"Another challenge for the Green Hornet, his aide Kato, and their rolling arsenal, the Black Beauty. On Police records a wanted criminal, Green Hornet is really Britt Reid, owner-publisher of the Daily Sentinel, his dual identity known only to his secretary and to the district attorney. And now, to protect the rights and lives of decent citizens, rides THE GREEN HORNET."
May 2rd, 1968
The gray gates of the state penitentiary ground open. A lone figure waited until the gears lurched to the halt to step just outside the foreboding shadows of the menacing gargoyles standing guard. A black sedan pulled forward and the front passenger door swung open. The figure's bald head bowed deeply to his chest and he wrapped his black trench coat tightly about him as he climbed into the car. The gates closed as the car pulled away. In the passenger side mirror, a fierce image of a curled black dragon appeared. The ensnared smoldering eye cast a lanced glare at the retreating entrance to hell.
Behind those gates, he'd learned a new way of living, and rebuilt his faith in himself and no one else. He learned to be a leader, a wolf among sheep. It was a process not without difficultly. But he had to come out on top. No matter what or who it took, he needed to be.. Cānglóng-the Black Dragon, come home to breath fire and destruction on those who had dared to cross him. The smoldering eye closed with the memories of his defeat, only to reopen clear of any such self-loathing. The past was gone, forgotten behind those cell-block walls. The wide open expanse of Century City would greet him as a forgotten son. Long enough for him to burn it to the ground.
May 3rd, 1968
Amidst the hustle and bustle of Chinatown on a Friday morning, the well-known, well respected Golden Lotus Café was particularly busy. The kitchen was the most active, even though today, the dining area would be closed to the public. The prodigal son, Jimmy Kee, nephew-in-law-to-be of the restaurant's owner, and the new leader to the Tsoy Yen Tong, was returning home from a two year stay in China. His studies there had been the result of an extortion racket that nearly destroyed his life, the restaurant, and the Tsoy Yen Tong, all in one fail swoop. He wanted to be better prepared in business management and the ways of his traditional uncle -in-law before taking the business over himself. His fiancée, Mary Chang, was instrumental in making sure his homecoming would be a success. She planned not only today's party but also their wedding, now just a week away. Mary was also much older and wiser in the ways of the Tong and running a business in an otherwise masculine atmosphere. She had broken the mold, and certainly wasn't the frightened and helpless child she had been two years ago.
He pride in the preparations showed as she got in on the action too. At this very moment, she was hand cutting noodles for Jimmy's favorite dish. Her raven black hair was swept back off her face, but strands had fallen loose, giving her a windswept look that Kato found quite charming. Kato, normally in charge of his friend and employer, Britt Reid, had cleared the day with Reid to spend it in the presence of his other friends. While Mary and Jimmy could never know, Kato had nearly singlehandedly saved them from the extortion racket boss Duke Slate and his attempt to take over the Tong two years ago. Of course, he had been masked as the Green Hornet's partner at the time. As was Britt Reid in his alter ego, the Green Hornet.
"I see you have everything under control." He called out with a smile. Mary looked up from her work, blowing hair out of her eyes. "Kato! You made it!"
"Of course, I could not miss Jimmy's return for anything." She held up her eggy hands with a sheepish look, "Sorry, I'm a little messy. I'm almost done. Let me wash my hands and then we can talk."
"Are you sure I can't help out somewhere?"
Mary laughed, " No. We're okay. So please, go make yourself comfortable. I will bring tea."
Kato conceded to her with a shrug and a smile. He excused himself through the small sea of cooks to the closed dining area. A large banner of red and gold welcoming Jimmy home in Chinese hung from the ceiling. Traditional decorations hung throughout and a table of honor was set at the head of the restaurant. Kato pulled a chair out from a table in the corner and sat down. A moment later, Mary emerged from the kitchen with tea and two small tea cups. She smiled brightly as she poured both their teas and sat down across from Kato with a contented sigh.
"Well. What do you think?" She asked, looking around at all the decorations. "Big and grand enough?"
Kato laughed," Yes, I think so. Although, I am sure that all he will want to see is you."
Mary bowed her head, "And Uncle too, of course."
Kato sipped his tea, "Perhaps...but knowing Jimmy and how he feels about you? Your uncle is clear second." He grinned as she giggled.
