Monday 12 April 2021


Last of the Dragons

( Public Domain Story)

Of course you know that dragons were once as common as motor-omnibuses are now, and almost as dangerous. But as every well-brought-up prince was expected to kill a dragon, and rescue a princess, the dragons grew fewer and fewer till it was often quite hard for a princess to find a dragon to be rescued from. And at last there were no more dragons in France and no more dragons in Germany, or Spain, or Italy, or Russia. There were some left in China, and are still, but they are cold and bronzy, and there were never any, of course, in America. But the last real live dragon left was in England, and of course that was a very long time ago, before what you call English History began. This dragon lived in Cornwall in the big caves amidst the rocks, and a very fine dragon it was, quite seventy feet long from the tip of its fearful snout to the end of its terrible tail. It breathed fire and smoke, and rattled when it walked, because its scales were made of iron. Its wings were like half-umbrellas -- or like bat's wings, only several thousand times bigger. Everyone was very frightened of it, and well they might be.

Now the King of Cornwall had one daughter, and when she was sixteen, of course she would have to go and face the dragon: such tales are always told in royal nurseries at twilight, so the Princess knew what she had to expect. The dragon would not eat her, of course -- because the prince would come and rescue her. But the Princess could not help thinking it would be much pleasanter to have nothing to do with the dragon at all -- not even to be rescued from him. `All the princes I know are such very silly little boys,' she told her father. `Why must I be rescued by a prince?'

`It's always done, my dear,' said the King, taking his crown off and putting it on the grass, for they were alone in the garden, and even kings must unbend sometimes.

`Father, darling,' said the Princess presently, when she had made a daisy chain and put it on the King's head, where the crown ought to have been. `Father, darling, couldn't we tie up one of the silly little princes for the dragon to look at -- and then I could go and kill the dragon and rescue the prince? I fence much better than any of the princes we know.'

`What an unladylike idea!' said the King, and put his crown on again, for he saw the Prime Minister coming with a basket of new-laid Bills for him to sign. `Dismiss the thought, my child. I rescued your mother from a dragon, and you don't want to set yourself up above her, I should hope?'

`But this is the last dragon. It is different from all other dragons.'

`How?' asked the King.

`Because he is the last,' said the Princess, and went off to her fencing lessons, with which she took great pains. She took great pains with all her lessons -- for she could not give up the idea of fighting the dragon. She took such pains that she became the strongest and boldest and most skilful and most sensible princess in Europe. She had always been the prettiest and nicest.

And the days and years went on, till at last the day came which was the day before the Princess was to be rescued from the dragon. The Prince who was to do this deed of valour was a pale prince, with large eyes and a head full of mathematics and philosophy, but he had unfortunately neglected his fencing lessons. He was to stay the night at the palace, and there was a banquet.

After supper the Princess sent her pet parrot to the Prince with a note. It said:

Please, Prince, come on to the terrace. I want to talk to you without anybody else hearing. --The Princess.

So, of course, he went -- and he saw her gown of silver a long way off shining among the shadows of the trees like water in starlight. And when he came quite close to her he said: `Princess, at your service,' and bent his cloth-of-gold-covered knee and put his hand on his cloth-of-gold-covered heart.

`Do you think,' said the Princess earnestly, `that you will be able to kill the dragon?'

`I will kill the dragon,' said the Prince firmly, `or perish in the attempt.'

`It's no use your perishing,' said the Princess.

`It's the least I can do,' said the Prince.

`What I'm afraid of is that it'll be the most you can do,' said the Princess.

`It's the only thing I can do,' said he, `unless I kill the dragon.'

`Why you should do anything for me is what I can't see,' said she.

`But I want to,' he said. `You must know that I love you better than anything in the world.'

When he said that he looked so kind that the Princess began to like him a little.

`Look here,' she said, `no one else will go out tomorrow. You know they tie me to a rock and leave me -- and then everybody scurries home and puts up the shutters and keeps them shut till you ride through the town in triumph shouting that you've killed the dragon, and I ride on the horse behind you weeping for joy.'

`I've heard that that is how it is done,' said he.

`Well, do you love me well enough to come very quickly and set me free -- and we'll fight the dragon together?'

'It wouldn't be safe for you.'

`Much safer for both of us for me to be free, with a sword in my hand, than tied up and helpless. Do agree.'

