The Many Eyed Spirit Repays a Good Deed and Writes on a Silver Lid
Viceroy Wen Loses His Way and Meets Zhuge
As we have heard, if Viceroy Wen Yanbo didn't indeed have one charmed life he would surely have been crushed to death by the giant stone wheel from the sky. Luckily that man saved his life and the Viceroy asked his name.
"I'm afraid your excellency would be disappointed if I said it," replied the stranger mysteriously. "Could I just borrow a silver pot lid, a brush and an inkstone?"
The aides all quickly brought those things and arranged them neatly on a table.
"Please, everybody, get back!" said the man. Viceroy Wen commanded everyone to stand well out of the way. The stranger picked up the brush and wrote something on the inner surface of the silver lid, which he then placed on the ground before suddenly bounding out of the tent in one big step. The Viceroy sent some men to chase him but he had already vanished.
"How strange!" gasped the Viceroy. When he had his men lift that silver lid for a look at what was written they saw only the three characters for "Many Eyed Spirit" inside of it, and none of them knew what it meant. Viceroy Wen sat stumped for quite awhile but it suddenly came to him.
Back in his youth before he passed the government examination Viceroy Wen dreamt that he had an audience with Queen Xuan Nyu, the Mystery Girl of Ninth Heaven, who uttered ten words to him: "Great prime minister among men, old star man in Heaven." After that experience Wen Yanbo begged an expert painter to make him a portrait of the holy Queen, which he mounted on a scroll for worship. On the first and fifteenth of every month he unrolled it, lit incense and worshipped her.
One day during his travels he stopped at a government postal relay station and lodge. "This place is haunted!" warned the stationmaster. "Lots of people have died in the dormitory!" Now, Wen Yanbo didn't believe a word of it, lit a candle in the lamp, got some wine and sat down in a room to enjoy it in solitude. But come the drumming of the third watch a sudden blast of wind arose and after its passage a man with dishevelled hair appeared, kowtowing before his table.
"Prime Minister Wen Yanbo!" he shouted, and then pleaded for some food and wine.
"Are you man or ghost?" replied Wen. "Tell me the truth and I'll give you all you can drink!"
"Haven't you heard, Excellency, of Queen Xuan Nyu of Ninth Heaven's two subordinates, 'Windblown' and 'Thousand Li Eyes'? Well, I'm none other than Thousand Li Eyes himself. When Xuan Nyu sent me on a recent surveillance mission my weakness for drink caused me to make a very big mistake. The Mystery Queen was angered and ordered me into confinement here, where I've endured hunger and thirst for three months, and my sentence is not nearly over. Seeing an aristocrat like yourself, I came especially to beg from you."
"How do you know I'm an aristocrat?" asked Wen Yanbo.
"Wherever a leading gentleman goes," said the spirit, "the local dieties must first drive away the wild ghosts and seductive manifestations of sorcerers and the like, and so I knew you were coming around. I belong to the Mystery Queen's staff and that was my duty here at first."
"If you're already being punished for a crime, how dare you harm and kill people?"
"I had been born ugly enough, but when Queen Xuan Nyu punished me she stabbed my face with her holy sword and left me with many eyes, making me look even ghastlier. When people saw me coming to beg food they were frightened to death. That was because of their short Fates, not due to any fault of mine!"
"Show me your face!" demanded Wen.
"I'm afraid of frightening an aristocrat!"
Wen Yanbo insisted on seeing him and so the man parted his wild hair in front, exposing no fewer than eight flashing and winking evil eyes set into his green face, all of them fiery and fearsome. Wen Yanbo too was shocked but he nonetheless set out food and drink for the spirit to partake of.
"I've been regularly worshipping an icon of your Mystery Queen," said Wen. "What if I were to plead with her on your behalf?"
"One word from your lordship and all will be forgiven!" replied the spirit. "And someday when you are in danger I'll be obliged to save you." It then quietly left.
Next day Wen Yanbo set out some joss and candles and prayed before the scroll, begging for forgiveness of Thousand Li Eyes. That very night the spirit came to thank him in a dream.
"Thanks to your lordship's intercession my crime has already been pardoned," he said. "You shall be blessed with an extremely long life, and remember to call upon me in the future."
It had all made a very deep impression on Wen Yanbo. After he'd passed his examinations and become prime minister he believed in Xuan Nyu more than ever, worshipping her twice-monthly and never slacking off in his faithfulness, even during military service. It was all because he'd seen that spirit with four sets of evil eyes, unkempt hair and a filthy face in that room at the relay station lodge in his youth. Today's stranger had worn a head wrapping and had only one pair of eyes, and though the man was ugly enough Viceroy Wen momentarily couldn't recall who it was. But upon seeing the words "Many Eyed Spirit" he remembered how he'd gazed upon all those eyes and realized that the stranger was indeed Queen Xuan Nyu's subordinate diety, Thousand Li Eyes.
