Peach Blossom Girl Dueling Magic – Chapter 9


Monday, September 20, 2010
  
Copyright © 2010 – Jeff Loh. All rights reserved
 
 
 
While saving himself, Pang Jian gains longevity,
Lord Chou seething in anger as his prediction was broken.
 
The poem says,

I dwell amongst the green hills: You asked me why,
My soul at ease I smile without reply.
Peach petals swept along the stream,
To other lands beyond this mortal dream1.

Let’s talk about Pang Jian who was hiding under the offerings table when he heard his name called followed by the pronouncement,

“On this night at the fourth watch, vomit blood and die”,

He was greatly shaken and kept on muttering the incantation of the Golden Light while striking at the golden knot. Then he heard the Star Lord of Virtuous Fire shout,

“Who dares use this incantation to subdue us?”

With that, Pang Jian popped his head out of the offering table and peered. He saw nine Gods in strange forms sitting in two rows, too bewildering to behold. Quickly he knelt in their midst incanting incessantly and beating the golden knot. Then one Star Lord spoke,

“Pang Jian! Stop thy incantation! Mutter no more! Requesting a boon for longevity? Then plead with the fifth Star Lord.”

The fifth Star Lord spoke,

“We had accepted his offerings and also he is a loyal and honest person. Nary a sin had been committed in his name. Furthermore he was under the guidance of the Peach Fairy to vanquish that wandering demon2. We the Gods shall change his name and extend his longevity. This way let the virtuous beget their rewards!”

“Pang Jian! Come forth and kneel. We the Gods shall now change thy name: Henceforth ye shall be known as Patriarch Pang3. I shall now grant ye a hundred years of age. The Left and Right Adjutants4 shall grant ye fifty years and each Star Lord shall grant ye one hundred years, totaling 850 years! Every third and twenty seventh day of each month, ye shall undergo a bathing purification ritual and abstain from all meat. Finally ye must perform the rites to the Big Dipper in an earnest and deferential manner. Divulge not this celestial secret or else be prepared to incur the wrath of Heaven and bring disaster upon thee!”

Pang Jian kowtowed and said,

“This mortal Pang Jian most thankfully accepts my Lords’ graciousness in changing my name and prolonging my longevity. However this mortal thinks that living to such a great age is burdensome without good fortune or children to enjoy. Therefore I beg my most High Lords to bestow some riches so that I can live comfortably!”

All the Gods murmured and said,

“There is merit in thy words.”

One of the Star Lords took out a pill from his bosom and bade Pang Jiang to swallow it and said,

“This pill will change thy bones and transform thy body. Sickness will no longer touch thee so that ye can enjoy the meaning of the three words of happiness, prosperity and longevity!”

Then a second Star Lord took out a book and what was written in it no one knows. When he was done, all the Star Lords turned into a gentle breeze and left the temple. Pang Jian felt invigorated a hundred fold and was elated to no bounds. My dear readers, now this is what it is like to live more than eight hundred years: wedded to thirteen wives, enjoying great happiness and longevity in good health. This is really:

Mortals not eating the golden pill,
Difficult it is to live to a hundred.
 
At this time, the fourth watch approached and Pang Jian thought to himself,
“Miss Ren had instructed me that when things are accomplished, I should return home and rest. Her intention was that if I stayed out all night, Lord Chou will surmise that I had not died and he will get suspicious. He will interrogate me until the water subsides to reveal the rocks. Why don’t I just obey her advice and return home quickly.”
 
With that thought, Pang Jian quickly roused up the acolytes to open the temple doors and quickly ran home. Opening the doors secretly, he slipped into his room, jumped right into bed and slept. Now speaking of Lord Chou, he was sitting alone throughout the night till the fifth watch. Thinking that Pang Jian had died, he took out his celestial Big Dipper Star sword5 in hand and woke up a boy servant to bring a light. Then he entered Pang Jian’s room, pushing the door open and walk straight to Pang Jian’s bed. Lord Chou saw no movement in Pang Jian’s limbs; face turned upwards and both eyes tightly shut. Assuming that he was already a goner, Lord Chou let out a sorrowful sigh and lamented,

“Pity! Always so loyal and honest. Now gone like a whisper!”

