Wisdom of the Dragon (Chapter Thirty-Nine)
Chapter Thirty-Nine In Which We Learn What Happens Afterward
"Hurry it up," Xiao Yang shouted excitedly. "She's almost here!"
While her sister often preferred more traditional-style clothing, Xiao Yang, like any other day, was wearing a Western-style blouse and skirt. She also had on a vivid-red ribbon that surrounded a glittering brooch.
"I got it, I got it," said the tired voice of Fong as he emerged from the backroom where he treated patients. While usually sharp in appearance, today he seemed impressively more groomed, hair combed back and everything. This was a miracle, given how exhausted he's been lately.
It has been almost a year since the day come to be known as the "Calamity Dragon Incident". As soon as word of what happened reached Fong's ears, he had Obaachan who had recently returned from a trip to Nihon, take over the shop and all of his doctor duties and quickly took an airship provided by a friend from his days as a royal prince to the temple. Upon arriving to the temple, he received the shock of a lifetime. Not only did he find out that his other daughter had survived all these years in the most outlandish way possible as a second personality in Xiao Mei's head, he discovered that the clumsy scholar he had treated was actually his clumsy fiance.
He stayed at the temple for a week, unwilling to part ways from his reunited family. Fong actually wanted to stay longer to spend more time with his family, but after receiving his hundredth-something call from patients begging him to return before it was too late, he had no choice. While he wouldn't give any details, it wasn't hard for Seto, Xiao Mei, and Xiao Yang to imagine the sorts of horrors Obaachan was probably subjecting their patients to.
Speaking of Xiao Mei, the young hero had decided to remain at the temple to complete her training. And there was a lot of studying that still needed to be done, thanks to Sir Geoffrey's rampage messing up the schooling schedule. After what happened with Geoffrey and the Rowdy Rogues, Fong was understandably not happy about Xiao Mei's decision but allowed it after seeing something in his daughter that reminded him of his younger self.
Dr. Green, Pei Bai, also decided not to go with Fong. After a long discussion, the couple had decided there were things that they had built in their years apart that both could not abandon. So, they came to the decision to separate once more. At least, for now.
On the day that Fong returned home, Pei showed up outside of the temple grounds where everyone was seeing the doctor off, no longer disguised as Dr. Green. She looked almost exactly as she did when Fong last saw her in person, albeit older.
"First thing I'm going to do once I'm back at Vai is change my name back," she promised. "After that, once I'm done with what I have to do there, maybe I'll come see you."
"I'll look forward to that," Fong said with a smile as rare as the most valuable jewel in the world.
And he wasn't going home alone. Xiao Yang had decided to go with him, thinking she'd help Fong out with the store while trying to decide what to do with her new life. From the letters and phone calls Xiao Mei would receive later on, it would seem to her that Xiao Yang was making life . . . interesting for their father.
The first few days apart from her sister would feel strange to Xiao Mei. She and Xiao Yang had been together for so long, first as two minds sharing the same brain, and then as real sisters in the temple, so that was understandable. But she was able to push forward with the help of her friends, new and old, and take steps forward to realizing her goal to become a doctor just like her father.
Back at the present . . .
"I still think you should have let me wear that lab coat Jane sent me," Xiao Yang complained.
Along with the ribbon brooch, Jane Mortimer had also mailed Xiao Yang a lab coat for Xiao Yang's birthday. According a note, she had also sent the same things to Xiao Mei.
Although there was plenty of treasures at the temple for a scientist like Jane, Jane had decided against delving into the secrets of the temple's ancient alchemists. The decision baffled her attendants. They wondered if something happened to make her change her mind, but they didn't pry. She did stick around, however, saying that someone needed to be there to make sure Sparrow wouldn't cause anyone trouble. No one bought that excuse, but they kept quiet and let her be. She stayed as long as the scholars did and left with them a few weeks later.
"Don't be ridiculous," retorted her father. "It's not Walpurgis Day, when everyone comes out wearing costumes. If you want to wear it, wear it then. Unless you're planning to become a scientist like Miss Mortimer?"
Xiao Yang scowled back and then waved her father off.
"No way," she said. "We've both seen that I wouldn't cut it."
Which was true. After returning home with Fong, Xiao Yang took an aptitude test, and, unfortunately, despite having shared a life with her sister who always had high scores, her grades were appalling. Just a glance at the sheet of paper the university mailed to the family made Fong's left eye twitch.
