Henry Holt & Co., 1989; Heinemann (U.K.) 1989
Book of the Month Club 1989; Fawcett (U.S. paperback) 1990
Centrum (Denmark) 1990; Rizzoli (Italy) 1990
Mandarin (U.K. paperback) 1991; Heyne (Germany) 1991
Divisione Euroclub Italia (Italy) 199 1
beginnings from SILK ROAD
Before the beginning, blanker than an eggshell, blanker than the blankest
scroll, blanker than all the hungry wordless pages in the hungry word-filled
dynasties of what will someday be the future, is the uncarved block.
And then there is Nu Wa. Who gets bored.
My name is, for the moment, Parrot, though it has been by turns Little
Imp and Dragonfly and Bordermoon and Skywhistle and Heavenglaive and Greenpearl
and more. I’ll tell you the story of how I got each of those names, though
that is rather a forward thing for a woman of Tang to do. Or a man [and I was
that too, for a little while]. But no matter. Here the rules are different, are
whatever you and I can agree for them to be.
But to proceed: I was born out in the Tang garrison town of Khotan, on
the edge of the dry wastelands of the Takla Makan, far out along the Silk Road
that stretches west from China across the desert toward Samarqand and Persia and
the fable empire of H’rom. My father was the garrison commander…
The White Jade
The Black Jade
Two streams of lifeblood, mingling, wet the sands.
A fire in the
pass holds firm.
But the desert
folk and the tribes of the West roam free…
Once above a time, deep within the rosy cloudbanks of the morning sky, in
the great Yang-Purple Palace of the supreme Taoist deity, the Jade Emperor
Himself, the Assistant Undersecretary of Baubles humbly presents a newly arrived
gift of tribute to His Divine Majesty. All the spirits, sylphs, and sages of the
court gather round to see it: a board for playing Go, made of rhinoceros horn
inlaid in squares, and two bowls of Go stones, each bowl studded with violet
cowrie shells. The courtiers draw in their breaths and move closer…
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