Little is known of the girl called Yong-Xi from the days before she was found by the warrior Shin Lao and joined him on his quest for revenge against the Twim. Most villagers claim never to have seen her, but the elders say she was born in the volcanic lands to the east of the village of Lao and simply wandered into camp one day. They speak of Yong-Xi with a reverence usually reserved for the Shin Lao himself, for though she seems to be young, the girl possesses a courage, wisdom, and strength of character that betray her appearance. Those undergoing the trials say they can sense someone or something of great power watching over them on the night before their initiation. But these are rumors and stories told by superstitious men with too much time on their hands. Let’s pick up the real story from where we last left off.
At the sight of the two strangers and their Twim companion, Shin Lao loses all control and throws himself into battle, clawed hands burning with pent-up fury.
With little effort, Shin Lao quickly renders the armored stranger unconscious, causing the Twim with him to fall in a useless heap, shaking the earth as it does. Still overcome by the lion spirit within, Shin Lao turns his rage on Dorothy.
Shin Lao’s flaming fists get so close that Dorothy can feel the hair being scorched from her legs, her vision a glare of yellow and orange, then…nothing. As her vision clears, Dorothy sees an unexpected sight: a girl with dark hair, who looks no older than Dorothy herself, is holding the man-beast at bay with one hand, and seems to possess the same fiery aura that he does.
Dorothy uses this opportunity to get Sheriff Tynmen to safety, but her curiosity about the girl and her opponent get the better of her, and she returns to watch the fight from as close a vantage point as she can manage.
There wasn’t much of a fight to follow. Dorothy stood in awe as, with the same quiet strength she displayed earlier, the young warrior put her palm to her opponent’s forehead and snuffed out his aura, sending the man-lion crashing to the ground before her. The girl looked directly at the tree where Dorothy was hiding and bid her to come out. She was terrified of the girl’s power, but knew somehow that no harm would come to her and did as she was told.
Yong-Xi introduced herself (a name, Dorothy knew from her studies, was a variation on the Chinese word for courage) and apologized for Shin Lao’s actions, offering to heal the Sheriff as a gesture of good faith.
As she did so, Dorothy related her story, telling how she came to be in Oz and of her first encounter with Tynmen and his “Twim” follower, assuring Yong-Xi (and Shin Lao, when he awoke the next morning) that they had nothing to do with the destruction of the East villages.
Discovering they had a goal in common, the four continued their journey together, Dorothy and Tynmen taking the lead with the two villagers hand-in-hand behind them, Shin Lao casting untrusting glances at the Twim bringing up the rear as they ventured deeper into the Western Wood, following a smoke trail they had seen in the distance the previous night.