He could refuse her nothing. So he agreed. And next day everything happened as she had said.

When he had cut the cords that tied her to the rock they stood on the lonely mountain-side looking at each other.

`It seems to me,' said the Prince, `that this ceremony could have been arranged without the dragon.'

`Yes,' said the Princess, `but since it has been arranged with the dragon --'

`It seems such a pity to kill the dragon -- the last in the world,' said the Prince.

`Well then, don't let's,' said the Princess; `let's tame it not to eat princesses but to eat out of their hands. They say everything can be tamed by kindness.'

`Taming by kindness means giving them things to eat,' said the Prince. `Have you got anything to eat?'

She hadn't, but the Prince owned that he had a few biscuits. `Breakfast was so very early,' said he, `and I thought you might have felt faint after the fight.'

`How clever,' said the Princess, and they took a biscuit in each hand. And they looked here, and they looked there, but never a dragon could they see.

`But here's its trail,' said the Prince, and pointed to where the rock was scarred and scratched so as to make a track leading to a dark cave. It was like cart-ruts in a Sussex road, mixed with the marks of sea-gull's feet on the sea-sand. `Look, that's where it's dragged its brass tail and planted its steel claws.'

`Don't let's think how hard its tail and claws are,' said the Princess, `or I shall begin to be frightened -- and I know you can't tame anything, even by kindness, if you're frightened of it. Come on. Now or never.'

She caught the Prince's hand in hers and they ran along the path towards the dark mouth of the cave. But they did not run into it. It really was so very dark.

So they stood outside, and the Prince shouted: `What ho! Dragon there! What ho within!' And from the cave they heard an answering voice and great clattering and creaking. It sounded as though a rather large cotton-mill were stretching itself and waking up out of its sleep.

The Prince and the Princess trembled, but they stood firm.

`Dragon -- I say, dragon!' said the Princess, `do come out and talk to us. We've brought you a present.'

`Oh yes -- I know your presents,' growled the dragon in a huge rumbling voice. `One of those precious princesses, I suppose? And I've got to come out and fight for her. Well, I tell you straight, I'm not going to do it. A fair fight I wouldn't say no to -- a fair fight and no favour -- but one of those put-up fights where you've got to lose -- no! So I tell you. If I wanted a princess I'd come and take her, in my own time -- but I don't. What do you suppose I'd do with her, if I'd got her?'

`Eat her, wouldn't you?' said the Princess, in a voice that trembled a little.

`Eat a fiddle-stick end,' said the dragon very rudely. `I wouldn't touch the horrid thing.'

The Princess's voice grew firmer.

`Do you like biscuits?' she said.

`No,' growled the dragon.

`Not the nice little expensive ones with sugar on the top?'

`No,' growled the dragon.

`Then what do you like?' asked the Prince.

`You go away and don't bother me,' growled the dragon, and they could hear it turn over, and the clang and clatter of its turning echoed in the cave like the sound of the steam-hammers in the Arsenal at Woolwich.

The Prince and Princess looked at each other. What were they to do? Of course it was no use going home and telling the King that the dragon didn't want princesses -- because His Majesty was very old-fashioned and would never have believed that a new-fashioned dragon could ever be at all different from an old-fashioned dragon. They could not go into the cave and kill the dragon. Indeed, unless he attacked the Princess it did not seem fair to kill him at all.

`He must like something,' whispered the Princess, and she called out in a voice as sweet as honey and sugar-cane:

`Dragon! Dragon dear!'

`WHAT?' shouted the dragon. `Say that again!' and they could hear the dragon coming towards them through the darkness of the cave. The Princess shivered, and said in a very small voice:

`Dragon -- Dragon dear!'

And then the dragon came out. The Prince drew his sword, and the Princess drew hers -- the beautiful silver-handled one that the Prince had brought in his motor-car. But they did not attack; they moved slowly back as the dragon came out, all the vast scaly length of him, and lay along the rock -- his great wings half spread and his silvery sheen gleaming like diamonds in the sun. At last they could retreat no further -- the dark rock behind them stopped their way -- and with their backs to the rock they stood swords in hand and waited.

The dragon grew nearer and nearer -- and now they could see that he was not breathing fire and smoke as they had expected -- he came crawling slowly towards them wriggling a little as a puppy does when it wants to play and isn't quite sure whether you're not cross with it.

