Fiction: The Butterfly Dragon I: Heroes Of Our Own - Prologue: Two Little Butterflies by Brian Joseph Johns
Warning: This story deals with some mature situations. Reader discretion is advised.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Prologue: Two Little Butterflies
The flight of a butterfly is rarely direct and one must wonder at times if they really have a destination at all. Perhaps they are just following the wind. Destiny is the idea that some things are meant to be and guaranteed to happen. When two hearts exist in the right place and the right time even destiny can be superseded by those who want something to be more so than it is guaranteed not to be. Such as the path of two little butterflies who arrive at the same flower. One from the East and one from the West.
Most who saw her would say they found their hearts warmed and that was before she'd even spoke. She had silky hair, a tiny little nose and sparkling eyes so full of wonder for the world. She was delicately inquisitive yet had a great reverence for everything around her. She'd not speak often but when she did, most would do best to be ready for an onslaught of questions from a young mind trying to understand the inner workings of the world. She was fearless in asking, just as she was in seeking and that sometimes worried her Mother for Ai was only four years old. Though the world was a beautiful place it was not always like Ai's namesake. It could be cold and dangerous to match the ponderous little heart of a young and curious little girl.
Ai's Mother Zhi, a beautiful lady who worked as a seamstress in a garment factory had given birth to Ai four years earlier in Guangzhou, China. Zhi's Mother Su, Ai's Grand Mother had given birth to Zhi forty-six years earlier in the same city hospital where Ai was born. Her Mother, in turn, had given birth to Su in a hut in a rice farming community before the turn of the century. Before her and for nine generations prior, their family had worked the rice patties farming rice for the Imperial Chinese Empire. The six generations before those generations had produced a variety of beautiful daughters and sons who'd intermingled with a wealthy Vietnamese family in Southern China. One of their sons had married into an illustrious marriage with a powerful figure of Thai origins and had a sprawling little family of their own. These lines led all the way back to the time of the Ming Dynasty and yet still much further back. During the Ming Dynasty, the reigning Emperor had fathered a child, with a beautiful and talented dancer and poet who'd heralded from Korea. Shijeoni was her name and she too had come from a line that had emerged from Korea. She herself had been given as a gift to the Chinese Emperor for his marriage during a deal to procure an open trade treaty and a lasting peace with the Ming Dynasty. She had studied drama, dance, and poetry since her youth and had become the pearl of Korea. The legend was that one day she'd give birth to the gem.
A gem she'd been called when her Mother, one of the Korean Emperor’s sisters in the court of Joseon had given birth to her. Generations before she'd nearly lost her entire family during a time of war between Korea and Japan when Toyotomi Hideyoshi had launched an invasion intending to capture both Korea and China. Taking part in the invasion was a relative of the Emperor Go-Yōzei, the ruling Emperor of Japan. During the invasion, the brother of Emperor Go-Yōzei fathered a child with a beautiful mistress he'd taken in Korea. Shijeoni was thus born and the secret of the origins of her father was kept from her and hidden from the Joseon Empire. Knowledge of an illegitimate child between a reigning Japanese Emperor and a relative of the ruling Korean Joseon Dynasty would have led to turmoil between the Ming Dynasty, the Joseon Dynasty and the Emperor Go-Yōzei of Japan. Hence the secret was kept and the weight of the burden of that secret was tremendous, for it bore enough significance to bring about total war in the Far East should it become revealed.
A thousand years earlier when the descendants of Shijeoni and her Chinese and Japanese relatives gave birth, a great Sage gave an omen to the reigning Emperor that a child would arise from the ashes of war who would give birth to the gem. The gem was the ancient legend that would one day deliver the world from the Dragon of War and Darkness. From the chaos of destruction. The gem would heal the Dragon of Love and Peace and together they would restore order and become something different altogether for the generations that followed. It had already happened once and it would happen again and was told in both the skies and the seas but it was often the deep red moon that spoke to the Sage in the clearest voice. The great Sage had carried that knowledge for years for he'd been taught by the descendants of those who'd been on guard for this Dragon of War and Darkness since the beginning of time. They'd been the first to fight it off and had saved all the Dynasties of the East in doing so and perhaps even the world. This tale was kept a secret for thousands of years and told generation to generation as a child's tale. A fairy tale for it was the tale of the Butterfly Dragon.
