New Dragon Land : Saga of the Dragon Steward

Prologue: The Dragon's Quake 

In the year 1556, the ancient land of Shanxi, China, was wracked by a catastrophic earthquake, claiming the lives of nearly 830,000 souls. It was recorded as the deadliest quake in history. At the same time, far from the devastation, a Portuguese Dominican friar named Gaspar da Cruz penned one of the earliest detailed European accounts of the Middle Kingdom. Born in Évora, his journeys across Asia culminated in the seminal work, 'A Treatise of China', wherein he marveled at the exotic complexities of the Chinese script and divine practices of divination through oracle bones, guided by ancestors who were in communion with eternal spirits.

While in the region of Guangzhan during the earthquake, da Cruz interpreted the calamity as divine retribution for sin, linking it with the appearance of a great comet that year. However, unbeknownst to him and contrary to his conjectures, the true cause of the disaster was not divine wrath but the stirring of a celestial dragon named Dilong—the most revered and powerful creature in Chinese mythology, a guardian of weather and arbiter of natural order, whose movements beneath the earth had unwittingly unleashed the devastation.

Dragons, in ancient China, were not merely symbols of imperial lineage but were integral to the fabric of all societal and architectural elements, embodying the Emperor's divine right and celestial authority. It was said that the Yellow Emperor, a deity himself, transformed into a dragon and ascended to the heavens upon his death.

In a distant part of China, as da Cruz documented the quake’s effects in his manuscript's final chapter, the mythical Dragon King, or Long Wang, god of all dragons and controller of the seas and weather, had taken notice of the Portuguese friar. The Dragon King, a warrior in human guise with robes of intricate design and a fiery demeanor, had other plans. He envisioned da Cruz playing a pivotal role in a grand design—unifying the East with the nascent discoveries of the West.

Thus, under the silvery veil of a comet-streaked sky, Long Wang approached da Cruz, proposing an audacious expedition. He offered not only his divine patronage but the allegiance of his brethren, the dragons of the Four Seas, to guide da Cruz across the vast and uncharted waters and landscapes. This journey would not be by sea, however, but via a route long forgotten since the last ice age—a land bridge once connecting Asia with North America. 

As Gaspar da Cruz set forth from the shores of China, guided by ancient spirits and celestial dragons, he embarked on a voyage that would forge a new legacy—a realm beyond the known world, a dominion of dragons and men, where the echoes of the old world would resonate in the new. Thus began the age of the Dragon’s Dominion, as the quills of fate inked the opening chapter of a saga that would intertwine the destinies of continents and the annals of time. 

Chapter 1: The Stirring of Dilong 

In the year 1556, beneath the vast, mystic expanse of China's Shanxi province, the celestial dragon Dilong stirred from his ancient slumber. Legends whispered of such creatures—guardians of the Earth's deepest secrets and wielders of formidable elemental powers. Dilong, the earth-shaker, had lain dormant for centuries, coiled around the heart of the world. But even in his rest, the land remembered his presence, for every minor tremor was a mere whisper of his immense might.

Meanwhile, several provinces away, in the bustling region of Guangzhan, Gaspar da Cruz, a Portuguese Dominican friar, arrived with a heart full of curiosity and a mind eager to absorb the profound mystique of the Orient. Born in the serene town of Évora, Gaspar had journeyed far, driven by stories of a land where the past and present danced in a delicate harmony, and where the divine touched the earth in the form of written characters and rituals steeped in centuries of tradition.  

Gaspar had come at a time of celestial omens, under the shadow of a great comet that streaked the sky—a herald of change and, perhaps, calamity. As he settled into his quarters, his thoughts were on his mission—to document, to understand, and to convey the rich tapestry of Chinese culture back to a Europe gripped by an insatiable hunger for knowledge of the world beyond its borders.

His days were spent roaming the vibrant markets, the quiet temples, and the sprawling libraries of Guangzhan, where scrolls upon scrolls told of histories intertwined with myth. Here, Gaspar learned of the oracle bones—tools of divination, through which kings and priests had once conversed with the ancestors. And within these bones lay stories of dragons like Dilong, who controlled the very forces of nature.

As Gaspar delved deeper into the spiritual core of the Chinese civilization, his fascination grew with the notion that these dragons were not merely mythological but vital to understanding the natural phenomena that shaped this land.

