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


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


Chapter 83

The Mind-Ape Recognizes the Refiner of Cinnabar

The Girl Reverts to Her True Nature

The story tells how after Sanzang had been carried out of the cave by the evil spirit Friar Sand went up to him and asked, Where is my oldest brother now that you have come out, Master?

He must know what he's doing, said Pig. I expect he's exchanged himself for the master to get him out.

Your brother is in her stomach, Sanzang replied, pointing at the evil spirit.

It is terribly filthy, Pig said. Whatever are you doing in there? Come out.

Open your mouth, said Monkey from inside, I'm coming out. The she-devil did indeed open her mouth wide. Monkey made himself very small, sprang up into her throat, and was just about to emerge when he became worried that she might cheat and bite him. He then pulled out his iron cudgel, blew on it with magic breath, called Change! and turned it into a jujube stone with which he wedged her jaw open. With one bound he then leapt outside, taking the iron cudgel with him, bowed to resume his own form and raised his cudgel to strike her. At once she drew a pair of fine swords, parrying his blow with a loud clang. They fought a splendid battle on the mountain top.

A pair of dancing, flying swords defended her face;

The gold-banded cudgel struck at her head.

One was a heaven-born monkey, the Mind-ape;

The other had the bones of an earth-born girl turned spirit;

The two of them both had been smitten by anger:

Hatred arose at the celebration; the party was ended.

One longed to mate with the primal masculinity,

The other wanted to defeat the incarnation of the female.

When the cudgel was raised to the sky cold mists spread out;

The swords shook up the earth's black dirt like a sieve.

Because the elder would visit the Buddha

They were locked in fierce combat, each showing great prowess.

When water conflicts with fire motherhood is out;

When Yin and Yang cannot combine each goes its own way.

After the two had been fighting for a very long time

The earth moved, the mountains shook and the trees were destroyed.

The sight of their struggle made Pig grumble resentfully about Monkey. Brother, he said, turning to Friar Sand, our elder brother is messing around. When he was in her stomach just now he could have used his fists to make her belly red with blood, rip it open and come out. That would have settled her score. Why did he have to come out through her mouth and fight her? Why did he let her run wild?

You're right, Friar Sand replied, but it was thanks to him that the master was rescued from the depths of the cave, even if he is in a fight with her now. Let's ask the master to sit here by himself while we two use our weapons to help our brother beat the evil spirit.

No, no, said Pig with a wave of his hand. He's got his magic powers. We'd be useless.

What a thing to say, retorted Friar Sand. This is in all of our interests. We may not be much use, but even a fart can strengthen a breeze.

Now that the idiot's dander was up he brandished his rake and shouted, Come on! Ignoring the master, they rode the wind and went for the evil spirit, striking wildly at her with their rake and staff. The evil spirit, who was already finding Brother Monkey too much to handle, realized that she would be unable to hold out against two more of them. At once she turned and fled.

After her, brothers, Monkey shouted. Seeing that they were so hot on her heels the evil spirit took the embroidered shoe off her right foot, blew on it with a magic breath, said a spell, called Change! and turned it into her own double swinging a pair of sword. Then she shook herself, turned into a puff of wind and went straight back. There she was, fleeing for her life because she was no match for them. What happened next was quite unexpected: Sanzang's evil star had still not gone away. As the evil spirit reached the archway in front of the entrance to the cave she saw the Tang Priest sitting there by himself, so she went up to him, threw her arm round him, grabbed the luggage, bit through the bridle, and carried him back inside, horse and all.

The story tells not of her but of Pig, who exploited an opening to fell the evil spirit with one blow of his rake, only to find that she was really an embroidered shoe.

You pair of idiots, said Monkey when he saw it. You should have been looking after the master. Nobody asked you to help.

What about that, then, Friar Sand? said Pig. I said we shouldn't come here. That ape has had a brainstorm. We beat the monster for him and he gets angry with us.

Beaten the monster indeed! Monkey said. The monster fooled me yesterday by leaving a shoe behind when I was fighting her. Goodness knows how the master is now that you've left him. Let's go straight back and see.

The three of them hurried back to find that the master had disappeared: there was no sign at all of him, the luggage or the white horse. Pig started rushing all over the place in a panic with Friar Sand searching alongside him. The Great Sage Sun was also most anxious. As he searched he noticed half of the bridle rope lying askew beside the path.

