From the streets Lóng er passed over rose screams. Pagodas burned. Children and women ran through the streets whiles the fireballs flew overhead. Lóng er wiped a tear out her eye and hovered over the front line. Huǒ qìxí first flamed the men manning the catapults of fire. He flew fast and furiously; Lóng er did not have to guide him. Over time, the horrors became far too much for her and she simply wept into Huǒ qìxí's surprisingly soft scales.
The men on the ground saw Huǒ qìxí, and screamed out. They couldn't run or hide. In Huǒ qìxí's flaring fire, they were simply dead. Soldiers that had spent their lives training to stay in a fight ran for their lives from the battle. The people in the towns shouted their thanks to the unknown dragon-rider. Huǒ qìxí flew away from the fight when it was safe, and made for the lake. Once there, he lay on the ground and Lóng er wept for the people she'd helped murder. For the fighting she'd witnessed. For the families of her own soldiers and for the families of the soldiers she'd killed. She'd never seen a war before. Her father had kept her inside due to her delicate female mind.
Zhu found her lying face down next to Huǒ qìxí, who had put his wing as a sheild over her.
"Gōngzhǔ, why are you crying?" He said, kneeling next to her. "We won, you know."
"I'm crying because I hurt people. I cry because people are dead because of me."
Zhu was a warrior. He'd seen this kind of pain. He'd felt it himself. He thought for a minute.
"But think of what would've happened if you hadn't fought. The war would continue now. The men would come back and cause more deaths. They would maybe have won. You would be killed or married off to someone vulgar; your brother would surely be killed; and the respected land of Liu song would no longer exist."
Lóng er looked at him. He had big eyes. She hadn't noticed how soft they were. She looked at his eyes for some minutes. He reached out and pulled off her helmet, then replaced his hand at her face. He tilted her towards him and kissed her lips. Lóng er felt something inside her, something exploding and swirling and precious. Zhu stopped kissing her, and wrapped his arms around her. They sat for a minute like that. Lóng er had needed the comfort.
Lóng er pulled away. She noticed that Huǒ qìxí was absolutely still.
"Huǒ qìxí?" She rubbed his belly. It was colder, firmer than usual. His eyes were shut, as though he'd been sleeping. "Huǒ!" She said, a little more loudly.
"He's dead, I think, Lóng er." Zhu sat cross-legged, looking at her. She squinted at him.
"But dragons, they-they live so long... He only hatched... a year ago?"
"Did you notice how quickly he hatched? Grew? Learnt? He was not an ordinary dragon, Lóng er. He was so very special. Winged, fire breathing. He was designed for this battle. He's... fulfilled his prupose."
"I don't understand."
"Look, when there is something in life that needs to have a certain outcome, special dragons are sometimes made. This battle needed for us to win, so I found this dragon egg. It grew so quickly because it needed to be ready for this fight. I put it in your room because I was told it was you that needed to ride him."
"And now his fight is over. He has to die now, that's how it happens. I'm sorry."
Lóng er crawled into his lap, exhausted. She couldn't find any tears, so she stared at her dragon. Her beautiful dragon.
She'd just fallen asleep when the warriors burst out of the cherry trees.