The Duke of Lu Returns in Triumph to Bianjing
The Ape God is Restored to the Bureau of Culture
We have heard how Wang Ze accused Li Yugeng of disrespect and slander over his blunt advice, tied him to the tail of a rocket and fired him out of the city. But strange as Fate would have it that missile came down right square in the middle of the moat, neither overflying nor undershooting the mark. Some of the government soldiers there preparing to attack the city saw the rocket soaring over the wall with a man on and ran to investigate, immediately pulling him up onto the bank with their hooked grappling poles. He was still alive and so they quickly untied his bindings and brought him to the front of Viceroy Wen's tent.
"What sort of fellow are you and what's your name, and why were you ejected from the city like that?" asked the old commander.
"Viceroy!" reported Li Yugeng earnestly, "Your humble subject is a Beizhou musician by the name of Li Yugeng. I ignored the rules and tried once to pursuade Wang Ze to yield to you, Viceroy. He became furious and had me shot out of town on the tail of a rocket in the hope of grinding me up into meatsauce, but thank Heaven I didn't die and have been brought to you!"
"If you are a musician, how was it that you were advising Wang Ze?" asked Wen.
"Wang Ze had his two front teeth knocked out and his lip split by the fist of a certain Ma Sui," explained Li. "He couldn't recite charms and he summoned me to cheer him up. I acted on an impulse and encouraged him to give in and obey your excellency. I told him that within a day or two we were bound to be taken, but rather than even try to understand he accused me."
Viceroy Wen was as pleased as could be with what he had just heard.
"You may be a musician," he answered, "but you sure understood his dilemma!" He then ordered his aides to wine and dine him.
Viceroy Wen had a few questions for Li Yugeng after he'd finished eating.
"As you are a musician who must have lived in Beizhou for a long time, don't you surely know something of its strengths and weaknesses?" he began.
"Your excellency!" replied Li Yugeng. "Since Wang Ze had his lip busted open he hasn't been able to utter his charms. He's already completely useless. The former Teacher of the Realm Bonze Dan, Prime Minister Zhang Ying and Field Marshall Pu Ji all played their parts until they saw how inhumane Wang Ze was, and then they left one after another. There is only a general named Zuo Chu remaining who is expert in sorcery. And there is also Wang Ze's wife Hu Yong'r who can also use sorcery to work magic. Hu Yong's mother is called Holy Auntie and she is even more powerful. Wang Ze depends on these few sorcerers for everything and most of his other men are not versed in Dao. Now that the government army has blocked their sorcery charms and broken their magic they've lost one battle after another and they're all facing the end. Holy Auntie has gone off to Mt Tianzhu to get some 'Divine Sword' but I just think she's using that as a reason for getting out of there."
"How many troops has he still got in the city?" asked Wen.
"He depends on the spirits of bean men and papercut horses and a few troops, even in the beginning never more than ten thousand or so. After losing so many men over and over they now have to dip into the citzenry to fill their empty ranks, and so now they're all rabble troops with no battle experience. Their treasury has always been short of funds too. It was all taken by the conjury of Zuo Chu and others to be wasted by them, so funds are always short."
Viceroy Wen listened intently. "How many people are there in town?" he then asked. "Tell me about the streets and neighbourhoods, waterways and government offices. Where are they situated and what can you remember about them?"
One by one Li Yugeng answered his questions completely.
"Heaven has sent this man to reveal these facts about the city and enable me to destroy Wang Ze...." Suddenly the Viceroy was interrupted by the sound of an army leader approaching his tent.
"Viceroy, Sir!" reported the man. "I'm here to see you about how I can take Wang Ze alive!"
General Wen was delighted to see him coming forth. "It's really a complete fullfilment of the Many Eyed Spirit's prophecy that I would encounter 'three Suis' and then conquer Beizhou!" he proclaimed.
The man's name, after all. was Li Sui! At first Zhuge Suizhi had brought them his skills to block sorcery and wipe out an entire rebel army. Then Ma Sui had split open Wang Ze's lip with one blow of a fist; unable to chant he could no longer perform conjury. And now Viceroy Wen had met Li Sui, amking a perfect "three Suis"! He was overjoyed at this development.
"What sort of a plan to capture to capture Wang Ze have you got?" asked Viceroy Wen.
