Chapter 40: With regards to dragons

North Quadrant Post

Breaking news: Mist Island Passes “Dragonkiller Amnesty” Law

 

In the midst of rallying cries from opposing pro-dragon and pro-security groups, it was the latter that won 42-38 in today’s vote at Mist Island’s capital.  Within the same hour of the law’s passing, pro-security groups began deploying what may become the largest force ever assembled for a dragon hunt. Eyewitnesses claim that a dragon was behind the recent death of a family of four on Mist Island’s northern coast. Local analysts have …

 

“I thought the investigation was still happening.”

 

Hana shrugged, dropping the newspaper she had been reading aloud from onto the counter.  The shop was empty save for the two of them, Hana seated at the counter, Miyo preparing tea behind it.  

 

Hana’s jaw worked before answering.  “Last I heard, it was still ongoing. But everyone seems to be convinced it was a dragon.” She shoved the newspaper down to the edge of the counter and sighed, puffing up the bangs of her already mussed short hair. “Nevermind the fact that this is not typical dragon behavior or, even better, the fact that the supposed eyewitness is a ranking member of an anti-dragon group.  Pro-security my foot.”

 

Miyo echoed Hana’s sigh, her ponytail swinging as she shook her head.  She set the teapot down and handed Hana a cup of tea before she settled onto a stool behind the counter with her own cup.  “It’s scary how quickly people turn to violence.”

 

“For the virtuous, patience is a strength.  But so rare is it in the common person that impatience has become a flaw that evil can manipulate.”  Hana grimaced. “Never thought I’d be quoting Master Genji, but here we are.” She snorted lightly but glanced up when there was no response from the tea owner across the counter.

 

Miyo’s gaze was fixated on the newspaper.  “Mist Island is in the Northern quadrant, right?  With ‘The Tale of the Dragon Pearl’?”

 

Hana’s brow rose, the gold stud at the edge catching the afternoon light.  “Yeah, I grew up on it. I realized it was a made up story to keep kids out of the mountains at night when I was in high school.”   

 

But Miyo’s expression remained unchanged.  “That’s interesting. In the Western quadrant, there’s the ‘The Girl Who Saved the Silver Irises,’ which is completely different.”  Miyo looked up at Hana’s sudden stillness. “You’ve never heard of it? Here, Naruko drew me a picture of it yesterday when she was waiting to get picked up after school.”  She walked over to the wall at the other end of the counter and unpinned a paper from the corkboard, handing it to Hana.

 

Top left panel: A girl tending to a garden of silver irises. Other children are taunting her, saying the flowers look strange. But she seems to be ignoring them by thinking of how the dragons will enjoy seeing their favorite flower.

 

Bottom left panel: A storm causes a flood and the people of the girl’s village are running for high ground.  “Come back!” is written behind the girl, who is in the other direction and grabbing a bag of silver iris seeds.  

 

Top right panel:  The girl is trapped by the flood but a dragon appears and takes the girl onto its back to the hill the villagers have taken shelter on.  It creates a magic shield to protect the villagers. 

 

Bottom right panel: The storm has past, the water has receded, and the village has been destroyed.  But they are able to rebuild, silver irises growing all around.

 

“Cute,” Hana said, her tone even as she handed the colorful drawing back to Miyo.  

 

Miyo took the paper back slowly, watching the crease in Hana’s brow deepen.  “But…?”

 

There was no answer until their cups had been drained more than halfway and Hana had turn the cup in her hand a dozen times.  

 

“There’s this group in Southern quadrant,” Hana said slowly, “They call themselves the Dragon’s Disciples. You probably don’t know them.”  Hana nodded off of the shake of Miyo’s head. “They believe that dragons are deities, and that all dragons come from the One Dragon, an all-powerful being that can take human form and is reborn every generation.”

 

Hana’s gaze unfocused as her finger listlessly tracing the rim of her teacup.  “I found out recently that a friend of mine joined them.”

 

Miyo kept still, unsure how to navigate the darkness in Hana’s voice.  “Are they okay?” Miyo slowly asked.

