Twisting streamers of water flowed through the air. Droplets shone like gems, suspended motionless, floating without any visible support.
In the center of the tangled web, the formation of water, there was a fish. It was an ugly, drab brown carp. The most common sort of creature, his only redeeming qualities being the length of his whiskers.
The fish’s eyes were closed, and he spiraled in the nucleus of water. It was as if he was one half of the taijitu, circling endlessly as he concentrated upon the water.
A peach flew through the air.
The torrent of water whirled, snatching the fruit with unerring precision. A great maw opened, and bit down on the sweet, delicious, juicy---
The water streamers dropped, splashing back to earth pathetically, and a fish flopped to the ground.
Wa Shi’s eyes snapped open at the rank, foul betrayal, spitting out pieces of stone in disgust. It was nothing like the mud or rocks at the bottom of a river: nay, those contained tasty morsels to be pursued. This was just hard and crunchy, with no redeeming qualities save it’s texture.
“Keeping one’s composure when things are not as we wish is essential, little dragon.” The large, black turtle chided him. He looked spectacularly amused by this outcome.
Wa Shi scoffed. The old bastard had thrown real peaches the first few times. His sublime skill had ensured each one was directed to its rightful place: his mouth, as he remained suspended in the air. To betray his trust like this, the turtle would die a thousand deaths!
...or find rocks in unfortunate places. Yes, he was merciful after all.
He concentrated, drawing upon the water of the lake yet again. He didn’t know exactly how long he had been here, but he assumed it had taken several days, at the very least. The water had only started floating recently. It was a difficult task, and one that was made more difficult by the fact that his concentration had been so callously disrupted. But he rose again. The water heeded his call.
The turtle nodded his head, smiling.
“That's the way, little dragon. A momentary setback is just that: momentary.” The turtle declared fondly.
Of course it was just momentary. If at first you don’t succeed, try again. If at second you don’t succeed, beg for help.
The turtle guffawed loudly at that one, shaking his head.
“Now,, we shall discuss that most sublime mechanic, flow. A bit of a shame to have left it for this long, wouldn’t you say? Now, This one poses you this question: `What is flow?’”
“....I beg your pardon?” The turtle asked, confused.
Flow is Volume divided by Time Wa Shi repeated. The Boss used weird symbols for math. His mind screamed that they were wrong, somehow, but they obviously weren’t. That part was getting easy to ignore.
“Ah, This one meant in a more...metaphorical sense, but this works too.” The turtle decided, changing tracks. Wa Shi smirked. Of course, his knowledge stumped even old turtles. Truly, Wa Shi was a genius!
Sure, it took him several months of nonstop work to comprehend the fluid formula The Boss had started talking to him about, when he realised Wa Shi’s brilliance, but he was a fish er-- dragon! It was only natural that he figured these things out easily.
Though the fluid formulas had apparently been made for moving human waste, which was…. Well, he could just pretend that it was originally for water, instead of for this 'toilet'
“Now, This one sees. What else can you do with your math formations, little dragon?”
Wa Shi shrugged, and held up a steamer of water. It moved languidly through the air, flowing. He concentrated, and narrowed a section, squeezing down. The water sped up.
He squeezed until he could squeeze no more, the water flowing much, much faster. Not fast enough to cut, not yet, but well on it’s way to getting there. The turtle stroked his chin in contemplation and approval.
“Not the lesson that flow usually imparts, little dragon. Surprising, and in a life as long as mine, this surprise is a good one. Why, it took this one nearly a thousand years to realise water could cut!”
The turtle laughed his ohhohohohoho again. Wa Shi rolled his eyes. He was feeling the strain of this technique. How long had he been keeping this up for? He didn’t know.
A peach soared through the air towards Wa Shi. His water caught it, and he glared suspiciously at the offering for a moment. Satisfied it was not a trick, he bit into it, and felt a bit less tired.
The turtle settled down again.
“Now, where were we? Ah, yes, flow. Truly, a sublime force. Time flows. Blood flows, our emotions flow. Understanding flow is understanding a portion of the world.”
Wa Shi struggled to keep the steamers of water up as he listened. The old man loved to talk. He talked even more than Ri Zu when the tiny morsel got excited about medicine.
Oddly, he found himself missing the others slightly. Even Pi Pa. He would naturally strike her behind a hundred times when he retired home with his newfound strength, in revenge for all the embarrassments the saucy wench visited upon him.
….But that might upset Brother Chun Ke. Brother Chun Ke who shared with him his spoils when he went foraging.
He would content himself with but a single strike, just to listen to her squeal. Then, like the great dragon he was, he would be content.
He listened with half a mind to the old voice about the nature of flow. He thought mostly about food. His mind went blank.
The water spun and spun, swirling around him.
The black turtle observed the carp. His eyes were full of gentle amusement. By his Lord and Master, this one was the most amusing spirit beast he had met in centuries.
Truly, it was a fortuitous encounter. He was glad something had guided the little one here, if only to stave off his boredom and slumber. This hidden realm was beautiful, but got ever so boring.
He felt the whisper of movement again. It brushed around Wa Shi. The energy was… it was nearly invisible to him, but he felt the soft tremors of it’s passing. It checked on the carp, and satisfied with it’s health, fell away again.
But not before cheekily tugging his tail on it’s way out.
The turtle sighed, shaking his head. Cheeky, cheeky thing.
“Ah, respect your elders.” he chided empty air.
He felt a brief, intense flash of amusement. A feminine giggle.
He knew not what patron little Wa Shi had, but they were a good one. Really, concerned about a carp’s health. How truly strange.
One of the Servants of Xuanwu, the Black Turtle of the North, gazed upon the carp with warm eyes.
Nay, the little dragon. It would not do to be disrespectful.
He settled back down, observing. The water spiraled and twisted.