Bai Huo was a guest, Jing Lan wouldn’t punish guests, but the consequence of corrupting the chefs was that there was no dinner.
One day without dinner wasn’t a problem for him, but the little dragon cub was still sick. Bai Huo couldn’t bear to let his son go hungry, so after asking around, he visited Jing Lan’s Lan Ting Pond.
The Lan Ting Pond was a large pool that connected the Water Dragon Palace to the outside world. It was also one of the outlets for the fishermen to catch food. Because it was connected to the outside world, unknown fish sometimes came in.
Bai Huo didn’t deep dive often, but he wouldn’t let his injured son enter the water, so, he turned into his dragon form, and attached some leftover crab meat paste to his tail as bait. Then he soaked his dragon body in the pond, lazily waiting for the fish to walk into the trap.
Who knew if his method was flawed or he was just unlucky, but after waiting for a long time, he only caught one big grideye fish.
The little dragon cub waited obediently, feeling hungry, he groped his empty belly, playing with the feathers on it.
“Eat first.” Bai Huo saw that the cub was practically defeathering his belly, and climbed out of the pond, transforming into his human shape. He crouched down to descale the dragon cub’s fish.
The little dragon cub used his wide sleeve to wipe the water off Bai Huo’s forehead: “Cold.”
Bai Huo laughed, his sharp chin softening: “It’s all right, I’m not cold.”
The grideye fish didn’t have much meat, it wasn’t enough to fill the little cub’s belly. Bai Huo was worried, wondering if he should sneak into Jing Lan’s pharmacy to steal something to eat, when the little dragon cub suddenly looked up, noticing something outside the bubble film, exclaiming, “Snowing.”
The Lan Ting Pond was actually located in an octagon shaped palace, it was supported by eight huge fish spines at its eight points. It was also decorated with gorgeous jewels, and in the middle of the palace was the bottomless circular pool. The walls were a transparent bubble-like film. Bai Huo hadn’t figured out the principle behind this film yet, he only knew that in addition to keeping out the seawater, it also played the role of gas exchange, balancing the pressure, and keeping the temperature constant.
Standing in front of this transparent bubble film, the moving schools of fish, crawling crustaceans, and swaying aquatic plants were all clearly visible, it gave the feeling of being in a human aquarium.
“How can it snow in the sea?” Bai Huo was baffled, but following the little dragon cub’s gaze, he found that he was right. In the sea water outside the membrane, white snowflake-like clusters were fluttering down from above. From a distance, it made for a somewhat hazy, beautiful view.
“Maybe it’s fish shit.” Bai Huo sat down cross-legged.
The little dragon cub choked, looking down at the fish in his hand, he suddenly lost his appetite.
“That’s marine snow.” Someone said at the door, a smile in their voice.
The father and son glanced back, Jing Lan was slowly walking in, wearing a gray flax robe and holding a silver platter in his hand. He was probably about to head to bed, his hair was loose, casually scattered across his shoulders.
The little dragon cub had a sharp nose, immediately smelling the aroma of food.
“Here.” Jing Lan leaned over and handed the platter to the little dragon cub, smiling.
The platter had fish roe, sea cucumber, and fish steaks for two, no grass.
The little dragon cub gulped audibly, but his first reaction was to shake his tail and look at Bai Huo.
Bai Huo didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, leading him: “Quickly thank your Shishu.”
“Thank you, Jing Shishu.” The little dragon cub thanked him in a crisp voice, then hugged the platter and sat down, chomping on the fish. Judging by his ravenous appearance, you’d think that Bai Huo had been starving him since he hatched.
Jing Lan petted the little dragon cub’s horns; his expression gentle: “Were you hungry?”
The little dragon cub shook his head, while chomping the fish meat, he pointed to the grideye fish bones on the ground, meaning, my Dad caught me a fish.
Bai Huo looked at the big fish bones, his conscience assaulted by a rare trace of guilt.
“What did you say this was?” Bai Huo asked, looking at the flurries outside the membrane.
Jing Lan strolled to the edge of the film: “Marine snow.”
“That’s a beautiful name.”
“Yes, unfortunately, its significance isn’t so beautiful.” Currently, it was late at night in the Water Dragon Palace. The halls were very quiet, there was only the sounds of water flowing and bubbles popping. Jing Lan stood in the palace, looking out at the unending marine snow falling outside the membrane, a long while later, he sighed almost imperceptibly, “Little Bai, the Water Dragon Palace … might not last much longer.”
