The Crimson Goddess

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  • Published: 22 Aug 2015
  • Updated: 22 Aug 2015
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Have you ever wondered how war, blood and strife affects nature? The angels, the spirits, the gods that watch over the world. Have you ever wondered how they weaken from our own foolishness? Have you ever wondered what if we took care of the earth? Have you ever wondered what if we fell for one of these guardians

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1. The Crimson Goddess

 The Crimson Goddess                                                                                      
 

She was not a human, far from it really. She only revealed herself when she was awoken by the scent of blood, a goddess merged in with nature. Her home of which was a valley, filled with a single Plum Tree, that bloomed with blossoms each year. I constantly visited as a child, and even though she would never display herself unto me, I would always feel her presence, watching over me as I played in the flowers. That was, until my father was killed, in cold blood by thugs that had robbed our house. That night, after his ashes were scattered into the Valley of The Plum Tree, she made herself known to me, a woman of immense beauty and compassion, her face cloaked in sadness and she held out her hand. The ashes that had been tossed to the ground before, gathered in her palm. Bringing them up to her lips she blew, causing them to dance in the air, transforming into golden sparkles that rested on each flower, allowing their individual beauty to shine out.

"I'm sorry..." She said, her voice soft and light, unlike any of the village girls I had met, "But thank you...for allowing his departure of this world to nourish my children, for I am this Plum Tree," she motioned to the large timbre behind her, "the mother that nurtures all in this valley. So thank you, my child." A single tear slipped down her face as she leant down and kissed my forehead. The kiss was weightless and cool, as was the tear as it fell from her face and landed on my cheek. That night the goddess of the valley of the plum tree drifted away, fading into the cloaked night sky filled with glimmering stars. That night, I fell for the woman clothed in crimson robes. That night I was unable to sleep, feeling no remorse but excitement.

Soon I became animated with the thought of meeting her again. Unable to keep a cap on the restlessness I was feeling, I began treasuring the anniversaries of my father's death, and year after year I went to the valley. However my enthusiasm was soon dampened. The beautiful woman did not reveal herself to me again, even though I could sense her watching, no matter how many times I called out for her to come, she stayed hidden away. So I left a single rose resting against the ancient plum tree before turning away. I created a tradition for myself and came each year to the valley to leave a single rose for the goddess that I had began to despair I would never meet again.

 Until the neighbouring country declared war.

I was taken away, told that I must serve my country, and lay my life down for the Emperor. All new recruits were placed in the front lines as decreed by the general, a new war tactic to use us as bait, to allow the enemy to come to the right position for the archers. This left thousands of young men fearing for their lives, not understanding how to fight properly or even how to defend themselves. However I did not fear for my life, but instead felt guilty that I had not been able to present this year's rose in front of the Plum Tree. As my comrades, of my own village and of others, were slaughtered all around me my mind went numb, only thinking of one thing; My goddess. She was my last thought as I fell, my left leg struck, bleeding a colour so crimson, it was worthy of comparison of her garnet robes. I closed my eyes for what I believed to be the last time, imagining her face, her weightless kiss, her light and gentle tear on my face. And suddenly I could feel a warmth shine upon my face the pain from my leg vanish and the sound of birds emitting from above.

" Huà  Zhǒng..." That soft light voice, the voice that could only belong to her, the beauty I had not witnessed for so many years. My eyes slowly opened, taking in the silhouette of a woman against the somewhat harsh sunlight.

"I used to show myself only in times of war, death and sorrow. Perhaps that is why I was so drawn to you as a child when you lost your father... But as you came year after year, to present me with the flower of love, I slowly began to see that not all humans are evil, with the intention of destroying each other. My robes started to reflect not the colour of blood, but the deeper red of the roses...of love..." I could not see her face, so I was unable to see whether she was sad, overjoyed, or remorseful. " Huà  Zhǒng, you have taught me what it is to love... As true as you were to your name, you were kind to me. All these years you kept me company and told me of the outside world. You were the one I was fated to fall in love with...thank you  Zhǒng..." She leant down just as she had done, so many years before, and gave me a kiss. Yet this kiss was more wonderful that I remembered. Upon my lips was a bliss, that felt as though a thousand emotions were running through my mind outlining a single word; love. But like everything the kiss soon came to an end. I sat up, now able to see her face, my eyes widened. She was smiling, but down her cheeks, ran silver tears.

