Peach Blossom Girl Magic Duel – Chapter 1


23 November 2010
 
Copyright © 2010 – Jeff Loh. All rights reserved
 
On Mount Wandering Demons, the Buddhist Monk Blade transforms.
A Virtuous Gentleman Hides in Morning Song1 to become a fortune-teller.
 
 
It was said that during the time of the Three Sovereigns 2, there was a kingdom north of Luzhou, called Complete Bliss. The king had a virtuous wife who was pregnant for fourteen months. Finally she gave birth to a prince who was the incarnation of the deity in charge of spring, the Azure Emperor. After he had grown up, he abandoned his kingdom and sought cultivation in Taoism before attaining immortality. In the Upper Region 3 he is known as the Holy-In-Charge of the Arctic Jade Hub. In the Middle Region he is the Most Holy of Mount Wandering Demons and in the Lower region, he is the Lord of the Dark Heavens.
 
Once, while practising immortality on a snow-capped mountain, he gutted himself with a Buddhist Monk blade to cleanse his intestines. As he became unconscious, the knife fell away. After reviving, he forgot to retrieve it. It was not until when he was back in the Cave of Primordial Darkness that during his training that he realized the loss and kept the scabbard as the Cave Defending Treasure. The blade and scabbard are true treasures and after a hundred years or so they were transformed into spirits after receiving vitalities from the sun and moon. The blade took the form of a male and the scabbard a female.
 
The Blade continued its unorthodox transformation in Mount Wandering Demons while the scabbard continued her training in the Cave of Primordial Darkness. Yet another few centuries had passed before the Scabbard was summoned by the Queen Mother of Western Paradise to take charge of her peach garden. She was given the name, “Peach Blossom Fairy”. However the Blade did not attain enlightenment from the orthodox path and was furious. With other demons on the mountain, he caused troubles like belching out fire to rival the light of the sun and moon. At other times, he would summon clouds to make rain 4, thus angering heaven. Soon divine soldiers were dispatched. The Blade was captured and bound at the Demon Execution Terrace. Luckily for him, Lao Tzu, founder of Taoism took pity on his thousand-year hardship in attaining spirituality and pleaded for his case. He took the Blade back to his Tushita 5 Palace and appointed it as the Keeper of the Divination Box. One day the Blade peeped into the Secret Formulae of the North Star and descended to earth secretly.
 
The true spirit of the Blade did not diminish and headed straight towards a noble family. This happened during the time of the Shang Dynasty. Chou Heng was a minister to the Court and had a wife named Feng. Heng became a father when he was over the age of fifty. The wife dreamt that the room was filled with blinding brilliance and when she woke up, a son was born unto her. He was given the name of Kan whose face was black as the bottom of a pot and had brows shaped like a pair of swords. Even as a child, there was a divine aura around him. At the age of seven, while playing in the backyard a heavenly mystic descended and gave him a celestial book. Because of his background, he was able to understand the contents at a glance; thus enabling him to discern events of the past and future, to call upon the gods and immortals alike; and to be able to soar and ride the clouds. When he reached the age of thirty, his parents died and he inherited his father’s position in the Court. From then, he was known as Lord Chou; an upright and well-respected person in the Court. However the Shang ruler was not virtuous. Each time he remonstrated to his Lord, his advice went unheeded and he finally became disheartened.

One day after the Court audience had ended, he thought to himself,

“I could neither make my liege see the light of his errors nor am I able to sacrifice my life for the sake of the country. I am no different from the vulgar masses. Why don’t I just leave my post, find a quiet place somewhere in Morning Song and live in seclusion? I can become a diviner to help people, to become a master in the field of divination and dissecting the mystery of the Eight Trigrams. Although I am unable to help my country and its populace, at least this way, I would be able to leave my footprint through the millennia. Isn’t this a wonderful idea?”