Picking it up, he could not hold back his tears as he called in a loud voice, Master! When I went I took my leave of you three and the horse, and all I find on my return is this rope. It was indeed a case of

Being reminded of the steed by seeing the saddle,

Missing the beloved amid one's tears.

The sight of Monkey's tears gave Pig an uncontrollable urge to throw back his head and laugh out loud. Blockhead, said Monkey abusively. Do you want us to break up again?

That's not what I mean, said Pig, still laughing. The master's been carried back into the cave. As the saying goes, 'third time lucky'. You've already been into the cave twice, so if you go in again you're sure to rescue the master.

Very well then, said Monkey, wiping away his tears, as this is the way things are I have no choice. I'll have to go back in. You two don't have to worry about the luggage or the horse any more, so guard the cave-mouth properly.

The splendid Great Sage turned round and sprang into the cave. This time he did no transformations but appeared in his own dharma form. This is what he was like:

His cheeks looked strange but his heart was strong;

As a monster since childhood his magic was mighty.

A misshapen face that looked like a saddle;

Eyes fiery bright with golden light.

His hairs were harder than needles of steel,

And striking was the pattern of his tigerskin kilt.

In the sky he could scatter a myriad clouds;

In the sea he could stir up thousandfold waves.

Once with his strength he fought heavenly kings,

Putting a hundred and eight thousand warriors to flight.

His title was Great Sage Equaling Heaven;

He was an expert with the gold-banded cudgel.

Today in the West he was using his powers

To return to the cave and rescue Sanzang.

Watch Monkey as he stops his cloud and heads straight for the evil spirit's residence, where he found the gates under the gate towers shut. Not caring whether or not it was the right thing to do, he smashed them open with one swing of his cudgel and charged inside. It was completely quiet and deserted, and the Tang Priest was nowhere to be seen in the corridor. The tables and chairs in the pavilion and all the utensils had completely disappeared. As the cave measured over a hundred miles around, the evil spirit had very many hiding places in it. This was where she had brought the Tang Priest the previous time, only to be found by Monkey, so after catching him this time she had moved him elsewhere in case Monkey came looking for him again.

Not knowing where they had gone, Monkey stamped his foot and beat his chest with fury, letting himself call out at the top of his voice, Master! You are a Tang Sanzang formed in misfortune, a pilgrim monk molded from disaster. Hmm. I know the way well enough. Why isn't he here? Where should I look for him?

Just when he was howling with impatience and anxiety his nose was struck by a whiff of incense, which brought him back to himself. This incense smoke is coming from the back, he thought, so I suppose they must be there. He strode in at the back, his cudgel in his hand, but still saw no sign of life. What he did see were three side rooms. Near the back wall was a lacquered offertory table carved with dragons on which stood a gilt incense-burner. From this came heavily scented incense smoke. On the table was a tablet inscribed with letters of gold to which the offerings were being made. The letters read, Honoured Father, Heavenly King Li. In a slightly inferior position was written, Honoured Elder Brother, Third Prince Nezha.

The sight filled Monkey with delight. He stopped searching for the monster and the Tang Priest, rubbed his cudgel between his fingers to make it as small as an embroidery needle, tucked it inside his ear, gathered up the tablet and the incense-burner with a sweep of his arms and went straight back out through the gates on his clouds. He was still chortling with glee when he reached the mouth of the cave.

When Pig and Friar Sand heard him they unblocked the entrance to the cave and greeted him with, You look so happy you must have saved the master, elder brother.

No need for us to save him, Monkey replied with a smile. We can ask this tablet for him.

But that tablet isn't an evil spirit and it can't talk, said Pig, so how can you ask it for him?

Look at it, said Monkey, putting the tablet on the ground. When Friar Sand went up to look he saw Honoured Father, Heavenly King Li" and Honoured Elder Brother, Third Prince Nezha written on it.

What does this mean? Friar Sand asked.

The evil spirit makes offerings to it, Monkey replied. When I charged into her place there was nobody about, only this tablet. I think she must be a daughter of Heavenly King Li and the younger sister of Prince Nezha who so longed for the lower world that she pretended to be an evil spirit and carried our master off. So who better to demand the master from? You two keep guard here while I take this tablet up to Heaven to lodge a complaint with the Jade Emperor and force those heavenly kings to give our master back.