" Jimmy says you never gave him your answer on whether you will stand as his best man or not. You are, aren't you?"
He toyed with his cup. "For a...newly 'traditionalized' man, he is holding a very modern wedding..." Kato flashed a devilish grin, "Whose idea was that?"
Mary flushed, "He is not so different than he was before. We were always respectful of the old ways. We just knew we needed to bridge the new ways with old ones somehow. Now we just want others to see us as a people who are ready to accept a changing word and be willing to change with it, for better or for worse. We both agree on that."
Kato nodded," As do I. That is why I am so happy to see how much you and Jimmy have accomplished since Duke Slate and Lo Sing. All of Chinatown is better for it."
Mary smiled at his glowing compliment. Yet she bowed her head in a demure gesture, eyes on the table. "I sense you want to say more...but do not wish to speak ill of Jimmy. Trying to protect me, like always," she added ruefully, looking up at him through her lashes.
Kato shrugged. "I was not going to bring it up."
Mary poured more tea for both of them. "Perhaps...it would be better if we did."
"Why? What was said was said. I tend not to dwell on such things, you know that."
"But it is still there, Kato. Every time we are together, it is building between us. I do not wish for that."
"It was Jimmy who created it, not me."
"But it is true, isn't it? He wasn't spreading a malicious lie: you could do so much if you weren't with Mr. Reid anymore."
Kato pushed himself away from the table. "To me, Mary, it is...because neither you nor Jimmy know all the facts as to why I remain with Mr. Reid. Jimmy didn't even consider that."
"Kato...he was only thinking of you and your potential! You could easily open your own restaurant...or gung fu school. Anything you wanted, you could do. I believe that and so does Jimmy. He wasn't...attacking you or, or Mr. Reid. "
Kato seemed to consider this before finishing his tea and standing. He went to Mary and took her hands in his.
"Mary, I know...," he considered his words carefully, pausing before speaking again. "I know what you and Jimmy really think...about my continued stay with Mr. Reid."
He saw she was about to protest and gently cut her off, "No. Don't. You wanted to discuss this, remember? …You...think that I am continuing the old ways and the old ideas by staying on and working for Mr. Reid." He shrugged it off. "I don't believe that because I know the real reasons. They're beyond such things as race and class-petty wastes of time spent on labeling things and people when there's no real cause. We created this type of atmosphere, as a whole. I can't do anything to stop that but I can continue doing what I know to be right. Right now? That means I need to be with Mr. Reid. If that's not enough for you or Jimmy or whoever else wishes to judge me..."
He shrugged that off too. "I cannot help or change that either. So..." He squeezed her hands and gave her a light kiss on the cheek. "...don't worry about me. Just worry about Mr. Jimmy Kee."
She sighed, a petulant pout on her face. "Okay. Whatever you say, Mister."
" Good. I will be back later for the party with Mr. Reid and his secretary, Ms. Case."
Kato saw she was still somewhat expectant. Hopeful, even. Then remember why: "And you can tell him I will be honored to stand as his best man."
Mary was relieved. "Thank you!"
As Kato left, she gazed at the banner welcoming her soon to be husband home. Sheer contentment that, at last, everything was as it should be.
Britt Reid, owner/ publisher of the Daily Sentinel, had come home from a short day at the office to find the apartment empty. He remembered Kato saying he wanted to stop in at the Golden Lotus Cafe to offer his assistance in preparing for Jimmy Kee's welcome home party. He busied himself in his office, going over papers and planning the layout for the next edition. When Kato finally got in, it was well after five. They were supposed to be at the restaurant by seven.
He heard Kato head to the basement, where his private workout area, bedroom, and bath were located and got up to follow him. He descended the stairs to find Kato standing quietly in the middle of his workout space, still dressed casually in a leather jacket and jeans. His hands were in his pockets, his back to Britt.
"Kato. You alright?"
He turned his head at the sound of Britt's voice. "…Fine."
Britt folded his arms across his chest and leaned against the banister. The last time Kato got like this was after an argument with Jimmy Kee two years ago. On the night he was to accompany himself, Ms. Case and Mike Axford to a celebratory dinner at the Golden Lotus. It was in honor of the end of Duke Slate's reign of terror over the Tongs of Chinatown and the successful recuperation of Mary's uncle and the Golden Lotus Cafe.
