The Butterfly Dragon: The Two Butterflies - Episode 02 (First Draft)

I've decided to continue my release plans as scheduled, though they'll be delayed slightly this week and all come out on Friday May 12, 2023.

I believe that its wrong to reward abuse, but I have to reward my true readers that have nothing to do with that sort of abuse. If there's no spark in the fire that keeps us going, then how are we going to see our compass?

Here's the second Butterfly episode for all you true Butterflies out there... and a Dragon which inspired us all...

Expect at least one more release today (Friday May 12, 2023), and possibly the rest over the weekend. Next week, assuming I'm not attacked again, I'll continue releasing more content in the Butterfly Dragon storyline and the revamped episodic version of A Lady's Prerogative: Singularity...


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The Butterfly Dragon: The Two Butterflies - Excerpt From Episode 01

In the darkness of a hidden warehouse in Toronto's film district, a desperate life and death drama ensued, but there were no cameras running on this set.

On one side the warehouse, a solitary woman swung a chunk of wood obtained from a broken palette in her attempt to delay the men who were trying to abduct the little girl behind her.

On the other side, a young man crawled on his back as he grasped a wound on his stomach, striving to get away from another. An older, experienced Japanese man who wielded two Tanto blades, one in each hand.

"How are you Kori?" asked Braden, the man crawling on his back to escape.

"Not good! I've got the three guys from the back parking lot looking to fricassee me.  How about you?" asked Kori, tiring quickly as she swung the large block of wood to keep them at bay.

"Same deal here, except I'm pretty sure he's trying to Ginsu me," Braden joked as Mutano swung both knives, each in turn expertly and precisely at his abdomen.

The first knife grazed his washboard stomach, leaving a thin line of blood along his midsection. The second knife however, opened him up, cutting into muscle and nearly to the bone. He fell to the floor grasping at his stomach as Mutano advanced on him closing for the kill.

"Kori! Take Warai and run for it! I'm down!" Braden said, grasping at his stomach in an attempt to keep his innards in.

And Now: The Butterfly Dragon: The Two Butterflies - Episode 02

A Return To Form

"I've devoured many dragons in my time, for I am a dragon too. You are no different, though I don't recall ever hearing word of you to tell the truth. By what name may I refer to you, fallen dragon?" asked Mutano as he advanced upon Braden, who struggled to back away from him while holding his insides within the wound on his belly.

"You first!" Braden wisely delayed.

It was then that Warai saw Braden laying on the warehouse floor, cold and alone as the man with the two tanto blades approached.

"Braden!" she cried, running over to his side.

"Kori? How are you?" yelled Braden as the little girl arrived at his side.

"The guys from the back parking lot? They're not buying the routine with the broken palette as a weapon..., nor my mastery of the Sing A Song Dynasty Martial Arts..." Kori replied, swinging the length of two by four again, trying to fend them off.

"You're doing fine! You've got to break away and make a run for it!" Braden yelled back to her as Mutano closed in.

"You're hurt!" Warai, the little girl screamed upon seeing the wound across Braden's stomach.

"Warai, if you love me, you've got to make a run for it! Run for your life!" Braden urged her.

Warai clampled down with her hand on his wound, drawing upon the life force of the field and the two dragons. Her hands began to glow as Braden's wounds sealed themselves with the energy from her touch.

She then slumped by his side in a stupor, as if she'd exhausted herself.

By that point, Braden was up on his feet and readying himself against Mutano.

"My dear fallen dragon, its going to take much more than a little girl to save you!" Mutano said as he advanced, employing his skill in Nito and Tantojutsu as he did.

Mutano swung a double stroke, with both of his blades at once, pushing Braden backwards away from the little girl.

When Mutano turned to glance at Warai, Braden was immediately upon him.

Braden launched himself into a flying punch, in which he connected his left fist with Mutano's left cheek, sending him backwards into a roll.

The next moment he was back up on his feet, though he'd lost all the ground he'd gained and then some with Braden's sudden attack. Not only that, but Braden had placed himself protectively between Mutano and Warai.