"I'd like to take five hundred engineering troops with picks and shovels. We've just heard Li Yugeng describe the conditions in the falling city, its streets and neighbourhoods, leadership, troop strength, and the town itself with its principal features, their locations and dimensions and so on. Let's have him draw us a careful map with the dimensions and a constant scale shown clearly on it. The I would need only take those five hundred engineers and dig a tunnel from north of the wall, enter Beizhou through it and come up right in front of Wang Ze's tent and take him and his inner cult of sorcerers alive. Then we would open the city gate from inside to admit the main armies in triumph. Is there any reason why it can't be done?"
Viceroy Wen was again delighted and gave Li Yugeng and Li Sui each a new suit of clothes in appreciation. He then waited nervously in front of his tent for the refurbished Li Yugeng to reappear before ordering him to carefully denote the locations and dimensions of the pricipal features of the city and the distances between them. Next he took the data and drawings and had his surveyors produce a precise map which he supplied to Li Sui as requested. The commander carefully calculated its distances, features and surface areas and reported back to Viceroy Wen.
"It's going to be tedious and slow work," he stated, "so don't expect anything spectacular right away. And I hope that your excellency communicates frequently with the men so that their morale remains high and they are eager to give their all. And I'd also like Li Yugeng to act as our eyes and ears."
"If your careful diligence results in the capture of Wang Ze and the recovery of the city, that will be no small accomplishment of yours to report to the imperial court!" beamed the old Viceroy. He then summoned five hundred earthworks troops with their shovels and picks and placed them under Li Sui's command, but just as General Li was about to stand and leave Zhuge Suizhi suddenly came forth.
"You excellency!" he began earnestly. "If Li Sui goes ahead and tunnels into the city I'm afraid I'm afraid he won't be able to capture Wang Ze."
"How can you be so sure, master?" asked Wen.
"The ones closest to Wang Ze over there in Beizhou are still sorcerers, and when they learn somehow of General Li's diggings they'll get their magic up and running. It's unlikely that he'd be able to take Wang Ze and he himself might be harmed instead!"
"If that's the case," replied Wen, "when will we ever be able to wipe out the rebels?"
"There's no need for your excellency to despair!" said Zhuge. "I'll just go along with them and rectify evil with good, the bent and false with the straight and true, and block their ability to perform conjury. Then they'll all be easily captured!"
"If you can go, master, it will be a great boost to the effort!" said Viceroy Wen.
After saying his farewells and leaving the tent Zhuge Suizhi went right to Queen Xuan Nyu of Ninth Heaven, informed her of everything and begged for her blessings and help in this undertaking, for better or worse, to capture Wang Ze. Now, the Mystery Queen already knew that Wang Ze's number was up and she told Zhuge to go without any worry. Just then in another place Li Sui took gave the command for five hundred pumper troops to fill their tanks with the mixed pig and sheep blood fouled with such things as horse urine and garlic. He looked at the map together with Li Yugeng and they decided that the shallow area of the moat north of the wall was the only suitable place to tunnel under. All the calculations thus made they waved their hands, along with Zhuge Suizhi, as the signal for for the diggers to break ground for the tunnel into Beizhou, and here is a poem:
Now let's take up another thread of the story. Holy Auntie arrived at the lake atop Mt Tianzhu and recovered the Divine Sword from its stone case in the shallows. Now, Queen Xuan Nyu of Ninth Heaven followed it all with her long distance eyes and knew everything at once, and so she changed herself into her form as the maiden Chu Nyu and suddenly materialised before the old sorceress.
"Pardon me, Granny, but may I have a word with you?" she asked.
"I'm here on government business and I don't have time to chat!" snapped Holy Auntie.
"And just what sort of 'government business' might you have?" enquired Chu Nyu.
"My children are in sudden danger and I want to go and rescue them, that's all!"
"What's the problem and how do you wish to rescue them from it?"
This old woman knows a bit of Daoist craft..."
"The practice of Dao is what I most love the most. Please tell me about it!" said the girl.
"Which school do you like best, young lady?"
"I favour the Laws of the Thirty-Six Transformations of of the Solar Winds of Heaven," replied the maiden. I know a bit of the basics but I'm far from well versed in it!"
Holy Auntie was terrified, realising that the girl's knowledge could beat her own. "My own practice," she answered, "is based on the properties of the Seventy-Two Transformations of Cold, Wet Earth."
"Craft based on those laws is evil heterodoxy and there's no benefit in learning it!" stated the maiden. "By the way, what kind of sword are you carrying?"
"A Divine Sword!" answered Holy Auntie. Here is a poem.
How well can that sword of yours cry out and leap about?" asked Chu Nyu. "Let me have a look, I beg you!"
Holy Auntie lifted a hand over the sheath and patted it three times, and all of a sudden there was heard a shriek as loud as the wail of a banshee and fierce as a the roar of an angry demon. And just as it cried it also leapt six feet up into the air, to return an instant later to its sheath.
