Here’s a short excerpt from the new anthology, Insignia: Chinese Fantasy Stories. The Great Qilin is a Young Adult piece, one of three in this anthology.
THE GREAT QILIN
I dreamed of a most strange beast; part-dragon, part-horse, part-lion. It flew down from the evening sky, trailing a blaze of fire behind it and landed with surprising grace before me.
In my vision-state I was still dressed in my favorite pink pajamas; my feet bare and chilled by the damp lawn where I stood behind my house. I was not physically present, but I felt the wind, blinked at the bright moon, and smelled the subtle musky scent of the visiting creature.
“Ting Sun,” the beast spoke my name.
I trembled, in awe, not fear. I had the gift to communicate with earthly animals, and they sometimes spoke to me in visions, but it was my first experience with one of the three heavenly creatures: dragon, phoenix, and qilin.
“I am,” I answered with a parched throat. I straightened my back and neck, preparing to receive an important message or task.
“Ting Sun, I request your assistance on a simple, yet important matter.” The qilin rose on all four hooved-feet and turned sideways. “Please sit on my back and we will leave now.”
Me? Ride a qilin? I had never heard of such a quest, but it filled me with excitement.
We traveled through the starry sky, soaring over the land and waters of Yunnan province, heading north. I gripped the qilin’s mane with one hand, the other I trailed through its flaming fire. It didn’t burn at all and I thrilled at the multitude of colors trapped in each thread of flame. I examined the qilin’s body with great interest. The size of a large lion, it was, however, covered in the scales of a dragon. Beautiful, pearl-like scales in the lightest shade of blue. Its thin mane was a darker blue and finished at the top of its shoulders like a horse’s does. Two horns of smooth black ivory curled outwards and up, resembling those of an ox.
Below me, mountains and deserts passed by. Where were we going exactly? We were still in China as far as I could tell, but I had never before left Yunnan so was unfamiliar with the landscape we crossed.
Thank you for reading! Please visit the Insignia Vol.2 page for more details and to-buy links.