home | login | register | DMCA | contacts | help | donate |      


my bookshelf | genres | recommend | rating of books | rating of authors | reviews | new | | collections | | | add


Chapter 92

Three Monks Wage a Great Fight on Green Dragon Mountain

Four Stars Seize the Rhinoceros Monsters

The story tells how after the Great Sage Monkey took his two brother disciples by gale and cloud to the Northeast they were soon bringing their cloud down at the entrance to the Dark Essence Cave on Green Dragon Mountain. Pig was just about to smash the doors in when Monkey said, Wait a moment. I'll go in and find out whether the master's still alive before we have it out with him.

But the doors are shut very tightly, said Friar Sand. How will you get in?

I've got my methods, Monkey replied.

The splendid Great Sage then put his cudgel away, made a spell with his fingers while saying the magic words, called Change! and turned into a fire-fly. He was really nimble. Just look at him:

Wings that shine like shooting stars:

The ancients say fire-flies grow from rotting plants.

His powers of transformation are truly great,

And he loves to wander all around.

When he flies to the stone doors to look within

A draft blows through the crack beside him.

A single jump and he is in the dark courtyard,

Watching the movements of the evil spirits.

As he flew in he saw some cattle sprawled around on the ground, fast asleep and snoring like thunder. In the main hall nothing was moving, and all the doors were closed. Not knowing where the three evil spirits were sleeping, he went through the hall and shone with his light into the back, where he heard sobs. The Tang Priest was chained to a pillar under the eaves at the back and weeping. Monkey kept out of sight as he listened to what he was crying about, and this is what he heard:

Since I left Chang'an in China some ten years back and more,

I have had to suffer much crossing all those rivers and mountains.

I came out to the West at a very happy season,

Arriving in the city for the festival of lanterns.

I failed to understand that the Buddhas were impostors

All because my fate seems to doom me to distress.

My disciples gave pursuit and will use their mighty powers:

I pray they will be able to achieve a great success.

Delighted to hear this, Monkey spread his wings and flew closer to his master, who wiped away his tears and observed, Goodness, the West really is different. This is only the first month of the year, when dormant insects are just beginning to wake up. Fancy seeing a fire-fly now!

Master, said Brother Monkey, unable to keep quiet any longer, I'm here.

I was just wondering how there could be a fire-fly at this time of year, and it's you, the Tang Priest replied with delight.

Master, said Monkey, turning back into himself, the journey's been held up so long and so much effort has been wasted because you can't tell true from false. All the way along I've told you demons are no good, but you will kowtow to them. When those devils covered up the lamps to steal the refined butter oil they carried you off too. I told Pig and Friar Sand to go back to the monastery and keep an eye on our things while I followed the smell of the wind here. I didn't know what the place was called, but luckily the four Duty Gods told me that this is Dark Essence Cave on Green Dragon Mountain. I fought the monsters all day long till I went back at evening, told my brother-disciples the full story, and came back here with them instead of going to bad. As I thought it was too late at night to fight and didn't know where you were I transformed myself to come in and find out what's going on.

Are Pig and Friar Sand outside? the happy Tang Priest asked.

Yes, Monkey replied. I've just had a look around and seen that the evil spirits are all asleep. I'll unlock you, smash the doors down and get you out. The Tang Priest nodded his head in gratitude.

Using his unlocking magic, Monkey made the lock open at a touch. He was just leading his master to the front of the cave when the demon kings could be heard shouting from their bedrooms, Shut the doors tight, little ones, and be careful of fire. Why can't we hear the watchmen calling the watches? Where are the clappers and bells?

After a day's hard fighting the junior demons were all asleep, exhausted; and they only woke up when they heard the shout. To the sound of clappers and bells several of them came out from the back holding weapons and beating gongs, and they just happened to bump into Monkey and his master.