Brother, said Pig, there's a saying that goes, 'Bring a capital charge and pay for it with your own head.' You can only do a thing like that if you're in the right. Besides, a case in the celestial court isn't something to be started lightly. You'd better tell me what sort of case you're going to bring.

I know what I'm going to do, Monkey replied. I'm going to produce this tablet and incense-burner as evidence and submit a written deposition too.

What will you write in your deposition? Pig asked him. Will you tell me?

To this Brother Monkey replied, The complainant Sun Wukong, whose age is stated in this document, is the disciple of the monk Tang Sanzang who is going from the Tang court in the East to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven. He submits a complaint that an imitation evil spirit has committed a kidnap. Li Jing, the Pagoda-carrying Heavenly King, and his son Prince Nezha have been slack in controlling their women's quarters. He has allowed his daughter to run away and turn into an evil spirit in the Bottomless Cave in Mount Pitfall, where she has lured countless deluded people to their deaths. She has now carried my master into a remote corner where he cannot be found. If I had not submitted this complaint I would have been deeply worried that the heavenly king and his son in their wickedness had deliberately incited his daughter to become a spirit and cause general disaster. I beg Your Majesty in your mercy to summon the heavenly king to attend a hearing, bring the demon under control and deliver my master. I would be deeply grateful if Your Majesty would determine the correct penalty for this offence. This is my respectful submission.

When Pig and Friar Sand heard this they said with delight, Brother, you're bound to win if you submit so reasonable a complaint. Be as quick as you can. If you lose any time you may be too late to stop the evil spirit killing our master.

I'll hurry, said Brother Monkey, I'll hurry. I'll be back in the time it takes to cook rice at the longest or to make a cup of tea if I'm quick.

With one bound the splendid Great Sage carried the tablet and the incense-burner straight up by auspicious cloud to the outside of the Southern Gate of Heaven, where the Heavenly Kings Powerful and Protector of the Nation greeted him with bows, letting him in and not daring to block his way.

He went straight to the Hall of Universal Radiance, where the four heavenly teachers Zhang, Ge, Xu, and Qiu showed him great courtesy and asked, Why are you here, Great Sage?

I've got a complaint here, Monkey replied. There are a couple of people I want to lodge a complaint against.

The scoundrel, thought the appalled heavenly teachers, who can he be wanting to sue? They had no choice but to lead him to the Hall of Miraculous Mist and submit their report to the Jade Emperor, who ordered that Monkey be summoned hi. Monkey then put down the tablet and the incense-burner, bowed to the emperor, and presented his complaint. This was taken by the Ancient Immortal Ge, who spread it out on the emperor's table. When the emperor had read it through from the beginning and learned what had happened he approved the deposition, wrote an imperial rescript on it, and sent the Great White Planet, the Metal Planet Changgeng, to the Cloud Tower Palace to summon the Pagoda-carrying Heavenly King Li to the imperial presence.

Monkey then stepped forward and submitted this memorial: I beg that the Heavenly Sovereign will punish him effectively as otherwise there will be further trouble.

Let the complainant go too, the Jade Emperor ordered.

What, me? said Monkey.

His Majesty has issued his decree, said the Four Heavenly Teachers, so you go with the Metal Planet.

Monkey then went with the planet by cloud. They were soon at the Cloud Tower Palace, the residence of the heavenly king. The Metal Star saw a page standing at the palace gates.

Recognizing the planet, the boy went inside to report, The Great White Planet is here.

The heavenly king then came out to welcome the planet. Seeing that the planet was carrying a decree from the Jade Emperor, the heavenly king ordered incense to be burned before turning round and seeing to his fury that Monkey had come too. Why do you think he was furious? When Monkey had made great havoc in heaven all those years earlier the Jade Emperor had appointed the heavenly king as Demon-quelling High Marshal and Prince Nezha as Great God of the Three Altars of the Seas to lead the heavenly troops and subdue Monkey. They had been repeatedly worsted in battle. It was resentment at this defeat five hundred years earlier that goaded him to fury.