It would be a mistake to assume that Ai's optimistic and protective nature heralded from her heritage for it was just part of Ai's good nature. As far as the merit of her unique heritage was concerned, Ai had already earned herself. There were many who believed that a privileged heritage was merely an excuse for them to do little and to charge others a price for the protection of their association. Ai's attitude was that if she could do good she would. She would never sit on her laurels biding time just because of the merit her hidden heritage had purchased for her. It was not an excuse to do nothing but rather a great responsibility to do something. She enjoyed being her creative and adventurous self and there would be no free ride on her heritage because *she* intended to make her own path. She was as much a child of the entire Far East as much as she was that of her parents. She bore the responsibility that entailed for she was not only responsible to her parents and her country of birth, but to the entire Far East of Asia and for that matter in her eyes, the world. Ai's Mother had from her birth referred to her as the Butterfly. It was now the Butterfly Ai who pranced through the tall grass looking for her way to *there*. The place where she'd find the secrets of her Grand Mother's tale. Where she might even find herself and her own place in this strange and wonderful world. A place she'd often find during her imaginative dreams.
The Nine Steps
Light And Beauty
Moon Rises - Flower Closes
Heylyn sat across from Jin Hua upon the floor her legs crossed. Both sat still in concentration as they cooled down after a vigorous workout. Heylyn had grown two years since their first meeting and in that time she'd learned and retained much from Jin Hua. In that time they'd formed a bond that is common to most teachers and their students, one that Jin Hua was careful of for a student must be independent of their teacher and learn to act on their own. Heylyn had progressed through the various techniques Jin Hua instructed her upon having spent three nights a week each week for the past two years in her studies.
In that time she'd been instructed in various schools and techniques of martial arts as known by Jin Hua and as well she'd developed as a growing lady on her way to becoming a grown woman. Heylyn often reveled in Jin Hua's love of life, beauty, and mystery. She never ceased to bring some form of poetic illumination to some undiscovered corner of being in her surroundings both known and unfamiliar. A spark that once lit had never ceased and had lit many more in the young minds of her students over the years. Heylyn had calmed over the course of the two years and her form had become enduring and bold without confrontation. Her confidence had become both enticing and engaging and Jin Hua was at least as proud of her as Heylyn's own parents were.
“Jin. May I ask you a question?” Heylyn asked Jin opening her eyes just slightly.
“Only if I may give you an answer?” Jin Hua asked Heylyn.
“I'd say yes. But only for you Jin.” Heylyn replied getting her right away.
“Then yes, you may ask me a question.” Jin Hua said a smile growing on her face.
“When I first arrived here, you said that there were three steps in each path I'd taken. In Goju Karate. In Tae Kwon-Do. And now, here, with you in this form of ancient Kung Fu though you still refrain from calling it that. The nine steps you said. Where do the nine steps lead?” Heylyn asked Jin Hua.
“The sun comes up and the flower opens. The flower accepts light and beauty. The moon rises and the flower closes. You have asked the question and the night must be coming soon. You have come to me through a path of many teachers. Like the caterpillar, you spied upon the tree that day. It too made many steps in its life before it arrived upon the branch it chose to begin its becoming. You arrived here and like the flower, you opened and accepted the light and beauty. Like the caterpillar, you also made your cocoon. The night comes and the flower closes and the cocoon opens soon. What comes next you ask?” Jin Hua asked Heylyn somewhat rhetorically.
“Why the Butterfly of course,” Heylyn answered Jin Hua.