Where do you think you're going, my fine monks, now you've broken the locks? the junior devils all shouted together, and with no further argument Monkey pulled out his cudgel, shook it to make it as thick as a rice bowl and struck, killing two of them at a blow. The rest of them dropped their weapons, went to the central hall, beat on the doors and shouted, Disaster, Your Majesties, disaster. The hairy-faced monk's got inside and he's killing people.

The moment the three demons heard this they tumbled out of their beds and ordered, Catch them! Catch them! This gave the Tang Priest such a fright that his hands and legs turned weak. Monkey abandoned him and stormed his way forward, swinging his cudgel.

The junior devils could not stop him as, pushing two or three aside here and knocking two or three over there, he smashed several pairs of doors open and rushed straight out, shouting, Where are you, brothers?

Pig and Friar Sand greeted him, rake and staff raised for action, with the question, What's up, brother? Monkey told them all about how he had transformed himself to rescue the master, been found by the spirits when they woke up, and been forced to abandon him and fight his way out.

Now that they had recaptured the Tang Priest, the demon kings had him locked up in chains again and questioned him in the glare of lamplight, as they brandished cutlass and axe. How did you open the lock, damn you, they asked, and how did that ape get inside? Confess this moment and we'll spare your life, or else we'll cut you in half.

This so terrified the Tang Priest that he fell to his knees shivering and shaking and said, Your Majesties, my disciple Sun Wukong can do seventy-two kinds of transformations. Just now he turned into a fire-fly and flew in to rescue me. We never realized that Your Majesties would wake up or that we would bump into Their Junior Majesties. My wicked disciple wounded a couple of them, and when they all started shouting and going for us with weapons and torches he abandoned me and escaped.

If we'd woken up earlier he'd never have got away, the three demon kings said with loud guffaws. They then told their underlings to fasten the doors firmly at front and back and stop shouting.

As they've shut the doors and stopped shouting I think they must be going to murder the master, said Friar Sand. We must act.

You're right, said Pig. Let's smash the doors, The idiot showed off his magical powers by smashing the stone doors to smithereens with a blow from his rake then shouted at the top of his voice, Thieving, oil-stealing monsters! Send my master out right now!

This gave the junior devils inside the doors such a fright that they tumbled and ran inside to report, Disaster, Your Majesties, disaster. The monks have smashed the front doors.

They're outrageous, damn them, the three demon kings said in a great fury, and when they had sent for their armor and fastened it on they took their weapons and led their underlings into battle. It was now about the third watch of the night, and the moon in the middle of the sky made all as bright as day. As they led their forces out they wasted no more words and started fighting. Monkey held off the battle-axe, Pig blocked the cutlass, and Friar Sand took on the flail.

Three monks with cudgel, staff and rake;

Three evil monsters both brave and angry.

The battle-axe, the cutlass and the flail

Made howling winds and set the sand flying.

In their first clashes they breathed out baleful mists,

Then as they flew around they scattered coloured clouds.

The nailed rake went through its routines round the body,

The iron cudgel was even more splendidly heroic,

And the demon-quelling staff was something rarely seen on earth;

But the unrepentant ogres would not yield a foot of ground.

The bright-bladed axe had a sharp-pointed butt,

The whirling flail made a pattern of flowers,

And the flashing cutlass swung like a painted door;

But the monks were their match.

One side was fighting with fury for their master's life;

The other hit at their faces so as not to release the Tang Priest.

The axe hacked and the cudgel blocked in the struggle for mastery;

The rake swung and the cutlass struck as they fought;

The knotted flail and the demon-quelling staff,

Coming and going in a splendid display.

When the three monks and the three monsters had been fighting for a long time without either side coming out on top King Cold-avoider shouted, Come on, little ones! The monsters all charged at Pig, quickly tripping him up and bringing him to the ground. Several water-buffalo spirits dragged and pulled him inside the cave, where they tied him up. When Friar Sand saw that Pig had disappeared and heard the mooing of all the cattle he then raised his staff, feinted at King Dust-avoider and tried to flee, only to be rushed by another crowd of spirits who pulled at him, sending him staggering. However hard he struggled he could not get up, and he too was carried off to be tied up. Realizing that he was in an impossible situation, Monkey escaped by somersault cloud.

