Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Carrying with him the sun and moon back to Heaven,
In prosperity and harmony ten thousands celebrate in cups made from rhino horns.
Let’s turn to Lord Chou who used the method of ‘Black Dog Quelling” to destroy Peach Blossom Girl. Pang Jian asked what he can do to thwart his master’s plan. Peach Blossom Girl said,
“He’s using demonic ways that even immortals from Heaven cannot escape easily. It’ll squeeze the three superior souls out through the cavities and cause the seven baser souls to fly out of the body. There is no way out of it. However since big brother Pang remembered how this little sister had saved him…”
Pang Jian hastily interrupted and said,
“If I’ve the power to break his spell, I’d have done so earlier even before informing you to save my benefactress sister!”
Peach Blossom Girl replied,
“I don’t need you to break his spell but just do as I tell you and I’ll be saved.”
Pang Jian burst into a great joy as he heard her words,
“How can I not remember how you saved me? You had already seen all the things you told me to do. Nary was a mistake made yesterday. Tell me quickly and let me fetch…”
Peach Blossom Girl explained,
“You obeyed Lord Chou’s commands and went to my home to cut down a peach tree. That tree is my life line. Once it was cut down, it’s like damming up a water source. Whatever you do downstream, there’ll be no water flowing down. Tomorrow at the hour of Mei is the hour of death for your little sister!”
Pang Jian sighed,
“What can we do now? I’m only a foolish man. If I had understood the intricacies of magic, even in death, I’ll not go and do such a thing to you!”
Peach Blossom Girl admonished gently,
“No need for regrets, tomorrow at the hour of Mei I’ll surely die. However here’s my counter plan. I’ll be put into the coffin soon afterwards. Wait until my body is about to be placed inside, take three wooden stakes and rap it three times continuously on the closed door’s latch. Then in a high voice shout out my name, ‘Peach Blossom Girl’ and kick open the doors with your right foot. I’ll then have a way of returning to the land of the living. Make no mistake!”
Pang Jian said,
“Too early is no good and too late will a disaster be. Only at the precise moment it will work. However please think a bit more. How far is it from here to the front door? Even before I can reach the front door, your body is already placed inside the coffin. How can I succeed?”
Peach Blossom Girl explained,
“Big brother, what you say is correct. Your little sister has not told you the details. When the hour of Shen approaches, go out to the front doors and wait. When you detect wisps of fragrance, you’ll know that I’m being scooped up and placed into the coffin. Follow my instructions precisely and quickly!”
Pang Jian nodding his head in agreement, commented,
“Now this is workable and a piece of cake. However what happens if gusts of fragrance don’t come wafting? Don’t blame me for that!”
Peach Blossom Girl replied,
“Of course there will be fragrance wafting out to your nose.”
Pang Jian was in doubt but nevertheless he said,
“If there’s indeed such fragrance, rest assured that you can depend on me!”
At that Pang Jian bade his farewell.
Peach Blossom Girl sat alone in her room and prepared the magical articles needed to protect her body upon death. Each article was placed in a cotton pouch that she wore next to her undergarments. Just as she was putting her things away Heavenly Fragrance entered the room. She had woken up early and had her face made. After paying respects to each other, they sat down and chatted up a storm. Nothing about the dastardly plan formulated by her father was mentioned to Heavenly Fragrance. They chatted as usual with laughter and jest. They spent the day till nightfall together and after dining, each headed back to her own room.
How can Peach Blossom Girl get a wink of sleep this night? Sitting on the ivory bed she closed her eyes in concentration until early next morning. She washed her face and did not bother to put on hairpins or green jade earrings. She merely donned a simple garb in the Taoist fashion of bluish green. Merrily she acted as if everything was normal.
That day Lord Chou was antsy and secretly sent someone to spy on Peach Blossom. When he heard nothing unusual about Peach Blossom Girl’s demeanor – no sadness or anticipation of any sort, he relaxed and was filled with greatest glee:
“This time her Star of Longevity shall be suppressed and she will naturally fall into a coma!”