"I too have got my own Holy Sword and I'll bring it out to show you!" said Chu Nyu. She then took a small lead pellet from her sleeve and twirled it twice in her palm, summoning up a frosty white sword twelve feet up in the air radiating beams of brilliance in all four directions to touch down as rainbows before all leaping back into her palm, once again just a little lump of lead.
"This sword of mine can fly a thousand li to behead someone and then return on its own!" proclaimed Chu Nyu. And what's more it can be stretched or folded and is capable of infinite transformations. It sure beats yours, doesn't it Grandma?"
"If I had that sword," thought Holy Auntie darkly, "how much easier it would be to behead Viceroy Wen!" And so she spoke up.
"I'll trade you my Divine Sword for your Holy Sword," she offered, "though I don't know if you'd seriously consider it..."
"Your wishes are my every command!" replied Chu Nyu, who received that spirit knife only only to find that when she uttered its charm and touched its holy brilliance it would neither shriek nor leap.
"The Divine Sword's power is harmed and the trade is off!" said Chu Nyu.
"Hey, what's going on here!" said Holy Auntie, taking back her sword and stroking the blade over and over, entirely without moving it to action.
"The Divine Sword yields to perfection," she then said. "It saw the superiority of that sword of yours and was shamed into hiding itself." Holy Auntie then followed up on her bad intentions and cast away her own sword, insisting on walking off with Chu Nyu's Holy Sword pellet.
"If you want to trade then let's trade!" shouted Chu Nyu. "But wait, because there's one little secret formula I have to show you!"
Holy Auntie didn't believe her. "I'll see about that myself!" she thought, twirling the little pellet and tossing it up into the air. At this point another pellet appeared in Chu Nyu's palm. The one that Holy Auntie had just thrown came down trailing a rainbow and bounced off of the ground, right up to join the other in Chu Nyu's palm faster than the old sorceress could see. They were female and male pellets; she had kept the female and given Holy Auntie the male. Holy Auntie realised that it was now missing and searched for it on the ground. She couldn't find it anywhere and when she looked up again Chu Nyu herself had disappeared!
Holy Auntie didn't get the Divine Sword after all and had now lost the Holy Sword as well; she had truly drawn a blank. Rising up to sit on a towering cloud she gazed around in the hope of spotting Chu Nyu, but instead she saw a white-haired old man sitting on a mountaintop rolling two little metal balls in his hand. Holy Auntie came down before the mountain and approached him.
"Old man!" she said. "What are you playing with in that palm of yours?"
"They're obviously just a pair of little pellets," said Holy Auntie. "How do you employ them?"
"Watch this old timer put them through their paces for you!" said the man. He then twirled and tossed them up and in a moment they began slithering and dancing like golden snakes, left and right, encircling Holy Auntie and following her every move while cutting into her very bones with a blast of bitingly cold wind and blasting her ears with the sound of myriad swords and knives clashing together, frightening her into the deepest of caution. She then summoned up a charm for escaping from soldiers, uttered it and was directly lifted up to stand in the Constellation of the God of Literature in Heaven.
Seeing that he had not been able to harm the woman the old hermit recovered the swords.
"My teacher Queen Xuan Nyu of Ninth Heaven!" he quietly called, and he then saw her standing as Chu Nyu right in front of him. Now as soon as she saw this Holy Auntie was furious. She put herself through a transformation, changing into a holy manifestation of the Puxian Bodhisattva riding upon a white elephant, coming down from the sky to trample Chu Nyu to death. But the maiden took the Palace of Heaven's Bright Treasure Mirror of Sorcery out of its embroidered sack and used it to beam forth a ray of light. A harmless papercutting of an elephant then came fluttering down from the sky.
Holy Auntie fell to earth unharmed, covering her head with her sleeves and closing her eyes tightly as she cried for mercy. Now, the original soul of everything in the universe is fixed in the memory of the Eye Spirit, and though you transform yourself countless times your true self never changes there. And as the Mirror of Heaven reflects back into the Eye Spirit's two pupils, Chu Nyu learnt how the fox spirit became a celestial fox after years of cultivation and all about her getting the stolen charms. Watching the maiden look at her past as if on a tapestry from Heaven's loom, Holy Auntie feared the worst and closed her eyes, holding up her wrists for binding.
