From the Background:
Every year the Temples in Fang ring their bells of winter yore. In a rhythmic tune, the
bells chime slowly then quickly. Like a xylophone, each instrument echoes in separate
pounds, vibrant tolling sounds highlighting the festive evening. The temples are alight
with red, green and white lanterns; across the laneway the large tavern has decorated its
walls with the very similar art. The air not only sounds nice but smells of sweet
sandalwood incense. It seems to be yet another year like the last.
You stand there in the winter solstice, listen in, and watch the temple players. A group od
dancers dressed in heavy garb come out and take large steps. They look as though their
acting out a bear or massive beast. They start to dance amidst the onlookers. It has
starting to get colder so you decide to call it a night and return home in the Ming district.
Upon arriving there are soldiers on horseback and one empty horse, its rider is handing
your father a scroll. You hurry into your home as the soldiers depart. You ask what the
scroll is but he ignores you. Your mother tells you that he has been selected to venture
out into the Ice Fingers Mountains. Your father is partially crippled, although he could
walk from one end of Fang to the next there is no chance of his survival hiking the
mountains and possibly a mountain.
That evening and in silence, everyone ate their meal and went to bed. As you step by
your parent’s carrying with you a clay lantern with a tiny flame sticking out of the spout
you spy you father practicing Chi. He’s moving his hands and legs in perfect unison then
keels over in pain. His hip is hurting him again, and he stays in one spot for some time
until he recovers. He picks up the sword Sukumvit gave to him at the third Trial of
Champions. It is a magnificent piece, with a heart of steel, a head of rubies and
shimmering eyes. The sword looks as though it were made of blue steel. It is nearly light
as a feather. He shakes his head and frowns. You can see him fighting the tears that he’s
no longer the champion he used to be.
That night as you lie in bed, you cannot help but feel anxious. You are not trained in the
art of swordsmanship like you father but you do know how to use one, you are not the
proper age since you are only a teenager, and you are the wrong gender but that doesn’t
matter to you now. You don’t want your father to go. All of these three things could alter
your outcome, but your father is not in faultless shape.
You get up and tiptoe through the chilly house and quietly slide open their door and
sneak the sword and scroll and return to your room. The scroll reads that there is a
danger, unlike any other danger lurking ever closer toward the town. A few selected in
Zengis are setting out to the Ice Finger Mountains to destroy a madman called Father
Grim Holiday who is rumoured to be creating hideous objects for this year’s Winter
Festivals, some of which are finding their way down the pass already. You have read
enough. Your father is not going, you reason. Quickly, you go to his wardrobe, and put
on his warrior uniform. Although you do not know what you are doing, you have decided
to guess you way through; it has always worked before, why not now?