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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Peach Blossom Girl Dueling Magic - Chapter 16 Final

Copyright © 2010 - Jeff Loh. All rights reserved

Peach Blossom Girl Dueling Magic

Chapter 16 – Final

In The Battle Of Wits, Blurry Is The Demarcation As Ying And Yang Fights1,
Finally In Enlightenment, Two Saints Return To Their Proper Places.

As Pang Jian detected a waft of fragrance, he followed Peach Blossom’s instructions of using three wooden stakes to knock at the great doors thrice, all the while yelling out her name,

“Peach Blossom!”

Then with his right foot he quickly kicked opened the doors with a great sound of “Wah!” coming from him. Meanwhile inside the house, the corpse of Peach Blossom Girl was being carried out of the bed chamber. Lord Chou’s heart was filled with glee. Smirking, he hurried from the rear and ordered,

“Quickly put the corpse into the coffin!”

Peach Blossom’s soul was blocked by the Black Malignancy and was prevented from entering into her body through her orifices. When the Black Malignancy was startled by the sudden crashing of the main doors, Peach Blossom Girl’s soul at that moment of distraction quickly slipped into her corpse. As her vitality regained to full strength, she quickly jumped up and stood erect. The Six Gods of Ding and the Six Gods of Jia15-2 departed in a flash of light and returned to their proper places when they saw the Peach Fairy returned to life.

All the people were stiffened by fright on seeing Peach Blossom Girl’s corpse suddenly jump up into an upright position. Chaos and pandemonium ensued, with everyone running away quickly screaming,

“Oh my God!”13-4

Peach Blossom Girl glared menacing with her almond- shaped eyes at Lord Chou who was standing in a corridor. Great anger filled the depths of her heart and in a loud voice she berated,

“Chou Chien! We don’t have any reason to avenge for the deaths of our fathers. So why use such a venomous way to kill me? What can you do to me now?”

Lord Chou was goaded from embarrassment to anger when suddenly he lunged at Peach Blossom Girl with his Big Dipper Sword. Peach Blossom Girl quickly stepped back and muttered a counter control spell at the Black Malignancy. As she waved her two long sleeves at Lord Chou, she gave a great laugh. The Black Malignancy turned and leapt at Lord Chou instead. Even with his great powers, Lord Chou did not expect such a sudden turn of events. He was too late in evading the Black Malignancy…

“Aiyah”

And the sound of the Big Dipper Sword was heard clanging on the ground. As Lord Chou fell, he tried to mutter the incantation of returning the Black Malignancy but of no avail. He did not foresee the tricks hidden in Peach Blossom Girl’s sleeves and in this round he smacked right into the Black Malignancy and died instantaneously. This is really,

Play with fire you’ll get burnt,
In harming others you’ll harm yourself first.
Alas, all people in this world,
How many can understand this simple truth.

As Lord Chou dropped to the ground his face turned purple and his lips became green. Nary was a breath left in his mouth. All present were stunned into a stupor until women big and small cried out in pain,

“Our master must have been harmed by the evil magic of Miss Ren Peach Blossom. Don’t let her go! Quickly we must bring her before Grand Tutor Wen2 for justice!”

All this while Miss Heavenly Fragrance was moping in her room as her father had forbade her to speak of any leniency for Peach Blossom.

Peach Blossom Girl laughed lackadaisically at the women’s mutterings and icily she taunted them,

“Chou Chien tried to harm others but in the end, he was killed instead. All his fault! I’ll stand here and see what you all can do to me?”

In the meantime, Pang Jian had completed his mission and went inside in great haste. There were sobs and cries all over the place and he grew frightened. Hastening himself and in about three to five steps he was in the inner apartments. All he saw was chaos and everyone rambled in discussion. So confused he was until he espied Peach Blossom Girl standing tall in cold laughter that he went up to her in a congratulatory mood,

“My benefactress little sister, today all should be joyful in seeing you well and alive…”

But before he could finish his sentence, a crowd surrounded him and admonished,

“Old Master has been killed by this Peach Blossom Girl. Why all this small talk with her?”

Pang Jian was dumbfounded and quickly asked,

“Really?”

The crowd pointed over his shoulder and said,

“Can’t you see what’s over there?”

Pang Jian lifted his head and saw that Lord Chou had fallen to the ground. Quickly he put out his hand to feel Lord Chou’s nostrils. Indeed there was no breath. Pang Jian started to cry.

The crowd pushed,

“Already dead, no use crying. Must have a solution!”

Pang Jian stopped his cries and shouted at them,

“What solution? Yesterday he tried to harm others. First he had his own daughter killed and who saved her? It was the one he intended to harm. Still our master did not realize his error of his ways. Now it is his turn. Who’s to save him now?”

Pang Jian turned and knelt on the ground begging,

“My benefactress little sister, please have great pity and compassion to save a life. We all will be bounded in endless gratitude to you!”

Peach Blossom Girl propped Pang Jian up and counseled,

“Elder brother, don’t be like this. All these people here wanted to take me to Grand Tutor Wen’s place for justice. Beckon him here and I’m still not afraid!”

Pang Jian replied,

“We’re foolish people, my benefactress little sister, please give Pang Jian some thin face3. It’s best to save a life.”

The crowd too knelt down and pleaded aloud,

“Miss Ren, if you can save our Lord, all of us shall be in your gratitude for ten thousand generations!”

As Peach Blossom Girl saw them on their knees pleading in earnest and also to demonstrate her powers, she gave a partial smile and taunted,

“Oh ho, so now you are all not going to take me to see Grand Tutor Wen? I shall accede to Brother Pang’s golden face. No choice but I shall try to make an effort!”

The crowd began knocking their heads to the ground as she spoke and asked,

“How? Please instruct us!”

Peach Blossom Girl laughed coldly,

“Go and do as I had instructed you before about bringing me back to life. This time just shout out ‘Buddhist monk knife!’ instead and he will stir.”

Pang Jian asked,

“Why not call the master’s name but ‘Buddhist monk knife’?”

Peach Blossom Girl replied,

“This is the secret of Heaven, how would ye know? Go quickly and do as I had instructed! You’ll see your master return to life and witness my power!”

Pang Jian dared not question any further but went back to the main doors and did exactly as before, kicking at it while shouting out loud,

“Buddhist monk knife!”

Right then the soul of Lord Chou became enlightened, turned to face the corpse and jumped into it. Immediately Lord Chou regained consciousness and leapt up. Right before his eyes, was his arch nemesis, Peach Blossom Girl. Both became bloodshot with enmity. Quickly he reached for his Big Dipper Sword and lunged at Peach Blossom Girl shouting,

“Bitch! Don’t leave! You dare use the Arts of Malignancy to harm me? If I don’t destroy you today, a man I shall be no more!”

Peach Blossom girl unhurriedly took out her as-you-wish peach branch from her pouch and transformed it into a precious sword to parry, berating him at the same time,

“Chou Chien, you ingrate! Instead of thanking me for saving your life, you dare to harm me?”

With that another fearsome stroke of his sword come bearing down upon her. Peach Blossom Girl dodged away and with lightning speed her Peach Blossom Sword came thrusting at Lord Chou. One Ying, one Yang began their battle in the great hall.

On seeing how events were unfurling, Pang Jian cried,

“Mercy me!”

How can Pang Jian stop the fight with no weapon in hand? Quickly he ran to inform Miss Heavenly Fragrance who fainted dead right away. Then he ran to inform the Ren household…

Through the great doors and into the courtyard, Lord Chou and Peach Blossom Girl fought in a life-and-death manner. Unable to unleash their full power in such a small area they had no choice but to mount onto clouds and continue their duel in mid air. He came with a thrust and she went with a parry. Both parties assailed each other without mercy.

By now Ren Tai Kung had arrived at the Chou residence. Heavenly Fragrance came out to meet him and gave him an account of what had transpired. She could not help herself but break down in sorrowful sobs. Espying the sky they saw two persons mounted on colorful clouds locked in a deadly battle. Soon they drifted out of sight. The sound of deafening cries of a daughter for his father went unheeded – later, Ren Tai Kung and wife knew their daughter had returned to her proper divine station in heaven and heard how she resembled Peach Blossom Girl that the two old biddies took pity on Heavenly Fragrance. Using Pang Jian as intermediary they adopted her as their own. On her part she saw her father had been apotheosized and because she had lost her mother at an early age now without anyone to depend on and because of her friendship with Peach Blossom Girl, she agreed to the two old biddies’ grand gesture. She went over to the Ren household the next day to pay the proper respects to Ren Tai Kung and wife and became their companion. All affairs in Lord Chou’s household were left in charge to Pang Jian. These are later events.

Turning to the battling duo, the more they fought with each other, the more they were energized; demonstrating their powers and causing winds to turn into gales howling away. As thunder cracked, it caused great alarm to the Divine Sentries of Heaven. With each round, they battled with greater intensity and were approaching the vicinity of the Northern Gate of Heaven. The concerned Divine Sentries quickly reported the fighting to the Dark Warrior Emperor of the North. Upon opening his all-seeing and all-knowing eyes, all were seen and became known. The Tortoise and Snake Warriors were dispatched to bring the fighting duo before him.

Upon receiving their orders, the Snake and Tortoise Warriors blocked the way of the fighters and shouted in a booming voice,

“Cease all at once! By ye imperial orders of his most high Emperor! Ye are ordered to appear before his Holiness! Disobey and be whipped down from your clouds by these Celestial Lashers!”

The dueling duo heard the imperial Edict; they had no choice but to put away their weapons and followed the Snake and Tortoise Warriors into the August Halls of His Holiness. They fell on their knees and after making their obeisance, another Jade Edict came,

“Both ye belong to the world of immortals, for what reason must ye destroy each other? Chou Chien you are the reincarnation of the as-you-wish Buddhist Monk Knife and as a divine attendant boy, instead of following orders of watching the Eight Trigrams in the Tushita Palace, you secretly stole down to earth to divulge heavenly secrets causing Peach Blossom Girl to descend to the mortal world as well. Peach Blossom Girl is originally the scabbard for ye. Both of your natures are one and the same. Deviate not from this path! It is time now that your bodies of flesh and blood shall return to heaven. Here, a golden pill for each of you.”

They were ordered to swallow the pill and the Edict continued,

“Now that ye had partaken of the pills, ye will feel strange at first. If the pill does not dissolve in thy bellies within three quarters of an hour even indestructible bodies will putrefy into pools of pus!”

When the pronouncement was done a Seven Star4 Pennant was unfurled and the two were wrapped inside it. At Mt. Wudang5 they became the Chou and Peach Marshals. With a divine light they were forced apart to stand erect at the right and left sides. His Holiness then waved the Seven Star Pennant continuously for seven times and with a divine breath blew at the two Marshals who then took their divine light away and had their flesh and blood bodies returned to their proper places.

That very night, Taoist priest Yeh of the Mt. Wudang had a dream. In his dream he saw two Marshals askng him to relay letters to their familes. When he woke up and came into the main hall, he saw two extra divine Marshals standing in the temple hall; each emanating in a blinding light of divinity. The priest was taken aback. At their feet were two letters and with addressees clearly written on the envelopes. He quickly took them but dared not open them. The very next day he made his obeisance to the Dark Warrior Emperor of the North and the two golden bodies of the Marshals before traveling to the city of Morning Song. He located Lord Chou’s residence without difficulty and explained his presence to the gatekeeper who in turn reported to Pang Jian immediately, handing the letter to him when he came out. The priest was thanked with a reception for his troubles. Afterwards, Pang Jian went with the priest to see Ren Tai Kung, his wife and Miss Heavenly Fragrance. Each of them tore off the envelope of their respective letters to see the messages. Nothing much was said except for the need of the two families to be in harmony, words of consolation, that they had been apotheosized and that their divinity will never vanish.

After some time, together with Priest Yeh, they travelled to Mt. Wudang to offer incense. They made obeisance first to the Dark Warrior Emperor of the North before coming before the Marshals. Their golden countenance and facial appearance looked exactly the same as when they were mortals. After prayers were offered, they gave the priest a hundred taels of gold as expenses for offerings made to the two Marshals. With that they left for their homes. Very soon the news of these two new Marshals began to spread and reached the ears of the imperial court at Morning Song. Every official was in awe and many prayed to the Marshals in earnest as their prayers were answered. Two poems attest to this story:

Poem 1:

What you do, Heaven knows,
Speak not of reasons for your grievances.
The good and wicked will get their just rewards,
Able to lift your head three feet high you’ll get the respect from the Gods.

Poem 2:

Ten thousand things all planned by Heaven,
When the time comes, all planning by mortals go to waste.
Human greed never sated, like the snake trying to swallow the elephant6
Learn from the Sages with all one’s heart.
Except for wishful thinking none a cure for dissatisfaction,
The only thing money cannot buy is to become a God.
One can only sigh at the harshness of this world,
No matter how wicked it is, resolve is in my heart never to do evil.