With that thought in mind, he quickly wrote his letter of resignation in the night and presented his intent to the king at dawn. Due to his frequent remonstrations, the Shang ruler was not fond of him but was immensely elated upon hearing the news of his retirement. The petition was granted immediately. After his Court audience Chou Kan quickly went home, gathered a few items of clothing, locked up the mansion and led his retainers to a secluded place in Morning Song. He felt at ease with his newly found leisure life of no restrictions. The poem stated:

In becoming officials it is natural to make this world a better place,
But in hermitage, I know the secrets of heaven.
Clouds accompanying the mountains where there’s no danger,
Unlike before, worries I had to endure day and night 6.

After ten days of leisure and carefree living, he called upon his old steward named Chien Peng Jian, an old family retainer who came to live in seclusion with his master. He was an honest person who never took advantage of anyone. Whether in asking him to draw water from the well or to plant vegetables, he is never unwilling. On hearing his master’s beckoning, he hurried into the main hall and asked,

“Milord, what need do you have of old Peng Jian?”

“I am not capable in serving the country and its people well. Therefore I left my post to live in seclusion. I have decided in seeking another venue in life to fulfill the teachings of my ancestors and be someone of renowned ability. I shall establish my business here and you can help by opening another door on the left side of the main entrance to the house. Take three bars from the side room and erect it outside, clean the place and place a seat there. Do this immediately.”

Peng Jian laughed out loud when he heard the words,

“Milord, I Peng Jian, never in my life have I seen nobility set up shop to do any buying and selling.”

“I’m not doing any commerce at all!” smiled Chou.

“I am going into divination and fortune-telling to enlighten the befuddled so that they won’t commit crimes. At the same time, I dislike having too many people disturb my peace. I have a way – to charge a tael of silver for each session. After the charges have been paid you shall lead the inquirer to me and I shall begin my divination. However, only ten people a day I shall see and 3 pennies you may take as gratuity for leading them to me. What say you?”

Peng Jian was silent when he heard the words but kept smiling with a lowered head.

“Why do you not utter a single word?”

Peng Jian laughed out loud,

“It is not Peng Jian who is not answering you milord. You are just under one person but above thousands of others, why are you demeaning yourself in this way? For one, it is beneath your station to do so, secondly, I’m afraid you may be accused of bewitching the masses and thirdly people may not want to come to have their fortunes told as your charges are too high. Why all this fuss?”

“You know not my true intent. How would my dignity suffer by divulging the secrets of heaven? How enlightening and persuading the befuddled be construed as bewitching the masses? Worry not my divination capability. I tell you people will come knocking down the door to see me. Go quickly and do as you are told.”

Pang Jian had no choice but to hire some carpenters. After a few days, when everything was done he reported to Lord Chou,

“The divining enterprise is completed”.

Then Pang Jian smiled and continued,

“Milord, since you insisted upon one tael of silver as fee, everything would be fine if your predictions come true but what happens if they do not? Won’t you become the laughing-stock? People will bad mouth you for using divination as a ruse to cheat people out of their money.”

Lord Chou laughed out loud and said,

“I am a reasonable person. If my predictions are not accurate, then ten times the amount paid will be refunded!”

“This is impermissible! If milord refunds the amount ten fold, then my gratuity of 3 pennies will be also ten fold. I cannot afford it. Surely you jest.”

Laughing out loud again, Lord Chou said,

“You have no idea know how good my predictions are. If a refund is to be made, I shall pay for you as well. Now what do you think about that!”

Pang Jian was delighted on hearing those words and kowtowed before his lord. A large bamboo slip was ordered to be brought before him and Lord Chou wrote the following four words,

“Amazing Eight Trigram Divination” 7
And on the left side, a column of smaller words,

“All predictions for death and fortunes both good and bad”.

And on the right was written, “One tael of silver for divination, three pennies gratuity to my servant as go between.”

Then on another large bamboo slip,

“Divination will be limited to ten each morning. Absolutely no inquirer after midday. If predictions proved inaccurate, a refund of ten taels of silver and thirty pennies!

