Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Seeking Demonic Gods For An Evil Scheme.On hearing the Lord Chou’s marriage proposal, Peach Blossom did not let her parents finish and with great fury bursting out of her that she slipped from the chair. This is really:Delicate is the flower hapless under the rain,
Weak is the willow dancing in the wind.
Ren Tai Kung and wife were greatly alarmed as their daughter fell from her seat. Quickly they helped her up and consoled,
“My darling daughter! Why be like this?”
Whereupon they started to cry. Steadily Peach Blossom sat down and complained moodily,
“My parents dido not think thrice before acting and are now ensnared in someone’s ploy! Now we are in the hands of Lord Chou! Your daughter hasd divined that Lord Chou has no son and his wife had died a long time ago. Only a daughter he has, sixteen years of age1. Such suddenness he wanted me to be his daughter-in-law in three days’ time. Your daughter is reasonably sure that in breaking his prediction by saving Brother Pang, Lord Chou’s embarrassment hasd turned into anger. Today’s marriage proposal is a ruseploy to destroy your daughter. I’m afraid your daughter has to bid her parents goodbye forever a goodbye, never to reunite again!”
Ren Tai Kung and wife were thoroughly vexed on hearing her words,
“Why such inauspicious words so suddenly?”
Peach Blossom was no ordinary mortal being; being able to grasp situations easily, she quickly kneaded her fingers and already knew what was going on,
“Nineteenth of the month is when the Lords of Catastrophe are descending from heaven. It is extremely inauspicious. Lord Chou selected this date so that your daughter clashes with the Gods and die!”
Tai Kung raged angrily and shouted,
“Vile is this Lord Chou in planning such a venomous ploy. This old man will fight with him to death! I shall not be cowed by him in the courts!”
With that he tore the red flowers2 from his head, rending them to pieces before stomping on them.
Peach Blossom thought secretly to herself,
“By the orders of the Jade Edict I descended upon this earth to break Lord Chou’s predications. This I cannot avoid. Better to comfort the hearts of these aged parents.”
“Father, mother, please don’t worry! T’is the will of Heaven. Your daughter will not be intimidatedcowed by him! It is because you two have brought me up and I still haven’t repaid the debt to you bothtwo. It’s my greatest regret that I failed my filial duty to you.”
Ren Tai Kung and wife wept as they heard her words,
“Such an inauspicious date, how can we let him do it?”
Peach Blossom replied,
“For others, there shall be harm. However, your daughter knows how to break his schemes. When others needed saving, I had saved them. Now that disaster is upon me, how could I not know of a way to save myself? Please be at ease my parents. Your daughter is not afraid! It would only be three days before your daughter returns. However Lord Chou must assent to a few things before I acquiesce to that date of going over his threshold.”
Ren Tai Kung was delighted on hearing his daughter’s words,
“Whatever you wanted from Lord Chou, I shall call upon matchmaker Chiang to fulfill your needs.”
Peach Blossom replied,
“What is needed are not rare or difficult to find. A two foot long piece of red silk, Immortals from the Eighteen Caves3 made from assorted colors of silken knots are to be embroidered on the bridal sedan, a pair of empty vases, and a Five Grains clothes Iron4. By the time the bridal sedan reaches the threshold, sandalwood and cedar leaves must be burning both in the vases and the clothes iron. A servant from his household must walk around the sedan three times with the clothes iron before I am to enter the threshold. A horse saddle and a square bucket shall be placed at the main and inner gates. Upon leaving the sedan, the bride must cross over the saddles without touching the earth before she can kowtow to Heaven and Earth10-6. Finally, a servant from his household must be nearby at all times to take orders from us. If Lord Chou does not adhere to any of the conditions set forth, either his son comes to fetch me or I shall not be married into their household. Father please quickly prepare and make no mistake to all I that I’ve asked!”
Ren Tai Kung remembered all the instructions and quickly took the Four Treasures of the Literary Studio2-2 to record meticulously all that was asked without error. Knowing their daughter’s capability and her fearless attitude towards Lord Chou, their worries gradually gave way to joy,
“Your parents are now much at ease on hearing how you are able to break his magic. When the matchmaker is here, we shall demand your instructions be met byfrom Lord Chou.”
With that the two old biddies left the backyard garden at peacein ease. Peach Blossom remained in the garden mulling over her strategy to thwart Lord Chou’s scheme. This we shall not elaborate further.