Bai Huo was astonished: “Why do you say that?”
Jing Lan glanced back at him with a profound look, but didn’t reply, he just tilted his head and smiled very faintly.
At this moment, even the usually careless Bai Huo felt a hint of the heaviness hidden behind this smile, a weighty responsibility and pressure that he couldn’t imagine, but was shouldered by Jing Lan for many years. Bai Huo suddenly realized, currently, the patriarch of an entire tribe was standing in front of him, not just his close friend.
“I’ve been thinking about a collective migration recently, but, Beichuan is already in the polar region, where else can we go?” Jing Lan reached out, his slender, fair fingers lightly touching the water film, at the places they met, a dim glow followed.
“You can hide among humans,” Bai Huo suggested. “Humans are very interesting.”
Jing Lan shook his head faintly: “Little Bai, they’re not like you. The water dragons have been isolated from the world for many years, most of them won’t be able to adapt to human life.”
Bai Huo thought about the people here who didn’t even know how to roll dice, and fell into silence.
“I’m full!” The little dragon cub, sitting behind the two, held up the plate.
Bai Huo turned, the little dragon cub hadn’t cleaned the plate, leaving some of the fattiest fish steaks and sea cucumbers.
“This is full?” Bai Huo knew that this child’s appetite wasn’t any smaller than an adult dragon’s. He crouched down and rubbed his son’s belly, laughing. “I’m not hungry, you should eat the rest. Your Jing Shishu is here, if I feel hungry, I just have to ask him. “
The little dragon cub looked at Bai Huo doubtfully, then glanced at Jing Lan, fearing that his father would go hungry after he eats all the food.
Jing Lan was amused by this look, covering his mouth to restrain a laugh. With such a distinct noble temperament, he’d look even more otherworldly if he laughed, it’s a pity, Bai Huo thought, that Jing Lan was so reserved. If he made a debut with this face, he would capture the hearts of many women.
“The kitchen is still here.” Jing Lan said straightforwardly.
The little dragon cub was relieved, he fed his father a piece of fish meat, then obediently carried the plate to the side to eat.
“This child is so well-behaved,” Jing Lan sighed, “How did you teach him?”
Bai Huo waved his hand, saying boldly, “I didn’t teach him, he was born with it, just like his Dad.”
Jing Lan tactfully chose to remain silent.
The little dragon cub slept in Jing Lan’s chambers at night, and in order to take care of him, Bai Huo slept on the floor beside the crystal bed.
Jing Lan had asked him to pay attention to the little dragon cub, Bai Huo took it to heart, waking up several times a night to feed the cub water and tuck his quilt. Due to his damaged divine bone, the little dragon cub didn’t sleep well, his small paws clenched tightly into fists. Bai Huo was afraid that he would injure himself with his own laws, so he carefully pried open his hands. As a result, not only did he not pry them open, the blood pearl bracelet on his wrist was tugged away.
Unexpectedly, after grabbing the bracelet, the little dragon cub’s breath calmed down significantly.
Bai Huo was surprised by this discovery, but he vaguely knew that magic tools shouldn’t casually be worn by children. He took it off, and ran to Jing Lan the next morning.
“Blood pearls have an extreme calming effect on the divine bone, if a child wears it, it might delay their growth for a period of time.” Jing Lan said without raising his head, reviewing some documents.
Bai Huo had overactive hands, he was currently picking through the medicine ingredients on Jing Lan’s desk and sniffing them. Hearing these words, he stared blankly: “So, he shouldn’t wear it?”
“Yes and no,” Jing Lan explained, his pen moving incessantly, “Delaying growth isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For a child with a damaged divine bone, wearing it can lighten the pressure from the growing bone, which is overall beneficial. “
“You mean that he can wear it, but if he was going to become an adult at fifteen years old, maybe he’ll now become an adult at eighteen?” Bai Huo flicked the blood pearls around his index finger, recalling the time when the cub was still an egg. The fat bird had said that if he wanted to stop him from hatching, he could use the pearls from the giant clam to suppress it. It can be assumed that the principle was the same, it delayed growth.
Jing Lan finished writing the document and put down his pen, glancing at him in praise. He scanned the string of blood pearls, asking in surprise, “These blood pearls aren’t ordinary, where did you get it? “
If Jing Lan said that something wasn’t ordinary, it must be very extraordinary, Bai Huo forthrightly said, “Shige gave it to me.”
Jing Lan was puzzled.
“Zhou Chong Wen,” Bai Huo added, “He’s also the current patriarch.”