The three assassins of the three families had encircled Kori, each beginning to close in on her. She spun to confront each of them as they made progress forward, but while she faced one, the other two would advance in her absence.

Braden realized the strategic game they were playing, wagering Kori for Warai. He attempted to side step and make his way around to Kori, but when he did, Mutano only attempted to advance on Warai.

They stood facing each other in their standoff for a moment. They were all suddenly startled by the sound of a doors flying open simultaneously. The one at the front of the warehouse and the one at the back.

"Did you ask anyone else to come here?" asked one of the three assassins of Mutano.

"I was just going to ask you the same thing..." Mutano replied, now watching both Braden and his own back carefully.

"So tell me this, dragon. Why don't you leave the baby dragon alone and try picking on a mature Tiger!" Hoon Kwang stepped into the warehouse, in an orange shirt and black pants.

"Myung, remember what I told you," Hoon Kwang told his student.

"I remember, Sebomnim," Myung Chung-Ae joined Hoon Kwang, by his side though back a step.

"I was just going to say what a disgrace it is to Miyamoto Musashi to see a dragon wielding Nito against a welp dragon and a child!" Hanshi Morgan Hind stepped into view from the back door of the warehouse, wielding a Sai in each hand and fully adorned in his ceremonial combat Gi.

Beside him, a woman in an elegant Cheongsam dress joined him.

"Three against one?" I'm here to see that these odds are a bit more fair, though in all honesty - with me here, you're all outnumbered," Jinn Hua addressed the assassins of the three families.

"Uhhhhh... do you know them Kori? Are they friends or something?" asked Braden.

"I recognize the lady. She's definitely a friend I met with Heylyn in GuangZhou, though I've spent at least two weeks in psycho-therapy because of her and her dragon friend..." Kori replied reluctantly.

"Alright. That's progress. Let's treat them like friends," Braden replied as he advanced on Mutano.

On the other side, Hoon Kwang advanced, forcing Mutano's step into Mukaiau futari, which left Mutano's back open to Myung as she circled from the other side to exploit his blind spot.

On the other side of the warehouse, Hanshi advanced on the three assassins. They all turned to face him, though the first attack came from behind them. It was Jinn Hua and her Mastery of a hybrid form of Wing Chun and Tai Chi that allowed her to move swiftly against one of the three. She quickly disarmed him of his knife, and then rended his arms immobile in one swift movement. She then returned to balance, striking him between the floating ribs, immediately winding him and knocking him out.

"There we go, gently asleep. Awwww, so cute!" Jinn Hua commented as she rended the first assassin unconscious.

The remaining two each turned to face one opponent. The first turned to Hanshi while the other turned to Sifu Jinn Hua.

In the meantime, Braden had managed to once again close the opening between Mutano and Warai. Hoon Kwang and Myung immediately caught on and kept their stance focused on ensuring that Warai was protected, preventing Mutano from moving.

Mutano could see that this was clearly a standoff, and began evaluating his options for immediate retreat.

Myung moved closer to his back, sizing him up for a swift spine kick, which would not have been deadly, but it would likely incapacitate him enough for the other two to secure him.

Mutano, being no fool, immediately caught on to their strategy and adjusted his Furontosutansu, so as to prevent the other two from advancing, while preying upon the lesser experience of Myung, whom he knew to be Hoon Kwang's student.

From the shape of their eyes and their cheeks, he assumed that they could either be Japanese, or likely Korean, though based upon their stance, he could not simply tell by their martial arts. Braden was clearly versed in a highly specialized form of Gong Fu and Wing Chun, though it was not an art Mutano was familiar with. It was strangely alien to him and he suspected that the luck he'd gained with his first strike on Braden was just that, luck. A fluke, having found a weakness not by skill or strategy, but by sheer chaos.

Hoon Kwang secretly nodded to Myung, though Mutano caught the gesture between teacher and student. He quickly turned to face Myung, who by that time had retreated substantially yet held her Junbi ga dekita shisei from Mutano's perspective.

