For days, it was a battle to keep her mother alive. They tried all the antidotes they could find and pored through all the manuals. Her father roared with anger, but privately, he sat beside his beloved wang fei and held her hand. He kept vigil for nights.
Xiao Xiao felt rage inside her so fierce, so hot, it was a sun. How could they? Why could they? Coupled with the dragon's rage, she burned.
At last, by the end of the third week, they found the antidote. Xiao Xiao discovered the recipe, hidden along the margins of the medical manual, written in neat characters and with clear descriptions of the herbs needed for the concoction. She didn't know who the author was, only that she was immensely grateful for the kindness shown. Such wisdom, such gentleness.
It would save her mother.
Help me, Xiao Xiao said to Ming Zhu in the dream-but-not-dream place. Help me.
I know who gave the order, Ming Zhu whispered back. Now fully recovered, she shimmered like a kelp forest in the rays of the sun. There is treachery in the women's quarters. Friends who are enemies with masks on their faces.
Then without any word to Xiao Xiao, Ming Zhu turned swiftly in the dream and soon disappeared with a flash of silver scales and cascade of bubbles.