Xi City’s winters were long, but after Tomb Sweeping Day, the temperature was gradually getting warmer.
Bai Huo’s cleaning service schedule went from once a week, to three times a week, and finally to once a day … Bai Huo walked out of the bathroom, sneezed loudly, and grabbed the little dragon cub from off the newly purchased blanket. Sure enough, he found his electric shaver concealed underneath.
“Lin Xi …” The corner of Bai Huo’s mouth twitched.
The little dragon cub blushed, and apologized in a tender voice, “I’m sorry …”
Bai Huo shook him lightly, and fine fur rained down like dandelion fluff.
As soon as spring arrived, the little dragon cub had begun shedding. His whole body was like a poor-quality mop, wherever he went, up and down the house, from the bathroom to the living room, from the kitchen to the porch, everywhere carried a mark left by this guy. Bai Huo couldn’t understand, how could such a small child have so much fur to drop?
Fur loss usually meant the end of the three-month cub stage and official entry into the soft scale stage. The dragon cub would soon have his fuzzy fur replaced with beautiful shiny feathers. At the same time, small and fragile scales would gradually grow under the protection of the feathers.
Thinking of this, Bai Huo was very much looking forward to the child’s new coat.
“Didn’t I say to just leave it alone,” Bai Huo picked off the fluff that was stuck to the little dragon cub’s mouth, and patiently taught, “Let it fall off by itself. Why did you shave it? If you shave your tender skin, what will you do when your scales don’t grow out correctly?”
The little dragon cub drooped his head down: “Your, nose, red.”
Bai Huo rubbed his nose, unable to help feeling stunned.
The little dragon cub’s language organization system wasn’t particularly precise. Sometimes when speaking, the words would jump out one by one. Bai Huo interacted with him day and night, it turns out that the child had noticed his red nose and constant sneezing, so he thought to steal the razor and shave his fluff off all at once. This was so Bai Huo wouldn’t be made uncomfortable by his gradual shedding.
“Little cub,” Bai Huo was amused, “You’re so considerate.”
While saying this, Bai Huo picked up the new razor that he’d bought last month and his smile stiffened.
The brand-new three rotating blades were all entangled with smoky gray fluff. Bai Huo gently pulled, and the brutalized razor stopped whirling. With Bai Huo’s electronic incompetence, this shaver was definitely unrepairable. He could send it in for warranty, but he couldn’t explain the ins and outs of this fur. They might run into someone who overthinks, putting the little dragon cub in danger of exposure.
In summary, this thing was scrapped.
The culprit didn’t even realize it, after hearing Bai Huo praise him, he shyly buried his face in the blanket. In the sun, his red ears flicked sharply, then he cautiously glanced up at Bai Huo and rolled over onto his back, revealing his soft belly.
His little face was simply saying, won’t Dad rub my belly.
After such a long time, Bai Huo was starting to recognize some of the child’s small habits, such as, whenever he wanted something but was too embarrassed to ask, his ears and tail would twitch, his thoughts very easy to guess.
“Okay …” Bai Huo instantly forgot about the expensive razor and smiled indulgently, then bent over to rub his belly.
The little dragon cub felt very comfortable, he narrowed his eyes, and his tail swayed from side to side, humming in satisfaction.
This scene of the father and son’s happy family life didn’t attract the fat bird’s ire. The arrogant bird had been a bit busy recently.
The weather was getting warmer. Who knew where it came from, but for these past two days, a Hwamei bird has been perching on the balcony. The fat bird saw the Hwamei girl’s large wings and her aloof eyes, she didn’t even eat the garlic prawns that Bai Huo had bought for him, and flew off into the forest to catch a fatty caterpillar, planning to present it to the little Hwamei.
It’s a pity that she wasn’t easily impressed. She only flew over every day like clock-work, and after eating the bug, she flew away without a backward glance.
Bai Huo mocked the fat bird for being friend zoned, but the arrogant bird firmly believed that as long as he diligently delivered the bugs, he could save this collapsing romance. Bai Huo was happy to see his shameful look, and was too lazy to bother with him.
