Ever since the battle with Nezha at the Dragon Palace, Ao Guang had discovered that the power of mortals had grown stronger. For that, he disguised as a human to investigate into the mortal realm. This day, he visited the area where demons were raging. Unfortunately, his disguise was exposed soon and he had to fight the demon troops on his own.
Despite the triumph, Ao Guang was still injured, so he came to a lake to treat his wound.
“Someone’s approaching...Is that the demon’s reinforcement...Hide first!” Ao Guang then dived into the bottom for observation.
“Found it!” Turned out the visitor didn’t match Ao Guang’s speculation. It was a young human girl, whose beauty was untainted despite the plain clothes she wore.
The enthusiastic girl came to a huge tree at the lakeside. On the higher tree trunk, there were few vibrant flowers swaying in the light breeze. Unlike her fragile look, the girl climbed onto the tree, trying to pick the flowers.
“Argh...I’m so close...to the flowers——Whoa!” The girl slipped, falling into the lake.
“Falling from that height will drown her…” After a moment of hesitation, Ao Guang, who couldn’t sit back, jumped out of the lake to catch the falling girl.
“You’re reckless! If I wasn’t here you would’ve been dead!”
The girl giggled and said, “the way you talk is weird.”
“How dare you insult the God who blesses you with clouds and rain to nourish all flora and fauna——”
Before Ao Guang finished his words, the girl cut in by grabbing his arm.
“Oh no, you’re hurt! This is not good...Ah! I know there are some herbs around that can treat your wounds! I’ll go get some!”
“Wait——” Ao Guang reacted slower than the girl, who ran straight into the woods.
“Why are humans so impulsive? And she…” Ao Guang thought as he touched the scales on his arm, feeling the remaining warmth from her, “she wasn’t afraid of me.”
The intrigued Ao Guang stayed behind to wait for the girl’s return.
“Found it!” The girl jumped out of the bushes excitedly, startling Ao Guang.
“Did you...go to find herbs or a battle? Why do you look so messy?” Unable to withstand the mess, Ao Guang took away the leaves and dust on her hair.
“Huh?” The girl was embarrassed, looking at Ao Guang nervously. “I was afraid that you might have left, so I spent the least time as I could. Do I look ugly now?”
Ao Guang looked away, for he was too shy to be stared at by the girl. “You humans are all selfish and despicable to me. You’re all the same!”
“But you the mighty dragon lord saved me the selfish and despicable human,” said the girl, making fun of Ao Guang. She didn’t take it personal, for the kind girl here knew he only said it out of bitterness.
“Don’t call me that. I have a name. It’s Ao Guang.”
“Then hold still, Ao Guang. Let me treat your wound.”
The girl soaked a yellow-flower embroidered handkerchief into water; after cleansing wound, she smeared the grounded herbs onto it. Her movement was so gentle as if she was treating something delicate.
“No one has ever treated me like that. The warriors recognise me as the tough leader, but she...Such a vulnerable being is treating me so gently…”
Despite all the frustration and grief he had been through, Ao Guang had never made his vulnerability noticeable, for he must act tough as a leader. Ao Guang was amazed by everything the girl had done for him.
“You have quite a deep wound here. Remember to come back for your treatment tomorrow,” said the girl after bandaging Ao Guang with her handkerchief; yet the distraught Ao Guang refused immediately to avoid unnecessary distraction. “I don’t need care from humans. I won’t come again.”
“I’ll be waiting until you come,” said the girl determinedly.
Ao Guang dived into the lake without saying a word, returning to the Dragon Palace. For the next day, he devoted himself into working in order to avoid any stray thoughts. The moon had already come out when he finished all the works of the day. As he stared at the bright moon, the girl popped up in his mind again.
“She...should be gone,” Ao Guang mumbled.
“I’ll be waiting until you come.” Her words couldn’t stop lingering in his mind.
“...Maybe I should just check her out. After all, I owe her a favour for treating my wound. Right. Despite human’s foolishness, I can’t be ungrateful.” Ao Guang set off to the lake immediately after convincing himself with an excuse.
“...She’s not here.” Ao Guang was disappointed when he found no one at the scene. An ironic grin appeared on his face as he murmured, “humans are full of lies…”
Just when he was about to leave, a loud banging noise drew his attention. Turned out it was caused by the girl.
While the girl was moaning out of pain, Ao Guang rushed over to lift her up.
“What’s wrong with you? Last time you almost fell into the lake, and now you fell down from a tree. You’re going to get yourself killed soon if you don’t watch out for yourself——”
“Finally you came,” said the girl with a smile, ignoring Ao Guang’s lecture. With the wet hair and exhaustion written on her face, her gaze still brightened up when she saw Ao Guang.
“I climbed onto the tree because the rain was heavy earlier, but I fell off out of eagerness when I saw you. Now that you’re here, let’s start the treatment.”
The sincerity in her smile was irresistible to Ao Guang, who could not help but stand still to let her treat the wound.
