“Does it have a name?” Jiang Yanli asked, her eyes gleaming as she patted her brother's head softly, her fingers sticking to the messy locks. Wei Ying scrunched his face, staring at the beautiful egg in his arms for a while before perking up and nodding enthusiastically.
“Yes! It is called Lan Zhan!” he explained proudly, looking from the egg to his sister, expecting praise.
The young boy had just returned from his stroll to the nearby forest, his task to collect some firewood. But instead of bringing back wood, he had ran to his sister and brother, all muddy and filled with scratches from head to toes, his head a chicken’s nest and the widest of grins on his tiny, chubby little face.
And in his arms haqd rested a huge egg the size of a melon. It was white, with blue, pearly undertones that shone bright under the sunlight as Wei Ying carefully turned it around in his arms.
“It’s a magical beast!” the young boy had chirped, his eyes sparkling as he stared at the egg in awe. “When it grows up, it’s going to be huge! The biggest beast there is!”
Before Jiang Yanli could open her mouth, Jiang Cheng let out a 'tsk' sound, seemingly unimpressed by the egg.
“What's with that name? I would've called it something cool, like Bluebell or--or White Jade!”
Wei Ying made barfing sounds at his brother, clutching tighter onto the egg. “Those names are dumb! It's Lan Zhan because it is blue! And it sounds way cooler, doesn't it, big sister?”
“It is a lovely name, A-Ying,” Jiang Yanli smiled, taking a nacre comb from the dressing table before patting the stool, looking at Wei Ying currently shaking his butt at an increasingly annoyed Jiang Cheng. “Please sit still for a moment, let me brush your hair.”
Wei Ying obeyed, carefully putting the egg on the stool before hopping on and taking it back to his arms. His sister untied his hair, raking her fingers tenderly to untangle the knots while the boy pet the scaly egg with tender movements, his tiny fingers curling as he felt the warm egg tremble under his touch. “Big sister, look! Lan Zhan moved! It means he loves me!”
Jiang Cheng, irritated after being ignored, pushed himself next to Wei Ying, a scowl on his face when he poked the egg. It stayed immobile, which made the young boy sneer. “You’re lying! I saw it, it didn’t move! A-Li, tell A-Ying he is being a dumb liar!”
“I’m not a dumb liar!” Wei Ying screamed, aiming a kick at Jiang Cheng, who planted on his butt on the floor while trying to dodge. Jiang Yanli smiled, placing the comb down before squatting down to check on Jiang Cheng, who looked like he would burst into tears any moment.
“A-Cheng, were you hurt?” she asked in a tender voice, pinching her brother’s cheeks when he shook his head. “Why don’t you go ask the kitchens if dinner is ready soon? Could you do me this favour?”
Jiang Cheng nodded, puffing his chest as he exclaimed, “I will help sister! I’m a big boy!”
A wide smile split to Jiang Yanli’s face, and she nodded before straightening Jiang Cheng’s robes. “Yes, A-Cheng is a big boy already.”
“A-Ying is big too! A-Xian found Lan Zhan!” Wei Ying chimed in, turning on the chair so that he could see his siblings. “A-Ying can go to the kitchen too!”
Jiang Yanli shook her head, helping Jiang Cheng up from the floor before turning to Wei Ying. “A-Ying is correct, he is a big boy too. But I need to brush A-Ying’s hair, so we can trust A-Cheng to check the kitchens now, can’t we?”
Eventually, Jiang Cheng ran to the kitchens alone, while Jiang Yanli finished brushing Wei Ying’s hair. While she was doing so, the tiny boy spoke in a rapid speed, mostly about Lan Zhan and all the adventures they would go to when the creature grew up.
The following weeks passed by with Wei Ying attached by hip to his egg, refusing to go anywhere without it, not even to bath. He slept with the egg, ate with the egg and went to adventures around the Yunmeng with the egg. If anyone tried to separate the boy from his Lan Zhan, it resulted in such loud screeching and sobbing that simply didn’t stop until Wei Ying had the egg back.
Even madam Yu had chosen to turn a blind eye at it after she had failed twice to forbid Wei Ying from bringing it to the dining hall. In the end she had relented by making the boy swear it’d stop once Lan Zhan had hatched, which Wei Ying had reluctantly agreed to.
But now, almost three months after Wei Ying had found the egg, something tragic happened.
The egg had disappeared.
Wei Ying had just woken up, and tried to hug Lan Zhan to kiss it good morning, as was the habit every morning. But the space next to him was void of the magical egg, his tiny hand hitting the cold mattress instead of the warm egg.
