Kid? What do you mean “kid”? Well, yeah, so I’m thirteen. I guess in this era, that makes me a kid. My myth dates all the way back to the 5th century BCE, but trust me, I am every bit as sarcastic as a modern teen. I might just be China’s most sarcastic legendary heroine ever.
I’m Li Chi, as in, “Li Chi Slays the Giant Serpent”.
See, in my hometown, a village by the Yung Mountains in the ancient state of Yue, there was this snake. A HUGE snake between 15 to 18 meters long that lived in a mountain cave. I mean, this thing was basically a wingless dragon. And it was bad news. It had eaten lots of big, important dudes like governors and mayors. People tried offering it oxen or sheep as a snack. It was like, “BURP, thanks,” and then went after more humans. Then some people all had prophetic dreams that what the big snake really wanted was some tasty13-year-old girls to eat. “OH PERFECT,” they said after they woke up. “OUR PROBLEMS ARE SOLVED.”
So, the town and county officials got together and decided they’d sacrifice a low-born slave girl or daughter of a criminal to the snake each year. On the eighth month, they left the first victim at the mouth of the cave, and the snake gobbled her up. Kinda grisly solution, but, hey! It worked! The monster finally stopped terrorizing everyone. And it kept working for nine years. In the tenth year, though, they had trouble finding a suitably low-born, unwanted girl to sacrifice. Which was, y’know, a little weird considering most girls were lowly and unwanted.
But somebody had to do something about the snake. So I rolled my eyes, raised my hand, and strode forward to volunteer, but my parents protested. I turned to them and said, “Mom. Dad. You guys are, like, the unluckiest people this side of the Yung Mountains. You’ve got six of us dumb, worthless daughters, and no sons. I eat your food, use your clothing, and what do you get for it? Nothing. Nothing! But, hey, here’s an idea: I slay the huge snake-dragon thing, and put my worthless little life to some use.”
“NO, CHI!” they said. “NOT YOU!”
Yeah, they weren’t having it. But I’d made up my mind. On the first day of the eighth month, I took off in secret. I got me a shiny new sword and a snake-hunting dog. Then I went to the mouth of the cave and put some fresh, handmade rice cakes in front of the cave’s entrance. They smelled gooood. The snake thought so too. His giant, wagon-sized head poked out from the cave, and he started chowing down on the bait.
The dog charged at my command and sunk his jaws into the sucker. While the snake was distracted, I attacked from behind, slashing it again and again with my sword. It charged fully out of the cave, hissing and shrieking in pain, and writhed there in front of the entrance ’til it bled to death.
I strolled past its massive body into the cave, where I found the bones of the other nine girls who’d been sacrificed. I carried them out while mocking, “Ya’ll were eaten ’cause you were a bunch of useless cowards. How sad.”
After that, I didn’t just become a local legend and heroine, I was crowned freakin’ queen of Yue! Things got remarkably better for my poor, daughter-cursed parents, too. My dad was named district chief, and my mom and sisters all got swanky gifts. A happy ending all around.
So call me what you will; reckless, irreverent, sassy. That’s just my style, and I use the weapons I’ve got. Because when the world steps on you for being a woman, it’s worse than some giant snake. I slay ’em with swords and sarcasm.
Photos from WikiMedia Commons.