Episode one. Chapter one

An exclusive sneak peek into how it all begins.

(Prequel “The Three Headed Serpent”)

Time was running out.

At any moment the high-guard could break his hold and breach the doors. Lee had to hide ‘The prophecy of the orphan king’ and escape, before they raised the alarm and let in the rest of the Samurai. The last time a prophecy of this magnitude was interpreted by the wrong advisors a Pharaoh in Egypt ordered the slaughter of  low-born boys by the hundreds, a fate he, the travelling monk, the English tutor, the spiritual adviser, the great prophesier, and ultimately the lover of the emperor would not let befall the Chinese Empire.

Nothing could be allowed to challenge the legitimacy of the Childlike-Emperor, if he were to be executed for tarnishing Huanzong’s soul in the eyes of the Daoshi and so take away the protection he had been providing, he would be forsaking everything he had lived for. 

 His back still bracing the doors he scanned the palace library for a batton, something, anything to bolt the doors. He found it ‘there,’ a small notch in the bamboo frame holding the scrolls. 

“Opan d’ha dawls.”

He pushed back harder, using all his weight to keep the doors shut as the guards pounded them with the back of their axe’s.

‘Could I risk it?’

He counted…

They shouted “Open the doors,” followed by two shakes of the door, let up for three seconds and repeated. 

Timing was everything, he would only have a moment.

“Opan d’ha dawls,” hammer, ham… “Now,” step, chop-kick!

He hit the sweet-spot, the frame crashed down and the target piece of bamboo spun through the air. He threw his torso back against the doors and kicked out one steady leg; catching the splint with the bridge of his foot.

“Opan d’ha dawls!” This time their voices rose, and the intensified hammering did not let up, He knew they would resort to the sharp ends of their axes next.

He bent his leg, carefully balancing and bringing the splint within grasp. It took a lot of manoeuvring to force the splint through the shaking door handles but once secured, he could finally let go. Lee eyed his work; it should hold long enough.

Before being chased by a fat balding priest and the high-guard from the emperor’s bed to here, he always thought his prophecies and not his actions may lead to a fate worse than death. 

‘How could I have let the situation go this far, mistake upon mistake? Three times this week we lay together.’ He clutched his chest, ‘what was I thinking? I wasn’t thinking, at least not with my head. How could loving another be this wrong?’

“Stop Lee” He ordered himself. This was not the time; Hide the dooming prophecy and escape.

He cringed at the idea of piling bodies in the streets. ‘Knowing I was the cause for such cruelty would haunt me forever.’

“Foleva! That’ha it.” He cried in his light accent.

‘This might not be the end, my end, after all.’

His focus changed; hide the dooming prophecy and die.

He leaped into action, and started rummaging through the stacks of scrolls, collecting his prophecies, and carefully placing them into a Chinese riddle box. He then moved the secret panels of the box to secure the scrolls inside and placed the box inside a chest which he locked. Key in hand, he scanned the room, paused, and finding no better option, swallowed it.

Next, he stretched across the length of the room to perform a task designed for two; balancing on one leg he inclined his torso and extended his arm to the cornice at one end of the room and on the opposite wall he barely pushed in a brick with the very tip of his toe.

As the brick gave way, he turned the cornice, opening a secret panel inside the floor with a grind. The revolving mechanism was time-sensitive allowing him just enough time to place the chest inside before it closed.

He proceeded to break and splinter several beams into bamboo chips that he doused in water making them inflammable. Then he threw them into a bowl of pot-pourri. From his pocket, he pulled a flint that he struck together igniting the fragrant petals. The smoke from the bamboo chips started filling the room. He wet and draped his under robe around his head and stood in nothing but his drawers. ‘At the very least I won’t die naked.’He moved past the broken frame, navigated a few shelves back, crouched low and waited.

Axe and wakizashi in hand, the Samurai finally broke down the door and stumbled into the room. where the smoke overwhelmed and blinded them. When the first turned a corner Lee was ready. ‘Incapacitate, not kill for they do not know what they are doing,’ he thought, whilst precisely executing his defensive Tai chi. 

Lee chopped the first with the side of his horizontal hand on the throat. He dropped to his knees, gasping and dropping his weapons. Lee caught them and hit him unconscious on the back of his head with the axe handle. He  monkey-crawled till he came across the next target and threw the weapon into the Samurai’s temple who dropped, limp as a rag doll. 

He held his breath, unwound the robe from his head and made for the third guard. He kicked the but of the axe and it popped like a cork from his grip, looped and twisted the material around the wrist and yanked down. The unexpected yank and downward momentum made the Samurai stumble. His chest was met with a knee. Lee slipped past and pulled the wrist up and behind the back then looped the other end around his neck. When the Samurai tried to free his arm the loop choked him and he stopped. Aided by a tug and a whisper into his ear he kneeled down allowing Lee to end the bind around his ankle. Lee pushed him over and there he lay, bent like a bow with a tight bow-string.  

Now to die; he fled the room and made his way through the temple corridors to the altar for part two of his plan.