Kato couldn't reveal the nature of his involvement in the overthrow of Duke Slate but nevertheless enjoyed seeing the refreshing air of liberation and happiness it brought to Jimmy and those around him. The Tsoy Yen Tong was free to operate as it should. Jimmy was full of ideas. His enthusiasm and will to succeed now that there was nothing in there in way to stop the progress was infectious. Naturally, he wanted his friend Kato to be part of the new wave—he was obvious leadership material. Already one of the most respected men in the Chinese community, it seemed only natural to offer Kato a position alongside him in the Tong. But Kato declined. As much as he was honored to be considered for such a position, his duty to another friend won out.
It was there that the argument began, over his state of employment with Reid. Jimmy had nothing against Reid personally, not after all the good he and his paper had done in the capturing of Duke Slate. But he did have something against the idea that Kato was stuck in servant position-perpetuating the ways Jimmy wanted to move away from.
Kato vehemently objected, arguing that it was not Jimmy's place to pass such judgment, especially when he knew next to nothing as to why Kato stayed by Reid-and not at all as a servant. When Jimmy challenged Kato to give him one good reason why he would be staying on in Reid's employ, Kato had to quietly conceded defeat and leave. Before anything more regrettable could be said.
He did not return for the dinner that night but insisted Britt should go anyway. Britt couldn't help but notice Jimmy's failure to ask about Kato's absence and made it a point that night to ask Kato about it.
Britt had found him as he found him now, quietly meditating in his private space. After a whisper-soft retelling of the argument's content, Britt stood and then sat by him in the darkness. He was equally torn and unsure how to show support any other way. Kato was filled with self-doubt and conflict. It left him in a quiet and rather lonely contemplative state that fully isolated the two from each other until Kato snapped out it. Apparently at peace once more.
The Green Hornet relationship had also suffered. Britt tried going out alone in the Black Beauty but it wasn't the same. He didn't want to see Kato that conflicted ever again. Not just for the sake of their friendship but for the fact that he knew Kato wholeheartedly disliked inner conflict of any kind.
"I see things didn't go too well at the Golden Lotus..." Britt ventured.
Kato's back was still to him. "Everything was going well until Mary brought it up again. I told her the point was beyond discussion ..."
"What did she say?" Britt broached the subject gently.
Kato turned to face him, a somber glint in his eyes, "The same: If I left you I could do whatever I wanted: open up a restaurant, my own Kung Fu school...anything. I told her I knew exactly what they think I am doing by staying here: continuing the old ways, perpetuating the old ideas..." He shrugged.
"I know that what we are doing here is right and I will not leave that. I know and you know why I stay and why I am what I am. But I can't tell them that. I cannot say I took Lo Sing down so that they could have their Tong as it should be. I can't say what role you played in everything, either. That is my problem. This need to explain, when I know I do not have to..." He tried to say more but his was too frustrated with himself.
Britt nodded and unfolded his arm to put a reassuring hand on Kato's shoulder.
"I could never say how much I appreciate our friendship. Sometimes, well, all the time, it's not easy holding on to the secrets we do. But if we couldn't do it, we wouldn't. It's always going to be difficult, by nature of the game. If we do it together, it'll always be that much easier."
Britt's hand fell away, "But you do know...that...if you ever did want to leave..." Kato looked at him sharply, and Britt held up a hand, "I'm just saying...if you ever did want to leave...I wouldn't stop you. I wouldn't like it but I wouldn't stop you. You know that, right?"
Kato shrugged and put on one of his crooked grins, "Of course, but... the Green Hornet has a lot of work to do still. I wouldn't want to miss that." His smile eased, "I can't leave, Britt. We're meant to do this together. As we always have. If that's not enough for others, it is for me. I'll be alright."
"Sounds good to me. Which reminds me..." Britt checked his watch. "We have a party to get to."
The Black Dragon's long trench coat swept the floor as he walked, his head downcast, into the shadows the old Buddhist temple. He understood his Tsoy Yen Tong had made this old temple a protected historical landmark of Chinatown, designated such by the Tong High Council. By day the old temple would stay untainted in all its golden glory but by night...a dragon would sleep here.
His driver appeared beside him, expectant. Black Dragon spoke to him in low, rapid-fire Chinese and the man left. Sent off on orders to gather his contacts and bring them here in the night to fully begin operations; leaving the dragon to roam his dean freely.
