She is listed in the Wattpad hosted companion as: Order of Gyuto. Astral Master, daughter of Shen, Praefect Order of Gyuto. That definition does very little justice to such a powerful supporting character. The story may not be about the Draco, but without her, it would be quite difficult for the team to accomplish their goal. Let’s take a deeper look at this seemingly minor character.
When we first meet Dao-Ming, she is depicted in a very traditional manner with her father, Praefect Shen. She is expected to bring tea to the table at which Shen is discussing a mission with Primus Gediel.
The moment sets up the reader to expect very little from the young erela, because of the gender roles expectations many of us are equipped with. When her father suggests she guide the Primus in his journey through the Astral, it should raise one’s eyebrow. That’s the challenge to the status quo. Just because a young woman is bringing out the tea service doesn’t mean she is incapable of performing other tasks, especially those far more difficult. Her role in the family required her to bring the tea, as well as her rank in the order. Her father cannot play favorites. If she was an engel, the expectation would be the same.
When we cross into the Astral, we’re more aware of Gediel’s doubt, as well as that of his co-agent, Evocati Luthias. Doubling down on this question is the apparent attraction between these two. Gediel witnesses the tell-tale flash in their eyes, and is amused. Though these two are clearly destined for one another, it does not diminish the function that Draco Dao-Ming performs. It is to say, a woman can be a wife, mother, and a soldier, and do all of those things well. Some women (erelas, as well) choose such a path. In such a capacity, Dao-Ming serves as a reflection of, perhaps, another time in Captain Maiels journey, like when she was first joined with Dominic. That match did not diminish her ability, it simply enhanced who she was.
Draco Dao-Ming is the fifth daughter of Shen. He has a total of seven, a very auspicious number. The sisters are close, well-balanced to each other, and well-trained by their father, and the other commanders of the order. Dao-Ming is an Astral Master like the ranking members of the order. The ranks they hold suggest the level of ability and experience they have with this strange plane. A master draco is a midline. That doesn’t mean she is anyone to be trifled with on the Astral plane. She is a skilled guide and guardian.
In book two, Burning Down, readers will see an expansion on the Draco’s assignments. She is far more than a daughter, lover, or tea server. Read a sample of the series below…
“Why have you come?” Shen asked, still in meditation.
“To use your gate,” Gediel replied, his eyes slipping from the birds to the praefect.
“You’re late,” Shen said, opening his black eyes.
The engel stared blankly at Gediel, but then smiled. Fine whiskers framed his mouth. He smoothed his beard, tugging on the long part at his chin.
“I was just about to close the gate,” Shen said.
“How long can we have?”
“Time is relative, Gediel. You could wander for many passings of the sun and moon before the Astrals tell you what you wish to know,” Shen told him.
“I don’t have that much time,” Gediel replied.
“Then you’ll need a guide.”
Shen stroked his beard, thinking of who among his legion would be best.
“Dao-Ming!” the praefect shouted.
A slim erela dashed from the house with a tea tray. She carried the offering to her commander, bowing at his feet. She set the tray down on his table, then bowed again. Gediel noticed Luthias step forward and raised his hand to stop him. Luthias halted, but his eyes didn’t leave the fifth erela of the Shen clan. Gediel smirked. The guardian was still very connected to his Samsaran appetites. He believed he had already tried three that night and now he looked for a fourth.
“Dao-Ming, you will guide my friends in the Astrals. They seek answers to their questions and a path back,” Shen said sternly.
Dao-Ming sat back on her feet and bowed her head, silently accepting the assignment. Her black eyes flicked between them, lingering longest on the evocati. A slight blush blossomed on her cheeks. Luthias smiled, his eyes sparkling. For a moment, Gediel thought he saw a light pulse in both sets of irises.
“Draco Dao-Ming is my fifth daughter and among us the most skilled master in the Astrals. I look forward to calling her evocati soon. She will guide you safely—if the nature of your questions allow.” Shen drew Gediel’s attention back to the mission.
“Thank you,” Gediel said with a nod.
Shen nodded in return and his daughter served him his first cup of tea. He sipped, savoring the brew. He smiled at Dao-Ming, pleased and proud. He released her to her duty.
Dao-Ming got to her feet and greeted Gediel and the eager Luthias. She then guided them to the eastern end of the garden, activating her penannular. An arch stood in the wall, between two heavily armored guards. Beyond the opening, they saw a field and distant trees, as if it just led to the field borders of Gyuto. Dao-Ming whispered a few words into the opening and the image became a shimmering sheet of silver, then a mirror. The tree symbol blazed in ethereal blue, awaiting her command. She faced them.