The ground shuddered when they hit the gong, raising the alarm. Soon the palace would be flooded by the guard. 

The dawn of the century brought with it not only the rise of this great empire, it also brought with it a galactic number of new Gods, new gods that resulted in an intensely strict, rule driven world.

People were no longer simply ill; their souls were out of sorts. You did not have misfortune; you peeved the gods.

Lee longed for a world where one was free to love, longed for a world where you could simply slip and stumble, be annoyingly scatter-brained, and merely have misplaced the necklace the Emperor had to wear to the ceremony. 

Now that was an interesting morning, the morning that after years of loving each other from afar, they finally opened their hearts and gave in to their desires.

At this point though, it would be fair to say that he was never allowed to love, not in the eyes of the old gods or the new.

‘Would that be my legacy? Would I forever be known as the monk, who not only broke his solemn vow and had coitus with another man, but dared to have it with the untouchable Emperor? Who am I kidding’ This was a scandal of enormous proportions they would squash into nothing. There would be lo legacy, no Lee to speak of. ‘I would be erased, it would be as if the the great prophesier had never existed’ 

Lee found the ‘Forever’ totem, snatched it from behind the Xiwangmu shrine, paged through the ‘Book of the ancients,’ one of the first bindings ever made on the pulpit and there he found it ‘The incantation reincarnate’ 

It would be more difficult to execute than he first thought. Reciting the incantation alone was not enough; one also had to believe unequivocally in the goddess’s power, be filled with youthful joy whilst constantly rubbing the totem.

‘Could I manage that while I feel so hurt, so betrayed’

His face lit up, ‘that might do it.’ “Me need see your face, one last time”

He plucked out the page and read the incantation as he ran. 

“Forever he would live

The one found worthy

My soul I deprive

From this body unworthy

Xiwangmu Queen of the West

Grant me the power to not find rest

That I may not cross into the planes of the dead

Live on instead 


Prosperous forever

Decay never

From your wisdom ultimate

I ask thee

Let this be 

Let this be”

Read and repeat, he memorised the incantation. The guards ran into the palace from every entrance, they would surround him soon. He witnessed them make their way up the staircases to his location as he ran to the edge of the balcony. There he started scooping up, in long folds, the yards of draping from a royal banner whilst entwining it around him. 

Once all the guards reached the top floor and encroached on his position he leaped. The banner unfolded from his body, making it twist and turn several dozen times; each revolution bringing him ever closer to the ground far below.

His lifeline came to an end; the banner ended at a fair yet dangerous distance from the bottom, he had to drop.

‘And that is how it is done.’ He landed catlike, his focus unscathed by a feat that would have left any other man bilious.

This life almost at an end he made his way back to the bedchamber where he had to leave Emperor Huanzong in a compromising position and flee, before first light this morning.

‘Please let our love have been real,’ he thought as he startled the surprised guard left at the chamber door. Knee to chest he connected with the man and they crashed through the door. “You!” huffed the winded priest who had long ago given up the chase and returned to pray for the emperor’s tarnished soul.

“ Let him be,” the emperor begged in Mandarin. (Rang ta chengwei) 

Eight Taoist stood between them, two holding back the young emperor.  Lee did not go to him; instead he calmed his mind, his eyes searching for the emperors’ fair face behind the blockade. Their gaze locked whilst the chanting men pushed him back slowly. The priest was not taking any chances and burst through his men, charm in hand. He grabbed Lee by the arm, his enchanted grip searing the prophesiers’ skin. 

As the sun rose in a spectacular display of fire orange and dashes of pink and aubergine, Childlike Emperor Huanzong saw the silhouette of his one and only love framed in the window. From his perspective, Lee saw the tears run freely down his cheeks and he smiled content and filled with reciprocating youthful joyous love.

Confidently, he rubbed the totem between his fingers and repeated the incantation in his mind. The priest shoved, his grip slid down Lee’s arm and a serpent-like scar formed, a scar he would carry into his next life.

Down the side of a towering imperial palace, with his legacy ‘The Prophecy Of The Orphan King’ securely hidden, Prophesier Lee plummeted to his death.


Half a world away, on a pebbled beach in thirteenth century England, during a sunset-sky, magically similar to that of a sunrise in China, Janet got up from her dusk ritual. One cramp later and during what turned out to be the quickest of her three deliveries her son was born. Unturned, and thus feet first, onto the pebbles he fell, the membrane still intact. 

That frightened her; everyone knew a child born in this manner was prone to be bewitched. She worked frantically to break the membrane and rid the world of any evidence.

What she saw next made her collapse.’Was he hurt?’ “No,” she exclaimed.

He carried a mark on his arm in the shape of a serpent.

“Bewitched and touched by a curse.”

In that instant she knew that life would be a series of secrets. She would have to keep him close, keep the mark hidden, no one could know. She wrapped him up in her frocks and awaited the coming of the placenta. Night crept in, his cry rang through the cool air.

She soothed him and spoke his name.

“Morgan,” ‘born of the sea’