The Baron smiled, sipped sweet rice wine.
The month-long Fire Festival was in full swing; the vast city was filled with incandescence like the life-blood of a dragon spreading its mighty wings across the land.
Walls, turrets and ledges adorned with torches and colourful paper lanterns cast light and shadow flickering and writhing upon minstrels singing and prancing, filling the air with pounding drums, the sounds of flutes and a variety of stringed instruments.
Dancers, willowy forms scantily clad in bright, flowing silks leapt and pirouetted through the air. As they did so, they sprayed oil from their mouths in elaborate patterns which they set alight with flaming batons, drawing gasps of awe from the crowds lining the streets.
In two weeks, the Guild of the Dragon would fill the imperial palace with camaraderie, fire dancers, fire shapers, musicians and other performers.
Money would flow into Guild coffers.
Yes, thought the Baron, this could be the most profitable year yet.