"Speaking of scientists, I called Jane last night," said Xiao Yang. "Apparently, Sparrow got mixed up in another case."
"I take it, he's annoyed about that?" Fong said.
Ever since Sparrow returned to the Republic of Vai, he somehow ended up getting mixed up with some kind of crime at least once a week. And every time that happened, he would rise to center stage to solve it. It happened so often, people didn't know whether to consider him a crime magnet or an unwilling hero guided by Fate. But despite all the fame and rewards he got for catching the criminals, Sparrow had grown to hate this weird string of luck because of all the trouble it gave him while he had important scholar work going on. The only silver lining he saw in this luck is that he ended up helping others when they needed help the most. He was often seen with Diana, Harold, and Duncan who help him with his mysteries. And not far behind would be his cousin, Elizabeth, ready to bail him out of trouble.
"Apparently ," Xiao Yang replied. "By the way, where's Seto?"
Seto had also come back home with Fong and Xiao Yang. As Obaachan's grandson, he needed to set things right with the neighbors and patients she ended up tormenting with her unique way of doing things. But he always kept in touch with Li Jiao. Whenever it was his free time, he could be seen on the phone talking to her. Xiao Mei noticed, of course, and would often grumble her irritation to her sister and father, both of whom could only give her their sympathy.
"Obaachan had an errand," Fong explained. "Seto went with her to make sure nothing happens. So it's just you and I here when she comes home."
"She's going to be really disappointed about that," Xiao Yang said with a snicker.
"Please keep that to yourself when she gets here," Fong requested. "Don't go teasing her too much."
"Got it," Xiao Yang said as she went behind the store counter to sit down.
Above her head, the television set hanging at a corner of the ceiling above the store counter played two men relaying the day's news. Both wore sharp Western suits, with one wearing a blue tie while another wore a red one. Between them was an image of Jing and Mei Ling as they introduced to the world their newborn daughter. They were joined by fellow heroes Josephine Desorciere, Sage Larson, Rosalyn Woods, Shinichi, and Megumi Sato. After their time at the Dragon's Temple, life returned to normal for Jing and Mei Ling. Jing continued his research at his workshop, and Mei Ling hanging close by waiting to pull her husband out of the next trouble that falls on their laps.
As for the other Jing and Mei Ling from another world, James and May, as soon as they were sure that everything was resolved and they were no longer needed, they used their mysterious powers called magic to repair the gateway machine to open a portal back home. A military general who was interested in their powers tried to stop them, but they were too fast for him or his soldiers. Once the portal closed, the entire machine turned to ash, leaving no way for the military to follow them, and no excuse for the military to bother Jing and Mei Ling.
A bell chime snapped Xiao Yang out of thought. She turned to the source at the front door and saw a large boar man in monk's attire emerge from it.
"Good morning, everyone!" Huang Zhi, the self-proclaimed descendant of the ancient hero greeted in a loud, boisterous voice. "Wonderful day, is it not?"
After making sure that everything had returned to normal at the Dragon's Temple, Huang Zhi had left to continue his journey across the globe. He had only just a week ago, decided to make a stop in the town where the Fongs lived and visited frequently for friendly chats.
While he stayed at the temple, everyone noticed how stiff Huang Zhi and Master Da were to each other, leading to rumors being spread of bad blood between the two. They were, however, seen together very often during Huang Zhi's stay, always wearing serious looks on their faces.
What no one realized was that Huang Zhi wasn't a descendant of the ancient hero from thousands of years ago. He was the hero, himself. After the defeat of the first Calamity Dragon, he decided to freeze himself so that he'd be there when Ai Long and his dear friend, the Maiden of the Sheathed Sword, would revive. When Xiao Mei's mother opened that secret passage where Huang Zhi was resting, she accidentally activated a machine that reawakened the boar man from his frozen slumber.
"You seem to be in high spirits today," said Fong. "Good news from the temple?"
"Indeed," said Huang Zhi. "According to the Grand Master, Da is finally moving on to the final phase. It won't be much longer before my friend and Ai Long are reborn!"
Like Huang Zhi, after seeing everything return to normal at the temple, Master Da decided to leave. Sir Geoffrey's attack showed the gorilla man that the temple was no longer safe, and moved his laboratory and all of his research somewhere else. Only the Grand Master knew where, and he wasn't going to say anything about it. There were many dangerous people out there who were interested in Master Da's research and Ai Long's alchemy secrets just like Sir Geoffrey, after all.
