The Dragon of China

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
The fictional account of the real Yellow Emperor of Ancient China, and his adventures with the Yellow Dragon. My way of explaining why the yellow dragon was so revered above all other dragons.

Submitted: June 30, 2014

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Submitted: June 30, 2014

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The emperor stared out across the city, pride swelling up in his breast. He was the Yellow Emperor. He had defeated the Yan emperor, winning the right to rule his people. However, that was many years ago; now he was nearly one-hundred years old and tired. He was ready to die in peace. He had already met the phoenix, and the qilin, and many other monsters, including the Bai Ze and the dragon that would be forever remembered in Chinese history. The dragon that had helped him win the war.

Xuanyuan Gongsun stared out across Shou Qiu (or Xuanyuan Hill), his birthplace, and smiled. He was born on a land where long life was guaranteed. That is why his mother had birthed him there, but the journey had been hard on her, so she died in childbirth. Xuanyuan was being raised by the whole of his tribe, who had nicknamed him Huang, and by his father. Unfortunately, his father hated Huang, blaming him for the death of his wife. Huang was an unhappy child, but this was his last day at Shou Qiu. His tribe and he were moving to the Ji River; maybe then he could forget his late fathers’ hatred of him. Huang stared out across the land, sadly viewing his father’s funeral from afar. He remembered the last conversation his father and he had had. His father weakly grabbed his arm and spoke of the days preceding Huang’s birth.

“My son, when your mother first conceived, I was so happy. I thought the gods would bless us with a strong man, one who would accomplish great things, what great things are not important, but the gods disappointed me. The child was weak, and died in its mother’s womb. I went on a journey to Shou Qiu to ask the gods why they were punishing me. When I got there, a dragon lay sleeping on the top of the hill. I sat and waited for it to awaken, and when it finally did, it spoke. Its voice was that of thunderstorms and babbling brooks, of the waves of the sea crashing on top of one another, and rain pattering down on the rooftops. It told me that the gods were not displeased, but it merely was not the time for our child to be born. He said to me, ‘You shall have a son, strong and courageous; he shall do great things, be a great leader, and have his name written down in history, as a great inventor and greater still emperor. You shall name him Xuanyuan, but he shall be called Huangdi. However, all of this will happen only if you continue to please the gods, and if your wife conceives and gives birth here, on Xuanyuan, the hill of longevity. But, I warn you, after your wife conceives the child; you must leave, and return only when her time has come.’

“After several years went by, I returned with your mother to Xuanyuan and she conceived again. We then left the next morning, and did not return until nine months had passed from that morning. The journey was hard, made worse by the winter and your mother’s condition. She gave birth to you on the hill, with only the midwife accompanying her during labor. Then you were born, and I ran up the hill, but your mother was already gone, and you were left alone. I wept bitterly the first few months, my only consolation being that you would someday be great. I realize now that your mother died in vain; you will never be great.”

Xaunyuan’s father died just after finishing his narrative, leaving his son parentless and confused. Huang decided that he was going to prove his fathers’ dying words wrong and become a hero. He was

tired of living by the Ji River and decided that he would convince his tribe to move elsewhere. First, he needed advice. Huang returned to Shou Qui, where he was born, and climbed the hill on which he was born. At the top lay a yellow dragon sleeping. Like his father many years before him, Huang sat and waited for the dragon to awaken. He sat for eight days and eight nights before the creature awoke from its slumber. He peered at Huang with one groggy eye and stretched his regal body into a sitting position. Huang shuddered at the sight of the dragon’s five claws, which stretched out to the length of his legs and were razor sharp.

“Xuanyuan Gongsun, you have come at last. I have been waiting many a long year to meet you. You look just like your mother, ah, but you have your father’s spirit I see… good…”

“You…you know who I am?”

“Yes, of course,” the dragon replied, his voice rumbling like the very sky about to open.

