FIRE MONKEY AND THE ZODIAC ARMY
Xing is a Fire Monkey.
In his cave upon the Earth,
Xing reads the Oracle Bones
He divines by fire.
Xing has inscribed the symbols of his question
into an Oracle Bone.
Into the pits of his inscriptions
on the Oracle Bone
Xing touches drops of molten gold.
The Oracle Bone cracks repeatedly
from the intense heat.
Xing the Fire Monkey studies the pattern
of the cracks
formed upon the Oracle Bone.
The patterns create pictograms. He pronounces
the pictograms as they inspire him.
Xing’s pronouncements verify
a terrible divination.
A young girl human will destroy
the order of Heaven.
At this time in Heaven there are many gods.
Yet humans struggle in a harsh world
beset with Monsters.
Heaven itself is beset with Demons.
Xing is the commander
of the Zodiac Army
which defends Heaven against
Xing has taken pity on humans before.
He himself has given them fire
to accompany them.
Yet, if a human is going to destroy
the order of Heaven,
what can hold the world together?
Xing prepares the next Oracle Bone
for his next question
He suddenly hears a scream from without his cave.
He arises and faces the entrance of his cave.
A young girl dashes inside into the darkness
crying for help to no one she can see.
Behind the young girl Xing sees a Monster
lurching in pursuit.
Xing barks at the Monster, “Yāo Guài!
You dare to enter my cave?!”
Yāo Guài the Monster halts and growls at Xing.
Yāo Guài curses, “Gāisǐ de nǐ (shit, damn it), Xing.
You want to eat the human yourself! She is mine!
I have pursued her all this way up from
her stinking village.”
Xing bares his teeth, growling back,
“And if I want to eat her I shall and
if you are lucky
I might thank you for bringing me a gift.”
Xing’s eyes began to glow red.
Yāo Guài the Monster is silent.
Then he spits foully.
He turns and lumbers
back down the mountainside.
Xing turns to the young girl.
She now stands against the far wall of the cave.
She holds aloft one of his Oracle Bones
and shakes it menacingly, saying,
“Before you eat me you will eat this sharp bone!”
and then he realizes
the young girl holds aloft
the Oracle Bone which confirmed the divination
of the fall of Heaven.
Xing then says politely,
“I am Xing (‘Star’).
What is the name of this young girl who holds the
fate of Heaven in her fist?”
The young girl studies Xing suspiciously.
Then she says bravely, “I am Yu (‘Jade’) and
my village is coming for me!”
Xing has wisdom and he says,
“You are a worthless orphan and
no one will come for you.
Perhaps they gave you to Yāo Guài the Monster
as an offering.”
The eyes of Yu turn red with tears
but she does not shed them.
She shows her clenched teeth and growls,
“I am Yu.
My survival is my worth. I don’t need
village or Heaven!”
Xing laughs, “Who is without village or Heaven?
Yāo Guài the Monster?
But even Yāo Guài the Monster preys on villages
and prays to Heaven.
What does that make of Yu?”
Yu appears to go into a trance and
the words that a man in her village had spoken
a man who was kind
a man named Kong Fu Zi,
“The wise have likened Yu (Jade) to virtue.
For them, its polish and brilliancy represent
the whole of purity;
its perfect compactness and extreme hardness represent
the sureness of intelligence;
its angles, which do not cut, although they seem sharp,
the pure and prolonged sound,
which it gives forth when one strikes it,
its interior flaws, always showing themselves
through the transparency,
call to mind sincerity;
its iridescent brightness
its admirable substance,
born of mountain and of water,
represents the earth.”
Xing the Fire Monkey then grins with mischief,
“Yu has a very exalted opinion
for a ‘worthless orphan girl’,
do you agree?”
Yu retorts boldly,
“I have never known a Star (‘Xing’)
that lives in a cave.”
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