18 Nov 2010

NOTES:

1. The lines of the Ying and Yang are clearly defined and marked. It describes how furious the battle must be in order for these two primal forces to collude into blurriness.

2. Grand Tutor Wen 聞太師 was the teacher to evil King Chou (紂王) of the Shang Dynasty. Finally we have confirmation of when the story took place. In the beginning, all we know was that the King of the Shang Dynasty was not too virtuous a ruler but the text did not identify him. Since the Grand Tutor is living in the city, we can safely assume that he had not been ordered to quell the rebellion in the North Sea when the Nine Tail Vixen came to befuddle the King and cause the demise of the dynasty. For more information see the “Tale of the Investiture of Gods” - 封神演義. I was stumped for over 20 years in trying to translate a term in a poem in the first chapter until the event of the Internet. Then again I was stuck in trying to find information on another obscure reference with no success. Hopefully I will be able to do so after this experience in translating this story. There is already an English translation but it omits out all the poems and explanations. . I didn’t think it was a scholarly piece of work.

3. This face giving or saving is an Asian cultural aspect that is beyond the scope of discussion in these mere footnotes. For more info please see

http://blog.pacificdelighttours.com/pacificdelighttoursblog/bid/27090/Giving-Face-China-s-greatest-cultural-mystery
http://www.chinaholidays.com/guide/chinese-culture/common-etiquette.html
http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/2498-face-what-is-it/

4. The seven stars representing the Big Dipper.

5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wudang_Mountains

In the movie, Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon, this is the place where the heroine committed suicide by leaping to her death off the cliffs. This is also the place where the famous Golden Hall is located; one part of the Supreme Harmony Temple (太和宫). Built entirely of gilded copper with an incredible 20 tons of fine copper and 300 kilograms of gold, the hall is one of the biggest gilded copper temples in China.

Original Text

桃花女陰陽鬥傳 第十六回

困名疆陰陽鬥智
識本來二聖還原

當時彭剪一聞香風一陣,即依桃花女吩咐之法,用三根木杖向大門連打三下,高叫一聲“桃花女!”忙把右腳一起,踢了一下,“嘩”把大門一開。內邊把桃花女的屍骸,剛剛被人抬起,出了房門。周公心中甚是喜歡,跟在後面催著:“快些抬去好入殮!”只因桃花女的靈魂被凶煞守住,不能入竅,今彭剪一敲大門,早驚了凶煞一退,桃花女的魂魄已得撲入屍骸,精神歸了本位。一個翻身看著地下站起。六丁六甲神祗見仙子回陽,一陣亮光,早已回天復位而去。

只有眾家丁、使女見桃花小姐登時起身,唬得大驚小怪,一齊東跑西奔,道:“不好了!”亂成一塊。桃花女一睜杏眼,見周公就在那廂,心中著惱,道:“周乾!我與你並無殺父深仇,何忍下此毒手,是必要治死我?今日又如何奈我的?”周公聞言,又羞又惱,便挺手中天罡劍,來取桃花女。

這桃花女忙念勾煞反制的神咒,退後一步,兩袖高揚,向周公一摔,長笑一聲,凶煞便反撲周公,是出其不意,他縱有法力,也來不及,當此“哎喲”一聲,天罡劍拋在地下,咕咚一交,倒跌在地下,法名回煞。周公不知袖裡的變化,被這回煞一沖,反傷了自己的性命。正是:  

惹火自燒身,
害人先害己。
可嘆世上人,
多不想此理。

周公一刻撲倒於地,面紫唇青,口中已無一息之氣了。合家眾人無不著忙,婦女大小放聲悲切,皆言:“公爺必被任桃花用邪法所傷,休要放走了!拿他到聞太師府中去!”  

此時天香小姐因見父親不准他講情,哭得哀哀切切,回歸自己房去了。桃花女聽了眾人之言,徐徐冷笑曰:“周乾害人不死,反自損命,是他自取之禍也!我在此處,看你們怎樣拿法?”又說彭剪作完了事,飛奔進內,忽聽得哭泣之聲,心下大驚,三五步跑至內堂,只見眾人亂紛紛的,不知嘈雜什麼。只見桃花女站在那裡冷笑,即忙上前呼喚:“恩妹今日人人喜得你不死……”,說話還未完,眾人即便上前圍住,說道:“公爺已被桃花女制治死了,還與他說什麼閒話?”彭剪聽了駭然,忙問道:“果是否?”眾人指上首曰:“那面你看是否?”彭剪抬頭一看,見周公身倒地中,去用手一抹,口中無氣。便放聲哭泣起來。眾人解勸曰:“既死,不必哭了,還須出個主意!”彭剪止了哭,言道:“出什麼主意?他前日要害人,今日又要害人,先把自己女兒害死,又得被害之人救活了,他又不知醒悟。今日輪到自己,還求那個?”只得翻身向桃花女,跪在他跟前呼:“恩妹,你今再發慈悲之心救活,眾人感恩不淺!”桃花女忙把彭剪扶起,道:“兄長不必如此,眾人竟要拿我去聞太師處。你們即請聞太師到來,我也不怕!”彭剪曰: “他們俱是愚人。恩妹看彭剪的薄面,搭救才好。”說罷,又要跪下去。眾人也便一齊跪下,高叫:“任小姐,若肯救活公爺,我等感恩萬代!”

桃花女一來被眾人哀求不過,二來要顯他手段,他便微笑道:“你們今不拿我麼?且看彭哥哥金臉,我勉作也!”眾人一齊叩頭道:“請問小姐如何解救?”桃花女冷笑:“你去照方才的法作來,只叫一聲:'戒刀!'他就活轉來了。”彭剪道:“為何不叫主人名字,叫起'戒刀'來?”桃花女道:“此乃天機,你如何知道?你快去罷!你主活轉來,方見我手段。”彭剪聞言不再問,依言關上大門,照前一樣的作法,叫了一聲“戒刀!”那周公的神魂醒悟,也向他的屍首來,一翻身坐在地上。看見了桃花女,正是仇人分外眼紅,忙起身來,搶了天罡劍,便大喝一聲:“陰人休走!你敢用回煞法傷於孤麼?今若不誅你,誓不為人!”挺手中劍直取。有桃花女即向錦囊中取出瞭如意桃枝一把,玉手把寶劍架過,喝曰:“你周乾不思報活命之恩,敢恃強傷我?”周公又是一劍過來。桃花閃開把手中桃枝火速相迎,一陰一陽在大廳上動手。

彭剪見了,直叫聲:“不好!”手中又無兵器,如何上前解勸?便奔報與天香小姐知道,把個天香小姐唬昏了,又忙飛跑到任家去報信去了。

單說周公與桃花女從大門鬥到天井,見地方偏小,不能施展法力,便一齊駕上雲,起在半空中,你來我往的相鬥。

任太公此時已到周家。天香小姐出來相見,把話說了一遍,不覺放聲痛哭。俱仰面朝天觀看。見他二人擁著彩雲,在半空中苦爭惡戰,越鬥越遠,漸漸不見了。哭兒叫父之聲振耳,他二人全然不顧。 ——到後來,任太公夫妻見女兒歸了神位,見天香與女兒相貌一般,聽得彭剪說他女兒甚是相得,任太公兩老有憐惜之意,就教彭剪去說,認天香為女。這天香小姐見父親成神,早年失母,無人依靠,聽得任太公夫妻如此美意,又想桃花女之情,即日親到任家拜見太公夫妻。他便留住天香小姐作伴。周公的家事,就是托交彭剪料理。此是後事。

且說周公、桃花女二人越鬥越有精神,各施本領,弄得風吼雷鳴,早驚動了巡天御史,見他兩個鬥得很兇,已近北天門,忙去報與北方真武玄天上帝。帝用慧眼一看,己知其來脈。他即差龜、蛇二將前去,帶他兩個來見神。

龜、蛇二將領了法旨。各向雲中把他二人攔住,大喝曰:“你們不必爭鬥!吾聞上帝敕令,召你們去謁金闕!如不遵旨,吾神便打你下雲去!”兩個聽得上帝有旨來召,他們只得收了兵器,同龜,蛇二將來參謁上聖,倒身下跪。叩首畢,上帝便下玉旨曰:“你兩個俱有根基道行,何故自相殘害?周乾,你乃如意戒刀所化,在兜率官為看卦童子,不守清規,私自下凡,洩漏天機,反累了桃花女下凡。任桃花乃如意刀鞘也。你兩個本性相同,不得另生他意!今乃汝等肉體飛空之期,每個賜金丹一粒。”命他們吞了,又言:“你今服了此丹,如先生異志者,此丹在腹內不消三刻,總是金剛不壞之體,也要化成膿血!”

說畢,一展七星旂將二人捲起,帶至武當山中為將周桃二位元帥。把神光一迫,二位大帥各奔一邊,左右手站立。上帝又用七星寶旂連展七展,望二位元帥一口先天正氣吹去,二位元帥就收了神光,一齊肉體歸位。

是晚,武當山的葉道士得了一夢:夢見二位元帥託他寄家書。及醒來上大殿一看,只見天將內又多二神元帥,神光迫人,金光燦燦。心中大驚,見各人足下俱有書一部,上件件寫明。忙取了來,不敢開看。隨即朝參了上帝與二位元帥金身,星夜下山,趕奔至朝歌城來。尋到週府,把書遞與門上的人,並言夢見二位元帥的話,說了一遍。門上的人連忙入報與彭剪得知。彭剪接了來書,又少不免餐膳款待了道士。又與道士親自同去,報知任太公夫妻及天香小姐說了。各人俱拆開看明,上邊不過說知須要兩姓合好的話,安慰之言。各各大悅,又言他二人為神去矣,仍有此靈異不泯。

斯時便一同葉道士來至武當山進香,先謁叩上帝,後拜二位大帥。但細看二帥金容,與生時面貌無二。眾人參拜了,又交出黃金百兩與道士,以為奉祀二位元帥香油費用。然後回去,遠近傳揚,人人稱異。當日又傳揚至朝廷,文武百官無一個不來瞻仰,奉祀之誠,求應如響。後人看到此處,有詩為證。詩曰:

其一:

為人作事有天知,
莫道前因有所欺。
善惡到來終有報,
舉頭三尺是神祗。

其二:  

萬事安排總在天,
機關時盡枉圖然。
人心不足蛇吞象,
存意當如學聖賢。
無藥可醫惟枉想,
有錢難買是神仙。
刻薄世情今古嘆,
憑他作惡我心堅。

Peach Blossom Girl Dueling Magic - Chapter 15

Copyright © 2010 - Jeff Loh. All rights reserved

Peach Blossom Girl Dueling Magic

Chapter 15

Peach Girl Thrice Foils The Great Dipper’s Power
Chou Chien Once More Lays A Demon Quelling Formation

The poem states:

Unusual it is that Ying Yang switching apexes,
When they touch, light from the sun and moon emit no more.
Gazing upwards in darkness, irresolution everywhere,
Oh great! The Master of Heaven has left his home in the clouds.
Carrying with him the sun and moon back to Heaven,
Peacefully they stood by the side of their Lord.
Indeed in their splendorous clothes they shine,
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.