“I… meant no offense, wise one. It is just that I am no one. I… I don’t understand…”

“You are a speck of dust in an ocean of sand, it is true. Nevertheless, you are an important speck. Like Amethyst, the gem of the dragons. It is pretty, but it is also important. And rare. You shall someday lead your people and win many great battles. However, the time has not come yet. Go with your tribe to Zhuolu, and live a peaceful life. Gain respect, and ease your way to the position of leader. I shall watch you from afar.”

Huang bowed down to the dragon, kissing the ground until the dragon dismissed him.

Huang returned to his tribe to find them prepared for the journey to Zhuolu. As soon as the last member was ready, the tribe began its migration to the new territory. Huang asked Chao Ban what had happened while he was gone to warrant the sudden move. Chao Ban explained that the dragons had flooded all the territories near their home, and that the water was rushing towards them as they spoke. The current leader had surmised that Zhuolu would be safer for them and had plenty of rich farmland.

Within a year, Huang was a farmer in the Zhuolu territory, and his farmland was flourishing with the blessings of the yellow dragon. As the year had drawn out, he had begun gaining more respect amongst his tribe, for his hard work and wealthy status. He had begun to help the hunters during the journey from the Ji River to Zhuolu, by teaching them how to build makeshift shelters and how to tame wild animals. When harvest time came around, Huang also began taking charge of the organization of all the workers onto separate farms according to need; the food was plentiful because Huang had taught his people how to grow the five types of Chinese cereals. On his farm, at the end of the very bountiful harvest, Huang began the process of taming some of the most difficult and dangerous animals found in the world.

The animals were the brown bear, the pí and xi?, the dangerous ch?, and the tiger, as well as the big bear. It took him a good long while, and he received many cuts and scars from the wild animals, but by the end of that winter, all six of the animals were tamed.

The tribe saw Xuanyuan tame these wild animals with amazement, and had even more respect for Xuanyuan, whom they had dubbed Huang. What no one saw was the yellow dragon who sat on the clouds and watched from the sky, protecting and helping Huang with his many accomplishments.

Every evening, as dusk fell across the land, bringing with it the cool promises of winter’s arrival, the dragon spiraled from the sky, and watered the crops of Xuanyuan. He landed on the barren fields, leaving nary a footprint and spoke to the animals, each in its own tongue. He ordered them all, “Xuanyuan is not to be harmed on the morrow, nary a scratch shall I find upon his brow. Learn well what he has to teach. After all, he is to be an emperor of great importance, and thus must gain the respect of the people. If you do not comply, well, even a dragon needs to eat sometime.”

And every day at dawn, the great dragon breathed on the ground, leaving dew in his wake, before lifting himself to the great heights of the heavens, to rest in the newborn sun.

As winter came upon the land, the leader of Xuanyuan’s tribe died, leaving the tribe to choose his successor themselves. After conferring with each other, every member of the tribe, but one man, Chi You, chose Huang as their leader. He reluctantly accepted the position, and began to lead his tribe out of strife, even giving his own storehouses of food to the hungry. Chi You tried to rebel against Huang but was exiled and removed from the tribe. Huang was not expecting to see Chi You for a long time, if ever, but he was disappointed.

The Yan emperor and Huang were friends, and close allies. During this alliance, Huang amassed much wealth and knowledge from the yellow dragon’s blessings. After inventing the cart, which made harvesting easier and quicker, as well as warmer clothing, which kept the tribe warmer than the rags they had been wearing, Huang was declared an Emperor by the neighboring tribes, who all desired to be under his wing. Xuanyuan’s name was now taboo, as no one is ever to say an Emperors’ real name, as it weakens the Emperor. So, the tribe only called him Huangdi, Yellow Emperor. Thus, another piece of the dragon’s prophecy was fulfilled.

After several years, Chi You had gained enough allies to launch an attack on the failing Yan Empire, and the Yan emperor begged Huangdi to come to his aid. Huangdi was reluctant to throw his people’s lives away and hesitated. He journeyed towards Shou Qui, but the yellow dragon landed in front of him. “You need help… yes, I sense fear in you. Fear of losing… but I shall not let you lose Huangdi. You are very important.”

