The Outlaws of the Marsh Chapter 5 the Tattooed Monk & Peach Blossom Village
- Posted on: 2023-02-10
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- ▸ The Outlaws of the Marsh
Drunk, the Little King Raises the Gold-Spangled Bed Curtains
Lu the Tattooed Monk Throws Peach Blossom Village into Confusion
"Sagacious," said the abbot, "you definitely can't stay here. In the Eastern Capital a Buddhist brother of mine, called the Lucid Teacher, is the abbot of the Great Xiangguo Monastery. Take this letter to him and ask him to find you a job. Last night I had a vision and composed a four-line prophetic verse to guide your destiny. You must remember these words."
Kneeling before him, Lu said: "I'd like to hear the prophecy."
The abbot intoned: "Take action in the forest, prosper in the mountains, flourish amid the waters, but halt at the river."
Sagacious kowtowed to the abbot nine times, shouldered his knapsack, tied bundles round his waist, and placed the letter in a pocket. He bid farewell to the abbot and the monks, left Mount Wutai, put up in the inn next door to the ironsmith and waited for his staff and sword. The monks were glad to be rid of him. The abbot told the lay brothers to clean up the wreckage of the guardian idols and the pavilion. A few days later Squire Zhao brought some money personally and had the idols and pavilion repaired. Of this we'll say no more.
Sagacious waited several days at the inn. When his two weapons were finished, he made a sheath for the knife and had the staff painted. He gave some extra silver to the smith, shouldered his knapsack, hung the knife at his waist, took up the staff, bid farewell to the innkeeper and the ironsmith, and set forth.
"What a tough-looking monk," people on meeting him thought.
He took the road for the Eastern Capital and travelled for more than half a month. Lu didn't stop at any monasteries. He always spent the night at inns and ate in taverns during the day.
As he was walking along one afternoon he became so absorbed in the beauty of the hills and streams that he failed to notice the lateness of the hour. Suddenly he realized he'd never reach the next inn before dark, and he had no travelling companion. Where could he spend the night?
He hastened on another twenty or thirty li. While crossing a wooden bridge he observed in the distance, shimmering beneath scarlet sunset clouds, a manor house in a grove of trees. Behind it rose massive tumbling mountains.
"I'd better put up for the night in the manor," Lu said to himself.
As he drew near, he saw scores of peasants busily moving things from one place to another. At the entrance to the manor he rested his staff and hailed a few vassals.
"What brings you to our manor this evening, monk?" they asked.
"I couldn't reach an inn before dark," he replied. "I hope your manor will put me up for the night. I'll be moving on tomorrow morning."
"We're busy tonight. You can't stay."
"It's only for one night. Tomorrow, I'll leave."
"Hurry along, monk. Don't hang around here if you want to live."
"That's strange talk. Why such a fuss about spending one night? What's so dangerous?"
"Get going. Otherwise you're liable to be seized and bound."
Sagacious lost his temper. "Can't you oafs be civil? I haven't said a word against you, and you threaten to tie me up!"
Some of the peasants swore at him, others tried to calm him. Lu raised his staff to sail into them when an old man emerged from the manor. About sixty, he walked with a staff higher than his head.
"What are you rowing about?" he shouted at his vassals as he approached.
"That wretched monk wants to hit us," they replied.
"I'm on my way to the Eastern Capital from Mount Wutai," said Lu. "I couldn't reach an inn and I asked to stay the night in the manor. But these surly louts want to tie me up."
"Since you're a reverend from Mount Wutai," said the old man, "come with me."
Sagacious followed him into the main building where they took their seats as host and guest. "Our peasants didn't know you were from the place of the living Buddha, Reverend," said the old man. "Don't hold it against them. They thought you were an ordinary monk. I myself have always respected Buddha, his teachings, and his disciples. Although we're busy tonight, we shall be glad to put you up."
Lu rested his staff, stood up and bowed respectfully. "Thank you, patron. May I ask you honorable name?"
"Our family name is Liu. Because this place is called Peach Blossom Village, the peasants refer to me as Grandpa Liu of Peach Blossom Village. May I ask the reverend's name, and what he is called in the Buddhist order?"
"My surname is Lu. Our abbot gave me the Buddhist title of Sagacious."
"Please have dinner with us, Reverend. Are you a meat abstainer by any chance?"
"I'm not opposed to wine or meat. The wine can be clear or cloudy. Beef or dog meat, I eat them all."
"Since you have no special scruples, I'll have my vassals serve you meat and wine."
