Day One: As Flies to Wanton Boys
So, who is this mysterious white haired gentleman?
This is Fou-Lu, who, as you can tell by the awesome tomb and badass looking attendent, is pretty damn important.
Speaking of attendants, there are none waiting for him, whcih surprises our Shishi friend Won-Qu.
What's a Shishi?
Basically, a Shishi is to lions as Questing Beasts are to giraffes.
An interpretation of an African animal as defined by people who had only the vaguest of ideas of what the African animal in question was. (See also: The Ant-Lion, Cameleopard, Saint George's Dragon and for an non-African, non-animal version see The Vegetable Lamb of Tartary.)
The Chinese knew what the outside of a lion looked like, but no one had bothered to tell them that they're more like tigers than dogs. (This happens a surprising amount, see the Bird of Paradise and the Arab traders who cut their legs off and told their European customers that they didn't have them.)
So we have these rad looking semi-mythological creatures like Won-Qu here.
Although he's surprised at the lack of a celebratory party waiting for their arrival, Fou-Lu here is not, but then again, he doesn't think much of mortals.
He commands Won-Qu to guard his tomb as he heads towards the capital.
Soon enough he is attacked by a creature and we learn some important things about him.
Mostly that he is incredibly strong.
Check this out.
|He's also hot.|
This comports well with how strong he is presented in the narrative, where he runs into a couple of soldiers.
They vaguely threaten him, in that way that soldiers who have no reason to fear a person, but have their orders to guard something do.
They're not very bright, though, so Fou-Lu gets them to explain what they're doing there with absolutely no effort despite them asking what he's doing there first.
The explain that they've been put on guard because some kind of dragon is supposed to appear that night.
They also tell him that their job is to destroy it, because nothing can stand up to the might of the Imperial Army and we all immediately know where this is going.
Unsurprisingly, Fou-Lu summons a dragon and explains to the soldiers how crap humans are before it proceeds to destroy them.
He also has that slightly odd word order that early modern English/late middle English has. As far as 'apeing Shakespeare but making sure the player can understand it' goes, this is a pretty solid example.
After the murder of two relatively innocent soldiers (there was a war on recently), we cut to Zog waking up with a start before presumably falling asleep again.
Back to Fou-Lu and we continue his journey towards the capital, on the way he runs into an old man curled up into a ball and wreathed in shadow.
Here we get a better explanation of who Fou-Lu is, he's the first Emperor of the not at all narcicisstically named Fou Empire who has returned after a long period of rest for some destructive purpose.
Clearly, however, the Empire has no wish to be destroyed, so the guy who looks like it's Red Nose Day every day of the year sets a boss monster on us.
It looks pretty cool, I'm a fan.
Oh, yeah, the staple of the series has once again returned.
|We'll get cooler ones later.|
This theme continues to be shown by the way that a whole bunch of soldiers show up once the battle ends.
The skinny legged old guy with the red nose observes that the Emperor isn't quite at full strength, isn't quite... complete.
At this point I need to bring up that upon his waking, Fou-Lu and Won-Qu did mention something about a power being out there that would be useful.
I think we're all on the same page here, so I'll continue by saying that after some banter where Fou-Lu goes on about his lack of respect for mortals, and the old guy is all 'dude, go back to sleep, dude', Fou-Lu Dragon Ball Z leaps his way up a rocky slope and throws a parting threat before retreating into the forest.
Which the soldier proceed to promptly set on fire.
To be fair, Fou-Lu does seem to be a threat to the existence of the Empire, but on the other hand, this seems a bit... over the top? Ill-advised?
Ill-advised, that's the one.
Defeating a god emperor is all well and good, but if your entire country has been burned to the ground, there wasn't much point, was there?
Apart from the rampant environmental destruction, this was actually a pretty good plan on their part, Fou-Lu even says so.
|Which is high praise indeed, coming from this asshole.|
The old guy and some soldiers headed him off at the pass and he finds himself sandwiched between them and more soldiers on a bridge over a chasm.
It turns out that the Emperor of a country heavily based on China who can turn into a dragon has a strong affinity with water.
Who'd have guessed?
While we're here, we learn who the old guy is.
|Yohm, you're on the list.|
I think my favourite thing about this section is that it shows us that Fou-Lu is a powerful being with a long history behind him, but that doesn't prevent people who have spent what's probably been decades planning for his return and know enough about him to know what his weaknesses are from getting one over on him.
Prophesied heroes and villains have an alarming tendency to have it all their own way in fiction. For villains this is usually at the beginning, and for heroes it's usually at the end.
Here, however, Fou-Lu is having no easier a time achieving his goals than Zog and Nina are theirs.
And speaking of...
In the opposite vein to falling, we return to Nina and Zog who have made their way back up to the clifftops so that they can continue their journey to Sarai.
Nothing of note happened on on the way, but upon arriving, they decide to go their separate ways. Nina's a nice girl, but she's got sandflier parts to source and a hunky cat-dude on the edge of the desert waiting for her to report back, she's not swimming in time to help mysterious naked dudes.
So, we're down to just Zog and we'll find out what's waiting for us Sarai next time, in Part Three.