 

“My friend?” Hana shrugged. “She’s okay, at least she says she is. Don’t know how long that’ll last though.  They’re the evangelical type, can’t be out in public for more than a minute before they start shouting prophesies and such.” Hana pulled out a folded card from her pocket.  “She sent this along with her last letter.”

 

Miyo set down her teacup and unfolded the card.  On one side was a fearsome dragon, eyes and teeth glittering red.  She flipped the card over and peered at the words written in an elaborate script.

 

We believe in the almighty

The One Dragon from who all things were born

The sun, the moon, the sky

And all goodness of this world

The One Dragon does not know death

For it will forever rise anew in any form it shall choose

The One Dragon does not know wickedness

For it was humans who brought this into the world

Through the imperfection in their hearts

It is only from the grace of the One Dragon that we can be purified

And it is our charge as disciples to spread the teaching

Strike down those who stray from the path of righteousness

And lead the way to paradise upon the wings of the One Dragon

 

“Sounds like the church down the street,” Miyo said as she handed the card back to Hana. “Except without the dragon bits.”

 

“Well, does the church down the street condone their worshippers persecuting people under the guise of their belief?” Hana flicked the card away, landing on top of the newspaper at the end of the counter. “It’s one thing to promote good but to spend so much time judging and punishing others is just …” Hana growled.  “It’s no wonder things like that dragonkiller law happen – with so-called followers like that, it won’t be long before dragons become extinct altogether.”

 

Miyo breathed in deep, letting the steam and Hana’s words sink in.  “Isn’t it strange,” she mused, her held tilting as she spoke, “It’s as if there are only two ways we view dragons, either something to be slayed or something to be worshipped. But aren’t they just like any other animal?”

 

Hana’s eyes widened and she drew back with a concerned look.  “Dragons are not -”

 

“Wait, take a look at this first.”  Miyo took up the newspaper Hana had tossed aside and opened it to a different section.  

 

Super shouts out:

  • Bailey for saving my pie from getting burnt! (Yes, he got an extra slice for that)
  • My cat, Luna, isn’t usually affectionate but last week I had to stay home for a cough that I just couldn’t beat. Luna not only tolerated my coughing, but actually cuddled with me while I was trying to sleep.  Call me superstitious, but I have a feeling she was the reason why I finally started feeling better.

 

No treats today:

  • Picture of pup next to toilet. Picture caption: Thanks Doug, I guess I didn’t need that watch anyway.  
  • I learned that Molly likes flowers.  More specifically, digging up flowers that I spent the whole afternoon planting.

 

Hero of the day:

  • I was in a bad place a couple days ago.  Got to the bridge and was about to go over the edge when I heard a meow behind me.  Fuzzy thing wouldn’t stop til I petted it. Felt something strange on it – was a sticky note with a hotline number written on it.  Called it. Cat’s name is now Dawn, to remind me to wait for the next one.

 

“So you’re saying we should treat dragons like pets?” Hana’s words were carefully enunciated.

 

Miyo laughed.  “No, no – my point is that we don’t go around just worshipping or hurting dogs or cats or other pets.  We know them too well, have stories like this by the thousands. These kind of stories don’t exist for dragons.  They’re mysterious because we don’t know that much about them, but just like patience, it’s become something to manipulate.”

 

“Stories about digging up flowers?” Hana said, glancing down at the newspaper and chewing on her lip.

 

Miyo shrugged.  “Maybe. Just something more than the few we have today, I guess.”

 

Hana fell quiet, lifting her cup as her gaze fell to the counter.  Miyo let her think, knowing that look of concentration well.

 

The silence stayed with Hana even as she left for the day, forming around her like a cloak that Miyo could almost see shimmering around her as Hana walked down the road to catch a ride back into the city. But it was at least different from the dark cloud that had hung over her when she first arrived.

 

Miyo nodded to herself and turned back to the shop.  She paused at a sudden rush of wind and glanced up. Miyo expected to see flapping wings but the sky was clear, save for the sunset coloring the clouds.  

 

She shrugged, figuring the sound and the scent of silver irises was just the wind.

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