Full Name: Green Emperor
Faction: Jade Cult
The first memory of each incarnation was always of being reborn after incineration by terrible supernatural flame. The last memory of every incarnation was always the first recollection of the next.
The story was always the same; hatching from a jade egg deep within the heart of a sacred mountain, far away from the dread touch of fire. The hatchling slithering out into darkness and waiting months until scales begin to shed and a human form took shape. Soon, there was a visit from a shadow Oni who brought naga milk to bind the reptilian with human. Then, the first guttural words of command would be uttered to demonic minions: “Bring me my sword and armor.”
This time would be different.
The shadow milk was strong, stronger than ever. This oni was different too; there was something very powerful about the way it moved. This time, it was the oni who spoke first.
“We will break the cycle. No longer will you defeat the Tiger only to fall at the hands of some peasant that wields the Phoenix power. You will command the other shijin as the Dragon should. The new Oni Queen will lend you her resources to conquer this plane. Times have changed and gods no longer deal with mortal affairs. The world is yours.”
”Yes, for a price.”
The days under that darkly numinous mountain came to an end and conquest began. But everything was different. This was not all out war, it was a silent game of Go. The means of war had changed and the Dragon had the best lieutenants to lead his war from the shadows. A mysterious woman in jade vestments who called him ‘father’ led the countless armies of the most skilled shadow warriors the Orient could muster. All crime organizations of the East were subdued and subjugated within a year. An assassin, wreathed in shadow, brought the heads of crime-bosses to the Dragon, just like a cat brings dead mice to the hand that feeds it. Clandestine laboratories and factories across the water were tasked with improving his army Terror Cotta Warriors to face new threats. The oni that had greeted him to this world remained silent every time he asked about the price of the victory.
The orders from the new Oni Queen arrived exactly seven years after the Dragon’s latest rebirth. She directed him to find the underwater tomb of the Black Beast and awaken it. The monster had been defeated and entombed by the White Tiger one hundred years earlier and she stated that its resurrection was the key to breaking the cycle.
Unlike the other shijin, the Beast was a mindless force of destruction that always began the cycle, threatening the world, only to be defeated by the Tiger. Tiger would then be defeated by Dragon, and finally Phoenix would defeat Dragon for the cycle to eventually begin anew. But now the cycle could be broken.
His Jade Cult headed out the next day moving towards the coastline. This world was new to him, but the rules remained unchanged – the jade wave rolled down the mountain, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.
The sparkling towers of the city they called Hong Kong welcomed the arrival of its Emperor.
He strolled through the streets, amazed to see how this part of his country has changed. The soldiers of the city armed with bizarre projectile weapons tried to stop them but their attempts fell short when one hundred of his newly-modified Terror Cotta Warriors unleashed a barrage of rockets upon them.
Stragglers were cut down by the combined forces of Jade Cult ninjas and oni. They were almost in the harbor as wall of flickering amber fire rose in front of the Jade Cult army. It was happening again. Laughter rose from the ranks of his demonic allies as two female shapes emerged from the flames and walked towards his army of thousands.
The shorter one wore a crimson gown and a cape of peacock-like feathers that had all of their color replaced by changing hues of red. She bore no weapons but sparks danced around her fingers. The other one wore a white tunic with black stripes and a mask that covered her eyes.
“We meet again, but this time it is different, the Tiger and the Phoenix will not let you awaken the Black Beast of the Depths,” shouted the woman in red.
The massed ranks of oni laughed again, but only until a fireball that fell from the sky destroyed a dozen of the demonic creatures, leaving only smoldering husks and a pool of molten metal that had been shadow weapons.
The Dragon felt fear creep into his jade heart. It was happening again. The Tiger bore her steel claws and covered the distance between them in one giant leap. This was the moment when his sword usually pierced the Tiger heart, but this time, the jade blade got caught in the claws and broke.
The Emperor looked at his sword shortened almost by half. The hilt was still locked with the Tiger’s weapon, so he spun around, and delivered a massive kick to her lower body, sending the woman flying away from her ally, the Phoenix. He turned again, pivoting on his left foot, only to duck beneath a gout of flame. The temperature rose dramatically, as the Phoenix manifested itself in its fullest, a tiny female shape was the only dark spot in the middle of two massive fiery wings.
His armor started melting like it always did in the course of the cycle. In an act of desperation, he hurled his broken sword in her direction. The blade flew unscathed through the firestorm and hit the bull’s eye, sinking in the woman’s chest. Flames were extinguished instantly and his army cheered. The body on the ground was still twitching as he walked towards it. There was no sorrow or pain on her face, only shock and disbelief.
The Green Emperor twisted his broken sword in the chest of the Phoenix and the fire died in her eyes. Indeed, the times had truly changed. He turned around looking for the Tiger, but she was nowhere to be found. It mattered not, for they were writing a completely new history this time.