He let out a cry of despair, tossing the quilt off before jumping out of his bed, his eyes flying frantically around the room. He turned the mattress over, checked inside the pillows before kneeling to look under the bed.
His eyes widened when he saw something white flash before his eyes, wasting no time to stretch his arm out to pull the pile of eggshells out, his heart shattering when he thought he had accidentally dropped it.
"Ouch!" he cried suddenly, pulling his hand off only to find there was a deep cut crossing his palm.
Sorrow filled his heart, his hand shaking as he slumped down on the floor. He sniffed softly, his lower lip trembling as he failed to keep the fat tears from falling down his cheeks.
“I—I'm sorry…” he hiccuped, snot all over his puffy face as his sobs only grew louder. “Lan Zhan, I'm sorry! I didn't—didn't mean to k—kill you…”
His vision was blinded by the tears, and he couldn’t hear much from his own wailing. It was only after something landed on his shoulder that he froze, blinking his eyes when he felt something wet on his hand.
As he blinked the tears away, he nearly screamed when he saw a white, snake-like creature with blue horns and hair sitting on his arm with its tiny feet, its blue tongue licking the wound on his hand. The sensation felt odd, a little ticklish, but numbing at the same time.
The creature was immersed in its work, and didn’t stop until it had cleaned all the blood off. When it was finished, it checked the wound one more time before turning to Wei Ying, opening its tiny mouth to let out the weakest cry.
Wei Ying’s eyes widened, his mouth hanging open as he stared at the icy blue orbs staring at him with such tenderness, the tiny boy felt like the creature was looking straight into his soul. But the biggest shock came when he happened to glance at his hand.
The wound was gone, disappeared as if it had never even been there.
Wei Ying snapped his eyes back to the creature, his heart thumping so loudly in his chest he felt dizzy. Slowly, he brought his now healed hand towards the creature, petting its scaly head softly.
“Lan Zhan?” he asked, a smile breaking to his face when the creature seemed to perk up, recognising its name. It nuzzled into Wei Ying’s hand, letting out more chirping noises.
“It’s really you! Lan Zhan, I thought you were dead!” Wei Ying was now almost shouting, and he scooped Lan Zhan into his hands before standing up from the floor. Laughing aloud, he danced in circles around his room, peppering soft kisses into the creature’s forehead.
The door to his bedroom opened, and a concerned looking Jiang Fengmian stepped in, followed by Jiang Yanli who was carrying sleepy Jiang Cheng in her back. They all froze when they saw the scene, all their eyes fixed on the white creature curled around Wei Ying’s fingers.
When the boy noticed his family, he giggled before running over, lifting Lan Zhan so that everyone could see it. “Look! Look! It’s Lan Zhan! He fell from bed and then I got cut, there was so much blood! But it’s okay, Lan Zhan healed me! Look, my hand is all okay now!”
He held Lan Zhan with one hand while showing the healed one to the others, his beaming face looking expectantly at his father. “Isn’t Lan Zhan cool!?”
Jiang Fengmian was the first one to recover from the initial shock. He smiled warmly at Wei Ying before squatting down and ruffling his son’s unruly locks. “It is beautiful. Wei Ying, do you know which beast Lan Zhan is?”
Wei Ying shook his head, pressing Lan Zhan softly against his cheek while looking curiously at his father. “No, but Lan Zhan is the prettiest. And he can heal! So Lan Zhan is the best!”
Jiang Fengmian chuckled, carefully offering his finger to Lan Zhan, who looked at it with sour eyes, turning its tiny head away without giving the man any face. Jiang Fengmian could only put his hand back, the smile never leaving his face.
“It is a white dragon,” he explained. “There are dozens of different colored dragons, but you know what makes white dragons the most special from the others?”
Wei Ying shook his head, staring at his father with his wide eyes beaming with excitement.
“While most dragons have magic, the magic of white dragons is the strongest. You see the blue color on Lan Zhan’s body? That means he possesses a divine element, most probably water or ice, but I wouldn’t cross out wind or blue fire out.”
“Lan Zhan has more magic?!” Wei Ying screamed, twirling around, hugging Lan Zhan tighter while jumping enthusiastically up and down. “Lan Zhan really is the best!”
“You’ve found quite the treasure,” Jiang Fengmian nodded, standing up and walking out of the room, telling Wei Ying from over his shoulder, “Let’s go eat now, I can give you some books to read about dragons after breakfast.”
Satisfied, Wei Ying followed his father towards the dining hall, holding Lan Zhan against his chest while gushing about the dragon to his siblings. The dragon closed its eyes, curling into himself, feeling content under his human’s loving care.