In turning to address her possible exploitation of his back, he'd exposed his back to the two more skilled martial artists amongst his enemies unknowingly.

Together, they wasted no time advancing on his back while Myung kept her distance from the vulnerable dragon.

By that time, Hanshi had caught the knife attack of one of the two remaining assassins in a combination move of both the Sai in the employ of his deadly Goju-Ryu skilled hands. They caught the small blade, and when he twisted the trapped blade between the Sai guard and pommel, the assassin's tiny blade broke like a toy.

Hanshi then connected twice with a double strike of the ball of the Sai pommel, each connecting perfectly and sending the assassin into the land of nod, asleep much like the one Jinn Hua had first sent there within.

"Finally! How's it feel being outnumbered tough guy?" Kori elicited in joy that the cavalry had clearly arrived.

The last assassin dropped his knife and held his hands up.

"Hey! It was only a temp gig for me. I'm outta here, no harm no foul, right?" he asked as he backed away towards the door.

Kori hauled the two by four in her arms and threw it at the man as he retreated. The piece of lumber hit him solidly in the head, sending him to the floor unconscious just like his two compatriots.

"I have to admit I've seen better palette-fu, but that was pretty good for an amateur," Jinn Hua responded to Kori's improvisation.

Jinn Hua and Kori then closed in on Warai protectively as Hanshi joined the battle against Mutano.

"Tantojutsu. With real Tantos as well. Impressive, yet so absent of honour wielding it against the unarmed," Hanshi joined their advance on Mutano.

Braden had managed to get hold of one of Mutano's hands, and struggled to maintain his grip and control of the joint. Mutano's tanto dropped to the cement floor of the warehouse as Hoon Kwang closed and locked Mutano's other arm before he could strike against Braden.

With a sudden burst of Kiai, Mutano threw himself away from his attackers suddenly. Double flipping over them and to a spot that had opened up beneath him. A darkness through which he slipped beyond the matter of space-time,  disappearing into the Aether of the Dark Dragon's realm.

"Braden!" Warai exclaimed, suddenly revived from her expenditure of life energy and Chi.

"I'm alright thanks to you, sweetie!" Braden was quickly beside Kori and Jinn Hua, who'd nursed Warai back to health.

"He was too cowardly to face another skilled in Nito. His honour is scarred immensely," Hanshi commented about Mutano.

"You did well Myung. I am very proud and honoured to have you returned as my student. But we have to see the Butterly..." Hoon Kwang spoke to Myung.

"The Butterfly...? You mean...Heylyn?" asked Braden, standing to face these newest of arrivals.

"Heylyn Yates also known as Ai Yuanlin Ying. The Butterfly Dragon. One and the same," Jinn Hua added.

"I told you they were my friends... kind of... after the therapy at least..." Kori responded.

"We just came from where the Butterfly is, but she's out helping other people..." Warai exclaimed excitedly upon hearing Heylyn's true name.

"We were lured here. It was obviously a trap, which means that what Heylyn responded to might also be a trap..." Braden added.

"We should get back to work. To West Meet East. We could bring them. I mean we could squeeze them in... if those assassins haven't destroyed our car..?" Kori suggested.

"That's alright. I'm driving a mean GM vehicle. Electric," Hanshi told them.

"Then lets make our way back to West Meet East," Jinn Hua suggested.

"Shouldn't we call the Police or something?" asked Braden.

"Let's. Tell them we were neighbours and that it was a warehouse break-in in the film district. I mean what the heck, they tried to take Warai, I'm not going to protect them!" Kori said, already dialing the phone.

Hanshi already had his cell phone out and was dialing.

"How is little Warai doing?" Hoon Kwang asked the little girl.

"Now that's the question of the day," Hanshi responded before he began speaking with the radio room operator of the Toronto Police Service.

By that time, Braden was already kneeling down to talk with Warai.

"You saved me out there. I don't know how, but you saved me. Us. All of us. Did it hurt you to do that?" Braden asked her diplomatically.

"It made me feel all spinny and dizzy. Like when we used to play merry-go-round. Remember?" Warai asked Braden.

