Xi City wasn’t always called Xi City.
It was said that in the early years, a certain leader wanted to experience field work, so he joined a group of peasants and participated in the work on Wuluo Mountain. When he looked up, he saw the distant sunset in the west. He was stunned by the short lived, beautiful fiery scenery. After a while, he rose up and wrote several poems in admiration. Later, this big shot got a promotion all the way to the capital, and the local officials wanted to curry favor with him, so they made a fresh start. When they submitted the prefecture-level city for approval, they changed its name on a whim.
But coincidentally, a few years after renaming, the nearby villagers actually dug out a gold mine at the foot of Wuluo Mountain, under the mountain top where the leader had stood. This project went awry, directly rewriting the fate of Xi City. Soon after, there was a crazy influx of mining, production, sales and various surrounding industries, resulting in Xi City’s economic level jumping leaps and bounds in just a few years. The development momentum putting it near the second-tier cities.
Unfortunately, the plentiful gold-ore resources had not only lead to a rapidly expanding economy, it’d also incurred the dissatisfaction of nature. Due to the lack of supervision over the mining projects, Xi City had repeated cave ins, and in the most serious one, Wuluo Mountain directly collapsed. Afterwards, the government finally took control and issued several “restriction orders”, even the punishments were increased. This just about curbed the situation, but the already collapsed Wuluo Mountain couldn’t be fixed.
Guanxi Park was built on the ruins of the mines. It was considered to be one of the few scenic spots in the southwest, especially the natural lake formed after the collapse of the mine. The water was clear, the vegetation was lush, and there was a spiritual atmosphere. Nature had denounced human greed in a self-destructive way, but it’d also demonstrated its powerful self-healing ability in its own way.
The park was far from the downtown, and not many people went there on weekdays. There was less rain in the winter, so droughts were everywhere. But Wuluo Mountain seemed to be favored by nature. The lake water was still clear and abundant. It even freely rose out of its low border and descended down slopes, dividing into several mountain streams. Because of that, many of the surrounding trees and plants were well fed.
The sky was quickly brightening, Bai Huo struggled to climb out from the water, coughing uncontrollably.
”Is the compass broken?” The fat bird skimmed the water surface and landed on a stone. “It obviously pointed to here, but there’s nothing below.”
Bai Huo’s hair was still dripping wet. Holding the compass with one hand, and quietly looking at the lake surface, his complexion looked somewhat abnormal and pale.
The black needle was motionless at this moment. No matter how Bai Huo shook it or turned it, it seemed to be determined to get into the lake, pointing straight at the lake.
”What are you depressed about?” Bai Huo couldn’t help but ask the compass.
It would’ve been better if he hadn’t spoken, because suddenly there was a ‘kacha’ sound, and the compass unexpectedly cracked, splitting into two halves.
Bai Huo: “……”
The fat bird turned to look at Bai Huo: “What are you depressed about?”
Bai Huo held the broken compass in his palm and coolly said: “You’re lucky you’re still a magical artifact, you’re not even as useful as a washing machine.”
”Kacha”, the compass impressively broke into four quarters.
Alas, even if it was useless, it still had a heart of glass.
Bai Huo was speechless, he raised his hand, and the compass turned into a fine powder, floating away with the wind.
”Still gonna look?”
Bai Huo closed his eyes, saying: “No, I’m tired, let’s go.”
The fat bird quickly followed him, and one man and one bird walked along a creek. But suddenly, the lake surface behind them started rumbling, and huge bubbles appeared.
The fat bird flew over to check it out first, shouting: “There’s something!”
Bai Huo turned his head and immediately saw a round object pop out of the water and float toward him. He suddenly had a bad hunch, unable to make himself step forward.
The fat bird was ignorant, excitedly flying over and circling around the round object, then he shrieked to announce his discovery: “Lao Bai, look, look it’s an egg, it’s an ostrich egg.”
Bai Huo frowned, after a few beats, he walked up to the water’s edge, his face pale.
It was indeed an egg. It wasn’t strange for the fat bird to not recognize it, but it was impossible for Bai Huo to not… This was a dragon egg.
”Fried ostrich egg! Seafood steamed egg! A snack! Lao Bai, a snack!”
“I’ll stew you into a snack, stupid chicken, this is a dragon egg.” Bai Huo walked away from the fat bird’s twittering, crouching down to pull the dragon egg into the palm of his hand.
Although it was in the cold lake water, the dragon egg was slightly warm. Bai Huo frowned and tapped it, putting it up to his ear. Incredibly, there was a response inside, and the egg rolled vigorously in his palm, as if something urgently needed to come out.
Bai Huo stared blankly for a moment, then his brain exploded.
God, this dragon egg is about to hatch!
As a species that had already been eliminated by the Three Realms, dragons were now less prolific than the giant panda. The last dragon was born more than a decade ago. At that time, Bai Huo had been solemnly invited, and had looked on from a distance.