Viceroy Wen told his assembled generals a bit of the story and they reverently congratulated him, shocked as they were. And when they examined the silver lid more closely they found six more words written round the inside of its rim: "meet triple sui, sorcerer devils away". The Viceroy examined it carefully and then asked the others if they know what it meant; nobody did.
"Marshall," said Deputy Cao Wei, "I suppose your prayers reached Heaven and a holy spirit came to save you. As I see it, this means that the rebels can be defeated at once."
"What makes you think so?" asked Wen.
"The god was called "Many Eyes" because he once had eight fierce ones. Now, 'eight eyes' is the literal meaning of the parts of the character Bei in Beizhou. But when he appeared before us today those eight eyes had been wiped off of his face, an omen showing how Beizhou will be wiped off of the face of the earth. Because you, Marshall, have so long revered and worshipped Queen Xuan Nyu, she sent that spirit down to us bearing an auspicious omen!" Although the expression 'triple sui" is still not clear I'm sure it will all become obvious later, so we need only have our forces advance."
"In that dream of mine the virtuous woman Zhao prophesized a great disaster, and for all we know it it might yet come to pass," replied the Viceroy. "That's why I gave the order to stand down for three full days. After this period is completely over we shall advance at once. Meanwhile, you gentlemen should all think about the meaning of 'triple sui'."
All saluted and left, each returning to his own encampment to wrack his brains over it as you might imagine.
Now, that cult of sorcerers in Beizhou assumed that their faith in that charmed grindstone had been justified. They broke out wine to celebrate while sending a scout to observe the activities in the government forts. The spy soon returned with his report.
"Viceroy Wen's troops are formidable looking in their martial bearing!" he stated. "The units are all intact and nothing seems amiss."
"Perhaps with their leader gone they're still banded together but have no heart left for a fight," said Wang. "There hasn't been any movement today among Wen's troops so how can we be sure the wheel didn't kill him?"
"Our branch of teaching is one hundred percent effective!" protested Zuo Chu. "Nobody could have escaped. They're dead for sure."
"In order to determine the facts we could send a messenger with a declaration of war for the Viceroy," said Wang Ze, and a according to custom a suitable soldier was dispatched. He went straight to Viceroy Wen's tent and summoned him outside. All gathered round as the document was laid on a table, and as Viceroy Wen spread it out for a look he suddenly realized Wang Ze's true purpose. "Wang only hopes that the sorcerers' wheel crushed me to death," he thought. "Who would imagine that I was left unscathed, safe and sound? They detected no activity here and so they sent this unneccesary declaration of war just to find out if their success was for real."
Viceroy Wen then wrote his reply onto the declaration, stating that he would attack the next day and sent it back with the courier.
Wang Ze read the reply in stunned disbelief. "Did you really go to Viceroy Wen's tent?" he asked, his voice trembling.
"Oh Great King!" exclaimed the soldier. "Without a doubt it was Viceroy Wen that I summoned from that tent, and it was he who wrote this reply before sending me back!"
Wang Ze was extremely agitated upon hearing that the Viceroy was unharmed and that night he summoned Zuo Chu to his palace to discuss the best policy for defeating the enemy, together with Hu Yong'r. Suddenly just as they were nervously vacillating Holy Auntie's arrival was announced. Everyone rushed to greet her as she came in and sat down. Wang Ze then told her all about Viceroy Wen's usage of those tanks of blood to counter their sorcery, the attempt to crush Wen with the millstone and the coming battle the enemy had promised.
"Why don't we use the law for 'Confusing the Enemy with a White Horse'?" asked Holy Auntie.
"Both sister and I have twice tried to use our craft, really expertly and fiercely, too," said Zuo Chu, "and both times we've been neutralized and wiped out by him. We're can't decide what to do now because we're just afraid our powers might be ineffective or even turned against our own cavalry."
"My school of sorcery is one hundred percent effective!" replied Holy Auntie. "However, its laws and charms can't be practiced lightheartedly. Yes, ineffectual attacks there have indeed been, all because the practitioners had only wine and sexual pleasure on their minds, and their spiritual unity had been dissolved by their seven wordly feelings and six urges. Their power of concentration was spoiled and they couldn't summon the qi needed for the magic task at hand. With their own strength not up to the task and their spiritual qi weakened it was natural that the transformations were compromised. It's like blowing a feather up into the air; how high it goes up before falling all depends on the strength of one's holyqi being adequate. When we go to war tomorrow just watch this old woman's work and we'll see if the enemy can counter it!"