NOTES:

1. The literal translation of the couplet is:

三寸氣在千般用,A thousand things to do when you still have 3 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

Original Text

桃花女陰陽鬥傳/第十五回

桃花三解天罡法
周乾再布壓魔謀

詩曰:

陰陽反覆不尋常,
相觸日月色無光。
黎首瞻仰盡徬徨,
大哉上帝離雲鄉。
手扶日月上天堂,
安然偶立在帝旁。
果杲皎皎塵華裳,


卻說周公用黑犬鎮壓法,要製治死桃花小姐,彭剪又問其解救之法,桃花女言:“他乃魔治之法,縱使大羅天仙也難脫解,必要三魂出竅,七魄飛空,是決死無救的。但彭哥哥可念昨天小妹救你之情,今日搭救小妹則個。”當下,彭剪急的頓足道:“我若有法術救得你,不用對你說,我就早早破他的法,救了恩妹!”桃花女道:“不是要你破他的法,不過要你依我的言語,我就有救了。”彭剪聞言,大喜道:“你教我的事,那敢不在心?你看昨天囑託的事,件件都不誤。你可快快說來,好去取……”桃花女道:“你聽周公之言,到我家把桃樹砍了。那桃樹是我的本命,今被你砍了,就如塞斷水源一般,縱有飛騰變化,也不中用。明日未刻,就是小妹的死期!”彭剪聞言,嘆道:“如此怎好?只恨我一個愚人,不通玄術,不然他叫我,死也不去!”桃花女道:“今且不必悔怨,明日未時,是一定的死。我想得一個解法:我若死之後,周公必要即時將我入殮,待他抬起我入棺時。切不可等我下去才動手,只等他教人一兜起時,可拿木杖三根,將大門掩上,朝著門閂上連敲三下,高叫一聲:'桃花女',卻用右足將大門踢開,我是自有妙法活轉來。千萬不可誤事!”彭剪道:“這時候早也作不得,遲也亦作不得,必須要看緊一兜起才做得。你想想,此去大門有多少遠?倒怕我未曾跑到大門,你已入殮多時了,如何使得?”桃花女道:“兄長,你說的是。小妹忙中未曾細說你知之。你但看交申時,你便可先出去大門等候,若聞一陣香風過時,就是兜起我的時候了,你便即要急急可照我言行事!”彭剪點頭道:“如此只要算得準,又有何難?恐防沒有這陣香風,就不要怪我呀!”桃花女道:“是必然有的。”彭剪聽了,心中尚覺半疑半信,又言:“若果有香風為信,你且放了心,交擔在我身上!”說罷,急忙忙告別而出。

桃花女獨在房中打點他死后防身的法寶,一件件都裝在錦囊中里面,帶在貼身的衣裳上。剛剛收拾方完,這天香小姐倒早妝已畢,來至房中。二人見了禮坐下,彼此相談。桃花女半字不提他父暗害之心,似閒常一般的耍耍笑笑,一直至晚。天香小姐陪著桃花女用過晚飯,方才辭回自己房安臥。

惟有桃花女這一夜何曾合眼?坐在牙床上合著眼養神。養神到了次早起來,梳洗已畢,便也不戴釵環珠翠,只挽個道裝,穿了一件水綠色的道衫兒,歡歡喜喜的,不露一些聲色。

當日周公仍是放心不下,又暗暗差人來打聽,回去報知都說他色相並無憂容之態,又無動作。周公聽了,大喜道:“此番克去了他的本命星,他自然昏暗矣!”俟到了晌午,忙進後園,寫了催煞符,步起鬥來,念念有詞,把靈符剛化了。只說桃花女同天香小姐在閨房中正是話得投機,忽然大叫一聲,已撲倒在地。當日天香小姐與眾丫環不知其故,一齊大驚。忙上前扶起。只見他氣息全無,身軟如綿,已見不活了。正是:  

三寸氣在千般用,
一旦無常萬事休!

有天香小姐一見,吃驚得手足無措,便大哭起來道:“姐姐!你好端端的為何一刻無故身亡?可憐你青春年少,月貌花容,今忽長逝,怎不教人痛心?”便撫著屍的哀哀痛切了。眾丫環們都哭將起來,只哭得天崩地裂的喧嘩。彭剪忙忙趕進房外,亦大驚道:“果也好利害的法術也!剛剛是未時,一些絲毫不錯!”忙忙中一看,只見桃花女身臥地上,面色仍如生前一般,只是緊咬嘴唇,由不得大哭起來。猛然想起,暗自言曰:“我在此哭什麼?快些出大門等候著,救他的性命為要,才是正事。”忙抹去目中珠淚,飛奔出大門等候了。

早有人報知周公。周公聞報大悅,便親自踱進房來。只見桃花女果然身死了,便冷笑言:“陰人!你今還能逃脫得過孤手否乎?”天香小姐含淚曰:“爹爹,這任桃花雖然得罪爹爹,罪應該死,還念著他救了孩兒之恩,且容恕他一二,放寬大量,救活他才是!”周公笑道:“你小小年紀如何知道?此乃天數已定,誰人救得他轉?”隨即吩咐家人道:“任桃花死在未時三刻,殃煞太重,不宜久停。速速去辦他的後事,走馬入殮!俟入殮之後,再去任家報信,另行擇日出殯。可停在大堂偏右之所,那間小房子內。婦女們不許舉哀!”又吩咐看門的人把門關上,以防任家使女回家去報信。豈料先關了大門,倒來彭剪一番舉動。不多時,入殮一應物件俱已辦備,現放在外堂。周公不許別人與桃花女另換衣服,即派四個使女前去抬任桃花的屍首入殮。四個使女領命,前去抬他屍首。不想四人用力,好似蜻蜓撼石柱一般,慢道抬起,動也動不得分毫。眾人一齊詫異道:“小小身材如何有此沉重?”周公見了,又添上四個去抬,也抬不起。周公大怒言:“陰人生前作怪,死後還能成精?你們與孤一齊抬!”慢說多四人,再添些也無用。正扛抬得眾使女們個個氣喘喘,抬得遍體生汗,皆言“抬不動”,周公便喝退使女們,另召了四十個身強力壯的家丁進內,來抬桃花女的屍骸。當下家丁個個踱進來,即去頭左右,也有扛腳兩邊,也有中央橫側,左右幫抽,七手八腳,亂個不住,叫聲:“好奇怪也!好似生成在地下一般,休想搖動他一搖!”把個周公氣怒,暴躁如雷,忙取了天罡劍來,照定桃花女膊肩上一揮砍下,一聲並出火星響亮,反把周公的虎口震麻了,兩手生痛,叫聲:“好結實的屍首也!”一連照頭面砍去幾劍,連衣上的痕跡也沒有一破。各家丁,婦女們一齊驚異,皆言:“此女是個有道法的人,自是修成不壞身體!”

周公此時氣得火上加油一般,一聞家人嘆羨他道行,忿忿然連呼:“快拿乾柴來!”左右不敢遲延,忙忙急取乾柴到了。周公吩咐放在桃花女屍上,要將引火之物來燒化他的屍骸。就有一個家丁跪禀道:“若還一放火,豈不連房子……。”周公大怒道:“趕快取來我用!孤自有法,豈能連累房舍?快與孤放火! ”家丁等趕快取了引火之物來,在屍首上下乾柴裡點起來。可見作怪,點了一刻,點不著,剛剛點著這邊,那邊又滅了。周公喝教家丁再加上油,灌於柴上,但加油竟似加水一般,反滅了乾柴之火。使得濃煙四起,把周公、眾家人熏得鼻水眼淚齊落,一哄跑出天井中站住足。

周公一想道:“你們且把柴搬出,且慢慢燒,其中必有緣故。且算一算,看這一陰人作弄什麼法術?”忙掐指一算,歎曰:“原是孤失算!此是他用了重身法護他的屍骸,恐怕死後被人損傷。今且請來六丁,用神祗來,看你陰人怎又脫得過?”即使了天罡劍,摘去了金冠,披髮,口中念念有詞。早已驚動了萬位神祗,降在周公府裡,白日不見顯出金身。這周公忽聞得一陣香風,便知是神聖到了,即喝去眾人、使女等,又吩咐言:“這回只須用四個人去,就可以扛抬得起了!”說時遲,來時快,彭剪在大門上等得久了,心裡發急,好不憂疑之際,一刻聞得一陣香風,扎鼻吹來,心中大喜道:“是此時候了!”忙用三根木杖望大門連打三下,高叫一聲:“桃花女!”

未知果然破得周公之法如何,且看下回分解。

Peach Blossom Girl Dueling Magic - Chapter 14

Copyright © 2010 - Jeff Loh. All rights reserved
Peach Blossom Girl Dueling Magic

Chapter 14

Peach Blossom Girl Uses Magic To Break Magic,
Lord Chou Harming Others In Turn Harms Himself.

After Peach Blossom Girl met Heavenly Fragrance, the mutual admiration between the two beauties grew. However in the end, Peach Blossom Girl is the reincarnated spirit from Heaven and a daughter of magic who knows the past and future. Tonight she had no choice but to use Heavenly beauty as a scapegoat. How can she be seated on the bed first? With a cold smile, she called out to Heavenly Fragrance and said,

“You are a delicate guest; please sit down first at the honoured place. I’ll serve you.”

Heavenly Fragrance replied,

“Sister, you are the older one; I’m only a proxy for my brother. How can I usurp the order of things and sit first?”

Peach Blossom Girl retorted,

“Since you are the proxy for your brother, you’re considered as the groom and therefore you should sit first.”

Heavenly Fragrance knew very well that her father was going to do away with Peach Blossom in a nefarious manner. She had no choice but to obey her father. She longed to return to her boudoir when her duty was done. How could she know of the dangers lurking in the seating placement? Peach Blossom Girl’s words were logical and she answered,

“Since you put it this way, I shall follow elder sister’s advice and this little sister will sit first according to etiquette and custom.”

With that settled, she approached the bed. As she sat on it, Peach Blossom Girl suddenly draped herself with the cover of the curtains and muttered a God Hastening mantra. The spell alerted the White Tiger Marshall. A gust of fierce wind blew up, revealing its true form. What a fearsome shape the Star Lord of Malignancy was! On seeing a female sitting on the bed it pounced on Heavenly Fragrance with a whoosh and bit her! How sad it was,

A delicate flower in an abrupt downpour,
Tender buds meeting a sudden gale.

“Aiya!” cried Heavenly Fragrance as she fell off from the bed, blood gushing out of her mouth. All the womenfolk saw what was happening and were petrified. As they regained their composure, they quickly lifted their fallen mistress whose face as ashen like a piece of gold paper1 with fresh blood still spewing out of her mouth. Her body had stiffened and she died on the spot. The womenfolk tried to revive her but to no avail. A great wail rose up from the room. Some people hurriedly reported to Lord Chou who had already heard the commotion in the bridal chamber. He merely thought his scheme had worked and that the Ren household would be holding a funeral soon. Glee sated his heart until he heard what was reported,

“Our Miss died in the bridal chamber with no cause!”

Upon hearing the news, Lord Chou felt like falling from a high ditch, boats capsizing in the Yangtze River. He rushed immediately into the bridal chamber and with both hands lifted the dead body of his daughter. He began to wail,

“You were Okay today, why now such a sudden death?”

When Peach Blossom Girl heard his words, she simply sneered,

“Lord Chou! Who are you trying to trick? Using your daughter like this? Your words can only deceive fools. Do I get deceived this easily? Last night you summoned the White Tiger Lord of Malignancy to bite me to death. Why, it’s your daughter who is now still bleeding in death. Such a nice girl you sent to death, why cry now?”

Lord Chou was embarrassed to no end and at the same vexed to his very bones. He stopped his wailing and looked up at Peach Blossom Girl. All he saw was.

All donned in the deepest red,
Her demeanor no different from any fairy.

This is the first time Lord Chou had laid his eyes on Peach Blossom Girl in person, her eyebrows arched in the classic manner, her limpid pools are from heaven and her body made in jade2. Lord Chou could not help himself but shuddered as he thought to himself,

“No wonder this bitch is so dangerous. Her demeanor is not of this world!”

Lord Chou had no choice but to give a smiling face and said,

“Miss Ren, you understood this matter but not me. Can you use your magic to save my daughter?”

Peach Blossom laughed out loud,

“Lord Chou, learning the secrets of the Big Dipper itself is not bad. Knowing its usage yet not understanding how to solve… How can you not blame yourself in your shallow learning but others for breaking your divination? Since you begged me for help, I shall save your daughter. What difficulty is there to bring her back to life? Quickly go to the river and get me some countercurrent water and a willow sprig. I’ll show you a trivial trick or two and see how I can bring the dead back to life so that you can sincerely concede with your heart and mouth!”

Peach Blossom continued,

“Do you know what a countercurrent is? When ocean tides come, rivers ebb. When the ocean ebbs, river tides come. With the ocean as the focal point, the tidal water of the river is the countercurrent. ”

Lord Chou was mute-like when he heard the explanation from Peach Blossom Girl and wondered if her idea was any good. However saving his daughter’s life was of utmost importance so he dared not argue any longer with Peach Blossom Girl. Instead he turned to his men and bellowed,

“Quickly to the river and fetch me some countercurrent water and a sprig of willow!”

By the time a breath was let out, the two objects were brought in. Peach Blossom Girl ordered a cold mat placed on the floor and the body of Heavenly Fragrance was put on it with her face looking up. After everyone was ordered to silence, Peach Blossom then casually placed the sprig of willow into the countercurrent water. Thrice to the left and thrice to the right she stirred the willow sprig and started her incantation. With the dripping water from the sprig, Peach Blossom Girl sprinkled it ritually onto the face of Heavenly Fragrance. Such is the miraculous way of immortals, chanting three times and sprinkling three times Peach Blossom Girl had the three superior souls and seven baser spirits of Heavenly Fragrance hooked back into her body. Her spirit churned and soon returned to the mortal world.

“Aiyah! How dreadful!”

Two almond-shaped eyes fluttered open and Heavenly Fragrance jerked up before slumping back to a sitting position on the mat. She was in a daze. Every household member jumped for joy at the sight, exclaiming,

“The powers of Miss Ren are indeed miraculous. Even raising the dead back to life!”

Lord Chou was thoroughly embarrassed and blushed all the way to the back of his ears. He had no choice but to approach Peach Blossom to thank her.

Finally Heavenly Fragrance had settled down and found out that her saviour was no other than Peach Blossom Girl. She was filled with gratitude and kowtowed quickly to her. She did not return to her own room that night but remained in the bridal chamber with Peach Blossom Girl. The two girls appreciated each other’s talents with a you-love-me-and-I-love-you scenario. As both were of the same age, it was a perfect and wonderful opportunity to become bonded sisters. This we shall not elaborate further.