In the afternoon, while the sun was just right, Bai Huo put on his glasses and went for a stroll, letting the little cub get some fresh air.
His glasses were equipped with photosensitive lenses. Under the sun, the originally transparent lenses changed color, and they now looked more like a pair of sunglasses, very trendy.
The icy lake had long since melted, shimmering in the spring breeze.
“Splash”, soon after approaching the lake, the little dragon cub plunged into the water, disappearing instantly like a nimble fish.
With a straw in his mouth, Bai Huo sat on a tree stump and read a kindergarten admission brochure, the fat bird contentedly combing his feathers on top of his head.
As his body gradually developed, the little dragon cub’s racial superiority became increasingly prominent. He didn’t need to be taught at all; he’d learned to swim by himself. When Bai Huo saw him jump into the lake for the first time, he was so frightened that he’d immediately jumped in after him. But he wasn’t a purebred water dragon after all, he had limited swimming abilities. Before he could locate the cub, he’d accidentally swallowed water and almost drowned. He sensed that someone was dragging him by his shoulder, and when Bai Huo turned to look, he saw the little dragon cub holding a big fish in his mouth, hurriedly pulling him towards the surface.
After coming ashore, the little dragon cub spit out the fish and anxiously rubbed Bai Huo’s wet face with his horns. Bai Huo rubbed his head to indicate that he was okay, realizing that the little cub had just jumped in to catch fish.
The calm surface of the lake was broken, and the little dragon cub swam ashore, tossing three lively catfish to the ground, then he darted towards Bai Huo while shaking the water droplets off his body.
“Oh,” Bai Huo was surrounded by fur, he patted the cub’s back with a smile, praising, “Awesome, you brought Dad’s dinner too.”
The little dragon cub didn’t have much expression on his face, but the tip of his ears unconsciously twitched. He climbed into Bai Huo’s arms and curiously looked towards the brochure.
Bai Huo straightforwardly hugged him. Although the little dragon cub could already speak, Bai Huo noticed that the child seemed to be taciturn by nature. If it wasn’t necessary, he preferred to use body language to express his needs.
“Human kindergartens are full of children the same size as you. There’s toys, playgrounds, and teachers. Would you like to go?” Bai Huo probed.
The little dragon cub was puzzled, he looked up at Bai Huo and asked in a soft voice, “Why?”
As soon as the fat bird heard the words ‘kindergarten’, he excitedly flew up and bounced around on the branches, as if he could already see a future of less competition for food at home.
Why? Of course, it was to cultivate the child’s collective consciousness, to ease future integration into human civilization without incident. But it was a little too early to explain this to the little dragon cub, with the brainpower of a three-year-old child, this would be mostly incomprehensible.
Just as he was brainstorming a suitable reason to make the little dragon cub accept kindergarten, the little dragon cub read the page about food and drink in the brochure, then pointed something out with his unique tender tone, saying gravely: “No fish.”
Bai Huo glanced at it, there really was no fish. Fish bones could easily get stuck in the throat. Most kindergartens didn’t serve fish to children for safety reasons. This was a devastating blow to the fish-loving little dragon cub.
He flipped the pamphlet over, and the little dragon’s eyes lit up again.
This page was about the kindergarten’s location. It said that there was a small lake behind it, and described how beautiful the scenery was. Looking at the little dragon’s glittering eyes, Bai Huo immediately knew what he was thinking, not knowing whether to laugh or cry, he closed the brochure: “Listen, you can’t jump into the lake and catch fish when Dad isn’t around.”
The little dragon cub tilted his head at him: “Why?”
Children like to ask why; Bai Huo felt that his ‘bullshitting’ skills had grown in a linear fashion. The little dragon cub already had the ability to discern a human’s breath around him. He wasn’t worried that the child would be discovered by humans when he went to catch fish. He was worried about the ubiquitous surveillance cameras. When adult dragons go to unfamiliar places, they needed to carefully screen the area before they transformed into dragons. Such a small cub, it’d be too easy for him to slip up. Without an adult present to help cover him, Bai Huo would truly feel uneasy.
