• Long ago in Dunhuang, there lived the paper marker and the ink maiden. He hones his craftsmanship in steady, paced, and fluid motions until the paper was suitable for a thousand emperors. There was only one carpenter who visited him in his lonely country house next to the lake and blankets of mist that webbed underneath gargantuan specimens the craftsman would use.

    A bag of coin for the emperor's finest paper, this man must be mad or quite the hermit, thought the carpenter who thought himself more an invader, in this eerie peace.

    The craftsman only left one signature, a watermark that was usually painted over by the royal families, and the carpenter always assumed it was his name.

    He became almost like an object or a machine dispensing paper of finest quality rather than anything feasibly "there." More like the background, more like the assurance of blank paper in it's clear canvas; he simply did not "live" on his own.

    Seasons past as an army of winter succumbed to invading pagodas of flower. Their weaponry rusted, the sunflowers soon faded as did the spears of withering green, and thus white death came again.

    No one paid mind to the little paper maker's abode amongst the Dusk of ten thousand solitudes but a boil appeared, a bump expanded inside the dead thin bark's pulp and blossomed red scathing.

    The Majestrate in righteous frustration of heaven; wrathfully scorning it's blemish that refused to be eclipsed in its red sinful sun.

    The carpenter began warning the nonexistent creator, "The Royals are angry with your latest creations" which lead to, "Please for the sake of yourself, I cannot send these papers" and then, "I cannot fathom the punishment that bids welcome... I am sorry." And off the elder went, perhaps taking sorrow being this acquaintance's only historian.

    Thrice thwarted to paint and write, a scolded messenger was sent the fourth and final before a small army would come seeking his debtor's pay. At the doorstep, the lonesome hunchback tried keenly to penetrate forward, through this darkened mass that snuffed out his singular lantern.
    In the room, which the carpenter knew nothing about before having mostly waited outside for his shipments, he noticed all objects fell into blackened silence. As if it forgot the moon.

    He found a sob, a tiny, inkling releasing weak wails drawing the carpenter closer. It was the man's voice, but he never knew the man had one.

    In a whispered rasp coming from a gray figure slumped into a gelatinous form, it cried "I gave her to the snow."

    The carpenter in tremendous fear, instinctively stepped forward. It was then he saw, inches closer towards the howl. It lay across the floor pretending to be human having a woman's head.

    The military men paid no heed to the madman's tale and came by the house next day they saw the last shipment was completed. Checking the contents of the box one soldier opened it to find many sheets of royal paper. It felt smooth, soft, and palpable. As they left with the shipment, they noticed a paper dangling off to the side of the road. But they paid no mind to the painting of a face.