Retelling Myths: The Great Battle Between the Three Disciples and the Bull Demon King (Beginning)
Finally, the next Retelling Myths is here!
As this is the month of the third anniversary of Retelling Myths, it is fitting that we have another short story based on Journey to the West, just like the very first Retelling Myths!
So, please enjoy…
The Great Battle Between the Three Disciples and the Bull Demon King (Beginning)
In an ancient land, full of mortals and demons, the monk Tang Sanzang journeys to the west to bring back a set of scared Buddhist scriptures for his homeland.
With him are his disciples, who also act as his protectors - all of whom were selected by the bodhisattva Guanyin.
Sun Wukong, the Monkey King and the self-proclaimed 'Great Sage, the Equal to Heaven', is the first of these disciples. Sealed for five hundred years under a mountain by the Buddha as punishment for his rebellion against Heaven, he now travels with the monk in exchange for his freedom after the journey is completed. Even so, the wise Guanyin saw fit to collar the Monkey King with a magical, golden headband - one which Tang Sanzang can use to control the powerful Sun Wukong by inducing painful headaches. Time will tell if this disciple learns anything from this journey.
Zhu Bajie, a pig-like monster, is the second of these disciples. A general exiled from Heaven for his lustful misbehaviour towards Chang'e, the moon goddess, he was sent to Earth for reincarnation. As further punishment, and reflective of his greedy and lustful nature, he was reincarnated into the his current, pig-like form. He joins the monk on this journey, in hopes of atoning for his sins and lifting his punishment - and so that he can get his good looks back, of course. Time will tell if this disciple can temper his gluttony.
Sha Wujing, a demon who dwelled in a river of sand, is the third of these disciples. Another exiled general from Heaven, he was punished for destroying a valuable artifact, and was reincarnated on Earth in his current form. The most dependable of Sanzang's disciples, he works towards achieving atonement and enlightenment. Time will tell if this disciple is successful.
Bailongma, the last of these disciples. A white dragon and son of one of the Dragon Kings. He was to be executed, after he had carelessly set fire to a part of the palace, which caused the destruction of a sacred pearl given to his family by the Jade Emperor. However, Guanyin pleaded for mercy on his behalf, and he was sent to Earth to aid Tang Sanzang as punishment and restitution. After failing to recognize the monk and eating the monk's horse as a result, he takes the form of a white horse to serve as the monk's loyal steed throughout their journey. Bailongma just means 'white dragon horse', and he has a real name - but, none of the others seem to remember this, unfortunately...
And so, as this unlikely band of characters journey to the west, they will be met with many trials and tribulations.
This story... is a story of one such ordeal.
Chapter 1: Then and Now
"Ha!" the Bull Demon King laughed boisterously, as one of my monkeys poured him some more wine.
He raised his cup towards me, "You have a great place here, Monkey King!"
I raised my cup in return and laughed, "That, I do!"
We both drank from our cups deeply.
"And the fruits!" he said, as he took a bite out of a juicy peach, "Mount Huaguo definitely earned its name - the Mountain of Flowers and Fruits indeed!"
Once again, we raised our cups to each other and drank deeply.
And our gathered forces cheered!
Under the moonlight, my monkeys and his bull demons celebrated our victory - together, we had fought off another group of demons, and had claimed their territory as ours!
"We make a good team," I said, smiling as I drank from my cup.
My fellow king laughed as he raised another fruit to his lips, "We do, we do!"
We looked at each other, and caught each other's attentions.
And a flash of brilliance struck the both of us!
"Should we...?" the Bull Demon King began.
"I think we should..." I said, following up on his thought.
"Then let's do it!" the Bull Demon King roared, joyously.
We clasped our hands together, as our followers looked at us in surprise.
"Hear us!" the Bull Demon King roared, "My fellow demons!"
"Under the moonlight," he continued, "in front of all of you, the two of us shall make a pact!"
The Bull Demon King turned to me.
Staring intently at me, he said, "Monkey King, let us be as brothers!"