Old Changgeng, he said to the planet, showing his irritation, what kind of decree have you brought here?

It is a case that the Great Sage Sun has brought against you, the planet replied.

The heavenly king had been in a bad enough temper before this, but the word case provoked a thunderous outburst of fury: What case has he got against me?

He accuses you of masquerading as an evil spirit and kidnapping, the planet said. Will you please burn incense and read it for yourself.

Seething with anger, the heavenly king had an incense table set up, looked into the sky as he thanked the emperor for his grace, made his obeisances, opened out the decree and read it through.

When he saw what it contained he thumped the incense table and exclaimed, That ape has trumped up a pack of lies.

Please keep your temper, the planet replied. A tablet and an incense-burner have been submitted to His Majesty as evidence. He says it was your daughter who did it.

All I have are my three sons and a single daughter, said the heavenly king. My elder son Jinzha serves the Tathagata Buddha as a Vanguard Guardian of the Law Dharma. My second son Moksa is a disciple of Guanyin in the Southern Ocean. My third son Nezha stays with me as my escort at all times. My daughter Zhenying is only six and an innocent child. She could not possibly have become an evil spirit. If you don't believe me I'll carry her out to show you. This ape is really a disgrace. Never mind that I'm one of the most distinguished elder statesmen in heaven and been given the authority to cut heads off before reporting to the throne: not even an ordinary commoner in the lower world should be falsely accused. As the Legal Code says, 'the penalty for false accusation is three grades higher than the crime alleged.'

He then ordered his underlings to fetch demon-binding rope and tie Monkey up. The Mighty Miracle God, General Fishbelly and General Yaksha who were drawn up outside the court rushed on Monkey and tied him up.

Heavenly King Li, the Metal Planet pleaded, please don't invite disaster. I have come here with him from the imperial presence under orders from His Majesty to summon you. That rope of yours is heavy, and it could very quickly hurt him badly or strangle him.

Metal Star, the heavenly king replies, there's no way I'm going to stand for his false, trumped-up charge. Won't you take a seat while I fetch my demon-hacking sword to kill this ape with? I'll report to His Majesty with you after I've done that. At the sight of the heavenly king fetching the sword the planet trembled with terror.

You've made a terrible mistake, he said to Monkey. A case before the emperor isn't to be lightly started. You've brought this disaster on yourself by not finding the facts out properly and you'll die for it. This is terrible.

Monkey was completely unafraid. Don't worry, old man, he said with a chuckle, this is nothing. This has always been my way of doing business: I lose out at first and win in the end.

Before the words were all out of his mouth the heavenly king's sword swung down towards Monkey's head. But Prince Nezha was already in front of Monkey, parrying the blow with his great sword used for cutting men in half at the waist and calling, Please calm your temper, father.

This greatly shocked the heavenly king. Very strange! If a son used his broadsword to block his father's cutlass he ought to be bawled out, so why did Nezha's father turn pale with shock?

Now when this son had been born to the heavenly king the word Ne was written on the palm of his left hand and Zha on his right one, which was why he was called Nezha. When only three days old the young prince had caused great trouble by plunging into the sea to clean himself. He had kicked the water crystal palace down, captured a dragon and insisted on pulling its sinews out to make a belt. On learning about this, the heavenly king had been so worried about the disastrous consequences that he had decided to kill the boy.

This had made Nezha so indignant that he had seized a sword, cut off his flesh and returned it to his mother, then picked his bones clean and given them back to his father. Having returned his father's seed and his mother's blood he had taken his soul straight off to the Western Paradise to appeal to the Buddha. When the Buddha, who was expounding the sutras to all the Bodhisattvas, heard a call of Help! from within his curtained and jeweled canopy he had looked with his wise eyes and seen that it was Nezha's soul. He had made Nezha bones out of green lotus root and clothes from lotus leaves, then recited the spell to revive the dead.

Thus it was that Nezha had come back to life. He had used his divine ability and great magical powers to subdue ninety-six caves of demons through dharma. After this Nezha had wanted to kill his father in revenge for having had to pick the flesh off his own bones, leaving the heavenly king with no choice but to beg the help of the Tathagata Buddha. For the sake of harmony the Buddha had given the heavenly king an intricately-made golden As-You-Will reliquary pagoda, in each story of which were Buddhas radiant with splendor. The Buddha called on Nezha to regard these Buddhas as his father, thereby ending the hatred between them. This is why Heavenly King Li is called the Pagoda-bearer. As the heavenly king was at home off duty that day and not carrying the pagoda he was afraid that Nezha was set on revenge. This was why he turned pale with terror.

