One thousand years ago Wei Dan decided he would have to do something to save his people. They warred among themselves constantly, never acknowledging a ruler, and whenever the Bone Dagger Kings took it into their heads to attack, they could not present a united front and were quickly defeated and enslaved. If this continued, Wei Dan thought, there would soon be nobody left. Somebody had to take action. So Wei Dan climbed up the tree to the highest branch he could reach. There he tied himself to the branch by his feet and hung upside down. He waited for enlightenment.
After three days, Father Dragon came to him. He asked nothing and said nothing; he merely attacked. Wei Dan beat him off with his right hand.
After six days, Mother Dragon came to him. "What are you doing?" she said.
"I seek enlightenment," Wei Dan replied.
"If you do not leave here, I will kill you," Mother Dragon said.
Wei Dan said nothing. Mother Dragon attacked him; he beat her off, but he needed to use both hands to do so.
After nine days, Child Dragon came to him.
"Why do you seek enlightenment?" Child Dragon asked.
"I wish to save my people," Wei Dan replied. "When I become enlightened, I will return and unite them and usher in a new era of peace."
"Your people do not want enlightenment," Child Dragon said. "They are murderous idiots, squabbling over ancient feuds, eager for war. They will reject your peaceful entreaties, and kill you."
"Then I will return to them as an enlightened general and unite them by war," Wei Dan said. "I will bring them together with blood and death and lead them against our enemies."
"You are no leader," said Child Dragon. "Your feet itch with wanderlust and your attention span is that of a gnat. You may unite them, true, but you will lose interest before you bring them victory, and leave them to fall apart again from childish disagreements. Then their enemies will swallow them up."
"Then before I leave them, I will teach them my ways," Wei Dan said. "I will advise them to devote themselves to the enlightened path, which I will make up purely to ensure that they stay a unified state and can well defend themselves against their foes. Even if I go, they will be able to survive."
"You are a fool," Child Dragon said. "How would you gain enlightenment by starving yourself for nine days hanging from a branch by your feet? Enlightenment is not a children's game, to be won with ridiculous gestures. Give up. Perhaps with the last of your failing strength you will be able to crawl back to your people and watch as they are slaughtered one by one."
"No," Wei Dan said.
Then Child Dragon attacked him. Wei Dan beat at him with his hands, but he was overmatched, and soon Child Dragon had its talons at his throat. Then Wei Dan reached out and tore a branch from the tree. In his hands it became a golden spear, and he struck Child Dragon, pinning him to the tree until he begged for mercy.
"Let me go," Child Dragon sniveled.
"Bring me enlightenment," Wei Dan said.
"All shall be as you command," Child Dragon said. Wei Dan set him free. That night, the three dragons came to visit him together, and gave him secrets. The next day, Wei Dan untied the rope and set off back to his people.