Zuo Chu and Yong'r bowed their heads in silence while Wang Ze spoke. "We depend entirely upon the miraculous power of our Holy Queen Mother!" he declared.
And so the plans were all set, and at dawn the next morning Wang Ze finished inspecting his ten thousand troops, the gate was opened and the bridge lowered and after having a long time to regain their strength the two armies again faced each other in battle. Viceroy Wen had his pumpers along as before, loaded with the pig and sheeps' blood, and had his troops taunt Wang Ze in loud voices but no attack was was forthcoming from the Beizhou troops. Now, Zuo Chu stood naked and barefoot without any body armour leading Zhang Qi, Wu Wahng and the others, who were closely escorting Holy Auntie and watching for her to cast her spell of magic law. Holy Auntie was leading a white horse with one hand, a sword in the other and her hair wildly dishevelled, and right there among the troops she began her conjuring. Treading upon the solar winds of the Palace of the God of Letters, she chanted the magic properties and then shouted "Live!" At that moment she pierced the white horse's head with her sword and caught the fresh blood in her mouth, holding it there for awhile before spraying it out in front of the men. Now, the sky had been clear a moment before, but now that she'd spit that blood out black clouds gathered and torrential rain began, along with thunder and lightning, blowing sand and flying stones.
Now, that squall hid the ground and sky completely and reduced visibility to where you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. The detachments of pumphands and bowmen were completely disoriented with no idea where to shoot in the darkness, and the government troops were all lashed and pelted with sand and stones. All of them lost their nerve, threw down their weapons and armour and ran for their lives. Amidst the chaos of his collapsing army Viceroy Wen first dashed left and then right and then, suffering from vertigo, fell from his horse. Then right there in front of the animal he saw another squall approaching, and with it opened a path of light as pale as a winter's moon. Taking advantage of that shaft of brightness he ran forth out of the dark. Looking back he saw not a soul following him, and so he mounted a horse and rode off alone, ever so full of trembling and sorrow. It was like this:
As Viceroy Wen was riding along that day he suddenly saw the first trees of a mountain forest ahead of him. Not knowing the place he guided his horse around the spur of a small hill, and as the sky gradually brightened he saw a flagpole and heard the sound of a bell. After tying up his horse and walking up for a closer look he then came across a monastary.
"Well, I'm here," he thought, "and there's nothing I can do about it. I might as well go in and ask someone the way back to camp, and get my bearings again."
"Might you by some chance be surnamed Wen, old general?" asked the bonze.
"And just how did you know my name was Wen?" the Viceroy asked, incredulously.
"Our master told us that a general by the name of Wen would be arriving here today, and he ordered me to wait here and welcome you."
Viceroy Wen was dumbstruck. "If his master knew in advance that I was coming," he thought, "he surely isn't your ordinary person."
"I truly want to meet your master!" he then told the monk, who led the way, walking his horse for him. The old bonze was already waiting in front of the temple's great gate to welcome him and usher him in, and the men then sat.
"General, you must be hungry and thirsty!" said the abbot. He hurriedly ordered some of his disciples down to the kitchen to prepare some food, and to walk the horse around back and provide some feed for it. Then he instructed his followers to bring tea and cakes for their enjoyment.
"General!" began the abbot as they finished with tea. "Would you be the same General Wen who once served the court as prime minister and is now acting as Viceroy, commanding those hundred thousand troops in putting down Wang Ze?"
"How do you know all this about me, master?" asked Wen.
"Last night Sangharama the Temple God reported it to me in a dream, that's how!" replied the abbot. "I heard quite a bit about you, and that our mountain would be receiving your visit today, Viceroy. But why is nobody with you?"
"This morning we surprisingly suffered a terrible defeat in an engagement with the rebels, and I was fleeing alone for my life when I arrived here."
"It goes without saying that you've got great ability, Viceroy," said the abbot in shocked surprise, "Your hundred-thousand-man army is no easy thing to oppose and Beizhou is just a hole in the ground. Why can't you beat him with all those men and horses of yours?"