In the glass, he caught his reflection and paused, seeing his black dragon's eye gazing back. He felt the squeeze of power and purpose the image always elicited building in his chest. He wanted to yell out for all Chinatown to hear. Instead, he merely closed his eyes and rode the wave until it subsided. He continued to the street's end, surveying his new territory from the shadows.
Down the street, at the Golden Lotus Cafe, there was a party. He knew who it was for because he had initially considered crashing it. But that was only his past self getting the best of him. He watched in silence until he turned to reveal the Black Dragon tattoo to the moonlight. He disappearing back into the shadows to bide his time more appropriately.
Kato mingled enough to greet the people he wanted to see before returning the fringes, a cup of tea in his hand. He wore a more civilian version of the outfit he wore as the Green Hornet's partner, a traditional black top and pants but no gloves, cap or mask. He kept his eye on Britt and Ms. Case, a subconscious act. Until thunderous applause from the partygoers signaled the arrival of Jimmy Kee.
Jimmy was pulled and pushed into the dining area, the aggressive claps on the back and shoulders and handshakes evidently overwhelming him. Jimmy spotted Mary in her lovely red lily patterned dress, beaming proudly from the back of the room. His eyes continued to roam until he spotted Kato and called out to him, a hand raised in greeting. Kato met him half way and led him free from the middle of the crowd. Mary appeared at his side and they took a stand at the head of the largest table. The cheering and applause subsided. Jimmy cleared his throat to speak.
"I am...overwhelmed." He said with a small laugh. The crowd cheered once more.
"I thank you all for coming...It is beyond what Mary described. I had no idea... I am so happy to be home and see you all here. I feel completely ready now to take our community in the direction it needs to go. And I am sure with all of you behind me and Mary and our efforts, we cannot fail. Thank you!" He bowed his head in appreciation and the crowd cheered once more.
Low murmuring and chair scraping replaced the applause as people took their seats for dinner. Kato was placed beside Jimmy. He caught sight of Britt and Casey, seated towards the middle of the restaurant. Britt and Kato caught each other's eye and acknowledged each other.
"Well, Kato!" Jimmy said, as he leaned back in his chair, sounding tired. "I'm glad you could make it. I was...worried you wouldn't."
"Oh, I couldn't miss this. Tell me about your trip."
Jimmy played with his napkin, shrugging. "Eye opening. I studied more in two years than I ever thought I could in my entire life. There were times when I wanted to quit but..." He shrugged again. Kato couldn't understand the vibes he was getting from Jimmy. Not at all the jubilant and triumphant man he thought he would receive. Kato watched him fidget in his chair as the food was brought forth on steaming platters for serving. He decided to keep his gaze cool and feign complete ignorance of his friend's behavior. Jimmy put on a smile for the servers, who were friends, as they congratulated him. From the kitchen, Mary's uncle, Keye Chang, emerged. He spread his arms wide as he approached the table, accompanied by a spattering of applause. Jimmy rose to meet him, accepting his embrace warmly.
"Jiā yán, my father." Jimmy whispered, emotion making anything louder than a whisper impossible. His 'father' beamed, shaking Jimmy happily by the shoulders.
"Chǒng ér, my favorite son!"
Jimmy was seemingly rejoiced in his reunion with Chang but Kato saw something was definitely holding Jimmy back. Chang claimed the seat across the way from his 'favorite son'. Before he sat, he turned to face the rest of the crowd and raised his arms, seeking silence. Quiet immediately replaced the murmuring and all eyes went to the elder Chang.
"Before we truly begin, I wish to thank you all for coming to my dear Jimmy's welcome home party. I am most thankful. I also wish express my sincere gratitude for the support shown to my family and the Golden Lotus these last two years. Especially by the Tsoy Yen Tong—their efforts made it possible for Jimmy to embrace his dreams in China. The rebuilding process was more than just restoring the Lotus; it was restoring the faith in our community and in one another. I know now, we have the chance to do more than just that. That we can make a sincere difference in our community and how we see ourselves. My son Jimmy," he turned a loving eye toward him, "and the others of his generation will put us in good hands. I toast him, his lovely Mary and you all here, for sharing this journey. Thank you."
