General Tsang stepped slowly along the roof of the palace, taking care to not lose his footing, for the Emperor’s little hands were clinging around his neck. From this height, the general was able to see for miles in any direction. He was so far up that the humans and zombies below appeared like tiny ants fighting one another.
Thunderclaps roared and lightning bolts streaked through the clouds, lighting up the sky with each occurrence. Rain began to pour.
“Don’t worry, Your Majesty,” the general said as he stepped to the ledge. There, a long line of bright, glowing lanterns began. They were strung all the way down in a diagonal line to the army barracks, less than half a mile away.
The general took off his belt. “Now, you’ll want to close your eyes, because the key is to not look down…”
General Tsang turned around. Rage Dog and Bingwen had made it to the roof, along with their respective zombie warriors and palace guards.
The sword Rage Dog carried in his last remaining hand caught the general’s eye.
“That isn’t yours,” General Tsang said. “It’s my family’s ancestral relic, passed down through the ages and wielded by a number of men far better than you. It’s killed better men too.”
The Emperor poked his little face up above the general’s shoulder, caught a brief glimpse of Rage Dog, then ducked behind his champion.
“Hand over the boy,” Rage Dog said.
“He is not yours, either,” General Tsang replied. “You are his.” The general turned his attention to Rage Dog’s assorted flunkies. “All of you are his, for he carries the Mandate of Heaven and with it, the sacred birth right to rule over China.”
“Do it or die,” Rage Dog said.
“Bingwen!” the general said. “You bring shame on your ancestors.”
“My ancestors are dead,” Bingwen said. “Life is for the living, for those who are willing to do what needs to be done in order to live for as long as possible.”
Thunderclap! The sky lit up with lightning. The rain poured harder. Rage Dog and the general strained their eyes to see one another through the drops. Their hair and clothing became sopping wet.
“Well, there’s only one of me and at least twenty of you,” the general said. “I will have to…”
The general put up his fists. “…kill you all!”
Rage Dog pointed at the old man. “Seize him!”
Bingwen, the zombies, and the palace guards approached with weapons drawn. The thunder rolled and the lightning grew brighter and brighter until….BLAM! A massive beam of light shot down from the heavens, vaporized all of the attackers save for Rage Dog, and tore a giant hole through the palace roof. The beam was so bright that neither Rage Dog nor the general dared look at it.
The general seized the opportunity. “Hold on, Your Majesty!” General Tsang lept into the air, caught the line with his belt and then…pop, pop, pop! Each lantern exploded as the belt delivered the general and his charge on down the line.
Rage Dog kept his back turned on the light. He stood and sneered, then remembered Dragonhand’s warning: “If you fail me, kill yourself and save me the trouble.”