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In the Domain of the Golden Sun, part I - The Dragon Spring

Strange powers converge in the City; it is because of them, that I always feel the time flow here to be a flat circle, rather than a line. Everything repeats in cycles, but isn’t it true for all things in life? Just that we don’t really notice it that much elsewhere, but the City thrives on cycles. Another one is coming to an end just now, with winter months being its usual epilogue. After that, it’s all over; seems like nothing remains, and then with the first days of March the world is reborn, like the phoenix from the ashes. Until it happens, however, the City is gradually consumed by the dark, a vacuum sucking away all life and heat.

That does not mean there’s no joy to be found in the maze of the streets, and in the alleys of the parks. On sunny days, if they ever come, it’s still nice enough to take a stroll through the hills of the evergreen pines or check on the birds along the river. Yet those kind of days were rare this year, with every overcast sky and every gust of wind putting us all in a slightly darker place. It would be customary to seek help and solace on the Black Spirit Road, as there are ways there, hidden in the pits, of bringing some parts of us back to life, if only for a short time. But all of this is just magic tricks, curing the symptoms rather than the disease. As cycles pass by I become less and less inclined to dabble in blackness.

Then how to survive this period of absolute despair? This year, help came from a most unexpected source - and to sum up the two months of greyness and coldness, I devised the story to come.

Surely, you must have heard, Dear Reader, of the Great Sisters. It’s six of them, in total, each ruling a different realm of the City from atop of their mighty thrones. I have always been a faithful disciple of the Cloud Rock goddess, as she is the oldest and most motherly; the key is, however, to be aware of the subtle things going on between them, little favours and quarrels, and what it means to be the follower. For once, I knew from the very beginning that being on Cloud Rock’s side immediately puts me at odds with her greatest rival, the sister of the foulest temper - Golden Sun. I was thinking of a way to put it all nice, but to no avail. There it is, then, my humble opinion on her.

She’s a nightmare, her form reflecting her personality to the letter. Her bloated body spreads across the western flatlands, beyond the Great Gap, and if it wasn’t for this natural barrier separating her from the Cloud Rock she would have surely devoured her older sister in her insatiable greed. The faithful, like me, would question if she really belongs to the City at all - after all it’s all just papers and laws and regulations, but none of them can change people’s hearts, can they? Either way, she is there, hard to miss really. To make things worse she’s sporting quite a group of her own followers, those who find her cold, concrete arms’ embrace enjoyable. Her legs are wide, and empty, avenues of grey void (although, strangely enough her veins become clogged way too often). She has eyes of glass, thousands and thousands of them, all staring blankly into our greatest fear: future. Maybe this is why Cloud Rock’s and some other older sisters’ children can’t stand her gaze. It is a reminder of what will come one day. Perhaps not tomorrow, not in a year or a decade, but someday… The Glass Apocalypse. When it finally comes upon us all, then there will be no Cloud Rock, no Southern Righteousness, no Flower Brook. There will just be millions of soulless glass windows starting into the emptiness they created…

… I was supposed to go describing the evil sister and just like that I went to the vision of the Apocalypse - for that, Dear Readers, you will have to forgive me. But does it not say more about her than a hundred words if she conjures such thoughts? What I would like to add here before we move to the next part is that, curiously, she has recently tried changing her name. Well, more than tried - she actually did change her name officially, but likes of me will never be fooled. You will find it interesting to discover that before Golden Down became one of the Six she was a being so full of misery: poor, ugly and unwanted. Maybe it is that she’s desperately striving to leave her “shameful” past behind, and that’s why she does attract those with similar issues. After all shame is a powerful feeling - it makes us forget who we once were, and turns us into strange creatures: full of self-contradiction and loathing towards those who remind us of our past.

And so we come to the question of time, yet again. You can’t really worry about forgetting your past if you live in it, but… I suppose a follower of Golden Down would fire this one on the likes of me: everyone fears something. Let’s just say we all chose to live in different times and realms and perhaps it would be best if we were all just left to be? I know it’s just a fantasy, but it’s a pleasant one.