I nodded, and proclaimed with him, "Bull Demon King, we shall be as brothers!"
We lifted our clasped hands into the air, and our followers cheered!
That night, the Bull Demon King and I had become sworn brothers.
"Stop!" I yelled, "Unhand my shifu!"
Ignoring me, the Bull Demon King continued his escape, carrying my unconscious shifu - my mentor - over his shoulder.
I gave chase on my Sommersault Cloud, quickly flying above the bull demons that had gotten in our way.
My fellow disciples would have to deal with them - I had to rescue our shifu!
Soon, I would be within reach of the Bull Demon King. There was no way that he could outrun-
Suddenly, an immortal sage with a giant fan descended from the skies and hovered between me and my target.
No... She might have looked like a sage, but my Eyes of Fire and Gold told me that this was a demon!
As I flew closer, I yelled out to the hovering demon, "Out of my way, I do not have time to deal with you!"
The demon's visage flickered as I drew closer. I squinted my eyes to focus.
She laughed and said, "And neither do I have the time to deal with you!"
Then, she waved her giant fan at me.
Suddenly, a giant gust of wind slammed into me and my cloud.
The mighty winds sent me flying and dispersed my Somersault Cloud!
"Da-shixiong!" one of my fellow disciples called out to me, his eldest brother disciple.
He jumped up and managed to catch me before I crashed into anything.
"Thank you, Wujing," I said to him, as we landed.
To the demon, I yelled, "Who are you?! Are you working with the Bull Demon King?!"
She looked at me and smirked, "I am Princess Iron Fan, and the Bull Demon King is my husband."
"Well, tell your husband to give Tang Sanzang back to us!" I yelled, "His sworn brother demands it!"
"Oh, your so-called brotherhood is of no use here," Iron Fan laughed, mockingly, "Not when immortality is at stake!"
"Soon," she said, "when the auspicious hour arrives, we shall dine on the monk Tang Sanzang's flesh and gain immortality!"
'That damned rumour again!' I thought to myself.
For some reason, a rumour had been circulated amongst the many demons of the land - that dining on the monk Tang Sanzang would grant them immense power and immortality.
While my shifu did, indeed, possess a great deal of spiritual energies, there was no proof that eating his flesh would grant the demons eternal life - or even any power at all.
And yet, demons still hounded him - and it seemed that my sworn brother was now one of those demons!
"Until then," Princess Iron Fan said, waving her hand to command her followers, "why don't you play with them?"
The bull demons resumed their attack on me and my fellow disciples, as she turned her back to us and began to fly away.
"Damn it!" I yelled, as I took out my Ruyi Jingu Bang and fought off a bull demon with the magical staff, "Get back here!"
'Bull Demon King...' I thought to myself, as we fought off the army, 'are we not as brothers anymore?!'
Chapter 2: Tracking
My fellow disciples and I had managed to fight off the bull demons.
Or, perhaps, they were just buying time before they retreated.
Either way, we began to follow their tracks, hoping to find and rescue our shifu, and we found ourselves making our way through a dense forest.
A forest that was getting hotter and hotter, the further that we trekked through it.
Behind me, Bailongma neighed.
"Oh, don't complain!" Bajie said, as he directed the horse with the reins.
"It is getting quite hot though, er-shixiong," Wujing said to Bajie, his second elder brother disciple.
"Well, we're all hot!" Bajie replied, "And one more neigh isn't going to make it any less hot!"
"Shidi, all of you!" I said, addressing my younger brother disciples, "Now is not the time to argue!"
Bajie grumbled, while Wujing bowed his head in deference.
"Wukong-shixiong," Bajie said to me, "Why don't you scout ahead with your Somersault Cloud? Maybe find a place where we can rest!"
"Bajie," I said, almost scolding him, "You know that it takes time for my Somersault Cloud to reform if it gets dispersed like that!"
"Alright, alright," Bajie said, falling back in line.
