The Silkworms Game
This is a short story I wrote myself based off of a myth that I read by chance about the Chinese Empress Leizu. I hope you enjoy reading my story and I would love to read your feedback in the comments. I also encourage readers to see if they can answer the final riddle themselves without Google's help. Please read and enjoy!
The Silkworms Game
The young and beautiful Empress Leizu was an interesting lady, not an important lady mind you, but interesting indeed. There is a legend, long forgotten by now, that speaks of the Empress and the endless day she took tea.
One ordinary afternoon Empress Leizu thought to herself 'I shall sit down for tea outside today. It is a lovely day after all.' And so, Empress Leizu being one to do as she thinks, went out onto her favorite balcony and sat down in her favorite chair underneath The White Tree. Such a wonderful tree it was, it grew tall and healthy through out the years, adorned with many green leafs and many red berries, even though she would never eat the berries she enjoyed their company for they filled the air around her with a sweet scent.
The sun shone down on the Empress and warmed her face she sat with a cup of tea in her hand and many thoughts in her mind, she started to feel sleepy and she very nearly dozed off when...
Empress Leizu jumped up with shock almost dropping her cup, which would have been a terrible waste of perfectly good tea, but what made her jump with such fright. Something had fallen into her cup of tea, she was quite displeased by this. After removing her glove, she reached her delicate fingers into her cup and pulled out what looked like a white stone. However, it could not have been a stone for it was soft and warm.
'How curious.' she thought and sat down, she held the object in her open palm and started to unwrap it. She wrapped it around her finger and she felt a warm sensation. 'How curious indeed.'
Once the object was fully unwrapped she noticed something odd in her palm, a small creature was asleep in her hand, but it was waking up. A small, white worm like creature, but somehow not like a worm, more beautiful, she thought. She placed it gently on the table beside her and watched as it slowly looked up at her.
"Hello there little thing," said Empress Leizu, "how odd it is for you to be sleeping. The day is far to lovely to be slept away would you not say."
"Why it is a lovely day indeed." a small, delicate voice replied. Of course The Empress was not expecting a reply so it took her a good long moment to realize where the voice had come from.
"Oh my! You can talk sir?"
"Of this I am aware." The small creature replied to the confused Empress. "It is indeed like Humans, to expect so little of little things."
The Empress felt insulted by this and she did her best to hide it, for she was raised to but a smile and kindness first no matter what. She smiled at the small creature and did her best to apologize.
"Please forgive me my ignorance, mightn't you tell me your name so we can be introduced properly."
"Yes indeed, manners do make the man." The small creature made an attempt to straighten himself. "I am called many things across the world, my own name is not important for I'm afraid it will not be remembered. However, for this particular matter you may call me Silkworm." There was a moment of silence for dramatic effect The Empress assumed. "What must I call you
"I am shocked you do not know Silkworm. I am The Empress Leizu, this is my palace balcony you are on and my tree you have taken as your sleeping place."
"I beg your pardon Empress, I am ashamed for not knowing your title but I feel inclined to point out that this great tree is not your property, nor is it mine."
The Empress was taken back by this statement but did her best to hide her confusion.
"Will then who does it belong to may I ask?"
"Considering you did just ask then I suppose you can."
When the Silkworm said this The Empress was enraged, 'to hell with manners' she thought, 'I will not be insulted in such ways by such a small thing'.
"Now you listen to me Silkworm, what gives you the right to speak to me like that in my own home. You are being rude Sir, quite rude indeed."
"Do you not mean Who?"
"Who gave me the right to speak? Why it was the same one that this tree belongs to."
The Empress furrowed her brow in confusion.
"Our Lady Earth of course. She is the one that has birthed me with my own mind and mouth to say to anyone anything I please. I think therefore I am."
"Right..." The Empress was not sure what to say, she felt herself losing this argument, "You are still quite rude."
"You are correct Empress, I was. I apologize."
"Thank you, now can we get this out of the way and have a civilized conversation."
The Silkworm made a bowing motion, "Indeed."
Empress Leizu regretted making such a suggestion immediately for she had no clue what to have a conversation about, if she had wakened up in the morning expecting to have Silkworm fall into her tea cup then she might have made a plan. Alas this was not the case. They were only in silence for a moment but Silkworm had noticed the Empresses hesitation and decided to speak himself.
"I see you have little left to say Empress." Her cheeks flashed red at this statement but Silkworm continued, "I suggest a game. I do love games."
The Empress smiled, "A game? Sounds like a marvellous idea Silkworm, what game shall it be?"
"Why, a game of questions of course!"
"Indeed, then Silkworm as my guest, I'll allow you to start this game of questions."
He bowed his head forward and thought for a moment, then he spoke. "If you have me, you want to share me. If you share me, you haven't got me. What am I?"
The Empress giggled to herself, of course she knew the answer but his was not the kind of questions she was expecting. However, she thought to herself, 'this may yet turn out to be quite a interesting afternoon'.
"The answer is of course A Secret." The Empress said modestly.
"I would applaud you only I have no arms nor hands." Silkworm said sensing The Empresses ego behind her modesty. "It is your question."
The Empress smiled. "I'll keep it a little easy for you shall I; What has a head and a tail, but no body?"
"I believe the answer to be a Coin, Empress." Silkworms answer was so swift that the Empresses smile wavered for a moment.
"Quite right Silkworm, bravo. It is now your go."
The game of questions went on for what seemed like an eternity, each question getting more difficult than the last and each answer requiring a long moments thought. Once The Empress was no longer underestimating Silkworm he found himself enjoying the game, however, The Empress was feeling quite unhappy and a little baffled, she found herself thinking throughout the whole game of a question that he would never be able to answer so the game would finally end.
"Imagine you are in a dark room. How do you get out?" Silkworm asked.
The Empress glared at Silkworm as she thought of the answer. "Stop Imagining."
"Correct! I am amazed by your imagination for without it such a question can not be answered."
"I grow tired of this game Silkworm." The Empress sighed.
"I do not. It has been many years since I have had a game this enjoyable. Heavy is the burden of wise ones when no one understands what they say and you seem wise enough for me."
"I will prove myself wiser Silkworm, one more question. I will ask one more and if you can not answer it you and your silk bed will be mine and you will never speak again."
They stared at each other, The Empresses eyes were red with anger but Silkworm was not scared for he was use to not having a voice.
"What if I do answer your question Empress? A deal can not have only one side. If I do answer your question correctly, then the game will never end. You will play it with me. For eternity."
Empress Leizu looked at the sun as it set and she thought of this as the first day of a never ending game of questions, then she stared down at Silkworm and their eyes met. 'Heavy is the burden of wise ones' she thought and she made up her mind.
Silkworm smiled at her and he waited patiently for her question.
The Empress took a deep breath and asked, "What is greater than God, more evil than the devil, the poor have it, the rich need it, and if you eat it, you'll die?"
Empress Leizu 'Silkworm Mother'
Leizu, also known as Xi Lingshi, was a legendary Chinese empress and wife of the Yellow Emperor. Leizu discovered silkworms while having a midday tea, and a cocoon fell in her tea.
According to one account, a silkworm cocoon fell into her tea, and the heat unwrapped the silk until it stretched across her entire garden. When the silk ran out, she saw a small cocoon and realized that this cocoon was the source of the silk.
© 2017 Sinaed Commins