When Pig and Friar Sand were dragged to him the Tang Priest said with tears welling up in his eyes at the sight of them, Poor things! You two have been caught too. Where's Wukong?

When he saw we'd been caught he ran away, Friar Sand replied.

Wherever he has gone he will certainly have gone to fetch help, said the Tang Priest. But who knows when we will be delivered? Master and disciples felt thoroughly miserable.

The story tells how Brother Monkey rode his somersault cloud back to the Clouds of Compassion Monastery, where the monks met him with the question, Have you been able to rescue Lord Tang?

It's difficult, said Monkey, very difficult. Those three evil spirits have tremendous magical powers, and when we three had fought them for a long time they called up their underlings to capture Pig and Friar Sand. I was lucky to get away.

My lord, said the monks with horror, if someone who can ride mists and clouds as you can couldn't catch them, your master is bound to be killed.

No problem, Monkey replied, no problem. My master's under the secret protection of the Protectors, the Guardians, the Dings and the Jias. He has besides eaten Grass-returning Cinnabar. I'm sure his life will be safe. The only trouble is that those demons really know their stuff. You people look after the horse and the luggage while I go up to Heaven to get some troops.

Can you go up to Heaven, my lord? asked the terrified monks.

I used to live there, replied Monkey with a smile. Because I wrecked the Peach Banquet when I was Great Sage Equaling Heaven, our Buddha subdued me, so that now I've no option but to redeem my crimes by guarding the Tang Priest while he fetches the scriptures. All along the journey I've been helping the good and fighting against the evil. What you don't realize is that the master is fated to have these troubles. When the monks heard this they kowtowed in worship, while Monkey went outside and disappeared with a whistle.

The splendid Great Sage was soon outside the Western Gate of Heaven, where the Metal Planet, Heavenly King Virudhaka and the four spirit officers Yin, Zhu, Tao and Xu were talking to each other. As soon as they saw Monkey coming they hastily bowed to him and said, Where are you going, Great Sage?

After we reached Mintian County in Jinping Prefecture on the Eastern borders of India, Monkey replied, my master, the Tang Priest who I'm escorting, was being entertained by the monks of the Clouds of Compassion Monastery for the Full Moon Festival. When we went to the Bridge of Golden Lamps there were three golden lamps full of over fifty thousand ounces of silver's worth of scented refined butter oil that the Buddhas came down to take every year. While we were admiring the lamps three Buddha images did come down to earth, and my master was gullible enough to go on the bridge to worship them. I told him they were a bad lot, but by then the lamps had been covered up and the master carried off with the oil by a wind. When I'd followed the wind till dawn I reached a mountain, where the four Duty Gods fortunately told me that it was called Green Dragon Mountain with a Dark Essence Cave in it where three monsters lived: King Cold-avoider, King Heat-avoider and King Dust-avoider. I hurried to their doors to demand the master and fought them for a while without success, so I got in by transforming myself to find the master locked up but unharmed. I released him and was just taking him out when they woke up and I had to flee again. Later I fought hard against them with Pig and Friar Sand, but the two of them were both captured and tied up. That's why I've come up to inform the Jade Emperor, find out about the monsters' background and ask him to give orders to have them suppressed.

At this the Metal Planet burst out laughing and said, If you've been fighting the monsters why can't you tell where they're from?

I can see that, Monkey replied. They're a bunch of rhino spirits. But they have such enormous magical powers that I can't beat them and I'm desperate.

