Asia Tao and the Essence of the Dragon
Prologue: The Jade Stone
Songshan Mountain, Dengfeng County, Zhengzhou, Henan province, China: Songyang Academy
The sun was beginning to set, as Asia stood alone in the enormous courtyard. Imperial buildings surrounded her as she tried to center herself. Her long black hair wavered in the wind. Every few minutes her best friend Chang would come to check on her and Dong the class bully would come to tease her. Asia felt she had to prove herself being the only girl in her class. She stayed in the courtyard relentless practicing until her Sifu forced her to stop and go to sleep.
Asia felt defeated. She lay in bed grasping the medallion around her neck. It gave her peace to feel the cold metal on her skin. It reminded her of her parents. It was a circular shaped object made out of gold with these engravings of nine dragonheads all connected to the same body, which looked like a tiger. On the other side of the medallion was the symbol for yin and yang. Her dad had given it to her when they had come home from one of their extra long excavating trips. He promised that it would protect her.
Asia unsuccessfully tried to sleep. She had just closed her eyes when she heard a voice calling her name. Asia opened her eyes and looked up to see Chang standing over her in his Gi. His shoulder-length black hair was in a ponytail and he had a huge grin on his face.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“I’m going to teach you the Li He Quan.” He said.
“Chang goes bed to bed it’s hopeless,” Asia said as she rolled over and closed her eyes.
“I got a secret that will help you master it,” Chang said.
Asia opened her eyes and sat up in her bed. “Really?” she asked excitedly.
“Get dressed, and I’ll show you.” He said.
“Okay, wait for me outside,” she said.
Asia emerged from her bedroom dressed in her gi. Chang had a lantern in one hand as he grabbed her hand with the other.
“Be very quiet,” he said as he led her through the concrete courtyard.
Asia began to blush, and her heart starts to beat faster. She tiptoed behind Chang until they reached a large staircase that led to the forbidden Fawang Temple on the other side of the courtyard.
“What’s in here?” she asked shakily.
Your destiny.” he answered as he smiled and began to walk up the broad staircase to the entrance of the temple.
“But we aren’t supposed to go in here,” nervously Asia said as she followed closely behind Chang.
Once inside the temple Asia looked around to see several ominous ancient looking pagodas. The most ominous of them all was a square shaped stone tower with endless multi-leveled eaves. To her dismay that was the pagoda, that Chang began to led her towards. With each step they took, it began to get darker as the moon rose higher in the sky. When they finally reached the pagoda it was pitch black, the only light came from the dimly lit moon and the lantern Chang held. Chang reached in his pocket and took out a Sifu’s master key that he used to unlock the tall doors that guarded the entrance into the pagoda.
Asia followed Chang into the dark building. “Wait here,” Chang said as he lit the candles along the wall of the pagoda.
Asia looked around the room, and it was empty except for a shrine for a jade statue of Buddha holding a jade stone. “See that stone?” he asked.
“Yes.” She answered confused.
“Legend has it a woman will come for it, and she will be the savior of China,” Chang explained.
“What does any of that have to do with me or Liu He Quan?” she asked frustrated.
“The legend says when that woman touches it she will be given all knowledge to complete her journey,” he said.
“A woman?” Asia asked in disbelief. “I’m not her,” she said.
“How do you know you aren’t her?” Chang asked.
“I know, I can’t believe you woke me up for this!” she yelled. “And I doubt the legend says it will be a woman to save China.” She snarled.
“Well not exactly but just touch it,” he said as he picked up the stone and tossed it to her.
Asia watched as he rock sailed across the room out of her reach and she dove to catch it. “Chang, you could have broken it,” she whispered. “Look nothing is happening,” she said annoyed as she walked over to put the stone back in its place.
“Wait, it’s glowing,” Chang said.
Asia looked down at her hands in shock as the stone began to glow. “It’s hot!” she yelled.
Scared, she quickly sat the stone back in the statue and backed away. She and Chang ran nonstop back to her room.
They were frightened and out of breathing as the stood in her bedroom. “That was weird,” Chang said.
“Yeah, thanks for getting me burned, how am I suppose to be ready for tomorrow now? She asked almost in tears.
“I’m sorry Asia,” Chang said trying to comfort her.
“Just get out!” she yelled.
Chang turned and walked away heartbroken. Chang liked Asia and just wanted to help her, but he had made things worse. Asia lay in her bed and cried herself to sleep.
The sun rose and last night felt like a dream. Asia was awakened by the sound of a rooster crowing. She looked down at her hands and they weren’t burned. It must have been a dream she thought. Asia began to smile as she got out of bed and followed the rest of her classmates to breakfast. As everyone rushed to the dining hall she spotted Chang in the crowd.
“Chang!” she called out as she ran to him.
“You aren’t mad anymore?” he asked.
“About what?” she asked confused.
“About last night, your hands getting burned? He asked.
“That happened?” she asked. “I thought I was dreaming.” She said as she held up her hands.
