This story is taken from "Full Circle, Dancing the Meridians", by Alister Bredee. A downloadable e-version of the book is available fromhttp://healthambit.com/books/
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
"Once long, long ago there lived in the Imperial City a beautiful princess, the daughter of the King. Her eyes were almond shaped and so gently coloured. Her fair hair swept down her back in cascades. As a lady of the court, her demeanour was regal, yet she knew full well to avert her gaze when people other than her immediate family came into her presence. Many looked on her with wonder and whispered about whom the courtiers would choose for her in marriage. It was rumoured than more than one suitor had presented himself but had been soundly rejected by the King. The King, you see, listened to his daughter and not the sea of fawning orderlies who surrounded him from break of day to the last thing at night. Often he would sit in his chambers and secretly observe the fair princess Yin, as she toyed with her food or sat quietly. On those nights when he could cross the courtyard to her quarters so they could be alone together, she working at her dainty cross stitch and elegant embroidery, and he was free to talk. To him she seemed so sad as she carefully worked with her needle. It was as if she had a secret, a deep, dark secret, as indeed she had.
Her secret lived far away from the Court on the plains that lay in the centre of their country. He was tall and lithe, a real warrior who rode his horse across the flat lands as if he were flying with the wind itself as he galloped off into the east towards where the sun rose. The warm vibrancy of the sun seemed to give him life. Yes, she loved Prince Yang very much, but he came from a family of soldiers who had once betrayed the Imperial family, as a result, could not be trusted. There was no way her father would ever consent to a marriage between the two of them.
Yin let a small tear trickle down her cheek as she sat at her needlework, remembering their meeting when he had come to the city on a diplomatic mission. She felt a little cold as she remembered his warmth and vibrancy. She recalled with a sigh, their meeting in the Palace orchard on the night of a full moon. How he had come to her, his eyes bright with passion and declared his undying love. She listened enraptured as every word sank in. Yes, she too felt the love. A love that lay deep inside her knowing only her Prince could reach that secret place where that love lay. She often lay awake picturing him in her arms. Above all else, she wanted to love him and take care of him and be with him. But she knew this was not to be. Not yet, anyway, but each time her father brought her a young man whom he felt would be suitable, she was able to persuade him that some fault lay with the suitor and escape from the arranged marriage. She knew she could not tell her father, who loved her so much, about her meeting with the Prince Yang. How light as a feather he had scaled the orchard wall, and easily jumped down on the other side. A meeting such as this would bring dishonour to her, and her father would surely seek to punish her beautiful Prince. His anger would be immense at the insult to his family, and he would without doubt ask for the Prince’s death in revenge. That Prince of hers, he who had ridden away that night to the outer reaches of the kingdom was forbidden to her. He had gone quickly in order to protect her honour, positive in his intent that he would certainly see her once again.
She had heard some of the ladies of the court gossiping about her brave soldier, who it is said, struck four men dead with a single blow of his sword. It was rumoured too, that many other ladies like the Princess Yin had fallen in love with this young man. They too wanted to possess him, marry him and have his children who would be unquestionably beautiful like he. It was said that he had reciprocated to some of these amorous advances. Some said the Princess Zang had been sent away from her family castle high in the hills because of her infatuation with the Prince. But Yin knew this was idle talk, the words of jealous women. Deep inside she had her secret, and nobody could take it away. All she needed was time; time to work out a scheme that would allow the Prince Yang to be hers forever.
So she sent him a message via one of her faithful servants. Many weeks later the weary messenger rode into Yang’s camp, which was situated close to the Mongolian border. He received the Princess’s letter graciously and read it slowly by the light of the campfire. As he read a smile flitted across his face and then he pondered seriously. His soldiers watched his shadow as he walked up and down across his tent all night through. As the dawn broke, he summoned his generals to war council; before the sun had reached the mid-heaven his army had broken camp and was marching across the plains in the direction of the Imperial City. It was a long journey to the capital, and soon the King heard that Yang’s army was advancing towards his capital. The King was furious, as this reckless behaviour on the part of the impetuous Yang seemed to confirm his deepest fears.
“You cannot trust that family. They are all traitors, every one of them! Now this Yang has turned against me!”
Daily the ruler received intelligence reports of how the rebel army was moving swiftly towards the city. He knew the capital was impregnable but was certain his troops would soon overcome the nuisance. But he was a cautious man and a seed of doubt began to worry him.
In the evenings, he would go as usual to his daughter’s quarters as she sat stitching and confide in her his doubts and anxieties. Strangely the wily princess did not attempt to comfort her father but gently massaged his worries, so they grew greater. Soon Yang’s army was camped outside the Imperial City itself and the two sides prepared for a great battle.
On the eve of the battle, old Ming one of the gardeners in the Imperial City was watering the roses close to the Princess’s private quarters. There he saw an old stooped woman limping towards him. She looked harmless enough, and he took little notice of her. It was unusual to see strangers in the royal gardens, but the gardener had thoughts of his own. He had serious fears for the safety of his son, who would be in the battle the next day.
That night there was a terrible storm. Hideous peals of thunder clapped like cannon fire whilst great sheets of lightening turned darkness into eerie day. It was as if a terrific battle was being fought in the heavens. The rain lashed against the stout walls of the capital whilst lakes of water appeared from nowhere. These pools were whipped into life by a raging wind; this meant remarkably few of the townspeople slept at all due to terrible clamour of the storm. The King like many of his citizens rose well before dawn. He hurried out onto the battlements, so he would be with his advisors as the battle began. However, as the Sun rose they were astonished to see that instead of a formidable army waiting to begin a fierce battle there was an immense field of wheat situated where the soldiers should have been, and instead of the cacophony of war there was a perfect silence, an overwhelming peace.
As the King turned away astounded by what he saw, three of Princess Yin’s ladies in waiting came running up to him.
“The princess is nowhere to be found!” They searched the palace and the city but could not find a trace of her. The story would end here, and remain one of those unsolved mysteries that men would puzzle over as time unfolded. However, shortly afterwards an old man was to be often seen in the city. Some said he was a magician, and some proclaimed him to be a powerful healer whilst others said he was just an ordinary gardener. He said all he could remember was the night of the great storm before the terrible battle that never was, but might have been. He told those who would listen that on the night in question he was in the Imperial Garden tending the roses, and he went to a forbidden place close to Yin’s summer house and there he saw a beautiful young couple making love. As their passion grew the wind rose in strength as the young man groaned in ecstasy the thunder pealed across the night, as the young woman panted in delight the lightning flashed across the sky. He said he must have fainted due to the intensity of the experience for when he awoke the couple had gone just as the dawn was struggling into the sky. However, in the summerhouse in place of the fervent lovers sat a monk with features like an angel. He beckoned the old gardener to approach and as he did so he handed him two ivory figurines. One was male and the other female. These figures each had seven lined patterns etched on them, along the blueprint, there were a series of points.
The monk offered the figures to Ming saying:
“Take these and bring them to the world, for if you understand the harmony that comes from balancing these lines of chi, you will understand the secret of love, peace and good health that you must share with your brothers and sisters.”
Before the old man could thank the monk, he had gone, and where the blameless one had been sitting there lay a parchment bound in leather. A paper that explained these lines or meridians, what they did, and how they worked. Strangely underneath the parchment lay another paper this one appeared to be a letter. It bore the Imperial Crest and it read:
“My Sweetest Yang,
Help me, lest they never know.