Lóng er sat next to the lake where Huo qixi quenched his fire, pouring buckets of water over his smouldering body. Zhu came from behind a bush. Lóng er stared at his feet as he approached. Slowly her eyes ran over his body and into his dark eyes. His hair was lighter than her's, a dark shade of brown, like the branches of a bonsai tree in twilight. He looked down at her, smiling.
"Hello there. What's all this then, Gōngzhǔ?"
She was taken aback by his direct question. He did not seem to respect her position at all, though he bowed gently. She stood up infront of Huǒ qìxí protectively.
"Who are you?"
"My name is Zhu. Shang Zhu." He smirked at the dragon. "And he is?"
"Not your concern. Why are you here, Zhu?"
He smirked again. "I'm here to help."
"Help with what?"
"Your dragon." He grinned. Lóng er looked at him with narrowed eyes. He shouldn't be here. Civilians were not meant to see her in her state, without Khol around her eyes or powder on her cheeks. She was wearing a quetang dress, red, with gold butterfly gliding in the stitches. Her hair was down.
"Look," Zhu started, "I know that Huǒ qìxí is your business-" He paused to watch her face wonder how he knew the dragon's name "-But you may've heard of the war that is coming. I would like to help you train Huǒ qìxí such that he is ready."
She laughed. "And how would you be able to help me with that?"
"I am a warrior, and I know dragons. I can ride them. I can teach them fire-breath and I can teach them control. I can teach you to ride Huǒ qìxí if you'll let me. My only other dragon is weak, a dying celestial in a cave in the west. He's been dying for 10 years. We need to win this war and we need Huǒ qìxí to do so. Please."
He looked at her, so handsome and strong, yet so vulnerable, his eyes full of regret. She weakened.
"I will allow you to teach me." She whispered.
He grinned easily again.
"Then let's get started."