A NOVELLA by Richard Parks
PUBLICATION DATE 2011
COVER ART Ben Baldwin
ABOUT THE BOOK
By stealing the chi of humans fox spirit may survive one thousand years, at which age it may achieve true immortality. The fox vixen Springshadow has nearly attained that prize, taking the guise of a beautiful girl down the centuries and using the life force of her lovers. None took any permanent harm from it, but her latest lover, Zou Xiaofan, is deathly ill, and by demanding she "prove" her love for him at such a time forces her to choose between her immortality and his life. While fond of him in her own way, for Springshadow there is really only one choice. She makes it, and he dies.
Now immortal, Springshadow finds herself dissatisfied, plagued by a vague sense of regret she fears may blossom into an actual conscience. Traveling to Heaven, she quickly finds it unsatisfactory, better than but otherwise little different from Earth. She locates and converses with Sunflash, another immortal fox, and learns that he too failed to find contentment and is preparing to give up his status. He has only waited as long as he has in order to pass to the next fox to achieve immortality (her) his insight into its secret; that it is, in fact, worthless, and that true advancement can only come by returning to the wheel of rebirth.
A message from her dead lover's shade conveyed to her by Guan Shi Yin, goddess of mercy, convinces Springfox she might exorcize her inconvenient feelings by redeeming Zou Xiaofan's soul. By means of Heaven's efficient bureaucracy she discovers it is located in the Hell of Hungry Ghosts, to which she travels in the company of her longtime friend Wildeye, a Daoist reprobate who has also achieved immortality. Enlisting the aid of the demons there by bribing them with liquor, they finally locate Zou Xiaofan and with the aid of Guan Shi Yin free him from the torment to which he has mistakenly condemned himself.
After resolving this unfinished business, Springfox comes to her own conclusion on the secret of immortality.