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Phoenix Flair, Dragon Descent Preview Prologue and Scene from novel

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Wondering if I could get some opininons on the prologue to one of the novels I'll be putting up on my website.


The is intended as an introduction to the world setting, important background regarding the god characters, and to give a brief impression of the character of Monkey. The second is just a brief scene I've written out and personally like.


BTW, the novel is written in the style of the second preview, not the prologue.


ALL animal names are TEMORARY. I'm currently trying to come up with better, Eastern-sounding ones. It just takes a while. LOL


Anyway, here's "The Teachings of Monkey" and what I tend to refer to as "The Lily Dream".


The Teachings of Monkey


So much has been lost. So much forgotten. Rabbit keeps up on me about that, but really, what?s an old man to do? What he can, that?s what, and what I can do is this.


In the beginning, there were the Ancients. They are ? well, to be honest, I?m not really sure. Not like you me and you, though. One of them, Turtle, she ? she was lonely, I think. Lonely of her ethereal, contemplative existence. And so she created her children: Koiureiza from the Elements of Fire and Air; and Boichurai from Water and Earth. And for them, she created the world.


Things were good, at first. Then, of course, we had to come along and mess things up. By ?we?, I don?t really mean me; this was all before my time. Well, most of it. The worst of it.


You?ve got to see, and I know this will be hard for you, but Koiureiza and Boichurai were made for each other. Literally. Two halves of a whole, greater than what they were alone and all that. They need each other.


But Turtle, I think she made them too well. Too full of pride, too full of arrogance. That?s the downfall of us all, lesser gods included ? I mean, just go looking at Horse and Dog! But the worst thing you can do to us is tell us we have to do something. Tell us that, and we?ll fight it to the end of the world and back.

Of course, Snake had her hand in it, too. Because the opposite is also true: the easiest way to get one of us after something is say we can?t have it.


And so, we fought and bickered, and Koiureiza played us all, holding herself just far enough out of reach that we?d all want her, basking in our glory of her. Oh, Boichurai had his share of suitors, but he?s always been quieter. It was Koiureiza that drew the attention. And of us all, the one she?s pay it back least to was Boichurai.


Fortunately, the second flaw of arrogance worked for use that time. The more she ignored him, the more he swore he?d have her.


Then, he got smart. Wish I could say it was my idea, but I?m history, I?m not good at coming up with the new stuff. I?d put my money on Sheep, she always is looking out for her Lady?s best interests. At least, she was back then, but we won?t get into that.


Anyway, Boichurai did something so outrageous, so original, so fantastic, it had to get her attention.


He humbled himself.


One of the three great Kings. Lord over all Earth and Water, the Moon and Knowledge, the Thunderer. Humbled himself.


For her.


I don?t know where he got the courage to do it. Maybe it was the fact he tricked her to do it. But he came there all the same, dressed as one of Rat?s kin, called her his Lady, asked for the greatest of gifts in the most lowly of voices, and she granted him her favor. She always had had a soft spot for mortals.


Never you think it was set from that moment on, though. We all tried all the harder after that. Even Ox tried his best, the bumbling fool. Stars, I tried; fire is a lovely, lovely thing to play with. I honestly thought Pig would pull it off for a short while there, he?s a smooth talker and has the sparkly things to back it up with.


But I also saw the look on Boichurai?s face, on both their faces, that one time. They?d always been a little bored, a little outside of everything ? what haven?t the mountains seen, where has not the breeze been? At that moment, though, he had a purpose, a quest. And at that moment, she had a glimpse at what her mother had intended all along, and that it might not be such a bad thing after all.


After all, you don?t trick Turtle. She knows what?s best, and she knows how to make sure it happens.


They were beautiful together. For a glorious era, everything was as it should be. Never you mind those people that say stories of that time are myths. Life on earth, even for mortals, really had been that blessed. Fire, Water, Earth and Air in perfect harmony. The Sun and the Moon as lovers.