After thinking about it, Bai Huo pretended to be disappointed: “Because Dad can’t eat it ah. Dad will be sad if he can’t eat it.”
The little dragon cub blinked, then nodded. Right, he couldn’t eat without sharing with his Dad.
An off-road vehicle was driving up a distant road. The little dragon cub sensitively looked over and instantly transformed into his human shape. Upon seeing this, the fat bird on the branch also quietly closed his eyes, pretending to doze.
After the cub stage, spiritual power would surge in the soft-scale stage, the little dragon cub could now put away his tail and horns after taking human form. At first glance, he was no different from an ordinary three-year-old child.
“Bai Huo.” Ji Bei got out of the car and closed the door, heading towards him.
“Officer Ji, long time no see.” Bai Huo squinted at him and said hello, incidentally glancing at the car behind him.
“Don’t look, Captain Luo left for a mission.” Ji Bei looked relieved. He looked up at the little dragon cub, and exclaimed in surprise, “He’s gotten so big.”
“Say hi to Uncle Ji.” Bai Huo patted the little dragon’s head.
“Uncle Ji.” The little dragon cub said, barely audible, then he buried his head in Bai Huo’s arms.
“Ah,” Ji Bei said aloud, patting down his body, then he pulled out a half bar of dark chocolate from his pocket. Luo Wen Xu had given it to him before leaving last night. He handed it over, a little embarrassed: “Uh, have some chocolate. Forgive my rudeness, I forgot to bring you a gift. “
When the fat bird heard the words ‘chocolate’, he suddenly opened his eyes, his eyes focused.
The little dragon cub looked up curiously, seeing Bai Huo not objecting, he reached out to take it. He didn’t touch the chocolate, rather, he was attracted to the glittering tin foil packaging, and started fiddling with it.
“Do you dragons grow this quickly?” Ji Bei was impressed.
“Only for the first three months, it’s about twelve times a human’s growth rate,” Bai Huo smiled and waved his hand. “It’s the same rate afterward. Sometimes, if the growth into adulthood isn’t going well, it’ll take even longer than you humans.”
Since Ji Bei got to know Bai Huo, his cognition was refreshed almost every day. Trying to digest the concept of “twelve times”, he looked at the little dragon cub’s cheeks and nodded, “He seems to be a bit thinner.”
“He hasn’t lost weight, he’s just shedding his fur,” speaking of this, Bai Huo was distressed. “Cub, let uncle take a look.”
At first, the little dragon cub felt a little embarrassed. Seeing Bai Huo’s seemingly encouraging look, he gradually changed into his dragon form and shook his fur, trying to make himself look more fluffy.
“He’s almost bald.” Ji Bei was unapologetically blunt.
The little dragon’s face immediately turned black. He changed back, burying his face in Bai Huo’s chest.
Bai Huo burst into laughter, hugging his son, he put him on the ground, gesturing for him to go play on his own. Watching him running away with a pout, his smile was full of expectation: “But soon, his new feathers will come out. He’s my son, he’ll certainly be impressive.”
The ‘impressive’ bald little dragon cub slapped around the three unlucky catfish; the chocolate bar long forgotten. The fat bird had waited for this moment, he swooped down and nimbly captured the chocolate from overhead.
Ji Bei jumped in surprise. He stared at the fat bird, and the latter glared at him, suddenly saying: “What’re you looking at? It’s mine now!”
Ji Bei was stunned: “Is this also a dragon?”
“No,” Bai Huo said decisively. “He’s a chicken!”
Since there were more people to feed, the little dragon cub jumped into the water again and caught a few more big fish. Bai Huo picked up the firewood and started a fire next to the water. He took out the spices and vegetables they’d brought, and started roasting the fish.
Ji Bei sat next to the fire, watching the little dragon cub fiercely pressing the catfish to the ground and biting them with his sharp canines, he couldn’t help but shiver. He looked away, only to see Bai Huo sporting a joyful fatherly smile, completely approving. Ji Bei had no choice but to swallow back the question, “Is it okay for such a small child to be so violent?”