As for the Grand Master, himself, he returned to running the temple as he always had. He was a bit dejected for a time with his old mentor no longer keeping him company, but he got over it after gaining a new apprentice who would one day take over the role of leader of the temple. Ai Hui couldn't be more proud of Qiang Shi.
"I've had to sit through spiritual teachings, scientific lectures, and tutorship in military tactics, growing up, and I still don't understand what that means," said Fong, shaking his head.
"Don't worry," said Xiao Yang. "It's something very crazy. And that's coming from me."
Fong stared at Xiao Yang for a bit, and then turned away.
"So, is Xiao Mei here yet?" asked Huang Zhi.
"Not yet," said Fong. "Would you like to stick around for dinner? I'm sure she'd be pleased with that."
Huang Zhi shook his head. "Unfortunately, I can't stay. I leave tonight for the eastern provinces. I only have enough time to join the homecoming."
"You sound like a man on a mission," Xiao Yang said. "Is there something you have to do over there?"
"Probably," said Huang Zhi, shrugging. "I'm only going because the young lady, Desorciere told me that I would be needed around the area. She didn't say where exactly, when or what."
"That's rather vague," said Fong. "And you're still going?"
"In my experience, when a prophetess with proven powers shows up giving you vague suggestions, it's better to listen."
" . . . And in other news," the news anchor on television continued, "adventurous hero turned criminal, Sir Bartholomew Geoffrey was spotted near the ruins of the recently discovered lost city located in the Ra Lands. As many know, in the previous year, he was charged with, and confessed to, acts of villainy while trying to unearth lost ancient alchemy which he used to terrorize a remote village and planned to use on world conquest. He was liberated from custody by old friend, Terrance Knightly, who is also a criminal and leader of the pirate league, the Rowdy Rogues."
Xiao Yang, Fong, and Huang Zhi perked up at the mention of Sir Geoffrey's name. None of them could forget or fully forgive the man for the crimes he committed. And all of them would rather he were caught and sent to prison. But when word of his escape from jail spread, only Xiao Mei didn't seem to mind. And she was probably the only one who wasn't surprised to hear that it was Knightly, leader of Sir Geoffrey's rivals, the Rowdy Rogues, who helped him escape.
When asked if she was worried that Sir Geoffrey would cause trouble again, Xiao Mei replied: "Knightly's with him. Knightly will make sure that Sir Geoffrey doesn't go on the wrong path again. After all, they are friends. Fong said that was what friends were for."
It was said that Sir Geoffrey and Knightly, who separated from the Rowdy Rogues, would go on many adventures together. They would have their own airship, named "The Martha." Meanwhile, Zhun would take over and lead the Rowdy Rogues. Under his leadership, the Rowdy Rogues would perform many heroics that would eventually get them pardoned by all the countries that had labeled them as criminals.
The bell at the front door rang again. This time, it was Seto, followed by an old woman wearing a Nihonese kimono.
"We're back!" he called back.
"You're here early," said Fong.
"My errands took a lot less time than I thought," replied Obaachan.
"What were you doing?" Huang Zhi asked.
The old woman held up a basket.
"Groceries," she answered. "What else could I be doing?"
"Probably a whole lot that we're better off not knowing," Fong said dryly. He glanced up at the wall-mounted clock. "Any minute now. Just put those groceries to the side for now. We'll sort them out later."
"Understood, Boss," said Obaachan, moving with her grandson to oblige.
"Look!" Xiao Yang cried out.
Through the windows, they could all clearly see a vehicle stop in front of the store. Perched on the vehicle's top was a familiar large bird with fiery red and orange plumage. The bird spread his wings and took to the skies temporarily as the uniformed driver opened the door to let his passenger out.
Xiao Mei, now taller with shorter hair, took her first steps onto the street that she grew up on. Above, Phoenix dropped down and gently landed on her head. It has been over a year since she looked up at the sign to her father's business. She was hit with a wave of nostalgia looking at it.
So Fong finally had the place repainted, she thought to herself. It was about time.
After thanking the driver and watching him leave, Xiao Mei turned around and walked into the store where her family and friends were waiting.
"Welcome home, Sis!" Xiao Yang cried out.
"It's wonderful to see you!" bellowed Huang Zhi.
Fong coughed and took a deep breath.
"Welcome home," he said.
With a smile on her face, Xiao Mei responded to their enthusiastic greetings with this: "I'm home, everybody!"
- Wisdom of the Dragon (Chapter Thirty-Eight)
In Which The Day Ends