I don?t know how, but I blame Tiger for what happened next. He always hated Boichurai. Hated the stability he represented. Tiger may be Nothingness, the Void, but he?s also Chaos; Turtle?s the one that loves Balance. So he must have been responsible. After all, it?s what he would have done.


Taken away Boichurai?s stability. Driven the Thunderer insane. Forced Koiureiza to try and kill him, and on the very eve they were to be joined! I saw her afterwards, in her tattered gown that was supposed to represent her finest glory. She was losing it even then, mere moments without him. The power of Fire and Air unleashed on the world without Earth to support them or Water to cool them.


There is talk now of the End Times, but I don?t believe it. If the End Times didn?t happen then, I don?t see what else could cause it. And sometimes, I think the had, that those were the End Times, and everything else just us not knowing we are already dead.


Where to go after this, what can we do? I?m afraid that is all up to you, now.


I?ve done all I can, no matter what Rabbit says. I can only record. I cannot create. And those that can, I?m not sure we can trust anymore.


You are left to create for yourself.


What is it you are seeking, that you would destroy the world to make anew?





Lily Dream


?You wish to speak to the Lady,? the guard repeated, politeness forfeit to open skepticism. Before he could answer, the amazon bird-woman continued, ?Without an invitation, or even sending a messenger before you??


The Dragon Lord crossed his arms and did his best to seem displeased with the delay while not appearing threatening. It was difficult ? so often when he came to show his anger, he had already reached a point where he was quite willing to act upon it. Subtly, he silently reminded himself. He was here to get the attention of the one he sought, not to provoke her as well. ?I come to her as one equal to another, Lord to Lord.?


?Indeed,? the guard voice dripped with irony. She was a mere servant, hardly even a god, but nevertheless a powerful one; even in his present form, she came up to his shoulder. Nothing less could be expected for the one protecting the front gate of the Southern Palace.


Forcing himself to draw upon his patience, Boichurai asked his request again. ?I wish of you to just tell your Lady that I am here. The choice of whether she shall welcome me is entirely her own.?


The guard straightened, holding her shield firmly in front of her as her half-wing shifted the spear a few inches closer to a threaten range. ?The Lady is busy with her own affairs. If she is to see you, you must first allow her to give you the time without neglecting them.? She smirked. ?For one that comes as an equal, you already leave her at a disadvantage.?


Behind the guard, two other armored bird-people and a horse-man appeared, raising their spears to support their obvious captain.


Boichurai?s displeasure was quickly slipping from feigned to deadly real. ?Is this how your Lady has taught you to receive guests ? with open threats and accusations??


?We receive guests with the warmth of her Lady.? Smiling in anticipation of his anger ? for one so powerful, this guard was appallingly reckless ? she added, ?For those that seek to enter the palace without an invitation, however, we greet with the fire of her anger.?


Pulling himself up taller, the Thunderer cooled the air around them in warning. ?All I am asking for is that invitation. I did not come here to fight, however much fools try to bait me in it.? All movement seemed to stop, as he spoke between his teeth and a confident grin. ?Neither will I back down from their insults, however.?


The guard blinked once in surprise at his control of the temperature ? did she know nothing of him? ? before scowling and pointing the spear openly at him. ?None of the gods come to request an invitation themselves. For you to come instead of sending a messenger as is proper, we must assume you mean our Lady harm.?

?Then that is where your err.? He raised his arms, preparing to call the full power of Water against those that would stand between him and his goals.


?What is going on here??


The voice was musical, even in its anger, although the familiar trills he?d come to admire were clipped and short. Everyone turned towards it as the speaker came into view from behind the crystal walls of the palace. She seemed to float out from the courtyard to the gate, her silk skirts flaring across the ground and obscuring her feet as she walked purposefully forwards. Even scowling, her face was as beautiful as the sun, and cloaked in reds and golds she appeared every bit the personification of Fire alit she was.


?M?lady!? All four guards immediately dropped to their knees respectfully, bowing their heads. He would have thought it out of fear except the captain?s voice was full of relief as she said, ?The Dragon Lord refused to give a reason for desiring your audience, nevermind insulting your graciousness by not sending a messenger out before him.?


