I found the necklace near a stream, when I was out for a walk, far from the village.
I was only seven then, and I was already the talk of the town.
"Why does she daydream so much?" the villagers asked. "Doesn't she know that's a sign of the mystic world?"
Of course I knew, but I couldn't help it. I was, after all, only seven. So I went to the outskirts of the forest, wondering what lie beyond the houses and gardens that I saw everyday.
First, there was a stream, with a waterfall that mumbled like an old man.
And there, in the water, near the edge, I saw something shining. I pulled out the object, admiring the silver dragon, curled around the most beautiful pearl I had ever seen. It seemed to glow as the sun came out from the clouds.
"You shouldn't be here." a voice said.
I looked up from the pearl, and I saw a boy. He was no ordinary boy. I knew that from his strange outfit. It looked fit for a prince. Two blue dragons adorned the belt of a pearl white silk robe. His hair was not pulled back, but he stood straight, unafraid of anything.
"That belongs to me." he said, pointing at the necklace.
"Oh." I said. I had forgotten what I was holding.
"Who are you girl?" he asked, "And why are you here?"
"My name is Shimcheong." I said, "Who are you?"
The boy stared for a moment, then he scratched his head.
"My name would be . . . difficult for you to pronounce. You can call me Yong."
"Hello Yong." I said, smiling. It was rare that I met someone my own age, or at least someone who looked like it.
He smiled, and held out his hand.
I gave him the necklace and he laughed.
"Do you know what this is?" he asked.
"It's a dragon pearl." I said, "but why is it here?"
"I'm surprised that you know it." Yong said, "Not many people talk of the dragons anymore."
"My mom did." I said. "They were my favorite stories."
"That's fascinating." the boy said. "But I'm afraid I can't tell you why the pearl is here."
"Why not?" I asked, stomping my foot.
He smiled at me again.
"Because I don't know." he said.
"Is it yours?" I asked.
"It might be." he said.
I stared at him.
He stared back, and handed me the necklace.
"Will you hold on to it for me?" he asked.
I stared at him.
"Why?" I asked.
"Because it chose you." he replied.
As he handed me the necklace, I thought I saw the silver dragon wink at me.
"You must keep it safe. Until I return." Yong said.
I nodded and placed the pearl in the palm of my hand.
"I will." I said.
"Good." Yong replied.
But, when I looked up, he was gone, and I didn't see any footprints on the ground where he stood.
As I walked back to the village, hiding the necklace in my hanbok. I thought I had spoken with a ghost.
At first, I went to the stream every day, searching for Yong. But, as the years passed, and no one came, I visited the stream less often
When I turned sixteen, the crops began to go bad, and my father slowly went blind.
The villagers began to whisper that I was bad luck, and my father and I did what we could to manage the farm, but we soon had no choice but to sell it.
People said that the Dragon King was angry, and the clouds blocked the sun. No farm did well that year, and as my father and I moved from the farm to a hut near the village gate, I began to wonder if I held the key to our salvation.
One night, when the wind howled and the rain poured, I pulled out the necklace.
The silver had never tarnished, and the pearl still glowed. I stared at the dragon, closed my eyes and made a wish.
Thats when it all began.