After writing, he commanded Peng Jian to sit at the cross-section of the main road to wait for customers. With such a move, the entire city of Morning Song was rocked with gossip; spreading like wild fires as one person informed ten and from ten into a hundred. Everyone on the street was saying,

“Strange, this is really strange. Never before had a nobleman parted their grand career for such measly divination business. Regardless if his predictions are accurate or not, it’s too much to shell out that one tael of silver!”

As no one would part their one tael of silver, none knew if any prediction is accurate. All day long Lord Chou sat serenely and smartly dressed in his cap and gown. No servant was in attendance except for a stick of burning incense. Three days gone by and nary a soul had come to have his fortunes told. Yet always a crowd of onlookers gossiping nearby. Then one local gentry landlord remarked,

“This Lord really knows how to jest; I’ll show him that I too can jest! I shall shed my one tael of silver and three pennies and see how good he is.”

Yet another, a soldier thought to himself,

“Yesterday, I came across some money and I haven’t decided what to do with it. I shall have my fortune told instead!”

So they entered the premise. As Lord Chou is from the nobility, they dared not make him wait by having small talk with Peng Jian but handed the money quickly over to him who was smiling gleefully,

“How interesting… Today’s the propitious start of business!”

And with that, he laid the taels of silver in front of Lord Chou and explained the situation to him. Lord Chou then bade him to let one of inquirers enter. On seeing the landlord, Lord Chou said,

“Need not stand on ceremony nor explain anything to me. Just a silent prayer on the side will do.”

With those words, the landlord stood aside and prayed silently. Looking at the man, Lord Chou said,

“I understand your problem fully. Just because your servant has a beautiful wife, you wanted to break up their marriage and bade him marry another. The husband is unwilling and so now you wanted to harm him. Am I not correct? I’m afraid that you would not succeed but you get yourself killed first!”

This landlord was dumbfounded when his inner thoughts were exposed. His face was ashen into the color of mud. Immediately he knelt down on both his knees and pleaded,

“My Lord, this nobody did indeed harbor such intentions. I beg your Lordship point a way out for me to escape this calamity!”

Lord Chou nodded his head and said,

“Since you repented, there is a way out. Had you not seen me today, you will be dead tomorrow!”

Lord Chou then wrote a few lines of words on a piece of paper, handed it over to the landlord and spoke,

“This is your problem…”

The landlord took the paper and looked at the words…

What did Lord Chou write? How he is going to save the landlord? Please read the next chapter.

NOTES:

1. Chaoge (朝歌) Capital of the Shang Dynasty. It may also means “facing the song” i.e. embracing a song.

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Sovereigns_and_Five_Emperors

3. In Taoism, the Three Regions (三界) are

    The Limitless Region (無極 region of no senses, upper)
    The Ultimate Region (太極region of senses, middle)
    The Present Region (現世region of needs, lower) 

In Taoist philosophy these regions are located in the human body. If one can refine (smelt) away essence away (煉精), one can leave the region of needs; refining away Prana (煉) one can escape away from the region of senses and refining away the spirit, one will leave the region of no sense. In popular stories, they are actual regions.

4. Ancient China is an agricultural society and therefore rains are of utmost concern. Therefore they are regulated by edicts from the Jade Emperor. Any unauthorized scheduling is considered as a crime against heaven.

5. 兜率 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tushita

6. 人道為官舉世奇,
    我知隱性有天機。
    雲山相伴無驚恐,
    不似勞心日夜時。 

The poem compares his present and former life. Even though he is a minister of the court and can make the world a better place but it is all but an illusion. Day and night he has the burden of the court affairs and the weight of the world bearing down on him. These are the least of his worries  for one loses his life easily under an unjust ruler. Carefree and living in harmony with nature is the secret to a better life.

7. The four characters are卦理通神. Of course translating these four characters will not result in four English words. The phrase literally means “Eight Trigrams divination principles connected to gods”.

