There once was a girl who was born in a little temple atop a mountain named Yan. The temple was very dark and not much light could filter through. It was often cold and great winds from the east would rise and chill the girl to the bone. But the girl knew no different and thus it did not bother her. She had no one to look after her so the white doves that dwelled in the nearby trees would visit her in the temple. They would collect grains of rice and cook them in the boiling waterfalls above. The girl, who’s name was Yanxia, owned no clothes and no bed and so played about the temple naked and slept on the stone ground, keeping well fed from the rice the doves gave her.
One day, as Yanxia rose with the dawn, she heard a song in the distance. It was that of a man’s and she ran towards the entrance of the temple to hear it better. The song continued until dusk fell and when it did, Yanxia wept. She knelt down and prayed to the Goddess of the Moon. “Oh moon Goddess,” said she, “I have heard the voice of a young man sing in the distance and it has touched my heart. I am sad in the temple but I am scared of what is outside.”
At that moment, the moon Goddess appeared, tall with a long purple dress and dark, flowing hair. Her gaze shone on that of Yanxia’s and she held her in her arms. “Child,” she said gently, “do not weep so, there is a reason for your suffering. You were born in this temple, out of mere ashes, same as the phoenix who rises into a fire bird. You may think you are alone but they all know you in the kingdom, they call you the girl made of ash, because by a simple touch, you crumble.” At this the Moon Goddess touched Yanxia’s shoulder gently and the maiden felt her body wither. She wept again as she knew the Goddess was right. “Hush now, child” she continued. “what the people in the kingdom do not know is that you are made of ash for now but inside, you are as powerful as the dragon’s breath.”
The Moon Goddess then rose and asked the girl to stay very still. At this moment the temple illumed itself and the ash and dust that had settled on the temple floor rose and swiveled around the maiden. When the storm ceased, upon Yanxia’s back lay a pair of immense wings of the purest and softest feathers, like that of a dove’s. Their bone and muscle were as strong as the brilliant sails of the great ships that could be sailed on the Kingdom’s seas and when they flapped the whistle of the wind could be heard through them. The Goddess then lifted a folded red robe made of silk and gave it to Yanxia to cover her naked body. “Now do you see?” said the Goddess as Yanxia stood in her transformed self, “you are no longer the girl who withers at the touch, you are the Warrior-Princess of the Yan Mountain. You will fight to protect all beings, whether they be animal or human, spirit or tangible, made of light or darkness. Now go and follow the voice of the young man who sings, for he is a prince who longs for a princess. Let it be known that you are his, for his voice has touched your heart and you shall be married by the next evening.” Yanxia thanked the goddess a hundred times and then a hundred times more. The doves and the other animals of the temple bid her goodbye and she thanked them as well for being her friend. Yanxia was no longer scared of what was outside as she knew her wings could defeat anyone.
As dawn rose, Yanxia had made her way down the mountain and landed in a clearing by a cascade where lush grass and flowers grew. Exhausted from her sleepless night, she lay on the grass and fell fast asleep. Some hours later she awoke to the sound of a man humming a song as he sat by her. “Hello fair maiden,” he said. Yanxia widened her eyes astonished – it was the man she had heard singing so beautifully. “I am the prince of the Kingdom you see below you,” the man then pointed at her back “how did you get these wings and this radiant robe?” Yanxia rose. “The wings are my own, fair prince, and the robe was given to me by the Moon Goddess. I am Yanxia, Warrior-Princess of the Yan mountain.” The prince immediately rose and bowed before her. The two conversed for a long time in the clearing and Yanxia explained her life in the temple and the day she had heard his voice. In turn, the prince told her about his life in the Kingdom below and that the moment he had seen her, asleep in the clearing, he had fallen in love with her. Yanxia’s wings flapped gently in the wind and she said; “the Goddess of the Moon has said we shall be married by this evening.” “Because my father is a great believer of the Moon Goddess,” said the prince, “he will no doubt believe you and want to make you my wife. Come with me and we shall rule the Kingdom and never part.”
That evening the Kingdom rejoiced in the celebration of the two who would rule for many years to come. And Yanxia stayed faithful to her promise to the Moon Goddess and fought to protect all beings, whether animal or human, spirit or tangible, made of light or darkness.