“If I am supposed to be a hero, then why am I afraid?”

The yellow dragon stared at him for a long time, tongue flicking in and out. “You are human. Fear is good; it keeps one alive.”

“Should I help my friend?”

“Yes. But, you will not be alone. Climb on my back, and I shall fly you back to your people and a war the Yan emperor cannot win without you. “

Huangdi was still a young man in the esteems of his people, and he had not yet seen the blood of war nor felt the terrors of deaths’ haunting whispers. But, he was also a man of the sort of courage a man of war needed. A man whose youth would serve him well, if it were not to be his downfall. But he feared greatly. Not for his own life, but for the lives of his people; people who trusted him with their lives, people who would die in a war without hesitation if it were asked of them, people betrayed by one of their own.

The dragon roared with pride as Huangdi climbed upon his back, and held a spike in his hands, toes settled upon the back of the gigantic dragon. The dragon flew like a river flowing down the rapids, with great speed and power. With the boom of thunder, the dragon landed upon the soft earth, his feet making deep indentations in the earth, the first graves of a great war.

As the young emperor slid from the back of the yellow dragon, the women nearby screamed. They were not yet aware of the trouble coming, but the dragon was a pronounced premonition of the strife to come.

Huangdi strode past them calling out with a loud voice, “Men! Prepare for war! Our allies are being attacked by the traitorous Chi You! We leave at sunset! Any able bodied man of any province who does not join us shall be put to the sword!”

The small empire was thrown into chaos-with grim faced men donning swords, and women and children weeping and clinging to the warriors, begging them not to go.

Chao Ban said angrily to his young bride, “The emperor asked of me to go with him into battle, so I shall go. I shall fight, and should I die, I will die with honor on the field of battle. That is a better fate than to die by the sword by being a coward, a shirker of my duty to my liege, to die without honor.”

Many other men were saying such things to their wives and children also. Of the original tribe whom Huangdi grew up with, there were no dissenters, but of the tribes who joined his ranks creating his empire, there were many. The dragon roared like a hurricane and everyone quailed. Then there were few dissenters left. What the men would face on the battlefield paled in comparison to facing an angry dragon so, they agreed to join the war.

And so, at sunset, every able bodied man of every province in the empire grimly marched off to battle. And none had as much fear in their hearts as their emperor. Nor did any have as much courage as their emperor.

What no one had seen was the young emperor’s quiet discussion with the great yellow dragon.

“I am not sure I can do this. Lead my people into my first battle. Watch them die, watch them kill. I am not sure I can kill. I am afraid. Afraid for them.”

“Are you afraid for yourself, or just for them?” the dragon asked him quietly.

He paused, thinking. “I am not afraid for myself, just for the lives that will surely be lost in this war. War caused by the treacherous Chi You!”

“Do you feel as though he should die for his actions against the Yan Emperor?” the dragon asked. His voice gave none of his thinking away.

Huangdi paused. “It is not my place to judge, that is the place of the gods and their emissaries.”

The dragon nodded to himself gravely, “he is becoming like a wise old man! He may yet be a great man.”

After the sun dipped seven times, the men ceased marching, a day of rest before battle.

Upon the sunrise, the men gathered forces with the Yan Emperor’s men, and swords clashed together against the onslaught of Chi You’s militia. The battle raged for seven cycles of the moon, until one of his own men felled Chi You in battle.

When the battle was over, both emperors looked at the carnage. They both lost many good men, and were both injured from the war. Nevertheless, they won. At great price, they won.

When it came time to decide on what to do with Chi You’s body, the Emperors quarreled. The Yan Emperor wanted to leave it out to rot in the hot summer sun, and let scavengers consume the body. Huangdi disagreed. He wished to bury the traitor, with all ceremonial rites, as was his due. The emperors were at an impasse.