One evening, as Gaspar sat by the light of a flickering lantern, penning down his observations in a leather-bound journal, the ground beneath Guangzhan began to tremble. At first subtle, then growing furiously in intensity, the tremors sent villagers scurrying for cover, their cries filling the air as porcelain shattered and temple bells rang in chaotic chorus.

In the heart of Shanxi, Dilong awoke fully, his mighty coils shifting the layers of the earth. The land buckled and heaved, creating a chasm of despair as mountains swayed and rivers altered their courses. The quake was felt throughout the empire, its devastation monumental, the toll heartbreaking—nearly 830,000 souls perished in mere moments.

In the aftermath, as Gaspar assisted with the recovery efforts, he penned his thoughts, attributing the disaster to divine retribution—a punishment for sins untold, linked perhaps to the ominous comet. Yet, his heart wrestled with questions of faith and fate, pondering the true nature of the divine forces at play. 

Unseen by Gaspar, in the celestial realms above, the Dragon King, Long Wang, observed the mortal realm. He saw in Gaspar a potential herald for a grander design, a bridge between East and West. The king knew that the stirring of Dilong was no mere accident but a prelude to a greater awakening.

Deciding it was time to intervene, Long Wang summoned his form—mighty and majestic, robed in the tempest of the seas and the whisper of the wind. He would appear to Gaspar, offering not only explanations but a covenant that would change the course of history. For in the wake of disaster lay the seeds of a new beginning, and Gaspar da Cruz was to be its sower.

Thus, under the watchful gaze of the celestial court, a new chapter was poised to unfold—one that would intertwine the fates of dragons and men in a saga of discovery and creation.

Chapter 2: The Covenant of the Dragon King 

The earth had barely settled from its violent upheaval when Gaspar da Cruz, amidst the ruins of shattered homes and grieving survivors, encountered a being of such majesty and power that it seemed to eclipse the surrounding devastation. Long Wang, the Dragon King, materialized before him in a guise that straddled the line between man and myth. Adorned in robes that rippled with the fluid grace of the ocean, his eyes shimmered with the depth of ancient waters, and his presence commanded the air itself.

"Gaspar da Cruz," the Dragon King's voice resonated, both in the air and in Gaspar's mind, a profound telepathy bridging language and understanding, "you have witnessed the might of Dilong, whose stirrings reflect not wrath but a call to awaken and unite."  

Gaspar, though startled, felt an inexplicable calm settle over him. The Dragon King’s aura was overwhelming yet oddly reassuring. He managed to kneel in a gesture of respect, his heart pounding with a mixture of fear and fascination. "Your Majesty," he began, his voice a whisper against the might of Long Wang's. "I am but a humble servant of knowledge. How may I serve you, and what is it you wish of me?"

Long Wang looked towards the horizon, where the sun began to cut through the dawn mist. "The world is vast, Gaspar, and its stories manifold. The East and the West hold pieces of a greater truth that must be united. You are to be the bridge. With my guidance, and the aid of my brethren, the dragons of the Four Seas, you shall embark on a journey to lands unknown to your people, to forge a new realm of understanding and peace."

Gaspar listened, his scholar's mind racing to grasp the implications of such a quest. "And these lands... how shall I reach them? The journey must be perilous, and the seas unkind."

"Indeed, the path is fraught with challenges," Long Wang conceded, his voice like the deep currents of the ocean. "But not by sea alone will you travel. I offer you the passage through the ancient land bridge once walked by the ancestors of many—Beringia. It connects the mighty kingdoms of the East to the vast wilderness of the North."

The thought of such an expedition excited and terrified Gaspar in equal measure. To cross continents, to possibly enter lands spoken of in hushed legends—it was the making of history. "And the dragons?" he asked tentatively.

"You shall not be alone," assured Long Wang. "My brothers—Ao Run of the West Sea, Ao Qin of the South China Sea, Ao Guang of the East China Sea, and Ao Shun of the North—will guide and protect you. They will ensure your passage is safe and your mission successful." 

Overwhelmed by the enormity of his task, Gaspar took a deep breath, looking into the wise, ancient eyes of the Dragon King. "And what is expected of me in return?" he inquired, knowing well that such divine intervention did not come without its price.

"You are to establish a kingdom where none exists, bringing together the wisdom of the East and the curiosity of the West. Your writings will serve as the foundation for this new land," Long Wang detailed, his voice echoing with the promise of destiny.