Jing Lan thought for a moment, getting some impression: “Oh … him? The one who always protected you as a kid?”
“No,” Bai Huo refused to admit. “He was really clumsy as a kid, it’s me who always covered him.”
Jing Lan smiled silently.
When Bai Huo was eleven, the three dragon tribes set up a joint study class. Each race had to select a few qualified youngsters to attend the school. Although Bai Huo was disliked by the clan, he was loved by the old patriarch, who chose to send him against all opposition. At that time, Jing Lan had just become an adult, and came to teach as a patriarch candidate. Even back then, he could already cause a big commotion, even some ignorant and incompetent dragons ran over specifically to see the legendary noble beauty.
Oh, Bai Huo was one of those ignorant and incompetent dragons, as well as Zhou Chong Wen, who had mediocre aptitude at the time. Of course, the main culprit was Bai Huo, Zhou Chong Wen was simply dragged in.
A genuine celestial being—This was Bai Huo’s first thought upon seeing Jing Lan, even the sarcastic comment he’d originally prepared, “Ehh, so-so”, was stuck in his throat. Instead, he felt that the rumors those people spread were too insufficient, they were not worthy of the otherworldly beauty in front of him.
He and Zhou Chong Wen both stared in awe, accidentally slipping off the wall they were crouched on, twisting their ankles.
Bai Huo originally thought that this water dragon beauty would take him for a peeping tom and demand that he be expelled from the school, but the reality was far from that. The beauty not only wasn’t angry, he even worriedly asked if he’d sprained his foot, furthermore, he used the spiritual power unique to the water dragons to help heal their injuries.
Since he was a child, Bai Huo had gotten used to being treated with loathing, so he couldn’t handle being treated with kindness. If someone belittled and vilified him, he could laugh and return their hateful words. But if someone cared about him and treated him with sincerity, his first reaction wasn’t gratefulness, but panic.
In this way, the two lowest-ranking students that regularly gave their elders headaches were completely subdued by Jing Lan, going to and from class obediently, and not causing mischief. Bai Huo once speculated, that if it wasn’t for what happened later, he might’ve embarked on the same road as Zhou Chong Wen, staying dutifully with the dragons, and finding a part-time official job in the association when he became an adult, taking care of some unimportant matters.
“Little Bai?” Jing Lan asked, puzzled.
Bai Huo snapped back to reality: “What’s up?”
“Oh, it’s nothing,” Jing Lan smiled faintly. “I was a little surprised to hear you talk about Patriarch Zhou. Has old Patriarch Zhuo abdicated? I haven’t seen the elder for some years.”
Old Patriarch Zhuo was highly respected, and was one of Jing Lan’s teachers in his adolescence.
Bai Huo’s expression turned gloomy: “No, he’s sick.”
“Sick?” Jing Lan was slightly surprised, “What illness? I can …”
“It’s scale rot.”
Jing Lan paused.
Scale rot was a terminal illness, even the best medical expert Jing Lan was helpless.
“When… when did it happen?” Jing Lan asked.
“More than half a year ago, Lin Xi had just been born a few days before.” Bai Huo heaved a sigh, but he found it a little strange. A new patriarch being appointed was such a big event, it stands to reason that a notice of the appointment should’ve been sent to Jing Lan.
“Didn’t you receive a notice about the new patriarch?” Bai Huo asked.
Jing Lan shook his head: “Maybe I’m too far away.”
Bai Huo looked at his sad deep blue eyes, and suddenly recalled something. Since he reconnected with Zhou Chong Wen, he always felt that the other man was different from his memory. Something about his movements was very inconsistent. Now, looking at Jing Lan, Bai Huo finally understood. Zhou Chong Wen’s every move resembled Jing Lan.
Was it a coincidence?
Jing Lan finished reviewing the documents and went to the anteroom to discuss business with someone. Before leaving, he asked Bai Huo to think over giving the little dragon cub the blood pearls. Bai Huo’s first instinct was to reject it, after all, with the current aptitude displayed by the little dragon cub, he was very likely to break He Ling’s adulthood record. But, thinking about how the little dragon cub was injured after losing control of his divine bone, he hesitated again.
Riskily become a genius, or healthily become a mediocre dragon, the young loving father faced a life altering choice for the first time.
Idk why Jing Lan thinks marine snow is a bad thing. It’s a good thing, in fact, we want more of it to combat climate change. Maybe he’s thinking about toxic marine snow, which is in fact a bad thing.