“The burns are gone,” Chang said in amazement.
Asia and Chang ate breakfast as fast as they could. They were anxious to get to the courtyard and see if the stone had worked. Asia and Chang finished eating before everyone else in their class and ran out to the courtyard to test Asia’s skills. First Chang took her through the basics hitting and blocking. Asia had become extremely quicker and accurate. Every time Asia hit Chang, it sent him flying back 5 feet. Chang could tell she was not even using all of her strength. As they continued to practice, they began to draw a crowd. Everyone looked on in awe but Dong was not impressed. Dong was a muscular, bald, mean kid and he loved to torment Asia.
“That’s nothing you are fighting a loser, fight me,” Dong said. “I will even let you pick the style,” Dong said taunting her.
“Don’t listen to him,” Chang said.
“Its okay, I’ll fight him,” Asia said confidently. Chang smiled and moved out of the way. “Liu He Quan style,” Asia said.
Dong laughed, ”You don’t know that style.”
Asia got her in stance and waited for Dong to try to hit her. Dong threw a kick and missed as Asia ducked. Asia quickly countered with a fist to his face and knocked him out.
Dong’s body hit the ground like a brick just in time for their Sifu to see. He was a short old man with long black hair and a face that showed very little emotion. “Well done.” He said as he cracked a smile. “Everyone the show is over get to class now.” He said. “Except you two Asia and Chang.” He added.
Asia and Chang glanced at each other nervously as they stopped dead in their tracks. “Yes, sifu,” Chang said trying not to make direct eye contact.
“You two went into the forbidden temple last night and touched the jade stone.” Their Sifu said. “Do you have any idea of the magnitude of the decision you just made?” he asked angrily.
“No.” they both uttered with their heads lowered in shame.
“That stone was created by the eight immortals over a thousand years ago to defeat an evil dragon king, and whosoever touches burdens themselves with that task.” He replied.
“But there is so such thing as dragons,” nervously Chang said as if he were asking instead of making a statement.
“Follow me and let me enlighten you two.” Their Sifu said as he began to walk through the courtyard towards the forbidden temple. “Long ago in ancient China the people were ruled by four dragon kings.” He began. “There was the azure dragon who ruled the east and was the essence of spring.” “There was the red dragon who ruled the south and was the essence of summer.” “There was the white dragon who ruled the west and was the essence of fall.” “Then there was the black dragon who ruled the south and was the essence of winter.” He went on.
Chang and Asia listened attentively to their Sifu as they entered the forbidden temple and made their way the pagoda which held the jade stone. Once inside the pagoda, he motioned for them to sit at the foot of the shrine of the Jade Buddha that held the jade stone.
“Do you two know who this is?” he asked.
“Buddha,” they replied in unison.
“Yes and no, see Buddha is a title meaning enlighten one, blessed one, or to become awake not the name of one man.” Their Sifu stated. “A long time ago the term Buddha was a title for an African man or group of men from an ancient Egyptian priesthood but just like many things the originally meaning has been changed or pervert to mean something else.” “The Buddhist religion was established 500 years before Christianity in Egypt around the same time as Judaism.” He went on.
So Buddha was a black man?” Chang asked in disbelief.
“The original Buddha was a black man but a Buddha is anyone who has been enlightened or awakened to the true meaning of life, someone who has been totally transformed and reborn.” Their sifu replied. “This particular statue is of a very enlightened man who saved China thousands of years ago named Longwei Lao.” “He was a descendant of the ancient black Chinese from the Shang Dynasty who ruled from 1766 B.C. to 1027 B.C.” He added.
“Ancient black Chinese?” Asia questioned in confusion.
“Well it seems I have to give you two a history lesson as well as a lesson in obedience.” He replied as he sat down next to them. “Okay the first African arrived in China about 60,000 years ago.’ He began. “The first two dynasties in china the Xia and the Shang both had black rulers they were referred to Xuan Di which means black emperor but the Shang was the first documented governance.” “King T’ang the founder of the Shang dynasty was of African descent, he and the Shang dynasty were responsible for unifying China to form their first civilization.” “The Shang was referred to as Nakhi which means black man and were described as having black and oily skin.” He went on. “They were known for being great warriors and humble a people so when it came time for a hero the eight immortals chose a man from their bloodline to save China.” “Do you two know who the eight immortals are?” he asked.
“Okay this I know my grandmother used to tell me about them to make me behave.” Chang replied. “They were eight people who got the attention of God by suffering with no complaint and giving more than received.” “They were given powers and an eternal life as a reward for their service on earth.” “They were also tasked with the responsibility as serving as a supernatural council for China.”
“That is correct.” Their Sifu said. “What do you two know about the last Dragon King?” he asked.
“Just the myth that says he was an evil king who ruled China a longtime ago and that he was the father of the nine dragon children Longwei slew to harness the essence of the dragon,” Asia replied.