"If it were just a match of miltary strength there's no way they could ever defeat us," explained Viceroy Wen. "But Wang Ze's clique are all capable of sorcery. Whenever we engage them in battle the heads of spirits with ghost faces come up out of their ranks and fierce animals and monsters come at us. Our men and horses run off in panic when they see this. My deputy Cao Wei offered a plan whereby we used a mixture of pig and sheep blood, horse urine and garlic shot out of pumps and with it we secured one victory over them. For a few days the rebels didn't dare come out of their city wall. Yesterday, however, as I raised my banners and called a war planning council the sorcerers unfortunately put a charm of secret law on a giant millstone wheel and tried to crush me with it in an attack from the sky. Luckily the Many Eyed Spirit saved my life. Then when we faced the rebels in battle this morning Wang Ze's troops freely summoned up a horrible squall, suddenly obscuring the sky and blacking out earth, with wild lightning and torrents of rain, blowing sand and flying stones, throwing our forces into chaos. I myself lost my bearings and ended up here, and I'd like to ask you to show me the way back. When I return to camp I'll see to it that you are properly rewarded."
Having heard all of this the abbot got up angrily and clapped his hands together once.
"This is still the world of Yao and Shun with its holy kings and wise ministers," he began, "and yet those sorcerers dare lift their hands to rebel against an imperial court! Please, Viceroy, avoid more trouble and take me along to augment your strength, ruin their evil magic laws and wipe out the rebel party!"
Viceroy Wen was delighted to hear that. "Dare I ask your name, master?" he worshipfully enquired.
"I've got a double surname, Zhuge," replied the monk, "and my first name is Suizhi."
The Viceroy was again pleased. "The Many Eyed Spirit wrote out six characters, 'Meet triple sui, sorcerer devils away'," he said. "Everyone has been thinking about it carefully day and night, and they are completely stumped as to its meaning. Now Heaven has directed me to meet you, master. If your holiness is willing to go and bring about the ruin of Beizhou, I'll memorialize the throne of your achievement and the appreciation will be considerable!"
"I am a Buddhist under vows," replied the abbot, "and I don't covet wealth, privelege or the granting of nobility. But this pure and peaceful world cannot suffer that evil cult. I'll do my lowly bit like the dogs and horses to help you quell the sorcerers' rebellion! Stay with us for a meal and a night's rest, Viceroy, and tomorrow at the drumming of the fifth watch I'll accompany you back to your grand camp."
The Viceroy took off his armour, had supper and spent much of the night discussing theology and goodness with the abbot before retiring. He awoke at seven the next morning, washed and had some rice for breakfast. The abbot then assembled all of his monks.
"Bring out one of our horses," he directed, "because I am going off with the Viceroy to crush a rebellion."
"Old master!" shouted the bonzes. "Our teacher! You went away for fifteen years and just got home a few days ago. Since then you've just idled away the time eating and sleeping, and now that you've heard of a slaughter going on somewhere you run off with an old general to get involved? It's sensless!"
"Now, don't try to stop me!" said the old general. "I've got the cosmic law he needs to break the rebellion and contribute to the dynasty, bringing glory upon our temple. When this affair is over I'll be back here in the monastary among you all once more!"
The disciples could only prepare a horse as directed. Viceroy Wen and the abbot mounted up, and taking three novices along to assist in worship they journeyed quickly to the gates of the camp. The other generals and all the troops were overjoyed and welcomed them warmly into the camp, where they were greeted by Deputy Viceroy Cao and the others.
"Marshall," asked Cao Wei, you were away overnight. We commanders were in a panic and didn't know what to do. We've got no idea where you went after you'd dropped out of formation or how you ended up coming back with this old master."
"Yesterday," answered the Viceroy, "that evil squall employed by Wang Ze's forces blew me way off my bearings and I arrived at a temple, where I met this holy monk. He said he could overcome evil magic, and I think it really fulfills those words of the Many Eyed Spirit." He then took Deputy Cao aside. "This monk is called Zhuge Suizhi," he whispered to Cao Wei. Now, Deputy Cao was enormously pleased and questioned the monk alone.
"Just what sort of miraculous talent do you have that enables you to defeat evil sorcery?"
"During my fifteen years of wandering," replied Zhuge Suizhi, "I encountered an extraordinary man who bestowed me with the 'True and Upright Properties of Mid Heaven's Five Thunders'. Whenever I come upon evil Jin'gang Zen about to be practiced I simply utter the genuine truth as soon as they start their bent magic. This overpowers falsehood and deviousness and brings it around to truth and righteousness. If you don't believe me just wait until tomorrow's battle and then you'll understand everything."
Viceroy Wen left the abbot and his disciples in the camp while he attended to preparing a declaration of war and other matters. He ordered his men to go all out for nothing less than the total surrender of Beizhou the next day. Ten thousand fresh troops were coming from the old fort at Fujiatuan to replace the main army's losses, while the seriously wounded were to be relieved of combat duty and sent back to the fort for a rest.