He bowed in respect to his guests and the applause rose again. Kato watched Jimmy throughout the speech and felt his nervous energy increasing. By the end, he was barely able to look at Chang, let alone clap. He suddenly leaned into Kato and whispered urgently, "I need to talk to you." Kato simply nodded and motioned with his head towards the back door. Jimmy agreed.
First Kato got up and casually picked his way towards the bathroom. He passed by Britt's table without a word and felt Britt's eyes on him. He stopped short from turning the corner and skirted in the other direction. He exited out into the fading twilight. A few moments later, Jimmy joined him, wringing his hands with a pinched face.
Kato folded his arms across his chest, waiting for Jimmy to speak.
"I didn't want to say anything. I didn't know how to say it, really..."
He shoved his hands into his suit jacket's pockets and toed the ground in resignation that he needed to do this.
"I know it's been many years but ...do you remember the dǎ zhàng of Hong Kong; the underground fights?"
Kato's folded arms tightened involuntarily across his chest. "What about them?"
Jimmy toed the ground still. He decided to take a roundabout way of explaining, hoping his nerves would steady if he kept talking, "I did what you asked me to do: I found your old master, Shīfu Yip Man. He did allow me stay at his school."
As Kato knew the old man would.
"Well, some of my tutors knew him and they would often remain after our sessions to speak with him. About...six months into my stay...I began to notice they all would stay very late. My studies often led me to stay up until early morning, so I knew they would remain almost as long. I tried to ignore it until it began to affect my schooling. Some of my tutors stopped showing up all together. I reached out to Shīfu about the situation. He wouldn't tell me anything besides that these men were very busy in their perspective fields, and that I should continue my studies in same fashion as before.
"When my tutors did show up, I felt they were not focused. At this point, I wanted to go home, angry that my time was being wasted. But then I was approached by a man named Lao Yin. He said he was affiliated with my tutors and would continue my schooling. I had no prior knowledge of him but...he claimed he had Shīfu Man's blessing. So…I trusted him..."
The way Jimmy had spoken those last words, made Kato think he regretted that decision.
"Go on, Jimmy..." Kato prompted.
Jimmy ran his hand through his hair hastily. "Yes, right...After Lao Yin took over tutoring duties, I saw very little of Shīfu Man...mainly because Lao Yin had me move out of the school, into his home..."
Kato took pause at these. "You did what?"
"What choice did I have, Kato? I would have returned home a failure, had Lao Yin not shown up. I didn't like it. I didn't like not seeing or hearing from Shīfu Man, either. So...so, one night, I went back to the school..."
Kato felt his hair on the back of his neck rise when Jimmy paused and looked pained to continue.
Jimmy huffed out a breath. "...They were meeting there that night, planning."
"Who were meeting? What were they planning?"
"My old tutors, prominent Hong Kong business men...a handful of government officials, some of whom I'd personally met. Lao Yin was there too. He's apparently their leader. I heard them planning, discussing the dǎ zhàng ...about bringing them back. They were going to use the school as their base."
Kato shook his head vehemently, "No. No. Shīfu would not have allowed that. He hated the dǎ zhàng. He taught us to walk away from them."
Jimmy took a shaky breath. "Kato...I, I don't think he had a choice."
"…What do you mean?"
He swallowed thickly. "...I never saw Shīfu Man again. I never heard from him. He didn't come to see me off and Lao Yin refused to answer my questions when I asked about him."
Kato felt a chill run down his spine. He found himself caught in a whirlwind of profound lost and bitterness. He was not wont to allow such emotion in such a way, ever. But Shīfu Yip Man had made an everlasting impression on Kato's life and the path he'd take that eventually led him to where he was today. He had been a father figure, a mentor, and well-respected gung fu master. No other man had shaped Kato as Shīfu Man had... Whether he was dead or a hostage somewhere or just unable to contact his people...Kato cracked his knuckles resolutely and faced Jimmy with an unmentionable gleam in his eye.
"You told no one else of this?"
"No, no one. I didn't know whom to trust. I just wanted to get out of there…those last six months were probably the most difficult, because I knew what was happening…or dreaded what I thought had happened…."
"Is there more?
"I am afraid, yes. It is the other reason I needed to talk to you... besides about Shīfu Man."
Jimmy stepped closer to Kato. "That night I returned to the school, I also heard Lao Yin speak of expanding the dǎ zhàng outside of China. He spoke of an American 'agent', called the Black Dragon. He was to bring them to the US, to this city, and then to others after proving they could be profitable here."