“Yes. The Butterfly. Much like the flower ever-growing in light and beauty to begin each new day again. Becoming. You then are becoming. You are both the flower upon which the Butterfly does perch as you are the Butterfly itself. You one day will leave here. Leave your home too. To spread that beauty upon the world how you choose and that is so very important. In the first three steps, you learned to that you are capable of achieving what you set your mind to. In the second three steps, you learned that you can contribute to the world in a way that accomplishes more than just looking after yourself alone. When you came here you arrived at the last three steps and here you both opened as a flower and also you began making your cocoon. Now that you've asked the question and the night comes and the flower closes, will you emerge from your cocoon as a Butterfly and spread that beauty upon the world and ultimately affect it as such? You not only must look after yourself but you must protect the innocence there is in the world for it is precious. You have the confidence to know what is right and what is wrong. You know that when you have friends that try to pressure you into something with which you do not agree that you do not have to go along. Independence of thought and confidence enough to know not to sacrifice your own integrity just to keep the friendship of those who value integrity so little. Teach them and protect innocence above all else. Make others confident in themselves and they too will learn independence and none who are as much can be pressured by one or a thousand or a million. This my little Heylyn is what you have the potential to bring to the world and remember that everyone that you can help to find confidence in themselves is yet another Butterfly who may yet bring confidence and esteem to every person. You, however, have the help of an ally of which you are not even aware as of yet. In learning the nine steps and ascending you've acquired the help of the most staunch ally. One that will never leave you or abandon you for any reason. Even if you so wish for it is the Dragon. Through your prowess as a martial artist in three forms you have earned the trust of the Dragon and that will never be gone. Ever. It is a great responsibility and you must be of its worth. Some take longer to arrive at this doorstep. I myself arrived here a decade ago having endured much turmoil before I found the path. You are only fourteen now Heylyn. You have so much ahead of you and you have a great responsibility too. You will ride the waves of life which will carry you to extreme highs and to the depths of despair itself. Regardless you must persist and remain true. Protect that which needs protecting. Innocence above all else.” Jin Hua looked compassionately upon Heylyn.
“But I don't want to leave you Jin. I still want to learn.” Heylyn said to Jin in urgency.
“You will still learn but I have taken you as far as I can. You are well on your way to becoming.” Jin replied to Heylyn a smile stretched across her face.
“Becoming? What?” Heylyn asked her.
“As you have emerged from the cocoon full of light and beauty you are a Butterfly. As you have learned the three paths and the nine steps you are as a Dragon. You have become the Butterfly Dragon.” Jin Hua answered Heylyn's initial question.
“There's still so much to learn,” Heylyn asked Jin desperately.
“Yet you've learned so much. Give yourself the credit that you deserve. As you already know, fighting is not always the answer. Remember this, that your techniques are adaptable. There is no one technique to fit every situation and that is where you must be quick on your wits and attentive of those with whom you deal. Your Butterfly instinct will help you to gravitate towards those who need you. Who need your creativity, beauty, and wisdom as will you prosper from theirs. Your Dragon instinct will help protect you from the treacherous and deceitful and ill of intent. Together with your Dragon, you will find the path though it will not be easy. Heylyn. Remember to be love. Always. Like your namesake. Don't let the malice of others bring you down.” Jin Hua paused looking to Heylyn.
“But...” Heylyn's eyes started to tear up.
“Let us finish with a test. It is customary to proceed to this test after you've studied and practiced the techniques and asked the last question. You will feel better and I am very confident in you but you must be confident in yourself. Always. So that you never give up.” Jin Hua stood taking a new stance that Heylyn had not seen.
“What stance is this?” Heylyn asked.
“It is the stance of the ancient Dragon Butterfly. You must best me while using the Dragon Butterfly style with what you know.” Jin Hua stood her stance surprisingly loose and lax leaving many openings for Heylyn.
“An ancient style? I am only fourteen years old!” Heylyn said to Jin.
“That is no excuse for the Butterfly Dragon!” said Jin taunting her.
Heylyn stood back examining Jin's stance and apparent openings. When she'd spied an opening in Jin's lower abdomen she advanced for it quickly and aptly. Jin stepped with little effort to the side avoiding the blow and delivering a slap to the back of Heylyn's head before returning to the same stance.
Heylyn backed away a little bit set back by the fact that Jin had so easily avoided the blow and still delivered a counter-attack. Heylyn decided to try something a little more simple this time and approached quickly attempting a full foot sweep upon arriving in position. Jin lifted her legs in succession easily and completely dodging the attack. While Heylyn was still low retracting her leg Jin placed her palm on the top of the child's head and cartwheeled over Heylyn with ease to land behind her. Heylyn rolled forward as quickly as she could to avoid the impending attack that would surely come her at her exposed back but one never did. It was enough for Heylyn to know that an attacker could have waylaid her easily after such a situation. Heylyn turned to face Jin once again.