Let’s turn to Lord Chou instead. He was mortified with shame on this day. Alone he sat in his study contemplating to himself,

“All these Gods of Malignancy had been thwarted by this bitch and my daughter was bitten to death by the Divine White Tiger Lord. Though she is saved by that bitch, what an abhorrence she is for showing off in front of all those women to shame me! My idea in using this sham marriage was to destroy her but she’s now sitting comfortably in my own home. After three days she’ll have to see the groom. How can I give her one? She must be destroyed to abate my hatred and to have a good night’s sleep!”

Quickly Lord Chou took out his divine Big Dipper book and studied it in detail. With the birth hours he had on Peach Blossom Girl, he began to calculate and divine a new scheme for her demise. Finally he came out with a “Black Dog Squelching” magic technique. He divined once again to make sure there were no flaws to allow her to escape the trap. Casually he lifted his head and began to smile,

“If I had known earlier and waited for the fire, the rice would have been long cooked. I should have used this before and not have to go through all this fuss!”

With his plan finalized, he put away his ‘Divine Big Dipper Manual’ safely. Heading out to the main hall Lord Chou ordered his servant,

“Here’s a copper penny, go south and get me a black bitch. Bring it to the backyard and wait for further instructions. Make no mistake!”

The servant soon returned with a black female dog and gave it to the one in charge of the backyard affairs. The night passed uneventfully.

The very next day, Lord Chou ordered Peng Jian, “Go to the backyard of the Ren family. There is a worm-eaten peach tree. Chop down a southerly branch. I have use for it and make sure to hold it with thy hands on the way home and do not look back! If so, a blind man ye will become. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you!”

Pang Jian quickly headed for the Ren family. After explaining to Ren Tai Kung, Pang Jian found the great peach tree and cut down a southern branch and returned home as quickly as he could. Lord Chou was delighted and asked,

“Is this a southerly branch? If this is so, bring it to the backyard.” With the peach branch in hand, Pang Jian followed Lord Chou into the backyard. A table was brought in and burning incense was placed on it along with some flowers, fruits, candles and joss sticks. The peach branch was snapped into several pieces. Peach Blossom Girls’ hours of birth was written on a branch with ritually blessed cinnabar. It was then carefully wrapped in yellow cloth and ordered to be tied around the black bitch. A loop was made from another branch and again it was tied to the body of the dog. Seven more peach charms were written and Lord Chou personally placed them on the peach loop that was already tied to the body of the dog. Holding the charms he recited the incantations seven more times. Everything was taken off from the dog and burnt. Immediately afterwards the dog was beaten to death. His servants were ordered to bury everything on the table in a southerly place in the backyard. When all was done, Lord Chou gave out a chortle and exclaimed,

“Oh you disgusting female! See how you can dodge from me this time?”

Actually, Peach Blossom’s lifeline was made into a peach branch familiar. Now that Lord Chou had it chopped down, it sealed her sinus. While all this was happening, Pang Jian was peeping into the backyard and had witnessed everything. Already highly suspicious of the backyard activities, which were verified by Lord Chou’s cold blooded words, Pang Jian grew fearful and said to himself,

“This is no good! He really means harm to Miss Ren. I must quickly inform her so that she can be prepared!”

Pang Jian is like an old prime minister of the household and therefore no one dared stop him from going places. He flew straight like an arrow into the bridal chamber.

As for Peach Blossom Girl and Miss Heavenly Fragrance, they grew close to each other, enjoying each other’s company. They spent the night chatting until the third beat before retiring to their respective rooms. This morning, Peach Blossom was alone in the inner apartments doing her morning makeup and was planning for her return to her family when suddenly she felt her heartbeat rise and fall in rapidity. Quickly she kneaded her fingers and understood everything. She fearfully lamented to herself,

“Lord Chou has cut off my lifeline and used the ‘Black Dog Squelching” technique on me. With my birth hours in his hand, even those with skills of fairies will not escape easily. What should I do?”

As she was pondering on this impending calamity, Pang Jian burst in unexpectedly. His feet had not steadied and words came spilling out of his mouth as he huffed and puffed,

“My virtuous younger sister! My benefactor! No good it is today. Calamity approaches!”

Without missing any details, Pang Jian explained how Lord Chou had ordered him to cut down the peach branch and what he did in the backyard. Peach Blossom Girl was nodding all this while and finally said,

“Big brother, no need to be so frantic. I have already known all these comings and goings. This is known as the ‘Black Dog Squelching” technique, a vile and demonic use of magic. This time, I don’t think I can escape easily. I’m sure I’ll die. If you consider how I saved you, you must now help me!”

Pang Jian heard her words and replied quickly,

“If my benefactress little sister has any use of Pang Jian, I’ll not hesitate to help. I will wade through fire and face ten thousand deaths for you!”

Peach Blossom Girl was elated at his words and said,

“Good! Then your little sister will be saved.”

To know how Peach Blossom Girl breaks Lord Chou’s spell, please continue reading.

NOTES:

1. These are funerary papers with gold-like glitter painted on them to be folded as gold ingots for burning during the Ullambana festival. The Chinese believed that Hades is like another level of existence with all the worldly comforts to be enjoyed in the Netherworld. Hence the need for paper currency, gold, silver and even paper servants and houses that the spirits are accustomed to on this earth. More importantly, life perhaps could be made easier through bribery!











2. The Chinese believe that all gentlemanly qualities are found in jade.

Original Text

桃花女陰陽鬥傳/第十四回

桃花女以法破法
周公爺圖害被害

當下桃花小姐見過了天香小姐,二美人各有憐惜相愛之心。到底桃花女乃仙子降生,法門之女,一心明白過去未來,今夜出於不得已,要將天香小姐替位自己。當時那里肯先坐床帳?即冷笑叫小姐:“你是嬌客,請坐了上首。奴只好奉陪。”

天香小姐道:“姐姐是年長的,奴不過今夜權代哥哥,怎好有僭先坐之理?”桃花女道:“既僭令兄,就算是新郎,自當先坐。”天香小姐明知父親要暗害於他,又無救脫他手段,是出於無奈的,巴不得事完了早回閨閣,那裡知道坐位方向的利害?又見桃花說得有理,便道:“如此說,依了姐姐,小妹有僭先矣。”便先到床上首想坐下。桃花女忙用繡帳往身上一遮。口中反念起催神咒,驚動了白虎大帥,一陣狂風起過,現了原形。那位猛烈凶星好不利害!見床上坐著一個陰人,呼的一聲,向天香肩下一口!可憐:

倏忽嬌花經驟雨,
不期嫩蕊遇狂風!

當時天香小姐“哎喲”一聲,撲跌下床,口中流血。眾婦女在下面看見,這一驚不小!急忙忙上前扶起,只見小姐面如金紙,口流鮮血,已直僵僵死去。婦女們呼之不蘇,更放聲大哭起來。就有人去飛報周公。周公在外聽得房中忽放悲聲,只道桃花女著了手,任家人舉哀,心中大喜。忽見人來報說:“小姐無故在洞房中倒地身死!”當下周公不聽猶可,一聽了此言,不覺如在高溝失足,揚子江翻舟,忙忙飛奔洞房,雙手抱起了小姐,放聲大哭道:“何故今日好端端的竟死在這裡?”桃花女聞言,微微冷笑道:“周公!你想把女兒來唬誰人?你這話只好哄那些愚人,如何瞞得過我?你昨晚請了白虎凶星來,咬死了他,所以方才流血。好好一位小姐,竟被你自己使法害死了,還哭什麼?”

周公聽罷,又羞又惱,只得住了悲哭。又推起頭來,將桃花女一看,只見他:

遍體渾身著大紅,
天然媚態與仙同。

周公初見桃花女,幾讓娥眉古士風!周公見他秋水為神,玉為骨,不由的發怯道:“怪不得這陰人如此利害,相貌先已超群!”無奈,只得陪著笑臉呼:“任小姐,這事你明,孤也不明。不知可有仙法解救小女否?”

桃花小姐笑曰:“周公,你學習《天罡訣》未嘗不是,如何只會使,不會破解?你不怨自沒手段,道術不精,怎一味怨人破你天罡八卦?今日既然求救於我,即救你家小姐,有何難處?快取河中的逆流水合柳枝,等我當面略施小術,立刻叫他活轉,方叫你心服口服!”你道怎樣為逆流水?大海長潮,小河退潮;小河長潮,大海退潮。以大海為主講,躬取小河長潮水,為逆流水。周公聽了桃花女之言,都是些堵嗓子的話,心裡怎不受用受用?緣因救活女兒為要,就不敢與桃花女多分辯駁。即刻吩咐手下人:“快去取逆流水合柳枝來!”吹口氣之時,兩件東西俱已取到。桃花女令人取了一張涼床席,鋪在地下,將天香小姐抬在上面,仰面朝天放定,不許閒人喧嘩。他不慌不忙,將那柳枝取了幾根,放在逆流水中,左旋三旋,右旋三旋,即掐訣念咒,中用柳枝醮著逆流水,照定天香小姐臉上一灑去。真乃仙家妙用,咒念三次,水灑三次,天香小姐的三魂七魄歸體,氣轉還陽,“哎喲”一聲,道:“唬死人也!”杏眼雙睜,一個翻身,慢慢的起坐在涼蓆上,只是發呆。大小家人婦女,無一個不喜歡,俱嘆羨:“任小姐法能通神,真有起死回生之力!”周公只羞得面紅過耳,無可奈何,只得上前來拜謝桃花女。

那天香小姐活了過來,所見是任小姐救他的,心中感激不盡,忙拜謝桃花女救命之恩,也不回自己的繡房,便陪著桃花女在新房。但這二位人惺惺惜惺惺,你愛我,我愛你,兩個都是一般大的年紀,十分緣合雅契。這且按下不表。

且說周公此日羞愧難當,獨坐書房暗暗思想:“今日這些凶神惡煞都被這陰人破了,反使白虎神將女兒咬死。雖得他救活,可恨他自顯其能,當著眾婦女們羞辱於孤!孤原使的是誆親之計,未得將他治死,如今反平平安安坐在我府中。況且三日後他要見新郎,可拿什麼與他?必須要一個死手,把這陰人了決。一來免孤之憂,二來能解孤心頭之恨!”忙把《天罡神書》取出仔細推詳,又得了桃花女的生辰八字,按著本命再細細的掐算,得了一個“黑犬鎮壓”之法,算一算再無一點解救的,不覺抬首笑道:“早知是等火,飯熟幾多時,早若用這個法兒,也省了許多悶氣!”想罷,即收好《天罡神書》,走出外堂,叫個家人道:“你拿銅錢一貫,立刻向正南方採買一隻黑色的母犬,帶到後園中聽用,不可有誤。”家人領命去訖。不多時,已把母犬買回,交與園中守著。一宿無話。

到了次日,周公叫彭剪來,吩咐道:“你可到任太公家後園中,有一棵蛀的桃樹,揀一正南方上的,砍大大一枝來,孤要有用。一路拿著,不許你回頭看!你若回頭看時,瞎了你的雙睛,莫怪孤不早說。”彭剪領命,忙往任家對太公說了,到後園揀了一株高大的桃樹,向正南方的枝子砍了一枝,直奔回府。周公大悅,便問:“可是向南的枝兒?且拿進後園去。”彭剪拿了桃枝,跟著周公來到後園,把黑犬牽出。周公便教人擺了香案,設供花、果、香燭,就將一枝桃枝撅斷,醮了硃砂,將桃花女的生辰八字寫在上面,用黃紙包好,令人系在黑母犬身上,又把桃枝打個圈兒,又套在黑母犬身上,又拿桃枝畫靈符七道,親自拿去掛在母犬身上的桃圈兒上,手中掐訣,口中念咒,念了七遍,揭下靈符用火化了,寫八字的枝兒圈也都除下,一共燒化,立刻將黑母犬打死。教家人埋在後園正南方,把供桌等物傾下,便哈哈大笑道:“陰人呀!今番孤看你如何躲得過?”原來那桃樹枝是桃花小姐的本命,今周公先砍了,就治住了桃花女的竇機。那彭剪自己在外暗暗的偷眼看,又見周公如此一番作鬧,心中就有些狐疑起來;後又見周公冷笑中自說出這利害之話,心下大驚,暗自言:“不好了!果然要害任小姐了。我何不速速去告訴於他,使他有個準備也好!”彭剪是向在周家的老宰臣,穿房入舍的,故此無人攔阻他,一直飛奔桃花女的新房來。