Lord Chou removed his golden cap, disheveled his hair6, held his sword in a Big Dipper stance and began to recite an incantation. Just as he was about to hook together Pang Jian’s three six superior and inferior souls so that they could be easily directed to a better place of reincarnation, Pang Jian woke up. On opening his eyes he stared in astonishment at Lord Chou who was now holding a sword in hand, his long hair in disarray, muttering a strange incantation in an imposing stance. In a whoosh Pang Jian jumped out of bed. Lord Chou was startled, wielding the sword menacingly and shouted,

“Malicious demon7-1! Cease all trouble-making on the urgent orders of Lao Tzu!”

Pang Jian burst out laughing,

“Milord, what are you doing?”

The great Lord recomposed himself and exclaimed,

“Pang Jian! Art thou a man or a ghost?”

“I’m a man. I’m not dead. How can I be a ghost?”

Lord Chou bade the servant boy bring the light higher for a closer inspection and commented,

“This is strange! Really strange! Who taught you how to return to life? Quickly speak up!”

“Not ought to die yet, still a few more years for me to go. Why did my Lord come here in such rush? Are you getting your satisfaction to see me dead?”
On hearing such words, Lord Chou darkened in anger and said to himself,

“How dare this slave mislead and try to deceive me! I shall coax him to my study and start the interrogation. I must find out who is behind all this in breaking my predictions!”

“Come with me to the study!”

At this moment, Pang Jian dared not disobey and followed Lord Chou thinking to himself,

“He will interrogate me to no end. Even if I die, I will not utter the name of Miss Ren!”

On entering the study, Lord Chou sat down. He then tidied up his head knot and cap, put down his Big Dipper sword, and ordered the servant boy,

“Bring a few men here!”

Not long afterwards, a few men entered the study to whom Lord Chou commanded,

“Tie Pang Jian up!

The men dared not disobey and quickly bound Pang Jian in ropes.

Pang Jian screamed,

“Pang Jian is innocent!”

Lord Chou stared at Pang Jian in anger and thundered,

“Dare to deceive your Lord and Master! Isn’t this already a crime? Confess quickly who the schemer is in saving your life. If not I shall skin you alive!”

Pang Jian quickly knelt down and pled,

“Pang Jian is a stupid person. What power do I have? Tonight I was a waiting for my death and I fell asleep. How did I know when not to die?”

Lord Chou did not wait for Pang Jian to finish his words and gave a great shout,

“Pooi! Mouthful of nonsense! If I don’t thrash you, the truth will never come out. Men from the left and right! Give him a hundred strokes first!”
 
Following their Lord’s command, two servants went out and brought in two leather whips and started to give Pang Jian a hundred lashes. Pang Jiang cried out in pain as he collapsed to the ground. Since most of the servants were from the courthouse, favouritism was not expected. Yet most of them got along quite well with Pang Jian. Who would really want to lash him that mercilessly? In actuality only twenty to thirty lashes were given instead of the ordered hundred lashes. Therefore Pang Jian did not suffer too much under them. He cried out,

“Milord! You beat Pang Jian unfairly! Your predictions came out wrong – why blame others?”

Lord Chou angrily replied,
 
“Ordinarily an honest person you are and yet today you dare lie to me! I shall further increase your punishment. Left and Right, bind him in the waist and hang him up in the eaves of the corridor!”
 
Pang Jian, though in pain, would not betray Peach Blossom out of gratitude for saving his life. He remembered how she had earnestly urged him to keep her identity secret. Therefore he endured the pain.
 
Lord Chou walked to the steps and advised,
 
“Better speak the truth – not only will I not punish you any further but Instead shall reward you handsomely. I see your face emanating with such ruddy light of health. Your longevity must have been lengthened. Someone must have taught you how to exchange your bones and transform your flesh. Speak up and give me all the details!”
 