And then they saw that great tears were coursing down its brazen cheek.

`Whatever's the matter?' said the Prince.

`Nobody,' sobbed the dragon, `ever called me "dear" before!'

`Don't cry, dragon dear,' said the Princess. `We'll call you "dear" as often as you like. We want to tame you.'

`I am tame,' said the dragon -- `that's just it. That's what nobody but you has ever found out. I'm so tame that I'd eat out of your hands.'

`Eat what, dragon dear?' said the Princess. `Not biscuits?' The dragon slowly shook his heavy head.

`Not biscuits?' said the Princess tenderly. `What, then, dragon dear?'

`Your kindness quite undragons me,' it said. `No one has ever asked any of us what we like to eat -- always offering us princesses, and then rescuing them -- and never once, "What'll you take to drink the King's health in?" Cruel hard I call it,' and it wept again.

`But what would you like to drink our health in?' said the Prince. `We're going to be married today, aren't we, Princess?'

She said that she supposed so.

`What'll I take to drink your health in?' asked the dragon. `Ah, you're something like a gentleman, you are, sir. I don't mind if I do, sir. I'll be proud to drink you and your good lady's health in a tiny drop of' -- its voice faltered -- `to think of you asking me so friendly like,' it said. `Yes, sir, just a tiny drop of puppuppuppuppupetrol -- tha-that's what does a dragon good, sir --'

`I've lots in the car,' said the Prince, and was off down the mountain in a flash. He was a good judge of character and knew that with this dragon the Princess would be safe.

`If I might make so bold,' said the dragon, `while the gentleman's away -- p'raps just to pass the time you'd be so kind as to call me Dear again, and if you'd shake claws with a poor old dragon that's never been anybody's enemy but his own -- well, the last of the dragons will be the proudest dragon that's ever been since the first of them.'

It held out an enormous paw, and the great steel hooks that were its claws closed over the Princess's hand as softly as the claws of the Himalayan bear will close over the bit of bun you hand it through the bars at the Zoo.

And so the Prince and Princess went back to the palace in triumph, the dragon following them like a pet dog. And all through the wedding festivities no one drank more earnestly to the happiness of the bride and bridegroom than the Princess's pet dragon -- whom she had at once named Fido.

And when the happy pair were settled in their own kingdom, Fido came to them and begged to be allowed to make himself useful.

`There must be some little thing I can do,' he said, rattling his wings and stretching his claws. `My wings and claws and so on ought to be turned to some account -- to say nothing of my grateful heart.'

So the Prince had a special saddle or howdah made for him -- very long it was -- like the tops of many tramcars fitted together. One hundred and fifty seats were fitted to this, and the dragon, whose greatest pleasure was now to give pleasure to others, delighted in taking parties of children to the seaside. It flew through the air quite easily with its hundred and fifty little passengers -- and would lie on the sand patiently waiting till they were ready to return. The children were very fond of it, and used to call it Dear, a word which never failed to bring tears of affection and gratitude to its eyes. So it lived, useful and respected, till quite the other day -- when someone happened to say, in his hearing, that dragons were out-of-date, now so much new machinery had come in. This so distressed him that he asked the King to change him into something less old-fashioned, and the kindly monarch at once changed him into a mechanical contrivance. The dragon, indeed, became the first aeroplane.

The End.

Friday 30 October 2020

Mythical World of Dragons

 Mythical World of Dragons

Just in time for Halloween!

Dare to Imagine?
Mythical world of Dragons exists in daily life, unseen!

In this video, digital art by Steve Caunce depicts  the ever present Dragons in day to day life and, their imagined, mythical world . It is set to  Royalty Free music by Kevin MacLeod. The music is titled: "In the Light" 

You can also see this on YouTube
Just Click on the link:

Halloween originally known as “All Hallows' Eve” or” All Saints' Eve”,  is an age-old tradition that was once celebrated by Celtic peoples. Ancient Celtic harvest festivals, particularly the Gaelic festival Samhain, decidedly have had their pagan roots. Later on Samhain may have been Christianized and so resultantly it became known as All Hallows Day.  This particular time was dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows) martyrs, and all the faithful that had been departed. Did you know that some Christians historically abstained from eating meat on "All Hallows' Eve"? Instead, the traditional preference went with the vegetarian foods on this vigil day, including apples, potato pancakes, and soul cakes.

