Wisdom of the Dragon (Chapter Ten)
Chapter 10 In Which They Learn of the Ancient Past
"I'm sure many of you are familiar with the origins of Huang Zhi," Li Jiao started. "His encounter with a monk and a young girl led him down the path to become one of the Ancient Empire's greatest heroes for peace and harmony. While Huang Zhi eventually grew up to become the Boar Warrior of Peace, the young girl who he started his journey with grew up to become the Maiden of the Sheathed Sword.
"Although they did not share the same blood, they had become like brother and sister and worked together as such on their shared mission to bring peace and harmony to all people, excluding neither chimera or humans. It was said that the Maiden of the Sheathed Sword and Huang Zhi had stumbled upon a clan of swordsmen who had set up a settlement where the monastery now stands while wandering through the valley. Even back then, the clan was considered ancient. The clan was an old order that carried a very important mission that could be dated to the beginning of civilization digging its roots on the soil of Atlantis. And in charge of guiding and leading this clan was the great dragon, Ai Long, former denizen of the original sacred city of Atlantis, birthplace of those we would call gods."
"And what was this clan's mission?" asked Diana.
"Why the protection of this world's peace and order, of course," said Li Jiao. "They spread throughout the world in order to correct the great distortions caused by the mistakes of the first Atlanteans, sealing away the ancient technology that gave the Original City its incredible power."
"Just sealing it away?" went Duncan. "All of it?"
"All of it," Li Jiao replied with a nod. "They felt that the current world was not ready for the return of such power."
"Sounds a bit wasteful to me," said Harold. "I mean, sure some of it might be a bit too dangerous to leave lying around for anyone to use, but I'm sure there are plenty that could do a lot of great good too!"
"I'm sure you're right," said Li Jiao. "But just as one thing could be used for good, it can also be used for evil. The reverse is also true. Take a knife, for example. With it, we can cook, create art, and even save lives, as is the case with surgeon doctors. However, knives have also been used for terrible deeds such as murder and torture. While it is true that the people of the Original City was able to prosper with their amazing power and knowledge, it was also by this power that they were forced to flee from Gaius, the other world and the Original City eventually fell. I am certain that the Ai Long and his fellow creatures of higher power did not desire a repeat of the tragedy that befell their own people.
"Anyway, back to the story.
"Huang Zhi and the girl were quickly accepted by the clan as one of their own, and began to further train and learn from the clan, and the clan from them. The journey that Huang Zhi and the girl took with their mentor, the monk, had given them both great wisdom that Ai Long respected and thought his followers could learn from. And learn, they did.
"The monk had left a deep impression on both Huang Zhi and the girl who would become the Maiden of the Sheathed Sword. He had taught them how valuable and precious life is. Taking those lessons of peace and kindness to heart, Huang Zhi and the Maiden of the Sheathed Sword made a vow to the heavens to protect life and show mercy whenever possible. Sadly, it was a vow that proved difficult to uphold with so much strife in the world. But they never gave up trying.
"The Maiden of the Sheathed Sword was quick to master the sword skills of the clan and soon joined in their mission. However, the Maiden refused to draw her blade against another living being, instead fighting with her weapon still sheathed. This was how she earned the name Maiden of the Sheathed Sword. She would stop bandits, fiends, and villains with violence when there was no other way, but she would never kill. She even allowed them to join her, hoping to reform them into a force for good.
"Understandably, there were members of the clan who questioned her motives, suspicious that something sinister might come about from her kindness. Unfortunately, their suspicions were proven right a few times, for there had been a few cases where some who the Maiden had shown mercy to would return to their nefarious ways. But the rest of the former rogues were true to their sworn loyalty to the Maiden of the Sheathed Sword and fought their hardest to the bitter end to see the world at peace again. In fact, plenty of them eventually became legendary heroes as famous as Huang Zhi and the Maiden herself.
