"Okay, why did you two interfere?" Mantis asked. The two strangers were facing Po and the Five, who were ready anytime if they tried anything. The wolf and the snow leopards sure had saved Tigress, but it wasn't certain that they could be trusted just yet – it just seemed too convenient that two strangers would suddenly barge in and save her. "Tigress could handle it herself."
"Tigress?" the wolf asked. He didn't sound ignorant or anything, but rather confused. Soon enough he realized that Tigress was in fact a tigress. "Oh, that's your… name? Or is it a nickname?"
"No, that is my name," Tigress replied calmly as she still looked at the two in a very suspicious way. "Who are you two?"
"My name is Yin Yueliang," the snow leopard introduced himself with a calm and cool tone of voice. Tigress didn't recognize his name or anything about him, but he was also kind of hard to 'read' – he seemed cold and also seemed to be locking the world out as if he didn't want anyone to get near him – just like Tigress had been earlier that day.
"And I'm…" the wolf started and pushed the snow leopard out of the way – he had been standing in front of the wolf the whole time. "My name is Jin Taiyang."
No, Tigress couldn't seem to remember those names… Jin Taiyang… Yin Yueliang… Whoever they were, they talked to her as if she should know who they were. Had they been stalking Tigress or the others in any way? Maybe that was how they managed to appear out of thin air and save Tigress. But no, they didn't even know her name… so they most likely weren't – unless they were lying.
"Why are you even here?" Viper asked the two – even she did not seem to trust them.
"It was pretty much just to save Tigress," Yin interrupted the wolf and walked in front of him. In response Jin kicked the back of Yin's leg, bringing him to his knees, then grabbed him by his neck skin and threw him aside.
"No, there's much more reason behind it," Jin finally said in a more serious tone of voice. Jin quickly looked around as Yin got to his feet and walked over to him. "But maybe we should get back to the Jade Palace first."
"You know of Jade Palace?" Crane asked suspiciously.
"Duh, who doesn't?" Yin asked and brushed the dust off of his jacket.
"True, true," Monkey agreed, and eventually they all nodded to themselves as they realized that it was true. Eventually they all started walking back towards the palace. For a minute or so they walked in silence, mainly because no one really trusted Yin and Jin, but eventually Po managed to break the silence.
"That fighting you did back there was pretty cool," he said, letting his inner Kung Fu fan boy peek out, which the Five could easily sense, since it was a common part of their lives. "What styles do you use?"
"I use Nan Quan," Jin replied.
"Oh~, so you're from the south," Po said, sounding somewhat surprised. Come to think of it, Tigress could actually hear a slight difference in the way that he pronounced some words and he also talked a little bit faster than the others. "Cool, what about you Yin?"
"Feng Shou," Yin replied calmly. He then did a few quick battle stances. "Even faster than the Viper and Mantis styles combined."
"We'll have to see about that one day," Mantis said, sounding somewhat insulted and bitter, while Viper just seemed to ignore this comment. Maybe Yin just had an arrogant attitude and didn't even know the other styles very well, Tigress thought… or maybe he had a very, very bad sense of humor.
"So who taught you in your styles? Master Oogway?" Po asked, sounding somewhat hopeful. Master Oogway was the founder of Kung Fu, who passed away about two or three years ago. He was also considered the greatest and the wisest of all Masters, even surpassing Tigress and the others' Master, Shifu.
"No; if he had, do you think, I would have the attitude that I have?" Yin asked, confusing the others a little. Was he fully aware that he was acting incredibly ignorant? None of the Five, or Po for that matter, had ever met someone who would fully admit that he was an egoist.
"I was taught by Oogway for a while, then I was taught by Master Wolf for a while and then I finished my training with Master Shunfeng," Jin replied. Tigress and the others couldn't help but wonder why he had switched Master three times. Maybe because he was training with other students at the same time and maybe he was either ahead or behind the others. Or maybe he just chose to try and train with different Masters. "And I taught Yin how to fight, but definitely not how to behave."
"No, I taught myself that, thank you," Yin said sarcastically. "But you guys don't have to tell us; we know all about you."
"You do?" Po asked and the others stopped walking, looking at Jin and Yin in a very suspicious way.
"No, all we really know is that you train with Master Shifu and you live at Jade Palace," Jin said and gave Yin a stern look, which the snow leopard fully ignored. The duo started walking and so did the others, though they were even more suspicious towards them now.
"Then I suppose you also know about the incident in Gongmen City," Crane said suspiciously, though he also sounded a little curious. Both Jin and Yin nodded.
"Of course – Lord Shen, the canon, the battle…" Jin stopped for a few seconds and looked at Po for a second. "… your family – everything."
"Wait, what?" Po asked surprised, somewhat shocked in fact. How would these two know about his family? Or were they only referring to what Shen did to them? That would be more likely, so Po decided to go with that.
"What? Of course we know the cause of Shen's actions," Jin replied, confirming Po's relief, even though it also made the tiny hope he had inside die down again. Oh well, if his family was alive, it would be up to him to find them… someday.