"How are you feeling now?" Kori asked Warai.

"I feel much better. I'm hungry..." Warai responded.

"Nothing that a little trip to the take-out window can't fix. There's that health food place?" asked Kori.

"...and frozen yoghurt too!" Warai responded excitedly too.

"Let's get going then. I've called the Police and they're on their way. I'd suggest that we get out before then?" Hanshi pocketed his phone.

"I thought you were in dire straights financially?" asked Myung of Hanshi as they all began to walk to the back door.

"Sounds like Tiger Kwang here was playing up his side of the story in having helped me," Hanshi smirked at Hoon Kwang, who laughed and patted his old friend on the back.

"Its good publicity my friend," Hoon Kwang said as they exited the building.

"As the story goes, Myung, I lost the Dojo a few years ago. Around the same time that my wife died. I spent all of my time and money caring for her until her final moments. It was a difficult time for the both of us, but at least we spent it all together. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way," Hanshi looked down as he recalled his last few hours with her.

"When she was gone, I lost the mortgage on the commercially zoned block I'd purchased and sold it all. Tiger Kwang here helped me out by sharing his Dojang with me, allowing me to run my Goju-Ryu curriculum on his off days. He even rented me the flat above the Dojang which I've turned into a pretty awesome apartment for an old man like me. The dividend from the sale of my old building came to a sizeable enough amount that I was able to leverage that with a few investments, thanks to some advice from some of my former students," Hanshi continued to explain.

"Hanshi guides the students. The students guide the pompous Hanshi! The Sebomnim Tiger collects the rent. Ha!" Hoon Kwang had another friendly laugh at Hanshi's expense.

"How'd you find us anyway?" Braden asked Jinn Hua.

"We followed you from just outside of West Meet East. We've been watching for some time, keeping an eye on things you could say," Jinn Hua told the younger man.

"We'll take Jinn Hua with us," Kori told Hanshi.

"Great. Myung, you've got shotgun. Tiger, you can take the back seat..." Hanshi guided them to his four-door all wheel drive electric pickup truck as Kori, Warai, Jinn Hua and Braden got in the compact car.

Kori quickly pulled out into traffic and Hanshi followed behind her. When they arrived at a light, Hanshi pulled up beside Kori and rolled down his window.

"You lead us to West Meet East, and we'll follow," Hanshi requested of Kori.

"Fair enough. Just don't rear end us in that monster of yours," Kori smiled at Hanshi, who grinned back.

"You're one of Ai Yuanlin Ying's teachers? Her Sifu?" asked Braden of Jinn Hua.

"You've met all of her teachers today. She started first with Hanshi, who back then was titled honorifically as Kyoshi Morgan Hind. She started her journey into martial arts with Kyoshi back then. When she'd achieved first Kyu in Goju-Ryu, the equivalent of getting one's degree in university, she then went on to train under Hoon "Tiger" Kwang, a Masterful Sebomnim of Tae Kwon Do," Jinn Hua began telling Braden the story of Ai Yuanlin Ying's path.

"Is there a reason to the order in which she trained in these martial arts?" asked Braden.

"That is a matter we should discuss in the presence of the other masters. They've invested a great deal of their lives training students in their respective aspect of the martial arts. We will discuss this in their presence. I'm more interested in how Warai's appetite is doing?" Jinn Hua finished her conversation with Braden and then turned to Warai in the back seat.

"I'm hungry!" Warai exclaimed, now getting slightly grumpy.

"Oh no. Is it a grumpy day?" asked Kori playfully of Warai as she drove.

"I'm not grumpy!" Warai responded, clearly getting upset.

"She's hungry. Very hungry. I know her well enough to know this with all certainty," Braden responded in Warai's defense.

"She just ate before we left for the warehouse. How can she be so hungry again. I mean a snack, alright, but a whole meal again?" asked Kori like a concerned mother.

"It is as I suspected then," Jinn Hua remarked.

"Care to share that with the rest of us?" asked Braden politely.

"She has a heightened ability with Chi. Body energy," Jinn Hua said curtly.