"If they're thinking of making us a proving ground, there are other cities that have a larger Chinese population than we do that to pick fighters from."
"True...but the other cities don't have the Green Hornet or his partner. His partner is well known even to these men. They know of his fighting prowess. I have seen him fight myself. He is beyond mastery: he is almost inhuman. Better than you even, Kato."
Kato allowed himself an inward smile at that particular comment.
" This Cānglóng, the Black Dragon they spoke of...he is dangerous, mythical. Lao Yin said he could even fly. That he had black wings and brought wakes of destruction after him." Jimmy shook his head.
"I left before I overstayed my welcome, afraid that if I didn't go, I would be next—these men are far too powerful and influential… but I know what it all means, regardless: the Black Dragon is going to bring the dǎ zhàng to this city, he's going to go after the Hornet's partner and I can guarantee he's going to use him as a stepping stone to bigger and better prizes—bait to lure the bigger fishes to the pot. This will not end well, I can feel it!"
Kato pondered this, his gaze drawn to the growing blanket of starpoints in the newly risen night sky.
"I'm sorry, Kato..."
His attention returned to his friend and he put a reassuring hand on Jimmy's shoulder.
"No, it's alright. So...what do you want me to do?"
"Mr. Reid has a connection with the Green Hornet, no? Through his newspaper, I mean? "
Kato shrugged uneasily, "Perhaps. Given the right reason."
"Then he must warn the Green Hornet and his partner about this! I don't know the dates of the fights, when they're supposed to begin but I know it's this week or possibly the next. I can't stop these from happening but maybe they can. They must be careful, though... I'd hate to see anything happen to them..."
Kato raised an eyebrow at Jimmy's apparent allegiance to the Hornet. Jimmy saw this and shrugged, embarrassed, "The Green Hornet and his partner saved us from Lo Sing.I will always be grateful for that. Besides, you and I both know the kind of violence and greed and crime these fights bring with them. We mustn't go down that road. We can't, it'll destroy us. Will you ask Mr. Reid?"
Kato paused then nodded, "I do find it curious that one minute you're telling me I need to leave Mr. Reid if I'm going to make anything of myself and the next you're having me use my relationship with him." He shook his head slowly, "Make up your mind, Jimmy."
He turned for the back door to return to the dining area but his friend pulled on his arm, "Wait, Kato...I'm sorry about what I said that night. Mary told me how much it hurt you.I understand now that you have your reasons, and they must be good ones. Why else would you be loyal to Mr. Reid? With you, I know what loyalty means. Forgive me."
Kato noted the sincerity in his voice and rebuked himself for his last comment. "Alright, Jimmy. We better get back before we're missed. I must warn you, though, that when I do tell Me. Reid about this, he may well contact the police. If he does, he will do his best to keep you out of this."
Jimmy nodded, "If that too will stop this, then I have no problems with it. But...what about Shīfu Man?"
Kato was stung again by the thought that his old master might need him, but that he too, was needed here. He thought of what Man would say about a situation like this: "Indecision breeds upon itself. You will know what must be done and when to do it." He was stilled by the vividness of his Master's voice even years later and tried to take solace in it. Yet as he grew aware of the night cooled air around them, he still he felt hot; flushed with the fire of vengeance he knew he shouldn't give in to.
"…I will tend to Shīfu Man. Go on, I'll follow you." He opened the door for Jimmy and ushered him through. But he didn't follow, at least not right away. He was unwilling to return to a party he knew he would not enjoy. Britt would wonder what became of him. Why he and Jimmy left almost together and only Jimmy returned—his friend was sharp with things like that. He would ask Kato later that night, why? And that filled Kato was a new sense of conflict: did he honor the promise he made with Britt to never hold anything back or did he heed the warning bells in his head to leave Britt as far away from this as possible? Would it be honesty or deception in the name of protecting a friend? There had to be a middle ground…!
He folded his arms across his chest again, hugging himself. The twinkles of stars in the inky night sky were cold and of little consolation "…You will know what must be done and when to do it…"
He returned to the party quietly to give his regrets. He shook Keye Chang's hand, kissed Mary on the cheek, and discreetly let Britt know he was leaving. He didn't have a chance to ask why. Kato was already gone. Unknowingly well in sight of a sleeping dragon's den….