The flight to Shang Simla seemed to take forever. The whole family were on tenterhooks, worrying about what awaited them at their destination, and every minute seemed to last an age. None of them talked during the journey, each caught in their own thoughts and fears.
At last they arrived and everything seemed calm on the surface, although nobody seemed to be about.
They immediately headed for the Yat Sen family house where Abi greeted them alone. Mira immediately noticed how old and drawn Abi was looking but this went out of her head with Abi's first words.
"You're too late. I'm sorry, I didn't see what would happen until it was too late, we lost Liang and too many others."
"What do you mean we're too late?! We came as quickly as we possibly could! You lost Liang? Do you mean he's dead? What happened? Why didn't you see it until it was too late? What didn't you see?"
The words poured out of Mira as she desperately tried to make sense of what she had heard, wishing with all her heart that she'd misunderstood or that this was all a dream she'd wake up from soon.
Tears poured down Abi's face as she answered "I'm so sorry Mira, I called you as soon as I knew, but even then I feared it was too late. The demon in the Dragon Cave, Dong Hua, he found a way to block my visions, I believe he only stopped blocking them when he thought it was too late for me to do anything.
"He tried to raise the river, to wash away some of the bindings holding him in place and to distract us and keep us occupied while he tried to break the bindings which were out of reach of the flood he was raising. If I could have seen in time and got you all here, the children's power could have stopped him, but I was too late. We managed to hold the bindings and force him back to some form of sleep, but the river was a different matter. We couldn't hold it back from a distance and Liang got too close, he was swept away and the river just stopped flooding. We think it wanted or needed a sacrifice, we found his body further down the river banks the next day. I'm sorry Mira."
As Abi's words sank in, Mira burst into tears and fell into her arms.
The triplets and twins had been listening intently as their grandmother explained what had happened and they all spent the rest of the day grieving together.
Abi had told Mira that Liang's ashes had been placed in the mausoleum at the local graveyard and had asked if she wanted to take them back to Dragon Springs with her. Mira had decided this was what she wanted so she went alone to the graveyard to collect his remains.
When she returned, Kariny was waiting to speak with her.
"Mum, me, Kyra and Karal have been talking and we've decided we won't be coming back home with you. What happened when Dad died here has left the Order very short of members, he wasn't the only one to die, and also he was their leader and with his death we're the next in line for that position so we've decided we're going to stay and rebuild."
Mira was shocked at Kariny's words and terror bloomed in her heart as she thought about the possibility of her eldest children finding the same fate as their father, or worse.
"What do you mean you're staying here? Can't you see how dangerous it is? Your father died as a result of his life & work here!"
"We know Mum, but it would be worse if no-one were here to defend Shang Simla from Dong Hua and keep him bound in the cave. And if he ever got out then no-one in the world would be safe. Dad sacrificed himself to keep the world safe and we intend to honour his sacrifice by continuing his work. Zhanzu and Mei Lin are coming out to join us and Rian has said he will as well even though he doesn't have their connection to the Order."
Eventually, after Kariny had mustered many arguments in favour of their plan, Mira broke down and gave them her blessing. She knew they didn't need it to stay, but also that they wouldn't be happy if they felt they had to defy her to follow their path in life.
The whole family stayed in Shang Simla for a while, waiting for Rian, Mei Lin and Zhanzu to arrive from Dragon Springs. Once they did, the triplets headed off to the Peony House, the only lounge in Shang Simla, for a triple date. It was a lovely place, beautifully decorated and perfect for the triplets' plans.
Although it was a triple date, the three of them, by mutual consent, took their dates off to separate parts of the building. Kariny took Rian off to the upstairs lounge, where she surprised him with a bunch of flowers.
She then wooed him thoroughly, with lots of kisses and other romantic gestures.
And when both of them were thoroughly in the mood she went down on one knee and proposed to him. Rian happily accepted, having dreamed of marrying her throughout their teenage relationship.
Downstairs, Karal began his date with Mei Lin by serenading her on his guitar. He loved music almost as much as he loved her and found it far easier to pour his feelings out through his music than through words.
Their date went well, Mei Lin was as musical as he was and she loved nothing more than to listen to him play.
Eventually, towards the end of the night, Karal too went down on one knee and proposed. He knew Mei Lin would accept since they had discussed it long before their birthdays, but he wanted to make the proposal as romantic as possible to give them a happy memory to look back on.
Kyra's date with Zhanzu followed a similar path. They had already agreed on their future plans and so they spent the time enjoying each other's company.
In fact, they spent most of the date just kissing each other non-stop. Kyra was keen to give herself something to think about other than her father's death and the unhappiness she knew her mother felt about their decision to stay and take on his work.
When they came up for air, she asked Zhanzu if he'd like to set a date for their marriage and he agreed.
The six of them agreed that they didn't want big wedding ceremonies and would just get quietly married at home later on.