They are three rhinoceros spirits, the Metal Planet explained. Because their form is seen in heaven they cultivated their awareness for many years and became true spirits able to fly on clouds and walk in mists. Those monsters are fanatical about cleanliness and don't like the look of their own bodies, and are always going into the water to bathe. They have lots of different names: there are she-rhinos, he-rhinos, gelded rhinos, spotted rhinos, humao rhinos, duoluo rhinos and heaven-connected brindled rhinos. They all have a single nostril, three types of hair and two horns. They roam the rivers and seas and can travel through water. It looks as though Cold-avoider, Heat-avoider and Dust-avoider have nobility in their horns, which is why they call themselves kings. If you want to catch them, they will submit to the four beast stars belonging to the element wood.

Which four wood stars? Monkey asked. Could I trouble you, venerable sir, to spell it out for me?

Those stars are spread out in space outside the Dipper and Bull Palace, the planet replied with a smile. If you submit a memorial to the Jade Emperor he will give you detailed instructions. Raising his clasped hands as he expressed his thanks, Monkey went straight in through the heavenly gates.

He was soon outside the Hall of Universal Brightness, where he saw the heavenly teachers Ge, Qiu, Zhang and Xu, who asked, Where are you going?

We've just reached Jinping Prefecture, Monkey replied, where my master relaxed his dhyana nature by going to enjoy the Moon Festival lanterns and was carried off by evil monsters. As I can't subdue them myself I've come to ask the Jade Emperor to save him. The four heavenly teachers then took Monkey to the Hall of Miraculous Mist to submit his memorial, and when all the ceremonials had been performed he explained his business. The Jade Emperor then asked which units of heavenly soldiers he wanted to help him.

When I arrived at the Western Gate of Heaven just now, Monkey replied, the Metal Planet told me they were rhinoceros spirits that could only be subdued by the four beast stars belonging to the element wood. The Jade Emperor then told Heavenly Teacher Xu to go to the Dipper and Bull Palace with Monkey to fetch the four beast stars and take them down to the lower world to make the capture.

By the time they arrived outside the Dipper and Bull Palace the Twenty-eight Constellations were there to greet them. We are here by imperial command to order four beast stars belonging to the element wood to go down to the lower world with the Great Sage Sun, the heavenly teacher explained. The Wooden Lesser Dragon of the Constellation Horn, the Wooden Unicorn of the Dipper, the Wooden Wolf of the Strider, and the Wooden Hyena of the Well all stepped forward from the side to ask, Where are you sending us to subdue demons, Great Sage?

So you're the ones, said Brother Monkey with a smile. That old man Metal Planet kept your names secret, and I didn't realize what he was driving at. If he'd told me before that it was you four wooden animals from the Twenty-eight Constellations I'd have come here to invite you myself: there'd have been no need to trouble His Majesty for an edict.

What a thing to say, Great Sage, the four wooden animals replied. We'd never have dared to leave on our own authority in the absence of an imperial decree. Where are they? Let's go right away.

They are rhinoceros spirits in the Dark Essence Cave in Green Dragon Mountain to the Northeast of Jinping Prefecture.

If they're really rhinoceros spirits, said the Wooden Unicorn of the Dipper, the Wooden Wolf of the Strider and the Wooden Lesser Dragon of the Horn, you'll only need Wooden Hyena from the Well Constellation. He can eat tigers on mountains and capture rhinos in the sea.

But these aren't ordinary rhinos who gaze at the moon, replied Monkey. They have cultivated their conduct and found the Way and are a thousand years old. All four of you gentlemen must come: no excuses. If one of you can't capture them single-handed it'll be wasted effort.

You people are talking nonsense, the heavenly teacher added. The imperial command is that all four of you go, so go you must. Fly there at once while I report back. The heavenly teacher then took his leave of Monkey and went.

Delay no more, Great Sage, the four wooden ones said. You challenge them to battle and lure them out so we can come from behind you and get them. Monkey then went up to the cave and shouted abusively, Oil-thieving ogres! Give my master back! The doors, which Pig had smashed open, had been barricaded with a few planks by a number of junior devils, and when they heard his insults they rushed inside to report, Your Majesties, the monk Sun is outside insulting us again.