The fish was cleaned and marinated with ginger flakes and sauce, brushed with oil, and placed on the grill. After a few moments, the fragrance spread out. Bai Huo haphazardly brushed the sauce, wasting more than half. Ji Bei couldn’t look at it anymore, and forcibly took over: “I’ll do it.”
The little dragon cub and the fat bird waited side by side, staring at the grilled fish on the rack and drooling.
Ji Bei skillfully flipped the fish and brushed the sauce, chuckling, “The children seem to be very hungry.”
Bai Huo was too lazy to explain that the fat bird was already an 80-year-old elder, making vague sounds of agreement.
“Are all you dragons so fierce when you’re young?” Ji Bei grilled the fish, looking at the tooth marks in the fish, he couldn’t help but ask.
“Fierce?” Bai Huo stretched his neck, twisting his head. “On the contrary, baby dragons are super weak, even weaker than humans.”
In fact, Bai Huo also had some doubts, explaining: “Dragons are divided into three major types: water dragons, earth dragons, and fire dragons. Like the different human races, they all have their own strengths and weaknesses.”
Ji Bei: “Ohhh…So what type is this child?”
“He should be a water dragon.”
Ji Bei noticed that Bai Huo used the word “should” and couldn’t help but ask: “Is the race not obvious when they’re babies?”
Bai Huo propped his chin on his hand, not sure how to answer this question.
In fact, the differences between dragon cubs, whether it was body type, coat color, or temperament, it was very obvious from birth. Generally, there was no such thing as being unable to classify.
Water dragons loved water and feared fire, they usually had anti-social and cold personalities, and their scales were mostly blue, green and other cold colors. Because dragon medicines mostly grew under water, their innate advantages made water dragons more likely to go into medical related professions; they were the indispensable medical unit.
Earth dragons loved mountains and rivers, they had large bodies and thick tails, but slow speed, low flexibility, and were only barely tolerant of water and fire. Most of them had meek personalities, and their scales were commonly subdued colors such as black and gray. Because they’re very mild, they’ve had few internal conflicts, and have the strongest reproductive ability among the three major races. Relatively speaking, the earth dragons had the most members.
The remaining fire dragons, as the name implies, were born with tongues that could spit fire. Although their scales were of average hardness, they could withstand high temperatures, even surviving inside a volcano. They had crafty personalities and were good at disguise. They belonged to the typical hard-to-get-along-with elite troops. They had short tails and long necks, were averse to water, and their scales came in mostly warm colors such as red and orange.
Of course, this was a summary of the three major types of dragons in the primitive period. After entering human society, most dragon characteristics have been well suppressed after acquiring education and civilization. At least on the surface, everyone was an upstanding dragon citizen.
Dragons generally only mate intra-racially. Even after entering human society, marriage between different ethnic groups was very rare. One root cause was related to the education the dragon clan members received at an early age, the other was that interracial mating had a high rate of deformity in the offspring, making most people hesitate.
When the little dragon was born, Bai Huo initially judged that he was a baby water dragon, but as the child grew older, Bai Huo’s doubts grew stronger. Indeed, compared to the usual baby water dragons, this child was too aggressive. He confronted the mighty Rock Wyrms just three days after he was born, yet he never showed fear. And three months after being born, he could already dive into water to hunt fish. Even a baby fire dragon would not be able to achieve such things.
The little dragon cub waited for a long time, but the fish were still not cooked. He grumbled and ran into Bai Huo’s arms, saying in a tender voice: “Hungry.”
“No, you can’t eat raw fish.” Bai Huo immediately knew what he was thinking.
The little dragon cub sniffed, but before he could speak again, Bai Huo cut off his escape route with a smirk: “Half-cooked also counts as raw.”
Bai Huo, a loving father with principles that he wouldn’t tolerate being questioned.
This volume was easier to translate in some ways, and harder in others. I’ve definitely felt the limits of MTL and dictionaries. The dictionary can’t teach you how to play mahjong lol. Thank God the internet exists. A lot of this was translated and edited on no sleep, so forgive any mistakes. Enjoy!