Original text

桃花女陰陽鬪傳/第一回 

蕩魔山戒刀成形 
隐朝歌賢士賣卜

話說三皇之世,北俱蘆洲有個净樂國王,娶妻善勝夫人,懷胎一十四月,生下一位世子,乃是蒼帝化身。後來長大成人,棄國修道,成了正果——在上天為玉樞掌教北極天尊;在中為蕩魔無上上聖;在下為真武玄天上帝。曾在雪山修道,用戒刀剖腹洗腸,昏迷過去,把戒刀棄了。及至仙人度活時,忘收回戒刀。後至元玄洞修真,見戒刀已失,便將刀鞘留在元玄洞内,為鎮國之寶。這戒刀與刀鞘俱是蒼帝賜與大帝的,乃如意真寶,整整受了百年的日精月華,方才變化成形。戒刀修成了一個陽体,刀鞘修成了一個陰体。那戒刀潛詔蕩魔山中修真,刀鞘就在元玄洞内養性。又至數百余年,西池王母便刀鞘上天,管理桃園,賜名桃花仙子。那戒刀未成正果,心懷不憤,随在蕩魔山興妖作怪。有時吐焰與日月争光,有時無故興雲作雨,致于天怒,便差天兵天將下凡,把戒刀擒上金闕,在斬妖台上處斬。多虧得道教的鼻祖太上老君,見他苦修了几千年,便在金闕討情,帶了他到兜率宫中,做了一個看卦盒的童子。他便偷看了《天罡正訣》,私自下凡。

真靈不昧,一直竟投往商朝一家諸侯,姓周名卿,官拜上大夫之職,娶妻風氏。于五十岁上始生一子。未生之时,夫人夢見火光满室,耀人眼目,醒來時,就生了一位世子,起了名,唤叫周乾。只生得臉如鍋底,两道劍眉,自幼便有神光。及至七歲時,在花園内玩耍,從天降下一個異人,賜他一部天書。因他素有夙根,一目了然,便能知过去未來、請神召仙、駕雾騰雲之事。到了三十歲之上,周大夫夫妻亡故,周乾袭了父職,天下人都叫他做周公,在朝耿耿,百僚無不敬服。因見商王無道,屢屢上諫表,無奈商王不纳,致使心中悶悶不樂。這日朝罷無事,獨坐府中,心中暗想道:“我既不能匡君于正,又不能舍身为國,豈可同俗人一輩?我何不趁此告职,隐居在这朝歌,尋一個僻静之處。開一卜市引導世人?作一個講先天的班頭,剖八卦之领袖,雖不能為國為民,亦可流名萬載,豈不是好?”主意已定,是晚灯下修好了告退的本章。五更上朝,随出班面奏,把本章皇上。商王正厭他直諫,今見他告職去任,满心歡喜,就准了他的本章。  周乾忙辭駕回府,收拾細軟之物,把府門鎖了,帶了家眷,往朝歌一個僻静清雅的屋住下,到覺得遣遥自在,無拘無束。有詩為證,詩曰:

人道為官舉世奇,
 我知隱性有天機。
雲山相伴無驚恐,
不似勞心日夜時。  

那周公清閑了十來日,便叫過了一個老宰臣來吩咐。這老宰臣姓籛名彭剪,曾作過老大夫的家臣,為人誠實無欺,及跟周公來任上隱居,就叫他去汲水種蔬,他也情願。聞得周公叫他,便忙上前到大廳聲諾,道:“公爺,叫彭剪何事使唤?”周公道:“孤自棄職隱居于此,原是不能為國為民,以承祖宗之遺訓,意欲另開生面,作個立異的奇人。如今欲在此處作一事業,汝可與孤在前門左側另开一門,將偏房間三攔断在外,打掃潔静,陳設一張座頭。速速辦好方妙!”彭剪聞言笑道:“公爺,我彭剪從未曾見過公卿大夫作起肄业業買賣來。”周公也笑道:“孤不是作買賣肄業,今欲開一卜市,指點愚人,使彼等不敢為匪作歹的意思。但又只怕人多攪擾,想起一個法兒來了——如今每卦要卦資銀一两,先要銀子交與你,然後帶進來見孤,方才起課。一日止多十課,多則不占。若有人來時,先要給你銀三分,以為傳递酬酢之资。你道如何?”彭剪聞言,在旁并不答言,只管低頭見笑。周公道:“你因何不答一言?”彭剪笑道:“非是彭剪不答,只因國公乃是一個一人之下,万人之上的人,何苦作起这下流事來?一來有失貴体,二來恐生惑眾之心,三來占卦之人不敢上門。况且卦資太重,何必虛設此一番舉動?”周公道:“你不知孤意。詳演先天,何為失体?勸解愚人,何為惑眾?只怕卦儿不靈,若果是應,只怕踏破門呢。你不必管孤,快去行事!”