且說桃花小姐自從救活了天香小姐,這天香感他的深情,又是和合相投,一日不離。二人伴著談談論論,至三更之後才各回房打睡。這一日,因在後樓早妝,單有任小姐一人坐在房中,想要設法回家去,忽然一陣心驚肉跳起來,連忙掐指一算,心下明白,大驚曰:“周公砍了我的本命根,用黑犬壓法治我,又得了我的生辰八字,縱有神仙手段也不能逃此厄,如何是好?”正在煩難。忽見外邊彭剪忙跑進來。他的足還未立定,便氣喘喘的言道:“賢妹恩人,今日不好了,大禍到矣!”即把周公又作法在後園,制治於你,並把他命他去砍桃枝取用的一五一十的事,細細說明了。有桃花小姐徐徐答應,呼喚:“哥哥不須著急,此事我已早知之矣。此名曰黑犬鎮壓,乃是和魔毒之計法。但此回我料也難逃此厄,命必不能生!你可看前番救你之情,今日你救我一救才好!”彭剪聞言,忙回道:“恩妹若有用我彭剪之處,雖赴湯蹈火,萬死我也不辭!”桃花小姐一聽了彭剪之言,心中大喜,言:“好了,小妹如此無礙矣。”

不知他又用何法解破的,且看下回分解。

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

清閑- Leisure Pursuits


不講花鳥就談月
非是山河即係雲
挑絃撥琴心自閑
吟詩作對不顧問

Discuss not of flowers or birds then it is talk about the moon.
If it’s not a landscape painting then it is drawing of the clouds.
Plucking the string or flicking on the zither my heart is at rest.
Composing poetry and completing couplets nary a care to the world.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Peach Blossom Girl Dueling Magic - Chapter 13

Copyright © 2010 - Jeff Loh. All rights reserved

Peach Blossom Girl Dueling Magic

Chapter 13

No bias When Orthodox and Unorthodox Gods Battle,
The Genuine Triumphs Over the Fake, Yin and Yang Always Accurate

Let’s recap. As Miss Ren Peach Blossom was carried in the bridal sedan to Lord Chou’s residence, the Red and Black Lords of Malignancy were waiting in readiness to execute orders of both parties: One obeying the will of the Big Dipper to lash Peach Blossom to death while the other submitting himself to the words of power in the incantation of the Immortal of Malignancy by Peach Blossom Girl to save herself. After the Star Lords explained to each other the reason of their respective presence, they both at once rode on their clouds and departed to their proper places. With that the bridal sedan of Peach Blossom entered the main gate of the house unscathed. The beat of the drums and gongs deafened the heavens as the music of panpipes1 led the procession. Numerous servants followed the retinue in throngs. Some were shouting in the front; some were pushing in the back and others straddled on steeds with handsomely-carved saddles. People on the street knew that the retired official Lord Chou is now getting a daughter-in-law. What a dazzling sight it was: the bridal sedan made from knotted silk damasks with the Eighteen Immortals from the Fairy Isles embroidered on it and everything else was covered in red. True magnificence it was! Everyone praised the lavishness before their eyes:

“What difference it makes between the nobility and the vulgar masses!”

Those in the know knew Lord Chou had no son and chimed in,

“He’s marrying a second wife. Of course no expenses spared!”

Inside the bridal sedan, Peach Blossom seethed and fumed as she heard such ribald comments,

“If I don’t skin2 that Chou Chien alive, how can I ever bear today’s insults?”

None of the various Gods of Malignancy dared approach the bridal sedan embroidered with images of the Immortals of the Eighteen Caves. Thus Peach Blossom was able to journey safely to the main entrance of Lord Chou’s residence. When the bridal sedan arrived, people from the Ren household began to call out to matchmaker Chiang,

“Quickly, people from Chou’s residence. Come perfume and purify the bridal sedan!”

Matchmaker Chiang went inside and informed Lord Chou about the ritual. He asked matchmaker Chiang:

“When Miss Ren Peach Blossom entered the bridal sedan, did you see anything suspicious?”

Matchmaker Chiang replied,

“This little woman was at her side all the time and saw her parents help her into the bridal sedan. I did not see anything unusual.”

Lord Chou was taken aback in surprise and said,

“Strange indeed. Methinks this Peach Blossom’s skills are no trifling matter. Even this God of Black Malignancy is no obstacle for her. I guess the various lesser Gods of Malignancy are of no use then! Thank goodness I had called upon the Gods of Mourning and Funeral3 to be at hand. I shall see what magic this female can conjure up to break my spells!”

And that, Lord Chou said to matchmaker Chiang,

“Since she wants my men to purify the bridal sedan what harm is there for me to go and check things out? You people there, quickly bring out the clothes iron and start heating it. Place some cedar and rue (Rutaceae) leaves in it. I shall personally go and perfume the bridal sedan myself so that this female can enter the threshold!”

The members of the Chou household had long prepared things needed for the ceremony and quickly they were given to Lord Chou who then encircled the bridal sedan thrice. Little did he know of the power of the aroma from the burning cedar and rue leaves that could ward off unclean things. Suddenly by this act all the effects of the Gods of Mourning and Funerals were negated in one shot. The Gods could no longer stand the scent and quickly withdrew. From inside the bridal sedan, when Peach Blossom Girl heard that Lord Chou himself had come to perfume the bridal sedan, she chuckled to herself,

“Such an idiot this Chou Chine is! Not knowing this simple logic of burning cedar and rue aroma to ward off evil!”

By the virtue of this single act, we know that Lord Chou is no match for Peach Blossom. All the traps he had set to harm Peach Blossom Girl literally went up in smoke. Lord Chou knew nothing of what he had done. All this while he had assumed Peach Blossom Girl had some great magic power to thwart the Gods of Malignancy. Chou Chien did not understand the way of nature in that everything has its allies and nemeses. After the perfuming ceremony was performed, Lord Chou walked into the main entrance to put away the clothes iron with the rest of the things and then ordered,

“All bystanders stand aside and let the bride get out of the bridal sedan to enter the main hall. Once again, you all…”

What Lord Chou really meant to say was that despite his uncouth deeds, he wanted to show to the world the great designs he had for Peach Blossom Girl when she entered the main hall - to show how mighty he is over her and to take revenge for breaking his predictions.

Expecting that Peach Blossom Girl would die inside the bridal sedan, word had spread that the master had ordered no one to be allowed to enter the main hall except for the bridal sedan. However the night before, Pang Jiang had been instructed by Peach Blossom Girl to do the following: to take a few steps ahead and past the main doors just before the arrival of the bridal sedan into the main hall, and with his back facing outside and his front looking in, he must take out the willow bow and arrow…

Cocking the arrow and steadying the bow, Pang Jiang chanted in a loud voice:

One bow of willow wood,
An arrow of peach wood,
Shoot to door’s left,
Shoot to door’s right,
Lord of Funerals,
Lord of Mourners,
All be gone nary a trace I should see.

Just as Pang Jiang was about to shoot the arrows right into the door, the Gods of Funerals and Mourning were shaken as they saw their nemeses. The moment the whistling sound of the arrow was heard, the Gods fled in fear on their clouds resuming their proper places. For this reason willow bow and peach arrows are hung whenever inauspicious occasions arise.

Lord Chou had thought that Peach Blossom Girl would not be able to ward off the two Gods of Malignancy and would surely be destroyed by them so he personally came out to peep, using the excuse of carrying the clothes iron to perfume the bridal sedan. No one, not even he himself knew that he had fallen right into the trap of Miss Peach Blossom and had foiled his own plans. Pang Jiang was enjoying himself so much at letting loose the first arrow that he shot the second one with gusto. Who knew that this shaft flew right at Lord Chou! However he was quick of eye and shouted,

“Oh Shit4!”

As Lord Chou quickly cocked his head to one side, the arrow barely missed his ear. Enraged he bellowed,

“Who has such gall to let loose arrows in here!”

Lord Chou covertly looked around and saw Pang Jiang holding a bow in his hands and thundered,

“Pang Jiang! What a good nothing you are! You dare try to assassinate your master with an arrow!”

Pang Jiang turned paled as he heard his master’s roar, and quickly threw down the small bow in reply,

“How can Pang Jiang’s gall be so big? Miss Ren had instructed me to shoot at the sides of the main doors, saying that milord had some kind of death and funeral gods to guard the left and right side of the doors waiting to do her harm. Hence she instructed me to use this bow and arrows to banish the two star lords. I’ve nothing to do with it!”

When Lord Chou heard Pang Jiang’s words he let out a great cry,

“Aiyoh!”

Quickly he kneaded his fingers and jumped,

“Oh crap! A day’s toil of blood and sweat gone up in smoke! All my plans in vain! Leave me at once!”

Lord Chou entered the inner hall and thought to himself,

“Even if that female thwarted the two Gods of Mourning and Funeral there are still more numerous vicious Gods of Malignancy gathered in here. See how she can get out of this situation?”

Let us turn to Peach Blossom Girl who now had alighted from the bridal sedan with the matchmaker carrying her. All outer and inner halls were decked in red carpets. Peach Blossom walked easily across the halls in her yellow slippers that had not yet touched earth. As she left the second set of doors and into the inner hall, Pang Jiang took the sieve-like string basket from the bridal sedan. On reaching her, he covered her pretty head completely while chanting,

This stringed basket shall be the heavenly Divine Net.
Great red carpets shall be the magical ropes5 to bind her down.
Straddle the saddle to ride the Day Horse Star,
See the grasses of the mortal world, Heavenly Ram6 now be gone!

With that incantation Peach Blossom Girl had taught him, Pang Jiang recited it like a song. On approaching the doors to the inner hall, Pang Jiang emptied the hay from a square bucket and scattered them all over the place. Peach Blossom Girl hurriedly straddled across the horse saddle7 that was placed at the entrance of the hall. She took out her treasure vase and began scattering the five grains that was contained in it. Really:

For mortals it’s only a show,
But when immortals do it, things are different.

With that Peach Blossom Girl entered the inner hall. Now all the women folk of the Chou household knew that their Lord was using his magic to destroy Miss Peach Blossom from the moment she stepped out of the bridal sedan. Up to now nothing had happened thereby proving that Peach Blossom Girl’s power was greater and that their master’s traps were rendered useless. They also heard matchmaker Chiang praising how beautiful Peach Blossom Girl was – such a kingdom beauty that even fish would sink in shame and high-flying geese would swoop down for a peek8. Who wouldn’t want to take a look at her? The inner hall was fully packed with onlookers and the Ying aura was overwhelming. The lesser Gods of Malignancy were held at bay by the actions of Peach Blossom Girl and now with the overpowering Ying aura surrounding her, they could not do anything as she moved away from their position of attack. More importantly the uncleanliness9 on the women in the hall was too much for them. They were afraid that if tainted with such filth that they might not be able to resume to their proper places and so they quickly left on a cloud.

Lord Chou saw nothing was happening to Peach Blossom as she passed through the three entrances and straight into the inner hall. His anger spewed from his three nether regions and smoke belched out of his seven orifices10. He swore,

“Wretched bitch! Dare to break my traps? Our enmity has become a chasm. No longer can I tolerate the sight of this female11!”

Then he heard the matchmaker exclaim,

“The Ren people are now asking for the groom to come out to kowtow to heaven and earth. What should we do?”

Pressed with such urgency, Lord Chou could not formulate any plan and thought to himself,

“What shall I do?”

After thinking for a while, with no plan still in sight, he had no alternative but to call for his daughter Heavenly Fragrance to act as a proxy groom12 to stall things for a while. With that in mind he called out to the servant girls,

“Go and fetch the Miss!”

At the same time he called the house matron and ordered her to do such and such. Then this matron approached Peach Blossom Girl and said,

“Today is not auspicious say our Lord. The groom will not see the bride. Therefore he ordered me to fetch our Miss as a proxy for the groom to kowtow with you. Please enter the bridal chamber and have a seat.”

When Peach Blossom Girl heard the words, she smiled to herself in glee:

“Today a scapegoat13 there will be. No energy to expend!”

Peach Blossom stood still and gave the precious vase to matchmaker Chiang. From her bosom she secretly took out a greenish copper mirror and hid it in her sleeves. Then she kneaded her fingers and calculated.

Now as Heavenly Fragrance arrived to the scene, loud drum din clamoured to heaven, tugging at her ears. The two beauties bowed to each other in acknowledgement before performing the kowtows to each other. A bevy of servant girls followed them as they tittered into the bridal chamber. Heavenly Fragrance performed the customary lifting of the red bridal veil of the bride by the groom… The sight she saw was as if the fairy from the Pistil Palace14 had arrived or that Chang-O from the Lunar Palace15 had descended. Heavenly Fragrance’s heart melted with admiration and sighed to herself,

“Too bad, too bad! Such a ravishing beauty my father has to destroy today. Such a pity!”

At the same time Peach Blossom Girl gazed upon Heavenly Fragrance’s face and truly a sight it was:

Moth-shaped brows be like the crescent of the moon,
Two eyes, starlight bright like reflection from autumn ripples.
Enhancing her looks are the clasped Eight Treasures hairpins,
Just a glance and you know she’s a beauty full of sweetness.

On this very day Peach Blossom Girl was smitten by the winsome looks of Heavenly Fragrance and said admiringly to herself,

“Such rare beauty found on this earth! Alas tonight she’ll die in my stead!”