When Pang Jian heard his words, he was frightened to the core,
 
“How formidable! Not only are his predictions deadly accurate, so are his skills in physiognomy. Today I shall refuse to confess and see how he is going to cross-examine me.”
 
With that in mind, Pang Jian shut his eyes tightly and closed his mouth into a line. When Lord Chou saw this, he flew into a rage and dragged the body into the main hall. With the Big Dipper sword in hand, he leapt towards Pang Jian and bellowed,

“Pang Jian, if you don’t confess, then you’ll be committing the crime of lying to your master!”

When he finished threatening, Lord Chou came bearing down his sword in menacing ferocity and was about to cut Pang Jian into two. On opening his eyes widely Pang Jian was so frightened that all his souls almost left his body and he shrieked,

“Milord, spare my life! I confess.”

Lord Chou replied venomously,

“Hesitate any longer and you shall be cut into two!

Pang Jian blurted quickly,

“It’s Shi Tsung Fu’s neighbour! Miss Ren Peach Blossom, daughter of Ren Tai Kung! She instructed me to go to the Temple of Three Officials last night on the third watch and wait for the Gods of the Big Dipper to beg for longevity. Hence I was able to survive and live. ”

On hearing the confession, Lord Chou ordered Pang Jian untied,

“Pang Jian! Why didn’t you say so earlier?”

Pang Jian apologized7,

“Lady Peach Blossom told me numerous times not to disclose her identify for the fear that my Lordship would become enraged and be vengeful. Shi Tsung Fu was also saved by her.”

Lord Chou bellowed and thundered on hearing the words,

“Vile woman, I can overlook you invalidating my predictions but how dare you bid both mother and son to insult me! I swear I will never let you go!”

Pang Jian quickly kowtowed to Lord Chou and pleaded,

“Milord please harbour not such trivial vengeance! If you do, Pang Jian will be dragged in as well. Milord! Please have pity on those two aged ones who have only one young daughter.”

Lord Chou asked,

“How old is this female?”

“Only sixteen, came Pang Jian’s reply.

Peach Blossom descended to earth not long after Lord Chou so how could their ages differ so much? An astute reader may ask. Here’s the author’s explanation: An hour in heaven is equivalent to a few autumns on earth. Lord Chou’s descent to earth is at most one or two hours earlier, hence resulting in a difference of a few decades. Let’s not discuss this but return to Lord Chou. After the truth was extracted from Pang Jian, Lord Chou rewarded him with ten taels of silver to heal his wounds. Pang Jian thanked his lord who then admonished,

“Do not go informing the Ren family of this. If I ever find out that you have, your punishment will be even more severe!”

Pang Jian nodded in promise and replied,

“I dare not, I dare not!”

With that he left the room and headed back to his own.

Lord Chou thought to himself,

“Such tender age and with such great powers this Ren Peach Blossom has. I don’t believe this. Why don’t I verify if indeed the Star Lords of the Big Dipper descended last night?”

On pressing his fingers in calculation, fear grew in his heart upon verification,

“Wow! This Peach Blossom’s abilities are indeed great. If the city of Morning Song has her, I’m afraid there’s no place for me to stand.”

Thinking here and there, Lord Chou became moody. He paced up and down in his pavilion and suddenly thought of something,

“Why don’t I do this and this… Only then will this hatred dissipate from my mind!”

With such a plan hatched, he called a servant named Hsu Cheng and instructed him,

“Go and fetch me an official matchmaker.”

Hsu Cheng followed his master’s orders and went to get the matchmaker.

What dastardly plan was formed to harm Peach Blossom? Please read the next chapter to find out.

NOTES:

1. This poem was composed by the great T’ang poet Li Po entitled, “Question and Answer In the Mountains”.

The translation is not mine and I do not remember where it came from. However it is so beautiful that I jotted it down during a flight to Los Angeles eons ago.

