FIRE MONKEY AND THE ZODIAC ARMY (Tail 1 )

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FIRE MONKEY AND THE ZODIAC ARMY

(Tail 1)

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        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

unprotected,

beset with Monsters.

        Heaven itself is beset with Demons.

Xing is the commander

of the Zodiac Army

which defends Heaven against

Demons.

        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!”

        Xing laughs

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

She recites

the words that a man in her village had spoken

to her,

a man who was kind

to her,

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,

represent justice;

the pure and prolonged sound,

which it gives forth when one strikes it,

represents music.

Its color

represents loyalty;

its interior flaws, always showing themselves

through the transparency,

call to mind sincerity;

its iridescent brightness

represents heaven;

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

of herself

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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