Jin stood in the same stance leaving the same opening for Heylyn to exploit should she choose though Heylyn knew better. Instead, Heylyn examined her options carefully and surmised Jin's only possible counter-attack should Heylyn attack that opening. Heylyn then knew she could block the attack and thought about the possible defense Jin might use. If Heylyn did this right she might actually find an exploitable opening in Jin's defense after about five or six rounds of attack and defense. Heylyn advanced to attempt her plan. Heylyn threw a punch which predictably Jin blocked exposing another opening that Heylyn immediately exploited. Jin once again blocked the attack as Heylyn had expected to step a little bit to the left and to sweep her arm across her front to deflect the wide arced blow. Heylyn spun delivering a bladed palm strike which again was deflected by Jin's experience and her proficiency with the Dragon Butterfly style.
Heylyn leaped into the air striking downward toward Jin's left shoulder. Jin turned slightly avoiding the blow altogether and as Heylyn landed Jin attempted an attack upon Heylyn's back. Heylyn had been expecting that move and had aptly prepared by landing on the opposite foot which gave her enough momentum to spin and catch Jin's hand in mid-attack. Heylyn yanked and pulled Jin forward attempting to flip her over her shoulder. Jin instead moved with the force and let Heylyn fall to the floor where she delivered a punch to Heylyn's solar plexus. The punch barely grazed her but it was enough to let Heylyn know that she'd have been done in a real encounter. Heylyn flipped back up and onto her feet cartwheeling backward several times before coming to stop on her feet. Heylyn was completely lost and furthermore frustrated by the situation.
Heylyn began advancing to attack out of desperation before finally coming to an epiphany. An intense understanding that had eluded her throughout all of her training.
“I'm not going to attack you,” Heylyn said to Jin defiantly.
“Oh really? Then I guess I'll just have to tear down your scroll from the wall so that none of the future students may read the wisdom of your words. The one you made last year. Your gift to our school.” Jin said advancing upon the dangling vellum parchment scroll which hung from the wall.
As soon as Jin had turned her attention to the scroll Heylyn moved. Heylyn stepped confidently forward knowing full well Jin could see her from her peripheral vision. Heylyn advanced as Jin's arm extended to the scroll. Heylyn's hand intercepted Jin's arm first and Heylyn twisted her arm guiding it around to Jin's back. Jin resisted though Heylyn had already a strong purchase of it not to mention that Jin's nerve was pressed within her elbow. Jin was forced to back up with Heylyn. Jin stepped right into Heylyn's extended leg and fell over backward. As Jin went down Heylyn tapped the back of her head lightly to let her know that she was victorious. When Jin was upon the floor Heylyn backflipped into position over Jin's stomach delivering a similar blow to the one Jin had given her. Jin made an attempt to get up to which Heylyn foot flew to Jin's Adam's apple. Jin lay still in place waiting for Heylyn's permission to move.
Heylyn had bested Jin's use of the Dragon Butterfly style though she doubted that it might be so easy in a real-life situation.
“Well done,” Jin said as Heylyn helped her back up and onto her feet.
“You've learned an important lesson today. Do you know what that lesson is?” Jin asked Heylyn.
“I think so,” Heylyn said mostly sure of herself but still with some doubt.
“Then say it for me young Butterfly!” Jin said a smile growing on her face.
“Where skill is equal or outmatched it is intent that can decide the outcome?” Heylyn said confidently though questioningly.