"And...?" Kori asked with baited breath.

"And she can metabolize her food energy directly into Chi, with remarkable fluidity. Very rapidly. So fast, that she could literally deprive herself of enough metabolic energy to live if she's not careful. In saving you Braden, she used up a considerable amount of her own body energy, which explains why she's so hungry now," Jinn Hua told them of her theory.

"Well there's the drive through I was talking about and no time too soon! Let's get you some food, Warai," Kori said, pulling into the drive-through lineup.


By the time they had returned to West Meet East, Warai had consumed no less than three complete meals, each of which would have have easily satiated an adult.

Now, she walked beside them with a full cup of yogurt in one hand and a spoon in the other, devouring that as quickly as she could.

Hanshi pulled into the West Meet East back parking lot and found a spot for his truck. Together as a group, they went in through the back shipping and receiving door.

"The work day is almost done. There's only a half-hour left and most people in the building have already left except for the office staff," Kori told them, leading them to the creative room.

"Have a seat in here and I'll collect the rest of the gang from the front," Kori said, leaving them in the comfort of the West Meet East creative recreational room.

Hanshi grabbed a seat beside Jinn Hua on one of the sofas, Myung sat beside her on the other side.

Hoon Kwang was immediately drawn to the billiards table where he quickly found a pool cue and began taking skillful shots at the racked balls as Myung, Jinn Hua and Hanshi finished their food.


Kori walked through the building to the front office, finding her way to Heylyn's design room where another meeting was in progress. She was startled to see a woman she'd not seen before, speaking with them as if she were an old friend.

"Kori, you're just in time!" Monique said to Kori as she walked into the design area.

"I was just going to say the same thing...?" Kori said, looking to the new face.

"I'm sorry, I don't know you but you seem strangely familiar," Kori said to the new girl, who wore a red black and white skirt, vest and blouse.

"Kori? I'm..." the girl began before she was immediately interrupted by Heylyn.

"...A friend. A good friend. And the latest addition to the modeling department of West Meet East International. She's now a part of our family here," Heylyn introduced the new girl without revealing her name.

"Pleased to meet you... I'm Kori Jonglyu," Kori held out her hand to the woman who bowed in response.

"Hai. I am pleased to meet you. To see you through such different eyes and hear your voice with ears long gone," the girl said in a friendly voice with an ear to ear smile on her face.

"...I didn't get your name?" Kori continued.

"I'm so sorry. I'm Aikiko. Aikiko Tanaka," Aikiko smiled, even blushing slightly at her new good found family.

"Aikiko? You mean the...? Where's all the body art?" asked Kori.

"Kori, that's all a personal matter and I'd like you to focus on the person before you, not the person you once knew, though we'll be seeing more of her. Let's just say that she's safe somewhere else," Heylyn advised Kori on the matter.

"You're all safe, nobody injured at least. How'd it go with that emergency?" asked Kori.

"It went good. We were able to effectively save the lives of everyone who'd been caught in the blast, though cleanup crews are stills scouring the area, but every has been accounted for and is alive," Valerie assured Kori.

"Doctor Westin here was able to save a few of them too, thanks to her biology training," Monique gestured to her friend and colleague.

"Yep. It was fortunate I was so close to have been able to make it there, and its been a little while since the whole team worked together like that. At least since the Western Delegation to the Asian Alliance," Alicia agreed with Monique's insight.

"Gabe's in stable but critical condition in Scarborough General Hospital," Heylyn told Kori.

"Any idea who or what the bombers were targeting?" asked Kori.

"We can't speculate on that right now. Not without the rest of the gang. We'll be discussing that at our next afternoon meeting tomorrow. With Zheng, Linda, Bryce, Norler and Doctor Briggs," Valerie reminded Kori.

"Did you get the RSVP packages alright?" asked Heylyn.

"There was a slight problem with that..." Kori said cautiously.

"Where's Warai?!" Heylyn immediately asked, stepping forward.

"She's safe, but we have some company here, in the creative room. I think we all need to talk," Kori suggested to them all.