Let’s talk aboutof matchmaker Chiang and Hsu Cheng’s return to report to Lord Chou about what had transpiredhow Ren-Tai-Kung had agreed to the marriage proposal and the bride will be crossing the threshold on the nineteenth of the month as stipulated. Lord Chou was immensely delighted and gave matchmaker Chiang a boon of some silver, and ten taels of silver to Hsu Cheng. Fearing that Ren Tai Kung and wife might renege, he ordered matchmaker Chiang and Hsu Cheng to prepare for the dowry gifts of wine and other articles immediately. A few female servants were ordered to follow the procession bearingof leading goats and wine kegs carrying to Ren Tai Kung’s home.
On reaching their destination, Ren Tai Kung ordered his inner servants to serve tea at the outer hall for the men whileand the female guests were invited into the inner apartments. All gifts were then let into the kitchen area without checks and tallies. When matchmaker Chiang and the female servants entered the inner apartments, she kowtowed,
“Ren Tai Kung, Mrs. Ren, congratulations!”
This time the old peacemaker admonished loudly,
“Matchmaker Chiang let me ask you, how can you be so befuddled in your dealings? I’m not vexeding at this marriage proposal, but at the date you selected for the nineteenth of the month. Such an extremely inauspicious date. Lord Chou is a scholar of knowledge. Why did he not consult his books? Bringing me a paper coffin instead? Is he trying to befuddle and deceive me? I shan’t go into this further but let his Lordship know this: If he does not adhere to all stipulations we demanded for the preparation of the marriage, then don’t blame us for reneging. I don’t care if he goes to court and sues us. I shall be most willing to entertain the process!”
Matchmaker Chiang quickly apologized and explained,
“Old peacemaker, please calm yourself! Only if these things are unobtainable in this world. If they are available, I personally will guarantee that you will be thoroughly satisfied. I shan’t eat my words.”
Ren Tai Kung chimed in,
“These are not unobtainable treasures, just some daily articles of use. All that is needed are written clearly on this slip of red paper5. Go back and tell Lord Chou to act accordingly to what’s written on the list.”
As the red list was handed over to matchmaker Chiang, she feigned illiteracy6 and asked,
“Tai Kung, could you please read over what’s on the list so that I know what they are?”
When Ren Tai Kung finished reading, matchmaker Chiang smiled broadly and said,
“All this while, I was thinking that what you requested are lacking in Heaven and none found on Earth. Such ordinary things, not difficult, not difficult at all! All guarantees on this little woman’s back. None shall be lacking!”
Ren Tai Kung then said,
“I have to bother you toin relaying to Lord Chou about all that iswas stipulated today. We were cautioned by a Ying-Yang master7 who explained that the date was too inauspicious. Perhaps these articles may offer some protection. Without them my daughter may die hence all these inconveniences. Though I’m of the vulgar masses, I’ll not renege on this marriage. Lord Chou is of the nobility, I’m sure he won’t be stingy on such trifle matters. You may leave!”
Matchmaker Chiang agreed most readily and she bade Tai Kung farewell and returned with her retinue. She gave Lord Chou him the red slip as she reported to Lord Chou,
“How sharp the Ren family is! As if they have some God of the Ears for a messenger. They seemed to know all of your Lordship’s moves.”
Lord Chou took a look and said,
“No problem… jJust follow the instructions. Go and tell them quickly that I’ve agreed to all requests. Send Pang Jiang over to them on that day and let them do whatever with him.”
Again matchmaker went back and reported to Ren Tai Kung that Lord Chou had agreed to everything.
Actually Lord Chou’s “Heavenly Dipper Divine Book” teaches only how to make predictions but not solving obstacles. Because of this, Lord Chou did not take seriously into his heart Peach Blossom’s requests seriously. Soon the eve of the eighteenth day of the month arrivedcame. Lord Chou sat alone in his study and was kneading his fingers to predict the precise location where the Lords of Catastrophe would beare descending. The Star Lord of the Four Ends8 and the Four Destroyers9 wouldill be descending in the north east, the Wailing Death in the north. The Heavenly Gauze and the Earthly Nets wouldill be in the east; the Well Wood Dingo, the Demon Metal Ram, the Mao Hour Day Rabbit and the Day Star Horse10 wouldill be at the north east corner.