“Excellent. The defender almost always has the advantage so don't attack unless you absolutely have to. Instead, you chose the more peaceful path and left intent in my hands. I, of course, chose the worst intent and became the attacker as well throw away my advantage completely. Right and wrong often are woven into the fabric of such conflicts and their outcome. This is why action, reaction, and anger are so dangerous because they can be used to manipulate you into attacking. That gives the defender the advantage even though they manipulated you into doing so. Should you remain true to your intent you should rarely find difficulty in overcoming such foes. Such adversaries hide their intent from others and often hide their efforts to coerce you into attacking so they do not lose the illusion of good intent. Intent, therefore, should you remain virtuous and true to what is right will protect you unless of course you have become overwhelmed by many of ill intent. That is rare and even rarer that one such as the Butterfly Dragon will not find allies even amongst the lowliest of situations. There is always innocence and hope hidden amidst the turmoil. Those are your allies. Protect them, Butterfly. You have three of your staunchest allies. The adept Goju Karate originating from Okinawa Japan. The learned Tae Kwon-Do originating from the ancient Gojoseon, modern-day Korea. You have the ally of Wing Chun and Shaolin Kung Fu. You have graduated to combine all three to become the Butterfly Dragon having attained the nine steps. The moon has risen and you must close your petals for a time Ai Yuanlin Ying.” Jin Hua braced her hands before her and bowed before Heylyn who returned the gesture.
“Be wise. Be at peace. And most of all be true.” Jin said those words and departed the class.
“Jin?” Heylyn said as Jin left.
“Yes, Butterfly?” Jin responded.
“Thank you,” Heylyn said humbly and sincerely.
“You are most welcome. Now go!” Jin said impatiently turning again to leave.
Heylyn watched in disbelief as Jin departed. That would be the last time that young Heylyn Yates would ever see Jin Hua again.
A Precious Mind
Somewhere else far from the active imagination of Ai, there lived another little girl. Much like Ai her curiosity often overtook her sense of self-preservation or her awareness of her surroundings. Her mind was focused on many different things than those of Ai though not as different as one might think. Her days were often spent playing with puzzles and solving her book of tricks, a gift her parents had bought for her on her first day of summer school. She was a gifted little girl much like Ai and her mind was most certainly as busy but in a much different way both inside her little body and in the world around her. Every day since she'd received the book in which each page was a very simple pictogram depicting a little problem or ambiguity. Her parents had spotted it in an educational shop and had picked it up based upon their little girl's love of puzzles. When this particular little girl first saw the book she was herself quite puzzled. Her parents had read the first few puzzles and solved them easily up until the third page when they found a puzzle that had stumped them both. They'd spent a week discussing the possible solution to this particular puzzle. They'd also discussed whether such a book was too much for their little daughter. In the end, they decided to give it to her and much to their disbelief, she'd figured the whole book out in one afternoon. At the young age of six years old the little girl's capacity for comprehension and application was nearing that of an adult. Her name was Alicia.
Her naturally blonde hair and intense blue eyes were captivating though it was her shyness and silence that kept her abilities thinly veiled. When she'd started her summer classes she'd enjoyed school. She rarely talked with or was social with other students but instead reveled in whatever there was to learn. She saw it as a challenge, like her puzzles and the pictogram book her parents had bought for her. She liked the dolls her parents had bought for her though her parents would often find her playing science lab rather than a house. She had one particular doll that her parents had bought for her that came with a doctor's outfit. Alicia had quickly learned that doctors often dressed like scientists and that's how she'd play with her favorite doll. One of her other toys would come to the scientist with an incurable illness and the scientist would figure out a cure in her laboratory (which was her doll's kitchen). Her doll was really the only toy that she'd held onto past her fifth year as she'd become more interested in books and learning. Her doll would sometimes help her out with particularly difficult problems. That's precisely why she'd brought her to the first day of summer school.
At school that day she'd first learned about the rules they had in class. About putting your hand up to ask a question or if you needed to go to the bathroom. Like it was for many of the students it was much different than having the freedom she'd had at home. She learned about what they would be doing for the next month and the duration of the classes and how it would affect her first real school year the following September. They spent much of the rest of the class going over and learning the alphabet which Alicia had mostly known by that point though she remained impatiently quiet during the lesson. When the lesson was over, they had a bit of playtime and that's when Alicia brought out her doll.