We beat him and he ran away, said Dust-avoider, so why's he back again today? I think he must have got some reinforcements from somewhere.

We're not scared of any reinforcements he could get, said Cold-avoider and Heat-avoider scornfully. Let's get into our armor at once. Little ones, surround him carefully and don't let him get away. Not caring about their lives, the evil spirits came out of the cave holding spears and swords, with banners waving and drums beating. Back again, are you, macaque? they shouted at Brother Monkey. Not afraid of another beating?

Nothing infuriated Monkey so much as the word macaque, and he was grinding his teeth in rage as he lifted his cudgel to hit them. The three demon kings brought their junior devils up to surround him, at which the four wooden beasts who were waiting to one side swung their weapons with shouts of, Don't move, animals!

The three demon kings were of course most alarmed at the sight of the four stars, and they all said, This is terrible, terrible. He's found the people who can beat us. Run for your lives, little ones! With that there was much roaring, lowing, panting and sighing as the junior devils all resumed their original appearances as yak, water-buffalo and ox spirits running all over the mountain. The three demon kings also turned back into their true selves, put their hands down to become four-hoofed creatures like iron cannons, and galloped off to the Northeast, to be followed hard by the Great Sage leading the Wooden Hyena of the Well and the Wooden Lesser Dragon of the Horn. While they were not going to relax for a moment, the Wooden Unicorn of the Dipper and the Wooden Wolf of the Strider were mopping up all the cattle spirits among the hollows, summits, ravines and valleys of the Eastern mountain. Some were killed and others taken alive. They then went into the Dark Essence Cave to free the Tang Priest, Pig and Friar Sand.

Recognizing the two stars, Friar Sand bowed to them in thanks and asked, What brought you two gentlemen here to rescue us?

We came to rescue you because the Great Sage Monkey submitted a request to the Jade Emperor that we be sent, the two stars replied.

Why has my disciple Wukong not come in? the Tang Priest asked with tears in his eyes.

The three old demons are rhinoceroses, the stars explained, and when they saw us they fled for their lives to the Northeast. The Great Sage Sun has gone after them with the Wooden Hyena of the Well and the Wooden Lesser Dragon of the Horn. We two wiped out the oxen then came here to rescue you, holy monk. The Tang Priest once again kowtowed in thanks then kowtowed to heaven.

Master, said Pig, overdone courtesy is hypocrisy. Stop kowtowing all the time. The four star officers came at the Jade Emperor's command and as a favour to big brother. The ordinary demons have all been wiped out, but we still don't know how the senior demons are to be put down. Let's clear all the valuables out of the cave, wreck the place so as to dig out their roots, then go back to the monastery to wait for Monkey.

Marshal Tian Peng, your suggestion is right, said the Wooden Wolf of the Strider. You and the Curtain-lifting General escort your master back to the monastery to sleep while we head Northeast to fight the enemy.

Yes, yes, said Pig. With you two to help you're bound to wipe them all out. Then you'll be able to report back on your mission. The two star officers immediately joined the chase. After Pig and Friar Sand had found a bushel of valuables in the cave-there was much coral, agate, pearls, amber, precious shells, jade and gold-they carried them outside and invited the master to sit on the top of a crag while they started a fire that burned the whole cave to ashes. Only then did they take the master back to the Clouds of Compassion Monastery in Jinping Prefecture. Indeed:

The classic says, Disaster comes at the height of success.

Indeed one can meet with evil in happiness.

For love of the lanterns the dhyana nature was disturbed;

The heart set on the Way was weakened by a beautiful sight.

The great elixir has always had to be permanently guarded;

Once it is lost one always comes to grief.

Shut it up tight; bind it fast; never idle.

A moment's lack of care can lead one astray.

We will tell not of how the three of them went back to the monastery, their lives saved, but of how the Wooden Unicorn of the Dipper and the Wooden Wolf of the Strider were riding their clouds Northeast in pursuit of the demons when they lost sight of them in mid air. On reaching the Western Ocean they saw the Great Sage Monkey down by the sea a long way away, shouting.