Queen Xuan Nyu put away the mirror and notified Yuan Gong to escort Holy Auntie up to the Palace of Heaven so that he could clear his guilt of having leaked the charms. The ape went through the gate of Heaven, kowtowed before its high majestic hall and had just begun reporting when eighteen thousand celestial foxes poured out of the palace, kowtowing and offering to take responsibility for Holy Auntie's offenses. Hearing their howling for mercy on her behalf she finally opened her eyes, only to see the Jade Emperor before her. When she'd finally caught her breath she began to plead desperately.
The Jade Emperor then handed down his verdict, sparing Holy Auntie's life but ordering her held in Heaven's dungeon until the day when the sorcerer family would be conquered and Xuan Nyu would return triumphant. The assembled foxes then dispersed and Yuan Gong followed Queen Xuan Nyu back out of Heaven's gate.
Let's get back to another thread of the story. By this time Viceroy Wen had been surrounding Beizhou for over three months. At first Zuo Chu had raised funds for feed and provisions by robbing the countryside through sorcery, but now Queen Xuan Nyu had thrown her cosmic net over the town. Neither sorcerers nor their devious magic could get through it. She had also ordered all the statues of dieties and of course the city god to accept neither prayers nor commands from the sorcerers. Horesefeed was gone and the common folk were on the grimmest of rations; needless to say they suffered horribly. Zuo Chu and Hu Yong'r relied on their conjury and knew no shortages, continuing to enjoy life while waiting for Holy Auntie's return with the Divine Sword and to see the outcome it would bring. By this time she was in prison in Heaven, but not knowing this they silently waited for her.
Now let's rejoin Li Sui and Zhuge Suizhi commanding those five hundred troops with picks and shovels. After a while they had reached a position just left of the royal palace. Li Sui ordered the men to dig on through to the surface, and that they quickly did.
"Where are we?" they asked as Li Yugeng poked his head up for a look round.
"In the rear hall of the palace!" he replied. It was about the middle of the fourth watch, nearly six o'clock in the morning, and with Li Yugeng leading the way they all gave a great loud war whoop and advanced, breaking right into Wang Ze's sickroom.
Now, earlier that night Wang's teeth had ached unbearably as he lay on his bed. When he closed his his eyes he saw only Zhao Wuxia leading a hundred thousand angry spirits forward to claim his life. Unable to sleep and terrified, he asked for a few candles and commanded some concubines to cuddle him like living pillows. Still ill at ease, he forbade them from speaking; it was as if they were silently holding onto a living corpse. Suddenly the chamber was full of war cries and soldiers bursting in, frightening the concubines who quickly scattered leaving Wang Ze lying alone on the bed. Because his lip had been busted open and two front teeth knocked out he couldn't recite even those two saving charms he knew for forbidding people and hiding himself which were totally useless.
Li Sui came to the fore and told the men to tie him to a carrying pole with rope. They then broke into Hu Yong's chamber in the harem, only to see a wall of water with no way in. Zhuge Suizhi swung his bell pole and chanted a charm for the blocking of evil spirits, and in a flash the water was gone. Suddenly Li Sui heard a sound beneath the ball of his foot. Lifting it for a look he saw that it was a silver hairpin piercing the sole. It too was one of Hu Yong's curses. Anyway, Hu Yong'r and her Prince Wang Jun were frolicking in bed in the midst of a steamy sexual embrace and when the soldiers broke into her chamber she became disoriented, quickly pulling a scant garment over her nakedness and just remaining in bed. The soldiers hurriedly took aim and shot that mixture of pig and sheep blood fouled with horse urine and garlic all over them where they lay. Zhuge Suizhi also uttered a charm and with no course of action left Hu Yong'r and Wang Jun were quickly tied up.
Li Sui placed Wang Ze, Hu Yong'r and Wang Jun under guard in a sea of swords. His soldiers then set the palace afire. Now, due to Zhu Ge Suizhi's practice of his Daoist skills the people outside had no idea at all of what had happened. Wu Wahng became aware of the fire and thinking it accidental he led some of his men into the palace to put it out, only to encounter Li Yugeng and be pointed out to Li Sui. Wu and his confidants and guards were all tied up on the spot. Whether or not they were versed in sorcery they were all doused at the outset with that antidote of fouled sheep and pig blood, horse urine and garlic.
Viceroy Wen's grand army was outside the city preparing to render assistance when they saw smoke rising from inside the walls and knew that the tunnelling troops had attacked; they all raised their swords and advanced. The engineering troops who had remained in the tunnel also came forth. The government forces rounded up the rebels who had been holding the city and opened Beizhou's wall, lowering the drawbridge. Viceroy Wen quickly entered the city and proceeded directly to the royal palace, where he halted and ordered his men to put out the fire. Li Sui then came forth escorting Wang Ze, Hu Yong'r and the others under guard. Viceroy Wen ordered them taken to the old fort on a prisoners' transport wagon, to be held along with the previously captured rebel Ren Qian. He directed the vanguard leader Sun Fu to transport and guard them.