The unadulterated translation is:

You asked why I dwell in the green hills,
I smile without reply as my heart is at ease.
Peach blossoms sailed quietly on flowing waters,
To another land not of this mortal realm.

There are some discrepancies presented in the book.

山中問答 (Question and Answer in the Mountains)

Book version                Original version

問餘何事棲碧山, 問餘何意棲碧山,
笑而不答心自開。 笑而不答心自閑。
桃花流水杳然去,  桃花流水窅然去,
別有天地非人間。 別有天地非人間。

餘 is a variant form of 余 meaning I.

http://zhidao.baidu.com/question/27052985.html?si=3

2. Referring to Lord Chou’s earlier days as in the form of a Buddhist knife on Mt. Wandering Demons.

3. Patriarch Pang is a well known figure of immense longevity in Chinese tales. However most sources about him differ from this story. Whatever is the case, it has no bearing on the story. Some sources claimed that he did not really live that long of 850 years because during the Shang Dynasty, when the story took place, a year meant a cycle of 60 days. So therefore he lived for 850 cycles, just short of 140 years in a 365-day year reckoning (850 * 60) / 365 which seems more plausible.

For more info see,

http://baike.baidu.com/view/18236.htm

4. 左輔右弼 – Left and Right adjutants, originally the name of attendants to the emperor or to the crown prince. Later it became assistants to someone important or just helpers.

In the Chinese Parthenon of Gods, they are two of the 6 lucky stars and are the attendants to the Star Lord of the Big Dipper. In the Yin-Yang Five Element theory of Taoists, Left Adjutant belongs to the Yin-Earth position whereas the Right Adjutant belongs to the Yin-Water. For more info see

http://tw.myblog.yahoo.com/jw!0wi2dLObQkUiv2b13vk-/article?mid=620&sc=1

5. Also known as Seven Star Sword (七星劍). Most probably a sword with the pattern of the Big Dipper etched on the blade.

6. Chinese males wear their hair long. The hair is then tied up as a head knot. A cap is worn if one belongs to the scholar class. Otherwise a piece of cloth may be used as a tying knot. A Taoist priest uses a kind of large pin. Of course Buddhists monks don’t have hair. The shaven head was a sign of leaving one’s family and all its worldly desires.

In the Confucian classic of Filial Piety, it states that “The body, skin and hair come from parents, filial piety begins in not harming them.” 孝經: “身體髮膚,受之父母,不敢毀傷,孝之始也. In other words don’t cut your hair! Or defile yourself.

This style continued until the Ch’ing Dynasty forced the Chinese to shave their foreheads and grow a queue as a sign of subservience. The exception to the law was with Taoist priests. The Manchus wore this hairstyle as a sign of respect and honour of the horse (the way they tie their horses’ tails) on which their backs the empire was won. In the beginning of the dynasty there was a popular saying, “Leave the hair but not the head” (留髮不留頭) as defiance to the Manchu government but when the dynasty ended, it was ironic that people refused to cut their queues!

However, shaving beards, moustaches, etc was not considered unfilial because one was not born with them – facial hair grew at puberty.

7-1. See footnote 1 in chapter 7

7. The subordinate must apologize to their superiors regardless if they were at fault or not. Superiors are never wrong and subordinates should be grateful and thankful for the lesson learnt. This is the core of Confucianism – the relationship between the superior and inferior. This is defined as the relationship between the king and its subjects, the father and his children, and the master and his slaves.

Original Text

桃花女陰陽鬥傳/第九回

求搭救彭剪添壽
憤破卦周乾生嗔

詩曰:

