There once was sad and lonely old water spirit that lived underneath a mountain. She was so sad that cried every day. Whenever she cried there would be rain. Thus, it rained near constantly and the people living near the mountain were miserable because the river would flood out and destroy their homes.
The floods were so bad that many of the villagers moved away and of those that stayed very few could barely cobble together a living.
Among these villagers was a farmer who had four children and a pregnant wife. The farmer worked hard on his fields every day, but the constant rain made it very difficult to plant and gather wheat, his most important crop. The only plant that thrived was rice. So the whole family ate plain rice along with most of the village.
One night, the villagers held a meeting in the great hall. They decided that something needed to be done about the Water Spirit. It was decided that tomorrow morning, the village men would gather together and hunt down the Water Spirit. And so the farmer also gathered his axe and bid his family farewell. He took his eldest son with him, and though he was only twelve years old, the farmer’s son was eager to help his father and save the village.
They left next day and for twelve days and twelve nights they wandered in the mountain’s underground tunnels. One by one each of the men got sick and were unable to go on. They would fall where they stood, into a deep sleep that they could not be woken from. Until just the farmer and his son remained. Then, the farmer too fell, and the farmer’s son was left alone. Bravely he carried on, feeling afraid and uncertain, yet still determined to save his family.
Soon he reached a little antechamber that led into a great cavern full of waterfalls and cisterns.
To be continued…