How then, can someone like me ever even dream of finding anything of interest in the realm of the Golden Sun? On top of that something that can put a smile on my face? Well, I hate to admit it but I sometimes visit that concrete land for a very down-to-earth reason: culinary pursuits. We all need to eat, I suppose, and as much as I love all the local foods the City provides me with, I sometimes find myself looking more for a taste of old home. Now even I often forget what it was like to have the old home, that is the one before the City embraced me - yet my stomach doesn’t seem to forget how good it feels to have a proper sandwich. Like a proper proper one. It’s only natural that the Golden Sun, with her affinity towards all that’s new and not local provides more things that can satisfy this treacherous part of my nature. So, I head there to hunt from time to time, more often in winter months as the weather makes me more inclined to stay at home and cook, while it whets my appetite at the same time.

There’s so much ugliness in Golden Sun that I will spare you, Dear Readers, descriptions of all the atrocities I have seen while in there. One area is in particular hollow, that is the Dragon Spring. I can only assume it is called so since the gray pikes of buildings protrude from the ground as some grotesque imagining of dragon bones; in the middle stands a half abandoned radio tower, and close to it you’d find two equally bizarre looking centrifuge towers. Now that I write about it I feel it all looks more like some weird spaceship of the future, a generation ship perhaps, buried just under the ground with its numerous wings breaking through the ground. One day the ground will shake, revealing the secret in fullness, the two centrifuges being colossal engines put into motion by some mysterious power. It will become the only part of the City to survive the end of times. How much more fascinating would that be? Instead, it is just a sordid display of plain architectural tastelessness.

It was on one of my food hunts that I was suddenly forced to get of the bus due to falling victim to a prolonged sensory abuse called Douyin (you might know it as Tik Tok, and you might even enjoy it, … Dear Reader). Whether because I was having a bad day, or because it was that loud, I left the bus on edge of the Dragon Spring. Although it was a rather cold day, one of the coldest in fact, it was sunny so I decided to take a stroll towards my destination and take a photo or two. You can often find beauty in the most unassuming of places, provided you know how to look… led by this notion I entered one of the streets leading into the bone graveyard.

I did not walk far before I saw something I had no idea existed amidst this concrete jungle - a small river. More like a creek really, with rows of winter trees on both sides, flowing just through the middle. So indeed there was a Dragon Spring! I knew I would have no chance of locating where it flew from, but I could at least follow it downstream to see where it goes. It would be an arduous task given the nature of Golden Sun in general, and the amount of construction going on about the place, but I decided to give it a try.

And there was something, I’m not sure, what, that happened as I was simply walking by this tiny forgotten rivulet. Cold air, yet a sunny blue sky. Naked trees not sporting their evergreen so common in the City. The greyness of walls on both sides resonating with this small strap of nature in the middle… it all made me remember things from beyond, from past before past. It was so soothing. Soothing as in it would wash away all the filth that collected on things each day I didn’t see the sun and each day I felt winter really was the most horrible time in the City. I remembered the times when I would walk down a similar river, in similar setting, only a lifetime ago. It was much colder, yet often sunny. I used to love that place so much. Surely, I will see it again in the future, so it’s not such a big deal; but on that winter day, having been trapped by the annoying Crown that Rules it All for so long, starved for nature walks and the sun - it all meant so much. Happiness, just like beauty, comes in all forms. To those who are looking for it.

Having told this story, I’m now having second thoughts on not considering Golden Sun a part of the City. If it wasn’t yet another of her mysteries unraveling before my eyes, then what was it? I cannot tell. What I know for sure is that, I followed the Dragon Spring as far as I could and found marvels enough to ensure me that there isn’t a Sister that does not deserve to have her stories written down in here.

As for the later part of the Dragon Spring journey? I’m afraid it will have to be a separate story.

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