Gaspar da Cruz, feeling the weight of centuries upon him, nodded solemnly. "I am honored, and I shall strive to fulfill this covenant with all my heart and soul."

With a nod that stirred the air like a gentle gale, Long Wang concluded, "Prepare, Gaspar. Gather your knowledge and your courage. When the moon meets the horizon at the eve of the next full cycle, meet me at the shore where the earth touches the sea. There begins your journey." 

As the Dragon King dissipated like mist under the rising sun, Gaspar stood alone amidst the ruins, a man touched by the divine, entrusted with a mission that bridged worlds. He knew the road ahead would be fraught with more than physical dangers; it would challenge his beliefs, his resolve, and the very essence of his understanding of the world.

Determined, he returned to his quarters, his mind ablaze with the monumental task ahead. He began to prepare, documenting everything he had learned so far, and pondering the future. As he packed his scrolls and tools, his heart beat with a new purpose—not just to explore, but to unite and to build. The covenant with the Dragon King was not only a directive; it was a calling to change the very fabric of the world.

Chapter 3: Across the Beringian Bridge  

The eve of the next full moon found Gaspar da Cruz standing at the shore where the earth kissed the sea, the horizon painted with the silvery glow of moonlight. Here, the dragons of the Four Seas awaited him, their forms massive and majestic, blending with the sea spray and the mist. Ao Run, Ao Qin, Ao Guang, and Ao Shun—the guardians appointed by Long Wang—bore the distinct traits of their domains, from shimmering scales reflecting the depths of the oceans to eyes glinting with ancient wisdom.

Gaspar, carrying his life’s work in a series of tightly bound scrolls and a heart full of resolve, approached the dragons. Their presence was awe-inspiring, yet a comforting warmth emanated from them, easing the chill of the ocean breeze. "I am ready," he declared, his voice steady, carried by the wind.

Ao Run, the dragon of the West Sea, bowed his great head, a gesture of acceptance and respect. "We shall carry you across the frozen lands once connected by Beringia. The journey will be perilous, but fear not, for our protection is yours," he assured in a rumbling tone that vibrated through the very sands beneath Gaspar's feet.

The journey began at the edge of the world, where icy winds howled and the sea met the frozen tundra. Gaspar, mounted upon Ao Run, with the other dragons flanking them, traveled across the stark, white landscape. The land bridge that connected the continents was a frozen stretch, daunting in its expanse and treacherous with hidden perils beneath the snow.

As they traveled, Gaspar observed the land and the sky, taking notes and sketches, his scholar's curiosity undampened by the cold. His companions, the dragons, spoke of ancient times, of the world’s creation, and of the spirits that guarded the secret paths between the worlds. These tales wove into Gaspar’s understanding of the world, enriching his perspective and deepening his respect for these mythical creatures.

The nights were long in this part of the world, and during these times, Gaspar would often see the dragons communicate silently among themselves, their eyes glowing like stars against the dark canvas of the night. On occasion, they would encounter indigenous tribes, their lives adapted to the harshness of the landscape. These people regarded the dragons with a mixture of reverence and fear, offering tributes and prayers. 

Gaspar interacted with the natives, facilitated by Ao Shun, the dragon of the North, who translated their languages. From them, Gaspar learned of their legends—stories of great beasts and gods who walked the earth, of ice bridges and starlit paths that connected worlds. This knowledge was priceless, providing a deeper insight into the interconnectedness of human myths and beliefs across continents.

Halfway through their journey, as they approached what is now known as Alaska, the landscape transformed. The ice receded, giving way to vast forests and rugged mountains. Here, the dragons cautioned Gaspar of the new dangers: wild beasts and unpredictable weather. But they also spoke of the beauty and the bounty of the land, of rivers teeming with fish and woods abundant with game.

One evening, under the aurora-lit sky, a vision came to Gaspar. It was as if the ancestors, those spirits spoken of in the oracle bones, were showing him a glimpse of the future—a thriving kingdom where East meets West, a land of peace and prosperity. Inspired by this vision, Gaspar wrote fervently, his words a testament to his dreams and aspirations for this new land. 

As they neared the end of their journey across the Beringian Bridge, Gaspar looked back at the path they had traversed. It was marked by challenges and wonders, a testament to the resilience of those who dare to dream and explore. Ahead lay the untamed wilderness of a new world, ripe for the founding of a new kingdom—a realm that would be a bridge not just between East and West, but between the ancient and the new, the mythic and the real.