Where have the monsters gone, Great Sage? they asked, bringing their clouds down. Why didn't you two come after them and help put them down? Monkey replied. How can you have the nerve to ask that question?

When we saw that you and the stars from the Well and the Horn had routed the demons and were going after them, Great Sage, the Wooden Unicorn of the Dipper replied, we were sure you'd capture them, so we two wiped out the rest of the devils, rescued your master and fellow-disciples from the cave, searched the mountain, burned the cave out, and entrusted your master to your two fellow-disciples to take back to the Clouds of Compassion Monastery in the city. We only came after you this way when you had been gone for such a long time.

In that case you did very well, said Brother Monkey, his wrath now turned to pleasure. Thank you for going to so much trouble. The only thing is that when we'd chased the three ogres this far they plunged into the sea. The two stars from the Well and the Horn followed close behind them while I stayed on the shore to cut off their escape. Now you're here you can block them on the shore while I go there.

The splendid Great Sage then swung his cudgel and made a spell with his fingers as he cleared a way through the waters, plunging deep into the waves, where the three monsters were locked in a life-and-death struggle with the Wooden Hyena of the Well and the Wooden Lesser Dragon of the Horn.

Monkey's here, he shouted, springing forward. The evil spirits could barely hold off the two star officers, so when they heard Monkey's great yell at this moment of crisis they turned and fled for their lives into the middle of the sea. Their horns were very good at parting the waters, and they cleared their way through the sea with a whooshing noise, the two star officers and the Great Sage Monkey chasing after them.

A yaksha who was patrolling the Western Ocean with a shelled warrior saw from a distance the way the rhinoceroses were parting the waters, recognized Monkey and the two stars, and rushed back to the crystal palace to report to the dragon king in alarm, Your Majesty, the Great Sage Equaling Heaven and two stars from the sky are chasing three rhinoceroses this way. When the old dragon king Ao Shun heard this he said to his heir, Prince Mo'ang, Muster our water forces at once. I'm sure it must be the three rhinoceros spirits Cold-avoider, Heat-avoider and Dust-avoider who've provoked Sun the Novice. As they're in the sea now we'd better lend a hand. Having been given his orders Ao Mo'ang hastened to muster his troops.

A moment later a fully-armed force of tortoises, soft-shelled turtles, alligators, bream, mackerel, mandarin fish, carp, and prawn and crab soldiers charged out of the crystal palace shouting their battle-cries together to stop the rhinoceros spirits. Unable to go any further forward, the rhinoceroses made a hasty retreat, only to find their escape blocked by the stars from the Well and the Horn as well as the Great Sage. In their panic they failed to stay in a group, but scattered as they fled for their lives. Dust-avoider was soon surrounded by the old dragon king's men.

A delighted Monkey called out, Stop! Stop! Take him alive! Don't kill him! When Mo'ang heard this order he rushed forward, knocked Dust-avoider to the ground, put an iron hook through his snout and tied all his hoofs together.

The old dragon king then divided his forces into two to help the star officers capture the other two monsters. As the young dragon prince led his men forward the Wooden Hyena of the Well reverted to his real form to hold Cold-avoider down and start eating him in big and little bites.

Well Star! Mo'ang shouted. Don't kill him! The Great Sage Monkey wants him alive, not dead. Mo'ang shouted several times, but by then the Hyena had already gnawed right through the monster's throat.

Mo'ang ordered his prawn and crab soldiers to carry the dead rhinoceros back to the palace of crystal, then joined the Wooden Hyena of the Well in the pursuit. Heat-avoider, who was being driven back towards them by the Wooden Lesser Dragon of the Horn, ran straight into the star from the Well, at which Mo'ang ordered his tortoises, soft-shelled turtles and alligators to spread out in the winnowing-fan formation to encircle the monster.