As each beauty looked at each other in secret admiration, they shared the same feelings of pity and hate. However both shall not die as this would be explained later in the story but at this moment, Heavenly Fragrance started the conversation,

“Miss Ren, please be seated on the bed.”

What will be Peach Blossom’s answer? Will she be able to escape from the White Tiger God in the bed? Please read the next chapter.

Notes:

1. 笙, Chinese panpipes were thought to be invented by the Goddess Nuwa who mended the heavens with five colored stones. The two longest pipes are silent and is merely a decoration to represent the tail of the phoenix.

 


Traditional one made from bamboo












A modern interpretation. 





2. In a sense there are two types of punishment in ancient China. The first is the obvious whereby a living person is punished for his crimes. This is 生處. Then there is the dead who are punished for their crimes. This is 死處 where the corpse is dug up and exposed to the elements. This is usually reserved for capital punishment for rebelling against the ruling dynasty. Not only the entire clan is exterminated (Nine Relations -九族) - If the head count is not enough, then dead ancestors are dug up and are punished as if they were alive. Chinese cringe at the thought of having their bodies disinterred as this would affect their descendants’ Feng Shui while also forcing their spirits to wander on earth forever.

I used ‘If I don’t skin Chou Chien alive’ to express Peach Blossom’s anger directly to the readers without having to obstruct the flow of the story.

For more information see Nine Exterminations at

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nine_exterminations

3. In traditional Chinese funerals, 3 rituals must be performed:

    a. 披麻 - donning coarse hemp over white clothing by family members. If the deceased has no family,
        mourners can be hired professionally for a fee.

    b. 弔客 –'hanging’ guests - when they come to pay respect, mourners and family members or otherwise
         must burst out in bereavement to show their loss.

    c. 喪門 –'doors of death’ is the place where the funeral takes place.

All these rituals are personified into vicious Gods of Malignancy and may have a constellation representing them in Chinese fortunetelling.

4. In the original text, it was “No good!”, the way how Chinese expresses in such a situation. However “Oh shit!” serves better to western readers. Such is the difference between two disparate cultures. I did not retain the original flavour in this case as it did not add any value.

5. 拌腳繩 – feet binding ropes. These are magical ropes to bind people. Similar to those found in mythological stories about wars among immortals that are used to bind them - 捆仙索.

6. In the original text, there was no mention of the ram being divined but was inferred by grasses in the mortal world. Most probably a God of Malignancy dwells in the Ram Constellation.

7. In other dialects such as Cantonese, the bride jumps over a burning brazier instead and crawls between the trousers (legs) of the first wife if she is still alive.

8. The complete couplet is:

閉月羞花之容, A face so resplendent that the moon has to hide and flowers droop in shame,
沉魚落雁之貌 Appearance so exquisite that fish sink and the geese swoop down for a peek.

This couplet describes China’s four greatest beauties changed the fortunes of empires. The beauty that causes the moon to hide behind the clouds refers to Diao Chan (貂嬋) of the last years of the Eastern Han Dynasty. It was said that once her adopted father saw her praying in the garden under a full moon when suddenly a cloud passed by and hid it. He took the opportunity to comment about her beauty - so great that even the moon had to hide in shame.

The one who shamed the flowers refers to the famous imperial concubine, Yang Gui Fei (楊貴妃) of the T’ang Dynasty. It was said that when Emperor Hsuan Tsung (唐玄宗) peeked at his bathing beauty, the peony blossoms were so heavy laden that he remarked that even the flowers drooped in shame before her presence.

So beautiful was Hsi Hsi (西施) that when fishes saw her as she washed her clothes in a river that they forgot how to swim and sank to the bottom. She was used as bait by a defeated king as a tribute to his conqueror with the intention of ruining his kingdom. In the end the scheme worked. It is one of the basic stratagems used in the “Art of War” – the Maiden Trap (美人計).

Geese were seen flying and someone remarked that even the birds swooped down to have a look at the beauty of Wang Chiao Chun (王昭君) as she was enroute as bride to the Shanyu (chief) of the Hiong Nu barbarians. The Han emperor relied on his court painter as a way to see who the palace beauties were. Court ladies vied with each other by bribing the court painter to paint them in a more flattering way. Wang Chiao Chun refused as she could paint a portrait of herself. In anger the court painter dotted a mole on her face. The emperor was informed that such a mole portends an early death to the husband. So when the Hiong Nu Shanyu came demanding a princess to be his bride, Wang was given away in the hope that her mole would cause an early demise of the enemy. Woe was the day to the Court Painter when the Emperor came face to face with Wang as he saw her off.

9. Such is the power of menstrual blood that both good and evil forces are adverse to its presence.

10. In Taoism the 3 nether regions are the pubic regions, about two inches below the navel, where it is believed that the ‘chi’ (氣) or vitality of a person resides. These upper, middle and lower regions are also known as 3 ‘Worms’. The seven orifices of the head - the eyes, ears, nostrils and mouth.

11. The original text is “I cannot stand with her in this life” i.e. to go through life with this person etc.

12. This is a quaint custom of the Chinese whereby having a joyous occasion such as a wedding or some grand celebration can counteract malignant influence especially when a family member is gravely ill. This is known as ‘instigating joy’ (冲喜). In some cases when the groom is very sick or is too young to be married, a chicken is substituted for the groom – ‘chicken wedding’ (雞婚). This happens usually in rich families where an older girl is married to a pre-pubescent boy to be looked after by this wife. When the boy is old enough to be married, this “wife” may be discarded.

13. The actual meaning is that when someone died virulently such as in a drowning, the soul is condemned to wander forever until it can find a substitute to take its place. For example a ruse could be to mimic someone struggling in the river in the hope for a Samaritan to go to its rescue. The victim is then drowned by the ghost or spirit who can then be on its way to reincarnation. However such beliefs are inconsistent with Buddhist doctrines in which every soul is judged and punished in Hades for their former evil deeds before being reincarnated in the Wheel of Transmigration into some insect, animal, or human in varying degrees of social status.

14. Name of some fairy palace.

15. Chang-O (嫦娥) was the beautiful wife of Hou I (后羿) the divine archer who shot down 9 of the 10 suns (in the form of crows) that appeared simultaneously in the sky to prevent the earth from burning up. In gratitude the people made him king. Later at Mt. Kung Lun he met the Queen Mother of the Western Paradise (西王母) who gave him some pills of immortality. There are two versions of what happened next. One version is that he became a tyrant and Chang-O stole the pills to prevent him from becoming an immortal and the other is that Chang-O was curious and stole the pills for herself. Whatever the case is she was discovered and downed the pills. She became lighter and fled away to the moon while Hou I shot arrows at her in one version; or in another version, she was filled with much remorse for her action. She lived in the Great Cold Palace (廣寒宫) in the moon with a rabbit pounding elixir under an osmanthus (桂) tree.

Original Text

桃花女陰陽鬥傳

第十三回

邪鬥正神聖無私
真贏假陰陽有準

再說任桃花小姐花轎一到周公門首,早有紅、黑二神應兆:一奉周公天罡正法,要打死桃花小姐;一奉任小姐、煞真人的神咒,特來搭救護他。當下二神聖各各說明其原由,登時各駕雲端,各歸本位去了。只有桃花小姐的花轎,一路出了大門,鼓樂喧天,笙簧載道,無數家丁前呼後擁,跨著駿馬雕鞍而去。街坊上的百姓見周公是歸田相爺娶媳,花轎用綾綢結成,繡刺十八洞天仙圍繞上,周圍紅緞包過,真乃光耀奪目,無不讚美道:“公家與民間迥別!”內有明知周公無公子的,皆云:“續娶夫人,自然奢華也!”桃花女在轎中聽得此言,心中惱恨道:“若不生處周乾,焉能解今日之恥?”一路十八洞仙像,各凶神不敢近,所以桃花女安然無事。花轎一到週宅門首,任家的人役就教蔣媒:“快請週宅的人出來熏轎!”蔣媒進內達知周公。熏轎畢,周公便問蔣媒:“你見任桃花上轎之時,有什麼響動?”蔣媒道:“小婦人在旁邊,見他父母抱他上轎,一時響動沒有。”周公聞言大驚,說道:“奇了!想來這桃花法力也不小。連黑煞神大帥他也能躲得過,料想那大門外這些凶神又不中用矣!還虧把喪門、弔客請來,暗暗的在他左右,看這陰人還有什麼手段法力來破解!”便對蔣媒道:“他既要孤的人役出外與之熏轎,即孤自去也何妨?左右,快與孤拿熨斗燒焚起來。放柏葉、芸香在內,待孤熏了轎,好待這陰人進門去!”當時左右家人早已預備各樣物件,拿與周公。他即接轉忙跑出外,向著那花轎前繞著走了三回。但這周公不知那柏葉、芸香是僻邪之物,一刻滅絕了哭喪等一眾邪神,早已站立不住,各已閃避了。只有桃花小姐在轎中聽得周公親自出來熏轎,少不得是暗暗笑他。又言:“好呆子周乾也!連柏葉、芸香能僻滅諸邪妖,也不明矣。”觀此便知周公不及這桃花女,他所用取之物俱是破解他的凶神邪妖的,周公盡皆不知,只道桃花女有什麼法力治得各凶神之意耳,周乾不知各物相生相剋也。當時周乾熏完了花轎,走進大門,把這熨斗各物丟在一邊,又吩咐:“各閒人俱各站開!待等新人上大堂下轎,你們再……。”那周公的意思,明知自已下了辣手,今桃花女一登上大堂,自有手段作用。思量要自家的本領與人看看,方仗他之能,二者又報了昨前連連破他八卦之恨。

今日指望桃花女必死在轎中,即傳言出去,說公爺之命,吩咐上大堂方止步,抬進花轎進門。但是晚彭剪受了桃花女的傳法,看住轎夫抬起了花轎,他便先行幾步,走至大門口,面朝里,背朝外,取出柳弓一把,桃箭一枝,雙手舉起弓箭,搭催扣定,高聲念道:  柳木弓,桃木箭,射了左扇時射右扇,喪門、弔客影無踪,一切凶神不見面。當此彭剪搭上了弓箭,念咒語了,照定門上正中一箭。惟有喪、吊二位凶神最怕這兩樣東西,弓弦一響之時,二神那里站立得住?即忙忙駕上雲端,回歸本位去了。故今後世一逢不吉時年,大門上皆掛著柳弓、桃箭,就是這個緣故了。

當時周公只道桃花女定不能退走兩位凶煞神,桃花女必然訂決,故私自出來在旁偷看,即親自出持熨斗繞轎,亦是藉意而出耳,豈知反在桃花小姐算中!此時彭剪初發一箭,見射的高興了,也再放第二箭,豈料那枝箭便向周公面門飛奔射來,周公眼快,喊聲:“不好!”把頭一閃,剛剛在面旁耳側躲過,心中大怒,喝道:“何人膽大?胡亂在此放箭!”暗抬起頭來,見是彭剪手提著一張小弓兒,便喝道:“好彭剪!敢拿箭來暗射於孤!”彭剪一聞呼喝,吃了一驚,忙把小弓丟下,忙答道:“彭剪怎敢膽大?這是任小姐吩咐,教彭剪射向左右大門,又言公爺勾了什麼喪、吊二客,在大門左右守住,要害死於他,故教我放此弓矢射退二位凶星,他方好下轎進門。我是奉使喚,與彭剪無干。”周公聽了,“哎喲”一聲,連忙掐指一算,跳足連言:“不好了!一旦心血工夫枉用矣!倒敗了孤的事!你且走去罷。”  此時周公進內堂坐下暗想,自道:“喪門、弔客二煞神雖被陰人所破,還有許多惡煞現今聚此,看他又有什麼的破解法來?”

先說桃花女一下了那花轎,一媒扶著他,上下內外堂鋪了紅氈,桃花女穿雙不沾土的黃緞鞋兒,在上面緩緩而行。正在離二重門,見是彭剪在彩轎中取出來一個線作的篩籮到,即忙來至桃花女跟前,雙手拋起,蓋將下來,早把佳人頭罩住,念咒曰:

線作籮比就天羅網,
大紅氈壓住了拌腳繩.
跨馬鞍騎住了星日馬,
羊見凡草走無踪!