Halloween is usually observed on 31 October; however, this year because of the COVID 19, this annual event will most certainly  be postponed.  But you can still celebrate it, by creative ways, safely at home.

Happy Halloween. 

Saturday 25 August 2018

Hungry Ghost Period in 2018 - Kiyohime and the Heartless Priest

Hungry Ghost Period in 2018 

(August 11th - September 9th)  


Kiyohime and the Heartless Priest 

Many people believe in the existence of ghosts. Furthermore, they believe that anyone who meets their end violently or is guilty of some crime or sin when they die, do not go to Heaven or Hell but rather get trapped as lost souls or ghosts in the Earthly Realm, preying on or disrupting the lives of vulnerable individuals. Those who have perished rather unexpectedly through accidents or catastrophe, particularly during this Hungry Ghost period, are also considered to have been taken away by Ghosts.

This is pretty scary, right? Wait, there is still more: During the Hungry Ghost time, which falls on the 15th day of the 7th lunar month, the gates of Hell are supposedly opened wide allowing those other restless and spiteful spirits with their vendettas to escape into the Realm of the Living. Is it any wonder that superstitious folks are filled with such trepidation and dread during this time?

The night-time, early morning, and late night are considered a particularly vulnerable time and most dangerous as these vengeful ghosts and other evil spirits are at their most potent then.

To overcome this pervasive fear, perhaps to placate evil spirits and to ensure one’s safety, the Hungry Ghost period is generally transformed into a lively Festival: This is a time where prayers are offered and sacrificial ceremonies are conducted in temples. The burning of incense and Hell-money at the roadside and the decoration of houses and halls with bright lanterns present a pretty picture. And let us not forget the lively performances by the theatrical troupes in open air banquets or street festivals that draw in the big crowds. On the last day of the 7th lunar month, the Gates of the Underworld then are supposed to close, containing these malevolent spirits till next year. 

To ensure further safety, here are few do and don’ts to follow:

In the Ghost Month, particularly in the dark hours, evil spirits may target children, senior citizens, and weak or sensitive people; therefore they are advised to remain indoors.

Also, it is advisable to avoid any risk by swimming in a body of water such as a pool, pond or the sea. And stay away from any supernatural acts or games. Why tempt fate?

For those that are superstitious, keep items, such as amulets, prayer beads, coarse salt, glutinous rice, crosses and lodestones close at hand as an added protection from evil spirits.

Be safe and have fun. 

Kiyohime and the Heartless Priest 

(A Japanese Folklore Revised by BoSt)

According to Japanese folklore Kiyohime (or simply Kiyo) was the daughter of a village headman named Shōji, on the Hidaka riverbank. The family was wealthy enough to entertain and provide lodging for traveling priests, who often passed by on their way to a shrine famous for ascetic practices.

One day a handsome visiting priest named Anchin, having arrived at dusk, accepted the gracious invitation to be Shoji’s guest for the night. 

He was served a sumptuous meal and, was treated very well all during the evening with his needs generously provided for. He was even given the best bedroom. Unfortunately during the course of the night his attention was taken by Shoji’s rather bashful, beautiful daughter Kiyo. 

As Anchin was rather a debonair, handsome young priest with suave manners and eloquent tongue, Kiyo quickly became smitten by him.

Anchin seeing that his feelings were reciprocated, and so wanting more time to get to know Kiyo, he deferred his morning departure and instead made up a plausible excuse so as to extend his stay for a few more days.

It was a beautiful time of year, when the Earth wore the bright coloured cloak of spring and frolicking birds and insects filled the air with cheerful melody. A few surreptitious, fervent meetings led to intimacy and Anachin, having totally lost his head, fell deeply in love with Kiyo. 


Unfortunately Anchin, being a principled, devout individual most dedicated to his vocation, just as quickly snapped out of his infatuation and regained his senses,. From then on his demeanor was icy cold towards her and he refrained from any further covert meetings. Poor Kiyo wracked her brains for any explanation for this sudden change in Anchin and, failing to do so, fell into deep dismay. 

In her view she’d been taken advantage of and most cruelly and reprehensibly victimized by Anachin; especially since until then she had been virtuous and proper. The rejection by this heartless rogue Priest fed the furies of her emotions fanning them into intense hatred.