Eventually the duo along with Po and the Furious Five arrived back at the Jade Palace. It had taken quite a while to get there, mainly because Jin and Yin had argued most of the way through the village… about stuff that had almost driven Tigress and her friends insane by the time they reached the palace.
The front gate was opened by the palace's staff members and the eight warriors walked inside. Jin and Yin didn't seem as amazed and amused as Po had the first time he really got to see what was behind the gates… or maybe they had even been there before.
"So?" Po asked the two.
"So what?" Yin asked, sounding somewhat ignorant.
"So?... is that your only reaction to entering this place?"
"Pretty much," Yin said, calmly as if it was a stupid question that didn't need to be answered.
"Have you been here before?" Tigress asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Yes, we were here before we went to save you," Jin replied. Tigress still didn't like the sound of that sentence – she didn't need to be saved. If they hadn't arrived, she still would have defeated the lynxes faster than they could do their "Three, two, one, showtime!"
The eight continued across the beautiful outside are of the palace where some of the students' training took place. There was even one of the stands for their Bo Staffs they sometimes used for training, since someone (Monkey) had seemingly forgotten to take it inside after he had used it. But as soon as the eight had passed by it, three of the geese that worked in the palace staff finally decided to move it inside.
"Those guys are so fun," Jin said once the three geese were gone.
"Fun?" Crane asked.
"Yeah, you could almost get them to do anything for you." The wolf chuckled a little to himself, and none of the others, not even Yin, could see the funny thing in what he had just said moments ago. Or maybe he had somehow abused them when they were there earlier, like told them to get him a lot of things, even though it probably would have annoyed Shifu.
Finally they all entered the Hall of Warriors – after telling Yin and Jin to touch absolutely none of the artifacts in the hall. The Hall of Warriors was a legendary hall full of mementos of dead Kung Fu Masters, completely exclusive to Jade Palace. Most of the artifacts had all belonged to Masters who were so legendary that anyone who practiced Kung Fu would know who they were – at least Po and the Five knew them.
Tigress looked over at Jin and Yin and noticed that they hardly seemed impressed, even though it was as if they were searching for something as they walked through the Hall… maybe they were thieves! No, if they were, why would they even go get Tigress and her friends before trying to steal something? That was both illogical and stupid.
Finally Tigress could see the recognizable figure of her Master, standing in front of the Dragon Pool and looking into the water. The pool was somewhat deep, but it was famous for the golden dragon statue that hung from the ceiling above it. In its mouth, the dragon statue housed the legendary Dragon Scroll, the artifact, which was what had made Po the Dragon Warrior he was today, even though most of him was something he had made himself… handcrafted so to speak.
Shifu's ears twitched as he heard the others approach and he slowly turned around to face them. Shifu had a very serious face on, in fact he also looked a little worried.
"Have you explained everything to them?" Shifu asked. Jin and Yin nodded. Obviously they had met and talked earlier that day, since Shifu seemed to have a very calm attitude towards them… at least Jin.
"Yes… Well… kind of… the most important details have been left out, but we'll tell them right away," Jin said, making the others hold their breath in expectation, waiting for the wolf to explain.
"Please start with why you're here," Shifu said calmly.
Or why you're really here, Tigress thought as she and her friends sat down alongside Shifu as Jin and Yin were about to explain.
"We came here to protect… you, whatever your name was," Yin said and turned towards Tigress. Tigress just raised an eyebrow and the others were amazed at how disrespecting Yin had just addressed Tigress.
"She already told you, her current name is Tigress," Jin growled at Yin in a warning tone, signaling that Jin wanted him to use a more polite and respecting tone.
"Current name?" Po asked confused. He wasn't the only one who was confused – everyone else in the Hall was on the fence of not trusting the duo. They almost still too weird to trust – not that they couldn't be trusted.
"Yeah, what do you mean with that?" Mantis asked confused. He sat on Monkey's shoulder and Yin seemed to have failed to notice him up till now… even though he had heard him talk earlier.
"What we mean is that her name right now is Tigress," Yin replied mysteriously. Tigress and everyone else looked at each other, none of them understanding whatever the two were talking about. "Just like you, Dragon Warrior; your current name is Po Ping, right?"
"Eh… yes," Po replied, sounding very confused. Did they know something about him that Po didn't even know himself? If so, what was it, and how did they know? "But what are you…?"
"Nothing, we just saved the lady, that's what's important," Yin interrupted Po and started walking back and forth in front of the others. Now Tigress couldn't stand it anymore.
"Fine, I understand you saved me for some reason, and I'm grateful for that, but why?" Tigress finally asked, trying to say it as calmly as she could manage. "That's all I want to know."
Jin quickly pushed Yin out of the way before the snow leopard could come up with some kind of rude answer. "Right, I guess we need to explain that. It started a long time ago…"
Jin: "It was about twenty-five years ago, back when I was a young man…"
Yin: "Skip that – it's got nothing to do with her!"
Jin: "I was just trying to give them an idea of how long ago it was!"
Shifu: "Doesn't matter, just continue."
