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"Long, long ago, there lived a princess who loved all living things. Sweet and energetic, she brought baskets of food to feed the orphans, and play with them. Then one day in their frolicking they found a stash of beautiful red stones. The princess loved them because they shone with a pink inner light as if alive, and she made ruby necklaces for all the children. When one of the children fell and scraped his knee, the princess went to tend to him but saw the wound healing right before her eyes, and the light in the red stone growing dim. And she realized that the stones could heal. Not wanting anyone to suffer from wound or sickness, she brought the gift of healing to the sick and injured. And she found that she alone had blood that could bring the light back into the rubies, to heal with them once again.

All was well until one day a baron abducted her and declared himself king. And men joined his banner, knowing that so long as they had the princess, they would not die. And so the baron's men fought and killed through towns and villages, and all the while the princess watched helplessly as the baron forced her to heal his men. And as she lost her love of the living, she grew weak and could light the rubies no more. In desperation the baron even chopped off her arm, but it was only enough for one ruby. When his men found out, and knew that the king's knights were coming for them, they fled for their lives.

The princess returned safely to the king's castle, where to her great sadness she learned that all the children she'd played with had been kidnapped and their rubies stolen. Hers was the only lit ruby left. The sick and wounded crowded the courtyard, each hoping they'd be the one healed with that last ruby.

But the princess was tired of healing others, and knew that no one's goodwill is as valuable as the use of one's own arms. And in a final flash of red, skin and sinew wove down from her shoulder to remake her arm and hand, and that was the last of her healing."

-- by Yunzhong Hou

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