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Earth Dragon, Turning

Downwind from the encampment, the wind stank of refuse. The stench of people weeks into an unwashed trek intensified as Yue Ling limped out of the tree line, raising her hands over her head as she slowly approached the sentries. Both were young, younger than her oldest nephews. They straightened as she got close, hands tightening over their spears. “Who are you? State your business,” said the closest.

“My name is Yue Ling. I’m a medical bak chang seller,” Yue Ling said, twisting her body to show off the large woven basket strapped to her back. “Three wen apiece.”

“Medical bak chang? Never heard of such a thing. Isn’t a medical diet soup and tonics?” The younger sentry scoffed. “How did you even find us? We’re an hour’s walk from the closest village.”

Yue Ling gestured at the muddy scar behind her, a mashed stew of footprints, hoof marks, and cart ruts that wound through the bamboo forest. “Wasn’t hard.”

The other sentry looked at Yue Ling’s travel-stained clothes and gentled his voice. “We can’t let you into the camp, but one of the military doctors is my cousin. I can have him check over your stock. If there’s nothing wrong with it, you can set up shop here for the day. How about that?”

The younger sentry scowled. “We might get into trouble.”

“The food will be safe, and she won’t be entering the camp. Besides, I miss bak chang.”

“Please,” Yue Ling said, unslinging her basket. The younger sentry grumbled but said nothing as his colleague flagged down a passing soldier.

Eventually, another soldier holding a doctor’s box emerged, looking Yue Ling over before bending to inspect her basket with a silver needle. Behind the military doctor walked a tall woman in gold-trimmed black mountain armour that jingled as she walked, a longsword buckled at her hip, and a tasselled spear in hand. As Yue Ling gawked, the sentries saluted, clasping their hands together. “General.”

“Which village are you from?” asked the General. She didn’t look far from Yue Ling’s age, though she did look just as tired.

“To answer General Xie…Yue Village,” Yue Ling said.

“You know me?”

“Even in the village, we heard that the Unbroken Spear was on her way to appease the earth dragon.”

The sentries tensed up—even the doctor looked over. Yue Ling glanced at them, startled. What had she said wrong? However, General Xie merely sniffed. “Appease? That’s a new one.”

“Appease,” Yue Ling said, forcing herself to look the General in the eye. She managed it only for a heartbeat, trembling as she dropped her gaze. General Xie exuded a suffocating aura up close, cold-blooded and unforgiving, forged out of a lifetime spent on the frontier. Her eyes were worse—both pitiless and appraising. A butcher facing a cut of meat.

“Interesting,” General Xie said. She made an impatient gesture at the doctor. “Well?”

“So far, it’s not poisonous, but I haven’t checked through all the bak chang,” the doctor said.

“Check through it, and distribute it however you like. I’ll buy it all.” General Xie dug out three taels from her sleeve and tossed them to Yue Ling.

“This—it’s too much,” Yue Ling protested.

“Think of it as a consultation fee.” General Xie’s mouth curled up at the edges, baring her teeth. “Come. Discuss ‘appeasement’ with me.”

The earth dragon turned when Yue Ling was eight. The initial tremors collapsed the cliff beside her second uncle’s fields, burying the harvest in silt and shattered trees. The aftershocks cracked open a maw between the carpenter’s land and the village chief’s, and shook half the houses in the village apart. It could have been worse. None of the injuries people had suffered were more severe than a fractured limb. They’d picked themselves up and rebuilt, only for the epidemic from the nearby shattered township to spread.

As Yue Ling’s father, the village’s doctor, was going door-to-door checking on patients, her mother taught her to make bak chang for the first time. They squatted together in the yard of their small house, beside a wooden bucket of glutinous rice, mushrooms marinated in medical tonics, mung beans, chestnuts, ginger, and reams of cooking strings. There would have been chunks of pork belly and sausage in better years, but it had been a lean year even before the dragon had turned. The sheaves of pre-soaked bamboo leaves had been carefully inked the night before with edible dyes, the blessing-scripts forming long talismans that would soak into the rice when steamed. A craft that was a family secret, passed down from her mother.

Yue Ling overlapped two bamboo leaves into a cross, forming a cone in the centre. First some glutinous rice, then some of the stuffing, then more of the rice. Yue Ling’s fingers grew clumsy as she tried to fold the ends of the leaves inwards, sometimes spilling bits of the precious ingredients. While her mother tied perfect pyramids each time, Yue Ling’s grew increasingly misshapen. When her latest attempt looked more like a brick than a cone, she looked at her mother in embarrassment.

