The bloodbath that is the revision of this manuscript required some heavy cutting and so this plot line and characters were cut. We thought you might enjoy it.
A young Chinese man stood in front of me. To say he was ridiculously handsome would be an understatement. Where Feichang was lean and moved like he’d be very fast, this one was broad-shouldered and strong. I’ve met him before. Julie had him over to study something with her and Ascanio. He’d spent half of the time giving the bouda quiet looks that suggested he really wanted to strangle him. What the heck was his name…
“Hi, Yu Fong,” I said.
“Greetings.” He inclined his head. “I came to see my brother.”
Oh goodie. “He’s on the back porch. Come in.”
What’s worse than a dragon? Two dragons.
I led him back to the back porch.
Feichang didn’t move. Didn’t even turn his head.
“You’re a long way from your territory, brother,” Yu Fong said.
“Is that so?” A light smile played on Feichang’s lips.
“It is. Do you need help finding your way back?”
“Would you point the right path?”
“It would be my pleasure.”
“It is fortunate for both of us then that I have an impeccable sense of direction.”
“If you’re going to fight, do it over there,” I pointed to the 500 Acre wood. “Away from our house.”
“Fight, no,” Feichang said. “I wouldn’t dream of spilling my brother’s blood while I’m a guest at your house. Thank you for your hospitality and delicious beer.”
He rose and walked across the lawn toward the pasture.
“You’ve grown, little brother,” he said, without turning. “Soon you will be big enough to fight.”
“I live every moment waiting,” Yu Fong said.
Feichang looked up at the sky. His body fell apart, unfolding and twisting into a massive serpentine shape. My heart skipped a beat. A Chinese dragon, pale grey of a sky just before the dawn, glided through the air with liquid quickness of a swimming snake. He raised his head, at once lupine and dragon, and looked at us with eyes of pure turquoise, luminescent from within like two translucent precious stones. The dragon smiled, showing saber-long teeth, and streaked into the sky.
It was the most incredible thing I had ever seen.
Yu Fong watched him go with a flat expression on his face.
“Is he really your brother?” I asked.
“What makes a man your brother?” Yu Fong asked. “Would a brother let his brother suffer for months, starved, confined to a cage while pieces of him were cut out and sold like choice parts of a pig?”
Okay. Touched a nerve there.
“May I ask why he came?” Yu Fong asked.
“Roland made him an offer,” Curran said.
“Will he support Roland?”
“We don’t know,” I told him. “Perhaps.”
“Then I will support you against Roland,” he said.
“What if your brother stays out of it?” Curran asked.
“I’ll still support you,” Yu Fong said. “I’ll defend my lands.”
I arched an eyebrow at him.
“You think they’re yours, but you are just borrowing them from me for a while.” Yu Fong smiled. “Thank you for your hospitality.”
Curran walked him out. I finished what little was left of my beer. The Witch Oracle was right. Beware the bloody dragons.