One day, Chen came in to find the loom empty and the widow sobbing. “What’s wrong, Mother?” he asked in alarm.
She looked at him tearfully. “I finished it.”
The brocade was laid out on the floor. And there it all was—the palace reaching to the sky, the beautiful gardens, the lovely fairy ladies.
“It looks so real,” said Chen in amazement. “I feel like I could step into it!”
Just then, a sudden wind whipped through the cottage. It lifted the brocade, blew it out the window, and carried it through the air. The widow and her son rushed outside, only to watch the brocade disappear into the east.
“It’s gone!” cried the widow, and she fainted away.
Chen carried her to her bed and sat beside her for many hours. At last her eyes opened.
“Chen,” she said weakly, “you must find the brocade and bring it back.”
“Don’t worry, Mother. I’ll go at once.”
Chen gathered a few things and started to the east. He walked for hours, then days, then weeks. But there was no sign of the brocade.
One day, Chen came upon a lonely hut. Sitting by the door was an old, leather-skinned woman smoking a pipe. A horse was grazing nearby.
“Hello, deary,” said the woman. “What brings you so far from home?”
“I’m looking for my mother’s brocade. The wind carried it to the east.”
“Ah, yes,” said the woman. “The brocade of Sun Palace! Well, that wind was sent by the fairy ladies of the palace itself. They’re using the brocade as a pattern for their weaving.”
“But my mother will die without it!”
“Well, then, you had best get it back! But you won’t get to Sun Palace by foot, so you’d better ride my horse. It will show you the way.”
“Thank you!” said Chen.
“Oh, don’t thank me yet, deary. Between here and there, you must pass through the flames of Fiery Mountain. If you make a single sound of complaint, you’ll be burnt to ashes. After that, you must cross the Icy Sea. The smallest word of discontent, and you’ll be frozen solid. Do you still want to go?”
“I must get back my mother’s brocade.”
“Good boy. Take the horse and go.”