I'll be back to posting next month. Probably...
But for now, please put your hands together for Lee!
What's this Sign of the Green Dragon anyway?
|A Vintage Poster|
First, it's called Cang Long of the East or Qing Long Xing, Green Dragon Star, and it appears every year in spring in the eastern sky. In Chinese mythology it represents the essence of all devine creatures, and the first mention of it is about 3,000 years ago. In 10 BC it was linked to the length of the seasons and meant to help farmers calculate their planting and harvesting of crops. Because of the dragon properties, it also gave protection to those needing it. (I'm really simplifying all of this. But after thousands of years you can imagine the stories and the complications.)
I've always been fascinated by Asian mythology, so when I read about this star and its significance, I tucked the information away until I found a story to connect it with. Years later, the story I needed came to me on a visit to Virginia City, Nevada. I have no idea how that happened, but it must have been the open sky that wasn't dimmed by city lights as well as the historical period of an early mining town that somehow triggered Sign of the Green Dragon.
I decided to use the sign (a series of six dots) as a secret code and set my characters on a quest to find out what it meant. I needed more to make the story possible, so I added a note written in the 1800s and a crumbling skeleton just to spice up the adventure.
Here's the scene where the kids (Sam, Joey and Roger) find the note. They've discovered a secret room after an earthquake has shattered a wall of their cave hideout. In this room is a large chest with a dragon carved into its top.
Sam inched forward and aimed the flashlight inside the chest. “Uh oh.”
“What?” Joey gasped.
“It’s a ... well, kind of a ... skeleton.”
“Awww,” Roger screamed, ran, tripped, and sprawled on his stomach.
“It can’t hurt you, Roger,” Sam said. “Come on. Take a look.” One thing about being in a family of paleontologists, you got used to bones.
Roger quick-shook his head. “No. No. No.”
Joey took three slow steps and stood next to Sam. “Sweet. A dead guy. Man, let’s get out of here.”
“Hold this.” Sam handed Joey the flashlight. “Keep the light on him, okay?”
The skeleton was partly covered by a tattered shirt and pants. Bony fingers clutched a wooden box with a piece of thin metal about two inches long on its top.
Reaching inside, Sam tried to pry the box from the skeleton’s grasp, but the finger bones fell through the rib cage and clattered to the bottom of the chest. The box lodged between the ribs.
The light jiggled in Joey’s hand. “Come on Sam, enough already.”
Sam picked up the thin metal piece from the top of the box, and held it under the light. One end of it was bent at a right angle. A faded red tassel looped through the other end.
“Here, take this.” Sam handed Joey the strange object, then reached inside the chest and gripped the box. He lifted it slow and easy. It could be a trap. It could be dangerous. His hands twitched and the edge of the box caught on a rod that held the chest lid open. He barely snatched the box free before the lid crashed down.
What sounded like an angry dragon exploded around the cave.
The walls trembled, and the floor heaved under foot.
And so the story begins. . .