Mountains (shan) in ancient China existed in various shades of mystery and awe. There were the verified homes of respectable spirits, like Tai shan, where the Sons of Heaven, the Emperors of China, worshiped the mysterious powers of the natural world. Then there were those where the spirits of China’s great religions held forth, like Emei shan in the west, home of the great Buddhist Bodhisattva Amitabha, or the equally famous Wu-Dang shan, home to some of the Daoist pantheon.
And then there were the homes of the popular spirits, like the famous Wu shan with its twelve peaks in the middle of the famous Three Gorges in the westernprovinceofSichuan. It was the abode of the legendary Rain Goddess. Her story dates back to early antiquity, when she is said to have seduced the King of Chu. She left him heart broken, however, when she returned to her natural form as the dawn clouds and evening rain. The howl of the gibbon is said to be the king’s eternal cry for his lost love.
Our story involves that glorious peak, but starts with an earlier adventure on a much lesser known mountain on the upper reaches of theLongRivernear the famed Three Gorges region. The local people refused to name this mountain because they feared it so much and felt it was better left anonymous. Normally, the mountain spirit would be displeased by such an obvious lack of respect, but since he was killed by a much more malevolent spirit it didn’t much matter.
According to the earliest gazetteers, Blood Dragons were destructive by nature. Thus, it was not unusual that the one in residence at the foot of this nameless mountain killed the local mountain spirit. Nor was it unusual that this Blood Dragon also enjoyed feasting on the blood of the local inhabitants, for that behavior was really the basis of their name. As immature Dragons, although such creatures were powerful, they were neither wise nor compassionate. They were opportunists, seizing whatever suited their advantage. Like politicians, they abused the weak and schemed to increase their power at the expense of others.
These creatures were difficult to thwart. According to ancient records, it took the combination of a heroic spirit with an invincible weapon to vanquish them. While finding a hero was difficult enough, even such status did not guarantee an easy time with an invincible weapon.