When one afternoon Kiyohime was away visiting a neighbour, Anachin took advantage of her absence to escape this sticky situation. He quietly made his excuses to his host Shoji and quickly departed.

She was incensed when she returned and found him already gone without a word. Beside herself, she dashed out of the house leaving her baffled father behind. 

Tears coursing down her cheeks she ran and ran in hot pursuit of the unfaithful lover, with her heart in a terrible grip of fiery rage.

Kiyohime eventually caught up with Anchin at the edge of the Hidaka River. Anchin, sighting her first, quickly hired the moored ferryman to help him across the river. Once on board, Anchin pressed the boatmen to gain speed. Paying him additional funds, he further cautioned the boatman not to let her cross after him.

Poor, distraught Kiyohime was crushed when she saw Anchin’s icy, heartless glare before he turned his face away to urge the boatmen for speed. She was so incensed; she bit her lip until blood trickled down her chin. Oblivious to her pain she dove into the rapid flowing river and started to swim towards them. She wanted some explanation, even a feeble excuse for his breaking his promise to her. While swimming in the torrent of the Hidaka River, thrashing this way and that, her heart was so filled with rage that it literally burst. Suddenly pitch darkness engulfed the waters. At that same moment she underwent a transformation, growing scales, becoming misshapen, and stretching until she turned into a fierce Dragon. 

When Anchin looked back and, this time, saw her in the altered state of a monstrous Dragon effortlessly gliding through the foamy tumultuous waters, his heart skipped a beat. Fortunately the boat had just reached the other shore. Bypassing the boatman who was trying to moor his craft, he simply jumped onto the shore. His feet firmly planted on the ground, he raced towards the temple called Dōjō-ji. His heart still in his mouth, sweating profusely and panting heavily, he begged the priests of Dōjōji for their cooperation and help in escaping this monster, the terrible evil spirit scourge that had taken on the form of a Dragon. They believed in Anchin and quickly lowered the bell of the temple to hide him under it. 

The Dragon at first hesitated to enter the temple. But then her icy breath blew open the enormous doors in a miasmic cloud of fog, dust and debris and she manifested inside. 


“Where is he?” She roared. But no one was there to answer her as all the priests had taken flight and hid. Her fiery breath could have razed the temple to the ground but she still retained some benevolence and instead forcefully restrained her wrath. 

She looked about her for a time, and then her keen sense picked up the frightened odor of Anchin quaking terribly, though well hidden, inside the giant bell.

Seething, the Dragon sliced through the air right across the room and coiled her enormous tail around the bell. She thrashed the bell loudly for several times. Anchin was nearly driven insane with all the noise and vibration. However he was trapped and deep down he knew he would pay for his sin. So he started to pray quietly for absolution.

Too late! 

For just then the Dragon having tired of this fruitless torment, gave a gigantic belch of fire that engulfed and quickly melted the bell with Anchin inside. 


Wednesday 11 April 2018

Eyes Wide Open

Eyes Wide Open

Many cultures throughout history have held similar beliefs that eyes, particularly the pupils, are “windows to the soul”. Here’s an original, fictional story that incorporates this particular insight. 

Eyes Wide Open

Orphaned at the age of three Tuan Yong was brought up by his paternal uncle Tuan Gang who had begrudgingly taken him in. 


His uncle Gang had an only son Tuan Min who happened to be six months older than Yong. Min had two elder half-sisters but, being the only male offspring, was terribly fawned upon and spoiled from birth. 


A special tutor was engaged to educate both children but with a particular onus to give the most attention and care to Min. Yong was pretty much left to his own devices to learn whatever he can. However Yong had the propensity to develop into a fine, intelligent, young man with high moral fibre. Gifted with many exceptional abilities, generous to a fault in nature, as well as, possessing a rather statuesque, handsome physique, Yong had, in every imaginable way, far surpassed Min. To the further consternation of his uncle Gang, Yong also possessed added brilliance and aptitude with the literary and the fine arts. By simply tapping into his vast reserves of imagination on top of his natural keen insight into nature, Yong would produce with the least effort dazzling masterpieces in a flash. He was therefore popular and held increasingly so in high regard by all his peers. 

