Feng and the Dragon

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Greed dooms the hearts of all men.

Feng and the Dragon

Once in the long gone ages of the Silk Road, horse-riding savages in the north and the invention of the round wheel, there lived a poor peasant man named Feng in the south of China. Feng was named fittingly after the wind, for he was as fickle as the footloose zephyr, as calm as the cool wind that blew inland from Shanghai, and as proud and boastful as the north wind in a battering typhoon.

Feng lived with his elderly parents on a rice farm, which they tended year in and year out. As the years had passed, Feng’s parents grew older and older, leaving more and more duties to their beloved first son. However, instead of investing the money in increasing their crops and maintaining the farm, Feng wandered into the village hall, on late night when the rice wine had been flowing freely, and gambled it away in a high-staked game of mah-jong.

Where have you been, son?” Ah-Ba asked, sitting on the bed platform, when Feng staggered into the wooden hut.

Where have I been?” repeated Feng. “Why, father, I went to the market to see if we had enough money to buy some……new hens,” he lied, hastily. “Yes, some new hens, father.”

Ah-Ba raised an eyebrow, and scratched his pie-bald head sagely. “But we have no money left, Feng.”

Feng felt his cheeks flushing. He secretly hoped that Ah-Ba, what with his bad eyesight, would not notice. “But there must have been some mistake, father.” He licked his lips, guiltily wringing the empty cloth purse behind his back.

Ah-Ba abruptly stood up. Feng cringed as he heard the old man’s back crack. “Ah yes, son, I recall your mother entrusted it to you.” His voice was light and pleasant as if it were a jest, but there was a sombre look in his eye.

Feng grinned foolishly, inwardly panicking at what he was to do, if Ah-Ba found out that the money had been handed over to a roly-poly merchant in red silk and his camels.

Give me the money,” Ah-Ba commanded his bony hand outstretched, as he hobbled over his other hand gripped firmly upon his bamboo cane.

But….but,” spluttered Feng, confessing, “I s-spent it all on m-mah-jong, f-father…I’m s-so….”

Get out,” roared Ah-Ba, precariously raising his bamboo cane above his head. “Don’t call me father. A son who gambles away his father’s money is no son of mine.” The old man paused to steady himself. “From now on, Ping, your younger brother, will manage the farm.”

Meanwhile, in Di Yu, the underworld, Qiongpi, a devious demon was watching in fascination. Humans, in his opinion, were such fascinatingly dim creatures, capable of such amusing acts of folly. He watched from afar as Feng embarked on his journey north to the Emperor’s Capital, in hopes of finding work.

On the third day of Feng’s journey, he appeared to him, in the guise of a kindly old man with long whiskers, at the crossing of the Yellow River. He smiled with inward satisfaction, as he surveyed the youth’s gaunt face, starved eyes and tattered clothes.

You look in need of money, my boy,” he remarked, blocking off Feng’s path.

Feng raised his eyes languidly. “Yes sir.” He licked his cracked lips. “My father and brothers threw me out of the house, three weeks hence.”

Qiongpi nodded understandingly, wondering whether if Feng had been a serial liar all his life or if the hot midday sun was getting into his head. “Very well, then, boy, shall we stop for refreshments? I have a job that needs doing, and I’m afraid a half-starved boy cannot do it.”

They stopped by a coffeehouse overlooking the river, where Qiongpi treated the starving boy to tofu, bamboo shoots and rice soaked in soy sauce. As Feng wolfed down the meal ravenously, Qiongpi leant forward confidentially, casting a furtive glance around at the buxom lady who owned the coffeehouse, as if he were wary of eavesdroppers.

You see,” he began, “not that long ago, Feng, I was the richest merchant in the delta, dealing ivory, gold and silk, but – alas! – one day, Fucanglong, the greedy treasure dragon, stripped me of my wealth, and burnt my manor to a crisp with his fiery breath. As you see, Feng, I am old and bent, so I need your help to recover my lost goods.”

Feng widened his eyes “Fucanglong, the treasure dragon? What am I to do against so invincible a foe?”

Ah, but see, Feng, if I lure away Fucanglong with the gold my friend, Wu, has borrowed me, with a bit of luck you might be able to retrieve the Dragon’s Blade.” He lowered his voice. “The Dragon’s Blade has the power to slay Fucanglong, which is why he hoards it away with his other treasures.”

How do I find it?”

You will know it when you see it, Feng. You will.”

Qiongpi then led him, blindfolded to Fucanglong’s cave. Feng shivered behind the rocks that surrounded the cave, as his eyes traced the long spiked scarlet red and emerald green tail and the jagged yellow teeth that protruded from the dragon’s jaw. Fucanglong’s claws were sharp long sabres that could slice a man in half, in one swift and deadly stroke.

The dragon opened its eyes, warily, cocking its head as if it sensed something. In seconds, Fucanglong was in the air, hot on the trail of the gold that the kindly old merchant would be luring him with. Its yellowed eyes gleamed greedily, and the force of its beating winds forced Feng to the ground.

When the dragon had disappeared over the rim of the hills, Feng darted towards the mouth of the cave, his heart pounding in his chest. He clambered agilely over the boulders the dragon had rolled over the entrance of its cave, sweat forming on his brow. But nothing the kindly old merchant had forewarned him of could prepare him for the lavish sight that met his eyes.

Gold, silver and copper coins carpeted the floor, while amethysts, pearls, diamonds and rubies lay scattered messily around the cavern, like a child’s discarded toys. Feng slipped a magnificent crown studded with jewels of the every colour, onto his brow and surveyed himself in a mirror of polished silver. He ran his hand idly through the sea of coins, wondering what he could do with such riches. He laughed to himself, deciding as he tied a silken cape around his neck, he would be an emperor, twice as rich and mighty as the one that lived in the Capital.

Light flooded into the cavern, as the boulder was rolled away. Feng gasped, as he glimpsed the green and red scales of Fucanglong glinting in the sunlight.

The cavern of swords!” he muttered to himself, scanning his eyes brusquely around the room. If he did not find the Dragon’s Blade, Fucanglong would certainly roast him over a fire for his evening meal.

But there was no cavern of swords, he realised, as the dragon slammed its tail against the wall, cracking it in two. Feng ducked, and felt the air whizzing over his ear as the dragon struck again. He desperately ran his eyes around the room, looking for an exit, as the walls of the cave began to crumble.

Outside, Qiongpi watched in grim amusement, as the dragon roared and the boy, Feng, made a noise like a butchered pig. The walls of Fucanglong’s cave crumbled in, crushing both man and dragon. When the cries had died away and all seemed still, he watched the gleam of the gold beneath the treacherous rubble, satisfied with the mayhem and destruction he had caused; the mayhem and destruction borne from the greed of the hearts of both Feng and Fucanglong alike.

Submitted: September 28, 2010

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