With a renewed sense of purpose, Gaspar da Cruz prepared to step into the unknown, guided by the dragons and guarded by the blessings of the ancestors. Here, at the edge of the world, he was ready to build New Dragon Land, a legacy of his covenant with the Dragon King. 

Chapter 4: The Founding of New Dragon Land 

As the early light of dawn crept over the horizon, painting the vast, uncharted wilderness of what would come to be known as Alaska, Gaspar da Cruz stood at the threshold of history. The dragons, his faithful guardians and guides, circled above, their majestic forms casting long shadows across the verdant landscape spread out before them. This was the place chosen by fate and foretold by the stars—a place where a new kingdom, New Dragon Land, would rise.

Gaspar and his dragon companions surveyed the land, choosing a site near a wide river that flowed through dense forests and opened into a fertile valley. "Here," Gaspar declared, his voice carrying across the wind, "we will lay the foundation of a new realm, where the wisdom of the East will meet the pioneering spirit of the West."

The dragons, in response to Gaspar's resolve, unleashed their powers to shape the land. Ao Guang, the dragon of the East Sea, called forth rains to nourish the soil, while Ao Run, the dragon of the West Sea, carved out a basin for a lake that would serve as a natural reservoir. Ao Qin, from the South China Sea, warmed the air, encouraging growth, and Ao Shun, the North Sea dragon, fortified the land against the encroaching cold with a barrier of winds.  

With the land thus prepared, Gaspar set about organizing the construction of the settlement. Using the techniques he had learned in China and the materials provided by the new land, he directed the building of sturdy, insulated dwellings, communal halls, and watchtowers. Each structure was designed to be a fusion of East and West—wooden frames with intricate carvings reminiscent of the great temples of China, and stone bases similar to the fortresses of Europe.

As the settlement grew, word of this new land spread, drawing adventurers, scholars, and dreamers from across the continents. Ships arrived bearing those eager to be part of this new society, bringing with them their skills, their hopes, and their diverse cultures. Among them were artisans, scientists, and philosophers, all drawn by the promise of a new beginning.

The dragons, too, contributed to the kingdom’s growth. They taught the settlers advanced agricultural techniques and shared their deep knowledge of the natural world, helping to cultivate a variety of crops that thrived in the enriched soil. The abundance of food supported a rapidly growing population, and soon, New Dragon Land became a bustling hub of trade and innovation.

As the first anniversary of New Dragon Land's founding approached, Gaspar planned a grand festival to celebrate the achievements of his community. The festival would also serve as a coronation of sorts, where he would officially take on the role of the steward of New Dragon Land, as ordained by Long Wang, the Dragon King.

The coronation ceremony was held on the banks of the newly formed lake. The four dragons, each representing a cardinal direction and a season, performed a breathtaking aerial dance, weaving around each other in a display of grace and power. The people of New Dragon Land, representing many nations and cultures, watched in awe, united in their shared admiration for the dragons.

Gaspar, dressed in a robe that blended the styles of his Portuguese heritage with the silks of China, stepped forward. Long Wang, manifesting once more in his majestic human guise, placed a crown upon Gaspar's head—a simple, elegant circlet of gold, crafted by the finest artisans of the land.

"Let this crown be a symbol not of dominion, but of stewardship," Long Wang declared. "Under your guidance, Gaspar, let New Dragon Land be a beacon of harmony, a place where diverse cultures learn from each other and grow together."  

With the crown upon his head, Gaspar addressed his people, his voice full of emotion. "Today, we stand together as a family, diverse yet united. Our journey was guided by the dragons, but it is our shared dreams and hard work that have built this home. Let us continue to build, to dream, and to thrive. Let New Dragon Land be forever a testament to what can be achieved when hearts and minds are joined in pursuit of a noble cause."

As the celebrations continued into the night, the skies above New Dragon Land were lit by the auroras—nature's own festival of lights. The dancing spirits of the north seemed to bless the land and its people, a sign that the ancestors, too, approved of this new chapter in the saga of humanity.

Thus, New Dragon Land stood as a beacon of hope and unity, a kingdom where the legacy of East and West was woven into the very fabric of its society, guarded by dragons and blessed by the stars. And under Gaspar's wise and benevolent rule, it would flourish for generations to come, a shining example of the power of unity and the enduring spirit of exploration and cooperation.