After a while, feeling a little bit guilty, I said, "Look, Bajie-"
"Shixiong, look!" Wujing called out to the both of us, "I can see the end of the forest!"
"Oh ho! What are we waiting for?" Bajie said, happily, "Let's get out of this hot and humid forest!"
We rushed out of the forest, hoping to finally get out of the heat.
But, as we left the forest, we were greeted with an even more scorching sight.
For in front of us, was a mountain in flames.
Chapter 3: The Flaming Mountains
"I can't believe that we're walking towards the fire!" Bajie complained, as we trekked through what was now the desert.
"The tracks that were left behind by the bull demons point this way, er-shixiong," Wujing said, "We have no choice, if we want to rescue our shifu."
"Look ahead!" I said to my two shidi, "A village that we can rest at!"
"Oh, finally!" Bajie exclaimed, as he quickened his pace, "Let's hurry!"
I chuckled - if there was rest or food to be had, Bajie would work extra hard just to get it quicker.
We had made our way into the village.
It was a desolate village, with ruined buildings and barely any villagers around.
Those that were still around were in a state of malnourishment and thirst.
Wujing and I walked up to one of the villagers - an elderly man.
"Are you alright?" Wujing asked, as he helped the elderly man up, "What happened here?"
"Oh, thank you, good monk," the elderly man said, "Though you are a strange looking lot for monks."
"Just tell us what happened, old man!" Bajie said, catching up.
"My apologies," the elderly man replied, "You see, our village has been beset by a terrible drought for many months now - a drought caused by the Flaming Mountains!"
"Why are you still here then?" Bajie asked, "Just leave!"
"If only we could," the old man replied, "Those of us who could leave, have already left - there's only the sick and elderly like me left now, and the fools who stayed behind because they couldn't leave their loved ones to die."
"Why?" he said, "Why has our god abandoned us?"
"Your god?" I asked.
"Yes, our god, Princess Iron Fan," he said, "Once a year, we would offer her some of the fruits of our harvest, and she would use her magical fan - the Banana Leaf Fan - to quell the fires of the Flaming Mountains for a year."
"But this year," he continued, "she did not show."
"And without warning, the fires of the Flaming Mountains erupted, raging as if releasing all of its anger upon us," he said, "And now, no crops can be grown anymore and the nearby lakes have dried up."
"How horrible," Wujing said.
He began to take some of the food and water that we had out of the travel sacks on Bailongma.
"Hey!" Bajie said, stopping Wujing, "What are you doing?"
"Er-shixiong," Wujing said, "These people need our help."
Bajie protested, "But-"
I interrupted, "It's what shifu would have done."
Bajie looked at me and Wujing.
Reluctantly, he stepped aside, "Fine..."
"Hmmm," I said, "These tracks seem to indicate that the bull demons retreated into the Flaming Mountains."
We were now on the outskirts of the village, looking at the desert and the fiery mountains in front of us.
"In the middle of all that fire and heat?" Bajie said, "How?!"
"If Princess Iron Fan is working with the Bull Demon King," I said, "then it's possible that she is controlling the flames with her powers over the wind. That way, their minions could be let in and out of whatever lair they have built there."
"Then how will we get inside?" Wujing asked.
"Hmmm," I said again.
"Well, first, let's get some help!" I responded, as I took out my Ruyi Jingu Bang that was tucked behind my ear.
I tossed my magical staff into the air, and it grew from the size of a needle to the size of a proper staff.
Catching my Ruyi Bang, I then slammed it into the ground and yelled, "Come out, god of the local land! The Great Sage, the Equal to Heaven, summons you!"
A moment passed.
"Ow..." a voice from beneath the ground said.
The local land god, a tudishen, rose from the earth.
Rubbing his head, the local land god bowed, "Welcome, Great Sage, the Monkey King, the-"
"You don't have to go through all of my titles," I said, as I shrunk the Gold-Banded Staff of Will back into the size of a needle and tucked it behind my ear, "But tell me, god of this local land..."
"How could you just let that mountain stay aflame without doing anything about it?!" I yelled.