A table was set up, and chopsticks laid out. Vassals brought Sagacious a platter of beef and three or four kinds of vegetables. He put aside the bundles which had been tied around his waist and sat himself at the festive board. A vassal warmed the wine and filled Sagacious' cup. The monk didn't need to be coaxed. In a trice he finished off both the pot of wine and the platter of meat. Grandpa Liu, sitting opposite, stared at him in amazement. Rice was brought. Sagacious consumed this as well.
Finally, the table was removed. "Please make yourself comfortable in the wing next door. Reverend," said the old man. "If you hear any noise during the night, don't come out whatever you do."
"Would you mind telling me what's going on here tonight?"
"It's not the sort of thing to discuss with a person who's disowned the material world."
"Why are you looking so unhappy, grandpa? Has my coming here put you to too much bother? Tomorrow, reckon up what I owe you and I'll pay.
"Hear me, Reverend. We give food and shelter to monks often. What difference does one more make? The trouble is my daughter is getting married tonight, and bringing a son-in-law into the family."
Sagacious laughed. "Men and women all must marry. It's an important event in every person's life and perfectly normal. What is there to be upset about?"
"You don't understand, Reverend. We don't want this marriage."
"Silly old man," Lu smiled. "If you aren't willing, why did you agree?"
"I have no other children, and my daughter's only nineteen. Not far from here is a height called Peach Blossom Mountain. Two chieftains built a stronghold on it recently with six or seven hundred men. They pillage and rob, but the police of Qingzhou haven't been able to stop them. A few days ago they came to our manor to collect tribute, and one of the chieftains saw my daughter. He gave me twenty ounces of gold and a bolt of red satin as an engagement pledge, and chose tonight for the wedding. He said they would be married here in the manor. I had no way of opposing him. I had to consent. That's why I'm upset. It's not that I don't welcome you, Reverend."
"So that's how it is. Suppose I reasoned with him and convinced him not to marry your daughter, how would that be?"
"He's a rogue who kills without batting an eye. How can you make him change his mind?"
"When I was on Mount Wutai I learned the Buddhist Laws of Logic from the abbot. Now I can talk a man around even if he's hard as iron. Tell your daughter to hide. I'll reason with the groom in her chamber and get him to call the marriage off."
"It sounds all right, but be sure you don't tweak the tiger's whiskers."
"I want to live too, don't I? Just leave everything to me."
"That's fine. How lucky my family is to have a Buddha like you come down from Heaven!"
The vassals were startled to hear of this arrangement.
"Would you like some more to eat?" this old man asked.
"I don't want any more food," said Lu, "but if you still have some wine you might give me a little."
"We've plenty," Grandpa Liu assured him. He told a vassal to bring a cooked goose and a large wine bowl. Sagacious drank twenty or thirty bowls of wine and finished the goose. A vassal was directed to put his bundles in a guest-room.
Lu took up his staff and knife. "Has your daughter hidden herself, grandpa?" he asked his host.
"I've sent her to a neighbor's."
"Let's go to the bridal chamber, then."
The old man led him to the door of a room. "It's in there."
"Now you can all go about your business."
Grandpa Liu and his vassals went out to prepare the wedding feast. Sagacious pushed aside all the tables and chairs in the room. He put his knife at the head of the bed and leaned his staff against the bedside. Lowering the gold-spangled bed curtains, he stripped to the buff, jumped into the bed and sat there.
It was growing dark. Grandpa Liu ordered his vassals to light lamps in the front and rear of the house. A long table with incense, lamps and candles was set up on the threshing ground. The old man called for large patters of meat and a big pot of warmed wine.
Around the first watch the sound of drums and gongs was heard on the mountainside. Grandpa Liu, worried about his ruse, and the vassals, sweating with apprehension, went out of the manor gate to look.
In the distance forty or fifty torches, turning the night as bright as day, revealed a troop of men, on horse and afoot, speeding towards the manor. Grandpa Liu shouted for his vassals to open the gate wide, and went forward to meet them. The crowding, jostling throng bore gleaming weapons bedecked with ribbons. Wildflowers adorned the hair of the lesser bandits. Four or five red gauze lanterns at the head of the procession illuminated the mounted brigand chieftain. On his head was a peaked hat, indented in front, of pale red, with a lifelike silk flower tucked under it beside his ear. His powerful frame was draped in a green silk robe embroidered with gold thread, bordered with wool, and bound at the waist by a gold-spangled red sash. He wore high-heeled leather boots and rode a big white horse with a curly mane.
