Chapter 2

Dripping from every crevice of his being, Zhu got out of the pond. He sat by it for a moment, watching as his ripples balanced. The yānhuā were vague copies in the water, the backs of fishes masking their smoking tendrils. Zhu sighed, and left the pond-side. 

He walked through an orchard of cherry that brought him to Lóng er's window. He clambered up the walls, admiring the dougong craftsmanship, and fell through into Lóng er's chambers. He gasped at the simple yet detailed splendour. The draping fabric about the bed was a simple white, decorated with tiny red flowers and gold leaves. The dressers and chairs were inlaid with finely sculpted dragons and fish. Beautiful gold mirrors and jewellery shone from the cupboards, but most beautiful of all was the intently carved dragon's-head about the pillows.

It's eyes showed a rainbow of deep green. Around his lips red fire wove over his face, long tentacles of gold reaching for unknown places, and though shining his eyes seemed, they were lost; they were sad.

Zhu reached for a moment, forgetting himself. He touched a finger to stroke the poor dragon's head. He looked away, ashamed to have forgotten what he was sent here to do. He left the smooth sphere on Lóng er's dresser, and dropped lithely to the ground.

The End

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