Chapter 1

Drums stole the stars, creating a heart-beat for the dancers. Crimson and gold, they turned and twisted and fell like leaves on a sunset wind. The moon, so bright and large, lit up the confetti falling to the street like floating angels. The painted head of a dragon shunted and heaved, 10 men under a sheet trailing behind in a magnificent cocoon of orange. The drums kept on, and people danced behind them.

The crowd hushed down the street from him as Gōngzhǔ (Meaning Princess) Lóng er was carried down the road. She stood in a pool of silver stones, painted waves crashing down her cart. She wore a long Han Fu robe, with a dark blue, waved-patterned trim, and turquoise ribbons. Irises adorned her hair, with a silver and blue crown woven through the twisted tendrils of her black mane, which was pinned like a halo around her head.

Shang Zhu watched her from behind the sloping roof of his Pagoda. Burning in his hands was the perfect, smooth sphere it was his job to plant. As the others were taken with the scarves and twirling fires that encompassed dancers and music, he swept out.

He went under gnarling branches of not-yet bloomed cherry and peach trees. He longed for when the petals would litter the floor, not for their beauty, but for the softening of his footsteps as he ground them into mud.

Running lightly on his toes, Zhu swept under lanterns that signalled the edge of the palace. Guards that were meant to watch the walls gazed into the patterned sky. The red and gold yānhuā (fireworks-Literally 'smoke flowers') dripped over the cloak of sky. Zhu lept lightly over the wall, and into a pond.

The End

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