?Boichurai,? the Koiureiza noticed, crossing her arms as she assumed a position not very different from the one he had taken before as she glared at him with the full force of her displeasure. ?Since you seem in your arrogance to have lost all protocol, I shutter to discover the purpose of your visit. Nevertheless, I will find it, or take this to the Mother herself!?


?There is no need to disrupt dear Turtle over this, my Lady Koiureiza,? he soothed, bowing almost as low as her servants. Seeing her, even furious with him, calmed his anger. In truth, the reason behind his anger was that he had become afraid that his idea would not work, and he would not be able to see her at all. But now she was here, and he would have a chance. ?I admit, I have not sent a messenger or revealed the purpose of my visit to your honorable guards.? Looking up at her, he did his best to be as charming as possible. ?I beg your forgiveness for my impudence, but I was only concerned that what I had to say and give would be meant for you alone.?


She continued to frown down at him, her position not changed by his words. ?You are quite right to call this impudence! Threaten to attack my own guards, continue to talk in riddles.? She gave a mocking smile, sickeningly sweet. ?I believe you have come to court the wrong lady today; I am sure Snake would be most willing to greet you and receive your gift.?


He sneered at the mention of the goddess, unable to keep the revulsion he felt at the thought of her off of his face. It was true, he had once accepted the attention of the sleek, silver tongued Snake, but he had no interest in her lies anymore. There was only one he now saw fit to plead the favor of, and he intended to win it. ?I would rather throw my gift and its intentions into the Void then let that she-demon touch it.?


Koiureiza shrugged. ?Then so be it. I am not interested.? She turned to leave, as though finished with the conversation. But Boichurai was a god, too, and he was well aware that if her words were true, she would either banish him from her gate or vanish back to her palace and allow her guards to deal with him.


?You are not in the slightest curious as to what gift I am not willing to let any other person, divine or otherwise, touch until it is in your own sweet hands?? He made a show to conjure up his gift while leaving it obscured behind a veil of mist.


Despite herself, the Lady of Fire and Air turned back to see what he had brought. All she would be able to see, he was sure, was that it was small enough to be cradled in one of his hands, the other hovering protectively over it. ?I am curious as to why you seem to view it important enough to deserve all this spectacle,? she admitted, keen eyes trying to focus through the wisps of mist.


He raised an eyebrow, grinning. He was back in control again, and he was going to take advantage of the moment while it lasted. ?You would have it revealed here, at your front gate, for all to see??


?It seems to be where you enjoy humiliating yourself.? Even as she smirked, though, she was unable to keep her eyes away from the mystery he?d presented her. ?Nevertheless, I tire of talking in doorways. Come.? With a gesture, she transported both him and herself to one of her inner sanctums, leaving the stunned guards alone to try and discern exactly what had transpired.


The room she had brought him to was shaped from living crystal, rich reds with veins of sky blue and yellows trimmed in the finest gold. The wall coverings were pure silk, and softened the already curved lines of the walls as they flowed to meet the rich carpet and feather-soft lounge chairs. It was a small surprise to Boichurai that she had taken them there; he had never seen such a small, private room before in any of his official visits to her palace, although he had known a woman given to her own thoughts would have to have such there. The bright colours and opulence were too garish for his own tastes, but the movement of the room suited her.


She relaxed onto one of the lounges, as graceful as ever, but made no gesture to permit him to do the same. ?So, what is this great gift you offer that deserves no messenger??


Sweeping away the smoke he revealed an ice carving of a flame in full motion, bowing again to present it to her. It was opaque, reflecting the fire-colours of the room while not allowing anyone to look into its heart.


She gazed at it for a moment before raising one already arched eyebrow. ?This is your great gift: a small ice statue like dozens you have sent to me before?? She frowned. ?You are trying to play me for a fool.?


No, I am the fool. But he was too deep to turn back now. ?There are many things hidden beneath surfaces, my Lady. I offer you a gift of my domains, Earth and Water. All it lacks to make it complete is the blessings from your own.?