彭剪無奈,只得去叫匠人來動工修整。那消幾日,早已色色完備,便來回覆周公道:“卜市修好了。”随笑道:“公爺卦资虽要白銀—两,如靈呢,自然是要的,如不靈呢,豈不被人笑話?說公爺不好,对百姓要銀子,說個法兒來哄騙他們。”周公笑道:“孤自有道理——如不靈時,孤願賠回十倍!”彭剪聞言連道:“使不得!公爺賠得起十倍,彭剪得的三分,就難賠十倍。公爺休要捉弄我罷!”周公笑道:“你也不知孤的八卦能通神明。断無絲毫判情。如今你的也是孤賠,還如何?”彭剪聞言大喜,忙叩了一個頭,站將起來。周公就叫取了一片大竹板來,亲提笔在手,寫了“卦理通神”四個字,左邊寫行小字道:“预定生死吉凶”,右邊寫行小字道:“卦資銀一两,傳命代步銀三分”。又取一块大竹板寫道:“若有問卜者,清晨到此,指点吉凶。每日限占十卦,過午不占。如不靈應,受罸銀十两三錢!” 寫完,命彭剪一人在十字口大街上坐着,好等卜卦的人來。
這一舉一動就轟動了眾朝歌百姓,你言我語,一個傳十,十個傳百,满街满巷俱說:“奇事,從未見過作公爺的人把偌大的前程棄了,來作占卦的營生。俱不知靈不靈,竟要一两銀子多!”有想來試試,只因卦資過高,不免俱各袖手。
那周公終日俱在,穿得衣冠齐整的,在卜市中間座位上坐着,一個從者俱不用,止焚一爐好香,净净的清坐。彭剪自然是一個人坐在大門内。一連坐了两三日,并無一個人來占卦,止圍着無數的閑人,在那里乱講。内有一個土豪道:“這一位公爺也會玩耍,我小可却也会取笑。我舍着一两三分銀子,與他試試罷了。”又有一個軍漢道:“我昨日有一股財帛,却忘了一件事情,難以决断。我也去算一算!” 這二人就是先後進去了。只因國公是個有爵位的人,誰敢與他對坐閑談?故此不待人說,就將一两三分銀子交與彭剪。彭剪接了銀子,心中暗笑道:“有趣,今日發利市了!”随將一两銀子放在周公面前座位上。禀明了周公。周公便叫他先領了一個進來。那土豪先就跟了進來。周公道:“你不须行礼,也不用禀明何事,只在旁暗暗祷告便了。”土豪聞言,就立旁邊暗祝了一遍。周公看了一回,道:“你的心事,孤已明白了。只因你家下人的妻子貌美,你要拆散他夫妻,叫他丈夫另娶,他丈夫不從,你今想将他丈夫害死,是也不是?孤只怕你害人不死,先害死自己!”土豪聽周公道出他的私心,直唬得目定口呆,面如土色,忙双膝跪下,道:“公爺!小人果有此事。求公爺指明条路,小人好去趋吉避凶!”周公聞言点頭道:你既有悔心,自有生路。若不遇孤,你明日决死无生了!” 說罷,取了一張紙來,寫上幾行,递过與土豪,道:“這是你的心事——。”土豪接來一看,未知周公寫的什么,怎生指点,救得土豪如何,

且看下回分解。

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