Last year, her mother would’ve clicked her tongue and told her to refold it. She would say that the art of making medicated food lay not only in the choice of effective ingredients but also in the detail and care with which it was made. That day, Yue Ling didn’t even get more than a glance as her mother took the pouch from her and set it with the rest. Exhaustion and worry had gouged dark hollows beneath her parents’ eyes. Sweat flattened her mother’s greying hair against her bun in the humidity.

“Mother, don’t worry. Things will be fine,” Yue Ling said, trying to sound confident. “The village chief said that the magistrate will have to handle it, and that the Imperial court will send doctors.”

Her mother laughed, a brittle sound. “Better to hope that your father can handle it.”

“The chief was wrong?” The chief had never struck Yue Ling as a liar.

“He will be wrong.” Her mother tied off another perfect pyramid, setting it aside. “Do you know why the earth dragon turns?”

No one had ever mentioned such a creature to Yue Ling before, not until it had flattened half the village from afar. She shook her head.

“Some believe it to be a form of Heaven’s punishment on the Imperial Court. The Emperor will often issue an invitation of guilt—asking officials to criticise his mandate. They’d collectively decide that it’d be something like having to repair the Imperial Mausoleum, or stop building the latest Autumn Palace, or cease sabre-rattling on the border.” Another brittle laugh. “As the tremors fade, so will their fear. Those whom the dragon buried in its grief will be forgotten, because we were never all that important.”

Yue Ling blinked. She’d never heard her mother say so much before, or even mention the court. She’d known that her family had moved to Yue Village from elsewhere, but had never been told where. Her mother was literate—unusual for a woman. Even as her mother taught her with a stick and a tray of sand her letters, she had also warned Yue Ling not to mention it to others. It was to be their little secret—one of many.

As her mother began to fill another bak chang, Yue Ling asked, “Why is the earth dragon so sad?”

“Why not?” Her mother didn’t even look up. “The world is a miserable place. You will see.”

So she saw. The village chief was wrong; her mother was right. There was no help from the magistrate or the faraway Imperial Court. Not then for the quake, nor for the drought period after, or the destructive floods but months ago when the dam had cracked from heavy rainfall. Yue Ling had grown to expect no less.

“Shouldn’t your recipe be a family secret?”

Yue Ling glanced at General Xie, then continued guiding the boy beside her how to wrap a pyramid. His efforts bulged at the seams, leaking rice at the tips. “I have no family, so there’s no point keeping secrets,” she said.

The closest soldiers—all no more than children—stared at her with sympathy or horror. General Xie, however, let out a snort and squatted opposite Yue Ling, picking up a pair of bamboo leaves. “Shouldn’t a gentleman be far from the kitchen?” Yue Ling asked with a smile.

“I’m a woman, and besides, that’s a misinterpretation of Mencius.” General Xie’s efforts were worse than her men. Rice and bits of mushroom spilt over her callused fingers.

“You’ve studied the classics?” Yue Ling asked, surprised.

“So have you, by the sounds of it.” General Xie pointed out. “I should be more surprised about you.”

“My father was a scholar,” Yue Ling said, though it wasn’t her father who taught her.

“Either he was a rare and broad-minded man, or he wasn’t your teacher.” General Xie glanced at the work of the soldier beside her, copying the wrapping method. When Yue Ling didn’t speak, General Xie looked back at her. “Am I right?”

“Quite so,” Yue Ling said.

“Your mother enlightened you?” At Yue Ling’s nod, General Xie exhaled. “She must either be a rare parent in turn or a singular talent.”

“She was one of a kind.”

“Then her life would’ve been a tragedy.” General Xie spoke with such certainty that Yue Ling stared at her. “Easy enough to guess from your reduced circumstances. There would be few instances why a literate woman would marry a poor scholar, if that was what your father was. Worse, a talented woman, however talented, could never sit for the Imperial examination. Rather, the only way she could improve her life would be through business—which a scholarly family would disdain—or through marriage. Life must have been hard to accept.”

“She said that the dragon turns because of grief,” Yue Ling said. The General’s words stung anew, even though Yue Ling had long thought herself immune to her mother’s bitterness. The sourness that lingered from the slow death of her mother’s dreams was everywhere in Yue Ling’s house still—from the yellowing scrolls of exquisite calligraphy hung on the walls, to the inkstones that, while expensive, had never been sold no matter how hungry they were.

