A man is sitting at the backyard with his son. The son looks to be the same age as the girl. The man appears worried at the spectacle, but the boy seems more curious, and a bit nervous. “This is my daughter, Luminous Blossom”, the woman says composed. “I apologise for the way she looks. Seems like she’s found another animal that needs her help. Why she looks that way, though, is really a mystery. This is Flaming Dragon and his son Raven. Your father will be working with Flaming Dragon. We are all hoping that you and Raven will get along well.”
The girl sniffs, and tries to pretend she wasn’t crying. She makes a small curtsey and looks pleadingly at her mother. “Excuse us a moment!” The woman leads the girl away into the house. She opens a cupboard and finds an old towel and spreads it on the table. “Now, let’s see what we’ve got.” The girl gently puts the kitten on the towel. It makes a weak sound that faintly resembles how cats sound like. The amount of the damage is clearer now. The kitten is bleeding from several wounds. It’s missing one ear, and part of the tail. It has several small puncture-wounds on the paws and one eye can only be closed partly, because the lid is cut. But the worst wound is the long cut on the belly. Blood is oozing from that wound, despite the girl still holding one hand over it, trying to squeeze it together. A flash of anger flares across the mothers face as she realise this has not happened by accident. She opens another cupboard and finds some salve and needle and thread. Then she gently moves her daughters hand away. She applies some salve, and sews up the wound. She washes the other wounds and applies salve to them too, all the while the girl stands quietly by. “Is she gonna be all right, mum?” The question is barely a whisper. “I don’t know honey. She needs rest. And she needs to stay warm. If you sit with her, I’ll get you a blanket.” The girl gently lifts the kitten from the table and sits in the corner. She tries to stop herself from crying. The woman comes back moments later with a cup of tea and a blanket, which she wraps around the girl. “Now, tell me what happened”. The girl looks up and tries to tell the story between sobs. “It was… some boys… I was walking home, and decided to cross through the forest. They were whooping and… yelling. Then I saw the kitten.” At this she starts to cry loudly and it takes her awhile to calm down. “They were… cutting… with a knife… and… she… she made this sound… like a thousand lotus flowers withered… So I couldn’t help myself… I kicked the one doing it… I am sorry for not behaving lady-like… And then they all started punching me… But I bit one. And I might have kicked another one in a very bad place. And while they were preoccupied with him, I… I got up… And then I grabbed the kitten and ran away… … … I am sorry I was in a fight mum, but can you wait with the punishment till she’s ok? I’m really sorry.” And then she starts crying again. The woman smiles sadly and puts her hand on the girls cheek, whipping away a tear. “It’s gonna be all right, my love.” And with this she leaves the girl alone.
The girl sits in the corner and talks soothingly to kitten. She is so occupied with it that she doesn’t notice Raven until he sits down next to her. She looks at him. Blood and tears have stained her face, but there is a compassion that makes her look special. He puts his hands on hers, while she is holding the kitten. His hands are so warm, and it flows into her hands and fills her. She doesn’t feel the bruises anymore, but only this curious warmth. They sit like this all night, his hands on hers, and as the morning light flows through the window, the kitten opens it eyes and looks at its’ rescuers.