當時彭剪照著桃花小姐教的歌兒口中念著,又到二門口把方斗里裝的草抓起來,一把把的向四下亂撒。桃花女趁此忙縱步從那馬鞍上跨將過去,又即忙取出那身邊的寶瓶,內有五穀,自己手中往地下一倒倒出了。正是:

凡人雖作等閒看,
到了仙家自有靈。

此時桃花小姐一程到了內大堂。當時周府的一眾使女、僕婦,皆知是周公要用法力治死任小姐,任小姐一出轎即要死,如今見他安然無事,方知他的法術更高,周公用的反為所破解;又聽得蔣氏所說,言他有沉魚落雁之容,國色天姿,那個不想看看他?把一所內大堂,早已圍得密密的,乃陰氣太盛。有眾凶神一路被桃花女用法制住,不敢近侵,見他已過了方位,陰氣又太多,婦女們身上有不潔淨者不少,其眾凶神恐防沾染觸了穢氣,不能歸位,只得一齊駕雲,各歸本位去訖。

當下周公見桃花女安然無事,一連進了三門,直至內堂,安安穩穩,只氣怒的三尸神暴燥,七竅內生煙,罵聲:“好本領的陰人!敢連破孤的法術。孤與你結怨已深,誓不與陰人兩立!”又聽得蔣媒叫道:“任家來的人只是要請新郎出來交拜,這便如何?”周公聞言,急的磨手無策,暗自言:“那便怎的打算?”想了一刻,無計可施,無可奈何,叫了親生愛女天香小姐的,充當新郎來應一應,“快叫使女快去請小姐!”又喚過管家的婦人來,吩咐如此如此。

再言這婦人來至桃花小姐跟前說:“公爺說,今日不利日,新郎不合與新娘見面。令教我小姐來與新人交拜,權作新人,入房坐坐帳。”桃花小姐聽了,暗暗喜悅道:“今日有了替身,不用又費一番作用也!”便立等不動,將那寶瓶交與蔣媒,暗在胸前錦囊內取了一面青銅鏡,收入了袖裡,高高兩手拱著,算定了計。

又道天香小姐進來了,是聽的鼓樂喧天,揚揚盈耳。當下兩位佳人拱揖相讓一番,然後交拜已畢,又有一班侍女擁隨後面,進了洞房。其時天香小姐便與桃花女揭去了蓋面的紅綾,他便定眼把桃花女一看,只見他生得不啻蕊宮仙女、月殿嫦娥,心中十分愛慕。只暗嘆道:“可惜可惜,生得千嬌百媚花容,今日被我父親治死,真可憐也!”桃花女也將天香小姐一看,真是:

娥眉如月巧彎成,
二目秋波亮若星,
八寶釵環添秀色,
嫣然一顧顯嬌情。

當日桃花女見了天香小姐的花容,也暗暗讚羨:“好一位美貌佳人!是人間少有之姿。只可憐今夜代替我身死!”二位佳人暗中同惜恨,均同一心,然而二人皆不死的,此是後話。此時天香小姐先開言喚聲:“任家姐姐請上床帳來坐罷。”

不知桃花小姐如何答話,能避得過白虎星在床否,且看下回分解。

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Peach Blossom Girl Dueling Magic - Chapter 12

 
Copyright © 2010 - Jeff Loh. All rights reserved


Peach Blossom Girl Dueling Magic

Chapter 12

To free from a trap, know its mechanism,
To know the future, understand first its mysterious principles.

Let’s talk about Lord Chou as he burnt the fourth seal. Unlike the previous times, the sky roared differently this time. Down came a most ferocious-looking God. One stanza of seven characters attest to his appearance:

Pure silvery helmet birthing in an aura of death,
Donned in white armour layered with dragon scales.
A belt studded with polished jade so precious,
With war boots exhaling five colored auspicious clouds.
A Face powdered in arsenic1, divine eyebrows a standing,
Eyes glaring with light into four corners – truly a fearsome sight!
A heavenly body that is ten foot tall,
With a raised Square Heaven halberd2 held in hand.
Ask what name of this Lord may be,
Everywhere silenced by his prestige – for this is the White Tiger God2-9.

The White Tiger Lord approached the table and questioned,

“Conjurer, what task has thee for me to perform?”

Lord Chou replied,

“Blasphemy it is if no purpose is at hand. Peach Blossom is to be received into this household at tomorrow’s hour of Si. Conceal thy divine power until she awaits in the bridal chamber3 . Bite her to death and resume to your proper place.”
The White Tiger God obeyed, turned himself into a glittering spark and flew away into the heavens. After summoning the four orthodox Gods, Lord Chou put his Heavenly Dipper Divine Book away and tidied his hair. He then ordered his servants to put everything away. Lord Chou was in a great mood as he returned to his chamber muttering to himself,

“Peach Blossom Ren! Even if you can fly to heaven with your great powers, you will not be able to escape what’s in store for you! I’m not venomous in summoning these four orthodox Gods. It’s you who got yourself into this predicament!”

The fourth beat of the drums were sounded and Lord Chou went to sleep. Let’s not talk of him and his night activities any more but Peach Blossom’s determination to meet the challenge. She was set to see who was going to be more skilled in the magical arts as she put all her treasures in order. Next morning after washing her face and combing her hair, she quickly entered her backyard to water her peach trees. Her heart was uneasy and kneaded her fingers at once. Then she knew all that had happened and burst into a wry smile,

“Lord Chou! You belittle me. So now you have added four more vicious Gods to stab me in the back. Too bad your work is in vain. What harm can you do to me?”

With those words, she returned to her sewing room immediately. Inside her prepared brocade pouch, she took out a peach tree sprig and returned to the backyard. Muttering an incantation, she blew into the sprig and shouted,

“As-you-wish-master, return to your true form!”

Suddenly the peach sprig lengthened and in no time turned into a seven foot long halberd-like weapon. Wielding it in her hand, she took out an azure silk veil and covered her powdered face. With another hand she held a formula, recited an incantation, pointed the halberd into the air and she ordered,

“Where art thou is the Red God of Malignancy4 ? Descend quickly!”

Peach Blossom’s magical skills are greater than Lord Chou’s. This is because not only had she been trained long in the Jade Pools of Western Paradise but her heavenly book was bestowed by the Immortal of Malignancy who is the Lord overseeing all other malignant Gods. Peach Blossom’s incantation was the direct command used by Immortal of Malignancy himself to summon the Gods of Malignancy. Hence burning paper charms or casting the Big Dipper configuration was not needed. After a gust of wind died, down came a God donned in golden armor. Standing in the peach garden he bellowed,

“Conjurer, why thou dost call upon me?”

When Peach Blossom saw the Marshal of the Red Malignancy, she quickly closed both eyes and answered,

“Lord Chou performs services by making predictions thus violating Heaven’s Will. I invalidated his predictions. Still befuddled, he has no regret nor sees the need to pacify the anger of Heaven. From his venomous heart comes a marriage ruse, and a bidding to the Marshal of Black Malignancy to be his cohort and to guard the main gate entrance. He will strike me dead as I enter the bridal sedan! I have no choice but to borrow thy divine prowess for covert protection. As the God of Black Malignancy strikes me with his steel lash, I beg thee to use thy golden mace to parry it. After this small fairy enters the bridal sedan safely, you may return to your proper place. To disobey me is to be punished accordingly to the infractions proscribed in the Book!”

As Peach Blossom ended her incantation, the Red God of Malignancy left on a gust of wind.

Slowly she tidied up her hair and blew a fairy breath onto the halberd which transformed back to its original form of a peach sprig. Breaking off three tender peach shoots and a peach branch she returned to her room. There she began to make them into a long bow and three arrows. After putting them aside, she took out some cotton threads and began to weave a cross5 here and a cross there. Soon a sieve-like basket was formed. When the woof and weft were set snuggly she put everything away. Looking up at the sky, her ears were shaken with the drum beat sounds for the hour of Si.

In came Ren Tai Kung and wife, clad in auspicious clothing who in a hurried manner exclaimed,

“My dear, the carriage from Lord Chou has arrived. What are you going to do now?”

Peach Blossom wept as she heard the words,

“Father, mother! For sixteen autumns, you reared your daughter in vain. Today she’s to enter the Chou’s family. This I cannot avoid, there’ll be a fearsome life and death struggle whose outcome is unknown. I have a few words for you two. Please listen carefully my august ones!”

Through their sobs, Ren Tai Kung and wife replied,

“Worry not my daughter, please go with ease. We’re sure that the magic of Lord Chou will achieve no victory over you. If you have anything to say, just go ahead and say it. Nothing’s inappropriate. We two old biddies shall heed your words!”

The little miss then recited,

No Ying no Yang will approach,
Be charitable and there’s no regret.
No descendants now but later there will be,
When life ends on that day you’ll fly!
On streaks of clouds high over imperial towers6,
That day is the hours of Zi, Wu, Jia and Mao.
Think not the destinies of Heaven and Earth,
But the Peach Gardens waiting long for their gardeners7
A shining example to show the world the joys of being charitable!

These words are meant for Ren Tai Kung and wife that when their lives on this earth end, they shall ascend to heaven to become guardian Gods of the Peach Garden8. This happens after the story so no need for further elaboration. Peach Blossom then continued,

“The hour of Si is approaching, your daughter has to prepare. Parents, please don’t be sad!”
How can Ren Tai Kung and wife not bear their parting? The two old biddies tried holding on to their daughter while sobbing out loudly. Just at this moment in their inextricable embrace, servant girls came reporting,

“Master Pang has arrived!”

On hearing the news, Ren Tai Kung and wife stopped their sobs and looked up. Pang Jian came in and greeted the couple,

“Uncle and auntie and my virtuous sister, please don’t cry. Your nephew has something to say.”

Ren Tai Kung gazed at Pang Jian and his anger grew, shouting at him,

“Pang Jian! What a good fellow you have been! My daughter had warned you several times not to let the cat out of the bag and yet you leaked everything out. Lord Chou is now our mortal enemy. This marriage is an excuse to harm my daughter! He has no son, intending to do away with our daughter once she is in his place. I’m warning you that if anything happens to her, this old life shall fight the two of you till kingdom come!”

Pang Jian turned green and then red in angst. Quickly he knelt down begging,

“Your insignificant nephew did not admit to anything even after several interrogations had taken place and even after suffering a few hundred strokes of flogging ordered by Lord Chou. Only when his sword was out threatening to cut me into two that I had no choice but to tell the truth. I was punished and not allowed to leave the house. I could not come to report. I know my fault piles up to heaven. I really didn’t know that he’s using this marriage as a ruse…”

Before Pang Jian could finish his sentence, Peach Blossom cut in and said,

“Father, mother, please don’t put the blame on him.”

And she continued,

“Brother, today you’re here on orders of Lord Chou, tis not the time for idle talk. I’ve very important and serious matters to deal with. You must heed every word I tell you. Right now, here’s something for you to do.”

With that, she took out the bow and arrows and continued instructing,

“Keep these on you. When my bridal sedan enters the main gate, you must do this and this.”

As Pang Jian nodded his head continuously, Peach Blossom took out the thread sieve she made and gave him detailed instructions on what to do. Taking the sieve, he secretly went outside and placed it in the bridal sedan.

Peach Blossom took a few more articles with her as she prepared herself for the wedding. An Eight Treasure Pearl Coronet was placed on her head. Red robes of court officials befitting her station became her wedding gown. A Taoist symbol design was embroidered on yellow satin shoes. She stood on her brick bed9 so that her feet did not touch the ground. Finally as she added a belt studded with blue jade, matchmaker Chiang came into the inner hall with a three foot long red silk and a pair of precious vases filled with five grains. Peach Blossom held onto the pair of vases as she taught matchmaker Chiang how to veil it over the bride’s head. Then thinking to herself,

“This woman is a schemer, why don’t I make use of her!”

With that in mind, she casually called out,

“Mother Chiang, at all times you must stay at my side. You shall be rewarded with twenty taels of silver when I return home tomorrow.”

When matchmaker Chiang heard these words, in glee and joy she exclaimed,
“Miss, today this old crone is here to carry you over the threshold, how could I take more of Tai Kung’s boon?”

Ren Tai Kung said,

“Just take care of my daughter, carry her over the threshold safely and a boon of twenty taels of silver shall be yours. This I promise you.”

The miss then bade her father to help her into the bridal sedan. All articles used by Peach Blossom today are no trifle things but as protection to thwart the Gods of Malignancy. Who knew that such actions would become the custom and a ritual must for all later weddings.

Ren Tai Kung quickly helped to carry Peach Blossom into the bridal sedan10 and wailed loudly,

“My daughter! You asked for your father’s aid in carrying you into the bridal sedan, you who have been with your parents for so long… Today you’ve grown up. I wish that you and your husband shall live to a hundred in harmony and prosper with numerous grandchildren. To thee, great happiness, longevity and nothing to fear.”

Mrs. Ren came along, crying - a real separation between mother and daughter where each could not contain their feelings. No son for this couple, just only a daughter. Today’s separation drenched in sorrow without knowing what portends in the future. Even Pang Jian was shaken by their weeping and sobbed as well. Just as Peach Blossom was about to sit down, a strange gust of wind blew towards the bridal sedan. Then a steel mace appeared, poised to strike - the action of the Lord of Black Malignancy on Lord Chou’s orders to strike Peach Blossom as she entered the bridal sedan. Then suddenly out of nowhere, a golden mace came forth and parried the steel mace as it fell on the bridal sedan. The Lord of Red Malignancy appeared. On seeing his steel mace unable to strike further down, the Lord of Black Malignancy thundered wryly,

“By the orders of Conjurer Chou’s Bigger Dipper formation, I am to strike Ren Peach Blossom dead. Honorable Lord, why thou dost parry my blows to save her? No longer can I fulfill the conjurer’s orders, what now then?”