“That’s a new one,” the General said, chuckling.

“I heard it’s Heaven’s punishment,” said one of the soldiers, if in a small voice, peeking at General Xie to gauge her mood.

“Pssh. Heaven doesn’t care. Like his father, the current Son of Heaven spends his time either lingering in the harem or wasting money on fake alchemy, trying to find a way to live forever. Powerful eunuchs and Imperial Concubine factions vie with corrupt ministers for control of the court. If anything, Heaven is entertained at the farce that mortal existence has become in this part of the world—otherwise, why has it been permitted to go on like this for two generations?” General Xie tied off her bak chang with too much force, squishing it into bulging.

Horrified, Yue Ling said, “Should you be saying this of the emperor?” Would even listening to such a thing be considered treason?

General Xie sneered. “The court is far away, and this army is my family’s. It’s not a rare sentiment out on the frontier.”

“Oh.” Yue Ling hadn’t known that.

“Still, it’s proof that your mother’s theory about the dragon is wrong. If it’s turning because it’s sad about the world, it’d be turning all the time. People can spend thousands of taels on a single altar of wine in the Imperial capital, while the road from there to the frontier is lined with bones that grow ever colder each year.” General Xie tossed the misshapen bak chang aside.

“So why do you think it turns?” Yue Ling asked.

“If there truly is such a thing as an earth dragon? It turns because it’s what it does,” General Xie said. She looked toward the horizon, broken by the unforgiving heat into a wavering line. “Just as we’re here to do what we’re meant to do.”

“A creature powerful enough to shake the land—can you kill something like that with mortal means?”

“A creature whose uneasy sleep flattens entire villages for thousands of li around its nest—can you appease such a thing?” General Xie smiled mockingly. “You, a bak chang merchant?”

Small wonder, despite the words at the gate, General Xie had not asked Yue Ling for her plans. She never believed in them at all. Yue Ling pressed her fingertips into her palms and dredged up all the patience she could manage. “The makers of medicated meals try to address the cause of a problem—while managing its symptoms. I can but try.”

“So can we.” General Xie nodded at the heavily guarded section of the encampment, full of wagons packed with dry hay. “Those crates are filled with zhentianlei. Gunpowder bombs, enough to shake the heavens themselves. Just like their namesake, or so I hope.”

Yue Ling’s hands flew to her mouth. “You can’t do that! The earth dragon is a sacred beast.”

“What did you think we were here to do?” General Xie asked, amused. “Seek forgiveness and invite guilt? One does not seek forgiveness by deploying an army. Besides, the dragon might be sacred, but it is still only a beast. Flawed as he is, the Emperor’s word is law.”

“You.” Yue Ling searched General Xie’s blank expression. “You believe that? Aren’t you afraid of the Gods?”

“Grief, judgment, the Gods—all I know is that the dragon’s current movements have already killed a thousand people.” General Xie’s fingertips stroked lightly over the hilt of her sword. “To me, such a deed deserves a fitting response.”

As the matchmaker left the house, Yue Ling peeked out of her room. Her father rose and left, mumbling something about having to check on a patient. The strained smile froze and ebbed off her mother’s face. “Come here,” said her mother. “Sit.”

Yue Ling poured tea for them both into cold cups, the words she wished to say staying blocked in her throat. The matchmaker had come on behalf of the owner of an apothecary in town, a man twenty years older than her. “You aren’t happy,” said her mother.

“Marriage is a matter to be decided by my parents,” Yue Ling said.

Her mother sniffed. “If I believed that, you’d never have been born. But perhaps that would have been for the best.” At the sharp look Yue Ling shot her, her mother sipped her tea, looking out of the open door. “Some days, I think my mother was right after all. The love of a man, however good, is an intangible thing. You cannot eat it, wear it, or be housed by it alone.”

“Father…” Yue Ling’s voice trailed off. She grasped her mother’s palms, rubbing callused skin. “Mother, have you suffered any grievances?”

“Life is so often a series of tolerable grievances.” Her mother stroked Yue Ling’s hair but didn’t look at her. “Perhaps in another life, I did not elope for love. Perhaps I married the Jinshi scholar my parents arranged for me, a man who would have, in time, have married two other wives and four concubines. As is the custom for people of influence and wealth. I would have been one talented woman of a few, trapped in the backyard of a house, with little to do but to nurse a different set of grievances.”

