A Strange Winter

Ruby had followed the chrysanthemum petal into the darkness of the Wukan forest. The petal’s dull glow had led her to a cave under a fig tree, where she waited behind a berry bush, for the nine-tailed fox to come.

Winters were no strangers to her people, but this one was, for it had stolen all their colors. Now, even Nainai’s rooster looked gray, instead of his usual welcoming orange. People had stopped waking up to the calls of a gray rooster, and that made him extremely grumpy. So much that he refused to take even a bite of his favorite corn. Ruby loved him. She had to do something.

After several hours of waiting, she went inside the cave. Thousands of cocoons glowed against the wall, filling the cave in a spectrum of colors.

She picked up a blue cocoon and it broke at her touch. A blue butterfly, as bright as a mid-day sky flew out of the cave painting the world with strokes of blue. Soon, butterflies of every color flew out of the cave painting the world around them. When she set the last cocoon free, which was the same orange as Nainai’s rooster, she ran away excitedly to her town, not waiting for the fox anymore.