This young white dragon was 101 years old this year, equivalent to a 20-year-old human. In his limited life experience during these hundred years, he’d still never touched a dragon egg. Currently, the man had basically been petrified from head to toe.
For a short while, the white dragon neither let go nor threw it away, this degree of bewilderment resembled a dad holding his baby outside the delivery room for the first time.
”Fat… f-fat,” Bai Huo’s cold sweat rained down, “Look at it, isn’t it shaking?”
Fat bird: “I think it’s your hand that’s shaking.”
”No, I think it wants to come out.”
Bai Huo’s hands trembled even more violently, panicking. “Quick! Help me call He Ling! Ask her… is there any way… to make this little thing go back?”
”No need to do something so troublesome.” The fat bird fanned its wings, “Our ancestors have everything documented in the ‘Dapeng Mark.”
“Say it already!”
“…… wait for me to translate it for you. “
Bai Huo was annoyed: “You really are a chicken!”
The fat bird took a deep breath and turned its head to bury its face in its tail feathers.
”Uhh… Let me see, there it is! It’s written down here.”
”‘A dragon birth is God’s will; it can’t be changed.’… Ah… here, ‘The ancient giant clam’s spirit is very powerful, so young dragons naturally fear it. Binding the egg with the pearls will trap the dragon inside.’ Okay, so quickly look to see if you have a, oh I don’t know, a giant pearl bracelet, or maybe a giant pearl necklace or something on you. If you wrap it around the egg, it won’t hatch.”
Bai Huo stared blankly.
The fat bird’s head was still buried in its feathers, but its body was trembling, each feather quivering: “So…Bai Huo…hahaha… Bahahaha…”
”Ka”, a very light and crisp sound interrupted the laughter, the air instantly solidifying. One man and one bird looked at each other in apprehension, then they stared at the egg, both anxious.
The dragon egg was broken by the occupant inside, the crack getting bigger and bigger. It felt like they were watching the zombies in a zombie film pounding at a door late at night. Bai Huo gulped, and almost simultaneously, the shell finally broke. A furry little head popped out of the broken eggshell, a pair of black watery eyes staring directly at Bai Huo.
In the distance, the sky slowly dawned, and the morning wind penetrated the forest, the leaves rustling.
As the sun rose, by the lakeside, one big and one small dragon stared at each other. Oh my, this scene was awfully lovely.
The fat bird was already petrified, almost dropping into the lake. It flapped its wings, rising with a splash of water.
While the droplets scattered everywhere, the little dragon cub’s feet suddenly poked out of the shell and it completely fell out. Bai Huo hurriedly grabbed and steadied him.
A newborn baby dragon had no scales, only covered from head to toe in thin, velvety soft hair. Since it was currently moistened with egg liquid, the dragon cub felt strangely slippery.
Don’t judge dragons by their majestic adult scales. In fact, dragons were very weak in their infancies. Their scales were fragile, senses underdeveloped, and they had no basic defense capability. Any random human child could strangle them to death.
As a dragon born in the last generation, Bai Huo was deeply emotional about this. At the beginning of the last century, a large number of newly hatched dragon cubs died during the era of turmoil, failing to survive the first three months of the cub stage. This was one of the main causes leading to the destruction of the dragon race.
A dragon’s growth period was lengthy, they had to go through three stages in their lifetime: the cub stage, the soft scale stage, and the adulthood stage.
During the cub stage, it really resembled a puppy. It couldn’t talk, couldn’t hunt prey, couldn’t fly, and followed anyone around, a good kidnapping target. Basically, it relied on adult dragons to feed and protect it, equivalent to an infant child. This state lasts about three years for humans, but for the dragon race, it only took three months.
Three months later, the dragon’s fluff would gradually fade away, replaced by considerably harder and glossier feathers. Of course, these feathers weren’t only there for good looks, they had an important role in protecting the fine scales that were rapidly growing underneath.
At this time, the scales were still soft, the hardness wasn’t very high and it could easily be damaged. So, the protection and camouflage from the feathers were particularly important. The soft scale stage was very critical, equivalent to human children growing their permanent teeth. If you don’t take extra care, the scales could grow out deformed or you could leave permanent scars on the scales.
Dragons used their scales as a measure of beauty. Each dragon valued their scales tremendously. A dragon with defective scales would find it very difficult to defeat love rivals in the future. Therefore, the moment a dragon cub gained more awareness, they paid special attention to the growth of their scales.
In addition to exterior scales, the horns, wings, and claws also grew out during this stage, gradually completing the basic form of a dragon. Long ago, when the dragons were still in their heyday, the harsher races would organize flight exercises for the young at the end of their soft scales stage. This stimulated the growth of the dragon wings, so they could enter the battlefield as soon as possible. Later on, the dragon race was in decline, and even surviving healthily wasn’t easy, so gradually these matters were paid less and less attention.