“Is it so painful to be alive?” Yue Ling asked, taken aback. Her mother had always seemed too indifferent for grievances.

“Only for the unreconciled.” Anger sparked in her mother’s dark eyes, only to flicker and go out as she looked at Yue Ling.

“Are you and Father going to marry me to Apothecary Luo?”

“What do you think?”

“He already has a wife and a concubine.”

“He has two daughters and no sons.” Her mother’s dark, blank eyes frightened Yue Ling more than her briefly shown temper. “Your marriage will be a transaction and a gamble. If you can give him a son, your position in his family will be stable.”

“Once you married for love,” Yue Ling said, pained. “Would you deny your daughter the same?”

“In my ignorance, I moved from one cage to another, thinking that was all the choice I had.” Her mother’s hand fell to Yue Ling’s shoulder, squeezing tightly. “If you can find a third way—by all means. But I’ll tell you one thing about love. It is a fickle thing, easily twisted. People who live in its name are fools: the person you should first love most is yourself. To do otherwise is to live in a constant state of self-immolation, which is not something I wish on anyone.” Yet even as her mother spoke, her gaze drifted to the door, chasing the shadow of a man who was no longer physically present.

Closer to the epicentre, tiered rice fields collapsed into muddy lakes littered with fragments of stone and attap roofing. Sombre villagers sifted through the muck, pulling out the dead for burial. In the thickening heat, no one had the energy for grief. Clouds of flies lifted off the stinking silt and resettled further away as the army marched past.

The dragon’s tail lay beached in what had once been a vegetable garden. The pale heads of young cabbages still floated in the muck, rotting in the sun beside a thick coil that tapered down from a height taller than a house to a blunt tip. Under the mud, the segmented length was as pale as new ivory. It looked like a dead thing, but Yue Ling and the soldiers beside her gasped and shivered as General Xie poked it with the tip of her spear.

No movement. The spear glanced off the segmented flank as General Xie stabbed at a jointed seam. “Huh.” General Xie smiled in delight, baring her sharp teeth.

“Is it already dead?” ventured her lieutenant.

“Does it look dead to you?” General Xie pointed at the carcass of a dead goat arranged at a makeshift shrine close to the dragon’s tail, already thick with files. The goat’s open eyes stared accusingly at the contingent, blaming them for being late. “Besides.” She pressed her palm to the segment, stroking it lovingly. “It’s still warm.”

Yue Ling shivered. Her reaction didn’t go unnoticed. General Xie’s gaze swung over to her, as pitiless as ever. “Well? Are you going to start appeasing it?”

Thankfully, no one laughed. The soldiers behind her looked overwhelmed, staring at the size of the beast before them. Yue Ling shifted the pack of bak chang she had made during the night and ducked her head, walking past the arc of the beached tail. The mud and shattered village buried the rest of the dragon from where she stood, but it wasn’t hard to guess where it was. Uneven humps and unnatural valleys scarred the land as a new, miniature mountain ridge snaked through the rice fields toward the forest.

General Xie caught up when Yue Ling had trudged past the boundary of the village lands to the edge of the bamboo forest. Her warhorse snorted loudly, fighting the reins, infected by her owner’s mood. Eager to charge. Yet General Xie said, “I was rude.”

“Not at all.”

“I’m here because of an Imperial edict. You’re here out of good faith. The words I said were unkind.”

Yue Ling gave the General a weary look. “General Xie, why do you think I’m here? If I were here out of charity, why am I doing business? Why not give away all my stock to the survivors we passed?”

General Xie began to speak and hesitated, tilting her head appraisingly. “What then?”

“My mother’s soul never returned to her remains. Instead, the earth dragon turned on the seventh day of her wake.”

Yue Ling braced herself for General Xie to scoff. Instead, General Xie said gently, “Sometimes we wish that a loved one’s death could have more meaning than it did.”

“Perhaps so.” As the quake shook the village apart, the dragon’s grief had echoed through the ground itself. Threaded through the rumbling consonants of its pain, Yue Ling had heard her mother’s joyous laughter.