" Zhǒng, even though I love you so, you are but a human and to me, humans simply live and die, like pretty butterflies that pass by, for I have lived 10,000 of your lifetimes and I will continue to live thousands more. We cannot be together, for I will watch you grow old and die whereas I will live in youth and remorse...You must live your life to the fullest, fulfil your dream of becoming a woodcutter, get married, have children..." Her smile had disappeared from her face and her voice began to crack, "Do everything that you would not be able to do with me..." Those were the last words I heard from her, before she vanished from my life completely. The grief I felt in my chest was far more overwhelming than the pain I felt in my leg where I had been struck. I looked around, realising she had summoned me to the valley of the Plum Tree, in thus, feeling my pain and summoning me to her side, and saving me from further danger, protecting my life. I sat in a kneeling position, in front of the plum tree, before bowing, my head and both hands touching the ground. At that moment, I forgot my pride as a man and cried my heart out. My sadness and remorse let out in a heartfelt wail, the pain of loss clouding my vision. I suddenly felt her presence behind me and whipped around, but as always, she was concealed by the magic of the valley. I limped back to the village, my left leg now disabled, my spirit crushed.

Years later I married a young village girl two years younger than myself, named Méi lín. Méi lín soon bore me a son and on the evening of which he was born, I brought him down to the valley of the Plum Tree and held him up to the stars.

"My dear goddess, this here is my son, Lièrén. Please watch over him as you do me, and protect him from harm." No sooner had the words left my lips had the young baby woke up and starting laughing. I smiled at him sadly, remembering my own emotions from the first time I had been touched by the Plum Goddess.

Some years later Méi lín gave birth to a young girl we named Mùlán. I felt no need to bring her to the valley of the Plum Tree, as I had Lièrén, because I knew the goddess would take care of her. But that year the epidemic came and swept over China, taking my sweet Lièrén to the grave. I became retched with remorse, anger and despair.  Did our previous love mean nothing to the Plum goddess? What had I done to deserve this torture? I lost all faith in the goddess, and devoted my prayers to my ancestors, their gravestones lying side by side to my son's on a hill inside a temple.

Seventeen years later the 'Huns', a group of travelling war veterans declared war on the Emperor, their numbers exceeding a few thousand. Despite my daughter's protests, I took the entrance scroll from the messenger. However the next day my mother-in-law awoke me and Méi lín, upon discovering Mùlán's disappearance. She had taken the entrance scroll for the army, and in its place, on my bed-side table lay a magnolia-coloured lily, Mùlán's favourite flower.

Distraught, I left my house and climbed, with great difficulty, to the valley of the plum tree.

"Oh my goddess! I beg of you! Watch over Mùlán!" I cried, kneeling, at the foot of the tree.

"There is no need!" She replied, her voice harsh a note of hurt woven into in. "The ancestors you adore so much have already sent a guardian of the temple to guide her, my watching over her will do her no good!"

"Please! Goddess! I beg of you! You have protected  and watched over me from the moment my father died, so please, I beg of you, do the same for Mùlán while she is away." I begged, sobbing, my tears soaking the grass.

" Huà Zhǒng," she said, her voice no longer harsh, "The reason I took your son, was to save him from the sin he was destined for... If I had not united him with the earth then he would be fighting in this war also, but rather against the emperor, sided with the Huns, and his demise would've have come either way, however this way he died innocent and kind. You need to understand, that I do not take lives so young unless those lives are destined a much worse fate... So I cannot protect Huà Mùlán, unless you fully trust me with her life as you did your son's and yours..." I looked up and saw the woman I had not seen for thirty long years look kindly down at me.

"Yes, Goddess, I trust you with her life. Thank you." I said, bowing, as I had done three decades ago, my head on the ground and both my hands on either side. She placed her hand beneath my chin and lifted my head to face her, her leaf-green eyes reflecting my tear-stricken face.

"My name...is Chìhóng"

 

Word count: 1,500

 

Key

Zhǒng ~ Kind

Méi lín ~ Beautiful Jade

Lièrén ~ Hunter

Mùlán ~ Lily Magnolia

Chìhóng ~ Crimson

Huà ~ China [ although here it just refers to the family name ]

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