At the manor gate the chieftain dismounted. His men crowded round and congratulated him. "In a shiny new hat, tonight you'll be a bridegroom. In well-fitting clothes, tonight you'll be a son-in-law."
Grandpa Liu hurried forward with a cup of good wine on a tray, and knelt before the bandit chief. The vassals did the same. The chieftain raised the old man to his feet.
"You are my father-in-law. You shouldn't kneel to me."
"Don't say that," Grandpa Liu replied. "I'm only one of the subjects in the great chief's domain."
The chieftain, who was already eight-tenths drunk, laughed heartily. "You won't lose out by taking me as a son-in-law. I'm the right match for your daughter."
The old man presented him with the ceremonial cup of wine for the dismounting guest, then led him to the lamp-lit table on the threshing ground. "You shouldn't have arranged such an elaborate welcome, father-in-law," the brigand protested courteously.
He drank three more cups and proceeded to the reception hall. He instructed his men to tie the horses to some willows. Several of the bandits began beating drums and gongs outside the hall.
The chieftain seated himself. "Father-in-law, where is my wife?" he asked the old man.
"She doesn't dare come out. She's too shy."
The brigand laughed. "Bring more wine. I must offer you a return toast." But when he took his cup in hand he said: "I want to see my bride first. I'll drink with you later."
Grandpa Liu was anxious to have the monk reason with him. "I'll show you to her room," he replied. Holding a lighted candle, he escorted the chieftain around a screen to the door of the bridal chamber. "This is it," he said. "Please go in." He departed with his candle. Not at all sure their plan would succeed, he wanted to get out of the way, fast.
The chieftain pushed open the door. Inside it was pitch dark. "That father-in-law of mine is a frugal manager," he muttered. "He doesn't even light a lamp and leaves my bride sitting in the dark. I must have my men bring him a keg of oil from our mountain stronghold tomorrow."
Sagacious Lu, seated behind the bed curtains, muffled his laughter. He didn't utter a sound. The brigand felt his way to the center of the room.
"Wife," he exclaimed, "come out and greet me. Don't be shy. Tomorrow I'll install you as mistress of the fortress." Calling to his "wife," he groped forward until he touched the gold-spangled bed curtains. He opened them and thrust his hand inside. It brushed against Lu's belly. The monk promptly seized the chieftain by the head, hat and all, and pushed him down, struggling, on the bed. Sagacious clenched his right hand into a fist.
"Mother-raping thief," shouted the monk, and struck him a blow on the neck and ear.
"How can you hit your master?" cried the bandit chief.
"I'm teaching you to recognize your mistress," retorted Sagacious. He hauled him off the bed and pummelled and kicked him.
"Help!" howled the bandit.
Outside, Grandpa Liu was paralyzed with shock, for the cry came at the very moment he was sure Sagacious was reasoning with the chieftain. The old man took up a lamp and hurried into the room, followed by a swarm of bandits. They saw a big stout monk, without a stitch of clothes on, seated astride their chieftain beside the bed and thumping him vigorously.
"Save our chief," shouted the bandit in the lead. The others rushed at Sagacious, cudgels and lances in hand.
The monk pushed the chieftain aside, snatched his staff from the bedside, and charged. He attacked so fiercely that the bandits cried out and fled. The old man could only exclaim in dismay.
In the excitement, the chieftain crawled out of the room, ran to the front gate, and groped his way to an unsaddled horse. He broke a branch from a willow, leaped on the animal's back and flailed with his improvised whip. The beast didn't move.
"Woe is me," thought the bandit leader. "This horse is tormenting me too!" Then he looked, and saw that in his haste he had forgotten to untie the rein from the tree. Quickly, he ripped it loose, and dashed away, riding bare-back, at a gallop.
"Just wait, you old donkey," he swore at the old man as he left the manor gate. "Don't think you're going to fly out of this!" He struck the animal another couple of blows with the switch. It scampered pell-mell up the mountain.
Grandpa Liu grasped Sagacious by the arm. "You've brought disaster down on my whole family, Reverend!" he groaned.
"Excuse my bad manners," replied the monk. "Bring my clothes and cassock, then we can talk."
A vassal went back to the room and fetched the garments, and Sagacious dressed.
"I was hoping that you would reason with him, persuade him to change his mind," said the old man. "I never dreamed you were going to beat him up. He's sure to tell all about this when he gets back to the fortress. Now the bandits will come down in force and slaughter me and my family!"