As the matchmaker returned Yue Ling’s geng tie to their house, formally cancelling the engagement with Apothecary Luo, her father exhaled but said nothing. Her mother, however, gave Yue Ling a long and assessing look, one of both pity and respect. As her father left for the clinic, Yue Ling sat to marinate barrels of pork belly in tonics while her mother washed the rice.

“The rumours circulating that we deemed you infertile—those were from you?” her mother asked as Yue Ling poured soy sauce into the barrel. “Heavy-handed. Why choose a method that would hurt you so badly? Now you can never marry.”

“Mother.” Yue Ling looked up from the barrel. “You were the one who told me to find a third way.”

“Not like this.”

“Rather than placing my well-being into the hands of another soul, I’d rather live alone.”

“The hardest path.” Her mother shook her head, though she smiled as she said, “Unfilial child.”

“Filial piety is a shackle that yokes people to a narrow way of living, creating a world where happiness is irrelevant. I won’t marry anyone I don’t want to marry. Or have children who I may never be willing to love.”

Her mother began to speak and paused at the faint sound of a baby’s cry from deeper within their new house. The growing success of their medicated food meant being able to build Yue Ling’s father a clinic, a synergistic arrangement that gave their products a respectable shop in turn. Yet their newfound blessings had created a strain on her parents that Yue Ling hadn’t seen coming, although she should have known.

Men of wealth and influence. The new concubine had quickly given Yue Ling a younger brother. Her mother had offered no open judgment about her father’s choices, even though it had to hurt. “Do you regret it now?” Yue Ling asked as the baby’s cries grew louder.

“I could have left your father any time I wanted if I so wished,” her mother said. Yue Ling had taken that as an answer and had relaxed, more fool her. Small gestures had never been in her mother’s nature.

The earth dragon’s head lay partially exposed at the bottom of a new chasm, breathing slowly as water dripped down onto its snout from broken branches. It resembled an immense gecko, bone-white under splotches of mud—nothing like the elaborate bearded and horned serpents that Yue Ling had seen in her father’s books. Eyes larger than Yue Ling’s head blinked slowly in the muck, the multiple eyelids flicking slowly over unsettlingly human pupils. Four eyes tracked Yue Ling’s movements as she peered along the chasm for a way down. A patch of mud buried the third, and the land ate the rest.

“Tian.” General Xie whistled. “The damned thing’s real.”

“Wasn’t that obvious from the tail?” Yue Ling’s voice sounded strangled to her ears.

“I was hoping… Never mind.”

“Are you still planning on bombing it?” Behind them, soldiers were struggling to move the wagons through the forest. It’d take over a week to clear the bamboo and rubble from the collapsed cliffs.

“In time. I’ve bagged wolves, tigers, even a black bear. This will just be the biggest thing I’ve tried to kill yet.”

Yue Ling shivered. “You aren’t afraid at all? It’s the largest thing I’ve ever seen.”

“Death is a part of life.” General Xie walked over to a fallen tree trunk and kicked it, sending part of it teetering into the chasm as a narrow bridge down. “I tried to escape marriage when I was fourteen. Dressed as a boy, I ran away to the frontier to enlist as a soldier. My first battle was a disaster—my commanding officer made reckless mistakes. I spent three days buried under the bodies of my new contingent, slowly suffocating. Boys who were not all that much older than me. Somehow, I lived.” General Xie grinned at Yue Ling, as merciless as ever. “Now, I fear nothing. Because I feel nothing.”

“That…” Yue Ling swallowed. “I’m sorry.”

“Why? It had nothing to do with you. To escape the lives set out for people like us requires extraordinary payment. I understood what I was paying for, even then.” Qinggong took General Xie gracefully to the bottom of the chasm. Yue Ling steeled herself, trembling as she forced herself to the edge. She dared not look at the earth dragon as she climbed down the tree, her fingers shaking so much that she slipped down the trunk near the end, landing on her knees in the muck with a stifled cry. On the bottom, close enough to breathe in the animal stink of the creature’s breath, the dragon seemed even bigger than it’d looked from above.

“Now what?” General Xie asked.

Yue Ling flinched. “General?”

“You believe it moved because of your mother, don’t you?” General Xie made an inviting gesture at the dragon’s snout. “Go on then.”

Yue Ling clenched her hands into fists and swallowed the biting words on her tongue. As she forced herself to take another step closer, the dragon huffed. Yue Ling skittered back a step and steadied herself against the wall. As she pressed her hand to her chest and tried to slow down her breathing, General Xie said, “Had enough?”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s just a beast.” General Xie walked up beside her. “It turns the earth because it turns, the way phoenixes burn and qilin heal. Look at how exquisite it is. How can something so majestic have anything to do with something as complex and ugly and petty as human grievance?”

