Genre: Fantasy

The legend say:

In ancient days in a village 150 miles away from Xi’an, China lived a medicine woman. Her name was Nian Zhen and she was highly respected in the area and very powerful.

Nian Zhen used herbs and crystals to heal, punish and advise the believers who came to see her.  She could see things and always spoke the truth, often upsetting those who came but she could not lie.

A rich and selfish farmer’s daughter came to see her, bringing several admirers with to put on a show. She believed that she was more important, educated, and beautiful than anyone else, including Nian Zhen.

Walking in, she sat uninvited and stared at the old woman.

‘Tell me my fortune’ she demanded.

‘Will I always be this beautiful? Will I marry? Will he be a Prince?’ she babbled on but the old woman remained silent.

‘Come on, speak up. Here is money.’  The farmer’s daughter, whose name has been struck from the legend, threw a bag of money into the woman’s lap and demanded answers.  The old woman lifted her head, milky eyes stared through the rude woman, but she had no fear.  Her ill manners knew no bounds and she leaned forward and pushed Nian Zhen then laughed, turning to her friends.

‘She must be mute or stupid. Or maybe she doesn’t know. She’s a fraud.’  The friends having more respect for the old woman bowed and backed out of the room, they wanted no part of the ridicule.  They were afraid.

‘Cowards. Where are you going? Surely an old mute doesn’t scare you.’ She laughed as she swung around to face her again, catching her breath as the old woman stood.

Grasping her hands in an iron grip Nian Zhen moved close to the woman. Closer.  She struggled but couldn’t let go. Quick as a flash she placed a ring on the girl’s finger. It was ancient silver, 5 stones adorned the band.  Blue, yellow, red, black and white.

‘Let me go old woman’ she struggled but Nian Zhen held her tight, waiting for her to stop. Eventually she did, crying in pain and fear, she fell to her knees.

‘Please.  I’m sorry.’

The old woman released her hands and leaning in, whispering…

‘This ring will only release you on your death. The blue stone will bring you sadness, the yellow stone fear, red anger and hate and black, death. The white stone is for forgiveness and life but you will never experience that.  On your death, whoever gets the ring will choose only one stone according to what is in their soul. They need to choose wisely or suffer and die. You are cursed.’

Releasing her grip the girl ran away pulling at the ring until her finger bled, but it was stuck fast.

The rude woman lay dying, ravaged by disease, anger, hate and sadness while shaking in terror, finally it released its grip.  Her family surrounded her profoundly sad.  None of her so-called friends has spoken to her since she saw the old woman.

‘Bury it with her’ her father ordered, tears running down his face, for they knew the story.  He had begged the old woman on his knees to release his daughter, but it was too late.

As her hand maiden washed her corpse, the ring bounced off onto the floor. Looking around she picked it up and pocketed it, feeling it to be a waste and she didn’t believe in the legend anyway. She had just chosen her fate, the yellow stone.

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