The local land god jumped back in shock. Bowing deeply, he said, "Oh, please forgive me, Great Sage!"
"But there was nothing that I could do!" he said, "For these fires are too powerful for me!"
"They're not natural?" I asked.
"No, they aren't!" he said, "You see, several centuries ago, someone had knocked Laozi's crucible out of Heaven, and the fires that were raging within caused the mountains to be set aflame!"
"Oh?" I said, "And who was this scoundrel that..."
Wait..., Laozi's crucible in Heaven?
Wasn't that where I had gained my Eyes of Fire and Gold after being trapped in it during my rampage in Heaven?
And after escaping, didn't I kick that crucible away in anger?
I looked at the fires of the Flaming Mountains.
And as the realization dawned on me, all I could say was, "I did this?"
Chapter 4: Into the Flames
"It was you?!" Bajie exclaimed, "You were the one who set the mountains on fire?!"
"I..." I began, unsure of what to say, "I didn't..."
"And to think," Bajie continued, "all of this-"
"Er-shixiong," Wujing said, interrupting Bajie with his calm demeanor, "Don't be too hard on da-shixiong. We've all made mistakes in the past - that is why we're all here on this journey, after all."
"What matters now," Wujing continued, "is rescuing our shifu."
Bajie raised his finger, about to argue some more.
But, he relented.
Grumbling, he instead said, "Alright, fine. What do we do now?"
I nodded to both of my shidi, "Thank you."
"You're right, Wujing," I said. Turning to the local land god, I asked, "As the god of this land, you must know where the bull demons have been hiding."
He nodded, "Yes, I can show you the entrance to their lair."
I nodded back, "Please do."
"And here is where I bid you good luck and good bye," the local land god said, as he disappeared back into the ground, "Please, defeat these demons!"
"Thank you," I said, "We will!"
The three of us turned our attention to the entrance of the mountain-side cave that the bull demons had made their lair.
"Of course, it's covered with fire!" Bajie complained, as he examined the flames blocking our way.
"Hmmm," I said, "and these fires are too hot and too thick for us to charge through them. We'll be badly hurt if we do that!"
"Da-shixiong, er-shixiong," Wujing said, "I have an idea."
"Although I don't like this form," he said, "I am still a sand demon... And it just so happens that we're in the desert!"
"Ah, I see," I said, "Get ready, Bajie!"
Bajie shook his head, and picked up his weapon from Bailongma, "I can't believe we're doing this..."
Wujing closed his eyes and concentrated.
Then, he opened them. And with his powers, he moved a huge amount of sand from the desert onto the fires covering the entrance.
"Now," I yelled, as I charged through the entrance.
Bajie quickly followed me through.
"Shixiong!" we heard Wujing yell from behind us.
We turned around and looked, just in time to see the fires burst out from beneath the sand, covering the entrance again and cutting us off from our shidi.
But we did not have time to ponder our situation.
The sound of someone clapping echoed throughout the cave entrance.
"And I was wondering how you were planning on getting in," a voice called out to us, "Very impressive!"
"But," the voice continued, "You won't be going in any further!"
A figure walked out and approached us.
And before us stood... a child dressed in red?
Chapter 5: The Red Child
From outside, Wujing called out to us, "Shixiong! Both of you, please be careful!"
Though he could not get to us, Wujing could still catch glimpses of us through the fires, and vice versa.
"Aww," Bajie said, mockingly, as he approached the child, "And who might you be, little boy?"
"Don't mock me, pig!" the child in red said, angrily, "I am the Red Child! Son of the Bull Demon King and Princess Iron Fan! Protector of the Flaming Mountains and wielder of the True Flames of Samadhi!"
"The True Flames of Samadhi?" Bajie snorted, as he got closer to the Red Child, "What's that supposed to be?"
The Red Child inhaled, and answered Bajie by shooting out a torrent of flames from his mouth!
Bajie yelled in pain.
He dropped onto the ground and tried to put out the fires that had caught on to his clothes.