Lord Chou endured till noon when he departed quickly into the backyard. A charm of hastening and urging was written. Standing in a fighting stance, Lord Chou began muttering the incantation and the charm was subsequently burnt. Turning back to Peach Blossom Girl… She was chatting away merrily along with Heavenly Fragrance when she suddenly gave a great shout and fell onto the floor. Heavenly Fragrance and the serving girls not knowing anything were greatly horrified. They quickly put Peach Blossom Girl onto the bed. There was no sign of any breathing and her body lay limp like a piece of cotton. Peach Blossom was dead. Really this is,
A thousand uses while alive,
Myriad things turn useless once you’re dead!1
Heavenly Fragrance was aghast and not knowing what else to do, she burst into a great weep,
“Elder sister! You were okay just now how can you suddenly die like this? Alas such pity to die so young and your beauty wasted. How could anyone not be in sorrow?”
Heavenly Fragrance tugged absently at Peach Blossom Girl’s clothes with great pain. The surrounding servant girls burst into cries too, so great that heaven was torn asunder and the earth cracked. Pang Jian also rushed into the outer fringes of the room. Totally in shock, he cried out,
“My God! Such powerful magic at work. Nothing was amiss at the hour of Mei and now this. How accurate the prediction is!”
Peering into the room Pang Jian saw Peach Blossom lying on the bed but looking as if she was still alive except that her mouth was tightly closed as if in a grip. Pang Jian’s tears welled up and he sobbed. Suddenly he realized and said to himself,
“Why am I still crying? Better go quickly to the main doors and wait. Saving her life is of paramount importance. This is my job!”
Wiping his tears away, Pang Jian flew to the main doors and waited for his cue.
Already Lord Chou received the news in exuberance. He personally walked into the room to see things for himself. Indeed Peach Blossom Girl was dead as a door nail and he sneered icily,
“Bitch! How do you escape from my palms now?”
Heavenly Fragrance begged,
“Daddy! Though Peach Blossom Girl had offended you and ought to die but she saved your daughter. Please won’t you forgive her a little? It’s the right thing to do in using your magnanimity to save her!”
Lord Chou laughed out loud,
“You’re still too young to understand things. The will of Heaven has already been determined, who can save her and beckon her back from the dead?”
Ordering his servants, Lord Chou announced,
“Ren Peach Blossom died at the hour of Mei and a quarter. Her malignant spirit is too great to tarry in here any longer. Go quickly and prepare for the after matters. With speed of horses put her quickly into a coffin! Notify her family after burial and set a date for the funeral procession. The coffin may be placed in the small room at the side of the main hall. There shall be no mourning from the women folk!”
Also he ordered that the doors be locked up to prevent any Ren family servant girls from sneaking out to break the news to the Ren family. Who knew that when the great entrance was locked, Pang Jian was already waiting outside! Soon the funerary preparations were done and were waiting in the outer hall. Lord Chou forbade anyone to change the clothes of Peach Blossom Girl to a shroud and ordered four servant girls to lift her body into the coffin. It was like dragonflies crashing into a stone pillar. No matter how much they tried to move the body, they could not lift it. Everyone was amazed and buzzed with excitement,
“How could such a lithe and small body be so heavy?”
Lord Chou saw this and ordered four more servants to help but nary an inch was the corpse moved. Anger swelled and Lord Chou remarked,
“In her former life, this bitch was a witch, now in death has she turned into a demoness? You all! Lift her up for me!”
Talk not of adding four more people, adding any more was of no use. Everyone was huffing and puffing with sweat pouring out like rivers. Everyone finally said,
“No can do, can’t budge anymore!”
Lord Chou ordered the servant girls to retreat and called upon forty burly male servants into the room. Some went to the left and some to the right. No matter how much they tried, they could not lift the corpse. In the end, they exclaimed,
“This is eerie, as if the corpse has melded to become part of the earth. Don’t think it would move an inch!”
