Imperial China is in Crisis
“Standing twice the height of a man and with a body five times longer, Kioh was a formidable fighting, Lóng Dragon. Her snake-like body was as supple as the day of her last reincarnation a thousand years ago. Standing motionless at the top of the valley slopes, the yellow scales on her back caught the late autumn sun, surrounding her in a halo of golden light. A movement on the open plains below attracted her attention, and in a reflex action, her red reptilian tongue flickered out over her extended white fangs. She tasted the cold Autumn air. It was tainted, and as she drew more of it into the roof of her cavernous mouth, it changed into something else. It became a scent that she recognised well. Death!“
The Chinese dragon, also known as the loon, long or lung, is legendary in Chinese mythology. It has generally been associated with the Emperors of China and is a symbol representing Imperial Power. As founder of the Han Dynasty, Liu Bang, was supposed to have been conceived after his mother dreamt about a dragon. Unlike its western counterparts, the Chinese dragon is more associated with the better things in life. However, there are always exceptions.
The Lung / Long Dragon
Attributes linking the red dragon in this story are based on historical accounts of the “Lung” dragon. There is even a recorded account of a ‘Kioh-lung’. References to its life cycle, reincarnation and the pearl are well documented, including its ability to change its shape. Flying and breathing fire are open to debate, as is the dragon changing colours during re-birth. Unlike its three-toed Japanese counterpart, the five-toed Chinese dragon is usually depicted with a pearl, representing its link to water and the water spirits. The pearl is also alleged to empower the dragon with wisdom, which is expanded in the story.
The continuing story of Neffi Jones takes her to modern-day China and ultimately to the site of the Terracotta Warriors in the area known as Xi’an. As with her adventures in Egypt, this place links significantly to the past. It even has a pyramid. Unlike ancient Egypt, which is more commonly understood in the western world, ancient China and its various dynasties need better historical positioning. The location of Xi’an was chosen with care as it is a gateway to these early dynasties. Originally called Chang ’an, it was the first capital of Imperial China. There is an extensive dialogue in the story to explain its background and its significance. The inclusion of the dragons also gave a valuable link to span the many thousands of years involved.
Why the Han Dynasty?
While each of the early Chinese dynasties had its own historical significance, the Han dynasty was selected for the ancient part of this story for several important reasons. The dynasty consolidated and expanded Imperial China, established in the preceding Qin Dynasty by the first Emperor, Qin Shi Huang. It was the longest of the Imperial Dynasties. It established a bureaucratic promotion system based on merit and re-established Confucianism as a way of governance. It also was a period of incredible commercial growth that saw the creation of silk and the invention of paper. International relations also expanded with the opening of international trade, reaching as far as Central Asia and Europe along the Silk Road.
As with The Blue Crown, the characters in the modern-day part of The Long Dragon are purely fictitious. Any similarities to real people are purely coincidental! On the other hand, except for Kioh and Teng, the two dragon lords, all the other characters in the Han dynasty are real people of the time.