Jin: "Oh well, there was this man called Wangji Guoqu. He was a very rich lord, who owned a big fortress in the southern mountains."
A grown tiger stood in front of a big door – the door to his palace. He had orange fur all over with black stripes and some white fur on his muzzle. He wore some very formal robes, which were mainly red with some golden details and trims.
Po: "But what's that got to do with Tigress?"
Yin: "You'll see."
Yin: "Hear, whatever; it's not important, back to the story!"
Jin: "Yeah, well, either way, he also had a family – a beautiful wife called Meifeng." A beautiful tigress came out through the door and joined her husband as they looked out over a beautiful valley. She had orange fur all over, just like her husband did as well as black stripes and some white on her muzzle. She wore a beautiful fiery red silk dress with black trims and golden flame and phoenix patterns.
Jin: "But your-, I mean Wangji had a rival. His name was Hei Shi Kongju."
The picture changed to that of a black lion standing atop a fortress, looking out at a big valley. He wore some dark gray robes with golden trims, almost of as high quality as Wangji and his wife's outfits. For some reason it was also stormy around Hei Shi and his black mane was waving in the wind.
Jin: "And Hei Shi had a giant army…" There were also a lot of guards guarding a nearby palace; Hei Shi's palace. "… Actually they were all outcasts, whom he had promised a better life if they obeyed him… Anyways, he was still very jealous towards Wangji."
Jin: "Because the two had grown up in the same town, and Wangji had always been better and more successful at everything… That's why."
Viper: "Oh, okay…"
Jin: "Where were we… oh, right, the two also knew Kung Fu like we do. The one day where the real hatred started, they both took part in a Kung Fu tournament."
Wangji and Hei Shi stood facing each other in a ring surrounded by many spectators. The arena was surrounded by tall walls, and was very similar to the Jade Palace, except it was much, much higher quality – amazingly enough. More of the tiles in the roof were golden and there was room for even more spectators than there was at Jade Palace.
Hei Shi jumped forwards with a powerful kick, but Wangji jumped backwards, spinning around and hitting Hei Shi in the back with a kick, sending the black lion straight into the ground. Hei Shi just barely managed to land on his feet by supporting himself with his hand. Soon enough he jumped up again and attacked Wangji with a hail of fast and powerful Lion Punches. Wangji managed to dodge and block most of them and finally got Hei Shi's one arm in a lock with his own, then delivered a massive punch to the black lions face. Hei Shi stumbled backwards for a bit, then he was hit by a kick to his chest. Hei Shi fell backwards and landed on the ground… outside the ring. And thus the match was decided.
Jin: "Wangji easily outmatched Hei Shi."
Mantis: "And that's really the only thing that made Hei Shi angry with Wangji?"
Jin: "No, Hei Shi had also been in love with Lady Meifeng, who later married Wangji, which also factors in on the hatred that Hei Shi felt towards Wangji."
"That's not nice," Monkey said once Jin was done explaining.
"Definitely not," Jin said in a serious tone of voice. After that there was completely silent for a moment. Tigress tried to understand what this story meant… if it even had anything to do with anything.
"So those lynxes worked for Hei Shi?" Po asked. It seemed likely as they seemingly weren't working by themselves. At least, they didn't seem to really steal it, but rather bring it to someone. Otherwise, they probably wouldn't have been using wagons.
Suddenly Tigress noticed that Yin hadn't been saying a word all along – all he did was just sit by himself and stare at the ring on his finger. It seemed a little weird, since Tigress had already learned that he wasn't that much of a quiet type, so this seemed out of character to her.
"But what's that got to do with me?" Tigress finally asked, a question that had been on her mind all the while. There were a few possible answers, of which one in particular had started a flame inside of her – one that would change her life forever. Her heart was now beating faster and she just waited for her answer.
Jin looked at her for a moment, then at Yin, then at the others. He was a little unsure of what to tell her, which Yin could see in his eyes. In response Yin sent him a look, which told him to just say the truth. Jin turned back to Tigress. "You see… Wangji was at one point murdered by Hei Shi, and since then he's kept Meifeng hostage. But Wangji and Meifeng also had children – three. One of them was murdered by Hei Shi's army. The two others… I had to bring the daughter to an orphanage, while I dropped the son off in the village in which Wangji and Hei Shi were born – Hei Shi hated that place, so I figured he wouldn't go there. But I separated them just to make sure that they wouldn't be harmed."
The room was silent for a few minutes. No one said anything, just simply stared at each other as they were all realizing what Jin was talking about. But no one even dared asking… except for Crane.
"Wait, so… so Tigress is one of them?" Crane asked cautiously. Everyone in the room kept quiet for a few more seconds. Tigress felt completely hollow inside as if this news had just washed everything she had ever thought and known away. In fact, Tigress had once thought that she had been abandoned because she was unwanted. But now that had changed.
"Yes," Yin replied without even looking at the others. Finally he looked directly at Tigress, his cold blue eyes meeting her fiery orange ones. "You are Wangji's daughter… Aiyun Guoqu."