“Remember to come back tomorrow,” said the girl, waving goodbye at Ao Guang. Meanwhile, Ao Guang stopped refusing like the last time, for he knew that he would show up.
Few days later in the afternoon, the two of them met at the lakeside again. Unwrapping the handkerchief, the girl smiled as she stared at Ao Guang’s arm.
“It’s all healed! The power of the mighty dragon lord is incredible. If it was for the mortals, it would’ve taken them at least months to heal.”
“It wouldn’t have healed so fast without your care.”
“Huh?” The girl was shocked by his response, while Ao Guang seemed to be confused by her reaction. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m shocked because I didn’t expect your gratitude.”
“I have my code of conduct. You helped me. Of course I’m grateful,” said Ao Guang, crossing his arms. “Do you have any wish? I can make it come true.”
“Nah. It’s not a big deal.”
“Anything is fine. Do you want power? Or fortune?”
“This stubborn dragon here won’t take no for an answer...” The girl came up with an idea as she pondered.
“Give me a tour to the Dragon Palace!”
Next second, Ao Guang took the girl into the lake.
“No need to hold your breath. I’ve casted a spell to let you breathe underwater.”
“It’s real! I can breathe in the water!” As the girl exclaimed, her thrilled expression amused Ao Guang. The rare smile on his face carried her away.
“Here, hold my hand.” Ao Guang’s gesture pulled the girl back to reality, who replied in perplexment, “what?”
“N-No, don’t get me wrong. I just want to make sure you’re with me.”
“Oh, right. I-I’m counting on you then,” said the girl holding his hand shyly.
Holding each other’s hand, Ao Guang showed the girl around the palace. The girl was amazed by the extraterrestrial place deep in the ocean, filling the dull place with her uplifting laughter.
Time flew; Ao Guang led the girl back to the land as the sun had gone down.
“I couldn’t believe such a heavenly place under the sea until I saw it with my own eyes! I’m gonna share my story to the people when I go back! Thanks for the tour,” said the girl smiling joyfully.
“It seems she likes the Dragon Palace so much. Maybe she would like to move in…”
“You…” Ao Guang hesitated to find himself the right word. “If you would like to come again, I——”
Two innocent voices cut in as two children ran over. Hugging the children, the girl asked surprisingly, “Why are you two here?”
“You’ve gone missing for too long. We’re worried about you,” said the younger brother of the girl.
“Dinner’s ready. Everyone is waiting for you,” said the younger sister of the girl.
“Alright, but you can’t go out on your own. It’s dangerous.” Despite the lecture the girl given to her siblings, her face was written with love. Then she resumed the conversation with Ao Guang and asked, “what were you trying to say?”
“She...has her own life that is completely different from mine…”
“...Nothing.” Ao Guang suppressed his feelings and turned around. “Let’s call it a day——”
“Ao Guang!” The girl called out desperately.
As Ao Guang looked back, his eyes met the girl’s sentimental gaze; Grabbing her collar tight, she said, “I...I’ll cook something tasty tomorrow. P-Please come over and have a bite, and take it as a token of my gratitude.”
“I should reject her. We’re fundamentally different and we’ll depart eventually. I need to reject her!”
“...Sure,” said Ao Guang who let his sensibility win over his sense.
As time went by, the two of them witnessed the changes in seasons. They had shared precious moments together, and the bonding between them had been growing closer and closer. No matter how much Ao Guang enjoyed this sweet time, there would always be an end to every sweet dream…
This day, Ao Guang came to the lakeside to meet the girl as they had agreed; yet the girl was nowhere to be seen. When Ao Guang started feeling something wrong, an explosion happened afar.
“That is the village she lives...Demons are raging in the proximity lately. Is she——” Scared by his speculation, Ao Guang summoned a water stream to carry him. The moment he arrived at the village, he caught the scene of demons slapping the girl.
Ao Guang’s fury erupted; Jumping down from the water stream, he slaughtered the demons in a split second. Yet his fury wasn’t that easy to be soothed.
“How dare you filthy demons hurt her! You’ll pay for your condemned sins!” Ao Guang wielded his sword to summon billows at the demons. In the nick of time, all raging demons were drowned as well as the houses in the village.
“Humph! A bunch of disgusting bugs,” said Ao Guang in disdain. At the moment he headed back to the girl, he was held back by what he saw——The girl’s siblings and the rest of the villagers were looking at him in awe. Their fearful gaze acted like a wake-up call, bringing Ao Guang back to this ruthless reality.
“These are the humans that I’m familiar with. Foolish, ignorant and fearful to powerful alien kind,” the heartbroken Ao Guang thought. “Us being together will bring nothing but misery…”
“Ao Guang!” When the girl ran towards him, he raised a water barrier to keep her away.
At this moment, Ao Guang tossed the flower handkerchief back to her, which had used to bandage him during their first encounter. The item that he had once treasured became the alibi of their ending.
On the half way of the departure, Ao Guang glimpsed at the girl holding the handkerchief crying. His heart was shattered as her tears dropped, but the decision had been made and he left without hesitation...