Blood and Porcelain
rating: +8+x

The old ‘you’ no longer exists. Every inch of you, from the top of your head to the soles of your feet, lay in pieces. Both your porcelain outside and clay insides shattered as the royal advisor struck you in the back. There were no guards stationed near the throne room, your machinations and your alchemist friend were more than enough to keep them occupied. But as soon as you fled out the window, the advisor was there. He disliked you from the very beginning, from the first day when you dazzled the royal court with your porcelain creations that could move as living beings. He knew you had malicious intention. Your body shattering on the ground was only confirmation of his suspicion.

Of course it had to be him, the only man closer to the king than you. Someone was jealous of all the attention you were getting, and rightfully so. But you weren’t trying to make him jealous, oh no. Your alchemist friend was privy to the fact that you were not a mortal man; he knew of your origins: born from the banks of the yellow river, molded into being by Nüwa’s own hand. In his pursuit for the secret to immortality; you were the most intriguing man he had ever met. He would have followed you anywhere.

(You did not know what to make of this relationship, but you allowed him to stay. No person had ever showed you this much good will. And you did not want to be alone again.)

So when you confided him of your plan to assassinate the king, of course he would leap to aid you in any way he could.

You had to admit that some of your exchanges with the king turned the room even hotter than the most fiery depths of the kiln. It was all just a plot of course, to get the king to trust you. He had already left everything he had to you in his will, everything was ripe for the occasion, the sword was in your hand, in his throat, in your sheathe, and-

Ah. The advisor.

Not half a minute had passed when he drops to the floor as you did, blood splattering of what remained of your glassy skin. A figure steps from behind, breath shaken, temples wet, dripping sweat.

It was your friend. His typical shy smile was replaced with a trembling face as he rushed over to you and cupped what was left of you. His hands did not leave your face until he placed you in his eight trigrams stove. He would fix you.

You smelled smoke, and coughed.

Who are you? You are the first child of your mother, who made you with her own two hands. A test, an experiment, a proof of concept. Not meant to last for more than a few days before you crumbled back into whence you came. Death would not swallow you so soon. Improvement is inevitable.

You were not perfect. A blob of loess in the mold of a man who cannot hold himself together, hard as he tried. As your siblings rose to existence, your flaws became even more apparent. Your mother’s skills had considerably improved; the rest of her children had complete set of organs and seven orifices. You took note, and made improvements to blend in. Humans are generally less likely to run away screaming from one of their own than a pile of mud in the silhouette of a man; a lie, a fraud. Not that that was what you are.

You were different, a cut above the rest, the very first human to be alive, molded by Nüwa, Matriarch and Mother . You must, no, deserved to rule. The way that the eldest brother takes care of his younger siblings. Someone had to protect them when Mother isn’t there. She abandoned you. She abandoned them to die during the Flood that Tilted the World.

You could never forgive her.

You didn’t know. You didn’t know that during the Flood that Tilted the World, when the five stones were not enough to seal the torrential rains that poured down, your mother threw her own body into the sky to stop the floodwater. You didn’t know she was there still. You didn’t know that she loved you, as she loved all her children.

Your mother.

Her son. Her son. Her son.

You cough, louder, this time, eyes stinging from the smoke. Any previous doubts had been cast away. You trusted him.

You’re trying to transmutate soil into gold? You questioned, raising an eyebrow. Somehow you doubted him. It wouldn’t be the first time one of his experiments failed.

Why not? His eyes slid to you, lingering. You only now realized that you could see your face reflected in him. You wanted to say something about this, but before you could open your mouth, the gray sludge bubbled again. Your friend turned his attention to another herb, measured some, and sprinkled it into the pot. It won’t be like last time. Promise.

The smell took three weeks to go away. You crossed your arms. He couldn’t possibly have forgotten how the smoke lingered everywhere after the incident. Even the neighbors knocked on the door to ask if you two were okay. You resist the urge to mention this.

Well then, you say. Could I have a sip of it when you’re done?

I didn’t know you could drink. He added something to the mixture.

You haven’t seen anything yet.

Have I? He paused. I’ve seen you.

You look back to the bubbling formula. A reaction was taking place.

Dubious gray sludge solidified into glittering gold. Maybe this endeavor was going somewhere.

Your friend cheered. Yes!

The gold turned back into sludge.

No! He groaned. You patted his back. Don’t worry. You can try again sometime.

At least he made good on his word. The heat was intoxicating, compressing you from all four sides.

It had just occurred to you that you have never thought about dying. Humans and animals lived and died, but you are still here. If there was one benefit to being made out of clay, it would be this. When you put a piece of clay in the kiln, the flames made it tougher and more durable. The same will happen to you. This is just the next step in your never ending evolution. You will change. And change. And change.

There were others, besides Nüwa. A few years after you finally chiseled a human face onto your head, you came across your Mother’s husband, Fuxi. He was among mortals as an average carpenter. Had you realized his true identity before you entered, you would have stayed far away from the town he was in. But you were right in front of him, and it was too late to back down.

You were going to apologize because of your ignorance, but the first thing he said was:

You look just like your mother.

Stunned into silence, you could not utter a single word. You could not decide how you felt about this; anger, sadness, or simply recognition. At last, you cleared your throat and spoke.

You don’t know anything about me. You don’t.

You turned and left the woodworking shop.

You heaved violently, this time. The smoke was hurting your brain immensely, you thrashed and clawed at the iron holding you back. You were going to tear that damn alchemist into pieces. Didn’t he learn anything just by watching your craft? Did he have to insist he do things his own way? Did he even care?

No. No, of course he cared. You didn’t need to sleep at night, but you laid down for a few hours each day in imitation. He could have killed you then. He didn’t. Why? Because he cares. Because he likes your company. Because he is your friend.

The heat, it was white-hot now, you were being enveloped the sun. You could look directly at it and not be blinded, for you are not an ordinary mortal.

You were a mud person graced by the hands of a goddess. You are a self-made man carved into a human with your own two hands.
You were lost and abandoned. You are found and loved.
You were angry and vindictive. You are thankful and kind.
You were nothing. But you can be so much more.

Wake up.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License