Now, we shall end with the beginning
Seventeen years ago, in the Hell of Being Cut to Pieces, thousands of sinners screamed as they were eviscerated over and over again. But one shriek in particular was distinguishable and unique.
“Ching Dai, I was your humble servant for centuries. Why have you placed me here?” questioned Lo Pan.
In mortal time, Lo Pan arrived here only a few days ago. But time moves faster in Hell. So Lo Pan feels like he’s been tortured here for decades. He had been sliced into small pieces, reformed, and chopped up again in an unending agonizing cycle. As with all the sinners here, Lo Pan had his own multi-armed demon attendant. In each hand, the demon held a different bizarre and unusual knife, some were used to cut bone, others were used to cut flesh, all caused great pain. Lo Pan was upright with his feet shackled to the ground and his arms held up by chains that seem to extend into the infinite blackness. Lo Pan’s torso was cut open from chin to belly button. His skin and rib cage were split and folded open like a baked potato.
Lo Pan had been calling to his master since he arrived without a response. He was pleased when he finally arrived.
Lo Pan cried, “Ching Dai!”
Ching Dai, with eyes of purple flame and robed in the blackest of black cloth accented with gold spun so fine that it was almost transparent, towered over the sinners and the knife demons. He enjoyed this Chamber of Hell. Not only were the greatest of sinners in wretched agony here but the fine mist of blood that filled the air was good for his sinuses. When Ching Dai found Lo Pan, he approached him. The demon that was hacking up Lo Pan stopped his work, took a step back and bowed respectfully to Ching Dai.
“Yes, my faithful servant.” answered Ching Dai.
“Please release me from here. I served you faithfully for centuries, spreading chaos in the mortal realm in your honor. Please let your most dedicated disciple leave this place.”
“Yes, you have served me well Lo Pan,” responded Ching Dai as he slowly stroked Lo Pan’s raw lungs with his long fingernail, “Thousands worshipped me because they feared you. Your enslaved enemies built many temples in my honor. You were the greatest of my great servants.”
Lo Pan took a breath to ease the pain, “Then why am I here, my Master?”
Ching Dai licked his finger, “Oh my humble servant, such is the price.”
“The price?” Lo Pan asked.
“Why, the price of failure, of course!” spoke a voice from behind Ching Dai.
Ching Dai and several nearby demons turned around to find a man of chiseled features and a well-pressed Armani suit staring up at Ching Dai. His presence was a surprise to all.
“Is there no greater sin than failure?” questioned the man.
Ching Dai shrieked, “A mortal? Here?”
The figure bowed slowly and respectfully, “My name is General Gonsung Chang, most Exalted One. It is quite an honor to meet you.”
He turned slightly to Lo Pan and bowed only somewhat, “And you as well my Lord.”
Ching Dai then noticed something hanging from Chang’s neck.
"The Lost Medallion of Xichua,” grumbled Ching Dai, “Damn, I really hate that thing.”
As one could have guessed from Ching Dai’s reaction, The Lost Medallion of Xichua was a powerful magic artifact. Among other things it allowed the wearer to contact Ching Dai directly and even allow him to make a small request of the ancient Demon God.
Ching Dai gasped, “Where was the medallion found this time?”
Chang grinned, “It was hidden and protected in a small village for quite a while until one my loyal troops found it and gave it to me. It took me many years to find out what it is and how to use it. But only mere moments to figure what I wanted to do with it.”
“Fine. What do you ask of me mortal?” asked Ching Dai, “You best be quick. That thing won’t protect you for long down here.”
“Just a simple request Great One.”
General Chang pointed toward Lo Pan.
Ching Dai laughed heartily, “No naïve mortal one. You can not bring back Lo Pan to your world. He was killed through mortal means by a mortal – a rather stupid one even by mortal standards if you ask me but that is of no matter. My point is that there are rules that even I must abide.”
“Forgive me Great One,” asked Chang , “I did not mean ALL of Lo Pan.”
One eye flame became higher than the other on Ching Dai. Chang assumed that meant that Ching Dai was raising an eyebrow in confusion.
“JUST HIS HEART!” sneered Chang .
Ching Dai’s eyes widened and the purple flame intensified momentarily. Though still technically a man, Lo Pan had been granted powers from Ching Dai’s formidable magic to the point where even parts of him were potential magic artifacts in themselves, each containing an aspect of Lo Pan’s vast powers. Ching Dai smiled. He would never say it to the mortal but the request was indeed intriguing.
“So you wish to have Lo Pan’s immortality?” asked Ching Dai.
“Yes, Ching Dai” bowed Chang.
“You understand that to do so would mean that your own heart will need to removed and Lo Pan’s heart put in its place?”
“Yes, Ching Dai,” bowed Chang once more.
"You also understand you will feel unimaginable pain with each slice and stitch. “
“Yes, Ching Dai,” bowed Chang without hesitation.
Ching Dai paused for a moment. He thought that his last statement would surely set him running back to the world of man. But it didn’t. At the very least, Ching Dai thought, he had to look at him once more and commit his likeness to memory.
“Very well,” shrugged Ching Dai.
With a flourish of his robe, Ching Dai turned around and grabbed a knife from the demon next to Lo Pan. Ching Dai then proceeded to cut out Lo Pan’s heart. Lo Pan pulled on his chains and screamed in agony. Ching Dai turned back to General Chang and handed him Lo Pan’s still beating heart. Chang took it in his hands. Ching Dai gestured and the medallion floated then disappeared, transported back to a random location in the mortal realm.
“If a thousand years passes before someone finds that damn thing again and asks me for something it will be too soon,” complained Ching Dai.
He turned to the knife demon and continued, “These idiotic mortals. It’s always I want to have riches this or I want to conquer that, women, power, blah, blah, blah. At least this guy was half-way interesting,”
The demon shrugged his many shoulders and nodded in agreement. Ching Dai turned back toward Chang,
“One more thing.” Ching Dai gestured at something to Chang’s right and he turned to see what it was. But before Chang could react, Ching Dai used his index finger to claw a small but nasty wound would under Chang’s left eye. Ching Dai knew it would leave a hellish scar on the mortal’s face.
“That,” bellowed Ching Dai, “was for interrupting me while I was talking.”
Ching Dai then turned and gave his back to Chang.
“Go now mortal. You have your request.”
Ching Dai gestured and Chang bowed, disappearing back to the mortal world. As Chang faded, Ching Dai lamented on the mortal’s request. He reveled in the fact that granting a man Lo Pan’s heart would be the cause of much chaos in the mortal world. Then a glorious thought dawned on Ching Dai: if giving one piece of Lo Pan to one mortal would create great chaos in the realm of man, then giving several pieces to several mortals would surely mean the utter destruction of their world!
Lo Pan interrupted, “Ching Dai, please Magnificent One, release me. I will not fail you again. ”
Ching Dai moved closely to Lo Pan, placing his fingers under Lo Pan’s chin to bring his face closer.
Lo Pan continued, “Please, let me go. My Great Master, I shall serve you well once more.”
Ching Dai’s sinister booming voice replied, “INDEED!”
Ching Dai took a step back then nodded to the knife demon who began to cut off pieces of Lo Pan that his master needed. Lo Pan convulsed in vile pain. Ching Dai then gestured and several other knife demons joined in.
Seventeen years ago, in the Hell of Being Cut to Pieces, thousands of sinners screamed as they were eviscerated over and over again. Lo Pan’s torturous shriek echoed over them all. But even that was soon drowned out by Ching Dai’s own laughter.