I hurried over to help him.
Bajie panted as we managed to put out flames, "T-Thank you, shixiong."
The Red Child laughed, "Now do you see what I can do?"
Bajie picked up his weapon and stood up.
Glaring at the Red Child, he said, "Why, you..."
The Red Child laughed again, "Looks like we'll be having roasted pig along with the monk!"
Bajie charged at the Red Child, with his Nine-Toothed Spiked-Rake ready to strike.
"Wait!" I yelled.
The two of them stopped.
"What, shixiong?!" Bajie said, "We have to get past this kid, so that we can get to our shifu!"
"I know, Bajie, I know," I said. Turning to the Red Child, I continued, "I am the Monkey King - surely, your father, the Bull Demon King, would have mentioned me? We are sworn brothers!"
"Yes, he has mentioned you," the child replied, "What of it?"
"Well, then, why don't you let us talk to him?" I said, "Surely, he'll want to see me - after all, that's my shifu that he has!"
"Ha!" the Red Child exclaimed, "You think your words have any power over my father? Not when it was my mother who wanted the monk!"
"Though..." he tilted his head quizzically, "mother has been acting a bit strange lately..."
He shook his head, "Ah, no matter, now is not the time!"
Without warning, he began to inhale again.
Quickly, I took out my Ruyi Bang and enlarged it to its regular size.
The Red Child exhaled, shooting out another torrent of flames at us.
I dodged to the side and concentrated.
At my will, the Ruyi Bang elongated, and one of its gold-banded ends bolted towards the Red Child.
The end of my staff struck him and slammed him into the side of the cave.
I concentrated again, and my staff began to retract, the end that had struck the Red Child coming back to me.
"Now, child," I said, "Why don't you-"
The Red Child stood up, and glared at us.
Then, he screamed.
Suddenly, his entire body with engulfed in flames!
"You'll pay for that!" he cried.
Then, he charged at us.
Chapter 6: Through the Flames Once More
Bajie and I fought against the Red Child.
But, we were not doing well.
Between the heat of the Flaming Mountains and the fires from the Red Child, our stamina was wearing thin.
And we could barely even approach the flame-covered child, let alone strike him!
"Da-shixiong, er-shixiong!" Wujing's voice suddenly called out to us, "Get him outside if you can!"
"What for?!" Bajie yelled back.
"We have a plan!" was Wujing's response.
Bajie and I looked at each other.
"Alright!" I yelled back.
Quietly, I said to Bajie, "Send him back into me!"
Bajie looked at me, "Wha-"
Without answering, I jumped over the Red Child.
Plucking out a few of my hairs, I blew them towards the child.
Looking confused, the Red Child began to say, "What are you-"
Surprising him, my hairs became copies of myself and began to charge at him.
"What a cheap trick!" the Red Child yelled, as he fought off my duplicates using his fires.
"Now, Bajie!" I yelled out.
"Oh!" Bajie said, realizing what I had meant.
Using his rake, Bajie hit the side of the cave, causing large pieces of the wall to come apart.
Then, scooping those pieces of rock up with his rake, he tossed them at the Red Child.
And just as the Red Child had finished destroying the last of my duplicates, the heavy rocks slammed into him - sending him flying back towards me.
Seizing the chance, I prepared to elongate my-
In the air, the Red Child threw a fireball at me.
"Damn it!" I yelled.
I dodged the fireball and jumped at the Red Child.
Anything else, and he might have been able to dodge or parry it.
No, I had to do this myself.
I grappled the Red Child, and we both flew out of the cave.
Chapter 7: Retreat
We crashed into the ground outside of the cave, landing away from each other.
"Shixiong!" I could hear Bajie yelling, on the other side of the fire, "Damn it, the flames are too hot!"
My body seared with pain - from both the Red Child's fire and the flames guarding the cave entrance.
"I'll get you for this!" the Red Child yelled.
From his mouth, he shot out another torrent of flames at me.