“But…my mother—”

“If your mother had enough resentments that she refused to reincarnate, she’s probably haunting the cause. Not sunk into a dragon hundreds of li from your village.” General Xie clapped Yue Ling on the shoulder. “Go home and mourn.”

“I didn’t say that she was haunting the dragon,” Yue Ling said, shifting out of General Xie’s grip. “Not in the way that you think.” She pulled the basket from her shoulders as she approached, looping the straps around her wrists so that she wouldn’t drop it and lose her nerve. The dragon’s breathing deepened as Yue Ling drew closer. Close enough that she could see the pearlescent sheen of its skin.

“Yue Ling,” General Xie warned.

“Shh! Stay there.” Sweat stuck Yue Ling’s clothes to her skin. At her next step, the dragon huffed, twisting to shake its head free of the dirt. Eyelids swept down over eight sets of eyes, flicking open and closed as the dragon lifted its muzzle off the ground.

Somehow, Yue Ling managed the presence of mind to spill the bak chang she had made before the day’s march on the ground. As she took a few steps back, the dragon sniffed the air, then tilted its head to inspect the bak chang scattered over the earth. General Xie sucked in a startled breath as a liver-coloured tongue snaked out from the dragon’s muzzle, gathering up most of the bak chang in a muddy swipe and swallowing them all whole. Its eyes flickered in pleasure as it ate, humming loudly enough to shake the ground beneath their feet. Twisting in its coffin of earth, it turned its long snout this way and that, studying General Xie and Yue Ling with too-human eyes. Then it withdrew into the soil, the rubble closing over its pupils in a crumbling blanket, sealing away the traces of the divine beneath the earth as the tunnel its body had made collapsed after it.

As Yue Ling sank onto her haunches with an unsteady gasp, General Xie walked over to one of the remaining bak chang, pulling it open. She raced a thumb over the dense script that lined the inner leaf wrapping, then raised the cooked rice to her nose for a sniff. Pulling the bak chang open, General Xie prodded at the contents, then rewrapped it with care and tossed it to the ground. “The filling today. That isn’t pork, is it?”

“No.”

“Someone important to your mother?”

“Unfortunately.” Love was not enough, but sometimes, obsession could be.

“Did you kill them?”

“No.” Her father had died of a heart attack a day after her mother’s passing. The neighbours claimed it was grief. Yue Ling knew better.

“Then I’d leave it out of my report.” General Xie leapt nimbly out of the chasm.

“Are you still going to chase after the dragon?” At General Xie’s nod, Yue Ling gave her a look of disbelief. “But you’ve seen proof of what might be driving it.”

“Human suffering?” General Xie looked away at the forest. “Humans have been the cause of each other’s suffering since the beginning of time. It’s easier to slay a dragon than change our nature. Whether the earth dragon turns out of grief or not doesn’t change the fact that it will do it again in a year or ten. Besides, I’ve come this far.”

Yue Ling grimaced. “I’d wish you luck, but it wouldn’t be heartfelt.”

General Xie laughed. “You make good dumplings, and you have a sturdy spine. If you ever come to the capital and need a business partner, look for me at the general’s mansion.”

Yue Ling watched General Xie go, shouting orders at her men. Alone in the chasm, Yue Ling bent, picking up the bak chang that remained. She piled them against the newly softened soil in the dragon’s wake and scooped wet earth over them until the bamboo wrappers could no longer be seen. Backing away, Yue Ling went down on her hands and knees, kowtowing thrice, pressing her forehead to the dirt. Then she rose to her feet and began to climb.

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Anya Ow

Anya Ow is the author of Ion Curtain, The Firebird’s Tale, and Cradle and Grave, and is an Aurealis Awards finalist. Her short stories have appeared in publications such as Asimov’s, Lightspeed, Fantasy Magazine, the 2019 Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror anthology, and more. Born in Singapore, Anya has a Bachelor of Laws from Melbourne University and a Bachelor of Applied Design from Billy Blue College of Design. She lives in Melbourne with her two cats, working as a graphic designer, illustrator, and chief studio dog briber for a creative agency. She can be found at anyasy.com or on twitter @anyasy.

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