In a small village in the vast Chinese empire of the Zhou dynasty, lived Xuan Mo, a member of a modest farming family that had been engaged in beekeeping for generations. Xuan Mo had a peaceful life; he got up every morning and carried out his work in the fields, from tilling the rice crops to taking care of the numerous hives that he owned. The latter was one of the tasks that pleased him the most since the relationship he had with the bees was quite peculiar. Whenever he approached the hives, they would begin to dance around him as if they were receiving a lifelong friend, which in itself was quite curious and the whole Xuan family saw this as a sign from the gods that he was destined for great things.
Xuan's family; his wife, children, and elderly parents depended on the bees and their hives for their livelihood. The honey they sold at the village market was so famous that citizens from other villages came to buy it, and even leaders came from the distant capital of China, Luoyang, to seek out Xuan Mo's honey and the properties it owned. Xuan Mo was happy with his lot and for the comforts it brought his little family. Life was perfect especially in the quiet place he called home.
One sunny day, Xuan Mo got up like any other morning, but when he went to the hives to greet his little friends, he noticed they were more nervous than usual. They buzzed and swirled around him in small groups trying to push Xuan Mo away, but he didn't quite understand what the bees wanted to tell him. A little later, he walked home puzzled and somewhat concerned with how the bees had seemed that morning. He had lunch as usual with his family and soon afterwards went out to the market to sell the honey he had collected on his small stall. Halfway there he stopped dead in his tracks as he saw a huge army approaching the village. Xuan Mo ran home and ordered his family to block all the windows and entrances and for everyone to take refuge inside. Meanwhile, the invading army had already burned the entire village and was heading to the outlying houses, including that of Xuan Mo's.
The gallop of the horses could be heard getting closer and closer and the fear grew inside the house. Xuan Mo ordered everyone to keep quiet, unable to forget the earlier situation with the bees and cursed himself for not having heeded the obvious warning that they were giving him that morning. Soon, the soldiers arrived and got down from their horses. Xuan Mo peered through a small crack and watched as one of the officers got off his horse and read in perfect Chinese an order to come out of the house if they wanted to survive. He obeyed, but left his family inside. The soldiers began to scold him for not bringing his family out and as a punishment, they started burning the house. Although the family's screams could be heard loud and clear, Xuan Mo saw there was nothing he could do. Finally the soldiers galloped away back to where they came and the beekeeper went back into the house to see if he could save his family. The flames consumed everything and the heat burned his skin, but he did not give up and finally he found his family. There they were all covered in soot, forever asleep from the smoke of the fire. Xuan lay down next to his wife and there he waited for the sweet embrace of death to reunite him with his family once again.
The next morning, when the sun was already high among the snowy mountains, a large swarm of bees swirled around what appeared to be Xuan Mo's inert dead body. Gradually, they healed his wounds and restored Xuan Mo's life. After a few hours, he came back to life thanks to his little friends.
The cry that was heard that day was so heartbreaking and inhuman that never in the great history of China would anyone ever hear the like of it again. The bees flew around Xuan Mo, buzzing loudly reflecting the clamour for vengeance the beekeeper inspired. He saw how the bees listened to him and carried out his instructions, like an army obeying their general. Now ready to go into battle and with a complete horde of bees at his disposal, Xuan Mo followed the great army that had ravaged his village and began the task of killing everyone who had killed his family and those who had sent them.