Suddenly, a wall of sand shot out from the ground in front of me, blocking the flames.
Wujing hurried over to me, "Shixiong, you made it!"
Using his powers, he quickly used more sand to help put out the fires that were still burning on me and my clothes.
"We need to retreat," Wujing said, as he helped me up.
I shook my head, "We can't! Bajie is still in there!"
"Trust me, shixiong," Wujing said, "Please, follow my lead."
The fire burst through the sand wall, and we both jumped back.
"Shixiong," Wujing yelled out at me, "we must retreat! We can't let Red Child find our secret weapon!"
"Secret weapon?!" the Red Child exclaimed.
"Y-You're right!" I said, confused but playing along.
And with that, I quickly followed Wujing as we retreated.
Chapter 8: The Lotus Throne
"You really think that this will work?" I asked.
Wujing nodded, "I think so. After all, this was her plan."
We turned to the bodhisattva Guanyin, the one who had first started us off on this journey and the one who had now unexpectedly shown up to help us.
She nodded and placed her finger on her lips, signalling to us to be quiet.
We watched from behind the large boulders as the Red Child, no longer on fire, wandered in.
"Ow... That damn monkey and that damn pig..." he said, "I didn't think that they could hurt me so much..."
"Where could they have-"
The Red Child was startled - he had finally noticed the lotus throne that was in the middle of the giant rocks in the mountain.
"Hmmm," the Red Child said, as he examined the object in front of him, "A lotus throne? Just like the ones that buddhas and bodhisattvas sit on?"
The Red Child smirked, "Well then, it's a fine place for one as mighty as me to rest on!"
He laughed as he jumped onto the lotus throne, and sat down cross-legged.
"Just like Guanyin!" he said, giggling to himself.
Suddenly, swords sprung up from the seat of the lotus throne, stabbing through the Red Child.
He screamed in pain.
"Like who now?" Guanyin said, as she walked out with us from behind the boulders.
"G-Guanyin!" the Red Child said, "I didn't mean any offence!"
"Please!" he said, struggling in pain, "Let me go!"
"Only if you agree to repent." Guanyin replied.
"I will!" the Red Child said, "Just tell me how!"
"First, you must help Wukong and the others get into the Bull Demon King's lair," the bodhisattva said, "Then, you must become my disciple."
"Help them?! Become your disciple?!" the Red Child exclaimed, "Never!"
"Oh..." Guanyin said, feigning disappointment, "Alright."
"Come," she said to us, "We'll just have to find another way to help Tang Sanzang."
"W-Wait!" the Red Child yelled, as he struggled.
"Hm?" Guanyin said, as she turned away from him, "I'm sorry, I'm afraid that I do not have time for someone unrepentant right now. Perhaps after-"
"Alright, alright!" the Red Child yelled, "I'll do it! I'll do it!"
Guanyin smiled as she turned back to the child.
"Good," she said.
And the swords on the lotus throne disappeared.
Chapter 9: Into the Lair
"I bid you good luck," Guanyin said, as she and Red Child ascended into the sky.
"Thank you!" we said, waving goodbye.
As the two flew up, the Red Child stuck his tongue out at us before they disappeared.
We had finally reunited with Bajie, after the Red Child had used his powers to put out the flames covering the cave entrance for us.
"It is fortunate that Guanyin was able to help us," Wujing said.
I nodded, "Indeed!"
"Why did she show up anyways?" I asked.
Wujing looked at me, puzzled, "I am unsure myself, da-shixiong. All I know is that she showed up to help us, while I was trying to figure out what to do."
From behind us, Bailongma neighed, as if he had something to say.
But, before anything else could happen, Bajie interrupted, "It's too hot here! Let's hurry up and rescue shifu!"
"He's right," I said, "We can't waste any more time!"
And so, leaving our horse at the entrance, we hurried into the Bull Demon King's lair.
No commentary this time - I’ll do an overall commentary for both parts after the conclusion is released!
Hope you all enjoyed this story, and look forward to the conclusion!
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