"Don't worry, grandpa. To tell you the truth, I used to be a major in the border garrison of Old General Zhong in Yanan Prefecture. Because I killed a man, I had to become a monk. Two thousand mounted men wouldn't scare me, to say nothing of a few piddling bandit chiefs. Try and lift this staff, you fellows," he said to the listening vassals, "if you don't believe me."
Of course, none of them could do it. Sagacious picked up the staff and twirled it as if it were a lamp wick.
"You mustn't leave us, Reverend," pleaded Grandpa Liu. "My family needs your protection!"
"That goes without saying. I wouldn't leave if my life depended on it."
"Bring wine for the reverend," the old man called. To Lu he said: "But don't drink yourself into a stupor."
"When I'm one-tenth drunk I can use only one-tenth of my skill, but when I'm ten-tenths drunk I'm at the top of my form."
"In that case, all right. I've plenty of wine and meat here. Have as much as you want."
We'll speak now of the head bandit. Seated in his stronghold on Peach Blossom Mountain, he was about to send a man down to see how his second in command was getting on with his wedding when a number of brigands, breathing hard and looking very distraught, rushed in, crying: "Woe, woe!"
"What's wrong?" he demanded quickly. "Why are you in such a pain?"
"Our number two chief has been beaten up!"
The startled leader began to question them. Voices outside exclaimed: "Number Two has come back!"
The head bandit looked. His lieutenant had lost his red hat, his green robe was ripped and tattered. Number Two dismounted and collapsed in front of the hall.
"Save me, brother, save me," he pleaded.
"I went down to the manor and entered the bridal chamber. That wretched old donkey had sent his daughter away and hid a big fat monk in her bed. Not suspecting a thing, I opened the bed curtains and felt around. The lout dragged me down and punched and kicked me till I was black and blue. When our men came to my rescue, he left me, grabbed his staff and went after them. Otherwise, I'd never have escaped with my life. You must avenge me, brother!"
"So that's how it was. You go inside and rest. I'll catch that scabby thief and bring him here," said the head brigand. He called to his men: "Get my horse ready at once. All of you come with me."
He mounted and took his lance in hand. With as many men as he could muster, he rode down the slope. Everyone was shouting and yelling.
To get back to Sagacious Lu. He was drinking in the manor when a vassal announced: "The head bandit is coming down the mountain with a big gang!"
"Don't worry," said Lu. "As I knock them over, you fellows tie them up and take them to the magistrate and collect the rewards. Bring me my sword."
Sagacious removed his cassock, tied up the skirts of his robe, and hung the sword on his belt. Staff in hand, he strode out to the threshing ground. In the light of many torches he saw the head bandit carrying a long lance, riding swiftly towards the manor.
"Where is that scabby donkey?" shouted the brigand chief. "Come out and settle this once and for all!"
"Dirty unflogged scoundrel," swore Lu. "I'll teach you to know me!" Whirling his staff, he charged.
The chieftain parried his blow. "Hold off a minute, monk," he cried. "Your voice is very familiar. What's your name?"
"I'm Lu Da, former major in the garrison of Old General Zhong, and nobody else. Now that I'm a monk, I'm called Sagacious Lu."
The brigand laughed delightedly and rolled from his horse, tossing his weapon aside. He clasped his hands together and saluted.
"I hope you've been well since we parted. So it was you who gave my lieutenant that drubbing!"
At first the monk thought it was a trick. He leaped back a few paces and rested his staff. But when he got a good look at the man in the torchlight he saw it was none other than Tiger-Fighting General Li Zhong, who put on a show with weapons in the streets to sell his medicines.
Li Zhong took Sagacious by the arm. "What made you become a monk, brother?"
"I'll tell you about it inside."
Grandpa Liu, watching, was dismayed. "So the monk is one of them, too," he thought.
Lu went back into the manor house, put on his cassock, then led Li Zhong to the hall to talk over old times. The monk sat down in the middle of the hall and called to Grandpa Liu. But the old man didn't dare come forward.
"Don't be afraid of him, grandpa," said Lu. "He's my brother."
This alarmed the old man even more, and he continued to hang back. Li Zhong took the second-ranking seat. The old man then took the third.