So he turned his hand back to take the golden pagoda from its stand and hold it as he asked Nezha, What do you want to say to me, son? Why have you parried my sword with your broadsword?

Throwing his broadsword down, Nezha kowtowed to his father as he replied, Father, Your Majesty, there is a daughter of our family in the lower world.

My boy, the heavenly king replied, I have only had you four children. Where could I have got another daughter from?

You have forgotten, Your Majesty, Nezha replied. The girl was once an evil spirit. Three hundred years ago she became a monster. She stole and ate some of the Tathagata's incense, flowers and candles on Vulture Peak, and the Tathagata sent us to capture her with heavenly soldiers. When she was caught she should have been beaten to death, but the Tathagata said,

'Raise fish in deep water but never catch them;

Feed deer in the depths of the mountains in the hope of eternal life.'

So we spared her life. In her gratitude she bowed to you as her adoptive father, Your Majesty, and to me as her elder brother. She set up a tablet to us in the lower world to burn incense. I never imagined she'd become an evil spirit again and try to ruin the Tang Priest. Now Sun the Novice has trailed her to her den and brought the tablet up here to use in a case against us before the Jade Emperor. She is your adopted daughter, not my real sister.

This came as a terrible shock to the heavenly king. Son, he said, I really had forgotten. What's she called?

She has three names, the prince replied. Where she originally came from she was called Gold-nosed White-haired Mouse Spirit. Then she was called Half-Bodhisattva-Guanyin because she had stolen the incense, flowers and candles. When she was forgiven and sent down to the lower world she changed her name again and became Lady Earth-gusher. Only then did the heavenly king come to his senses. He put his pagoda down and started to untie Monkey himself. At this Monkey started playing it up.

Don't you dare try to untie me! he said. If you want to do something you can carry me roped up as I am to see the emperor. Then I'll win my case. The heavenly king felt weak from terror and the prince could say nothing. Everybody fell back.

The Great Sage meanwhile was rolling about and playing it up, insisting that the heavenly king take him to the emperor. The heavenly king could do nothing except beg the Metal Planet to put in a good word for him.

There is an old saying, the planet replied, that one should always be lenient. You went too far: you tied him up and were going to kill him. The monkey is a notorious trouble-maker. How do you expect me to deal with him? From what your worthy son has said, she is your daughter, even though adopted rather than your own, and a child by adoption is especially dear. However one argues it you are guilty.

Surely you can find some way of putting in a good word for me and helping me off the hook, venerable planet, said the heavenly king.

I would like to end the quarrel between you, the planet replied, but I have never done him a good turn that I can remind him of.

Tell him how it was you who proposed that he should be amnestied and given an official post, said the heavenly king.

The Metal Planet did then step forward, stroke Brother Monkey and say, Great Sage, won't you let us take the rope off before going to see the emperor, just for my sake?

No need to bother, old man, Monkey replied. I'm a good roller and I can roll all the way there.

You've got no decent feelings, you monkey, said the planet with a smile. I did you some good turns in the old days, but you won't do this little thing for me.

What good turn did you ever do me? Monkey asked.

When you were a monster on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit you subdued tigers and dragons, forcibly removed yourself from the register of death and assembled hordes of fiends to run wild and wreak havoc. Heaven wanted to have you arrested. It was only because I made strong representations that an edict of amnesty and recruitment was issued and you were summoned to Heaven to be appointed Protector of the Horses. You drank some of the Jade Emperor's wine of immortality, and it was only because I made strong representations again that you were given the title of Great Sage Equaling Heaven. But you refused to know your place. You stole the peaches and the wine and robbed Lord Lao Zi of his elixir, and so it went on till you ended up in a state of no death and no birth. If it hadn't been for me you'd never have got where you are today.