In contrast, Min, despite his efforts and many inherited advantages, could never measure up, always falling short in any social or academic endeavor. What’s more, as upstanding as Yong was in character and ability, Min was the opposite. But instead of acknowledging his inferiority, Min remained falsely confident, vain and cruel. 


Wishing to advance his only son Min, Gang chose to be perpetually blinded to all his shortcomings. He refused to acknowledge the blatant facts when Min took full credit for Yong’s exemplary deeds and academic accolades. Most often Yong was also unfairly blamed and punished for many of Min’s loathsome acts. Moreover poor Yong would be severely reprimanded at each instance for his supposed failing to protect and deter Min from his nasty endeavors and his increasingly coarse, scandalous ways. 

As they grew up, to the added consternation of Gang, his son Min had become progressively wicked and licentious, warranting more additional funds and force to suppress the resulting damage. To make matters worse Min had become a compulsive gambler and a womanizer. His idle ways led him to spend most of his time in unsavory places doing many abhorrent things. All of which of course was covered up with a certain pressure and occasional bribery; even though this greatly sapped Gang’s coffers. 

Then came a day when Min committed an unpardonable crime; one that could not be so easily swept under the rug for any amount of finagling, threat or money. The situation was dire and something extreme needed to resolve it. 


In a private conference Uncle Tuan Gang spoke his mind after laying the blame squirrely on Yong’s shoulders. “You should have been more insistent in your reasoning with Min and strove harder, been more persistent in order to prevent this catastrophic event. As it is, the authorities will be wizened to it by morning and will be coming to make an arrest!"

Finally, after all that ranting and raving, with his fury spent, Gang sat down and in a hissing voice added, “There might be, however, one last recourse left. That is, if you, Tuan Yong are willing to face this probable peril. “Looking down he mumbled, “And considering all that I’ve done for you, you owe me, at least this one favor!"

Yong ‘s life by any means had not been an easy one, still he felt he owed his Uncle a debt of gratitude for his upbringing, education and shelter for all these years. He therefore had little choice but to accede to this unfair demand and shoulder the full blame for Min’s crime.

“I’m not an entirely unreasonable man however, “His uncle hemmed and hawed. “That is why I’ve facilitated your escape. The authorities will look the other way till morning. This letter will give you the proper introductions to my friend Fan Wei who owes me a favor. He lives in the Sekor district in Dara province. The journey will be hard on you I dare say, as it crosses much hostile territory and is close to the border, a far, far place from here. He will take you in all right; he owes me and he can use you in his employ till such a time that this thing blows over. Is that agreeable to you?”

“Of course Uncle,” Yong fell on his knees, “I’m forever indebted to you for your mercy.” What other response could Yong give? 

Shortly after leaving all that he had known behind, armed with a letter, Yong made good his escape under cover of night.

His arduous trek eventually took him to the foothills of a great mountain range. Looking up, he observed the snow cowered peaks and just below that the expansive span of dense forest stretching as far as the eye could see. Subsequently, his desperate gaze searched for accessible paths. He knew that crossing these mountains will be the last leg of his journey. From then on a far easier topography but harsher climate still awaited him. His provisions for sustenance were nearly exhausted, save for a small portion of dried bread and moldy cheese. Meanwhile though his foot-gear was threadbare he would still persevere, he was sure of it. He was only armed with a staff and a short knife for protection; fortunately though he had been spared from encounters with bandits or carnivorous beasts. 

The snaking, narrow, rocky mountain paths with a sheer precipice on one side, led him ever upward for many a day, then one fine afternoon he found himself at the maw of a huge cave. As the weather looked rather ominous, he entered the cave to seek shelter for the night. 


With intermixed trepidation and eagerness in his heart, his feet carried him further and further in. As it was still daylight, he took advantage of the scant light streaming in. Eventually he arrived at a large opening, a huge chamber bathed in plenty of light. Up ahead, his eyes beheld the source; an unexpected huge opening that looked out onto a distant forested mountain. Incredibly a person clad in strange priestly garments was seated at a bench table, brush in hand, quite engaged in painting on a silk cloth. Unable to believe his eyes, he tentatively advanced until he was right behind the seated stranger. Leaning over he observed a most remarkable painting. It depicted the scene outside of the opening so perfectly, so lifelike. An exclamation escaped Yong’s lips as he marveled at the artistry. 

He took hold of his senses however and pulled back; then quickly apologized, “Please excuse me for this intrusion, but what an amazing ....” He’d suddenly found himself lost for words.