The Lord of Red Malignancy laughed along,

“I too am under the orders of Ren Peach Blossom. She used the summoning commands of the Immortal of Malignancy. Both conjurers are the Ying and the Yang elements battling wits. Ren Peach Blossom is of the orthodox path and under orders of the Jade Edict to be born on this earth. She is to annoy and provoke Lord Chou into a battle so that both can return to their proper places in Heaven and not remain on earth. Soon it is, their date of return. Must we obey their summons and destroy our harmonious relation?”

When the Lord of Black Malignancy heard the answer he replied,

“Ye words are most wise and most compatible with the mysterious will of Heaven. Let’s return to our proper places.”

With that both Gods left for heaven. To know what happens next please read the next chapter.

Notes:

1. In the original text, white color was understood from the words ‘face powder’. However the words lack power to describe the white face of the God. Hence I used the silvery white color of arsenic to achieve the desired descriptive effect.

2. An ancient weapon of warfare. In later times, it was used for ceremonial purposes.


3. After performing the kowtowing ceremony, a bride is led to the bridal chamber. There she is entertained by female guests and members of the groom’s family while the groom feasts with his male relatives and guests in the outer hall. The guests will try to make the groom drunk. A substitute may be used. This is known as arena fighting (打擂臺). When the groom is allowed to enter the chamber, more obstacles are thrown by the females to prevent him from entering. This ritual continues for some reasonable time or until the ladies have been bribed with red packets of money to leave sooner. All this while, the veiled bride sits patiently on the curtained bed. Finally when the newlyweds are alone, the groom lifts the red veil to see the bride for the first time and they make a toast to each other. Not until the next morning when the mother-in-law inspect the mandatory white handkerchief placed on the bed as proof of the bride’s virginity that she is officially accepted as wife. If no blood stains are found, the bride is returned immediately to her home and the marriage contract is deemed null and void.

4. So far I have avoided the translation of the character, 煞, ‘Sa’. Terms such as煞神 were translated Gods of Catastrophe or Gods of Malignancy. However this word denotes a Chinese concept unknown to western cultures other than auras of evil. ‘Sa’ is a Feng Shui term denoting objects or spirits containing too much negative energy that can cause bodily harm by contact. According to Yin and Yang principles, life is positive energy while dead things are negative. Sickness is caused when a person has too much negative energy and eventually death results if all positive energy is drained away.

Contact with unclean things such as ghosts and demons are termed as the ‘collision of evil’, 撞煞. When someone destroys too many living things, he is tainted with an aura of ‘Sa’, often translated as an aura of Malignancy, 煞氣. This does not mean that the aura is evil. Black and Red ‘Sa’ belong to this kind of malignant auras. Black Malignancy refers to the auras emanating from the dead which can be seen by ‘sensitive people’(people ‘born with a veil’ or psychic) (Black is the color of mourning in China).Red 'Sa' is the result from either exposure to excessive accumulation of bones of corpses or from extremely deep grievances of spirits and ghosts. The Red ‘Sa’ is the final evolutionary form of Black ‘Sa’. It is most injurious to life but luckily one does not encounter it often.

5. The Chinese character for the numeral ten, ’十' is shaped like a cross.

6. Imperial towers were the tallest structures in those days hence denoting great heights.

7. 大椿 is a legendary tree of great longevity. Later it meant one’s father. Here the poem’s intention was that the garden needed their father to take care of it.

8. Most probably the peach gardens of the Queen Mother of Western Heaven, 西王母.

9. 炕 is a brick bed that can be heated from within. Northern Chinese sleep on ‘Kangs’ while southern Chinese sleep on beds.

Traditional kangs of the rich















































This one is for the former lower ranking imperial concubines


















Traditional in contemporary setting.












This is the bare minimum of the poorer classes.















Modern ones


























This is how the bed is being heated up.














This ultra modern one is electrically heated!

 














10. I personally witnessed as a kid such a wedding ritual in my aunt’s wedding. A middle aged woman was needed to carry my 4th aunt into the car (reflecting the times of the late 1950s).


Original Text

桃花女陰陽鬥傳

第十二回

明陷阱顧圖解脫
知後事先洩玄機

卻說周公又把第四道靈符化了,只聽得空中風聲大作,與別的神祗不同,降下了一位猛烈神。有一首七字讚為證:

潔白銀盔生殺氣,
素披甲上砌龍鱗。
腰中繫寶磨珍玉,
戰靴五彩起祥雲。
面如傅粉神眉豎,
眼光四射好驚人!
法體金身高一丈,
畫戟方天手內擎。
若問此尊神名字,
威鎮四方白虎神。

白虎神來至桌前,道:“法官有何法旨差遣?”周公道:“無事不敢褻瀆,只因明日巳時,迎娶任桃花。伏乞尊神神力發威,在洞房中坐帳時,將此女咬死,方請回歸本位。”白虎神領了法旨,亦閃閃騰空而去。當下周公請完了四位正神,把《天罡神書》收起,理好了髮鬢,叫人進來撤去供物,回至上房,心中大喜。暗自言道:“任桃花!孤看你有回天本事,也難脫得來此災!請這四位尊神,不是心中萬毒,暗害於你,也是你自取之禍也!”想了一回,時交四鼓,方才睡去。一夜無話。

且說桃花女一心要與周公見個上下,便把一切寶物,收拾齊備。到了次日清晨,梳洗已畢,忙到後園澆了桃樹,自覺心中不寧。忙掐指一算,便知袖裡陰陽,自不由暗笑,叫言:“周公!你小覷了我。今又添請了四位凶神,想來暗害,可惜你枉用心機,怎能得來害我?”忙迴轉繡房,將收拾的錦囊打開,取出一枝小小的桃枝,拿至後園。口中念念有詞,用氣往桃枝上一吹,喝聲:“如意主,好還原!”忽見那桃枝一刻長將起來,竟似一枝七足長的畫戟一樣,提在手中,把青絲打開,反罩了他的粉面,一手掐訣,口中念咒,將畫戟往上一指,喝曰:“紅煞尊神速降!”桃花的根基道法,比周公高些,自他在瑤池修煉的久,天書又是煞真人所賜——煞真人乃諸神聖的首領,桃花女念的咒是煞真人勾神咒——故此不用燒符佈斗,一陣風過後,就落下一尊神,金盔金甲,立在桃園,口稱:“法師喚吾神有何使用?”桃花小姐一見紅煞大帥下界,忙緊閉雙目,道:“今日周乾賣卦,洩漏天機,被小仙兩次破解,尚不知醒,痛悔前非,以挽回天怒,今又立下萬毒心,用誆親之計,暗遣黑煞大帥守在門前,專侯上轎之時,要害我之性命!今不得已,借使尊神神力,在暗中保護,到臨期見黑煞神鋼鞭下時,求乞尊神用金鞭架住,待小仙的上了彩輿出門之後,方可領黑煞神一同復位。如違,按法書所貶!”  桃花女撒訣,紅煞神即隨風而去。任小姐慢慢的紮好青絲,向畫戟上吹了一口仙氣,便仍是一棱小小桃株。小姐又在桃樹上撅了三枝嫩枝兒,又把柳樹枝兒撅了一條,一齊帶回繡房中,親自做了一張弓兒,三枝箭兒,放在一邊。又取了幾根棉線來,左十字,右十字,做了一個像篩籮的樣兒,分經出緯的,用戒法戒好了,一齊收拾。看看天將巳時牌,又聽外邊鼓樂到門,鏗鏘之聲振耳。

忽見太公夫妻全穿著吉服,連忙走進來,喚叫:“兒呀,周家的彩輿已到門了,你如今怎麼樣?”桃花小姐聞言,不覺垂淚道:“爹,娘!你兩老空養女兒一十六秋。今日女兒到周家,必不相容,有一場惡鬥,生死已難預料定。只有幾句言詞,兩位大人須要在意!”任太公夫妻早已痛哭起來,說道:“我兒不必過憂,且放心前去,料得周公法術鬥兒不過。你有話,只管講說明,不須隱諱,我兩老那一個不依你?”小姐便念道:

無陰無陽不到頭,
莫道行善反無後。
無兒日後卻有兒,
大數來時白日飛!
雙跨木雲朝玉闕,
子午甲戊是了期。
絲毫不想天地數,
桃園久已待孤椿。
方顯人間行善樂!

此皆是任太公日後夫妻自日飛升,作桃園的上神。此是結局後話,不多提。只有桃花小姐說完了,又言:“巳刻時辰己到,孩兒也要收拾收拾預備。爹娘不必傷心!”惟有任太公夫妻那裡忍得住?兩老上前攜住桃花女,放聲大哭。

正在難解難分之際,只聽得使女們回說:“彭太爺來也!”有任太公夫妻聞言,止了哭泣,抬頭一看,果是彭剪走進來了。開言叫:“叔、嬸、賢恩妹,不須苦哭了,小侄有話告禀。”當下任太公一見他便含了怒:“彭剪!你是好人呀!我女兒一再叮囑於你,叫你不要說破,你今竟已說洩出來,使周公記下仇,結下冤,今用此誆親之計來算計我女兒!他是本無公子。不過候我兒出門後,要置治他之意。此去我女兒若無差池便罷,若有差池,我這條老命定同你一併周公拚了。與你二人勢不兩立!”當下彭剪聽了,急的面青面紅,雙足亂跳,道:“小侄那日何嘗肯直說?至周公三番五次詰問,又打我數百,仍不肯說出,到後來他大怒,惡狠狠仗劍要殺我,我不得已說出來。他把我問罪了,不許我出門,由此不得到來禀告知,原是罪大如天,教我今又不知他用這些誆親之計……”
彭剪口說未完,這桃花女叫:“爹爹、母親不必埋怨錯怪於他了。”又呼:“哥哥,如今周公差你來的,不是說閒話的時候。我正要有重重大事,在你須要謹謹依我調度。我今有些東西交與你。”說畢,忙取了弓箭一把,交彭剪道:“你可收下帶在身上,候我花轎一進大門,你可如此如此,這般行事。”彭剪連連點點頭。又把個線做成的篩籮交與他,密密的囑咐了一回。彭剪接下,暗暗拿了出去,放在花轎內。

桃花女隨帶了各物,頭戴八寶珠冠,身穿大紅蟒袍,足下穿一雙黃緞道鞋,不肯沾土,就站在炕上,戴好了碧玉帶。蔣媒此時也到了,進至中堂。忙拈遞上三尺紅綾,一對寶瓶,內盛滿了五穀。桃花女教他把紅綾蓋在他的頭上,一隻手提一個寶瓶,心中暗想,自言:“此婦心術不正,我今番用他替我罷!”隨叫一言:“蔣媽媽,你不可離我左右,明日來我家,賞你白銀二十兩。”蔣媒聽了,大悅道:“小姐,老身本是到來扶持小姐過門的,如何又敢妄領太公的賞?”任太公道:“只要好好的小心扶持,待我女兒過去,我就賞你銀子二十兩,定不虛言。”

又道小姐便叫父親來抱他上轎。 ——今日桃花女用的人並物件,原是為鎮破那些凶神惡煞之作用,豈知後來人大凡迎娶,俱照此式這般行事,日後竟成了風俗,作為要事。 ——一刻,任太公便把桃花女抱將過去,大哭:“兒呀!你要老父抱過你出去,願同你老父母一般大年紀,今日成人長大,夫妻百年好合,子孫昌盛,福壽綿長,百無禁忌。”有任安人也跟隨在後,一程送出,放聲大哭。正是母女分別,情不能已,況且他無兒子,止有此女,今日一別,又未知吉凶如何,正見苦切。放聲大哭。連打動彭老,也陪些眼淚。桃花小姐得任太公抱上轎,方才坐下。忽然一陣怪風向花轎吹去,只見一鋼鞭打過來。原來是周公請到黑煞神,一見上了轎,忙將鋼鞭打下。只見左邊又飛出一條金鞭,把鋼鞭架住,這紅煞神早已露出法體。這黑煞神見紅煞神架住他鞭,不能打下。有黑煞神道:“吾奉周法官的夭罡正法來打死任桃花女,尊神何故用金鞭架救脫此女?令吾不能覆他法旨,奈何?”有紅煞神陪笑臉道:“吾也奉任桃花用炁真人的神咒勾來救他,二人須乃係陰陽鬥智,然畢竟任桃花出於正,他乃奉玉旨臨凡,要激惱周公爭鬥,以返本還原,免生墮落於凡塵也。他二人歸期不遠矣,我二人又何必聽其私勾使喚以傷和氣的?”黑煞神聽了,道:“尊神所論,深合玄妙之旨。請各歸本位。”當時,二神駕雲回天。後事如何。且看下同分解.