Spare me, spare me! the monster pleaded. The wooden Hyena of the Well sprang forward, grabbed the monster by the ear, seized his sword, and shouted, I won't kill you. I won't kill you. I'll take you to the Great Sage Monkey for him to deal with you.

The troops then went back to the crystal palace, where they reported, We've got them both. Monkey saw that one was lying headless and gory on the ground, while the other was being forced to kneel by the Wooden Hyena of the Well twisting his ear.

That head wasn't cut off with a weapon, Monkey said on going up for a closer look.

If I hadn't shouted so hard the star officer of the Well would have eaten the whole of him up, replied Mo'ang with a smile. Very well then, said Monkey.

In that case you'd better get a saw to cut off his horns and have his hide removed for us to take. We'll leave the flesh for your worthy father the dragon king and yourself to enjoy. A chain was then run through Dust-avoider's nose for the Wooden Lesser Dragon of the Horn to lead him by, and the same was done to Heat-avoider for the Wooden Hyena of the Well.

Take them to the prefect of Jinping, said Monkey. Investigate them, question them about all the years they masqueraded as Buddhas to harm the people, then off with their heads.

They all then did as Monkey told them, taking their leave of the dragon king and his son and emerging from the Western Ocean, leading the rhinoceroses with them. When they met the other two stars from the Strider and the Dipper they went by cloud straight back to Jinping Prefecture.

Here Monkey called out as he stood in mid air on a beam of auspicious light, Mr. Prefect, subordinate officials, soldiers and civilians of Jinping, listen to what I say. We are holy monks sent by the Great Tang in the East to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven. In this prefecture and its counties you have had to make offerings in golden lamps every year to these rhinoceros monsters pretending to be Buddhas coming down to earth. When we came here and were admiring the lamps at the Moon Festival these monsters carried the oil and our master off together. I asked for some gods from heaven to capture them. We've cleaned out their cave and wiped out the monsters. They won't be able to give you any more trouble. You needn't waste the people's money making offerings in golden lamps here any more.

When Pig and Friar Sand, who were just escorting the master back into the Clouds of Compassion Monastery, heard Monkey talking from up in the sky they abandoned their master, dropped the luggage and shot up into the air by cloud to ask Monkey about how the demons had been beaten.

One of them was chewed to death by the star from the Well, Monkey replied, and we've got his sawn-off horns and his hide with us. The other two we've brought back alive.

Throw the pair of them down into the city, said Pig, for the officials and everyone else to see. Then they'll know we're gods and sages. I'll trouble you four star officers to put your clouds away, land, and come into the prefectural court with us to execute the monsters. The facts are clear and the penalty's the right one. There's nothing else to be said.

Marshal Tian Peng is right, and he knows the laws too, the four stars said.

I have learned a bit during my years as a monk, Pig replied.

The gods then pushed the rhinoceroses, which fell wreathed in coloured clouds into the prefectural court, to the astonishment of the prefectutal officials and everyone else inside and outside the walled city, who all set up incense tables outside their houses, and bowed their heads to worship the gods from heaven. A little later the monks of the Clouds of Compassion Monastery carried the venerable elder into the court in a sedan chair.

When Sanzang met Monkey he kept thanking him, adding, I am very grateful for the trouble I have put the star officers to in rescuing us. I had been very anxious when I did not see you, worthy disciple, but now you have returned in triumph. I wonder where you had to chase the monsters to before you caught them.