“That man attacked my empire and killed my people!” the Yan emperor yelled.

“He killed my best friend, Chao Ban with his own hands; I must now tell his young wife that he is dead. It is my duty. But Chi You died with honor, so he should be buried with honor, even if I have to carry him to my lands myself.”

“I will not stand for it! The traitor will not be buried on my land, or anyone else’s!”

“So this is how you repay your allies. Did any of your other allies fight alongside you? No! They see you as weak, and wish to see your empire fall. They want your territory for themselves. This is not the only battle you will see before the end. When next we meet in battle, you shall not find me on your side.”

Huangdi stalked off to order his people home. Then he visited the yellow dragon who had given them water when they thirsted, and withheld it from enemy forces when they thirsted. The dragon who flooded the plains and riverbeds when the enemies attempted to assassinate Huangdi. The dragon who carried Huangdi from battle when he fell from his wounds. The dragon who listened as Huangdi sorrowfully told him of the argument of the emperors.

 

“Not every war ends well, and not every ally sees things the same. Sometimes those who stand beside you in one war are your opponents in another. Why does it matter to you if Chi You is buried or not?”

“It is a matter of honor. He died honorably, and should be buried as such. He may have been a dishonorable in life, but he held to what he believed was honorable. That is in of itself honorable, I believe. If I were to die in a battle I started, I would want to be buried with as much honor as was my due. He betrayed me, and tried to kill me, it is true… but he was killed the same way he tried to kill me. There is no dishonor in that.”

“You are well convinced, and very convincing. If it is truly so important to you, Chi You will be buried with the rest of those who died, in his birthplace.”

“Thank you. I have long been gone from my own Empire, I fear much will have changed, and much more change is coming.”

“Go… look to your lands and people. Rebuild, recover, and strengthen yourselves.”

***

Many more summers passed, rebuilding an empire in ruins. Huangdis’ leadership and inventions were more than enough for success, and the empire grew again in strength and number, more so than before.

But the Yan Emperors’ leadership and health were weak. The war had been too much for him, and over the seasons, his large empire crumbled. He was attacked again and again, he begged for help from his allies, but they turned their backs on him. His rivers were flooding the plains and drowning the crops in the springs, and there was severe draughts, followed by dry thunderstorms in the summers. The empire crackled with fire and heat, until it became a desert-land. Winters were bitter cold and hungry. Riots broke out in the streets, and none could quell them. In the heights of the sky, all the dragons roared out natural disasters, one after another, on orders from the yellow dragon, king of the dragon hoards.

As his empire crumbled in a final bout of desperation, the Yan Emperor called on Huangdi to help his empire, and to quell the rebellions. The yellow dragon roared in victory, and told Huangdi to attack his former ally. The only way to help the people, and quell the rebellions, was to conquer the territory cursed by the yellow dragon due to the same dragons’ displeasure.

Reluctantly, Huangdi once again led his men to the Yan Empire and into battle, but this time he would stand on the other side of the battle, facing his once friend.

In a short matter of days, Huangdi conquered all of the Yan Emperors’ territory, and sat and watched the dethroned emperor finally succumb to his illness and age. His last words were, “Forgive me my friend, for I have wronged you greatly.”

Huangdi buried the deceased emperor himself, mourning the loss of his once-friend. The dragon also shed tears from the sky, watering and restoring the parched land. Under his watch, the land flourished and was more bountiful than ever before, but Huangdi, now almost a hundred years old, felt the price of the Empire and his power very heavily, and stood staring out across the city, a yellow dragon by his side.

“Ach, but I am tired my friend, it is time for me to join my friends in the afterlife.”

And thus, the Yellow Emperor died, and the Yellow dragon mourned his death with a beautiful rainbow, the first seen in what is now called China. After the funeral, the Yellow dragon was never seen again, but he is remembered in history.


© Copyright 2020 mikimarie. All rights reserved.

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