With great satisfaction, Lord Chou exclaimed,
“Such Viciousness all gathered together and what luck that my house aligned in the perfect positiondirection. No further need of more manipulations. For other people, only one direction is needed to finish them off. Methinks that Peach Blossom hasdo have some capability. I wondered about the myriad things she needsed. Are these used to ward off any calamity? If this is the case, her capability will be greatly enhanced. How am I able to factor infact this fact? Let me adopt an ‘Easy to dodge a spear in the open and difficult to evade an arrow in the dark’ strategy. I’m sure she won’t be able to predict all the directions these vicious gods are descending. Just to be on the safe side, why don’t I secretly summon more gods to deal with this female? The moment her bridal sedan is in sight, these deities will take the bitch’s life for sure! Even if with great magic, she would not be able to withstand so many at the same time!”
Once his mind was made up, he quickly purified himself through a bathing ritual and changed into new clean clothes. With the “Heavenly Dipper Divine Book” in his robes next to his chest and the Heavenly Dipper Sword in hand, he strolled into his backyard garden ordering boy servants to prepare a table with fragrant flowers, candles, new sheets of paper, a brush and sheets of yellow paper. Everyone was ordered out and warned not to peek. H, he locked the doors himself and waited until it the third drum beat was heard. He took off his golden cap and let loose his hair as he approached the table. Taking out the Heavenly Dipper Divine Book out, he copied strange- looking charms from the book onto the yellow slips of paper with a clean brush dipped in vermillion. With the sword in his left hand and burning the copied charms in his right, he began to recite the sacred formulae. When he was done, he pointed the sword at the sky and suddenly a gust of wind began to howl strangely. When it died down, a heavenly marshal descended from the sky. How fearsome he looked:
Golden helmet in head spewing air of viciousness,
Face dyed in black, thick eyebrows a standing,
Eyes bright as lanterns and huge like Mt. Ao11.
Bristling beard hard as needles,
A bamboo culm shaped mace he wielded,
Fully a marshal ordained by Heaven,
Just two words, his name “Black Malignancy” cowering both Gods and demons!
Standing not far from the table, a voice was heard booming suddenly after a bow was made by this form,
“Conjurer, what need thee fromhas for us?
Lord Chou quickly closed his eyes and said,
“Sacrilegious it is to disturb ye Lords if there’s no purpose. Tomorrow’s hour of Si is the marriage hour of Peach Blossom. Aid me and wait at Ren Tai Kung’s residence. The moment Peach Blossom enters the bridal sedan, strike her with your mace and let her die in her sedan. Take leave and resume your proper place.”
“By ye orders!”
And with that, the form disappeared. The second amulet was then burnt and down from the heavens a disheveled form wearing mourning clothes came. In his right hand was, a yellow porcelain container was held and ion his left, a mourning cudgel wielded. This is the God of Funeral Affairs and is responsible forin overseeing the deaths of mortals. Lord Chou felt an aura of intimidation emanating from this Lord and quickly closed his eyes. The God bowed and asked for his responsibilities. Again Lord Chou commanded,
“Sacrilegious it is to disturb ye Gods if there’s none in purpose. Tomorrow’s hour of Si is the hour when Peach Blossom’s sedan approaches the main door. Bother thy Holiness to wait at the left side of the main door. When the bride leaves the bridal sedan, let your greatness strike her to death. Resume to your proper place when done.”
“By thy orders!”
With that replying the form turned into a gust of wind and disappeared. Once more after a third paper charm was burnt the Gods of Condolences appeared and was ordered to wait at the right side of the door and only to resume their former places after striking Peach Blossom dead.
Please read the next chapter to see which God was summoned by the fourth paper charm burning.
1. It is strange that a daughter of Lord Chou is now suddenly mentioned!
2. A traditional gift to celebrate weddings etc
3. It is believed that the Penglai Isles of Blessed, 蓬莱島 has eighteen caves where immortals lived. These Isles are believed to be situated in the Eastern Ocean.
4. Most probably a clothes iron in which motifs of the five grains are etched on the sides.
10. These are the names of various stars in Chinese named constellations.
犴 is a kind of wild dog in North China used as a totem for a minority tribe. It looks like a fox with a black snout. Also a kind of legendary beast whose image is depicted on cell doors.