"Alright. Let's reconvene this meeting in the creative room with our guests. I trust Kori that she'd leave Warai in good care. I'm assuming that she's with Braden?" asked Heylyn.

"That she is, after having eaten three complete meals that would have ably fed a three hundred pound bodybuilder," Kori told Heylyn.

"Let's go!" Heylyn quickly gathered her purse and attaché case and led them all to the creative room.

Bringing It All Together

"So am I to understand that Warai somehow healed you?" asked Heylyn as she leaned against the billiards table, Warai in front of her devouring Kori's yoghurt after having finished her own.

"She focused her Chi through her hands and was able to repair a debilitating wound in a matter of seconds," Braden explained to Heylyn.

"She has an exceedingly powerful ability to wield and manipulate Chi," Jinn Hua explained to Heylyn.

"But it clearly costs something of her own health!" Heylyn said defensively, somewhat upset that they'd put her little gem at such risk.

"Chi is limitless and infinite. It has no bounds. She isn't producing it, but channeling it through her dan tians. It is this processing and channeling that requires her bodily nourishment to power that process. What she uses that way, she must quickly restore by consuming a healthy diet," Jinn Hua explained to her former student.

"Eating three high protein adult meals and finishing it with four cups of frozen yoghurt is a healthy diet?" asked Heylyn in shock of what she was hearing.

"If her body is consuming that much energy and that quickly, then she must replenish that much. A simple matter of balance," Hanshi pointed out.

"Metabolic energy out must be equal to metabolic energy in or..." Alicia explained in more scientific concerns.

"Little miss grumpy," Kori replied.

"Hungry and confused little girl," Heylyn rubbed the top of Warai's head lovingly as she scooped up the last bit of Kori's yoghurt.

"Can I have some more?" asked Warai, looking up to Heylyn.

"Honey, why don't you let what you've eaten digest and see how you feel in about ten minutes. Alright?" asked Heylyn of Warai.

"Ok," Warai replied enthusiastically, now full of energy.

"So this is it?" Heylyn looked to Jinn Hua, who returned her glance and nodded.

"So it is. It appears that the Gem is growing into her new abilities, and faster than I'd have anticipated," Jinn Hua confirmed to Heylyn.

"She should start the training then as soon as possible!" Hanshi stood, as if to impose his opinion more diligently.

"She's still a six year old little girl! Can we let her grow up a little more?" Heylyn said protectively.

"I started when I was four," Jinn Hua responded, agreeing with Hanshi.

"And I when I was nine. Three years will bring her a world of understanding that she will need in starting this training," Heylyn once again protected Warai, thinking only of her future.

"Ai Yuanlin Ying, you forget that it was the training that gave you the foundation. Not the foundation that gave you the training," Jinn Hua reminded her former student.

"Can I say something here, as a representative of the Tanaka Dojo?" asked Aikiko.

"Ahhh... the infamous Tanaka Dojo. Another fine example of Shotokan school of Karate-do. That was until it was sold to pay for a sizeable gambling debt!" Hanshi challenged Aikiko, who was somewhat shocked by Hanshi's statement.

"Hanshi, with all due respect. The life of any school lives on within its students, not the disgraces of readily needed real estate transactions," Aikiko defended her school, not fully knowing that she'd taught Hanshi an important lesson.

Hanshi thought about Aikiko's response, and noted to himself that she was indeed a worthy student of the Shotokan name. The same school under which Goju-Ryu spread from Southeast Asia.

Honour was a very serious issue, especially amongst the schools of Japan. Even more so than you'd find in the martial arts systems of other cultures, for honour was on the same level as merit and credibility. In Aikiko he saw a student and master of the Tanaka Dojo, who'd developed their own unique style born of three systems. Yet, at the height of their dwindling success, the owner of the Dojo, who was not even trained in its forms, sold it all to pay a sizeable gambling debt. From that moment, the Tanaka Dojo had accrued much shame. The worst of all weights to counter the honour and merit of the civilized world. The civilized warrior, for without honour, we were all merely savages.