問餘何事棲碧山,
笑而不答心自閒。
桃花流水窅然去,
別有天地非人間。

再說彭剪在供桌底下聽見一神叫他名字,又言“此夜四更應注吐血而亡”,唬得大驚,口中急急念咒,敲著金系子,又聞火德星君道:“誰敢用法咒來克吾等?”彭剪在桌底下鑽出頭來一看,只見兩旁坐著九位神聖,皆是奇形異狀,兇惡駭人。他即速忙跪在當中,口中不住的念咒,手中不住的敲金系子。只見第一星君開言呼:“彭剪!快住了響器,口中勿得念咒!你今想求壽麼?可向第五位星君面前去求。”只見第五位星君道:“吾等既受他的供享,況他為人忠厚,生平無惡果,又是桃園仙子教他求救的,要破蕩魔之數,吾神今把他名字改了,與他增壽,也見得善有善報!”便呼:“彭剪!你跪過來。吾神與你改過名字:從此以後,改名叫做彭祖。吾神賜你陽壽一百歲,左輔,右弼星君賜你陽壽五十歲,每位星君賜你一百歲,共賜你八百五十歲!每逢初三、廿七,須要齋戒沐浴,虔心禮斗,不可洩漏天機,以遭天譴! ”彭剪叩頭道:“凡夫彭剪既蒙上聖賜名添壽,但凡夫想活這個大年紀,若無祿無子,反是受罪也。求上聖賜些富貴,得養其終身方妙!”眾星君道:“這也說得是。”只見一位星君在懷中取出一粒丹藥來,教彭剪吞了,道:“此丹藥能換骨脫胎,百病不生,好享那福祿壽三字矣!”又見二位上聖各取出一本簿子,不知神聖們怎樣寫法,寫罷,化陣清風而去。彭剪此時覺得精神百倍,當時滿心喜悅。列君,如今這個就是活在人間八百多歲、娶一十三妻的彭祖——享大福壽之人也!正是:

凡人未服金丹藥,

想活百歲也艱難。

此夜已交四鼓了,彭剪想道:“任小姐教我事完之後,仍舊回府中歇宿。我知他的意思,恐怕周公爺見我今夜不死,又在外一夜,心中定然生疑,必要問個水落石出。我何不依任小姐的話,趕回府中去罷。”想罷,便叫醒了廟祝,開了廟門,奔回府中,暗暗的叫開了大門,入自己房中,倒身便睡。再講周乾是夜獨坐至五更,以為彭剪死了,忙取天罡劍,喚醒小童提了燈火,親自來至彭剪的房中。推開了房門,走到彭剪床前。只見他四肢不動,仰面朝天。雙睛微閉,只當他死了,由不得哀嘆連聲道:“可憐平生忠厚,今日竟成烏有!”忙把金冠摘下,打散頭髮,仗劍步鬥,口中念咒,要想勾住彭剪的三魂六魄,不至散亂,然後想用法超化他,投生個好處。

不想彭剪一覺醒來,睜眼一看,見周公披髮仗劍,在那裡踏斗念咒,一咕嚕翻身站了起來,把個周公吃了一跳。仗劍厲聲喝道:“強鬼休得作祟!吾奉太上老君急急如律令敕!”彭剪此時由不得笑將起來,道:“公爺,你作什麼法?”國公聞言,定了元神道:“彭剪!你是人還是鬼?”彭剪道:“我是人,並不曾死。怎麼是鬼?”周公便叫小童提燈照著了,細細看道:“奇怪奇怪!誰教你的良方得命回生?快快說來!”彭剪道:“該死不死,再活幾年。何故國公倒著急起來?難道一定要我死方才遂心?”周公聞言心中不悅,怒而暗想:“這奴才尚敢吱唔誆我!且哄他到書房裡去,再細細審問,定要追出是個什麼人教他的方法破孤的八卦!”想罷,喚彭剪:“跟我到書房去!”當時,彭剪不敢違背,只得隨著周公走,心裡想道:“他必要問我根由。我縱死,也不說出是任小姐的名字來!”