She looked from the statue unmelting in his hand to his face, unsure of what to make of it all. ?My blessings? I fail to see the point of that.?


Boldly, he took her hand to tip the statue into it, brushing both of his own along her fingers as he released her. ?Give it your touch of Fire and Air, and see what it becomes.?


Staring down at the cold flame, she did as he suggested, blowing gently over it to add both her air and her warmth, imbuing in that simple action the full force of her abilities.


The ice quickly melted under the force of the Phoenix?s heat, lifting into the air with hardly a shred of steam. The mock flame flowed down to a flower bud twisted tight against the cold, which opened to reveal a beautiful, perfect lily when touched by the living air.


Koiureiza gasped in wonder at the blossom in her hand, stroking one petal as though not convinced it was real. Deep red at its heart, it faded to glowing orange and yellows to the tips, her fire captured in a delicate lily.


Boichurai had to chuckle at her expression, amazed and awed by the simple gift. ?You act as though you have never been given a flower before.?


?I haven?t.? She lifted her gift closer to her face to breathe in its perfume. ?I have received dozens upon dozens of roses, acres of gardens to win over my favor. But never before a single, perfect flower like this.?

His face softened as he watched her smile in sweet delight, totally enthralled by his gift to her. He wasn?t sure where the idea for it had come from, but he had never dared to hope she would accept it so happily. Only now did he admit that any other god would have been insulted by such a humble flower, particularly after everything he had put her through to receive it. But somehow, the fact he had made such a show over a brief thing that united both of their domains seemed to have added to her enjoyment of it.


Suddenly, she looked up at him, her face concerned. ?Will it fade??


?It is a flower, made from the land. Like everything that comes from the land, it must die and go back to it.? When her face fell, he stroked her cheek, apologizing. ?That is beyond my power to change.?


?But I am sure there has never been another like it before.? She cradled her delicate gift close to her and away from the cruel world.


A flower birthed from the union of Fire and Ice, grown from both Earth and Air. No, Koiureiza, nothing like it has ever been created before. ?I can make you others.?


She shook her head. ?They will not be the same. They will not be this flower.? She stroked it again. She looked so innocent, devoted to a single gift with all her being. So like a child ? had either of them ever been children? Had either of them never not known the heady power of others? adoration and fear? He seemed to remember such, but it had been so long ago.


He smiled when he realized what he could do, and raised her chin with a finger so she could see it. ?Life is beyond my power. But it is the domain of Turtle.? He took her hand, in order to gently tip the flower into his. ?I will ask her for you if she could make it as immortal as the stars.?


?Turtle?? She pulled away from him. ?It is a foolish request. You should not trouble the Great Mother with it.?


?It would make you happy.? He tried to take the flower and her hands again. When had he last smiled this much?


She shook her head, but laughed at him, the sad look in her eyes replaced by a sparking charm. ?And what is it to you, if I am happy or not??


He caught her chin, making sure she saw how serious his face and eyes became at that question. ?It is a great matter to me if you are happy. I am willing to do anything to see it done.?


She blinked at him, confused, for a long moment. ?Why??


Not fully sure of the answer himself, he took the lily from her hands, raising her palms up to his mouth to replace it with a kiss. ?I will go make my request of Turtle, then return to you with my gift.? He smiled, stroking her face. She was so beautiful. ?I am glad that such a humble thing has pleased you.?


Koiureiza looked at him, shaking her head. ?You are full of riddles, Boichurai. I do not believe even Sheep could unravel them all.?


He bowed his head to her. ?I hope some day you will be able to explain all the answers to me, so I may know them as well.? He stepped back, returning to formality. ?May I take my leave of you and your palace now, my Lady??


She slowly nodded her head. ?You may, my Lord,? she blessed, giving him the power to use his magic inside her domain to depart.


The last thing he saw as he did so was her face, tipped slightly in thought, her ruby red lips parted slightly. How he longed to kiss them. Soon, he promised himself. Soon.