The duration of the soft scale stage wasn’t uniform among all dragons, the individual differences were very big. Some lasted a short 10 years, and some lasted several decades, it all depended on individual talent. Once the scales were fully grown and reached a certain hardness, the feathers would gradually fall off. At that time, the three major body parts – the horns, wings, and claws- were basically developed. In general, a dragon’s first independent flight usually marked its official transition into adulthood. Now begins its long adult stage, which occupied an overwhelming majority of a dragon’s life.
A dragon’s lifespan was very long. The longest-lived earth dragon at the foot of Changbai Mountain has lived for more than a thousand years. However, most adult dragons don’t have such good luck. They usually died after living less than five hundred years, either from battle, sickness, or punishment. Very few truly elderly dragons exist.
Because of their scarcity, modern dragons no longer engaged in civil war. Their greatest threats came from two sides, one was humanity, and the other was – loneliness.
Bai Huo rubbed the little dragon cub’s furry head, thinking to himself- being born in such an era, who knew if it was lucky or unfortunate.
The little dragon felt that the human being in front of him was very novel, he stared with round eyes, very curious. Although he couldn’t tell that this was an adult dragon in human shape yet, the familiar atmosphere made him feel very comfortable, he even spit out his tongue to lick Bai Huo’s palm.
“This is a dragon cub? Is it male or female?” The fat bird excitedly jumped around the young dragon, stretching out his claw, as if he was about to poke to explore.
Bai Huo grabbed the bird’s claw and cautioned: “When was the last time you trimmed your fat claws? You’ll scratch him.”
”Hmph, favoritism already!” The fat bird furiously stomped on top of Bai Huo’s head. Condescendingly looking down at the baby dragon.
The little dragon cub had two round protrusions on the top of his head. One on the left and right, forming a “丫” shape, somewhat similar to antlers. This was the fledging stage of a dragon’s horns. A male dragon’s horns were thick and stout, a female’s horns were graceful and slender. Bai Huo studied the shape and said: “It’s a male dragon.”
The little baby dragon obediently let him touch, not resisting. He tilted his head upward; his eyes hadn’t left Bai Huo’s face.
”What? You dragons look at the horns? Shouldn’t you look down below?”
Bai Huo spread his hand: “I won’t.”
The little dragon had been out of his shell for a long time, without an outer shell to defend against the cold, his body temperature quickly dropped. A cold wind blew and he sneezed softly, then, seemingly seeking protection, he dived straight into Bai Huo’s clothes.
”We can’t stay here for too long; others should be coming up soon.” Bai Huo got up and removed his coat, wrapping the little dragon cub in it. Then he walked a little further into the woods, and started digging a hole with a branch.
His body hadn’t completely dried yet, so he was also cold and trembling. The half-dry shirt was stuck to his back, and his lips were frozen.
The fat bird watched him dig: “You’re gonna bury the little guy?”
”I was going to bury you, actually.” Bai Huo said while digging. “I’ll give him to the association; they should raise him.”
A few meters away, the little dragon had somehow managed to roll himself out of the coat and was waddling over.
Bai Huo turned around and almost stepped on him. He crotched down, chuckling: “What are you doing here? I’m helping you bury your eggshells, when you grow up, you can come take a look.”
”He doesn’t understand.” The fat bird said.
”He understands.” Bai Huo refuted, picking up the baby dragon with one hand, he stepped out of the woods, putting him back into the coat. “You can’t use your bird IQ to judge us high-level divine races.”
”Bird? Who’s a bird? How many times do I have to tell you? I’m a Dapeng, Dapeng!”
The little baby dragon turned a deaf ear to their energetic quarrel, unsteadily crawling out of the jacket and relentlessly following Bai Huo’s footsteps.
Bai Huo walked to the water’s edge to pick up the eggshells, and he followed.
Bai Huo walked into the woods to bury the eggshells, and he still followed.
”See, he really can’t understand.” The fat bird said.
Bai Huo frowned and crouched down, staring at the little dragon, then staring at the eggshells in the hole, suddenly, a dazed look took over his face.
Bai Huo tilted his head to the left, and the little dragon cub also tilted to the left, Bai Huo tilted to the right, and the little dragon also tilted his head to the right.
This cliché imprinting plot… if he couldn’t understand what was going on, Bai Huo would’ve lived these one hundred years in vain.
The fat bird squealed, then shouted sarcastically: “Lao Bai! Lao Bai! You’ll love being a dad!”
Standing next to the hole, the branch in Bai Huo’s hand snapped in two.
- This chicken really can’t stay.
Xi City: Evening/Sunset City
Depressed: 想不开 -cannot figure out/fret over trifles/be depressed/take things too hard/be unable to take a lighter view. Idk which meaning the author wanted to convey, but depressed made more sense when the fat bird repeated the question later on.
Young white: Could be naïve. But BH is young and a white dragon so idk
I won’t: Could also be ‘I can’t’. Everything has multiple meanings; I just try to pick the ones that make the most sense.