"But although the clan was right a few times to be careful with the men and women the Maiden had given second chances to, they were not as careful with their own people. Among the members of the clan, there was one who had selfish and evil goals. He was Wei Sheng. Originally, he was the son of one of the leaders of the clan who showed promise as his father's successor. However, for reasons unknown to this day, he became obsessed with the power of the ancients. He learned everything he could about them, and used what he learned to make himself more and more powerful.
"Eventually, he set his eyes on Ai Long's powers. It wasn't a secret that Ai Long's power came from the wisdom of the ancients, the same wisdom that Wei Sheng had pursued for so many years. Wei Sheng wanted to know more about how Ai Long became the great dragon. He wanted to become a great dragon himself.
"Wei Sheng's obsession sparked a schism among the clan. One side was swayed by Wei Sheng's words and promises of a brighter future with the power their ancestors had fought long and hard to suppress. They felt as Harold did, that it although there is danger, they were wise enough to use the power of the Original City. The other side who remained faithful to the teachings of Ai Long felt differently, that mankind is still not ready for the wisdom of the dragons of old.
"Huang Zhi, the Maiden of the Sheathed Sword and her followers tried to remain neutral, unwilling to take either side and unable to decide which side was right and which was wrong. Instead of taking a side, they decided to prepare for the inevitable conflicts. They knew that eventually it would come to fighting, so they had the farmers, the servants, the women, and the children flee the valley and take shelter at the nearby villages.
"The day soon came when it became an all-out war. Ai Long tried to stop the conflict as best he could but even he couldn't put out the flames. No matter what he said, or what he did, he could not dissuade Wei Sheng from ceasing his quest for power. And Wei Sheng would stop at nothing to get what he wanted. He was cruel, ruthless, and cunning. He used trickery and deceit to unbalance the opposing side while getting more supporters. Ai Long, for all his wisdom, could only hold out for so long."
"Really?" went Duncan. "I can hardly believe that a thousand-year-old dragon would have a hard time dealing with a fight between mortals."
"As a creature of peace and harmony, the use of force should only be a last resort," said Li Jiao. "And there was no way he could ever hurt the men and women who were like his own children. He personally watched over all of the clansmen when they were young. It deeply hurt his heart to see them at each other's throats. And Wei Sheng was incredibly smart and talented. His skills in alchemy would probably be a match for even Master Wu, who not only holds a lot of power in the alchemist community, but was also the youngest ever to be awarded the title of Meister from the Minister of Alchemy of Deutschland, and is an official member of the World Council of Magister Alchemists. All at around the age of eighteen."
"That's really ironic, considering his alternate universe Gaius version is a complete moron," said the voice in Xiao Mei's head. "And that guy, unfortunately for that alternate universe, holds some kind of ultimate power."
Having watched video recordings of the antics of Jing Wu's double from another universe, Xiao Mei could not argue.
"So cunning was Wei Sheng," Li Jiao continued, "that beneath all the conflict between two sides of the same clan, he had slowly unlocked the secrets behind Ai Long's powers, researching and experimenting without anyone noticing, realizing, or knowing. By the time he succeeded, it was too late for anyone to stop him. He created his formula from researching Ai Long's blood, scales, fur, fangs, and claws that he had gathered over the years. After that, he drank that formula and transformed. No more was he human. He became what he and so many others had admired for so many generations. He had become a dragon.
"But he was not like Ai Long. While Ai Long remained a spirit of kindness with a desire for peace and harmony, Wei Sheng had allowed his greed for power to dirty his heart, and so became a spirit of darkness. He could not handle the power of the dragon and went wild. Monsters suddenly rose from the shadows and rampaged throughout the entire valley. If Ai Long had not sensed them in time, they would have overwhelmed the entire clan. He managed to push them back with a powerful barrier long enough for all of his children to escape. But because he was busy trying to protect the clan, he could not defend himself from Wei Sheng who had become the Dragon of Calamity.
"Ai Long could not fight back when the Dragon of Calamity attacked. Not when his clan was in danger. And the clan members could do nothing except watch in horror as their patron spirit was on the verge of defeat by a horrible monster. The proud warriors of an ancient warrior were as helpless as newborn children against the rise of what was sure to be an age of darkness.