Yet, this young woman, who'd likely seen much in her time, had aptly defended her school honour with just a single statement. Pressing Hanshi in a soft spot he'd kept hidden for a long time, for he'd sold his own Dojo and the real estate there within which it was contained to prevent the foreclosure of the banks. Yet, by some miracle, he'd averted the shame that would have come to any other Dojo for such a closure. With her one statement, he came to truly understand this most honourable of students of the Tanaka Dojo. Perhaps his understanding of Dojo history and lineage might be questionable he thought to himself.

"Humbly accept my apology Tanaka Sensei. Perhaps you and I are more alike than we know," Hanshi bowed low to Aikiko, who returned the gesture, bowing even lower than him in respect.

"Can we cut the Dojo politics for a moment and get back on track here?" interrupted Heylyn, concerned with her little girl.

"You were going to make a point before I rudely interrupted you, Tanaka Sensei?" Hanshi responded to Heylyn's call for sensibility.

"I started my training when I was six years old. Training with the last true master of the Tanaka school. The same school that combined the the three forms into one: the dragon of the East. A confident yet humble dragon, who stubbornly guarded their secrets keeping them from the general knowledge of those seeking such learned possibility. The dragon of the west, a boastful dragon al too willing to spread their knowledge and teachings far, to fulfill the needs of its own ego. Then, the one in between. The one never seen. The one never known, except by true masters, for when you achieve this knowledge, it is said you simply disappear," Aikiko explained the principle and mystique of the Tanaka Dojo.

"It is through these three that we find peace and balance. We find the fire of battle and the steadfastness of defense. It is similar to your Butterfly Dragon system, yet it in itself in not complete. I started with the intent to become the next Butterfly Dragon, but my path took me a much different direction, and in that process, taught me much about the nature of balance. In the extremes, the most difficult of times, we learn a great deal if we're observant. But it pays little in the accruement of wisdom to remain out of such balance for long. The little girl, she comes into this fray to learn the teachings from those who've lost their connection with what it was like to be in balance. For when she comes into the school. The Dojo, she was already there. The teaching strips you of your comfort, makes you familiar with the extremes so that when you come into balance, you can truly understand the concept. I believe that Warai should start the training, but that decision is part of her own fate, and the Butterfly's. Together, they will make the right choice, for there can be no other way," Aikiko finished her explanation quietly as the group digested it.

"Is there a reason why these martial arts are learned in the order that they are?" asked Braden.

"Most who are aware of the Temple Of The Butterfly Dragon would tell you that order doesn't matter in the training, but in all truth, the real mystery tradition would contradict that idea. The order is part of the perfection of the training, for it embraces balance. Ai Yuanlin Ying began with a tradition that literally translates to hard-soft warrior. The first few Kyu of progress in that tradition focus on the hard. Closed fist. Hard blocks. Quick hard strikes and kicks. Sanchin, the armour of the body. Then, as the student grasps this concept, they are gradually led into the soft technique. The open palm. Open handed blocks and strikes. By the time they've achieved first Kyu, their understanding of the hard and the soft as a tool of the warrior is complete. The Japanese way of the hard-soft warrior. The Goju-Ryu. That is the first stage of balance in the Butterfly Dragon tradition," Hanshi explained to them.

"Then the little Ai Yuanlin Ying came to meet the Tiger, and a Tiger she did meet. For even in balance, there is conflict. There is struggle. Two extremes constantly in conflict, each wanting dominance over the other, and that is where the third comes in. The lesser known way, for in any branching path of two sides, there is always the third choice. The one you make for yourself. To live to see outside of the box. The box that others construct for you. A train track with only two directions. Yet, if you can see that there are possibilities beyond that two-way track, you have understood that the track is only a paradigm built to keep you confined to a particular way of things. However, when you see this illusion, you are freed from it. So the Tiger builds strength and stamina, for to be so adventurous as to seek a path beyond the obvious requires but the strongest and heartiest of souls. This is the way of the Tiger. The Korean way. The two extremes are merely one way of seeing things, the third will take you beyond," Hoon Kwang explained of his Dojang's philosophy and its path on the learning of the Butterfly Dragon.