At that point Zhuge Suizhi led a detachment of troops to surround the rebel generals' compound in the hope of capturing Zuo Chu.
"Over here!" shouted a soldier just as they broke into the main hall, and they clearly spotted Quezi standing by a wall. Then in the twinkling of an eye he walked right on through it! They smashed down the wall but there wasn't a trace of him to be seen, and as they searched the premises a messenger from Adjutant Wang Xin's army arrived.
"Zuo Chu has been seen entering a family's rice husking room!" he relayed. "Master Zhuge's help is urgently needed to ferret him out!"
Now, Zuo Chu had made up his mind to flee but he couldn't escape that cosmic net that had been secretly thrown over the town. He wandered into that husking room and had already been spotted. Zhuge Suizhi led the men in a sudden dash over to that home husking room and entered. Wang Xin had already arrived and posted soldiers as guards all around while rushing in to try and take him.
"What's going on in my home to warrant all this commotion?" asked the frightened head of the household.
"The sorcerer Zuo Chu has run into your house!" shouted the troops. "Just hand him over as quickly as possible and you won't get dragged into it!"
"Honest, General!" pleaded the resident. "Nobody has come in or is hiding in my house!" Wang Xin directed the troops to search the place carefully, and when he looked in the husking room Zhuge Suizhi pointed out a pestle.
"Is this one of your family's possesions?" he asked the headman.
"We don't leave pestles lying around like that!" answered the man.
"Why, this really is Zuo Chu!" exclaimed Zhuge Suizhi. "Those are his spirit eyes at the top! Nobody can see them except for me. Quick, get the antidote and soak him!"
Before his words were even out of his mouth, however, that pestle had disappeared and search as they did there wasn't a trace of it to be found. Then suddenly from the blue sky above they heard rolling thunder and crashing as if a mighty mountain had collapsed and earth itself had split open. The soldiers all gasped in awe, and when Adjutant Wang went to look he found a male fox with one crippled hind leg lying on the ground, stricken dead. Zuo Chu had changed himself into that pestle hoping to deceive the soldiers and Zhuge as well. He reckoned he could hide himself for the time being and then take on the form of Zhuge Suizhi and kill Viceroy Wen, but his original form had been seen at once by Queen Xuan in the Treasure Mirror of Heaven. She blocked his change and ordered the Board of Thunder to shock him dead, in fulfillment of the pledge on the White Ape God's walls. After so many years living a charmed life as a crippled sorcerer poor Zuo Chu ends up one morning as a lifeless fox without a soul. Really, those who can use the limitless powers of the universe have a hard time avoiding the eternal fires of hell, and that's all there is to it.
Zhuge Suizhi knew at once that the dead fox had been Zuo Chu and recognized the work of Queen Xuan Nyu's divine power, and he was unsurpassably happy. He ordered the soldiers to carry the body in front of the palace gate, and Viceroy Wen and his generals all inspected it.
"If you hadn't rectified their evil by means of righteousness," said the Viceroy, "how could we have ever conquered the sorcerers' cult?"
"This all came about," whispered Zhuge Suizhi in the Viceroy's ear, "because the imperial court on earth acted righteously, purging the treacherous officials and returning good and wise men to office. That moved the Court of Heaven above to provide the help and blessings of Queen Xuan Nyu of Ninth Heaven. It was not my work."
Just as they were speaking a messenger arrived from vanguard commander Sun Fu, informing them that the criminal sorceress Hu Yong'r had moments before also been struck dead by a thunderbolt. It was becoming increasingly clear that the words of that pledge about not harming the people and warning of the unavoidable punishment from Heaven had by no means been empty.
Upon hearing that the two devil chiefs were dead Viceroy Wen felt relieved at last. He quickly posted signs to calm the townspeople, proclaiming that all non-sorcerer Beizhou soldiers giving their full cooperation would not face any criminal consequences. The beautiful wives taken from among the people by Wang Ze and Zuo Chu were returned to their original husbands where such were still present, or released to the care of their parents. As for the once wealthy families that had been robbed of everything, they were given the confiscated provisions of the rebel army as an immediate measure to alleviate poverty and hunger among the people. The entire city heartily rejoiced.
Click to continue to the conclusion of Chapter 40 and the end of the Ping Yao Zhuan, Table of Contents