Copyright © 2010 - Jeff Loh. All rights reserved
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.