Lord Chou was stomping in anger. He quickly got out his Big Dipper Sword and pointed at Peach Blossom’s shoulder and then hacked at it. Sparks flew like stars with a great roar and with such great force that the sword repelled back at Lord Chou. His mouth numbed and shock waves of pain sailed up his arms,
“Such solid a body this is!”
Lord Chou began to whack at it a few more times. Not even a crease appeared on her clothing. All the servants, male and female gasped at the same time and exclaimed,
“This woman must be a great user of magic. See, even her body has been trained to become indestructible!”
This was like pouring oil over fire and annoyed Lord Chou to no end as he heard his servants sighing at her great magical skills.
Thundering, Lord Chou ordered,
“Bring me dry wood!”
No one dared to hesitate and soon dried wood was brought in. He ordered them to lay the wood around the corpse and burn it to ashes.
One servant knelt before his Lord and counseled,
“If we set fire, won’t the room be…”
Lord Chou countered angrily,
“Quickly do as I ordered! I know what I’m doing. How can the room catch fire? Start burning! Now!”
The servants got out fire kindlers and began to set fire to the wood. Strangely no fire caught on. A fire started here and the fire over there extinguished. Lord Chou bellowed to pour oil over the wood. However the oil acted like water and put out whatever flames that were started. Fumes began to spew and all, including Lord Chou, was smoked out of the room into the courtyard where they stood with tears welling n their eye sockets and snort dripping from their noses.
Lord Chou thought for awhile and gave further orders,
“Take out the wood and let it burn slowly outside. There must be a reason. I shall go and divine what this bitch is up to and see the kind of magic she is using!”
Quickly he kneaded his fingers and gave a sigh,
“My fault for not doing my homework in detail! The bitch had used body protective magic to secure her corpse. I’m afraid no mortal can do any harm to it. I shall summon the Six Divine Warriors2 and see how ye shall fare?”
With his Great Dipper sword, he took off his golden cap and let loose his hair. Lord Chou began incanting, causing ten thousand Gods to be alerted at once who descended upon Lord Chou’s mansion. However they did not appear in their full glory in the daylight. When Lord Chou suddenly detected gusts of fragrant winds he knew that the Gods had arrived. Lord Chou ordered,
“All leave! Only four men shall remain to carry the corpse!”
Talk about being late, talk about being early, Pang Jian was waiting for a long while outside the main doors. He was growing impatient and getting agitated with nervousness. Then in a split second of doubt, he detected wafts of fragrance. Jumping in joy, Pang Jian cried,
“Now it’s time!”
Quickly, he used the three pieces of wooden planks and banged on the main door three times yelling out,
“Peach Blossom Girl!”
If you want to know how Lord Chou’s plans are thwarted, please read the next chapter.
1. The literal translation of the couplet is:
三寸氣在千般用，A thousand things to do when you still have three inches of breath,
一旦無常萬事休. The day you die, ten thousand things become useless!
2. The character ‘丁’ is the name of one of the 10 Heavenly stems. It can also mean servant. Usually these divine helpers are part of a set of 12, the other six from the Heavenly Stem of Jia 六甲. ‘甲’ can also mean armor or Armorer. In Taoism they form part of the celestial protectors and defenders of Taoist precepts comprising of the 4 Worthies (or ‘those on duty’), 四值, the 28 Constellations, 二十八宿, the 36 Celestial Warriors, 天將, and the 72 Earth Malignancies, 七十二地煞 .
Their official rank is very low but they often perform menial but important chores such as protecting the monk Tripitaka in the story of the “Western Journey” 西遊記when his disciples are not around to protect him. Their full names are a combination with the names of Earth Branches.
A pregnant woman is called the body with the Six Amorers -身為六甲. This is because those six days were considered the days associated with the creation of the universe.
For more information see http://baike.baidu.com/view/161731.htm