The stranger had at first remained perfectly still and quite unperturbed. Presently he half turned to glance at Yong. 

At once Yong bowed to the stranger who had by then risen to his feet and squarely faced him. After his repeated apology for his infringement of the painter’s privacy, Yong formally introduced himself, and then exclaimed his deep admiration of the painting in progress. He rambled on without intending to for several minutes. A profusion of words and concepts mainly extrapolating on the points of the painting he admired streamed from his mouth; followed by other historical references and artists relating to the style and subject of the painting.

“You seem quite knowledgeable of the arts” the stranger, who’d listened with unusual patience, finally smiled. He then introduced himself as Liong Xiá and further inquired, “But what is this person Zhang Shen Yao you’ve made mention of? I am not familiar with that person. “

Yong could hardly believe his ears, “Surely you jest, sir?” He politely smiled. “He is a legendary artist, known far and wide in the realm."


But the stranger simply shook his head. In the ensuing silence, Yong was obliged to offer more explanations; and so, he succinctly told the account of the story of Zhang Seng Yao’s painting of Dragons:

He was a famous painter, during Wei-Jin the South and North Dynasties who excelled in painting animals, birds and particularly dragons.

According to legend, the Emperor had ordered him to paint dragons on the wall of AnLe temple. After he drew four dragons, Zhang invited the emperor to take a look.

“But the work is incomplete! “The emperor was displeased, having at once noted that the dragons were drawn without the pupils. 

“The absence of the pupils is purposeful, “Zhang quickly explained, “as they are the essence of the dragons. To do otherwise would bring the creatures to life and usher in unwarranted consequences.”

The emperor, thinking this to be a high exaggeration of an egotistical artist, demanded Zhang complete his work. Zhang Shen Yao was therefore forced to do as he was bid. No sooner did he complete the eyes of two of the dragons, lightening flashed and thunders roared. There was a strange mist that filled the air and in that chaos the two mighty dragons emerged through the mist. In a flash they dashed through the cave’s ceiling to instantly disappear without a trace into the sky. When the smoke and mist cleared, the emperor saw that only two dragons remained on the wall.

“Quite an interesting account” Xiá nodded at the conclusion of Yong’s retelling of the story. You have a flare with words, sir that enlivens the scene. Thank you for that. 


“Nevertheless, “Yong added thoughtfully. “ As enduring as this legend is, and there are even supposed to be documented historical accounts of its validity in the Royal Library. Now that I’ve said it out loud.... “Yong shrugged, doubting his original firm belief. “Perhaps it’s nothing more than a high exaggeration to beguile or entertain the masses.”

“Who’s to say” Xia shrugged. “Then again...” He picked up and unrolled one of the scrolls then spread it across the table. 


Yong was amazed at the lifelike painting of a bird... But what’s this? There were no pupils.

He looked up at Xie questioningly. 

Xiá smiled, “Would you like to know?”

“Yes,” Yong eagerly nodded.

At which point Xie took a brush, dipped the tip in ink and simply painted in the pupils. 

No sooner had he done that then, to the amazement of Yong, the bird blinked, his feathers ruffled, and then instantaneously came to life and simply flew away, escaping through the wide opening of the cave. 

Yong knew at once that this was no ordinary mortal. But his thoughts suddenly, for some reason, turned instead to the letter in his inner pocket.

“What’s this? “But then, when he reached for it, he discovered that it was missing. Had he dropped it along the way? 

Yong, looking up and saw the very letter with its seal intact in the hands of Xiá.

“Are you looking for this? “ Xia looked grim as he glanced at the letter. Then suddenly he fixed his eyes on Jiang and asked, “You’ve never once had the temptation to open it to see what’s inside?”

“Of course not! It was not addressed to me.” Yong gave his frank response.

”Then again, this once, perhaps you should have.” Xia pursed his lips.

Yong understood at once the peril that awaited him at the end of his journey. After all his survival would have been a bane to Gang with so much at stake. It saddened Yong however that his Uncle had so little regard for him. Then again, perhaps his Uncle’s love for his son was far greater.

Having decided quickly he knelt before Liong Xiá . He then pleaded to be his pupil. 

Xiá smiled and nodded. Then he held out the letter which disappeared in a puff of smoke.

The End.