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Li knew that Burning Tiger had come to her because it was the will of Heaven. There could be no other explanation, just as there was no other explanation for why four Solar Exalted who had been one Circle in the First Age would find each other again from across the width and breadth of Creation.

That didn't make it any easier, of course. It was a terrible burden, this tremendous ancient daiklave. Though it was feather-light in her hands, it weighed on her mind and her spirit incessantly. Her nightmares were gone but only because they had been realized in the waking world.

The battlefield no longer held the peace it once had for her. Li now wondered if that peace had ever truly existed, or if she had deceived herself. She had thought of herself as the eye of a storm, the placid core of a raging maelstrom. But had it all been illusion? When she took up Burning Tiger, she had hunted and killed the Dragon-Bloods to the last man. Would it have been any different without the sword?

She knew she had to master the fury of the sword and of the long-dead Katsuro. There was no other choice for her; the hunger for death that took her over every time she grasped its hilt was a challenge to everything she was. She would bring Burning Tiger to heel or she would die as its slave.

In a strange way she found she loved the ancient, bloody weapon. She hated it too, but it was inextricably part of her now. She would no more abandon it than she would her brothers.

All these things passed through Li of Orchid's mind even as her body moved, practically of its own volition. Burning Tiger blazed in her hands and below her, the valley was filled with demons.

Perhaps, she thought to herself, as she raised the daiklave, these things are pointless. Perhaps I will die here, now, and be free of concerns such as these until my next incarnation. That would certainly be easier.

She banished the weakness from her mind; she would not allow herself an easy solution. She intended to win here.

She charged.

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