After I left you the day before yesterday, Monkey replied, I went up to heaven to make some enquiries. The Metal Planet knew that the monsters were rhinoceroses, so he told me to ask for the four beast stars that belong to the element wood. So I submitted a memorial to the Jade Emperor and he sent them straight to the mouth of the cave, where they gave battle. When the demon kings fled, the stars from the Dipper and the Strider rescued you, Master, I chased the demons with the Well and the Horn stars straight to the Western Ocean, where the dragon king sent his son out with their troops to help us. That's how the monsters were captured and brought here for questioning. The venerable elder was full of endless praise and thanks. The prefectural and county officials and their subordinates all lit precious candles and whole containers of incense sticks as they kowtowed in respect,

A little later Pig lost his temper, pulled out his monastic knife and beheaded first Dust-avoider, then Heat-avoider, each with a single stroke. Then he removed their four horns with a saw. The Great Sage Monkey then had another suggestion to make: You four star officers must take these four rhinoceros horns to the upper world to offer to the Jade Emperor as trophies when you report back on your mission. As for the two horns he had brought back from the sea, he said, We'll leave one here to guard the storehouses of the prefectural palace and as evidence that from now on no more lamp-oil will ever be levied. We'll take the other to offer to the Lord Buddha on Vulture Peak. The four stars were delighted, and after bowing to take their leave of the Great Sage they rose by coloured cloud to report back to the Jade Emperor.

The prefectural and county officials kept the master and his disciples for a great vegetarian banquet to which all the rural officials were also invited. Notices were issued to tell the military and civil population that golden lamps were not to be lit the next year, and that the duty of serving as an oil-purchasing household was abolished for ever. Butchers meanwhile were instructed to remove the rhinoceros skins to be steeped in saltpeter and smoked dry for making into armor, while the flesh was to be distributed to the officials. At the same time money and grain that had been raised by unjust fines on innocent people were spent to buy a plot of privately-owned empty land. On this a temple to the four stars who had put the demons down, as well as a shrine to the Tang Priest and his three disciples, were to be built. Stone tablets with inscriptions were to be set up for each of them to record their deeds for ever as a mark of gratitude.

Master and disciples relaxed and enjoyed the offerings. They had hardly a moment to themselves as they had so many invitations from the 240 lamp-oil households. Pig was delighted to have so much to eat, and he always kept in his sleeve some of the treasures he had collected in the cave to give to all his hosts to thank them for their banquets. When they had stayed there for a month and were still unable to get away the Tang Priest ordered Monkey.

Wukong, give all the remaining valuables to the monks in the Clouds of Compassion Monastery. Let's leave before dawn, without letting the rich families here know. If we are so eager to enjoy ourselves here that we delay in fetching the scriptures we may offend the Lord Buddha and cause some catastrophe. That would be terrible. Monkey then disposed of all the objects.

When they got up early the next morning at the fifth watch Pig was woken up to get the horse ready. The idiot had eaten and drunk so well that he was still half asleep as he said, Why get the horse ready so early?

The master says we've got to be going, Monkey shouted.

That reverend gentleman doesn't do things right, the idiot said, rubbing his eyes. We've had invitations from all 240 of the big families, but only had thirty or so good vegetarian meals so far. How can he be making me go hungry again?

When the venerable elder heard this he retorted abusively, Dreg-guzzling idiot! Stop talking such nonsense! Get up at once! If you go on arguing back like that I'll tell Wukong to smash your teeth in with his gold-banded cudgel.

At the mention of a beating the idiot gesticulated frantically as he said, The master's changed. Usually he favours me and likes me and protects me because I'm so stupid. When you want to hit me, brother, he usually persuades you not to. So why's he dead set on telling you to hit me today?

The master's angry with you for being so greedy, Monkey replied, and holding us up on our journey. If you don't want me to hit you, pack the luggage and get the horse ready.

As the idiot really was scared of being hit he jumped out of bed, got dressed and shouted to Friar Sand, Get up right now! He's going to start hitting. Friar Sand then jumped up too, and they both got everything packed.

Keep quiet, said the Tang Priest, waving his hands about, and don't disturb the monks. He quickly mounted, after which they opened the gate of the monastery and found their way out. Indeed, this departure was

Letting the phoenix escape from the birdcage of jade;

Secretly opening locks so the dragon goes free.

If you don't know what the households who still wanted to thank them did at daybreak, listen to the explanation in the next installment.

Chapter 91 | Journey to the West (vol. 3) | Chapter 93