When Wang Ze read the government declaration of war he signed his acknowledgement and ordered his troops back into action. He then met with his sorcerers.
"They were slaughtered and driven off in a big defeat by our troops in yesterday's battle!" he boasted. "How can they dare to wage war against us today? We'd best beg our Holy Queen Mother to make use of yesterday's magic and then we'll chase them all the way to the border, making good and sure that not one of that hundred thousand is left!"
To make a long story short the two sides then marshalled and groomed their forces for the coming round of slaughter.
The next day Wang Ze lead his cavalry out of Beizhou and arranged them in a single attacking formation. Both armies faced each other with banners waving and drums beating. Under the shadows of their leading banners the sorcerers could again be scene jostling around Holy Auntie with her wild hair and sword, leading another white horse forward while mumbling some charm. Once more she stabbed the horse's head, took the blood in her mouth and spit it out, and once again the sinister squall could be seen rising out of Wang Ze's ranks with its sand, rocks, rain and lightning, moving toward Viceroy Wen's battle line. Zhuhe Suizhi saw it from the ranks and raised a command rod before reciting his oath of truth and pointing the rod straight ahead. In one strange instant the wicked storm with its sand, stones, rain and hail reversed direction and headed back to descend upon Wang Ze's troops.
"Oh, no!" shouted Wang, suddenly unable to see his gang of sorcerers. Knowing firsthand how bad that wind could be he ordered his men to immediately turn around. Viceroy Wen then pointed onward with his riding cane and the three armies with all their might pressed the attack. The rebel troops died and horses fell right and left, most of them being cut up in the action while those who drowned in the city moat while fleeing were uncountable. Wang Ze hurriedly assembled a few surviving men and horses and made a dash back into Beizhou, raising the bridge and closing the gate behind him to secure the city.
Viceroy Wen's forces surged ahead in frenzied slaughter right up to the Beizhou wall, cutting the head and ears off of men and taking their gold and battle flags as booty. The Viceroy ordered that the signal for reassembly be sounded and encamped not far from the wall. He then asked Zhuge Suizhi to be seated in a place of honour and bowed low to thank him. "This victory was all due to your power, master!" he said. "If it goes on like this the rebels can be broken in a matter of days."
"I only used good to rectify evil," said Zhuge, "and their magic went nowhere. How that gang of sorcerers of his would tremble if they knew I was here in your army."
"Wang Ze lost a round today and now he's holed up inside his walls," replied the delighted Viceroy. He then issued orders to his troops to redouble their energies and assault the city. A cloud of black smoke then suddenly rose from inside the city and hung over the the top of the wall. Whether from bonfires lining the streets or torrential floods for that matter it would make no difference, it was felt, as the conjurers had now run out of tricks. Viceroy Wen commanded his three armies to encircle the city as tightly as an iron drum, drums pounding and voices shouting, squeezing and waiting for the troops inside to come out. At that point they would use Zhuge Suizhi to rectify the rebels' heterodox evil with righteous truth, and then ride on his powers to slaughter the rebels and pursue them right into the city.
Unfortunately Wang Ze was using sorcery to hold out within the walls and would not come out. Viceroy Wen could only order his troops to leave the city and return to their camps. It was back to garrison life as before with its ringing handbells, barking commands and cadences, passing around of fresh arrows and sounding of the watch drum. The Viceroy soon asked his Deputy if he couldn't come up with some new idea.
"You and I are using up a huge amount of the imperial court's funds every day we sit here with this huge army of ours," he said. "It's been two months now, and if Beizhou doesn't fall what should we do next?"
"Put your heart at ease, Marshall!" said the Deputy. "Let Cao Wei think up another fine plan." He then left and returned to his own camp, leaving Viceroy Wen worrying and fretting alone in his tent. Before he knew it the darkness of night had filled the sky. Just look:
That night in his tent Viceroy Wen tossed and turned under his quilt until nearly the drumming of the third watch, unable to sleep. He then longed for the silence of the surrounding countryside, and so he arose and left the camp. At exactly the third watch he spotted a young drummer marking the time on his bamboo drum and singing a song beneath his breath. Now, there is more to come of this little chant; the young soldier of the watch brigade will become a pacifier of rebellion and the old general will quickly decide on a plan for crushing the sorcerers. Really:
As for the soldier's ditty and the things it brings along, read the coming chapter and you'll see his little song.
Click to continue to Chapter 39, Table of Contents