"But of all the men and women who just watched, paralyzed by their own fear, there was one who would not stand still. Huang Zhi and the Maiden of the Sheathed Sword charged at the monsters and fought back with everything they had. The Maiden of the Sheathed Sword screamed at the warriors of the clan. Her clan. It was said that her battle cries and roars of righteous fury more than Huang Zhi's snapped the other warriors out of their stupor and revived their fighting spirits. The clan rallied together and followed the Maiden of the Sheathed Sword, with Huang Zhi proudly fighting by his sister's side. They ran out of their master's barrier and engaged the monsters in an all-out war.
"The Maiden of the Sheathed Sword was the first to reach Ai Long who was soon to fall. She urged Ai Long to not give up. To keep on fighting. But Ai Long was too deeply wounded. With a heavy heart, he begged the Maiden of the Sheathed Sword to save his son, Wei Sheng. He gave the Maiden every ounce of power he had left before passing at last to join his brethren from the Original City. With the power Ai Long had given her, the Maiden confronted the wild beast.
"The Maiden poured all her heart into the power she had been given so her wish would be granted. Her kindness fueled the power Ai Long had given her, allowing it to greatly grow until it was far more than even what Ai Long had in the height of his power. And that power of kindness bathed the entire valley in its light, pushing back the dark powers of the Dragon of Calamity. No monster could withstand the glow of pure kindness and they disappeared. Not even the Dragon of Calamity could resist, and he, too, vanished."
Once Li Jiao was finished with her story, Xiao Mei realized that she had been holding her breath, and quickly gasped for more air.
"What happened after that?" asked Diane. "Did she manage to save Wei Sheng? And what happened with the Maiden now that she had the powers of Ai Long? Did she become the new dragon for the clan?"
"I'm afraid that this is where the story ends," said Li Jiao. "The masters had only found records of the legend up to that point. Unfortunately, the rest were lost to time."
"What?" exclaimed the children. "You've got to be kidding me."
Xiao Mei mirrored the other's disappointment inside. She seriously wanted to know what happened to the Maiden and Wei Sheng, and the rest.
"I know how you feel," said Li Jiao. "The Grand Master also feels the same. Actually, I believe that one of the reasons he invited the scholars here is so that particular mystery could be solved."
Everyone turned around. Standing at the door frame to a hallway was the gorilla man,
"Master Da!" Li Jiao exclaimed. She got to her feet and did a respectful bow with her hand wrapped around her fist.
"So that's his name," said the voice in Xiao Mei's head. "I've always wondered what it was."
Xiao Mei mentally told the voice to hush before copying Li Jiao and Qiang Shi, bowing to the master of the monastery.
"Loitering about, are we?" the gorilla said, his furry arms crossed over his chest.
"N-not at all, Master," Li Jiao stammered. "I was just relaying an old tale of the monastery to them."
The gorilla glared at them all. Xiao Mei could barely keep from fidgeting with nervousness.
Finally, the gorilla went "Hmph! Off with you then! The cleaners will be coming soon to do their job. I don't want anyone getting in the way of their work."
"Yes, Master," said Li Jiao. "Come. Let's go."
And the children all followed Li Jiao out of the hall.
"Geez, that's one scary chimera," squawked Diana.
"You could say that again," said Qiang Shi. "Master Da is probably one of the strictest masters in the history of this place."
"Now Qiang Shi," said Li Jiao, "he's only being serious about his work as master."
"A bit too serious, if you ask me."
While running off, Xiao Mei glanced back. Before the gorilla disappeared from her sight, Dr. Green suddenly appeared beside him, along with the Grand Master. For some reason, she felt that they were looking directly at her.
- Wisdom of the Dragon (Chapter Nine)
Time for the kids go go exploring.
- Wisdom of the Dragon (Chapter Eleven)
Word is a monster is lurking the halls of the temple.