?Shiren?? A quiet voice sang through the night, calling him back from his dreams.


Koiureiza, he tried to whisper, answer her, but already the image of the Phoenix goddess was fading, replaced by Koiugen as he opened his eyes.


She smiled, tired, and lifted her hand from his shoulder where she had been shaking him awake. ?It is time for you to begin your watch.?


He looked up at the moon and frowned when he saw the position. ?It is long past the time for the beginning of my watch.? He looked at her, concerned. ?Why did you not wake me earlier??


She shrugged, unapologetic. ?You were exhausted, so I let you sleep.? She gave a small, wistful smile. ?You seemed to be having a good dream, and I didn?t want to disturb it.?


?A good dream. Yes.? The details were already blurring in his mind. All he could remember was a beautiful, flame-coloured lily, encased in ice, waiting for her kiss. So fragile ? had Turtle granted the request? Even if he couldn?t remember what it was, it seemed so important that it had been done.


Koiugen yawned deeply, breaking his thoughts again. ?I?m sorry, but I cannot remain awake much longer.?

He touched her face. This was no time for her to be awake; she always took the last watch, closest to dawn. He saw Puloyong sitting to the side of the fire, waiting for him. ?Sleep,? he commanded, helping her into his prepared bedroll.


?Yes, sleep.? Still smiling, she snuggled in, curling to match his position and steal what was left of his warmth in the blankets.


He sat beside her, close to the fire she?d made, until her gentle, rhythmic breathing told him she was fast asleep. Quietly, he shifted closer and stroked her bright red hair out of her face. So lovely. Does she know how beautiful she is?


?Why are you so interested in her, my Lord?? Puloyong?s voice was lacking its usual deferential whine. Instead it was sharp, questioning, even a touch incensed.


?What is it to you, my servant, if I show interest in Koiugen?? Shiren Lo did not look at him, though, knowing the answer.


?Well, for one thing, there is your bride, who you left waiting when you ran off in this insane quest for the ocean.? Something had set fire to Puloyong, for him to speak so abruptly and honestly. ?And for another, she is the high priestess of our mortal enemy, Koiureiza!?


?Speak not of matters you do not understand!? Boichurai looked up at his priest, feeling the Dragon?s Anger showing from behind his eyes.


But instead of bowing down to his god, Puloyong only set his mouth harder. ?And then, there is that. You used to fear using the power of Boichurai; now, she asks you to embrace it!?


?Isn?t that what I am supposed to do?? The priests had fought long and hard, trying to break what remained of his mortal mind to release the god within.


Poluyong only then looked away, uncomfortable. ?I am no longer sure, my Lord,? he replied, falling back into his more accustomed speech. ?All I know is ? you are not as you were when you are with ? her lady.?


The fire behind him dove as a log broke, suddenly darkening the light that had bathed them all, stealing the colour from Koigen?s face. She frowned in her sleep as though she sensed she was now covered in moon light, and shivered. Shiren quickly turned to stoke the fire, pretending to ignore Puloyong?s watchful gaze. It was too bright for him, but he didn?t want her to catch a chill.


Sighing in acceptance of the questions his priest had raised, he left the circle of firelight to quickly search the area of their campsite. The coolness of the night air felt good to him, after the dry desert heat he?d grown up in. He looked up at the moon, hovering over the western horizon and half hidden by the trees, and figured there would be only a few hours before daylight.


I should wake her for the sunrise,[\i] he thought, but knew he wouldn?t be able to bring himself to do it. She?d refuse to go to sleep again, however much she?d need it. Of course, he was also selfish in this idea; he wanted to see her coloured by the fire of the dawn just as he?d fallen asleep to the glory of her in the sunset.


?You?re falling in love with her,? Puloyong quietly noted, watching the sleeping girl.


?No,? Shiren admitted to the empty air in front of him. ?I already am in love with her.? He turned to look at her, sleeping in his own bedroll, her head where his had been, a shocking intimacy to a god that had women held at a distance his entire life.


I just don?t know what I?m going to do about it.

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