The Koi Deer, known as the Рыболень (Ribolen’) to Slavic countries and Sakana Shika to the Japanese, is a beautiful creature that is incredibly rare. If spotted, this Quilin-esque being was said to bestow incredible fortune and joy to the beholder. But if sought to be captured, it could transform its pursuers into jays. Here is one of the Koi Deer’s most well known legends:
The Koi Who Ran on Land
In the middle of the Ancient Forest there was a secret pond. And in the pond there were many carp. They were all finely dressed as if for a ball, and they danced gracefully in the water. They were happy in the pond, but one koi was not. He saw reflections in the water, shifting images of leaves and trees; animals and birds that came to the pond for a drink. And he thought, would that I could see the world there and dance!
One day the River Spirit came to the pond to refresh herself. She saw the beautiful carp within, and sang to them. Most of the koi were not interested, they were too busy dancing in the water. But the young koi fish came to her call. “Hello little one” she said warmly, “why did you come to listen when your family did not?” The little fish explained his desire to the Spirit, and she laughed.
“Bring me four oaken twigs, mud from the pond and a little round pearl, and I will help you.”
The koi did as asked. He found the twigs, used his snout to dig up some mud. But a pearl he could not find. He despaired, but then a miracle happened. An eagle flew overhead with an oyster in its beak. Suddenly a hawk took to mind to take the food, and the two quarreled. In the midst of the quarrel the oyster dropped onto some rocks and broke, and a beautiful little pearl within popped out and sank into the water. The koi saw all of this, and rejoiced as he took the pearl to the waiting spirit.
She took the fish out of the water, put a glob of mud on the end of each twig, and then put them on the underside of the koi. She then rubbed the gasping fish with the little pearl, and whispered magic onto his scales. When she threw him into the water, he stepped out as a creature almost like a painted stag. His fishscales shone in the sunlight – he was a qilin.
“Go and run” Said the Spirit
And so he did.
Koi Deer is a design made up by me, the story made up by me, and it is a birthday present for a friend. ^^
Drawing done in coloured pencil on 8 x 10 paper