The other students naturally were playing with their toys. Many of the boys had picked up one of the various cars or spaceships that were part of the school's toy inventory. Some had picked up some of the action figures while others built with building blocks. Many of the girls had picked up the various dolls and stuffed toys and were reenacting their impressions of adult life and their eventual adulthood. Alicia sat near the far end of the playmat with her doll having found a kitchen set to use as her laboratory. She then accepted her first "case" in the form of a dilapidated stuffed bunny who'd arrived with a terminal case of stuffing leak. Alicia's doll set about working on research to solve the case and when she'd come up with the solution she informed the bunny to which the bunny was overjoyed and excited. The bunny would only have to wait a day for her to formulate and develop this cure at home and bring it for the bunny the next day. Some of the other children noticed, especially when the bunny became excited about having heard that Alicia's doll had developed a cure. They watched for a moment perhaps trying to comprehend what had transpired between the bunny and Alicia's doll and then went back to their playing. They kept an eye on Alicia for the rest of the half-day of class curious about her and her doll.
When Alicia had finished class she left the school to find her Mother waiting just outside ready to walk her home and they did just that together. The first thing Alicia did when she got in the door was go to her room to discuss the bunny's cure with her doll. She went through her toy chest and found the little tinderbox her Father had given her on her prior birthday. She opened it and pulled from it what she'd need for the cure and put it in a little doctor's bag and went back to reading one of her puzzle books for the rest of the day.
Summer School Savior
Alicia arrived the next day at school just before class and most of the other students had forgotten about the bunny's antics from the prior day. Some were smiling, a few were grouchy and some were merely there in class and waiting to see what happened next. The day began again with a lesson about the alphabet and of course, Alicia sat through the lesson a little bit anxiously. When they were done they'd gone on to numbers and that had caught Alicia's attention as she'd had a propensity for math. She listened carefully quickly picking up on some of the simple elements of the lesson. She very readily grasped the concept of ordinality and the predecessor/successor relationship between numbers. By the end of class, she was confident enough to try counting to a hundred which she did readily though not knowing the names used to refer to the higher numbers. Some of the other students watched her quietly mouthing the numbers. Some smirked at her and one even stuck their tongue out at her. About halfway through the class, they arrived at snack and playtime and after Alicia had gobbled down her snack she went over to the kitchen/laboratory and sat down. The bunny with the terminal case of stuffing leakage was still there in a makeshift bed Alicia had put together for her.
Alicia then pulled out her bag and retrieved from it a safety needed with thick wool thread. Then she proceeded to sew the bunny's wound up sealing it tightly as some of the other children watched with intent interest. Alicia's doll worked diligently in her laboratory perhaps trying to surpass Alicia's count to a hundred from the prior day when one of the students approached Alicia with a doll in hand. She made the doll knock on Alicia's lab and Alicia's doll answered.
"Hello. Can I help you?" her doll spoke in a mature sounding voice.
"Hi. I'm hurting. My arm is broken off and I can't do anything anymore. Can you help me?" the other doll, that of a little girl spoke in a pain-ridden voice.
"Let me take a look." Alicia's doll welcomed the doll into her lab as Alicia stretched her hand out asking for the little girl doll.
The other student, a little girl herself handed it to Alicia somewhat reluctantly. Alicia took it and examined the doll immediately finding that the doll's arm had become dislodged from the socket but was dangling in place held there by an overly used spring. Alicia then moved the arm a bit and retrieved something from her bag which she used to return the spring back to its original form. She then pressed the socket firmly and it *popped* back in place. Alicia then handed the doll back to the little girl who looked at it smiling.
"Thank you!" she said happily.
Alicia looked at the girl puzzled and pointed to her doll.
"Thank you too." the girl said as she headed over to the other side of the mat where she began playing.
A little boy approached and knocked on the door to Alicia's makeshift laboratory and kitchen.
"Can I help you?" Alicia's doll answered.
"I hope. My paint is coming off and it really hurts." the little boy showed the action figure to Alicia.
She examined it carefully and pulled a marker from her bag and quickly colored the areas that needed a touch-up and handed it back to the boy.
"Thanks." he accepted it making his way over to a friend where they continued playing.
For the rest of the play time Alicia spent her day coming up with cures for the toys' ailments and fixing them where she could. After class she'd felt very satisfied that she was able to use her abilities to help the other students in class. For the first time in her young life she began to feel like she was a part of something much bigger than herself.
Continue to Act I: The Genius And The Butterfly