire!" The spirit stamped with Kimiko's foot and flew up out of the pit on a rocket of fire before zooming away like a comet through the night.