Here is an excerpt from the new story, ‘Black Smoke and Water Lilies’ by David Jon Fuller. We love this story, and are very excited to have a new author join the Insignia Series. Welcome David!!
‘Black Smoke and Water Lilies’ by David Jon Fuller
I am born in the Valley of the Forest Monastery. It is a time of invasion.
I am five years old. My name is Quick Stream. I sit on the fence that pens our pigs while my father and mother work in the fields. The mud stinks a familiar stench; earth and slop and excrement. The sun is bright; it is summer. The mountains surrounding the valley still have snow covering the tops. My father has told me to keep an eye on the pigs, but to face away from the sun and watch the pass to the west. It is called the Way of Black Sorrow.
At seventeen years old, I remember watching the Way at five and tremble, for once again smoke blows through from the far side of the mountains; the marauders have returned. At seventeen I am safe behind the walls of the monastery, but I tremble nonetheless.
I am eleven years old. I live with my father’s sister and her husband. He is unwilling to share his home. I am old enough to work but not to be asked to leave. When the harvests are poor, he yells at me. Perhaps he thinks it is my fault. I don’t know what to say, so I leave until he has tired and gone to sleep. The trees are not thick around the foot of the mountains, but many evergreens grow higher up. The woods whisper in the wind. The sound is soothing, and it helps one to forget. At times, I see young monks wandering silently between the trees—they are holy men; they tread softly on the earth, listening to the whispers. They are men of peace, but all know they have trained long to defend their monastery. At eleven I have heard that they are fearsome in battle, as flowing in their movements as the sapling in the wind, but hard as oak when they strike. I hide and wait, and watch one as he passes. He does not look up; he gives no sign of noticing me; and yet it seems he expects me to be here. At eleven I do not understand how he can know this.
Want to write for the next Insignia anthology?
See our new Submissions Page
If you already own a copy of Insignia: Chinese Fantasy Stories, you should be able to get an updated file for FREE from your ebook distributor. Please check your account/library for this option.