"I will tell you my story, sirs," said the monk. "After killing the 'Lord of the West' in Weizhou with three punches, I fled to Yanmen County in Daizhou Prefecture. There I met Old Jin whom I had saved and sent off to the Eastern Capital. He had gone to Yanmen in stead with a man he knew. His daughter was living with a rich landlord, Squire Zhao, who was very respectful to me the day we met. But the police were hot on my trail, so the squire paid out money and sent me to the abbot on Mount Wutai where I shaved off my hair and became a monk. Because I got drunk twice and rioted in the meditation room, the abbot has given me a letter to the head of the Great Xiangguo Monastery in the Eastern Capital, asking him to give me a job. Last night it was too late to find an inn, so I put up in this manor. I never thought I'd run into you, brother. Who is that fellow I beat up? And what are you doing here?"
"The day after I left you and Shi Jin at the tavern in Weizhou I heard that you had killed Butcher Zheng. I went to talk it over with Shi Jin, but he was gone. Then I heard that the police were after you, so I quickly left, too. I was passing the foot of the mountain here when that fellow you thrashed came down with a gang and attacked me. He's called Zhou Tong, the Little King, and has a stronghold on Peach Blossom Mountain. I defeated him, and he asked me to stay as lord of the fortress, and gave me the first throne. I've been an outlaw from that day on."
"Since you're the leader, call off the marriage to Grandpa Liu's daughter. She's his only child, and he's been hoping she would look after him for the rest of his days. You can't take her and leave him alone."
Grandpa Liu was very pleased. He had food and wine placed before his two guests. Each of the lesser bandits was served two steamed rolls, two slices of meat, and a big bowl of wine. All ate their fill. Grandpa Liu also returned the engagement gifts of gold and satin.
"Take them, brother," Sagacious urged Li Zhong. "I'm putting this whole matter in your hands."
"That can be arranged," said Li Zhong. "Please stay at our little stronghold a while, brother. Grandpa Liu, you must come too."
The old man had his vassals prepare a sedan-chair for Sagacious Lu. They carried him off with his staff, knife and luggage. Li Zhong rode on horseback. Grandpa Liu went in a smaller sedan-chair. By then the morning was very light.
On reaching the fortress, Lu and the old man got out of their sedan-chairs and Li Zhong dismounted from his horse. The bandit chief left them to the assembly hall and all three took their seats.
Li Zhong summoned Zhou Tong to come forward. When Zhou Tong saw the monk he thought angrily: "Not only don't you avenge me, brother, but you invite him here and give him a seat of honor!"
"Do you know who this monk is, brother?" asked Li Zhong.
"If I knew who he was, maybe I wouldn't have been beaten!"
Li Zhong laughed. "Remember I told you about a man who killed the 'Lord of the West' with three blows of his fist? Well, that's this monk!"
Zhou Tong clutched his head, "Aiya!" he cried. He stepped forward and kowtowed. Sagacious returned his greeting. "Please don't hold our clash against me," said the monk. The three took their seats, but the old man remained standing before them.
"Hear me, Brother Zhou," said Lu. "There are some things you don't know about this match with Grandpa Liu's daughter. She's his only child. He needs her to look after him and carry on the family line. If you take her away in marriage, he'll have no one. In his heart I'm sure he's against that. Give her up as a favor to me and choose another good girl. Here are the gold and satin engagement gifts. What do you say?"
"Since it's you who ask it, brother, I won't enter their gate again."
"A real man never goes back on his word," Sagacious reminded him.
Zhou Tong broke an arrow as a pledge. Grandpa Liu bowed his tanks, returned the gold and satin, and went back down the mountain to his manor.
Li Zhong and Zhou Tong had oxen killed and horses slaughtered and gave a feast. They entertained Sagacious for several days, showing him the scenic spots in the front and rear of the mountain. Peach Blossom Mountain was quite remarkable. Wild and foreboding in appearance, it had steep cliffs on all sides overgrown with tangled grass, and could only be climbed by a single path.
"A good place to defend," said Sagacious.
Within a few days he realized that Li Zhong and Zhou Tong were not very generous, in fact they were rather stingy. He decided to leave. The two did their best to persuade him, but he refused to remain.
"I'm already a monk," he explained. "I can't become a bandit."
"If you insist on leaving, brother," said the bandit chieftains, "we two will go down the mountain tomorrow.
As much as we pick up, we'll give you for your travelling expenses."
The next day pigs and sheep were slaughtered in the stronghold and a farewell feast was laid. When all was in readiness, many gold and silver wine goblets were placed on the table.
Just as the diners were about to sit down and start drinking, a bandit came in and reported: "There are two large carts and about a dozen travellers passing at the foot of the mountain."