“Well yes that is correct but there is more to the story.” Their Sifu stated. “See the four dragon King’s who ruled ancient China were his brother’s.” He said. “They were the last of their kind.” “The brothers were said to have been born in Triassic times and were chosen to rule China by God.” “All but one brother, the gold dragon.”
“So they were dinosaurs?” Chang asked in disbelief.
“Yes, dinosaurs that were spared by God, given powers and made immortal when he destroyed their world millions of years ago.” He said.
“Why didn’t the gold dragon get to rule China?” Asia asked.
“The myth says that God didn’t think that the gold dragon possessed the virtue required to rule China.” Her Sifu answered. “The gold dragon was angry at God’s decision so Instead of trying to prove his worthiness to God and his brothers the gold dragon committed a forbidden act in order to get back at them.”
“What did he do?” Chang asked intrigued.
“He fell in love with a mortal and had nine sons.” Their Sifu replied. “When the supernatural council discovered what he had done they created the jade stone and the dragon sword that would give a worthy human the power to destroy him and his offspring.”
“Why couldn’t the immortals just do it themselves?” Asia asked.
“Because the immortals were spirits who made a vow to do no evil and that included murder.” Their sifu replied.
“But what about his brothers what did they say?’ Chang asked anxiously.
Their Sifu laughed. “I’m getting to that.” He replied. “The eight immortals told his brothers about their decision to destroy him and his brothers were given one last chance to deter him from his evil ways.” “But when his brothers confronted him he killed them and stole their essence.” “See the gold dragon couldn’t bear the thought of killing his children.”
“They wanted him to kill his children?” Asia asked sadly.
“Yes they were an abomination.” Her sifu replied. “And when he didn’t agree and killed his brothers the eight immortals were forced to go through with their plan to destroy them all.” “The immortals searched high and low until they found a worthy ally a young blacksmith and martial artist by the name of Longwei Lao.” “The myth says that an immortal possessed a human and tasked Longwei to make a sword for him with specific requirements, that sword would become the dragon sword.” “The immortal was also said to have paid Longwei with a stone made of pure jade and that when he touched it he gained superhuman abilities and skills.” “The immortal then revealed himself and the mission that Longwei must complete to save China.”
“And he just agreed?” Chang asked skeptically.
“Well probably not right away but the myth only tells us that he accepted the task and killed the nine dragon children.” Their sifu explained. “When the gold dragon found out what had been done he built an army led by Xiang Yu.”
“Wait, Xiang Yu that name sounds familiar,” Chang said.
“Yeah, Longwei helped the emperor Liu Bang defeat warlord Xiang Yu in the battle of Gaixia in 202 BC.” Their sifu replied. “He was also the uncle of Longwei’s best friend, Chin Ho.”
“That must have been awkward.” Asia chuckled.
“Yeah especially since when Longwei harnessed the essence of the dragon Chin-ho got powers too and they didn’t exactly see eye to eye on how to use them.”
“What, how did he get powers too?” Asia asked.
“Because everything in life must be balanced the yin has to have a yang.” Their sifu answered. “Now back to Xiang Yu.” “Xiang Yu helped the gold dragon kill hundreds of black Chinese men who resembled Longwei and enslaved hundreds more black Chinese including women and children in an attempt to lure Longwei out of hiding.”
“Why was he hiding if he had the dragon sword and the essence of the dragon?” Chang asked.
“He wasn’t hiding Longwei just needed time to adjust to the superpowers the essence gave him.” Their sifu explained. “Once he mastered his powers he defeated Xiang Yu then went after the gold dragon whom he defeated as well.”
“Well if all the dragons are dead then we have nothing to worry about,” Asia stated.
“That’s not the end of the story though.” Their sifu said. “See Chin Ho wanted revenge for Longwei causing the death of his uncle.” “But the only thing that could kill Longwei was the dragon sword and it never left his side.” “So while Longwei had been traveling all over China becoming this great warrior while Chin Ho spent his life searching for ways to defeat him.” “Years later Chin Ho finally got his chance at revenge.” “Longwei came home to Szechuan to retire and Chin Ho lured Longwei to his home with promise of a truce.” “He got Longwei drunk and then murdered him with the dragon sword.” “When Longwei took his last breath Chin Ho lost his powers and the story says he spent the last few years of his life searching for ways to get them back.” “See when Longwei decided to come home and retire he had a spell cast to trap the essence in a hidden medallion so that if he died the essence wouldn’t get into the wrong hands.” “ He also made it so that the essence could only be found by the powers of the jade stone which was linked by the eight immortals to Longwei’s bloodline.”
“So that means I’m a descendent of Longwei.” Asia said. “Ok so if Chin Ho lost his powers then he was no longer immortal so that mean that he’s dead too.” “So exactly who is there to save China from?” she asked.
“There will be people who want the essence, evil people and they will be willing to kill to get it.” Her sifu replied. “You are the key to finding the essence, you are connected to it now just like Longwei, and that means people will be looking for you too.” He said.