"That brought Ai Yuanlin Ying to my doorstep. The hard-soft of Goju-Ryu fresh in her form. The strength, stamina and reflexes of the Tiger also a foundation of her style, which sought to be freed by the addition of a third path from only two. To be able to see outside of the box and travel beyond it. Then into the Temple of the Butterfly Dragon Ai Yuanlin Ying came, where she learned that the third path leads to another bigger world. Based upon Gong Fu, Wing Chun and Taijijuan of the Chinese tradition. One made up of two choices, but within those two choices is another third. Do you succumb to the two extremes, or make your own path through the third in order to ascend and transcend the whole. Ironically, innocence is the ignorance of this knowledge. To be able to make decisions based purely upon one's own concepts of upon love, pain and experience. To be able to grasp not only one's own struggles, but that of others as well, and consider all things within this scope. You could say that the system of the Butterfly Dragon is all about achieving innocence, without the requirement of ignorance, for only then can one truly value its significance and meaning. Only then can one truly protect it and what it means. That is why the Gem has to start training immediately, for a little girl with such abilities, especially concerning the channeling of Chi, will wield a great ability over us all. She must be responsible for that knowledge and yet, be innocent enough to know where its use is best applied," Jinn Hua explained the last step.

"I say that we bring Aikiko Tanaka into our midst, as the second Butterfly," Hanshi suggested.

"With training, she would sway the balance away from the growing darkness..." Hoon Kwang agreed.

"It would seem that if we bring another Butterfly on board, that it would only be fitting if we also brought another Dragon too? I suggest that Braden is ready for the training," Jinn Hua suggested, offering both students as prospects.

"In the meantime, Warai and I will talk about what's best for her future, won't we honey?" Heylyn looked to Warai, who looked up to her surrogate mother.

"If I go to Butterfly school, does that mean I can't see you anymore?" asked Warai.

"To the contrary. You'll see me a lot more, because there's no way that I'm going to leave your training solely in the hands of these masters without my input. I'll be there as much a part of yours and their training too," Ai Yuanlin Ying promised Warai.

"Perhaps with such a group, we can overcome the grand hurdle that humanity will face very, very soon. The one that will determine its future forever," Jinn Hua spoke, referring to the group of friends and allies in the room on that very evening.

"We should discuss this further after our meeting tomorrow. We need the input of Zheng, Linda, Bryce, Doctor Briggs and Norler to help us here," Alicia suggested.

"I'm alright to reconvene this meeting tomorrow night, if you all are?" Hanshi offered.

"I'm fine too, as long as its after my afternoon class. I've got twenty students tomorrow until six in the evening," Hoon Kwang added.

"I can make it after court tomorrow..." Myung responded.

"Court? Are you a tennis player?" asked Monique curiously.

"No. I'm a courtroom stenographer," Myung laughed, as they all broke out together.

Monique caught on quickly and burst out laughing herself.

"Aikiko, I hope that there are no hard feelings?" Hanshi asked Aikiko.

"None, Hanshi. I've learned a great deal, and I hope that I've reciprocated as much?" asked Aikiko.

"That you have," Hanshi bowed once again, and from that moment, the Tanaka honour had been restored and preserved.


Within a dark realm, the shadows crept skirting flares of light emitted from the eyes of a tremendous serpentine dragon of scaly macabre.

"Mutano, you have failed me once again," the dragon known as Witherwyrm spoke in a language of thunder.

"They came with the masters of the Temple. The Butterfly Dragons..." Mutano remained low, the dragon only seeing the top of his head.

"You wield two blades, and you cannot obtain one little girl for me?" asked Witherwyrm of the other dragon.

"They are too powerful together, oh great one!" Mutano responded defensively of his failure.

"Then you shall take them each alone, lest you'd prefer I give your position to Jack?" asked the dragon, its voice booming into the infinity.

"That will not be necessary. I will do as you say. I will take them each alone, and then I will bring the little girl before you," Mutano agreed, sparing himself a horribly long and painful death.

To be continued...