Li Zhong and Zhou Tong at once mustered their men, leaving only two to wait on Sagacious and serve him wine. "Brother," said the brigand leaders, "please have a few cups without us. We're going down to collect some riches. We'll join your farewell banquet later." They left instructions with the bandits remaining with Sagacious and went down the mountain at the head of their men.
"What tight-wads," thought Sagacious. "They don't give me any of this mass of gold and silver they've laid out here, but wait until they rob something and present me with that! It doesn't cost them anything. Only travellers on the public road have to suffer. I'm going to throw a scare into those oafs!"
He told the two bandits attending him to pour some wine, and he drank two cups. Suddenly, he jumped to his feet, knocked them down with one blow of the fist each, bound them with his sash, and gagged them with knots of hemp rope. He emptied his rucksack of everything except absolute essentials, then swept the gold and silver vessels from the table, trample them flat, and stuffed them in. He placed the abbot's letter in the bag containing his monk's certificate, which he wore on his chest. Sagacious hung the knife at his waist, took up his staff and left the stronghold with the sack on his head.
At the rear of the mountain he looked down the slope. It was steep and there was no path. "But if I leave by the front path," he thought, "I'm sure to run into those varlets. I'd better roll down here where the grass is thick."
He tied the sack and knife together, dropped them over the side, and tossed the staff down after them. Then he rolled down the slope, tumbling all the way to the foot of the mountain without injury. Sagacious jumped to his feet, found his sack, tied on his knife and picked up his staff. He selected a path and struck out in the direction of the Eastern Capital.
To get back to Li Zhong and Zhou Tong. On the side of the mountain they met the dozen or so travellers. All were armed. The brigand chiefs levelled their lances and their men moved forward. "If you have any sense," yelled the bandits, "shell out and buy yourselves a free passage!"
One of the travellers, brandishing a halberd, rushed Li Zhong. They fought more than ten rounds, back and forth, neither vanquishing the other. Zhou Tong, angered, ran up with a shout, the rest of the bandits following. The travellers couldn't withstand so many. They turned and fled. Some were too slow, and seven or eight were slain. The bandits seized the carts and valuables and slowly returned up the mountain, singing triumphantly.
When they reached the stronghold they found their two mates bound to a pillar. The gold and silver goblets which had been on the table were gone. Zhou Tong untied the two bandits and asked: "Where is Sagacious Lu?"
"He knocked us down and bound us," they replied. "Then he wrapped the vessels and took them all away!"
"That scabby thief is no good," said Zhou Tong. "He's played us dirty! Which way did he go?"
They searched until they found his prints leading to the rear of the mountain. They saw the flattened grass on the slope.
"He's an experienced crook, the scabby donkey," said Zhou Tong. "Rolling down a steep incline like this!"
"Let's catch and question him," Li Zhong proposed. "We'll put the rascal to shame!"
"Forget it," said Zhou Tong. "There's no use locking the door after the thief is gone. Where would we look? Even if we talked to him we wouldn't get our things back. You and I are no match for him in a quarrel, and it would only make things awkward if we ran into him again later on. It's better to drop the whole business. In the future, if we meet, we can pretend nothing has happened. Let's open the packages on the carts. We'll divide the gold and silver and silks into three portions. You and I will each take one. The rest can be split among the men."
"He's stolen a lot of things that belong to you," said Li Zhong. "Since I was the one who brought him here, you take my share too."
"Brother," said Zhou Tong, "we're in this together, live or die. There's no need for petty reckonings between you and me."
Reader, remember this well: From their lair on Peach Blossom Mountain, Li Zhong and Zhou Tong plundered and robbed.
As to Sagacious Lu, when he left the bandit fort he travelled from morning till afternoon, covering fifty or sixty li. He was hungry, but there were no taverns on the road.
"I set out early with no thought but to travel fast," he said to himself. "I haven't had a thing to eat. Where can I find some food?"
He gazed all around. He heard, in the distance, the sound of bells. "Good," he thought. "If it's not a Buddhist monastery, it's a Taoist temple. Those bells are hanging from the eaves and the breeze is making them tinkle. That's the place for me."
If Sagacious hadn't gone there, more than ten lives wouldn't have been lost in the night and a famous ancient landmark on a sacred mountain wouldn't have been consumed in flames. But the result was: Red fire spewed from golden halls, black smoke curled in jade-green temples.
To which holy structures did Sagacious go? Read our next chapter if you would know.
- the Tattooed Monk
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