As the ancients put it, Monkey replied, 'Don't even share a grave with an old man when you're dead: all he'll do is complain.' I was just a Protector of the Horses who made havoc in the heavenly palace: there was nothing much apart from that. Oh well, never mind. I'll show you a bit of consideration as you're such an old man. He can untie me himself. Only then did the heavenly king dare step forward, untie the rope, and ask Brother Monkey to dress and take the seat of honour while they all took it in turn to pay their respects to him.

Old man, Monkey said to the Metal Planet, what about it then? I told you I lose first and win later. That's my way of doing business. Make him hurry and see the emperor: delay could be disastrous for my master.

Don't be impatient, the Metal Planet said. After everything that's happened we should take a cup of tea.

If you drink his tea, accept favours from him, take a bribe to let a criminal escape, and treat imperial edicts with disrespect I wonder what you'll be charged with, Monkey replied.

I won't stop for tea, the Metal Planet replied, I won't stop for tea. You're even trying to frame me. Hurry up, Heavenly King Li, we must be on our way. The heavenly king dared not go for fear that Monkey would concoct some unfounded story and start playing it up: if Monkey started talking wildly he would be unable to argue against him. So once again the heavenly king pleaded with the Metal Planet to put in a good word for him.

I have a suggestion to make, the planet said to Monkey. Will you follow it?

I've already agreed about being tied up and hacked at, Monkey replied. What else have you to say? Tell me! Tell me! If it's a good idea I'll follow it; and if it isn't, don't blame me.

'Fight a lawsuit for one day and it'll go on for ten,' said the Metal Planet. You brought a case before the emperor saying that the evil spirit is the heavenly king's daughter and the heavenly king says she isn't. You two will argue endlessly in front of His Majesty, but I tell you that a day in heaven is a year in the lower world. In that year the evil spirit will have your master under her control in the cave, and she won't just have married him. By then there may have been a happy event and she may have had a little baby monk. Then your great enterprise will be ruined.

Yes, thought Monkey, his head bowed, when I left Pig and Friar Sand I said I'd be back in the time it takes to cook a meal at longest and at quickest before they could make a cup of tea. I've been ages already and it might be too late. Old man, he said aloud, I'll take your advice. How do we obey this imperial decree?

Have Heavenly King Li muster his troops and go down with you to subdue the demon, the Metal Planet replied, while I report back to the emperor.

What will you say? Monkey asked.

I'll report that the plaintiff has absconded and that the defendant is therefore excused, the planet replied.

That's very fine, said Monkey with a grin. I show you consideration and you accuse me of absconding. Tell him to muster his troops and wait for me outside the Southern Gate of Heaven while you and I report back on our mission.

If he says anything when he's there I'll be accused of treason, exclaimed the heavenly king with terror.

What do you take me for? asked Monkey. I'm a real man. Once I've given my word a team of horses couldn't take it back. I'd never slander you.

The heavenly king thanked Monkey, who went with the Metal Planet to report back on their mission, while the heavenly king mustered his heavenly troops and went straight to the outside of the Southern Gate of Heaven.

When the Metal Planet and Monkey had their audience with the Jade Emperor they said, The person who has trapped the Tang Priest is the Golden-nosed White-haired Mouse turned spirit. She has fraudulently set up a tablet to the heavenly king and his son. As soon as he found out, the heavenly king mustered his troops to go and subdue the demon. We beg your Celestial Majesty to forgive him.

Once the Jade Emperor knew what had happened he dropped the prosecution in his heavenly mercy. Monkey then went back on his cloud to the outside of the Southern Gate of Heaven, where he found the heavenly king and the prince waiting for him with their heavenly soldiers draw up on parade. The heavenly commanders met the Great Sage amid blustering winds and seething mists, then they all took their clouds straight down to Mount Pitfall.

Pig and Friar Sand were wide-eyed at the sight of the heavenly hosts coming down with Brother Monkey. Greeting the heavenly king with due courtesy, the idiot said, We have put you to great trouble in coming here.

You don't realize, Marshal Tian Peng, the heavenly king replied, that it was because my son and I accepted a joss-stick from her that the evil spirit in her wickedness captured your master. Please don't be angry with us for being so long. Is this Mount Pitfall? Where is the entrance to the cave?