不覺已到了書房。周公當中坐下,理好了髮髻上冠,放下了天罡劍,便叫小童:“去叫幾個人進來!”不多時,就進來了幾個家人。周公喝聲道:“與孤把彭剪捆綁起來!”眾家人不敢不動手,忙取繩索來,把彭剪捆將起來。彭剪喊道:“彭剪無罪!”周公大怒,目視彭剪道:“你欺瞞我,焉得無罪?你快快說出何人設法救你便罷,若不說出,孤就要活活處死你!”彭剪聞言,連忙跪下道:“彭剪是個愚人,有什麼法力?晚間時候,打定待死的,不料倒睡了一夜,又不知怎的不曾死?”周公不待說完,一聲大喝:“啐!滿口胡言!不打你,不說出真話。左右,與孤先抽他一百!”就有兩個家人走去拿了兩條皮鞭,走至彭剪的跟前,一齊動手,真正的打了一百。只打得彭剪倒在地下,哀哀的叫痛。原來,為官家的皆云公門,但豈是無私?這些家人況與彭剪合好的,誰肯狠心痛打一百鞭?一百中,不過二、三十下打著。因此彭剪不甚吃虧,連叫道:“公爺屈打彭剪了!自己陰陽算錯,與別人何干?”周公大怒道:“你平日老誠,今日竟然撒誑!孤也不打你,左右,再加一條繩索捆住他中截,與孤抬在廊簷下吊起來!”此時,彭剪也覺疼痛,只為桃花女有救命之思,昨夜諄諄囑咐,教他不要說出其名姓,當時忍著痛,並不說出。

周公走至階下,問他道:“你快快說出實話,不但不責治你,孤還要重重賞你。孤看你滿面紅光,又添壽限,必遇奇人傳授你換骨脫胎之法,你可細細說來!”彭剪聞言,心中吃驚道:“好利害也!不但占卦靈準,就是看相也準了。我今沒有推卻,只不言語,看他怎樣盤詰罷。”即便兩目緊閉,口亦不開。周公一見,心中大怒,即抽身回了大堂,取了天罡劍在手,奔至彭剪跟前,大喝:“彭剪!你若不說出,就有欺主之罪!”說罷,兇惡狠狠,就要舉劍砍下來了。彭剪睜目一看,唬得魂不附體,大叫:“公爺饒命!待我說就是了。”周公狠說:“少若遲延,孤就一劍分為兩段!”彭剪忙道: “是石宗輔左鄰任太公之女任桃花,教我昨晚三更至三官廟,等候北斗星君來求壽,故此得活的。”周公聞言,便叫人放了彭剪,即回中堂坐下,開言呼:“彭剪!何不早說?”彭剪謝罪,又言:“桃花小姐再三叮囑,教我不要對公爺說知,恐防公爺生怒,記仇於他。就是石宗輔,也是他教的。”周公聞言,不由得不大怒道。 “好陰人!破孤的八卦倒也罷了,又教石姓母子來羞辱於孤,我誓不與他幹休!”彭剪聽了,忙叩頭道:“公爺休要記小人之仇!若是記仇,就是彭剪連累他的。公爺!可憐他父母單生一女,年紀又幼小。”周公道:“這陰人多大年紀?”彭剪道:“今年才得一十六歲。”做書的又說明:桃花女與周公先後下凡,何以周公若大年紀?只因天上一刻,人間數秋,周公下凡多了桃花女一、二時辰,故此大了數十歲。  閒話休講。且說周公見彭剪說出了真情,便賞他十兩銀子,去調養傷痕。彭剪謝了賞,周公又吩咐他:“不許到任家去說破,若是去說破,孤若知道了,罪上加罪!”彭剪諾諾連聲道:“不敢,不敢!”自回房中去了。

周公暗想道:“任桃花小小年紀,有這般道法?孤有些不信。待孤查查看昨晚果是北斗下降否?”忙掐指一算,果然昨晚三更初刻,北斗降於城東三官廟,心中大驚道:“任桃花果是術能通神!朝歌城內有了他,只怕孤萬不能出他之氣。”左思右想,悶悶不樂,在花樓上走來走去,猛然想起道:“孤何不如此如此,……方消我心頭之恨!”想罷,連忙叫一個家人,名喚許成,即吩咐道:“你與孤叫過官媒到來。”許成領命而去,周公仍坐等侯。

不知用何計策害得桃花小姐,且看下回分解.

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