“Have you travelled in Astral before, Primus?” she asked.
Luthias nodded. “A fair few times, draco.”
“Remember that our enemies may access this world. Focus on only the questions you must have answers to. The ways beyond this door are fickle and will follow the flow of your mind. Whatever you think may manifest itself. You must control your thoughts, for they can do you the greatest harm. Be wary that the Astral still holds the thoughts of those who came before you. This world can be treacherous for the inexperienced. I will do my best to tether our vessels to the path, but you must cooperate with me.”
“Maybe I should stay here,” Luthias said.
“I need you to tell me the truth of what we see, evocati. You’ve faced worse if you’ve seen Morgentus,” Gediel replied.
“That’s what I’m worried about. I don’t want to see that bloke again. A nasty troll that one,” Luthias said.
“He won’t come near us, if he knows what’s best for him,” Gediel assured his companion, grabbing hold of his arm.
“What about the girl?” Luthias asked, indicating Dao-Ming.
“I may only be a draco, but be assured I can handle myself,” Dao-Ming said, insulted.
Dao-Ming grasped the hilts of the swords on her hips. Carrying the insult with her, she walked up the steps to the gateway. The tree pulsed as she pressed the corresponding sequence. She stepped through the arch with her nose raised.
Luthias watched her disappear and become like a reflection in the entrance. A dim-witted grin screwed up his face.
“I hope that’s true. It’d be a shame to see such a pretty girl extinguished,” Luthias said.
“She can hear you. Hope that Shen can’t. His daughters are his treasures and he and his sons guard them like dragons,” Gediel said, nodding toward a guard that walked one of the Lungs being raised there.
Luthias cringed. Gediel took hold of him and stepped through the gate. The wolves joined them last. On the other side, they stood on a gray flat stone surrounded by the milky mist of khajala. The wolves paced, whining at the veil. Dao-Ming faced them on the edge of it. Something permeated the air, as if what they saw wasn’t quite right. Luthias peered about him, alarmed by the lack of sights.
“You’re in the entrance of the Astrals. You can remain here and view the manifestations that will come, or dare to step farther in and be part of them,” Dao-Ming told them.
Gediel strode forward, disappearing into the mist. Dao-Ming followed after him, leaving Luthias to decide if he would remain behind, or get lost trying to find them again. Gediel heard his footsteps and was glad that he would be joining them. He needed him to be sure that what he saw was the truth or his own mind making up what he wanted to know.
The rock changed to grass, but the mist persisted. Through it, they saw the ruins left by voyagers in the past. Dao-Ming instructed him to ask his question before they wandered too far. Gediel paused. His wolves stood to either side of him scrutinizing the fog. Gediel carefully focused, fixing his thoughts on the single task. The nothingness rolled back and they stood in the middle of the council chambers. Ebony stone replaced the unseen. Alders brushed past them in and out of the rooms. Luthias turned round and round, waiting for the visions to attack.
“They can’t see you. They’re just dreams,” Dao-Ming assured Luthias. “What do you seek from here?” she asked the Wolf Leader.
Gediel turned around slowly, looking about the chambers for something. His eyes settled on a message runner. He strode after him and the others followed suit. The messenger navigated the maze-like halls until he entered a room where a council was in session. They discussed something in a cryptic half-language. Gediel eyed them, then walked around the room. The space they stood in was the viewing nave. It was where the soul or duta under question stood before their council. A low wall of ebony stone separated the nave from the council dais, erected at varying heights. Several sat there, one spaced at the far left end while four others crowded together toward the right of the bottom table. The messenger dropped a scroll before them and took to a chair along the wall of the nave. Other runners and servants sat in chairs against the walls. A door stood at the left end, in view of the farthest councilor. It opened and Maxiel entered the room. He strode to the other end where he mounted the step to the council dais. He pushed past the others and took another step to the highest seat. The others stopped talking and then the entrance opened again. Maiel entered. She stood before them in the yellow gown of her order, which she wore when the armor was tucked away. Her red ringlets cascaded down her red-winged back. Gediel felt his breath still as he looked at her. He remembered this. She was just a youngling only a few millennia old, and already stunning. By this time they had been friends for a long while, his heart already lost to her. He reached toward her face.