I know the way very well by now, said Monkey. This cave is called the Bottomless Cave and it measures over a hundred miles around. The evil spirit has a great many holes in it. Last time my master was held in the gate tower with double eaves, but it's deadly quiet now. There's not even the shadow of a demon. I don't know where she's taken him to now. To this the heavenly king replied,

'No matter how many the tricks she may try

She'll never escape from the nets of the sky.'

We'll think of something else when we get to the cave entrance.

They all then started out, and after they had gone three or four miles they reached the great rock. This is it, Monkey said pointing at the entrance that was no larger than the mouth of a large jar.

You'll never capture the tiger's cub unless you go into the tiger's lair, observed the heavenly king. Who dares go in first?

I'll go, said Monkey.

No, I'll go first, objected Prince Nezha. I was the one the emperor ordered to capture the demon.

The idiot then started acting tough, shouting, It ought to be me first.

Stop that din, said the heavenly king. I'll decide. The Great Sage Sun and the prince will go down with the soldiers while we three hold the entrance. Then we'll have a coordinated action inside and outside, which will make it impossible for her to find her way up to heaven or go further underground. That will show her a bit of our powers.

Yes, sir, they all said in assent.

Watch as Monkey and Prince Nezha slip into the cave at the head of their troops. As they rode their clouds they looked around and saw that it really was a fine cave:

The pair of sun and moon as before;

A vista of rivers and hills like the other world.

Warm mists spread over pools and wells of pearl;

Much more there is to admire down here.

Crimson houses, painted halls,

Red cliffs, green fields,

Willows in the spring and lotos in the autumn;

A rare and splendid cave heaven.

An instant later they brought their clouds to a halt and went straight to the mansion where the evil spirit had lived before. They went from gateway to gateway in their search, yelling and shouting as they went deeper and deeper inside, trying one place after the next. All the grass for a hundred miles was trampled away. But where was the evil spirit? Where was Sanzang?

The wicked beast, everyone was saying, she must have got out of this cave ages ago. She'll be far away by now. What they did not know was that down underneath a dark corner in the Southeast of the cave there was another, smaller cave, where behind a pair of tiny gates there was a tiny cottage with flowers growing in pots and a few canes of bamboo beside the eaves. The atmosphere was dark and heavy with fragrance. This was where the evil spirit had carried Sanzang and was going to force him to marry her. She was sure that Monkey would never find them; none of them realized that her union was fated to be thwarted.

The junior devils were jabbering away in a great crush when a bolder one among them stretched outside the cave for a look around only for her head to butt into a heavenly soldier, who shouted, They're here! At this Monkey flew into a rage, grasped the gold-banded cudgel and charged straight down in. The cave was tiny and all the demons from the big cave were in there, so that when Prince Nezha sent his heavenly soldiers crowding into the attack, not a single one of the demons could hide.

Monkey found the Tang Priest, the dragon horse and the baggage. The senior demon was at her wit's end. All she could do was to kowtow to Prince Nezha, begging him to spare her life.

We are here to arrest you at the Jade Emperor's command, Prince Nezha replied, which is not something to be treated lightly. My father and I were nearly in terrible trouble because of you.

He then shouted at the top of his voice, Heavenly soldiers, fetch demon-binding rope. Tie all those evil spirits up. The senior demon too had to suffer for a while. They all went back out of the cave together by cloud.

Monkey was chuckling with delight when the heavenly king withdrew his guard from the mouth of the cave and greeted Monkey with the words, Now I can meet your master.

Many thanks, said Monkey, many thanks, and he led Sanzang to bow in gratitude to the heavenly king and the prince.

Friar Sand and Pig were all for chopping the senior devil into tiny pieces, but the heavenly king said, She was arrested at the Jade Emperor's command, and must not be mistreated. We must go to report back on our mission.

The heavenly king and Prince Nezha at the head of their heavenly troops and divine officers escorted the evil spirit as a prisoner to report to the heavenly court and receive the emperor's verdict on her. Meanwhile Brother Monkey guarded the Tang Priest while Friar Sand collected the luggage and Pig went over to the horse and invited the master to ride. Then they all set out along their way again. Indeed:

The silken net had been cut, the golden sea dried up,

The precious lock undone, and troubles left behind.

If you do not know what lay in store for them on their way ahead listen to the explanation in the next installment.

Chapter 82 | Journey to the West (vol. 3) | Chapter 84